Friday, December 30, 2011

The Year In Review

NOTE:  This is a pretty long post so if you are coming along for the ride, grab a cuppa your beverage of choice and set a spell while I look at what I did and didn't get to do this year in quilts!  (Yeah, I know, a week in the South will do that to 'ya). 

Well, it's time for me to take a look back at the quilting year soon to be finished.  2011 was a crazy year for me, one where my quilting focus changed constantly.  Despite a swath of sewing, I only ended up completely finishing one quilt for the year, a holiday quilt for display.  As a result the list for next year is already in place and will consist of a lot of stuff worked on or pledged to be worked on this year that I now really want to finish.  So let's look at what transpired in "THE YEAR THAT WAS" (cue important sounding fanfare music).

The Biggest (and non-quilty) News:  We Moved!

At the end of February, my family and I moved to our new townhouse from an apartment in our co-op complex. We had waited four years for the call for an available unit.  Getting it gave my two sons their own rooms and we gained a terrace and dedicated dining room that also allowed for a shared dining, office and quilting space.  Previously I had quilted in one half of the third bedroom of our old apartment (and hence why my sons had to share a bedroom) :
When we moved my quilt space started as this:

But now looks like this:

That is my old machine in the picture, my Janome went in the shop for cleaning shortly before we left last week.

I have mixed feelings about being in the dining room:  on the one hand, because the living room is on the other side of it and my sewing and cutting tables are right next to the main household computer, I am always surrounded by my family and in the thick of the household goings on.  But there are times and projects when I could really use some solitude and a closed door.  Fortunately, I can get that when the rest of the family is out of the house at school and work. 

The Original Plan For the YearUFO Busting!

The year was supposed to be focused on just working on projects of this nature:  all those projects half started or awaiting the transition from being a pile of blocks to becoming a top or waiting to be quilted.  I had even signed up for Myra's PHD (Projects Half Done) Challenge with the full expectation that with six months to focus on them, I would get a lot done.  But the move shattered that dream by completely changing both my focus and available time.  As the year progressed, I pushed myself way off course so many times during the year, that while I did do some significant work on one UFO, I completely failed to meet this goal.  The list that started the year included:

UGRR/Pioneer Project
Brrr! Park
Crumb Quilt #1
Boy's Blue Lagoons
Striped Squares
Blue & White Dresdens

Pictures of all of them can be seen in this post.  Additionally, I also planned to quilt a top called "Flowing Silk" that was to be donated to the BASICS quilt gather. In the end, the only project worked on at all was the UGRR/Pioneer Project.  The blocks which had been finished in 2010, were pieced into tops and are layered awaiting quilting.

Fortunately Myra is running a six month continuation of last year's challenge at the start of 2012 so I definitely will participate with the hope that I can try again to tackle these for the first half of 2012 with better results!

 Also In the Original Plan:  Working On BOMs!

While the main focus of  the year was supposed to be UFOs, there was a set of "new" projects I wanted to keep up to date and that was the Block of the Month Projects I had signed up for in the last quarter of 2010.  I had three:

Aunt Grace Circle of Friends
Civil War Chronicles
Jan Patek House & Garden   

Of these, only the Aunt Grace is currently a top waiting for quilting.

The Chronicles blocks are complete up to the eleventh month.

Completion of the top will be delayed until February when the BOM organizer, Homestead Hearth, receives their fabric order for the last set of border blocks.  I had hoped to start the Jan Patek BOM while I was away for the holidays but it looks like it will now be a HSY (pronounced "Hussy" and stands for "Haven't Started Yet") in 2012 instead.

Expansion Of the Year's Planthe Civil War Series!

2011 was the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War and there were a lot of interesting documentaries and specials on the topic on TV.  I also read books on the period like "Uncle Tom's Cabin", "Red Badge of Courage" and the "Sugar Camp Quilt" and "Union Quilters" from Jennifer Chivarini's "Elm Creek Quilts" series.  When I realized I had projects in the previous two categories that were both made from CW reproduction fabrics and a HSY project with the same fabric theme, I decided to expand my project list to include this series of quilts.  So in this corner we have the layered UGRR/Pioneer project in the UFOs and the Chronicles BOM.

Barbara Brackman, the noted quilt historian, debuted her Weekly Civil War Quilt block series at the start of the year. I quickly realized this was a perfect opportunity to use up my scraps.  I had hoped to work on them using the leftover fabrics from the Chronicles blocks and the remaining stash after the UGRR/Pioneer tops were finished.  But then I also realized that I had one other CW project that I had long awaited starting:  my Merrimac Dresdens.  I had already raided the stash for that project for a few pieces for the UGRR/Pioneer project so I figured that actually making it would also clear that stash AND provide even more fodder for the Brackman project.  Here is the finished Merrimac top:

I plan to finally start working on the Brackman blocks either on New Year's Day or shortly thereafter.  Fortunately, the block patterns will be up on her blog until July, 2012.

Somewhat Sidetracked By Some HSYs!

Although the year's focus was to clean out UFOs, another concern was to also reduce the pile of HSYs .  These are projects that I had already purchased all the fabrics for and sit in bags or bins waiting to be started.  The UFO plan had started in anticipation of moving and not wanting to have to pay to move so much fabric.  But when the moving plan went into effect a lot sooner than expected and then we actually moved, the realization was that now I needed to pare down to have space for all the stuff I had!  The HSYs worked on this year were:

Merrimac Dresdens (which you saw before) and Safari Stars

Both tops are done and now awaiting quilting although I assure you there are many more where those came from!

The Unexpected:  A Rash of New Projects!

As noted before, the year was supposed to be devoted to clearing out UFOs and HSYs.  But the move generated so many new opportunities and reasons to display quilts and new ideas for quilts are always percolating so it is hard to resist them when they come due!  The new projects were:

Valor (a Pat Sloan design)

Floribunda (a Bonnie Hunter antique reproduction and Quilt-A-Long project)

Crumb Houses (For a Quilt Along led by Jo of Jo's Country Junction)

Anita's Arrowhead (A Holiday Quilt)

Anita's Arrowhead became "All Spruced Up" in tribute to the backing fabric and the fact that it is the first new quilt made for display in our new home.  It is also the only finish for the year.  The Crumb Houses are still underway but Valor and Floribunda are tops that will be quilted next year.

So 2011 wound up being a lot like like 2009 when I worked on sixteen projects during the year with only five getting completely done and another six getting completed the next year (and some of those that were not completed then are still on the UFO list now).  Lets hope that 2012 will be more like 2010, a big finishing  year!

Wishing You and Yours a Joyous and Prosperous New Year!  See you in 2012!!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

The Good News and The Bad News

Hello from North Carolina!!  The Good News is that the Anita's Arrowhead project is now my first (and only) complete finish for 2011!!

I had gotten it assembled, layered and half quilted before we left New York last Saturday.  It is a requirement when I visit my MIL to bring a project to work on.  Starting Monday (after hitting some of the after-Christmas sales) we were able to get in some quilt time.  In the days following, I finished the quilting, cut and attached the binding and got up early and finished sewing it on this morning.  Now that it's finished, its "given name" will be "All Spruced Up" after the backing fabric and purpose: to decorate my couch during the holidays!

This was a good project to make my way back into stitching my quilts.  I did it in an allover swirl pattern and the busy fabrics hide a lot of sins.  In fact, excuse any pins you see in the picture, those are spots I need to re-do some skipped stitches.  And I really fudged up my binding corners but for a to-be-seen-once-a-year quilt, it will have to do!  I am happy that at one point I did find my free motion groove and know what I need to do and focus on in the future.  And I am grateful for all the tops I made this year because they will provide me with steady flow of practice tops for 2012!

So the finish is good news but before we left there was some Bad News:  The Chronciles BOM will NOT be a flimsie for 2011 as hoped.  I got word before we left from Homestead Hearth (the organizer of my BOM) that their supplier of the fabric for the BOM has to do a REPRINT of the red fabric used for the border blocks in order to fufill their order.  They are going to be sending out some of the fabric to get the blocks started but won't get the rest to us until FEBRUARY! 

Ooh boy!  I was already worried about getting the blocks done (have I mentioned that it is sixty-eight blocks?!?).  On the other hand, this means I can A) Take my time and work on getting the center constructed and B) get maybe a little less than half the blocks done and then finish the rest when the rest of the fabric gets in.  But I am disappointed in not having this flimsy in the can for this year and not meeting my BOM goal for the year either.

We will be leaving NC early Friday morning so expect to be back in New York by that afternoon.  My hope is to get a "Year In Review" post up before we ring in 2012.  I hope everyone enjoyed their holiday and are looking forward to celebrating the New Year!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

2012 UFO Challenges

Challenge #1: Continuing the PHDs

I have already made my lists for 2012 and now is the time to commit.  This year I participated in Myra's PHD (Projects Half Done) Challenge.  I am sad to say that I did not get anything completed although my UGRR/Pioneer Sampler project got as far as being layered and I doubt that would have happened without the challenge.

The good news for me is that many of Myra's participants are in the same boat so rather than starting a new challenge Myra is extending the challenge for the first six months of 2012 so that participants can try again to complete the things they had listed for this year. My original list of six projects is here and that works out great because that gives me one project a month to commit to working on.  This year, without a move to deal with and all the new ideas for quilts that come with it, maybe I can settle in and focus on what I already have in house.

Challenge #2:  Judy's Patchwork Times UFO Challenge

Judy is repeating her UFO Challenge for 2012 and I've decided to join in.  There were projects I had expected to get to once I had completed the PHD challenge and there were a bunch of new projects I made tops for during this year.  So Judy's challenge is great for me.  I also like the additional challenge of having to work on whatever project she calls for that month--the choice of project is out of my hands. I will admit that there have been times where I've avoided working on something because I couldn't decide on what to work on so this will eliminate that problem.  Here's my list for Judy's challenge:

1.  Autumn DWR - Piecing needs to be finished.

2. Floribunda - Needs To be Quilted

3.  Merrimac Dresdens - Needs To be Quilted

4. Chronicles BOM - Hopefully this BOM will be a top before the end of 2011 (I am still waiting for the last kit for the border blocks to arrive) and then it will need to be quilted

5. Safari Stars/WAK Triptych - Two companion projects, the first (pictured) needs to be quilted and the second to be photo transferred and pieced

6. Pulpit Tile - An old UFO that I need a push to quilt (and need to get a picture of)

7. Aunt Grace Circle of Friends BOM - Needs To be Quilted

 8. Bouncing Colorblocks - A swap quilt that needs to be quilted
9. Sage Sampler - This one almost made the PHD list; still needs piecing

10. Brrr! Park - Layered, Needs To be Quilted (and need a picture of)

11.  Civil War BOW Sampler - Now that all my other CW projects are pieced, I'm hoping to finally use all the scraps to get these made up since the blocks will only be up on the site until July.  Needs to be pieced.

12. Jan Patek House & Garden BOM - The last of the 2011 BOMs I participated in.  I hope to start it while I am traveling over the next week.  Needs to be appliqued.

And just to add a little more spice to the pot, a few other priorities are to get my Crumbs blocks finished for Jo's Crumb Along reveal at the end of January, make good on the promise to contribute two quilts to the BASICS quilt gather, quilt a finished top for Memorial Day/Fourth of July display and piece and quilt a Halloween quilt. In the end, whatever I get done, however few or many, is a blessing!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Getting Down To The Wire.....

Woo Hoo, all the Anita's Arrowhead blocks are now done!  I finished sewing the last row of blocks today.  So this pile....

....became this top.

The backing and binding fabric is already in house (picture below) and I have a ton of batting so I just need to decide what I will use for this.

This looks like it will be the first and ONLY complete finish for this year.  It is definitely the first one I am ready to quilt with no fears or trepidation.  It's for holiday display on the the back of the couch and busy enough that an all over design or maybe even stippling will be in order, simple to do, simple to finish.  O.k. hoping that's not going to be famous last words......

More on this later you can bet!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

An Important Milestone (For Me) Has Been Reached!!

The Civil War Chronicles Month 11 Blocks are done!

And here are all the accumulated blocks.

I am finally up to date and am now waiting for the last month's set -- the sixty-eight (yes, 68!!) border blocks.  The goal is to get this top done by the end of year.  The debate is whether that will happen before we go away next weekend (since I am also trying to finish up the Anita's Arrowhead Xmas quilt blocks) or if I will be taking this one with me to finish the construction while away.  We will see, what we will see........

Either way I am happy to have gotten this far with it.  I'll say it again, thank god for Quilt-Pro Triangle Magic Software and the Quilt In A Day Flying Geese Rulers.  They rock and I couldn't have done it without them!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Another One Bites the Dust.....

The Month 10 blocks for the Civil War Chronicles BOM are now finished:

Although not without mishaps along the way that had to be corrected......

Now there is only one more month in house (Month 11) to be completed and I am reviewing what I need to do for those blocks.  The last month's blocks should arrive either this week or early next week.  Given that there are sixty-eight border blocks to be made, I hope it comes early this week.

In the meantime, I am also still working on the Anita's Arrowhead blocks and now have twelve blocks done.

Hopefully you got a lot done this weekend too (quilty or holiday-wise)!


If you are a big fan of Judy Laquidara over at the Patchwork Times blog, know that she is currently taking pre-orders for her new book, "60 Pieced Quilt Borders – Mix & Match" to be released in mid January by AQS Publishing.  You can read about it on her post here or put in your pre-order here.  I've already ordered mine!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Back In the Saddle Again.....

I took a much longer break than I expected to after the Thanksgiving holiday.  Of course, this puts me behind again but as always it's about doing what you can and moving on and eventually you get where you need to go.

As of today, Month 9 of the Civil War Chronicles BOM is now done.

This is the last of the months that call for only four blocks.  Months ten and eleven both need eight blocks each.  And after reading another blog, Mary's at Hill Country Quilter, who is also doing this BOM, it looks like the last month will be the border blocks -- a whopping SIXTY-EIGHT BLOCKS!!  I'm sure they are small but, whew!  It is going to be a challenge to get them finished either before we leave to go down South for Christmas or by the end of the year (since if I need to, I can take my sewing machine to my MIL's house and also sew there).  The last month's kit has not arrived yet so I'm just going to focus on finishing what is already here rather than worrying about what is coming!

I also started yet another new project (I know, I know):  I am doing the Brown and Aqua version of "Anita's Arrowhead" that appeared in the Nov/Dec 2010 issue of Quiltmaker magazine.  I got the kit on sale at the new kit discount site which sells closeouts of Keepsake Quilting, Fons & Porter's Love of Quilting, McCalls Quilting and Quiltmaker Magazine kits.

These are the blocks I have so far.  I wanted a Christmas couch quilt and the colors (christmas colors + brown) are perfect for our couch.  As always, I thought it would be a quickie but now I am not so sure since the seams are all pressed open for the blocks which is harder to line up the intersections (and these blocks have many) than when you can press opposing seams to one side.  I'm hoping I can get a few done each day and wrap this up over the next week or so.

My biggest disappointment over the last few weeks is that I didn't make the Thanksgiving week deadline for the BASICS December quilt drive.  Which is sad since I already had a top ready, all it needed was to be quilted.  I've been procrastinating really bad about quilting my tops and now have so many projects just needing that last step.  But I plan to address that issue shortly.  On the other hand, I've now made a promise to myself to make two quilts to donate for their final 200 quilt drive.

I've got a class trip with DS2's middle school eighth grade tomorrow.  We are going to the new CSI exhibit at the Discovery Museum in Times Square. I hope I won't be too worn out to sew when I get back.  Have a good evening because I'm off to bed!