Rest & Relaxation

I took a couple days off last week.  I needed the break.  I had no plans and that's exactly what I did.  I even managed to forget the one important thing I needed to do, and I have no regret.  

I spent my time watching television and quilting.  I got a lot done on the hand quilted Cmas quilt.  It's really starting to get some dimension.  I'm loving where the circles intersect and am thinking about some fun bit of quilting for those little spots.  I quilt the first circle as a circle and when I've done four, I quilt the next two echo lines as curvy squares.  

I haven't shown this whole quilt in a while.  Here's a shot of it.  It's all hand pieced and quilted.  I started it when I used to do things like that.  It was unfinsished for many years and I pulled it out in late 2019 or early 2020 to finish it.  I completely changed the layout and got it assembled and sandwiched and basted and started the quilting and then it sat in the frame for another year.  And, because my hands hurt today, it will likely get put down again for a while.  We have a bajillion Cmas quilts, so we needed one more.  Actually, we better need two more because I have a kit I ordered several years ago that I'd like to make.  One day.  But, it won't be hand pieced or quilted.  

Rob saw a picture of a hexagon quilt yesterday.  He reminded me that I have a hexagon quilt started.  I ducked my head down into my collar in shame.  I'm not sure where it is.  He hit the nail on the head, tho.  It started out as something simple and then it turned into something else.  Something huge.  Once again, my ambitions exceeded my attention span.  

My unseasonal daylily bloomed.  It was very fun to have a daylily bloom this late in the year.  I kept paying attention to it, afraid the blooms would wilt before they opened.  But, they didn't and even though it's hot as hades out there, they didn't fade during the day.  

I grew this in the greenhouse.  I was weeding one day and accidentally pulled a tiny Gerber daisy baby.  I potted it and kept it watered and now it's blooming.  None of my other Gerbers are blooming so I'm really enjoying this one.  

We started calling this the beanstalk.  I was afraid Rob was going to climb it and try to steal the goose and harp.  It's a volunteer.  I had several come up in the garden and lawn and I dug the ones from the lawn and moved them into the garden.  They were so cute.  And, this one grew and grew and grew and grew.  It was just short of 7' tall when I cut it down the other day and was shading other plants and preventing them from blooming.  I pulled another one that was shading a rose bush.  I don't know if they're going to bloom, but they won't get a chance if they all grow this big.  

It's butterfly season here.  I haven't gotten many in the past, but they're all over this year.  I get pics of as many as I can.  

Y'all know I love my sweets.  When I had those days off, I baked the pineapple upside down cake and yesterday, I made two cobblers.  One went down the disposal.  New recipe that had too much sugar in it and the dough wouldn't get solid.  It just kept bubbling up and growing larger than the pan.  Where it dripped it turned into something hard, like candy when it cooled.  So, I poured that one out and started again with my old recipe.  

That's it for me today.  I'm over work.  I'm ready to retire, but retirement is a long way off.

Well, not that long.

Everybody have a great week!  Take some time for yourself and take some time to do something you really want to do, even if that's nothing but sitting and quilting.  



Corner three

I act like I've done something big, but these corners aren't that big and I had last Friday off, so should have finished the last two, at least.  But, I'm not devoting as much time to quilting anymore.  I used to get up and quilt for an hour every morning before work.  Now, I exercise in the mornings.  I used to quilt all weekend.  Now, I'm baking bread, working in the garden and working on my other hobbies.  And, I've gotten older and slowed down just the tiniest bit, and things take longer than they used to and some of them require a short rest after.  

Friday morning, I was determined not spend the day doing chores, so I hand quilted all morning and machine quilted all afternoon.  By time I'd quilted this corner and tied all the knots, I'd been sitting at the machine 4 hours.  I'm really enjoying these corners and the mixture of background filler patterns.  It takes some focus to keep everything sized correctly and to do all I can not to get trapped and have to break the thread.  

I don't use a lot of solid black and didn't anticipate the amount of lint.  There's a lot of lint from the wool batting and then just everyday lint from being in my studio.  I didn't run the lint brush over the first corner and have lived to regret it.  When I did, I found that I'd sewn over the lint and quilted it to the background and I've been going back with tweezers to pull it out.  Learned from that tho, and have been lint brushing before and during the quilting of the remaining corners.  I will be happy when I am done.  I'm ready to quilt something else.  Anything else. 

Dot, you asked about my gloves a couple weeks ago.  I use a Fons and Porter glove and I'm pretty sure I have the first pair I bought, about 14 years ago, and even though they're dirty, they still fit and work just fine.  I've bought a couple new pair in those years, and have never been disappointed.  Each size is a different color.  I tried Machingers and the rubber came off after about a year.  

I've been neglecting Ruby McKim's Flower Garden.  And while I did, the worst happened...I got distracted by Barbara Brackman's Material Culture.  She's running flower appliqué blocks on a dark background and they have more detail that Ruby's.  I'm sure that I'm not going to stop one flower quilt and pick up another.  But, it did decrease my satisfaction.  While I've been hand quilting, I've been feeling guilty about not working on it for so long and having trouble deciding whether to put the hand quilting aside and get to a flower block.  But, I know what happens when I put hand quilting to the side.  It takes me a year to pick it up again.  

I finished the straight lines and have started quilting the circles.  The straight lines went pretty fast, but the circles go even faster and I'm racing through them.  Unfortunately, I have no plan for the plain squares or the borders. 

Out in the garden, I have a daylily that's going to bloom.  It is VERY out of season.  I can't wait to see what it is and what it does. 

I found another green zinnia.  I wish more of these had come up, but I don't know where they'd be.  The garden is packed this year and I'm having to cut things back to make room.   I've been pulling stuff up and potting it, some to give away and some to use in other places.  

I saw this butterfly in the garden.  It's wings were moving like a hummingbird and I had to chase it across the yard to get a good picture.  I ended up just clicking as fast as the phone would go and finally got one of it pausing.  Then, I had a ton of pictures to delete, some of which didn't even have the butterfly in them.  (Yes, I'm sure that me running across the yard after an insect was amusing.  Sorry you missed it (not sorry))

Everybody have a great week.  I'll be enjoying Mothers Best Fudge Cake from the 50's edition of the Better Homes and Gardens cookbook.  The recipe said two 9" pans and I baked it in four 6" pans and put two layers in the freezer for later.  An eighth of a small cake is perfect.  More chocolate than that in the evening and I'd be awake all night.  



It's not like nothing happened...

I just didn't take any pictures of it.  I think I spent most of it wondering 'where's my phone'?

After we washed and sealed the deck this weekend, I spent the afternoons inside.  I got another corner quilted on the arc quilt.  This is one of the corners with two circles full of circles.  The diagonally opposite corner also has two.  The other corners will each have one, all of them off-center.  The circles were already there and I spent four hours filling in around them and tying all the knots.  I lost count at about 25, just in that corner.  I wasn't doing a good job of looking ahead and caught myself in a couple if tight spots where the only way out was to cut the thread and move the quilt.  It's okay tho.  It's not a contest to see who can do the longest line of continuous background filler.  If you notice, I stayed a little more off that temporary line of quilting this time.  I let that puff up along the edge.  When I take out the temp line of quilting and put in the new one, I'll fill in around the edges where I need to.  I'm doing my best to work from the center out so I push all the extra fabric outward to the edge.  It doesn't sound like a big deal, but it sure makes a lot of difference in getting a square quilt when I'm quilting on my domestic machine.  

Remember I said I needed to keep my filler in the same scale, and that's hard when you're only sitting down to quilt once a week.  Last week, I showed how my filler had gotten too tight.  This week, when I sat down, it got away from me and started out too large.  I had the first side sitting on top near my left hand, so was able to see it quickly and decreased the size.  I'll fill in some of the larger spaces here.  A couple pop out at me.  It's a mistake, but I've learned to let those little mistakes sit until the quilt is finished and only fix the ones I can still see after that.  You'd be surprised how many will just disappear into the background of the other quilting, and leaving them behind sure saves time.  I can see a lot of mistakes this close up, but from farther away?  Not so much.  

I'm quilting with black thread on a black background using white or green chalk to mark with.  I have trouble seeing where I'm going, especially when I'm quilting toward me.  I need a lot of light.  I thought I'd show my setup for this quilt.  It varies, depending on where I need a lamp and how easily I can see my work.   The blue gooseneck lamp in the back (sorry, you can't see the goose neck, but it's there) casts a shadow across the quilt.  Sometimes, when I can't see the thread, I can see the shadow cast by the quilting.  When it's hanging in a show, it will be downlit and this gives me an approximation of that.  The brown architect's lamp on the left is sometimes up near my face and gives me a puddle of light so I can see the work, and sometimes down near the surface to give me a different kind of shadow.  And, the sewing machine bulb shines straight down on the work.  I like a halogen bulb for the brightness, but have learned they get too hot and burn out too quickly in that little space in the machine, so am looking for an LED version.  

I took a pic of me going out to walk the other morning.  No, 59 year olds don't run, at least this one doesn't.  We walk as fast as we can.  I do a mile and a half right after yoga and another almost a mile with the dogs just before breakfast.  I'll be glad when the weather cools off and I don't have to pile those on top of one another like that.  

Syd came for dinner last Friday.  We had such a nice visit.  I planned grilled chops but the grill ran out of gas, so I smothered them instead.  It was delicious and unhealthy and eating like that is part of why I'm walking almost 2.5 miles a day.  It's so nice to sit with her and listen to her stories.  I'm so happy and proud of the relationship we have with her.  If we were judgey or tried to tell her what to do, we wouldn't see her nearly as often and I'm so proud of the way we can give advice and feedback and keep it positive.  I wish I'd been able to do a lot more of that when she was younger and lived with us.  But, we do what we can do, right?  And, when we can do better, we do that too.  I think that's what life is supposed to be about.  Not beating myself up for not doing it perfect right off the bat, but instead letting myself learn and improve and being good with that.  

Everybody have a great week!  I griped about something at work and my boss handled it perfect.  He sent me off to do a research project on it.  I'll come back with proof I'm right.  Or, it will change my mind about how it works.  Either way, I'm good.  And, eating a little crow now and then doesn't hurt me.



Because some weeks, it's all about the work

 Last week feels like a blur.  So much nothing happened for me to have been so busy.  

It's getting hot and the heat leaves me drained, so I don't stay out in it much.  It's cool and breezy early in the mornings and I get things done, but by 10:30, it's time for a shower and inside chores.  That's supposed to leave time for quilting.  But, I didn't get much done.  I sat down with big ambitions on Saturday afternoon but I only got a little bit filled in the corner I'd already started and then I tied about 30 knots and buried them.  I only had time for a bit more before it was time to think about dinner.  Here's the finished corner.  There's one thread left hanging.  I couldn't find the bobbin thread and moved past it.  I'll need to knot and bury the top thread, even if I can't find the bobbin thread to go with it.  Burying the top thread should be enough to keep both from raveling.  

I"ve moved into one of the corners that has two of the circles full of circles, so there'll be less space to fill on that one.  Look below the circle in the picture above.  The quilting is much denser.  That's what I was talking about building muscle memory so I can repeat the same filler.  It will be okay in that little spot, but I'll have to be more careful in the next corner to keep my filler more open and larger scale so it will match what's at the beginning.

I found some time to hand quilt.  I should be working on something else.  A bit of a surprise that I've been working on but instead, I've been hand quilting.  The little Christmas quilt is starting to get some texture.   There are 21 circles and I'm going to quilt them all with the same horizontal/vertical pattern, then do some diagonal work between them to connect the blocks.  Or, I'll outline them with expanding circles.  Haven't decided yet and for now, I don't have to.  I think I'm 10 blocks done so far.  I quilt at the speed of about 1/100th of a mile per hour.

I'm not going for the tiniest of stitches, but I am shooting for as much consistency as I can muster.  

I've built up quite the quilter's callous.  Anybody remember Marge Simpson's callous?  She could hold a lighter under it and didn't burn.  She could also throw a needle and thread in the air and they'd thread and fall back into her hands...if only I could draw myself threading needles instead of having to find the eye and get the thread through it. The other night, I sat for a several minutes, cursing the needle and thread in my hand and then I got my new fancy needle threader and tried...and then I realized I was trying to thread the wrong end.  Rob got a big laugh out of that.  My callous...it will get worse before this quilt is done.  

Because we had heavy rains last week, the garden is still looking good, but with no rain in the forecast for this week, it's going to start to melt.  And, no amount of me standing out there with a hose will change that.  As I was pulling weeds, I got a good look at the sunny spot of the garden, where it's all green.  But, it's not boring green.  It's green and blue green and silver green and light and shadow green.  

It makes me want to make a quilt out of all green scraps, with all the variety that would come out of my drawer full of green scraps from 20 years of projects.  

Weeds - plants I planted in one place and they volunteered in another where I don't want them so I pot them up and give them away.  I can't seem to make myself throw them in the composter.  Except the poke salad.  That poke bush up the hill was allowed to come to full bloom and seed last year and I've had them come up all over my yard.  I noticed this year that it didn't come back in the original place, and that's good, but if I'm seeing this many, then they're likely all over the neighborhood.  One man's trash is not always another man's garden treasure.

Last week, I turned in a project I've been babysitting for almost two years. And, I managed to make the numbers tell the story I wanted to tell.  This week, I'll be defending my results.  And, then they'll get shared with other teams.  My peers sometimes get jealous that I have so many projects, but they forget that the way I got assigned to all those projects was by saying yes when asked and then turning out credible, well thought out results.  And, I've spent my share of time being wrong.  Not everyone can stand being wrong.  When I'm wrong, I think about my seam ripper and how easy it is to make things right again.

Everybody have a great week!  Do something you enjoy, even I fit gives you a callous.  Lane


Filling time

I was in a quilting mood again this weekend.  I got a good bit done on the hand quilting project, but not enough to brag about.  I did make good progress on the arc quilt.  I almost filled a corner.  For as little space as I covered, it sure took a long time.  I drew the circle filled with circles a few weeks ago and had put a few of them into the corners.  Two diagonally opposite corners will each have one of those and the other two diagonal corners will each have two.  Then, the background filled with filler.  I knew sort of what I had in mind, but not specifically, so I sat down with a good book (Stitching Pathways by Wendy Sheppard.). I picked a couple things I liked and got inspired by some of her work combining shapes to fill a background and this is what I came up with.  The corners are more work than I can do in a day, and I knew I had to do enough of it to build some muscle memory so I'd be able to do the same thing after stepping away from it for a bit.  But, even so, I'll push through these corners as quick as I can.  I learned this several years ago that I started, walked away from, and when I came back, I couldn't re-create the original filler.  I got done and looked back and there was a line where you could see one fill pattern and on the other side, another.  If I remember right, I picked the first part out to make it look like the second.  Lots of unnecessary work.  

I've still got that little bit under the circles and a little around the edges.  Near the edge, there's a line of quilting.  This is temporary.  I find that when I fill my quilts with small filler, I have to start at the center and work my way out.  If I don't, I end up with a puff of fabric along the line where fill meets other work.  That puff will end up looking like a pucker, and maybe even create one on the back.   To combat that, I'll put in a marking line on the outermost edge and quilt up to it, then pick that line out and continue quilting to the edge.  

Suzanne asked about burying knots last week.  I do bury all my knots.  Once in a while, I'll have a day where all the quilting I do is burying knots.  First, I try not to create any more knots than I have to.  Looking at an intersection on the arc quilt, you'll see that I put in 7 lines of echo quilting.  If I stopped and started at each end, that would be 14 knots.  To avoid that, I'll quilt up to the "turn", travel along the existing line, and then quilt backward to create the second line.  The edge line I was working on here is one echo past the string of pearls.  I would quilt to that line, move right a quarter-ish inch, then go backward.  Quilting by pulling the fabric toward you takes some practice.  But, if you spend the time learning it, it can be a real timesaver in a lot of situations.  

Up this close, you can see some errors in the pearls and the echo.  My thoughts on that are if you can see that, then it means I haven't put enough quilting in the quilt yet.  Most errors will not be seen by the average viewer if you overwhelm them with other quilting.  Even judges forgive mistakes if there's enough good quilting to hide it.

To bury my knots, I tie a simple knot in the thread and use the point of the needle to slide that knot down to within a quarter inch of where the thread comes out of the fabric, then I load it into a self threading needle and pull it through.  I use 100wt silk thread on most of my quilts.  Because it's so fine, you can't see where I travel over a line, but don't travel over the same spot more than once or it will start to show because each time over the same spot builds thread weight.  The heavier it is, the easier it is to see.  

With the hundred weight in the top and 50 weight in the bottom, I have to tie two knots that end up in the same space to create a knot that is big enough to stay tucked under the top fabric.  If there's a stop and start in the same place, I can tie all four threads into one simple knot and bury it.  I insert the need into the quilt sandwich, travel under the quilt top for a quarter to a half inch, then pull the thread taut and pop the knot under the top layer of fabric.  Then, I can cut the tail where the needle came out and the thread tail is buried forever.  It can be hard to get the knot to pop under, especially in a pieced seam intersection, but I find that my thumbnail right up against the knot where it's going into the fabric does the trick.  I don't know why, but it has something to do with the tension created by the thumbnail.  

Once the corners are filled, I'll put in the same echo work that I did around the arcs, all the way to the beginning of the border, then I'll quilt all the lines of those little narrow points to finish the border.  Definitely a black binding.  I'm looking forward to that.  I think I started this quilt in 2018 and I will be glad to see it done.  It's not my style and I did it because I thought it would do well in shows.  That's not why I quilt, and I learned that for me, my quilting has to be what I enjoy, or finishing it ends up feeling like a chore, not a joy.  It's lovely.  It will likely compete well.  But, I'm ready for something else.  A pattern less "rigid".  Something done, just to enjoy.

A little yellow and purple combo in the garden.  Not planned, just a happy coincidence that they were both blooming so well together.  

And, a green zinnia.  I planted a whole packet of seed last year and this is the only one that I've seen come up and bloom.  Of course, green isn't what I need more of, but it's still a fun and unusual flower, and I enjoy that.  

I've started digging things up to get ready for the new fence in a few weeks.  These elephant ears were in my shadiest spot and thrived for years.  The freeze took out all but these two and their spot became sunny when we cut back trees last year, so they were an easy choice to dig up and pot for the duration.  And, now they're in some shade, they're recovering nicely.  

And, the last pic is something to make your mouth water.  Yesterday, I made a banana pudding.  And, yes, it was as delicious as it looks.  Mmmmm.  This will not do my diet any good.

Everybody have a great week.  Find something you enjoy and enjoy it.  Make time for yourself.