Tuesday, April 27, 2010

I've got mail!

Thank you ladies! I'm racing my daughter to the mailbox these days because the postman is delivering more than bills and junk mail :)

These lovelies arrived Thursday from Mary (Stash Heaven). That magazine seriously interfered with my preparations for taking 7 Brownie Girl Scouts to camp, but I was more disciplined on Friday and left for camp fairly well-rested and well-prepared on Saturday morning.

Ann's (A Good Yarn's) beautiful blocks and goodies arrived Saturday after I left (good timing, those Brownies would have been disappointed to delay their departure while I leafed through this magazine too...). As it was, the package was a lovely surprise when I came home Sunday afternoon after a mostly sleepless night. The chocolates are a wonderful restorative.

Monday the postman had a little trouble fitting everything in the mailbox but he persevered. When my daughter beat me to the mailbox she did a little happy dance and presented me with three packages. (The rest of these pictures insisted on loading sideways. I have no idea why, but they will have to do.)

These bright blocks and goodies came from Liri at Liriopia's Legacy. Her embroidered block is superb, and the back looks just as tidy as the front. When it slipped out of the package I didn't realize right away that it was wrong side up and I puzzled a bit over what "AWOI" stood for... Then I turned it over and was even more impressed with the right side, plus the letters now made sense!
Marsha of Grandma's Quilts sent these pretty blocks and the quilted ornament. I'm saving it for my Christmas tree, and borrowing the idea for 2010's ornament. We add a new batch of homemade ornaments each year, and though the tree is getting awfully full and I'm running out of ideas I've been told the tradition has to continue. Thanks for the inspiration Marsha!

Kathleen (Seventh Sister) has an impressive variety of fabric styles in her stash and shared some bits with me along with her cheerful blocks. It's nice to increase my pitiful stash of scraps - I may manage a scrap quilt eventually!

Today I found Christine's package before getting the kids at school. I managed to restrain myself and leave it in the mailbox so that 1) I wouldn't be late to pick up the kids and 2) my daughter wouldn't know I sometimes sneak to the mailbox while she's at school (mailbox checking is supposed to be her special privilege). She doesn't notice a few extra bill envelopes on my desk, but she will notice a couple of new swap blocks on the wall!

Here are Christine's blocks - one showcasing her bright fabrics, and another from her Civil War reproduction stash.

Now that over half my blocks have arrived I've started playing with them:

Sashing? No sashing? On point? Hmm. I'll need to keep pondering. Whatever the setting, this quilt will have a much greater variety of fabric than I'd ever have chosen on my own, and that makes it just plain fun!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Decisions, decisions...

I bought this charm pack (Me and My Sister Favorites from moda) on impulse thinking it would make a lovely spring and summer throw. Oddly enough I was thinking along the lines of snowball blocks, but it's just a name right? It doesn't mean I'm pining for snow again already!

A double dose of second thoughts kicked when I got home. First, there just isn't enough fabric there for a throw. Second, I'm currently hand quilting two tops, have a third in line, and all the fabric cut up and partially pieced for a fourth, not to mention the swap blocks coming my way. Do I really want another top in the queue? I'm getting a bit discouraged as it is about the patiently waiting tops pile.

So, I changed gears and decided on another table runner. I have another gift occasion coming up and this will do nicely. Of course the decisions didn't end there. What pattern? I spent a week musing, made a firm decision, then the next week I started waffling again. Perhaps rows of flying geese instead? Actually, that would look great in these fabrics...but I went back to my original decision and promptly cut fabric before I could change my mind again.

The block is from the quilt "Kansas Dugout" by Nancy Brenan Daniel in the book "Creative Scraps: Quilting with Bits and Pieces".

The blocks came together very quickly. But wait, I still have decisions to make! I need opinions please! Should I make the runner version, or the square table topper/centerpiece instead? Either way I'm thinking of a thin white inner border then a wider border in similar fabrics.

I do have one small finish from the past couple of weeks. I quilted and bound the table runner I showed last time, all the while hating it. The binding really pulled it together though. It's now on my coffee table and it really belongs there. I'm going to have a tough time giving it away after all!

Friday, April 9, 2010

Satisfying the piecing bug

I have a backlog of quilt tops to quilt and finish. It isn't a very large number, but since I handquilt anything larger than a table runner, and I'm slow at it, I've got enough to keep me busy through the end of the year. I really shouldn't add to the backlog or I'll never catch up.

So, what can I do when the urge to piece something strikes? Table toppers and runners! They're small. I can manage to machine quilt them on my small machine on my small work surface. I get the satisfaction of a finish fairly quickly.

This one is a gift. It's not quite in my taste, but it is in the recipient's so I'll try to get it quilted and bound in the next week or so. I'm thinking of a pieced binding in the teal/blue fabrics. Who knows? Perhaps with the binding on it will appeal to me more. Binding transforms some quilts.

This one is for me, made with the extra swap blocks I made. I just had to have some of the blue for me! It also still needs to be quilted and bound this week.
And coming soon, I'll be adding another flimsy to the queue after all. My first beautiful set of swap blocks came this week, along with a few extra goodies.
Thanks, Katie! The pincushion is in use with my quilting needles already, and there isn't much of that chocolate left. For the record, my husband was very disappointed. I'm usually not a huge fan of milk chocolate, so he figured he'd get most of it. Well, this Milka is not your run of the mill milk chocolate. It's mine, all mine! Well, I shared a tiny piece so he'd know why he wasn't getting the rest :)

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Not much quilting going on

I've been distracted by the sudden disappearance of the snow and the emergence of these

followed by these

Now that the sun is out again and the spring bulbs are blooming I'm starting to get excited about planning plantings. I have a tricky spot that is mostly in light shade except from noon-2 pm when it is subjected to blazing sun in the summer. If anyone with more gardening experience has any plant suggestion for shrubs, perennials or annuals that can live with that, please share! (I'm in mid-Iowa, what hardiness zone is that? 5?) It's still too early to plant, but I'm planning...and in the meantime I'm tidying up other parts of the yard, seeding a few bare patches in the lawn and putting in some brick borders in a few places. Now is a perfect time to do it. It isn't too hot yet and the biting bugs aren't out and swarming.

Sometime in the evenings when it's too dark to putter outside I'll be making a table runner with these fabrics. The blue is actually more teal or turquoise than it looks in the photo. Browns aren't really my thing, but I think the gift's recipient likes them so I'm stretching a bit.

These fabrics are also a very good illustration of why I'll probably never have much of a stash. I went ahead and chose these fabrics without a pattern in mind and now I'm having a terrible time figuring out exactly what to do with them. I do much better sketching a plan in advance, then buying fabric to fit. So far I've had 5 flashes of inspiration that quickly fizzled, but I think I may finally have a plan. I'll keep you posted.