In the 7 years that we’ve lived here we’ve tried so many gardens. Every one has had issues. My yard is too shady except in the middle. I have rabbits, squirrels, chipmunks, and deer. They are stone-cold garden predators. They even managed to eat my tomatoes in pots on my second story deck.
Finally, enough was enough. The husband decided to give up a section in the middle of his beloved grass for raised beds. I decided to use all my hard-won horse-fencing knowledge to keep the critters out. (For a while I toyed with electrifying the fence.)
We started small with just a 4′ by 8′ bed and a 4′ x 4′ bed. If the plants survive the year we may go bigger and put in permanent and more attractive fencing.
The last time I did new raised beds I had piles of aged horse manure. We did not this time. Our compost piles have not broken down well so we had to buy dirt and compost. I put in a soaker hose system in case we ever need to water. Hopefully, it will keep raining here and we won’t need it. Then I topped it all with straw for mulch.
I started out adhering to Square Foot Gardening guidelines. I even had my 12 inch square quilt ruler out for measuring. The back row of the garden is pristine like that. As you get closer to the front it gets more freestyle until chaos reigns in the small bed.
I planted so much stuff that I had to make diagrams. There is a combination of plants and seeds out there. Just yesterday I noticed that some of the peas are sprouting. I’m so proud.
I’ve also started trying to make a food forest in the back. I keep adding berry bushes along the fence line. Some vermin keeps pulling out the strawberry plants. I planted a few varieties of potatoes in piles of straw too. We’ll see how that goes. They are also outside the fence so I don’t know if they will survive.
Updates to come throughout the growing season hopefully!
Oh my gosh! I’m doing so good. I’m actually sewing on a regular basis. Mind you, I’m bouncing project to project so I’m in no danger of actually finishing anything but progress is being made on the major WIPs I wanted to work on.
I worked really hard on this last month. I was so proud. Yeah. It is exactly the same as last month because I got distracted by other projects.
De La Promenade
I started the panel that makes up most of the left side of the quilt. I already have the three blocks that make up the center of the quilt made and quilted. The carousel horse in the picture on the pattern is blue with a white mane. I found a blue I liked for the body but plain white seemed a bit flat. I auditioned some very light blues but wasn’t sure. I decided to ask the husband. He panics when I ask quilt questions because he thinks there is supposed to be a right or wrong answer and not just an opinion. So I prefaced this with “I just need an opinion. There isn’t a wrong answer.” I showed him both mane options. He picked white because….(wait for it)…. because a light blue mane isn’t realistic. A light blue mane isn’t realistic on a horse with a blue body. He had no problem with the blue body. I was wrong. There obviously was a wrong answer.
I made the mane white but used a polka dot white on white so it wasn’t too flat.
You build the horse from all the pieces on a nonstick sheet and then peel him off and put him on the background. The horse is considered part A in this block. There are still parts B through D to go before I can put this block together.
This is my never-ending hand piecing project. (I get tendonitis if I hand sew too much so I limit myself to just a little bit a day and you know I don’t work on it every day.) I forget when I started this. I tend to work consistently on it for a while and then let it sit for a while. Lately I’ve been pretty consistent.
It is from Willyne Hammerstein’s Millefiori Quilts book 3. The book doesn’t actually have much in the way of directions. There are some diagrams of how a few of the pieces go together and then a diagram of how everything fits together and then the five shapes you need to use and that’s it. Just make it from the pictures.
I was at a complete loss of where to start with this. How do you even pick colors? I decided to use a stack of really obnoxious fat quarters I had as the color selection. I combined this with grey tone on tone fabrics and black/white fabrics in places where I wanted the eye to be able to rest. I made up a few basic rosettes to practice and then picked a few that worked together and started combining them like in the diagram. Occasionally it isn’t clear what piece is supposed to be used but I think I’m figuring it out. I was pretty proud to finally get a whole chunk of it together this month. It seems less scattered now and more like a thing that actually may be finishable.
I’m making a file to show how much is together. Blue dots show the parts I’ve finished. See why I call it the never ending project?
It worked! It worked! I sewed so I would have something to say here.
True confession time. I didn’t finish the whole post last time before it autoposted in January. I meant to list all the WIPs (Works in Progress) that I want to work on this year and then show if there is any progress in each one.
This is a new project. I figured I could handle one beginner block each month and actually end up with a quilt for someone. The second block was a simple one to be done in pink.
The word fabric was left over from a baby quilt for a kid who is about 6 or 7 now.
I found out recently that a few people I work with don’t like polka dots. They find them creepy. They are obviously wrong. I love polka dots. I have a lot of dot fabrics at home.
On Ringo Lake
This was 2017 (shut up) mystery quilt from Bonnie Hunter. I did really well making all my pieces on the weekly schedule. There are hundreds and hundreds of pieces. And then it sat. I had an unexpected day off work during the super cold spell so I decided to spend it sewing. I went downstairs meaning to work on something else but I saw this and decided to work on it instead.
By the end of the first day I had turned this:
Typical behavior for me would then be to wander off never to work on this again for months. But that didn’t happen! I came back the next day and worked on it again. I ordered a backing for it even.
I had helpers.
Powder used to lay right by the sewing machine and I always told her that it was a miracle that she never got her tail sewn. She never really got close though. This was my first time sewing with the Lucy-kitten. She decided that she could catch the moving machine needle between her front paws. I screamed, “Noooooooooooooo!” at her so loud that she went off and pouted because I scared her. Better hurt feelings than sewn together paws.
I’ve even kept going. I’ve decided to quilt this in a simple all over pattern. I’m going to quilt this in sections using a Quilt as You Go technique. I’ve ordered the stencil and received the backing fabric. Here is the first section put together.
Look what that kitten did to my high class design wall!
De La Promenade
This is destined to hang above the daybed in my cat/music room/library. The whole room was painted to show it off. Now I just need to finish it. It is fusible applique and quilt-as-you go. This is what I meant to work on when I got restarted on On Ringo Lake.
This is the third panel. This is fusible applique that is then sewed down/quilted in one step. I finished quilting the second swan so this panel is done. Now I need to start tracing panel four.
I’m making this post in a fit of optimism on January 1. It is going to be a monthly update on what I’m sewing. The idea is that if I don’t have anything new to say at this time each month, I’ll be so embarrassed. Therefore, I need to sew something, anything, so I have something to blog about. Let’s see how well this works. (I only finished 1 quilt in 2018. Mind you, I started bunches of stuff…)
About a month ago one of my coworkers asked me out of the blue if I had finished any quilts lately. I was offended. She knows better. She knows I only start quilts and then they live half-done forever in my basement.
I was also a bit concerned because actually I was applying myself diligently to finishing a quilt for her for her rapidly upcoming wedding.
Yes, I hope ya’ll are sitting down, I finished a quilt project!
I’ve always wanted to do a pineapple quilt block quilt but that’s a lot of work. I had only seen them paper pieced. I found a handy dandy ruler that made it a whole lot easier to do.
I made the whole thing mostly with scraps from my magical scrap bin. No matter how many times I dug in there I always found more jewel tones to work with, even if I was sure I had emptied it of useable stuff the time before. I only messed up once and used the same dark fabric in the same block.
I also decided in midstream to make this quilt as you go.
I sewed together each row of 4 blocks and then layered and quilted them. I used the fussiest way possible to join them together but you can’t tell I did anything unusual from the front. There is just a folded under edge of the backing where each row is joined together on the back.
I added borders the same way. I had a different plan for the borders but hated it once I started piecing it. I got the husband’s opinion. He got all nervous and told me that supported me in everything I do. I told him that I was hating what I was doing so critique away. I might have created a monster. He had unsolicited opinions about binding colors and fabric selection after the one day when I asked for his thoughts.
It is at its new home now. I finished with 2 days to spare. I didn’t know how to act with that much wiggle room.
I am lucky enough to have a dedicated sewing room in my basement. When we moved in I wanted to get some storage built. The husband found someone to do it. The plan was brilliant if I do say so myself. I wanted two floor to ceiling cabinets with a huge ironing board overtop of stacks of drawers. The idea was to be able to lay out a whole quilt top and iron the longest seams.
I got the two cabinets fairly quickly. Then, crickets. He never came back to do the drawers. Never. The husband would see him around and ask and it was clear that part two of the project was never going to happen.
Fast forward to now. I was trying to figure out how to make it myself. I thought about getting dressers or stock cabinets or something. Then, we ended up breaking down Z’s room since she is not able to come back here anymore. She has a dresser. It was only 4 feet long so it didn’t fill the whole space but it was available and free. I cleared out the plastic tubs I was using to store my smaller pieces of fabric by color. The fabric lives in the dresser now. We put the dresser in that space on furniture sliders so I can move it around fairly easily. Ideally, I wanted it on wheels because the ironing surface needs to be a bit away from the wall so you can drop the already pressed area down behind the board. Since there will be a gap, I know I will drop other stuff. I wanted to be able to move it so stuff wouldn’t be lost forever.
I went to Lowe’s and got a very sturdy piece of plywood. I had them cut it to 2 feet by 8 feet.
I placed it on the dresser. I had some thick batting. I put one layer on the board and stapled it in place.
I bought 3 yards of Kona Steel for the cover. I stapled that in place making sure to pull it tight.
I moved the dresser back into place and centered the board on it. I had brackets to put on the side of the dresser to support the edges of the board but I forgot that the dresser had a fancy lip on it. The brackets won’t lay flat. The board I chose is very sturdy so for now I’m leaving it alone. If it starts to bow later I’ll find some way to fix it.
I added a flat wall plug extension cord to the plug behind the dresser. I used a command hook to keep the cord in reach. My iron doesn’t have an off button. If it is plugged in, it is on. I keep the iron to the left because I am left handed.
I still had the issue of the dresser not reaching all the way across the space. I wanted it to look more finished so I bought some tension rods and the cheapest curtains on Amazon to hide my scrap bin.
The whole project cost under $100 (not counting the initial purchase price of the dresser) and took less than an hour to complete. I have one unintended consequence though.
Now hanging out in the sewing room with Mommy is more comfortable. Soon after this picture he was sprawled out full length. He doesn’t understand why he can’t play with the iron though. I may need to find a way to wall mount the iron so this fool doesn’t burn himself.
Look! I’m sewing. I mean, sure, I list quilting as one of my major hobbies but I hadn’t been doing much of it.
Recently I started working on two projects out of the gazillion I have in pieces in my sewing room.
De La Prominade by Quilt Fusion
I saw this pattern on Instagram when they were testing it. I had to have it even though it was completely impractical. It is a bed sized quilt when done, which I don’t need. I can make it a bit smaller by leaving off the outer borders. If I hang it, it would need to go horizontal and I don’t think I have a big enough spot. I still don’t care. I love it.
This is the center block. You trace the pattern pieces onto paper backed fusible web. Then you cut out all the pieces and build it.
This block sits above the carousel block. This is designed to be quilt as you go. That’s nice because you don’t need to maneuver a big quilt through the machine. After I made the block I spray basted it to batting. Then I free motion quilt around all the pieces. Once the whole thing is together and quilted you add the backing fabric and quilt around the blocks to hold it all together.
I also started on a snail quilt that I’ve had the pattern for for a while. The husband, who thinks he’s funny said, “That sounds like a slow project.” It turns out to be pretty quick though. I made all the bodies in one sitting. Then I’ve been making a few shells at a time. The finished lap sized quilt has 60 snails.
This is the big one that makes formatting book reviews simple. It is a paid plugin so it must be good if I have it since I am cheap. There is a learning curve for this one because it can do so much but there is great support. I also have add ons for this:
Automatically send my published reviews to Goodreads. (I like that this gives an option to send an edited review to Goodreads if I get too rambling here.)
Reading challenges add on makes the little bars on the right side of the screen that track categories of reviews. My only complaint is that I write a lot of reviews with multiple books and you can’t track each one.
I just downloaded a multiple rating report that I may use for audiobooks to separately rate the narration and story and any other category I want to make up.
My UBB wishlist:
The ability to host cover images on a third party site
Automatically sending reviews to Amazon or other sites
Featured Image from URL
My theme has the big picture at the top of the post. I love the look of that but I didn’t like having to host all those images on my site. This plug in lets you host pictures on Flickr and then use them as a featured image. I love, love, love this one! Find it by searching on your Add Plugins page.
Where do all those stock photos come from? Pixabay is my favorite free stock photo site. I can usually always find a great image that ties into whatever I’m writing about.
If you write a lot of posts that follow the same format, this is a time saver. I use it for my Monday posts. I click on last week’s and it copies the post to a new draft. I change out the galleries of the books I am reading but my headings and featured picture are all preset. I use this for monthly wrap ups too where I am updating information on challenges. I don’t have to look up and link to the challenges again. It just gets copied over. Find it by searching on your Add Plugins page.
WordPress Editorial Calendar
I love being able to move posts around on my calendar. I write down title names when I get an idea and if I don’t get around to writing it or if I want to change when it is posted, I just drag and drop. It is so much better than working off a list. Find it by searching on your Add Plugins page.
I use Later.com to schedule tweets, instagram posts, and pinterest posts. When I write a review, I send the cover photo here and then write the tweet to go out once in the morning and once at night. It is easy to use the same picture for Pinterest but it isn’t as easy to pin to multiple boards as Tailwind is.
You’d rather take pictures with a camera instead of a phone and edit them on your computer
You’d love to schedule a bunch of photos ahead of time
Later can help
I love taking pictures with my camera. Getting them to Instagram was awkward. I’d have to download them to my computer, edit them, email them to my phone, download them on the phone, and then upload them one at a time when I remembered.
Later is a website and an app that work together to simplify the process. When I’m ready to schedule Instagram photos, I go to the Later.com website.
I can upload all the photos that I want to work with and drag them onto the day and time that I want to post them. This is perfect for photo challenges if you take a bunch of photos at once but need to wait until the appropriate day to post.
Selecting a photo brings up this screen.
From here you can crop, change the date and time of posting, edit captions, and even make it add a link in your bio.
Ideally, Later would then publish the post for you but this is were it gets little bit awkward still. Instagram does not allow third party software to post directly to the site.
Instead, you have to have the Later app on your mobile device of choice. At the time that you scheduled, you will get a notification that you have a post ready. You open the app and select post.
The app downloads the photo to the device and asks you to select Instagram. It also copies your caption to the dashboard.
You are able to do any additional editing like normal with Instagram. Then you paste the caption into the text block and post.
Is a perfect solution? No. Does it help? Absolutely. I like being able to batch upload my challenge photos once a week and then not have to think about it again until I get a notification.
That’s 2 in less than 30 days. I know, I’m shocked too.
Of course this one had a hard deadline or it wouldn’t have happened so fast.
The pattern for the whales is Preppy the Whale from Oh Fransson. It is a hard pattern to design with if you don’t want to make a zillion whales because it is long and narrow. I added the black and white checked stripes because the top was too boring without something else.
I used the last of my Tula Pink yardage for the back. I couldn’t pass up the thematic opportunity to put the octopi on the back of the whale quilt.
“It is the 1930s, and hard times have hit Harveyville, Kansas, where the crops are burning up, and there’s not a job to be found. For Queenie Bean, a young farm wife, a highlight of each week is the gathering of the Persian Pickle Club, a group of local ladies dedicated to improving their minds, exchanging gossip, and putting their quilting skills to good use. When a new member of the club stirs up a dark secret, the women must band together to support and protect one another.”
I love Sandra Dallas’ books. She writes historical fiction about women in the western United States. Most of them involve quilting at least peripherally. If it isn’t a major component of the story, then the main character does a least a little quilting at some point in the story.
“After moving with her husband, Matt, to the small college town of Waterford, Pennsylvania, Sarah McClure struggles to find a fulfilling job. In the meantime, she agrees to help seventy-five-year-old Sylvia Compson prepare her family estate, Elm Creek Manor, for sale. As part of her compensation, Sarah is taught how to quilt by this cantankerous elderly woman, who is a master of the craft.During their lessons, Mrs. Compson reveals how her family was torn apart by tragedy, jealousy, and betrayal, and her stories force Sarah to face uncomfortable truths about her own alienation from her widowed mother. As their friendship deepens, Mrs. Compson confides in Sarah the truth about why she wants to sell Elm Creek Manor. In turn, Sarah seeks a way to bring life and joy back to the estate so Mrs. Compson can keep her home — and Sarah can keep her cherished friend.”
This is the first book in a long series. I have mixed feelings about it. The author made up the town of Waterford in central PA. The only problem is that I grew up in Waterford PA which is not in central PA and not a college town and not most of all the other things in this book. It is totally jarring for me to read about.
She also has a very annoying tendency to use the phrase “master quilter” like it is a distinct level you can achieve. I don’t know if the quilting fairies descend and anoint you with a magic sword or what. The closest thing I can find is a program where you submit a quilt to be judged by a committee who will let you into a Master Quilters club if you pass. No one does this. No one cares. But in the books everyone seems to know what a “master quilter” is and whispers it in awe when the person walks by. Yeah, no.
Other than that the series is good.
Those are the only books about quilting I read. Another book that is about handicrafts usually done by women that is really good is
“Overwhelmed by heartbreak and loss, the struggling twenty-six-year-old fashion designer follows her mother’s advice and flees to her ancestral homeland of Ireland, hoping to break free of old patterns and reinvent herself.
She arrives on the west coast, in the seaside hamlet of Glenmara. In this charming, fading Gaelic village, Kate quickly develops a bond with members of the local lace-making society: Bernie, alone and yearning for a new purpose since the death of her beloved husband, John; Aileen, plagued by doubt, helplessly watching her teenage daughter grow distant; Moira, caught in a cycle of abuse and denial, stubbornly refusing help from those closest to her; Oona, in remission from breast cancer, secretly harboring misgivings about her marriage; Colleen, the leader of the group, worried about her fisherman husband, missing at sea. And outside this newfound circle is local artist Sullivan Deane, an enigmatic man trying to overcome a tragedy of his own.”
I was a complete quilting slacker in 2015. Thank god for people having babies (words which have never before been uttered on this blog and will probably never be heard again) or I’d have never gotten anything made.
This was a baby quilt for a coworker in the spring.
So in the spirit of turning over a new leaf and all that, I started a new project – because I don’t already have a room full of abandoned projects – shut up! I did something revolutionary with this project though. Something scary.
I’m Using My Special Fabric
You know the fabric. You bought the bundle because you loved it and then you put it aside for something special and there it sits. You can’t quite bring yourself to cut into it because you are waiting for the perfect project.
I’m using it.
First up was this FQ bundle of Birds of a Feather. I bought it for a specific pattern. When it got here I realized that it wasn’t going to work at all for the pattern I had picked. Mind you, I don’t remember what that pattern was because I never got around to picking any other fabric and making it. This has been sitting on my shelf for a while. It is going to be the center crosses in these Raspberry Kisses blocks.
I’m using scrap white on white for the rest of the center and then doing low volume on the corners. This one actually hurt.
The fabric on the left I special ordered because I liked other fabric from that line. It was really hard to find. I haven’t used an inch of it. The next three are from a bundle I ordered because I loved the line. I have it in two colorways. Never been touched. I had to give myself a firm talking to in order to open up the package and pull those out. The one with the cameras came from another bundle that I have that wasn’t open.
I’m even using thread that at first I thought, “I should keep this and maybe quilt with it.” Then I thought, nope. Use it up. They make more.
I quilted free form triangles in the sashing and then filled in every other one. I consider that proof that I’ve been reading Free Motion Friday at Kathleen Quilts too much! She always fills in her shapes.
Now it is time to get back to quilting my Spaghetti Junction quilt.
It has been forever since I did a quilting post – mainly because it has been forever since I’ve done any quilting.
Remember how in the spring I decided I was going to make a sparkly hedgehog quilt to hang up during the winter? Remember how I thought that was a good idea since it was so far away that it was no problem to get it done?
Yeah, I hardly remember it either.
I made 2 of 4 hedgehog blocks all year. Then I made the other two the day after Thanksgiving.
Yeah, procrastination is fun. Now they are sashed and getting a quick echo of the hedgehogs. The sashing is quilted with triangles to mimic the spikiness of the hedgehog spines. I’m quilting one hedgehog a day so then I can bind it on my next day off and have it hanging by this weekend.
I’ve made a few hedgehog faces for my Christmas quilt.
My mother gave me a bunch of my grandmother’s fabric. I want to make a quilt for my mother with her mother’s fabric. The problem is that it is all horribly ugly and some kind of cotton blend that is really rough. I’m thinking that it make it work I need to cut it up into really small pieces. I’m playing around with some small 9 patches. These finish at 3 inches. I’m thinking of setting them with alternating white squares. I’m not sure if I like it enough it commit to it yet though.
I just received a big box with a rainbow of solid fabrics.
I never use solids because I think they are boring and flat but I have an idea for a quilt that would require them. That’s why I need to stock up. Now I just have to map out the quilt design. I’m hoping I have enough here to make two quilts – one for me and one to give away. This project is everything I don’t do.
Working with a strict design
Making multiples of a design
Making a quilt for me
I don’t know what’s come over me.
I’ve even sewn a little more on my hexy quilt. Hand sewing still really hurts my hand so I only let myself do a little a few times a week. Someone who lives in this house recently inquired about the likelihood of this quilt being done by the time we are 50. It might happen.
That was what the back of my yard looked like. (I took this picture from a second story deck. There aren’t power lines near the ground.) It is horrible for gardening. There is English ivy coming from a neighbor’s yard that climbs everything. We’ve made progress in getting it off the big oak trees. It is part shade. I tried to plant a garden in the sunniest part and everything got eaten by varmints.
I decided to tackle it this year. I cleared out all the little scrub volunteer trees. I want to make this food producing so I took some inspiration from Paradise Lot and ordered some paw paw trees.
Paw Paws are native fruit trees that make a fruit that supposedly tastes like bananas and mangos. I ordered bare root, grafted trees.
They look dead.
They are about 5 feet tall so hopefully they will survive and give fruit in a few years.
I also got some roses this year. I love them and I found two sunny places in the front yard that should work for them.
The existing plants have really taken off this week even though it has been cold enough to see some snow flakes.
The hostas are insane and need divided.
I wasn’t even sure if the astilbes were still alive last week and now they look like this.
I’ve given up trying to plant other food in the back yard. I’m doing containers this year on the back deck because there is sun and it is safe.
The container on the left has kale and lettuce. The one on the right has strawberries. I left the strawberry one at the base of the stairs to the deck for one night and some nasty rodent pulled out two of the plants. I replanted and they are doing well now.
This is basil, lavender, and some cute decorative plants.
I finished a quilt! I’m a starter and not a finisher but this had a hard deadline so I was motivated to get it done. I gave it to a coworker during our little baby shower for her yesterday.
Side note – I gave a baby quilt to another person who was there. He talked all about how useful it was and how the baby slept on it and all kinds of nice stuff. He said they got a few quilts so they could wash and rotate. It was very nice. Then he showed me a picture of her using my quilt. That was also nice but it wasn’t my quilt. I just giggled to myself and didn’t say anything.
This is Preppy the Whale by Elizabeth Hartman. The theme was underwater so I made the whales. Then I added borders to get it up to 36″ square. I quilted waves in the blue and seaweed in the pink vertical borders.