Sunday, July 1, 2018

I love a mystery!

My kids make fun of me for reading cozy mysteries.  Since I am forever protesting about violence and graphic words or scenes in modern media, they think it is ironic that I read books with "murder" in the title.  What they don't seem to understand is that cozy mysteries aren't about the murder - in fact, rarely does the reader "witness" the crime.  Cozies are all about following clues to figure out "whodunit," usually while following along with an amateur sleuth working outside the law.  This wonderful week of summer included THREE cozies for me: Boiled Over, the second Maine Clambake Mystery by Barbara Ross (I'm from Maine); Gone But Knot Forgotten, the third Quilting Mystery by Mary Marks (I LOVE this series!);

and Deadly Nightshade, the first Martha's Vineyard Mystery by Cynthia Riggs (because we spent three days at Martha's Vineyard this week). Next up on my bedside table is Taken In, the ninth Southern Sewing Circle mystery and my current audiobook is The Cranefly Orchard Murders, the second Martha's Vineyard Mystery by Cynthia Riggs.

But it isn't just in my reading that I like mysteries.  I love the idea of a mystery quilt, although, in truth, I've never actually finished one.  I'm still working on my first, On Ringo Lake by Bonnie Hunter, but the truth is, once the big reveal happens, I usually lose interest.  I haven't worked on that quilt in months!

My 2018 Temperature Quilt is a bit of a mystery quilt since the daily weather dictates what it will ultimately look like.  I think the not knowing is part of what keeps me motivated to make new blocks for that quilt every day (well, that and how easy the block I chose to make is).  Here it is from January 1 through June 11 - I have all the blocks done through June 30, but the next row includes the block with the average temperatures for July, so I can't add any more rows until July is over.

Blocks signify high and low temps for each day of the year (through June 11 so far)
As I mentioned, we spent a few days at Martha's Vineyard this week.  Beforehand, I took my dog up to NH to stay with my sister.  Visiting my sister means time with my nieces and nephew,
One of my nieces - the only thing cuter than a two year old is a two year old wearing a sweater you knit for her!
but it also means getting to see my handiwork all over their house, from sweaters and hats and socks that I have knit for them to quilts that I have made on their walls and on their beds.  They are THE BEST recipients of handmade stuff - they actually USE it!!
My mom was out of town, so I slept in her bed under one of the first bed sized quilts I ever made, a Scrappy Mountain Majesties from Bonnie Hunter's pattern
Once at the Vineyard, I stayed busy with knitting, at the beach

and on the ferry.  Sock knitting is such a perfect travel/vacation project!

And while on vacation, I stumbled upon the Friendship Album, 1933 podcast by Frances O'Roark Dowell, author of Birds in the Air (which I own and have read) and Margaret Goes Modern (which I don't yet own).  I've finished listening to the first four episodes and I am anxiously awaiting future installments of this story.  I've said it so many times, but when I'm not quilting, I love being able to read about quilts, whether in fiction or on blogs or even just scanning photos on Instagram and Pinterest.  What on earth did I do with my time before I started quilting?

I'm linking up with Oh, Scrap and Monday Making.

Monday, June 25, 2018

A Flimsy Finish!

I spent nearly the whole weekend sewing.  Remember that box of scraps I got in the mail?  I raided it for strips to make more 9-patches for the centers of my Sister's Choice blocks.
3.5" 9-patches - I LOVE small piecing!
It turns out I got carried away and made one Sister's Choice block too many - oh well, it'll find a home in an orphan block quilt one day.  But all the others ended up here, in my completed Sister's Choice flimsy! 

5" blocks, so it measures 55.5" square
I used all but a few crumbs of the neutral I used in the alternate blocks and pieced border blocks.  I have about half a yard left of the navy.  At first I thought I'd use it for a border, but it would make such a skinny border that I decided against it.  Instead, I'll use it for binding.

I'm so tickled with the way this turned out - scrappy just makes me smile!

I'm also pleased with myself for sticking with this one project to its completion.  (Of course, I'm still making my daily blocks for my temperature quilt, but that's different.)  I now give myself permission to get back to my Flutterby quilt.  I may have to rethink that one and make it bigger than I first intended because I love it so much I think I want it on my bed!
6" blocks - I have a long way to go before this will cover my queen bed

These quilts would be quicker if the blocks were bigger, but I love the look of lots of little blocks.

And while I am tempted to fire up the machine and get sewing on those Flutterby blocks, I signed myself up for guitar lessons this summer, so I'm off for my first lesson.  Woo hoo!  I love summer as an educator!  I can't remember the last time I had so much time however I want to fill it!

I'm linking up with Oh, Scrap and Monday Making.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

The Start of Summer

The end of the school year for an educator is an absolute whirlwind; the couple of minutes a day that I carved out to sew a seam or knit a few stitches literally kept me sane.  But when school let out on June 1, things didn't slow down for me.  Instead, a boarded a plane with one other adult and eleven students and headed down to the Dominican Republic to build a house with a local organization there called Cambiando Vidas.  In just 5 days, we helped the new homeowners and their community members take their house from simply a foundation to ready-to-move-in.  What a fantastically gratifying experience!
In the evening before the key ceremony

The new homeowners, Andreas (c), and his sons Leidy (l) and Francis (r)
During my seven days in the Dominican Republic, I brushed up on my Spanish speaking skills, including giving a short speech in Spanish to the entire community during the key ceremony on the last night, but also worked on knitting a sock - the perfect travel project.  This is the first of my Cambiando Vidas Socks, adapted from a recipe by my friend Catherine.

Once I returned home, I had one day of rest before heading off to Yale for a two-day office retreat.  I know it is almost blasphemous for a Harvard grad to admit this, but I love Yale's campus.  I've been there several times, usually to present at conferences, but each time I am more and more impressed.  (Longtime readers, do you remember the year I had a bit of extra time after checking out of my hotel and before my flight so I walked to the New Haven airport?  That still cracks me up!)

Therefore, this is day three of my summer vacation.  I have plenty of work to keep me busy over the summer, but I am planning to pace myself, working no more than 2 hours a day, and ideally walking over to the office to get the work done, keeping work and vacation as separate as possible.  (Of course, I already blew those plans, spending nearly 3 hours in the office yesterday.  Sigh.)

My current vacation plans have included reading (most recently The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls, Clammed Up by Barbara Ross, and currently Murder in Merino by Sally Goldenbaum and The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead), knitting (see Cambiando Vidas Socks above), and sewing.

I'm up to date on my 2018 Temperature Quilt,
The blocks on right are awaiting a June Average Temps block before they can be sewn together and added to the quilt.
and am trying to finish up this small Sister's Choice quilt, as its size is dictated by the amount of blue and neutral material I have for the alternate blocks and borders.

I received another box of scraps from one of my quilter friends in Virginia, so I'm itching to add blocks to my Flutterby quilt, but I'm trying to be disciplined and finish the Sister's Choice top first.  We'll see how that goes...

One goal for the summer is to get some tops machine quilted, but I'm hitting a brick wall.  I've reached out to several local quilters, but they've not gotten back to me.  I may have to send them out.  I'm not looking for anything fancy, no custom work, just pantographs.  Any suggestions for some affordable and quality longarm services out there that will accept my humble quilts?

I'm linking up with Oh Scrap!

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Every little bit

The end of the school year is like riding a panicky, runaway horse with no reins or saddle; all you can do is entwine your hands into the mane, hold on tightly, and try to enjoy the ride.

In the meantime, I've been trying to make sure to carve out moments of quiet sanity for myself, time to sew.  It hasn't been much, but as we all know, every little bit adds up to a lot eventually.

My temperature quilt is moving along well - I enjoy having just one block to make each day.  On Ringo Lake is sitting silently, willing me to notice it again.  The trouble is, despite the fact that the fabrics are scrappy, they are all in the same four color families, and for me, that makes it just a bit too predictable to compel me to work on it.  One day...

The Flutterby blocks are the ones that excite me the most.  I have 67 of the 140 blocks that I plan to make done, with about 11 more partially done.  As you can see, I've been making the borders as I go.  I really want this quilt to end up on my bed!

I miss my design wall!  The floor just isn't the same.
The Sister's Choice quilt's final size will be determined by the amount of blue and neutral fabric I have for the the alternate blocks.  I've started to make border blocks for that, too, so I can figure out how many more blocks I need to make.
A couple of rows are sewn together, as are the outside borders.  I'm hoping I'll have enough to make this lap sized, but it might end up being a baby quilt.
Both of these quilts have enjoyed an infusion of new scrappy fabric after I received a box of scraps from a a friend back in Virginia.
Is there anything better than someone else's scraps?
So far, I've only made it through one baggie of scraps from the box, but what fun to discover them all while cutting them down into my precut scrap sizes.

Hmm, I need better light in my sewing room!
And when I'm not home, I've been diligent about bringing some handwork along, making more hexie blooms during meetings and sewing them on while attending campus sporting events.
Enjoying softball in the sunshine while putting in a few stitches.
In one month, I'll be on summer vacation.  I am so excited about all I should be able to do over the summer - sewing to my heart's content!

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Crafting on the road

I'm on the road again, this time visiting Vanderbilt University in Nashville.  While waiting for today's programming to start, I had to wander over to see the Parthenon replica and read about why it is here.
Turns out, it was built for Tennessee's Centennial celebration.  Cool, but seems pretty random to be plopped down here in the middle of Nashville
I doubt I'll be stranded here for two extra days like I was during my trip to Washington University in St. Louis last month (knock on wood), but I'm prepared, just in case.  In addition to more hexies to stitch together,
I only brought 5 flowers worth of hexies to stitch together.  I should be able to finish that in a mere evening of watching Heartland on Netflix.
I brought my current mindless knitting project,
Based on the Dourado pattern, but I'm altering it to work with the Katia Ombre yarn that I have.
as well as three paperback books and three audiobooks.  One of them, of course, is a crafty cozy mystery:
I've read the first in this series, and was waiting to read this third installation until I had read the second, but it was the smallest paperback on my shelf that I hadn't read, perfect for travel, so the second will have to wait.
Back home, I've been plugging away at my myriad current projects - hand quilting the quilt for my new niece who arrived on Friday,
I still have a long way to go.  Not marking, just quilting organically concentric echoes to fill the white spaces.  Not sure yet what I'll do with the colored spaces.
My new niece with her older sister and brother.  Love fest!

I spent most of Saturday doing just this.
making more 3" nine patches for my 5" Sister's Choice project,

Nine patches are so simple but make me so happy!

Why, oh why, do I love tiny piecing so much???  It's going to take A LOT of blocks to make a useable quilt out of 5" blocks, but I'm not going to think of it that way, just gonna enjoy the process.
On Ringo Lake has been on the back burner, as has my Flutterby project, but I'm still up to date on my Temperature Quilt.  I do like having a choice about what I want to work on every time I sit down at my machine.

I'm linking up with Oh Scrap and Monday Making.

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Temperature quilt progress

Regardless of how I flit from quilt to quilt - from On Ringo Lake to Flutterby to Sister's Choice to hand quilting the Starburst quilt - my Temperature Quilt is a constant.  Each day, I complete another simple block.
This block represents March 31, 2018 with Kona Daffodil representing the high temperature of 55 and Kona Cabbage representing the low of 33.
The two bars in each block represent the high and low temperature of a day here in Deerfield, Massachusetts, with the seams pressed towards the low temperature.  When assembled, I alternate the orientation of the blocks: vertical seam, horizontal seam, vertical seam, horizontal seam.
This segment represents January 1 through March 22, 2018.
My final quilt will be 18 blocks wide and 21 blocks long.  Each block is 3.5" square (finished), so the final quilt will be by 63" wide and 73.5" long.  I imagine I'll probably add some type of border to make the quilt bigger and to try to tie together all the various colors.  In addition to blocks representing each day of the year, there is also a block representing each monthly average and one final block representing the the yearly average high and low.  I'm getting my daily data from Weather Underground.

I like the unpredictability of what colors will show up next, reflecting the unpredictability of the weather.  Look how out of place the little rectangles of Kona Cheddar and Kona Amber are in this segment, representing February 20 and 21 which boasted daily highs of 61 and 73 degrees respectively.  I'm mighty thankful that there isn't so much dark blue in there - the darker the blue, the colder the temperatures.

I'm linking up with Monday Making and Oh Scrap.

Monday, March 26, 2018

Then, by Brad Paisley

I love the song, Then, by Brad Paisley.  It encapsulates how I feel about my husband so well.  Turns out, it also speaks to how I feel about this Flutterby quilt!  I loved my first block, then loved it more once I had a number of blocks laid out together, then this weekend I laid it out with some border strips and some pieced border, and, I tell ya, I love it even more now!

Then I did the math and realized I need 140 blocks to make it the size I want.  Oh well, they go together quickly.  50 down, 90 to go!

I'm linking up with Monday Making and Oh Scrap.