Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Life is Good

 I've been machine quilting off and on for a few days.  

And I've been doing some gardening in between. 

Life is good. 

Monday, July 30, 2018

A Challenge

Emmetsburg Township, Palo Alto County Iowa Plat Map
W.W. Hixson Co.; 1930

Many of you may not know that I love genealogy as much as I love quilting and gardening. I've been researching and documenting my family history since before there was the internet as we know it or Ancestry.com. My research involved lots of letter writing and hand crank microfilm readers in library basements and prying info out of relatives at family reunions.   I've been entering records into a Family Tree Maker program since the first DOS version came out.   I also have several websites with document transcriptions I share with other researchers.  One of those sites is Palo Alto County, Iowa where I'm related to almost everyone there of Irish descent. 

My great grandfather, Michael Joynt eventually settled in Palo Alto County, Iowa after he emigrated from Galway, Ireland as a young man. His homestead certificate granting him land was signed by Ulysses S. Grant.  He married Bridget Brennan. Her family emigrated from Kilkenny, Ireland and settled first in Canada and later in Palo Alto County, Iowa. 

I like most challenges. They make me use my sluggish little gray cells. (I can almost feel those neurons and synapses moving and shaking). 

I don't make art quilts. I have no wall space for them.  So what to make...what to make...

I first thought to map a quilty family tree. But that's one of the big things already taking up that wall space I said I no longer have. 

Then I finally decided on a Plat Map. Which one? 
I decided on Emmetsburg Township, Palo Alto County, Iowa where my great grandfather and other relatives settled. And I decided on the year 1930 because that is the year my father was born.  So armed with a map and a huge kinship report from Family Tree Maker for my father I decided I would make a Plat Map Quilt. The areas where someone related to my Dad was living in 1930 will be in green. If family is unrelated then the area will be brown. I'm using earth tones, of course! (And scraps). 

There will be 36 blocks. At first I was going to make 8 inch blocks but that would result in a small 48 inch square quilt. But I like big quilts so went with 12 inch blocks.   I think I'm going to use muslin for the back and probably include printed pics and docs related to Emmetsburg Township and the land.   And if all goes well then I might also make a quilty 1908 Plat Map for the same township.
 So...here's section 28. The green shamrocks is where my great grandfather, Michael Joynt, settled and where my grandparents were living when my dad was born in 1930.   This land was in the family until recently. I was sad to see it sold but that is what my Dad, the youngest child, opted to do after all his siblings died.  I spent the summers there as a young girl and have some wonderful memories of grandparents, aunts and uncles. 
Section 33 which is south of section 28. 

 Section 21 north of section 28. 

And those three sections (out of 36) go together like this. 

More later! 

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Keep Going

Almost exactly a year ago today I worked on the sashing of Grandma's Apron Strings.    I found that all the pieces of chicken scratch sashing I made were a little short.  Darn! Thank goodness at that time I had only stitched 17 of 84 sashing pieces and had decided to see how they looked.  And in that post last year I mentioned that I felt a little discouraged and said it might be awhile before you saw this quilt again. 

Well, time has passed and I've ripped out those short pieces and given them a little fix plus I've made a lot more chicken scratch pieces that are the right length. 
And I thought I would do another trial run to see how the sashings looks this time.  And I feel encouraged and excited again about this quilt.  You can't even tell the sashing pieces that were fixed from the newer ones that are the right length.   And it looks kind of like the vision I had in my head all this time of Grandma's Apron Strings. 

 And so I'll keep going. 

And when I see the Japanese Beetles in my roses and feel my skin crawl and a feel a little discouraged and depressed...

...I see a Monarch Butterfly on my Tithonia and it keeps me going and makes my day!

Maybe next year at this time Grandma's Apron Strings will be finished!
Time will tell...

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Cleaning Up the Red Crumbs

 Two Slabs (twelve inch)

I work with my crumbs all month long. I have an old sewing machine set up with a couple of boxes of all colors of crumbs next to it.  That's my Crumb Machine.   I define crumbs as odd bits and pieces usually less than a six inch square. 

I've never been very successful at ridding myself of these crumbs so this year I decided to sew them together each month by color - the Rainbow Scrap Challenge color of the month.   And then I'm saving up all the blocks to make donation quilts at the end of the year.  I can't wait to see how many donation quilts I will be able to make. 

First of all, I usually pull the biggest regular shaped pieces out to make Slabs with heart centers. 

 Nine Mendota Blocks (Ten Inch Offset Squares)
These have five inch centers. So if I come across a big five inch crumb I set it aside for these blocks. If color is primary I use primary color for borders and if secondary color then it gets secondary color for borders. 

In the wonky HST box I found enough red/white HSTs in various sizes to make a quilt all by itself I think. I have an idea in mind but haven't gotten to it so set these aside to work on later. 

 Various Sized Orphans with HSTs

I sewed together the rest of the wonky HSTs that weren't red and white into a variety of blocks. The reason these are wonky is because I think most have been cut off blocks made with "flippy corners" and I don't cut them off leaving an accurate 1/4 inch...I just cut with scissors and eyeball it. Hey...what does it matter? The seam is already sewn.   I used to sew those flippy corner cuts together right away and throw them in a box but I've gotten sloppy over the years and now have a box of  flippy corners that need to be sewn into bonus HSTs as well. 

And I chain piece and discovered that when you sew the half pieces together for Pinwheels or Broken Dishes they are the same - just depends on how you arrange them.  I think I meant about half of them to be Pinwheels but arranged them as Broken Dishes. That's how I know. 
 This year I've also been making strips from the various sized scraps as I use them...for instance when I work from the 2.5 inch scraps and a piece ends up less than a 2 inch square I set it aside for a strip. Until this year I did not do that so those bits are in the crumb boxes.  Anyway...I dug out those pieces and made a strip and a couple of nine patches for the orphan box (orphanage). 
 Six Crumb Stars

I found a few pieces that were 4.5 inches that were just right for star centers. I've been adding a background in complementary colors. 

 From Cathy's Confectionary Company - Twelve Cherry Crumby Yummies
(If you look closely enough you'll see that a few are chocolate covered cherry flavored!)

For the Stars, Candies and Fish I usually sew crumbs together into several long strips trying to keep them about 4.5 inches wide.  I later then cut those into 4.5 inch squares. I was mindlessly chain piecing the blocks and was almost finished when I noticed I had left off those "flippy corners".  Well, I could have just left them as square candies but they just didn't look right so to the seam ripper I went.  This batch of candy ended up to be more work than expected!
And finally...
Twelve Itty Bitty Nitty Gritty Fish

Friday, July 27, 2018

Snowball Play

 One of the blocks I've been making  in the Rainbow Scrap Challenge color of the month from 3.5 inch scraps for the last couple of years is a Snowball block.  Last year I made them with light corners and this year I've been making them with dark corners.  I have 230 of them with light corners and 150 or so with dark corners but the year is not over yet. 

I guess it's about time I try to figure out what to do with them so I know how many I need. 
 Originally I was thinking I would alternate light and dark corners - a look similar to a lozenge quilt I made a couple of years ago.  I love that quilt and it currently resides on the bed in the camper. 

But each month when I took photos and blogged about the blocks I began to be attracted to a nine patch block and started thinking this might be the way to go.  I think I like this arrangement better than mixing them up. 

But what if I changed some of the blocks out with some nine patches? I have a bin of three inch nine patches and have been looking for different ways to use them. 

I don't like how nine patch meets nine patch and snowball meets snowball sometimes. 

So what if I make alternate blocks? Dark corner snowballs in the corners of those nine patch blocks and nine patches in the corners of the light cornered snowball blocks. 

No...that doesn't say "make me" or does it? 

What if nine patch and snowball colors were just alternated? 

Snowball/Nine Patch quilts are too common. 

 Let's go back to keeping the same colored snowballs in a nine patch configuration but this time replace the snowball or little nine patch with a rail fence block. I've also been making these for a couple of years from my 1.5 inch scraps. 

Ok. I kind of like it but I think I like the nine patch blocks with all snowballs better.  Or do I? 

Let's mix them up. 

Seems chaotic. 

 Let's mix them up and keep all the rail fences horizontal. 

I think I like them mixed up with rail fences all vertical better.  Maybe if I just used the light cornered snowballs?  

Still undecided on layout or how many blocks I need. 
Still playing......

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

It's a Finish! Down the Beaten Path

Down the Beaten Path
84 x 96
Machine quilted

I started this in 2014 as a Quilt Along where everyone chose their own version of Drunkard's Path,  fabrics, size, etc.    I used a paper template and cut by hand the pieces for my six inch blocks because curves and a rotary cutter in my hands don't get along.  I chose polka dots and stripes for my fabrics because I had made a much loved Shoofly quilt using the same which started with swapped blocks. 

 Back in 2014 I made about 30 blocks and quit.   Fast forward to 2017 and I decided to move forward and make 224 blocks for a big quilt (14 x 16 layout). I made it my goal to make 12 blocks a week for however many weeks it took.  In March 2018 it became a flimsy. 

I took advantage of some cooler weather to work on finishing this big quilt on my DSM in the house with no a/c.   I used the Wayward quilting design found at Christina Cameli's blog, A Few Scraps. 
It was a lot of fun and pretty easy to do on my DSM with the dinky throat - far less boring than straight line quilting on a big quilt. 

I used a polka dot and a stripe fabric from stash on the back. I meant to make it into a four patch but never got that far when I got everything out to pin baste.  And so it goes... 


Monday, July 23, 2018

This, That and The Other Thing- Machine Piecing

 I don't just work on one quilt at a time from start to finish. I like to work on a variety of quilts and things at one time in short bursts of time throughout the day.  That includes gardening tasks, household chores, reading, genealogy research, scrapbooking and internet surfing not just quilting.  Normally I make separate blog posts as I finish some blocks, a flimsy, a quilt and don't show everything from a week all in one post.   

Above are the four Vintage Thingamajigs I finished last week. This is the only project where I actually keep track of the sewing time of 20 minutes each day because our Stashbuster Yahoo Group issued the challenge to start a project July 1 and sew on it for 20 minutes a day.  I chose the above blocks based on vintage blocks I saw online.   Now you may say four blocks isn't that many for a week of sewing 20 minutes a day- 140 minutes.  But when you consider that each six inch block contains 29 pieces and those pieces need to be cut, matched up, sewn into units, ironed then I'll take four blocks.  I now have 18 blocks out of a target of 224 which means I also have more than enough for one row of fourteen blocks and the target is 16 rows. 

But I also have a lot of working parts for this week's 20 minute sewing sessions. My process is also to cut some, then sew some units, cut some then sew some blocks.  I don't really like cutting. 

And speaking of cutting...when I cut the hourglass pieces with the Easy Angle Companion for the Vintage Thingamajigs I also cut the ends into HSTs with the Easy Angle so I don't waste that little bit at the beginning and end of the strip.   Last week  (also in short sewing sessions of 20 - 25 minutes) I used some of those little HSTs (1 inch finished) and combined them with other scraps from the 1.5 and 2.5 inch scrap bins to make 19 four inch blocks which brings my total to 33.  I'm calling this quilt Gallimaufry (stew or hash made from anything on hand) and it is inspired by a vintage quilt c. 1890. 

Also last week I made my fifth block for Garden Mosaic  (I'm calling mine Fractured Rainbows). Only 11 more to go!!  

 But I have all 2048 HSTs made and those pieces sewn into various parts - a "webbed" block, and some four patches.   The part that took the longest time in making this was sorting through scraps to cut since my 2 inch scrap bin was small and not very full.  
 And then since I had gotten into the habit of making a few HSTs for Fractured Rainbows each day I dug out my Ocean Waves UFO and figured out what I needed to bring that to flimsy stage. I have 12 blocks and I think I'll need 25 sixteen inch blocks.   I had 30s reproduction 2.5 inch scraps set aside to use for these so I dug in and made HSTs for 5 blocks which are now webbed into quarter sections for the big blocks.  I like to make the quarter sections and mix and match them to make the entire block. That's basically hoping that all of the same fabrics don't end up in a block. 
An Ocean Wave block. 

Sunday, July 22, 2018

This and That - Handwork

I work on a variety of small handwork projects when it's too hot to hand quilt a large quilt. 

 All Creatures Great and Small
EPP Hexies - New Additions
I now have 88 hexies. 

 Staying Neutral
Crazy Quilt
2 new six inch blocks
Butterfly chain, lots of bullion rosebuds and flyleaf leaves
I also crocheted a snowflake and stitched it to a block with some couched fluffy yarn scraps that remind me of blowing snow. 

Chicken Scratch Sashing
And I've been slowly doing some chicken scratch embroidery. Each strip will be a sashing for a quilt. I only need 84 strips of chicken scratch.  Only 84! Who's idea was this? 

Meanwhile I've been eating, drying and pickling peppers...

 ...contemplating making sauerkraut since most of last year's supply is gone...
 ...eating and pickling cucumbers. Notice my old wire hanger trellis? It has lasted many years. 
 And I spend some time enjoying nature's flower arrangements.  The blue flowers are actually wildflowers  - tall bellflowers - that planted themselves there around a clump of Stargazer Lilies. 
But I don't think I'll stop and smell these roses. Darned Japanese Beetles!!!!!