Saturday, May 31, 2008

48 blocks

For Lyn, my commenter the other day, yes I only have 24 hours a day too, LOL. I have taken advantage of the fact that my mother only had 2 dr. appointments this week plus I did their grocery shopping, so that left a lot of hours for ME. My concentration level is way down when she has so many appointments and I have to be watching the clock all of the time. This week I was able to concentrate on my projects. I finished the other 26 blocks yesterday (it was raining so I had to stay inside) and I used 48 of the 52 blocks to do this layout. If I sewed it together now it would only be 48" x 64". I do want to do a similar border to the one in the magazine so that would add 8" to each of those measurements. I definitely have enough fabric to make more blocks, but with my short attention span, I think I may be off and running for the next idea, another one with the chains in 2 different directions. These are the 4 leftovers currently but I need to work that upper right one into the quilt. That leaf print is one of the "Nancy Crow for John Kaldor" fabrics from the early 1990's. I have that print in most of the colors and it is one of my very favorite fabrics.
My first peony bush bloomed yesterday. It is really more of a burgundy red than this picture (taken with my old camera). When I moved into this house in 1972 there were 43 peony bushes in neat rows taking up half of the back yard. There were 42 different varieties, only one repeat. I have dug out and given away some, moved some to other areas, but I still have at least 37 bushes.
The peonies usually bloom before Memorial Day but we had a cool spring so they are taking their time blooming this year.

Since I still live within 25 miles of where I was born, I only know one area of the country well. I didn't know that there weren't the pretty blue jays everywhere in the US. It is so neat to have all of the blogs to visit and commenters to help me learn about the other areas. I have been to FL and NC and CO, WY, and MT but I can't say that I had my eyes wide open when it came to nature. Thank you everyone for helping me to see more.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Some progress

I had 26 blocks done by bedtime last night from the fabrics I showed yesterday (plus a few more). They are really easy construction, and again it is the fabric that makes it interesting. I have enough strips sewn for 4 patches to make another 26 blocks. The bottom right block is the wrong color way but I didn't want to go down to take another picture. The light chains angle to the right and the dark chains angle to the left. I can see I will have to check and double check when I get to the final layout. Here is the inspiration quilt in an old magazine. They used "almost solid" type fabrics where I used a lot of prints.
I have my Blogger account set to send me an email when someone leaves me a comment. Yesterday 4 of the comments weren't sent to me. Also I have tried to leave comments on some blogs and they don't go through. I got an email from someone who tried to leave me a comment and it didn't get through. This is kind of like the letter that slides into an unknown region at the post office and the letter never gets to its destination. It is frustrating.

I usually try to respond to the commenters that don't come through as "no reply". (For my friends who read my blog and aren't bloggers, this means you who leave comments as anonymous and those who are bloggers but don't have their email address on their profile. You are "no reply" commenters. If I don't know you personally I cannot respond to your comment. ) I like to reply to thank the commenter for taking the time to say something to me or to answer a question they might have had.

I see some blogs have comment moderation set so that they can screen the comments before they show them on their post. At first I thought that was very controlling of the person and that maybe they only wanted to show the positive comments. THEN I got a couple of those comments that we want to screen out. Luckily I was notified of the receipt of them in my email box so I could go in and delete them before anyone else saw them. Isn't it a shame that our simple, uplifting, happy blogs have to be poisoned by a few inconsiderate people?

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Mr. and Mrs. Goldfinch

I think the Goldfinches really want me to know they are still around. This guy landed on the bush outside my window but by the time I got my camera, he was over on the tree. He posed for me though. And then he decided it was lunch time.
Mrs. Goldfinch landed on the crossbar of my window but the picture didn't turn out good. Here she is eating some of the little pieces on the forsythia bush.
I have to start a new project. Here are about half of the fabrics that I am going to use. I'm using a simple pattern from an old quilt magazine, plain square and 4 patches that make a chain block. I'll show some progress tomorrow. So far I have just cut some strips and the larger squares.
I finished planting the rest of the perennials and some of the annuals yesterday. It is supposed to rain tonight so I need to finish planting the annuals today.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Vertical wins!

After much consideration and from the votes from you the readers, I have decided on the vertical orientation for this piece. I hadn't considered putting any borders on it but now I am going to experiment with that. It is .75" longer on the left than on the right and I'm not sure trimming will work so I might be able to correct that with a border. Thanks to tiktakro and floribunda in their comments yesterday, I have decided this is some variety of honeysuckle (lonicera). I have been to a couple different sites for identification and there are 2 varieties that seem the closest. These flowers don't have the long trumpet shape bloom like some of the varieties. Some of them are considered invasive so I think this one is going to get trimmed way back in the fall so there won't be so many berries. Once I see what color the berries are I will be able to better identify the variety. This is a non-fragrant variey unfortunately.

You can see in this picture that the trunk and branches are a grayish woody texture.
Up closer to the house the deep rose columbine is starting to bloom. I'm hoping to move one of these plants around to the back garden this summer.
It was 80 degrees and humid on Monday and was only in the low 50's yesterday. I had the heat on this morning to take the chill off the house.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Playing with new blocks

I haven't made very many of the new blocks yet, but I have to put them up on the wall to see what is happening. Here is a horizontal layout. Then I took the blocks down and tried a vertical layout. I can see I need a lot more blocks to get a good transition from light to dark. I'll probably make blocks for about 2 weeks. I tried adding in a little black and white. I think maybe I'll do one where all of the centers are black and white.
Here are the little star flowers that just appeared in my back garden a few years ago. I remember them from when I was a small child and we had them in the front yard. Out on the farm we had a huge front yard which wasn't mowed when I was real little. I think it started getting mowed the year after the bumblebee nests were in there and my older brother was almost old enough to help with the mowing.
I have 3 of these bush/trees growing in the back yard now. They just appeared about 3 years ago. I cut them down but they grow right up to 4' again. Here is a full picture and
here is a closeup of the flowers. The flowers are on the top of the branches at every spot that leaves branch off. I think I saw trees with these same flowers along the long driveway into the nursery where I got my plants. Unfortunately I was on my way out when I saw them and it is a one lane drive about 1/4 mile long so I didn't want to turn around and go back and ask if they knew what they are.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Since you asked....

Several readers have asked for a little more info on how I make my units for my latest quilt. A few have hinted that they would like to try this. Go for it! The picture below shows the units before they are cut into final shape. I use any size strips that are in my scrap bins. The narrowest should be at least an inch wide, preferably just a little wider because it will get trimmed slightly. I use anything up to 3" wide.I have already trimmed 2 sides and now I am lining up to trim the other 2 sides. My "rule" that I made for myself is that they can be any inch measurement plus1/2"'. I have used everything from 2.5" to 7.5" in my previous quilt. You can see that if I allowed myself to use even inch measurements I wouldn't have to trim away so much on this one.
On this one I have just laid the ruler on the block to see the largest I can cut it. Then I decide how much gets trimmed off of which edges. I may want the center square to be off center so I decide which fabrics I like the most and where I will trim the least. Since this one will be 3.5" x 4.5" I can use it either in the 3.5" row of units of in the 4.5" row when I do my layout.

I hadn't seen the goldfinches for about 3 weeks. Then yesterday there were a couple of them in my yard again, checking out the finch feeder sack. A few minutes later this little guy flew up to my window sill and started pecking at the window. He wouldn't sit still for very long so 4 of the pictures were blurry.

I love the look of this ground cover with the branches of pink flowers over it.
It is sunny and humid today. It was already 60 degrees when I got up. Happy Memorial Day to everyone.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

It was so much fun I'm doing it again

That last quilt top was so much fun I am starting another. I guess you call this a series. I want to make 3 or 4 smaller pieces trying out different ideas. Here is the first Spiderwort bloom.
The pink columbines are just starting to bloom.
Here is the pink columbine plant. It is about 2 feet tall now.
One of my grandsons graduates from high school today, the other grandson graduated Friday. It is supposed to be a sunny warm day turning to rain late afternoon. I need some rain on my freshly planted perennials.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Color in my garden

In 1995 I tore out the ugly evergreen bushes that were so typical of a 1950's ranch house setting. I took a small landscaping class through our park district and learned about the different colors of foliage. So many plants just flower for such a short time that you need to have varieties of leaf colors to keep the landscaping colorful. What I didn't realize was how much trimming the bushes need to keep them manageable sizes. The taller green bush up by the windows hides a window air conditioner so I don't mind it being in front of the windows, but I put it in there just 4 years ago and have trimmed it drastically each year. I got a gift certificate to a local greenhouse for Mother's Day so I finally had time to go shopping yesterday. I got three more Heucheras (coral bells) with different leaf colors. I also got a sedum in an interesting leaf color. 6 plants are annuals, some for the last pot that sits in front of the garage between the doors and some for the ground.
I think it will be warm enough to enjoy working outside today.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Rainy morning

Yesterday was a long, tiring day. I got groceries for my parents and myself but because the bananas were totally green I then had to make a trip to Wal-Mart. By the time I delivered their groceries and put away mine it was time for the hour trip to the IL Retinal Center. The highlight of the trip was eating at Baker's Square a few blocks from the Dr. office. We went there first, using the gift card they got for Christmas since our local (20 miles away) Baker's Square closed. I took a cooler along and we all got pieces of pie to take home. Mother's appointment was for 2:05 p.m. but we didn't get out of there until 3:50 p.m. She had accidentally pushed the button for "not coming" when she got the automated phone call the day before so they had to work her in. They will be calling me from now on with the reminder call. My mother is hard of hearing and can't even figure out who the call is from with that automated voice and the button pushing was accidental.

And now, on to my green world. I love my plants. This first picture is 4 different hostas, evening primrose (cup of gold) on the left and Sedum and threadleaf coreopsis on the top right.
I had to dig up one bed that had the hostas too near to the grass so I divided the plant and potted the "babies". I will leave them in pots all summer to let the root base strengthen.
Then on a different day I tackled the front flower bed. Two of the hostas needed to be moved away from the more aggressive plants. I decided to divide one of them while I had it dug up. All of these "babies" came from one plant and the main plant is still pretty big.
The robins sit on my front railing and do their "job" onto my porch pots. Luckily this one has multicolor geranium leaves so it isn't so noticeable. The darker plants on the steps below need a bath because it is obvious on them.
I have the day to myself until 4 p.m so I think I will play with some fabric. It's raining so I can't go outside............

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Top sewn together, horizontal or vertical?

I sewed the top together yesterday. I have been working with it in the horizontal orientation as I designed and sewed rows. It has turned out to approximately 47" x 37", bigger than I thought it would be when I started it. After I assembled each row, I moved some of the rows to different positions too. Then I turned it vertically after I had pressed it and was ready to take a picture. I like it both ways. I guess the question is now, do I put on 2 hanging sleeves so it can be hung either way? It all depends on the shape of the wall space it will hang in I guess.
Here are the same weigela bushes from a few days ago with all of the blossoms fully opened.
The pale pink one is just starting to open.
The red one just has buds. It usually has flowers off and on all summer.
The sun is shining this morning, still chilly here. We are headed an hour away to the Retinal Eye Clinic this afternoon for Mother. She has had 4 other appointments this week and one more tomorrow. I know more about some medical conditions than I ever wanted to know and none of them are mine.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Ready to sew

I have been sewing more blocks for this piece the last couple nights. I decided last night to do a layout and see if I needed more. After I took this picture I started sewing rows. It will change a little in the sewing because some rows are mostly narrower blocks (more seams) and some rows are wider blocks. I will have to make some blocks to fill in at the ends of the short rows. I think I will keep working on this idea and continue to make more blocks.

My email is down this morning. I have internet, just no email. I tried sending myself an email from my yahoo account but nothing is coming through to Comcast. I guess I will call and see what the problem is. I called and they are checking on the problem. I can send from Comcast, just can't recieve. Here is my alternate email if you need to contact me.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Edge finish

I decided to describe a little more how I do this edge finish. After the comments yesterday I see this finish is one that many haven't tried. I only use it on placemats, tablerunners, baby quilts, and on some lap quilts. It isn't as sturdy feeling as a regular binding. It is a fast finish for a quilt that will be used and washed often.

First, the quilt has to have straight edges. If it is wiggly and wavy this doesn't work very well. I do my basting and quilting first. Then I trim the batting even with the edge of the top. Then I slide a cutting mat under the edge and start trimming the backing to the same width all the way around the quilt. If your narrowest piece of backing extending is 3/4" then you trim to that size all around the quilt. In other words, plan ahead. If you want to trim to 1" make sure you have that much extending on all sides. I do not press or pin. I start at one corner and turn the cut edge in to the edge of the top and then turn in again and start topstitching. You don't want to pull the edging toward yourself as you do this or you will stretch it and have to work pleats into it. Overhandling the fabric is a beginners biggest mistake. A light touch turning it in twice and then stitching is all it needs. The corners are folded into miters. Practice it by making coasters or potholders.
I made another batch of these pieces last night. I really want to get back to that one and get it sewn together. When I went out to the kitchen to press these blocks I noticed my security light was on in the back yard, and lo and behold, the possum was out there. He scooted away too fast for me to get a picture. This morning I saw a baby bunny along with 6 squirrels and lots of birds. I have my own little wilderness right here in town.
Two more days of low 60's and then we are supposed to warm up. I have the heat on again this morning.

Monday, May 19, 2008


It was in the 30's this morning and I had to turn the heat on to take the chill off the house. There was a brisk breeze yesterday and cooler temperatures. We get spoiled with a couple really nice days in the upper 70's.

I quilted this little quilt while watching the season finale of Desperate Housewives. I did all ditch quilting in the center and free motion in the border.
I think I will just fold the backing over the edges for the binding so I have trimmed the batting even with the quilt top. Now I just need to trim the backing to an even width and then fold in twice and topstitch. The free motion is a series of loops and swirls.
I have to finish up with a picture of the mourning doves. I have several pairs of them living near me.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Latest blooms

I have 4 Weigela bushes. When I bought these 2 the guy at the nursery said to keep them trimmed back every year. I haven't done these for 3 years so this year I will have to be ruthless with them. The pink ones bloom first. My other 2 bushes must be a different variety because they aren't growing as fast. They also bloom at a later time. These 2 bushes are always overloaded with blooms.
I did the porch pots last night. I snapped off some of the geranium blooms hoping the plants will fill in instead of growing taller. In another 4 weeks they will be looking better.
I have the border on the store sample now.
I decided on footprints since there are cats, monkeys and parrots in the prints.
The sun is shining but it is supposed to only reach 60 degrees today. It is my youngest granddaughter's 12th birthday today.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Finally some quilting

Last night I cut some pieces for another store sample. this pattern is called Fractions and I'm using some Laurel Burch fabrics, some from the store, some from my own collection. I need to make the store samples small because of limited wall space so it is 3 blocks by 4 instead of 4 x 5. I'm ready to sew the blocks together and I will go back today and pick out a border. Early spring flowers: forget me nots. Also a little creeping Charlie to keep it company.
Hardy geranium.
This bird came back to visit so I could take a picture with my new camera. He is so elegant looking and struts around like he owns the place.
Today I will plant my porch pots. One of the nursing homes in town had a fund raiser selling plants Thursday and Friday. I got geraniums for $3.75 and got several different varieties.