Monday, December 29, 2014

Ocean quilt

On my design floor today:  Ocean quilt.  Half log cabins arranged in a ladder formation.  These are 3 strips with 3 more to go.  Yep, I like square quilts.  I will probably border the quilt with a pale green that moves from almost no color to light green.

After this quilt, I think I'll take a break from log cabins, although there are some wonky ones I'd like to try.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Today's Menorah

Tonight we light 3 candles + the shamash (the candle that lights the 3).  No latkes or other fried foods.  The Hubz is on a diet, and all that greasy goodness makes my acid reflux go through the roof.  We'll pretend.

I tried to photograph it on the table, but it is so dark and gloomy in my dining room that the results were bad.  I promise you that we won't light the candles on the chair.

Is she not the cutest Statue of Liberty?  I love her face.

Pretty much the immigration story of early 20th century.  My family came here much later.  My grandma on my mother's side was widowed while she was pregnant with her third child.  She had a sister here already.  So when her kids were just about old enough (my mom was about 6!), she left them with her mother, my great-grandmother, and came here to make a new life for herself and her children.  My great aunt, Tzili Neni (Aunt Tzili in Hungarian) sponsored her.  Mom and her brothers came here sometime in 1928.  The three young teens traveled by themselves from Szalard, Rumania (which was Hungarian before WWI) to New York.  None of them spoke a word of English.  Can you imagine your kids doing this today?

My dad got his parents out of Vienna, Austria right after the Anschluss.  They were smart and saw the Nazis coming in and knew they had to escape.  His brother made it to what was then Palestine.  His sister and husband barely got out and went to England.

So that immigration menorah truly speaks to me.  It's my favorite!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Happy First Day of Chanukah

Jewish holidays start at sunset the night before, so we lit the first candle last night.  Today is the second day of Chanukah, and that's why there are two candles on the right.  The one on the left is used to light the other candles.

Is this not the cutest menorah?  We have a small collection of them.  Tomorrow I'll pick another one.

Traditionally we eat latkes (potato pancakes) or doughnuts for the holiday.  But the Hubz and I don't do this because the last thing we want is more fried food.

Here is the story of Chanukah.

It's an important story because it celebrates religious freedom, but is actually a minor holiday in the Jewish calendar.  We don't bother with gift exchanging; we have enough trouble figuring out birthdays.  But we do give our kids and grands gifts.  Nothing crazy or outrageous.  Just some nice presents.  It's a pretty low-key holiday.  It is not the Jewish Christmas.  There is NO Jewish Christmas.  Christmas celebrates Jesus' birth;  Chanukah celebrates religious freedom..  It's just that the two holidays fall at the same time of year, so there is this sense that it is the Jewish Christmas.  

Edited at 4 PM today:  Stay tuned for an equally adorable menorah for tomorrow.  This one is probably my favorite!

Monday, December 15, 2014

Design bed Monday

The design floor was occupied with furniture so I had to lay out the blocks onto the bed.  The blocks look somewhat seasick as a result.  Pics taken at different angles so the diagonal is not the same in each pic.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Design floor Monday

Building my log cabins

This is where I started from.  I did add some more lights.  I always need more lights.  I think I should concentrate on buying them.  I'm always drawn to mediums, both in knitting and quilting, and darks are not hard to add.  It's finding the right light fabrics that's difficult. 

So now you get the picture.  These are half log cabins. They'll get 2 more lights and 2 more darks.  I think they'll end up as 10" squares.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014


I love batiks!  When I look at them, my mouth starts to salivate and I can actually taste them.  Weird, but that's how I react to color, and batiks are all about color. 

So, I'm thinking of a half log cabin block.  Possible arrangement is a ladder, but who knows?  I have to sew them first.

At first I was going to combine purples with the green/blue/turqs fabrics, but changed my mind.  So of course, I'll then have to do a purple quilt.  This is so addictive.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving!

Share the earth's bounty and be thankful for all we have!

Monday, November 10, 2014

Design floor Monday

Log cabins again.  I cannot get enough of strippy quilts:  log cabins and string quilts rule!  All that color play and very little point matching.  It's all about the color for me. 

I bought this jelly roll a couple of years ago and it's been marinating ever since:  Bittersweet by Benartex.  Sometimes fine fabric has to age while you think of what to do with it.  With all the fall foliage around here, and in my part of New Jersey, we have gorgeous color for weeks, I wanted to do something autumnal, and this is it.  I tossed in a few batiks and some lights to add enough strips. 

Sophie the Sewing Machine contributed with needle down and automatic cutting.  I don't know how she does it, but she truly saves me time and thread.  And no, I still can't sew a straight line, but who cares.  It works well enough.  And anyhow, it's the color that I love.

And a better shot of the colors, taken on my bed, so not straight, but the color is better, although it's too washed out.  Ah well.

When I'm going to sew this all together is anybody's guess.  I have orders from the Frozen Northland for toddler socks and middle school socks, plus a hat or two for the toddler.  And I've run out of my own dyed yarns.  Well, I have plenty of them, but mostly they are green, and I'm now sick of green.  So it's the dye pots today, and then serious knitting all week long.  Gotta keep those grands toasty, especially since winter is now in Minneapolis.  They are supposed to get 14" of snow today.  And that, boys and girls, is why I'm not moving to Minnesota.  I love it there, but 6 months of snow and winter is not for me.  Give me NJ any time.  Although if we have the same kind of winter that we had last year, then I'm going to hide under my bed for the duration of the winter. 

Monday, November 3, 2014

Machine quilting is finished!

Thanks to Judy of Gramma's quilting room for all her encouragement!  I did it! 

I finished machine quilting my friend's quilt.  I did semi circles on all the squares, and then stitch in the ditch along the edges of each block.

I marked the little semi circles with washable blue pens (I've done this many times with hand embroidery) and then wet them thoroughly with cold water to erase them.  In the process, I realized that I can now start to see crinkling.  The picture isn't the greatest because I just dumped the quilt onto the floor and didn't smooth it out at all.  

Here's the quilting from the backside.  I have no idea why it looks blue when it really is white with faint green circles.  The light, I suspect.  At any rate, you can see the quilting.  I don't like heavily quilted pieces; they feel board-like to me.  I want fluid and cuddly, so this should work very well.

Here's another view of the quilt.

So today's job is to buy fabric for the binding.  I'm thinking more blue and yellow, but I'll see.

Sophie, my lovely little machine, does this tie-off thingie where it reinforces the stitching at the beginning and end of each line, and then cuts the threads.  I think I've save hours of tying off and burying threads with this feature.  Yep, this is one wonderful machine.

So now I'm thinking that I'd like to start to learn free motion quilting.  This is not something I've ever been interested in, mostly because I thought it was totally beyond me.  But now I think it's possible.  I reserved some books at the library, and will make up some little quilt sandwiches and see what I can do.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Design floor Monday

I'm happily machine quilting this cutie quilt for my friend, Judy.  She wanted a quilt with blues and yellows, and I had a flimsy already finished.  I didn't quilt it up because hand quilting hurts my hands if done properly, and if I do a normal running stitch, it still hurts me to hold all that fabric, plus it takes forever.  So I kept putting it off. 
And then I bought Sophie. Sophie with needle down.  As a knitter, I know that the right tools make the job so much easier, and this lovely Pfaff was worth every penny just because of needle down.  That little feature makes machine quilting easy.  You stop, the needle goes down.  The fabric doesn't wander away, you can pivot without losing your place.  Oh my, oh really my!  I've been driving the Hubz and DD crazy with my talking about it.  

So far, with only 17 blocks quilted, I have to say that it doesn't come easily to me, but then, nothing with sewing is easy for me.  Hand embroidery is easy, but a machine is another matter.  It doesn't help that I started with gentle curves that start and end within a square.  Had I been sensible, I would have done straight line quilting.  But why would I be sensible when I can struggle?  It is getting much easier and faster.  Clearly I have a learning curve here, and maybe that's the best part.  It's good to struggle with something new.  Good for the grey matter and for the soul.  And now I'm busy planning the next quilting.  Maybe I'll just practice stitch in the ditch!  I did get a foot just for that.
What I need to learn and/or practice on:  figuring out a way to get the fabric to slide easier.  I want it to glide.  And probably getting some quilting gloves to aid in moving that baby around.  I don't seem to have much trouble with all that fabric, just getting it to move easier.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Learning how to machine quilt

Who knew that figuring out how to machine quilt would have a serious learning curve?  So now I have a headache.  My brain is exhausted.  It's hard to do this.  OK, I did 2 practice blocks yesterday, and today I started on a real quilt.  

Yesterday I got brave and started to play with quilting a pineapple block.  Boy did I learn a lot.  After 2 conversations with those poor folks at Style Fabrics about puckers (yes, that dreaded word.)  I lengthened my stitch to 3, used serious body strength to make sure that the sneaky little fabric was taut, and began from the inside out.  

Clearly puckers are not what I want.  I don't care too much if there are puckers on the wrong side as long as they are not humongous.  After all, I am not a Real Quilter.  Real Quilters care; I don't.  But puckers on the right side are another matter.  So today I gathered up my courage and started to sew.  I've now done 2 blocks out of 72, and the second one took me 20 minutes from marking the fabric through tying off the threads at the back.  Not too bad, I think.

If I were a drinking woman, I'd have a large glass of wine at this point.  This is not easy, but the second block was faster and better than the first.  And my friend is needle down.  Oh, how I love needle down.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Welcome, Sophie!

We are happy to announce a new member of our family:  Sophie the Sewing Machine.

She was picked up Saturday morning in Kingston, NY at Style Fabrics about 11:30 (and some good lesson time) and arrived at our house at 3-ish.

She is a Pfaff 4.2, with a bunch of bells and whistles, including needle-down!

We set her up, and then I promptly forgot all the instructions on winding the bobbin, installing the bobbin, and threading the needle.  But a quick phone call to the store gave me all the info.  So now I can do all those necessary things, plus change the needle because, ahem, I managed to damage it. 

Now she is up and running and busy assembling some sort of half-log cabin block.  

She does the prettiest decorative stitches.  I can see why people buy embroidery machines, and I'm a hand stitcher from way back when.  I played around with all of them, and I have to get some stabilizer so that my fabric won't pucker.  I'm thinking of incorporating these stitches in my quilting.  Yep, Real quilters wouldn't do this, but I'm not a Real quilter, so I can do what I want.

Why the name Sophie?  Because she sews, silly.  Other than my car, I've never named an inanimate object before, but clearly she is Sophie.

BTW, if you are in the Hudson Valley (we are in northern NJ) and are looking for a great sewing machine store, I recommend Style Fabrics.  They sell and service Pfaffs. They are very knowledgeable, friendly, and they don't blanch when I ask dopey questions.  A lovely selection of fabrics and books and of course lots of Pfaffs.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Design Floor Monday

Finished!  A soft, pastel Boxed Stars quilt.

Finished a couple of weeks ago, but with the Jewish High Holidays going on for a few weeks, I just never had the time to post.

She needs a border, and I think I have enough of that white material to make a 2.5" border around.

I loved doing this.  My points are not perfect.  Hey, they are not even half perfect.  They were pretty good until I boxed the stars, and then most of them did not line up nicely with the box border, but I really don't care.  I['m far more interested in the color play than in sewing perfection.  Anyhow, whoever gets this quilt won't care either.  That's the advantage of being the only quilter in my family.  They all love what I do, and don't know enough to see the mistakes.  Hah!

Monday, September 15, 2014

Design Table Monday

I'm boxing my stars.  

Here are some more.

 I just ordered yet another book on quilting as you go.  I really don't like the process of making the quilt sandwich.  What I want is to make the individual blocks, then make a mini-sandwich of backing, batting and block, quilt it (either by hand or machine) and then join the blocks as I go along.  I've been looking at various techniques and am still searching for the perfect one.  Which I may never find.  

At any rate, these guys will all be joined up.  A white border, and that's it.

Have I told you just how much I love making these?

Friday, September 12, 2014

No more inept quiltarian.

I'm still in starry heaven.  Who knew that flying geese could be such fun?  Way back when I started quilting, I did a couple of Schnibbles, and one of the patterns included tons of flying geese.  So, being brave and dumb, I made tons of the geese.  I used Carrie's method, which works for most people, but not for me.  This time, I made rectangles with folding corners, and I can do it!  By golly, I'm a real quilter!  Like knitting, the quilting world has lots of ways to make the same object. And one of these days, I'm going back to making Schnibbles!

I boxed in one of the stars and I like how it looks. I have 4 different fabrics for the boxes.  This star is my first star before I got those points correct.  I'll keep it just to remind me of how far I've gotten.  Besides, I like the color.

And i am no longer an inept quiltarian.  Well until the next time something messes up.  Eh, who cares, I'm learning and having fun.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

More Stars.

I think I'm a star-crossed lover.  I love making stars.  Yes, I know what the original phrase means.  But I like making stars and then arranging them, and crossing them over each other.  Sigh.


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