Sunday, September 26, 2021

Quilting the Challenge Quilt--One Monthly Goal Met and a FINISH!

One cornerstone sunshine quilted
Quilting texture and a curved design in the cornerstones were all the clues I had before I began the "fun" quilting on this piece. I picked three colors of Floriani 40 weight polyester gray threads from my stash. I looked at the quilt. I made some temperature blocks. I looked at the quilt. Honestly, I was stuck!

Gertie came to my rescue. She reminded me that I wanted to stitch a similar curved design in each cornerstone. I looked through my quilting rulers. I chalked some lines to get an idea how a design might look. I saw something that I liked so I quilted it.

I used a charcoal gray thread to quilt the design. I did use a ruler that I haven't had success in using in the past. I liked the thread and I liked the space that I could use later to quilt a little definition or shadow.
Ruler and stitched echos

Had I thought to place a piece of tape on the line of the ruler that I was using, I would have ripped less. In the end, I quilted all the spaces and I asked Gertie to be thinking about designs to place in some of the spaces. 

The reason I haven't had success with these rulers is that they have a post which often I end up banging into the back of the foot of my machine or I forget where the end of the ruler is until I find I can't move the project. Then I realize that I have one end of the ruler lodged against the side of the machine. 

Part of the inner border quilted
I bought the entire set of these Fine Line rulers based on another quilter saying they worked great for her. I wished I had tried them before buying!! Still I used three of them to quilt this project. Perhaps, there is hope that I will figure out how to use them after all! It is challenging to hold and position the longer rulers. The smaller rulers help me have better success at the quilting design.

Gertie, my inner squirrel, and I had a number of conferences regarding the best way to add texture to the borders. During one of our meetings, she mentioned she had heard that this was such a plain project. She asked if it was possible to ramp up the quilting so that it elevated the string piecing. I asked if I could figure out a design so that it too could add to the illusion of the project. Gertie liked my question and I liked her question. 

I thought about dividing the space so that if I were looking to the project from a height, each border would have a little different amount of the design showing. Then, I tried to quilt a line to divide the space. I couldn't hold the ruler. 
Design after the first border was quilted

I was in a car accident in 2009 where I was rear ended/shoved into the car in front of me; then rear ended/shoved into the car in front of me a second time. Over time, I've improved a lot; but, I have reduced feeling
in my fingers. I think I have a hold of something; but, I don't! I needed to figure out an alternate option to divide the space.

In the end, I used the blue wash away Clover marker, the ruler to mark the line. I quilted it with the walking foot and then I added three more lines of quilting to give more definition between the two areas. I did find that I needed to stitch with a white thread on the white fabric. 
The three borders and corner stone

Once I had defined the two areas; I free motion quilted some texture on the inside of the border. I followed up with quarter inch lines in the outer section of the border. I liked it. My plan then was to increase the free motion area in the other two borders while decreasing the straight line quilting area in the other two borders.

In the second border, I increased the curve depth which decreased the straight line quilting. I didn't follow a mathematical plan. If it looked good to my eye, I went with
it. (Gertie agreed!)
Auditioning more lines

It was challenging to mirror a similar curve to the first border; but, I feel I managed to get close. I did enjoy stretching my ability to combine motifs in the free motion areas. I'm still working to improve my ability to create an even area of dense and less dense quilting! I know that ability will come with more practice.

For the third border, I again decreased the straight line quilting. My thought was that if I were looking into the quilt, I would see more lines and less of the pattern. While I did enjoy the quilting process, it took, as my seven year old granddaughter would say, 
Cornerstone with additional lines
a L O N G time! 

Once I finished the border quilting, Gertie and I turned our attention to the corner stones. I tried a variation of a ribbon motif in the center of the shape; but, it didn't feel "right." I ended up adding texture similar to what I stitched in the borders. That quilting felt "right" and Gertie agreed with me. I was perplexed about how to treat the echo quilting around the shape. As it was, it felt like I hadn't finished. I quilted more lines and then it felt "right!" 

After, about fifty hours of quilting, I finished the quilting. I added the binding, label and sleeve. It measures 72 inches square. I had a FINISH! My friend, Martha, would have enjoyed seeing this finish. After all, I used her strings to make it!

Label
This was goal number one on my September list. It was my One Monthly Goal! It was also goal number one on my third quarter goal list. I'm linking to Patty at Elm Street Quilts One Monthly Goal - September Finish Link-up. I'm also linking to Cynthia at Oh Scrap/Quilting is More Fun Than Housework

I used 13 yards of fabric from my stash for this project. I created about four yards of fabric from my strings! But, I've purchased six yards of fabric so I have a net loss of 16 1/4 yards of fabric from my stash this year.

You can read previous posts about this project. . 

Regarding COVID:
Finished quilt
Worldwide: 219M cases; 4.55M deaths
United States: 42.9M cases; 688K deaths
Oregon: 321K cases; 3,682 deaths

In spite of an increasing number of vaccinations, case numbers are still high. In Oregon, 66 percent have received one dose of the vaccine and 60 percent are fully vaccinated.  It is heartening to see the vaccination numbers increase each week. I wish the percentage were much higher. . .sigh.
A peak of the pieced back

A couple school districts in the state returned to online classes because of the high number of students out of class because of isolating from COVID exposure, testing positive for COVID or recovering from COVID. 

A classmate of my chiropractor's son, who is ten, tested positive for COVID. This knowledge caused him to be tested which turned out to be negative; but he still had to isolate and be retested last Friday. I hope he had a second negative result. 

The Northwest Quilting Expo show ended yesterday. I hear there were a lot of people attending and that all people were wearing masks properly. I didn't attend. I also hear it was a fabulous show. I am sorry that I didn't get to see it.


Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Jingle Bell Block Exchange

Debbie, Ruth and Christie getting ready to swap blocks
In May, Debbie, one of the Mystery Mavens suggested that we do a block exchange while we between Bonnie Hunter mysteries. I haven't worked on Grassy Creek since the pattern reveal last January. I'm working to finish Frolic first. . .then, I'll get back into that project. Of course, I do plan to participate in the mystery when it actually begins in November! I digress. . . .

Regarding the block exchange, eight of us decided that we would make 24 Jingle Bell blocks and 24 hour class blocks. We said we would use our stash and scraps and that we would use complimentary colors. We also agreed that we our blocks would measure 8 1/2 inches square for the JingleBell blocks and 4 1/2 inches square for the hour glass blocks. You can read my post about the blocks here. We picked September 20th as the day for our exchange.

My blocks
We thought that we would be sewing in person by now; but, with the COVID cases and hospitalizations high in our area, we are continuing to meet via Zoom. We held our exchange on my patio. One person had to opt out because she broke her ankle, had surgery and is recovering. Two other people made blocks and said to pass them out among those participating because life wasn't going to let them put the blocks together. One person sent their blocks with another member. So in the end, we had four people actually at the exchange. 

We divided the blocks into six sets. One set of blocks is going to the woman with the injured ankle. She is going to be surprised that she will be able to play with us after all. We have generous members in our group! I'm not sure when I'll get to my blocks or what they will turn out to be. 

We wore masks; but, we still had some space for giggles. I look forward to playing with these blocks!

Sunday, September 19, 2021

Frolic is a top! (post 10)

Cutting and stitching more HSTs
In my last post about this project, I was making more half square triangles (HSTs) for the zig zag border. In that post, I thought that I had cut enough pieces to be finished with that step. Alas, I was incorrect. I needed lots more! In the end, I had leftover red HSTs. Those extras will go into the parts department for a future project. 

Stitching the sections together took me much longer than I had anticipated. To keep the boredom at bay and to keep me progressing with the project, Gertie, my inner squirrel, suggested that I figure out the corner design. 

As I worked through the design, I determined that I would need to do a bit of unstitching so that I started and ended the zig zag in the same color. Unstitching is my most unfavorite of quilting tasks, but, it wasn't a long seam and there weren't a bunch to tackle. It wasn't the daunting task unstitching can be.

Planning the corner
As I finished stitching a long section of the border, I laid it next to the top. After I had stitched the first side of the pieced border together, I measured to see what width the inner border would be. Lucky for me, it needed to be one inch finished. 

At the guild parking lot sale in July, I picked up about two-thirds of a yard of a white on white neutral fabric. This was the fabric I used to cut the inner border strips. 

Auditioning the outer border
I stitched the remaining sides of the pieced border and laid them next to the top. My corner design wouldn't work. I let the project rest overnight. The following day, I saw the issue. I had oriented the zig points inward in my corner design and outward on my top. Changing the orientation was an easy fix. I like the more color option better.

I stay stitched along the outer edge of the top. Stay stitching supports the bias edge from stretching out of shape. I used some of my grandmother's thread to stitch around the outer edge of the top. In every project, I like to add a little of my grandma who taught me how to sew! 

Trimming the top

This top is too big to lay flat anywhere in my house. For auditioning purposes, I folded it in half. After I determined the layout was going to work, I trimmed the top. Mostly, I was able to save the points during the trimming phase. I did not save the leftover crumbs!

Gertie found a HST of one block that was turned incorrectly. I did a little unsewing and resewing to correct the oops.  (Any other mistakes. . . .well, I'm not going to notice!)

The next step was to add the inner border. Gertie was telling me that I would have this step complete in no time. Her time schedule and mine didn't sync! I sewed two sides on before dinner and before I called it a day!

Finished top
The top measured about 110 inches square before I added the inner border. Two sides went on easily and two sides needed a little easing. With so many pieces in this project, the little bit of easing was much less than I thought that there might be. 

After adding the inner border, the top measured 112 inches square. It took me a couple more sewing sessions before I finally finished attaching the pieced borders. There was no easing of the pieced borders! I have no idea how that happened; but, I found stitching the border was easy! 

The top measures 120 1/2 x 120 1/2. I like it. I LOVE that I have a top. This was goal number eight on my September list. Goal number four on my third quarter list was to finish the border and I exceeded that goal! I'm linking to Cynthia at Oh Scrap/Quilting Is More Fun Than Housework.

Now to figure out the backing. The original backing fabric I chose for this project was almost six yards. That was a good start. I did locate another fabric from stash that may work as well. I'll need a 128 inch square piece of backing! 

Miss J with one row of blocks and sashing together
I want to use a wool batting and will see if I can purchase a chunk from a roll so that I only will need to piece one side of the batting. I've located a source for the batting. I also connected with Christie, from my Mystery Mavens group, who is willing to quilt a project this large. We've exchanged a number of e-mails regarding thread and the edge to edge quilting pattern. I will likely piece the batting and backing next month. I'm excited that she is excited to quilt it for me! This will be the first project that I haven't quilted myself! 

Miss J happier to have two rows stitched together
On another note, Miss J was over yesterday and stitched some rows of her churn dash blocks together. I posted about this project here. She was excited when she could put a whole row on the design wall!

Regarding COVID:

Worldwide: 219M cases; 4.55M deaths United States: 42M cases; 674K deaths Oregon: 310K cases; 3,569 deaths

In Oregon, the projection is that the cases and deaths due to COVID will decline soon. In other words, we are at our peak. The hospitals continue to operate at near capacity. Friday, the media reported that there were 58 ICU beds available and 369 regular beds available in the state. Unvaccinated people continue to make up the greatest percentage of those hospitalized. Hospital staffs continue to be stretched beyond capacity. Vaccination numbers are: 60 percent are fully vaccinated; 66 percent have received one dose. 

The Mt. Hood quilt guild did hold their meeting in person last Tuesday. I and about 20 other people attended via Zoom. We were told that 50 members attended in person. There are almost 200 guild members. From the brief pan of the audience, it didn't look like chairs were six feet apart. People speaking passed the microphone from one to another. The main speaker removed her mask during her presentation. I hope all those attending remain safe from COVID. The Zoom part was awful. You could hear the speaker; but, couldn't see much. It looked like the speaker was a white light. Maybe next month will be better. Although, my impression of the zoom group to the in person group was we weren't important enough to follow up. I hope I was incorrect.

Working at the hospital and having grandchildren who aren't old enough to be vaccinated likely skews my view regarding safe behavior to not contract COVID. I hear over and over from hospital staff, "I never would have thought we would be back in this situation after the vaccinations became available." I am so careful with cleaning touched surfaces at work as well as ensuring each person coming into the room and leaving the room sanitizes their hands. I'm exhausted by the end of the shift. I so want to go out, to travel, to be maskless and to enjoy being social. However, I remain cautious about my activities. I don't want to contract COVID nor would I want to inadvertently pass it on to my grandchildren. The mantra get vaccinated, wear a mask, wash your hands and social distance to kick COVD's butt seems simple to me. 




Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Churn Dash Quilt Progress

Learning to stop before sewing over a pin
Granddaughter, Miss J was over and spent some time working on her "Down On the Farm" quilt. I won the blocks that Clark County Quilters guild members stitched for the Spring retreat last February. I was excited when I won the blocks because I thought that Miss J would like to sew the blocks into a quilt. We had a discussion in May about her making her own quilt. She was definitely on board!

She arranged the blocks and labeled them. She picked out fabric for sashing, cornerstones and a border. In May, I posted about her project here. In August, she decided that she wanted to make progress on the project so that she could enter it a couple county fairs the following Spring and Summer.

I'm all for stepping in to provide the muscle for cutting, pinning, pressing and ripping. My hope in providing this kind of assistance is so that the sewing project remains fun and interesting. Breaks are important. If the sewing time is in five and ten minute increments, I'm on board. I, however, draw the line at providing the muscle to sew the project. As I explained to my granddaughter, I'll help you; but, I won't sew it for you!

Carefully avoiding the pin and preserving 
as much of the points as possible
We talked about the importance of not cutting off points; we also talked about the importance of having a block the right size to sew the sashing. She decided she would do the best she could. I told her that was my plan too! She thought it was funny that I would do the best I could!

After an hour. she had stitched the sashing on one row of blocks. She had stitched one row of sashing and cornerstones. She pressed all the seams that she sewed. She understands the concept of pressing; but, finds "ironing" a quicker end to the process. We continue to practice the pressing concept! The concept of a quarter inch seam is not of importance yet. She does grasp the concept that sewing over pins can be dangerous to her with a pin piece flying into her face or eye. 

She also understands that the machine might not sew well after hitting a pin. While she found servicing the machine an interesting activity, she decided that it wasn't an activity she wanted to do again anytime soon because she needed to spend time sewing on her project! At seven years old, she has good critical thinking abilities.

Our next session was after a school dat. It was about a 20 minute session. She stitched the first row of blocks together and a row of sashing and corner stones. She even started piecing the second row. We will continue to stitch on this project as she has time after school on Tuesdays and Thursdays. (Those are the days they spend a little time with me and my husband.) This was goal number seven on my September list.

On a side note, an Australian quilter, Karin, who blogs at The Quilt Yarn noted in a comment that she was following me! I was humbled and honored. I've been following Karin on her quilting journey for some time now. I enjoy reading her posts. I hope you will check out her blog and follow her too!

Sunday, September 12, 2021

September Rainbow Scrap Challenge (RSC) Blocks

Miss K chain piecing string blocks
This month, I have a ghost sewer to help me with completing the Rainbow Scrap Challenge (RSC) blocks. My nine year old granddaughter is excited about sewing! (Be still my heart!

She started a string project when she sewed on my lap; but, other activities caught her eye. She had forgotten about the project. I showed it to her. She decided that she wanted to work on her top after her sister finished her quilt top. The reason for the wait is that both projects are at the design wall stage and I only have one space!

An "X" orientation of four blocks
While she is waiting to work on her project, she is practicing sewing with a quarter inch seam stitching string blocks. When she sewed on my lap, she enjoyed choosing the fabrics the most. Now, she wants to sew seam after seam. Sometimes, she wants to press; but running the machine is her favorite. I'm encouraging her to continue her favorite part of the process!

I pin the strips to the blocks; she sews; I press and we repeat the process. Actually, the process went fast. In a couple of hours, she had stitched four blocks. As she stitched, she hummed songs and asked lots of questions about the RSC.

Her preferred layout
Some of her questions were: Why these blocks? Why 12 blocks? What made you decide to participate in the challenge? Have you kept up? What were the other colors? How long does it last? What do other people do? They make a different blocks with the same color? Does that mean they make more than one quilt?

About the time that she asked the question, What are you going to do with your blocks?, she had sewn four blocks! I  trimmed the blocks and she arranged them into an "X" layout.  I told her that the blocks would be a quilt and that I would have 80 blocks. She thought 80 was a "huge" amount.

Next blocks
I showed her the square layout which she liked better. She asked if the next time she was over could she make more of these blocks. My answer was a resounding, "Yes!" By the way, there was a next time and in about 20 minutes she managed to stitch about half of a second set of four blocks. Since she is becoming more comfortable with running the machine and more accurate with a quarter inch seam, I plan to ready another four blocks for stitching.

She was disappointed learning that next month will be the end of the challenge for this year. She thought lime green was a great next color. When I said that I hoped she would be on board for figuring out the layout for the blocks, she was interested being part of the design team.

I also let her know that there likely would be another challenge next year since this challenge has been ongoing for a number of years. She is interested in participating which would be a ton of fun. I've decided to let her stitch the blocks. If "we" don't finish the orange blocks this month, I'm okay with whenever we finish! This is goal number nine in my September list.

I'm linking up with Angela and the Rainbow Scrap Challenge.  I'm also linking to Cynthia at  and Quilting Is More Fun Than Housework.

Regarding COVID:

Worldwide: 219M cases; 4.55M deaths; United States: 41M cases; 660K deaths; Oregon: 297K cases; 3,419 deaths. In Oregon, 65% of the population has received one dose of the vaccine and 59% are fully vaccinated. This morning I learned that a fully vaccinated friend attended a wedding and came down with COVID. She said she wore a mask all the time except at the wedding. She also said she believed her symptoms would have been much worse had she not been vaccinated. 

Yesterday was the 20th anniversary of the September 11 attack. I remember the event clearly. I was teaching a water aerobics class when we heard the news from a lap swimmer. At that time, I worked at the local chapter of the American Red Cross. Until the volunteers could be mobilized, all staff were manning phone lines answering the incoming calls of how people could help. I will never forget those early days and how people of all different opinions pulled together to provide support and assistance for those affected. 


Wednesday, September 8, 2021

Log Cabin Block--Handwork Completed (post 2)

Light corner and the stitches

What a fun I had completing the hand stitching on this log cabin block. I am surprised at how much more interest the hand embroidery embellishment added to the block. From the chain stitch, I added the fly stitch, a couple loops of daisy daisy--these made me think of butterflies and a variation of the coral stitch. 

Stab stitch in a couple patterns

I looked at the outer edge of the green part of the log cabin and decided, I play a bit with the stab stitch in that area. I like the texture that the stab stitch provides. 

Colonial knots

Then I took another look at the black stitched area and decided I needed a little bit more in the space so I added colonial knots. I liked the addition.

Finished block
I stepped back and asked. . .am I finished? Gertie, my inner squirrel, replied with a resounding YES! Next month, I'll work on finishing the project. It is going to be a book club finish for the book "Little Fires Everywhere" by Celeste Ng. I'm thinking about a backing fabric and an edge finish. This was goal number ten on my September list.

Who knew embroidery could add so much interest to a quilt block. Thanks Jean for teaching this as a Saturday workshop last January!




Sunday, September 5, 2021

Spending a Day with Thomas, the Longarm

Leaf quilting pattern
Earlier this week, I spent a day quilting on Thomas, the Longarm. Thomas is a computerized Innova longarm. His original owner quilted quilted more than 500 quilts for the Clark County Quilters (CCQ) comfort/charity group. Last Spring, cancer killed his owner. His owner wanted the guild to have his longarm and to continue quilting comfort quilts.

Back and front of quilt
Alvera invited Thomas, the longarm, to share her shop which is her garage. She put together a proposal so CCQ guild members could quilt tops that members make for comfort quilts. Thomas moved at the end of June. 

In July, he quilted 19 quilts. In August, he quilted 11 quilts. I'm part of the outreach group that longarms the comfort quilts. There are about 13 of us. We are all learning how to longarm.  

Closer view of the back
A couple people quilted once and decided that longarming wasn't a skill they wanted to sharpen. Before June, I had quilted on a longarm about three times. The rest of the group have had a similar quilting experience. Two guild members, Sue and Alvera are our trainers. 

We arrive about 10AM on a Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday and leave about 2PM. Up to two people can quilt on the same day. This time, I quilted a big quilt. It measured 60 inches by 80 inches.  

When I saw it, I immediately thought brown thread and leaves. Then I saw the back which was a grey flower print on a white background. I was thinking gray thread and that was what Alvera thought too!

This was the first project I've quilted that was square and flat. I couldn't believe what a difference that made in the distribution of the quilting. Some turned these scraps into a beautiful quilt!

View of the texture in the quilted border
Introducing Thomas to Pat, a new outreach member; trimming the backing and batting a bit before loading; loading the quilt, quilting having a lunch break; quilting another pass; removing the quilt; trimming the quilt and cleaning up after the quilt took three and a half hours. I'm getting a little faster. I'm feeling a little more confident about my abilities. I like quilting on Thomas. I picked another day in September to quilt. This is the fifth quilt that I have quilted for comfort quilts. Quilting a day on Thomas was goal number 11 on my September list.

I'm also linking to Cynthia over at Oh Scrap/Quilting Is More Fun Than Housework. I'm headed there now to see what other people are creating.

Regarding COVID:

Worldwide: 219M cases; 4.55M deaths United States: 40M cases; 648K deaths Oregon: 248K cases; 3,281 deaths

Finished 
The number of cases and the number of deaths continue to rise at alarming rates everywhere. The European Union has now dropped American travelers from the EU's safe list and have recommended that Americans should be banned from non essential travel. 

In the United States with schools returning to in person learning, there is an increase in cases. Both in students and in staff.

In Oregon our vaccination rate is slowly rising. Sixty-four percent of the population have received at least one dose of the vaccine and 58% of the population is fully vaccinated. This is about a two percent increase in at least one vaccination and a one percent increase in fully vaccinated over the last three weeks.

The hospitals continue to be over run with COVID cases. People, who had their elective surgeries canceled, are exasperated that they have to live in pain because there is no room for them to stay to recover from their surgery. Since 90 percent of the hospitalizations are non vaccinated people, those waiting for their elective surgery are asking why hospitalizing the unvaccinated who may have protested against the vaccine should continue to take precedence. They feel their elective surgery is in a life or death place as well. Providence Hospital in Portland requested a refrigerated truck as projected deaths in the coming weeks will fill their morgue. 

My quilt guild in Washington is meeting virtually this month. My quilt guild in Oregon is meeting in person and indoors for the first time since March 2020. We met the previous two months outdoors at a park. The first month I went, I sat in the back by myself because people were clustered together. The second month I went, I sat next to three people I knew were vaccinated; but, still at the back of the group because people again were clustered together.

I voiced my disappointment to the guild president in an e-mail that the board had decided to meet indoors. Her response was thank you for your concern. The president went on to state that the board would be following guidelines of social distancing, mask wearing and hand sanitizing as well as signing in for the meeting. She went on to state that a Zoom option will be available for those that are uncomfortable meeting in person.

The Oregon health authority has requested people to limit the number of large gatherings. I've returned to staying home, meeting with people in my pod and continue to wear my mask. I won't be attending the in person guild meeting; but, I will watch the Zoom session.