Friday, September 27, 2013

A Little Bit to Knit…

With the quilt retreat here last weekend I haven’t gotten much knitting time in what with all the cleaning and working on the challenge quilt… but I did declare last Monday a pajama day to rest and recoup and instead of finishing the hand quilting on my challenge quilt I did a little knitting and some napping.  OK – probably more napping than knitting!

Later in the week I had the opportunity to sit at my MIL’s house while some work was done and that gave me the knitting time I needed to get the homework knitting done on the Triplicity Shawl (free from Ravelry) so I’m ready for class again on Monday.

Triplicity (2)

A little closer view showing the first pattern section sandwiched between two plain sections.  I had gotten one row into the pattern section and messed up and started all over… but only once.  I think that I’ll get out what I need to put in a life line before starting the next pattern section in class.

Triplicity (3)

I am still plugging away on the Leftie shawl (a purchased pattern on Ravelry).  It’s easy to get a section done while watching TV as you only have to pay attention when you do the leaf and that knits up quick.  I hope to have this done in time to enjoy this fall… so I best keep at it.

Leftie (6)

It did occur to me last night that I need to drag out some yarn and get to work on a pair of fingerless gloves I am making for a friend up in MA… I’ll be heading up there in a few weeks for the MA Shop Hop so I need to have them ready for that.  I’ve made several pairs of these fingerless gloves but apparently I never took any pictures… so that will have to be next a challenge for my next knitting post.

Check out what others are knitting over at Judy’s Patchwork Times.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Another Year… Another Retreat…

Each year since 2009 I’ve had a group of friends arrive to spend a few days sewing, chatting, eating, shopping, and laughing.

We moved our gathering this year to September from it’s traditional mid-July date and by consensus I think this will be the preferred time to gather.  It’s so much cooler outside and inside!

Here is the 2013 (Year 5) group picture taken with some of the Star Challenge Quilts behind us.  Listed below left to right are those pictured with a note as to their attending the Retreat (sewing with us), submitting a block, top, or finished quilt for the Challenge, and those regular attendees that were unable to make it this year but either sent a Challenge quilt in and/or were with us in Spirit ( we sure missed you! )

HoeDown 2013

  • George – Retreat & Challenge
  • Lori – Retreat & Challenge
  • Ginny – visitor with sister TJ
  • TJ – Challenge
  • May – Retreat & Challenge
  • Me – Retreat & (I don’t enter my quilt in the Challenge)
  • Brian – Retreat & Challenge
  • Bev – Retreat & Challenge
  • Melissa - Retreat & Challenge
  • Neen - Retreat & Challenge
  • Wendy - Retreat
  • Sue – with us in spirit & Challenge
  • Dawn – with us in spirit
  • Elaine – with us in spirit

This is the 2009 (Year 1) photo.

hoedown 001 2009

Here are the Star Challenge Quilts in no particular order…

Bev’s winning Lemoyne Star Quilt

Star Bev

Brian’s combination Lone/Lemoyne Star top

Star Brian

George’s Lemoyne Star Block

Star George First Blk

May’s Sawtooth Star top

Star May 1

Melissa’s Star Quilt

Star Melissa 1

Lori’s Tropical Stars

Star Night Lori

Sue’s Carpenters Star Quilt

Star Sue 1

TJ’s Star Sampler Quilt

Star TJ 1

Neens Birthday Star Sampler Top

Star Neen Birthday Blks

Again this year we gathered in the classroom at Piece by Piece Quilt Shop in Ephrata, PA.  If you ever need a large retreat location… this is the best! 

First row of work tables – yes there are seven tables

2013 Working

Second row of work tables ( 3 )and extra large cutting table (6 large cutting mats fit easily around it) behind that (with challenge quilts laid out) and against the far wall are ironing stations and more tables if we needed them.

2013 HoeDown (3)

Everyone headed out for home Sunday afternoon and Monday was declared a PJ day for me.  I had intended to finish the few little areas left of hand quilting on my Challenge – but took a nap instead!  Maybe later today I’ll finish it up and get the binding cut and sewn on… maybe…

I will post a picture of my quilt when it is finished later this week after I wash it… hoping that the wonderful rumple look will hide my newbie hand quilting.  I have decided that I am consistently in-consistent – it’s all about being consistent.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Country Roads…

I love driving around this time of year… well – I love driving around any time of year really.

This year the field corn (feed corn) has done especially well with all the rain we’ve had and the moderate temperatures.  I had noticed back in July that the corn seemed kind of tall… and it just kept growing and growing!  Then there was an article in the newspaper – they said that the corn was a good foot taller than usual and there was some discussion as to whether there was going to be enough places to store it all at harvest time.


They grow a lot of feed corn here in Lancaster County and when you drive down these country roads… it’s all you see… really… the corn blocks the view to just about everything else!

Anyway – this story isn’t about height of the feed corn…

As I was driving down one of the back roads the other day I could see one of the small local ‘plain’ schools – this one happened to be Mennonite as I could see the kids playing outside - the girls were all dressed in their calico dresses with their hair in braids and the boys in their dark pants and plaid shirts.  The neat thing about these schools is that the kids play at recess – all together in some sort of group game.

As I’m driving closer I can see that they are playing baseball.  About the time I note that I see all the kids on the field take about 3 giant steps backward… I don’t think you could have choreographed it any better as they seemed to all move at the same time.

I thought that a bit curious until I glanced at home plate.  Standing there preparing to bat was a kid a good foot taller than everyone else… she tossed her braids back across her shoulders, brought the bat into position and took her stance!

It would have been a disruption for me to try and stop to watch… but I sure got a good laugh.  I bet she nailed it…

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Life Ain’t Perfect…

I recently came across an old quilt top being used in a booth at an outdoor Antique Market as a table cover.  When I moved a couple items to look at it the guy offered it at $20.  I kinda hemmed and hawed about it and started to leave when he knocked it down to $15.  Since we had just arrived I told him we would look around a bit and be back before leaving to decide.

We did go back and I did pick it up… it has a 3 x 6 block center section of Improved 9-patch blocks, a red border, a round of traditional 9-patch blocks alternating with a plain muslin block, a round of log cabin blocks, another red border, followed by another round of 9 patches and plain print fabric blocks ending with an outside border of plain muslin.


It is hand pieced and as I was looking at it I discovered that the maker was intent on using up what ever scraps she had available to her.  I easily found several blocks that had pieced pieces in them.  This black section to a log cabin block caught my attention first as I was looking at the hand stitching on the back.


A couple of alternate squares in the outer 9 patch row.


It is clear that this yellow with blue grid fabric that was used as the center of the log cabin is coming apart badly in nearly all the blocks.  I would like to find a replacement for that.


Here is a quick EQ drawing of the quilt that measures approx. 77” x 95”.  I had a hard time making things work in EQ because the maker of this quilt just made things fit where she needed them to…

Improved 9-patch 

and if she couldn’t make a whole block fit… she put in a partial.  See the yellow nine patch with the tan 9 patch to it’s right with the abbreviated plain block between them… yeah that how she made it all work in all 4 corners.


Our lesson here is that life isn’t perfect – we just need to find a way to make it work!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Developing New Skills…

Do you try new things? 

Like maybe hand quilting?  Like maybe hand quilting on a Challenge Quilt project?  A project that is due in just a few weeks…

Yeah – probably should pick something a little less public for a first real attempt at hand quilting – you know something I could throw on the dogs bed when I’m done… but no… I’m just going to go for it.

Usually for these quilt challenges I just get my ‘top’ done and I never get it to the point of being quilted… like last years Crayon Challenge Quilt.  I just love this quilt!

Howdy Challenge-2[4]Howdy Challenge-1[4]

I think the last quilt I completely finished to the quilted and done point was the Swimmies quilt for my grandson (who is almost 5) – and that was handed over about 3 years ago – Dec. 2010.  This picture is from when I finished piecing it while we still lived in the townhouse – spring 2008.

Swimmies quilt 009[3]

I also did some machine quilting on some (4) of those Calendar Quilts… but after I broke my knee in Feb. 2011 I was lucky to get the remaining tops assembled and nothing else happened with them after that. 

Last year I saw an Ulmer Quilter frame at a new quilt shop in the area.  As I was finishing up the piecing of the Star Challenge Quilt for this years retreat I decided to go and get the frame and give hand quilting a try.  I liked the frame because of the way it’s constructed, reasonable cost, and portability.


The Engineer came over to where I was working last night – scrunched up his face and said “why are the stitches so big?”  He saw all the basting stitches and thought that was what I was doing… I guess by comparison my uneven quilting looks just fine… LOL

I decided to just post a picture of my work in all it’s ‘new quilter glory’… I selected a ‘light brown’ thread because although it stand out in the white squares it isn’t all that noticeable through the colored fabrics… and there is more color in the blocks than there is white.  I thought about changing thread color – but it is actually helpful to be able to see the stitches.  This is the first area I worked on – I hope to gain some consistency as I go along.  But I know once I wash it and the wonderful all forgiving rumpled look sets in… all is forgiven!

Do you hand quilt?  Do you have a favorite method?  Favorite Thimble?  I suppose I could have done all this research before hand… but what would be the fun in that?

Tuesday, September 3, 2013


There - I said it…

I give up…


Enough already…

If it weren’t so ridiculous it would be funny…

I think I broke my little toe.

The little toe on my left foot.

Really – what’s with the left side of my body?

At the very least I sprained it – it’s a little bit bruised but I can’t see too much because the toe got pulled out enough that it split the skin in there between the toes - so not only does it hurt but it stings too – especially if I try to move the toe around. 

Here is the really sad part… I was getting up from working at my new hand quilting frame and I caught my little toe on the foot of the frame. 

And that right there is the ridiculous part… I broke/sprained my little toe hand quilting!

I give up…