Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Pineapple Trim Tool

What a tremendously fun day I had Saturday at Sager Creek Quilts and Yarnworks in Siloam Springs! Thank you again, Pam and Cliff Goggins.
As a full-time teacher, I don't get to take very many quilt classes - maybe one or two a year. I'm only available on Saturdays, and I like to spend those with my husband. So when this Saturday Pineapple Block class came along using a new easy-to-use Pineapple Trim Tool by Creative Grids, I had to think long and hard about it. Hmmm, do I want to give up one of my precious Saturdays for a quilting class? Who am I kidding? Yes!!! Get outta my way!
As it turns out, I am so happy I took this class. This block is traditionally pieced using paper piecing, but I refuse to paper piece (blah!), but this version does away with the paper and just uses a trimming ruler. The block looks like this (the blue blocks - ignore the quilt top backdrop). These gorgeous blue and cream blocks were made by a very good friend of mine. Aren't they great?
Well, here is how my project has progressed. Last week I showed you the sorting and selecting portion of the project - supurrvised by my able assistant Callie.

After I selected my border fabric (the fabric at the top of the photo below), I pulled the appropriate fabrics out from under my napping fabric guard and began to cut. I cut many strips at 1 5/8" and some at 2 1/2' (for the corners). I still didn't have the light background fabric that I needed. And, as it turns out, I didn't cut nearly as many strips as I needed to even get a good start. This pattern requires a lot of strips of a lot of different fabrics cut into a lot of different lengths to provide a good selection for each block.
One quick trip to Sager Creek on Friday for a light background fabric and I had everything I needed. All of my light background pieces are a pale green that matches the pale green in my border fabric. The dark fabrics are a selection of about two dozen fabrics. The next day, surrounded by my far more talented friends, I began to sew. And sew. These little blocks come together surprising quickly, but boy do they seem to take a lot of fabric!

Here are four completed blocks (simply laid side-by-side, not sewn) next to the border fabric. It has promise. I have completed several more blocks this week, but since I need about 80 total blocks, I see myself sewing for quite a few more evenings. It's a good thing this is so easy to do. We used Creative Grids' Pineapple Trim Tool. It lets one make a 6", 8", or 10" block. With its trim-as-you-go technique, each block come out perfectly. I LOVE THIS TOOL! Mom and I were going to share one since my class was last weekend and hers is this Friday, but I decided that I don't want to share. I don't want us both wanting to use the tool at the same time, so I bought Mom her own. Hands off my new ruler, Mom!
Maybe by next week I'll be able to show you the finished quilt top (ha, ha). I doubt it, but I can always hope. : )

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Pineapple Plans...

I signed up! Sager Creek Quilts in Siloam Springs, AR, is offering several new classes. I rarely have the time off from work to take classes, but they just so happen to be offering the Pineapple class (see below) this coming Saturday as well as next Friday. Mom is taking the same class next Friday with our friend Rosie from Rosie's Quilting World at http://quilter64.blogspot.com/. I wish they could have joined me in my class. I couldn't join them because I work during the week. Sigh.

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Anyway, I decided to use batiks for this quilt, so I pulled out all of my batik fabrics so that I could start selecting. At least that was my plan. I eyed my shelf full of more than a hundred (literally!) batiks and decided to take them one stack at a time. Hours later I had a...  Well, I was going to say a nice tidy pile, but actually, what I had was a mess. With a cat on top. Of course.

I had so many lovely fabrics to choose from! There were purples in every hue, blues and pinks and peaches, too. I had dark greens for an earthy feel and a black border print with a touch of teal! There were reds and yellows if I was feeling hot and cooler tones if I was not. A stack of brown and some vivid orange, and... Oh. Shoot. Nothing rhymes with orange...

Oh well, enough waxing poetical. So what did I finally choose? Nothing that you see above, of course! I've been cutting fabric every evening after work this week, but I'm not going to show it to you yet. Primarily because I don't a photo of the fabrics with me at this time *grin*, but it'll be nice to show them to you in a nice cut pile.

I've always wanted to do a Pineapple quilt, but I haven't had to nerve to try until now. It's not that the block looks particularly difficult, but it does look time consuming! In case you haven't noticed, I have added another page to my blog -- my 2014 To-Do List. Must of it is carried over from 2013 (of course!). And from 2012. I'm not confessing anything before that. Actually though, I completed seven of the quilts that I had on my 2012 list and nine from my 2013 list. On top of those, I also finished several quilts that I started and finished in the same year, so they never made it to my To-Do List.

I already have three quilts on this year's list ready for quilting and one almost bound. It would be nice to check off some finishes early on this year. I need to add this appliqued flower quilt to this year's list though. I have it mostly done, but I'm still lacking three appliqued flowers and the pieced border. I wonder how many years this quilt will spend on my lists? : )

I've gotta go. I have a Dogwood board meeting, and since I now happen to be the guild president, I don't suppose it would look good if I played hooky. See ya later!


Thursday, February 13, 2014

Secrets revealed...

Yes, I've been keeping secrets. For months.

First, the quilting related secret... In November I was elected President of one of my local quilt guilds, Dogwood Quilters. I certainly didn't seek this position. I have my hands completely full at work right now (my school president retired in January, and my supervisor - the second in command - quit over the Christmas break), so I really, really didn't want more work, but...

Unexpectedly, I'm enjoying the position so far. It's a two year stint, and I'm only two months into it, but I'm working with some fantastic people on the board, and the members are very encouraging. Huh. I may live through this after all. **smiling**

Still on quilting (I'll share my second secret at the end of this post)...

We've been snowed in (I know, I know, everyone has been snowed in!), so I've gotten a lot of quilting done with school cancelled for so long.

First, my latest great niece (grand niece? Which is correct?) was due on January 4. Her folks live in New York, so she needed a nice quilt to welcome her home. I had some wonderful bubblegum pink fabric with lively little bugs and butterflies, which I paired with a coordinating blue floral fabric. I tried to piece it so that the focus was on the pink. I shared photos of this quilt in the last post.
Well, here she is! Welcome Amelia Wren. Isn't that a lovely name? It took her parents three days after her January 17 birth to figure out who she is, but they eventually settled on the perfect name for this beautiful little bundle. I can't wait to her in person! Look at all of that hair!!!
And just a few days ago I got an email from her proud mama showing me three-week-old Amelia trying out her tummy time floor mat. She was 9lbs 3oz and 21 1/4" at birth, but look how tiny she looks on that huge baby quilt! : ) I have no children of my own (at least not any without fur!), but I always make big baby quilts because babies just don't seem to stay small for very long. : )

Here's Ruby the fur baby checking out her new charge. Poor Amelia looks like she's done a face plant on that quilt, doesn't she? Well, I'm sure she'll be doing somersaults in no time. Go, Amelia! Work on those push-ups! Give her a nudge, Ruby.

And I was so pleased to finally get all three purple borders on my Purple Diamond quilt (folded in half in the photo due to limited floor space in my sewing room). Notice the use of the word "was." Past tense. I realized when I laid out this quilt and measured it that it's too narrow. It measures 112" long by 88" wide. I'm going to send it to my sister, who has a new king sized bed. If I add another row of diamonds, the quilt will be 112" square. THAT's the size I need for a king sized quilt. So I'll be spending this weekend "unsewing" the entire four borders (one white and three purple) on one side so that I can add the final row. I did check, and I have enough fabric for the extension. It shouldn't take too long to finish it for the second time. I think I'll like it better at a more usable size. It's a good thing Mom got a larger long-arm quilting machine. : )

Now, for the second secret...

Ta da! Meet Spook. In October (hence, the name Spook), I snagged this Spooky little feline out of the middle of a county road between two highways. He was determinedly and quickly heading for the major inter-state highway that I was also heading for.

I snagged him. He snagged me. I was wearing white. Guess which one of us got the worse end of the bargain out of that little snatch and grab exercise...
I dropped him off in the sunroom of my house and headed back into work (after washing copious amounts of blood off of my white shirt and white jacket). When my husband and I got home, Spook had made himself quite comfortable on a heating pad on one of the armchairs and declared that he was never leaving. Well, that suited us just fine. Isn't he adorable? And isn't Spook a great name for a grey kitty with orange eyes who was found one week before Halloween? By the way, he's an extremely loving kitty who adores giving kisses. And more kisses. And even more kisses. The bloody start to our relationship was simply because vehicles kept driving by and scaring him while I was trying to stuff him into a car with a running engine. I should have turned off my engine first. Live and learn. And, in the meantime, buy lots of bandages.

So why did I keep him a secret for over three months? Well, some of you may remember that I adopted two abandoned tom kitties over the past year and a half and lost both of them rather tragically just months after their arrivals. I didn't want to talk about Spook until I was sure that he would be with us for a while.

There are differences this time. The other two boys were each two years old and confirmed outside kitties when they came to us. Spook was only six months old and a confirmed insider. He occasionally dashes outside when we open the door to come in, but he's easy to catch. He's always crouching down getting ready to "attack" a rooster. Let's hope he never actually gets to the pounce stage! Those roosters will teach him a lesson he won't soon forget!

So how did my existing feline residents take the news of another mouth to feed? They were a little startled at first, but they warmed up quickly. **See how well that sentence goes with the picture? Hee hee **

Sinbad has been delighted to have anther boy to rough house with. The two of them tumble all over the house attempting to rip each other's ears off. Then they curl up together in front of the heater to sleep it off. Even the girls have developed a little more pep in their steps now that there's a youngster to remind them of their youths. It's impossible to walk through my house right now without something squeaking, chirping, rattling, or dinging underfoot because Spook loves toys. If it has feathers, it's HIS! Thank goodness he's not outside, or my bird feeders would be surrounded by dozens of little naked bodies.

Callie (below in an old photo) just does her best to ignore the little beast and retain as much dignity as she can. Surprisingly, though, since Spook's arrival, Callie has become more playful. Toys are now of interest. It's amazing how revitalized the house has become with the advent of a furry rug rat who doesn't let a little bad temper ruin a good playtime. : P

As for Ladybug (below), she's just thankful the new addition isn't going to provide unwanted competition for outdoor resources (mice, voles, field rats, etc.). Other than that, she has always gotten along very well with boys. I can't let the girl kitties around her (she is universally hated by my girls), but she shares the sunroom very nicely with Sinbad and Spook. Which is a good thing since she was shut up in the room for almost two weeks thanks to the snow and wickedly cold temps. Needless-to-say, she's delighted to be out and about again now that the sun is shining. : )

Well, all of my secrets (and the cats) are now out of the bag. I'm back at school and my sewing has once again taken a back seat until weekends. Tonight I have a Stashbusters meeting, so I get to talk quilting with friends again. What project do I want to take to share? Hmmm... I've been working on so many this winter...
See you later! I'm off to inspect the possibilities.