Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Odds 'n Ends

This has been the winter that just won't quit.  Finally near the end of last week we had some warm days and got rid of most of the snow.  There are still leftover piles in the shadiest spots.

Here's the Dear One repairing winter damage to the driveway.  He has already gone over it with the tractor bucket, smoothing out the ridges.  Then he spread the load of washed rock with the tractor, and now he's finishing up with the finer smoothing out.

Because we had a lot of snow this past winter he often cleared the driveway with the tractor bucket.  When the ground started to thaw the bucket would gouge the ground and mix dirt, gravel and snow together into big piles.

Here's one of the resident geese sheltering behind a dirt/gravel/snow pile at the low end of the parking lot.  The pair were wandering around the other.  I tried to get a good picture, but they were staying behind the pile, and the wind was too cold for me to hang out long enough for a good picture.

Last week was pretty full: Violin lessons on Tuesday plus  Quilt Club's final meeting: a show and tell to which we invite guests and then serve snacks and give out door prizes.  Wednesday more lessons and the student string group.  We're working toward our final concert on May 15.  Thursday morning a three hour quartet rehearsal.  Very fun, but also tiring.  Friday evening, 5 to 7 p.m., the quartet performed classical music as background for a Faculty Reception at the Bible College.  Saturday a symphony concert in Red Deer.  Excellent as usual!  And Sunday morning Jim was preaching at the Red Deer CRC so that filled out a week full of activity.  So that is meant to explain my absence here on blogger.

Today we expected a delivery of trees and shrubs, but it didn't arrive.  It's coming from Manitoba, so it will probably be here tomorrow morning.  We hope for nicer weather!

Sunday, April 21, 2013

A Good Time Was Had by All

"A good time was had by all"--a familiar phrase of a bygone era,   though still within living memory.  But an appropriate phrase never the less, when applied to our quilt club outing yesterday.

In my last post I asked, "Does it always have to snow on Saturdays?"  And apparently the answer is "yes" because yesterday, again, we had snow.  The forecast for the day was ominous, snow all day, especially to the north of us, just where we planned to go for our outing.

And sure enough, when we came out of the quilt shop in Delburne, our first stop, the flakes were falling thick and fast.  That continued as we drove into Red Deer for our second stop of the day at Al's Sewing Machine and Repair shop.

Al gave us time to look around, and especially to admire a $4,800. quilting machine.  Very portable, very "Ooooh!"  I think most of us started thinking about ways to afford this extremely attractive and useful sewing machine.  Then he gave us a very informative lecture on sewing machine needles and thread.  What a lot we learned!

The good news when we came back out to the bus was that the snowfall had ceased.  That was the last of it for the day, in spite of the dire forecast.

Our next stop was in Blackfalds at very good quilt store.  I found an irresistible pattern, and also bought the ruler needed for that pattern.  We were having lots of fun.

There was another shop to visit in Lacombe and then on to Ponoka for two more shops and an excellent dinner at the Wildflower CafĂ©.  My only complaint there was that the coffee I wished for didn't arrive until we'd been there about an hour.  The prime rib and sweet potato fries were wonderful.

Back onto the bus, a tired and subdued group of 22 women headed home.  Our excellent driver Chris Mains, whom we had specifically requested, got us back home at exactly 8 p.m., the target time.  The Seniors Outreach Bus, which we had chartered for the day, was needed at 8 p.m. for another assignment.

Our last quilt club meeting of the year is coming up this Tuesday evening, a "Show and Tell" to which we invite lots of friends, and at which we display our work done this past season.  At least the work we still have access to, since most of what we make is immediately given away.

Knowing this Show and Tell was coming up, spurred me to finish the hand quilting on this panel, a project which I started a year ago last January!  The aqua blue strip on the right is a proposed binding, but I think, really, I should go to the local quilt shop and purchase some pale yellow to bind the quilt.  That would look better, I think, as the yellow extension of the panel's sides show.

I don't know for whom this baby blanket is destined.  It took many, many house of hand quilting to finish the panel.  There are a few places that need quilting yet, but I wanted to get it to a "bindable" stage so it could be included in the Show and Tell on Tuesday.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Not good enough!

I made a lot of progress this week on various projects.  One of them was S's quilt. When I had about one third of the blocks made I realized that my 1/4" foot was making a fat quarter inch seam, and all directions call for a scant quarter in seam.  On an 8" block, a nine patch, that made a significant difference.  I figured I'd "fudge" the seams when the time came.  Well, here is a sample of a "fudged" seam, and it is NOT GOOD ENOUGH!!!  I have made the painful decision that each one of the "too small" blocks has to be taken apart and resewed.

You may need to click on the picture to enlarge it enough to see the "too small" seam.

After making two new blocks to replace the "too small" blocks, I realized that was a waste of fabric.  The strips had not been cut too small.  The seams had just been a smidgen too large.  It takes about 20 minutes to redo a block, ripping the seams and resewing, but if you are quilting and want it to turn out well, it's the thing to do!!!

I do have the larger half of the top completely sewn together.  I have the backing cut to fit.  Now I need to cut the batting, make the sandwich and start the quilting.

Another topic:  Does it ALWAYS have to snow on Saturday?  Third weekend in a row!  We were scheduled to go to southern Alberta (Granum) tomorrow, but called and said we couldn't make it.  It would be foolish to risk our lives on slippery highways when we have the choice of staying safe and snug at home.

Too bad!  We had just gotten to the point of seeing about half open field and half snow covered.  Now all is white once again!

However, when we see the pictures of tornado damage in the southern U.S. on the news, we know we can't complain.  Except for worrying about some meltwater coming into the house, we are safe and snug and warm!

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Interesting Block

I came across an interesting block yesterday while I was reading some quilting blogs.

I was going to tell you how to make this "Disappearing 4 Patch" but it would be better to make one and illustrate each step with a photo.  Perhaps tomorrow?

I just had to try it out.

I want "nesting" seams to keep my corners sharp, but this block just defeats me!  I've made 9 of the little buggers now, and still don't have a good, consistent way to press them.  That will make them hard to sew together.

In S's quilt I am able to nest every seam, and that makes it very easy to sew together with precise points meeting.

So, what shall I do with these?  Put them into the "orphan block" bag, which is already overflowing?  Or make 33 more and create a scrappy lap quilt?  How did I get started on another project?

Spring? Break

On Friday I went with three other women to see the Red Deer Quilt Show.  That was a treat!  Many, many beautiful quilts.  Some just took your breath away with their ingenuity and craftsmanship (craftswoman ship?)!  There were also many vendors with tempting displays of fabrics, patterns, handy rulers, etc.  I came home with just one book of patterns and instructions.  On the way home we commented on how certain patches of grass were turning green!

This morning showed a totally different scene.  Steady snow all night put about an inch on the balcony railings and, though you can't detect it in this picture, it is still snowing steadily.

Since last Wednesday I've been on spring break. With the wintry weather I figure this is time to do indoor activity.  I got out some of my sewing projects.  
First up is S's quilt.  The last time you saw this it was on the living room floor, all the blocks laid out in order.  What you see here is the upper right hand quarter of that quilt, all sewed together.  This piece is 7 blocks wide and 7 blocks long.  Next I'll sew another 7 x 7 block piece, and then join them to make a 7 block by 14 block half quilt.  I will "sandwich" that and quilt it.  Then I'll sew the other  (left side) half of the quilt together and quilt that.  The next step will be to sew the top halves together and hand stitch the batting and backing together.  Last of all come the borders, also quilted, and the binding finishes everything off.

Why am I bothering?  Just to make it doable on my domestic sewing machine.  I have a Janome Horizon with an 11" throat, but I still don't want to handle this very large quilt in one piece.

This pattern comes from a very good scrap quilt book: Fun and Easy Scrap Quilting from House of White Birches.  It's meant to be a scrappy quilt, but also works very well this way.  If you cut and sew accurately, it's a very easy quilt to put together.  Someday I'll have to do a scrappy version.