Friday, December 30, 2016

Year End Spool Count & Give Away!

It was three years ago that I came across a quilter/blogger that had saved all of the spools that she had emptied throughout the year.  It was for her own personal tracking and I started thinking "I wonder how many I have used."  And thus began my tradition of counting the spools at the end of the year.  

Ever since then I have had an old Solitaire Coffee jar on my sewing table to hold my spools through out the year.

Though the jar is not as full as it was last year, I still did just as much quilting with 20+ finishes.  So, how can it be that I have fewer spools?

Well... I began using different spools that held more thread! 

Not a really big deal, but I wanted to be able to give a fair comparison to last year so I noted on the spools how many they were equal to of the smaller "normal" spools.


So my final count...  How about I have you guess!  {I  had stated above that I had done just as much quilting... When in reality, when I looked back at last year's final count I was down.  What happened?}  

The person with the closest guess, without going over, will be the winner and receive a packet of 5 quilt patterns. If you have a favorite type of technique that you prefer, let me know and I will see what I have... These are all patterns that were passed on to me from another local quilter.  The collection has a variety of styles ~ modern, traditional, applique, paper pieced, large and small quilts.   

I will even throw in a copy of Quiltmaker's 100 Blocks - Volume 14.  This is the issue that my block "To Have and To Hold" is published.

Leave a comment below with your guess of the actual number of empty spools I finished the year with before January 3rd - I will do a random drawing for the winner.  (If you are a no-reply blogger, please be sure to leave your email address in your comment so that you can be notified, if the winner.)

Ready?  Go! 


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Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Best of 2016

As a review of 2016's top five I am having a difficult time deciding how to determine the posts that qualify... 

If I go by the posts with the most views they rank as follows...  (All of these posts were very different - in content and with different audiences.)

5)     The final post of the Jesus picture - here I share the process of "gridding" the original picture, the layout process and the final result.

4)     To Have and To Hold as part of the Quiltmaker 100 Blocks blog hop - Here you will learn about the story behind the "failed" project and the future of this block.

3)     "Thanks for stopping by" from the 2016 New Quilt Bloggers blog hop - Here you will learn a bit more about me.

2)     The Studio Tour Linky Party - I hosted the Linky party so that other quilters could see what the sewing rooms or studios of fellow quilters are like and get some ideas for storage and space use.  It was great fun!

1)     The Dragon Fly block that I designed and created a tutorial as part of the Cloud 9 blog hop was the most visited post of 2016.  It was a fun block to create and I hope to design more blocks in the future.

If I go with my personal favorite quilts they would rank as follows...

5)     Sleeping Couple - This King-sized quilt came together quickly, but I faced several challenges in the quilting of it because a) I used a polyester plaid backing and border and b) I was rushing it.  {Probably mostly b!)  None the less I powered through the difficulties and felt good about the finished quilt. 

I had an area on the border of the quilt that a large "pucker" occurred.. I was able to remedy the problem by taking a tuck and hand stitching it down.

4)     African Print -  I realized with this wall hanging that one of my favorite "souveniers" from my personal travels or as gifts from others is fabric from the local markets.

3)     Rooster - This rooster and all that it symbolizes makes it one of my favorites

2)     Majestic Mountains - Fall Setting - Originally a "spring" meadow below the mountains, I made it feel like fall.

1)     Peaceful Easy Feeling  

This was my first attempt at fabric dyeing and was pleased with the result.  I was SO relieved to hear from the customer that the quilt was "exactly what I had wanted."  (It was the same customer connected to the "failed" project that the wedding ring block came from.)

If I chose categories such as... (I know there are more than five!)

Best Repair - Star Quilt 
You would never have known that there were four points missing.


Best Finish - Amish Inspired
My first attempt at a feathered border

Most Meaningful - Majestic Mountains 
(but since that was already included above 
I would say that True North is very close.)

Hardest Lesson - Baby's First  Year 
I learned that I need to ask a lot more questions of the customer - 
though, in the end, the mom did like it.

Most Fun - Lazy J Goats 
A fun project for our friends at the Lazy J Goat Farm

A quick little project that I made for one of the markets but was snatched up by a friend for her grandson's 1st birthday.

I love the variety of quilts that I get to make.  I love the variety of techniques, the color combos and the lessons I learn and the challenges that I face with each quilt.  

I pour my heart and soul into each quilt and as each quilt comes together it takes on a "personality" of its own.  I have to admit, I am always a bit sad when I finish a quilt and it goes to the recipient.  I hope that they know and understand that the quilt is not just a blanket that may keep them warm or that may look good on their bed or couch.  

I want each recipient to know that there is a small piece of my heart that goes with the quilt, not to mention the love and prayers stitched in as it comes together.  

One way that I express this love for them is by writing a post here on my blog, telling them the story of the quilt - letting them in on my personal thoughts of the quilt after they have received it and the meanings of the blocks or quilting pattern on the quilt.  

I thank you for stopping by for the review of my quilts of 2016. Come back next year to see what I will be creating in 2017.  

May 2017 be blessed with love and creativity,


Monday, December 26, 2016

Fear Of Feathers...

I have a confession... for years I have feared feathers.  You know those perfectly stitched traditional feather wreaths featured on quilts or the fancy feathered borders.  Especially after learning a few years ago that most of the time they are computer generated to perfection.  I felt really defeated when I learned that!

Over the past several years I have become bolder and braver in my quilting... specifically my free-motion quilting.  I feel very comfortable with just meandering with an occasional loop here and there.  It takes a bit more courage to get going on stippling (where the stitching doesn't pass over any other previous stitching)... 

At the beginning of 2016 I bravely created my Quilting Bucket List

As a quick review it included - 

A crayon quilt... I made three wall hangings for the grandchildren.

A pixelated photo quilt...  I actually ended up making three of these as well.  He Is Risen Rooster and Jesus

 I hand-quilted the Bitty Block quilt from 2015...  

I made a wedding quilt for our Nephew, Matt, and his wife - True North

The Up-cycled Cathedral Window quilt has been completed and is perfect for a picnic in the park

As was the Wanky Scrap quilt...

I submitted not just one, but two blocks to QuiltMaker's 100 Blocks... One was accepted "To Have & To Hold" - I am still waiting to hear on the second block.

I donated two quilts - One was for a Relay for Life event, the second was for a fundraising event for the daughter of a friend that had been diagnosed with cancer.

I participated in three Farmer's Market weekends with sales that exceeded my expectations.  😀

This leaves me with the final two items on my list.  and when I realized that I had two weeks left in the year I jumped right in! The Amish inspired Half-Square Triangle quilt in rich, luscious colors came together quickly.  

That meant that the FMQ of feathers stared me squarely in the face.  A few years ago it was suggested that I treat the feathers as hearts divided by a center line.  So to practice hearts I used them in the HSTs of the quilt...

So the time came for me to attempt the feathers in the border.  I grabbed a scrap piece of some discarded quilt sandwiches... I practiced this for about 10 minutes.

I changed the thread. I cleaned my machine.  I replaced the needle.   I stitched a line of quilting around the narrow border of the quilt.  I went for a walk.  I found every excuse possible to avoid sitting at the machine and starting the feathers on the border.  I coached myself.  I gave myself a pep talk. I helped my husband with a shipping label.  I stitched the center line of the feathers as a guide.  I got a drink of water.  I was like a little kid at bedtime!  LOL!

And when I finally ran out of excuses I sat down at the machine and began.  I found my flow and felt comfortable.  Before I knew it I had completed one side of the feathers!

It was time to change directions.  I paced. I folded clothes. I got another drink of water.  The anxiety wasn't nearly as bad, but it was certainly there again!  I started in... The first feather in the opposite direction ended up a little funky.  I stopped and then started in again and soon found my flow and felt comfortable.

Again, faster than I had anticipated, I had completed the second side of the feathers in the border!  I was GIDDY with excitement!  

My feathers are not perfect... I am not ready to enter them into some judged quilt show... But I cannot believe how much easier they were than I thought!  I personally think they are easier than stippling.  

When I was done I had to ask myself "what was the big deal, Melva??? Why did you wait so long???"

You can be certain that the next time I have a quilt with some open space I will be placing feathers there!  Probably not fearlessly, but with much less anxiety and worry than before.

Is there something that you have avoided trying or learning?  A quilting technique that you want to give a go?  Or perhaps a habit you want to break or a new skill that you would like to try.

Feel free to share with me... I'm here to tell you that if you put it in writing you are more likely to follow through.  

So what goals will I have for 2017??? Hmmmm... I am going to have to think on this one.  But first I need to get myself a drink of water... and maybe go for a walk. 😉


Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Year End Sewing

All of the Christmas gifts are finished and wrapped!  This means that I have nearly two weeks left in the year to check off a few of the items on my 2016 "Bucket List"...

There are only two items that I have not attempted - free-motion feathers (SO intimidating!) and an Amish inspired jewel-toned quilt.

I quickly went to the pile of fabric I have been collecting for such a project and started cutting.  No real pattern or layout in mind other than the rich, brilliant colors...

I settled on a 5-1/2" squared that would become half-square triangles... 

Once they were all cut and pressed, I moved to the design wall...

The rows quickly came together and the border happened in just a snap!  

For the backing is a pieced back... It was mostly assembled and acquired in one of the fabric collections that I received.  I added a few more pieces to increase the width and wahlaa!

After an afternoon of quilting hearts into the HST I am ready to attempt the last item on my bucket list... Feathers on the border.

I love, Love, LOVE it.  We may be keeping another quilt.  

I finished hand quilting the Bitty Block Quilt the other day and labeled it...

Dave's response was "Good job.  Another quilt to add to the stacks of quilts that we already have!"

So tell me, can one ever have too many quilts???? Be honest with me.


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Monday, December 19, 2016

2016 Colorado Christmas Informer

The annual Christmas letter went out last week... The halls have been decked... Packages that needed to travel great distances have been shipped (and all but one delivered... I DO love the tracking ability!) and I have just one final gift that needs to be quilted.

As "Editor" of the letter, my section is always the last to be completed... and like each other family member, there is never quite enough room to share all the details of the year's events.

In fact, after several reviews by my "assistant" and final approval for printing, as we were addressing and stuffing the envelopes we suddenly realized that we did not include the fun weekend at the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta in October!  Tragedy!!!!  How did this happen???

We also missed out on our trip to TX in January for the Dallas Safari Club show and a visit with Dave's brother, Pat, and his sweet lady, Nancy... 

As well as their visit to Trinidad!

Now, I understand and know that there is a very fine line that we do not want to overstep by offering too much information and expanding to more than two pages.  Though we could rationalize it that it is not just one Christmas letter, but FOUR!  I mean Heather and her family of 5 could easily take up an entire letter of their own. (She does a great job of encapsulating a snapshot of their year!)

And since I understand this fine line I will bid you a very blessed Merry Christmas!


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Thursday, December 1, 2016

Holiday Greetings!

I seem to have gone AWOL!  Actually, we went away for the Thanksgiving holiday weekend and had a great time.

At last check I had been working on getting a king-sized quilt ready for sandwiching... 

I did successfully get the borders on this fun, playful quilt before we left for Texas.  

With five days away from my sewing room, you can rest assured that I did not miss any quilting opportunities!  I grabbed one of the projects from my "To-do This Year" list to work on while on the road.  It is a throw-sized quilt made from Quiltmaker's Bitty Blocks that I am hand quilting.  I hadn't done much with it over the summer, as it was just too warm to have on my lap.  We enjoyed listing to an audio reading of the Chronicles of Narnia as Dave drove and I stitched.

The Log Cabin blocks were my favorite to quilt... 

and the Flying Geese - even though there seemed to be thousands of them.

I made great progress on the quilting and have only four Bears Paw blocks left.  Of course, why wouldn't I make progress??? It was a 7+ hour trip each way.

Our friends have a lovely piece of property where they are raising goats... And I got to meet my namesake - Melva (she is the patchwork faced goat below)- and her baby girl, Amy Grant.  The goats were great fun to watch and listen to...

This is Hank (the Goat Dog) - head of ranch security... if you get the reference to this you know about the children's books that feature Hank the Cowdog.  If you don't you need to check them out!  Especially if you have children or grandchildren that you want to read entertaining bedtime stories to. (My dad loved these books... and when his Alzheimers progressed and he was no longer able to read them himself, my mom would read them to him.  He would laugh and laugh at the antics of Hank and the situations he would find himself in.)

The dogs had fun running and playing.  Well Hank would try to herd our dog, Shelby, who was only concerned with retrieving the tennis ball.  And inside Hank was only concerned about getting the squeakers out of the squeaky toys...  

While the rest of the gang were off seeking wildlife I enjoyed some quiet quilty time as Shelby rested from her playtime with Hank.

And what a sunset!  It seemed to go on forever... The longer I watched, the the colors became more brilliant and bright and it grew wider and broader, taking up the entire horizon. Even the Eastern sky was pink... I stopped stitching and enjoyed my glass of wine on the patio in reverent silence. 

The evenings were spent playing a rousing game of Golf - the card game - and filled with laughter and fun as well as some angst and frustration at the luck of the draw...

Somebody was hoarding all of the jokers!  

In the end it was all fun & games and no got hurt... LOL!

On the final afternoon I joined in on the fun at "The Ranch" and went shooting... One just cannot resist the silliness of plinking at marshmallows on a pond!

Thanks for joining me on our "Holiday". As we enter the Christmas season I will be a busy little elf in my studio preparing an assortment of gifts... **code for I may not be sharing much here for a few weeks**

May you be blessed in this Holy Season,


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