Saturday, February 25, 2012

Stars Are Starting To Fill In

I've made some great progress on Martha's Star. Slowly but surely those strips and tiny squares have been sewn into a few Irish Chain blocks and I've now got enough to lay out several with the star blocks to see what things are looking like, and I LIKE it!

When I first laid it out it was looking good but seemed to be missing something. A quick peek back at my sketch showed that I had forgotten to lay out half blocks around the edge so that the diagonal grid extended beyond the stars. So, back to the sewing table.

What a difference! It just ties everything together nicely.

More 9-patches are starting to pile up and the more I make the faster they seem to come together, so that's been a bonus. It's like everything else - set up a system and before you know it you have several blocks made. I think I will try to keep the quilt laid out on the floor for a while so that I can keep seeing progress as more blocks are finished....M

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Martha's Star Is Rising

Martha's Star

Remember Martha's Star that I had sketched out?

Well, I dug into my fabric bins and found the lovely turkey red that I picked up at The Quilting Bee in Fonthill when we were down on vacation last summer. I just love it - it's the perfect combination of red and coral and the little bits of taupe in it play nicely off the café au lait pieces that surround the centre block in the Ohio Star blocks that I am using. This photo is showing it a little pinker than it really is, but it's nice none the less.

Anyway, it's all nicely washed and ironed now so the cutting and sewing has begun for the alternating Single Irish Chain blocks.

I was a little concerned that I would need to go out and find a few more tone on tone creams but I found 2 or 3 in my stash so I'm thinking I should be okay. But I did have a bit of an episode with my iron when I was pressing everything...

I've been meaning to clean the iron for I don't know how long now and haven't so it finally decided to force the issue. See the brown streak that's running across this piece of cream? That's part of the entrails from my iron! Thankfully I was able to soak it out and no fabric was killed in the making of this quilt, but it did give me a little start. I really should get on top of these little things sooner. On the up side, now that I have cleaned the iron it is working much better than it had been :).

Anyway, since that bit of excitement there's been lots of cutting, with lots more to come...

And I'm loving the red with the colours in the stars...

Each Irish Chain block has 49 pieces to it so it takes about an hour to assemble one, but slow and steady wins the race. I am a list person so I track my progress on a little heart shaped stickie note from a pad that Lili brought me from a recent quilt show at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, England. If you look really closely you can see two hash marks in the upper left of the heart. I've made a few more since this pic was taken - I think I might be up to 6 or 7 now. Depending on how large I make the quilt I need around 30 full blocks and then about 16 half blocks for the outer edges, so it's not like this one will be finished in a week, but it is worth the wait....M

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Feelin' The Luv

Betty and I had planned to make Valentine cookies together last weekend but those plans went a little sideways for a few reasons so today I decided to make a few on my own.

I have a great recipe for a shortbread sandwich cookie with almond flavouring so I whipped up a batch this morning. There's something about the buttery shortbread, the almond flavouring and the rich raspberry jam that makes them hard to resist.

Prepping them for the oven really reminded me of preparing the pieces for a quilt, and they almost looked like a quilt laid out on the baking sheet.

Sprinkle the tops with a light coat of icing sugar and they look divine.

Time to make a few deliveries. Happy Valentine's Day everyone!..M

p.s. As proof that great minds think alike, Ann in Ottawa sent through a pic of the Valentine cookies that she made - gingerbread hearts with strawberry jam. That's a new taste sensation for me - one that needs to go onto the TO DO list!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Lonely...I'm So Lonely

Stephanie's Confetti quilt
A few years ago I started this quilt for my friend Stephanie but since Christmas it has been relegated to a back corner to be out of the way for all the holiday comings and goings. I've been spending my hand stitching time on the Candied Hexagons so it has been waiting quietly in the wings for me to return to it and I think it might be time for it to resurface because once the warmer weather arrives it's just too hot to try and deal with.

We came across this beautiful Moda Jelly Roll on a little excursion and fell in love with it so home it came and then it was time to find a pattern that worked. After much searching and doodling we landed on a pattern called Confetti that I found in a quilting magazine - I'm not even sure which one any more - proabably an issue of Patchwork and Quilting. The original was done in a scrappy style, and this is close to that except that all of the fabrics are from the same collection. Moda fabrics are my favourite and they didn't disappoint this time around.

It is all hand pieced and now on the frame but progress is S-L-O-W. I am a pokey, pokey quilter. For whatever reason I have not mastered the art of quilting from the top of the quilt with a running stitch - I keep one hand on the top and another on the under side of the quilt and do a stitch at a time, hence the S-L-O-W.

I have to admit that I have a much easier time pulling fabric selections for quilts than I do figuring out the quilting design, so, given the pace that I work at and my desire to finish it and get it to her some time within my lifetime, I opted to stitch along the lines of the blocks. I may do something extra in the border triangles but I am liking the effect so far. Still a long way to go though.

Stephanie is just getting into quilting and she has recently picked up and finished a Log Cabin block that she started a while back, doing a beautiful job of stitching it by hand. I think that she even surprised herself at how nice it is! It's done in three lovely Christmas prints; I'll see if I can get a photo or two to share with you....M

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

I've Got Happy Feet!

A little more than a week ago this lovely parcel arrived from Helsinki, Finland. My sister-in-law Lili has knit me the most gorgeous pair of socks (unfortunately, I don't think my photos do the yarn justice) and they are the perfect fit.

Aren't they beautiful?
Equally fun was the wrapping which is is based on one of Marimekko's fabulous prints. Marimekko is a Finnish textile and clothing design company renowned for its original prints and colours. The company designs and manufactures high-quality clothing, interior decoration textiles, bags and other accessories and they obviously have some staunch supporters within their postal system. Isn't it amazing? What a great way to promote local producers, generate awareness and national pride.

Wouldn't this be a beautiful backing for a summer quilt? Thanks so much Lili, for both the beautiful gift and the nice bright wrapping!...M

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Star Struck

Ohio Star
A few years back mom and I started working on an Ohio Star quilt together. She'd come over and we'd spend the afternoon working on it together - I'd sew and she'd press the seams and trim the corners - and then we'd head upstairs for a cocktail and dinner.

Well, I've been slowly sewing a block here and there lately and now have about 40 stars done so it was time to see what they might look like together. I played with several layouts but wasn't keen on anything that was showing up.

Each block has the same café au lait coloured fabric around the centre block and then a variety of tone on tone creams in the outer border. I think we had intended to make the alternating blocks in the café au lait fabric so I laid it out on a cream coloured sheet but was underwhelmed with the result.

So then I tried this...nice, but almost a little too predictable.

I pondered a bit more and decided to sketch out an option that made every alternate block a Single Irish Chain.

I was liking what I saw....

Martha's Star
so I kept going...and I love it! Of course it means that there's now tons more to do on it because each of those squares on the grid is 3" in size so it means that each tiny block in the chain will be 1" finished. Story of my life. Oh well. I'm thinking that the chain will be in a soft brick red that's in my stash.

Now that it's not a pure Ohio Star I think I will call it Martha's Star...M