Thursday, December 27, 2018

Clue 5 Mystery link-up

I'm quickly blogging this week's progress on the mystery quilt and sharing it here

 So last week, I ended up doing a thorough clean of my string bins, which led to a clean-up of my entire sewing area. Then this week's clue made me realize that I had some units left over from On Ringo Lake (the pieced border triangles that got trimmed away) that could be trimmed for the blue triangles I needed for this clue. Very exciting!
 I think that bit of extra blue adds some extra interest.

 I eventually finished the clues for this week and played with them a bit. I like my yellows and scrappy blues in this mix.
Clue 5 as I am interpreting it is very restful with the greens and blues. Restful is good the week after Christmas! And blues and greens together are my happy colors. I'm looking forward to seeing the next clue, which will be coming out tomorrow. Just barely made this post in time.

Monday, December 17, 2018

Not Orange - Mystery Monday Link-up #4

Check out the posts for people who are doing the Good Fortune Mystery Quilt this week over at this link!

I was hoping that there would be strings this mystery, and was very glad to have an excuse to dig into my overflowing bin. I was a little distracted over the weekend with some Christmas projects that I just finished up today. I also had to finish up clue 3, which I chose to do in yellows. So clue 1-3 are all in the overflowing basket, red, green, and yellow, while I just have a small number of the needed string blocks for 4 in blue, which I am using instead of orange. I am not quite sure yet if I want to go to a more medium blue, or if I want to get a wide range in.

Some of the "outlier" blues from my bin are quite a bit lighter than the average. I'm not sure if I want that much variegation. I have become convinced that I need to cull my string bins: I have one of those 3-drawer plastic storage things, one bin for warm colors, one for cool colors, and one for neutrals in light and dark. But after a couple of years of playing with the fabric, a lot of it is not that exciting to me anymore, and many pieces are too small to do much with. I will probably either cut some of my fat quarters or pull some strips from my 1 1/2 and 2" boxes. It's highly improvisational, and I like how this process is a different one from all the other clues.

 I've been making some extra units in different colorways all along, but I'm more and more convinced I want to stick with my plan (red stays red, green instead of blue, yellow instead of green, blue instead of orange). These above are some of my extra units.

These orange string blocks are pretty, and I do love orange a lot. I just have used orange a fair amount over the last several years, and my stash is pretty depleted. There was On Ringo Lake last year, my Rainbow String Star top, and Celtic Solstice in 2013, which has been on the quilting frame for many months now so I see it all the time... plus my Frugal Patch color study quilt in progress has a lot of orange in it. I have knitted two Rhinebeck sweaters from hand-dyed, hand-spun orange yarn and I wear mine a lot. I still do love orange. Just not for this quilt.

Looking at my blue string blocks, I'm thinking I do want to go a little lighter, a more medium "China" blue, and less of the navy. Which means I will have to move away from the string bins a bit and into my regular stash. I may use this as an excuse to purge my string bins of any fabrics I don't love anymore or that is too small to make me want to use it.

Monday, December 10, 2018

The Process: Mystery Link-up, Week 3

Once again quilters who are doing Bonnie Hunter's annual mystery quilt are linking up to show our progress on her blog: Week 3 Link-up.

My big excitement this week is the fact that I actually finished the top from last year, On Ringo Lake. This was my personal requirement if I was going to start a new project, and that has now been accomplished. I am really happy with it. The scrappy variety of my fabrics meshes really well with Bonnie's patterns, I think. Thank you to Steve, who held the quilt off the damp ground so I could take a picture of it in natural daylight.

And on to the Good Fortune quilt. I am planning to switch up the colors: so far red is staying red, blue is going to be green, and green is going to be yellow. Here are some of my yellows in the early stages of this clue. I once again am diving right into the piecing process by grabbing my boxes of strips using Bonnie's Scrap User's System. I can cut the rectangles and squares right away and get started with the piecing pretty quick. Although this clue is going to take a bit more time to complete, I think.
 Knitters have discussions about whether they are more "process" or "product" focused. I am a "product" knitter because knitting takes too long for me to want to invest the time for a product I am not happy with, but I enjoy the process. But I have decided I am more of a "process" quilter: I love the creativity of the process, the combining of fabrics, and because it moves fast (compared to knitting, anyway), even though I like the end product, that's not what makes quilting "fun" for me. That's why I'm not a perfectionist about the occasional mis-matched corners or fabrics that are oddballs. In fact, I like the fact that fabrics from when my 20-something sons were toddlers occasionally show up in my quilts, and the color scheme often has a lot of "outlier" fabrics. It's all a part of the process, and the process gets messy. Kind of like how I need to clear away a lot of junk from my work area.
 You can see a pretty wide range of yellows, and even a few peachy/light orange ones. Since I'm planning on replacing the oranges with blues, this is the clue to experiment with them. I'll probably make a few extras. The Veggie Tales fabric is the one from when my boys were little... somebody had a pair of shorts with Bob and Larry. The basket to the left contains clues 1 and 2. So far we have red, green, and yellow.
 I don't have the "bonus buddy" ruler but I have been marking my second line this way. It's a smidge more than a quarter inch. A hair would be too small, but a smidge seems to work for me. I am not highly scientific in my measurements, but I do usually have a pretty good eye. This is a deboned shirt from a thrift store trip 4 or 5 years ago.
It takes a little longer this clue to mark the squares; then you are sewing four seams on each rectangle/ 2 squares unit. It's a bit of a longer process this week. Here most of my fabrics are older; bugs fabric from about 18 years ago, yellow checked fabric from when I made curtains for the girls' room about 12 years ago, the triangle neutral from last year.
I've made a few units with the green just so I can play with them when we get further along. The process is super fun. That's what keeps me coming back to these mystery quilts every year.

Saturday, December 8, 2018

Randomday and a finished quilt top

Oh, I have missed Randomday! During my long blog hiatus I would often think of a humorous event or observation and wish to share it on my Saturday posts, which I then never got around to making. 
 The impetus for starting up blogging is also the impetus for finishing a project left over from early this year, which had languished largely untouched since January. This is the quilt top for On Ringo Lake, last year's Quiltville mystery. There was a lot of seaming to do, and it was all on the diagonal. which meant it had to stay on the family room floor from the time I laid it down (Tuesday night?) until I finished it late last night. There were periodic times when I had to rearrange some of those tiny pieces because the cat messed them up.

Thanks to Steve for holding the quilt up away from the wet so I could get a photo of it in daylight.
This is a collage from last winter when I was working on it. My new version of Photoscape can probably do collages, but I haven't figured that out yet. I just love how the colors of this quilt mimic a sunrise on the rippling waters of a lake. Finishing this quilt top (not getting it quilted, that's another hurdle for another time) was my requirement of myself to participate in the new mystery quilt. Which I am doing, and it is fun. I have been dealing with my photo storage on my phone, and getting ominous messages like "your iCloud storage is almost full." One technical challenge at a time, but I was able to go back today and delete a bunch of these process photos from my phone. They have served their purpose. But whenever I look at this quilt I'll remember early morning walks with Emma to school last year, and all the beautiful sunrises we saw together.
The tree is up but only partly decorated. The local elves are teenagers and either have better things to do or a short attention span. I put up the cherub in the snow cloud on the shelf, which I think is much nicer than the creepy "elf on the shelf" and anyway, I've been doing this since before I ever heard of that weird trend.
We've had a Christmas bear in the scrollwork sleigh every year since the boys were little, although it wasn't always this bear.

I loved all the coverage of the state funeral this week. It felt refreshing to have something on television that drew us together for a time instead of trying to divide.

Last night I made a recipe from the Redwall Cookbook, "Mole's favorite deeper 'n ever turnip 'n tater 'n beetroot pie." This may be my only autographed cookbook; yes, Brian Jacques himself signed it. There are several good recipes in it. This one is kind of like a vegetarian shepherd's pie, with mashed turnips and carrots layered with mashed potatoes, and cheese on top. The beets are pickled, served on the side along with a crisp salad. Other recipes we have liked from this book include "Shrimp and hotroot soup" and "Roast roots and baked spuds."

We went to a pancake breakfast and silent auction for the Sheriff's department explorer program this morning, which a friend of Quarta's participates in. Steve won a basket that included a gift certificate for Home Depot, which we have already spent.

Tomorrow dinner will probably be Apricot Chicken, a recipe I discovered in the early 90's. You mix an envelope of onion soup mix, and about a cup each of Catalina dressing and apricot jam, and you pour it over chicken, and then bake it and serve with rice. You can do the same thing only substitute cranberry sauce for the apricot jam, and it's Cranberry chicken, which is also good.

And that's it for this re-inauguration of Randomday.

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Political Tuesdays: November 4, 1992

It will always be one of the great honors of my life that I was present on the South Lawn of the White House the day after Election Day, when George H.W. Bush arrived home and addressed his supporters. C-SPAN archives carry the video still. 

I was 25, newly married, and had never been to the White House before that day. But senior staff at National Right to Life, all of whom had handshake photos of themselves with Reagan or Bush, generously donated their tickets to junior staff the day before the election. They must have known the polls were not promising, and they wanted to give us the chance to witness presidential history as they had. Our election night party in the office was bleak. I was still clinging to a bit of immature magical thinking. We had worked hard enough, surely. And then there was a fax that came in sometime in the afternoon with internal polling from the campaign projecting a defeat. After that, things became somber and deathlike for the rest of the evening.

Still, the next morning dawned, and I dressed in my cute blue checked dress that I had bought before my wedding, braided my hair and set off with my friends and co-workers. Our group was perhaps isolated from other WH staffers and major campaign donors who were present there; we felt that we had worked our little hearts out, but Bush's own staff had let him down. I remember comments from those months... staffers shopping their resumes and not focusing on the election; campaign director sleeping with the enemy, no real loyalty to the President. And the American electorate has always been fickle, and the press has always been hostile to Republicans, but something changed in that election cycle. We knew we were in for 4-8 years of a really difficult time, and most of us were teary-eyed for much of the time we were there. But White House events must go on. We were handed flags to wave by staffers; it was a gray day but not bad weather for November, as I recall. I was running on adrenaline and nerves, which always makes me feel especially socially awkward. It was a pretty large crowd. 

The Bushes got off Marine One, and the crowd cheered wildly. Most of us were toward the back of the crowd; I don't think we're in the video,  but I can't be sure without better eyes and a bigger screen. It must have been a bitterly difficult day for the President, and I'm sure he was emotional, but his speech was short, upbeat, and focused on others. He could have talked about the big accomplishments of his administration; the coalition he built for the Gulf War; the fall of the Communist regime, but he didn't. He simply praised his supporters for their hard work, encouraged them to support the Clintons, and expressed confidence that "we" had served America well... "And maybe history will record it that way." That short, offhand sign-off has stayed with me all these years. 

Yes, I do think history will record your nobility of character and your lasting positive influence on America. Thank you for your life of service, George H.W Bush. RIP. 

Monday, December 3, 2018

Good Fortune Mystery Monday link-up 2

Once again there is a link-up at Quiltville for the Good Fortune mystery quilt. Here is what I have been working on this week:

 Clue number 2 is supposed to be half-square triangles of neutrals and BLUE. As you can see, I am switching up the colors that I'll be working with this year. I am so glad I have been working on building up a scrappy supply of pre-cut strips using Bonnie's "Scrap Users System" (you can find out more here). When the clue comes out each Friday, I simply open up my box of strips in the appropriate size:
 On the left is the size I used this week, on the right was last week's. I pulled out the roll of neutrals and the roll of greens this week (actually, I had a roll of light greens and a roll of dark greens, and I pulled from both because I'm all about variety.) This week I was able to do about 80% of the units without having to cut new strips from my fat quarters and other yardage, which really let me get into the piecing quickly. By the time I got a little bit bored with doing one thing, I was mostly finished! This is one of the reasons I love the Scrap Users system -- I really didn't feel like making major decisions this week, and I could just pull strips almost at random and go. I'm not planning on buying any new fabric for this quilt, but of course never say never.
 Clues one and two together ... they look kind of seasonally appropriate.
I did make a few sets of units in the recommended blue, just to try out different possibilities later on.
And here are some of the extra units from last week that I made in blue, for the same reason. Any extra units will go into my collection of extra and orphan units and be used in a future scrappy quilt.
 But one of the requirements I put on myself if I was going to do this mystery was that I would have to also finish up the top from last year's mystery, On Ringo Lake. Last week after doing the red four-patches I cut the brown cornerstones and pieced the side setting blue triangles. And finished piecing the sashings, which was where I had bogged down last year. Last night I stayed up a little too late and laid out the pieces on the family room floor. Surprisingly, Muffball (the cat) did not "block surf" too much. This morning I started the lengthy process of piecing the pieces together. Diagonal sets are always a bit overwhelming, but I think it is going well so far:
There's one corner done! I do love how all the scrappy colors sparkle like sunrise on a still lake. I wonder how long my family will put up with the blocks laid out on the floor? I do enjoy this one and will be glad to have it as a top. Then I will have to quilt it, but that is another challenge for another day.

Thanks so much to everyone who stopped by, and Good Fortune to you!