November Progress Report and Goal Setting

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So here we are in a brand new month. Halloween may be over, but the scariest part of the year is just beginning. It seems everyone is rushing around this time of the year getting ready for this thing or that thing, and it's no different here at the Three Cats Ranch. We're expecting eight this year for Thanksgiving, which is sounding great to me. As long as I'm cooking a feast, it's nice to have lots of folks here to enjoy it. Christmas is going to be a little more laid back than in years past, but I'll tell you more about the reason for that later. For now, let's see what I have cooked up for myself in the month of November.

These were my goals for October:

1. Now that I have the Gardener's Journal quilt to the "flimsy" stage, I'd like to piece together a back for it so that it will be ready for quilting when its turn comes.

When I went to piece the back together, I discovered I really didn't have enough of the fabrics left to make a back...not even a pieced back, and so I ended up purchasing some fabric for the back. I think this will be just the ticket. Which makes this goal Adjusted and Complete.

2. This being October, I want to finish and quilt the Cornflowers table runner that I started some time ago. Complete!

3. Well, I am sadly behind by three months now on the Rainbow Scrap Challenge.


I'm needing to make a bright green block, an orange block, and whatever color is selected for October. Complete!

4. I want to start a project for the "Let's Book It" Challenge. Complete!

This is my Leafpeeping table runner project

from this book:

5. I haven't participated in the Block Lotto for several months, and so I'd like to get back into that by making October's block. Complete!

Join me on the Block Lotto Blog

6. And it would be positively scandalous not to start something to share at the October NewFO linky party, so I'll be starting a new project for that. Complete!

2014 NewFO Challenge

Here's my project called "The Grim Ripper".

7. I'm determined to make this next block for the Doors of Ireland quilt. Complete!

Bonus Points

8. I should probably end there, but I really am feeling a desire to make the next block for the Wind in the Whiskers quilt. I'm adding it to the list with no real expectation of finishing it. Complete!

So, I'm feeling pretty darned spunky about my goals from last month! Let's see what I can challenge myself to finish in November. Here goes:

Quilting and Flimsies

1. Well, I think I have to do the quilting on the Gardener's Journal now, don't I? It's pictured right at the top of this post.

2. I'm wanting to get the Oh, Christmas Tree wall-hanging to the flimsy stage so that I can quilt it next month. Time to get this baby ready for the season. It still needs borders.

3. If I'm feeling really energetic about flimsies, then I'm hoping to get the Hello Moon blocks sewn together. I know how I want to set them...I just need to do it.

Monthly Challenges

4. I've selected my next project for the "Let's Book It" Challenge.

You might recall that I'm making small quilts and table runners this year. In that regard, I want to make a Christmas table topper for my dining room table. I've kind of settled on this quilt

from this book:

And I can hear you thinking, that looks like a bed quilt to me. And you are right. It's made from four 36-inch blocks, and I'm planning to make just one block and call it good. It'll be a good size for a table topper, and it shouldn't take me too long to finish it.

5. I'm planning to make the November block for the Block Lotto:

Join me on the Block Lotto Blog

As I'm writing this post a few days ahead, the November block is still in the "sneak peek" stage. I can't give it away just yet, but you can probably see if it you head over to the Block Lotto website. Just click on that image above.

6. And, of course, I'm planning to start something new for the November NewFO Challenge, but I'm not sure yet what it will be. I have an idea it might be something in the "cat"-egory.


7. Only one thing on my mind here. I'm determined to finish up the rest of the blocks for the Folk Art Cats quilt. I've been working on this one for far too long. Here's where it was when I worked on it last time.

Five blocks to go. Think I can do it?

Bonus Points

So I imagine the Folk Art Cats will keep me busy for the month, but I can never resist stretching my goals to just a few beyond reach. If I can get all of that finished, I'm going to finish and quilt my "Never Underestimate" stitchery.

And that, my friends, is a list long enough for the most enthusiastic of quilters. With everything else going on in November (dinner for eight this month), I'll have to work fast to get it all done.

What's on your list for November?


Tiny Tim Finished

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This afternoon, I put the finishing pieces on the third section of the Wind in the Whiskers quilt, known as "Tiny Tim".

The cat's face will be machine embroidered when I do the top-stitching and quilting. When it was finished, I laid it out with the two other blocks I've completed. A good portion of the first section (lower right corner) is missing, and won't be added until all the sections are sewn together. Also, the two lavender flowers on the left side of the second section will overlap the border when that is added at the end. Even with those pieces missing, I'm liking the way this is looking so far.

It's certainly the most complicated and detailed applique I've ever done, made even more so by all the mistakes in this section of the pattern. I mentioned in my post from yesterday that I'd uncovered some serious errors, and today I happened on yet another. Now that it's finished, I'll give you the definitive changes you need to make if you are going to tackle this pattern.

As I said yesterday, the pattern completely leaves out branches 2, 3, 4 and 5. I wasn't expecting to be telling you how to do this, and so I've made some rather rudimentary chicken scratches on my own pattern, but here's what you need to know:

When you get to step 3i, it should say, "Leaf 15, blossom I, Branch 2 and Branch 5". Also, when you get to this point, you can fuse down the cat on the branch that you will have made earlier.

When you get to step 3l, it should say "Leaf 13, Blossoms J and L, Branch 3 and 4".

From there it looks pretty good until you get to Step 3r. There, the instructions are completely wrong. It should simply say "Leaf 11". Leaf 14 and blossoms B and C were added way back there in step 3h. This is clearly an error in simple proofreading.

Okay, so enough ranting about the pattern. The section is finished, and I'm happy with it. Hopefully, things will go more smoothly when I work on section 4 called "The Local Branch".

Cute, huh? But that will need to wait for another day. I'm ready to work on something else now.

Are you expecting spooks at your house tonight? In 12 years here, we've never had a single trick-or-treater. I don't even bother buying candy any more because you know where that ends up, don't you? We'll just have a quiet evening at home. Nothing much on the agenda for the weekend either. It's sounding better and better.

October NewFO Challenge Linky Party and Giveaway

It's the scary Halloween version of

2014 NewFO Challenge

These scary cats want to see your new projects from the month of October. Continue if you dare!

I wish we were playing for something scarier, but the best I can do is this flying geese lapel pin. The worst that's probably going to happen is that you'll get bombed if they fly over your head. (And I think you know what they'll be dropping.)

So here's what I've been working on during October. Mine are finished, but don't let that scare you because finishes are never required at the NewFO Challenge.

First and scary-most, the Grim Ripper. I started and finished this project all in one day.

This was a free pattern from the Fons & Porter website last year, and it was on my to-do list forever after. Now it's done.

Also, I sewed constantly until I finished this fall table runner for the "Let's Book It" challenge. It's looking so pretty in my dining room now.

And that's it for my new projects for the month. My grinning friend here would like to see what's new in your sewing room now.

Here are my simple and friendly rules:

1.  Please link-up with your newly started projects from October, finished or not.  If you feel like it, show us the progress you've made on any other previously posted NewFO projects.

2.  Please link back to this post from your blog.  Also, please link to your blog post, not your blog. Links to entire blogs will be edited.  Links provided for the sole purpose of promoting other events or shopping experiences will be deleted without apology. Please do not link to your Etsy shops or other giveaways and/or promotions you have going on your own blog. To be clear, it is okay to link to other events, but I want to see your NewFO's as a part of your post. 

3.  Don't have a blog?  Upload an image to this FlickR group and link to that.  If you have questions about how to do that or about how to link up, please email me.  If you're having trouble posting your image, email it as an attachment, and I will be happy to post it for you.  Please know that it takes a bit for your thumbnail to appear, so don't despair.  It will appear eventually.  You might need to "refresh".

4.  Obviously, I need some way to contact you no matter how you link up.  No email address and no other way to contact you equals no entry in the giveaway.  Email me separately if you need to.

I'll leave this linky party open until one minute before midnight on Thursday, November 6, 2014. Winner of the flying geese lapel pin will be announced on Friday, November 7, 2014! We will ship anywhere in the known Universe, so everyone is welcome! 

Go ahead! Scare me!

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Idle Hands

Having finished up my latest stitchery yesterday, I found myself with no hand work to do this morning. Frankly, I wasn't quite sure what to do with myself. Housework? Nah. I opted for a few more cups of coffee and a snuggle with Gracie.

After a while, I decided to get started on my next project, which is quite small. It's going to be a combination of applique and embroidery, and I wasn't really able to draw on the embroidery design until the applique was fused and stitched down. This is a pay-it-forward surprise for a Facebook friend, and so I can only give you a peek. (I think this particular friend might actually read my blog posts.) Anyway...take a look because it's the only time I'm going to show it to you until it's finished and she has it in her hot little hands.

After that I went back to working on the Wind in the Whiskers block. I realized after applying a few more leaves and flowers that I'd taken it far enough to apply the cat sleeping on the branch.

And then I just kept going until I needed to stop and start my dinner...which, by the way, got started about an hour later than I needed it to. I miscalculated how long it would take to braise in the oven. Oh well. Dinner will be late tonight. Anyway...this is as far as I got today.

There's just a little bit left on the left side to finish now, and I think I'll be able to hit my goal of finishing it tomorrow.

Now here's something you'll want to know if you're making this quilt. There are a lot of mistakes on the instructions for this block. When I realized just how much had been left off, I went to McKenna Ryan's website to see if there were corrections. There are, but only on the first block. This one is wrong on so many counts, I made some notes for myself. Had I known I would be called upon to do a freaking tutorial, I would have been neater about it. So pay attention because I'm only going to say this once (but please feel free to email me if you want clarification).

When you get to step "H" of the instructions pictured below, she mentions that you need to make Branch 6. Although there are still four more branches to apply, this is the last time she says a single word about any branches. You still need to pay attention to the placement for Branches 2, 3, 4, and 5.

You can see that I've made some notes and drawn some arrows where you need to make those additions. Sorry I didn't plan better...but then, it wasn't my plan. As it is, I've had to peel up a little bit of the already-fused Leaf 13 to make way for Branch 3 and 4 that will need to slide underneath. Drat. I don't think it's a big deal, but I would be a lot happier had the pattern just been written correctly. Sheesh. And, for all I know, there are still mistakes that I haven't discovered yet.

So, no harm done...for me anyway. I'm just hoping none of you will run into problems. This is not a pattern for beginners, by any means.

And with that, I need to do a few things. I saved the day's housework for last. Mike called, and he'll be home a little early today, so I'd better get going and act as if I did something besides play in the sewing room all day.

Don't forget. The October NewFO linky party goes live tomorrow. Are you ready?


Day on the Run

This morning I was determined to finish the "Never Underestimate" stitchery. I made it, but from there on, I was running to get out the door on time. It was worth it to come home to a completed project, however.

Of course, it isn't finished yet. It needs two borders, and then it needs quilting and binding. Still, it's a good part of the way there.

Just before sitting down here, I was perusing my stash for something to use for the borders. It has a narrow stop border, pictured black on the pattern. Then it has about a 2-inch outer border. I had a fabric in mind, but then realized I'd used almost all of it in a different project. With so much going on in this piece, I think the outer border should be one that isn't too busy...a tone-on-tone. At least, that was what I told myself until I checked the Fabric Depot website (because I still have money on my gift card) and saw this:

Okay...well that was too cute to pass up. I can use whatever color I want for the stop border. So, there you have it. I'll use that in the outer border and on the back, and I'll pick one of those other colors for the stop border and the binding. I'm so glad we've worked this out together. You guys are alway so helpful.

Today I got my monthly pedicure and then dropped off our ballots in one of the designated ballot boxes. Oregon has vote by mail, which is great. And there are ballot boxes all around the state so you don't even need to use a stamp. Anyway...Mike and I have done our official duty as registered voters in the great state of Oregon. After that, I made a quick stop at the grocery store. I needed to pick up a couple of things for dinner and then I headed off to the dentist to get my new permanent crown cemented on. For what it cost, it really should have a diamond stud, but no dice. All I get is porcelain.

And now I need to get started on dinner. We're actually having leftovers tonight, but tomorrow's dinner has to marinate overnight, and so I need to get that going.

Not much to tell you today since I just ran around, but I wanted to show off my completed stitchery. Tomorrow I'll continue on with the Wind in the Whiskers block I'm working on. I'm still hoping to get the applique finished before the end of the month. Also tomorrow, I'll probably make up a small stitchery I'm doing for a friend. I signed up for a pay-it-forward deal on Facebook, and I'm paying it forward to five friends. Three down, two left to go, and I'll start on one of them tomorrow.

How did your day go today? By the way, did you know it's National Cat Day? 

Have you hugged your cat today? Mine get extra kitty treats tonight.


Eliza's First Project

Before I tell you about my day spent with Eliza, I want to be sure to link up to:

Val's Quilting Studio

This week's theme is "Halloween". Oh my goodness. I really had to dig into the archives for this one. In the same way my kids make me feel old sometimes, my blog is starting to make me feel old too. I considered linking to my Grim Ripper quilt, 

but that one was just from this past month. I decided to try to go back further...into the real archives...where the spider webs are. And I came up with this little doll quilt that I called (very creatively) "Cat on a Pumpkin".

I made this quilt for my partner in a doll quilt swap...only this was so long ago, it wasn't even my own doll quilt swap. It was the doll quilt swap from the Quilting Board. Heck, I was just a pup back then...barely blogging at all...way back in October, 2011, which for some reason seems like eons ago. Anyway...you can read my original post right here.

Okay (dusting the spiders webs off), now I can tell you about my day with Eliza. She quilted her first real quilt this morning. Things went pretty well. For one thing, I had the same thread in the needle and the bobbin, and I did notice an improvement in my tension. I still needed to make some adjustments. Also, my lesson is scheduled for Monday, and I'm thinking I'll learn something about the tension then.

Frankly, I think I need to use different thread. I've always loved the Essentials thread. It works great for piecing, and I love all the available colors. I'm starting to think, however, that for quilting, it might be a little bit fuzzy, and that I might get better results with a more, ahem, expensive thread. I've had good luck with YLI threads, but I'm guessing there might be others I would like as well or better. A few of you have made suggestions about threads, and I've written them all down. I'm going to attend the Quilt, Craft & Sewing Festival coming to Portland next month, and I'm guessing I'll get a chance to see plenty of thread there. As I've said before, I love thread almost as much as I love fabric. Here is a shot of some thread I took at the Machine Quilters Expo a few years back. I love these colors.

Besides...big bobbins require cones of thread, don't you think? 

So here's what Eliza and I talked about today. For one thing, I wound my first bobbin. That went perfectly. Yay!

Today my plan was to mess around doing a little practice, and then to stitch the Embroiderer's Blessing project sandwiched from yesterday.

My plan was to stitch close to the hand-stitched embroidery motif and to stipple in the open areas. From my experience playing with the machine the other day, I thought it would work best if I tried doing it with the stitch regulator engaged. When I was doing this the other day, I recall telling Mike that it didn't seem as if the stitch regulator was working at all. Then, I discovered that one must first actually turn ON the receiver,

and the controller. Doh.

The controller sits on the table under your quilt, and attaches on top of the quilt with a button-sized magnet. You can tell it's operational by its blinking light, shown "on" here. The light also helps one to find the controller under the quilt, although I think the magnet works nicely for that.

There's also this here little doohicky that allows you to attach the controller to the edge of your quilt so that you can stitch right up to the edge without the controller getting in the way.

I can adjust the stitches per inch (SPI) at the top there to whatever I want, and the stitch regulator will stitch accordingly.

I can also decide to use the foot pedal to activate the needle, or I can turn it on where that red button is. If I use that, it starts stitching and doesn't stop until I turn it off. 

The Bernina stitch regulator has a similar set-up, and in both cases, I prefer to operate it using the foot pedal.

There's also the ability to set it on the "Precision" setting, which means that the needle only operates when I'm actually moving the fabric. To do that, I set the "Cruise" percentage to zero as you see in the lower right of that image above. I tried that, but I didn't like that at all. I found it much easier if I set the cruise at about 30%. As I'm writing this, I think I might have made it even higher as I got used to stitching on the Baby Lock.

Another feature that came with the machine are these two Martelli Gripper Rings. They're basically a fancier and more expensive version of the Gypsy Quilter Fabric Guides. The one in the image below is the smaller 8-inch ring, and there is also a 10-inch ring. This being a small project, I tried the 8-inch ring, but found I didn't like it any better than the Gypsy Quilter Fabric Guides that currently live rent-free in the drawer of my sewing table. The only time I've ever used them was when I quilted the "We are the World" quilt using the plastic freezer paper over the top of my quilt. It was hard to grip the quilt then, even using gloves, and that was the one use I found for the fabric guides.

The Martelli Gripper Ring is a little more sophisticated, but I found that I did better with my hands closer to the needle and in direct contact with the fabric. It's a personal preference, not necessarily a commentary on the quality or usefulness of the product.

And then it was quick work to stipple around the open areas of the quilt and to stitch up close to some of the embroidery designs. 

As I said earlier, having the same thread both top and bottom made a big difference with the tension problems I was having the other day.

And then, what could I do but take the quilted project downstairs for binding. I haven't fired up Big Bertha for quite a few days because I've been playing on the Baby Lock or else doing fusible applique. I think her nose was out of joint a little about the interloper upstairs...kind of how Gracie feels about Smitty.

I used this scrap of red binding left over from another quilt, and I had that baby bound in no time.

There isn't really any red on the front of the piece, but there is on the back. I kind of like how it brightened it up a little bit from all those pastel floss colors.

So there you go. A project quilted and bound in an afternoon.

After I finished quilting the piece, I tried again stitching without the stitch regulator. I actually think I'm going to like it better without. The stitch regulator might have a place in my sewing, and I always use it with the Bernina. Still, it seemed to get in the way on the Baby Lock, and I wasn't sure it helped keep my stitches any more even than I could do on my own without it. I'm still learning, and possibly I will decide to use it for some things and not for others. It doesn't have to be a black and white decision.

So that's all the sewing I'm going to do today. There are other things on today's to-do list, and the hours in which to do them are growing short if they're going to get done today.