December Goals and Progress Report

November could have been a rather frustrating month of quilting. No doubt, I bit off a little more than I could chew trying to quilt a whole big quilt in one month, and tension problems thwarted me at every turn. Toward the end of the month, I decided to take a break from my big bad boy quilt and work on the items that were remaining on my list of goals. It turned out okay, and I'm hopeful that December will go a little more smoothly.

Quilting and Flimsies

1. Finally, finally, finally, the Doors of Ireland quilt has moved to the top of the quilts-to-be-quilted pile. In Progress and currently in time out for misbehavior. (Yes, we love our quilts, but don't cross us if you know what's good for you.)

2. Finish the top for "A Cat is a Cat". I kind of jumped ahead with my own kitty portraits and left Samson in the dust. Poor Samson still needs top-stitching. Complete!

3. And finish Smitty's pawtrait, of course. Complete!

Monthly Challenges

4. This is always a fun challenge, and I've ended up with some pretty cool quilts that would never have been made otherwise. Complete!

5. And I'll take another shot at the Block Lotto in November. Complete!

Join me on the Block Lotto Blog

Here's my Plus and X block for November's Block Lotto:

6. Make the next block for the Wind in the Whiskers quilt. Complete!

7. Continue on with the blocks for the Live, Love, Teach quilt. This time, I'll be doing Blocks 33-36 of the 56 total blocks. Complete!

No bonus points for me, I'm afraid since the Doors of Ireland and I couldn't come to a meeting of the minds. But that didn't stop me from finishing up one of my bonus projects.

8. Finally, for bonus points, I'll try to get the quilting done for the Feed the Cat quilt. Complete!

9. And I'd like to at least get a start sewing the blocks together for the Quilting Snowladies. No Progress.

In December, I'm going to change things up a little from my usual "meat and potatoes" projects. There are some things I want to finish before year's end, and so I think I'll start this list of goals with the projects already started.

Quilting and Flimsies

1. I want to finish quilting and binding the Doors of Ireland, pictured above.

2. At least get a start sewing together the Quilting Snowladies, also pictured above.


3. I want to complete four more blocks for the Live, Love, Teach quilt. These are the ones on tap for December. When these are complete, I will have finished 40 of the 56 blocks.

4. There are three more blocks to finish for the Cats of a Different Color quilt, and that will bring the 2015 Rainbow Scrap Challenge to a close. 

RSC 15

There were three each of the four different blocks in this quilt, and it made sense to do the sets of three all at the same time. (Conveniently, this makes an excellent excuse for allowing the project to fall three months behind.) With that in mind, it's time to make the blocks for October (brown), November (green), and whatever color is chosen for December. These are the blocks I have so far:

5. This month's block for the Block Lotto is a simple scrappy block, and so I'll make one for that challenge.

Join me on the Block Lotto Blog
This month we're making the Wonky Strips block.

So those are the "meat and potatoes" projects for the month. Then I'm going to have some fun.

Just for Fun

6. First on the just-for-fun list is to make up the Scrappy Santa door hanger kit I ordered in November. 

7. Also, I want to make the orange Four Fabric Forest I talked about some time ago from these fabrics:

8. If I can get those finished, I'd like a winter table runner for my table. I've had Icy Blues on my list for quite some time, and I'll use this as my project for the Let's Book It challenge since I printed this pattern off eons ago. It's a free pattern from the All People Quilt website.

So that's a big enough list for one month, but I still need something for the elusive

9. At least get started on the quilt I'd like to make from my autumn leaves photograph.

So that's a pretty big list, but December is a long month. Nothing ventured, nothing gained, right?

What's on your list for this last month of 2015?


Catching Up

We've had a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend here at the Three Cats Ranch. Thursday morning, I finished off the third of three stitcheries for the Written in Thread quilt. Lots of little lazy daisy stitches on this one. There are still more stitcheries to do before I'll be ready to sew the quilt together, but this was the last I'd selected for this go-round.

When I returned to embroidery after a decades-long absence, I had to learn to do lazy daisy stitches. The first embroidery project I picked up at that point was the Walking in a Winter Wonderland quilt. Here's one of the just-finished blocks from that quilt. There were lazy daisy stitches in the snowflakes and on the snow woman's face, and I had the hardest time with them. Every time I had to make a lazy daisy stitch, I crossed my fingers and hoped for the best. Fast forward four years, and they are simple and enjoyable. Practice is boring for me, and I won't do it. (It's why I made a crappy musician.) But stitching is great. Just do it. Practice comes naturally.

With the Written in Thread stitcheries finished, it was time to make up the sixth of nine blocks for the Gingerbread Square quilt. I can't believe I'm nearly 2/3 of the way through the blocks. It'll be ready for sewing together in no time. The next block is the Candy Cane Quilt Shop...and who doesn't love a good quilt shop? This one looks good enough to eat.

So before I finished on needlework for the day, it was traced out, colored, and hooped up, ready to go.

Friday morning, I started stitching it together. The lower left corner beckoned because the words "Quilt Shop" are stitched in the gold metallic floss. As much as I love how the metallic floss is looking on the blocks, it is a bugger to thread the needle. I've given both skeins of gold and silver their own needle. That way, when I've stitched all I need to with a length of floss, I can just set the needle aside without unthreading it. There happened to be an already-threaded needle of gold floss ready to go, and so it seemed an obvious place to start. Take a look at the end of the length of floss, and you'll see why it's so hard to thread onto the needle. The metallic portion is wound around a polyester core, and the whole thing wants to untwist as soon as you cut it from the mother skein.

By the time I'd finished stitching for the morning, I had the words stitched. The metallic gold floss adds the most delightful sparkle to these colorful blocks.

By Sunday morning, I'd taken it this far. It's almost time to move the hoop.

Getting back to Thanksgiving, Erik cooked the turkey this year, and wow! That sure took a load of stress off of me. We still had the stuffing we ordinarily stuff the turkey with, but this time, the stuffing went into a casserole. My job was simply to unwrap the turkey and dry it off real well.

Erik and Mae are always so sweet to bring flowers when they come to dinner at our house. Mae worried that the hydrangeas in this bouquet were limp beyond hope. With a little water and a pretty vase, they perked right up.

 Erik loaded gallons of oil into his fryer. Can you tell it was cold on this day? 

Also, can you tell one of our trees is just now losing its leaves? Mike had blown them all away no more than an hour earlier, but they were back in abundance. There was cooking going on inside the house as well, but I checked outside a couple of times to see how things are going. It's been years since someone else cooked the turkey. When I see this image, the idiom "Too many cooks spoil the broth" comes to mind.

Erik did a beautiful job. It took just 50 minutes to fry up the bird to a beautiful golden brown.  

When it was finished, we brought it inside and tipped it on its side to drain. It was tented with foil to keep it warm.

Then, Mike carved it. And then...we ate it. 

Be sure to take a look at Matthew's beautiful sweet potatoes. They were boiled with some apples, and then mashed, and they were delicious. It's the first time Erik and Matthew have contributed dishes to the Thanksgiving feast. The times they are a changin'.

We had a wonderful time. The kids arrived early, and so we spent a nice day together, just laughing and talking. Gracie stayed to herself, as she usually does, but Smitty was in the middle of everything.

By Friday afternoon, everything was put away...wine glasses, fancy silverware, vintage china (from Mike's grandmother), serving dishes...and then I had some time to do some sewing.

The Doors of Ireland has been so ill-behaved, I decided to put it in time out for the rest of the month and finish up some of the other projects on my list of goals for November. Besides, I'm awaiting a TOWA bobbin tension gauge that I'm told will make me rich and famous. That might be overstating what I've been told a little bit, but certainly, it's going to change my life. At the very least, I'm hoping it will get rid of my tension headaches. It's scheduled to arrive tomorrow, and so we shall see.

Instead of quilting, I went to work on the fourth of four November blocks for the Live, Love, Teach quilt...this one created by Nathan.

A little sleuthing was required to determine what the gray object in the middle is. Turns out it's an elephant. Okay...I see it. You might have to squinch your eyes a little. Sometimes I look at these blocks, especially those created by children, and sigh, wondering how I'll ever recreate them. In this case, I could drive myself crazy trying to recreate all those little purple rectangles, circles, and triangles, or I could do something with this fabric from my stash that sprang to mind when I first laid eyes on the original.

Rather than submit to endless tedium, I opted for sanity over realism. (Just let that last phrase sink in for a moment.) I used the fabric in my stash and took a little artistic license with Nathan's block to come up with this:

With that finished, I decided it was time to complete the top-stitching for Samson. This was the little "make and take" project I created when I took a class from June Jaeger back in September. Here's Samson, ready for sandwiching and quilting now.

Our weather has been so beautiful all week long, and so Mike and I took a drive into the countryside on Saturday. I had in mind to find a barn I'd seen this summer while in too much of a hurry to stop. As one approaches the barn, one sees only the end on the right side of the image below. You have to drive past it to see the five barn quilts on its side. This is McKibbon's Barn just outside Yamhill, Oregon.

When Suzi Parron spoke at our guild, she mentioned this barn and she also knew the story behind the blocks. They were added in memory of Mrs. McKibbon's husband. They were some of his favorite quilt blocks.

So when we returned home on Saturday, I got to work quilting Feed the Cat, which is the last of my quilt sandwiches (except for the Doors of Ireland, and we are ignoring it for the moment). Before the end of the day, it was quilted and bound.

It's a small wall-hanging, 20 x 30 inches, and it will be the first quilt to adorn the second wall of my stairwell Cat Quilt Mewseum.

This quilt has a lot of whimsy, and so I quilted it with whimsy. It seemed to be calling out for these whirlygigs. (Caution: technical quilting terms ahead.) I put a big one right here...

and two smaller ones over here.

Okay, well, I was going to show you the rest of the quilting, but there is a problem here.

Let's just see if we can work around Santa Claws here. The border seemed to be calling out for lots of wavy lines. Also, I quilted a row of "grass" and a few "dandelions" across the bottom of the quilt.

I just stitched around the flowers. The cat is outlined right next to the applique.

Sunday morning I made a label for it. My guild is doing its UFO challenge again this year, and a quilt is not deemed finished until it is labeled.

And that was my sewing weekend. I'm feeling pretty good about having almost everything on my list finished. 

Today I have a routine appointment with my dermatologist. It's my penance for years and years and years of competitive swimming and lifeguarding in the sunshine of Hawaii and Southern California. Also, there's a little bit of housework to do, but then plenty of time for sewing.

How was your weekend?