Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Fall Quilt Finish

I thought I would dust off the cobwebs over here for those of you who aren't on Instagram where I spend most of my time these days.  

During the summer months I don't often have much time to sew.  I spend a lot of time in our garden, trimming, planting, picking and enjoying the sunshine.  This year we had an incredibly hot summer, setting record after record for heat.  Mr. Squash and I gave up the ghost on our 20 year old air conditioner and had a much larger, new unit installed.  Now we can enjoy the indoors when the thermometer hits 100+, which it did many times this summer!

What better way to spend those hot days inside, but quilt!  Ever we visited my friend Lynn Wilder at Wilder's Last Resort this summer, and I saw her Heartfire design up close and personal, I had to make my own version!  I knew I wanted to make my version using creams and browns. I had Toasted, from Jo Morton tucked away in my stash.  But those were all neutrals, and I needed a contrast.  Almost immediately I saw a line from Buggy Barn fabrics, Down to Earth that would work.  But then I needed a focus fabric for the block centers.  While visiting Lynn's Sew'n Wild Oaks class at In Between Stitches earlier in the summer I found the perfect fabric in Jo Morton's Charleston line!  

Because I had a lot of other projects that needed to be quilted and bound, I thought I would scale my version of the original pattern down a bit.  Once I finished the blocks, I needed to decide what fabric to use in the setting triangles.  Yes, I am guilty of not planning ahead, but the quilt police did not come knocking at my door.  I went bin diving in my stash and found the perfect fabric - Marble by Holly Taylor for Moda.  I really wanted to use Charleston for the outer border as well, but something just wasn't right.  Thanks to a suggestion from Lynn to make the inner border a bit narrower, Charleston worked perfectly!

Here is an up-close look at one of my favorite blocks.  This is really a very easy block to make.  The  most important thing is to be sure the block fits Lynn's measurement guide, otherwise the setting triangles won't fit.  Lynn's pattern has great instructions for those of us who are occasionally "challenged by the numbers"! 

Next up I'll be spending a lot of quality time with my longarm finishing this and 5 other tops that have yet to be quilted and bound.  I hope you're all enjoying a wonderful fall!

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Adventures in California!

Last month Mr. Squash and I had the great pleasure of being invited to spend a week with my good friend Lynn of Sew'n Wild Oaks blog.  And what a week it was!  We met Lynn in person a couple of years ago at In Between Stitches where she works and teaches in Livermore, CA. In just that brief meeting I think we both knew there would be a great friendship to come!

We spent the first two nights at Lynn and Joe's home in Livermore because I was invited to attend her Sew'n Wild Oaks class at the shop!

Here we all are at the end of a wonderful day of stitching, laughing and having a wonderful time getting to know all the great gals in class!  That's Lynn on the far left next to her sister Gail and of course me seated on the chair!  Everyone is so nice, not to mention incredibly talented.  I miss you all!

After a couple of nights in town with some great meals prepared by Lynn and even a chance to meet more family members, we headed up to the hills to "Wilder's Last Resort", their gorgeous log cabin in the Sierra's.  First stop was Calaveras Big Trees State Park.  These majestic Sequoias are 3500 years old or more and quite the sight to see!  It actually rained this day - a welcome sight for parched California!  Look how tiny we are in comparison to these beauties!
 Mr. Squash and I had many opportunities for possible Christmas card photos!
Of course we had to bring a toy for the furry family member - Mazey!  This was supposed to be rated a 10 on the "chewable" scale meaning she shouldn't be able to chew it apart - NOT!  Here she is exhausted after a long and fun day exploring and chewing her new toy!
The second day we all headed off to Yosemite!  Here are the four of us at an overlook in the park.  Half Dome, one of the well known peaks in the park is right between the fella's hats!
Lynn's sister Gail (left) was with us during our time at the cabin.  Here we are taking in another view!  I tell you, these two kept me in stitches - both laughing and sewing!!
We had a picnic lunch at the base of El Capitan. This sheer rock cliff is a popular spot for rock climbers.  Through binoculars we could actually see them set up to spend the night suspended from the cliff as they prepare for the next day's climb. I cringe just thinking about picking seams with my seam ripper - let alone scaling the side of El Capitan!
Thanks to the previous day's rain, we were able to see the famous falls, which come down in three tiers from the top.  We hiked all the way to the base.  It's funny - there are loads of people and cars in the park most of the time, but you hardly notice them for all the beauty of nature that surrounds every corner of the park.

Here is a great shot of Half Dome with the sun shining over the curved top.

I'm surprised we didn't come home looking for larger sized clothes!  Lynn's meals were outstanding!  We laughed and talked and formed a lasting friendship with Lynn, Joe and Gail and are already thinking about when we can get together again!

And not to be forgotten were Lynn's quilts which were in every corner of the cabin!  Lynn's designs are totally created by her from concept to execution and even the quilting!  

For a few more photos go over to Lynn's blog and check out her post on our visit HERE.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Squash House - Mid Spring 2015

Hello, and thanks for all the inquiries as to my whereabouts!  Since I am mostly on Instagram these days, I thought I would do a little Spring update for those of you who aren't.  Everything is great here at the Squash House.  Now that I've fully recovered from my back surgery, I find myself out in the gardens every chance I get.  I may have to dust the cobwebs off my sewing machine pretty soon!
 A couple of weeks ago we hosted my dear friend Stephanie from Rummage (formerly Loft Creations) for a week.  Stephanie and I had a great time visiting and exploring our little town. You might remember the backwards photo of us last year.

We even got the chance to cook a few meals together!  It sure was fun having a good friend to cook with!
 I so wanted the Dogwood blossoms to hang on for her arrival - and they cooperated quite nicely!

 Many of you have been asking about the garden, so I'll take you on a mid-Spring tour!  This is the first rose bloom which opened around the end of April!  We've had an incredible Spring so far with very little, if any, cloudy or rainy days.
This was the first perennial to bloom - it's a dwarf Anemone.
 The rest of the photos I took yesterday in the early morning.  Check out the bearded Iris!  All the buds haven't even opened.  You can see the grapes and blueberries in the background - both already loaded with fruit.  I have some basil seeds under the cloche in the half wine barrel - mostly to protect from the squirrels rather than keeping them warm!
 Looking the other way you might notice a strange tree just past the rhododendron.  Our ball shaped willow (along with many other plants) didn't make it through the winter thanks to a severe drop in temperature last November.  We bought a new, weeping willow as a replacement.  I'll try to post photos once it it fully leafed out.  As you can seem, a lot of perennials aren't even close to full size yet, but each day there is progress.
 Here we are looking back toward the house.  I love my new windmill!  
 The trellis here in the background held gourds last year.  This year I moved it and planted climbing, Black Eyed Susan's around.  They will climb up and over and cover the entire trellis in another month or two.
 Barbara, the purple Clematis is is full flower and the Alyssum under the roses will soon cover all the exposed dirt.
 I planted more Clematis on the short bit of chain link fence we have last year.  This year, they are really coming along.  Check out the Lupine, as well!
 We decided to move more to the fruit side of our little Squash House "Farm" and away from vegetables, except tomatoes and lettuce.  We can get all the fresh veggies we want at our Farmer's Market, and fruit is a little easier to manage as we get older.  This is our new, free -range, organic, sustainable, fair-traded, artisanal Strawberry patch!  (Can you tell we've been having some fun?).  Next year we should have many, many berries!
 My very special Diamantina Raymond Evison Clematis is in fully glory this spring!  Aren't these amazing blooms?
Bernard, the white Clematis with dinner-plate sized blooms is just getting started.  Soon you will barely be able to see the leaves for the blooms.

I will try to post another update early this summer.  If you can, do come see me on Instagram as mrssquash

Friday, January 9, 2015

First Quilt Top of 2015!

I managed to surprise myself by finishing a quilt top yesterday - the first one of 2015!  Normally I don't keep track of what I make in any particular year, but I thought it might be fun to do so this year.

The quilt started out with these pinwheels.  Tedious little buggars, but blocks like this keep you on your toes in terms of accuracy and for those that know me, accuracy is the name of the game!
It then progressed to these pretty rows.
Tah Dah...a finished quilt top.  It's called Hometown USA, measures 27 x 31, and was a kit from one of my top favorite shops - the Country Sampler in Spring Green, Wisconsin.  The outer border may look black on your computer, but it is actually a rich, dark blue.

I make a lot of small quilts this size to throw over the back of chairs and the couch in the living room.  Gracie May and Sasha love laying on top of them and we love that they protect the furniture from little kitty claws!

Monday, January 5, 2015

AJ Bag - A Supreme Finish

Some time back Stephanie at Rummage asked me to test a new bag design for her.  Of course I said yes as soon as I saw it!  I knew I had the perfect fabric, too - something I had bought while we were in Portland together in the Spring of 2013, Tim Holtz's Eclectic Elements.  

Here is Stephanie's new design, AJ - which is named for the first initials of her two children, Allison and James.   This  design goes together very fast with just 6 fat quarters.  How many of us have at least 6 fat quarters lying around our sewing rooms?  (I'm still working on the photo editing in my new iMac, so the colors may be a bit off.)  I love the "Steampunk" fabric and used a few of Mr. Squash's goodies as props.  Stephanie even sent me a pair of earrings with a Steampunk style to go with the bag!

This is the back.  Such fun and versatile fabric!  You can find the PDF patter HERE on the Connecting Threads website and they also have a kitted version of it HERE.  Do visit Stephanie over at Rummage and have a look at two version of the bag she made.  You can also see her "Confetti" quilt pattern that Connection Threads has kitted as well.

Friday, January 2, 2015

A New Year, A New Quilt!

Tap tap....anyone there?  Thanks for those of you who have inquired if all is well at The Squash House!  I'm still here.  If you're looking for me lately, you can find me on Instagram as "mrssquash".

I recently made the Big Move from PC to Apple with the purchase of an iMac.  The learning curve has been a bit of a challenge, particularly when it comes to uploading and editing photos.  Please forgive me for the photos in this post.  My favorite Picasa program has now been taken over by Google+ and it isn't anywhere near as easy as it was to edit photos.  With time I'm sure I'll get better.

I finally finished quilting and binding this quilt.  It's called Flight of Fancy by Crabapple Hill. Mr. Squash bought it for me not long after we retired to The Squash House.  I love sitting in the evenings and with some handwork, and these patterns really fit the bill for me.  
I used a variety of fabrics both in the stitcheries and the quilt blocks.  The stitchery fabrics are antiqued muslins and several different shades.  The darkest show up pretty yellow in my photos, but they don't look that way in person.
I so wish we had Cardinals in our neck of the woods.
We have lots of Robins which are my favorite bird.  After I was confirmed as a young girl, we were all out in the play yard of the church in our little white dresses and veils.  Suddenly a robin flew down and landed on my shoulder.  It stayed there for quite a while and we were all stunned!  The nuns were over the moon and told me it was my guardian angel.  How sweet is that!
We have lots of Chickadee's here.  Sasha and Gracie May stake out windows spots every morning to watch them!  Many times we see them racing from window to window hoping to "catch" one.
Every year a flock of Cedar Waxwing's visits our European Cranberry bush for about two weeks.  They feed on the berries then leave, not to be seen again until the next year.
This is a large quilt - 77 x 77!  I used an edge to edge design to kept it simple, and used Quilter's Dream wool for batting.  Time for a new stitchery quilt!

Friday, November 21, 2014

Having Fun with Corduroy!

 Today my friend Stephanie over at Rummage posted a new infinity scarf made from her tutorial that can be found HERE.  I liked the scarf so much that I had to run right down to my LQS, buy some corduroy and make one!
I knew my LQS had a bolt of Soul Blossoms 21-wale corduroy and was hoping it was still there.  Not only was it still there, it was 50% off!  Score! I can't tell you how soft and warm this scarf is!  I can't wait to wear it out!  Check me out on Instagram as well: mrssquash.

Stephanie has written a book called Uncommonly Corduroy.  It has lots of great patterns that can be made from corduroy (or not). I urge you to make at least one item from corduroy! This scarf is a great starter.  Once you work with it you'll find how similar it is to working with flannel - soft, warm and easy peasy! You can find her book HERE.

Mr Squash got a box today.  It was full of these as well as Tastykake pies.  He grew up with TastyKakes and covets them!  They aren't available here on the West Coast - nor had I ever heard of them until we met.  Fortunately his sister knows how much he loves them and sent a box along for Thanksgiving!  Thanks, Barbara!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Corduroy Road - A Supreme Reveal!

This past winter I had the joy of testing another quilt pattern for my friend Stephanie over at Rummage.  As many of you know, Stephanie has a variety of people test her bag and quilt patterns prior to publication,  She calls us her "Supremes".  

As soon as she showed me the prototype I immediately knew what I was going to do with this very special quilt!  You can read all about the particulars of this quilt HERE.  It is also currently available as a pattern from Connecting Threads.

I've tested many bag patterns for Stephanie using one of her favorite mediums, corduroy.  This was the first quilt I made using corduroy.  I must say I was a bit afraid of it at first, but only because I had never made an entire quilt using corduroy.  Let me say, my fears were unfounded!  Corduroy has now become the new flannel for me!  It's easy to work with, puts less lint in your machine, and gives wonderful dimension to your projects!  I really encourage you to give it a try!
On to the quilt!  I knew that I wanted to make this quilt for my dear blogging friend, Pratima, whose blog is Lakumuki.  Pratima and her husband, Kalyan, hail from Hyderabad in South India, although they currently live in the U.S.  Mr. Squash spent some time in India and Nepal and still remembers a good deal of the Hindi language.  We have enjoyed our blogging friendship and hope to meet in person some day!

Pratima and her husband celebrate the Hindu Festival of Diwali, or Festival of Lights each year.  I picked the bright colors in the quilt to reflect my own interpretation of that colorful celebration.

Mr. Squash helped me pick the quilting design, which is aptly called "New Delhi".  The paisleys in the pattern can be found in many Indian prints.

I used a cotton batting from my stash because of the coordinating light pink color.  It really shows off my quilting.  Believe me when I say this is a most warm and cozy quilt!

Here is a closeup.  The color is a bit off, but you can see the embellished paisley.  

I encourage you to make a quilt using Corduroy!  If you need inspiration, Stephanie has written a book called Uncommonly Corduroy with lots of bag and quilt patterns.

Pratima is also posting about this quilt today.  Please visit her blog Lakumuki.  I'm sure she will tell a lovely story as she always does!

Monday, November 3, 2014

Vintage Block Returns as New Quilt!

Before I forget, if you're looking for me these days I'm over on Instagram as mrssquash more often than here (obviously).  I'm actually enjoying the beauty of snapping a photo and instantly posting it.  Never did I ever think that the "instant" way of doing things would be for me, but for some reason this just clicks.  Don't hesitate to give it a try!

A while back I mentioned that a dear friend shared some vintage fan blocks with me.  I immediately fell in love with them and wanted to give them a new life as soon as possible.  Most were hand stitched and most were already made into blocks, but some were not.  So, I decided to give them a good wash and make new setting blocks for all of them.  This was not a task without issue, but I love the result!

Here is the finished top - so far.  I still need to figure out a backing and binding.  I have no idea when the original fans were made - could have been 40's, 50's or even as recents as the 70's.  It seems some of the prints are older than others, but they all play together so well! 
As I mentioned above, this project was not without a few "issues".  Here you can see that two centers are quite a bit off.  I had to do a lot of trimming to get them all approximately the same size, and I knew here and there I would face something like this.  Since this was the most obvious miss match, I'm really not worried about the quilt police coming after me.
This section fits much better as does the remainder of the quilt.  I'm trying to decide whether to bind it using a new print or solid.  Any suggestions are most welcome!
Autumn never disappoints in our neck of the woods.  This year our fairly new maples in the backyard are not playing well together.  The one on the right is taking it's sweet time changing colors.  We don't mind as we just get more color later than usual!

The grape arbor is always so pretty just before the leaves begin to fall.
Yesterday Mr. Squash had his annual Polish Leaf Picking Festival.  If you click on the photo you can see the leaves in the street ready to be picked up by the city.  He'll start all over again when the dogwoods are finished shedding their gorgeous red leaves.  

Don't forget to stop and see me as mrssquash on Instagram!