Giving Thanks at the Racetrack

November 26, 2015

My immediate family lives 700+ miles away. I always go to family for Christmas but never for Thanksgiving. I used to go to a friend’s house until she moved out of the area. I was on my own for a couple of years until Caren invited me to spend Thanksgiving with her family at Laurel Park Racetrack. I’ve been doing that for many years now. Sometimes her mother and son joined us but now it’s just the three of us.


Caren and Paul

Most people think going to the races for Thanksgiving is weird. We get free coffee or apple cider and a donut in the morning, a nice buffet dinner at noon, a fun day of racing and go home with a free pie. What’s not to like about that?

In past years, we got a ticket for a free pie from the Maryland Jockey Club with our paid admission to the track. Last year, they did away with the free pie because it was too expensive. Paul thought it was because people would come in with a bunch of kids and go home with a stack of pies. This year, they brought back the free pie but you had to buy a racing program to get it. Who’s going to buy a program for a kid? Another change this year was free admission to the racetrack and no coupon needed for the coffee/cider and donut.

Today the temperature outside was around 60 degrees and sunny, great conditions for racing. Inside, it wasn’t too warm and wasn’t too cold. We didn’t get good table service for drinks but we never do. Our server always seems to disappear and never comes by when we want to order something.

Caren and I were unusually lucky today, cashing a lot more tickets than we normally do. Poor Paul only cashed one ticket all day. That’s unusual for him so he was a little unhappy.

If I counted correctly, I actually made money today! It’s been a very long time since I made money at the track. The day started with me cashing winning tickets for the first 3 races. Wow! I decided I better get some lottery tickets in case my winning streak extended to that. From then on, I won some races and lost some races.

There is always at least one race where I forget to check my betting slips before I leave the teller window. Once you leave, that’s it. When I forget to check is always when the teller makes a mistake. Never fails. Ever. Usually, it would have been a winning ticket for me if the teller hadn’t messed it up. This time, the teller gave me two bets on the same horse, instead of the two horses I selected. Well, luckily, the horse ended in the money so her mistake worked in my favor for a change. And, that horse had higher odds so the payment was pretty good. By pretty good, instead of $3.60 or so, it was $20+. We’re not talking big money here.

We can’t really see much of the race from the clubhouse tables so we watch on the monitor that is at each table.


Our normal view of the race. This is the one where I had the double ticket on #8. Although she’s leading at this point, she finished in second place.

We could see the finish line from our table.


This isn’t the finish line but it’s close. They either just finished or are just about to finish. This is another one when my horse, #13 ended in the money and paid a nice amount.

In previous years, they’ve only run nine races and usually they had a small field. Last year several races only had five horses. This year there were ten races and some races had over 10 horses.

Good food and good company made for a great day.

Allietare: The Fabrics

November 25, 2015

The first Bonnie Hunter mystery I did was 2012’s Easy Street. I used her colors because it was the first time. I intended to use different colors for the next mystery but her colors were the ones I had the most of, so I had to use them. Last year, for Grand Illusion, I didn’t have any other ideas so I used her colors except for substituting brown for black.

Earlier this year, while cutting from my floral fabrics, I ran across this one and the color scheme really spoke to me. I hoped to be able to use it for this years mystery. It looks washed out in this picture. It shows up better in some of the other pictures.


I anxiously awaited the reveal of this years colors. I can’t remember when I was this excited. It was like when I was a little kid waiting for Santa. Every day of that week in October I went to Bonnie’s blog, sure that the colors would be released that day, only to be disappointed.

When they were finally released, I saw the first color: gold. Well, darn, my scheme has gold. The second color: red. Well, darn, mine has coral which is different but in the same color family. Then, our schemes parted company. Great, mine will work!


The first draft of gold fabrics.


These were the winners. Everything looks very brown and washed out in this picture instead of gold. The dark fabric is my constant. I was checking to make sure there was enough contrast with the darker golds.


These were eliminated for being too dark, too light or just not quite the right color.

I neglected to take a picture of the corals before I started messing with them.


Sorted into 4 color groups with the inspiration fabric in the center.


All of the fabrics lined up with the inspiration. Should I remove the brighter pinks? I don’t know why this picture is sideways.


The brighter pinks have been removed in this picture. I think I’ll leave them in.

For the constant color, Bonnie used grey, I’m using a beautiful cinnamon brown.


This picture doesn’t do justice to the rich color. As you can see, it’s a perfect match to the inspiration fabric.

Where Bonnie used black, I will be using dark blue/blue purple.


The dark blue and purple in the inspiration fabric.


The candidates.


The rejects. Some are too light. The color is wrong in some. I really wanted to use the batik on the right but it has too many colors in it and stood out too much.


I’m leaving this one in. Yes, the print is what you think it is. And, although it doesn’t show in the picture, it has glitter on it. You’ll never guess who gave me this fat quarter – Baltimore’s own applique queen, Mimi Dietrich! One woman in our grad school class used a piece in her Y2K quilt and told her grandchildren it was dog bones and worms.


The winners for the dark color.

For neutrals, my inspiration fabric calls for a rosy beige. This is a very difficult color of neutral to find. Fortunately, I have plenty in my fabric collection.


The candidates.


These are the lightest ones. I won’t use the bottom two but I’m torn about the top one. Time will tell.

Our adventure is about to start. Are you ready?


Sourdough Stars

November 24, 2015

After I finish a big project, like Celtic Solstice, I flounder around for a bit. I spend a few days working on mindless piecing as something of a palatte cleanser. I spent a few days making Wild and Goosey blocks.


Not entirely mindless but they served the purpose. I piddled around tidying things up around the studio getting ready for Bonnie Hunter season. While doing that I ran across the bonus triangle squares from Grand Illusion. They hadn’t been pressed yet so I did that. The next thing I knew I was cutting fabric for the squares needed for Pinky Swear, designed by Jo Kramer to use the bonus triangle squares.


That used the pink/neutral half-square triangle squares but I still had the brown/neutral squares. I decided that since I had a pink and brown top, I should make a blue and brown top. I finished it on Sunday.


Here they are side by side.


I’m calling these Sourdough Stars because the bonus triangles they started with are the quilting equivalent of sourdough starter. You take some leftovers from a project, add some new stuff and get another quilt top.

Only 3 more sleeps until the first Bonnie Hunter Mystery clue!

All the Shiny New Projects: Kim McLean’s Village

November 24, 2015

I’m a sucker for house quilts but what really got my attention in Kim McLean’s Village quilt was the animals.


I picked up the pattern at the AQS show in Lancaster, PA last spring. The vendor had a fabric that would have worked for the background but she didn’t have enough. In June at the Quilter’s Unlimited show in Chantilly, VA, I found a fabric I had to have for the background.


This is a directional fabric so I couldn’t use the cutting instructions in the pattern. I had to make up a cutting diagram to keep all the pieces going in the correct direction. That was necessary to calculate whether or not I bought enough fabric. So far, I think I’m good.


Why didn’t I make the diagram larger so it was easier to read? I have no idea. I haven’t cut all the pieces but I think I’ve got plenty left.

I don’t care at all for the fence fabric the designer used. I chose this fabric:


It’s also directional so I had to make sure I cut it so the grain goes the correct way.

The two fabric pictures are sideways. WordPress upgraded and now I don’t see any way to rotate the images. If you happen to know how to do it, please let me know.


All the Shiny New Projects: Autumn Leaves

November 24, 2015


Sometime last year, Linda was at the cutting table with the fabric on the left. Of course, I had to have some, too. It is so georgeous. I knew exactly what to do with it. It will be the border for the Vermont Maple Leaf Quilt. The picture on the cover of the pattern doesn’t do the quilt justice. I first saw the quilt in person a few years back at the Quilter’s Unlimited quilt show in Chantilly, VA. At that time the only way you could get the pattern was to buy her kit. A couple of years ago she started selling the pattern without the kit. The light blue fabric on the right is the background I chose.

I’m making the leaves out of Kaffe Fassett collective prints. I made a fussy cutting paper template and used that to determine where to cut the fabric. I cut out a square the size of the paper template.


After cutting the squares, I put fusible on them. I used Misty Fuse which has no paper backing. That makes it a little difficult to work with but I’ve been using it enough to get the hang of it. The hardest thing about it is that it is so fine, it’s hard to see.


The teflon pressing sheet on the ironing board is the bottom layer.


I laid the Misty Fuse on the pressing sheet, then carefully laid the fabric squares on top, right side up. You can see the pressing sheet looks lighter on the left where the Misty Fuse hasn’t been cut away. I trim the fusible away from the fabric before fusing so I don’t waste it.


Then I cover the squares with another pressing sheet or parchment paper and iron according to the instructions. I’ve used parchment paper here.


After they’re fused and cooled, I peel them off the teflon sheet and cut the squares apart. Then I let them cure for a bit. I used my plastic leaf template and trace around it on the fusible side using a Pigma pen. I carefully cut out the leaf so I have a positive and negative version. I give the outside part that isn’t the leaf to Linda who does things with them.

After pulling fabrics that I thought went with the border fabric, I didn’t have quite enough. I had 3 fat quarter towers I bought in Paducah in 2013 (or was it 2012?) so I washed them and pulled the ones that went with the color scheme and cut more leaves.

Of course, I ended up with more leaves than I need. It’s going to be hard to decide which ones to not use. If the pattern had each leaf on a separate background, I could sew them all and not worry about which one goes where until the end. But, the pattern calls for putting 4 leaves together on one piece of background. That means I have to decide on the layout of which fabric goes where before I do any sewing. I’ll have to remember to mark each block with it’s position in the quilt.

The quilt size in the pattern isn’t quite as large as I like for a queen size bed so I’m adding an extra leaf on the side and bottom – those blocks will have 2 leaves per background. That’s all the background fabric I have. I can’t even find the scraps that must have been left. Maybe they’ll turn up somewhere. I’ll probably make the border larger also but won’t decide that until the top is assembled.


A mess of leaves ready to fuse.

After I fuse the leaves to the backgrounds, I’ll stitch them by hand with buttonhole stitch using Valdani #12 perle cotton thread.

After I’m finished fusing, I clean the teflon sheet of any fusible residue by rubbing it with a bath scrubby.

All the Shiny New Projects: Log Cabins

November 17, 2015

Lest you think all I’ve done this year is shop, to paraphrase a current commercial, there’s been a whole lot of doin’ in here.

Way back in the before time, Mary Ellen Hopkins, one of the quilting world’s Olympians when I started, recommended cutting log cabin strips no wider than 1.25″. I ended up with this bin full of strips just waiting to be used. I had a picture of it with the strips but lost all the pictures I hadn’t uploaded when my phone had to be reset to factory defaults earlier this week. Sigh.

When the Quilters Hall of Fame celebration came around this summer, I signed up for Sue Troyan’s Log Cabin class. Unfortunately, Sue had to cancel due to a death in the family. I decided not to cancel the class. The cutting list called for 1.25″ wide strips except for the last round which was to be 1.5″ to allow a little extra for trimming to end up with a block the right size.

The HOF found a substitute teacher. The class ended up being simply a paper piecing class which I didn’t really need. Of course, we didn’t get any of Sue’s tips for making the block. I made 24 paper pieced blocks using the foundatons from the class. After that, I decided that as long as I was cutting the pieces to size, I could dispense with the paper if I heavily starched the strips. I didn’t need to cut larger strips for the outside round since the blocks would come out the correct size.

This is where I would show a picture of the strips hanging on the drying rack if I still had it.

This is the first quilt from the log cabin bin. I used Bonnie Hunter’s definition of a neutral for the lights. Part way through I ran out of those strips so cut some shirtings.


For the rest of the blocks I decided to use white on white prints for the light side and put any remaining light background strips on the dark side. I figured the whites would provide enough contrast for that to work.

This bin was full to the brim of logs after I cut up all the strips in my bin and added light strips from stash. I lost that picture, too. It looked so nice with all the logs lined up like little soldiers.


The logs in that bin turned into these blocks. There are about 140 if I counted correctly when I cut the logs.


I haven’t decided how big the quilts will be or what settings I’ll use. For now, these are a pile of blocks. I moved on to other things.

Ovarian Cancer Quilt Auction

October 30, 2015

Last year my brother was a patient at M. D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas. He brought this auction to my attention today.

From the website:

“The Ovarian Cancer Quilt Project was established to educate the public about the risk factors and symptoms of ovarian cancer through the artistry of quilting.

The 2015 Online Quilt Auction will benefit the Blanton-Davis Ovarian Cancer Research Program at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. Through innovative research, this program aims to develop effective screening methods and ultimately a cure for ovarian cancer.”

Bidding began October 21 and ends November 4, 2015. 184 quilts were donated to this year’s auction. The auction is held every 2 years so the next one will be 2017.

Please visit the project website to see the quilts being offered and for more information about the project and how you can help.

Guild Silent Auction

October 28, 2015

Every year my quilt guild, Faithful Circle Quilters, in Columbia, MD, has a silent auction to raise money for the Thansgiving baskets for the needy given by the church where we meet. I wasn’t going to go this year because I hadn’t gotten anything ready to sell and didn’t want to bring anything home.

This was tempting:


One member made up a raffle basket with 120 fat quarters. You had to be present to win. I ended up going and bought some tickets. it raised $400. I figured if I won, that would take care of my Sew and Tell group birthday gifts for next year. I didn’t win. The winner was the teenage daughter of a member. Now she has a stash.

One of our members made this beautiful cake.


Unfortunately, I didn’t come home empty handed. I bought what purported to be the kits for this BOM that was offered at our local shop some years ago. I hope I have all the patterns (wonder where they might be?) because this is not a complete set. There is fabric for some of the blocks but not all.


I also picked up this small Delft plate:


Celtic Soltice: Finished!

October 28, 2015

I was determined to get this one finished before this year’s mystery started. And I did! By finished, I mean ready for the quilter.

I auditioned several options for the second border. Bonnie’s way is on the left side. I knew I didn’t want to do it that way. Around the top are diamonds, each made of two of the Peaky and Spike units. In case you don’t know, Peaky and Spike was the name given by Doreen Speckman to the triangle in a square unit. Unfortunately, she died suddenly around 2000.


I tried flipping the units in opposite directions along the bottom and lower right side. I like the look but not for this quilt.


Some people put the units like the ones on the lower left side. I tried it both ways.


I went with the diamonds. I finished in time to show it at guild on Monday night. Ta da!


And, here’s the back. I like to take a block from the front and blow it up, then border it.


I often have pieces of fabric left from the front that aren’t big enough to make the patch for the back, so I piece them to get a large enough piece. That shows most clearly in the four-patches. I pulled up this block in EQ5 to get the rotary curring instructions for the peaky and spike unit. The first one came out a little bit small but everything worked out anyway. I took the cutoffs from the large yellow triangle and sewed them together to make the opposite yellow triangle. The pieced one was smaller than the other but everything worked out anyway. Don’t ask me how. The back is square, as it should be.

Saturday it will go to the quilter and I won’t have to see it again until sometime next year.

I’m linking to Jo’s pre-mystery UFO challenge. Check out what others are working on.

Webbing the quilt top

October 28, 2015

I learned the technique of webbing blocks and the quilt top from an Eleanor Burns book. While I use it for blocks, I only use it for part of the quilt top. For me, webbing the entire quilt top as one piece is too much bulk to handle. The process is the same whether sewing together a block or a quilt top.

So, what does webbing the quilt mean? Suppose we have a nine-block quilt. The first step is to sew the blocks in the second column to the blocks in the first column and keep the chain together.


Then, sew the blocks in the third column to the blocks in the second column, keeping everything chained together. Now, the three rows are complete and each row is attached to the row below it by the chain stitching.


Now, sew the rows together, keeping the unsewn rows attached by the chain stitches.


Sew the third row to the others and you’re done.

Here are the Celtic Solstice piles with column 1 on the left and column 2 on the right. I flip the column 2 block over onto the column 1 block and sew them together. Do that for all the blocks in the piles.


It’s too long to show the whole thing but here is part of the first 2 columns after the step above. Can you see that each set of blocks is attached to the next by the chain stitching?


I do that with each set of 2 columns, until I get them all done. In this case I had an odd number of columns so the last set had 3 columns webbed together. In the photo below, I’m getting ready to add the 3rd column to the previous 2.wpid-20151012_115312.jpg

This photo shows why I don’t like to web large quilt tops. This was just the 3 columns and became hopelessly tangled. I had to snip some of the chain stitching to untangle them. I had to be very careful to keep the blocks in the correct order.


I hope this made sense of webbing the quilt.


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