Archive for November, 2016

En Provence Begins

November 28, 2016

The day after Thanksgiving is the start of Bonnie Hunter’s annual mystery quilt. A mystery quilt is where you don’t know what the design is until the end. Each week for 6-8 weeks we get a clue telling us what units to make. At the end we put them all together to reveal the quilt design. Some people can’t handle not knowing what the final outcome will be. I only do mystery quilts from designers whose work I know and like.

For Allietare, last year’s mystery, I used colors from a piece of fabric in my stash instead of Bonnie’s colors. I really didn’t want to make a quilt the color of the Maryland state flag. This summer I bought a piece of fabric that I thought I would use to pick this years colors. I’d rather use my own colors than have a quilt that looks like thousand of others. After I got the paint chips for Bonnie’s colors, I pulled out my fabric to see what colors it would inspire.


My focus fabric. I doubt it will be used in this quilt.

Notice anything about the colors in this fabric? No?


How about now? Yup. Every color Bonnie chose is in this print. Well, darn it. I guess mine is going to look pretty much like thousands of others. Except I made a couple of changes.


A blurry picture of my constant fabric which is red rather than magenta.

While at Bear’s Paw Fabrics, looking for my constant and some starter fat quarters for the other colors, Kay found this red fairy frost in the clearance section. I love me some fairy frost and it was a very pretty shade of red that works well with my focus fabric. Last year I ran out of the constant and had to buy more so this year I bought two yards. That was on a Monday. During the week I had second thoughts and started to wonder: what if I want this for binding, what if I need it for a border? On Saturday I went back to the store and bought the rest of the bolt. One of the clerks came up and asked, “Didn’t you buy this on Monday?”. Yes, I surely did. She thought she was having deja vu.


My yellows. Some may not make the cut if I think they’re too light.


The greens. I think these are good to go.


The purples. Some of these just moved from the Allietare pile to the En Provence pile.


One of my differences from Bonnie’s colors. Instead of lavender I’m going with the turquoise/aqua.


My neutrals are blue. The one on top was discarded as being too gray.

What do you think? Will the blue work as a background? I don’t know. It’s a mystery, after all. It works for the focus fabric so I don’t see why it won’t work with the mystery quilt. Come back later and we’ll see if it works.


Everything together. I’ll have to be careful about where I put the lighter turquoises and the darker background blues. There’s not enough contrast between some of them.

The first clue was released on Friday. My first decision was which technique to use to make the 4-patches. I could use my die cutter to cut squares or I could cut strips with the die cutter or the rotary cutter. I decided this time to use the rotary cutter and my Stripology ruler. I love that ruler. It makes cutting strips quick and accurate.

I calculated that I needed 5 18″ strips from each of my blue fabrics. My plan was to use 9″ strips to get more variation in the pairs of strips. 110 strips seems like a lot but I did the calculation three separate times, coming at it from two different directions and got the same answer. I may end up with a lot of 4-patches with nothing to do for a living. Friday I got the strips cut and pairs of strips sewn.

Saturday I finished pressing the sewn strip sets and cut them into segments for the 4-patches. Sure seems like a lot of pieces.


Piles of twosies waiting to become 4-patches.

Do you think I made just enough or too many or not enough? I did a rough calculation and it seems like a reasonable amount. Sure looks like a lot. I know Bonnie says to pair strip sets before cutting the segments so they’re ready to sew into 4-patches but I like variety. Bonnie tolerates more duplicate units than I do. Yes, this takes longer but it’s not a race. I know some people probably finished their 4-patches by lunch time on Friday. That sort of thing will never happen here.

Sunday I finished sewing the 4-patches and started pressing them.


Pile of 4-patches waiting to be pressed. Does this look like the right amount? Too many?


Here they are separated and counted.

There are 10 in each pile except for the bottom two. By my calculation, it’s a little more than I need but not an excessive amount. It’s reassuring to know that math still works.


All done. Ready for the next clue.


Uh oh! One of these is not like the others.

I first learned the 4-patch swirl technique of pressing from Billie Lauder. As you can see in the picture above, the seams all swirl the same direction. We were supposed to swirl them clockwise. The direction they swirl is determined by the direction of the cross seams as they are fed through the sewing machine for the last seam. I wasn’t paying attention when I sewed the one in the middle of the bottom row. Its seams swirl counter-clockwise. I made sure I paid attention to what I was doing after that.

Check out how others are doing at the mystery link-up.

Allietare ready for quilter

November 26, 2016

I met my goal to get Allietare ready for the quilter before this year’s mystery started but I didn’t get it to the quilter due to this darned respiratory bug.


Amy and Sandie holding my top. I find hanging over that railing a bit scary.

As you can see, I didn’t use Bonnie’s colors last year. I also changed the inner border color and size because I think the “red” ties the triangles together. I probably could have made the inner border a bit wider but what’s done is done. I absolutely love it.

Normally for the back of the mystery quilts, I take a block from the front and blow it up to make a one block quilt with borders for the back. Allietare is a rectangle so I had two choices: make a square block with larger borders on top and bottom or draft the block as a rectangular block and make all the borders the same. The night I worked on the design for the back I had a headache and math just wasn’t working. I needed a new plan.

I looked through Bonnie’s blogs for the mystery and noticed all the photos of the striped buildings. So, I made stripes of all the colors from the front to make the back.


The floral fabric in the next to the bottom stripe was the inspiration for the colors I chose for the quilt. I showed a close up of that fabric in this post.

Before I take it to the quilter, I need to write the label info on the bottom neutral stripe. That will save having to make a label later.


Thanksgiving Fun

November 25, 2016

A few weeks ago someone posted a 2015 Row By Row kit for sale in one of the Facebook row swap groups. Fortunately, I logged on to Facebook shortly after she posted it so was the successful buyer. The reason I wanted it is that it was from a shop in Kentucky and showed three horses racing. It would be a perfect gift to present to Caren and Paul on Thanksgiving – the couple I spend Thanksgiving day with. Why would it be perfect? We spend Thanksgiving Day at Laurel Park Racetrack. Paul’s a big racing fan. I can’t remember how many years I’ve been joining them there.


A ridiculous picture of Caren and Paul holding the not yet finished row. The picture I took of them last year was much better. She’ll be mortified when she sees this picture. That’s our waitress Lisa behind them.

I plan to add an inner border made from ribbon with images of the Maryland state flag. The outer border will be blocks based on racing silks. If nothing else it will be colorful. Maybe they’ll get it as a finished item next Thanksgiving.

Normally the day starts with free coffee or apple cider and a doughnut but, although they were advertised, they never made an appearance this year. The buffet opened about the same time as post time for the first race. There was a table of salads and a smoked fish tray, any kind of soup you wanted as long as it was crab (both Maryland and cream of crab were on offer), a table with sides and three kinds of dressing, a carving table with turkey, prime rib and a whole pig (wish I’d taken a picture before they started carving it) and, of course, a desert table which included a beautifully arranged fruit tray. All three of us put away our share of the food throughout the afternoon.

When you buy a racing program for the day, you get a coupon to exchange for a free pie, pumpkin or apple. I always choose pumpkin. Year before last they didn’t do the free pies. Apparently they got a lot of flack about it because they started it up again last year.

Betting on the races started out well for me as I cashed in tickets on the first three races. I’m not foolish enough to make huge bets. I’m as likely to go home with a few dollars extra as not. Then I hit my mid-day lull. Things started picking up later and at the end of the 9th race I was only down $5 for the day. Not bad for an afternoon’s entertainment. Used to be we only got nine races but last year they added a tenth.

The last race of the day is always a crap shoot because it is two year old horses. On the 10th race, I had to bet on the horse named Don’t Poke the Cat, of course. The three of us threw caution to the wind and each made a $1 boxed trifecta bet ($6 total) on Run from the Nun, Don’t Poke the Cat and Diamond Drive. Our day couldn’t have had a better ending because our trifecta hit! The horses pulled it off in the very last seconds of the race. That payout was the most I’ve ever won or probably ever will win.

Poor Caren. She intended to bet the trifecta but neglected to check her ticket carefully enough before she left the teller window. He didn’t hear her correctly and gave her an exacta ticket. At least it was for the two horses that came in first and second so she did get a nice payout, just not as much as Paul and I got. All in all an awesome day that I would have enjoyed even more if I didn’t have this nasty respiratory bug.

Mimi’s Grad School: November

November 3, 2016

Yay, Cubs! They finally did it.

Growing up in central Illinois, we were Cardinal fans because we were closer to St. Louis than Chicago and could run down to St. Louis for a game. I lived in Chicago for five years, part of it just a mile or so from Wrigley Field, before I moved out to Maryland and my brother lives there so I had a vested interest in last night’s World Series final. I wasn’t watching the game but was texting with my brother. The score then was 4-1 in the 5th inning. When the 11:00 news said the score was tied in the 9th inning, I quickly switched over to the game to watch the last 2 innings. At one point it looked like the Cubbies were going to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

Our November Grad School meeting was held on October 31. The store moved it up a week because of Quilters’ Quest. Mimi was wearing her Halloween pointing finger.


Our bird this month in the pattern was a purple martin. Kay designed a woodpecker block for us instead. Some folks worked ahead making the blocks except for the bird so they went ahead and did the bird in the original pattern. Kay made a block with quilts hanging on the line and a rooster that reminds her of childhood visits to her grandparent’s farm. I remembered to bring my project box this time so displayed my painted bunting and woodpecker (the third picture from the left in the top row). They aren’t sewn down yet.

Next month’s bird is called Mama Bird in the pattern. Genie and Ruth decided that the yellow bird was either a goldfinch or a chickadee.

Genie worked ahead and got her top with blocks assembled. She chose not to follow the pattern for all the block foliage.


She also made a tree with all the birds. She saved room for the rest of the birds. Since the last time I showed her tree she added a bird feeder to the empty space.


Every bird feeder needs a squirrel.


All but one of my grad school projects have ended up as a box of blocks because we do a block each month then move on to the next project without allowing time for assembly and borders. Now that I don’t have a job taking up all my time, I’m determined not to let this project languish. I added the frames to the blocks that are sewn. After I took the picture below, I cut and sewed the border backgrounds and chose and cut the strips for the inner border. I need to get as much done as I can before the Bonnie Hunter mystery starts. We have one more bird that will be presented in December and made for January display. I have a lot of beaks, feet and eyes to do yet.