Thursday, December 31, 2015

Best of 2015

I'm getting this one in just under the wire. When my friend, Susan, posted a Best of 2015, I loved the idea. So I did something that I never do--opened up the stats on blogger. It was so interesting.

2015 was the year that I completed more quilts than in probably the last five-plus years combined!

Based on page views, here is my Best of 2015.

1. Animal Planet
This is by far my favorite as well. And this little boy could not be more special. The original quilt by Dani Miller captured my heart from the very first time I saw it. So thanks to Dani for the idea.

I even made him a set of Animal Planet blocks for Christmas.
Thanks to all of you for so much quilt love. You can look forward to a miniature version of Animal Planet in 2016.

2. A Day at Disneyland
This was one case where procrastination definitely worked in my favor. As part of a group of six bloggers who chose to host a quilt-along for this fabulous pattern, My Small World by Jen Kingwell, I was the last one to post. So true to form, I didn't even start this quilt until close to the end of the quilt-along, when it would soon be my turn to post. Because of that, little by little a plan formulated, and I ended up an I Spy quilt with lots of Disney details.

3. The White Quilt
This quilt was in the works literally for over 15 years! The reason I know that is because it was variously called the Engagement Quilt, the First Anniversary Quilt....well, you get the picture. It was completely hand quilted. The only machine sewing on this quilt was the top layer of the blocks. The batting and backing were then completed by hand. It was finally gifted to our son and daughter-in-law on their 15th anniversary in June.

4. Tale of Two Cities
St. Paul
Rachel of The Life of Riley came up with the original idea of keeping track of temperatures for the year 2014 and making a quilt, with each color representing a specific five-degree increment in temperature. I thought it was a brilliant idea. But Fresno doesn't have a wide variation in temperatures throughout the year so I also kept track of temps from St. Paul, Minnesota, both highs and lows for each day and for each city, because Mark is from Minnesota and his brother lives in St. Paul. This two-sided quilt was a lot of fun to make.

5. Christmas in the City
 This is one of my favorite quilt photos from 2015. 

Using Tula Pink's City Sampler: 100 Modern Quilt Blocks book, the blocks were arranged in a color gradation. It was a fun project and turned out even better than I hoped.

I'm linking up to the Best of 2015 at Meadow Mist Designs.

A lot of quilts were completed in 2015, more than I could have imagined, and I look forward to a productive, challenging, and COLORFUL 2016! That's what my quilting life is all about. I hope you will follow along.

Really Random Thursday: 12/31/15, The Holiday Edition

This is the last Really Random post of 2015. Wow. It's hard to believe this year is over in a few short hours.

One last rosebud for the year. And then it got really cold here, and a week later it looks pretty much the same. #frozen
Levi was in a 2nd grade school production of the Grinch.
Mark sang Christmas songs with the church choir. In a suit and tie--VERY unusual for him. In fact, I'm sure quite a few people were surprised that he even owned a nice black suit.
But don't be fooled. His good friend, Steve Ewert, couldn't sing this year. They grew up in Minnesota; the family farms were one mile from each other. So underneath that white dress shirt, he wore a Minnesota t-shirt.
Can't quite see it? Here's a closer look. As Mark mentioned to anyone who questioned him: The dress code was white shirt, black suit and black tie. "No one said anything about what was under the white shirt." This one's for you, Steve.
While I haven't really felt like sewing for weeks (I sure how that changes quickly with the coming of the new year!), I did just a bit for Christmas.

Pillowcases for grandchildren.
The last Mid Century Modern bee blocks for 2015.
And a quick pillow from four log cabin blocks that I discovered while looking for something else.
I completed one last gift--painting Animal Planet blocks to coordinate with Gabe's Animal Planet quilt. The box that the unfinished blocks came in had a mailing date of May 2014. And yet I managed to put off making the gift until four days before Christmas. 2015. Typical...
We have a small-ish family--just my parents, Mark and me, Aaron, Christa and the four grandchildren. So Mark and I try to make gift opening last a little longer, since we adults don't exchange gifts, and the children only get something to wear (new pajamas every year), something to read, and something to play with.

My friend has a long tradition of doing Christmas scavenger hunts with her grandchildren. She is super clever in that way. I am not. So I always try to cajole her into sharing her ideas with me. This year we used the "pack rat" version she had come up with a few years ago. This is what the tree looked like when everyone arrived on Christmas afternoon. More on this later...
Mark might have some 'splaining to do as to how he came to possess actual police crime scene tape. Oops.

But first, while the smallest one napped, we played a little game that turned out to be more fun than I had anticipated. Everyone was given a list that had first letters of common Christmas songs (SN = Silent Night, JB = Jingle Bells, etc.). They worked in pairs trying to figure them all out.

 Nana and Levi made a good team.
 A long list--25 Christmas songs
 One person is concentrating. The other one? He seems more interested in the stockings...
Come on, Charlotte. What is GTIOTM? 
In the spirit of real competition, Aaron insisted that there be a time limit. And I think he and Charlotte ultimately were the winners. But it was a fun little game. Although I think Papa enjoyed spending time coloring with Ella more than trying to figure out the names of carols.
Then we had dinner. Yum--so good.
Finally it was time for the scavenger hunt. First up was reading this notice from the Department of Fish and Game.
In the envelope along with the notice was a fork. Hmmm. Where should a fork actually be? The silverware drawer of course. And there they found a bunch of fabric scraps. Which led them to my sewing room and the infamous scrap bucket. After digging around, they found a bottle of shower gel, which led them to the shower. There they found a screwdriver, which led them to Grandpa's tool box in the garage. In the drawer labeled "screwdrivers," they found a coat hanger, which led them to one of the bedroom closets. After a few more clues, they finally discovered the stash of gifts.

Gabe missed most of the fun as he wasn't feeling well and ended up spending most of the evening sleeping. All in all, it was a relaxing afternoon and a fun evening. The best part was just being together as a family.

We got Ella and Amelia matching pajamas. This picture was taken a few nights later. Don't they look cute together?
We tried to get a picture of them without their binkies. This is what we ended up with.
"Please, just give us our binkies back...."
During the week I randomly located this photo from 2009.
Oh dear, look at her now.
Grandma to Charlotte: Please stop growing up so quickly.
Her ears are newly pierced, a Christmas gift from her parents. Which led me to tell her the story of how at age 14 I was forbidden to get my ears pierced. While normally a very obedient daughter, I went against my parents' wishes and had a friend pierce my ears. Maybe some of you remember the days where an ice cube and a darning needle were used. Ouch!

I purchased good-quality earrings for that little episode of rebellion, and they are now nearly 50 years old, which surely qualifies them as vintage. As of yesterday, they have been passed on to my favorite 9-year-old.
This is our Christmas card from 2015.
Gabe got new socks for Christmas. I told him I needed to take a picture of them. Silly Grandma...
Here is why--new quilty inspiration of course. And I wish they came in my size.
I'm ending with this photo. Ella is the best gift we received in 2015, as her adoption was finalized just last month. And now we will get to hold these precious little hands and watch them grow.
I wish everyone a safe and happy start to 2016.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

The Ugly Christmas Sweater

Kerry Goulder of Kid Giddy designed the cutest paper pieced pattern for a Christmas sweater block. I fell in love with it. You can find it in her etsy shop here.

I have this little scrap of fabric that I have been hoarding. It's one of my favorite Christmas prints, solely because it always makes me laugh when I see it.

Presenting Blowfish Santa and his motley crew of red and green reindeer fish.
Kim of Persimon Dreams is having an ugly Christmas sweater contest. Whether this is a winner of the contest or not, I sure do love this block. I'm going to be making many more throughout the year so next year there will be a whole quilt full of Christmas sweaters!

Friday, December 18, 2015

Friday Finish, 12/18/15: Just Point Me in the Right Direction

This quilt has been finished for quite a few months, but I don't think I ever posted anything about it.

So there is an independent clothing store in Fresno, with this logo.
One day, as a personal challenge, I decided to make a quilt with just the word "up." I like the word itself juxtaposed with arrows going both up and down. Thus the name: Just Point Me in the Right Direction.

With so much negative space, it required lots of really fabulous quilting. And of course, I can always count on Darby. She did a beautiful job of custom quilting in all that white space.

This is a departure from my usual style, and it is unlikely that this quilt will be hanging on the wall in our home. It was more of a personal challenge.

But then it crossed my mind that it might have a tiny chance of being accepted for QuiltCon 2016. Last year I only submitted one quilt and it was not selected. "Not selected" sounds so much better than "rejected," don't you think? Especially when you see the many superb quilts which have not been selected for the upcoming show. 

Anyway, I received an email the other day with the judges asking to see a photo of the inspiration, as they thought it might be "too derivative." After sending them the above photo, it was indeed deemed too derivative and would not be accepted into the show without written permission by the owner of the store, who owned the rights to the logo.

Yikes! I know this is getting wordy. But condensed version: I went to the store in the morning and as I kind of anticipated, there was a language barrier. The man behind the counter didn't seem to understand my request.  Mark went back with me later in the evening, when another employee was at the store, who was able to translate my request. Ultimately it turned out that the person behind the counter was indeed the owner. He eventually signed a release form for submitting a quilt which had copied his store logo.

Nevertheless, I was still shocked to receive an acceptance letter, not only for this quilt, but also two others: Delta Breeze and I've Got Your Back (I actually submitted the back of the Bullseye quilt rather than the front!). 
I also have another small finish. I had these kits for ornaments made from zippers. The other night I plugged in my hot glue gun, and after lots of finger contact with super hot glue (ouch!), here is the result. The pattern gives the option of sewing or gluing. Were I to ever do this again, I think a needle and thread would be the way to go. But still, burned fingers aside, I think they are super cute. And I'm hoping the grandkids don't really notice some stray glue clumps here and there...
I'm linking up to Crazy Mom Quilts, TGIFF, Confessions of a Fabric Addict, and Fort Worth Fabric Studio. Enjoy your last week before Christmas!

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Really Random Thursday: 12/17/15

I woke up in the middle of the night,thinking of one gift I really need to complete before next week. Let me say that I have had most of the supplies since May 2014. How do I know this? Because they are still in the flat rate box they were delivered in. Oh dear...

Here is a really pretty holiday plate that Mark made a few years ago. We have sold all that he made so we don't have one of these. This one was purchased by someone in his office. Isn't it pretty? I should put in a custom order. :)
Our airport always has lots of decorated Christmas trees in the main terminal. Usually they have been done by different designers. This year all the trees looked the same, but still beautifully decorated.
But the bonus was that there is a gingerbread village!
Last week I took Ella and Gabe to see the trees and the village. There was even this cute bench so I was able to take some pictures of the two of them. It still boggles my mind to realize the adoption is complete and we no longer have to hide her sweet little face. Can you tell how much she loves her big brother? Obviously, the feeling is mutual.
Oh, and I finished her Christmas stocking. It is a duplication of a stocking made many years ago for me when I was small. I made the first duplication when Mark and I married, and then for Aaron, his wife, Christa, and all the grandchildren. I love the vintage look of them.
I had a meeting in a neighboring town, Reedley, where the regional MCC headquarters is. All up and down the sidewalk, over a block long, are these awesome tile patchwork blocks (sorry for the shadows).

When doing a little cleaning in my sewing room a few weeks ago, I found four Christmas blocks from a long-ago Flickr block exchange. Although they were the same log cabin pattern, they ranged in size from 12 inches to over 13 inches. So I trimmed them to the same size and sewed them together, and then did some cross hatching quilting with some pretty red and pink variegated thread. As soon as the backing is completed, it will be a fun holiday pillow,
Also, speaking of Christmas, my new friend, Linda, made an awesome variation of Christmas in the City. She duplicated the gradated color scheme and was able to get much the same feel in this beautiful table topper. Isn't it just gorgeous?  Her version is now on my to-do list. You can see more pictures and read more about it here. I also love that she calls it Christmas in the Canyon.
I'm off to turn on the Christmas music and make that gift. Hope your next week is a relaxed one.