Monday, December 14, 2015

Unseeming Seams

I'm not talking about ripping out seams, although I've done plenty of that! In fact, this spring I put up a blog post about my first quilted table runner, which I had to totally undo. And last week I put a little poem on Facebook expressing my frustration over not being able to find my seam ripper, when I desperately needed it!

Ode to a Seam Ripper

Dear little seam ripper, where have you gone?
I’ve hunted, I’ve searched. I’ve been looking so long.
You are bright pink. You should stand out.
You should be easy to see laying about.
But no, you are missing, and can’t be found.
Not on the table, by the machine, under my foot, on the ground.
If I’m to find you I better stop typing this ditty.

It’s time to clean up and stop trying to be witty!

This post is about my big "AH HA"! for the week!  This is Week #3 of the Allietare mystery quilt. Bonnie posted her instructions and I began my task for the week... 


I learned something new! 
(I so love it when I learn something new... and useful!)

Thank you, Bonnie!

This week we were to make "four patches". We cut 2" strips of our neutral fabrics, and 2" strips of our gold fabrics and sewed the strips together. Then, we cut the sewn strips into 2" pieces, after first pressing the seams toward the gold side. 

Then (here is where I learned something new!) we sewed two of the pairs together, to make small checkerboards. (OK, so that wasn't exactly where my new learning came in!) Bonnie cautioned us (HERE is the new learning) that when we sew pairs together, the top seam must be pointing toward the needle. The reason being, that as the fabric gets pulled through the machine by the feed dogs, the two opposing seams will be pushed together so they are nested, and the end result will be perfectly aligned seams with no gaps! Now, I am really new at quilting, but I've sewn my share of pieces where I tried to nest the seams. More often than not I was successful, but there were times when I wasn't pleased with the end results. 

Here are four of my four-patch squares. The color is a little off, but I think you can see that all four fabrics join together very neatly. 

How wonderful to learn something so practical, and something I can use from here on out!

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Another Mystery

I find it interesting to see how the pieces of a puzzle come together....

The first piece of the puzzle was the plastic I had taped over the hole leading into the hay storage area of the barn. It had been shoved out of place.
"Darn...(well, the words were a bit stronger than that)!" Dreaming commented to no one (or at least she thought it was no one.) "The *#&*^%) pigeons have been trying to get in there to nest."

The second piece of this puzzle was the dead mouse. I have had a huge mouse problem in the barn, so seeing a mouse was no big deal. But, a dead one? Gypsy had it. She had shown renewed interest in peering intently into the hay and sticking her nose under the hay pallets. Had she somehow caught a mouse?
"Hmmm," Dreaming thought to herself, "a mouser dog. Ain't that something!"

The third piece of the puzzle were the tracks. After our first storm I saw muddy tracks in the snow. Sure, the tracks could have been bunny tracks. Lord knows, we are overrun with the little critters. But, I saw the prints from four distinct pads. Usually the prints from the bunny rear legs show their whole lower leg.
"Well," Dreaming thought, "maybe bunnies 'tip toe' through the mud and snow."

The pieces came together when Mr. Dreamy asked if I had seen our "new cat"! He saw the cat outside the barn. Just a quick glimpse, but enough to fit all the pieces of the puzzle together. We have a new barn cat!

I've named the cat Stormy, since we first actually saw him after one of our big snow storms. He is very elusive. We also call him the ghost cat. I've put food and water out for him, trying to encourage him to stick around. I've found bits of kill here and there. He is a good barn kitty! He is totally feral. We've seen him from a distance, but I've only seen him up close one time when I cut the baling twine on a bale of hay that he was hiding under. I only saw him for an instant as he took off in a flash!

It will be interesting to see if he ever gains trust in us.

Our one photo of Stormy, taken with a looonnngggg lens!
Proof positive!

Monday, December 7, 2015

On The Second Week of Allietare

I made it through week #2 of Bonnie Hunter's Allietare Mystery Quilt. I am really enjoying the process and the camaraderie to be found with other "Thread Warriors" as I've named them. There is an active FaceBook page called Quiltville's Open Studio. Quilters post pictures of their progress on this mystery quilt. They post pictures of completed quilts and "what's under the needle". They ask questions and answer questions. I have found the group to be so supportive and absolutely nonjudgmental. Here is a link to Bonnie's blog, Quiltville's Quips & Snips.

One part of the clue for this week required us to make 80 pieces that look like stretched out 'flying geese'.  Bonnie explained two different ways to make them, one using two special triangular rulers, the "Easy Angle" and the "Companion Angle".  The other method is sewing on the diagonals of two squares placed on either end of a rectangle. I chose to use the rulers.

For those of you who haven't quilted, The red triangles with gold triangular corners are flying geese. (This is not the mystery quilt. This is one block from a sampler quilt I finished last spring.)

Here are the 'stretched' out flying geese from the mystery quilt. All 80 of them!

Quite a few of my geese came out slightly misshapen. It shouldn't be a problem when I piece them in the quilt, as long as I measure each piece, and on the worst, draw seam lines. I think I worked a bit too quickly, and sewing on the bias can cause fabric to stretch, even on such small pieces. There were a lot of suggestions for avoiding this problem on the FaceBook page. Some folks suggested always pressing on flannel. The tooth of the flannel helps hold the cloth. We were reminded to 'press' - not twist with the iron. Some ladies mentioned spray starching the fabric before cutting and sewing. It was also mentioned that when one is sewing on the bias, the presser foot should be lifted, and put down at the point where you want to sew. You shouldn't let the pieces feed into the machine. All very interesting. All great pointers for the next time! I have already learned so much!

Bonnie suggested that the pieces might be headless geese! Many of the quilters in her group felt they really are little Santa's.

What do you think?!

To recap:
(sing along to the tune of the Twelve Days of Christmas)

Dear Bonnie gave to me,
Two hundred ninety-four HST's.

On the second week of the mystery quilt 
Dear Bonnie gave to me,
80 headless geese,
Two hundred ninety-four HST's!