Whoever coined the phrase “baby steps” when referring to recovery or learning a new task clearly understood how difficult either can be. For almost 2 months now I have been taking baby steps on my road to recovery. I’ve been a good girl by not lifting anything heavier than my Enzo and I’ve been faithful with my stretching exercises. The most important lesson learned is to set time limits on activities that when performed over an extended period of time increases pain. It’s hard to imagine that sitting at my sewing machine and piecing table for 2 hours would create such pain and regret when sitting in a wooden rocking chair with lumbar support for hours does not. Leaning in and looking down onto my piecing table is unavoidable, okay maybe the leaning in part is.
I’ve stayed away from the quilt frame since stretching and twisting on my toes is what created this mess I am in. The backing and batting for the Wind Rose quilt has been loaded since Nov 11th with the top thrown over the frame. So every day when entering or exiting my office I see the quilt, it demands my attention all day, I stare at it like a chocohaulic (which I am) would a bowl full of chocolate knowing they cant have it. However this morning my will power went out the window, the top is now pin basted…applause! Baby steps… It still needs some smoothing and re-pinned but I am a lot further along then I was when I made it my one monthly goal for November. Threads still need to be picked and trimmed from the top but I am so happy I had to share a photo.
My friend Cherie (< <link to her site) who is a beginner paper piecer has been piecing my pattern For the love of geese. She has done an amazing job, I have enjoyed following her progress and I love her gray border geese. I cant wait to see what she does with the quilting.
My next quilt project is up in the air. I find inspiration all over the internet and daily life. My latest infatuation is long out of print books for their artwork and mosaic floors in the Sistine Chapel and Westminster Abbey. My husband tells me I will look at anything as he shakes his head and glances towards the computer monitor which pretty much sums things up. He understands the mosaics but not the old books. There really is no limit for me when searching for inspiration. With the vast amount of public domain books and artwork available that can be turned into quilts you are only limited by your ability and imagination. Prior to looking at photos of the before mentioned mosaics I always assumed flying geese were just quilt patterns and circling geese had been created by quilters, however this is not the case. The triangle in a rectangle that we quilters call flying geese pre-date the Cosmati Pavement in Westminster Abbey.
After a few days with very little pain I decided to retreat to my sewing room. The first day I worked on the North Star block for 45 minute, it went well and there was no increased pain. Yesterday I went in to finish the block and lost track of time, an hour and half later I had the final seam stitched and papers removed. I opened it up and the throbbing shock hit me. Remember the music in the shower scene in Psycho? That’s the throbbing shock I felt. Over the last couple of years I have made every mistake there is when paper piecing and chalked them all up to lessons learned the hard way. These are the lessons that stay with you and you never make the same mistake twice, yea right.
The most important lesson is, DO NOT remove the papers until the end or before checking your work, I know this and never do it prior to checking my work. I cant say never again. Perhaps it was my comfort with pp, the excitement of completing the block so I could share it with you all or maybe it was the sheer excitement of actually being back and removing the cobwebs and dust from my machine. Whatever the reason I know better yet I removed all center papers before checking, leaving only the outside papers on each template. The huge mistake I made though, after the final seam was stitched I removed every paper left before opening the block to inspect my work. Some of my issues could have been avoided had I just checked. My block was lopsided, I had sewn one of my pie shaped pieces on the wrong side and ended up with 2 corner blocks sewn together. No big deal right? Actually it was. Seams had to be ripped and re-sewn. Most paper pieced quilt blocks involve piecing tiny pieces that without papers would be almost impossible to accurately sew with traditional piecing. This block isn’t like the free God’s eye block I offer that can be easily completed by traditional piecing.
Once seams were ripped and pieced back together I began pressing and my center star did not line up. So I ripped that last seam again, realigned and stitched again. It was better but not right. At this point I am afraid to rip again because I don’t feel I will have a strong seam line if I do. How many times can you rip and re-sew the same sections together without weakening your seam? I’m disgusted with myself and decided to go ahead and press the block and hang it on the wall as a stark reminder of what not to do. While pressing I noticed a few other places that my pieces did not line up properly. Again, the papers had already been removed but even if they hadn’t too much would have needed taken apart to fix the problem. A problem that could have been eliminated had I simply checked each template before moving on, this is where my comfort of pp played a role in my demise on this block. My scrap practice block did not present any of these issues and why? Because I check my work, if all is good I move on. Sometimes you have to remove the paper bulk to confirm it’s as it should be. Take the spikes coming off the star extending to the outside blocks as an example. The spikes are long and narrow, with the added seams and paper its hard to judge if you lined things up properly without removing some of the bulk (papers). I still cannot believe I did not check all of these. Shame on me.
I can say I haven’t had a disaster like this since I first started paper piecing. A few of the spikes that look off are not actually off but instead from the variation in the fabric color and not a smooth press. Its also hanging from one of my quilt frames by a piece of fabric I tied to the bar to hang it. I haven’t figured out how to keep my camera from digitally stamping the date on photos, sorry I’m not real techy.
The moral to this story is… Whether you are new at or wanting to learn pp or even an experienced pp, NEVER EVER EVER REMOVE THE PAPER TEMPLATES UNTIL YOU HAVE CONFIRMED YOUR WORK IS ACCURATE!!!
Cabin fever has set in early this year. The piriformis muscle pressing on my sciatic nerve that’s been causing all of my pain from my butt to the arch in my foot is finally giving me some relief, recovery is slow. Rest assured I have sketched several new quilt ideas and hope to finish assembling my North Star block . It looks so pitiful and neglected laying on my piecing table. Enzo, my quilting companion is thankful for my down time. He is the ultimate velcro dog and hasn’t missed any opportunity to cuddle.
During the virtual cookie exchange I had mentioned Peanut Brittle and told a few commenters I would post the recipe.
The countdown is on, only 17 shopping and/or sewing days left.
Christmas time for me is “CANDY time”, I say this with some melody in my voice. Home made peanut brittle (oh so good) and home made caramel, both will create a party in your mouth. Once you have had fresh home made of these popular candies the mass production versions just will not satisfy. In fact after you’ve had home made when you see them in the stores for sale you will turn up your nose. Most people have fond memories of Christmas morning opening presents or Christmas’s spent with loved ones no longer with us, but my fondest childhood Christmas memory is making candy with my step mother. Who knew you could make peanut brittle, caramel and taffy? You know, all the good stuff. I still love making candy and enjoy her cookbooks today. For many years I have made several batches of peanut brittle at Christmas, placed it in pretty tins and gave as gifts to a boss, family and friends. My son always picks around the peanuts in the brittle, my husband picks the heavy peanut pieces leaving me a pretty balanced selection. The caramel, well its a very versatile candy. You can chunk it up and eat it as is but you can’t eat just 1 piece. You can make turtles or dip it in chocolate. Paint a candy tray with chocolate, add an almond and caramel and finish filling with chocolate (my favorite). If it’s chocolate, caramel and almonds…well it just doesn’t get better than that in my opinion. I think this is my favorite candy but rarely make it because I am the only one who eats it at home. It doesn’t keep as long either. If you can’t consume it in a week or 2 you may want to share it while its at its best. Unfortunately I wont be making either this year, I’ve irritated my sciatica while loading backing on my frame and cant stand the length of time required for making candy. So, I hope you all download and make this and think of me while you enjoy it. The caramel recipe is below, click on the recipe card to download.
Blogging is new to me, so this is the first year I have participated in the Virtual Cookie Exchange hosted by Just let me quilt. Thank you Carol for all your help and for hosting this. You will find links at the bottom of this post to all the bloggers sharing in the cookie exchange.
The photo below is only one pattern option. Read on for variation and pdf download.
For a couple of weeks I have been working on this star block to add to For The Love of Geese and decided I would share it with you all today. I had hoped I would have the block completed before today and normally I would have. Sitting for any length of time is very painful and after sitting at my desk for 9 hours daily I cant do so in the evenings, so there are no photos of my completed block. My test block only consisted of half of the 18″ block and was made with mismatched scraps. There are samples below of my block, I have everything pieced but have not completed joining of the templates. For this I am sorry.
Like the ol’ versatile caramel the 18″ star block offers a few choices. Flying geese or no, 4 patch blocks to create an Irish chain or no. You will need paper piecing knowledge since I have not included instructions for paper piecing and you should have experience with Y seams. Not to say a beginner could not finish this block. With a border this would make a really cool wall hanging, a pillow sham, or create an entire quilt with the Irish chain linking multiple blocks. With proper color placement and values you could easily create a 3d block as well. Struggle with colors? Clever Chameleon has a great write up on color values and on Tuesday’s adds a new Colour Inspiration pallet, I love these by the way.
This is a great block for scraps or fat quarters. Yardage estimates are not given. For my block I used left over 2- 1/2″ strips and scraps of muslin.
For adding the chain blocks you will need to piece them separately and do the math using your preferred seam allowance. If you are using 1/4″ seam allowance you will need to cut 24pcs 1- 1/4″ squares from your background fabric and 24pcs 1- 1/4″ squares from your colored fabric to make twelve 4 patch blocks. I have marked the templates for chain placement, you can paper piece the completed 4 patch blocks to the templates which is what I did.
Now for your options. Below the block on the left is with flying geese (lt blue), the block on the right is with the Irish chain (lt blue). You can choose the download to suite your needs. If you do not want the examples shown below you will want to download the file “North Star without flying geese”.
Spiked basket with flying geese, unassembled.
Star with chain blocks
If you would like a block without flying geese or 4 patch blocks you will want to download North_Star_without_flying_geese
If you would like a block with flying geese and/or chain you will want to download North_Star_with_flying_geese
Perhaps you want flying geese with no chain blocks, download the North Star with flying geese. In place of the chain patches just add a single patch of fabric.
If you want to add chain blocks but no flying geese you can download either file and refer to the color layout for placement. I’ll stop here before I make you more dizzy.
If you create something with the pattern and would like me to share it here please email a photo, include if you want your first/last name or web address shown. A link to my site is always appreciated as well.
Below is a list of bloggers who will be participating in this years Virtual Cookie Exchange. I’m anxious to see how others prepare for this event and what surprises are in store for the 3 days. This being my first time, I hope I can measure up but if not, I’ll know what is expected of me next year.
The paper pieced block that I will be sharing with you all is nearing completion, I should have it done by tomorrow. If you have been contemplating the pattern For the love of geese but it just isn’t large enough for you, come back on Dec 7th and have a look at the block I am adding to the pattern. Then stay tuned for the updated quilt.
While nursing myself for relief of sciatica pain I’ve kept busy working on a new quilt idea and blocks to add to For The Love of Geese quilt. Not every block looks balanced with this quilt full of flying geese but I think I have finally managed to come up with one, a paper pieced star block. On Dec 7th I will share the pattern as a free download during a Virtual Cookie Exchange. The Virtual Cookie Exchange will take place from Dec. 5th thru Dec. 7th. It’s being hosted by Just Let Me Quilt, head over and check out the other bloggers who are participating. Recipes for yummy stuff, holiday traditions, patterns, who knows what you will benefit from or learn by visiting the blogs on these days.
No sneak peeks at the star block that I will be sharing. Though I will tell you this: it will be a paper pieced pattern so brush up on you pp skills, there will be multiple layout options for the block. If you like flying geese there will be an option to add them to the block or not. If you like blocks with Irish Chains, there is an option for that or not. Instructions for piecing the Irish chain will not be included, you will need to do the math for the 4 patch blocks yourself. I’ve considered making this block larger for a medallion in a quilt but that really doesn’t serve my purpose right now so it will be an 18″ block. The block would make a great pillow sham, you could add a border and create a wall hanging, or if you like quilts with Irish Chains you could turn this block into an entire quilt with Irish Chains connecting all the blocks. If you are good with colors and values it would make a wonderful 3d quilt. That’s all for now, hope this leaves you pondering and you come back on Dec 7th for 2 recipes. A recipe for a star block and a recipe for one of my favorite Christmas candies.
Saturday while loading my backing onto the frame for the Wind Rose quilt I somehow irritated my sciatica nerve. Ironically 22 years ago Saturday I was in an automobile accident. The impact pushed my hip out of rotation and played havoc on the sciatica nerve. Fortunately since then I have only irritated it twice. Needless to say, I wont be quilting until the pain subsides. Thank you TP Rose, yes his name is etched in my memory and he is responsible for many of the aches I suffer today. If he has an ear drum left I’d be surprised, I cuss him frequently.
Saturday and Sunday both I played around with some ideas for my next quilt, what better way to spend the day? Because stars and geese go well together I sketched a few ideas. I also visited The Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library looking for inspiration. This is where I found the map that contained the wind rose from my last quilt. That search took me to Frank Lloyd Wright stained glass windows. Not that I want to make a stained glass quilt, although many would make gorgeous quilts, I was mainly looking for layout ideas. Note to me: revisit that idea at a later time. His Saguaro window caught my eye not because of the layout, but because it could easily be made into a quilt with little changes.
I wish I had more to share with you today , just know I have plenty of time to work on my next project and I will be sharing that soon enough.
Today I thought I would do something a little different since I have yet to finish my quilting on the Wind Rose quilt and have not started a new project. A couple of my sisters also quilt and I thought I’d share a quilt by one of them.
The Piasa Bird in history and our local folklore. As a child in Alton I remember wanting to take a ride up the Great River Road to see the Piasa Bird, that was our thing back then when life was much simpler. For years there was a beautiful painting of the Piasa on the limestone bluffs and I think it was an honor if you were an artist who was chosen to freshen the image. Today the image sits above a small rest stop in Alton, the image isn’t the same quality but still demands the attention of those who pass by. Its current location is the 3rd that I personally remember.
There are different accounts and legends surrounding the Piasa Bird. It is said to have had sharp talons and teeth, antlers like a deer, a long tail and a beard. Some in history do not note wings, others do. It was a man eater that terrorized local tribes. Chief Ouatoga of the Illini Indians was said to have gathered his warriors outside the cave of the Piasa Bird armed with poisoned arrows. When the Piasa flew out of the cave they showered it with their arrows and the Piasa’s remains lie in the depths of the Mississippi River.
Its story and image have been depicted in the book titled “Records of ancient races in the Mississippi Valley” by William McAdams. Explorers Lewis and Clark made note of the image painted on the limestone bluffs near Alton,Il when they explored the region between 1804-1806. Earlier, in 1673 Father Jacques Marquette noted the image during the Joliet expedition. Now the quilt.
She used applique and a technique called snippets to complete the top. I’ve not personally used snippets in quilting so I cannot give instructions or rate the technique. She’ll kill me for saying this, I invited her to write a post on the quilt and she said, “No, its too much like work”. LOL. This makes her sound lazy but truly she isn’t. She has been raising children since she was 4 years old and my mother brought me home from the hospital. She does have a full time job and cares for her grand children as well. I hope you enjoy the photos as much as I do. Thanks Melissa.Wikipedia on Piasa Bird
Now the top is finished it’s time to decide how to quilt it. It has been suggested that I send it away to a more experienced quilter for custom quilting. Of course that is an option however I think this will stay in house. If I pay for custom quilting I wont want to give it away and I could never recover my time and expense selling it. Neither have been considered at this point.
The background fabric is Quilters Choice muslin, the blue, red and green are Moda solids. The entire quilt was paper pieced and the best part, NO CURVED PIECING. The medallion, all geese and the maltese crosses were drawn on paper, graph paper. I love the way the first geese border surrounds the medallion.
Ignore the wrinkles. It was warm and humid yesterday morning when I carried it to the shed to take a photo. I had to hang it around my neck and the humidity took quick action on the cotton. Quilting suggestions welcome if you have any.