Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013 in Review

I've gone back and forth on how to best summarize 65 projects - top 10 list, favorite of the month, oldest, newest - you get the picture! Looking back through my blog I noticed how often I wrote about projects being a favorite. And, when I look at these photo mosaics I still can't play favorites because each one tells a story. The collective sum of their stories is so overwhelming to me that I am finding it hard to write this post.

So I will step back to data instead of feelings. I finished 65 projects in 2013 - 57 UFOs and 8 new projects/WIPs. I set 2 ambitious goals at the start of the year: 1) to finish a UFO a week and 2) to learn to FMQ. In short, I nailed goal #1 because I learned that goal #2 wasn't the only way to finish pretty quilts! I will revisit this topic in January because I have a lot to say about it.

I decided to break down my projects into 3 categories: Donations, Keepers and Gifts. Donation Quilts were the biggest group with 36 quilts - 1 to Quilts of Valor, 1 to Heartstrings and 34 to Project Linus.

1. Primary D9P, 2. Bouncing Balls, 3. Scrappy Chevrons, 4. Cool Sparkles, 5. Batik Noodle Recipe 3, 6. Batik Noodle Recipe 2, 7. Batik Noodle Recipe 1, 8. Kitchen Sink Feed Sacks, 9. Bright Hopes, 10. Pandora's Box in Teal, 11. Scrappy Snowball, 12. Mod Art, 13. Easter Stacked Coins, 14. Charm Quilt #5, 15. Charm Quilt #4, 16. Charm Quilt #3, 17. Charm Quilt #2, 18. Charm Quilt #1, 19. Autumn String Set for Heartstrings, 20. Kitchen Sink Strings, 21. Come Sail Away, 22. Scrappy HSTs, 23. 9 Patch Novelty, 24. Bright Blue Strings, 25. Scrapped Up Animals, 26. Polka Dot Cats & Dogs, 27. "Cats in Dressy Hats", 28. "Cats on Skis", 29. Rainbow Sherbet - Hold the Lime!, 30. Boxed in Brights, 31. Purple 9 Patch on Lime, 32. Color Me Happy, 33. Ballerina Cats, 34. Animal Pairs, 35. Sports Kid, 36. Patriotic Squares

The next group are Keepers and there are 25 of them that have found their home here with me.

1. Christmas Fantasy, 2. Christmas Rail Fence, 3. "And Sew On" BoM, 4. Arkansas Crossroads, 5. Thimbleberries Jacob's Ladder, 6. Patriotic 9 Patch, 7. Pin It Blog Hop, 8. 9 Patch Swap, 9. Schnibbles "Gentle Art" in Bonnie & Camille's "Marmalade", 10. Schnibbles "Hat Trick", 11. Watercolor Spring, 12. Shabby Strings, 13. Pastel Tulips, 14. Patchwork Stockings, 15. Charming Stars, 16. Easter Egg Table Topper, 17. Garden Cats, 18. Log Cabin in the Pines, 19. Triple Zip Pouch, 20. Threadbias QAL - February Project, 21. I Heart Pink, 22. Leoni's Floral Stars, 23. Shabby Roses, 24. Shabby Heart, 25. Minnesota Ladyslipper

Last but not least - the Gifts. Choosing to focus on UFOs this year really limited my gift making. Our theme for the holidays this year was practical gifts... shall I say that I am ready for creative gifts in 2014!

1. Puppies for Rylan, 2. ABC Charm Quilt, 3. Scrappy Summertime, 4. Quilted Redwork Pillow

I also broke down the numbers by project size:

11 lap quilts
40 kids/baby quilts
9 table topper/wall quilts
5 other

As I have said often over the last 15 months... thank goodness I am not a king/queen size UFO maker!

I can't end this post without going back from data to feelings. It is truly hard to express how my Year of Finish has changed me. I have been a Serial Project Starter my entire life! To finally "crack my code" and prove to myself over and over that I CAN do this is so powerful. Looking at all of these beautiful projects that were stuffed in drawers, bins and closets for years makes me eager to dig in and finish more. Not because I feel like I SHOULD but because I WANT to - huge difference!

Maybe this is the sum of my UFO Journey - that the creative spark that begins a project can stay dormant for years but the full beauty isn't revealed until the last stitch of binding is sewed. I am finally a person who finishes quilts.

Monday, December 30, 2013

December in Review

After weighing the respective merits of sewing like crazy trying for another finish or two vs. closing out the month early and getting a head start on planning for the new year I've chosen the latter. Today I'll do my month in review post and tomorrow the year in review.

The best thing about December was having our stray kitten Elsa find us! Here is a cute pic of her figuring out that if she climbed on the presents under the tree she could peek at the counter where Tucker has been eating. Yes, my quilting productivity took a hit but I am LOVING having a cuddly lap kitty so much. Our recent cats have favored the men in the household... so I was overdue and am more than happy to indulge her.
I finished 4 UFOs in December:

1. Bouncing Balls, 2. Primary D9P, 3. Christmas Fantasy, 4. Christmas Rail Fence

And I brought another UFO to flimsy stage - Christmas Strings. Here is a new picture of it hanging over a closet in our walkout hallway which I've found makes an excellent staging area for the next top in the quilting queue. Those IKEA pant hangers are the best!
 My December goals ended up looking like this:

1-UFO#1 Christmas Fantasy-DONE!
2-UFO#2 Christmas Rail Fence-DONE!
3-UFO#3 Christmas Strings*
4-UFO#4 Bouncing Balls-DONE!
5-UFO#5 Primary D9P-DONE!
8-Finish 1 WIP
9- RSC13 Blocks
10-NewFO Project
*In Progress

I'll be posting in early January laying out my goals for the year, the quarter and the month. I'll also be moving my 2013 WIP projects to the UFO Collection and getting my tabs at the top of the blog ready for 2014. In one of the online groups I belong to unfinished WIPs become UFOs on January 1st and you start the new year WIP free. 

As a person who LOVES the start of a new year, month (or even a new week!) these are all fun tasks. A new year holds endless possibilities and new challenges... I am excited to turn the page!

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Hourglass Blocks & Stash

Warm 16 Patches is starting to take shape on my design wall. Last night I made up 8 hourglass blocks and had some fun email discussions after sharing a quick pic with a few of you who left early comments on yesterday's post. My next batch of 8 hourglass blocks are up on the wall now and I am really liking this.

I was a little worried that the hourglass blocks would overpower the 16 patches but I was totally wrong. In fact this project is moving quickly to the keeper pile because I am not only loving this layout but the color palette too!

While I was doing my online Christmas shopping a few weeks ago a couple of fat quarter bundles arrived to perk up my stash. The first bundle is "Ziggy" by Timeless Treasures and I am especially drawn to the variegated chevrons... aren't they fun?
Polka dots have become a stash staple for me and I didn't have any of these "Aspirin Dots" by Robert Kaufman. It's interesting how some of these read classic and the others read playful if that makes sense. The power of color is so intriguing.

I think my sew-jo is back!

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Scrappy Layout Decisions

I always have a hard time getting back into the quilting room after a break... so today I am trying to shift gears into sew mode. I've been doing a lot of reading, some organizing and reflecting on 2013 the last few days instead - I think it's time to start making some lists of all the things on my mind. The start of a cold is underway too which is making my head a bit fuzzy.

Since I'm not in a quilting mood and my design wall is bare I decided to start there. First up are these 16 patches which I put together in 2009 from 2.5" strips from an online swap of red, orange and yellow strips. Here is a closeup picture of these 8.5" blocks
and here they are on my design wall.
My original plan was to alternate them with hourglass blocks made from these 2 fabrics as in my quick sketch. My other thoughts are to just use the yellow print for the offsetting squares or a white solid. I will probably sew up a few hourglass blocks and see how I like them tonight.
Since I couldn't commit fully to a decision yet on Warm 16 Patches I decided to pull out my Crossroads blocks for RSC13. I am 3 blocks shy of 80 which will be made into 4 Project Linus quilts with a 4x5 block layout. Here is a peek at one top using pink, red, orange, yellow, purple and black & white blocks.
I love it! I have so enjoyed making these blocks all year and it's pretty exciting to start down the road of making them into quilts.

My mind is chock full of ideas for RSC14... too many really. I had the same problem last year and so I'm hopeful that as things wind down into January I'll settle into a plan or at least a short list of ideas.

I'm linking up to ScrapHappy Saturday@soscrappy.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Quilted Christmas Around our Home

I thought it would be fun to share some pictures of the quilted Christmas items that are decorating our home this holiday season. I am enjoying them so much!

Let's start in the family room with our Christmas stockings hanging from the mantel. I made one of these last December and finished the other 3 in March.
On our game/homework/puzzle table is my furry photobomber Elsa and a table topper UFO I call Star in the Pines that I finished in December 2012.
Moving upstairs to our dining room table - this UFO table runner Leoni's Floral Stars was finished in January.
On the dining room wall is Sew Many Santas which is another UFO I finished in December 2012.
We put our tree in the center of our main level so it can be seen from the living room, dining room and kitchen. It's also fun to decorate all sides and this year we left the lower branches unadorned for kitty reasons. Christmas in the Pines is underneath the tree which I made last December.
My most recent Christmas UFO finish is Christmas Fantasy which is sometimes found like this...
but mostly like this with Elsa enjoying someone's lap.
To get the patterns for any of these projects you can look at my Finished Quilts tabs. I am so looking forward to my Sewing for the Seasons theme in 2014 after writing this post... having more quilted items to decorate with throughout the year will be wonderful!

Monday, December 23, 2013

It's the Most Wonderful

Time of the Year!

And the busiest too of course...
unless you are the newest member of the household and the sweetest present under the tree. Our daughter took this picture last night of Elsa in her favorite place to sleep that isn't a lap.

Christmas Strings is now a flimsy and if it weren't bitterly cold out I'd drag someone outside to hold it up for me. As you can see by the light reflecting on it - the sun is shining brightly but it was -19 when we woke up this morning. So far it has been a VERY cold & snowy winter in Northern Minnesota.
 I just love looking at all of the Christmas fabrics in this quilt!
It's not going to be finished before Christmas - but hopefully shortly after so I can enjoy it for a little while at least.
Merry Christmas to all who celebrate this joyous season!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

WIP Wednesday:UFO Edition

As my Year of Finish winds down I'm hoping to move a few more UFOs to the DONE! column. First on my list is Christmas Strings for obvious reasons! 120 6.5" blocks are trimmed, sorted into 4 groups mixing up common fabrics and ready to layout. As you can see, I've experimented a bit with different layouts but have decided to use my favorite X layout once again. Can you spy Elsa? She continues to keep me company everywhere I am.
She LOVES to cuddle up in quilts. The other day Elsa and Tucker were doing a double Quilt Supervisor shift. They are acknowledging each other more - I'll call them casual friends for now.
I turned around a bit later to find her napping on a folded up quilt next to Mr. Juki. Tucker is all about fleece to cuddle up in... but Elsa goes for the nearest quilted item. Guess they won't be sleeping together until they can work that out!
I received 2 quilts back from Kathy at Stitch by Stitch last week and cannot wait to get these trimmed and apply the binding. It will be the perfect task to do over the holiday week while enjoying our family time.

Here is a peek at Kathy's beautiful work on Minnesota Hotdish...
and Four Patch & Friends. Aren't they gorgeous - so soft and feminine to add to the feel of these quilts. I'll wait until their finish posts to show you more!
What's Hot:
  • Christmas Strings - hoping for a Friday Finish
  • Binding Minnesota Hotdish
  • Binding Four Patch & Friends
  • Small projects I've been procrastinating on STILL 
  • Elsa time - she insists on lap time and who am I to say no?
I'm linking up to WIP Wednesday@Freshly Pieced.

Monday, December 16, 2013

NewFO Challenge in 2014

Barbara over at Cat Patches is starting another year of her NewFO Challenge. Last year I was a bench player for a few months due to not meeting my self imposed goals in the prior month but this year I am ready to join the A Team!
2014 NewFO Challenge
Yesterday I posted about my word for 2014 - Simplify - and my Sewing for the Seasons theme. As I started looking through my stash a few weeks back in giddy anticipation of "What to Make, What to Make?" I let my stash lead the way...
Two file boxes of Christmas/Winter fabrics! Some bought for projects that never got started and some just because. I also have several charm packs and one layer cake in new fabric lines to use (I did show a little restraint this year on seasonal buys!).

One file box of Fall/Halloween prints with some pre cuts on top.
My "Lincoln" Schnibble that never got started this year and a few patriotic prints.
Elsa showing me a few fabrics that I missed!
Easter stash - I have had these Debbie Mumm fat quarters for about 10 years. Time to cut into them don't you think?
Valentines Day - a large stash of prints
 and some precuts too.
I would really like to get these fabrics out of my stash closet during 2014. I think it's going to be fun to finally get to some of the "projects in mind" and go through my collection of books/patterns to get ideas for the rest. Here are a few patterns I've pulled for starters for my 1st theme of Winter/Valentine's Day for January sewing.

As for BoMs and QALs in 2014 I'm going to participate in RSC14, A Year of Schnibbles and the Pillow POP Sew Along over at Threadbias.
Plenty of fodder for NewFOs in 2014... I can hardly wait to get started!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Simplify in 2014

I am starting to get really excited about 2014 and am looking forward to wrapping up my Year of Finish. For the last 2 months I've been allowing myself to daydream about what I want to accomplish in 2014 (before that it was a bit on the downer side because it was too far away and I was deep in the UFO pile).
from http://orgjunkie.com/2011/08/52-weeks-31-what-does-simplify-mean-to-you-giveaway.html
One of the things I've learned during my return to quilting is that I work much better with a narrow range of focus. I can build momentum along a path and I don't feel distracted by the urge to step off the path in search of something else. The key is to pick the best path!
from http://leigh-covington.blogspot.com/2012/01/making-game-plan.html
After thinking over lots of fun ideas I've settled on Sewing for the Seasons as my quilting focus for 2014. I have a fondness for seasonal prints and have collected quite a few of them. Same thing with seasonal patterns and books. It's time to get them out of the stash closet and into use.
from http://purevisibility.com/author/dgreiling/
This also ties into the word I've chosen for 2014. Now that my UFO baggage is lighter I want to feel lighter in my rest of my world too. I want to do a top to bottom purge of my home and clear out the unused, unneeded and unloved stuff. This will be happening off blog for the most part but it holds true in my quilting life too. I'd rather decorate my home with my creativity a lot more and with my stuff a lot less!
from http://www.melindabunyard.com/2011/08/simplify/
So far I've come up with stash for Winter, Valentine's Day, Easter, Spring, Fourth of July, Fall, Halloween and Christmas. Some of them have a project in mind... others will be created as I go forward. I'm going to work in some gifts along the way too. Does anyone else want to join in?  I'm going to start with Winter and Valentine's Day in January!
from http://simplesojourns.com/2013/05/simplify.html
Of course there will still be UFOs to finish and other projects will be made in 2014. But as long as I don't wander too far off my path I think I'll be happy in the end.
from http://staceyarcher.wordpress.com/2011/09/12/simplify-6103/
I think it's going to be a very good year!

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Sew Mama Sew Winner!

Mr Random selected:
Who is:
To win this!
I enjoyed reading all of the comments and I managed to reply to about 50% of them before I just couldn't keep up. It got to be kind of funny when I would send a reply and get 2-3 new comments at the same time.

There were several common answers - blessed, busy, change, fast, grateful, new and thankful. I can relate to all of those as well as many of the others. Thanks to all 544 of you for taking the time to share a glimpse of your world with me.

And congratulations to Sam! Your package will be mailed on Monday.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Christmas UFO X2

Getting good pictures is so hard this time of year! I'm sad because I can't seem to capture the beauty of this quilt today, but I'm going to go ahead with the post and I'll try again for the money shot another day. The close up pictures are so much better. Too dark inside... too cold outside! After about 10 minutes my eyes were watering so bad I could barely see and of course my glasses were fogging over too. I see now the right edge is snow dusted a bit! Authentic Minnesota winter for you...

The pattern for this quilt is from the December 2003 issue of McCall's Quilting and it is called Christmas Fantasy. I remember getting the magazine in the mail and getting online immediately to start buying the fabrics I needed - Robyn Pandolph's Christmas Folk Art line - because I wanted the EXACT same quilt in the magazine! I was less than a year into my quilting journey at that time. I still find these fabrics to be breathtakingly beautiful.
When I pulled out all of my UFOs to take pictures for my UFO Page earlier in the year  I fell in love with these fabrics all over again and it was my dream to have it ready for this Christmas. So I am keeping the name Christmas Fantasy because (pinch me!) it is done. Merry Christmas to me!
Cindy at Tops to Treasures was so wonderful to work with on this quilt. She gave me two options to think about and I just could not be happier with the end result. Thank you again Cindy!
Moving back indoors for the back side of the quilt...
Cindy's work shows up better in this light even though the pretty fabrics don't. The rail fence blocks were from an online swap that I hosted on the HGTV Quilting Forum back in 2007. I had assembled them into a top and put it on a hanger. When I put the borders on Christmas Fantasy I started looking through my stash for some backing fabric with no luck at all.
But when I pulled out Christmas Rail Fence I thought hmm... and emailed Cindy to see what she thought. No problem she said. And amazingly it was about the same dimensions so I added the border and that's how you finish 2 UFOs in 1!

There are lots of fun Christmas novelty prints in these blocks which I have a bit of an obsession with. My Christmas stash could generate at least a dozen quilts (and I might be underestimating by a wide margin actually) so I'm excited to be able to flip the quilt over for a different look. Isn't the quilting gorgeous?

And I am linking up to the Mid-Month Check In and will be linking it up to A Lovely Year of Finishes at the end of the month because this is my finish for that Challenge. Done early for the 1st time EVER!