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Quilt blocks, that is.

For the past few weeks, I’ve been doing a lot of quilting. Or more specifically, I’ve been making a lot of quilt blocks. Like many people enamoured with a new hobby, I got very enthusiastic and threw myself into a number of projects. In this case, many of the projects were quilt block swaps. A block swap is when a group of people each make a number (usually 12) of identical blocks, send them in to a central co-ordinating person, and then get 11 different blocks made by other swappers and one of their own blocks back.

In my enthusiasm, I not only signed up for a “Blue & Yellow Block” swap on my favourite quilting message board, but decided to make 2 different sets of 12 blocks, so that I would get 24 blocks back, enough (with sashing and borders) for a full-sized quilt (or duvet cover). Part of what was driving my enthusiasm for this particular swap was that I already had a few blue & yellow fabrics, almost enough for two sets of blocks!

The first set went together well. I used a block pattern that we had recently done as a Block of the Month at my quilt guild:

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The blue-with-white-spirals-and-yellow-stars fabric was leftover from another project (though I fell so completely in love with it that I subsequently ordered two more yards of it for a future project), and the solid blue and solid yellow were some of the fabric used as table decoration at our wedding.

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First set done – all 12 block together look pretty cool!

Then I started on the second set of blocks and had a set-back: I had a much lighter (baby-boy) blue fabric in my stash that I wanted to use for the second set of blocks, so I bought some yellow-and-white checked gingham fabric to go with it. Only I didn’t check the bolt-end carefully enough and I accidentally ended up with fabric that must have been at least 70% polyester – ICK! Usually I’m pretty good at telling fiber content by feel, but this stuff fooled me. The problem was that it didn’t sew well at all – the seams went all puckery on me, the blocks didn’t come out to the right size, it was a disaster. This was back when t! was still working in town, and so I didn’t have the car very often. So going shopping for more fabric wasn’t really an option.

The lovely people on the quilting message board came to my rescue and sent me replacement fabric so that I could still do a second set of blocks!

blue_yellow_fabric

It took me a while to find a block pattern that I could adapt so that I could use all 5 fabrics in each block (most quilt blocks call for 2 or 3 colours, or 8 or more) – which I wanted to do in appreciation of everyone’s generosity. I came up with this one:

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It’s based on a block called “Antique Tile” which is actually meant to be done in 3 colours/fabrics rather than five, but I really like the way it turned out. It was a fairly fast block to do, as well, and I think the blocks look really good together without any sashing, so I’m going to keep it in mind in case I ever want to do a quick quilt:

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I also made a gift block for the lady running the swap, using some of the yellow fabric that’s in the above blocks, and some pretty blue batik fabric that I bought myself as a treat with the money I received for my essay in Out of the Broom Closet. It’s the same pattern as the “Antique Tile” blocks, but with only two colours this time:

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So that’s 25 blocks made.

Then there’s another online group I belong to, that does a group quilt 4 times per year. The way this one works is that someone sends out 25 squares of (the same) fabric to 25 participants. Everyone makes a block using the fabric they were sent, and any other fabric they want to use. The blocks are all sent back to the co-ordinator, and a name is pulled out of a hat to choose the winner of the 25 blocks. The winner is then responsible for buying and sending out the fabric for the next round. I’ve participated in this group three times so far, but haven’t won the blocks yet!

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This is the block I made. The red fabric was sent to us, and astute readers will see that the blue and yellow (it looks more loke off-white in this photo) is the same fabric from my previous set of blocks. I didn’t realise until I was photoshopping this picture down to size that I set four-patch in the bottom right corner wrong. Oh well, it’s in the mail already, there’s nothing I can do about it now!

So that’s 26 blocks made.

Then, there was a more traditional-style swap, again on the second online group. I probably shouldn’t have signed up for this one, and I mainly did because I already had all the fabric I would need for the blocks in my stash: green and yellow solids, again from our wedding decorations, cream-on-white leftover from the backing of Frank & Jess’ wedding quilt (which they have since told me is going to become a baby quilt!) and a purple floral fat quarter, which I bought when my local quilt shop was having a 10-fat-quarters-for-$5 sale.

For this swap, we’re all making “Victorian Tulip” blocks. They’re meant to look like this:

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This one was made by one of the ladies organising the swap.

I was doing really well. I had all my fabric cut, all my half-square-triangles made, the first two rows of squares sewn together, and then, even though I was very carefully following the pattern and instructions…

tulip_block

I put the last “leaf” triangle in the wrong way around. On all 12 blocks. So now I have to re-do the bottom row 12 times. I’m not looking forward to it, and so when this happened last week, I decided to take a break from quilting for a bit, and paint the bedroom instead. Which is coming along beautifully.

Once I’ve fixed these tulip blocks and sent them off (the deadline for which is October 1st), I have to make 17 more of these for yet another swap:

DJxmas_swap

This one swap I definitely should not have signed up for, but I got carried away in the organizer’s enthusiasm for the project and the swap. It’s a Dear Jane swap, in Christmas colours. I picked one of the easiest Jane blocks available, thank gods, so once I get myself organised to sit down and do it, it shouldn’t be too difficult.

I’ve also done 1/3 of the blocks for a quilt I’m making as a gift, but you don’t get to see pictures of that until after it’s been gifted.

And, because all this isn’t enough quilting, I’m also working on an English Paper-Piecing project, which is eventually going to be a case for my hoop drum:

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I love this project because it’s done entirely by hand, so I can take it with me to appointments, parties, etc. I can also do the basting (the red thread, which comes out once everything is assembled) in front of the TV.

Right – that’s all the quilting I am / have been working on for the past month or so. I promise to make quilting updates more frequently from now on, so that they’re shorter!

Oh, and today is this blog’s birthday. In the past year I have apparently made 86 posts and had almost 3000 unique visits to the blog. Happy Birthday, blog!

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Wildlife

The “Wildlife” sighting log (see the tab at the top of the page) has been updated to include a ruby-throated hummingbird and a muskrat.

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Wildlife log page

Yesterday I saw a wild turkey in the back yard, and a great blue heron flying across the road from Mike’s big pond, so I decided to add a Wildlife sighting log page to this blog. You can check it out by clicking the tab marked “Wildlife” at the top of this page.

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First Post

On August 30th, 2008, my husband, our two cats and I moved from our duplex in the middle of Montreal to a 6-acre homestead on Robinson’s Corners Road in North Stormont County, Ontario.

Calling it a “homestead” may be a little disingenuous right now. The house itself is a suburban three-bedroom bungalow that wouldn’t look at all out of place in the bits of suburbia that t! (that’s the husband) and I grew up in. Except that it has a well and septic rather than city water & sewage, you couldn’t tell from the inside of the house that it’s in the middle of nowhere. However, it was built by Nick (our next-door neighbor) for his sister 25 years ago. So it’s very, very well build and in excellent condition.

And we have 6 acres of fields between two treelines, with no neighbors to the east, and we’re mostly surrounded by Mike’s (that ‘s our across-the-street neighbor) 600-acre holding. Eventually we will have a big vegetable garden, a fruit orchard, chickens, field crops, and pigs. And Mike will sell us some more acreage if we decided we need it. For now I still have to transplant the asparagus that I brought from our garden in the city.

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