Framed

 

 

 

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Recently I was super excited to get my hands on the latest installation of the Ghastlies fabric from Alexander Henry.  Intown Quilters Fabric & Yarn is one of my favorite shops, and I was in a hot hurry to get up there and grab some before it was all gone!  I have managed to miss out on it in the past, but that was not going to be the case this time.

As you can see from the sampling above, the line is absolutely fabulous.  There are actually two color ways, but the difference is subtle, and I still liked to mix them.  One is kind of half the color intensity of the other, if that makes sense.  There is a perfectly chilling pastoral, a delightfully harrowing panel and a number of accomplices in the form of supporting fabrics.  I am just crazy over the moths and webs.

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But let’s be honest.  Sometimes fabric like this is hard to cut into.  What exactly to do with the panel?  The print rarely straightens up well to be able to cut an actual square, even though the panel is made of squares.  And, there’s no seam allowance between squares, so losing some of the print is bound to happen.  The pastoral print is fun and large, but where to begin?  How big to make the blocks?  What if I cut off someone’s head?

Well, no worries.  After all, these are the Ghastlies.

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I didn’t have a pattern, but Sarah at IQ and I were chatting and we came up with a bit of a scheme, and I headed home with fabric in hand to get to chopping.

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In my haste to start whacking away at the Ghastlies, I forgot to get a good plan about how to cut those panel squares.  I needed some for one size of square, and some for another, and it was getting difficult to get enough of the larger squares.  Then I realized that if I cut the panel in the middle along the print from selvage to selvage and worked out from there, I would have more to choose from for the larger blocks.

Once I had accumulated enough of the larger squares, I cut into the remnants of the panel for smaller squares- which left for lots of opportunity for selective chopping.

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Then I was ready for block assembly.  This thing was taking no time at all, and I was loving every macabre moment of it.

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The squares were all assembled, but something was awry, and it wasn’t just the lighting in my living room or lack of quality from a camera phone.  First, it was way tiny.  Second, well, the delight of drama was a bit lacking.

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So, back to IQ, and back to plotting.  I ended up using both color ways of the line, and put a little more thought into placing the darker fabrics to highlight a little more contrast.  After all, what good is a mystery without a bit of conflict?

But I still found that the pastoral blocks were blending into the background more than I wanted, so I decided to highlight just a few of them using a technique I learned several years ago and has come in handy a few times.

Sometimes I need just a thin line to define a space, or break up a design.  A very thin line.  Like a 1/4″ line.  But without adding any size to the original block.  Now, admittedly, I am not a perfect quilter, in any sense of the word, so the idea of cutting the desired area down by 1/2″ all the way around, then cutting a strip 3/4″ and attaching it with a perfect 1/4″ seam and keeping all and all straight and squared up is a bit daunting to me.  Maybe even terrifying.  Disturbing.  Unnerving.  (Better stop before I run out of adjectives.)

So, this is how I do it.  I leave the block the original size.  I cut a 1″ strip of the framing fabric.  I use a 1/2″ seam allowance to attach the framing fabric to either side of the block.  At this point I make a choice to either cut away the excess 1/4″ in the seam allowance, or leave it in for a little extra bulk in the frame.  I left it in this time, but Juan the Gammill Camel (my longarm machine) was not happy with me for doing it.  Then I attach the framing fabric to both the top and the bottom of the block, again using a 1/2″ seam allowance, and then either cutting away or leaving the excess.  It finishes nicely for me, and to me is easier than fiddling with a thin piece of fabric and a thin seam allowance.

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Having said all of that, when the gang at Intown Quilters and I got to talking about it and decided for a pattern’s sake to write it up a little differently.  So, if you pick up the kit or the pattern for A Ghastlie Parquet from IQ either in person or online, you’ll see a different way of doing it, but you’ll also know the secret of how it actually came about.

Once the top was done, and I swear it took just as long to write this blogpost as it did to make the top, it went straight into Juan’s arms.  Juan and I discussed our options a bit, but really, it was decided pretty quickly that we wanted webs.  But not just regular old standard webs.  We wanted cool webs.  And I found them at Urban Elementz.

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It quilted up quickly, and before I knew it the binding was on and voila- the Ghastlies were framed and on their way to the holding cell at Intown Quilters for your viewing pleasure.  Bwahahahahahahaha…

A Few of My Favorite Things

This year has been an interesting one for me.  Let’s just say that 2017 has presented me with lots of opportunities for growth.  Don’t get me wrong, I have a wonderful life, and I am very grateful for every aspect of it, both the chuckles and the challenges.  But I have found myself as this year is beginning to come to a close taking time for a lot of personal inventory.  Asking myself questions like, “What am I supposed to do now?”  And hearing myself say things like, “Well, that didn’t go the way I thought it would.”  Midlife crisis?  I dunno.  Maybe.  I think I thought I was too young for that, and that really that only happened to men, but of course neither of those statements are true.  We all have to reevaluate ourselves from time to time if we have any hope of making any real progress in life.

So, for the last week or so I have kind of put the breaks on a lot of things in my life.  Not permanently, but just long enough for me to slow down and think more clearly.  But just because I said, “Whoa, Nellie” on certain aspects of my life did not mean that the blows quit coming.  A client who will not forgive me.  Difficulty and hurt in a relationship in my family.  Watching someone I care about struggle, and knowing there is nothing I can do.  Making another really big, really embarrassing mistake.  And then there was the trip to Utah.

That I am not on.

When this trip was scheduled, I was anticipating having a very different list of things on my plate, and I knew that I really couldn’t take the time to go out west with my husband for a long weekend and camping and hunting trip with the family.  A few weeks ago it became obvious that things were changing and that I really did have time to go, but I also knew that plane tickets are pricy, and we really do plan those kinds of things pretty far in advance in order to keep our costs as low as possible.  It was just too late.

Dropping Jeff and a friend off at the airport was feeling a lot like salt being rubbed into the wound that has been 2017, but I am pretty much over that crap.  No, I was not happy about missing out on a chance to see kids, grandkids, in-laws, nieces and nephews.  No, I was not happy about missing out on clear, cool mountain air, campfire smells, dutch oven cooking and more stars than I used to think it was possible to see in one night.  But there are lots of things to love right here in my own backyard.  Lots of things things to counteract salt, and bind up a wound.

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Doughnut Dollies is my most favorite donut shop ever.  It is also 46 miles from my house.  Obviously, I can’t make a trip to Marietta, GA every day or even every week just for my beloved donuts, but I can once in awhile.  We live south of Atlanta, and south of the airport, so I began my trek north for the day.  I went straight to Doughnut Dollies from the airport, and I couldn’t have been happier about it.

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Like I said on Instagram, caramel goes pretty dang well with salt, and even better on a donut, so a salted caramel donut it was.  And an orange gingerbread one for the road.  I know the question begs to be asked, “Why is Doughnut Dollies the best?”  I love their hip, crafty and creative takes on my favorite pastry, and the shop itself is an absolute delight, but really the reason I love them so is the texture.  I love bread.  Soft, fluffy white bread.  These donuts are much more bread-like than most donuts, and I love that the donut itself doesn’t seem to be as sweet as others.  The sweet seems to be more in the add-ons, and I just really like the balance.  (This may also explain why I hate Krispy Kreme donuts, especially when they are hot.  It’s like just eating fried sugar.  Bleh.)  Plus, the peeps that work at Dollie’s are really nice, so that’s always a plus.

From Marietta, I decided to keep heading north.  This weekend is the Georgia Apple Festival in Ellijay, and Gold Rush Days in Dahlonega.  The weather is beautiful and finally starting to be a little bit cooler and drier, which around here is nothing but good news and puts a lot of people in a good mood and stirs up a desire to head to our version of the mountains.  A lot of people.  Knowing that this weekend is festival weekend up north, I also knew that it meant the apples are in, and it’s time to make applesauce, but I wanted to get up there before the crowds.  So, I plugged in Sybil and headed up the highway.

From the Atlanta area, I just take I-75 north to I-575, and stay on it until it ends and becomes GA-515.  The first apple places you come to in Ellijay are on the right, Panorama and Penland’s.  I have to be honest, I always stop here, but it’s not really usually to buy apples.  My husband’s favorite hot sauce comes from this place, and they don’t take phone orders and they don’t ship.  So I stock up on it, and a few other gift items for the holidays.  I did buy a peck of Arkansas Black, and of course, some apple cider donuts.  They are my second favorites behind Doughnut Dollies.  Every time I go there I am greeted by busloads of seniors headed to Ellijay for the day, and quite honestly, I think that is their biggest clientele.  I don’t have any opinions about Penland’s, as quite honestly I’ve never been there.  I just get what I come for at Panorama, and then move along.

I keep going north on GA-515, then turn right on GA-52.  This is where the majority of the apple markets and farms are located.  There are little bitty, no fuss places like Hudson’s Apple House, and there are larger markets complete with petting farms and hayrides like Hillcrest Orchards, and there are several in between.  It really just depends on what you are looking for.  When my kids were younger, we went to the bigger places more often because there is a bit of tourism and fun about it, but nowadays I really am just going for the apples. I realized on my drive up that it was the first time that I had ever made the drive without my family.  It made me a little sad, but then I gloried in the fact that I could do what I wanted without worrying about this or that, and I got over it quick.  Apparently that’s the name of the game.

I love Hudson’s Apple House.  It might be my favorite stop of all.  It is small, and located in what looks to be an old service station.  The family is lovely, and I always like to visit with them.  There’s no fuss.  Just apples.  And kindness.  I wanted a tart, hard apple, but not just a Granny Smith, so she offered for me to try a Pippin, which was delightful.  If my family and other close friends are reading this post, they are probably laughing at that pic of the partially eaten apple.  I hate biting into food like that because I feel like I get it all over my face and I’m sticky and dirty and need a shower.  But, she wanted me to try it before I bought it, so I did, and I loved it, but I was really glad I had wipes in the car.

My other favorite on Ga-52 is the B.J. Reece Apple House.  It is one of the bigger places, and is a little touristy, but seriously has a really great selection of apples.  I think you can also pick your own here, and they may have hayrides and things like that, but I don’t really pay any attention to it.  I’m just there for some serious apple shopping, a jug of peach cider, and maybe some produce.  I didn’t buy as much as I usually do this year, something I will explain in another post, but I did pick up some Braeburn apples, which I am looking forward to using.

If I had the kids with me, I would have continued on southeast on GA-52 and gone to Burt’s Farm.  I took the kids there many times when they were younger to pick out a pumpkin, or just to take photos with the rows and rows of pumpkins of every size and color.  When they were very small, it wasn’t as well known, and it was easy to park, and there weren’t a lot of crowds to contend with.  It is still gorgeous. and lots of fun, but it is also a popular destination for school field trips, and is often packed with people at this time of year.  I did debate about going over to Amicalola Falls just past Burt’s Farm to climb the stairs by the falls, just to see if I could do it and not feel like I was dying like I did the last time, but I opted for a different route. I still think I might go back up sometime this fall.  I feel those stairs challenging me.

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Instead, where GA-52 takes a sharp left to head towards Burt’s and the falls, I turned right onto GA-183 and followed Sybil’s directions back south and into Atlanta.  When I got to Intown Quilters I shared apple cider donut and apple joy with Sarah and the crew, and they shared fabric and fiber joy with me.  It lifts my spirits so much to be with creative friends and talk about our passions.  I love this shop, and it’s crew.  I never leave there empty handed or without inspiration, and yesterday was no exception.  We laughed and chatted, and even disagreed, and in the end I left with both my hands and my heart filled.  It was a good day.

Even though 2017 and I have been battling it out, I know that in the end I will prevail.  I’m totally watching fireworks on New Year’s Eve this year because while 2017 is going down in flames, I will live on.  This year may have beaten me up a bit, but I’ve lived long enough to know that bruises heal, even the ego type.  It is just a matter of time, and as my husband says, learning how to fall so maybe next time there are no bruises, or at least smaller ones that heal faster.

The Getaway Gang

The Green Apricot hosted two retreats in 2017.  One coincided with QuiltCon in Savannah, GA, and planning for it began two years ago.  The other was just simply a getaway to take a breather at the end of summer and beginning of fall.  This one was a little more last minute, and while based a great deal on the fun time we had at Tybee Island in February, it was intended to be more low-key and have better accommodations.

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The Fall 2017 edition of  #thegreenapricotgetaway was located at a resort in Crossville, TN called Fairfield Glade.  I think you could call it a mixed-use property, as it is part resort and part community.  There are people who live there full time, but there are also a number of condominiums, and amenities ranging from golf courses to walking trails, from horseback riding to swimming, from medical facilities to a spa.  It’s located just off of I-40 about an hour west of Knoxville, and while the property is huge, I was surprised that not many seem to know about it.  It is not explicitly a retirement community, but it is definitely retirement friendly.

So, a few months ago I reserved 6 condos and got to work planning.  I knew that the condos were not big enough for all of us to sew in, and I reserved the classroom in the community center for three days.  I ended up limiting the attendance to just 12, including myself, because I was concerned about having enough room for all of us to be comfortable sewing in the classroom.  Each person had a 6 foot table, and there was plenty of room for 3 cutting mats and 4 irons.  Perfect size, and no electrical problems!

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Not everyone knew each other before the retreat, but the beauty of a small group like this is the opportunity to chat on a more personal level with other people in our sewing community.  There was a wide range of personalities and ideologies, and it made for some fascinating conversations throughout the days and nights.
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Machine name tags helped with getting to know your sewing neighbor, but putting them on the handwheel certainly made them more entertaining.  If you don’t believe me, just try it sometime.  I had prepared and brought several games to play throughout the getaway, but in the end decided to keep things simple.  We had several gifts donated by Rana from Sewn Into the Fabric, some of which were part of daily treats, like this dang cute pumpkin pin cushion called Big Delores, and some were drawn for.

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One game we did play was to find the blue Peanut M&M.  Before heading to the retreat, I sorted 12 pounds of Peanut M&Ms by color, and hid a blue one in one of the jars.  The one to find it won the first prize of the week- a Seymore Bones kit from Rana!  Kris didn’t miss a beat and immediately dumped out his jar of M&Ms and found the blue one…

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That started the drawings that went on throughout the retreat.  Kris drew the name of the next winner, and then also drew what prize they got.  We had another Seymore Bones kit, three copies of “Simply Strings,” also by Rana, and several boxes of Wonder Clips by Clover.

I didn’t get pictures of every project that was made or worked on, but I got a few.  Here’s just a snippet of what some of us were working on…

During the planning process I found that I was less than excited about catering options, so I decided to cook for all of us.  Preparing food for 12 can seem daunting in some ways, but really, I come from/have a large family, so I am pretty accustomed to cooking for a crowd.  I don’t consider myself to be an especially impressive cook, or excessively healthy, but I feel like I do okay in the kitchen and I have learned a lot about improving my own nutrition over the last several months.  I checked with everyone for any special needs, then set a menu based on meals that I’ve made for my own family before.  Most of the shopping had to be done ahead of time, so my car was incredibly weighed down on the drive to Crossville!

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We ate at my condo because, well, I hate food near fabric!  Snacks are okay, but it really does bug me to sit in front of my machine with a plate of food.  The sewing room was just under a mile away from the condos, so most of us drove back and forth for lunch and dinner.  But the weather was PERFECT for a walk, as well.  I served the same way I do in my own home- countertop buffet style.  I also dislike a lot of garbage, so we used real plates and glasses and I washed cloth napkins between each meal.  I very much enjoyed cooking for everyone, and with a little preparation it wasn’t nearly as much work as it could have been!

Monday:  Lunch- Green Veggie Minestrone with salad bar; Dinner- Acorn squash with sausage, apples, and kale, roasted broccoli, and salad

Tuesday:  Lunch- Salad and sandwich bar; Dinner- Lemon rosemary chicken with brown rice, roasted asparagus, muffins and raw veggies

Wednesday:  Lunch- Sandwich and salad bar; Dinner- Pork roast and apples with roasted mixed veggies and raw veggies

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Several of us also took a minute or two to visit some of the local establishments, like Little Blessings Quilt Shop in Crossville, and Gina’s Bernina in Knoxville.  This fabulous yarn shop was just a few miles down the road from the resort, and I was glad to have the chance to stop in at the Yarn Patch.  It’s a lovely shop, to say the least, and I didn’t have to look to hard to find something to take home with me.  I was especially impressed with the person working there, who I assume is the owner.  She handled her customers beautifully- gently guiding them as needed, and letting them wander as desired.  It really was a pleasure to shop there, and I hope to support this shop again sometime in the future.

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And just like that, it was all over.  The weather was wonderful.  The accommodations were perfect- including the enormous mirrored bathtub/shower in every unit- haha!  But the best part was the company.

Until next time…

Brody’s Big Boy Quilt

Chevron is all the rage, and super cute for our grandson's new room!  This was quite the process- a little more complicated than one might have expected . . .

Chevron is all the rage, and super cute for our grandson’s new room! This was quite the process- a little more complicated than one might have expected . . .

Brody's mom  picked the fabrics- a fab collection of woven plaids, with a little pop, of course!

Brody’s mom picked the fabrics- a fab collection of woven plaids, with a little pop, of course!

Using plaids in a chevron pattern requires some planning.  Using the usual 1/2 square triangle method would have caused the straight lines in the plaid to go into all kinds of crazy directions and make it just about impossible to match up lines.  Normally I wouldn't mind that so much, I like things a little off, but it just wouldn't work in this project.  So, I used the pattern "Chevy Twists" by My Lazy Daisy, which uses strips to assemble the top.  Even using strips still meant a lot of thinking before cutting, as each strip had to be "fussy" cut along the weave lines to prevent crooked plaids.

Using plaids in a chevron pattern requires some planning. Using the usual 1/2 square triangle method would have caused the straight lines in the plaid to go into all kinds of crazy directions and make it just about impossible to match up lines. Normally I wouldn’t mind that so much, I like things a little off, but it just wouldn’t work in this project. So, I used the pattern “Chevy Twists” by My Lazy Daisy, which uses strips to assemble the top. Even using strips still meant a lot of thinking before cutting, as each strip had to be “fussy” cut along the weave of the fabric to prevent crooked plaids.

Strips were pieced into pairs, then cut into squares and set on point.  Sounds easy, huh?  Ummm, I was really grateful for a design wall because the pattern tessellates, and it is easy to get somebody out of whack.

Strips were pieced into pairs, then cut into squares and set on point. Sounds easy, huh? Ummm, I was really grateful for a design wall because the pattern tessellates, and it is easy to get somebody out of whack.

Someone turned on the ceiling fan.  Ugh.

Someone turned on the ceiling fan. Ugh.

Finally- all the rows are sewn together- now to the next challenge . . .

Finally- all the rows are sewn together- now to the next challenge . . .

I haven't pinned a quilt in a long time because I usually quilt on a long arm machine, but I still don't know how to do straight lines on a long arm, so this baby had to go under my domestic machine, which requires pinning.  The only place big enough to lay it out was on my living room floor!

I haven’t pinned a quilt in a long time because I usually quilt on a long arm machine, but I still don’t know how to do straight lines on a long arm, so this baby had to go under my domestic machine, which requires pinning. The only place big enough to lay it out was on my living room floor!

Using the strip method to make chevrons means cutting off the jagged edges after it has been pieced.  I don't like to square up my quilts until after they have been quilted, so I didn't trim up the top before pinning and quilting.  Hard part- recognizing how much will get wasted around the edges!

Using the strip method to make chevrons means cutting off the jagged edges after it has been pieced. I don’t like to square up my quilts until after they have been quilted, so I didn’t trim up the top before pinning and quilting. Hard part- recognizing how much will get wasted around the edges!

All pinned- and don't let it fool you, that took all afternoon!

All pinned- and don’t let it fool you, that took all afternoon!

Marking for quilting- I used blue painter's tape to mark the straight lines I wanted to quilt.

Marking for quilting- I used blue painter’s tape to mark the straight lines I wanted to quilt.

Getting this bad boy through my machine was some kind of miracle!  We chose minky for the backing, so the quilt was very heavy, as well as large and in charge!  My arms got a good work out, but it came together beautifully.

Getting this bad boy through my machine was some kind of miracle! We chose minky for the backing, so the quilt was very heavy, as well as large and in charge! My arms got a good work out, but it came together beautifully.

Very simple quilting, but not as easy as it looks!

Very simple quilting, but not as easy as it looks!

Squaring up!

Squaring up!

Even the binding had to be cut carefully to keep the houndstooth print straight!  Although a lot of my peers are machine binding most of their quilts these days, I still really love taking the time to hand finish my bindings.  It might be my favorite part!

Even the binding had to be cut carefully to keep the houndstooth print straight! Although a lot of my peers are machine binding most of their quilts these days, I still really love taking the time to hand finish my bindings. It might be my favorite part!

Here's my spot for hand sewing the binding- I believe this was when my Downton Abbey obsession began . . .

Here’s my spot for hand sewing the binding- I believe this was when my Downton Abbey obsession began . . .

Oh how I love all of the straight lines in this quilt!  Lots of careful planning to execute, but fabulous results!  (Don't ya love how the quilting looks in the minky?!? As heavy as it is to work with, it is so great to see the results, and who doesn't love some ultra softness on the back of their quilt?!?)

Oh how I love all of the straight lines in this quilt! Lots of careful planning to execute, but fabulous results! (Don’t ya love how the quilting looks in the minky?!? As heavy as it is to work with, it is so great to see the results, and who doesn’t love some ultra softness on the back of their quilt?!?)