Quilting · Quilts · sewing · Uncategorized

Missing our Easter Kitties

I’m happy with how my St. Patrick’s Day table runner is progressing. On Sunday I was able to spend a few hours sewing the letters in place. I was recently asked what “Sláinte” means. It translates to “health” in Irish. (Let me tell you something about the Irish language which I am discovering as I learn it. I’m fairly convinced that they just threw letters, making certain lots of them were vowels, on a page and called them words. Irish words would make excellent “vowel dumps” in a game of Scrabble. One of my favorite words is “comhghairdeas,” which is “congratulations. I truly have no idea why half the letters are in that word as they aren’t even heard when it’s spoken. Here are a few more delightful words to learn how to spell and pronounce: bhfuil, dteastaionn, dtriobloid.)

I began pinning the second clover down (not visible in the photo) then discovered I needed to make a bit more bias which meant changing out the thread and presser foot. Am I the only one who hates having to do this in the middle of a project? I was tempted to stop working for the day but forced myself to get the bias made so it would be ready when I next had time to sew.

I thought, as Easter is approaching and the decorating has begun, that I would share some of my earlier Easter projects.

First, in the bottom left photo, are our Easter baskets. My mother made the small one for me when I was a child. The other four were ones I made for my husband and our kids. This year I was finally able to put them back on top of the piano. They were there for many Easters until we had the piano completely refurbished inside and refinished. Several years ago we had all new innards put in the piano. Almost everything in there, with the exception of a few replacement strings, was from 1927. Once the piano was returned, we chose not to put the baskets on top at Easter as we had three cats at the time who liked to climb into them and we didn’t want them to scratch the surface. There was some sadness this year as I placed in the crochet eggs my mom and grandmother made which the cats liked to remove and leave around the house. (As children, my brother and I liked to throw them at each other.) A beat up pom-pom bunny brought back fond memories of our cat Buster, who loved to battle with that bunny and toss him on the floor. Buster died in 2017 at the age of 15. His brother Boo-Boo died in 2019 at nearly 17. (That was a rough year. Our daughter’s beloved guinea pigs, Beatrice and Mabel, also died.) In early 2020 we had to say good-bye to our cat Belle. She was 15. We have just one cat now, and she was never one to play in the baskets. Rosie is 16, and I’m convinced she has outlived all the other cats out of spite. (She’s truly a sweetheart. A mouthy, crotchety sweetheart.) We also have two dogs and two guinea pigs, but it would be amazing if they figured out a way to get into the Easter baskets!

The other two projects were cross-stiches I made. I have a snowman cross-stitch for Easter, Christmas, Fourth of July, and Halloween.

Quilting · Quilts · sewing · Uncategorized

A St. Patrick’s Day Project

Though I’m nearly finished with all the blocks needed for another scrap quilt, I had to put the scraps aside for a while. The urge to design something was strong, and St. Patrick’s Day is approaching. How is it possible that I claim Irish heritage and have no St. Patrick’s Day decorations? This was a problem too great to ignore!

Ideas came and were tossed aside until I settled on creating something similar to last year’s Valentine’s Day project.

I love the simplicity of black bias and celtic knotwork. It is a simplicity that belies exactly how much work is involved!

Step one: Making the bias.

This is not actually a difficult task (cut 1″ strips, sew wrong sides together with scant 1/4″ seam, trim seams, and use press bars to press flat) until you realize that the large spool of “black” thread you purchased is not actually black but rather a dark brown.

In the absence of black thread and unwilling to go to the store to purchase any until I absolutely needed to leave the house for something more important (like food), I moved on to the second step.

Step 2: Hunting for the perfect background fabric.

I had the perfect piece of fabric in mind. On a Shop Hop back when such things were allowed and “safe,” I purchased the most gorgeous green fabric from Quilter’s Clinic, a tiny shop in Fife Lake, Michigan. I wish I had purchased the same fabric in every color available. It starts off light on one side and gradually becomes darker on the other half. For this project I planned to use the darker half.

(Speaking of Shop Hops, can you believe that we once jammed into tiny shops, breathing all over the place maskless, and munched on snacks that had sat out all day while every single customer walked past? Those were the days!! We quilters probably have excellent immune systems.)

The hunt for the fabric commenced. I searched through the box of greens and blues. Nothing. Out came the reds and oranges. Then the blacks, browns, and batiks. Nope, not there.

At this point I was convinced I was losing my mind and had not actually purchased the fabric. I almost called my mother to see if she remembered me making the purchase, but I didn’t want to have a witness to my faulty memory just yet.

Finally, after probably 20 minutes of searching through EVERYTHING again, I located the fabric in a pile on my sewing table. Good news is I’m not losing my mind. Bad news is I wasted so much time!

Step 3: I began working on the design. This is the fun, frustrating, time-consuming part of the process. I hunted for Celtic knotwork designs on Pinterest and finally settled on one I liked. I printed it off, thankful it was just the size I wanted and only needed a little tweaking to make it just right. It’s not a perfect Celtic knot. This one will have a definite beginning and end. Also, the over/unders will probably not work out quite right. I haven’t really looked too closely at this other than to notice that the original artist did not pay much attention to that detail. (In case you didn’t know, when making Celtic knotwork designs there should be alternating over/unders where lines cross.) I’m okay with it not being exactly perfect. Who’s going to look that closely?

Step 4: My least favorite step is step four. This is the part where I cut the fabric to size and transfer the design to the fabric. There is so much room for error here! What if I cut the fabric the wrong size? What if I mess up the drawing? What if I don’t have it centered perfectly? Ugh! This part just really brings out the anxiety!

To tame the anxiety as I worked on transferring the design, I listed to the Dr. Death Season 2 podcast, because what better way is there to tame anxiety than listening to a story about a really bad doctor from your very own state?

Today I will finally get out to purchase some black thread as I have a ton of errands piling up which can’t be ignored any longer. Hopefully I’ll be able to get the bias finished this week and then move on to the fun part of stitching it to the background.