Category Archives: Easy Street

Ostrich Humor – Anyone?

ostrich

OSTRICH, n. A large bird to which (for its sins, doubtless) nature has denied that hinder toe…  The absence of a good working pair of wings is no defect, for, as has been ingeniously pointed out, the ostrich does not fly. — Ambrose Bierce

Occasionally, when meeting the world head-on sounded like a drag, I’ve been known to do a fair Struthio camelus imitation.  I’ve had my head in the sand a lot lately, but I’m still kicking, nonetheless, and no, I don’t have a nest of eggs that needs checking on.  I’m aware that the ostrich effect is a myth except when describing behavioral finance… but I still like the metaphor.

Lots of books, music, and movies have gone under my wheels since I last posted.  My binges have included, but not limited to, all 10 books in the Bernard Samson series by Len Deighton, and Neil Young and Crazy Horse have been my constant quilting companions, with side trips accompanied by the likes of Steve Winwood, Cream, and Joe Cocker.  Movies: too numerous to list here, but here’s a hint – puredee escapism.

Elmer Tipton OK F2 TornadoThe weather here in Tornado Alley has finally driven me back to the computer; we’ve had a couple of “holy cow that was kind of close!” tornadoes blow through – friends and neighbors sustained damage, but our little piece of paradise is, so far, intact.  And the rain… we went from exceptional drought and near-dead lakes to ground that’s reached its saturation point and flooding in the last 3-4 weeks.  Highways to anywhere have been closed and a nearby town is dealing with evacuation procedures.  We’re in moderate drought now, but I have it from a reliable source that as soon as the new statistics are tabulated we should be listed as merely abnormally dry… huzzah!

The most recent quilting check mark – which, incidentally, rhymes with aardvark, airpark, autarch, ballpark, blue shark, bookmark, chop mark, debark, demark and D-mark – that I’ve seen lately, is my scrappy red and black version of Barbara Brackman’s Threads of Memory project.  The finished top measures 72″x87″ or app. 182×220 cms.

threads of memory barbara brackman quiltI still need to get three blocks plus borders finished on my Fig Tree & Co. fabrics version of the same quilt.  Never fear, I will get there one of these days.

On another quilting note: I finished quilting and binding my Bonnie Hunter Easy Street quilt from 2012 (seriously, 2012).  I was somewhat eager to show it off here, but disaster managed to strike first.  The pre-washed mauve fabric that I’d used as backing fabric bled…. and bled and bled and bled.  I’ve used every commercial product I could think of, and it’s still bleeding.  All of my nice white background fabrics are an ugly pinkish-mauve, ditto the greens and the aquas that I used.  But there is a silver lining – the purples are still purple.  My last ditch alternative is going to be using an ammonia solution – cross your fingers please – otherwise it’ll be designated as dog bedding.

Speaking of dogs: we lost Boomer this spring, one of a pair of big yellow dogs that lived with us, but we’ve since acquired a pair of litter mates as company for Boomer’s brother Jack, who badly missed having a wing-man.

Tank & TillyHave been puzzling over so-called designer dogs since our new puppies are a Labrador/Rottweiler mix, and what to call them.  Labrador/Rottweiler is a mouthful, so I’ve been reading about hybrid dogs with names like Yorkipoo, Alusky, and Labradoodle to name just a few of the recognized crossbreeds.

Where do Tank and his sister Tilly land?  Officially, they’re Labrotties, but I think instead that I’ll follow the Labradoodle logic and call them Labradotties if asked.  The name rolls off the tongue easier and sounds like a lot more fun.  Besides, Labrottie, when said aloud, makes me think of some old and dignified Italian breed.  Too much responsibility to put on a pair of rough and tumble puppies.

It Followed Me Home… Can I Keep It?

December already… crazy.

midarmI’ve managed to fill my time somehow since my last post.  Mostly I’ve been playing with the new machine that I acquired on the final day of the Houston Quilt Festival.  Oh… did I not mention that a mid-arm sort of found its way to my house?  I’ve burned through masses of leftover muslin and batting since its arrival.  Some might call it practice, but really, it’s nothing but play time as far as I’m concerned.

machine quilting practiceHere’s To Whittling Down That Stack Of UFOs

I’ve been getting check marks on a couple of unfinished tops as well, but I’ve begun with baby steps.  The take-along project from the Houston trip is complete – although it only got taken out of the project bag for show and tell while stuffing my face with pizza one night.  I never got around to actually working on it until after my return.  The little “Giddap” donkey quilt finished at 18.5″ or 469.90 mm square.

Giddap: The Democratic Donkey Quilt Reproduction of a vintage quilt patternAnd the Itty Bitty Pinwheels quilt gets a ta-da, too.  This one finished at 10.5″ or 266.70 mm square.  You remember this one, maybe?  The one that very nearly drove me insane while I was working on it?  The one with the 1″ blocks?  Yeah, that one.

itty bitty primitive pinwheelsReds: Gotta Love ‘Em

And segment seven of Stitching Witches Quilt Along is sewn up.  After much consideration (aka: sitting and staring for hours when I probably should have been doing something else), I came to the conclusion that the green check fabric demanded just a little too much attention.  A “Do-Over” was declared.  The red is not nearly as exciting as the green, but the final version of the Corn & Beans block is more in keeping with the overall look of the mystery quilt so far.

Stitching Witches Quilt Along Corn and BeansStitching Witches Quilt Along Corn and Beans

How About A Whole Bunch Of Scrappy Fun?

Last, but not least: the day after Thanksgiving also signaled the start of Bonnie Hunter’s 2013 Mystery Quilt Along.  Bonnie’s 2012 Mystery Quilt, Easy Street, was so much fun, and turned out so well that I decided to join the party again this year.  It’s not a block a week, or a block a month, more of a… make 188 of these units this week.  Don’t know how or where these particular units will fit into the overall picture, but I know from experience that eventually, they will.

Celtic Solstice Bonnie Hunter Mystery 2013 The entire project is a little intense, but in a very, very good way.  Last year, we finished in 6-7 weeks.  I adore working on a schedule, I wish I could push myself to piece like that a little more often.

Another reason I’ve looked forward to Bonnie’s next mystery quilt is her scrappiness.  The last thing that I need to do at this time of the year is go out and buy more yardage.  Bonnie makes color suggestions but puts a lot of emphasis on using scraps, the more the merrier – and boy howdy, scraps I’ve got!

It’s not too late to join…

Easy Street Bonnie Hunter 2012I’m sitting here writing about the Bonnie Hunter 2013 Mystery, when all of a sudden, it hit me – I never posted one single photo of the Easy Street top from last year.  Here’s a sneak peak before it goes into the machine.

Block Twenty-Eight: Ocean Wave

Ocean Wave Barbara Brackman Grandmother's Choice Fight For Women's RightsThere isn’t a lot that I can say about this block.  Out of all of the blocks we’ve completed so far, I can easily say this one is my least favorite.  It was a super easy block to do, and maybe that has something to do with my apathy.

I may have to break down and rummage through old quilt books and patterns for a substitute, though I’d prefer not do that.  A little voice… er… my own particular form of logic suggests that there’s no way of knowing what Ms. B has in store for us in the next twenty-one weeks and I’d surely hate to duplicate a block.  I think I’ll leave it for now and try not to look at it much (so shut up little voice in my head, okay?).

I’ve finished the Easy Street top, and of course it was misting the day that I had the time to photograph it.  I will, however, get that done this week – pronto.  I’m so ready to get back to work on several other projects that are pending, but that’s not news.  What quilter doesn’t work on multiple projects simultaneously?

Since Easy Street is off the design wall, I put up the Grandmother’s Choice in its place.  Bad news: I’ve scotched the orange fabric, it just wasn’t cooperating as I’d planned.  I’m now in the process of re-working seven blocks that had orange in them.  Not a lot, true, but so many of them have Y-seams, it may take me a bit to wade through the stack.

But not this evening.  The sun is over the yardarm an hour earlier today (Spring Forward – yesss!), so I think, perhaps, that I’ll declare the cocktail hour officially open.

Block Twenty-Five: Carrie Nation

Carry Nation, 1910.

We’re just past the halfway mark in this quilt project; twenty-five down, twenty-four to go.

According to Barbara Brackman, this is a Kansas City Star pattern from 1940 celebrating Carrie Nation, who was known for her radical and militant actions against the use of alcohol.

Was Carrie Nation a genius working for the temperance movement, or simply a lionized psychopath?  Hard to say since we can’t get inside Carrie’s head, but looking at the photo at left, I’m leaning towards the latter.  If I met this woman in public, I’d probably be tempted to cross to the other side of the street to avoid her – she frightens me in a Stephen King kind of way, definitely not a person I’d want to bump into during an alcohol fueled free-for-all.  Maybe it’s the hatchet.

A super easy block this week, and the patches were small enough that I was able to use scraps that I scrounged from my itty-bitty pieces pile.  Scraps don’t leave much room for fussy cuts, but the way I see it, those little orts cost just as much per yard as the large piece of fabric did, so why not save ’em and use ’em.  Isn’t this part of the quilter’s ethos?  If not, it should be.

Carrie Nation Barbara Brackman Fight For Womens Rights Quilt Grandmother's Choice

The 4-patches remind me that I still have a nearly complete Easy Street top on the design board (as if I could forget).  Have I mentioned that there are one hundred and ninety-two 4-patches in Bonnie Hunter’s quilt?  Indeed there are.  I need to take one final look at block placement, then wrap that project up and move on, it’s time.

Speaking of moving on, color me out of here – my sewing machine is singing its siren song again.

Block Twenty-Two: Jack’s Delight

Jack's Delight Barbara Brackman Fight For Womens Rights Quilt Grandmother's ChoiceNo appliqué or curved piecing this week.  Back to basics with Saturday’s block, with the addition of half-square triangles just to keep things pointedly interesting.  Not nearly as many HSTs as the block called Old Maid’s Ramble from a couple of weeks ago, but there are a fair amount all the same.

Thinking about buzzwords and jargon this morning – the shorthand form of communication between two people who share the same field of interest.

HST, FQ, BOW, UFO, QAL, ripping or frogging… and there are many more.  A quilter can be just as guilty of using abbreviations and buzzwords as a rocket scientist.  Who doesn’t enjoy being able to get a point across quickly with the added attraction of cloaking the subject in mystery?

Still working my way through the Easy Street quilt.  I’ve finally begun joining blocks, but sadly, there won’t be a sneak peek this weekend.  Have I mentioned that at times I can be incredibly optimistic – a regular Pollyanna?  No, really.  It’s true.  I’m at the halfway point, so hang with me.  The wait won’t be very much longer.

There’s a fair breeze blowing this morning and the sun has decided to shine.  I may just whistle up the dogs and go clear tumbleweeds off the fence line.  (Hmm… perhaps I should have written those last two sentences as a couplet.)  Anyway, back on-topic.  We learned our lesson the first winter in Oklahoma, tumbleweeds will push a fence over if you let them pile up.  The breeze will carry them someplace else, although there’s a high probability that they’ll be back again once the winds shift.  At least the fences will be out of danger and our property will be a little more respectable looking for a while.

So what kind of odd jobs do you have piling up that you’d just as soon avoid, but can’t because we’re all supposed to be responsible adults?

Block Nineteen & Twenty: Old Maid’s Ramble and Memory Wreath

Oh, the holidays may be over, but here it is mid-January and every time I turn around, it’s somebody’s birthday.  The festivities don’t end on New Year’s Day around my house, but I still manage to squeeze in time to piece.  I’d lose my ever-lovin’ mind if I didn’t block out some time for quilt blocks.

Old Maid's Ramble Barbara Brackman Fight For Womens Rights Quilt Grandmother's ChoiceFirst one off the desktop for show-and-tell is Old Maid’s Ramble.  So many possibilities when playing with fabric placement and so much fun to piece.  I am not, however, fond of trying to press the many layers of fabric in a block this intricate.  Thick seams – phooey!

I’d also like to add that I was given a tripod for Christmas, a huge improvement over the stack of books and cigar boxes of varying, but extremely important widths that I used previously as a camera stand.  I think Santa was afraid to borrow a book out of the permanent stack for fear that I’d never be able to get my old ‘tripod’ exactly right again.

I used the new tripod for the very first time when I shot this block.  The initial thing that I learned (after the fact), is that it really helps to point the camera at the subject.  Funny how that works.  Shooting at less than spot-on straight will make thick seams appear even thicker than in the real world, and will make seams look offset – double phooey!  Can’t complain too much, I’m having a tremendous amount of fun playing with my new toy.

Memory Wreath Barbara Brackman Fight For Womens Rights Quilt Grandmother's ChoiceSecond offering today is Memory Wreath – large pieces, lots of room for fussy cutting, and few opportunities to screw up the shot when tripod time rolled around.

I have to make an admission here – I’ve been taking a break from the Grandmother’s Choice project with a mystery quilt by Bonnie Hunter called Easy Street.  I’ll also admit that about halfway through the project, my interest was cooling rapidly.  I was not in love with what I was seeing on my sewing table.

I’ve begun to assemble the blocks and I’m very excited by what I’m seeing on the design board.  This is definitely going to be a flash quilt.  The quilt is made up of two blocks, A & B.  Block A consists of seventy-seven pieces, Block B, only sixty-nine pieces.  Seriously flash.

Hopefully in the next few days – dang, that was my optimistic other personality speaking there – let’s say maybe next week, I’ll have the top complete and will be able to give you a pre-quilting sneak peek.  Actually, I can’t wait to see it myself.