Tag Archives: Small group

Stuck in the Mud? I Guess Not.

I’ve felt stuck, unable to move forward or back, not even really spinning my wheels as the wheels aren’t turning. My red and white Fire & Ice quilt has been my major endeavor so far this year, and it’s still not done. Because of that, it feels (feeeeeeeeeeeels) like I don’t have anything to show for my year.

Not true.

In fact, I’ve done a few things I’m pleased with. Kim’s Bright Garden is one of the highlights so far. The real highlight is she loves it, and Son loves that she loves it. 🙂

Kim’s Bright Garden. 71″ x 71″. Finished March 2017. Photo by Jim Ruebush.

Another finish, which I don’t think I’ve shared with you, is a mystery quilt I made with my small group. The instructions called for strip piecing, but I wanted to use scraps. To find out if that would work, I looked forward in the directions, ruining the mystery but likely improving the quilt. For this I used all the bright pink, orange, green, and purple scraps from my scrap drawer, along with yellow background fabric and a pretty piece for the border. I donated this for my guild’s quilt show (June 2 and 3) silent auction.

Mock Irish Chain mystery quilt. Approx. 50″ x 70″. Finished spring 2017. I’m not sure who took the photo to promote our quilt show.

Early in the year I decided to make a pink and brown quilt using the Delectable Mountains design. My original intention was to make it the “easy” way, using large half-square triangles to create the jagged blocks. Because those blocks are not square, the construction confused me a bit and I opted to make them the old-fashioned way. The method suited the old-fashioned colors, as did the heavy feathering I used to quilt it. I did post a photo of the finished top, but not after it was quilted.

Delectable Mountains. 61″ x 61″. Finished spring 2017. Photo by Jim Ruebush.

After making the pink and brown Delectable Mountains, I still wanted to create the design with the HST method. Googling images showed me how other people managed the problem of non-square blocks. Simply, they used small spacer blocks to adjust the sizing. Because my guild is having a special exhibit of red and white quilts, I decided to make the quilt again with the HST method. (Very long, not pretty story of why this quilt won’t be in the special exhibit. My nose is a bit out of joint, but it will heal, I suppose.) I don’t have a photo of the finished quilt yet (but it is done!), but here is the finished top. (And you can read more about it here if you wish.)

Hibiscus Mountain. Unfinished top. 73″ x 73″. Photo by Jim Ruebush.

In addition to these four finished quilts, I have three going that are not quite done. The biggest project by far is Fire & Ice, my other red and white quilt. (This one will be in the special exhibit, and even that is part of the long, not pretty story. UGH.) It is done with the exception of the binding and hanging sleeve. Today’s number one priority is to get those attached so the hand-finishing can commence.

Besides that, a niece has fallen in love with the muslin mock-up, which I created specifically to test quilting for the Fire & Ice project. It also is done except for binding. I’ll finish it and send it along to her.

Finally, I began a project with a paper-pieced spinning star. The top is done, the back is made, and the batting is cut. It’s loaded on the longarm frame now, and I hope to quilt it tomorrow and finish it before the end of the month. Here is the star center.

Along with all the quilting (it will be seven projects finished by mid-year,) I’ve put in a lot of time for other guild projects. I’m a little worn down by it all. My brother jokingly suggested that my next six quilts be constrained to red and white, to see how well I can work within the limitations. I told him that certainly is an idea, but “My next 6 quilts, whatever they are, will be with a joyful intention. That will be my constraint.” While all these quilts have been valuable to me for their lessons, it’s time to shift back to happiness in my quilting, as I found with Kim’s Bright Garden and Hibiscus Mountain. The joy is where the power is.

Busy But Quiet

Truth: the political campaign renders me downright inarticulate a lot of the time. Or perhaps more accurately, I articulate my frustration, disgust, and dismay quite well. But it doesn’t seem to leave me a lot of words for other things.

I’ve been busy with quilty things but not posting much. Right now I have Connected on the frame. It’s about halfway through being quilted, but we hit another tension glitch the other day. Two hours of unstitching was the trade-off for about ten minutes of quilting with bad tension. It’s a shame but it’s not fatal. As my friend Lisa says, no one died and no one went to jail, so it’s all okay. Progress was halted but will resume soon, perhaps tomorrow. I think Jim and I are both eager to finish this project and send it to the new owner.

Besides that, I’ve been working on a project that excites me, but it’s hard so sometimes slow. (Imagine saying “it’s hard” with the whiny, complainy voice of a 13-year-old. That’s the kind of hard it is.) It’s a medallion quilt centered with a large-print African fat quarter I bought a year ago. I’ve added and subtracted and moved borders from sides to top and bottom and improvised and cut carefully and … now I’m working on borders that need to wait until other decisions are made. And man, it’s hard! But it’s fun and keeps my brain working. For now, I’ll keep the progress to myself. As for its process, this is designing one step at a time, where the steps are dance steps, sometimes forward and sometimes backwards, in heels. 🙂

A third project is for my small group. I’m delighted that my group decided to do a round robin again this year. Our March meeting is Monday. We’ll pass the center blocks at that time. We agreed again this time to have no real rules, just guidelines. With that, the center block should finish between 9″ and 12″. Mine is a 12″ block.


I never know how colors will translate between real life and your screen. The background color is a celery green. The print points have blues and greens on a black background. The center orange strips are quite vivid, the color of a bright tangerine peel.

I’ve decided for this project, for all the rounds I add to my groupmates’ projects, I’ll try to work from my scrap drawer. When that fails me, the next option is pieces from stash smaller than a fat quarter, and then from larger if needed. Only as a last resort will I buy. Since we all have different tastes in fabrics, I know buying might happen. But my creativity is engaged most when I have constraints. This constraint will force me to look at my scraps a little differently.

How are you all doing these days? Feeling frustrated with current events, too? Making progress on projects? 



A Seed to Plant for Spring

The long cold winter drags on, making me long for Spring. This week we have temperatures below zero overnight again. But Spring will come, the sun warming the earth. Seedlings will sprout, at first nearly indistinguishable from each other. Then heat and rain and the earth itself will nourish the early growth, changing its form, until new and unique beings are revealed.

Monday my small group met for our monthly meeting. The agenda is simple. We enjoy each others’ company, and we share our projects with show and tell. But Monday we had another item: we began a new round robin for the new year.

We’ve been together as a group for about five years. Until last year we hadn’t done a project together. After a lot of discussion, we agreed to try a round robin. Each of the nine of us initiated a medallion quilt with a center block, and then the centers were passed to four others to add borders. We all stretched our design and technical skills. And I think I can speak for everyone in saying we were thrilled with the outcomes. My quilt is shown here.

Because of the success we experienced, we agreed to do another. This time, however, we’re making miniature quilts. When quilted and bound, each finished project will be no more than 18″ per side. To do so, we began by trading center blocks finishing at no more than 5″.

Besides the center blocks, we each passed some fabric. Those adding borders can use it or ignore it completely. They have free reign for their additions, with one simple restriction. Each border can be no more than 2″ wide. With three borders added, this will limit the size to 18″ or less, even with a fudge factor.

This is my center block:

A friendship star finishing at 4.5″. The color is more vibrant than shown here, and the green is a poison green.

And I’ll begin work by adding a border to Janet’s lovely applique heart:

Janet’s applique heart, finishing at about 5″.

Spring. Our seeds are planted, awaiting growth and change. I can’t wait to see what they become!