Monday, December 29, 2014

Grand Illusion and Broncos Crossroads

Thank you, Bonnie, for an easy step #5 to your Grand Illusion mystery!  I quickly finished those four-patches and started trying to catch up with the remainder. I'm joining in her Linky Party today. 

I took inventory and discovered I have a lot more to go on this quilt.

Step #1 Broken Dishes 1 - have 40, need 60 more
Step #2 Double Diamonds - have 44 need 56 more 
Step #3 Checkerboard - have 50 need 70 more
Step #4A Broken Dishes 2 - have 23 need 17 more
Step #4B Broken Dishes 3 - have 5 need 35 more
Step #5 - Four Patches - DONE

Those double diamonds seem to be the set I feel I am really dragging on, even though my inventory shows I still have a lot more broken dishes sets to go. The piece is not that difficult either, but seems to be the most time-consuming.  With Celtic Solstice, it was both the chevrons and the birds-in-the-air pieces that were the last ones I finally finished.  (And they are DONE finally!!!)  What has been the most challenging piece for you?

Also.....Broncos Crossroads is finished!!! The binding and label were completed last night.  I intended this quilt to be a gift but I like it so much that I may just keep this one. It is also the fastest quilt I have ever done (three months).  I love all those blues. The quilting motif is swirls with an occasional star in a medium blue thread. It makes for great texture and touches all those tiny squares.  This is the first time all four corners of the binding came out perfect. Can't believe it took me so long to figure out the trick - pinning and no stitches at all beyond the 1/4 inch edge.

On a higher note, my hubby and I went flying on Saturday. The skies were clear blue and the windsock was completely limp. It felt fantastic to be back up in the air! I had been feeling down lately and after a little airtime, my mood was considerably lighter (I was feeling UP). It happens every time. Flying to me is being in that top triangle of Maslow's heirarchy of needs. Flying is my flow (look up Mihály Csíkszentmihályi).  After a nice burger at a nearby airport, we breezed back home. Aaah, it was a good day.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Grand Illusion progress report 4

Santa's quilting workshop has been busy! I haven't made quite as much progress as many others on this mystery quilt journey, but I AM making progress. I am linking up to Bonnie Hunter's website. Here's what my table looks like right now:

According to my calculations, our last step will be revealed this Friday. I am SO curious about all those broken dishes blocks, how they fit together and how more yellow will be incorporated into the design. The green checkerboard pieces must be the border, I think. Oooh, the suspense is killing me!

Wait a second, I just figured out that I haven't made any of the broken dishes #3 block. What I thought was #3 is actually #2 turned a different way.  Maybe I should pay more attention to the layout. At least I didn't make too many of them.

At the same time I am trying to finish last year's mystery Celtic Solstice. Only 11 more crystal blocks to go and I can start assembling my KING size version.

On a higher note, the weather outside is frightful and the fire [inside] is so delightful. I should have gone flying yesterday, but I decided to cook Runzas (meat-filled biscuits) and Penne ala Vodka. Yummy!  Hope you are enjoying good food with family and friends, too!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

2015 UFO List

My word for 2015 is PERSEVERANCE.

I will persevere in reducing my UFO list.  I finished five UFO's in 2014. That's a good start but I think I can beat that record. That means my goal is to finish at least SIX.

My goal in 2014 was to begin a blog.  In 2015, I will persevere in maintaining my blog. Specifically, I want to tackle HTML code to improve how I display picture groups in this blog, and host a linky-party. I also want to share more of the aviation world in my posts. It was a nice surprise how many readers have aviation interests, too. Bonnie Hunter at Quiltville Studio and Connie Kresin at Freemotion by the River inspired me in this goal.

My third goal in 2015 is I will persevere in improving my health with regular exercise and nutritional meals. I want to set an exercise goal (average 30 minutes a day) and incorporate more beans, fish and veggies in my meals. I asked Santa for a FitBit to help me achieve this goal. Andee at Modern Diary, inspired me in this goal.

Take a moment and set your own goals. Share them on your blog or comment on this post. Good luck!

Here is my 2015 UFO List.
Ready for Quilting

1. Red Cross (sewn in 2013;  inspiration Just a few more blocks to FMQ; already bound

  2. Halloweenie (Connecting Threads 2013 mystery; made bigger with leftover fabric) COMPLETED 11/2015

  3. Sweet Dreams (Quilters Club mystery sewn in 2011) - delivered to longarmer

  4. Cocoa Craze (Mocha Swirl pattern by Kim Brackett sewn in 2014)  COMPLETED

  5. Sly as a Fox (Quiltmaker pattern sewn in June 2014)

6. Country Kitchen Table Runner (Connecting Threads kit sewn late 2014)

7. My Heart (baby quilt began in 1987 for my daughter - intended to hand quilt)

Ready to Assemble

8. 1860s Revival (goose & goslings block with retro zigzag setting; started in 2013) 

Assembling Blocks and/or Borders 

9. Colorado Sunshine (Bonnie Hunter's Floribunda pattern, began in 2012) needs 9 more blocks plus borders

  10. Celtic Solstice - Extra blocks for king size version done!  (began in 2013) King Size assembled with borders; COMPLETED (ok just needs binding)

11. Grand Illusion in progress - changing the checkerboard sashing to a lighter green.

12. Blueberry Hill (Bonnie Hunter's Jamestown Landing) began in 2013. Just a few more blocks to go, then need to decide on striped border (piece or stripe fabric).

13. Pine Trees needs blocks and borders (circa 1990) - instructions are missing, so I will be winging it!

14. Batik Jewelbox needs blocks and borders (began late 2014)

15. Lady of the Lake needs blocks and borders (began in 2014)

16. Queen of Hearts - red/white quilt needs many more blocks (began in 2013)

17. Mother Earth needs borders (began in 2013) - Ready to be longarmed early 2016


18. 2012 Craftsy Sampler needs border fix (began in 2012)

  19. Beginnings - needs border fix (circa 1988)

20. Crabapple Trees is a medallion which needs a quilt to nestle in (began 2013). 

New Quilts began in 2015

21.  Rainbow Scrap Quilt 2015 (from

22. Botany Bay (aka College Quilt) - COMPLETED 8/2015

23. Hamburger Potholders - completed first set 9/2015; second set 11/2015

24. Star Potholders - completed 9/2015

25. Strawberry Fields in teal/red - ready to be delivered to longarmer

26. Orange Crush - began October 2015

27.  Lunch sack - completed 11/2015

28.  Cardinal potholder - completed 11/2015

29. Allietare - Bonnie Hunter's 2015 mystery

Wish List

- Smith Mountain Morning (Bonnie Hunter design) 
- Double Delight (Bonnie Hunter design)
- Kaffe Fassett 6” roll “Fire”; border with shades of teal
- Bright Christmas fabrics for Anita’s Arrowhead blocks
- Texas Tumbleweed (yet another Bonnie Hunter design)
- Moth in the Window (Bonnie Hunter block) in plaids and solids

- Prism by Zen Chic 
- Urban Amish

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Grand Illusion Part 3

My progress on Bonnie Hunter's mystery quilt Grand Illusion is slow but steady. It's not a race, I had to tell myself. Bonnie suggested that we make at least a few of each step and work on new steps as they are published. So that's what I am doing.  Those green square blocks are nice and quick. Bonnie definitely surprised us with this latest step. Many of the quilters in her last linky party arranged their parts into possible blocks that looked very interesting.  But now we have that 6.5 inch green/neutral block to fit in. Or maybe it's part of the border. Hmmm.... Anyway, here is the linkup:

By the way, I pressed the strip sets toward the greens, then pressed the long middle seam toward the black as Bonnie instructed. Pressing to the side helps the intersections to nest and I definitely need that extra bit of help to keep my seams aligned.

Today was the holiday party for my home airport pilots.I made pulled pork for the potluck dinner and it disappeared quickly. Then Santa arrived in a Cessna 172. My brother said Santa was supposed to be at a mall in Indiana today. I guess Santa made a quick trip to Pennsylvania to visit us, too!

Every year it seems to take me longer to get into the spirit of Christmas. Finally today I felt like decorating the tree and the rest of our house. I also made toffee, but am planning to give it away so I won't eat all that buttery, chocolately goodness.  I hope you are feeling the Christmas spirit, too!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Grand Illusion update part 2

Thank you, fellow quilters, for your tips and encouragement!  Tonight I started cutting pieces to compete step 2 of Bonnie Hunter's Grand Illusion Mystery Quilt.  I thought about the stitch-and-flip method and considered trying the method published by Kathleen at Rose Prairie Quilts. Then I checked my coral yardage. I'm not sure I have enough to risk, so I decided to go with Bonnie's No Waste method.

First strip of neutral .... I cut those slanted pieces and looked at them. Didn't look right. I think I cut them slanting the wrong way.

Second and third strip of neutral ... I cut those slanted pieces the other direction and laid out the coral and black triangles to check again. Oh, the long part goes across the rectangle.  That means I cut the slant wrong this time and my first strip was right.

Next few strips of neutral.  Got it right.  Now to sew a few and check how they look.

Eureka, it worked!  And when I sewed two rectangles together, the points matched!!!!

<Sigh> 94 more to go.

Hey, just for fun, you may want to check out a free block-of-the-month called Sew Sweet Simplicity by Jacquelynne Steves.  I need another project like a hole in my head, but it's calling to me!

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Grand Illusion Progress Report 1

Have you already been to any holiday parties yet?  We went to one Saturday evening at my home airport. I had promised to bring appetizers, so I spent most of Saturday morning cooking. Thanks to some internet searches, I whipped up a couple trays filled with goodies. And just for fun I made these adorable penguins. They were the hit of the party!

Quilting Update:  As soon as Bonnie Hunter announced her latest mystery Grand Illusion, I checked my stash and found most of the yardage needed. I decided to stick close to the colors but lean more toward coral rather than pink, and dip into deeper hues of green and turquoise/teal. I did some judicious shopping and bought a few fat quarters to fill out the yardage needed. My yellow is a mottled tone-on-tone called Honeysuckle. I like that!  I also decided to use one black polka dot print. Everything else will be scrappy, and that's enough for me.

Given the events mentioned in my last post, I haven't had much time to keep up with Bonnie's first two steps, only cutting some of the pieces. But I did some power sewing recently and am halfway through the first step -- with just one "oops" to fix. Can you feel these bright colors are banishing the 'blahs'?

I will be linking up to Bonnie's column on Monday. If you have started step 2, I'd love to hear your tips for the easiest method for cutting and sewing those half chevrons.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Thanksgiving Indeed

On Wednesday, while my hubby and I were out of town, my daughter was in a car wreck. A bad one. We're talking air bags deployed, ambulance, hospitals. She will be in the hospital for several days while the doctors watch her carefully due to a spleen injury and bad concussion. Thank goodness for air bags!!! She is alive but bruised and scraped up.  According to the police report, another vehicle blew through a stop sign right in front of her. Her four-month-old car is totally smashed up.  But we are very thankful our daughter will be okay.

Right after the hit, our daughter called us to say she had been in an accident. She was upset and nearly incoherent. Then our call was cut off. We tried calling back and there was no answer. Can you imagine how frantic we were? We called the friend she was staying with to alert her, but we didn't know where the accident occurred or how bad it was. Finally a policeman answered one of our repeated calls. She was in an ambulance headed to the hospital. Our friend stuck with our daughter through the whole emergency care, called us with updates, and spent the night with her. We are very thankful for our caring friend!

We immediately cut our trip short and drove 22 hours straight to get back home. We are very thankful the nor'easter that recently passed through had ended and the weather did not stop us in our journey.

Also, our nephew's son was born this morning. He's a healthy nine-pound-plus baby. Mother and baby are doing well.

Thanksgiving all around, indeed.

So, naturally, I'm not thinking about sewing or flying right now. I hope you all had a much less eventful Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Cocoa Craze

While working ferociously to finish Celtic Solstice before Bonnie's next mystery begins, I took some time to assemble the Mocha Swirl blocks into a top. Then last Saturday I went shopping at Quilt Ledger, a small quilt shop about 15 miles away in the little town of Christiana, Pennsylvania. Leslie, the friendly owner, pointed out some fabric on sale. Lo and behold I found a great border print for Mocha Swirl --Pushy Paisley from Hoffman Fabrics. Now Mocha Swirl is a flimsy and renamed "Cocoa Craze".

For those of you interested in trying this easy pattern (I highly recommend it!), buy "Scrap-Basket Surprises" by Kim Brackett.

I have made two quilts from this book and am contemplating a third - "Christmas Ribbons". Another quilter had used this pattern with pink scraps over a black background. It looked great and could be a thoughtful gift for someone who is struggling with breast cancer.

I may even whip up "Summer Breeze" as a baby quilt.  "Monkey Business" would be great in bright batiks. "Pinwheel" would be nice in a controlled color palette. Good job, Kim, on designing easy quilts that look more complicated than they are. Evidently we quilters like your designs because there are certainly a lot of images of finished quilts proudly posted on the web.

On a higher note, I got in some flying yesterday. It's a pretty autumn weekend with cool air to boost engine performance and clear skies which make the colorful trees sparkle in the sunshine. The picture below is Poconos fall foliage from This is what I see all around me right now!

Regarding the college search, my daughter did well on her last SAT and the acceptance letters are starting to arrive. Whew! She has not declared a major although is leaning toward pre-law. Hmmm, I'm not too sure about that, but it is her choice. If that's her passion, so be it.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

At the Crossroads

Taa-daa! Carolina Crossroads is a flimsy!  I finished adding the borders yesterday and prepped the backing. Now it's time to call Cindy Carrey of North Star Longarm Services to finish the quilt. The deep blue and bright orange combo is very striking. Maybe this quilt will bring some good luck to my favorite NFL team: the Denver Broncos. There are 50 blocks in this quilt so this it is fitting that this quilt is being completed before my 50th birthday.

I had a lot of fun digging through my blues to get a variety of shades and prints.

The outer border is a deep tone-on-tone blue stripe. Because of the stripe, I decided to miter the outer corner even though the inner borders were not mitered. This time I followed directions and the miters turned out great. The pictures are before ironing; they were flat after ironing...and a quick fix of a wobbly seam line.

Next up is a concerted effort to finish Celtic Solstice before Bonnie's new mystery quilt begins. As for Mystery 2014, I have all the fabrics selected. I am opting for deep, saturated coral, teal and green with golden yellow rather than pink, spring green and light turquoise. I just felt in the mood for richer colors.

Oh, and I finally finished the blocks for Mocha Swirl, too. Now I am searching for the perfect larger print for the outer border. I also put in some time on Blueberry Hill (Jamestown Landing) and Colorado Sunshine (Floribunda).

On a higher note, my hubby and I flew to Bloomsberg to check out yet another college town, sans daughter this time. We circled town a couple of times and talked to various people at the old, country airport. It was a nice flight, although a bit nerve racking to fly the low final approach over a river. This college seemed to be much smaller than my daughter wants, so it's not on our college tour schedule.
Shippensburg University

We visited Shippensberg University's Open House last weekend with our daughter. She seemed to enjoy this trip more than the last school we visited. It helped that a friend of hers was there (they swore to be roommates if they both went there) and she saw a former classmate there, too. I had also arranged with a friend of mine to meet up with his daughter's roommate. She hung out with us during the dorm tour and at lunch, giving us the personal perspective that you don't usually get on these generic open houses. That made a big difference, too. Another bonus is that there is an airport nearby, not exactly within walking distance but close enough. It's a great substitute for that three-hour drive.  Guess I need to make a red, white and blue quilt!

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Me and My Shadow

Table runners are fun to make. You can try a new block and make something useful rather than relegating it to the orphan pile. You can buy a kit and finish over a weekend. They are a great way to get your quilting "fix" with getting discouraged by yet another UFO.

This one I finished up today as a gift for my neighbor. It's a kit from Connecting Threads. One of our fellow bloggers mentioned she buys most of her fabric from CT then adds a kit to qualify for free shipping. Great idea!

The border fabric is a whimsical Halloween print with lots of costumed faces. Very cute! And the pattern was easy. The only difficult part was figuring out the "quilt as desired" step.

This finish was rather bittersweet for me. Yesterday we said goodbye to our beloved lab Jessie. She was only 8 years old and her health deteriorated rapidly. This was a sudden loss, but it wouldn't have been any easier any other way. I feel numb and empty. As a distraction from the aching grief in my heart, I decided to work on this table runner yesterday. Done. I have another table runner to get me through today and tomorrow. There is a shadow at my feet, watching me sew and waiting for her next pat on the head.

In memory of Jessie, my sweet, goofy, playful puppy dog. 
May you have plenty of squirrels and balls to chase and a soft blanket to cuddle with in heaven.