Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Collette Vacation Day 1

Hi.  I won this trip!  In 2018, during the Secret Santa week on Wheel of Fortune, I had been checking my spin ID.  But December 15, I forgot, until I got on my computer and saw a message from Susan,  an online friend from Quiltsy Team, the Etsy seller's team I've been a member of for years.  Susan sent a message asking if I had a Spin ID, and she saw Maryellen M on the winner's list for the day.  I checked my app and it said "You're a winner!"  and I about fainted.  I was shaking with excitement and whoohooing, but needed to keep it fairly quiet because I had just put my Mom to bed upstairs.  I didn't want to wake her.  So, I filled out the info and waited until the next day to see the Youtube video of the show.  Jim, the second place winner, had played for my Spin ID, so I won what he won, the same cash amount and the Canyon Country tour by Collette Travel.  I used the cash to purchase the Handi-quilter Amara, now known as Vanna, because it's from Wheel of Fortune, and needed to wait to take the trip. 

Mom has Alzheimer's and as her caregiver, I knew I couldn't take her, or leave her with my brother John, who is my main support in her care.  She needs help bathing and dressing, and would not let him, or Arlene, my sister-in-law, help.  They often did meals and daily activities, so I could get a break from the 24/7, but I needed to be there for morning and night.  So, luckily, Wheel of Fortune worked with me to extend the dates I could travel.  And when Mom fell and was hospitalized in September of 2019, and rehab turned into her new living arrangement, because she no longer remembers how to walk or stand, John and I discussed possible dates that I could take the trip, before having to decline it.  I had asked my son to join me on the trip, and he was excited, and arranged for the vacation days.  John and Arlene would be in New York to take care of issues with Mom, and to stay with Hazel, my dog.  Since they stay in my house during the visits, it would work for us all.  One of their grandsons was celebrating a birthday, so they were here to celebrate with him. 

I knew that 3 members of Quiltsy were also in the Phoenix area, and made tentative plans to meet with them, and decided to fly out a day early, on Thursday, March 12, to meet them.  This was my first flight in over 27 years, since Matt was a baby, but we were excited and looking forward to days in the sun, the sights, and meeting new friends.  Victory Travel made the arrangements for the first night's hotel (rates were very high because of Spring Training for baseball season). 

Excuse the no-makeup 5 am no sleep face, lol.  Start of the adventure, amid the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.  

We arrived in Phoenix, and I marveled at the palm trees amid the cactus, and these rock formations.  
Matt had rented a car for us.  After resting at the Howard Johnson's in Scottsdale, we went for a drive, amid the rain showers.  This was the most rain the area had seen in years, especially now, and that's when we also heard that Spring Training was cancelled.  
I loved seeing the Bougainvillea and some of the other flowers.  And of course, I needed to find a quilt shop.  I stopped at Sewing Nuts, and enjoyed the selection of fabric, but only purchased a Row by Row license plate from last year.  Nice shop! 

We took a drive to see a little more of the area, and found the Botanical Garden.  I had just gotten a Panasonic Lumix camera, and I wanted to test it out.  It has a built in lens, but focuses from an inch to forever.  I wanted to play before we were actually on the coach tour.  

The above photos were taken by my Motorola Z4 phone.  These are from the camera. 

Matt looked for restaurants for dinner, and found Cafe Forte, in the Art District.  The atmosphere, the gorgeous huge bougainvillea, (see the photo above) and the food was excellent.  

Unfortunately, my friends were not available to meet us on Thursday, and opted not to meet on Friday, because of the virus.  I understood, so Matt and I made our own plans.  Susan did agree to meet on Friday morning.  

Matt and I went back to the motel and got some rest.  Friday, we tried to get some more Clorox wipes, hand sanitizer and Lysol spray for the trip, but CVS was sold out.  We got some beverages and did some more exploring of the area.  Camelback Mountain was in view, and I wanted to get more photos.  We took some back roads, until Matt turned down a road that was a long cul-de-sac.  The houses were stunning, built on the side of Camelback, and the view from the top was amazing.  

In the midst of the flash flood warnings, and the clouds, we decided to drive a bit more.  I had more time before meeting Susan at the Bernina Connection.  
We found The Phoenician Resort and asked the gate keeper if we could drive around for photos of Camelback Mountain.  He gladly gave permission and pointed to the old house, where the view would be best.  I'm not sure we found that, but the fountain and the spot we did stop was wonderful.  

We met Susan at The Bernina Connection, where I also discovered that Jessica Caldwell, fellow Island Batik Ambassador and Designer, worked, but she was out sick that day.  Susan and I had fun looking and decided to also visit SAS fabrics, where I picked up some southwestern style fabrics for some projects for us.  We had a lovely lunch at Ranch House Grille, another great restaurant.  

After lunch Matt needed to return the car to the airport, so we went to our hotel for that night, the Scottsdale Marriott Courtyard, and got the introduction paperwork for the trip.  While I rested, he returned the car and got a Lyft back to the hotel.  We were to meet for information and dinner at 6 pm.  There was another rain shower, and I saw this from our room.   Many of the fellow travelers were thrilled to hear I had won the trip, and we enjoyed a great dinner at a local Mexican restaurant.  

Then it was bedtime, and getting ready for the tour!  
More next time.  


Monday, March 30, 2020

March Island Batik and Accuquilt Challenge

Thanks for stopping by!  The March Island Batik Ambassador Challenge was to use the BOB die that Accuquilt provided in our January boxes.  I got the Storm at Sea die. (In this logo, it's the top left blue one).  I've done a single Storm at Sea block, and was really excited about doing it with the GO! die.  

The first thing I did when planning this quilt was to look at the GO! Quilt app in the Accuquilt site.  There are a few free patterns for inspiration.  I then went to EQ8 and knew the block was available in the program.  The challenge suggested something larger than 45 by 60".  I do like to go as large as I can, in most projects.  Now that I have the Handi-quilter Amara long arm machine, I know I can easily quilt it, if I have time.  (This month has been crazy, so it's not quilted yet.)  In EQ8, I played with the design and color placement in the block after choosing the fat quarter bundle of Graphic Gems I got in my Ambassador box last year.  I figured I would do the 12" version, which requires a second and third pass with some of the shapes, for a total of 65 pieces in each block.  Yup, 65 pieces.  
After taking about 2 hours to cut and sew one block, I figured I was crazy!  But I LOVED the look of this quilt design.  
It's 16 of the same blocks in similar shades but different tjaps (chops) (although this is all the same fabric per block).  The secondary design created (star in the middle) by rotating the block was just so much fun!  

The cutting was fast, and so much faster and more accurate than using a rotary cutter, but I had other projects to make before my trip.  I won a trip on Wheel of Fortune's Secret Santa give away in 2018, and it was finally time to go!  I wanted to make a back pack (more on that later) and a cover for the neck pillow.  When would I get this done, if I was going to be away for 8 days?  (More on that, and photos will be in another post).

After my awesome trip with wonderful people, and gorgeous sights, in spite of not getting to stay in Las Vegas because of the Covid19 virus closure, I went back to work on this.  

I used the same Cheerio light green in all the blocks, and similar shades of the other colors, and was able to get 3 blocks out of each Fat Quarter.  I realized I would not have enough for 16 blocks.  Not enough fabric, or enough time.  And I couldn't do the dark purple border.  

Okay, on to plan B.  I could make 9 blocks, and set it on point.  But I would also need something for the corners, and setting triangles.  My initial plan thought I had enough green to do the setting blocks.  

Then I remembered I only had fat quarters, not 1/2 yard pieces.  I would need 2 18 1/4" squares.  And I would need 2 14" squares for the hourglass blocks.  On to plan C, which was looking at the fabric I had, and using some of the lights from the FQ bundle for the hourglass blocks, as well as the green gear design.  I used Sprinkles for the background of each block, as well as the setting and corner triangles.   

The first border was leftover from the Steam Engine collection.  I had green yardage that was a different tjap but a great color match, but not enough for a 6" border, which is what I wanted.  I decided to use the Storm at Sea die again, to make 4 corner blocks.  The center Square in a Square makes a 6" finished block, so I used F, G and H on the die for the corners.  Then I found another 1/2 yard of the green!  Yay!  Saved the day, and allowed me to make the border without excessive piecing (the other piece was only 3" short of what I needed).  So, Here's Plan D or is it E??  I have purple binding ready to go, after it's quilted.

I love the movement this block gets, by using the diamond sides and how setting it on point gives me the size top I needed (plus, it's now about 69" square) and allowed me to use the 9 blocks plus some of the other FQs, It just waves and is so much fun to look at.  
I plan to put it on Vanna the Long Arm soon, but have 2 more projects I need to get done before April 10, to ship for Fall Quilt Market.  Secret sewing!  So, this will have to wait, although I'll probably use a grey thread and the Gears panto I already own (which was used on the Steam Engine quilt, same tjaps, but different shades).  

So, it's a top!  I'm so happy to have gotten it this far.  With Covid19, and the trip and self-quarantining because of the wonderful trip, I think I did well.  I'll share photos when it's finally finished, so please check back.  I do hope you decide to try some of the Block on Board BOB dies!  They make the blocks so easy!  I used Aurifil 50wt Mako to piece it, and will use 40-3 for the quilting.  I plan to use Hobb's Heirloom batting, and maybe a minkee backing.  All piecing was with Schmetz needles.  Thread, batting, and needles, as well as the Accuquilt GO cutting machine and dies have been provided through the Island Batik Ambassador program.  

I'm also linking with Elm Street Quilt's One Monthly Goal. 
Please check out the other March projects!  
Thanks for visiting! 


Thursday, March 5, 2020

March One Monthly Goal

What are you planning this month?  My first plan is to finish the One Die Wonder project with Accuquilt GO! dies for the Island Batik Ambassador challenge.  I'm using Graphic Gems, a collection of teals and purples, to make the Storm at Sea block.  I've made 2 so far, and know it will take time to make the 16 I'm hoping to get done, to make this a top, and then quilt it before March 30th.  

I printed out the paper block from EQ8, and colored that, because this will be scrappy, but I want to get a certain look, so there are gradations in the fabrics.  There's also 65 pieces in each block.  The die makes this so much easier than other ways, but it's still block that takes time. 

But I'm going on vacation for 8 days.  I won this trip, so I'm thrilled I'm able to finally go on it.  I was a Secret Santa winner from Wheel of Fortune in 2018, and won cash, which is how I purchased Vanna, my Handiquilter Amara long arm, and this trip.  The TV player had my spin ID number, and my angel friends saw it and reminded me to check to see if I had won.  Yes, people do actually win and get the prizes.  My son and I are going to Arizona, the Grand Canyon, Bryce and Zion national park and Las Vegas.  So, I'll be gone, and on a bus, so can't take my machine to sew.  
And then I have 2 secret projects for the Island Batik catalog for October's Quilt Market, and they have to be done and mailed by mid April.  
For the trip, I would love to make new pajamas for me, and for Matt, and maybe a backpack.  In addition, I'm finally getting the floors refinished for the 2 bedrooms, and need to finish cleaning that one out asap.  And my brother, Sister-in-law, and her sister will be visiting for 2 weeks, so need to get the dining room and living room cleaned, which has become the storage area for Mom's stuff, until it can be moved maybe to the garage, which is also full.  It's NUTS! here.  

So, really, my goal is to breathe, do as much as I can each day, pack and go away, meet some Quiltsy team members who live in Arizona, have fun, and keep moving forward.  Although the photos will be proof, that's not really a visible goal.  I better get the laundry done, and a good pair of walking shoes.  Wish me luck!

What's your goal?  

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Island Batik Log Cabin Blog Hop and give-away

Island Batik Ambassador Log Cabin Blog hop!  
Welcome to my day to show you Primo, by Ebony Love, of Lovebug Studios.

Disclosure:  As an Island Batik Ambassador, we are provided with the fabrics, Hobb's Heirloom cotton batting, Schmetz Microtex needles, Accuquilt GO! Die cutting system, and Aurifil thread used in this project.  
Primo has a lovely selection of designs and colors.  It features shades of berry, teal, navy and purple, with touches of gold, coral and pink.  The designs are more geometric, with swirls, circles, stripes and triangles, along with bricks.  

I contemplated the design I would use for weeks before cutting the fabric.  I did decide to go with my favorite book author and designer, Eleanor Burns from Quilt in a Day.  I looked at a few variations, but figured this Primo collection should be a basic version.  It didn't "speak" to me to have stars or something else added.  I wanted the fabric to do the talking.  

I also considered using Sprinkles for part of the background, but didn't end up using it.  Primo wanted to be front and center!  The Star.  The Top Banana, or Prime.  Primo.  I used almost all the fabrics in the collection, with the exception of one gold and one of the berry colors, because I wanted the center block to stand out.

So I sorted the 1/2 yard pieces, with the additions of the 2 yard cream brick, and navy stripe, into light, medium and darker shades.  I saved the navy stripe for the border and binding, so it's not actually in the top.  I wanted to go big.  

So, I cut a variety of 2 1/2" strips from the fabrics using the Accuquilt GO! die we received as Ambassadors, and sub cut into the sizes needed for the blocks, following the Scrappy version.  I actually pieced 30, for the queen size in the book, but opted to only use 25 in this.  It's a queen size measuring about 88" square. I'll probably make place mats with the other blocks, after adding a little more fabric on each side. 

Here are some progress photos.  

Some of the pieces cut for the first few rounds.  

A pile of partly assembled blocks.  You can see the lights and mediums starting to form the 2 sides of the cabin, around the "berry" swirl center.  History on this classic block says the center is the heart of the home, and the logs represent the bright days and darker nights of life.  Good times and bad.  I opted to use the basic Fields and Furrows layout, with the scrappy look of using about 18 different fabrics. It worked best with the blocks, and I think it's effective to showcase the fabrics and colors.

Once I had the top finished, I loaded it on Vanna, my Handi-quilter Amara long arm.  I used a grey swirl wide backing fabric I have, and Hobb's Heirloom Cotton batting with scrim, in a queen size.  I'm happy that their batting runs a little wider than the package says, because this quilt is big!  I did load it more to the right side, since I still need to access the bobbin case, and not having fabric to fight while cleaning the lint and replacing bobbins is a good thing.

I programmed the Prostitcher with a Handi-Quilter design called Clam with Swirls.  I had watched a video on how to make the clam alternate, so the shell of one meets the center top of the next level.  I wanted something with swirls, because of the swirls in the fabric. This design gave a great texture, and wasn't too much to overpower the Log Cabin design and the fabrics.  I quilted it with Aurifil 40-2, 1246 Dark Grey made for Long Arms.  It's 3 ply, and super for the speed and number of stitches, and was a great color to blend into the whole top.  You can see it, but it's not starring.  I'm so happy I've figured out more about this machine, there were no thread breaks!  I used 7 bobbins 2600 Dove for the bobbins, since it matched the backing.   

 Since it was pouring rain when I needed to get photos, I put it on my guest bed.  I like how the teal paint pulled out the aqua and teal fabric pieces.  
You can see a little of the quilting texture here. 

The stripe on the binding is fun!  You can see a little more of the 40-3 thread in the quilting here, too.  

Since it was really rainy, I only got a few quick photos on the clothesline in my yard.  I was hoping to find some great scenic locations, but the weather Tuesday had other plans.  (Yes, yesterday, because I'm still working on things and cleaning up the house, so I can move up, and the contractor had a few days of work to finish, but it's coming along.  Slow progress, but still, progress.)  And getting it completely done for an actual finish for the blog hop was accomplished.  The quilt is now in the wash, because the yard was muddy.  

Anyway, I hope you look for Primo in your favorite LQS, or ask them to carry it.  Since this is all made with 2 1/2" strips, it's a perfect beginner quilt (which was actually my first quilt, back in 1990, when I first took a Quilt in a Day class.)  

So, since you've read this far, I'll be giving away some scraps from this collection.  I have a 1/2 yard piece of one of the golds, and smaller pieces of some of the others.  Just comment that you follow my blog via email or Bloglovin, and if you've ever made a Log Cabin quilt.  I'll ship free to US and Canada, but ask that international batik lovers only comment if they're willing to cover the additional difference in shipping.  Your Flat Rate envelope will be worth it!  Give-Away closes March 8th, 2020.  I'll pick a winner from the comments. 
Please also visit the other features this week.  And enter the Island Batik give away, below at the Rafflecopter link.  

Monday, February 24

Tuesday, February 25

Wednesday, February 26

Maryellen McAuliffe You're here! 

Thursday, February 27

Friday, February 28

Blog Hop Round Up Week at Island Batik's blog

Thanks so much for visiting!  I appreciate it, and hope you follow me on Instagram and Facebook!