It's been very dark in my part of the world for the past couple of days, and it is a dark day again today. We have a thick layer of cloud cover blocking out the sun. One might think the sun never quite gets over the horizon...which it barely does when you live above the 45th parallel...but that's neither here nor there. We do get sunlight when there aren't so many clouds. It makes it hard to want to do much. Since I'm solar powered, I'm running a little low on batteries right now, and I want to spend a lot of time sleeping. Even Mr. Smithers has been hanging around inside most of the time, although I want to thank him for the tasty fat earth worm he brought in this morning. Thanks, Pal. (Not.)
"Oh, no problem, Mom. You're welcome. Any time...no really, ANY time. And could you turn out that light. Time for a little shut-eye after all that hard hunting work I did this morning. Really. It's burning my eyes. Yawn."
So before I go on, I have to tell you about the sweet little package that arrived in yesterday's mail from my friend, Marei. Marei and I were good friends in high school, and even earlier. Unless I miss my guess, I think we may have met sometime during the 14th Century. (You knew I'd say that, didn't you?) Anyway...Marei and I reconnected on Facebook during the past year, and Marei has sent me the most beautiful little quilts since then. Yesterday she sent this pretty Christmas table topper.
I just love the fabrics she's used...and can you ever go wrong with polka dots? Impossible, I'd say. Here's how it looks from the back.
I'm so accustomed to using contrasting fabrics for bindings, but I love the way this binding looks with the same fabric from the back and border. I'm going to have to try that on one of my quilts. Very pretty. And look at this cute little card she sent with it. She's used card stock and then a zigzag stitch to make a quilted card. So cute.
Marei told me that this is a Patchalot Pattern...a designer I'm unfamiliar with...but I Googled her this morning and found this link to the free pattern. Cool, huh? She has some other free patterns on her site as well. Be sure to click on the link for the "Little Quilties". I just love the "Button Bandits". That one might end up in my shopping cart.
Anyway...a very cute quilt and such a sweet gift. I sent Marei a little email this morning to thank her, and I told her that I still have a pretty red poinsettia left over from Christmas. The two look stunning together. Thank you, Marei. Oh yes, and lucky me! Marei is coming to visit me on April 3rd, and the two of us are counting the days until our first (of many, I hope) in-person-big-hugs-all-around-and-lots-of-laughing reunion. Marei has been quilting far longer than I, and she's been giving me tips about how to do the Forest Giant quilt without templates. This morning I got the bright idea to wait until her visit so that she can show me her ideas in person.
So that brings me to the rest of yesterday. I finally, finally, finally finished the top-stitching for the Cornflowers table runner. So glad to have that done. I don't ordinarily mind top-stitching, and I do a lot of applique quilts, but this one was a little tedious. It took me a long time.
I'm really liking this quilt. Mike has spent quite a bit of time touching and gazing at it too, which is kind of unusual for him. It won't be finished until I add some prairie points to the ends--a new technique for me--but I'm going to set it aside until later in the year now. I'll finish it up next time I work on it. It's intended to be on my table for Halloween, so there is truly no rush to get on with it. Now that the applique and top-stitching is done, I believe the rest will go pretty fast. The instructions for the prairie points are clear and easy to understand, so I'm not anticipating any problems with that. (Sounds a little like famous last words, doesn't it?)
It was nearing the end of the day by that time, and I was tired of sewing. I decided to go ahead and make up the next stitchery for the Quilting Snowladies. Of course, I added the little cat. Do you see it? I might end up calling this my "Where's Kitty?" quilt.
When I had that finished, I decided to pull the next fabrics for the next block of the Folk Art Cats quilt. And I'm just going to say right here and now that pulling fabrics from my stash just might be my favorite part of quilting. I'm not sure why, but it is always so exciting to me to be auditioning fabrics for my next sewing project.
Recall that there are two versions of this quilt...one fun, the other boring...at least, in my humble opinion. I'm doing the fun one, and my next block is the one in the upper right hand corner. (I really wish I could enlarge this image so that you can see it. The one I'm working from at home is so small, I'm using a magnifying glass to see the details, and even that doesn't work very well.)
So here's the boring version. In this version, the block is in the center of the top row, and there are quite a few differences.
For one thing, the fun version doesn't include these whirlygigs. I've been adding them all along because they are included with the rest of the applique templates. I didn't notice until the last block I made that they weren't supposed to be included with the version I'm making. Not that I'm opposed to doing it my own way, but it surprised me that I hadn't noticed it before. So, all of that to say that, this being Block 2 of the pattern rather than Block 3 of the actual quilt, the whirlygig wasn't included.
Instead, it included the triangle you see below the block in this next image.
When I looked at the pattern last night, it took me a while to figure out what the triangle was for. I'll add it in the right place. I was going to say that I would add it when I did the block below, but I can add it right now. I already made the sashing when I made the last block...the one on the right below.
The other difference is that the fun version doesn't include this ball of yarn like the boring version.
I kind of went back and forth about whether to add that, and I've decided that I'll leave it out. When you see the fabrics I've chosen, you'll see that it's busy enough without the ball of yarn. It's interesting to me that I was able to make five blocks for this quilt before noticing the many differences in the design. It makes me wonder why they made so many changes to it. It also makes it kind of fun because it gives me some latitude about how I want to make my own version. I like the whirlygigs, and I like all the little extra-block design elements, like the kitty jumping for the bird.
So I spent some time puzzling over the background for the block too. I didn't notice it at first, but the background is made from pieced-together rail fence blocks. Then there are some templates to add the "pickets" on the picket fence.
I was reading about how to piece together the background, when I remembered this fabric in my stash.
And it just so happens that the sewing lines for the templates match up perfectly with the size of the printed blocks on the fabric!
The sewing gods must have been smiling on me yesterday. I decided on these three solids for the pickets. The blue will be for the sky background, and the rust and green for the pickets. Just to add to the fun, only one of the pickets was done in green in the pattern picture. There is so much whimsy in this pattern, and that is what drew me to it in the first place.
As I was pulling fabrics, I was going to do the cat in yellows and golds, but then I worried that it might not show up on the background. I decided to do it in these two purples.
That batik is one from a pretty set that Erik and Mae gave me for my birthday last year. I'm just now getting around to using some of the fabrics from the set.
So that was where I left my sewing yesterday. As I was lying in bed last night, I started having second thoughts about using that background fabric. Now that I've written this post, I'm thinking the fabric will be fine, but I'm still mulling it over.
So today is a swimming day. So far, I'm two for two with my exercise four times a week plan. Today will be the third day. I feel ready to go, so I'm certain I'll follow through. Then, Sue and I walk tomorrow. I'm afraid we'll be walking in the rain.