Thursday, April 28, 2016

It's Best To Rip The Band-Aid Off Quickly

For those who have followed me for a while, you know I seem to be prone to accidents! Getting stung by bees, slicing my thumb with a utility knife, rotary cutter blade slices...the list of little incidents is endless!

One more 'share' of how my days have gone!  And please, don't feel sorry for me...I've always been a walking calamity of mishaps!  

I took some time to prep the yard of it's winter funk.  Flower beds weeded, bushed planted, bark mulch freshly laid.  Oh, bark dust you say?!  Sunday my husband and I went to the Home Depot.  Love me some Home Depot!  We bought 16 bags of mulch (twice actually). In an effort to help and stay out of the way, I leaned over the seat with the headrest in my boob area...pulling on the bags to make a nice stack.  At some point, my hand pulled, slipped and I crashed full force into the headrest.  Resulting in a scream of pain.  It appears I may have cracked a rib!  So there you have it.  Accident prone.  Anyone who has possibly cracked a rib knows the pain involved.  A sharp pain every time you breathe.  It ain't pretty!  I've been taking it easy, but it's so hard to do.  Even the simple movement of using a rotary cutter is painful!

Now I sound like a whiner and I'm a bit embarrassed about this mess I'm in!  I didn't have to 'fess up', but who doesn't like a good story?!  I'm a big suck it up and deal, don't complain...who needs a doctor kinda girl...I did just that by finishing two loads of bark mulch and not complaining or telling on myself until that night!  

After a couple days, it was time to get over it and Improv!  I was asked if I could make a wall hanging using a certain variety of colors.  Sure I can...with a general guide these are the colors that will be used.  These and any thing remotely close.  The plan is to have red as the standout color.  The grey will become the background letting the red shine!

As of this afternoon, I have this much done.  Not a lot, but it's a start.  I always forget how much I love Improv.  With a break now and again, it feels like coming home when I get to start something like this!

Occasionally it takes something akin to 'ripping the band-aid off' to get started with improv.  I need to cut, slice, stitch and press ...just to get started.  After that there is no holding back!   

In the end this wall hanging will be 35" x 40".  Still a lot to go, but I've started and that's half the battle!

Honestly, I wasn't sure how these colors would work together.  It wasn't until I pieced a few blocks that I realized they do and they will!

My carnage!  It isn't bad, and I love having a mess like this.  It makes it so much easier to create for me.

These pieces are the left over pieces from round one.  I'll pick it up again tomorrow and hopefully make more progress.  

My little thread catcher pixie basket isn't the best size for improv scraps!  I don't know about you, but when I see something like this...I know I've been busy!


Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Comment Email Notification Issue

Thank you everyone who has been patient and supportive with my computer issue the past week.  While the problem isn't fixed to perfection (or my way!), it is much better and I'm able to work around it so much easier. 

I thought I would share what I learned, what I know and how it was eventually fixed.  

The problem:  Not receiving email notification when a comment was left on my blog.  

With no prior issues, I was totally flabbergasted when all of the sudden I wasn't receiving notifications.  What I eventually discovered was the notifications were going straight to the trash in my gmail account.  What threw me off was the fact that I would receive other notifications from my gmail account for Pinterest and Etsy.  Naturally I assumed it had to be a blogger/google issue.  After contacting Blogger and Google, I waited and basically got nothing from either place. Crickets!

I continued to search, look, read and pull my hair out for several days.  This is what I eventually learned:

You should go check your gmail account every once in a while.  Make sure your settings haven't changed on their own!  My primary account was all I used.  I didn't feel there was a need to gmail check!  

If you are unsure what to do, this is what I did:

Go to your gmail account, click on the gear, scroll down to settings.  

Settings will get you to this screen.  From here I clicked on the 'Forwarding and POP/IMAP' tab. (my eyes glaze over at this point!)

The only way I was able to receive comment email on my primary account was: 

Forwarding:  Forward a copy of incoming mail to 'my primary account' and mark gmail's copy as read.


POP Download:  #2 When messages are accessed with POP mark gmail's copy as read.

I didn't touch any other areas, and for the record, after setting up this gmail account I have never changed any settings at all.  Nothing.  I don't know why all of the sudden things went south, but they did.

It still isn't an ideal solution.  I will have to go in my gmail inbox and delete messages often. Plus delete the trash.  But at least I'm getting notice that I received a comment!  Whew!!  I'll take that!  

I don't know if it made a difference or not, but I did disconnect from Google+ as well.  I don't think that was a big deal and frankly, I don't even know what it's all about!

Thanks your for your patience!  If anyone is having issues like what I had, hopefully this will solve your problem!  Sometimes you plain and simple do not know where to start!

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Replenishing My Stash ~ Hand Dyed Fabrics

It's been quite a week!  I've been cleaning my deck which involves brute force, I've scraped the moss off the back yard hoping to plant grass seed and make it a yard again, I've prepped the front flower bed for new shrubs, I've had and still have Blogger issues and...I got to hand dye some fabric!

I've used up just about all my dyed scraps in various projects, so it really was time to get the rainbow shining bright again in my stash!

The first go around I somehow neglected to include purple and more orange.  You cannot have a rainbow without those color, now can you?

For about a year now, I have been making Shibori squares from scrap fabric.  Those will be for a future project once my stack grows a little bigger. 

Warm, bold and bright.  

Cool, calm and collected.

Isn't this a trippy photo?!  I haven't a clue how it happened (I used my phone camera), but I rather liked it!  

This is what it really looked like:

Just a boring pot of dye and fabric.  Not nearly as interesting as the previous picture, don't you agree?!

Now I just need to figure out what I'll do with these!  I'm not opposed to looking at them while I make my mind up!


Friday, April 22, 2016

Scrappy ... and a Test.

I am not computer savvy.  I loathe having to figure out issues.  It makes me want to cry! 

Blogger has been very, very good to me since I started my blog.  I've had an easy time of figuring out 'things' I need to know.  However, as of two days ago there has been a problem. With every comment I receive on my blog I get an email notification.  Or I did.  Now I'm getting nothing.  As one who likes to respond to comments, this has caused me one very large headache.  SO.  I will apologize now for not responding in a timely manner.  I appreciate every single comment. The fact that you would take the time to view my blog and then leave a comment means the world to me.       

This is the test part.  While I've tried everything and contacted support on this issue, I thought maybe that one blog post was a fluke.  Maybe I should try another post.  With my fingers crossed and not much hope...I'll give it a try.

After I finished my Phantom Triangle quilt, I still had a good stack of scrap blocks that needed a new life.  Instead of getting my 'creative' mind on, I got my 'simple' mind on!  

28" x 40 1/2"
I grabbed those 2 1/4" hand dyed and shot cotton squares and thought...Granny squares...sort of!  In order to make enough blocks, I also grabbed my grey scraps.  You can tell from the picture there are at least three different grey's, it's actually four.  

I had enough blocks for six squares, if I were to add some sashing.  Which you can see I did!  The blue is Moda Pool.  I bought it for another quilt and decided to use the rest for this quilt.  When I say the rest, I mean I just had enough for the sashing with no left overs!

It still wasn't a usable size at that point, so a border was in order!  The border is Kona Steel, as is the backing.

Keeping with the simple theme, I quilted each square in 1/2" straight lines.  Randomly, of course, as well as the sashing and border.  The binding was all scraps!  I love using scraps! And having the majority of the binding from scraps of bindings is as good as it gets!

I know this is a far cry from my recent Phantom Quilt!  There is something sweet and simple about these kind of quilts.  

I'm praying blogger is working again, I'll receive email notifications and can comment in a normal way to your comments.  I hate being frustrated, especially by a darn computer! 

Has anyone had this problem before?  And if so, how did you get it fixed?  


Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Phantom Triangle Quilt

This was one of those quilts where it was just fun to make!  I needed to use some scraps that I had cut in various sizes (3" and 4"), they were bugging me...sitting all stacked neatly, but never being used.  Instead of my usual half square triangles, I thought go organic!

28 1/2" x 38 1/2"
I started with 3 1/2" grey squares.  The colored squares I would cut in half for the most part and eyeball where I wanted them to go.  I intended it to be 'rough', perfection wasn't in my mind at all. After I used the largest color squares, I grabbed the small ones hoping to make the triangles graduate in size from the bottom.  Larger...smaller.  After sewing the colors, I trimmed and squared the squares to 3 1/4".

You may notice that there are two different grey tones.  Totally intentional.  The grey with the triangles is Kona Ash and the opposite side is Kona Shadow.  

I thought about using the same square blocks (3 1/4") for the opposite side in Kona Shadow, but decided it would be much easier and faster to make strips.

The back never ceases to amaze me on a quilt top!  Do you ever get mesmerized by that?

Once the top was pieced, I knew right away that I would free motion quilt it.  First of all it was small, so I knew I could handle it.  When the idea of making phantom triangles came to me, I was both excited and scared to death!  It could go very wrong!

I started by marking random phantom triangles and began the long and rewarding (really) process of FMQ.  I had pebbles and colors in mind!  

I ended up using 25 colors throughout the quilting process.  That meant a lot of thread changes!  Yes, I didn't make perfect pebbles, but I sure had fun trying!  

Because I used the colors for one side, the other side with the triangles (the real triangles, not the phantom ones), I went with just grey thread.  This part went much quicker because there were no color changes!  Boy, what was I thinking?  And why so dense?!

Maybe it was meant to be?!  Because I love it!  I told my husband before I started quilting that I was going big!  And I'm so happy I did!

I'll tell ya, after all the bobbin and thread changes, I was so over it!  Changing colors is just 
not fun.  

But it was so worth it!  When I decided to stay with a neutral grey for the opposite side, everything went faster.  By the time I was done my shoulders were telling me I over did it!  I couldn't stop once I started.  I had to finish it all!!

What would I do differently if I were to make another one?  I think I would make the phantom triangles in colors, but use a neutral for the pebbles.  Maybe.  

I was really feeling this one!  The free motion quilting grabbed me by the throat and wouldn't let go! I want to do much more...and not just pebbles!    


Monday, April 18, 2016

The Name Game ~ Feature

What's in a name?  Have you ever wondered how someone choose a name for their blog? What about Twiggy & Opal?  I've had many people ask and if you are can find out the inside scoop!

Cindy at Live A Colorful Life, has a fun series she calls 'The Name Game'.  Discover how I (and many others) picked our blog/instagam names!  

Thank you Cindy!  It's fun to share our madness behind the name!

Friday, April 15, 2016

Controlled Improv ~ Or Chaos ?

If you think Improv is impossible...think again!  I decided to experiment with my Wonky Mini Charm tutorial one more time.  This time taking it in the opposite direction.  This approach allows a little flexibility without being too overwhelming.  A traditional technique used in a unexpected way.  

While there are many techniques for improv, this method gives you the control you are comfortable with.  Let's face it not everyone is comfortable slicing and dicing trying to achieve a beautiful improv piece.  I feel the same way when it comes to making a quilt from a pattern!  My brain doesn't think that way! 

This mini charm, mini quilt is the result of being in control, going wonky and very little chaos! I used woven stripes for the starting squares (mini charm) and raided my scraps for an assortment of blue, teal and purple.  After cutting the strips according to the tutorial, I randomly pulled pieces for each block.  

It's important to have variety of colors and to not think about placement.  Make a pile, grab randomly and continue on!

Always looking to practice my free motion quilting, this piece was just the right size for it. It's all FMQ!  Yay me!!  I quilted tiny 'bricks' from the side to the corner, almost like a cobblestone path and finished it off with dense curved lines.  

I used a double layer of Warm & Natural batting hoping to get more texture and depth.  At first I wasn't too impressed with myself.  FMQ isn't easy!  Once it was finished, I was really quite happy!  Except for a few issues trying to travel over lines, I didn't do too bad!

Another option I tried was using the same Mini Charm block tutorial, but adding an additional strip on two sides.  

Much like making a log cabin. This way you get more variety, or more of an improvised feel. It's still controlled.  

Adding black changed everything!

Just like the previous quilt, I FMQ bricks except on a bigger scale.  Gotta go with what works!

I didn't want to beat this method to death, but it appears I may have!  Wonky is good. Improv doesn't have to be intimidating.  For those of you who can't give up control but want to give improv a try, this may give you the confidence and comfort you need!


Tuesday, April 12, 2016

An Extended Birthday Comes To A Halt

Not everyone wants to celebrate their birthdays for a month.  I know I would rather not!  But some do, like my daughter.  Of course, it is partly my fault.  

First, I gave birth to her a full month before her due date thirty years ago!  Second, it took me much longer to finish her birthday quilt than expected.  Like many children, she took full advantage of the situation!!  

I started the milestone '30' row by row quilt in the middle of February ~ Rowing Along ~ playing it all by ear.  Working, cutting, figuring everything as I went.  I knew I was going Southwestern-ish and using my April Rhodes 'Wanderer' bundle.  That was all I knew at the time.

Sometimes it's the hardest thing to do, and multiply that by ten when you are trying to impress your daughter!  Who coincidentally, is your number one fan and the one who taught me to quilt! Pressure comes to mind! 

I couldn't be happier with the results.  All the fretting, fussing, pressure and indecision was worth it in the end. 

First of all...she did love it!  Whew!  I mean, what if she hated it and said so? Or hated it and didn't say so?  See what we put ourselves through?!

Once I finished the top, I settled on a backing.  I kept in the same style and went with April Rhodes 'Bound'.  Like many collections, the colors are carried through to the next.  The hardest part was lining up the pattern when I made the backing the right size.  I never knew it would be so hard!

When my daughter quilted, she also hoarded quilting related things.  Like batting.  She happened to have a huge piece of wool batting stored at my house.  Being in the mode...use it or lose it...we decided it would be perfect for her quilt.  With that decision, I knew I would not be quilting something so lofty as that!  Yikes!  It would have been a nightmare!

The quilting was done by Vickey @ Studio V Quilting.  Who happens to be a member of our guild.  The pantograph design I found was exactly what I was looking for and Vickey was more than happy to use it on this quilt.  

The texture blew me away!  I was so beyond happy with it.  I immediately squared it up and attached the binding!  Excited...just a bit!

Maybe 8-9 years ago, I made a quilt and had it long arm quilted with wool batting.  We use it every single winter.  The warmth from the wool is amazing!

No secret, Britt turned 30 February 27th.  Monumental, right?  I ended up making three X's in roman numerals for a discreet patch on the back.  While I want her to remember when and why she received it, I didn't want it to be in your face!  Or her face!  It also resembles 'X' and 'O'...hugs and kisses!  Totally appropriate!

The quilt has a bit of paper piecing, regular piecing and filler piecing.  Filler piecing meaning...I gotta add isn't long enough...OMG!

See that texture?!  Even though this quilt is far from perfect, the quilting seems to balance it out.

When I showed my son the finished quilt, I said by next winter she will love this!  His response was 'she'll get sick three times before winter'!  And he was right!  She is sick right now!  Who doesn't curl up under a snugly, cozy warm quilt when they are sick?!!

Before the sickness we brought her quilt outside for a few photos and far too many laughs! The quilt is long...looong!  Add the wind and the Boomerang App and we were rolling on the 'lawn'!  

I love, love, love seeing my kids happy.  Who wouldn't?!  Having them act like a two-year-old on Christmas morning for a simple basic quilt at the age of 30...can you say my heart was over flowing....??? 


Sunday, April 10, 2016

Charm Pack Giveaway Winners!

Thank you all for the wonderful comments and for entering my Charm Pack Giveaway! 

The winners are:



Congratulations ladies!  As soon as I get your address...I'll pop the prize in the mail!