The Farmer’s Wife Returns

27 01 2013

That’s right – the old battleaxe has made a reappearance. I became convinced, toward the end of the summer, that I had somehow managed to lose eleven blocks and their setting pieces.

Today, since I’d spent a good chunk of yesterday steaming my living room carpet (though I was interrupted in the middle by my body deciding I needed a nap now), I decided to lay out the top so far, which is about halfway done, on the newly clean and dried carpet. I then started cataloging all of the blocks, marking them off if they were already sewn into the top, or if they were in the stack of blocks to be added. I figured I ought to figure out which blocks needed to be re-made.


I have not lost eleven blocks.

I have, apparently, lost my marbles.

However, in the process of going through the blocks, I decided that nine need to be re-made, for various reasons:

FWS Blocks to Remake1. #082 Spider Legs, 2. #003 Basket, 3. #022 Corn and Beans, 4. #037 Flower Pot, 5. #110 Wood Lily,
6. #035 Flower Basket, 7. #104 Wild Geese, 8. #086 Squash Blossom, 9. #015 Buzzard’s Roost

In order of the photo above:

#082 – Spider Legs – When I originally took the photo, I noticed a yellow stain that had been on the fabric, which I hadn’t noticed when I was mid-piecing. A few months later, the stain is even more yellow and pronounced. Definitely just going to start over with this one rather than take a chance with washing it.

#003 – Basket – I just hate this block, because it has applique, and the handle is not nearly curved enough. Additionally, I’m not thrilled with my fabric choices. I’ll probably replace this block with a pieced basket block. Besides, this one I genuinely can’t find, but I have vague memories of being disgusted with it and pitching it.

#022  – Corn and Beans – I love my fabric choices here. Unfortunately, the block came out about half an inch too small all around, and I refuse to settle and just do a wider setting for it. I put this much effort into the piecing for this, I’m damned well going to be happy with all of it.

#037 – Flower Pot – I just don’t like this block, period. It’s awkward looking, and I don’t like my fabric choices. I will probably pick something to switch in for it.

#110 – Wood Lily – While I love how this block turned out, as far as my fabric choices are concerned, it is also too small.

#035 – Flower Basket – Please see my irritations with #003.

#104 – Wild Geese – Another block in which I’m very happy with the way it came out, and with my fabric choices. Unfortunately, it’s too small.

#086 – Squash Blossom – I intensely dislike my fabric choices for this one. This definitely needs a re-do.

#015 – Buzzard’s Roost – I just don’t like my fabrics choices for this – they’re too similar to another block which has already been included in the top.

I’m looking forward to starting these tonight – we’re having some folks over to watch the Royal Rumble, which means I can sneak off to spend some quality time with my sewing machine. Since my mother-in-law is in a nursing home recovering from her second knee replacement surgery, finding sewing time is difficult.

Saturday’s Sewing

24 01 2013

This past Saturday, I got together with Sandi of Piecemeal Quilts for another sewing day. My goal has been to catch up on the Test Your Skills Sampler, so that I can move on to writing the next tutorials with a clear conscience, and so that I have a top ready to go when all is said and done.

Pinwheel Fillers

Pinwheel filler blocks.. Nice and easy HSTs. The nearly mindless piecing of these was kind of nice.

Card Trick

Card Trick didn’t come out exactly as I’d intended… I’d planned for it to match the color placement from the ‘bright and white’ color plan for the TTYS Sampler. I was not, however, going to pick it apart.

I have to say that I absolutely love this block, and the motion that using that particular print in four different colors gives it.

Dutchman's Puzzle

I really like how Dutchman’s Puzzle came out. I was a tad bit persnickety about ensuring that the directional print flowed the same direction in all four quadrants.

Capital T

Capital T – I like the contrast between the two prints here, in nearly every way. Stripe vs. circles. Purples vs. olive green.

As I make these blocks, I’m happier and happier that I went with the Kona cotton Lake for the background fabric. It’s atypical, and leads to a low-volume appearance in a good number of these blocks. I can’t wait to see these all together.

I’d been hoping to get completely caught up on the sampler blocks, but between hubby and kiddo on Monday, I didn’t get much sewing time. Not a big deal – I’ve four days of vacation time from banked from last year to use. I’m just debating on when to use them, though I’m thinking early February would be good. I’m ready for some time off since I didn’t take any through the holidays.

My productivity continues, though, and it’s spreading! I’ve been cooking – a lot. Yesterday, it was several quarts of chili so that I could freeze some and have some fairly quick meals ready. Tomorrow, I’m cooking down a bunch of chicken, shredding it and freezing it, so that I can do chicken tacos and enchiladas with less hassle. I’ll do the same with some pork this weekend I think. I’ll probably also make

Dieting is going okay – I cut a bunch of vegetables for last Stitch ‘N’ Bitch for salads. What we didn’t eat that Saturday, I’ve been working my way through in salads and snacks. The upside is that I’ve nearly killed the tendency to snack on unhealthful, additive-ridden foods. The downside is that I feel constantly hungry right now. I have to re-learn to eat several small meals throughout the day again.

Total diet failure was my attempt to substitute in some shrimp in place of my normal chicken or pork. I made a shrimp stir fry, using a bunch of my pre-cut vegetables. You’d think that was a win, right?

Not so much.

I don’t like the taste of shrimp. It tastes like beach. Dirty beach. Unless it’s in sushi. No offense to those of you who like shrimp, but I’ll be avoiding that particular food from now on.

I am determined, however, to hit the Asian grocery in town. They sell whole Tilapia, and I love that particular fish. I grew up eating it freshly caught, and I have no qualms about preparing it. I have been craving other shellfish though. Crab sounds amazing right about now, but that might just be the fact that my stomach is reminding me that it’s been four hours since I ate, and I’m due for a snack before I try to hit the hay.

I also tried hummus, for the second time. My first time was considerably less than delicious. I attempted to make it at home, from what I now realize is a sub-par recipe. This time around, I tried a commercial hummus, a spicy red pepper version, and it was… not bad. Definitely an acquired taste, and I preferred it when it had been in a very cold fridge for a few hours. I’m planning to try a more garlicky flavored one, and I’ve heard that there’s a black olive one out there. Mwahahaha.

I have to get back on the workout horse – I’m hoping to do that tomorrow. I need to make it a habit. What I do have going for me there is that I’ve been helping to motivate my best friend and work mate, Adam. He’s also not happy with his weight, and has a membership at the same gym I do. I’m our conscience for the moment – and I’m okay with that. I’m intensely driven to do this for myself, especially as my mother-in-law in the hospital having undergone her second complete knee replacement.

Still, in all of this, I got back into a size 16 pair of jeans this weekend. Despite the lack of actual weight loss, this means that the weight is re-distributing, exchanging fat out for muscle. I’m okay with that. Being a smaller size is a nice side-benefit of this dieting and exercise thing. I’ll be healthier, and that’s the important thing.

Okay, enough rambling… time to find a lo-cal snack before bed.

The Streak Continues

12 01 2013

Today was Bitch ‘n’ Stitch… A couple of regular attendees were recovering from the flu, making for a fairly quiet day. I buckled down with my sewing machine and made considerable progress on the Test Your Skills Sampler

Test Your Skills Sampler

Those of you who have followed my quilting exploits are now sporting quizzical expressions. “Huh? I thought you’ve been there, done that?”

Not so much, unfortunately. I set the project to the side, as I have with so many projects, and became distracted by other projects that were temporarily more shiny. Once I picked it up again, I discovered that my original fabric selections:

Final Fabric Selections

… wouldn’t quite work. That green print, the one third from the left? I don’t have quite enough of it. and I honestly never really liked the maroon print, though I wanted that color in this top.

So, I started looking for substitutes. I spent an absurd amount of time online looking for fabrics that matched my mental vision. I ended up being obsessed with strongly geometric and angular  tone-on-tone prints:

TYSS Fabric Choices

I went from a bare minimum of fabrics, to a wealth of choices. I’m horribly, desperately in love with these fabrics. I think I might have nearly the perfect storm of tone-on-tone prints here. Funnily enough (or not, if you know my buying habits), not one of these prints is the focus print of a fabric line. They are all the blenders of their respective lines.

From left, prints 1 – 4 are Mackinaw Island by Bernatex. Prints 5 and 6 are Simply Color, by Vanessa Christenson for Moda. Prints 7 and 8 are Blossom by Whistler Studio for Windham Fabrics. Prints 9 – 11 are City Girl by Kitty Yoshida for Benartex.

I think perhaps the only thing I am missing, from this selection, is a black print to add some needed depth. I have some prints in my stash that I think will work, but I need to locate them and audition them.

At any rate, I began piecing today, and kept on piecing:

Snowball & Nine Patch

Filler Blocks III

Filler Blocks I

Filler Blocks II

In addition to Bullseye…


…I’m actually further along with this sampler than I was previously. I’m also feeling driven to finish this, since I love the fabrics so much. We’ll see how much further along I get this weekend. I actually have a Sunday off, and I’m thinking about quilting up a top.

Chugging Away

23 08 2012

Four Rows

Work is becoming more and more hectic as the start of the fall semester approaches. I’ve been laboring under the onus of several projects that needed to be completed before classes start, with too little manpower and not enough time. I’m sure this is the universal cry of government employees everywhere, but this is my first real experience with this many items on my plate with such rapidly approaching drop-dead completion dates

It’s more than a little wearing.

However, I will pull through. I might need more than a couple of drinks and some sushi nights to recover from this summer  of endless stress, but I will pull through.

Helping me get through this has been my quilting. I’m taking refuge in it, burying myself in the comforting hum of my sewing machine and the glorious slide of cotton in my fingers. I can turn off my worries for those precious moments that I’m stealing away from sleeping.

When I get a chance today to go through and decide what blocks will go into Row 5, I’ll take some photos and make some comments about how I’m deciding what goes where. Hint: it’s a very loose process.

Can I just say that I love the way this is turning out? I’ve been nervous about getting this project to this state. Now I can be happy with the way it’s turning out, and my brain is starting to focus on the quilting. This has been such a tremendous project, and I’ve taken such care with the piecing that I really want this to be an heirloom piece of art, maybe even a quilt show entry.

Oh, and I’ve decided on a new name, I think: Technicolor Fields. It’s a nod to the original quilt, as in farmer’s fields, but also acknowledging the field of bright stars I’ve created with the setting.

Popping In

9 08 2012

There’s been a lot of sewing going on in the Grey Cat Quilts household – just not a lot of pictures that I’m willing to show off, quite yet.

Quilting on Cheating on the Farmer’s Wife, Part Deux has been completed. I have about a million and a half thread tails to make knots of and bury in the batting, and then I want to wash it before I take photos and post them.

In other news, I completed the last four blocks I needed to bring my total number of Farmer’s Wife blocks to 121:

Yankee Puzzle

This one is called Yankee Puzzle. I probably could have simplified the piecing a little bit, and done four flying geese units where you see the HSTs forming them in the yellow print. This combines a Heather Bailer with  two Joann’s prints.

The Owl Quilt

The Owl Quilt – Yup, that’s the name of this block, according to Jinny Beyer. I actually simplified the piecing here, as the yellow bits were done with Y-seams in the book. If I were more ambitious, I’d draw it out in EQ7 to show you, but I’m not.

Star of Friendship
Friendship Star. I had to dip into my collection of black and red prints again. I know. I have a problem – I could make at least one more black and red quilt top.

Scrap Zig Zag
Scrap Zig Zag. Very simple, very quick. I chose two prints with some foil printing in them. Nice and low volume.

I went about  picking blocks that I could cut the pieces for without thinking overly  much about the quilty math, and they were all done on Tuesday evening. Next stop… setting all of these blocks!

I also ordered fabrics for the Ron Swanson Along hosted by Monica of Happy Zombie. My husband is a big fan of the show Parks & Recreation (I personally don’t see the appeal, but I’ve only seen portions of Season 1). He was hoping for it to be in shades of pink, but Connecting Threads’s pinks didn’t have an awesome transition from pink to fuschia, and I wanted to take advantage of their sale on solids. He’s getting purple.

I want to start in on the Super Mario Brother Quilt Along hosted by Angela of Cut to Pieces, but I need to order fabrics for that one. I might yet take advantage of the Connecting Threads solids sale one more time. But I’ll be waiting for another Connecting Threads sale on their solids, since I can’t justify another $75.00 in fabric this month.

So much for this being the year of finishes for me…

Some Stitching a Day…

5 07 2012

…keeps the insanity away!

It was disgustingly hot in the Grey Cat Quilts house yesterday. I spent most of the day running around in a tank top and athletic shorts, insanely jealous of kiddo, who got to be free and mostly not sweaty in a diaper. I was off for the Fourth, and kiddo was thrilled. I wanted to sew – he wanted to ‘help’:

Kiddo 'Helping'
*snickers* I just realized how tired he looks here – kiddo is on a streak of avoiding nap times in the afternoon, which I’m okay with, since it means he goes down super early. In fact, he missed the fireworks yesterday, because once he got dinner in him, he curled up on the couch and passed out.

So, anyway, I got started on the blocks to get me to 121 for the Farmer’s Wife Sampler quilt. I found very few blocks that had been first published in The Farmer’s Wife, so I ditched that idea early on. My criteria for picking blocks ended up being: a) could I cut the patches without specialty rulers and b) would it translate well  to a 6″ block?

Year's FavoriteYear’s Favorite

First published in Prize Winning Designs, ca. 1931, in Farm Journal and Farmer’s Wife according to Jinny Beyer’s The Quilter’s Album of Patchwork Patterns.


First published in the Aunt Martha series Quilts: Modern-Colonial, ca. 1954, according to Jinny Beyer’s The Quilter’s Album of Patchwork Patterns.

Double QuartetDouble Quartet

First published in Grandmother’s Patchwork  Quilt Designs, From Books 20-21, in 1932, according to Jinny Beyer’s The Quilter’s Album of Patchwork Patterns.

Crystal StarCrystal Star

First published in Kansas City Star on June  16, 1934, according to Jinny Beyer’s The Quilter’s Album of Patchwork Patterns.

Crow's FootCrow’s Foot

First published in the Nancy Page column, in the the Nashville Banner on Feb. 6, 1934, according to Jinny Beyer’s The Quilter’s Album of Patchwork Patterns.

Chinese CoinChinese Coin

I need to double check the origin of this block – I think I missed this one when I was going through and editing everything for upload. I was doing the whole nod and bob  deal at 2:00  AM this morning, after all, when I was doing this. It was just too hot too stay asleep. 😛


1 07 2012

Party in the sewing room!

111 blocks done! I have conquered all of the blocks in The Farmer’s Wife Sampler! And I don’t have any left to remake either! I finished those yesterday as well.

#008 Bouquet#008 Bouquet

An extremely easy paper-piecing block. I was just avoiding it because, as I’ve said, I’m so over basket blocks.

#011 Broken Dishes#011 Broken Dishes

A re-make, because when I looked over the photos of these block in my Flickr group, I just hated the original attempt when compared with the rest of the blocks.

#016 Calico Puzzle#016 Calico Puzzle

Re-make number two. Thankfully all the blocks I decided to remake were super simple. I pulled some of the older stuff from the stash. Lots of prints are going to be headed to the scrap bins after this project. I think my next project will be to sort my scraps by color.

#021 Contrary Wife#021 Contrary Wife

Re-make number three. Not  sure what’s so contrary about this block. It went together quickly and easily.

#043 Garden Path#043 Garden Path

I need to block this block, so it lays correctly. The colors make me think of sherbet.

#022 Corn and Beans#022 Corn and Beans

The last block I needed from the book! Woo!!! Paper-pieced, of course.

Now, I just need to sit down and make nine more blocks, to get me to the 121 I need for the full top. I’m debating getting out of bed to pick some relatively easy ones and get them done before I have to go work today.