Down With the Old… Up With the New

It was a ridiculously meeting-heavy day at work today so I was stuck at the desk in my dining room all day long. I did get out to toss the ball for my boys a couple of times, and then right back to the grind.

After dinner we took our evening three-mile walk and ended it with a glorious sunset.

I was pretty tired after my work day so I lounged on the sofa for about an hour and then decided to hit my sewing room to get a little bit done before I fall asleep on the sofa.

I took my sunburst jumble quilt off my retractible design wall, measured it and wrote it all down clearly so I know how big to make the backing.

Then I folded it up with it’s backing and put it in my pile of quilts that need backings to be made.

With that done, I sorted my Wensleydale blocks by value and started putting them up on my design wall.

The thing I love most about my retractible design wall is that I can raise it up to do the lowest blocks so I don’t have to break my back to do the bottom rows.

And then I just lower it to do the higher rows.

Here’s the 50 blocks I have done up on this design wall.

I’m really glad I did this before I made the final ten blocks I need to complete this top. My plan was to make ten dark blocks. But after seeing these blocks all up, I decided that I need five dark and five more white blocks.

I’m really loving this quilt! It’s fun to see it all up on the big design wall. This isn’t the final lay out. I’ll have to agonize over that for several days before I throw my hands up and say, “To hell with it… it’s good enough!”.

Several people have asked me about my design wall, so I decided to write a little about it again.

My friend bought this retractible design wall for me at a quilt show many years ago and had it shipped to me from California. I don’t remember the name of the maker, but I’m pretty sure they’re not making these any more.

It has two separate design walls that roll up into the wooden box that hangs on the wall over the closet doors in my sewing room. So I can use both roll-up walls at the same time. The fabric is a heavy flannel with a plastic backing. You can just roll one up, blocks and all, and then roll it down again. Well, that’s the theory. I never do that because it sort of makes a mess out of your blocks! But I could have left my finished quilt top on the back wall and used the front one for these Wensleydale blocks.

Here’s a video that shows how the walls roll up.

My sewing room is a pretty small room. So the best thing about this design wall is that it hangs over the closet and just rolls up out of the way when I’m not using it. I don’t have a wall that I could dedicate to a design wall.

Each wall is big enough to accommodate a generous throw size quilt. But not large enough for a queen quilt. So to accommodate a queen size quilt I made my portable design wall. This blog post shows how I made that and how I use it in combo with my retractible design wall.

Poor Rico has has some stomach issues the last couple days. He wouldn’t eat yesterday morning and had no interest in his dinner either. He as a bit of a sensitive stomach so I always have ground turkey in my freezer and rice and canned pumpkin in my pantry. The ground turkey and rice make a bland meal that’s good for bad tummies, and the pumpkin helps firm up loose poops.

So after our walk last night I dug some turkey out of the freezer and browned it up. I also cooked a big pan of brown rice. I was happy to see that Rico was VERY interested in a few pieces of turkey once it was cooked. I didn’t give him a full meal last night because I didn’t want to be up in the middle of the night with an emergency run outside.

He was very happy to eat his breakfast and lick the bowl clean this morning. And, his poops look a lot better this evening.

He’s a little horrified that I’m telling you about his poop. He thinks that’s a private topic.

Bender, on the other hand, will eat literally anything.

What a happy damned dog.

A Little Herding, a Little Conversation, A Little Wensleydale Sewing

Rico had his weekly sheep herding lesson down in Molalla at my friend Trudy’s place today… where we helped with lambing a few weeks ago. It was a new experience for him as he got to work in a great big field with hills and valleys, lots of trees and sheep he’s never seen before. And he did a great job.

Here’s a little bit of video from Rico’s working today.

I’m so happy with how his driving is coming along. That’s when he moves the sheep away from me. He’s looking so good and it’s so fun to see him so cool and collected, and to see all this training coming together so nicely.

I have him entered in another sheep herding trial next weekend. It will be fun to see how he does.

When we got home a co-worker came over with her dog for a play date. We had some unexpected, frank and very interesting conversation. It’s a coworker I don’t know very well and don’t have much opportunity to interact with. It was really good to get to have this conversation. I’m looking forward to more.

After grabbing an early dinner since we missed lunch, I headed out with the boys for a three mile walk. It was warm but cloudy. I had on a long sleeve t-shirt with a sweatshirt over the top and it was too much! We definitely have a change in the weather on the way.

I had really hoped we’d actually have a little bit of spring before summer arrived.

After giving the boys some dinner I sat down on the sofa and found myself nodding off. I kind of went with it for a while and then decided I needed to get my butt up and sew three more Wensleydale blocks before I was out cold. Why three? Because that would put me at 50 blocks done.

So I hit my sewing room and sewed up the final three lighter batik blocks that I kitted up last week.

I pulled the rest of the blocks off my design wall and stacked them up in sets of 10 so I can keep track and know when I have 60 blocks.

So, that means I have ten more blocks to sew. I think I’m going to toss all these blocks up on my retractible design wall tomorrow to see if I need to make more dark blocks or more light blocks. I’m pretty sure it still needs more dark blocks to go with all these light blocks I’ve been making.

I’m going to remove the paper from six blocks that are waiting… as soon as I finish this blog post. I calculated the other night that it takes me about four minutes to remove the paper from one block. I’ll finish these up as I watch some pickleball tonight.

I was tidying up my living room last night and realized that I had never taken some Australian Aboriginal fabrics out of the box they were delivered in. I bought these online a couple of months ago.

I have no idea where I’m going to put them. The plastic bins that hold my Aboriginal fabrics are already too full.

After a good night sleep and a walk with the boys in the morning, I’ll be off to play a couple hours of pickleball!

Lucky 13 — Just 13 More Wensleydale Blocks to Go!

What a crazy weather day. The sun was shining when I got up this morning. The rest of the day included downpours, ice balls, rain, rain and more rain, moments of sunshine, and a high of about 45 degrees. I had to check the calendar to confirm that it really is April 20 as I type after midnight. I wore a parka and gloves for our evening walk!

But even with all that, we had this too.

That’s sort of magical.

The good news is that the forecast tells me we will have a day of 80 degrees with sun in about a week. I can hardly believe it’s true!

After our evening walk I headed down the hall to my sewing room to dig in and make a few more Wensleydale blocks. I was having so much fun seeing these new fabrics come together that I made four blocks!

I keep saying it, but one of my favorite things about this quilt is that every block is completely different! It also makes It more fun to make… I don’t thrive on making the same block over and over.

Here’s all four blocks.

This means that I’ve made a total of 47 blocks! It’s hard to believe I’ve made so many of these. I timed myself the other night and it takes about a half hour to sew a block. By the time I finish the final 13 blocks, I’ll have 30 hours of sewing time in these blocks. That doesn’t really seem that bad.

I’ve been noticing the last few days that I’m getting little flaps of fabric folded over when I sew my lines on the paper templates. I’ve also been seeing pins getting stuck on the edge of the sewing machine bed as I sew. I finally realized tonight that the legs on my extension table had adjusted themselves and my table was too low. The bed of the sewing machine was sitting up above the top of the extension table about a quarter inch.

So as I was sliding my paper template with the fabric on the back under the needle, it was catching on the edge of the machine and getting folded over.

My extension table has little legs that are easily adjusted by turning the little feet. I’m guessing they’ve lowered over time from all the vibrations.

I took a few minutes and adjusted this before the last block I sewed tonight.

I don’t know why I didn’t think of this sooner. I’ve never had issues with the fabric folding over when I’ve paper pieced in the past. That last block went together so smoothly!

Oh, and that extension table? It’s an amazing thing. They are custom made to fit your machine. Really a fantastic thing if you don’t have a sewing table that your machine sits down into.

I’ve had mine for years and I just love it. One of the best purchases I’ve made. This is where I got it. They even make them for Singer Featherweights!

Something I noticed in a drawer of my sewing table tonight was this block of styrofoam I have where I put all my broken needle and pins. I’ve been sticking sharp stuff into this for quite a few years. It’s a great way to keep all those sharp items away from fingers.

I even use this to store different needles that are still good for use. I just write on the block what the needle is and then stick the needle in.

Now I’m gonna sit back and remove some more paper from blocks as I watch some late night TV.

Twelve Kits and a Mess of Paper

My budget has been submitted! It was due on Friday, but a last minute critical thing we had to handle took up my entire day on Thursday so I got an extension on getting this wrapped up. It feels good to have it done and I’m looking forward to working on something else.

I stepped away from work today right at 5;00, hurried and grabbed a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, and headed out to play pickleball. I played from 6:00 – 9:00… and there were few enough people there that I played the entire three hours. I’m really happy to say that I’m getting better and better! It was really a fun night.

By the time I got home it was around 9:30 and I was tired and it was raining. Big surprise there. So my boys didn’t get an evening walk. But they settled in nicely and have been snoozing since then.

I hit my sewing room for a few minutes to cut some KFC fabric strips for the centers of my next twelve Wensleydale quilt blocks.

Oh, yum!

I cut enough for twelve more blocks and combined two fabrics for each block.

Then I pulled out the indigo batiks I cut the other night and put together a dozen kits for the next set of blocks.

After three hours of pickleball, that’s all I had energy for. So I headed for the sofa. And sitting on my coffee table were the 18 blocks that still needed the paper removed. So I sat down in front of the TV, pulled up a pickleball tournament on YouTube and cracked away.

I got the paper removed from ten of these blocks and iced my foot at the same time.

This felt like a good accomplish this evening. I don’t have much to give after all my physical activity.

I just love looking at the back of the blocks.

I have a little more spring to report. The flowering pear trees in my back yard are in full bloom and they are beautiful.

I have these trees all over my yard.

More blooming things are showing up around the neighborhood. The magnolias are looking good!

Those blooms are as big as my hand!

My lawn is finally greening up. I don’t think my front lawn has ever looked this good.

Bender met a new friend on our afternoon walk today.

This never happens.

Oh my god… I’m so tired! G’night!

A Little Sunday Sewing and the Weekend Ends

I had a great weekend. I had a sheep herding lesson with Rico on Saturday morning. Trudy takes several weeks off during lambing season so this was our first week back in a month and Rico did a great job.

We stopped while we were up in Washington and had a nice field run in the park with the creek. My boys were happy to get out. The creek was deep enough that they actually got a little swimming. Then they found a really good stick.

They were a wet mess by the time we were done.

I can’t remember what we did last night. I think we took a three mile walk at some point in the day.

We had another sheep herding lesson this morning with a different trainer and it poured the entire time! But Rico didn’t care! He had another great lesson.

After that I hight tailed it home, grabbed some lunch and headed out to play pickleball. After a couple hours of good exercise I took the boys for a nice three mile walk. They were happy to get out and we were lucky to have a break in the rain.

After dinner I hit my sewing room to cut some more fabrics for my Wensleydale quilt. I stopped on Saturday at a local quilt store and bought some whiter indigo batiks. I combined them with a few that I bought online last week.

I also cut up some of the darker indigo batiks. I decided last week that my quilt top needed some really dark and really light fabrics. I found this fun one at the bottom of this photo in that stack of fabrics I’ve purchased recently. I completely forgot about it but thought It would add a fun pop of color.

I love the way it looks with the paisley.

I think I came close to cutting up enough fabrics for the remaining 20 blocks I have to make.

I will still need to cut up some KFC fabrics for the centers.

Then I kitted up enough for four blocks, but only got three made before I started to fade.

I tossed these lighter blocks up on the design wall to see how they look.

They’re in there and I like what the lighter whites do for this.

Here’s the new blocks mixed in with some other blocks to see how they look.

I think I’ll be happy I went through all that effort to find the whiter fabrics. There aren’t a lot of them out there!

I decided I would start pulling paper off blocks while I watched a little TV at the end of the night. I have 20 blocks that still have the paper on the back!

It’s a pretty big stack!

After a lot of rain today it was nice to get a little bit of sun.

That’s an Even Forty — Wensleydale Blocks

I knew it was going to be quite a week at work. And I was right. My revenue and expense budgets are due on Friday. I’m close to having them done, but haven’t checked them off my list quite yet. I’ll certainly be ready for the weekend.

I have no idea what I did on Monday night. I think I worked late and then fell into a pile on the sofa. Last night I went and played pickleball. I had a great time. My favorite thing from the night was when I was playing with three guys. I was all over the place making tough plays and returning hard shots. I heard one of the guys on the other side of the net say under his breath: “She’s really athletic.” It made my day! I can’t remember the last time someone thought I was athletic! I’ve been thinking about it all day!

I was able to step away from my desk late this afternoon to get the dogs out for a quick walk before my last meeting of the day. We got a three mile walk in after dinner. It was so nice out! We’ve been having some really rainy days. Today we had rain, sun, ice balls, more rain, sun and rain at the same time. But our walk tonight was glorious!

Even with that, it still feels like winter. I’m really ready for some spring weather. But I love having the light in the evenings. It’s nice to be able to have our evening walk in daylight.

When we got home I thought I’d hit my sewing room and sew up the last three block kits I had made for my Wensleydale quilt. I timed it the other night and it takes me about a half hour to make one block. That’s way too long! It’s a good thing I like paper piecing!

Here’s the three blocks I got done tonight.

That makes a total of 40 blocks made. And 20 more needed to make it sixty in total.

I counted the paper templates I have left in the first book I bought and there are 20. I guess they gave me one extra.

Those 40 blocks have completely filled my portable design wall. So that means I’m going to need to get my starburst jumble quilt off my roll-up design wall so I can move these blocks. I think I’ll make the backing before I fold it up.

For the twenty blocks I have left, I want to include more dark indigo batiks. I feel like this really needs some darker fabrics and I have plenty dark indigo batiks on hand. Here’s what I’ll probably use next.

I might rethink the one with the lighter leaves. I like the color it would bring to this quilt top, but I’m afraid it will read lighter than I want. I’ll noodle on it for a few days.

I also need some lighter batiks in this quilt top. I’ve ordered a few pieces online. I have no idea when they’re going to get here. Here’s the tone and value I need more of.

I’ll also probably stop at a local quilt store when I’m up in Vancouver this weekend. they have a nice selection of batiks and might have just what I need.

Today is April 12. I’ve had an odd feeling about this date all day today. Then tonight it hit me. April 12 is the birthday of the first dog I owned as an adult. Billie was born on April 12, 1998… 25 years ago today.

She was an Australian Shepherd and I was definitely HER person. Here’s a video I made after I lost her in 2011. (you’ll have to click on that link. for some reason it won’t let me embed the video in this blog post).

This is one of my favorite photos of her. A friend took it once while we were sheep herding. She had to wear a muzzle because she was a little rough with the sheep.

She had a short lived sheep herding career.

A little more spring from the neighborhood. I saw this gorgeous patch of heather on our short afternoon walk today.

On our afternoon walk yesterday we had some glorious sun!

I love all the gorgeous Douglas fir trees in my neighborhood! There are so many of them.

I also noticed this moss covered rail fence on our walk. I thought it looked so cool.

This time of year here can be really beautiful.

Now if spring would just get serious…

Happy Birthday Bender and Eight More Wensleydale Blocks

Today is Bender’s tenth birthday! I really can’t believe he’s ten already, although his face is starting to show his years.

Look at those adorable white eyebrows.

We didn’t do anything too special to celebrate, other than our usual daily walks. But I did make him a birthday cake after our evening walk.

Here’s the basic recipe, but I doctored it up a bit and added bananas and oats, and omitted the carrots since I didn’t have any on hand. It’s pretty tasty and the dogs love it!

After our morning walk in the rain I headed out for three hours of pickleball! And I had a blast! I think I played the best ever had. I even had one game where I played with three guys who are much better than I am and my team won!!! It was a long and well fought game! And so much fun! I also tried out some brand new pickleball shoes and I love them! My feet and toes felt so comfy the entire time.

I did get a few things done in my sewing room over the weekend. Yesterday I had a pretty lazy day but managed to get four Wensleydale blocks made. Then I got another four made today.

That makes a total of 37 blocks done. I’m pretty sure I’m going to make the full 60 blocks for this quilt. So that means 23 more blocks to go. That’s not very many.

I’ve ordered a couple of batiks that are similar to the lightest ones in these blocks because I think is needs more of that really light for contrast. It will take a few days for it to get here so after the few kits I have left to sew, I’ll probably take a bit of a break on this.

And here’s all eight blocks from this weekend, just because I like to look at the details of each one.

I just love that every block is unique. It keeps it interesting when making so many of the same block.

Rico had a good snooze in my sewing room tonight. It’s very unusual for him to even come into the room, let alone take a nap there.

He has been a little clingy the last few days. Unusual.

It’s been a rainy weekend but more and more things are blooming every day. The cherry trees here in Portland are gorgeous and just starting to bloom.

They are not quite at their full glory.

I also saw this on the trail today. I think it’s a red blooming current.

I also saw the first rhododendron in bloom today.

Mine still has a good white before it blooms.

Back to work tomorrow. My budgets are due at the end of this week so I’ll have a really busy week.

Four Blocks on a Friday Night

What a crazy Friday at work. I was in zoom meetings from 9:30 am until 3:00… with barely enough time to pee between meetings. I finally got the boys out for a walk around 3:30. And by the time I got home I had worn a blister on the big toe on my left foot. I was ready to take them for a walk after dinner, but it was just too uncomfortable.

So, instead, I tossed a ball in the back yard until they nearly passed out.

Once they were nice and worn out I hit my sewing room and dug in on making four more Wensleydale blocks. And since I have a big stack of kits made I didn’t wast any time prepping.

Here’s what I ended up with.

Here’s all four of them together.

And all 29 blocks up on the design wall. Just nineteen blocks to go!!

I’ve started thinking about my next set of fabrics for the final blocks and I really think I need to pull out some dark, dark indigo batiks. I feel like it could use more dark fabrics. And, more truly light fabrics. So I’ll be a little more intentional with the last set of fabrics.

When I finished up and left my sewing room, my faithful campaign was waiting patiently for me.

It still doesn’t feel like full blown spring yet. But I’m happy to see that some new bloomers have arrived. The blooms on my flowering plum tree are opening up.

This is typically one of the first trees to bloom every spring. And in a few days it will all be gone. These blooms just don’t last very long — a good rain storm or a stiff wind will make short work of it.

My flowering pear trees are also starting to bloom.

I love these trees! I love them so much I’ve planted 11 of them in my back yard over the years.

I saw this Camellia tree on our walk this afternoon. I love the carpet of petals on the ground.

Thank god the weekend is here! I’m ready for it.

Two Blocks and Peeling Lots of Paper

It rained all day today. I’m pretty sick of the rain. I did get out to take my boys for a walk in the rain after dinner. We all just had to get out.

There was no beautiful evening light at 8:00 tonight.

But there were two very wet dogs. These boys did enjoy a good towel off when we got home… the best part of the rain for them.

After our walk I hit my sewing room to sew up a couple of blocks. By the time I got them done is was after 10 pm and that was all I had the oomph for.

I’m loving this new set of fabrics I cut the other day. Here’s the first four blocks made from those fabrics.

I’m really liking the little bit of additional color in those batiks.

Here’s the blocks in amongst all the other blocks — lower right corner. Making progress! It’s starting to look like an actual quilt.

That’s 25 blocks done. More than half way.

When I finished these two blocks I decided that I would start tearing the paper off the back of the 16 blocks that I hadn’t attacked yet.

I thought I might do five or six and leave the rest to tackle during a long work meeting tomorrow morning. I sat down in front of the TV and dug in.

The good news is that I got the paper removed from all 16 blocks!!!

And I feel like someone is watching me…

Hmmm. I really do need to take that tree down this weekend.

And Bender is, apparently exhausted from his lack of activity today.

He’s been sleeping like that for an hour-and-a-half!

We’re supposed to get a lot of rain over the next few days. I’m really tired of it. It can stop any day now. I’d love to see a few sunny spring days.

Ooh. A Little Bit of Color!

A couple of the blue batiks I purchased recently for my Wensleydale quilt had a little more color in them than the rest of the blue batiks I have. I’ve been itching too see them in blocks.

Since I cut enough of the blue batiks the other night to make 18 blocks, I dug in tonight and divided them all into kits and added KFC scraps.

Then I dug in and made two more blocks… just because I wanted to see how they looked with the pops of color.

That really is a deep indigo background behind the green paisley of that first one. And I love it! And I have to say, I LOVE that diamond shape in the light blues, aquas and purples on the right! It glows!

Hmmm. Maybe I’ve been working with blues too long. I’m craving color!

Let’s see how that looks with the other blocks.

Both new blocks are in there… can you see them? Center column, second from the bottom and second from the top.

Here’s a closer look. Ooh. That pop of green is really nice!

I’m pretty happy with how they look. Interesting to see how it looks with more pops of that color here and there. I guess I’d better get sewing!

My friend who visited in January (we made her Aboriginal 16 patch together) send me photos of the snow she got at her house in Salt Lake City a couple of days ago… two feet of snow in one day!

They’ve had so much snow this winter! My friend is ready for spring… even more ready than I am!

Here’s Bender’s brother, in the back, and Rico’s half brother, in the front, enjoying the snow! Dogs do love snow!

I would love to have this for about 30 minutes and then I’d be done with it!

For now, I’d like some sun instead of all the rain we have coming up.