Friday, November 17, 2017

A Dark Week, In Color, Weather and Mood

This was another week of dark colors for the Rainbow Scrap Challenge. Many of us are trying to finish up year-long rainbow quilt projects and making blocks from our dark black, brown and gray scraps. Perfect color choice for November, right? Why not join us over at Angela’s blog for Scrappy Saturday.

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“Into Each Life Some Rain Must Fall”. The saying is taken from a song recorded in 1944 by Ella Fitzgerald (when she was with The Ink Spots) which, in turn, was taken from a line in Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's poem entitled “Rainy Day”. (Yes, I had to look it up).  The line has pretty much summed up the last month for Bruce and me. I’ve mentioned before about a dear friend Colleen who died suddenly in late October and possibly about Bruce’s lifelong BFF who suffered a major stroke but is, thankfully, home and recovering nicely. And now our friend and neighbor - and honestly, a local “hero” - Cal, died this week. He is the one for whom I made a What Cancer Cannot Do quilt a couple years ago. Cal fought valiantly for 7 years, but lost the battle this week on Tuesday, the same day that sewing legend Nancy Zieman died. He was only 52. The rain and clouds this week have matched our moods. Things can only get better, right?  We’re counting on it!

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Back to what you’re probably here for!  These are the only dark scraps I got sewn up this week; 26 bow-tie blocks that will finish at 4”. That brings me to 240 of 304 needed.

I got both the Autumn Sampler and my Rainbow Selvages quilts basted. I should have the selvages quilt finished by next week to show you. I also pieced the tulip quilt top for a friend Diane. This is the one that my friend Terri and I are collaborating on for a Christmas present for Diane. We split the making of the tulips. Here it is without the final white sashing on the top and bottom.

I accidentally cut the vertical sashing 2.5” wide instead of 2”, so the top grew in width by an additional 4”. When the top and bottom borders are added, it will measure 72” wide and 88” long. That’s bigger than I like to quilt on my machine, but it will be perfect for Diane, who is tall. Once it is quilted, Terri will finish up the binding. But one way or another we will get a finished picture to share.

This week I also put together a trial quilt block for a project I’ll be working on next year. I have a huge store of vintage linens, both from my family and from years of collecting (and occasionally selling online). But some were just “cutter” quality, meaning they were stained or had bad parts with holes, etc. I wanted to give them a new life. So, this project will combine sweet little cotton fabric prints with bits and bobs of embroidered and lacy linens.

It will be a jumble of pieces, sizes and orientations. I’d like to make the blocks in sizes of 6, 9 and 12” so that they will hopefully be easier to sew together later. But who knows if the scraps will let me stick to that plan! I would also like to try a combination of machine quilting (in the ditch between blocks) and hand quilting and/or embroidery on the blocks. This would bring an element of crazy quilting into this piece for me, which is something I admit to missing after having not done any for a couple years. 

And finally, to beef up the visual aids on this post, here are some pictures of my “Teddy Bears". Alfalfa and Darla have taken to napping on our bed.  Both of these pictures were taken the same day - one in the afternoon and one in the evening. Because cats are Superstar Nappers.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving! I’ll see you back here next week!

Cathy maroon
Friday, November 10, 2017

Two Flimsies and Some Dark Blocks

Ok, don’t tell me. You want to see the flimsies first. I know I would want to if that was what you posted on YOUR blog. So without further ado, here they are. (For the uninitiated, a flimsy is just a quilt top before it is sandwiched with batting, backing and quilted). 

This is my Rainbow Selvages quilt top. It was originally going to contain just 14 columns, but I added the brown column, extreme left, after adding the planned black and white (polka dot) column on the right. It measures 60x72”.  I like this so much more now that the top is complete. The texture is so much fun!  I have a couple choices for a backing, but have made no decisions yet on that or the binding. I think a fun scrappy binding might be the ticket if I have enough leftovers. Must go stash-diving!

The second flimsy is my autumn farm girl type sampler. Please excuse the distracting blue low-tack tape holding it up (in addition to pins); it is too large for my design board.  I probably should have just let it hang, but it makes it look wonky. 

I am pretty amazed at how this turned out. You see, some of the original blocks were made 3 (or was it 4?) years ago during the Vintage Farm Girl Quilt-Along. I was learning as I went, and the block sizes ranged from 12 1/8"  to 12 3/4”. They were supposed to be 12 1/2” unfinished. So first, some blocks had to be added to and of course everything trimmed. There went some points. And the 1” sashing didn’t leave much wiggle room. But it got done, slowly, imperfectly. Not a competition-level quilt by any means, but not bad.

Then, since I wanted the leaf fabric of the outer border, of which I only had one yard, to orient with the leaves falling down, the cutting was a challenge. That’s why there are cornerstones - there was not enough fabric without them! And then, when it was all sewn up, I measured the top. And nearly fell over. And measured again. The width at the top and bottom were exactly - EXACTLY - the same. Not an eighth of an inch difference! The length at the two sides had a 1/8" difference, which I don’t even care about. How the heck did THAT happen??? Anyway, if it looks wonky now, get over it. It isn’t!  YAY!!!

My plans are to get these two tops basted this weekend and maybe even quilt one. They are both on my Finish-Along Quarter 4 list, so they will get done before the end of the year!

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I want to thank you all for your thoughtful comments on my post last week about gathering and saving ideas for quilting projects (for the Rainbow Scrap Challenge and quilting in general). And there were many great ideas and comments about scrap and fabric storage, settings, and organization. Thank you all so much!  And be sure to check out the rainbow lineup over at Angela’s So Scrappy blog. It’s Scrappy Saturday, and there are always great ideas and eye candy over there!

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By early in the week, I was digging into my scraps. Since Dark Neutrals (gray, black, brown) are the color of the month at the Rainbow Scrap Challenge, I sorted all the colors and decided to play with the browns first.

First I made twelve 4.5” (unfinished) bow tie blocks. This brings me to 214 made of 304 needed. I’ll probably do a few dark gray and black ones, but these will carry over into next year.

And then I whipped out the brown strings and made four 8.5” string blocks and sewed them together.  

In fact, I sewed all my string blocks together into foursomes (like above) and took an inventory. It appears I have 12 more 8.5” string blocks to make: 2 orange (to finish up an orange foursome), 2 blue (to finish up a blue foursome) , then two more foursomes out of any of either red, green or purple, depending on what the scraps dictate. It would be quick work to finish this by year-end if I didn’t have so much ahead of it in line. But I may get to it by the end of the year. If not, it will finish up in the first quarter of 2018.

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And how fun is this??  Bruce had the day off Friday and we went grocery shopping together. I spotted these Lehi Roller Mills (a local Utah mill and bakery that makes great breads and mixes, etc) items on an end display at our local (Harmon’s) grocery store. What caught my attention? They are all in sacks of Lori Holt Vintage Christmas fabric! Lori, of course, is a local sew-lebrity fabric designer (for Riley Blake fabrics, also a Utah company). So I guess I shouldn’t be surprised at the collaboration. 

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Finally, I asked last week if any of you were participating in the Bonnie Hunter annual Mystery Quilt-Along, On Ringo Lake. It appears that several of us are!  Here is my fabric pull. I decided to go with grays instead of the browns that Bonnie suggested, mainly because I have grays. I could’ve gone out and bought some chocolate brown, but I’d rather use my stash. The grays look good with the colors, and it will all look better in our newly-remodeled living room.

Have a great week, and stay warm!

Friday, November 3, 2017

Rainbow Scrap Saturday

Last week I didn’t recap my pink scrap progress for the Rainbow Scrap Challenge Saturday link-up because I wanted to work right up to the month end.  In the final few days I sewed together my small scraps and crumbs and made 5 blocks of 8.5” (unfinished) which will be saved for use in a future project.  So, now I am ready for my October pink scrappy recap.

The top row upper left is a quilt top I made of 6” vintage sheet squares. It will be finished for donation at a later date.  Then, the RSC pink blocks I made were: 24 Friendship Star variation blocks, 2 selvage columns, 3 bookcase blocks, 21 Plus blocks, 11 string blocks (on was from last year), 5 crumb blocks, 25 bowtie blocks (4.5”) and 3 Geese Migration blocks. My notes also say one miscellaneous block, but I can’t figure out what that is. But no matter, because I’m not counting the vintage sheet quilt top anyway. Total was 95 blocks. Remember, it was a long month!

I also finished two quilts:


Pink Baby Donation Quilt

Then I made 2 doggie pillows for Best Friends Animal Society plus 14 kennel quilts for cats and small dogs. They will all be donated next week. Well, I am holding one back for Darla as she insists that she needs an “office” from which to supervise my work.

October was also good for me in my weight loss efforts. I lost 5.8 pounds, bringing my total to 26 pounds lost since mid-June. It’s slow, but then the weight didn’t appear overnight either. And this is a comfortable lifestyle change, so I am happy with my progress. I overdid it in the exercise department, though. Sheesh, you lose 20-something pounds and think you’ve lost the years along with it! Riding scooters and bikes, mountain hiking and pulling wagons full of kids and pumpkins are things I ought to work up to gradually. My back is taking longer to recover than I’d like, but it’s nothing some ibuprofen and a heating pad won’t fix.

And that brings me to November and our dark scraps. All I’ve managed to do with them so far is get them out and begin sorting. I will be making the final column for my Rainbow Selvages quilt, and maybe some string blocks. And then I’m going to have to find some use for these - maybe just piece something that could be used as a backing for a future donation quilt. We’ll see.

My brother and I scattered my mom’s ashes up in the Wasatch mountains near where we used to picnic when my kids were little. She loved it there. It was a cool but clear day, just beautiful. October 31 - the 11th anniversary of her death. It was also the day of one of my dear friend’s memorial service (in Nebraska). We had just vacationed with her and her husband in September in Colorado, so Colleen was on my mind and in my heart that day too.

Finally, for those of you who visit mostly on Saturdays for the Rainbow Scrap Challenge, I have a link for you HERE to a post I wrote earlier in the week about my process for collecting ideas and sorting through them and my scraps. I hope we all share a curiosity about where others get their ideas and how they select their projects. To say nothing of scrap storage. Anyway, I’d love to have you take a hop over to that post to read not only the post but the comments. And please leave your comments, too!

Have a great, scrappy week!  Is anyone else planning to participate in Bonnie Hunter’s Mystery Quilt this year? Are you going to stick with her color scheme or make changes?

Cathy maroon
Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Planning Quilt Projects for the New Year - The Method to My Madness

It may be true that 2018 is still a couple months off, but when it begins, I’ll be weather-bound indoors in my studio, and I want to hit the ground running with my quilting plans.

For me (and I bet for many of you in the northern hemisphere) the first four months of the year are the best time to churn out finished UFOs of the previous year, experiment with new ideas, embark on new plans, and set the tone for the entire creative year. Once the good weather arrives, our attention gets diverted to the garden, parties, vacations, holidays, etc. And before we know it school days, autumn and holidays are upon us once again.

Do you use Pinterest to save ideas? I’d be lost (and so would a few forests worth of wood and paper) without it. Throughout the year I use Pinterest to save pictures and ideas as I come across them. The ideas are not only for quilting (although I have a dozen or more quilting boards), but also decorating - it was indispensable when we remodeled the living room last year - needlework of many types, travel, recipes and other things that interest me. You can follow me on Pinterest HERE.

Sometimes I will pin two nearly identical quilts if they are in different colorways or have a different setting. The quilt police and Pinterest don’t care. I’m continually adding new ideas and even deleting some now and then (as in “what was I thinking?”)  I also have a locked board (meaning only I can see it) called Rainbow Scrap Challenge ideas. That’s where I pull ideas from all my other boards as future project possibilities. I highly recommend setting up your own boards, organize them how you like, and refer to them often. Another great source of quilty ideas is Pinterest user Dorte Rasmussen. She has thousands of pins organized into dozens scores of quilt boards. For antique quilts alone she has 4 boards with a total of over 2300 pins. A.MA.ZING. If you can’t find inspiration there, please check your pulse.

Sometimes as we’re visiting blogs or surfing online, we can't pin a picture to Pinterest. In that case I’ll try to bookmark the idea (like on Instagram, which has a function that will let you do that) or even on my iPad. Check your device to see if it has a bookmark or other function to save that picture to a file.

And don’t forget the hard (paper) resources - books and magazines. Naturally, those get physical bookmarks which I review at least a couple times a year. It’s nice to revisit their content and at the same time weed out things you no longer love.

Sometime in the fall I begin sorting through the pictures (paper and virtual) from all my sources with an eye toward getting them together in one place - the Rainbow Scrap Challenge folder that resides on my computer desktop. Some ideas have come close to being chosen several years (multi-colored spool blocks come to mind), but never make the final cut.

An idea gets double merit if it appears more than once or if it is a bucket list item that I can combine with another idea. Past bucket list goals that I’ve accomplished through the Rainbow Scrap Challenge (RSC) have been using vintage sheets, using selvages, and making a Dresden quilt. 

Often I defer items on my Bucket List because my skill set hasn’t grown to include it yet. The best example of this for me is the Storm at Sea pattern. It may be easier than I think, but for now I’m not comfortable tackling it. Maybe in 2019…..

So now you know where I get my ideas. What about you? Where do your ideas come from? Do you, like me, lust after 80% of what everyone else is doing in the RSC? I am ALWAYS pinning your ideas for consideration! Just this year I’ve seriously considered Scrap Jar Stars, Burgoyne Surrounded, Talking Turkey, HSTs with pinwheels, and Lady of the Lake. They will not be part of my 2018 plans, but they’re all still in my Pinterest files and on my Bucket List!


Let’s talk about our scraps themselves, because they play an important role in what projects we take on. Do you sew your RSC projects with ONLY scraps? Or are you willing to cut into an old FQ or (gasp!) yardage to supplement your work? Kudos to those who have enough scraps to last them until the Second Coming, for their cups overfloweth. But for the rest of us, I bet we go to scraps first, but then are not above using other fabrics as needed. Nothing wrong with that! And what do we consider scraps to be, anyway? For me, scraps are anything less than a full FQ or maybe larger if it’s an odd-sized leftover from something.

Do you cut your scraps down into certain sizes? If so, how? Personally, I don’t cut scraps down into strips when they are first assigned scrap status, but I do get rid of unusable areas, selvages (saved separately), and thready edges. That way the scraps can be cut into strings, squares, triangles, etc. when and as needed. There is no right way or wrong way, just what works best for you.

A final question about scraps for you -  do you save other forms of fabric - shirts, vintage sheets, etc. How do you cut and store (and use)  them?


When planning Rainbow Scrap Challenge projects, do you consider the SIZE of your scraps (as opposed to just the quantity)? This year I planned too many projects that required 2.5” scraps; Friendship Stars, Plus blocks, Geese Migration and Bowties. It wasn’t a mistake, per se, it’s just that I had to cut so much fabric down to that size. Too many projects were competing for the same size scraps. I had lots of strings and crumbs to use up in miscellaneous blocks (slabs) or to save for later. If I’d planned a project that used larger size pieces, (like my 2016 Dresdens or Cats) and fewer 2.5” projects, I could’ve cut those first and not had so much cutting. Live and learn.

Like this year, the first quarter of the next year will see me finishing up any of this year’s flimsies (Rainbow Selvages, The Plus Quilt and Friendship Stars) that haven’t been quilted and bound by the end of this year. And in 2018 I will be working to finish 3 ongoing RSC projects: Geese Migration, BowTies, and my Rainbow Strings and will need to factor those into my plans. Do you only have certain colors you need to fill in the blanks? I’ve made a special note to sew and cut those first when the 2018 RSC starts.

Ultimately, I will probably choose another 2-3 Rainbow Scrap projects. Also, I remember Angela mentioning that she and Mari of The Academic Quilter have an (optional) RSC Challenge quilt they’re planning for us. We may need to save room on our plates for that!  
The hardest part for me is always the CHOOSING what to work on. I like having a full pipeline of activity, from the planning stage to the binding stage. Luckily, I have a few more weeks before I have to make those hard final decisions!!

I hope that if you’ve read this far you will add your ideas and comments so that others in the RSC can read them. I will link to this post in our Saturday (Nov 4) link-up. Some final questions and/or Food for Thought: Have you begun to plan for 2018 projects, including the RSC? What do you do with your smallest scrap crumbs? Do you use a planner of some sort? How do you keep track of your RSC projects and WIPs?

Quilty Hugs,
Cathy maroon
Friday, October 27, 2017

Roll Up the Pink Carpet

Wait! Don’t really roll up the pink carpet - I’m not done playing with my pink scraps!

Do you ever set up unrealistic goals for yourself? Of course, we all have (or do) at one time or another. This week my goal was to finish up the quilting on a couple quilts (done), sew the last block for my autumn quilt and sash the quilt (block made) and finish up my pink scraps. HA! That last one gave me a bit of trouble, especially since I hurt my back last week and was forced to slow down, rest, use a heating pad and Ibuprofen to get through it. Which I did. Result? Lots to share, but more pink work over the next several days.....

First, I quilted and bound Reading Rainbow!! Back in June I finished my Crayon Quilt, which was my first Rainbow Scrap Challenge quilt of 2017. But Reading Rainbow has been the most fun, most anticipated and the biggest achievement for me. And I love it!

Rather than go into all the details again, you can read about it HERE in a blog post I did earlier this week.

After Reading Rainbow, I finished quilting a pink baby quilt which will go into the charity pile. Here is that one, front and back.

This pink quilt with the fun polka dot sashing measures 37x50”.  It used up a lot of pink scraps, both front and back (below).  There’s that cute penguin fabric again from Diann at Little Penguin Quilts. I saved the lion’s share of it to pet and fondle for a future use.

And then I finally drafted a very basic 12” barn block and sewed that up. Here it is, in all its wonky barn-ness.

So that finishes up the Autumn Quilt blocks. Thank goodness. Over the coming week they will be sashed. Who knows, I may get even farther along, but the remaining pink gets priority under the needle. Remaining pink scraps? Yeah, there’s more. In fact, I cut the last of my pink and pastel vintage sheets into 6” blocks and pieced this charity-baby-quilt-to-be. It’s pinned on the design board OVER the autumn blocks, so if there are shadows from the back, that’s why....

This will be quilted and bound this week too. Hopefully. And then I have all my other bits and pieces of pink. Some of those will be made into slabs for kennel quilts (this week?), and others will be made into some small scrappy blocks for a future, undetermined project. No lack of work to do here..... So, I’m saving my pink scrappy recap until next week.

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I’ve been giving some thought to my 2018 Rainbow Scrap Challenge projects, as I bet many of you have. Later in the week I plan to do a post on how and where I save ideas and then sort through them to finally determine - and keep track of - my projects for the coming year.  I hope you’ll join me for that, because I’d love to hear how YOU do it. Maybe we can all glean some useful ideas, creative and organizational, from each other!

Linking up to:
Rainbow Scrap Challenge/Scrappy Saturday
Oh Scrap!

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Reading Rainbow Quilt Finished!

I am so thrilled that I finished my Reading Rainbow quilt this weekend! It has been 10 months in the works - since we started with purple in January for the Rainbow Scrap Challenge. Every month I’ve added blocks of books in the color of the month according to a plan I drew out ahead of time.

The quilt was constructed with 5 12” blocks per row. Some rows, like green, orange, and yellow are all one color - because I had more of those scraps in my stash. Other rows combine colors like purple and black, red and pink, and teal and blues. And here and there I tried to add in little whimsical bits of interest; a mouse, a fishbowl, a globe, flowers, etc. All designs were pulled from my warped own imagination except that awesome Laurel Burch cat on the yellow row.

The “wood” shelves are 2” (finished) wide and the outer borders were cut at 3”. Even the back has the same Joel Dewberry woodgrain fabric, except where I had to supplement with a plain Kona gray. My husband Bruce was kind enough to haul a chair out to our colorful flowering pear tree in front. He graciously stood on the chair holding the quilt so I could snap pictures.

The finished quilt measures 66x86”. The batting is Warm & Plush cotton (my favorite), and I used a basic stipple quilting pattern. No surprise there, but there was a method to my madness. Let me show you.

The book titles were taken from fabric selvages. Most of the time, but not always, selvages are woven more tightly than the fabric itself in order to prevent fraying on the bolt. And that is one of the reasons we trim selvages - they will shrink (or not) at different rates than the main fabric. When I sewed on the selvages, I reduced my the stitches on my machine to a 1.0 length - very tiny. That doesn’t guarantee that there won’t be fraying; I fully expect that there will be fraying over the first couple washings to those seam lines.

So that’s where the stippling came in. It was another opportunity to go over the selvages with more stitches, as Alfie points out here...

And here....


It appears my Supervisor got a bit sidetracked with the camera strap ....

Now, where were we? Oh yes..... stippling. So, all in all, it seemed to make the most sense and give me the best maneuverability to get everything secured as best I could.

Reading Rainbow will be my own quilt to “read” and cuddle with this winter. It also represents a finish for the 4th Quarter 2017 Finish-Along. It is my goal #3. The link to my list is here

Thanks for dropping by! I will show another finish (a pink baby quilt) on my next post and catch you up with my other works in process.

Cathy maroon
Friday, October 20, 2017

Tickled Pink with Sewing!

My pink sewing priority for this week was to finish up my Friendship Star (variation) blocks. The scraps and I just cruised along for a day or two, and in the end there were 24 of these 6” blocks. I now have 162 blocks and only need 136 to finish the quilt. The leftovers will either go on the back or into the “Parts Department”.

My tentative layout calls for concentric rings of colors, but some rings will have combined colors (like red/orange). I have to see how it’s going to look all laid out before I make a final decision. And this won’t happen until November anyway. In the meantime, I’m linking up to Scrappy Saturday at Angela’s So Scrappy Blog. Come see the pink fun for this month - and why not consider joining us for the Rainbow Scrap Challenge in 2018?
Also linking up to Oh Scrap! over on Cynthia’s blog.

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This week I also worked on my Autumn quilt, finishing up four of the final five 12” blocks.  First, there was the crow, a Lori Holt pattern.  Secondly was the turkey, of which I have no picture.

Next was the Schoolhouse, also a Lori Holt pattern (free on her blog, HERE).

And then there was the requisite SQUIRREL block, courtesy of Sally at The Objects of Design. Sally didn’t have a formal pattern written for her cute squirrel, but did have a line drawing here that she gave me permission to use.

I needed to convert it to a 12” block so decided to make the tail bushier. And I’ll be honest, I’m not half as talented as Sally in the design department - I don’t like my squirrel as much as hers. He still needs an eye sewn on, and his haunches/leg is rather unwieldy with the changes I had to make. I may “operate" on the back part of his leg to remove some of the obvious cellulite from eating too many acorns. .

The final block will be a barn block, then all 20 will be done and ready for sashing. The last time I showed some blocks with sashing, I used a brown grid fabric seen briefly here. Well, it just did absolutely nothing for the blocks, and I discarded that idea. So now I have switched to the 1.5” mustard strips that I originally cut (then rejected) for my Scrap X+plosion quilt here. I like this color with the bright autumn blocks much better.

I’m also auditioning fabrics for a border, because the 1” sashing only yields a quilt that is 53x66, too small for a lap quilt. The border size will depend on how much of the chosen border fabric I’ll have, but I’m hoping for a 4-5” border. Possibilities so far include the orange and yellow in the left of the above picture, and the leaf print shown below that I picked up in Colorado last month. I like the leaf one best, but I’m not sure if it is bright enough to hold its own as a border....

Chances are that once I have the blocks all sewn and sashed (a goal for the coming week), I will have several other possibilities to pick from and may be asking your opinion!

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And finally, I have basted with feline supervision Reading Rainbow.  I sewed a backing, then cleared the tables (a feat in itself) and got to work. Of course once this happens....

 then THIS is never far behind:

We’re here to supervise the basting, Mom!!
Alfie was pretty miffed at first when he discovered that I had put a mouse on the quilt. But he got over it once I agreed to his demand: an extra large safety pin right near the mouse’s butt.

And then Alfie began feeling frisky. See how his rear leg is up in the picture below? He kicks it in a frenzied manner whenever he gets excited. But the mouse wasn’t moving and he eventually lost interest. And I was able to finish basting the quilt.

Beginning today and over the next week I plan to quilt Reading Rainbow and the pink scrappy baby quilt I threw together last week. And then I’d like to sew the 12” barn block and assemble the autumn quilt top. After that - and thank goodness my calendar isn’t full like it was this week - there are lots of pink scraps left to sew into blocks or slabs for possible kennel quilts or ??? I may post mid-week if I have a finish or two to share.

Make it a great week!

Cathy maroon