I've been quiet on the blogging front lately because I've unfortunately had a lot of family emergencies this year - deaths, serious medical issues, and hospitalizations. This week my grandfather has had two heart attacks.

I'm trying to make him a quilt but I'm a bit overwhelmed handling everything right now. If anyone has the time and is able to make a block for it, I'd be incredibly appreciative. He's never had any medical problems before (barely even a cold all his life) and it's hitting the family very hard.

I'm looking for star blocks in soothing blues and neutrals. I'm making 12.5in unfinished (12in finished) blocks right now but blocks that finish at 6in, 12in, or 18in would also work.

If you're able to contribute a block, just leave a comment or send an email and I'll get in touch with you to give you my mailing address - you're also welcome to repost this elsewhere. Good wishes and thoughts also very much welcomed. Thank you!

On a brighter note, my grandmother (other side of the family) is finally out of the hospital after a very bad fall. She'll be in physical therapy for quite some time but it's encouraging that she's been able to go home. I'd just finished this quilt top for her before the news about my grandfather, and hopefully will be able to baste and quilt it soon.

Linking up to WIP Wednesday and Let's Bee Social.

As I write this I'm having breakfast in this charming hotel in Cork, Ireland that looks like it's straight out of a Ghibli movie. There's even a little waterfall in the back next to the cafe!

I spent my first few days in Ireland in Dublin. The first thing I did was go out and play music in a pub called Cobblestone, which is a very famous traditional Irish folk music ("trad") bar north of the River Liffey. Trad is played in sessions in bars, which are sometimes run by a musician who regularly attends but will be a mix of anyone local who wants to sit down and play. 

(Can you make out the pub? It's towards the left off in the distance, with a red sign.)

I brought my fiddle to Ireland to sit and play in sessions like this one above at McHughes. 

I also visited galleries and museums in Dublin! The National Gallery has several branches (art, archaeology, natural history, clothes found in peat bogs - yes really!) and most are in downtown Dublin with free admission. 

After Dublin I headed south to Cork on a beautiful, scenic train ride. 

After spending a couple days in Cork I'll be heading out to the west coast. 

I had every intention of writing and queuing up quilting blog posts for while I was on vacation, but I'm afraid this is one of those "life gets in the way" moments - my grandmother took quite a bad fall off a second story balcony shortly before I left for Ireland, and everything on my to-do list went out the window. (She'll be alright eventually, but she's broken quite a few things and will be in physical therapy for months; keep her in your thoughts please.)

For the time being I'll be posting every so often from Ireland, and then when I get home early September we'll return to your regularly scheduled quilt blogging! I've got a long to-do list of WIPs to tackle.   

I've finally made my fabric selections for the 2015 Midnight Mystery Quilt-Along being run by Cheryl of Meadow Mist Designs. I've gone with four Cotton and Steel fabrics from different collections. The mystery quilt is a new challenge for me in that I don't know what the final design will be, and I've decided to take that one step further and go with a color palette very far from my comfort zone. 

This color palette is bold and masculine, and I suspect at the end of the quilt-along this quilt may be destined for my cousin Will, a stage and lighting designer who just moved out to the midwest.

If you are interested in joining the Mystery Quilt-Along, the details are here. Cheryl will be sending out a new set of instructions for the quilt each month from June 2015 to March 2016 to keep us on our toes so that the final quilt is a surprise. It's never too late to join in! 

Have you ever done a quilt-along? Was it with a local quilting group, or online?

Hello! I'm Eileen, and I'm excited to be part of the 2015 New Quilters Blog Hop. I'm fortunate enough to have a day job that allows me to be creative, doing illustration and freelance art for various clients in NYC. I mainly work in children's media including card games and comics. I've always loved to play with blocks of color and patterning; last year I illustrated and published a book of fashion art that got me interested in fabric patterns and prints.

Since I grew up with a grandmother who lovingly made us all quilts, it wasn't a very big jump from there to learning to sew myself!

I began my first quilt in the fall of 2014, and it's been an interesting learning curve to say the least! I'm very grateful for the internet as a whole and the quilt blogging community for all the invaluable advice and support I've received already. Without all of the great tutorials that are out there, I suspect I'd have given up midway through my first (regrettably queen sized, as I don't do things by halves) quilt.

I started blogging to keep a record of what I'd made, and also to connect to other quilters since it's not a community I have much access to offline. NYC is great and we do have some incredible fabric shops, but quilting is not the most common hobby here!

I haven't made many quilts yet, but I can see how much I've improved already - mainly in speed and confidence as I learn shortcuts from other bloggers. These are the quilts I've finished thus far:

It is incredibly satisfying to be able to see myself improving! I'm becoming more comfortable not only with basics but also with experimenting already Sewing feels almost like meditation to me - I can just sink into the zone when I'm working with fabric.

One of the most useful tools I've found since I started blogging was the Pin It! extension for my browser - if you use Chrome, this extension gives you a little button to automatically pin an image to your Pinterest boards whenever you hover over it. This lets me quickly add pins even if a blogger's website doesn't have a built in Pinterest button on their images. I've also started tagging my photos in Adobe Lightroom, which I use to edit them; this allows me to search my photos as if I'm using blog tags and quickly find anything I need on my computer.

The biggest tip I have about quilting, though, is that sometimes you just need to trust yourself and go with it.

I had bought a fat quarter pack of Anna Maria Horner's Pretty Potent line when I fell in love with the fabric, and then I spent a few weeks staring at it every time I walked by my sewing table. We all know how it goes: you impulse buy some fabric, swearing you'll save it until the perfect project falls out of the sky into your lap... and then it sits there while you can't properly use or enjoy it.

I realized that what I loved most about this particular fabric was the large scale prints, and that I wanted to be able to look at it and use it every day - so one night I walked by it, turned back around, pulled it all off the shelf and just started slicing into it. I cut large half square triangles to keep the pattern as intact as possible.

It wasn't big enough to be a lap quilt and I'd run out of fabric, so I whipped up a border with some grey solid I had on hand and used the few remaining scraps to make flying geese. The small amount of scrap forced me to get creative, and I enjoy the partial border more than I would have a symmetrical full border of geese, so it worked out!

Do you have fabric sitting in storage that's too precious to cut into? Have you ever changed your mind about a pattern or design part way through and worked what you'd already made into a finished quilt you're even happier with? Or are you the sort of quilter who's happiest if you plan everything out ahead of time?

Some final trivia about me:
  • I love reading, but can't stand audiobooks - I can't focus unless I'm looking at it! I envy those of you who can listen to audiobooks while you sew. I do, however, watch detective shows from behind the sewing machine. My favorite classic detective is Poirot.
  • I read a lot of comics due to my day job. If you've never read comics or graphic novels but are curious, I highly recommend Shaun Tan's "The Arrival." It's a gorgeous, wordless sepia-toned story about an immigrant's life arriving in a new town - a fantasy version of Ellis Island.
  • My dream vacation involves going to Ireland again, and I'm making it happen later this summer! I've been playing traditional Irish folk music on the fiddle for the last 20 years, so I'm going to be traveling to a lot of small towns to play music and study with a violin maker. I can't wait!
For fun, I'll leave you with a video of me playing an Irish reel called Maudabawn Chapel.

I'm part of the New Bees group headed by Cheryl of Meadow Mist Designs. Our other hosts this year are Terri Ann of Childlike FascinationYvonne of Quilting Jetgirl, and Stephanie of Late Night Quilter.

Please check out the other bloggers in the hop!

This is the first time I've participated in a swap on Instagram! I enjoyed scoping out my partner's feed and planning out this little quilt. I winged it a bit with this quilt, making a section of flying geese at a time and then moving around the layout as I went until I got something I liked.

Rearranging as I went was fun and freeing - and while my points aren't all perfect, my flying geese definitely improved! I quilted it with quarter inch straight lines using the walking foot as a guide.

I also included these two cute little kitties in amongst the flying geese. I think I hit a good balance of scrappiness through a variety of fabrics while still limiting the color palette and keeping it from becoming too busy. I'm very fond of the backing lightning bolt fabric as well.

I can't wait to do more swaps!

There are also progress photos on my Instagram.

Do you do swaps? If so, how do you find the swaps that interest you?

The first 9 of 25 rainbow cats! I am making Elizabeth Hartman (ohfrannsson)'s cat quilt for my aunt and uncle, who rescue and foster cats. They have bottle fed over 200 abandoned kittens in the past few years. 

The original pattern makes a small, roughly crib sized quilt, so I am going to play with sashing and maybe a border to make this a lap sized throw. 

Also, this was a test mobile post to see how well the Blogger app works! I am not keen on the lack of options (can't select image size, can't center text, can't insert links) but at least it allows me to make posts with photos on the go. I wouldn't recommend it to folks who have access to a regular computer, but it is a good stand-in while on vacation. 

Cynthia over at Quilting is More Fun than Housework is hosting an orphan adoption event to rehome those quilt WIPs and projects we've lost interest in or drive to finish. I hope this becomes a regular event!

I only started quilting a few months ago and don't have abandoned WIPs (yet), but I was very kindly gifted the above quilt patterns along with a fabric order. My taste runs more modern, so I'd love to see these patterns go to a quilter who can properly appreciate them!

1. Bayside Cottage (68 x 86in)
includes patterns for both solid and scrappy versions

2. Civil War Moments (57 x 71in)

3. Vintage Memories (56 x 68in)
Please note that the Vintage Memories pattern requires templates for the feathered star in the center that are not included in the pattern! They are available for sale through the Painted Pony 'n Quilts store, but there is also a diagram of the star in the pattern. I think it would be possible to blow up the diagram on a photocopier and then narrow or widen the yellow border in case of any inaccuracies, or to replace the center star with any other type of star sized to fit the rest of the quilt.

Just leave a comment letting me know which of the pattern(s) you're interested in and the charity or person you'd like to make it for. Please leave your email as well if you are a no reply blogger.  I will choose winner(s) on Saturday June 13 and will draw names if there is more than one person interested in a particular pattern. I'll also ship anywhere in the world for free.

I thought I'd share some of the quilts I've been making progress on. These blocks are for a Good Night Irene quilt out of Denyse Schmidt fabrics. I'm thinking this will be a Christmas present for my cousin and his wife; they were married a little over a year ago and are just settling into their first home together. I want to piece the back so that it can be two quilts in one - probably a star out of fabrics that show their interests (science, music, dance, language).

 These green stars are for a Dallas Stars hockey themed quilt for a friend. I've made all but 11 blocks for the quilt now, saving the paper pieced ones for last.

I haven't been posting much this month because I've been busy planning a trip - I'm going to be in Ireland all of August and I'm setting everything up for it now! I'm enjoying doing a lot of sewing now while I can.

I've just finished a quick new quilt top today; I suddenly wanted to cut into the fat quarters of Anna Maria Horner's Pretty Potent that I had in my stash, and there wasn't really much total yardage so I added the borders from a grey I had on hand and flying geese from the last scraps left. I really enjoyed working on this as the limited amount of the fabric on hand forced me to get creative. I actually love how the grey makes everything pop more, and the partial border is more interesting to me than if I'd had enough fabric to do full rows of flying geese.

Now if only I had any idea how to quilt this! I can't decide on a design.

 It's finally finished - the first quilt I ever started!

The herringbone quilt for my friend Wendy is complete - at about four months after her birthday that it was intended for and just in time for warm weather, whoops, but she absolutely loved it and that's really all that matters.

I hand sewed the final edge on the binding for this quilt, which was a first for me. I do like the effect better than machine sewing even if it is time consuming. Many episodes of Poirot were watched in the final stretch of binding.

I ended up only using the green thread and quilting a simple quarter inch grid to keep the fabric center stage, and used a cute mint and white polka dot sheet I found at Target for the backing.

I surprised Wendy with the quilt during a picnic with friends at the Brooklyn Botanical Garden. If you are ever in NYC I recommend visiting; the gardens are breathtaking, particularly the Japanese koi pond and shrine. They have a cherry blossom festival every year as well.

Unfortunately I've been playing violin so many hours that I've caused myself some wrist and arm strain, so I'm taking it easy for a few days! I've had some therapeutic taping done to help reduce muscle strain and pain that is making it feel a lot better and they were nice enough to color coordinate it with my outfit:

Linking up with Finish It Up FridayTGIFFLink A Finish Friday and Can I Get a Whoop Whoop.

So I was a few days late finishing up my April goal, but hopefully May will go a bit smoother!

My goal for May is to finish at least three Swoon blocks. I am making a large Swoon quilt for my grandparents who are moving out to the east coast near me and into an assisted living facility. All of the Swoon blocks for this quilt will have at least one fabric that reminds me of my grandparents, including a lot of midwestern motifs; they've been splitting time between Iowa and Arizona for the last few years.

They're both very sad to be moving away from their home but my grandmother is having some health difficulties and we wanted them to be closer to family, so they'll be a town over from my aunt and cousins, and just two hours from me by train which I am so glad for. I've been worried about them many hours away by plane because it would be so difficult for us to get out there quickly - and now I'll be able to see them more than once a year.

They have been married for over 65 years now and my grandfather still takes her dancing every week! They're still so in love all these years later.

My grandmother taught me to sew when I was little. I didn't stick with it at the time, but I've always respected her quilts and all the little decorations she's made for me over the years. Some day I will have to photograph them all properly so I can share them. She made every one of her six grandkids a quilt as a high school graduation present.

My graduation quilt is on my bed right now, claimed by Her Royal Highness the cat.

I've finally finished the top for the herringbone (which I've been mistakenly calling chevron) quilt.

This quilt top was made from several charm packs of Moda Into the Woods and Bella Solids White Bleached turned into HSTs. It measures 18 by 22 squares and I'll have to get an assistant to hold it up when finished for some better photos as it's rather difficult to lay out in my small apartment.

Finishing this quilt is my April goal for ALYoF; I'm hoping to have it basted this weekend.

I'm planning to quilt a quarter inch straight line grid around all the squares in this mint green thread, then outline a chevron across every few rows in the red to add some detail and make the design pop. (I suspect I'm going to need more thread!) The red polka dots will be the binding.

I can't wait to get this finished off and finally gifted to my friend! It's a very late birthday present indeed as her birthday was about three months ago.

Last weekend I showed some of my comics and illustration work at a convention in Manhattan called MoCCAfest; I had a great experience selling my work and meeting other artists. I had some short comics with me and also an art book I did last year about NYC street fashion.

I shared a table space with the friend the herringbone quilt is for and two lovely girls visiting from New Zealand, one of whom had never been to the US before; we had met them through the comics community on twitter and offered them table space when their previous arrangement fell through. They're staying in the US for a few weeks so we are making a lot of fun plans to show them around.

I also made a short doodle comic about my cat including some scenes that fellow quilters may find very familiar:

Linking up with WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced and Let's Bee Social at Sew Fresh Quilts.

Back to working on the first quilt I ever started, which is my ALYoF goal for April!

The points definitely aren't perfect, but it's not too bad for the first time sewing in over a decade and my first start at a quilt. This quilt is 18 squares across and 22 rows down using Moda's Into the Woods charm pack. I've had all the rows sewn and numbered for a couple weeks. Today I sewed the top 13 rows together. 

I haven't decided yet if I want to quilt this with a pale mint green that will be subtle against the white or if I want to go bright with a cherry red. I'll be straight line quilting this, though, probably in a horizontal zigzag.

I've got a busy week for my day job so I don't anticipate much time for quilting the next few days. I'm a freelance artist and I've got new comics that I worked on launching at a convention this weekend, so I'm currently finishing up everything for my con table. 

I'm a bit late to the party, but I'm joining in A Lovely Year of Finishes to try and get some of my WIP quilts finished. This chevron quilt was intended for a friend's birthday in January and it's now very late, so my April goal is to finish this quilt.

I'm also going to extend ALYoF since I started late - I still want to get 12 projects completed between now and the end of 2015. To that end, I'm going to get the simpler blocks finished for a Dallas Stars hockey quilt I'm making for a friend. All of the single patch and four patch blocks should be finished by the end of April, leaving me with just the stars and the paper pieced blocks to do in May.

Linking up with ALYoF.