Monday, 9 October 2017

Long time, no write...

Perusing my posts, I realized that it's been over 2 months since I last posted. It's not that I haven't been doing anything, but I just haven't made the time to write about it. So here goes...
First, I got a new cat from Amazon. 
Actually, this is just Mystery trying out one of the boxes from the many parcels I receive, between Amazon, Sew Sisters and Craftsy. 
I've been working on the quilt blocks for a Canada 150 quilt (better late than never), but I'll share those in a separate post. I've also been honing my Play-Doh skills with my grandson. 
I made my grandson a crocheted dinosaur, 

exercised (with help from my cats), 

started a fall-themed afghan for my daughter, 
started a bargello quilt for National Sew a Jelly Roll day, 
bought myself an Instant Pot 
and tried it out 
Lentils, Broccoli Mashed Potatoes and Carrots
again 
Butternut Squash Risotto
and again, 
Pressure Cooker Vegan Chili

watched the birds migrate, 



found out I have degenerative disk disease, 
Sitting in the doctor's waiting room - she'd been delayed

started a Tunisian crochet afghan out of Red Heart Super Saver Stripes, Bright (love this colour scheme), 

started to clean and sanitize the cold storage room,

which is not done yet because I discoverd that a mouse or mice had gotten in there, and I had to fill holes where they might have entered with spray-in foam insulation,
watched the seasons change
October 1, 2017

from one day to the next,
October 2, 2017

started sprouting some carrot tops for my grandson to see,
and saw the beginning of Christmas decorations at Walmart before it was even Thanksgiving. 
Paw Patrol Inflatable Christmas Lawn Ornament
As you can see, I've started several projects, without finishing many, so I'd better go and get back to work. 

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Janet's Flower Garden


I believe that I've mentioned before that I dislike it when I'm crocheting in the round, and the pattern says, "You will notice the edge is starting to curl up at this stage. Don't worry, it will work itself out over the next few rounds." Or worse yet, "You will need to block it at this point to make it lie flat." For all the crochet - and knitting - projects I've done over the years, I've only ever blocked a few. I think I was still a teenager when I made an afghan for a friend's baby. The instructions said to block it so I did, though I'm not really certain why I was doing it. And I honestly don't think I needed to. I was just following instructions. Then there was the cowl I made with Charisma yarn. It was so stiff that I tried washing it to see if it would soften up, and blocking it afterwards. It didn't help. I also tried blocking the loom-knitted scarf that I made for my ex because it kept rolling up like a sausage. Blocking really didn't help that much either. (You can see both of these projects in this post). And then, of course, there are these round afghans... I really don't think that you should have to block to make crocheted circles lie flat. Years ago, I cut something out of somewhere (a magazine?) that told how to make crochet circles lie flat. It's just a matter of adding enough stitches per round. It shouldn't really be that difficult. Okay, I know that certain patterns require a certain number of stitches in order for the pattern to work out evenly. But crocheters have been making doilies for generations (and I still haven't figured out why), and they lie flat. And they have lovely, fancy patterns that work out evenly. Were people just better at math and therefore pattern development back in the "olden days" when people actually used doilies? I really don't know, but I do find it irksome. 
But with this particular afghan pattern (Queen Mandala Throw by Annamarie Esterhuizen), I found that I had to make too many adaptations to make it work. It's not that I can't follow directions - I just don't like to have to keep forcing things to work. I'm not a pattern designer, and I have a lot of respect for those who do develop patterns. But they need to work. And I feel sorry for inexperienced crocheters, who may end up thinking it's just them and not the pattern. I would really hate to see someone give up on crocheting before they really even got started because of a faulty pattern.  
So, this afghan was getting plenty big enough, and I was plenty frustrated enough, and I decided to start squaring it off. Once I got it reasonably square, I finished it off, mostly using directions from another afghan pattern (Sophie's Universe by Dedri Uys), and finally adding a butterfly on each corner, with directions (which I also had to adapt) from a youtube video. 
So I took it out this afternoon for its photo shoot.  And sooner than post all of the individual photos, I will share the video I made on Google.  
I keep trying to accomplish my goal of finishing all of my WIPs and UFOs before starting anything new, but there's always another "must do" popping up... At least I'm glad this one's finished. 

Thursday, 3 August 2017

Antique Mall Field Trip

I was checking something on my blog the other day, and realized that it's been quite some time since I posted anything. So, first an update: the sciatica is much better, thank the Lord, but not totally healed. That will just take time. My leg still aches, sometimes worse than others. And the pain continues to migrate: sometimes the knee, sometimes the shin, sometimes, the thigh, the hip, the whole leg. I continue to exercise. I don't think that I've mentioned before that sometimes when I lie flat on my back, I get dizzy/nauseated (I assume due to Meniere's). And a lot of exercises for sciatica are done lying flat on your back. Earlier in this whole sciatica thing, I was limited in how much exercise I could do, not just because of the pain, but also because of the dizziness and nausea. Then not only did the pain improve, but so did the dizziness and nausea, so I was able to complete my whole regimen of exercises (given to me by 4 different physiotherapists). Recently however, nausea has returned with a vengeance. So, I took my sister's advice and took a half tablet of Gravol (she actually takes a quarter when her Meniere's flares up), which might have provided some relief. Another thing I noticed is that the nausea is worse if I don't use a pillow. This morning, I did some of my exercises while still in bed without any noticeable nausea. Okay, must use a pillow, at the very least...
So today I took my hearing aids in for servicing, had lunch and then went on a field trip to Rocky Mountain Antique Mall. I have been looking for a ladder to display my quilts and afghans in my living room. And the antique mall had several in the parking lot, but none that was really what I was looking for. Most of them were much too long. There was one that was 7 feet, but the rungs were only 13" across. I considered a wider one, but it was about 10 feet long. I would have had to have caution flags on it as it would have hung over the end of my truck. I thought about sawing off the excess right there and then (and one of the staff offered to let me use a vintage handsaw), but I really wanted any trimming to be done where I could measure and do it properly. <sigh> So I'm still considering. 
While I was there, I figured I might as well peruse the entire mall - an ambitious undertaking for someone who still has some challenges walking without pain. But I did it (not without pain, however). The first items I noticed in the parking lot were these: 
Two khaki - and therefore I assume military - stretchers. Now these are in good shape - much too good for them to have harkened back to the Second World War. Nevertheless, they are military stretchers, and my father was a stretcher bearer during WWII. And I got a catch in my throat and it nearly brought tears to my eyes. Miss you, Dad.

In addition to the ladders and stretchers, I found this in the parking lot: 
Isn't that a terrible thing to do with a vintage quilt - use it to line the back of an old shelf (or whatever this is)? That shelf doesn't look like it was worth salvaging, let alone waste a vintage quilt on.
Just inside the door, I found this: 
A whole box of intact button cards - from when? The 30s? I'm not sure, and didn't notice if the tag said. Look at those colours! I actually have some of the same buttons in my button tin that came from my mother or grandmother. 
Here's a vintage blanket (quilt) rack: 
An adorable sewing box: 
Wouldn't this be a great chair to "stage"  your favourite quilt in?
I could hardly believe when I saw these pot menders were from my hometown! Unfortunately the flash made it difficult to read the words: "Assembled at Friendco Sheltered Workshop, St. Thomas, Ont." I remember Friendco, or the Friendship School as it was also known. It was for the developmentally disabled.
I don't remember the story behind it (if I ever knew), but in my family a dressform like this was referred to as "Dumb Dora." 
It was cheaper than the new one I bought for my daughter, and she probably would have liked the vintage one better. 
A yarn winder:
Another vintage quilt, only this one is being sold as a quilt and not being used as the backing for a shelving unit:
One of those built-in ironing boards - I guess you could fit it between the studs. Kind of a cool idea, actually. 
I had one of these orange tractors when I was a child, and I remember it with great fondness. But I didn't scribble on mine. And I highly doubt that my parents paid the amount this vendor is asking.
For the John Deere fans in the family, specifically my grandson and my great nephew, Jake. 
I can't remember the price on this baby. I think it was under $100.

I also saw a Featherweight for $280, but it didn't get its picture taken. 
And finally, what I kept going back to:

Yes, two 1920s black walnut twin beds, going for an amazing price. These interested me far more than the ladders in the parking lot. If I'd known that they would both fit into one of my spare bedrooms, they likely would have come home with me. And think of how well they would show off any quilt placed upon them. Would they look ridiculous in a 1970s house? Never mind - my dream home is one of those big old brick farmhouses in southwestern Ontario. 
I'm going upstairs to measure. 

Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Progress

I'm still at home with sciatica. The worst problem is lack of sleep. I'm lucky to get a couple of hours a night, so not in any shape to be working. I'm sometimes able to grab a nap during the day, but certainly not quality sleep. Some days I'm not motivated to do anything but sit and peruse Instagram. Not showering regularly, so not even going out the door. I feel like I've already missed a good part of the summer, thanks to this sciatica. The latest analgesic is really not any more effective than all the others I've tried. However, I'm now able to do my exercises a little more regularly, so that's progress. The frustrating thing is there are days when I feel like I'm genuinely getting better and then I'll have a day when the pain has gotten worse again. Or a night when I can't sleep at all because I just can't get comfortable. But in between naps and being an Instagram zombie, I have been able to get some work done on some quilts and an afghan. 
Here's Janet's Flower Garden:
I've got 6 more rounds to go to get it finished. Here's a close-up of the last few rounds:
I started working on Damian's Dinosaur Days quilt.
The quilt top is getting close to being finished. Then, while perusing this book,  I got distracted by another project. Seeing the Frame Sashing, I decided to see if this would work with my leftover John Deere fabric to make a quilt for my niece Tara's youngest son, Jake. In the book, the sashing is used to frame a 12" square piece of the feature fabric, resulting in an 18" block with the sashing. I wanted to make 9 blocks, but only had enough fabric for 6. Then I realized I still had a pillow panel,
which I could use for one block. I had to add a border to make it a full 18". 
I still needed a couple more blocks, and didn't want to purchase more fabric, if I could avoid it. So I decided to make a couple of regular quilt blocks with some of the smaller pieces of fabric, and started looking through my library of quilting books to find an appropriate one. In this book,  I found a block called Farm Friendliness. The book provides templates, but this block is so simple and straightforward, that I didn't require them. So, after making sure I had enough fabric for all of the sashing, I made 2 Farm Friendliness blocks.
When I cut out the sashing, I had to make sure to cut half of the parallelograms in the reverse orientation. The book uses solid fabrics, which basically don't have a right or wrong side, so didn't include instructions to reverse half of them. I'm really glad I remembered to do it. Then I had to work on the layout.
Mystery approved.
It's a little more scrappy looking than I normally like my quilts, but I still like it. I think that sashing really looks great with the Farm Friendliness blocks, and if I had more of the fabric I used in them, I might consider making the whole quilt in this block. But the farm equipment in the blue fabric is fairly large and wouldn't work well for smaller pieces. I think I might rearrange the blocks so that the Farm Friendliness blocks are in a straight column with the panel, rather than a diagonal line. I'm hoping to have enough of the solid green to make a 3" border and that will make it a 60" quilt - not bad for using leftover fabrics. Not sure what I'll use for binding, and I'll have to purchase something for the backing. 

I've decided that, in addition to my goal to make at least one quilt with each quilting ruler that I own, I would also like to make at least one project from every book that I own. That will result in a lot of projects, but with this one, I've knocked two books off the list. 
If you're interested, here's the post about the first John Deere quilt, whence came the leftovers for this quilt. 

Saturday, 27 May 2017

On Pain

Celtic Ballad 

I know that there are people in this world that suffer pain on a daily basis. Extreme pain, chronic pain, unrelenting pain. How much of it is alleviated by analgesic medication, I'm really not sure. But after this past week, I have a better picture into their world. 
It started maybe 3 weeks ago when I did a little yard work. Not much - just removing the old stalks from my delphiniums and piling them up. I'm quite out of shape, and have had back pain issues on and off for a good part of my life. And yes, I have about 40 pounds to lose, most of which is on my abdomen, which is very detrimental to back health. So, after doing my little bit of yard work, my back was stiff and achy. Nothing too serious, certainly something I could live with. Not sure exactly what contributed to its worsening. I was working on the quilt top (Celtic Ballad) in the picture that opens this post. It involves some pretty intense appliqué. Those smaller blocks are only 4" square, and the actual appliqués are probably less than 1/2" across. So I spent quite a bit of time hunched over my sewing machine, looking closely to make sure that the stitches landed where they needed to be. For 24 of those blocks. And then there were the branches I loaded up and hauled to the dump. I had trimmed them last fall, but didn't get a chance to remove them before the snow flew. And so my back got worse. I wasn't in agony, as I told my chiropractor when I visited him on the Thursday before Victoria Day weekend, but I figured I should get something done about it. 
I had plans for the holiday weekend. No camping trip or vacation, but there's always lots to do around home - cleaning, yardwork - just generally getting things caught up. And, of course, some quilting. I had planned on entering a quilt in each category of the 2017 Pantone Quilt Challenge. I needed to finish the Shamrock Pillow for the small quilt category. The Celtic Ballad quilt top was finished and I had booked time on the longarm at Central Sewing Machines after work on the upcoming Tuesday, so I could finish this quilt to enter in the regular quilt category. But I needed to get the batting and backing ready. I had originally planned on making a Celtic Twist quilt for the top only category, but hadn't even started it yet, and since I had already started the swoon quilt for my sister Judy, and it was in various shades of green, I decided to see if I could finish that one instead. 
Then pain intervened. Instead of getting better, my back pain worsened. And it came mostly in spasms - twisting, wrenching spasms that sometimes caused me to cry out in pain. 
I know what it's like to hobble in pain.
I know what it's like to have a spasm of pain so severe that I felt like my leg might collapse while walking.
I know what it's like to try to figure out the best method to wipe myself after toileting to cause the least pain.
I know what it's like to be afraid to get off the toilet because the act of getting up hurt too much. (Sorry if these last two are TMI). 
I know what it's like to not be able to get down on the floor to play with my grandson.
I know what it's like to be afraid to move because movement brings on the spasms. 
I know what it's like to have a sneeze trigger a back spasm.
I know what it's like to sit on the floor and be afraid I might have to sleep there because I couldn't figure out how to get up again without experiencing the pain. (I was watching a youtube movie on my TV. The volume was really low on the movie, even though I had the TV volume maximized, so I had foolishly decided to sit on the floor to be closer to the TV). 
I know what it's like to drop something on the floor and have to leave it there because it would be too painful to pick it up. 
I know what it's like to try to maximize efficiency to minimize movement. When I crouched down to fill the dry cat food bowl, I picked up the canned cat food bowl while I was down there, so that I could fill it.
I know what it's like not to shower or dress because those activities require too much movement, and movement causes pain. Try putting on socks when you have back pain.
And I know what it's like to have a physical disability (even though temporary) prevent me from doing the things I'd planned. I couldn't clean or do yard work. I paid my daughter to mow my lawn. I couldn't clean out the cold storage room or defrost the freezer. I couldn't vacuum out the truck. 
Not only did the pain collapse my plans for the weekend, but I missed a whole week of work. And, of course, there was no way I could get Celtic Ballad quilted. While I did have some times of no or less pain, that would have required nearly 3 hours of driving round-trip to get there, plus a couple of hours of mostly standing to get the quilting done. And while I could stand for short periods, I am certain that the long drive and too much standing would not have benefited my back - if I could even manage to get into the truck, not to mention shower and dress first. Plus I couldn't count on not having a spasm of pain that would result in really strange quilting patterns. 😕 So, yes, I'm disappointed that I will not have an entry for the regular quilt category in the Pantone quilt challenge. 
Celtic Ballad quilt top, with batting, backing, pantograph and thread all ready to go the longarm studio

Ironically, I have still been able to sew. I use a bar stool for sewing, which may seem weird, but you can read more about that here. It's high, so it's easy to get out of without precipitating too much back pain. And it's firm - very little cushion on it - which also makes it easier to get out of, unlike the sofa and chairs in my living room. It actually is the best chair in my house for someone of my height suffering back pain. I rather wish I had one on the main floor as well. One of the recommendations on Web MD for back pain is to change positions every 30 minutes. Simple when you're sewing - you stand up to cut, you sit down to sew, you stand up to iron, without having to move around too much. And occasionally, you go lie down for awhile. And sometimes try to catch up on the sleep you'd lost because it was so painful every time you rolled over at night. 
So, I was actually able to finish the Shamrock pillow and the Swoon quilt top, and enter them in the quilt challenge. And yesterday, I was able to shower and dress and drive to the store for some much needed groceries. And Tylenol Arthritis. Though so far I can't say it helps. Neither did the Ibuprofen I've been trying on and off all week. 
In Home Care, we do an extensive assessment (known as the MDS or the RAI-HC) on our clients on admission, annually and for placement. There's a section on pain, and I couldn't help thinking of it and what my answers would be. 

  • Do you experience pain?
    • No pain
    • Less than daily
    • Daily
    • Multiple times daily (this would be my answer)
  • Rate your pain
    • Mild
    • Moderate
    • Severe
    • Times when pain is excruciating (not sure if I would rate my pain as excruciating, but the spasms were definitely severe). 
  • Does your pain interupt your daily activities?
    • Yes (definitely)
    • No
  • Does your medication control your pain?
    • Yes or no pain
    • Pain present, medication not taken
    • No, the medication does not adequately control my pain (You could only pick one answer, but I would honestly, "No the medication doesn't even touch my pain. I might as well be taking candy because then at least I'd have a sweet taste in my mouth. So for the most part, I just stopped taking it.")
And I'm still afraid of the pain. I'm afraid that when I get up from the chair I'm sitting on right now at my computer desk, I will experience one of those severe spasms. And even if not too severe, the pain has worn me down emotionally to the point where I can't tolerate much of it. I don't want to hurt at all any more. A little bit of achiness, like I'm feeling now just sitting here, may be tolerable, but I want the pain to go away and never return. I want to be able to get up out of this chair and not hurt. 
And eventually, in all likelihood, I will be relatively pain-free again. However, such is not the case for many. There are a lot of individuals who face a future of unremitting pain, which, but for analgesics, would be unbearable, for the duration of their lives. 
My favourite Bible text is probably Romans 8:28. "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose." I'm not sure how lives of unremitting pain can work together for good for those who suffer. I'm not even sure how my experience of pain is going to work for my good. Will it make me more compassionate? Will it motivate me to lose the weight I need to lose? There are many answers we won't know until we get to heaven. But I do know that we have a God who has not and will not forsake us. He is there with us even in the midst of our pain. The end of Romans 8 gives us this assurance, "For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." verses 38 & 39. Furthermore, He has promised us a future in heaven where, "there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away." Revelation 21:4.

Friday, 26 May 2017

Un-squaring Square Quilts

My Beloved's Vineyard (at least I think that's what I'll call it)
I don't like square quilts. Well, actually I don't like square BED quilts, because, after all, the only bed that is more or less square is the king size bed. And most of us don't have one of those. So it's fine to make a square quilt for a king size bed. Square is also fine for a throw quilt. Most of my throw quilts are square. But if you get any bigger than 70", it's really no longer a "throw-sized" quilt then, is it? Just what is an 80" square quilt considered? That's pretty large for a throw, but it certainly wouldn't fit any standard-sized mattress. Here's a table on mattress sizes from The Mattress & Sleep Company


Width x Length
Crib28 x 51"71.1 x 129.5 cm
Half Queen30 x 79 ½"76.2 x 202 cm
Twin/Single38 x 74 ½"96.5 x 189 cm
Twin/Single Extra Long (XL)38 x 79 ½"96.5 x 202 cmAlso known as "Twin Long"
Double/Full53 x 74 ½"134.5 x 189 cmAlso known as "Standard"
Queen RV60 x 74 ½"152.5 x 189 cmCommon in recreational vehicles
Queen60 x 79 ½"152.5 x 202 cm
California King (Western King)172 x 84"183 x 213 cm
King (Eastern King)76 x 79 ½"193 x 202 cmStandard Canadian & American King
Super King285 ½ x 84 ½"217 x 215 cm
Nearly all mattress sizes are rounded up. For example a Twin bed in real-world dimensions is usually 38 x 74" or a Double is 53 x 74". Queen and King are almost always 79 inches long. Most mattresses today are still primarily hand made, which will always lead to variances. Foam mattresses tend to adhere to sizing guidelines more accurately than spring mattresses.
So an 80" square quilt would offer lots of overhang on the sides of a twin bed, a reasonable amount on the sides of a double bed, but insufficient on the ends of either bed. And what about a 90" square quilt - that is definitely not throw-sized! Again, it would have a good overhang on the sides of a queen-sized mattress, but not much on the ends. While I know that a lot of quilt patterns work better with a square design, I just prefer them to actually fit the bed they're made for. A guideline for standard quilt sizes can be found here. Mine tend to fall into the "commercial coverlet" size in this chart, which allows for a generous overhang on all 4 sides. Since most mattresses are now at least 12" deep. my personal preference is to make bed quilts with 15" overhang on all sides. That gives the recipient the option to tuck the quilt in at the bottom and/or tuck it under and over the pillows at the head. 
Double size quilt with generous overhang and pillow tuck
Having said all that, I do find it frustrating when there's a quilt I want to make, but I end up having to figure out how to "un-square" it - how to make it a more appropriate size for a bed. I had to do that with this swoon quilt. It actually called for 9 blocks, for a 90" square quilt. It's from the Craftsy Pre-Cut Piecing Made Simple Class. (Use of this link to purchase the class will give me a commission). I am making this one for my sister, Judy, for her 65th birthday, which was nearly 3 years ago. 😁 And she has a queen-sized bed. 
I think this block is awesome, and I really appreciate all of the work Camille Roskelly into designing and making it "user-friendly," but I didn't want a 90" square quilt. Judy may be short, but her bed isn't, so I didn't want her quilt to be either. Fortunately, I had purchased 2 packs of 12 fat quarters - each block requires 2 different fat quarters - so I had enough to make 12 blocks. I had to play around a little with my math, and ended up with a quilt top approximately 90 x 111". I had to add an extra border on the sides, using up some of the HSTs I made from the flying geese trimmings. 
Swoon quilt on my queen-size bed: generous overhang on 3 sides, plus a pillow tuck on the head end.

This is a large (24") and rather labour-intensive block. On the 6th block, I more-or-less kept track of my time. Not including cutting time, it took me 2 hours. And likely it took me much longer for the first block or two. And the actual cutting is the more labour-intensive part. It's not simple, straightforward cuts. And if your fat quarters are not perfect, you might end up without enough fabric for the Fabric 1 cuts. It's a very tight fit. Fortunately for me, I had 2 fat quarters of each fabric - one I would use as Fabric 1 in one block and the other as Fabric 2 in another block. The Fabric 2 cuts did not require the entire fat quarter, so I was able to take the necessary Fabric 1 cuts from the second fat quarter for at least a couple of the blocks where I ran short. Otherwise, I would have been very frustrated. I ended up cutting all of my fat quarters out together to make sure I had enough of each. 
If you plan on making this quilt, unless you want a scrappy look, I recommend that you use yardage instead of fat quarters. I think it will make the cutting much more efficient and you won't end up running short. 
By the time I finish this quilt, I guestimate it will have taken me at least 50 hours. Even at Alberta's current minimum wage of $12.20/hour, that would be $610 for labour alone. And I think I'm worth more than minimum wage! 
By the way, I'm entering this quilt top in the 2017 Pantone Quilt Challenge. So head on over to No Hats in the House or Bryan House Quilts to check out the entries. 
Here you get to see some of my apple blossoms, along with the quilt.

Sunday, 21 May 2017

45 Country Quilting Projects

It's a holiday weekend and I had great plans for getting lots accomplished at home: yardwork, housework, etc. But then my back decided to go out without me, and my ability to get much done went out the window. I will be paying my daughter to mow my lawn, and that's about the extent of any physical labour that will be accomplished around here. I was able to finish stitching the binding on this pillow and that means it's done. 
My goal is to work my way through this book, completing every project. Or at least my version of it. Completed today is the Shamrock Pillow, from pp. 102 ff. I made some major changes, some of which were not the most intelligent choices. Let me tell you about it. 
The instructions say to stitch the strips of fabric together for the shamrock, but I opted instead to stitch them down onto a piece of muslin and then cut the shamrock shape out. After I had traced the shamrock onto the muslin, I realized that I was supposed to enlarge the shape first. I briefly debated on that, which would require copying it onto an enlarged grid. That was more time consuming than what I wanted. The other option was to make an enlarged photocopy of the pattern, but it would actually need two photocopies, as the shamrock was supposed to be 10-1/2" finished size, which wouldn't fit on one sheet of standard letter-size paper. No, I decided to keep the smaller shamrock and fill in the corners with more fabric strips. 
I machine appliqued the shamrock using blanket stitch, rather than needle turn applique, as instructed in the book. So far, so good. I have a pantograph called "Luck of the Irish," so I traced that onto gold quilting paper, and pinned the paper onto the pillow top after machine basting the quilt sandwich together. I'm not really a big fan of quilting on my domestic machine and haven't done it for quite a while, and the stitches came out uneven and "jerky."
Nevertheless, it wasn't horrible. The book does not say to quilt the pillowtop, but I decided to anyway. as I prefer the finished look of quilting. 
I debated on what to do for the pillow back, and remembered I had some extra pieces from the Celtic Ballad quilt (which may be given a different name by the time I've finished it).
So I appliqued those onto a square of green, gave it a purple border and quilted it as well. I suppose if I quilted more on my domestic machine, I might get better at it. But since I rarely make pillows, and anything much bigger than a pillow gets quilted on the longarm, it's not likely I'll ever get very good at it. 😉
Then came time to put the pillow together. The book says to put right sides together and sew a seam that would go on the inside of the pillow. I opted to do an outside seam with binding. I stitched around the pillow, leaving an opening in the bottom to insert the pillow form. I considered whether I would machine stitch the other side of the binding in place before stuffing the pillow. I was concerned that it might be difficult to do once the pillow form was in place, but I was also concerned that it might be difficult to apply the binding to the opening if most of the binding was already in place. And I reasoned that I had made the pillow cover bigger to allow for shrinkage should I need to wash the pillow in the future. So, I decided to stuff it and then finish the binding. I was to regret that decision. 
I had bought two pillow forms at a thrift store (washed before I used them). One was unpackaged, but I was "sure" the label on the other one had said 12". However, I had a real struggle getting that pillow form into that pillow cover. I tried the second one, thinking it looked marginally smaller, and ended up having to rip more stitches out to make the opening larger. Partway into this, I wondered if maybe I should use stuffing instead (I bought a LARGE bag, since I'm also working on a biscuit quilt) of the pillow form. I actually measured one of the pillow forms and edge-to-edge, it's about 16", not 12. Still I decided to stuff it in, another decision I was to come to regret. I now had to apply the binding to close the opening and turn and finish the binding on the whole now extremely overstuffed pillow. Try fitting THAT under your pressure foot. It didn't work very well and that's probably the worst binding job I have ever done. The opening was an even worse disaster - I just couldn't get the stitching close enough and through all the layers. It kept grabbing the very edge of the purple fabric on the back, leaving it frayed and loose. I tried zigzagging it, and still ended up with not all of the edges caught as firmly as I needed them to be. I ended up handstitching to at least hold it all in place until I could get the machine stitching done. I was finally able to get it done, with repeated problems catching the wrong parts of the fabric, resulting in puckers, and having to rip out stitches, and finally decided it was closed acceptably enough - albeit not really to my satisfaction. Meanwhile, I had run into continuous problems trying to machine stitch the binding in place. I tried different feet. I even considered wetting the pillow to squash the stuffing. I finally finished the remaining part (almost half) by hand. I wish I had done the whole binding by hand - it would have looked much nicer. However, I'm still pretty happy with my pillow, even if it is "morbidly obese." 
Here's the back.
Hoping my back will feel much better by Tuesday as I have booked time on the longarm after work to quilt the Celtic Ballad quilt.