Wednesday, October 6, 2021

Winter Song

When Kelly asked me whether I'd like to participate in the Blog Hop to promote 
her new book - Scrappy Improv Quilting, I had a tough choice to make. 

No, not making the project. That was fun and easy :-) Choosing just one from so many lovely projects in the book - that was a challenge.  Once I picked out the design, I knew I had to make it my own. I had to make it brighter :-)

Birds of a Feather, by Kelly Young

I chose a low volume white/off-white background with bright red birds!!!

Improvisational Piecing

Adding Color

In the original design, while the background is improv pieced, Kelly uses just one solid fabric to  make the birds. I chose to extend the improv piecing theme to the birds as well.  It was more work to piece the birds but I totally love the added depth and richness. What do you think?


Paul: Cardinals?
Me: Why yes.
Paul: Shouldn't one of them be brown?

Fabric Detail

That would have been a smart choice (in hindsight), but I was not willing to concede the point. 

Me: They are not a couple, just good friends.
Paul: Could be a gay couple.
Me: I can ask them but I don't wish to be reprimanded for my rudeness.
Paul (incredulous): These birds will talk back to you?
Me: They sure asked for more room.
Paul: More room? How?
Me: In the original design their tails are almost touching the edge. They were feeling a bit constrained.
Paul: Really?
Me: They told me so. 
Paul (amused): How did you respond?
Me: While I kept the height the same at 24", I increased the width to 30".
Paul (eyes rolling): You are so kind to the birds.
Me: I did not want them to feel caged :-)

Birds in the Wild

Red birds on white background is more evocative of winter, I thought.  A green binding makes it just perfect for Christmas season.  I have named it Winter Song.

Green Binding

Quilting Detail 

Winter Song, 30" by 24"

See the complete schedule below.

Scrappy Improv Quilting Blog Tour Schedule

8/31- Intro, Single Block Beauties, and Simple Shapes 

9/7- Seasonal Sensations, Standards With a Twist

9/13- Summer BlossomLori @ Crossquilt
           Up, Up, and AwaySandra @ mmm...quilts!

           BotanicsDiann @ Little Penguin Quilts

9/20- Face the SunLaura @ Slice of Pi Quilts
           Full SpectrumJayne @ Twiggy and Opal

9/22- PrismaticAnja @ Anja Quilts
           DownpourNancy @ Grace and Peace Quilting

9/27- FunkytownVasudha @ Storied Quilts
           Cherub WingsMichelle @ From Bolt to Beauty

9/29- Chapel WindowKris @ Sew Sunshine
           Winter FrostLeanne @ Devoted Quilter

           Star SpangledChristine @ Triangles & Squares

10/6- Birds of a FeatherPreeti @ Sew Preeti Quilts  this is me :-)
           Fall FoliageSusan @ Quilt Fabrication

10/11- OrnamentalGail @ Quilting Gail
            Churn, Churn, ChurnCynthia @ Quilting Is More Fun Than Housework

10/13- Sunset CrossingKate @ Katie Mae Quilts
             Positivity- Sarah @ Sarah Goer Quilts

10/18- All Dressed UpLinda @ Flourishing Palms
             ShockwaveAnne-Marie @ Stories From the Sewing Room

10/20- Sweet Bee (a bonus thank-you pattern), Finishing, and Wrap-Up 

Signed copies of Scrappy Improv Quilting are available in Kelly's Etsy Shop.  It is also available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and other major booksellers.  

The rest of this blogspot may seem disconnected (well, almost) to the Scrappy Improv Quilting Book Blog Hop. So you could stop reading now.  Or you could read to find out why...

A few months ago the following conversation happened.

Paul: Do you have a special wish for your big birthday?
Me: Hot Air Balloon Ride, please.
Paul: Thy wish is my command.

Paul booked us with Blue Ridge Ballooning in Charlottesville. We met our pilot Liana and her ground assistant Nathaniel bright and early at 6:45AM.  Liana contemplated a few different places for the take-off, while evaluating the wind direction/speed and ground conditions. You don't want us to launch from a field where the wet grass is up to my thighs, she explained. As she drove us to the launch location, Liana explained the safe landing rules. When landing, face forward, bend your knees, hold on to the handles and don't try to exit the basket till you are told. Nervously, I went over these rules in my head.

Open Field and morning greeters

Paul and I watched Liana and Nathaniel unload the balloon and the basket, the fan and the burners from the truck. 

Balloon, Basket and Fan

Filling the balloon with air using a large fan was the next step and Paul assisted with that effort, holding the mouth of the balloon open, while I took pictures and shot the video.  The noisy first blast from the burner caught me unawares even when I was a safe distance away. I gasped aloud, while Liana smiled. 

Filling the Balloon

The inside of the balloon

Ready to board (Picture by Nathaniel)

Once the balloon was upright, it was time to board.
There is no graceful way to get into the basket, we were warned.  Just hold on, use the square opening as a foot rest and swing your legs in, one at a time. We did, without incident. Time to pose for a picture.

Excited and Nervous (Picture by Nathaniel)

Then we waited for the lift-off. Very gently, we took off and rose smoothly up through the fog.  Liana pressed a button every now and then to push propane to feed the burners resulting in a burst of whooshing noise. But other than that it was quiet and peaceful and so serene.  

Liana is in charge! (Picture by Nathaniel)

Lift-off and the flames (Picture by Nathaniel)

Beautiful Views 

The shadow of our balloon :-)

We floated over farms and country homes, grazing cows, skittish horses and a couple of barking dogs.  The best part of the flight was seeing two other balloons lift out of the fog, a few miles from us.  I took lots of pictures and some video.  


I am so happy!

Watching those two balloons land ahead of us was just perfect.  This is often the case, Liana said, speaking of other balloon flights in the area. They often work in the same area and use the same launching and landing locations.

A fine day for Ballooning (Picture by Nathaniel)

Landing Balloons

Deflating slowly

When it was time for us to land, I braced for the impact. Facing forward, knees bent, holding on to handles with both hands (phone securely back in the pocket), I was ready for a huge thud.  Then we landed as gently as a feather.  Nathaniel was already there with the truck to receive us.  He laughed at my tense expression and said as much. Paul who was behind me and had not seen my face but is familiar with that expression (He has seen it every time we have been in a rollercoaster or a water slide). Everyone laughed at me and I laughed just from the relief. 

Braced for Landing (Picture by Nathaniel)

Landed safely

We stayed in the basket just a bit longer till it was safe to step out.  Then we helped Liana and Nathaniel pack the balloon, stuff it in a bag, and haul the basket back in to the truck. THAT was some hard work. We were just helping but both Paul and I were breathless. The picture below tells it all

Liana is in charge, Paul is helping and I'm a mess (Picture by Nathaniel)

Balloon Stuffing (Picture by Nathaniel)

Our flight was about 1 hour and 15 minutes and I enjoyed every minute of it.  It was both exhilarating and peaceful. I highly recommend Blue Ridge Ballooning. Do mention my name when you are booking so that Liana knows I sent you. I promised her as much.

Thank you Liana and Nathaniel!!!

Did you do anything exciting lately? Let me know. I will be sharing with all my favorite linky parties. See full list on the sidebar.

Paul: So any balloon inspired quilts coming up.
Me: Not at this time. I have loads to finish first.
Paul: So later?
Me: May be.

Up, Up and Away, by Kelly Young

The Scrappy Improv Quilting Book has a perfect project that I just might attempt someday :-)
Whether you prefer the excitement of a balloon flight or the calm of watching birds fly in your backyard, Kelly's book has a perfect little mini quilt for you.


  1. I love that you extended the scrap play to the birds as well; they look beautiful. I also think they look good with a bit of extra breathing room, too.

    I've never been in a hot air balloon but would definitely like to give it a try some day. Sounds like a really lovely experience!

  2. Love, love, LOVE your version of Kelly's pattern for the Book Hop!! SEW thoughtful of you to give the birds some breathing room. Happy birthday, Preeti!! Paul is a generous gift giver. What a spectacular gift! Nathaniel did a great job manning the camera.

  3. Ooo, I am going to add this to my Christmas list! And your birds are Scarlet Tanagers. We see them in Greene County (just north of Charlottesville) often. They do not have crests like cardinals do. The females are usually greenish brown, though, so you still have two males.

  4. I love your changes and the colors you chose for your bird quilt!!

  5. that is exciting to go up in a balloon I have always thought that would be fun to do but have never had the opportunity to do it and would find it a little scary I'm sure. Beautiful wall hanging - love your red birds.

  6. I absolutely LOVE your mini, Preeti! I love cardinals too, and you're right- they are perfect for Christmas/winter. The birds look great with the scrap piecing too! Thank you so much for participating in the blog hop.

    :) Kelly @ My Quilt Infatuation

  7. Love that you used improv for the background and birds both, Preeti!!! The birds are so pretty as cardinals. Fun hot air balloon ride, too--thanks for sharing your photo journal!

  8. What a fun post, Preeti! I love your cardinals from Kelly's design! They're beautiful in your red scraps on that low volume background. I want to make this one! And what an experience in the balloon. I loved your photos! You definitely have to make the balloon design from Kelly's book!

  9. I can see you followed Kelly’s instructions to make our mini quilts our own and that you did in true Preeti style and with a fun story as well. This is also one of the quilts I want to make. And as I was reading about your air balloon ride, I thought to myself you need to make Up, Up and Away as the mini quilts in the book are great for remembering a special day. And Happy Belated Birthday!

  10. Thanks for sharing your balloon ride, Preeti! You made my day.

  11. Preeti, being from Illinois and the metro St. Louis area, I'm particularly fond of cardinals. Love Winter Song and that looks like one spectacular birthday ride! Happy Birthday!

  12. Hi,
    Beautiful Cardinal's our state bird.
    Have a great day!

  13. The quilt is beautiful. You took an idea and made it better. Gorgeous scenery and day!

  14. What fun you had with the cardinals, and the extra room is perfect, just as they told you. Love the balloon ride story - looks to have been a marvelous day. I go between being terrified and thinking it would be blast. And a belated Happy Birthday to you.

  15. What a wonderful post Preeti, love the cardinals and always your conversation with Paul, they make me smile. Happy belated birthday your balloon flight looked fantastic. I went on a hot air balloon at Sedona many years ago, we had a rough landing and got dragged about 30 feet before coming to a stop, my biggest worry was the huge cactus I could see going past us, but we were all good. All part of the experience!

  16. Why be like everyone else? Why not change the pattern to suit you? The birds look fantastic in red and I love the improv background. The balloon ride-- well, you're a braver woman than me! Looks like you had a great time.

  17. I love your birds and the extended scrap play in red :)

    But I am sooooo glad, I did not have to take that ride. Glad you enjoyed it! And the pictures are gorgeous.

  18. I love Winter Song! The improv birds are beautiful! I've never floated in a hot air balloon nor do I have the desire to do so but I'm glad you had the opportunity. We often have them float over the farm. They really freak out our dog! Years ago we had one land in a alfalfa field. The children enjoyed watching the ballon come down and the packing up. Happy stitching and happy birthday!

  19. Love your cardinals quilt. Love the photos of your balloon ride. I'm actually in the middle of making two of the Up, Up and Away quilt from Kelly's book; one for my son and one for me as we had a balloon ride just over two years ago and when I say the quilt in the book I had to make them. Now that you've given me the idea to change the birds a little (and give them a little bit more room) I think I might try doing some British robins as we don't have cardinals - although they are very chrismassy. Love the quilt and the quilting.

  20. Love your winter cardinals and the balloon ride photos. Wow! and Wow!

  21. Love the red friends. While reading your post I was thinking I can see a balloon or landscape quilt featuring a balloon coming up very soon in your future.

  22. Your cardinal quilt reminded me how much my grandmother loved those birds. She always kept a bird feeder to encourage them to come around.
    What a glorious day for a balloon ride. A happy present for your birthday.

  23. Fabulous version of Birds of a Feather! I think that 2 red cardinals together is just fine! I have a friend who live in The St. Louis area and she often send pictures of lots of birds, all red together in her trees. And a perfect name for a quilt with a winter/ Christmas vibe! Lucky you, a balloon ride. I once thought I wanted to do that! Now that I am in the elderly category, I’ve become a bit leads adventurous! But I love seeing hot air balloons. Thanks for sharing your adventure!

  24. Oh My GOSh!!! a bucket list item for sure!!! I bet those were the best views anywhere - and being up in the air - oh my!! LOVE it!!!

  25. Love your version, the cardinals look gorgeous.
    OWO what a great adventure for a birthday gift. The pictures shows all your happiness. Happy Birthday, Preeti!

  26. What a fun trip and gift! Happy Birthday! Your cardinals are lovely!

  27. Wow - fabulous post - I love the Cardinals and Happy Birthday - what a wonderful adventure!

  28. First of all - your balloon adventure looked amazing! A wonderful birthday experience. It's on my bucket list. I've been to watch a couple of launches, but could only wish I was a passenger. Some day!! And I love your cardinals.

  29. Your cardinals look fabulous on that improv background! Love the mix of all those fabrics. As for your hot air balloon ride, it looks as if you had the time of your life. Just look at that happy face of yours. Fabulous photos. How awesome to float high above the ground and have a bird's eye view of all the pretty, patchwork countryside down, down below.

  30. I love your "Paul conversations." They crack me up and make my heart warm every time. You are such a cute couple :) xoxo

  31. That is sooooo cute! I was so excited that my local library can get me a copy. I LOVE the cardinals. I really don't think that I would want to do the balloon ride, but it really looks like you loved it.

  32. Love the birds--and the extra room you provided :)
    One early morning years ago, I stepped into the backyard and saw a hot air balloon flying over our neighborhood! It was wonderful to see. Glad you enjoyed every minute of your flight.

  33. A balloon ride sounds perfect for your birthday! Love your mini. Thanks for sharing on Wednesday Wait Loss.

  34. That was a great birthday present! Thanks for sharing the pictures. I like the two cardinals picture, and it was a good idea to add the extra room on each side. Thanks for linking with Design Wall Mondays, Hugs, Judy

  35. Oh sweet! Both the quilt and the balloon adventure story. (Happy Birthday!) I like the balloon quilt, but really, you need to make a balloon quilt unique to you reminiscent of the beautiful balloon of your flight. I love what you did with the cardinals, making them improv, too. We have cardinals all winter in our backyard, and the reds always hang out together. :)

  36. What do I like best? The red cardinals that are friends, or the wonderful balloon trip birthday present? I think it's a toss up

  37. oh how fabulous, Preeti! HAPPY BIRTHDAY! I feel like I was along on the balloon adventure with you! And you and Paul are just the cutest couple. I love your cardinal. Wish I'd added a bit of breathing room around my hearts as well, and I love how you circled back to Kelly's book at the very end by spotlighting her hot air balloon mini! Clever inclusio, Ms. Fancy Pants Quilter AND Writer Extraordinaire! ;-)

  38. Just WOW, Preeti! The birds, the balloon ride!