Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Count Down is in Single Digits!

Gee Whiz . . . the blog ate my "homework". I was just ready to post, picture and all, and it vanished into cyberspace. Guess I'll have to try it again! Before I was so rudely interrupted, I had commented that the picture is something unusual . . . a finished quilt which I plan to take to our Retreat as a sample to inspire participants. This one happens to be the very first quilt that graced my quilt frame.

Retreat commences just one week from tomorrow, and I'm wound up tighter than a $2 watch, as my mother used to say. I can't decide if I should panic over little things that need to be completed, or jump and scream with excitement that its so near. My sister-in-law will be arriving from Texas. I need to get out her Featherweight and make sure it is well lubricated and ready to sew, since it has been "resting" since January.

The corner of my dining room is the "staging area" for items which must make their way to Camp. So far, there's not too much located there, but this weekend will see the quantity grow. I have a blanket bag full of quilt tops from my collection which will serve as scrap quilt inspirations. I just love scrap quilts . . . the more fabrics, the better! I need to make banners with scrap quilt quotes . . . some of the most memorable. Such as Bonnie Hunter's comment, "if the fabric is still ugly, you haven't cut it small enough!" Who can argue with that?

One of the key ingredients that make our Retreat go smoothly is the effort of the Director of the YMCA Leadership Center, Neil Morehead. He's very enthusiastic, and welcomes everyone. The most fun is when we draw for door prizes after each meal. He starts clapping and yelling, "Big Money!! Big Money!!" So, the last couple years, we've made sure we have a door prize for him, too. This year, he will find a Hallmark ornament depicting a snowman, since our theme is Snowbound. I also knitted mittens for him, as well as his wife. His pair have a long crocheted chain linking the two mittens together, like we all had in grade school. It will just be pinned inside, but should be funny when he looks at them!

I'm looking forward to seeing some of the "characters" who come each year. This year we have a few rookies, and some returning that have missed a year or two. It's always such great fun . . . takes too long to get here, and is over too quickly. It's such a pleasure to renew those friendships, and make some new friends, too. It's just a great time, and I offer this advice. Participate in the offerings of your Guild . . . you will enrich your life with wonderful friendships of creative and warm-hearted people who share your interests.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

More memories!

Here's a picture of my mother's buttons. I'm very selective about using any of them for any garments. I have used some on clothing for my granddaughter. With my DH's interest in buttons now, I don't often have to buy any.

He's busy assembling two Mason jar lamps for door prizes at the Guild Retreat in 2 weeks and 2 days . . . but who's counting. He fills one jar with old wooden spools, and the other with all kinds of old sewing notions and tools, and some buttons scattered in for more color. So far, everyone who has won a lamp at Camp has been delighted with it. We just get a kit from the hardware store with the lamp fixture pieces completely contained. He fills the jar with goodies, and drills the lid, and I wire the lamp. It's not difficult . . . learned to do it in seventh grade science class.

Had lots of fun at the auction on Sunday. I scored a Boye Needlemaster knitting needle collection. There was just one set of points missing. A few weeks ago at a different sale, different auctioneer, I bought a bag of odd lot yarns. There were just one or two skeins of many different designer yarns . . . perfect for someone in the running for Nana of the Year by making sweaters for my grand-daughter's American Girl doll. In the bottom, there was a circular needle made from the components of a Needlemaster kit. I looked high and low at that auction, and couldn't find the kit anywhere. So, this week, they had a kit but it had one set of points missing . . . guess what . . . they were the size 8's which I got in the bag of yarn!

When my DH was ready to leave the auction, I told him I was going to leave an absentee bid on a Lowrey organ. Since I was just leaving a $10 bid, he thought it was safe. About five o'clock, the phone rang, and it was the auctioneer, reporting I was the winning bidder. DH couldn't believe it, and has grumbled ever since, but he can't say too much . . . he spent $14 on kitchen plunder and old milk bottles!

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Button memories

Several blogs, including Dawn's ( and Laura's ( have memories of grandparents, and button boxes.

When my DH and I were first married, he was a football coach (also track, and athletic director in a middle school). You know the type . . . jock, very macho kind of guy. When he finally retired from those responsibilities, I wondered what he would do with his time. We go to auctions often, and on occasion, when I'm working, he might attend a week-day auction. Several years ago, he acquired a Coats and Clark's metal spool cabinet with sliding glass doors as a Christmas gift for me. It had no spools in it at all. So, his subsequent purchases included sewing boxes containing wooden spools of thread, and he began to fill the spool cabinet. He would go through the sewing box looking for the thread before giving me the remainders, but I didn't know that at the time. The spool cabinet now boasts four or five or every color except two, which have been difficult to find.

My mother did tailoring when I was a girl, and she bought lots of buttons. There was a department store in downtown Indianapolis (now a parking lot) that had bins with manufacturer's button cards. They were large cards, probably 9 X 12 inches, and had one of each size and color of a particular design, usually four or five designs, so 20 to 40 buttons to a card. Mom would purchase 10 or 12 matching cards at the magnificent sum of 10 cards for a dollar. If we proclaimed boredom when it was raining, Mom would have us string the buttons into sets, which were stored in Monarch and Richelieu tea tins labeled and sorted by colors. When I began making my own clothes, I just pulled out the tea tin of the appropriate color to select buttons for it.

When my mother passed away, my brother called to ask if I would like to have her tea pots. I said, "I thought you wanted the tea pots . . . I want the buttons". His response was, "You can have those d--- buttons . . . I want her chickens." I guess my brother didn't enjoy sorting the buttons as much as I did!

After I left home, Mom's buttons out grew the tea tins, and she moved to shoe boxes for storage. The manufacturer's cards were no longer available, so, buttons acquired later came on the same type cards we see today. She would trim the cards down to just the area containing the buttons, and put them into the shoe boxes by colors. Since we were grown, there wasn't anyone to string them into sets for her! After her death, my youngest brother moved them to the barn, and they were rather dirty when I finally received them. At some point, my DH decided to clean them up and put them in old Mason jars. He removed them from the cards, washed them, sorted them into a couple muffin tins, and just like when I was a kid, I took crochet cotton and strung them into sets. The Mason jars are lined up on a shelf in our foyer, sorted still by colors, and are a lovely reminder of my mother.

DH has continued to enjoy sorting buttons. He often buys jars at auction, and on a snowy or rainy evening, dumps them into a large plastic tray, and sorts them into sets which he puts in small zip-loc bags. I just know Mom is looking down from Heaven with a silly grin on her face watching her football coach/son-in-law fool with buttons.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Getting organized

I struck carpet in my studio. That's real progress. I've sorted my projects into various plastic boxes. My husband says I must have been deprived of containers as a child. I can't go through the discount store without looking over the plastic containers. They provide a kind of filing system for some projects in progress. My friend, Susan, uses what she calls, "The Tote Bag Filing System". She says one should not miss going to any quilt conference where a tote bag is available. There's always a project to be stored in one. But, I still prefer plastic containers which are stackable. I do enjoy a nice latching lid, and handle for easy transport.

I also like to change my sewing kit from time to time, dependent upon what sort of project I'm working on. The all time best container for applique supplies has been a make-up bag from the luggage department of J.C. Penney. It zips closed on three sides on the outside, with an additional zippered pocket on the outside, suitable for holding a 5 X 8" pad of paper, and a mini cutting mat. Unzipped, and lying flat on the table, it has another zipper on one side, and tucked into that compartment, I have a plastic box with marking pens, scissors, thimble, a small woolen pin cushion, some clippies . . . not for my hair, but for holding binding in place as I stitch it down. In case of emergency, I have a few band-aids, and a sqeeze packet of anti-biotic ointment. A travel pack of hand wipes is indispensable, too. The other side of the bag has another zippered pocket which flips back to reveal several tubes designed for toothepaste, shampoo, etc. They are perfect for storing my silk thread for applique. My current favorite was made for me by Dawn; it has zippered pockets with an ultra-suede strip to draw the thread through. It's an adorable sewing print on the outside, trimmed with blue binding. Just love it!

The picture is another from my quilt top collection. This one is comprised of paper-pieced stars won at a Guild meeting. One star deserves another, so the blocks are set and sashed with star fabrics, too. I had an epiphany the other day when sorting through my quilt top collection. I realized that I haven't done much hand quilting since becoming theme chair for the Guild Retreats about five years ago. I make lots of tops, but that is a contributing factor for not getting them quilted. Maybe I should turn my list of themes for the next 10 or 15 years over to someone else and work with more dedication toward turning my quilt top collection into a quilt collection!

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Fits and Starts!

The dates of the Old Tippecanoe Quilt Guild Retreat are rapidly approaching, which is good because we are all wound up tighter than two dollar watches waiting for it to get here. On the other hand, the early panic is starting to set in, as I try to make sure all the hand-outs are written. Demonstrations will be relatively brief. The focus is the components to make one's own scrap quilts using squares, rectangles, half-square triangles and quarter square triangles. I make a constant effort to overcome the phobia that seems to be part of today's quilt making against bias seam lines. As my friend, Marguerite, often says, "It isn't rocket surgery."

My studio shows the effects. I started "plowing" yesterday, to get a larger path to all important areas. Then, of course, proud of my effort, I sat down to the machine to sew, reasoning that I would be a bit more relaxed. It was just so pleasant that I didn't make much more progress in the balance of the room. I have the incentive of my sister-in-law, Jan's pending arrival from Texas. Although, I'm sure she's very used to how I work, I still get qualms about the mess now and then. I try to sit down until the feeling passes!

I went through my quilt top collection to select some for the Retreat gallery of quilts and tops, designed to inspire our Retreat participants. That included revisiting some that don't fit the scrap criteria, but are lovely just the same. The picture is my interpretation of Lisa Schiller's Christmas Album. I enjoyed the process, but I remember being ecstatic when all those berries were done!

Here's another self imposed reason to tidy my studio . . . I promise to share some pictures.