Tuesday, October 31, 2006

A Heap of "Square Ones"

First, the picture is of probably my all time favorite quilt I ever made. It's from Judy Martin's early book, Scrap Quilts, published back in the 1980's. (The book is such a favorite, it started to disassemble, and I had to have it spiral bound to keep it together!) DH and I were going to New Mexico and Texas, and I needed a small project to take on the plane, and to last the duration of the trip. I prepared all the star block corners, the bias binding, and lots of scrappy leaves . . . packed them in a little pink tool box, and away I went! Now, I wouldn't be able to carry all my little tools on in that fashion, so I travel with knitting on a plastic circular needle, and a novel to read.

Since I had done so well, keeping to my quota of six perfume bottle blocks, and was actually ahead of my target by Friday, I decided to take the evening off. Saturday morning, I started out fresh, made my 6 Friday blocks, and plowed on through to finish the full complement of perfume bottles. Thinking of names certainly made that go quickly. I almost couldn't wait to see what the next fabric in line was, to start pondering a name for its "fragrance". Another decision made . . . the fabrics that qualified by having gold on theme, but didn't seem to fit a flowery, or romantic theme, will be given "dime store perfume" names. First one up . . . Odie Coloney!

Next matter at hand is the skewed set. I launched EQ5 to work up a template. I wasn't happy with the result. The piece is too narrow to really show off my setting fabric. So, then I calculated the size of the finished blocks if I enlarge the half-rectangle to a more suitable width. Of course, the quilt size increased exponentially. With my planned set, the blocks would finish at 90 X 105", with no border. And, I want to have a border . . . that's where I plan to include the title of the quilt, "Eau de Parfum". I need to contemplate this a bit longer. Maybe I have two quilt tops . . . it's happened before!

Friday, October 27, 2006

Endless imagination

Trying to get my studio back to being more than just one giant heap of stuff, I started by grabbing my perfume bottle quilt "kit", and dedicated myself to cutting the fabrics I selected for bottles, and the background pieces. Without the bulk of extra yardage in the box, the blocks already made almost fit, and the lid can go on it! Tuesday, I set a goal of making 6 blocks every day until I have them all done. At that point, the count to be completed was 48. The first day, over lunch, before quilt group, and after I got home, I managed to finish 9 blocks. Wednesday evening, I sat down and started working on my quota of six. I don't know what stimulated my imagination, but as I was sewing, I started thinking of perfume names inspired by each fabric. Since then, it's been a game that is hard to give up and go to bed. Usually, though, when I start making mistakes, like wrong side of the background down, or seam a bit too wide, I know progress has met the law of diminishing returns.

All the fabrics used in the perfume bottles have gold on them, with a few silver, and even a copper or two. A couple prints that have an Asian look inspired the titles, "Chrysanthemum Empress" and "The Emporer's Garden". The print with pine cones and gold needles had me stumped for a bit . . . I didn't think "Pinesol" sounded too enchanting or would inspire a woman to wear it. Finally, the muse struck, and that became "Passion in the Pines". The most difficult part is refraining from using the words "passion" and "garden" too often.

Of course, now I'm starting to think it would be fun to embroider these names onto each block. Only 168 of them. Yup . . . I'm wound too tight!

The thoughts of fragrance do remind me of a funny story, however. Several years ago, at a Quilt America conference in Indianapolis (wish we still had that one to attend), I took a class on care and cleaning of the Featherweight. I was planning to have lunch that day with a friend who is a land surveyor, and at the time, we worked together frequently. I was sitting next to a gal I knew from our Guild, and I told her, "Sherry, when we break for lunch, you have to tell me if I have grease on my face or anything." She agreed, and when the appointed hour came, she checked me over, and said, "You don't have any grease or dirt on you, but you smell like WD-40". I thought about it a minute and said, "Maybe that's a good thing!"

P.S. In the three days of my quota plan, I have completed 28 blocks!

Monday, October 23, 2006

Florida Fun!

Two years ago, I was lucky enough to be invited to St. Petersburg, Florida, by my friend, Melanie. We managed to visit a few quilt shops, and learned that we missed a shop hop by just one week. But, that didn't mean we would miss the next one! Last year, eight of us flew into Tampa-St. Pete, and participated in the shop hop. We rented a mini-van, and hit the quilt shops during the day, had appetizers and Margaritas on the deck in the evening, before going out to dinner. We had such a good time, we decided it should be an annual event.

Just two weeks away now, and there will be six or seven of us on this excursion. Last year, we decided to do a block swap, and each of us made a Margarita block. Those blocks were given to my sister-in-law, Jan, somewhat as a repayment for a practical joke . . . and also, as another practical joke, since it meant she then had several projects going at once. Jan is a project person, and works through start to finish. Just hates to have more than one thing going at once. Her quilt turned out just wonderfully, and a picture of it appears in March 3, 2006, posting to Laura's blog. It shows all of us with the quilt on the front porch at one of our retreats, pointing to the block we made.

This year's block is flip flops. I made mine Friday evening, and completed it Saturday. It was great fun. We are using Pat Sloan's flip flop pattern (www.quiltershome.com) from her free pattern, titled, "Where are your shoes and socks?". I chose to put mine on a white background that has brightly colored little stars. The soles are pink with multi-colored, multi-sized polka dots. For the thong portion, I used a piece of trim that looks like flowers, and embellished the toe with a ribbon rose. Every time I look at it, it makes me giggle. It's not only frilly, it's silly! I just love whimsical quilts.

I'm looking forward, too, to collecting the blocks from the shop hop. Since going to Florida last year, I have participated in one among vendors at the AQS show in Paducah, which featured Judy Martin's fabric line released last spring. I've not made any decisions on how I will assemble it yet. Just a few weeks ago, Marguerite and I made the rounds of the First Annual Illiana Shop Hop. I was pleased that the fabrics in those blocks include some in my stash already, and the blocks will make a great border to a plan I have to use them. And, of course, I have the blocks I collected in Florida last year, with a more than adequate quantity of additional fabrics to make a great quilt. If there is ever a cotton shortage, I've laid aside a good supply of fabrics and projects to get me through the "drought"!

Reminds me of the time I came home from a little trip with two books of 1001 embroidery transfer patterns. I told my DH they would provide inspiration for quilt making. He responded, "Oh, heart be still . . . that's what you need . . . 2002 more ideas for quilts!"

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Well, duh!!!

Since DH changed his mind about four times before we actually left on vacation, and we actually departed the evening before our original plan, I left many things that I wanted to take behind . . . including the camera. I even thought about it as I drove home from the office, and that might be forgiven if I didn't have a four-minute commute!

I also forgot to grab some different jewelry, so I wore pearl earrings the entire trip . . . they look great with jeans and a sweatshirt!

Here's the worst part . . . I packed my wonderful sewing case made for me by Dawn. But I left the fold up sandpaper/cutting board my sister-in-law, Jan, made for me . . . and what's worse is that my current applique projects were tucked inside. So, I busied myself on the drive with reading and working on my "Nana of the Year" title by knitting sweaters, and doing the hand-work on clothes for my DGD's American Girl dolls.

We stopped in Lexington, Virginia, on the way east, and visited an antique gallery, primarily to walk and stretch a bit. I found a neat small sewing box, with a roll-top lid, similar in construction to the larger one on legs acquired last trip. An antique shop in Charlottesville yielded a neat English thimble with "critters" . . . I think they look like foxes, but friends have voted for cats or dogs, too. This has been a good year for thimble acquisitions! I scored three at auctions the weekend before we left town, all from the late 1800's.

The grand-kids are growing like weeds, as one would expect. Ben is the youngest, and he's a match for Grandpa. He loves all the super heroes, with Batman as a particular favorite. He launched a conversation about what character Grandpa should be for Halloween. Ben's recommendation was Darth Vader. Grandpa asked for hints on his portrayal, and Ben put those cute baby hands over his mouth and said, "Luke . . . I am your fah-der".

Grandpa has always teased the kids by corrupting the names of television and movie characters. So, when Ben was showing his Yoda, Grandpa kept referring to him as yogurt. At one point, Ben disappeared and came back from the kitchen, where he had removed a container of yogurt from the fridge. He held it up in a perfect "Vanna White" type display, and announced, "Grandpa . . . dis is yogurt . . . we eat dis. That is Yoda." At dinner, we were recounting this conversation to his Daddy, as Ben sat on his lap. Daddy asked, "Well, Ben . . . did you get Grandpa straightened out?" Ben held up his hands in a gesture of frustration and said, "He was annoying me!" I laughed so hard, I couldn't breathe.

We went to pre-school, two soccer games, and the bookstore on our visit. The kids love books, and I'm always willing to buy them. My husband is always grateful that Barnes and Noble doesn't have shopping carts, so I can't buy more than I can carry!

One afternoon, I got to sew with my granddaughter. I brought along my Featherweight, and a few patterns. We went through them, and made a list of garments for me to make. The first five she picked out for her friends! I managed to make three dresses, a romper, and a pair of pajamas, along with three sweaters for delivery this trip. I'm going to see how many I can make before its time to send off the Christmas box. I have two more sweaters I knitted on the way home . . . Nana of the Year is my target you know!

Monday, October 09, 2006

Needles flying . . .

We're getting ready to go to see our son and his family, so I am frantically grabbing at things I need to finish and pack, or at least get to the point where I can complete them during the 12 hour drive. I have three doll sweaters knitted, ready to assemble, and dragged out the clothes I've started for my grand-daughters American Girl dolls. I think she knows that Nana is a sure thing on that subject because she parlayed a birthday gift certificate to the American Girl store with a discount coupon and bought a third doll, instead of clothes for the two she already has.

The clothes aren't difficult, but there are parts that are awkward to assemble, for example, puffed sleeves in a 5-inch armhole, complicated by elastic. I've made wedding gowns in my time that were more easily manipulated. The pay-off, of course, is the smile on my grand-daughter's face. Or, even on the phone, when she calls to report a package has arrived, one can hear the smile in her voice.

Our grandson has invited us to his pre-school. He's pretty excited about that. And, I remember the older two were so proud to have us there, too.

I know I'll have an opportunity to go to the quilt shop, Cottonwood, in Charlottesville, Virginia. But, I keep telling myself I should stay away to save my mad money for a shop hop in Florida in one month. This has been a good year for "excellent adventures"!

I'll try to take lots of pictures in Virginia, and post them when I return.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

New Project "Blues"!

Like everyone else, I have a number of unfinished projects. And, I have been dedicating myself to completing them, too, with the possible exception of launching those which were to be samples for our Guild Retreat.

Of course, one never stops looking at new possibilities. Dawn displayed her cute quilt top made from an adorable print featuring Gingerbread men, and embellished with letters a'la' Tonya spelling out "Gingerbread". I've always wanted to do Gingerbread Men, and found an adorable pattern at www.fourtwinsisters.com. I thought it would be perfect to use lots of different Christmas prints to create the little vests. I picked out and laid aside background and "Gingerbread" fabrics, along with sufficient yardage of the same Gingerbread print Dawn used to make the border. I made notes of my plan in a journal, made a few templates, and put it all together to be ready to launch, once I cleared away a few of the unfinished predecessors. I included the companion Gingerbread House pattern, having thought of a way to add it to the project. I nearly hurt my arm, patting myself on the back for being so good, and not cutting into the fabrics immediately, to just make one block. (Betcha' can't make just one!)

Tuesday evening, I went to Quilt Guild. Wouldn't you know they sabotaged my good efforts? On the agenda was the distribution of rules for the 2008 Challenge. It's a house challenge. And there I sat, with an idea completely assembled in my mind, fabrics chosen and set aside, and even templates made. I think I've shown remarkable restraint, because here it is Thursday, and I still haven't cut into the fabrics! In the meantime, however, I figured out a cute way to make both Gingerbread boys, and Gingerbread Girls.

The voice of my conscience, also known as my sister-in-law, Jan, probably is shaking her head. She tries to curb my enthusiasm, always encouraging to finish one before starting another. That's where the differences show up . . . she's a project person . . . I'm a process person. She plans her project and follows through to the end. I always have to let things stew a bit along the way, and move back and forth through a variety of projects. But, I never get bored!

Monday, October 02, 2006

Sewing collectibles

One of my other interesting collections consists of little sewing rocking chairs, and birds. These have been gifts and auction finds, and it is really amazing the variety of "critters" available. The majority of the collection is of the rocking chair variety, where the seat is a pincushion, and there are spindles for spools on each side of the chair. Frequently, there is a slot in the back to hold scissors, too, and some have a little tiny drawer under the seat. The birds are always interesting because they usually rely on scissors to create the beak. Changing the scissors completely changes the "personality" of the bird. I also have a cobbler's bench, a squirrel, some hats, and a rocking horse in my collection.

I finally had to confess to my husband that there was another collection which I managed to conceal from him for some time. He thought my auction purchases of small wooden sewing boxes were to provide some winter re-finishing projects for him. These come in lots of sizes and shapes. In the 1920's, a popular style was shaped from one piece of wood, creating a rounded barrel shaped bottom, with hinged lids on top. There are some shaped like maple sugar buckets on legs. My most recent acquisition has a rounded bottom with a roll top that is seated in a channel that goes completely around the barrel of the bottom. My husband spotted it in an antique shop on our last trip to Virginia. He let me choose between it, and another that had been hand made. The other one was huge, first of all, and in a familiar style, but it also was so heavy, I could hardly lift it while it was empty! So, I went for the unique one. He has one for this winter's projects that looks like a pie-carrier, complete with a scalloped edge. It has a handle and center hinges for the two sides of the lid.

DH has a few collections of his own. He likes to collect old kitchen tools, and they are displayed on a wall in the kitchen. It's a feast for the eyes for guests . . . if the tool is recognized, the comment is frequently, "my grandma had one of those." One thing that throws us into a panic is when someone comments, "I love your decor." We don't think of it as decorating . . . we just put up stuff we like!

Well, I didn't get the pictures where I wanted them, but at least they all made it!