Tuesday, December 18, 2007

I'm still here!

For some reason, I always think that it is necessary to have some photos ready before I can post. That's ridiculous, of course. So, here are some random thoughts that have been cluttering my mind for a while.

On the quilting front, we had a great time in Florida, as usual. We always exchange what we have dubbed, "Room-mate gifts". My contribution, as we arrived in Florida, was note pads in various shapes, including flip-flops, palm trees and sunglasses . . . . sunglasses . . . . hmmmm. I felt an idea germinating, and it influenced my fabric purchases for the trip. The idea is sunglass frames, with images as though they are reflected on the lenses. I have about twenty-four cut, and they're just a riot! All the images are tied to themes of our trip. Some are sewing related - stacks of fabric and sewing notions, food related - spaghetti ala Patti, and lots of opportunities to enjoy sea food, so crabs, too; and beach related - sea shells, flamingos . . . lots of fun in bright polka dot frames. I was bemoaning the fact that a few "road signs" would really add to the memories . . . such as the speed bump that was definitely speeding toward us one evening . . . the girls in the back seat might have permanent knots on their heads, and Patti claims to have been assaulted by an arm rest. Dawn sent me a link to Bear Paw Fabrics, where they had posted a road sign fabric . . . perfect phrases shown on road sign shapes. I managed to put a "collage" of phrases in a few lenses, such as "Getaway - AreWe There Yet? - Quilter on Board" in one sunglass frame; and "Road Trip" in another. Because the placement is critical, I have basted the lenses into position to do reverse applique. They are the kind of project where one can't help but giggle at the whimsy. I'm thinking of placing them in a pinwheel or perphas just simple 9-patch block set. This definitely goes in my "Miss Mary's Retreat" projects for the end of January.

Once the muse has been inspired, it generally snowballs into other projects, so as I was contemplating sunglasses, I tried to think of a way to use some of my stash of Christmas prints in a similar fashion. Ski goggles came to mind, but it seemed that the image might not be as easily recognized as sunglasses. Once again, Dawn to the rescue . . . she suggested snow globes. I can't wait to start digging in my tubs of Christmas fabrics. I would put that on my Miss Mary's list, but I'd have to have them all delivered in a POD!

DH has worked several auctions since my last post. And, I have had quite a bonanza of good things. One Friday, I went on my lunch hour to see what the sale of the day had to offer. I found a neat little Norwegian sewing box with some kitchen "plunder" . . . zip-loc bags, freezer paper, etc. I bid to $11 and won the bid. I was delighted with the sewing box, and in looking through the three other boxes, found I also had solved my dilemma of my aging hand-mixer. At the bottom of one of the boxes was a brand new 7-speed LED display Cuisinart hand-mixer. I put it to use this week with quick breads, and was afraid to take it above speed #4, for fear I would achieve lift-off! With a big grin on my face, I walked over to my husband to show him how lucky I had been with my $11 bid. He just smiled, reached in his pocket, and said, "Merry Christmas . . . you can enjoy this longer if I give it to you now." In his hand was a stunning 18-karat white gold wedding ring set with diamond. The stone is brilliant and flawless. I need to get it appraised for insurance, but hate to take it off my hand while that's done!

The remaining "valuable" in my $11 bid assortment was a portable electric typewriter. I decided my grandson might enjoy it, and I was right. What was funny, though, was trying to explain what it did to him. His first question was "where do you see what you entered?" So, I put a piece of paper in it, and showed him how to type. His next question was, "how do you clear it?" He was clearly delighted with the instant result of the keys hitting the paper, as opposed to having to send it to print on the computer. I think my son is getting tired of hearing the clatter of the typewriter every evening as Drew plays with his new "toy".

A few weeks ago at an auction, the acquisitions were two antique quilts. One is a summer quilt, with sort of an arrow pattern. It has only a muslin backing on it, so some day in the far distant future, I may take the back off and actually quilt it. The other is a red and green applique quilt in a 4-block coxcomb pattern, dated 1871, and proudly signed in about 5 inch letters, "Elise Schurbeck". The red has long since departed the quilt, but some remains, held in place by the quilting. I promise to post a picture of it soon.

My cousin, Diane, sent me a lovely gift for Christmas, too. This must be my year for jewelry. She designs stunning pieces, and sent me a necklace and matching earrings in her design called, "Nefertiti". It is Venetian glass beads, malachite, and brass with gold settings. Her jewelry is called Stone Blossoms, and she's very talented.

Last Friday, four of us took off on a mini-shop hop. I managed to locate the perfect background for my "snow globes", and "wooden" looking fabric for the bases. In Danville, Illinois, at Threads of Time, I found a fabric on the sale table suitable for the back of the quilt . . . it has snowmen in snow globes! One of the challenges for the Old Tippecanoe Quilt Guild show this spring is an alphabet challenge. We drew for letters, and we are to make a 14" quilt with something depicted that begins with our selected letter, and using a visible amount of fabric in a color that starts with that letter. I found all the fabrics I need for my turquoise tea pot. I envision it as rather elaborate, and am contemplating doing some Celtic work on it. See what I told you about the muse striking? Mine has shifted into overdrive!

I'm still plugging along at my sock knitting, working on Pairs numbered 32 and 33. I want to select a couple skeins to work with as we visit our son and his family in Virginia. Can't wait to see those kids . . . I know they are growing like weeds.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Countdown is hours, now!

In less than 21 hours, four of our quilt group will be on an airplane, enroute to Tampa, via Atlanta, where we will claim an ex officio member who now lives there. We will connect with Sossity and Jan at the Tampa airport, for a week with Melanie. To score a very cheap ticket, we had to stay an extra day . . . it was a tough decision, but we decided we could do it!

Wanting to spend as much time in Tampa as possible, and in an effort to coordinate flight arrivals, we booked through Atlanta to collect Patti, and enable Jan to join us there. So, Jan booked a direct flight! We have to leave town at 3AM to get to the airport for appropriate check-ins, etc. Then, we have a 4 1/2 layover in Atlanta. Glad I've packed my knitting. I should be able to finish a sock!

The weather here has finally turned cold in Indiana, so we are very much going to appreciate our days in Tampa bay. Plans include a quilt shop hop of our own device, lunch on the bay in Dunedin, and other surprises. Since we aren't doing a shop sponsored hop, we should have much more time to relax, and enjoy other features in the area.

Jan has rented a mini-van . . . don't know if they have posted warnings of a van full of laughing women, but they probably should. A couple years ago, at dinner one evening, we got so tickled, the hostess of the restaurant came over and told us we were having entirely too much fun, and asked if she could join us!

Tonight, I'm going to actually pack my suitcase, which I have packed and repacked mentally a number of times. Since there will be 7 of us arriving, we try to keep the suitcases small, which should give us plenty of room for fabric purchases! (Like I need more fabric!)

Wanted to post before I start getting the pre-trip giggles . . . and turn absolutely worthless in terms of getting anything done. Will share lots of photos upon my return!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Autumn Sunset

I was on my way to Mary J's on Tuesday evening, for our weekly quilt get together, and this was the sky as I headed West. I didn't make much of an effort to frame the picture . . . just pulled the camera out of my purse and shot. The sky was a constant color show as the sun was setting.

Tomorrow, I'm heading to Wisconsin for the memorial service for my cousin, Woody. He has been battling emphysema for some time. He's suffered so long, it's almost not a sad thing. Woody embraced our Indian heritage, and had become active in the Brotherton nation. I'm curious to know if some of those ceremonies will be part of the memorial. About a year ago, he got all the cousins together, and explained some traditions to us. Woody was a classic curmudgeon. He could always locate the negative. He made Don Quixote look like an amateur. Once, he was disgusted with the manufacturers of dishwashing soap, but I don't know what the issue was. To protest, he refused to let his wife wash his coffee cup, and it turned dark brown from the tannic acid in the coffee. It always seemed that his protests ended up punishing him more than anyone else. You had to laugh. I got tickled at him once when he was explaining to me that Darwin was wrong . . . not on a religious level, but he said the weak tend to eliminate themselves . . . and I said, "leaving the fit to survive". Once we took off on an all day adventure to visit our grandmother's farm, now owned by a cousin. The house was almost hidden behind trees and shrubbery, including some wild red raspberries. Kids and vandals had broken into the house, and strewn things around on the first floor, but upstairs, everything was just the way my Aunt Edith left it when she passed away. All her clothing was still hanging in the closets. We snooped aroung there for a bit, and then headed to the Stockbridge Reservation to see a basket woven by my great-great grandfather, on display in a glass case there. Unfortunately, they were closed that day, so we could only peek through the windows. Back into the car, and somehow or another, we got to singing with the radio. Woody had a wonderful voice, and had spent many years in a barbershop group. So, he was singing the bass part and I was singing harmony with the radio. It was great fun. Music rather runs in the family, since his father was a musician, and my mother was one of the singers with his bands in the late 30's and into the 40's. They were brother and sister.
Less than two weeks until we head for Tampa and a week at Melanie's house. We had to stay an extra day to qualify for the discount tickets. What a sacrifice! We'll muddle through!
Back to my sock knitting . . . I've finished number 27 in the 52 pair plunge. I've got second sock syndrome on a current pair . . . the first is finished. I think th pattern is just so boring, that's the problem. I like the feel of the yarn, and the way the first sock finished. I bet that's the last time I finish a sock, and don't immediately cast on the second one . . . or knit them simultaneously!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Busy . . . busy!

Wow! Lots of interesting and exciting things happened in the last two weeks. First, I finished and sent off my Monkey Swap items. My pal has a little boy, so I sent a couple things for him, too. He just had to have a copy of "Five Little Monkeys", don't you think? One of the things I included was a Sock Needle Book made with Moda's Funky Monkey fabrics. I had a great time putting that together. I have another concept running around in my head. You can just barely see the stitch markers pinned to the white fabric portion of the needle book. It has a vinyl pocket and zippered pocket on the left side, and narrow slots for double pointed needles on the right side. Timtex is a very stiff interfacing product used in hats, and fabric bowls, and it provided the stability necessary, and made it completely washable, too.

My up-stream partner, Jessica sent a Monkey Swap package that arrived on my birthday. Here's a picture of the "bounty". The socks are PERFECT!! I think the Monkey change purse needs to go on my upcoming Florida vacation. My hands are just itching to knit with that yummy Cider Moon yarn in the Banana Cabana colorway. Jessica was busy with the Moda fabrics, too.

My DH was working at an auction on Saturday, the 6th, so I took off with some "quilt bandits", as he calls them, for Madison, Indiana. It's right on the Ohio, and is a neat old river town. I've been there several times, but never knew I was missing a quilt shop, Margie's Country Store. I won't miss it again! There's another business called, "The Fabric Shop", and it's almost like a time machine. They have some vintage fabrics, but I did find some superwash sock yarn there, too. We had lunch at the Red Pepper . . . love their chicken salad . . . and dinner in the diner. I chose the meatloaf sandwich special that was outstanding; nice, and moist, with cheddar cheese on a marbled rye. Making my own mouth water as I remember it! We also caught a wine tasting at Lanthier Winery overlooking the river. Their wines are mostly of the sweet variety, which suits my palate to a "t". Tasting three wines was plenty for me. I always say I used to go to nickel beer night, and take a dime, but I don't have that kind of tolerance any more!
This past Saturday, DH and I got up and going to attend the 40th Annual Feast of the Hunter's Moon along the Wabash River, near the site of the 18th century French Fort Quiatenon (We-at-ten-on). We always say, they don't call it "the Feast" for nothing. The way to taste more items is to share, so we had a cider-basted grilled pork chop that was seasoned to perfection, and had very little waste. Then, there was a buffalo burger - less cholesterol than beef, a baked apple, and one of my favorites, "Noodle-ables" which is carrots, broccoli, onions, cabbage, cauliflower, and egg noodles in a dill sauce, all cooked over open fires. We never miss the opportunity to have a "Croquinole", which is an 18th century donut. It's easy to find their booth . . . it's near the police station . . . coincidence?
Three weeks from this moment, I'll probably be gasping for breath, laughing with my friends on our annual Florida excursion. We had to dig down and force ourselves to spend an extra day so that we could qualify for a bargain priced airline ticket. We'll muddle through . . . I'll post some pictures of those festivities, for sure!

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Busy, busy . . .

Time sure does get away from one. Since my last post, three pairs of socks, and a pair of mittens donated to the Prophetstown State Park Barn Dance and Auction sold for . . . are you ready . . . $45 a pair! I was elated! That brought a request for a pair or two of socks for the YWCA Holiday Luncheon on November 2. So, I have a pair in a zigzag stitch in dark persimmon superwash wool, a Y theme color, on the needles. Next pair will be a plain ribbed pair, but in a superwash wool that has the fair-isle look; color is lavender, grey and white.

I finished my Monkey swap socks over the weekend, and have been busy getting my Monkey "accessories" ready. My partner has a toddler, so I collected a copy of Five Little Monkeys (jumping on the bed), a travel pillow with a pillowcase I made with Moda's Monkey fabric, and fleece cuddle blanket that has cute little monkeys all over it. I just fringed that. The back-ground is pink, but the monkeys are so cute, I couldn't resist it. My knitting pal is getting some Trekking Pro-Natura (a bamboo and wool blend that is very soft), a pair of Monkey socks, in a purple self-striping merino wool, a needle book for her double pointed needles that I made with the Moda fabrics, and some bamboo needles. Saturday, I found some monkey charms, so I made some stitch markers, too. I purchased a new Cookie A pattern, and since she said she didn't have any of the others, I printed out all the free ones in color. Then, I was tidying up my sock patterns, and chose some other freebies to send. I put all the patterns in a brief cover. I'm intending to "put it on the bus" no later than Friday.

Only five weeks until the Florida trip. There will be 8 of us this year. I'm not too worried about the clothes I will take, but I keep changing my mind on the projects to be taken along. Since we are flying, they will be limited. I think an applique block from my quilting, and the continuing quest in sock-knitting will be the limit. Then, a couple paperbacks I want to read!

Pictures next post, I promise!

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Camp 2007 . . . on to Camp 2008

This year's retreat is now behind us . . . only about 350 days until the next one. Everyone seemed to have a good time. I was fighting a cold . . . and losing . . . but I really did manage to get a lot done, which isn't always the case. On Thursday evening, I made a scrub top for my friend, Linda G. She was the birthday girl a few months back. I found a fabric I couldn't resist that was a cute pink, with little green frogs on it. I had good intentions of making it before Camp, but I seem to have wandered down that road that good intentions sometimes get you on! Anyway, a reprieve from the governor . . . or actually, from her aunt. While Linda G. went out to dinner with her aunt, I cut out and assembled the scrub top, and tucked it carefully into her little gift bag at her sewing station. I wasn't at my station when she returned and found it. The other girls said she pulled it out of the bag, and looked at it, peeled off her shirt, and put it on. She found me upstairs in the dining room a few minutes later. She threw open the door and jumped into the room, and pranced around, modeling the shirt. She said it had my name all over it. So, I wasn't successful with that surprise, but I did manage to pull off one or two others. Friday morning, I worked on some Kansas Troubles blocks, completing about eleven of them. Then I switched to a basket quilt in a strippy set that needed to be set together. Managed to get all the floral stripes in between the baskets, and only need to add the rose-colored border on the outside. Next up was some 6-inch patchwork blocks to make a border for an aging BOM in my stash. Got those all made and attached to the sides of the quilt top, thereby making it wider. I made two blocks for the Quilts of Valor camp project. Enough blocks were turned in by Campers to make three quilts for that project. I polished off the weekend by tracing freezer paper templates for a house quilt project, and slid into home on a few Kab-net wax foundation blocks in brights. I actually worked on every single project that I brought to Camp . . . a new record!

One of the cutest interpretations for this year's Retreat, "Run for the Border", was Lanna and Sossity's room assignments and name tags. They identified one wing of the building as Canada and one as Mexico. The individual rooms had names of the provinces or states. I was assigned to Ontario. Our name tags were wooden US maps with our names woodburned into them. And everyone got a Passport, with our nationality for the weekend in it . . . we were all age 29 for the weekend. The center of the Passport was the weekend's agenda. Each passport had a cover on it with a seal. They really look official. It was the greatest!

Door prize people, Barb and Moreen, really were over the top. We even had a few extra door prizes, which came in handy when a couple members who couldn't come to stay made a visit. They were certainly surprised when their names were called!

Next year's theme is "Hooray for the Red, White and Blue", since it is an election year. We will have some complete patriotic quilt patterns, as well as blocks based in election campaign slogans, the most obvious being "Old Tippecanoe". One of my "partners in crime" is also all wired up, and designing a project for next year's camp. Should be fun!

Sunday, September 02, 2007

It's tradition!

One can tell by walking into my house that some great quilting event is approaching. There are plastic boxes with quilt projects to choose from, door prizes that will go, and since I'm the program chair, there are stacks of handouts waiting to have holes punched for three-ring binders. I'm just about ready to go attend to that task while watching the Mystery marathon on Hallmark channel.

Another indicator of the fast approach is that DH's tolerance level is reaching the breaking point. He asked me this morning if anyone else prepares anything for Camp. I'm very lucky to have such wonderful friends who will pitch in and do anything that is asked of them, whether it is teaching a class, or making copies, or preparing samples. Of course, it is most easy for those who are located here, but that's not a deterent for any of them. We've asked participants to make a 12" red, white and blue block, and will assemble them into Quilts of Valor of injured soldiers from Iraq. We are also setting up a station where items to be included in packages for Any Soldier or Any Sailor can be deposited. My friend, Linda, who comes to our event from the Cleveland area has just picked up the reins and taken care of that project for us entirely. She made hand-outs, and already has boxes prepared for shipping immediately after Camp is over.

I've been trying to keep my personal project list limited . . . but every day, I think . . . oh . . . I could take that and work on it. There's never enough time. And, to make matters worse, my mind has started to drift toward the subject matter of next year's retreat. My friends always tell me, "You're out of control"!

I've been keeping up with my knitting of socks fairly well, though I have had a kind of Deja Vu all over again experience. Several years ago, I signed up for a scrap quilt class because I had three baskets of scraps to use up. At the end of the class, I had five baskets of scraps. With my sock knitting, I started out with a single basket of sock yarns. Now I have one tucked underneath the end table, and one in front which is suffering from "spillage". Late in the evening, when I'm too tired to knit, I sit there and fondle the skeins and try to decide which yarn will be the next pair. I've just finished #20 of the 52 pair plunge, and have four pair in different stages on the knitting needles. Tomorrow I'm going to an auction where DH will be a ring man . . . I usually get lots of knitting done there!

Hope you all have a wonderful weekend!

Friday, August 17, 2007

Wound up tighter than a $2 watch . . .

one of my mother's phrases for when I was excited about some coming event. It's still appropriate. I feel like I could jump out of my skin. What has brought on this "condition"?

It's about two weeks and five days until my sister-in-law arrives from Texas, and we're off to our annual Quilt Guild Retreat. The theme this year is "Run for the Border", and we are covering border and binding techniques. I haven't made a solid decision about any projects that I intend to work on, but have been anticipating the laughter and joy of being with my friends. I'm only teaching a basic class on calculating and constructing continuous bias binding, so I'll have the better part of three days just to sew on my own projects. Of course, the time goes much more swiftly than any ordinary days . . . especially those at work!

On my sock knitting front, I'm finishing the leg of the second sock for my 18th pair in the 52-pair plunge. Yesterday, I prepared some "wrappers" for three pairs which I donated to the Barn Dance and Auction for the Prophetstown State Park. One of my dear friends from Card Club is on the board. Last year, I was dumbfounded when four-sets of quilted coasters brought in over $50. I'm anxious to see what the socks will bring. I gave a green pair of Embossed Leaves, a pair of Jaywalkers in a red-white-blue denim colorway, and a pair of variegated browns in a garter-rib pattern. To jazz up the labels revealing size, fiber content, and care instructions, I imported a couple pictures of the Farmstead and Barn from the park website.

A very talented contemporary sock designer is Cookie A. Her pattern called, "Monkey" is enormously popular among current sock knitters, to the point that there have been some sock swaps dedicated to that pattern only. In fact, there is a sign-up for the third round, and I've decided to play. It won't be any extra effort, since the pair I knit for my swap partner will still count toward my 52 pairs, and I've wanted to start another pair anyway. A criteria for playing in this round is to answer a questionairre, and next topic is those questions, and my answers!

Monkey Sock Swap THREE Questionnaire

The basics:Do you consider yourself a beginning sock knitter, an intermediate, or have you been doing this so long you could probably knit a pair in your sleep?
Intermediate – need to add some toe-ups to my techniques. When I first was knitting, about 45 years ago, I made a pair of knee socks for one of the guys I grew up with. In his college colors, they had his school up one side, and his greek affiliation up the other . . . and he wore size 15 shoes. Kind of burned out my interest in socks for all the intervening years!
The measurements:
Shoe Size: 8 1/2 (US)
Foot circumference: 10 inches
Foot length: 9 inches
Yarn Preferences:What colors do you love? Yellows, pinks, reds.
Do you prefer solids or variegated?
In Monkeys, I like the solids because it shows the pattern more clearly, but I love racing to the next color change in my knitting..
Do you prefer wool, cotton or acrylic yarn? Superwash wool, any natural fiber, really
What colors would you never wear? Never met a color I didn’t like!
What are your favorite brands of yarn? Opal; Lana Grossa; Regia, Trekking, Austermann Step
Are there any new brands you would like to try? SWTC Maizie! Louet, Cider Moon, anything!
Cookie A. Patterns: Which of her patterns have you already knit? Just Monkeys, so far
Which pattern(s) would you like to knit and don’t already own? Twisted Flower, Flicker, Gothic Spire . . . they all look wonderful, so surprise me!
Other pertinent information:Would you be willing to have an international Monkey Pal or do you prefer one in the US? Surprise me
Do you have any allergies? Not that relate to my knitting!
Will your knitting be exposed to smoke or animals? No
Are you on Ravelry yet? If you don’t mind having new friends, what is your Ravelry name?
Plan to join the wait list!

Plan to "plow" the studio this weekend, and start a stack in the "staging area" for supplies and items to go with me to Camp. It's a little different for me in some ways, because I keep spare items for my dear sister-in-law, who flies in from Texas for the event. So, I have two sewing machines, two sets of bedding . . . just like Noah, only different!

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Playing catch-up . . . again!

Wow! Where does the time go. Actually, I do have a couple valid excuses for not blogging in a month. First, and most sadly, we lost a dear nephew on July 5th to cancer. David was just 47, and I've decided as the weeks have passed that his legacy was his sense of humor. We didn't realize how many times we quoted him, as in "How hard could it be?" He tossed that phrase in a lot as he reported on the installation of hardwood floors a couple years back, making his woes and struggles fodder for hysterical laughter. So, we all miss him, and think about him a lot as the days go by.

Then, I was in Virginia for about a week, with a couple days travel on each end of the visit. It's about a 12 hour drive, when going straight through, from our home to our son's home. The grandchildren have grown like weeds, and are very entertaining . . . especially the youngest. He's just a laugh a minute . . . a big Pokemon fan. He told me he likes Pikachu because he's cute, just like him!
As you can see, I did manage to find some fabrics. On the drive out, we spent part of Saturday in Lexington, Kentucky, and I acquired a background fabric for my bright stars block swap due next week. Also visited Rachel's in Staunton, Virginia, a delightful shop located in the old railroad station. A couple of those prints will become doll dresses in my never ending quest for the title of "Nana of the Year".
Grandpa scored a huge number of points when he delivered a Samantha to our granddaughter. We had piled a few doll sweaters and dresses on top of the doll. When Lisey opened it, she said she thought it looked like an American Girl doll box, but for a moment believed it had only clothes in it. She gave a shout and a squeal when she pulled the clothes out to reveal the doll. She said it is one she has been wanting. So, that was lots of fun, and Grandpa was somewhat surprised by the enthusiastic response.
We try not to disrupt their schedule completely when we visit, so we usually left after dinner, in hopes that they would settle down enough to get adequate sleep each night. After scouting around in shops that we like, we went back to our hotel, and I had my Featherweight, along with several patterns and fabrics for additional doll clothes. Each morning, I would bring one or two more garments for Elise, and one or two more for Ben's "American Boy". He took them and proceeded to dress all his favorite stuffed animals, too. I'd have to say the biggest hit for him was the Spiderman shirt.
The last two days we were there, we got to see Elise and Addison swim in a statewide competition held at the Natatorium of University of Virginia. This was Addison's first competition on this level, and he came in 17th in the backstroke. There were about 2000 kids participating in all. Elise also had a phenomenal finish, taking 14 1/2 seconds off her record for the back stroke. We had to start for home, so I don't know where she fell in the overall standings, but the new record for herself was certainly a great accomplishment. I can't swim a stroke, so it's nice to see them enjoying the water.
We brought two big boxes full of books home with us, too. We stopped in a Half-Price Books in Lexington, and subsequently located a church book sale there also. I found two titles that were just published this year, "Dragonwell Dead" by Laura Childs, a tea shoppe mystery, and "Daddy's Girl" by Lisa Scottoline. I had my list of titles that I am seeking on index cards by author. We made our customary stop at "Read it again, Sam" on the Mall in Charlottesville, and picked up 34 paperbacks there! I filled in the gaps in about three different series that I was looking for.
Next big event on the agenda is our Guild Retreat, September 6-9. Our theme is "Run for the Border", and we will cover borders and binding techniques, along with some related projects. One is a lovely quilt from Canadian Living magazine, which they were kind enough to authorize us to use. We have a few other little things up our sleeves. It's going to be fun . . . again!

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

The secret is revealed!

Picture won't cooperate, and turn right side up when I import it. Sorry to make you turn your head!

Last night was a surprise birthday party for our friend, Linda G, who will be turning 50 in a couple weeks. The teapot block which I posted earlier was to be part of this special quilt. Each of us made a block to represent ourselves, and mine reflected my teapot collection. The surprise came off perfectly. She was totally surprised by the 50+ gifts, which were everything from funny to serious, and in the bottom of the box was the quilt. Linda was completely surprised by it all.

Marguerite did a fabulous job, as usual, in preparing the label. She was also our hostess for the big event. We carried in food, and as usual carried in so much that we had to carry it back out again! Everyone is a wonderful cook, so no one went hungry.
One recurring theme relates to frog boots. Marguerite had received a pair as a gift from her aunt, and was less than thrilled with them. As she was recounting this to us one evening, Linda piped up that she had always wanted a pair. Little time was lost as Marguerite passed along the gift to someone who would really appreciate them! Needless to say, since that event, there have been many references to the frog boots, including their image on the quilt. I happened to run across a pattern for a child's frog hat. I selected some chenille yarn, which is a bit soft for this use, but that just made it funnier.

Here's Laura, trying to keep a straight face, while poor Ed doesn't really know what's he will see when she turns around!
Next birthday event is for Marguerite . . . I mentioned that I have time to knit a hat for her, too. I got the same expression she wore previously when talking about the frog boots!
I'm sure lucky to have such wonderful friends.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Auction Surprises!

Where does the time go? I guess I've been busy! DH has worked at several auctions lately, and brought home a very interesting find from a Friday auction that I missed while I was working. It's an 1886 Singer sewing machine. Note that it is operated by use of the thumb wheel on the lower right of the machine, which is connected to a pushrod at the back. The presser foot lever is at the top left of the machine. It is dated 1886 on the platform surface, and most of the paint is still intact, but the "S" in Singer has flaked away. Guess I really just have an "inger", but it does still have its' medallion on the base of the machine. It's cast iron, and just a little cutie. I'm delighted to have it.

Went to Columbus, Ohio, to the National Quilt Association show last weekend with my friends, Marguerite and Roseanna. Marguerite had two quilts in the exhibit. The first is her "Katrina Chaos", an abstract composition quilted with the stories of the storm in New Orleans, and details of the aftermath. Since it is difficult to read on the busy quilt surface, she has a label on the back with the text repeated.

The other quilt that Marguerite displayed was my favorite, Clean Run, representing her pet's participation in Agility training. She reports that Sparkle doesn't do as well in the event as represented by the quilt, but I think it's just such a happy quilt.
We made a leisurely trip to Columbus, stopping in four quilt shops, and The Container Store. That evening, we lounged around the pool at the hotel for a bit, reading and knitting. Then we went into Worthington for Graeter's ice cream. It was a beautiful evening.
The next morning, we hit the ground running for the quilt show. Lucky me . . . there was a knitting event at the same convention center. I managed to acquire some fabrics, AND some yarns for my sock frenzy. Bought the quilt book, "Home Sweet Home" by Blackbird Designs. The quilt with the houses appealed to me more than many house quilts I have seen, because each "lawn" had some applique. I am definitely addicted to applique.
On the knitting front, I got some Tofutsies yarn, made with Chitin, a fiber generated from crab and shrimp shells. Also got a skein with Bamboo, and a Panda Cotton with elastic. None are available locally, so I will enjoy the opportunity to knit with those.
"Plowed" my studio yesterday. Still have some tidying up to do, but my sewing machine has more than just a path to it, so I'm anxious to do some piecing. I have some applique to do for our Guild's raffle quilt, but need to pick up some template plastic before I can proceed on that one.
My grandson spent the night with us, and we went out to breakfast. He's lots of fun! I think we'll go to the quilt shop to get my supplies, and I will be ready to do my duty on the Guild raffle quilt this evening.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Time flying, as usual . . .

Haven't a clue where the last two weeks have gone, not to mention that it's the last day of a three-day weekend, and I haven't done any of the things I planned to do . . . yet. Tomorrow evening, our group is getting together to assemble the top which will be home to the wonky teapot. We had to make a couple alterations to our plan, when we received a few more blocks than we anticipated. Then, having made those alterations, we noticed we were going to run out of background fabric, so we decided to make four more blocks to fill some space. It must be assembled tomorrow evening, because it is going to the machine quilter on Friday. Nothing like a deadline, they always say!

On the knitting front, my DH worked at an auction on Friday, and another on Saturday, and he brought me a prize. About a week ago, I asked him to make sock blockers with a pair of wire hangers. He made them, and that set the stage for this auction acquisition. He brought home these lovely vintage wooden sock blockers in four sizes. I was ecstatic . . . then he said, "don't look in the back of the van, okay?" Yesterday, he occupied some of his time washing the 36 canning jars full of marbles. Today, he is cataloging the vintage 45rpm and 33rpm records he purchased. The best part is that he can't really say anything about my quilting and knitting stashes when they have uses . . . what do you do with 36 jars of marbles, and 45rpm records that you don't have a player for?

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Wonky Tea Pot Block!

A few of us are making some blocks to share. The interpretation was that it should represent ourselves, and the criteria required bright fabrics. I decided on a tea pot, to represent my collection, started by my mother's collection, which I inherited. When it came to selecting the colors, I just reached into my bin of brights, and pulled out a handful. The first one that caught my eye was the yellow tiger stripe as the perfect spout. The stripe seemed to "harmonize" with it well, and the other colors just carried on the theme . . . BRIGHT! I'm especially tickled by the lid. I think it looks like a Bowler style hat, except for the knob. When we accomplish our objective, I'll post a picture of our mutual project. Every time I look at it, I just have to giggle. The background is a pale green fairy frost print.

My sock knitting continues, too. DH had arthroscopic knee surgery yesterday, and I knitted about 90% of one sock . . . it was a bulky yarn on large needles, so that's not as amazing as one might think. The other pair that I'm working on are a lace pattern using US Size 1's, and let me tell you, that's small, and therefore progress is slow-going. Don't ask why I do this to myself, but I prefer a longer legged sock, so every pair I've made have a pattern repeat or two added to the leg. They just seem cozier to me that way.

My little teapot stirred up some enthusiasm for applique, so with that little gem complete, I shall go to work on some of my other 37 applique quilts in progress. Where to start?

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Remarkable Restraint!

Paducah, Kentucky, home of the American Quilt Society, as well as their annual show, is a tremendous event. There are so many things to see and do, for years, we have made the comment to those attending for the first time, "Bring $10,000, because you will want to buy everything you see!"

In past years, I've wedged bags of fabrics under the seats, and stuffed things into my suitcase to return home. This year, I had taken my Longaberger Market Basket, in which I placed some journals and pens for "room-mate gifts" for my quilting friends. Once emptied, it was the perfect place to put my purchases. Surprisingly, all my quilting items fit into that one basket. I had a stray bag that contained seven skeins of yarn for socks . . . also known as "Socks - some assembly required". Three books came home with me, too . . . Elly Sienkiwicz's newest Baltimore Title, and another applique book, and Nancy Bush's Vintage Sock pattern book.

Inventory of the basket revealed a 7 1/2 yard background fabric (amazingly, shown as background in the picture) for use in a block of the month called, "Songbirds"; 6 sampler packets of 5-inch squares; a few fat quarters; a Benartex tone-on-tone small quilt top in beige, pattern is Autumn Wreath; clearance table finds of another "ready-to-quilt" tone-on-tone white lap quilt, as well as a small pink one; a cute little embroidery kit which says, "Sew , Gather Love" with a sweet little girl quilting by candlelight; and a fun print of pretzels, which inspired me to collect a few batiks to make a wall-hanging.

I brought back a few gifts, too. My friend, Sandra, couldn't make the trip at the last minute because of water in her basement. She's fond of redwork, so I found a set of patterns with little girls month-by-month, a red print fat quarter, a blank lace-edged hanky, and a sampler of 5-inch squares of feed sack reproductions.

I bought my husband a book about buttons. He frequently picks up jars full at auctions, and carefully sorts them into sets. He's always asking if this one or that one is glass. The book has a big section on glass buttons that I thought might help him identify them. The downside? He's been dismayed at how many buttons he's had and given away that are shown in the book!

My youngest son has become a real homebody, and loves to cook. I found a slow-cooker cookbook that I thought he might enjoy, and provide some complements to his grilled masterpieces.

Now that the big trip is behind me, I need to get inspired with my quiltmaking. I have some applique that I volunteered to do for our Guild's raffle quilt, a block for a friend, and several blocks for a block exchange in August. Should be fun . . . but first, I need to "plow" my studio!
Didn't post this right away, because I wanted to add the picture. More photos later!

Monday, April 30, 2007

Paducah Pals!

WOW! Another great trip to the American Quilt Society annual show in Paducah, Kentucky. This trip was made extra special by the fact that my friend, Marguerite, had her quilt, "Katrina Chaos", accepted for the exhibit. Linda G. kindly made all the rest of us tags which read, "Friend of a semi-finalist, 2007", as well as commemorative bookmarks reflecting the quilt info and a picture. Best of all, she made some outstanding labels for Marguerite to wear, including a star-shaped one had a picture of Marguerite, along with a balloon stating, "I'd like to thank the Academy". On Friday evening, we toasted with champagne, and were all presented with special M & M's with the legends, "Paducah 2007" on some, and "Katrina Chaos" on the others.

There were only ten of us wearing the friendship badges, but many people commented saying they had seen them all over the convention center! A couple of us "planted" them with two of our favorite vendors, Xenia Cord of Legacy Quilts, and the Scissor Man, Brint Finizza.

Another extra special event this trip was the opportunity to meet Bonnie Hunter of Quiltville, and Lucy Van Der Sluis, a native of The Netherlands, from Quilting with a Past. We knew we would all be staying at the same resort, so we made plans to meet, and invited them to our customary evening "show and tell". Pictured are Laura, Bonnie, Dawn, Luci, and yours truly. Laura, Dawn and I presented Bonnie and Lucy with some Old Tippecanoe blocks, in an Old Tippecanoe Quilt Guild tote bag, with some other special gifts inside. Lucy brought us some historic Dutch fabrics, a bandanna with a map of The Netherlands, and a unique starched garment worn over the bodice in traditional Dutch apparel. This garment was starched as stiff as a board, and it is difficult to imagine wearing it daily. Seems as though it could cut into one's neck, since it is so stiff. It certainly is a lovely remembrance of a fun trip and great opportunity to meet internet friends.
I was able to make purchases which gratified both my favorite hobbies, quilting and knitting, and added the purchase of a locker hook for making rugs, as well as dyes from Pro Chem to make an attempt to handpaint some yarn for socks. Always an adventure!

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Where does the time go?

Last Saturday found me in Chicago, at the International Quilt Show, where it was sunny and brisk. Here's a view from the tour bus window as we progressed SOUTH toward home. I told our driver, I thought she was taking me home to Milwaukee, not Indiana.

Here's one of the first quilts I saw upon entering the convention hall. It is part of the Celebrate Spring exhibit, and I thought it was lovely. I'm sure that the winner, a hummingbird, will be posted many places, but this was one of my favorites. Ran into Dawn in the show. She took pictures of many of the same quilts that I did, but hers turned out a little better, so I invite you to check her blog.

If I survive tomorrow in the office, I'll then be off for ten . . . count 'em . . . ten days! We launch our adventure with a visit to my cousin in Markesan, Wisconsin, as our most northerly point of call. Then, it's back to my niece's home in St. Charles, Illinois, for a couple days, where I will collect my Texan sister-in-law, and bring her back to Lafayette. Then, all the crazy quilters load up on Wednesday evening, and begin our trek toward the AQS show in Paducah, Kentucky. It's a big annual event. A new feature this year . . . we get to meet Bonnie and Lucy.
I've been making a doll sweater for each of Lucy's girls. They are turning out cute, if I do say so myself. It's going to be great fun to give the sweaters to Lucy, and hear her girls' reactions when she returns to The Netherlands.
Paducah . . . I'm trying to be on a fabric diet this year. I did remarkably well in Chicago. I only purchased a tube of 7 spools of silk thread for applique, and a vintage needle book for my collection. That was just a one day excursion, however. The Paducah trip is four days of shops and vendors. Could be quite a trial. I probably won't go cold turkey, but I will be somewhat selective!
Let the laughing begin! There's no way to get into shape for all the laughing we do on this trip. If laughing is good for one, we're the healthiest bunch of women around!

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Spring has sprung!

Sorry to say, it's just a rumor, however. The meteorologists are forecasting dips into the 20's for Easter weekend. Everything is turning green, and will probably turn brown by this time next week! When I was a kid, a group of us participated in sunrise services on Monument Circle in Indianapolis on Easter Sunday. I don't ever remember doing that when it was warm. In fact, I have specific memories of one year when we stood in freezing rain and snow!

I still haven't organized my studio, but I have done some organization of my "socks - some assembly required" basket, as well as my sock patterns. I decided to participate in a knit-along titled, "52 Pair Plunge". The objective is to knit one pair of socks per week or 52 pairs in the term commencing April 1, 2007, and ending April 1, 2008. Surprisingly, at last count there were about 50 signed up . . . so, I'm not the only person in the world crazy about knitting socks!

The "bad" news is, my basket only has enough yarn for about 30 pair. Before the year is out, I'm going to have to buy more sock yarn . . . oh, no . . . don't make me do it! As to patterns, I have TWO three-ring binders full of patterns. I haven't counted them yet, but they are alphabetized, and sorted by the weight of yarn each calls for. Emily, another 52 pair participant is my hero . . . she has her patterns indexed with a spread sheet. I'm going to give that a whirl, too, and compare notes with her, so perhaps we an fill in the gaps.

I launched my participation with Basket Case socks, a pattern found on the internet;I believe the designer's name is MacVay . . . I'll have to check. It calls for a doulbe-knitting weight yarn, but my gauge still worked out for size 2 needles. My backup plan for this week is a pair of Dorm Socks with a freebie pattern by Bernat Yarns. I actually made a pair of those for my DIL at Christmas, and she loves them. They only took about a day to knit, so I can use those to catch up. Also have a pattern for some socks for DGD American Girl doll. The rules, fortunately, do not require that the socks be adult in fine gauge. The only need to be a pair.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Remember me?

I don't know what I've been doing, but I must have been busy!
My friend, Lanna, is having a second round of surgery tomorrow, as the next phase of treatment for removal of a malignant tumor with its host kidney. Please add Lanna to your prayers, along with ours, for a good report, and speedy recovery. Lanna is just as sweet as the day is long. So, to wrap her in the warmth of our hearts, as she approaches this surgery, we made her a flannel rag-time quilt.
Here's Marguerite at the machine, with Mary J, assisting, sewing the last seams together, and the assembled project. This is a cross country effort with blocks sent in by others in our group living in Ohio, Illinois, Texas, Georgia and Florida. Sadly, we've made a number of these quilts, so we are experienced. We'd be happy to give up the practice, since it means that someone we love dearly is very ill.
As to my own activities, mostly, I've continued in my sock knitting frenzy. I desperately need to dig out my studio again, and think about making some more doll clothes for grand kids. The room is such a mess, I hate to even walk into it, because it's almost claustrophobic. A good start would be merely cleaning up my desk!
Spring is trying to peek out at us. The iris in my front flower bed have shot up so fast, one would believe it possible to actually see them grow, reaching for the sunshine. The huge lilac bush outside my kitchen window is loaded with green shoots, and I anticipate tons of fragrant blooms. When my DS and DDIL moved into their house, the first spring brought three blooming lilac bushes. One has deep dark purple blooms. I always wanted a white one, but I think I may have to get a runner for one of the dark ones first! They are stunning. I haven't looked at my magnolia bush yet . . . I'm sure it's ready to bloom, too.
We're on the countdown for our annual Paducah trip. We've had a couple people have to withdraw, so I would be happy to find replacements for them. It helps bring down the cost per person, thereby leaving more money to spend in Hancock's on fabric! It's just 30 days away, now. We stay at Big Bear Resort on Kentucky Lake, reserving both a chalet and a townhouse. I'm afraid I may have scared away a couple candidates when I suggested bringing $10,000, because one wants to buy everything one sees! What a fantasy . . . to spend $10,000 just on sewing things . . . of course, then I would need even more time to dedicate to sewing, as to justify that expense . . . it's probably better to be more selective, just for the purpose of alleviating the guilt such spending would incur. The guilt surfaces now and then, as it is, but I try to lay down and let that feeling pass!
We are looking forward to meeting Bonnie Hunter of Quiltville, and Lucy from the Netherlands, who will be in other quarters. Bonnie is such a gracious hostess with materials shown on her website. She was very kind to permit our Guild to use some items from her website for our Retreat last fall. We have a whole new crop of Bonnie Hunter fans as a result. They are all using her "Leaders and Enders" techniques, as well as sorting their scraps. Sossity has baskets adjacent to her cutting table, and attached to each are lists of the components she needs to cut for three different quilts. They are filling up fast, and she has been turning out quilt tops like a whirlwind. Sandra is enjoying it so much, she has nearly ceased coming to auctions so she can stay home and sew!
Just thinking about it all is inspiring . . . think I'll get the snow shovel and clean my room, so I can start sewing, too!

Thursday, March 01, 2007

More auction scores

Winter is when my DH disappears to the basement to work on his refinishing projects. Some are sewing boxes that I’ve collected at auction, and sometimes he has a table or chair that he acquired at an auction. Last fall, he bought a game table because it had interesting carved legs. He doesn’t like me to come down and peek at his projects while in progress. He gets a big kick out of bringing the treasure up when its complete. As he was working on this table, we happened to catch an episode of Antiques Roadshow which featured a similar game table. It was reported that this particular style, with a leaf folded in half on top, that one rotates 90 degrees and flips open to create the full table, was popular in the late 1800’s. As with other projects which he has refinished, or touched up, this one is stunning. When I saw it, I had to quickly rearrange furniture in the living room to keep it from going out of the house.

The picture shows a couple other sewing boxes subject to his magic touch. The curved side model on top of the table is from the 1920’s, and is one of the many styles which were given as premiums with the purchase of furniture or appliances. On the floor is an interesting roll-top version, as well as a maple sugar bucket style. The d├ęcor is completed by the old crock, which I think looks enchanting with yarn spilling from the top. Actually, I have yarn spilling all around the room, since I have been on my knitting frenzy!

March is trying to keep us guessing whether it will come in like a lion or lamb. It’s been gloomy and rainy all day, but we are under a tornado watch. Yesterday, I was going to run a sewing machine Sink’s Sew and Vac, and pick up another that I had serviced, but when I got just outside the edge of town, sleet, freezing rain and snowflakes the size of a silver dollar were all hitting at once. I got less than halfway there, and decided when visibility was about one-quarter mile, that it would wait for another day. By the time I got back into town, my wipers had a coat of ice on them, but the precipitation had changed to rain.

I think this is going to be a nice evening to kick back in the recliner and tend to my knitting!

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Catching up . . .

Long time since I posted, but I've had a house guest, not to mention a bout of shingles. Boo-hiss! I'm a cheap drunk . . . used to go to nickel beer night, and take a dime . . . so, I usually respond well to medications, too. Since I last suffered this malady, the medication routine has changed, and I didn't feel so much like a zombie . . . or like I'd been on a 10-cent drunk! The biggest aftermath that I have noticed, fortunately, is a lack of stamina, but that's building up, too, and I'd say I'm back to 98% normal . . . whatever that is!
My house guest has been our eldest niece, who lives about one hour from Lafayette. Her mother is DH's eldest sister, with a 28 year gap between the two of them, not to mention 6 more brothers, and 4 more sisters. Helen, at 92, has been at the nursing home across the street from our home since last May, after falling down the stairs, and breaking her leg and wrist. She suffers the symptoms of Alzheimer's, and Jane, her daughter, is the only person she recognizes most of the time. With our 20 inches of snow, and road closings, we were delighted to have Jane stay with us. She's a wonderful guest, and we actually had a lot of fun. She said it's been the longest vacation she was ever on . . . about 3 1/2 weeks actually, but it went by so quickly, it seemed like a mere weekend.
Knowing my fondness for old quilts, Jane brought this Double Wedding Ring beauty, made by her paternal grandmother. It is a feast for the eyes with the striking red background, and the piecing is a festival of 20's and 30's prints, including some feed sack prints. As the pictures show, it is in marvelous condition.
Last weekend, Jane needed to check in at home, and there was an auction . . . surprise, surprise . . . so, we had breakfast, and piled into the van for a trip to Monticello. The auctioneer is not one of my favorites. For one thing, when the price offered isn't what he thinks it should be, he berates the crowd, telling them they should check "downtown" to see the value of the object. He also will arbitrarily remove items from the sale if he doesn't like the price offered . . which is a clear violation of the law. If it's advertised without a reserve, he has a legal obligation to sell it. Needless to say, his crowd usually thins out pretty quickly, and at the end, he is subject to selling tables full of items for $1. To make matters worse, he makes derogatory comments against a religious entity, and everyone there wonders how he can be so politically incorrect in these times.
We did buy just a couple things. DH scored a small metal Lily thread cabinet, and a box full of old wooden spools. He found about a dozen Lily spools which will go in the cabinet. There was also a grocery sack full of knitting needles, so he bought that for me. (At that point, Jane and I had gone to her house.) There was another cache of embroidery kits of various types, that he bid on, and the lady who won the bid was kind enough to give me about ten circular knitting needles she found in the bottom of that bag. When DH bid on the bag of knitting needles, he didn't realize they had thrown in four boxes of yarns that were under the table. I found more needles in that stash. The knitter had been a maker of afghans, and there were multiple skeins of acrylic yarns included in those boxes. DH will take all that bounty to our Senior Citizens Center, where the ladies make afghans and other items for sale in their gift shop. We finally have convinced them that sending us a thank you note each time we bring yarn is an unnecessary expense. We are happy that they can put it to use, and that's thanks enough.
My sock knitting frenzy continues. I started a pair of a lace pattern, but have decided that using the self-striping yarns is entertainment enough, and I enjoy the rhythm of just making plain socks. I've also knitted another sweater for my grandson's "American Boy", and my grand-daughter's American Girl has a fun little vest with a turquoise yarn with nubbies of pink, purple, yellow, and green. I used the purl side of stockinette because it seems more of the nubbies show. Both were fun, and fast to produce.
It's time once again to "plow" my studio, which hasn't yet recovered from my Miss Mary's Retreat. I need to take quite a few of the UFO's down to the basement to "mature", and focus on finishing one or two tops. I'm sure my knitting frenzy will be put aside for quilting again because next Saturday, a few of us are heading to Bloomington, Indiana, for the Indiana Heritage Quilt Show, which will be inspiring. I'm trying to stay on a "fabric diet" for this event. We'll see how that goes!

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Hot knitting!

I've been on a knitting frenzy for several weeks, mostly knitting socks with the fun, self-striping yarns, but including an occasional solid color. The deep purple are a pair for my sister-in-law, and the yarn has little color slubs scattered throughout it. I worked the ribbing in a mock cable, which is very subtle. I think she will enjoy them.

My grand-daughter has American Girl dolls, and in my never ending quest for the title of "Nana of the Year", I have made several sweaters for her collection. The most recently finished just needed buttons and finishing, but I kept putting it off. Finally, I sat down one evening, and completed the yellow vest with daisy buttons, and a light purple "Henley" style for her.

My 3-year-old grandson, Ben, watching his sister play, has been pleading his case for an American "Boy". So, recently, he acquired his version . . . a Cabbage Patch doll, which he promptly named, "Addy", for his brother. One of his first efforts was to try to put his sister's American Girl sweaters on his American Boy. Later that evening, I received a phone call from him, with the assistance of his giggling older sister reporting that the doll needed clothes, and Ben told me he wanted a sweater, too.

The sewing machine assisted in the assembly of a couple shirts, and a pair of purple jeans. One of the shirts has Batman and Robin on it, favorites of Ben. The other has crayons and star buttons, though the closures are velcro to make it easier for those chubby, little, cute hands.

I scouted around, and was fortunate to locate a booklet of sweater patterns on E-Bay. Naturally, no price was too high, when it is for one's grandchild, but I negotiated a nice reasonable price, and as soon as it arrived, commenced knitting with choices made from a basket of yarns left from other projects. For Ben, I was careful to select easily washable yarns, but I have been known to use mohair for his sister's dolls. Projects completed include the green "snowsuit", complete with cable sweater, hat and pants, and a couple pullovers. The turquoise one was actually one I started for his sister's doll, but the gauge was out of whack and it was going to be too large. Once I had the knitting book, I proportioned sleeves to fit the front and back already completed, and was one project to the good in very short order. The last sweater shown was an ombre yarn pullover, with buttons on the shoulders. I can't wait to see that cute little face when I get to give these to him. Unfortunately, the heavy winter storm which attacked us Tuesday forced me to cancel my trip to Virginia today. But, I'll re-schdule soon, and that just gives me a bit more time to keep knitting . . . working on purple socks for grand-daughter's doll at the moment!

Continuing the thread . . . .

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Another auction score!

It's winter, so that means it is also "refinishing season" for my DH. Here's one of his latest efforts with a sewing box. The top drawer is false, and actually lifts up to reveal a small compartment. It appears to have three additional drawers, however, the bottom two are actually a single combination providing a deeper drawer. It was ratty, and dirty, and scratched, but, once again, his skill has triumphed.
The little sewing machine on top was a surprise. We were at an auction, and I had not even seen the machine, though it was listed in the sale ad. Bidding began, and I looked around for DH, believing he was on the other side of the building where they were selling tools. I couldn't see him behind me, but that was where the bidding was originating. Another frequent auction attendee, Bill, usually buys sewing machines and restores them for sale on E-Bay, so I thought he must be after the prize. I just kept to my knitting, firm in the belief that it would sell at a price well beyond my budget. The winning bid was hammered, and the machine carried to the back of the room behind me. Imagine my surprise when the ring man turned and brought it to me! I nearly jumped out of my seat. Behind me, peaking around a pillar, I spotted Norm. So, this little Betsy Ross toy machine, manufactured by Gibraltar Manufacturing in the 1950's in New Jersey, has a cherished spot in our home.
We're looking forward to an auction on Saturday. My niece has been spending a few days with us to be in closer proximity to her mother, my DH's eldest sister, who is 92, and in the nursing home located across the street from our house. Jane asked Norm if he knew anything about old foreign monies, and he reported he had a few contacts, though he felt his knowledge was limited. A few days later, she returned and brought a box of coins, both foreign and American money. A couple interesting pieces included coins minted in the New Orleans mint, which closed in 1905. He helped her catalog her pieces, and contacted an auctioneer who specializes in coins. The auctioneer had a cancellation, so her coins will be substituted and offered to the public on Saturday. I'll report how she does, but we both gasped when she said she nearly took the American money, rolled it into coin wrappers, and cashed it in for face value. There were a number of 1800's coins that are pure silver. It will be nice to see her achieve a little extra pocket money for something that has been in her closet for years!
No one will be surprised to learn that I also bought a box of knitting needles at the sale. Actually, they had a needle roll with about 20 pairs of straight needles in it. The bidding quickly went to about $25, which was still a bargain, but more than I wanted to spend on knitting needles I didn't need. I set my sites on a long box that had circular needles, straight needles, double-pointed needles, and other knitting notions, just dumped into it. Successful bid was $17.50, which yielded 27 sets of straights, 34 double-points, and 26 circular. There were a number of odd needles, but I pulled out my little stash of "orphans" at home, and was able to pair up an additional four pair of straight needles, as well as three sets of double-points, matching not only size, but color and manufacturer. When I teach someone to knit, I launch them into their new hobby with as complete a set of needles as I can provide, to encourage them to keep with it. (I've also been known to share when someone is desperately seeking something hard to find.)
Next post, I'll show the results of my current knitting frenzy in my quest for title of "Nana of the Year".

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Retreat Results

Retreat came and went in a whirlwind. Of course, I had projects for about two weeks, upon review. But I did get quite a bit accomplished. First, i worked on a couple of my red and white Kansas Troubles blocks, just to get warmed up.

Then, I attacked the "scrap box". Last year, Linda G. was working from a bright yellow shoe box of scraps, making a pieced setting for some of the Lorilei girls. She was going to toss the remainder of the scraps, but I protested, and she gave the box to me. I got out my box of Kabnet Wax deli paper (see Bonnie Hunter's Quiltville website), marked a 10 1/2 inch square, with a 2" wide diagonal line for the purpose of centering my starter strip. I chose a white background with small black stars to be the constant fabric. Also in the box were some black as well as white half-square triangles for a 3" finish. Centering my starter strip, I just began adding bright strips of various sizes, to the point where the half-square would fit in the corner. Just worked with my "hand-me-down" strips at first. Since Miss Mary's Quilting Cottage is right next door to the Quilter's Harvest, we had to make a daily foray into the shop, just in case we may have missed something on a previous visit. I selected about ten fat quarters to add to the mix, and just kept going. We also made a "field trip" to Sew Creative, to visit our Mary J., who was working that day. A quick stop at my house, to grab a tub of brights, and I managed to assemble about 20 blocks. I'm planning to make about 28 more. It's going to be bright and fun, don't you think?

What may even be more fun is that we have launched a new tradition with the original yellow shoe box. I've added strips, and as soon as I complete my blocks, I'm passing it along to Ginny K. to play with it. It should be interesting to examine the fabrics when the box has made a full round to see if any of the original fabrics remain.

Next up, the quest of assembling the two remaining sets of shop hop blocks from the four shop hops I participated in in 2006. I had taken time to cut all the pieces, so I merely needed to open each packet and sew them together. With the good journaling habits I've learned from Laura, I pasted each instruction sheet into my journal, noting which shop distributed it, and the date I assembled it. Next project will be to descide on a set. The pinks and turquoises are the 2006 Flamingo Trot blocks from Tampa, Florida, area.

The last packet of shop hop blocks were from the 2006 Paducah Booth Hop featuring Judy Martin's fabric line for Timeless Treasures. I have always loved Judy's approach to quilt making. She doesn't rely on short cuts so much, but offers correct cutting instructions for perfect assembly. Ive managed to collect all of her books. Her book, "Scrap Quilts", has seen so many miles of use, that I had to take it to Kinko's to have plastic covers and coiled binding added to keep it together.
I think I made a remarkable amount of progress. Nothing can explain the fun, and how hard we laughed. There isn't any kind of "training" that prepares one for the aching sides from laughing. What a gift . . . friendship is the thread that quilts our hearts together.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Launch time!

Jan has arrived from Texas, and zero hour for departure to Miss Mary's Quilting Cottage approaches. This means it is time for the final cut. I made my selections, and whittled the stack to these six containers. I will, however, confess to pulling out some excess fabrics, and consolidating two projects in one container in at least one case. The trick is selecting the right mix of applique and piecing projects.

My food contributions are nearly complete. Last night, I sauted ground chuck as well as onions and celery. The will become part of my soup du Miss Mary's, "Cabbage Patch Stew". The recipe came from the 1998 Taste of Home Annual Cookbook. My DH started to complain that I hadn't made any for him yet this year. I whipped up a batch of lemon bars, and finished off the cookfest with sauted breakfast sausage, to be included in a breakfast casserole. It's easy and great because it is assembled, with sausage, cubed bread, eggs, milk, and cheddar cheese, all refrigerated overnight. Just pop it in the oven first thing in the morning, and serve.

Classic story about "breakfast casserole". I have prepared it many times over the years, and my husband loves it. One weekend, we had guests, and it was on the menu. Our guests included 3-year-old Weslie. I brought the casserole dish to the table fresh from the oven. Weslie took one look, and clapped her hands together, exclaiming, "OHHHHH! I just LOVE quiche!" I had never used the term in front of my DH. He turned to look at me so quickly, he nearly twisted his head off his neck!

I've just been told it's my turn in the shower to get beautiful, and we'll start to load the van. I just hope my sides are in condition for the laughing which always accompany one of these events!

Monday, January 22, 2007

Launching the 2007 Retreat "Season"!

Let the madness begin! It's almost here. Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, will find me with about 10 of my best friends at Miss Mary's Quilting Cottage. I've started a little stack of things to take. From the top down, I have:
1) Paducah Booth Hop Blocks
2) My Santa applique blocks
3) A strips and strings project complete with Kabinet Wax, ready to start sewing
4) Half square triangles, for "leaders and enders"
5) Kissin' Cousins quilt blocks to assemble
6) Millenium blocks, ready to sash and assemble (Way ahead on that one! Whoops . . . different millenium!)
7) Illiana Shop Hop blocks assembled, ready to set together
8) Florida Shop Hop blocks for 2005, assembled, and ready to set
9) Florida Shop Hop blocks for 2006, cut and ready to assemble.
10) A strippy Basket Block quilt top, ready to sew strips together
11) Perfume bottle blocks, ready to sash and set together
12) Pre-cut Contrary Wife blocks, ready to assemble
13) Kansas Troubles blocks in progress. I put some up on my fleece to see how they look. I like the way some of the red and white setting triangles look pink in the picture. I'm past half done with the piecing. Will have to think about borders.
14) Tea Pot blocks from The Quilt Company.
15) A blooming cup of Tea applique project.
16) A top that needs a few pieced blocks to make the border.

Since I will only be gone 4 days, I suspect this list will be subject to a great deal of cutting down. We chatted about renting a PODS unit to have our projects delivered, then putting our cars inside the unit, so we won't have to clean snow and ice off the windows. That was Marguerite's idea. I don't know why everyone says she's so dumb?

My sister-in-law, Jan, will be arriving Wednesday from Texas. She sent a box ahead, with her projects. We keep a featherweight and lamp, and most of the other tools she will need. She has a drawer in my studio where I stash things for her, and a couple drawers in the guest room for things she decides to leave here. We even keep a winter coat for her, so she doesn't have to haul it back and forth. When she comes off the plane, we will be in the terminal with the coat all warmed up for her.

I will try to take some "action" photos while we are in attendance at Miss Mary's. By Sunday, we should all be covered with thread, and happily exhausted.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Happy New Year . . .

It's New Year's Day, my DH is working at an antique auction, and I've stayed home to continue the "plowing" of my studio. It's going well . . . I've actually struck carpet, and have more than just a path to the sewing machine.

I made a brief visit to the auction to see if there was anything I couldn't possibly live without . . . they didn't have much, but they had a lot of it! So, it's going to be a long day for DH, but as you can imagine, the clock is going double time for me, since I must return to the workaday world tomorrow. On my way home from the auction, it seemed like a good time to stop by the local Hobby Lobby. All the clearance table fabrics were on sale for half the lowest price marked. I only picked up as much as I could carry in one trip . . . must get back to my exercise program to build my arm strength! I found a nice beige neutral, a Hoffman print with sea creatures in bright colors, a cute Halloween print (for $1 per yard!), some brights, and an adorable border print in black and white with poodles for my friend, Kathy. What a great way to spend New Year's Day!

Our group is getting wired up for our annual Miss Mary's Quilting Cottage adventure at the end of January. I've been carefully stacking projects which I might possibly take to work on. If I take them all, I'll have to rent a PODS unit to have them delivered! There is likely to be a whole lot of "whittling" done to the stack. I have good intentions of taking an applique project, and one or two piecing projects in hopes of getting tops assembled. We've been talking about this trip since about Thanksgiving, or immediately after returning from the Florida Shop Hop . . . . whichever came first! We have enough food to stay for a week, but it's only four days . . . which goes entirely too quickly, of course. Last year, I managed to get the center of my Dear Jane quilt assembled, and followed up with hand-piecing of the triangle border. It's all together now . . . I need to put aside my applique and piecing projects, and address some of my "ready-to-quilt" collection.

I did have a mission in mind, when I stopped at Hobby Lobby, and amazingly, I actually accomplished it. I was looking for a white with a small print in brights, or a white with black small scale print. I found white with small black stars scattered at random. I intend to mate it with a shoe box full of bright strips given to me at Miss Mary's last year, and assemble one of Bonnie Hunter's strip quilts using Kab-net Wax deli paper for a foundation. That should be a great mindless kind of task for those sewing days when I don't care to think too much.

I hear my Featherweight calling me . . . along with the box of Contrary Wife blocks all ready for assembly. I'd better launch dinner in the crockpot, and get sewing while I have the chance.

For the New Year, may your needle always be threaded, and the thread be free from knots!