Monday, December 08, 2008

Plugging along . . .

I'm being really good at not starting some new projects . . . that is, if assembling patterns, making templates, and selecting fabrics are not presumed to be a "start". I keep telling myself, it isn't started until I cut into the fabrics. (That's my story . . . okay, so far!)

I have 8 days to finish my brown bag challenge quilt for the Old Tippecanoe Quilt Guild Christmas Party on December 16. I'm just about to turn the corner on the half-way point around the border of my piece. The first border is just a plain one-inch strip, the second is a round of flying geese, and a plain border on the outside quilted with a cable design. My left index and middle fingers are very tender, but not bloody yet!

That's how I learned to use a thimble when I first started hand-quilting . . . I couldn't leave it alone, I was so entranced to the texture of the quilting. Once the fingers on my right hand were extremely sore, it made the transition to the thimble a snap. I've sewn since I was 8 years old, but my mother didn't even own a thimble, so I did all my garment sewing without one, too. Now, I feel undressed without my thimble . . . or one of the choice ones from my collection of silver thimbles. I probably have more than 50 that I have collected through the years. About five are silver with gold bands, and I have two 18-karat gold ones. One my husband bought me at an auction on the day of our 40th anniversary. It's an 1880's Stern brothers ten panel. The second gold one, DH gave me for my birthday in October. One rule I have is that the thimble must not have any holes, and it has to be suitable for use. Otherwise, I'd probably need a shopping cart to push them around!

I picked up a nice silver thimble on my recent Florida trip with friends. We were in Gulfport, for the best crab cakes in the world at Backfin Blue Cafe. It was evening, and there was a street fair going on. While most of the vendors were artists, there was an antique dealer right in front of the restaurant . . . and he had an entire case full of vintage sewing items. I selected a plain thimble which has the name "Irene King" engraved around the outside edge. It's a lovely remembrance of the fifth trip we have made as a group to Florida.

Pat Sloan has a cute pattern on her website for "Twinkle Ornaments". I was sorry to miss the opportunity to participate in a swap, so, at Pat's direction, I started to make one for myself. The pattern will use up a lot of those "scraps too small to be used" in a little box of gilded fabrics that I can't bear to throw away. If the scrap is too small for one of these ornaments, it is REALLY too small to be used! I need to dig into my doll dress trims for some embellishments to finish the top and bottom of the ornaments, and I think this is the kind of project that one keeps by the chair for brainless sewing while watching a movie. I've already decided that the blocks, which are rectangular, should be staggered with some sort of gold cord or rickrack to resemble a chain linking them together.

Tomorrow evening is our little quilt group's annual Christmas dinner. We are to be at Marguerite's . . . and of course, since she lives at the top of a hill with a steep drive, the weather forecast is not really good at the moment. She swears that all she has to do to bring on a snow- or ice-storm is invite us to her home during the winter months! So far, her record is intact.

It's only six weeks and a couple days until our mini-retreat at Miss Mary's Quilting Cottage. So far, I have two sets of blocks lined up with borders cut, ready to be assembled. One other project needs review to see exactly what remains to be cut to get it ready. I have a little stack of about seven blocks needing a pieced border, and my Santas of the World quilt will be closer to completion. Just some embroidery on each block to finish the main blocks off. Hopefully, once Christmas is over, I can focus on those and get that one all together, too!

Pictures next time . . . I promise!

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Don't pay the Ransom . . . got away from those Devils!

Can't believe it's nearly been two months since I posted . . . but I have been busy with work, travel, and my quilting!

When last I posted, we were anticipating a trip to Virginia to see the darling grandchildren, not to mention the beautiful DIL and handsome DS. We had a wonderful visit. Middle grandson, Addison, is very interested in music, and was selected to be in the Liberty Chorus. While we were visiting, we got to see him perform in an Opera, Noah's Flood. I also received a gift of a CD, "Kid-Pan-Alley, Charlottesville". This was part of a program where songwriters come into the schools and work with various classes writing songs. We didn't arrive in time for the premiere and release party, but the album is great. Lots of talented performers lined up to perform and record the songs the kids wrote. Addy's class wrote, "I love Virginia", and it was recorded by Cissy Spacek.

The other kids are busy, too. Ben is the talker . . . he always brings me up to speed on the latest Poke'mon news . . . and last night gave me about a ten minute run-down on the phone about his favorite Wii game, Mario Kart. Lisey is a percussionist, and today, she and Addison will begin piano lessons.

Came home from Virginia with the cold the kids shared with me. Came back to work one full day, and the next day, on my way to the drugstore to get my morning Cola, I tripped on the new streetscape sidewalk across from my office. It's okay . . . broke my fall with my face! Broke my nose in two places. My first question in the emergency room was, "will I be able to use my airline ticket to go to Florida next Wednesday?" Doctor said he didn't see why not.

So, home I went to ice my face and sit in the recliner. Couldn't stitch very well, because my glasses hurt when they were sitting on my nose. By the next morning, I looked like a raccoon. By Sunday morning, I was starting to experience vertigo. So on Monday, off to my doctor for a check-up of the nose, and a resolution to the vertigo. She said the combination of my cold, and the inflammation from the fall, and my ears were just over-loaded. She gave me some meds, and I once again asked the question, " Will I be able to use my airline ticket on Wednesday?" She asked if I would be driving, and I said no . . . so she said, go ahead and have fun!

Well . . . I always try to follow doctor's orders. I had a blast. Everyone was looking out for me, and identifying holes and bumps, and I watched my feet almost constantly. Every morning, I gave them the "fall color report", as the purples and greens descended from top to bottom of my face. I picked up some fat quarters for a planned quilt . . . probably a few more than necessary. Just before leaving home, I acquired an applique pattern called, "Chubby Chicks", and started a quilt that I have had in my head for years. I have lots of really bright chicks, and several brown ones. Around the border will be the legend, "If brown eggs come from brown hens, where do Ukrainian eggs come from?" I'm having a blast with these . . . there are some really wacky chicks in my selections . . . and I added an egg to most of the blocks, too. The block size is 6 inches finished, so it was the perfect carry along project for Florida.

We came home, and I have been back at work every day. I thoroughly enjoyed the Thanksgiving break, and did lots of quilting. I pulled out the blocks from a 2006 Booth Hop at the Paducah Show featuring fabrics designed by Judy Martin for Quilting Treasures. I had one kit for a block yet to make, and it featured a crazy quilt theme. I just didn't like it, and didn't think it fit into the general theme of the other blocks, so I made a star and square block instead.
Much happier with it. Then, I found an applique pattern called, "Bird on a Wire", available from Andover fabrics. It is 24" square which will make a perfect center medallion to be surrounded by the hop blocks. I just have 7 leaves to go to finish it, and the borders are all cut.

Our group is getting excited for our annual mini-retreat at Miss Mary's Quilting Cottage at the end of January. I'll have several projects ready to assemble there. Want to finish sashing my Sweet Tea blocks and get that one together. Also, have all the perfume bottles to set together for my cousin's quilt.

Then . . . what to work on next! I have at least three "kits" assembled for new projects, and that doesn't even county my PIP's!

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

PIP's progress

Making an effort to devote some time to some of my "projects in progress". (Sounds less negative than UFO!) The handles are all appliqued to the tea cups border of my Sweet Tea quilt, so it's time to begin assembly of those blocks. The pattern called for a 1/4" accent strip around each of the tea pot blocks, but I am replacing that with piping. I did a test block, and love the look, but had to "reverse" sew it. I'm using my Pfaff, and to use the piping foot, must disengage the even feed . . . which means, of course, that it doesn't feed evenly. Each of them is going to have to be pinned to maintain the proper alignment. The blocks get a blue floral print around each, followed by a striped border to complete the frame. The original design has butted borders, but I don't like that look. Think I will miter each one, even though it is an uneven stripe . . . I'll just be happier with the look. There are only five blocks, so it won't take too long.

Last night, Laura did a program for The Old Tippecanoe Quilt Guild about including words on quilts. She had thirty quilts to show her progress, and emphasized that it is a means making a quilt more your own. Her examples are all stunning, but the quilt she just finished for her son, Jess, will take your breath away. She used a quote from "A River Runs Through It", and the fabrics are predominantly batiks. I hope she posts a picture to her blog. Through her inspiration, I've put words on a couple quilts recently, and now I'm looking at my Sweet Tea quilt, thinking it needs an outer border with words. First thought was "Sweet Tea" . . . but how pedestrian! So, I'm on a quest to find a simple little tea poem that I can adapt. Since that quilt is a Block of the Month from a quilt shop, it could use some personal touches to make it different from the other kits sold in town. I've already made some adjustments, such as the piping, and more fabric choices in the tea pots and tea cups. Commentary on the outer border will really personalize it.

Looking around at the things "simmering on the back burner", I picked up my Santas of the World, and continued the applique on the tenth block, the Lapland Santa. Just two Santas left to make. It needs seven small blocks for spacers, and it will be ready to assemble. To personalize, I started embroidering the Santa's name, and country of origin on each block. A couple weeks ago, I stumbled over the perfect fabric for the outside border. It is a creamy white, with Merry Christmas in red, green and gold, in several languages. Got enough for a nice wide border, and used a 40% off coupon at Jo-Ann's . . . really made a dent since it was $10 a yard originally!

I stitched up all the attic window pieces that were cut to perfume bottle blocks. Need to cut more, and that one will be ready to assemble, too. I think it will probably need words . . . something about perfume, no doubt!

Finally, I've been cutting rectangles and stitching four-patches for Bonnie Hunter's "Old Tobacco Road" mystery. Since all the clues have been posted, I've been skipping around on that one. Four projects at a time seems much easier to manage!

In a couple weeks, we are going to Virginia to see our son and his family. I'm taking my Featherweight, and since we gave our granddaughter a Featherweight for her birthday, we can do some sewing together. Sindy Rodenmayer at Fat Cat Patterns has a nice pinwheel sampler, and a Bear Paw Sampler posted. I'm going to cut kits for the first three blocks of each, so that Elise and Addison, my grandson, can each start a quilt. Ben, the five-year-old, will want to do everything the big kids do, so big blocks of super hero fabrics are going to be the order of the day for him. I always ask my daughter-in-law privately about my ideas . . . then, I ask her again in their presence, so that they see that I respect her rules. I don't think the grandkids should see their grandmother in Time Out!

Monday, October 06, 2008

This and that!

I didn't post any comments about our trip to Nashville, Tennessee, to Ben and Amy's wedding. Amy's mother is one of our dear quilting group, who lives now in Cleveland, Ohio. We were all invited to the wedding, but none of the husbands wanted to go . . . imagine that?

It was a perfect weekend. Three of us piled in my mini-van and started out on Friday morning, destination, Quilter's Attic, in Goodlettsville, Tennessee, directly north of Nashville, just off I-65. Patti, in the mean time, since she had a shorter drive, slept in a bit, and then departed from Atlanta to meet us. We reconnoitered pretty close to our time schedule, and after bringing the quilt shop to its knees, headed to our weekend lodgings.

Marguerite had secured a reservation for us at The Bluebird Cafe for Friday night, and that alone was worth the trip. We saw Amanda Green, Jason Blume . . . and, of course, my brain has let go of the other names. The performance was great, the food was delicious, and I would highly recommend making the effort to see a show here. It's a showcase for songwriters, performed in the round, and up close and personal. Very talented people, and so much fun to see them join in and perform together.

The next morning, we went for the historic side of Nashville, visiting both Belle Meade Plantation and The Hermitage. Beautiful homes and grounds, and we had a nice lunch at the cafe in the visitor's center of The Hermitage.

After a stop for a little ice cream to energize us, we made double time back to our hotel and got beautiful for the wedding . . . fortunately, it wasn't much of an effort for the other girls, and I just schlumped along! The wedding was absolutely beautiful in a lovely little old church, The Church of the Assumption. On to the reception at The Parthenon. Just inside the doors, there was an old fashioned photo booth set up for wedding guests to have their pictures taken, and contribute to a scrapbook for the couple. It provides some really fun candid photos of the guests for the couple. Of course, we decided the occasion called for a picture of the "Siamese Quilters", and somehow we managed to cram into the booth, and take a few riotous pictures. Later, the mother of the bride joined us, and we did it again . . . this time, noting in the scrapbook, "with five you get egg roll". Fortunately, we were also immortalized together on the steps of the Parthenon, and that is the picture shown above. Bottom to top, is Melanie, our cute little redhead, Linda - beautiful mother of the bride in mint green, classic beauty - Marguerite, Patti - the bell of Atlanta with the great legs, and me as the top of the totem. I sure do have pretty friends! And, they have beautiful hearts, too!
Of course, before departing for home, we had to make plans for our next get together, which , for some, will be Pinehurst, in October, and for others, Tampa in November. We just never tire of being together! Of course, we were also talking about our Retreat in January, and what we will eat and what we will sew!

Thursday, October 02, 2008

DSIL might be right?

Every now and then, my sister-in-law, Jan, tells me to chill, and that I'm out of control. Last night, as I was cutting batiks for a Quiltville swap, and my mind was racing on pending projects, plus a couple new ideas . . . I thought, "I need to get a grip!" Then, I had a new worry . . . was I merely at the level that DSIL usually comments, or had I reached such a new high that even I could see the "whirling dirvish" to which I had descended . . . or is it ascended?

Here's what I was thinking about:
1) Cutting batik strips for the Swap . . . mission accomplished, as it happens. Maybe I should put this in the "completed" column!
2) Pat Sloan's "Farmer's Market" quilt for which I picked up a couple backgrounds, and grazed my stash for a few others. I've started a journal, and need to start making my applique templates. Several in our group are doing this one, and our Guild received permission to use the pattern for a Guild BOM/Retreat project for 2009. It's really fun to see the same block made with different fabrics.
3) Sindy Rodenmayer's "Summer Pond" BOM. I stumbled over Sindy's website earlier this year, and did not hesitate to subscribe. She's very talented, and has lots of applique patterns, which I love! When I first looked at Summer Pond, I thought it was cute, but didn't think I had anyone who might enjoy the quilt. Then, in the middle of the night a couple nights ago, I woke up thinking of the pattern executed in Asian and gilded fabrics. Of course, that led to the remembrance of a fabric I saw in the Quilter's Attic in Goodlettsville, Tennessee, last Friday, that I fondled several times, but didn't buy. Now, in my mind's eye, that's the only background I can see being used for these blocks. So far, I haven't succumbed to ordering it for this quilt. I thought I should stumble around in my stash a little more to be sure that I don't already have something suitable. P.S. I launched a journal, just in case . . . ready to make applique templates!
4) Bonnie Hunter's Quiltville "Old Tobacco Road" mystery. This is already started. The first clue called for 4 patches made with 2-inch squares. I have a box full of Benartex fabrics, all squares from Mr. B's Fabric Club, and quite a few "quilter's candies" . . . two-inch squares that were given out at quilt shows a few years ago. So, I made the first 150 four-patches using those. Then, I got sidetracked going to the Retreat, and haven't gone back to this one . . . but I do have the journal made, with all the clues inside.
5) Perfume Bottles in Attic Windows for my cousin. I've been working on this one, and I'm almost to the half-way point in framing the blocks . . . and loving it! I love these little blocks so much, I can't stop making them. I see a new gilded fabric, and can hardly walk away from it (see above)! Need to cut background for the last 30 blocks I cut, but will do that after Diane's quilt is assembled. I made an additional 70 in the last few weeks. As I work on these blocks made with gilded fabrics, I see some that would be great in the Summer Pond pattern noted above. One green print bottle framed this morning will be a knockout Turtle for that one!
6) Sweet Tea. Tea pot blocks are made, piping is made, and the blocks need to be framed. Only three more handles to be attached to the tea-cup and ribbon border. I can see assembly of the top in the near future for this one.
7) Garden Glories. This is a set of patchwork blocks that I made several years ago, and designed an applique float for diagonal set using a vintage embroidery test pattern, enlarged. It has one morning glory, one bud, one two-pieced leaf, with stems and vines embroidered. BUT . . . there are 24 of them, using three different Fossil Fern prints (blue, violet, and pink) for the blossoms. The detail is time consuming, but it will be stunning. A couple weeks ago, I got the pieces out, and told myself, if I just do one each week, I'll be done in no time . . . finished the one that was nearly done at that point, and promptly fell off the wagon! Wonder if assembling the center blocks, leaving the seams open for adding the floats of the diagonal set would be good inspiration.
8) Millennium quilt. Considering projects that don't need too much more work brings on the guilt. Just need to get the star-sash done on each of these, and it will be ready long before the NEXT Millennium . . . probably should make these star sashes a "leaders and enders" project, to make them go more quickly.

THEN . . . there is the journal issue. I pick these up at Michael's, most often, but now and then, somewhere else. Like to pick them up when they are on clearance, and tuck them away. Using a journal, I've found, is particularly helpful when going to a project after setting it aside for a while, to refresh my memory of where I stopped and where I intended to go. It's fun to try to match the journal cover to the theme of the project. Perfume Bottles are in a little journal with hearts on the front . . . significant because when I first met my cousins, who were all siblings who had just met, I trimmed sweatshirts with hearts embellished with ribbons that tied them together. Bonnie Hunter's Orange Crush was recorded in a journal titled, "Fresh Squeezed" with oranges and a reamer on the cover. Farmer's Market has "Strawberries and Cream" for the strawberry block. I put aside "Fresh Lemonade" for an applique in an Australian Patchwork magazine called, "Lemon Zest". A journal full of ideas is a Mary Engelbreit design that says, "Keep it under your hat". So, yesterday, I was looking for one to use for Summer Pond, and decided to pull the collection out of the drawers and cabinets of my studio and count them up. IF, I FOUND THEM ALL, there are 80 journals ready to be used for future projects. Fortunately, I think I have enough fabric in my stash to accomplish that goal!

Jan . . . I think I'm out of control!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Time flies!

Sometimes, the time can really get away from you. I can't believe its been three weeks since I posted, and that our Guild Retreat was over two weeks ago. We had a great time, with the usual cast of characters, plus a few more for good measure. One of our special opportunities was having your picture taken with a former President. Here Brenda and Gabriella make the most of the photo op. We borrowed Mr. Lincoln from his usual post in the window at the Republican headquarters, and he seemed to enjoy the break in his normal routine. Not only was he in the dining room for dinner the first evening, but he attended our pattern presentations, and I'm certain he was happy to see his block, "Lincoln's Platform" included in the mix.

To Abe's left, you will notice a Blue Star Mother banner. Ruthie told us about the organization, of which she is a member, and displayed her banner for us.

Everyone broke out their patriotic wear, but none could compare with Marguerite who claims to have the world's largest collection of tacky hair-wear . . .. or is it hair-ware? This charming ensemble was topped with a flickering star in the middle of her tiara, and I can't believe I was lucky enough to snap it in full "bloom". I had a deely-bobber on my head, too, but it was not nearly as memorable as this one.

Since I had been preparing for the Retreat for almost a year, I was ready to move onto projects other than red, white, and blue. I started the wonderful mystery quilt, which Laura and Dawn
prepared for us. There was a bit of whining about the high number of half-square triangles, but everyone was pleased with the results. You can see my DSIL's at her blog.
I did quite a bit of piecing, assembling all my pre-cut blocks from the AQS Booth Hop in Paducah this year. I'm planning to do a center applique medallion, and vine on the borders. Now that the blocks are all assembled, I have some decisions to make on the applique.
My dear cousin, Diane, was in Indiana for a visit in May. I suggested she look through the perfume bottle blocks already assembled, and promised to make her a quilt with them. She was afraid she would choose my favorites, but I said, "If you take one of my favorites, I'll just make another one!" I kept thinking in terms of just a sash and cornerstone setting, but I woke up in the night thinking of an attic window set with gilded fabrics, to carry out the theme of the many perfume bottle blocks. So, I began to dabble with that concept, and I'm very happy with it. I think the whole quilt, which will have 120 blocks, will be very elegant. I have continued to pick up gilded fabrics, and stuff them in the box for future use. Just before Camp, I cut those to be ready to sew, and believe it or not, had exactly 100 new combinations to assemble. I've only put together about 70 of those, and need to cut the background pieces to finish the last 30 blocks. A silly thing I have found myself doing as I sew the blocks together is to try to think of a perfume name as inspired by the fabrics. It can be quite entertaining.
Another project which got some attention is "Sweet Tea", a pattern by The Quilt Company. I have all the tea pot blocks assembled, and made piping to use in the frames for those. It calls for a pieced twisted ribbon border, with little tea cups place at even intervals along the ribbon. All the piecing is complete for the twisted ribbon, and I'm half done with the hand-work of sewing down the tea cup handle. They go pretty quickly, so I'll be ready to assemble that whole thing in fairly short order.
Friday, a couple other quilters and I will pack up for Nashville, Tennessee, to attend the wedding of another friend's daughter. We're making an adventure of it, and our plans include dinner at The Bluebird Cafe, and a tour of a popsicle factory. Of course, any quilt shops along the way are fair game, too!
I hear my recliner calling me, and I'll layer up some more attic windows to get them ready to sew. It's always nice to be re-energized about an older project.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Countdown is under 6 days!

We're all getting excited as our Retreat . . . Hooray for the Red, White and Blue . . . grows ever closer. If our e-mails were being monitored, the software program responsible for such activity would probably have been swamped by now. Everyone is commenting on what they will bring to work on, what kinds of tools we will share, which sewing machine will be brought along, and fabric choices, too. I've been excited because I really thought our attendance would drop this year . . . instead, we have a new record - 53! In the past, we have made about 48 sets of hand-outs . . . this year, we made 50, and I had to go back and add to bring us up to full complement. Here's the stack of collated folders . . . all three boxes, ready to go. Well, almost ready. I have some "political party" badges for everyone, so they can make their favorites known. However, our choices are applique, patchwork and redwork! They usually don't inspire anything but creativity!

My DSIL, Jan, will be arriving on Wednesday from Texas. Her projects arrived today. She mentioned that the large box weights 36 pounds . . . I haven't tried to move it. DH put it in the corner of the kitchen which generally becomes the "staging area". And, yes . . . those are cookbooks behind these items.

Between items put aside for "decor", and our "campaign rally" where the project choices will be presented, I have a rather ugly looking assortment. I just keep dropping things on the stack, and before departing, will have to go through and organize them in a much more reasonable fashion. This doesn't even include my sewing machine, and chosen projects. I have mentally whittled the number of projects to three or four. Laura will be presenting a mystery, so I started cutting the first pieces for that yesterday. Plan to assemble 144 half-square triangle units over the long weekend to be ready for Clue #2 at Camp. I'm sorry to say that since we took over responsibility for setting the theme, and presenting the programs, I have not been able to get everything to Camp in one car. DH usually has to follow, bringing the overflow . . . I tell myself that if we didn't have all the hand-outs and displays, etc., DSIL and I could make it in one car. Someday, we will have to figure that out . . . when we run out of ideas for themes. We have a little list made up . . . we're set until about 2034.
One would think we would just wear ourselves out carting all these things from the car into the lodge. Probably the absolute best idea we ever had was to arrange for "valet service". We have a lot of older gals who attend . . . me included . . . and after loading in, I'd be too tired to sew the first evening. (Of course, not sleeping for three or four nights and being on an adrenalin high didn't contribute to the slump . . . much!) For probably the last five years, we have rounded up a few grad students from Purdue to come out to Camp Tecumseh, and carrying in our baggage. The Guild seeds the "tip jar", and everyone is encouraged to contribute. After the first year, the same guys came back for three years, and were delighted with what they saw as easy money . . . then they graduated. Last year, at the last minute, our new recruits backed out. In a flash of brilliance, Brenda W. called Purdue's Air Force ROTC, and got two cadets. They were wonderful. As each Camper arrived, these guys would run out to the car to greet them, and get their things loaded up. Such handsome and clean-cut young men. When I called for this year's assistants, the Captain remembered our event, and said, "the cadets that came last year were really happy they came. This sign-up will be filled very quickly." They are to arrive at about the same opening time as we do, and we have a cart and a red wagon for loading sewing machines, etc., and taking them into the building. It is good pay for a couple hours work.
On Sunday, when it is time to go home, the process is reversed, and we have a youth group from a local church. They always have some sort of project to which the money is to be dedicated. As I remember, last year, they were getting some musical instruments, and the tip jar gave them a really good start.
Back to attending to details . . . I'll try to wear myself out the next few nights, so I might actually sleep before Camp gets here!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Quilting Adventures!

Yesterday was Tuesday, so I got my weekly fix of being with my friends. We usually meet for dinner, and then go to someone's home. This week, I was hostess. Laura has been my right-hand woman in getting our hand-outs ready for our Retreat. She printed all the black and white pages, and I have been printing those with some color on them. I just had a few more things I wanted to add for sure, and on a whim, I began looking through Barbara Brackman's book, with software CD, Creating a Family Quilt . . . exact title just flew out of my brain. I looked through the index for blocks which had a historic or patriotic connotation, and found Star Spangled Banner, Lewis and Clark, and Liberty Star. I thought those should be in the mix, too. So, I'm adding about five or six pages to those we already have compiled. The girls were all kidding me last night about how large a binder they should bring to Retreat to hold their hand-outs. I said that ideally, they would need one for Redwork, one for projects, one for applique, and one for blocks, because unfortunately, no one makes an 8-inch capacity binder!

The first year I was on the Retreat program committee, we found that 3-ring notebooks were a more economic purchase than paper brief covers. So, we assembled everything and handed out notebooks. As the first two binders came out of the box, one of the girls said, "Are we supposed to take a page out of each binder?" They were stunned when I said, "No, everyone gets a complete binder." I don't know why my DSIL says I'm out of control. After about three years of enjoying ever dropping prices on the binders, oil products started going up. That was the end of that ride, so now, we tell everyone to bring a binder for their hand-outs.

As to what is contained, we find many things on the internet, and always write to ask permission for their use. Fortunately, we have never been refused. Some websites actually contain the information that their products may be used for live Guild presentations . . . there's not a more lively group than those who come to Quilt Camp! Still, we always announce where these projects have been found, and credit the designers.

Secondly, I'm fortunate to have the Electric Quilt software program, and I use it as a source of several blocks, templates and rotary cutting instructions. It's nice because I can select a color palette to suit the theme of these blocks. Night before last, Mrs. Roosevelt's Favorite block received by attention, and when I had substituted red, white and blue fabrics, I LOVED it! I might have to add this one to my hopper of prospective pieced quilts. The software also permits selecting a standard size, so that a sampler quilt could be a project of choice for someone who finds it difficult to choose. Several of the blocks printed in full color on 8 1/2 by 11" paper can be displayed around the room where we do presentations for more inspiration. Plus, it's just fun to draft blocks and play with the software!

Saturday is the day of our excursion to Madison, Indiana. We've added a rookie to our adventure . . . Ruthie is going to join us. It will be a great chance to get to know her a bit better before Camp. I'm so excited, I'd like to drive out to Sossity's, our departure point, and wait!

Finished another Santa block, and started on the tenth one. I'm trying to be dedicated and finish this one up, so I can add another quilt top to my finished flimsies list. Thought I would piece the small setting blocks at Camp, where I will have a nice open floor to lay it out for assembly.

Better make sure I have a shopping list for Saturday . . . sort of insurance against disaster!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Week ends . . . past and future

The weekends always go too quickly. Saturday, my DGS and I went to the Children's Museum, in Indianapolis. This is a wonderful place for kids and adults, and home of the largest permanent exhibit of glass from Dale Chihuly, a blaze of color that is four-stories high in an atrium. Just stunning. I never tire of looking at the components of this piece . . . but, I always think about how hard it would be to dust! One very interesting aspect is that one can go to the lower level, and lie back on a rotating circular sofa looking up into the base of the sculpture.

Currently, they have an exhibit on animation, and Super Heroes. So, not only did we see some vintage cartoons . . . Drew giggled madly at "El KaBong", a Hanna-Barbera classic . . . but an animator was on site, and he actually drew a cartoon based upon suggestions from the audience. One of the suggestions was horseback riding, and another was waiting in line for ice cream. So, he drew a horse, making its way through a line for a chance to eat grass.

In the Super Hero exhibit, we saw one of the eight Batmobiles. Pretty strange looking car . . . bet it would be difficult to parallel park with those huge wheels in back. Evidently, my practical side was in charge this weekend, because I kept applying daily considerations to the unusual.

In the drive, to and from Indianapolis, my grandson was greatly concerned if we would have adequate fuel, as well as, the distance. My Montana has a trip odometer, so I set that at zero, so he could watch the mileage. It also has a computer mode which will reveal how many miles one can travel on the remaining fuel. I don't know that he has ever been in a car that ran out of gas, but perhaps he's heard comments about getting short of fuel. Anyway, I set the other computer, so that he could see our range of mileage, and I estimated that we could drive 450 miles on a full tank. One of the things that puzzled him was how the range could drop as we accelerated, and actually go up when our speed evened off. He wanted to know if we got better mileage by going faster. I wasn't sure I could explain that to his satisfaction, but I gave it a try. He so bright, it is really fun to hear his questions. Probably the funniest thing he ever asked was as we were driving along one day, and he said, "Nan . . . tell me how something works." My DH says I have set myself up to this kind of questions, going back to when I showed him an electric eye that activated an automated Santa one year at Christmas. I don't really mind . . . it's one of the things my parents always did for me, so I'm just carrying on the tradition.

Next Saturday, several of us are piling in a couple of cars, and heading to Madison, Indiana, for a visit to Margie's Country Store, a very nice quilt shop, and other destinations in town, such as Lanthier Winery, the fudge shop, and the Lumbermill antique shop. The crew will be kind of a combination of two quilting groups . . . sort of mixed nuts! I'm dedicating myself to minimal purchases . . . looking for some chocolate browns. A couple weeks ago, my friend, Linda G, came over from Cleveland for a couple days, and got to come to quilt group with us. She had been tidying up her studio, bent on removing things she would never make. She passed these things along to the rest of us. In this bounty, were eight kits for a quilt designed by Piece O' Cake a few years ago, called, "Tulips in the Park", long on my list of quilts to make if I live long enough. My first thought was that I would take the kits to Camp in September for the "garage sale" . . . but as I looked through them, I thought this was an opportunity for me. I actually have several of the patterns already, having picked them out of clearance bins through the years. Here in my hands was the launch of the quilt with 75% of them already in kit form. I didn't have to think too long, actually. I went to my stash, and pulled out a few browns to supplement, and that gives me a shopping objective, too. Having a "shopping list" is much safer than walking into a quilt shop without a plan!

Yesterday, I spent the day repairing a poorly made quilt. It belongs to the elderly neighbor of a friend, and Helen had asked if I could fix some places where the stitching had broken. The quilt had been a gift to this older lady, and she was greatly distressed by the damage. It turned out to be one of those imported jobs that some of the discount stores sell. If it had been technically correct, it wouldn't have been possible to repair . . . but, it also probably wouldn't have NEEDED the repairs. There were tucks and bubbles in the piecing all over, and some of those stresses were too much on the large stitches. Every time I thought I was done, I found several more splits. I just told myself, it would make this older woman happy, and make me appreciate the skills and good materials I am fortunate to have.

I'm going back to working on my current Santa now, and have only his beard, mustache, eyebrows, and hat to put in place. Saturday morning, before Drew arrived, I was able to piece the next Somewhere in Time block from Block Central, so that project is current again. I'm so lucky to have multiple projects going!

Thursday, August 07, 2008

About 3000 words - in pictures!

Finally . . . some photographic evidence of my recent projects! First, all of my Elegant Garden applique blocks completed to date. As I finished the last one in my stash, I was patting myself on the back, because I thought it would be a couple weeks before the next one arrived. Of course, it came the next day, and so I'm behind again!

I've been putting together the Somewhere in Time blocks from the free BOM at Blockcentral. The pictures don't do the fabrics justice. They include a rich burgundy, and a lovely Hoffman with gold embellishment. I've just printed the August block, Union Square, and will probably put it together this weekend.

The Old Tippecanoe Quilt Guild is in the midst of a challenge. In April, we each went through our scraps, and assembled a little bag of them. They were to be no smaller than 4" square, and could contain up to 20 fabrics. The objective is to create a quilt to be complete at our December Christmas party, using those fabrics, and as many as we wished from our own stash. The only requirement was that at least half of the packaged fabrics were to be included. I received the fabrics of Cheryl, a long-time friend, who was actually responsible for directing me to the Guild more than 20 years ago. It was quite an eclectic mix. The fabrics chosen to be omitted were all rather bright, except for one decorator fabric. The blue, used in the border of this piece was quite a large "scrap", which appeared to be left from a dress-making project. After studying the selection for a while, a Lori Smith applique pattern was selected, and some taupe fabrics in the mix were used in place of what might be green in a regular palette. I thought it would resemble some of the 1850's quilts where the color was migratory, and greens often faded to brownish hues. The vase is a brighter red paisley. Only the background, a gray, was added from my stash. You can see in the picture that it is marked, ready to begin quilting. I'm pleased with it so far . . . I'm not sure if it is to be kept a complete secret . . . so don't tell anyone you've seen it!
A friend finished her Santa quilt, which was a Block of the Month from a local quilt shop before it closed. It encouraged me to get mine out of the PIP's, and start working on them again. I had six blocks appliqued, and six to go. There are now three to finish . . . well, and the one I'm working on, but it has passed the half-way point. The original design was accompanied by some 12-inch finished pieced blocks, and those have been done for some time. There are also to be 14 six-inch pieced blocks, miniatures of the larger blocks. I made four of them, and then, hearing my own drummer, I appliqued a heart in one of the pieced red frames. I always like to add my own touches to the mix, so I'm going to make six more of the small block frames, using some of the toys shown in the Santa blocks throughout the quilt, such as brass horns, a rocking horse, a doll, a doll-house, a teddy bear, and a little wagon. I'm going to cut kits for the small blocks, and have those ready to take to Camp. It's amazing how much more can be accomplished when one pre-cuts.
It's just four weeks until our Guild Retreat. I rather thought that our numbers might be down this year, with gas prices where they are. However, we have surpassed our previous record number of participants. Our full complement will be 51 this year . . . I guess everyone is enthusiastic about our theme, Hooray for the Red, White, and Blue. I can hardly wait for it to get here myself, and way ahead on assembling the hand-outs, thanks to a great deal of help from my dear friend, Laura.
Several friends drive quite a few miles to get here for the event, including Dawn. She is teaching one of our "make-it-take-it" projects on Friday evening. One of the things we all love is the Baked Oatmeal for Breakfast at Camp Tecumseh. Dawn said she got to remembering it, and had to make a pan because she couldn't wait until September! Griff drives over from Cleveland for the weekend, and my DSIL flies in from Texas. It's a wonderful reunion for us!
Sossity will also present a "make-it-take-it" project on Friday evening. She has been handling sleeping room assignments, which can be rather frustrating. Some people seem to think they are staying in a four-star hotel. It's a great facility, but the rooms are more of the dorm room type. Some people have indicated a desire for a two- or three-person room. I don't know where they think the remaining half of the group would sleep, if they received their choice, since the rooms have eight beds in each room. It's not as though one lounges in the room as one would in a hotel. Most of us just fall into the beds and sleep long enough to hit the ground running in the morning.
I think I hear my current Santa ho-ho-hoing for me to come sit in my recliner, and stitch down his mittens. Hope everyone has a pleasant weekend.

Friday, August 01, 2008

My blog ate my homework!

Twice, I have written up a draft, with the thought that I would add the pictures and post later. Both times, my text has just flat disappeared . . . so, I've decided I'll post whenever I write something, and I can always just post pictures later!

We're at five weeks (four weeks and six days for those of us taking advantage of the extra day) until Retreat for the Old Tippecanoe Quilt Guild. Everything is coming together, and I'm so excited. I really thought that we might have a lot of people drop out this year, with gas prices, etc. But, actually, we have more registered than ever before, and also, much sooner than in previous years. Laura has been handling our hand-outs, and I have some color printing to do. The way things are going presently, the sets of hand-outs will probably be all assembled and ready to pass out long before Camp. Usually, a bunch of us get together a few nights before, and collate the stacks. It's really funny how serendipitous things fall into place for us, too. At my office, we use exclusively legal sized folders. Somehow, a case of letter sized was delivered. We were not charged for them and the office supply company didn't want to pick them up. So, the boss said they were free to anyone who wanted them. I waited until everyone else had a chance, and I ended up with three boxes. That will provide folders for Retreat for the next five years!

On a personal front, I've switched from a piecing frenzy, to an applique frenzy. I just caught up my Elegant Garden blocks, and thought I had about a week to ten days to coast till the next arrive, but it came the next day! It's marked, pieces are cut, and its ready to begin stitching.

I worked on the BOM Sweet Tea blocks, and have all the blocks complete. They are ready for sashing and assembly; then a pieced tea-cup border with appliqued handles . . . only 22, and they should go quickly. The pattern called for a 1/4 inch embellishment of an accent color, but I've decided to add piping instead. It won't affect the sashing sizes, and will make my quilt a little more unique. I'm always "cruising" scrap bags, and remnants, and was lucky to score some extra fabrics for this quilt, including, nearly a complete border kit. There are four pieced tea pots which were to be identical, but with the extra fabrics, each of mine are different.

My friend, Mary J, finished assembly of her Santas of the World quilt, and that enticement brought my project up from the basement. One Santa was marked, cut, and ready to applique. That one is now complete, and the next one needs only the mustache to place it in the plus column. The next two are ready for the handwork, and the last two needle backgrounds pieced, and a couple of templates made before they will be ready for marking. The original pattern is supported with twelve-inch pieced blocks, and called for fourteen six-inch miniatures of those blocks. Four of those are complete, and on one, I danced to my own drummer, using an applique heart in the pieced frame instead. That inspired the idea to applique half of the smaller blocks, using the pieced frame, and some elements from the Santa blocks. One has a little wagon, another a doll, doll house, and teddy bear, a couple have "brass" horns, and one has a rocking horse. I'm all wired up to work on that one now!

In anticipation of Camp, I pre-cut all the blocks from the Paducah booth hop. Pre-cutting saves a world of time, and makes the time at Camp much more productive. This is a lesson that Sossity taught us. Last Thursday, the companion finishing kit for the booth hop quilt arrived. It has a lovely applique pattern, but, of course, I'm thinking about changing it to personalize the quilt to my taste. The fabrics are from the Aspen line by Benartex, which is very rich colors in elegant patterns. I've been looking at some of Pat Campbell's Jacobean designs for inspiration on that one.

I scored an adorable set of patterns on sale for a Christmas quilt. This is definitely an addiction. In addition to the Santas noted above, the stash includes a fabric palette for a Christmas quilt that appeared in Fons and Porters "For the Love of Quilting", designed by Anita Shackelford. Maybe I'll try to cut the pieced blocks before Retreat to take that one along. I also have a Blackbird Farms design on dark backgrounds in progress, and some other Christmas books and patterns lined up. One can never have too many Christmas quilts!

Over the weekend, I'll post some supporting pictures to this text!

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Great fun with the grand-kids!

My grandchildren from Virginia were here for a few days. We packed a lot of fun into a short period of time. On Friday evening, we had to have dinner at Arni's, a local pizza legend. Whenever someone moves away, Arni's is the place they head first on a return visit. We shared salads and the ever popular Arni's Junior Salad. I'm sure no one left hungry.

Saturday morning, we went to visit Target. Ben is four, and it's his favorite place to shop. On my last visit out east, I asked if he would come to the airport to get me, and he said, "Sure . . . it's close to Target!" Lucky for us, they had some Pokemon toys on sale for half-price, so I asked my daughter-in-law if he could have two of them . . . she always just shakes her head, and smiles, and says, "Nana . . . ." She stretches out Nana so long, one would think it has 42 letters instead of just four! I don't want to be in time-out, so I always ask, and follow her directions. Lucky for me, she consented in this case!

Next stop was the auction to see Grandpa at work. It was mind-boggling to 8-year-old Addison, who couldn't sort out the Auctioneer's gibberish. He finally had to walk outside the building, because he found it rather irritating.

We had some lunch at home, and then went to Wolf Park. This was the weekend of their big fundraiser, when the wolves are given watermelons with have been filled with other treats. It was fascinating to watch them pick up the watermelon and cart it off away from the other wolves. This was also the first time they had ever given watermelon to the bison, filled with corn. They were mostly unimpressed, but one of the herd of about a dozen seemed to figure it out and enjoy it. We also took our other grandson, Drew, along, so he could spend some time with his cousins. I gave him my digital camera and he took some really wonderful pictures of the wolves and bison. He seems to have a natural eye for framing his subject.

Grandpa came home from the auction with a box full of costume jewelry for our granddaughter, which was a big hit. She spent most of the evening sorting and untangling the pieces she wanted to keep or share with friends. Some of the pieces were probably high dollar items when they were purchased originally, and had received good care. Needless to say, Grandpa was a very popular person.

We also gave Elise a Featherweight machine for her recent birthday. Unfortunately, we didn't have time to sew. But, I did teach her to do counted thread cross stitch, and she was immediately in love with it. I have a stash of kits that I got on sale, and she picked out one of vegetables. It didn't take her long to catch on and ask about half stitches. As they piled in the car yesterday to head back to Virginia, she was beginning to teach Addison with a dinosaur kit. I promised to find her some other kits, and some books and magazines . . . fortunately, I believe I have a reasonable . . . or DH would say unreasonable . . . stash of all!

I had picked up a card game packed in a little tin lunch box called, Peanut Butter and Jelly. The object was to make three sandwiches before your opponent. I'm sorry to report that I lost all four World Championships to Addison. I seemed to spend most of my time with the big rubber fly on my sandwich, or watching the ant cards take components from my alternate effort. Addison, who remains undefeated, took the game home to teach Ben . . . I don't see a lot of victories in my future.

The World Championship of Frisbee tricks was won by Ben. The score was four infinities, one bazillion, to 12. I suspect one of my weakneses was in letting the four-year-old competition keep score. I was not the only competitor to lose to this champion, however. He also defeated his Uncle Casey, and his dad, Kyle, with similar scoring.

There were several wiffle ball games played in the back yard, and a new variation called, "Calvin Ball" which relates to the Calvin and Hobbes cartoons. This was mostly because Addison's hair needs a trim, and made him appear to resemble a Calvin look-alike from spending a lot of time in the pool this summer. There was a lot of laughing, giggling, falling down, and general good fun. It was wonderful to hear laughing children's voices all weekend, and see them playing in the yard.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Sewing machine may overheat!

As you can tell, I've been busy. First picture is my London Square, which I finally put the outer borders on . . . don't know whyI put it off for so long. It was done in an evening! The outside purple star print border is a perfect complement, and was found in the Eleanor Burns' sale tent in Paducah for only $4 a yard. Not only perfect, but the price was right, also!

Next up is Orange Crush. This is only a portion of it, because it's quite large. I love it! I have sufficient orange left that I will make piping for the binding, and bind it with the floral that I used in the center of the orange blocks. It's so happy, it's delirious!

Finally, the quilt that launched three border projects in one week! This will be a Camp sample (our Retreat is "Hooray for the Red, White & Blue!"), and was made as part of Judy Laquidara's Quilt for an Hour Quiltathon. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and will have some sample components to show how to change the look of the star, for a 54-40 or Fight block, for example. I think this will be called Patriot's Stars". Or maybe I should name it for my 6-great grandfather who served in Lafayette's unit in the Revolutionary War. His name was Honyere Doxtator, and he was Oneida Indian. He is depicted in the movie, "Patriots". Or should I call it by his Oneida name . . . Tehewangeraken . . . he who takes up the snowshoes.

I'm going to turn my attention to the Guild Challenge project, making a quilt top from another's scraps. I have a central applique medallion all done . . . chose a Lori Smith design for that, and have pieced borders nearly ready to apply. I don't know where my digit-head brain was when I made the pieced borders which should have been based in a two-inch grid, but I made in a three-inch grid. I'll just have to re-scale when I trim the block, and then I can begin quilting that one.
I've also completed the applique of my sunglasses, so it's on to the "beach umbrella" blocks and borders for that one. Elegant Garden, block two, has also earned my attention as I stitched another corner of it last night. I carefully packed my applique kit to take with me to Guild meeting, and after completing a bud on it, found that the zip-loc of remaining applique pieces wasn't in my kit. Scard me for fear it was lost, but I found it in the container with the other blocks when I got home. Have one more corner to stitch before the center piece, and then a lovely pineapple applique will be the next in that series.
Since I like to work on multiple things at once, one of my well-aged projects is a star block quilt from a class with Sally Schneider. It's going to come upstairs to have blocks added, and hopefully be placed in the finished flimsy column very soon. I think probably two or three additional blocks will push it over onto the completed flimsies list. I just love looking at the list! I can't believe I've moved so many projects to completed quilt tops just since January.
Not neglecting my sock knitting, either, since I am finishing the second sock of a pair of Monkeys, using Schaeffer's Anne mohair, wool and nylon in a pink, orange and brown mix. I've certainly been infected with "bright" this summer!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Vote is in . . .

And the winner is . . . . Example A . . . green narrow border. The final count was about 11 to 7, including my quilt group last night. I've started assembling the pieced border, but need to do a bit more cutting for it.

Also, have my Quiltathon candidate, which I'm going to call, "Patriot's Stars" to the point of assembling borders. Hope to finish both before the weekend, or over the weekend. DH is working at an auction on Saturday, so I should have some sewing time. Actually, I have three tops ready for borders. My London Square has been laying around for weeks, just waiting for a good pressing, so I can measure for borders, not to mention move it to my finished flimsies list on the side bar. If I can show some dedication, I might be able to post three to the list in the next week or ten days.

Last night, I finished the twelfth sunglass block for my "Fun in the Sun" Florida 2007 memories quilt, so the applique is half done. The kaleidoscope beach umbrella blocks are starting to call to me. The borders will have lots of words, so a start on that is warranted soon.

Marguerite was kind enough to bring a replacement pattern of the Margarita glass block she drafted for our group three years ago. It's the only one that remained in hiding in my studio, and the plan is to use each of the three blocks for 2005, 2006, and 2007, along with a sunglass block as the spacers to assemble the Florida 2006 Shop Hop Blocks. Have some applique planned for the setting corners, too.

The OC group is hot on the trail of another project . . . or projects . . . to carry us through until a new mystery by Bonnie Hunter, projected to launch about Labor Day, the first Monday in September. Our Guild Retreat launches on September 4, so it might be an extra project to take along to Camp. In the interim, some suggestions have included finishing a UFO for June, launching Bonnie's Boxie Stars (shown on her sidebar in the list of patterns) for July, and some others are choosing to make Chunky Churn Dashes. I promised to make some tops for baby quilts for the Home Hospital Neo-natal Intensive Care Unit, so just a few of both of those patterns will work for that project.

Once again, my job is interfering with my chosen activities . . . which I wouldn't be able to afford at all, if I didn't have the job!

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Put it to a vote!

Some of the discussion on the Orange Crush chat has turned to studios, storage and custom furniture pieces. It was my chance, once again, to brag about the fantastic custom piece my husband bought me for my sixtieth birthday. All the drawers, except the large bottom left drawer, were salvaged from vintage sewing machine cabinets, while the top drawer was in a spool cabinet in it's former life. At the back of this drawer, the glass still resides!

What can I say about it? I am delighted to own it, and it was a lovely way to face one of those dreaded decade birthdays!
Bonnie posted the last clue of the Orange Crush mystery, so I went to the basement and spread my blocks out to ready them for assembly. I think my temporary title of "Danger - UV Warning" is right on target. Would you believe these pictures were taken with the basement lights off? Well . . . maybe not . . . but you have to admit this is a bright one! I will follow through, and include the pieced border which she suggests, but I also am trying to decide what the border colors should be.

Example A: This example brings in a narrow green strip before the floral accent fabric. (Ignore the dark red . . . that's the carpeting in the basement!)

Example B: Narrow accent fabric border, with wide green. I think the floral is lost in this example.

Example C: There goes blogger . . . maing it's own editorial comment by placing the image on its side. Narrow orange followed by floral border! Leave a comment with your vote, please!

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

With a little help from my friend . . .

We went to St. Charles, Illinois, this weekend for a great-niece's graduation party. It was perfect weather, and there were lots of people there, including Rachel, who is 4. She had been bouncing around playing with the other kids, visiting with people, and she came to sit by me, asking what I was making. Working on my sunglass blocks, I told her it was a story quilt about my vacation, and what I saw. And, I asked if she could guess what some of the things on the blocks. She was really excited to go through them with me, and she grasped the concept quickly. Her favorites were the spaghetti and the fireworks blocks, because the glass frames were orange. She told me her Ga-ga sewed and baked cakes, but she is dead now, and in heaven, and she pointed skyward, as she gave that information. She asked about my thimble, so I put it on her thumb and let her push the needle through for me. She sat with me for probably the better part of two hours, and we basted all the remaining sunglass blocks, readying them for the applique. I had just brought a partial spool of white thread to baste with, and when that ran out, I was pulling the previous basting stitches out (that held the sunglass lenses in place for applique) and re-threading my needle to baste the complete sunglass unit onto the blocks. I asked her what she thought would be fun things to put on a quilt, and she chattered away, noting snowmen, butterflies, lady bugs, balloons, and unicorns. She didn't think frogs would be a very good subject.

My brother-in-law sat down next to us, and was watching, and chatting with Rachel, too. She told us her last name, and it was the same as a popular singer. So, Steve told her that he listened to this singer in the car when he is driving. She said, "oh . . . he's my cousin, but he's dead, you know", and once again, pointed skyward. I think that little gesture is going to become a permanent part of our "lexicon". Steve chatted with her some more, and told her she is really smart, and she must be about 14. At this point, she bounced up to her feet on the bench where we were sitting, and gestured from the top of her head to her feet, and said, "Look how little I am . . . I'm only four!"

I spoke to her parents, and told them how much I enjoyed her company, and they thanked me for entertaining her for so long, and I said she did all the entertaining. Later, her mother came to tell me that Rachel had reported that she really likes sewing, and she's going to make quilts, too. She also said that Rachel misses her Ga-ga terribly, and that they were very close. She said when they were explaining that Ga-ga had gone to heaven, she was worried about who would make her birthday cake, because I understand Ga-ga was an artist when it comes to decorating cakes. I thought I was so lucky to have such a wonderful companion for a few hours at the party. I keep thinking about making a little quilt for her . . . with snowmen, and butterflies, and lady bugs, and a unicorn . . . but no frogs . . . and telling Rachel it has lots of Grandma hugs in it, just for her.

Friday, May 30, 2008

And then . . . depression set in!

Mail delivery brought me a communique from The Stash Store that the finishing kit and block kit for the AQS Booth Hop are delayed by back ordered fabric. While I'm absolutely thrilled that they took the time to let me know, I'm bummed that I've got another month or six weeks until it arrives . . . What can I possibly do to keep myself busy until then?

Had a distinct moment of weakness this morning, but I counted to about 42 million, and overcame the urge to sign up the the 52 Pair Plunge II which launches in June. I have plenty of sock yarn, but I also have sample quilts to prepare for our Guild Retreat in September, not to mention my various and sundry other projects. I told myself that even though there is an adequate supply of yarn for the 52 pairs of socks, I would have to dedicate myself entirely to that project, and call a halt to my continuing progress on various quilt tops. As a matter of fact, we will be going to Chicago for the weekend to a grandniece's high school graduation party, and I'm looking forward to the trip, simply for the knitting time. I desperately need to complete my obligation of a pair of Monkey socks to a dear gal in northeastern Indiana with the patience of a saint! I didn't manage to knit one single stitch while my cousin was here, so I really need to dedicate myself to finishing that project this weekend.

This weekend is also the Friends of the Library book sale. Like I need to buy another book! But, I have tried to control that urge, too. I always read about fifteen to thirty minutes before I go to sleep. If I don't get my chance to read, I have trouble drifting off! DH always grumbles that bed is for sleeping, so it's clear that he didn't have the comfort factor of reading in bed when he was growing up, as I did. The last few library sales, I have limited myself to the purchase of titles which will fill out a series by particular authors. With few exceptions, I take my index cards, alphabetized by author's name, and listing the missig titles, and attach the whole list to my tote-bag with a springy cord. Then, when reviewing the mounded tables of books, its easy to check and stuff them in the bag, if the book qualifies by being on the list. Hard backs are $1 and paper-backs are 50 cents, so it is a very economical purchase. As we finish reading our acquisitions, and perhaps passing them around among friends, we pack up boxes to return to the library for the next sale. It works out very well for us! In fact, when some of my friends are done with their books, they cycle them to us for delivery to the library as well!

Wonder when the next Orange Crush clue will be posted . . . I'm guessing in about another week on the approximate two-week intervals that Bonnie Hunter originally mentioned. I'm driving myself nuts trying to figure out how the remaining pieces will be utilized. It's just like Christmas . . . I want to open that package!

Hope everyone has a pleasant weekend!

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Picture This!

Progress Report: First image is the first applique in the Elegant Garden blocks by Laundry Basket Quilts. These are small, and just so enchanting. This might be my favorite of the first five block kits I have received. I know you have been waiting to these, Dawn!

Next up is Clue #5 of the Orange Crush . . . I chose to work in a bright palette. Would you believe that the lime green in the alternate block actually tames these DOWN! I think I should call mine, "UV Warning!"

Now, back to the archives! The above is a Christmas quilt pattern with non-traditional colors and fabrics. It's been so long since I made it, I'm not sure of the designer, but I want to say it was a Pat Campbell design. Don't count the berries . . . it wll make you tired. I'm sure they were multiplying as I appliqued them in place. Sort of like an ugly piece of fabric that never gets any smaller . . . the stack didn't seem to get shorter very quickly!

Another from the archives . . . Perfume Bottles from a swap several years ago. These were the inspiration for the blocks I have been making subsequently for a quilt for my cousin. Actually, I started to make a larger quilt for myself; when I decided on a setting . . . different from this . . . I realized I had many more blocks than I needed. This little quilt was one admired by Diane when I first met her, so I decided I would make her quilt first, and my larger quilt later. I let her go through the box of about 180 blocks and pick out her favorites. I'm ready to cut cornerstones and sashing for that one, so the intention is that you will soon be seeing an assembled quilt top, ready to go to Viki Kirby for her magical machine quilting!
On other PIP's, I've got all my sunglass lenses in place, and started to apply the sunglass units to the backgrounds. I'm going to my niece's high school graduation party this weekend, so maybe I can get a few finished blocks put aside for that project, since I have about a 4 1/2 ride, while my husband drives.
I've been all but stalking the mailman, waiting for my last three AQS shop hop blocks to arrive. I'm getting more anxious all the time. I'm going to give it until next week, and then contact the shops that haven't forwarded my blocks and ask what the status is!
I guess I'll have to give the old roulette wheel a spin to see what project will come up next! (Reminds me of going to a Super Bowl Sale with Marguerite once . . . they had a roulette wheel to spin for a discount. As we walked in the door, and heard it clacking, she said, "Wow! Sounds like my first sewing machine!")

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Extended week-end still went too fast!

My cousin, Diane, was here to spend the weekend with me. We didn't do a whole bunch except get to know each other, something we missed as children, because we didn't know she existed. I had a great time, I know, and I'm proud to say she got her edits done and wrote the last chapter of her book at my house while I sewed quilt blocks. It's amazing how much we resemble each other, and we compared some childhood photos, and we look like twins! In addition to writing a novel, she makes beautiful jewelry, so I made her do a show and tell of that when my quilting friends came over last night.

I pulled out my box of Perfume Bottle blocks and told her to pick out her favorites for a quilt. She was worried about taking my favorites, but I said I would just make another! I have a wonderful black fabric with tiny gold squares sparsely scattered on it to use for sashing, and a gold sort of "window-pane plaid" to use for corner stones. I also gave her the Peppermint Pinwheel quilt. I hadn't put a label on it, and when I reached for the quilt to add it, she grabbed it and hugged it . . . I had to promise that I wasn't taking it away from her!

I have ten Orange Crush blocks to make, and once those are done, I'm going to work on the perfume bottles until the next Block Central BOM block is posted next week . . . I have the framing for that block all done, so it should take less than an hour to get that one done.

Before Diane arrived, I finished making the Quilt for an Hour blocks . . . I didn't follow that format too closely. Once I knew the block size, I just kept the sewing machine pedal to the metal! I made my blocks in red, white and blue, so it will be a sample quilt for our Guild Retreat this fall.

I just have two lenses on one pair of sunglasses to applique for my Florida 2007 quilt, and I'll be ready to start setting those onto my blocks, and making the alternate "beach umbrella" blocks. I ran across some Tampa Bay fabric I bought in Florida, and my first thought was that the scale was too large to use anything in the sunglass lenses. However, there was a section showing the Sunshine Skyway Bridgein an applicable scale, and since that is an integral part of our quilt shop hopping, I deleted another design with wine bottles, and added the bridge to my quilt. I'm getting really wired on this one. Of course, I don't have too many projects that I don't get wired for sooner or later!

Now that DH is off painting every day, I can really keep the sewing machine rocking during my lunch hours! Pictures next post . . . I just wanted to get caught up!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Machine versus hand quilting?

Last night was Guild meeting, with show and tell. Several people had quilts returned to them by their favorite machine quilters. It is amazing. We had five talented machine quilters at the meeting last night. It has become much more common place for people to make the quilt top, and send it out to be quilted. I still love hand-quilting, and it's an emotional response for me. I find it relaxing, and satisfying. With the backlog of quilt tops I have, one would think I could easily give in to the trend. When my cousin, Diane, arrives this weekend, one of the things I plan to do is let her go through my perfume bottle blocks, and select her favorites for a quilt. I'm working on my mental attitude to assemble them, and turn the resulting top over to Viki Kirby for quilting. Otherwise, I know I can't get it finished. Though my frame is not in the living room, it still has a quilt in it that just needs one more turn to be finished, and a design added to the narrow outer border. I'm sorry to say it has "celebrated" more than one anniversary in the frame. Just too many irons in the fire, I guess!

A few days ago, a friend of ours called, and I chatted with her a moment before turning the phone over to DH. She was once a student, and then a colleague of DH, and now a long-time friend to both of us. Anyway, she asked how much longer I plan to work, since DH has been retired ten years. I said I have years to work. Later, I overheard DH say to her, "oh, I don't think she will have any problem filling her time when she retires". He keeps saying it's not going to be as many years as I think, but I keep pointing out in return that he retired with full insurance benefits. I hit the door, and I'm uninsured. I think there are lots of people in my shoes.

I thoroughly enjoyed my lunch hour sewing yesterday. I stitched the components for four additional star blocks, rinsed markings out of my Elegant Garden block, and posted notes to my journals for those quilts. I've collected some stickers with various phrases on them, and have been having fun adding those to the journals now and then. I should make some of my own on the computer, and I could tailor them more to the situation at hand!

I got to show my Shining Star quilt top at show and tell last night, too. It was so well-received that I'm fired up to do more lettering. Well . . . obviously, it doesn't take much to fire me up to make a quilt or knit something! I also took my Colonial Girl quilt top that was a gift from Patti. Everyone was envious.

Blogger doesn't like my pictures, so I'll just post this and try again next time!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Officially Summer!

My DH has launched his summer job today. He paints for a couple sororities at Purdue each summer. For me, that means when I go home for lunch, I have the house to myself, and can sew without interruption . . . until it's time to go back to the office. It's amazing how much one can accomplish with about a 40-minute window every day. Today's project is my Shadowy Stars; I have the units to make four more blocks laid out. Since this is Tuesday, I should have them all done by Saturday. Then, I just have to decide what I want to work on next!

I managed to mark and cut the next two Elegant Garden blocks. They are just enchanting in the lovely reproduction fabrics. At this rate, I'll have the first five done when the next packages arrive.

I'm still waiting for four of the AQS Booth Hop blocks to show up, as well as my finishing kit from The Stash Store. I haven't cut into any of those yet, preferring to wait until I have accumulated all of them.

I'm so excited . . . my cousin, Diane, is coming from Atlanta, and will stay with me this weekend. We only met about 12 years ago. My uncle, a musician, had a bad habit of getting married, and taking off. Diane located her brother, the eldest child, and about four years later, another sister found them. Unfortunately, Woody and Angelia both passed away in the last few months, so Diane is really an orphan now. We just clicked immediately, and I know we will have a great time going through the few family pictures I have. She is a writer, and master gardener. She resembles my mother a great deal. It really is amazing how much we are all alike, and is rather a strong demonstration of genetics versus environment! Everyone of the group is crazy for books and reading, and has some innate talent. Our grandmother was said to be quite a gardener, and both Diane, and my sister have inherited that talent. I hate to garden . . . my brother says it's because I don't like to get my hands dirty, and it is true . . . everything I like to do, one must have clean hands . . . sewing, quilting, knitting, and cooking. I obviously took after our other grandmother, who was a fantastic needlewoman!

Found this interesting color quiz . . . I'm not sure that this is my color! It's not a color I wear, because it washes me out so much . . . but, perhaps it does suit my personality!

you are lavenderblush

Your dominant hues are red and magenta. You love doing your own thing and going on your own adventures, but there are close friends you know you just can't leave behind. You can influence others on days when you're patient, but most times you just want to go out, have fun, and do your own thing.

Your saturation level is very low - you have better things to do than jump headfirst into every little project. You make sure your actions are going to really accomplish something before you start because you hate wasting energy making everyone else think you're working.

Your outlook on life is very bright. You are sunny and optimistic about life and others find it very encouraging, but remember to tone it down if you sense irritation.
the html color quiz

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Quilting along with a Quiltathon!

Stumbled onto Judy Laquidara's Patchwork Times, and her scheduled Quiltathon for May 17 and 18th. She had posted a block called, "Shadowy Stars", which I recognized as being a component of the historic block, "54-40 or Fight". Since I planned to make a sample for our Guild Retreat in September, I decided to play along, an accomplish two tasks at the same time, having fun with a block sewing with others, and getting a nice sample ready for Retreat. Theme for this year's Retreat is, "Hooray for the Red, White and Blue", so I selected an appropriate palette for my quilt top. Managed to cut all the components for the blocks, and assembled eight of them over the weekend. I might add that the fabrics were ALL from stash . . . doing that is giving me a real buzz!
I also finished the applique for my first Elegant Garden block. It's all reproduction fabrics, and I just love it. Before going to work, I managed to get the next block marked, and ready to start stitching.
Checked to see if Clue #5 of Bonnie Hunter's Orange Crush has made an appearance yet. I'm sure the "early warning system" of our little group, my DSIL, will notify us all when it appears.
I'm lagging behind in my knitting, trying to finish my Monkey swap socks. I have been in contact with my pal, Natalie, and she has been very gracious. I'm almost to the heel turn, so I did manage to get quite a bit done on those this weekend. I also volunteered to donate another pair to the Almost Home Humane Society, Barking for Bids Auction. I thought that would be an incentive to get the second sock off the needles. They need to be turned in by May 30.
Have a couple other projects lined up to start, but need to get back on track on some of my PIP's. I was doing so well at getting those quilt tops finished, but have fallen off the path with my current infection of Start-itis! The good thing is that I never seem to run out of things to do!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Give photo upload another chance!

Continuing the review of "flimsies" on parade, this probably my favorite block in another quilt in my "quilt top collection". I had some fabric with huge lilies, and one petal became the chest of my little hummingbird. The blocks are from a book by Brandywine Design, but I enlarged them to 125%. I just wanted to work with bright fabrics on a black background.

This is the whole quilt top. The only block that I can say I was disappointed in was the sunflowers at the bottom. That's because my bird is just a bit too dark, and it somewhat disappears, I think. I had great fun fussy cutting butterfly wings from striped fabrics. I bought a different print for sashing, but the whimsical stripes reaally punch it up. I have backing, and the bias made . . . just need to get started quilting it.

Here are my clue #4 blocks for the Bonnie Hunter Orange Crush mystery. Finshed them yesterday evening. When I was assembling the four-patch units, it seemed as though every patch I picked up was pink. Imagine my surprise as I began to assemble the spinning stars to realize how much green I found in my finished four-patches. I wonder what made them change like that? At the top of the picture is my journal, "Fresh Squeezed", for this project. As clues are posted, I print them off and paste them inside. Then, I add notes of my own, and follow up with the picture of my finished clues. These journals are most helpful when I have put something aside for a while, providing notes on plans discarded, or a technique to explore. I think someday, my grandchildren may enjoy reading the story of the quilt and what was happening in the world as I made it.
Have about a week until the next clue will be posted. Can't decide what should get the majority of my attention in the interim. Might have to start something new!

Monday, May 12, 2008

Start-itis virus rages on!

Last month, I was able to go to the Chicago show, where I fell in love with a quilt with wool applique called, Primitive Garden, by Primitive Gatherings. So, last week, I thought I would take a peek at their website, just to see if there is a regularly scheduled shipping date for said blocks. While there, I read their newsletter, and noticed an applique club, dedicated to making the Elegant Garden blocks by Laundry Basket Quilts. So, I hurried up and e-mailed them, asking for those blocks to be included in my monthly shipment. Today, I had a wonderful package from them with all these rich applique projects.

I'm working on Bonnie Hunter's Orange Crush, and through it's chat-list, I played along in a fabric swap. My partner was Renee, who was looking for some dark fabrics. I received her package last Friday, and it was wonderful . . . lots of 2 1/2 inch strips, which can be added to my Civil War Love Letters project, and a couple of darling Christmas medleys from Keepsake Quilting, which she said she will never use . . . well, I will, and I will certainly enjoy them, too.

Another "Crusher", Wanda, noted she was working without the EZ Angle ruler, recommended by Bonnie in making this quilt. I had a couple extras that I bought in Paducah, and put away just for such an opportunity. So, I sent one off to her, and today, I got a package with three adorable food related fabrics. Timing was perfect for this, because in reading Renee's blog, she made mention of a quilt-along at Amanda Jean's blog. She has just launched a star quilt, and in thinking about whether I should play or not, I thought I could use some of my food fabrics for a fun quilt . . . if I played. Well, you know . . . Wanda just pushed me right where I wanted to go anyway!

My next AQS block from the booth hop arrived today, too. And, my son sent me the Rosie the Quilter t-shirt for Mother's Day. Is this a great country, or what!

So, you won't think that I have just been launching new projects, I'm moving along on my Orange Crush Clue #4, though I almost messed that one up. I forgot which fabric I chose for my accent, and made some triangle squares with it. Fortunately, I looked back in my journal, and caught my mistake, and I have plenty of yardage to finish the quilt, in spite of my mistake. I'll probably use the squares I made to make a quick neo-natal quilt top for the hospital.

Last night, I finished the applique on the Guild challenge, working with fabrics selected by others. I'm going to look through what remains of that fabric palette, and I think a flying geese border is in order. At this rate, I'll have this done by July . . . and, it doesn't need to be complete until December. Usually, I'm terrible about waiting until the last minute.

Speaking of which, I am knitting Monkeys for Swap #4. They are all I need to get done to send off my care package to my swap pal. If she's been reading my blog lately, she probably wonders if I have ever knit! I might send all the other elements to her, and follow up with the socks as soon as I get the second one off the needles, just so she knows she hasn't been neglected.

Blogger is being obstinate, refusing to upload any pictures . . . so I'll try that the next time!

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Look what found me!

Some of my friends say they would like to follow me around, because I am so lucky at finding special quilts and quilt tops. Well, this one came to me! One of my dear friends, Patti, who now lives in Atlanta, brought this perfectly delicious 1930's Colonial Girl quilt top to me. It was discovered among her husband's grandmother's things, and they don't have any idea who may have made it. It isn't in a style that any of the family members was interested in, so she put it in her luggage, and brought it to me when she arrived for our Paducah pilgrimage. The colors are just stunning, the seam allowances are generous, and the applique and embroidery is perfect on all 12 blocks. I will finish for my grand-daughter.

Have been anxiously awaiting the arrival of the mail each day, watching for delivery of the AQS booth hop blocks from the various Paducah vendors. The fabric line for the booth hop is Aspen by Benartex, and it is really beautiful. Acid greens, and rich burgundies are the main flavor, support by light golds and mauves. As I made my rounds of the booths in Paducah, I looked at each booth's finished quilt. The one that took my breath away was The Stash Store.
Theirs had a central applique medallion, and I love the combination of applique and patchwork. I didn't rush into it, however. I waited until arriving home and thinking about it a few days before I called to order the finishing kit. It didn't hurt that DH gave me some money from the garage sale that he held while I was gone, so I didn't have to "go into debt" to order it. Kerri gave me the option of choosing the acid green or large burgundy floral for the outside borders, and I chose the floral. They were awaiting additional fabrics from Benartex, but she anticipates the kit will ship in about another week.

Yesterday was a dry spell for quilt related mail. Just credit card offers and catalogs. All the credit card offers were for platinum cards . . . how ordinary. I'm holding out for Plutonium . . . I want a card that is radioactive! The suggested limits on these cards are outrageous . . . more than my gross annual pay. I love to buy fabrics, and books, and yarns, but I don't think that even I could spend that much!

I have my Orange Crush components up to date, and I'm anxious for the next clue to be posted. In the interim, I have been bouncing from project to project, stitching on my sunglasses for my current Florida quilt, setting fabrics aside for my Civil War Love Letters quilt, cutting the setting pieces for my 2006 Florida shop hop, and launching the current Guild challenge. In April, we each brought a quart bag with up to 20 pieces of fabrics within, with a minimum size of 4" square. These were all placed in a large container, and we stuck in our hands and pulled out our prize. My palette was quite a challenge, with both vintage calicos and bright fabrics. Fortunately, we only need to use half the fabrics, and can add as many of our own as we wish. I started working with the vintage calicos (more than half of the collection), and I'm fairly pleased with how it is coming together. Of course, the reveal won't happen till December, so you will have to take my word for it!

I wonder what the postman will deliver today?