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!