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!