Thursday, March 18, 2010

Instant retirement!

One of my finished quilt tops for 2010. This was a Block of the Month kit from our now departed, "Sew Creative" quilt shop. I always like to make some changes to make my efforts just a bit different from others participating in the same BOM. For this one, I purchased a couple scrap bags of the fabrics, and made many different tea-cups in the borders, changed three of the fabrics in the four pieced tea pots, and used piping to frame the blocks, instead of a mini-border. The pattern was Sweet Tea by Quakertown Quilts (I think!)

This was a BOM purchased on sale; the pattern is Lori Smith's Ode to the 30's. I highly recommend the BOM's offered by Stitchin' Heaven in Quitman, Texas. Each block kit came packaged with a fabric swatch detail, noting the block piece to which it was assigned. That made it nearly impossible to make a mistake. Also, the pieces were generously cut. Since I'm somewhat of a scrap nut, I kept all the scraps, and if a fabric appeared for the second time, I tried to cut as much as possible from the left-overs. That left me with some nice large scraps for future projects!

This one is Old Tobacco Road, and it is large, as the photo shows. This was completely made from scraps, and is a Bonnie Hunter design. I love it! Her designs always start with small components, but she launches each project with simple blocks, and before you know it, those little pieces have turned into a giant gem! This was my second mystery of Bonnie's designs, but there will be more. I've got Double Delight in progress, and just need to make about 9000 three-inch nine-patches to finish it!

Finally, my most favorite BOM, also started from the shop, Sew Creative. This was Santa's of the World, and included a pieced block as well as an applique block each month. Once again, wanting to put my stamp on it, I made the choice to change some of the mini-blocks to a red pieced frame around some component in the applique blocks. In the center, you can almost see the gold jug, and a little wagon block. Others included a doll, a doll house, a rocking horse, a star, horns, a heart, an evergreen tree, and candles.

To put my own mark on the individual Santa blocks, I embroidered the country of origin and the name of the Santa. The kits included one white fabric to be used for all the pieces of the beard. I found a panel to make a stuffed lamb, and used it to cut the largest pieces , which gave more depth to the beard.

My final alteration was to add the topper, "Here Comes Santa Claus!" For this, I used some software (Printmaster Platinum) to create a banner in the appropriate size, and interesting shape. I marked the letters on red fabric, and appliqued the peppermint stripe letters to it. Then, I trimmed them to leave about an 1/8th of an inch around each letter, and appliqued the doubled letters to the background. It makes it appear to be satin stitched in place, but it is all hand-applique. I think I like this addition best of all! It gave the added advantage of adding some length to a square quilt. Finally, I finished it all off with a piano key border of many of the fabrics used in the top itself.
I finally rounded up the hardware to my quilt frame, . . . put it where it was safe, and it was so safe, I couldn't find it! The frame is up in our den, where I can easily see the television . . . if I want to. I have a quilt nearly finished in the frame, and I'm focusing on finishing it, soon.

Just three days after my last post, my boss called me in to terminate my job. I think I'm mostly over the shock now . . . and beginning to enjoy not hearing the clock radio click on in the morning when I'm warm and cozy in my bed. I should give kudos to General Electric. My mother bought my radio for my 11th birthday, when I was just starting in junior high. It has awakened me for the last 52 years. They just don't build them like that any more! Now it is in semi-retirment, at least. I'll probably have to use it occassionally, but not every day!
So, I'm all set . . . if there is a cotton or wool yarn shortage in our future, I have a very good stash to protect my interests. Since my last day at work, I have been knitting socks (pix next time). Yesterday, I decided that I would begin knitting mittens for Christmas, and I found some lovely patterns on-line. The first pair, called "Cabobble Mittens" are on the needles, and the cuff is nearly finished, using some yarn I hand-dyed. If I can make a pair every two or three weeks, I'll have a nice selection to share at Christmas.
Watch for more pictures and projects here!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Wowed 'em at Show and Tell!

I'm always teased when I have lots of projects for Guild show and tell, and last Tuesday was no exception. I had my five recently assembled quilt tops; fortunately, Claire also brought lots of finished quilt tops, too. So, that meant there were two of us to pick on.

Our current president, Cheryl, likes to launch the meetings with a survey, or something to think about. At next meeting, it's going to be true confessions . . . how many projects in progress, how many quilt tops ready to be quilted. I needed to pull all of mine out anyway, so I started the count. I have 48 bed sized quilt tops ready to be quilted. I sorted that stack into those to be hand-quilted, and those to be machine quilted by Viki in exchange for hand-knit socks. Those two stacks came to 30 for Viki, and 18 for myself. This count, of course, includes only those that are actually ready to be quilted. I laid four tops aside to be donated as charity quilts; there are about half a dozen that I probably won't quilt, but I still have some emotional attachment or something . . . I just can't let them go . . . yet! Hey, Viki . . . do you need about 150 pairs of socks?

Over the weekend, I worked on my Bonnie Hunter mystery (#4), Double Delight. I have about 40 square-in-a-square units to trim, and then 4 million nine-patches to make to finish that one. Also, pulled out a project from a mystery taught in 2006, by my dear friend, Laura. She was teaching the class at a now gone shop called, "Sew Creative" . . . and Roseanna and I decided to sign up to surprise her. We had a great day, but I put the quilt top away, and haven't gone back to it. Pulling it out gave me an opportunity to remember a fun-time spent with Laura and Roseanna . . . and I have all the blocks sewn, ready to press and assemble. I'm fiddling with the outer border, which will be a vine; picking up an idea from the background fabric, the flowers will be red hearts. I was trying to locate a green in my stash for the vine and leaves, when some minor inspirational nag in the back of my mind suggested making the leaves from scraps . . . my green drawer is just about to overflow again. So, I guess that means I only need to locate a suitable green to be the vine.

My other sit and sew project is a Bonnie Hunter (can you tell I'm a fan) pattern using Kab-net Wax paper as a foundation, and "strings" to make blocks. (Strings are narrow strips, though I have used mostly 1 inch, 1 1/2 inch and 2-inch. I don't know why I am obsessed with big quilts, but I'm planning to make about another 18 ten-inch blocks, before putting this project on the completed flimsy side bar! This is a kind of funny one, because it started with another's scraps. Linda G. had a shoe-box full of strips, and was making piano key borders. She finished her project and was going to throw the shoe-box in the trash! My heart nearly stopped . . . I grabbed the box, and started my string blocks, adding some from my stash, too. My DSIL, Jan, also used some of them . . . adding from my stash . . . oh, well, I have plenty to spare! Any way, I suggested passing the box around, and I need to pass it on to the next player who made the call, Ginny.

Not neglecting my knitting, I am nearing the heel on the second Jaywalker sock for Viki, and plodding away at my SFS pair, too. For no brainer knitting in the car, I launched a pair for myself in Cat Bordhi's classic pattern, using some Debra Norville sock yarn with aqua, lime green, and a mottled reddish brown and white . . . it's really cute, not as disgusting as it sounds!

Grandson and his buddy, Trevor, will be my shadows on Saturday . . . Grandpa will be working the auction, and I'm going to get the boys started with a penny book, the beginnings of a coin collection. They want to go to the auction, too. Grandson really likes to help put the chairs and tables away after the sale . . . it doesn't hurt that Grandpa usually finds a couple dollars in his pocket for Drew, too.

Pictures up next, double dog promise!

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

UFO's becoming finished objects!

I launched the new year with the completion of two quilt tops . . . applied the borders to my Old Tobacco Roads, a 2008 mystery from Bonnie Hunter's Quiltville site. Also put the borders on an old Block of the Month, Sweet Tea.

We had our annual Retreat at Miss Mary's Quilting Cottage, and I assembled my Santas of the World, including borders, and worked on my previously cut Double Delight . . . still lots of work to go on that one.

Over the weekend, I assembled Ode to the 1930's, a kit I purchased from Stitchin' Heaven in Quitman, Texas. The pattern by Lori Smith, had been a block of the month for them the year before. I started the blocks at the Guild Retreat in September. I finished all the pieced blocks in the interim, and then all the applique blocks. It has a "cottage" setting, with blocks in four sizes, 3-inch, 6-inch, 9-inch and 12-inch. It was time-consuming to assemble, but once that was done, the borders went on quickly. I have to highly recommend Stitchin' Heaven. The kits were so well done, and easy to follow. Each month's blocks came with a color chart indicating which fabric was to be used in each block. As I progressed, I put stickers on the overall design chart.

So, here it is, February 9, and I have four finished quilt tops! Big ones, too! Last night, I kind of looked around at some of my other projects to decide what to work on next. I have a complete set of blocks from the first Paducah Booth Hop, and had made an appliqued center for it. I was fiddling around trying to decide if I should try to find more of the fabrics, and make it larger. I laid it out on the floor with the blocks just abutting the applique center; I've decided to cut to the chase, and put it together as it is, with a plain and then a pieced border. It will be a nice cuddle quilt size, and with the snow coming all day today, that sounds very appealing.

I also looked over an Illiana Quilt Shop Hop kit where I have all the blocks assembled. I designed a Mariner's Compass to be part of that quilt, and just need to get busy and piece it. Have plenty of fabrics, so I need to pay some more attention to that one.

I've been in a bit of a knitting frenzy, too. Just keep looking at sock yarn sales, like I need to accumulate any more of that . . . currently OTN are a pair of olive drab Socks for Soldiers . . . i'm knitting those two at a time, and it seems to go more slowly that way. The yarn is Regia Stretch, and the pattern is a classic knit 2, purl 2. I'm really liking the texture of the knit. Also, working on a pair of Jaywalkers for my friend, the long-arm quilter, Viki. The yarn is On-line Savanne, and boy, are they bright. The zig-zags of the pattern really show off the yarn well. Viki has posted a picture of the pair I just finished for her . . . that I forgot to photograph for my sock journal, so her blog-post has been substituted.

I'm also working on a pair of "Sam" from Cookie A's book, "Innovative Sock Knitting" for Viki with a light blue and gray, with a metallic thread. That pattern requires a lot of attention. The other evening as I was working on them, DH asked if I was all right. I said, sure, why wouldn't I be? And he said I was counting out loud . . . so, obviously, I was really into what I was doing. I hate to frog socks or most any knitting, for that matter.

I'm off to set up my featherweight in front of the television, and put that Booth Hop quilt together. Then, I can have FIVE quilt tops to take to the next Guild Show and Tell!

Thursday, December 31, 2009

My New Year's Resolution . . .

is to not make any New Year's Resolutions. They rarely make the cut, anyway. I'm just going to play it by ear, and make the things that appeal to me, and enjoy every stitch. I know I can live up to that resolution!

The movie we saw, "Blindside" with Sandra Bullock, was great. As polish on the apple, when I got home, there was story about Michael Oher, and the making of the film on 20/20. Seeing the real Leigh Anne Tuohy and having just seen Sandra Bullock's portrayal, I have to say her performance was dead on! What a dynamic and wonderful woman. I give this film ten stars! See it!

Gave Viki her next pair of socks. She gets so excited, and her whole face just sparkles. I wish everyone could get the kind of response to a hand-made item that she gives. She's just a very pretty little gal, anyway. Lots of sparkle and lots of substance.

Maybe I should just count my blessings of my friends here. They are all wonderful women.

First, my DSIL from Texas. One would think that we couldn't be as close as we are, since the only time we lived in the same town was for a couple months more than 40 years ago. We just have a great time together. We're the babies of the family, having married the two youngest sons. Her family commitments have recently begun to limit the amount of time we get to spend together, but we sure had a great run for several years, when she was able to fly free. Still, I do spend more time with her than all of my other in-laws combined!

Melanie is our strawberry blonde. Beautiful eyes and smile, great sense of humor, and just as cute as a button. Her needle skills are exemplary.

Her "twin", Marguerite, is a lovely blonde, very smart, energetic, thoughtful . . . an elegant beauty. She always describes herself as a slug, but she is extremely meticulous and everything she makes is perfect.

Mary J. is bright and brash. She always has a funny comment, and is ready for anything.

Laura keeps her light hidden under a basket. She's a very strong mother, and wonderful friend. She's perky and cute with short dark hair, a slender figure, and a great laugh. She's the one who got several of us started putting words on our quilts. She finds the most touching quotes, and inspires us all with her efforts in quilting.

Ginny is really sweet and lots of fun. Her back problems have slowed her body, but not her spirit. She loves to play along, and no one gets a bigger kick out of it when we all get silly.

Mary M. is our quiet observant one. She's supposedly retired, but she really hasn't quit working at Habitat for Humanity. I think she might have tended to be a project person, but we broke her of that! Now, she usually has several projects going at the same time. She is meticulous in her efforts, and her work is lovely.

Lela is our great audience. She's full of sparkle and laughter and is drop-dead gorgeous. Her only problem is that she denigrates her work . . . she makes lovely things all the time, not just her efforts in quilt making. She gives from her heart, and makes one feel so loved.

Michelle is one of our "baby girls". She was previously married to Melanie's son; after they split up, I think she might have been afraid that we would hold that against her, but she's learned that we love her because of who she is, not who she might marry. When she gives you a big smile, her eyes squeeze shut, and her whole face lights up. She's working her way through school, too, and we're all so proud of her strengths as a mother to Blaine, and admire her ability to keep "all the balls in the air".

Sossity joined us a few years back, and she's just a joy. She's very enthusiastic at every thing she approaches. She wants to learn it all, and is very productive. She just jumps in wherever she's needed and does a great job. Another beautiful young woman, and marvelous mother to Donovan.

Lanna is our lovey-dovey. Talk about having a boat-load of health problems, in the last several years. She's faced kidney cancer, brain aneurysms, and various other assaults that would have broken most people. But, she still approaches everything with a smile, and is another dedicated mother. We don't get to see enough of her is our only complaint.

Patti lives in Georgia now, but will always be part of this group. We suffer not seeing her for several months, and then, we just pick up where we left off when she joins us. She's got an irreverant wit, and is our world traveler, with her husband, an economics expert. When she's queen, we're all going to be in high clover.

Linda G. is too funny for words. I've known her the longest, since she was a student and later, a colleague of my husband. This one just sparkles! And, she's educational, too. How many people do you know that have read the biography of Mr. Ed . . . the talking horse. She's going to be a wonderful grandma for her first grandchild, because she will be ready to play at the drop of a hat. At least she always is with us!

Dawn has never lived near us, but once Laura introduced her to the group, she just fit right in. We don't know how we ever did without her. Our first meeting with her was a trip to Paducah one April. By the time autumn rolled around, we talked her into teaching at Retreat, and now she's one of our regulars. We were extra lucky, too, because her daughter, Holly, was at Purdue, and that sometimes gave her an extra chance to be with us, and we got to know Holly, too. Too bad Holly had to graduate and move to Oklahoma! She's ours now and we're not giving her up.

Can't mention my wonderful friends without mentioning Roseanna, and the loss we all feel since she passed away. We'll always miss her. She was the best kind of friend one could ever have. She just filled in any spot that needed attention; she was enthusiastic about any ideas that were presented. We're always going to have a little hole in our hearts, but know that her spirit will always be with us.

There now . . . I like counting my blessings much more than making resolutions. My wish to all for the new year is to be surrounded by soulmates, as I am. I love them all very much.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Christmas is past . . . .

This was one of those whirlwind years. I can't quite believe Christmas has come and gone. For one thing, we changed our plans for a trip to Virginia at the last minute. The weather scared us off for the first time. We've never seen a flake of snow on any of our previous Christmas trips to Virginia . . . but before we departed Indiana, the kids got two feet of snow. They didn't get out of the house until Monday, late afternoon. We started talking about it, and on Tuesday morning, it was snowing to beat the band here at home. We decided we've always had such good luck, that we didn't need to be stupid in our advancing years, and put ourselves at risk.

It's probably the most laid-back Christmas we have ever had. We hadn't put the tree up, since we were going to leave, and it seemed silly to put it up for two days. DH decided he wanted meatloaf for dinner . . . I love cold meatloaf sandwiches, too, so that was fine with me. Our niece came for dinner, since she was across the street visiting her mother at the nursing home.

I made pumpkin bread and pumpkin pies, too. Our grandson came to spend the night, and had a buddy come over to play on Saturday. Sunday, I bundled the boys all up, and sent them down to Murdock Park to go sledding. I went to check on them after about 45 minutes; they were all aglow and happy, so I told them they could sled a few more minutes. Finally, at about 1 1/2 hours, I had to practically drag them to the van to go back to the house. Fed them hot chocolate and cookies, and got them warmed up, while I threw their wet jeans in the dryer. Neither of them had ever worn long-johns before, so they thought running around the house in their long-johns was great fun, too. Then, later, we took them to Pizza Hut where they both devoured a personal pizza each. I hope that these will be fun memories for them someday.

I went through some of the junk in my studio. What a mess! But, I put away lots of fabrics that were strung around the room, and organized a couple of my projects toward completion. I'm on the last block of Lori Smith's "Ode to the 30's" pattern, a flower pot with hexagonal blooms. The leaves and stems are all in place; just the pot and the blooms to finish. This may make the cut to go to Miss Mary's at the end of January, and become a finished top.

I actually cut the first borders for my Old Tobacco Roads, and need to trim the top before pinning them on and sewing them. I'm determined to have that one in all one piece before the clock strikes for the New Year on Thursday night.

DH is working an auction on January 1. He made the mistake of looking at the sale ad last night. They have about 65 lots of coins, and 27 guns, not to mention numerous antique toys, and other antiques. With the quantity of items, it's going to be an all day, and into the early evening kind of sale. He'll be beat when he gets home. It's the only auction all weekend, so they are sure to have a big crowd, and with the quality of items, lots of high prices. I'll have to make an appearance, but I'm going to try to stay home and sew!

It's Tuesday, and that's when our little group gets together. We're all going out to eat and then to the movie this evening for a change. We always have a good time, so I'm sure it will be fun.

Promise to post pictures with my next comments!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Still on target . . . sort of!

I've been making my planned pillowcases as gifts. Last Saturday, my grandson, Drew, helped me pick out a few more fabrics. Made one last night, and hopefully, Saturday will provide me with an adequate block of time to make a few more. If not, I'll just put my Featherweight in the car, and sew in the motel room on the way to Virginia. Driving time is reserved for knitting.

As is usual, with my quilting friends, our focus isn't on the approaching holidays, but on our planned retreat at Miss Mary's Quilting Cottage, at the end of January. I think I could easily gather at least 142 projects to work on that weekend . . . culling it down to a smaller number, but none the less, unreasonable quantities for the time available to us!

It's going to be very different without our dear friend, Roseanna, this year. She kept us all straight, and organized. She was younger than I, but still acted the part of our "group mom". Maybe we'll ask her brothers to come join us for lunch one day. We'll have to re-organize our usual menu; Roseanna always made her wonderful chicken rice soup. I think all of us will have trouble sitting any place but our usual spots, probably leaving her sewing station open. She will be with us in our hearts.

I've been collecting the clues for Bonnie Hunter's Quiltville Mystery, "Carolina Christmas". I peeked at Clue #6 this morning, and I'm in love. The quilt is stunning; might have to gather my fabrics, so I can sew on that one at Miss Mary's. I've got to put the borders on a previous mystery, Old Tobacco Roads, which I loved, as well; and I have Double Delight completely cut and ready to sew.

One thing I have learned in recent years is that preparing a project by getting as much cutting done in advance frees up lots of sewing time. One can really make a lot of progress when it's all ready to sew. Pre-cut projects in the "on-deck circle" are an Anita Shackelford Christmas quilt which appeared in Fons and Porter's Love of Quilting. I have blocks to finish for two of my grandsons, and blocks to re-cut for a quilt for my grand-daughter. As I mentioned previously, I started cutting some applique to be assembled with those blocks, and the blocks are too bold for the applique. Also, I found some fabrics that I think are better suited. Will probably put the blocks already assembled together for a NICU quilt. They will be darling for a little baby girl quilt, just not compatible with my applique work for Lisey.

My friend, Viki, quilted the Halloween quilt which was project with my grandson, Ben. He's going to be over the moon for it. A couple of the fabrics have glow-in-the-dark eyes. If he follows his brother's example, from a few years ago, he will be hauling people into the bathroom to turn out the lights, and see his quilt glow. It's just a simple quilt; some ten-inch squares of Halloween fabric surrounding a Halloween panel. But, I told him that I was having trouble figuring out the best way to put it together, and he just took the blocks and dealt them out on the floor, looked at them, rearranged them a bit and said it was done. I sewed it together in my motel room that night, and the next day, he had to take the top, and "try it on" laying down on the couch. He pronounced that it would fit, and it will be going back to Virginia with me. Viki did a great job, as usual, quilting it all over with spider-webs in orange thread. It's just adorable.

Time for a lunch break, and some knitting. I was to the toe on the second sock for Viki's current pair, when I realized I had way too many stitches. Had to rip it back to the finish of the heel gusset, and work down a few more stitches. I'm anxious to cast on my first pair of Socks for Soldiers, but won't until I get this pair complete!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Holiday Spin

It's the time of year when my imagination overdrives the amount of time available, and I end up spinning in circles, trying to accomplish last minute Christmas gifts, etc. I have some sewing planned, but mostly, it's going to be a bit laid back this year.

I finished knitting a pair of bedsocks for a girl who was in a serious automobile accident. Parents of one of her friends asked if I would make her some because she moves around a lot in her hospital bed, and doesn't keep covers on. Hopefully, her feet will remain warm! Also working on a pair for my quilting buddy, Viki; first sock is done, and I'm nearing the heel on the second. I signed up for Socks for Soldiers, and am anxiously awaiting the arrival of those supplies.

Our trip to Florida came and went in a big hurry. It was great, just too fast. Kathi and Sherri joined us from Oregon, and they are new to knitting. Sherri is brand new . . . still was working on her first dishcloth. She caught on quickly, and steamed right through that project, and on to a couple more. Kathi was knitting patterned dishcloths, with a bee hive and a lady bug on each. We did a little scouting on the internet, and found TONS of dishcloth patterns. Since we were in Florida, we found many that would follow a beach vacation theme . . . flamingo, hibiscus blossom, dolphins, palm trees. Made me want to knit dishcloths, but I have to finish the socks I have going first!

As usual, we made the trip to Dunedin, for lunch at Bon Appetit on the Marina, and then to Rainbow's End. I was remarkably well-behaved! I bought a batik scrap bag, a pattern, and some fat quarters. Stops at Patches Galore and Quilt Haven yielded some scrap bags, and the fabrics to make pillow cases as Christmas gifts. We went to Kneedles and Knobs, too, and I got the yarn for some Harry Potter items for grandson, Ben. He's just six, but he is reading the Harry Potter series by himself. He loves them, and knows all the finite details about the characters. I'm anxious to see how he will like his Harry Potter sweater and scarf.

We were able to attend Ribfest in Vinoy Park in Saint Petersburg on Sunday late afternoon. We saw Zac Brown's Band. The place was so packed, you couldn't even get near the booths to try the ribs. Multiple lines at each booth were 30 to 40 people deep. We ended up picking up pizzas on the way home! Glad I didn't try to get a Ribfest t-shirt as a souvenir . . . seems sort of like it should be against the law to go to a big food festival and not be able to get any of the food! I was with my friends, though, so I had a great time.

We caught the flea market one day, too, and while I didn't spend much on fabric, I scored quite a few books. I found lots of bargains on clothing at the outlet mall, so when it was time to think about packing to go home, we made a quick stop at the Pack and Send to launch my books, fabric, and dirty laundry toward home. I put my new clothing purchases and gifts in my suitcase, and off we went.

We had plenty of leisure time, too. I did a little knitting, a little sun-worshipping, and a lot of reading. Ate my fill of seafood while close to the source, too. We have some places that we love to go . . . Crabby Bill's on the Beach, for shrimp and a very tasty Margarita; then Back Fin Blue in Gulfport for wonderful crab cakes, with corn and crab chowder. Always ready to go back for those!

12/15/09: I intended to add pictures and post this sooner. Better to post now, than wait any longer!