Friday, June 27, 2008

Listening to the Inner Voice

I finished my class today, by which I mean I finished the part where I had to sit IN the class for four hours each morning and read the articles and chapters and take notes and all that. (Actually that part isn't too bad. I like the articles and the lectures. The four hours each morning? Not so much.) The next part is where I have to prepare a 10-15 page presentation with Power Point and notes and hand-outs. So I'm only mostly done.

And I'm really, really hoping that Power Point will be as intuitively obvious to use as it was the last time I had to prepare a presentation or else I will be really, really sunk.

Anyway, after spending all week in the class (and fretting about Power Point presentations) and the afternoons dealing with Large Government Bureaucracies I was feeling a bit stressed out. So today at lunch time while I was contemplating yet another round of phone calls, I made an executive decision--and gave myself the afternoon off. My inner taskmaster said, "No, no, you shirker! Get to work." But another, gentler voice said, "You need it. I give you permission to take the rest of the day off. The Large Government Bureaucracy will still be there on Monday." I listened to the nice one. For once.

Almost instantaneously the knot in my stomach dissolved.

I grabbed the car keys before the taskmaster could reassert itself and jumped in the car.

I stopped by the gently used bookstore and had a great time browsing, first in the crafty section and then through the history section and on into fiction. I found a wonderful mitten book by Charlene Schurch. I love her sock book and the mitten book looks equally good. Long ago when my kids were little I did a bit of stranded knitting and really loved it. I would like to get back to it and mittens seem like a good place to begin. Incidentally, does anyone know how to pronounce her last name? She says she's of Czech heritage. I hate mispronouncing people's names.

Down the road I stopped at a little pizza place and had a wonderful sausage sub sandwich. I know! I know! But I haven't had any junky food for weeks! I needed a break, I tell you. I took my books in with me and had a lovely time looking through them in between bites. Bliss.

I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend. Wish me luck on the Power Point; I'm going to need it.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

No Rants for Me!

I spotted this little guy in the next door neighbor's yard a couple of days ago. Can you see him? At first I thought it was just an oddly shaped tuft of grass, but those seldom twitch their ears.

Very little quilting is happening around here this week. I'm taking a week-long class in the mornings and I'm spending my afternoons helping my dad take care of some family business.

This is the place where I could put a rant, but I'll skip it, okay?

But, if I did put a rant I would complain about how Large Government Bureaucracies that deal with senior citizens might somehow cater to their constituents by having a phone system that takes into account that said senior citizens are often hard of hearing and may become confused by rapidly recited phone answering menus. The rant might suggest that they include a menu choice such as, "Are you 65 or older? Would you like to talk to a human being? Press 1 now."

You can see where this is going. Luckily for us, this particular office of the Large Government Bureaucracy was close by and so it was easier (and probably took less time, though certainly more gas) to drive on over there and take care of the problem in person.

Unfortunately, the next Large Government Bureaucracy to be dealt with is in another state and so we must persevere with the menus and the button pressing and get through the experience somehow. That will be tomorrow.

But I definitely won't rant about it. Definitely.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Beautiful Day

Today was a glorious day. Sunny, 82 degrees, low humidity, a little bit of a breeze. Just glorious. If I were going to order up a perfect day, today would be it. And the good news is that it looks like it might stay this way for the rest of the week.

And what did I do on such a beautiful day?

I worked on the buttoniere quilt top and got all the block strips sewn together. I'm under a deadline of sorts here, because I'm supposed to have it together before tomorrow's quilt guild meeting. It's my UFO finish for the month. You can see the raggedy bottom where I will be adding another row or two of blocks, but my UFO challenge was to sew the strips together, and I'm sticking to the letter of the law. I really love the way it is coming together. (I also love that I found more blocks that I had already made for this thing so that I don't have to cut and sew too many more.)

Yesterday I stopped by the LQS to drop off the Thangles quilt and I found some nice cozy flannel to use as the backing for the baby quilt. It is going through the wash now hopefully shrinking as much as possible before I use it in the quilt.

I also stopped by the yarn store because, well, I hadn't been for a while. I found some beautiful merino wool blend (on sale!) to, something. Not telling on that one. Not socks, though!

My daughter and her boyfriend are coming down to visit this weekend and the big news is that they are engaged! No date yet, but we're going to be planning a wedding around here. What is blogese for fiance?

My husband's sister and brother-in-law are also flying into town this weekend, so it looks like we're going to be pretty busy.

But all that is later. Right now the windows are open, letting in the breeze and the sounds of the neighborhood around us. Down the street some kids are practicing what sounds like their rebel yell. Somebody is mowing their lawn. The big, black dog two doors down is barking at my next door neighbor. A car drives by occasionally. The curtains sway in the breeze. I love this weather.

Monday, June 16, 2008


This beast is done! Beast, as in LARGE, unwieldy thing. This is the Thangles project I've been working on as a shop sample. It finished out at about 90 x 110", by far the largest thing I have ever put together.

Of course, I didn't sew the blocks, all I had to do was assemble the top and then sew on the borders. As you can see below the Thangles make for nice accurate HST's.

I had to drape it over a chair to show you because I don't have any flat space in my house that is big enough to lay the whole thing out. It is huge. And heavy. Trying to get that last border sewn on this morning was like wrestling with an octopus.

After I conquered the beast, I started working on my poor neglected nine-patch baby quilt. I had all sorts of plans for a fancy border, but I decided to just go ahead and get it done.

I made another row of nine patches, added two borders, and called it a day.

Got anything you want finished up?

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Wednesday Discovery

Before my chicks left the roost, I stored all my quilting supplies in a large Rubbermaid bin which I moved from room to room as needed. Since I have set up in my daughter's old bedroom the bin has become home to larger pieces of fabric I rescued from remnant tables and other odds and ends.

This morning I was searching for some white to use to make those extra 16 blocks and I just dumped the whole thing out on the floor. Oh my gosh. I found another 9 pieced blocks. Why in the world did I abandon this? I can't even remember.

P.S. I found the white I was looking for, too.

Is anyone else going through tomato withdrawal? I threw away four perfectly beautiful tomatoes yesterday after we saw the news about the salmonella outbreak. Our tomato plants went in a couple of weeks late this year and so far this is all we've gotten.

Grow, little fellow, grow!

Monday, June 9, 2008

Another UFO

We seem to have jumped from late May to late July weather here. Temperatures have been in the mid to upper 90's here for the past few days. The word sweltering has been used around here a lot during the past few days.

Have I mentioned that my sewing room is NOT air conditioned? I can work in there in the morning, but by 1:00 or so the sun has moved over to that side of the house and it becomes too uncomfortable. I guess I could move the sewing machine downstairs, but instead I decided to work on some hand sewing this afternoon.

This hand piecing project is on my guild "Get it Finished" list and its number came up at our last meeting. I began it about two years ago when I first fell in love with hexagons, diamonds, and all the 60 degree shapes. It is actually farther a long than I thought. (Isn't that always the case with UFO's?) I remember at the time that I just wanted to make an old fashioned all over scrappy quilt not using any particular style of fabric.

I actually have eight rows of eight blocks. Already sewn together. Why, oh why, did I abandon this? Sixteen more blocks would make a twin size bed quilt. So, my goal for the next couple of weeks is to sew all the rows together and see about adding just 16 more blocks.

I had run dangerously low on the blue and bought more--it took me the best part of an hour to find it buried in one of the piles of stuff I've got laying all over the place up there. I really should take a day and try to organize things...but not today!

Over the weekend I got the inner border put on the Thangle quilt and got one side of the second (Thangle) border finished. Luckily for me, the Thangle border fit! That says a lot for accuracy with the Thangles, because my seams always seem to run a little wide. Tomorrow morning I plan to piece the rest of the Thangle borders.

We'll see how much of this I can actually accomplish!

Friday, June 6, 2008

It's amazing how a good night's sleep can change your outlook on life. I woke up this morning feeling as though I could conquer anything.

I got a good start on the Thangles this morning. They really are easy; I don't know why I haven't tried them before. I am the world's slowest at machine piecing, but I got 4o HST's done in about a half hour. That's about a third of the way done. The directions say to leave the paper on until after pressing them in order to prevent stretching. I took one apart just to check accuracy and it was right on the mark. I would definitely use these again if I had another project with eleventy million HST's.


A couple of housekeeping items:

**Last night I was looking at my old posts and saw that the line spacing was really messed up, sort of super single spaced. I found it hard to read, and I imagine anyone else trying to read this would too. I checked around and found a fix on a couple of blogger help sites. With great trepidation I changed the code in the template (after saving the template to my hard drive) and fixed it. Yes, me, the original technophone fixed it! Hopefully the fix will take and it will be easier to read from now on.

**I have a new button from Quilting Bloggers. Mishka is organizing a list of quilting blogs on her blog. You can check out blogs from all over the U.S. and the world. She has everything organized by country or state. On her Quilting Gallery blog you can check out all the free pattern links she has organized. She has a lot a really good stuff over there--it's worth checking out.

I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend--I'm off to sew up some Thangles!

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Lack of Zzzzzzz's

Two nights with little sleep have left me in a fog today. My head feels as though it is wrapped in white wool. It's very annoying because I wanted to try these:

out today. I'm supposed to be putting together a shop sample for the upcoming shop hop. The actual blocks had been done a while ago (not by me!), but no one has had the time to finish the sashing and borders. And truthfully, sashing and borders didn't sound so bad until I had a look at the pattern. It calls for about a million half-square triangles dancing around the whole quilt, made with these Thangles.

They are popular around here right now; everyone raves about how accurately you can sew HST's with them. I am looking forward to giving them a try, but not today. I think I'm going to need a clearer head to try a new technique.

Meanwhile I think I'll just pop in a movie and veg out. We got a couple of Val Lewton DVD's from Netflix that are calling my name...

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Support Your Local Quilt Shop

Today was my first day of summer vacation. I just love writing that!

Report cards filled out, all materials safely tucked away in whatever spaces I can cram them, my desk cleared off (for the first time since last August), plan book and grade book turned in, various and sundry paperwork filled out, keys returned, goodbyes to the retirees said.

And so what did I do on my first day of freedom? Sleep in? Begin a new fitness program? Sew until my sewing machine started to smoke? No, no, and no.

I ran errands.

Unfortunately, my eyelids are programmed to pop open at 5:45 a.m. Actually they pop open when my alarm clock says it's 5:45, but the real time is more like 5:30. I keep the clock set 15-20 minutes ahead in order to avoid oversleeping, but that's a story for another day. So basically, I got up at the regular time, because by the time I remembered that I didn't have to get up I was already up, if you follow me.

First I had to go to the dentist. Yuck. Then I had to gas up the car. Double yuck! Then I realized that I better plan my errands rather carefully because I don't want to have to gas up the car again for a long, long time. So I made a massive loop around the city and managed to get everything done.

And you know what? One of my favorite quilt stores is on the way to the drugstore on the other side of the city where my father gets his prescriptions filled. So it wasn't really out of my way to stop by there to see if they had the perfect fabric I need for setting squares on a project I'm about to start sewing together. And the fish market is near the drug store, so that worked out okay. Grilled salmon for dinner tonight--great! After I dropped the prescriptions off at my dad's my next stop was my very favorite local quilt shop.

My LQS is kind of like my Cheers. (Where everybody knows your name.) When you walk in, the owner just kind of involves you in whatever is going on at the time. Today was the big spring cleaning in preparation for the shop hop coming up in a couple of weeks. The shop hop is a very big deal for the LQS because it brings in shoppers from all over the area.

The preparations for the hop take weeks. New store samples need to be made. Kits for quilts need to be cut. Many, many fat quarters need to be cut and bundled. The Big Quilt needs to be made. (The big draw for the shop hop is a special quilt. Individual kits for the blocks are available at each of the participating shops. If you visit each shop you will be able to buy the kits to make the entire quilt.) Store displays need to be planned and set up. This is a lot for the owner of a small shop to do on her own, so she has solicited help from all her friends.

I'm glad to help out because I know how difficult it is to run a small business, especially a niche business like a quilt shop. Margins are razor thin. Competition from big box stores can kill you.
I want her store to succeed because I like being able to go into a friendly, welcoming place to do my shopping.

I have friends who talk about the bargains they can get at the big box store. Sure, you may be able to save a few dollars, but what kind of service do you get? Does the girl behind the counter help you find that one certain fabric that will add zing to your quilt? Does she sit down with a calculator and pencil and help you figure out just how much material you're going to need for the borders? Does she know anything about the right kind of thread to use for your quilting? Will she special order books and patterns for you? Will she troubleshoot problems you have with a pattern?

If you are lucky enough to have a friendly LQS, remember to support it. A small locally owned business gives back to the community in ways that big box stores won't.

I will now climb down from my soapbox.

Thank you very much for all the kind comments on my last post. I've got about half of the first border done--hopefully tomorrow will be a sewing day around here!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Baby Blue

This is the little blue baby quilt I've been working on. As I mentioned in my last post, my original color scheme didn't work out because the lime green I wanted to use turned into a ferocious NEON green when it sat next to these blues.

I wish I could understand why or how colors do things like that.

Here's a close-up of some of the blocks. I'm trying for something soothing here; I'm hoping the monochromatic color scheme is helping to achieve that. I'm going to float this center panel with a narrow white border (Kona snow, my favorite white!) and then add a border row of on-point squares around that.

I have a very soft yellow that I might try to use as a narrow border beyond that, but I'm not sure if that will work with all those blues. I have lots of all the fabric left, so I'll keep experimenting until I find something I'm pleased with.

I would like to back it with a flannel to make it extra snuggly. Has anyone out there used flannel as a backing? I've only worked with it once and I hated it because it frayed so easily. And shrinking was a major issue. But for a backing? Fraying wouldn't really be an issue with that, I hope. I'd welcome any advice. If I do decide to hand quilt, has anyone had any experience with that?

These little nine patches went together so easily; it was a joy to work with them. I can't think why I don't use them more often.

I'm making this quilt for a friend of mine who had a very premature baby boy just a month ago. He is still in the hospital, but doing well and gaining weight, so we're all hoping for the best for him.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

This is our last week of school. I can't believe I am able to say that! It seems as if this year has just flown by. Three of my very dear friends at school are retiring this year, so in many ways this year's last weeks are bittersweet. The turnover for teachers at our school is very low, so we've all become very close over the years. On the other hand, the retirees are definitely looking forward to some rest and relaxation so I'm happy for them.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Back Again

I haven't felt much like blogging for the past month or so, and there has been very little sewing going on around here anyway.

Last weekend, however, I did manage to put in some quality time in the sewing room and got quite a bit accomplished.

First, a bit of play. I found a really nice fabric at Hobby Lobby while I was buying yet another lot of balsa wood for the DI team months ago. It seemed perfect for serendipity blocks, but it took me this long to get anything together. I have about 10 more of the hexagon blocks and I even made some with diamonds, but I don't want to put them all together, so I'm just going to use the individual blocks to practice machine quilting once school is over and I have some time to play with the sewing machine.

And I finally got the borders on the serendipity quilt from this winter. I haven't decided whether I'm going to hand or machine quilt this one--it lays pretty flat, but since my machine quilting skills are still in the novice stage I think I might lay it aside and try to hand quilt it at some point.

I also started what was meant to be a simple little nine-patch baby quilt for a friend, but the colors are not working out. The lime green I had planned to use turned into a rather ferocious neon green when put together with the blues I wanted to use. Back to the drawing board on that one, I guess. I've picked up some other blue fabric and I'm going to work on it this afternoon while I watch the Indianapolis 500 on television.

Hope everyone has a wonderful weekend!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Stole a Little Time

I took advantage of a couple of free hours yesterday afternoon and finally sandwiched and basted the small Ohio stars quilt. This involves me taping the backing to the living room floor, stacking the other layers on top and then crawling around the edges trying to get everything smooth and even, then trying to baste without disturbing the top. There must be a better way.

I'm going to quilt it in a diagonal grid--just utility quilting, nothing fancy. My fingertips are protesting, though. They don't appreciate having to go through all those heavy seams.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

This Post Stinks!

Warning: Not for the faint of heart...

Last week walking through the kitchen after dinner I caught just a whiff of something--enough for me to file a mental note to take out the garbage as soon as I was done with what I was doing.

A half hour later, as I was walking through the kitchen again the whiff had turned into an aroma, slight, but still there. I opened up the garbage pail, but no, the liner was new. Under the liner? Who knows what could have leaked in there. But no, the pail was clean and the smell was not coming from there.

I looked around. On the counter top were the usual things: cutting board, knife, package of crackers, loaf of bread, fruit basket. Nothing to cause any kind of odor. I looked inside the microwave. Nope. Under the microwave. Nope. Since I was still in the middle of something, I decided to get it finished and come back to really investigate.

Fifteen minutes later the smell had grown into a miasma that filled the kitchen. I could almost see wavy lines and a yellowish haze hanging in the air. I checked the microwave again. Under the microwave. Behind the microwave. The sink. The oven. The refrigerator.

All this time the odor was growing and I was beginning to get frantic. Maybe a squirrel had managed to sneak in the back door and die. Nope. Possum? Goat? Rhinoceros? Maybe an escapee from the zoo crawled into one of the cabinets when no one was looking. Elephant, for heaven's sake???

All this opening and closing of various drawers and doors attracted the attention of my husband who was watching a movie in the dining room. He glanced over with mild interest, and I said, rather desperately, "Can't you SMELL that? What IS it?"

"Oh," he said, "I bet it's the Limburger cheese."

Limburger cheese? By then the smell was beginning to roil around me. I looked down at the counter in front of me. There it was. A knife with a slight residue from the cheese.

"I can't have this in here! It smells terrible! It's awful! Like a dead animal!" But as I was saying this, I could see him nodding happily, agreeing with me but in a friendly, distracted way as he tried to turn back to his movie.

"You HAVE to get that out of here--I can't stand this smell!"

"Okay," he said over his shoulder.

What I thought: problem solved.

What I should have thought: he gave in waaaaaaay too easily.


Fast forward a couple of days.

I was calling my sister on my cell phone just at twilight. I have to do this from the back deck because although my phone has fantastic reception just about everywhere else it won't work in my house. I was pacing back and forth as I was talking and I caught another whiff of you-know-what.

Wow, I thought, I am so glad we got rid of that cheese. The smell is actually strong enough to get through a plastic bag and out of the closed garbage can. (We keep the garbage cans next to the deck during the winter.)

And then I turned around and saw it. A block of Limburger cheese on a cutting board sitting on the railing of the deck.

Limburger alfresco!

My husband tells me that he began ordering it for his father on-line because no one carries it locally. (Can't imagine why that would be.) He tells me that he really likes it now, too. He tells me that since he keeps it in an air-tight container in the fridge and only opens it out on the deck he has solved the (my) problem.


Check out this link. I am definitely siding with the doctor from Louisville on this one.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Busy, Busy, Busy

This week is turning out to be the bear I thought it would be. Meetings, conferences, more meetings, more conferences...Not much time for sewing or even thinking about sewing.

If I were able to get up to the sewing room for some quality time, I would probably be working on this little baby quilt. This is something I started in a "square in a square" class last summer. I finished the Ohio Star blocks on the day of the class and worked on the setting blocks and the borders at a quilt retreat in the fall. All I need to do is sew on the turquoise outer border strips and get this thing quilted. It is destined for my baby great nephew in Iowa. Hopefully he will still BE a baby when I get the quilt finished.

Somehow I always seem to stall out when it comes to finishing the borders.

Right now I can't even remember how I did the triangle borders; I just remember a lot of muttering and long calculations on the back of an envelope. I think I saw the border idea in one of the Nickel Quilt books, but of course I had to do all my own calculations to make the border fit this quilt. I really like the way it turned out, despite all the math I had to do to make it work.

Next week needs to be better.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Six Little Blocks

These are the six little blocks I finished last week. There is a seventh, not quite finished, but I may redo it because the applique center kind of migrated north during the sewing. Still haven't solved that problem--even with heavy-duty basting. I had thought that I had only done three applique blocks, but there are a four of them!

I'm going to be cutting fabric for a few more blocks tonight after supper. This is my only free night this week, so it will probably be sometime this weekend before I get anything more sewn.

Next week is beginning to look like a bear, too...

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Home Again

I took a few (!) hand sewing projects with me when I spent the week with my mom.

She looked a little askance at this thing as I rolled it into her apartment at the retirement community, but this cart is the best thing I've found for hauling around a lot of little things--much better than multiple tote bags slipping off my shoulders. It's even big enough to hold my featherweight when I go to classes or retreats. It folds up into a neat little box about the size of the Complete Organ Music of Bach on LP but weighs much less.

I did get some things accomplished.

-Made about 20 more Brave New World units--all that I had fabric cut for.
-Started hand quilting an owl panel that I bought last year. Got about a third of it done.
-Made 6 (yes, you read it right!) DJ blocks

On the Dear Jane front I had a breakthrough, of sorts. One of the reasons I wanted to make a DJ was that I thought if I pushed myself to try new techniques I might actually learn how to do them. Techniques like applique, which I have tried in the past and always struggled with.

This week, for some reason, it suddenly began working for me. I did three applique blocks. No cursing. No shrieking. No shredded fabric. I actually began looking through the patterns in the book (all eleventy thousand of them) to find more applique to work on.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

I see that while I was away, everybody else was very busy. I'm going to spend the next few days catching up on your posts and replying to comments on mine.

Have a great week.

Monday, March 24, 2008

March UFO Done!

I finished the turning twenty of a different sort last night. All in all I'm pretty happy with it--I wish I could have spread out the colors a bit more; there was a distinct tendency for certain colors to pool. But, this is certainly more lively than the poor dead thing I had on my hands last summer. See this post for the story.

I'm just happy that this is out of my UFO corner and on my finished list. The photo doesn't do justice to the colors or the richness of the fabrics. I'll be really happy to use this as a throw over the futon once I get it quilted.

That white on the grass? Snow! Just when we thought we were over winter we got another little dusting last night. Still, the daffodils are beginning to bloom and I have even seem some forsythia bushes beginning to flower out, so I know that spring is nearly here.

This week is my spring break and I'm going to be staying with my mom for a few days. I'm taking a few little hand sewing projects and lots of Dear Jane stuff. Maybe I'll actually get some DJ blocks done. If you haven't already seen this blog, check it out. Anina is hosting a Dear Jane sew along, including tutorials on making the blocks. If you've ever thought of trying a Dear Jane you've still got time to catch up with her group. The tutorials are great.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Re-Turning Twenty

I am up to my elbows in slashed and resewn turning twenty blocks. I have all of them sewn, now I just need to square them up and sew them together.

It's a gray, cold Saturday outside, so I'm just chugging along getting this together.

I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Monday Mop-up

Not much quilting this weekend.

The Destination Imagination tournament which got snowed out last Saturday was held this weekend. Hundreds of very excited children from all over southern Indiana converged at a local college to present their creative solutions to the challenges they have been working on for months. They have built structures intended to hold weights, made scenery and props, planned skits, done research into their areas, and, in general, worked very hard. Saturday was their day to shine.

Our team did an exceptional job and placed second in their challenge! This gives them the chance to go on to the state tournament in April. This is the first team from our school that has placed so high at tournament, and I am very proud of them and their accomplishments.

Then I kind of needed Sunday to recover from Saturday, if you know what I mean.

But, waiting for me all weekend was this package from The Stitching Post. I ordered the blue polka dot for the border for the serendipity quilt. It's part of the Eleanor Burns Magic Vine fabric collection. I also couldn't resist the Magic Vine charm pack--2 pieces of each of the fabrics from the line. A friend bought one of these at the last quilt retreat I attended; they are perfect for baby quilts. I will be needing those: two friends are having babies this summer.

A comment in my post about the serendipity quilt made me realize that I had been remiss in mentioning where I got the pattern. It is from Sara Nephew's new (to me) book Doubledipity: More Serendipity Quilts. If you like the original Serendipity book, this one is even better with tons and TONS of ideas on using kaleidoscope blocks. The blocks are not as complicated to make as they may appear, and there are NO y-seams, which seems to scare off some.

Hopefully, I'll be able to slide right through this week into next, which is Spring Break around here. Even the weather is cooperating a little bit. I have actually seen some sun today.

I almost forgot--Happy St. Patrick's Day! I had to pin a construction paper shamrock to my red Destination Imagination red t-shirt today lest I get pinched.

Have a great week everyone!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008


I've been tagged by Shelina for this You Make My Day Award.

Shelina made my day!

Blogging is such a continual wonder for me. I love this idea of sharing ideas and bits of our lives with others around the world. Shelina probably doesn't realize this, but hers is one of the first blogs I began reading.

For other great blogs, just take a look at my blogroll on the left--each one has a unique perspective on quilting, crafting, knitting, or just life in general.

There are some, though, that I would like to call your attention to:

Marlene's Journal--Marlene's blog is a new read for me. Just check out her Dear Jane blocks--beautiful!

Quiltdivajulie at Me & My Quilts--Julie is participating in the Alzheimer's Art Quilt Initiative. She's got some beautiful things on her blog.

Quilt Otaku--She uses lots of Japanese fabric in her quilts.

Simply Quilted--A fellow Hoosier

thee handworks
--beautiful quilts, beautiful photographs

I know I don't comment as much as I should, but I look forward to new posts on all of your blogs.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

About a UFO

Last summer I decided to make a turning twenty quilt. I was in the midst of hand quilting a rather large baby quilt and I was also handpiecing a fun but rather fussy project. I imagined a project with long straight seams and no points to match would be a kind of relief to work on.

I bought the Turning Twenty book. I bought some beautiful fabric. And I decided ahead of time to limit the color palette, since I thought the fabric was so beautiful I wanted it to take the center stage, rather than the pattern block.

I cut, I sewed, I was....underwhelmed.

The blocks, when put together were just sort of blah. I rearranged. Still blah, now rapidly turning into blech. Re-rearrange. Still blech. No matter what I did, the thing would not be right.

I was really disappointed, and I was mad at myself because what had started out as a simple no-brainer kind of project had turned into what looked to me like a giant waste of time and, I might add, a great deal of fabric. I still loved the fabric--and I seriously considered taking the whole thing apart and just doing something else with it.

But I didn't. I just put the whole mess in a bag and stuck it in the corner of my sewing room unofficially designated as the UFO corner.

Then, this January my guild started a UFO finishing challenge. We picked out 12 UFO's, decided on what we could reasonably accomplish in a month on each one, then promised to do it or pay up small fee dedicated to buying fabric and materials for charity quilts. I put my turning twenty on my list (WAY down on my list).

Well, this month the TT's number came up and I took out the blocks to see what I could do. Sitting in a corner for six months hadn't improved it. Still blah, still blech. Then it occurred to me that the reason I didn't like it was that the blocks were too large. There was just too much of everything. It also occurred to me that since the blocks are asymmetrical it might be interesting to see what kinds of shapes I would get if I cross-cut each block. I tried folding blocks and sticking them up on the wall to see what would happen.

And then I saw it. With an asymmetrical block like this, if you cut each block diagonally BOTH ways, the four quarters are ALL different. Instead of big puddles of color that just sit there and don't move, I could recombine the blocks and have surprising little splashes of color here and there.

So, I have been cutting and cutting. This TT project is getting more and more enjoyable. There are all sorts of possibilities in joining the finished blocks together.

Stay tuned. I need to finish this before the end of the month!

Monday, March 10, 2008


Traveling through blogland this weekend, I came across lots of posts about pin cushions. This got me thinking about mine, and I managed to round up most of the ones I've been using lately.

The poor tomato has long lost its strawberry. I have no idea how old this one is, but I have a feeling it's been around the block a few times. I think it turned up in a bag of fabric someone gave me a few years back.

The flower one is from a pattern from Quiltmaker magazine. I'm pretty sure I made it that year, so I've had it a good ten years. It's probably time to make another one. I've linked to the pattern in case anyone would like it.

The one in front is from a pattern I got at my LQS. It fits over your finger and it really comes in handy for hand-sewing. (You just have to be really careful not to stab yourself with pins or needles while you're wearing it!) I haven't seen it anywhere else, but it's really easy to make.

All the pictures of pincushions got me thinking, and I checked out some web sites with pincushion patterns.

These are my two new little ones. The round one is from a great tutorial on whip up. The square one is really the same thing, I just used a small four patch sewn to a plain square for the body.

It's really nice to have some fresh new ones. It's also really nice to have a project that can be finished in just a few minutes.

Believe it or not, our 12 inches of snow have all but disappeared with the 50 degree temperatures today. I think spring might actually be arriving here in southern Indiana.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Snowed-in Saturday

And the snow is still coming down.

This was supposed to be the day we presented our team challenge at the Destination Imagination tournament, something we've been working toward since last November. (See this post from last year for details.) The foot of snow we've gotten has changed all that. The tournament has been postponed until next Saturday (Quilter's Day Out, unfortunately). I'm actually a little relieved because our team has missed so many practices due to bad weather and illnesses that we could use some more time to get ready.

The crawl of other canceled events across the TV this morning is like a window into the busy lives we live. Basketball games, pancake breakfasts, Special Olympics events, charity auctions, scholarship meetings...all of these have come to a dead stop, at least for a few hours.

Meanwhile, outside the snow continues to fall in big puffy flakes, and with it comes something rare in our suburban area. Silence. The plows have been by a couple of times but very few people are out on the roads this morning.

Later, of course, all that will change. We'll begin digging out the driveway. The four wheel drive boys will strut their stuff up and down the street. Life will return to normal.

But, just for this morning I'm enjoying the white stuff, the quiet, and the prospect of spending the afternoon finishing up this little quilt.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Snow (Again)

I'll be the first to admit that we do not handle snow well here in southern Indiana. Even with just a prediction of snow, parents call into school wanting to know if we're going to have an early release, grocery stores are overrun with people madly buying up all the milk and bread in sight, and breathless TV reporters stand on street corners and offer dire warnings about the soon-to-become icy streets.

Just imagine what it's like when we have what the meteorologists call a significant snow event.

Well, we're in for the big one this weekend. Predictions have gone from 4 inches to 4 -8 inches, to 8 -12 inches, and are now at 12 - 14 inches.

It's another snow day for us. The fifth one this year.

What's a quilter to do with a guilt-free Friday off?

Hmmmm. I do have a few projects to work on.

This one is another serendipity block. I've just fallen in love with how these go together, maybe because there's a little mystery involved. You don't really know how they're going to look until they're put together. Then, when you put together the central block there is the fun of trying different fabrics for the parts that go around the center.

Anyway, I'm going to pour another cup of coffee and see about getting another block or two done this afternoon.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Still Here, Still Quilting

Okay, now, so where was I? Oh yes, the last you heard from me I was just about to step into the maelstrom that this school year was to become. Has become? Not too sure of the correct verb tense here.

This year has just been crazy busy, crazy stressful. Crazy, crazy, crazy.

Two weeks ago I was filling out midterm progress reports for one of my students when I noticed the teacher had written "third quarter" on the top. Third quarter? THIRD quarter? Surely that couldn't be right. We're already in the third quarter? When did that happen?

So, before the rest of the year slips away, I thought I'd better get back to blogging--because I did miss it. I miss writing about what I've been doing and I miss reading about what everyone else in Blogland has been doing.

This quilt is one that I worked on last year and actually got hand quilted this past summer. Pieced and quilted in the same calendar year, quite a new concept for me! Many of you will recognize it as the Pineapple Blossom design from Bonnie at This was a lot of fun to piece. And to quilt. Just the right size to put in a small quilting hoop and work on during those long summer evenings. (Remember those? ) The little pinwheels around the border are made from the parts that get cut off as you sew the blocks. I liked the idea of carrying them outside the blocks into the borders.

I showed it in a quilt show this fall--not to be judged, just to be exhibited. (I promise you that the sides are straight; it was just hung rather awkwardly at the quilt show, even though it had a hanging sleeve. The little doohicky in the bottom right corner is our quilt guild's badge.) It now belongs to my great niece in Iowa. I think it's just the thing for a little girl.

I've actually got some other projects that I've been working on this fall and winter, but I'll save those for another post.