Tuesday, September 18, 2007

I have been thinking since my last post about why I favor the fall season above the others. In most of the places I have lived in my life there isn't a real change of weather like some of my mid-western and northern friends. But I always enjoyed back-to-school time. When I was growing up we lived 'out in the country'. School was not only a place for learning but socialization for me and I eagerly anticipated seeing friends I had not seen since the previous June.
Coming from a small town, youth and high school sports rated high as a public form of entertainment. Everyone in town could be found at the big game on Friday night or at the youth fields on Saturday morning. That kind of civic camaraderie seemed most evident during football season when the evening air might have a little nip to it and the smell of freshly popped corn and hot chocolate wafted through the crowds from the concession stand.
So fall to me is not only a season of change but a time for coming together - with friends, with community, also with my partner, best friend and husband. Fall is the season in which Hubby and I married.
Last month - when we returned to the area where we grew up for Hubby's high school reunion, we took the opportunity to go back to see some of the places significant when we got married. We met working at a local McDonalds - McDonalds is my kind of place! I forgot to take a picture, but you've all seen one. Picture us in our polyester uniforms - his brown and mine electric green. YIKES!
This is the old courthouse where we went to apply for our marriage license. Remember we were still teenagers. I wonder what the clerk thought when she had to coach us through every step of filling out the paperwork. Good thing it wasn't a test . . . we might not have passed.This is the church we got married in. Built in 1901 and added on to several times over the years, I have always thought it is a beautiful building. The combination of red siding and stone work on the exterior just lends a certain feel that I can't seem to put into words.
The windows you see in both photos are stained glass. So pretty to see the sun shining through them during a Sunday service. Sometimes it seems like just yesterday we were all gathered out on the sidewalk after our wedding, getting everyone coordinated to go back to Mom's house for a little reception. The minister came a little later than the others - he stayed in his office to catch the last of the baseball playoff game on the radio.
But it wasn't just yesterday. In just a couple of weeks, we will celebrate our 28th anniversary. Man does time fly when you are having fun! I made this quilt 3 years ago to commemorate our 25th anniversary. Each of the blocks has 25 pieces - the red center and 24 (1"cut) logs. There are 11 rows of 11 blocks. 11:11 on a digital clock is a number we have always pointed out to one another - our favorite number. That makes the pattern a little off - but so are we. It's large enough to fit our queen sized bed, but because Harper gets on the bed from time to time we don't use it. It stays folded across the back of the sofa where we can see it every day.
I used a wool batt and hand quilted with perle cotton - an X in each center and all around each log. This is a closer look at one of the blocks. You will notice that some of the logs are pieced. That was to signify that some years of our marriage have been more difficult than others - military deployments, being poorer than church mice, deaths of grandparents and parents- still we have managed to keep it together. It's a great marriage. Hubby is my best friend. With the ups and downs, I wouldn't have wanted to spend my life any other way with any other person. We are blessed - a happy life, a beautiful daughter, a gorgeous home filled with laughter and love.
I'm taking a little blogging break. Hubby and I are off to celebrate our anniversary. I'll be back soon with lots of fun things to share.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Today May Britt shared a post with photos from her morning walk along with fabrics that show her favorite season: Fall. She challenged us to share our favorite season and to show it in fabrics. It seems like many are anticipating the change of season right now. In the northern hemisphere - fall brings back-to-school, our gardens begin to wind down, trees begin to change color and we anticipate cool, crisp air morning and evening. Like May Britt, fall is my favorite time of year.
Here in southern California some of those things actually happen and some we have to imagine for ourselves. To compensate for that I try to begin decorating my home early in September - hoping to fool myself into feeling all the sensations of fall my friends further to the north enjoy. This year with the unusual heat we had at the end of August, I haven't had the heart to ask Hubby to climb high into the hot rafters of the garage to pull down the boxes of fall things.
I do have some quilts that don't go into 'garage storage' that bring about a feeling of fall for me. The first is an alphabet sampler from a Cheri Payne pattern. It comes out at back-to-school time. My favorite block is 'N-O-P' - Nine Orange Pumpkins. That block alone sold me on making this quilt.
Next is a quilt whose patten I do not know (maybe my 2008 resolution will be to properly label each and every quilt that I make . . . not just when the mood strikes me.) This quilt is displayed on our dining table all through the fall season. It is another that I eagerly anticipate putting out each year.
The last quilt is one that I made fairly early in my quilting career (no label- again.) It's a version of a bulls eye. It is a favorite 'drag around' quilt for me. Not only are the colors reminiscent of fall, but the fabrics are all brushed cottons making it so soft and cuddly. This is a quilt that I have stuffed into the suitcase to go with me on several trips. Today I noticed the binding could use some tending to. I'll have to get right on that because I want this quilt to last forever.
So there's a little look at my favorite season in fabrics. Can't wait to see yours.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

More sure signs that fall is on the way. Today I was able to attend my favorite craft and antique sale. It is held 3 to 4 times per year, each time featuring items that are particular to the coming season. Whenever I receive that little red postcard in my mailbox, I know it is time to clear the calendar. I never fail to find something that just must come home with me . . . remember those bowls? I picked up 2 from this very spot. Today my purchases were small, but sure helped put me in the mood for the coming season.

Don't you just love this little gal? She was practically calling my name. Right next to her are two rusty acorn bells and right behind them is a great little candle scented like black licorice. I'll probably only be able to light it for short periods - but I sure couldn't resist the scent. My day is already cleared for the Christmas show coming in November.
This morning I put the last stitches in the binding of the first Prairie Children and Their Quilts piece and quickly got it washed and dried for it's photo op. This little dolly has been waiting patiently for a quilt of her own. Doesn't she look ready to have a tea party?
I also finished piecing the third quilt top from the book - Broken Dishes. I see that one block is twisted the wrong way . . . it's easy to be humble when you are me. Now I have 3 little quilts ready for hand quilting. The signature friendship top will have straight lines in the body of the quilt and I'm going to try feathers in the border. The mini coin quilt I haven't decided on a quilting motif yet. For Broken Dishes I would like to try some semi free-handed fans.

As much as I am enjoying the piecing of these little tops, I need to catch up with myself on the quilting. Time to sit down with a good movie and get stitchin'.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Just like grown-ups - we went out last night and a good time was had by all. Hubby and I drove up to LA to see What's My Line - Live On Stage. Just like the television show you remember growing up - a celebrity panel guided by a moderator tries to guess the line of work of guests who are hoping to stump them all. The only difference is it's not recorded for television viewing - just live comedy right on the stage. We have attended several of these performances in the last couple of years.
In previous shows we have been treated to some folk with very interesting lines of work - a woman who worked as a 'girdle tester' in the 50's, Bill Tapia - The Duke of Uke , a gentleman who performed on the theremin. Each show ends with a 'mystery guest' usually with some measure of fame - Alan Thicke, Dick VanPatten, Noah Wylie, Cameron Manheim, Sidney Sheldon.
Last night's show included a custom motorcycle seat maker, a rattle snake wrangler and Gerrin Berry - former member of Sha Na Na and polyphonic whistler - he can whistle multiple notes at the same time. We were treated to a demonstration performance of Over The Rainbow and joined in on Chopsticks. The Mystery Guest was Greg Behrendt, screen writer, comedian and author of the book He's Just Not That Into You. I wish the show wasn't quite so far from home, I'd love to go to every performance.
On the quilting front, I've started on marking and stitching my cables. I thought I was quite clever when I chose a 'busy' fabric. Thinking it would camouflage any poor quilting stitches, I didn't take into consideration how difficult it would be to mark. After testing a couple of different pencils, I settled on good old chalk. Easy to see, but quite temporary.
Because the chalk doesn't stay put very long, I am marking and stitching one border at a time. This is the third side and I'm feeling much more comfortable with the process. I am pleased with the size of the 'football' template I cut. It is just the right size to fill the border completely. I didn't think about that when I made the 'pumpkin seed' for the borders of Black Licorice and Butterscotch and the seeds meet a little oddly at the corners. I can live with it and I learned a to plan a little more at the start. I can hardly wait to try a feather.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Happy 157th - California. When I was a girl, 'California Admissions Day,' September 9 was always a school holiday. What fun to begin class on Tuesday (after Labor Day) then in a day or so have a holiday. Helped ease us back into a daily schedule after a fun-filled summer. California valley quail is our state bird. They are fun to watch running along the side of a road. And a good way to represent the letter 'Q' in an alphabet quilt.
Now for a little 'monkey see, monkey do.' I think it all began when Dawn made a mini strippy quilt. It was a gift to Lucy who recently made a version of her own. Then I saw that Tami had been inspired to make a quilt for herself. That's when I began thinking I really should think about making one, too. Then Marcie shared the one she created. I just couldn't take it any more.
I chose all plaids and stripes in order to put my own spin on things. Now it will wait in line for quilting. Thanks to everyone who inspired me to give this a try. Such fun to randomly stitch fabrics and watch it come together.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Look at this darling piece that arrived on my front doorstep yesterday. Back in July, I signed up with Carol at Brown Quilts for the Pay It Forward Challenge. I could never have imagined that I would be the recipient of such wonderful work. This little sewing kit is made all from wool and has a fall-ish color scheme (my favorite). Just look at that leaf - it's embellished with beads and it's dimensional, too.The inside is just as delightful with pockets for holding all of my little supplies. Look at the snap loop the keep the scissors secure. You can be certain this little goody will log lots of travel. Thank you so much, Carol! I couldn't be more thrilled.
I did have to run out of town for a day to take care of some business. Far more time logged in travel than in doing what I needed to do - just sometimes it's better to be there in person. I got to work on some of the quilting of the first Prairie Children and Their Quilts. The book suggested quilting an 'X' through each block. As I am trying to stretch myself, I decided to try parallel lines forming an 'X' just on either side of center . . . without marking. The lines are a bit wobbly here and there, but for the most part I am pleased. I'm going to mark a cable to quilt in the border. A touch of cyphering will be required to get the size right. I have practiced making paper 'footballs' as outlined in Quilting with Style. Now I just need to settle on a size.
While I'm working that out, I can continue some straight line quilting on the second quilt from the book. I cut and pieced it this afternoon. What fun to just sit and sew for only a couple of hours and finish the afternoon with a complete top. A sure way to feel successful.
Because I was gone, I've gotten behind in reading blogs. Again, please bear with me while I catch up with all of you. Who knows what all I'll see that you've been doing . . . . that I will just have to do, too.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Warning - I'll be up on my soapbox for just a brief moment. Regularly scheduled blogging can be found by scrolling down just a little.
Does everyone remember 'The Christmas Song'? There are lots of different versions out there, but when I think of the lyrics, 'Although it's been said many times, many ways . . .' Perry Como's is the voice I hear. So as a tribute to Perry Como - Although it's been said many times, many ways . . . please check your blogger profiles. If you are set to No Reply, it is very difficult to respond to comments and particularly questions that are left on posts.
I don't respond to every comment that I receive, but I do try to drop a little note to everyone who visits my blog every-once-in-a-while. I love to answer questions and share information on patterns, fabrics, stitching methods, recipes and just drop a friendly little 'hello.' It is so frustrating to search out links or other sources and send it on the way only to have it returned as undeliverable. If you wish to not have your primary email available on the 'net, please consider setting up an account with one of the many free email sources - gmail, Yahoo , . . . *getting off my soapbox now*
Speaking of Christmas. I received my Lehman's 2007-2008 catalog in the mail this week. Remember when you were a kid and the Sears Wishbook, J.C. Penney, Montgomery Ward and Speigel catalogs arrived? You could feel the excitement in the air. You knew you should begin taking extra pains to be more nice and less naughty - well I get those same feelings as an adult when this catalog arrives. It's such fun to leaf through all the pages. I keep a highlighter nearby. It's efficient and and quick- I don't have to worry that Hubby or The Princess can't read my writing on my wish list.I finished sewing the first top from the Prairie Children and Their Quilts book. My current plan is to make each quilt in the book, in order. I would like use these projects as a way to build my hand quilting skills - to achieve better more consistent stitches as well as stretch myself by doing more than simple crosshatch and simple echo quilting. Don't get me wrong - I think crosshatch quilting is beautiful, I just want to try something new.
I was enjoying a post on Lucy's blog - Quilting With The Past - and she mentioned the book, Quilting With Style by Gwen Marston and Joe Cunningham. I was so excited over the cables and feather Lucy had done free-hand, I ordered the book right away. I started reading and planning as soon as it arrived.
I am just about done hand quilting on Black Licorice and Butterscotch - echo quilting the broken dishes. This afternoon I began marking a pumpkin seed design around the border. I think it's going to be fun. In this quilt, I plan to make X's across each friendship star. Then I will attempt a real-live-honest-to-goodness cable out in the border. (It was no accident that the border fabric is very busy.) I'm very excited about this new plan. With the sizes of these quilts being small, it will be a good way to test out not only the quilting patterns but different marking techniques all without a huge investment of time.
Another reason to be glad the quilts are small - it's HOT! Far too hot to be sitting under a bed sized piece to quilt. Fall and winter can't get here fast enough.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Isn't this a happy little basket? Well, if you knew what was inside all those little packages you might be more inclined to agree. I carried this basket into my local post office late yesterday afternoon. Now each of my Pay It Forward pieces and my 4 Seasons Quilt Swap piece are making their way to their new homes . . . and there's a care package for The Princess in there, too.That was a lot of fun, but it was a little difficult not being able to share what I have been working on for the last month or so. In addition I participated in a fall swap with a primitives group on Yahoo. This is the table topper that I received in that swap. I couldn't be more thrilled.
It may be difficult to tell from the photo, but each of the backgrounds that the pineapples are on is a different wool. The appliques are needle turned and there is embroidery embellishment on and around the pineapples. The quilting in the border is a loopy star motif. I plan to study how this was done so I can make loopy stars someday too.
The fall colors combined with the pineapples message of Welcome and Hospitality make it perfect to sit on the cedar chest by the front door. Everyone who comes in will be greeted by this wonderful piece. Thank you again, Nancy.
When I made my primitive swap piece, I made a twin that could live here with me. Because I enjoy acorns I couldn't resist making two. Now that it has reached its new home I can share this little wall hanging. The background is all pieced with cottons. The acorn tops are appliqued using cotton and the rest of the applique is in wool. I found the pattern by Cheri Payne just as fall was ending last year. I'm so glad I did.
I did get started on the first quilt from Prairie Children an Their Quilts - Friendship Stars. The first block had one piece spinning the wrong way. Oops.
Oh and a little bit of television trivia from The Princess - Do you remember the house that The Walton's lived in? If you are also a fan of Gilmore Girls, look closely at The Dragonfly Inn - the inn that Lorelai and Suki opened about mid-way through the series - the exterior is none other than The Walton's place.