Friday, November 30, 2007

In my mind, it could have been a scene taken from 'The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty.' After all my fabrics were pressed and cut, I would sit at my sewing machine . . . ta pocketa pocketa pocketa . . . and beautiful quilt blocks would rapidly emerge before my very eyes. In no time at all, I would lay the blocks out on my design floor and begin piecing together a quilt top. Next I would open the fabric closet (cue singing of the angels) and the perfect piece of fabric for a quilt back would glisten and twinkle from one of the shelves. After a particularly satisfying session of quilting, I would sit in my favorite chair, pop in a dvd, and stitch the binding on my new quilt. Hubby would come home late Thursday night from his trip to find me sleeping peacefully wrapped in this new beauty and smile.
Instead . . . he was greeted with this. And this. He was forced to clear a tiny area just to have breakfast and enjoy his newspaper.
It was a wonderful daydream anyway. Today we woke to RAIN! We need it so very badly.
At least I have something to keep me busy today. Back to the sewing machine . . . ta pocketa pocketa pocketa.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Progress is slow, but I am enjoying myself. I didn't actually get started until after lunch yesterday and pressing and cutting took a good bit of the afternoon. I was determined to have some sort of measurable progress by the time I went to bed. One block fully complete and a stack of matching blocks nearly done.This morning I got right back to work. This is where I am as of about 7 p.m. tonight. (There's a small stack of hst's to the right of the machine that you can't see.) Because I'm working without a net (pattern) I need to periodically cut more fabric to finish a section. Initially I cut one strip in the required size from each of the fabrics (i.e. 1 - 2 1/2" strip and 1 - 1 7/8" strip from a red subcut to its proper size) So now I'm just trying to even it all out.
I know there are some eagle eyed readers out there who will notice the blue hst's toward the top left of the picture. They belong to this group of fabrics that I had planned to use for my winter Four Seasons Quilt Swap. Sometimes the best laid plans just don't work out and the majority of what I did ended up in the trash. Do not feel sad - it was not a good idea. I was fortunate to receive my swap partner's name yesterday and will happily go in a complete different direction. This will be the last you hear of this swap until the piece is received . . . my partner is a known reader here and I'd like to keep it secret.
I think I have been at the sewing machine for as long as I can stand it for today. I'll do a little hand work and stare at the television for awhile before bed. Then right back to those reds and tans first thing in the morning.

Monday, November 26, 2007

What's a girl to do? Hubby left very early this morning for a business trip which leaves me to my own devices for a great majority of the week. With a fridge still at near capacity with holiday leftovers, I have all the supplies I need to lock myself in the house and spend the time doing something fun.
When I first found out about the timing of the trip, I thought it would be the perfect opportunity for me to do all of my holiday decorating. Nothing like a festive home to put a smile on your face and a song in your heart. But then I looked at the calendar again and rethought that plan. As much as I love Christmas (and I do LOVE Christmas) once I tire of the decorations, I am completely over it and want them down and put away. Starting the decorating this early could cause me to peak with holiday overload too early. I would never want that to happen, so the decorating must wait.
With that decision made, I knew what my alternative would be - make a quilt. But what quilt? There seemed to be no pattern, stack of fabric or basket of scraps anywhere around that brought about inspiration. I thumbed through books and magazines hoping for that great light bulb moment. NOTHING! No worries with a few things in progress, I'd just work away at getting something done . . . or a least a little nearer done.
Then it happened! I knew just the project that I needed to start. What relief.
When I was growing up, we had two quilts in our house. Both of them tattered, well worn and not held in very high regard. One is an applique basket quilt with embroidery embellishments - the other a two color pieced scrap quilt. We used them when we were sick (I'm sure so that we didn't mess up any of the 'good' blankets.) When they came into my possession, I tried to care for them and offer up some of the TLC that had been lacking. I knew when I became a quilter that maybe someday I would try to recreate one or both of them. I spotted them today sitting on the shelf and I knew the day had come.
I pulled out my Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns by Barbara Brackman and located the name of the block - Double X. Then referred to Around the Block by Judy Hopkins to find I had cutting and piecing instructions for a variety of sizes. Next I opened up the fabric closet and started pulling out fabrics and piling them on the floor. Oh my, such fun.
I came back after after letting them settle for a bit and culled them down to these choices.
I'm going to quickly vacuum the living room, then set up the ironing board and begin pressing and cutting. Oh goody . . . this is going to be fun.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

We had a wonderful Thanksgiving feast on Thursday. The table was nearly overburdened with all that we piled on it. I had to email a photo to The Princess and give her a little tease - Hubby said next year we might to put up a kiddie table for her to sit at.While I have to admit the original meal was a delight . . . this is what I look forward to the most - turkey sandwiches. I laughed on Wednesday when reading the cooking section of our newspaper. It was chalk full of recipes for leftover turkey. Around here we run out of turkey long before we tire of eating sandwiches.
The bathroom floors have all been installed. Here's a look before the grout went on (in?) Such an amazing improvement over the vinyl that had long since passed being serviceable, let alone attractive.
Here's a view of the second bath with the new tile, sink and vanity. We just had to put the vanity in to have a look. You can see how the former counter top extended all the across the top of the toilet tank - that design decision was always a mystery to me. What we gained in space is mere inches, but I know I'm going to love it. Next - fresh paint, a new shower curtain, rugs and window valance.
That means - SHOPPING! Whee . . . We avoided all retail endeavors on Black Friday save one loaf of bread. I just didn't want to be a part of the traffic or madness. I'll just wait until mid-week, when everyone has gone back to work and/or exhausted their available credit lines. I doubt what I'm looking for was high on the early bird shopper's list allowing me a more leisurely retail experience.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

A Happy Thanksgiving to all.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Out of the kitchen (briefly) and back to the sewing machine. For more than a week now, I have had the fabrics piled on my sewing table for the next top from Prairie Children and Their Quilts - Bear Paw. One of the joys in these little quilts is the speed and ease in which they come together. I hope to layer it and begin quilting this evening. I also played with some fabrics to use for my Four Seasons Swap - Winter quilt. This is what I've chosen so far. The light fabric on top does not photograph well. It is a Brannock and Patek jacquard. I have gotten a good start on my piece, but I won't share it here. Since I don't know my partner yet, I'm not sure this is my final plan. Sure is fun to play though.

Okay, back to the kitchen for me - there's an apple pie to be baked.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Ruthie Red

Ruthie Red, you're one of a kind
In everything you do.
Ruthie Red, you're one of a kind;
There's no one quite like you.

Have you ever heard
of Ruthie Red
Who wears two caps
upon her head?

She's the funniest lady
I've ever seen
As she drives around town
in a bus painted green

She wears a Met's coat
with a Cub's T-shirt
And baseball pants
beneath a blue skirt.

With rings on her fingers
and bells on her toes
She jingles and jangles
wherever she goes.

Ruthie Red, you're one of a kind
In everything you do.
Ruthie Red, you're one of a kind;
There's no one quite like you.

She claps and she sings
as she skips down the street
And wears pink galoshes
on two tiny feet.

Wherever she goes
she takes her pet pigs.
One she calls Gomer,
the other Ms. Diggs.

She lives in a house
with fourteen dogs,
Two lions, a tiger,
and thirteen frogs.

Ruthie Red, you're one of a kind
In everything you do.
Ruthie Red, you're one of a kind;
There's no one quite like you.

by A. M. Poe

Just like Ruthie Red - you, too, were one of a kind and now both will be dearly missed . . . Libby

Monday, November 19, 2007

It was a morning spent in the kitchen. I needed to keep myself busy and out of the way today. We are having new floors installed in both bathrooms this week. Maybe the days leading up to Thanksgiving aren't the most optimal to take on such a task . . . but we have been needing to do this for some time. Once we decided to get off the fence - we landed with both feet and dove right in to the project. The master bathroom is getting flooring only. But the other is getting new paint, vanity, sink and accessories (shower curtain, rug, etc.) - a complete and much needed makeover.
So I fired up the oven. Baking always puts a smile on my face. First I roasted a butternut squash. I think I will use it to make soup for tonight's dinner.Then I made a couple of loaves of bread. One for eating and one will become stuffing for the turkey. Then I'll need to make more for all the sandwiches I plan to eat starting Friday . . . yum.
Last but not least - pumpkin scones. We will be having apple pie for our Thanksgiving dessert, yet I feel obligated to keep some semblance of tradition by serving pumpkin in one form or another.
The recipe is from Buttermilk Cookbook: The Rest of the Carton. I stumbled across it at an outlet store several years ago and enjoy it very much. My mom was originally from the south, so I was raised on buttermilk. Grandma not only used it in the kitchen but as part of her beauty regimen claiming that buttermilk bleached freckles. I buy and use it regularly to make pancakes, waffles and biscuits, I use it to make Ranch salad dressing, I use it to batter fish, and *gasp* I drink it - yes, I do! And I like it! Neither Hubby nor The Princess will touch a glass of buttermilk with a 10 foot pole - making the cookbook a useful resource . . . one that I use often.
Buttermilk is a little old-fashioned, not the glamor queen of the dairy case, just plain and reliable - kind of like me.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Among the many wonderful things about blogging is the inspiration that is found. Not too long ago I had one of those light bulb moments when reading Vera's post at KC Quilter. She mentioned perhaps making some pillows using blocks from one of my favorite books - 301 Country Christmas Blocks.
Ah ha! At least 2 (or was it 3) years ago, I participated in a block swap using patterns from this book. The exchange itself took place so close to Christmas there wasn't much hope of making something to use and display that season. So the blocks went into a basket under my sewing table while I pondered how best to put them together. I'd take them out from time to time, arrange them on the floor, but just never found THE one that was pleasing. Back in the basket they'd go.
When I read Vera's post, I got the blocks out one more time. I separated them into a couple of different groupings, then shuffled until I found pleasing arrangements, grabbed my box of 'spare parts' and got to work. Voila.
Making them into envelope slip covers, they fit perfectly over the throws for the couch.I just need to make the envelope back for this one.
Still there were some leftovers. I stitched 'em and stuffed 'em, too. I think they will look just right on the bed.
Then I went to have a look at the Trees on the Table Gallery to see all the great quilts being made from Marcie's pattern. What fun to see how many variations and ideas there are. These darling little quilts will make great gifts - so I just had to make another.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Here it is - the 3rd quilt from Prairie Children and Their Quilts - Broken Dishes. I quilted it with Baptist Fans and I'm not particularly pleased with how it worked out. I got lazy and used a commercial stencil to mark them and it didn't quite fit right. While it was quick and easy to get the marks on, I should have worked out a template of my own to make them fit properly (I'm not quite ready for the free-hand technique that Tonya uses.) The next quilt in the book is Bear Paw. I have made my fabric selections and just need to get the pieces cut and ready to stitch up.
I had one of those *YIKES* moments over the weekend when I realized that (U.S.) Thanksgiving is just next week. With 5 Thursdays in November this year, it feels like it's coming a little early. It has been quite some time since Hubby and I celebrated a holiday at home - seems like for the last several we have traveled to visit relatives. So I'm very much looking forward to preparing all the foods that we enjoy on this holiday and wrote up a menu list yesterday afternoon: turkey with stuffing, mashed potatoes with gravy, green beans, cranberry sauce, roasted carrot soup, butternut squash, spinach souffle, apple pie. Boy oh boy, that is a ridiculous amount of food for two people, but I can't see clear to cut a single thing. I surely won't have to cook for a week.
Everyone is getting ready for the season around these parts. Here's Greer (the garden guardin' gal) in her new finery. Her last outfit had been faded for sometime. But when Greer suffered a broken arm it seemed like the right time to update her duds and fix her arm, too. It sure is fun to pull up the window shades in the morning and see her looking fresh and new once again.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Wanna have some fun? Head on over to the Four Seasons Quilt Swap and sign up for the winter swap. I participated in the fall swap and had such fun. You can see the quilt I sent here and the quilt I received here. Sign-ups are through December 1 . . . but don't wait, if the response is high they could close early. The deadline to mail your quilt is January 30 - so no worries of additional projects during the already busy holidays. There's plenty of time to make your quilt. On a purely selfish level, I don't want to miss out on the chance of being partnered with you - so won't you sign up today?

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Over the last week or so, I have seen many of you sharing the quilts that are on your bed. It has been fun to see how everyone uses the quilts that they make. I decided I wanted to play along. Then I was tagged by May Britt of Abyquilt to share how I came to crafts and quilt making by answering five questions, they seem to go hand in hand so I just decided to put it all in one post.

1. When did you start to make and create crafts?

I remember first making clothes for Troll dolls out of Kleenex. Since I wasn't allowed to play with scissors or dexterous enough to thread a needle, Kleenex was a perfect textile. I could tear head and arm holes and make endless new outfits.
My grandma was an excellent seamstress - she made her living tailoring uniforms during WWII. Later she did a lot of embroidery and applique on items sold at the annual church bazaar. She taught me basic embroidery stitches and showed me how to do cross stitch on gingham.
2. Why did you start creating?

I was always curious - and quite talkative - Grandma must have decided the only way to get anything done herself was to get me busy working on my own project. I do remember her frustration at my ability to unthread a needle faster than you can blink an eye. It was a proud and happy moment for the both of us when I could re-thread it myself.

This is one of my very first pieces - a potholder featuring the lazy daisy stitch. I use this potholder often.3. Why do you create?

I love to keep my hands busy . . . I always have. Also, I enjoy making gifts. The saying: "What I make with my hands, I give with my heart," must have been coined for me. Having things that I have made throughout my home is a joy. I love when I see everyone cuddled under a quilt. They may not realize it, but they are wrapped in hugs from me.

4. What do you create?

Over the years, I have dabbled in many things. Starting with simple embroidery, I worked my way through crewel and needlepoint. I tried my hand at macrame then moved on to counted cross stitch with a brief try at latch hook rugs. I dabbled a little with candle making - even going so far as to make a presentation for a high school speech project. In the 80's, I thought tole painting would be a fun thing to try on for size, but was too chicken to take a class until the mid-90's. Those classes led me to quilting and I couldn't be happier.

This is my first pieced quilt. There are a lot of problems with this quilt - the piecing is terrible (I had no idea what a 1/4" seam was.) I used the stiffest fusible I could find to hold the flowers in place - I didn't want them to move. . . and the won't. I had no idea how to accomplish a binding, so I made an envelope and turned it. Left the opening far too small for turning and stretched the heck out it. Operating under the theory that quilts should be comfy, I used the highest loft polyester batting I could find. And armed with a lifetime of embroidery skill, put the whole thing into an embroidery hoop - tight as a drum - and stab stitched my way through the quilting. I loved every minute of the process and have never looked back.
5. What do you create?

I hope what I create is a home that is filled with things made by my hand and touched by my heart. I want it to be a home with the aroma of a good meal, the sound of laughter, and love all around . . . a warm, safe place that family and friends want to be.

I'd love to know how each of you came to crafting and quilting - so I won't specifically tag anyone . . . just jump right in and play along.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Gosh time flies. I can't believe it's been nearly a week since my last post. I've been keeping plenty busy.
Over the weekend, Hubby and I did a serious deep cleaning. Saturday we were greeted with clear, sunny skies - prompting us to start taking all the furnishings from the entry, living and dining room outside. The rugs were rolled up and taken out for a bit of fresh air. Baseboards were dusted and cleaned, those insidious cobwebs that get in the highest (unreachable) corners were knocked down, all the floors were swept, swiffered, vacuumed and steam cleaned. By late afternoon we were ready to bring everything back indoors.
Sunday morning brought a nice marine layer of fog - a perfect day for window cleaning. Hubby cleaned all the windows, sills and tracks, and the screens, too. Now we can settle in for the rest of fall and winter feeling tidy and cozy. It's good feeling.
I've been working on the applique circles for A Penny Saved. I laid them out on the background just to get an idea of how they are going to look. I knew this was a quilt for me when I first saw it - but I can now see that I'm really going to love it. I'm glad I chose needleturn rather than fusing. There will just be an touch of dimension that wouldn't happen with the iron on. I now have more than half of the pennies made. I wonder how long it will take to stitch them on the background?
With the burst of cleaning industry that began on Saturday morning, it wasn't until late Sunday afternoon that Hubby and Harper made a trip to the mailbox. Imagine my excitement to find there was a surprise envelope for me among the bills and junk. Paula - The Quilter came across this delicious Blackbird Designs book among her things and thought 'it was screaming my name.' So she dropped it in the mail.

I remember when this book first came out. I knew I would enjoy it, but avoided actually opening it because I didn't need to add another thing to my ever growing list of quilts to make. Well, I was right - I do love it! I will definitely make time for the projects inside. I'm saving that card, too. I do think I need a quilt just like that!
Hopefully in the next day or so I'll have a couple of finishes to share. I quilted my second tree table topper from Marcie's pattern and just need to get the binding stitched on. I haven't forgotten about Prairie Children and Their Quilts. I have finished quilting Broken Dishes on Friday. Once I get the binding stitched down and the quilt markings washed out, I'll get a picture posted. I hope to start piecing the next top - Bear Paw this afternoon.