Monday, January 28, 2008

I think we have survived 'the crud' and now we are stronger for it . . . our immune systems are stronger anyway. Some lingering coughs and congestion, but nothing a good rub of Vick's can't soothe. Thanks for so many kind get well wishes and queries as to our condition. Over the weekend, there was a pretty big rain storm set to come our way. More reason to stay tucked inside all safe and warm. As a result, I feel as if I have made some nice progress on my hexagon stars.
After sitting down with a piece of scratch paper, I drew out a little diagram and now know that I will need 41 stars. My head is still not wrapped around the number of diamonds, but I think 70 will be a good goal to shoot for in the interim. This is how they look all stacked on top of one another. How many different views of this very slow project can I come up with? I have seen various hexagon and Grandmother's Flower Garden projects going on around 'blogland' and from comments it seems that there a few more that would like to give English paper piecing a try. It really is a lot of fun and generally mindless work that is very easy to take along. You can put in a few stitches wherever you are - traveling by train, plane or bus, waiting rooms, athletic fields (game or practice,) or just hoping to keep your hands busy and out of the potato chip bag . . . that's me!
I use die cut papers that I buy from PaperPieces. A variety of shapes and sizes are available but my favorite is 1/2". They use a nice weight of paper that holds up to the stitching and doesn't require you to baste through the paper and fabric. This means you can leave your basting stitch in forever allowing you to use up all that old, ugly thread that you have no other use for any more. Of course you can use the plastic patties or cut your own from card stock, construction paper, freezer paper, or old newspaper. Here is a brief photo tutorial of how I cut several hexagons at one time using strips. For 1/2" hexes, use 1 1/2" strips of fabric the length of a fat quarter - otherwise it becomes too thick to easily cut with your scissors. Lay your template on top of the strip with the 'pointy' end going up and down.
Next fan fold your strip from end to end making sure your template will fit nicely with room to cut all the way around. By putting the 'pointy' ends up and down, you won't have to make any cuts on the sides. Use good sharp scissors to cut through all the layers along the remain four straight edges of your piece.
Voila! A nice stack of hexagons all cut. I can usually get 12 from one length of fabric, but if the selvage is fat I may only get 11 and sometimes just 10. Notice they are not perfect.
It doesn't matter. Once you baste all of that disappears in the seam allowance on the back.
And on the front you have a nice, neat and tidy little hexagon.
Give it a try. Even if you just make one little flower to applique on another project, it's nice to have another technique in under your belt. And who knows, maybe you'll find you like it and we can sit next to each other in the day room at the old folks home, trading blogger stories while trying to finish up our projects.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The season of giving? After careful reflection, Hubby believes he has narrowed down the list of candidates in his office to one - the one who shared the germs and brought the flu bug into our home. We'd snarl and shake our fists at that one . . . if we had the strength. If only we both could get a full night's uninterrupted sleep, I think we would be well on our way to good health once again.
Because I don't trust myself to use things like a rotary cutter or big scissors when I have 'NyQuil-head,' I have turned to my basket of English paper piecing over the last several days. I believe that I began this project about 2 years ago - either late January or early February of '06. I do hope to finish before I move the the retirement home. Here are the pieces I've finished in the last week.
And the stacks of everything so far - 9 stars complete all the way with black, 5 stars with neutral but still need black, 16 stars that need neutral and black, and 7 diamonds.
I am using this photograph of an antique quilt in Gatherings: America's Quilt Heritage as my inspiration. I believe I have enough hexagons basted at this time to make 30 stars. I'll then lay them out and see if I need more and determine how many diamonds I'll need.
Okay, that's a lot of math and my head already hurts . . . back to the couch.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

These are quilts that caught my eye - a miniature Baltimore. I'm sure I don't have one in me (big or small) but I greatly admire the dedication and work that goes into one.Very traditional looking - this color combination just never gets old. This is a style I would love to try on for size . . . someday.
I just never get enough of scrappy quilts.
Folkart applique - yummy.
And this is from the 'Are You Kidding Me?' file. Absolutely exquisite, but . . . Would you ever let this near a real baby?

Some pictures from the quilt show.
A quilt stitched in tribute to California State Fallen Heroes over 460 names of those who have given their lives in Afghanistan and Iraq.Quilts from the 'One Patch Scrap Quilt' Display.

The Apron Chronicles . . . I thought of Finn as I was enjoying these.

*please excuse the photography (including the partial shot of my index finger) I used my cell phone camera rather than lug my

Friday, January 18, 2008

Back from the quilt show. What a day it was. If all traffic conditions are normal, it should take me just under 2 hours to drive. This is southern California and traffic conditions are never normal, so I left fairly early in order to cope with rush hour traffic and arrived just as the doors were to open. I had made plans to meet Beth, Carol and Sharon at the Cozy Cottage booth at 10:30. So I decided to use the time to visit the two vendors that I look forward to the most and do a little extra shopping.
The first booth was Quilting Books Unlimited. My plan is always to pick out a quilt documentation or history book each year. I never have a book in mind - I just know it when I see it. I leafed through several books and none of them spoke to me. I moved on to another table and there IT was and just like years passed - I knew I had found my book. The quilts are absolutely gorgeous and the photography really captures their beauty. The piecing detail and the quilting stitches are all there to be taken in. This book is going to become dog eared quickly as I turn to it for inspiration.
It seems that Amish quilts are a theme with me this year. I received a card depicting this quilt a month or so ago. I immediately knew that I would love to recreate it. I've been waiting for this quilt show to purchase the fabrics. Liberty Homestead has these beautiful hand dyed cottons that will be just perfect. I know I could have ordered online . . . but there is just something about seeing and feeling the fabric in person that made the wait well worth while.
Armed with my purchases, I made my way across the room to meet my blogging friends and then get down to the business of chatting and seeing all the quilts and vendors. As I lurked around the booth, it occurred to me that I had NO idea what the ladies I was meeting looked like. *yikes* Finally I just approached a gal, "Excuse me. Are you Beth?" *whew* It was her - boy was I glad - I don't think I would have kept approaching people. We chatted while waiting for the others and soon a phone call came in. Sharon and Carol were waiting in a long line of cars to get into the parking lot and suggested we start looking around the show without them. About 30 minutes later they called again to say they wouldn't be coming in - the parking lot was full! What's up with that? This is a convention center - if the fire marshal is allowing entrance to the building then there should be parking available. A strongly worded letter is on it's way. Disappointed but undaunted, Beth and I soldiered on - there were vendors and quilts all around us.
There were a lot of great vendors with so much stuff it almost makes your head swim. Here's a look at the rest of my purchases. A nice bundle of repro fat quarters to go in my stash, a little stack of blue and brown coordinates and a Moda U pattern that I have seen made up on a few blogs.
We viewed a lot of quilts, too. Some that I really liked, some I wouldn't give 2 cents for even though I admire the work that went into them, and all inspiring to make me want to get home and get to work. As soon as I find the usb for my cell phone camera, I'll post pictures. It was a fun day and I'm glad I got to spend it with Beth.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

The big day is nearly here ! Tomorrow I'm going to Road To California - the big kahuna of quilt shows in my neck of the woods. I am looking forward to seeing what the vendors will have on hand to tempt me. I have a small list of things that I hope to find. This show is an opportunity for me to shop with some folks that I would otherwise find only on the internet . . . there's just something about being able to hold an item while making a decision . . .
In addition to the quilts that are being shown and judged, there will be a couple of special exhibits that are of interest to me. One will be One Patch Scrap Quilts dating from 1880's to 1940's. The other is The California State Fallen Heroes Quilt which will be on display.
Oh yeah. Also I'm going to meet up with some blogging friends - live and in person - I just have to find the right booth at the right time. Like a kid on Christmas eve, I wonder if I'm going to get any sleep tonight?

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Thank you so much for all the wonderful birthday greetings and wishes. I must admit that I can only share a few of the well wishes at a time with Hubby. So many of you gave kudos to him for his party planning, that I fear his head will grow too large to fit through the door if he hears them all at once. I must say that I hope it becomes a tradition to have cake first thing in the morning . . . I think it tastes better if you are wearing pajamas
Later in the day, The Princess gave me a call. We fired up the web cam and I opened my gifts from her. Aren't these red wire baskets darling. There are 3 in the set (only 2 in the photo) I like how they look hanging here, but they will also be great filled with all sorts of fun things around the house. Keep a look out , you never know where you may see them next. She also send a tortilla press. Homemade tortillas whenever we want them - YUM! That girl knows just where her mom's heart lies.By mid-afternoon we were on the road north. Our first destination was dinner at Pink's in Hollywood. It's a good thing we started out on the early side because we were in the line for ordering our hot dogs for over an hour! Man, that's one popular place. We both ordered the Huell Howser Dog. (Huell is a California PBS icon. If you ever have the chance to see one of his productions on your local station - you really must.) Being at Pink's was such an LA experience. With folks lined up like that, it only drew in more of the curious to see what the fuss was about. People were driving by taking pictures and videos - the closest I'll ever come to being stalked by the 'paparazzi.'
After the last bite of chili dog, we were back in the car for the short drive to the Pantages Theater to enjoy a performance of Wicked. We have seen the show before, but just couldn't help seeing another performance. I love the venue and would be happy to go in order to watch paint dry. But the show is wonderful and I will see it as many times as Hubby is willing to take me.
It was nearly 1 a.m. when we got home - very late for a gal who's getting older - I think I must be conscious of getting my beauty sleep more than ever from here on out. I didn't sleep in too terribly late though. I needed to get up, get going in order to be at Holiday Pet Hotel when they opened their doors.
Harper loves going and always comes home tuckered out. I think we may both be ready for bed extra early tonight.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

What's this?wait for it . . .SURPRISE!

Today is my birthday.
Hubby prepared this wonderful breakfast birthday party for me. He baked a pineapple upside down cake (from scratch,) candles, hats and noise-makers, and a rousing rendition of Happy Birthday on the kazoo got the party started just right. Every girl should have cake and coffee to start her birthday - it's going to be a fun day!

Friday, January 11, 2008

Lately it seems as if I haven't had much to share in the way of quilt projects. Not for lack of things that are in all various stages of undone - there are plenty from which to choose, should I be in the mood. However, I just haven't been in the mood.
Then I spied a silly little stack of scraps on the corner of my sewing table. Leftovers from cutting out a 'still in progress quilt' they needed to be cut down to 1 1/2" strips and deposited in the appropriate box.
Instead I cut the strips and started a little project. Based on one of Lori Smith's Fat Quarter Quilts, I turned a smaller version of her piece into a block and made a little 4 block quilt. It was delightful to sit down at the sewing machine.I think now I have found the enthusiasm I needed to get back to this quilt - Fever. It languished on the sewing table all through the holidays . . . it has been pushed and shoved and doesn't look nearly as neat as this photo, but I think I can quickly organize it and get going. Goody!

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

I guess I'm just going to have to blame it on postage costs. Yeah . . . that's what it is. I was happily working away on my Four Seasons Winter Swap piece when I found that I didn't have one single, solitary piece of fabric that would be suitable for binding. That set off a chain of events that lead me to become the proud owner of this book.
I began by conducting an online search using search engine for the perfect binding fabric. After making my selection and requesting the minimum 1/2 yard cut, I was left with shipping charges that exceeded the cost of the fabric. What's a girl to do? Go look at the sale bin, of course. There it was - a book that was published just as I came into quilting and far beyond my skill level at that time . . . now those same pages will become dogeared as I leaf through them again and again. A special shout out to The Quilted Banty. I placed my order on Saturday morning and it was in my mailbox Monday afternoon . Wrapped in a cute ribbon and a little note of thanks for shopping. I'll be back.
If that wasn't enough of a mailbox delight, I found in my email that I had been given the You Make My Day award from Paula at A Latte Quilts. How sweet is that?
While I love to share my life's ups and downs as well as quilting adventures, I have come to enjoy keeping up with all of you. It's so nice to know that I can make the day of someone when really it feels like all the fun and inspiration comes to me. I guess I can't blame that part on postage . . . but, heck, I wouldn't want to.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

There have been a couple of questions about why the soap holder needs replacement bars. Hubby was kind enough to make a little video with me when he got home this evening. It is regular soap with a hollow metal rod through the center. The rod slips over the piece that is attached to the wall and the little metal cap threads on the end to hold everything in place.

I liked that it takes up no counter space and that the soap is not in a dish turning into 'soap soup.' We have one spare replacement soap on hand. I think I may want to stock up a few more . . . just in case.
One more thing - Yes, that is a McCall's Candle jar holding cotton balls. Whenever a candle finishes its useful life, I pop the jar in the freezer over night. In the morning the wax is easy to get out of the bottom. I temporarily remove the metal band that holds the handle, soak to remove the label, then run through a dishwasher cycle to make it all sparkly clean. They also hold Q-tips quite nicely.
The new year just seems to be flying by - the first week has just gone at warp speed. Hubby returned to work yesterday after two wonderful weeks at home. In addition to celebrating holidays, he did lots of things around the house. Here you can see that the bathroom renovation that was started before Thanksgiving is now done. I certainly didn't mean for the toilet to be the focus of the photo, but it is a VERY small room. In order to get an angle that would best show all that happened it just worked out that way. Check out the new soap holder. We bought it nearly three years ago, knowing that this is where it would live. I hope that we will be able to find replacement soap when needed. (Currently there are places on the internet.)
This crock is another item that came to live with us over the holidays. A local antique consignment shop was going out of business at year's end. I came upon the crock on a quick stop to see what might be left. For some time, I have thought that I would like a crock this size to use as a waste basket next to my sewing machine. That fantasy went out the window when Hubby winced as he picked it up to carry to the car. Instead it holds logs for the fireplace - a very handy thing. Those green wire things were on it. I opted to live with it that way for a bit before removing them. In person they don't seem bad - in the photo they are just plain ugly and they've gotta go.
The rainstorm kept us close to home over the weekend. We kept a fire going and watched lots of movies. That has given me lots of time to work on my whole cloth quilt. The center is done and I've done all the cross hatching in one direction and now I'm going back the other way.
With two fairly detailed borders yet to come, I think one to two more winters will be all I need to finish it up. Soon it will be too warm to sit under and have to go back on the rack for next year. There are plenty of other projects in the works to fill the time . . . ahhh, the life of a quilter.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Going down to the mailbox is one of my least favorite things. We live in a neighborhood with cluster mailboxes located throughout the development. I fully understand that these boxes are convenient for mail carriers, but still I would prefer to have the mail delivered right to my door. Most days the box is filled with unsolicited junk with a sprinkling of bills - hardly the stuff that makes you want to tie your shoes, grab your keys and head up the street. But not every day . . . sometimes there are unexpected, wonderful surprises tucked inside. Yesterday was one such day.
Look what was waiting inside a little padded envelope just for me! Annie from Quilt Til You Wilt sent out this sweet little fella . He carried a card with a darling little poem and a note from Annie, too. Sure looks like he was always meant to come live with me . . . . look at all those homespun fabrics and some wool, too. Does anyone remember the song ' . . . all tasty and tan, sweet gingerbread man' It has been going through my head all morning. Thank you, Annie - what a treat! I'm getting close to finishing my Four Seasons Winter Swap quilt. I layered it last evening and started quilting. I had several ideas in my mind for quilting motifs. Once I got my pencil out for marking, I was quickly reminded that it's a small piece. I didn't want to overwhelm the little guy. If all goes according to plan, I will be stitching on the binding tonight.
Today will be the final push to get the Christmas decorations down. It took me a long time to get around to putting them up and now an equal amount of procrastination to get them down. As much as I enjoy having them displayed, I'm ready for the house to be back to normal.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Happy New Year! In keeping with tradition, Hubby and I snoozed our way into the new year . We never worry - it always comes. We were up early, enjoyed a breakfast of banana pancakes and fruit, and had the kitchen cleaned in time to watch the Rose Parade.
The afternoon was spent dabbling around the house. The bathroom is all done! Boy does it look great - we should have done it years ago. While Hubby worked on the paint touch-ups and such, I began taking down some of the Christmas decorations. I hope to have it all put up by tomorrow. There is still the big tree to come down and a couple of quilts that I can't reach by myself that need to be swapped out.
I don't believe that I have shared this quilt here before. I think I made it in 2001. The pattern came from one of the quilt magazines and was done in 30's fabrics. While it was a lovely quilt in those fabrics, I knew it wouldn't be for me. I gave it the 'Libby-treatment' and darkened it right up. While taking down decorations, I had the television tuned to the Rose Bowl. Under normal circumstances, I pay precious little attention to most sporting events. There are two major exceptions - the Olympics and the Rose Bowl when USC is playing. Looks like '08 is going to be a great sporting year for me. The Trojans won and the Olympics are just around the corner.