Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Thanks for the Praise, Lynn!

Many thanks to Lynn of Kearnel's Korner, who posted that she loves to read my blog. As part of this "award," the recipients are asked to list 5 of their addictions. That might be easy - let's see:

1. Starbuck's coffee. Yes, I admit it, I love Starbucks. At home, my husband thinks coffee such as Folger's and Yuban is just fine, and even if I bring home Starbuck's beans to grind and brew, it just doesn't taste the same. I stop almost every morning for a coffee in one of my Starbuck's insulated mugs - no lattés or macchiatos for me - and sip on it for the next half hour or even hour.
2. Quilting. It's my latest obsession. I even have dreams about it! I think it's because of the newness.
3. Potatoes. Fried, baked, roasted, mashed, boiled - you name it, I love potatoes. As a borderline diabetic, this addiction has caused me many problems, and I've really had to cut back on the frequency that I eat potatoes. My most favorite way of all is roasted - especially red potatoes, tossed with a bit of olive oil and garlic, and sprinkled with cayenne pepper then roasted in the convection oven. The outsides get so yummy and crispy. Ahhh - my mouth is watering even as I type this.
4. My husband. Silly, sappy, I don't care what you say. I'm addicted to him. We've been together 28 years - and the past 3 or 4 have been the BEST. We are truly each other's best friends, and just love life together.
5. Travel. You could say my favorite song is "On the Road Again." I believe I inherited a wandering gene from my dad, who loved to travel. I have this urge, all the time, to see all the wonderful sites in this world. Luckily, my husband likes to travel, too.

Now, I'd like to pass this award on to 5 people whose blogs I read all the time:


Ladies, I love your blogs!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Box of Chocolates Mini-Quilt

I finished this one a couple of days ago. I did the machine quilting myself on my Featherweight, and while it looks a bit rough (the quilting, that is) the whole thing came out really cute. It's about the size of a fat quarter, and has little brown and white buttons in each white square. This is from the book Bits and Pieces by Karen Costello Soltys. I plan to do a bunch of little quilts from her book - they'll make great inexpensive gifts since they're so small and I can quilt them myself.

Spring Freebie from Prairie Schooler

Now that Laurie has received this little magnet I sent her for the Year-Long Prairie Schooler Exchange, I can post a picture of it. It's from one of their old freebie patterns and I just finished it into a little pinkeep-magnet.

Bento Box Quilt Top and Placemats

I just finished piecing together this quilt top that will go in our trailer. The color scheme in the trailer is green, so this will go nicely on the couch.

When I was cutting this, I didn't keep track of how many of everything I was cutting - I just followed the directions for number of strips and squares, and then sewed them together as the instructions said to. I ended up with 12 squares, instead of 9, and don't know why. But it was serendipity, as I was able to discard one square that was really, really crooked, and then use the two other extra ones to make placemats. One of them is sewed incorrectly, but it doesn't matter at all here.

I took the two leftover squares, and added strips on each side to make them rectangles. Next I cut some green print for the back, and some extra fabric for the "batting" - I didn't use batting here, but instead used up two JoAnn fat quarters that were given to me but are too flimsy to use in a quilt. I used the birthing a quilt method to sew them together and turn them inside out, and then did a bunch of quilting in the ditches to finish them up.

I'll be sending the quilt off to get quilted, but I'm going to sew the binding on myself since I've found it to be a whole lot easier than I thought it would be.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Ain't it Funny...How Time Slips Away

I spent last evening at a Willie Nelson concert. I spent most of the concert in tears. So many of my life's memories are connected to music - and none more so than that of Willie Nelson. The first time I saw Willie Nelson live was in 1975. 1975. Thirty-four years ago. As soon as he came out on stage last night and launched into the rockin' "Whiskey River Take My Mind," I was taken back through the years. I get pretty maudlin when that happens, and last night I just gave in to it and let the tears flow. I think a lot of us were crying when he sang, for Waylon, "Good Hearted Woman (In Love with a Good Timin' Man)." So many of his tours in earlier years included Waylon Jennings - they were such good friends. When Waylon died last year I knew that he mourned him even more than his fans did.

When Willie sang "You Were Always on My Mind," my husband reached over to squeeze my hand - and I lost it yet again. Check out the lyrics sometime and you'll see why.

The concert was at Morongo Casino, where our daughter works, and was in their outdoor pavilion. The pavilion seats 3,500, and the concert was sold out. Our seats were in the middle, about 2/3 of the way back, so that's why the picture above isn't the greatest.

Let me tell a funny story - I'd guess that most of the concert-goers were over the age of 50. I mean, I am, and Willie himself is 75. But Don was looking at all the "old folks" going by with their canes (really!), and said, "Why are there so many old people here?" He's 60, by the way. I had to explain to him that Willie has been around since the early 1960s - and all those fans are Willie's age or even older. If you were in your 40s back then, and loved Willie Nelson, then you're in your 80s now. The guy next to us had to be helped up each time the crowd stood up to cheer.

This is one of my favorite pictures.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

My Next Quilting Project...

I signed up to take a semester-long quilting class through Yucaipa Adult School. Several ladies from the District Office are in it, and encouraged me to join them. (You can take it over and over, and do different quilts each time.) Tonight we had our first class, where we learned that we're going to be doing a quilt from Eleanor Burns' Victory Quilts. We can do it how we want - 20 blocks or 12, 12" blocks or 6" blocks, on point or straight, scalloped edges or straight, and so on. Most of us are going to do 20 different blocks - making this a sampler quilt. I heard a couple of women say they were going to pick one block and make 20 all the same - they were just finishing up a sampler quilt and wanted to get back to doing something with blocks all the same. I've already decided that I'm going to do mine in darker tones - cream, burgundy, navy, pine, and gold, instead of the pastels. I'll be sure to post pics in progress!

"Change has Come to America"

At last. The joy I feel is overwhelming. Sure, the expectations are high for this man and his administration, but the reality of a fresh start, the reality of being able to rebuild our hopes and dreams as well as the image we have to the rest of the world - that reality is finally here. Bless you, Mr. President.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Tiny Treasures - Fob from Taija

I received this adorable little fob from Taija in Finland. We're both part of the Tiny Treasures Exchange blog, and this was the first exchange. She obviously can stitch the teeny weeny pillows a whole lot better than I can! What doesn't show is that those dark colors are really a nice royal blue, making this a USA/patriotic fob!

Thanks, Taija!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Sunday Stash #3

These fabrics are kitted up to do a large square tabletop quilt. I love coffee and these shouted my name when I saw them at Road to California.

In real life the ones that look beige in this picture are really more golden - the whole set is more vibrant than photographed.

Sunday Stash home.

I Went, I Saw, and.... it Conquered Me! Road to California

As a new quilter, I need to say that I was overwhelmed at Road to California. It was quite an event, and I stayed for 5 hours - which was enough for me to see all the quilts that were on show, and to browse all the vendors that interested me, and to spend about $150. I don't do appliqué, yet, nor do I need a sewing machine, nor do I use stencils. So I bypassed all the vendors that had those things. I was drawn to the fabrics and the quilts - and loved the vendors that displayed completed quilts and then had the fabrics available for sale individually or kitted up. I bought one kit - "Be Our Guest," kitted up in coffee-related fabric. In addition, I came home with various fat quarters, notions, and tools. I think the reason I didn't spend all that I'd budgeted for was because my mind was in overdrive with everything to see, and I knew that I could go to one of the THREE quilt shops here to get more fabric. I like the notion of support your local quilting/needlework shop, so that's what I'll be doing.

I took some photographs of some small quilts that caught my eye, and in keeping the rules that were posted, I have the names of the quilters that made them.

This one is by Sharon L. Schlotzhauer of Colorado Springs, Colorado. I used to live there, so I immediately recognized Pikes Peak.

"Going On a Trip with Mary"
by Doris Bloomer of Appling, Georgia.

This was part of a vintage quilt challenge, where sets of vintage blocks were distributed to 19 women, who were challenged to use them to create quilts that were in their own unique styles. They could add to the block they were given, cut it up, embellish it, recreate it, improve upon it, or more. The only requirement was that the finished quilt measured 24" x 24" and the original block was included.

"My Memories of Minnie"
a family collage quilt by Mary Kerr of Woodbridge, Virginia

"Are You In or Out"
by Lisa Ellis of Fairfax, Virginia

Color Exchange Received from Kim

I joined the Color Exchange on the 1-2-3 Stitch! Message Board, and my partner was Kim. I asked for green, and she sent me these great goodies for my stash: a dark green piece of linen, a light green piece of linen (Silkweaver!), and 3 lovely skeins of Weeks Dye Works floss.

Thanks so much, Kim!!!!!

My Very First Quilt - Finished!

I finished the binding a couple of nights ago, and now it's done. Finito. Over. And what a great lesson-quilt it was. I learned so much while doing this - and many of my lessons can be seen (to me) in the flaws and unique features of this quilt. My binding is pretty poor and uneven, but as I stitched it, it got better and more even. And as much as I've whined about not wanting to do binding, it was really a lot easier than I thought it would be. It's now something I can do while in the recliner watching TV, like I do cross stitch.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Blocks for Rag Quilt

There are 80 of them, ready to have the X sewn through them. I got about 65 of them done today, before I ran out of the thread color I was using. No problem; I'll pick up some more tomorrow.

Sunday Stash #2

These are some of my overdyed flosses, hanging next to my sewing desk. I have them on rings: Gentle Art Sampler Threads, Weeks and DMC, Crescent Colours, and silks (Caron Waterlilies and Thread Gatherer).

Sunday Stash home.

Chocolate Box Blocks

These are now ready to sew together in rows to make the top. This little quilt will have buttons inside each white square, and I'm thinking about hand quilting it since it will be so small. I can use the buttons for part of the hand quilting.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Blocks from Strings

LinkIf you haven't visited Bonnie Hunter's Quiltville, you're missing out on a master quilter. You could spend days looking at all the quilts she's done, as well as all the ones that others have done using her patterns and instructions. She's done several mysteries, too, and is in the middle of another one. When I grow up to be an experienced quilter, I'll join one!

Bonnie is also known for her scrap-user's system, and all the quilts she's made from scraps and strings. I decided to adopt that system, and will be organizing my scraps weekly (unless I'm out of town). I also decided to make it a goal to make at least 2 string blocks a week. I will be using 5 1/2" squares from the phone book for the foundations instead of fabric. Above are my first two!

#3 - Christmas Quilt - K J Designs

This was the third little finish this afternoon - I think I'm going to go back to the padded pinkeep-type ornaments. They look so much better than these pillows with my pathetic stitching. The chart for this one was in the 1984 Just Cross Stitch Ornaments issue.

#2 - Merry Christmas Ornament by Lindy Jane Designs

I finished stitching this back in December, and just now got around to finishing it into a little pillow ornament. This design was in the 1985 Just Cross Stitch Ornaments issue.

Friday Finish #1: Shepherd Boy fob by Told in a Garden

This is my first, well, actually the second, pathetic attempt at a scissors fob. I joined the Tiny Treasures Exchange blog, and the first piece we were to make is a scissors fob. They looked pretty easy to me, and they are, but I just happen to suck at whatever kind of stitching it is you do to close the gap when you make little pillows. You'll see in my other ornaments I finished today that they suck, too. The first little fob I tried to make was so cute - a teeny weeny little house and tree by Bent Creek, stitched one-over-one on 32-count linen. Problem number one was that I cut it too small for making into a little pillow, so when I turned it inside out some of the design was in the stitches. Second, since I'm so bad at doing the stitching, and the linen kept coming apart, I couldn't close it. Into the trash it went. Next, I stitched this little guy, from the Told in a Garden Bookmarks collection. See the uneven dent in the bottom? That's where I did my hand stitching after machine stitching the rest. Oh well. The person who receives it will also receive an explanation and the hope that she sees it as "rustic."

A Fairytale

I saw this today on Nancy's blog and had to share:

One day, long, long ago, there lived a woman who did not whine, nag or bitch.

But it was a long time ago, and it was just that one day.


Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Things I'm Learning #1

I'm learning so much as I begin this new craft! I can't believe I resisted quilting for so long. Here are some things I've learned - some through trial and error, others from books, websites, and blogs.

1. Continuous chain piecing - This was a "duh" moment for me. I put the first top together last month, which was the very first thing I EVER sewed, and did it without continuous chain piecing. Can you imagine how long that took? Monday night I was doing the little tiny squares for my chocolate box quilt, and realized I could do it a different way. Wow! I put all the tiny squares together in fraction of the time it took last month on that other top. Today I learned what it was called, (slowly acquiring the new language of quilting...) and that lead to learning the next thing:

2. Leaders and enders. I love Bonnie Hunter's site! I have a box started of 3" charms that I'll be adding to thoughout the year as I do a charm swap on one of my Yahoo groups, and I'm going to use those for leaders and enders.

3. Post-It notes - since right now I don't have a seam guide on my machine. I used blue painter's masking tape when I did my first top last month, and had a lot of unevenness to it since I'm so new at sewing. I made the switch to a little Post-It note stack after reading about using them or foam core, and my edges are even and I'm not intimidated by the little squares.

4. (Probably the most significant one) Keeping my scraps. Duh! As Bonnie pointed out, my scraps are worth $8-10 a yard, too! I can't believe I was throwing them away. Stupid me.

I'm sure there will be so much more to write about - like when I finally learn how to do binding; triangles; appliqué; borders; and so on and so on.

Monday, January 5, 2009

"Lavender" by Marika Belfiori

I made this little ornament/hanging for my massage therapist Sue. When she begins the massage, she gives me a little sniff of eucalyptus, and when I turn over, I get a wonderful sniff of lavender. I stitched this on light green opalescent lugana from Silkweaver - it really sparkles. The designer is Italian Marika Belfiori, who has some really nice free charts on her blog.

You Gotta Get Yourself Some of These!

These are called "Clear Project Bags," and they were custom made by Rebecca for me! She uses heavy duty vinyl, fabric, and zippers, and makes great bags for storing my cross stitch WIPS and the fabrics for quilts-in-waiting. These are the large ones, about 11 inches wide and 11 3/4 inches high. She makes smaller ones, too - there's currently one for sale at her etsy shop. You can contact her and ask her to make them up for you - not only are they reasonably priced, she's QUICK.

"Straight From the Heart" - Annalee Waite Designs

I sent this to my mother for Christmas. It's a piece I finished over the summer, using some linen she'd given me for Christmas last year. I waited until November to get it framed, and just realized I hadn't mailed it yet! Luckily she's still in North Carolina visiting my sister, and this should be waiting for her when she gets back to Texas.

Yes, I'm Finally Back

This is one of the reasons I love going to Lake Mead - the scenery. Most folks go to Lake Mead for the fishing (like my husband) and rarely pay attention to the huge expanse of scenery. Lake Mead National Recreation Area is HUGE - and more than just a lake. This picture shows not only the lovely red rocks that crop up in several locations, but the snow-covered mountains that can be seen in numerous places.

We stayed at Echo Bay RV campground - second year there, 4th overall at Lake Mead. Our friends Gary and Debbie were in the next site. Gary took Don out on the lake a lot, which resulted in 9 meals' worth of striped bass fillets in my freezer! In addition, on New Year's Eve, we had a fish fry and gorged on even more stripers and catfish. I took two WIPs, and had dozens of hours of uninterrupted stitching time. I finished Black Swan Designs' "Desert Sunrise" except for the beading, and worked a little on Raise the Roof's "Crabby All Year." No pics of those pieces. I went in to Las Vegas twice, and visited 3 different quilt shops (Fabric Boutique, Christmas Goose, and Nancy's Quilts) and a cross stitch shop (Stitchers' Paradise). I now have fabric for 3 new quilts - and have already started cutting and piecing the first one.

Gary hates having his picture taken. Debbie doesn't.

These will be dinner in the next couple of months!

This one was the largest of the trip - a 3-pounder that made two really nice fillets!