Saturday, March 31, 2012

Hello . . . Goodbye!

As expected, Thursday night was a late night at work. After I came home, I may have had something to eat, but I'm not altogether sure. I know I took a bath, fell into bed, and slept soundly until the alarm woke me up again. Friday night, I planned to leave on time or just a little late, but three hours after my normal quitting time, I finally threw in the towel and wrote notes to my co-workers about what needed to be done to finish the projects I just couldn't. Why is it always so crazy in the days leading up to vacation time?

Tomorrow morning my friend Lisa and my sister-in-law Kathy are picking me up and we're heading out of town. Destination? Carmel-by-the-Sea.

In Carmel, we'll eat and shop, walk around, look at the sand and the ocean, and maybe run into Clint Eastwood. Probably not though. But the rest will be fun. 17 Mile Drive? Maybe. Pedicures? Maybe. Monterey Bay Aquarium? Probably. We only have a couple definite plans and the rest are possibilities. We'll come back home on Monday night.

I'll take my Kindle Fire with me and check emails, I think, but I doubt I'll write a blog post. So I'll be away for a couple days.

I was hoping to whip up a new purse/tote before I left--something cute but large enough to carry "stuff" around in. Because I've hardly been home, I compromised by making new handles for my old purse/tote--the handles were by far the most worn part; the rest will do for now. I also rummaged though some small wool and embroidery kits and gathered together what I need to work on a couple--if I have the time and inclination. I'd rather have something with me and not feel like working on it than not have anything to work on and wish I had. I have a couple quilt magazines to read too--I've been saving those!

My clothes are packed. I even have pants. In the morning, I just need to pack my make up, hair "stuff," jewelry, etc. Lisa promised to bring me something from Starbucks to get me going when she picks me up.

Now that my vacation has begun, it feels like all the late nights at work are long past. I'll be back in a couple days to tell you all about it. In the meantime, if you miss me and want to read about another adventure involving me, Lisa, and Kathy, you can click HERE. I think we're older and wiser now. Well, we're older, anyway.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Challenged By Pants

Not long ago, I told you about an incident in which I ended up with no pants. Appropriate perhaps; if you do a Google search for "kim quilts nude" you end up with me: I easily outstripped Kim Kardashian long ago. Yes, I did intend the pun.

Just to show you that I truly AM pants challenged: On Tuesday, after being home sick from work on Monday, I went searching for some clean clothes. I'd done my own laundry over the weekend, so I really only have myself to blame this time. When the laundry had come out of the dryer, I hung all the tops and gently tossed the rest into a laundry basket to be dealt with later. Well, Tuesday morning was later, and after a little search, that's where I found all of my pants.

I grabbed a pair of pants and got dressed. I quickly glanced at myself in the mirror as I was leaving the bedroom, already running a couple minutes late. My pants were kind of wrinkled. Well, more than "kind of." What to do?

I remembered I had a can of this stuff, which is a truly excellent product:

All you do is spray it on, tug and smooth the wrinkled garment, and no more wrinkles! So that's what I did, and sure enough, the wrinkles fell out.

Probably because I was still recovering from an illness, I failed to consider that I had chosen to tug and smooth my black slacks on the Wild Child's bed where the white cat hangs out much of the time. The WHITE cat. You see where this is going?

Several minutes later--and keep in mind that I'd been running around the house pantsless the entire time--I finally managed to remove all of the white hairs from my black slacks. Unfortunately, I got to work a little late that day, but it was TOTALLY due to illness, right?

I've made up my time, though. And THEN some--several hours, in fact. Tonight (Wednesday), I put in about four hours overtime. Why? Because I'm taking next week off work and I have a TON of stuff that needs to get done between now and when I walk out the office doors on Friday night. And being home sick on Monday sure didn't help!

I expect there will be more overtime in the next couple days and maybe not a lot of blogging if I don't have anything interesting to say or if I'm too tired to stay awake for it. Also? I'll be away from all of you from Saturday until Monday night or Tuesday, depending on when we get back into town. So if you don't "see" me here much in the next several days, don't worry. I'll be back to my normal blog schedule soon, even if I have to write without pants.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Eye Candy

I think we quilters are very visual beings. We love looking at pretty things. We see something lovely that someone's made, and we want to make it too. And, of course, that happens to us about 15 times a day, and after a couple days, who can remember all the things we've seen and want to make?

Reading all these new-to-me blogs the other day made me aware of a couple of controversies that hit close to home. First, there's Pinterest. I haven't really gotten into Pinterest, but I know a lot of people have. What a great way to collect visual images you can reference later for inspiration! With Pinterest, we CAN remember all those things we see and want to make someday. But the problem is that much of the time, users don't obtain permission to pin someone else's images to their boards, which can be a copyright infringement and result in litigation. There's a very interesting article HERE if you're interested. Some of it is legal gobbledegook (after all, it's a blog post by a lawyer/photographer) but you can still get the gist of it. And this concern has caused a lot of people to decide Pinterest isn't worth the risk of possible legal action, so they've left Pinterest for now and are waiting to see what happens next.

I also came across a bit of a controversy about copyrighted fabric designs. As I understand it, Emily Cier wrote a quilt book published by C&T Publishing, and a close-up image of one of the quilts in the book was used as a design for tote bags. Lawyers for Kate Spain, the designer of the fabrics used in the quilt and reproduced on the tote without her permission, threatened legal action. The matter was resolved by discontinuing the production of the tote, I believe, and setting up a program to educate authors of C&T books about properly attributing the fabrics used in the quilts to the fabric designers. All of that makes sense--you can read more about it HERE and HERE as well as on Ms. Cier's blog, Carolina Patchworks. (You can also see the controversial tote HERE.) What interests--or maybe I should say "worries"--me are the other issues this raises, as mentioned in C&T Publishing's blog--who "owns" the copyright? The fabric designer or the quilt designer? If you're writing a quilt book and you plan to feature quilts made from fabrics of many designers, at what point do you have to identify each designer? Of course, it's easy enough if your quilt is made of fabric designed by a single designer, but what if you used a mix of fabrics? And where is the line drawn? Would you have the same duty to identify a fabric designer in the description of the quilt you're entering in your local guild's quilt show?

In her blog post, Ms. Spain explained how she creates a design and licenses it for use on stationery, fabric, and gift wrap/gift bags, but fabric, unlike the paper goods she licenses, is intended to be a SUPPLY used to make something else--it's not the end product.

Perplexing, isn't it? It kind of makes my head hurt. Especially when all I want to do is look at and be able to remember the pretty things around me. Or design a quilt and write a pattern without stepping on a fabric designer's toes--something I've never before given a thought to!

Real candy can cause tooth decay and health problems; I guess eye candy can cause trouble too.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

A Little Under the Weather

I've been feeling a bit ill today with a stomach bug, so I stayed home from work and slept a lot. I had chills for awhile, and being in bed under a couple quilts seemed like the best place to be. Thankfully, I'm feeling better this evening.

When I was up and about, I stitched on the rabbit project I showed you yesterday. Coincidentally, that was the same project Cindy in SC found to work on. I'd love to see hers one of these days. Of course, I haven't finished mine yet, but over the weekend, I worked on the Harrington and Hannah block for March.

I tend to like using wool a bit more than I like embroidery, so I've made a few small changes to mine. This is really a cute BOM, and I'm looking forward to seeing the new blocks each month.

Time to crawl back under those quilts and get a good night's sleep so I'm ready for work in the morning. I'm glad you could stop by!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Having Fun . . .

I'm really enjoying all the new blogs you told me about. I have several more to check out--the ones that people commented about today. I was too busy playing in the Sweat Shop to want to spend much more time on the computer today.

I was tickled to read the comment today by "Cindy in SC." She said, "I just wanted to say that I loved yesterday's post - it's generated a bunch of new blogs that I'm loving. Had a blast checking them out and found inspiration for a project I've worked on today!! Yay!!"

You're not the only one, Cindy. This evening I started working on an Easter project I found at the blog Don't Look Now. Here's what it looks like so far--

Not too much to look at really, but if you'd like to see what it WILL look like--and maybe check out the tutorial, click HERE. You'll need to scroll down that post a little way before you get to it, and if you're interested in making it, note that there's a second part you'll need to click over to.

Have you checked out some of these blogs you didn't know about before? Have they inspired you to make something?

I picked a random entry as the winner of the Luna Notte charm pack and the This and That Sweet Stuff pattern--JoAnne. JoAnn left this comment:

"I have my favorite list too, including many mentioned above. I enjoy Lane of That Man Quilts? Rachel at Stitched in Color and Sew Many Ways. You and these other people inspired me to start my own, the Patriotic Quilter. (JoAnne's blog has also been added to my list of blogs I want to visit regularly.)

JoAnne, email me your mailing address and I'll get this little thank you gift in the mail soon. Thank you all for your blog recommendations--I know it will mean many happy hours of reading and inspiration for me and others.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Is Cleaning Toilets More Often Than Once a Month Really Necessary?

I have a sweet deal going these days. Cleaning services. I've purchased several deals on Groupon and Living Social and I've found a service I like. They're supposed to come one more time under the package I purchased; after that, I'll have them come once a month. I thought I'd then clean once a month and just maintain an acceptable level of filth in the intervening weeks.

So today, Saturday, it was my turn to clean. Doing it once a month couldn't really be too bad, could it?

I did something today that I haven't done in a long time: I spent the entire day cleaning house. No, not that it was that dirty. It's just that I kept rewarding myself for cleaning bits and pieces with a little blog reading break. And you know I blame you, right? Of course I do.

And I truly do thank you too. Last year when I switched computers, I lost my favorites list, which meant I had to reconstruct my blog list, and I really was too lazy to do that, so I ended up just visiting a few close "friends" regularly. After awhile, I realized I wasn't getting inspiration from Blogland any more than a hermit gets inspiration from the big city he never visits. So asking you to tell me about your favorite blogs helped me tremendously. I've now visited most of them--at least most of those suggested so far--and found a bunch of great projects and nuggets of inspiration to encourage me to think up something of my own.

And I found a little gift to thank you--if you left a comment on yesterday's post and yours is the name I randomly draw tomorrow night:

And I'd also like to return the favor and list a couple blogs I stumbled upon today. These weren't recommended by you but I found them through blogs that were--as I was procrastinating on cleaning toilets:

Vintage Trailer Lady--Love her sewing room a couple posts down!

Clare's Craft Room--Check out her Easter egg craft project, also a couple posts down.

Clover & Violet--I really need to make a cover for my Kindle from their tutorial.

Okay, seriously? It's after 11 p.m. and I still have to clean the bathroom floors. I guess I'd better get that done. Tomorrow I'm heading back into the Sweat Shop with a clear conscience, a clean house, and a bucket full of inspiration.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Around and Around

Remember webrings?

When I first started blogging--back when we had to walk ten miles to school and home again, uphill each way because cars hadn't been invented yet--there were webrings. Well, there still ARE webrings, really, but it's not quite the same, I think.

Back then, blog surfing was much harder. The simplest way to discover new blogs was to come upon a webring member and click the "next" on the ring badge and travel from blog to blog, around and around the ring. If you were lucky, you'd stumble upon a member who belonged to two rings, and then you could click the "next" on the other ring badge and discover a whole other group of quilt bloggers.

Back then, I thought about joining a webring. There were Quilt Mavericks (headed up by Bonnie Hunter); Stash Quilts (where I found Vicky of LA Quilter--who is still working that stash); and Heartstrings--I'm pretty sure there are more webrings but I've forgotten what they are. I remember reading at the time what each group focused on and/or required of its members and I didn't think I really fit into any one group very well. Of course, not being part of a ring meant it would be hard for anyone to find my little blog, but that was okay--I enjoyed chatting with the people whose blogs I'd found through the webrings, and they often paid back the visit. After awhile, it seemed like I was getting a little more company and that was fun.

Of course, over the years, blog surfing became easier. Widgets were developed to allow us to post blogrolls in our sidebars with links to other blogs. The best, I think, are the ones that include photos, don't you? More often than not, they entice me into visiting new blogs.

And speaking of "new" blogs, there are TONS of quilt blogs now, aren't there? I'm afraid I've become a little bit overwhelmed with the variety--I just don't know where to start, but more importantly, I don't know where to STOP, and then suddenly it's 2 a.m. and I have to get up for work in five hours! Yikes!

The absolute best thing about visiting quilt blogs--if I had to pick only one thing--is the inspiration that's found in seeing what other people are doing.

I'd like to pick your brain about quilt blogs and I know the best way to get you to leave a comment is by bribing you, so here's the deal. You tell me about your three favorite quilt blogs--the less well known the better because I already KNOW about Bonnie Hunter, Happy Zombie, various designers, etc. I'll randomly pick a commenter, and that person will win a little something. I'm not sure what that little something will be yet--I'll have to look around and see what I have, and it might be something like a pattern or two or some charms--something fun but not hugely valuable. I'll see what I have to offer as a prize and post a photo tomorrow (Sunday's post) and then I'll draw a winner Sunday night to be announced on Monday's post. And maybe we'll all find some new inspiration in blogs we didn't know about before. Kind of like I did when I discovered webrings.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Easter's Coming . . .

Every year around this time, I think of the Easter carrots I've made, and I want to share them with you. The weekend is almost here and Easter will arrive in a couple weeks, so it's about time I share, once again, the "recipe" for these lovelies. The ingredients? Some muslin fabric, poly stuffing, and green and orange acrylic craft paints.

The first year I made them, the carrots were somewhat large and I painted them in a slightly more primitive tone of orange.

The next batch I made, a year or two later, were a bit smaller, and I used a brighter orange paint.

By the end of the weekend, your carrot patch will surely rival Mr. McGregor's!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Where I'm At . . .

When my friend Julie hosted our stitchery group a couple weeks ago, she served pulled pork sandwiches that were wonderful. They were so wonderful I kept thinking about that pulled pork for the next few days and I was kind of disappointed I HAD to make corned beef for St. Patrick's Day instead of pulled pork. Today I finally made the pork, and it was definitely just as good as I remembered. Simple too--all done in the crockpot, although Hubby did the pork pulling and he thought that part was a little time consuming. If you'd like to try a really good pulled pork recipe, Julie posted it to her blog HERE. One of the beauties about it is that it's cooked with only a bit of barbecue sauce so more can be added for sandwiches or the pork can be used in other dishes, like tacos, without tasting too barbecue-y. And for me, there's just the perfect balance of hot spicyness and sweetness. Yum!

Last week I showed you the four Thimbleberries blocks I'd made for the quarterly project before I remembered I'm not a sheep and didn't want to make the same quilt everyone else was making. On Wednesday I went to Thimbleberries Club and found the shop had a limited supply of the fabrics for making more blocks, so I ordered a bit more online and this is what I have so far--

Next I'll need to add some borders, so I dug through my Thimbleberries stash, looking for something suitable--I had purple and green in mind. Nothing. So I did a little web surfing last night and ended up ordering some of this Thimbleberries fabric--

From the photo, it doesn't look like it would be a very good match, but Thimbleberries fabrics usually do blend together and online photos are deceptive, so I'll reserve judgment until it arrives. In the meantime, I can trim the center and add a small border just like the sashing. If the border fabric doesn't seem right for the quilt, then I'll consider some other options. Maybe a pieced border or some simple applique. Or maybe I'll decide to use something other than purple and green. But you know I'll be sure to tell you what I end up deciding. I'm glad you could stop by for a visit.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Happy Day

I wanted to finish telling you about our excursion last Saturday. As we were leaving the quilt show, we stopped to ask several quilters for restaurant recommendations for lunch, and when we said we'd like to sit down and dine, we were directed toward establishments like Perkos, Burger King, and Taco Bell. Not exactly what we had in mind. When someone finally recommended the best Chinese restaurant in town, we were on our way!

Let's just say that maybe Yuba City isn't the gourmet dining capital of California. Lunch was okay, but not excellent. I guess I should have done my homework ahead of time, but when we went to the Manteca quilt show, we ended up having lunch at an excellent Mexican restaurant that wasn't even on my list, so I was expecting to repeat the experience. Oh, well, we weren't out for a day of fine dining--just a day of fine shopping! And we definitely got it.

On a positive note, the restaurant was just a hop, skip, and a jump away from the quilt shop, Sew So in Yuba City. The shop recently changed hands and moved from old downtown Marysville to downtown Yuba City on Plumas Street.

I know I'm a city girl and more rural ways seem odd to me in a way that they probably DON'T to most of us in the United States, but it struck me as kind of funny that the quilt shop was right next to the Gun and Ammo shop and across the street from the Discount Florist and Casket shop.

Everyone at this shop was super friendly and helpful and they had a good selection of fabric. With the quilt show going on, it wasn't only the gun and ammo shop that was booming. (Yeah, I know it's a bad pun, but what do you expect really?)

They had a lot of quilts hanging around the store as well as kits to make many of them. See that one on the far wall that's folded in half? The one made with the Ruby line of fabric?

A kit might have followed me home.

We left Yuba City with every intention of heading home, but as we were passing through Lincoln, Imelda asked if we wanted to check out a fairly new shop. Duh! Of COURSE we did!

A couple left turns off the main road found us at Sew Katie Jean.

Just looking at the sign made me think I was going to like the shop.

One of my friends said, "Kim, they have your happy fabrics!" And, of course, she was right. The shop is small and the stock of fabric isn't extensive, but Katie is carrying a lot of the fabrics, like Riley Blake, that aren't in every other quilt shop in our area. It's great to know that next time I need my happy fix, I only have to drive to Lincoln--about a 30 minute drive at most.

See that wallhanging? It's made using two different panels and some coordinating fabric--I think all three of us left with those panels in our bags.

Just before we left Sew Katie Jean, I overheard Imelda and Katie talking about the purple house. What's the purple house? Turns out there was another quilt shop in the area I didn't know about. The real name of the shop is Angel Quilters, although it's known as the purple house because the shop occupies a large studio next to the owner's home on some acreage out in the country, and every building on the property is painted some shade of purple or another.

I think I was pretty well shopped out by the time we arrived at the purple house. Not only did I not purchase anything, but I failed to take any photos. A large purple house and quilt shop and I didn't take any photos! I guess that tells you how tired I must have been!

Angel Quilters had a really nice selection of contemporary fabrics, though, and I'm sure I'll return someday. If you're ever in or around Lincoln/Rocklin/Roseville, check out their website and stop by. I'm sure I'll be back sometime--when I'm not quite so tired, or so broke!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

It Serves Me Right!

A couple months ago, one of the ladies in charge of the guild's opportunity quilt for next year asked me if I'd be willing to applique a block or two for the quilt. "Sure," I said, "I'd be happy to!" Little did I know . . . .

They selected an applique quilt pattern made up of various blocks, and they were specifically looking for quilters who used the freezer paper and starch method of hand applique. In January I picked up my packet--the completed block was due at the February meeting, but if it wasn't done by that time, then no later than the March meeting.

On Sunday night, as I was thinking about the week ahead, I remembered the March guild meeting was on Tuesday night. Then I remembered I hadn't even started on the applique block yet! Yikes!

Monday morning I got out everything I needed to prep the block pieces and took it all to work with me to begin during my lunch hour. When I settled in and pulled out the pattern--for the first time!--here's what I was faced with:

See those tiny spaces between the two sets of leaves on each blossom? This is not a pattern for freezer paper and starch! The best choice would be fusible with the raw edges sewn on the machine, but if not that, then definitely needle turn. Needle turn with basting is the only method of hand applique I know that has a chance of achieving those small cut away spaces. I thought then that what I needed to do was to return the block to the opportunity quilt ladies and tell them it was simply beyond my abilities because needle turn isn't a method I've mastered.

Tonight, though, I thought better of my decision. Although I hated the idea that I'd certainly mangle up some fabric in the attempt, at least I ought to give it a try. And I cheated a little--I made those spaces between the leaves just a teeny bit larger.

The instructions were to applique the blossoms and the leaves but not the center as that would be done by someone else later. So that's what I did, and I surprised myself--it turned out okay!

So Tuesday night, I can turn in my block without hanging my head in shame. But it serves me right for waiting until the last minute, doesn't it?!

On a happier note, I thought I'd show you the little project I made on Sunday--a small hanging from the Bette Bunny pattern. I mailed it off to the Wild Child on Monday.

When she left for New York, I gave her one of those wire quilt stands and told her I'd be sending her little seasonal/holiday quilts from time to time--this is the first one I've sent. It's a little dark for Easter, but I think it will probably go over better with her boyfriend than pastel Easter decorations would.

You know what? That whole little hanging probably took less time than the applique block! But at least I've fulfilled my obligation. Next time I'll know what I'm saying "yes" to and not procrastinate! That's the plan, anyway.

Monday, March 19, 2012

A Little About the Quilt Show

I think I'll need to break up my tale of Saturday's outing into two posts--otherwise, I'd be writing half the night and you'd be reading half the day.

I'm a sucker for a nice red and white quilt, and I particularly enjoyed this one. Pretty, isn't it? Someday I want to make one for myself--maybe I'll do that with the Redwork Renaissance fabric in my stash, as well as all the other red and white fabrics I've "collected."

Last month, our guild had a speaker, Diane Steele, who talked to us about swap blocks, round robins, row robins, etc. I anticipated a boring evening, but it turned out to be one of the best presentations I've ever heard. Diane had a wonderful trunk show for us, demonstrating, among other things, how differently the same swapped blocks had been set by the quilters in her swap group, the Calendar Girls. If you click on Diane's name above, it will take you to her blog, the Rabid Quilter, and you can see her standing with one of her quilts that won second place in its category--I loved that quilt when I saw it at the show too.

After seeing Diane's presentation and learning that her group, the Calendar Girls, always has a section in the show where their annual swapped block quilts are displayed, I wanted to visit the quilt show and see what her group had done this year. The next four photos show all of their quilts--all made from the same blocks but all set differently. If I recall correctly, the theme this year was North Woods Winter and each quilter interpreted that theme in the blocks she made to swap.

There's probably not as much variety in the settings of this year's quilts as there have been in some of the past years' quilts Diane showed us at the guild meeting, but you can still see the personalities of the quilters come through in the way they've set their blocks. I think my friends and I agreed that our favorite was the one in the third photo with the yellow, white, and blue in the sashings and borders, although I thought the quilt with the center tree bearing the blue ribbon in the second photo was pretty creative too. Which appeals most to you?

The vendors at the show were also excellent. My favorite was Vivica's Favorite Things. I would have loved to just buy her whole booth, because it was filled with vintage goodies, and I absolutely love old "stuff." I found some wonderful antique/vintage trims--

And she had these super fun "grab bags" filled with vintage odds and ends--truly you couldn't tell all the treasures that were in the bag until you purchased it and opened it up. It was a little like opening Christmas gifts and being surprised.

Tucked inside where they weren't visible were these two surprises--a little softcover booklet of Andersen's Fairy Tales and a movie theater brochure from a theater in San Luis Obispo. Fascinating!

And although I could see a little embroidered linen through the bag, I didn't know there were two until I opened the bag--I remember these kinds of embroidered doilies pinned to the arms of my grandmother's upholstered chairs.

Of course, that's not all I bought from the vendors, but I didn't take any more photos--I'm in denial. There was a vendor who had a lot of hand dyed wool and I purchased a couple little bundles/rolls from her as well as two wool Christmas pillow kits that were designed by Bird Brain designs. I don't know why, exactly, but I always seem to arrive at quilt shows primed to buy whatever strikes my fancy because I know the show won't be there tomorrow. Sometimes I'm lucky enough to not find much that interests me, but sometimes I'm not so lucky--this was one of those times. And you know what else? I just realized that no one called me today to tell me I'd won any of those raffle baskets I bought tickets for.

It doesn't really matter. What does matter is that I spent a happy day with a couple of good friends and we all had a great time. Tomorrow I'll tell you about the other stops we made between the show and home.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

It's a Wrap

Was your St. Patrick's Day a blast? Ours was! Three of us traveled a hop, skip, and a jump north to the Valley Quilt Guild's annual quilt show in Yuba City. And all of us got our green on!

There were tons of vendors, hundreds of beautiful quilts, and a quilt shop or three to visit on the way home, punctuated by lunch at a Chinese restaurant. The day was gray and overcast, but the rain held off until we were nearly home again. And I think all of us had crockpots filled with corned beef to return home to--yum!

After a little nap and a little corned beef, I was a bit more productive in the Sweat Shop this evening, although I'll admit that about half my time was spent putting away the goodies I'd purchased today. I'll tell you more about the show and our excursion tomorrow--and I have some photos to share.

In the meantime, I wanted to announce the winner of the Easter wrap kit--

Shirley said, "The pail wrap is so cute--I would love to win. Happy Spring (almost)!!" Shirley, congratulations! Please email me your mailing address and I'll get this out to you on Monday.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Well, it Seemed Like a Good Idea . . .

Put your jammies on, get something to drink and snack on, and settle in for a fun-filled Friday night of sewing. Sound good? That's what the monthly Friday Night Sew Ins are all about.

I drove home from work tonight, through the pouring rain, stopping only at the McDonald's drive thru to pick up a quick dinner. I've never had a Shamrock Shake, but I read a review of them yesterday that made them sound like the best thing on Earth--better, even, than the suddenly-viral restaurant critic's review of Olive Garden.

I got home and parcelled out our meals while Hubby and I caught up on American Pickers. The Shamrock Shake was okay. The fries were better. Mike and Frank found some good deals on rusty guy stuff. It was a blast.

True to the Friday Night Sew In credo, I took a bath and put my jammies on. I gathered up my dirty laundry and put it in the hamper. I checked emails. And then I drug my feet a little more for good measure before gathering up Stitch, the cat, and heading into the Sweat Shop.

What to do?

Heidi says preparation is key to having a successful FNSI, and she's right. I hadn't prepared anything. I thought maybe tidying away the few things that were left from other projects would get the creative juices flowing.

I put together the little wool kit for the winner of the bunny wrap, but once I finished that, I ran out of steam. Or maybe I ran out of steam when I sat down on the couch with Frank, Mike, and Ronald McDonald--after that, all I had left was a little sputter and hiss.

I give up. It's still raining outside, and that makes me think the evening's better spent curled up in bed with a Janet Evanovich book and maybe a cup of tea. Tomorrow's St. Patrick's Day and I have another quilt show excursion to go on with my friends. This FNSI is a bust, but maybe I'll work up another head of steam by tomorrow.

Friday, March 16, 2012

How Cute!

Or maybe I should say Plumcute!

At the quilt show in Manteca, we visited Tracy Souza's booth--she's the designer of Plumcute Designs; I mentioned her after the show. Most of us bought one of her Hippity Hop Easter pail kits, and I made mine tonight. Well, I didn't make the PAIL but I made the wool cuff that goes around it. It has two bunnies, an Easter egg, and two button flowers. Cute, isn't it?

I substituted blue wool for the white wool provided in the kit and then I used the white wool for the rabbits. I also added little pom-pom tails. You can see in the photo below what the cuff looks like when it's not wrapped around a metal pail:

Now that I've made mine, I'm ready to pass the pattern on. I think I could probably come up with a little wool kit to make the cuff too, but I don't have any extra pails, so you'd need to provide your own. If you're interested in winning the pattern and some supplies to make a reasonable facsimile of the wool cuff, and if you have a United States mailing address, please comment that you want to be entered, and I'll pick a winner Saturday night to be posted on Sunday's blog post.

What are you waiting for? Hop to it!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Where Are My Pants?!!!

I came home from Thimbleberries Club tonight earlier than normal, so I was looking forward to spending a little quality time in the Sweat Shop. I'd stopped at the grocery store for a couple things on the way home, and after putting away the groceries, I went into the bedroom to change out of my work clothes and into my play clothes.

I don't have a lot of pairs of pants. About 20 years ago, I realized that just about everything goes with black pants, so that's what I have--three pairs for work, and three pairs for play, along with one pair of jeans. My "play" pants look decent and are comfortable for sitting around sewing. I have tons of tops for work and play and they all look fine with black pants or jeans. Simple really.

The only problem is that Hubby does the laundry. Back at the dawn of time, when he and I divided up the household duties, he took laundry. And yes, the Wild Child and I often wash our own things because he doesn't really "get" that girl stuff can't necessarily be washed, dried, left in the dryer for two days, and then stuffed into a laundry basket for four more days like guy clothes can.

Sometimes I think it would be a lot less aggravating to just take over doing the laundry altogether, but I just can't get past that niggling little thought that men purposely do things poorly so they can get out of doing them. Besides, why should I work all day and come home and do all the household chores?

On the down side, sometimes I find I have no clean pants for work, and I have to scramble to get my pants washed and dried in the morning. So I try to be conscious of what the clean versus dirty pant inventory is, because I really hate when that happens.

Anyway, you probably don't need the whole back story, but I thought I'd set the stage--or maybe it's just that I need to vent a little.

This morning, as I do every day or two, I sorted through some clothes that had accumulated on the chair next to my side of the bed, and took a few things out to the laundry hamper; I left on the chair a top and a pair of pants that I'd only worn an hour or two a few evenings ago; I figured they were good for another couple hours after work tonight. And when I went to change out of my work clothes tonight, I changed into the top I'd set aside, but I couldn't find the pants. Had I accidentally grabbed them and threw them in the laundry hamper?

I checked my closet, and as I expected, I found no pants. Pants-less now, I went out to the livingroom to ask Hubby if he had any idea where my pants were, and as it turned out, he did. They were in the dryer with all my other pants. Because he was going to do a load of laundry anyway and he knew how I get a little riled up when I don't have any clean pants to wear, he thought he'd gather up all the pants and wash them.

I'd like to tell you that I killed him then and there, but the thought of what the press would make of a half naked, pants-less murdering wife was hard to overcome, even in a fit of rage.

Tomorrow morning while I'm at work, the Dish TV guy is supposed to come fix the TV receiver. Wouldn't it be funny if I locked all of Hubby's pants in his car while he's still sleeping, just before I leave for work? You know what they say about payback, right?

Well, I suspect the dryer's done now, so if you'll excuse me, I think I'll go put on my pants. My legs are getting a little cold.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

So What Else is New?

I'm glad I had a little show and tell for you in reserve, because if I hadn't, I'm not sure I'd be writing a post at all. Work is really crazy busy this week, and I stayed until 9:30 tonight, trying to get the more urgent matters attended to. I don't mind working hard, but it sure cuts into my play time!

Really, the only project I finished this past weekend that I hadn't shown you yet was the third block of the Autumn House block of the month. This is the pattern by Bunny Hill that four of us in my stitchery group are working on together.

Most of the time when I show applique blocks, someone leaves a comment asking about my method of applique--and much of the time, the commenter is "no-reply," so I haven't been able to answer. Yes, I do hand applique. I use the freezer paper and starch method. I'll check to see if I've done a tutorial on the method; I think I have but if not, I'll do one soon. Plenty of opportunity, I'm sure.

This block completes the top row of the quilt, and I was curious about how it looks so far, so I got the other two blocks out and lined them up:

Really, if you've seen the original Autumn House quilt, you'll realize mine looks much the same. I made a little design change on the first block, but the other two are the same as the patterns and we're even using most of the same fabrics. I know--I told you just yesterday about how I don't like my quilts to look like everyone else's but I don't mind so much with this one. And who knows? Maybe I'll make a few changes here and there. I wouldn't be too surprised if I found myself adding a squirrel flattened by a falling acorn at some point, you know?

When I finished the third Country Cottages block, like Autumn House, I wanted to line the first three blocks up and see how they look--I took a photo so you could see:

My roof seems to be getting higher with each house, doesn't it? I'll have to pay closer attention to that in the future--I hadn't really thought about it until now. I think I might have made the first roof a little lower than the pattern because I liked the balance better, and then I completely forgot about it by the time the second and third blocks came along!

It's time now for bath and bed--I can't believe I have to be back at the office again so soon, especially when morning seems to arrive so unnaturally early since Daylight Savings Time kicked in. "See" you tomorrow!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

A Little Detour

I know I told you I'd show you what other projects I worked on this past weekend, but that will have to wait until another day because I wanted to talk a little bit about Thimbleberries Club and the project for the first quarter of the year.

I've always enjoyed Thimbleberries--the patterns and the fabrics. While I'm not quite as much drawn to the darker, trademark Thimbleberries colors as I used to be, over the years Lynette Jensen has broadened the Thimbleberries color palate by bringing lighter shades into her spring and summer fabric lines, and the fabrics for the first quarter (spring) projects this year are no exception--pink, purple, green, and a yellowish cream.

We quilters in Thimbleberries Club also joke that Thimbleberries quilts are so large because they often consist of border upon border upon border, but Lynette Jensen's block designs are often quite fun--like the floral block in this quarter's pattern. Here's a look at this quarter's quilt, called Love Me Tender--

The quilt is a nice size for a table topper, small lap quilt, or a wallhanging, so it's quite useful. Last year in club, we made a BOM-type of quilt--and I didn't make the quilt. So it's been a little while since I worked on a Thimbleberries project, and I'm already behind this year--our March meeting is this week and not only do I not have the second section done, but I hadn't even started the first section that everyone showed at the last meeting. So on Sunday, I got busy making the center blocks--

A funny thing happened tonight, though. As I was adding the border/sashing around the four blocks, I remembered what I don't like about Thimbleberries Club quilts. As much as I like this quilt pattern and fabric, I suddenly remembered that hundreds of women--if not thousands--were making the same quilt as I was, using the same fabrics and the same pattern.

Yeah, that's something I've never really liked about Thimbleberries Club--and I'd totally forgotten about that!

So now I don't know. I didn't want to sew the four blocks together and move onto the next section until I thought about it a bit more, because of course I want to do something different--something so I'll be able to tell my quilt apart from the hundreds of other Love Me Tender quilts being made right now. I moved the blocks around on the design wall.

I do enjoy diagonal sets and I thought I might run something like flying geese blocks between the four floral blocks. But what will I do in the corners? I have no idea. And will my shop have more of the fabric if I need it? I guess I'm going to have to stop sewing at this point and start doing a little more thinking. And maybe looking at quilt books or magazines for ideas and inspiration.

Sometimes I think life would be so much easier if I just went along with the program. Then again, sometimes I DO go along with the program and later I wonder why--what happened to my creativity? In the long run, though, I find I'm usually happier if I step out of that "hurry up and get it done as fast as possible" mind set and invite my creative side to come out and play a little instead. I'll keep you posted about what I come up with on this project.

Monday, March 12, 2012

It Was the Best of Times, it Was the Worst of Times . . .

My weekend away from Blogland was a little mixed. Saturday was my stitchery group's monthly get together, and that's ALWAYS a nice time for us, with little gifts and treats, good food, and talk and sharing with friends while working on hand work projects. And the gathering was just as much fun as I anticipated.

This month, we met at Julie's house, and a couple hours after I arrived, a neighbor came knocking on Julie's door to let me know there was a nail in one of my tires. I went outside to look, and sure enough, there was a nail in the tire--but not quite ALL the way in. I decided that driving home would force it in further, so I'd pull it out and see what happened. If the tire went flat, I had plenty of time to call AAA to come out and change my tire.

I borrowed a pair of pliers and pulled out the nail, which was tiny--about a half inch long, and nearly half of that had been sticking out of the tire, so I had high hopes that all would be fine.

Yeah, you probably guessed it: all wasn't fine. I went out to check the tire an hour or two later and it was flat as a pancake, so I called AAA. The AAA guy came out and changed my tire, only to find my spare was flat as well. Probably not too surprising since I don't think the spare had been used in the 12 years it had been sitting in the car. Of course, the AAA truck came equipped with a cannister of air . . . except the driver had used all the air on another call and hadn't refilled it. So he had to go off and do that and come back and fill my tire, but we found that for some reason, it wasn't filling the tire all the way and I'd need to go to a gas station to fill it the rest of the way.

Of course, that was pretty much the end of my day at Julie's, but the gathering was breaking up anyway. I drove to the gas station and found I had to put four quarters into the air machine--and I didn't have change. So I pulled a dollar bill out of my purse and went inside the station to get change for the air.

The guy in the gas station was kind enough to turn on the air machine for me free of charge, but when I hurried to get air in my tire before the machine turned off, I accidentally lost hold of that dollar bill and had to run after it--it was a windy day. And I wasn't sure how much air I needed, but since the wind kept whipping my hair into my eyes and I couldn't read the gauge anyway, it didn't really matter. When that dollar bill flew out of my hand again and I had to chase it down a second time, I figured that I probably had enough air in that tire, and if I didn't, I didn't really care anyway.

Driving home, I saw a huge billowing cloud of black, black smoke rising up. You'll understand, I'm sure, that I figured it was probably my house on fire--but it wasn't. As I got closer, I could see the flames shooting up into the sky--it was a scary sight! Fire engines passed me again and again, coming from several directions, during the rest of the drive home. I learned later that one home was destroyed and another had extensive damage because the fire had jumped to the neighboring home. What a sad day for those families. I guess a flat tire wasn't so bad after all.

Today, Sunday, Hubby took my car to get the tire repaired. And here's the really weird thing I just don't understand at all. They didn't find a puncture in the tire, but the valve stem was leaking. How did the tire go flat after I pulled the nail out if it was the valve stem and not the tire? And no, the nail wasn't anywhere near the valve stem. Very strange.

Despite the interruptions during the day, by Saturday evening I finished the March Country Cottages block, Shabby Fabric's free block of the month--

I'll tell you about the rest of my weekend projects tomorrow--now it's time for bed. I suspect it's going to be hard adjusting to Daylight Savings Time again! See you tomorrow.

Saturday, March 10, 2012


I think I'll take a short little weekend break from Blogland. On Saturday, my stitchery gals are getting together for our monthly day of food, gossip, and fun, and I suspect I'll be feeling a bit tired and lazy Saturday night. Or, if I'm not, I'll be wired and enthusiastically working in the Sweat Shop and won't want to stop to chat. And tonight? Well, it's been a long, busy week at work as well as in the rest of my life and I'd just as soon take a bath and get to bed--no sleeping in on Saturday because I'll be packing up my projects to spend the day with my friends.

I'll be back Sunday night/Monday morning to tell you what I've been up to. In the meantime, I hope you have a lovely weekend ahead of you too!

Friday, March 9, 2012


Tonight after dinner, I went into the Sweat Shop to play a little. I'd been looking forward all day to getting out the fabrics for the March Country Cottages block, and it was finally time to "get my hands dirty." Figuratively speaking, of course!

You know, I'm sure, that sometimes finding the right combination of fabrics is the most time consuming part, and this was no exception. It took at least an hour, I think, to decide which fabrics I wanted to use in this third block, because I wanted to stay somewhat consistent in the overall visual "feel" of the blocks while not repeating the same fabrics in the same places. In the photo below,you can see what I finally decided on for the house; the fabrics to the left of the house will be used in the shamrock tree, but I ran out of playtime and didn't get those pieces prepped tonight.

I suspect a few of you might wonder how I DID pick my fabrics for this block, so I'll tell you a little about my thought process. I had decided with the second block that I was going to have black roofs throughout, so that was kind of easy although there was another fabric I preferred. The problem was that I couldn't find a fabric for the body of the house that "worked." And I didn't want to use a fabric with too much white in it for the body because February's block had a white background and I wanted contrast. I finally found the stripe in my stash and thought it went just fine with the other fabrics I'd been using so far.

All of the house windows are that golden yellow, so there were no decisions to be made there, and I knew I wanted something that would contrast and show up well for the door--hence the red and white check. After that, the rest of the fabrics, including those for the shamrock tree, were pretty simple to select. When I get this block finished, I'll show you all three blocks side by side, and you can see whether you think they look well together so far.

I was so busy with the cottage block that I nearly forgot to pick a Thimbleberries project for the month, even though the jar was sitting right in front of me! In the end, though, I set aside the cottage block and drew a slip of paper out of the jar: Thimbleberries Raspberry Cobbler blocks.

Some years ago, my online Thimbleberries group decided to swap blocks, but we were divided over whether to swap blue and gold blocks or red and gold blocks. In the end, we decided to swap both: the blue and gold block swap was called blueberry cobbler and the red and gold block swap was called raspberry preserves, and I participated in both. So really these blocks were misnamed in my project list--they're really Raspberry Preserve blocks. No matter though; the only thing that really matters now is what to do with them!

Some years ago, I set the blue and gold blocks into a quilt and gave it to my parents as a gift. That was just a few months before I began my blog, and so I don't have any photos available to share. In the coming days, I'll probably set these blocks out on the design wall to try out different possible settings and, of course, I'll share those ideas with you--and maybe ask for your opinion if I'm stumped.

Originally, I had it in mind that these blocks might make a good border for the birthday block quilt I worked on last month, but the golds in the blocks are too dark for the birthday block quilt. I think I might want to bring in a third color for sashings or something similar to set off the red and gold blocks. I'm leaning toward a blue, which would give it a bit of a patriotic feel, I think. What do you think? If not blue, what then?

Thursday, March 8, 2012

It's Block Time Again!

For 2012, I made a commitment to myself to work on more applique projects--because I really DO love applique best of all the quilt making techniques. I believe that what I like best about applique is the idea that a quilt can look like a "picture" and not just a "pattern," if you know what I mean.

And, as you probably know, I've gotten myself involved in several applique block of the month projects, right? Well, it's the beginning of a new month, and that means it's time to start thinking about this month's blocks.

Tuesday night, our little Autumn House group met to talk about block three and pick out the fabrics we'll need. Tonight, Wednesday, I spent the evening preparing my applique pieces (starch and freezer paper method) so that when I get together with my stitchery friends on Saturday for our monthly gathering, I can work on appliqueing the block.

I don't think I showed you, but at the Manteca quilt show, someone had made and was showing their Autumn House quilt--we were all SO excited to see it! Here's a photo I took--we'll be working on the house in the upper right corner this month.

Shabby Fabrics is posting their free block of the month patterns around the 7th of each month--guess what I found when I checked their site just a few minutes ago?

Isn't the March block darling? I can hardly wait to pick out the Lakehouse fabrics for this one! I don't think I have any of the greens from the line I'm using, though, so I'll have to either order a couple fat quarters or see what else I have in my stash that will work.

I feel like I'm getting a little bit of a late start on the month, though, since I spent the first week of March quilting Rabbit Transit. Thank you all for the compliments! A couple of you have asked questions about the quilt, including questions about the scalloped border. The border I used is from the original pattern--it's such a cute design element that Anne Sutton came up with! I think half the reason I loved the quilt in the first place was that scalloped border. And yes, the scallop is appliqued to the background fabric--each of the four borders are appliqued separately before being added to the center of the quilt, as are the corner blocks.

As I've been writing this post and thinking about the fact that March is here, I remembered that I still need to draw a project for the month from my Thimbleberries jar. I'll do that and tell you what this month's "challenge" for me is on tomorrow's post. See you then!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Rabbit Transit

Done! I could have sworn this quilt grew two extra sides when I was binding it--it took FOREVER and it's not that large!

I know--it's not that great a photo of the whole quilt, and I'll take a better one once I get a sleeve on it and hang it with the Easter decorations, but that will probably take another week, and I was just too excited to wait that long before I showed you.

The quilting was fairly simple--I just did some back and forth wavy lines in the background, which always kind of represents the outdoors and air movement to me. Then I did some quilting in the appliqued pieces to add a little detail. A friend asked me what I did to make the balloons puffy, and it's really just the absence of any quilting in those parts that makes them stand out a little bit. It's the same with the animal bodies, although I did outline quilt the arms, legs, ears, etc.

The quilting that I really had fun with and ended up liking quite a bit was the quilting in the scalloped border. I really don't like marking quilts much and I hate marking stencils, but I thought the scallops needed something along those lines, so I just drew lines to divide each scallop into sections. First I found the center and drew a line; then I drew lines from the center to the lowest points of the "V" between each scallop, and finally I drew lines in the centers of those larger spaces.

After that, I just quilted the loops like I would feathers, trying to stay somewhat even, and then traveling along the edge of the inner border to quilt the next scallop. Wouldn't it be fun to use that in something that looked like oranges?

Thanks again to Miss Jean for a great quilt name! My only regret right now is that there wasn't room in the borders to applique in the name. Wouldn't that have been terrific?!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Coming Up . . .

When I turned on the computer this morning, I was greeted by an email from Bird Brain Designs reminding me that Easter is only five weeks away. Five weeks! Yikes! That means it's time to start thinking about getting the Easter decorations out, but when am I going to do that? The next couple weeks will be busy already.

Each year I get an urge to make Easter quilts, but most years the holiday sneaks by before I make many plans. Maybe I'll have time to do something this year. Usually, though, I'll at least make something quick, like the small Bette Bunny wallhanging--and I DO have plans to make another this year for someone special. The one below--I think I made it last year--is hanging at my desk at work. (There's a technique tutorial in my side bar that shows how I make these types of wallhangings pretty quickly--I know I can make it in about two evenings.)

You know what else is coming up soon? St. Patrick's Day! And yes, I need to get out my St. Patrick's Day "stuff" too. At least I have a couple quilts for it. One year I made a couple small ones (the photo of one follows) and there's a pattern/tutorial for it in my sidebar.

Then I made a larger version and finally got around to quilting it last year. (It was one of my 11 in '11 quilts.)

Now I'm using a narrow "breakfast bar" size table in the kitchen--maybe I'll think about making only three of the shamrock blocks to make a table runner. Or make a couple placemats with two shamrock blocks in each. Then again, maybe I'll think about it NEXT year and think about Easter THIS year.

How about you? Have you made anything yet for St. Patrick's Day or Easter this year? If not, do you have any plans?