Thursday, January 31, 2013

The Not Quite So Big Reveal . . .

Today's the day when all of the Comfort & Joy participants get to reveal their finished quilt--or as close to a finished quilt as each of us has gotten.  You can visit Anne at Cottons 'n Wool to find links to all of us who worked on the quilt, so you can see what everyone else did.  Just click HERE.   BUT BEFORE YOU GO . . . here's what I have so far:

The center of the quilt top is finished and the borders are added.  It's a little hard to tell here on the design wall, but the outer border fabric is a white with multi-colored dots.  In the pattern, there are vines, berries, leaves, and birds appliqued into the upper left and lower right corners, extending along the borders in each direction.  Here are the pieces I've prepared for one corner:

And a very small start on the pieces for the other corner:

I was quite tempted to stay up a little later and get the pieces for the first corner glued onto the border, just because I thought it would be a little more exciting for you to see, but darn it!  It's just too easy for me to stay up half the night playing and then experience that 7-a.m.-get-up-and-go-to-work remorse, so I'm exercising my better judgment for once.  If you're not a regular reader of my blog and just hopped by from Anne's blog to see all the quilts, come back in about a week and I'm sure I'll have it done--the quilt top, anyway.  The quilting itself will probably take a little longer.  Still, I have another 280 days or so to get the quilting done, right?

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Another One . . .

Gosh, did I sound stressed yesterday?  I didn't mean to, but I guess I must have.  I actually thrive on a challenge and I like to set little goals for myself.  See why I need Friday nights off to go out to dinner and then relax in a bubble bath?  Planned relaxation!  Aside from Friday nights, I tend to be very driven.  I had to laugh a month or two ago when I woman I've worked with for the past couple of years said she thought I was a very relaxed type-B personality.  That couldn't be farther from the truth, but I DO remain calm much of the time, so that's probably how she perceives me.

Anyway, I digress.  I just wanted to show you the last block of the center part of the Comfort & Joy quilt--this is the one I should have made in November, but again, I guess I was doing something else, like eating turkey.

I see I cut off some of the pieced parts of this section when I took the photo, but I had those up on the design wall the other day anyway--it was just the applique that needed to be added.

I have one more day evening left to see what else I can accomplish because when I write tomorrow night, I need to post a photo for the big reveal.  But that doesn't mean I'll stop working on the quilt tomorrow night when I post--I'll keep working on the applique until I finish this project because I really like the way it's turning out.  Anyway, enough for now--more tomorrow!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Step Into the Way Back Machine With Me

We aren't going to travel back too far--just back to around October 2012.  Where was I and what was I doing?  Well, as we can see, I WASN'T doing the October Comfort & Joy block because there was no reveal in October.  But here it is, only three months late:

So, that's one block done.  I still have one block to go for the center and then I have to do the appliqued bordered.  I'm touched by your belief that I can get it all done by the end of the month--and maybe I could if I didn't have to work full time--but I really don't think it's possible.  But . . . I might get close.  I'll keep you posted.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Deja Vu

Did we just DO Christmas?  I guess maybe we can say I'm starting early for next Christmas!  Remember this quilt, Comfort & Joy?

This was another one of those block of the month quilts I was working on when I got sidetracked in the fall.  I still have two blocks and the border to make--and, of course, the quilting.  Today I put the parts up on the design wall and assembled the pieced blocks.  You might notice near the bottom a plain green square and another square to the right of it that's white with red pin stripes.  Those are the two applique blocks I still need to finish and they're what I'll concentrate on this week.  And the border.  Why?  Well, the group of bloggers that has been doing this quilt is planning a big reveal of the finished quilt, borders and all, on January 31st.  I wonder if I can get it done by then?

Sunday, January 27, 2013

A Quick Trip

A reader asked me the other day whether I thought Thimbleberries fabrics would lend themselves to the Scrappy Trip blocks some bloggers have been making--Bonnie Hunter/Quiltville has a tutorial on making the blocks with strips of fabric.  I replied that I thought Thimbleberries fabrics would be great, because one of the theories behind Thimbleberries colors is that all of the fabrics go well together.

And, since I had a rather large pile of leftover 1-1/2" squares from the Harrington and Hannah quilt, I thought I'd test my theory.  I made four blocks using the same colors in the same positions.  In the end, I think the eye would have tracked the pattern much better if the fabrics I used had been all the same in a row, as you'd get with strips rather than individual squares in varying tones, but my little challenge to myself was to use what I had on hand.  After I made the four squares, I decided to link them together with a sashing made of the same blocks that continued the color pattern out into the cream sashing border.

This little guy turned out to be about 20" square.  I quilted it simply, following every other diagonal "chain," beginning with the greens near the center, then blues, reds, and repeat through the colors again; finally I stitched along either side of the cream border and then bound it to match the red outer border.

And guess what?  I now have my first Christmas 2013 gift made!  I'd like to get a few more things made throughout the year so it won't be a mad scramble at the end--after getting sick just before Christmas this past season, I'm even more motivated to plan ahead this year.

I still have quite a pile of 1-1/2" squares.  I wonder what else I can make?

Friday, January 25, 2013

Harrington and Hannah, a Love Story

I don't know if you've noticed, but each Harrington and Hannah block we made this year included hearts in some way, so I thought the title of this post was appropriate.  Besides, I LOVE the way it's turned out and I'm looking forward to quilting it before too long!

I'm also very pleased to say that I've now finished one of those projects that I had begun last year but not finished, although I'm a bit on the fence about calling it "finished" when it's not quilted yet.  But still, getting it to this point is pretty good!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Kim's Day Off

I wanted to thank you all for the good thoughts and kind words when I "announced" I was going to start taking Friday nights (Saturday's blog post) off from blogging because by the end of the work week, I'm just too tired to write and I have very little to talk about.  Want to know what I did instead last Friday night?

Hubby called me at work that afternoon and said he just didn't feel like cooking; did I want to go out to dinner?  I kind of waffled about it because I'd had dinner out at the rubber chicken banquet the night before, and I'd gone out for lunch two days in a row too, but then I thought about the fact that HE hadn't gone out in awhile, and that didn't seem very fair.  I didn't make it home from work until almost 8 p.m. (see why I'm so tired by Friday night?!), but we quickly loaded up and headed out to a local barbecue restaurant, Back 40 Texas Barbecue in Roseville.  Hubby claimed a hankering for a good steak and I was afraid that most of the more well known steak places would have a long wait on a Friday night.  Back 40 is a smaller, more out-of-the-way place we'd eaten at a couple times; we felt the food was decent and there wasn't likely to be a wait.

I had the most delicious prime rib sandwich!  Hubby, though, was sadly disappointed in his meal.  He ordered a hanger steak, cooked medium, and when it arrived it was uniformly well cooked all the way through--and tough too.  When we were finally able to get someone to find our waiter for us, Hubby pointed out that the steak was overcooked and the waiter took his plate away.  For the next several minutes, I could overhear conversations in the kitchen, and the words "hanger steak" were mentioned again and again.  Next, an older man--who might have been a manager but he didn't identify himself--came to our table and explained their hanger steaks are marinaded for 24 hours and it simply wasn't possible to turn out a medium steak.  So Hubby ended up with the same tough--and now cold--steak back in front of him.

You know, I would have bought the whole story about the steak too, except on Saturday I was watching Restaurant Impossible and Chef Robert Irvine demonstrated how to marinade and cook a hanger steak and guess what?  It was nice and pink inside!  So either we were lied to or Back 40 just doesn't know how to cook meat.  Either way, our experience was less than pleasant, and we won't be going back.

I have to tell you, though, that despite Hubby's dashed expectations and unrequited craving for a good steak, my prime rib sandwich was really tasty.  REALLY tasty.  And after we got home, I filled the bath tub with hot water and dropped in a fizzy, scented bath bomb.  It was SOOOOOO nice to lay there and relax and know the work week was behind me and the weekend was ahead.  When the water started to cool, I dried off and got into one of my most comfy nightgowns.  I took two Tylenol PM, climbed into bed, and read a good book until I was too sleepy to stay awake any longer.  Then I was out like a light for a good ten hours of sleep--I could barely believe I'd slept so long, but I think I really needed it, because I woke up refreshed and full of energy.

I think Hubby and I might make a habit of going out to dinner on Friday nights, or at least bringing in some decent fast food if we just don't feel like going anywhere.  I can't remember the last time I had such a carefree, relaxing evening, and I'm looking forward to THIS Friday night.  I think it was a good decision, even though I struggled to make it.  I think everyone should build some time into their schedule to unwind and relax.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Do You Know the Way to San Jose . . . .

Last Thursday evening I attended the annual dinner and presentation arranged by the local legal secretaries' association to which several of the courts in the surrounding counties send lambs to the slaughter clerks to talk to us about the changes taking place in their facilities.  Of course, for the past five years or so, the clerks have mostly explained why budget cuts have led to the complete breakdown of the court system while dodging dinner rolls thrown at their heads by frustrated secretaries.

Besides myself, there were three other employees from my office.  The tables in the conference/banquet room are large and round and seat something like 10 people, so we always end up sitting with several people we don't know.   Since most of the law firms send only one or two people, it's a nice opportunity to meet and mingle with inmates law firm employees from different firms.

The tables themselves are rather crowded with plates and utensils as well as salads and desserts, so the first thing we all tend to do is lay claim to the pieces of tablewear we believe make up our place setting.  The woman to my right told me I was welcome to anything I wanted just as long as I didn't try to take her drink.  That was the ice breaker that started us talking, and we continued talking through the meal.

She works for a local firm now, but she used to work in San Jose.  Really?  Me too!  Back in San Jose, she worked for a firm whose name I recognized, and I worked for a firm she recognized.  In fact, she almost worked there at one time but decided not to take the job.  When did I work there?  I told her.  "Do you remember Ivy?," she asked.  Of course I did!  Ivy was the secretary to one of the main partners, and she had a lot to do with my training as a legal secretary.  MY boss was the associate who worked for IVY's boss.  "Well," my dinner companion said, "My best friend is Ivy's daughter."  "I know Jeanne!," I said.  Jeanne also worked at that firm and she and I were pretty good friends for awhile too.  In fact, Jeanne's daughter and Soccer Son were only about a year apart in age; they attended the same nursery school and were close friends; I even have a photo of the two of them taking a bath together when they were around 3 or 4 years old, and Hubby babysat Jeanne's daughter a couple times when we went out somewhere.

After talking our way through most of the main course, I asked my dinner companion her name; it was a name I recognized from the past, although she and I never met back then--even though I'd been over to the house she and Jeanne shared as roommates.

What are the chances of all that happening?  And to put it in perspective, San Jose isn't the next town over from Sacramento; it's about 150 miles or so away.  Besides that, there were probably a couple hundred women at the presentation--how did I end up sitting next to this particular person?  Luck?  Fate?  What do you believe causes these amazing coincidences to occur in our lives?  Before we all went our separate ways that evening, I gave the woman my email address and suggested she pass it on to Jeanne, who is now living out of state, and keep in touch herself as well.  I don't know if anything will ever come of it, but it sure brought back memories!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Flawed Marketing

"Progress from Love Guru to Sex Magnet."  That was the title of an email in my spam folder today.

With my finger hovering over the delete key, I reflected for a moment.  A love guru?  It seems to me a person could be worse.  In fact, I don't think I'd really MIND being a love guru, you know?  That would make me a master of love, or an expert in all things lovely, perhaps; it sounds quite pleasant.  But a sex magnet?  Well, I wouldn't call that "progress," would you?  I've spent about 50 years or so of my life making sure that's the LAST thing I was.  Okay, admittedly, there were a few years along the way where being a sex magnet seemed appealing, but that pretty much just got me married and pregnant, and not necessarily in that order either.  Besides, I'm pretty sure a bona fide sex magnet wouldn't get very much quilting done, don't you agree?

So I pressed the delete key.  "Are you sure you want to permanently delete this message?" my computer asked me.  "Yes, yes, yes," I muttered, as I pressed down on the key again, "I'm VERY sure."

Now I'm watching my spam folder for an email that promises to turn an ordinary, middle-aged woman into a Looooove Guru.  If you get one, forward it to me, okay?

Monday, January 21, 2013

Making The Cut . . .

When I began the Harrington and Hannah BOM, I decided to use Thimbleberries fabrics for the backgrounds--because I had plenty of background fabric and a lot of other scraps for whatever developed during the year.  In fact, as I kitted these monthly blocks up for my stitchery friends, I told them (all but one are in Thimbleberries Club) that I planned to use Thimbleberries fabrics, and at some point during the year, I gifted each of them with a stack of 100 charm squares I'd cut from my stash--if they wanted, they could use them in setting their blocks.

Now I'm thinking about setting MY finished blocks, so I hauled out my scrap bags of Thimbleberries fabric . . .

and I spent most of Sunday cutting 1-1/2" squares.  Did it make much of a dent in the Thimbleberries scraps?  No, not that I can tell.  In fact, it seemed like it was harder to get some of the scraps back into the bags!

I really don't have any real idea how many squares I have cut now.  I sorted them out into ten different stacks so I could separate the colors from one another, and I started to count how many squares were in each stack, but I stopped when I hit 50 and I was halfway through the first stack.  I knew I needed around 300 squares for the sashing and more for the border, so assuming there are around 100 squares in each stack, I should have plenty.  If not, I know where there are bags and bags of the stuff . . .

Oh, and guess what?  Since I had all these scraps out, I started thinking about that February mug mat I didn't make on Saturday.  The heart block I'd made, though, was still fresh in my mind, so I thought I could whip up some small hearts from all the scraps I was working with, and it turned out I was right--I think I probably spent maybe a total of about two hours on this little project including piecing, quilting, and hand stitching the binding.

One of the helpfully convenient things, though, was that I also have a bag full of scrap bindings too, so I didn't have to cut and press the binding--those always seem to take longer than they should, don't they?

I'm not sure this is really going to end up being a mug mat because at 8" square, it seems a bit large, but I think I'll take both of these to work and figure it out once I get them there.

All in all, a reasonably productive and happy weekend!  I hope yours was too.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Waste Not, Want Not

This year, my Thimbleberries Club, for those of us who are not doing this year's projects, came up with two alternate block of the month ideas.  There's a calendar block series (I don't have the book, so I didn't pick that one) and there's the very first block of the month project Lynette Jensen designed.  I started Thimbleberries Club a couple block-of-the-month years later, and I always wanted to do that first one.  I've even found and bought those original patterns but I didn't do anything with them.  And then it was all reprinted in a book--which I also bought.  So I figured now was the time to get around to doing it.  And each month, if we've completed the month's block, we'll get a ticket for the door prize drawing.  I like incentives!

I still have a pretty hefty stash of Thimbleberries scraps, so I decided I will work from my scrap drawer in completing the quilt this year.  I got started today with the January block:

And then I decided I didn't really want to end up doing the February block AFTER Valentine's Day, and since I already had everything out . . .

I made the February block.  Now you know, I think, that I often use the scraps from making flying geese blocks to make tiny half square triangle blocks, right?  So I put my tiny half square triangle blocks together--one ones I made from the January block leftovers--and added a little applique . . .

and I ended up with a really cute mug mat.  I just wish I had leftovers from the February block so I could make a mug mat for next month.  I guess I'll just keep it in mind in case I end up with leftovers from other projects.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Oh, Baby!

Remember the baby quilt I was working on earlier in the week?  Finished!  Yay!  Just in time for the baby shower on Friday afternoon.  As I type this, I've thrown the quilt into the washer and I hope to get it into the dryer shortly--I just love that crinkly look that washing and drying gives to a quilt.  The backing I used for this is a woven yellow brushed cotton, so it feels much like flannel but a little lighter in weight.  I think the parents-to-be will like it.

I've been doing some thinking these past couple months about my daily blog writing, and while I truly enjoy doing it, by Friday night I'm usually so tired from the work week that writing is a struggle.  Most of the time, I come home on Friday evenings--and many times I stop and do the week's grocery shopping on the way--and all I feel like doing is relaxing and not thinking about anything or doing much, and that means there's very little subject matter for a blog post.  So, unless something happens and I just can't stand to wait any longer to tell you about it, I think I'm going to take Friday nights off--which means no Saturday morning blog post.  Of course, for the rest of the week, I'll carry on with my daily blog posting, so I hope--for those of you who tell me you look forward to reading this blog each day or each week--there should be enough to read, but if not, just sleep in a little later on Saturday mornings.  Because you KNOW I'm all about sleeping later on Saturday mornings, right?  Happy quilting!

Thursday, January 17, 2013


I already mentioned that our stitchery group got together last Saturday.  All six of us have different preferences and styles when it comes to doing handwork--which is what we do at those gatherings because there just isn't room for sewing machines.  I tend to bring one project and plod along all day.  Imelda will usually bring two or three projects and finish them all.  Gran will often bring several projects and dance from one to another, perhaps finishing one, beginning to prep another, and doing a little bit more on a third.  At some point during the day, Gran brought out a wool heart project she'd been working on, and later that evening, she emailed us a photo of her finished heart:

Cute, eh?!  Imelda had made the same heart ornament last year and gave all of us a little kit with the wool and embellishments we needed.  I'm not sure if anyone made it then, but I know I didn't have time, and I had completely forgotten about it until Gran brought hers out to work on.  So Monday I packed up what I needed and took it all to work with me to work on during my lunch hour.  Here it is, a few days later and I too have a finished heart!

I hung mine on the cafe curtain rod over my kitchen sink, but I knew it wouldn't photograph very well there at night--I'd probably just end up with a reflection of me taking a photo!

The pattern for this heart was in the January/February 2012 issue of Create & Decorate.  Designer Tracy Souza of Plumcute Designs published different patterns in each issue for a year and called them the Bent Spoon Collection.  I think I'm going to have to pull out my magazines and make a couple more!  The hardest part is using only my mind and powers of concentration to bend the spoon.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013


We dog-sat our granddog this past weekend while the Wild Child and Manager Man attended the wedding of some friends at Lake Tahoe.  Unfortunately, they forgot to pack the Drooling Dog's coat for the trip, and it's been awfully cold around here lately.

(The Drooling Dog--this photo was taken a few years ago in much nicer weather!)

By Sunday, after spending a couple days putting considerable time and effort into coaxing the poor boy outside in the cold to do his business, Hubby took pity, and the two of them piled into the car and drove off to see whether they could find a dog coat on sale at the nearest LARGE pet store.

Apparently it was a busy day for pets and the store was crowded, with the line of customers waiting to check out winding its way down the aisles.  After Hubby picked out a suitable coat, he and the Drooling Dog got in line to await their turn to pay.  While waiting, Hubby struck up a conversation with the girl waiting in front of him.  Soon she began to smile a little and asked Hubby what he and the Drooling Dog were shopping for.  "A coat," he explained and held up his find for her to see.  "I think you need more than just that coat," she said, looking past Hubby.  Hubby turned, and there was the Drooling Dog, sitting very nicely, holding a rather sturdy stuffed fire hose chew toy in his mouth.  While Hubby wasn't looking, he'd done his own shopping!

When I heard the story, I was reminded of grocery store excursions when our kids were little.  You know those shopping trips where you get up to the register only to find several unplanned items have mysteriously made their way into the shopping cart?  Kids and pets!  They want what they want and it seems like they often find a way to get it, don't they?!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Sneak Attack!

I didn't think that reading a local shop's emailed newsletter would start me off on a quilt shopping binge, but that's exactly what happened here tonight.  It's not even a shop that's close enough for me to shop at--rarely, anyway.  Well, I guess I COULD, but I just don't head over in that direction very often.  In any event, the shop owner is celebrating her birthday later this month and mentioned a quilt pattern called Cake Walk, and in the background was a photo of a really cute quilt.

Have I never seen this quilt before?  It's not exactly new, but I guess if I ever saw it, I wasn't in the right mood to feel I couldn't live without making it, but apparently that's exactly how I felt tonight.

I do love Lori Holt's stuff, and after a bit of searching, I found the pattern on Etsy in Lori's own shop.  Along with another pattern.  And have you seen that new feature Etsy has where they post photos of what OTHER customers with similar tastes went on to buy?  Killer.  And I don't really think I mean that in a good sense; I mean that it's death to the budget.

Okay, admittedly I DID purchase a gift for a friend while I was in there punching keys on the computer, and I feel pretty good about that so far . . . .  That could change, though, if I decide I can't give it up once it arrives.

Then I started to worry about Thimbleberries.  Did you know Lynette Jensen is dialing back in about a year and probably won't be producing as much?  If I don't have enough Thimbleberries neutrals to go with all the other fabric I've amassed over the years, what WILL I do?  So that led to another search and another dent in my budget.

Sadly for the local shop that started the whole thing, I don't think I'll be going there for the owner's birthday event.  I don't really have any money left for it.

One of my goals for 2013 was to be more conscious about my purchases, and I can't quite decide if I was tonight or not.  I have very good reasons for buying what I did, but I think I could probably have lived quite nicely without it.  So here it is, only 1/24th of the way into the new year and I don't think I'm doing very good so far.  Then again, I still have 23/24th of the year left to get better and make up for this weak moment.  Glass half full.

So, how are you doing with your goals?

Monday, January 14, 2013

A Baby Quilt Project

I don't usually make quilts for people at work, except for one or two special circumstances in the past, but we're having a baby shower at the end of the week, and I was in the mood to make a quilt for the parents-to-be.  I already had some fabric I liked that I'll use on the back, but I had to order the panel which is by the same designer/artist.  It arrived in yesterday's mail and today I cut apart the ABC squares and added a yellow sashing--the parents decided they wanted to be surprised about whether it will be a boy or a girl, so they picked gray and yellow as colors for the baby's room.  AND they have an animal theme going on.  This seems like it will fit in well.

Gosh, I can't tell you how careful I was and how many times I checked to make sure I put the alphabet back together in the correct order!  Can you imagine getting a couple blocks out of order?  Yikes!

Tomorrow after work I'll pin the quilt and, time allowing, start on the quilting.

I also put the Harrington and Hannah blocks up on the design wall.  Good thing I did because I noticed I had accidentally reversed one of my pairs of bunnies.  I had to remove them and resew the little guys.  I also left the eyes off another pair.  Other than those mistakes, I think the blocks are okay.  Next I'll need to decide what I want to do for the sashing.

I'm leaning toward 1" (finished) scrappy squares to bring all the blocks up to the same size (12" x 12") and then border it with a couple rows of 1" squares.  First, though, I have a baby quilt to finish!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Block 12--DONE!

Last year, beginning in February, each time my stitchery friends gathered, I gave them a kit for the previous month's Harrington and Hannah block.  At today's gathering, I passed out the last of the block kits and I spent the day working on mine.

Of course, I had an advantage because I had already cut my pieces, prepped the background with a fusible backing, and glued down the pieces.  Now I have all 12 blocks done; next I'll need to work on setting them and I'm not quite certain how I want to do that.  Of course, the designer, Michelle May, designed a setting for the quilt, but I kind of think I'd like to do something different . . . or maybe not.  I'll think about it and probably put all of my blocks up on the design wall while I ponder what to do.  And, in addition to deciding on a setting, I'll take a last look to see if there's anything I want to add to the blocks or change.  This has been a fun little project that hasn't been quite the same as most of the calendar-block type of BOMs.  If you didn't participate this year, it's not too late to visit Michelle and download all of the blocks before they disappear.  Just click HERE.  She also has helpful stuff like wool felt, perle cotton, and kits to help you get going. 

(Have those of you who are allergic to wool tried the wool felt?  It's 20 percent wool and 80 percent rayon.  I'd be interesting in knowing if you have the same reaction as you do working with 100 percent wool.)

Happy stitching!

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Going Green

Or maybe I should title this post "Third Time's a Charm."  My friend Cynthia at Appalachian Quilts came through for me with the RIGHT green fabric--super quick delivery too.

That horizontal green strip in the center is what I was trying to match, and the two fabrics on the right were the WRONG pieces I'd ordered before I finally got the correct color--on the left.  I think what originally threw me off was way back a few months ago when I read an online shop's description that referred to the lighter "vines" as tan or beige in the right fabric; when I looked at my fabric, I could see they were a light, avocado green.  (Maybe THAT's where the avocado juggling dream came from?  Still can't figure the Kazoo though.)  So it took a long time for me to figure out it WAS the correct fabric after all.

Anyway, all's well that ends well, and thank you again Cynthia for coming to my rescue.  Now I just have to find some time to work on this quilt and get the top finished!  You'd think that with the weekend here, I'd have plenty of time, but I expect I'll be busy with several other things, including the one event I look forward to all month--the monthly gathering of my stitchery friends tomorrow.  I'd better get to bed and rest up because I know I'll need all my energy for those ladies--talking, eating, laughing and sewing really wears a person out.

Friday, January 11, 2013

What Does it Mean?

Since I've been sick, I've had the oddest dreams!  Last night I dreamed I was at one of our office "events," participating in some kind of game in which we split into groups and had to complete various challenges.  The one I remember best, probably because my alarm went off just then, was four of us standing in the middle of an intersection, holding up traffic for two minutes while we simultaneously played Kazoos and juggled avocados.

Where in the heck did THAT dream come from?  Avocados and Kazoos?  When I got to the office, I told the woman who normally plans all the party events that I blamed her for my weird dreams.  I guess I wasn't really surprised when she got a speculative look in her eyes; I bet one of our future events will involve juggling avocados while playing a Kazoo--but hopefully not in the middle of a high-traffic intersection.

As I was driving home from the office tonight, I remembered my dream again.  And oddly enough, at that moment it struck me that standing in the middle of traffic, juggling avocados while playing a Kazoo was probably a pretty good metaphor for the reality of my work some days.

By the way, National Kazoo Day is January 28th.  You still have time to get ready.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

The Rest of the Story . . .

Kristy left me a comment about the red and cream quilt, saying she couldn't remember if this was a pattern or something I'd made up.  I realized it's been awhile since I started this project, so I thought I'd tell you again, all in one place, just how it came about.

Our Thimbleberries Club "leaders/teachers" (I'm not sure what they're called!) challenged us last year to turn in 15 large flying geese blocks each month, and at the end of the year, we'd have 120 blocks.  They would then give us a mystery quilt pattern for the geese as well as FREE THIMBLEBERRIES FABRIC (!!!) for the sashing and borders--whatever we picked out.  I was reluctant to participate; in fact, I had absolutely no intention of participating because I really didn't need MORE Thimbleberries blocks that I didn't know what to do with.  As the months passed and I watched many of my fellow club members turn in their blocks each month, though, I started to rethink my decision, and by mid-summer, the idea of free fabric--and having a little free time one week to make blocks--persuaded me to change my mind.  By the time I made that decision, I pretty much had to make all 120 blocks in a month.

I decided I wanted red and cream geese, and I wanted them scrappy--because Lord knows I have drawers and drawers of Thimbleberries fabric I've collected over the years, and I really thought it was about time to use it.  So one week I pulled out 10 or 12 different red fabrics and about an equal number of cream fabrics and got started.

For a long time now, it's been my practice, if I'm going to make large quantities of geese blocks, to make them the old fashioned way--a square on top of a rectangle sewed on the diagonal and pressed back.  Then I sew a second seam on each corner section of the geese and trim the fabric off between the two seams; those trimmed off pieces become half square triangles that I later square up to size--whatever size I can get from them.  And since these were pretty LARGE geese--3" by 6" finished--I ended up with a bunch of 2-1/2" half square triangles.

Well, I turned in the 120 geese at the next Thimbleberries Club meeting and eventually, when the challenge ended a month after that, I got my FREE FABRIC.  Which I promptly set aside and sort of forgot about.  But I still had a pile of half square triangles in red and cream.  What should I do with them?

I've always wanted to make myself a red and cream quilt, and Christmas was coming--the perfect season for red and cream quilts--so I played with those small squares on the design wall, and I cut more fabric squares to fill in.  I moved them one way and another until I ended up with a design I liked.  But then I wanted to move them all again, just in case I liked something else better.  That went on for awhile until I had to set everything aside for a different, more pressing project, but those little pieces stayed up on the design wall.

After a couple more weeks, since I kind of NEEDED the design wall for other things and it was very inconvenient to negotiate my way around a bookshelf I'd had to move away from the wall in order to access the entire design wall for the project, I started sewing all of the small pieces together.  By this time, it was a couple weeks before Christmas and I was sick, so I worked on the project in little bits of time between periods of illness and vital holiday-related, non-quilting tasks.  I finally got enough pieces sewn together to shrink down the area needed on the design wall and move everything up and out of the way, far enough so I could move the bookshelf back against the wall.  Then I stopped again.

The other day--last weekend maybe?--I got back to it and finished sewing the pieces and rows.  And at some point between the end of the Thimbleberries Club flying geese challenge and now, it occurred to me to use those original flying geese blocks as a border; after all, they used all the same fabrics, so they'd match perfectly.  (I think I only used about 60, so I have about 60 left for a future project.)

So here we are.  I still have a small stack of 2-1/2" cream squares I had cut for the project, and I'll need to cut a few more to make that last small "border" around the quilt.  After that, I'll pin baste it and quilt it, and hopefully it will be done in time to languish on the sofa looking very Valentine-ish.

No, it wasn't a pattern to begin with, but I find that having the elements of a block already made and playing with them on a design wall makes it fun and easy to develop a pattern like this.  Did you every play with these when you were a kid?

There was another "toy" that was similar with a felt board and felt geometric pieces that could be moved around.  I loved both of these toys and could play for hours.  Little did I know back then that it was good training for quilt design!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

A Quilt So Far

I thought I'd show you the cream and red quilt top . . . so far.

I thought this would be it--all done.  But then I decided I should probably add at least another row of cream squares all around.  I think that will bring it up to 70" square, which is a pretty good size for a miscellaneous-use quilt, don't you think?

Monday, January 7, 2013

Well, A Funny Thing Happened . . .

Hello everyone!  Yes, I'm still here.  All that really remains of this cold is a nasty cough and tickle in my throat that has been keeping me awake half the night despite the multiple and varied "remedies" and medications I've tried.  It's lessening day by day, but I find the best way to deal with it is to try to get to bed quite early on those nights when I have to get up for work the next day, so at least if I spend a few hours coughing, I'm still likely to get the sleep I need to keep me functional.  Sooooooo . . . I've continued to stay off the internet and just concentrate on doing what absolutely needs to be done in my world.  One foot in front of the other, step by step, and soon I'm sure my routine will return to normal.

In the meantime, Hubby's been sick but I don't think he's quite as bad as I was.  It's hard to tell, though, because I know there were days when I felt like I was on the mend and then days when another symptom would hit or I'd suddenly have no energy, and I know he's been feeling that too.  Still, he tends to not get coughs like I do--probably as a result of my many earlier years as a smoker whereas he never did pick up that nasty habit.  So we're hoping his recovery will be quicker.

Anyway, what I wanted to follow up on is that green Thimbleberries fabric I was searching for.  Remember that?  Well, when I posted, I'd found a source online; the next day, I had an email from the shop that they were out of the fabric.  Again?!  Figures, right?  The same thing had happened a couple times before.  Fairly quickly, though, I found another source and ordered it, expecting to hear any day that the shop I ordered from was out of it too.  But I never heard, and a couple days passed.  Today the package arrived and guess what?  IT'S NOT THE RIGHT SHADE!  ARGH!  Yes, it's the fabric I ordered, but it's still not quite right.  See?  I told you it's hard to tell the difference between the three colorways of each print.  That sure makes ordering from the internet difficult!  So now I have 1 yard of the darkest shade, 1 yard of the medium shade, and none of the lightest shade--which turns out to be the one I need.  It sounds a little bit like Goldilocks and the Three Bears, doesn't it?

So I went back to the computer tonight and an internet search turned up the lightest shade at Appalachian Quilts - coincidentally, the shop is owned by a Thimbleberries friend, Cynthia.  Of course, I ordered a yard, and hopefully it will arrive before long and it will be exactly the shade I've been trying to match.  Keep your fingers crossed for me!

I've been doing a lot of reading lately, finally using the Kindle Fire Hubby bought me for Christmas over a year ago, and I'm enjoying it more now.  You may remember that I'd cleared out quite a lot of my books from my library after Thanksgiving, so I'm feeling a little less tied to the physical, paper form of books than I had been before.  That's not to say I don't still have plenty of paper books I haven't read yet--I do!  But the Kindle is convenient too, and there's a lot less book clutter on my shelves and tabletops.

I've also been spending a little time in the Sweat Shop--not as much time as I normally would, but more than I had been a couple weeks ago.  In line with my 2013 quilting plans, I finished quilting the bright Christmas quilt I pieced from strips back around October or November--I'll take a photo and post it soon.  And in the last couple of days, I've returned to piecing the red and cream quilt--I'll take a photo of that and post it before long too, just as soon as I finish piecing the top.

So that's how I've spent the first week of the new year; how about you?

Thursday, January 3, 2013

A House of Pestilence

Sorry to keep going on and on about this freaking cold, but it's pretty much become the center of my existence these last couple weeks.  When is this thing going to go AWAY?!

Although I'm feeling quite a bit better, I find that on the days I work, I come home from work without enough energy to play in the Sweat Shop or do anything else of interest.  Add to that the fact that there seems to be absolutely nothing on TV, and the result is that I have dinner with Hubby, take a bath, and head to bed with a book and a Tylenol PM, followed by about eight hours--at least--of sleep.  Yes, I know it's probably what my body needs right now, but it sure doesn't make for a very interesting life.

On top of that, I finally managed to pass this thing on to Hubby, so he's suffering now too.  Any thoughts of going to a movie for New Year's were set aside for the time being--we'll do that sometime later, when we're both feeling better again.  I just hope he'll recover quicker than I have.

So for now, my blog posting may be rather spotty; after all, one can only write so much about being sick with a cold.  I WILL let you know, though, if anything interesting happens around here.  Thanks for checking in on me!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

In Search Of . . .

I have three projects I was actively working on just before Christmas that I had to set aside in order to get other things done.  I hate doing that, especially when the projects are Christmas-related projects--but they're projects that were just for me and my home and not meant as gifts, so they weren't a priority at the time.  Still, it's a little hard to go back to working on them AFTER Christmas, knowing they won't really be seen and appreciated for another year.  But since my plan is to FINISH STUFF, I can't really put them aside until next Christmas, can I?

I actually hit a wall with one project near the beginning of December when I realized I needed another half yard of a particular fabric I'd used in the quilt, and I couldn't find it anywhere.  It's not an easy fabric to find.  Why?  Well, it's a green Thimbleberries fabric from the Village Green line a few years ago.  It was one of the fabrics for the BOM quilt.  What makes it difficult is that RJR/Thimbleberries offered the quilt in three slightly different colorways, so they often produced the same design in two or three different shades.  Here's a photo of the fabric I'm looking for; it's a dark green with mossy avocado green vines:

The fabric number is 0173-03.  There are two more similar fabric that go with the other two colorways.  The darker fabric is numbered 0173-2 and the lighter one is numbered 0173-1:

See what I mean?  Confusing, right?  Oftentimes, online shops will show a photo of the fabric but won't include the fabric number.  So far, I've ordered the fabric I need from two or three online shops only to have the shops email me to say they're out of it.  And I accidentially bought a yard of the darker fabric at one point.  So the search continues.  I just placed another order with an online shop that didn't show up when I searched before, so maybe it's not such a bad thing that I had to put these projects aside and wait.  I guess it will depend, though, on whether the fabric arrives in my mailbox or whether I get another email from a shop advising me they're out of it.

And did I just say yesterday that I was going to try to limit my fabric purchases in 2013?  Well, I'm sure we can all agree this one doesn't count, right?!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

More of the Same

When I thought about my quilting goals for 2013, I realized that while I have enjoyed all of the applique projects I worked on in 2012, most of those projects were block of the month quilts that still aren't done.  It seems that somewhere around August or September, I got derailed on many of those projects.  I came close though.  With only a couple exceptions, most of those projects are only a block or two away from completion.

So for 2013, my goal is quite literally "more of the same"--continuing on with what I was working on with a view toward getting those quilts completed before starting any new block of the month projects . . . because I DO have a couple more that I'd like to begin at some point.

I also have a few pieced quilt tops that need to be quilted.  Well, to be honest, I have many more than "a few," but most of those have been languishing in the "quilt tops" basket for a few years now and I'd be unrealistic about my goals if I thought I'd somehow manage to get caught up with quilting all those tops.  But I have more on the rack in the Sweat Shop that were pieced more recently, and a couple of those are even pinned already.  So I'd like to get some of those finished up this year too.

Finally, I want to play a little more with wool applique this year.  I showed you the first of the wool sheep blankets that I'll be working on each month.  The small wool applique hanging quilt in the photo above is a little project I worked on today--another Buttermilk Basin monthly project; this one is for January, and the center square is separate from the background--it just hooks onto the background and can be changed out each month.  I also made the background so it's reversible--plain black wool on one side and black with white polka dotted cotton on the other.  I'm not committed to making the center squares for each month this year, but who knows?  Maybe I will.

I also want to make a conscious effort to cut back on quilt-related spending this year; mostly because I just don't have room for more "stuff."  Right now, I'm not very tempted to purchase anything new so that's easy to say, but I know myself well enough to know that sometime in the next couple months, I'll fall in love with five new lines of fabric, and I'll feel the need to buy them all.  Well, I'm not making any promises I can't keep, but I am promising myself to be a little more conscious of my buying decisions.  And that means that even though I may fall in love with five lines of fabric, perhaps I'll limit myself to one or two.

So far, I think 2013 will be a great year, don't you?  This cold still lingers a bit but I'm feeling much better again, and I've been back in the Sweat Shop for the past two days, being productive and having fun.  Do you have any quilting goals for 2013?  Happy New Year!