Wednesday, March 22, 2017

After the challenge

Between storms and power outages and having to work at work, it has been a while again since I've posted.  Every year I say I will get 52 posts up, and then life gets in the way.

Every year I enter the guild challenge- most years I make two pieces to enter.  But then I get them back and wonder what to do with them?  I certainly don't need another tote bag, or have a reason to hang a big fish quilt in my house.    (I know I've mentioned this before)  Here is what I did with one of my most recent entries.


 This piece was called "Name the Bar".  I had fun making it, but saw things I should have done differently immediately after I finished it- don't we always?  More than that, I had absolutely  no use for it in my home- nor did I think anyone I knew would.  Ar ound the same time, I had been searching through all the places I had parts of my interchangeable knitting needles stored/ stashed.  It was frustrating and wasted my time.  So I did a search for a way to store them neatly, and found this.

 So almost as soon as I got it back from the display last Saturday, I started deconstructing it by removing the flaps and half of the binding. 
Here are some of the needles laid out so I could measure and figure what exactly my needle case should look like.
 And here is the finished product- look how neatly things are arranged (and there's room for more!)

This is what it looks like all folded up nice and small- easy to store!

These are the leftovers.  I was going to make it bigger, then changed my mind so the quilted pieces are kind of small.  I may just toss them.  Seems a waste, but it has served one purpose and is now serving another- unless someone needs coasters???

I have been saving my yarn bits for a few years and placing them out int he suet feeder for the birds.  I find them in use when I try to get the house sparrows out of the swallow houses.  I like to think the babies get a nice soft bed from the scraps I leave.  But recently I read a warning that they can harm the babies by strangling them, or being wrapped around their legs and injuring them.  I take everything I read with a bit of skepticism anymore (sadly), so I searched a bit and found posts on both sides of this.  I am  still not sure if its a good idea of a bad one.  So I have decided to still ofer them, but make sure everything is cut into approximately 1 inch pieces, and not place anything fine, like sewing thread, out.  It seems a reasonable compromise. 
Compromise- an idea that needs to be promoted more and more these days. sigh

I am grateful for:
Having someone to call for help when I need it.
Being prepared for emergencies
Good sewing time
Leftovers in the freezer
Brightening someone's day

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

An Oma weekend

I didn't do any sewing last weekend, and I don't care at all.  Here's what I did instead! 

Kiara has been wrestling with the youth league, and they had a tournament.  Anyone who has ever been to a wrestling tournament knows it is a LONG day. So I brought Jonathan down with me to spend some time with mom while I watched big sister wrestle. 

Ra-ra's head gear looks good on me!

In this match, She got her arm twisted under her and had to stop for a minute to be sure she could continue.

 She did, and won!

Unfortunately, by the time her next match came around, it had stiffened up and she lost.  But she took third place in her group, so got a trophy!

Jonathan got restless, so we went back home. He "opted out" of nap time, so we got to play a bit before mom got home.

The next day, Kiara came over for some playtime.  We took it easy since her arm was still tender. Her stuffed animals all enjoyed our adventures in living room land!  I guess I'm a "bad" gramma, since I played instead of taking pictures with her.  (I am not serious here in case you wonder)

 I'll sew next week- if the kids don't need me.  :-)

In case I haven't said this enough- be informed.  Stay informed.  Read multiple news sources, even those you disagree with.  And then do something with the information.  Many of us want to pretend this isn't happening.  We are tired of the stress, the anger, the fear.  But we can't ignore it!  It won't go away. Too much is at stake.  A man named John Pavlovitz said it very well in this post.  Here's a little bit of it. 
In our social media profiles and our daily conversations, we have to make space for difficult, uncomfortable, unpleasant things. We have to have wade into the messy, mundane, and not-fun realities about our political process and face the gravity of these moments together.
In fact, we need to wrestle with these difficult things now, in order to craft a future for our children where they have less difficult things; so that they can inherit a safer, kinder, cleaner, more diverse, more loving planet.
We need to be willing to be burdened beyond our current capacity for empathy and activism, so that we leave them something worth inheriting: a life filled with puppies and babies.
Read the rest, then tell me it's time to relax.  If you can.

I am grateful for:
Jonathan calls me Oma now!
Being silly with a little girl.
Sleeping in under cozy quilts when it's very cold outside.
Getting that great playlist off my old phone at long last!
The people on the front lines.

Monday, March 6, 2017

I had a good time at retreat!

 This is my home away from home for four days at the Museum Quilt Guild's annual retreat at the Asbury retreat center on Silver Lake Feb 23 - 25.  I took this picture before I started working- that's why it's clean.  :-)

I love sitting by the window so I can gaze out at the lake now and then.

My first project was blocks for the collection we made to give one of the girls who recently got married.  I guess I'm not very good at wonky.

Then I got out the Folded Leaf Topper I had packed and taken to the retreat in PA last September!  It's a fun and easy project, so I'll be making more.  Place your order early.  :-)

In cleaning up some projects last year, I made these placemats with the leftovers from a baby sized quilt.  I got there and realized I had forgotten binding fabric, but the backing was big enough to wrap around to the front!  (And they're finished!!!)

A couple of the girls said having a mate under their machine made it vibrate less on the light weight tables we use.  So I used the scraps from Melanie's blocks to make one.  No pockets on mine since I know  I'd get caught on them and pull the whole thing off the table at some point.
 Kathi had been doing walking foot quilting, using a wavy stitch the machine I brought doesn't have.  I used the blind hem stitch, which I kind of like!

We took a nice walk on Friday when it was 70 degrees!  The ice melted off the lake by the end of the day.

This is my UFO #24- part of a seasonal series.  I brought all the fabrics I needed, but not the threads.  Fortunately I had to run home ( a 15 minute drive for me)to feed my girlies (cats), so I grabbed what I needed and got this finished!!

Just for fun, I threw the supplies for another "curious creature" in the bin at the last minute.  The pom pom eyes were in my embellishment bin.

 Sunday morning brought winter back to us for the last day.

The seagulls on the lake didn't seem to mind once the sun came out.

 My last project is another set of placemats.  Someone gave me the fabric- samples they won at some quilting event. I will donate them to the "Furball" later this year to help raise money for the shelter.

I'm already looking forward to next year's retreat!!!

I made a donation to the NRDC last week on the day the news broke funding is being slashed for the EPA.  I can't begin to say how devastating it will be if the progress made in the past 30 - 40 years stops here.  Choose an organization you think is worthy and let them know you want to help them fight this madness.

I am grateful for:
A few days of non-stop sewing.
My hubby doesn't mind me enjoying this little slice of heaven every year.
Not having to cook for several days!
Great memories made.
Crossing something off the UFO list!

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Sometimes you've just gotta let it go

 So I got out a very old project last week to assess it, thinking I might take it to retreat week after next and try to finish it.  I started this in a class with Betty Alderman.  It must be ten years ago, but try as I might I could not find pictures from when this was a new project. 

Anyway, I was doing some fun stitching around the appliquéd pieces rather than satin stitch everywhere.  (I had taken a class with Jane Sassaman not long before and was inspired by the way she uses the decorative stitches on her appliqués)

But, back then I was also teaching classes, and this probably got pushed down the list again and
again.  It had been tacked up on the wall of the sewing room so I wouldn't forget it.  But then I tacked a piece of batting over it to use as a design surface, and it did get forgotten.  I noticed it a few times and thought "I have no idea what I'll do with it if I do finish it".  So there it hung
  When I took it down last week, it looked like one of the flowers was loose.  So I took it to the ironing board and hit it with the iron for the 10 count I always do for fusibles.  When I picked up the iron, imagine my horror to find the background fabric was discolored- scorched looking.
(circled area)  With nothing to lose, I ironed another spot- same thing happened.  Well, shit. 

  So I laid it on the floor under the cutting table for a few days, pondering.  I ironed over the whole thing and left dark ares, thinking it might look tea-dyed.  I don't know if it was starched way back then, or if the fact that it had hung in a room with halogen lights had affected the fabric, or even if it was the adhesive from the interfacing I had used to stabilize the piece.  I found a piece of the fabric in my scrap therapy bins and tried to discolor it, but it didn't work. 

 So I got to thinking about how long it had hung there, and if I had really loved this project wouldn't I have finished it? ( I have older UFOs in all honesty- hangs head in shame)  And I asked myself if I really want to put any more of my time into it?  The answer was no.  So I threw it away.  I was kind of proud of myself for that.

The projects I am actively working on look like this right now.

I got the pattern for this one from the Country Treasures booth at the quilt show last October.   I don't have the pattern at the moment, so I'll put a link to that next time.  I'm using scrap therapy squares.  It uses 2.5 inch squares, which is not one of the sizes cut for ST.  However, as Joan said-a 5 inch square makes a convenient storage device for them.

And this is one of the kits I pulled out last week- the pattern is called panel panache.  As I said before, it sure is pink!

You can see the border fabrics peeking from the left side of the picture, along with a piece of the binding fabric from the picnic quilt.  I save extra lengths of binding and eventually I have enough to bind a quilt.  I promise not to use it on this one. 

So, things might or might not be settling down.  I think many of us are getting a bit overloaded on the anger that has been flying around the past few months.  It's been ugly.  It has affected people's health.  But we can't just relax and hope for the best.  There are so many ways to get involved.  A columnist I follow named Dana Milbank, wrote a great article filled with the names of organizations you can join or support.  Go have a look.  We have to work together.  I'm happy to have found a couple of groups in my area.

I am grateful for:
Days I can turn the alarm off and get back into bed.
Jonathan takes my hand and pulls me in to sit or play with him when I go visit.
Getting to the good part.
A nice long chat with Lucas yesterday.
the Resistance.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Finished objects

I got this one finished a couple of days after my last post.  I gave it the name "Picnic in the Garden".  I hope it will bring comfort to whoever it ends up with.

I'm fairly pleased with how the floral quilting came out. All I marked was the stems and the circles where flowers would be.  I've been using the bohin chalk pencil , which rubs right off!
 This is a mug rug I made for a swap.  It's on its way to her, so I hope she gets it before she reads this. 

I also finished the last ball I had prepared for beading.  I loved this fabric, but wasn't thrilled with the way it was coming out at first.  Sometimes the fact that the silver heads of the pins seem like the most prominent part of the embellishment annoys me. 

But I kept going, adding more and more as I went and ended up liking how it looks.  You really have to see them in person when the light can hit all the assorted sparkly bits. 

This weekend I'll start gathering stuff for the annual retreat at Silver Lake!!!

I tried in vain to find some good news regarding environmental issues, but can't find any.  I fear it will only get worse. If you are angry about that, let your representatives, local and federal, know.  Do it often.  Every time there's a vote, look to see how your representative voted, and let him or her know how you feel about it.  Better yet, contact them before the vote.  It might take some work to stay informed, but we have to let them know before it's too late.

I am grateful for:
A tolerant husband
Browsing old pictures, and enjoying the memories.
12 more days!
I won with customer service this week.
BBCA showing Star Trek Voyager.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

UFO update

As I mentioned at the beginning of the year, my online guild is doing a UFO challenge this year.  So, at the end of January, I'm showing the progress I made on the two pieces I pulled out to work on when their numbers were called.

 #3 was assembled blocks that I needed to add borders to so it would be a better size for the guest room bed.  Accomplished!  Now it goes back on the list as a top ready for quilting.

#20 was a top ready for quilting.  I pondered how to quilt it, and finally made a plan, so I layered it- it had enough of the border fabric folded up with it for backing and binding!
I started quilting it, but time with the grandchildren takes priority and I didn't quite finish.  I'll probably finish it since I'm so close.

Here's a detail of the quilting so far.  The green spots will get a viney floral spray with curlicues/ spirals as a filler if needed.  The border will probably just be a loopy thing I've heard called lele quilting because it looks like a cursive lower case L and E combined. (It's in between the wormy bits here)

So, this month's numbers are 7 and 24. 

Ever hopeful it's something I can finish quickly, Martha goes to list and discovers both of these are kits (Fabric in a bag with the pattern) from long ago.

 #7 is part of a calendar quilt series of kits I signed up for way back when.  Not sure why- kits are never made using Martha fabrics, but I guess the samples in the store really appealed to me.  It's a snap quilt- you make a background quilt and just snap a new center on for each occasion.

The kits are all in a bag and at first I thought I'd just grab a random one.  But if I get it finished this month, I can use this one in March.    What about the background quilt, you ask?  That was the first kit, and I actually did some work on that, so it has its own number on the list.

#24 uses a pattern called Panel Panache  (click on the smaller picture, the one they have as the main one is hideous and I'd never have bought the pattern for that!- actually the sample the shop owner had was even better!)
I was using the one pansy fabric as my focus, so it's pink and purple.  I'm sure that's why I never made it.  But it makes up into a nice size for donation.  So I'm hoping to get the top pieced this month.

The other day I wanted to do something quick and easy to accomplish in a short time.  So I got out the "curious creatures" book I used a while back, and made a larger creature. 
I'm still not sure what he's for, but I may bring him with me on retreat at the end of the month to hold my phone charger.  Or maybe he should be my keyring, so I can stop locking myself out of my car!

I've been reviewing the things on this list for things I can do to feel like I am doing something!  This whole situation has me feeling powerless.   But learning a few facts about causes I care about is something I can do.  Dropping an email to my congressman or state representatives is something I can do.  If you want things to change, do what you can!

I am grateful for:
Triple A, and a warm place to wait.
When Jonathan sits with me and cuddles.
The DVR and DVDs
 I think I have my data usage issues under control at last. (I hope!)
Fresh brownies, warm and gooey!

Wednesday, January 25, 2017


Last week I showed just a portion of my challenge quilts.  We presented them at the guild meeting last Saturday, so now I can show you!

My first impulse after hearing the theme was, of course, drinking.  (I'm not a bar fly, but anyone who knows me knows how much I look forward to my afternoon glass of wine!)
So I set about collecting fabrics with drinks on them.  I was a bit disappointed that so many were on black backgrounds.  Then the idea of famous bars came to mind as a way to have actual bars on my quilt.  I then collected images from the internet for bars I thought would be recognizable to fans of the movies and shows.  ( I left out "Cheers", feeling it was too obvious)

I decided it would be a nine patch design..  I found a modern nine patch quilt I really liked, so decided to use that as my base quilt.Now that it's done, I have decided that using the prints I did, this was a mistake.
  Such is life.  You can see the base quilt here, under the flaps.  This is where I put the name of the tv show or movie.  The logo of the bar is on a flap which covers it up.  So it's sort of a game.

This is the completed quilt.    Can you guess all the answers?? (they're at the bottom of this post.)
 I don't love this quilt, and will have little use for it once the challenge exhibit is over.  I'm thinking it will end up as a case for my knitting needles. The flaps will make great pockets!

My second challenge entry is called Alien Plant Life.  I had bought the pattern, called Shenandoah, by  Creative Sewlutions, a couple of years ago.  I hadn't really thought of it for the challenge until I saw the floral fabric.  I was on vacation, visiting Roswell, New Mexico.  We had toured the UFO Museum, and I had noticed a quilt shop just across the street.  Surely they would have fabric with aliens on it, and wouldn't that be the perfect souvenir?!?!!  Well, they didn't.  But when I spotted this fabric, inspiration struck!

 Since there are no aliens in the fabric, I quilted some on it.  The one on the ground is pretty tough to spot., so I blurred the edges in this photo to help.  He's waving to another alien...

...who is flying off to explore the stars.

This was a fun challenge.  I can't wait to hear the theme for the next one! (Of course that doesn't mean I'll have it finished before Christmas.)
You can see more of the quilts here- and soon, all of them will be at the guild blog.

Al Gore has made a sequel to "An Inconvenient Truth".  It won't be out until July, but I can only hope the sequel urges as many people to action as the first one did.  Climate deniers like to say the planet has undergone temperature shifts in the geological past.  True.  How many species survived those shifts?  The Earth will survive humans, but humans cannot survive if there isn't clean air or water, or food. 

I am grateful for:
The women who marched and gave a voice to those of us who couldn't.
I didn't fall off the roof.
A day with Jonathan
We've had almost enough rain/ snow so far this winter to recover from last summer's drought.
Only 28 days until retreat!!

The Gem: Deadwood
Rosie's: MASH
Moe's: The Simpsons
Boar's Nest: Dukes of Hazzard
Rick's: Casablanca
Three Broomsticks: Harry Potter
Long Branch Saloon: Gunsmoke
MacLaren's: How I Met Your Mother
Quark's: Star Trek Deep Space Nine