Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Finished is better...

 I'm finding sewing time is hard to come by these days.  I'm not sure why.  So I'm happy whenever I finish something!

A while back I shared Kiara's first quilt.  And then I showed the top I had pieced from the second set of blocks she picked out.  I finished it a couple of weeks ago.   It will be donated at a gathering of my online quilting friends later this year.  The backing is flannel, so I hope some child battling illness will like it.  

I used the walking foot and that wavy line stitch to quilt it.  It's not perfect, but it's finished.  When I made the label, I wrote that it was designed by Kiara and I did the piecing and quilting. 

After what seems like years, I finished these socks, which I plan to sell.  They are made from a yarn I discovered at Michael's a couple of months ago.  It's sock weight, but on the finer side, so it took more rows to get the length right.  It is very soft, so will be comfortable to wear- almost like cashmere.  I have two more balls of it to work with.  

I'm allergic to an ingredient in most sunscreens, so have to wear the mineral based ones- or a big hat and long sleeves.  It turns out the very same ingredient might be killing the coral reefs!  Hawaii is working to ban these products.  Naturally, the companies that make them are in an uproar, declaring their products to be safe- for HUMANS!  They don't want to have to spend any of their massive profits to change their formulas.  So look closely when you buy sunscreen, and avoid the ones with Oxybenzone!  Show them that we will support the more environmentally friendly alternative!

I am grateful for:
SPRING has finally arrived. 
Sleeping with the windows open.
Leftovers (and a husband who will eat the same meal twice)
Anna's help figuring out new options.
Little bits of sewing time.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Not quite a vision board, but...

 Recently on her blog, Lori Kennedy spoke about clutter in our sewing space, and the piles of ideas we all seem to have.  It made me think of the layers of crap pinned on my own bulletin board.

I never removed anything, just added to it, hanging new clippings on top of the old ones, patterns I want to do sooner rather than later, etc.  The sunflower is a beaded piece I stopped working on, but would really like to finish- so I put it where it would haunt me. :-)

But one grow accustomed to looking at the detritus and clutter and soon it's all just background noise. 

So I pulled everything down and assessed it all.  Some went into the recycle bin.  A few bits and pieces went into the "parts department" for later use.  The stuff I kept doesn't tell any kind of story.  There's no vision of where I want to go next.  But it might help me focus on something.

How about you? Do you have a pile of crap clogging up your creative thoughts? 

Today is Earth Day.  It was started in 1970 with great enthusiasm for the changes we would make to stop the damage we were doing.  Everyone agreed it was a good idea at the time:

Earth Day 1970 achieved a rare political alignment, enlisting support from Republicans and Democrats, rich and poor, city slickers and farmers, tycoons and labor leaders. By the end of that year, the first Earth Day had led to the creation of the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the passage of the Clean AirClean Water, and Endangered Species Acts. “It was a gamble,” Gaylord recalled, “but it worked.”
- from

Sadly, since then there has been a complacency among many individuals.  They think since they recycle their garbage, they're doing all they have to do.  They are wrong.
There has also been a major push back from the businesses responsible for the greatest share of the damage, via lobbying.

We have to keep making our voices heard.  Keep making better choices.  Keep this planet habitable for our children and their children.

I am grateful for:
My husband who makes me laugh.
A real spring day, open windows, and working in the garden at last.
Small bits of sewing time
My quilt guild, where I get to giggle with friends, enjoy show and tell and be exposed to new stuff all the time.
Fresh baked bread

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Cleaning the floor - and the planet, sort of

I have a "Swiffer" Wet Jet for cleaning the bare floors (wood and linoleum)  But, past the original pads that came with it, I do not use the "swiffer" pads.  I may have mentioned in the past that I became an environmentalist  because it saves money.  I refused to pay money for things I was just going to throw away whenever possible: paper plates, napkins, towels, etc.  So the first thing I did when I got the wet jet was to find a way to make pads I could wash and reuse.  I have been using these, made from cloth diapers until recently.  

Those were wearing out and I keep forgetting to buy more diapers.  Then I ran across a piece of flannel I had been using as a dust rag and the light went on.  So I went to the remnant bin at JOann's and got this really ugly piece of flannel- just over a quarter year.  The pads are 4 1/2 by 10 inches, so that's perfect!  Here's how:
Fold a 9 x WOF piece as shown, first lengthwise, folding the edges to the center.
Then fold the ends to the center again and then in half to get a pad approximately 4 1/2 by 10. 

Sew the loop (soft) side of the velcro one inch in from the long edges. 
Folding as shown makes a pad with several edges, which hasn't seemed to affect the performance. However, I have refolded the next ones, to make a smooth edge (the lower pad in this photo), which may decrease wear on the edges.  I'll let you know.  I'm also looking into a way to make one side rougher for scrubbing sticky spots.  
If you don't want to make them, but would like to try one, I'll be making more to sell.  I haven't set the price, but if you're interested let me know!

When  you go out to eat, do you automatically take the straw when you get your water or soda?  I am making a very concerted effort to remember to say "no straw" when I'm out , keeping in mind the environmental damage.  (Print the cards offered and leave them at your tables!If we stop using them, the restaurants will be happy to save their money on them (I hope) and stop giving them to everyone.  Even McDonald's is moving away from them (In the UK at least!) Small steps can make a big difference!

I am grateful for:
The rare nights I get good sleep.
The bits of sewing time I can squeeze in lately.
My family, near and far.
My daily glass of wine.
People who will not let stupid decisions on high to stop them from doing what's right.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

A Finishing Weekend

So this happened last weekend. The black and white cat, George, is the big sister who did NOT want a baby sister in her house.  (After spending three years waiting by the door of the kitten nursery so she could play with any who escaped.)  So, despite marigold's best efforts, she has never been allowed to share George's bed, or snuggle in the same chair with her.  But every so often she gets close.                           By the way, George paws at the covers on our bed so she can get under them to make herself a nest.  So we started putting a lap quilt on top of the bed after it was make to make it easier for her.  

I spent a good bit of time in the sewing room last weekend!  I got that little Nancy Halvorsen piece finished and it has brightened up my little corner of the office.  

  I finished another of the dreaded kits of the month.  I think this one was the one I liked the least of all of them.  It was designed as a tooth fairy quilt.  Really? But the quilt shop owners had supplied an alternate pattern piece they designed to make it a garden fairy.  Cue, but I still don't think I want it in my house.  If you like it, it will probably be for sale in the boutique at our quilt show in October.  

I discovered a picture I had halfway colored and left in a folder, so I finished it.  I had forgotten how enjoyable it is to spend time coloring.  I'll have to do more of it.  
I also got the second quilt Kiara picked fabrics for quilted.  Maybe tomorrow after my play date with Jonathan, I can get it finished too!

"Some" people think all they have to do is sign an order and the movement to end fossil fuels will go away. But they would be wrong.  When a company as big as Apple is now powered by 100% solar, I think others will pay attention.  

I am grateful for:
Letting go of old hurts.
If you freeze brownies when they're fresh, then microwave them for 20 - 30 seconds it's just like fresh out of the oven again!
Crossing things off the UFO list.  
In spite of the cold and the messy flower beds,  my crocuses are very pretty.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

A quick trip!

So I'm a couple of weeks behind yet again (shocking, right?) 

In this post, I'll share a trip I took over Easter weekend.  I went to Houston for a family event. If you've known me for any length of time, you know there was a time I said if I can't drive there, I'm not going.  Then Guy moved to Portland.  So I had to overcome my anxieties so I could go see him.  And now, here I am making a really quick trip to Houston!  (Down Friday, wedding Saturday, home Sunday. )
I always get a window seat, and I love the views!  Guessing where you are can be fun.
It was cloudy over Buffalo- and most of the first leg of the trip.

I've never seen a jet trail from this angle before.

Some art work inside the Atlanta airport

 The Atlanta airport is HUGE, as if you couldn't guess that.  To get from one concourse to the next quickly, you ride a very long escalator down to a subway train!

 I don't know if that is a small river twisting along there, but white on the curves intrigued me.

So that's the Mississippi river!

Look how green it is around Houston!

A great idea- no making the tall people fold themselves in half!

So, I'm not sure I've ever mentioned that on my bucket list is to visit all 32 NFL stadiums.  So we drove into the city so I could see NRG Park, where the Texans play. 
 But for some reason, the guard at the entrance says they do not allow photographs to be taken of the outside of the stadium.  He was funny- he didn't know why, just that he couldn't let me stand in the driveway and have my picture taken with the stadium behind me. 

So we went across the street and sat in the parking lot of a hotel or something and I took a picture.  The dome on the right is the Astrodome, which no one quite knows what to do with.  

We also drove by where the Astros play. 

In Houston, the gardens are filled with Amaryllis, like we have daffodils or tulips!

In front of my hotel, a Bottlebrush tree was in bloom. 

It was a very small and simple wedding

At the Japanese garden in Hermann Park.

And the next day I was on my way back home!
That's the Gulf of Mexico!

And maybe the mouth of the Mississippi

 I realized coming into Atlanta that I could see Mercedes Benz Stadium, where the Falcons play.  Not quite what I had in mind, but I've at least seen it. 

I had a long layover in Atlanta on the way home, so I took the scenic route to my gate.  This section of the tunnel is meant to feel like a rain forest.  It has forest sounds, and lights that look like rain falling on the floor. 

There is also a hall of the history of Atlanta, which is very cool.  Who knew there was a Marthasville?

 The planes come and go at a very fast pace in Atlanta.  No, they weren't using the same runway!

Someday I'll go back to Houston when I can stay a while.  Maybe in October for IQF

Monday, March 26, 2018

Muddling along

I don't seem to have as much sewing time as I used to for some reason.  I know part of it is my own fault.  I over-schedule myself and try to fit too much into the days off.  I also spend too much time staring at the devices- as we all seem to do these days.

And, of course, there's this guy! (with his new superhero toy)  I have to see him with some regularity or I just feel off.  Must be a kind of Oma withdrawal. :-)

I decided I need a new quilt to stick on the wall near my desk.  I don't technically have an office; I occupy a corner of the common reception area in a suite that houses three different departments.  The cement block wall is painted a terracotta color, which is relatively inoffensive.  But it needed the Martha touch.  With the addition of some heavy duty mounting tape, some metal mending plates and heavy duty magnets, I am able to hang small quilts on the wall.  (The removal of the mounting tape will be someone else's problem should I ever get a real office!)

Anyway, I found this sweet little piece in Nancy Halvorsen's Garden Song

I love Nancy's designs; they're fanciful and she uses interesting colors.  This piece was meant to be a garden stake- one of those tiny ones you can put in a pot.  I added to the borders to make it a bit bigger.  It still needs to be quilted.  There was supposed to be buttonhole stitch around the appliqué, but I'm combining that with the quilting for the sake of expediency.

I did some layering last weekend in the hope that I can make time (and my machine will play nice) to get some quilting accomplished.

This is the second piece Kiara and I worked on the day we made her first quilt. While I was doing the quilting, I gave her my Scrap Therapy bin and told her to pick out 41 darks and 40 lights so I could make another quilt using the same design she had chosen.  I didn't really agree with some of her choices, but when I placed them on the design wall, it looked ok.  The only substitution I made was to make the colors flow correctly in the pattern. (I needed one more of a certain color)
I'll probably do the same diagonal line quilting I did on Kiara's. 

I also layered this quilt I pieced at retreat a couple of years back.  It uses the same basic design as the raffle quilt I created for the guild a few years back.  I had been stuck on what to use as borders for it so it had been waiting and waiting. 

Then one day at a crafts market, I saw these wonderful throws, or whatever they're called, made in India.  I thought it would make a wonderful backing for that quilt if it would fit. 

As you can see, it is almost perfect!  So no borders are needed.  Now I just have to decide how to quilt it.  I may do simple wavy lines just to get it done.  Or I may do feathers.  Depends on how I feel that days.  (The raffle quilt had beautiful feathers on it!)

I've also been doodling.  Kathi shared a book she had read at one of our ArtCGirlz meetings, and challenged us all to try doodling, and then make a composition of our "art".  One of my regular tasks at work is to cut out study aids my boss creates for her students.  I end up with small scraps of card stock, and decided to use them for doodling.  I laid them out and drew a long swirly line across all of them, then mixed them up.  When I have a minute, I grab one and use the line as my starting point.  One day I saw a horse's butt, as you can see.

I'm eagerly awaiting the arrival of true spring.  I already have the urge to go start weeding, but it's way too wet now.  One thing I'm going to have to do early is create edgings on some of the beds.  The weeds creep in over time and don't stop over the winter!  It's very tempting to grab a jug of Roundup and go to town.  But please read as much as you can about the chemicals in this overused pesticide and think about the effects they are having on our health and our planet.  Your one jug may not seem like much compared to the millions of gallons used in our food.  But you can decide to make what small difference you can and spend a little bit more time pulling the weeds.  It's worth it!

I am grateful for:
My boss doesn't take small things too seriously.
My foster kitty is quite recovered from her illness and ready for her forever home.
Birds singing in the mornings, and having the windows open for short periods of time.
Interesting conversations with random people.

Saturday, March 3, 2018

What I did at retreat

 The annual Museum Quilt Guild retreat was held at Asbury Camp and retreat center on Silver Lake last weekend.  As always, it was a wonderful time away from the world where I could sew to my heart's content!

I always bring more than I can possibly do in 4 days, but I did get a few things done!

This is another of the kit of the month projects.  I did the appliqué more than 10 years ago- by hand!  The word Welcome was supposed to be paper pieced, but I traced the letters from the pattern onto wonder under, fused it down and moved on!  I don't think I'll keep this, in spite of the fact that some of the quilting isn't very well done.  I bet someone would still buy it from the silent auction at the show in October.

These two blocks are from a class I took with Sue Nickels quite some time ago.  They have been in the orphan block stash ever since.  I saw an ad in a quilting magazine- I'm not sure what they were selling- where they had used single quilt blocks as wall art.  I had an "aha" moment and decided to do that with these two!  I did straight line quilting with invisible thread, bound them and stuck them to the wall at the retreat center.  I'll probably hang them on the wall at work for spring. 

The blocks for this quilt came from what we called the block bank in my online guild.  We were making comfort quilts for members and decided to keep blocks on hand to make the process a bit faster when a need arose.  The stash became unwieldy, and he decision was made to use up what we have and go back to doing it the old way (call for blocks when we need to.  Waiting longer doesn't make the quilt less special when it arrives.)  So I laid out as many quilts as I could using the signed blocks. When I got to the bottom of the piles, I had only a few signed blocks and these bright blocks (we used the bright ones for happy occasions like milestone birthdays or retirement)  So I laid them out together.  This one will probably be donated to a charity we support for breast cancer patients. Hopefully she won't mind having signatures from ladies she's never met. 

My friend Tracy took the classes with Paula Nadelstern a couple of years ago when she visited our guild. (there's even a picture of Tracy's blocks in the linked post!) When she was cleaning her sewing room, she realized she would never do anything with what she did in class, so she gave them to me.  Using one of the block layouts in Paula's "puzzle Quilts" book, I made this little wall quilt.  I call it T for Tracy.  She thinks it will look nice on her office wall. 

Our Community Service chair brought fabric and instructions for these surgery hats for the Golisano children's hospital.  I mad the hello kitty one.  Quick and easy!
I cut strips and got some of the strip sets made for another project, but it may not see daylight again until next year's retreat.  Back to the UFOs for me. 

I just read this article about the damage the fashion industry causes to our environment.  They do this because there are so many people who run to the store every chance they get to buy the latest fashion.  Then they throw out half of what they HAD to have the year before!  Appalling.  If the people don't change, neither will the industry.  Think before you buy!

I am grateful for:
The annual retreat, which has made February more bearable.
Being there for a friend who really needs someone in her corner.
It's just a cold.
I had snowdrops and crocuses blossoming before the storm on Friday. They're waiting for the snow to melt!
My husband takes pretty good care of me.