Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Year in Review!

I'm a list maker, since I have such a poor memory. In the back of my little daily memo book, I keep a list of the projects I've completed throughout the year. It's nice to have that record to look back on so I can really appreciate how much I do. Most of the time I feel like I must be moving in slow motion, since nothing ever seems to be finished!

At the beginning of the year, I created a list of UFO's to finish this year. Now that I'm sitting here typing, of course I cannot find the original list. My best estimation says there were 8 things on the list, since I found 7 UFO's completed!! I am proud to say I crossed all but one off the list! (the butterfly I was showing a few weeks ago.) I have slowly whittled away at my UFO pile so that the total is now around a dozen! That's down from 30 or so a few years ago. (Of course, that doesn't count the barely begun projects or the PIGS!*)

So, here are my grand totals:
Art quilts projects: 7
Other quilts: 9
Samples for classes/ demos: 4
Quilt Tops: 3
Quilty things JUST FOR FUN: 5 (more than I would have guessed!)
Scrap Therapy projects: 3
Garments (includes several pairs of Boxers): 12
Accessories: 7
Knitted accessories: 10
Socks: 9 pairs!
Gifts (many are small items): 29
Miscellaneous mending and utilitarian items: 4

I did a LOT this year! That makes me smile! Here's to an equally productive new year. (the only change I'd make is more things just for fun rather than for deadlines!)

On the 2011 UFO list so far:
An old BOM
Finishing my "liberated" project
Twirling Logs- from George Siciliano's class
TWO One Block Wonder projects!
I also have to try to finish my challenge for Guild in 16 days, and get a quilt made for Jake's graduation in June.

* PIGS= Projects in Grocery Sacks. :-)
I'd like to thank those of you who have left comments, and mentioned reading/ enjoying my blog! I hope you'll find it worth coming back for next year, too!

I am grateful for:
The luxury of sewing just because I love doing it!
A bright red Cardinal in a frosty tree this morning.
A bright blue sky and sunshine on the rare appearances it makes here!
My ever patient husband.
The universe is taking care of Guy for me!

See you next year!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Four more sleeps!

My Christmas holiday starts tomorrow, since my Guy will be home then! So I thought I'd make a quick post to wish anyone who passes by a very Merry Christmas!
This is my tiny little tree and the presents I have wrapped a this point. I got tired of rearranging the furniture to put up a tree, but now I have to decide which of the ornaments I can fit onto it each year!
Santa is wearing a pair of Guy's old glasses!

Lest you think I have done nothing creative this week, here is a picture of the teeny snowmen I made with a pattern by mochimochiland . I will definitely be making more of these guys, since I have a whole skein of the yarn to use up!
The smaller of the three is made with the same yarn, but instead of size 1 needles, I used my size 0000- which I used for the tiny socks in my earlier post. The thimble is there so you can appreciate how teeny these guys are! Aren't they the cutest?!!!

I am grateful for:
A visit with Guy!!!
No snow for a couple of days.
I got my shopping done four days before the day!
Permission to eat chocolate. :-)
My hip feels MUCH better!

Happy Christmas everyone!!!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

When I grow up.....

I went to see "Quilts = Art = Quilts" yesterday, for the second time. It's an art quilt show. When I grow up, I hope to have something juried into this show. Every time I go, I realize they will send me back a very short note, saying simply, "You're kidding, right?"
I consider myself a non-traditional traditional quilter. I like to use unusual fabrics for traditional quilts. I like to change things here and there to make mine a little different. And I do enjoy seeing a picture in my head become a reality in fabric. But to consider one of my pieces a work of art? Not so much, in spite of what my best friend said after we left the gallery.
This is my very first "art quilt". (sorry for the washed out colors) We used to have a wonderful quilting event called the Big Tree Quilters Conference. I was a new baby quilter when I started attending this show. Every year my favorite part was part of the traveling exhibit from the Hoffman Challenge. I would buy the fabric for the next year, let it inspire me a while, never get the piece finished and then be amazed at how close my idea was to some of the ones in the show! The second to last year of the conference, ( I still miss this event- it could have been one of the premiere shows in the nation by now!) MaryLee and I challenged each other to make something for the next year's show with the newest fabric. Neither of us finished in time to enter, but I did eventually finish this piece. I spent weeks studying a "bromeliad" plant to get the leaves right. I was lucky to find one of those "ombre" fabrics so I could do some shading on them.

I hunted and hunted for fabric to be my rotted log. I hadn't even thought of machine quilting yet, so I did very close "moss" stitching by hand.

I appliqued each leaf of the blossom, but the hummingbird (who is incorrect for a rainforest scene) is only six pieces.

When it was done, as I trimmed the border, the ruler slipped. To fix it. I'd have been cutting into my hand quilting, so I left it "wonky". As a result, it has never been in any displays, except in my home.
I hope I have come a long way since this piece, but this one will always be my favorite because it was the first time I had ever actually made one of my ideas a reality! That feeling is indescribable!
So I have kept trying new things- learning from some wonderfully talented artists and being inspired by others. A few of my favorites from the current year's exhibit are:
Liz Kuny- look for a piece called "A Steady Beat"
Jo-Ann Golenia- Look for "Gifts from the Sea"
Randall Cook- make sure you check out the detail shots in his gallery to see the magnificent thread work!
I've discovered I really like the way they do sort of random piecing then cut it up and piece it again I love the very close lines of stitching in many of the artists use to add color or texture. I also discovered that a book I just bought was written by Pat Durbin, whose piece titled "Beside the Still Waters" took my breath away!
So, someday I may make something good enough to hang beside these in a gallery. Until then, I will be thankful I can be inspired by their talents!

I am grateful for:
Guy will be home in 5 more days!
Less snow at my house.
A day to play with MaryLee ( and giving her a break from grading papers!)
Christmas cookies (moo!)
Finding out I do not have carpal tunnel syndrome!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Felted Lizards!

No, not leapin' Lizards!
Apologies to those who said they went to see what I did this week, since I usually post on Thursday. I got interrupted and never finished this post. It doesn't take much to derail my train of thought!

So, I got a pattern for these lizards - titled Gotta Get a Gecko, by fiber trends - in Seattle a couple of years ago. I had always intended to make a bunch of them, but I made the first one and then went on to other projects. The first one hangs out on the wall of the screen porch. Amy saw it there when they came for Thanks giving and loved it, so I figured that'd be a good Christmas gift for her. I went and got a couple of different yarns to knit up. Here are the "before" lizards- around 22 inches long. ( that's an 18 inch ruler on the table)
As long as I was felting stuff, I decided to knit up a couple of odd pieces and see what I get- that's the fun part of felting! These are the before "bowls".

One of the yarns was a new brand for me, but I figured it would be about the same as the others I had used. Not so much! I went to check on them after 10- 12 minutes in the machine and they were already really tiny! (the green ones). I can't remember that yarn name- I lost the label. The larger one was in the washer for at least 15 more minutes, but never got any smaller. That one is a "Noro" yarn.
This picture is just after they came out of the washer. Look at the difference on the ruler.

To get them shaped the right way, they have to be lightly stuffed before they dry. Here they are with their tails in pin curls. :-) ( if you're old enough to know what pin curls are!)

And here are the finished products. The rust one is for Amy. The others are still up for adoption.

The bowls didn't turn out as I had thought they would. The one is much flatter that I had hoped and the other is just big- Maybe I'll cover a flower pot with it???

So Megan was making origami roses using this video the other day. She was having trouble with it, so I thought I'd try one and see if I could figure it out. How do you think I did?
(It's a two part video, so if you try it, look for part 2 right at the top of the page)

I am grateful for:
Dot is at peace now.
A nice dinner with family and friends- totally by accident!
The way snow makes the world look kind of magical.
A Charlie Brown Christmas
Nice people who try to lift your mood on a bad day.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

What to do with leftover sock yarn?

First, it is now winter here in Western NY. I LOVE this wet snow we get this time of year. It sticks to everything, making it feel like I live in a snow globe. If you can bear to be out in it, the world is so quiet and peaceful. In my own back yard, the birds chirping in the trees and occasional plops of snow falling off the branches are the only sounds. I took this as we drove home from grocery shopping yesterday. (hubby was driving!) I was a little miffed at the weathermen for telling me it wouldn't snow until later in the day, but the beauty of the scenery silenced that.

A friend who knows I knit socks asked me recently what I do with the leftover yarn. So I went through some old pictures to show you just exactly how deep my insanity runs. :-)

It was near the holidays when I was first knitting socks. I had also knitted some mittens, so I figured out how to make them smaller and made ornaments. I made hats, too, but can't find pictures of them.

Then the snowman and bunny needed new hats.

The tiny sock earrings were made using the "Los Lobe Hose" pattern, by Carol's Sockery.

They use size 0000 needles, pictured here with the tiny sweater I made for an even tinier bunny- a pin I picked up at one of the crafts stores.

Then, just to see if I could, I made this tiny mitten. ( just the one!)

There are plenty of ideas out there. I have also done a fish and a snake, but don't have pictures of them. If you have any favorites, please share them!

I am grateful for:
My "knight in shining armor"
My new printer is all hooked up!
Being just outside of the lake effect snow belts
Christmas decoration
Nuthatches at my bird feeder

Friday, November 26, 2010

The "Black Friday" Grinch

I admit it, when I was very little, Christmas was my favorite holiday, because you get presents. As I grew, I came to see how much better Thanksgiving is. It's a "no pressure" holiday. A simple day to gather with those you love and think of all you have to be thankful for.
I had a nice quiet Thanksgiving. We are a small family, so I always feel a bit lonely, in fact, at how quiet my Thanksgiving is.
When I was a little girl, Thanksgiving was so wonderful- the perfect Norman Rockwell holiday. We'd go to my Grandmother's house and maybe be the first to arrive, but more often than not, my uncle and his family would already be there. That meant a happy reunion with my "first boyfriend", my cousin Craig! By the end of the day, my aunt and great aunt would arrive and the house would be full. We ate and played games around the big dining room table I now have in my own home. Sometimes other family would come for the day. Others we went to my great grandmother's house to meet up with more uncles and distant cousins. It's a time for families to gather, for connections to be made, for old arguments to resurface and then be forgotten again. And the food, Thanksgiving is all about the food!
But no more. Now Thanksgiving is just "the buffet in between" (as Loudon Wainright III said) Halloween and Christmas. A day to plan your attack for the "Black Friday" shopping. I imagine there are even those who don't do the big meal until the weekend so they have Thursday free to shop the very early sales, or to get much needed rest before heading out to be first inline at 4 AM. I hate Black Friday. If I were a Grinch who could steal a day, it would be this one.
The retail industry has made greed and avarice acceptable, even- for some people- fun! I don't hold it against anyone who is really in need of something and wants to get the best deal. We all do that. But they have preyed on the fact that we are all "obligated" to spend this time of year. They all want to be the first to get their numbers in the black. (I blame Walmart, of course, since all the other retailers follow them now) It makes me sad and not a little bit angry.
I have felt for several years like Christmas is a bomb that gets dropped on us every year. I don't want to be a part of this madness. The funny part is when I say something like this, many people agree with me. So why not opt out of it? If a few do it, it doesn't make a difference. If a LOT of us do it, maybe we can reclaim Thanksgiving AND Christmas- which is after all a season of giving; a season of joy for all who believe the world was changed for the better on this day 2000 years ago.
I'll be giving my usual gift of a plate of home made cookies to most of the people around me. It's a simple gesture to show I have thought of them this season. Sadly, most people who I give a few cookies to feel obliged to go buy me something.

I am grateful for:
Hot turkey sandwiches the day after Thanksgiving!
My new computer
I live in a place where I can rant all I want to
The men and women who cannot be with their families at this time of year to protect my freedoms
My favorite men- Al, Guy and Lucas

Apologies to any who feel personally attacked. It was not my intent to single anyone out, and my ire is directed at the stores, not you!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Just because!

I haven't had much time to sew this week. So I thought I'd stick a pretty picture at the top just to inspire. This was taken in October on the day we set up the quilt show.

Last weekend, we had an early Thanksgiving with my stepson and his family. We have missed out on holidays with them over the years because they have too many families to try and squeeze in. But we managed to find a day we could work with this year. It was a really GREAT day- and well worth all the work I had to do! (and all the sewing I couldn't do :-) I was a dunderhead, though, and didn't take any pictures to share. Must be old age!
Monday I had another Dr appt. Just a check up and another look at my hip ( bursitis) and wrist ( not sure yet- more testing to come) When I got back home, it was nice enough outside to get the lights on the tree out front. We won't light them until the first of December, but it's nice to get them up when it's 60 instead of 30!

Back inside I decided I didn't want to get involved in anything big in the sewing room, so I pulled an old project off the wall. I took a class with Betty Alderman a few years ago, because I wanted to make this project. ( I'd had the pattern for a while!) Betty used to have her own website, but it's not there anymore. I think you can still find small pictures of her patterns, though. This one is called "Butterfly Bright."

I stopped at the point where the pattern said outline all the applique shapes with buttonhole stitch or a zigzag, since that takes time and I wanted to get something else done. But for right now I am happy to have a project where I can focus on that needle and the shape in front of me and think of nothing for a while. That's the therapeutic part of sewing for me!

I have been pondering how to quilt the "Candy Kisses" quilt, and found this design in a book I was leafing through. A GREAT way to audition quilting designs is with a sheet of clear acetate or vinyl and dry erase markers. Just be very careful, since the ink doesn't erase from fabric!

I think it needs something else, so I doodled some fillers in the open spaces.

I'm leaning toward this one (the lower one)
Kay thinks it needs swirly black quilting in the border, so we'll see what it looks like when I get to that. ( I never plan that far ahead)

I am grateful for:
Family gatherings!
Glazed ham, candied sweet potatoes and dutch apple pie!
The warm days we just had, and reading on the porch one more time.
A day to let myself not feel so good (and feeling better today!)
The new Harry Potter movie comes out tomorrow!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Time to Play!

Last week, I decided to push all the "have to dos" off the sewing table and play! I had been wanting to try out the techniques in Kathy Schmidt's book, _Rule Breaking Quilts_. It's a bit like the "liberated" method I tried last spring, which was a lot of fun. So, using the first pattern in the book, which I believe was called "Jaywalking", I pieced this collection of stuff to play with.

After "weegeeing"(Jane Sassaman's word) it around a bit, I decided to make a couple of changes, and add some other stuff.

I had sort of decided what shape I wanted it to be and this looked like enough to get me started. Using only the same fabrics I had cut up for my pieced sections, I started filling in the blanks. I have learned that I stink at figuring out how big things need to be to fit other things. You'd thing it was basic quiltmaking. But for some reason, I kept coming up short! From now on I plan to make them big and just cut them down if at all possible!

Anyway, this process is a blast and I am pleased with the top. Now "all I need to do" is figure out how to quilt it!

The fabric with the circular pattern, which was almost too hard to cut, and the blue were gifts from a friend. She said I should make something fun with it.

I also put the scrap sack I had partially assembled as a teaching sample together. I had fun with the quilting as well as laying out the blocks on this one.
The pocket is on the front of the bag.

All this needs is a proper home. ( I bet you wish you were on my Christmas list!)

I am grateful for:
The great luxury of being able to work part time.
The friends who challenge me to try new things.
Cream of Broccoli soup.
Family dinners.
Cozy cold weather clothes.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

The Best Laid Plans

Well, SHOOT! I had planned a nice long post full of pictures, telling the evolution in my quilting life during the three years it has taken me to get this piece to a point I can call "finished". ( I may be adding some borders to it, so I'm not sure it really is finished) However, I cannot locate the pictures I took during the design phase of the project. So that will be a story for another day, I guess.
I call this piece "Princess Argiope". It was inspired by Jane Sassaman, a real spider called argiope aurentia, and a book, called "Exotic Alphabets and Ornament," by William Rowe. (One of those wonderful Dover publications!!!)
I apologize to those of you who get the willies from spiders. That is part of the story I can tell without the pictures. I was the little girl who ran from a room yelling spider and then refused to return until I knew the thing was dead. My Grampa probably tried to get me to realize they were actually "Nice", but I wasn't having it until I became a mom. I was not going to teach my boys to be afraid of "spiders and snakes" so together we read about and watched spiders and I learned to appreciate them. The spider who inspired this piece lived in one of my flower beds in the summer of 2006.
I have let this project sit for great lengths of time while I debated how to do things and learned new skills to be able to do what I wanted to with it. It has pushed me to become a better quilter and hopefully a better artist! I am happy to have something to show for my time, even if I do feel that I'd like to start all over and do it right now that I know how!
The other project I'm showing this week is called the Posey Tote, by This and That designs. I used Scrap Therapy squares to make the bag, and fabric from my stash for the handles and lining! (A fellow Guild member calls that free project!)
Scrap Therapy itself is undergoing some changes, so I have been finally doing some of the other things I had found that work with all those squares I have cut up.

We're supposed to have snow tomorrow, so I'm guessing I'll be able to sew this weekend, too!

I am grateful for:
The mockingbirds still singing in my back yard.
Cookies fresh from the oven.
An extra hour of sleep this weekend.
A sunrise that is so fabulous you have to stop for a minute to appreciate it!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Getting back in the groove!!!

So, where was I when I last wrote? I think on the 6th round of my block from the class, right? I'm happy to report I finished that block. I may even have been getting better at this technique by the end. Now I only have to make 3 more of these to complete the project. (there are 121 pieces in each block)

As shown on the website, the completed piece has different colors in the center of the design.

I liked that, so I chose some interesting stuff to go in that spot. I got the block done and looked at it in my mirrors to see a preview of the quilt.

HMMMM, maybe I'd like it better with all the same fabrics as shown on the pattern cover? I turned the mirrors and decided I did like that better. So I took off those last two pieces and replaced them.

I'd place links here, but everything at the website has the same link. For the class project, look for "Twirling Logs" on the George's classes page. For the pattern, look for "Cosmos" on the patterns page.

Meanwhile, I still have to get things ready for the scrap quilt classes I'll be teaching after the first of the year. (Did I mention we'll be doing our own thing, in addition to continuing to carry the Scrap Therapy patterns?)

This is the first one I have adapted to the squares I already have cut. I saw this quilt at the "In the Beginning" fabric website and thought it would be perfect for my squares! Now that it's pieced I'm not so sure I love the black squares with my fabrics. I think it will be named "Candy Kisses". (anyone have a better suggestion?)
Notice all the pincushions made by the "pocket people"! Aren't they wonderful?

We have at least one more football game to attend before Jake's season is over. Then I look forward to long sewing weekends every week for a while. Maybe, just maybe I'll be able to finish the things on my 2010 UFO list before 2011 arrives????

I am grateful for:
Getting things done.
A bonus warm day with the windows open in the house.
80's music (it's silly, but I love it).
Playing with my fabric, even when I don't love the result.
An unscheduled week.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

The show was a blast- thank goodness it's over!

Last week was the Museum Quilt Guild's biennial "Stitches in Time" quilt show. Anyone who has ever been part of a quilt show can agree with the title of this post! It was four very long days of hard work, fun and fellowship with guild members and other quilts and shopping- of course there was shopping. I would never give it up, but I was TIRED at the end!
I put up pictures, and captioned as many as I could here. (It's snapfish again, so I hope you saved your password from the last time). I didn't get pictures of my own quilts, except in group shots. But you've seen them all before anyway, right?

I was happy- and VERY surprised to win an award for my machine quilting - of all things- on two of my pieces. One is this piece I made for the "Thirty something and a Pearl" challenge, titled I (heart) Pansies. I struggled so with machine quilting when I first started to do it, that it is a wonderful feeling to be recognized for it now!

I was also very happy for my BFF MaryLee, who won awards for the BFF quilts she made- here you can see them side by side.

The high point of the show was the chance to meet and spend time learning from George and Virginia Siciliano, here shown holding the block we were making in class. I can't believe I didn't take a better picture of it, but you can see the project at George's website. Look for "Twirling Logs" on the page for George's classes. (there isn't a separate link for the workshops)

The first picture is the progress I made in class- about 4 hours. The other one is where it is as of today. Needless to say it will be a while before I have the project finished.

I am grateful for:
Warm Fall days to finish up outside.
A patient man who tries to understand.
A nice long talk with Guy.
The luxury of spending whole days at the sewing machine.
teamwork and cooperation.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Not so dreary after all, and sock making

So, it rained almost every day since I last posted. One day I was singing the rain rain rain fell down down down ( from Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day). But after three straight days of grey, cold, dreary, rain I was starting to feel kind of grey myself! It was a treat the other day that the rain let up long enough for me to go out and get the mail. I discovered there is beauty on a dreary day, if you go looking for it!

The nasturtium leaves look like someone played with a bedazzler!

Remember all the Lady's Mantle in my garden? The dead blossoms have turned to jewels in the rain!

And look at this spider's web!!! Just like the ones fairies from Fantasia decorated, right?

OK, I did the second sock of a pair ( sort of) from Cat Bordhi's book Personal Footprints.
Here are the steps ( no pun intended.) Note: This is not intended to be a pattern. If you want the details, they are in the book.

Cast on 6 stitches and divide between your needles ( I use 2 circulars for socks)

Increase until your sock fits your toe

That's MY "personal footprint" in my sock, to see if it's time to increase yet.
I went a few rows past the "lifelines" to show you how your sock looks with them inserted. You will open this up to make the leg later.

Decrease for the heel, but do not close the end yet. Place the stitches on some string for now.

Cut the stitches in the row between the lifelines. ( Hubby had to help as this was a three hand operation to get the picture)

Open up the leg by carefully unraveling the stitches in that middle row.

Reinsert the needles into the stitches with the lifelines in them. Remove the lifelines.

Join yarn and begin knitting the leg.

When you finish the leg, make sure the heel fits, then reinsert the needles. Close the heel with a three needle bind off.

This sock is actually a different pattern than the first. I figured since it was an experiment, I'd try more than one leg pattern! I'm not sure why they aren't the same length. (oops!)

I am grateful for:
Brief periods of sunshine to refresh my spirit!
A productive time in the garden. ( of course I won't know how productive until next June!)
Hubby and son having some bonding time.
A few days to relax before the quilt show.
I found some late season zucchini for bread!