Monday, December 31, 2007

The Final Bead Round Robin Block

I mentioned that I had received the last two blocks from the Bead Round Robin shortly before Christmas. The first one is back with its' owner now. I added some buttons and beads to it but neglected to get pictures before sending it off. I've done better with the second one! Here it is as I received it:

And this is how it looks now:

I have to admit that I had a lot of fun shopping for beads for this one. I bought pink coral pieces, blue glass diamonds that glow in the dark, some pink flower beads I didn't use and purple flowers I did use. There were two other tubes of purple beads I ended up not using but that's okay, I'll use them eventually. I wanted to put a mermaid on the block, maybe to fill the empty space right in the middle, but I was afraid to try a big motif. When I saw that mermaid charm I had to have it!

The mossing of the beads to create a grotto for the mermaid's swing to hang from didn't develop quite the way I had imagined it would but I'm happy with the results. A couple of pieces of the coral broke while I was working with it. Some of the holes were too small for the straw needle I was using.

I turned the blue gow-in-the-dark beads into the bodies of a pair of fish:

Give me the opportunity to be whimsical and I'm good to go! I could easily do more to this block but I'm going to send it on its' way so the owner can finish it up in a way that suits her.


The clouds (and rain) have lifted for the time being. Without that blanket covering us it suddenly got cold outside!

I want to thank those of you who left your thoughts about time/project management. And if anyone else wants to put in their two cents worth I'm still open to suggestions. I just get frustrated that there's so much I want to do and it seems to take so long to get any one thing done. (I've always been an impatient soul!)

I can't remember a time when I didn't have more than one project in the works. Well... maybe in the very beginning, back when I was a pre-teen! Nowadays, however, I'm trying to finish quilts I started many years ago and at the same time I'm exploring new territory with beads and improvisational piecing. My UFO pile has been weeded out over the course of 2007; it's smaller than it has ever been. The quilts/tops that remain are the ones I really do want to have as completed quilts. Maybe this is the year I focus less on finishing old pieces and more on the new work. (Whoa, that looks suspiciously like a New Year's resolution!) I will definitely continue with the Bead Joural Project until its' completion in the middle of 2008. I have committed to the Take It Further challenge for the year. Because of my experience with the BJP I'm thinking very seriously of doing small, postcard-size pieces for the TIF challenge. The essence of the challenge is to develop an idea or color scheme into a "resolved design." Smaller can be harder to do; maybe I'll work at making them simple as well as small. There's more pondering to do on this whole topic, more goals or guidelines to establish for the coming year.

I have come home from DD's with a cold. Actually, I think little Miss M gave it to me for Christmas when they were here. Oh well. At least she's a cute petrie dish!

Happy New Year Everyone!

Friday, December 28, 2007

A Quiet Day at Home

Another block, another quickie post. Thank goodness we are not snowed in like the homes in this block!

My sister was here for about 24 hours. We talked and shopped for all we were worth! I was pleasantly surprised at how well I held up during our shopping expedition. Even better, I hit the jackpot in terms of purchases. Two pairs of slippers, a new purse, two calendars, a postcard book of rainforest images (if you can buy or borrow the book the pictures were taken from do it!), and a tin heart from Mexico that I intend to use as a focal point on a wall or journal quilt. Seems like there might have been something else as well but it escapes me at the moment. Today I am tired but feeling well. Tomorrow I go to my daughter's to tend the babies while she runs errands.

We had a lovely Christmas. DD had to drag little Miss M out of bed to see what Santa had brought for her. The adults were more excited than she was! She quickly got into the swing of things though :- ) I didn't even turn the computer on for a couple of days so I don't have any pictures downloaded yet to share with you.

I have done a little stitching during the course of the week. First I put some beads and buttons on a Bead Round Robin block that is now on its' way home. Then I started embellishing my December journal quilt. I have beads picked out for my October/November journal quilt and a second Round Robin block that I get to work on. I'm a little worried that I won't be able to get a good picture of the Round Robin block. There's some gorgeous embroidery on it but I'm afraid it won't show up well. We'll see.

Over the course of the next few days I hope to spend some time thinking about my goals for the coming year. Mostly in the area of my creative endeavors. I have to find a way to "just say no" to all of the enticing opportunities I find on the web! I think I'm already over-committed as it is. At the same time, however, those rainforest images are calling to me. I want to use them as a jumping off point for new work. How do you cope with all the ideas you have vs. the time/energy you have available?

Monday, December 24, 2007

Hole in the Barn Door

We're still waiting for Santa's visit here and that gives me the opportunity to share one more block with you...

Hope everyone has/had a peaceful and satisfying Christmas Day.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Wear A Raincoat Santa!

So, the closer we get to Christmas the wetter it gets around here. Typical. Santa needs to don his waterproof poncho before heading over the Pacific Northwest! (This block is "Waterwheel" by the way.)

I figured I'd better take a couple of minutes to do a post before these two arrive 'cause I'll be busy doing other things once they get here!

The fun thing is that I happen to have a Christmas stocking that Baby Susan can use this year. One of her aunts has been making stockings for every new member of the family as they are added in. This year she finds herself very pregnant, due a few weeks after the holidays, and has taken a pass. Understandable! My mother was a knitter and made a Christmas stocking for each of her four children. Mine was the first, done in real wool. Some time ago we noticed that it had been chewed on by a moth or two. By that time she was knitting stockings - from the same pattern - for her sons-in-law and grandchildren so she replaced my wool stocking with one made of acrylic yarns. Obviously I kept the original stocking, and now I'm glad I did! (The wool stocking is the one on the left.)

The pillow was a gift from the quilt guild gift exchange a couple of years ago. It's hand embroidered with all sorts of seasonal words and images. I love it!

And, just to make it official, here's our tree:

Merry Christmas Everyone!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

A Few of My Favorite Things

Okay, it's been a while since I last posted. What can I say? I've been sewing and shopping and playing with grandchildren and recovering. I've also been lazy. Our tree is up and decorated and many of our seasonal ornaments are on display but I have not photographed them. You are going to have to be satisfied with a couple more blocks from my Someday Christmas Quilt and a holiday meme.

Erin was recently tagged to do a 5 Random Things Meme. She left the tag open for anyone who wanted to play. I decided to take her up on the offer with a slight variation: mine will be 5 of My Favorite Things During the Holidays:

1. My favorite Christmas CD is Christmastime by Ricky Tims. I fell in love with it when I was working in the gift shop of the La Conner Quilt Museum; I played it all the time! Finally I had to just break down and buy a copy for myself ;- )

2. My favorite holiday movies are "A Boyfriend for Christmas" and "Borrowed Hearts." Confession time: one of my favorite things about this time of year is all the hokey, cheesy, wholesome made-for-TV movies. My television is almost always turned on to either the Hallmark channel or Lifetime these days. I'm a sucker for a happy ending. On the other hand, I can't bear to watch the animated holiday movies of the 1960's anymore, even in the name of nostalgia.

3. My favorite holiday treat: Teuscher's champagne truffles. DH and I used to share a couple of these on New Year's Eve to celebrate the anniversary of our engagement. Now that we know about my allergies to butter and cream we've had to substitute other treats. None of them are worth mentioning in the same paragraph with Teuscher's truffles. (Can you see my lower lip sticking out from where you are?)

4. My favorite gift to receive: books. In the past I especially loved to get quilt or art books with lots of color pictures. Now I content myself with works of fiction (or fabric or beads!). I also love to give books!

5. My favorite dish from Christmas dinner: my mother's frozen cranberry salad. I'm sure she got this recipe from some magazine, cookbook, or ingredient package in the 1950's. I can't eat it anymore either, but I thought I'd share it with those of you who can:

1 can whole cranberry sauce
2 teaspoons lemon juice
one 3 ounce package cream cheese
1/4 cup confectioner's sugar
1/4 cup Miracle Whip
1 pint whipping cream, whipped OR one package Dream Whip, prepared per the directions
(Is that stuff even available anymore? I used an 8 ounce tub of Cool Whip the last time I made this.)
candied cherries*

*Mom just eyeballed these ingredients. I have no measurements for you. The nuts were probably chopped walnuts or pecans. The candied cherries were sliced or chopped.

In a bowl, blend the lemon juice with the cranberry sauce, mashing the berries slightly if necessary.

Line the bottom of a mold with the cranberry sauce mixture.

With an electric mixer (remember the Sunbeam Mixmaster?) cream the cream cheese with the Miracle Whip and confectioner's sugar until smooth.

Whip the whipping cream if you have chosen that route. Fold the whipped cream or Cool Whip into the cream cheese mixture; fold in the nuts and cherries.

Spread the whip cream/cream cheese mixture on top of the cranberry sauce in the mold and freeze.

This makes a very colorful presentation when unmolded. The bottom is white and the top is red. Of course you can garnish it anyway you like, and some of you will undoubtedly be much more creative than we ever were! I loved the texture of the foamy white layer and the coolness of the cranberry layer. :- )

And just in case I haven't whetted your sweet tooth enough:

P.S. If anyone wants to take this meme and use it on your own blog feel free to do so. Leave me a comment so I can come and see what your favorites are!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

It's Time to Make a List

Santa's reindeer are getting ready...

And so are we. Here's the finished tote bag for my aunt. If I were to do it again I think I'd make the pocket taller. But not by much.

We finally went out and bought a tree last night. Being so fragrance deprived most of the time, the scent of pine is almost overwhelming! DH and The Boy (DS#2) will probably string the lights when DH gets home from church. DD and the granddaughters may be over this evening; we might wait until then to put the ornaments on so they can participate. Or not!

I'm getting a little panicky about the last minute details. Do I have gifts for everyone? Do I have enough stocking stuffers? I've still got to get someone to print out the little note I want to include in our Christmas cards so they can be mailed soon. It's very hard to have to wait on others to take care of things I used to be able to do myself.

And then there are the non-Christmas projects... I still have my Oct/Nov. journal page to embellish. I know what I want to do for December's page but haven't pieced it yet. I have to embellish a tote bag for a challenge due in mid-January. I may have two more blocks to work on for the Bead Round Robin. (They arrived in the mail yesterday; I'm waiting to find out whether the owners want me to take the time to work on them or whether they just want them back.) I committed to participating in Sharon B's Take It Further challenge which begins in January. Eeek! How did this happen?! See how much trouble you can get into even when you're stuck at home?! This doesn't even account for the ideas for projects I have floating around in my head. There are so many things I want to try and to make! No fair!

"Santa, I've changed my mind. I no longer want the complete inventory of my favorite Local Quilt Shop for Christmas. I want to be able to work faster, manifest my ideas more quickly and efficiently. Is it too late to make that change to my wish list?"

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Early Delivery From One of Santa's Helpers

So the guild Christmas party was on Tuesday and now I can show you what I made for the gift exchange:

This pillow was really fun to make. It's a combination of a couple of really old prints and the new ones I bought recently. To make it even more fun I used rickrack to create jingle bell "tassels" for the four corners. I may even make one of these for our house!

My friend C~ brought over the gift I received in the exchange:

They're all things I'll use: The box of snowpeople notecards has two different designs in it (and they're very cute!), the notepad is magnetic and is the size I normally use for my shopping lists, and the little potholder is to protect fingers from hot dishes coming out of the microwave oven.

Apparently there was a big turnout for the party so it's probably a good thing I decided not to go. The hostess was the one who ended up with my pillow; that pleases me. I know she'll enjoy it. She has grandchildren who will have fun playing with it too!

C~ also loaned me her copy of the PBS video "The Art of Quilting." I may have to invest in a copy of my own! One of my favorite quilt artists of all time is the first quilter featured: Jane Burch Cochran. As she talked about her quilts and the way she works I felt like she and I could be kindred spirits. The segment about Laura Wasilowski and the Chicago School of Fusing is a hoot. I had no idea the CSoF was so well developed! They even have a school song and everything! When I first heard about this production I was a little afraid it would be all about all the artsy-phartsy art quilters whose work is impressive but not necessarily inspiring for me. Needless to say, I was pleasantly surprised.

One more note: I'm on's email list. They sent me a notice of their "Just Be-claus" sale. There are some totally cute flannels on sale for a little more than $3.00 a yard. There are other fabrics on sale as well (they carry a full range of fabric types and sewing notions). I have no affiliation with them, etc., just wanted to pass along the good news.

The Darling Granddaughters were over here yesterday afternoon. As delightful as they are, they wore me out! At least that's my excuse for not doing any of the things I'm supposed to be doing and I'm stickin' to it ;- )

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

One More Gift...

This is a 14" x 18" blank tote bag from Dharma Trading Company. I have three of them. One is for a challenge we're doing in my fiber art group. I bought two extra with the idea of making them into gifts. Yesterday I cut fabric and pieced ten 3" Broken Dishes blocks to make a band for the top of one of the bags:

I'm very happy with the way it turned out. Now my plan is to make a big pocket to sort of flesh out the side of the bag. I'll use the same fabrics I used in the band, and maybe even some giant red rickrack to edge the pocket!

Today's block is my Christmas version of the Twin Star. I should probably mention that I'm taking these blocks from a top that is waiting for final borders. Eventually I will show you the whole top (still without borders in all likelihood), but for now I thought it would be fun to highlight one block per post.

Hope you're warm and dry today!

Sunday, December 9, 2007


This is what I woke up to this morning. It was still coming down then too. Now, a few hours later, it's all gone. Well, except for the layer on top of the ice in the birdbath (poor birds). It was pretty while it lasted, and it sure put me in the mood to decorate the Christmas tree. Too bad we still don't have one. We bequeathed our ancient plastic tree to DD a few years ago and have been getting cut trees ever since. Which is what I grew up with and prefer actually.

All of our holiday decorations are still in their trunk out in the garage too. I can't go get them because the garage is currently full of toxic fumes from the printer. DH has been printing out some of the photographs he took yesterday. At least the living room is back in order after the chaos of the photo shoot. DD had three sets of pictures she wanted to try to get; we were lucky to get one! Miss Margaret does NOT like to have her picture taken. You'll have to take my word for it that she and her sister looked adorable in their Christmas dresses because those were the pictures we did not get. When DH gets done fiddling with the images maybe I can post a couple of the shots we did get here. In the meantime, here's Miss M playing peek-a-boo with me last week:

Those of you who cruise the quilting and crafty blogs may have seen the Pay It Forward challenges going around. I was too slow to get in on a couple of them, and had concerns about being able to fulfill the obliagation if I did commit to participating. But yesterday I saw that BeadBabe over at Beading at the Beach is playing. I signed up quickly so I could get one of her beaded face pins! Now it's my turn to offer the challenge. Essentially I'm offering something I've made with my very own two hands to the first three people to sign up. When you sign up, however, you have to commit to "pay it forward" by doing the same for three other people. The first time I saw this challenge on someone's blog they stipulated that they had a year to fulfill their obligation to make and send three gifts. I'm adding that caveat to my offer as well ;- ) At this point I haven't decided precisely what I will make for my recipients. (Some bloggers have been specific, others have left it open-ended.) I am mulling over the possibilities... Stay tuned for further developments! If you sign up today by leaving a comment I may even consider taking special requests!

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Card Trick

As I sit down to write this it's about five in the morning. It's unusual for me to be up at this hour. For whatever reason, I woke up at 3:30 and haven't been able to get back to sleep. I'll surely need a nap later today!

When the after-effects of the exposure finally wore off yesterday I was able to finish those Christmas stocking ornaments I showed you a few days ago (last week?). I'm pretty happy with the way they turned out:

DD and her daughters are scheduled to come over today for a Christmas photo shoot. DH will transform the living room into a photography studio, probably using the sheet off our bed as a backdrop. It would be nice to have a decorated tree in the background but we don't have ours yet. Depending on how the photo shoot goes maybe we'll go out and get one afterward and DD and the girls can help us decorate it. Oh wait, I forgot. By then I'll be needing that nap!

I believe I only have one Christmas gift left to make for extended family members. This one was optional but I think I'm going to go ahead and give it a try. It will be sort of a practice run for a challenge I'm participating in with fiber artist friends in the area. The challenge involves embellishing a pre-constructed tote bag. This gift will be another of those tote bags, embellished for my aunt instead of with the challenge fabric and requirements. We'll see how it goes.

Speaking of challenges, I've committed to participating in Sharon B's "Take It Further" monthly challenge for 2008. Essentially, Sharon will post a key concept on the first of each month and the challenge will be to take the idea, develop it, and push it towards a resolved design during the month. To quote Sharon, "The actual thing you design can be any thing you like in any medium or format you choose. It can be a crazy quilt block, a postcard, a journal quilt, a piece of embroidery, a sampler, a fabric book page or whatever sparks your imagination. It can also be visual journal work. In other words pages spreads of designs worked in a visual journal will be seen as a valid entry and included as one of the formats acceptable for the challenge." I don't have a clue at this point what format I will use. I probably won't be able to make that decision until I see what the first challenge actually is. If you're intrigued by this or just want more details, click on the link above to be taken directly to the page where she introduces the challenge.

Thursday, December 6, 2007


The flood waters are receeding, leaving amazing destruction in their wake. The most impressive image I've seen is of a bridge, normally used to convey vehicles over a river, with a load of tree trunks dumped on top of it like so much firewood. At least the freeway between Seattle and Portland appears undamaged and will soon re-open.

I've chosen this Seesaw block to share with you today because I feel like I'm on my own personal seesaw. I finished my gift for the quilt guild's holiday party yesterday and it turned out very cute! (Up!) Then this morning I found out that the home where the party is being held will not be as safe for me as we originally thought. I've made the difficult and unhappy decision not to go. One of my friends and fellow guild member will take my gift for the exchange but I won't get to bask in the fellowship I was looking forward to. (Down.)

I'm also suffering the after-effects of being exposed to fragrance this morning when someone visited the house. There have been the physiological reactions, but there's depression too. That's almost the worst reaction. In the midst of it, it feels like it will never end. I am physically capable of sewing but have no desire to do so. That scares me. At least my brain seems to be functioning this time around.

To make things (seem) worse, I've called around and searched online to see whether I could get more of two fabrics I've been using lately and have fallen in love with. No luck. Nobody seems to have them in stock anymore. In fact, I can't find evidence that they ever existed! I don't remember when or where I bought them but I guess that's a moot point now.

Guess I'll just have to make something for myself that uses these fabrics so I can keep them around and enjoy them every year! :- )

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Our Feet Are Still Dry

If you live in the US and watch the news at all you are probably aware of the storm that has done so much damage here in the Pacific Northwest. I'm happy to report that we have escaped the brunt of the storm. We live very close to a major river. It crested this afternoon, well below flood stage. What amazes me is that a 20 mile stretch of I-5 had to be closed. At one point I understand it was under 10 feet of water! This is a crucial piece of road that runs between Olympia, Washington and Portland, Oregon. Of course all of the lesser roads are also flooded and no one can get anywhere. Whole communities are stranded and isolated. These rural communities have no power, will not have power restored for up to 8 days, and they're running out of fuel for their generators. They can't get out, fuel can't get in, and the temperatures are dropping again. And then there will be the clean up. Houses have been filled to their roof lines with muddy water. I feel so bad for these folks. I am more committed than ever to using the things I love so that I can enjoy them while I have them. We never know when our lives are going to be turned upside down or our cherished possessions taken away from us in one way or another.

On a happier note, I did engage in some retail therapy yesterday. Went out to babysit for DD. On the way out I stopped in one shop and on the way home I stopped in another. Between the two I collected a palette of fabrics for a less-than-traditional holiday quilt:

(The yellow print is little bananas!)

Whether this quilt gets made this year or not remains to be seen. I'm very tempted to join Tonya's Winter Class and at least get it started for next year's holiday season. I'm just not sure where to start...

Sunday, December 2, 2007

It's Starting to Look Like Christmas...

I can't believe it's been so long since I last posted! I guess it's because I was busy working on one last mystery gift. The one that's not like the others. It's done now, and gift wrapped. All we have to do is find a shipping box to accomodate it. And then take it to the post office, etc.

When I finished these gifts for far-flung family members I got down my box of Christmas UFO's. Turns out there's more yardage for backs of Christmas quilts than actual projects! (Of course I didn't think to photograph any of the contents of the box - duh.) I did find a few orphan blocks that I then tried to make into placemats for DD and family. Only succeeded in making one:

Not quite sure what, if anything, I will do with the remaining Christmas orphans. May have to wait until there are more to work with. There are a couple of block collections still in the box. One is from a swap I did with members of my church. The other group are blocks I think I won in a block lottery at my local guild. I knew I didn't have time to play with them so I didn't even look at them when I had the box down.

What I did find and leave out to play with were some abandoned crazy pieced ornaments. There was a tree, a completed stocking that had no means of being hung (I probably forgot to insert the ribbon when I was assembling the ornament, got disgusted with myself and put the whole project away at that point!), and another stocking with just the front pieced. I cut some additional batting and pieced a few more just for the heck of it:

These are still raw mind you. They will be backed with a solid piece of fabric - with a ribbon loop for hanging! - and be smaller when finished.

My dilemma today is what to make for our guild's annual gift exchange. Our Christmas party is held at the home of one of the members so it's a safer environment for me than the church where regular meetings are held. We can either make or buy something for the gift exchange but you know that amongst quilters a handmade gift is generally preferred! Unless it's an especially luscious bundle of fat quarters... Maybe I'll do my part for the local economy and visit the quilt shop tomorrow. I do have some options I'm considering that I could complete before the party next week. Guess I'm just feeling the need of a little retail therapy ;- )

Tuesday, November 27, 2007


DS#2 and I ventured into one of our larger thrift shops yesterday. I'm paying for it now but it was worth it. I bought a bag of neckties for $2.50, which is 50% off the regular price for a bag of ties. In the past when I've purchased bags like this I would end up keeping maybe half of the ties in the bag and throwing away or re-donating the leftovers. I've even been stuck with weird things like suspenders. Consequently I'm very reluctant to pay full price for such pot luck. Yesterday, however, I hit the motherlode:

There were 21 ties in the bag. Nineteen of them were silk! I'm tempted to keep the two polyester ties and try to use them because they have such unique prints on them. There are a couple of ties that are so beautiful I'm a little surprised that they didn't sell out on the floor. Maybe they're just be too wide for current taste. Okay by me! I'm delighted to have the opportunity to turn them into something else. Normally I pay anywhere from a dollar t0 $3.00 for one tie so you can see why I'm so excited by this find. :- )

I have also photographed my Bead Round Robin block. I left if full size so you should be able to click on the picture and see it really close up. I also tried a couple of detail shots. (They've been rescaled so clicking on the picture won't do you any good.)

I have a bunch of wet ties to press dry so I'm not going to take the time to check my notes to see exactly who did what on my block but check out this tree! The trunk and ground are embroidered in what looks to me like a perle cotton. The treetop is all seed beads. Awesome!

On the left there's an embroidered blackberry vine with little beaded blackberries. Very cool and very appropriate as blackberries are indigenous to this area. I love the little embroidered "flight line" for the butterfly button! The area to the right of the sunflower is all beaded too.

My detail shot didn't do the upper right corner of the block justice. There's a great sisha mirror that was applied with a varigated thread and embellished with beads. And a ribbon that was appliqued and then beaded. My original idea was to make this the side panel of a tote bag but now I'm thinking I may have to turn it into a wall hanging or something!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

The Bag is Full

My brother gave me a replica of a Boston Public Library delivery bag for Christmas last year.

(I think it might be time for a new ironing board cover...)

Back in the day they used these bags to transfer books from one branch of the library to another - one in each hand, to balance the load. This bag is 22" deep. I can't imagine hefting two of these suckers full of books and carrying them anywhere! It is, however, kind of fun for corraling toddlers:

It's also useful for stashing mysterious Christmas gifts in until they are ready to be shipped to far-flung relatives. There are four of those mysterious gifts in the bag, all done and ready for gift wrapping. They have turned out so well; I couldn't be more pleased with them. (Well, maybe just a tiny bit. But not enough to mention.) Now I'm working on gift #5, which will be something completely different.

During the course of making the mysterious gifts I had to run out twice for thread because I didn't have the right color in my stash. Who'd a thunk it? Granted, I have more fabric than thread, but still!

This seems a good time to introduce you to my Thread Keeper. My cotton and poly-cotton blend threads are kept in a rolling cart with drawers. They are generally well behaved and require no special pampering. To keep my rayon and metallic threads happy and cooperative I have enlisted the aid of an Official Thread Keeper. He sits on top of the tins wherein the specialty threads are kept:

Actually, the Cadbury tin holds all the little labels I've taken off silk ties over the years. Say it with me now: "Someday I'm going to do something with them." The Thread Keeper is just one of the little helpers that keep me company as I sew. I also have a herd of dogs nearby, overseen by a little red bird pincushion on a candlestick. Someday I'll take the time to clean up their area a bit and take their picture for you.

One final note: my block from the beading round robin has come back to me at long last. There's some spectacular work on it! I intend to try to photograph it and post it here but it's a dark block with lots of dark embellishments that may not show up well. We'll do the best we can. The real question is whether it will become the tote bag I originally thought I'd make or whether I turn it into something else altogether... Stay tuned!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving!

If I started listing all the things I'm grateful for on this Thanksgiving day I'd be here until tomorrow. At the moment the thing I'm most grateful for is the fact that my Darling Husband is doing the cooking today. Which means I get clean-up duty. Even though I know he will use every single pot and dish we own I don't mind too much. It seems a small price to pay for what will be one of the best meals I eat all year!

I have not made any progress on the mysterious Christmas gifts in the last few days. I sort of got caught up in the Thanksgiving Day kick-off to the Christmas shopping season and have been spending a lot of time online, trying to figure out what to get some of the more challenging people on my list. Made a couple of decisions but no purchases yet. I expect to be industriously sewing while the rest of the world is out shopping on Friday.

Wishing all my new friends in blogland (and my old friends and family who drop in from time to time) a warm and yummy day, no matter how you choose to spend it!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

That Was Quick!

So that box I mailed on Friday? It has already reached its' destination! It was intended to get there at the end of this week for DS's birthday, which will fall on Sunday this year. (Every seven years he gets to have his birthday on Thanksgiving.) I didn't think to tell him the box was coming and not to open it until his birthday. I wanted it to be a surprise! But since it arrived and he opened it right away ~ and loves it BTW :- ) ~ I can show it to you now:

Each heart represents a member of the family he left behind when he moved south. Those are musical notes in the upper left heart, for his dad. You can probably guess that the sewing print is me ;- ). His sister and her family are represented by the frogs ~ there's even half of a pink frog for baby Susan! The Mardis Gras print is the best I could do for something to represent the theater that his brother is so involved in. I used the western Washington print to frame up the heart blocks and back the pillow.

One thing I didn't foresee when I was creating the blocks was the big square of negative space that ended up smack dab in the middle of the pillow top. I had to do something about it! I couldn't think of anything in my stash that would work in there so I risked a trip to JoAnn Fabrics and found some commercial appliques. Actually, it was DS#2 who spotted the shamrocks and thought they would be appropriate. In the end I had to agree. And they can remind him of the good wishes we send his way every day.

I have been out early the last couple of mornings, trying to do a bit of Christmas shopping in those very first hours of the store's extended schedule. Yesterday I fared pretty well. Not so good today. But not horrible either. The challenge now is to get back into sewing mode. There are three gifts to finish and at least one more I could begin. Then there are all the little goodies I could make for people like our postal carrier and paper carrier, etc. I haven't yet decided whether I'll go the handmade route for them this year or not. It will depend in part on my energy levels. What I wish I had the time and energy to make this year are gift bags like Tonya's. Not only would they save a ton of wrapping paper going to the landfill, they would be cute decorations under the tree even after the gifts have been removed from them! Go check 'em out!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Shock and Awe

I'm stunned by the news that Joan Colvin passed away in September. I only just learned of this when I saw that the La Conner Quilt Museum is having a special exhibit of her work. It opens November 23 and will run through the end of the year. I never had a workshop with her but met her on a couple of occasions at the museum. She seemed like a kind and generous soul. There's no question that her quilts are works of beauty. How fortunate the world is that her work will survive even though she is no longer with us.

And now I would like to humbly report that I have completed two of the six (or maybe it will be 7) gifts that I wanted to make for family members in the next few weeks. One has already been shipped. It's a birthday present, not a Christmas gift. Both turned out well, but the second one turned out even better than anticipated! (That would be the 'awe' part.) DH wants it for his own. We'll see ;- ) Hold a good thought for me as I embark on the next one, won't you?

I went to a smaller branch of the Post Office to ship the package yesterday. Actually, I went to two. The first one is so small they close for an hour for lunch. Wouldn't you know it, I got there half an hour before they were scheduled to reopen. So I went to the next one. Slightly larger, more people, but not as crowded as the branch nearest my house. From there I drove on to the site of our local quilt guild's semi-annual retreat. The church where they hold their meetings every month is too toxic for me anymore but the grange hall has been a safe place for me in the past. It was so good to see friendly faces again! I got to show off my Lincoln Logs top - for which they had made the blocks - and showed off my newly completed gift as well. I had a quick look at what everyone else was working on and caught up on some of their recent activities. {sigh} It was so pleasant. Unfortunately, something got to me and I had to leave after an hour or so. It was a challenging drive home, I have to say. I so wished I had someone with me who could have done the driving. But I made it home safely and crawled into bed. DH made dinner for me, bless his heart, and we watched a little TV before I went to bed for good. I slept deeply in spite of the exposure(s) and feel pretty good this morning. (whew!) There are two art shows going on this weekend that I would dearly love to go to. After yesterday's experience, however, I think I'll just stay home and sew...

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Here's the block I made for the Quilt Pink challenge:

If I were to do it over again I would reverse the positions of the white challenge fabric and the muted floral print.

I finally decided to just chuck the second block I made. The design worked - mostly - but the values were misplaced in the block so the whole thing didn't read well. Live and learn! That will be one block I will not save for an orphan project. I may salvage part of it, but the bulk of it will go in the trash. (And I don't often throw fabric away!)

Speaking of orphan projects, here are a couple more placemats for DD and family:

This house block was from my earliest days as a quiltmaker. A couple of the fabrics in it are not 100% cotton and are very thin. I know better now! I added the strip of ribbon with hearts on it to dress the house up a bit and some scenery on either side to get the desired width for the placemat.

This Log Cabin block was donated for a charity quilt but must have been leftover after the quilt was made. Once again I only had to add a strip or two to bring it up to size. Good primary colors for Miss Margaret to learn her colors from!

Now I have to get back to those gifts I'm making. Holly pointed out that there are only 5 weeks until Christmas, and most of these gifts have to be shipped across country. Ack! Forgive me if I don't make it to your blog very often in the next couple of weeks! ;- )

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Stash Enhancement

It's been a long time since I've dropped any amount of money in a LQS (local quilt shop). Until this week, that is!

Because of my chemical issues I can't be in most fabric stores for very long. Depending on the shop, I can get foggy headed in 15-20 minutes. At that point I have a hard time making any kind of decision, whether it's how much of a fabric to buy or whether I want it at all. I might even begin to feel weak or excessively tired. I haven't been to a quilt show in some time either, to avoid the cloud of fragrances that crowds tend to create. As a result I have begun to do a little fabric shopping online. One can only go without new fabric for so long! was having a sale on some flannels recently. The top two prints in the picture below are flannels from them that I thought would be fun to use in preemie quilts. The colors are pretty true to what I'd seen onscreen. Somehow, though, the bear print is even cuter in person! I checked out other sale fabrics while I was there and went for the teal dot print as well, but that was all.

Thursday my friend C~ invited me to accompany her to a nearby city to check out the new Trader Joe's there (yeah!). I was happy to go given that I had fared so well two days earlier when I went to the mall with DD and her darling daughters. C~ and I did Trader Joe's and two quilt shops and the Salvation Army thrift store as well! I bought more flannel at the first quilt shop (the top two fabrics below) and apparently only four other pieces of cotton (seemed like more on the day). Actually, C~ paid for the piece on the extreme right. It's going to be part of a challenge we're doing with a few other friends of ours. Oh yes, there was one other purchase at that stop. It's a potential Christmas gift though so I won't reveal what it was. ;- )

That shop seemed to be okay for me, healthwise. I waited too long to have lunch, though, and paid the price. But after lunch we hit the thrift shop and I scored two cool neckties (which I didn't think to photograph). Then it was on to the second quilt shop. I only bought one piece of fabric there. It's the print on the extreme left in the photo above. Lots of fun dog-related words and phrases for that doggy quilt I'm going to make someday.

Of all the places we visited that trip, the thrift shop was the worst for me. I tried to get in and out of there as quickly as I could but I had to look carefully at every tie!

The next day I had the opportunity to pick up Miss Margaret from her other grandmother and deliver her to her mom. I was feeling well enough on the way back home to stop in at a favorite quilt shop that I hadn't been in in a long time. This is a store where I'd be happy to just have "one of everything!" in the store. Exercising great restraint, I only came home with these prints:

Two of them may go into another Christmas gift. The lime green was just for me, just because.

The shop had one more challenge packet left for their Quilt Pink 2007 block challenge. It contained these two prints:

The white on the bottom is actually a pink mini dot. I bought a couple of the fat eighths the shop had preselected to go with the challenge fabrics too. Yesterday I made up one block for the challenge. It took a ridiculously long time to get that block made, and then I wasn't all that happy with it. It's not bad, but I know it could be better (and would have been better if I'd been thinking more clearly). Oh well. Today I've made up a second block from the leftover bits of the first block. Once again, it doesn't quite live up to my expectations but it is what it is. I may photograph them for you tomorrow. It will require good light and it's too late for that now.

Oh yes, there was one other print from that store:

This was manufactured by In The Beginning especially for the western Washington shop hop this year. I'd never seen it before - that gives you some idea of how long it's been since I've been in that store; the shop hop is in June. I thought it might be fun to incorporate into things for relatives who used to live here but are now living in browner, dryer (and sunnier!) places. Which brings up the point that there will be things I'll be working on in the coming weeks that I will be unable to show you because they will be Christmas gifts and I'm not sure who's reading my blog and who isn't. With any kind of luck I'll remember to take their pictures and share them with you after the holidays!