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!

Fabric.com 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!

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Not George Clooney!

I didn't track down the source, but apparently the question is floating around in blogland, "What's on your bed?" My answer is, "Not George Clooney!" Or Johnny Depp or Matthew McConaughey or anyone else exciting ;- )

No, Helen Roll is on my bed at the moment. At least that's what it says on the back of this quilt:

This is my $10 thrift shop treasure which apparently belonged to Helen Roll before she passed away earlier this year. It's a lovely warm quilt but it's only the top layer. Underneath it we have the pinwheel quilt which will go to Miss Margaret when she gets a little older:

I'm not sure whether I've blogged about this quilt yet or not. The Double Pinwheels were made when DD was in elementary school. She picked out some of the fabrics that were used in the blocks. That project was put on the back burner at some point, to be lost in the mists of time. Last year (?) I unearthed the blocks and decided to make a quilt for DD's darling daughter out of them. Of course there were half a dozen or so of the big pinwheel blocks that were too small or otherwise unusable so I went back into my block stash and found some regular Pinwheel blocks exactly half the size of the Double Pinwheels. At that point I decided to put the pinwheels on point (this is turning out to be a very pointy story!). I needed a few more of the smaller ones to fill in the blanks and made sure to make them out of fabric from the same time period. Some of them were made out of scraps from the dresses my mother had made for DD. The center of the quilt needed to be a bit longer before I added the border so I created the primitive hearts. There's a row of them along the top and along the bottom (which you can't see in this picture). They include fabrics from Margaret's other great grandmother. The border fabric also came from that great grandmother. You probably can't tell from the photo, but I machine quilted around each pinwheel. Because DD is such a fan of tied quilts, and Miss M likes to twiddle them, I included ties of embroidery floss in the setting triangles around the perimeter of the quilt. It's not fancy but it's serviceable and that seems to be what I do.

I was really pleased to be able to include all of the women on this side of the family in Miss Margaret's quilt. Hopefully I haven't set the bar too high for future quilts for the other grandchildren!

Monday, November 5, 2007

What I Did on Saturday

Ta da! The Lincoln Logs blocks are all sewn together!

This was the perfect project for me on Saturday because I had a bad reaction headache and needed a distraction. Sewing the blocks together was a fairly mindless activity. I had to take two of the blocks completely apart and put them back together again to make them big enough (the maker of the blocks had taken too deep a seam allowance), one block had a seam where one fabric had only been caught by a thread - literally! - so I took that seam out too and put it back together, and one block was exactly the right size and had to be taken in to make it fit with its' neighbors. When I spread the top out on my bed afterward I was dismayed to see an area with too many light fabrics in it for my taste. I had sewn the blocks exactly the way I'd laid them out on the floor; the problem just didn't show itself until they were actually sewn together. {sigh} What to do?

I thought about moving the offending block(s) but then I'd have to replace it with something from somewhere else. Y'all know what happens then! One thing leads to another and I'd have nothing but a pile of blocks again. I could make a whole new block but I didn't want to leave out any of the blocks my friends had made for me. I seriously considered the suggestion to tea dye the light blocks to tone them down. Eventually the idea dawned on me to just take out the light pieces in one or more blocks and replace them with something darker. I played around with the scraps I had until I found something I thought would work. Swapping out the two smaller light strips from one block made all the difference in the world. That was the only change I ended up making. Whew!

I didn't get to see the granddaughters on Halloween. But when I went over there on Friday Miss Margaret was dressed up in her princess dress and fairy wings, which was her Halloween costume and is currently her favorite outfit (of course!). SHE WAS SO CUTE!!!

And I forgot the camera.

DD has promised me a picture. They were here briefly yesterday but Margaret and I were too busy playing to get any pictures taken. Baby Susan played rag doll the whole time she was here, asleep in her mother's arms. At two months old she is the happiest baby I've ever seen. When she's awake she smiles and laughs and coos and gurgles. I feel like the luckiest grandma in the world!