Monday, November 30, 2009

Baker's Dozen

We had a lovely Thanksgiving. I made a point of putting the camera out in the living room where I expected I would be spending the most time with the granddaughters. The intention was to get pictures of them and their mother 'cause, you know, they're so cute and we don't get to see them that often. It didn't happen. I was so busy actually playing with the girls that it never occurred to me to use the camera. Duh!

By yesterday everyone was gone and most of the mess in the kitchen had been dealt with. Like Sharon over at Indigo Threads I needed to sew. I wasn't in the right frame of mind to begin making blocks for my granddaughter's new quilt so I dumped out my bag of pink-to-burgundy scraps.

I sorted them roughly by size and shape and started sewing the smallest bits together. Much later I had ten 4.5" crumb blocks:

And two 5.5" blocks:

And this one 6.5" block:

Now my sewing table looks like this:

The piles are smaller but far from being gone altogether. ;- )

This has me thinking about better ways to collect and store my littlest scraps. I don't expect to tackle this job until after the holidays but there are definitely some ideas percolating. For the last few years I've had sort of an overarching theme or goal for each year. One year was dealing with my UFO's, deciding which ones I wanted to finish and how soon. 2008 was a year of learning and experimentation. I think my theme for next year is going to be scraps. It's time to get that beast under control. I don't intend to use them all up or anything drastic like that. I just want to get to a place where I feel like I have a system that works for me for collecting and storing and using them.

Now I have to clean up the sewing table once again so I can finally get started on that DGD quilt!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Warmest wishes

From the Magpie's Nest

to all my blogger friends

for a warm and cozy

Thanksgiving day.


Monday, November 23, 2009

A Finish and A Question

Woohoo! The binding on the Lincoln Logs quilt is all sewn down. I even slept under the quilt last night. Slept real well too. :- )

The official title for this quilt will be "The Comfort of Friends" because most of the blocks were made at my request by members of my quilt guild. And because it's tied, technically it's a comforter, not a quilt. But I'm trying to get beyond those technicalities.

Why is it, I'd like to know, that I can find more threads that need to be cut and removed after I've photographed the quilt than before? I had to re-take this picture about three times and there's still a thread on one of the blocks!

Before I fell asleep under my newly finished quit last night I got to thinking about the fact that I rarely label my quilts. I sign them, but I don't label them. The thought of trying to put all the pertinent information about the origins of the quilt on a label just makes me shudder. But I think it's important that that information be recorded somewhere.

Sure, it's all in my studio notebooks and project notebooks, but I'm the only one who could decipher those notes and scribbles. Even I can't figure it out sometimes. And then what about the quilts I've not made but have inherited or collected in some other way?

I've written the history of the oldest quilt in my possession but I have several other quilts and tops that my kids might want to know about some day. So now I'm thinking about creating a new book or journal. One in which I can record the story of how each quilt came to be or how it came to be in my possession. I know there are blank quilt journals on the market but I think I'm going to want to create my own. I think it's going to be an actual book too, not merely a spreadsheet in the computer. The question is how to build it. What format, what information, how will I add to it as I make or acquire more quilts?

I welcome any suggestions you may have.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Since Last We Met...

It's been kind of a scattered week here in the Magpie's Nest. I was out and about a bit more than usual. Some fabric was purchased locally and some that had been purchased online was delivered:

I saw this batik print during one of my online shopping trips and thought it might make the perfect pillowcase to go with my Black&White&Pink Friendship quilt (when I get around to finishing it!). I also finally found these Metro Market prints that I've been lusting after (the egg beaters). I don't have a clue what I'm going to do with them yet but I had to have them. :- )

There were even more fabric purchases but I'll save those for another time.

I've also been thinking more about what I want to do for the Bead Journal Project next year. I'm just not satisfied with the idea of making more postcards. I want something else, something different. In the process of thinking about that unexpected insight came to me. The quilts I embellished with beads for the first BJP mostly began with an idea I wanted to express. (You can see them here.) Then I chose the fabrics to use, and the bead selection came last. What I realized the other day was that this time around I really want to practice improvisational bead embroidery. I did that to a limited extent the first time, but this time I want it to be the raison d'etre for each piece. That helped me realize that I need to start with a palette of beads, not with an idea or a selection of fabrics. The beads will come first. And rather than piecing fabrics together as I usually do, this time I believe I'm going to stick to a whole cloth ground for my beadwork. Finally, I'm going to use Robin Atkins' latest book as my guide, my touchstone.

The BJP is a perfect opporutnity to fully explore the techniques she presents within its' pages. All I need now is a shape that's not too big or too small and that does not require extraordinary efforts to make it look finished.

The other thing I accomplished this week was to apply the binding to my Lincoln Logs quilt. Today I stitched down some of the binding while listening to this week's edition of Car Talk. It's a long way between corners on this quilt! Turns out Mr. Reilly loves flannel. He has his own blankets to lay on but everytime I left the Lincoln Logs quilt in an accessible place I would come back to find him snuggled into it.

He's no dummy!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

I Understand

For the first time in my quilting life I can understand the need for more than one sewing machine. I always thought it would be nice, if I had the room or the money for a second machine, but never really thought it could be a necessity. Now I wish I had the room to have two machines set up all the time. That way I could leave out the flannels, continue playing in those scraps, and not have to switch out the needle and the tension settings all the time. I could begin making blocks for DarlingGrandDaughter's quilt without getting the two projects all mixed up. It would also be helpful to have a place where I could sit and do the hand work I like to do from time to time. Right now I have to juggle all my projects and the stuff that goes with them in pretty much one space. This is going to require some thought on my part, to see whether I can come up with at least a partial solution. I only have a couple of months before the Bead Journal Project starts up again. I don't want one type of creativity to suffer because of another.

And speaking of the flannel scraps, I made this little dog using some of them.

He will probably be another drop for The Toy Society, maybe for their Christmas Drop. He's a pancake dog so he has only two legs. DH suggested I figure out a way to give him all four legs.

That's been in the back of my mind and I'd like to follow through before I put the flannels away. I want to shorten the muzzle on the pattern a bit too.

I finally found a piece of yardage in my stash that I like for binding on the Lincoln Logs quilt.

It's a paisley from RJR Fabrics. I don't even remember when or where I acquired it. I was thrilled to discover that there was enough to make it all the way around the quilt though!

Before I apply the binding to the quilt sandwich I'll have to get the little scraps out of the way, one way or another. Flannel picks up everything and this is one big quilt. :- )

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Turkey Meme

I saw this over on Freebird's blog and thought it would be fun to share. :- )

1. Which do you like better: Cooking at your house, or going elsewhere? If I could I would go elsewhere, but since my husband - bless his heart - does most of the cooking for this meal it's like I already do!

2. Do you buy a fresh or frozen bird? We buy a fresh bird, organically fed and raised.

3. What kind of stuffing? I prefer the stuffing I grew up with, as does my husband. Which means we have two kinds of stuffing every year. I was born a Yankee [and have been trying to overcome it all of my adult life ;- )] so I like the bread stuffing seasoned with sage. He likes cornbread dressing. Truth be told, I like them both!

4. Sweet potato or pumpkin pie? Pumpkin, hands down. One of my favorite memories of Thanksgiving Days in my youth was the buffet of pies my mother and her sisters would make. We had our choice of apple, cherry, pumpkin, and mincemeat. There were years when I think we had an even wider variety. It was common to see three or even four skinny slices of pie on a plate when it was time for dessert.

5. Do you believe that turkey leftovers are a curse, or the point of the whole thing? At this point in my life the leftovers are the reason we do the whole bird. That provides me with meals to eat for days afterward. DH is pretty well done with turkey after the second day.

6. Which side dish would provoke a riot if you left it off the menu? Probably the cornbread dressing. Oh, we also have to have black olives!

7. Do you save the carcass to make soup or stock? I'm not the cook so it depends on how DH is feeling any particular year. He has made both soup and stock from our birds a couple of times. It's nice to have the stock on hand because then it's easy for me to put together a soup for myself if I'm in the mood.

8. What do you wish you had that would make preparing Thanksgiving dinner easier? A little bit bigger dining room so we could have a bigger table. There's never enough room for all the food and all the place settings, never mind having a centerpiece!

9. Do you get up at the crack of dawn to have dinner ready in the early afternoon, or do you eat at your normal dinner hour? We've done both, but most recently we've been eating close to our regular dinner hour.

10. If you go to somebody else's house, what's your favorite dish to bring? Probably my mother's frozen cranberry salad (which isn't really a salad in my mind, but more of a dessert). It's a high treat and can be made ahead of time. Plus it's one of those dishes that goes a long way amongst a crowd of people.

11. What do you wish one of your guests wouldn't bring to your house? Everyone has to be very mindful of any fragrances they may bring in with them. It's amazing how little will set me off.

12. Does your usual mix of guests result in drama, or is it a group you're happy to see? It's usually just our immediate family any more, and not even all of them, so we're happy to see them. It was a joy to get together with aunts and uncles and cousins on my mother's side of the family when I was a kid. (We hardly ever saw my dad's side of the family, except during summer vacations.)

13. What's your absolute favorite thing on the menu? I think I would have to agree with Freebird on this one: the pumpkin pie! Or maybe the stuffing... either variety! It used to be my mother's cranberry salad but I can't eat most of those ingredients these days.

14. What are you thankful for this year? So many things! First of all, that we are able to afford the more expensive organic foods that my body now requires. I'm grateful for a cozy little home in which to gather our family together. I'm grateful for the two darling little granddaughters we already have and the two that are on the way. And, among other things, I am grateful for the new friends I feel I've made in keeping this blog. I truly appreciate those who take the time to leave comments and those who give me support when I'm feeling less than confident or even unwell. I am also grateful for those who may not leave comments but think of me on occasion or remember me in their prayers.

And now it's your turn! If you feel inclined to play along be sure to let me know so I can swing by and see what you have to say. :- )

Friday, November 13, 2009

Flannel Birdies!

We've had sunshine the last couple of days. And then this morning the dark clouds and the rain were back. {sigh} I wish I could somehow change my thought processes so that I could look outside and enjoy being cozy inside instead of feeling oppressed and depressed by the weather.

On a happier note, I believe I am done swapping out the dark ties on my Lincoln Logs quilt. I didn't take all of them out, but enough to make their presence less noticeable.

I still have to figure out what I'm going to use to bind this beast. It will definitely be a regular cotton, not flannel. Before I put the flannel away I couldn't resist the urge to try making a couple of birds out of the littlest scraps. I like them!

They still need eyes and hanging loops.

I also sewed up this postcard foundation.

I've signed up to participate in the 2010 Bead Journal Project and thought I might warm those muscles up by making a postcard a month between now and when the Project officially begins in January. If you're interested in the Project you can see what others have been doing here. There's still time to sign up too!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Flannel Finish

The preemie quilt is done. The white print stands out rather a lot but I really wanted to include those horses running across the landscape. If I hadn't been so focused on getting the thing put together I might have taken the time to try tea dying those two strips. Ah well, it is what it is.

Of course I still have blocks and scraps and strips left over. At this point I think I'm just going to put them all away somehow so I can move on to other things. I could probably make flannel quilts in a variety of small sizes for the next six months before I used up my stash. Well, maybe not. Some of the flannel I have is not up to my current standards for utility quilts. Back in the day I would buy flannel shirts at the thrift shop to cut up and use in my quilts. In the years since then I have learned from sad experience that you have to be fairly discerning when recycling fabric. Some of those yummy plaids are too thin to last through very many washings.

This is the view from our back porch these days:

Those are some of the members of our local murder of crows in the tree. A moment or two sooner and I would have had the whole group in the shot. Notice the color of the sky. And this is after I brightened it up with my photo editing program! (For some reason our camera seems to take dark pictures.) This is the color we will be living with for the next four months or so. That's the price we gotta pay for the beauty we enjoy the rest of the year I guess.

This morning we had a sunbreak. See that hole of blue in the cloud cover? Once again, if I'd been a bit quicker I might have been able to capture the sunshine.

As it turned out I was lucky to get what I did. This is what that spot looked like just a few minutes later:

So much for sunshine for today! Guess I'll have to go create my own somehow. ;- )

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Aunty Ollie $100 Gift Card GUEST GIVEAWAY!!!!

I read about this on The Corvidarium and just had to check it out. Truly cute clothes for children; not the usual run-of-the-mill stuff you see in the stores here in the States. Best of all they're giving away a $100 gift card!
Aunty Ollie $100 Gift Card GUEST GIVEAWAY!!!!

More Flannel, A Little Longing

I worked with the flannel blocks and scraps a bit yesterday. This is what I have so far:

This will finish at about 25 inches wide by 30 inches long. Right now only strips and sections are sewn together. You can see that I have a couple of gaping holes to fill. ;- )

I also spent time with my DMC color chart and the Lincoln Logs quilt, trying to find other colors to use as ties. I selected three, and DH was actually able to find them at our local JoAnn Fabrics store (woohoo! that doesn't happen as often as I would like). So now I'm ready to cut out the most offensive ties and replace them with something less obvious.

I have to say that if I were a healthy person I would have sweet-talked my husband into going down south to one of the big malls yesterday to spend the whole day there. We might not have purchased a lot, but I would have been in heaven browsing in the stores, eating in the food court or in a chain restaurant, people watching, even lugging our purchases around on my arms all day. We could have complained about the pre-Thanksgiving Christmas music and displays. It would have been noisy and crowded. We might have gone to see a movie. (I don't even know what's in the theaters right now that we would both enjoy.) We might have found a few things for Christmas presents or I might have come home with a new pair of shoes or pants or a shirt (all of which I need). For that matter, he might have come home with a new suit! It would have been so much fun. I really wish we could have done that.

Instead I shopped a bit online, by myself. Now I have to wait for my purchases to be delivered. None of it was clothing for me or my husband. (I take that back. There was a sweatshirt on clearance I couldn't pass up for myself.) In spite of the fact that I have to I don't like buying things without seeing or handling them first, and I really dislike buying clothes online, trying them on, and then having to return them. So everything I wear is pretty out of date, stained, or maybe doesn't fit as well as it could. On the upside, I do have a head start on my Christmas gifts. I used to try to make something for everyone every year. That was way too stressful. I'm learning now to take the easier way out. And I don't take it so personally any more if they don't seem to like the gift!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Tying One On

If only! The only thing I've been tying is this quilt.

And now that I've got it done I'm not sure I like the dark ties. They sort of look like flies on the surface of the quilt to me.

There are so many different colors in this quilt that I had a hard time even deciding on the dark blue that I used. Now I'm wondering whether I'll have to take out half of the ties and replace them with something lighter in order to be happy with the final product. {sigh}

I will probably go ahead and bind the quilt and live with it for a while. If I the ties continue to bother me I can replace them a little at a time. That's one of the benefits of tying vs quilting!

In the meantime I have also been playing around with the leftovers from my Hope Squared Project quilt.

This will very likely become a preemie quilt. I had toyed with the idea of making a Priority Quilt out of the fussy-cut house patch but I can use more of the leftover flannel bits in a preemie quilt. I doubt the 4Patches are going to stay on the right side of the top. I'm thinking I will take them apart or make others so that I can have a single row of squares going down both sides. The interior may simply get filled in with strips and pieces. I've got to get finished with this batch of fabrics and get started on the new quilt for DGD#2 so it will be ready for her at Christmas. With all the rain and gray skies we've had lately I need to play with the bright colors that are going into her quilt!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Toxic Whine

I'm not feeling well at all this morning. I was fine most of yesterday. I washed some of the new fabrics that have come into the house recently. (Sorry I don't have the energy to photograph them for you.) Mostly I washed the flannels for receiving blankets and preemie quilts. There's still a pile of regular cottons waiting to be washed, and there's more on the way. Like I need more fabric! RealWomenQuilt is having a sale and I couldn't resist. That happens when I've been exposed. My resistance drops and I go on shopping binges. Well, maybe not binges exactly. I tend to be pretty frugal even when my resistance is down. Still, I don't need more fabric. I need to use what I have.

So it could have been the new fabrics that made me ill. Or it could be that my DH brought scent home with him from work yesterday and neither one of us picked up on it. On Sundays he has to change his clothes immediately upon his return from church to keep me from becoming ill. It's a real drag, let me tell you. (And now you know what decade I came of age in!)

These are the blocks I have left over from the quilt for the Hope Squared Project.

I'm thinking I may sew up a few more 4Patch blocks and make a preemie quilt out of them. One of the pieces waiting to be washed is a sock monkey print that could be really cute for the back.

Today is Election Day here in the States. Don't forget to go vote, or to mail in your ballot if that's the way it's done in your state. We vote by mail here now. I have to say I really miss going to the polls. But I guess in this day of H1N1 flu concerns it may be safer in the long run to vote by mail. {humph} I was planning to drop my ballot off at the courthouse because we live so close to it. Now I'm thinking I may just put a stamp on it and let the mail carrier take care of it for me. The trouble is that I have other errands I need to run too. I'm really not looking forward to going out and being exposed to additional toxins. And the longer I wait to go out the more crowded it will be, thus exposing me to more toxins than if I had gone out first thing. {sigh} Guess I'd better just get in the shower and get going...

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Flannel Quilt

When last you saw my current project (on the kitchen floor) I had all the rows together and the top was nearly complete. I put an additional strip of flannel on each end to get the length I wanted. Then I went looking for backing fabric.

I didn't have to look far. In my closet I found two pieces of cotton I'd purchased in 1994 or 1995, intending to use them in a quilt for our own bed. That quilt never materialized (obviously!) and the fabrics were still there, waiting to be used. There wasn't enough yardage in either one of them to make the back out of just one of the prints so I combined them by splitting one in half and inserting the other up the middle. In the shot below you should be able to see the two different, yet similar, prints. (Sorry the picture is so dark. This was photographed in the living room where the light is very poor.)

And here's the top laid out on the backing, waiting to see whether I have a piece of batting in the house big enough to do the job...

Hurray! There was! This quilt is small enough that I was able to layer it up (backing, batting, pieced top) on the living room floor. Then my Dear Husband brought in an eight foot banquet table, set it up in front of the couch, and I tied the quilt with a deep red cotton floss while watching TV.

Yesterday I found an old red paisley print in my stash for the binding. Ta daa! A finished quilt before the first Trick-or-Treater rang the bell!

I was actually a little surprised that I got the binding sewn down so quickly. Perhaps more surprising is the fact that I made this quilt, start to finish, in about 10 days. I didn't think I had it in me to pull off such a stunt! Of course, I don't have a job outside the home or children under foot or anything like that to keep me from the sewing machine. Still, I believe I'm going to bask in the glow of a quilt that turned out well (in my eyes at least) for today and look for a box to ship it in tomorrow... and you know what? There are STILL flannel scraps left over!