Wednesday, March 31, 2010


I sure am looking forward to the end of this string of headaches and lethargy I've been experiencing lately. I can't seem to make myself pick up a needle or a sew two pieces of fabric together. Well, that's not entirely true. I did create a foundation for the "new" ornament for March's Bead Journal Project. It won't get done in March though!

You may remember that I am engaged in an ongoing effort to come up with a system for storing and using my scraps. A few months ago, on a trip to the thrift shop, I found a glass relish tray I thought might be useful. You may not be able to tell from this photograph but it has 5 sections of varying sizes. I thought those sections would help me to sort my scraps without having to give it too much attention. It seems to be working well enough.

What I have discovered is that it's easier now to actually throw away (!) some of the smallest scraps. I've realized how much time it takes me to get a block of any size when I start with those tee-tiny pieces. I'm also learning that I have more strings than I thought possible. Which means there may very well be a string quilt in my future after all. I like the look of them but have resisted the urge to start making one because it looks like such a big project. Now I'm thinking that might be a good project to work on when I can't focus on something more demanding. After I get all the foundation squares cut and my strings sorted out from my scrap bags of course. ;- ) (Maybe when I'm not feeling so well I could be sorting through more of those bags... duh.)

Other trips to the thrift shop resulted in a square (or nearly square) tin in which I keep the patches for my six inch Shoo Fly and Churn Dash blocks and one for the 3.5" patches I've been cutting for other blocks.

We're having a lovely sunny day here today. If I weren't concerned about the fumes from lawn mowers and other people's dryers I might even be tempted to go outside and do a bit of gardening...

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Reading, Not Stitching

I'm still here, I've just been doing a lot of non-blog reading lately. Guess it was time for a break. I've been enjoying the Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan, more of Georgette Heyer's historical ficiton, fantasy by Patricia McKillip, and Gail Carrieger's debut novel which combines history, fantasy and farce. Can you tell that the real world holds little allure for me? ;- ) Oh, and just let me add that Gail's bio on the back of the book is the most original and refreshing I've read in a long time.

I sewed up those pillowcases for Operation Pillowcase. That "burrito" method for making pillowcases really makes the job quick. I also chose to eliminate the trim piece just to make things that much easier on myself. Here are the first two:

And three more:

Those cowboy boots have state names incorporated into their decorations, all different states, not just one. Yesterday I went to the thrift shop - because that's a safer environment for me than the discount chain stores - and scored four decks of playing cards to include with the pillowcases. All I have to do now is get DH or someone to take my box of goodies to the Post Office.

Because I've been reading, not stitching, my March ornament for the Bead Journal Project is still more of an idea than a reality. And now I'm thinking I may put that idea off to execute for April's ornament instead. Thursday night I watched the latest episode of Project Runway and was struck by Anthony's parting comment. He said something to the effect of "You don't have to have a crown to be a queen." Coming from him there was a bit of a double-entendre there but the truth behind the message struck home for me. It epitomizes the very attitude I didn't get enough of during my formative years (and wasn't born with). So now I'm thinking that I'll stitch up some sort of reminder of that thought for myself. Or maybe I'll stitch the quote itself. I'm definitely ready to work with beads over large pieces of fabric, and to sew with my hands rather than my sewing machine.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Backs and Babies

I was all set to catch up with my blogging friends Saturday morning only to discover that our internet connection had been mysteriously disconnected. Just as mysteriously, by bedtime it had been re-established. Go figure. Of course it was too late by then for me to actually take advantage of it.

I have a picture for you of the pieced back for the birthday quilt:

I had to go out and buy batting but now I'm all set to baste the layers together (ugh). My plan is to tie this quilt but we all know how plans can change. ;- )

I have been puttering around, cutting scraps into patches and putting away leftover yardage. I even pulled some pieces from my stash to make pillowcases for Operation Pillowcase. This is an effort to make pillowcases for our military personnel serving overseas. I had a bit of a challenge in that the pieces I have that are big enough for a pillowcase tend to be too light in color or too juvenile. I think I have enough for four pillowcases at this point. Over on the OP blog there's a link to a video tutorial for making pillowcases that appears to be a much quicker and easier process than the directions I've used in the past. I'm looking forward to giving that technique a try.

My friend C~ made a great purchase recently at a going-out-of-business sale: 16 yards of this fun print:

She was williing to share her bounty; I now own about half of that yardage. Just for kicks I showed my new treasure to my DH. Turns out he really likes it! In a matter of minutes we decided I would use that print to back a new quilt for him and use selected skull and skeleton prints from my collection for the front. I haven't figured out yet what I'm going to do on the front but those are the kinds of puzzles I love to solve!

I've also had the opportunity to spend time with the granddaughters lately. The twins are doing very well. At six weeks old both weigh over 6 pounds and are 17.5" long. One is larger than her sister - always has been. Makes me wonder whether she always will be. It's beginning to look like they will not have the same hair either.


Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The Cat's Meow

I've been so out of it I didn't realize today was St. Patrick's Day until I turned on the TV. I thought it was tomorrow. Sheesh! Ah well. By the time you read this it will probably not be St. Paddy's Day anymore anyway. ;- )

I finally got the borders on the birthday quilt:

I'm really happy with the way the border pulls the blocks together. (You should be able to get a much larger version of the picture by clicking on it.)

This print comes as a very large stripe, about 10" wide, four to a width of the fabric. Two yards was just enough to go all the way around this top. It measures about 60" x 76" now. I used some dog and cat prints I've had for a while to create the back.

This is just a sampling of what's gone into the backing. I don't have a picture of the finished product yet but I think it turned out well. It was only as I was pressing the final seams of the back that it occurred to me that I may not have a piece of batting big enough for this quilt. Still have to look into that and then figure out what color or colors to use to tie the layers together.

And now that this is so close to being finished maybe I can get my beads back out and get busy on my ornament for March...

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Silver Linings

Well my friends, it's been one of those weeks. I've had multiple back-to-back exposures and therefore have lost time and energy. But the week has not been without its' little blessings either. For example, DD and her brood were over here one day and Miss M, who will be turning 5 at the end of the month, gave me her stamp of approval on the blocks for the birthday quilt.

Since the quilt is intended for a 4 year old I figure it will pass muster. I'm happy to report that the fabric I ordered will make fantastic borders for the quilt top. It's still waiting to be laundered before I work with it but I think it's going to pull the blocks together beautifully.

Another day I couldn't think but had to do something so, inspired by Sharon over at Indigo Threads, I pulled out my bag of ivory and ecru scraps and started sewing the smallest bits together. By the next day I was bored with the lack of color... and I still have to put the mess away.

Barbara over at Thinking Out Loud sent me some scraps of a parrot print I saw on her blog. In return I made this little ATC for her (that was last week or so, back when I was feeling good!).

"Louie and Cleo in the Garden" Really, these little ATC's can be so much fun to make - mostly because they are almost instant gratification.

Barbara is making an entry for the Alliance for American Quilts annual fundraising auction. The theme this year is New From Old. At first I didn't think I would participate. But then I remembered an old potholder I'd acquired in a box lot at an auction back in Michigan. Since the birthday quilt is proceeding apace I might have time to make a little 16" square quilt for the AAQ myself, featuring that potholder. You'll have to stay tuned to see how (or whether) that develops. ;- )

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Look What I Got!

I belive I mentioned an ATC swap that was being organized by A Creative Dreamer. (Yes, here it is.) The names were mixed up and paired up and the ATC's sent out. As it turned out, Creative Dreamer and I ended up being swap partners. Here's the card she made and sent to me:

She's been reading my blog and was inspired to add a few beads to her doodle. I think it's absolutely charming. :- )

Meanwhile, our local bead shop will be closing in about two weeks. I went back again yesterday to show my support and see what I could find to supplement my stash. I found lots! I could easily have brought more home if I'd had the budget for it.

FYI, the square container holds clear bugle beads. They don't show up very well in this photo.

I have also been pondering what to do for my March ornament for the Bead Journal Project. I want to recognize or honor spring somehow. Or perhaps it's the effect of spring on the earth that I want to document. In any event, I have selected this hand dyed fabric in spring greens and yellow...

and have chosen this raku button to be my focal element:

I'm excited at the prospect of turning this into a representation of spring. At the same time I'm a little apprehensive because I'm planning to try out new techniques and of course I want the final product to turn out well. Wish me luck!

Oh, and thanks for your thoughts on the crazy quilt in the previous post. I feel better about its' potential now.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

What Do You Think?

I've mentioned that I'm making a birthday quilt for a little girl who will be turning four at the end of May. She requested kitties and/or puppies in her quilt. I didn't think this would be a problem... until I actually started making blocks. Which is what I've been doing since my last post.

First I debated about what blocks or what process to use. Somehow a liberated quilt didn't feel right so that got eliminated right away. I also didn't particularly feel like making a bunch of precision pieced blocks. I looked at a lot of Disappearing Nine Patch quilts online. For a while I thought that would be the pattern/process I would use. But I was also thinking about Karla Alexander's Stack the Deck process for making crazy blocks. In the end that's the one I went with.

I think the problem began with the fact that some of my cat prints are dark and grayed while others are bright, pure colors. I thought I could manage to blend the two, using the "more is better" principle. I'm just not sure it worked in this case.

This is not all of the blocks, but enough to give you a rough idea what I've got. I ended up not using many of my cat prints for one reason or another so to begin with I don't feel there's enough catly presence in the top currently. I guess the other thing that's bothering me is that this feels too old for a four year old. There are some fun and colorful prints in the blocks but it just reads darker than I think a preschooler's quilt should. What do you think?

To be fair, I should tell you that I have ordered a large print with cats in it that I thought I might be able to work into the top somehow. It could become borders or a feature element. I won't know how well it even works with these blocks until it arrives. It has a black background however so it won't do anything to lighten up the quilt top. It didn't appear to be available in any other colorway.

What I really need to do is turn my attention away from this puzzle and occupy myself with some other project until the new fabric arrives. Soooo... what to do for my March Bead Journal Project?

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Celebrate Friends

So, before I could do anything more with the doll I started (see previous post) I got a call from my Darling Daughter. She sounded awful. Her voice was a whisper and she sounded extremely tired. Second Son and I drove over to her house to tend the children while she went to the doctor. When we arrived we found Sunflower in the living room, at the brand new couch, with an open carton of raw eggs. One egg had already been broken into the carpet. Another had obviously leaked in the carton. The rest were on the seat cushion. There was what looked to be at least half a box of cereal strewn all over the carpet as well. DD was sound asleep in her bed, one infant on either side of her. Son started cleaning up the mess and I let DD know we had arrived.

Several hours later DD came home with the news that she had been diagnosed as being dehydrated and had strep throat. They pumped three bags of fluids into her and gave her a prescription. Son stayed with her overnight, and the next day she was able to take her children to a friend's house to spend a few days. There are three adults in that home so there were plenty of hands and eyes to take over for her and let her get the rest she needed. Whew!

Since Saturday she has perked up immensely. The older two granddaughters are now being treated for strep as well, and the babies are being closely monitored. I have been a slug for the last few days however, no doubt trying to fight off an infection of my own. Fortunately I had finished my "Celebrate" ornament before I even began the doll so I can share that with you today. Here's the lower half of the ornament:

And the upper half:

And the whole thing:

I have tried to upload these pictures so you can click on them and get a good look at the beading. This ornament turned out to be something of a technique sampler, which is fine by me. It was fun to do and puts me in mind of fireworks. Completely appropriate for a celebration!