Dec 31, 2007

checking in and wrapping up

Well, 2007 is almost gone and another year is starting in just hours here in the SE, USA.

See my deterrent to sewing last week? It was late when I started and obviously she wanted my attention. I had about two seams sewn at the time. Okay, Pippi, you win!

I had planned to write about my goals for 2008 and how I was not able to cross one single thing off my Top 10 UFO personal projects for the year. I'm not going to dwell on not meeting those goals as I did exactly what I did or did not want to do with my craft. After all, there are only so many hours in the day--it can't or won't all get done, even if I don't work outside the home. I'll revise that list for my own needs to keep me on track but won't beat myself up if I fall short.

Truth be told, I couldn't get at my own pinned tops on my closet shelf even if I wanted to (which I don't)---there is a pile of pinned quilts for Mexico blocking it. I did count up what I did get done with the donation quilts this past year. I prefer to focus of what I did accomplish rather than how I "failed" after all. 30 tops from my own stash or from donations from others and 59 quilts quilted on my trusty old Viking 500 (seen above), including my own, those donated by others or some that were made by the Belles. Not too shabby. That means a lot to me--almost 60 kids have a quilt now and I had a little something to do with that happening. I appreciate those of you out there that helped make that happen too--you know who you are.

I haven't posted for a week and there are a few others things to write about anyway. It was a quiet and rainy Christmas with just DJ, Pippi and me. I did some sewing in the afternoon while DJ watched TV. I fixed a turkey dinner with trimmings that we enjoyed. DJ had requested and got an apple pie---I rarely make this type of pie and even did a lattice top. The heck with tracking calories for a few days! I didn't gain any pounds back and even lost a teensy bit, keeping up my walking program. Bless his heart, DJ's son sent us 5 boxes of Fannie May Candies though--mint meltaways, pixies, trinadads, peanut brittle and a box of assorted chocolates. I'll behave myself and practice portion control--and enjoy every little succulent bite.

Most of my family got together this past Saturday at restaurant near my parent's home. We won't be making the trip back till May or June---especially not with the awful weather they have been having in the Midwest this winter! Not wanting us to be left out, Dad sent a check and in essence, told us to go out for dinner on him. What a wonderful surprise! DJ and I went to our favorite catfish restaurant on Thursday evening. Still would have rather been "home" but that time will come and in better weather for traveling.

I wanted to show you a top that my mom sent me last week. This is the same pattern as her Merkitty Challenge quilt but she made some modifications to get a rectangular quilt for the kids in that case. She and her local quilt group were testing the instructions as a mystery quilt so she had to follow the directions on the first go round, LOL. The green will go better in my house so I get to keep it after I quilt it up. I have since found out the pattern source--one of the free patterns on Connecting Threads called French Blue Medallion Quilt" available in pdf for downloading.

As usual I was scrambling to get my row robin obligation completed by the mailing date of today. I don't mean to put off working on these, I really don't. There is always something else that needs done first. Maybe I just work better when on deadline, I don't know. It was Tuesday before I really got a good start on the hearts--see above, cat on sewing machine table, LOL. Joy is not likely to read my blog so I can share my output with you.

She did not want traditional red or pink colored blocks. These colors will go with that established by the two rows that were done before mine. Kind of odd stitching hearts on Christmas Day listening to holiday music--like, what day is this anyway?? I used the 6 inch foundation pieced patterns found on Ula Lenz' pattern page for most of them--well, the first purple one was supposed to be an inverse color on one half but I just did it all with the WOW background. Three others were from Quilter's Corner Club-- block numbers 2, 3 and 5. Well, I did #1 as well but the color I chose didn't work out as well so it will go in an abandoned block quilt at some point.

The last quilt I am showing you is one that Lois pieced. Itty bitty split nine patch arranged in a ribbon and star set. The block finished at 3.5 inches-- brave girl. I had offered to quilt it for her since that is not really "her thing" but have not gotten to it for a variety of reasons---challenge quilts, mock triple rail top, row robin obligations primarily though. Since it was the last WTIL quilt for the year, I was determined to get it quilted up and by last evening, I did. What fun seeing little bits of backing fabrics and such from the Belles sewing projects as I quilted it! I ran over to Lois' home this morning to get the binding she had prepared for it. Enjoyed a cup of coffee and a chat before I had to run off and do a couple errands before lunch. She has another Chiclet top done and more blocks this size. This picture in no way does it justice and I'll get a better one for you, Lois, once that binding is stitched down. I also stitched up a backing some yardage from my stash---one less piece hanging in the closet) for the mock triple rail and cut the binding for it this evening.

So tomorrow being New Year's Day: on the "Wrap 'Em" list we have held that whatever you do that day you will do all year. No surprise, I'll work on a UFO donation project. NOT my UFO, mind you, but a UFO. Ginny, one of the Bama Belles will be moving to GA soon and had started a Pioneer Braid top for the kids. I'm in the mood for some mindless sewing and this will fill the bill.

I don't even want to count how many UFO's are in the hamper in my sewing room. It is full to the brim. Well, one thing on top is a PIM--the fabric is pulled and the book is with it for a top I have wanted to try for some time. My plan is to pull at least one thing out that hamper a month and get it moved along. We have no immediate goal for delivering quilts to any specific spot so the pressure is off in regards to a time frame. It is possible that I CAN work on some of my own projects this year. My most immediate goals are to get the commissioned t-shirt quilt pieced and the quilts destined to Mexic to Pam quilted up. The Belles will help me with the binding detail, I know. I'll put my mind to that top 10 list--who knows, it might just find a cross out or two this year.

All the best to you and yours in the coming year------

Dec 25, 2007

Merry Christmas


Long, long ago.
In a world dark and cold,
Night so still, winter's chill.
One bright star was shining.
On a bed made of hay, in a manger He lay.
Shepherds came, they knew His name.
King of Kings, a brand new day.

They saw the Light in the darkness
it shines on us in tenderness.
It brings out the hope that's in all of us.
May it shine It's light on you this Christmas Night.

On this Christmas day
May that star light your way
This Christmas Eve , I still believe
That same star still shines on me.

Nativity scene found as a poster HERE

lyrics to "One Bright Star" written by John Barlow Jarvis and performed by Vince Gill on his album "Let There Be Peace on Earth" --a song I have enjoyed listening to this week.
Merry Christmas!

Dec 21, 2007

can I still call myself a quilter?

Well, there is not a speck of quilting or sewing going on around here--can I still call myself a quilter? No stashbusting, no cutting, no quilting that quilt that has been waiting for a month. Early this week I twisted my ankle while on my daily walk. Not the first or last time I will do that to my notoriously weak ankle but fortunately, no bruising or swelling so I have been able to continue with my routine after laying off just one day. BUT it has bothered me to get up and down on my foot initially; once up and moving, I don't notice it. Also it hurts to depress the gas pedal so I figured the sewing machine pedal would be the same.

I have been tracking down and printing off heart block patterns for the row quilt that will need to be tended to, sore ankle or not. I found a file I had of heart links needed updating and augmenting as I worked. Also backed up my saved quilt files and pdf's. That's just planning for the future, not sewing. In my search I tracked down a few patterns for purchase (my husband just lets me do the "spend down" thing for Christmas though there is one package I can open that will be a surprise---easier for him and I get what I want) I also found a couple of patterns that will work well for donation quilt work--still, planning for the future with that, not putting it into practice. The large piece of fabric that you see at left is one that my mom sent as a challenge piece for her and I---maybe the Polar Opposites pattern I found on the South Sea Import Fabrics page would work along with some of the fabrics I used in my version of Merkitty challenge. Now that WOULD be stashbusting when I get around to working on it.

So what's up around here? A lot of knitting actually. My long ago knitting UFO, the collar to be specific. I did the binding off stitches on 6 inches of ribbing for a roll collar first thing yesterday morning. If I were hoping to avoid this "antiquing" any further, I would finish sewing all these pieces together. But will I anytime soon? I love doing Aran patterns and love to knit. Finishing? Not so much. (Note Pippi in her perch all scrunched up by the drafty window--also note the cleaned off dresser so I could put up the ceramic Christmas tree Mom made years ago. All the pinned quilts are stuffed up in my closet for now)

I've been itching to start the new cardigan pattern for a week or two and postponing that desire while I worked on the collar. The pattern I ordered just arrived, the larger double point needles I will need for the sleeves are here and the yarn has been purchased weeks ago so let's have fun for one day anyway!! Can't sew or don't want to sew enough to try it?? Row quilt deadline is the end of the month.

You work this raglan sleeved sweater from the neck on down so I got about 8 rows down from the neck front by bedtime last night. I'm a redhead so I think that the fall colors will look pretty good with my hair plus go with some of my clothing. I tried a "new to me "cast on method by chaining on from a crochet hook rather than the method I learned umpteen years ago. (Mom taught me how to knit when I was almost 13--some 40 years ago) The Denise Interchangeable Knitting needle set was a gift from my parents in my teens or 20's --one the best things I have ever received from anyone. (The computer in 98 from my husband wasn't bad either, LOL. ) Needed, used and will never wear out. (NAYY of course)

As I looked for the link myself sometime back to order replacement needle tips , I found out that they make these in pink now and a portion of the funds go to breast cancer research. Mine is the original blue and replacement cords are not the same color, but that's no biggie. Still fits and works the same as mine. The story of how this present company owners came to the business is fun to read--a search for replacement parts from the original owners found that the business was for sale. They loved the product enough to buy it and become the family business for the last 5 years.

Christmas will be here before we know it. Are you ready? The house is all decorated, the little bit of shopping I did is done, cards are all sent. No holiday baking going on with my watching my food intake but I may mak DJ a pie for Christmas Day and we will indulge in an egg nog latte---only one though. I came home with a bag of Hershey's Almond Kisses when I went for a hair cut at Wally World this morning and DJ asked "should you be eating those?" I told him that I can eat what ever I want but I am chosing to watch it, the doctor did not put me on a diet. I also said that they are small--the ultimate in portion control. A serving size is considered 9 of them but I am sure not doing that!

We will probably go out to see the Christmas lights this evening if the rain holds off but other than that---it is quiet and just us three chickens rambling around the house as usual. Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanzaa, whatever fits at your house------

Dec 16, 2007

surprise packages, donation top and punkin' recipes

A little of this and that---first up the triple rail top that I just finished on Friday evening. I used an Mary Ellen Hopkins pattern of the month from back in August 2000. The plain squares really don't show up as well in my version as you can see the heart at the center really well on hers. Quilt Holder said "this isn't finished" when he was trying to figure out which direction it went, meaning there was no border. It's not getting one--first, because it is a donation quilt top and it is big enough and second, I am not fond of putting on borders in the first place. I cut the side triangles slightly oversized so it has a tiny built in border anyway.

Stashbusting here, though in small bits. About a third of the blocks were leftover from some that Nancy had shared with us but I pieced the rest at the fall sew in---many from the scrap bag or batting bits. Some I swapped with Theramae for a bit more color in both of our tops. When I got down to the last three rows all I had left were blue blocks in various shades so I pieced a few more from the scrap bag. I look at this as being an ongoing project---triple rail blocks and bowties. Both can be assembled once enough blocks are accumulated and make good use of the scraps on hand and the muslin cutaways. I still need to seam the backing fabric and cut binding for this but the quilt group does not meet until the 8th of January so there is no rush to ready it for pinning.

I also wanted to share a couple of surprises that came in the mail yesterday. Veronica read my comment about not having the Santa insert made for my Katrinka Design multi-seasonal banner and whipped one up for me!! Apparently she had the block pieced and just waiting for a use so she said she "couldn't resist" . What a cool surprise! I had taken this wallhanging down so I could display the Mumm Santa but had to at least pin it up on the bedroom door so I could enjoy the new Santa this season! And there was more-----

The little holiday tissue holder was also included. The fabric squares came in a card from Cher . Thanks to them both for their generosity! Isn't it fun to get quilty surprises?

No sewing or quilting going on here. I DO have a top to quilt but figure it can wait one more day. I spent part of the day working on some computer maintenance yesterday. I decided to work on the sweater collar instead . I am currently about half done with it. I decided to go with the roll collar version so it needs to be knit to about 6 inches and then doubled over. Since the whole sweater has been set aside for about 7 years or more, there is no real rush to complete it. Probably going to go to my godchild/niece whenever it is done........

Carol asked about the pumpkin bar recipes I mentioned that I planned on taking to our recent holiday potluck. I actually made a layered pumpkin dessert for the event but will include the recipe for the one I normally would make for pumpkin cheesecake bars. You know how it is--spot one you would like to at least try and make others be the guinea pigs? I have made some changed to the original recipe to reduce the fats if not the calories!

    Layered Pumpkin Dessert
  • 8 individual Hostess Twinkies Snack Cakes (come in a box of 10)

  • 1-8 oz. package Neufchatel cheese -- softened

  • 1 cup powdered sugar

  • 1-8 oz. tub Cool Whip, fat free -- divided use

  • 2-3.4 oz. box vanilla pudding mix -- instant, not cooked type

  • 1-15 oz. can solid pack pumpkin--not pie filling

  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice (original called for 1 1/2 tsp. but that seemed a little much to me)

  • 1 cup lowfat 1% milk

  • Slice Twinkies in half lengthwise and place cream-side up, in single layer in 13x9-inch baking dish. Using a mixer, blend together cream cheese, confectioner’s sugar and ½ of whipped topping until smooth. Spread evenly over Twinkies.

    Combine pudding mix, pumpkin, pumpkin pie spice and milk. Whisk until well blending and layer over cream cheese mixture. Carefully spread remaining whipped topping over pumpkin. Lightly sprinkle with pumpkin pie spice. Refrigerate several hours or until set.

My thoughts were that the pumpkin mix would also be good in a graham cracker crust and either top the filling mix with the pumpkin or the other way around. Probably would be enough for more than one pie. You could mix the cream cheese with sour cream instead of cool whip (as you do for blueberry dessert topping) and it would still be good.

    Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars
    Serves : 48
  • 1-16-oz. box pound cake mix

  • 3 eggs

  • 2 tablespoons butter or margarine, melted

  • 4 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice, divided use

  • 1-8-oz. pkg. cream cheese, softened -- (nuefchatel is okay)

  • 1-14-oz. can sweetened fat free condensed milk -- (not evaporated)

  • 1-16-oz. can solid pack pumpkin, not pie mix

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 1 cup chopped nuts, I prefer pecans

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

    To make the crust:
    In a large mixer bowl on low speed, combine the pound cake mix, 1 egg, melted margarine and 2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice until crumbly. Press into the bottom of a 15 X 10-inch jelly roll pan.

    To make the filling:
    In large mixer bowl, beat the cream cheese until fluffy. Gradually beat in the condensed milk. Add the remaining 2 eggs, pumpkin, remaining 2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice and salt. Mix well.

    Pour over crust and sprinkle with chopped nuts. Bake 30-35 minutes or until set. Cool in the pan and then chill before cutting into bars. Should be stored in the refrigerator.

Source: Unknown, from my files

Dec 12, 2007

Post 1 of 2--challenge quilts and parties

In lieu of our usual 2nd Tuesday meeting, the Bama Belles Quilting Club had our annual Christmas potluck at our friend Judy's lovely home. Last year it was so cold that Judy's husband had lit a fire in the fireplace but not so this year---it was in the mid to high 70's so the windows were open and we enjoyed the living room space instead. We had 14 or 15 of us in one spot. A couple were out of town, another in the hospital so still missing a few but a relaxing time to just visit and enjoy each others company along with some good food. I left pleasantly full--those small bites of everything add up to a full plate. Oh, Carol asked about my pumpkin squares recipe and I will post it in a later post--maybe tomorrow. I actually used a different recipe than I first planned and will post them both, Carol.

Right after we ate and put the food up, we presented Theramae with her friendship quilt. That's her holding the quilt and asking what she had done to deserve this--more like "what hadn't she done?" She is a charter member of the group and a good friend to us all. (Ada, Jane and Rosa are to her right in the picture) after Jane did the official presentation. I just barely got the lovely pillow case that Aline had made to coordinate with the quilt in the shot--a dahlia similiar to one of the blocks in the quilt with blue accents that we used in the quilt for sashing and cornerstones. (Poor Theramae had fallen last week and hit her face on the way down so she looks bit banged up in the picture. )

The quilt full out and not hiding behind that danged plant in my living room. Linda S had told me that she had checked the previous shot on my blog and her block was one that was hiding. This time it won't look so much like stained glass and you can see the machine quilting I added to it.

Okay, on to the Merkitty challenge quilts with thanks again to Kitty in KY from the WTIL yahoo group for sharing the fabric with us. There will be a couple more at some point but these were the ones shared yesterday and I have them in two posts since I had so many pics to upload. First up, Aline---the appliqued cat shape is one that her husband had used to make a clock in the past. I think it lent itself well to the theme of the quilt--sort of like the "gingham dog and calico cat" of years past?

This is Lois' completed quilt---I showed you the top in a post from last month. She quilted in a wave pattern, free motion, I think. Perhaps you can see the blue fish fabric she used a little better this time and the blue and purple turtles on the green? When asked what the pattern was, Lois said that she didn't remember but she would think twice about using it again. Turns out that it told her cut those white sections as half square triangles when they SHOULD have been quarter square triangles to control the bias edge. (I'm going to look in BlockBase and see if I can find it though) Looks like she made a pretty quilt in spite of the challenges, right?

Excuse the pins on this one that Beverly made. I send links on to the group that I think that they might be interested in since we all are trying to come up with ideas of how to use our stash. Kairle's tutorial on string piecing was one such sites. (Strip Twist from, I think?) Beverly sashed hers between the blocks and used planned fabrics but same technique. (Her feet and hand peaking out and Lois' arm, LOL)

Stay tuned for post 2 of 2

post 2 of 2--Challenge quilts continued

continued from earlier post----

Linda S showing her quilt called she named "Bubbles". The Merkitties print had small bubbles in the print. Linda has made several quilts that incorporate ragging techniques. She also shared two quilts that will be given as Christmas gifts. I have pics of those as well but will save them for another post.

Jane and Sarah (her mom) teamed up for this top which I may have posted on the blog before. The "rule" was that I needed to see at least a square inch of kitty fabric. It meets the criteria--third row, 1st block on the left. I think this one is a bit like an "I spy" with fun things and various blocks incorporated into the quilt.

Another Jane and Sarah quilt but this time with larger sections of kitty fabric. I love the pink and green frog print that she used. The pink tone on tone is the same print I used in my quilt top, actually. Since it was used on a previous quilt back, Sarah may have used the cutaways from that in this top. I'll have to ask her. She is a whiz on not letting bits and pieces of fabric OR batting go to waste.

I may have posted this one before as well. My mom made this one and mailed it down to me several months back. Not sure of the pattern source but I love this idea of framing a focus fabric like this. When she reads this, she will let me know if there is some spot to direct you to or if it was her own design.

And bringing up the rear, here is my top. Pattern: Jacob's Elevator from Trudie Hughes Crib Quilts though I made modifications as I have written about in previous posts. This was a "stashbuster" quilt though the blue Moda Marble was purchased specifically for the project. Having only a half yard of challenge fabric to work with and it was fussy cut at that, I needed more of a blue as close as I could come to it. The pink was leftover from a quilt back. My cream on cream background and the lime green leaf print were pulled off the shelf. I used the same background fabric for a recent row quilt and just barely had enough to eke out the top and I almost had to piece some of it together to be sure I had enough. Don't look too close at the points where they join--I can do better.

One of the girls said that we should learn how to make this one. I thought about that last night a bit (one of those nights where I was awake for about 2-3 hrs in the middle of it) Since there are 3 or 4 divisions of block components rather than true blocks, we could do this as a non-mystery, mystery next year rather than "block of the month" thing. One month, make 48 four patches and the next month, puss in the corners and so on. Think it might work out. I'll run it by them and let them make their fabric selections if interested. Also, it should take us up to time to do another challenge!

Dec 10, 2007

Monday, Monday.......

Hurray! My challenge quilt top is finished as of last evening when I finished the borders. My piecing abilities were sorely tested on this one with lots of points to match where the geese points and square in a square met. Challenging mostly because the flying geese were just a hair off in size but I was beginning to wonder if I could piece a 4 patch correctly too. *SIGH* Lots of un-sewing and realignment attempts. You try to do your best work on any project and I know I can do better. Be kind when you see the pics, please? I want to post the challenge quilts as a group after our party tomorrow.

So instead, here is Pippi thinking that she can get up on the shelf where she used to squeeze on top of those three baskets. Sorry, Kitty, that ship has sailed, LOL. It was all cleaned off that she could have gotten on any of them when she wasn't interested in climbing up there. Obviously, the quilt shop yard sales and such have filled it all in again and some serious stash busting will be needed. (Finn, your quilt top is up there as I tracked down the print I need for a border from my stash---it will be one of the first ones pinned for 08) She thought she MIGHT park on the sweater parts instead but moved on. I really need to dust and just generally clean house but it will wait a day or two.

Mostly I have been busy piecing my quilt top since I last posted. DJ is waiting for a haircut, more sandwiches for lunch to spare the cooking time and so forth. I got my walking in this morning followed by 7 other stops to run errands.

Now I'm headed to the kitchen to make my contributions to the Christmas potluck--pecan pie squares and a layered pumpkin dessert that sounded interesting. The heck with watching calories for one day anyway.

Pam wanted to see a picture of our tree. I like the white lights and DJ put on the little red bows. I don't think you will be able to see the ornaments necessarily---we have several ceramic mice and snowmen/snowwomen ones that my mom made years ago that HAVE to go on the tree. Some soft ones are down on the bottom if Pippi wants to bat at them but mostly she has just ignored the whole deal. Time was, she would run off with a different soft ornament and I would find them laying in the hallway when I got up in the morning. (Like delivering dead critters to her mama, I guess, but only getting half way there with the spoils?) The tree skirt was made by my mom too.

I have hopes of starting my Christmas cards today too---DJ mailed all his days ago, LOL--while I was sewing. Just to boost my sewing confidence I want to finish up my triple rail top this week followed by quilting the last WTIL top for 07. I'll do a few rows on the sweater neckband along the way too--pickup work. A row robin obligation (hearts of some form or another) will follow and then the commissioned t-shirt quilt to prep and piece. That's the plan at this point.

Dec 5, 2007

checking in

Best laid plans are subject to change. I had intended for a week or so to get that last WTIL quilt in the stack quilted---it didn't happen. SO challenge quilt first and then close out the 07 year of donation quilt work.

What intervened? Well, the last couple of years other than the nativity set being put out and DJ adding lights to the cedar tree outside, I have not decorated for the holidays. Much of my previous decorating surfaces is no longer available for various reasons so I couldn't go all out even if I wanted to. Which I didn't..........

Then DJ was looking through a sales flyer and found a reasonably priced 6 foot artificial tree and bought one as a surprise for me on Friday. We decorated it that afternoon. I spent the rest of the afternoon putting other things up and going through the boxes to see what we could get rid of. I was horrified to find out both of my snow globes had lost their liquid and one was still dripping---my good Dept. 56 one that had been a gift and I don't think I can replace, gone. The other was a department store promotional one for 2000--cute but not so emotionally attached. Which strands of lights work and which don't? Why are keeping this stuff? I was able to combine two boxes and hope DJ can do the same with the inside and outside lights.

I am showing the two little quilts that are on display. The one above is a "take off" on a Tonee White angel quilt from "Appliquilt for Christmas" The golfing friend's wife and I started this on one of their visits. I enlarged it a bit and probably scaled the angels down a bit in size so I could add the line from "It's a Wonderful Life"----did the little girl say "his" or "its" wings? I recorded the last part of the movie and listened to it repeatedly before I did the stitching. I heard it as "his"

The other wall hanging is up in the spot usually reserved for my Katrinka Designs "Multi-seasonal Banner"--never did get the Santa insert done for that thing, and should. This Debbie Mumm Santa that Joy and I worked on together is up instead. As I look at this, I am reminded on our day of sewing together as well as her being my secret pal "gifter" that year--some of the fabrics in the pieced border are gifts from her. The ornament he is holding is a hand painted one from a friend in Bloomington, IL and my former quilt guild, now deceased. I also have a little wreath up on my sewing room door that Carolyn had made. Gifted quilter and gifted artist.

I have a Christmas log cabin quilt top completed and even pinned but obviously, not gracing my bed--still waiting to be quilted and antiquing up in the closet. SIGH, maybe next year. This is Pippi's "new" napping spot. She had ignored her wool throw for weeks when it was sitting on the pressing/cutting table but throw it on the bed when she had decided the pillows were the place to be and she is all over it, LOL. I picked this woven throw at the Amana Colonies years ago when DJ and I took a little mini-vacation there.

I do have hopes of working on my own version of the Oxmoor House BOM though this year. After all, I finished one last year for my friend Betsy at her family's request after she passed away. The picture shows the top though I think I have one after I finished the binding and it came back from the long armer. This was the second one she had worked on and I knew she was making substitutions in blocks from those in the project bag. It was not going to be an exact replica of the one that went to her other son. I redesigned it to fit in those blocks. I did the same for my own quilt, long set aside.

Which brings me to the next deterrent to sewing this past weekend--- Jane had given us tickets to the lodge pancake tickets and she and her mom were at the event when we arrived. She said a couple of the girls were going over to the Birmingham area quilt shop to their Christmas open house and they had room in the car if I wanted to go. Miss a day of shopping with the girls? My low back and right knee were expressing dissatisfaction with me and I had already decided to lay off a day of walking. What time are you leaving and were do we meet?

The shop Heart to Heart was featuring their HQ proquilting machine and was doing some hands on, door prizes, goodies and so forth. I got a few 30's fats, one pattern, the quilt sampler magazine for my collection. I even found some little glass bulbs to put on reindeer antlers, a block that I had included in Betsy's quilt though I used something else for hers.

Then the girls wanted to run down to Knit and Stitch in the same strip mall. I didn't even know there was one down there---let's go! Oh, the yarns were so pretty. Aline got some floss to start some redwork Sunbonnet Sue's from an Aunt Martha transfer but I was more fascinated with the sweater that one of the women was working on. A cardigan #9725 from Knitting Pure and Simple that was knit from the neck down and without sewing sections together. On display in cool variegated yard was the pullover version #9724 yarn. I got them both--only one was in stock but the owner will mail the other one when it comes in. Turns out that is the same pullover pattern that Cher used on one she made. We lost them temporarily while Aline and I paid for our purchases--they had run into the Sew Bizz shop a couple of doors down. Turns out they service and sell Brother machines and parts which is good to know as an owner of same. Terry found some fabric she wanted there. (She also insisted that we stop at a garage sale coming and going--to each their own) Lunch at Cracker Barrel and home around 4.

I found a Coats and Clarks yarn at Wal-mart the next day in fall colors that will look good with my auburn hair but not enough skeins so I ran up to the supercenter north of us and got the rest. Since the whole thing is knit on a combination of double point needles circular needles I thought I was good to go. Yikes, I was missing the #9 points from my Denise Interchangeable Knitting set I had received as a long ago Christmas gift from my parents but thankfully, the company has been sold from the original makers of the item. The new team have a website rather than the ancient address I had on file with the kit and sell replacement points and cables. I also found out that the largest sized double points I had were 8's. Found an online supplier for those since Wal-mart only had straight needles. After the fact, I remembered that I could have probably drove down to Hobby Lobby some 15 miles from the house to see if they possibly had any. Oh, well!

I wanted to knit, doggone it! I thought about the ancient knitting UFO I had--a pullover Aran knit that probably won't even fit it has been sitting for so long. It might fit my niece though. I hate sewing these sections together. That and time factors is what was holding this up---one stinkin' shoulder seam, really. Someone, somewhere (Pam?) suggested that I just join it with the sewing machine--a little hard to feed on my contrary machine but it worked. I picked up the neck stitches and have a couple rows done for pickup work, TV time with DJ. I probably won't get it done in time for Christmas but maybe her birthday. A little progress anyway. I had also started an Aran cardigan a couple years ago--the back is done and a bit of one front--as a carry along project on a plane trip. No shortage of things I can work on when the mood strikes.

Monday I spent the morning doing the calculations on what I needed to cut for my merkitties project. I did some re-designing on the corner units first since I noticed that there was an easier way to piece them then I had it in the original drawing. Once it was straight in my head, I cut it out and stitched up the strip sets. The design requires big flying geese units so I'll use the no waste four at once method there. Another part, some diagonal corners for the fill in parts. I did the Puss in the Corners and half Puss in the Corner's yesterday and I'll do a pile of 4 patches today and move on to the square in the squares if I have time. Some progress on that then before the Dec. 10th deadline. Thank heavens, this is not a huge quilt, LOL.

Well, that's how it goes around here. I think it has warmed up sufficiently to get dressed and head to the walking trail. Sun's out, breeze is blowing but up to 48 degrees so should not have to bundle up too much. I just got some thermal underwear that I could have used three days ago but I am just as happy not to have to use them.

Nov 29, 2007

this and that

I have been keeping busy but not necessarily with quilting stuff. Tuesday the quilt group met and I did sit down to make a few more triple rail blocks from some backing cutaways. I call 'em basketweave blocks--is either correct? Either way, I got this much of them assembled while I was there. I am using the set up from Mary Ellen Hopkins old BOM for "Mock Triple Rails and Squares" with the plain squares forming a heart shape at center if you can see that in the print out. Theramae and I were stitching these blocks at the sew-in but her top is done and the girls pinned it along with several others.

Two more of the Merkitty challenge tops were done and I did take pics of them but will wait to share those till after the Christmas party. A piece of backing fabric that Mom sent recently was perfect for the back of Beverly's top--the pink and blue splotchy one, Mom. I stopped sewing my triple rail in order to piece it together for her since I had the only machine set up. Lois bailed me out with a needle though when I broke mine with about 12 inches to seam. I had left my extras at home though I had all my other sewing supplies with me. Reminder: put a pack or two in the carry along basket too, not just in the wound bobbin container. Theramae had two quilts to turn in--one snuggle up and another scrappy cut squares so a few pictures to take as well. Pat worked on binding on the one of the tops I recently quilted keeping me company while I stitched. Theramae will finish that one up at home while Lois took the 2nd top home to do the honors since I am machine quilting one of her tops for her.

Beverly's DIL is a beginner quilter and had a top to pin that she hopes to tie. She has begun sewing nine patch blocks and is going to be a meticulous piecer, I can tell. She needed a little help in how to cut (left-handed) as she had been using purchased cut squares for her project. I really enjoyed her enthusiasm and of course, we are all willing to share what we have learned over the years.

Several of us ran out for a light lunch at a bakery down the street and brought it back to join the others who had carried theirs in. I didn't realize that they served some breakfast items and had soup, salad and sandwich items that you could eat in or carry out. It smelled heavenly in there--like cinnamon and yeast bread. Beverly commented that she probably gained 5 lbs. just sniffing the aromas of the bakery items, LOL. I think we might run down there in January as a group for lunch. The girls sounded interested.

I spent the rest of Tuesday evening messing with some recipe files on the computer and most of the day yesterday between wash loads and meal prep. Actually what I fixed for supper was trying to replicate the chicken tortilla soup that the girls ordered at the bakery that looked and tasted so good. Inspiration comes from all sources. Perfect for a chilly evening.

This is what started a cleaning rampage yesterday morning. DJ had bought a hamper like this a few months back. It is so much easier to just roll the whole danged thing into the laundry room to sort the clothes than pull everything out of the hamper, load it into a clothes basket and handle it all over again in the laundry room. I had considered buying one for months and mentioned it again. DJ kidded me about just keeping it in the "mulling over" stage. But about similtaneously, it occured to us to see if it might work while both hampers were empty.

Okay, it fit in that spot nicely and access to the closet next to it would not be so limited. It doesn't stick out like my odd shaped, corner- intended woven onedoes. It would alllow me empty out the kits and UFOs from the small basket at the foot of the cutting table and the picnic basket stuffed with the same thing from under the table. Then the tub of Christmas fabrics can go under the table instead of sitting in front of the closet door. This might work. Pippi can launch herself up from the floor to her water bowl and window perch from the hamper, surely. (Said objects showed parked near the kitchen and removal from the house. )

Let the shifting stuff around begin! Out came the vacuum and now the old hamper is stuffed to the gills with the kits and UFOs that obviously I need to consider sewing up. Most of them are things that will go for donation quilts which makes for even more reason to do something with them. Not doing a child any good stuffed in a ziploc bag.

This is by no means, all that I have on hand either. I've got a stack of 12 pizza type boxes on the book shelf and there are about more in the sewing room closet and a basket that sits near my machine with 5 more pressing projects in it. At this rate I should never, ever leave this house at this rate and sew every available minute of my life, LOL. Or at the very least not start something new at the drop of a hat---but where is the fun in that? Sometimes sewing something new with some recently purchased fabric is what gets the quilting fire stoked again. Or combining fabrics from your stash with the color or print that combo was missing might get you off and running in another tangent.
So anyway, here we go---the "what lies beneath" all straightened up. A spot for the Christmas fabric now with room for some of the "yard sale" backing fabrics for a couple months back, 30's print tubs, pastels for another project, yellows, brights Actually have 30's fabrics in two other spots and it should all be combined but where would I put the tub???

The other three containers of yardage go up and down. I know what is in there as I visit them often. Some of it is large pieces of several yardages that a friend shared with the Belles for future challenge quilts so it is not going anywhere soon but it has to go somewhere in the meantime. The serger that I occasionally need and the paper shredder still fit along with my meeting tote bag and another pizza box of completed blocks. I squeezed in that bolt of muslin along the basket. Extra pizza boxes and bags with handles went in the space between the table legs and wall. I sew in an 10 x 10 bedroom so you have to use every inch of space to the max. You do what you have to do.

These cool mornings means waiting a bit to go walk. The problem with that is I get busy with something else and then don't want to stop what I am doing to get my exercise in. I prefer the summer routine of getting dressed and going out to do it before the day intervenes. Also I usually don't eat before I walk --feel sluggish when I do and don't physically feel like eating when I first get up anyway. I can see that a plan of action needs to be worked out a little better if I am going out after 8:30 and hope to keep my enthusiasm for exercise up. The minute that I don't make it a priority and start thinking of everything else I have planned for the day, it becomes a chore and making myself walk an extra lap just becomes drudgery. Having said that, the temp is now up to 41, sun is shining, looks like I don't have to scrap the car windows now-- I can dress for that. Off I go. I'll be quilting this afternoon and hope you have a good day too. Thanks for stopping by----

Nov 23, 2007

Checking in

I hope those of you in the States enjoyed a wonderful Thanksgiving yesterday. It was a quiet day here though we had our main meal at noon, freeing up my afternoon to finish up the quilting on a top I had been working on. We had had turkey breast and trimmings not too long ago so I fixed ham instead and tried to watch my portion sizes and no second helpings. I did enjoy every bit of that pumpkin pie though! Somehow when it takes 10 laps (almost 3 miles) around the park to burn off a dessert, it makes me think twice about overindulging but hey, it was a holiday.

I have had these pictures in the camera for a few days but really have not been online or on the computer much this past week. You can probably see the lake that is catty corner from our house in this shot. I love these Bradford pear trees at the end of our lane at the entrance to the nearby subdivision. Gorgeous in the spring with the white blooms, nice green leaves in the summer and then stunning color in the fall. Since we mainly have bushes on our own property, I sorta think of these as "ours" even though they aren't, really.

Wednesday afternoon we heard the screeching of tires and a car heading the opposite direction of the one you see pictured had to swerve to avoid a woman who pulled out of the side road near the lake---a blind spot really and there have been accidents there before and near misses. The young man wound up in the culvert near the base of the tree just out of camera range--no one hurt but it probably didn't do his front axle much good. They had to close off the road for a bit to allow the wrecker guy to haul it up and out.

Another shot of the rows of trees at the subdivision entrance---just to the right is our lane. BUT the "tree assasins" have been out working in our end of the county for the past three weeks and finally made over to our immediate area. (Asplundh contractors for the power company--we had the same company in IL and called them the same thing so maybe they are all over?) Some trees have been literally trimmed in half at the top to avoid the power lines and just look lopsided. The last row of Bradford pears bit the dust as they finally grew tall enough to have the power line run right down the middle of them. (See below?)

I am just sick about this and the people in the subdivison probably are as well. Late this summer they were also about to cut down some 75 year old pecan trees in the town north of us but that is being held up in a court case. One of those situations were the homeowner was about to chain herself to the trees to keep them from annihilating her trees and seeking legal recourse against the power company.

This is one from our own yard. Color is off a bit though as our house is a grayed-green with gold accent trim. I rather like this shade better, LOL--not fond of the green.

As I said, I have been quilting a good bit this week. When I last posted several of the Bama Belles and I had gotten together to assemble a friendship/appreciation quilt for one of our members. Saturday Jane, Sarah and I went over to Aline's to pin said top and I had volunteered to quilt it. (see below? who knows where this stuff will land on the page though)

I was finished with it by Monday afternoon and really should have had DJ close the door behind him before I took the picture---I kinda like the stained glass effect but you can't see the quilting very well. Plus I think you can see a husband outline a bit, LOL and that danged overgrown plant of DJ's is blocking some of the blocks. Jane has it now to finish the binding so it will definitely be done in time for the presentation at the Christmas party next month. I'll get a better picture once it all done.

I also did a little friendship star top that Joy had donated and my own Puss in the Corner top--both will be going to WTIL headquarters once they are completed. I guess I didn't take a picture of the PIC once the top was done but it looks much like the EQ sketch and was made from the challenge box of scraps that Ellen sent out. Only appropriate that it return to her as something usable, right? I have one more to do--a watercolor Split Nine Patch that Lois made from her scrap basket. I love it! The blocks finish at 3 3/4 inch. She did a wonderful job on it and I can't wait to share it once the pins are out. The quilt group meets on Tuesday so I can pass these on for binding and move onto the next project.

After the quilting is finished it will be my Merkitties Challenge top. Only been thinking about it since August, after all. I look forward to some piecing. Commissioned t-shirt quilt right after that. Meanwhile, I have put a few rows of knitting in my headband for walking purposes---about half done. When Pippi would not get off a quilt top I thought I was going to bind the other night I even did a bit of bluework on my snowman project--still stuck in October there. Got a small spot to fix in one of my jackets before I forget it is there again---more handwork.

Speaking of Pippi, she has decided that she does not like her dry cat food anymore. A few days of really not eating had me worried sick--were her kidney levels labs bad again like this summer when she wasn't eating? Or was she just being finicky? A test before I drug her in for repeat lab though. Since she would scarf down a bite of contraband canned food, I had DJ pick up a canned version of her prescription diet at the vets early in the week. Thankfully, she seems to like it and is eating again. It is pricey and smells awful but if she is eating and avoiding 4 days of IV therapy, I say, go for it. Here is her "new" favorite spot--smart girl as she is right smack dab on the softer of the two pillows. You probably cannot tell just how much weight she has lost from the pictures as I should have turned on an overhead light but she is really bony.

Well, that rip is not going to fix itself so off I go----

Nov 16, 2007

Friday check in time

Another week as flown on by, just about. Early part of the week I was busily working on finishing up my row robin obligation and was able to get it mailed out on Wednesday as planned. The next one, hearts this time, arrived today. Sorry no pictures.

The quilt at left is one that Joy made--Twisting Star with an alternating Snowball block. I think it might be the first one she quilted with the Nolting set up that she has. The quilt group met on Tuesday but we arrived to find the pastor's wife and two of the church members setting up for an early Thanksgiving dinner. Turns out that the girls cottage that the church has "adopted" were invited along with their adult leaders and the director of the Presbyterian Home for Children. Since I had 16 quilts to deliver to that same facility, I arranged to leave the quilts in the closet and have them take them home with them. The pastor asked me if I wanted to come to the dinner as well to present them to the group but I passed. The church had early Christmas gift bags for them and I didn't want to interfere with that as we had not meant the quilts to be "Christmas" gifts---just part of a regular donation we make to the facility.

One of the Belles told me today that her brother-in-law had attended the dinner though. He commented about how excited the girls were about the quilts and how much they loved the brighter colored ones. There were a few "boy" quilts in the mix as well for them to set aside. I've been smiling all day after hearing that.

Trying to stay out of the way of the decorators, we set up our pinning table for three tops, had lunch and left early. The top pictured is Lois' Merkitties Challenge--Aline had her top done as well but I didn't get a pic of it. Lois used a blue print with little fishes and bubbles on it and the small print squares in green have turtles on it--inspired! I love how these are turning out. Mine is on tap as soon as I quilt three WTIL tops and that aforementioned friendship quilt.

We got sort of delegated to the kitchen area at the meeting though. I guess no one checked to see that it was our meeting date---or whatever they did took precedence. We couldn't have sewn if we wanted to since access to the tables and plug-ins was out. I knew that a few of the girls were not going to be able to make it the meeting so that might have been okay. Actually it was almost easily that one person in particular was NOT coming as we have a friendship/appreciation quilt planned for her and it made it easier to lay out the turned in blocks and make some decisions about sashing colors, etc and see how many more we might need.

Since I had been so bogged down with the row robin, I had pulled out a pretty basket block I had made some time back. Yesterday though, I whipped up these two blocks---both had "Friendship" in their name so I thought it was appropriate. The green is a 30's repro from my stash with little spools and tomato pincushions on it. The T block (for Theramae) used some leftover BOM stuff and a piece I had gotten at the "yard sale" in September.

6 of us met today at our friend Betsy's house to assemble the top. Of course we had the usual block switching up till we all were satisfied about the way it looked. Then the search was on for a enough and an appropriate color for the sashing---Betsy pulled something from her stash that contrasted nicely with the cornerstone fabric while Aline provided the backing. Since we had 20 blocks for a 4 x 5 set, I was able to calculate how many cuts to make. I like to presash the blocks rather than sew long rows of sashing and corner stones to long rows of blocks so led that way, instruction-wise while Jane and Betsy cut. We had five machines set up so the initial plan was to each take a row and then work on joining them. Aline and Betsy worked on joining the rows while Jane seamed the back, Sarah seamed the batting and I cut and sewed the binding. We'll pin it tomorrow morning. We had a little potluck lunch and lots of chatting. A friend from the JOY group came by in the morning and one of the Belles who is busy building a new home about 5 miles from Betsy came by after lunch with pictures of her new grandson Brodie.

The drive over to Betsy's was lovely as you go through a pass through the foothills---in spite of the drought we have been experiencing this year we now have a good bit of fall color, more than we expected. Cold and frosty this morning though and as white as I want to see the ground around here, LOL. I don't care if I never see another flake of snow being from the north originally. Because of my mid-morning obligation, I could not wait till later to get in my walking and got the day off from my routine. It happens.

Guess that's it for now----

Nov 10, 2007

contrasts in style

At left my wedding quilt---Mom had started this top as a pass around project with the small quilt group in her town. I believe it was in the late 90's as I made a couple blocks for her after we moved south to Alabama. Not being able to find the pattern name or source, we named it "Fall City Baskets" after the one we saw in an antique store while visiting my grandmother who lived in Fall City, Nebraska at the time.

I have probably told you this story before but my husband and I were a couple for a very, very long time before we got married--one of those "are you sitting down?" moments when informing my parents. This top went to the hand quilters soon after my call. When we traveled back to Illinois to visit some months later, my family gave us a wedding reception and we were presented with the quilt and a trip to Sea Palms Resort on St. Simon's Island, GA. What fun! I love the quilt as it uses my beloved 30's prints, some real ones and repros. Mom has since replicated the quilt for herself--only fair since she gave us the original one.

So what should I see at the quilt show a couple of weeks ago? This one---wider handle, less "petals" in the arc. I believe that the owner/maker? said that the pattern was found in a magazine. Close but not quite it. Mom drafted hers up from the picture of the one we saw so that might account for some of the variances. While I like the scrappiness of the one at the show (and I am a nut for yellow fabric), I think mine is prettier and not as clunky looking.

I haven't even touched the machine in two days. I guess I have still found a way to wait till almost the last minute to work on that round robin after all. Two blocks are done, one is just barely started and I need 5 of them.

So what have I been doing instead? A big chunk of one day was spent getting an upgraded tracfone coded in over the phone and then adding the phonebook to it while deleting the numbers from the old phone. I guess the system in my area is switching from the old analog type and that would render the old phone useless. I didn't have to pay for it except for the time involvement. I kept messing up the text for the names and it was taking way longer than it should have to teach this old broad some new tricks.

Yesterday it was uploading some CDs into my music software and re-loading the MP3 player--twice. Danged error messages were messing up the works and only half of what I wanted got added due to some snafu or another. How could I upload to their software and it not recognize the format I used??? Annoying and again, time consuming.

What I DID get done instead while I watched the computer screens was some more knitting rounds on my headband tube to cover my ears while I walk (the ear muffs are pinchy and my hat makes my head sweat too much). I think I am about halfway there. I told Cher the other day that I would be lucky to have the thing done by spring but perhaps that was an exaggeration, LOL. Great ambitions to knit up some mittens from the same "Lipstick" Red Heart yarn---now that probably WOULD take till spring. DJ said I could make him some new headcovers from that pretty yarn---yeah, right! Two sets of those was enough, thank you very much.

On the trying to get fit front, this week I've added an afternoon stroll up and down our little lane a couple of times--a bit of an incline on both ends to boost the calorie burn but still haven't started my strength training though I have my ducks in a row. Definitely getting the 10, 000 steps thing in--more, if I have errands to run. I sometimes add an extra lap around the park as I did this morning making it 3.08 miles. My neighbor's are having a garage sale and have a bike for sale---I have considered it but then think of the added expense of a helmet, bike rack and probably will pass especially since I won't even get on DJ's exercise bike and pedal to nowhere. Keep walking for now.

So back to the machine with me and some stuff I have taped on the DVR--have my own little "Cold Case" and "Without a Trace" marathon this weekend.

Nov 7, 2007

more quilt show pictures

More pictures from the recent quilt show I attended since I still don't have anything of my own to share. Still plugging on my row robin blocks but none to speedily. Errands, haircut, home duties, etc have taken a chunk out of the last two days but that's the way it goes.

So without further ado I hope you enjoy these--I sure did, LOL. I've got one more I might show as a contrast to one that I own but in a later post................

A Thimbleberries BOM, don't you think? Maker not notated.

Another of my friend Aline's quilts--made for her former DIL with colors picked by her granddaughter

This one was made by an Anniston (AL) quilter from a quilt group that meets across the street from us, if I remember correctly.

Aline's Mystery Quilt, 2007 edition

Fleeta's Mystery quilt, 2006 edition (Bama Belle)

Maker not noted but I love the set on this sampler

Another one I admired

This one was from a magazine---maybe APQ? Maker not known to me.

Rosa's quilt for her son (Bama Belle)

Old String quilt---shown by Gary and Betsy's daughter Susie