Aug 30, 2008

checking in on a Saturday

I know, I know--I have not really been online all week but I have been busy elsewhere. Doing what? Mostly sewing on the t-shirt quilt and tending to things around the house. Boring, I know but it keeps me out of mischief.

Here is a picture I took the other day of my two guys. Skyler is known to suddenly appear on the window ledge when I am getting things out of the refrigerator to prepare a meal--usually with a full throated meow. Kitty version of a lion's roar, I guess. Once I get in cooking position he opts for getting underfoot and does his best "pathetic" meow in hopes he will get a handout. My home from a slightly different angle as well.

The commissioned t-shirt top is done as off early Friday afternoon. I had 6 more blocks made that will not fit on the front--it is about 92 x 95 before a small border was added so I worked up a design to incorporate them into the back. I am just about done with it as of this afternoon using up all the white on white I was given for this plus what I had leftover from the LAST t-shirt quilt. I also used up the remaining yardage of the black and all but the odds and ends of the polka dots----and I still need something for a top and bottom borders on it to get it up to size for the long arm quilter. I am not sure that I have anything on hand to use for it but boy, was I stashbusting! At this point I am debating about taking the back up "as is" The shop that commissioned it may have something that can be used or can get it easier than me plus they were not expecting like , TWO tops anyway. I have some leftover hot pink from a previous project that might work--if I have enough of it.

DJ called me out to the utility room a couple days ago to see this little creature hanging on the screen. Some sort of bat. He kept telling me to get a picture of it though I sure didn't want to risk it deciding to fly into me. I had to take something out to the car or I might not have gone out in the first place. My suggestion that HE take the danged picture was falling on deaf ears, LOL.

The Belles met on Tuesday and I do have a couple of picture to share so I will post those later. Just 4 of us there so we pinned a bit--a few personal projects mostly. We did go out to Olive Garden for lunch--I messed up their plans two weeks ago in that regard.

At the meeting I marked a railroad crossing top that my mom had given me and intend to hand quilt a motif in the plain squares. I'll lock in the blocks with some SID first though but I look forward to starting on this---it will be a couch quilt for DJ though I think it might be pushing it for him to expect it to be done by Christmas or our late January anniversary. One of the girls wants me to show her how to hand quilt so I will trace off a block for her to practice on and probably be working on this top myself.

We are watching with a lot of interest the track of Hurricane Gustav. Tropical Storm Fay brought us some much needed rain---8 inches of rain in our gauge over a 3 day span of time and according to the paper, we are back up to our average rainfall totals for the year now. Good new after the drought years. Depending on where this next one comes in, we might be in for more. There were about 8 tornadoes in Alabama on Monday though--one F-1 hit in the eastern part of the county near where DJ plays golf. He had just left there about 2 hours earlier in the day actually.

Just not a lot happening around here to share with you----some week's are like that, I guess. Life isn't always a thrill a minute, is it?

Aug 19, 2008

this and that

Obviously something outside, possibly the neighbor across the lane's dog or a bird flitting by, has attracted Skyler attention. He has developed quite a fascination for the bathroom sink when you run water or brush your teeth but no way can I get a picture of him doing that. Moves too quickly. If not for his rapt attention to whatever it was outside, I would not have gotten this shot, LOL.

A little of this and that going on since my last post. Mostly spent finishing up the binding on the commissioned T-shirt quilt. I know--boring! I took the last stitch in it Saturday evening--big woo hoo there. Still trying to make connections with the owner for delivery or pickup.

When I got my haircut the other day, my neighbor/hairdresser said to come on over and get some apples from one of the trees that was bearing. They are small and the skins are blemished but I didn't find any worms in them at all. I must have peeled and chopped those things for over a hour and half yesterday morning but boy, did we get some good applesauce that I cooked up in the crockpot.

This morning I got to walk for the first time in two weeks. I only went 2 miles rather than my customary 3.3 but I didn't know how I would do wearing my walking shoes and the uneven terrain of the park. They had just spread some new gravel to fill in the rain washed out areas and not too evenly at that. I managed fine though the foot was squawking a bit by the time I was done. I plan to keep adding a lap a day to get back up to where I was provided I don't have any increase in pain. I was at the MD's on Friday on an unrelated manner and he offered to x-ray the banged up tow but I didn't think that would be necessary. Yeah, it is a bit sore with shoes on but I know from my 12 years in a podiatry practice what little bit would be done if it WAS fractured. I'll live and don't think I need a surgical shoe.

Which brings me up to the next subject, a frozen banana fell out of the freezer last night and almost hit the same sad little toe. Since I had about 7 of them in there, I decided to use up the last of the buttermilk and half of those bananas make a banana oatmeal cake this morning. It smells wonderful at my house though I did warm up the kitchen a bit making it. (Air won't go on till at least 1030 or 11---the annual summer gripe from me). Caramel frosting will be made once it cools but I will use the tried and true one recipe from the Cake Mix Doctor for that. I love to cook and bake when I have time. Don't need to be eating much of it but it will freeze---just like the surplus applesauce.

At right (and above) the next t-shirt quilt. It will be one of those 3-D appearing ones like the last one. The polka dot stuff is what the family wanted used but it will be tempered down as the frames around the shirt sections. Maybe someone can make some pillowcases of the leftovers for the owner-to-be. Won't be me though, LOL. Fabric content is indeterminate but I am guessing that there is some synthetic in it as it feels and looks a little slick. I'll deal with it as I did with the gingham from last round. Susan sent 4 yds of WOW -- washed and pressed that up on Sunday. I already have the black fabric for the shadows on hand ready to use.

Just for grins and giggles, I am keeping track of the time it takes to make one of these since essentially that is what I am getting paid for on this one. 19 shirts--small to medium sized so less interfacing needed. FYI: I have found that it can range from 10 to 13 yards of the stuff. Took 45 minutes to rough cut them apart with the rotary cutter. Took 4 hours and 40 minutes to cut the interfacing out to rough cut size and fuse them. Next up: square the sections up so I can start the sashing process. Then I will follow the process I outlined in this post for the design process so the shirts float on the background. It all takes time and as for size, it is what it is.

Here is the last one quilted. I am afraid that I cannot get a full out shot of it as it is too big and too heavy to hold up. I won't be at the meeting place for another week to spread it out on the fellowship hall floor so DJ's bed will have to do. Susan did a wonderful job of quilting it. She used little swirls in the picture frames and all over meander between but not through the main figures of the shirts.

This is what I would like to do next after the t-shirt top is done though. I have had this pattern for years---best guess, 97 when we moved in here. I had big plans to make matching kitchen accessories but only got as far as making the curtains. Chair cushions were cut out too so if I really want to be a glutton for punishment I could make them. I still have the fabrics on hand plus others to add to it though I need greens for the job, not blues. Mainly we need a new toaster cover but I had always hoped to make the blender and food processor cover as well. The wallhanging, while cute, is nice but there is no blank wall in my kitchen to hang one anymore.

I still have a list as long as my arm of things I would like to work on for ME. I'll get to them in due time--waited this long, after all so what is a bit longer going to hurt? Norma and I have been talking about doing an Atkinson Design Cheese and Crackers with some of our 30's stash so that probably tops MY list. My mom and some of her quilting friends in Lexington (IL) made one for the Taste of Country Fair quilt raffle and she was given the leftover scraps including some that she had donated to the cause. She is going to box them up and pass them on to me. A head start, I guess.

Guess that cake has had time to cool so unload the dishwasher and make some frosting.

Aug 15, 2008

copy cat!

Pholph's Scrabble Generator

My Scrabble© Score is: 35.
What is your score? Get it here.

Copied from Pat who apparently got it from Mama Koch at Oklahoma Cookie Maker who found it on Susan's Desertsky spot who got it from...........well, you get the picture, LOL. Making the rounds in bloggerland. I think my full name when I tried it only totalled 21 so I guess that Q in quilt really zooms up the numbers!

Me? Still binding that danged t-shirt quilt though I have about 2/3rds of it done.

It looks like I have another t-shirt top on the horizon though. I know, I know I said I wasn't going to do any commission work but this is my choice. My price will be met plus I don't have to worry about quilting or binding it. I really, really want to go to Oregon about this time next year to meet with the FABS so the payout goes in my airfare fund. Thanks to an "out of the blue" check from my parents and my birthday money from DJ, I have some seed money but with airfare being what it is, more will need to be added.

You see, the woman that quilted this one called a couple days ago to ask what I would charge the shop to make a top for one of their clients. 6 months ago Grandma dropped off a sack of shirts with the comment that DGD would be bringing them polka dot fabric (? interesting choice?) to go with them soon. The dots finally showed up. They really like the shadow effect of mine saying it is the prettiest t-shirt quilt they have ever seen. Picture is the post seen HERE. Well, I don't know about that but it is different with the shadow thing instead of just sashed and cornerstoned. This way Susan can keep quilting and she and Joan will not have to worry about making the top themselves. They will box up 5 yards of background fabric with the shirts plus reimburse me for the interfacing and black fabric I use. Even better, there is no big rush as it has waited this long but I would want it moved along and not hanging over my head for too long.

Other than that---my smacked up toe is getting better. I can get my shoes on though it not the most comfortable thing to do. To be fair, I am not all the crazy about wearing shoes in the first place when sock footed works so well, LOL. I think I may be able to try hitting the walking trail again if I can get those shoes on by the weekend. I feel like such a slug when I don't get my walking in. Between another health situation and my toe injury that has been out of the question for almost 12 days now. I do NOT want to become a habit or an excuse not to do what I KNOW I need to do.

Hope you all have a good weekend ahead-----

Aug 11, 2008

why do YOU quilt?

JudyL had some thought provoking questions that I thought I might answer for this post. Follow the link and you can play along too.

1. Why do you quilt?
Because I can. I really enjoy sewing but have no desire to make clothing and do little in the way of home dec stuff. I used to do a bit of both and may again but quilts, it is. I don't garden and I'm a home body so it satisfies my need to create. It allows me to play with colors, designs and try a new pattern or technique I have spotted. Since I make a lot of quilts for children in need, I feel led to quilt.

2. How long have you been quilting?
Since '87 when I took a couple of beginner classes in a smalal town adult ed program from my mom and a friend of hers. The years since I have "retired" have been the most productive though.

3. What made you start quilting? See above, LOL. It was something I had always wanted to try and my mom looked like she was having a good time with it. Rotary cutters and doing template free stuff is the way to fly!

4. What sewing machine do you use mostly for piecing?
Well, I foundation piece with my Viking 500 mostly because I can see what I am doing better and the thing sew a bit tight. Regular piecing? My Brother Innovis-450. Love that needle threader!

5. What machine do you use mostly for quilting? Again, that Viking 500.

6. If you could have any sewing machine you want -- money isn't an issue -- just get anything you want . . what would you get? Probably a short arm Brother just for quilting. I basically just need something to go forwards and backwards.

7. When you buy a sewing machine, how long do you expect you'll keep it? Til a newer and bigger and better model comes out? Til the old one refuses to make another stitch? Definitely till the other one would sew no more. I will be in mourning if that Viking ever gives up the ghost.

8. On a scale of 1 - 10, how much do you love your stash? (10 means you LOVE it! 1 means you'd get rid of it all today if you could!) 8, I would say. There are some color holes that could use plugging but I am in no rush till some of it moves on out of here. Mostly I need backing fabrics as I have a lot of fats and half yards but not a lot of significant yardage./

9. Why do you have the stash? How did it come about? Why is it the size that it is? I have a stash because you have to have something to work with and I have been at this for 21 yrs, after all. People (mostly my mom) know I make donation quilts and I am given stuff from their stash as they weed it out or share. The size? It fits my available space but can't take much more in the way of additions.

10. When we talk about "stashbusting", what are your thoughts? Use every crumb of the stash? Use as much stash as you add? Shop the stash first but don't feel bad if you have to go buy additional fabric for a project? Don't mind buying for a project but not buying just for the purpose of having the fabric . . with no project in mind?
I fall in the shop the stash first and add more if I need a certain color to pull it all together. I have been making row robins for the last three years and that usually means you have to find something that will go with THEIR tastes. I no longer buy much "just to have fabric"--I collect 30's stuff so that might be the only exception but I have personal projects planned for those so it will be used. Buying into the stashbusting concept sort of cures you of buying for buying sake, that and being on a fixed income. That is not to say that I don't love some of the new lines coming out, just that I rarely indulge.

That's it for me. Play along if you are inclined.

Aug 9, 2008

Collinsville Rowers and rows revealed

A lot of pictures to share for the Rowers retreat. I was in such a hurry to get everything, and me, out the door that I forgot to pack my digital camera. I stopped and bought a disposable camera thinking it was better than nothing. Flash wasn't working. GRRRR. Patti spent some time last night uploading pics to an album to share so that helped. First the group shot---the quilt shop also has custom embroidery machines and did up these shirts for us! Stylin', aren't we?

I got up there about 10 and was home by 4:30 electing not to stay over this year but it sure would have been fun to stay on with group. Joy and I don't see near enough of each other since she moved home to Collinsville. We were missing two of the original rowers this time around. In fact, Patti took a picture of the rocker than Kim sets in to hand quilt, newly recovered with her shirt draped over it. They were going to put a sign on it that said "wish you were here, LOL.

Nessa has a chef cooking now so you order off a menu now. They had a few Greek entrees so I had some yummy moussaka and could have had baklava for dessert had I wanted. I had a cupcake instead as I hauled up half of the Magnolia's Chocolate Cupcakes I made the other day to share. The recipe made two dozen plus some I had to put in a muffin top pan! I would have tried the chocolate buttercream recipe but I swear that the proportion of butter to powdered sugar is not right! It needs tons more from the other recipes I have viewed--like tripled, I'm guessing. I opted for the Fluffy Chocolate Frosting in the Cake Mix Doctor instead.

I got sidetracked and had promised you some row pictures---on with the show!
First, my rows--I had sent along the Fon's and Porter booklet for "Christmas Joy" but I certainly did expect the girls to replicate the rows. I am thrilled that they did but it was not mandatory. Two people teamed up for the baskets so they are still loose. One person is a new quilter and opted out. I have not decided if I want to do all the red and white checkboard sashing shown on the pattern as I have some nice Jinny Beyer border fabric in my stash that might work out well. (I made the Poinsettia row )

Next up, Betsy's rows with Betsy telling the story behind the blocks she made---how they managed to wind up in quilters jail. The row I made was in the last post and was not attached to the body of the quilt. Betsy said it will probably be added just before the 2nd row of Elvis blocks since that will balance the quilt better.

Oh, behind the quilts you will spot some Mariner's Compass blocks that some of the group had been doing as a Block of the Month with the patterns coming from Brenda Henning's book. I'll share that picture next time probably with a link to the book as I don't know the name of it at the moment.

Teresa's Christmas rows finished a little long so the girls were having a hard time holding it and had to do it by halves. I pieced the row at the top--trees on both ends and foundation piecing out the letters for "Merry Christmas" The girl loves red, she says! Here's the top part then in pic one and the lower half follows---

Next up Joy's heart rows--she did not necessarily want just a red and pink row that screamed Valentine's Day so you see multicolored hearts. The row I did is the one that Debora is pointing to above the blocks that used heart fabric.

One of the three fall themed quilts--this one is Kim's and will be shown in two sections again. I made the turkey row in this one using an old pattern from Country Threads which I modified so I could foundation piece it. Patty, her SIL had told me this was a good choice because their husband's hunt turkey.

This one is Debora's--and it might seem like deja vu to you as three of the girls used the same center sections but each one did turn out differently. I did the Ozark Maple Leaf row. The turkey block was still in progress but the maker was intent on getting it done by retreat's end if her machine would just behave itself!

Here is Patty's--again in sections. To balance the quilt it was thought best to not attach the rows so the last four rows are shown in the 2nd shot. I did the row of pieced leaves, using a pattern from Judy Martin's Creative Pattern book and modifying it for foundation piecing. I am being too lazy to go get the book but I think it was called Autumn Whisper or some such thing.

And lastly, here is Vangie's quilt with a Mardi Gras to St. Pat's theme. I did the spiky stars using the fabrics that she had included in the pass around box.

I spent my time at the retreat tracing off the Birdbrain Designs "Here Comes Santa" (link in the previous post) and finished up the job except for the itty bitty cornerstone bits once I got home. I need another pigma pen before I attempt to finish up as I mushed down a bit too much to make a fine enough line. I would rather start stitching anyway! I did enough last night to realize that I would prefer NOT using the #8 perle cotton and removed what I put in. I love the IDEA of it but IMHO it looks too thick for what will be fine detail areas of the designs, especially the aforementioned cornerstones. I'll start over with two strands of embroidery floss in the same color DMC #498 in turkey red. I'll be happier with the end result, I know.

Other than that they are going a different format for next year: 16 inch blocks, how many you make depends on how many want to participate, no mailing or delivering blocks till next August. I am resisting for now, LOL. I am an original rower so they won't kick me out of the group if I don't want to do this. For now I am sticking to my guns about no deadline work.

I stubbed the snot out of my 5th digit left foot this morning when I banged into the quilt rack---it bruised and puffed up in to time. YEOWW! I think Skyler entered into the equation a bit as I was trying to avoid stepping on him but I am not telling DJ that part. He ( Skyler not DJ) has been getting in trouble lately for hopping up and running on the pass through plus the plant in the living room has been getting some unneeded kitty attention. Cats will be cats! Well, no getting walking shoes on to walk today though we have less humid and much welcomed cooler temps this morning. Guess I will just have to stay home and stitch a bit---oh darn!

Hope you all have a wonderful weekend in whatever you chose to do---

Aug 7, 2008

checking in

Lest you think that I dropped off the face of the earth---I thought I would post while I had a few spare minutes. I have been mostly busy trying to finish up with the row robin that is due, like tomorrow, the 8th. For various reasons that I won't get into I lost both Monday and Tuesday this week for finishing up the job. Yesterday I buckled down and did the machine stitching on the applique sections--the last thing that needed to be done. This was the 3rd row I had to do in basically the last month but the only one I am going to show for now as the owner is already up at the retreat. I elected to just go for the reveal day this time around so will have more pictures when I get back.

Betsy chose a Jailhouse Rock theme inspired by a Time 2 Sew quilt shop up in Collinsville, AL which is where the retreat will be held. Long time readers will remember me telling you that there are two old jail cells in the back room of the shop that were not removed when the quilt shop moved in. The building used to be the city hall/water department/hoosegow in a past incarnation. Quite the conversation piece and a lot of pictures of have been taken of unrepentant quilters behind those bars! I know that there is probably a picture way back in my archives of this but I am being too lazy to go look for it. The shop stores sale fabrics and batting in one sell and the other is now used for storage.

Betsy had been making blocks that showed various quilters in some of the "no -no" behaviors so I went with this idea. Actually, my mom had made a wallhanging years ago that was similar to this when she was quilt show chair at the Hands All Around Quilt Guild show in Bloomington, IL. I begged Mom for the wallhanging (it was gone) but she did better than that and found me the drawings of the figures walking down the hall. Why re-invent the wheel? She had them going to a black hole while and I foundation pieced mine the color of the jail bars. I also needed to cover 60 inches of space for the row so that led to modifications of the lettering placement. I stenciled mine on with a pigma pen and Helix stencil I picked up at the Gadsden Office Max on our way back from picking up the t-shirt quilt from the long armer. The stuff I used for the carpeted hallway was some that Mom just sent back with me for my Bama Belles challenge quilt plus those quilt panels have been in my stash from HER stash for some time. Thanks all around for that, Mom!

(Skyler at right looking cute-- we had been playing hide the mouse and he was taking a breather)

I fully intend to take a break from "hafta sewing" --no more rows or blocks for me this time around. I only want to work on WHAT I want to work on, WHEN I want to work on it---no more deadline work or commission work if I can help it. Oh, I do have 4 donation quilts that pinned and have been waiting for me for several months. I also have to do the binding on that aforementioned t-shirt quilt--that will take you to the pic of the top. Susan did a great job of quilting it but the whole thing is going to end up costing me more than I charged the owner. See why no more commission stuff for a while?? I am so bummed. My fault though--I should have taken that amount and doubled it.

(Another picture of Nickajack Reservior near Chattanooga, TN--don't have quilt pics so you get scenic ones and the cat instead)

Earlier this week I did something that I have been thinking about for about a month. As background information, way back in February or March I had gotten a request from someone I have done some commission work for before---two decorator pillows made from his deceased former FIL's ties that would be presented to his former MIL. I have made two pillows in my life---with ruffles, not the cording and decorator fabric that I would have to be dealing with. Oh boy--what do I agree to do here? Subscribing to the notion of tap dancing till I figured it out, I bought the fabric for the background behind the ties but that was as far as it got. Even bought that "Daddy's Ties" book for reference to see if Shirley Botsford could shed a little light on the subject. Quilts for Mexico, row robins, t-shirt quilts, a couple of challenge quilts (actually I like those!) intervened and the months passed.

You know what? I finally decided that I wanted no part of dismantling those ties. I was just not comfortable with attempting to produce something that would do justice to the ties, and at the same time, please the former mother-in-law's decorating tastes. (thanks for that line, Cher!) I did not want someone dictating what colors for the backing, what kind of batting, what size pillow forms, and so on that I have had with this last project especially when it is coming out of my pocket. I boxed up the ties, typed up the accompanying note and mailed those puppies off to the person who requested the pillows with some suggestions of who he might want to contact instead with my apologies for not following through.

I used the background fabric for a fall row two weeks ago as it was just the right shade but replaced it, LOL with more--nice shade of Moda Marble that probably matches the paint color in his office wonderfully. (the ex-wife's suggestion---see what I mean?) Fabric rarely goes to waste, right? Sold the book the day after I listed it. I am out from under the obligations that were wearing me down and quite honestly, stifling any feeling of creativity I have. Pam asked me the other day if I was "out of jail" yet, meaning had I finished Betsy's row, but I sort of feel like I have been released from a "jail" of my own making.Yes, I'll get those tops quilted but there is no rush on them as the Bama Belles and I don't have a pressing donation location in mind this year. My own projects will get the attention that they have been denied for too long. I am going to scale back on the donation work for a bit---the need is still there but I need a little breather.

So I ask myself, just which one do I really, really want to work on or do I start something new? I am ready to trace off so redwork Santas from Birdbrain Designs. The snowmen blocks are all done now so I need another stitchery project for meetings and carry around. Maybe I won't sew at all for awhile and do some other things that I enjoy---knit, read, bake. Well, did that today already when I made two dozen cupcakes, some of which will go with me to the retreat to share. LOL, the house was up to a toasty 85 degrees till DJ turned on the a/c for the day but hey. I was having fun cooking.

Hope you are doing something that floats your boat---I sure am going to find it, just give me a day or two.