Sep 29, 2008

I got nuthin'

There is just not a lot going on around here---in retrospect, I have to wonder just what the heck I did with my time last week. A little knitting, some extra kitchen work. A bit of hand quilting at the meeting. Too many hands of Superior Canfield, for sure. Blog reading but little commenting.

IE is not good about letting me sign in and the next thing I know I have 20 some windows open-----grrrrr. By the time I get those closed and switch over to Mozilla I forget what I wanted to say, LOL. Or get frustrated and go do something else instead.

My quilt group met on Tuesday---shown is a quilt that Jane turned in. I didn't ask her but I think it might be some of the blocks sections that her mom had worked on as Sarah was the "queen of strings". Isn't it cool the way she used those for the centers of the Puss in the Corner? It smelled good too! Jane said that it had been blessed by three cats so she thought it best be washed before she donated it for the kids. Crinkled up nicely so it already looks loved.

My first challenge quilt was among those we pinned. Again I came home with more pinned tops than I went with. There is a picture of what awaits me down the line further down in the post---sigh. We had a bit of an impromptu potluck lunch. Nancy came in with a huge pot of chili to share and Linda M a pan of delish brownies topped with white and chocolate chips. I should have paid more attention to how she said she made those but then again, that would not help the weight loss attempts, LOL. Still, an excellent stop to the chocolate cravings that day!

Nancy and I were the last ones left at the meeting. I had an errand to run at the Oxford Exchange (where all the big box stores are out on 1-20). She met me out there. One of the Belles is a cashier at the store we went to so we got to chat with Rosa for a few minutes. There was a Starbucks inside the store so we stopped for a latte though I wish I had seen that they had pumpkin lattes before I ordered. Good chat though I didn't get home till almost 4. DJ was about to send out a search party for me.

I just finished up this top last night--the blocks had been done for days and the sashing strips all cut out but there it sat on the machine table till Saturday. Just not in the mood to sew. This top uses what I had left of the green challenge fabric. I also used up the last of the peach toile fabric for the block backgrounds begging a strip from my mom to finish up. The speckled peachy orange piece is also in the Jungle Nine Patch (J9P) as is the green pin dot that I used cornerstones and binding for this PIC. Still got a bit of that pin dot left but definitely made a dent in it. The plaid was used as one of the colors in the J9P too but I had quite a bit of yardage--my guess it is some that Mom had shared with me in the past but there is probably a little over a fat quarter left of it now since I am using it for this quilt's back. It had to be pieced to get the width and a section joined to length as I had halved the fabric at one point thinking I would use it for something else. I think that there were 5 seams in that thing once I was down with it, LOL. The binding for the last two are seamed but still need to be pressed and rolled.

This is what awaits me---12 quilts that taunt me as I wake up in the morning and the last thing I see at night. Pat took one of them off my hands to play with her "new to her" pantos or there would be a 13th buried in there----bless you! The top I sent her was one of only two that I pieced in this whole pile. I had hoped to work on my own projects a bit this year as the quilt group and I are not having to collect 60 some quilts for any local spot this year. No big push though some will go to Wrap The in Love and some already DID go to Pam's Quilts for Mexico. If I added the 5 personal tops that are pinned and waiting to the pile, I know it would reach the ceiling of the room. So as much as I WANT to work on my own things, this pile needs to go away and the only way that will happen is to start quilting. That, and declare a moratorium on bringing anymore home once that bonus PIC challenge quilt is pinned at the next meeting. Got another top? Please hold it till I get caught up a bit. Now practice saying that and sound convincing! Nancy is coming over sometime today so I can show her how to machine quilt. Linda C wants to come too but there is hardly enough room in here for ME once I set up to quilt, LOL so I will invite her up later. Looks like she will have ample opportunity, right?

Here is Skyler watching the birds and bugs and whatever it is that cats look at outside. He DOES love his window seats. He left this spot for a sunny area on the carpet in DJ's room but that has disappeared as the sun gets up higher in the sky. Actually I think he likes that spot so he can jump out at you in the hall way too---lay in wait and then attack the pants legs. Fun to watch. I wish I had even a 10th of his energy!

We had a fellow come in to the meeting carrying several large garbage bags of "scraps"' from someone in his family. He did not attend church there but he knew when and where we met so someone tipped him off. Most of it was definitely scraps and not usable but Nancy, Fleeta and I went through it all. Some wools and a bunch of stuff someone might want if they do crazy quilts. I don't want it but there have been some classes on making CQ's in recent years so someone in the JOY group might want it. There were some cottons and decorator type samples that I brought home to wash up that we could use. I no sooner got that all cleared up when I got a call from one of the Belles who can no longer attend. She just doesn't have time to quilt but she had fabric to donate from her SIL & MIL estates as well as some of her own. I picked that up on Friday. She had had to leave and left the stuff out on the porch so there was no one there to help me carry it or put it in the car. Unfortunately one large container I should have emptied some of it out first ---my lower back has been squawking at me since then. It has made walking a bit of a challenge the past few days as pounding the hard ground makes my back a little sore even without the strain I put on lifting.

The body is letting me down. I am still having a situation from early August checked out with another test scheduled for Thursday morning. So far I know what it isn't which relieves the mind but not what it is and treated. No point in whining about it though. It is what it is...........

Looks like DJ is done with the washer so time to hit the shower----

Sep 17, 2008

sewing...and loving it

What fun to sew again! For the last few days I have been working on my Bama Belles challenge quilt with the stack of fabrics that I showed you in my last post. I am using the Jungle Nine Patch pattern from QuiltWoman--now there is a website that could be a whole bunch of trouble!

At first I was a little confused as they refer to the strip pieced section as "Triple Rails" I guess that is technically what they are but terminology was throwing me a bit. I suppose that I was seeing triple rail blocks as you would use in a quilt layout. If you were to try the pattern, I would not skip the part about doing the swatches to keep the numbering part straight in your mind. It is vital that you have the visual for the 12 subcuts you make from the strip sets as that leads you into the sequence you need to make the nine patches. I was referring to it constantly!!

I had also wondered how vital it was to have strips measure 22.5 inches as they recommend using fat quarters. I had yardage, rather than fats for this so could I just use half the width of the goods? Well, you know how variable THAT prospect can be with stuff measuring 40, 41, 42 inches of usable fabric. My conclusion was that some strips it would not have mattered if they were a tad short but if six cuts were needed, I only had about an inch waste, if that. I cut them to size even if it meant setting the leftovers aside. Those are the perfect size for bow tie blocks, true triple rail blocks and whatever scrappy thing I want to do down the line.

The color is off a bit in the picture but this is where I left off last night. The bottom 4 rows are joined but I still need to sew the top two together to finish it up. BUT I don't want to border this as 1) it is big enough for a donation quilt as is and 2) I don't honestly know what I would use to do the job and/or if I would have enough of any of it. Though it is not shown in this picture, I made another row to add just a little bit more length since I tossed the borders in the design. I drew it up in EQ 6 to get the sequencing right. I would have added another framed challenge fabric block to the deal but I already cut the leftovers up into 5 inch squares to do a Puss in the Corner AKA Uneven Nine Patch, Billie Lauder style. I had cut extra sub sections from the strip sets so those came in handy. Some. I just had to re-arrange slightly--remove one color and add another in the proper sequencing while others were just fine the way they were. Very little extra cutting was needed.

I could piece the back from the leftover fabrics but I have a feeling I might need those for the bonus challenge quilt. I have a nice piece of a rust colored print that the church secretary donated to us so I may use that instead, if there is enough yardage. Chris will get a big kick out of that when I show her at our next meeting. I am pretty sure that piece of white/green calico came from her too. I'll finish this up today and then get ready to start the 2nd top from the green habitat stuff.

Other than that there is not a lot going on around here. We finally have some cooler mornings so I don't have to get out of the house quite so early to go walk. I have found that my pace is a lot quicker the last two mornings and less arduous without with mid 70's and high humidity factor. We have had a fair amount of cloud cover lately but no rain to speak of so that as kept the heat down. The city spread some new pea gravel where there had been some washout so that helps too. Less worries about turning an ankle. Also I had re-loaded my mp3 player with some new tunes. Walking to the pace of the music has made me feel like I was almost flying around the track instead of trudging and begging to be done as I was on Monday.

I am going to try to keep better track of my mileage and worked up a spreadsheet the other day. I used to record this stuff but it fell by the wayside when I had walked about as far as from here to Clarksville, TN. After all I have been faithfully walking since March of 07 so mileage would add up especially since I go around 3- 3.3 miles most of the time ( the least I ever go 2.2 miles) 6 days a week most weeks. If I had kept it up I would probably been through Kentucky (Paducah!) on the way to IL, in my mind anyway. I am not sure whose blog it was (Paula at Coffee Time Studio I was thinking?) that mentioned that she was walking and keeping track of the mileage and when she had walked the distance to a favorite quilt shop, she was going to get a special treat from that shop. Good plan!! Now if there were some kind of reward to make me keep a food diary other than knowing that a weight loss plan is easier when you have to account for everything you pop in your mouth--weigh, measure till you get the eye re-trained for portion size? I have unfortunately put a couple of hard fought to lose pounds back on doing things "my way". I know what I have to do. Even if it a royal pain.............

Sep 10, 2008

changing things up a bit

I'm changing things up a bit on the old blog template. I had a lot of fun adding the page elements to the old one, changing the colors and finding the little graphic elements but I was ready for a little change in appearance. Pam, Cher and I dinked around with this a bit when we first started out though Pam has her own website based one now and can play with hers all she wants, LOL. I know a lot of people, myself included, follow our blogs through various readers (bloglines, IE feeds, sage, google reader, etc). We don't always have reason to go look at the page anyway until we are ready to comment. It just occurred to me that the stash ring stuff is gone though and I should get that back on here! May be asking for help, JudyL.

So what are you looking at here? On my way back up to Boaz when I delivered the t-shirt quilt last week I stopped at Petco in the strip mall area on 431 in Gadsden. Skyler needed was almost out of a couple of items and I was looking for a play tunnel type thing. I had been making a little tent out of his heating mat (atop the couch back at this photo taking). I would toss his favorite cat toy in there and we both would have a high old time. It worked but was too flimsy for sustained play. This little cube has a hole on both ends, fleece on the bottom with a zip up pounch to stuff with cat nip plus it will press down to make a bed for sleeping. He does crawl in there for privacy at times but mostly we still play mouse attack. Even better, it was on sale. He has gotten a good 20 bucks worth of fun out of it and kept DJ and I entertained, LOL.

So what have I been up to? Not a whole lot though the quilt group met yesterday. Silly me, forgot my camera and we had some pretty tops laid out on the floor. Some we pinned, some will wait. I came home with three to quilt---none that I pieced but that's okay. I'll get to them at some point---I think there are currently 10 in the donation stack. Jane, Lois and I were pretty much manning the pinning table with some help from Linda C. Linda M and Frieda were looking at patterns for something for the JOY group, I believe while Pat M dropped off her completed challenge quilt which is one of the tops that is in my pile. Very pretty Dresden Plate.

It was funny---Lois had several tops that she had pieced with elements of fabric that Linda C had given away. Linda recognized those bits right off and commented that she had no idea that they would look that good done up. She is fairly new to quilting so has not seen some of the scrappy quilt ideas that others of us may have. One was a Puss in the Corner or Uneven Nine Patch that Lois had made using the Billie Lauder method in Quick Quilt Tricks. Another was "Twin Sisters" from Eleanor Burns' Quilts Through the Seasons. I know there was a third one but it escapes me at the moment.

Linda C had finished up a "12 days of Christmas" lap sized quilt that used some panel pieces that were then pieced into pears. Not sure where she found the pattern. The other unusual one she had was the large Feathered Star shown in the Sept/Oct 08 issue of Fons and Porters "Love of Quilting".

Linda has also wanted me to show her the fundamentals of hand quilting so I demonstrated on the motif I had marked on the Railroad Crossing. The rocking thing, pushing up to make the mountain and pinching motion on top. I still need to finish quilting the rest of this thing on the machine but it sure was fun to sit and hand quilt for a bit yesterday. I found this little motif in the Shirley Thompson Finishing Touch book. Sort of reminds me of two wedding rings and this might be his anniversary present--sorta Celtic looking which does not have any particular significance, just that I liked it, LOL.

I had brought a dinner salad to share along with a chocolate cake I had made. LOL, I said and not entirely joking, that I made the cake just to go with the fluffy chocolate frosting I had a taste for. (From the Cake Mix Doctor cookbook---yummy!) I figured I better definitely get that out of the house to lessen the temptation. Last time I made those cupcakes with this icing DJ said I should not have given some away to the neighbors. He said he didn't care if I took his treats into the quilt meeting but I shouldn't give away something he liked to them! I am pretty sure he meant that.

Judy came by with her friend who was visiting from California with a xerox paper box loaded with those feedsacks. Boy, it did not take long for that box to be emptied out and dug through. She did not go home with many leftovers, let me tell you! Thanks, Judy for sharing.

And speaking of challenges----I have mulling over what to do about the quilt group challenge. One of the girls on the WTIL list had given me several large bits of yardage last year so we are set for challenge fabrics for a couple more years to come. A couple of the girls already have their tops done but I have not even started. Last week I found a pattern though that I think is my final choice---Jungle Nine Patch from Quilt Woman. I had a few pieces of fabric set aside with the animal fabric---some that my mom sent back with me earlier this summer. Then I dug through the box she sent down with my family members in July. I think I told you that we had spent several days pairing up patterns with fabric stacks of donated fabrics when I was back. What was leftover once she had kitted her things up she split and sent to me. A few pieces I had here at home but I was determined to use what I had in the stash if possible. Oh, I would switch a few things around if I had access to a quilt shop maybe but this will do. After all that fabric from the donor needs to be used as we promised it would be--- donation quilts for the kids. Stash needs to be busted as I am bursting at the seams. I DID end up ordering a piece of darker brown moda marble online to frame the challenge fabric as I needed a higher degree of contrast that the greens and rusty tones. That will make more sense if you take a peek at the pattern, LOL.

I had an appointment this morning so I have not done a lot other than the computer and finish up my home study program CEUs so I could renew my nursing license. Alabama now allows you to retire your license but if you should need it in the two year period after you do so, it will cost $500 and the renewal cost of 75 bucks. OUCH!!! No thanks. Pay out that kind of money and you definitely would need to be employed.

Guess I'll work on my redwork for a bit or go read--getting to the good part of Janet Evanovich's Fearless Fourteen. Hope you have had a good day-------

Sep 6, 2008


A view often seen in the mornings---Skyler sees DJ down on the floor doing his exercises and he thinks he should be right in the thick of things, LOL. There was some question as to whether he planned on moving out of the way of the sit up.

Well, another week has passed by and we have moved onto September. The t-shirt top (and back) that I pieced for Out of the Box was delivered to Susan on Wednesday and I ran some shopping errands along the way to Boaz (AL) for stuff I cannot find here in town. I attended the JOY quilt guild meeting in nearby Jacksonville for the first time in about two years time on Thursday morning. In between, I dabbled with some various hobbies. Not completing anything nor will I for a while at this rate. But that's okay with me as I won't get bored with it. I doubt I am the only one who works like this either.

I have been working on a cardigan knitted from the neck down occasionally. (Pattern is from Knitting Pure and Simple) I felt like knitting so pulled it out the other day and finish up the ribbing I had decided to substitute at the bottom. I have made my sweater significantly longer that suggested as I want it to cover a longer top that I own. The next day I picked up the first of the set aside sleeve stitches and worked a bit on that before setting it aside. You start off with a small cord on circular needles and as you decrease the sleeve width you switch over to double points in two different sizes. I am used to double points from making DJ sets of golf club covers over the years and of course, all kinds of mittens. It's fun and mindless knitting except for watching for the evenly spaced decrease rows.

I did a bit of the "Here Comes Santa" block from Bird Brain Designs at the quilt meeting making some progress on the first block that I have traced off. I have decided NOT to use the perle cotton that came with the kit however as it just looked too thick to me. I was not pleased in the spots that called for finer detail work so switched to two strands of DMC floss. Good 'ol 498. Susan had some in stock since they have cross stitch and framing at the shop in addition to the long arm quilting and some fabrics.

I should tell you that a woman at the meeting had been given a bunch of books, magazines and even some quilt tops and blocks and brought those to share with. I was busy stitching but my friend Marilyn snagged a couple of the quilt tops. One she will re-vamp as a donation top and the other she handed me as she knows how I love feed sack stuff. Later, as I was chatting with the woman who had brought the things I saw someone holding up a blue quilt top and then someone pointing in my direction. Then heading my direction, LOL and handing me the quilt top. I think the person SHE had been chatting with told her that our quilt group could probably use it.

And, for a couple days this week I was machine quilting on this Railroad Crossing top. My mom pieced it and I brought it back with me when DJ and I were "home" visiting in June. The quilt will be going to DJ--maybe for Christmas or our anniversary in late January. I have the plain blocks marked with a small motif to hand quilt--what I was doing at the last quilt meeting actually. All the blocks are locked in and I have maybe a third of the bands stitched in the ditch. The borders are done as of yesterday morning. My goal was to get as many pins out of there as I could so it would be easier to maneuver for the hand quilting though I am itching to get started on that part.

One of the Belles wants me to show her how to hand quilt so if I have not started the hand work by then, I will definitely take with me to the meeting on Tuesday. Oops, that reminds me to switch some fabric over from the washer to dryer. I said I would mark off a design for her to practice on but needed to wash some muslin to do that. That part is easy--it is the fabric pressing that I don't look forward to. UGH--ironing!

Yesterday I had the pleasure of talking with Norma on the phone. We email and chat all the time but what a treat to hear her voice! The weirdest thing was a local friend had called to tell me about some feed sacks she had gotten from a friend of hers that does estate sales and deals in antiques. (She will sell them to any of the Belles that wants them at the price she paid for them. You know I will have to check these out!) Had Judy NOT called me on my cell phone I would have missed the call. I am sure that Norma would have just tried again a little later if her schedule permitted.

That's about it for here---scanning some recipe books for some inspiration and looking for a few recipes that are filed in who knows which notebook as it is about time to go grocery shopping. I still want to do the toaster cover and other appliance covers soon. When Norma gets back we have talked about tackling Atkinson's Designs Cheese and Crackers pattern. I didn't even show you the box that my mom packed up that was leftover from her town's raffle quilt that used this same pattern! I should be looking at these patterns in a little more detail to see how much background fabric, etc is needed to make this happen.

Hope you all are having a good weekend in whatever you found to dabble in-----