July 28, 2008

The Old Grey Mare

No, I ain't what I used to be. So I thought I'd share a not very exciting or sexy idea, but one that has made my life easier over the last 10 years or so since I started doing it. Any of you that have hand problems of any kind might consider doing it too.

You know if you have a day of sewing, you also have a day at the ironing board. There are all kinds of special irons now, but none of them take into consideration repetitive motion injury problems. Do yourself a favor. Cut yourself about 12 inches of soft cotton batting, wrap it tight around the handle of your iron and baste it on...big loopy stitches are fine, you'll just roll the seam down anyway. This one I ran two rows of fancy stitches across before I wrapped it just because I have pretty stitches on my machine. Try it! You'll Like It! Change it about once a year...they get pretty grim looking after awhile :-)

Blessings for this last Monday in July
Yoga practice.
My fragile friends appear to all be in good shape for the nonce.
Good jobs for my Rob and myself.

July 24, 2008

She Who Seeks Floss

Insert image of short woman stamping foot. I want to do a candlewicking summer spread for my bed. I have the fabric, it's all stamped and ready to go...and I'll be darned if I can find any candlewicking thread in colors. I've googled my brains out. I've searched for
candlewicking floss
candlewicking yarn
candlewicking thread
and the same again with candlewick and candle wicking instead of candlewicking. I tell an untruth, I did find some gorgeous fiber in Australia, but the cost of shipping would tip my budget over backward. I've found two places in the USA that have natural/neutral floss, nope, I want color.

I've been advised to dye the neutral myself, to substitute embroidery floss, to give up and wait until candlewicking becomes a hot item again. Why don't I take that advice? Because I'm trying to duplicate the technique used in this one which was given to us by Rob's auntie Edie many years ago. It's been mended so many times it really needs to be retired. Rather than the more traditional Colonial or French knots, this one uses a running stitch with the threads snipped between each stitch. When washed the first time those threads then tuft or bloom, the fabric shrinks around the tufts and everything ends happily ever after. Except I can't find any colored floss...I need at least 1050 yards. I'm a determined little cuss, you watch, someday you'll see a blog post with the finished project and the happily ever after tale of how Sharyn found her floss.

More July Blessings:

'Doing Lunch' as if I were a lady of leisure
Rob in his blue jeans :-) yeah, baby...
Courteous shop clerks

July 21, 2008

Quilt Journals

Do you keep a quilt journal? These are a few of mine. I use blank books of course, and the cover is usually from some project's left over blocks...or in the case of the blue willow one, a paper embroidery project with a critical boo-boo.
I usually name them according to my mood that January, these covers are marked Quiltsmith, Soul Craft, and Devoted To The Cloth. I'm a list maker and an item tracker, so one year I kept track of every cent I spent stitchery related. Ouch. One year I kept track of my time spent stitching. One year I pretty much devoted to a specific quilt and that journal ended up being part of the author's CD when it came out.

I carry the current year's journal with me when I travel and put business cards in with my thoughts about the quilt shops we visit. I'm a great one for tearing mouthwatering quilt images out of full color catalogs for the seeds of future quilts, or fantastic color combinations. Funny, I talk about all kinds of things going on in my world on my blogs, but I never do in my quilt journals. Guess they are sacrosanct to the holy grail of quilting~

When I look back through them for ideas or inspiration or just a kick in the (Y) to get my needle to working they do all that plus are like a good visit with an old friend. They always remember the things I thought I'd forgotten...

Monday Blessings:

Rob's radishes that are as big as carrots
How good my goat Trinity smells
Linens line dried in the summer sun

July 17, 2008

How much does $600.00 weigh?

The answer? 40 pounds. How big a box is needed to hold $600.00? 18 inches tall X 20 inches long. How do I figure that? By filling the box with lost dollars of course. I'm part of a group of 4000 quilters who love fabric, fabric stores, having fabric, touching and smelling fabric, talking fabric, sharing fabric...oh, and incidental to that, sewing things with fabric. The problem is there are a lot more yards of fabric than there is time in a day. So this lovely lot of mostly quilters are faced with a conundrum now that we've bought fabric for 10 or 20 or 30 years. What the heck are we ever going to do with it all.

Like everyone else involved, I'm not as bad as some, certainly worse than others. I stopped buying fabric in October 2001. I looked at what I had and I took a second look at my retirement fund. I had lots of the first and little of the second. So I've been using my stash up for 7 years now, have it down by about half, but have added twice what I had to start with by inheritance from two quilter friends.
Three yards of fabric weighs a pound and is equal in size to say 3 pillowcases. So going by the weight of the above mentioned box, and using a median figure of $5.00 a yard, that 40 pound box has a price tag of $600.00. And you can see, going by the average sized cat by the box, that isn't very big pile of fabric.

For a double/queen backing it takes 6-7 yards of fabric, 7-10 yards for a top depending on how complicated the piecing is, because you use up fabric in seams too. So lets be generous and figure 18 yards of fabric in a nice big bed quilt. There is 120 yards of fabric in that little box. So, the question today is how much fabric do you have? And how much have you spent? This isn't a blame game, heaven forbid...stopping buying fabric for me was harder than quitting smoking. All I'm asking is that you be honest with yourself. How much do you have, how fast do you make quilts, and where will it all go when you are gone?

So what's she doing with that box of fabric you ask? Using the above weight and measurements I took a little over an hour this week to do a fast sort of about 1000 yards of fabric, pulling stuff I know I'll never use, not in a bazillion years. All the pinks, ditsy 70's calico, stiff cheap fabrics, holiday themed, I Spy type novelties, stripes. I'm going to put it in my garage sale next month at $1.00 a pound, smile, and wish it a pleasant journey.

Gratitudes for today:
I didn't have to wear a sweater all this 17th day of July
That I could afford the groceries I bought this morning
A perfect cup of coffee

July 14, 2008

I sew, therefore I pin

Let's be honest, those big magnetic pin cushions are the bee's knees. I have 3 and use them all. But there isn't much cushion about them and cushions are what I was thinking about this morning. These are four that I've made over the years...if you remember the folded star rage of the 70's you'll recognize the one in the upper left hand corner. Hokey Smokes they took a lot of fabric. Everyone raise your hand that made a folded star toilet lid cover. That wooden pin in it is a specially made tool for paper embroidery. In it's normal life it is a Lacemakers pin vise, but I had mine made with a stouter vice mechanism because I use it to punch through 4-5 layers of card stock.

Number 2, top right is a more old fashioned one made of pinked felt hearts with the top cover being blue felted wool and embroidery. Number 3, lower right is a fun to make six-petaled one held together with a button stitched to a yo-yo, and embellished with beads and a matching stick pin. I made a wad of these for a Dear Jane exchange 8-10 years ago.

The bottom left one is a well used and obvious favorite, a color wheel made from my own hand-dyed fabrics and is great for sorting needles from quilting to crewel. These are just the ones around the sewing machine area, I also have cushions at all my sewing stations around the house, in the RV, and in the car...suffice it to say, I like my cushions. If I were a collector sort of person it is probably what I'd collect. Have you got some fun ones?

Today's blessings:
To-do list: Ta-da ~ Finished!
Walking with Pembroke, my little 5 pound Pom
Fun things to anticipate in the mail box this week
Websites that offer free patterns, Thank you Sindy at FatCatPatterns

July 9, 2008

Ith A Mythstery To Me

I've been hearing this passed from quilter to quilter since using rotary cutters and acrylic rulers came into use..."Always use the same ruler to cut your whole project because different brands measure differently". Say what? If you've heard this, or worse, repeated it, please take all your rulers and stack them up. You'll find they are all dead on, with the exception of the corners you've shaved off the one you always square your blocks up with.

I think where the myth got it's start is the way we use the lines on the different rulers. Do we align the cut edge absolutely under the line, just a hair to the left of the line, or just a hair to the right of the line. Which lines are thick on the ruler in the middle and which are thick on the rulers on the left and right? Think about it next time you are cutting. The rulers are correct, it's we who are a bit wonky. I do swear though from personal experience that if you like all your points to match it is a good idea to do all your piecing on the same machine.'s how our eye perceives that 1/4" sweet spot.

My blessings today:
Rotary cutters and rulers...I remember when pencil and cardboard templates were the rule.
Fuzzy soda water with lemon
Ink pens in lots of colors

July 7, 2008

Tisket a Tasket

I love basket quilts. Period. Never met a basket block I didn't like. I also like mid-1800's reproduction fabrics; about 8 years ago I got 100 fat quarters from here for $1.00 each, beautiful fabrics that I've fondled and cossetted... I used a lot of them in my Christmas Quilt (baskets) and a top by Joined at the Hip (wonky baskets!) and now I'm using up the much smaller pile of left-over pieces in five inch baskets with stuffed appliqued handles.

I'm getting quite a stack of them and need to start thinking about a setting. I did up 8 blocks with mixed neutrals (all the handle background are mixed neutrals) to see how they'd look but now that I have lots of blocks finished I'm thinking I don't want quite so much blank space. Maybe I'll do 1 inch print cornerstones with 1 inch mixed neutrals as buffer strips between the blocks. Think? We'll see. Anyway, great mix of busy-bag carry along hand work, and machine work when I'm at home. I love quilting and everything to do with it.

Things I'm grateful for today:
The bowl of fresh radishes from the garden...already eaten.
Found strawberry hullers, have been looking for them for yonks.
How my fresh line dried towels smell.

July 4, 2008

In Honor Of

Today is Independence Day in the USA so I'm sharing a little quilt I made to hang in my shop in 1998 entitled In Honor Of. Simple star and flag blocks in the border and embellished with buttons from my husband's Army uniform and buddy poppies I've bought over the course of many years.

On the right is a framed tribute I made a couple of years ago with photos of family service members, Rob's medals and one of his bravery commendations. He was a crew chief and door gunner in 'Nam and was shot down six times. I'm so honored by the gift our service people have and are giving us; the lost years out of their normal lives, their homes and family time, and for so many the ultimate sacrifice. Bless your hearts one and all. And thank you.

My blessings today:
Freedom of Speech
Freedom of Faith
Freedom of Spirit