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January 29, 2009

More One Block Wonder Tweaking

After letting it set for 24 hours I spent another hour moving blocks around. In person this looks better, but I get better perspective when posted here. I think this has better flow through the center.

Those six pink blocks center bottom don't blend at all no matter what I put with them. But I need them to get the quilt to 12 X 14 rows. There isn't any more print fabric left

In the picture's perspective that pink top left looks overwhelming and unbalanced but it's beautiful in person.

More think time required! And don't Anyone think about sneezing. If all these blocks fell off the wall you'd hear the shriek from here where ever you are.

Edited to add on Friday morning: Karen had a good thought in comments, to move those pink ones to the lower right corner. Except that would require moving nearly every block in the quilt. That corner doesn't show up well because of my cutting table in the way and shadowing, but it is all deep burgundy and greens and does balance the top left. The only real problem with those pink ones is the background that makes them pop. Some of that will be taken up in the seams. No matter where I placed them they would pop!

Or it wouldn't be a problem at all if I reduced the quilt by one row. But its such beautiful fabric I couldn't bear it.

I worked with my reducing lens for a long time before I went to bed last night, and this morning I am still happy with the final layout...so as soon as I get back from the farm I'm going to commence sewing. I don't doubt a bit that once it is together I'll see something that I should have moved, but hey, life is short and my unfinished project list looms over my days... Thanks for the feedback ladies!

Thursday Thankies
Lunch with Denise
New big box of gifted mystery books
New to me authors!

January 28, 2009

Hydrangea One Block Wonder Progress


My brain hurts. This is hard. Final it isn't. You stand at the working wall, surrounded by a sea of like piles...You go away and don't think about it, come back and be surprised by what works and what doesn't. Rearrange, tweak, stand back, stand Way back, tweak some more, and take pictures.

Time it let it rest some more. Switch sides of the room and go back to my movie, The Stand, and my candlewick blocks. Summer will be here before I know it, need to get that needle spurred on.

Wednesday Thankies
Trees in the fog
Snow on fencepost caps
Daffodil tips coming up

January 26, 2009

Stash

As quilters, when we hear the word stash, our minds usually jump to fabric. How wonderful it all looks at the shops, how it feels, how it drapes, how it might blend with other fabrics, how it would look in a 2" section as opposed to a 42" section. Might it run or shrink, will it look dated in two years, will our storage space take another in-dump, can we afford it, do we need it, do we really want it, if our heart will stand the adrenalin push of just fondling it?

But, if we stop to think about it stash covers a lot of other things in our quilt room also.

  • scissors
  • rotary cutters
  • regular rulers, tape measures, rotary rulers
  • seam rippers
  • thread and bobbins
  • needles, machine and hand, needle books
  • marking tools
  • stencils
  • patterns, purchased and home printed
  • books
  • irons
  • whole lot of single specialty tools
  • straight pins, plus the magnetic holders and pin cushions. I consistently use 4 different types of straight pins...
  • basting tools and safety pins and tackers
  • quilt hoops and frames
  • lights
  • sewing baskets, tins, carry-along busy bags
  • some even have a stash of sewing machines
  • and of course, our little companions of all colors and sizes who give us encouragement each time we sit down to sew with any of the above.

Monday Thankies
The days are getting longer in my hemisphere
Fresh Water
Tea

January 24, 2009

Repurpose -- I love that word!

I grew up wearing my aunt's hand-me-downs. I didn't mind but it does have some unattractive issues. Repurpose sounds so invigorating, alive, and useful, plus plain old common-sensical.

Here are a couple of repurposed items in my quilt room. I'm packing up my Grandma Pearl's pink depression glass and passing it on to my cousin Margie. But this piece I bought myself for toothpicks. I think it looks great as a flat-head-pin holder.
On the left is a planter, it once had cactus in it on Grandma Pearl's sun porch. I'll bet my grandma really loved me, my favorite job when on a stay-over was wiping down the shelves on said sun porch. What a deal for Grandma! I have a bigger round plant pot in my counter in the kitchen with most often used utensils in it. All three of these items make my heart smile with memories...and repurpose.

Saturday Thankies
Rob will be home soon!
Bookshelves
Well run forums

January 22, 2009

Bobbin Along

On the sewing machine list for my Janome model the subject of pre-filled bobbins comes up at least once a week. While I was sewing mind-numbing nine-patches this week my mind wandered to bobbins.
#1 Can anyone tell me why sewing machines have to have such piddly little bobbins? What is so hard about designing a bigger bobbin case? And
#2 What is the attraction with pre-wound bobbins?

So when I took a break, I got a new spool of

  • Coats and Clark 100% cotton 50 weight thread, 300 yard size. Cost, 30% off at Fabric Depot, $1.30 per spool

  • Janome bobbins, reusable untold number of times. In 15 years I've had two break. .50 cents each

  • The above thread filled 8 bobbins @ 37.5 yards each.

  • Took 14 minutes to do, or 1.75 minutes each

  • Cost per bobbin .16.25 cents each. Disregarding the bobbin cost itself, as mine are reusable and the pre-filled are throw-away.
Well that's all good to know, but when trying to compare prices I find that a lot of places selling them haven't a clue what weight of thread is on them. That is comforting to know. Not.

I found one place with 108 bobbins 93 yards each, 60 weight thread for $70.00, $50.00 on sale. .47.3 cents each. Humm, 3 times the thread though. Looking further I find another site with the same offer for $33.00 for 108. 30.5 cents each. Plus shipping which can zoom up that price. So that tells me the pre-filled I see with even more thread on them are using lingerie weight thread in the 80-90 weight range. Which gives even longer sewing time. Except when sewing something you need to last like clothing and quilt seams I sure wouldn't recommend it.

Which leaves me still comparing apples and oranges, price wise, but time wise it took almost no time to fill 8 bobbins and then it was time to sit down and go back to work. Where do you fall on the do-it-yourself vs. pre-filled controversy?

Thursday Thankies
Hostess Ding-Dongs
The oddest blessings this week
Nearly a week of blue sky and sun

January 18, 2009

Yogus Interruptus

Yoga is one of the great pleasures in my life, something I expect to do and enjoy doing into old age and beyond. I've never trained my animals to be still during my practice, they just seem to know, and usually one or more cats and all three dogs will get up on the couch on their red blanket and lie quietly when they see the yoga mat come out.

I've been working through a new to me yoga DVD, Yoga Therapy Prescriptions with Laura Hawes from MyYogaVideo.com. The DVD is divided into a good number of practices focused on a various health issues, the one I was trying today was for Anxiety. It is a good thing I was relaxed already...and happened to have my camera close. Otherwise they would have been banished from the room. Here is what happened.





Namaste Xavier and Xing-xing, you bless my days with your presence.
My little lost dogs that someone threw away in the forest...
along with about two dozen others from their puppy mill.

Sunday Thankies
Fresh Grapes Oranges Bananas
Digital cameras
The world and it's infinite variety

January 16, 2009

Procrastination, Thy Name Is Sharyn

Two long seams to go and I can put paid to the Kudzu Baskets quilt top. So far I've found a number of reasons to procrastinate. For instance: Say good by to basket bits no longer needed. Stop to make a free wheeling star because it was cute on someone else's blog. (Jo's fault entirely, over at Pieceful Afternoon. That is my story and I'm stickin' to it)
Take note that in my frenzy to finish (or not finish) my sewing area in the quilt room is most Un-FlyLadyish. Plus the little lost dogs needed some sock-play time. Clean same...and still those two seams wait. Crazy.
OK, I've run out of things to do. Well, I could check my blog sidebar and see if my compardres have posted new interesting stuff...
Edited later in the day: Kudzu Basket top completed... can be seen on my "projects in progress" blog Devoted To The Cloth I love it! (scroll down at that link, I've added posts since).

Friday Thankies
That it's Friday, I thought it was Saturday
Daffodils are peeking out of the ground
Little dogs in training had an A+ day yesterday

January 14, 2009

Paper Embroidery Anyone?

I told Loz at Bizarre Quilter a few days ago that I was the worst, bar none, embroiderer in the world. I got to thinking about it because I abhor negativity and realized I can say I do paper embroidery very well. Heaves big sigh...saved from the negative boogerman again.

I was in a 12 person card exchange for two years while I took hiatus from quilting. But you can't keep a stitcher away from thread! The first paper embroidery I did was a blue willow scene. It only took me 11 hours to complete the first one. By the time I finished 14 of them I had it down to a swift 7 hours per card. You can see the first blue willow effort in my quilt journals entry...I co-opted it into a journal cover because I had a big mistake on it. Not being sure what I was doing yet, the 3rd gentleman crossing the bridge looks like he is taking a leak rather than lifting his leg to the next step. Oops...I left the men off the rest of them. I have done many many cards and bookmarks since then, here are a couple of samples.

I just googled paper embroidery and I see there are a few free samples to download now so do that if you want to try it. I order all my patterns from the U.K., a lovely company called Creative Expressions. The first set I had snail-mailed, but the rest I have downloaded to PDF and printed out myself. Very easy transaction and instant buyers gratification!

Here are a couple of the Christmas cards I did then laid them in the bottom of a box and sprayed lightly with aerosol glue and sprinkled artificial snow on them. They were very cool looking.
The tools needed are pretty simple.
A sheet of thick fun foam (I think it is 1/2") to do the punching on.
Low tack tape to hold the pattern in place on the card stock.
card stock.
Fine needle like a size 11 appliqué. You don't want big holes in the card stock.
I talked a gentleman who makes tools for lace makers into making me a lovely punch, but for just trying it, stick a cork in the top of your needle so you have something to hang onto and start punching.
I covered my punch patterns with clear contact because I always made 14 copies. 3 layers of card stock at a time is about all your hand will want to punch, so using my pattern 4 times in a row I found covering it made it hold up well.

For natural scenes like the lighthouse I used 60 weight Mettler embroidery spool thread, but for patterns like the ones above I used my Mettler metallics...yum yum. Great carry along project if you have a stack punched, everything fits in a sandwich baggie.
This whole post is revenge on Jo over at Pieceful Afternoon for sidetracking me from Kudzu baskets and test driving free wheeling star blocks. So there Jo, bet you can't do just one paper embroidery...

Wednesday Thankies
Kudzu baskets top should be finished today
Fun blogs to visit
SUNSHINE!

January 12, 2009

Rooster Journals Anyone?

I did a post on my quilt journals awhile back, but not everyone enjoys wordsmithing like I do. This is the perfect time of the year to start a different type of journal, and a lot easier...Put a fresh calendar by your sewing machine. It can even be an old one...long as it has at least 360 days.

Those neat daily boxes will hold all sorts of information that you may find astounding when added up. Depending on your projects and interests you can keep track of:
  • Hours (or minutes, they really add up) spent machine or hand stitching

  • What day you started a project

  • What day you completed on

  • How much new fabric you bring in

  • How much stash you use

  • New tools and their cost

  • Books added to your library

  • Machine needle changes

  • Machine services

  • Charity projects

  • Shows attended

  • Guild speakers

  • Completed blocks and milestones on special projects like the Dear Jane quilt

Try it, You'll like it!

Monday Thankies
Delicious Mexican lunch
Theresa's funny and practical Dr. Dan
Drinkable water

January 11, 2009

High Points Low Points

I have my pedal to the metal, working hard to finish assembling the Kudzu Baskets quilt and I'm very very close. As I've sat sewing today I've been thinking about what sort of things slow down or stop progress on my quilt projects. And the other side of the token, what makes me commit to a new quilt.

Things I dislike

  • Ripping. I do it but with gritted teeth. I just bring to mind a childhood needlework teacher who said "ripping out is one of the most important parts of the learning process because it shows you what you should have done." Mostly should have done was pay more attention. Thank you Gramma Bessie, for the lesson and the memories.

  • Clipping seams. You can see in the attached photo where I am requiring myself to do this, because it makes a great deal of difference in how the points meet. I think this quilt is worth the effort and I'll be really glad I did it, both during the quilting process, and enjoying it on the bed. But it sure slows down the piecing.

  • Putting the big sections together. At that point the quilt top is very close to finished but that is lots and lots of intersections to meet. One nice thing I don't have to pin because my 1/4" seams are dead on so there is that saving grace as I Herk the sections around.

  • Finding I don't have enough components made. I really frown when I have to go back and make more sashing or corner blocks or whatever. Which is foolish, I nearly always have some extra fabric cut. My contrary nature I guess.

  • Standing on a stool to reach the top sections on my working wall. I would love to be 5'8" tall in my quilt room. The rest of the time my feet touch the floor when I walk and that seems to be sufficient to my needs.

Things I like

  • The smell of clean prewashed fabric as I press it
  • when something I experiment with works early on
  • The incredible resources at our fingers today; books, quilt shops, on-line blogs and websites, the generosity of bloggers who do tutorials, DVDs and TV quilt shows, guilds, magazines. When I began quilting in 1970 there was basically nothing unless you had a granny or auntie who could get you started. And it was all template then...each and every piece in a quilt had to be traced around and cut with scissors. Think about that next time you admire an intricate 1800's quilt! The only tools readily available in stores were the Aunt Martha's patterns and wooden quilt hoops.
  • The sheer variety of prints and patterns in our fabric availability. Walking through a fabric shop is like a free art gallery tour.
  • Rotary cutter, rulers, mats. What a difference in how quick and easy it is to make a quilt. Or get one started. Probably also the chief reason there are so many UFO's. We didn't cut up much fabric to start new quilts when all the pattern pieces had to be traced one by one by hand.
  • Quilt shows. Wow. From small local shows to regional to national to international. Talk about eye candy and inspiration. You can see in a few hours that your work is indeed better than some-worse than some, and you can see the quality and time commitment required in becoming a top show winner.
  • Binding. I love cutting it, sewing it on and getting my corners perfect, and stitching it down by hand. That last 8 hours is when I get to really snuggle under what is basically a finished quilt for the first time. To run my hands over the blocks as I go along...being surprised at fabric combinations, seams matchings, the quilting stitches, the joy of a project well done...and DONE.

Sunday Thankies
Yoga Bolsters
Bookends
Cell Phones

January 6, 2009

Small Space Quilting ~ Cutting

My older posts about carving out quilting space in our 35' 5th wheel trailer can be found here. Scroll down the new page that opens to see the progress.

I have a kitchen cutting board that fits perfectly into one side of the double sink. With a rotary mat on top it is a good cutting solution for smaller projects. If I needed or wanted to make longer cuts I can move the sink cover cutting board to the left side of the sink to hold the folded fabric, and put a larger mat on the counter to the left.


Or another solution I've considered is making a board that covers the sink area completely. A definite possibility if we ever decide to full time RV.

I'm preparing our home to go on the market in the next month or two. When (please please) it sells I will most certainly be living full time in the RV at our farm until a house is built and it doesn't give me a moments worth of stress. I know I can quilt there with no problems with the solutions I've put in place. Ironing and tools of the trade will be posted before long~

Tuesday Thankies
The RV washer and dryer work like a dream
A day inside to work in the Big quilt room at home
Red Rose Tea and my new china leopard print mug

January 3, 2009

No Thanks, I'm Driving

No resolutions that is. I was just a pup still when I realized how defeatist oriented making solemn resolutions on the 1st of January was. I'm just human...sometimes this means the strength of Hercules, and sometimes it means the backbone of Popeye's friend J. Wellington Wimpy. I yam what I yam.

I do try to make genuine effort each new day to end it with both myself and the world a better place than I found it upon arising. Some days I actually accomplish it. Most days, having made the effort is the best I can achieve.

I do each year try to add some new skill or knowledge. Some have been utter failures, some have been like finding a gold mine, and have been incorporated in to my on-going life seamlessly. This year's goal is going to be especially difficult. I'm going to take a year and not re-invent the wheel. That won't mean much to you, but I expect it to be a profound change for me and the way I tackle things.

This will be really visible in my quilting. I seldom begin with someone else's pattern or directions, and when I do, I'm almost immediately off on a tangent of changes. Often changes for the sake of changes; I'm uncomfortable being or making a clone. But I have a lot of stunning, exciting, interesting, fun patterns languishing on the shelf...I think this is the year I will make some of them. As instructed. It will no doubt be really good for my character. And probably increase my output exponentially.

Welcome 2009.

Saturday Blessings
Stan the man, the computer fixer will be here tomorrow!
Stan takes partial payment in fresh cookies and divine coffee!
My husband and all my 4 footed family are gathered together safe and warm.
I LOVE my napkins!!