Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Simple, yet satisfying

Some friends are stopping by my job tomorrow with their 9-month-old baby girl on their way from Boston to Idaho. (through Virginia!?!  Whatever.)  I didn't, of course, have time to make the baby a quilt, but I had to make her SOMETHING. A bib it is!  Simple, yet satisfying!

And if I'm making one bib, why not make two?  This one will be for my cousin's baby, due in July, for whom I am making the Good Fortune Lil Twister quilt.

Both bibs are flannel, and backed with bright jewel-toned pink flannel, with velcro closures at the neck.
 Making things for babies is so gratifying!

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Quilting with clay and paper

Yesterday I attended a high school graduation party for my neighbor.  On a table filled with pictures of the beautiful graduate, there was also this:

Isn't it wonderful?  She made it out of clay in 5th grade, and won first prize in an art contest with it.  If I were the judge, I guarantee I'd have voted for it, and I haven't even seen the other 5th graders' work!  I love it!

But that wasn't all the quilty goodness to be had at that party!  For her graduation present, her mom made a signature quilt for her. 

I've never seen this paper-pieced block before, but isn't it neat?  Does anyone else see little spread-eagle people standing head to head and foot to foot when they see this? (granted, the people SHARE a head...) 

And her piecing is so PRECISE!  I know that is the whole point of paper piecing, but when I do it, my seams still never really line up.  The top left corner features her kindergarten (or is it first grade?) photo, and the bottom right hand corner features her senior picture.  It is signed by all her classmates (there were only 14 of them) AND by every teacher she's ever had.  What a keepsake!

What talented neighbors I have!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

'Cause I'm stubborn like that

While visiting some Sew Mama Sew giveaways today, I came across a quilt pattern that I just loved, Summer Breeze by Melissa Corry.  Isn't it lovely?

"I can make that," I said to myself.  So when I got home, instead of hand quilting my Good Fortune Lil Twister (which needs to be done by June 2 for the baby shower, mind you), I pulled out some fabrics and set about making one for myself.  And quickly discovered why people buy patterns where the designer has already done the math.  I couldn't get one part of the blocks to line up for the life of me!

I ripped out seam after seam, and still couldn't get things to line up.

I cussed and nearly cried, but the seams still wouldn't line up.

I grit my teeth and vowed to figure this out - but so far, no luck.

If I know me, I will try again tomorrow, and possibly the next day, too. And eventually I'll have a whole quilt worth of imperfect blocks.

But even if I do figure it out, I'm going to buy the pattern from Ms. Corry - she is a better woman than I am figuring out how to make this lovely quilt.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

No longer outnumbered!

Friday was the big day - I picked up the four newest members of our family on my way home from work, four molting 2-year-old laying hens.  Allow me to introduce...

Scratch, Peck, Beakless and Tailfeathers!

(side note: those of you who are my Facebook friends know that I had to explain to my 6-year-old son why it was not a good idea to name one of them "Pecker" - she's now just "Peck" and I'm pretty sure we narrowly missed some awkward conversations with unwitting strangers...)

Jason is completely enamored with the hens.  Since they are molting, they aren't in full egg laying mode right now, but we did get three eggs this weekend.  The first egg made it to just inside the door before the boys dropped it.  Ick!  The second one made it safely to the house in our basket dedicated to egg collection.  Jason ate it for breakfast and said it tasted "better and healthier" than the ones we get from the store.  He spent much of the weekend waiting for egg number 3.  Poor hens - I told Jason he is going to give them performance anxiety if he keeps waiting around for them every time they head up into the nesting boxes!

My mother-in-law did make it to our house this weekend.  I dragged her to the birthday party we were to go to on Saturday afternoon, and then Saturday night we sat up late around a campfire roasting marshmallows while she strummed guitar and we sang Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young's "Our House" - I love that song!

Today was my 12th wedding anniversary - in 2 days it will be 19 years since I first met my husband.  Do you know that Brad Paisley song, "Then"?  That's how I feel about my husband, Adam.  I can't believe how I love him more and more every year.  Anyway, Jason and my mother-in-law shooed us back into bed when we got up so they could serve us breakfast in bed.  I then spent the rest of the morning hand quilting on the porch with my MIL - can you say "PERFECT DAY?"

After she left, I showered, whipped up a potluck dish and a going away gift for some friends (a matching crayon roll and travel tissue case for a mom of 3 boys age 6 and under), and we hopped in the car to go to their going away party.  If there are any of you who have never visited the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, I encourage you to put it on the list of places to visit.  Even just driving down the highway is gorgeous, but the back road route from our remote dirt road home to their remote dirt road home was just breathtaking.  I need to remember to appreciate the blessings I have, including living in such a beautiful place, and not take it for granted just because I see it every day.

(By the way, if you are wondering about the title of my post, a year ago, I was so outnumbered - the only female with a husband, two boys, two male cats and a male dog.  Now, the numbers are even.  Granted, my fellow females are a neurotic rescue hound and 4 molting hens, but I'll take what I can get!)

Friday, May 18, 2012

Staying awake

I don't know what is wrong with me these days - all I want to do is SLEEP!  I read a book, and my eyes are closed after only a few pages.  I try to watch a movie or a basketball game with my husband, and somehow I always miss the ending.  It seems that the only thing that keeps me awake these days is quilting.  Go figure.

I finished my May Bee Block for Ann, and plan to put that in the mail today.

June is my month, so I need to decide what I'd like people to help me make.  My first thought is this:
I copied this photo off the internet onto my computer quite a while ago and I have no idea from where - if this is yours, please let me know so I can give you credit.

It is simple, and I've been wanting to make one of these for years now - just haven't gotten around to it.  Besides, just by virtue of how the block is constructed, everyone who makes a block for me would actually end up making two blocks - is that cheating, do you think?

I've also decided to join the Zig Zag Quilt challenge.  It seems simple, and I'd like to make another baby quilt because it seems that quite a few of the people I know are discovering their fertility.  And if I win and get the quilt quilted for free - even better!

Busy weekend ahead with a brithday party for twin 8 year old girls on Saturday and a going away party for some colleagues/friends on Sunday - gotta make some little gifts for both.  And then, of course, there's the drive-in movies tonight.  It appears that my mother-in-law (who taught me to quilt in the first place!) might actually come for a visit, too!  No sleep for me this weekend!

Monday, May 14, 2012

SFO Terminal 3

Imagine my delight to find an exhibit in the terminal called "Threading the Needle: Sewing in the Machine Age," when I arrived in San Francisco on Thursday evening!   But it was getting dark and I had to get my rental car and drive an hour to a place I had never been, so I didn't dawdle.  Instead, I vowed to get back to the airport early on Saturday so I'd have time to check it out.

Fast forward past a wonderful visit with my college roommate and her family, followed by an exhausting yet exhilariting conference, and I was back in the airport on Saturday evening with hours to spare before my redeye flight back home.  I didn't photograph everything - there was simply too much - but I did pick a couple of things to share with you.  First of all, the quilt blocks:

I'm going to make a butterfly block like that some day!
The toy machines:

I'd love to get my hands on a toy machine!
The clever thread/scissor/pin holders - I love these birds!

I wonder if I can get someone with a table saw to cut some birds out for me...
The chatelaine's (I just read a book where part of a chatelaine was uncovered at an historical archeological site, and I wasn't quite sure what it was - now I know!)

If you fly through SFO anytime soon, I encourage you to mosey on down to Terminal 3 to see this for yourself.  And to think, there were people who hopped on the moving sidewalks to bypass this treasure trove!  I overheard one woman say with a sniff, "I don't think many people have time to still sew."  If only she knew!  I was so hoping that she'd be the one seated next to me while I worked on quilting my Good Fortune Lil Twister quilt on the plane ride west.
The front

The back
When I got home, the kids and hubby had cleaned the house and there were hugs, kisses and presents waiting for me.  I spent the afternoon helping Jason make his own travel pillow for our road and plane trips later this summer.  I'm sure Donald will want one at some point, too.  Jason's is flannel, for extra soft snuggliness.  I thought he'd want it to travel, but he's been wearing it around the house...
We made his a little bit smaller than mine, flannel, with a black back.

He has been wearing it ever since he finished it!

He says it is so comfortable he could sleep standing up.  Clown!
Someone asked if I had a pattern, and I don't.  I looked for one online, and there are several, but I just drew my own.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

California bound!

You guys sure are good at making someone feel better - thanks!  My kids are good at it, too - Thank God for them!  On the way to the bus stop yesterday morning, they were singing Travis Tritt's "It's a Great Day To Be Alive" song at the top of their lungs.  How can I feel blue when I'm being serenaded by such cuties with such a wonderful message?

I'm leaving for the airport as soon as I log out - headed to California to present at a conference and college fair at Stanford.  I'll get the chance to reconnect with one of my college roommates tonight just outside San Francisco - yay!  I hate that we live a continent apart, but we actually see each other about twice per year, which isn't bad.

But I have long flights ahead of me.  I always envy the people with the neck pillows, but I'm too cheap to buy one.  Today, I took matters into my own hands and made one. 
I've been wearing it around the house all morning.  So far, it is pretty darned comfortable!  I think I want to make a patchwork one next...

I also sandwiched the Good Fortune Lil Twister quilt with this fun fabric - I had exactly enough, which to me was a sign that this was the right one and to stop pulling out everything in my stash to audition:

I'm taking it with me and praying that airport security doesn't take my safety pins and quilting needles.  Even though the baby isn't due until July, I found out yesterday that the baby shower is the first weekend in June.  Gotta get crackin"!  And just in case TSA robs me again, I have 4 books and my toothbrush needle and rag rug materials to work on, too.  By golly, I'm going to get SOMETHING done while I fly the friendly skies.

Have a great weekend, and to all you mothers out there - YOU ROCK!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Feeling blue

I'm feeling a bit blue today.  It is probably partially the weather - the sun has only been out for about 3 hours total in the last 5 days.  But it is also partially all the BAD that happens in the world.  You already know about my young, new dad co-worker who was diagnosed with ALS.  I wish they would hurry up and find a cure because he's a great guy, and his family needs him.  I support him as much as I can at work and through his website, but I wish there were more I could do.

Then, two weeks ago or so, there was that drive-by shooting in Seattle.  That shouldn't affect me much living in Virginia, right?  Wrong.  The girl who was killed was the girlfriend of my uncle's girlfriend's son, a family that has been in my life for over a decade.  So while I didn't know Nicole Westbrook, I'm really hurting for her boyfriend who held her as she died, and his mom who just wants to take the pain away for her son, and my uncle, who is surrounded by grieving people.  To say nothing of Nicole Westbrook's family.

Then, last night, my husband told me that the younger brother of one of his former players has leukemia.  This is a kid I saw regularly for 4 years, a kid named Zippy whose zest for life matches his name, a kid whose adult life hasn't even begun yet.  Again, I wish I could help, but what can I do?  I can donate money, and I can make a quilt, so that is what I started last night.  I'm hoping to make something like this Fading Charms Quilt, but with larger squares so I can get it together faster.  We'll see.

On a happier note, I did finish putting the borders on my Good Fortune Lil Twister quilt last night AND I straightened up my sewing room a bit so that it doesn't so much look like a real twister hit it.

Anyone know a good joke to cheer me up?

Monday, May 7, 2012

Winning attitude

I've had to check my attitude a bit this past week.  Things haven't quite gone according to plan.  But I'm proud of myself for seeking and latching onto that ever-present silver lining.

First, lots of great ideas for names for the Charm Quilt.  The Random Number Generator selected commenter #11, Colorslut, as the winner of the 25 Charm Squares from me, which will be going out in the mail soon.

But before the name could be decided, there was a minor incident.  You see, my washer is on the blink again, so I brought the quilt to town with me to wash at the laundrymat along with the rest of my laundry.  I thought I'd be fine since I always pre-wash my fabrics, but I brought a couple of Shout Color Catchers to throw in, just in case.  Of course, I forgot that not all the  Charm Squares came from my stash, so some of them were from fabric that had never been washed.  And wouldn't you know it, some of the fabrics ran.  Not a lot, just enough to annoy me, and here I was, at a laundrymat half an hour from my home and a tight schedule and no extra color catchers, etc.  I had no choice but to take the quilt home with me.

I did a quick search online before leaving town, though, to see if there was something I should buy and soak the quilt in to fix the problem before drying the quilt.  Someone mentioned RIT Color Remover.  OK, I know where to find that, so I picked it up on my way home.  I put the quilt in some water to soak with this Color Remover, sure that soon my quilt would be back to its former glory and all clean and crinkly to boot.


Here's the before picture:

Here's the after picture:

I didn't cry.  I didn't cuss.  I didn't vomit, even though I felt a bit ill when I saw just how many COLORS had been REMOVED from my newly completed quilt and how unevenly they were removed.  Instead, I reassured myself that at least now, I would get to keep a quilt that I had made, since there was no way I was going to give something this UGLY to someone else.  My hubby made a great point - that it could be my home theater cuddle quilt since it is so dark down there that no one would be able to see it.  Now, I'm just kinda wishing I had ruined a larger quilt...but not really.

So now, I'm having no problems coming up with names for this puppy...

All Washed Up
 Faded Dreams
 Butt Ugly

I could go on and on...

Live and learn, right?  Any of you have some TRIED AND TRUE methods to share with me to get just a tiny bit of color running out of a quilt top without going all Tim "The Tool Man" Taylor from Home Improvement on it like I did?

The week wasn't all ugly.  I took Friday off to attend the first day of our annual Guild Quilt Retreat.  My checkboard flimsy
turned into this:

I was surprised at how quickly it went together, but also at how much the top shrank down.  What started out at 40.5" x 36" is now 22" X 25".  There was quite a bit of leftover fabric that COULD have been waste, but not for this Bonnie Hunter protoge!  I cut down what I could to make a pieced border (which I hope to get on there tonight), and the rest went into my 1.5" squares tin.  And being famous for being a scrap collector, many of my fellow retreat-ers gave me their leftovers as well.  I was able to add lots of variety to my 1.5", 2" and 2.5" squares tins.  And I'm happy to say I got it all trimmed up while I was there, so no scraps that still needed cutting came home with me.

Saturday was another "look for the silver lining" day.  I was invited to be a vendor and demonstrator at the Old Middlebrook Village Day in a nearby town.  It is an old-timey event with live music, food, and crafters.  I went last year, too, and it was lots of fun for not just me, but my kids, too.  Wouldn't you know it - it rained ALL DAY LONG!  A few hardy souls came out, but mostly it was just us vendors huddling under our tents, trying to stay warm and dry.  I'm so glad I was a hand-quilting demonstrator - not only did my quilt keep me warm throughout the day, but I also was able to make some progress quilting my Pick and Choose quilt.  Plus, I did sell a couple of things, enough to buy the kids and myself lunch and make a couple purchases from other vendors.  So, I spent a day sewing while my children cavorted about having a ball, and I made enough to break even on the day.  That's not all bad, right?

I will say that yesterday I did nothing except eat, nap and read.  After all the disappointment of the week, I needed some time to recharge my batteries so I could come to work with a winning attitude today.