Saturday, July 28, 2012

Way ahead!

My fabric for the August Bee Block arrived early, so here it is still July, and I've already gotten my August block done - awesome!

I'm not the only one way ahead these days. My kids swam in their championship swim meet today. Donald came in first in the backstroke for his age group, finishing a full 10 seconds before any of the other kids! He was cool about it, but I'm so happy for him I could pop!

Jason said it best on his back:

Tomorrow is my husband's birthday.  I'm not sure what he wants to do with the day, but I hope there is time for some porch sitting and some quilting.  I wish summer could last forever - it is my absolute favorite time of year!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Cognitive fatigue?

My brain hurts.  I have been scrappy and wonky for so long that this month's bee block really strained my brain.  The block is beautiful, but I was really stressed out about putting all those HST in the right place.  The construction isn't challenging, per se, but you do have to pay attention.  Isn't this the SWOON block?  There was a time when I thought I'd like to make one.  Well, I can cross that off my list.  Making a whole quilt of these blocks would send me off the deep end.  How smart of her to make this her Bee Block - have everyone else make the blocks for you.  Genius!

My quilt is home from the fair.  Now I can finish up the quilting and just admire it.  I wish it were just a tad bit bigger so I could have it on my bed.  It is 77" square (well, kinda square), and it covers the top of my queen sized bed, but if either I or my husband were to roll over, the other one would be left out in the cold.  

Oh well. I have a scrappy green and cream quilt I've been working on for years that is probably big enough to cover my bed. I must finish it - I can't go through another winter without a quilt on my bed - it just isn't RIGHT!  Of course, I've said that before. This post from 2009 references the fact that I started quilting this quilt for myself years before and hadn't finished yet, and that was three years ago!
I hosted a quilting bee at my house back in 2004 or 2005 - that's how long ago I started this quilt.  Time to finish it, wouldn't you say?

Friday, July 20, 2012


I promised my kids that we'd go to the county fair last night, but this has been the "Summer of the Storms" here in southwestern Virginia, and last night was no exception.  Heavy rain, thunder and lightning meant that the midway rides were closed down.  We went anyway to see everything else going on.  We started with the quilt show (of course!).  As I walked up to my quilt, I was hoping against hope for a green ribbon, Honorable Mention.   I've gotten 2 of those in the past, for this baby quilt
Honorable Mention - hand quilted, 2010 Rockbridge County Fair Quilt Show
and for this mini quilt,
Honorable Mention, Miniature (although also hand quilted), 2008? or 2007? Rockbridge County Fair Quilt Show
and well, heck, it just feels nice to be recognized, doesn't it?  But I knew it was unlikely.  After all, my quilt wasn't even DONE, for heaven's sake.  So when I didn't see the green hanging there, I admit to feeling just a bit crestfallen. 

Until I got a little closer and saw the RED RIBBON!!!! 

Are you kidding me?  Second place!?!  I am just over the MOON!!!  To say I was surprised doesn't even do my feelings justice.  I must have let out a shriek or something, because all of a sudden, other people at the quilt show were peeking around the other quilts at me to see what was going on.

After that, I didn't care that I got wet and dirty wandering the fairgrounds with the boys.  We got our dinner, followed up, of course, with yummy funnel cake.  We watched them show some cattle, and then checked out the rest of the animals on our own, petting all of them at least twice, I think.  The cutest thing, though, was this kid, born right there at the fair just hours before.  Isn't he/she just adorable!

Before we got back home, my husband called to let us know that a tree had fallen across our road during the storm, and that we'd have to park the car, climb the fence into our neighbor's pasture, and hoof it back up the last STEEP hill to our house.

To my kids, this sounded like a fun adventure, so they were pretty disappointed when we got home and my AMAZING NEIGHBORS had already cleared the road.

Who says life in the country is slow and boring and predictable?  NOT ME!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Board meeting vs. BORED meeting

I have a Board Meeting once a month for our non-profit community-owned drive-in movies here in town, and I usually have to bring my kids along with me.  They call them BORED meetings, and I can understand why - what 7 year old wants to spend 2 hours discussing the price of buttered popcorn or staffing issues or fundraising ideas?  (although, Jason did suggest one time that we use kids as carhops so people can order from their cars, and we are actually considering it for next season!)

Our meeting space is actually right next door to the (indoors) movie theater in town, so last night, I let them go see The Amazing Spiderman (again!) while I went to my meeting next door.  Boy were they excited, not just to miss the BORED meeting, but also to go to the movies alone! (turns out, one of the city cops that we know was seated behind them, so when they came out of the theater, he let me know that they were perfectly behaved - I couldn't have planned it any better if I had tried!)

I brought my little pink and green scrap quilt to work on at the meeting.  I know some people think it is wrong to sew or knit at a meeting, but truly, it helps me to stay focused on what is going on at the meeting rather than daydream about what else I'd rather be doing.  And I participate MUCH MORE than some Board Members who sit there silently (with nothing in their hands) throughout the entire meeting, so they can't claim I'm not paying attention.

Anyway, I'm really liking this big stitch quilting.  I will definitely give this a try on some other quilts. 

I have some wide open white space, and wasn't sure how to fill that. I was thinking, since it is embroidery floss, perhaps I could try some french knots. LOVE IT!

Hmmm, that one on the bottom right is crooked...I wonder how much that is going to bother me.  Enough to take it out and do it again?  Unlikely!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012


With both Spiderman and Batman movies out this summer, I'm not surprised that the boys have resurrected their superhero action figures and are saving the world in the backseat every time we get in the car.  Even adults are in on the act, re-igniting that age-old question, "If you could have any superpower in the world, what would it be?" (what would YOURS be, by the way?)

Have you seen this Amy Bradley applique pattern for SUPERQUILTER?  Following the whole "superhero" theme, someone made one of these and entered it in the fair this year!
I want to say, "the ability to heal others with just a touch," but guys, at my core, I am just more selfish than that.  When asked that very question this past weekend, I responded, "to be able to stop time for everyone except for me.  While everyone else is in suspended animation, I could catch up on my sleep without missing anything important or exciting, finish up projects on time, and come up with witty responses to snarky comments that are made to me - you know, the ones where you wake up in the middle of the night and say, 'Man, I should have said THAT!'."

(sigh) Mother Theresa, I am not.  But I was feeling a lot of self-imposed pressure this weekend.  My Pick and Choose quilt had to be turned in to the fair by Monday at noon if it was to hang in the quilt show.  I've had a quilt in the fair every year for the last 8 years, and I wasn't about to miss this one.  It shouldn't have been a problem, I was close to being done, and had all weekend to work on it.  But then, at the last minute, the boys and I were invited to a karate leadership overnight retreat, complete with ropes course participation, and I couldn't NOT let my kids (and myself) participate just because I'm a procrastinator.  So we went, and I worked on the quilt during the 10 minutes of free time after meals and surreptitiously with my Bean N Read light in the cabin after lights out. (GREAT purchase, by the way.  I even quilted at the drive-in last weekend!)  Then, on Sunday night, I pulled an all-nighter trying to get it done, taking one 2-hour nap, and then a 15 minute nap every hour on the hour from 4 AM on. 

I got SO CLOSE to being done, but not quite.  Another hour and a half would have been enough time, but as it turns out, we came home from our retreat to find that one of our hens, Peck, had died, and I had a very sad little boy to console and a chicken funeral to facilitate. (side note: I live in Rockbridge County.  After digging a grave for Peck, I'll say our county is aptly named - there are rocks EVERYWHERE!)  All that took about 2 hours, but I'd rather have a not-quite-done quilt and a kid who had someone to help him deal with his grief over the passing of his favorite hen, than a completed quilt and a bereft boy.

So, I turned in the not-quite-done quilt.  One block, which is actually at about eye level now that the quilt is hanging, is not as quilted as the other 24 blocks, and the 4 corners of the quilt have no quilting in them at all.  The judge will not like it, but let's be honest, I wasn't going to be winning any awards anyway - we have some uber-talented hand quilters in this area, and I just can't compete.  The whole point of entering a quilt is to 1) make sure I finish at least one quilt a year and 2) promote quilting and our guild throughout the area.  So I think I'll post a challenge on Facebook for my local friends - visit my quilt at the quilt show at the fair, pick out which block is not quite done, and I'll give a handmade little something to everyone who gets it right.  There is more to the county fair than the animals and the music and the midway, after all!

Now that my quilt is entered, did I take a break from quilting?  Heck no!  I had an hour at home yesterday between work and the boys' swim meet, so I sandwiched a little doll/baby quilt that I made 7  years ago from left over strips and bonus triangles from a quilt I made for a friend.

I've been wanting to try my hand at BIG STITCH quilting with embroidery floss.  So there I was at the pool for the second week in a row, QUILTING in the 90+ degree heat.  (yup, I'm that crazy quilt lady in town for sure now!)

I think it is harder to keep the stitch sizes even when they are so big, but so far, I am liking this method of quilting, and am already thinking of other quilts I'd like to do it in. 

Do you have photos online of quilts you have quilted using the BIG STITCH method and embroidery floss?  If so, I'd love it if you'd post a link in a comment so I can see and get ideas.

And once I get to spend some daylight hours at home again (not this week - I can't believe how busy we are this week!), I want to finish up blocks for my Let's Bee Together quilt.  I received blocks from 3 more participants recently, and I LOVE how the quilt is coming along!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Crunch Time!

I wish I were spending more time in Blogland, but it is crunch time for me.  I entered my Pick and Choose quilt in the county fair this year, but it isn't done yet! 
I started quilting this quilt LAST summer, and I'm STILL not done!  Granted, I've finished several other quilts in the meantime, but SHEESH!
I have to turn it in on Monday morning.  I am quilting every chance I get.  I took the kids to the pool yesterday, and sat in the shade quilting while they were swimming.  We watched Eragon last night since we listened to the book on CD while driving all over creation on vacation, and I sat there with my LED neck lamp in our darkened movie theater so I could see to quilt while watching the movie.  I've been carrying my quilt back and forth to work every day so I can work on it during my lunch breaks.  I'm going to be known around town as "that crazy quilt lady!" carrying a quilt with me everywhere I go, but I have got to get it done!

Other than that, no sewing per se, but I did make some Scrabble tile earrings for myself and my sisters and my mom while on vacation this year
E is for ERIN!  Well, for Ericka in this photo since that is my sister's ear, but we're identical twins - that's what my ear looks like, too!
and got so many favorable comments about them from complete strangers while wearing them, that I spent some time last weekend making more (13 pair!) and put them in my ETSY shop

My head is spinning with all kinds of new and exciting projects I'd like to be working on, but first, I MUST FINISH THIS QUILT!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Too much to report!

I'll finish this post the same way I started my last one - I LOVE VACATION!  I had a marvelous 2+ weeks, cavorting around the Northeast, visiting family and having fun.  Too bad this is the last day of freedom for me.  There's too much to report in just one post, so I'm just going to pick out a couple of things to share for now.

Like the MOUNTAIN of mail that was awaiting me upon my return Monday night.  I spent a ridiculous amount of time on Tuesday opening mail, paying bills, and shredding paper.  The only thing that made opening all of it bearable was the squishy mail interspersed with all the bills and solicitations.  June was my month for Let's Bee Together, and I asked the other Bee Members to make 2 HST blocks from a WOW and some scrappy strips that I sent.  I have received blocks back from 5 members so far, and I love the way the quilt is coming along (with the 4 or 6 blocks I've made):

Monday itself was a long, but fun day, with the exception of the fright I suffered early on.  We started the day in Easton, PA, where the kids and I had spent the night with my MIL on our way south from New Hampshire.  Getting out of town was a challenge because I packed everything into the car, stopped for gas, cash and iced coffee, but before getting on the highway, something prompted me to double-check to make sure my quilt that I've been working on was in the car.  I couldn't find it anywhere, so back to MIL's house we went to see if I had left it there.  I thought I remembered taking it out of the car there the night before, mistakenly thinking I was going to put a few stitches in in the morning, but I was so punch-drunk tired when we arrived late the night before that I wasn't completely sure I wasn't imagining that.  We searched the house but couldn't find it anywhere.  I emptied the car again, wondering if I had overlooked it.  Nope.  Then, on a whim, I checked the garage.  There it was, in the plastic bag that I had been carrying it around in, leaning up against the trashcans.  Apparently, Granny, who just celebrated her 93rd birthday, was cleaning her room while I was in the shower, and decided it was trash.  I am SO GLAD I had that premonition to check for the quilt and to look in the garage.  Can you imagine my heartbreak if I would have lost it forever?

Needless to say, I didn't get any quilting done on that quilt on that day, but I did do a spot of quilting, and so did the kids.  We stopped at the Kutztown Folk Festival on our way south.  For years, I've been wanting to go, but the timing never worked out.  It was mostly craft vendors, and let me tell you, if I had deeper pockets and went without the kids, I'd have bought LOADS of stuff!  There are some really talented and creative people out there!

The kids weren't all that interested in the vendors, particularly when they realized that I wasn't going to buy them anything, so we sought out the interactive things.  My favorite, of course, was the Visitor Quilt, just outside the Quilt Barn (that had 2000 beautiful quilts for sale!) where visitors could quilt a square and sign his/her name.  My square:

Donald's square - he was hilarious - kept asking if there were supposed to be huge knots on the bottom part of the quilt:

And Jason's square - I'm not sure what happened here, he started off fine, but ended up making stitches ACROSS the line like a surgeon rather than along the line:


I think the quilters were glad when we finished because Jason and Donald talked a constant stream while quilting.

They also talked the ear off the guy giving guitar lessons:

And the gal helping them make Apple Cider:

And the guys showing them how to use an old-fashioned laundry wringer:

I had to laugh at the sign!
I know they sure talked MY ear off all day long!  But they are such great travel and adventure companions, I really can't complain.

(By the way, the Kutztown Folk Festival continues through July 8 if you live in or are passing through Pennsylvania.  Adult admission is $14, but there are $3 off coupons all over the place - that's what I used - and kids under 13 are FREE!).