Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Monday - 1, Erin - 0

Yesterday kicked my butt.  Getting back into a rhythm at work was rough.  After work, I taught the READY TO QUILT class at the elementary school, and they didn't assign me a helper yesterday so that was rough.  The kids were doing more embroidery, finishing up some of the letters we didn't get to last time, plus creating the blocks for the county fair quilt.  It will be an alphabet quilt, so the kids traced some designs that I brought onto fabric, colored them, and then started to outline the letters with a back stitch.  Their blocks are looking pretty good, but I swear, all I did was thread needle after needle after needle...

Then my son had basketball practice, and I took him to not one, but TWO wrong schools before I got him to the school where he was actually having practice.  He hates being late.  Poor kid, he got the wrong mother for that.

When I got home, I opened the Hurricane Sandy Relief Quilts mail:
There were 15 of these beauties donated.  I'm going to find a green to sash them and have a ball putting these together. Thanks, anonymous member of the Hooks and Needles Guild in SC.
35 more blocks - thanks, Hooks and Needles Guild in SC, Karin in South Africa, Ann in TX and Denise in OR! 
and that was it.  After I finished reading to the boys at bedtime, I got in bed to read for myself and was out like a light before I even turned a page.  My hubby got home shortly after 9 to find me knocked out, drooling on my book, lights blazing.

I keep thinking today will be better, but it is lunch time and I am in a foul mood.  I'm going to look ahead to after work - NO SCHEDULED ACTIVITIES!  I'm going straight home!  (well, after a quick stop at the library and the bank...)

Plus, a family friend (Uncle Ted) is coming for a visit from Maine AND I already have dinner in the CrockPot!  The day just has to get better, doesn't it?

Monday, November 26, 2012

Back at it!

I'm back at work. Yay.

(was that convincing?)

The problem with working is that it keeps me from doing other things.  I put together another quilt top this weekend, but I have so many more to go!
The 4th top I've assembled so far.
4 more blocks arrived on Saturday - thanks Marlene from New Zealand and Robin from CA!  Aren't they pretty?

And I finished one open block on my Scrappy String Star quilt, but there are 3 more of those to fill up.
I'm loving the look, even if I did orient it sideways.  Looks very folk artsy to me. 
Close up of my big stitches with embroidery floss
I made 4 freehand mugs for November's Block Lotto, but I'd love to make the maximum 9 blocks so I have more chances to win.

Instead, I'm at work.

Better get back to it.

Happy Monday, everyone. (in my best Eeyore voice)

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Lowering expectations

That sweatshop I thought I'd be running for the last few days never materialized.  What was I thinking?  I don't SEW at Thanksgiving!  I EAT!  And play games with my family!

Luckily, I did get right to work on Wednesday, and finished a top which is now winging its way to Char for quilting.  Thanks, Char!

And I spent some time admiring the package that arrived on Wednesday - a quilted disappearing 4-patch top that I had sent to Anita in MI, along with 10 blocks of her own making.  I plan to get this to a local binding volunteer this weekend and hopefully get it up north sometime next week.
Thanks, Anita!
All done except for the binding.  Thanks, Anita!
Lovely meander quilting
Bright pieced backing, with a piece of that beautiful turquoise fabric thrown in the package to make a coordinated binding! 
Sue also finished two quilts with the blocks I sent to her!  They are on their way to their final destination, but she was kind enough to send photos for me to share here.  Do you see any of your blocks?
Completed quilt number one - quilted by Sue R
Completed quilt number 2 - quilted by Sue R
The blue back and binding of quilt number one with meander quilting 
The two tone purple backing and binding of quilt number two 
This makes 4 completed disappearing 4-patch quilts, with many more in various stages of completion, including 3 at or on their way to quilters. (Thanks, Marilyn, Mary Ann and Char!)

Then came Thanksgiving.  We spent it at my brother's house, about an hour away.  There was so much food that not everything could be made on the stove - here he is making the gravy on the woodstove!

A highlight was meeting my new 4-month old cousin (or second cousin once removed, if we are being specific - I finally learned what all that means).  My kids, who have been begging me to have another baby for years now, were thrilled.  Don't I look good with a baby?  :)

Another highlight was all the games we played, although I'll be honest, I lose nearly everything I play.  We played Kick the Can in the dark on Thanksgiving night - lots of shrieking and running and laughing.  I feel like I was "it" forever!  Then, on Friday, we played the longest, but most fun, game of two-hand-touch football EVER (final score was 105 - 77), played the Settlers of Cataan (I love that game!), and played a couple games of Bid Whist (I need to learn to keep my mouth shut and not bid unless I KNOW I can make bid!).  I ran and laughed and had more fun than I've had in quite some time, but this morning, I am typing this blog post in bed - I am tired and sore and feeling twice my age!

Luckily, there are lots of things you can do from bed.  Open Friday's mail: 81 blocks, a cone of thread, $30 for batting and postage, and lots of BINDING!
Lots and lots of pre-made binding!  Thanks, Andrea!
Beautiful blocks!  Thanks, Celine, Sharon, Donna, Diane, Debbie, Leila and the Lake Monticello Piecemakers, Andrea, and (no first name) Backmeier!
EDITED - thanks, Jaye! 
Something else I plan to do from bed today is do some hand quilting.  I took my Let's Bee Together String Star Block quilt with me to my brother's to work on a bit.  I made progress, choosing this design to put in the large white squares,
I'm doing Big Stitch quilting with colorful embroidery floss, and instead of marking my quilt, I marked the design on Press and Seal and am quilting through that.  I've done that with regular quilting before, we'll see how easily it comes away with big stitch quilting.
but I noticed this morning that the design is facing sideways, instead of up as I had envisioned.  Ugh!  Do I take out the stitches?  Do I just put all 4 of these designs in sideways and act like I meant it that way?  Do I leave this one sideways and make the others with the correct orientation and leave that mistake in there? Decisions, decisions, decisions!  What would YOU do?

And my husband's team has another basketball game today, which I plan to listen to on the radio.  During that time, I should at least be able to complete another top to send out for quilting (Anita has graciously offered to quilt another one or two for us).  I always think I can get so much more done than I actually do.  I think I need to lower my expectations a bit.  No matter - the slower I work, the longer I get to admire everyone else's blocks.

There are many things I am thankful for this Thanksgiving season, and one of them is belonging to such a special, generous, talented, creative community of quilters!  Thank you for all you have done to help make this project work!  Just so you know, we've received 962 quilt blocks to date - that's enough for more than 20 quilts!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012


The blocks keep pouring in!  Thank goodness for time away from work for Thanksgiving so I can get down in my sewing room and SEW!  I'm about to turn that room into a SWEATSHOP, with some time set aside to EAT!  My brother is hosting this year, so that takes a huge weight off my shoulders.  Plus, I just finished a major project at work, so that is a relief, too.  I've been working my tail off lately, getting only 4 and 5 hours of sleep most nights - I can't survive like that for long!

So here's what came on Monday:
95 quilt blocks (including 42 from 1 person!) - thanks, Sue S, Teri J, Barbara R, Karen W, Susan R, Gloria B, and Judy C! 
And here's today's mail:
3 blocks from Michele in Ontario - thanks, Michele!
a cheater cloth backing from Lynda in Nevada - so cool!
And a batting and some yardage from Lynda, too - thanks, Lynda! 
Monday was also the third meeting of my quilting class at the elementary school.  Since they had deconstructed lots of jeans at our first meeting, I cut the denim down to 7.5" squares, and they started sewing them together, rag quilt style with some up-cycled linens on the back.

only 2 rows of 5 are sewn together so far with one more set of five ready to be added 
We also started to work on our county fair entry quilt.  It is to be a combination of colored (with crayons) and embroidered blocks, so they started with some embroidered blocks, using a simple backstitch, to spell out "CENTRAL ELEMENTARY, READY TO QUILT".  Some of them took right to it and completed or nearly completed their letters.
Some of the completed or nearly completed letters - we used red, blue and green variegated #8 perle cotton 
Close up of one of the letters - bigger stitches than I suggested, but for these kids' first time, I think they did great! 
Others really struggled, and I have some knotted messes to untangle before next time, but all in all, it was probably our best class yet.  Right at dismissal, one of the girls came up and hugged me and said, "I love you!"  My heart swelled so much it hurt!

OK, here I go, less typing, more sewing!  Have a wonderful Thanksgiving, everyone!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Special delivery!!

I'm back!  What a wonderful trip to NJ and NY.  Part of the joy was not having to drive - the boys and I rode on the sleeper bus with my husband's basketball team, so during the ride I napped, watched movies, got some work done, and worked on the binding for the disappearing 4-patch quilt.

On Friday, I got a ride to Keyport, NJ to deliver quilts to Hillary, the President of the Blankie Depot, which is right in one of the affected communities.  (on the drive there, we saw boats upside down in people's yards - very surreal!) I dropped off 5 quilts there (I still wasn't done with the binding on the 6th).
There were 180 other quilts in her dining room, too, all scheduled to be distributed on Monday. 
Hillary is not a quilter, but is a fan and friend of quilters, so she had some treasures in her house that she allowed me to photograph.
Hand quilted and hanging on her living room wall - I love the pattern and the colors 
Close up of a hand quilted tablerunner in her living room
Then, on Saturday, the boys and I went to NY to visit Victoria.  (visit her site, she has a more complete photo of the quilt) I did some binding in my hotel room,

and on the train to New York, but I finished the binding on the quilt while sitting in her awesome loft in the garment district.  She joked that part of how she can get so much done is living and working in what used to be a sweatshop and having the spirits of all those garment workers from days gone by helping her out.  I love it!

And you know what else I loved?  Getting an in-person peek at her quilts in her newly released book, 15 Minutes of Play.  I'll definitely be buying this one!  It is technique, not patterns, and her quilts are so creative and inspirational!  I'll be honest, I was pretty star struck while I was there - I've been reading her blog for years and have so much respect for her.

After leaving her place, the kids and I walked to Bryant Park to ice skate on Citi Pond.  Apparently, my boys have never gone ice skating before, but they took to it like ducks to water.

The purpose of the trip wasn't just for quilt delivery, of course, but also for basketball.  My husband's team won their season opener against Tufts on Friday, then lost a heart-breaker to Rutgers Newark on Saturday.  Since my husband is from New Jersey, much of his family came out to support him, which was wonderful!
His mom, his brother, his sister, his niece, two cousins, his aunt and his aunt. Even more people came out Friday night, but of course I forgot my camera!
Then, when I arrived home, look what was waiting!
35 packages in the mail!
It took me an hour and a half to open it all and record all the addresses in my spreadsheet. (Please know that if you've sent me anything, you'll be receiving an official THANK YOU in a couple of weeks.  For now, I'm just trying to keep up with the mail - and my job, and my kids, and my afterschool program quilting class, and karate, and cub scouts - so I'm not emailing anyone directly, just listing names on here under MY HEROES and adding them to my spreadsheet for later.  I hope you understand.)

All those packages yielded this - 312 blocks, one pieced backing and 3 other solid backings, lots of yardage, $100 for batting, 65 assorted other quilt blocks, lots of yardage, some flannel squares
Thanks, Julie, The Quilter's Group, Cheryl, Hetty, Ruth, Pam, Charlene, Judith, Kate, Betty, Candy, Diane, Nicki, Selina, Maureen, Erin, Megan, Sarah, Ellen, Linda F, Gain, Patricia W, Linda B, Karen, Suzanne, Patricia C, Valierie, Patty, Doreen, Alice, Sharon, Barb, Becki, P Thomsen and the Sew Blessed Quilters!
A Jelly Roll quilt top that I may try to add borders to in order to make it twin sized - thanks, Alice! 
A fun, completed baby quilt - thanks, Barb!
And a completed snuggly flannel baby quilt - thanks, Barb!
The notes of encouragement that you guys include are so sweet, but I gotta tell you, this wouldn't happen without ALL OF YOU!!!  You guys deserve the thanks!  Without you, I may have gotten two quilts done and up there, but more than likely just one.  Instead, we are going to keep dozens of people warm this winter.  THANKS!


Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The Princess and the Pea?

Tomorrow afternoon, the boys and I are headed to New Jersey on the bus with my husband's basketball team.  While there, we are going to deliver our first 6 quilts to Project Linus New Jersey on Friday, and then meet with Victoria Wolfe (of 15 Minutes of Play and Bumblebeans fame) on Saturday to learn more about the quilt drive taking place on her side of the river.  My plan is to alternate recipients - I want to make sure they are going to people in both New York AND New Jersey.

So, in anticipation, I laid out all 6 quilts on my bed for photos.  Let me tell you, I am so tempted to cuddle down underneath all of that warmth and beauty!  Or lie on top and pretend I'm the princess from The Princess and the Pea!
I'll sew the binding on tonight and then hand stitch it down on the bus tomorrow.  Thanks, Mary Ann, for assembling and quilting.  

A completed quilt donated by Mary Ann - thanks!

A completed quilt donated by Anita.  Thanks, Anita!  This is my favorite!

Another completed quilt donated by Anita.  Thanks again, Anita!

Can you believe Anita completed and donated THREE whole quilts?  Thanks again, Anita

I love this quilt, so had to put up another photo - thanks, Maria!

And look at all the other quilt blocks that arrived yesterday - 132 more blocks bringing our total to date up to 461.  That's nearly enough for 11 quilts!

Week one of my READY TO QUILT workshop is done at the elementary school.  If I do this again, I will definitely limit the number of kids in my workshop.  Honestly, I didn't think that many people would be interested, but I have 23 third through fifth graders and ten K through second graders.  I thought the younger kids would be harder, but nope!

Nevertheless, I think the classes were a success.  All of the kids made a bookmark out of upcycled denim and a fabric of their choice.  They disassembled the jeans for the denim donation quilt.  And they all began designing and picking out fabric for their composition book cover.  I don't know what the protocol is for sharing photos of those kids, so here are my two goofballs with their bookmarks.

And last night was a cub scout Pack Meeting.  I brought in a bag of ties so the boys could learn how to tie a tie, led by none other than my son, Jason, tie tying expert extraordinaire!

and I also brought 3 international students from the University, so the boys could learn about languages and cultures in other countries (from left to right, China - Rwanda - Vietnam).  Look, they are learning how to tie a tie, too!

And finally, we collected our Operation Christmas Child boxes to send to kids overseas, and look how many the boys packed!  I love the variety of expressions on their faces.

Please know that I'll be out of town until Sunday morning, so there won't be any new names added to the My Heroes list until I get back.  I'm so excited to spend a couple of days away from work - work has been kicking my butt lately!