Friday, December 18, 2015

The best thing

I help people make things every day, but one project in particular this year has meant more to me than all the others combined.  A friend and former co-worker lost his battle with ALS on February 20 this year.  For the past few months, I've been helping his young widow make two patchwork duvet covers for their small daughters from his t-shirts.  Today, she finished, just in time to wrap them up for Christmas.  I can just imagine the girls snuggling under their daddy's shirts as their mom tucks them in at night.

I am so happy for her, but I'm also feeling a renewed sense of loss.  I've enjoyed getting to know her better during our hours together in the shop.  I've enjoyed reminiscing about Tony.  I've enjoyed spending time with their precious daughters.  I'm sure I'll still see her around, but I'm going to miss our time together.  When I got home tonight, I couldn't stop thinking about Tony and the family he left behind, so I visited his blog,  I hadn't visited since a few days after his death, so I hadn't realized that Amanda had picked up writing where he left off.  I've been reading with tears streaming down my face for hours, partially from missing Tony, but even more from heartbreak for my new friend, Amanda.  Life has dealt her a tough hand, but she has played it with strength, dignity, humor and humility.  I am honored that she let me be a part of this project, and hopeful that this is the beginning of a new friendship.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Lots of little things

This week was eaten up by lots of little projects, mostly for other people.

  • I transferred 11 patches from one boy scout shirt to another.  Pure tedium.  I hate using invisible thread almost as much as I hate sewing things onto sleeves.  Put the two together and  - UGH!
  • I hand embroidered a recipient's name onto a quilt her grandmother made her.  Fun, but fiddly.  I prefer to do hand embroidery BEFORE a project is finished, sandwiched and quilted.  I had to be careful to make sure I only went through the top layer of the quilt, not all the way to the back.  I turned out really nice, but, of course, I forgot to take a photo.
  • I made some tooth fairy pillows for my nephew since he has his first ever loose tooth.  They chose the brown one, so I guess I'll sell the green one since all my other tooth fairy pillows have sold out.

Tooth Fairy Pillow
Back of Tooth Fairy Pillow where tooth/money goes

They chose this one for my nephew
I wonder how much teeth will cost in their household.
However, some of my finishes were for ME!  I finally wove in the ends of my Isadora Cowl - I've worn it twice already this week; it is so warm and cozy!
We all know by now that my favorite color is orange, right?
I sewed together these orphan pinwheel blocks that were in a bag of donated fabric.  Now what to do with them?

It currently measures 16" x 22".

Do they want to be a mini/doll quilt?  This is about the right size for an American Girl doll, right?  Or are they the start of an Orphan Quilt since I somehow lost the Orphan quilt I finished in July 2010.  I don't even have photos of it anymore.  :(

I have some other little things to get done before heading back to work on Tuesday.

  • The person I knit the Little Avery Sweater for, along with a matching hat, has now asked for another hat for a friend.  I'll try to get that done today and in the mail tomorrow.
  • Next week's project with the after school program kids is an apron.  We've done some full aprons in the past, so part of me wants to make half aprons.  Anyone have a half apron pattern that they love?  I hope to whip up a sample on Monday.
  • And just because no weekend is complete for me without some quality reading time, I want to finish my current cozy (A Novel Time To Die - A Black Cat Bookshop mystery) and spend some more time with Claire and Jamie in Dragonfly in Amber (the second of the Outlander series).  Last weekend I read The Cat, The Sneak and The Secret, the latest of the Cats in Trouble mysteries.  If you like cozies and you haven't read those, the protagonist is a quilter - BONUS!
Well, and then there's that holiday sneaking up on me, the one for which I have done NO creating, NO decorating and NO shopping.  I need to get on the ball!  Enjoy the rest of your weekend, y'all!

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Getting into the spirit of things!

I'm that mom who is always too busy to decorate for the holidays, the one who buys the Christmas tree on December 23 (but on the upside, it is usually only half-price by then!).  I promised my kids that it would be different this year.  I still refuse to decorate before December starts, but I'm trying to catch the holiday spirit earlier this year. (and by holiday spirit, I mean decorating spirit.  I believe in holding onto the real "holiday spirit", the spirit of loving and caring for one another, all year long)  So, true to my word, I'm getting started.  I'm teaching a Magic Christmas Stocking class at the shop in a couple of weeks, and a trio of girls from W&L stopped by this week to make some while they were on break from classes.

As I cleaned up our fabric and batting scraps, I got to thinking...what if I made some little stockings, too, for decorating or for giving gift cards?  So, rather than add to my scrap bins, I starting cutting and sewing and before I knew it, I had made 12 mini stockings!!!  I may be slightly addicted.  I still have fabric scraps picked out to make more.

Tomorrow, I plan to put the tree up in my shop window.  I'm pretty sure I'm the only store in town that isn't decorated for the holidays yet.  But usually, I have some vendors who bring in ornaments for sale that I use to decorate the tree, and this year, they are behind schedule.  I can't put up a tree with no ornaments, right?  And I'm too cheap to go out and buy some.  What's a gal to do?  MAKE SOME!

Oh, happy day!  I knew all those plastic thread spools would come in handy!  Using just scraps of ribbon, fabric and beads that I already have on hand, I whipped up 7 ornaments already, and have the fabric strips cut and the paper peeled off the tops/bottoms of the spools to make another 40 or so.  I kept getting interrupted as I did this at work on Small Business Saturday (people are SERIOUS about getting their shopping done! which is GREAT for me, as a shop owner), so I hope to finish them up tomorrow while the shop is closed.

Any other quick and easy ideas for me to decorate using what I have on hand?  I am open to suggestions.  What are YOU doing to decorate this holiday season?

Monday, November 16, 2015

Flipping the script

Have you seen that gorgeous plaid string quilt in Julie K's blog header?  I've been wanting one just like it ever since I first laid eyes on hers.  This fall, I finally started it.  I am using phone book pages as the foundation for my 8" string blocks.  I have a ton of homespuns I have collected over the years for just such a project.  I was sure it would be a quick project; after all, I've made string quilts before.

I was wrong. It's been two and a half months since I started, and this is all I've got.
I've got a LONG way to go!
For some reason, I just haven't been inspired to go down to the sewing room and work on it.  I've been scratching my head about this, trying to figure it out, and I think I finally have an answer.  Even though I am using a variety of plaids in this quilt, and even though I am so excited to have the final result of all those wonderful plaids playing together, working with plaids just isn't all that exciting to me.  Part of the reason I love making scrappy quilts is that I love not knowing what scrap is going to come out to the pile next - a repro? a novelty print? a calico? a geometric? a floral?  With this quilt, I know - whichever piece I pull out will be a plaid.  Ho hum.

So today, I flipped the script.  I'll still work on this quilt, but as a leader and ender project while I work on something else.  Have I finished my log cabin quilt yet? Nope.  How about my Carpenter's Wheel?  Nah.  Instead, I pulled out a baggie of shirting & shirting-like neutrals that I've been wanting to play with, and started making a variation of Bonnie Hunter's Smoky Mountain Stars quilt.  With my significant stash of pre-cut squares, I picked out a bunch of red and blue 2.5" squares, cut my neutrals to 4.5", and got to work.  Quick and easy, just what I need to feel productive again!  Here's what I got done in the hour or so I spent in the sewing room today PLUS 2 sashing strips and a 9-patch cornerstone for the plaid quilt AND a pile of bonus triangles, already sewn up.
Oops!  That top right square is oriented wrong.  I love how a photo helps you really see your project.
I know I should focus on some finishes, but I find the siren call of new beginnings too strong to resist!  Besides, I do have SOME recent finishes under my belt, mostly class samples for the shop.  I'll be teaching a beginning knitting cables class this week, and this cabled cushion is my class sample.
the front
the back - removable so I can change out pillow covers
I'm also teaching 2 sets of kiddos to make turkey potholders this week, just in time for Thanksgiving.  I'll encourage them to use darker fabrics for the turkey bellies, though.  You can see right through this yellow belly to the darker background fabric - oops!

Here's hoping my productive streak continues!

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Work that doesn't seem like work

Last weekend I hosted a sewing birthday party at my shop for a group of 10 year old girls.  They made matching ruffled aprons for themselves and their American Girl Dolls.  Fun, but whew!  What a lot of ruffles!  Here are the dolls, all dolled up (I didn't ask the parents permission to post the girls' photos on my blog, so all you get are the dolls.  The kid aprons were identical, just much bigger.)

Yesterday I received the sweetest Thank You Card from the birthday girl.  I have it hanging on the bulletin board in the shop.

I've been a teeny bit stressed lately, just money worries, you know.  Like just about everyone these days.  I could be doing something else and making more money.  But would I be this happy going to work each day?  I seriously doubt it!  I had to take some work home with me last weekend to finish up.  At my last job, that meant piles of files to read.  In my current position, here's my "work at home" work, which I did while catching up on some shows on Netflix:
Little Avery sweater, made size 6-12 mos from Superwash Worsted Deluxe in Nitrox Blue. The person I made it for will pick out the buttons now that it is completed.
I may not be making a lot of money, but I think I might just have one of the best jobs in the world.

Sunday, October 4, 2015


I went down to the sewing room to finally piece this log cabin quilt together, but I couldn't decide on a layout.  I can't believe how much time I wasted rearranging the blocks; I didn't sew a single seam.  Help me out, will ya?  This is destined to be a baby or lap quilt, 54" square.  I don't want to make more blocks, I just want to sew them together.  Which layout would YOU choose?

Layout 1

Layout 2

Layout 3

Layout 4

Layout 5
OK, after seeing them all on here, I think one has emerged as my favorite.  Let's see if you feel the same...

Monday, September 28, 2015

Birthdays and yarn bombs!

Last Thursday was my birthday, and oh, what a fun birthday it was!!  First of all, I had a sale at the shop, 44% off all yarn since I am now 44.  Nothing brings people in like a sale!  There was a cluster of five women waiting for me when I arrived at work, and they starting singing to me as I crossed the street, and then started shopping as soon as I unlocked the door.  At no point was I alone for the rest of the day!

Second of all, I got lots of deliveries of wonderful stuff!  A carrot cake, a chocolate ganache cake, two cheesecakes and a pan of brownies. Good thing there were plenty of folks in the shop with which to share it, not to mention growing boys at home!  In addition to edible goodies, one friend brought in a bundle of vintage fabric and rick rac (all orange - yay!), another brought me a pair of her handmade silver earrings (she's a silversmith), and yet another made me a gift of anything in the shop that I had been coveting but not allowing myself - I chose this handmade reversible hobo bag.

When the work day ended, however, the fun didn't end.  A local knitting group of which I am a member, The Wednesday Night Knitting Society (WiNKS), had been asked to yarn bomb a particular block downtown in preparation for an Arts of Lexington Block Party.  The Block Party was Friday, September 25, so the yarn bombing was scheduled for Thursday, September 24, as soon as it got dark.  We hung out at my shop until the agreed upon time, then donned our dark clothing and hit the streets.  Rather than post all the photos, I'm embedding a link (Click here for AWESOME yarn bombing photos) - it's worth clicking through to take a peek.  The Winksters worked on this project for about two months, and did a fabulous job!  I wish I could take more credit, but all I found time to do was the trashcan monster. Don't you just love his furry feet?
Word on the street, though, is that the bike may find a permanent home outside my shop - won't that be cool???
Our yarn bombing was even featured on the morning news broadcast and written up in a local paper.

Life has settled back down now, which is good.  After all, I have baby quilts to finish!

Thursday, September 24, 2015


Much of my sewing lately has been making class samples.  The good news is that I often repurpose class samples into gifts for friends and family once class is over.

I know from experience that I should always make a class sample first, not just before I teach it to the kids, but before I even decide on a project and advertise it.  I was just so busy this time around that I didn't make a class sample for the Shark Pencil Pouch until after they had already begun their projects.  Because if I had, let me tell you, we probably would have done a different project!  Getting that zipper in that tiny round mouth was a challenge!  Luckily, I made mine right before the yesterday's class where we inserted the zippers, so I knew what mistakes to avoid.  Didn't their sharks turn out great??

And while I hate to impose MY passions on the kids, I am thrilled that they have shown so much interest in the next 8-week session - sewing Quillows!  The sample I made is American Girl Doll size, but we'll be making lap sized quillows.  Look for a parade of kid quilts in the weeks to come!

In the meantime, it is hand quilting, hand quilting and more hand quilting for me in the evenings.  Babies are coming, and I need to stay on track and get these quilts DONE!

Saturday, September 19, 2015

With every stitch...

At some point, the tide has GOT to turn!  I can't even make up all the things going wrong in my life right now - it's at the point of being absurd!  But my family, my friends, and my hobbies keep me sane and keep me lifted and keep me going.  Right now, as I begin hand quilting this sailboat baby quilt for a baby who is due to appear in a month's time, I am trying to focus on my many blessings with every stitch.

My family and I are healthy...stitch.

I have a job that I love...stitch.

I am free to make choices in my life...stitch.

The view off my front porch is breathtaking...stitch.

I can sleep late tomorrow if I want...stitch.

There's a pint of Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream in the freezer with my name on it...stitch.

Season Three of Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries is now on Netflix...stitch.

OK, now I'm getting silly, but I feel better.  When I take a step back and evaluate, that which seems so overwhelming really isn't.  Life may not always go according to plan, but life is good, nonetheless.  Back to stitching.  Have a wonderful weekend, everyone!

Monday, September 14, 2015

Trying to keep it all in perspective

I tried to laugh at the irony of me at work on Saturday making sailboat quilt blocks...

...while a flood raged in my basement at home.  Oh how the problems keep coming like relentless waves these days, knocking me back down just as soon as I get to my feet.  I spent yesterday reminding myself that these are all first world problems - I have a loving family, supportive friends, a roof over my head and food on the table - but I'd be lying if I didn't admit that all I wanted to do was curl up on the bed and have a good cry.

Instead, I kept active.  Yesterday, in between bailing out the basement with my Wet Vac and arranging for a plumber, I started systematically going through my fabric stash with a merciless eye.  I read recently that having TOO MUCH fabric (gasp! is there such a thing?), can stifle creativity.  I can see how that just might be true in my case; my sewing room is so crowded that I have to move stacks and piles around just to work on a project.  And honestly, scrap quilter that I am, I first go to my precut scraps when it is time to start something new, not to my yardage.  Maybe some of my yardage has to go.  I made it through three (of 13) drawers of fabric, and picked out 28 fabrics that I can live without.  I think. We'll see.  I put them in my ETSY shop, and if they sell, great, I can use some help paying for all the expenses that keep piling up around here.  If not, well, I guess they were meant to stay mine.  So that is my goal, destash another 20-25 fabrics per week and see if that makes a difference in the flow in my creative space.

Ever love a fabric but can't figure out how to use it?
I actually have two pieces of this, so it wasn't so painful to list one.
I've had and loved this for YEARS!  Why, oh why, haven't I used it? 
I have quite a few Judie Rothermel prints; time to share, I guess.

But for now, as the plumber is busy tinkering in the floodwaters of my basement, I'll go make another sailboat block and envision my destination if I could get on board and sail away...

(If you are interested, I'm selling my fabric at a $5/yard basis, $3 shipping for first items and an additional $1.25 shipping for additional items in an order, but only shipping to US.  Check it out.  More fabrics to be listed every week. Sigh.  I'm doing the right thing, right?)

Saturday, September 5, 2015

When everything is going to pieces around me...

One of the benefits of having a hobby is having an outlet when everything around me seems to be going wrong.  My car just spent time in the shop, emerging after nearly $4000 in repairs.  My son gets braces this month to the tune of over $5000.  My ancient computer won't turn on, so I can no longer put off getting a new one.  Someone went through my wallet this week, so I spent had to cancel all my bank and credit card accounts and get new ones.  Granny has been agitated lately, and has woken us up three times in the middle of the night this week.  In short, I am tired, worried about money, and frustrated with things that don't work.

But through it all, I quilt.  I am a half square triangle making machine for my Carpenter's Wheel quilt.

I've made a few more blocks for my plaid quilt.

My Quilting The Basics: Log Cabin Quilts class started this week at the shop, and I've been having a ball simultaneously making class samples and taming the scrap bins.

I am so thankful to be a quilter, to be able to build quilts when things around me are falling apart.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Fiber finishes!

I've been plodding along hand quilting my green & neutral stars quilt for my bed.  With a task that big, one needs some immediate gratification thrown into the mix, don't you think?  So, in between times, I've finished off some of my knitting WIPs.  After all, the cold weather will be here before we know it, and I can't just walk around wearing a quilt!

I see myself wearing this A LOT this winter.  How wonderful will it be to be wrapped in an airy, soft alpaca/bamboo blend rainbow on cold, dreary days? for the pattern
I used 6 skeins of Classic Elite's Chateau yarn

self fringing, so no ends to weave in - BONUS!!

I also finished this cotton/silk/rayon blend scarf.  Another lightweight accessory to ward off the chill. for the pattern
I used 2 skeins of Noro's Tokonatsu yarn

No more progress on baby quilts, so I need to get on that this weekend.  One baby is due in October, which doesn't leave me a whole lot of time!

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Going public to hold myself accountable

I'm putting it out there publicly in every possible way - I'm going to finish hand quilting this quilt for my bed by December 31, 2015!

I made this quilt top TEN YEARS AGO and keep putting off finishing the quilting.  Meanwhile, I finish projects to give to everyone else.  It's time to finish something for ME!  So, instead of always knitting at home in the evenings, I'm going to spend some time hand quilting as well.  As the evenings get cooler, this prospect becomes more and more appealing.  Help keep me accountable, people.  If you see me starting something new, remind me of my vow.

And if you're interested, I posted a challenge to others to finish something they've been working on forever over on my shop's Facebook page (  Feel free to share for a chance to win a $25 gift certificate to The Stitchin' Post!

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

What would YOU do?

My sewing spree continues!  I finished putting my blue & white chevron quilt top together, and now it just needs sandwiching and quilting.  I have a recipient in mind, so I think I'll do that right away.
The colors look awful in this photo!  I guess that's what I get for taking photos near midnight.
I've also got most of the HSTs made and cut for my new Carpenter's Wheel quilt - I just need to do some pressing and squaring up.  One block is up on the design wall (not yet sewn together), and while I like it, I'm not sure I can see doing the whole quilt with just those 8 prints and the white.  I'd love feedback - will this work, or should I introduce more fabrics and give in to my scrappy nature?  What would YOU do?
Only 8 prints and white - not sure I can do a whole quilt like this...

Friday, August 14, 2015

New to me!

Perhaps it's because I've been sewing with the kids during Embroidery Camp this week, but whatever the reason, my quilting mojo is BACK!  I've been exhausted when I get home each day, often in the shop from 8 AM til 7 PM, but no matter - once dinner is done, I've been heading down to my sewing room to work on quilts!  I've made some progress on the sashing and cornerstone blocks for my plaid string quilt and I've got the top half of my blue and white chevron joined into one piece, but that's not all.

First of all, I really want to make this quilt for a friend's new baby.  I happened upon some red and white anchor fabric and wham!  I was inspired to pull and cut fabrics for the whole quilt.  Which, for me, is so far from normal!  I never cut out a whole quilt in advance!  Since I'm usually so scrappy, I just go along piece by piece until a quilt is done.  With the whole thing cut out, it shouldn't take much time at all to get it all pieced together.


A friend gave me a bunch of magazines and I fell in love with this Carpenter's Wheel quilt from Spring/Summer 2008 Quilt Sampler.
Love, love, LOVE!!
I love it in all its scrappy and 30s repro glory, but I don't have enough 30s repro fabrics to make it...yet.  I also don't have enough bright white.  But what I DO have is lots of natural/cream muslin and a bunch of civil war repro scraps, all somewhere between 1/8 and 1/4 yard.  My brain kicked into gear - what if I made something that WASN'T scrappy?  What if I just picked 8 print fabrics to make the star points and went from there?  Not all the fabrics are actually repros, but close enough.
Can I stand to make a quilt with only 9 fabrics?  Will it hold my interest while piecing?  Will it hold my interest as a finished quilt?  We shall soon find out!
And not only am I using a limited number of fabrics, but I also used the grid method for making HSTs, so I cut all the fabric for the quilt before taking a single stitch.  Again, this is so new to me!  But, I can see how "less scrappy" can also mean "more efficient" when it comes to piecing.  I can't believe how many HSTs I have already done with so little effort!

I've never used this method before, but then, I've never made a quilt that would use so many of the same fabric combo HSTs.  I love how quick and easy this is!

32 HSTs pieced in about 5 minutes?  I love it!  There's no way I could make as many scrappy ones in the same amount of time.
Who knows, I may not like the look once I get all the pieces ready to make a block, and then I'll have a quilt's worth of HSTs left over.  But even so, I guarantee I'll find a use for them somewhere.

I see a lot of piecing ahead in my weekend plans.  How about you?