Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Center of the week

I just was noticing on the calendar how 3 days hang on one side of Wednesday and 3 on the other. Not important, but interesting. And wow, January is almost over. I never really understood what my mother meant when she talked about time flying by as we get (just a bit) older. Hmmmm.

My refugee ladies and I had a wonderful time yesterday, finishing up the aprons we have been making. They do not like photographs, thus nothing to show you. But we made denim aprons with pockets on the front. They had choices, but all chose to make the "kangaroo" type of pocket on the front. While these aren't difficult, they do require even, straight stitching and that can be very hard for a beginner. They did marvelously well. Someone has offered (me) to give them sewing machines that they could have to take home. The problem is that they all need some servicing and we're trying to find some money to make that happen. We have sent an initial "inquiry" letter to the American Sewing Guild to see if they might contribute. Any other thoughts of groups that might help with this?

But meanwhile, Grandma Karen's quilt top is done (for which I bought the nickel squares). Baby due in early March.

I had in my stash a cute smiling stars flannel that made a great border:

And my stash will provide something for a back. Voila!

Also did a sample of the applique piece using the "donut" method of steam-a-seam. (I cut out the shape then cut out the center leaving approx. 1/4" (maybe 3/8") around all the edges.) Also used a small zig-zag stitch. I notice that as compared to straight stitching, the zig zag stands out quite a bit more. So I will have to decide which "look" I'm after.

Need to get caught up with my Quilt Mom sampler squares. I did get another 23 four patches for the White Chocolate done. I think this would qualify as one of Mae Brit's (Abyquilts) Work in Progress SLOWLY. Bye Bye January!

Friday, January 25, 2008

Well I did break down, but only a little. . . . .

Does that count if my stash acquisition is a small one? I have 3 baby quilts waiting in the "wings", so this seemed a wonderful way to complete one of them. Yes?

I have thought that I will make Baltimore Blues from Sindy Rodenmayer, at So being very much at the beginning, I trying to decide if I should hand applique or machine applique? And if machine, raw edge or using steam-a-seam? Thus I made samples of each of these to try to get a feeling. This is also perhaps not the best fabric to use, but the color and pattern seemed to work really well. So - what do you think? I'll tell you what I think, after the photos.

You have to ignore the rumpled background square, as that didn't stay smooth, but the idea was still, did I like raw edge applique for this setting? The steam-a-seam heart seems to be the very nicest. The however part of that is that it is definitely heavier, even using very light weight interfacing. And then there will be 2 more appliques on top of this one. Oh, it is a puzzlement. I think I'm leaning toward the steam-a-seam as it will be a wall hanging and the weight won't matter too much.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Good Tuesday Morning

There is so much to be busy with, in this world, I don't know how anyone could be bored in retirement. Gracious me!

For quilty starters, I have finally completed Step #6 in Crazy Mom's Block a Week. As I'm doing two each time, you will notice (surprise) two blocks - I did one in blues and one in greens. [She is actually up to step 9 or 10, but I'll get there!]

On several days last week I got busy with making more pieces for my White Chocolate quilt. I really think this one will be for me! I usually just give my quilts away or make them for other folks, but so far I'm just loving this one. Twenty one (21) large squares, completed; 194 (!) small half square triangle blocks - the number required, completed and a start on the 194 needed four patch blocks. I maybe have 45 of those done, but have some strip sets ready to be cut and sewn together. I try not to think about how many are required and just keep at it. I know that when it actually comes time to assemble this "baby", it will just go like a breeze.

Lest you think I do nothing but play - I do get to do quite a bit of that. ;-> This past week-end being a holiday week-end (thank you, Dr. King) six of us went to Portland, OR for the week-end. Such a delightful time. I won't bore you with all the photos, but a real highlight was the Chinese Garden. One whole city block is walled in white cement (?) and behind these walls lies a perfect gem. Albeit very cold, i.e. the pond was partially frozen over, it was simply stunning. And the places that appear to be wood, ARE wood. I don't know how they finish it so that the weather doesn't ruin it, but it was magnificent.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Gray, gray Monday

Oh my gracious - it is so dark and dreary. I had to turn on lights in the living room, not normally done in the middle of the day! Yesterday was gloriously beautiful, so today is a real shock to the system. Alas, I guess it is January - oh well.

And for those of you who seem to really know how to pack a punch with your blogs, I'm jealous and I apologize. I simply cannot seem to get text and photos properly aligned. I go back and forth with the "Preview" button, but because of things down the side of my blog, they end up entirely different when you look at the real thing, versus this compose area. And I really hate it when you get text over top of the photos - and I don't know why it does that. Whine, whine, whine. Enough.

And so, still playing with my four patch posie blocks. They are just so much fun. I'm thinking that I will make a table runner with those in the center and using the whole fabric for borders. That should be pretty cute. I have finally finished the top of the pinks quilt, started months ago. Friend Ronda has the blue version. We are thinking that we might (just might) put them in the LQG show in March. More as a sign of solidarity, than confidence that they are really worthwhile. I did re-do several of the intersections and have managed to improve some of my points and corners.

I have added borders to this strange little quilt. Yes, Stephanie, perhaps you might even say "ugly". But I have a friend who is do-lally about bears, so this will become hers - those are bears on the black background rectangles. I am glad I have finally done one of these quilts and understand how to do it. I will simply choose other fabrics, next time. This is flannel and will be warm and snuggly. Too weird!

Finished sewing down the binding on my Crazy Exchange item - but cannot show you yet. I will photograph it and show you in a bit. March will be my blogaversary - so how might we commemorate that? As I will get to do a bit of traveling, I was thinking perhaps I could find some fabrics over there for a person who commented on that date. Not so much of a treat for the Dutch and Belgian women, but maybe I could find something else for them. I realize it's a way off, but I have to think about it while on my adventure if I intend to find some new fabric. I'll figure out how to do this.

Tomorrow is Crazy Exchange UFO day - I'll have to haul out something from the bottom of the pile and see what I can get re-enthused about. (is that a real word?) Also trying to plan for hand work to take on the plane with me - 10 hours is a looooooong flight. But ain't it fun? Lucky me! Life is good!

Thursday, January 10, 2008

January is busy already

This first full week of the month has been going by lickity split - so much to do and so much I've been doing. Phew! Last week-end was an all-day Saturday sewing day at one of my guild member's home. Very fun and oh so productive. I learned how to make blocks that I believe are called Four-Patch Posey blocks. They are not difficult once you know how and how marvelous to see how they turn out. Below is the fabric I began with, blocks, sashing and a grouping I've started with fussy cut cornerstones. I'm delighted with how they have turned out. And particularly gratifying for stash busting - this is fabric I bought at the 2nd hand store - so perhaps I get double points for this???

I have been slowly catching up with the blocks from Crazy Mom Quilts. Here are my two # 5's:

Tuesday the refugee ladies returned from Christmas break and we began with a very simple apron. Of course, it is challenging to have to read English directions and understand what all the markings on the pattern pieces mean. But there were no tears and the three who were there (#4 had another appointment) were excited to be really sewing. #4 will return next week and our new member will soon be ready to start on this project, as she is catching on very quickly. It will be a challenge to stay ahead of them. A women offered 4 used sewing machines for these ladies to have - which is fabulous - the big challenge is getting them all seen to/adjusted, whatever is required beforehand. But that's fun.

Yesterday was my "big" Quilt Guild (this one has several hundred members. My little guild group has about 15 members.) Our speaker was Heidi Lund, talking about embellishment. Gracious she is talented. I am not skilled in that area - she just looks at fabric and can "see" what to do. She makes a lot of her own fabric with layering and quilting or by painting or printing on something plain colored. She has won a number of Bernina and Sulky contests. She still works full time, as well. Oh my!

I have finished my little crazy exchange item for Valentine's (show ya later) and am trying to complete my next exchange for somewhere far away - can't tell. :-) Today I am pleased to be able to report I vacuumed! Hurrah! AND I did some grocery shopping AND I made a pan of French Onion soup for dinner. So I am feeling most righteous by now. Tonight we will watch the University of Washington women's basketball team - can't remember who we are playing. This is a "building" year - I believe is what they call it.

So, on we go into 2008. Yeah! Life is good.

Friday, January 4, 2008

I've been keeping a secret

While all of this has been in the planning stages I didn't feel like I could talk about it much - but now that it is all confirmed I can tell you that I'm so excited that I am getting to go visit in Belgium and the Netherlands. I leave Seattle on Feb. 14th and will be there for 12 days. Karen, from Crazy Exchange, had issued an invitation many months ago, but it was still a long way off. So at last I have my tickets and it's gonna happen! HURRAH! I have been emailing and exchanging with these gals (and guy) over the past 6 months and now I will actually get to meet them in person. I do realize how fortunate I am and am grateful every moment.

Our actual plans and details aren't sorted out as yet. I have traveled to the Netherlands before, so will first go visit some friends in den Bosch, where I have stayed before and who have visited us here. And then will take the train to Antwerp to see Karen. She reports that several of the folks in the group, even from the Netherlands, will come to Antwerp to join us for some fun, chatting, stitching, whatever we want to do time. Isn't that just great? I promise many photos.

We didn't have the drawing last night, but many of the gals from my guild group brought their Christmas string pieced squares. They are just loving how cute they are and how easily they went together. Saturday we have an all-day quilt together day, so we will draw the name for who gets them all. Won't that be fun? And then just to "enjoy" my lesson in humility, at our gathering last night I spent the time (and didn't finish) tearing out tiny background stippling I had done on a quilt. I just didn't like how it looked. Fortunately I had not done the entire top, but nonetheless, it isn't speedy to remove what had gone in. And the tan on the tan top and the green on the green backing just blended beautifully and are almost impossible to see. I had to use a magnifier, right under the light and separate the layers in order to see the stitches to clip. Oh I'm feeling most humble. It was supposed to have been a crazy exchange item, but it's time to move on to Plan B (for now).

I am happy to report that I am making progress with my UFO collection. It's all the new things that are sitting there calling me that are the problem. I have more pieces for White Chocolate to be cut and pieced - Santa even brought me a couple more neutrals for that one. Santa also brought some wonderful pale pink and some rose fabrics - so I'm hunting for the perfect two color quilt pattern. And it's time to start thinking about my nine patches for our Road to Oklahoma quilt that our guild will be making for our major fund raising project for '08. If you are familiar with that pattern, there are 400+ (I think) 3 3/4" finished 9 patches. We are making them from home spun/calico type fabrics, so it will be very, very scrappy and should be cute. We figure if each member makes about 40 9-patches then we can choose the best ones for the quilt.

Life truly is good!

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

New Days ahead

I do love new starts and here we are in 2008. Wow! Not so many photos, but a couple of things going on. First of all, I have to go back to mid December - I forgot to tell about my delightful quilt guild Christmas party. One gal offered to host a potluck supper, (in her house full of Christmas decor). We decided to do an "ugly" fabric exchange. Each person was to bring at least 1/2 yard of fabric, in a plain, brown bag. We put the bags under her tree while we enjoyed dinner and chatting about our favorite quilting "gadget" of the past year. Eventually we were fully sated and decided to start the exchange. We did the typical: draw a number, choose a gift or choose someone else's gift. There was quite a bit of changing back and forth before each fabric found a home. We had a delightful time. Here are a couple of examples:

I plagerized brazenly from Molly's Place blog ( before the party and each of us were given a square of muslin and one red strip. We were to take the muslin home and fill it with assorted Christmas fabrics (i.e. string pieced) They aren't all back, as yet, but likely they will be complete by our regular guild gathering on Thursday. We will draw one member's name and that person will get all the squares. With just a bit of sashing, someone will have a Christmas quilt all set to go next year.

This Saturday, Elaine has again offered her home for a quilting day for our guild group. (we had a great time there in September). Next Tuesday we start again with our refugee ladies. Stone Soup is up and running for 2008. Monday we got 10 quilts 'sandwiched' and a couple of backs pieced. I'm getting my "fix" going early in the year! :-)

I have a party suggestion, for anyone interested. Today some friends organized a fondue party for New Year. There were 10 of us. We just had the most fun. We had three different kinds of fondue: 2 different cheese ones, with bread and vegetables and a chicken broth one with chicken, shrimp and scallops. We did find that we had to rotate our places at the table every little while, so each person could be close to the various fondue pots. We had sauces: artichoke, curry, mango salsa, jalapeno pepper. We had lots of laughter around the table. After dinner we played a rousing game of Apples to Apples (a Christmas gift) and then moved on to the chocolate fondue for dessert. For dippers we had pound cake, bananas, strawberries, pineapple and little squares of rice krispie treats. [The Biggest Loser is on TV as I type this - I think there is a message there. So, tomorrow I will enjoy remembering this fun time as I continue my walking regime.]

Happy New Beginnnings to you all.