Friday, November 30, 2007

Speaking of gifts

Deb gave me a Jelly Roll for my birthday in June and I'm finally cutting into it. I'm making a very simple block - boxed squares is what I call it. There are versions of it in just about every 4th or 5th book I pick up but it's so simple I just worked up a quick EQ quilt.

I pair up two strips from the Jelly Roll and leaving them folded in half so I'm cutting through 4 layers, I cut - (2) 6.5 inch rectangles, (3) 2.5 inch squares. This gives me enough for 4 blocks two of each combination.

Lay out the blocks and sew.Here's a quickie EQ6 drawing. Notice how the blocks are rotated - don't you like how there are no seams to match up?

I think Jeanne made a pink/black/white version of this sometime last year (I looked for it to link to but it must have been on her old blog) . Her blocks were 9 inches finished if I remember correctly. These are 6 inches (6.5 with seam allowances).

Today's task

I finally started quilting the Ice Cream top today (it's been loaded and ready to go for 2 days). The pantograph is Plumage and while I love how it looks - it's a little fussy to quilt; and time consuming. Fine for a special quilt like this one but I wouldn't use it on something I wanted to finish quickly.

Done for better or worse!

The snowflakes don't look so great in this photo but they look fine in person. I had sewn a button on the door but took it off and decided what the door needs is a candy cane. Hopefully I can find one that will work - a button - a pin - even small earring might work. As always, you can click on the photo for a larger view.

I received a wonderful gift box in the today from Deb (everyone knows we're sisters right?). A journal to keep my quilt ideas and coffee cozies both needle felted by her AND a new Jelly Thimble. She gave me one of those last year and I use it all the time for binding. How did she know I wanted another one?

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Quilting:A Love/Hate Relationship

Click photo to enlarge
Am I the only one that has a love/hate relationship with my quilting? Usually at some point in a project I have some level of disappointment or dissatisfaction with the results I'm getting.

I was really worried about 1/2 way through piecing the Ice Cream quilt that my fabric placement wasn't going to work....but that top turned out nice and is on the longarm ready for quilting.

I LOVED my Holiday House top.....but as I was quilting it I started to think I'd ruined it. Last night I began quilting snowflakes (after all what's Christmas without snow?) and now I actually think it's going to be cute. One of these days I'll learn to *keep the faith* and believe that in the end the final quilt will be OK.

So am I all that unusual or do you all go through the same love it/hate it process when making a quilt?

Family Reunion

We're planning a family reunion in Virginia for December 8th. Most of our immediate family will be there (Chris and Becky can't make it) and some extended family too. Adam and I fly in on December 5th and will spend a couple days helping get things ready. Deb gets there that day too.

While we're both in VA we're going to meet Vicki for lunch. I won a drawing on her site a couple weeks back and she's bringing me a hand dyed backing for one of my donation quilts. I'm looking forward to meeting her.

I've been busy helping with the reunion plans the last couple weeks and I've been thinking about family so that's my journal postcard this week. This is the house I grew up in and where Mom still lives.

It wasn't easy for me to make my house this small and you can see I tend to slant to the left. I'm not sure what's up with that! The letters are my first attempt to quilt words with perle cotton. I have to remember I'm doing this for fun and that it's an opportunity to try new things on a small scale.... but it's hard not to be judgemental about the finished product.
Now, I'm off to load the Ice Cream quilt on the longarm before bed.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007


No sewing again today (at least not yet). I did play around on EQ6 with some house blocks but most of the day was spent playing with photographs.

I bought some frames and albums for the photos I took in Georgia last week. I made one for us and each of the boys....I'm not taking scrap-booking here, just had the photos printed and put them in a simple album.

I also picked up a book on Photoshop Elements at Barnes and Nobles. I've been playing with some of the lessons. I love this photo of Adam I took last week. The lesson was creating a poster.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Someone found a warm spot!

Spending money

Keith and I don't keep separate bank accounts and never have BUT we've always bargained for spending money. For example, if I wanted a new computer, he got to buy a new suit for work (I know hardly fair but that's how it works).

He's out of town but emailed me that he got a speeding ticket in Denver the other day.....I wrote him back that means a massage for me! So this afternoon, I had a wonderful massage and then got my hair cut.

I know you're all thinking that I'm spoiled rotten and while it wasn't always true, I have to admit I'm pretty spoiled these days. Why do you think I work so hard on my donations quilts? I have to give back/give thanks in some way!

For those of you wondering about the photo in my post last night, I've been playing around with Photoshop Elements and that's one of the framing options.

Ice Cream anyone?

Doesn't it remind you of Neapolitan Ice Cream? Next time I do one of these quilts, I need to do them as JudyL intended and Quilt for an Hour a day. (Here's the link to Judy's design)

I started this quilt on July 25th according to the blog (well, at least I drew it in EQ6 on that day). I chose to finish it with one framing border as it was larger than intended and I was limited by the amount of border fabric I had. The plan is to get it quilted before I leave for VA on Dec 5th.

Working late again

Working late again tonight paid off! I'm finished the July QFAH top AND I pieced the flannel back too so it's all ready to load on the longarm in the next day or so. It's quite large - 79x99 and that's even after I decided to eliminate the two small inner borders and just add one framing border. I don't have a photo because there's not good place to take a picture of a quilt this large at night so that will have to wait.

As I was finishing up, I looked outside and saw it was snowing.....I wonder what it will look like in the morning? It would be neat if there was some real accumulation.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

I'm SO slow!

I had every intention of finishing the QFAH top today but while I made good progress, I still have about 1/3 of it left to put together and then of course I need to put the border on. Maybe I'll work some more on it tonight but I'm going to relax for now and work on stitching a binding. The good news is that I'm really liking it. I'd take a picture but I'm too tired to go get the camera and the colors probably wouldn't show up well since it's dark already.

JudyL is spearheading a renewed effort in stashbusting among bloggers. I've been focused on my efforts for 2-3 years but I admit I have a particular weakness for fat quarter bundles.

My weekly stashbusting report:
  • The Pink/Brown QFAH I'm working on is completely from stash.
  • The backings and bindings for 3 HeartStrings quilts are from stash.
  • No fabric purchases this week.

One of the things that helps me use stash is that I don't allow myself to *save* fabric - if it works for a backing or binding and it's not being used in a current project then I use it. One of my backings this week was a fabric I had to push myself to use rather than save.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Reading List

I had an email from Cecile, a reader of my blog wanting to share some books she thought I might enjoy. They arrived in the mail yesterday. I was going to put them on my bedside table but there turned out to be just enough space on this shelf beside my favorite photo of my sons. I plan on starting them after finishing up a couple I'm currently reading. If interested, you can always check out my current reading list by clicking the link in my sidebar.

The photo was taken years ago by my father-in-law and is always displayed in my house. As you can see from this photo taken earlier this week, they've grown up a bit. As always, click on the photo to see a larger view.

One more thing to share

A little more sewing after Keith and Chesty went to bed. My trees are a little lame but I was trying to capture the day we spent by Lake Oconee. (The view that inspired me.) The other postcards from my journal project can be seen in my online album.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Old photos

I was looking for a photo of an old quilt tonight and came across this one of Deb. This was taken 4 years ago - she came to visit me in GA and tried quilting with my longarm. It wasn't long before she decided she needed one and well, you've all seen her quilting now haven't you?

I'm feeling so productive - I got the bindings made and sewn on 2 of 3 the small HeartStrings I've been working and and even got one hand-stitched down and the label on tonight!

A 3rd HeartStrings top and more swirls quilting

I quickly quilted freehand swirls on this 3rd donated top this morning. I'll start working on binding the 5 finished HeartStrings quilts I've quilted over the last couple weeks. I also need to assemble my July QFAH blocks - are you all tired of hearing me talk about that quilt?

Keith and I plan on going for a walk later - it's fairly cold today - 31 degrees right now but it was COLDER last night when we walked 1.5 mile to AND from dinner when it was 18 degrees. Kind of a shock to my system since were were just canoeing in GA a few days ago.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Quilts for homeless families

Cricket, one of our HeartStrings quilters makes and donates quilts to homeless families in New England. With the help of other group members, she's getting ready to donate 50 completed quilts and has more in progress to be donated in January. She mentioned that she needs some more kids quilts and since I had recently received 3 small tops from Wanda, another HeartStrings member, I decided I would quilt, bind, and send them on to Cricket to donate.

I finished the quilting on the first top the day before we went to GA and I just loaded and quilted the second one this afternoon. This first one was quilted with a pantograph from Linda Taylor that came with my machine. I hadn't used it before and while it's kind of cute I don't like the spacing on it very much so it probably won't be used again.

For this second one, I quilted allover freehand swirls which went pretty quickly. On a stashbuster note, I pieced leftover batting for both of them ( I only do this on small quilts because otherwise it's too much effort getting a large enough piece) and I found a red Christmas fabric that's been in my stash for ages for the backing on the second one.

My goal is to quilt the 3rd quilt this weekend and then I'll have 5 HeartStrings quilts here needing binding and I'll work on getting those sewn on and stitched down while Keith is out of town next week.

I'm dreaming of a white Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Stash Reduction

I'm just getting caught up on my blog reading after being away for several days but JudyL is focusing on stash reduction and inviting us all to play along.

I keep some stats on my sidebar but since I probably use different criteria for my UFO finishes and my Stash used I'll probably keep those going and just play along on a weekly basis by blogging about my progress.

Last week just before leaving for GA, I cut binding for 5 quilts all from stash and pulled a backing for the small HeartStrings top I quilted on Saturday.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Heading home

We head home first thing in the morning but we had a wonderful day with Adam. It's nice to see how well thought of he is here at the Ritz Carlton. We were treated so well as "Adam's parents". We're very proud of him - he's just 22 but has been on his own for 2 years since he finished culinary school. Not many kids these days are self supporting at 20!

I particularly enjoyed canoeing/kayaking this afternoon.

Monday, November 19, 2007

It's nice having connections

We had another wonderful dinner thanks to Adam! It was great seeing him, Chris and Becky. Unfortunately, Chris and Becky have to drive home tonight but we'll see Adam again tomorrow.

A very quiet day

Unfortunately, I've got a terrible cold so I'm not feeling too energetic but we've had a beautiful day sitting by the lake. Adam, Chris, and Becky should be here shortly and we'll visit a while before dinner.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

We're in GA!

Yeah! I saw Adam for a few minutes this afternoon when we got in. He's working tonight but it was great to see him and give him a big hug after 8 months!

We have dinner reservations tonight in the restaurant where he works here at the Ritz Carlton - Georgia's. He gave us a quick peek at the kitchen and told us we'll have the table next to the fireplace for our dinner tonight. If you follow the link above - you'll see the fireplace and where we'll be eating tonight.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

More unfinished business

Not only do I have UFO's in my quilting life but now it seems as if I'm amassing quite a collection of unfinished books.

I'm on a mission to get some of these off my bedside table, the end table, my entry way table, the side of the tub where they're all sitting half read. Yesterday I finished two - Lake of Sorrows and Three Cups of Tea.

Lake of Sorrows was a mystery that was fairly good although it took me a little bit to get into the story and Three Cups of Tea was fascinating - a story about an American who has been building schools in Pakistan.

As always you can see my current reading list here: My Shelfari Bookshelf

Friday, November 16, 2007

My poor little house

Thanks for the comments but the sad thing is I DID start quilting from the center. There's some outline and ditch stitching in addition to the stars and I was going to see if I had a small button for the door but I guess what's bothering me is the difference in the density of the quilting between the center and the fans in the border.

I'll have to go back and add quilting to the inside....I'm just not sure what to put so I'll have to think about it some. I can pull out Sandy Bonsib's book on Folk Art Quilts and Gwen Marston's Liberated Quilting book and see if I can pick up any additional ideas.

I'm sitting here looking at it now and it doesn't look as unbalanced - I think trying to get an angle that showed the quilting in the photo last night also exaggerated the puffiness.

I'll continue on......I can do this!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

How pathetic is this?

OK, I'm stitching along and thinking - no stress.... just enjoy the process.... so what if it turns out ugly..... you only *invested* one night in the piecing..... think of it as practice.....

I almost didn't share this photo since it looks like I've RUINED my cute little house quilt. But you guys will be kind won't you?

It didn't look as bad in person as it looks in this photo. Really it doesn't - but it doesn't look so great either. (Obviously I'm not done quilting it yet but I'm not counting on it getting much better!)

Counting the days

Keith and I are heading to GA on Sunday. We're staying at the Ritz Carlton that Adam works at outside of Atlanta and we'll see both boys and Becky. I love living here in Minneapolis but I do miss seeing my boys. Chris calls/emails frequently (very frequently) but Adam is the opposite and I don't hear from him nearly enough.

Today (well actually yesterday) was one of those days I worked a series of small tasks - unloading and trimming a quilt, choosing fabric and cutting bindings for 3 quilts, cleaning off my cutting table, pre-cutting some Peltex for postcards, finding a bin to keep my postcard bit and pieces all together so I can just pick up and make one when I have the desire, layering my mini house quilt, and finally this evening sat down and started hand quilting it.

You know what's funny? I'm enjoying these small projects so much I don't even mind that my quilting isn't all that great or that my crazy quilt isn't very *artistic*. It's unusual for me to not stress over my imperfections but its nice for a change.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

This is a messy process

I've been reading Tonya's Winter Class Blog and while I don't feel like I have time to take from my other tasks to take the class I like the concept. Last night at midnight - after Keith and Chesty went to bed - I decided to play around a little.

A few years ago, we stopped giving presents at Christmas and started making a donation to Habitat for Humanity instead. I like the thought of helping someone get a home of their own rather than buying tons of presents for people who already have more than they need (myself included!).

Here's my little one block quilt showing What Christmas Means to Me. You probably can't see it in this photo but there's the face of a smiling boy in the window.

By the way, I hope it's OK to post the link to the class here. I found it from a link on Tonya's site but I know the blog for the first class was not public.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Habit, routine, or tradition?

Whatever you want to call it, Keith and I have been going over to a local sports bar on Sunday to catch at least half of the Redskin's game. He's a big fan and I'm a fan of anyone playing AGAINST them! Today it just happened to be one of my favorite teams - the Eagles and we won! Sad for Keith but I was happy.

Before and after the game, I retreated with my online quilting groups and was able to finish up the pink quilt on the longarm. The quilt hanging on the design wall was quilted yesterday. How appropriate is it that I worked on quilts for breast cancer patients the weekend before getting my mammogram? Wish me luck tomorrow.

I also wanted to thank everyone who wrote me asking how Chesty is doing. He's on his meds and seems to be doing better. Speaking of routine - Sunday is typically the day Chesty gets his bath. The guest bathroom is an overflow area for my studio - can you see Keith trying to work around the boxed batting and the HeartStrings top hanging on the shower rod.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Taking a break

This is a retreat weekend but Keith and I are going to run a couple errands and get a late lunch. Although most of my time is being spent on HeartStrings projects this weekend - I did finish up the last blocks from my July QFAH project LATE last night. Here's the final block!

I'm almost done with the quilting of the HeartStrings top - it's for a breast cancer patient and was pieced by Barb in MN. I think the roses look lovely on it.

Friday, November 09, 2007

One done, one on deck

I finished quilting the Red HeartStrings top this afternoon, unloaded and trimmed it and now its ready for a binding. Next up is one of the Project Pink tops that I loaded on the longarm tonight and will start quilting tomorrow.

I'm sure I'm not the only one who's read the tip to have quilting books spiral bound at an office place like Kinko's. I never really felt the need until I found myself fighting with some of the books I bought when I started the doll size Crazy Quilt ( who knew that 1 doll size quilt would require the purchase of 6 or 7 books?) But then I don't really need much of an excuse to buy books.

After struggling the other night to hold this book open on my lap while I was stitching I decided this would be a good one to take and have it spiral bound. No more fight to keep it open to the right page! They charged me just under $5.

To see the detail on this page, click the photo to enlarge. I love this book because she has lots of pages like this that after she shows you how to make a certain stitch she provides lots of examples.

After hours

Since our move to Minneapolis we've been living in an apartment downtown and we've decided we'll stay here another year. It's very convenient to Keith's office and with our condo still for sale in GA, my son and his wife renting our house in Marietta, and the housing market still dropping we're not ready to buy right now.

So...since I'm not sure how much sound carries when I'm using the longarm, I've made it my policy NOT to quilt late at night. My sewing machine is in a room that is bordered on 3 sides by other rooms in our apartment and the 4th side is an exterior wall so I feel pretty safe sewing late at night knowing I'm probably not bothering anyone.

My routine many nights is to come into the sewing room after Keith and Chesty head to bed and work for a while. Tonight while I should have been trying to finish up the blocks on my July QFAH top, I made another postcard. Before I started my journal project I'd made 2 cards depicting the birch trees I saw on our trip last month to Duluth and the North Shore that I sent to my sisters Deb and Ann. Here's the one that will stay with me as part of my journal project.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Have I learned my lesson?

I think I've finally learned that when I'm having problems quilting to walk away for a while (or a night) and try again at a later time. I had to re-thread my longarm yesterday evening after my thread broke - some freaky thing on the cone got caught up. For some reason I could NOT get the tension readjusted so I could get back to quilting. After making several adjustments that didn't help I shut down for the night.

This afternoon, I walked back in the room, unthreaded the machine and started from scratch - a quick tweak of the tension dial and I was back in business.

I'm quilting more hearts - is that boring? This is a HeartStrings top and I wanted to finish it before the weekend. It's a virtual retreat weekend on Stashbusters and now a group of HeartStrings quilters are planning to *work* this weekend too so my goal is to quilt both the pink tops I have here from our October Project Pink. But first I have to finish up this one! You can see my top and others from our project in our online album.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Fall Quilts

Each year I've been quilting I've made an autumn quilt - this year it happened to only be 4x6 inches.

This Rail Fence was made my 2nd or 3rd year quilting and remains one of my favorites. I've added instructions (slightly smaller version with fewer leaves) to my site - Autumn Leaves

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Fall becomes Winter

It's been much colder this week and yesterday we actually had snow flurries! I took this photo of the Basilica of St. Mary's from Loring Park but the flurries had stopped by then. I love the colder weather and have taken time for a walk both yesterday and today.

My aunt asked me to quilt one final top before Christmas and it arrived in the mail yesterday. I told her I'd only do a quick pantograph and since I knew it was a nautical quilt I'd planned on doing Ebb and Flow. However, when I opened up the package I realized that Waterworld would look much better on it although it would take longer to quilt (thanks Deb). Luckily, it was a small top and I finished it about 30 minutes ago.

I won't show the finished quilt but here's a photo starting out earlier today.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Photo transfer

I had a couple questions about the fabric I used for the photo transfer on the anniversary postcards. I had some Printed Treasures sheets in the house but felt they were too *white* to give the aged look I was after. When I attempted to use the sepia option on my photo editing software I didn't get the result I wanted either.

So my solution was to print the photos on a photo transfer sheet and pull a spotty beige fabric from my stash to iron them on to. I LOVE the look although Deb didn't like the darker spots - I thought they made the photos look more aged.

The top photo on last night's post was definitely my favorite of the two although I think I liked the one I sent Mom pictured below the best of all and it was the first one I did. You can click on the photos to see a larger view.


Since I made my postcard earlier in the week for my journal project, I decided to take two leftover photos from a previous postcard I'd made and try some other framing options. One of the two didn't please me at all - care to guess which one I liked and will probably use again?

Sunday, November 04, 2007

My Happy Dance

Imagine if you will, my putting the final stitches in this quilt of Mom's and dancing around my studio with my iPod blaring Barry White.....Oh happy day!

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Want to vote?

Anyone want to vote in the $100,000 Quilt Challenge?

Quilt Show

I attended a quilt show in Hudson, WI today. I know Kathy, Teresa, and Rhonda from my HeartStrings group and their guild is having their show this weekend. It was very nice -lots of beautiful quilts, vendors, and I attended a lecture by Darlene Zimmerman.

I also met Nancy, a quilter who reads my blog and recognized me which is pretty amazing because I make sure the photo on my profile is the MOST flattering one I can find. Nancy is a quilter who lived in Japan for many years and was making a cord on a Kumihimo disk while we were waiting for the lecture to start. She was answering a lot of questions from nearby quilters watching her work and she mentioned this site BraidersHand as a resource.

Patchwork Harvest Quilt Show
November 3, 2007 - 10AM-5PM
November 4, 2007 - 11-AM - 4PM
1300 Carmichael Road
Hudson Middle School

Friday, November 02, 2007

Simple quilting

Sometimes the simplest quilting pattern is the best. The pantograph I'm using on this autumn log cabin looks wonderful and it's so simple to quilt.

Blowing Leaves by Dave Hudson.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Journal Project - Chesty

Not too many photos of the quilts I've been working on. The ones for Mom and my Aunt are presents so I won't post them; I did work on my July QFAH blocks today but you've seen pictures of that one on the sewing table in pieces - nothing new although I am finally making progress and the next hour session will definitely end with me starting to piece the top.

So the only photo I have to share tonight is my Journal card which is of course about my last few days dealing with Chesty's medical problems. I used batting for Chesty so he's a little fuzzy although you can't really tell in the photo.

I'm going to load my last quilt for the year (I hope) from Mom and then go to bed. I've got errands to run tomorrow but with it loaded I'll quilt on it a little each day on tomorrow, Saturday, and Sunday.