Thursday, March 30, 2006

Oh dear! More UFO's!

I can't believe it - I found three more UFO's that aren't on my list! And none of them are at the finished top stage! I've added them to the list in my sidebar. I have a sinking feeling there is still another one too - I seem to remember another project I started in a class that I know has not been finished. I'll check that out when I get home. The good news is that I'm now finding time to work on these along with my BOMs. I'm hoping to get at least one of them to the finished top stage this weekend. I have a customer quilt that I must finish this weekend, and another customer quilt to load onto Gandalf, so I'm not sure how much time I'll have for my own projects.

Time to get to work - my class arrives in less than 30 minutes.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

A good time was had by all

Quilting retreats are just the best! We all had a wonderful time, and the days passed by much too quickly. As usual I took many projects that never saw the light of day, but I did get many things accomplished that I wanted to do so it was a success in that way. After 3 straight days of string piecing I got tired of that, and the baskets seemed to be as full as ever! Here's what my project looks like right now.
I caught up with my Girl Gang "It's a Wonderful Life". I guess I should say I finished the appliqué on all the prepared blocks. Another installment came just before I left so I'll need to work on that one next. I also got more done on the blocks for Heirloom Stitches and the Jan Patek mystery. I'll post those later.
We had 10 people at the retreat this time. One long-time member didn't make it for health reasons, and another stayed home at the last minute because they bought a new house and had to start getting theirs ready to sell. We had three ladies who attended for the first time - it's so great to make new quilty friends!

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Heading Out

I'm getting ready to head out to a quilt retreat after work tomorrow. This is with a group of friends that I met on the Internet. We were all on Pat Sloan's yahoo groups list, and decided to get together for a retreat. We've been doing it twice a year ever since the first one. We all bonded immediately. There are a few of us who've made it to every one so far, and others who've made it to most of them. A few joined us last year, and we have a brand new person coming that we've never met before. We come from all corners of Washington - up by Seattle, over in the wheatfields of the Paloose, and here in SW Washington. Some come from up and down western Oregon, and one is from the farmlands of central Idaho. We call ourselves the PINS - Phenominal Internet Northwest Stitchers. This will be our sixth get together. Every spring we meet in Longview Washington, and spend four days in the basement of a wonderful quilt shop called Momma Made It. That is a very dangerous place to spend 4 days, let me tell you! Some of us will meet tomorrow at the Red Lobster for dinner, then the rest will arrive on Thursday. I have the car all packed with sewing stuff - no matter how much I take I'm always afraid I'm going to run out LOL! I'm taking appliqué, my string blocks, 2 1/2 inch strips for Bonnie's Scrappy Bargello, 1 1/2 inch strips for nine patches, and the quilt I've been hand quilting for several years now. I'm sure that's enough - I'm also sure I'll throw in at least two more projects before I go - just in case LOL! Spending four whole days stitching with quilt buddies - what could be better? And when we get tired of stitching we can go upstairs to shop! I'll take pictures to share when I get back. In the meantime I've interspersedd official "group portraits" from past retreats throughout this post.

Monday, March 20, 2006

You mean I can choose only 25?

What are the top 25 quilts that are on my "To Do" list that I want to make? Argh!!!! How can I ever narrow down the choices to 25!

I was reading through the Stash Quilts ring while eating my lunch here at work, I saw Jeanne's response to Evelyn's challenge. So I went back to Evelyn's page and scrolled down to find the challenge. Somehow I missed it while I was catching up on my blog reading last night. So, looking for an excuse to delay going back to work I decided to see how many I can put on the list from memory. Shouldn't be too hard - remember, I'm the quilter with a spread sheet of 58 PIGS! The hardest part will be deciding what order to do them in. And I'm NOT going to include any of my UFO's on the list.

1. November's Song by Jan Patek - a kit all ready to go
2. Home Sweet Home by the Blackbird ladies - a BOM that I've not yet started
3. Quilting the Garden by the Blackbird ladies - I have the fabrics all stacked and ready for this one.
4. Samples from the Past by the Blackbird ladies - I know just what colors I want to use
5. Tulip Garden by the Blackbird ladies
6. Birthday Rose by Jan Patek - a kit all ready to go
7. Liberty Eagle by Jan Patek - a kit all ready to go
8. Anniversary Stars, a scrap quilt designed by Evelyn Sloppy - fabrics chosen and ready to go
9. New Century Garden by Cherie Ralston and Karla Menaugh - for learning invisible machine applique - a kit all ready to go
10. Pineapple Tidbits by The Buggy Barn - a kit all ready to go
11. Millenium Garden by Jan Patek
12. Garden Botanical by Robyn Pandolph - background all ready to go
13. through 25. Twelve "Celebrate" quilts by Lori Smith - a wallhanging for every month - kits all ready to go

And that is just the beginning. I know I've left off lots of important ones. There are quilts on Bonnie's Quiltville site. Antique quilts in my quilt search books I want to recreate. Classic quilt patterns I want to do again. And many, many more.

Picking only 25 is impossible!

Sunday, March 19, 2006

A wonderful time was had by all

We had a great weekend at the beach with our kids. The weather cooperated beautifully! This large beach house belongs to our daughter-in-law's family. It was built just north of the little town of Long Beach, Washington by her maternal grandfather in 1980. This is the view of the Pacific ocean from the living room, eating area and master bedroom. Their property goes all the way to the beach so they don't have to worry about anyone building in front of them. Unfortunately what looks like a stream on the left side of the picture is the path to the beach, so we didn't get to walk to the beach. That's about the only thing we didn't get to do. The water was so deep it had a riffle like a lake - there has been a LOT of rain in the last three months! We played lots and lots of games - all our families have always been very big on games. Here you see the bunch getting ready to play dominoes. Our daughter and son-in-law are on the left, son and daughter-in-law and Chewbacca the dog in the center and my DH Fred on the right. We also played Boggle, 31, Phase 10 dice, Mille Bournes, Sequence, Whoonu, plus the video game Monkey Bowling. We also played both ping pong and pool. After a dinner last night of pizza we watched Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.

Even though we couldn't walk to the beach we still got some exercise. Yesterday morning we three ladies took the dog for a walk into town. We got our coffee for the morning, then Chelsea, Rebecca and Chewie walked to boardwalk while I visited the quilt store. I think I was very good - just one small sack full went home with me, in spite of the fact that they were having a fat quarter sale. Ninety-nine cent fat quarters are very hard to resist, but I bought only 8. I bought 5 yards of cheddar to go with a scrap quilt - maybe the strings - plus a half yard of a civil war fabric that particularly appealed to me. I bought a packet of 6" squares of the new Moda collection called Poetry. That gives me the pleasure of ownership at a very low price, and the pieces are plenty big enough for scrap quilts. Here is a picture of the haul. The round trip was a little over 3 miles, so that was a very nice walk on such a beautiful morning.

I did get one pattern also - a red and white ABC redwork pattern. Remember my collection of red and white fabrics? This might be just the ticket for using some of them. Unfortunately you can't see all the cute embroidery pictures in this scan, but you can see how they all fit in the center of the neat quilt blocks. They are color-book like drawings of things from childhood representing all the letters of the alphabet. This one will be fun to do, as I enjoy simple embroidery very much. But believe it or not, I have no plain white cotton broadcloth in my stash! I'll have to buy some white fabric in order to do this.Better call it quits and get back to catching up on laundry. After all, I have only 2 days to pack for my quilt retreat!

Friday, March 17, 2006

Making progress

Last night I finished pressing all my strings. These two baskets full look so much better than the tangled mess they were before! Turns out there aren't as many as I thought there were. Lots of the mess turned out to not be strings after all - more like oddball shaped pieces that I'd separated by colors at one time and put in ziploc bags. That was when I thought I was going to make string spool blocks - with the thread as the string - and needed strips and pieces only 4" long. So I culled a lot of those - I just didn't feel like dealing with little odd shaped pieces smaller than 3". I know I could have made crumb blocks, but as it is I have enough fabric for 3 lifetimes at least. I stamped on my feelings of guilt and tossed those in the garbage. Also tossed were lots and lots of very narrow strings where the widest part of the strip was less than 1/2". Whatever possessed me to save those to begin with I'll never know!

I managed to piece two more blocks on Wednesday night, and I'm already playing with ideas. I like the graphic design when I put them this way on the design wall. I'm thinking of doing a double sashed quilt - with a small 1" sashing inside each four block set. What do you think of solid black sashing with cheddar setting squares? Then maybe the larger sashing in a bold red? When I'm at the retreat next week I can cut some strips to play with on the design wall.

I also have these baskets of 2" squares to deal with. There's a funny story about these squares - at least it's funny to me because it's so typical of my quilting. In 1992 I got to go to the Houston Quilt Festival with the Daisy Kingdom entorage. I took a scrap class from Dara Duffy Williamson. We were to bring "a large varied collection of fabrics". I just couldn't decide what to take, so I cut an 8" square from every piece in my stash to take. My suitcase weighted a ton! In the one day class I made a total of 4, six-inch blocks. The lady next to me didn't read the class sheets and had brought a total of 4 fabrics so I shared my loot with her, but still brought most of it home untouched. Fast forward about 5-6 years. I took an "Illuminations" class from the Watercolor ladies- Pat Magaret and Donna Slusser. I needed 2" squares of lots of fabrics, so I cut my remaining 8" squares into 2" squares. Illumination turned out to not be "my thing", so all I accomplished was putting some squares onto a design wall. In the meantime I had 15 pizza boxes full of 2" squares sorted by color and value. Fast forward to the present and Bonnie's leaders and enders. I dumped all the squares into two baskets and have been stitching them together as a leaders and enders project ever since. I have no idea what I'll do with these - I imagine as I continue to stitch them together they'll tell me what they want to be. In the meantime I'm having fun visiting my stash in tiny increments.

After work today we're heading to the beach with our kids for the weekend. I'll miss everyone while I'm gone, but hopefully I'll have some completed appliqué blocks to show you on Sunday night!

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

This is so much fun!

Wednesday nights are almost always spent with our daughter and son-in-law. We go to dinner and then either play games, watch a movie, or watch our beloved Mariners during baseball season. Tonight was no exception, but I did manage to piece two more string blocks. I'm having so much fun doing this! But my string pile is growing and expanding! I guess I had really crammed them in there. Two baskets full have now become two overflowing baskets of pressed strings, another big pile of pressed strings, and a giant pile of unpressed strings. When they are all pressed they will take up at least 5-6 times as much space as they did before. I think I have enough strings for at least a couple queen size quilts!

Revisiting these fabrics from quilts made log ago is lots of fun too - even all the tiny calicos. I had so many of these because I had a doll and teddy bear making business for 7 years when my kids were in grade school, and they all had dresses, aprons hats, etc. made out of calicos. When I got tired of the business and went back to teaching my remaining fabric inventory - which was large even then - got renamed my "quilting stash". There are even some scraps from dresses I made my daughter and granny dresses and maternity smocks I made myself. What fun memories! I'm having so much fun that I've almost reached the point of deciding to take all these baskets with me to the retreat next week and focus on making strippy blocks. I can appliqué in between machine sewing sessions.

I can hardly wait - the last week before retreat is always the hardest. I only get to see these quilty internet friends from all over Washington and Oregon twice each year when we get together for a retreat. Isn't the internet wonderful! There are so many wonderful quilters that I never would have met - both in "virtual" and in person quilting sessions - without it!

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

I give up!

Blogger just won't let me put the pictures where I want to in that last post. No matter what I try the spacing of the words is always wonky. I've tried four times - now I'm throwing in the towel. Sorry it looks so weird - I guess it'll just have to look that way!

Sometimes I have such a love-hate relationship with this computer!

Piecing Again

Sunday I pieced a dozen log cabin blocks for a friendship block exchange at the retreat next week. It felt so nice to be piecing again! I love appliqué, but I also love piecing. I've done very little piecing for a long time, and I missed it!

I didn't want to work on any of my appliqué as I'm saving it for the beach and the retreat, so I finally got around to dealing with my strings. I've been stuffing strings in baskets for years and years. I'd no idea how many of them there were! They were in a tangled, wrinkled mess - I had no idea there were so many of them. I had to start by pressing them - at least enough to get started. Then I found an old phone book ala Bonnie - I knew I had at least one around here - and cut out big squares. By the time I got to sewing I found time to make only two blocks. I wanted to see how they would turn out, because these are all really ugly fabrics. At least ugly to my 21st century mind. They are almost all from my 80's calicos - fabrics I gave away to charity about 5 years ago. It's neat that I'll have bits of those fabrics in a quilt this way - and they don't look ugly at all in the string blocks. I'm already thinking how I'll set them together. Maybe with black? Or how about cheddar? As Bonnie says, cheddar goes with everything!

Monday, March 13, 2006

A little bit was accomplished . . .

on my trip. Would you believe I forgot that most of my flight time would be at night? My eyes aren't nearly good enough to appliquéd by that tiny light one can turn on when all the airplane lights are dimmed. I got my eagle block finished, so when I got home I was able to stitch it to the other two blocks. Luckily I also had a book on CD to listen to so I wasn't totally bored.

I partially finished the Girl Gang tree block also - and that was it! I was all washed out on Saturday with the rapid time changes - at least I'm sticking to that story - so I spent the morning reading and then finished the tree block, the pineapple block and the snowman block. That allowed me to stitch all the bottom pieces together. Here's what that looks like now.

So I still have 5 or 6 prepped applique blocks to do. That's OK - we're going to the beach this coming weekend with the kids and their spouses so I'll need some handwork to take along. I also have a quilting retreat coming up the following week that I mainly want handwork for. So I probably still don't have enough for all that time and will need to find more hand projects to work on.

Reminiscing now . . . 1991 . . . both kids are now in high school with our daughter entering her senior year and our son entering his sophomore year. That meant lots of volunteering as parents to help with various school activities. I was substitute teaching then, with a long term maternity leave job all spring and starting a one-year half time extended kindergarten contract in September. I also became president of the quilt guild in September. I was teaching quilting at Daisy Kingdom in Portland Oregon. Helping dear daughter with the college hunt. It was an incredibly busy year! Can't believe it was 15 years ago now!

I've finished reading all the blog entries that were posted while I was gone. Didn't take time to comment as I wanted to get through all of them. I'll do better from now on and post comments again. It's really great to be home - I'm basically a home body. I get too lonely for (1) family, (2) friends, (3) sewing machine, (4) fabric, and (5) chatting, reading and posting about quilting with all my Internet buddies - not necessarily in that order!

Good morning to all!

I am back from my business trip and almost recovered - I'm really a lousy traveler when I fly. Took me until last night to catch up with all my email, and I've still not caught up reading everyone's blogs. Figured I'd better do a short post at least so everyone would know I'm still alive and kicking.

I enjoyed the walk down memory lane a few of you posted about. So here's mine:

In 1976 I was a stay at home mom with a daughter who turned two in June and a son born in May of that year. Two kids were 100 times more work than one! I was doing everything I could to stay home - we were so broke! I sewed all our clothes - even tailored a suit for my school teacher husband. I had a vegetable garden in our tiny backyard - filled every corner with garden! I canned about 1500 jars of fruit and vegetables, and froze what I didn't can. I taught piano in the afternoon to about 15 kids - most of whom didn't practice so they never progressed much - that provided money for milk and eggs in between the monthly paycheck. Sometimes I just played with my kids all day. Those were such happy times!

I need to get ready for work. I'll post about 1991 later today.

Tuesday, March 7, 2006

Up early and ready to go

Woke up at 4:30 - don't know if it was excitement about traveling or nervousness about flying - or maybe a bit of both. I'm basically ready to go - just need to pack the curling iron after it cools down and my toothbrush.

I have at least 10 prepped appliqué blocks - probably more - that I'm taking with me. I know I won't finish them all, but they aren't heavy and I don't want to take the chance of running out of things to do! Typical quilter - I know.

Have a great week everyone - I'll "see" you on Saturday.

Sunday, March 5, 2006

Basically a non-quilty day

It's a good thing I took a personal day on Friday - I needed all of this three-day weekend to do everything that needed doing. Today I ran basting stitches around all my circles and pressed them with the mylar templates inside, and that was pretty much it quilt-wise. I did pack my appliqué for my trip - and then realized they'd probably call my Omnigrid tote a "personal item" and not let me take my backpack also. So tomorrow I have to find something to repack it all into that I can put in my backpack.

Speaking of backpacks - I tried to find one of ours and apparently we've stored both of them in our tent trailer - which is in storage at our son-in-law's parents house. That goodness for kids - I just called our daughter and they have one I can borrow. I need something big enough for my purse, my stitching and food. Guess they just don't serve meals on flights any more, but I know I'm going to get hungry before we get to Indianapolis at 10:30 p.m. That will be 7:30 according to my Pacific body time, which is still after dinner. We take off about 1:30 -right after lunch. Looks like we have a one hour layover in Chicago, so hopefully we can grab a little hot food there between gates.

Had an unexpected visit from our son this morning, which was a nice treat. He and his wife live in Newberg Oregon - a little over an hour away - so we don't get to see them more than once a month or so. He was over here for further testing with the Vancouver Police Department - he's hoping to have a second career as a police officer. He's been unemployed for almost a year in spite of his college degree - he's a software developer who took a severance package from his company when they decided to move everyone to Florida. As much as I hate him being unemployed and worry about them a lot, I wouldn't have handled them being in Florida at all well. He had no trouble getting his first two jobs - one right out of college and another when the first company went bankrupt - but now most of the software developer jobs seem to have moved to India. He's sure he could go to work for Microsoft, but they don't want to move to the greater Seattle area because they could never afford a house up there. I've been holding positive thoughts and doing a lot of praying for them, but so far nothing. He really wants a career change to something meaningful in the community, so I'm hoping the police officer thing will work out.

Packed up my small number of winter decorations and got out my small number of spring decorations. I thought I had lots more, but I guess I was thinking about all the Easter things. I have 10 or so beautiful china cups and saucers - many that I inherited from mine and my husband's family - plus a few teapots that I love. I've put them out in the dining room and living room - they look so very spring like! Hung a St. Paddy's day wreath by the front door and called it good. Did four loads of laundry, took care of all the clutter strewn about, and got my suitcase mostly packed.

I sure missed stitching today!

Saturday, March 4, 2006

Progress - slowly but surely

I put my "It's a Wonderful Life" prepped blocks up on my design wall so I could refer to them when I'm choosing additional fabrics. I decided to take a quick picture of them to show you. A couple of them aren't in the exact places they will be in the quilt - the top house and baskets are actually higher with additional blocks in between, and the winter house is actually farther to the right with a strip of star blocks on the left. I get a good feel for how things are looking even though parts are missing - so I threw them all up there anyway. Four stars to piece, and one more house to prep, then I'll be all caught up with the patterns that I've received. Aside from the fact that lots of appliqué still needs to be done. Minor details, right?

It's a Wonderful Life

I guess blogger won't allow more than 5 pictures per post, so I thought I do another short post about the "It's a Wonderful Live" quilt. The first picture is what my blocks look like so far. I have four or five star blocks to piece this weekend, as well as all the appliqué blocks I prepped. The second picture is what the entire quilt looks like. This is Jan Patek's version. The picture isn't the best - it's pretty dark in spots. I think she's going for spring at the top of the quilt and winter at the bottom, which is why the fabric tones get darker.

I'm using felted wools and ultrasuede in my blocks in addition to cottons. The cat, the school boy's hair and the books are felted wool. The book straps are ultrasuede. The house is "The Winter House" on the bottom of the quilt. The "Spring and Summer House" and "The Fall House" are two of the blocks I'm prepping today. I don't like the fabric I sewed to the top of the winter house. It's a blue and white plaid that I really liked, but I discovered it's way too light when I took the picture. Today I took it off and will find something else that works better. I'm sure having fun making this quilt!

"Preparation Days"

Tuesday afternoon I'm flying to Indianapolis, Indiana for a conference for work. I absolutely hate to fly, so I'm hoping that stitching will keep me busy enough to make the time pass quickly. When I've tried stitching in the past I've just been too nervous - reading seems to work better. But I'm not in the middle of any engrossing books right now - just finished "Stash Envy" by Lisa Boyer - so I'm going to try stitching again. I'm behind on almost all my BOM's; this will give me some time to catch up. So yesterday I prepped 8 different applique blocks.

Here are the blocks I prepped for "Its A Wonderful Life" - Jan Patek's 2005-2006 Girl Gang quilt. It's a typical Jan Patek quilt - lots of different sized blocks and a lot of appliqué. I'm doing this one totally from stash. I'm sticking to her basic color scheme, but changing it a bit. Hers goes from light to dark from the top of the quilt to the bottom - the picture isn't the best - but mine is going to be more even in color value.

This is the second block of the Jan Patek and Cherie Ralston 2006 mystery quilt. I really like the reverse appliqué on the flower blossom. The other piece of fabric is there under the flower fabric - it will show when I do the appliqué.

Here are the blue berries and all the flower centers for the next block. I like to use the mylar circle method. I run a gathering stitch around the outside of each fabric circle. I pull the gathering thread tightly, encasing the mylar circle inside. This makes a very smooth circle. I spray them well with fabric sizing, then press until dry. Once they are cool I release the basting stitches and take out the mylar circle. Works like a charm - perfect berries and flower centers!

Here are the next two blocks for Heirloom stitches. The flower centers go on these two blocks. I've had the basket block pieced since last weekend, but am just now getting to the appliqué preparation.

Finally I thought I'd show you the eagle block. The banner is finished. I had to rip out about 6 applique stitches to change the placement - took about 10 seconds. Seems like it took forever to place the three parts just right - especially the part in the eagle's mouth, and get it stitched down "just so" with tiny stitches. I heaved a big sigh of relief when that was over. Doing the rest of the appliqué will seem like a "piece of cake" after than part!

Thursday, March 2, 2006

This and That

Reading Vicky's post about Mardi Gras reminded me I let the entire celebration pass without showing you my Mardi Gras quilt. One of the Tangled Threads returned from a visit to New Orleans a couple years ago with a panel and a couple matching fat quarters for each of us. She challenged us to do something with them by the beginning of Mardi Gras the next year. Here is my quilt. Not at all colors I usually work with, and I never make things asymmetrical, but this turned out to be lots of fun. I got the idea out of an old quilt design book by Judy Hopkins called "One of a Kind Quilts". We had pillows, a small wall hanging strewn with beads and feathers, a purse and other small quilts on revelation day. It was a lot of fun.

Somehow I managed to volunteer to co-chair the making of our little guild's 2006 contribution to the Northwest Medical Team Quilt Auction next November. Our community has been putting this on for several years, and the amount we raise gets bigger each year. Last year it was over $40,000. Northwest Medical Teams are made up of doctors, nurses, dentists, surgeons, etc. who volunteer their time to go anywhere in the world where they are needed to deal with either natural or man-made (read war) disasters. I know they were very active in the hurricane recovery efforts in Louisiana. Anyway, my co-chair chose the colors and patterns. Not at all what I usually work with, but it certainly helped me use up some stash. We're showing this to the guild tonight and scheduling work parties to get it finished. I was supposed to make blocks in the opposite colorway also - white center and white outside ring - but I didn't discover that until bedtime last night. I didn't look at the picture closely enough, and the second block layout was two pages farther into the article. I thought the blocks were set with white sashing. Oh well, we can pass around the magazine picture to give them the idea. This is from an AP&Q - last December's issue I think. I don't like the pink at all - I'm going to take it off that block and substitute another color.

It's been a very busy week had work - hence no posts since Sunday. Got to get in the shower now - duty calls!