Thursday, October 30, 2008

Pay It Forward!

I've read so many "Pay It Forward" posts and seen so many wonderful gifts, and I've always wanted to participate. However, I felt I couldn't commit until I had a much better handle on all my UFO's. I'm not sure what that magic spot looks like, but I must have reached it because this morning I committed myself to playing on Julie's blog.

Here's how it works. I am one of the three people who committed, which means Julie will send me a hand made gift sometime in the next 6-12 months (or sooner if she can). In turn I promise to send a hand made gift sometime in the next 6-12 months to the first three people who comment and commit themselves to playing. In order to play you must post it to your own blog, and promise to send handmade gifts to the first three people who leave you a comment committing themselves to playing along. (I sure hope that makes sense - if it doesn't and you're not sure how this works just ask me.)

So - who of you would like to receive a handmade gift from me? I'm eager to see who wants to play!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Finn's Challenge

Back in September, in this post, I accepted a New Year's Eve challenge from Finn. I set a goal of finishing 6 projects before the calendar changed to 2009. Up until now I've not completed a single project - instead making progress on several. The specifics of the challenge were left up to each of us to decide for ourselves - what defined a UFO and what constituted a finish. They could be any sort of UFO's - they didn't have to be quilty. So, with that in mind, I'm counting several finishes for the New Year's Eve challenge.

1. Ghoulies and Ghosties pillow - stitchery done in 1965, originally intended for framing

2. Thanksgiving cross stitch pillow - stitchery done in the late 70's or very early 80's. Once I started quilting in earnest I stopped doing cross stitch.

3. Four springtime pillows, made from four friendship blocks, given to me in 1992 and originally intended for a quilt.

4. Three Christmas pillows, made from six friendship blocks, given to me in 1995 and originally intended for a wall hanging.

Thanks so much for the challenge, Finn - I'm sure these wouldn't have been completed without it!


Pillow production has drawn to a close, and I've crossed one more item of my list of UFO's. The six Christmas friendship blocks are now three completed pillows, ready to grace the couch and entry bench come December. All the blocks are signed and dated - 1995. What a great feeling to cross another truly ancient UFO off my list! I also finished the two stitchery pillows after a morning trip to Fabric Depot for 12" pillow forms.
The Ghoulies and Ghosties stitchery is dated 1965 and has the initials of my maiden name stitched before the date! It will go on our bed once the fall quilt comes off and the blue quilt goes back on in December. The pilgrim pillow is all ready to put on the entry bench the day after Halloween when the rest of the Thanksgiving decorations replace the witches, jack-o-lanterns and ghosts.

With these finishes I very happily crossed off another of my 2008 goals - the number of UFO's that are still in the unfinished top stage has dropped below ten - eight total to be exact. And seven of those eight should be easily finished to the flimsy stage, so I hope to have only one left by the end of the year. I'm not sure what has helped me the most - I'd love to say it was the goal setting I did at the beginning of the year, but I'm pretty sure retirement had a great deal more to do with it LOL!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Pillow Talk

I spent today making more pillows - more fairly mindless activity. The name for this post just jumped into my mind as I was sewing - I grew up watching so many Doris Day movies though this is the first time I've thought of one in years LOL!

The last spring friendship block just sat in my mind after I finished the others yesterday, and this morning it told me it wanted to be a pillow also. I found 12" x 16" pillow forms on the Internet - I've never seen them in the store, so I may have to make my own pillow form for this last pillow. This gives me two spring pillows for the couch and two more for the bench in the entry.

This "Ghoulies and Ghosties" pillow is made from the oldest UFO I had, of that I'm sure. I made it when I was a senior in high school - the date is stitched in the bottom corner. I remember using a magnifying glass to see an ad in the back of a McCallls Needlework and Crafts magazine well enough that I could copy it onto graph paper. I transferred it to fabric with carbon paper, as I'd not yet learned about Aida cloth and counted cross stitch. I've had it all these years - thinking some day I'd have it framed. I decided it would make a great pillow, and a pillow form would be much cheaper than custom framing!

I don't remember when I did this pilgrim cross stitch. I'm guessing it was the late 70's or very early 80's, as that's when I was doing a great deal of cross stitch. Just another project that sat in a drawer for years and years waiting for me to finish it. It'll look great on the bench in the entry this November.

I snapped this picture before I started sewing this morning after I pulled all the pillows-to-be out of the closet. Tomorrow I'll turn the Christmas star friendship blocks into three more pillows. I'm out of pillow forms so will need to head to either JoAnn's or Fabric Depot - I sure hope they are on sale. Then all that will remain of these is the collection of Halloween panels. Pillow forms that small aren't available, but I've got a case of stuffing in the attic that will fill homemade forms just fine - a great way to use scrap batting!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

More mindless sewing

Thanks for all the well wishes - I'm very slowly but surely starting to feel a bit better. I still have little energy for either activity or deep thought, so I've continued working on simple things.

I now have backs for every one of my finished quilt tops - that alone has given me a feeling of great accomplishment. The final top needing a back was a Christmas wall hanging made from friendship blocks given to me by current and past Threads - six blocks in all. I wasn't happy with how I set them together, and when I looked at the top yesterday I realized I'd never be happy with it. The six 12" blocks were set together in a boring two by three lattice arrangement - too big for a table runner and too long and narrow for a wall hanging. When I looked at them yesterday I realized immediately what the perfect solution would be. I spent last evening picking apart the seams, and tomorrow I will sew them into three Christmas pillows!

Today I shifted my focus to the spring exchange blocks I posted a few days ago. I'm happy to say they are now three finished pillows, and a trio of three small quilts that will be perfect hanging together in the hall next spring. It won't take much time at all to quilt and bind those three hangings - that will be my next hand project. That leaves only the clothesline block, which for now has been added to the drawer of orphan blocks.

Doing all this has given me a good sense of accomplishment - small projects are great that!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Missing in action

It's a good thing I'm typing this and not trying to carry on a conversation orally. At the moment I sound sort of like a stuffed up, croaky frog. My dear husband - gotta love the guy! - shared his cold with me last week. Started getting a sore throat on Wednesday, and by the weekend I was a washout in most every way that counts. Didn't even get dressed all weekend! Sunday he announced that after 3 weeks he thought he was finally feeling like himself again. I was glad to hear that, but at the same time hoped that I don't have to wait three weeks to feel better!

Needless to say I've not been accomplishing much in the way of sewing. Finished the three aprons I cut out several weeks ago for gifts - a good thing! Took all weekend and every ounce of energy I had, but they are done. After that I couldn't face anything requiring thought, so decided to make some quilt backs. Seemed like a good thing to do because it would (1) use up a bunch of stash, (2) take very little thought beyond some basic arithmetic with the help of a calculator, (3) get a bunch more tops one step closer to being finished quilts, and finally (4) sounded like something I could do with little or no energy. I'm happy to report that I now have completed backs for almost every flimsy in my sidebar list. I think there are only three or four left. Here they all are, hanging together with their tops in the closet in the longarm room, waiting their turn with Gandalf. The stash didn't go down nearly as much as I'd hoped - I still have more fabric than will fit on my shelves - but it's a beginning.

Looking on the bright side of things - being sick certainly helped my weight loss because I've not felt like eating much of the time. Fred lost 8 pounds while he was sick - 8 pounds he couldn't afford to lose. I've not lost nearly that much, but did weigh in yesterday morning two pounds lighter than the week before for a total lost of 24 pounds. I even found the energy to try on some of the clothes I've been saving and some of them actually fit!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Weight loss journey report

Last week was disappointing when I stepped on the scale - no weight loss. I told myself that also meant no weight gain, which is a good thing. However, it made me more determined than ever to see a loss this week. So I increased my time on the exercise cycle and buckled down on my food intake. I did OK - other than a total loss of control at a party Saturday night - so I was very pleased when I weighted in at WW this morning and had a 1.6 pound loss. That's 22 pounds total! I came home - went through my closets and drawers - and filled two more sacks with fat clothes. Felt so good to put them in the local charity bin!

I hate to write a post without a picture - guess I should have taken a picture of the two sacks LOL!

1. A wonderful day spent with Joseph
2. Fall colored leaves against a clear blue sky
3. A supportive family when it comes to my weight loss journey

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Fall decorations

Finishing my fall decorating is one of the things I was supposed to be doing instead of sewing the Halloween quilt. The decorating was only half finished, and stuff was strewn all over - floor, tables, etc. Finally finished most of it about 9:00 last night. Just need to get some pictures back out now that I know where there are empty spaces to fill on the bookshelves.

Today is a Joseph day - and tomorrow I must sew the aprons, which was another thing I was supposed to be doing last weekend.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Ready for quilting

The Halloween top is finished! I've also finished stitching the back - using up all the leftovers from the sashings as well as the strips I cut for possible inner borders! I even have a light colored strip in the back where I can write the label information! This quilt is now number four in line to be quilted. I think I need to focus on doing some quilting this coming week!

A huge thank you to everyone who so freely shared your opinions. They really helped me decide what to do. I tried so many different things - I even looked in the stash to see if there was a border alternative I'd not considered. As I tried different things I was able to eliminate bit by bit, and finally made my decision this morning. I decided not to use a narrow inner border because I really didn't want anything to take away from the 1" squares around the edge of the quilt. I also realized that the "dead trees with owls" fabric was the best choice - I just needed to make the borders narrower so they didn't distract from the quilt center. I settled on 3 1/2" wide, and I love how it looks. I really wanted to use this fabric, because it's so perfect for a Halloween quilt. Leafless trees in a dark, stormy-looking night, with owls perching in the branches as the final perfect touch. Now I'm eager to get this finished, as I really want to display it this year.

I also made a decision about the spring blocks thanks to everyone's suggestions. It never occurred to me to split them up. I've put the basket block in the orphan block drawer to go into a donation quilt. I'm going to border the two long vertical blocks, as well as the three little blocks, and turn them into a set of three small spring wall hangings. Those should finish very quickly. The bunny will turn into a pillow for Easter decorating, and the sunbonnet girl into a spring pillow for the entry bench. That just leaves the clothes line - not sure what I'll do with that one. Maybe add it to the orphan drawer too. I can't begin to remember who made it, so it doesn't have any special meaning for me. Now I'm eager to get going with these projects. A huge thank you to those sharing ideas for these blocks - they really helped me get my mind around the problem of what to do with these blocks.

Sure felt good to finally cross another unfinished top off my UFO list!

1. A great visit with Lily, Sophie and their parents.
2. A wonderful evening spent with friends
3. Enough stamina to increase my time on the exercise bike

Saturday, October 4, 2008

More ideas

Since so many like the "dead trees", I tried it with a narrower border of about 3". Liked that much better than the wider border, but forgot to take a picture. Tried a narrow inner border of the dark green - it got lost. The narrow inner border of a lighter, brighter green is better, but still doesn't wow me. I think I like the narrow orange inner border - at least better than the green - but I still think I like it better without any narrow inner border.

I have another set of blocks made by the same group of ladies for me. The subject was "Spring", and I provided a packet of fabrics for each of them. These are from 1992!!!! They aren't nearly as successful as the Halloween blocks - in my opinion anyway - but I want to do something with them. To me the big pieced basket doesn't "go", so I think I'll use it for a label on the back. I had a serious falling out with the lady who made it, who moved away at least 15 years ago, so I'd rather not see it on the front of the quilt at all.

Anybody besides me remember these fabrics? They were 1980's calicoes - about all I have left since I gave the rest away for charity years ago.

I'd love to have your opinion

The Halloween Quilt is finished as far as inner borders go. I could leave it this way - with just the checkerboard border - but to me it looks unfinished. So I've decided to add another border.

Here is the first alternative - what I call "dead tree" fabric. (Click the picture for a better view of the fabric.) I love this fabric - I think it goes marvelously with Halloween. It's also found three other places in the quilt - it's behind the gravestones and it's the background of the bottom two stars on the lower right. This is the fabric I planned to use. But now that I have it all laid out I'm wondering if it's too dark - that the eye is drawn to the border first and not the center of the quilt. Maybe it just needs to be a bit narrower. Or maybe I shouldn't use it at all.
My other choice is this green Moda marble. It certainly accents the quilt without drawing the viewer's eye from the center of the quilt. It's pretty boring however. But maybe a boring border is what I need. I also wouldn't have to piece this border - or worry about design orientation like I do with the "dead trees". Or maybe I should toss both of these back into the stash and look for another choice

When I was pulling fabrics to go with these blocks I found this panel that I'd completely forgotten about. I love it - I think I need to make some Halloween pillows for the couch and the entry bench. Don't you agree?

Friday, October 3, 2008

Striking out an item on a sidebar list

I've received quite a few comments asking me how to "cross out" an item in a sidebar list - the way I've done in my UFO and Flimsy lists. I've replied to those people whose email address is available, but often I have no way to contact the person making the comment. So, without further ado, here is how it is done. At least the way I do it - there may be other ways but I have no idea what they are.

Since I created my sidebar lists when I was still using the old version of blogger, they are all written in HTML. The strike out command is also done in HTML language. It looks like this

49. <>PINS Churn Dash Exchange < /s ><>DONE!< /strong >

Update: In the above example there is supposed to be a letter "s" inside the first set of brackets. I've tried to correct this several times, and every time I save it the "s" disappears.

The <> is placed directly before the first word you are crossing out, and the < /s > is placed directly after the last word you are crossing out. The second command is very important - if you forget it then everything after will be crossed out.

Important note: In my examples above and below I had to put a space before and after the command in the brackets in order for the command to remain in a form that allows you to see the HTML. When you type it there are NO spaces inside the two brackets.

You may also notice these two commands above: < strong > and < /strong >. This is what changes the font to BOLD. I don't know very much HTML, but have fun using the small amount I do know.

Note: the word "strong" should be between the first set of brackets in the second HTML command. Like the "s", it keeps disappearing.

If your sidebar list is created using the "List Gadget" instead of the "HTML Gadget" then I have no idea how to strike through items on the list.

Almost finished

Well, I just couldn't help myself - instead of doing what I should have been doing I kept working on the Halloween quilt. The top is now done except for a checkerboard border, and possibly a final border. I decided I wasn't willing to take the time to appliqué two more blocks - I want to move on to something else - so I dug through my stash to find a couple Debbie Mumm fabrics with borders that would be a good substitute. I think the witch works well. Frankenstein doesn't work quite so well because of the darker background behind the figures. It makes the bottom left corner of the quilt look a bit muddy. I decided I could live with it however, so muddy it will stay.

I never thought I might have this done in time to display this year, but considering how far along the top is that just might happen. About time I think - these blocks are from 1993. It is my second oldest UFO. The oldest is a set of blocks from the same group, done in 1992. They depict "spring" and are just as varied in size as these are - if not more. I just may tackle them soon - I'm on a roll when it comes to putting together odd-sized blocks!


Lily's bilirubin levels have finally started to drop, so she shouldn't have to go back to the hospital for an extended stay under the lights - an answer to my prayers.

Looking back at the past week

Every day I've promised myself I'd find time to post, and by bedtime each day I realized that it hadn't happened. I have four folders of pictures to put into posts that are waiting to be written. I've just not stopped running so I could do so. Hopefully by the end of today - there, a public commitment - maybe that will make the difference. If so, there will soon be a flurry of writing after a week of drought.

I will say this for now - the last two days I've not being doing any of the things I should be doing. Instead I've been working madly on this Halloween quilt. As I looked at the blocks on my design wall I started to get some ideas. So of course I had to try couple of them. Since then it's been "I'll just do this much more, and then I'll put this aside". I think I've told myself that at least a dozen times the past two days. Hasn't happened yet!

So what do you think? This certainly shows how a bunch of dark, uncolorful blocks can be brought to life by the right setting. I'm sure having a lot of fun with this! I'll have to make a couple more small blocks to balance the tombstones on the bottom - otherwise it's just a matter of making more checkerboard sashings and then adding the last border.

1. Several days of marvelous fall weather before our rain arrived yesterday.
2. Lots of seasonal fruits and vegetables making a beautiful addition to our meals