Sunday, September 29, 2013

New goals

I'm back in the groove now with 10 goals set for October, as well as a new set of quilting goals for 2013.  It is definitely possible for me to achieve Octobers, though it will take some diligence on my part.  I wonder how many I'll finish?

I've listed them on my left sidebar as usual, and updated the lists of stage completions for various projects.  I'm excited to be back to visible finish lines in the not too distant future.

I got home around 3:30 this afternoon, but must head out tomorrow morning again and won't be home until Wednesday night.  I'm going to Newberg to help my daughter-in-law who is recovering from surgery.  We are taking the tent trailer so I'll have a place to sleep and have "me" time after the girls are in bed.  Fred is driving me down to help set up the trailer, and then will come back to pick "us" up Wednesday night.

This will be back to back 3-day sessions away from Fred - I'm really going to miss him!

A very stormy time was had by all

I've always wanted to stay by the ocean during a big storm.  I got my wish this past weekend.  My Tangled Threads quilt group rented a house just south of Arch Cape, OR (which is just south of Cannon Beach on the northern Oregon coast).  We were right on the ocean - the view was magnificent.  We quickly talked through what we would do in the event of a tsunami, cleared out the cars and settled in for the weekend. 


Here is the "sunny view" from the deck.

Unfortunately we didn't get the "sunny view".  It was pouring rain throughout the 2 hour drive to the house (not counting a stop at Center Diamond, the Cannon Beach quilt shop).  By the time the cars were unloaded we were drenched.  Wind and rain was our pleasure the rest of Friday, with the addition of lightening during the night.  The wind was blowing too hard to hear any thunder.

Saturday was worse.  The remains of a typhoon arrived early Saturday morning, with driving rain and winds around 40 MPH with gusts up to 60.  The huge windows across the ocean front must be very strong glass, because they didn't move at all when the wind hit them.  The above umbrella was folded up but still attached to the table.  The table was blown backwards down the side deck and tipped over to lean up against the spare propane tank next to the barbecue.  The very large, heavy grill was rolling back and forth from one part of the deck to another until brave Sue donned her rain gear and moved it up next to the house at the far back of the side deck.  The chairs were blown off the balcony and into the yard.  Your can imagine the fabulous wave action we got to see all day Saturday.

We stayed cozy warm inside with this view and this large table for quilt projects.

Luckily the wind died down about noon, and the rain let up a little - just long enough for us to head into town for lunch at our favorite restaurant in Cannon Beach (the Lazy Susan - fabulous food!).  As another storm front was due mid-afternoon we decided to buy a large pizza, more salad fixings and snacks, and wine before heading back to the house.  That way we didn't need to venture out again.  Good thing too - as the second storm front did arrive shortly after we got back.

I didn't take any pictures - it was just too dark, gray and stormy for anything to photograph well with my small camera and small skills.  (I "borrowed" the above pictures from the vacation rentals page for the house). Believe me - it was a marvelous adventure.  It rained all the way home today also, though there was little wind (thank goodness!)  No slides to block highway 101 so we were trapped on the coast.

I did manage to finish the binding on three quilts while we were gone, plus a little quilting on a fourth quilt.  I didn't touch the applique I took.  Isn't it always the way - we think we can accomplish three times as much quilting as we actually do in the time allowed. 

All have light colored backs so I will write the labels directly onto the back of the quilts.  This gave me a great feeling of accomplishment!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

NIX the new iron

Day 2 - it has stopped working after smoking a bit.  I thought it was starch on the soleplate so I cleaned it off.  Smoked a bit more then quit.  No heat at all.  Indicator light doesn't come on.  Back to the store with this tomorrow!

I'm sorry about this as I really liked the way it felt in my hand and how hot it got.  Back to my trusty Rowenta travel iron.

One block is prepared

I love how this is looking!

And I give two thumbs up to Pearl Periera's applique method.  The only difference between hers and mine is that I still use the stiletto in my right hand and my left fingers to help turn under the seam allowance, followed by the iron.  She has the stiletto in her left hand and the iron in her right and does it all in one step.  Her left hand is obviously more talented than mine.

On Monday I picked up a new little iron to use for this process - it is similar to the one Pearl uses in her DVD.  It is VERY light weight, has no steam vents so the entire soleplate is hot, and a nice pointy front end.  I like it a lot!  It's tiny - my pressing mat (which looks like it's time I retired it) is just over 12" square.  The handle comes off and is stored by sliding it onto the base.  I found it at Fabric Depot in Portland OR.  They have them in the online store as well as in the actual store.

Now I'll have some lunch, clean off the cutting table and start making bindings!

I knew it wouldn't last

My vague quilting goal worked well for the summer.  Now it is starting to bother me.  A lot.  I've accomplished much in the last three months - started a bunch of new quilts - and have finished nothing.  Now that autumn is "officially here", I'm once again feeling the need for some goals.  I'm missing that marvelous feeling I get every time I finish something.

I'm almost done finishing the first block of "Sweet Memories" to take to the beach.  That's all I'm going to do on that quilt before I leave.  I have five small quilts that are in need of binding in order to have five more finishes.  It is now their time - I hope to have the binding machine stitched on each one so I can finish them at the beach. 

When I get back home in the middle of next week I'll do some serious goal setting.  I'm drawn to making progress on some of my long term projects.  "Civil War Diary" is calling for my attention - when I'm in the sewing room my eyes keep going to the design wall and wondering what the next finished row will look like.

"Progress made on many new and ongoing projects" was fun while it lasted, but now it is time to get back to the business at hand.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

I couldn't resist buying this pattern!

I think I might have to make this just so I can hang it up as a warning to Fred when it is one of those days.  This will be easily made from scraps.  I'm resisting starting it - I must stay focused as the weekend is coming!

I'm still here

I am surprised to see how long it has been since I posted.  It shows you that I've been doing nothing of photo value.

I have finished making all the templates for Baltimore Autumn except for the large center block.  In doing so I used up the second roll of freezer paper that I bought all those years ago.  Those of you new to quilting and/or new to applique probably aren't aware of the "Great Freezer Paper Scare" of

the early 1990's.  The Reynolds company announced they were no longer going to produce freezer paper - or so the rumor said.  The applique lovers of the quilting world panicked and started stockpiling freezer paper.  We all tried to determine how many rolls we would need so we wouldn't run out before we died.  Freezer paper flew off the store shelves.  It was very hard to find.  Word would spread when a store got in a shipment and the rolls would disappear off the shelves in record time.  A letter writing campaign to Reynolds began.  I, myself, bought two rolls, then two more, then two more, always afraid I'd never have enough.  I think I had 8 or 10 rolls when I finally stopped buying.  Eventually Reynolds announced they had no intention of stopping the production of freezer paper and the madness ended.  I sold several of my rolls in the following years, and now have four or five left.  In 20 years I've used two of them.  Just the thought of our madness makes me laugh.

I'm ready to start choosing fabrics, but had to put that aside to make sure I have plenty of handwork prepared for this next weekend.  My Tangled Threads buddies and I have rented a house at Arch Cape, OR for the weekend.  We are right on the ocean and are hoping for nice weather.  It's been about 18 months since we got away together - we can hardly wait.  I knew I would never be able to prepare any Baltimore Autumn blocks in time, so I pulled out a kit that I've had for years and years and will have it ready to go.  I'm excited to start this one.  It is called "Sweet Memories".  It is from the booklet "Lovina's Pressed Flowers" by Blackbird Designs (Barb Adams and Alma Allen), copyrighted in 2003. 

Easy, large applique, so this should be fairly quick to do.  My goal is to prepare 3 blocks for the weekend.   Here are the fabrics - I just love how they look together!

Of course I'll take my basket of hand quilting also, for when I get tired of doing applique.

We are going to have such a great time!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

It is dead.

Really dead.  My beloved IPOD, which has given me hundreds and hundreds of delightful listening hours.  It has turned up its toes.  Stuck its spoon in the wall.  (For all of you out there who love Regency romances like I do).

I can't remember when we bought this - I know it was years ago.  We bought this one for both of us, and realized right away that wouldn't work so bought another too.  This model hasn't be sold for a long time.  This one had twice as much storage as Fred's, so this one holds all the audio books.

I was near the beginning of the third book of a trilogy, so had to keep reading.  I managed to listen to that one on my tablet.  For some reason my phone won't seem to accept the newest downloads. I've ordered a new one - expected it today - but just learned it won't get here until next week.

How am I going to entertain myself while I deal with this?

I'm just not in the mood for TV or a movie - especially something new that I need to actually watch.

I'm in search of a solution to this dilemma.  Wish me luck.

UPDATE:  I deleted the audible app on my phone and reinstalled it.  Hooray!  That worked.  Now I'm happily listening to my newest book while ironing fabric.  Turns out the temp wasn't nearly as high today as expected, so I washed two loads and decided to chance it.  I'm tolerating it, as long as the fan is aimed directly at me!

Partial Success, plus a lot more!

My experiment with a wavy (pinking) blade in the rotary cutter was a partial success - enough so that I'll continue with the process in the future.  I was thrilled to pull a bunch of fabric from the washer to find there were no knotted-together fabrics and no fabrics tangled together with strings.  There were still strings that needed to be trimmed, but not nearly as many as before.  This took much less time than stitching all the edges would take, that's for sure.  The wavy blade has lost its "new" sharpness after cutting so many edges; I hoped it would last longer for the price.  It is still sharp enough to trim the edges of applique blocks to prevent them from fraying during stitching - I don't know why I didn't think of this before!

These next pictures are a bit scary looking - especially considering I've stated numerous times that I'm putting myself in the "no buying mode".  I've come to realize that I'll never be able to stick to that mode unless I cut up all my credit cards, delete my PayPal account and put all the family accounting into Fred's hands.  Which would quickly lead to my insanity and a financial mess (my husband is a darling in many ways, but he isn't organized enough to manage finances, in spite of being a retired math teacher).

These are this year's purchases sorted by color, waiting to be prewashed.  I was on a roll, and then hot weather hit again.  We've been in the high 80's and low 90's - setting temperature records for September - which means I'd be standing in a sauna if I tried ironing slightly damp fabrics in my sewing room.  So these piles are waiting for cooler weather before being washed.

The reality is that most of these fabrics are filling the color "gaps" in my stash.  There are many blacks, purples, yellows, madder reds and oranges, and a few grays.   There is space on my shelves for most of them - thank goodness!  A few are for a specific quilt I will make in the future - I had to get these particular picture prints while they were still available.  Yes, I bought some of them just because I wanted them.  This last category is the one where I'm working to curb my buying.  So here is the better pledge for me.

I hereby place myself on a Fabric Diet.  I will make only healthy fabric purchases.  This includes batiks as my collection is very small and I will use them in most future applique projects.  This also includes necessary fabric bought for a current project.  The only exceptions are the monthly block of the month kits for programs I've already subscribed to.  I will not allow myself to subscribe to any more BOM's until I've completed tops from all those I'm already getting.

I believe this is a pledge I'll be able to keep.  It will allow me to do some fabric shopping when I feel the urge, but will restrain me from buying fabric I really don't need and have no room to store.

Speaking of storing fabrics - I found a solution to storing my 30's and 40's collection that won't fit on the shelves.  I was in Tuesday Morning - a store I rarely enter - for something else and saw these baskets.  Right away I knew they would be perfect for storing these fabrics, making them so much more accessible.  I transferred the fabric into them as soon as I got home, and they are PERFECT!  There is just enough room left for the 30's and 40's fabrics - color gap fillers - waiting to be prewashed.  These baskets sit on the floor in front of fabric cabinets, and are easy to move when I want to get into the cabinets.  Much better than having these hidden away in the closet!

I'm spending a lot of time on quilty activities, but they are the kind that result in nothing much to show or talk about - besides trimming fabric edges and washing fabrics, I've been making templates for the Baltimore Autumn quilt.  I've completed 7 blocks, with 5 more to go, not including the large center block.  During this process I decided to order the applique techniques DVD made by Pearl Pereira (the designer of Baltimore Autumn) to see how she handles the very tiny pieces in her applique patterns.    

I found the DVD very helpful in that it presented a few new techniques I've not ever seen before.  I'm very eager to try them out.  Interestingly enough, she doesn't use an overlay to place her pieces while constructing the block.  Instead she uses washable glue to attach her pieces together, and builds the block on top of the pattern.  Finished large units of applique are then placed on the background with the pattern underneath the fabric and using a light box when needed.  So I've stopped creating overlays for these blocks, and will try both methods to see which I like the best.  As the quilt progresses, I'll tell you my of my experiences with both methods, and decide which I like the best.  She prepares her pieces using her templates the way I've been doing the last couple years, but uses starch instead of water.  It is different from the starch method I tried years ago and decided I didn't like.  This will be a great learning and discovery process.  (In case you are wondering about the large tissue box - I use these for my "garbage container".  Very handy, and a good "repurposing" of the empty box.)

Prize winners - nope, I've not gotten to the post office yet.  When hot weather hits I stay inside as much as possible trying to stay cool.  I promise you all they will be in the mail by the end of this week.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

I have winners!!!!

Sorry to be so late with this ladies - I apparently am suffering from a bit of procrastinationitis.  Decided this morning I'd better get with the program!

Here are the lucky winners of the latest giveaways:

Jack at the Gate - Gayle!

Frosty and Friends - Fiesta!

Where Liberty Dwells - Kay!

Heirloom Stitches - Marsha B!

Congratulations ladies.  Please send me your snail mail addresses so I can get your prize out in the mail ASAP.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

What's going on . . .

I needed some handwork these last few days, so I completed this little top.  Super simple applique and piecing.  Another finished top to add to the list.

Dash of Spring designed by Jan Patek
I've put away the machine and piecing for now to give me a work table for my new applique project.  It's been a VERY long time since I did a complex applique design.  This will be the first time I've used an overlay.  I'm eager to try it.  Previously I used the light box with the fabric over the pattern and pinned pieces in place.  Many pieces mysteriously migrated a bit as they were sewn down.  Not a good thing when the design is as complex as these.  This is the third of the overlays - two done and one nearly done.  I'm so eager to start choosing fabrics for these blocks!  I'm very excited, as this will be done from all those stacks of non-reproduction fabrics!

I'm sure everyone is waiting for me to do the drawings - I've just not gotten around to doing it.  By the end of this week for sure!