Monday, August 31, 2009


Sunday, dear Sis and her family (hubby and nephew) came over for a visit. We spent some time outside and enjoyed the sunshine and cooler temps. When they decided it was time to go, I noticed a large insect on Sis's shirt. It was a live cicada! I've only seen a live one one other time in my life. Thank goodness she isn't queasy about insects! We got him off her and let nephew investigate him a little bit - he wanted to pick it up!

After they left, I went back outside and was chatting with DH when I noticed another cicada! So, I got the first one in the same place and grabbed the camera. 2 in one shot!

I then noticed a shell on the ground beneath the chair I was using to pose the 2 live I had to get a shot of that as well. What a day :)
And yes, I do think they are terribly ugly, but they're so elusive, I just couldn't pass up the opportunity! I think they were hiding underneath the hosta that's next to this chair - I had just dusted it with something to get rid of the japanese beetles and these guys showed up.

Oh - and a Summer Days update: I have about 11 half leaves left on the last border - almost there!!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

A Lost Day

I had every intention of getting a ton of things done today in my sewing room. You see, DH is off photographing a wedding (he's trying to start a business with the photography thing), so I had the house to myself - all day! And I did make it into the sewing room this morning. I even managed to sew 3 or 4 half leaves on that last border of Summer Days. But then I got sleepy. Really sleepy. So I decided to lay down for a nap. 3 hours and 20 minutes later I woke up to the phone ringing....DH calling to say he was at the reception and the wedding went well.

Yay! But I got nothing done yet!!! It's now 7:00 PM and I haven't done anything today! So, I'm on my way back up there and we'll see how I do....wish me luck everyone!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

A Lovely Gift

My DH's Aunt is a wonderful person. Since she never married or had children, she dotes on her 2 nephews - and well, on me too!

About 8 years ago, she gave me this for Christmas. Isn't it beautiful?

She made it with plastic canvas. When you lift the top, you see inside she constructed little sections for me to put things...

And when you lift that, you see there is another layer of sections!

I just love it. I use it to store all of my perl cottons and Kreiniks (as you can see). When I think of the time she put into it, it just makes me smile to know she loves me :)

I forgot to add a picture of the circles of my Circle Quilt the other day. These are what I'm working on when I watch football with DH. The circles finish to 1 3/8" (if I recall correctly), and I was lucky enough to find stickers in that exact size. So, I'm running a basting stitch in the seam allowance and pulling the fabric tight against the stickers. I've experimented and found out I can't iron with the stickers still there, so I'm letting them sit for a while, and when I'm ready to start sewing them on the quilt, I hope the fabric will remember it's crease and I can just pull out the sticker and go. If not, a quick dab of the iron should do the trick.

Oh! We found our first pumpkin yesterday!! DH and I decided to plant 2 pumpkin plants this year. We had wanted to do a whole garden, but we just don't have the yard space for these 2 plants were our consolation. We didn't clear an area for them, just plopped them in the ground behind the grill area about 6 weeks ago or so. They've been blooming each morning for a while, but yesterday, we found our first pumpkin - we were so excited! And today, I see there is another :) Can't wait for Halloween so we can use them to decorate :)

Saturday, August 15, 2009

It's the Journey for Me

If your favorite kind of blog entry is one about a finished project, my blog probably won't be on your favorite's list. You see, I just don't seem to get many things to the finished stage. Don't get me wrong, I love a happy dance as much as the next gal, but it's not what drives me. For me, it's the journey.

I usually start a new project with the pattern. I am not and will probably never be an "art quilter." Maybe it comes from my history as a cross-stitcher, but for me, my jumping off place for a new quilt is the pattern. I never feel comfortable when I try to start a quilt from the fabric-pulling stage - I always have a pattern in mind when I raid my stash. Now, that doesn't mean I won't make changes to the pattern - quilt or cross-stitch - but I don't like to start from nothing. I have to have a plan to work from.

I've even considered translating a photograph into a quilt. But I can't just look at the photo and start creating the quilt from bits of cloth and thread, oh no. I have to come up with a way to enlarge the photo onto paper so I can make templates. Of course, the easiest way to manage this is with a projector and a dark room. Unfortunately, I don't own or have access to one. So, I'm stalled, waiting for inspiration to strike and show me a different way to get my templates.

Don't get me wrong, I love the process I choose to make my quilts. That's what keeps drawing me back to the craft. The more handwork a project has, the more I love it. I'm actually considering giving my rotary cutters and cutting mats away and going back to templates. They're tried and true and I get much better results using temmplates than I ever did with a rotary cutter. Plus, it connects you to your project more, the more you handle it. You stitch more memories into it the longer you work on it. Heck, I've got projects that I've been working on for over 8 years, and I love them as much now as the first day I started working on them. I'm almost afraid to finish some of them - it will be like losing a good friend that I could sit down and enjoy the evening with.

On that note - I'd like to share a couple of things I did manage to get finished. These are my carry-along goody bags. The first one is my current favorite. I got the pattern as a free insert from Connecting Threads when I purchased a fabric pack. You can find it here, with a different fabric pack than the one I bought.

(I have no idea how the link to the above picture was goofed up...sorry - I also don't know how to fix it)

I changed the pattern slightly by stuffing one of the inner pockets with fiberfill and stitching the top closed, rather than constructing a round pincushion for the bottom of the inside. I still want to add beads to the drawstrings, but I haven't made the time yet. As you can see, it holds everything I need to work quite well, and when it is closed, it becomes small enough to toss into my bag for work so I have everything I need for breaks and lunches.

This next one is another favorite of mine. I made this one from a pattern that was given to me (I don't know where it came from). I modified it again by making the outer layer of fabric a solid piece, rather than construct the flying geese that the pattern calls for. It's a good way to use a favorite piece of fabric.

The ends are stuffed so they can be used as temporary pincushions. Long-term needle/pin storage is inside the flap, though, so nothing comes up missing during transport. It holds quite a bit, as well, and is very compact, too. You may notice on the close-up of the following picture that the end circles are a bit worse for wear. That would be because Pips, our dog, got a hold of this when he was a puppy and thought it tasted very good. Luckily, I was able to rescue it before he did too much damage, and just a bit of minor repair got it back to decent shape again.

Oh! And in case you thought I had forgotten about Summer Days, I finished the 3rd border last weekend! I tried to get "artsy" with the photo, so it's not the best, but I'm still learning how to do this whole photography thing. I'm working on the last border now and hope to get it done in the next week or two.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

My Work Project

I decided to share the project I've been working on during breaks and lunches at work. It's another applique project, with no real name yet, so for lack of something original, I'm calling it the Circle Quilt for now. That'll probably change as it moves along.

Here is a picture of what I've done so far:

I've got a couple blocks that look like this. Just stems and leaves. Lots of leaves waiting to be basted to blocks....and a few border blocks completely finished (of course I forgot to take a picture of those)...

And this is what the goal is:

I found this pattern in the Fons & Porter magazine, July/Aug 2006. I just love the overall pattern the circles make, and the quilting on it is divine! I want to do something similar, but will be hand quilting it, not machine quilting it.

On another note - I want to assure everyone that our hunter is back in business! He left us a trophy on the back steps last night (after he scurried out the door - something he's not allowed to do!). If you're squeamish, skip the following pic. Evidence of Hunter Extraordinare:

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Fairy Godmothers

About 10 years ago, I was just beginning my journey into quilting. I was working on a machine my grandmother had given me (more on that in a later post) on a table I found on the side of the road. It worked wonderfully, but had no storage.

So, one day at work - I was temping at a banking center - the older woman sitting next to me began complaining about how cluttered her house was. She started listing some things - and when she mentioned owning 6 sewing cabinets - I really started paying attention! She said she had inherited some of the cabinets, and bought others. Her latest one was currently living in her kitchen because there was no more room anywhere else!

I told her how I was getting into quilting and how I would love to have a sewing cabinet - would she be interested in selling one of them? She said she'd bring one in to work for me. I wasn't sure what I was in for, but I was hopeful.

A couple of days later, she told me she had my sewing cabinet in her minivan. I thought it would be one of those smallish ones on legs with fold-out tops. This is what she had for me:

It was beautiful! There are some dings on the top and edges, but it is very solid. And - she wouldn't take anything for it! She wanted to give it to me. I was speechless.
I made arrangements for DH to meet me at work to help unload it. It was heavy! But, we finally got it home and up the two flights of stairs to the apartment we lived in then. When I got it settled in the corner of our bedroom and started really exploring it, I realized it had a sewing machine in it!

This is the condition it was in when I got it, I haven't gotten around to getting it cleaned yet (and it's been 10 years - wow). One of the drawers contained all of this:

Bobbins and oil can....

Buttonhole attachment.....

Lots and lots of cams and feet.....

And I think this is my favorite thing - a stocking darner. I have never seen one of these things before, but the instruction booklet shows you step by step how to use it. From putting the stocking on the darner to how to stitch the repair on the machine. Very unique!

I really should have the machine tuned and cleaned. It would be nice to have a cabinet machine that can be put away when I'm done working.

So, in closing, yes, there still are fairy godmothers out there - doing good where they can. I like to think this woman has inspired me to be the same way. If you ask DH - maybe I do it a little too often! Oh well, passing along good things and being charitable can't happen often enough, in my opinion.

And tell me if any of you have had a fairy godmother in your life. I'd love to hear your stories.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Happy Birthday Honey!!

DH turns 35 today. We had 18 people to the house to help us celebrate. We cooked them steak, corn on the cob and lots of different salads. As well as the required cake and ice cream! I think a good time was had by all, especially DH :)

Here he is getting ready to grill those steaks....mmmmmm.....

Thursday, August 6, 2009

What Hunter?

Remember this guy from my last post?

Remember I claimed him to be a Great Hunter of all things buggy in our home? Yeah. Well. He's not doing so well lately. You see, we discovered a bat in our house yesterday. A bat that I had suspicions of being in our house for the previous 2 days, but could find no evidence of.

I kept getting woken up in the middle of the night for the previous 2 nights when a cat would jump on our bed and do that bouncy thing they do when they're tracking something flying around above their heads. But whenever I would look for evidence of a bat, I would find nothing. You may wonder why that was my first inclination. Well, every year since we've moved into this house (8 years ago), we've had a bat at some point in the summer - sometimes more than one. So, it's become a routine for us....unfortunately.

Ok, back to the Great Hunter. So I'm waking up for 2 nights, looking for bats and finding none. Yesterday afternoon DH comes to me and informs me that he has found a bat hanging in the corner of our kitchen. Goody. So, we go into battle mode and get our big fish net (my weapon of choice) and baseball bat (DH's weapon of choice). After attempting to calm DH down (he has a terrible fear of bats), we finally were able to dispose of said bat.

Where was the Great Hunter (a.k.a. Felix)? He was hiding in the back porch afraid of the fish net!!! And I had just finished talking him up, too!!! I just don't know....

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Green Leaves Everywhere...

I've been busy working on the leaves of the third border this week. They're going quickly, but not as fast as I'd like them to go. I tend to stitch with one color of thread and do all the half leaves I can with that color, all the way down the border. Then I switch to another shade of green and do all the half leaves I can in that color.

For as many different green fabrics as I have in this quilt, I'm finding that 97% of the applique is being accomplished by 4 different green threads...I hope that doesn't mean I don't have enough contrast....I guess we'll see. The pics look pretty good so far, if I do say so myself...

I thought it was time to introduce you to one of the members of my household. This is Felix. He was rescued from my Grandma's farm the summer after she died, so he's about 2 years old now. He had scabs on the pads of all his feet and his nose, and he was missing his front teeth. When we took him to the vet, she said she thought someone had tossed him out of the car on the way by (the road going by the farm is a 55mph road). We adopted him into our home and he has been a holy terror ever since. His only real skill is as a hunter. Notice the little black wasp he has mortally wounded? Yeah, apparently stingers don't bother him. And he's great when our yearly bat decides to wake us up in the middle of the night. Last year's was soooo much easier to get rid of because of Felix's help.

Oh yeah - the black thing he's laying on? It's the doormat he flipped over in his quest to get the wasp. He's such a help around the house....LOL At least he's cute.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

What Not to do with Bleach - or - Fishing or Sewing?

I thought I'd share my collection of sewing boxes I have inherited over the years. Ok, so it's only 2 that I've inherited, but they're special to me, so I want to share them with you.

This is one I received when I was about 13. It belonged to my mother's mother's mother, my Great-Grandma Hesterly. The top is a satin fabric that used to have little blue and yellow flowers with green leaves. It was also very filthy when I came to own it. I tried cleaning it without getting the inner lining wet, but nothing was working. My mom suggested bleach - and me being 13 - I didn't realize I should have at least diluted it. I guess I should be thankful the fabric has stayed intact after all that.

I don't remember if anything came inside it, but I use it to store my vintage threads now.

I received the next one almost 2 years ago. It belonged to my mother's mother, my Grandma Nielsen. When she died from pancreatic cancer near Thanksgiving of 2007, this is one of the things I asked to have.

I have very fond memories of this box always sitting on the floor next to Grandma's recliner in the living room. She didn't do any quilting, but she was always mending something - Grandpa's shirts, patching my jeans, even darning socks! She was famous for replacing the elastic waists in her slacks, so they wouldn't "fit so tight." This also explains why there was so much elastic in the box when I inherited it.

Inside the box, besides the elastic, were all these wonderful little things I don't really use much, like little bits of chalk, a disk magnifier, containers of buttons, packets and packets of needles (all different sizes).

My favorite thing that was in there are her dressmakers scissors. She used that one pair of scissors for everything from cutting out patterns for clothes to snipping threads when sewing on a button. They aren't very sharp - and as soon as I find a sharpener I trust, I'll remedy that.

Grandma's sewing box also had this wonderful tomato pincushion that was bristling with pins and needles. I have a lot of great memories of that, as well, but my Aunt Jean asked for that part of the box - and since she got first dibs, it lives with her now.

I'm having trouble moving this box into my working tools - for now, I've cleaned out all the things I knew wouldn't last (i.e. all that elastic) and it is now living in the closet - waiting for the day I can bring it out in the open again.