Thursday, December 16, 2010

I realize I haven't been posting very much lately. Things in the personal world have been a little crazy for me lately, and I seem to be going for days without working on any of my projects. Thankfully, the personal world has settled down a bit and I've been able to focus on the Christmas season.

DH and I have become friendly with a couple of new neighbors that moved into our neighborhood this past fall. One is a stay at home mom with 2 little ones and a husband that works away from home all week. The other is a young couple that are seriously into horses.

We've had the young couple over for dinner a couple of times, as well as gone out to their parent's farm to watch them train their horses. I'm really considering taking riding lessons. I've loved horses since I was a teenager (what teenage girl doesn't love horses?) but have never had the opportunity to be near them. There is even the possibility of my being able to work on the farm to pay for the lessons. How awesome - considering I don't have a job yet! I've been putting it off a little bit, as I'm learning that I'm very nervous around the huge beasts. I'm used to Pips and our 4 kitties....if they step on you or kick you, it's not a big deal! The plan is for me to continue to go out there with our new friends and get comfortable with the horses, then start working sometime in the spring or summer. And then the riding lessons start :) Yay!!

Ok, I should make this stitching related in some way...I've told you that I've been trying to teach myself how to knit while I'm on this work 'vacation'....I think I'm doing pretty well :) I found a pattern for a circular afghan in a book in the library - One skein Wonders, I think - and thought it would make a lovely tree skirt. Only problem was, I had never used dpn's. I didn't even own any. So, I haunted Etsy for a couple of days, coerced DH into letting me buy a set and waited for them to show up in the mail. When they finally did, I took off. And ripped it out. And started again. And ripped it out. And started again. This is how far I've gotten on the third attempt.

I'm a little further along in the pattern than this picture shows now - and things are going along much smoother than they did in the beginning. This has actually become my go-to project when I'm watching something on TV that DH likes and I don't....I don't think it'll be finished before this year's season is over, but I'm pretty sure I'll have it done before winter is over. My only concern now is if the circular needles are long enough. I'm starting to cram stitches around it and I'm only at the half-way point...eek!

Another thing I made recently is a new pincushion. I like these little cushions for use when I'm stitching in front of the TV. They work great when I'm working on my english paper piecing projects. I gave away my last one to a young girl that wanted to learn how to sew at our quilt bee last month, so I spent a couple of evenings getting a new one made up for me. This one is about twice as big as my last one, but I like that size - you can't lose it down the side of the chair when it's bigger!

The front...

The back...

The last thing I wanted to show you is this little working wall I put together a couple of months ago. I've got a large design wall that takes up an entire wall in my sewing room, but I wanted a small one near my sewing machine, somehow I thought that would be more convenient.

DH had some odd insulation bits in the garage, so I absconded with one about the size I wanted and took it upstairs. I wrapped it in a piece of fabric I had and pinned the edges down. Then I took a few pieces of heavy duty double-sided tape and stuck it to the wall. It's working out pretty well!

And here you can see it in my sewing corner. It's pretty convenient.

Again, I'm sorry I've been so absent lately. I'm hoping things will settle down with the new year and get more normal. We'll see...

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Halloween Quilt closeups

I was reminded that I haven't posted here recently, so I thought I'd show you some closeups of the Halloween quilt I've been working on. It's still in the quilting stage, but it's getting there..

Here is a closeup of the mitered border - not too shabby...

Below are shots of the embroidered blocks in the quilt...

I've been spending a lot of time knitting on the afghan, lately, too. No pics of that yet... The snow is supposed to arrive tomorrow, so the time to snuggle up and get to work on a project is definitely arrived!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

A Quick Update

We've been dealing with a lot of wind the last few days. The good news is we no longer have any leaves in our yard and our trees are leafless, so no more falling in the yard. The bad news is we had a couple of shingles fly off the kitchen roof yesterday. Thank God I have handy cousins that don't mind coming over to help us. DH and I are deathly afraid of heights. I swear if we ever buy another house, it will have to be a one story.

I've been working on the quilting of my Halloween quilt for the last couple of weeks. I don't think it will be finished with the binding on it by Sunday night, but I can at least hang it in the hallway for the day and finish it after the holiday. I'll show you how it looks when I get it done.

Everyone is coming over for trick or treating on Sunday. We're having a spaghetti dinner to give everyone the strength to make it through the evening. After dinner, DSis and DBiL are taking Nephew #1 out for his first real trick or treating excursion. Mom and Nephew #2 are staying with DH and I to hand out candy to the 300 kids we usually see each year. We go through a lot of candy!!! And there usually aren't any leftovers :( Not that I need to eat them - LOL

One last thing I want to share. I found this video on Deb's blog and fell in love! This kid is amazing!!! Enjoy :)

Friday, October 15, 2010

The Halloween Quilt

I got the borders on the Halloween Quilt yesterday! It's my first attempt at mitered borders, as well as a striped border. Other than that one corner, I think I did pretty well. I'm happy with it, at least :)

I went digging through my batting cubbyhole for a piece that would be big enough to get this basted together, figuring I would need to piece a couple of pieces together to get one large enough. Not only did I find a piece of poly batt that will be big enough, but I found a complete queen-sized wool batt in there! I swear I used the last complete batt on DNephew's quilt this you think they reproduce when we're not looking?

I got lucky at Goodwill this week and found another Mexican vase that I liked. It's got the same design on the front and the back, and is very bumpy in texture around the sides. I think it goes nicely with the other vase and the lamp I got at Shipshewana this summer.

Last weekend, DH and I took my mother for a color tour to Cadillac. There wasn't as much color on the trees as we had hoped, but we had a good time. We had lunch in town, stopped at an Amish cheese shop, checked out Goodwill and Salvation Army and headed home. On the way home we spotted these in the distance, so we decided to travel a couple of dirt roads to get closer. DH snapped this picture to get an idea of the size of them - the wind turbine is in the field behind the house...I swear these things are like 500 feet tall. There were about 12 of them in a row through the fields. They made almost no noise, and were so peaceful....I don't understand why everyone around here is fighting having these things put in....It's like having a huge giant silently standing guard over you.....of course if you're paranoid about guarding giants, I guess I can understand...

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Project Updates..

First off - I'm sorry the photos today are so blurry. I'm not sure what's going on, other than I was the one taking the photo - DH does such a better job of this than I do.

I have been spending most of my time lately on the Halloween Quilt. I've managed to get all the center blocks embroidered and cut down to size. I just need to assemble them together now. Then it's deciding what to do with the border...I've got 3 or 4 options and am just letting things ruminate for now. I'm still hoping to have this on the wall for Halloween - but it may just be a top...we'll see.

This next picture is of a pineapple block I made this week. You may recognize the fabrics as those being used in the Log Cabin quilt I posted about earlier. Well, as I was working on those log cabin blocks, it became painfully apparent that I could not get 2 blocks to come out the same size. They varied from 12" to 12 1/2"...and I'm too much of a perfectionist for that to be acceptable. So, I had to come up with a different plan.

That's when I remembered these paper piecing patterns I had floating around my sewing room for a pineapple quilt I had wanted to make. It kept getting put on the back burner, but I still had these patterns done up. And then it hit me. The strips I had cut for the log cabin quilt would work perfectly in the pineapple blocks! So, I did a quick block this week to see how things worked out. Other than the very outer corner pieces, I think this is very good! And I get the accuracy I prefer using this method, as well. So, I do believe the Log Cabin Quilt will stop at 8 blocks (I'll figure out what to do with those some other day - maybe the back of the Pineapple Quilt?) and the Pineapple Quilt was begun :) I'm happy with the decision.

This last pic is Teresa Wentzler's Unicorn. I'm at the half-way point on it and decided it was time to snap a picture - blurry though it is. I'm leaving the unicorn for last, as an incentive to finish the design. I have a tendency to put things down and move on to other projects, you know. I'm now working on the upper right-hand side of the pattern, where the house is. I'm hoping that the greens in the lower right-hand section won't feel as tedious if they are closer to the end of the project. We'll see how that logic works out.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Quilt Show 2010

The West Michigan Quilt Guild did their bi-annual show this weekend and DH and I were lucky enough to make it this year. It's a large guild of 400 members, and they usually put on a very good show.

This year there were about as many vendors as there were quilts - at least it felt that way. There were roughly 3 rows of quilts, and the vendors surrounded the quilt room, and there were a lot of them! I managed to find a few FQs that needed to come home with me. And I spent a lot of time in the booth the guild was using as their yard sale - FQ for $0.50!! I had a hard time keeping it reasonable, there were a lot of older gems in those bins. DH was incredibly patient with me - so much so that one of the other women in the booth with us commented on how well he was behaving! LOL

DH was also my photographer for the day. Basically, I got to wander the show and point to the quilt I wanted a picture of. He then fought the crowds to get the perfect shot. He was a real trooper yesterday :)

My favorite quilt of the show was this gorgeous red and green Dear Jane quilt. It was made by a woman named Jan, so she called it Dear Jan. I love how she changed the border triangles into applique, rather than doing the piecework.

There were a few Japanese quilts in this show, and you know those are always amazing to look at. This was my favorite of that group. It just looks so complicated! I don't recognize the block pattern she used, either.

This is a lovely Baltimore Album quilt. The colors were very bright - which caught my eye. It got a ribbon, too. Next to it is a star quilt that I really liked the center of - close-up in next pic.

This is the center of the star quilt in the above picture. I really like it. It looks familiar to me - maybe I've seen it in an Australian magazine somewhere??

I loved the border on this quilt. When I got closer to the quilt, I realized that each hexagon was quilted in a spiral pattern - neat! I asked DH to get close-ups of the quilting for me to reference later.

We had a very good time at the quilt show. We followed it with dinner out and then home. We spent a nice evening snuggling on the couch with a bowl of popcorn watching The Blind Side. It is a very good movie - much better than I expected it to be.

Friday I got a flat tire on the car, and after taking it to the shop, realized I needed to replace not only the flat, but a second tire to keep things even - all my tires are very very bald. $200 later and it suddenly became apparent that I don't think we'll be able to make it down to my brother's for his wedding over New Year's :( I'm very bummed about this...But unless I'm able to find a job soon, I just don't see how we're going to be able to afford the trip.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

A few projects to show you...

First of all, in the spirit of Kim and her Thrifty Thursday posts, I had to share with you a couple of finds I've had recently in our local Goodwilly.

The first find was this Ott Lite, complete with a magnifier attachment. The price tag on it was $3.99 - and it worked! I didn't even have to buy a light bulb for it!! Whoa....

My next find was this quilt rack. DH sanded it down and re-stained it for me, and it is now hanging in our entryway hall. It was only $2.99!

To say I was thrilled with these 2 finds is an understatement. I love finding things I know I will use for very little money...and things I can love, too - well, that's just icing on the cake :)

Now to share with you some things I've been working on lately. Below is a shot of my design wall today. I've got three quilts on it currently. Can you name them? LOL

The first one I'll show you is the Halloween quilt that has taken my fancy. I started this quilt on 9-25-10, and this is how far I've gotten so far. All of the blocks on the top row are embroidered...and I'm working on the second row. I'm averaging 2-3 blocks per day, so it shouldn't take me too long.

I think this is my favorite block of the quilt. I love the embroidery pattern and I really like the fabric. I wish I knew the manufacturer, but I only bought fat quarters and none of them have the info on the selvage.

The next quilt I'm showing you is the Deflt Tile quilt. It's hard to see in this photo, but these are the blocks I've traced the pattern onto and basted to the green fabric behind the muslin. Looks like I'm at 11 blocks so far (I didn't know until I counted the blocks in the picture - LOL).

The last quilt I've been fiddling with lately is a log cabin quilt I started for my brother's first wedding - about 6 years ago. I have a total of 7 blocks done. I think I need 25 for the size quilt I want - queen-sized. Well, now my brother has divorced his first wife and is now planning a January 1 wedding with his fiance. Maybe I'll get it done for that? I don't know. If I do, I won't be telling them when I started it!!

This shot is the far left side of my design wall. I like to keep things that inspire me or make me smile within sight and my stitching chair is right next to this section of the wall. I've got a lot of things on here....The paper fan I got from my grandmother when she died - she bought it in Hawaii the only time her and grandpa went there. The first 2 cross stitch items I ever stitched and gave to my grandma - again got back when she died. A handkerchief from grandma. A scarf my mom crocheted for DH and he decided he didn't want it anymore, so I tacked it on the design wall. Two blocks I hand pieced from the Quilted Diamonds book - they aren't the same size, so I'm ruminating about what to do with them. My calendar, a couple of applique pieces waiting to be incorporated into a quilt label, a shot DH took of my stitching, a broach from my grandma, a twilled sunflower I like (but didn't make), and a note from my kitty that DH helped him write and put in my lunchbox one day last winter.

The photo at the very bottom is one of my favorites. It's from 1994 and it's of my mom and me working on our projects. She's nearly finished with an afghan she's crocheting and I'm working on some cross-stitch project....I have no idea which one. I don't know why Mom's not smiling, maybe she didn't want her photo taken? Anyway, it reminds me of happy times spent with my family.

Monday, September 27, 2010

My Baby has to go to the Doctor

My sewing machine baby, that is! This is the machine that I inherited from my grandmother. It was given to her when she got married in the '40's and it is a workhorse. I learned how to sew on it and it only does a straight stitch. It's one of those machines that the manual says never needs to be oiled. Hmm....not sure about that. Of course, in the 15 years I've owned it, I've never oiled it, so maybe there is something to that - I don't know.

Anyway, I bought a new Singer a couple of years ago and was instantly enamored of it, so the Kenmore went into retirement in the cupboard. It wasn't a computerized machine, but the Singer could do all kinds of different stitches and had a walking foot!

Because I am a sporadic machine user, it took me a couple of years to discover the thing that made me decide to switch back. The Singer's feed dogs were a LOT farther apart than what I was used to on the Kenmore. I didn't think it was such a big deal until I noticed I wasn't getting the accuracy I was used to with the, the two machines switched, the Kenmore came out of retirement and the Singer went to live in the cupboard.

Unfortunately, I learned that this particular cupboard isn't insulated, and the Kenmore had a squeak when it first started working. However, this disappeared within 10 seconds, so I wasn't too concerned. Then, yesterday, while I was in the throes of my Halloween quilt, the foot pedal started to stick! I'd take my foot off it and it would keep sewing! Ack!

I asked DH if he would put some WD40 in the pedal for me - which he did...and then it wouldn't sew at all :( So now I have to take it in to be serviced and I don't know any of the servicemen's reputations around here. I know of at least two different service shops near me, but don't know anything about them. I'm leary of giving them my baby, since this particular machine means a lot to me....Guess I'm off to make a few phone calls!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

What I've Been Up To...

I've been working on a new project this weekend that has taken me by storm. It's a Halloween wallhanging and I can't stop working on it.

I got all the fabrics cut yesterday. Today I spent the morning getting the embroidery designs traced onto the fabrics and the stitching was started tonight. I found the pattern in the lastest issue of the magazine that spotlights 10 quilt shops a couple times each year (of course the name of the magazine is escaping me right now). Anyway, I fell in love with the pattern and started pulling all the Halloween fabric I owned out of my stash. I have a lot of it!! I didn't have to buy a single piece of fabric for this quilt, including the back!! I'll get a picture of it soon.

Meanwhile, I'll leave you with this - Felix Butt. I finally got a quilt hanging off the quilt hanger DH made me this summer, and Felix has convinced himself that if he sits like this, nobody can see him. No amount of me telling him that we can all see him seems to make him think otherwise. Oh well :)

The quilt was made by my mother's mother's father's mother, Viola Hesterly. Did you get that? Basically, my grandma's paternal grandmother made it for her when she got married in 1940. It's a basic log cabin, it's tied and has a knife edge treatment on it. It fits a double bed and is very warm. I think she liked pink!

Friday, September 24, 2010

A Thank You Card

I did a good deed this week. Well, my neighbor and I did a good deed this week. Ok, DH helped out, too...

We all helped rescue a lost dog that wandered onto our street during a 2-day power outage. See, here's the story.

On Tuesday night, we had a powerful thunderstorm system go through our area and a lot of people lost power, us included. So, we found the battery-operated alarm clock and hunkered down for the night. I got DH off to work, and attempted to solve all of the world's problems that crept up during the day. Boy, were there a lot of them! Because of that, DH decided he needed to leave work 2 hours earlier than usual. So, at 3:30 on Wednesday, we see this black lab stroll across the street to our house. I never let a lone dog go without trying to get a look at his tags, so I went over to him and introduced myself. He was more than happy to settle down for a chat. We got him on a leash and atttached to the front porch with a bowl of water and he was a pretty happy fella.

However, the only tag he had on his collar was the city rabies tag. When we tried to call them to have them cross-reference their number to give us the owner's name, we learned that the city phone system was down...So, we hunkered down for the evening, and hoped his owners would drive by and recognize him. I even took him for a walk telling him to show me "home". He didn't do very well at that...

DH was refusing to let the dog in the house (which I guess I don't blame him for), so we were planning to get him settled down on the front porch, when The Insane Gardener decided it was supposed to rain again Wednesday night. Okaaaayy...well, she offered to let him in her house for the evening, so that's what we did. He was an awesome guy with her cats - even though they didn't like him very well. He didn't chase them or bark at them or anything. And, we were still without power.

So, Thursday, The Insane Gardener brought him back before she left for work for me to take care of for the day. We tried the city one more time, since our power had come back on in the middle of the night, but had disappeared again by the time we woke up. Lo and behold! The city had power! They very nicely told us who the dog was - Toby - and who his owners were. Ten minutes later there was a tear-filled reunion :D

I learned that their little boy must have let him out accidentally when he took one of their other dogs for a walk. And their little girl was just convinced that Toby had been hit by a car. I'm so glad we were able to keep him safe for them. I mentioned they might want to get a tag with their info on it in case this happens again - they agreed readily to that idea.

Well, I move on with my day, and after school lets out, the little boy comes over with a Thank You card for The Insane Gardener and us! It was just too sweet.
And in case you can't read what the note says, here you go...
"thank you so much for takeing care of toby. and for feeding him, and peting him. thank you for takeing him in. aydan"
How sweet!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Some Work in Progress.

I figured it was time to show you a couple of projects I've been spending my time on this week. The first one is my tiny hexagon quilt. Again, the quilt isn't tiny, the hexagons are. The quilt will be queen-sized when I'm finished with it. The photo below shows the entire bottom border and the full width of the quilt.

As you can see, it will be a nice large quilt. Here is a close-up shot of the fabrics I'm using in the border.

I added this picture so you could see the scale of the piece. The scissors are Ginghers with the large finger holes. Everytime I show this project to someone new they call me crazy. You don't think I'm crazy, do you?

Here's what it looks like next to my chair in the living room right now. The basket holds everything nice and tidy. I'm using a pencil case to hold all the loose hexagons. The freezer paper forms go into the Altoids tin when I pull them out. That just leaves my pincushion, thimble and thread. It's a very portable project.

I'm working the quilt in rows right now. I've got the design I'm following all drawn out on graph paper, and it's basically just follow the chart to get the pattern to work out. It's very mindless, relaxing work, which is just the thing sometimes.

The other project I've been spending most of my time on this week has been Teresa Wentzler's Unicorn. I've gotten more than 1/4 of the design finished and I started it on 8/23/10. This is amazingly fast for me. If you look closely, you can see the shadow of the unicorn standing between the trees.

And just so you don't think I'm getting lonely while I stitch away at my unicorn, here's a picture of the new futon we got this week. I threw an old quilt over it so we could allow the animals to sleep on it. The plan is this futon will be where the nephews sleep when they get old enough to spend the night at our house. But since Kendrick has really bad allergies to our animals, we have to protect the mattress from the dander or he might have an allergy attack when he sleeps on it. Anyway, the quilt fit the bill perfectly. Mom found this at a yard sale a couple of years ago and decided she didn't like it anymore - I snatched it up very quickly when I heard that!

That's Felix on the left, Boots in the center, and that ball of black on the right? That's Nika. They work very hard at keeping me company all day while DH is working :)

Big Boy Quilt was a Success!

I delivered Kendrick's Big Boy Quilt to him yesterday just before naptime. He loved it! After he had given me my welcoming hugs and kisses and sweet smiles, sat on my lap and told me his stories for the day, I told him he had a present from me. I sat him down on the couch next to his mommy and held up the quilt. His eyes lit up and he grinned from ear to ear. He pointed at it and said "my blankie". Enough to make an aunt's heart melt, I tell you :)

I showed him the label, which I had traced a dragon onto the bottom of, and after I told him what it was, he turned to his mommy and said "dis is MY dragon!" LOL

He carried it around with him for the rest of the time we were there. I do believe this quilt gift was a big success :)

Friday, September 3, 2010

I Promised Pictures

And here they are!

This is Kendrick's Big Boy Quilt. I finished this about a month ago and just can't get motivated to get the label on it. I think it turned out pretty well.
Here is a close-up of the quilting. As you can see, I used a variegated blue thread and did a simple cross-hatch design over the whole quilt. I did outline the half dresdens at the top, though. I have decided that machine quilting is not for me. The nieces and nephews will get it for their little kid quilts, but as soon as they're old enough to respect them, I'll be switching to hand-quilted ones for them, too. Just too much angst involved in the machine quilting for me.

And what is this stack of muslin you might ask? Well, it's 388 6-inch blocks, to be exact! I've gotten all the muslin blocks for my version of the Delft Tile Quilt all cut and ready to have the patterns traced on them. Wow, that's quite a stack!

Here's another little thing I did this summer. I saw it on another blog and thought it was a great idea, so spent an evening painting my wooden needle tubes. I only had three. I think they're really cute :)

And last, but not least, DH and I spent a lot of time this summer growing a little garden. We don't have a lot of real estate on our property, so we needed to keep the garden small - it's about 4 ft X 8 ft. We have rabbits so DH made this little fence for it. It was pretty effective, too! We grew sweet corn, string beans, carrots and beets. I wanted to pickle the beets, but there weren't enough :( The carrots we gave to our neighbor. The corn came out mushy - we don't know if it was overripe when we picked it, if it didn't get enough water throughout the summer, or if it got too much water. We'll try again next year. The beans were a big success, though. Oh! And I planted 4 tomato plants in containers. Those have been doing great, too.