Saturday, May 30, 2009

Sweet Tea and Lemonade

That's the name of a Charlotte Angotti kit I picked up a few years ago. I bought it intending to make it into a full size bed quilt for my bed as the background almost matched the color of my walls. It did not turn out that way as there are a couple of home truths I forgot in my ambitous planning. For instance, if you buy a twin size quilt kit, first offerd many years ago, you will be unable to find enough matching current fabrics to stretch the twin to a queen size quilt. Another truth is that you should really, really like the blocks you will be making to do a queen size quilt. I could not find enough curent fabrics to stretch it to queen size and, after only six blocks, I hated making the blocks.

It is now hanging on my bedroom wall where every day it reminds me of these home truths. Here is how it came out:
Why only the top half? Well, there is a huge wrinkle on the top of the quilt from my quilting. The weird thing is that most wrinkles from quilting come on the back of the quilt. Trust me to find a new way to wreck an otherwise acceptable quilt. Here is the bottom half:
See that wrinkle? It makes the whole quilt hang a little crookedly but, be assured, that the rod is hanging straight as Paul did it. Here is the whole picture I see every day:
One thing I do notice now that it is done is that lower left hand basket does not stand out from the back ground as I thought it would.
Lessons learned:
  • current fabrics do not match older fabrics
  • you must like making the blocks before making tons of them
  • you can wrinkle the top of a quilt when quilting
  • value really does count when using pastels

I hope your weekend is going well. Personally I am working on a project that may never make it into this blog and trying to complete all the finishing touches for a sweater I started last fall but completed knitting just this morning. Now that it is regularly in the nineties here my attempts at gardening have been curtailed until I get used to the new norm. Have a great weekend!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

An Ode to Bug Spray

An Ode to Bug Spray
I love my can of bug spray,
It stops those nasty bugs,
It makes our walks most droll and gay,
Unless its those tricky bugs who find the one square inch on the back of your neck that is unprotected and you end up scratching and looking like a mad woman all day.
So it doesn't scan - shoot me... please!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Laughable Feathers

I love the quilting pattern called feathers. They are so delicate and fill the spaces on qults quite beautifully. A teacher came through here a while ago and spent two days teaching others how to machine quilt feather designs. Here is a link to some beautiful examples.

As you can see the designs are versatile and look great on plain fabrics where the designs really show thorugh.

I decided to practice some free form feathers on a quilt I made a couple of weeks ago. This was a Charlotte Angotti kit I had hanging out here for a few years with a couple of blocks completed and nothing else done.

Don't my feathers look great!

What? You say you can't see the feathers? How about this shot?

Be glad that the densely patterned and pieced quilt top does not allow the feathers to show because most of them were awful. I did get a lot of practiceand feel confident I can actually quilt feathers the next time the spirit moves me.

Lesson learned: If you want to practice a particular quilting design on a finished quilt top, try it out on a heavily pattern fabric area or heavily pieced area until you are confident you can do the quilting pattern. You'll get lots of practice, a quilt top will get quilted and no-one will laugh at your feathers.

What to do with....

Doll size quilts obtained thorugh on-line swaps?

That has been a problem for me for quite some time. These wonderful little pieces of art really deserve to be seen. I was displaying one or two at a time on a table top but that left the majority lanquishing in a drawer until I remembered to switch them out.

I think I came up with a solution for about six of them...
Paul hung two light weight curtain rods above my cutting/ironing table so I can see these every time I use the table and, maybe, get some inspiration for a new project.

The rest do not have rod pockets, just corner pockets and those I intend to hang on the opposite wall... but that will wait for another day.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Schlepp Bag Redux

A couple of months ago I worked with a bunch of fellow quilters on a Saturday making Schlepp Bags and the 22 square bag. (if you don't remember, here is the post.) I love this bag and I am now working on making several for the Knitting Clib kids to carry their bigger projects and to take home supplies for the summer. One of the participants has taken the Schlepp Bag concept to a whole new level. Not only has she make one for herself, she also made one for her sister, one for her sister's daughter-in-law and for her sister's two year-old grand-daughter.

Are they not wonderful!

Thanks to the incredble Miss Joyce for sharing this picture with me ... I think I created a monster!

The other bag we worked on, made out of 22 squares of fabric, has become a bit of a celebrity as well. Not through any help from me, one of the Houston quilt guilds is offering a class on it later this summer. I heard about it at an Idea Saturday session at Sunfower Quilts last weekend and was a little shocked when one of the attendees presented her bag without attribution to the original magazine article or to anyone who had popularised it locally. I guess I should not be surprised, maybe she didn't know the origin of the bag, but I do fault the teacher for not giving credit where credit is due. Judy, even if others don't know it, I credit you with bringing us this wonderful bag from the Australian Patchwork magazine.

Now to get ready for the long Memorial Day Weekend. I am planning on piecing a quilt top that I purchased at the American Sewing Guild garage sale back in February and making knitting bags for the kids. I might just finish the yard work I have been doing for the past fews weeks and, if I can find where Alex hid the camera, I will post pictures of the results of all my hard work.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009


Eat crackers in bed.

Chocolate chip cookies are not good either.

And definitely cutting your toe nails in bed is a no-no.

Today I added another thing to that list... don't lie down on your bed after applying six bags of mulch to the garden.

Enough said?

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Women on a Mission

Last year I heard about a project by two members of the Houston Chapter of the American Sewing Guild. These two women were making knit caps for local cancer patients. They packaged them three to a bag with a decorative pin. Together, with a little help from the Kingwood neighborhood group, they made well over a hundred of these caps last spring for which the patients were very grafeul.

In order to continue their great work, I was given almost one hundred and fifty (150!) yards of various knits to make up caps this year. These knits were bought at clearance tables, found in stashes and generally were provided without huge cash expenditures. Over the past couple of months about six of us, primarily members of the Kingwood Area Quilt Guild, were able to make over 200 caps. We have already given out about sixty of them and I am busily packaging up the rest to give out over the next few months.

This is a great but simple project you can either use your serger or sewing machine to make them up. These caps can make a real impact on the lives of those who are losing, or have lost, their hair due to chemotherapy. The pattern we have been using is from Nancy's Notions Creative Kindness line and can be accessed for free here.

If you take on this project there are a couple of things we have learned. T-shirt quality double stretch cottons knits are really the best. Many polyester based knits either stretch only a little or way too much. Thermal cottons also work well but seem to easily stretch out of shape. Velour however is positively fabulous to work with and feels good on a naked head. We worked with a huge variety of knits but cut them all to the same size and ended up with about six different sizes from teeny tiny to extra, extra large. A variety of sizes is a good thing but I wish our results had not been so unplanned.

Anyway, I hope this project is something we can take on every year as the need will never really diminsh. I already have a lot of knits left over from this year's sewing frenzy to give us a good start. Once I get all the ones we have made distributed I will start bugging/begging for more knits for next next year as well as finding a source for decorative pins. JoAnn's and Tuesday Morning both had huge amounts of pretty pins for about a dollar each earlier this year but I think we have cleared out all of the ones in Houston so I will be on the hunt for other sources. Fortunately one of our workers is a great shopper and I hope she can point us to more sources.

I find this project so typical of women when faced with a medical crisis. We can go through all the emotional stuff that goes with a potentially life threatening illness but then we sit down and try to make the journey more pleasant.

Women on this mission included Janetta, Lish, Marjory, Fonda, Margo, Mary Jane and me and many, many others who either directly or indirectly contributed pins, fabric and zip lock bags. I especially want to thank the Houston Chapter of the American Sewing Guild for contributing many, many yards of fabric from their storage locker to give this project a big boost.

I am now off to hunker down and hope that the big storms headed this way leave the power on long enough for me to get a quilt quilted.

Friday, May 15, 2009

He Stands on Guard

Alex stands on guard day and night to protect his source of food - ME! While I sew upstairs he sits in the window watching out for anyone who might want possibly interupt his food suppy.

Like the school bus barrelling down the street ...

or the young mother jogging with her babies in a stroller ...

or the kids climbing the old magnolia tree across the street.

Yup, Alex protects us from all these deadly threats.

See.. here he is at the window being vigilant:

And what are the girls doing while he works so hard? Asleep in the comfy chair next to the window ... until they think someone is going to intrude into their backyard. Then they are up and out to the back yard to bark at the intruder... like a squirrel, the dog next door or, the worst, some other dog being walked by its owner.

The house and I are very well protected, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

For all this hard work, they each get about half a cup of dog food and a doggy treat once a day.

From each according to their abilities, to each according to their needs.

Have a great weekend!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Carol Doak Class

On Friday I was in an all day class with Carol Doak. Carol's claim to fame is her publication of a zillion paper piecing designs as well is her well organized and methodical way of creating paper pieced blocks. Our area was very lucky to have her here for about two weeks. She gave three lecture/trunk shows and held about six classes. She is a pretty good teacher and was able to adjust her teaching to make complete newbies comfortable as well as more seasoned quilters successful.
The major draw was that Carol has annouced that she is going to be taking some time off and not traveling for a while. I don't know if this means she is retiring from the teaching circuit or that she wants to spend time with her newly retired husband but I do know that you won't go wrong if you catch a class by her. One caveat is that she does do a lot of selling class, but, then again ,she has a lot of information to share that is included in the things she sells.

We worked on a small wall hanging from her 'Mariner's Compass' book. The center piece of the block was the block she calls France. It is made up of eight elements with six peices of fabric in each. Most of the participants used fabrics that reads as solids from pastels and to primary colors. I used pieces from my stash of hand dyed fabrics and this is how it came out:

It needs a border or two and some quilting but I do like the way it came out, albeit a little unconventional. Before I make it up I may spend time coloring some of the pieces a little darker so that the shadows are more clearly defined. Unitl then it will go into my stack of UFO's until I get inpsired.

Have a good week!

Old that's old is new again

Singer has come out with a reproduction, cast iron, crank powered, sewing machine that can be converted into a treade machine, if you have the treadle or can be motorized, for a small up charge. The neatest part is that it costs only $99.00. I heard about if from All Brands and here is the link. This is not somthing I would buy but I do have an old electric machine with a smashed Bentwood case and I see they also sell replacements for those as well.

How neat is that?

Friday, May 8, 2009

Oh, the weather outside is...

in the nineties with no clouds and high humdity!

What is a girl to do?

Knit socks of course!

I just finished socks number two and three in my sock knitting history and I love them!

Pretty cute, right?

Although I won't be wearing them outside for the next few months, I will be wearing them in the house as the tile floors are very cold when the air conditioner is on. The yarn was varigated and made such a great pattern that some people thought I was using multiple colors of yarn rather than just one.

I am so pleased with these I just might start another pair this weekend.

Sock number one, you ask? It was so badly done that it would be better off filled with a roll of quarters and used as a sap than worn on anyone's feet.

Why socks, you ask? My son, many years ago, wanted to knit his own socks so that he could get ones that would fit his short, wide feet. I bought him a bunch of materials and they never got used. Now that I know what I am doing he may get interested in sock knitting again.

How cool is that? A cute thirty year-old Asian man knitting his own socks.

Sometimes life is stranger than fiction.

Have a good weekend!

For Your Consderation

At the Quilt Show there were three vendors that were definitely not your typical quilt show offerings. All three are fairly local and only one has a bricks and motar presence. For your consideration of some unique items you should try:

Focus Glass - Neil Pickthall makes wonderful dichoric glass items from large mirrors and platters all the way down to buttons.... yes ... buttons! I picked up a few buttons but wished I had also spent more time in his booth with the pendants and platters after I saw what others had purchased. I needed to get back to the fish pond so only made a cursory trip and I would be glad to see his stuff in other venues... or I could just go on-line and blow my credit card balance that way! Here's a shot of the buttons I picked up and the picture really doesn't do them justice:
Seditious Seraphim - This was a booth full of crazy stuff... silks and beads and cottons and cords and trims and lots of other stuff. Based in Corpus Christi, the two women in the booth were people I'd love to know. Wearable art is deifnitely their thing and I wish their etsy store and website had just some of the things they were offering at the Quilt Show. I picked up some silk, cords and beads for a very small cost. These bits will probably make it into my next Embellisher project. Taylor Stephens, the owner, taught at the International Quilt Festival last year and I hope she comes back. I think her classes would appeal to anyone who is looking for another creative outlet.

Paula's Primitives - This double booth had everything you coud want for rug hooking with strips of woven wool fabric. Although knitting does not seem to be their bag I did pick up a couple of sets of wonderful knitting needles and had a moment to notice that they had some lovely yarns. Most of their offerings were of wool yardage or kits for rug hooking. They do have a store front in Dayton (just down the road from here) but it is not open on a regular basis. Maybe my knitting buddies and I will need to take a field trip there and see if we can change their minds. It's worth a try to have another source of good yarn available locally.

I don't think Kingwood is unusual to have such diverse vendors at a quilt show. Next time you think about shopping at a quilt show be prepared to find some non-quilting vendors and give them your business. You'll be glad you did!
BTW - thanks to the incomparable Ms M for the selection of these vendors - I am so glad she sought out these people to have at our show. I hope the next vendor chairman will also seek out the unusual and not stick to typical quilting shops. Thanks M!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Oh Joy! Oh Bliss!

The Kingwood Area Quilt Guild bi-annual Quilt Show is over and I have very mixed feelings about it all.

I organized the Fish Pond/Garage Sale part of the show and I keep wondering if there was more I could have done to sell guild cast offs for more money. I think I raised a lot of money... at least $1,500.00 but I can't help but wonder if there was a better way to do it.

I am VERY happy that it is all over. My dining room is empty of all the boxes and bins I had in there full of stuff. In the end about 50 boxes and bins went through this house to the store room and then to the Quilt Show.

The most positive note, besides raising a lot of money, is that I got rid of absolutely everything... right down to the bags we used to for scrap fabrics and for big grab bags. The final small box of scrap fabrics went to one of the charity sewing groups and the last six books came home with me of which only one is something I would not have bought.

I was lucky in that I got a lot of stuff from a past member's stash as it took some of the pressure off the rest of the guild to get me stuff. I don't know if we will ever have that much stuff the next tme we do this.

To make sure we have lots of stuff next time, I am thinking that every guild member could be asked to get a bin that they will use until the next show to gather their old magazines, books, scraps, dead projects and anything else the next Fish Pond chair can sell. Wtih over 100 potential donors that's a lot of stuff to sell off.

So I have been enjoying the joy and bliss of having my life back. I slept all thorugh the morning without once wondering if there was something I should be doing to prepare for the sale.

I do have one regret that it is all over... I no longer have an incredibe stash of reading material avaiable to me on a whim. I guess that is why one of the last things I did before going to set-up the tables of stuff, I went through the house looking for books and magazines that had migrated out of the dining room into the kitchen, the bathrooms and the bedrooms.

I don't miss that enough to volunteer to do it again!