Sunday, April 29, 2007

Spring in Northern Illinois

This is my favorite tree -- a Redbud. My sister-in-law gave me a twig transplant from Southern Illinois about 10 years ago and I've been babying it along every since. It finally started blooming about 3 years ago. The shot was taken from the road towards the house. The lovely telephone company has a buried cable in the area so deemed it necessary to add a rusty sign saying as much!

This weekend I have managed to do a bit of work in the flower beds, finished picking stitches out of my block of the month and put it back on the machine and finished quilting it and even have the binding machine stitched on -- will hand sew down in bits and pieces as the week wears on, and spent two days making the last 21 Heartstrings blocks for the charity quilt. I did manage to get 7 rows sewn together on it, but will probably not get it sewn together completely til next weekend.

This coming week is going to be busy, but not high in accomplishment. House cleaning and errands will take up Monday and Tuesday and the last 3 days of the week will be spent babysitting AJ. I'm going to bring him home with me on Wednesday and take him back home on Friday afternoon, so I don't foresee much in the way of quilting -- but a lot of fun playing with our grandson anyway.

My isp was down all day yesterday and 1/2 the day today -- couldn't get online which was irritating, but forced me to do something constructive instead -- double edged sword probably!
I hope the email problems have been solved as well.
I enjoyed finishing the quilting on the longarm today -- I'm glad I frog stitched the stuff I didn't like.
Fresh, homegrown asparagus -- it's a bit earlier than usual this year, but fabulous nevertheless.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Playing in the Scrap Bins

So far it's 6 blocks by 7 and that's not big enough, so will be adding another row in each direction, and probably two to the length. I looked in a couple of books to see a good "average" twin size and they are all over the map in sizes. We don't have a twin bed in the house, but I would think something around 63 - 67" wide and maybe 81 - 85" long. These quilts will be donated to a very large rescue mission and they requested twin size, but they don't want them too big because they have a storage problem, but at the same time, they need to cover a bed.
I ended up only working on the strings today. I've been working out of one container of scraps, but there's all different sizes mixed in, so I was trying to sort and sew at the same time and it took most of the day. When I finally finished the 14 blocks I did today, I sorted the container into strips and strings, strips that need to be cut smaller, and a couple of piles of fabrics that need to be cut into something -- mostly larger rectangles and squares.
As I was going through magazines again last night, I came across another tumbler quilt. I love scrappy one-piece quilts and even bought the Shar Jorgenson template for the tumbler quilt way back in the early nineties, with all those good intentions of some day making one. Well, today I got the template out (amazing that I actually found it!), had to remove the plastic cover from the plexiglass -- never even had it out before -- and put it on the cutting board. As I was cutting some fabrics for the strings today, I cut some tumbler pieces. I don't want any more than 2 of the same fabric in the quilt, and I want to make a relatively large quilt, so for now I'm just going to be cutting pieces as I work on other projects. When I get enough cut, then I'll start them as a leaders/enders project.

Here's the journal cover I made the other day. I didn't do a great job of centering or allowing enough "give" for the spline, but I'm happy with it just the same. I think my friend will like it. And, I'm definitely hooked on making them. I think it'll be a good project for granddaughter, Briana, 9, to work on this summer at Grandma's house.

And this is the jacket pattern I bought from Lisa Bongean last week at Festival. I like it's simplicity. And all the girls in the booth were wearing one and they looked great.


The weather was beautiful today (even though I spent the entire day inside!)

JR and Pita exchanging chew bones (they play a game -- JR always wants the bone Pita has and Pita always eventually gives it up for the bigger one!)

CD players, digital cameras and computers -- what amazing inventions.

Friday, April 20, 2007

I have a plan

This is just another shot of my daffodils, because I didn't get the camera out to take a picture of what I've been working on today. vbg

I finally updated my resolutions/goals list on the blog and made some decisions on things. I am going to donate the Quilt of Valor, so now I need to get a label on it and find the information I need to send it on its way.
So the plan is to design a couple of labels after I get done here and print them off (I do like the Printed Treasures fabric/paper for printing labels and I use HP's Quilt Label program and make 2 or 3 at a time to print off on one sheet).

I got my block of the month top pinned to the machine today and started quilting it. Our next class is May 12, so I need to finish it before then. I'm playing with feathers and used a feather stencil in the border, but freehand feathers in the setting triangles so far. I wasn't really liking them too well and quit for the day, deciding to think on it for awhile. Made a decision, then came back down tonight and looked at the parts that are finished and decided they really aren't as bad as I thought -- yes, they look like a beginner's freehand feathers, but, hey -- that's what I am. I do think I will mark the setting squares instead of trying to freehand those, though.

After spending a few hours pinning and quilting, I went up and started back on the heartstrings blocks. Finished 12 more, so this week I've actually finished 20 blocks, added to the previous 8, I think I only need about 14 more -- at least I'll put them up on the wall when I get 14 more made and see how that goes. I want these quilts to be twin-sized and I'd like to get this first one finished so I can take it to guild and talk the other members into making blocks too! The charity they've chosen this year wants/needs only 12 twin sized quilts. Seems daunting to most of the members, I think, but if they just make blocks, I'll offer to put them together and quilt them.

I haven't touched my applique at all this week and really want to get to it. I did finish the journal cover (and it was a blast to make -- I will definitely be picking up more wool to make a few more). I did get the pattern I ordered at Quilt Festival last Saturday. It came today -- a jacket pattern designed by Lisa Bongean at Primitive Gatherings. I'm going to have to put it aside for now until I get a few things further along/finished.

My magazine organizing is moving along -- I have two more magazine holders to go through, a very large stack to trim and put in sleeves and then I'll need to re-organize the books a bit. If I remember correctly, I have two notebooks of patterns from magazines that are not in sleeves too -- so will have to go through those to clean out and refile.

All in all -- having a plan to work from will get all these things done in time without too much stress, I think!

Baby Will weighs 1 lb 12 oz as of today. And, he has a "picture perfect" heart!
I watched a robin scoping out a spot on the porch for her nest this morning -- and she was definitely looking at each available option.
A phone call from Steph.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Another UFO finished

This was a quilt I designed and pieced totally from stash/scraps and I really love it. I was even going to write up instructions and publish the pattern, until I decided it would not be real cost effective because the instructions would be so detailed (vbg). I call it Holly because it reminds me of holly with red berries. I quilted large holly leaves on the diagonal lines and a holly and berries border. This is the quilt that has so many seams and intersections that I broke three needles on it and had to re-time the longarm. But it is done and I still like it!

The weather today was glorious - 71° and sunny. And my daffodils made it through the cold snap and slush. The breeze picked up a lot in the late afternoon and it will not be out of the 50's for the next couple of days...but spring is definitely here. The light yellow daffodils in the center of this picture are called "Tom Thumb", I think -- if my memory doesn't once again fail me. They are tiny little perfectly formed daffies and very showy. My hyacinths are blooming now, too, so hope the lilacs made it as well.

I bought a journal cover kit from Country Threads at the Chicago show and started putting it together today. I have the applique on the top finished and just need to make the sleeve to fit the book into. It's been an enjoyable afternoon working on it and I think it'll make a nice gift; plus, now I'm hooked on making journal covers -- which I have resisted doing for months even though Melanie and Laura kept telling us how fun they were to make!


A beautiful day in the country today.

Working with wool

Spending an hour a day quilting -- I'm back to trying to do this every day -- it really is amazing how much you can accomplish in an hour, plus I tend to lose myself in the pure pleasure of creating something and an afternoon has passed in minutes it seems.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

I've been shopping!

My non-quilting friend and I had a wonderful girls day out -- we went to the International Quilt Festival in Chicago (Rosemont). She drove (I dislike driving in Chicago traffic when I don't know where I'm going -- however I did drive two years ago with no problems!). Anyway, we had a ball. Met Lynne Hagmeier of Kansas Troubles Quilters -- so nice and personable. Saw Alex Anderson -- but each time she was surrounded by autograph seekers. Saw Billie Lauder -- she was in the back of a booth sitting down, so didn't go back. The girls from Country Threads were there and I met and bought a pattern from Lori Smith (from my heart to your hands fame). Stopped at the Primitive Gatherings booth ( Lisa Bongean) and bought some floss for the bom of hers I'm doing -- she had 3 of the blocks hanging in the booth -- loved them. Also ordered a jacket pattern than her employees were wearing -- just what I've been looking for, so that should arrive next week. And this is the rest of the stuff: a fq bundle of 30's fabrics because I want to make another Baby Rails with Attitude quilt -- loved the first one I did. A kit to make a wool journal cover from Country Threads, a Kansas Troubles Quarterly newsletter with 4 fqs (one of my lqs offered her newsletter one year with fqs, but then the next year they changed to their own format and I prefer KT -- so will probably do it again mail order -- I love her patterns and her fabrics). A punch needle pattern and another simple door hanging pattern. Not too bad! Deb bought a punch needle, pattern and a book by Emilie Richards -- which we can't seem to find around here -- read the Endless Chain and haven't found any of her other ones until today.
We walked across the street to dine at Gibsons for lunch -- what a fabulous restaurant. On Saturdays, the menu is the dinner menu, but they accomodate any size meal you want. I had the Alaskan Crab salad -- regular dinner sized salad and it was wonderful. Deb had a "Chopped Garbage Salad" and the waiter said she only wanted 1/2 size and he was right -- it was wonderful and quite enough food. She said the coffee was excellent. For dessert, we ordered a Chocolate Mousse Pie, to split with two forks! He literally brought out a sky-high half pie. We each had a slice, boxed the rest, split it at home, I had another slice with dinner and there is still enough for 4 people! Honest. And it was soooooooooooo decadent! I would recommend this restaurant to anyone. (I really wanted to order the "Colossal Australian Lobster" for $114.95, or with Turf, $149.95). Deb's husband was there for lunch during the week and it was quite reasonable - $8 for a burger or whatever he had. It was still worth the price today. And the service was impeccable.
Deb is my best, and oldest friend -- so much fun to spend time with and she drives the Chicago traffic for me!
A totally quilty immersion day -- need I say more?

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

It's just another day

I have no pictures today -- oh, I have pictures on the laptop that I took last week when the daffies were blooming, but today -- we have slush coming down (it's kind of raining snow and immediately turning to slush when it hits the windshield of the car). Of course I had to drive into Rockford this morning to get a blood test done and I really dislike driving in this mess. No problems, though. I am worried about the lilacs, the daffies, the hyacinths and my bleeding hearts -- they are all exposed to this nasty stuff and may not recover this year.

My rheumatologist put me on a large burst of prednisone starting today -- 40 mgs this morning, so we're waiting for me to go off my rocker, but it hasn't happened yet ;-)! All this just for a lousy finger that won't stop hurting. Dr is afraid to give me a stronger shot of cortisone because there's not much between the bones of the joint and it could permanently damage the skin.

Easter was a great day. The kids were here, we hid plastic Easter eggs for AJ to find and his Aunt Debbie kept him busy all day -- they even went for a walk in the woods and visited the two cows the neighbor has. Weather could be a whole lot better for this time of year, but I guess we'll deal with it like everyone else.

Not much quilty getting done here. I have spent more time working in my fabric cabinet refolding fabric -- I have a serious lack of yardage and an overabundance of fq's or less.
I have a quilt on the longarm, but I need to finish marking the borders before I can do any more quilting on it and well, last week I needed to get some things done in the kitchen so we could eat.
After watching the progress of Melanie on her Primitive Garden bom and loving the blocks she's doing, I finally called the shop and ordered one of the last two cotton kits they had. So, I'm 4 months behind and have started the first one, but I already know I am going to love this bom. I'm having a little bit of a problem because of my sore finger (which is actually why I went to the Dr -- so I could applique/quilt!), so it'll take me a while, but I am going to enjoy every minute of it. Thanks, Mel, for showing your completed blocks -- very inspiring.

Must be the weather -- it just seems to be a down day today. Don't feel like doing much -- have to take Pita to the vet this afternoon for his yearly shots, and mostly just want to take a nap! Guess I'll go do that!

The Dish Network guys fixed the problem yesterday and now we can watch tv without interruptions again.
My Rheumatologist -- he is the most caring and thorough doctor I have ever had.
A safe drive this morning (and hopefully again this afternoon).
Briana is back home after spending the past 5 days with her mother (AJ really misses his big sister when she has to go to her mom's on the weekends).

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Another view

This picture was taken yesterday and even more daffies are open today. However, they're going to freeze their tushies off the rest of the week -- we'll be back down into the 30's during the day and the teens at night! Hope spring comes back soon!

Here's another ufo I finished last weekend. Just a table runner I designed a couple of years ago for the fourth of July -- I call it Sparklers. The closeup shows my first attempt at putting feathers on a quilt -- I finally "got it" when I got to the border -- the secret is to SLOW DOWN! My feathers in the border look like fat feathers instead of skinny fingers! I'm having a lot of fun learning anyway.

Today I spent an hour refolding fabric and starting to clean out the big fabric cabinet. I've discovered so far that I have a ton of fqs and smaller fabrics and not much yardage -- at least on the top shelf. I'm refolding anything 1/2 a fq or larger and putting back on the shelf and anything smaller is getting refolded and is going into the scrap bins. I love to do hand applique, so a lot of this smaller stuff has been cut up for applique pieces ;-).

Monday, April 02, 2007

Spring at the Homestead

This is what early spring looks like in the midwest. The trees on the left are willows, on the right some type of crabapple (they were freebies when we ordered trees through the Soil & Water Conservation district many years ago), and the shrub between them is one of my lilacs. The photo was taken at an angle from the front part of our front yard.

Quilty news: I spent yesterday afternoon quilting on the longarm. I broke 3 needles, so learned how to raise/lower the needle bar and how to time the machine ;-0! The quilt I'm working on has a ton of seams and intersections, so it's forcing me to slow down (which is a good thing) and I don't want to mess it up because I really like the quilt.
I was catching up on my blog reading last evening and was perusing Patti's
very well organized sewing room and decided I needed to get my fabric straightened up once again. I have a beautiful, huge cabinet that Bill made for me (but not to my specifications -- I wanted half the depth). This is a partial picture of it and part of the mess inside. So today, I'll be starting to work on organizing fabric once again. I have rolls of batting stuffed behind the fabric in the front because the cabinet is just too deep for what I want. I also have fabric stuffed in the Hoosier side cabinets in the kitchen, which is right next to this room -- the clutter/sewing room.


Trees budding out

The radishes are up