Tuesday, December 29, 2009

"Fairy Rings" - DONE

My favorite part are the feet sticking out!

This quilt pattern is again, a Kaleidoscope quilt. I made 2 strip sets of the same strata, pressed one up, the other down, and sewed them together, being careful matching seams. This arrangement purposely does NOT have the kaleidoscope effect I usually aim for. I purposefully made a variety of "rings", just for a child's interest.

Meggie asked for "Fairies". This Fairy fabric came from Keepsake Quilting - it is an amazing piece of fabric, excellent quality, and more than I ever pay for fabric, but worth it now. The orange is supposed to be kinda melon, and I was thinking this quilt was toooo soft and wimpy (wimpy is NOT my style). And, the orangey melon has little stars that actually glow in the dark - I tried it out. THAT feature was too good to pass up. Yes, it kinda jumps out at you but I like it.

Fairy Rings are circles of growth, grass, or mushrooms that are found in more humid climates, often in yards. I was told that fairies had been on the lawn during the night, and had been playing, and the mushrooms were their little chairs, or maybe umbrellas. The "fairy rings" evolve from some kind of spore growth pattern. Meggie lives in Wisconsin where there is plenty moisture, so I'm sure she's seen these 'rings' in her yard.

Below - I like it laying in the snow. I'm never going to challenge Diane Gaudynski but I'm good enough!

Close up of quilting - this swoopy, leaf/heart pattern in the double inner border is/was the first pattern I learned to machine quilt on my DSM. If you outline it a second time, it has more 'heft.' The swoopy, twirling viney lines are great fillers, and you can bet a child will glom onto that pattern and follow it with her fingers, as she slips off into a nap. It goes in the mail!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Using Stash for Backing, and Round Robin

I used a lot of 'old' fabric for the back of this Fairy Quilt for Meggie (name at top). The back is more entertaining than the front! It feels good to make good use of the fabric and move it out of my space, and it's kinda cute also. I'll post the finished project tomorrow, when the sun is up.

Below is a Star Challenge, Round Robin I'm working on. My first brilliant efforts, after drawing, graphing, coloring, measuring were a total flop! This is 'owned' by Sharon, a talented young woman in our Guild, known for her excellent workmanship, and her love of batiks. I can't show any more than the first star - after today, it's a secret until June. OK, Elaine Adair, back to the drawing board!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Fairy Quilt, WIP -

What's not to love about that texture? It looks like snails trails, doesn't it? Totally in keeping with the "Fairy Ring" theme of this kaleidoscope.

This is for a great niece, Meggie. We just received their Annual Christmas Letter, along with photos, and by gosh, that little girl is growing too fast -- I had better get this project done and in the mail! Quilt dimensions are about 70 x 70 inches, and little Meggie WAS 3 1/2 when she asked for it last July!

Halleluja - don't have to cook tonight (leftovers, yum!) and I can work on this project several times today. I'm being careful to do exercises between short machine quilting periods.

(If you are wanting to learn to do MQ on your DSM, please give it a good try, and practice. Yes, it's a bit of a nuisance to layer and baste it, but that doesn't cost anything, and there is real pleasure in sitting down and turning a 'plain' quilt top into a lovely thing with your own machine.)

Friday, December 25, 2009

Weather Report from Western Nebraska

This is a Wyoming Department of Transportation CAM photo taken 12/24 west of my home, just barely into Wyoming - our weather here is about the same, but without the highways. Note - not much traffic. Look closely and you can see the gates which are closed when things get really BAD. I DID like the way the light shone in the background. Pretty! NO WAY am I going outside to take photos! These weather CAMs give us a great picture of serious conditions much better and more up-to-date report than the Weather Channel. It's about 5 degrees above zero, wind is blowing at 35-56 mph, but fortunately, we are not getting a LOT of snow with it. It's blowing to Eastern Nebraska or maybe Iowa. We are grateful for a wood supply, a warm home, plenty of food, and don't have to go anywhere! And tomorrow is MY day for quilting.

Stay warm and safe, folks.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Peanut Butter Cookie Preparations

Crud - notice anything strange?

You can see I'm getting ready to mix something. I took butter out of the freezer, and some out of the refrigerator and dumped them both on the counter, but grabbed the frozen ones and threw them in the mixing bowl. I turned the big mixer on, and wondered why it was making such an odd sound, but stupid me, I should have stopped. Too late!

I'm still not sure if I also ruined the mixer, the holes where the beaters snap into - afraid to look. This is a standing, heavy duty mixer. Probably much more expensive than what I paid a gazillion years ago. Duhhhh! Should I be cooking more often, or cooking less often? or not at all??? I WAS kinda stressed - can I use that excuse for my stupidity?

Well, the cookies are delicious - and I DID manage to mix them by hand.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Perking up

This morning was my first visit at the Chiropractor and tonight I feel like I've been run over by that Mack Truck! However, despite my physical discomfort now, I am already able to use my left arm better. Pinched nerves are not for sissies. I had been virtually unable to dress myself, for gosh sakes, without assistance. Do you know how difficult it is to put on undergarments by stepping into them? A bra does not always slip UP over hips!

It doesn't hurt that the Dr. is a most pleasant and handsome guy, and the office is here in town, within walking distance of our local quilt shop. My spirits are lifted - I needed THAT benefit, there is light at the end of a long tunnel, and it appears there are no surgeons in my immediate future. Wow, have we learned a LOT about medical procedure and how costs are escalated and .... it is a distressing lesson to see how (IMHO) once a person gets on the medical train, it's not easy to get OFF! And the unpleasantness between the medical profession vs. chiropractic is incredible. I tend to avoid doctors, and believe in a holistic approach to health.

On a quilt-y subject, tonight I cut up stash, kiddy fabric into 10 1/2 inch squares for the backing of my current kid quilt (Fairy Rings, previous post). So far, fabric IN is still more than fabric OUT. And Connecting Threads big sale did not help my Fabric Diet one bit!

No sympathy asked for, but my blog posts were sounding somewhat blah and thought I'd explain why.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Fairy Rings, in process

Wow - these photos are murky! They weren't murky in my photo! The quilt colors are much prettier in person!

Saturday I put the blocks together, after much moving them, rearranging, etc. The corners of the rings were too white so by adding quick corners of color (blue and lavender), it reduced the WHITE, and added to the pattern. Unfortunately, somehow, those fairy dickens moved some of the blocks around and 2 were sewn WRONG! Dang it!!! By morning, I had renewed energy and determination to unsew and resew them in the proper location.
This is the cutest fabric! There is leftover for the back also. It's directional, and after much stressing, I made the pattern more around the quilt (cut on the length of fabric). The top and bottom were already too wide to use just one piece on the width. Stress over! Hey, it took courage to CUT through all those sweet little fairies!

In this dry climate, many people are not familiar with the term " fairy rings" In moist climates, frequently in lawns, you see a circle of grass that has grown differently from the regular lawn. Or, you see a circle of mushrooms that presumably the fairies use as sitting stools, or umbrellas. The growth pattern has something to do with spores. Fairies and elves get confused, and sometimes fairies are good, other times evil. (Hey, I checked Wikipedia!) This quilt is going to a moist climate. It's big - about 68 inches square to a 3 1/2 yr. old great niece, who asked for "Fairies" and "Girly".

I have several rings that include a melon/orangey fabric that glows in the dark - looking (to me) like lightning bugs. I'll get to quilting it soon.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Jody's Quilt of Valor

This splendid quilt of Valor belongs to my friend Jody (Goddess). It's based on Quiltville's Carolina Crossroads. Jody makes quilts like nobodys business, in addition to a full-time job, and ranching and ...! (That's why I add "Goddess" after her name.) These are being sent to AliciaQuilts in Colorado, and then on to a hospitalized soldier wounded in Iraq or Afghanistan. These unfortunate young men and women did NOT ask to be hospitalized in addition to their military service. With these QOV quilts, they will know 'someone, out there' appreciates them.

Jody (no blog) machine quilts on a frame using a regular sewing machine. Look at this little squiggle with the stars -- too clever. The wide border is quilted with a variegated red/blue in a viney undulating pattern, free form. I honestly could NOT discern the blocks until Jody pointed them out to me.
The other best part is the backing - it's filled with a variety of U.S. historical motifs, from early history to current. Gorgeous - and she found the fabric at discount price!
Thanks, Jody, for being so generous with your talents, and for allowing me to show off your beautiful quilt.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

COLD ... MINUS 18 predicted

Our sexiest winter clothing here is long underwear, boots, sweatshirts, jeans, etc. We don't have GOOD hair days until spring! 8-)

Tonight's temperature predicted to be -18 degrees! Yes, MINUS 18 degrees! Scary. The worst of the snow/blizzard seems to be east of us. Poor Nebraskans ... We have about 6 inches of snow now and it's still coming down.

I don't remember the conversion so here is a chart for those of you who are used to Celsius.

Celsius Fahrenheit
-40.00 -40.00
-35.00 -31.00
-30.00 -22.00
-25.00 -13.00
-20.00 -4.00
-15.00 5.00
-10.00 14.00
-5.00 23.00
0.00 32.00
5.00 41.00
We're gonna need more firewood!

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Days of our Lives ...

This is just ONE of my favorite books, by Evelyn Sloppy - pages are falling out of the binding. I went to Staples, figuring a new Spiral Binding would help, figuring cost might be $3-4.00. My word! I had to wait for/or return in 4 hours, to the tune of $6.57! I LOVE the spiral binding but the cost is prohibitive.

I needed a new cartridge for my very old, but trustworthy HP 4L printer. This printer is well over 15 years old - this would only be my 4th or 5th cartridge - it goes forever! Staples price = $137.00 - FOR THE INK CARTRIDGE. Huh???? I expected an increased price from the $29.99 I paid 5 years ago, but this was ridiculous! On-line I went, for a remanufactured one = $29.99, plus $5.00 for S & H, and it arrived in 3 days. So far, it works great.

My current Kaleidoscope quilt, "Fairy Rings" is coming along, but this strip set is really crooked! I'm ashamed to show my not-straight seams. And some of my 'rings' are too light, so I'm making more. This week I had a Dr. visit for a sore shoulder. x-rays showed nothing wrong with my shoulder, so he took an x-ray of my neck -- I need to get to the bottom of this issue. Obviously, Doc put the wrong x-ray on the viewing screen -- that poor decrepit person had a bizarre crook in her neck - OK, Doc, please show me mine! -- uhhh that IS mine??? - yeah, it's ME! No, I have no idea when this happened, but I've had a sore shoulder and aching neck for several years. No wonder! I thought it was from too much sewing or too much computer! So yesterday I had to face THIS procedure (below)! Yes, an MRI! Facing this piece of machinery is NOT for sissies. No, it doesn't hurt, but all one can think about is, "What if I Panic?" while I am in that tiny tube, held down, ??? what would I do if I DID panic? Yes, they gave me a Panic Button but only a wimpy woman would use it ... But one must lie perfectly still, and already my shoulder started aching. No fiddling, no moving or one must start over. By the time it was over (45 minutes, then 30 minutes), I was a shakey, quivering mass of jello. I slept 13 hours last night! Wonder what my blood pressure was during that procedure? Wonder what the next step will be?

BTW, thank you to my friend, Nancy, who offered to drive/hold my hand/give me emotional support while I faced this frightening procedure - You are MY hero. 8-) DH was a great comfort.

.. and a quiet prayer, "Stay safe, Carl, in Baghram."

Sunday, November 29, 2009

QOV Done, and the next Kaleidoscope Quilt

This is ready for it's new home It's approximately 62 x 78 inches. Below is a closer look at the quilting - from PatsyThompsonDesigns.com, called Loosey-Goosey Revolving Axis patterns. (I'm still not sure of the difference between Revolving Axis and Rotating Axis but ... )

This pattern works well for me, given the space I have on my machine, and my own hand movements - oh yeah, and one I can do reasonably well. I had no negative issues with the Dritz basting gun tabs at this point (crud to my earlier experience learning that basting technique!) and will try that method of basting yet another time.

Here's the start of my Fairy Quilt (above, a little dull in this photo). See that melon strip, with the orange-y blotches - those blotches are fairies (directional fabric), and for the last several months, I've NOT been able to figure what blends nicely with it. I HAD 2 yards of it, but it just didn't 'do' for a border. So I bowed to temptation and bought the 2 1/2 yards of fairies (laying in the center of the photo) from Keepsake Quilting. I've NEVER spent that much $ on fabric, but it IS gorgeous, and now, can pull fabrics using the newest Fairy Fabric.

I'm trying a different technique, and will make 2 strip sets of the SAME fabrics, sizes, order etc. One set will be pressed UP and the next set will be pressed down. This way, my K. blocks will look more like Rosettes. And the wedges will butt up neatly next to one another, with seams closely aligned. This is not much more work than earlier methods, but the optic illusion will not be visible. I'm already starting to like it!


Friday, November 27, 2009

QOV, Quilting Along

Between trips to the feed trough (aka leftover goodies - thanks to our Thanksgiving hosts) I was able to quilt a lot on this Quilt of Valor. This afternoon I've started on the side setting triangles and the corners. I wanted something open, woodsy, kinda light and airy. So far, my little tabs from the basting gun have worked OK. I cut them off CAREFULLY before the needle hits them, but even when they get accidently sewed IN, I can use a tweezers to pull them out from under a stitch. The top flies off ... uhhh somewhere, and the bottom slides to the floor. So far, so good. None have dropped INTO my machine via the feed dogs - something I was warned about -- knock on wood. Can't wait to get this finished and spritz it, to see it all pucker up evenly!
The last 3 borders will be done in a loopy viney, leaf/heart, across all three borders. That should go fast.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Quilt Basting, and a Product Review

Today I'm preparing to baste my QOV (Quilt of Valor) quilt. It's cool outside so we tried a set-up in the family room, which works, if I'm not planning any other activity for the next few hours. See this clamp? from DH woodworking tools? It works well, depending on the underneath table configuration. See the little C clamp in the next photo? T'ain't work a tinker's darn! Too small, too tedious, the flat area is too small. The orange clips work well, but one needes muscles, and they only work in corners of my table - again, this all depends on how your table is built underneath.

This is the product I've been wanting to try - a Dritz Basting Gun. As I am allowing myself the pleasure of an occasional manicure in my Senior years, I find the safety pin method is very hard on store-enhanced nails -- maybe this gadget is gentler and will do the job.

First, it comes with 500 little red tabs, and one needle. I used almost all of them on a 60 x 80 inch quilt, so I would recommend having a few extra packs of the tabs. Cost of the gun at JoAnns with 40% coupon was about $23.00.

It is suggested one purchases the grid that goes under the quilt, on the table, so you have something to press the gun against. Or you could reach under the quilt and press the fabric against the gun (ugh). JoAnns did NOT have the grid, and I couldn't find who had one. I THINK it may resemble honeycomb grid, about 1 inch tall, and maybe 12 inches square, that will slide around the table under the quilt -- think lighting accessories?.

We had started with a single cooling rack,
but eventually found it was NOT high enough. (Dorky Elaine, you have to have the rack TALLER than the length of the needle!! )

We discovered that 2 gridded cookie cooling racks, when stacked, were about 1 inch tall, that worked reasonably well.
We glued a little block of wood to the center of the cooling rack to keep the center from smooshing down when I pressed the gun against the quilt.

Some people are afraid the little tags will make holes in the quilt. (below) However, the tags are very slender, and much less 'catchy' than safety pins. I've run over then with the sewing machine with no notice at all. But the needle IN the basting gun is larger and therefore leaves a hole which I am sure will disappear with a bit of mist. I would NOT use it on tightly woven fabric, like batik. I presume you would carefully snip them off as you quilted along, merely brushing the little pieces to the floor.

We each had a good 2 hours of frustration, getting the 'hang' of this gun, so my expected time of 2 hours for basting, took about 4. When it worked it worked great, and I could just shoot, shoot, shoot, scooting the rack along under the quilt. Not sure what happened, but we both met our level of frustration. (And we did NOT study the instructions - kinda glossed over them.) DH had better luck with it than I, which I eventually learned was muscle! It was hard to tell when it was time to pull the trigger HARD. Kinda sloppy feeling.

We are hoping this was another one of those learning experiences, and I AM planning to use it again on the next quilt, when I get more tabs.

I had the BEST luck around the quilt edges when I just held the fabric in my hand and pressed the gun against the fabric. Click, click, click, about 20 times in a row, all perfect!

A bunch of the plastic tabs ended up on the floor, and this might be dangerous if one had pets. Would cats eat them? They vacuumed up well.

What I/we did NOT like was the fiddling when the gun jammed, taking the needle out, and setting it back in, dropping it, the little button that held the needle IN would fall OUT of the gun. Was this our learning time? Maybe it was our fault? I came from a family where good tools were important. I felt this gun was a little clunky - it would be really great if it was made better, you know, with more heft, better "feel." I might make that suggestion to Dritz. I wonder what the stores use for marking garments, etc.?

So, all this explanation is what kinda works/doesn't work for me for my basting system! I wonder if each of you who baste their quilts at home, go through a similar trial and error system! 8-)) I have not tried Sharon Schamber method with the 2 x 4 -- another time maybe. This project wore me out.

Hope you all have lovely family Thanksgiving. I am so thankful for all of YOU and thankful to Blogger for giving us this wonderful opportunity to share our pleasures.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Courage or foolishness?

It was during the Charles Manson days, the late 60s, -- he had caused great fear across the country, and there had also been recent stories of murders along an Illinois Interstate south of Chicago, where my husband and I lived, at the end of a quiet country road.

The road ended a bit beyond my/our 2 acres and you had to turn around to get out – forward, back, forward, back on the narrow road. We had a modest little Sears house, no neighbors, and beyond our property, beyond the dead-end road, was open country, cornfields, space.

I was at least 12 months pregnant – yes, HUGE, and could barely walk, not entirely cheerful with my increased girth and its limitations. Really, I was 8 ¾ months pregnant, and home alone, awaiting this baby’s arrival. We were in the process of building a garage to add to our humble little house. It was taking a long time -- I was not of much assistance because of my amazing size. DH was at work.

During the last few weeks, I had noticed a disreputable , dirty car driving up and down the road, looking around, making a U-turn at the end, and driving away – very shady and suspicious. I was barely able to walk, but also thinking about the Manson murders. This guy drove by several times every week and I was feeling very unsettled. It never occurred to me to call the Law.

Our car stayed in the driveway, pointing out, you know, in case it became time to get to the hospital. Now, back in the 60s, some cars (ours) were ginormous, huge fins, and could go like the devil. It had well over 300 HP, boo-koos of cubic something or other. This car was BIG and BLACK and FAST and impressive!

There was that guy again, checking the neighborhood, obviously up to no good -- probably ready to murder someone, and I was NOT going to let that happen. I grabbed a baseball bat, waddled out to my big car, started the engine and raced after him. I chased that man to the end of the road, and I kid you not, slammed on the brakes, did a 180 like nobody’s business, screeching, dust flying, gravel shooting everywhere, blocking his escape, not only on the road, but from his car! Yes, just like the movies! I opened my car door, grabbed my bat and waddled over to that man’s car, (he was pinned in by my big car) ready to attack him, hollering "Who the Hxxx are you!!!”. He got pale, white and 45 years later, I can still hear him stammering in total fear, “NNNNNow MMMMMa’am, cccccalm down, I’m the bbbbbuilding inspector and am wwwwwatching your ggggggarage ccccconstruction!!!"

Quilt of Valor - Progress

3 corners done - It's straight and square in person.

I have 3 sides on - they all behaved, but side 4 decided to mess up - couldn't have been me! The printing on the selvage extends into the side-setting triangle. Dang it. I'll have to trim that out and piece in another.

The colors are so much prettier than this photo taken in a gloomy room. I'm liking it! Today I purchased batting and a soft gray/blue quilting thread.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

DOING IT is the art!

Our Ardis Wannabe Guild Challenge (artist want to be) pulled from the bag last month was a Sheriff's 6 pointed Star. I've never made a 60-degree star, so armed with TWO $20.00 rulers, and no pattern I cobbled along, and managed to make this honker of a star! Finished project is about 24 inches square. I DO love the colors. Whew - big, bold, DONE! The ART will have to be in the process this time.

Wouldn't this make the center of a little boy's quilt? We sure see a lot of cowboy fabric!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

From Linda in Ontario

These 4 photos are from "Linda" in Ontario, Canada. She has no blog, but I know she surfs many quilty blogs. I will encourage her to read the comments you leave as her quilting and piecing style is unique, as well as her clever backs. I believe the first two photos go together (backs and front) as well as the last two photos.


Aren't they just fun, happy, cheerful, and full of pleasure and joy?

Thank you, Linda, for these photos. I just love them, and am sure others will be inspired from your lovely quilts. If I'm remembering correctly, they are hand quilted.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Some of these things are not like the others

I am unfocused, not concentrating due to ... life.

Those new QSTs are not what I expected. So, I remade them, all 12 of these QSTs (that I even wrote a tutorial for!), and guess what? -- I made all 12 of again, exactly WRONG, a second time!

But I'm nearing completion on this Quilt of Valor top, despite stupid mistakes. Thanks, Marcie for the inspiration!
The last photo (below) is the side setting triangle - those are large pieces! For audition purposes, I added one quick corner to the inside corner of the triangle to blend with that quarter square. I like it. It's more contrasting than I expected - wish I had toned it down somewhat. Quilting will help, I'm sure.

I've been up and wide awake, for one week, since 4:30 am. Almost noon time now -- is it nap time yet?

Friday, November 06, 2009

THIS mystery solved

OK, somehow my options were changed - HEY, I DIDN't DO IT! It's fixed now, which does NOT agree at all with what the Help Forum was saying.

Thanks everyone - now I can get back to sewing.

huh? an explanation regarding "no reply"

Occasionally one of you tells me I am "No Reply" when you want to respond to my comment, which probably shows up in your e-mail, if your settings are set up like mine. I certainly am NOT set up as "No Reply" , although I cannot remember where that option is.

Today I asked this question of Blogger Help forum, and this is what was replied. I don't really know WHO it is who sent it, but here it is:

No, that's not how it works. The email to the other person is just a confirmation alert that a new comment has been posted. They are not meant to reply to it. This is the same for all blogs.

hmmmm, interesting. I know less than before. If the above is true, then maybe different e-mail programs may allow most of the ability to Reply to those comments???? My settings request an email be sent to me when you leave a comment, and I ALWAYS REPLY to those emails, unless occasionally is says "No Reply."

Comments anyone? What am I missing here .... wahhhh, I am going back to sewing and quilting - I know how to do that! (most of the time)