Friday, December 31, 2010

Blizzard - I shoulda stayed home!

We had plenty warning - our NOAA weather alert went off 2 days ago that we were going to get "hammered"! Paula, the Quilter, who lives west of me, in Colorado, also sent me a warning e-mail! 8-))) Yesterday, I stopped for bread and milk, but the store was well-picked over and nearly OUT of milk!

Last night the wind picked up and by this morning, it was zero degrees outside, wind of about 35 mph, and snowing, blowing, with about 8-12 inches on the ground, with huge drifts. Uhhh, ok, I'm Swedish, I can take this. Get the fireplace going to take the morning chill off the house. (God bless the makers of Electric Blankets!)

I still have work at my office that must be done - uhhh, my car was purchased when I lived in a warm clime and it doesn't function on snow -- too low, too light. No problem, DH has 4 wheel drive, except this morning, it won't start, expressing itself with bizarre noises from under the hood!

This is the view from my front door.

OK, now we have a problem. DH insists he has to do the snow blowing. Hey, we've been senior citizens for several years, the weather is frightful, it's easy to get disoriented, drifts can hamper normal balance, and we can't get anyone to the Dr. or hospital if there could be an injury - let's rethink that snow-blowing thing.

After much nagging, he promised to NOT haul that machinery out.

OK, I have to get to my office, really only blocks from my house, so I can walk. Bundled up, wind was at my back, had my cell phone and promised to call home the minute I made the 15 minute walk, only this time it took 25 minutes - husband was getting ready to call Emergency to find me, thinking I'd gotten lost under a drift. (I didn't tell him I really DID fall down in a drift!), but managed to arrive in one cold piece. It's hard to SEE your footing during a blizzard, when you can't tell the road from the curb, or yards. The roads were terrible -- forget using sidewalks! There is no one at my office - it's ME this week! The door was drifted shut and I could barely get in, which made me question my decision making ability.

There had been no auto-rescues for my husband's vehicle at home, so when I was ready to leave to walk back home I called him to watch for me, just in case. This time, the wind is in front of me, and a person gets very cold very quickly! When I covered up my face with my scarf, the condensation from my breathing fogged my glasses so I was nearly blind. Whiteout conditions did not make things easier. I was hoping someone would pick me up, but oddly, no one offered! By the time I walked the entire 3 blocks (yes, that's all!), and trudged through the drifts in my own front yard, I was totally exhausted, and DAZED, mentally confused and had a horrible headache. I truly did not know what day it was!!! How did people ever live in this weather -- however did the native Indians manage as well as the early settlers? Remember, this is the climate with not many trees for firewood!

I'm glad to be safe and sound and even found some chicken and noodles in the freezer.

We are still a little concerned about no usable transportation/cars at all - this is a new experience! Kinda scarey!

"Hey, babe, turn on the Electric Blanket!!!"

Separate subject -- 53 Pineapple Blocks on the Floor. Guess I am staying home for a few days and going to sew. A kind Anonymous neighbor snow-blew the entire block so that issue is taken care. of. 8-))

Happy New Year 2011 Everyone - thanks for all your kindnesses, advice, visual stimulation and friendships! 8-))))))

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Forty-Two Pineapple Blocks on the Floor, Forty-two Pineapple Blocks

I added quick corners on the blocks - they seemed to be a bit too dark. The melon/green helps (IMHO) to coordinate the overabundance of fabrics. Adding the corners means 37 pieces per block. I'm liking it! My original border idea was to make Lazy Gal words in a wide border, but I'm rethinking - maybe something curvy, roundish would be better after all these sharp angles. Speak to me, quilt!

The top row, that is not all in the photo, is already sewn together - I couldn't wait to see what it looked like!

42 pineapple blocks on the floor
42 pineapple blocks
Sew the strips, sew some more
43 pineapple blocks on the floor

(Corny, but I can't stop singing it!)

"Detours" - Done

Yesterday, Christmas Day, I finished this Split 9-Patch. It's named "Detours" -- you never know where a detour will lead you. Sometimes you like the side trip, sometimes you don't. The colors are more vivid in person. I LOVE this simple Split 9-patch block - - the possibilities of settings seem limitless.

Hope you can see the slim red "flange" - is that what it's called? against the binding. One problem I had with this quilt is that the black inner border, raveled, and while I thought the white border was thick enough to hide the possible black threads, it did not. Then, I tried pinking sheers (thanks Colleen) to try and eliminate the ravelings - that didn't work either and offered opportunity to cut something I didn't want cutting. I did the best I could with that problem, and left it unquilted, hoping the poof you see would slightly camouflage the frequent threads. The black was thicker in weight and would NOT press the other way. Live and learn!

As you see, we don't have any snow - in fact it's been unusually mild.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

29 Pineapple Blocks on the floor, and a great book

My bunch of pineapple blocks is growing - I still wonder how many I should make in order to make ... uhhh ... something.

Now, the reason for the basket (one of 4 nested baskets, made by the Amish Troyer family in Iowa) on the quilt is .... ta ta ...! It is empty!!! That was just ONE place I had been hoarding scraps - digging down, it went back over a year, but they are gone. Notice the area where the basket meets the handle - another kind of log cabin configuration.

Trimming the pineapple blocks means that most of the scraps actually get cut OFF and finally go into the trash - NO, I am not resurrecting any of them.

Twenty-nine pineapple blocks on the floor,
Twenty-nine pineapple blocks,
Light and dark strips, piece some more,
Thirty-one pineapple blocks on the floor!

Thanks Vivian for that little ditty that I plan to change each few days! (yes, I have 2 more on my machine, not shown, for those bloggers who actually count! LOL )

As my quilting skills have improved, I AM purchasing fewer and fewer books and had passed this one up many times - yawn, "same ole, same ole" I said to myself, but one day, I bit, only to discover it's a great find. There are NO patterns, only log cabin AND ....PINEAPPLE BLOCKS IN MANY VARIETIES AND CONFIGURATIONS!!! 4 SIDED, 5 SIDED, 6, AND 8 SIDED -- numerous examples of turning the blocks producing amazing new patterns and settings. It's been out many years, so you may be able to find it discounted. This was just one more inspirational incentive to get started with MY pineapple blocks.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Twenty-Two PP Pineapple Blocks, On Point

This is not speed sewing! 22 made so far, and in this photo, I set them on point. I have no idea how many are needed nor for what purpose. Oops, photos is a bit crooked. These finish at 6 inches.

The corners are kinda drab. mmm maybe some bright quick corners? I'm brightening up the blocks themselves with pale yellow, blue, green, melon -- the needed some 'sparkle.' The centers are alternate red or dark.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Paper Pieced Pineapple Blocks, and MQ on R/W/B

Friday, I dashed home after work, full of energy and inspiration, and dove into sewing Pineapple Blocks - little ones - these finish at 6 inches. Paper had not been removed in this photo. What will I do with them? LOL It took me about 40 minutes per block, and after doing 5, (with breaks between) I cleaned up the mess on the floor, then started again on Saturday, then ..., and by Sunday I had 15. Once again, it's just left-over strips. Of course, there is no diminishing of stash amount that I can tell. Guess I'll keep working on more. The turquoise blue perks up the sedate fabrics.

I had gotten bored with machine quilting on this red/white/black quilt and needed a break. But, here is an example of one area I quilted, with a scroll-y design.

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Christmas Tree Skirt - Done

Instead of a binding around the center circle, I chose to add a fused facing. After panicking for a few hours, I realized this is just like the facings I used to put around collars, back in the days of garment sewing. I dug out my 'professional' compass and marked the line, then remarked it bigger, then smaller! LOL Then I sewed - I seem to remember the term "staystitching"-- the line in preparation for cutting out the circle.

(Oh crud - I added these photos using a new method and they don't leave me room under the photos for text. I know you can figure it out but it's a little confusing.)

I opted to make a slit in the skirt, as opposed to a center hole only, but that DID leave a very acute angle to bind, something I've not done before. However, a bit of fiddling, and some hand holding by fellow quilters, sent me in the right direction which ended up with satisfactory, pointy points.

Done, and ready to mail - with optional ties. It's about 54 inches on widest points. No pattern, I just made it up, starting with a basic star block. Any blocks with a single diagonal line can be made log cabin style. That left it square, and I wanted to have 8 sides, so I added the 4 Log Cabin sides (with triangles in center along seam line.)

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Itsy bitsy bit of thread

This morning I was awake early, full of enthusiasm, wanting to get to quilting the Christmas Tree Skirt, but my normally dependable machine would NOT cooperate. Thread nests, pokeys, snarls, threads not laying flat on top. And I had put in very good, expensive thread, both top and bottom. Changed threads, re-threaded, changed feet, and nada, nada -- even tried a second new needle. Then I got out a flashlight and looked as well as possible into the tension area. I could not discover any method to remove the cover OFF to look closer, but I DID see just a bit of extra threads in there. Sure enough, with my tiny tweezers, I pulled it out -- a small fuzzy, knotty wad of thread. Voila - problem resolved.

I always have the feeling there is still a small bit of invisible thread in there. Anyone know how to remove the cover from the tension disks, on a Janome MC6500?

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Ready for Quilting!

I'm lovin' it! Next is the quilting, then I will bind it in that dark green. My inside corners are fixed, with some fiddling and hand sewing. Whew - THAT issue was a learning experience!

It's laying on batting -- I can baste it in the house. It's about 58 x 58 inches.

Oh my, how will I ever cut into it, for the slit and the tree hole? Yikes!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Uh oh - mess up on the inside corner

This is my Tree Skirt, and I'm planning on adding HSTs around the entire perimeter - they are already made. I figured that inside corner would sew up to a nice 45 degree angle to possibly hand stitch together. I carefully sewed to the stopping point - you know, stop at 1/4 short of the seam end.

A little messy, but "it will be OK." I sewed the HST's (not shown on the above top) to the triangular log cabin units on the side.

But look what happens!
They don't match up at all! What the heck????

OK, some of you are laughing because YOU know why, but I learn best by doing, even if doing is wrong! lol

I sure was surprised and even put out some calls for HELP!!!

After thinking for 2 hours I realize that the diagonal measurement (see the triangle) is longer than the leg of the triangle! I hope the photos describe better than what I'm trying to say. If you make this kind of inside corner, with HSTs, you cannot have a continuous line of HSTs because now, they measure a different width since they are on an angle.

My solution is to remove the HSTs from the triangular log cabin blocks, then border them with plain strips, at 1 3/8 raw. The HSTs are 2 inches raw. IMHO - (that mean don't bet money on me!) This is because a strip that is 1 3/8 inch on the diagonal, measures a bit shy of 2 inches from edge to edge - the size of my HST. (Remember how you figure a block size on the diagonal - measure block size x 1.414)

Next time, I'll draw it out. I jes' LOVE learning experiences? 8-))

WIP, Christmas Tree Skirt

Whew - gotta remember my geometry! I didn't use a pattern., and there's still a lot of work, but you can see where I'm going. The HSTs go all around the perimeter. Those inside corners should meet at 45 degrees, and therefore NOT be an issue but ... wish me luck! The center hole will be faced, then I'll use normal binding around the edges.

There were bias issues on the side log cabin triangle blocks, so I had to make additional minor adjustments to the seams.

I'll bet all you quilters are just like me -- when you give a quilt you feel compelled to explain all the ins and outs and techniques used, to a non-quilter who, most likely, has no idea what you are talking about! LOL

Enjoy your weekend -- and Happy Quilting!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Homemade laundry detergent, and a Star Log Cabin

Today I made my 3rd or 4th batch of homemade laundry detergent since December 08. The original cost of ingredients was approx. $10.00. I DID have to purchase a second bar of Fels Naptha for about $2.00, but I STILL have a half box of Washing Soda and half box of 20 Mule Team Boraxo, and 2/3 of that 2nd bar of Fels Naptha. Cost per load is about .01 -- yes, that's right! Also, I don't need fabric softener any more with this detergent - another savings to pocketbook, space and environment. I've not purchased ANY other laundry detergent since 12/08.

There are just the two of us in this household, but I've saved several hundreds of $$ by now, in addition to consideration for the environmental issue. I can only guess at the dollars saved if you have a large family. It takes me about 10-15 minutes to make a batch, I store it in empty milk containers or ice cream buckets - something that can be covered. If interested, check out I still purchase stain removal products and occasionally use bleach. YOU DO NOT NEED TO PAY OVER $10.00 PER CONTAINER FOR LAUNDRY DETERGENT. Try it, you might like it!

On a quilty subject - here is a star log cabin WIP to be turned into a Christmas Tree Skirt. While the conventional blocks are easy, I became confused with the scrappy centers, where there was no light/dark differentiation, and I had to admit defeat a time or two and put my seam ripper to good use. More blocks are planned on the outside to make it octagonal, and then it will be surrounded with HSTs (I hope). This is for an artificial tree, 7 1/2 feet tall. How large should I cut the hole? (JoHanna, pretend you haven't seen this!)

Monday, November 15, 2010

Whew - a wonderful retreat!

This was Friday evening view, with recent snowfall. You can see the Platte River sparkling near the center of the photo, behind the fence.
(Above) The blond gal in the center (long hair) did not sleep after arriving Friday morning, not Friday evening, not Saturday until very late Saturday night when she FINALLY went to bed! Whew - and she functioned very well!
(Above) This is one of my roommates, Lari, finishing up a Kaleidoscope quilt (and she DID). She had the bunk on top -- keep in mind that that we returned to our rooms late at night, lights are out, being quiet so as not to disturb early retirers, and she had to climb up, ladder fashion between two bunks, into her bunk! I sure could not have done it.
Now, why are their tables so clean and tidy??? I know they each finished many projects. Colleen on the right finished at least 9 separate projects! She is the most organized person I know!
Below is my tablemate, Chell, who I introduced you to in my previous post. She has definitely 'taken' to machine quilting, and she's also brought her embroidery machine. I don't think she slept longer than 2-3 hours each night.

(Above) I finished my Red/White/Black top -- only needed to add borders.

The start of a Christmas Log Cabin Star. The center was all green colors - no lights - and I became very confused!
Sharon said she only made 572 HSTs, out of the needed 800 or so. Her quilts are always spectacular. We noticed her paperpiecing some extraordinary stars also.
These old blocks had a heart-warming story. Nancy was putting sashing on them. Her 82 year old friend was given these blocks by HER mother who made them when (the older mother)she was 92. Nancy's friend did not have a clue that they were turning into a quilt.
By own mess - I took this so DH knew I was actually accomplishing something. I take a small Janome Platinum to classes.

If you've never attended a retreat, you don't have a clue what you are missing. We had 3 days this time and what I loved the best was hearing personal stories and getting to know each other more than just seeing their quilts. I believe there were 40 of us, working in two separate spaces, so we had plenty of spreading-out room. The meals were simple and wonderful, friendships rewarding and I believe everyone went home with projects completed. The local fabric shops were more than generous with gifts and certificates handed out at the culmination of the retreat. Can't wait until next year! Thank you to Marlene who did an enormouse organizing job!!!

Now, I have something else to do!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

A new blogger, a new machine quilter on a DSM

My friend and fellow Quilt Guild member, Machelle, at has jumped in and started a blog. And, with the attitude of "I am Woman!!!", she's been learning to machine quilt on her DSM, with excellent results. Stop by and see her - give her an attagirl! She also lives out in these open parts of Nebraska/Wyoming.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Keeping track for 2010

2010 Yards of Fabric in 107.00
2010 Yards of Fabric used -129.00
2010 $ spent for sewing supplies $1,415.82

2009 Yards of Fabric in 118.25
2009 Yards of Fabric used (107.70)
2009 $ spent for sewing supplies $1,680.63

I appears my spending and sewing activities are running along at the same rate as last year. The costs include Retreats, books, Quilt Activities, in addition to the 'regular' costs of fabric, threads. I don't count gasoline. But this is close and I'm trying to reduce it from last year, and use what I have. OK, I'm weak!

This weekend is a 3-day retreat at a lovely YMCA Lodge location, not far from my home. Originally I thought 3 days would wipe me out toooo much, but then realized that with 3 days, I'd actually have time to rest a bit. Ya think?

This time, I'm taking photos! See y'all in a week or so.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Too much Visual Stimulation!

That Split 9-Patch arrangement (previous post) is too much for me -- while I like things that are visually lively, I will probably tone it down somehow. Maybe I'll turn all the blocks in one direction but if you have suggestions, I'd welcome them. I'm not much for "giving the eye to rest" but there ARE limitations to how much visual chaos a person can take! LOL

I will most likely add a plain 2-3 inch white border around it, then another border made of ??? I'm sure the LQS will have the perfect thing.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Best MQ book so far, and Split 9-Patch

This is the last book I'll ever need to keep improving on my Machine Quilting on a DSM. The author, Judy Woodworth, is a member of our Guild and makes the most amazing quilts, and then long-arm quilts them with astonishing perfection. Every winners list on MAJOR Quilt Shows include her name among the winners, frequently with her friend Mary Sue Suit, also an author and another member of our Guild. Aren't we lucky? What I like best about this book is the detailed, brilliant photos of her amazing, heavily-quilted backgrounds. This book is for quilters who use either a DSM or a long arm.
I've shown many of my quilt books on this blog, and every one of them has something to offer. I AM a glutton for books - love them all - but even if a quilter gets only one idea from each book, that's good enough. The best thing I get from books is ENERGY and INSPIRATION!

Below is a likely arrangement of my recent Split 9-Patch, "Which Way?" I LIKE how it jumbles my eye, confuses where to look - I like it this way. This photo could use a white border to help set it off. I WANT it to be confusing, wondering which way it goes, which side is up, etc.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Homely Quilt, a re-built Log Cabin

Yeahhh - it's done! It turned out so much better than it looked when only a quilt top! Quilting DOES make the quilt. This starts out as a traditionial Log Cabin, but with some manipulation, I call it a ReBuilt Log Cabin. Look at that unexpected zig-zag effect. On the lower photo, you'll see the bunch of nearly ugly fabrics that were used. The sandwiching was done last Sunday, and it was finished Friday night. The border, (Jewel Box, or Buckeye Beauty blocks) works well as a border, but I'm not sure it 'goes' with this quilt. However, the entire project is quirky enough to be OK.

Look at some of my nearly-uglies used.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Quilting Makes the Quilt

In my last post, I showed a Rebuilt Log Cabin top, that I call my "Homely Quilt." It didn't have much going for it, but I felt sure when it quilted, it would be just fine - I am right! I have 3 more wide borders only - my goodness I couldn't stop once I started quilting it!

Below are some photos of free-motion quilting in the 8 inch border. I'm liking it!

These snakey things are 2 flexible rulers I have that I use to get a similar curve on each corner and side.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Sandwiching, MQ'ing, last of Fall

What a lovely afternoon - probably the last of our fall season. My back yard is very small, but I LOVE the shadows. Below is the last of our hail-damage issues to be resolved. What a mess this room was for days, but the ceiling has been replaced, walls painted, and mess was cleaned up nicely. EVERYTHING had to be covered, taped with plastic to keep the 'popcorn ceiling' stuff from spreading everywhere.

This outfit on MY DH is HIS version of proper "Retirement" garb. Being properly dressed is no longer for him - I will see this on him all winter. Groannnn! I'm getting ready to sandwich a quilt in the garage.
Helen in the UK, posted photos of HER Mq'ing that she learned from the Pajama Quilter. I watched that segment 6 times today, and think I've got it! Here is my practice sandwich.
I'll call this my "Homely Quilt" for now - it's another Rebuilt Log Cabin done entirely with all the junky strips in the drawer. I tried out a different, totally unrelated border. But it's ready for machine quilting and I'm thinking that when completed, it will prove that "Quilting Makes the Quilt!"