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Wednesday, November 30, 2005

It's Beginning to Look a Little bit like Christmas

Slowly but surely, the boxes that are being brought up from the basement are starting to reveal all those goodies I always forget about until I see them again! Here are a few of the "littles" that I decorate with around the house.

This is one of the first quilts I made - or at least one of the first wallhangings, anyway. I think it's about 50" square. I handquilted hearts until I lost the template, then freehanded hearts some more. Then I got tired of that because I chose a very difficult (called CHEAP) batting that my fingers couldn't handle, and then I tied it in the cornerstones and called it good. I use it on my table between the sofas in the hearth room, and my hubby says the little black heart is his for his little bit of humbuggedness during the season!

I did this wallhanging at an overnight retreat at a local quilt shop. It's about 45" square. Yes, I was one of those folks who stayed up all night, mostly giggling and drinking hot cocoa. I decided I wanted things a bit more 3-D, so I added the coiled metal wreath, and stuffed some imitation candies in the stocking after I got home. The bow on the outside border is about 5 spools of Offray ribbon just coiled where it wanted to lay, and tacked down with little jingle bells.

The yo-yos that make up the tree have buttons of significance - my girl scout uniform button, a button from a practice husband's coat, and some buttons from my Mom's button box. I love the sparkly snowflakes on the background. This wallhanging greets people in my entry way hall.

This "little" is probably one of my favorites, though I always have a difficult time finding a spot to put her, even though she's only about 12" X 18". I guess you could say she was one of my first "ahas" using Tonee White's Appliquilt technique. The lace circles are from one of my old dress collars, the doily is one that my Granny crocheted long ago, and I used and entire hank of embroidery thread for her hair. The bow has a bell in it, and it is simply a pretty ribbon that came on some package the day I was fooling around with this. Not much, but something a little fun, and it certainly spells out my mood in this season!

Monday, November 28, 2005

Crazy Chickens

Everyone is asking what I use to fill the chicken pincushions with? Well, you go to your local big pet store chain like PetSmart and go to the bird section. You will be able to buy a BIG bag of crushed walnut shells for about $5.00. This made 6 pincushions. They are heavy enough to make a nice weight, but not so heavy as to make it difficult to move. The shells also keep the pins sharp - after all, that's what birds use to sharpen their beaks!

I think, rather than posting the instructions, I would rather send you a copy of the instructions via email. That way I don't infringe on Miss Rosie's copyright by posting the instructions to the world. She *did* say I could share it with a few of my friends, so let me know what your personal email is, and I'll send it to you that way. OK?

They're quick and fun to make. And once you start, you can't stop making them. I have another two on the cutting table right now. They are great for preprinted panels, leftovers, anything your hearts desire!!!! You can make them any size you want, but I found that about a 6"-7" square (times two) is about the right size.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Best laid plans....

For the last three days, I've gone to bed saying the same thing as when I got up. Today is a sewing day! And each day, something happens that keeps me from getting there.

First on Friday, it was getting all the outgoing presents wrapped and shipped to the right and left coasts of the United States. Doesn't sound like much, eh? Well, the right coast has 4 children (nieces and nephews) and a mother father (SIL and BIL). Their box had 28 gifts inside! The left coast has 2 grandchildren and a son. Their box contained 2 fleece blankies, and 18 gifts inside. The largest gift for my son had to be packed today after I found a box big enough for it!

I also finished up my Quilting Buddy Santa exchange gifts on Thursday. Now, I have them all packed and ready to go tomorrow. I can't post the pictures here yet, lest she sees what is in her box.

That was Friday and part of Saturday. We went to the post office yesterday morning, and when we got home from breakfast, the weather was SO BEAUTIFUL! I think it was in the 70's!!! So we decided to take advantage of the nice day, and finished up the trimming in the garden. Now, that meant 23 bushes around the house and in the central garden bed!!!! While Kevin was finishing cleaning up that mess, I started on the outdoor Christmas decorations. I only got so far as to put out the 10 wreaths with red bows along the walkway to the deck, and along the front of the house, before I had to call it quits! Today it is supposed to be raining, so unless we get another nice day, there will be no Christmas lights outside at our house!

So, today is a sewing day! LOL!

I am going to finish up my Pollo Loco pincushions.

That is what Clyde is sleeping on right now.

After that I need to finish up a baby quilt top and I'll post a picture of that when it's ready to go. THEN I am going to break down some of the sewing tables and start on the big Christmas tree.


Thursday, November 24, 2005

Kitchen Tales

No, this isn't a tale of my Thanksgiving kitchen. I am living vicariously through all of my Quilt Mavericks friends for those tales. Today, we will be having a day of Thanks with my Mother at her retirement community dining room. We will have standing rib roast, turkey, ham and all the fixings. The only thing we won't have will be the leftovers, which I dearly love!

Today's tale is about the little Kitchen Tales wallhanging that I completed for my friend, Sandy Brown, who died unexpectedly a couple of months ago in her sleep. She had started the redwork, and it was sent to me to finish. The cherry fabric and the red fabric were fat quarters that were in a box of her fabric that was also shared with me. After re-thinking the border, I was able to finally get it done with no additional fabric! The doily adds a touch of whimsey and makes it feel more like a friendly kitchen tale at the table, I think,

Anyway, it's done now; quilted, bound, and hanging sleeve attached. It's all wrapped and waiting for the mail to leave tomorrow to go back to Sandy's family in CA. I am thankful today to have known my friend, Sandy.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Life is a bowl of cherries

I know I shouldn't be working on anything else but my own Christmas things, but I just can't help myself!

I pulled out my friend's (the lady who died unexpectedly) redwork and took it with me to stitch group Thursday night. I won't say anything about how they had to call me and ask me if I was coming or not. I knew stitch night was on Thursday, but was it Thursday, already? LOL!

Anyway, I got the redwork almost done, and then I finished it last night. Sooooo, I thought, well I'll just look through the fabric pieces that were sent to me and see if anything popped out to go with the redwork. I found the blue background with the red cherries that goes perfectly. I also found a piece of red for accent. The pattern that came with the redwork originally called for prairie points, but I thought of something I liked better. BUT, here's the deal. I've used up every scrap of the blue/cherries fabric, and it was only a fat quarter!

I am asking (really BEGGING) anyone reading this blog to check to see if you might have a little piece of the fabric in your stash. I only need 4 pieces that are 4" square. That's it! Of course, if you have more, it would be nice for the binding, but not necessary. I believe this piece is going back to the family. I'll post the finished picture of it when/if I get the last 4 pieces of fabric!

Please let me know if you do - I'd be willing to swap fabric or postage!

Thursday, November 17, 2005

3 of twelve or 6 of twenty-four!

I thought I would play a little catch up today and complete some monthly blocks I have committed to make. It should have been easy; a piece of cake as they say. Well, I'd like to have the piece of cake, please. Make it chocolate, too!

How many different ways can you sew one triangle to a half square triangle and still not have it be right? The answer is so many times, that I had to cut an entirely new triangle! Oh well, Mama said there would be days like this!

These blocks are from a local quilt store, Prairie Point Quilts. Each month they have a Block Party where you buy the pattern and fabric for $2.00. If you bring it back the following month, completed, the next block is $2.00. If for some reason you can’t get there or complete the block, then the kit is $5.00. At the end of 12 months, they present the settings choices, and each color range has a different completion for the blocks. The theme of the 2005 Block Party is “Forget Me Not”, honoring the women in our lives.

I couldn't decide which color to do. I always like blue, but I thought I should push myself a little, so I added the reds/browns too. It doesn't surprise me that I like the blue set better. The blue set is Washday Blues; the line is Mary's Favorite Blues circa 1800 from Windham Fabrics. The reds/browns are from Moda's Wuthering Heights lines, and the set is called Raspberry Truffle.

The first block is named “Addah” for all those able, active, adorable, adventurous, affectionate, agile, agreeable, ambitious, amusing, animated, ardent, articulate, attractive and audacious ladies whose names start with the letter A.

The second block, named “Mary” is for all those magical, magnanimous, magnificent, majestic, melancholic, marvelous, melodic, merry, mirthful, miraculous, mischievous, and sometimes mysterious women.

The third block (which showed me how many different WRONG ways there are to sew a triangle to a square) is “Thelma”. Women whose names begin with a T and those women who are talkative, talented, tantalizing, tempting, tender, thoughtful, thrifty, ticklish, tolerant, tranquil, trendy, trustful, twinkling, and truly a treasure are remembered this month.

Do not value the THINGS in your life, but value Who you HAVE in your life.”

OK! All I had to make was the last one for each color. It’s taken me most of the day! So now, I am all caught up again on these blocks - that is until the middle of next month! LOL!

I guess, it wouldn’t be such a bad idea to finish the very last one from last year’s Block Party, eh? I liked it much better. It’s called Border to Border, and each block had something significant about it regarding Kansas and Missouri (since the state line runs right through the metropolitan area), it’s quite appropriate with the story.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Christmas Cases

I've been sewing all day! The result is fancy TEN pillowcases!

I plan on using these as gift wrap for all the little girls and boys in our family for their Christmas gifts.

There are 2 each of the stripey background with girlie stuff on them, 2 each of the construction tools, two each of the cars with flames, and one of the black and white poodle girl and one of the fashion girls on pink.

So now those are done, and I can mark them off my list. BTW, I also make pillowcases if I have leftover fabric from the quilts I make, too. They make nice storage bags when the quilt isn't being used, and I also like to use them on the bed when the quilt is out. Makes it nice so I don't have to make the quilt quite as big to have a pillow roll.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Baby, it's cold outside!

Kevin with his beloved rag quilt in front of tonight's fire!

As you can see from my Weather Pixie, the winds are at 27 mph, and it is 36 degrees with 76% humitiy! It's COLD!

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Home again, home again - FABRIC!

FABRIC!! FABRIC!!! FABRIC!!! (Hear Sharon breathing hard!)

When we arrived home late Thursday night, sitting outside by my garage doors was a huge box! It weighed a ton, or so it seemed. I drug it inside along with our suitcases, and didn't touch it again until yesterday.

What was inside startled me! A friend of ours (Bonnie and I) died unexpectedly a while back. Her stash was divided between the small list of on-line friends, and I thought I had already received my part. I volunteered to finish up a couple of "started" quilts for her family, as well as make a Tom Sawyer quilt for her grandson. So, I was quite surprised to open this box and find more FABRIC!

I've gotten it washed now, and it's sitting here waiting for me to press it. Doesn't it make a pretty sight, just hanging on the back of the chair?

While I was taking pictures of it, I thought I would also show you my "stewdio". It is actually a formal (four season) sunroom on the south side of our house. When we moved my mother into the house, she took over my sewing area in the finished basement, so I had to find a new home. I started only with my sewing machine and one small table. Then, we moved Mother to a retirement community, and my hubby suggested I just take over this room. Isn't he a sweetie? I heard somewhere that you can call the room you sew in a studio if it is devoted to only sewing most of the time. Studio sounds so pretentious, so mine is called "stewdio", as it is where I do most of my stewing!

Now, onto pressing all this fabric, and planning what to do with it. It's all CHILDREN fabric - little girls, little boys, little girls and little boys, kids playing, kids posing, etc etc etc. Maybe some Linus quilts for our Neonatal unit next year?

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Home away from home

We left home to travel north for yet another surgery at Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN. We've been here so often in the last 18 months, it seems like a strange homecoming everytime we roll into town.

By sheer luck, in Spring 2004, I found a wonderful short-term lease apartment just three blocks away from the clinic. It is on the clinic shuttle route, and the WalMart van will come and pick you up to go shopping with just a telephone call. The apartments are always clean and bright; the staff is always smiling and concerned.

So here we are. My husband had a liver transplant (totally unexpected) in June 2004, and the anti-rejection medicines trashed his kidneys within 6 months. So, his brother gave him the wonderful gift of a kidney, and June 2005 found us here again, along with brother for kidney transplant. A small incisional hernia developed from the liver transplant, and that's what is being fixed this trip. It was a minor surgery, and he even got to come home afterward. Home to the apartment, that is!

So, he's in bed, knocked out from the pain pills, and I've been sewing up a storm. I always bring my sewing machine and enough projects to last a year, it seems! I can't describe what I am working on, lest the people I am sewing Christmas presents for are reading this blog.

The weather was really nice the last couple of days, but today we are getting winds from the north. I think Autumn is over here in the northland! We hope to return to Kansas tomorrow, if his pain is under control.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Fleur Finale!

Les Fleurs de Jardin has finally been completed! I decided to take out all the previous machine quilting I had done, because I just didn't like it. I've spent all the extra time since I posted the original blog about this, adding some of the hand quilted parts and I like it much better now.

The stems and leaves were originally trapunto, and I think that detracted from the overall look, so they had to be re-worked too. I like the handquilting and the couched threads much better.

On this section, I added some fancy embroidery stitches and a few beads to emphasize the movement in the flower.

This is the center section that was paper-pieced. I added more of the couched embroidery threads here to give the three pieces unity.

This was a fun project to do with a couple of friends, I just wish it hadn't taken so long! It all starteda Hallmark card that I can't find right now, but when I do, it has a pocket on the back of the wallhanging so it can stay with the piece.

What is more interesting, is that I kept this piece for about 10 years before I completed it. I can look at the components and see what I've learned technique-wise, but more importantly, I look at the whole and see the colors that I liked ten years ago are still high on my list!