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Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Sandra Dallas Book give-away

Last week Anne at The Book Report Network contacted me about Sandra Dallas' new book, Whiter than Snow.  She's going to send me the book, and I'll write a review here after I read it.  AND!  She's also going to send a free book to the winner of my give-away drawing.  How great is that? You all know that one of my other passions besides quilting is reading.  So I am pretty darned excited about being able to offer this book to you as a blog give-away in celebration of ....what?....hmmmm?....How about to celebrate "quilters who read" or "readers who quilt"?  LOL!

All you have to do to enter this give-away contest is to leave a comment on this blog post.  Be sure to tell your friends about it, too and if they mention YOUR name in THEIR entry, your name will be entered again.  Make sure that I can contact you by email so I can get the right information for the book to be sent to you.  All names will be given a randomized number, and the drawing will be held on July 4th.  HURRY and get the word out for the free book!  And if you have a blog, please feel free to re-post the copyrighted comments from Sandra Dallas, and list my give-away, too.

You can learn more about Sandra Dallas and her books at Here's what Sandra Dallas has to say about her writing:

Nothing defines my characters more than their sewing.

In my first novels, my female characters smoked. My books are set in earlier times, long before we knew about the evils of tobacco, when a woman who smoked was independent, a little daring, sophisticated.  As a writer, I could do so much with smoking:  A character could watch the smoke curl up or blow smoke into someone’s face. She could pick a speck of tobacco off her lip or snuff out a cigarette in anger. And there was all that wonderful smoking paraphernalia, such as Bakelite cigarette holders, monogrammed cigarette boxes, and remember those huge standing ashtrays with sand in them?     

But today, smoking says something negative about a character, no matter what the time period. So my characters have quit smoking.  Instead, they quilt.

The way a woman stitches says something about her.  A woman who takes small, even stitches is different from one who sews with big, sloppy stitches. A quilter who selects black and white fabrics for her quilt is more somber than one who picks primary colors.  And the patterns the women choose, whether an intricate design with thousands of pieces or a big, bold pattern of large blocks, say something about them.

The titles of the quilts, too, affect the stitchers.  Log cabin quilts were a favorite of women who helped escaped slaves on the Underground Railroad.  More than one pioneer woman pieced a Road to California before setting out for the West.  And it’s hard to imagine that a woman who likes her toddies would make a Drunkard’s Path.

My characters don’t just sew.  They are part of a community of stitchers—the quilting circle.  I first wrote about a quilting circle in The Persian Pickle Club, thinking there were a few quilters out there who might relate to the subject.  What I didn’t know was there are 27 million of them and that they understand the significance of the quilting circle far better than I. So I’ve included sewing in virtually all of my books, to a greater (Prayers for Sale) or lesser (Whiter Than Snow) degree.

What these readers know is that quilting isn’t just about making bed covers.  In a quilting circle, women support each other.  They share each other’s joys and sorrows, help in times of need, pull together when a member is threatened or in trouble.  Quilting is a way of sharing, and the work of the women’s hands represents warmth and comfort not only because they are making a quilt but because that quilt is made with love.

I’ve often been asked if I’m a quilter.  Some years ago, I wrote The Quilt That Walked to Golden, a history of quilting in the Rocky Mountain States, for the Rocky Mountain Quilt Museum in Golden, Colo. In the book, I write that quilting all but died out during World War II, and the women who picked up their needles a generation later were often self-taught.  They did things no self-respecting quilter would do today, such as use polyester fabric or quilt in the ditch (on the seam line.)  I tell of one woman who made a quilt for her sister as a wedding present, a stuffed quilt made of huge puffs filled with cotton.  She didn’t know when to stop stuffing, and as a result, the quilt weighed 25 pounds. Their brother had to take it to the wedding in the back of his pickup.

But my sister cherished the quilt anyway.

© Copyright 2010 by Sandra Dallas. Reprinted with permission from the author.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

The Magic Bus

On my way to somewhere else on the Internet, I discovered this knitted bus. What a hoot! I think it is in India or Pakistan, but there was no language on the site at all, so we are left to ponder it's origins. It was part of a community art project, I can tell you that. There were knitted sweaters for the trees, and for the parking meters, but the bus is what I truly enjoyed.

So, as I am thinking about the vision that the knitted bus project had to take and how many people worked on it, my little Seasons project (used to be Treeze and Leavez) didn't seem like such a big deal. I'm going to keep the knitted Magic Bus in my thoughts as I work through the next stages.

I've made my first cuts, and now I am pondering the windows.

I've thought about many different things that could be inside, but now I think I might have it.  

I went to JoAnn's yesterday to just browse around in fabrics to get ideas.  While I was there, the sky just opened up and poured, which required I spend a great deal more time than originally planned.  And that was a good thing!  I saw the most beautiful Sari and brocaded fabrics, and thought to myself that they just might be the trick.  I had taken the photos that I had already printed on Habotai Silk, and matched them to the fabrics.  While I was waiting to have the fabrics cut, I think I made another new friend.  We talked about my project, the fabrics and sewing in general.  I even got to show her the transfer fabrics I like to use (Blumenthal Crafter's Images), which she had not heard of before.  It gave her an idea for her own project, so that's a good thing, too.  Hi, Irma!

This is Spring and Fall - there are two others waiting with their choices of fabric, too.  I just hope the pictures and windows are large enough.
Now, all I have to do is prepare them for the windows.  The will require some careful cutting, stitching, and beading before they get installed.  But I don't think it will be today.  The windows, the pictures and the fabric all have to simmer in my brain before I start again.  So now, they are waiting patiently in the Stewdio with their templates cut and ready.  Before that happens, there's grand-girls to be fed and entertained with our Sunday dinner.  Maybe the Magic Bus will still be waiting for me in the morning?  Just so The Who's lyrics can stick in your brain, too.....

Every day I get in the queue (Too much, the Magic Bus)

To get on the bus that takes me to you (Too much, the Magic Bus)

I'm so nervous, I just sit and smile (Too much, the Magic Bus)
Your house is only another mile (Too much, the Magic Bus)
Thank you, driver, for getting me here (Too much, the Magic Bus)
You'll be an inspector, have no fear (Too much, the Magic Bus)
I don't want to cause no fuss (Too much, the Magic Bus)
But can I buy your Magic Bus? (Too much, the Magic Bus)
Magic Bus, Magic Bus, Magic Bus, Magic Bus, Magic Bus...
I want the Magic Bus, I want the Magic Bus, I want the Magic Bus...

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Cutting Up!

Remember this?
I've worked on it more, and now I've decided that I just don't like it.  It doesn't sing to me.  It looks like spiders crawling through red and orange dust. So here's what I am going to do next:

I am going to CUT IT UP!!!  No, not really cut it totally up.  I am just going to make some of those "windows" I was trying to find out about last spring.  You'll just have to trust me.  I think this will work.  But just in case, send any of that quilting fairy dust my way and hold your breath.

News tomorrow!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

I went to the Fabri-Quilt Warehouse last week to choose fabric for aprons. Aprons, you ask? My quilt guild is making aprons for the Boutique for the fall Quilt show, and I decided to have new, fresh fabric for them, rather than using things from my Resource Center. Of course, I needed to purchase it in bulk, and I only had a certain amount for the apron budget. Can you see where this is going? After I cut some for myself, I still have oodles of it left. So, I am going to offer it to YOU for a really great price. Check out the page that says Fabric for sale on the right. It's all NEW fabric and quilt shop quality! Then let me know how much you'd like to add to YOUR resource center! LOL!

And from time to time in the future, I'll have other color bundles for sale, too.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

We interrupt this quilting for....

5" of rain in less than an hour last night. Bye, bye veggies! Bye, bye chairs! Hello, Pendleton's Market to pick green beans instead of picking them from the garden. I swear we are NOT going to put another dime or an ounce of sweat into this garden until we figure out how to get the water run off under control!

White caps in the garden?

And it just keeps coming!

I really don't need a swimming pool at this house, do I?

This is our foot bridge over the creek, under the water. Surf's up!

Is that the Loch Ness monster I see?

Silly me! I waited for the storm to pass, then I went out to a stitch group meeting across town. Well, I got out of the area onto the main highway, and then traffic just crawled. It took 95 minutes to get there instead of 20 minutes. When I tried to come home, I couldn't get here! I have two roads that access where we live, and they were both barricaded because of the high creeks. So I drove south on a main road, and headed back north where there weren't any creeks. Sheesh, can't someone else take some of this rain? At least we were lucky and didn't get the micro bursts and tornado that was just southeast of us by about 8 miles.

Tomorrow I am hoping to see the grand kids for a bit, finish the last of the recipe proof reading, and then sew some more orts. I NEED to sew a LOT of orts to get me over this rain mess!

Monday, June 07, 2010

Treeze and leaveze

First, you shred them up.  It's a great stress reducer, slicing and dicing your way through all the left over scraps and pieces.  A friend of mine calls these scraps, ORTs.  It's a real word, you know!

ort (├┤rt)
  1. A small scrap or leaving of food after a meal is completed. Often used in the plural.
  2. A scrap; a bit.
Origin: Middle English ortefood left by animals, probably from Middle Dutch : oorout; see ud- in Indo-European roots + etento eat; see ed- in Indo-European roots.

Next, you rinse away the magic sheet (officially called Sulky Solvable) that you sewed all over the orts inside.  *A side note: Of course, I've been using the pre-packaged EXPENSIVE stuff and I've been complaining heartily about the steep increase in the product.  That's when I found out that you can buy the darned stuff on the bolt at Jo Ann's with your coupon, fer cryin' out loud.  The stuff I've been buying is small and narrow; on the bolt is quite a bit wider, so it would be a lot easier to use, I think!  

So, once, it's all rinsed out, this is what you have to dry on a towel before using.  They're all connected, but in some places, light and airy.  You can hardly see the threads holding it all together.  This is where I have a lot of fun with the orts.  I add pieces of onion, potato, avocado (thanks Seaside Stitchers), and carrot bags.  As long as it is natural fiber of some sort and the color is good, it often shows up inside my ortwork.  I also add threads that friends have given me, yarns and any other things that might give a nice, texture and or color.  I've even added little sticks!

Next, I started adding it to the places where I wanted to emphasize some leafy texture.  After about an hour of playing with it on the design wall, I decided it just wasn't working.  Nope, I didn't like it much because it looked too flat.  Now, that's sort of hard to do, since the ortwork is three dimensional! So I started using the last scraps of what I had left from the trunks (and there's not much!) to see if I could emphasize the trees.  Maybe, just maybe...
I think I'm finally getting somewhere!

Work continues Tuesday, and hopefully it will be ready to quilt by the end of the week.  We'll see....we'll just see.  One never knows what those orts will do in the meantime!

Friday, June 04, 2010

Scraps of thread tales

Today, Mayo, the Wonder Dog and I are ready to roll again on the cookbook for the guild.  Mayo double checks the names in our guild membership book while I check their recipes on the computer.  Did I tell you about the recipe book already?  Maybe not.  I don't know what possessed me to ask, but I did, and I discovered that our guild has never done a cookbook.  Now, I don't know about you, but most quilters are pretty darned good cooks.  Well, at least they cook the way I like to.  You know what I'm talking about - good, wholesome food that's pretty easy to do?

Over the last two months, we've collected 300 recipes for the book.  THREE HUNDRED!!!!  Now, I am wrapping up the book by trying proofing all the recipes, getting the personal pages coordinated, and I hope that it will be ready to go to the printers by the middle of this month.  HOORAY!  This should be a great money maker for the guild this year.  We plan on selling them at our November show, but if you want one before then, just leave me a comment or an email, and I can make arrangements to send you one.  They are selling for only $10.00 each, and I can ship one at media mail rates for about $3.00.  Of course if you want more, the mailing rate doesn't go up by much at all.  They make great Christmas gifts, too!

This is our Crazy Dog, getting ready to go out to his sentry post in my garden this year.  Each year, as he ages, more and more parts go awry, just like mine do.  This year, wonder bond glue and duct tape did the trick.  He had a shattered ear, and two broken back legs.  Last year he only broke one of his legs, so somewhere during the winter, he had a fight, I think.  I don't think he will be going to the spa this year like last year for a new color.  It's sort of late and I need him in the garden, watching over all my strawberries!

I'm hoping to get a majority of the "leaf" embellishment completed on the WIP today.  I went to stitch group last night, and in two separate conversations, the same idea came that I had already thought through and actually had begun before I left home. There was one slight difference, and I have to think about that one before I commit to it though.  Here's where I started before I sat down to make this blog entry:

My sewing machine is out of it's bed in my sewing table, and of course, you know that no flat surface shall go unadorned in a sewing room.  So Clyde has come to the rescue.

So now, I am off to make those parts I've promised myself.  I MUST get them done!!!!!!

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

And sew it grows!

I've been having so much trouble sewing one row to another.  I've pinned the row number on each row, starting with #1 and ending with #14.  Shouldn't be hard, right?  Well, as usual, I've made it more difficult than necessary, and I ended up sewing the right side to the left side middle instead of the middle middle, and a couple of other rows wrong too.  So yesterday, I just screamed stopped, and took apart everything I had sewn during the day, pressed them out, laid them out, and started over today.  Sometimes, I think I must have been sleeping through those important classes, ya know?

How did I ever sew anything before I got Mayo, the Wonder Dog?  Here she is telling me which row goes where.  If you look closely to her right, you'll see Clyde holding down extra fabric on his Big Board last night.

Here's Clyde today, making sure the piece stays flat so I don't need to press it out again while I sew more rows.  Of course, the black cat hairs will add extra dimension, I am sure.

So all the rows are together in the proper positions.  Now the real work begins - surface design.  I made a few free-hand machine thread painted embroidered leaves tonight, and I don't like them.  Well I like THEM, I just don't like what they do don't do for the quilt.  So, my thinking cap is back on.  I've exchanged my sleeping cap for it in hopes that tomorrow will be a new day for new ideas.  Got any?

Tuesday, June 01, 2010


I spent Saturday sewing with the Bohemian Art Group gals (BAG ladies), and it was so nice to have an entire day to ourselves, sewing and laughing.  I've gotten quite a bit done on the trees.  No picture yet, though.  Maybe later tonight?

While I was gone, Hubby and Mayo the Wonder Dog worked in the garden.  Son, Bryan arrived with girls in tow for Sunday dinner of taco salads, and we got him to run the tiller (yet again).  This is the last time we are planting the garden - we've gotten washed out 3 times now.  Maybe this one is the charm?  Well, that and the straw bales I picked up at Ace Hardware to block the gully washers running amok!

I was all ready to plant the Gerbera daisies along the front of the garden bed closest to the house where we sit, too.  So I got all my tools, got down on my knees, and all the while Mayo was going nuts jumping back and forth in the mulch close to the house, barking and dancing.  When I looked up, stretched across the front steps of the porch was this thing.

 I didn't have the camera with me, so I had to run in through the gararge (far away from the front steps of the house).  By the time I got back Mayo had it on the run!
You can run, but you can't hide!  Not even in the tangle of cords to run the trimmer and blower!  I guess I'll thing twice or three times even, before I reach my hand into a shadow now in the garden!
This has been determined to be a common "rat snake" of Missouri.  He was about 5 1/2'- 6' long, stretched out when he was scooting across the mulch, so we estimate him to be at least two years old - no older because his gray markings weren't more distinct, and there weren't enough red scales showing.  He's one of the "good" snakes, because he will eat the rodents that are in the fields around our house, but I hope he doesn't get into our blue bird houses.  I think we'll have to put the carpet tack strips up the pole to make sure those babies are safe!

So what's a post without some sort of fiber picture?  Here's one from a teacher who was at MQX this year, Sue Patten.  I am not familiar with her work, but I sure do like her humor! Thread painting is not my thing either, but this one just made me laugh!

Today, I am planning on working on the trees piece.  So next post should be lots of pictures of color!!