Saturday, December 31, 2011

Wishing Everyone a Happy New Year

Well, it's not quite here yet, but my wishes are:  Happy New Year 2012!  I admit I found this photo online, but it seems to be a free wallpaper so I hope I interpreted that correctly and have the right to post it.  If not and the creator will just let me know, I will remove it immediately.  I am extremely careful not to violate copyrights.  It's just such a perfect representation of washing away the old year and moving into the new - so kudos to whomever created it!

Of course I have quilting goals for 2012 and many others as well.  In fact, 2012 is going to start out with a long list of the most ambitious resolutions I have ever created. There are 10 things on the list and each one in itself would be a major achievement.  Rather than list them here (and maybe have to admit publicly that I didn't achieve them), I am going to wait until the end of each month and post which of them I have achieved for the month.  Some are monthly goals, some are bi-monthly goals, and some are things that I simply hope to complete by the end of the year.  I guess my thought is that the things I want to do are moving along at too slow of a pace to suit me, so I am stepping up to the plate this year!
Health, happiness, and a year of achievement are wished to each one of you.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

After Christmas

I hope that everyone had a wonderful Christmas.  We did!  The weather has been so warm though that it really doesn't feel much like Christmas temperature-wise.  I have some azaleas in bloom and they are not even the reblooming kind!

I have been waiting until after Christmas to post some pictures of things that I made in December.  The first is a lighthouse quilt that turned out so pretty.  I began to wish that I had a display rack so I could have gotten a better picture of it.  The pattern is my own creation.

I also made some cloth napkins for a swap that I do with some of my crafty friends.  A member of my quilt guild taught us how to make these.  Hopefully I can make more of them next year for other friends.  Here is one of the napkins pictured below.  They fold up so they look like a Christmas Tree.

The New Year will be here before we know it.  It's time to ponder what to put on my New Year's Resolution List.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Embroidery Completed!

I decided to embroider bibs for my triplet grandsons as one of their Christmas presents and got those done this afternoon.  Wouldn't you know I forgot to take a picture of them!  They are all wrapped and boxed up now and waiting to be shipped to CA so this will have to do.

I bought the bibs at Kohl's and they happened to have a picture of them on their web site.  What you see here is the part that is already embroidered on the bibs when you buy them.  Underneath that I embroidered the name of each boy and then on the fourth one I just labeled it "Triplet."  The sayings will appeal to my daughter and son-in-law:

What I especially liked was that there was such a nice large space at the bottom to add their names.

I am still working on hand stitching the binding on a quilt that is to be a Christmas gift so I need to get back to work on it.  I hope everyone is getting closer and closer to being ready for Christmas!  The days have flown by this month.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Christmas Stocking

Here is the Christmas stocking that I made recently.  I have had this crocheted pattern for ages and made some like these for my husband and me when we first got married.  I added to them as more family members came along.  The stocking pictured below is one of a set that I made for my younger daughter and her husband so they could have stockings at their house.  (It was already given to her so I can post the picture - Gamecock colors!)  Other things I have been working on still need to be a secret so that's all I can say.

I was ready to go to a Christmas luncheon with some quilting friends today and our automatic garage door opener quit working with my car inside so needless to say I was stuck here waiting for a repair person to get here and get it repaired.  I'm all set now - Freedom!  (It was a major thing with the big spring breaking so it wasn't something I could have handled myself.  Don't you hate it when someone comes out and it was something really simple?  I know that happens to people.)

Here's a little update on Sydney.  We were convinced she didn't know how to ask to go outside when she needed a bathroom break so we tried hanging bells on the door.  She will touch them on command to ring them before we go out the door, but I'm not sure she has put 2 and 2 together to understand that she needs to ring them to alert us when she needs to go out.  Oh, well, no accidents since the bells went up so I guess that is the main thing.  I think she will soon qualify to be a holiday bell ringer in front of one of the stores!

Is there some new secret to posting comments here?  I have tried several times in the last few weeks to post comments when friends add pictures, information, etc. and it asks me to log in again and then I don't seem to be able to add the comment anyway.  If you haven't heard from me that why.  I sure would like to figure out what the problem is.  I can add my posts just fine.

Well, good luck with the holiday preparations.  It's a wonderful time of the year, but a very busy time, too!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone.  I hope you have a wonderful day tomorrow.

Wow, from year to year how do I forget how busy this time of the year gets?  I have begun Christmas shopping and our weather has been so pretty that I have been trying to get some things done in the yard - had to skip that most of the fall because of my injuries - and it's time to get the house cleaned up before these major holidays.  I even did a bit of gardening..  I planted some garlic a few weeks ago and it is growing so well!
As for what I am working on in the quilting/craft world, I am finishing up a crocheted Christmas stocking and working on a round for the Round Robin I am in.  I also completed the last of the Birthday Blocks for the Quilt Forum Birthday Block Exchange and made some Christmas napkins.  There are so many quilting projects to get back to --- not for a few more days though.  Maybe Sunday will be a good day for sewing!
I'll post some pictures of what I am working on soon.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

November Update

I didn't realize so much time had gone by since I posted the last time.  Things have been busy here.  Our new puppy, Sydney, is still doing great.  Here she is with her most recent toy - Angry Bird.

She has been here less than 3 weeks, but both my husband and I think she has grown since she got here.  Her behavior is still excellent.  You get to laugh at her now and then.  She had been barking at animals on the TV whether they were dogs or dinosaurs, but today it seems she finally decided they weren't real and quit barking - or maybe we just told her "Quiet" enough times.  When someone came to the door last week, he said she looks like an Australian Cattle Dog and she may have some of that breed in her.  It is always fun to try to guess what she might be!
I have been busy on the quilting front.  What I have been working on lately is a Christmas gift though so it is top secret like in Santa's Workshop.  I can't show a picture.
I love the temperatures this time of the year, but I don't like that it gets dark so early.  It seems like by 6:30 p.m. you start to think it is time for bed.
I'll be back soon to discuss a book or pattern!  Have a good week.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Happy Halloween

Things have been very busy lately which is why there has been a delay in posting.  Last weekend I was at Pieceable Retreat which is held annually in White Oak by the Quilters of South Carolina.  What a lovely weekend we had - and a special hello to the ladies who took my class:  Fun Techniques Using the X-Blocks Ruler!

I came back from retreat and did some more follow up on my search for a new dog.  I hope no one thinks we disrespect our dog or loved her any less because of this, but my way to heal is to give a good home to another dog in need of a family.  We truly loved our dog and miss her still.  I will admit that this is the first time I have selected a rescue dog.  We always purchased a purebred puppy prior to this.  However, I discovered and was on my way.  You can type in the type of animal you want, age, breed, sex, and special members of your household - in my case, cat - and also can ask for one that is already house trained.  Chances are the pet you find will already have her shots, been dewormed, and had a little bit of training as well.  (I had lots of motivation to do this because I adopted a cat about a year and a half ago after finding him on and he is the best behaved and most beautiful cat I have ever owned!)

Fast forward and you will see that we now have Sydney!  She is about 6-8 months old and comes from Diamond in the Ruff in Seneca, SC.   The CEO of the rescue group not only rescues but also rehabilitates dogs.  Sydney came to them from a shelter.  I adopted her with most of her health needs taken care of - she had her Rabies shot, is spayed, had been microchipped, etc. and she is sweet, willing, and anxious to please.   I can tell that this will be another success story.  If you are looking for a pet, please consider adopting a pet in need of a home.  Sydney and my family wish you a Happy Halloween!

More on the quilting front:  I said I would try to continue reviewing patterns and books regularly so you could read about them.  This time my book is Nickel Quilts & Borders by Pat Speth.  I heard about this book at the retreat that I went to in North Carolina several weeks ago.  I was especially interested in buying it because I am in a round robin group and it will be a big help in trying to decide on my round to be attached.

The book contains 7 quilts designs and 260 border designs all based on using 5" squares.  I can't imagine not being able to find something that will work with each quilt that comes to me now.  The hard part will be picking out which one to use and deciding on colors.
Until next time, happy quilting!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Slice 'Em & Dice 'Em

It was a very sad week last week with the loss of our dog.  For two days I was far too miserable to get anything done.  After my injury 4 weeks ago and all the stress of our sick dog, I have a long "to-do list" to deal with!  However, my husband and I went to the S.C. State Fair on Friday.  It was a beautiful day, but was it ever crowded!  It seemed like we sat in traffic forever before we got to park.  Congratulations to my many quilting friends who won ribbons.

I said I would try to review a pattern or book each week so I photographed the cover of one of my favorite books yesterday and will write a little about it.  It is Slice 'Em & Dice 'Em by Nancy Brenan Daniel.

These techniques are similar to what you may know as the Split 9 Patch or Disappearing 9 Patch.  Some are pretty simple in terms of how they are cut and sewn and some are more complicated.  The sizes of the quilts vary quite a bit and I like that there are some in the book that can be made rather quickly to use as a gift. The patterns include:

Easy Does It
Jelly Beans
Scrap Bag Shadow Boxes
The Village
Trip Around the Scrap Basket
Arizona Road Trip
Spring Baskets (the quilt shown on the cover)
Watermelon Baskets
Autumn Stars
Small Medallion
Blue Medallion
Blue OP
Floating Grid
Large Blue Star
Tuscan Stars
Nautical Stars
Plaid Stars
Provincial Stars

I have used the pattern for "Nautical Stars" several times.  It was the pattern I selected when making quilts for my newborn grandsons.  I like that it has a large panel of fabric in the center which was great to show off the Dr. Seuss fabric we chose.  The quilt finishes up at 33 1/2 x 33 1/2" - a great size for a baby quilt.  Here is a picture of one of the quilts that I made using the "Nautical Stars" pattern.

I definitely plan to try out some of the other patterns in the book.
I hope that everyone has a good week ahead!

Monday, October 10, 2011

NC Retreat at Camp Cheerio

The Quilt Forum on GardenWeb has a retreat each fall and I returned from that beautiful location yesterday.  We have a wonderful time sewing, playing games, eating wonderful food, and sharing our lives and quilts.  I thought you would like to see a few pictures from this year.

This is the building where we sew.  We have the entire second floor and on Saturday afternoon the quilts are hung outside for a beautiful quilt show.  As you can see, the weather is very cooperative!

One of the ladies who came this year was able to sketch the scene and it will be framed and presented to the camp.  We do something special for them each year because they are so good to us.

Here is a group picture of the ladies who were there this year.  We also had two husbands who came along with their wives and we couldn't do without them.  They were so good about carrying our many quilting supplies, fabric, and sewing machines up and down the stairs.  Bless them.  Can you imagine how much stuff we brought?

I wanted to list the good things first.  However, some of you read about how sick my dog has been only to rally and then do worse and then a little better.  Anyway, by last evening we had to make the decision to have her put to sleep today.  She had a good life and will be missed so much.  Golden Retrievers are truly the best!  Thank you for all the wonderful memories, Crystal.  Rest peacefully until we see you again.  The tears have been flowing all day.

Monday, October 3, 2011

What am I working on now?

My fall two weeks ago has resulted in lots of sewing.  I can't do a lot outdoors right now although I sure wish I could!
Over the past two days I sewed two of the birthday blocks for the Quilt Forum Birthday Block Exchange on GardenWeb (I'm not showing those because they need to be surprises...) and sewed some of the items I need to take to the N.C. retreat at Camp Cheerio later this week and now I am making a place mat from the pattern Sweet Liberty by Patricia Pepe (  This pattern has been a lot of fun to work with.  I should be able to finish this place mat tomorrow.

In order to make it, you need to have two corresponding sizes of the X-Block Rulers.  This one is being made using the 7.5 X-Block Ruler and the Mini 7.5.  If scrappy is not your thing, you can make these patterns using fabric that is not so scrappy.  However, the pattern picture shows it being rather scrappy and that's the way I am going with it.

My plan is to try to highlight and discuss a pattern or a book every week from now on.  That's another thing I have been doing since I got hurt - browsing online and yes, some books already arrived and I have some new fabric on order, too!  I love books about quilting.  You should see how full my bookshelves are!
I will try to take my laptop with me to Camp Cheerio (assuming there is room) and post from there a time or two.  I have plans to get a lot done at this retreat, but sometimes my optimism is  too great!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Fabric Books - Completed!

The fabric books for my grandsons are not only completed, but they have been washed and mailed!  Making them was definitely an adventure, but they washed really well and I think the boys will really enjoy them.

Once I completed them I made the center for a round robin that I will be participating in and finished that late last night.  The border is the brown fabric that you see... I simply put a decorative edge on the photo that I posted.  I thought long and hard about fabrics and designs and finally went with something that said "Fall"  (...and not the kind that I had two weeks ago!)  The round robin will involve 4 people plus the originating quilter so once my round robin comes home, I will post another picture of how it turned out.
I still have way too many projects ahead of me so I'd better get back to work on my  fall endeavors.
Have a good weekend!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

More Fabric Book Pictures

The fabric books for my grandsons are all planned out, the sayings and pictures are added, and everything is sewn down nice and secure.  Some of the pages are already back-to-back with batting between them and the binding attached.  Others need that done and then I will sew ribbon to the binding side and tie the pages together with ribbon.  If you are wondering how I attached things to the pages I used Steam-a-Seam 2 and then used a zigzag stitch as well.  The Steam-a-Seam 2 says you do not need to sew it down, but with babies I figured the books will go in their mouths, need to be washed, etc. so I played it safe.  I will do a final washing before sending the books to them.   Here are some of the additional pages that I made over the last two days.

I had to acknowledge how hard their Mommy and Daddy work to take care of them!

Here I made use of the ruler fabric:

and acknowledge the doctors and nurses who took care of them as preemies
...teddy bears needed to be in there, too!

and here are the family dogs who are so good with the babies:

Some of the content was determined by the fabric I had on hand.  A few months ago I was hostess for a layer cake swap (fabric) and asked for fabrics that I could use in the books.  That resulted in turtles, fish, fruits, vegetables, fire trucks, and lots of other useful fabrics. I will post a picture of how the books look once they are complete with their ribbons.  Then I can mail them and get on to the next project!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Things are Improving

Not only am I doing better, but my dog is much better, too.  Wow, what a relief that she is now interested in eating again!  We are still having to tempt her a bit - she has begun to expect some ground beef with garlic powder mixed in with whatever else she gets in her bowl, but it is becoming less of a meal of special "people food" and more dog food.  What can I say, an elderly dog gets some special treatment!
On the quilting front, I am continuing to work on the fabric books for the triplets.  Also, this week I signed up to do a Round Robin.  I know everyone else who quilts probably did one long ago, but I have never done a Round Robin.  (I did a Row Robin a few years ago, but just don't feel like that counts towards it...)  Once I signed up I was busy looking through fabric and quilt magazines and quilt books trying to decide what to use for my center.  I think I have it figured out... if only I don't change my mind!
I know I am still promising pictures.  I will post some soon.  As you'll see I figured out how to add an extra page, so I will soon have some pictures of my triplet grandsons here at Ark Angels Quilting.  They are more awesome than anything I can quilt or sew!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Mother Goose

Here came our cooler weather which I was so happy about because I could finally spend some time outside working on my garden and riding my horse... and then on Saturday, I fell.  After 2 hours I wasn't improving a lot so off we went to the emergency room.  I have a fractured pelvis.  Not what I wanted to hear.  Anyway, I am at home so I am certainly glad about that and there is no treatment (surgery, etc.) involved with this - just takes time for it to heal.  I am walking carefully and slowly, but I am walking.
My husband went out yesterday to buy one of those walking canes with the pronged feet on it.  My - is it ever ugly!  I decided it needed a name and named it Mother Goose.  I have already started walking a lot without it.  I need to ditch Mother Goose as soon as I can!

I worked on the fabric baby books for my grandsons for a little while today.  Our poor dog is still very ill, but I cooked a hamburger patty for her this evening and she ate the whole thing.  She has been eating so little that it made my day.  I doubt I can go to the grocery store at this point, but I may need to send my husband to get some more hamburger tomorrow!  We have been trying every possible food that she might like - most of them without much success.
I'll post more pictures soon.  I know it's more boring to look at these posts without pictures.  Maybe I should take a picture of Mother Goose!  (Note: I originally posted this without the picture of Mother Goose, but here she is!  I can't help but think that I should have attached a beak or an apron or a pair of spectacles... or something to her...)

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Fabric Book in Progress

Working on the cover for Erik's book
and the back of the cover which will involve
the fabric with the rulers.

With my dog being sick, I have hardly left the house this week so I decided to work on the fabric books for my grandsons.  They are triplets, just a little over 6 months old.  Making these is sort of a learning process because I have never made anything like this before and I do not have a pattern or directions.  I also found out I do not have fusible on hand, so I am just sewing the edges of various pieces and either totally sewing them down or letting there be a few places for the babies to grab onto or hold something.  I'm still not sure what I am going to do to attach the pages together.  My first thought was to use eyelets or button holes and then tie the pages together with ribbon.  My other idea was to use small pieces of ribbon on the spine of the pages and use that to tie the pages together. The first page of each will be unique to each boy, but the other pages will be something they can trade around (or actually Mom and Dad can trade around for them.)

There will only be 4 pages in each book - double sided.  I figure that means 12 double-sided pages which is the most I want to attempt and still be able to complete them pretty quickly.  Here are two pages that I completed for Erik so far.  You are seeing the front in one picture and the page of the page in the other.

I wish I had fusible on hand, but I think everything will stay together without it.  I am doing lots of stitching to hold things on so there won't be a safety concern.  That makes the sewing look a little sloppy, but the boys won't care!  These great fabrics are not only from my stash, but also from a fabric swap that I did with a craft group so that I could have many more from which to choose!

I'll show some more pictures once I have some more pages ready.

As for my dog, not a lot of change since yesterday.  I called the vet's office and they have her scheduled to come in at 1:30 today.  My husband says lately the meals have been me cooking for her and we eat the leftovers!  She did eat her scrambled egg and cheese this morning... I made a little extra so I could have some, too.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

An Up and Down Day

Well, our dog came home looking so close to back to normal yesterday evening that I thought we had it made.  Today has been more "downs" than "ups" but at least there was a little improvement late this afternoon.  Her little bit of appetite had gone away and she wasn't even eating her favorites - and she was only drinking water while she was laying down and if I brought it and put it right in front of her.  Plus Crystal couldn't get to her feet unassisted.  Definitely a big let down after the progress we saw yesterday.  Anyway, I have been on the phone with the vet's office.  We are trying two new medications (which yes, I am nervous about because all this came about after two other new medications a week or two ago), but a little while ago she ate a few pieces of chicken with some enthusiasm so maybe we are on the right track.

Meanwhile, I decided I could do some sewing while keeping an eye on her, so I started working on fabric books for my triplet grandsons.  I will post some pictures once I get some pages completed.  As I will tell my daughter, they are not works of art - simply meant to be fun for the babies.  If I prepared them as works of art, the grandsons wouldn't get them until they are 12 years old and no 12 year old wants a fabric book intended for a baby!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

My Dog is Home Again... and thank you to my vet!

Our 12-year old Golden Retriever, Crystal, was very sick for the past 3 days.  Thanks to my veterinarian and her being a "pretty resilient old girl" she is home today and feeling quite well after her big ordeal.   She had been prescribed two medications recently (one prescription and one over the counter) and the guess is that she had a toxic reaction to one of them.  There is no way she will take either of them again!
Anyway, it's great to have her home.   Our vet was so nice that he even let her come home last night and then I brought her back this morning to continue another day of treatment.  She is so much more relaxed at home that when it is medically feasible, it's so much better all the way around. 

Anyway, here is a picture taken of her around Christmas 2010.  You can also see our cat, Hershey, in the background.  He wanted to be in the picture, too!
I know many of you love pets, so I thought I would share the good news and the picture!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Reviewing My Janome DC2011

I posted about a week ago that I had ordered a back-up machine.  It's the Janome DC2011.  Who knew they make a machine model to correspond with the year?  I didn't!

Your next comment may be that it is very pink.  Yes, it is, but I really like it.  I like to think that I am a hot pink type of quilter!

I have not tried out all the features yet, but I think I have tried enough of them to report on my overall impressions.  I have nothing at all to do with the company or the seller.  I am just reporting this from my own viewpoint.  Mostly it's because I tried to look at all there was to be found about the machine as I shopped so maybe someone else will be interested in these comments.

There are two things remaining that will determine whether I send the machine back or keep it.  (It can be returned during the first 30 days which was a nice feature when ordering over the internet sight unseen.)  The first item is that I have not tried the walking foot yet.  That needs to work to my satisfaction.  The other problem I see is that this machine has an automatic foot pressure which seems to interfere with its flow as it stitches from a single thickness of fabric to the other side of a seam (where there may be three layers of fabric.)  I am working with it and trying to get used to the feel.  I may try to contact Janome and see what they say.  My other machine is a Bernina with adjustable pressure on the foot so I have never had this issue before.  It may be something I need to adapt to - but if it continues to be a problem, that is a deal breaker, too.  We quilters stitch from thick to thin and back all the time!  I keep saying I am like the old dog having to learn new tricks here.  I have had my same machine for about 11 years and this is an adjustment.

Lots of feet came with this machine and that was a plus.  Some of those were because of a special offer on the machine.  I have not tried all of them.  I also got needles, bobbins, a hard sided carrying case/cover, and a manual - the manual is pretty good, but I would have liked more - especially details about the quilting features.  It sure tells you everything you might want to know about making buttonholes!  I found that the diagrams were not quite detailed or large enough for my taste.  (The manual does, however, include several languages if you are into that kind of thing!)  I would love it if an instructional DVD was included as well as the manual.  I suspect that would be a big plus for someone brand new to sewing. 

Goodies that came with the machine

Hard Sided Carrying Case

Other than the issue about the foot pressure, the machine stitches beautifully!  I don't think you will find a nicer stitch on a straight stitch  - when going over similar layers of fabric!  It also stitched nicely when I dropped the feed dogs for free motion quilting (using the darning foot which is clear and open-toed and I like that - just need to remember to keep my fingers away from the needle!)

The quarter-inch foot is very accurate and nice to sew with.  The machine has a "needle up and needle down" setting as well as a button for reverse and one to "complete the stitch" (Auto-lock button) - which is very useful when doing decorative stitches.  There is a slide control for the sewing speed and it is very conveniently located.  I have enjoyed using it as I ease into some new features.  However, the control to drop the feed dogs is very inconveniently located.  It took me awhile to find it!  The needle position can be adjusted, but I have not tried that yet.  I believe there are 50 stitches that can be selected on the machine.  I have only used the straight stitch and zigzag stitch so far.  My Bernina has as many decorative and specialty stitches as I could want so the extra stitches were not a selling point as far as I was concerned.  They are perfect though if this will be your one machine.

I especially like that you can look down into the bobbin holder (all clear) and see how much thread remains on your bobbin. The bobbins wind nicely and with no problem.  Also, there is a needle threader on the machine.  I know I sound pessimistic when I say "which works for now."  I never seem to have much luck with them holding up.  (Maybe it will on this machine.)  A needle threader is a wonderful feature - I just worry about how durable they are.

You can raise the presser foot on this machine to an extra high setting.  That will be useful if quilting something with thick batting - and is even helpful when changing the feet.  (Many of the feet simply slide on which is nice, but others, like the walking and darning foot require that you unscrew the foot and screw the new one on.  That is much harder than the "easy to change feet" on my Bernina.  I am getting better at it though.

Here's the view of the bobbin area

Foot and Needle

 There is an additional feature that I really like.  There is an extra spool pin that can be inserted near where you thread the machine (to the back of where you see the picture of the spool) and it can be used to wind a bobbin without unthreading your machine - or to work with two needles and different threads at the same  time.

As you can see in the pictures, it's pretty easy to see how to thread the machine and there is a control for the thread tension.  The light provided on the machine is good.  I usually have a second light - an Ott light that I use for my sewing area regardless of the machine.  The length and width of the stitches can be adjusted.  There is a storage drawer which holds most of the feet.  That is convenient and that extension table/accessroy box can be removed for free arm sewing.

Well, that's all I can think of to report on.  If I decide to send the machine back I will let you know why.  I think it is going to be a "keeper."  Really my big issue right now is dealing with the lack of a manual adjustment on the presser foot.  Many people probably prefer the automatic feature  I haven't read about it being an issue for anyone else.  I will continue to familiarize myself with the Janome 2011.  All the reviews I read online about this machine before ordering it were outstanding.  Oddly enough I think the only negative comment I read it was about the color!

 If anyone else has this machine or a similar one, let me know your impressions.

Friday, September 2, 2011

The Country Quilt

Here is a picture of the quilt I just completed at the end of August.  I give all of my quilts a name and this one is The Country Quilt.  It looks a bit wavy in the picture because I put it over a room divider so I could photograph most of it.and let you see the binding, etc.  This is the first time I used striped fabric for binding and I really like it!

My new sewing machine was delivered today so  you know what I was doing!  I will get to know it better and if it's a "keeper" I will tell you more.  So far I have only wound a bobbin, threaded the machine and the bobbin case, learned how to use the needle threader and how to change feet, and I adjusted the tension.  The real test will be over the weekend when I try the 1/4" foot and see how that does and try the free motion quilting.  This is so odd to be teaching myself how to use a machine on my own.  I am so spoiled by having sewing machine stores walk me through my earlier ones.  I will tell you that when I look at the instruction manual I can barely see what they are referring to in the picture... yes, there's a number there, but what are they looking at... and sometimes I can barely see it on the machine once I go looking for it.  I think there are some odd angles on the shaping of this machine.  Of course, I know that once you really get used to a machine, you just automatically reach in the right place so no worry about that yet.  I sure hope I love it and can be raving about it in a few days.  I took some pictures of it already - just in case.  I will let you know that parts of it are hot pink!  (Just from that some of you will know what machine arrived at my house.)

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

New Machine

Since January I have been saying that I need a second sewing machine.  (Well, actually it is a third sewing machine because I have one that is mounted in a sewing table, weighs a ton, and doesn't do much of anything related to quilting. I keep it because it was my bridal shower gift from my great aunt "way back when."  It is not anything I can take to workshops, classes, retreat, etc.  Is anyone else sentimental about a sewing machine?)
My primary machine is a Bernina that I have had for 10 or 11 years.  It's a really nice machine with more bells and whistles than I need so I have no complaints with it.  However, I notice more and more times when I absolutely have to have a machine that is operational (like when I was hurrying to make quilts for the baby shower for my triplet grandsons and my tension on my Bernina would not behave.)
I decided in January to get a second machine for a back-up, for workshops, etc.   I browsed a bit online now and then, but was not looking very seriously and had not selected anything.  Today I did a bit more browsing, read reviews, etc. and got a machine ordered!  No, I have not seen it in person or tried it out.  It is a new machine from a legitimate business and can be returned if I really don't like it.  Anyway, I am excited to have a new "baby" to try out and it should arrive on Friday.  Once it gets here (assuming I like it), I will post some pictures and tell more about it.
So, you will hear from me with a report soon...

What have I been working on lately?  This is a quilt that was started by the original group of Lady Bees.

The Lady Bees were a group who all took a quilting class together and wanted to keep meeting and stay in touch. I think it continued for about 10 years and we still keep in touch from time to time.  I believe there were 5 of us originally when these quilt blocks were made.  (There was a later Lady Bees quilt that was made after the group expanded and I completed that one long ago.)
On the quilt that is pictured, I added many blocks on my own so there would be a "full" quilt; the block made by each of the original members is included.  I had the piecing completed a long time ago, but recently got it quilted by my friend Vivian Perry (see and now I am sewing down the binding.  The quilt design is "Fern" and I love it!  I'll post a bigger picture that includes the binding once I finish it.
This quilt has been 10 years in the making.  I love our guild's UFO Challenge!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Time for Bed After Overnight Flight

I don't know if you missed me, but I was in California for two weeks visiting my older daughter, her husband, and their triplets!  It has been lots of fun having my first grandchildren arrive three at a time, but it is very busy at their house, too.  It was my older daughter's birthday earlier this month so I flew out for that and to offer a few weeks of help.  Night time is going much easier with them now that they are close to 6 months old, but the daytime is filled with activity!

Soon I will make some cloth activity books for them.  Does anyone have any suggestions for constructing the books or things to include?  I already have some fun fabric set aside to make the books.  The book that they have now that they like the best makes a crinkling noise when you grab the pages.  Does anyone know what to use to get that effect?  They also like a handle on the spine of the book and obviously it needs to be a book that can go safely into their mouths.  They love story time and each one will look at each page after you read it.  Sort of like working on an assembly line showing the pictures in the books!  My other discovery was that the babies think that I am extremely funny.  Who would have expected that?

By now you may be wondering about the title.  I once again took an overnight flight on my way home.  Both leaving my home and theirs involves using smaller airports so there are always at least three different planes.  Why do the planes always land at the extreme opposite end of the terminal from where you need to be for the next flight?  It happens every time.  I got plenty of exercise.  One day I will bring my pedometer and see how which airline puts me farthest from the next gate!  My other issue is I can't sleep on the plane.  Is everyone who appears to be sleeping just resting their eyes? 

I got home at 9 a.m. and went to bed for most of the day yesterday.  Things seem to be back to normal today.

Quilt news coming soon!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Comments Bring a Smile!

It was great to log on today and see some comments on my blog!  That is one thing when you begin blogging, you wonder if anyone is out there reading what you wrote.  If anyone comments on my blog, I will definitely try to visit your blog and see what is going on in your world.
I have been working steadily on a quilt that I hope to finish up this month.  Of course I will post pictures as I complete anything new.  I am really enjoying the color scheme on this recent quilt.  It has chocolate brown and shades of turquoise and teal.  It seems like chocolate brown wasn't used much in quilts a few years ago, but it looks wonderful with so many colors.  I think it adds a richness and a depth to the quilt.
I hope to be back with some pictures of completed quilts soon!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Sizzling in South Carolina

I have been sizzling in South Carolina and am so ready for some cooler temperatures!  To top things off, at the end of last week I got a sore throat that doesn't seem to want to go away.  It seems like such an odd time of the year to have a sore throat.  I wouldn't worry about it quite so much, but I will be seeing my triplet grandsons next week and sure don't want to get them or their mom or dad sick.  I think it may be from an allergy, but I went to the doctor today "just in case" -  not that he could tell me why I had a sore throat!
It seems too early to think about the South Carolina State Fair, but all of the information is now posted online and it's time to sign up to enter various categories.  I may skip entering anything this year.  There was a miniature quilt I hoped to make before the Fair, but I don't think I will get to it in time.
I hope everyone is able to stay a little bit cool. 

Friday, July 29, 2011

Old in Age, Young in Attitude

Some of you know that I have a horse that is 32 years old.  I have had her for most of those years.  She can't eat quite as well as she used to, but can still be ridden lightly .  With the heat like it has been, I have started taking her for walks and only ride if it really cools down and there is a breeze.  She has a large pasture that she is in all day, but she really likes to get led up to the house and see the sights.  You wouldn't know her age from seeing her walk, she is full of energy and the sense of adventure.  Anyway, I know many who quilt have favorite pets, too, so I am sharing the tale of Sugar with you.  Here she was about a week ago right after having her bath.  Looking pretty good!  It's the young attitude that does it.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Hot Weather is Back

After those few cooler days that we had, the hot (hot, hot, hot) weather is back.  I knew it couldn't last.  I believe it went up to 102 today and that was the actual temperature, not the heat index.

Anyway, aside from the heat, I have been having a great time.  I went to Rock Hill on Monday to present a lecture for the York County Quilters.  What a nice group of quilters and they had wonderful items for Show and Tell!  Thanks to each of you for your warm welcome and your hospitality.

Here is one of the quilts I completed recently - it is a cheater fabric that was sold by Windham Fabrics in 2009 and is a reproduction of a Signature Quilt presented to Clara Barton by soldiers who she nursed during the Civil War. The original is on display at the Clara Barton Museum.  It's a lovely quilt and the thought behind it is special.  Although this is the first time I ever used a cheater fabric, it's wonderful to have a copy of this quilt for my collection!

I was able to see my daughter for a few days and she and I had fun trying out new feet on her sewing machine, shopping, and talking "horses."  She taught me how to make truffles.  She is a wonderful truffle maker!  (Isn't it great when our children grow up and can teach us some special things?)

Hopefully I can get out in the garden early tomorrow to see how things are doing in all this heat.  I managed to pick two cucumbers today so if I water about three times a day, my plants should be okay.  Now you know what I will be doing until this heat breaks!

Stay cool, everyone!

Friday, July 15, 2011

What a beautiful morning!

What a beautiful morning today!  After having so much heat and so little rain, things reversed themselves for a few days.  We had some thunderstorms this week and got some rain that greened up the grass and made all the plants look better.  I went out at 10:30 a.m. today and it was only 78 degrees and cloudy!  You cannot imagine how good that feels after the high 90's and slightly over 100 that we have been having.  (The high temperatures included hot, baking sun.)  There was even a little breeze today.

The daylilies are coming to an end, but they
have been so pretty this year!

Earlier this week (on one of the hot days), we shipped my younger horse, Lyric, up to Durham, NC, so my younger daughter can ride and enjoy him.  It has been very sad thinking about him leaving because I got him when he was 6 months old and he is 16 now, so he has been a member of the family for a long time.  He has lots of intelligence and personality, so he is a special horse.  However, I also have a 32 year old horse and don't ride much, especially in the summer, so it seemed like it would be good for my daughter to enjoy having him up. there - and she is really enjoying him and the trip went fine.
Horses are herd animals though so I worry about my 32 year old getting lonely now that she is by herself.  The better weather allowed me to go for a ride on Sugar and take her for a walk and then I led her around so she could eat some of the pretty grass outside the pasture fence.  After that I picked blueberries and checked what was going on in the garden.  Such a treat to be able to do so much outdoors.
I go outdoors when it is super hot - but mostly because I have to ... it was nice to be out there and enjoy it!
I hope everyone has a good weekend.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Staying Busy and Staying Hot

It's no surprise to anyone in South Carolina that it is hot, hot, hot at this time of the year.  Sometimes I feel like I should hibernate for the entire summer, but obviously I can't do that.  I garden so I have to get out there to water my plants every day (and sometimes twice a day.)   If we are lucky, maybe a few days during one week of the month we get some thunderstorms that roll through, but the rain is not very reliable.  It's very frustrating when the wind kicks in and you can hear the thunder, but the rain doesn't fall where you are!  

I have been busy putting the finishing touches on a lecture that I will give to a quilt guild next week.  I am looking forward to seeing them!  I also did some sewing.  I worked on some of my quilting UFO's and did some redwork last week.  What is new is the redwork!  I hand embroidered before but never specifically did redwork.  Awhile ago I ordered a book on Presidential Redwork.  I stitched my first presidential portrait last week and it was fun and didn't take long.  I think I will make some more - and who knows, maybe eventually I will have enough to make a presidential quilt!

This is President William McKinley.

  The redwork is not actually framed, I just did that with my photo software for purposes of posting the picture.  It's a small block of muslin intended to go into a quilt later on.

McKinley was the 25th President of the United States.  He was the last president to have served in the Civil War.  When he went to Buffalo, NY, for the 1901 Pan-American Exposition, there was a reception held for him and tragically, Leon Czolgosz, an assassin, stood in line to shake his hand.  Czolgosz's hand was wrapped in a white handkerchief with the gun hidden inside.  As McKinley reached out to take Czolgosz's "bandaged" hand, Czolgosz fired twice at the President.  McKinley remained standing and was taken to the hospital on the Exposition grounds.  One bullet produced a superficial wound, but the second bullet hit McKinley in the abdomen causing many injuries.  The doctors were unable to find the bullet, left it in his body, and closed up the wound.  At first McKinley appeared to be getting better, but eight days after he was shot, his condition rapidly worsened.  He died at age 58 from gangrene surrounding his wounds.

Why did I begin my redwork with William McKinley?  Well, there were two reasons.  First of all, I will be talking about the Pan-American Exposition in my lecture next week and secondly, for a number of years I lived in a suburb outside Buffalo, NY.  When you go to Buffalo, you can't help but notice the McKinley Monument.  It is located in front of City Hall and  is a 96 feet tall obelisk surrounded by Italian marble lions, each 13 feet long and weighing 12 tons.  Many of the streets converge on its location - Niagara Square.  The monument was dedicated in 1907 to the memory of McKinley.

It is so tragic that several of our presidents have been killed as a result of being out and about and meeting with the American public.  Shootings are not limited to presidents either.  I can't help but think about Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords who was shot while meeting face to face with her constituents or the bystanders who were killed at that time.  No, we can't hibernate, but it would be nice to know we are safe! 

Sunday, July 3, 2011

4th of July Weekend

I hope everyone is having a safe and fun 4th of July Weekend!  My younger daughter was here for a few days and I haven't seen her for many months so it was a fun time together.  We went to the parade that was held in Columbia for the Univeristy of South Carolina Gamecock Baseball Team - hopefully you know that the team just won the College World Series Championship for the second year in a row!!  That was lots of fun and I was certainly glad someone had planted all those nice trees on the State House grounds so we could stand in the shade from time to time.  I took about 98 pictures while I was there.  You have to love digital cameras!  Anyway, here are a few.

The University of South Carolina flag flying atop the State House.

Coach Tanner's arrival.

..and finally, the players and the trophy!!!

We went out to eat after the parade and stopped at a fabric store which had some great sale prices.  One thing on our list was to get flannel fabrics to make more burp cloths for my triplet grandsons who live in CA.  It was nice to sew together and we got those burp cloths completed that evening and have them ready to be mailed.  I should have thought to take a sewing related picture to post, but I guess even cute burp cloths are still just burp cloths.
Well, now that the fun visit is over with, I think I'd better get some things done around the house and yard.
Continue to enjoy your weekend!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Organizing... Organizing

Does your fabric ever get to a point where you can't find most of what you are looking for?  Mine definitely got that way earlier this spring.  The last I remembered it had been neatly put away using the system I am going to describe.  With the UFO Challenge my guild announced for this year, I began to pull out older fabrics and UFOs expected to find all of it still neatly organized.  However, what did a find but a scattered mess!
Of course, there is no easy solution once you get to this point.  Things get worse before they get better.  Typically I have most of my fabric in plastic storage containers: some are in a closet and some are in what used to be my daughters' play room.  To begin this process of re-sorting, I ended up with most of the fabric stacked on two beds.  Well, I admit - there was some of it on the floor, too.  It overflowed!
How do I sort it?  First of all, anything that is designated for a particular quilt is packed with other fabrics for that quilt and the unfinished portions of the quilt - if I already started on that - and hopefully it also contains the directions for making the quilt.  (This was what got me on the path to reorganizing - I had issues with patterns not being where they should have been ... gremlins must have been sifting through my fabric the last time it got put away!)
Then I work with larger pieces that are not set aside for something in particular (these are large enough to be considered for possible quilt backs or to be used as a main fabric in a quilt) and place those together.  Still more categories...  One container is for general holiday fabric.  Most of mine is for Christmas, but I also have Easter, Halloween, St. Patrick's Day, etc.  I have a separate container for the few fabrics I keep on hand that are not quilters' cotton - fleece, flannel, upholstery fabric, etc.
One of my fabric designations is "scraps."  These are obviously for scrap quilts or can be used if I need a small piece of fabric for applique.  I also have a separate area for new fat quarters, still neatly folded.  I use a photo storage box for them and they fit really well.   The remaining fabric gets divided into plastic containers by color.  With these I try to make sure there is at least enough there to complete a 12" block or two.  After more than 10 years of quilting, there is no problem filling these containers either.  Some of the colors are combined.  My "red grouping" is red, pink, and orange.  "Blue" is for blue and purple.  You get the picture.   Actually, you don't get the picture - I could have taken a before and after picture, but some things you just don't want to see again!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Rainbow Row

Rainbow Row has been quilted and I finished stitching the binding today.  I am showing two pictures -one of the whole quilt and then a close up showing the quilting.  The quilting seems to show up better if I turn off the flash so that's why the color is darker in the close up.  This quilt was quilted by Vickie Perry with Whistle Stop Quilting.  I really like how the quilting turned out on this.  It was hard to know what to select that would work with both the bright colors and black!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Venetian Tiles Completed

Yesterday I finished sewing the binding on Venetian Tiles. The pattern is by Patricia Pepe.  Isn't it beautiful?  I made most of this out of scrap fabric that I had on hand so that made it even better.  Pretty elegant for a scrap quilt!

I offer this class as a workshop.

The beautiful quilting is by my friend Vickie (or you may know her as Vivian) Perry.  Her business is Whistle Stop Quilting in Gilbert.  Check out her blog if you haven't already done that!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Blue and White Star Sampler

On Wednesday I completed one of my UFOs from way back when... really "way back when."  This was from the second quilting class that I ever took.  I am really happy to have it completed.  It sounds odd, but I was not willing to complete it for a long time because I liked it so much and was afraid that my skill level at that time was not good enough.  I didn't want to ruin it.  I guess I waited long enough because now it turned out fine!

Stay cool, everyone!  What a hot week it has been here.