Tuesday, October 17, 2017

The day before the big day

Yesterday was absolutely beautiful here in W Wisconsin--a gorgeous "Indian Summer" day that I spent with a good friend who moved from Menomonie to Minneapolis.  I only see her occasionally so when she invited me to come over, I didn't hesitate.

In addition to having lunch at her house ( a chicken and wild rice soup, recipe here) and having a wonderful catching up, we made a visit to SR Harris which is very near to her home. 

SR Harris is a discount fabric store in the Minneapolis/St. Paul which carries tons of quilting fabrics as well as bridal/fancy dress and upholstery fabrics, and all the trimmings you would ever possibly want. Everything in the store is priced at half the marked price on the bolt--a quilter's dream!

I've been to this store before, with a list of what fabrics I wanted to get. This time, I didn't have a list and really no idea of what to shop for, so it was a bit overwhelming. There's great temptation to impulse buy which I try to avoid. What I came home with was a few fabrics to add to my collection of cowboy and pony fabrics that I'll be using in Lily's Pony Club Sampler quilt--one day.  I also picked up some red and blue fabrics that will work well in future Quilts of Valor. And my friend led me to the sale rack (everything  $5 per yard!)  where I found half a dozen fabrics that I'll use to make American Girl doll dresses.  I'd like to get some in my shop before the holidays and I'll begin making some to sell in the shop we'll be having in 2018 as part of the fundraiser for the domestic abuse program here in town.

When I got home, I had enough time to finish the quilting on the 4th QOV that I'd wanted done before I go under the knife. Paula picked up the 2 quilted QOV this morning to do the binding on them, and the 5th and last one will wait for me to recover.

I also have my embroidery fabric prepared for tracing the designs and that needs to get done today.  This is their picture of the finished quilt, taken from their website


I'll be using 30's fabrics to surround the embroidered blocks so it'll look a bit different than the one shown.  Here are a few of the embroideries that I'll be working on while I sit with my leg elevated:

Garden Steps :: Block One Detail

The quilt is called "Garden Steps" and all the embroideries are based on things that are found in a garden--flowers, insects, birdhouse, and so forth.

Right now, Don is calling me to help him finish up the outdoor tasks that he needs my help with. These have to be done today, and I also have to make a trip to the post office to mail a package to granddaughter Lily, and I want to prepare a few meals for Don to heat up while I'm out of commission.  Another super busy day looking at me--do I say that at the end of every post?  Yes, I think I do, and I'd not have it any other way!

Monday, October 16, 2017

Almost a finish!

Yesterday was cool and rainy as it's been for the past week or so. No outdoor work was done and I spent the day in the sewing room, after getting a batch of chicken-wild rice soup in the crock pot. 

I immediately began the quilting on the Quilt of Valor that I'm working on and was able to finish all the wavy line quilting in the blocks as well as in the borders.  I found a spot where the blue top threads were caught up on the back and make a nasty little web that really shows against the white backing fabric. That'll have to be fixed today or tomorrow. I also have yet to figure out how to quilt the star points on the two large stars in the quilt. Either tonight or tomorrow, I'll get that taken care of.

I did nothing with the On Vacation table runner/wall hanging that I fused the other day. I think that's going to have to wait until I recover enough to go down the stairs again.  Not a problem.

The other thing I did was prepare the fabric that I'm going to embroider for the Clover and Violet stitchery  I plan to work on while I'm recovering with my leg elevated.  The embroideries are done on 4 1/2" squares and instead of cutting 12 small squares, I marked them on a large piece of fabric. I'll embroider them while they're in one piece and then cut them down when they've been stitched.  Easier to handle a large piece than many smaller ones, and less fraying edges than on 12 small squares.  Tomorrow, I'll be tracing the designs on the new light box that I bought a few weeks ago. No more taping to the window and contorting myself to get the tracing done. 

Every blog post must have a photo included so here's one for today. Will this be true as I come out of the anesthesia on Wednesday?

Image result for funny quilting memes

Sunday, October 15, 2017

No finishes but making good progress

Yesterday saw me in the sewing room for nearly the entire day. I began working on the 4th of the 5 Quilts of Valor and immediately ran into trouble with the thread tension. This is sooooo frustrating for me.  I chose a different thread for this quilt and this time, I used a 50 wt thread on the top and bottom but they weren't the same color. This quilt has a white backing and I used a white Gutterman thread in the bottom, but a blue Gutterman thread in the top. Both are 50 wt so there should be no problem, right?  Wrong.  Nothing but eyelashes when I did free motion quilting!  Why is that!!!!  My sewing machine guy says my very expensive, fancy-dancy machine is quite touchy when it comes to thread tension--I guess so!  

After trying a few different threads on the top with no luck, I decided this quilt will have straight line quilting, not FMQ.  I put on the new foot I'd recently purchased, designed especially for stitching in the ditch.  "Ah, yes," says I, "This should do the trick!"  Well, not exactly.  I took this pic off the website where I purchased the foot.  Look closely and you can see there's a little bar in the center of the foot, in front of the needle. That's supposed to go down the seam and the needle will stitch exactly in the seam.  I admit, it was easier to keep my eyes on the bar and not the needle, but when I did look at the needle as I was sewing, I saw that it was about a 32nd of an inch off and the stitching was NOT in the ditch at all!  By the end of the ditch I was not stitching in, I also realized that this won't work as I should be using the walking foot when quilting. ARRRRRGH!  Off went this foot and on went the walking foot and from then on, I was able to get something done.  BTW, I intend to send a review to the company that sold me this POS and let them know it doesn't do the job as advertised!  

So, after all the frustration with tension and feet, and for that matter, tension in my feet, 😁 I was able to get all the foundation straight line stitching done, as well as a semi fancy design in the center of the 2 large stars in the quilt, and then I drew a blank. The rest of the quilt is made up of 9" blocks of 2" strips.  I'm tempted to simply stitch a wavy line in the center of each strip, but that would mean a lot of starting and stopping--and thread burying, which takes a lot of time, and I'm running out of time.  I put it all away at that point, figuring that overnight an inspiration would come to me.  

Instead, I took out this pattern, On Vacation, which I found on Pinterest and purchased it from Craftsy which you can see here .  

My colors aren't like the pattern--I used whatever scraps appealed to me--and it isn't as bright as in this picture.  I knew when I saw the image on Pinterest that I had to make it for Elaine, my camping friend and the person I also made the camper bag for.  I think she'll like both of these things,

For the On Vacation, I was able to make the pieced border out of scraps, and cut and fused all the applique. Today, after I finish quilting up the Quilt of Valor, I hope to get all the buttonhole stitching done on the table runner.  Doubt that I'll get it quilted up tho. That will have to wait until I've recovered from the surgery.

Those are the sewing tasks for me today. I also have to give Don a hand in the back yard and get the outdoor things put away for winter, and I want to make a crock pot of chicken veggie wild rice soup for tomorrow.  The weather here has been col and rainy for days, and a nice hearty and warm soup fits the bill.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Finished camper bag!

I love to write a bog post where I can brag share about a finish!  And today, I certainly can do that.  Not yesterday but the day before, I completed the little camper bag I'm making for my friend.  Here's the end result:

Front.  They don't show up very well in the photo but I added a shiny button to each hubcap.  A little glitz is always welcome, don't you think?


End piece with gnomes

End piece with flowers and bee buttons. I found a scrap of fabric with these elaborate clusters of flowers and decided one of them would be perfect for the end of the bag.  I used a technique called Broderie Perse or Persian embroidery, and used fusible web and a small black buttonhole stitch to secure it to the bag.  

Appliqued cat studying the bee button. More broderie perse.

So I'm nearly finished with the things I'm making for Elaine in exchange for her making some window treatments for me.  To refresh your memory, I made these 3 sets of potholders, 

and two cat fabric bowls for use in the microwave.

As soon as I can get back to the sewing room, I'll be making this table runner/wall hanging for her camper and then we can get together and complete the exchange.

Image result for on vacation quilted table runner

What's on the agenda for today?  Well, after I've finished this post, I'll be making a batch of cookie dough, Cranberry Orange Pecan Shortbread Cookies seen here:

Cranberry Orange and Pecan Shortbread cookies. These easy, slice and bake cookies are flavored with orange zest, vanilla, cranberries and pecans. They are the perfect holiday cookies to give away or keep for yourself!

The photo is from the blog where I found the recipe, not a picture of cookies that I made since I've never tried this recipe before.  But it sounds pretty good and will work for the guild Guest Night that's coming up in November.  I'll make up the dough today, maybe bake a couple of the cookies, and freeze the rest of the dough to bake up on the day of the event.  This way, I won't have to stand on my new knee too long when the time comes to make the cookies.

After that, I'll be in the sewing room the rest of the day, working on the Quilts of Valor that need to be quilted up.  I was able to get 2 more of them pinned yesterday and would have pinned the last one except that I ran out of pins. When I got home, I was able to quilt over half of one of them and will finish that today and begin on the other pinned quilt.  The first 2 quilts are with the binder and she'll pick up these two when I let her know they're ready for her. The fifth and final one will have to wait until I've recovered enough to pin it and take the stairs down to the sewing room. My goal is to get it finished before Thanksgiving and then I'll be able to move on to working on a new project.

Another busy day facing me--would I have it any other way!--and I've got to get a move on.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Almost a week!

When I checked the date of my last post, I was amazed to see it's been nearly a week!  I had every good intention on blogging every day if possible, but I guess I just got caught up in all the things that have to be done before surgery and totally forgot didn't take the time to post.

I'll try to catch you up on the most recent events of the past week. Had my last appt with the ortho doc and now I'm set to go for the surgery.  I'm anxious to have this done so I can get on with rehab and returning to normal life again.

Youngest daughter Jo spent the weekend with us and insisted on going through 4 boxes of photos we'd been meaning to organize. Well, she did it!  All the duplicates, blurry and otherwise bad photos have been pitched and the rest organized into packets for each of us in the family. She even went to Walgreens and had a bunch of duplicates made so each of us will have copies of some of the pix.  Now, she wants to get some scrapbooks and thinks I'll have a great time putting all these pix in scrapbooks while I'm recovering! I think she'll have to be the one to do that--scrapbooking is definitely not my thing.

I finished kntting a pair of socks for Tessa's Christmas, shown here: 

Tessa's lost over 100 pounds during the past year and a half and finds herself cold a lot of the time, so I thought hand knitted wool socks would be just the thing.  Jo also has cold feet all year round, so she's getting a pair of socks too. I've nearly finished the first one of the pair and will get the other one finished while I recuperate.

I also made two sets of pillowcases over the weekend, the garden trolls for my niece and Namaste for Jo:

In between the sewing projects, I managed to cook up the last of the tomatoes into pasta sauce which is now in the freezer, harvested the remaining beets and carrots from the garden and they're in the frig, and today I'll get the last of the jalapenos in the dehydrator and call that job done.

Back to the sewing room.  I finished making 3 sets of these nifty potholders, which have pockets for your fingers, for my friend . . .

as well as two microwave bowls that she asked for. Elaine and her husband are crazy about cats and I had just enough of the red white and gray cat fabric left over to make up the two bowls.  Elaine and I have a deal:  She makes draperies for my house, and I make quilts for her.  Win, win!

I didn't think a few potholders and microwave bowls were enough payment for the window coverings she's making for me, and when a fellow guild member showed the camper bag she'd made from this pattern, I knew I had to make it for Elaine. She loves to get out of town in the camper and they're  gone nearly every weekend from snow melt to snow fall and I thought this bag would be perfect for her. I changed the colors a bit and I'm really liking how mine is turning out.

This is the front of the bag I'm making. I found some really cute flower buttons that I'll stitch on the green foliage by the door. I'm debating if I should put window panes in the door and window. Can't decide.

This is the back side of the camper bag.  Again, do I want window panes?  And again, flower buttons for the foliage. I also got a pack of smallish bumble bee buttons and I think I'll put one above the appliqued cat.  I added the cat--cut out from a scrap of cat fabric--since they really, really love thier cats!

This is one end of the side panel of the bag.  There is a section of green and then orange on each end of this panel with a cream section in the center and that's where the zipper is.  The green and orange will match the fabrics on the front and back of the bag and the cream panel with the zipper goes over the top of the camper.  Handles attach to the top as well.

I couldn't just leave this section unadorned and as I glanced at the garden troll fabric, well, of course, I had to add the trolls to this side of the camper bag.  I have the other side to embellish and don't have a very good idea of what to put there.  I think I have some fabric that has tiny quilts on it and maybe I'll add, not a barn quilt but a camper quilt.  I also have one more flower button and could add foliage and the button and maybe another bumblebee.  I'll let you know what I decide.

I also have this pattern for a table runner or wall hanging that I want to make up for Elaine. I think she'll really like it, especially if I make the canoe in a shiny silver fabric that I bought for something and then decided not to use. It'll be perfect for the canoe. But that will have to wait for a month or so until I can handle the stairs.

Image result for quilted camper table runner

At any rate, I hope to get the bag finished up today and then prepare the batting for the 3 additional Quilts of Valor I have waiting for me.  I'd like to get at least 2 of them ready for binding before I go under the knife and can't get to my sewing machine. 

So, I've got to get busy with the jalapenos and then move into the sewing room to do what I like best!

Thursday, October 5, 2017

My train trip to the west coast

Don and I returned from our trip 2 days ago and it's taken that long to fix up the pics and take care of household things that needed attention after being gone for over a week.  So, today I can spend as much time as I like writing this post for you. 

I don't like to post when I'm traveling since I prefer to use a full sized keyboard rather than the smaller ones that are on my phone and Kindle, and what I suspected was true--there was no WiFi on the train--and there was no WiFi at the hotel in the mountain, so I couldn't have posted anything even if I'd wanted to. 

This post is picture heavy and I'll add captions to the photos describing what it is.  First of all, I don't have any pics of the train trip either going west or east. It's just a train, nothing to see here, folks.  Although I've traveled this route several times, from St. Paul, MN to Seattle and back, Don never had and I was a bit apprehensive about whether or not he'd like it. Other than being cold the two nights on the trip west, he really enjoyed it. (We picked up a couple of cheap fleece throws to cover up with on the return trip and that made all the difference.)  He's decided that he wants to travel by train to the Southwest in a year or so, but this time, he wants to go in a sleeper car rather than coach as we did this time. Just a bit more comfortable.

So, we got to Olympia, picked up the rental car and headed for Mt. Ranier. The day was glorious--clear, blue skies and the mountain was shining like a beacon.  I'd made reservations to stay 2 nights at Paradise Inn  (Here's a video from their website) where I'd stayed 25 years ago on my first trip to the mountain.  This lodge was built in 1916-17 in what is called, "National Park style"  and is made with huge logs cut on site and native rocks. Very beautiful and majestic. The modern annex was closed for renovations so our room was in the original building. It was like stepping back in time to the early 20th century when ladies wore corsets under their long dresses and gloves and huge hats were mandatory.  Our room looked out over a parking lot and onto the Tahoosh Mountains which are opposite Mt. Ranier.  
View from our room
In the main lodge where our room was, there are no private baths which I knew but wasn't sure how Don would react to this. He took it in stride and enjoyed the experience as I did. There are fluffy white terry robes and slippers for each of us in the room and the showers are private ones, and very clean.  There was a sink in the room so we didn't have to go to the communal bathroom to wash up which was nice.

Below is a picture of the piles of snow on the north side of the lodge. I guess there'd been quite a snowfall a few days before we arrived and this is what was left of it. Leave it to us Wisconsinites to travel to snow just before we get our long winter of snow back home!

After a great night sleep, preceded by a really good dinner in the Inn dining room, the day dawned clear and glorious again. Temps were predicted to be in the high 70's but in the higher elevations, who could tell.  I took this picture of the mountain as we saw it at the beginning of our hike.  

Don and I had planned on just hiking for an hour or two and we got a map from the ranger at the visitor's center. There were three levels of difficulty for the hikes and we thought we could do a moderately difficult one and, map in hand, we took off.

In the center of the picture you can see Don in his blue jeans and black jacket heading up the more rugged trail
The trail began as a paved path and soon became this rock strewn trail, with stone steps. Later on, it became even more rugged and by the time we reached the top of our trail and began the descent, it was nothing but rocks and boulders to climb over.  I had thought to bring the trekking pole I'd used when I'd had my Rt knee replaced a couple of years ago and I was so glad I had it with me.  On the way up the mountain, I had great difficulty catching my breath (It was the altitude, not my lack of fitness,  that's my story and I'm sticking with it!) and the pole helped me keep going upward.  On the descent, the pole helped me keep from keeling forward and falling downhill.  Next time, I'll take 2 poles because the people who had 2 poles did much better than I did with my one.

Okay, back to the hike.  Somewhere along the way, we missed the turn off to stay on the moderate trail, and when we realized what we'd done, we were too far along to turn back.  Below is Don and me at Panorama Point, about 6800 feet.  This is the point where my nephew and I turned back 20 years ago when I first hiked this mountain. At that time, the High Skyline was snow covered but this time it was not, so . . . 

We had a choice at this point to turn back and go down the trail we'd just hiked up, 1400 feet elevation gain, or to continue on the High Skyline trail which we found out later was another 400 feet higher.  Adventurers that we were, we continued!

At the edge of the glacier overlooking the Tatoosh Mountains
We had to get a picture of ourselves with Mt. Ranier in the background to prove to the kids that we really did do this! By this point, I'm beginning to think that I'm totally out of my mind for going on this hike. But nothing to do except carry on!

On the way down, which was more difficult than going up, I think, we saw some really cool things, like this little brook.  We saw the glacial melt at it's beginning, and ran into it several times more as we descended, each time the stream was getting bigger and bigger.  We even had to cross it a couple of times, balancing on the rocks, and twice more where bridges had been built.

Not a good picture, but this is Myrtle Falls, shortly before the end of the hike. You can see how this stream has become so big and I believe the river continues to grow as it goes down the mountain.

Don took a picture of this Alpine meadow in it's Autumn colors.  I've only been here in the fall and with luck, next summer I'll return and see it as the wild flowers are blooming. The meadows are at the lower elevations so the hiking won't be so strenuous--unless we take another wrong turn!

While most people can do this hike in 4 1/2 hours, we were a little slower and arrived back at the Inn 6 1/2 hours after we started out.  OMG!  I can't believe it!  Toward the end, my knees were so painful that I had to stop after every 3 or 4 steps and at one point, tears came to my eyes, but I couldn't let myself cry because I would get more dehydrated than I already was.  Yes, we didn't bring water with us, because we were only going out for an hour or two, but fellow hikers offered many times to share their water so it was okay.  I've learned a good lesson about hiking without food or water and I'll never repeat this again!

When I saw the Inn before me, I was so grateful!  I got inside as fast as I could hobble and hauled my self and my painful knees up the steps (no elevator!) to our room. While I drank several glasses of water, Don went to get two bags of ice for my knees. About an hour later, I was able to ambulate again.  After we'd showered and dressed, we met two of our fellow hikers on the way to the dining room and we all had dinner together. They are originally from Taiwan, living in LA now, and they were so delightful and interesting to be with. Don referred to them as our "mountain friends" and I hope to keep in touch with them. It was interesting that we had left them at Panorama Point where they were resting before returning down the trail while Don and I continued up the High Skyline, and when we were having dinner that night, they told us that they'd changed their minds and had followed us up the trail. "If they can do it, so can we!"  And they did it too, but it took them a little longer than us.  And they were a few years younger than us.  ;-)

The next morning we checked out of this beautiful peaceful place and wandered down the mountain.  The weather had become cloudy and drizzly and snow was forecast for the mountain, so we were really lucky that we'd hiked the day before. This is one of the waterfalls that we saw on the way down, which I believe also begins at the glacier and turns into this amazing sight.  It's Narada Falls, 176 feet high, and it was so beautiful.  

We also stopped at Longmire and the National Park Inn, had a wonderful lunch at Copper Creek Restaurant in Ashford, WA, and then made our way back to Olympia where we met our son and continued our vacation at his house.

On Sunday AM we boarded the train to Seattle and there was enough of a layover there for us to walk to Pike Place and the fish market which Don had never seen.  Again, we found a really good restaurant there and had a late lunch/early dinner before returning to the train station where we boarded at 4 pm and began the long journey home.  We got to St. Paul around 8 am Tuesday morning and were in our own house again before noon.  Our cat Clem was very happy that we'd returned and now he won't let either of us out of his sight!

So, that's the story of our remarkable (to us) stay at Mt. Ranier.  I can cross that off my bucket list and move on to something else. 

Monday, September 25, 2017

Heeeere's Gourdy!

I finished Gourdy and his gang yesterday evening and this morning he got hung out to dry up in the place of honor by the front door of the house.  I found a stick in the campfire wood pile that seemed to work just fine for this purpose, and now he and the guys are proudly on display.

Here's a close up of the banner.  I'm not sure which one is Gourdy but I'm picking the bottom orange guy.  The rest of the jacks are nameless---unless we call each of them "Jack."  That'll do, I think.

I was in a quandary as to how to finish off the banner since I'd quilted up the background piece and had supposed that I would bind it as I usually would do for a quilt. However, the addition of the hanging tabs and the "tongues" on the bottom were a problem.  If I included them in the binding, they wouldn't hang straight and if I didn't bind the thing, well, we all know how fraying happens, don't we?  I dug around in my bin of wools and found a piece of the Black Watch plaid fabric that was big enough for a backing and then I simply followed directions and stitched all around the piece with a machine overcast stitch.  In a few places, the white of the batting showed through, but a black Sharpie took care of that in no time.

I like my banner and I hope it brings a smile to our visitors this fall.  When I return from my trip, I'll get the pumpkins for the front flower bed and put out the Halloween ornaments and then I'll call it pretty darn good!

Today is another busy day--the last for awhile I think--as we leave for our trip at 8 tonight. I have the laundry going already, shopping list made out, things for Dan ready to be packed up in a special bag for him, and have decided in my mind what I'm going to pack to take along for the trip.  After I finish all of the above things, I hope to spend a few minutes in the sewing room, working on potholders for Elaine.  I called her yesterday and got ideas of what kind of colors and designs I should use and actually have all the fabrics I need in my stash, so it's just a matter of moving ahead with the projects.  She also asked me if I could make her a microwave bowl holder so when I get back home, I'll have to get started on that as well.

Got to get a move on--my personal ladies' maid has the day off so I have to do all the above packing things myself.  Sigh!  I'll likely be without internet while on the train and when we're in WA I'll be too busy to blog, but I'll tell you all about the trip when I get home. Maybe with some pics even!