Friday, December 31, 2010

I finished the quilt!

My fingers are sore and I'm very tired but the quilts are finished for Harri and Cris. They have been washed and are in the dryer and if the weather permits, they will be with the boys this evening. Both patterns are from the Quilter's World magazine, Feb, 2008 and my sister, their grandmother, had purchased the fabrics before she died in 2009. It has been my great honor and pleasure to complete these quilts for her grandsons. In fact, my last conversation with Jan, a few hours before she died, was of how we were going to work together on making these quilts when she recovered. Jan has been in my thoughts every time I've sat down to work on these quilts--it's as tho she has guided my hands as I sew the patterns.

Here is Hari's "Lunch of the Penguins" quilt. Sorry it's so blurry. It looks a lot clearer in the camera--I don't know how to fix it. The quilt is a large crib sized one and since he's not yet 3, he should do just fine with it. I quilted this one with a horizontal, elongated meander to make it look like the blues are ice. In the outer border I did an ordinary meander. And the penguins I simply outlined and stitched in their bodies along their wings.

Cris's twin sized quilt is called "Arctic Adventure," and it has polar bears and birch trees in the fabrics. This is the one I challenged myself to finish between Monday night and Friday--and it's done!

This quilt gave my so much trouble because I neglected to iron the backing fabric and got a lot of pleats and tucks in it that I had to painstakingly take out and resew. There are still a few tucks in there but I think when it's washed and dried, they'll disappear in the overall puckering of the quilt.
This is a close up of the quilting I did along the inner borders and you can see some of the overall design I did in the quilt center. I repeated the center design in the outer border but added some of the spiraling that I'd used in the inner border. I'm really pleased at how will it turned out despite my screwing up on something so basic!
These are a couple of shots of the pleating I sewed in the back. There was a fold like across the width of the quilt and every time I stitched across that fold, I got a pucker, some worse than others. I ripped out the stitches and used lots of straight pins to flatten the excess fabric--like you do when you're setting in a sleeve--and then carefully stitched over the pins and hoped for the best. Most of the time I only had to do this once.

That's the saga of Harri and Cris's quilts--I hope they like them.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

I'm going to my niece's house for a New Year's Eve party and sleepover. She told me her brother and his family will be there as well. This is the family which has the two boys that my sister, their grandmother, had planned on making quilts for. I finished the penguin quilt for Hari and also the top of the polar bear one for Cris. So I decided to stop procrastinating and get it finished so I can give it to Cris at the same time as I give Hari his quilt.

On Monday evening, I pieced the backing and took everything to work with me on Tuesday. After work I pinned the sandwich together and after dinner last night,I started quilting the center. I was in a hurry on Monday and I didn't bother to iron the backing fabric and last night, after quilting about half of the center, I discovered why the pros always recommend pressing the backing. Wrinkles! Puckers! Pleats! I was really bummed out when I turned the quilt over and discovered these. By midnight I had finished quilting the center and had fixed all the puckering on the back. Never again will I skip the ironing step!

The polar bear quilt is about twin size so it won't take too long to get finished. I'll work on it tonight and I have Thursday and Friday off work, so I'm confident that I'll get it finished. Don is leaving Thursday AM for his Florida golf trip so I won't have any distractions like finding his socks, fixing lunch, checking something that he found on the computer, etc. Just me and my machine--Yea!

I'll try to remember to take the time for pictures and will post them when I have time. I'll keep you posted on my progress as I go along. As always, no wagering on whether I finish it in time. :)

Monday, December 27, 2010

Christmas follow up

I survived Christmas again! It was a very nice weekend with both my son and daughter and granddaughter with us for the long weekend--Jo was in Texas at Aunt Doris' house along with dozens of cousins! The best Christmas gift--besides no braces--was no arguing among the kids! I think that's a first for this family. Don't know about yours but when my kids get together for too long, an argument inevitably breaks out. Ahhh, tradition!

I found myself wishing they would all leave. I know that sounds really bad. After all, I only see Dan for holidays, about 3 or 4 times a year, but I see Tessa and Lily at least once a week or more. In the middle of Christmas day, I started thinking about the time when we will be going to one of the kids' houses for Christmas and how easy that will be. Less decorating. Much less cooking. And a ton less cleaning up afterwards! Then I reminded myself of people who's children live much farther away and they don't get to see them hardly at all, and I decided it was a good thing to have them all gathered around.

I worked on the Cotton Boll quilt on Thursday while waiting for Dan to arrive and I finished making the green and neutral twosies. I know I'm behind (and I've done a little whining when I know I shouldn't have!) but I hope to have the 600 HST finished before 2010 has ended. It's hard to start such a large project, but I have to, I guess. I did take out some knitting while Tessa and I watched a movie. I'm working on a cap for Jo to take with her to Bulgaria. It's made of a fine yarn on size 6 and 7 needles and, of course, I've made a ton of mistakes. I think I've taken it out and started over again at least 6 times so far. Wish me luck that this time I'll do it properly.

Tessa and Lily went home yesterday morning and in the afternoon, Tessa called to tell me Lily had taken a fall while ice skating and had a sore wrist. It sounded like a sprain to me so I told her to ice it and give Lily some Tylenol. A couple of hours later, Tessa called again to say she'd taken Lily to Urgent Care and wouldn't you know, poor Lily has a broken wrist! Either today or tomorrow she'll get a hard cast put on for the next 6 to 8 weeks. The good thing is she's right handed and broke the left wrist, so she can still do her art work, school work, etc. She says she intends to continue skating even with a broken wrist and I was glad to hear that she's not totally put off skating.

Thursday, December 23, 2010


My husband took some pictures of the blizzard we had a couple of weeks ago. Even now, it looks much the same and I think we will have a very snowy winter at my house.
This is the front yard and driveway looking out to our neighbor's farm. We have snowbanks along the drive (after the professional snow plower cleaned it up) about 5.5 feet high. Great snow mountains for Lily!

This is the view from my kitchen window overlooking my deck.

So, I'm having a white Christmas this year. It makes for hard driving to and from work, but we still need moisture after 7 years of both winter and summer drought. It also means that maybe my garden plants won't totally freeze out this year--I'm getting tired of replanting these "perennials" every spring. :)
I am on Christmas vacation today and don't have to go back to work until Monday. Yea!!! Have to do some baking today--finally--and get ready for my son to arrive home this afternoon. Some gift wrapping. And I'm determined to find the tree skirt I made a couple of years ago! We rearranged the storage area and now I can't find one of the Christmas boxes.
I received an early Christmas gift and I love it. On December 6 (is that St. Nickolas Day?) I got the gift of straight teeth. After 1-3/4 years of dealing with very painful and uncomfortable braces, the doc took them off on the 6th and now, instead of having a "snaggle tooth" mouth, I smile with confidence. At my age (retirement is very soon!) I truly debated over having this done. After all, I may very well end up with dentures before long, right? Well, I guess not. The orthodontist predicts that my teeth will last many, many more years. If they could withstand the wrenching, pushing, and pulling that took place to manoever them into a straight line, they'll likely withstand anything the future holds! I'm glad I had this done.
Merry Christmas to everyone who celebrates this holiday, and for those of us who celebrate for other reasons, I wish you a time of peace and happiness with family and friends. For those who don't celebrate any holiday at this time, I wish you peace as well.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Rolling, rolling, rolling

I'm rolling along on Bonnie H's mystery quilt. Last night I finished 10 more 8.5" squares of step 3 and now I only have 10 more to go and I'll be finished with that step. While I'm doing that, I'm neglecting everything else. No cards written or sent. No cookies baked. No decorations up--yet. Friday Lily will come out for the weekend and we always need her to come with us to the tree farm to chose the Christmas tree. That girl has an artist's eye! So that's on the schedule for Saturday afternoon with decorating it on Sunday.

Saturday is our Winter Solstice dinner--only Tessa and Lily will be attending this year. I hope that Lily will help me cook and set a pretty table and generally get things ready. I think she'll be excited to help put out the nice dishes, make a fancy desert, etc--and that will be a help to me as well.

This is my last week of full time work--and it's dragging big time! The next 2 weeks we have thurs and fri off for the holidays and the first week in Jan I'm taking off thurs and fri for the trip to Chicago with the kids. I can't wait to go on the shortened work week--it's been a long time coming. And, as Al Franken's character used to say, I deserve it.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Now it's the B word!

No pix today. We are snowed in and why would you want to see pix of several feet of snow that the BLIZZARD dumped in our yard? Actually, I think we got between 1 and 2 feet of actual snow on Saturday but the wind was, and is, howling so much that we have drifts that are up to 8 feet high. Poor Don spent about 5 hours in the cold with the snow blower trying to get some of it cleared out so we can get out for work tomorrow--but the wind was blowing it back at a pretty good rate. Frankly, I don't really care if I have to stay home another day--my larder is full, I have lots of fabric to play with and if the power stays on, I'll be watching movies or listening to the radio. If the power goes off, I'll turn on the stove in the porch and snuggle down with a good book. Sounds good to me.

Yesterday and today I spent most of the time working on step 3 of Bonnie Hunter's Roll Roll Cotton Boll mystery quilt. I have about half of the pieced blocks done--only 30 more to go!--and they take sooooo much time! If I wasn't so determined to clear out my scraps, I'd have given up on this quilt long ago. This is the first time I'm doing a mystery quilt as a mystery, and I'm enjoying it. I can't let myself get too far behind, tho, or it'll never get done. Bonnie published part 4 the other day so I have to get going and finish part 3.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Girl Scouting

I was reading Sam's blog this morning at "All Things Quilty and Sewey" and she included a picture of her old Girl Guide uniform. I got to thinking about my days as a Girl Scout and later as a troop leader for my daughters.

I think I joined GS as a Brownie scout when I was in first or second grade and I love it. My two older sisters were scouts and my older brother was a Boy Scout, so I knew it was going to be fun. I don't remember too much of those Brownie days except for the dance my troop put on for our mothers as part of a big dinner and ceremony for them. We had practiced and rehearsed and practiced again until we were ready. We had beautiful colorful costumes to wear, and we got up on the stage of the auditorium and performed the Mexican Hat Dance to the tune of "La Cucaracha" and it was thrilling! It was the first time I'd been on a stage and I thought this was the best thing ever. Any my mother told me that the dancing was the best she'd ever seen!

I also remember "flying up" from Brownies to Girl Scouts and how grown up I felt--at about 8 or 9 years old! LOL I stayed in Girls Scouts for 2 or 3 years before dropping out in the 6th grade. Like my older sisters, I wanted to go camping and have adventures and earn lots of badges. Unlike my sisters', my troop leaders wanted to do crafts. Every week. Week after week, nothing but crafts. I only went camping once while I was in GS--an overnight winter camp in a bunkhouse/lodge near a frozen lake. We cooked our own food and we went ice skating by moonlight on that lake--so much excitement for a young girl! We made hot chocolate after skating and we got to sleep in bunks that night. I loved that overnight and I wanted to do that every week instead of crafts.

I also went to day camp every summer that I was a scout. I learned lots of GS songs (Make New Friends, etc) and games and I learned to sing in a "round." I wonder if girls do that any more? We made "buddy burners" and cooked grilled cheese sandwiches on top. Our day camp was at a nearby lake and we did everything outdoors and I don't remember every having rain. Isn't that strange? One time I was wading in a creek with a stony bottom and a leech or, as we say in the Midwest, "bloodsucker," attached to my foot. I started screaming and carrying on something terrible, begging the counselors to take it off. They (two girls not much more than high schoolers) refused and said I should be a big girl and take it off myself! While I was screaming and they were refusing, the bloodsucker was making it's way up my leg from my heel almost to my knee. Someone finally plucked up the courage to get the thing off my leg but to this day when I see one of those disgusting things, I still feel like screaming--but I don't.

This is the kind of uniform I wore when I was a GS except I didn't have a cute hat and my dress (yes, we wore dress uniforms, no slacks allowed back then) had short sleeves. I think I may have worn my hair in that "page boy" style as well. I learned to tie a square knot from having to do the tie just right and I can still tie a mean square knot--left-over-right-and-right-over-left.

Well, this is a long post, but I got to thinking about those long gone days of Girl Scouting and just thought I'd write about them. Do any of you have GS memories? Please share them if you do, I'd love to hear your stories.

Another time, I'll write about my adventures as a GS troop leader. Just a hint--quilting was involved.