Wednesday, May 28, 2014

What's in my garden?

Daughter Tessa took these pix and posted them on Facebook, so I simply copied them off.  Too lazy to get my camera and take my own, and too cheap no, stupid  thrifty to get a smart phone.

For the first time in my life, I have flowering crab apple trees in my yard!  They are in full bloom right now and we have chairs set up underneath the branches which are dripping with beautiful and fragrant flowers.  We have three dark pink trees and one pale pink or white tree.  And of course, a few bees. I wish it was a lot of bees but I've only seen a few.  Hope the bee population can come back soon. We needs our bees!

I also have lily of the valley growing EVERYWHERE  in the garden!  Way more than any one patch of ground should have!  This weekend I hope to get out my spade and begin digging up all the wildness and get some order in place. But I do love their fragrance.  "White coral bells, upon a slender stalk. Lily of the Valley deck my garden walk. Oh, don't you wish that you could hear them ring? That will happen only when the fairies sing."  We sang this little song when I was in Girl Scouts--in rounds even--and it was so pretty. Anyone else remember singing this?

As for quilting, not so much these days.  Getting the veggies planted at the community garden--we have 2 20x25 foot plots and Don thinks he may get a third one to fill with sweet corn but he better make a decision pretty soon if he wants to harvest before first frost.  Also helped a couple of days with Tessa's garage sale, which was successful, and I've planted nearly all the big flower pots and hanging baskets. With luck I'll finish the last of the pots today.

I also picked up a couple of disability cases--what am I thinking?  I'm supposed to be retired!  But when people call and ask me to help out, how can I say no?  Plus, I need to finance a new mid-arm sewing machine. LOL

Had a visit with a neurologist/sleep specialist to see if I have apnea, and he sent me home with an "oximeter" kit to measure my O2 levels while I sleep. Last night I got the thing set up and went to bed around 11:30. Could I fall asleep in 5 minutes as I usually do?  Not a chance.  Around 2:30 I finally drifted off! And Lily woke me at 7 to get going.  Thank goodness I began drinking coffee a few weeks ago or I'd be really dragging this morning!

Whatever you do today, enjoy and savor it. Life is sweet!

Wednesday, May 7, 2014


The green wedding quilt is finished! And my fingers are numb and sore at the same time from power stitching the binding!  i started at 5 am and finished at noon, making breakfast, packing a lunch, taking Lily to school and having a chat with the hubster as well.  

As you may or may not recall, in early April, my friend Judy asked me to make a green quilt that she could give at an upcoming wedding, and I agreed to do it. I've noted the progress of this project over these past 2 months and I'm so pleased to say that it's finished as I speak type.  I just have to pop it in the washer in order to get out all the markings and any other smudges which may have inadvertently got on the quilt. Before I do that I have to run to the store to get a new box of color catchers to protect from any bleeding of the dyes as it's washed.  When it's dried, I'll pack it up and take it to Judy in the Madison area tomorrow.  I hope she's as pleased with it as I am but moreover, I hope her niece and her new husband like it too.

As always, I struggled with how to quilt the borders.  The first one--multi-colored--was easy because I had a stencil that fit perfectly.  The third border is the diamonds and they were easy--just shallow arcs inside each side of the diamond.  The second and fourth borders are narrow strips of white flanking the diamonds and in those, I stitched a row of circles which I call pearls.  But the fifth border--the widest and again multi-colored--was the stumper.  I didn't have a stencil that would fit and I didn't want to futz around with Golden Threads paper because I was working on a deadline. So I browsed through a few of my quilting books and it suddenly occurred to me to resort to my favorite design--a simple medium sized meander--but to add a few leaves as I went since I  think a green quilt should have either leaves or shamrocks--or maybe frogs included. :-)

I'm happy with how it all turned out. Last night was my guild meeting and I took the green quilt for show and tell as well as the Jared quilt which is below.  I can't believe I finished both quilts in these past 2 months!  I'd had the Jared quilt pinned and I needed to get it quilted so I could take the pins out and use them to make the quilt sandwich of the green quilt.  Could I have simply gone out and bought additional pins? Of course, but that would have been easy so I didn't and now I have 2 finished quilts instead of just 1!

These 2 quilts represent the best and the worst quilting I've ever done.  I will be picking out the Jared quilting over the summer, block by block, and replacing it with better work as I go along.  With luck it'll be ready to go on a bed before winter strikes.  I was in such a hurry to get it finished that I did really sloppy work and every time I look at it, I just cringe!  When I've re-quilted it, I'll be able to look at it with as much pride as I feel when I look at the green quilt.

In addition to show and tell at guild, we had our first ever guest night and I think we must have had about 60 or so people there. (Usually we have about 25 members at a regular meeting, so this larger group was nice.)  We invited Debbie Fields, creator of Granola Girl designs, and this is her website if you want to take a look:  Debbie lives about 50 miles north of Menomonie and she's designed patterns and fabrics for many years, always using natural and "up North" themes like fishing, at the cabin, on the lake, snowshoeing, etc. Many of her patterns are appliqued and she does the most exquisite machine applique! If you want to make a quilt with an "up North" theme, I would encourage you to check out her site.  Debbie gave us a terrific trunk show and she had a lot of her items available for us to purchase so I indulged but just a little.  I'll sit down and go through the book I bought as I eat my lunch.

All in all, I think the guest night was a great success and maybe we'll do it again in the future.  That's all for now--gotta go and get color catchers!  And lunch!

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Working like a dog!

I've been really pushing myself to get the quilting done on the green wedding quilt since I plan on delivering it on Thursday the 8th. I also want to take it to show and tell at guild on the 6th.

So far I've finished the quilting in the center of the quilt. I used a stencil to do the design in each of the 50+ colored blocks, and I used another stencil to do the curvy design in the white sashing. I used my Pounce in the colored blocks and used a marking pencil in the white since my blue washable marker seems to be dried up.

In the first border--the multi-colored one shown here--I used the Pounce and another stencil but had some difficulty seeing the white chalk on the busy fabric.  But I got the job done. I used a kind of Celtic rope design for this border.

Next I did some freehand stitching in the diamonds in the third border. And then I began doing pearls or circles in the second border, again, freehand. I'll continue the circles in the fourth border as well so the diamonds will be flanked by a row of pearls on each side.

Then I have the final border which is the multi-colored fabric again and is 6 inches wide, finished. I don't have a stencil that would work in that border but I'm thinking of doing a simple grid of some sort to contrast with the more elaborate designs in the body of the quilt.  I learned for real what I've read about and been told, that elaborate quilting designs don't show up well on "busy" fabric as in the first border on this quilt. So I'm pretty sure it'll be a simple design.  It's also easier and faster to do a straight line design and I'm under the gun to get this one finished!

I'm using two colors of variegated thread by King Tut for the colored blocks and multi-colored areas, and a plain white thread on the sashing and white borders.  Since the backing is a pale blue with some green splashes, I'm using a blue thread in the bobbin.  I spent a bit of time getting the tension set up correctly before I began any quilting and I'm quite pleased with the results so far.  I admit, I've had to do some un-sewing in areas where the bobbin tension was off--mainly as I stitched large curves--but not too much.

The main problem I'm having with this quilting is skipping stitches. I think my sewing machine has hiccups.  I'll be stitching along and suddenly the machine stops but I keep moving the quilt.  Most irritating!  I have rethreaded a hundred times, rewound bobbins equally as many times, and changed needles several times, using different sizes, but no luck.  If I didn't have to get this quilt finished I'd quit and take the machine in to be looked at but that will have to wait until I finish. If anyone has any ideas, please let me know.  Even though I'm near the end of this project, I'll try any suggestions to get the stitching better.  Thanks.

So, woof, woof, this dog is going back to work on stitching pearls in the white borders.