Sunday, March 29, 2015

Lots of projects lined up

I've been too busy as well as too lazy to get out the camera and take pics of the various projects I've been working on so I haven't posted anything for awhile. It's cold and rainy here today so I thought I should get off my rear end and take some pics to share.

First off, I finished quilting the yellow Chunky Churn Dash quilt and sewed the binding on so all it needs is the hand stitching of the binding on the back and attaching the label. Here's the unfinished top.  I even made a label using the alphabet on my sewing machine!

I also gathered up the wool pieces I need to do this stitchery. It's a pattern from Primitive Gatherings and it's a table mat that I'll put on the coffee table in my sewing room.  I like the quotation from Proverbs:  "She seeks wool and flax and works willingly with her hands." Well, I certainly work willingly with my hands when it comes to any kind of needlework. Not so much housework!  I hope to get a start on this project as well but will have to cut out all the fusible and iron everything before hand so all I have to do is the stitchery.

I spent 1 1/2 hours yesterday tracing the Farmhouse Windows embroidery designs using my new Frixion pen.  This is the marking pen that disappears with heat. After I'd traced all four of the designs, I went back and read the directions a second time. I'd read everything when I bought the pattern in January but it doesn't hurt to re-read them again.  Whoa! I realized that the second step is to use crayons to color in some of the areas and then to remove the wax with the iron.  You're supposed to place the fabric on the ironing board and cover it with paper towels and then iron over the towels.  The wax should melt into the towels and the color should  soak into the fabric.   Hold everything!  If I iron the fabric to melt the crayon, will I not also make the Frixion lines disappear!  Well, needless to say, I'm not a happy camper right now! After trying to figure out the easiest way to fix this, I've resigned myself to ironing the Frixion lines and starting all over again with a heat resistant  marker. The pattern suggests using a Micron pen but I know I make too many mistakes to use a totally permanent marker!  I think lead pencil will do the trick.  Then I'll get to play with my new box of 64 Crayola Colors!

Last week I finished piecing and quilting 4 placemats for daughter Jo.  She wanted something in red and I adapted a quilt block in the March/April issue of McCall's Quilting. This is the quilt called Scrappy Hexies, designed and quilted by Bea Lee

Scrappy Hexies: Fun Lap Size Scrap Quilt Pattern

And this is one of the placemats. I just made two blocks for each mat using the reds Jo wanted and adding a green leaf since the hexies look like flowers to me.  I added a strip on top and bottom to make them the right size and called it good.  Even though the blocks are scrappy, I used the same fabric for binding on all 4 mats.  I'll do the hand stitching on them later as well.

The other thing I worked on while I was in the sewing room was making selvage fabric so I can cover the back rest of my sewing chair to match the seat.  I got all the selvages sewn to the foundation but haven't gone any further than that. Maybe this week I'll get it on the chair.  I plan on cutting it large enough to cover the back rest with an inch or two lapping over onto the back.  I'll stitch a casing around the edge and I've got several Moda tying strips from Jelly Rolls that I'll insert into the casing. Then just snug it up and tie the strips.  I'm really looking forward to not having to see that ugly green any more!

So, you can see that I have lots of hand work that I can work on while I recover from my knee surgery.  I spent every day last week in the clinics and labs, getting all my pre-op testing done, and I'm happy to report that all systems are go, and it looks like it'll be a successful surgery.  For one thing, I'm pretty sure that when they give me the pain meds afterwards, I'll be in orbit!  To the moon!

Now, I'm going to tackle that embroidery project and see if I can get it un-traced, re-traced and colored before dinner.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

My last home call

I'm a retired social worker and when we go to a person's home to do an interview, we call it a "home call."  I made my very last one on Thursday morning.  I have very mixed feelings about that.  After 45 years of working as a social worker--minus 2014 when I was completely retired--I feel as though a real big change is occurring even as I type this.  I've enjoyed my career for the most part and think that I can truly say that I was a positive factor in many people's lives. So I hope my tombstone says something like "A life well spent."  I'll miss meeting so many people--thousands of them, I'm sure, over the years--but I won't miss all the work involved in solving the problems that are presented for me.  I don't have the mental energy to do the job as well as it needs to be done so I'm happy that I've made the last home call.  Still, . . .  it's a big change!

I was offered this LTE (Limited Term Employment) position in December and will have it finished this week.  I decided halfway through that it was a mistake to have taken this job--I didn't like the pressure of meeting all the deadlines involved.  I had gotten used to doing things on my own time schedule and I like it that way!  So, if I ever get offered another LTE, I know I will decline, so that makes the home call on Thursday the very last one--EVER!

The question now is, how will I spend the rest of the time I have left on this earth? Hopefully that will be 20+ years more, but one can never be too confident, right?  I think I will be able to make the transition to total retirement without a problem. I have family that still needs my advice from time to time.  I have my granddaughter, Lily, as well as the 3 new step-grands that I want to get to know and spend time with.  And Don and I would like to spend time together on the road seeing the places that we vowed we would see "some day."

And of course, there are hundreds of quilts waiting to be made up!  At least, it seems like it's that many to me.  Now that my work schedule had eased up since returning from Maine in February and I've recovered from the nasty cold I picked up while traveling, I've been desperately working on quilting up the yellow Chunky Churn Dash that was a block exchange in my guild. This quilt will be entered in the challenge at the Guild's Guest Night in May and then sent on it's way to Bemidji, MN where my friend Lois will use it in a fundraiser for one of her causes--domestic violence, food pantry, or some such thing.

I have the center quilted up in a design I created and I'm quite pleased with how it turned out. There are a few places where I want to take out the stitching and do it better, but most of it's pretty good. I'm using a yellow variegated thread from Gutterman--didn't have access to my favorite brand, Sulky, so I made do.  Last night I outline quilted the appliqued flowers and vines in one of the corners and today will do the opposite corner.  I also drew corresponding flowers, leaves and vines on the non-appliqued corners and will stitch that as well--kind of like ghost stitching.  

I had hoped that this would be sufficient quilting to hold the border layers together, but as I work on it, I see too many open spaces.  I think I'll fill them in with one of the fillers in Diane Gaudynski's books. Diane blogs here at Diane Gaudynski:  A New Tradition in Quilting. She does the most beautiful quilting on her home sewing machine1  I can never hope to come even close to mastering it as she has, but I like her filler designs and will use one of them to complete the borders of this quilt.

I want to have the binding stitched on this piece before I go under the knife on April 7 so I have hand work to do during my recovery.  I also have an embroidery project that I want to have drawn and colored and ready to stitch during recovery as well.  

Farmhouse Windows Sills full quilt image

This is called Farmhouse Windows from Crabapple Hill Studio which you can see here  The 4 blocks of wildflowers in canning jars (each jar a different brand, to be fair, I guess) are crayoned and then embroidered with Cosmo floss.  I plan on making up the quilt as shown but using 30's fabrics instead of the ones used here, in keeping with that farm house feeling.  This quilt finishes at 52 1/4" square so it'll be a nice throw quilt in the sun porch, I think.  

We've been having unseasonably warm temps here in W. Wisconsin and the little snow we had on the ground, no more than a foot, I think, has completely melted.  Don's been getting the back yard ready for seeding new grass and as I was out there nagging helping, I noticed a little green in the flower bed that I'd dug up last summer and used as a nursery bed for the plants we salvaged from the overgrown beds that had taken over the yard.  On closer inspection, I found a large clump of daffodils that had been overlooked when I dug up the bed, and a few clumps of irises that I'd moved from the overgrowth.  Two of my favorite flowers!  I'll be happy to see more green and later on, some colored flowers!  I'm so ready for spring to be here! 

Nuff said!  Don's on his way on a 3 day golfing trip and I'm on my way now to the sewing room!

Monday, March 2, 2015

Hello, March!

I woke up today to sunshine!  What a treat!  We've had such a dark, cold, and gloomy winter here that seeing the sun at 6:30 am was wonderful!  I'm filled with hope that spring may finally be on it's way.  And this quote by Charles Dickens describes March perfectly, don't you think? At least in the upper Midwest it does!  I'm borrowing this image from Sharon Vrooman's blog, which you can see here if you like.

I've been busy this past week, dealing with a horrendous head cold that I picked up while flying and visiting in Maine.  In the past few days, I've felt good enough to actually go into the sewing room and get some things accomplished. First of all, I made the warm, snugly fleece bathrobe for myself that I've been meaning to do all winter.  It turned out to be more of a functional garment than a fashion statement, but, oh boy! is it warm on a cold winter's morning!  

When that was finished, I turned to my doll patterns.  Last April, Lily got an American Girl doll for her birthday and I promised that I would make her (the doll) some clothes.  Before I went to Maine I managed to finish 2 garments  but the poor doll needs a few more things and Lily requested modern clothes instead of more period clothes. This is what I've accomplished so far.

Felicity and Samantha are sitting by the fireplace, all ready to go out for the day with their friends. Felicity is wearing her new coral colored sundress, and Samantha is sporting a white T shirt with blue button trim and a zippy bright and colorful skirt. 

Here the girls have changed into two other outfits.  Samantha is wearing a cute yellow dress with matching hat and Felicity has on a neat blue and purple 3 piece outfit, both of them perfect for a day of adventure.  (Do I sound as though I'm narrating a fashion show?  As I was dressing the dolls for these pictures, that's what I was thinking! LOL!  I guess it doesn't take too much to amuse me these days!)

Marie Grace by Mattell American Girl
Lily's doll is Marie-Grace and she's in Maine with Lily and her "best friend," Molly, who was Lily's mother's doll when Tessa was a child. The dolls in the pics belong to my other daughter, Jo, and they live in the house with me. They have been wondering what all the sewing was about and were so happy and excited to model the new clothes for me!

OMG!  I can't believe I actually wrote the above paragraphs!  Makes me sounds like I've lost my mind!  But,  honestly, I've always thought of the AG dolls a little like children, since I got them for my daughters, about 20 years ago.  I remember feeling so guilty about buying them because they were--and still are--very expensive.  Then one day, I was picking up Barbie things that were left scattered around the house and began adding up the cost of all the Barbies and accessories that I'd bought over the years.  It came to way more than the cost of the AG doll!  It was money spent in lots of small doses rather than all at once like buying the AG dolls.  So, guilt was gone and I enjoyed watching my girls play with their dolls over the next several years.  We saved the dolls as well as all the accessories that we'd accumulated and now, Lily is enjoying them.

But still, after 20 years wearing the same clothes, I know Samantha and Abigail would enjoy getting something new.  Maybe, after I've finished sewing for Marie-Grace and Molly.

But this afternoon, I'm going to take advantage of the sunshine and (relatively) warm temps and go outdoors to prune my apple trees.  Maybe I'll finish sewing the last 2 doll outfits when I come back inside.