Sunday, May 21, 2017

What's been happening in May?

You know, I began a challenge of posting every day last September and for the most part, I've held to that goal. May was a month of time off from posting--I had so many things occupying my mind that I didn't have the energy to post.

However, I need to write up this post as part of the Hand2Help project organized by Sarah at Confessions of a Fabric Addict.  It's the final week of this project and time for finished (or nearly finished) quilts to be posted and linked to her blog.

I began my twin sized quilt for the International Institute St. Louis when I went on retreat with my guild on April 20, and yesterday, I pinned it together into a quilt sandwich. This afternoon, I begin the machine quilting, although I still don't have any design ideas. Here's the quilt, all pinned together:


As I said in an earlier post, I decided to use up the 4 charm packs 


and coordinating navy, wine, and cream yardage that I'd purchased on impulse several years ago.  I chose to make flying geese units out of the charm squares for one of the blocks and simple red-white-blue stripes out of yardage for the alternating blocks. Do you want to know how many FG units are in this quilt?  I did the math--480!   I don't even want to think about how many dog ears I clipped off these darn geese! Fortunately, I was able to make them using the "no waste" method so I don't have a bunch of trimmed off corners in the garbage. Eight FG units made a 6" block, finished. Next time I want to make FG, I think I'll work with a larger size!


I had 3/4 of the FG units made and ran out of the cream yardage that I was using for background of the geese. HELP!  Fortunately, Hingely Road Quilt Shop in Floodwood, MN had more of this fabric and shipped the additional yardage I needed for this quilt.  If you're ever in that area of MN, about 50 miles NW of Duluth MN, be sure to stop in. This shop is overflowing with precuts of all kinds!  My biggest problem is choosing which ones to take home. They also have a separate room devoted to Northwoodsy kinds of fabrics, so if you're needing any kind of cabin, fishing, hunting, or water sports kinds of fabrics, this is the place. The best thing is that they post all of their fabrics on their website, so you can shop on-line if you want to!  BTW, I don't have any financial interest in this shop, I just love it a lot!

But, I digress.  After I got all the FG and stripe blocks assembled, I decided to use the remaining blue yardage as the border, with a FG block in each corner.  I had barely enough fabric to make this border, and I have enough of the dark red to do the binding.  

So this is the quilt that's been occupying my time this month.  I'll link this to Sarah's post and with any kind of luck, I'll have this quilt in the mail by June 2 which is the deadline. I'm sure that if the quilt is a few days--or even a week!--late, the organization will still accept it.  

This project has been a triple win for me. First, I got to use up that fabric which had been languishing in my stash for way too long. Second, the quilt will be given to a refugee family as part of their new home in America. Thirdly, Sarah has organized the most amazing prizes for us quilt makers.  Giving this quilt to the new American family is reward enough for me, and if I should happen to win a prize, well, that's just icing on the cake!


Sunday, April 30, 2017

Gardening time

For the past couple of days, I've been occupied with gardening chores. While it's too soon to actually plant much of anything, there's lots of prep work that needs doing before we begin the actual planting.

Don and I spent a morning spreading leaves over our two garden plots at the Community Gardens. We've gardened there for the past 3 summers, taking over the plots our daughter had for the three previous seasons. The soil is very sandy so we have to add organic stuff to try to enrich it and the create a more humous soil which is better for growing things. We had saved the leaves from raking last fall and got the last bag dumped and spread out just as the guy showed up to till all the garden plots. Great timing since we wanted the leaves turned under and into the soil. Now we just let the worms do their thing!

After we got that job done, I began working on the front flower bed. Although it's a new bed, there seemed to be a nice assortment of undesirable plants germinating. Weeds, in other words. Where do these guys come from!  Since I've not done any of the kneeling, stretching, and getting up and down since last summer, I decided to split the job into two days, and yesterday, I got it finished with very little soreness in my body today.

My little plants that I started in the house here a couple of weeks ago seem to be doing pretty well. The first picture below is the tomatoes, peppers, and other assorted things that will go into our personal garden.



This second picture is of the 24 cabbage plants I've started.  I may keep a couple of them for personal use but most will go to the food shelf here in town.


Last year we'd decided that we didn't need both plots for personal use and ended up having a lot of barren ground that had to be weeded a lot, for no purpose.  We figure we need about 1& 1/3 of the two plots and the other 2/3 will be planted with things for the food pantry. Cabbages, carrots, ,onions and potatoes are the goal.  Today I want to get the potatoes and onions and tomorrow they can be put in the ground.  The cabbages aren't big enough yet and it's still too cool for the carrot seeds.  

Also today, I want to begin cleaning out the raised flower beds Don built last summer.  We have some day lilies and iris in the beds but there's a lot of dried up plant material that should be removed to the compost bin before we put in new plants for the summer.

All of this to say that I've not been in the sewing room for days. Last summer, I did very little gardening since I had that extremely sore thumb and wrist, but now that's been fixed so I expect that I'll be getting my hands in the dirt a lot more. And frankly, it feels very good to be outside after such a long winter.  

I plan to continue working on my quilting projects throughout the summer but at a slower pace.  And I probably will continue posting but again at a slower pace. When Lily's here, and the weather is so very fine, I find it hard to spend time inside on the computer when there's so much that can be done outside.  

Don and I were talking about an anticipated train trip to Washington this September and one of the things we want to do is some hiking in the Olympic National Park as well as at Mt. Ranier National Park.  That means that I need to begin training NOW!  I already have a plan:  Begin with the 1.5 mile walk in my neighborhood for a week or so and see how that goes, gradually increasing the distance. Speed has never been my goal, just distance.  All this upcoming hiking also means that losing a few pounds--Let's be real here, I need to lose a LOT!--will help my poor knees tolerate all this walking.  I've had success in the past with a low carb diet so I prowled around the internet looking for ideas, and I think that's the way I'm going to go.  Wish me luck with this new venture.  I'll be posting updates from time to time, but only if things are going well. If I don't say anything about walking and dieting, you'll know I've not followed through but for now I'm going to be positive about it.

So I'd better turn off this computer, lace up my walking shoes and get a move on!

Friday, April 28, 2017

One weeks' worth in one post

When I woke up this morning, I realized that it was Friday and that a week ago, I was packing up to spend 3 wonderful days at quilter's retreat. Then I also realized that it has been a week since I last posted in this blog!  I have been so proud of myself for posting nearly every day except when I've been traveling.  I guess it's time to catch you up on activities here in cloudy and cold Wisconsin.

Monday, April 24
Related image

I couldn't believe it when I turned over and saw that it was 8:30!  OMG! I guess I was really, really tired from 3 days of quilt partying at retreat over the weekend! 

I was at Nawbury Lodge in New Auburn, WI, about 50 miles from my home, with 14 other wonderful quilters, and Boy Oh Boy! did we have a ball!  Great friends with lots of laughter and giggles, wonderful food, and of course, lots of sewing done.  But I was exhausted when I arrived home, barely able to put my things away in the sewing room.


While at the retreat, I got a good start at the charity quilt I'm making for the Hands2Help project organized by Sara at confessions of a fabric addict.  I got 3 rows sewn together and the flying geese blocks made up for another 3 rows.  Since there are 12 rows in the twin sized quilt, I was nearly half done with the piercing.  Yea!  I'm using the 4 charm packs I'd purchased several years ago, along with some yardage, to make up the FG and believe me, I really wish I hadn't decided to use the charms in the FG design. The geese measure about 2" by 4" finished and that means there's a lot of sewing and cutting that goes into making all of them. I calculate that one charm pack, minus the 4 or 5 pieces that I'm not using in this project, make up about 140 FG!  And multiply that by 4 equals a lot of FG!


I also finished piecing the Bless My Garden embroidery project and that's ready for quilting up.



And I struggled to make up one The Farmer's Wife Sampler block, so now I have 9 made up--out of a hundred or so!  What was I thinking! Each block takes me several hours to make up since paper piecing is not my favorite and I struggle quite a bit. I keep thinking that if I keep at it, I'll finally get it.  "Nevertheless, she persisted."

Today, I have a grocery run to make, some housework waiting for me, and finish putting away my things in my sewing room. That should keep me out of trouble for a bit. I also have an appointment with my customer to deliver the wall quilt she asked me to make.  Hope she likes it!

Tuesday, April 25

Today was medical day.  First thing was to head over to Eau Claire to see the doc and get the cast taken off my hand. What a relief to have it off!  I realized that I've never had to have anything casted until now, and I don't like the feeling of it. Thanks goodness I only had to wear it for a week or so, and not the 6 or more weeks that you have for serious broken bones.  I was a little afraid to move my thumb since it hurt so much before when I did, but, nope, no pain now!  I am a happy woman!  All I have to do is daily massage for a month and some hand exercises.

In the afternoon, I took out the leaf rake and finished raking the front yard. I found some leftover organic fertilizer that I wanted to get on the lawn before it was too late, and I finished up that job just as the first raindrops began falling. It rained steadily all evening.  Perfect timing on my part since the fertilizer directions say to water heavily after applying.  No worry about that now!

Wednesday, April 26

Today looks like a NBS kind of day--Nothing But Sewing--except for a couple loads of laundry.  I think I've recovered from the marathon sewing I did at retreat and am ready to round up the flying geese and get them in rows and into the quilt top. I'm also intrigued by making another Farmer's Wife block, and I have 3 or 4 Solstice Challenge blocks to make to get caught up with that again.

In the picture of the FG quilt above, you can see that indeed, I assembled another 3 rows and now have the quilt top half done!  Unfortunately, I don't have enough of the cream colored fabric and will have to find more of it. Fortunately, it's a very popular line called Fusions by Kaufman, I think, and I know of 2 shops that carried it in the past and may still have it.  If it's not at the nearby store in Rice Lake, I'll take a road trip up north to Floodwood MN where I've found the fabric on their website.

And to update you, my customer loves the wall quilt!  In fact, she liked it so much, she paid me twice what I was asking, since it was for charity!  I was so surprised!  I know I've said it before, but when I make a quilt for a customer, the money they pay goes to my Jolly Ruby account as does all the revenue from the Jolly Ruby Etsy store.  This money then goes to help people with disabilities who run into unexpected expenses like car repairs, appliance replacement, and so forth. I donate the money to the two area counties and one of them uses it to pay for home delivered meals for these younger people who can't cook for one reason or another and who don't have the funds to pay for the meals out of pocket. More often than not, my customers pay more than the asking price since it's for charity, and every time, my faith in the goodness of people is restored.


Thursday, April 27

Today was Road Trip and Shop Hop day!  Yesterday, my husband asked me to make a wall quilt for him using fabrics denoting his career as an educator and I suggested a couple of ideas but he wasn't sure. I said he'd have to come shopping with me and choose the fabrics himself--and he agreed!  So, today was the day.  When I'd met up with my friend, Bonnie, last week, she brought me a huge shopping bag overflowing with yarn that she no longer needed, so this was the time to take it to the prisoners for their craft program.  Don and I went there first, about 40 or 50 miles away, and he grumbled all the way!  However, when he stepped into the shop, his mouth dropped open in amazement over all the things tucked away in there.


This was a place called Sew and Sew in Stanley, WI, way out in the country, and they have a very nice assortment of not only fabric but embroidery and wools as well.  We didn't find anything for his wall hanging but he did like the golf fabric very much. Have I ever mentioned that Don's an avid golfer? Well, indeed, he is.  In fact, he has a golf simulator in one of the basement rooms where he "lives" in the winter, and when he saw the golf fabric, he immediately asked me to make him a wall quilt for his golf room, so we got a yard of that fabric for me to work with.

As we were leaving the shop, I noticed a couple of metal lawn chairs to the side of the door. Between the two chairs was this!



Next, we headed to Rice Lake to see if the Busy Bobbin had anything for his other wall quilt, and yes, they did. This shop is crammed full of all sorts of fabrics and in the specialty section, he spotted a couple of music themed bolts. Well, since he's also a "musician," (she said, tongue in cheek) he thought this would be perfect for the wall quilt. There were two coordinating bolts so we got a yard of each.  Don't know what I'll do with them, but I'm leaning toward large half square triangles using colors from my stash.  We'll see.  And, no, they didn't have the Fusions fabric that I need, but Angie suggested that rather than driving all the way to Floodwood, I could send them a swatch and see if they can match it. Great idea!  I'll get that taken care of today.

Also today, Don and I will spend some time at our spot in the community gardens spreading bags of leaves over the soil. The gardens will be tilled in the next few days and if the leaves get turned under and into the soil, that will be a very good thing.  After that, I need to sit down with paper, pencil and calculator and figure out how much a trip to the Canadian Maritime Provinces would cost and then see if Bonnie has any time free this spring to spend a week or so out there with me.  She and I have been wanting to take this trip for the longest time, and just now I have the cash so it's time to spend it!

I also want to get back in the sewing room and make a couple of backs for 2 throw sized quilts that are waiting for me to get them done, and maybe make a couple (or a hundred) more flying geese!

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

When I went on this blog site to write today's post, I realized that I'd saved yesterday's post so that's published today as well.

Good thing, too, as I have very little to say today. Yesterday and all week for that matter, promises to be cloudy, cool, and rainy--perfect weather for sewing--with warm and sunny days over the weekend when I'll be inside at retreat. Aaaaarrrrrgggghhhh!  But, actually, any weather is good weather for working on a quilt, don't you think?

I'm proud to report that I got all my seeds planted yesterday, and when I return from retreat on Sunday, they may have sprouted.  Don and I have 2 plots in the community gardens and we decided that for just the two of us, we only need about 1 1/3 plots. This year that extra space will be filled with onions, potatoes, cabbages, and carrots, most of which will  be donated to the food pantry here in town.  We also grow a couple kinds of tomatoes and two kinds of peppers--hot and sweet--green beans, broccoli, brussels sprouts, beets, cucumbers and dill, and maybe other things this year as well.  But nothing happens until nearly the end of May when the soil and air are warm enough for the seeds and young plants.

I also spent time in the sewing room making up a sample block of the flying goose blocks I want for the charity quilt.  I changed my mind on the block layout after seeing this on pinterest:

Image result for flying geese blocks

I like the pinwheels effect and I made up one block out of the Warmth charm squares and that looked pretty good as well.  The blocks measure 6 1/2" unfinished so I may put 4 of them together to make a 12 1/2" block and then add the sashing.  There are enough pattern and color choices to make this idea work, well, at least I'll give it a try and see what happens.

No further progress on my applique last night. I just didn't feel like doing it, but never fear, I will return to it, probably tonight.  When I finish this post, I'm in the kitchen for a couple of hours making a lasagne for my daughter and my husband to have on Saturday when I'm gone. Jo's coming home to celebrate her father's birthday with him and she's requested what she's always referred to as "Good Lasagne."  What does that say about the other dishes I made for her all those years she lived under our roof?  LOL

This afternoon, I get my eyes checked and I think I'll have a second pair of glasses made up as a spare. I have some old frames that I think they can use. Last summer while I was at the community garden, I ran a wheelbarrow over my glasses on the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend, and they were quite mangled but the lenses were okay.  I managed to drive home without them, but it was tricky, I can tell you.  Don and I got to WalMart about 10 minutes before the eye center closed and they were able to fix them for me, thank goodness!  Otherwise, I'd have to spend the entire weekend without glasses, and even after half an hour, I was getting a headache.   So I decided I should have a back up pair, and now's the time to get them made up. 

So, I'd better get a move on--Good Lasagne is calling me!

I had to "organize" another road trip

I consider myself a fairly organized person. Rarely do I have to search for my car keys and so forth, unlike my husband.  He used to misplace his keys all the time and it drove me crazy hunting for them, until he hit on the idea of paying the children to find them for him. "I'll give you a dollar if you find my keys"  was heard more than once as we  were getting ready for work and school. Years and years later, the kids confessed that it wasn't unusual for them to take his keys and hide them when they needed an extra dollar or two!   Clever little buggers, weren't they?

But I digress.  I've never paid my kids to find things for me because I can usually locate them myself. Except in the sewing room.  For some reason, I put things away in there and often times have a very hard time remembering where they are. Take my applique supplies for example. I'd taken a class several years ago on needle turn applique and bought milliners needles, silk thread and applique pins at that time, with every intention of practicing this art.  Over the following five years or so, I'd come upon these things from time to time, and I'd always thought I should put them together in a place where I can find them when I'm ready to applique.  So, yesterday, I was ready to begin the applique on Bless My Garden and do you think I could find the needles and thread?  Not a chance.  I turned the sewing room upside down, and could only locate the pins. So off to Eau Claire I go--again!--to get the needles and thread. (Remember, its a 25 mile trip each way for me to go to this LQS) I found the needles at one store but had to go to another to find the thread, not silk, but a 60 wt cotton, very fine.


Other than in the class years ago, I've never done needle turn applique but I thought this was a good project to begin on since it's only stitching circles onto a square of fabric.  The long thin milliners needles, or straw needles as some call them, are really easy to use and make it quite easy to turn under the seam allowance. And this fine thread disappears without a trace.  I'm happy to show you what I accomplished last night:


These are the  blocks that I appliqued last night and I have 9 more to go.  I'm really liking how the muslin embroidery looks on the rust fabric, and the lighter sashing fabric will look great as well.

While I was waiting in the LQS for the clerk to finish with another customer, I had to take a look at the Civil War repro fabric that this shop specializes in, and what a treasure trove I came home with! Take a look at these 13 fat quarters that now live with me!


As always, the lighting in my house gives everything a yellowish hue so these are really not quite as yellow as they appear.  They'll join the others in my bin of CW fabrics, and this morning I decided I'll take them with me to retreat this weekend, along with half a dozen foundation papers for my Farmer's Wife Sampler quilt. I began working on this project last summer and set it aside as I got busy in the fall with the quilt festival followed by holidays and then our winter sojourn in Alabama.  But I'll have them with me to work on if I feel inspired.

The LQS didn't have the silk thread I wanted so I went to a locally owned sewing center also in Eau Claire, and while they didn't have the silk, the owner was very helpful.  In addition to the thread, I also picked up several Frixon pens since mine are empty and dry after only 3 or 4 years--Can you imagine!  They also had some sale fabric and I picked up this floral thinking of a Stack and Whack quilt in my future.  I've heard this referred to as a "one block wonder" as well.  I think this will make a very pretty and feminine quilt.


While I was in town yesterday, I made a grocery run at one of my favorite stores over there, and after I was home and put everything away, I had time to spend in the sewing room. First I made up the applique blocks that I worked on after dinner, and I also made a final decision as to the charity quilt I'll be working on at retreat. Drum roll, please!  The Final Decision is to make the quilt out of this "Warmth" fabric that I bought, again, several years ago--maybe 5 or so. 


I have 4 charm packs of this collection and I'd also purchased several yards of coordinating dark red, navy blue and cream fabric to go with.  I'm making flying geese out of the charm pack squares with the cream as the background.  I'll use the red as the sashing and the blue for the outer borders.  I haven't decided on a layout for the geese yet, but I'm leaning toward the layout used in the Underground Railroad quilt. But in mine, the goose bodies will be colored and the background will be cream. This design may change as I work on it, with the other option being putting the geese in strips with some sashing between. We'll see how I feel as it progresses.   

Image result for underground railroad quilt blocks pictures

Depending on how many of the charm squares I use to make a twin sized quilt, I may have enough left over to make a second quilt. If so, they would both go to the Hands2Help group I'm participating with this year.  They're due in June, so I have to get a move on.

Today, I MUST get my seeds planted or it will be way too late. I'm pushing it already, as it is, then it's back into the sewing room to get organized for the retreat.    


Sunday, April 16, 2017

He's up!


Happy Easter!

Image result for easter images\


Every year at Easter time, I remember a skit Garrison Keillor did on the Prairie Home Show many, many years ago. I heard it one time and never heard it repeated.  Maybe the audience objected to it as being sacrilegious, I don't know. As I remember it, the skit is about Holy Week in Lake Woebegone and how the priest of Our Lady of Perpetual Responsibility was able to get some assistance from the young priests in training at the seminary at St. John's nearby.  This was in the 1970's when there was a lot of change, turmoil, and some would say, chaos, in the Catholic church.  The seminarian was a "liberal," a progressive," and that didn't necessarily suit the good Catholics of Lake Woebegone.  Father Emil gave him the honor of performing the sunrise service at the church.  As it came near to dawn in our favorite little town, the church gradually filled with parishioners until there were no empty seats. When the time came to begin the Mass, the young priest-to-be stepped out onto the altar area wearing not the robes and other garments a priest usually wears, but jeans and a T shirt printed with an image of the Lord on waterskis, and the caption, "He's up!"  

So Happy Easter to anyone who takes the time to read this, and I hope your faith is restored and strengthened because, indeed, "He's up!"  Easter here at my house is extremely low key this year. No visitors, and no going out to dinner or even brunch. Just Don and me here but I have a very good smelling dish in the slow cooker--lemon and garlic chicken breasts--that I'll serve tonight with a baked potato and some cooked asparagus. I would love to have a bite of coconut or lemon cake for dessert, but neither Don nor I need that indulgence.

Our daughter, Jo, had mentioned coming home on Friday night for an early Easter dinner, but I said, no, I probably wouldn't be in much condition to cook or entertain since I was scheduled for surgery on my thumb that morning.  And I sure wasn't in any shape to have anyone over that night, not even my youngest child.  The surgery went very well and I'll have a cast on my thumb until I return to the doc on the 25th.  I took two doses of hydrocodone on Friday and on Sat morning I said, "Nuts to that!" and only took a dose of Tylenol.  Since then, I've not needed any pain medication of any kind. 

Boy, that hydrocodone is nasty stuff!  It took away any pain I had in my thumb/wrist but it absolutely knocked me out.  And when I woke up from it, I felt like I had a hangover, and I definitely thought I'd left that feeling behind me when I moved out of my 20's. No thanks!

Yesterday Don and I had a wonderful Easter/Birthday lunch with good friends but by the time we were finished, I was exhausted.  Ha is from Viet Nam and he and his wife, Carol, invited us to go with them next year on a trip back there. Don served a couple of tours in the war in Viet Nam and we're both really excited about taking this trip.  So, we have about a year and a half to make plans with them and get it all pulled together.  

Needless to say, nothing is happening on the quilting front, other than I finished the last of the embroidered blocks for Bless My Garden and when I'm finished with this post, I'm going to cut the squares so I can begin appliqueing the embroidery to the rust colored fabric.  

So, once again, Happy Easter!


Thursday, April 13, 2017

Quilter's road trip

Let me see if I can remember yesterday.  It seems as though the days are so similar that it's hard to distinguish one from the other. That tells me it's time to break out of this routine and begin doing something different---but what will it be? That's my challenge-to decide what I want to do that will be new, exciting, and above all, interesting.  Don't hold your breath. It may take awhile to decide.  :)

I know I spent way too much time on the computer yesterday and the day was half gone before I got off. That's a huge time waster, I know.  I've limited myself to only scanning Facebook on my phone and not spending so much time at the computer going over all the posts.  So far, I've kept to that limit for the past 3 days, so I give myself a pat on the back for that.  

Of the choices I had of things to do yesterday, I passed over making backs for the 2 quilts that need to be sandwiched and tracing the final 2 designs for Bless My Garden, and chose to go on a road trip to the LQS, and I'm so happy that I did!  I went to The Calico Shoppe in Eau Claire, WI, and they had exactly what I was looking for!  The store is as inviting inside as the entrance promises.  

Image result for The calico shoppe images

This store seems to specialize in Civil War repro fabrics and I was hoping I could find something in their collection that would work with the embroidery I'm doing. Yes, indeed, they had it.  The first thing was to find a fabric that will work in a quilt I was asked to repair and, with the help of both clerks (the store wasn't very busy when I was there), I was able to.  It's the light grayish blue/green shown in the picture below.  I had them cut enough to make the patches and the binding for the quilt, and rounded it up to a full yard so I'll have leftovers to use in something else.


After we found the right fabric for the repairs, we moved on to choose 2 fabrics for Bless My Garden. This was quite a challenge since the sample in the book was done in reds and mine is in gold and greens but I kept choosing fabrics that had red in them.  Not good, so the clerks were able to keep me on track and we finally decided on the rust colored fabric for the background of the embroidered circles as well as the outer borders. For the sashing between the blocks, we chose the lighter colored print which gas a tiny bit of red and an even tinier bit of blue/gray.  I'm glad I had the extra bit included when I decided on the bluish repair fabric since that will work perfectly for the sashing cornerstones in the wall quilt!  Win/Win!

Before I left the store, I had to peek into the sale room where I usually find something to take home with me.  And I spotted this brown with tiny peppermint designs in it.  I bought all 3 1/3 yards that were on the bolt and I'll use it for something in the future.  Maybe in the twin size quilt I have to make for Hands2Heart.  



I love this flying geese quilt that my friend Bonnie and I made a few years ago and want to make another one. I could make the geese out of Civil War fabrics in my stash and use the new brown for the sashing which is green in this photo.  I just have to make sure I can adjust the pattern to make it large enough for the charity.  


Yes, I think this is the project I'll bring to spring retreat next week.  Along with some other things to work on if I get bored or hung up on this quilt.  

Today, I'm going to catch up on some housework so I have a clean house for the weekend.  I'm having surgery on my thumb and wrist tomorrow so I think a clean house would be a good thing.  I also want to trace out the last embroidery designs so I can continue working on them, and I'm determined to find the special needles and thread so I can begin the needle turn applique as soon as I finish the embroidery.

Again, nothing very exciting going on here in NW WI.  The snow we had a couple of days ago melted by evening, and since then it's been cloudy and drizzly.  Perfect weather for sewing, but truly, I wouldn't mind seeing the sun once in awhile.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Quilts are up in my sewing room!

Yesterday, Don and I spent over an hour hanging a quilt rack on the wall in my sewing room as well as 2 curtain rods. So now I have some places to display the quilts I've been making. I always found it interesting that I finally have a room dedicated to my quilting obsession but have no quilts on display, thrown over the couch, or anywhere else in the room.  Now that's about to change!

I found this quilt rack at my neighbor's garage sale last summer for $5!  I'd planned on painting it but never could decide on a color, so it sat in the corner until yesterday.  Now it holds my embroidered Among the Pines quilt that I just love.  It's on the wall above the sleeper sofa and I'll be taking a look at it everytime I step into my room.  We also use this as an overflow guest room, so they'll have something interesting to see down there as well.


Here you can see the individual blocks a little better. The square ones are of a sailboat, bear, moose, campfire, cross country skier, snowshoes, canoe, and fireplace.


As I've mentioned (only once or twice, I'm sure) this is the tiniest embroidery that I've ever done. A lot of it with only one strand of floss.  This image with the dime gives you an idea of how tiny these stitches are. It was very painstaking work but I'm so glad I set out to make this wall quilt.  But I'll NEVER do it again!  BTW, it was on display in our library quilt exhibit over the weekend, and the librarians said it got a lot of compliments.  I'm happy with it for myself, but hearing that others like it too makes it all the sweeter.



On the wall to the left of the couch, there's enough room to put up 2 curtain rods to hang small quilts. I don't have anything in particular in mind for these two places so I pulled this hollyhock wall quilt from my closet and  put it up on one of the rods.  The other rod is empty for now--have to get busy and make up something, right?  I bought the hollyhock pattern and fabric on a fabric shopping trip with my sister over 5 years ago in Bemidji, MN.  I fell in love with it and made it up to hang in my office and I always think of Jan when I see it.  She loved it too and I had good intentions of making one for her as a surprise, but she died suddenly before I could do it. It's a combination of applique (machine) and patchwork and I tried out my machine quilting skills on this piece before I'd learned to do FMQ better.  If I made a second one, which I'm not planning on doing, mind you, I think I would use the same quilting designs, but executed better.


After we finished with hanging the quilt rods, I began hand stitching the binding on the customer quilt.  It's not very large--about 50" by 25"--but it took me over 2 hours to get it done!  I'm always surprised at how long it takes to do certain quilting things, things that I always think will only take a few minutes.  Well, it was a relaxing way to spend the afternoon, listening to a collection of Maeve Binchy stories on audio books.  

Oh! Oh!  I just had a thought of what to make to put on the 3rd wall of the room!  (The fourth wall is filled with a large bookcase and doesn't have room for any quilts to hang there.)  I have a pattern for a pieced iris flower similar to the one below.

Image result for pieced iris quilt pattern

I think I'll make it up and frame it with checkerboard or hourglass blocks and then put it in a frame like the one below.  I found a frame at a thrift store and need to refinish the wooden frame. I think the iris, which is one of my very favorite flowers, will work very well in my sewing room.  


I saw this in a quilt shop in Minocqua, WI last June when I was on the WI shop hop with a couple of friends and I really liked the idea, and now I have the space for it, the frame for it, and the pattern to use.  So we'll just put this on the list of quilts to be made, shall we, and wait for the right time to do it!

I also thought about quilts for this room last night, and decided that I should resume working on a crumb quilt I started a couple of years ago and make it up to keep on that couch for a little extra warmth in that basement room.  Maybe I'll take it and my box of crumbs to the spring retreat.  

I didn't get around to copying the last two Bless My Garden embroidery blocks and I didn't even look at making the backs for the two quilts I want to sandwich. Today, maybe?  Or maybe I'll take a trip to the LQS and get some fabric for Bless My Garden. Which would you do if it were you?  :) 



Tuesday, April 11, 2017

A snowy finish--almost!

The view from my front door this morning when I woke up.  I almost thought I was in the Caribbean on a white sand beach--but, no.  Nothing more needs to be said about this.


That was the snowy part. Now comes the finish part. The customer's wall quilt is finished but for hand sewing the binding and I'll do that this afternoon while listening to an audio book I got from the library.


I stitched a different design in each of the same-colored rectangles, a feather in the light yellow, 



outlined flowers and leaves in the gold blocks,


up and down in the dark blue,


and other designs that don't show up too well on the camera. I'm glad to be nearly finished with it and I hope the customer likes what I've done with it.  Regardless, I'll be delivering it to her in the next couple of days, I hope.

Other than finishing up the quilting on this piece, I worked on my embroidery and have nearly finished all the little 5" blocks. There are 2 more that I neglected to trace so I'll get that done today and carry on.  I think I'll have to go on a little road trip tomorrow to the LQS to get fabric that will work with the embroidery.  Then, I'll be hand appliqueing the embroidered circles onto squares of the fabric I choose.  I've had a class in needle turn applique, several years ago, but have never actually done any, so I think this is a good place to begin with it.  All curved edges, nothing too challenging. That means I'll have to go through my sewing room to see if I can find the silk thread and milliner's needles that I bought at the class and if not, I guess I'll have to buy them again!  Wish me luck!

I also want to make up a couple of backs for Jo's T shirt quilt shown in the 2 pics below,

Left side

Right side

and for this aqua and cream throw sized quilt top I finished this winter. I realize that I don't have a picture of the finished top on this computer but this is the center of the quilt. I finished it off with a stop border and then a 4" piano key border of the remaining aquas and greens that I had. I'll post a picture of it in the next day or two.


I also need to give some thought to what I'm going to take to spring retreat next week.  I think I'll concentrate on making up the top for the Hands2Help project that I joined this year. But I haven't decided what pattern to use!  I guess that's the first thing, right? I do know that it'll be a scrappy quilt--gotta clear out the stash closet to make room for more coming in!

So my day consists of hand sewing the binding on the customer quilt, tracing the last 2 embroidery blocks, and making up at least one backing for the 2 quilts I want to get sandwiched and quilted up ASAP.  What's on the agenda for you today? I'd love to hear!

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Hello, everyone.  I took a few days off from blogging--just because I didn't have the energy to figure out what to write about. But now I have a few things to say.

First of all, we've had 2 days of glorious weather, and the bulbs I planted last fall have begun to bloom in my new front yard flower bed. Yay!  I was so afraid the squirrels would dig them up and replant them all over my yard as well as all around the neighborhood. If they did any digging, at least they left a few for me, and I'm happy about that. Below  is the side of the bed that I see from the house . . .


and this is the side that's seen from the street.


The dead brushy things in there are the gorgeous mums I planted last fall. I don't know if they'll come back this year or if the winter is too harsh for them.  Only time will tell. I also planted some winterberry bushes around the rocks--that's a winter hardy holly that grows well here--and there are some day lilies, irises and monarda coming up as well.  I'll fill in the bed with more perennials later in the season, as well as some annuals for year long color, I think.

Image result for images of deer fawn

One of the problems I foresee this summer and every summer to come, is DEER!  And RABBITS! A few days ago I checked on the crocuses that I'd planted  along with the daffys and tulips and discovered that someone had been nibbling on them!  We have multiple herds of deer that roam through our neighborhood on a nightly basis, and I thought at first that Bambi had been snacking on the crocuses and a couple of tulips, but later on I saw a big fat rabbit in the back yard and realized that Peter Cottontail could also have done the damage. Either way, I sprinkled some dried blood all over the flower bed and have seen no further damage. Go have lunch in someone else's garden, you scoundrels!

Dried blood--sounds awful, doesn't it?--is the only thing that we've found effective in keeping deer and rabbits from eating our gardens.  We get it at the discount store or hardware store in the gardening section and it really works--as long as you keep reapplying it after every rain. The rain dissolves it into the soil, which is good since it's a fertilizer, and if we skip a day or two, sure as shooting, we'll have nibblers in the garden.

In the quilty/sewing/crafting section of my life, I am so proud to show you 4 doll sweaters that I finished up the other day. I'd made 3 of them over the winter but put them aside before sewing the seams and putting on the buttons. I got so tired of looking at them that I finished off the most recent one that I'd knit on my train trip back from Washington, and immediately got to work on the unfinished ones.  Right now I have about 10 of these sweaters made up but don't have the dresses or other clothes to go with them.  When I have the entire outfits made--sweater, dress, pants, and shirt--I'll put them up for sale in my Etsy shop and hopefully, they'll sell before Christmas comes this year.


I've also been working on an embroidered wall hanging called "Bless My Garden" from the Gail Pan book, Patchwork Loves Embroidery. It's a rather small wall hanging--the embroidered blocks are only about 5" so the entire thing will measure  25" by 31."  I'm doing my embroidery with 12 wt Sulky variegated thread (the other day I'd said it was Superior Thread, but it's actually Sulky) in a gold/green/rust colorway and I'll find fabrics that are in those same colors to make up the rest of the piece.  I plan on hanging it in my TV room where those colors will work very well, I think.



Here are some closeups of some of the blocks that are stitched but as you can see, not pressed.  



I'm liking the effect of using this thread instead of floss, but I'm having difficulty with it twisting and knotting more than I'm used to.  What I like is that the stitching looks much more delicate than it would had I been working with floss.  No hurry on this one--I'll just stitch it as I watch a movie or listen to an audio book.

Yesterday I spent at the library for the 3 bed turnings we offered to the public. The turnout was smaller than I'd hoped, but the people who came were pleased and impressed, I think, at the quality of quilting we had to show.  This was the first time we've done anything like this, so if we repeat it again in the future, maybe more people will stop by.  What the librarians told us was that the individual quilts that we have on display at the book checkout are attracting a lot of comments. People really like them!  We can only display one or two quilts at a time so we change them out every 2 or 3 days.  I'll go over there later this afternoon and put up a new quilt for the next few days.

That's what I've been up to these past couple of days. Today, I am determined to get back in the sewing room and finish the quilting on my commision quilt so I can stitch the binding on tonight and get it delivered in a day or two.  I have all the ditch quilting done and about half of the decorative stitching in the colored blocks, so I should be able to get it done, if not today, then tomorrow for sure.

I hope you're having a very pleasant spring Palm Sunday wherever you are, and have flowers blooming in your garden or at least the hint of flowers to come.  



Thursday, April 6, 2017

The Destination Meeting

Once a year, the guild has a "Destination Meeting" where we pick an area quilt shop and instead of holding our regular meeting at the Rec Center, we drive to the shop and check it out.

This year, the group chose to visit The Quilting Nook and More, in nearby Osseo, WI.  I'd been there once before and thought it was a great shop. The guild visit was not disappointing one bit.  Below is the picture they have on their FB page  https://www.facebook.com/The-Quilting-Nook-More-LLC-995142400550205/ (so far there isn't a web page). Actually, that's the display in their front window right now.  As always, I never thought to take pics of the group while we were there, so I'll do my best with words.


Although this is a small shop, Theresa has packed it with gorgeous fabrics--many of them Civil War repros and Kansas Troubles-type of designs.  Of course, I love these fabrics and the other night I had to bring some home with me, pictured below.


These are 4 half yard pieces and 4 fat quarters that will go nicely in my stash of Civil War-type fabrics.  But I think I'll have to move this stash to a larger bin since the last time I looked, it was kinda overflowing!  Or maybe I should get moving and sew them up into something!  

There's also a great selection of Gail Pan and Crabapple Hill hand embroidery patterns and kits. I fell in love with Gail Pan during my first visit to the Quilting Nook last fall, and this time, I purchased her book, Christmas Patchwork Loves Embroidery, and can't wait to go through it and decide what I want to make out of it. I think embroidered ornaments will sell in my Etsy shop at Christmas time, so I'll probably make up some of them to start.  I also got a spool of red and green variegated Superior thread 12 wt that I'll use to stitch up these projects.  



Before we were "allowed" to shop, Theresa had a demo prepared for us. She showed how to make an Easter Egg placemat, quilt as you go, which can serve as a trivet if you use a heat resistant batting instead of or in addition to cotton batting.  She had a pattern made up for each of us and I just may make up some of them, again  for the Etsy shop next Easter.  Or I may forget to do it by that time!  

My friend Barb came to my house in the afternoon before the Destination Meeting and we had a quick and easy early supper before we left.  If we'd had time, I would have suggested that we leave early and have dinner at one of my favorite local chain restaurants, The Norske Nook, which is just down the street from the quilt shop.  This place is known for Scandinavian foods, (they offer a wrap sandwich made with lefse instead of a tortilla!) and especially for their nationally award winning pies!  Apple pie at the Norske Nook is the best!  

But, we didn't have time to go there, which is okay since I really don't need another piece of apple pie.  Barb spent the night at my house since she has a long drive home and it was late.  After she left in the morning, I spent way too much time on the computer and developed a migraine that wiped me out for most of the afternoon.  No time in the sewing room yesterday, but I hope to get there today.  

I have a Dr's appt at 2:15 so we'll see how much of the afternoon is left when I get home from there. While we were in Alabama in February, I noticed a spot on my leg, near the ankle, that I'd not seen before, and it felt a little bit raised and rough.  Procrastinator that I am, I put off calling the doc until last week, and now I have 2 additional spots that I don't recall having before.  Not to get too technical but my body has always been covered with moles and other assorted freckles and such.  Once I counted the number of moles on one forearm, from elbow to wrist and came up with 35! It's really hard to notice anything different, and chances are good that these are simply new additions to my collection of warts, spots, and moles, but I want the Doc to tell me that. Wish me luck with this, and if they are cancerous, I'm sure they can be easily treated.  Positive attitude is everything, don't you agree?  And aren't you glad I didn't include a picture of these spots for you to see?  ;p)  Hah!

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

I've returned from my road trip

Yes, I made it home from my trip to Seattle with my son, Dan, and believe me, I was one tired cookie when Don picked my up at the train station! The trip out to Washington was a blast with Dan!  We left early Thursday morning with the goal being to push as hard as we could to make it to Montana for the night--about a 10 hour drive.  Getting around the cities of Minneapolis and St Paul was a breeze--we were on the road before the traffic got too bad--and heading northwest to North Dakota was also a breeze.

We both agreed that there isn't a whole lot to see crossing North Dakota except lots and lots and lots of wheat fields!  However, as we headed West, we came across some oil or gas wells as well as hitting the edge of Theodore Roosevelt National Park.  I'm short on pics to share with you because I was taking more of them on Dan's camera than on my phone.  The photo below is, I think, of the Badlands in Western ND. Pretty rugged country there, but not as barren as the Badlands in South Dakota, as I remember from a trip there 35 years ago.


We managed to push through and cross the border into Montana for the first night of the trip--right on schedule. The next morning we again took off bright and early but the morning coffee soon made itself felt and we stopped at a wayside rest stop at the confluence of the Yellowstone and Rosebud rivers in Eastern Montana to take care of business. I had to take a pic of my "boy." He looks quite happy there and as we got closer to Washington, his grin just got bigger and bigger!


The second night we spent in Missoula MT, surrounded by mountains. It was very beautiful and I can quite understand why my friend Pat loves to vacation in this state.  Even in the winter with cloudy skies and very little greening of the landscape, this is an extremely beautiful state.


Shortly after we left Missoula for the third and last day of the trip, we crossed MT into Idaho at Look Out Pass, pictured above, from the ski lodge there. Had a great chat with one of the ski patrol who grew up in Seattle and gave Dan some tips on living there.  Can you imagine how beautiful this place must be in the summer with all that dirty snow melted and grasses, flowers and trees all in their splendor?  I think I need to return a little later in the season to see for myself!  After we crossed Idaho, it was flatland across Eastern Washington until we hit the Cascade Mountains just East of Seattle. More beautiful scenery and again, I can only imagine how beautiful they must be in summer.

Our plan was to take me to my downtown Seattle hotel and then Dan would meet up with his friends for dinner and to go Vashon Island where he'll be staying until he finds an apartment.   I was in a really great hotel--got a King Executive Suite!--and believe me, I really enjoyed being out of the car after 3 days of driving!  To be honest, I was a bit lonely after Dan dropped me off and I settled into my room.  I truly enjoyed having all that time with my son, who I rarely see by himself anymore, and I'm so glad I was able to spend the time with him.  I know I and the whole family will miss him but I also know that this is a very good move for him as well as his entire family.  So, I can't be too sad.

 I was in a really great hotel--got a King Executive Suite!--and believe me, I really enjoyed being out of the car after 3 days of driving!  But, to be honest, I was a bit lonely after Dan dropped me off and I settled into my room.  I truly enjoyed having all that time with my son, who I rarely see by himself anymore, and I'm so glad I was able to spend the time with him.  I know that I and the whole family will miss him but I also know that this is a very good move for him as well as his entire family.  So, I can't be too sad.                                        

Sunday morning, I had a huge, and delicious, breakfast at the hotel, knowing I wouldn't have another meal until dinner, and took off with my bag to walk to the train station.  It was a little less than 2 miles and I thought I would be able to do that with ease.  However, I didn't figure in the weight of my bag!  OMG!  I thought I was going to die!  That thing must have weighed 50 pounds and fortunately, I'd brought the shoulder strap so I could carry it across my chest and not in my hand, but still I had to stop more than several time to let my bad knee recover a bit before going on.  But "still she persisted"  :) and I eventually made it. 

There were several vest pocket parks along the way where I could sit and rest for a little, one of them being this one on the site of the original UPS company. A gorgeous little waterfall, in the heart of the city.  I wasn't the only one who was lingering there that Sunday afternoon. 


And finally I made it to King St. Station which was amazing!  Built in 1904-1906, according to Wikipedia, the station has been completely renovated and restored to it's original beauty, and it is a sight to see!  I was in this station back in the early 1990s but I had no recollection of the depot being this ornate. Well, that's because the restoration was completed in 2013, so much of the plasterwork was hidden at the time of my first visit.  I spent about 3 hours here before boarding the train, and I wasn't bored one bit. (Excuse the play on words. Ahem.)
  

The train departed Seattle late Sunday afternoon and didn't arrive in St. Paul until early Tuesday morning meaning 2 nights on the train.  I didn't have a sleeper berth so that meant sleeping in the seat in coach. Fortunately, a lot of people got off in Spokane and I was able to have a double seat for myself for the rest of the trip. I could stretch out and get some pretty good quality sleep both nights.  
In the morning we were going through the mountains near and in Glacier National Park, and on the train you get real, real close to nature!  There are no shoulders on the train track as there are on the interstates, so the trees and rocks are right outside the window as you pass by.  Hard to take pictures because there's so much stuff outside the window, but I think this one kind of captures the mountains. It was snowing during this part of the trip, so it looks a bit hazy. Mountain in the background, river in the middle, and trees outside my window.


The rest of the trip was rather uneventful, again passing over the plains of eastern Montana and ND, but some of that time was at night so I slept through it.  We arrived in St. Paul about an hour ahead of schedule and fortunately, Don had left home with lots of time to spare in case he ran into traffic, so he arrived about 10 minutes after I did!  Perfect timing!  After we got home, he made plans to play golf, I unpacked, petted the cat and crawled into my bed--a real bed!--for a 2 hour nap. The rest of the day was spent getting ready for guild meeting that night.  And I'll tell you about that tomorrow.  

Now, I need to get to the store and replenish the larder since Don devoured everything while I was gone.  :)  I'm glad to be back home but I loved the trip.