Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Getting into production mode

I have my machine set up and all the tools are scattered over the dining table where I'll be sewing for the next month.

This is not my Allietare quilt below but a picture of one I found on line.  I made this Bonnie Hunter mystery quilt over a year ago. Well, I finished the center of the quilt, and I remember bringing it with me to Gulf Shores last year and showing it at the Bonnie Hunter class I attended while I was here.  All it needed were the two simple borders, and I had the border fabrics with me, but I guess I ran out of time and carried it back home with me, untouched.

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I made my quilt in the same colors as shown, and I think it turned out spectacularly!  I love the colors and can't wait to get it finished and on the bed.  I brought it along on this year's trip and yesterday, I took it out and began the finishing process.  I managed to get the inner gold border attached.  It's a 1" border and already I'm thinking of how I'll quilt that little strip.  I also have the black fabric with me for the final border and plan to get it attached today.  Bonnie finished her quilt with a scalloped edge and I will too.  I've been wanting to try a scalloped edge for some time, and now it the time.  I think I'll mark the scallops before I quilt it up, but won't cut anything until after the quilting. Then, I'll finish it off with a gold binding.

I also began making up the 3 kits I'd brought along for the guild charity quilts.  In each kit, there are 4 10" squares that we're supposed to make up into half square triangles.  Fortunately, I measured each square before I stitched or cut anything and most of them are cut a bit shy of 10", one of them nearly a quarter inch short.  I emailed the coordinator of the project asking for the dimensions of the HSTs so hopefully, I can stitch and cut and then square them up to the correct size.  Until I hear from her, I can't do anything more on that project.

In addition to sewing, I had to do the laundry since we'd accumulated quite a few dirty things as we traveled the width of the country last week.  I also found time to take a walk yesterday afternoon, beautiful sunny day with just a little breeze.  That's why we come here every winter when we can!

Today, grocery shopping is on the agenda.  We'd picked up a few things before we got to the cottage, but now we need to do a major shop.  

Monday, January 30, 2017

Another lazy day at the beach

I tell you, this lounging around can be addictive!  We slept late yesterday and then just puttered around all morning.  In the afternoon, we went to the movies and saw "Hidden Figures."  Wow!  What a terrific movie! If you haven't seen it yet, please do. The accomplishments of the women portrayed in the movie was to say the least, amazing!  In addition to performing gigantic feats in math for the space program, they also broke down racial barriers in 1960's Virginia. Great acting by all the lead actors--I totally forgot other roles these actors had played, they were that good.

So, instead of sewing yesterday, I went to the movies, but in the evening, I took up my embroidery again.  I've learned the hard way that I can't embroider while riding in the car as the roads are so bumpy that I can't get the needle in the spot I want to, so it's hopeless to keep picking it out. I can knit, however, and I did begin a knitting project that I'll work on periodically while here on the Gulf.

Back to embroidery.  Last night, I finished the 4th block of Among the Pines, shown below.


Today, I'll soak it a bit in cool water to get the sticky film washed out and then put it aside with the other 3 I've completed.  

Before we left WI, I made up the additional blocks for the wall hanging, so I was able to take out number 5 and begin on it as well.  This one has a lot of trees and rocks in the background, very delicate stitching with only one strand of floss, and very tedious work. But it looks fantastic when it's finished, so I guess it's worth it.


In April, my guild is having a quilt exhibit at our library to spotlight both National Library Week and National Quilting Week.  We want to display quilts that have some association with a book, poem, or author.  When we began planning this, we thought we could display throw and bed sized quilts but now we find that the floor space isn't generous enough and we're limited to nothing larger than a baby quilt.  Well, that changes my plans considerably!  I had planned on displaying my Bee-utiful embroidered quilt, but it's a little too large. I started this quilt before we thought of the library display, but I realized it could easily be associated with one of my favorite books, The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk.  

So now, I have to figure out something else, and it occurred to me while traveling, the embroidered Among the Pines is not only the perfect size, but it can be associated with another book I enjoyed very much, Return to Wake Robin.  I first listened to this book on "Chapter a Day" on WI public radio several years ago, and then I found it in the library and read it for myself.  This is a memoir of Marnie Mamminga of summers at her family's cabin on the shores of a lake near Hayward WI, an area in Northern Wisconsin where I and my family spent much time while my kids were younger. While my family never had our own cabin, we spent many weeks at the resorts in the area as well as in Northern MN, and I instantly returned to those days in my mind as I read Marnie's book.

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Among the Pines is perfect for the library exhibit.  The embroidered blocks depict canoeing, sailing, campfires, fireplaces and so many other things that are mentioned in the book.  As well as preparing the embroidery blocks before I left, I also picked out fabrics to use to finish the wall hanging, and my plan is to have the top finished and ready to sandwich and quilt when I get home in March.  Plenty of time to complete it before the April 1 opening of the show.  So, I have to work on the embroidery as well as the other projects I brought along for sewing. 

And, now it's time for me to get a move on and unpack my sewing machine and other tools.Lounging time is done for the day.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Wandering down Memory Lane

Yesterday was a lay-around-the-house kind of day.  I'm still not quite recovered from the nasty cold I've struggled with for the past 2 weeks, but every day I feel a little better. But still, we decided to simply hang out at the house and not do much of anything.  We did manage to haul ourselves outdoors in the afternoon for a bit of a walk so I guess the day wasn't a complete waste of time.

Since I didn't do any sewing yesterday as I'd planned, although I did work on some knitting I'd begun on the car ride down here, I thought I'd go through some of my old photos that are stored here on the old laptop. I calculated that this computer is at least 8 years old and the only time I use it is when we come to the Gulf. I found lots of quilt photos that I'd totally forgotten about, and when I get back home, I'll have to move these onto the big computer so the pics are all together.

But I digress.  The first pic is of a lap size quilt called "Scottish Rose."  I made this one as a wedding gift to the daughter of one of my best friends. She and her husband were living in Glasgow, Scotland, at the time, and I thought this was perfect for them. Especially since Amanda loves anything pink!



Next is a Christmas tree skirt I made which was intended for me.  I took some floral Christmas fabric and cut out the oval-like ornaments and appliqued them, their handles and bows onto a cream background, then quilted a cross hatch pattern throughout the background.   As I said, I made it for myself, but when my daughter saw it, she begged for it, so it now lives at her house.  I still have the old one for myself. Sigh.


This Halloween table topper I'd totally forgotten about. I made it for sale in my Etsy store and I guess it must have sold quickly since I have little memory of it. I hope the new owner's still enjoying it.


Next is a corner of a "tessellating stars" quilt I made out of a jelly roll of fabric made for the Wisconsin ship hop in 2013 or so.  I really like this quilt and especially the diamond border I created for it.  Unfortunately, it languishes in my closet, patiently waiting to be quilted up and put to use.


This Fishing Quilt did get finished up. I made this from a kit I got from Granola Girl, again, several years ago.  I put it together during my first or second trip to the Gulf, and actually did the quilting on it while we were here as well. This was a gift to my husband's cousin who has been a good friend to us. He loves to fish and when I saw this quilt, I knew it was perfect for him.


My granddaughter, Lily, asked me for a new quilt when she was too old for the baby quilt I'd made her. I thought this Disappearing 4 Patch would carry her into her teens.  I really liked the bright colors and I like the appliqued floral border.  


This is a little table runner I made basically from scraps and put up for sale in the Etsy shop. Again, this sold very quickly and I promptly forgot that I'd made it.  I think I should make another one for sale next Christmas.


That's it for this little walk down Memory Lane.  I've enjoyed revisiting these quilts and I hope you have too. If I get busy today, I may have more current quilt projects to share with you tomorrow.  This afternoon, we're going to see "Hidden Figures" so I don't know how much I'll get accomplished. We'll see.




Saturday, January 28, 2017

We're in the deep South!


Hello from Ft. Morgan, AL, my home for the next month.  That's actually Don waving from the base of the huge live oak tree dripping with Spanish Moss.

We left snowy Wisconsin last Tuesday, earlier than planned when we learned that a major winter storm was predicted to come our way. We wanted to get ahead of the storm and be south of it when it rolled across the Midwest. And we were successful! The plan had been to spend the first night at our son's home in Milwaukee but when we learned on the way there that Erin and two of the kids were sick with bad colds, we decided to simply drop off the things we were bringing them and go on our way. Erin sounded relieved when I told her we wouldn't be staying!  And we didn't want to get sick at the beginning of our vacation!

One of the things I brought to them was the (blue and white) log cabin quilt. Erin spread it on their bed, and I was relived that it was large enough to cover, and she seemed very pleased with it. Dan was at work and I haven't heard anything from him as to whether or not he likes it. Oh well, too bad if he doesn't, right?

Because we didn't stay in Milwaukee we were able to get as far as Southern Illinois for the first night.  As I was studying the atlas to plan our route for the next day--we were looking for a route to Birmingham bypassing Nashville where traffic is horrendous!--I noticed that we could easily visit the Military Battlefield National Park at Shiloh, TN.  Both Don and I are historians and really enjoy touring historic sites so we set our GPS for Shiloh National Military Park.

We arrived there about 2 hours before the park closed for the day, so we took  in the movie--which was an excellent overview of the battle and the importance of it to both sides of the Civil War--and prowled around the museum and bookstore until the staff was ready to throw us out.  The next morning, we spent about 4 hours going through the park and cemetery.

Fog on the battlefield

The photo above is one section of the battlefield.  This park is a lot like Gettysburg--lots of monuments and memorials, for both Union and Confederate forces--and a 12+ mile driving tour which we did. There's also a National military cemetery, on top of the bluff overlooking the very beautiful Tennessee River.  I took this picture of the drive to the river, alongside of the cemetery, in the early morning sunlight.


All in all, we're both glad we took the time to tour this National Park.  Over 23,000 men died during the 2 day battle and it brought home to both of us, the madness of war. Wouldn't you think that people would be able to work out our differences without killing each other? 

After we finished at the park, we had a short drive to Birmingham where we met up with my brother-in-law and two of his (adult) children and twin grandsons.  My sister died in 1989 when the children were still at home and in school, and somehow, I lost track of these nephews and niece until 2012 when we took our first trip to Alabama and reconnected with them.  I really enjoy seeing them and getting to know them a bit, and I hope we're able to see them more and more in the future.

At any rate, we left Birmingham early yesterday morning and stopped in Montgomery to visit the Civil Rights Memorial which is very impressive.  This memorial honors 40 of the many Americans, mostly African Americans, who gave up their lives in the struggle to gain their rights as American citizens.  

Maya Lin, Civil Rights Memorial

This is a photo taken from the website, of Maya Lin, the sculptor who created the Vietnam Memorial in Washington DC, and who also designed the memorial in Montgomery.  According to the website, "Lin found her inspiration in the words 'until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream,' a paraphrase from the Book of Amos that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. used in his "I Have a Dream" speech and at the start of the Montgomery bus boycott." She created the circular plaque with the events of the civil rights movement and the names of the 40 dead etched into the marble, with water flowing smoothly over all of it. This memorial was another very moving place for us, and we both added our names to the Wall of Tolerance, and pledged to "take a stand against hate, injustice and intolerance. I will work in my daily life for justice, equality and human rights--the ideals for which the Civil Rights martyrs died."   

Once again, Don and I were struck by the seemingly never ending slaughter of people with opposite viewpoints.  Will it ever end?

After we left Montgomery, it was a straight shot to Ft. Morgan and by 7 pm we were all settled into our cottage and ready to begin our winter hiatus here on the Gulf of Mexico.  Unfortunately, it's cool and overcast today, so we won't be outdoors too much other than to take a walk when it gets a little warmer later this afternoon. Otherwise, I'm going to set up my sewing machine and do a little stitching.




Thursday, January 19, 2017

Fully and Finally Finished!

It seemed as though it was taking Forever but Finally I have Fully Finished the (blue and white) Log Cabin Quilt and it's in the washer as I type.  I'm so relieved to have it done! I think it will look better when the markings are washed out--I used Frixion pens and chalk markers so there shouldn't be any problems with them not washing out.

Here's the 98" square king sized quilt laid out on a queen sized bed:


I'd never seen that setting for a log cabin quilt and I like how it looks, now that it's all put together.


This is a close up of one of the millions of feathers I quilted!  Actually, it was only 2 in each of the 64 blocks, so not quite a million.


I like the design I freehanded in the pink centers of the blocks.  As I was hand stitching the binding yesterday, I noticed 4 blocks where the thread tension was so bad that I went back today and redid them.  


Of course, a pic of the backing--a pretty little blue and white floral--and the blue, gray and pink batik binding.  

I'd asked my DIL what color she wanted her quilt and she said pink was her favorite color, but Dan, my son, said he wouldn't have a pink quilt.  So we settled on her second favorite color, blue which satisfied him. But I had to include some pink in the quilt and used it in the centers of the blocks instead of the more traditional red. I hope they both like it.  

I also used lots of variety fabrics in this quilt--lobsters. sailboats, blueberries, newspaper personal ads (remember them from before Match.com?), Frosty the Snowman, Thomas the train engine, Santa's reindeers' names, footprints in the sand, and lots more. I think the boys, aged 7 and 10, will have fun finding these things in the quilt.

Now it's in the machine for a hot water wash, along with a color catcher just in case, and with luck, the thread tension problems will disappear in the shrinkage of the cotton fibers.  Keep your fingers crossed for me.

I've been really laid low by this head cold I think I mentioned a couple of days ago, and finally today it seems to be loosening it's grip on me.  I've only gone through 1 box of Kleenex instead of the two I blew through yesterday! And I seem to have a bit more energy than yesterday.  

But as dismal as I felt yesterday, I did keep my appointment with the hand surgeon who took one look, reviewed my chart for the other hand problems I've seen him for, and pronounced that surgery was in order.  Nuts!  I'd hoped I could have avoided that but I don't want to live with pain and in a wrist brace the rest of my life either. If nothing changes while I'm in Alabama next month, I'll get the surgery scheduled when I get back home.  

Now that the HUGE quilt is done, I can turn my brain to figuring out what to bring with me on this vacation. I usually bring a couple of new projects to work on, but then they don't get finished and they sit around, bothering me, the rest of the year.  So, my plan is to bring last year's projects along and get them finished up.  Also to find a couple of other UFOs I can bring with and get them further along if not finished.  If I only work on UFOs while I'm in Alabama, I should be in a pretty good position when I get back.  I think I'll bring all my Christmas fabrics along as well. If I get 3 or 4 projects pieced up while there, it'll be simple to finished the quilting when I get back home, and then I'll have a head start on the holiday items for the Etsy store.  

And, if I run out of things to sew, I can always read a book while relaxing on the beach. Can you tell I'm looking forward to this vacation?

I don't know how much posting I'll be doing since I'll only have my crappy old laptop with me, and I'm not sure how safe it is to use that anymore.  So, if you don't hear much from me it's either because the laptop is kaput or because I'm on the beach.
  

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Wow!

I got hit in the head yesterday with a humdinger of a cold!  Didn't go to the movies because the streets were covered with ice and because I felt horrible.  Maybe in a few days I'll feel better.

Despite the illness, I managed to finish up all the quilting on the king sized log cabin quilt!  Yea!  And then I looked on the back and found 2 blocks that I have to do over again--that darn thread tension problems rears it's ugly head for the last time, I hope. Got the binding cut, and stitched onto the quilt and it's now upstairs, waiting for me to begin some hand stitching.  Maybe tomorrow.  I just want to go to bed and sleep.

That's it. Don't want to stay here too long for fear of spreading the germs to you.

Monday, January 16, 2017

MLK Jr Day

Today is my day of celebration for 3 good reasons. 

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First and most important, of course, is Martin Luther King Jr. Day.  To my mind, he was one of the most inspirational and courageous people in my lifetime.  He forced America to open it's eyes to the plight of all the citizens.  He opened the door to not only black equality, but to the issue of rampant poverty in pockets of our country, to equal rights for women, and ultimately rights for the LGBT community.  It's taken a long time, and sometimes there have been setbacks, but I think, overall, we are a better nation because of the influence of Dr. King.  Quote of the day, which applies so well during these turbulent political times, is "We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools."

The second reason to celebrate is because today, in 1988, is the day I began my career journey as a representative for people with disabilities.  I was offered a job in Duluth, MN, which required creating a program to assist people with disabilities get through the maze of paperwork involved with getting the benefits they were entitled to.  I found this to be the perfect niche occupation for me, and I worked in this field for more than 25 years before I retired completely.  I have no idea how many people's lives I touched but likely it was several thousand. People who were homeless and hopeless, in severe pain and distress and without access to medical care. People who tried as hard as they could to support themselves and as a last resort, came to me to help them get the benefits they so sorely needed.  I like to think that my efforts made a difference in their lives.

And the third reason I'm celebrating today is that this is the 70th time I've celebrated being on this planet!  (Don't have any idea where I was before!)  I was born this day in 1947 and am rejoicing that I've made it to 70. Unfortunately, none of my siblings made it this far and I wonder what it would be like if we could be together as old farts!  Probably a lot of fun since we had a lot of fun when we were young whippersnappers!

Just for fun, I looked up things about 1947 and thought I'd share these tidbits:

How Much things cost in 1947 
Average Cost of new house $6,600.00 
 Average wages per year $2,850.00 
 Cost of a gallon of Gas 15 cents 
 Average Cost of a new car $1,300.00 
 Loaf of Bread 13 cents 
 United States Postage Stamp 3 cents 
 Men's Sweater $8.50 
 Bulova Men's Watch $52.50 
Couple of examples of houses for sale this year Harlingen , Texas New Brick House 5 room house with all furniture included $7,100 
Long Beach , California Mediterranean style Home with Most beautiful 2 story modern home overlooking the ocean well cared for grounds $37,500 
 Heinz Cream of Tomato Soup 23 cents for 2 cans 
Oranges 49 cents per dozen 

Wow!  I wish I'd bought that house on the ocean in California!

So, today is a day for me to celebrate so many things, especially the fact that I only have about 6 log cabin blocks to stitch and then can get on to the pink centers. Oh, the end of this stitching is so close!  I'm already planning the binding and of course, have to find time to make up a label.  Busy day ahead of me, I guess, including going to the movies tonight to see Hidden Figures. Can't wait for that, but now it's off to the sewing room to try to wrap up this quilt!

Sunday, January 15, 2017

I got the blues

I concentrated on quilting up the blue logs in my log cabin quilt, and made great progress yesterday. Once again, I had to rewind a bobbin when the tension got all wonky after I'd inserted a new bobbin. It only takes a minute to rewind a bobbin, but why should I have to do that?  The next time my machine goes to the spa, I'll make a note of this situation and see what the repair person has to say.

I didn't take the quilt out of the machine to see how many of the 64 blocks I'd done, but my estimate is that about half are finished.  And my plan is to finish them all today and get started on quilting in the pink centers of the blocks.  I have the design in my head and it should work out well, with little marking.  Well, you know what they say about the best laid plans, right?

I feel as though I'm boring everyone by going on about the log cabin quilt, and if I am, I apologize.  I'm one of those people who likes to see a project through from start to finish, at least until the top is completed and then it can hang in the closet for a year (or more!) before getting quilted up.  LOL! When I read in other people's blogs that they worked on 3 or 4 different quilts in a day, I admire how they can do that. I get confused if I have a leader/ender project going at the same time as I'm working on a quilt!  Also, when I set up my machines for quilting, I don't like to disassemble them in order to do some piecing.  Just get the quilting done and then move on to something else. Also, I'm afraid that if I take the quilt out of the machine and set it aside, it'll languish on the closet shelf for another couple of years!  And I want these tops stitched up and put on the beds!  So, please be patient with me when I'm quilting up a top.  I'll eventually move on to something a little more interesting.

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I continue to stitch away at the 6,478 pine needles in the Among the Pines embroidery, and have only 2 trees left to stitch, or about 2, 546 needles  ;o) , and the third block will be finished.  Before I begin the 4th one, I'm going to make up all the other blocks so they're ready to go South with me. 

And the only other "sewing" I did yesterday, was to convert a pillowcase into a bib for Jo to wear when she goes to DC for the Women's March next weekend.  She wanted to make a flag that she could wave, but we decided that carrying a stick on the plane might not work, and her arms will get pretty tired from holding the flag aloft.  Instead, we came up with the pillow case idea. I took an old white case and used my pinking shears to cut a circle for her head and neck.  Then I cut up the sides so it fit over her jacket but we realized that it needed to be tied somehow at the sides or it will be blowing around in the wind. I found some old scrap fabric and stitched 4 ties at the waist so she can tie the bib and it won't blow around. When she goes home today, she's going to paint or draw sayings on both the front and back of the bib.  She's chosen a quote from Maya Angelou, "still I rise,"  taken from her poem.  If you're like me and not familiar with it, this is the first stanza:  

You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies, 
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I'll rise.

and here's the link to the rest of the poem, Still I Rise.  I think it's a very fitting quote for Jo to paint on her banner/bib.  

That's it for today.  Back to singing the blues--in a good way!

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Feathers Finally Finished!

I am so proud to be able to announce, finally, that I have finished stitching the feathers in all the neutral logs of the king sized log cabin quilt!  Yea! Rah, Rah!

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Actually, I think I've figured out what's been causing the tension problems--loosely wound bobbins! Yesterday, when I began to have tension problems again with using the white thread on top, the first thing I did was rewind the bobbin and the problem was gone. There must be something wrong either with the winding apparatus or in the way I'm threading up for bobbin winding.  Well, let's hope that's the problem, one that's easily fixed, and not something more major.

I finished "feathering" (who says I can't make up new words?) yesterday, mid afternoon, and there was enough time to begin stitching the curvy lines in the blue logs--using blue thread on both the top and bottom this time. What a relief! This is going very well, and I realized that I can stitch these lines from any directions whereas, I could only stitch the feathers in one direction and had to turn the quilt to go in the other direction.  And believe me, that has been a real chore!

In the evening, I continue stitching on Among the Pines, and have nearly finished the third block.  I think I'll have to make up all the other blocks so they're ready to go with me to Alabama in a week or two. I like to have something to stitch on as I sit on the porch of our cottage there on the Gulf.  I can't stitch in the car as the roads are way too bumpy, but I can knit, so I'll also take along some yarn and needles for the travel days.


I thought I'd add a picture of my back yard here in NW Wisconsin.  Yep, lots of snow this winter, and lots of cold as well.  


This morning when I checked at 8 o'clock, the temp was -4 F.  That's pretty cold even for me, this Minnesota born and bred lady.  Fortunately, the cold spell will lift in a couple of days and we're predicted to have temps in the high 20's and low 30's for a few days. I know some of you will think I'm nuts to say those temperatures are "warm" but in comparison to what we have now, it'll feel very nice.  When we stay at the Gulf, the temps usually range between 55 and 70 degrees and we like it very much. It's such a pleasure to not have to put on the parka and wooly scarf, heavy winter boots, gather up hat and mitts, and just go outdoors in a light jacket or sweatshirt.  Not swimming or sunbathing weather, but a nice break from Old Man Winter.

But I'm not at the Gulf yet, and I will have to bundle up and make a trip to the grocery store as soon as I finish here. Jo is coming home this afternoon and will spend the night. I want to fix a nice roast beef dinner for her and have to pick up a few things in order to do that. As soon as I get the groceries put away, I'll be working on the blue logs until she arrives sometime this afternoon.

If you live in a cold area, stay warm, and if you live in a warm area, enjoy!



Friday, January 13, 2017

Quilting away--day by day

Yesterday, I made quite a bit of progress on the log cabin quilt, although I continue to have tension problems.  When I began stitching with the new spool of thread, and a new and full bobbin, the same problems popped up as before--too much bobbin thread showing up on the top. After rethreading the top and adjusting the tension, I still had the problem. So, this time, I immediately rewound the bobbin with more tension on the thread as it wound, and Voila!  Tension problem solved!  I was able to get all but one of the most difficult blocks quilted and today will toil on and finish the last of the feathers. Please!  I want so badly for this part to be done!

Other than that, I actually got my house cleaned up enough for the Quilt Festival team to meet here after supper and make decisions about the direction of the festival.  After lengthy discussion, the group decided to go ahead and begin working on a festival for November, 2018, if we can get things cleared up with the main event which may be a sticking point.  I've emailed the person in charge of that event and, hopefully, we'll get together next week and get everything ironed out.  Wish me luck on that as well.

And since I have no pictures to post today of my quilting progress, or anything else, here are a couple I stole borrowed from the internet for your viewing pleasure.  The one below looks like the walking/biking  trail nearby and I may just go out and take a walk on it today.

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I just like the one below--hungry doe waiting for the photographer to leave so she can feast on the apples! I wish that was my backyard!

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Thursday, January 12, 2017

Spooling instead of quilting

For the past few days, I've been determined to sit down and write a post that I've finished quilting the feathers in the light section of the log cabin quilt blocks, but each day that hasn't happened so I haven't had anything to write about except that I'm still working on it.  And that's just too boring even for me. LOL!

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Two days ago, on Tuesday, I was making such good progress on this quilting--until I ran out of the white thread I'm using on this part of the quilt. I thought I had a partial spool of a similar thread in my thread box, and yes, there it was. I loaded it onto the machine and again was making good progress when that spool emptied as well.  What to do?  Remember, I live about 40 miles from the store where I get my quilting threads so a quick trip to the LQS is not so very quick.  Checked the thread box again and found another partial spool of thread which was a bit darker but would do. So I loaded that one and then called it a day.

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Yesterday, Wednesday, I began quilting again with the slightly darker thread and it blended in very well. Whew!  Full steam ahead!  Until that spool also was empty!  What the heck!  I thought those spools had more thread on them than they actually did.  So now, I had no more white or neutral thread  in my box, so I was forced to go out and get more. I called the shop to see if they had the color I needed and they did, so into the car I went to Rice Lake.

Now keep in mind, we had about 4-5 inches of snow over the past couple of days, and the streets here in town are snow packed and slippery. Who knows what the highway would be like? I made sure my boots were in the car along with a hat and mittens, and that Don had his cell phone handy and that mine was in my purse--just in case. I had images of this going through my head as I started out:

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I've been there and done that more than once in the past, living here in the Northland, and did not want a repeat of it yesterday!

At any rate, when I made it out of the neighborhood and then out of the town, I found the state highway in very good shape!  Yea!  I drove a little more slowly than usual, thinking there might be icy patches on the road, and managed to make it to and from the store without mishap!  

As long as I was in the store, I had to take a "quick look around," if you know what I mean.  I came for one spool of thread, and left with 3 spools and a large bag of half yard cuts of Christmas fabric that was on sale!  Now how could I pass up all that Christmassy, fabricky goodness? If Don asks, I'll emphasize that I saved $40 and how could that be a bad thing?

I got home too late in the day to begin working on the quilt again--I find that quilting after about 5 pm is not something I can do with any success--so I'll begin today and with luck, I'll get the feathers all quilted in and can begin the second design.  I've quilted feathers in all the interior blocks and only have the ones around the edges to get done. They're easier since I don't have the entire bulk of the quilt stuck between the needle and the "neck" on the right side of the sewing machine.  

Before I go downstairs today, I have to clean up the house a little. I'm having a meeting of the Quilt Festival team tonight and we'll be making decisions on whether or not to have another festival and if yes, what format will it take.  Should be interesting!


Monday, January 9, 2017

S-U-C-C-E-S-S!


I remember the SUCCESS! cheer from my high school days as a Farmington Tiger.  And why is it that now I can't remember what I walked into the bedroom for?  Oh, the mind is a wonderful thing! Oh, and by the way, the above picture is not one of me in my younger years, but one I copied off the school blog.  Actually, I did cheer during my last two years in school, but I cheered for hockey--in wool shorts and wool jacket (which I still have)--knee high socks--on skates--outside!  Oh yes, we had some lively cheers--had to, to stay warm!

Well, I was cheering yesterday afternoon as I began working on the log cabin quilt again. First I rewound all 5 bobbins and then set out to see if that made a difference in the quilting. O. M. G. Yes it did!  The stitches were as close to perfect as they ever will be!  I went full speed ahead and got a tremendous amount of quilting done before it was time to come upstairs to start dinner.  It's amazing how much you can get done when you don't have to stop and unstitch all the time!

I actually laid the quilt out on the floor and counted blocks. There are 64 blocks in the quilt, and by my count, I have 16 left to go before I begin the second motif.  I also noticed 2 blocks that I'd stitched the day before and which really need to be unstitched and done again, with proper tension this time. I'll take care of them today before I move on to the other 16.

This quilt is so big I have a hard time taking any pics of it, and there isn't enough floor space in any room in the house to lay it out completely.  But here's how it looks, kind of laid out and kind of crumpled. on the floor of my sewing room.  


And a couple of the scrappy blue and white blocks. Actually, it's blue and "neutral" not white.


I threw in all sorts of scrappy blues and neutrals.  The lobsters came from a shop in Maine as did the blueberries on the left.


The neutral piece with writing on it at the top of the picture came from a shop hop I was on, and in red, it says, "Time to preserve yummie goodies and the American way" (WTH?) and the blue piece second from the bottom is Harry Potter fabric I picked up somewhere along the way.  I hope Dan and Erin will enjoy discovering all the things I've included in this quilt.

On the blue strips, I plan on simply quilting a wavy line in each log, and in some of them, I'm thinking of stitching words, like Love, Peace, Cherish, and so forth, since I made this quilt in honor of their marriage. I'll give it a try and see how it goes.

On a side note, as I looked for pics of the Farmington MN (my alma mater) cheerleaders, I happened upon their athletic blog. I was amazed at all the options available to girls in that school--and in all schools, I guess. Swimming, tennis, volleyball and basketball, cross country, and on and on. When I went to school in the early 60's, there were no girls' athletics what-so-ever!  We had the GAA--Girls Athletic Association--which was a group of girls who got together once a week or so to play basketball. That was it!  No training, no coaching, no teambuilding, no competition with other groups.  Things have changed so much for young women since my teen years. Thanks, Title IX!  I always wished I could have been on a team and now these girls don't think twice about it.  I'm so glad they have the opportunities my generation never had.  Go, Tigers!

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Enough about this.  I need to do a couple of chores and then head to the sewing room to see if I can get the last 16 blocks knocked out.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

What a struggle!

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"Nobody knows the trouble I seen."  That's how I feel about the quilting on the log cabin quilt.  I've been making pretty good progress on the quilting since I changed out to working with my old machine.  Yesterday, I was going along pretty well--only a tiny bit of tension problem--when I ran out of bobbins.  I usually fill 5 bobbins when I'm sewing and in the middle of the afternoon, not only did the bobbin thread in the machine run out, but I had no more filled bobbins. Stop everything and wind 5 more bobbins.  Also, clean out the machine so the lint won't build up too much.

When I began quilting again, with a newly wound bobbin, TROUBLE STRUCK AGAIN!  Horrible tension problems!  No matter how I adjusted the tension, there was trouble!  After I'd stitched about half of the quilting design, I gave up and spent the rest of the time unstitching it.  As I was doing so, I decided that the newly-wound bobbins must have been wound too loosely. That's the only thing I can think of that would make such a difference.  So today, when I go downstairs again, I'll rewind all the bobbins using a different technique.  (On my machines, I can wind bobbins with the spool of thread either horizontal or vertical, and I think I need to rewind the bobbins from the horizontal position instead of the vertical.)  Wish me luck, please.

Until the tension problem reared it's ugly head again, I was making good progress. I think I have about half the blocks quilted with the design in the light side of the log cabins. I'll have to go back and stitch a different, and easier, design in the dark side of the design, but then I'll be using the same thread in the top as in the bobbin.  And I also have to do a separate design in center squares of each block, using a third color of thread.  I have a ways to go on this big quilt, and I get exceptionally upset when the tension goes off.

Enough of this tension business.  On a lighter side, . . . Well, I guess I've been totally absorbed with the tension and the quilting problems.  But, yes, I just thought of it. I've been working for a few hours each evening after dinner on the embroidery of Among the Pines  and have the second block nearly finished.  Here it is.


The more I work on this embroidery, the more I like it. The tiny stitches really aren't the problem I expected them to be.  And I'm looking forward to stitching every night.

I also remembered that yesterday morning, I had an extremely productive meeting with 2 other guild members and we ironed out nearly all the details of our upcoming quilting exhibit at the local library in April. Pat and I had the idea last year of creating an exhibit of quilts based on books to be displayed during National Quilt Week and National Library week, both of which are in April.  The guild members have been working on these quilts and I'm anxious to know how many we'll have to display. 

I decided to use the embroidered Bee-utiful quilt that I stitched last summer as my entry, based on The Secret Life of Bess by Sue Monk Kidd. 

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 I've read this once and liked it and I think I'll read it a second time to refresh my memory. We decided yesterday to have a bed turning of the quilts waiting to be exhibited, and we'll have a little blurb about the quilt and about it's corresponding book.  We've never done this before, so I'm interested to see how it goes.

And here's the quilt that I have to quilt up when I return from Alabama in early March.  All of these 6 1/2 inch blocks are hand embroidered with a bumblebee or two in each one.  


When we return from our month in the warm, Don will be flying to Maine to spend a week or 10 days with Lily while her mother's at a conference.  That means I'll have all the time I need to get this quilt done up and ready for the library show.

When I began writing this post, all I could think of was the frustrating thread tension issues, but the process of writing has forced me to look for positives in the previous day--and it worked!  I'm in a much more optimistic mood right now than compared to when I started, and I know I'll be having a great day.  Oh, yes, I nearly forgot. The chili I made for dinner last night was probably the best I've ever, ever made!  And there was enough left over for a second Saturday supper in the future. Win, Win! 

And now I'm off to tackle the tension and bobbins and get the quilting done!



Friday, January 6, 2017

I went shopping!



Yesterday, I went shopping for embroidery floss--and just happened to find some clothes for myself while I was in town!  How in the world did that happen--Hmmmmm.


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I really hate shopping for clothes.  If I have an idea of what I want to buy, I can't find it. If I go into the store with no idea of what I want, I find 623 things I'd like to take home with me.  It's horrible! And when I do find something that I like--and can afford--chances are it won't fit.  And add into the mix the notion I have that I shouldn't buy any more clothes that fit since surely by (whatever time frame you choose) I'll have lost all the weight I've been carrying for the last 20 years and will have to get more new clothes.  Yeah, right!

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I realized a few months ago that the jeans I'm wearing I've had for at least 7 or 8 years, and they're looking  bit the worse for wear.  I had to get new ones.  I remembered the store where I'd bought them and kind of remembered the style, but I hesitated ordering them online since I'd have the hassle of returning them if they didn't fit or weren't the right style. I saw that the store was having a great sale, so off to town I went. Found the jeans, and some tops and in another store, I found several more tops--which I needed as much as I needed the jeans.  So I was happy--until this morning.  I'd tried on one pair of the jeans in the store and they fit beautifully!  This morning, I took out the second pair--and it was the wrong length!  Grrrr!  Now I'll have the hassle of returning them, just as though I'd ordered online!  But at least I have one nice pair of jeans and tops that fit.  Whew!  And I got the embroidery floss.

By the time I got home, it was too late to begin quilting and I just began working on dinner.  I really want to put some time in on quilting today.  This quilt is supposed to go to Milwaukee before the end of the month so I have to get going on it.  I also have a freezer full of grass fed beef that we'll share with our son and his family down there, and I want to take that to them this month as well.  I have to make a trip to the post office before I can begin the quilting so I'd better get on with it.

Not much else to say.  Oh, I got the last of the Christmas decorations put away!  A finish!

Thursday, January 5, 2017

What to write about today?

You know, when I decided to try to write up a daily post, one of the things I discovered was that it forced me to look for positive and fun things that were happening in my life. ( I've been trying to hide the fact that I often get very frustrated with things and tend to dwell on the negative. Which I know is not good.) Today, I'm having difficulty finding something to write about that will be more on the positive side than the negative. Not because my life is filled with negativity now--it's not!--but that life seems to be a bit humdrum and quite ordinary.  And probably boring to read about.

So, I'll share with you what yesterday was like and if you nod off, that's fine. I won't mind. Sometimes I nod off when I think about my life too.  Yesterday, I switched out sewing machines and tried the FMQing with the little old machine I call Lily. What a champ she is!  I'm still having a little tension problem but nothing like on the fancy dancy machine!  Nothing I can't live with, I think.  At any rate I was only able to quilt up two blocks before it was time to meet with Naomi and Becky from the charity to hear about their complaints over the Quilt Festival.

I wasn't looking forward to that meeting, but I knew I had to meet with them before I call together the Festival team to take a look at planning the next one. Well, the meeting went about as I thought it would.  There were quite a few accusations that the Festival (which is my brain child!) caused problems for the charity we were fundraising for.  I was able to address each accusation in a calm and rational way and pointed out how each one was totally unfounded.  In retrospect, I think they had been looking for reasons to step away from the Festival and just do their own thing. They are of the opinion that since we didn't generate any revenue this (first) year, that there was no point in trying again.  I pointed out that we actually were only $20 from breaking even and if we'd had even 2 or 3 more participants, we would have been making money.  So close!

I could go on and on, as I'm a bit upset over the whole thing, but like I said, I don't want this blog to be a venue for my ranting.  I've emailed the Festival team and shared with them the gist of the meeting. With luck we'll be meeting next week to make some decisions about 1) do we want to do another festival? 2) do we want to fundraise for this charity or should we choose another one? and 3) do we want to wait 2 years to hold the Festival in conjunction with the Quilt Tour or should we try to create our own quilt show and hold the Festival in 2017?

Lots of decisions to make as to where we go with this.  I'll keep you abreast on things as they develop.  In the meantime, I'm on the 3 person committee to have a display of quilts at the local public library in April this year.  We got the idea last year and thought it would be fun to make quilts that are associated with books. Like "Shakespeare in the Park"

A Judy Martin Pattern, Shakespeare in the Park, from book The Creative Pattern Book:

or the "Hungry, Hungry Caterpillar"

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or my entry, "The Secret Life of Bees" which I've embroidered and sewn and is waiting to be quilted up.

In addition to the display, we'd like to offer a quilting class, and I'm not sure yet what it will be but I favor making a Log Cabin table runner using Little House fabrics.  I don't know what the others think, but I'm sure they'll have some great ideas.  I'm pretty excited about this exhibit--it's the first time our guild has done this and if it's a success, I'd love to see it be an annual event with the library.  I'll keep you abreast on that as well.

Today, I'm going to take down the rest of the Christmas decorations--Don took down the tree the other day--and then I may take a trip to Eau Claire. I need some new jeans and they're on sale at my favorite store right now, and I also need more dark green embroidery thread for my stitchery.  Which I worked on last night, by the way, and am quite happy with the progress I'm making on it.And of course, I'll have to pick up some groceries while I'm in town.  If there's any time left, I'll continue to work on quilting up the log cabin quilt.  The blue and white one.  ;p)

So, another fairly humdrum day in the life of Barb Hauck, but Hey!  we never want too much drama in our lives, right?  No worries here!

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

At a standstill


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Yes, in my quilting, I'm at a standstill right now. Yesterday afternoon, I got engrossed in a novel, The Devil in Jerusalem, which I'd got on my Kindle the other day and I simply couldn't put it down.  As a retired social worker who has experience in child abuse, it was hard to read at times. The story is based on a true incident in Israel about parents who became involved with a religious cult whose leader was a psychopathic abuser. I'll say no more about that, but instead of working on my quilting, I sat on my duff and read this book.

Later on, I had to prepare for the monthly Guild meeting which I wasn't particularly looking forward to. We had two major items on the agenda and I didn't know how they would go.  One involved spending Guild funds, and the members had a great discussion. With a few changes to the proposed amendment, the issue was resolved.

The other item was concerning the size of the Guild. Since I joined the group, 7 years ago, this has come up twice before.  Do we want to let the Guild grow to any size or do we want to put a limit on how many members we have?  The last time we discussed this, we had nearly 40 members, and the issue was tabled until membership neared 50. We now have 47 members so it was time to revisit it.  Again, we had a lively discussion and finally, the membership unanimously approved leaving membership open-ended. In other words, there is no limit on how large the group grows.  That being said, someone pointed out that the Guild should make an effort to offer more opportunities for small gatherings so members get to interact with and get to know each other better. So, I'll be working on that the rest of my term as chairperson.

After the Guild meeting, I came home to have dinner and then finished reading that darn book. Today I'll be running errands around town and have a meeting at 2 with the organizers of the Quilt Tour that my guild participates in every two years when they have it.  Apparently, there are some questions in their minds about having another Guilt Festival along with the Quilt Tour in 2018.  I'm curious to know what this is all about--I'll let you know tomorrow!

I've created a Survey Monkey to see how the attendees liked the Festival events and hope to get enough response to use it in planning for the next Festival. We'll see.

That's about all I have to say today. It's wicked cold here today, and predicted to stay that way for a few days, so I really should hunker down and get some sewing done!

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Trouble in River City!

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Yes, we got trouble right here in River City Menomonie!  Do you remember The Music Man? It was one of my favorite musicals and since I haven't seen it for many years, I think I'll check if it's on Netflix and if so, I'll watch it again.

I began the FMQ on my log cabin quilt and once again, there's trouble!  With the bobbin! And the top thread!  It's the darn tension between the two!  No matter what I do, I can't get the tension right and since I'm using blue thread on the bottom and white thread on the top, that means TROUBLE!



Above is the sample I made to take with when I bring the machine to the shop next week so the repair guy can see for himself.  You can see in the first picture the problem I have with the freemotion quilting, both straight line and curves. The second picture is a couple lines of stitching with the feed dogs up and using the regular presser foot. And stitching on only 2 layers of fabric--no batting.  Still lots of blue bobbin thread showing through.

If any of you have ideas on how I can fix this problem, PLEASE let me know. I'm willing to try anything! I've changed the needle and rethreaded the machine to no avail, and I've tried 6 different tension settings without success.  Can you tell how frustrated I feel!

Later today, I'll switch the thread and bobbin to my trusty work horse machine, Lily, and see if I can get some quilting done on her.  She's a little smaller than my new machine so I'm not sure if I can push a king sized quilt through (down?) her throat, but I've done it before so keep your fingers crossed that I can do it again.



Last night I continued stitching on Among the Pines and nearly finished the stone fireplace in the block I'm working on right now.  I also was able to wash out the "Sticky Solvi" product which is a different brand than Sulky's. I don't have the package with the directions so I wasn't sure if I needed to do anything special. I just left it to soak in tepid water, embroidery side down, for about half an hour. When I came back to it, all the sticky stuff was gone!  A miracle!  All I had to do was rinse it and blot it a little.  I don't know if I'll use this product on a regular basis, but it sure is working fine for these tiny little drawings.

I had my OT session this morning and I think it'll probably be my last one.  After 10 sessions, I'm not feeling any improvement in my thumb/wrist so the next step is to pay a visit to the orthopedic hand specialist.  Ugh!  I've been to him in the past for other hand related problems such as carpal tunnel and, I must say, that he's never pushed me to have surgery as I've heard was common among ortho docs.  I think hope he'll go the injection route instead of wielding the knife.  We'll see. I just want some relief from this problem, and it would be nice to have it fixed before we head South for our winter stay on the Gulf of Mexico.

Well, wish me luck with my quilting today--I really need it!  And please, send me your suggestions. I need them too!

Monday, January 2, 2017

The First Day of the New Year

This first day of 2017 was very quiet at my house. Jo took off around noon and I had the rest of the day to myself. Don was in his Man Cave, absorbing football games while I did a few chores and played on the computer.  After dinner, I took out my stitchery and finished the first of the blocks for the Among the Pines piece I began a few days ago.

This is the entire quilt, measuring about 42" square:


The first block I worked on is in the center lower left, the one with the canoe. 


I'm working the design on 8" squares of fabric and when it's trimmed down, the design will be 6 1/2" square.  

Above, you can see how tiny the stitches are in the pine trees.  Some of them are an eighth of an inch or less!  For perspective, this dime measures 3/4" in diameter and you can see how much smaller some of the stitches are.

When I bought this pattern, I didn't realize how small the blocks were and consequently, how tiny the stitching would be. Holy Cow!  I'll probably need new glasses by the time I'm finished with this thing! And maybe I'll have to get a magnifier as well!

But I'm soldiering on. I hooped up the second block, the fireplace which is in the center bottom right. By the time I hit the sack last night, I was able to get a bit of a start with the fireplace rocks and the things on the mantle.  Lucky for me, all the stitchery is in the same color, a dark green, and most of it is stitched with just one thread of floss. Even so, I wish the directions had told me to buy several skeins of this color. I only got one skein and now will have to make another trip to the store to get the rest of what I need.


I'm very optimistic that this embroidered quilt will be a show piece when I'm finished.  And in this one, I promise I will check thoroughly for mistakes before I quilt it up!

Speaking of quilting--no, I didn't make it to the sewing machine yesterday. That's on the agenda for today. I have to do some things on the computer this morning and the afternoon should be freed up for working on the Log Cabin quilt.  I have every intention of showing you pictures of it tomorrow.