Saturday, October 31, 2015

Excuses, Excuses

I'm not making any for what I did today. I bought items for six projects! First of all, I went to Bakersfield for a medical appointment and stopped at JoAnn's. You know the store. The one where you get really great coupons and then everything is on sale for 25%. I went in to buy buttons for the tree wallhangings, and those egg-shaped styros to make a couple of holiday ornaments.

After I got back to town, I stopped in at the fabric store to get 1/3 yard of the blue I needed for Jake's Bird Quilt sashing (originally, I didn't get enough) and bought several FQ's in blue. I am working on a blue and white sampler quilt, plus that Diamond Dash quilt. I'll cut them up into the pieces needed for all three projects. It just really bites not to have the right colors or amounts and I get to thinking I can quilt until I need to shop.

The basket is part of a bday gift for my Daughter-in-Law and will make a nice holder for the small things I bought her. Lots to work on for the next few weeks.

Some of the packages were 'findings' for the two wallhangings. I started sewing them on and only have half of one of the trees on. So glad I started early.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Burning Desire

Someone once told me to make sure that my burning desire was the light at the end of the tunnel. 

And so I spent 4 hours cutting scraps. I discovered how hard it was to find what I needed for the holiday Twister, and my next project (blues for the Diamond Dash). Some of these fabric scraps in my stash have odd pieces cut out of them, so cutting them down even more, and into larger squares or rectangles helps with storage. Of course, now they need to be put in the same size squares container. Organization is a process that never ends.

When I first started quilting, it was to embroider 50 state birds and flowers x2. Yes, x2. I thought I would make each of my Sons a full quilt using the kind of embroidered squares my maternal Grandmother made each of her Grandchildren. She gave me her patterns and I bought white fabric, lots of embroidery floss and a hoop. It took me a week to make each square. I figured I could have the squares done in a couple of years, and because my Sons were still living at home, I thought it would be easy-breezy. 

Didn't happen that way. By the time I was actually getting close to done, they had both married and had children of their own. And Gramma Lizzy had passed. These squares came with me across the country. I re-calculated what it would take to do SEVEN smaller quilts so that each of the Grands could get one. If I added five more squares, each small quilt got 15 blocks (3x5 =15). And making five more California blocks would put one on each small quilt and bring my total squares to what was needed.

However, when I first did this, I knew nothing about fabric. And when the embroidery was done, every shop owner I spoke with let me know that it wouldn't work as a functioning quilt. Except one. She drew out the pattern I needed to use, and I started making tops and backs to them. Jake's is the last. First I put together red sashing and then had that awful bleed-experience with another quilt, so ripped this one out even though the red fabrics were pre-washed. I did not want to take the chance that this young man's quilt would turn pink! And the project sat. I re-purposed all the reds. And it sat. UFO.

The other day I went back to her store and bought blues shown above, pre-washed and cut them to size. Today I started piecing it. Now that I have had more experience, I can see what other quilters were saying. The fabric might not hold together, so I think I will top stitch around each square. It might even make sense to reinforce the whites with something. I wish I had done these differently, but they have to be fine the way they are. I'll put sleeves on all the backs so they can be hung, and at this point, am in no hurry to finish them. The goal for 2016 is to get them all reinforced and basted. That's it. I will be happy to get them to that stage.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Comfort Quilts for 2016

Last night I started another of the Comfort Quilts I would like to make in 2016. It is a way for me to use up the scrappy squares I've cut in various sizes. I had been thinking what I will do is ask folks to 'nominate' someone in their lives whom they think would enjoy a quilt, and who moreover needs the comfort snuggling under it would bring.

This is the first one I made from 10" squares using the Twister template. Luckily, there is a pattern to go by in the packaging that gives the amount of squares used, as well as what is needed for the first and second borders and backing. I was surprised how hard it was to come up with 36 blocks that coordinate. Obviously, folks who want to buy more fabric would take the easy way out and purchase a Layer Cake package from all the manufacturers out there. Then, everything coordinates without having to think about it. I discovered that its like auditioning what I have both for which colors will work as well as how much I have in the bins.

Its really important to me to use what I have on hand. And funny thing is, it seems like so much; That is, until I go looking for fabrics that coordinate. It made a dent in the holiday bin and yet there is a lot more to use up. (I just got contributions from two friends that were snapped up in this project...thanks to both of you again.)

I also found a quick pattern tutorial called diamond-dash-quilt that is also incredibly easy and would use up a lot more of those 10" squares. Key to this one is gathering and coordinating squares and purchasing the solid sashing and a focus fabric. I am thinking that I will try it in blues with a white sashing and some gorgeous blue & white border.

Yes, I see that it is probably long-arm quilted or has that free motion on the smaller machine. I am not sure how I will handle quilting at this point. First things first. I want to get projects going that I can do and if that means only finishing the tops for this coming year, then so be it. The more options I find, the easier it will be for me to stay on point with the concept.

When I go through the bins again, I suspect that there will be other comfort quilts waiting for the big finish. One such is a scrappy golf quilt I made with leftovers from two quilts that went out this year. I really want to try my hand at free motion quilting on it.

I've been trying to come up with ideas for how to give them away as comfort. While there are plenty of organizations that take those kinds of quilts, my first thought is to pay close attention to people I know who could feel the value of one around them. Yes, I could ask for folks to nominate someone, or even hold a raffle. Not sure yet. I have a feeling there will be a lot of personal growth in this project for me.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Changing My Mind

After laundering Jake's quilt and giving it a cool press, I turned my attention to the aprons. AND I CHANGED MY MIND. Both Granddaughters are not really settled in their lives and so having an apron, which is so very domestic, might not work for them. I think they can go in the bin for next year and be higher on my list of things to make.

My attention for the coming month will be for paper projects, including the dollar rolls, the little package in the photo. It looks like there are about 20 bills rolled up in the baggie and mine might hold a dozen bills (closer to 10 and not to 20) for the little Great-Nephews and Great-Nieces. The teller gave me a pack of ones to get started on, and said they only get new bills around Thanksgiving for gifts. 

The two Color Catchers did catch some loose dyes for the International Sampler, and my plan is to send them along with a few more for the next wash. I am really a fan of how they work. This way, Jake's Daddy can see what they did and be more committed to using them. Some people always pre-wash quilts they give to others and I usually do not. 

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

International Sampler Quilt

I was able to finish binding the quilt. This means all the holiday gifts that need to go out the week before T-day are completed and I can relax. Aprons and cookbooks are next. As I found out last time I was in to mail, the PO deadline for shipping-on-time-for-the-holidays is December 11, which means there is a little over 5 weeks remaining to get those two projects done. Its not that I can slack off because one of them isn't even cut out.

This quilt has proven to be difficult to photograph. Its one row longer than most lap quilts and is about the size of a twin. However, this is a good idea of what the blocks ended up looking like together. Before sending it, I want to round up the notes from my partners that were with each block they sent. And as a last part of sending this, it will go in the washer today with a couple of Color Catchers, just to make sure the colors don't bleed. After it is dry, I will check seams and look for loose threads. I am pleased with the green for the sashing and binding. The outside border is a golden fabric with Cardinals on it. Everything looks like it was planned!

I scrounged around the house and shifted some boxes so I don't need as many as I thought. I had a good size box that was holding those cut snippets of fabric, so made Rico another cat bed, which he claimed right away. I'll make a run later this afternoon and stop at one of the fabric stores in town. The owner tosses the boxes she gets out her back door and they are perfect. They are clean, free of adds outside the box and lighter weight.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Making a Life

Lately, my experiences show me how I make my life. Not a living by working and getting paid. I guess I never put a lot of value in that process even when I was actively living it. What I mean is how I make my life by what I do that brings me joy and maybe brings a smile to the lives of others. That is making a life.

I am at the stage or age in life where people around me are lifting off this plane of existence and moving on. I believe in re-incarnation and so believe that we transition and will see each other again. Especially if we have work to do together. I am not saying that it doesn't hurt to have someone leave, because it does. I am not saying it isn't scary to think of leaving myself, because it is.

What I am saying is that sooner or later things change and the real option we have is to make the best of every day and every relationship. Jake's quilt is almost finished. Soon enough, it will get wrapped for shipping and go off to him. Like most quilts I make, there are two sides to it. Mostly, what is seen is the back with all those cardinals. Cardinals to remind him of me, of times we stopped to listen and look for them.

As I worked on the quilt, I discovered a few seams that needed reinforcing and KNOW that because of the nature of this work, over time, the seams will come undone, ravel and make it look worn. I call this loving to shreds. 

Books have been written that show us how this happens. And yet, in this culture, we forget sometimes.

The first quilt I made is fading and starting to fray. It is really cozy-comfy and in colors I LOVE. Yet, with all the ones I continue to make, I wonder if I will make another one and toss this one away? 

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Up & Down, In & Out

These are the stitches of hand work, over and over and over again. As I made stitches all day and into the night, I thought how like forgiveness is a also a similar process. Its not a once-done-forever-Done kind of event but something that we make progress in much like hand binding a quilt or hand quilting it. We may be willing to forgive but not want to do it. Yet, if we keep doing it over and over until it becomes part of body memory, part of emotional memory, part of mental memory, it then becomes part of our spirit.

All of a sudden, like finishing a quilt, we find that forgiveness has been accomplished, even though it wasn't sudden and took work. Sometimes, like quilting, we feel a sharp pain. I finished the two blue table toppers and these brown and green tree wallhangings. Of course they need some button charms for the finishing touch. I plan to be in Bakersfield on Friday so will stop at JoAnn's for a couple of packages. Sewing them on might take a night and will add to their charm.

Jake's quilt is almost there too. The quilting is done on it and I thought I had fabric for the binding. That is my last step for this one and then its ready for shipping next month.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

All Hands

The projects for this weekend are just me finishing up hand work on various projects. The work of getting ready for Winter Solstice is still work no matter how it looks. These are projects that go out first for the holidays, and then when they are finished, I can get back to the aprons. I seem to be singing the praises of the Lil Twister tool and haven't even touched the regular size one yet.

I wanted to make a wintery looking one so made the larger one working to do the light-dark-light contrast. And with it, when the cuts are made, come smaller squares to make up yet another smaller size. These both have been machine stitched for the binding, and wait to be turned, pinned and hand stitched. The smaller one is a Befana gift and the larger one goes to my 3 Great-Nieces. I had some scraps of a horizontal print that worked as long as the light sections and the dark sections were opposite from each other. I do like how they both are looking.

Mini quilts are nice to just toss here and there for additional decor whether they go on a table or across the back of a chair. What is nice about this frosty blue look is that they are more about Winter and can stay out through the end of January as Winter takes hold in Minnesota.

I saw a larger scrappy quilt made with the small twists. If the larger template has leftover cuts that leave 5" squares, then I am in business to make something quite spectacular. However, I am getting ahead of myself. My work is hands on just getting these done first. Planning comes later. The small squares only measure 2.25" and that might mean the leftover from the 10" larger template will not quite be enough.

Friday, October 23, 2015

And Then....

With all quilting comes the maintenance, the cleaning of the machine, the loading of bobbins, re-folding fabric, winding bobbins and cleaning off the workstation. Its part of the process that must be done and takes time. And just when I thought that I could take pictures of things that matter, it was apparent that seeing dust out of the machine and onto a Q-tip was un-pretty.

 One of the tree wall-hangings is green and one is brown, finished here. The green one's binding is half finished & will be completed when I watch the next TV episode for one of my favorite shows. Then the sleeves need some hand sewing and the rod goes through and is assembled to hang. Oh, and one last thing. Little decorations go on the trees. Forgot about them. I might need to take a trip to the big city to find some sort of charms or buttons for them. The entire gift of a mini quilt on the rod gets rolled up and can be stored in the shipping box with other holiday decorations. Like our real trees, whether cut from a tree farm or synthetic & stored in a box, ornaments cover up the bare spots or less than perfect branches, and bring an aura of festivity. The bag with the rod set up can be mounted on a wall, but also a person can hang the whole set-up over an existing piece of art work. They measure 24" x 27". I am sure my Sons will find a way to make them work. 

I have two more holiday table toppers to do and then onto the aprons and cookbooks. Eeehah!

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Winter Solstice Projects

After getting Amy's Cat quilt to the long-armer, a sense of relief took over for at least a nano-second. Then I realized that while I have been working on the smaller projects for Winter Solstice 2015, now, the heat is on.

Years ago, I found a tree wallhanging pattern and made several for Nieces and a Nephew, and had two left that were supposed to go to my two Sons. I never finished those two and this is the year they go out. The centers were pieced and that was it! Now, each of them has two borders and a simple diagonal grid, with a stitch-in-the-ditch where the borders are joined. They need sleeves attached to the back. With the previous projects, I could not find cafe rods and improvised with wooden dowels. This time, I shopped early and found black wrought iron cafe rods, as well as postal mailing tubes. They are going to be stunning. 

My holiday quilt projects (from full quilts to these mini ones) need to be shipped out the week before Thanksgiving so they can be used or set out during the month of December. So I am finishing up the hand quilting on Jake's.

Other projects can be shipped out closer to Winter Solstice. My family is in the habit of opening the mail right away. I know that, so regular gifts can wait. The PO says that things need to be shipped by 12-11 to get there on time and I will be ready. I need to start looking for shipping boxes and that means pulling everything out, wrapping them tight and making care instruction copies and including some Color Catchers. And its not even Hallows.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

October Swaps

I was able to finish the Swap-bot swaps for October and am getting them ready to ship out. Some of the other things I worked on while my computer was in the shop are not finished so I will wait to get pics when they are. Unfortunately, the news for the computer is that it might last another month...maybe. The guy said he can build me a desktop computer and get a good deal on laptops. I want to be pro-active about it rather than get into crisis management. Looks like the fridge is going too. Most mechanical things seem to be made to last around 5 years, so here they are.

This is another experiment using the Lil Twister. It was supposed to be a Samhaim/ Hallows/ Shadowfest altar cloth. I have a bag of black and white scraps that I pulled from and then used traditional colors for the directions. Brown for North; Yellow for East; Red for South; Blue for West. They are not the colors I might use, but are pretty common.

I used a solid black for the back in the event the recipient wants to set it out for mundane usage. The scraps I had set the pattern for me. First of all, it takes 5" squares, so working with the solid black first, then I found what would go on either side and out. I put two whites on either end that felt balanced to me. I like how it turned out.

Rex got her apron. I sent her my witchy hat with purple 'hair'. I also shipped off my cape to one of my Granddaughters. People in southern Cali are literally frightened of witches and so the response when I wore the costume was met was horror from grown people and children. A costume of any nature should be fun not that scary when the intention is for fun. Rex liked it as a complete costume (kitchen witch) for the party this weekend. I was glad to get it done on time.

With Amy's Cat quilt in the store waiting to get long-armed, I can focus on the remaining holiday gifts; Jake's, the two tree wallhangings, and the two aprons. I do have one more swap which is for the House Blocks (one for me, one for her for each month).  I brought out some bags of scraps and began cutting them into smaller squares. I would really like to get through all of the bags so that I can select them for the 2016 comfort quilts. 

It is good to be back home, and good to have a computer!

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Computer Returning This Morning

While it is not back yet, I did get a text saying it would be dropped off by 10:30 this morning. I had been thinking that since I retired, it had become a sort of toy. Yet, without it, I realize that it serves me in other ways. It has my only address book, which I need to change, and keeps track of the quilting work I do. It is a link to the outside world for me, including weather and news.

In one way, taking this machine for granted is no different than taking for granted a relationship with a person. Oh sure, I could get along without it and find other ways to get done what needs to be done, just like we do survive the loss of our relationships. Life does change and we do adapt.

Amy's Cat Quilt is going to the store to wait in line for the long arm quilting. I won't take a picture of it til its finished. But what a relief to have it all done, in spite of feeling like it is the worst thing I have ever made. Maybe Debbie's can fix it enough to make it a bit more presentable.

I plan to make ready three swap-bot exchanges to mail by Wednesday, and then focus on the remaining Winter Solstice gifts going to family. I really haven't lost time working, just haven't had a computer to record the progresses.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Such a Trip

If you haven't heard, there was a mudslide trapping hundreds of people on the freeway east of town.  I was unable to get through on the way home and stayed an extra night away with a lovely drive home around and through Bakersfield. The military graduation was moving, and I got to see both Grandsons. Oh of course the car battery went dead and Triple A was called, but all in all a super time. Disneyland and California Adventure were fun days as well.

Home now, I am looking at finishing up small projects and Amy's Cat quilt. Still no computer and am using my partner's to write here. I'll just keep taking photos and hope my camera will save them until I can download them on the IMac.

Meanwhile, its good to be home!

Tuesday, October 13, 2015


The outside contractor finished up today but the computer guy didn't show up. And, I had a second appointment with that Chinese Medical Massage treatment. He really did deep work today and I am wasted. Two weeks, next time, NEEDLES. Its so fun not to speak to each other. Serves me right for avoiding Chinese lessons. I had the chance.

I spent time getting ready for my trip tomorrow. Disneyland's Halloween Party, Downtown Disney, California Adventure, and best of all, the USMarine bootcamp graduation for my Grandson. The 8 hour drive home on Friday could get longer if there is traffic. It will be amazing to see both those boys!

I turned back to the small projects again and worked on a couple of them that are made with 5" charm squares and the Lil Twister. Scraps come from cutting and I am making smaller table toppers. I am experimenting as I go.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Still Waiting

I hoped that the computer guy would call this morning, but is after Noon and nadda. I am also waiting on a guy to come to do some outside repair. My blog today will seem rather like reading gray matter, but it is what it is.

Small towns are interesting to live in, especially when it comes to services. On the plus side, they seem to charge less, and on the downside, they have little concept of time and keeping appointments, or communicating their plans. I am using my partner's laptop so will not have pictures to share yet today.

I made a lot of progress on the Halloween apron I am creating for my friend Rex. I am turning the neck ties and waistband as soon as I finish writing here, and then all that is left is the final assembly of the pieces. I am pleased with it.

Then I put two borders on the two Tree Wallhangings I am making for my Sons. I need to find backing for them and then get them basted and machine quilted as my next step. They really turned out great. I made so many at once because they are a scrappy pattern. The project had been started a couple of years ago and last year I gave the ones I made to most of my Nieces and Nephews. (I will have pics as soon as I get my computer)

And then I started working on a LaBefana swap with my Strega Sisters. I have it assembled and ready to cut with the Lil Twister. Then it needs to be sewn together again with all the finishing steps. Our gifts get mailed no later than December 15 so they arrive in time for the Festa, which is January 6. (Pics when I can)

Next, is Amy's quilt, my endless project.

Tuesday I have an appointment for a Medical Massage from a Chinese therapist in town. We are unable to speak one another's language, but he sure knows his trade. I am hoping to get an energy boost for my trip to Disneyland, California Adventure and the USMarine Bootcamp Graduation. Morever, its actually an 8-hour drive home, but its on a Friday, so I am expecting the trip to take much longer.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Money Gifts

The computer guy picked mine up this afternoon to check it out. As that happens, I may not be online for awhile. It will give me a chance to catch up on various smaller quilting projects. Also, I am headed south for several days, so do not expect to be online all of this coming week. When I return, I should have plenty to share.

Last year when I made money gifts, I found styro tree-forms. It was laborious to fold the bills in fan shapes and bobbi pin them to the form. Some of the kids on my list will only get money, so I wanted to find clever ideas. When I don't send a wrapped gift, I try to forward the shipping costs to the kid, so essentially, they benefit. Yet, a clever presentation is so much more appealing than a card with money in it. Kids need to think outside the box and it is the adults in their lives who show them how it might be done.

After about a half an hour of research, I settled on this site: how-to-give-money-creatively.html I made a mock sample based on their example. It works for the teens and especially for the two who will get a goodly amount of bills. However, there are several younger kids on my list, so I kept looking. Giving money to the younger generation relieves me of trying to come up with something I can make with fabric. 

While I am not skilled with paper crafting, these are things I CAN make. I found this image (no directions needed) for some of the youngest kids and would substitute 'Birthday' for 'Solstice'. I've often heard that when you give a gift to one child in a household, the other(s) need to get the same thing. 

That is also true with giving quilts. Over the years, I made sure to hold back quilts if the others were WIPs.

And the last image I found was for $10 gifts made with rolls of quarters. I LOVE this idea though might only use wrapping paper and be done with it. Getting quarters isn't as much fun as getting the bills, so I will think on this for awhile before going to the bank. I might just go with the 

With all these money gifts in mind, I can more easily budget for holiday expenses, and not tax my brain for what to make or what to send the younger generation on my list. And of course, there will be quilts going out as well. 

See you soon!

Friday, October 9, 2015


I know that its not even Halloween, yet anyone who makes things for the Winter Solstice holidays (or however you celebrate the December holidays) knows that you have to start early. Kids are the more challenging beings because, while they SAY they just want money, they still want the gift to open. And face it, the closer it gets, we all want to believe that someone loves us and we deserve to get good presents.

To that end, I made two over-sized pot holders from what was left from the apron I made yesterday for the youngest of the Grrlies. I used Insulbrite scraps and overlapped three layers, machine quilting a simple grid. I didn't put the usual loop on them because I don't think they hang such things in her Mother's kitchen. These go in a drawer. They can sit on a table too.

Then I went to the grocery store and picked up a few generic packages of things she can make easily, some just call for water, some call for additional ingredients. When a kid is in the kitchen, making these kinds of things builds confidence & self-dependance. She is old enough to stay home alone.

My friend here in town offered me this little baking tool that only requires some cake mixes and perhaps some sprinkles to decorate them. It will make a very well rounded gift for the Grrrlie-grrl.

Oh, I know that what is in this kitchen package isn't all that healthy. Everything in it will be familiar, and even if she made it all the first week after opening, it will have given her something new to try, something special to wear, and something to keep her safe as she works / plays. And a little money will make her smile. At 10, her Mother pays for everything she needs.

Often, when I do something for or with my Grandchildren, I am reminded of the four very special Grandparents I had. None of them used box mixes to make our meals. And aprons were quite the utilitarian garb when in the kitchen whether you were female or male. Seemed that the men wore them made of white heavy fabric. 

One of my Grams wore red gingham that she cross stitched borders at the bottoms. They always fascinated me. When I did a search for red gingham aprons with cross stitch, I was really surprised at how much of an art form this is.  Gramma Lizzy wore her aprons to pieces and by the time she went into a nursing home, they were stained and frayed and tossed in the trash. All this apron-making has given me pause to think about making red gingham aprons for myself. I love to do the hand work and want to learn more. HOWEVER, when I looked at the tutorials, I learned that it wasn't easy. I am putting this into the dream file...the someday....

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Aprons, Gifts for Solstice

When I first saw how expensive aprons were, like many who walk through artists' booths do, I said, "Why, I can make this less expensively!" What was I thinking? Aprons are a lot of work to make! Thing is, unlike quilting patterns that tell you if the project is for beginners or advanced quilters, apron patterns do not provide that guidance.  

I made a few aprons last year for gifts to various adults in my life, and decided to make them for my Granddaughters for Winter Solstice gifts this year. Two of them are in their own apartments and probably don't do a lot of baking or cooking. Both of them learned to bake and cook with me when they were very young. I am making them aprons and cookbooks of my hand-written family recipes.

My youngest Granddaughter is 10+ and enjoys preparing meals and desserts. She & I didn't have the opportunity to share kitchen experiences. This apron is a very simple pattern that is demonstrated on You Tube at this link called Country Kitchen Ruffled Apron by Shabby Fabrics. I didn't include the pocket, which in my opinion, would cover up a lot of the fairy princesses. I've made this pattern a few times now and it is easier than the others I am doing for this year. What I like about it is that it will fit a youngster as well as when she is a grown woman.

Technically it takes three coordinating Fat Quarters which might cost around $3 each. I have leftovers of the blue and a bit of the yellow, and think I will attempt a double-hand oven mit to go with it. For the rest of her gift, I plan to shop at Trader Joe's and pick up some interesting box mixes and give her some items her family might not purchase for her to make. Whatever food I buy has to be somewhat familiar and yet just a bit beyond common so they can oooh and ahhh. Then, I want to make a couple of over-size potholders in the same fabric. It should be a fun gift to assemble.

I spent a little more time with the Fat Quarters I've cut from scraps by rolling them and wrapping them with seam allowance strips to hold them tight. They are colorized too for easy retrieval when I go looking for pieces in future projects.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Autumn Chills

If anything is comforting when the weather starts to get colder, it is snuggling under one of my quilts and an afghan over it that one of my Aunties made decades ago. I had some tea, and a cat who found his place and held me down for a little while. Painting the two doors and leaving them open so the edges could dry, brought a shocking chill inside. Its down to 45 degrees tonight and I love an open window in my bedroom. I make good use of those comfort quilts.

There are two borders to my Grandson's quilt. I've got two sides hand quilted on the first one. Nothing fancy. I've heard many a comment from other quilters regarding quilts going to kids. My family has always snuggled under blankets, throws, comforters and quilts. Each child has gotten their share of all those versions and knows how to treat them. Working on a quilt also is comforting. It connects me to the recipient in a joyful way.

I finished up with the September swaps and the last two are ready to ship out sometime next week. 
My computer is headed off to the shop to check out the fan. It is overheating and getting sluggish. I paid close to 2K about 7-8 years ago when I was still teaching. I don't really need the bells and whistles any more and will most likely purchase a less expensive PC. It is a quilting tool of sorts because it is either running an audiobook from You Tube, or some movies & TV episodes that I download while at my quilting tasks. Also, I have quilting pics of projects that I have finished and some that give me ideas for one I want to make. I research all sorts of things, and am on a few social media sights. 

I find that it is easy to get distracted and need the list I have on the sidebar of this blog to remind me of what my plans are for quilting, for paper projects and even the holiday gifts. We live in an electronic age, but what happens to all this information when the computer goes down? I used to panic when it was needed for my work. However now, it seems more like a toy than a tool. I felt that way the first time I took my quilting machine in for a tune-up. Now, I simply plan for down times.

Ah well, I am turning, ever turning to the holiday gifts I want to finish. And in truth, I do have a hand-written note-to-self. This might be the best tool in quilting and life I found.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Heavy Cloud Cover

Tis the season for enlightenment. I love setting out candles and those little village lights to brighten up the night. The fireplace was lit this morning too. It gets so dark here in the mountain valley. I love the dark nights. There is comfort in candle light, comfort in firelight, and even comfort in those sweet little villages.

I spent time trying to shift the lighting here in my studio to brighten up the room by moving a table to accommodate the pole lamp. Then I remembered I have tinted eyewear to help shield against computer light and bright sunshine. That made me smile at my choices. I think working with black fabric is also harder when the room light is dimmer. Yes, I was working on Amy's cat quilt, which has a lot of black in it. Just when I thought all the joining points were re-done, I held the quilt top to the light and saw that my job was not quite complete. My plan is to finish it and get it into the fabric store for machine quilting. 

Enlightenment is an interesting concept in life as well as in quilting. When lights are added to a quilt, the colors pop! I thought I liked how black did that but after working with Amy's cat quilt, I plan to introduce lighter, brighter colors to complement all the darker fabrics that I have received that are in my stash. 

Not too long ago, I did a FQ swap and received a number of whites and off-whites. I spent time today cutting a couple of them into those squares.

And now, I am off to paint the outside of my entry doors! There is a life beyond quilting and this project has waited long enough. I need to prep first and then just get on with it!

Monday, October 5, 2015


I finished hand quilting the sashing on my Grandson's quilt. Next is the first border done the same way.

I learned the person I send the 12 Days of Christmas box to this year is struggling with a major health set-back. I changed out Day #10, and made her a small folding book of affirmations. I am much into affirmations for myself that this seemed natural. There are two sides to the book so the other side has 5 too. It accordian folds and can be stood up. I printed off 2" square phrases.

I did get outside to work in the gardens, pulling weeds. And I made Split Pea Soup because there is a damp chill in the air.

It was fun to see Rico curled up on his new bed next to the window. Last night, he about went crazy because of a Raccoon at the pond and near the window. Then, of course, he is still taking my leather quilting thimbles to bat around so that I have to hunt for them. 

I wanted to make a little something to go with the half apron I made for a swap without adding more detailed work to my plate. Making those mug rugs from one cut of fabric seems to be my answer. I made a couple for my friend in MN who gave me some scraps from her Mother's estate that I really loved, and have continued the process for ones I have been making lately.

Next year is the year I 'kit' out my fabrics and patterns. I plan to make a number of holiday gifts in advance and set them aside for mailing at the end of the year. It is my hope to do something a bit more complex than what I had time for this year. Only four quilts are family designated for next year. The rest of my projects will get finished as far as possible without a deadline. It will be a good year.

I pulled out the quilting magazines with holiday patterns in them, as well as some smaller projects. Its exciting to have a goal in using up fabric in creative ways.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Granny Square Quilt

I found a pattern that calls for a LOT of those 2.5" squares I have cut. Last night and this morning, I sorted out what I need for 20 blocks. My plan was to get them all cut, put them into a container with the pattern and call it a kit for 2016.

I remember the Granny Square Afghans people crocheted with yarn scraps, but never learned how to crochet, so was overjoyed to find this as a quilt pattern. The idea of this quilt is to make it block by block and have each be random. Random is for those more artistic and free quilters. I need to have structure even though it will turn out to look more random than I think. 

Other photos of this quilt with the more freely selected squares don't appeal to me. I will be using a dark purplish for the outside of the block, the sashing and border. I have that dark purplish in my stash so do not need to buy anything for this project. The pattern called for 2 yards for the background and I have 4, so would do a small border or piping and finish with more of the dark purplish for the final border and maybe even the binding.

I sorted out the squares for 20 blocks. The tops here are the darks, then underneath are 4 medium colors and under those are 8 lights. The blocks are made on the diagonal with the purplish color as they go, so I will need to like each set up as I go or replace it. 

What I found is that I have a plethora of darker scraps and need to make sure I cut more of the lighter ones for the various projects. I wish I knew the actual quote regarding how much time you spend piecing vs. cutting. Cutting is a huge part of the quilting work as is the color selection and layout. Well, this is ready to be 'kitted'. And yes, I plan to write a note-to-self included with the printed pattern.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Bits and Pieces

Several months ago, I took in a cat who needed a new home. The baby in his house was so allergic. It was hard for them to part with him, and just as hard for me to adjust to having him around. I've always believed we set our rules in place for how we want to be treated and how we treat others.

This cat is like a little kid wanting to distract me whenever I am deep into a project. I identify as an Audio-Kinesthetic-Visual learner. Under that profile, I am a person who needs to hear someone ask for my attention rather than to come up and put their claws into the corner of my chair! He is learning to use his 'meow voice'.

I am also a person who doesn't want to say no to those in my care, if I can help it. It was time to make one of those pet beds. I sorted the bits and pieces that were cut from various projects, tossed the odd ends of batting and made a pillow form out of the fleece. AND I pulled out long fabric strips in the box that was right for that Gypsy Orphan quilt. I feel so environmentally conscientious about using every bit and piece of fabric!

The little bed went together easily. It had to lay around for a few minutes for him to want to be on it and later today, I 'll put it on the table behind the machine that sits in front of a West window. He is the sort of being who likes having his own space and likes being where the action is. 

I will continue saving the bits and pieces and make up another one when this one gets over-used. I don't mind tossing it once it has served its purpose.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Swap Expectations

Sometimes our own lives seem so overwhelming that we give little thought to the realities others must face. Most online swaps are meant to connect us to others so we can create something we think they will like. However, that is based upon the premise that people communicate, and they don't always do that.

I am finishing up the swaps for September so that I can turn my attention to my personal projects. One of the last ones was for a WTA (Winner Take All) and the theme of 'haunted houses'. Because I don't know the recipient, and because I like making simple mug rugs to practice various stitches, I just made one with a cut of fabric and a diagonal grid for the machine stitch. Its actually cute and would be something anyone might enjoy. 

I want to get it done and in Saturday's mail so it gets to her in time to enjoy this month for Hallows, so kept it simple. I can finish the hand binding tonight.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Simplifying Stash

I am practicing actions that adapt to my own rules. In some ways, creating new actions actually saves my life.

Seriously. When I think of all the time it takes for me to find the right piece of fabric for a project, it just makes sense to keep organizing...and then re-organizing if I find a different way to do things, a better way that works for me in the new moment of my life.

Although I have a Sunday designated to simply things, my fabric scraps box got away from me with my recent 'digging' to match up fabrics for a project. It is still not a perfect storage area for me. And it is weeks away from the Second Sunday Simplify day I set aside to do this work.

I found a number of You Tube videos with ideas for folding fabric to give as gifts, and then found this site that suggested a method for folding to keep in your stash. She uses a ruler and folds all of her pieces on it so they are the same size when she puts it in her storage. fabric folded for stashing

While none of this is new, it is new to me. AND, it almost doesn't apply until I get through the scraps, and cut them to those squares. I've been doing that and almost have a bin filled with 2.5", 3", 4", 5", 6", 8" 10" and strips in 2.5" wide and 5" wide. 

I pulled everything out to sort things together.

I've got a couple of smaller boxes I've also been throwing newly cut squares into. Today seemed like a good day to re-think what I have going and make a plan. Either I make something from all those squares SOON or I need another bin to keep them in. Notes to self help.

The larger box are 2.5" strips. The one next to is are 5" strips. Sometimes I wonder how all this fabric multiplies. The new folding-over-a-ruler technique for the larger scraps will eventually come in handy. For now, these smaller scraps need more management. And they need it now, not in a couple of weeks. I might find something else to do or more of this when the Sunday roles around or keep doing another step on what has started.

(This is not a quilt I am making but one I would like to make with my scraps.) What did get done is the sorting part, with a little bit of cutting. More sorting. As I did it, I started thinking about how I might like to use the scraps in simple quilts. The 10" and 5" squares will go into Twister-type projects. The others...not sure yet. One box of oddities is going to go together as a Gypsy Wife Quilt. There are endless options and ideas if one looks at the images. The idea is to use up all those orphans and odd sizes. Any combination works if you get a yard of a focus color (here it looks like an aqua or teal) and frame some blocks and make strips to carry it through the rest of the piece.The original pattern is a pattern, but I am going to call it a Gypsy Orphan. To that end, I have a box to toss all my oddities or orphans into, including strips that will not work for binding.