Tuesday, January 31, 2012

A Very Special Friend

My very dear friend Wanda has had two strokes that make the right side of her body weakened. But she makes up for it with her left side! Just look at this beautiful lap quilt that she sent to me as a gift! I will treasure it. Thank you Wanda, and thank you, Dave, her hubby, who ties the quilts she makes.

I also received my first set of 100 two-inch charms from the Postage Stamp Swap from Jennifer! Yippee! I think that I like the little print of teacups and teabags on the beige background best.

Aren't they all fun? It makes you feel rich to have a hundred of something!
Wait, wait! There are another hundred from Alberta in Georgia, too. Here are her sweeties:
Today was cold and snowy. Felix slipped all around on the driveway in the plowtruck. My heart is always in my throat that someone isn't popping over the hills on route 140 to crash into the plow truck as he plows us out.

Out in the fenced backyard, Raven doesn't worry about "Puppy Dad" at all!


Saturday, January 28, 2012

I Love Snow! I Hate Ice!

Snow storms are great! Felix can plow the snow and it curls right up along the edge of the plowblade and then it stays put where he stacks it. But when three inches of snow turns into freezing rain, it all turns to sloppy squishy glop. It is very slippery and hard to plow.
Yesterday my poor Felix was walking out to his plowtruck and slipped and fell and banged his head on the asphalt pavement of our driveway. He said that my hand-knitted and hand-spun wool cap cushioned the blow somewhat, but he was soaked through to the skin in the wet slop. He chose to just continue on to the truck and plow anyway. I did not know that he had fallen until he came back into the house after finishing the driveway. A change of clean dry clothes and a couple of tylenols later, he was okay.
This is a picture taken today, a day after he had plowed. You can see what a heavy gooey mess it is! In the warm sun of today, we spent a lot of time handshoveling with scraper/pusher type shovels.
We have winter woes, but at least it is not too buggy like in the deep south, so I really don't mind it.
I continue to work on those Criss Cross Blocks for Nickelswap. This batch is due February 15th and we are doing reds and/or purples in Civil War fabrics and Piecrust Primitive Muslin by Moda. Just to be on the safe side, I ordered two extra yards of it from Fabric.com. I really like the way it looks with all the Civil War stuff. Here's my process going along:

This looks black but it is actually a very deep purple with a white stripe.
Here is a Jo Morton crimson before and after pressing and trimming the made-up blocks.

I just love how they look! The blocks are 5" unfinished, so they are small and quite challenging to construct, even with strip piecing methods.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

The 7% Solution

Some people have math anxiety. I have math paranoia.

Even with my trusty calculator nearby on the desktop of my computer or on the dining nook shelf, I'm still afraid of math. I worry that I have put the numbers in wrong or, perhaps, that I've chosen the wrong symbol for the function, or just plain chosen the wrong function.

So the making of a quilt backing is usually a nightmare for me. One lady who is a longarmer suggested that I simply buy the  108" wide quilt backing fabric. That would be a great idea if I had a lot of disposable income. On my fixed income, with a twenty year old monster stash, it seems silly to buy MORE fabric when all I need to do is to piece together what I have! Sigh.

Yesterday, I put together the prewashed and dried-in-the-dryer printed flannel into a giant piece for the backing of Patches & Pinwheels. It is deep brown and cream. Here it is as I had the pins in it ready to haul it over to my sewing machine. It sure looks funny all poofed up like that!

The good news is that I finished it, yippee!!! The bad news is that it shrunk so much that it is gonna be a squeaker for it to fit. Please keep your fingers crossed for me that it will work for my longarmer. Pieces that were cut at 96" long, measured 89" after washing and drying. That is 7" of length lost over the course of 3 yards! If you divide the 7" into the 96" it comes out 7% lost, I think. (anybody is welcome to correct me if I'm wrong) It was sale flannel from Joann's, so I guess that I got what I paid for.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Scrap Therapy

When there is no sunshine and it's freezing rain, I need scrap therapy! So today I cut like crazy. Each fabric that I selected for the 2" charm swap over at The Curious Quilter, was a 2" strip. So why not cut two or three extra width-of-fabric 2" strips while I was at it, right? YAHOO!!!! I had a fabric field day!

By cutting the extra strips, I managed to fill, not one, but rather two small plastic shoebox bins. I can't wait to do some strip twist quilt tops or maybe a rail fence, too?
I also got all the rest of the 50 additional 2" charms cut and bagged to mail out. Aren't they sweet? They take a long time to cut up. I took hot tea breaks every 45 minutes or so. I can't tell you for sure because my battery in my watch decided to give up the ghost sometime this afternoon. I guess that tomorrow, when the weather is predicted to be better, I'll go get a new watch battery installed at the jeweler's. Hmmm. That's right beside Joann's and I have some coupons...hehehe.

One of the very best things that I did for myself today was to only select fabrics that were stacked up on my cutting table to use for the swaps. Once used, I made myself PUT THEM AWAY! So I was able thus to clear a big space on my ever-beleaguered cutting table. My goal is to have it completely cleared off, but as I have resisted setting a concrete deadline for that, it has remained swamped for too long. I'm just pleased to have progress!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Back To School

Tonight is the last of Matthew's extra long semester break at New Hampshire Technical Institute. After supper, I will drive him back to his dorm with his huge bag of clean laundry and his quilt. Although the dorms are all locked on break, he was afraid to leave it there for six weeks. I was so glad that he showed how much he cares for it. I'm not looking forward to driving in the dark for an hour round trip, but at least the weather is clear.

Today I finished cutting those homespun strips for Nickelswap. There are ten sets of five half width of fabric 2 1/2" strips. I'll get them off into the mail tomorrow.
I need to get going on my February-due Criss Cross blocks for that swap, too, but I have only prepared the fabrics for them. I need to cut and sew!
I looked anxiously today for any news on the "new-to-me" Postage Stamp swap of 100 two inch charms. But I received no emails on it. This is what I cut for it today:
Those are matching stacks of 50 in each of the four piles; one for me to keep, and three to swap. I'll get the other 50 done tomorrow.
But most of the day was spent rekindling the fire of Orca Bay. I need motivation! So to kick-start my mojo, I placed these blocks on the ironing board to look at. I felt soooooo INSPIRED!
I put my shoulder to the wheel and worked on my Step 7. I'm not done, but am much further along now.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Goldenrod in January

For the past couple of days, I have been working on the golden focus-fabric string blocks. I may call this lap quilt "Goldenrod." As I have worked on it, I have used the Orca Bay wing units and red strings assembly as my leaders and enders. Here is what a couple of the blocks look like. One of the most fun parts of string quilts is seeing what they look like when assembled with a different color for the focus fabric in the center diagonal.

There is a nice homespun strips swap in Nickelswap. I've been collecting homespuns and looking forward to making a big quilt from them. So I've spent quite a bit of time preparing fabrics for that strip swap.

Also, the 8 yards of brown and cream printed flannel for the backing of my Patches and Pinwheels has been cut into 3 equal 96" pieces and washed in the washer on hot and dried in the dryer on high heat.

So it should be all shrunk down. I'm in the process of clipping off the selvedges from all the sides with sissors. I don't trust myself to do that with the rotary cutter. I'm going to trim 14" of width off one of the pieces and then add it to the bottom of the three sections to increase the length. The pattern won't be matched but it will do for the size that I need.
Here is the picture of the God's Eye lap quilt top, Goldenrod.

As you can see, we had a snowstorm last night of about 5" but my hero, Felix, plowed the driveway so clean and clear that it melted off in the sun. We are due for more snow tomorrow but not as much. I hope the Channel 9 weathermen are right, but I've shoveled a lot of "no accumulation!"

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Jo Kramer's Star Kissed Cookies

Today was brutally windy and poor Matthew was working outdoors all day over at the recycling center (still affectionately known as "The Dump" by all the townies). I was inspired to have hot tea or cocoa and fresh cookies waiting for him when he got home at 6:30pm, long after dark. Felix also had a hot hearty supper of beef cooked in wine sauce gravy with petite peas and red bliss boiled potatoes.
Jo Kramer, of Jo's Country Junction,http://www.joscountryjunction.com/?p=883 had this cookie recipe around Christmas time and I printed it out to add the Kisses to my shopping list. The cookies are wonderful!
Jo has asked us to relate our "Waste-not Wednesdays" tip. Here is mine!

If you do not have a large cooling rack for your cookies, slit open one of those clean brown paper grocery bags and place your cookies on that to cool. It will also absorb any excess grease from the bottom of the cookies, too. When you are done with it, it makes great kindling paper for the fireplace.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Everything Day

With an early morning two inches of snow that glistened when the bright sun came out on it, and then some light wind that brought in rain...well, this day had every kind of weather in it! Felix did plow the driveway as there was just a little too much to melt off and we know what happens to it when it gets slushy and then freezes. You can be stuck with an icy mess that lasts all winter.

It being an Everything Day, I decided to tackle my overflowing gnarly basket of strings. Whenever I'm truing up an edge when cutting, I take a generous cut of about an inch and a half up to two inches rather than cut a weensy bit that gets thrown away. That first uneven cut goes right into the strings basket.
I chose some various cheddars and golds to use as the focus fabric and made up 8 multi-colored string blocks in the 10" size. It was great fun! I even used a few of the wing triangle and red string pieces from Orca Bay as L&E's, so I told myself that I was still working on it. But I didn't believe it. LOL!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Quilty Brown Bag Auction

Wednesday night my guild had their regular meeting with our Quilty Brown Bag Auction. Helen is always our auctioneer and she does a great job by peeking into each brown paper bag and oooohing and ahhhhhing over its contents. We, in the audience, can only guess from her little verbal hints as to what's inside; treasure or white elephant! There was a $10 maximum bid for any one brown bag.
Because I had misplaced my newsletter, I hadn't been sure that it was auction night and didn't bring anything except a little extra pocket money. Since I wasn't participating by bringing in a bag or two, I decided to help out by giving Helen starting bids as she called for them.  I began the bidding on almost every one of the 40+ bags, but only won on 3 lots.
I loved what I got! One bag was some floral fabric in a large scale and also had a preprinted harvest vest (cut and sew). I think the floral was intended to be the lining. Nice! I'm too big to fit it but I could make it up as an item for our new "Boutique Table" at our next quilt show.

Next I won a large handled shopping bag that was filled with glorious scraps. Great variety and nicer fabrics, too. Yippee!
Lastly was the very best! A complete, with precut fabrics, kit for a 45"X60" WATERCOLOR quilt top! I've always wanted to do a watercolor quilt, so now I can learn the basics with this kit.

Okay, now, the total damage? $17.00 for everything! The kit would be at least 50 bucks from Keepsake Quilting, I'm sure. So I made out like a bandit.
Hope that Friday the thirteenth was good to you, too!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Yippee! Snow Day!

Raven loves the snow!

All I could think of, was thank goodness I laid out that quilt top to measure it YESTERDAY and not today! LOL!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Patches and Pinwheels

Today I finally wrestled the last two long seams together on the Patches and Pinwheels top that I had started in early November at the Golden Gese workshop. I had rows 1 through 5 all assembled and pressed, and 6 through 10, and 11 through 15. That made three very large sections which was so much easier to press than one giant one. Then I sewed the two seams between the three sections. I find that horsing those big sections around is very tiring on the shoulders and arms.
Next I spread it out on the clean driveway that I'd swept to have Felix help me measure through the center for borders. It was 80"X91". We spent some time auditioning colors for the borders and I liked the tan with the chocolate brown.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Mending Ways

If you have a little Stitch Witchery and some time, you can save a favorite pair of jeans. This is how I do it:

You folks that have a zigzag can do even better!

After sending some winged geese units from my Orca Bay down to Swooze in Texas, I needed to make some more of them. Today was back to Step 4 for the red string blocks. That pleased me because I had cut so many extra red strings.
And I'm still chugging along on making sets of the Civil War Criss Cross Blocks, too. Here is a Bonnie Blue Civil War black paisley with the Moda Primitive Muslin Piecrust in a strip set ready to be subcut.

The Moda Piecrust is a perfect match for the off white paisley design. It looks so olde timey! These are going into a quilt called Across The Spectrum from McCall's Jan/Feb 2011 by Sherri Bain Driver. So different from my boisterous Orca Bay colors.
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