Monday, November 16, 2009

I'm still here

I've been focused on some other things through the summer so I haven't taken the time keep this up to date. The short list of accomplishments will soon be accompanied by pictures.

1. I lost 15 pounds and started walking/jogging again using the SparkPeople program, a free website. I highly recommend it! It was totally inspirational and kept me going. I'm "on my own" now and have maintained my weight loss for 6 weeks. I wouldn't mind losing another 5 lbs but I think if I maintain over the holidays I'll consider myself fortunate.

2. I completed Deena's graduation quilt in time to send it to her for her first week of college in August. I quilted it on my HQ16. I loved the way it turned out!

3. I completed Logan's graduation quilt and just presented it to him last week. I quilted this one on my HQ as well and I'm very happy with this one too!

4. I also finished quilting on my HQ a cross-stitched quilt top made by my mother-in-law. It is a wedding gift for my nephew and his bride. It still needs to be bound but they will receive it on Thanksgiving.

5. I quilted a small quilt top for my brother on my Bernina. It's bound and ready for giving.

6. I've made 5 journal covers for gifting. Several more to go.

7. I'm getting close to having my second quilt pattern ready to publish.

8. Totally enjoyed watching the NY Yankees win their 27th World Championship.

I still have lots more on my to-do list but hope to keep a better record going forward. I'll try to get some pics up of the completed quilts real soon! Thanks for staying tuned!

P.S. GO COLTS! Awesome game this week on SNF. I'm amazed at how they have been able to pull through every game. I love how they believe in themselves and never give up!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Crazy Pieced Blocks

So many people have asked me about how I made these cute little blocks that I decided to post a lesson on my method for making them. They are addicting, so when I figured out that I would need 144 of them for a graduation quilt I really didn't think twice about it. I make them in groups of 5, and make two groups at a time, in about an hour and a half from start to finish and I am not worried about speed.

I cut my squares (144 of them) at 6 inches for a 4" finished block. And, I cut it at 10" for a 8" finished block. For other sizes add 2" to your desired finished size to get the measurement for your starting square.

Since this block has 5 pieces, select 5 squares that coordinate.

Now stack them directly on top of each other in an order that you like.

Take your acrylic ruler and rotary cutter, set your squares on your mat and make 2 cuts at random angles from top to bottom. You do not need to measure but, do not make your cuts too close to the corner.

Now cut just the middle section twice from side to side again using unmeasured random angles.

Next, you'll mix up the order of pieces in each stack. To do this, leave the first stack on the left alone, take the top stack in the middle vertical row and take the top piece and put it on the bottom. Take the middle stack and put the top 2 pieces on the bottom. Take the bottom stack in the middle and put the top 3 pieces on the bottom. And, on the right column take the top 4 pieces off and place them under the fifth piece. Now all the stacks are mixed so that each layer contains five different pieces, one from each of the squares. Can you see that in the top layer?

Now you'll start sewing the blocks together. Start with the middle column and chain piece the top piece to the middle piece for each block. Remember I said I work on two groups at a time? So, you'll see I have 10 pieces chain pieced together. I'll cut off the first 5 and go on to the next step.

Note how I have offset the edges. I've pointed to where you should hit your 1/4" seam allowance.

Add the third piece making sure you're adding it to the middle piece not the top piece. It's easy to get them turned around. You'll know you have it right if when you lay the pieces out the angles match and the three pieces together are straight. If they make a funny angle to each other you've turned something around.

Time to press. You only need to press twice during this process. Once now and once after both side pieces have been added. You can trim the sides if you want to but, these will work just fine the way they are.

Now add the two side pieces. Pay attention to the angles here. One end of the red strip is wider than the other. Place the wide end of the strip towards the narrower part of the middle strip. If you get it backwards when you go to square up your blocks you might not have the width you need.

Press your blocks again. Generally I press the side strips away from the center strip.

Square up your blocks to 4 1/2".

Here's what I did with my blocks. I'm using 16 of them in each block set 4 x 4 and changed direction on each one so the seams don't have to match or line up. They are surrounded by larger blocks done in many blacks. I like using a wide range of reds and blacks for these.

Gotta go! I have about 15 more red ones to make and about the same number of black ones to make. Hope you enjoy making some of these fun little blocks. There are several variations I'm sure but this is how I've been making them for years. If you have questions please drop me a comment and I'll try to answer.

Monday, May 4, 2009

New Grill

Oh, the simple joys of spring! We had to get a new grill this year. Our previous one, that we brought with us when we moved here from Canada ten years ago, gave up the ghost after 15 years of service. When we started this one up tonite and it actually cooked our veggies beautifully and quickly...oh, that's the way a grill is supposed to work! Who knew!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

I'm Waiting

Well, I've tried mobile posting several times (Grrrr!) to no avail. I can't seem to get the system to work so I can post pictures I've taken with my phone over the past two weeks. So, the learning curve is still on the giant part of the upswing. Anyway.....

What I've been waiting for was delivered today. It will take quite a bit of unpacking and assembling but I've been told the assembly is not so bad and, of course, the payoff is really worth it. While in Paducah, I purchased a long-arm quilting machine called the HQ Sixteen. I brought home the machine in the car but the table and frame was sent via UPS.

The HQ Sixteen is a light-weight version of a long-arm machine. A couple of things I think that will be really important is that the table is adjustable in height and length so, if the space I have available for it changes, let's say, to an apartment, I can change the size of the table. I can even use the same machine head on a table the size of a card table (for free-motion work only). It's also not quite so industrial as other machines I was considering. And, I really don't plan on owning a sweat-shop so I don't need an industrial strength machine. Actually, the machine is industrial it's the table that is less so. I think it will be absolutely perfect for my use, and that of a couple of friends. So, if I ever get the tech side figured out, there will be photos!

Monday, April 27, 2009


Well, I got a little distracted today and didn't get as much done as I thought I might. I ended up dog-sitting my "grand-dog" for the better part of the day which means taking him out for walks, games of tug-of-war and throw-the-stick in our backyard. Good practice, I suppose, for the real thing, although we should be a long way from that. Here's a picture of him. He's a really sweet dog.

I did get a little sewing done and I did move the furniture around in my sewing room. I have a VERY IMPORTANT reason for needing to do that. More on that next'll want to come back to see what I'm so excited about!

I've also added my husband's blog as a blog I follow. He's an amateur photographer with some really fabulous pictures and info on his blog so check it out. Plus, he's helping me with all these baby steps I'm taking in blogging and adding pictures. Thanks, honey!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Day Three

The Show! The Show! and the Vendors! Although we're rather tired by now, there is so much to see. The quilts are wonderful, inspirational, artistic, engaging, colorful, imaginative, fascinating, brilliant, captivating (especially the miniatures), each one distinct, and new, representing a piece of their heart and mind's eye. A big thank you to each artist who put their work out there for us.
I took several pictures, not hundreds, of ideas that will really help me in future projects. And, I shopped a little bit, but it's really such an overload, sad to say, that I found myself thinking, yeah, more hand-dyed fabrics, ok, next, patterns, yeah, great. Isn't that awful? There were a couple of things that caught my eye, of course, and so, I picked up a pre-cut kit to make a small storm-at-sea quilt, something I've been wanting to make for a long time, and I thought this would be the only way I'd ever get to it. And, I bought the supplies for trying my hand at making a bowl from the "It's a Wrap" book which is made by wrapping cotton cording (clothesline) with narrow strips of fabric and zig-zagging the coils together. They were very cool. I think I will work on these two projects very soon.
The biggest project of the day was testing out long-arm quilting machines. I tested a different one each time we needed a sit-down. After another horrible night sleeping debating about which machine I need, I have a long way to go before deciding which one would suit. More on that another time.
Well, we're leaving today and it's time to get packed up. What a time! We'll be back next year if at all possible. In the meantime, Happy Quilting!

Here are some views of the Ohio River in downtown Paducah and a great spot to bring your carry out lunch! That's where we ate our Last Lunch from Kirchoff's before hitting the road back home.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Day Two

Alright, we've done Hancock's and the Museum and there is still more neat stuff to do here. So, today, after a giving ourselves permission to sleep in, we headed over to the vendors on Kentucky Ave. I was tempted by a loom to make rag rugs. Any comments on making rag rugs? Do they go with any decor? I'm wondering if a rag rug will look too "country" in my house.

Next stop, lunch at Kirchoff''s, for a bowl of delicious tomato soup and half a muffaletta sandwich. So good. Now we're off to the Rotary Club's antique quilt exhibit and, you guessed it, more vendors. Cherrywood has their booth there and I used some of their fabric in my nephew L's quilt a couple years ago. So, I had to get some more and a pattern I'd seen before and liked.

We called it an early day after that and headed back to the hotel to sew and look at our new stuff. We've had such a good time that we wished we could stay another day....could we? Hmmm. Maybe we could..............DONE! We're staying another day. Maybe we'll go see a demo at the show but, we'll definitely spend more time there and that's going to be great.

We Came, We Saw, We Shopped

We're in Paducah, KY my friend, C and I. We arrived Sunday afternoon as the rain finally broke and the skies brightened. Since we changed time zones coming in from Indiana, we had an extra hour to check things out. First, we drove around the downtown area to see what was going on. We happened upon Eleanor Burn's shop Quilt in a Day and decided that would be a good place to stretch our legs. Inside, they told us that their tents (of fabric and books) were also open so we buzzed over there. Picked up a couple of goodies there and then headed over to our hotel to check-in while it was still light. We got a ground floor room, so handy to shlep in our sewing machines and all our accessories. Here's our room with our machines set up. C had a Sew-Ezi table that worked great for her machine while I used the table already in the room.
Our first full day in Paducah was a total success. FIRST STOP: HANCOCK'S! Woohoo! Major hit! A couple more reds, a couple of unusual pieces for fun AND, about 20 one yard cuts of Kaffe Fassett prints which I have been coveting for $5 a yard. Also, batting for my mother-in-laws cross-stitch top I said I would quilt for her to give to my nephew at his upcoming wedding, and a new pair of snips. And, it's not even lunchtime! Oh, and lunch! You must go to Kirchoff's Bakery for one of their fabulous sandwiches. But, you won't be able to choose just one so plan on coming back the next day for another! And, save room for a cookie from their bakery for dessert! After lunch it was time for the National Quilt Museum. Oh My! That is always breathtaking and so inspiring. It makes you want to go home and sew up a storm. Pictures aren't allowed inside but allow yourself about two hours to take it all in. Next we visited Caryl Bryer Fallert's shop and that was like a quilt show in itself. She is soooo talented and soooo nice! She autographed a book I bought with photos of her quilts in it. That stop is a must. We made a couple of other stops too, each one necessitating the purchase of some little remembrance to come back with us. The Kentucky Oaks Mall had a redwork vendor which was quite nice; I love the old handwork so I had to get a pattern and some thread for one of those projects I'll have to do someday. Whew, are we tired or what. That was yesterday but, it's time for dinner and I must go. Hope you all get a chance to make this trip some day. And, make it at least a three day trip, you'll enjoy it so much more if you're not pressed for time. I'm already wishing we could stay another day.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Getting any sleep lately?

I've been waking up almost evey night around 2:55 am. Last night I thought of a least a dozen things to blog about which kept me laying awake until sometime around 4. (You'll just have to wait for those:) The night before it was about the latest quilt I'm working I want to piece it, how I want the colors to wash over it. The night before that I worried and my mind spun round and round until I convinced myself that was enough.

I really wanted to get this up and going because I'm going to Paducah next week for the quilt show. I love going there and this year I have a different traveling companion and I think we will have a great time. I don't go every year but there are so many things to look forward to. Look for pictures next week assuming I can figure out how to do that.

This blog will be about all the things going on in my life and things I figure out about myself as I go to the next stage of being an empty-nester. But, I'm not that deep, really. I'll talk about quilting and knitting and projects around the house, like constantly rearranging the furniture (something I think I picked up from my Dad, much to hubby's chagrin). Mostly I'll keep it fun with things I hope you want to hear about. If you want more info about anything all you have to do is ask. Since I'm new at this please cut me some slack until I get things figured out. Whee, here we go!