Thursday, December 31, 2009

Auld Lang Syne

We always hear this song on New Years so if you are wondering why, or where it came from, check it out here.  I am one who really tries hard to not wish away time, even on days when I think 4:30 may never arrive.  Ringing in the new year is always an exciting time, we can look back at what we have accomplished, what we wanted to do and didn't, and generally it's the latter we regret.  This is going to be a great year, regardless of the challenges that arise.  If we take things one day at a time, look for the upside in situations, and breathe, we can all face and conquer whatever life puts in front of us.  Life is a "no peek" journey, if we knew what tomorrow would bring, we might not be able to get through today! 
So go enjoy your day, enjoy every day.  Take a chance, take a trip, start a new project.  I remember someone telling me "The pessimist might be proven right in the end, but the optimist will have a better time getting there!" Choose to have the better time!
Thanks for stopping by my little corner of blogland and leaving comments, I appreciate it.
Happy New Year

Monday, December 28, 2009

Christmas Cactus

Here is my one and only picture of Christmas in AZ 2009!

Why no pictures? Well, my parents started "snowbirding" about 16 years ago and very little Christmas decor made it's way south. I guess it had something to do with their winter home being under 500 sq ft, something about storage space and 115 degree weather in the summer that melts candles left behind? Needless to say, we really lack in the Christmas Tree department. This year my Dad was being a bit humbug, but knowing I was coming for a few days, he pulled it together quite nicely. Except for the tree! Usually it's an inverted cardboard cone that is wrapped in green tinsel with a strand of mini lights poking through from the inside out. As we were getting ready for the annual Christmas eve get together, Dad pulls out the tree, but NO lights! Something about last year, light bulbs, masking tape?? Needless to say, I told him it was perfect just the way it was and I was sure Santa could find it during the night! Oh, this story and my lack of pictures......I took the cactus shot from the highway on the way to the airport when I realized I didn't have any pics to blog about, but then told my dad if I showed pictures of our tree, people from all over the world would be clamouring for information on where we got our spectacular tree this year. This put a smile on Dad's face, we both chuckled and continued on the drive to the airport.
This is what else I did, besides eat too much and relax a lot.

I'm using the back basting method of needle turn applique on this block. Not my favorite method. I think I will go back to my freezer paper method, but I'm going to try turning the edges with glue instead of thread basting. When I sat down to stitch, I found this needle turn too fussy, I'd like to get the corners and points right with the prep work, rather than trying to make them right with the applique stitches. But I LOVE this method for the bias stems, it's excellent for this part. The green leaves took me 20 minutes each to applique down and this was after all the prep work was done!  One flower to trim, three flowers to applique and 4 yellow circles for the flower centers.  This is one of many blocks in a 30's BOM that I am committed to finishing in 2010.

These two blocks are from an alphabet sampler. I chose to do redwork for the blocks and I'm only doing three blocks. I'll work them into a wall hanging with a variety of pieced blocks. Goal - Christmas 2010!

I'm about 1/2 way through and LOVING this book.
So this sums up my Christmas, now it's back to work, back to life as we know it!
Set some stitching goals for 2010, I know I will.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Leaving on a Jet Airplane

to go and see my favorite guy. Yup, I'm spending a few days with my Dad.
Wishing everyone a very Merry Christmas!  Remember the reason for the season.
Sit and stitch a bit

Monday, December 14, 2009

Mom's Quilt

I have a sign hanging in my office that says "Success isn't always about winning; sometimes it's about endurance"
Here is endurance!

Finally.  I have finally finished this quilt. OK, it does need a label and a sleeve, but it's finished. I just took the last few stitches on the binding and laid it out on the spare bed for these pictures.....but first, the story behind this quilt.
My mom passed away in a hospice Dec 5,2006 and to honor her and help raise monies for the hospice, I promised my father that I would make and donate a quilt for the annual Treasures of Christmas fundraiser in November. I had some of my favorite quilt books with me at my dads during Christmas and I said, "Pick one and I'll make it" As he flipped through Simple Traditions by Kim Diehl, he saw the name, Remembering Grandma. Decision made!
A lot has happened in my life since losing my mother. I lost my husband, I've moved two times, went from being a full time quilter to a full time office employee, and have won the battle with breast cancer this year. Through this all, I've been working on this quilt.

The border checkerboard has been cross hatched, and a relaxed ribbon motif was put in the outer border.

I quilted the center using templates and rulers. A lot of work, but I think I found the right balance of quilting for the piecing. I feathered the inner border. The cream background fabric on this quilt is Sateen, so it's got a nice sheen to it.

I bought four different blue fabrics until I found this Jinny Beyer print, it was the perfect blend of print and color. I started the quilting and then had to take it off my machine for a while and it was a struggle to get myself back at this. I've used Hobbs Wool for a batt so it has a beautiful drape.
I've missed the fund raisers for '07, '08, and '09. I will not miss 2010. I hope to enter this piece in some shows and have some ribbons to hang on it, hopefully that will garner a higher price at auction. I'm going to ask for a minimum price of $500. There will still be a few stories this quilt will tell before it leaves my home.
Stitch a bit today, each stitch brings you closer to finished!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Decorating with Quilts

I love looking at quilting books to see how the photo shoot has been set up. When I get a glimpse into rooms that are "staged", it makes me want to get rid of everything I own and decorate from scratch. But that would be impossible. I have too many things that I could never part with. This is one of them. Although this top has some technical issues, it was the first sampler I made without a pattern. My inspiration came from this book by Alex Anderson, a staple in most quilters library.

I made this quilt in 2001 or 2002. It was before I knew anything about machine quilting or longarm quilting. I thought everything was hand quilted. Silly me! I used Warm and Natural batting and variegated machine quilting thread to hand quilt. My hand and wrist was so sore when I finally finished this baby. Would I do things differently? You bet. But I believe the biggest lessons in quilting are the ones you learn as you make something and then apply in your future quilts. So I don't hand quilt with W & N batting, I use wool, and I now have a nice supply of hand quilting threads.
This next quilt was the first class I took when I moved to the U.S. It was offered at The Cotton Shop, a funky shop in The Dalles, OR. There were lessons learned on this quilt. One. Well, maybe more, but one big one. Five minutes of machine quilting is an hour of unquilting. I decided I didn't like this top when it was finished, so I removed every single machine quilted stitch. Yup, the whole thing, every stitch. Crazy time! I love it now, but had I left the original quilting in this top, it would look just as nice. Well, maybe not quite as nice, but I could have lived with it. It's amazing how the first wash just takes away any little issues you think you have with your quilting.
But now it's done, I love the border/binding efforts on this top. I had to get creative as I was running out of fabrics; sometimes the best design ideas are not planned, but of necessity.
It's snowing out right now, my curtains are closed as I'm posting, so I must go check and see if I'm staying in or doing some Christmas shopping this afternoon.
Stitch today, even for a few minutes.

Friday, December 11, 2009

I'm SO Excited

This has been a tough year for me and I told myself that in 2010 I'm going to DO things. That means planning and getting out. So I just purchased tickets to see Celtic Woman. I'd never heard of them, but the owner at work was talking about their show on PBS, and since we have a bunch of tv's in various offices here, we got to see a bit of their concert the other day. So now I have a plan for a Sat night in May 2010. Might not seem like a big deal to many, but for me, it's huge. My lack of planning leaves me in the dust with many things.... not in 2010!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

The Man in Brown

I love when UPS arrives at my house. They leave their packages tucked in the corner of my front porch, away from the elements. The packages stay there, waiting for me to arrive home. It's such a delight to be able to just pick it up and take it inside. No looking for my mailbox keys, no walking across the street in the cold and dark to check my mail. Probably just bills in there anyways!
I told myself "no more books" and then these arrived. I'll never live long enough to make all the beautiful projects designers and authors publish for us, but I so enjoy flipping through the pages just before nodding off for the night.

I now have all of Kim Diehl's books and will certainly purchase her new one next year. I love applique and although I don't use her method, I love her designs and color choices.

I know I said I wouldn't post any more pics of this piece, but since I'm talking Kim Diehl, and I haven't shown it over top a square table, I had to share. What a wonderful design, it is meant to hang over like this so next year I will make an effort to have a small square table and use this to showcase snowmen.

This circular piece was a class project that my friend Paula and I did together. It's one of those patterns where you get two tops exactly the same but opposite. Here is my version and the opposite is on Paula's table in OR. I will always think of my quilting buddy when I look at this piece.

And finally, a quilt as you go project from the 12 Days of Christmas blog hop. I sewed bells on the tree instead of buttons, I'm enjoying it on my wall until Dec 13, when my friend will take it home with her. When she saw this piece, her first words were "That would match my place perfectly" So off to her place it shall go. Also because I gift I purchased for her has been lost in my move.

I'm on the home stretch with some finishes, I'm binding away, staying warm and toasty during these cold nights. It might even snow today.
Stitch a bit if you can.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Girlfriends and Quilts

It's that time of year when my girlfriends get together for our annual Christmas dinner. This year is was the "Original 7" who attending the dinner. I didn't take many pictures, however, this one is great.

We ate lots of appy's, had cocktails galore, and then had yummy seafood lasagna and ceasar salad for dinner. After the gift exchange this was served.

I'm all about the desserts, my hips can confirm this. But the expression "Life's too short, eat dessert first" really does apply to this delight. It's a Snowball Cake and the recipe is here.


Here are a few more pictures of my holiday decorating. I made three of these little cross stitch pull bells back in the mid 90's. I found a little stitch shop in Spokane WA while on one of my many business road trips.(I'm glad I didn't know about quilting back then). Stitch shops were hard to find, we didn't have one in the city I lived in, so it was a big deal to find this one. I saw this little kit, all the materials were not available so I asked the owner to order the supplies and said "Mail me enough to make 3" I didn't ask how much any of the parts were for this project, neglected to consider the exchange rate from CAN to U.S. at the time and when the little envelop arrived, it came with a very big bill. But it was worth every penny. I love this banner, I put it out every year. My dad is on his own now and it's one of the decorations I will take out and put up when I arrive at his winter house in AZ. It's small, but packs a great decorating punch.

Here is a close up of the Santa's. Each Santa measures 1" x 1 1/2" Their beards have hundreds of seed beads stitched and looped and hat's off to the designer. How creative!

This table runner is made from my most favorite Christmas fabric collection. Holidays in Paris by In the Beginning. Don't bother looking for it, it's sold out all over the world! If you have any in your stash, lucky you. I have a few pieces in various shapes, just waiting for some other project. I miss cut a piece for this project and when I called the shop I purchased it as, she laughed! I guess it flew out the door. I ended up ordering online from a shop in MD and told them to pack as much of this collection into the flat rate envelop. Silly me, I should have told them to use a box!

Notice the great border, this is letting the fabric do all the work for you.

Finally, my large snowflakes. My mom crocheted these for all of her family. In the last few years of her life, she was very sore. Arthritis and hip issues, and to keep herself busy while resting in her chair, she tackled a book that had 100 different snowflake patterns. Some are 2" in diameter up to this size. I put the small ones on my tree every year and hang the three big ones in a place where I will see them every day. It's all about the memories!

So pull out your own memories, share them with your fellow blogger and enjoy all the season has to offer. And find a few minutes in all the hustle and bustle to sit and sew, it's good for the soul!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Christmas in Coming

Some of the blogs I read have been posting a Christmas quilt a day. I don't have nearly that many but I'll share a few that I put out every year. My tree was delivered to my front door yesterday after work and although I didn't really want to get into this job, the season got the better of me and I started hauling boxes out of the garage and into the living room. I didn't do the usual of every single ornament on the tree, I even passed on the .99 tinsel this year. But I added my favorite quilt as a tree skirt.

There are parts of my place that haven't been put together since I moved in, the mantel has been a catch all for a variety of things. Needless to say, it is not decorated yet. Christmas is a good time to assess what you love and what you can donate. I seem to have a lot of the latter. I've been adding to my Good Will boxes daily.

This panel greets me when I get up and head for my coffee in the mornings, I thought that was a perfect spot for her. She has been hand quilted and is the first panel I have ever done. With some beads and buttons, she could really shine. You can't start your day off on a bad note when this is what greets you before your coffee.

This little piece is one of my favorites. I took a Thread Painting class a few years ago because the class outline said we would learn how to put seed beads on with our machine. I'm such a cynic, I had to take the class to see that in action. My tree is loaded with seed beads, all machine attached. It is amazing what you can do with the right tools. A 60 needle and fine thread and you are in business.

My front door greets everyone with a wreath and a quilted banner.

Finally, a small fused banner from Laundry Basket Quilts. It is fused and then free motion quilted around the outside of the letters. I've used this alphabet for several projects, it's one of my favorite letterings.

Tonight is the night my girlfriends and I get together and celebrate the season. There will be hundreds of years of friendship around the table, a lot of laughs and plenty of food.
Hope you have some holiday cheer this weekend.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Finally Finished

I know I've shown pictures of this project and I promise these are the last ones. It it finally finished.

The binding has been turned and hand sewn, the snowmen have eyes and their tummies are buttoned up tight for the winter, and yes, there is even a label on the back.

It felt so good to stitch the label on this last night, but I always find finishes a little bittersweet.

So now what? It's not like I don't have about 20 other projects that need work, but I become so attached to projects while I'm working on them, especially when they are not for someone else. How about you? Do you procrastinate on the last few details?
Stitch a bit today

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

To my fellow bloggers and readers....."May your table be heavy with food and crowded with friends and family".

Safe travels to those on the move this week. I'll be staying far away from buildings with cash registers. My plan is to enjoy the time off as I've had 3 vacation days since Jan 2008. I'm giving thanks for my terrific family and friends, my co-workers who have been so supportive during my cancer journey, and to having good health. It's been a journey!
I hope you enjoy your sewing rooms! I'll be enjoying my visit to "the middle of nowhere". Stay tuned for pictures!
Sew thankful for many things,

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Bindings Abound

It's Sunday night and I have 3 tops with bindings on them and one waiting to get done. I promised myself I would quilt my own top this weekend, the Christmas 2007 top that hasn't seen a holiday table yet. This will be done and out for Christmas 2009.  As much as I will machine applique, machine piece, and machine quilt, I just can't bring myself to putting the binding on by machine. How about you, are you a hand binder like me? It's my favorite part of making a quilt, my last chance to work on the piece, and my last chance to give it my best effort on a plump and neatly stitched edge.

As usual, clicking will give you close ups of my pics.  This was an interesting pattern.  It's from Kim Diehl's book Simple Seasons. I have all her books and I love them. This one calls for the strips for the branches (arms) to be cut on the straight grain, so that when you go to applique them down, they will bend and crease and be a bit knobby like branches. This was hard to do at first, as I was trying to get them to be as flat and even as possible. Once I gave up on this idea, it became easier to applique and I love the finished product.  I put a layer of batting under my snowman so the background print wouldn't show through the white. Plus they have a bit of dimension to them.  I uses a freezer paper method and hand appliqued the inner border.

The snowmen have got their eyes, they need some buttons down the front, and the binding needs turned and hand stitched to the back.  I might do a bit of  'big stitch' quilting on the appliqued border, the stitch in the ditch just doesn't seem like enough quilting. I'll wait until I turn the binding, that may be enough for now.

Here is a panel that I have been hand quilting, finally got it finished and now it's ready for the binding.

And I'll end this post with Miss Molly. She LOVES her new back yard, no traffic, no kids, just a quarter acre fenced in all to herself. She's surveying her domain!

Hope you found some time to sew this weekend.

Friday, November 20, 2009

A little of this......

This is what one corner of my sewing room looked like on Sunday morning. I started with an hour of work before my friend arrived and we put in another 2 - 3 hours of sorting and moving.

Here is the result. We moved all the bolts of fabric and the bookstand to the studio room. I had to wrap my head around the changes because in my mind I was going to keep all my sewing stuff separate from my longarm stuff. And do I ever have a lot of stuff. My thoughts were to keep all the fabric and quilting books in the room with my sewing machine and then have my longarm books/supplies in the other room. It didn't turn out like that, but after all the work on Sunday I just closed the door and left things. Then Monday morning I went downstairs and walked into the room and knew it was going to work, I could breathe!

Update on my 144 Log Cabin blocks. I think this is the setting I am going to use. All the blocks are made, and from all the scraps, there was one piece of fabric that kept rubbing me the wrong way. So I took it out!
I've been following along the Blog Hop with these girls and this is the first project I've made. I have several other patterns printed and will be doing my best to get them done before Christmas. Since I used red buttons on the Prairie Points, I think the tree will be trimmed with mini bells and a bit of big stitch quilting. Sorry for the sideways pic!
Here are a few pictures of Judi T's quilt. I LOVE her color choices. This turned out great and her choice of backing thread really pops. This was a fun quilt to quilt, thank you!

A block from my 30's BOM that got abandoned in the spring. I had some issues with it, then I lost interest. I have found some it it, but the whole project needs to get grouped, finished blocks up on the design wall and then assess it from there. I think I am over 1/2 way through the blocks and it really will make a great spring time quilt.

And my one finished block for my red & white log cabin tree skirt. Will it see this Christmas, nope. I think I want to hand quilt this with a big stitch perl cotton and use it at a throw instead of a tree skirt. Only time will tell.

TGIF, no plans this weekend which means I will have MY christmas quilt quilted and the binding sewn to the front. WhoooHoo!
Sew a little this weekend.