Friday, December 30, 2011

And a Happy New Year!

I hope all of you, your families, and your friends have a wonderful New Year!  

The pictures I'd intended to post this week are still in the camera.  Haven't even gotten them downloaded yet.  

That's my goal for the New Year - download pictures. 

Friday, December 23, 2011

Merry Christmas

With thanks to Dover for their ecards.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Almond Cake and Chai Tea




Sunday, December 11, 2011

Christmas ornaments

Every year, I try to make a new ornament for my girls.  I saw the directions for this over on Julia's blog and thought they'd be perfect this year.  Obviously, I changed the colors.  Also, the list of necessities doesn't give how many of each we need.  I got a small bag of seed beads and it barely made two baubles so if you want to do more than two, buy a bigger bag.  And there are twelve sections so that's handy to know, too.  Julia showed 24 drops but I didn't have enough end beads so made 12 drops.  

Obviously, the top photo is better.  I don't have a tree so had to come up with a way to 'hang' them!  The beading is the same pattern but I used different beads on the drops.

I also wanted to make some Spritz cookies.  They just taste like Christmas to me!  I have a press but the dough wouldn't stick to the parchment (or the cookie sheet) so I removed the die and piped out a log, wrapped it, and refrigerated it overnight, then I sliced and baked them this morning.  They aren't as pretty but they taste just right - very yummy!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Adventures in sewing machine shopping

Sorry, no pictures yet.  This is just the story of my adventures.  I admit I'm a finicky shopper.  And besides having a degree in Textiles and Clothing (so I know what I need and what I don't on the machine and why and how I want it to work), I used to sell sewing machines.  Those are a really bad combination for a salesman.

If I actually told you about how I was treated by the Bernina dealer last Wednesday, you'd understand when I say I'd sew with my nose before I dealt with that place again!  And, unfortunately, the machine is only as good as the dealer support.  I called Bernina USA (if anyone needs the phone number, just ask) and they were VERY nice but can't really do anything themselves to fix the problem.  She directed me to another dealer who, when I called to see if they could fix it, promptly told me 'Berninas are temperamental' and told me about his Brother machines.   

Before I left to shop, I spent several hours online reading reviews of all the brands so I felt I had some additional information I'd need.  Granted, I've never seen a 'C' review.  It's either an A or an F but I thought that was better than nothing.

I went to the Pfaff dealer and, while I was there, I heard the salesman talking to a man and his wife who brought an embroidery machine in and asked about getting it fixed.  His reply - "Well, perhaps you should just get a new one" and he sat them down at the most expensive machine on the floor.  I left and went to look at the Brothers after hearing that.  I want need to know I can get service if I need it.

At the Brother dealer, the machines seemed good enough but I just can't get the words 'Brother' and 'junk' out of my head.  The machines really did seem to do a nice stitch but it's an old prejudice, even if it's not correct, and I know I'd never get it out of my mind and wouldn't have been happy.  At both Pfaff and Brother, I asked to sew on the Janome that's somewhere around $2500 retail (but on Amazon it's $1499) and neither would let me near it.  Perhaps their inflated price was the issue.  And it also made me unhappy with their customer service.  So not good!  At the Brother dealer, I mentioned that the model I wanted to see had gotten really good reviews.  He promptly told me that was on the small, less expensive machines we'd use for a class.  Well, no it wasn't but he wouldn't say if he even had the machine I asked about.

Did you know Singer bought out Pfaff and Viking?  I hadn't.  And now both  are made in either Taiwan or China.  I don't remember which.  I called the dealer to verify and was told that's correct.  Apparently all the machines are made there.

Then I went to the Elna dealer.  (He didn't carry Janome so no issue with that.)  I asked which machine brand needed repairs the most and he didn't really want to say.  When I told him I'm currently using a 40-year-old Kenmore, he said some of those were really good machines.  My thought was - this is a good start!  He never trash talked another brand and if I asked a question and he didn't know the answer, he said so.  I'd much prefer that to making up something.  They never tried to steer me to a more expensive machine than what I said I want.  The only problem is the model I want isn't in stock. 

I took all my little fabric pieces with me and stitched at each dealer.  Then I compared the results side by side.  There truly wasn't a difference that I could see.  They all did a nice stitch and a good buttonhole.  It all came down to the bells and whistles I wanted and the salesmen.  The Pfaff has the built in walking foot which I liked but the stitch selector on my first choice uses a stylus on a tiny screen and wasn't something I'd want to use and I sew a lot.  I don't sew quilt tops only.  I make a lot of garments, too - some cotton, some silk, and I use upholstery fabric for other projects.  The stitch selector and the salesman made me decide against that one.  My old prejudices said no to the Brother and the machine I'd choose from their line was $1000 more than the Elna.

And I really like the Elna.  The salesman offered me a very good price and then the shop owner lowered it! 

So, the result is I don't get it for about a week but I can wait.  The Bernina's been broken for over a month.   When I get it and have it unpacked, I'll take a picture of my new baby.  I feel like a little kid waiting for Christmas!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

November 24

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!  I'm very lucky - most of my family lives close.  Even though I'm a widow (close to 16 years), I always remember today's date because it would have been my husband's birthday.  But I'm still lucky because when I think of him, I have very happy thoughts.  We were really happy together and I know I had something a lot of people only wish for.  I'm very thankful that I didn't miss it!    

I hope all of you in the USA have a wonderful Thanksgiving and that those of you outside the USA have a wonderful Thursday!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Progress on Abigail's quilt

I meant to take a picture of the entire stack of fabrics I was using but that didn't happen because I kept adding.  Every time I thought I had everything, I'd start sewing and then pull another one out of a different bin.  I finally had to put away part of the mess or I wouldn't have been able to get to the table.  These are  some of the fabrics going in the quilt.
A few of the fabrics  

I've never cut away the base fabric when I applique but this one was such a big section and I could see the background fabric too well so I gave it a try.

I hadn't trimmed the threads yet  

There are eight uneven log cabin blocks, four for the top border and four for the bottom, all different fabrics except the pink with flowers in the center.

And this is why I keep some scraps I found in the bin.  I think the piece was 5x5 (or else it was 4x4) but it's one of my favorites and this seems to be all that's left of it.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

What's wrong with this picture?

Day 20

The main thing wrong is this is where my Bernina lives.  When it's home.  It's been in the shop for almost three weeks and I really miss it.  Did it have to pick this time of year to quit?  Apparently, a board was bad.  Or more than one because one has been replaced and it's still not working so another was ordered but has not arrived yet.  This is the Kenmore that I got when my oldest daughter was an infant and luckily I've kept it cleaned and oiled.  It has a little something that goes in the bobbin case and then does a one thread chain stitch which is wonderful for basting.  Flat bed only, no free arm but I don't use that feature very often anyway.  I didn't realize, though, how often I use my knee lift because I still find my knee going for it after three weeks.  No needle up - needle down button.  No needle threader.  I feel like I'm living in the dark ages but at least I have a machine that sews.  I didn't get out my Featherweight because I needed to zigzag and this one does do a very nice stitch.  You can see the little flip light I keep behind it for extra light - I'm so glad I put that there!  

One thing I did (that maybe I shouldn't have but it worked!) is use my Bernina bobbins because they were already threaded with the right colors and I only have three for this machine that I can find.  I figured it was worth a try!  I'm not recommending it to anyone else just in case it doesn't work in yours but I'm really glad it worked for this one. 

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Family Day

I've been going to my daughter's to help with the children, cooking, and anything else she needs for several weeks now.  She's sleep deprived and since she had a C-section, she's not to lift the older children for another two weeks so her in-laws and I have been taking turns helping out.  Trying to think up activities for a toddler and a pre-schooler can be challenging!  I decided it's time my granddaughter learns to sew so I made a trip to JoAnn's and got some plastic canvas and plastic needles.  Be warned if you decide to do this that the blue plastic needles are just a smidge bigger than the holes in the plastic canvas and need a good tug to get them through.  Luckily, she has a good grip!  She said this will be a blanket for one of her dolls.

Sewing is serious work!

Her brother wanted to show me his Elmo socks but wouldn't pull his pants up enough to see the picture.

Aren't these great stripes?

And of course here's Abigail - one month today!

Baby sleeping - rarely seen!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Celebrate Hand Quilting

Click on the Hand Quilting button and have a look at the blog post celebrating hand quilting.  I've always liked hand quilting so much better than machine.  I know, I know - there is some good machine quilting done these days but I prefer hand quilting - the process, the look, and the feel.  Caron has a blog post where any of us with hand quilted pieces can put a link to our post for everyone else to enjoy, like Amy does for the online quilt festival.  So, go have a peak at what's been posted and then add a link of your own.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Salinda Rupp quilt

AKA Completely Insane and now I know why!  I was looking back over my posts and couldn't believe how long it's been since I posted about a completed quilt.  

I made this last winter and just realized I've never posted pictures.  I started it in January and completely finished it in June.  I left off the border that's in the book because I want the quilt to fit this bed and a border would have made the quilt too big.  

One of the things I learned is I'm never going to make another quilt with blocks this small and with so many pieces in them because it makes the quilting so difficult.  I hand quilt and stitching through five or more layers in the seams isn't a whole lot of fun.  I did a narrow cable in the sashing with a little flower-like thing in the blue setting squares.  The quilting in each block is different, depending on the design of the block.  (Click on the photos for a better look.)   

The blocks aren't set in any particular order so this doesn't exactly match the original but I did try to stay close to its colors.  It was obvious that Ms. Rupp used scraps so I did, too.  I kept a box on my cutting table and tossed in everything that was at least 3/4 inch wide.  Some of the pieces really do finish at 1/4 inch! 

Friday, October 21, 2011

Flower Basket quilt

First the whole quilt ---

Flower Basket, Vintage

Quilting close up ---

Flower Basket, Vintage, close up

Notice the quilting lines aren't exactly evenly spaced.  Synthia (no blog) met me at the show and pointed out this was probably so the maker wouldn't have to quilt through all the layers of seam allowance where the diamonds come together at the basket.  Clever, yes? 

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Three pictures!

 The quilting is a fan design that goes through all layers of applique.  I love the colors and the plaid that was used.

Carson's Neighborhood

I had a computer update waiting for me that I installed - maybe that was the only problem because these seem to have loaded without a problem.  See the post directly below for a slideshow of the rest of the pictures.

Aurora Colony Quilt Show

Click to play this Smilebox slideshow
Create your own slideshow - Powered by Smilebox
Another slideshow design by Smilebox

 I just finished writing a nice long post about the quilt show, but Blogger ate it.  Anyway, the show was fabulous!  My favorite quilt was Wreath with Sunflower, Antique, near the beginning of the slide show.  I loved the fabrics, the way they applique was done (I tried to get a close-up of the stitches) and the way it was quilted.

My goals for this show, besides just having a good time and enjoying it, were to get photos of all the quilts without using a flash and to get a picture of the tags on them to identify the makers.  I think I may have put a few in the slide show twice so just ignore the duplicates.  

The red and white blocks are part of a challenge which closes, I think, on Friday.  Selected blocks will be displayed Sat and I think those are the blocks to be made into next year's raffle quilt.

Mary Doak was the featured quilter this year and she does awesome work!  She had a whole cloth quilt that was spectacular but I think Carson's Neighborhood was my favorite of hers.  It was happy and cheerful and made me smile every time I looked at it.  She has a picture of her baby grandson in one window as well as something cute in each of the others.  (I'm trying to add a couple of pictures to the body of this post but Blogger doesn't want to let me.  I hope the slide show works!)

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Meet Abigail

Born Monday, October 10, 8 lbs 13.6 oz (!), 21 inches long.  Mom, baby, Dad, brother, and sister are all fine and excited for her to be here. 

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Help !!!

I'm trying to add a photo to a post and I can't get back to this page to add more text - or to do anything else.  This has never been a problem before.  Anyone know what I can do?  It's a really important picture!

Monday, October 3, 2011

How I spent my summer . . . .

I can't really call it my summer vacation because there was no vacation involved!  There are now renters in my rental house (they moved in last week - yay!) but it's still not finished.  I had the gas company out last week to turn on service since the furnace is gas and the man said no.  The furnace needs repairs.  (Of course it does.  It's been that kind of summer.)  But the repair is really expensive and the furnace in there is 50 years old so I'm just getting a new one.    I'm waiting for the contractor to call me with the date which should be tomorrow or the next day.  At least it's not freezing here and the renters said it stays nice and cozy at night.  After the wall is repaired, I think that should be it.  I honestly think that house is in better shape than the one I live in so I shouldn't be getting many calls to fix things and that's good. 

I haven't gotten any sewing at all done since I posted my last Cherry Tree blocks but, since the weather is cooler here now,  I can use my sewing room again and can't wait to start.  I'm going to pull fabrics this week for the posted blocks I haven't gotten done yet.  My oldest daughter is having her baby Oct 10 (scheduled C-section) if she doesn't go into labor before then and I want them ready to take with me when I watch her children while she's in the hospital and then the first few weeks she's home.  I may not get much done while I'm there, but why take a chance on the kids napping at the same time and me with nothing to sew?   That would be bad!!!  And I've picked the quilt pattern for new baby's quilt.  I'm just waiting to find out boy or girl before I choose fabrics.

Do any of you have this book - Quilter's Academy, Vol 3?  I also have Vols 1 and 2.  My thought was no matter how long we quilt, there should be something new to learn and I enjoyed the first two.  Honestly, I think they'd be good for beginners but I still enjoyed them.  I have a question on this one, though.  I emailed them when I got the book (when it first came out) and Harriet replied that she was busy and would give me an answer in a week or two.  I waited a month and re-emailed.  That was last April and I haven't heard back.  If any of you have this book, can you please explain the measurements on p. 95 to me?    They make no sense at all.  I'm generally very good at math and quilting math makes sense to me but not this page.  After this experience, I'm fairly certain I won't buy the rest of the series.   I really much prefer to give good reviews but can't with this book.

And I want to thank all of you who emailed me over the summer.  That was really nice, I enjoyed hearing from you, and is was something I didn't expect.  Thank you!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011


I've been MIA lately, at least from blogland.  I have a small rental house which has been empty for the last couple of weeks.  That means it's time to fix what tenants took or broke and do routine maintenance.  I had to hire a couple of trades and am working around their schedules and the weather.  Did you know painters want dry weather to paint outside?  Amazing!  There was a lot of damage and items, such as inside doors, blinds, and dry creek bridges (the short list), which are also MIA.  Why would anyone remove an inside door?  Or take a bridge?  Luckily, I had a good security deposit but it won't cover nearly everything they damaged or took.  So, while I'm waiting for the trades, I've been doing the work I can do myself.  

That hasn't left much 'me time' so I'm behind on this month's Cherry Tree block, dusting, dishes, playing with fabric, and anything else that's fun.  I'm hoping rental things are finished by the end of next week so life can get back to normal.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Beyond the Cherry Trees 19 and 20

Block 19

block 20
Here are blocks 19 and 20.  It's really hard to wait for the 10th each month for the next one.  Just five more and then the border.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Quilt Turning

 Or is it called a bed turning?  I can never remember.  I finally got most of the guest room cleaned out and thought I'd photograph my older quilts before Nearly Insane.  Since it's going to stay on the bed, I'm doing NI last and leaving it in place.

6-pointed Stars quilt
 The bed belonged, as far back as I know, to my great-great-grandmother Caroline Garrell.  I was told her son, my great-grandfather, was born in this bed in 1862.  
I know when he was born so the year is correct!  I don't know how long she'd had the bed at that time.
He was much older than my great-grandmother whom he married on March 22, 1900. I inherited the bedroom furniture when my great-grandmother died, just before my senior year of 
high school.  I really treasure it and still miss her.  Besides the 3/4 bed (between twin and double in size), I have a Martha Washington table, a wig stand, and a marble-top dresser with jewelry drawers and a mirror.  This was the furniture I used in my room until I got 
married and then my daughters used it when they were big enough.

Now the story of this quilt.  My great-grandparents had three children.  My grandmother was the first, then a year later a boy, and, many years later, another girl, also named Caroline for her grandmother.  This quilt was made for her husband by his mother.  He was born in 1909 but I don't know much else about his family or exactly when the quilt was made.  

From a slightly different angle

The pink print was used in several stars

 This red print is deteriorating in most places it was used

Three of the stars to show fabrics.  There are two background greens here.
Quilting from the back
If any of you can date the fabrics, I'd really appreciate a note.  My great-aunt and uncle were married in the 1930's but I have no idea if he already had the quilt. 

Friday, May 20, 2011

Winner, winner!

Linda Collins of Quilts in the Barn had a give away for pin cushion patterns and I won one of them!  She had four different patterns and mine is called Folky at Heart, perfect for me.  She also sent wool to make it with - how great is that!!!  It went together really easily and was a lot of fun to make.

Pattern and wool she sent

Pattern and finished pin cushion
I used yellow and green that I had but I really like what she sent.  Thank you, Linda!!!

I finished my Nearly Insane quilt last week but haven't photographed it yet.  I'm working on my guest room where it's going to live and need to finish that first.  The weather has been beautiful here lately so I'm also working on getting my garden in.  Rain is in the forecast for next week so I have to get that done while it's dry.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Meet Gwendie

Artists know the phrase, "Value does the work but color gets the credit."  Gwendie thinks the saying could be said for cats and dogs since I've shared pictures of my dog but never of her.  And she knows the quilts are hers because of my blog name.

Just having a cat nap
These are regular doll buggies.  Gwendie's just a big girl. 

I've been busy hand quilting my Nearly Insane quilt so there are no pictures to share yet.  I'm even behind on my Barbara Brackman Civil War blocks but will catch up when the quilting is finished.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Nearly Insane and Beyone the Cherry Trees - 18

I've been making blocks for my Nearly Insane quilt like I'm, well, nearly insane.  Rather than one at a time, here's what I've finished so far. I think I have 51 blocks in this stack but there may be a few more.  This seems like an obvious scrap quilt to me.  Some of the pieces finish at 1/4" and some blocks look like leftovers that were cut down to finish at 6" - an example is a Lone Star that has the star tips lopped off.

Nearly Insane blocks

I also finished block 18 of Beyond the Cherry Trees  ---

Block 18
This block has been up on the design board for over a week waiting for me to get the camera out.  Sometimes that's the slowest part of blogging.  

I've also been working on clothing for my granddaughter's 3rd birthday.  That girl loves new dresses more than toys and since I also love to make them for her, well, we're a perfect fit!  Pictures to follow . . . .

Monday, February 28, 2011

Civil War blocks

Here's a look at my version of the first nine blocks of Barbara Brackman's Civil War quilt.  The most recent is the upper left.  Let me just say that three doesn't go into nine evenly.  I ended up using 1/16th inches to get it even close.  Luckily, I have a ruler with those marks but it's only 4 1/2".  I wish Omnigrid made one maybe 10" or 12" square with 1/16th inch marks on it. 

I have several more blocks finished for my Nearly Insane quilt.  Some of them are fairly easy, others - not so much, but I knew that going in!  I don't get a chance to sew every day but, when I do, I usually can get two put together.  I try to have several blocks prepped ahead of time and that's been a big help.  There are some of the harder ones coming up so that will be slower but I don't have a deadline. 

I also started a '30's style quilt.  That makes four I'm working on at once - I never used to work on more than one at a time!  I have to say, I'm really enjoying it.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

More Nearly Insane

Here are eight of the Nearly Insane blocks I've finished in the last couple of weeks.  I've finished up to block 18 - upper left corner.  I thought it was going to be the  hardest but then I read ahead - maybe not!

There's something about this block I really like.  I think part of it is the fabric.  I don't usually use black and gray or white for blocks but I'm really happy with this combination. 

Monday, February 14, 2011

How I spend my Fridays

Smile for the camera!

You have to hold the tongue just so . . .

This glue is sticky stuff  
 Tah Dah!!!

We do an art project every week and this time we made a flower pot for her parents for Valentine's Day.  Her brother is 14 months old and was too busy playing with his blocks to pose. 

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Midnight Stars

Midnight Stars (thanks, Lori!) is finished - quilted, bound, and washed.  I don't prewash unless I'm worried about a fabric (bleeding, crocking, etc) but I always wash after a quilt is finished.  Yes, even applique.  I like the look and it gets out whatever markings I've done.  I'm not sure if you can see the binding well enough to tell what the fabric is.  I used a deep red with blue flowers.  I really looks good with the fabrics I used in the body of the quilt.

Midnight Stars finished 

with some tools

Some of the things I used on this quilt are in this picture.  I used the plastic top from a ricotta cheese container for the circle template.  It was the exact size I wanted.  I used Cebelia thread to quilt with.  I think this is a crochet thread and I've always wanted to try it.  Since this quilt isn't that big, it seemed like a good project to experiment.  I'm glad I tried it but I won't use it again.  See the pliers?  I used those with every stitch.  I can usually get the needle through with a wide rubber band but not this thread!  The bent piece of metal is a Finger Protector (?) for my under hand I purchased at Quilt Expo in Portland several years ago.  I'm lost without it.  I looked at Quilt Expo last September but couldn't find them - I was going to get a spare.  (I know I can get them online in an emergency.) 

Since this is finished, I've been going through some of my old (like 25 or 30 years old) quilt books for another project.  It's amazing how styles have changed. 

Monday, January 31, 2011

Moving along . . .

This week, I finished three Nearly Insane blocks.  First, I want to show the difference in the pictures when I use the external flash on my camera - the real colors are somewhere in between.  I think the bottom of the flash photo is closest to what my eye sees.  I didn't aim the flash directly at the squares so that's most likely how I managed to get a slight shadow on the bottom.

Block 6 using a flash

Block 6 with a lamp

Block 7

Block 8

The inner HST's finish at 1/2", the outer at 3/4".  The block really is flat - it's just hard to get it to stay that way with so much fabric in the seams, even with good pressing.  It will be fine once I sew it to the sashing.

The other project I worked on was Midnight Stars.

Here it is, marked, basted, and ready to go.  It's about finished so I'll post pictures of it later in the week.