Thursday, November 25, 2010

Sad, but true

I am no longer working on the JAF contest quilt, so my prize-winning quilt is bowing out, making way for some other lucky person to take home that top dog prize. [sigh] There's always next year, I suppose.

I know!

I heard that collective gasp, and your thoughts wondering, "Why? What could make her give up her insane quilt project just like 'that'?" [finger snap]

I have another scripty job (on the other side of the state) and it will take up more than 100% of my time through most of the remainder of the year, so sewing would be on the next to the last seat on the bus I'm afraid.

Fear not, for I will take some handwork with me to fill in those stray - however unlikely - free minutes when I may be awake.

Pssst - I do intend to finish my lovely little quilt, though, just as soon as I am finished with this production and we are in the same zip code.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Bad quilting pun

Just a sneak peek, that's all I can provide.

The cutting and the planning are still happening, but the actual construction into rows - and then the rows upon rows - will begin very soon.

Don't you know, I have my work cut out for more ways than one.


I have a three-day gig coming up, but right after it ends I am devoting many hours a day to completing this small project.

April 16, 2011 - After all of this time, I am amazed that this entry still pops up in a search when somebody Googles "quilting puns." Bet you won't do that any more, will you?

P.S. I haven't completed this small quilt, yet....but I have completed other projects. Feel free to peruse the photos.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

A few hundred down

...and just under 19,000 to go!

The math (Lesson #2...which I didn't do ahead of time):

69 pieces across x 69 top to bottom = 4,761....and then multiply THAT by 4, and you come up with a quilting idiot! :)

19,044 pieces for this quilt top.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Courthouse Steps is/are out

There is a reason instructions for constucting Courthouse Steps blocks are written the way they are, and all those quilters that conquered this territory before me either learned that lesson the hard way, OR simply followed those instructions and were pleased with their results.

I would be a member of the first category.

Not square...not happy.

I am, in fact, so frustrated with the notion of having to cut an extreme amount of extra strips to make the CHS border happen, that I am rethinking the entire border.

I will still be using the strips I have cut - waste not, want not - but in a completely different way. Most likely I will still have to cut more strips, but at least I will have a faster way of incorporating them into the border....into an insanity-free border, where I will still be smiling at the end of it all.

Lesson #174 - If the block you wish to construct comes with a construction method that seems way wasteful in it's simplicity, there is a reason you should avoid using it unless you have the time and money to see it through to the end.

Sunday, October 24, 2010


That was the word I was looking for the other day, and couldn't remember it to save my life.

Don't you hate when that happens? Cripes.

I was hunting for an appropriate thread to use on the border top stitching (to create texture and depth, and another to decorate in high contrast with), and for the construction, and it needed to look ok with the material I had chosen on a previous trip (as well as for use on a suit I want to make, with gorgeous material I already have).

Couldn't think of the word for the dark blue color. Nothing past 'navy' or 'midnight' could roll off my brain and make it out of my mouth...although I knew it was a word to describe "a color that was a thing; that stuff for know, a writing thing. And, um, pants." Ugh!

Red, orange, yellow, green, blue, INDIGO, violet. Hello-o-o-o-o!!! However, despite my mental stutter, I managed to locate the spools of thread to fill in my gaps (including that darned indigo), and I think I am set to hunker down and create the top without any headaches, hiccups or hindrances.

Beyond that, at any rate, it's been a lost few days on the project: not enough progress made on the JAF quilt, but I am making some progress.

Attended a crazy sale to get threads and hopefully make a great find on a clearance material, mostly so I wouldn't spend too much more than I already have trying to stay within the parameters of the rules a-n-d balance on the bubble of a very strict budget.

No such luck, though, so I will have to try again in a month or so, when I am ready to actually sandwich the quilt and begin the quilting.

Saturday, October 16, 2010


It took seven JAFs (and two additional small quilt shops) to finally find it, but with perseverance - and a really good friend (who saw that "the mission" was just as important as I did) - we brought it home!

You read that correctly. 7 JAFs.

Rochester Hills, Auburn Hills, Canton, East Lansing, Bloomfield Hills, and two in Ypsi/Ann Arbor. The last one, a tiny, unkempt, mess of a store in A2, tucked in the worst accessible strip mall, harbored the needed bundle.


But it's mine now. All mine, and as soon as I finish with this post I am happily heading to my glorious quilting hole to begin the material mayhem. Thank you, Jean. :)

Friday, October 15, 2010

In pursuit of:

I've tried this tactic once before...and sadly, it got me nowhere. No responses, no assistance...nothing.

Can anybody assist me in finding a source to purchase some of this material?

Please and thank you. :)

PS - would still really like to purchase some of the material featured in the post dated April 25th.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

An update on the day

Can't make myself decide which way to go - a single (slightly larger) courthouse steps, flanked by half CHS blocks on point, or a double row of CHS blocks (much smaller), flanked by halvsies on point?

Monday, October 11, 2010

I'm thinking "courthouse steps" an internal border, but I am still trying to determine the size; and that has been the worst part of starting this particular quilt, too.

Well, ok...that and locating more material. Read on, you'll get it.

The traditional pieced block I am aiming to work into the quilt is a conundrum (again, the size, not which block); trying to formulate the scale of the border has been a pain (because it will have a lot to do with everything else that follows). Do I make it a double wide or single CHS on point?

Too small and the *base material print* will be useless when cut and pieced in. Too large, and the entire scale of the applique portion will be ridiculously huge - not to mention, I won't have enough of the base material to complete even a third of the courthouse steps blocks.

Yes, *it's* another doggone fat quarter, and I can't locate any more! ARGH! I didn't really want to make anything smaller than a twin-sized quilt - in other words, no 'wall hangings' - but it looks as though I am going to have to settle for that option whether I want to or not.

Additionally, since the rules state you have to have JAF receipts for everything used in your contest submission, I can't look elsewhere for the glorious fabric (though, I did look, and I found some...that I cannot use!).

Argh, ARGH!!


Ah well, the challenge is still on, and I have "suited up." Brought my stash of material to pre-wash and begin cutting, but I did not bring my sewing machine. I figured the washing, pressing and cutting would be more than enough activity to fill my time while away from home. Once the week of gram-sitting and Karl's classes is over, I will have more than enough time to hunker down and dig in.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Is anyone else planning on entering the JAF contest?

I am, I'm entering....and I plan on winning! Oh, yes, that's right.

Win, win, win.

It's not that I am a tremendously competitive person (except against myself...and when I am driving), but I could really use the money. The way jobs have been trickling in, I could make as much on this contest (in first place) as I did with the last film gig, so why shouldn't I dream big?

Besides, my quilt idea is a good one, and I could conceivably get it done before (if not by) the deadline.

Here's the color palette, have you got a clue, yet?

Friday, September 3, 2010



Why does Joann Fabric have sales I can't, make that 'shouldn't' go to?

To celebrate Labor Day, they are having a riotous sale this weekend, and those stinky (almost) fat quarters (they have boosted the price of) are marked at ninety-nine cents.

The reds are still not pictured correctly, but they are pretty.

No, I didn't go 'stark-raving', I kept a great deal of control, thank you very much. I actually went in to pick up just enough material to bind Karl's quilt - because I have a 40% off coupon to make the purchase manageable - but that particular store didn't have the material I found at another JAF in Auburn Hills, so I guess this means I am going to HAVE to make the sacrifice tomorrow and drive to the [ugh] store to get the binding before it disappears.

Oh well.

Oh, but I did find a few more reds, blacks and whites for the B-n-R-n-W quilt I am dying to make. Shame on me [wagging finger].

I love it when I am wrong (sometimes).


Thursday, September 2, 2010

Guess I was wrong

I had thought my shopping for Black and White and Red All Over was finished, but a quick run into JAF with a friend proved me wrong. Oh darn.

However, I do love finding happy, CHEAP surprises...don't you?

The two red materials were mark downs and clearance - as you can see on the one piece still rolled - it was a remnant...and only $.38!!!! The red is not as orange as this photo shows, but more a true (bluer), clear, richer red.

The pink and brown paisley on white was another clearance find, and will be the backing for the old Pink and Brown quilt I began years ago. At $3 per yard, I couldn't pass it up, and none of it will find it's way onto my stash wall - so I felt 100% justified (and I still do!).

Let's just call it "therapy." [wink wink]

Saturday, August 28, 2010

UPDATE: More news about Karl

Quilting is still on hold, but...

Barring any unforeseen circumstances, Karl will be leaving the hospital tomorrow for home!

After spending the better portion of the day sitting and moving around a bit, speaking to Grandma - and then Brian - on the phone, he dropped off to sleep faster than a stone down a well. Besides all of that, it was good to see him eat, and excellent to see the pain abate, and hopefully now he will sleep for as much of the night as the medical staff will allow - without interruption.

So, good night for the time being, I will let you know the details tomorrow...when I am not too tired to type. Thanks, again, for all of the prayers and good thoughts. <3

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Totally unprepared for not working again

It's been two weeks since the film wrapped, and I was mentally not ready for being inactive again. I truly thought the responses I received (to all of the email I sent out) meant I would have another gig to go to before too long, but time is passing much too quickly, and it looks as though the projects coming up in late August are now crewed up. Or, they have another week of rushing to do before I am out of contention for any of those, too. So what does that mean for September?

Quilting?? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?

I have seen very few new productions posting for September, in fact, so I will hope for a little time sitting at the grandmother's (as I am right now) to make a little necessary money, and hopefully sell a quilt or two to people who "ooo" and "awww." This, of course, means I will have to get busy and finish the process on a couple. I have three completed tops (two with backs) that need stretching and basting. I already have one other top sandwiched and ready for the quilting process (in truth, I have used it for at least the last two years as my blanket when company comes over and I sleep on the sofa). Guess I should get moving, eh?

And still, in the back of my head, I have huge hopes (and intentions) of finishing a quilt for each of the boys before Christmas! [foot stomping, hypertensive affirmation] That's right, I mean it! I really do.

Although, the last couple of weeks have found me more focused on finishing the kitchen floor and getting the space ready for installation of the stove I purchased five years ago, which has been living in the garage (long story - read the other blog) all of this time. The resulting chaos in the rest of the house is driving me nuts!

Once I had the mental steam built up and had given myself over to the grueling work and all it entailed, I was going to get it done and out of the way in a hurry, but then life intervened and even the floor finishing has been (tragically) on hold for more than ten days now. All my good intentions, all of my promises to myself are now down the tubes. Worthless. What's left?

Quilting! Quilting is left.

I reasoned that once I felt the relief of having the kitchen done, and my stove in place, and I part of my domain in order, I could absolutely allow myself the guilt-free mental space to jump back into lots of time cutting and sewing and quilting.

I've recently taken time to put many more squares together on Karl's quilt, finish the final fabric selection from the stash (to complete the white squares of the quilt top), filled in the 'holes' for the backing and binding, and I even brought a top with me to Gram's to stencil, in order to stretch it and begin quilting once I have time during the drying process of the floor finishing.

See! I really am trying to be smart about it all.

But when it comes right down to it, I really just want a job. I was not meant to sit and spin my wheels.

Friday, July 9, 2010


We go through life surrounded by stuff.  Surrounded by rules and regulations; by other people; by other people's stuff; and on and on.  I think you get the picture.

Some situations where we find ourselves surrounded, we climb into willingly...or out of necessity.  Some of this stuff we bring on ourselves, and some is heaped on us unwillingly - or with full knowledge - because of the positions we get ourselves into at work, in our personal lives, friendships we create, activities, etc.

Well, lately I have felt the walls closing in.  Walls of stuff, walls of uncertainty, walls of unemployment and self doubt...and I sometimes feel the best course of action would be to simply let the walls cave in and bury me.  Take me whole and swallow me up.  Wouldn't it be lovely to just be without the worry of how to handle/care for/guard/hide/use and replenish the stuff? 

Clean it, fold it, put it away, keep track of it, loan it and (hopefully) get it back, lose it, break it, give it away, outgrow it, outsource it, love it, rue it, insure it, try and return it.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

I think all the shopping is done... least for the time being. 

Karl has settled on the material for the centers of the alternate squares in his quilt (the cream, off-white version of the full-color blocks, and the larger blank squares that fall in between them all), and the backing material found online (which he liked!) is on the way.  To save on costs, I opted to piece the blue/green print together as a wide border with another, more subtle, beige print used in the center.  The leafy blues and greens echo the clear colors of the pieced blocks in the top, and it will make the simple reverse side just a little more interesting.  And purchasing less yardage online of the preferred blue/green fabric was a big savings.

As the kid said, "Well, I don't hate it."

Sadly, I will not be able to do much quilting in the near future (at least, through the month of July) because I have a boom op job on a film throughout much of the month (yea!).  We'll begin filming on the 7th and will go through nearly the last day of the month.  With 12-hour days, six days a week, and the drive time to Detroit and back each day, I will be one tired puppy - with little time at either end of each day for frivolus activities.  There will still be laundry and cleaning and nagging at boys (Karl mostly, to get his homework assignments completed)

Apologies to my quilting friends for calling quilting a "frivolous activity," I think you know what was meant.  My "me time" will be quite limited for the next several weeks, so I will need to be frugal in all things to be able to sleep in between trips to the city.

I really do love the industry...and I still wish I had landed the scripty role on this project, even given the fact there would have been a lot more work and time lost to it (even after getting home at the end of each day).  The experience and credit would have been worth it all, but I am happy to have the boom op gig.  Very happy.

Oh, and my "Black, White & Red All Over" quilt supply is established (I spent some lost hours re-sorting, cleaning & putting away materials from other projects, and found a good number of bits to use here & there), and I have decided what pattern to shoot for.  Stay tuned for the reveal.  Until next we meet, have fun needling something (or someone)!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Karl's quilt: Update

After a bit of construction this morning, I decided to do the math one more time...just so I was good in my head that the path I was sewing down was true (and all of that horse-feather sort of jive).

It turns out I was planning on making an incredibly l-o-n-g quilt, and even though K's bed is an extra long full, the set of rows I had originally planned on was going to be overkill.  So, after scaling it back two rows (in length only), I am happier than I have been in days!  That's right, it means I can do away with 7 of the pieced color blocks, meaning I am only short by nine center squares using the beautiful brown chameleon print.  When I fill in with the lovely substitute brown batik, it won't be as noticeable (hopefully).

Plus, less piecing means I can get to the fun part (ugh) of FHMQ that much sooner.  LOL  I still need to find a decent cream material with a faint print to use on those alternate full blocks, but that should not be too tough.  I have searched through my stash and figured out I will piece very faint white on whites or creams to make the shadow blocks (where the band of color blocks won't be), and use the cream (but NOT muslin) to fill in those pesky large single squares in between all of the others.  And I even hatched a way to use the adorable bug print that has been burning a hole in my imagination for months!

The size of the overall quilt is roughly figured at 73" x 89"...plenty big enough for the boy's bed.  And when he has a son (or daughter) of his own one day, Grandma (me/I) won't have to make them one.  [snicker]

But, I probably will.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

A smidgeon of progress

Karl agreed that there should be something else in the quilt mix (color-wise) to make the project pop.  We looked at the squares that had been completed and just didn't feel like there was enough variety in the palette the way it was.

So, we held the chameleons-on-brown up to the brick colored materials in my stash (since that was only one of two colors not included that do appear in the design sample), and we found it just didn't make the "a-ha" needle move on the A-ha-o-graph Spectrometer.  Neither did the lightest blue color that you can pick out very easily in some of the lizards. 

BUT...we did seem to agree that a really vibrant red made us both sit up and take notice when paired with the base material.  See if you agree. 

The decision has been made: red will be added to the quilt, but only in a very minor way.  Three, maybe four pieced blocks will be created using red as the border and added to the top configuration.  Any more than that and it would just be another color - but as a visual spark here and there - a fleeting element...well, then you have a conversation piece for your eyes and your brain.

Geez! now that means I have to cut more 2" squares!  Yikes!! [smacking forehead with palm]

Monday, June 21, 2010

Do the math

Lesson #2 - Do the Math

Always do the math...I don't know what I was thinking. 

I knew there were to be a huge number of 2" squares for the borders of the pieced blocks, but I never did that math.  Neither did I figure how much yardage to plan on for the centers of those pieced squares.

Then there's the yardage of something to place in between the pieced blocks (something cream in nature I think, but not muslin).  I wasn't too concerned with that selection (I'm still not). I thought I would tackle it when I was ready to begin piecing the rows, but it is never too early to actually have your materials in the same area code, you know?

I didn't do the math.  Twit!  I was so happy to have found a vendor from whom to buy more of that cute chameleon print, but I never took 20 seconds to figure out that if I only cut nine center pieces from the first fat quarter I had (and I needed just under 60 pieces to finish the top), much would I need overall to complete each of the pieced blocks?

As it turns out, I need 1.5 yards to make the top completely of the woggly-eyed chameleons, or else I would have to substitute something in its place to complete the top as planned (or, as close to the plan as possible).  Disappointing.  Fortunately I have some beautiful batik to swap in for the rest of the piecing - but I am going to miss those lil lizards.

Do the math!

59 pieced blocks (each of those made up of 16 - 2" squares and one 5"+ square)

 59 x 16 = 944 smallest piece
                 59 medium squares
                 58 large plain squares (alternate blocks)
             1061 Total (not including any borders, backing, binding, etc)

Do the math.

I still have some cutting to do (of the colored prints as well), to get to the point where I can finish the pieced blocks.  Holy crap! do I ever have some cutting to do.  The blocks are going together fairly quickly, so it is only a matter of time before it starts to look like something, but here are some samples of the pieced blocks.  Tell me what you think.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

It arrived!!

I am holding, in my hot little hands (it is warm in these here parts), the material I ordered to finish Karl's quilt! Yea and huzzah!!

The brown fabric with the charming, woggly-eyed chameleons (or some such) is here. After paying Hell and wreaking havoc on my time, I managed to hunt down an on-line vendor who actually had the material still in stock. The chances were slim, but I am a persistant f***** (sorry if that offends.)

Anyhow, the material is here, and it's a good thing, too, since I had already cut out WAY too many 2 and 1/8" squares with which to construct the main square for the overall design. [I believe there is a straight jacket and private padded room for me somewhere.] Now, I simply need to locate an appropriate alternate full square material to use between the pieced blocks...maybe tomorrow I will post a photo of what it is I am after, and see if anyone can help me locate enough of it to assemble the quilt top. It doesn't HAVE to be this specific material...just something that looks amazingly like it.

Tomorrow is going to be a rather constructive day - one way or another.

;^) Thanks.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Probably should stick to the orig'l game plan

I couldn't help myself - I cut out the materials for Karl's quilt today.  Between applying for jobs (and getting one positive response), odd little cleaning fits, making phone calls about the car, performing a little gardening and trying to stay cool, I pre-shrank the materials (that still required it), ironed the creases and wrinkles to a beautiful state of non-existance, grabbed a rotary cutter and made like a mad woman for the better part of the afternoon.  What you see pictured here are the results.

I now need to commit myself to a pattern of arranging and assembling the smaller blocks around the center squares (random or by color family) before I actually begin to stitch. 

It is looking like "by color family" might be the winner in this particular tug of war, by the way, since laying them out randomly was looking pretty scary. 

What do you think?  In my head, this was a great color scheme, predicated by Karl's desire for jewel tones, but I am beginning to rethink it.

Oh, yeah, the "original game plan" was to NOT begin anything new until I had finished one or two items from the old pile first.


Friday, June 11, 2010

Long time, no quilt

As luck would have it, I managed to get busy with class, then 'stuff' (from the last week-and-a-half of May thru early June)...and then I cut a finger to the point where holding/using a pencil was impossible for marking up a quilt (let alone stretching and pin-basting).  So, needless to say (funny how we use that expression, when we are really pointing out an obvious and needful point, that most people would miss if we didn't say it to get their attention pointed to the obvious), I was not able to do anything quiltwise for the last few weeks!


I finished the border on the Snail Trail and finished construction of the backing, but without the ability to get anything new cut out, or to be able to mark up the orange and brown Snail Trail until I can grip a pencil or a rotary cutter, I decided to concentrate on another completely different type of project.

Well, no......I guess it isn't so much "completely different" since it is a quilting thing, but give me a chance!

A dear friend, Jean (thank you, Jean), printed a drawing I had done (quite a while ago) in a rather large scale (at my request), that I managed to get taped together fairly well.  I will use the large paper drawing as the template, tracing the design onto the base fabric and making the pattern pieces from it, too.  I may have mistakenly figured that, being larger, it would be easier to learn the technique and manipulate the corners, etc (with the needle et. al.), than if it was smaller (thinking that would be harder to work with).

Applique is something I have been daydreaming about trying my hand at for quite some time, but figured I would leave it to the experts and just keep on with my own two quilting specialties: block quilting and crazy quilting.  Why add anything else to the mix?  Those two (and the gardening) are enough activities to keep me busy when time allows.  Applique is a technique I thought would be too much to master and would just leave me frustrated (and with something more left unfinished in a corner somewhere).  Like being married.

Anyhow, the finger is looking pretty good, and I am taking the splint off to try and start marking up that orange and brown item today.  Walking by the table in the sewing corner and doing nothing with a needle and thread is driving me crazy!  I've spent a lot of time just staring at my wall of material, and it is really making me blue.  Although, I did manage to narrow down the quilt design choices for Karl's quilt to 2 (maybe 3) contenders, so the material scope (pictured at the top of the entry) can now be incorporated almost entirely!  Wahoo!  And, during this down time I also *think* I came up with a design choice for my next Black and White and Red All Over quilt.  Yup, I see another in the series on the horizon. 

What are you up to?

Thursday, May 27, 2010


Hello, Amy.

I finished this wall quilt not long ago, and while the photo doesn't do it justice, I am quite proud to have it done. Working on it once again made me think back over the last decade and recount my accomplishments and setbacks (but mostly the positive stuff), and it has helped me to see how far my sons and I have come in the time that has passed since beginning this particular quilt.

"Reading Rainbow" - Log Cabin, Chevron: 34.5" x 52"

When I began this little color study I was happily building/running a  children's bookshop in a very rural area of mid-Michigan, but my marriage was falling apart. Creating quilts kept me sane and able to focus on more positive feelings for the sake of my sons, and while I quilted I found I could let my mind wander over more pleasant thoughts. Some quilts would hang in the bookshop (for decor mostly), with each season or holiday represented by a new quilt. Some would even find a new home and bring in needed $.

Eventually (sadly), I had to close the shop & find full time employment (during the divorce) to satisfy home bills, and this particular little quilt found itself packed snugly away for 10 years! I was overjoyed to discover it was still safe & sound after all this time (in a storage box in the garage), so it came inside to be finished (with so many other quilt tops).

I still can recall the trip through the fabric store with my sons to pick out the proper backing material (they chose this hysterical dinosaur motif by Alexander Henry, of course).  My freehand machine quilting has come a long way, too, and I find the process much easier than when I began to machine top stitch all those years ago.

My entry decision was a toss-up between this colorful primary Log Cabin piece and an Ocean Waves-version baby quilt I made for a cousin, his wife, and their first child (April 28th blog entry).

Thanks for looking in and have a great day!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

I am committed

No, I haven't been committed, that's a whole other topic of conversation I will not go into here. ;^)

I meant, I decided what project was going to be next under the needle. Despite the fact that I pulled another older, deserving quilt top from 'the pile,' let it air out and begin the un-creasing process, I have it in my head to finish the orange and brown color study (Snail's Trail) I began not all that long ago. I need to finish it.

The materials are washed and still hanging as wrinkle-free as they can be, right next to me in the sewing area (mocking me), and it is taking up too much room. It never fails, no matter what else I do, I am always moving the material aside to get at something else. If I just cut the strips needed for the border plans (top and backing), get the back assembled and simply make myself get on to the next step, I could have a quilt done and out of the way! What a concept! I know, right?

It came to me this morning, and I got to work in earnest. It felt good to know that project was getting closer to the finish line. Wish me luck, and stop by again when you can - hopefully there will be something to show off before too long.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Lists and chores and what-ifs

While I sat applying the last few stitches to the pocket of the Log Cabin, I began to focus on what would be next.  Where to turn my attentions; what project (in the garage, the floor of the lower level, the bathroom caulking and sanding and painting, my new video demo, another quilt....) would be next?

Let's face it, most women are more than capable of multitasking (we have to be) - I definitely had that skill mastered in my last career, but I would much rather concentrate on one thing and get it done quickly and thoroughly, rather than spread myself thin and wish I were doing something else.  Does anyone else have this affliction?

Yesterday, I allowed myself the luxury of straightening out my sewing space, rearranging the props and do-dads, refolding and sorting the color palette.  You know, having fun! 

Of course, you can never simply sort your stash without daydreaming and matching up colors for the next quilt, and that incredibly rainy day allowed for a lot of 'what-iffing'.  So with all of these allowances, here's what I came up with:

I really love the idea of a black, white and red quilt - and would love to make a Burgoyne Surrounded (hmmm...maybe I can mix the two?).  With all of these lovely "shirtings" on hand, I should be able to come up with something...right?

But then, I do want to get a start on a quilt for each of the boys.  My well-intentioned self thought certainly I could make one for each of their birthdays, but I have since reconsidered and will take those projects on long term [audible gasp], in order to have one for each completed and under the Christmas tree this year. 

Karl was less than no help when I queried him on colors he likes - but this was a start.  LOL  He likes clear jewel colors...but nothing busy.  Oh my! 

His is going to take work.

Initially, I wanted to use the cute lizard print - perhaps even employ it as the focal point and build from there.  It would have worked, too, but he poo-poo'd a lot of the other colors I had set out with it.  Usually, I start big and weed things out as I cut, but Karl has really made fast work of that task.  So, back to square one. 

Besides, that cute little print is a scant fat quarter, purchased in a FQ pack, and there is no way to get any more.  Its probably a Kaufman or a Hoffman, or an Alexander Henry, but the person cutting the extra small FQ also cut off the identifying bar and the color circles, and all of my searching has yielded nothing!

However, before I get started on the fun stuff, I must go out and perform some needful chore from the list, first.  Drats!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

At long last, it is done!

Reading Rainbow - Log Cabin: 34.5 x 52"

I finished quilting this wall hanging several days ago, but decided to apply a sleeve after the fact, since that's the only good way for it to hang, really...on a a "wallhanging." It has had a long ride from inception to completion; from Hadley to Clarkston; from here to there.

The boys and I have also come a long way during that same time. They have grown so much - in fact, they completed their own journeys from boyhood into men, and I learned a lot about myself and the world around me while that quilt lay waiting for attention. I learned to stop letting things wait, and to stop waiting for what it is I want. We all still have a long way to go, but the journeys seem less daunting.

There are still a lot of quilting projects to complete before beginning something new, and as much as I daydream about what is to come and what I want to start next, I know there are things I must finish first. Some of those projects are meant to clean out the corners and widen my path and field of vision, some to make room, others just to finish for the sake of not letting it hang in limbo any more. If I want to use it, I am going to have to finish it!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Her usual perch

When I am at the desk in the library - either editing or searching for work - Cleo is usually on my lap and purring.  Demanding more than her share of attention; requiring two hands in full petting motion - so I typically end her sessions after 10 minutes or so just so I can get back to work. 

She hounds me for more loving. 

She sits and begs, and talks and pruts and chirps, until I break down and allow her back up in my lap.  Sometimes, if I sit pushed away even a little from the desk, she will simply jump back up when I am in the throes of typing and not paying attention.

When I am quilting, if she is not already sleeping on the bed (cat nap #1 or #2), she descends the stairs to begin her begging conversation there - perched just above the table holding the machine and quilt - trying to figure out the jump coordinates and landing zone. 

Here she is, nestled on a quilt in progress, in just the wrong spot for me to be able to manuever the quilt under the needle

She hasn't yet reached out to touch the needle out of curiosity, and for that I am extremely grateful.  Usually she watches the action for a short while, then drifts off to that gentle sleep cats are famous for.  She dozes until I have to move her and the quilt so that I can continue on to another area.  She is not a needy cat, simply a companion cat.  She wants the company.  She has to have the companionship and proximity. 

I don't know where people get that whole "cats are aloof" thing...our cats all crave company, and seek it out - and I am glad.  They are a big chunk of our lives and will be sorely missed when each short life span comes due. 

At least there will always be the ghost of cat fur somewhere on a quilt to keep me company.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Can you say "May"?

Already we cruise into May, and I have the top down and a smile on my face. Yesterday was a little too warm for me, but it was a good day nonetheless. Helped to move a friend's daughter's stuff from her apartment in Ann Arbor (while she leaves town for the summer); had a very late breakfast at a neat little diner (Angelo's) in the heart of the worst parking area of A2. The bread used for toast was just like my Aunt Pearl' I want to bake!

As we departed A2 and her twins, we discussed other things we could do besides just head back to Clarkston. It was early in the day yet, and we were feeling energetic and footloose.

Recently, I snagged a copy of an advertising newspaper for quilters and "craftys" which shows a statewide calendar of events and all of the quilt shops (who care to advertise) from tip to thumb; pinky to UP, and all points in between. I surveyed the publication for any (strictly) quilt shops with more than 2,000 bolts of material, and that were not craft-oriented in any way. Put together two lists of these shops and designated them as "Maria" and "Jean." Mind you, none of us has any extra capital so spend right now, so quilt shop hopping would be a horrible waste of time - but do we care about that?

Hahahaaaaaa...I laugh at your naiveté.

Which brings us to lesson #74: Never bypass a quilt shop unless you know it to not be worthwhile.

Oddly, as Jean was navigating her burly, college-crap-loaded Suburban down the expressway, she mentioned she has seen a sign (several times) for a quilt shop in Davison and thought maybe it would be fun to explore it as we were already out and about, and we're not too far from it if we stuck to I-69 and took the 'back way' returning to my house. Well, who am I to turn down a chance to scurry through a small, unexplored, heretofore unknown shop; how can you justify not examining the contents before dismissing it off-hand?

I couldn't. Besides, it was one of the shops on my new mission list! It was kismit I tell ya! She was reading my mind - thank goodness. And what a gem of a find it was!

If you ever find yourself wheeling around in the Davison area, head north of M-15 until you find "Linda's Quilt Shop," you won't be sorry. It is EXACTLY as a quilt shop should be!

I had the added pleasure of being recognized by the owner...and it had been over 12 years since we had seen each other last.

There was once a shop in Davison's old downtown that was loaded for bear with calicos and solids, flannels and new geometric prints. That was some fabric mecca for a small town girl, and it was forever crawling with new quilters, curious tag-a-long friends, long-time customers, and the instructors who taught classes there. The women who worked there grew to know me over time - as they did with all of their regulars - and somedays I would go simply to have fun looking and dreaming about new quilts to assemble, or to pick up just a smidge of something to finish a current quilt. The conversations were a riot, and I always left feeling as though I had just had a great conversation with a sister or favorite cousin and not a clerk who simply wanted to make a sale.

Well, here we are at the check out counter, and Linda said "You remind me of someone. Did you use to raise turkeys?"

You could have knocked me over with a quarter yard of calico! How did she remember that!?! Not only that, but she recalled that we lived in Hadley! Of all the women that she had met and gotten to know, she remembered my sons and me because of that - and because of the chat we were having over the material.


As we stood talking, she told me how the other women thought Brian and Karl were so well-behaved when they would be at the shop with me. I love my boys. She also said that after I would leave the shop, some of the women would laugh til they cried over some of the stories I would tell of the boys and the turkeys, and of my idiot husband at the time.

Hmmm.... :^) It's all good, I guess, if you can make a lasting impression - especially if it's a good one! LOL

Well, with two happy finds like that, you can bet your boots I will be returning to Linda's lovely quilt shop!

From there, Jean and I went to the Ortonville Quilt Show (yes, that was on the mission list, too), and as luck would have it, we were there on the first day of the two day show. We were both very impressed by the lovely pieces exhibited throughout the church. There were quilts of all ages and sizes either draped over pews or hanging along the walls. A woman played tunes on a piano up in the front of the church while women and men went around the exhibit, closely examining (and appreciating) the workmanship and overall beauty of the quilts on display.

I have a whole new set of quilting ideas and goals after having a look at so many beautiful quilts. I most appreciated the oldest pieces and their simple, rustic handwork, as so few woman finish their own quilts any more. Quite a few of them opted to have their quilts quilted via someone with a long-arm machine - a pity. While the quilting was precise, and definitely tell tale of having been stitched by machine, it lacked the imperfections of hand/machine work - that is to say, when someone uses their regular flatbed sewing machines to stitch the quilts by guiding the quilt under the needle freehand. Less than perfect results can happen, but I think the advent of the long-arm has taken away the last bit of creativity one can apply to the quilt in order to call it "hand made."

I can still remember when woman poo-poo'd others who would use the free hand method to topstitch the quilt, and refuse to consider the quilt hand made because of it - and that was a scant ten years ago! My, how the mighty have fallen.

Personally, I reserve my hand work (stitching-wise) for binding the quilt and for crazy quilting, or on standard miniatures alone. My crazier pursuits are not undertaken with a needle and thread. Besides, I know my strengths and weaknesses; straight stitching (through layers) is not a strength of mine. Crazy quilting does not employ "straight" anything, and binding is an art which requires deftness to hide the stitches while accomplishing a strong and stable turning of the material from from to back. So, I apply the use of my skills where they are best appreciated!

Anyhow, from there we went back to Clarkston, where we watched a couple of movies we have been wanting to see; and talked about next steps; and what's next for classes and school; and work prospects and kid stuff in general - hers and mine. She's got an exciting week coming up with one of her daughters graduating from medical school! Another will be home from college for the summer, a third is heading to New York for a couple of months to re-energize, touch base with friends, dance with her NY troupe and have fun before architectural classes resume in the fall for her at...well, that supposed school in A2. Her son is providing her babysitting duties with her first grand baby, and she still has her own classes to tend to.

Me, on the other hand, I need a new life! More on that later - we have a whole new month, and I am certain to have news to share soon enough.

PS: Mucho thanks to Aunt Judy for the birthday email. You have always been my cheerleader - which, I suspect, you have been for all of your nieces and nephews. But I greatly appreciated the kind words. Yours was the only familial contact (except for my missed call from mom) on my birthday, and I was feeling pretty low. [hugs]

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Hey, I get to add this quilt to the "finished" category!

Happy Birthday to me - I can add this quilt to the 'finished column.'

Ocean Waves: Baby Boy Schaffer (Scrap) - 33.5" x 47"


I rinsed the lovely little thing today to eliminate the marker lines, but the residual quilting pencil marks will have to eventually wear off with use over time - no big deal. I am looking forward to delivering it to the new owner some day....soon.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Decisions, decisions

Well, my mind is made up.  I have decided to pick up loose threads and finish this Log Cabin wall hanging called Reading Rainbow. 
Some years ago I became very turned on by primary colors in quilting, and spent a lot of time accumulating, and using, primary colors in everything I did (and didn't do).

Truth be told, I still catch myself assembling quilts with clear, sharp colors and high contrasts.  But, since this falls within the scope of my self challenge for 2010, I am going to enjoy having one more completed quilt checked off the list...or is it added to the plus side?

Any way you look at it, I am glad to have dug this one out - it will be fun to look at.

See you again, soon.  Have a great day!

Sunday, April 25, 2010


I am desperately hoping somebody out there can point me in the direction of this lovely material.

Either I am able to locate and buy more of it (there really is no "either/or" - I want more of this material...period!), or I something REALLY similar to it can be found to use on the same project.  The closest material I have seen is something called "Kiki" by Robert Allen.  Sadly, it seems it is only a designer material for upholstery uses, and not 100% cotton that would work for quilting.  :>(

I hold out hope that one of you out there has seen this material.  I bought my sample in a fat quarter bundle at a JoAnn Fabric store, and of course, it was the ONLY such bundle....and of COURSE, they do not carry bolts in the store of the materials in their bundles...and of COURSE they cut the identifying color guide and manufacturer's/designer's name from the selvedge - so I am sunk (for the time being).

Can anybody help me? 

Thank you!!

What's next?

My quilting stash - tucked into my sewing corner, under the stairs.

I admit to being scattered (some days more than others). Currently, I am having a hard time committing to my next project, although I have committed myself to finishing something already begun and not starting something new.

There are no new babies on the way, so I think I can safely stick to that commitment. [smacking self on forehead]

I have far more projects in the throes of quilting stages, and many tops that have yet to be stretched - but it is probably safer for them to be awaiting the rack and pins than to have already been pinned and folded. I have two large quilts (double or queen-size) in this predicament (the already-pinned-and-going-nowhere-fast type), and I am not doing them any good this way. Still, my mind races with ideas, and my storage shelves bulge with future projects already stacked and taunting me.

This is one project I have been itching to get started on for quite a while, now. I am calling it "From Sea to Shining Sea," as it is based on the song (in its color selection) and a picture I have drawn to create/quilt. It would be my first applique quilt, and while I am not crazy enough to make it large and unmanageable, I do want it large enough so that the overall picture/design makes sense. Too small and I fear the message would be lost, but too large, and I definitely would lose momentum over time. As I said, it would be my first applique style quilt, so I want it to be fun, but I want it to be do-able and look like something when it is finished (preferably so that people would be able to see my intent - my message - when they look at it) without having to struggle to interpret the way it was delivered.

I would also like to begin and finish quilts for each of my sons, and perhaps one for each of my brothers... and something for my friends (maybe those will have to be Christmas stockings just to keep it realistic).

I did finish a lap quilt for my mom earlier this year (although, to be honest, it was one of those things that I had begun a l-o-n-g time ago and just never finished until I challenged myself this year), so I was feeling pretty good about sticking to my goal for the year.

We'll cover the dearth of other quilt tops 'assembled and waiting' another time, for now let me leave you with just two more shots.

These are two quilt tops under construction.

This orange and brown Snail's Trail was something I began at the tail end of 2009, after coming home from the Grayling production. I found a few of the orange prints that were used at a quilt shop I had always heard great reviews of (but found their material selection had been greatly exaggerated). I still have one more border to sew on to the top, then I can get busy stretching and quilting. It was simply a neat color study for me.

The pink and brown group of squares is still not officially a quilt top yet, since I haven't even finished assembling the blocks. I believe I am four squares shy of a load - LOL - but I wanted to make a scrappy quilt way back when; this project began as my marriage was ending, and the boys and I were looking for a new home of our own. The comfort of the pinks and browns together helped ease me into what was a bleak spring - but with the promise of a new beginning.

That was ten years ago, so I believe it would be a fitting anniversary for us all if I applied some of my energy toward completing this Ohio Star beauty in 2010.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Photos of the baby quilt progress

Here are the additional photos of the Ocean Waves baby quilt progression.

The safety pins are my method of basting the backing/batting/top 'sandwich' together for the quilting process.
I went from stretching and pinning the quilt on Wednesday morning, to stenciling and quilting the majority of it over Wednesday evening and on through Saturday afternoon.

As an area is stitched, the basting pins are removed, and voila!

Cut and applied the binding Saturday afternoon, then began to slipstitch it to the back the remainder of the evening and through Sunday morning while the laundry did it's thing in the dryer.

I still have the four corners to fill (to the inside of the quilted border) with some sort of pattern to keep the batting stable (they are large triangles - about 10" on the longest side, and 8" along the right angle sides), and then two smaller triangular shapes to fill (along the center of the two longest sides).

After returning home yesterday afternoon, I easily pieced two separate stencils together to come up with exactly what was called for in the largest areas. The two smaller spaces will be taken care of shortly. I will be able to accomplish the remaining quilting tonight, after a busy day of catch up.

Introductions aside...reality sucks!

I am happy to report that progress on the "Baby Boy - Ocean Waves" has been pretty quick.

I worked my cha-chas off these last five days to stretch and pin, mark, quilt, bind and finish it (as much as I could). I still have a small bit of quilting to accomplish, but it will be done this evening. Stuff got in the way.

Not unlike anybody else, I can get sidetracked...weigh-layed and simply hung up on a project by some sinister problem. You can get halted by 'situations' that crop up; a temporary gig or familial obligation steps in the way, and poof! Work stoppage. I find myself away from my stash and tools and habitat, and without my things to turn to (if I don't pack it), I am sunk.

In all honesty, sometimes I lose interest and/or momentum somewhere around the completion of the top and next steps. I let my fabric wall whisper too loudly about a new color combo that would be really cool in the same pattern, and I step away to explore the color choices, [smacking forehead] then I am left with finished quilt tops, but no actual quilt!

I have at least two full-sized basted quilts (and one wall hanging) who have suffered the lost-momentum fate, and while I use one of them on a fairly regular basis, I am nowhere near ready to put it on the table and quilt it...finish it. I don't know why.

I should, I know I must. Perhaps, with my personal challenge in hand, this summer that lovely quilt will meet the sewing machine for it's final phases!!!

Oh! I feel so empowered! Prop me up, you quilters out there in the 'verse.

And still, there is a lovely pile of tops I have completed and who are ready to be mated with batting and a back...but in what order will I complete these? Aaargh!!

The saddest part is that it all means I should really stop starting new projects and only concentrate on finishing what I've already got started. [sgnort!] Yeah, right, that's gonna happen.
Waaaahhh! [sob] I am gasping at the reality.

Reality sucks. So, let's quilt!

Monday, April 12, 2010


I hadn't intended to create another blog page, but here it is.

Lesson 1: Never drink (even weak) white russians while you are blogging.

I've been blogging for right around two and one half years now, but for other purposes beyond (or including more than to) purely write or photograph or share quilting ideas/stories/ideas/etc.

And, I have noticed/found many other quilters who blog, and have been sent several good links to other bloggers out there in the 'verse.

"Hello" to one and all.

I am not exactly certain of the purpose for the creation of this new blog (and the white russian isn't talking at present, so I can only guess that), perhaps my slightly innibriated psychie reasoned it's existance was to purely get you to the quilting portion of my blog entries faster (for those purely interested in the quilting aspect, and not the rest of my entries).


Not long ago I decided I would create one new quilt each month.

No, let me amend that statement. I didn't simply task myself with the monumental chore, but...rather... I "challenged" myself.

Dared myself to be creative and commit my time lock, stock and barrel to planning, cutting, sewing, patching, assembling, ironing, toiling and agonizing over, basting, stenciling, quilting, questioning...and ultimately regretting (several times over) the inception, creation and completion of one new project twelve times over for 2010.

Once I took a step back and reasoned through my folly, and the unreasonable nature of the desire/task, I scaled it back slightly to allow for finishing several objects already underway (in leau of beginning a number of those twelve new projects) in order to sufficiently fulfill my personal obligation.

Oh, my Lord, I am an idiot of some proportion!

[heavy sigh]

At any rate, it's April already (nearly mid-way through the month), and I have been at work on a baby quilt for one of my many cousins - it is for their first son, so the quilt was given the dubious title of "Baby Boy Schaffer." It is an Ocean Waves pattern where the elongated hexes are set into color two-tone patterns, none of which repeats. To finish it off I've decided to use a good number of the remaining triangles in the border by assembling half-size pinwheels (it also makes me feel a little better about having stepped into my stash and cut from so many pieces), and alternating those blocks with muslin tone-on-tone blocks. Originally, the pinwheels were to completely surround the quilt and a subsequent smaller border, but sanity stepped in and helped me realize the enormity of that task, and from there I was able to rethink the use of nothing but pinwheels.


I reduced the number of pinwheel blocks from 80+ to a more reasonable number, and get the border completed much faster.

Now I can turn my laborious over-analyzing (perfectionist tendencies) to the task of choosing and using the right stencils for the quilting process. LOL

To date, I am finishing the construction of the quilt back, which incorporates autograph squares from family members. I hope to stretch/baste it tomorrow, and have it with me at Gram's to quilt and (hopefully) finish while I am there.

Welcome to my quilt world!