Saturday, November 15, 2008

Braided Millenium Curtains

As promised last post here is a picture of the curtains for my office/sewing room. Well, actually, here is a picture of a tiny little part of what I hope will be curtains for my office/sewing room. I'm doing a braided strip interspersed with a plain dark blue strip. The fabrics in the braided strip are ones that my son and his wife brought back for me from Israel. I love them! They are very brocade-y and shiny, with lots of gold threads. And as an added bonus, I am also including strips of a fabric I bought in 1999.

How do I know I bought said fabric in 1999? Because this fabric says "2000" all over it, and I bought it planning to make a quilt for the New Millenium with 2,000 pieces, utilizing this blue 2000 fabric as the border. Remember all the fun that was Y2K? At the time it seemed like a fabulous idea and certainly one I would do. What was I thinking? I never even attempted it, and as it got further and further away from the year 2000 I wondered how I would ever use up this fabric.

When I started to gather fabrics for my curtains, I knew there wouldn't be enough of the Israel fabric to make them, so I dug out all my large blue pieces (which was easy to do since my organization blitz this past summer) and auditioned them with the brocades. Really the one that looked the best was the 2000 fabric, but did I want curtains with 2000 written all over them? I was not sure. Denise came over, looked at them, said you couldn't really tell it was 2000 unless you got up close. I decided to go for it.

So far I like how they are turning out. What I like most is the things the fabrics remind me of -- my son, my daughter-in-law, Israel, starting to quilt in 1999. Oh, didn't I mention that before? Yes, this quilt with the 2,000 pieces was going to be only my second official quilt. Again, what was I thinking?

Here's the braid so far. I'm sewing it with my serger since the brocades are very ravelly, if that's a word. It's going swimmingly. I type a little, sew a little, type a little, sew a little. I hope to have them finished sometime next week. I'll take another picture of them hanging when I do. Happy Y2K8!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

15 Seconds of Quilting Fame

Today my sister, Lori, called, wanting to know if I had listened to the latest Within a Quarter Inch podcast. I said I had seen there was one but hadn't listened to it yet. She said, Well, you should listen to it. You'll be surprised. And then she said, Oh, I can't stand it. I have to tell you. Allison Rosen mentioned your blog on her podcast!

To say there was much rejoicing would be an understatement. I was absolutely floored. Who even knew that Allison Rosen was aware I had a blog, let alone had actually read it? This, my friends, is my 15 seconds of quilting fame and probably all I am likely to get, and, frankly, it's enough. I quilt because I love to create with fabric. I like the process as much or more than the end result. I would love to sell my patterns one day (oh, how slowly that dream is progressing), but even if I never sold one thing or won one ribbon or had any other recognition in any way by the quilting world, I am a contented quilter.

Today I cut some strips for the curtains I am making for my office. I'm going to do a braided design. I'll put pictures up soon I hope. The McKenna Ryan quilt is slowly but surely being finished. It's about 2/3 done now. The practice piece on the quilter is, well, non-existent for now, but I'm taking Allison's advice and embracing multi-quilting.

By the way, thanks so much for the kind comment on my blog and for mentioning Patchplay with Me on your podcast and for just being you, Allison. I love your podcast more than any other quilting podcast there is. It's so personal and warm and down-to-earth and just absolutely charming!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Machine Quilting is Hard!

As promised I have been working on my McKenna Ryan quilt, machine quilting it on my sewing machine, not my quilting machine. I foolishly thought that would be easier since the quilt is quite small, but it's not easy at all. Moving fabric under a stationary needle is much, much, much harder than moving a needle over a stationary quilt. What was I thinking?

I'm about halfway done, so I will perservere, but next time I quilt, no matter the size of the quilt, I will use my Voyager 17. I'm still trying to figure out why I didn't use it for this quilt. Some of it has to do with the fact that the quilting machine is downstairs, so it's not quite as convenient. When I use the sewing machine, it's right in the same room as my office, so it's a quick commute from typing to sewing or quilting. When I don't have much time, just five-minute snatches here and there, it seems easier to just quilt upstairs on the sewing machine. It might be easier as far as proximity, but easier as far as technique it is not.

I think the second reason I decided to use my sewing machine was because I wanted to quilt the quilt with monofilament thread, which I have never used on the quilter, and I was concerned about the amount of time it would take to tweak the tension. So I didn't even try. I should have tried. Maybe it would have been easy. I'm such a chicken.

The third reason I used the sewing machine was that I convinced myself it would be easier to outline the applique on the quilt with the sewing machine. So very untrue! As I said above, it's very difficult for me to come out with even, straight stitches when moving the fabric instead of the needle. I think if I turned the speed down on the Voyager 17 I could go around the edge of those appliques just fine.

All of this has made me realize that the real reason I don't use the quilter is that I am afraid of it because I'm not good at it. I want to be good, but I'm not willing to pay the price to be good, or at least I haven't been in the past. I know I've made promises before to practice, but honestly I have to do it or the quilter will become simply a really expensive decoration in the downstairs bedroom.

I have looked online at those panels you can buy to practice quilting. I want to get some, but they are pretty pricey. I am pretty sure I could practice without one. I need to practice things like feathers, stippling, allover quilting besides loops, and how to make my own designs in blocks. I need to get good at this kind of quilting so I can move on to ruler work, which I would love to be able to do.

I just read an email from the lady in charge of Quilt University, talking about how her machine quilting had really suffered since she hadn't done it for so long, and so she made a commitment to quilt every day in the summer, and now she's back to being fabulous. That's the kind of commitment I need to make. I could do it. I should do it. I will do it. I will put some fabric on the quilter and just practice whatever I want, over and over again on the same piece of fabric, just using different colors of thread to keep track of my progress. Now, when will I start this? I promise here on this blog that I will start tomorrow.

Just an update on the knitting. The sweater is coming along. I have the back and both fronts finished, and I'm currently working on the sleeves. One sleeve is about six inches long or so right now. Once I'm finished knitting the sleeves I need to figure out a way to block the sweater. I don't think I have anything big enough to pin it to. I may just try using the tablecloth. I'll keep you posted!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Back to Basics, Back to Me

Last night I listened to a quilting podcast for the first time in a long time. It was Allison Rosen's Within a Quarter Inch podcast. She is so fun! I am jealous of her new sewing room, but I can be content with my little corner of the office. Since I organized most of my fabric it's much better. But what I was reminded of as I listened to her is the fun I have when I'm quilting, which I haven't done really since July and the Sister Quilt Retreat. So today I am getting back to basics, back to quilting fun. My plan is to quilt my McKenna Ryan applique quilt and get it hung up in the kitchen. I'm not going to stress over perfect quilting, just do my best and enjoy the journey.

I am torn all the time between starting new projects and finishing old ones. I love to start something new, be all excited about new fabrics, new patterns, the joy of creating, but then I start thinking about all the old projects I have sitting around, mostly waiting to be quilted but some waiting to be pieced, and I think how great it would be to have them finished and usable, and then starting a new project would be even more fun because there would be no lingering guilt from all those neglected quilts. And I don't even really know why they get neglected, because at one time I couldn't wait to start them, so now why am I waiting so long to finish them?

While I dabble occasionally in other crafting, knitting, scrapbooking, other sewing, I always come back to what makes me happiest, quilting. So today I am going to finish an old project, start a new project, and plan for a future project. Today is the day I get back to me.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

I'm Not Dead, I've Just Been Knitting

I know it's been a long time since I blogged. I did try one day last week, but I could not get into my account. I figured it was some Google problem, not mine, but then I got busy again, and, well, another week has come.

As the title suggests, I have recently refound my love of knitting. I have knit off and on over the years, usually off, but when Lori was here in July, I watched her knitting and it rekindled a long-sleeping desire to knit something by hand. Due to my hate of being cold, I decided I would knit a cardigan to keep me warm during the cold winter months as I type. I found a cute pattern, some yarn on sale, and bravely began. I started the back of this cardigan AT LEAST 10 times. I kept goofing it up, dropping a stitch, forgetting where I was, not liking how it looked. ARGH! That is the reason I go off knitting so frequently. I can't get anything accomplished.

But this time I perservered and the back, tada!, is finished. I am currently working on the left front. Now, whether or not this sweater will be done by cold weather remains to be seen, but I am determined to at least finish it sometime. One of the reasons why I am enjoying the knitting this time is that I have taught myself to knit in the Continental or left-hand method.

I should say I had a sort of Continental style before, but it never felt like I was doing it right, and, well, my fears were confirmed when I looked on You Tube and found a fabulous video of a knitter knitting in Continental style. Why, I said to myself, that looks nothing like what I do. I watched said video several times, attempted knitting, watched again, and finally got the hang of it. It is slow going at first, but if you keep doing it, it becomes more natural, and it is so much faster than American knitting. (It hurts me to say that. I should call it Canadian knitting. Just kidding, just kidding. Don't get out the lynch mob, kids.)

I am posting a link to the You Tube video, but not a picture of my knitting. No, I will keep you in suspense for that until the sweater is finished. Hopefully that's in a few weeks, but, please, people, don't hold your breath. I will not be responsible for any knitting-related fatalities.

Monday, September 8, 2008

The Nest is Empty

Gary and I have been empty-nesters for about a month now. There are some good things about it, and some bad things about it. Here are my top ten lists of the good and the bad about empty-nesting.

Top Ten Good Things About Being an Empty-Nester

10. The house is peaceful and quiet.
9. Eric's room stays very clean.
8. I can get all the laundry finished for the week in two loads.
7. The phone doesn't ring as much.
6. A small roast lasts us nearly a week.
5. I never lie awake at night listening for the sounds of kids coming home.
4. On Sunday afternoons there's two couches available for a nap, no waiting.
3. I can't remember the last time I changed a diaper.
2. The TV can be on CNN for a long time and nobody complains.
1. Going out for dinner costs less for two.

Top Ten Bad Things About Being an Empty-Nester

10. The house is way too quiet.
9. I can't hear Eric singing in his bedroom.
8. I don't do much laundry, so I can't justify a new washer and dryer.
7. We get more phone calls from telemarketers than anyone else.
6. A small roast lasts us nearly a week.
5. I get woken up at night by the sound of my own snoring.
4. Sometimes Sunday naps start before church is even over.
3. I can't remember a lot of things.
2. I think we watch CNN too much.
1. Going out for dinner costs more for two now than it used to for five.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Forgotten Treasures

Today I was cleaning the kitchen and decided the little table I have in there needed a fresh tablecloth. I went to my drawer of tablecloths just thinking I would get out the plain dark green one when my eye was caught by some pretty 30's fabrics, and suddenly I remembered the tablecloth I had made a few years ago out of 30's fabrics. I wanted to make a Lone Star tablecloth, but I wanted it to lay nice and flat and have matching points and be, well, good. I knew I probably couldn't do that on my own, so I bought a Quiltsmart fusible Lone Star kit.

It was so easy to do and everything came out perfectly. I then added more fabric to make a 70-inch circle, plus some cute machine embroidery daisies and voila! Now, the main reason I had forgotten this tablecloth is because when we moved to Lethbridge and we had a large dining room, we put the leaf in the table and it was no longer round, so I hadn't used it on the dining room table in a long time, and the second reason is my mind, sadly, is going. You've heard of the adage, Out of sight, out of mind. That is me in a nutshell. (Hopefully not me in a nuthouse one day!)

I'm trying to put a positive spin on the forgetfulness. When I forget I have things it's like having new things all the time without spending any more money. So here's a picture of my "new" tablecloth. I'm hoping now that I have forgotten a stack of $20 bills somewhere in the house.

Africa Day

In my last post I told you about the project to make dresses for girls in Africa. Since I knew September would be busy, I decided on Saturday (August 30) that that would be my sewing day. I had 18 t-shirts and 18 skirts all cut out and ready to go, and so Saturday I sewed all day and finished them all. I got out the serger, and they are so much quicker with a serger and done better, too, I think, as nothing will fray. Here is a picture of all 18 dresses on my bed. They look so pretty! I really hope some little girls will love them.

I was sewing the dresses for Africa when my sister, Gayle, called to tell me of their mission call, and I wasn't one bit surprised when she said she and her husband had been called to the Nairobi Kenya Mission. I had guessed Africa long before. I figured they were young and healthy, and the church would need to send them somewhere they couldn't send a couple with health issues. They will be working with humanitarian services in the employment center. I'm so proud of them. They will be fabulous.

Saturday really was Africa Day!

Friday, August 22, 2008

It's Not Quilting But It's Fun Sewing!

Our ward is involved in a service project for the Humanitarian Center for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We are making dresses to send to girls in Africa who need them to wear to school. Somebody very clever, I'm not sure who, figured out a way to make an absolutely darling dress using a t-shirt and adding a simple cotton gathered skirt. So very cute! Honestly, when I first saw the ones someone in our ward had made, I thought you could sell these in a store. Any little girl would be happy to wear one.

You can download the pattern at this website:

It's the simplest thing ever to make them, just straight sewing for the skirt and a little bit of cutting off the bottom of the t-shirt. You'll need a t-shirt, some fabric for the skirt, and a little bit of fusible interfacing to keep the bottom of the t-shirt from stretching. That's it! I have made two so far. They need them from sizes 2 through 14, so here's a picture of a size 2 dress and a size 14 dress. I made these two in about half-an-hour this morning. What a great way to use up your stash and how rewarding to use it for such a good cause. I have lots more t-shirts ready for skirts that I plan to do in the next few days when I have some spare time. Come join me!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Yoyos Old and New and Organizing Update

I finished sewing all my lovely red, white, and blue yoyos together to make my flag, which is now framed and sitting on my quilt shelf in the kitchen. I love it! And I love yoyos. They are so easy to make, so quick to sew together, and so darn cute, plus as many of you may know, the best dog in the world was named Yoyo. He was my dog from age 12 to age 18, when he met his untimely demise due to a love of chasing cars. I said he was a good dog, not a wise dog. I still miss him. Honestly. If I saw him today somewhere, I would be almost as happy to see him as anyone else in my family.

Here is a picture of the cloth Yoyos, and as for the dog, Yoyo, I used to have an old black and white photo of him, not very good, but now I can't even find it. I know it's around somewhere, not lost forever, but lost for now, so imagine a cute, little Lassie-esque dog, only smaller and that's Yoyo.

As for the organizing update, I have been having great success! I organized and refolded all my fat quarters, took out the ones that weren't really fat quarters (corner missing, too small, too big). Here is a picture of said fat quarters. I know you may not see the organization in this, but I can. I guess that's all that really matters.

The next thing I did was fold all yardage one-half yard or greater and put a label on it stating the yardage and the width. I just did labels written on masking tape. They don't stick all that great, but they're okay for right now. I don't want anything permanent anyway. I have two places for this yardage. The drawer below the fat quarters is for pieces one yard or less. Then I have a tote (not pictured) with anything over a yard. How jealous are you?

Lastly, here's a picture of some strips I have cut from scraps. I have cut widths from 12.5 inches down to 1.5 inches, basically leaving the scrap as big as I could. If it was big enough to make a fat quarter, I cut a fat quarter out of the scrap, put that with the fat quarters, and cut the rest into strips. I'm still trying to decide how to organize them, by size, by color, by type of fabric (flannel, stripes, florals, etc.) or a combination of all of the above. I would say I'm about a third of the way done with my scraps. I think they will be so much more usable now.

So hooray for me! Hooray for Yoyos (old and new)! Hooray for fabric that is so fun to cut and fold and touch and create with!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Scraps No More

I was lamenting to Lori the other day about all my bags of scraps and how useless they are, mostly because I don't remember I have them, and I don't like digging through bags to try and find something suitable, so I go buy more fabric, which is fun, but not necessarily frugal or even necessary. She told me a great idea for organizing my scraps, and then I read another good idea in the latest issue of American Patchwork and Quilting that I will also pass along for any who may not have read it.

Lori's idea is to take all your scraps and cut them into the largest usable size you can. You need to decide at the outset how small your smallest scrap will be. Personally, I don't think I'm going smaller than 1.5 inches, as that will make a one-inch finished square. That's small enough for me. So, utilizing Lori's plan, if you have a scrap that is smaller than a half-yard but bigger than a fat quarter, the first "scrap" you would cut is a fat quarter. Then from the remaining fabric you would cut squares as large as you can until the scrap is used up, and any itsy-bitsy leftover pieces you can feel good about throwing away.

Any fat quarters can then be put with your fat quarter stash, and the remaining squares can be sorted according to both size and color. For example, you might have a shoe box or Rubbermaid container, whatever, for all your eight-inch blocks, and within that container, blocks of different colors would be in different Ziploc bags. Or, conversely, you could have a container for all yellow fabrics, for example, with Ziploc bags for each size. I'm not sure which would be more useful. I suppose everyone will have their own preference.

The second idea for organizing scraps comes from Kathie Holland, whose quilt, "Scrap Happy" appears in the October 2008 issue of American Patchwork and Quilting magazine. Kathie buys half-yard cuts of fabrics, and then when she gets home, she cuts that half-yard into two fat quarters. One fat quarter she leaves as is, and the other fat quarter she cuts into strips of 6.5, 4.5, 3.5, and 1.5 inches. I haven't done the math, but I assume that uses up all the fat quarter. She organizes her stash then according to widths, not color. Kathie says this method gives her fabric to use for nearly any application, piecing or applique, including up to an 18-inch square from the fat quarter. For those of us who love the scrappy look, this is an awesome way to organize those fabrics.

I'm planning to use a combination of the two methods. If I have a half-yard of fabric, I will cut it like Kathie recommends. If my scrap is less, I will cut it into strips or squares as per Lori's suggestion. If the strip is long enough to be useable, I will keep it as a strip. If not, it then becomes a square. I think I want to organize by color and then by size, so my boxes will contain all strips or squares of one color, then organized by size.

I have a lot of work ahead of me to organize my fabric this way, but I think when I'm finished I will be amazed at how much fabric I have. I am hoping it will inspire me to make a lot more scrappy projects, as I love that look. Scrap on, quilters, scrap on!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Quilt Retreat!

At long last here are some pictures from the Sisters Quilt Retreat. I was going to call it the First Annual Sisters Quilt Retreat, but who knows where we'll all be next year, so it might not be annual. We'll definitely do it again, though. As they say, a fun time was had by all. There was much talking, amazing amounts of laughing, some tender moments, quite a bit of quilting fun, and even a brush with the law.

My project was the first one we did. It was a landscape quilt of three mountain peaks in the Canadian Rockies called the Three Sisters. Could there be a more appropriate quilting project for three sisters? I think not. Plus, it was an easy project, all fusible applique, and even though none of us got our quilts quilted, all of us got them finished and ready for quilting. As an added bonus, we also got to travel in person to see the Three Sisters in the Canadian Rockies near Canmore and take a picture of the three sisters with the Three Sisters. My absolute favorite quilt shop is in Canmore, Sugar Pine Quilts, and, well, let's just say it was a hit with all of us. We loved the fact that there were so many patterns, most of them with the option to buy a kit, in such a small store. Here are pictures of the three sisters with the Three Sisters and my landscape quilt (nine sisters in all in these photos).

Lori's project was the next one we did. She had brought prodigious amounts of fabric from both her stash and my mom's stash so that we could have lots and lots of choices while we made fabric postcards. I loved making fabric postcards. You can use up lots of cute fabric scraps. They go pretty quickly. You can embellish them within an inch of their lives, and, according to the lady at the post office where we went to mail some, you can mail them with no problem. Hopefully Vanessa and Emily get theirs soon. Here is a picture of the one I made for Jenny, my daughter's roommate. I also made one for my mom but did not take a picture of it before I gave it to her. Sorry!

Gayle had brought a fun book, Mosaic Picture Quilts, by Pat Durbin. We were hoping to get a chance to try making a landscape quilt out of a picture of Mom and Dad's house, but we ran out of time. I was very intrigued by this method of landscape quilting and I plan to try it sometime. Here's a picture of the book.

Lastly, my niece, Tresa, sent a project with her mom that became the hit of the quilt retreat because it was so portable and easy to take with us on road trips and do in front of the TV in the evenings. She gave each of us a Clover yo-yo maker and enough fabric squares to make a yo-yo American flag. I've only got about 20 of my yo-yos made, but here's a picture of the Clover yo-yo maker and five of my very cute yo-yos. I liked doing it so much that when I was in Utah the next week I bought the small Clover heart yo-yo maker and the small flower yo-yo maker. I highly recommend all three. Thanks, Tresa!

So that's the Sisters Quilt Retreat. I wish we could do it all again next month. I envy those of you with sisters at close proximity. I have to enjoy mine through email or phone calls or short but sweet in-person visits. Love you both!

Nothing of Significance

I've said it before, and I'll say it again. Non-quilters do not understand quilters. Sure, some of them try, like my daughter, Denise, who went with Lori and I to six different quilt shops on Saturday. By about the third shop she was so bored she confided in me that she almost wished she had gone with her dad to look at underground sprinker system parts at Lowe's. Thanks for trying. I do appreciate it. I was not bored even by the sixth shop. In fact, I'm sure I could have gone to six more.

The second example and the title for this post comes from a non-quilter at the Canadian/US border. While crossing said border, my sisters were asked about purchases made in Canada by the US Border Patrol guy. When they said they had bought quilt patterns he said, "Oh, so nothing of significance." Well, I guess what he meant was they didn't spend much money, but to a quilter them's fightin' words. Wisely my sisters did not fight with the guy, who had a sidearm and probably wasn't afraid to use it, and who could have kept them at the border indefinitely and confiscated all their quilty stuff, but we were all a bit up in arms over the casual classification of our treasures as "nothing of significance."

Dear non-quilters, you don't have to like quilting, you just have to understand that we love it. It is of significance to us, and it is seldom, if ever, boring. We quilt because we love the joy of creating. It is not to have a "blanket". I personally don't even care if I keep what I quilt usually. It is the journey that we treasure, not the end result, although it is fun to have a project completed, but, honestly, we are looking forward to the next project (and usually starting it) before the first one is finished. To those of you who try to understand, thank you. To those of you who don't, it's a sad, sad little life you live.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Quilty and Other Goodness

I have had a lot of goodness lately to write about, most of it not quilty, but I have been working hard, hard, hard so that I can take my week off for the 1st Annual Sisters Quilt Retreat, which I expect to be jam-packed with much quilty goodness, maybe even excellence. My project is semi-completed, and looking pretty good, if I do say so myself. I plan on sleeping little, quilting much, laughing more, and revelling in sisters for a solid week, and then it's off to Utah for a week. My son, Eric, is going to the Dominican Republic for two years on a mission for our church, and we are taking him down to the Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah, where he will learn Spanish and how to be a good missionary. We will miss him, but we are so proud of him!

I had the great good fortune to see James Taylor in concert this past Saturday. Talk about goodness! Oh, he was everything I had hoped for and more. When he sang Sweet Baby James, my heart just about melted with the sweetness of it. They performed a rockin', jammin' version of Steamroller Blues which, as Eric is fond of saying, melted my face off. So much of fun! He also sang a surprisingly haunting and mysteriously solemn cover of Rodgers and Hammerstein's Oh What a Beautiful Morning. So lovely. I can't even begin to tell you how great this concert was, nearly three solid hours of JT and his Band of Legends. Easily the best concert I have ever been to.

So that's my goodness report. Isn't it great when life is full of goodness of all kinds? I'm am swimming in it right now and feeling very lucky. Wishing you all whatever kind of goodness you need.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

My New Toy

I got a new iron yesterday. If this iron was for ironing shirts or something, I would not be one bit excited. I really dislike ironing shirts. My daughter loves to iron. I have no idea where that came from. No, ironing clothing of any kind is not fun. I am only excited about this iron because it's for quilting.

I used to have a Black and Decker Digital Advantage iron. I liked it fine, but one day it just refused to heat up, so it was time for a new one. I looked around a bit, couldn't find anything that really seemed like what I wanted, which was something with a lot of watts that heats up quite hot, has good steam, and will last for a long time. I had heard good things about Rowenta irons, so I had planned on looking at them but hadn't had the time. My husband offered to look for me, and he came home with a Rowenta Focus iron, 1700 watts of power and lots of steam holes.

I should say that I haven't actually used the iron yet. I have had no time to quilt, which is very sad, and I am certainly not volunteering to iron anything else. I have looked at the iron and plugged it in, and it seems good so far, so let's hope that Rowenta lives up to all the hype and that this is the best iron ever. Who would ever have thought that a new iron would be this exciting, exciting enough to write on the blog about? Do I live a sad, pathetic life, or am I just enjoying grown up things? You make the call.

SISTERS QUILT RETREAT BEGINS IN 10 DAYS!!! Now there's something to get excited about!

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Rocky Mountain High

Alberta, for the most part, is very, very flat, lots of farmland and prairies and big sky. A lot of people love it the bigness and openess and, well, flatness of the Alberta prairies (my daughter, Denise), but some of us do not (me). I am a mountain girl. I grew up by mountains, and I feel safe with them hovering over me, sheltering me.

We live about two hours away from Waterton Glacier International Peace Park, which is a national park that crosses the border of Canada and the United States. It's part of the world-famous Canadian Rockies, and it's my favorite place in Alberta. Nowhere else in this province recharges my batteries like a trip to Waterton.

We go to Waterton several times a year, and I always bring my camera, and I always get some amazing photographs. There are a few other things I always do in Waterton.

1. Smell the air. It has the best smell in the world. It's uniquely Waterton.

2. Feel the mist off Cameron Falls. It's both soothing and invigorating at the same time.

3. Skip some rocks with my son, Eric. I am bad, he is good. If I can skip a stone three times I am highly pleased with my skill. Last week he skipped one at least 20 times. He wins.

4. Stand on the dock at the lake and take a "boat ride". This is an optical illusion. We don't actually have a boat, but if you stand right on the edge of the dock, where all you can see around you is water, and you look at the water sort of unfocussed, like those computer-generated 3-D pictures that were popular a few years ago, then you feel like you are moving. It is way fun, and if you get your eyes to cooperate, you can go on a "trip" that last probably two or three minutes. I get much mocking from my family for this love of the fake sailing, but I don't care.

5. Eat an ice cream cone. Waterton has a tiny little town with a lot of gift shops and art galleries and one amazing ice cream parlor with homemade waffle cones. Yum!

6. Wish I lived there. You can buy a cabin there, if you can find someone selling theirs, but they are way out of my league, even for the ones that look like a shack.

So I share with you some of my pictures from the latest trip. I wish I was going there tomorrow.

Cameron Falls

Butterfly by the falls


Amazing amount of logs fallen across the stream. I don't know if it's beavers or weather responsible for this, but that's a pile of wood! (For all you Corner Gas fans)

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

No Fireworks, Just Floods

It was a very eventful Canada Day here in Lethbridge, but not with the usual festivities. Yesterday we got 45 millimetres of rain (nearly two inches for those of us non-metric people) in 90 minutes. We usually get that much rain in an entire month. As you can imagine, the storm sewers were not able to keep up and roads and basements everywhere were flooded. Our basement, luckily, did not flood because just before it started to rain we were inspired to put our extensions on the downspouts "just in case". Thank you.

So here is a picture of the road that leads to our house flooded with about four feet of water. Luckily our house is miles away from this spot. It was kind of exciting being the lead story on the Calgary news, and it was kind of fun when Gary and I had to run through the rain to get to the store. I have never seen rain like that in all my life. And it was also lucky that there is one road that goes from the south to north Lethbridge that didn't flood or we wouldn't have been able to come home for who knows how long.

I missed the fireworks, which were cancelled due to the flooding, and it was kind of inconvenient not to be able to flush toilets or use water for several hours after the storm, but we survived, and I hope they find another summer night to have fireworks just for fun.

Monday, June 23, 2008

For Tresa

My niece, Tresa, loves irises, and so when I saw the beautiful irises in my garden this morning, I knew I would have to take a picture to share with her. They are quite stunning this year, and if I were an art quilter, I would make a fabulous wallhanging using this picture, but, sadly, that is not where my talent lies. So, Tresa, this post is for you. I hope you enjoy it!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

They're Quiltains

Yesterday I showed you the blocks I made using Fons and Porters Half & Quarter Ruler. Today I'm posting a picture of what I made using those blocks. I made curtains for my bedroom, and since they also have patchwork in them, I'm calling them quiltains. Aren't I simply too, too clever? I think they turned out well, although you can see all the seams during the day with the light behind the curtains, but oh well. I pressed all the seams the same way, and so now they are now what I like to call a "design element".

I'm going to make curtains for the other two upstairs rooms. One is my office/laundry room/sewing room, and for those quiltains I'm using fabric my son and daughter-in-law brought back from Israel for me. It's lovely fabric, very brocade in blues, golds, and whites. I'm going to do a braided design. The other bedroom is going to get something done in tan and black and red, not sure what pattern yet, if any.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Kudos to Fons and Porter

Not that Fons and Porter need my congratulations or anything, but yesterday I used their Half & Quarter Ruler for the first time, and I must say it was excellent. First of all, it's very easy to use and gets rid of some of the "dog ears" you have to trim off after sewing triangles together, and, second of all, it saves so much fabric.

For those of you not familiar with this ruler, it allows you to cut both half-square and quarter-square triangles from the same size of strip, not to mention any squares you are using for the quilt, thus saving you time, money, fabric, and frustration. No more cutting squares with weird measurements like 4 7/8 or 5 3/16 and then cutting them in half or quarters. On the ruler are yellow circles with numbers in them that correspond to the finished size of one side of your triangle, hypotenuse or long side for quarter-square triangles, and leg or short side for half-square triangles. Follow those dots to the right or the left, depending on the kind of triangle you want, and, voila, there is the width to cut your strips. Here is a link to their website and a picture of said ruler. I am not affiliated with Fons and/or Porter in any way. I just love this ruler, and I think you will too.

And here is a picture of some double pinwheel blocks I made using the ruler. Awesome!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Where Are All the Cute Dresses?

Today's post is a bit of a rant. Sorry in advance. I am looking for a nice dress, nothing too fancy, for a special occasion. Do you think I can find one? No, no, a thousand times no. There are plenty of pants around, many of them cute, but the dresses are either non-existent or made of such ugly fabric or in such a style that nobody would want them.

Here are the questions I would like to ask the clothing manufacturers:

1. Why do you think we want dresses in garish shades of giant pink and orange flowers or yellow and black zebra print or too bright blue swirls?

2. Why do you think we want dresses with no sleeves, no backs, low necks, or short skirts?

3. Why do you think we want dresses with gigantic beads around the neckline, giant gold rings holding the front or the back together, or huge cutouts around the hem?

4. Why do you think if we want none of the above that then we must want a plain black dress?

If someone out there started making pretty, modest dresses with beautiful, subtle fabric, in wearable colors, they would make a fortune. Just my opinion.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

The Art of Quilting

I was watching a Bonnie McCaffery vidcast yesterday of the Houston Quilt Festival from the fall of 2007. What gorgeous quilts! But I noticed that all the ones she showed, which I realize were not all of them, were what I would call very "arty" quilts. They fell into one of two categories, firstly, a quilt done by someone who is obviously an artist, with the ability to paint and draw not only recognizable objects but absolutely stunning objects, faces, flowers, landscapes. They are quilts that are like paintings with fabric as the medium. I do not have the artistic ability to do one of those quilts. The second category is abstract quilts, quilts with swirls and twists and cubism, quilts that have no recognizable blocks, often no square edges, and often very unusual color combinations. I could probably do a quilt like that, but I really don't want to.

So I wondered, as I looked at these quilts, done with great artistry and certainly worthy of a ribbon or money or both, where I fit in in the quilting world. I would call my style more traditional certainly. I do like order and symmetry, but I'm not opposed to a little chaos. I like some of the modern fabrics, some of the reproduction fabrics, some of the batiks, some of the brights and florals and novelty prints. I enjoy piecing more than applique, I think, but then I love looking at quilts with really beautiful applique and fanatasizing about making one of my own. I really don't think there is a category that I fit neatly into.

Not that I am planning on entering a quilt into the Houston Quilt Festival any time soon, but I wondered as I looked at these quilts, what I would enter if I could. If money, time, and talent were no object, what would I create? I would do something stunning with applique and piecing, something with beads or some other embellishment. It would actually look like something recognizable and have some order to it. It would probably not be done with batiks or reproduction fabrics, either one. It would not be abstract or have faces on it or require me to dye my own fabrics. It would tell a story, some story that was special to me or my family. It would represent something close to my heart.

Well, don't hold your breath. It's easy to think about such a quilt, very difficult to create it. I for sure don't have the time and money right now, and, to be honest, I wonder if I have the talent or the ability. In my head it's absolutely beautiful, though, and it certainly deserves best of show at Houson Quilt Festival!

Friday, June 6, 2008

My Kind of Columbine

I have noticed over the years that I have a hard time choosing just one color. When I got married, my colors for the wedding were spring colors, purple, pink, yellow, green. I loved it. I find myself drawn to multicolored fabric and variegated yarns and threads. I don't know why, but I just can't seem to be satisfied with one color when I can have several. It doesn't always make for the most pleasing quilt, unfortunately. It can be too overwhelming, and everything jumbles together so much that the design is lost.

So yesterday I was out in the back yard and I noticed that my one columbine plant has two colors of flowers on it, pink and blue. Now, I don't know if this is common, but I don't remember ever seeing it before. I'm sure it has something to do with pH levels or sunlight or something, but I thought, Hooray! A flower with my kind of color sensibility. He obviously couldn't choose either, so, what the heck, let's do both. I say why not?

Monday, June 2, 2008

Alice's Quilt

I finally finished the quilt for Alice, my mother-in-law, that has been on my quilter since March. I had grandiose ideas about my quilting ability and have since had to downgrade to my beloved, albeit it too-well-used, loops and something else. On this quilt I chose two something else's, flowers and hearts. I think it turned out fine, although certainly not the heirloom quilting I had envisioned. I guess I have to quit thinking I am above such mundane things as practicing.

Alice had her 80th birthday in March, which was the reason I was making the quilt in the first place. I was able to use fabrics for the entire quilt from her fabric stash in her favorite shades of rose and green. Sadly, I do not think she will remember any of these fabrics because my mother-in-law has Alzheimer's, and she is getting very forgetful. It used to be things like addresses and whether she bought bananas, and now it's things like her children and her husband. She asked us just last night where he was, and we had to tell her again that he passed away nearly two years ago. She said, Oh, okay, I'll have to write that down. It breaks your heart, but she's relatively happy in the world in which she lives now, the world of her childhood and early adulthood. She often thinks my husband is one of her brothers, and we just go along with it.

So here is a quilt for you, Alice. You have been good to me and my family, and now it's time for us to take care of you. Sweet dreams.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Lovely in Lilac

Lilacs have been my favorite flower for a long, long time. I had them at my wedding. I love the color of them and the smell of them. I have wanted a lilac tree of my very own for so long, but due to the fact that my husband had an entire hedge of lilacs to clean out as a child, he has a hatred for the lilac bush, and so I have never had one. Luckily for me, my neighbor has a beautiful lilac that spills over into our yard, and she does not care how many I pick on my side of the fence. Thank you, Eileen.

I have seen a lot of lilac fabric, and you'd think I would love it, but normally I do not. I don't know what it is about it. It doesn't look real enough, or the color is not just right, or something. I continue the quest for the perfect lilac fabric, though. I think what I really want is fabric that smells like lilac. Hm, there's an idea. I could invent scented fabric and make a fortune!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

I spent the early morning checking up on the garden after all the rain. Today the sun in shining, and it's simply breathtaking. All plants seemed to have survived unscathed. I moved the roses from the back yard to the front yard before all the rain, but this morning they all seem to be pretty happy in their new home. There's buds on the daisies and the irises and the columbine is blooming. I love spring!

I was looking through my fat quarters yesterday, trying to decide on some I might use for the Sisters Quilt Retreat when I came across a forgotten package of fat quarters from Keepsake Quilting called Promise of Spring. They are positively mouthwatering. Today if I get my work done (cross your fingers) I am going to whip up a spring wallhanging out of some of these fabrics, something simple that will show off the tulip fabric. Here's a picture of the fabrics. Hopefully a picture of at least the quilt top will show up here soon.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Rain, Rain, Go Away

It's been raining for a week here in generally sunny southern Alberta. We're all getting cranky from too little sun and no outdoor time. When I was a kid, like most kids, I was afraid of thunder, but my mom loved a good thunderstorm, and we would sit on our front porch and watch the storms roll in across the Great Salt Lake, and she would tell us that thunder was a giant rolling potatoes down the mountain. I was still afraid, but not as much. She taught me to see the beauty in all parts of nature.

My house here in Lethbridge has its own issues with rain. We have a deceptive and particularly stubborn leak somewhere by an air vent on our roof. We have tried numerous times to fix it. We always think we have until the next big rainstorm, when the leak comes back, sometimes very sneakily and sometimes with great abandon. This week so far it has leaked on the days with little rain and not leaked at all on some days with vast amounts of rain. It must have a sense of humor.

If I could be indoors quilting during a week of rain, I might not mind it so much, but it hasn't been a quilty week at all, and I'm feeling the need for some "sunshine on my shoulders", to quote John Denver. So consider this an invitation, sun. Wherever you have gone to, come back. We miss you.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

What's in Your Stash?

Today I thought it might be fun to show you a bit of what I have in my fabric stash. When I say, "Bit," you'll know what I mean. We're all in the race for the biggest stash, and I'm no exception. So far my mom is winning, though.

First of all, I love fat quarters. Who doesn't? I have a whole cabinet full of them, and I just keep collecting more. If I walk by a stack of fat quarters, all tied up so pretty, some arranged like little stars or flowers, well, I must buy some. It's a sickness, really, but one I'm sure a lot of you share with me. Here's a picture of my chest of fat quarters. The small chest on top has thread and notions, and the stack of fabric on the top of that is WIP's.

Here is a picture of one of the drawers in my chest opened. I try to sort them by color, but they do get mixed up sometimes as I use them.

Here's a picture of some of my favorite fat quarter bundles or collections. Going around the circle clockwise from the tied bundle, the tied bundle is Japanese fabrics from the local shop, Fabric Addict. Don't you love that name? Next, some really pretty flannel fat quarters that I actually used most of making a quilt. I'll post the quilt sometime. Next, some 30's fat quarters bought to make a Dear Jane quilt, but I've been using them for other things, so if I want to make a Dear Jane quilt, I'll need to buy more fabric. Oh, boo hoo! Next, some Keepsake Quilting fat quarters, all in a birthday party theme. I think it would be fun to make a wallhanging to put up when it's somebody's birthday, and last, some hand-dyed fat quarters from Starr Fabrics.

This last picture is some fabric I bought nearly a year ago in Montana to make a quilt for my bedroom. Sorry about the blurry picture. I took it several times. It's pouring rain here today, so it's dark outside, and my house faces north, so even darker. I just couldn't hold the camera still for long enough. Oh well, I'm a quilter not a photographer. Hope you enjoyed the peek at my stash!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Finding Time to Quilt

Today I would like to do something quilty, anything quilty. I would like to quilt on the quilt I have on the machine downstairs, or work on one of my patterns, or finish one of the projects I have half-completed. Why am I doing none of these things? Because I have to work. I am typing a sentencing hearing today, and then a long civil trial, and then a series of small transcripts about who knows what. I see no break.

It's one of the great frustrations of my life (and I'm sure many others) that I don't have much time in which to be creative. Living, working, eating, cleaning, sleeping, those seem to take up vast amounts of time, leaving me with crumbs, some of which I'm too tired to enjoy fully, and so I end up watching TV or doing some other mindless activity, wasting yet more of the precious little time I have.

I have tried various methods to squeeze quilting into my day. I have tried setting aside a specific time each day. I have tried working like a dog, day and night, so I can have a whole day off. I have my sewing machine right next to my computer, hoping that maybe I'll get five minutes here and there in which to sew a block or draw something in EQ 6. They are none of them very satisfactory. If I work hard to get a whole day, I'm so tired by the time that day comes that I often don't quilt much. If I take five minutes here and there, I don't get anything really accomplished because it takes three of those five minutes to figure out where I left off.

So what is my solution? Well, this summer my sisters and I are having a quilt retreat at my home. We are taking a week and quilting. My sister, Gayle, is not quite the avid quilter that Lori and I are, but she likes to putter around with it some, and the three of us just like to be together, so she'll quilt with us to get some sister time. We are each taking one day of the week and teaching something, a new technique, a new project, whatever each of us wants. I have something fabulous and very sister-esque for my day, and I am counting down the days until July 19, 2008.

The great thing about this retreat is that not only does it involve a whole week of quilting with no guilt feelings, but it involves quilting with my two best friends, the ones who understand me better than anyone else. We never run out of things to talk about, laugh about, maybe cry about. We are sisters in every sense of the word, and I often whisper a thank you to heaven for allowing me that privilege.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

New Puppy, Old Quilt

We went to visit my son and his wife and the new puppy yesterday. She's definitely a cutie, although still a little nervous around all of us. She'd only been away from her mommy for less than 24 hours when we saw her. Tawny (that's her name) enjoys being cuddled, and she plays, but always very nicely. She's going to be a perfect addition to their home.

While there I also saw the very first real quilt I ever made, the one made for my son after his return from South Africa. It's made of out very African-looking fabrics in shades of green, yellow, and tan, with just a bit of red thrown in the mix. It's made of pieced churn dash blocks with sashing between the blocks and hand-quilted. I must say that I still like it, even after all these years. Considering I didn't really know what I was doing at the time, I did pretty well in choosing both color and scale of fabrics.

I had large prints and small prints, good contrast between the various elements, a splash of an unexpected color to add some sparkle, and a fun giraffe print for the back. It's stood the test of time, and I'm proud of it. So you'd think I would have had the intelligence to take a picture of it. I mean, I had the camera right there, taking pictures of Tawny, but, nope, I did not do it. So I guess you'll have to be satisfied with my description of it, and maybe I can get a picture next time I'm there.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Victoria Day, or An Excuse to Have a Three-Day Weekend

This weekend in Canada is the May Long Weekend, much anticipated by all, especially campers and gardeners. It's the traditional first weekend for both here, so in the spirit of the weekend, this morning I mowed my lawn. Quite enjoyable, really, as it always is after a winter off. I also saw my first robin today. He was enjoying my sprinker, and I said, Welcome back, buddy, and he gave me a bit of a song.

This week I also shook myself out of my quilting doldrums, removed the quilt from my quilter and unsewed all the quilting. It didn't take nearly as long as I thought it would, and I watched the BBC version of Sense and Sensibility while I did it. It's lovely. If you haven't seen it, I highly recommend it.

So today I'm trying to decide how to requilt the quilt. If I was proficient (see post number 7) I would quilt a rose on each of the plain blocks, since most of the fabric has roses in it. However, I am not going to do that as I foresee that would involve much of the dreaded unsewing again. Instead, I'm going to do something flower-esque in them and hope for the best. I have Pam Clarke's book, Quilting Inside the Lines, and I have confidence that will help me do a pretty basic design. The rest of the blocks are paper-pieced pineapple blocks, so I'm not going to do anything too fancy there as I don't think it would show up anyway. If the quilt turns out halfway decent. I'll put a picture up.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Hello Doggy!

My son and his wife are getting a puppy this weekend, a purebred airedale terrior. Oh, she is so very cute, and I can't wait! I had several dogs as a child and always expected I would own dogs all my life, but my husband is not a pet person, so no dogs for us. I miss the joy of doggies, and I think my husband would love one if he ever gave it a chance.

So welcome, New Puppy, (name to be determined later) to our family! I predict you and I will become good friends. I have a real rapport with dogs. They usually like me, and I always like them, no matter the breed, size, age, or temperament. There's something so special about an animal who will love you totally without conditions but with such abandon and enthusiasm. You can never feel lonely with a dog as your friend.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Feeling Sluggish

For some reason I can't explain spring is slow in coming this year, both generally and personally. Usually spring gives me a giant burst of energy, a longing to be outside working in the garden or even doing some spring cleaning. This year the leaves are at least two weeks behind where they would normally be, and I am feeling pretty blah about the whole spring thing.

I feel a bit of a bottleneck in my quilting life as well, and I have figured out what it is. It's the quilting. I can piece quilts and applique quilts. I can design quilts and plan quilts. Goodness knows I can buy stuff for quilts, but I can't quilt them. I used to think it was because I didn't have a quilting machine. It's hard to wrestle a queen-size quilt through my sewing machine, so I didn't do it very often. I thought if I got a quilter, all my problems would be solved. As is so often the case in life, one problem solved brings other unforeseen problems to light. My problem now is not a lack of a machine with which to quilt, or even that the machine doesn't do a good job. The problem, I hestitate to admit, is me.

I am paralyzed. I have no idea how to quilt my quilts. Or if I have an idea, I can't execute it because my machine quilting skills are, well, pathetic. I have a quilt on the quilter right now. It's been there for a month with about 20 square inches quilted. I don't like how it looks, and I haven't gotten around to ripping out the stitches, so there it sits.

I know the answer to this dilemma is to practice, practice, practice, but I just can't seem to make the time or find the time to do it. What I want is to be able to quilt like Linda Taylor or Diane Gaudynski with no practice. Don't we all? What I need to remember is that they quilt like the quilting angels they are because they paid the price for it. They WORKED at it. I think because I can imagine beautiful quilting in my head that I should just be able to do it without training any of my muscles to know how to do it. Bad thinking.

So I vow today that I will begin to take my quilting seriously. I will put on a practice piece and PPP. I will not despair when my feathers look like unintelligible blobs. I will just keep trying when my stitch length varies from 1/4 inch long to infinitesimal. I will actually quilt something besides loops and stars, which I can do pretty well and therefore do way too much. I will not expect perfection or even proficiency or even passability for quite some time.

Ah, I feel better already! So let's go mow the lawn, maybe wash some windows, and how about some McTavishing?

Monday, May 12, 2008

A Sad Love Story

I hope all you mothers had a lovely Mother's Day. I know I did. All my children were home except my oldest son and his wife, who were with her family, but he did send me flowers earlier in the week, so that was thoughtful. I also got to talk to my mom on the phone and catch up on the news, which is always a pleasure.

So on to the story that explains my title. We have had a birdhouse in our backyard since we moved to this house four years ago. Every spring I wait to see if any birds will adopt it as their own, which has never happened until this spring. We had two little sparrows who decided it would make a fine spot for their nest, and what fun we had watching them fly back and forth with grass stems and weed stems to build a nest inside. The male would often perch on the fence just above the birdhouse and sing his little heart out. When he brought material for the nest, it was often as big as he was, and it was quite entertaining to watch him stuff it in the hole, sometimes having to take two or three stabs at it.

Well, sadly, last Thursday I found a dead female sparrow in my carport. I think she had flown into the glass sliding door we have at the back. I usually like to leave it open a bit for that very reason, but we had closed it all the way because it was raining, and she flew into it. The poor male sparrow has been hanging around the backyard since then trying to find her. He still sits on the fence and sings, but it's pathetic little chirping now, to my mind always with a question mark at the end. Where are you? Where are you? He probably doesn't even realize he's a widower. He might think she coldly abandoned him for some handsomer sparrow. It just breaks my heart to watch him fly from house to fence to tree and back again.

I know one day he will just quit coming back to the birdhouse, and I hope if he does he will have found a new lady bird and moved on with his life. Who would have guessed I would become so attached to a little, common, brown sparrow? It's probably a good thing I don't have a dog or a cat or anything. I'd be a basket case if something happened to an actual pet. I think I'll have to do some quilting today to cheer myself up. Maybe something with a birdhouse ...

Friday, May 9, 2008

Everything is a Quilt

Have you noticed that if you are a quilter everything you look at is a quilt? Last summer I took some pictures in Glacier National Park, and I was looking through them a couple weeks ago trying to pick one for the background screen of my new iTouch. I found one that just took my breath away, and I said to my husband, Ooh, look how pretty this picture is. He glanced at it and said, What? I don't think it's that great. Everything is the same color. I looked again, still loved it, and wondered why he couldn't see the beauty in it.

Then I realized, oh, wait a minute, he's not a quilter. I was very, very sad for him. He never looks at anything with a view to quilting it, and I look at everything that way. He misses out on a lot of nuances in the world around him because he's not trying to figure out how to make it work in a quilt design. Maybe I miss out on some things because I always am looking at things with a quilter's eye, but it's too late now. It's deeply engrained, imbedded, ground in, fused with (good quilty term) who I am as a person. I quilt, therefore I am.

So here is the picture in question. Do you see a quilt too? Maybe get your husband or your son or daughter or any non-quilter to look at it and see what they see. Could be a fun little experiment for you.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Hooray for Rain!

Last night it rained, which is very exciting. Normally I'm not that thrilled about rain, but winter in Canada is very, very long, and so the first night when it doesn't get cold enough for the precipitation to turn into snow is very much anticipated by me, and that was last night. So hooray for rain and welcome spring at last! Unfortunately, it still could snow again. I think the only month of the year I haven't seen snow since I moved to Canada is July.

There's good news on the quilting front as well. The design for the table runner I was having so many problems with yesterday is finished. I'll post a picture here so can see it. I call this quilt Table Runners, which I'm sure you understand now that you see the quilt. FYI, sneakers in Canada are called runners, so the name is a shout out to all my Canadian quilting buddies. This quilt is perfect for the fusible-web applique method, and would look so cute with all those wild and crazy fabrics you couldn't resist but didn't know how you would actually ever use. It would be darling on a dresser or on the wall in a child's room or even on the kitchen table, and it would make a great gift for someone you know who is a runner.

So I hope you enjoy the sneak (get it?) preview. I hope to have this and other quilt patterns for sale online ASAP.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Be Kind to Your Computer

Today was a frustrating design day. I tried all day to design an applique block in EQ6, and at the end of the day, literally (It's nearly 10 p.m.) I have absolutely nothing to show for it. Let me say first of all that it's not the fault of EQ6. My computer kept freezing up, and when I would restart it and reopen EQ6, my block would be gone, vanished into cyberspace despite my valiant attempts to save it.

Now, all these problems might -- just might -- have something to do with the fact that my computer is pre-Y2K, and while trying to design the aforesaid applique, I was also downloading court audio for a typing job, listening to iTunes, chatting with my son on Google Talk, checking email, and reading some blogs. Perhaps a bit too much to ask my relic of a computer to do.

While the technology side of designing was frustrating beyond belief, the actual design was, if I say so myself, amazingly cute. So tomorrow I plan to try again, this time with a few less peripheral tasks running at the same time, and hopefully I will have my mojo working and the planets will be in alignment and the force will be with me and I can get the entire table runner designed, not just the applique. It's going to be a fun little pattern. I'll post a picture from EQ6 tomorrow if I get it done.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Shouldn't It Be Patchwork?

When Lori and I were trying to decide on a name for our business, we had a brainstorming session with the two of us and our mom. The first thing we agreed on is that we quilt because it's fun, and we never want to lose the joy we find in quilting. With that in mind, we set about trying to find the perfect name for our business, and it was hard! We didn't want to sound too cutesy, and we didn't want to sound too boring. We wanted it to be short and easy to remember but also have some oomph to it. I still remember the goosebumps when we came up with our name, Patchplay! It says everything you need to know about us. We love quilting. It's never work for us. It's absolutely, 100 percent F-U-N. Plus, we like to think we are two fun girls that you would love to play with.

Once we had the name, Patchplay, the ideas for quilts just flowed. We filled page after page after page with ideas for quilt designs, which we want to be, first and foremost, fun to make. We have no desire to reinvent the quilting world with some new, amazing, never-before-seen pattern. I don't know if that's even possible. What we want is to make quilt patterns that will inspire you to quilt and have fun in the process, and that will hopefully bring a smile to the face of whoever receives the quilt. We want them to be easy enough for beginners to tackle and challenging enough for seasoned quilters looking for a good time. That's a goal that's plenty lofty for us.

I must say that taking our ideas from that first giddy moment where we couldn't write fast enough to actually designing the quilts, then making our designs in fabric, working out the bugs, writing instructions, debugging the instructions, blah, blah, blah, well, that's been a challenge. It's still fun, mind you, but it's a different kind of fun than simply whipping up a quilt from someone else's pattern. And it takes a long time! Even longer because we both still have fulltime jobs and families and other responsibilities.

So, the patterns are coming soon-ish. I can't be more specific than that, but to whet your appetite just a little bit, here's a first draft of our pattern logo. Tell us what you think! And keep on Patchplaying!

Monday, May 5, 2008

And So the Story Begins ...

Welcome to the first post of my new quilting blog, Patchplay with Me! First, a little about my quilting self. The first quilt I ever made was when I was 18 and a freshman in college. My mom helped me make a twin-sized quilt made of four-inch squares from fabric scraps. It was a cute quilt, hand-quilted, and full of memories, and I used it so much it wore out, but it didn't infect me with the quilting bug. The next quilt I made was 26 years later, a queen-sized quilt made for my oldest son, who was returning home after two years in South Africa. I don't know if it was the fabrics or the sense of accomplishment or the right time in my life, but, man, I was hooked!

Since then I have made many quilts and started or bought patterns or fabric for many more (WIP, UFO, round tuits, whatever you call them, you know we all have them). I love the feel and smell and look of fabric. I love quilt magazines, calendars, gadgets, tools, shows, blogs, podcasts, stores, all things quilty. I currently use a Brother ULT-2002D as my sewing/embroidery machine, which has worked quite well for me, and I bought a Voyager 17 with a Hinterberg stretch frame about 9 months ago. I'm not very proficient with it yet, but I'm learning, and for the money I think it's the best quilting machine out there.

My current sewing room is also my office (I work at home typing court transcripts, a good job, but not very creative) and it's also the laundry room. Yep, the laundry room. The one good thing about it is that it's totally my room because nobody else wants to do laundry. I have my quilting frame and machine downstairs in my daughter's former bedroom. It's a nice big room, sort of chilly in the winter, sometimes floods during a particularly wet spring, but again not one anyone else is fighting over, so I win again.

My sister, Lori, and I would like to start a quilt design business. In fact, this blog is our first step. We live in two different countries, nearly 800 miles apart, and that has made trying to start a business together challenging to say the least, but quilting is also one of the things that keeps us connected. Please look for her blog, Patchplay with Me Too! coming soon. And soon after that you can start looking for our patterns online. To be honest, it's frightening for me just to put these words out there in the quilting world, let alone my designs. I have that same feeling I have just before I cut into a lovely, pristine, expensive piece of fabric. I hestitate, rotary cutter in hand, take a deep breath, straighten my ruler one last time, and go for it. Before I know it's three hours later, I'm knee-deep in fabric scraps and blissfully content. One, two, three .... jump!