Thursday, April 9, 2015

a little detour

While wandering the aisles of Lowe's last night, pondering what perfect paint color to purchase, which light fixtures would work and the proper wood putty that I need, I took a turn around the plants and gardening area.  Not the outside, since it's nowhere near time for that area.  But the indoor plants, in case they had a succulent or 2 for my house.  Succulents are a pretty safe bet because they tolerate neglect.  And if they do die, they take awhile to die, so they still look OK on the shelf!
So, I found this amazing looking specimen called the coral cactus.  I have never seen it before.  Really exotic looking, tinted with a little purplish red on the edge, curling around like a jellyfish floating in the water.  At least that's what I see!  Of course, it had to come home with me!

Friday, April 3, 2015

little bits

Hello once again!  I am so excited!  I've opened windows this week!  Not very far, but officially open and left open for hours.  This says winter is over, now we are in limbo during the period of weather instability until we get consecutive days of window opening.  Then it is summer!

I have been scratching around in the dirt of the flower beds to see if anything is brave enough to start sprouting up new leaves.  Not much happening, which is just as well because it would get nipped with frost at night.  There's still some time to pass until the real growing starts.

And while passing the time, it's good to keep up on some sewing and quilting.  I have an update for you from a post from 2/12.  I have had some re-work to do on this little candle mat.  For such a little thing, it has really consumed more of my time than it should.  I took the photograph and then wrote that blog post on 2/12.  The time it takes me to write the information, format it as well as possible, edit the photos and place them on the page is not brief.  It can take me quite awhile, depending on how many corrections, how many links to insert, size and order of pictures, etc.  While I wrote that blog post, I completely forgot that the candle was burning.  Eventually, I realized it needed to be blown out, but it was too late.  The melted wax had pooled in the bottom of the little basket for awhile, but found its way through the cracks and out onto the fabric.  I was so not happy!  At least the damage was confined to only part of the star, so I could remove 3 of the diamonds and still make it come out OK.  The wax had soaked into some of the layers, but didn't show on the back.  Then it took me awhile to find the fabrics I needed to match, sometimes my fabric filing system fails.  Eventually, I made the 3 diamonds and very carefully sewed them into place so it hardly looked like anything had happened.  And then, for the finishing touch, I pressed it all very nicely.  And instantly realized that was a very dumb idea, because the wax warmed up and showed up again on one of those diamonds!  Aaargh!  (or something like that)  Once again, I had to rip out my little stitches and replace just one of those diamonds.  And the fabric was much easier to pull out of the stash this time!  And now I finally have a completed candle mat for our English Paper Piecing class next week, and it will always have a lovely scent embedded in it!  And battery candles from here on out!

I had an impulse sew this week, too.  At the store, we have an upcoming shop hop event and there will be demonstrations of a little ruler called the Mini Hex 'n More.  I volunteered to make one of the sample patterns.  My thought process was that it wouldn't take much time because it's mini, right?  Wrong!  The seams might be shorter, but there are just as many points and intersections to match as when making an actual reasonable-human-size!  Lots of pinning and matching later, I got all the blocks together!  It does look nice, I have to admit.  I got it all quilted (simple straight lines) on Tuesday and attached the binding on Wednesday and hand sewed most of the binding last night.  Those little zig zag edges also take some extra attention to get them looking right.  I refreshed my memory on that process by referring back to another blog with good instructions.

One of the things that I did on the retreat in March was assembling some new pincushions.  Yesterday I decided it was high time to finish those up, and here's how they turned out.

The directions for the long skinny one can be found on the Green Bee website.  The square ones are a free pattern from Poorhouse Quilt Designs.  I put some of my prettiest pins in them for their Kodak moment.

And now, just because we all need more happiness in our lives, I will share the latest Happy Jack picture!  I can hear his giggles!  Hope you all have a good day just like little Jack!

Monday, March 23, 2015

friends in high places

There is that old saying "It's good to have friends in high places".  Well, I have a friend at the tippy top of the high places.  At the Summit!
At our quilting retreats, we all supply our own food and beverage for retreat, and have a shared snack table to graze between feeding times.
This time, in addition to the snack buffet, Leisl offered to tap into her connection to Summit Brewing in St. Paul.  She brought an assortment of beers for us to sample.
So I did.

My problem is, I am not a very good sampler.  They all were very drinkable, so I really can't rate or compare them to each other!  The Maibock and Porter are varieties that I probably would not have purchased because my pre-conceived notion would tell me that I would be wasting my money on something I would end up passing over to Bob to consume.  (He'll drink anything!)

Well, they were actually very tasty, and I would not have shared with Bob!

And then, while shopping at the local little Gordy's Groceries in Augusta, I spied this--

I was not familiar with a "malt specialty" liquor.  I did buy this and brought it home to share with the previously mentioned guy.  It was probably the marketing that made it for this beverage.  The patriotic theme of the name, complete with eagle flying and mountain peaks on the horizon.  The flavor "apple pie" is like the trademark of America!  The folksy chalkboard-art-looking graphics, which remind us of the good old school days of our childhood.  The description at the bottom states it is brewed in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, evoking a picture of the beauty of nature all around us as we sip our drinks.  And then, bottling it in a mason jar really completes that moonshiney backwoods down home feel!  After sampling it straight, I'm not a fan.  But it has been suggested to me that I might like to try it mixed with ginger beer or cranberry juice.  Sounds like a good idea!  As I did a little more research into the making of this product, I found that it is made by Stout Brewing Company.  My first thought was that it had a connection to the nearby University of Wisconsin - Stout in Menomonie, nowhere near the Blue Ridge Mountains.  But it's a different Stout.  In North Carolina.  Not far from Charlotte, in the city of King's Mountain.  42.4 miles from Ballantyne, the home of the Carolina branch of our family!  Maybe a field trip on our next visit there!  It's a small world after all!  (And now I will have that earworm in my head all day!)

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

please don't touch the quilters

I went to the quilt show in Augusta, presented by the local quilting guild.  If you have ever visited a quilt show before, you probably know that it is pretty normal to see signs posted as reminders to not touch the quilts.  The oils and unseen dirt on our hands can accumulate and cause problems with some fabrics.  Sometimes there are even "white glove ladies" present, who will lift a corner of the hanging quilt to give a view of the back of the quilt.  They wear cotton gloves to protect the quilts.

At the Augusta quilt show, this sign says "please don't touch the quilters".
I guess it's OK to touch the quilts?
I think the person in charge of the signs needs to start over!

At the quilt show, there was a woman selling tote bags made from recycled feed sacks.  This one was a chicken feed bag in a former life.  I think it looks like just the right thing for browsing around the farmer's market!

I worked on several easy little projects, and thanks to my mom's help with binding, we got these made:

little baby blankies made from double-sided plush fabric.  Just attach a binding and it's done!  We made this binding wider than usual, cutting the strips 6" wide.

Then there were the pillowcases, little and big, for 2 little boys.  Featuring Frozen, the Very Hungry Caterpillar and Dr. Seuss.

The first picture shows mini size pillowcases, which is just right for my little guys.  Neither one is big enough to need a full size pillow, so they like the little ones.  Here are the directions, if you are interested in trying one:

Pint-sized Pillowcases
5/8 yard fabric for body of pillowcase--cut 18" x 32"
3/8 yard fabric for cuff of pillowcase--cut 9" x 32"
This is designed for the small travel pillows (approx. 14" x 20").

It is a very good idea to wash the fabrics before cutting.  And since they do shrink, I stated the amount required with a little cushion to allow for shrinkage.  Finished pillowcase is approx. 16" x 22".  Seam allowance is 1/4".  It is best to finish the seams with zigzag or serger.

Iron the cuff fabric, wrong sides together to form a strip 4 1/2" x 32".
Sew the folded cuff strip to the 32" edge of the pillowcase fabric, right sides together, matching the raw edges.  Press the seam away from the cuff.
Fold the pillowcase in half with right sides together and the cuff at one end.  Sew the side seam, backstitching at the opening.  Sew the bottom of the pillowcase closed, backstitch at beginning and end.  Turn right side out and press.

More accomplishments for mom--

She finished the hand quilting on this small quilt.  She used embroidery floss and larger than usual stitch size.  It's called "big stitch quilting" and is a growing trend.  Never knew my mom was such a trendy gal!

More treats for those little boys--

5 pairs of fun pajama pants that I hope will come close to fitting one or the other!
Fire trucks, jungle animals, triangles (kites according to Ian), red pickup trucks with Penny (Lauren's dog) in the back, and goofy faces.  This should keep them entertained for a moment or 2.

And I continue with my obsession with Bridget's Bagettes--

I just can't seem to kick the habit!

Monday, March 16, 2015

the retreat treat

My mom, Sally, and I have just completed a 5 day quilting retreat in Augusta, WI.  It's great that she could come with me.  We have wished we could do more of this, but the past few years she has not been able to leave home very much since Dad needed her there.  So, even though it's sad that he is gone, it's good that she can once again do some of the things she missed out on.

There were 20 of us staying at Bridge Creek Cottage.  Plenty of sewing space, food and fun.  There was even a local quilt show going on!  We all had meal assignments, so we each had to cook only once during the whole time, which was great!

Here we are in our natural habitat--

I spent time completing the blocks for this quilt, Hexie Blossoms by Whimsicals.  I will work on getting this quilted and bound so it can probably be a summer class at Bear Patch.

My mom worked on finishing the borders for this quilt for her grandson, Spencer.

Each of her 6 grandkids will have received their quilt when this is done, and then she can start on the great-grands!  They all have little baby quilts from grandma, but the latest edition is a grown-up quilt.
This was derived from a block that she found in an old magazine, and we tweaked it a little and enlarged everything to make it a good size.  The main element is the blue paisley print, which gave us a basis for all of the other colors.  Since I drove her home and stayed overnight last night, we got this layered with the backing and batting, pin basted, and mounted on her quilting frame for hand quilting.

The next quilt was made by Laura.  This is only a portion of it.  It is a pattern by Bonnie Hunter.  It was a mystery from a previous year, and I don't see it on her blog but it will probably be in a future publication.  I am always amazed at the circle effect achieved with straight lines, no curves.

And here's a beautiful accomplishment, many hours of work and TLC went into this one.  It's called Indian Orange Peel by Karen K. Stone.  It is the work of Amy.  It is all paper pieced by machine, small pieces of fabrics sewn onto a paper pattern, then joined with other sections.

There were 2 or 3 other people at retreat who have the intention of making this design in different color schemes.  I hope they can do it!

And here's a cute new pattern that Jean was working on---

You have to click to her website to see the cute ideas and the hedgehogs!

That's all for now!

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

scrap deliveries

Now, I usually am not on the receiving end of scraps from friends.  Most often, I am the one passing scraps on to friends.  But lately, the tables have turned!  These are selected scraps that fit my needs, so they are most welcome!

This batch came from my South Dakota connection, after she saw my posting about the Gypsy Wife quilt over on the Bear Patch blog.  These are from the PBandJ group that I am using as the basis for my color choices in that scrappy quilt.  And I really needed some help in the blue and yellow category, so these are perfect!

I am doing well by South Dakota lately, as this piece also arrived from there--

I had admired this print used in the background of a block that my friend had made, and I benefited from her scraps!  This will also go into Gypsy Wife.

And then yesterday, at the Paper Pizzazz class I am teaching at Bear Patch
, one of our "regulars" (sounds like a what we would call Norm at Cheers!), Elaine, pulled this out of her bag of tricks for me--

The story behind this is from awhile back.  Elaine was working on an English paper pieced project with hexagons and Halloween prints.  She likes to work with small scale prints in little pieces, and I remember commenting to her about this print used in her project.  Well, she remembered, and gifted me with a piece of my own!
It's so good to have friends with scraps!