Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Winter wonderland

Who would guess that we are a week into Spring!?
Fresh snow this morning!  The fun never ends!  There was a prediction of lots of the white stuff, but so far only 1-2" on the ground.  I am at Camp Lebanon, near Upsala, MN.  The maintenance guy said he had a bit of a tough drive here this morning due to the fact that it was blowing pretty hard, here at the lodge it is sheltered so that is not a factor in my walk from the other building.  The weather has interfered with some of the retreat attendees, causing some to leave a day early yesterday before the snow so they could be home for jobs, etc., and those everyday demands of life!  I am lucky to be able to sit tight here until Thursday.  I am here representing Bear Patch, teaching a couple classes and minding our mini-Bear Patch to supply fresh patterns and notions for the quilters here.  Also getting some sewing time:

This is the start of a Hap Quilt, I don't even know if the pattern is available any longer.  It was an idea from a few years ago and I had the strips all cut, now there are at least these 12 blocks.  I thought it would be bigger than this.  The other is made using templates from Elisa's Backporch and needs a lot more blocks so I will be working on that today.
I have a few pictures from my weekend with the Ham Lake Piecemakers:

We had a nice big open room for sewing with windows overlooking the lake.  

Carol labored over this purse, we were all impressed by her perseverance!  It is an Indygo Junction pattern, not sure of the name at the moment. 
Today we will watch the snow fall and stay warm and cozy while working on our quilts.  When the dinner bell rings we report to the dining hall downstairs, so life is simple! 

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Flat on one side

Well, I had the opportunity to refresh my skills in tire changing this afternoon!  That tire that had the "slow leak" slowly leaked all the air out of one side, leaving it rather flat on the bottom.  It occurred while parked over the weekend, so I wasn't caught driving during the flatness.  And I had a nice level parking area to work in, with some coaching from friends to help the process along.  My first thought was to get someone else to do it, but realizing I was kind of stuck out in the country with no immediate access to such a helper, I resolved to just get to work and make it happen without wasting any more time than necessary.  It really wasn't so bad, just needed a little muscle to get things loosened, lifted, jacked, etc.  A hydraulic lift would have been nice so my knees weren't so achey, but we got the job done and loaded up my car so I was soon on my way westward.  Stopped at the WalMart in Pine City to have the tire repaired and put back in place, I couldn't believe that it only took about 15 minutes and cost $9.50!  I used the time to replenish my snack supply inside the store, and then continued on.  It was a nice drive with sunshine all the way, I did see quite a bit of high water in the lakes and streams.  I visited Nancy, got to sit on her lovely new leather couch and admire her new fireplace that is finally completed, before arriving at Camp Lebanon.  There are plenty of quilters here in the midst of fabric and fun.  I don't have my pictures downloaded (no pictures of the tire event so I can't even show you my handiwork!), will work on that tomorrow, right now I think I am fading fast so will head off to bed.  

Thursday, March 26, 2009

I'm sure it will all fit in!

I am taking off this morning for a week away from home, first to my quilt group's annual retreat taking place at Lutherpoint Camp near Siren, WI, then on Sunday going to Camp Lebanon near Upsala, MN, to represent Bear Patch for 4 days.  So I have had to really think about what all I need to have packed for this 2-part journey, since I'm not coming home in between.  I did find a route to drive the backroads between the 2 locations, they actually are pretty close to the same latitude and about 120 miles apart.   This picture shows most of my quilting/sewing stuff, ready to be packed.  

And then came the clothes!  And bedding!  And snacks!  It was clear to me that I was running out of room, so I did the only rational thing and ate the M&M's.  Now everything fits like pieces of a puzzle!  I have watched the Supreme Packer (Leisl) over the years and have elevated my packing skills considerably.  Nancy and I are well accustomed to the task of ferrying everything to the rear of the van, SUV, and/or trailer, handing stuff to her as she very kindly requests, and not interfering with the master at work.  She does know how to get the job done!
I do think that I started out as a not-so-shabby packer, thanks to watching the work of my mom and dad.  When we were kids, we always took a long camping trip in August, and they squeezed in everything for our family of 5 into the trunk and rooftop carrier.  I wonder where that old tin box is?  There was this large metal box, about 2'-3' square and a foot deep, with 3 divided compartments inside and a hinged lid.  Precursor to rubbermaid bins!  That box and a picnic basket pretty much held everything needed for our meals--3 a day, none of this stopping for fastfood stuff.  Plus this was before the age of fastfood on every corner!  I especially remember that my mom would take an empty oatmeal box to pack a dozen eggs layered with oats, I don't remember them ever breaking.  And no refrigeration, no cooler.  I think in 1967 we graduated to a little pop-up tent trailer, and that seemed like quite a luxury after a 9'x9' tent.  We had some fabulous trips, and I am eternally grateful that they had the foresight and will to make those trips happen.
So I am heading out, and if I get internet service while I am away I will share more news and pictures with you.  I'm not exactly going to Siberia, but these places can be a little like the Bermuda Triangle of phone and internet service, so we shall see!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

in the works

I am happy about getting a new quilt pattern ready for publication soon.  This one is titled Box Blocks, and is really easy to make.  Writing up the directions has taken awhile since I decided to make it something very useful for quilters who want to make it from a bunch of random fabric (like using up the stash) so it required lots of figuring and calculating.  I have spent a lot of time on it to try to eliminate the possibility of misinterpretation and problems for the user.  It is a challenge to take something that just pops into my head and seems so self-evident, and then put it into words that are clearly understood by anyone and everyone who picks up the pattern.  I am at the point where I have the directions written and re-written, the photo taken and sent to Dan, the fabric requirements calculated and sent to Dan, and pretty soon he will work a miracle and get all the info squeezed into a grid for the back of the pattern!  This is more difficult for this pattern, because I have calculated yardage for 5 quilt sizes (baby to king) and 5 yardage variations for the blocks (10" square, fat quarter, regular quarter, 1/3 yard and 1/2 yard).  And up to 3 borders!  That makes a lot of little numbers to keep organized!

Also coming soon is a pattern for a baby or nap quilt, along with a couple accessories.  Getting a good picture of this has been difficult, I'm no stylist!  I think I could really use a baby as a prop!  I try to pay attention to detail in these photos, because I know from personal experience  that the photo on the cover plays a big role in whether the pattern is deemed  purchasable or not.  I don't have an extra fancy camera, but my Canon Elph does a pretty good job (thank you kids!).  And I came across this article which contains a lot of very good info for the amateur quilt photographer.  I showed it to Bob on Sunday, and when I got home from work on Monday, he had constructed 2 light fixture stands and purchased styrofoam sheets for backing for me!  This has already proven to be a big help, even though we are still a bit challenged by where is the best place to store this stuff!  The basement seems a logical place, but there isn't a good spot there to be able to stand back and get the range needed for any large quilt photo.  So we do have the space for that in the living room area, but getting the 4x8 foot styrofoam panels up and down the basement steps is not easy, due to the fact that the steps have a landing and turn halfway.  Because they are a little flexible it can be done (unlike trying to get the 4x8 plywood panel downstairs to cover the pooltable which resulted in 2-4x4 sections!).
Now I really need to get moving and finish preparations for the Block of the Month class that I am teaching this afternoon and evening at Bear Patch, which by the way, is very pretty and you can still join!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Good Bye to CA

You know you're not in Minnesota when you pass this sign a couple times a day!  And yes, in order to take the picture I had to break the rules!  

Interesting sign--I thought this is what we always do but maybe it's different out there!
I tried to upload a little video showing my finesse on skis, but technical difficulties have prevented that.  You will have to live in suspense, let's just say that I'm giving up my wait by the phone for the Olympic Ski Team to call!  I am a very cautious skier, I'm not much into swhoosing down the slopes at a high speed.  The toughest spot on the mountain for me was called the Road Runner, it was at the highest part of the mountain so my fear of heights didn't help the situation.  Dan told me it was a gradual traverse around the back side of the mountain.  I call it a narrow ledge on a sheer cliff.  In the end, I was glad I got the chance to experience it, even though it's pretty humbling to have Dan ski backwards ahead of me and do it so much easier than I could ever do forwards!
Bob and I had an uneventful journey from June Lake to East Bethel yesterday, and I'm getting over that bittersweet feeling I always have at the end of a vacation, especially when it means not seeing my kids again for awhile.  Who ever said they could move to California, anyway?  

Thursday, March 12, 2009

fun in the moonlight

Please remind me to come back here next year when the moon is full so we can repeat our snowshoe hike by moonlight.  It was an excellent adventure!  This picture shows Bob and I on the crest of a hill with the rising moon in the background--beautiful!  The temp was perfect and no wind, so when we had to wait a few minutes for the moon to rise above a bank of clouds on the horizon, we didn't get cold.  We had a great guide, Robin,  from the Tamarack Lodge, who informed us of interesting history of the area.  She has authored a beautiful new book, Tracks of Passion, about the history of skiing on Mammoth Mountain.  When we got back to the lodge we sipped a bit of hot mulled wine and tasted a great cheesecake dessert.  A perfect night, thank you to Dan for arranging it!
Special greetings to all my quiltie friends who are at Bridge Creek Cottage without me!  Miss you guys!  I hope you enjoy the little project I put together for you, and have a good retreat.  Yesterday I visited Quilting in the Sierras in Bishop, and found a couple new patterns.   It's always fun to find something unique by someone local when I am away from my Bear Patch home.  Bought a little yarn at Sierra Cottons and Wools in June Lake, and got a sneak peak at some upcoming designs from Bareroots.   Barri Sue Gaudet, designer of Bareroots patterns,  operates this cute little shop chock full of yarns and stitcheries.  She even has a separate pattern line--In the Woods--exclusive to her store.  I will probably drop in there again tomorrow and see if I can snap a photo to post for you--yes, I'm always thinking of you!  It's a tough job but somebody has to do it!
Hanging out in the Looney Bean coffee shop in Mammoth Lakes, waiting for Dan to finish his workout after work so we can all go to dinner and then out to the local hot springs.   Keep on stitchin'!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

fun in the sun

Yes, that's me behind the goggles!  We were taking a little lunch break on the mountain yesterday, and I am trying on Dan's great helmet for size.  It's wired for sound so he can even answer his phone while "riding" -- this is what we used to call skiing, but we now have a new name for it!  Anyway, he and Bob got me out on skis for the first time in about 10 or so years, and while it wasn't always pretty, it was at least decent!  We covered the slopes of Mammoth Mountain Ski Area, all the way to the top at 11,000+ feet and made it back to the parking lot safely.  It was a gorgeous sunny day, not a cloud in the sky.  Today is a replay of that, but we have spent it on a little road trip to Bishop while Dan puts in a day at the office.  We took a little side trip on the way back up the grade to go up the Rock Creek Road and then take the scenic route back to Mammoth Lakes, where I now am using the library's internet access to stay in touch with you!
We had so much fun last Saturday and Sunday.  We flew to Reno and drove down to June Lake where we were joined by Brita, Ben and Dan for a little family affair, and they combined talents to cook a delicious birthday dinner for Bob.  They gave him a new jacket for his ski vacation, so he is really stylin' out on the slopes!  Not much more news for now, but stay tuned...

Thursday, March 5, 2009

socks, the new way

I have tried out a new technique (at least new for me!) for sock knitting.  My friend, Thora Lee, sock knitter extraordinaire, wrote these instructions and coached me.  They actually are started in the middle of the sock with a provisional cast-on, proceeding towards the toe, then back to the cast-on and up the leg.  Sounds weird, I know!  The idea is to overcome the difficulty of not knowing how long to make the leg and still have enough yarn left to complete the toe in the usual top-down style I make.  The pair above is for my mom, and I am now on the leg section of sock #2, so coming down the home stretch.  This is a rather inexpensive yarn, called Paton's Kroy Socks.  Thora Lee teaches at Amazing Threads and Shepherd's Choice, so you might see these socks on the class lists there.  I am leaving soon for a vacation so am planning what yarns to take!  

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Back in the day--

Thanks to my good ole' gal pals for a fun afternoon today!  This photo really brings it all back--middle of winter on a lake in MN, sitting on the roof and playing cards while hopefully the dads are keeping the gang of kids out of trouble!  I guess they all survived!  
I spent some days in and around Lake Park (IA), got to have coffee at the new coffee shop on Main Street, the Blue Moon.  It is a nice little spot, I hope they are successful.  
We are kind of sick of the winter weather here, we seem to be stuck in a pattern of cold, snow, thaw, repeat.  Makes for some lousy driving!  Counting the days till our trip to CA next Saturday!