Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas!

A very quiet and calm day here at the Hansen house on this Christmas Eve day. Time to catch up on a few things, like sharing some projects I have been working on--

This is a portion of a tablerunner from a book called Sizzlin' Sixties by Heather Mulder. It's on the quilt frame ready for me to start stitching. It will be a class over at Bear Patch. I used a new specialty ruler for the accurate cutting of those 60-degree shapes.

I showed you the next quilt previously during the assembly, and I really love the finished product. It is a design from a book, Strip Smart Quilts by Kathy Brown. All the quilts in the book use strips and another Creative Grids specialty ruler, the 90-degree Double Strip ruler. This quilt will also be a Bear Patch class. Can you tell I'm having fun with rulers?! There is one more to come, but that project is still in the very early stages. Like the stage where I have the ruler and the fabric laying together on the cutting table!

The next quilt is one that I quilted for Debbie, and it is going to her niece's 2-year-old son. It coordinates with the Cat in the Hat theme of his room. The batting was a poofy polyester because it is to be more of a bedspread than a traditional quilt. That's also why I used that repetitive squares quilting design.

This morning I have had a little time to do some reading, I love my Kindle and get plenty of books on it to keep me busy. Mostly for free from an Ereader News site. I get daily notices of bargains and freebies. But today I did a library download from the Anoka Co. Library for the first time, so I have a great new James Patterson novel for my reading pleasure over the next 2 weeks.

I also looked up something on one of my favorite sewing websites, Sew 4 Home, and discovered that they have a great freebie booklet for learning lots about basic sewing.

Here's something else I have been intending to put up here for awhile now. If you love quilts, you need to know about the International Quilt Study Center in Lincoln, NE. I have been lucky enough to visit there, but even if you can't make it to Lincoln, you can definitely make it to their great website. The link I placed here shows you the Quilt of the Month, which shows up in my inbox. A whole quilt in my little inbox! I have also searched in their collections, for example, looking for mosaic quilts. Turned up some great things.

So now it's time to get a few things done around here! Wishing you all a Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

happy holidays

This holiday printable is available free here. Maybe I could get it printed and framed in time for Christmas 2012!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

nearing solstice

As our hours of sunlight grow increasingly shorter, we are all wrapped up in the Christmas holiday festivities. This made me wonder if there was any direct connection between these 2 significant events, so I looked it up to try to figure it out. But the explanation didn't really clarify it for me, a lot of references to really ancient times, actual number of days in a year (more that 365) and variations in calendars. I did learn that Leap Day helps correct for that fracture of a day greater than 365. That happens to be the expected date of the appearance of my little grandson, so I'm wondering if we are looking at a lifetime of adjusted birthdays for the little guy!

We have trimmed back on the trimmings this year, guess we are going the minimalist route. A little greenery on the stair rails, ascaled down tree, and of course, stockings hung by the chimney with care. I did get a package shipped off to #1 son since he won't be traveling home for this holiday. I only hope that it gets to him and his housemates before the 25th, so they will have our presents on the appropriate day.

Still working on a few little gift things--Brita had asked for some of these zipper bags to replace the old ones I had made, they are great for travels. The white mesh can be purchased at fabric stores like Joann's. The red mesh can be purchased at your local produce market, along with fresh fruit or vegies! I hadn't sewn on it before, and found it less wonderful to work with, but as long as it holds together I am happy!

A little knitting has been snuck in during a few hours on the couch, continuing with a baby afghan that had been on a break while I searched for some more of the gold yarn. It is Cottonease and that happens to be a color that is either being phased out or just plain unavailable in the stores around here. I tried something new and searched on Ravelry for someone wanting to sell it from their own stash. I lucked out and connected with a nice woman who sent me 2 more skeins, so I can make this blankie big enough to last. Also starting a new scarf from the Noro Silk Garden Sock yarn purchased last summer in Bishop, CA, at Sierra Cottons and Wools.

Baked scones for the first time from this recipe-
Not 100% sold on them, although you would think there is enough butter and sugar and spice in them that I wouldn't be complaining! I guess they just aren't as good as some others that I've had.

This brings me to the subject of Pinterest. Because I have that recipe on my food board there. If you haven't heard about or visited or tried Pinterest, check it out. But I am warning you, it can suck up some time! It is like a bulletin board of my favorites and bookmarks, sorted into categories, and accompanied by a visual cue to remind me what my bookmarks are! There are a ton of interesting ideas that can be gleaned from one another's boards, all with a link back to the origin. Kind of cool.

My family has been asking me what I want for Christmas, and all I can come up with is a new bathrobe since the one I am using is a raggy hand-me-down from my daughter. I think it was a gift to her for a Christmas past and wasleft behind on a hook in her bathroom so I claimed it! Not a very excitingwish list, so I think I will add something else that I want:

a lovely tattoo! Which, by the way, I found on Pinterest!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

fancy pants sweater

I have been very bloggy lately over on the Bear Patch blog, so a bit absent from here. We are working on a 12 Days of Christmas promotion that involves daily emails, blogs, facebook posts and website updates. It is all a new venture for us and more successful than we had anticipated. Very good news, but keeping us scrambling to keep up. FYI, if you still want to get in on any of the deals, you can go back through the days on the blog and email or call us with your order. How fun to stuff your own stocking!

I encountered a very fun video that I have inserted for your viewing pleasure--

This looks like so much fun to make!

Monday, December 5, 2011

works in progress

Time to share some things I have been working on! You can see from these pictures that very few things are actually done, but mostly they don't have to be done in the near future.

English Paper Pieced blocks from Patchwork With Busy Fingers in 2 different fabric groups. I am preparing these for a class for Bear Patch starting next fall, which might seem like a long ways off, but I need to get a lot of these done BY HAND and put together before then.

More little hexagons, reconstructed from an antique quilt. 4 of 100+ blocks. Long term project!

Even more hexagons, this time sewn by machine and using a special ruler that I will incorporate into a winter class at Bear Patch.

And a little gift for our employee Christmas party last night, a table mat that I made to go with the candle wreath and battery candle. I decided that since not all people like a scented candle and the hazards of a burning flame, I would go the safe route with this one.

What have you been working on?

Saturday, December 3, 2011

holidays and health

It seems like we talk a lot about how much we have to do and how busy we all are during this month of December. Often I think we have an attitude that it is just all too much, and we get very little enjoyment out of what is intended to be pure enjoyment! So I am focusing on the big 4: family, friends, faith and fun! I do what I can with what I have, and keep reminding myself that it is all good.

We always do some outdoor lights, but simply done. A couple strings on the front porch, maybe a small tree near the road, and that's enough. Then we light up the tree in the house, and depending on my mood and time, we might wrap the log beams with garland and lights. Altogether, they create a nice glow and a noticeable bump in our electric bill! We have decided to convert over to LED lights for their low-energy consumption, but we don't want to shell out the money for a total light makeover. So we started with 3 new strings for the porch lights this year, and will add more as we go. They do seem to have more light output, I hope we don't have any wandering aircraft mistaking our front yard for a landing strip!

We had a little excitement this week and a reminder of how lucky we are to be living in the 21st century. My sweet parents had a bad scare when my dad's heart started acting up a bit. Here's my mom and dad from about a year or so ago--

Normally healthy and happy, this pair just seems to keep on ticking. They really are those people who are "young for their age", and although they have slowed down a bit over the years, they keep plenty active. This really is the first experience of this type for him, and was distressing at times, but overall things went smoothly. He developed a very slow heart rate, which brings with it additional problems. A heart rate of 35 might be desireable for a marathon runner, but not so much for an 85 year old guy! A quick helicopter ride from Worthington to Sanford Medical Center in Sioux Falls, pop in a pacemaker, and voila! Looking and feeling much better! These little devices seem routine and commonplace to someone like myself who has worked in the medical field for many years. But when I step outside of that perspective, this can seem much more amazing. And if this had happened 50 or 60 years ago, my dad would not have had such a good outcome from this heart problem. In fact, his life would have suddenly become severely limited and shortened. So THANK YOU to all those medical researchers, past and present, who work continuously in some lab somewhere, doing a job that might be considered boring and tedious.

When we found out early Tuesday that we would be taking an unplanned trip to Sioux Falls, I needed to quickly get not only some clothes packed, but a project or 2, of course! I had started out a pair of socks not so long ago, using the technique that lets me knit both socks at once, so I tossed that in the car to keep my hands busy. I am using a nice yarn called Noro Silk Garden Sock, which I purchased early in 2009. I would have liked to work on it sooner, but ran into a little problem. To make these socks, I needed to divide the one skein of yarn into 2 equal balls. But then one ball disappeared, and I had no idea what happened to it. I looked high and low, and resigned myself to the fact that it was permanently gone. I occasionally looked at the one sad ball remaining, and wondered what to do with it, but never was able to pick it up and do anything with it. Lucky for me I didn't! Because 2 years later, when I am removing couch cushions to clean underneath (yes, I know I should do that a little more often than once a decade) I find that missing ball of yarn way smooshed down in the crack! So I finally was able to cast on for those socks, and was making a bit of progress during waiting room and drive time this week. Until I looked more closely at what I had been creating, and realized that the cuff was going to be too small to fit over any ankle that is not emaciated! So time to rip back, and recalculate. These socks are a long time coming! Maybe I will eventually have enough to take a picture of and share, but no guarantees!

Monday, November 21, 2011

triangles galore

The fibers were flying in the sewing room when I got started on cutting a few triangles for a new project--

Those triangles evolved into blocks like this:

Which turned into something like this:

This picture was taken while I was working on rearranging the colors on the design wall. The finished product will be a couple days off, I'm working on sewing the rows together. Some of the seams require careful matching and pinning to get the corners and points to line up correctly. That's something I require of myself and try to teach in my classes without becoming abrasive because I have come to realize that others often have a better tolerance for mismatches than I do! I mainly want people to enjoy the process of sewing, and if that means doing it the way I do it, or varying from that somewhat, then so be it. There is room at the sewing machine for all!
Back to this quilt--it is a pattern from a book titled Strip Smart Quilts by Kathy Brown. It is cut using a special Creative Grids ruler called the Double Strip 90 Degree Triangle ruler. The fabrics are designed by Denyse Schmidt and are called Hope Valley. This is all in preparation for a class/demo that I will be teaching at Bear Patch Quilting sometime this winter--schedule not yet determined!

And here's an image of another quilt that I worked on for a customer. The fabrics she used were all similar shades of off-white. The backing was a "corduroy" plush fabric.

This type of backing can be a little tricky to work with, mostly because they are stretchy. Mounting the selvage edges to the rollers and keeping the backing slack prevented any puckers/distortion. And a loose, curvy stitching design was needed. Close quilting and points would not have worked well. The customer was happy, and she is taking it to Baltimore for Thanksgiving to give to her lucky family there. And that's what it's all about!

Here's a chuckle from the Mark-B-Gone fabric pen that I have:
"Please try with a waste cloth cutting before use. Please take off a cap with hands, not with a mouth."
Important words to remember!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

a bit of kindle

I have been making good use of the Kindle I was gifted for my birthday, and I have to admit I had some trepidation about it to start out with. I had been longing for an e-reader but I was afraid I would incur too much extra expense with using it. I try to keep myself on a pretty tight budget, but that's a whole other story. I had the mistaken assumption that possessing an e-reader would be like falling down the rabbit's hole of online book expenses. Not so! I have, indeed, purchased one or two "normal" priced books, but for the most part I have been making good use of the free and/or bargain books available on Amazon. I have found more than enough good reading that way, and have started accumulating enough of a digital library that I am going to have to do some organizing and prioritization of the list. And maybe try to stay awake at night longer than the time it takes to read 1 page! I signed up for a daily deal email from Amazon with bargain books to consider. It's amazing how far I have stretched the Amazon gift certificate that accompanied my kindle. In fact, I am still using it 4 months later! Today's book caught my attention and for $.99 I think it will go into my library list.

I have no training in fashion design and scant experience in drafting anything resembling clothing. But I do have a long time, far removed interest in famous designers. The question I have is which comes first--
A., the designer's ability to predict and create hot new fashions and develop a worldwide reputation,
or B., a worldwide reputation gained by hook or by crook with a following that makes everything they design an instant hot new fashion?
This feeds right into my mini-obsession with Project Runway (and now Project Accessory!) and the experiences the struggling designers must go through to come out on top. I always wish I could know more about the critique by the judges, because they are supposed to be the people in the know, and sometimes they flat out don't fit with what my own critique says! Even if you don't get the program on your TV selection, if you are reading this page then you have access to the shows on their website. So I invite you to watch an episode and see who you would kick off the island (or toss off the runway).

On another related note, I want to give a little testimonial for the Kindle cover that I am using. I showed you this before when I shared pictures from a September retreat, but it is worth revisiting now after some time to use and test the design. I make and try out a lot of patterns and projects for classes and displays at Bear Patch, some with better success than others. This was the second pattern I made for an e-reader cover, and this one is a keeper!
It is the Reader Wrap from Atkinson Designs. It is a well-designed and very functional cover. Honestly, what else would I expect from Terry Atkinson? So if you are looking for help for your naked e-reader, this is the one to try!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

so solid

Another finish to share with you! This was such a pretty quilt to begin with, such a good use of solids. There has been a definite trend in quilts towards solids, I'm not sure if this is a comeback or a new thing. It seems like a lot of the quilts from the 30's, 40's and 50's used a lot of solids along with whatever calicos were available. Plus, there's the Amish quilt style that relies almost wholly on solids to create designs and pattern. So, whether it's new or a revival, in the combination above it's a good thing!

Also featuring solids is this quilt designed and made by my sister, Jan--

She asked me to quilt it, so I guess it could be called a collaboration. I wrote about it before, but what I didn't tell you was that she entered it in show, Art in the Redwoods, in Gualala, CA, (her home) and won a 2nd place award! Click on the link to see some other winners. Good job sis! Grandma I. would be so proud! She was our mother's mother, and the person that I trace back our sewing/knitting/quilting/embroidery tendencies to. She was a wonderful Grandma, and we loved it when we could stay overnight with her and Grandpa. The bed we slept in had a soft chenille spread on it, and the wooden headboard had a row of carved bumps like beads all the way across. I liked to run my fingers along the bumps. Ahh, the good old days!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

major typo

Just had to share this sign posted outside a barber shop that I walk by frequently. I think it is supposed to say "2 Chair Rentals Negotiable". Really does not make me want to have my hair cut there!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

working at home

I have happily spent my day working at home on 3 different things. First, I finished up this customer quilt. It's a big one, about 110" square, and made from lots of different shirts, which I explained in my previous blog entry.

Then I loaded this quilt, which is equally as large, and have started the echoed swirly design requested by the customer. Lots and lots of little pieces went into this one. As a reference, the white strips are 1" wide. This picture makes it look like it is the neverending quilt--to infinity, and beyond!
Sometimes when I start a big quilt that is exactly what it feels like! Kind of like I will never get to the other end! This quilt is from a book titled Quilts Made Modern by Ringle & Kerr

For some relief from these big guys, I have used my break time to work on this little wool applique project:

This is part of Christmas Wraps & Mats by Bareroots and will likely be on display at the store in our upcoming Christmas window display. And we have had a lot of requests for a class on this topic, so I am trying to organize that as I stitch.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

fresh paint

I have been wanting to give our bedroom a facelift for quite awhile, and it was never a big priority so was postponed far longer than it should have been. When we last painted, I was still working some night shifts and in order to get any kind of decent sleep, I needed lots of dark. So the walls were painted dark blue:

I made my own roman shades for the windows and backed them with light blocker fabric, so they really darkened the room. Over time, the system for raising and lowering the shades deteriorated with the exposure to sunlight. They only sort of half worked, lending a nice ramshackle touch to the decor. Definitely in need of help! I ordered some nice wooden blinds and although they don't block the light quite as well, they are adequate for my life now that night shifts are a thing of the past! I did get the style without holes for the cords, which helps.

Finally, this weekend both of us had 2 days off, and since Bob had to hang out near his computer for work-related reasons, he was pretty much committed to helping with this home improvement project. Here's the after:

I like it! It is called Woodlawn Colonial Gray. It hopefully coordinates well with the quilt (far from finished) I have planned for this room. Still some touchups to do, removing tape, moving furniture, etc., but the worst is done. Should be able to relax and watch the Amazing Race tonight, I'm cheering for the snowboard dudes! And I know some of you are Project Runway fans, can you believe how that ended?! Not at all what I would have chosen! Now I have started following the new show, Project Accessory, and I am learning so much! Like how a shoe is made! Never know when that will come in handy!

I haven't made it to my sewing machine for well over a week, since returning from Houston I have only carried things in there and dropped them so I can get them in my queue. I have done some quilting, finishing up a small Christmas quilt that will be on display soon at Bear Patch, and now working on a very large quilt made from a man's shirts, a memory quilt for his widow. As I work my way through it, I wonder about where those shirts were used and worn, and think about how nice it will be for her when it is all done. I am glad to have a little part in it.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

a little hat

I showed you a picture of this hat a few days ago on the Bear Patch Blog when it was in the works. I don't have a little head to model it for you, so this jug will have to do! The literal jughead! I got as far as the fluff ball while I was traveling, but had to pause briefly. This little knobby ball is actually knitted instead of made as a pom-pom of yarn pieces. I suppose maybe this might be seen as less of a choking hazard for a baby since it can't come apart or loose like the usual pom-pom. It is created right at the end of the point of the hat, making a few rows of increases and then decreases before binding off. Before making the decreases, the inner space needs to be filled with some fiberfill. Of course, I had not packed any fiberfill for the trip! So on the first day of the Market, I went directly to the Quilter's Dream booth. I order batting on a roll from them for my longarm quilting, and it is my favorite brand. I use the Cotton Select, a thin (but not the thinnest) 100% cotton. They have a good offer for charity quilters, too, with a low price on seconds. I ordered a box of seconds for my quilt guild's projects for Quilts For Kids, and the flaws were negligible. Anyway, they also make a very nice cotton stuffing, and I picked up a little sample bag which worked out very nicely to fill the space in the knitted ball for the cap. Voila! Done!

This cap was a pattern from this book:

Thank you, Debbie, for finding this! It has several little novelty hats that will be fun to experiment with. The one I made was actually done in red and white to make a Christmas elf hat, but since my little guy won't be here in time for this Christmas, I substituted other colors. The yarns I used were Lion Brand Cotton Ease color 149 Stone and Artfibers Fauve color 11. I don't think that specific Artfibers yarn is available anymore. I purchased it a few years ago (maybe 3 or 4?) when I was visiting Jan or Brita in San Francisco. They had a nice yarn and knitting boutique near Union Square, I'm not sure if it is still there or if they have moved. They spin and manufacture their own yarns, so yarns change with fiber availability. It's kind of a dark tweedy green color, and I was surprised to see a lot of yellow-gold in the water when I washed it. The 2 yarns worked nicely together, and I am using more of the Cotton Ease for a blankie. I have started the blankie but after making about 6" I decided I wanted to change one of the colors. So I have ripped it back to start over, and in the meantime, learned from my knitting mentor/goddess (ThoraLee) about a better way to cast on so the edge will lay nice and flat. So it's a good thing to rip now and then! Thora Lee even directed me to this nice video, which helps so much! Thank you!

I also wanted to pass along a link to a wonderful online quilt show that I found this morning. It is put together by a blogger and quilter, and all of the pictures of the quilt link to the blog of the person who made it, so you can learn a little about the background. Also, when you are on Amy's Creative Side blog, check out her nice tutorials.

Monday, October 31, 2011

leaving Houston

All my bags are packed.
I'm ready to go.
I'm standin' here
Outside your, wait! Wrong millenium! Sorry John! (Denver, that is!)

A couple of quilts on display at the International Quilt Expo in Houston--

Some eye candy for you! I have been posting daily reports with pictures and even video on the Bear Patch blog so hop over there!

Friday, October 28, 2011

away from home

I'm luxuriating in the comfort of a room at the Hilton in downtown Houston, there is just something very fun about staying in a nice hotel. I think it all boils down to the fact that someone else makes my bed and gives me clean towels! My needs are basic!

Debbie and I are here for International Quilt Market, and I will be writing more over on the Bear Patch blog if you are interested. We spent most of yesterday traveling, and had a very bumpy arrival to Houston through storm clouds. We were very glad to get on the ground!

We did a little bit of personal shopping this evening, and I could not resist this bundle of fabric---

destined for a darling grandson!

I've also been playing around with a little jewelry-making lately, after finding an intriguing group of charms and trinkets at a Michael's store. It is called Industrial Chic, and I put together a necklace using some of their components mixed up with my own treasures.

It's really kind of different, but I'm liking it!

Monday, October 24, 2011

this and that

During some of my blog and random online perusing, I learned that yesterday (10/23) was the 10th anniversary of the introduction of the iPod. It's the white one above, next to my own. That was the beginning of the end for the boombox and walkman. Remember those? Some are still around, I know there are a couple tucked away in a closet somewhere in my house. But back to the iPod--were you like me and had a hard time wrapping your head around how this little thing could store and play music? It did seem strange. I'm always interested in these new techno things, but I'm not the person that runs out to buy a new gadget. Not only do I not have the disposable income to support that behavior, but I'm pretty skeptical about whether the latest greatest is a flash in the pan or here to stay. I'm happy to let others test the water. Fast forward a few years, and I was gifted a neat little iPod device, and it has been with me ever since. I just did a little research on the Apple website and found out that this 2005 version is the 2nd generation of the iPod Mini. It has a whopping 4GB storage capacity. That is miniscule by today's standards! I don't really use it for music much anymore, I somehow lost the songs I had stored on there with some update or something or other, but I do use it frequently for podcasts. I subscribe to various podcasts through iTunes, which stores any new programs for me and whenever I plug my iPod into the computer I get the updates downloaded. I love the little electronic button on the screen that says "Refresh". I think we should each have our own little personal refresh buttons to push whenever we want, and in an instant we would feel like we just woke up from an excellent sleep and stepped out of the shower! Now there's something for Apple to work on! Anyway, I don't have one of those iPod speaker gizmos, so I have figured out how to use an adaptor that fits into our cassette tape player on our stereo player, and I can listen without earbuds! This is great, because my listening happens either in the car or while I am quilting, and the earbuds are not ideal for those situations. My little 4 GB storage is enough for what I need, and I am happy with my little machine, even though it borders on antique (6 years old)!

So, you ask yourself, hasn't she been sewing anything? The answer is very little. This past week has found me at the store more hours than usual, but that's OK because my help was needed there. I have snuck in a little of this and that:

a new edition of the Baby Surprise Jacket

tracing and cutting out pieces to make this little decorative holiday design, Bareroots has packaged up kits for this and many other items, complete with everything you need except a needle!

experimenting with the shapes made by this curvy ruler

sewing sweet little baby shoes, I already made the little T-Strap style, and now will put together the Oxfords and the High Tops. I'm looking for a store that sells 12" shoelaces.

I have taken apart 6 more blocks from the antique quilt and have the pieces washed, pressed and basted to hexagon papers. They will go into my portable project bag, along with the wool project and the baby jacket. Later this week I am going to Houston to attend the International Quilt Market, and of course, I need to have some choices packed in case there is a moment of time available. Plane time is the best for reading and knitting, it's kind of nice to have no choice but to sit down for a few hours! Debbie and I are attending this trade show to purchase for Bear Patch, and we typically are on-the-go from about 7 am to 10 pm. That doesn't leave much "down time", but there might be time for a stitch or 2! If you are interested in knowing more about what goes on there, we will be putting up some pictures and stories on the store blog.

Now to get ready for the day--hope it is good for you!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

the bun in the oven

Brita and Ben's Great Expectation is developing nicely, and this little one is becoming a reality. Now that Brita can feel some kicks and notice her changing shape, I know she is more thrilled than ever. Here is the 20 week photo:

We both went to a baby shower for one of her friends last weekend, and it was nice to be among all these bright young women. It was interesting to me to observe the transitions in their lives as their conversations change from social events, clothing, concerts, etc. to how to remove stains and juggle baby/husband/career.

Our hayride event turned out great, we had a good turnout and required an extra wagon hitched on the back of the usual wagon. It was cold in the wind, but the sun helped (as did a few extra layers and blankets).

We had a good view, and probably our last view, of the old barn on one of the family farms. It is scheduled for demolition and a giant bonfire. What a great old building.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

early sunday

I woke early this morning, early for a Sunday, and decided to stop fidgeting and just get up. It is so dark again at this time of day, and earlier and earlier in the evening. I feel the winter solstice creeping up. As much as I absolutely love the looong days around midsummer's eve, there is a certain appeal to this time of darkening, too. Not much I can do to change it, so gotta love it!

I recently picked up a new book, Style Stitches by Amy Butler. I do love my bags, and am always on the lookout for the next best bag. I picked a little zip bag for my first project from this collection of bags, thinking that I could usea new little purse pack to keep my necessary things (chapstick, nail clipper, mints, etc.) in one easy spot to be transferrable to other bags. This turned out fairly well, I think the only stumbling block was the fact that it was pretty small to easily work with the details of pleating, lining, curves, bands, topstitching, pocket inside, tab loop and zipper. But it's done and serves the purpose, so I'm happy.

I dug up a little wrist strap, probably a camera attachment, to finish it off. I think there will be future bags coming out of this book--stay tuned!

Now I want to share a recent find with you, and declare my intentions--

I acquired this unfinished vintage Grandmother's Flower Garden quilt top and have been thinking about what to do with it. It is a traditional quilt using the hexagon shape, but very different than my other recent ventures with hexagons. The overall look is appealing, and it is plenty large--larger than the pool table/cutting table top. About 175 blocks according to my estimate. It does have some issues of poor construction, like blocks that won't be flat, a few holes and stains, etc. Some good examples of "make it work" construction by someone who wasn't afraid to put her own brand on a quilt by straying from the rigid rules of fabric placement!

But overall, very charming, and certainly an accomplishment even in its unfinished state. I don't know the history behind it, but I will try to learn a little more about the era of these fabrics so I can at least put some kind of date to it.

I determined that it really would not turn out very nicely to even try to make it into a quilt in its present condition. It is hand stitched without the benefit of accurate cutting and/or seams, resulting in some very odd angles and shapes in some places. But these fabrics have not only sentimental value but real value that could be preserved as a little bit of women's history. I have been having an internal debate about what to do with it. You see, I have this friend, Maggie, who encountered something similar awhile back. She decided to dismantle the blocks, clean the fabrics, re-cut and re-make them. I was sure she was nuts to take that on. But she did complete it, and it turned out beautifully. And she doesn't seem to have lost too much of her sanity! So I have started taking apart a few of the blocks to see what happens. They are a bugger to take apart, trying not to tear anything, slow going. I have decided for the time being to salvage only the colored fabrics and set aside the white muslin rows. I could more easily just replace the muslin hexagons without taking apart the old ones. I took apart one block a couple days ago, using 3/4" hexagon papers to reconstruct it. That worked, so now I am soaking 4 blocks worth of little hexagons in Vintage Textile Soak and will continue with the process. This could be a long process, ending when I am either completely done with all the blocks or completely sick of it! But I am thinking that it will be worth the effort in the end, and I could end up really liking this!

We are looking forward to a fun day today, with a ~3 hour drive to Jackson for the fall hayride hosted by Larry and Denise. Lots of other family members show up for a tour of the backroads and waysides, ending with a weinie roast and s'mores! Can't wait, I have my hotdog substitutes ready for the road, since I don't think that tofu hotdogs are on Larry's list!