Monday, January 31, 2011

putting the puzzle together again

I am thoroughly enjoying the state of my sewing room! It is sort of in pieces, and I am taking my time putting it all back together again. I showed you some pictures not long ago that depicted the "before". Then I left on vacation, not quite sure if this would be something that Bob would be interested in doing without me. Well, I can tell you that I have the world's best husband! Not only did he carry out the original plan to repaint, he also ripped out the old carpet and laid new laminate wood flooring! This DIY project started out with the need to hang my fabulous Vanishing Design Wall, a gift from Bob for Christmas (which shocked my socks off that he remembered I liked it from some brief conversation awhile back, I guess he really does listen sometimes!). Here is my new design wall in place:
When I decided which wall I wanted it on, we took down some shelves and knick-knacky stuff and posters, etc., on that wall. That left some big screwholes on a basically ugly sponge painted wall. The original blue was Dan's request when we built the house in 1989, then added the white overlay about 10 years later when the room became my "studio" and Dan moved to his new kingdom in the remodeled basement. So it was due for an update. That brought me to decide to just continue with the removal of "stuff" and picked up a bucket of pale gray paint for the walls. Since the closet was all full of built-in shelving and bushels of fabric, I decided it didn't really need painting like the rest of the room and just left that all there. I departed on my trip, and Bob and I chatted on the phone about the state of the paint. To my surprise, he decided this would be the time to change the floor, too, which I totally agreed with but was a little leery that this would be a long project, plus I wasn't home to pick out color and type. Well, I needn't have worried because when I got back home there were only about 2 board-widths left to be laid! And it looks maaah- velous!
I am taking my sweet time with putting things back in there because I wanted to cut down on the clutter and distraction that was in there. So it looks kind of bare, but that's OK for now. Because the flooring needed to extend into the closet, Bob had to clear that out and remove all the shelving units, which was a daunting task. The only downside for me is that he ended up handling every bit of fabric that I had tucked away in there, bringing him to the realization that there was enough to keep me going for a long time! Ooops! I am sorting and weaning the collection down a bit as I make my way back through it, and thinking about the best ways to organize it that might be an improvement on what I did before. The drawers hold my small cuts (fat quarters and less) and are sorted by color. That part is done.
There's a bit more to go.....

But I was inspired to add a saying to my wall to reflect my thoughts--
No heavy hearts allowed! Now back to the sorting!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

travel tips

Since I just got back from a quilting trip, and I talk to many people at the store who go on retreats and trips for quilting and sewing, I thought I would pass along some of the things that work well for me when I go places with my gear. I have attended many retreats in various locations, hosted retreats, travelled with sewing friends on long trips and short ones. I have figured out that the trip goes so much better if I am organized and prepared.

I am a fan of LISTS, so I have my own customized list for sewing trips. I print it out and check off the things that I need to make sure I have with me. Even the obvious things go on my list, because it is a real bummer to get to your destination and realize that you don't have a cord or foot pedal for your machine. Been there, done that! Won't happen again!
A key to success is WHEELS! Try to find ways to move your stuff around with the help of rolling--save some strain and work from the get-go.
A few years ago one of our group snagged these rolling storage bins called the Busy Box from a local home store. Now I can only track them down online or from the Container Store and they cost about $40.
These compartments all separate and then snap back together with the little buckle things on the sides. This has travelled many miles and held up pretty well, considering it is just plastic and weighs very little empty.

The best sewing machine tote that I have found is from Tutto-- I have to admit that I just looked at their website and found one of the cheesiest videos ever! Oh well, they may not do good videos but they make an excellent product!
I have the large size and it holds way more than just my machine, I tuck in projects, lights, rulers, books, fans, thread, etc. The best thing about this bag is that it steers and swivels so easily in all directions. They come in several sizes and colors, we order them for customers at Bear Patch Sewing Center.

I take my own chair along if I am going to be sewing for a couple days, helps prevent back aches. This one is from Horn and is so much lighter to lift than many others, plus very comfy.
Again, available in different colors and can be ordered from Bear Patch Sewing Center.

My newest acquisition for my sewing pleasure is this SewEzi table, here it is folded up and ready to roll. (Strange angle in this picture, made even odder by the fact that the door it is leaning against is off the hinges and resting sideways on the floor! Such is the state of my sewing room at the moment, more on that soon!)
This is not the most lightweight item in my list, but needs to have some weight to it to be sturdy enough to not wobble under extreme sewing conditions!

My last item on wheels today is maybe a bit much for some situations, but priceless when it comes to a road trip with friends!
This is the quilting trailer, resting in a snowbank between trips. A fresh dusting of snow this morning. When I was part owner of Stitchin' Trips we found it necessary to purchase a corporate trailer for our gear. Haven't reached the level of corporate jet, yet! So this trailer is reserved for sewing stuff and an occasional load of kids belongings for college! Also makes a good storage room for freezeables!

Now, for all the small stuff that needs to accompany me, the key word is CONTAINERIZE! For projects to be made, I go through the steps of the pattern ahead of time so I can make sure I have everything called for. Then I bag it all up together and stash it in a bin or box. I try to do as much rotary cutting at home as possible, it's nice to be able to sit down at my machine and start the sewing later. Of course, package and label those little pieces. That's why you need an assortment of bags--
Multiple sizes required, colors are fun!

My little sewing necessities live in this basket which sits by my machine both at home and away. It doesn't have a lid, but fits right in the top level of myBusy Box. I know right where everything is. See the 2 round Altoid tins? One is for my tape measure and the other is for used blades, bent and broken pins and needles. I keep my spare sewing machine needles in the zipper bag, and have another little bag for pens, pencils, markers. Rotary cutter and big scissors are usually in here, too. I know that I can pick up this basket and have everything I need without extra junk.

Thread spools in many colors have to be part of the trip, and this box was made for those little Hot Wheels cars but is perfect for my purpose.
It is double sided, this half is my Aurifil (current favorite thread) and the back side holds other back-up spools and specialty threads. I still occasionally have to root around in Leisl's thread store now and then for a unique color, she stocks one whole level of her Busy Box with thread, including many "vintage" finds. Those would be the threads on wooden spools that we just can't part with but will probably break with a little strain! I can see Debbie shudder right now!

When I am gone for a week of sewing, I have a lot more to pack than will fit in my Busy Box. The best solution is to use boxes of some sort rather than bags. The boxes are stackable and safer for the contents. Lots of people use plastic storage bins, but I also like to use those cardboard boxes that printer paper comes in because they don't get too heavy to handle.

So that is about enough for now, I need to go unpack!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

a little treasure

As someone who likes to give handmade gifts, I feel very special when I receive something that has been crafted by a person of a similar mind. So I was thrilled at Christmas when I was given a very unique gift from Mary Kaiser (mother of my son-in-law) that she had designed and made for me. Inside a shiny gold box I found a totally decked out walnut! It hangs from a velvet ribbon and actually opens up like a locket.
Except this locket holds a mini sewing kit! The inside is covered in velvet and contains a tiny thimble, spool of thread, safety pin, and a needle and straight pins wrapped in gold tissue! I am in awe of the detailed work that went into making this. Just getting the right parts in place and glued together would take me forever!
Mary makes and sells wonderful bags and accessories from her website and on Etsy. You can also find her on Facebook. I had wanted to share these pictures with you for awhile but just didn't get around to it, and then yesterday I found that Mary had put up some pictures on Facebook showing her special walnuts and that jogged my memory enough to get this on here. Again, I thank you, Mary! And how great that the kids get to ski today with Dan at Mammoth Mt.! They do have a good time!

I am settling back into being at home and happy to be here. We had a great stay in Chicago (actually Long Grove) at the home of Kelly and Ken Friend. Our quilting friend, Diane, is Kelly's mom and is staying there but we miss her so much that we had to make sure to get there for a visit. And became Chicago Bears fans for the weekend, too! It was a bad result for the Bears, but a good party with wonderful food. Chef Ken knows his way around the kitchen, and kept everyone well nourished! My only regret was that I had some kind of stomach bug that prevented me from enjoying it as well as I would have liked to, but that only means I will have to make a return trip! I actually slept for almost the entire 7 hour drive home, and today feel back to normal. Right now listening to Bob nailing down the baseboard in my sewing room after finishing the new floor! Pictures coming soon to a blog near you!

Friday, January 21, 2011

out and about

Yesterday we celebrated not going to the dentist for over 48 hours by taking a little sightseeing drive around thepeninsula that is Door County. We didn't find much action, it is sort of a deserted time of year here for the most part, with many businesses closed for the winter. We even had a hard time finding a spot for lunch!
Nancy stopped here for a photo op, trying out her new camera. And here is a good shot of my girls---
A few more completed projects--
a little zipper bag from scraps
binding completed on a quilt that will likely be donated to a breast cancer auction
4 little "mug rugs", although these are big enough to be a mini-placemat! These are made from a pattern by Sweetwater Street and included a personalized printed label
and some progress on my batik hap quilt, which has been a few years in the making. These are some of the pieces so far.
And that just about sums it all up for now. We have started packing up our stuff for loading up in the AM, then a drive to Chicago. Of course, we are right in the middle of Packers and Bears territory, and I have heard some rumor about a game this weekend? Actually, we can't turn on the TV without being bombarded with Green Bay propaganda, which will change to Bears propaganda tomorrow! We will try to steer clear of the mess!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

full moon

Some things I've been working on:
above, a little flannel baby quilt from a kit that is very well aged, the pattern is out of print and the fabric is long gone, so I can't tell you much other than that it is pretty cute!
Also, a little quilt to donate to Quilts For Kids, one of 3 that I have put together this week.

Finished the binding on this, my own Tot Spot pattern. Some cute fabric that I had been saving for awhile, now it can be added to my reserve of baby quilts so I have one handy for the next baby occasion. Right now I have 3 upcoming little ones that will be needing a quilt.

These blocks below are the start of a new quilt that will be a sample and/or class at Bear Patch. I am making it from a group of Japanese Kinkame fabrics from a pattern called Civil War March from Yellow Creek Quilt Designs.
And tonight we are treated to a beautiful view from our window (it's too dang cold to go outside!)---

A beautiful Wisconsin moon--kind of looks like a giant wheel of cheese! Here in the land of beer and cheese, we are loving every minute! Even on my second visit to the local dentist yesterday. Note to self, in the future, do not have any dental work done within a month of travel. Yes, the temporary crown came off again yesterday, but this time I didn't have to try to put it back in place myself. Because this time, I swallowed it. Yup, down the hatch. But the dentist and her assistant were so nice, they gave me a replacement and so far, so good! Although I am kind of paranoid about loosening it again so I think it would be a good time to just go on a liquid diet!

Monday, January 17, 2011

an excellent Monday

All is well in Wisconsin, although we weathered a storm today with plenty of blowing snow. Mostly observed from the cozy warmth of our sewing condo, as we enjoyed hour after hour of cutting, stitching, movies, and some good food and beverage when needed. We do have to keep our strengthup!
We are staying at The Rushes at Baileys Harbor and loving it. We even have a garage! That make unloading our trailer so easy, we have experienced some much worse unloading scenarios in our travels. But before we got here Saturday, we made a stop at Primitive Gatherings in Menasha, WI. This is a great quilt shop with many samples and kits and patterns that were looking for a ride home with us! You can see our happy faces as proof that this was a good place to find!
Since getting ourselves settled in to our condo, we have been pulling together projects and ideas non-stop. One of the things we (all 3 of us in one way or another) are working on is a bunch of teeny 9-patch blocks that will eventually be joined into a quilt of some type. These are some of my squares:
Each little square is 1" when completed. So far, we have been making lots of little blocks and talking about ways to use them. We have used this book for inspiration.

Finished the binding on this quilt, which I have blogged about earlier and had quilted before leaving home. Other activities--3 little baby quilts for charity donation, pinwheel samples for teaching, prairie point samples for teaching and a flannel baby quilt.
Plus this morning I had to make time to become acquainted with a local dentist to have my temporary crown tuned up after my DIY dentistry activity yesterday. The crown came off, and since it was Sunday I made do with some dental adhesive purchased at Walgreen's until I could contact the dentist recommended by a woman working here. Turned out to be fairly easy to adjust so my jaw is not aching as badly, and with any luck it will stay put until the real deal gets installed in 2 weeks. Oh, the joys of maturity!
And speaking of maturity, my baby girl turns 31 today! How did that happen?!
I think you can see the Hansen lineage in this picture! Love to my beautiful girl!

Friday, January 14, 2011

on the road again

I showed you Deb's quilt a few days ago while it was on the quilting frame. I am happy to report that it is now off the frame and went home with Deb last night. Because of the challenging arrangement of blocks it took me a little while to come up with a design that would fit into the "wheel" of this wagonwheel block. I ended up doing a lot of these:
looping scrolls in varying sizes to fill in the spaces. Once I get into the rhythm they are hard to stop!

And today I am celebrating the start of a great vacation. This is my girlfriend getaway with Nancy and Leisl, great traveling partners. Here is some of my stuff in the staging area, waiting for final packing andthen loading into the official Stitchin' Trips trailer.

We headed east this morning, into the land of cheese, which can be a hard road for us lactose intolerants! We are staying in Appleton tonight, went out to see Country Strong for our evening entertainment and popcorn binge. Pretty good show, a few tears were shed. Our only real problem with the show was that the speaker system was not working well, bass notes were real buzzy, and for a show about country music singers that was not good.

I left my sewing room looking forlorn, but I think it will be looking much better when I return in a week. It started with a plan to hang my new design wall, a lovely gift from my precious husband, I was totally surprised that he had even remembered that I had shown him a picture once. Hanging it on the sewing room wall made the most sense to me so it would be within easy reach. That meant taking down some wall shelves and a lot of decor and misc. stuff pinned to the walls. That left one bare ugly wall with big holes from the shelving screws. This room was first painted blue when it was Dan's room. Then a few years later he changed to another room and this room became Julie's room, so we got really creative and sponge painted white over the blue. For a long time I wanted to repaint, but always felt overwhelmed by the thought of removing everything. But when I saw one wall was bare, I came to the conclusion that the time is now to get a clean coat of paint. So here are some recent photos of the collection of stuff that
is usually in my room, and the only things remaining are the wooden table and the gray metal cabinet. The rest I was able to remove to other temporary homes nearby. And then I bought paint and left town! Hoping that the good painting spirits will be present in my home (Bob) and feel free to get the job done! There will have to be a big reveal when I get home!

When I talked to Bob tonight he was mumbling something about emptying out the closet to remove the shelves and lay new flooring, I think he may have been delirious! I had intended to just cover it with plastic until the painting was done, but if flooring is changing that's a whole other ballgame! I'm a little afraid that if he has to actually handle and pack up all the stuff in there, he might start to wonder about my purchasing plan. I'm not sure he knows that there is no purchasing plan, I just plan to purchase whatever meets my needs!
This could be an interesting vacation!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

pioneer woman

One thing I like to do when I have time on the keyboard is reading other people's blogs. I find good ones and bad ones. I find ideas I want to remember and things I would prefer to forget. I have discovered how to get email notifications of updates on my favorite blogs, which is a cool thing. I need to update the sidebar of my own blog to share some of these, will work on that! Today I am wanting to share a site with you that is fun and inspiring. The Pioneer Woman. I'm not sure how I stumbled upon it, but I have returned frequently. What first sucked me in was reading Black Heels to Tractor Wheels, the story of her courtship and marriage to Marlboro Man.
This story is actually a soon-to-be-released book, so expect a good saga. In addition to this romance novella, her site is full of good stuff about family, food, homeschooling, photography and the list goes on. Today I am making the Chicken Tortilla Soup that is among her recipes. She includes lots of pictures of the cooking process, which makes it easy for people like me who aspire to be better cooks but don't make a career of it. In the photography section there are some awesome pictures of prairie and sky, 2 of my favorite things! So pop on over there and see what is cookin'!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

dan's day

It was only 2 weeks ago that Dan returned to Mammoth Lakes after his Christmas vacation here. Seems like longer. So I was looking back at some pictures he has sent us--
He moved there for a job with the Mammoth Mountain ski resort after searching for something that he liked and could use his degree in mass communications. This was about 3 years ago, I think, and jobs were not plentiful. He had looked in the Twin Cities area for months, making do with "gap" jobs. I call them gap jobs because they are something to fill in the gap, not working for The Gap! But thanks to his gap job at IKEA, he now can tell me where everything is in that store! Something else needed to happen, and since we have family ties to CA, he packed up his truck and headed west, not knowing what would evolve. Thank God for good family, allowing him to afford to live there until he found his job at Mammoth. A seasonal job as snow reporter, renting a room in "company housing" and skiing whenever possible--what's not to love!
Through persistence and hard work and some luck, he has been able to continue to work for Mammoth Mountain year-round and is their Public Relations Manager. This job seems to be made for him, he is always full of positivity when I ask him about his work, and he loves to make connections with people which is a lot of what his job takes.
I am writing about this because I think a lot of people, especially young people, are searching for jobs and direction. I think that Dan's path shows that good things can happen. There were problems and bumps and troubles and worries and tears along the way, to be sure. But he tried to stay positive and has benefitted in the long run.
There is another angle to his career that I find very interesting. His work does involve a lot of video media and tech stuff, but the underlying basis all revolves around the written word. Dan was not a lover of the written word as a kid. I used to strain my brain to come up with ways to interest him in reading. Something happened along the way to change that, I credit his HS teacher, Mrs. Beyer. I saw a huge change in his attitude when he was in her English class. For all you teachers out there, remember that one teacher can really mean the world to a student.
So have a happy Tuesday, Dan! You are the best!

Monday, January 10, 2011

merry monday

I'm indulging in a little "me" time for the moment after about 2 hours in the dentist's chair this morning. Seems like I had 4 hands and at least a dozen instruments crammed in my mouth at once! Glad to have that over with, and the procedure itself was nearly painless, but my jaw doesn't accommodate this stuff very well and even though I pre-medicate I feel the headache coming on. So much for a fun Monday morning!
Last week I read about this new pen on another blog and I can't remember which blog, but I have tried it out for myself.
It disappears with heat (or enough friction to generate heat) and can be used on fabric. They cost about $2 each at the office supply stores, slightly more on the Pilot website. The results of my preliminary testing:

I drew 2 scribbles in blue on white fabric, ironed one of them and it immediately disappeared! I did wash the sample, and the doodle seemed to faintly show up when it was damp, but was gone again when it was dry. It doesn't work on real dark fabrics. I guess I would continue to use it cautiously until I have tried it out in more situations. But it could come in really handy now and then, and isn't costly.

What's on my frame:
I don't know the name of this block, it was put together by Deb L. and is going to be one fine quilt when it's all done.
In the queue:
I call it the colorblock quilt, put together by Little Sis. I have been playing with threads to find the right colors, even resorting to using the colorwheel so I canput the complimentary colors on the solids.
One great Christmas present was a new pair of socks from Keen. Not your ordinary socks, these are made in a left/right pair, they are even labelled so I can be sure I have them in the right place. They are quite comfortable.
So that's the update from the frozen tundra!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

a spot of color

I was trying to take some pictures of the downy woodpeckers (3 of them) at the suet feeders this morning. They startled and flew away before I had a good shot, but as I was trying to compose the shot (as all professional photographers do!) I realized how gray it was outside. Well, shades of gray, white and black. Then I remembered that this scarf was drying on the table downstairs, and when I picked it up it was a day brightener!
This was something that I knitted to possibly be a gift but without a definite recipient. Well, I think that person is me! I don't think I have anything in my wardrobe, maybe not even in my house, that is this color. I thought maybe it was a little "out there", maybe something someone else would look great in, but not my typical personal choice. But sort of wishing that it would be my own and that it would bring me to become so very stylish with this lovely color sort of casually draped around my shoulders. I guess there's still a dreamer in all of us! This design comes from the Ravelry website and is designed by Martina Behm. It is called 22.5 Degree Scarf because, well, the 2 tail end angles are 22.5 degrees instead of the usual 45 degrees. I like that because it gives better length to wrap and tie. The yarn was bought on a whim from Thora Lee's Clearance Sale, 4 balls of Artyarns Superwash Merino wool. I probably paid as much for the 4 balls as one would normally cost, so I am liking that! It is maybe kind of a sport weight yarn and I used up 2 1/2 balls making this. I learned how to make that cute scalloped edge finish for this, I had never done anything like that before so that was a good learning experience. Other than that, the knitting was very smooth, all garter stitch (knit all rows) with increases on the ends of each row and in the center of every third row. It was suitable for car knitting and tv watching. I did make this before from a bulky yarn and I might like to make it again, it is that easy and rewarding. I like wearing it with the center point in front and the ends wrapped to the front just for something different. And because on these cold days it is really handy to do this...