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!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

a legacy

I am sad that Steve Jobs died, someone I have never met, yet familiar in many ways. Especially with my fingers on this keyboard that can trace its history back to a garage at his parents' house. What a great success ! I just watched this video and felt compelled to share it.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

glue, part 2

Do you ever get a bee in your bonnet about something and just can't give it up? That's what happened to me with another new glue. Sometime in the not so distant past, I read about Tombow Mono Aqua glue on someone else's blog. I can't find that reference any more, so I don't know who to credit for that bee in my bonnet. It was something related to sewing or crafting, and I wrote down the name in my little calendar/notebook/address book, the old-fashioned paper kind, not electronic. I looked it up online to find a source locally, and found Office Depot was probably the most likely spot for me. But I discovered that there are few of those stores around here, they have been drowned out by Office Max, I think. I go to Office Max often to pick up supplies, and kept checking their glue shelves to see if this would show up. Same with JoAnns and Michaels, I kept lurking in the glue aisles and I was probably flagged by security crews as a glue bomb suspect! I did finally find an Office Depot just recently, and got all keyed up to score some special glue, but none to be found. :-(
Cut to last Saturday at Bargain Bill's in Rice Lake, WI. Debbie and I stopped at this familiar landmark for savvy shoppers, hoping to find some display props or paper products for the shop. As I was cutting through from the silk flowers to yarns, I passed through the black hole of scrapbooking supplies. This is a craft that I can't let myself get sucked into! So I tried to breeze through, not making eye contact with the lovely papers and gadgets and pens and embellishments. It's so hard! I had almost made my way into beading (another black hole for me!) when I noticed GLUES! And lo and behold, TOMBOW! I almost had to laugh, because this was the last thing I would have thought I would find that day, and not only the one with the blue cap, but 2 other types, as well! Of course, I had to purchase a sampling, and now I am going to test them out to see why they came so highly recommended. The key element that makes this all worthwhile for me is that there are dual tips--a fine point and a broad applicator--and that fine point is what I need as long as it doesn't clog. So far, no clogging. This has been a big item for scrapbookers so I probably could have found it at a scrapbooker's store if I had figured that out. I will have to follow up on that, because driving to Rice Lake for a bottle of glue would not be a wise thing to do!

I'm not just into glue--
I finished this baby size Chill Pill, I love the way this backing fabric fit with the blocks, and it was in my stash for years just waiting for the right moment.

And now this little flannel quilt is on the frame and will be quilted and finished lickety-split!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

weekend away

I had a chance to "escape" for the weekend, this time Bob couldn't accompany me (very important golfing commitments!) so I went to Potato Lake Friday to stay with Debbie and Bob (her Bob, not my Bob) a couple nights. They have a sweet little spot there, an old cabin that they have worked hard to update and make comfortable. It's only about a 2 hour drive, so easy to get to. Here's the opposite shoreline in the morning when the lake was still:

The leaves are starting to change, it was a beautiful drive. I had to be careful not to swerve when I spotted another gorgeous tree. It was a little chilly Saturday AM (around 40!) and the steam was rising off the water, making a good setting for Halloween--

When you have a lake place, most people spend a good deal of their time working on maintenance and improvement, it's not all sit-back-and-relax! Bob replaced 2 sections of aging fence--

Debbie and I took a drive up to Cranberry Fest in Stone Lake, along with a few thousand other people! A little town without a stoplight, packed full of people and all things cranberry for one day every year!

It was sort of like the State Fair descending on a little village. We did wander around long enough to find some goodies like cranberry honey, cranberry jam and cranberry salsa. Found a few Christmas gift ideas amongst the craft booths, so it was a fruitful journey! There were also opportunities to buy cranberries in bulk, both fresh and dried. And visiting the cranberry bog was a popular sidetrip.

Back at the ranch, I experimented with this Autumn Brittle--

Let me just say that I have no responsibility for lost fillings, crowns or teeth or pounds gained! And I discovered there is a very, very fine line between hot enough sugar and burned sugar!

Big Big Thanks to Bob and Debbie for a wonderful weekend!