Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Wild thing

It's like a jungle in here!
Looks like a safari quilt for Carol!  She has a nice soft sculpted fleece on the back--

I have one of my favorite old holiday decorations on the coffee table. 

This was scored at a garage sale a long time ago, so I'm not real sure how old it is. But it is definitely on the vintage end of the scale! It has a nice patina, kinda like me!

Saturday, October 26, 2013


Enjoying a sunny lazy Saturday morning here.  Neither Bob nor I are much for sleeping in, even on days that we don't go to work we have that internal alarm clock problem.  Amazingly, there was a day on my last retreat that I slept until about 9:00, and that is rare!

A summary of what I have been working on lately--

For the Bear Patch "I Can Sleep In My Own Bed" retreat last weekend, I put together a mystery block for those attending.  This is the second time I have done this, so I made it a 12" block just like the previous one.  That way, if someone wanted to combine the patterns they would at least be the same size.  I break down the steps of construction and dole them out slowly until the big reveal.  The store provides pieces of coordinated fabrics to be used.  It is fun to see the responses from the ladies.  This is the block we made:

Because we had some interest when Debbie posted this on Facebook, I will be writing it up as a pattern in about 6 months.  I have started on that process, and looking at everything from a tablerunner to a large quilt.

Another pattern I am working on, a custom order for my mom to use for making a quilt for Dan!  She found this block in a magazine, then asked me to help by making a bigger quilt than the magazine showed.  Thanks to EQ6, it's not so laborious as working it out with paper and pencil.  During Dan's last visit home, he showed me blue and green fabrics that he really liked, so those will be incorporated.  At first I used a gold for the star points, but that was voted off the island.  Then I tried this dark red, and that seems to satisfy.

Another part of the beauty of EQ6 is the ability to make those changes easily, then export the diagram and send to mom and Dan for their feedback.  I'm really fortunate that I have a mom who is handy with a computer so we can make good use of our time this way.  The program also calculates the total yardage needed, but I always do some double checking with my trusty calculator.  It's never been wrong, but sometimes I end up changing the yardage for borders depending on how I lay them out.  Dan's original fabric picks were batiks, they had that good saturated color that he likes.  But mom will be hand quilting this, and batiks have a higher thread count than typical quilting cotton, so that can make it harder to "needle" by hand.  I have found some very close color matches in regular quilt fabric to be used instead.  So this week my goal is to get the yardage cut, directions organized, and maybe even mailed!  The block uses a Tri-Recs ruler for cutting the star points, and I have an extra of that to send along, too.  This should be a good project to get mom through at least a good chunk of winter!

My mind must be in a creative mode, because I also have been playing around with a couple of ideas for a future quilt, looking towards Quilt MN 2014 next August!  Here's a couple samples from my design wall--

 Not sure what will come out of it, but I am trying to get a head start!

I quilted 2 baby quilts for a customer this week, here is one--

Non-traditional colors, to be sure, but that is more and more the style that young moms choose for their nurseries.  Given the right combo of print and color, it pulls together.  Orange elephants are cute!

A couple weeks ago, we went on our annual Hansen family hayride.  It was a gorgeous day, and here is Larry wandering in the sumac on the edge of the little county park we use as a gathering point.  

There is a shelter house there that has a big stone fireplace, perfect for roasting hot dogs and marshmallows after the ride.  We had a good time.

A milestone for Bob and I happened this week, when we decided to shop for a new sofa (couch, davenport) to address the problems with our aging bodies and furniture.  We need firmer cushions, low back support and seat width that prevents slouching.  We have perused 3 furniture stores, done many tush tests, and finally last night came to an agreement on a couch plus a chair!  Delivery will take a few weeks, but I am glad to be over that hurdle!

While viewing all of the great furnishing ideas, I came across this dining room set that really caught my attention.  I don't need a new dining table/chairs, but our chair seats could use reupholstery.  If I am going to do that, maybe I should experiment with some paint, too?

Actually, I just need someone to do this for me and I would be happy!  We shall see what we can work out!

Here's an example of when I should learn to leave well enough alone--

My oven.  Which had not been cleaned in quite a long time.  Used the self-clean cycle on Tuesday.  Nice and clean, and staying that way because now the control panel won't work!  During the clean cycle the door locks and the controls lock.  After the cycle finished, the door unlocked but forgot to tell the control panel to unlock!  We managed to slide the oven out from the wall enough to unplug and re-plug, hoping that would reset the control.  No luck.  Waiting for the service guy who is supposed to come tomorrow.  With a little luck we will be back in working order without a lot of hassle.  Keep your fingers crossed!

*****  "In the end, what affects your life most deeply are the things too simple to talk about." *****

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Big bucket

I have been able to get a little bit of time to continue working on some previously started projects. Most of the things that I worked on at the retreat fell into that category, and it's going to be awhile before I hit the bottom of the pile.

This big bucket was probably about 75% done at another time and I'm not sure what interrupted me. It is a design that I pulled from the sew4home website. I did end making a change in the pattern, combining the best of this pattern with the best of the Bucket Brigade pattern by Atkinson Designs. Now it is Ian's toy bucket!

I have worked on some customer quilts lately, and this one from Sharon is now happily back with her. It is a pattern from Bareroots and includes 12 little cottages that depict the 12 months of the year. Quilting on a hand embroidered quilt presents a few different challenges. It needs to be done carefully to enhance all of the hard work that has already gone into it. 
I try to run an unobtrusive line of stitching into the design so there isn't too much open space, but not stitch too much. I hope I manage to strike a good balance!

Tonight has been a happy bit of Ian time and he has a wave for you!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Comforts of home

So good to have a vacation and so good to be back in my "natural surroundings" again. 
We had a good deal of rain during the last couple of days in Cumberland. The rain along with wind really brought down a lot of the beautifully colored leaves. I was glad I had taken this picture before that. 
Again, I was experimenting with the panorama feature on my new camera phone. This one was a success. Also still getting used to writing a blog post on this thing!  I haven't figured out how to resize pictures, move them around, align type and pictures, and create a live link. Any guidance or tips are welcome!

Sharing a picture of a great quilt put together by Joyce--
The silhouette blocks were a printed panel. The choice of the colored leaves on a black background is the perfect complement. 

I added some rows to my applecore quilt. These are big, about 10" or so in the long direction, so despite sewing slowly for all of those curves, the quilt grows quickly. 

Just a couple more rows, I think, to get the size I want. I consider this a "free" quilt. That means no fabric was directly purchased for it! It was from pieces already in the collection or obtained from repurposed pieces.

Now to get busy on my list for the day!  Plenty to check off before I get to go play with Ian tonight!

Saturday, October 5, 2013

stitch by stitch

A bunch of pictures coming your way!

The Girl Gang:
Back row:  Nancy, Lois, Sue, Mary
Front row:  Joyce, Leisl
 Lots and lots of partial seams in this one!  
The pieces are all together, now it needs quilting and binding.
Jambalaya by Prairie Sky Quilting

A partial tote bag constructed, but I am lacking a good chunk of fabric for the lining.

Mary Lee's Tote by Totes by Sandy

quilty keychains
 Leisl assembled these quilt guild blocks with her go-to sashing design.
This really pulls together a mix of blocks and makes them appear much more cohesive.
Thora Lee's Christmas quilt
 Then Leisl stitched up another Christmas quilt--
Lady Fingers by Cozy Quilt Designs

And I started work on some Christmas stockings for new members of the family.  
One for Ian, one for the next grandchild, and one for a spare!

I keep adding to our row of matching Christmas stockings, pretty soon I will need a bigger mantle!
 Pattern is out of print, designed by Thimbleberries.
 A traditional log cabin made from lots of floral scraps by Joyce.

We are enjoying the pleasure of living sorta worry free for a few days.  It's kind of surreal to be a short distance away from home geographically, but in a whole other space mentally.
I've been experimenting with the panorama feature on my new iphone, so I can show you our sewing room in one big view--

Today is our last full day here, so we are getting serious about getting some projects done!  
More to share in the near future!

Thursday, October 3, 2013

things learned

Wisdom shared is wisdom gained.  
So here are things I have learned this week--

Our new favorite iron is the Turbo Steam Master by Sunbeam.
Purchased at Costco for about $30.
We have been using 2 for about 16 hours a day for 4 days with zero complaints.

Sometimes bigger is not better.
We were using up a large bag of wool strips to make felted pincushions.  The strips are wound up tightly and fastened with a rubber band.  They are tied up inside a nylon stocking, then washed and dried a few times.  They usually come out looking cute like these--

But we had a few casualties of the wraps that were on the large size, they sort of burst and turned out more like softballs than pincushions!

Pellon 44F is a good thing.
Tshirt quilts continue to be a popular choice for high school and college students, so there have been a couple of them assembled during our time here. 

The interfacing of choice is Pellon P44F, applied to the wrong side of the tshirt sections and then sewn into the quilt to stabilize the knit and make it much more useable.

Clear Windex is just the ticket 
for removing pencil marks from fabric.  
Who knew??

Squash can be delicious!

Even though I'm not a big fan of squash, I had a second helping of Nancy's squash soup at lunch today.  

Here is Nancy's recipe:

1 Sunshine squash
1 Sweet Mama squash
(or any squash of your choice)
Cook in the microwave until soft, then after they are cooled peel them and chop them up.

In a large pot, melt 1/2 cup butter.  Add:
1 large onion, diced
2 ribs of celery, diced
Saute until translucent.

Add the chopped up squash and chicken or vegetable broth to cover.  Cook for "awhile" until the squash gets very soft but not completely mushy.
Use an immersion blender and blend some of the lumps out.
Add 2 tablespoons (roughly) of Tuscan seasoning from Costco, 1 can coconut milk and salt to taste.
Serve and enjoy!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Fiber field trip

An outing to Spooner today to Thimbles
Quilt Shop!
And yesterday found us in at Busy Bobbin in Rice Lake. 
I took a moment to snap this example of some of the gorgeous fall foliage. 

Time to walk over to the yarn shop, Northwinds Fiber and Book. Trying to resist being pulled into the bakery on my way past. What a fortunate combo, fabric, yarn, books and bakery all in a row!

cute to boot

Look at these little gems---zombiekeys!  Now I have no doubt about which key is which.  
Thanks, Nancy!

I'm savoring some days of quilting retreat at Beaver Lake Landing in Cumberland, WI.  Here are some things I have been working on---

a soft cuddly quilt

borders applied to a well-aged quilt, taking care to get those miters even!

And Strip Ribbons by GE Designs.

More to come tomorrow!  Happy October to you!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

autumn wanderings

We have had some very fun family time lately.  Our son, Dan, came from Whitefish, MT, for a very nice vacation.  We took the opportunity to take Ian for an overnight at our house and a field trip on a beautiful fall day.  We went to Chisago City to visit Winehaven Winery.  While Bob and Dan sampled their wines, which proved to be a good experience, Ian and I explored the building and grounds.

We meandered south along the St. Croix river and took a break for a little playtime at a small orchard.  Ian really liked the cornbox and scooping up the kernels and feeling them drop on his cap when Uncle Dan played, too!

We continued down the river to Stillwater for a lunch stop, then over to Pinetree Apple Orchard in White Bear Lake.  We had such a great time and ended up with a very tired but happy little boy who had no problems falling asleep that night!  It is such a good feeling to know that he is happy to spend the day with us doing things that he is totally not used to doing.  He is at an age when separating from mom and dad can be kind of tough.  Helping him through that and spending time learning new things is the best thing ever!