Thursday, February 27, 2014


While my sewing machine takes charge and merrily stitches along, I simply need to be present to change thread colors when it tells me to and try to intercept any problems that might arise.  So, of course, I need something to keep my hands busy.  This is one of the wool applique projects that I brought along--

It is a pattern by Buttermilk Basin, By Thy Hands September, and will become part of the block-of-the-month series that I am starting at Bear Patch.  This wool portion is sewn by hand and then joined with a traditional quilt block that is sewn by machine.  The best of both worlds!

Barb, one of the ladies attending the retreat with us is sporting this lovely bracelet, a gift from her lovely husband!

It comes from an Etsy shop for Blackberry Designs.  They can make them for all sorts of interests and people and hobbies and occupations.

I am loving this new project bag that my kids gave me for Christmas.

It actually is a knitting bag, and that is how I have been using it until I packed up for this trip and realized that it would be great for toting my handwork projects.  It comes from the Tom Bihn company.  Made in Seattle and co-designed with the people at Knitty Magazine, a great source for wonderful knitting designs.  There are pockets and stuff sacks and pouches and leashes to coordinate in wonderful saturated colors.  This is the Little Swift.  I thoroughly love this tote bag and all of its features.

Oh, and by the way, Tom Binh makes lots of other neat stuff, like backpacks and messenger bags and briefcases.  Check it out!

I think Ian is developing his own creative side, now using his pajamas for a hat!  Such a style icon!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

embroidery fun

I am learning some great new things for my sewing machine functions.  I think this all supports my sewing habit, and further justifies the purchase of fabric and notions!
I have started embroidering some designs on the machine that will go into a little "quiet book" for the grandson(s).  This is called R is for Robot and comes from the OESD company via  The very best part of this project is the 3-D glasses that come with it!  When you look through those glasses the thread colors seem to come to the front or recede to the back, giving that 3D look.  Maybe it will be more fun for the grown-ups than the little boys, but that's fine by me!

And down below is the collection of stars that I have embroidered to make a wall-hanging size project.  There is still quite a bit of finishing to do, but the star embroidery is all done.  I have to trim down and then sew together all of these blocks, then decide whether to continue on with the embroidered border blocks, or just call it good and but on a binding!  I am leaning towards the latter, what do you think?

I am spending the rest of the week at Bridge Creek Cottage in August, WI, for the Bear Patch retreat for machine embroiderers.  They are arriving soon!  I am part worker bee and part sewist on this trip, so I can help with serving the meals and clean-up.  It's a good group of women, mostly known through our connection with the store.  Very fun to spend the time together, and last year I learned so much from everyone here.  I am fighting off a cold and experiencing some laryngitis, so not much of a conversationalist.  I am not normally know as a jabberjay to begin with, but having this squeaky voice that comes and goes doesn't help at all!

Did you catch the reference to The Hunger Games?  Bob and I finished listening to the recorded 3 book series of this story, and have watched the first 2 movies.  Although quite "dark" and tough to listen to in some sections, it was overall a good read.

Two other books recently finished:

Micro is an intriguing story of science gone wrong, just like other Michael Crichton books.  This one is set in Hawaii and involves miniaturization of people.  Itty bitty people that become prey to bugs and spiders that dwarf them!
Roadside Crosses is a mystery novel set in Pacific Grove, a town on the Monterey peninsula of California.  Since I had the good fortune of visiting there last spring, it held names and descriptions of some things familiar to me.  The mystery is wrapped up in the world of online fantasy games and blogging!  Not this blogger!
Both books were enjoyable but not great works of literature.  Right now I am reading Lord of the Flies by William Golding, supposedly a great work of literature.  I heard it was sort of like a precursor to the Hunger Games.  But it has a lot of references to things that don't make total sense to me, either because it was written in another time and place, or because it is bedtime and I keep falling asleep!  I will have to look up the Cliff Notes!

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Morning thoughts

A little bit of fun to brighten your day--
A keyboard for my phone!  Yes, our good old typewriter has become an icon on its own.  Do you remember typing class? I think I had the formal typing class in junior high (grades 7-8) and we learned on those big old black machines.  No need to chain them down to prevent theft because they were too heavy to move!

When I was out getting groceries yesterday I gave in to my impulse and brought home a pretty bouquet. 

They might help distract my mind from the cold and snowy scene outside. I don't dwell much on talking or writing about the weather since I pretty much figure that I do live in a spot that is bound to be wintry. But my mind is boggled by the fact that 2 weeks from today we change to daylight savings time!  That usually signals springtime is near but I am not feeling one iota of it!  Our snow is deeper now than any recent winters and our temp is single digits!  Enough!

 The grill needs digging out and there is a table under that snow somewhere. Might need a few more flowers!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

fabric for your lifetime

I just heard about a contest that you might want to check out.  It is sponsored by Quilter's Club of America and Keepsake Quilting.  They are giving a grand prize of "a lifetime supply of fabric" plus additional one-year supplies for the runner-ups.  (Or is that runners-up?)

You still have time to enter your name, but the contest ends next week on 2/28, so don't delay.  And, after reading the fine print, which I seldom do on contests, I learned that you can enter daily!  And, if you enter by clicking this link, I get an extra chance, too.  And I'm pretty sure I will be in a sharing mood with my lifetime supply, since I think I already have a lifetime supply upstairs in my stash!

And how do these contest organizers define a lifetime supply?  Simply put, it is one yard a week for 20 years!  The fabric is selected by the winner from the Keepsake Quilting store, so there is plenty to choose from.  Keepsake operates one of the first and best fabric ordering operations that I know of.  Back before I started working at Bear Patch, and before easy access to the internet, I paid a lot more attention to my little Keepsake catalogs to keep me current on new fabrics and notions.

They crammed a lot of little pictures of fabric samples into their pages.  I used to "bookmark" my favorites, i.e., fold over the corner of the page the old-fashioned way!  Lots of pages folded over!  In August, 2007, I traveled with 3 good friends to New England, and we shopped at the brick-and-mortar Keepsake Quilting store.  What a fun trip that was!

Here's a little bit of randomness:

very cool vintage TV tray tables at my mom's house, preserved from the last century!  Probably 1960's?  I'm not totally sure, but I think that the white ones were a set that was at our house when I was a kid, and I think the black one was from my Grandma's house.  Still in use as temporary plant stands for the potted plants that my mom brings in from her deck to spend the winter by a basement window until it is suitable weather to go back out to the deck.  Which might be the 4th of July this year!  We have way more snow right now than our usual amount, and more is predicted for today.  Big piles (mountains?) in corners of parking lots are waiting for some heat to start them dwindling down.  Even with the past 2 days of temps reaching above freezing, the little bit of melting that occurred was barely a drop in the bucket of what needs to happen.

I have been getting some work done on curtains for the nursery for my new grandson-to-be:
I am sharing this picture because I thought the comparison was very interesting.  These were purchased curtain panels, solid blue.  I have added the white ribbon trim and a lining of light blocking fabric.  The picture on the left is the "before" (trimming pinned on to help decide ribbon width and placement) and on the right you can see the effect of the additional lining.  Makes a huge difference in privacy and darkness, both important for the sleep of the little guy who will reside in that room.  And the sleep of mom and dad, too!  I have 2 panels done, and 4 to go, so I have my goal set to finish them over the weekend.  I hope!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

just wondering

I'm not exactly sure why, but I have had a bug in my brain that wouldn't go away.  About marriage proposals and the custom of the man on bended knee.  I kept wondering where it comes from, and why?  Maybe it's the recent engagement of our niece, Jessica, to Josh that got me thinking about it.  They were on vacation in Hawaii when he popped the question, and on one knee offered her his lifelong commitment.  So I got out the encyclopedia.  Oops, the encyclopedias are gone!  I meant I got out my electronic encyclopedia!  And from this website I learned this:

Marriage Proposal on Bended Knee

Proposing on one knee
There is no more immediately recognizable romantic gesture than when a man proposes marriage down on one bent knee. This custom has been around for centuries and remains popular today.
History Behind Proposing on a Bended Knee
There is no clear historical origin of the idea of proposing on a bent knee, but the gesture bears striking resemblance to many other ceremonial situations, including:
  • Religion: Kneeling is appropriate during prayers and other religious ceremonies, including wedding vows for some faiths. Kneeling is also done to genuflect when entering a church or temple. When proposing, kneeling can have the same spiritual connotation and can be seen as a sign of respect.
  • Royalty: Knights kneel while being awarded honors from kings and queens. This can hold true for a proposal of marriage and can be seen as a honor.
  • Surrender: Bowing in supplication before a victorious enemy is typically seen as a gesture of surrender. When proposing, a couple commits to one another and surrenders oneself to being part of a couple.
Regardless of the origin, the idea of asking for a loved one's hand in marriage while partially kneeling is a highly symbolic gesture embodying the very essence of committing one's life to another. The ideas of goodwill, honor, and trust in that one person is opening themselves completely to another without shame or any physical defenses.
The practical reason behind a bent knee proposal is that it puts the engagement ring in an elevated position between the couple, letting the light hit it clearly without being blocked by both individuals. This highlights the glitter of the ring as well as emphasizing the strength of the commitment.

Modern Bended Knee Marriage Proposals

According to a study done by The Knot and Men's Health, 76 percent of men believe they should go down on a bent knee to propose. Many women find it appealing for a man to propose on one knee. The message behind the gesture can be that the man is offering himself wholeheartedly to the woman, without reservations, elevating her to an exalted position in their relationship, and offering her the choice to determine the course of their relationship.

So there ya' go!

Saturday, February 15, 2014

miss match

Today I have been helping my mom get a quilt mounted onto her frame for hand quilting.  The quilt is going to be living with Dan whenever it is finished, and I got to help with picking out the design and fabric.  Dan had a say in what colors he wanted.

This morning I needed to put together the backing, and the navy blue and white fabric was what we are using.  In some situations, there isn't much of a distinct design in the fabric and the seams can be made without a thought to matching pieces.  But with this backing fabric, I really thought it would look so much better if it was matched both vertically and horizontally.

Here's an idea of how it looks without matching on the left and with matching on the right.  The seam in the picture on the right is barely visible, and the piece looks like one uninterrupted piece of fabric.

The process takes a little bit longer, but it's worth it.  I started out by ironing a crease where the seam will be sewn on one of the pieces.  I used the edge of the small circles as my guide and pressed right at that spot along the length of the fabric.  This gave me a seam allowance of about 1/2", but I didn't measure that with a ruler.  I let the fabric design be my guide.

Then I laid that folded edge on the edge of the other piece of fabric to see where the seamline would fall.  I lined up the circles on the piece of fabric on the right with the same circles on the fabric on the left.  This gives me a match both vertically and horizontally.

You can see at the bottom of the above photo that there is going to be a jog in the edge of the fabric to get the 2 pieces to match.  Only about 1" in this instance, because the design is a small repeat.  If you have a fabric with a larger repeat, you could be wasting a lot more, and you have to be prepared for that.  Sometimes I just don't have enough fabric to make this work, but if I am buying something for a backing and think I might want to do some matching, I will get an extra yard if possible.

With the 2 pieces right sides together, and the creased edge on top, I fold back the edge to the crease line to make sure I am matching the right spots.  Then I lay the folded edge down flat and pin freely along the crease.  I put my pins in vertically right on the crease, so I can lift the edge as I go and make sure things are staying where I want them.

I sew straight down that crease line, removing pins as I go.  A walking foot helps to keep the top layer feeding under the presser foot in sync with the fabric next to the feed dogs.

Then all that's left is trimming and pressing!  We laid out the backing, batting and quilt top on the floor and pin basted all over it.  Then we pinned the top and bottom edges to the fabric headers attached to the wooden roller bars--you can see part of one at the top of the picture.

Then we roll it up and insert the 2 roller bars into the holders, attached to wooden legs.  Now mom can sit by the window and stitch as desired!  That should keep her busy for a day or 2!  This is about 80" x 100".  Lots of stitches!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

hoping for a gold

 Are you finding the notes of the Olympics intro song running through your head?  Are you hoping they will broadcast at least one more tug-at-the-heartstrings story of an Olympic athlete?  Are you imagining how much that gold medal might weigh when you wear it around your own neck?  Are you cringing whenever those downhill skiers race around the curves and down the cliffs?  Do your knees hurt after watching the mogul skiers?

Then we are kindred spirits!

Some good couch time for a few nights of competition, and time to get back to my English Paper Piecing!  Looks like my sis has the same idea
Here is a section of a larger star nearly done, just that last row on the right to be attached and then the 1st of 8 star points will be done!  The diagram on the paper in the picture shows half of the final goal.  Now that I have gotten through one section, I think I can keep building some momentum and put some more pieces together.

I have all of the diamonds cut out, stacked, labeled and tucked into a box.  I do need some more diamond papers, even though I could theoretically take out a bunch of the pieces I have used from this star point, I think I am going to leave them in place to keep wrinkles at bay.

I have ordered these from, and will order a bigger pack next time.  My plan is to use this as one of several monthly projects for an English Paper Piecing group that I want to organize at Bear Patch.  I have a couple other projects already done, each with a different shape.  If I get one or 2 more prepared, I will feel like I am ready to roll out the new group with the next batch of class offerings.  Here's another possibility--

 I introduced this project to you last December.  It has grown a little, and I have a few more pieces prepped and ready to add, just not sure what it's going to become yet!

Last week I was spent a very nice day with my little guy, Ian.  He really likes to mimic whatever he sees going on, and he learned how to use the tape measure that day.  Many things were measured!  He thought it was fun to have the tape measure clipped onto his waistband, so he could keep it with him at all times!  There have been carpenters in his basement working on some remodeling, so he is very curious about tools, etc.  With a new baby brother coming along next month, a lot of things are happening to accommodate the new addition.  So exciting!

P.S.--I can see that my mini ironing board is showing a lot of scorching!  I tried to camouflage it by placing that sheet of paper on the worst area, but I don't think I was very successful!  Time for a wash, or maybe even a new one?

Sunday, February 9, 2014

starting something new

 Here are a couple of blocks that are going to be part of a new quilt--

I'm hoping to get it done in the next 2 weeks so it can be part of a class at the store.  But I also need to work on getting a light-blocking liner sewn into curtains for the nursery for our next little grandson, due to arrive later in March.  But I don't want to put that off too much, otherwise the little guy might beat his curtains into his own room!

And this little guy--

is going to learn all about being a big brother!