Sunday, December 18, 2011

Monday Miscellaneous

Custom pillowcases:

I used the tutorial at Film in the Fridge to make the two sets of pillowcases featured below.

The zebra striped cases are a Christmas gift for my nine year old cousin. After relocating to Kansas she asked her mother to paint her new room purple with zebra stripes.  So three walls are purple and one wall is indeed zebra striped. It's quite striking.

My mother has made a zebra striped fleece throw for her as well. 

Her brother, my young 11 year old old cousin, is into skulls.  I made these last winter for his birthday.  He very politely thanked me for them. I noticed them on his bed quite a few times.  However, I had no idea what a hit I'd made with them until his mother told me that when she takes them off to wash them and replaces them with others, he immediately puts the skulls back on when they come out of the laundry.  That's the kind of news that makes this quilter smile!

So new skull pillowcases for Christmas.  I hope he likes them as well as the others.

What do the following two items have in common?

Laptop and lapcat:

This new quilt inspector is appropriately named Lovebug, because that is exactly what she is.  She has absolutely no issue with laying on the laptop if I do not make space for her.  Yeah, I really can't complain about that too much.

(You can see a slice of the cheerful quilted table-topper / wall-hanging that P from The Way I Sew It made for me.  Thanks P.!  But that's another blog topic for another day.)

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Favorite Things Friday

Wow!  The last Favorite Things Friday of 2011.  We'd better make the most of it.  If you want to play, get on over to Quilting in My Pyjamas and link up.

Last February I bought my 2010 Hyundai Genesis Coupe down in McKinney, Texas.  The car itself became the topic of Favorite Things Friday on February 18, 2011.

Hyundai Genesis, Taos, NM

However, there is now a certain feature of my car that has become a favorite ~ a feature I hadn't sought out when shopping for my car.  The car just happened to come equipped.  A feature that I had no use for until I found myself facing winter in Kansas. 

Seat warmers! 

Winter, even in north Texas, is just not that cold.  I didn't use them there.  In the meantime, over summer, I had forgotten I had them.  Until just last week.  I looked down at my shifter, and there on either side of it lies the buttons for the seat warmers for each seat.

The seat warmers make getting out in the cold much more bearable.  In fact, it makes me smile every time my fanny warms up.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Fleece Throws ~ It's What's for Christmas!

You know, it's always tough to figure out what Christmas gifts to get for that person who already has "everything."  We are often in that position with my aunt and uncle.  But hey, who couldn't use a fleece throw?  My mom's brainstorm.

My aunt and uncle live outside of Phoenix.  Being warm is not too much of issue most of the year.  And their house wasn't built with being warm as a concern.  They heat primarily with their fireplace.  Yet, the desert does get chilly this time of year. 

Their house is decorated in an eclectic southwest style ~ part Native American, part Hispanic, and part cowboy.  We tried to get fleece that would jibe with the decor.

For my uncle, I made the cowboy themed throw you see below:

For my aunt, my mom made the southwest themed throw.
We are very pleased with how they turned out ~ and how quickly they went together.  Now, I hope they enjoy them as much as we enjoyed making them.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Favorite Things Friday

I can't believe how quickly Friday has rolled around again.  But that means only one thing:  Favorite Things Friday with Mrs. P. at Quilting in My Pyjamas.

My favorite this week is the time I spent with my young cousin.  She is nine.  We both have a penchant for nail polish.  Neither of us are real girlie girls, except about our nails.  This afternoon, she introduced me to Crackle Overcoat.  Hers are the black with white crackle and mine are pink with white crackle.

Rather blurry picture taken with my cell phone.  Apologies.

I'm not sure Crackle itself will ever become a favorite of mine, but it sure was fun to do it with her.  It is always the small moments in life that mean the most.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Favorite Things Friday ~ Bejeweled

Another Friday has rolled around and it's time to join Shay over at Quilting in my Pyjamas for another Favorite Things Friday.   Yay!

My favorite for this week?  Bejeweled Blitz. 

Yep, a mindless time waster if there ever was one.  That said, sometimes it's great to simply take a break from life ~ even quilting ~ and indulge in some meaningless relaxation.  Nothing like watching virtual jewels blow up to get me into full relax mode.

I was playing the game alone on the version I have on my home computer, but I've since discovered that it is possible to play against other people through Google + and Facebook.  For the last several weeks I have been competing against my cousin-in-law, Eric, through Google +.  Week after week, I'd pull ahead only to watch him trounce me and prevail before the week's end.  Last week, however, I finally got my turn in the winner's circle.  Losing for weeks on end made that win all the more sweet.  (Oddly enough both of our scores for that week were lower than in previous weeks, so go figure.)

After playing on Google +, I finally rejoined Facebook in order to play there.  (I'm not a big fan of Facebook.  I prefer more in depth communication over the blurbs posted on Facebook.  But hey, that's just me.)  It appears I'm taking this serious time waster to a new level!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

A Christmas Table Topper

This diminuitive table-topper ~ yes, it is just slightly larger than 8" square ~ is a gift for a friend in Germany.  I shipped it her way yesterday and hope it arrives safely and in time.  If all goes well, it she should have it in a week.  One Christmas her gift didn't arrive until February.  I guess the post office sent it by wagon train that year.

With each project, I expand and attempt to perfect my free motion quilting skills.  I quilted these Christmas trees on the points.  As Sarah from Confessions of a Fabric Addict would say, they are "organic".  Yep, that's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Actually, it's an interesting phenomena.  When I look at each individual Christmas tree I quilted, I see all of the flaws.  However, when I look at the topper as a whole, those Christmas trees really look kind of cool.

I quilted the outline of the gingerbread man.  It made him puff quite nicely.

As I tend to immerse myself in rather large quilting projects, I am finding these small projects exceptionally rewarding.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Monday Miscellaneous

Gag Quilting:

When I posted on the Maple Leaf Table Topper, my wise-ass cousin-in-law, and best friend, Eric, commented thusly:

I'm thinking even that's too big. Can you quilt me a single coaster? Thanks!

You can imagine how snickered, as I created this:

(Thanks for the picture, Eric!)
It was a quick process.  Eric had so enjoyed the Asian themed fabrics in my mom's latest quilt, that choosing fabrics was a no-brainer.  Since the project was quite small, I merely raided her scrap bag.  Then, I snickered some more.  The whole thing probably took an hour, and most of that was hand-sewing the binding down on the back.  And I snickered as I stitched.  (Are you sensing a theme here?)

I  snickered when I surreptitiously laid the coaster on Eric's keyboard while he was away from his desk.  And I laughed out loud when he came out of his office carrying the coaster, giggling, and saying, "I can't believe you did this."  The coaster now sits on his desk amongst other interesting treasures, which he blogged about here.


Made the trek to Joann's at the Town West Mall yesterday morning.  Normally, I would avoid the mall on the weekend after Thanksgiving.  I have no urge to deal with the crowds.  However, I needed some supplies to finish some Christmas gifts, so what was a quilter to do? 

Fortunately, the crowds were not too bad (maybe they'd all shopped themselves to death the day before?) and the sales were great.  No, not just great, fan-freakin-tastic is more like it.  I came out of the store with 7 1/2 yards of quality fabric for $19.  $2 off per yard Keepsake Quilting fabric; 75% off end of the bolt fabric (I picked up nearly an extra yard with this deal), and 25% off the total price coupon.  Do I feel like the cat that swallowed the canary?  You bet!

I was so blown away with my savings, I blew off the gym too.  My cousin, Shirley, said I could justify it by having "weight-lifted" bolts of fabric.  I love her!  (And really it's okay, because I hit the gym on Sunday and redeemed myself.)

Friday, November 25, 2011

When You Have Nothing to Show for Yourself

When you have nothing to show for yourself, well then show someone else's!

My mom finished this king-sized beauty right before Thanksgiving.  Its inspiration was an Asian themed fabric pack. 

If you click on the picture to make it larger, you might be able to see the feather quilting on the green sashing, and the leaves on the black frames.  She did an impressive job.  No one can tell that this was her first attempt at free-motion feathers and leaves.

Gorgeous, isn't it?

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Favorite Things Friday

It's been awhile since I've been able to participate in Favorite Things Friday with Shay over at Quilting in My Pyjamas.  I have missed it!

My latest new favorite is an album called The Goat Rodeo Sessions, featuring the classic cellist, Yo-yo Ma.   

When my mom said she'd bought the new Yo-yo Ma CD, I expected the beautiful classic pieces to which I'd been briefly introduced when watching President Obama's inauguration.  My curiosity was piqued when I was told the name of the new CD:  The Goat Rodeo Sessions.  Really?  Yo-yo Ma and goats?  I couldn't imagine. exclaims, "Yo-yo Ma Trades in Bach for Bluegrass". 

The band is composed of Yo-yo Ma, pre-eminent classical cellist; Edgar Meyer, award-winning bassist; Chris Thile, mandolin player and member of alt-bluegrass bands Nickel Creek and the Punch Brothers; and fiddler Stuart Duncan, top notch session musician having recorded with likes of Dolly Parton and Reba McEntire.  The songs are all original.

The name for the album is based on the definition of a "goat rodeo", meaning that about 100 things must go right at once if anyone is going to walk away from it.  Yo-yo Ma doesn't improvise.  Stuart Duncan does not read music.  What an interesting dynamic, no?

Here's a little taste:

Monday, November 14, 2011

Monday Miscellaneous


I have been so erratic about reading your blogs.  I apologize.  Despite my regret and hopes of doing better, life just keeps happening.


Meet the new, up and coming quilt inspector, Chuzzlewit:

It looks like she was a little confused, having to inspect the stack of napkins in the bowl atop the table-topper.  Oh well, she was trying.
Quilt Shop

Saturday, my mom and I checked out the quilting shop, Material Girls, in downtown Wichita.  While we are always on the look out for a new place spend a little a lot of money on fabric, it was the clever name that caught our attention.  We were not disappointed. I have never seen a larger selection of batiks, amongst the many other fabrics.  The staff was very friendly.  Quite a happy place.  The picture below does not do the shop justice.


I have been doing a little quilting, but all of it is for Christmas so no pictures.  I don't want to give anything away to the recipients.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Tetris in the Mail!

Quilters really know how to spoil other quilters.  P. from The Way I Sew It, has been blogging about her rash of mug rug making.  I've not been shy in expressing my delight with each one.  So you can imagine my glee when I found this is my mailbox:

Tetris!  What a beauty, eh?  The design brings back a lot of memories.  Tetris was one of the first computer games that I played.  I downloaded a free version on to my Windows 98, and moved the game onto each new computer and accompanying Windows version ~ through Me and XP.  Unfortunately, when I upgraded to Windows 7, it could not run my ancient version of Tetris.

So now, the mug rug sits beside my Juki and holds the cup of tea I often have while I'm quilting.  Thanks P!  You made my day!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Maple Leaf Table Topper

The quilting Gods decided to play a dirty trick on me.  I was making stupendous progress on the Pansy Sampler Quilt, finished all of the quilting except those on the borders, could see a finish near at hand, when muscle spasms in my left shoulder and neck made pushing and pulling that heavy quilt through the Juki an exercise in pain.

I finally made myself set the quilt aside.

I'd been toying with the idea of making a fall table topper or table runner for some time (as soon as I finished the Pansy Sampler quilt).  There was no time like the present.  I knew the small project would cause me no harm.

Voila! My cousin chose the color of the maple leaves.  It measures approximately 16" square and now resides on a table in the living room.  Lori has the house beautifully decorated with a combination of a Halloween ~ Autumn theme.  (She has our grandmother's talent for such things.) The table topper is my small contribution to the effort.  It went together really quickly, and I'm yearning to make others.

The thing that took me the longest was deciding how to quilt it. The center space between the maple leaves is pebbled.  I was puzzled about quilting the leaves themselves and hoped the design I chose would be somewhat reminiscent of wind.

Please forgive the rather poor pictures.  I do not have Eric's talent for photography.  Normally, I would have had him take them, but he has been working 16 hour days.  Ack! 

Wednesday, September 21, 2011


Some free motion quilting adventures fall into the undesirable category.  Having the corner of your backing tucked under and quilting it down as in the photo below is one of them.  Sigh.  

And the leaves looked really good too.....  Rip, rip, rip.

Just as an aside, another thing I've learned is that if you're going to use multiple colors of thread, it may be a good idea to go with a wildly colored backing.  As you can see the non-white thread shows up brightly on the white background.  Not all of my quilting is that pretty either.  However, this quilt will go on my bed, so most people won't know what the back side looks like except me.  (And of course, all of you, because when I'm done, I'll probably post a picture of that too.)

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Adventures in Free Motion Quilting

Although the Pansy Sampler, is not the first quilt in which I've done free motion quilting, it is the first in which I decided to be brave enough to experiment, test my limits, try new patterns.  A sampler quilt is a good vehicle in which to do this, because the variety of blocks offers different challenges.

As of the taking of this photograph, all but two blocks are complete.  Still have a number of purple frames to quilt, about half the sashing, and all of the external borders.

(Click on any photograph to see more detail.  The blogger resizing has taken out much of the texture.)

I had one picture block in the quilt ~ this Sunbonnet Sue.  I cannot take credit for the block itself; many of the blocks came in a block exchange, and Sunbonnet Sue was one of them.  I saved quilting this block for near the last, in order to improve my accuracy enough to do the block justice.  I quilted around each of the stones in the wall, each of the squares in the trellis, and all of the pansies.

Quilting on the pansy fabric itself has proven to be a challenge.  The largish print tricks my eye and prevents me from making accurate arcs, etc.  This block shows my attempts at making a quilted "flower" on the largest section of pansy fabric.  It is less than stellar.  Although I've tried a variety of things, quilting around the individual pansies has looked the best.  It's not difficult to do.

I've done free motion leaves in all of the purple frames.  It's a good FMQ design to use, as it's quite forgiving.  However, practice really does make perfect. Despite being a forgiving design, over the course of the quilt, my skill with this pattern has increased markedly.

It is in this block that I tried pebbling for the first time.  I often study Wendy's work for inspiration.  Much of what she does is too far beyond my capability, but pebbling was not.  I was very pleased with the result. 

My favorite quilting motifs are the symmetrical designs as shown in the purple sections below.  They are also the most difficult to do.  The interesting thing is that I've noticed when I merely glance at this block, I think the quilting looks pretty nice.  However, if I stop to study it, then I see all of its flaws ~ and there are many. 

The morning that Eric took all of these pictures for me, Molly Baggins could not help but walk across the quilt ~ usually on the very block he was trying to photograph.  Finally, she chose a spot and made herself comfortable.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The Other QI

Many months ago, I introduced you to Marko, my cousins' Maine Coon.  He proved his quilt inspection abilities early on.

There is another cat in the household though.  She goes by the name of Molly Baggins.  My cousins rescued her.  They were told that she is only three years old, but she acts like an old lady.  She's overweight, and behaves like she is in pain when we pick her up.  The vet gave her a clean bill of health, but we're considering getting another opinion. 

With her rather sloth-like demeanor, Molly Baggins has always excelled at laying on anything soft.  I was not convinced that proved her ability as a Quilt Inspector.  However, yesterday with a considerable effort to haul her not insignificant mass up onto the sewing table, she has now clearly earned the title.

Doesn't she look like she's smiling?

I removed her from the quilt with much protest on her part, so I could continue my free motion quilting.  When a couple of phone calls took me away from the quilt, I returned to find her planted on it yet again.  I took that as a sign to call it a day and permitted her to fulfill her quilt inspection duties uninterrupted.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Home Office

The flip side of getting the quilting - crafting studio set up is the home office.  It is the place where I access my quilting software, look at quilting pictures, and read quilting blogs.

I share this space with my clone (Eric, my cousin-in-law ) ~ or probably to be more correct, he shares his office with me.    When we returned to the house in Newton, Eric immediately decided this storage space would be perfect for his office.  It's somewhat isolated, which is important since he works from home; cool being in the basement (the computers give off a lot of heat); and with no finished ceiling, his very tall server rack would fit.  Eric refers to us as "basement trolls."

Crappy picture of me at my desk next to the server rack

Here is the view from my corner
This is Eric's desk.  Yep, five monitors.  Believe me, he uses all of them ~ one personal computer, two for work, and two for the servers in the rack, that are also utilized in his work.

So now you know the vantage point from which I'm appreciating all of your fine work.  I soon hope to be able to post an updated picture of the quilting-crafting studio.  The floor is now clear.  We're making progress.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Quilting-Crafting Studio

My cousin and I have been looking forward to setting up our Quilting-Crafting Studio since we knew we returning to the house in Newton.  The basement has plenty of space and will be perfect for our needs.  The only problem has been digging out from underneath the pile of boxes.

A few days ago, Lori got inspired and removed the boxes from our space.

Eric moved the desk into place for us, and I found the fabric and unpacked the Juki.  Eventually, there will be shelves to hold the fabric, but in the meantime, the window well works just fine.

Along with the setting up the sewing room, came setting up the office (off camera ~ and the subject of a separate blog post), and organizing all of Eric's computer stuff.  Boxes and boxes of computer stuff.

In the corner opposite the Juki, Lori began setting up a space for scrapbooking.  We're still looking through boxes for all of her supplies.

Despite the area needing more work, I sat down and did some free-motion quilting for the first time in six or seven months.  The good news is that in the interim, the skills I had did not abandon me; the bad news is that I didn't get any better.

I finished this block this afternoon ~ one I began quilting in January or February.  It is far from perfect, but it sure feels good to have completed it.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Monday Miscellaneous

U-Haul and a Cursed Day

In order to prevent further disruption to the children's lives and make it easier for the adults to move this last load with less distraction, it was decided I would stay with the children while my Eric and Lori made the trip back to Texas.  My job was easy and delightful.  Their's not so much.

We reserved the U-Haul for Saturday morning, to be picked up in Texas.  My cousins left Friday afternoon, in order to get an early start the next day.  However, when they arrived at the Van Alstyne location to which they'd been directed, they found the U-Haul store closed. When the proprietor finally showed up, and they see the 14' truck we'd reserved, my cousins decided a bigger truck was in order, but the U-Haul store didn't have one available.

Next, a quick trip to Anna.  The U-Haul store in Anna had a 20' truck.  Perfect.  My clone was initally so excited.  The truck had only 10,000 miles on it and it was easy to drive.  Joy!  Until he spilled $20 worth of gas on the ground because of a hole in the gas tank.  The only saving grace there was that he'd decided to fill it up BEFORE he loaded it.  It makes me ill to think if he'd waited until after it was loaded like we did the previous weekend.

A trip to McKinney Texas to yet another U-Haul Store.  My cousins ended up with a 26' truck at the cost of $210.  U-Haul rented it to them for the price of the small truck we'd originally reserved minus $100 and reimbursement for the gas.

Early morning start all shot to hell, they managed to get the truck loaded in the heat of the day due to help from awesome friends.

Eric and Lori paid them in beer
Eric and Lori were finally able to head back to Kansas about 5:30PM.  They'd planned to make it into Newton about midnight.  But no, the moving gods were simply against them.  A wildfire in Oklahoma had Interstate 35 shut down.  They took a clue, rented the last, outrageously expensive hotel room available, and got some sleep.

I Can't Get Up.

We've loaded and unloaded two 26' U-Hauls of furniture and boxes in the last two weekends with little rest in between.  My body is now officially pissed off and on strike.  Everything hurts.

Because I'm too tired to get up and take a picture of our garage contents, I've borrowed this one so you can get the idea.

Yeah okay, our garage is not that big, but at this point the thought of unpacking it is just as daunting.

My Other Blog

Although I have many other things I should be doing ~ and will once I post this ~ it was nice to treat myself to some blog writing, both here and on LiveJournal.  The title of my post on LiveJournal:  Sociology, INTJs and Online Dating.  I warn you that unlike this blog, there is some graphic language in this post.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Back in Newton, Kansas

What's old is new again.  Okay, maybe not so much.  My cousins and I have moved back into the house that I left in February, just five short months ago.  Five months.  Long enough to have become somewhat familiar with Anna/McKinney Texas; long enough to know that had we stayed I would have built some real affection for the area; but not long enough by far to feel that it was home.

That said, Kansas does not feel like home either, although it is far more familiar to me.  I'm not sure at 47 years of age, I have ever found home yet.  Pahrump, Nevada came close.  But it is part of my past now, and will in all likelihood remain so.  I'm not sure what qualifies as "home".  What do you think?

I'm beginning to think that home is a state of mind; not a location.  That home is where the people you love and share your life with are.  If that's the case, then I'm always home.

As with any move, it is proving to be a real bitch.  We left Anna last Thursday night and caravanned up I-35 through Oklahoma until we simply had to sleep.

Made it into Newton Friday afternoon.  The house is still in chaos.  And the real pain in the ass, is that my cousin and my clone (my cousin's husband, Eric) have to return to Anna this coming weekend because we could not get everything into the one very large 26' U-Haul truck.  I am staying with the kidlets.  (Yeah, the children have me wrapped around their little fingers.)  There are some advantages to being the smallest ~ getting to stay with the kids while others do the heavy lifting.

Our next move will be from this house to another here locally, when we decide to buy.  By then, we will have been able to have that garage sale that we did not get done before we moved this time.  And we've decided that someone else is going to move our things.  Yes, we could do it.  We've proved that.  But sheesh!  Every muscle in our bodies hurt~and with a garage load full of boxes there is no end in sight.

Yet as my cousin is wont to say, "This is but a moment in time."  I know that one day, we will find our routine once again.

Right now, I hear a Vanilla Porter calling my name. 

Monday, July 18, 2011

Monday Miscellaneous

Moving Disarray:

The picture pretty much speaks for itself.

We spend a lot of time asking each one another where various items are located and whether or not said item has already been packed.  We're at ten days and counting.

You can see more packed boxes behind Marko.  Unlike the rest of us, he's totally unconcerned. That's what our critters are for though, right?  To remind us that life isn't so tough.  (I love this picture.)

Hands No Longer Idle:

Progress.  I chose this yarn because the majority of my wardrobe is blue, purple, and green.  I think I've covered all my bases.

And no, Eric didn't take this picture either

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Desperate Times

When we decided to move, Lori and I began feverishly packing.  Initially I thought I would leave my hand work project, the New York Beauty, available in the event I got a chance to work on it.  After relocating the blocks several times, trying to keep them out of the way as we worked to pack the non-essential items, I finally gave up and packed it.

Now we're into what I refer to as the "dog days" of the move.  We've packed most of the non-essential items, but with twelve days still to live in this house, it's too early to pack the items we need for our daily existence.  Lori and I are finding we have a lot of nervous energy and little to do.  We were both lamenting having packed our hand work.

A trip to Wal-mart for yarn and needles became warranted.  Lori is now crocheting, and I am knitting a scarf.  Besides being an outlet for my need to keep busy, the scarf will come in handy during the Kansas winter.  A win-win!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Autumn Braid

Again with other people's projects.  My mom has started a new quilt.  The pattern is called Autumn Braid

She's used an Asian fabric fat quarter pack, and added like fabrics from her stash.  Isn't it gorgeous?   It's going to be king-sized when she's finished.

She bought the pattern at the LQS, Charlotte's Sew Natural, in Newton, Kansas.  (One of the benefits of moving back to Newton!)

 Maybe one day I'll have my own projects to show again....