Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Up Off the Floor

At last, after four months, the little redwork teddy bear quilt is finished and is off the floor.
Now it will be packed carefully away (but not so carefully that I can't remember where I put it - got to guard against that) until mid November, when it will be admired by me, then wrapped and sent away to its new owner.

In the spirit of Christmas, my April squirrel-away project will be potholders. I tried this mindless in-the-hoop embroidery to get me going and am relatively pleased.

And what's this bit of blue-and-white fluff that was so puffy the auto-focus couldn't close in?

It's a bride's garter, made with much lace and blue ribbon. If you're thinking it surely is a work sample, you'd surely be right.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Hard to Find Sewing Stuff

I'm glad that this blustery day (think Winnie the Pooh) at the end of March isn't Easter. Egg hunts and spring dresses would have been cold affairs today.

This afternoon I spent some time shopping for sewing and embroidery supplies. I got some cloth diapers to make burp cloths - I've seen some sweet embroidered ones with ruffled bias trim at one end. The fabric store had none of the trim (although I'd seen a nice selection at a different location a few weeks ago) but I did find some in white at WalMart when I went to pick up the diapers. None of the sweet gingham stuff, though. A sticker on the diapers says they are ideal for diapering, burping, changing, nursing, plus household dusting and car washing/waxing. Pretty amusing, especially since I have a feeling that the people who are looking for something for car washing aren't looking in the baby section.

This location of the fabric store also had none of the wool felt that I wanted for a purse sample for a class I'll be teaching soon. They did have some felt made from recycled plastic bottles that had a wool look to it, so I tried that. I had heard that they had InsulBrite for making potholders, and they did, but it was only sold in a pack with three other battings. It could have been at Hobby Lobby across the street, but they are closed on Sunday (gotta say good for them.)

Am I imagining things, or is it getting harder to find sewing supplies and trims? It seems to be hit or miss, and what's available at one location may not be found across town.

Here's a photo from Sarah, taken at breakfast this morning at the Rise 'n Shine Cafe, to give you a little sunshine today.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Sarah's Beach Pictures

I'm borrowing some of Sarah's pictures today. She and her friend Winnie went to a beach wedding in South Carolina last weekend.

The vegetation looks so wonderfully green and the beach sand so white and the light looks so . . .spring. Apparently it was a bit windy and chilly but beautiful overall. Sarah and Winnie are below.

I love this photo of Sarah - doesn't she look elegant?

And here's Winnie in her wonderfully float-y dress. Didn't you always want to have a dress like that?

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Friday Fill-In # 117

Janet at Friday Fill-Ins used the first sentences from six of her favorite books for the fill-ins this week. I'm not familiar with any of them, so I'll just make up my own sentences. How fun.

1. "In a hole in the ground, there lived a whole worm family with many babies and dozens of cousins, happy to be at the bottom of the garden with a job to do. They would break up the ground and make it moist and crumbly and perfectly prepared for the carrots that lived on top."

2. "The dress was old and gently used but that ain't no matter because it was part of a dress-up box in preschool. It was worn to "cook" and worn to "dance" and worn to "parties" every day."

3. "After the rain began to fall again, the baseball game stopped, the tarps came out, and people huddled under umbrellas, waiting for the Opening Day game to begin once again." Oh, no, hope that doesn't happen.

4. "At the dark bottom of the sea, beautiful fish wandered in and out from the hold of the Spanish Galleon. They didn't stop to admire the treasure because what's treasure to us isn't impressive to a fish."

5. "There was a hand in the darkness and the gentle sound of a soft voice saying 'don't worry, I'll help you get out.'"

6. "Accidents ambush the unsuspecting because, after all, that's why they're accidents. Unplanned, unwanted, a surprise with a wish that time could roll back for a minute."

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to some relaxation (it's been a long week,) tomorrow my plans include watching basketball, and Sunday I want to finish the red quilt with the redwork bears. And watch basketball.

Happy Friday, everyone.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Things I'm Loving Tonight

It's 70 degrees at 10 p.m., with a good chance of rain before morning for the onions, peas, spinach, and herbs I've planted. I'm loving this weather, and here are other things I'm loving tonight.

This little applique bear on orange canvas has a yellow nylon raincoat and hat. I'm thinking about doing a small-sized bag with the bear on the front pocket.

I'm loving the stippling stitch around the quilt square with redwork. I've done lots of free motion stippling but never really used the machine stitch. I'm impressed with how good it looks with the red outlined embroidery.

My tomato seedings started their life under the grow lights today. They will probably stay under the lights until the last week in April, when they will harden off on the back porch. I'm looking forward to sharing a few of the plants with Nora.

And I'm loving the Bath and Body Works soap that Steph gave me tonight. Most of the time I can smell very little, but this is a good time and I can smell just a little. When that happens I make a point of smelling the good things I enjoy, storing up the scents in my mind for when my sense of smell fades again. It's all related to how congested I am. Not a big deal, as things go, but I'm loving the warm vanilla sugar scent tonight.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Zoo Outing

It was a gorgeous spring day for a zoo trip yesterday. One of the nice things about living in this area is that a trip to the zoo (or the children's museum or the aquarium) doesn't necessarily mean a whole day, it can be just an outing for a couple of hours.

I realized this morning that I didn't take a single picture of an animal, or any of the spring flowers. It was all about the kids. We did see plenty of animals, though. Nora declared that the giraffes and the manatee were her faves of the day. Aaron was impressed with the manatee too, he kept saying, "wow, wow."

This was Aaron's first time on the Merry Go Round. I told Steph that from now on when she goes to the mall, she'll need to take enough cash for a Merry Go Round ride for both kids. I don't think Aaron will be content to sit in the stroller and watch any more.

Then there was the train - so fun. We rode a couple of times.

Thanks, Steph, for letting me be the "guest" on your pass.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Make Your Easter Basket

I owe Becky M for this one. Give it a try - it's super easy with minimal sewing.

Cut two 10" circles of Super Solvy. Not Solvy. Not Ultra Solvy. Super Solvy. You'll find it in the stabilizer section of your fabric store.

You can trace around a dinner plate. The size doesn't have to be exactly 10 inches. Put one circle on a couple of pieces of typing paper and sprinkle pieces of thread on it. I just went through my emboridery threads and cleaned up the loose ends but you can do just one or two colors and that's fine too.

Once you have a nice assortment of threads on the Super Solvy, sprinkle some silk flower pedals on top (get a stalk of silk flowers at the Dollar Store and dismember it) and cover with the other circle. Put more typing paper on top and iron for a minute or so until the pieces of Super Solvy are fused together.

Take the fused circle to the sewing machine and sew in a circular or grid pattern. Be sure there's a line of stitching around the outside. You can free motion of you want to. I just sewed in a circular pattern, round and round, starting at the outside and finishing on the inside.

Dip the circle in water until the Super Solvy starts to disappear. It doesn't take long, maybe 45 - 60 seconds. You want a little Super Solvy to remain so your basket will be stiff. Shape it upside down over a cottage cheese container or a soda can and let it dry. I like to loosen it after an hour or two, then let it be.

When it's dry, slip it off the container and there's your artsy looking Easter basket.

I told you it was easy.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Friday Fill-In # 116

I always enjoy doing Friday Fill-Ins. Answers are in bold.

1. Why do we have to be responsible for ourselves? It would be so much easier to say, "that didn't turn out right and it's all your fault." After studying about existential theory and personal responsibility in Counseling 101, my life was never quite the same.

2. Drinking lots of water early in the morning and eating oatmeal are now habits. I started taking Fosomax back in the day when it was a daily morning pill and required drinking lots of water. Now it's a weekly morning pill, but the habit of drinking lots of water early remains. I'm hoping that the oatmeal helps with my cholesterol - these things seem to come with getting old.

3. I have everything I need. Everything. And yes, I know, I'm very blessed.

4. I had never heard the phrase "down in the back" and it still always makes me think twice about what it means. It refers to having a backache and it's probably an Appalachian phrase, at least that's where I first heard it.

5. I'll do my projects bit by bit the way I always do. I tend to break my projects into pieces and tackle a piece at a time, thinking about it as I go. Sometimes I think it would be cool to jump right into a project, have it all lined out, and work flat out until I'm finished. But then, what happens if you see that it could be improved if you do it differently and you're in flat-out-finish mode? I see people who aren't willing to change things once they get started and I don't want to be one of those people.

6. How was I to know that the wonderful spacious perfect studio where I work would quickly seem too small? Is the answer better organization? Or do I just spill over into the office area? I think that's it. I never dreamed that I would have a second sewing machine, requiring a second table which took away design wall space. And now I have an embellishing machine and am dreaming of a serger. Guess that's what happens when you work in a sewing machine shop. (And yes, I do use both sewing machines. A lot.)

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to taking dinner to Steph and Mike's (Steph will be coming home from her conference in Las Vagas in the evening,) tomorrow my plans include teaching a beading foot class, and Sunday I want to watch basketball and sew.

Happy Friday, everyone.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The Monster at the End of This Book

Tonight I read "The Monster at the End of This Book" to Nora. Three times. Aaron sat there too, probably less impressed by the humor and more impressed with the vocal inflections. It's not a new book, it goes back to when Steph and Sarah were small and loved it the way Nora does now. She loves it enough to laugh, and to tell Grover that there really isn't a monster at the end of the book. I'm not sure it's still in print, but it should be.

When I stopped at their house after work, Nora was wearing a sparkly red ballet dress and Aaron had khaki shorts. I noted numerous times throughout the evening how long their legs had grown since October. Nora declined having her picture taken today, but I did get this photo of Aaron with a red cowboy hat just before bedtime.

Aaron is talking in short sentences, usually beginning with "I." "I taste this." "I touch this." "I see you." His vocabulary is growing every day, and he enjoys sitting down with a book, happily proclaiming "the end" when it's finished. I'm amazed how he will cooperate with Mike, getting his antibiotic, his ear drops, and his breathing treatment without fuss. Well, maybe a little fuss for the breathing treatment, but very little.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

February Journal Quilt

My February journal quilt,

with snips of fabrics used for projects,

a pretty embroidery that didn't come out right,

wavy blue line for the frustration of water in my basement,

bits of a valentine from Winnie,

"snow" stenciled with a wine cork,

a quote from my poetic sister,

a sample piece stitched by the tech when I had my machine serviced.

January on the left, February on the right.

February seens more chaotic, but lighter in spirit.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Random Thoughts

Since the weather is warming up, it was time to unload the bags of top soil that provided weight in the back of the truck. Only thing is, the bags that weighed 40 pounds in November surely weighed at least 60 pounds now since they developed little holes and got wet. But it's done . . . and now I have to watch because I have a tendency to speed since the truck seems so light. Hopefully I'll be getting better gas mileage, and the top soil will go to a new flower bed in the front yard.

My friend Sandra came over this afternoon and we embroidered a name on the baby quilt she is making. The little jungle animals are the cutest.

The parsley in the herb garden is getting bigger every day. I seeded tomato plants to put under grow lights and planted lettuce in the planter on the front porch.

And for Sarah, who said she needed dish towels . . . here are the Hey Diddle Diddle ones

and here's the skull on a black dishtowel that I promised you long ago.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Super Kids

After a week of of feeling better, Aaron was sick again today with runny nose and fever.
Little Super Hawk put up a good try at being his usual happy self,

then finally gave up to feeling bad.

Nora had been out with Aunt Tina, dressed as Super Girl. She came home happy with tales of going to the Dollar Store and eating salad and bread sticks at Olive Garden.

She loved the Old Woman Who Swallowed A Fly book that I made, but Aaron wasn't impressed by much of anything today. Maybe tomorrow.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Imagine That

"There was an old lady
Who swallowed a cat.
Imagine that,
She swallowed a cat."
Old American Folk Song

Tonight I went out with my work friend Sandra. She is starting a couple of baby quilts so we went to JoAnn's so she could get some fabric. Of course, I did, too. I've always loved the little Winnie the Pooh fat quarters there and they were marked down a lot . . . .

Then we went to Dollar Bill's in Florence for a Blue Moon (my favorite) and some awful-for-you delicious appetizers. When I got home I decided to tackle the cloth "There Was An Old Lady" book that's been hanging around my house for about four years now.

I don't even think it took an hour. I'm very grateful for remnants of Warm and Natural batting, the 1/4" piecing foot, and temporary basting spray. Not to mention my wonderful Quilt Designer sewing machine that says, "Sure, I'll sew through six layers of fabric and three layers of batting, anything else today?"

The little book is really darling and I think that Nora will enjoy it as much as Aaron.

This makes three of my seven projects finished. I'm working on digitizing Mike's golf logo - I thought I was doing so well, but when I tried to embroider it the machine couldn't read it. In some ways, sewing has become so easy, it other ways, not so much. I'll keep working on it.

Thanks to Daisy for her words of wisdom about prioritizing the projects. Daisy is a great organizer so when she talks, I listen. Stop over at her blog and look at her March 11 "Lost Generation" post. Very cool.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Friday Fill-In # 115

Time for Friday Fill-ins - I've started working on them Thursday evenings and am enjoying that change. As usual, answers are in bold.

1. When I look to the left I see the darkness outside my living room window. I'm thinking about making some curtains to soften things up a little and make the room more cheery at night, even have the pattern, but getting the pattern is the easy part. When I look left next to my computer, I see my new book Creative Awakenings: Envisioning the Life of Your Dreams Through Art by Sheri Gaylor. I couldn't resist getting it. On page 41, it says, "Balance - to me, it's about being centered and rooted, so that choices can be clearly seen and understood, and decisions can be made with awareness, understanding, and compassion." I know I'm gonna love this book.

2. My office upstairs is the room that has the best view in my home. It's only a tiny view, and it's only in the winter, but I can see twinkling lights from the waterfront area. At first I thought it was Cincinnati, but I've decided that it's probably Covington, KY.

3. Let it work out that my garden is lovely this summer. I can see the parsley poking out but I'm not sure yet about the rosemary, and that's my favorite. I really love to have a herb garden, it seems like the most wonderful luxury. I want to plant some lavender this summer, it's something I rarely have luck with but always try.

4. Hardly anything is done dirt cheap!

5. Caring for the environment is a responsibility that every qualified citizen must share if we expect to continue living on our planet. I'm so happy that Nora knows what goes into the recycling and has for ages. Teaching our little ones is so important.

6. If you have any free time feel free to suggest that we go on a small adventure. I'm very grateful to be a solid "P" on the Myers Briggs and I'll gladly put aside an unfinished project to go with you.

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to nothing special, really, maybe working with my software, tomorrow my plans include working, then starting my tomato plants, and Sunday I want to go to Lowe's with Patti to pick up her grill, then see her new apartment. After that I think I'll plant some lettuce in the planter on my porch. It's sunny enough that it should be happy there and the planter doesn't require any cultivating.

Happy Friday, everyone.

March cold

It's cold again, but not SO cold this time. Just that disappointing March cold after the temperature was in the 70's just two days ago.

I went to see The Reader this afternoon, and you were right, Sarah, it's a wonderful movie. It's easy to see why Kate Winslet got the Oscar for her role. I re-learned that there's no charge for parking in the Levee parking garage between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Monday through Thursday. I read awhile back that it's to encourage people to come in for lunch, but it works for me.

I did finish taking in the pants for Steph and Sarah. The biggest thing is just taking out the belt loops and the previous stitching. After that, it's a fast finish. And I did finish this pillow earlier in the week.

I started it out on the big hoop but did something wrong when I turned the hoop - I'm not sure just what. Anyway it started stitching in the wrong place for the second half. I put it aside and top-stitched on some borders very close to the first half stitching. I'm happy with it, even thought the embroidery was supposed to be twice as big.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Unfinished Projects

Around Halloween, I must have been feeling energetic. I had all sorts of projects to do between then and Christmas and I knew I could do them all. Some got finished, lots in fact, but there are seven still hanging around.

Steph and Sarah, I have your pants to take in and to hem. Not so hard. I haven't forgotten. Still undone, and they have been on the studio floor since October. I put them on the floor so I would do them right away. You see where that's gotten me. I'm feeling very guilty about not having these done.

I have two projects for Aaron, first his little Raggedy Andy which I so want him to have. And a cloth book that I got at Sew A Lot in Lexington long ago. Long enough ago that it was originally for Nora. I thought it would be a nice easy Christmas extra, but at the rate I'm going he will have outgrown cloth books before he gets to turn a page.

I give sewing lessons and one day in November someone brought in a flannel rag quilt she wanted some help with and I was so intrigued. I just knew I could finish it for Nora for Christmas, no problem, I'd just do two blocks every day and it would be done. It's sort of a quilt-as-you-go concept so once it was pieced it would be finished. Of course I went shopping for the fabric, I got that done. The student brought in her rag quilt, completed, and mine doesn't have the first block cut out. It's getting too warm for a flannel quilt now, so I've packed the fabric away.

Oh, and I started a little redwork quilt for a Christmas gift as well. I have the blocks done and the inside sashings. I need a tiny tweak on one of the sashings so it will look really good. This is another on-the-floor project.

And I have Mike's golf designs to digitize or put in a Family Portrait format. They aren't even very big, I just need to spend a little time getting up to speed on the software. This is another feeling-guilty project because I know he's waiting. And I'm really excited about doing it.

What was I thinking? Why did it seem so realistic that I could complete these projects three months ago?

Sometimes, I know, I choose an easy project just because it is easy and I'm tired and maybe even a little lazy. But none of these are hard. Should I do a time table? Or start work on the felted bag that looks like it will be so fun?

Should I do the least labor-intensive first so I'll feel like I'm getting somewhere? That might be the pants. Or, the longest-outstanding first? That would be the book. Or, should I get the ones off the floor first? Suggestions, anyone?

Monday, March 9, 2009

Turn Around

Tonight was the monthly meeting of CQAFA, Cincinnati's Contemporary Quilt and Fiber Artists group. I love that group, and the show 'n tell is always a highlight of the meeting. Tonight was no exception, with wonderful exuberant pieces of art. Most of the people who brought things brought more than one. There was quilting, of course, and some gorgeous examples of felting done at a workshop.

What have I done lately? An embroidery done well on a thick hand towel and a linen napkin with sweet scallops, well executed.

The linen Easter apron, with machine embroidered rabbits parading across the bottom, the three embroidery sets lined up, and a nice curvy Madera border done with water soluble thread.

The apron also has good wing needle work

good use of basic software, and a pretty bias binding.

Now granted I was working toward samples for a presentation, but still - this is nice work but exuberant it isn't. And you'd better believe it didn't go to show 'n tell.
This isn't good. I can tell myself that I am learning skills that will enhance my quilting, and that's probably true, but I need to turn my vehicle around and go back in the direction I was coming from. Tomorrow. After I make just one more sample.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Home and Garden Show

Thanks to Helen for taking me to the Cincinnati Home and Garden Show. Bridget and two of her sisters came, too.

There was lots of look at, but of course the best was the plants put into garden settings. It's so nice to look at the fresh plants and dream a little about the seasons to come.

I found the plant below pretty interesting. It looks like an ornamental cabbage with the bottom leaves stripped that was then allowed to bolt. Surely this attractive little plant had a relative who was ignored in the garden and who then had a life of its own.

Here's Helen's haul - a whole box of yellow tulips, along with some Gerber daisies.

Only one daisy for Bridget this time. Usually she has a box full too. People who go at the end of the last day can score some plants before the displays are torn down.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Taking It Outside

I was babysitting for Aaron this morning while Steph got her hair done. The weather was lovely, and Aaron and I headed outside.

He had a wonderful time walking down the street in his new Thomas the Train shoes. Although he's never been very agreeable to changing clothes, he understands "shoes" and "outside" and is very happy to sit still to get those shoes on.

He was very disappointed when it was finally time to go back in (ok, there may have been some laying on the floor kicking and crying.)

We went to lunch at Panera and Aaron was a happy guy once again, smiling and saying "hi" to everyone who passed our booth. He'll be 18 months old tomorrow.

Panera has a new tomato and fresh mozerella sandwich that is lovely. I had tomato soup as well, and it still wasn't too much tomato.