Sunday, January 29, 2006

Weekend Report

Ahh... nice to have my husband home again. :)

I did take advantage of his absence by making this healthy version of Sweet and Sour Pineapple Pork.

Next time I make it, I'll have to double up on the pineapple and sauce. It took me 2.5 hours to make on Thursday and it was all gone by Friday evening. It's yummy! :)

Most of my efforts in the past few days went into cutting half-yard pieces into strips. I figured that there was over 40 yards of fabric cut in all. Each half-yard took me about 5 minutes to cut... so somewhere around 7 hours to cut them all!! What you see to the right of the picture is just a PART of the 2.5" stack. I have 1.5", 2", 3.5", 4" and one 4.5" because I was aiming for a 3.5" and forgot to look on what inch I was on. :P

I have truly taken over the entire apartment with my quilting. Bedroom has a large part of my stash, living room has my ironing board, sewing machine and bins of fabric. Bathroom holds all my hand dyeing equipment. Dining room has more fabric, my storage drawers and generally where I would cut. But my back finally couldn't take heavy duty cutting by hunching over the dining table, so I slipped on my sandals with 2" heels and at last, took over the kitchen too! :D And wow... it really helped my back. You may also feel free to swoon over my less-than-superior housekeeping skills. *giggle* I have priorities! And apparently shutting the silverware drawer all the way isn't one of them. ;)

What I'm currently cutting is for Bonnie's Star Struck that I'm gonna use my hand dyes and black Kona with. Should be a stunner! Also cutting squares for the 9-patch due February 1st. Eek. That's like 2 days away! :)


Friday, January 27, 2006

Down, Down, Down!

I did it! I got a UFO finished in time and I wasn't made queen. It's was a looooooong fall. I think I dropped down almost 100 names. At least I shouldn't have to worry for a few weeks! :)

This is the finished Pineapple Log Cabin quilt. I've included the $20 so you can get an idea of the size, and most everybody can agree on the size of dollar bills, while my hand is a pretty unknown variable. ;)

I really regret using batik for the binding... my finger tips killed me! And I couldn't find my needle gripper so I had to borrow my teeth once or twice. But I'm done! That's what counts. I'm thinking about hanging it above my computer. It's good eye candy for quilters. :)

I'm enjoying my few days alone; listen to lots of music, cooking up meals that my husband won't eat, getting to sprawl out in the bed. Going to bed when I want to. But I'll be glad to have him back, I don't like being alone... it's lonely! I'd probably feel better if I had a dog though. :)

A girl's gotta rant sometimes: things have been kinda steamy on the Stashbuster list lately - apparently too many off-topic subjects coming up. Ok, I can understand why you want to keep this list to quilty-related subjects, but I feel like the List Mom is being over-harsh about it. She sent an email last evening saying that any more off-topic postings will result in being kicked off the group. About 12 hours later she announces that she's kicked 7 people off. Yikes!! I feel like she's being unfair because what if some people read the messages from the website and they reply as they go, so what if they haven't read the List Mom's warning yet? And boom! Find themselves kicked off with no logical reason. Now probably half of us on the group are "trembling with fear" of accidently saying something non-quilt related and getting the boot. Ahh, well, such is life and it's her list. If I don't like it, I can always leave. :)

Today's plan to cut more strips to "feed" my stash - and I'm also cutting 2.5" X 6" logs as I go, so I can make two more Pioneer Braid strips. I also got Kabnet Wax Paper at Costco yesterday and the Tri-Rec Tools ruler at JoAnn's. So there's always string quilts and Faceted Jewels to make! :)


Monday, January 23, 2006

It's just a few pieces...

Yeah, a few hundred! You see a total of 333 pieces in 12.5" unfinished Pineapple Log Cabin.

I see lots of miniatures for sale on eBay... they can't be that hard, right? So why did it take me several months? Hrmm. I think 9 months would be closer. I pieced a large portion in the beginning, but I didn't have handy triangle pieces for the corners. Obviously that has since changed and I pushed myself to get the blocks together because if I don't get a UFO finished soon, I'm gonna have to pay a FQ penalty on the Stashbuster list. I have 5 people above me before I will be "queen". And in this case? Queen is baaaaaaaad. :) Must...finish...a...quilt.

I know what border fabric I want to use... but how should I quilt it? I'm thinking simple stitch-in-the-ditch between the blocks. It's already so colorful that thread would just simply ruin it.

And don't worry, this time I did paperpiece it. :)


Saturday, January 21, 2006

Sore Knees and Scrappy Hearts

Not a very good day for me. It started out good, and then my husband and I were heading out to breakfast. I misstepped off the curb and kissed concrete. Ok, I didn't kiss it, but my palms and knees got the biggest of it. I did see some good out of it - my left palm and my right knee have the least damage, so I still can pedal ok and since I'm left handed, I could get away with sewing! :) But my left knee? It's been putting me through a lot of pain that I wouldn't wish on anybody and that I haven't felt it about 13 years. And I probably twisted that ankle or something, it's really throbbing, but I'm still able to stand on it and it's not swelling.

I just really hope that I get better soon! Cuz next weekend my husband is gonna be gone for 3 days and two nights for some student thing (he's a high school teacher). I looked at those days and said "oooh! Sew-a-thon!" I'll be going to Costco and JoAnn's while he's gone. And one of my online groups is having is monthly cyber quilting bee that weekend. It's a really cool group cuz if you post what you're doing (quilty related or not) you get a chance to win a prize. The prizes are also donated by those who participate, but you do not HAVE to donate a prize to win. I usually try to give a little something - FQ or such. I've also won some several prizes, on average, once a month. There's been FQs, a calander, patterns and even a needlecase that I've won. So, next weekend is promising to be productive. :)

After my wedding, I wanted to say a special "thank you!" to a few people who really helped. My uncle and aunt who loaned their house for the wedding, my grandmother's sister who made the hand-out favors and table decorations; and another aunt and uncle who did all the flower arrangements. And what's a better way to say thanks than with a heart quilt?

It's also a sign of insanity. The logs were made from 1" cuts. No paperpiecing. There was quite a bit of "make it fit!" because being even one thread off or a tiny wobble in sewing a line caused quite a bit of missizing in something so small. I stitched-in-the-ditch around the heart to help it pop out and put loops on the back so they could hang it on the wall.

The quilt you see is the one that went to my great-aunt, who unfortunately died about a year ago. She was a pretty "crafty" person, did lots of decorative stuff around her house and enjoyed knitting. I'm just glad the heart got to her in time and she was able to enjoy it for a few months.

I had forgotten how cute those hearts are though... maybe I need to make one for myself. But I'll paper piece this time! :)


Wednesday, January 18, 2006


When I was 7 years old on Christmas morning, I woke up at the breaking of dawn. I knew it was too early to start shrieking "It's Christmas!!!". So I laid in bed for a while and I started to play with my hair. When I was about 4 or 5, my mom showed me how to braid hair on a Barbie. I had seen an aunt of mine French Braid her hair. Could I do it? I tried - the results was a very crooked "weave" on my head and I had "leftover" hair at the bottom of my neck - but I did it! I actually French braided my hair!!

For many years I was the only girl out of 4 in the house would could French braid. When I was about 10 my mom started growing her hair long, and would ask me to French braid hers. It was kinda hard, she'd make the request right after her daily shower and I can't even French braid my own hair wet. And her hair is also very thick. Sometimes she just got a single braid down her back. My baby sister also picked up French braiding and would do my mom's hair sometimes. Now my mom has neck-short hair and my sister loves to do all kinds of complicated braids in her hair. I find it to be a very satisfying hairstyle when it turns out nicely. :)

And yes, that's a hearing aid you see on my ear. I have two. I was born deaf and have been wearing hearing aids since I was 2. I'm in the severe/profound hearing loss range. I'm pretty dependent on lip-reading and feel very shy about meeting new people. My biggest fear being that I won't understand them.

Last night I started putting together a Pioneer Braid quilt. Or is that a block? Strip. It's a braid strip. :)

I went through my drawer of 2.5" strips and began to cut one 6" log from each color. No repeats. I made a game of picking the next log. I'd close my eyes and randomly flip and grab a piece. Or I'd say "ok, I'm gonna lift 8 logs off and use the one that appears." Or I'd stick my finger between two pieces of fabric and pick whichever one appealed to me more. Or I'd randomly pick the log before I got to the strip. No being choosy! :)

But now I know what I can do with a huge stack of one-inch strips I own. Cut them down to 4" logs and make beautiful braids! It's a great "mindless" sewing. Don't have to worry about seams meeting. Don't have to worry about the fabric matching! And the best part of the 2.5" logs? I'm gonna trim off the triangle edges and use them for corners in string quilts. Waste not, want not. :)


Sunday, January 15, 2006

Dye Value

I organized my hand dyed fabric to showcase them. Or to just show off. ;)

I'm surprised at how many pinks I have. I don't favor pink. (Don't look at my shirt that's on right now! I know it's pink! :P) But I imagine some of the pinks are failed purples. There are a few pink/purple pieces that just seem to be on the fence, since they appear 50/50 of each color.

I have my "uglies" in the top left corner. They're not really ugly, they don't fit so well with the others. I think it's because most of the pieces I used either one or two colors, but the uglies are actually all three colors of various amounts - just a little experimenting.

When I buy more dye powder, I'm gonna get the standard red-blue-yellow and also "Dark Green" and maybe black. I'm not happy with the greens that came up. I feel like I can't fully explore the green, not like I did with the pink and purple. I have sage green, grass green, light green, yellow-green, but not the hunter/forest/dark greens that I love.

I really love parfait value dyeing. It's where you mix your color, put your fabric in, add the soda ash solution, wait 5-15 minutes; add another piece of fabric, add more soda ash, another 5-15 minutes; and keep adding fabric. Usually I stopped at 3 or 4 pieces. Each piece keeps getting lighter and lighter and it's like a rainbow within one color. I find it very fascinating. I did it with green, blue, teals, purples and the raspberry reds. Depending on the dyes, from fabric to fabric, it just may be a soft difference, or it may make you go "wow!" at the dramatic change. The purple's bottom piece was actually very dark burgundy-like. The next piece was lighter and more balanced, but still had the red dye accent to it. The third was pretty balanced and the forth was almost blue-purple. Definately something I want to keep exploring. :)

I really multi-task don't I? You keep seeing my posts jump from subject to subject. I talk about scrappy quilts, then the mystery, then dyeing, then the mystery again, then a love block, then the mystery's bonus triangles/Bear's Paw and back to dyeing again! The crazy thing? I really do bounce around all the projects like that. I was afraid to cut in the hand dyed fabrics at first. So I switched over to the Bear's Paw project. Then I reminded myself I can always dye more fabric and I'll create more masterpieces... so go and cut Leah. :) Not to mention that the 9-patch swap is due soon and I need to get beyond the cutting stage. But my machine is "distracted" by the raggy jean quilt that I'm free-motioning (which I haven't even taken pictures of, it's just lots of blue fabric) and I don't want to keep changing presser feet on the machine. And no, I don't have another sewing machine. :)

I'm looking forward to going to Costco in more than a week, I want to get Kabnet Wax Paper, for string piecing. My drawer of strings is starting to get very cramped. I drove myself crazy trying to find the Kabnet paper locally, but everybody on the Stashbuster group seems to find it at Sam's Club or Costco. I have tried using muslin (now I'm out, thanks to dyeing) and it just seems to have too much shifting and wobble to the block. I have paper pieced before and I find paper to work nicely. I already have a bunch of hand dyed "strings" cut - won't the blocks look really pretty with a black center strip? :)


Friday, January 13, 2006

Girly Bear's Paw

Back to the mystery quilt... I doubled sewed the star points so I could get a "bonus" triangle. So I had 96 2" HSTs each of pink and purple. Bear's Paw or Claw was the first thing to pop into my mind. My husband helped me decided that Paw would be a better version.

I never did understand why almost all Bear's Paws out there are in what I call "cabin" colors. Colors you would use to decorate a rustic log cabin. Time for a change! Nice and girly for me. :)

What I need opinions on is... do I sash or not? If yes, do I do one color like in the pictures, or do I go for scrappy? I want there to be a nice balance of pink and purple. I also like the no-sashing idea, but I had a duh moment. If I wasn't gonna sash... then why didn't I sew the blocks together with all the toes pointing inwards?! I'm just kinda stuck this time.

So the blocks are put aside for the moment and now I'm working on making a raggy jean/flannel quilt. Cutting them at 7" square, and will finish at 5". I'm planning to free motion quilt on the squares, play around with new ideas and such. Gotta practice for my future long arm machine, right? ;)


Thursday, January 12, 2006

Tibits of me

Got tagged by Nancy and you might as well know a few more odd things about me. :)

Four jobs you've had: Accounts Payable Clerk, dog and cat sitter, quilter, and go-fer for my parent's company.

Four movies you could watch over and over: The Man from Snowy River, Return to Snowy River, Last of the Dogmen and that's it.

Four places you've lived: Saratoga, California; Milpitas, CA; San Jose, CA; and Sierra Vista, Arizona.

Four TV shows you love to watch: CSI the original, House MD, and the Biggest Loser. Also Simply Quilts, but I don't have cable anymore.

Four Places You've Been on Vacation: Catalina Islands, Maui Hawaii, Crater Lake Orgeon, and Yellowstone Wyoming. Hrmm. All water related. :P

Four Websites You Visit Every Day: The Maverick webring, Stash Quilts webring, gmail and my own blog. :)

Four places You'd Rather Be: Somewhere colder, not here, at my parents, in my own home with lots of acres.

Four Albums you can't live without: Loreena McKennitt's The Book of Secrets, Johnny Cash's American IV, Dixie Chick's Home and a few specific Martina McBride songs.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Breast Cancer Block

Today I made a Breast Cancer Ribbon Block for a gal who just found out she has cancer in her left breast. Thankfully they caught it real soon and hopefully she'll be well on her way to recovery in a few months.

But wow... this sure brings back personal memories. My paternal grandmother had BC, was able to beat it and then a few years later bone cancer killed her. Also one of her sister's had it too; she's still living.

My other grandma didn't have BC, but her sister did. That grandma died of lung cancer I believe. Her husband had died 13 years before that from stomach cancer.

I think my mom had a scare several years ago and her sister also found a lump in her breast, it wasn't cancerous though. They did remove it and it was a nightmare surgery because my aunt was given two drugs, one to put her out and the other to freeze her muscles. The knock-out drug didn't last long enough, she woke up mid-surgery and was able to hear and feel everything that was going on... but she could not move at all. Her heartrate shot up to the sky (which should have been a clue to the doctors!) and she kept trying over and over to speak. Finally she's able to whisper for help and that she can feel everything. They put her out again, but that must have been so traumatizing for her.

I only have my paternal grandfather living - and he had kidney cancer and they removed his kidney to fix that. He also has a lot of heart complications and had a heartattack about 15 years ago. I worry about my dad, since not only did his father have a heartattack, but also his grandfather. Thankfully my dad is in pretty good shape - he hiked up to Mt. Whitney in California in August. I think he's hoping to do Mt. Everest someday. :)

So I hope you gals take a little bit of your time to check for any lumps, to hop over the doctor with any suspisions or doubts. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!


Saturday, January 07, 2006


Finished the New Year's Eve mystery top! Sure feels good - especially since some of you have been patiently awaiting the results. :)

It doesn't have a name. Everybody on the Yahoo group has just been calling it the "NYE Mystery". I really like it when a secondary pattern pops up, in this case, the 9-patches.

There has been discussion about how good this would look scrappy. Some are saying no way! And I kinda understand - if you don't get a good contrast, you could easily flop it. But... I like challenges. I wanna see if I can get away with going really scrappy. I'm thinking that I'll do 3x3 blocks though, a nice baby size. In blues, greens and purples. It's gonna have to go on the back burner for a little while though, I need to catch up on some other stuff. *cough*christmas gifts*cough* :P

I washed all my hand dyed fabric last night at the in-law's. I seperated them by light, darks and reds. There was plenty of dye floating in the red load, but thankfully it didn't attach itself to the lighter fabrics. I credit the Syntherapol soap. I doubled the dose for the red load. Well, apparently a dark red/wine sneaked into the dark load. It didn't hurt the load itself, but when I folded them slightly damp (time was short) it managed to get next to a bright green piece and there's some transfer. D'oh! I'm willing to bet that it'll come out with lots of hot water, but that's why there's no picture of all the fabric yet. I was gonna do a rainbow of colors. It's so pretty, I'm thinking that I just might switch to using hand dyed fabric only! Gotta bust my stash so I can begin to replace them with hand dyes. :)

Some other things I learned from dyeing:
*I should have bought 2 bolts of muslin. I still have leftover dye!
*I like dyeing squarish pieces best - FQs and 1 yard. Not half a yard.
*I should have grabbed my thread snippers, FQs tangle good in the wash!
*I need a knee pad for bending over the tub, mine are pretty cranky. :)
*I don't need to wear a mask when handling the liquids, just when mixing the powders.
*Gloves are also optional when handling the liquid. I have very interesting nails right now. "Look at my nails honey! Ain't they purdy?" :)
*The excess dye liquid will attach itself to any dirt and scum, seen and unseen. Take off any hand/arm jewelry. I had a huge ring of dye in the bathtub each time I dyed, even though I cleaned the tub before using it. It's hopeless. But surprisingly easy to remove.
*Dyeing is fun! And I wanna teach my mom and sister - maybe this summer. :)

I would be afraid to cut the hand dyes (memories of them selling for $16 a yard...) but I have 9-patch swap that's due Feb 1st, so that'll break me into cutting them. :)


Thursday, January 05, 2006

In love with dyeing!

Wow! Who could know that it'd be so much fun playing with chemicals? I dreaded any science in highschool and college. I didn't even get good grades in those class. Ok. So I got a B in college nutrition. From a gal that prefers A's... that really hurt! :)

I was a little freaked out at first - I must have read Ann Johnston's "Color by Accident" 20 times over before actually starting. Which I have to say, it's a GREAT book and the directions make so much sense. Even though she gives you a formula how to do such and such, it was easy to understand how to "play" around with color values.

The hardest part for me was getting the dye powders into useable stock. I was really afraid of spilling some of the powder or urea stuff. I did do it outside. My husband came home right when I was about to start... nothing like being greeted by somebody who's wearing a mask, long rubber gloves and glasses. ;) Oh yeah, that was the annoying part; the urea directions said NOT to wear contacts, so I had to pop on my old scratchy glasses. The ones that my sister SAT on. (Yes, the one that I'm giving the Purple Pineapple Blossom to). We were trying on wedding dresses for me and I took my glasses off to get the dress on and she sat down to look at me... ohhh! So like 2 weeks before the wedding I rushed to get an exam and get contacts and have been wearing them since! Another reason why I love contacts is because they don't slip as you're looking down at the sewing machine needle or rotary cutting. :)

So where was I? Oh, dye stock. Once that was done, it really got exciting. I measured out the first dye and then said "heck with it!" and started squeezing random amounts in. Fun! :) Here's some fabric-in-progress.

Fat quarters work out the best for me.

But I still did try out one 1-yard piece. What a rainbow of colors!

All said and done... I still have 2/3rd of my dye stock left. Wow. So today I washed about 15 more yards of fabric. I'm gonna cut most of them into fat quarters. I will be trying more "specific" stuff tomorrow - like getting a bunch of pastel colors. I'm thinking scrappy baby blanket. I want to try a few more stuff in Ann's book, now that I'm feeling braver since I "dipped my toes in the water". :)

For anybody interested, I live in an apartment; so even in this small space, fabric dyeing is rather doable. My hardest part is getting them washed. I'll be going over to the in-law's tomorrow night and get to use their washer, which is why I'm doing tomorrow's batch in the morning. I have heard of small washing machines that you hook up to your kitchen sink or dishwasher. I'm not ready to make that investment yet. Not with an electric water heater! :)

The cost will pay off in the long run - I lucked out by buying a bolt of roc-lon muslin (25 yards) for $40 - using a 40% off coupon. My mother-in-law bought the dye starter kit ($50-ish) and gave me a $25 gift card to WalMart which I used to buy the supplies that don't come with the kit. I also love to eat and mix cottage cheese with lots of stuff, so I have dozens of cottage cheese containers which are very compatable with FQs. Do remember not to put them back with your regular dishes! :) All in all, for a little over $100 you can dye a bolt of fabric - depending on how much dye you use for each piece.

Do you have any idea how much some people charge for handdyed fabric? I remember last year going to a quilt show and they had this beautiful pack of 20 FQs in jeweled tones for $80!! Yikes! That's $16.00 a yard. My starter bolt is only costing me about $5 a yard. But since I'm thrifty, I'll remind myself I only paid for the bolt of fabric, everything else was covered... so technically, I only paid $1.25 a handdyed yard. Not bad, huh? ;) I kinda feel like I just got a bunch more new and beautiful fabric... without even going to the store! :)


P.S. I'm steadily working on the mystery, should have pictures tomorrow if I don't get too hyped up about dyeing! Oooh. That sounds terrible. :P I accidently said to my husband yesterday, "I love dyeing!" Good thing he knew exactly what I meant! :)

Monday, January 02, 2006

So Far...

... the progress on the mystery quilt went slower than I expected. I woke up at 4am on Saturday instead of 6. Can you say excited? :) Clue #1 goes by fine, onto clue #2; I'm sewing up a storm and trying to get some "bonus triangles" from the pieces and I managed to sew about 30 pieces with no bobbin thread!! Don't you just hate that? Sewing on and on without a single clue that you're just wasting your time and electricity. Blah! :P After that, things moved a little slower and I crashed and fell asleep before getting to clue #3. Can you believe that I slept for 3.5 hours straight?

I kept on sewing until we needed to head over to in-law's for church that evening. Afterwards we stayed until 10pm to watch Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, the new version. I got to my machine at 10:30 and started sewing like crazy. I was still sewing when the new year rolled in - I think that's a great way to start the year, doing what I love! :) Somewhere around 2am I got a huge bird's nest on the bottom. I picked the bad stitches out, rethreaded my machine and said "enough!" and went to bed.

Well, turns out whatever problem I was having with the bobbin area was WAAAAAAAY worse than I thought. On Sunday over and over I was trying to get a plain ol' straight stitch with no luck. Then I knew I was gonna have to get on my knees and get dirty by thoroughly cleaning out the bobbin area. I even took off some bobbin components so I could get behind it to clean it. Wow... the gunk was unbelieveable!! I switched to a less linty thread, and of course my brain said that I wouldn't have as much problems, right? Not that I ever had problems like this before. The good news is with a million q-tips, lots of oil, tweezers and a couple of "ewws!" everything is running smooth again. :)

Back to sewing the mystery... and I got 2 dozen of these today:

What you don't see is that there's gonna be a 9-patch once the sashing and cornerstones are in place. But I haven't gotten that far. I really hope tomorrow? Yet I have big plans tomorrow...

I'm hoping to dye some fabric for the first time ever!!! I got about 10 yards of white muslin ready to go. I went to WalMart and got all the supplies I needed - squeeze bottle, measuring cups and spoons, buckets, rubberbands, funnels and containers. I was all over the store to get what I needed. Did you know that funnels from the car section are cheaper than the kitchen section? Or that buckets are best from the cleaning section? Heck, I don't think I got any of my actual supplies from the craft area! Erg, I did get some fabric! Stuff that starts with B - Backgrounds, Border and Baby. *giggle* ok, Baby isn't really an "authorized" stash-busting fabric. Good thing I haven't signed up for the No-Buy fabric group! ;)