Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Week In Review

Oops... don't tell me I haven't posted in almost a week. Shame on me! But I have my excuses! ;)

Thursday: I discovered a new blog. Nope, not quilty related at all, but I took a peek at her archives and was suckered into reading 21 months posting. She has 7 kids and a very good sense of humor. One of my favorite incidents was when she was watering her flowers and one of her boys came up and said, "You don't need to water those flowers, I peed on them." I laughed so hard that I was crying. And when I tried to tell my husband about it I lost my breath and fell backwards on the couch laughing. :)

Friday: Finished reading The Big Yellow House archives. Had dinner, went to in-laws for my husband's TV shows and I used that time to remove Kabnet wax paper from almost 50 string blocks. Great TV activity, since you don't really need to look at what you're doing.

Saturday: The local Guild's quilt show. Yes, I decided to sign up for the guild. Give it a shot and see what happens! I also took over 200 pictures. I didn't even know that my camera was capable of holding so many! :)

Up first is a Wonky New York Beauty. I never have been drawn to this pattern, but seeing it wonky was really pleasing to my eyes!

I think I fell in love with this quilt just because of all the greenness. Plus, it looks like a great stashbuster pattern!

What a nice twist on Hawaiian Applique. Meow, Meow to you too! :)

I voted this quilt as the Best Wallhanging Applique. I love the very realistic shadowing of the girls on the water. But ahh... don't plan on trying this kind of stuff myself. :)

Seeing this quilt made me hungry! I think was officially called "5 a day". Yeah, if stores carried their fruits and veggies that pretty, I'd be buying lots more! :)

Great kiddie design - log cabins sure can offer many twists and possibilities!

And of course, us quilters always need our therapy. :)

The very best part of the show for me was gettin to try out a HQ Sixteen longarm quilting machine. I played with it for a few minutes before I looked at the quilts and then I spent another 20 minutes at the end of the show playing with it some more. It is SO MUCH FUN!!!!!! I couldn't believe how easy it was to opperate the machine. Press a button on the handles and you're off. I spent a large part of my time free-motioning with it. Hearts, stars, meanders, stippling and even a sunflower. I couldn't not believe how much fun it was! And yes, I remembered to blink. :) I even tried a stencil - did ok, and a panto - I sucked. :) It felt like I was trying to write from two feet away using the laser. But free-motioning was the best! I came home looking like I won a million dollars. I could not stop smiling. :)

This was my very first time every using a long arm or even using a machine on a frame. It was stitch regulated - I wasn't sure how much I'd want a SR, but after trying it out, ohh yeah, gotta get me one. ;) The other thing is that I felt limited with the length of the machine. So now I know that I will want to be looking at a machine with at least 20" of throat space. Check back in 10 years and I might have a set up then. ;) Gotta do a few other things first... like get a house and some moo-lah for the machine. :P

Sunday: I went to Tombstone and checked out the art gallery that was having a display of quilts. I also turned in my information to see about having a quilt or two displayed there. They'll contact me in December! D'oh. And I gave them my current address and I know I'm going to be moving in June. Gotta love mail forwarding. :)

Monday: Turned out waaaaaaaaaay busier than I ever expected. I put away laundry, did dishes, ran to the post office, cleaned out the shower, cooked homemade pizza and graded for about 4 hours on articles. My husband found out that his grades are due this Friday, and not next Friday like he thought. So oops, been rushing to get all the grading done and entered in the computer. He likes me grading the articles because I've been doing it all this time and I'm mean. :) Yup, I mark them off when they deserve it. The kids are getting better about filling the whole page and such, but they're always trying to find more loopholes! The latest thing is not attaching the full newspaper article. It'll say "continued on A4" and when you look for the A4 part... not there! Hmmph. So I mark them off. :)

Tuesday: Been a nice lazy day. I didn't sleep well, my back was misbehaving and my tummy was hurting. All I've done is pull out pork chops for dinner, cut up some fabric for a Birthday Block and spent too many hours on the computer. :P

Tomorrow is also my first guild meeting... hope that goes well! Heck, I hope I wake up in time. I am not a morning person. :)


Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Don't think I'm a winner

Here's the two quilts I donated to the local quilt shop in hopes of winning a Janome sewing machine. I was really hoping that I'd win, and then my mom could have a good quilting machine. It's amazing how the right tools make a job sooooooo much easier!

First up is a Trip Around the World, started in 2002 and finished in 2003. This was before I had a clue about scrappy quilts and having an actual stash. Sadly, I don't have any of the fabrics left and have only been able to find and buy the blue. I loved the purple. :)

And the long awaited Girly Bear's Paw. I was thinking about cutting one-inch purple sashing strips, to sorta make it look like a binding around each block, but I went with 1.5" unfinished strips. Gives a nice balance I think. :)

The oh-so-colorful backing! I can't help but wonder... which side of this quilt is going to be this kid's favorite? I didn't make the backing long enough, so I tacked on a 4" strip of purple that was already cut. Hey, why make extra work for myself when I can just grab the top strip from the 4" box? ;) Well, ok, I did make sure it was purple. :P

My aunt emailed me the other day - told me that my sister Sarah got a kitten. I'm so happy for her; it just seems too weird to think about my parents not having any pets at their house when they've had dogs for 15 years straight.

My aunt also sent some pictures of Missy. Seeing them made me cry a little... I miss Missy so much! (She died in July 2005). But I'm really glad to have these pictures. I think she looks like she's giving you a "chin up" in this one. :)

This picture also makes me miss green! It's so dull here. As in, it doesn't rain until July (monsoon) and so right now everything is just yellow and dead. One of the biggest clues that it's been unseasonally warm here... the mountains don't have any snow on them. In 2004 they had snow until April! So I put this picture on as my desktop and now I can get a nice dose of green every day. :)


Saturday, February 18, 2006

Strippy Scrappy Binding

Whew... blogger was a little grumpy about uploading 6 pictures, but I got around it. :)

So let's start... first you need strips. I used 2.5" strips, but you could use any size you want. Of course, the smaller they are, the more seams. You could even do various sizes - 2", 2.5", 3", 4" and so on. The amount of strips are going to depend on how scrappy you want the binding and how big your quilt is... so it's up to you to figure that out. You do need the strips to be the same length though. I used the width of the fabric.

You're going to need to cut off the corner at a 45 degree angle. In the picture below it shows the ruler in the 45 degree place. Only one side of the strip needs to be angle cut.

(Yay! I remembered to close the rotary cutter. That's a weakness of mine. :P)

Next you need to sew the strips together. To make them line up after they're sewn, you need to let the corner overlap it by 1/4th of an inch. I didn't match up the fabric yet, but you can see how the corner overlaps the bottom piece.

Iron the strips open with the seams going all in one direction.

Now you should have one big diagonal piece. This is where you begin to cut the binding strips. I used 2.5", but I've heard that some like 2.25" or even 2". So just cut the binding strips into whatever width you like to bind with.

Hindsight is 20/20... My 10 strips were longer than the ruler, so it made it a little awkward to cut. I realized that I could have sewn them into two sections of 5 strips. It would mean more contineous-binding sewing, but no big deal. Also, you're dealing with a more noticeable bias here, so be careful with how you shift the fabric around.

Next you need to sew the strips into contineous binding.

Again, you need to have a quarter-inch overlap - this time on both ends.

Sew all the strips together into however long of a binding you need. Iron the joins and then proceed like normal and sew the binding to the quilt.

Here is the binding folded together and ironed.

If you haven't done this method of bindings before, here's a link to how to put bindings on. And here. And here! Pick whatever works for you. :)

Don't forget that you're working with the bias, so it's going to stretch easier and you need to be careful as you hand sew down the binding that you're not distorting it. I was binding as I was watching the Olympics and seeing some of the contenders and boo-boos they would make made me nervous. My palms got sweaty, I forgot that I was holding the quilt, eyeballs glued to the TV until commercial... and then I started to notice the binding was getting distorted because the heat and moisture of my hands was acting like an iron. Oops! :)


Thursday, February 16, 2006

Aftermath of V-day

I had a pretty nice Valentine's day, even though we didn't do anything! :) Well, my husband came home, gave me my hug and kiss as usual and said "Happy Valentine's Day!" *giggle* That's it, that's all. :D

This is how we wanted it. I don't want to spend any money right now because of the tax thing and I already asked for a Valentine's "gift" of my husband taking me to Tombstone some time this month. At the Tombstone art gallery, they're having a month-long quilt display. Many of them are also for sale. I just like being around quilts and getting inspired. :)

Well, I did experiment with making pizza dough on Tuesday. Hence, the lopsided crust. :)

But instead of tomato sauce, I used BBQ sauce. Then chicken, then cheese. It looks burnt, but it was actually pretty good! We'll have to make it again, but with tomato sauce. My favorite kind of pizza is ham and pineapple. Yum!! :)

I free-motioned the entire Girly Bear's Paw quilt yesterday. I love free-motion quilting! I only wish I had more table space, I had a few tight spots that gave my arms a good work out. :)

I tried to give the toe points "claws". They're imperfect... but so are real bear's claws! :) And I started to put the binding together, except I must have been too tired for my own good and I sewed the same strip's ends together! :P Pick that out, try again. Well, on the second take, I managed to sew two seperate strips together... except I sewed the diagonal wrong! So instead of being one long strip, they're still stuck at a right angle that won't open. D'oh! I gave up there and went to bed. :)

I'm trying to get myself to promise that I'll have the spiral binding tutorial by Saturday. Hrmm. Should be possible, since my husband has to do some in-service thingie at school. Another weekend messed up for him :( Last weekend it was a dance that he had to help set up and take down. I just wish he could get extra pay for all these events... teacher's aren't paid enough as it is!

I'm off to work on the binding, and keep an eye on the bread that's rising. I just hope the painters hurry up and finish out there, cuz they taped all our windows off and it's really dark and gloomy and hot cuz we can't open the window. Yes, I know, it's Feb-ru-ary... we had the air conditioner on the other night. :P


Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Binding, clean machine and Guilds

I think I'm hooked on the Olympics this time... I haven't watched them since the 1990s, except maybe the last 20 minutes of the 2002 Woman's figure skating. That's my favorite of all. :) I only wish they'd show all the events at once, instead of flipping back and forth between three or 4.

It really helps that I'm doing hand sewing for this quilt's binding while watching the Olympics. I think you can guess what it might be, if you've read my past posts. I did take pictures of the spiral binding process, so later this week I should have a mini tutorial put up for ya.

On Sunday Bonnie shared a website that shows how to clean your machine and I tried it out yesterday... and wow!! An amazing amount of gunk came out, even though I had tried to oil it clean less than two months ago. I'll have to clean it again in a month, just to make sure that there isn't a huge build up again. But it sure feels great to have a cleaner machine! :)

Last of all... quilt guilds. I'm *thinking* about joining the one in town, but I'm really unsure. I hear good stuff - that being in a guild gets you a 10% discount a JoAnn's; that they can be the gateway for retreats and good deals; that I'll be able to enter my quilts in their annual quilt show and maybe even sell some of them. But I hear negative stuff too - that there's often sides, quilt police and elite fabric requirements. Have even heard that when one member offers a service (like longarm quilting) other guild members tend to say negative stuff, pick on the person and so on. Not that I have a longarm (I wish!) but I'm wondering how often these kind of issues can crop up.

And one last thing... how much will my deafness get in the way? I'm heavily dependent on lip reading - cover your mouth in any way, I'm doomed. So, how much chatter and verbal information get discussed at guild meetings? Can I count on a paper to list upcoming events and important information? Will I be asked to participate a lot? I'm not very good at social interaction, especially in noisy/crowded places. I do realize that most quilt shows and retreats tend to be noisy.

I might have a small advantage - I live in a "snowbird" town, and soon the snowbirds will be moving back up to their summer homes, so I won't have to face the whole guild at once. Ahhh... this is one of the moments I wish my sister lived near by - I could make her come with me and sign everything. Problem solved! Except for the thousand-miles-between-us thing. :P


Sunday, February 12, 2006

I didn't promise you a Rose Garden

Some of you may recall the New Year's Eve mystery I made and how I mentioned that I wanted to try making it scrappy. I did make one modification.

Let's trace back to Thursday evening, where I was in the bathroom flipping through 101 Fabulous Rotary Cut Quilts by Nancy Martin and Judy Hopkins. (Nevermind that I was in the bathroom... consider it practice for when I have kids and I need two minutes to hide. :P) I love that book because when I put it aside for a while and then flip through it again, I get new ideas! Well, that night's idea came from Blackford's Beauty. It's pretty similiar to the mystery pattern, except it has a star in the center. Then another idea popped in my head... what if I try to make the center star look like a flower? And make the star points green like leaves? Toss in a little blue for a sky. I love it when inspiration hits... I had over half of the quilt cut out on Thursday! By Saturday afternoon I had the quilt top done.

It doesn't really look like a rose... mostly because the center piece doesn't flow with the other red/pink fabrics, but I still like it! :) It's scrappy... but has great contrast and should look pleasing on a wall. Now to finish it... ;)

I'm in a birthday block swap for the 2006 year. It stinks that my birthday is last on the list - November 12th. :P The biggest problem is that life can often get in the way over the whole year... so I'll be happy if I get half of the blocks I'm supposed to get! Maybe next time I do this, I'll steal my husband's birthday - May 23. Not to mention that I love May's birthstone, emeralds. My wedding ring is made out of 3 emeralds and 2 diamonds. :)

All birthday blocks are supposed to be 12.5" unfinished, so I simply took Bonnie's Pineapple Blossom and added another round of logs and geese to make it the right size.

The color request was purple with black background... and not until I was well into the sewing process did it cross my mind that oops... maybe she doesn't like scrappy! I'm sorry, but I just simply cannot comprehend that. How can you not like scrappy? Scrappies are beautiful, controlled or wild, it's great looking at all the different fabrics and designs!

So let's hope the birthday gal likes it... if not, I'll always be glad to have the block back! :)


Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Fulfilling Day

This morning I decided I was gonna start making some bread. I think I started making bread back in 2001. My mom was among many of the Y2K "panic" and she stocked up on dry goods. We're talking about the 50 pound bags of various goods, which included sea salt, sunflower seeds, and several different kinds of wheat berries. She also had an electronic and hand grinder. I loved grinding up Nova Wheat Berries for break making. Yes, I used the electronic grinder since it wasn't as tricky as the hand grinder. But that and the oven were the only electronic things I use to make bread.

I strongly recommend "Laurel's Kitchen Bread Book" by Laurel Robertson. I see that they have an updated version available at Amazon if anybody's interested. What I really like about Laurel is that she isn't like most cookbooks that say "ok, mix all the ingredients together, kneed it until it's supple, let it rise until double..." I've tried that... disaster! It never rose properly. Laurel actually tells exactly what to do. She said to kneed the dough for at least 20 minutes or 600 strokes. It might be a crazy amount, but the results are fantastic! She also explains what happens when you poke the dough - too early, it'll start to fill back in, just right it'll stay poked, too late the dough will "sigh". I've had that happened to me once or twice. :P

But today's results produced the biggest loaves I have ever seen from homemade bread! It went nearly double over the edge of the loaf dish. I'm just thrill, it tastes great and I always feel good when my husband will eat lots of slices. I should do it more often! :)

Nevermind that it did take me about 7 hours from start to finish to make those loaves. I used the rising times to sew! I'm happily working on Bonnie's Star Struck... although I think I'm gonna have to call my version "A Day Late and a Dollar Short".

I already mentioned the woes of running out of thread right before I was finished in my previous post. Well yesterday I was sewing on the corner triangles (gotta love 'aim and shoot!') and I was exactly 2 black squares short. D'oh! Today I started to put all pieces into blocks... and you can see that I'm one block shy of 20. I'm planning on more blocks, but I hadn't cut enough black for it yet. I just keep getting the feeling that I'm going to be a little short again and again on this quilt! ;) But it's too pretty and easy to think about giving up. I'm seriously considering making it bed size... for my own bed! What else is a gal supposed to do with her very first batch of hand dyes? :)

And if you want a slice of the bread? Come on over! Although I might need to run to Costco and grab a 50 pound bag of their Bread Wheat flour... but I have plenty of butter. Anybody have some homemade honey? I've tried it before and it's sooooooooo good! :)


Monday, February 06, 2006

Blog Updates

Over on the right side I've begun to update my blog list. I don't think I'm done, but I might have a small headache that prevents me from thinking clearly. :P

I went ahead and included the entire Maverick and Stash rings because I do read them everyday... if not two or three times a day. :) So if you're on the list, know that I read you, even if I don't happen to comment.

Nothing to show and tell this time... last night I decided to play around I get an idea what our tax refund was gonna be. I wasn't expecting it to be as big as last year's, but certainly a few hundred, no? Imagine my shock when I realized we OWED a hefty sum of money!!! I don't know exactly what happened, but somehow only $4 more was taken out for Federal taxes in 2005 compare to 2004. Well, that's not too bad... except that since my husband worked a full year in 2005, we had a 50% increase in the income.

I really wanna protest that it's unfair... every other deduction looks right on for his income. So why did the Federal witholdings get messed up? It's not my fault... *whine*... his check was right about what we expected. There was absolutely nothing that red-flagged us. But I know the IRS doesn't care. It's not their fault either.

Let me just say that I'm really glad I have a nice stash to work through, cuz I think it's gonna be around the middle of summer before I can safely buy fabric again. And I'm also glad I found out now... gives me a chance to save up for what's due. Definately tightwadding it until April 15th.

At least I'm still sewing. I spent a good hour at my machine today, working on the Star Struck pattern from Bonnie's site. Of course, as I was sewing my very last piece... I ran out of bobbin thread a quarter of an inch away from being finished. And of course all my wound up bobbins were empty. But it was nice letting myself think for a while that empty bobbins were my biggest problem. Quilting is the best! :)


Friday, February 03, 2006

Bright enough for ya?

Remember how I told you I was squaring up some 4-patches? Well, here they are!

I'm planning on this to be the backing of the girly Bear's Paw quilt. And then I'm gonna donate it to Project Linus! :) Sure hope it doesn't give some girl nightmares. :P

It was really freeing sewing this together - I wasn't caring if points matched or anything. My only goal was not to have any same fabric blocks directly touching each other. You know how kids are...
"Eww! Mommy! She touched me!"
"I didn't not, the wind blew my hair!"
"Mommy! She BREATHED on me."
And then Mommy wants to know where can she go to resign. ;)


P.S. No, I don't have kids, but I'm young enough to still remember sitting in the car and saying "chop, chop, chop" with my hand to clearly define where the sibling sits and where I get to sit. Do NOT cross that invisible line! :)

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Hopping Around

I feel like I'm in a whirlwind right now. Husband took Monday off, so now I have my days mixed up and it feels like Tuesday instead of Wednesday. Hopefully watching The Biggest Loser tonight will help me straighten my days out. :P

I did get to experiment (with some frogging!) on the Tri Rec Tools, Companion and Easy rulers. I need to work on my seam allowance a little, but soon I should be comfortable with them and be producing pretty flying geese and rectangle triangles. Scrappy, of course! :)

Yesterday was quite a bit of running around. Husband forgot his briefcase and asked me to bring it to him on his lunch break. I figured since I'm going out, I might as well get some stuff in the mail too. And then after I had dropped off the briefcase, but before reaching the post office, I stopped at Walmart to get a blender. I had received a blender for my birthday in November 2004 and after blending up over 200 shakes for me and quite a few other stuff, it finally just spun it's blades in whiny protest and was declared dead. :) The new blender? It stinks. I'm just gonna use it to hold me off until I can go to Costco again and get a better blender for the same price. That's one thing I love about Walmart - they're kinda forgiving about returns and don't exactly have a time restriction. I should know...

When I first got married I took my mom's 20 year old Kenmore sewing machine with me. Apparently it was used to sewing out a couple pieces of clothing every year for the first 15 years of it's life, not more heavy stuff... like lots of chain stitching, every day! :P It squeaked through for a couple of months, and depsite lots of oiling and cleaning and head scratching it was slowly starting to bite the dust. Well, actually it whined it's way to death too. What's with me and whiny machines? It was bad enough that my husband could tell something was wrong... but what was I to do? We were newly married and hadn't exactly had much money to spare. Finally one night I was trying to load the bobbin in... again and again and again and again and again... If you know what I'm talking about, bobbins that are front load tend to take two "clicks" to be properly in place. First you wiggle the bobbin in place and it clicks in, then you need to pull a little on the case's handle to get the second click. Well, the machine was taking the first click, but I could never get a second click to happen that night. I'd lower to the needle to grab up the thread... and the whole bobbin and case would fall out. Finally I burst into tears, ran into the bathroom and cried my eyes out. Just probably too much pressure from all the weeks of fighting with the machine and constantly hitting a dead end.

What's my poor husband to do? Buy me a new machine, of course! ;) Yup, at 11:30 that night we headed over to Walmart, studied machines for half an hour and finally picked a Singer. That was October 2004. I spent the next 4 months hunting around for a sewing machine. Well, actually I was trying to decide exactly which Bernina I wanted (Quilter's Editions or the 1230? 1130? 1260?) and in the end of January 2005 I won a Bernina 150 QE on eBay. Believe me, it felt like I was going from a broken down 1980 car (Kenmore) to a poor fitting, too small car (Singer) to a new top-of-the-line Mercedes (Bernina). Can you tell that I'm still thrilled with my Bernina? :D

The point? More than 6 months after I had bought the Singer, I boxed it back up, took it to Walmart with the receipt, asked to return it... and they took it, no questions!! Well, they wanted to know why I was returning it, and I told them it was meant for a right-handed person (the foot lever was flipping to the right side, had to use your right hand to lift it, yuck!) and I'm left-handed and I don't want to deal with it anymore. "Ok, here's your money back." And with that wad of cash, I promptly spent half of it on fabric! :) So they're surprisingly easy with returns, and that's what I'm gonna do with my blender as soon as I have a better one. :)

At the post office I mail the bills - one was one day away from being due - that's never happened to me! I was so mad at myself that I accidently overlooked it and I'm not sure if I squeaked by or not. I'm NEVER late on paying the bills. Never, never, never. They were late in mailing it to me, so that messed me up. Yup, that's my excuse. :) And I also got the 9-patch swap in the mail. So in about a month I should get a large variety of 9-patches. Place them with snowball blocks and I'll have a pretty scrappy! :)

After my husband got home yesterday, I spent several hours grading his student's articles. He accidently forgot that Student Progress Reports were due and was in a bit of a snit trying to get everything graded and into the computer. Grading articles is something I can do because I have this index card that tells me what mark off for such and such. I'm an evil person, I'll ruthlessly mark them off. It probably helps that I don't know these people and I'm not gonna have to deal with their whining at low marks. :P But come on people... how hard it is to have the summery paragraph, opinion paragraph and fill the ENTIRE page? And a paragraph isn't one sentence. So there! :) But so, no sewing yesterday.

Today in the mail I received a box of 4-patches in BRIGHT kid colors. They need to be trimmed down and then I'll make quilts out of them. They're really great because they could be both the front and a backing of a quilt. And the colors! So bright and cheerful. :) Pictures will come soon.

A few hours later the UPS knocks and drops off two boxes! One turned out to be the set of kitchen knives that I asked for from my parents for Christmas (yes, we're late on giving each other gifts... so what?) and the other box turned out to be a 15 year old quilt from a family friend! I knew she wanted help in finishing it, but hadn't been expecting the quilt any time soon.

Mrs. P said that she was working on the quilt through a class 15 years ago, but then she went into labor with her daughter and everybody knows how time-consuming newborns can be, so she never got the quilt finished. I told her to send it over to me and I'll try my best to salvage it.

I've gone over it and it shouldn't be too much trouble at all, but wow, it shows its age! Bonnie was talking about little dot hearts fabric... I wasn't exactly sure what she was referring to, but this quilt has no less than three different heart fabric! Ohhhh. Now I know what the fabric is. :) Also, there's no rotary cutting instructions. Wow. I haven't used my scissors for anything but thread and trimming dog ears or triangles off. I'm rotary all the way! But I'm gonna enjoy finishing this quilt. Poor Mrs. P, I think she wanted to make sure she got EVERYTHING that possibly goes with the quilt, so she sent me her supply baggie with needles, bobbins, a few spools of thread, and whatever other sewing stuff she's accumulated over the years. Tucked in with the instructions for the log cabin quilt was her own sewing machine manual! I had a nice laugh and I'll be sure to send it back. :)