Monday, December 13, 2010

Busy, Busy

It's been a busy couple of weeks - busy with holiday preparations. Shopping, wrapping, mailing. Steady progress has been made. I'm determined to not have a stressful holiday and so far I've been successful. There hasn't been much time in the sewing room or the stitching/knitting chair as a result. I did manage to finish one of the applique blocks for $5 quilt.
For me, baking and sending out holiday cards is a sign that things are going well. This past week saw cards getting to the post office and the baking of two batches of cookies! It's a small baking session but I'm considering it done. Most of the cookies are gone - just a few saved in the freezer for Christmas Day. These are the Neiman Marcus cookie.
Yes, I have navy blue countertops.
No, I don't know what I was thinking!

I also got a chance to go by the Holiday Open House hosted by my quilt shop. Everyone received a coupon for 50% off any item and all fabric off the bolt was 30% off . Nancy Mahoney was also there with a trunk show. She is a fabric designer for P&B and an author of several quilt books. Her most recent is Treasures from the 30's. Her quilts are gorgeous (sorry no pictures of those). She'll be teaching a class next month at my quilt shop. I'll probably not take her class as January is already busy with business travel and a few other things (more to come on that in late January).
I'm also traveling to Atlanta on Monday. Flight leaves at 6:30 am and I'm back at 6:30pm the same day. Ugh! I'm not looking forward to that. It will be a long day. I have the week after Christmas off and I'm really looking forward to getting back to some serious stitchy time!

I hope each of you are having a wonderful holiday season - one with as little stress as possible!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Getting Back in the Groove

Thank you to all my readers for your supporting comments on my last post. I appreciate each and every one of you and I cannot even begin to tell you how much your support means to me.

I've not been stitching much since I got back from vacation but I have managed to make a bit of progress on Jenny Bean's Halloween Sampler. I am finding that I like stitching letters as they seem like quick little finishes. Looking at this photo, I realize I have forgotten to go back and add those two single crossed stitches that are on either side of the moon.
Progress on Jean Bean's Halloween Sampler
In the last month, I've won two giveaways! I was thrilled and surprised to win both. This beautiful pair of scissors and the fob came from Averyclaire. She is a very talented quilter and stitcher. I've already put both of these to good use! Please visit her blog and say hello!
Then I won a skein of Wollmeise 100% from Lina at Photo.Knit.Dog. She is a wonderful knitter and photographer. Her handknits always fit her beautifully. The color of this yarn is very saturated - I could use some serious photography lessons from Lina! Visit her blog and you'll see what I mean. I've been thinking of this skein of yarn and need to find the perfect shawl pattern for it that makes the best use of it's 574 yards.
Wollmeise 100%
I did get a little sewing in this weekend after not laying a hand on my sewing machine for well over a month. I did a little of this and a little of that and didn't get a whole lot accomplished but it still felt good! We also got our tree up - it doesn't look much different than last year - and we wrapped and packaged up four big boxes of gifts to be mailed out tomorrow for our 3 nieces and nephew. Now to shop for the adults, bake cookies, and get Christmas cards out! Loads to do but I'm feeling pretty good with where I am so far. Hopefully I won't see any "X Days to Christmas" widgets anywhere!

Thursday, December 2, 2010


Over the past few months, much has been going on that has caused me more than a little anxiety:

1. My mother was diagnosed with the very beginning stages of dementia.

2. My job - total upheaval and change. Not necessarily bad but dramatically and completely different.

3. Add to that the typical stress of life. Not enough time. Hustle and bustle.

I have most definitely been in a funk period as a result of all of the above. I'm not prone to whining or complaining so I've kept most of this very private or have spoken in very general terms.

This past weekend (Thanksgiving weekend in the US), I received a real dose of perspective. Dan is home on leave from deployment overseas. He's the one on the right in the picture below. The one with the uncombed hair is my son. He's been friends with Dan for several years.
Dan came over for a couple of hours Sunday night to talk to me because he knew I wanted to see him. He was deployed in May almost directly from Basic Training and he's been through so much. He's always been very chatty so he shared a lot.

He's been shot. In the head. His kevlar helmet saved his life. Most of us will believe that it was more than a helmet that is responsible for him being here today.

He works 12+ hours a day 7 days a week. He also has PT daily. He's a medic with a trauma unit (level 2 I think he said) that receives wounded directly from the front line. That is, if he's not out there treating them in the field while putting his own life in the line of fire. He has seen unthinkable things.

When he goes back, he's being assigned to a new squadron. Dan shared with me the prior 8 medics with this squadron have been "lost".

Lost meaning ALL prior 8 medics were shot. 4 fatally.

My worries? Insignificant. Funk to thankfulness and a new positive perspective with a single conversation.

Please keep Dan and the thousands of others serving their country across the world in your thoughts and prayers. They truly need them.

Saturday, November 20, 2010


I know many stitchers are seasonal stitchers. I think I have my seasons mixed up! I started Jenny Bean Halloween last week while we were on vacation. I'm using the called for fabric and the limited edition thread pack for this project. The picture below isn't flattering at all as it was taken indoors after dark. I struggle with getting nice pictures of stitching - it's so difficult!
Jenny Bean Halloween Start 11/10
It's hard to believe that we'll celebrate Thanksgiving in the US on Thursday. Time has flown this year. Do you have special plans? My parents will be driving up and hopefully my sister will be coming with them. With my mother in law, we'll be a small gathering - just the 8 of us - but we'll enjoy spending the day together.

We're now in the holiday season where things get crazy. We don't have small children anymore but do like to have a traditional Christmas holiday with some surprises for all. We also have family in Austin and Phoenix with little ones and it's always exciting to get something special for them. There are generally two things that indicate how organized I am for the holidays. 1: Whether or not I get Christmas cards out and 2: Whether or not I make cookies from scratch. This year I hope to do both!

If I don't get a chance to post again this week, I wish you all a happy and safe Thanksgiving!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

We're Back

We're back from a week long visit to the Smoky Mountains. Greg & I had a wonderful time and miss it already. We rented a cute little cabin. It was really cozy. Here's a view from the loft:
We had a great view from the back deck. We didn't get to spend much time here because it was either cold or dark when we were there. Not a lot of fall color compared to prior years but he view is still beautiful.
One of the best part of the trip was seeing snow! I wanted to be out in it while it was snowing but the major snowfall happened the night before we got there. The higher elevations within the park got 8.5" so we went looking for it 2 days after we arrived when the roads were opened in this area. There was loads of snow near Newfound Gap. Or at least this is a lot of snow to me. I know many of you don't get my excitement but I've lived in the south most of my life and in Florida for 3 decades. I can count the number of times I've seen snow on one hand and have fingers left over!
We cancelled the hike we had planned for this particular day. I'm not sure I could make it down the inclines safely nor do I know how I'd manage to climb back up. This trail is off the parking area for Clingmans Dome. It happened to also be very windy there.
We did find some other trails to hike later in the week and had a great time. Here is a picture of a favorite water crossing. The tree is really quite sturdy to walk on and the hand rail was worn smooth by the hands of the hikers before us. It was fun!
I should have taken pictures of all the stuff I took with me. I took books, stitching, knitting projects (3), my Jo's Little Women applique and my hand quilting project. Almost all of it was untouched. I read a couple of books and started a new stitching project. It was very comforting to have it all with me "just in case". Greg is always so accepting of all the stuff I like to take with me and never complains about the extra packing and unpacking. This time, I even took my stand up Verilux light which I used every day.

So we're home again and getting back into the groove of our normal life and routines. I have over 400 blog postings to read and hope to get through those soon. I'm really looking forward to seeing what you've been up to while I was gone!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Quick Update

I've finished this block a bit quicker than I anticipated so I thought I'd post a quick update. I have a little bit of finish work to do in the green center but that shouldn't take long once I get to it. I have 2 blocks to complete this project. Unfortunately, they're the type of block that I enjoy less than this one. So it might be a while!
Quakers and Quilts Progress
I'm thinking of starting a new knitting project. I'm not sure the yarn is going to work with the pattern. Going down a needle size might help. We'll see. This picture does not do the yarn justice. It's really a bit shiny in person and the color is more vibrant. Hopefully it will end up as a shawlette for my mom. It's not for Christmas unless it just happens to get done. I don't do deadlines generally. Nothing takes the fun out of a project faster - at least for me!
Happy Stitches!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

A Bit Quiet

It's time for my Bernina to go in for it's annual service. I dropped it off yesterday afternoon.
My sewing room looks empty.
I do have some quilting related activities set up and ready to go. I've pieced 8 setting triangles and 1 block that need applique fused onto them. The black rolled up fabric is my Jo's Little Women project that needs hand quilting. It's about half way finished. I also have my needle turn applique for the next project to do. As you can tell, I've made zero progress on it since I posted about it. I'm not going to be able to get all this completed in the next couple of weeks while my machine is in the shop due to other activities we have planned. It sure is nice to have options though! I have a couple of stitching and knitting projects to work on too so there won't be a lack of things to do.
Things around here will be a bit quiet for the next couple of weeks or so. I'll still be visiting your blogs and seeing what you have going on! My blog list gets longer every day! Thank you for visiting and I'll be back soon. Happy Stitches!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Mail Call!

The mailman brought goodies on Monday. I received my package from the Heather Ross Studio Sale. This is a $25 package. I didn't expect the Flea Market Fancy nor did I expect a personalized print. We had no idea what we were going to get.
Heather Ross Studio Sale 10/10
Then I got the Flea Market Fancy I purchased from the Lucy & Norman Destash! 21 fat eights of an out of print and hard to find fabric line.
Flea Market Fancy Acquisition 10/10
There is very little sewing going on but I did finish my pieced block for October for the $5 Quilt. The center block has a little give in it but not enough to worry about. It will quilt out so it stays. Other than this block, I've pieced together a few background blocks for the applique on this same quilt. I'm behind and hoping to somewhat catch up. I must admit, I'm not feeling it now though so it's probably going to sit for a while.
October $5 Quilt Block 2010
I've been in more of a stitching mood lately. Our sampler guild met on Saturday - I didn't really get a lot done there but I've kept at it since then and I've made a lot of progress when you consider my normal stitching pace. I have 3 motifs left on Quakers and Quilts and my mind is already turning to the next project. No decisions yet.

Our weather has turned hot again. Almost hitting 90 today. I'm so ready for the cold weather to get here. I want open windows and fresh air! This weekend it's supposed to dip below 80 and I'm really looking forward to it.

Thank you for visiting my blog! I have a long list of blogs I follow and I rarely miss reading them. I'm always so interested and inspired by what everyone is doing. Bloggers are awesome in so many ways, I appreciate each of you! Happy Stitches!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Exploring Something New and and Update!

As I shared in my last post, my Jo's Little Women's class last weekend had instruction around hand applique. I've only machine appliqued so I took loads of notes. The method Jan taught us is commonly referred to as Back Basting but Jan uses the term Perfect Placement. In this method, you don't cut out templates that are fussy or can get lost. The first thing to do is to pin your applique pattern face up to the background fabric which is also face up. Pining has it's own technique as you want to make sure the background fabric is pinned smoothly to the pattern without any "bubbles".
We laid a sheet of tracing/transfer paper - we used Saral - underneath your background fabric facing the back of the fabric. We didn't pin this to the backing fabric because we wanted to move the transfer paper around as our pattern was bigger. We used a Sewline Tracer to trace the pattern onto the back of the fabric by following the lines on the paper pattern that we pinned to the background fabric. If you have not tried the Sewline Tracer, you must. It glides like butta! I used the ruler to make the lines for the stems straight and the template to make the circles more circular. I'm sure they won't end up that way though!
Flip over your fabric and there is your pattern!
This is as far as I've gotten so far as I'm waiting on my silk thread to back baste. I'm using Sherri's tip for that which I'll share with you when I give you an update.

I finally finished the next motif on Quakers and Quilts by Rosewood Manor. I'm stitching this on the called for fabric with the called for threads. The lower half of this project seems to be going much slower for me.
I'm thinking of pulling out something new to start....something small. We'll see where I go on that. Something new is always fun!

I hope you're enjoying your week. I always appreciate your visits and comments and I enjoy visiting your blogs as well. Happy Stitches!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Weekend Update

I finished this Stitchers Garden block this week. This block used the #31 pin tuck foot to add piping. I enjoyed it but this isn't my favorite block. I don't like the stitch I picked for the quilting of the background. They can't all be my favorite!
My technique needs come work but I can see myself using it again in other quilts. I really like the little pop of color.
Today was our Jo's Little Women Club meeting. Our leader and instructor for this club is Jan Vaine. Jan has a book coming out next year. She brought 2 of the projects to our meeting that will be included in the book. They're silk and let me tell you, they are GORGEOUS! She is truly a talent.
Jan Vaine
She brought her projection setup for the class. We didn't even have to get out of our chairs to see her demonstrations. This time around we're learning hand applique - specifically needle turned applique that is back basted. I have heard so much about hand applique that I'm going to give it a shot. I love to learn new techniques and there are SO many!
Two ladies had their quilts from last month completely finished. Mine is basted and I just started the hand quilting stage so it will be a bit before mine is ready to show. I will say that one my blocks ended up as a coaster!

Here is Marilyn with her quilt. I love the touch of green!
And this is Nancy with hers. Her stitches are tiny.
Everyone is so nice and Jan is a wealth of knowledge. I have learned so much from her already. Funny thing is that the Jo Morton fabrics never appealed to me but in these smaller projects I'm totally in love with them (and furiously collecting, I might add). I am so glad that I'm not a natural at this quilting thing as it's been so rewarding to learn and to grow. Doing things perfectly right from the beginning sure would be boring I think. At least that's what I tell myself - if that isn't true, I don't want to know! :)

My knitting and stitching projects are progressing slowly but I promise that I'm still knitting and stitching. Nothing to show there. I hope each of you are having a fantastic weekend. Florida is experiencing a sunny but cooler weekend. I'm loving it! Happy Stitches!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

100% Finished!

This weekend I put the last stitch in the binding of this quilt. This is the 2nd quilt I pieced and is the first bed size quilt that I have finished. I was originally going to use a green fabric for the binding but decided to use the same brown as the backing fabric.
First Completely Finished Quilt
Our temperatures are back into the high 80's this week. I'm glad this quilt is finished in time for the cooler temperatures that are hopefully on their way. Greg and I are both tall so we'll probably use this as a lap quilt. Perfect for snuggling!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Sneak Peeks

Here's a sneak peek at my first project for Jo's Little Women Club at my LQS. The marker is for scale. There are 17 pieces in each block. I've never done a Courthouse Steps or a Log Cabin block before. The key to the Log Cabin block is to keep the piece most recently added closest to you as you sew on the next piece. Once finished, I'm going to hand quilt this small project. I'm actually a bit nervous about that! Anyone out there have any hand sewing tips?
Here's an almost empty project box. Actually I'm not going to use the fabric shown for my binding so that yard or so of fabric can go back into my stash. I hope to have a finished quilting project for you soon.
I've spent just a bit of time sewing this weekend. I managed to come down with a cold just on the cusp of the long weekend so I've not gotten done as much as I hoped. I enjoyed what I did though!

I hope you had a great weekend and had opportunity to do the things that make you happy!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Family Treasures

In my last post, you could see a wagon wheel quilt my grandmother made. She passed away when I was 8 (I'm almost 49) and her quilts are my most prized possessions. I always feel really close to her when I am quilting. This is the other quilt that I own that she made. No one is home with me to hold it up so the back of the couch has to do. My grandfather used to go to the cotton mills along the river in Phenix City, AL and get scraps for Grandma. My grandparents had very limited means and these scraps were cheap. If I remember correctly, they came cut in squares already.
I can't imagine what this fabric looked like as a bigger cut. But when you have to, you make do with what you have and nothing goes to waste.
This is one of my favorite fabrics. There is just the one square so it must have been the only one she had.
Simple fabrics, simple placement. Priceless to me!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

New Toy and New Project

I have a new toy laptop:
This is the greeting I saw when I opened the very small booklet that accompanied the MacBook. I'm not a believer yet. The transition from a Windows based product to a Mac has not been as easy as I hoped it would be. There was not an instructional manual so I guess I'll slowly work through the 23,987 tutorials that are on the Apple site.
I started my first project today for Jo's Little Women Club that my LYS is offering. I cut what seemed like tons of 1" strips (these are just a few). My hands hurt from gripping the rotary cutter and working with the small pieces. I really don't like to cut out fabric.
This is a small project - 15" square - and I hope to hand quilt it. It will be my first hand quilting project so the small size will work well. I think I'm going to enjoy hand quilting small projects.

Greg rode in the MS150 this weekend. He cycled 160 miles with almost 2000 other cyclists to raise funds and awareness for MS. The North Florida chapter of his bike group raised almost $1million! He's a bit tired but happy that he could do something to make a difference by doing something that he loves.

I hope you all had a good weekend! Thank you for visiting and Happy Stitches!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Storage for Quilts

Last week while at QuiltFest, I passed a vendor whose product I'd been oggling for the past 2 years. I chatted with the owner for a while where he mentioned he would not be coming back. They were simply tired of the constant travel; can't say I blame them. After walking around for a bit, Jeannine reminded me that work had been really stressful lately (SO true) and said that I deserved one (isn't she good?), I went back and purchased one. It's a cabinet to store quilts in but you can see them through the glass. Here is what it looks like with one of my grandmothers quilts hanging in it.
Quilt Storage
It's neat in that you can either hang quilts or fold them and stack them from the bottom. Or you can do both. There is a door on the side where you can easily put the folded quilts on the bottom without disturbing the hanging quilts. I'm going to have to refold my grandmothers quilts so they don't hang quite so low so I can put my folded quilts on the bottom (well, those quilts I'd have if I'd finish any).
Quilt Fest 2010 Purchase
The hanging quilts can be removed and put back from the top which swings up.
My decor is comprised of furniture with clean lines combined with traditional touches so this doesn't stick out like a sore thumb. I really love this piece and look forward to storing quilts here. I guess I'd better get busy and finish something, huh? Thank you Jeannine for your enabling support!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Quilt Fest

Friday I took the day off and went to QuiltFest with Jeannine of Sleepy Weasel Studios. We had a great time! I'm just going to show you a few photos.

This little quilt amazed me because it's 1/4" hexagons. The quilt was not much larger than my hand.
This quilt was designed, pieced and quilted by a 9 year old! Can you imagine?!

We were also fortunate to sit in on Bonnie Hunters trunk show. She is pretty funny and is a talented quilter and scrap user. The hour just flew by. This is her current quilt that she is hand quilting. She takes it with her to work on when she has some free time while traveling.
I left the house Friday morning at 9 am and besides coming home for a quick hour to meet a service guy, I didn't return until almost 11pm as I went to knit night, dinner with friends and then to Barnes and Nobles. I was exhausted but in a good way!

I made a purchase that I'll show you later. Other than that, I just bought fabric, a marking pencil, a stencil, some needles, crushed walnuts and a couple of pin cushion patterns.

Oh! I forgot to take a picture of the Best in Show. Part of it was micro micro stippled. The quilter used a magnifying glass to quilt it. It was so small that I wasn't even sure it was quilted as I could not see the stitches or pattern.

I hope each of you had a great weekend! Happy Stitches and thank you for visiting my blog!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Newbie Mistake Sends Me to the Frog Pond

There used to be a commercial on TV that promoted reading. It's tag line was "Reading is Fundamental". It's proven to me over and over again that we often learn life lessons early in childhood. Take this for example. I'm a newbie stitcher and I just missed this.
Look at the difference. In my mind, this outside work wasn't backstitching per se. It wasn't until I looked at a photo in blog land that I realized the error of my ways. I'm not frogging this now. I'll come back to it later.
Lesson Learned: Reading IS Fundamental.

There has been little knitting content here lately. That's because Quilting has taken over much of my free time. Plus I'm working on 2 big projects that don't show well in progress.

This weekend is QuiltFest and I'm looking forward to attending and maybe do a little retail therapy! My quilt show generally has more traditional leanings so I'm hoping to find some Jo Morton fabrics. I've just joined Jo's Little Women Club and do not have a red that I like for our project. I only need a 12" strip 1.5" wide. Still, it's a big deal to me - that red has to be perfect! If I don't find it this week, I'm going to have to move on with what I have which is more rust.

Are you on Facebook? Did you know that AccuQuilt gives away a GO Fabric Cutter every Friday on Facebook? Several blogging friends have won one! I want to be next but thought I'd share with all of you as I was talking to someone last week who didn't know. Hey, if I can't win one, I would rather a blogging friend get one. At least I can send you fabric to cut for me because you all know how much I dislike that part of the process!!

I hope everyone is having a great week! As always, Happy Stitches!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Small Finish...But a Finish Nonetheless

I finished LHNs Pear Tree ornament from the "All Dolled Up" series yesterday. I don't have a beading needle so the beads haven't been added. This goes off to the drawer with the other ornament I've finished stitching until I'm ready to do the final finishing. The only complaint I have about this series is that the ornaments are bigger than I'd like. I'm on auto ship from Drema at NeedleCraft Corner for the pattern and fabric (which is nice because you get all the extras too). I might call and see if she can offer a larger count fabric for next year.
LHN Pear Tree Ornament
I also finished another Stitchers Garden block. This one and the block before are 2 of my favorites. I'm finding that I really like using buttons in my quilting. Yo-yos not so much.
Stitchers Garden Block
The lesson this month was making pintucks with Bernina foot #31. We didn't use the cording as demonstrated in the video I linked. It was fun and easy! I made mine really close together. A double needle was also used for the background. The pink thread is darker than I'd have liked but it really isn't as glaring in person as it photographs and once the quilt is finished it will be a non-issue.
Stitchers Garden Block Detail
I've been working on re-establishing an exercise routine and for the past 4 weeks I've exercised at least 3 days per week. It's dropped below 90 here so I've been trying to exercise outside as much as possible. I'm doing it but beginning to think all the hype about endorphins is an urban legend. I really envy those of you that enjoy exercising and hope one day I can say the same!