Friday, March 28, 2008

What quilt is hiding in your scrap basket?

Before the week entirely slips away I wanted to thank Dawn at Quilts and Pieces for the amazing prize package she sent me in the giveaway for reaching her 500th post. I no sooner opened the package when my daughter who was sitting nearby grabbed the quilt and claimed it as "hers" and my son opened the chocolate bar and asked if I wanted a piece.

Dawn sent the adorable little quilt, a wonderful needle book with big roomy pockets with snips and thread already tucked inside, a note pad, a very sweet quilt pattern with dolls on it, a chocolate bar as well as a kit for a Little Churn Dash quilt in my favorite colors. I can't wait to get the kit started, I have just the spot in mind to hang it. Thank you Dawn! Her blog was one of the first quilting blogs that I discovered when I learned about blogging last spring. I always enjoy visiting and seeing what she is working on.

I was up late last night working on finishing the baby quilt for my husband to give to his coworker who is expecting a baby boy next month. I wanted to make a quilt that he wouldn't grow out of too quickly or be too babyish. I thought about the quilt I would make if I were going to bring home a new baby. Knowing how my own children carried their quilts everywhere I wanted something that wouldn't turn grey with age. The pattern idea came from a doll quilt in the book American Doll Quilts by Kathleen Tracy. The quilt pattern in her book is called Underground Railroad. The doll quilt finishes at 19 x 25." By adding more blocks I was able to come up with a quilt that be a nice size for snuggling.

The fabrics for the four patches were all taken from my scrap basket. When my husband saw the finished top this morning, he told me that it was far more work than he imagined and that if I wanted to keep this quilt I could. He suggested that I "whip up" a second quilt with brown and blue 4" blocks, something that wouldn't take as much time. What a sweetie...what was that about honor and obey... I've already cut the blocks out.

If there really were such things as ghosts, perhaps it wouldn't be such a bad thing....

especially if they went around looking like this!

I did the math one day and thought about the number
of paper products that we use for a few minutes and then head to the landfill.
For our 4 person family:

10 napkins each day x 365 days = 3,650 paper napkins each year

By the time mine son goes off to college when he turns 18, we will have thrown away 65,700 paper napkins. It's time I start making a few more extra cotton cloth napkins. We have a small supply now, but with two small children we could always use a few extras. Cloth napkins take no time to stitch up and if you need a tutorial then go here. She shows wonderful photos of mitering a corner. The only thing I would do differently is rotary cutting of the pieces.

My son found this fabric at the shop that is going out of business. All of the fabric has been marked down to 50% off. Most of the fabric has been pretty picked over, and I can't imagine why they had almost a whole bolt of this chicken fabric.

My next thing to eliminate is plastic baggies. I have some homespun and I am going to try a couple of ideas for reusable snack bags. My children eat pretzels and I won't have to worry about the grease staining the fabrics.

One hundred years ago, how did people store or take food with them when they traveled?
When did people begin to use paper bags for storage? When did they switch to plastic?
What could we use instead?

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Wild make my heart sing!

I think I love you!

I came across this quilt on this blog a couple of weeks ago when hopping around to see what other quilters were working on for their Four Season Quilt Swap - Spring quilt. I am smitten. This quilt is sooo not me, and yet it makes my heart sing each time I see the picture.
I have been going back to the blog every couple of days to look at the photo and see if my heart still lept at the sight of it....and it does.

So, knowing that it is the real know the "L Word," I decided that it was worth canceling my trip to the quilt show in Chicago in two weeks. There is none other that I want more than out clause) We will be kept apart no longer, because I could hold back my true feelings for you no longer...Baby! You're MINE, I love you!

Oh, and if you want one too, then go here to this fabulous little shop where I fell in love with mine. I bet they have one that you can fall in love with too!

Friday, March 14, 2008

How do you finish a quilt?

I have been avoiding my sewing machine for the last few weeks partly because I have become overwhelmed with the amount of projects that I have begun and didn't know where to start. My unfinished items have been piling up, and since many of the unfinished projects were part of swaps, it was beginning to weigh heavily on my heart that I had made commitments to others and I was letting them down. I needed to put these projects first as my sewing priorities and I needed to find a way to get them finished. It can be hard to determine where to start when so many projects are verging on almost finished as well as others that are barely begun. I often find myself starting an entirely new project just to avoid facing the decision of where to start.

Quilting friends, it came to me when I sat down to work on the most difficult one of my unfinished projects. There is only one answer to the question "How do you finish a quilt(or red work, or any stitching)?"

Regardless of whether you work fast or slow, all quilts are created the same way:


So I decided that on Monday I would begin the week and only work on the projects that were part of a swap and would be mailed out to someone I had made a commitment to. All week long I stuck to my plan and moved from one project to the next. My projects were small, but getting over the hurdle of not knowing how to start was huge. I kept telling myself that I would finish each of these projects the only way I know stitch at a time!

These two 6" pieces of red work were the most difficult for me to finish. It wasn't the stitching that kept me from finishing them. It was having to restitch them as the first ones were lost in the mail. The first package that I had put together had a quilting magazine and Amish newspapers and an set of Amish embroidery transfers and two pieces of red work that took many hours of stitching. I remember packing the box and including things that my partner would like. So I went back to the quilt shop found a replacement magazine and dug through my shelves of Amish books knowing that they may bring a smile to my partner's day
and finished them the only way I know stitch at a time!

January ended up not being a good shipping month for the international packages I mailed out, because a package that was shipped to Brazil was also lost. The package was full of nine patch blocks, beads and a magazine for my partner. Frazzled at yet another project that had to be restitched I avoided them altogether. Until I thought about it and realized that they would brighten someone's walls. I chose fabric that would brighten my work
and finished them the only way I know stitch at a time!

I am hosting the third of six organized swaps for dishcloths and after having knit 8 of these dishcloths I am getting tired of knitting them. But someone else is looking forward to receiving 2 of them from me in the mail soon and so I chose bright green spring cotton,
and finished them the only way I know stitch at a time!

I thought of a million things I wanted to say to the person who decide to drop out of a nine patch swap and not finish her blocks and didn't bother to tell anyone. Her partner never received any blocks. As the organizer of the swap I couldn't let one of the swappers go without receiving something. I contacted her and asked her about her favorite fabrics. The angels where smiling on me that day as she said Civil War repros. I always look at my scrap baskets and think about all the quilts that are hiding in there. So I grabbed fabrics for the quilter who didn't receive her blocks and finished them the only way I know stitch at a time!

News spread like wild fire through the forest that there was a crazy woman sitting at her sewing machine and the wildlife had to come see for themselves if it was true or just a forest rumor that the squirrels had spread.

While I haven't completed large quilts this week, I have finished projects that I made a commitment to. We all have invested time, money and sacrifice of other things that we could and maybe should be doing when we take time to quilt. Don't become discouraged when you see other quilters finishing quilts every week, or showing new projects that they are starting. Know that they finish quilts the same way you will too,
the only way you know how...ONE STITCH AT A TIME!

Sunday, March 9, 2008

The stockings were hung by the chimney with care....

with hopes that Spring soon would be there....Wait a minute...that's not how the story goes.....
You're right...but after a breaking a 98 year snow fall record here in Ohio, I've decided that I can do a little tweaking to make the story fit. My little family is away from home at a hockey tournament (go team, go!) and I have survived the Blizzard of '08. The last snow fall total that I heard was about 20 inches. That's all fine to watch from inside, but when you have to go out twice a day to feed and water the animals it can be difficult getting around in ...

which is why I am so thankful that when the movers lost(stole) our skiis and snowshoes four years ago, they didn't bother (stealing) this ancient pair that aren't really ancient at all. Some of the drifts are three feet high in places and having the snowshoes has made chores much easier.

Here's a second story window that faces west with snow that drifted from the over hang.

I'm not sure what is holding this snow onto the gutters. I've thought about knocking it down so that when it starts to melt and refreeze that the ice doesn't tear off the gutter under the weight.

This is the barn with snow piled up on the little over hang. You can't tell from the picture but some of the drifts are 2 to 3 feet deep in places.

Here's the front of our hen house. From the porch to the ground it is about a foot. It was difficult finding where the porch starts and stops.

This is around the side of the hen house. The snow blew a drift around the side and the front of the building. I was really surprised that the break of pines trees didn't keep the drifting down around this little building.

The chickens have been locked up for two days inside the hen house. They would disappear in the snow if I tried to let them out. Plus when I tried to open the run gate there was so much snow it wouldn't budge. The diagonal board in the picture is the walk that the chickens use to get in and out of the building. It has at least a foot of snow on it. This ought to be a muddy mess when the snow melts...ah, the joy of farm fresh eggs...pphhft! I am so over that. Maybe the predator that killed one of my favorite chickens last week is snowed in his hole somewhere and can't get out. And maybe the skunk that sprayed our dog week is trapped in a snowbank and can't get out...
too bad, so sad!

One of our old chairs that sits out in a field.

How our farm lane gets plowed. I need to do something special to thank the farmer who came without asking and plowed the driveway while my husband was away. Now I can get out to the quilt shop if I run out of thread...shoot, they're closed on Sunday.

I have spent more time on my snowshoes in the last two days than I have at my sewing machine, so I think I will go and sew and watch the snow melt and wait to hear if the boys win the hockey tournament this evening ( go team, go!)

Friday, March 7, 2008

What do this frog and I possibly have in common?

We both sing the same song....Rip it! Rip it! Rip it!

I have spent a good part of the afternoon ripping out 102 inches of stitching that I goofed up on when I sat down to sew while the children were eating lunch. My first borders went on fine two days ago when I finally found the courage to cut the stripe fabric that I wanted to use. Two days later I forgot that I need to sew with the stripe fabric on the top so that I can follow the faint line on the wrong side of the fabric in order to leave a uniform amount of pattern along the edge.

I think this will be the quilt that goes into the quilt frame during our school break. The quilt is for my son's room and all that needs to be done is to finish piecing the rows and decide on the final border. I may be back with photos of a finished quilt next week. The 9 patch blocks were pieced by hand during my sons 2006-2007 hockey season. This season the rink we practiced at was too cold to do any type of handwork except rubbing them together quickly to keep the feeling in them so that I could untie his skates after freezing for an hour.

Have you ever used one of these little sewing birds? I don't know the proper name but he is used to hold the edge of your fabric while you work. Today was the first time I put him to use while ripping out the borders. He came in very handy!

While I was blog hopping, I came across photos of quilter's pincushions. This is my sad chicken pincushion. It's the one I use ALL the time. My son picked it out when we were out at a quilt shop one day. He said it was exactly me. I'm not sure what he meant, maybe because we have brown chickens? Then our puppy got hold of it and ran under a bed with it where she chewed and chewed until we were finally able to get it out of her mouth. There's hardly anything left of the beak except a thin yellow strand of felt. The eyes are all wibbly woobly and threaten to fall off. I will only replace my little chicken should my son ever pick another out that is "exactly me."

This is one of my favorite pincushions. He was a Christmas gift a few years back.
I don't know if he is old, but he is very heavy.

This bear makes my day. He was also a Christmas gift one year. I knew something about him at one time...something about Black Woods...Bavaria... ???
He holds a thimble. It came with him in the box just as he is holding it, so I am guessing that it may have been his original use. I put my tube of quilting needles inside the thimble so I don't spill them out on the floor. Bare feet in a quilter's home...BE WARNED!
Slippers or shoes are highly recommended.

While the hockey team was on the road to Indianapolis last week, I stayed home and pieced a quilt that my mother asked me to make for her friend's granddaughter. I was able to use fabrics I had in my stash, because my mother used to have a doll business and she ordered fabric by the bolt. Now that she is no longer making dolls, she decided that I should have all of her fabric. Very generous, but I now think I have enough fabric to see me into my 60's! I am tempted to send the quilt top out for quilting as I just don't have time to fuss with it, because.....

I hand pieced my first Dear Jane block, but now I am thinking that I may need to wait to really get going on this until after I finish the Civil War Diary Quilt. There is just too much prep time that goes into hand piecing. I am busy working on a quilt for my father for Christmas and I need to get busy, busy, busy with that one before we start back to lessons in July.

Snow Boots!
After romping in the mud for hours on Monday, my children took their boots off outside and left them on the front porch. Now on Friday we find ourselves in the midst of a winter storm. They are predicting 8-10", but I don't believe it until I have to drive the tractor through it to plow our lane. The hockey team is traveling again and I have plans to cut, stitch and quilt for the next 48 hours. I'm just worried that I may not have enough thread to do all the sewing I have planned. The next time I run to town for "snow food" I need to make sure I add thread and a new rotary blade to the list of must haves!

Monday, March 3, 2008

Mud, mud and more mud on the way...

After living in our house for one year now, I only have this one question for the person who built the house ....

"Just what were you thinking when you put light colored carpeting in a farm house!?"

Now that the snow has melted we have officially begun the season that I hate most...MUD!

I don't think of things in terms of winter, spring and summer. I think of it as Snow, Mud and Hot.

So if my swap partner for the Four Season Quilt Swap has come to visit me...please make my spring quilt in green, white and brown, with a dash of blue
for the bits of sky that I can see through the clouds.

These are the Civil War Diary Quilt blocks that I have been working on when I am not busy trying to clean muddy paw prints from the carpet! I am still piecing each block by hand. There are some blocks with small pieces that I may modify to make the stitching a bit easier. I have two toddler quilts that I have been asked to make, so I'll be working on those this week.

Rachel's Frustration

Bitter Enemy


Oath of Allegiance

Special Blessings