Saturday, November 21, 2009

Planning Future Projects

Yes, I know I have a UFO list over there in the sidebar sneering at me, but I just can't help thinking about the next new project I might begin. As I've been cleaning my sewing room, I've uncovered some buried treasures that are getting me excited to have a long stretch of sewing days ahead of me.

This (above) is a project from American Patchwork and Quilting called "Enduring Elegance." The fabric (most of it) is called Aviary.

This is a grouping of various fat quarter packs I've collected in recent years. What will they become?

Here is a kit I bought from one of the popular magazines (I don't remember which). It's called American Rose. Won't it be gorgeous?

I'm barely scratching the surface of the stash!
I could spend a year just working down the Kaffe Fasset collection I've accumulated! Doesn't that look exciting?

(Blissful sigh.)

I love quilting.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Two Best Words in the English Language

Every 3rd week of the month, with occasional exceptions around Christmas, the local Ben Franklin store has this sign out front. I've lived here for over 17 years, all the years when my kids were growing up. Whenever we'd pass this sign, I'd point and exclaim, "Ahh, two of the best words in the English language!" (I was brainwashing them.)

Why are there also potatoes on the sign? Interesting thing about our Ben is inside a local grocery. It's quite a unique little set-up. I've only seen it elsewhere in Amish country. But we are not Amish country (although quite a few are relocating here because of the availability of farmland).

But I digress.

The grocery is one of 2 that serves this little town, and this one has been here for generations, from what I've learned. When we first moved  here, a Radio Shack was also housed inside; it has since moved out. The Ben Franklin remains, and is a close-to-home fabric supplier to area quilters who prefer not to drive an hour or more to a larger metropolitan center. The girls who work there are knowlegable and helpful, and learn who their repeat customers are very quickly. One of my favorites retired last year (or has it been 2?), and this store, like most businesses, is reducing workforce to cut costs. The girls sometimes split their time between manning the Ben Franklin and cashiering on the grocery aisles.

Rumors go out every once in a while that the BF corporate office plans to close our little store. So far those have been just that - rumors. I don't buy as much there as I used to, mostly because I have truly reached a saturation point as far as my stash goes. However, I do try to make purchases whenever I can just to help them with customers counts. They carry what they call "flat folds" as very reasonable sale prices, and often one will find some of the top fabric designers on the flat fold table, so it's not inferior quality, at all. They have a very nice variety of homespuns, panels, flannels, Christmas prints, and lots more. For such a tiny part of a big grocery, they are very aware of what the quilters want and/or need.

My plan for today was to clean my sewing room. I did not. (Although the day is not over yet.) I did, however, get 4 more snowflake blocks completed, and I sewed a ton of 4-patch units to finish up the remaining 7 snowflakes yet to be made. Progress is progress, even in fits and starts.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Little Victories

Little Victories. That is the name of a book I read about 20 (?) years ago. It was about victories in the classroom. Well, the victories I want to share today involve entirely different subjects.

First I am winning the Squirrel Wars.

Mr. Squirrel is deciding that cayenne pepper is not for him.

We have the fattest, most plump little fellows living in the woods behind our house. They are accustomed to feasting regularly on the delicious sunflower seeds we put out to attract birds to our feeders. They are quite the little pigs, and nearly clean us out in 2 or 3 days! Determined to get them to eat the field corn we bought for them, I set out to learn how to keep them out of the bird feeders. From an internet search, I learned that squirrels don't like ground cayenne pepper! I just sprinkled it in the tray of each feeder and waited on the little devils to show up. Sure enough, one did, as the picture above shows him in all his fat, healthy little furriness.

After checking all the sides of both feeders, he scampered off to tell his friends and family, I hope. He skittered out anyway. I don't know if squirrels tell each other about the lousy food or not.

This tiny 1-oz. jar cost $3.69. Pricey, but if it saves me in the price of birdseed, then worth it. Now that I know it works, I will look for it in bulk to get a better price.

My second little victory is that I got out at 7:00 this morning and walked 2.5 miles! Ever since retiring, I have tried to discipline myself to establish a walking routine. I have walked with my friend Vickie for many years, but we are such wimps, and our schedules don't match up as well as they used to. Really, we don't try all that hard, most of the time. Discipline is something I lack, so I will have to really work on this to make it a habit. But for one day, I am celebrating a victory!

As I was finishing the walk, red-faced, hot, and huffing and puffing: a really huge woman drove by. It was startling just how big she was! It made me think that I was glad to have walked. I passed her later driving through the middle of town and she was eating fast food. Again, I was glad I had walked.

Now, I have not been victorious in getting to my sewing machine as much as I would like. I've been distracted by some committee work lately. That will come to an end tonight when we meet to make 165 cheese balls for charity! Whew, I sure will be glad when that is done!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Gettin' Stuff Done, But Not Fast Enough!

The list for this day is quite long, and I'm afraid sewing on my Snowflake blocks takes its spot way down on that list. Topping the list is getting my car in for some brake work, finalizing committee work for a group I belong to, and tidying this house for the quilt group who will be here Friday morning.

I did take a little walk out back just a bit ago, however, because I could see one tiny splash of color in the back of the flower bed.

A stubborn coneflower determinedly shows off the last of its colors here in the middle of Ohio.

The flower bed borders the front of a wooded area behind our house. DH has painstakingly groomed the backyard and has begun clearing some of the underbrush in those woods, so it is quite a lovely setting. I hope he continues to go further back into the woods, as it is such an inviting, picturesque part of the yard.

Standing tall against the November leaf cover.

I have begun to gather pictures of the 4 retirement quilts that my GFs have made since 2001. I've already shared a picture of mine, which they presented me at the end of May '09. Here it is again:

My retirement quilt made of Kaffe Fasset fabrics.

Here is Sherrie's quilt.

We always use the same pattern - a star quilt by Thimbleberries. It was featured on the cover of one of her books (North Bay Quilts. The pattern is Christmas Confetti.) 

Someone usually takes the lead in organizing the fabric selection and cutting. The necessary pieces for 2 blocks is then distributed to the rest of the group, and a deadline is established for returning the finished blocks. Usually we get a snow day sometime in January or February for stitching together the top, and then someone sets up the date with the longarm quilter. The retiree is roasted at a luncheon or after-school event (we are all teachers and retired teachers, in case I hadn't mentioned it.) This is all done in secret - secret from the soon-to-be retiree. Of course, we've done it enough times now that we know it's happening, but believe me, the finished quilt is truly a surprise!

I need to take pictures of 2 more - Kay's and Lyn's. I won't forget!

Friday, November 13, 2009

A Quilting Tradition

Every year since 2001 or 2002 (we discussed this to death! no one can come up with the definitive year), a group of good friends has met on Veterans' Day (when all of us worked, we had the day off) to quilt. Originally, the event was an overnight quilt, but since this Veterans' Day was mid-week, we went with a full day. Our hostess said she would be ready for quilters as early as 6am, and that breakfast would be served around 8am.

Each of us were to bring our sewing machines, necessary tools, our projects, and a dish for lunching or munching.

Here are a few pics of the day's fun.

This was breakfast.

Continued work on my snowflake blocks.

Kay is binding a quilt for her grandson.

Sharon is pressing some half-square triangle blocks.

Pam scrapbooked.

Sherrie stippled a wall-hanging for her grandson's nursery.

Linda's guilt quilt. (It's a long story.)

We always have such fun on this day. Several of us have loved ones currently or formerly in the military, so we always remember them. Since our first year, several of us have retired, so we don't often have a nice long block of time together like this. Reconnecting is wonderful, and we get so much done, too!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Tea With My Book Club

This afternoon, the Bibliomaniacs, a dear little book club I belong to, went on a most awesome outing. We drove over towards Cowan Lake, in Clinton County, to Lucy and Ethel's Country Tea Room for a delightfully indulgent luncheon. The photo above was taken on my cell phone and does not do justice to the beauty of the foods that were prepared. We had 2 flavors of hot tea, and one iced tea. There were at least 4 courses to our meal - but the meal was the tiniest of foods! The spread on the plates pictured here came after the scones and shortbread course, and the soup course. The bottom plate of the tiered server contains desserts. Our hostess had a "bonus" or surprise course even after that which consisted of homemade lemon cream ice cream! It and everything she served was just heavenly.

Instead of reading a book for this month's meeting, we agreed to bring and share a poem over our lunch. Each poem shared was lovely, and absolutely fit the mood of a sunny fall day in a southern Ohio tea room.

As we were leaving Lucy and Ethel's, we realized that we were just over 10 years old as a book club! What a nice way to celebrate. We have had a few changes in members since our inception, but we seven who are currently active have been very steady for most of those 10 years.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Stash Building!

Yeah, I know I've been blogging periodically about reducing the stash, but when this lovely new Moda fabric came out, I just had to place an order.

It's Rouenneries by French General for Moda. I fell in love with it when I first saw it on the web months ago. When Hancock's of Paducah came out with it in their catalog, I promptly put in a hefty order! It has been coming in rather piecemeal, but it's fun that way -- prolongs the anticipation!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Unearthing More UFOs

Oh, my.

How does one do so much work on a project and then put it away to be forgotten? This beauty was hiding in a project tub in my sewing room, waiting for at least 2 years for me to return to it!

These pictures illustrate several of my quilting preferences.

First, I do love handwork - I have always liked hand-quilted quilts, and have done several, so I know the commitment it requires. I love hand-piecing, too. Especially so when I am traveling because it affords me the luxury of being on the road, and still accomplishing a quilt-related task. I also like it when I don't particularly want to be hidden away in the farthest part of the house (my sewing room),  preferring, instead, to be engaged in family activities downstairs.

Second, I like paisley prints. A lot. There are countless varieties in my stash. This red typifies my tastes perfectly.

And last, I like 2-color quilts. The red will be consistent throughout the quilt top, but I have used a variety of 3 neutrals for a scrappy look, which I also like. All from my stash, I might add. Even 6 or 8 years ago, my estimate of when I began this project, I was trying to attack the stash.

It surprises me that I have so much done on this! The blocks measure 8.5 inches; there are 20 star blocks completed, and 23 stepping stone blocks completed. The 3rd picture shows the pieces that are cut out, and a few star 'points' that await completion! I will keep this project out and try to get more done over the course of the winter. It's begging to be finished.