Friday, December 23, 2011

A Bit of Old Business

Everyone probably feels the same rush to get things done before Christmas, so I imagine the fact that I've got a few things to get done today comes as no surprise to anyone. But, I also wanted to blog about some recent things that I just didn't want to put off until after Christmas. If we were having a meeting, this would fall under the category of Old Business. Let's dispense with it now.

A week ago this morning, the Frankfort girls met at JoAnn's house for our regular sew-together. We set our calendars for the entire coming year. We also penciled in a couple of quilt shows and a breakfast. Very productive. We took stock of the families - 2011 found additions for 3 of us: Terry gained a daughter-in-law; Sharon gained a grandson; JoAnn gained a granddaughter from one son and twin grandsons from the other son! Three grandbabies born in one year - how's that for productivity??

Grammy Jo had to make stockings for these new little ones.

We have an "understanding" that we don't do Christmas gifts, but Sheryll bent the rule a little bit and gave each one of us a nifty glasses case - or a rotary cutter case, however we want to use it, I suppose. Really nice! Mine will definitely be used for glasses. I just love it!

In other quilting news, the above quilt is (the other) Sharon's current project. Again, she has chosen one that is going together incredibly fast. She is making it one row longer and two rows wider and is not using the mitten appliques. This is what she accomplished in our time together on Monday.

It is going to be sooo cozy.

Finally, an oxymoron in old business: a new business!! A New Quilt Shop!!! I stopped in there on Tuesday, just to check it out and to buy a gift certificate for one quilty friend who shall remain nameless for the time being. *cheesy grin*

Old Town Fabric Shop is newly opened in a historic building on W. Second Street in Chillicothe. Owner Cindy Henderson and daughter Kelly Henderson have quite a beautiful shop - filled with primarily modern fabrics such as Kaffe Fassett and Amy Butler and reproduction fabrics. I don't think I have ever seen so many Kaffes in one place!! It was heaven!

I got a big hug from Kelly as I entered the store-she was a student of mine back in the nineties. And a special one, at that!! I did love that girl! We clicked, as sometimes happens between teacher and student - I am so glad to be reacquainting with her!

I took a few shots from inside the store. However, you'll note that my camera is behaving badly, so the quality is lacking, for sure. I will have more to say about this later in New Business.

The Kaffe wall - sigh, heaven!!
There's the lovely Kelly at the cash register!

A bed displaying several reproduction quilts. (Terrible pic!!)
That's Linda cutting kits. Look at how roomy this place is! Since I had only a few minutes to just look around, I didn't get to investigate really closely. That will require a return trip, for sure!  It's quite a thrill having a new quilt store to come to town. We have one, Creations, which has been here for at least 20 years, and now we have Old Town Fabric Shop. They should fill every quilter's needs and/or desires! I hope the word gets out that we have these 2 gems; I so want them to experience success!!

And now, we will move on to the New Business portion of our post. A bit of background first, if you don't mind. Just as I was noticing the incredibly poor quality of my photos, I read Suzanne's blog, At Home With the Farmer's Wife. This blog is one of my favorites; it was one of the very first blogs I started following way back about 5 or 6 years ago. Her gentle humor appeals to me, and her outlook on life is quite agreeable to my own, so I read her faithfully. Well, anyway, she posted about one of her cameras biting the dust, and about finding a new one for an incredibly great price. You can read all about it here.

Now, I wonder if you can guess the first topic in New Business??? Yes, my new camera - which I ordered on Wednesday, and which will arrive just after Christmas. Serendipity!! I ordered online from the same store, and got the exact same camera as Suzanna bought. Took all the trouble of shopping and comparing completely out of the equation, and that makes me very happy. Merry Christmas to Me!!

And, I will go back to the new fabric shop and take better pictures to share. Promise.

Happy Quilting, Friends!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Cheater Week at Sharon's

On Monday I went to Sharon's to sew for the day. And boy, was I in for a huge surprise! She had been quite a busy little stitcher in the week since we'd last been together! Her focus was using up all the cheater panels she had. What a stack of quilts to admire!

And, I'm sure you'll note that they are not just pieced, but also quilted. Such an accomplishment! We have a lady in town who machine quilts as a business; and she specializes in a fast turnaround on quilts. She does basic meandering designs, and is quite reasonably priced. Sharon would take one in, go back the next day to pick it up, and drop off another! She had all these done this way. The woman even stitches down the binding for you. So, when we want a quickie, we go to her!

Here are the cheater quilts Sharon made this week. Some of these panels, she said, had been in her stash for a very long time.

The last one pictured is not a cheater quilt; it is the Flannel Cascade that she worked on last week at my house. Quilted and bound in under a week! Pretty good feeling of accomplishment, wouldn't you agree?

I was finishing the binding on Emma's purple and gold Bento Box quilt. After that, I cut out some quickie projects for my twin nieces. Hope I have time to get them done by Christmas!

Happy Quilting, Friends!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Something for Myself!

In the midst of all that I should be doing for Christmas, I up and make myself a bag. Now, I never have claimed to be a zealot when it comes to focusing on a job, but we are just 8 days out from Christmas, and I definitely have other, more pressing obligations.

But I've wanted to make it for so-o-o-o-o-o-o long! Here's the story:

Quilts and More, Winter 2009.

This "Super Simple Tote" caught my eye from the very moment I saw this issue. I had plenty of Kaffe fabric from which to choose; I found a suitable stripe for accent; I purchased the fusible batting.

Back in the summer, I asked blog readers what to do with this wonky cutting mat.

One suggestion was to use it as base material in bags. That struck a chord with me, so I saved it back for just this bag!

Now let me tell you, that "Super Simple" tote turned out to be quite a doozie of a project. First of all, fusible batting is used on both the outer fabric and the lining fabric - this makes for very bulky work. Second of all, that cutting mat was a killer to cut, and I kept having to shave off sides to get the piece to fit nicely into the bottom of my bag. Third of all, these layers of outer fabric and lining fabric called for quilting before construction, so I got to test out my machine quilting skills (they aren't very good, in case you were wondering).

Before finishing, I told DH that not a single Vera Bradley bag is overpriced!! These things are a lot of work! And this one doesn't have any hardware - no snaps, buttons, zippers, clasps, etc.

Finally, I finished it. And I love it! *big grin!!*

 It needs a good pressing and the lining could fit better, but for me I think it will be just fine. If I were to make another one (and I just might!), I believe I would not put so much batting in it. Pockets don't need batting. Also, if I make another one, I will cut the lining slightly smaller than the outer layer. That will reduce the excess that I am finding in this first version.

Always learning, aren't we?? I am going to watch the Buckeyes this afternoon and work on that knitting project for DD#1's boyfriend. That, and intermittent laundry folding. Later we are going to Hillsboro for Mexican and a visit to Grandma's.

Happy Quilting, Friends!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Monday Quilting with Sharon

I will quickly post pictures of what Sharon and I worked on this past Monday when she was over to sew for the day. I take too long when I write, and I need to be devoting time to some other more pressing endeavors!  So for now, pictures will have to do...

Sharon had this top quilted. She brought it to show to me, and of course, I snapped a picture to chronicle here on the blog.

Sharon arrived with this...

...and left with this!

It was a kit of yummy flannels:

After I made the stocking for DD's boyfriend (see previous post), I did some sewing on the French General Stars (shown on several recent posts). I am also working on binding the Bento Box quilt I made this summer for DD#2. I had it quilted a week ago, and need to get the binding done! I really like how it turned out, and I think Emma will, too.

One final note: Today, December 15, is Grandma's 95th birthday!! Happy Birthday, Grandma!!

Happy Quilting, Friends!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Christmas-y Creations!

Lately, I've been somewhat focused on a few little items for Christmas. While I was digging around in the bin of Christmas fabrics and related whatnot, I came across 2 UFOs that I didn't even know existed! How is it that a person can make something halfway, then put it away for say, 10 years, and then when it is unearthed not recall anything at all about it??? There has to be some mysterious force at work here.

Ahem - well, enough of theorizing, let's look at those mystery projects!!

This single, unfinished hand-pieced block resided in that bin which I turned into a candle mat. In trying to solve the mystery of this piece, the clues show up on the back:

Childishly traced pieces and childish cutting. Something tells me that I was giving someone a little project to work on while Mommy was busy!  Erin or Emma?? Haven't a clue, truly. But a little girl cut them out, that's for sure. The stitching is mine, not a child's. Cutting was as far as we got with this little girl!

Another find in this Christmas bin was a holiday tablerunner. The stars are paper-pieced. It's been ages since I've paper-pieced anything, so again, not much to go on to figure out how long this has been around. But, I finished it up and will use it on the coffee table in the front room.

Do you recognize this fabric?? It's Roman Holiday - in woven, home dec!! I have absolutely been in love with Roman Holiday since it came out however many years ago; I wish I'd bought way more of it than I did. Who new it would be scooped up so quicky by quilters?? Well, here's a cool story. In May, when I went to Berlin (Amish Country/Ohio) with Kay and Sherrie, I saw a table draped with this in Mrs. Miller's Dry Goods store. I went on a hunt for the fabric and found it in the basement where all the bargain fabric is located. I bought the entire bolt - maybe 12 or more yards! I cut it in half; one half went to Sharon in July for her birthday, and the remaining half I kept for myself!! I hemmed it earlier this week and threw it over this round table. In this picture the tablecloth is doubled; but when I extend the table for Christmas, it will fit perfectly!

Last but not least, I made a stocking for Erin's boyfriend. He will be here for Christmas and she asked if I would make a stocking for him. This was the reason I was digging around in the Christmas bin in the first place! I found the pre-quilted red and the cotton checked fabrics, used an existing stocking for a pattern, and created this. It looks a little wonky, but it'll serve its purpose, right?

Are you all getting your houses ready for Christmas?? Most people are probably done by now...not me!!

Happy Quilting, Friends!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Projects Keep Finding Me

Over there in the sidebar where I have my list of 2011 goals you will see that I am doing rather well with getting this list nearly done this year! Makes me pretty happy, for sure. As I take stock of the year's work, it appears I can focus on getting specific things done - glad about that.

One thing I have not mentioned lately is the way projects seem to be finding me. I can think of three off the top of my head that have appeared on my horizon.

Two weeks or so ago, when I was visiting Grandma, she indicated to me that she had some things for me. This always excites me just a bit, because it's usually quilting related, and I love looking at her quilting goodies. Some of it is soooo dated - antique notions, thread, patterns, trim, and so on. It's just so neat to see how she quilted throughout the years.

This stack of goodness is what Grandma handed over to me. Trust me - a whopper of a project resides in this bundle. (Remember, now, there were quite a few projects in the boxes from under Grandma's bed that I posted about earlier. Add to those, these that I'm about to detail for you.)

The box on the bottom contained all of Grandpa's neckties. I did not take them out of the box to count them, but I estimate that there could be as many as 60 ties here! Grandpa was a farmer, so it's surprising that he'd have so many ties. However, Grandpa and Grandma were very involved in activities that required their attendance at meetings, conventions, dinners, and such. They were quite involved with the Ohio Fair Managers, Federal Land Bank, Farm Bureau Council, political activities, and, of course, church. Grandma said that she'd always intended to make a quilt with Grandpa's ties, but just never got to it. I know it must have been quite a goal for her by the amount of books and patterns she had amassed.

On top of the ties, Grandma had also given me all those necktie-related books, magazines and patterns she'd collected since 1997 (the year Grandpa died). Quite a few!! It seems she couldn't decide which pattern to make, so now the decision is passed on to me! Gracious! How will I ever decide??

The two neutral fabrics are extra wide backing-sized muslins. The blue is just some yardage she had stored with the ties. She isn't quite sure, but Grandma thinks she planned on using these for constructing a quilt with those ties. Some things are getting a bit fuzzy for her, so she is not certain, but I would say if the fabric was stored with the ties and the patterns, then, yes, she was planning this fabric for those ties. She has always been the most organized person I have ever known. She may not remember putting this fabric with the ties, but that must have been her plan at some point.

When will I ever make this project?? I have no idea. I'm not even allowing myself to think much about it until after the new year.

The next project was a 2-parter. I belong to a women's civic organization here in Greenfield, and our fundraiser for this year has been selling a woven coverlet highlighting several landmark locations around town. We also sold related totes and pillows. The company we dealt with sent a 2-panel sample of what the tote would have on it, which we were allowed to keep. So I volunteered to turn these panels into totes. I bought a yard of upholstery fabric at the Ben Franklin for $5.98/yd. and made both totes on Thursday night and Friday morning. Easy, really, and it's for a good cause. Our entire purpose in this organization revolves around giving back to the community.

The final project?? Well, it's one that I got myself into willingly. Remember when we celebrated my mother's 75th birthday? I made squares for guests at the big celebration party to sign with the intent of making a signature quilt for her. I have the fabric selected for the project, I just need to figure out the method I will use to make it.
I remember counting the signed blocks, and I think I have around 80. I have 2 charm packs of Fig Tree fabric - Buttercup, I think - and want to make square-in-a-square blocks. So, I must get crackin' on that in the new year. It'll be a top priority, definitely!

So, in the midst of doing projects of my own choosing, I am getting a few "extra" things in the queue, as well. I imagine we all have that from time to time.

Friday, December 9, 2011

This Quilter Also Knits

Knitting is something I think I could really get into, but I don't dare let myself get too interested. My fabric stash needs my full attention. I could just see me growing a yarn stash to match the fabric one if I allowed myself to delve very deeply into knitting.

That said, I was wandering through my local Ben Franklin store in mid-November and saw a display of yarn with an "on sale" sign attached. My eyes landed on this incredible blue yarn and I knew it would be going home with me. I bought two skeins, and now look at what I've got.

My justification for buying this yarn and committing to this project is simple. We were going to be on the road to my father-in-law's over Thanksgiving and I needed a portable project. None of my quilting projects were in the proper stage for portability, and knitting was a simple alternative. All I needed to do was remember how to cast on, which I easily accomplished by watching a You-Tube video about 45 times. (I swear, I really am a slow learner at times.)

Speaking of learning, I need to learn a few things about knitting. First, I can only do straight things, so scarves are my specialty. If I learn how to add or reduce stitches, then I run the risk of doing exactly what I don't want to do - get really into knitting. I am happy making scarves; I don't need to be learning any advanced skills! Now, (here's the second lesson I need to learn) I make them too thick. When I cast on, I have no idea what to expect, so I just cast on a bunch of stitches until I think I've got enough. This scarf is about twice as wide as it ought to be. Too much bulk! All that knit stuffed around the neck will stifle a wearer, so it probably won't be a gift as I thought it might be. Instead, I think I will use it myself, but if I hope to make these to give to people, I need to exercise restraint when it comes to casting on.

After I got this blue scarf done so quickly, I dug out a knitting UFO from upstairs which had been taking up unnecessary space in my sewing room. It is a rough-looking thing, but it needed to be finished, so I went to work on it. Again, too wide, and this one, oh my, is a perfectly imperfect knitting project. Wonky. Uneven. Dropped stitches. Added stitches. All unintentional...what a mess, but with this bulky yarn, a lot of imperfections are masked.

After these two scarves were finished, I again found myself in Ben Franklin, and thought to myself, "If the yarn is still on sale, I'll get another couple of skeins for a skinnier scarf." I was half wanting the yarn sale to be ongoing, and half hoping it wasn't!! Alas, the sale was still on, so I bought 2 skeins of a masculine blue and beige variegated. I cast on  fewer stitches and am working a bit each evening to complete this scarf. Here's the progress:

I began with 25 stitches cast on and I still have 25 stitches! Whoo-hoo! It looks pretty good to me, but my DD says it's still too wide. Guess I really am a slow learner.

Do  I need to admit that I recently bought a crochet hook??

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

A Fun Day of Sewing!

I've been sitting on some quilting activity for several days. Just so darned busy!!! I declare, retirement is the busiest time of a person's life!! I am volunteering to do a poetry workshop in a friend's sophomore English classes 3 days this week at the local high school. I also have had to get my book club book finished, as we had our meeting tonight. The book, Started Early, Took My Dog by Kate Atkinson, was a good read -- a mystery with lots of storylines intersecting for a satisfying conclusion.

Last Saturday, quilter friend Terry opened her beautiful home to a gaggle (what would we be called?) of quilters - 8 in all, including our hostess. Tables filled the family room, cutting and ironing stations were set up in the kitchen. Of course, there was a good bit of food out in the kitchen, as well.

Here is the photographic evidence of our wonderful day.

This is only a sampling of the tasty treats we had to select from. Terry served a delicious chili for lunch and the rest of us brought snacks and side dishes to add to the spread. Needless to say, we didn't go hungry!

Ok, on with the quilting and sewing...

Finally, all 30 of my French General stars were done, and I was ready to move on with the construction of the quilt top. I did some fussy cutting for the cornerstones.

And I had to make some decisions about the fabric to use for the sashing. I changed up the pattern a bit (from a 2-fabric sashing to a 1-fabric sashing), and was limiting myself to using only from my existing stash. So this is what I chose.

I have made some progress, and I love how it's looking. You all will see it soon enough.

The other gals had equally productive days. Many were making a snowman wall hanging.

 This snowman wall hanging is just plain adorable! I hope to borrow someone's pattern and make one for myself.

This is a finished wall hanging; trouble is, I don't remember which of the girls had a finished one - I'm thinking it was Cherie, but I could very likely be wrong. Regardless, isn't it an adorable snowman?

This is the snowman that Mary worked on. Love that purple background. Terry worked on one, also, but her progress was impeded by all the hostessing duties she had. I couldn't say for sure if anyone else was working on this project - I admit to being so wrapped up in my own project that I was somewhat oblivious to all that the others were doing. (Self-absorbed?? Guilty as charged.)

A new acquaintance, Gwen, was working on a little Christmas quilt. My pic of it is somewhat blurry, unfortunately.

All was not smooth sailing on this wonderful day... Monica was sewing right along on her project when suddenly her machine jammed up and refused to operate! Well, after digging into its innards, she was a bit embarassed to unearth all of this "gunk."

Fortunately, Monica's new manicure looked good during the deep cleaning process!!

Back to the projects...Sheryll was as busy as can be; she made 14 table runners! I think I am correct on that number. She found a "10-minute table runner" on the internet, made one for each woman in her family for a Christmas event she was having this weekend. She was certainly stitching up a storm on her end of the table!

So, I've covered just about everyone. Sharon (Frankfort quilting Sharon) was there for a time, but left early to take in some grandbaby time. I don't have any pics of her project, and since it's been several days, I've had enough time to forget what it was that she was working on!

It was a good day of sewing, and I am glad I got the chance to catch up with the Grove City group - Mary, Cherie, Monica and Gwen. You may remember my outing to the "barn" back in the spring. Same group of women. Wonderful people; hope I get opportunities soon to sew with them again! Thanks, Terry, for hosting us! Perfect, yes perfect, day!

Happy Quilting, Friends.