Friday, October 31, 2014

Happy Halloween, Friends!

This morning I quilted with the Frankfort girls over at Sharon O's house. She is always one to be festive and in the holiday spirit - whatever the holiday may be. Take a look at the tablecloth on the kitchen table where we sat and sewed.

Sweet! I will show you what we sewed tomorrow. Too much photo editing to do quickly.

Happy Quilting, Friends!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Everything But Quilting Post

When the only sewing one does is hand quilting, there isn't a whole lot to share on the blog. Day after day, picture after picture of the same quilt in the frame. Progress is just pretty darn slow. I am making progress, though; have no doubt about that! I am thrilled to say that I have moved the quilt on the frame, and am working my way toward a border. Hooray!

Since the quilting is rather slow and dull, I will share with you some of the other fun stuff I've enjoyed in recent days.

First, DH and I have been having "dates" periodically. We have enjoyed 3 drives around beautiful southern Ohio - first to Tar Hollow, followed a couple of weeks later to Hocking Hills, and just last Friday to Rocky Fork Lake. What a beautiful region we live in here in Ohio. And this fall has been spectacular as far as weather goes - warm and sunny - that makes for nice leaf color.

Ash Cave in Hocking Hills; it's a spectacular place to visit.
Rocky Fork Lake; this is near my hometown of Hillsboro.

Besides site-seeing, I have been refinishing some furniture. I recently picked up two smallish dressers at a neighborhood tag sale - got them for a steal. I  have stripped the paint and need to commence some very intense sanding in order to prepare to paint. These dressers will likely go in my sewing room and will contain some of the clutter I have laying about (shocked to hear about the clutter, aren't you?? Nahhh, not so much, I suppose.)
During. When finished, I will share the 'After' picture.
Another fun thing I did was take a calligraphy workshop. A group of artists in our town have organized to present artistic opportunities for the community, and this 2-hour class was one such endeavor. Calligraphy is something I have always wanted to learn, so I was very eager to go. Now I have to be eager about practicing; one doesn't just pick up a calligraphy nib and write beautifully.

Spark! is a newly-formed group in town that hopes to make art more accessible.

My humble efforts; "make the letters dance on the page" the instructor told us.
Finally, I will show you what I made last night for dinner - Stuffed Pumpkin. It was quite good -  savory and full of flavor. The recipe I followed came from Epicurious, I am thinking of making it again for a time when we have guests - maybe at Thanksgiving. The trick is to find a pumpkin the right size and keep it until then. Most of the pumpkins get snatched up by Halloween in these parts, so I need to get on it.

Trips with hubby, furniture refinishing, cooking fun stuff, art workshops and quilting - those are some of my activities when I'm not teaching, grading essays or writing for the Historical Society. I seem to stay busy.

Happy Quilting, Friends!

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Two More Wishes Blocks

I've been gadding about - flitting from one project to another and finishing nothing. But, hey, I'm having fun, so there you go. About a week ago, I finished the August block and the October block for the Wishes Quilt Along. This brings me up to date on 10 months of blocks. Here they are parading across my wall.

I print off the pattern, then cut the entire block out. Then I know I have enough fabric to get it made. Some of these fabrics are running low, so I am having to be frugal.

The August Block was fast and easy, but I did take some liberties with the fabric placement. The directions called for more variety in the fabrics, but because I am running low, I had to conserve a bit. I don't think it matters since it's my quilt! August's block is called Mrs. Taft's Choice.

The October block is one I've seen made up in lots of color options at various places, especially on Pinterest. I was really glad to get a chance to make it. It's called Idaho Beauty.

So now if I want to I could go ahead and get started on the outer border which is a checked 4-patch that looks very nice. It will require pieces of all my fabrics, so I hope I have enough left to finish. I also need setting strips and an inner border, and I may have to pull a creamy white from my stash, depending on the amount required.

Happy Quilting, Friends!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

A Study of Thimbles

Let me just warn you from the get-go - this is a ridiculously trivial post.

My recent whining about sore digits led me to consider the ever-so-humble thimble. A couple of comments came in regarding methods of protecting fingers, and I so appreciate them.  I dug around to see what I had on hand.

This is the thimble I have been using. It is so worn that the needle often gets stuck in the same hole time after time. Why I don't break down and get out a better thimble, I do not know. I guess I just want to get all the use possible out of the thing. I try to slide it around a bit on my finger so that some other spot will do the work, but it always slips back.

I have a plethora of thimbles with similar holes that have poked all the way through. I may need an intervention; why I have held onto these used/useless thimbles?

That white one on the left can be worn either way, so I get double usage out of that style.

The sad fact is that I have a brand new one on hand that I ought to be using. Then I wouldn't have the grief I'm having with the current one.  

Maybe I could get just one more session's use out of it?

I suppose that is my thinking. I've never been one to be overly penurious, but I just hate to waste a bit of a perfectly good thimble. They only wear out in that one spot, after all.

I opened the new thimble. It feels tight, stiff and uncomfortable. Breaking in a new thimble is a new kind of aggravation.

It feels a bit more comfortable this way. Still tight, though.

Listen to me complaining because my thimble doesn't suit me.

Wonder what I'd do if I had real troubles??

Happy Quilting, Friends!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

I Keep Forgetting

I forget that I should occasionally remind you all that I am conducting a book give-away. I reviewed a copy of Marianne Jones' children's book called Great-Grandma's Gifts and she has generously offered to award a signed copy to one lucky reader who enters in the form below.

If you would like to read the bit I wrote about the book, you can scroll back; it was just a few days ago. Or you can click here if that's easier.

The winner will be chosen on Saturday, November 1! Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Happy Quilting, Friends!

Hand-Quilting With Ease

I thought I would share a little tip with you today to make your hand-quilting endeavors a bit easier.If arthritis is an issue, this will definitely be useful, but anyone with difficulty gripping a needle and pulling it through can use this idea, also.

I keep this rubber thimble near my stitching for easy access when I need help completing stitches. It came in a package of three - S, M, and L. This is the large one because I use it on my thumb.

We all know that quilting needles are short little things; small needles help create the tiny stitches that we desire. The downside of that, however, is that with three stitches loaded onto such a short needle, the daggone thing is hard to pull through! My large fingers don't help matters, either. The rubber thimble is what I use to solve this problem.

In the photo above, I have three stitches on my needle and it's ready to pull through. If there is much thickness, like at intersections where several fabrics come together, I cannot easily get a grip on the needle. It's kind of like the needle is stuck in that thickness.

I slip the rubber thimble onto my thumb and between the two thimbles I grab the needle and easily pull  it through without any effort at all.
Once I've got it through the last stitch, I can then pull the needle and thread through the fabric, thus completing the process. It saves me lots of aggravation, and doesn't really take any extra time. It's not clumsy, even though it might look like it is.

I don't have to do this everywhere. Like in the pictures here, there is no excess thickness in this particular spot, so I wouldn't need the rubber thimble. Some of these intersections, though, are quite thick with fabrics, so those spots will require the extra 'umph' I need to get the job done.

Now, tomorrow, I will discuss this ratty thimble. Gripping stuff, I know. Pun!

Happy Quilting, Friends!

Monday, October 20, 2014

This Is Whining

My fingers and thumb hurt! I have spent a good bit of this past month on hand quilting, and I'm now paying the price for it. The sensation one has in one's fingers and thumb after repeated needle-pricks is a constant throbbing. Then take those hands and plunge them into a sink of hot, soapy dishwater, and the throbbing intensifies. Waa-waaa! What a quandary--dishes or quilting?? No, there's no quandary at all, is there? *wink*

That Saturday at History Day earlier this month renewed my interest in getting The Long Road Home project off my to-do list. Plus, I'd already been working on Cheddar and Crackers, as well. The gears have definitely been ratcheted up a few notches on hand-quilting. 

 The quilting is rather straightforward, but it's getting the job done. I love sitting at the frame and looking at the vast array of fabrics that I used. I just love a scrappy-looking quilt!

I will be taking a break from stitching today. I have a full day at OUC, and then a Frienzie dinner afterwards. That should give my fingers time to heal a bit. Maybe one of these days, I will actually have a finish to show off!

Happy Quilting, Friends!

Saturday, October 18, 2014

An Early Retirement . . .

. . . Quilt, that is.

You no doubt recall the circle of close friends and former co-workers I frequently reference here on the blog lovingly as the Frienzies. Well, as each of us has retired, we've surprised that Frienzie with a retirement quilt. So far, six of the eight of us are retired, and those two who remain full-time in the classroom have several more years before they reach that magic retirement date.

We who are retired got to thinking, though. What would it hurt to go ahead and get a jump start on those last two quilts? At least the one for Susan, who is up next in the retirement queue. We already had the fabric and since we use the same pattern for all these quilts, we decided to go for it.

And with that bit of background, let me introduce you to Frienzie Susan's retirement quilt, which we presented to her in late September.

The fabric is an older line by Joel Dewberry. We had a road trip maybe 4-5 years ago that included a trip to a fabric store where Susan selected these fabrics. I admit to having some misgivings as to the way this would come together, but by gosh, it looks awesome!

The back looks awesome, too. We didn't want to have leftover focus fabric, and we always put a signed block on the back, so we came up with this. That extra block has significance, too. The front of the quilt has 30 stars, and most of us retired at the 30-year mark. Susan will retire with 32 years of service, so the two extra stars on the back will represent all 32 years of service.

And here's our signature block. Susan's projected retirement is June 2017, if all goes as planned.

Now I will link to a previous post about retirement quilts, just because I think you might be interested. There will be some "throwback" pictures, as well. *wink*

Happy Quilting, Friends!

Friday, October 17, 2014

My Very First Give-Away

About a month ago I wrote a post about some really awesome aspects of blogging. The top item on that list is the subject of today's post. Click here to go back and check it out.

As a result of my even earlier posts (July) about the contents of my grandma's quilt closet, I received an email from Marianne Jones, the author of a sweet children's book called Great-Grandma's Gifts. Marianne said that she'd seen my posts about Grandma and all her quilts and sewing supplies, and she thought I'd be interested in her book about her own dear grandmother.

 Great-Grandma's Gifts tells the story of Arlene, the narrator's great-grandmother. The twist, though, is readers are told about Arlene as a little girl who loves her doll Maggie. Arlene's mother makes her dresses with pretty fabrics and then Arlene uses the scraps to make clothes and quilts for Maggie.

Arlene grows up and becomes a busy mother, but she still has a love for sewing. Now she sews clothes for her children. The story continues and Arlene becomes a grandmother and a great-grandmother. She makes clothes, toys and quilts for her family. The book is just as darling as can be, with lots of sensory details and color-recognition activities.

It's been in the works for quite awhile, and now all details have been coordinated; I can finally invite you to join in for a book give-away. Marianne will provide a signed copy of Great-Grandma's Gifts to one lucky reader here! Click below to enter. The winner will be randomly selected on November 1.
a Rafflecopter giveaway Happy Quilting, Friends!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Wishes Quilt Along - Block 9

It has been a super-long time since I've done anything on the Wishes Quilt Along which I started in January. A block is offered each month and folks participating are asked to make a donation to Make A Wish Foundation since all block patterns are free, as are the finishing instructions. Here is a link to the website, which is on the Jolly Jabber blog from Fat Quarter Shop.

I sat down last night and made block 9 - the September block - called Dove In the Window. I'm using a very, very old line from Fig Tree Fabrics called A Day In the Country.  I have done eight blocks; I think I must have skipped last month. I need to see which one I'm missing. The setting instructions have also been posted, so I could be getting ahead on some of that. I might actually have this quilt top finished by year's end. That would surely be something.

If you'd like to see my previous blocks, click below.

April and May
June and July

I now know the blocks I still need to make - August and October. I must get on it!
Happy Quilting, Friends!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Having A Little Fun

Do you spend way too much time on Pinterest? I'm afraid I do. It's just so darned inspiring, though. I get so many quilting ideas and crafting ideas and well, you know...

I actually made something I saw on Pinterest last night. Well, let me clarify. I saw it several nights ago; I made it last night. If you click this link you will see the block that inspired me. It originated at this site.

Here are the fabrics I pulled.

Twelve HSTs and four squares later, I had my block! Easy peasy, and so good looking!

Fun and fast. And a nice diversion from other stuff. I have not worked on the quilt I wrote about yesterday. Maybe tomorrow for that. I just wanted a little change of pace. This was just the ticket.

Happy Quilting, Friends!