Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Tools of the trade...

mundane or not, they sure come in handy. Hey, I have posted pictures of irons, and chairs, and lately, we have seen a bunch of fun pincushions- still need to get mine up. Sarah had a post about her love of empty spools. I like empty spools, too, and I have a hard time tossing them- the babies always like rolling them around, and Jak even made his aunty a necklace, one year. But I really, really like full spools- cones are even better. Isn't that a wonderful autumnal tribute? Variegated shades of yellow, gold and brown. I don't usually use Guttermann quilting thread- I seem to have a lot of YLI and Signature, but I have found that they work very nicely in my machine. A bit of a touchy subject for long armers. Threads- what a headache they can be if they aren't happy with your machine. The Guttermann seems a finer thread, but holds up well, and I couldn't resist this warm color.

And before anyone asks... The quilt that the thread is sitting on is a long, long story. Do you have a minute? OK, maybe a little more. I could tell you about it. Hmmm.... where to start. Sarah, stop jumping the gun, I'll get to it. Maybe I should start with that "little" shirt class I took, Monday night. Two other ladies came into the class- a mother and daughter. They had these lovely tropical fabrics with them to make their shirts. As the class progressed, it was revealed that the fabrics had been cut from their son/brother's shirts- he had passed away two weeks ago from an aneurysm. whoa. Do I need to say how distracted I was during the remainder of the class? I just couldn't help it. My dad says I'm "sensitive." But I watched them cutting and folding and ironing. I listened to them talk about their son/brother- how he loved Key West and what a great artist and musician he was- I quilted a quilt for him, it turns out... No crying or even a misty eye- like they were talking about their shopping list- things to do before the memorial service...Finally, I just had to say something- "You guys are so strong! How are you doing this?" "Oh, no," they say, "This is good. You could do this." Everyone in the class agreed, all nodding their heads- this was a good thing. "No. I know for a fact, I could not."

Which brings me to that quilt up there. Sarah and I bought those fabrics to make a baby quilt for my son, Abel. That was not an easy sentence to type. Those of you with children know how a mother's heart wraps around a child. Well, I have to say that my heart wrapped around and over and under and through Abel. I don't know why, but that's how it is. Abel's middle name is Lazarus, so those of you that know your Bible stories know the end of this one. And that's all I'm gonna say on that. But... A mourning quilt sounded like a good idea and since I had all of these fabrics... and I thought it would help. Too much thinking? Yeah, well, that's what I do- it's an inherited trait and I'm stuck with it. So a few months later I start on this quilt, but it would really bring me down. I think it's kind of funny that I used fossil ferns- all those water drops- I don't think there was a seam sewn without me crying over it. Which might explain the poorly executed piecing. So, since it was causing me so much pain- and really making the whole other part of my life that isn't quilting- a chore, I'd put the whole thing in a big tin and shelf it. Every September, I'd feel like, yeah, I can do this. It'll be good to have it done. But you know? you really can't rush grieving. yeah, you'd like to have it done and over with, but it doesn't work that way. It just has to run it's course- like a good case of poisoning. There's no antidote, but I personally think lot's of rest and clear liquids doesn't hurt!

I just couldn't sleep after getting home from that class. That tin was in there. And it occurred to me that... well, there are just some things you have to face and I was gonna get that quilt done by September 30. Finished the top at 2:30 am- 45 minutes before I have to get up! Put my head down on that sewing table and balled my eyes out. But that's ok. And so... here I am. I pieced the backing, this morning. The only thing in that whole quilt that wasn't ridiculously wept over! I thought of Darcie crocheting something cool from those selvages, and that helped. And I love the warm gold thread. And that's the rest of the story.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Just a "little" something...

to tide me over 'til I get home. I took a "little" class at the quiltshop, last night. Aren't these "little" shirts the sweetest
"little" things? They are made entirely by folding the fabric- origami...hmmm.... how to spell origami.... oh, well, you know what I mean, right? I believe this pattern is called Aloha shirts. Typically they are set 3x3, so there are 9 shirts in all in a "little" wallhanging. I have been working on even "little-er" ones to incorporate into postcards. They were a lot of fun to make- once you got the hang of it. Tanya looks up from the ironing board and says, with a "deer in the headlights" look on her face, "This is kind of tedious, isn't it?" But once we figured out the pattern, it really was a lot of fun. Well, I'm off to work. Tanya has a dental appointment at 1:00 so if you stop in around then, I might could set you up pretty with some fabric or such.

Saturday, September 23, 2006


that's the last of the steam escaping my weary body. Man, oh man, am I tired! I'm going to be a brat, today and just loaf. Ahhh, now doesn't that sound like a plan? Of course, Dh and 2 of the boys are off hunting, so they might bring me home a whole bunch of work- and I can't really wish otherwise. A freezer full of venison would set us up pretty for the winter ahead.

Aren't those birdhouses lovely? I love anything old and worn looking- which is a bit odd, perhaps, because I like anything shiny and modern, too. At any rate, the really wonderful birdhouse on the far right, my Papa made for me. It is made from an old tree that had a hole in it. Isn't that cool? I wish all of you guys could know him. He is the sweetest, dearest, most ingenious of men. And the one next to it that looks like an old corn crib- for you country folks that might know what that is- Dh Bill made for me for Xmas, years ago. As well as the tiny wren house next to it. The blue bird house on the top, my Uncle Carl made and I won at a family auction- woo-hoo! The other I picked up, somewhere. They sit, in the little cubby hole that Dh made above our coat closet in the living room. He drilled a hole through the bottom and put an electrical outlet in the closet so I could light it up. I think I like the fall leaves, best.

Well, I'm off to loaf. Hope everyone has a nice relaxing weekend- full of joy and thankfulness- 'cause, wow, don't they go hand-in-hand?!

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Raise your hand if you're sure!

Bekah drew me this little picture of her hand. You know how children do. They lay their hand so carefully on a sheet of paper, and with tongue stuck out at just the right angle, they trace around each finger. Bekah then embellished the little hand as she tends to do. I am afraid that there is no help for it- she is part gypsy and plays the role well. DH's mother wears rings on every finger and earrings large enough to make Xmas tree ornaments from them in a lean year! And of course, the nails are pink. Her favorite color. I made a copy of her picture, cut out the hand, drew it onto the fabric, appliqued it down. Quilted it a bit. Embellished with metallic thread and beads. And now I find it difficult to part with. sigh. You see, we have a friend who is a school teacher and she has been wanting something made by me and I thought the little raised hand would be fun. Her birthday was Monday and the little wallhanging is still in the quilting room... Oh, I hope I'm not a bad person, but I am contemplating sending her a postcard. Ok, maybe a collection of postcards. This little hand is a simple piece and I could duplicate it... but I hate doing something twice. That would explain my annoyance with housework. What? The dishes need washed...again?! So Jennifer, if you're out there and you're reading this... I have come upon a solution. You can have it the next time you visit. Fair enough? In the meantime, I'll try to get that postcard in the mail!

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Best Friends for 21 years...

...married for 19. September 21, 1987. Seems like a long, long time ago. I heard a preacher once speak of how Jesus learned obedience- and I wondered what he meant- as Jesus never disobeyed. Yes, he knew what obedience was...But he learned obedience- even death on a cross. Learned obedience to a whole different level- all the way to the breaking point and beyond. Marriage can be that way. Sure, you love them when you're saying, "I do"... But over the years, when you struggle together and suffer loss, sharing more than you thought you could ever bear... that's taking love to a whole other level. You learn love. Bill has been my very dearest friend through the best and the worst moments of my life. He's the life of every party and the rock everyone can lean on. And I thank God every night when I lay my head down on my pillow that I have been so blessed.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Contrast can be a good thing...

or it can make a decent picture impossible. I tried 4 different times to get a good picture of this quilt, but each time, it ended up blurry. I tried to encourage the boys to stand still, I got different boys to hold it, and I tried standing very still... Finally, I realized that it is just the contrasting fabric and the busy-ness of some of it- that keeps the camera guessing about where to rest. But it is interesting- especially for a black and white quilt. And even out of focus, I think you get the general idea. Tanya, from The Quilter's Toybox, made this quilt using Blank fabric and their pattern. It is very sharp. She is entering it into the guild challenge- the rules say it has to be black and white with one color (she's using copper.) I quilted it- White on white and black on black and a lot of mental conversations about keepin' it in the lines. You know, quilting that way is a lot like riding a bike. You see that ditch coming up and you think to yourself, "Self, stay out of that ditch. Don't go in that ditch. That ditch is bad...Ah man, why'd you go in the ditch!?!" It really works a lot better if you say to yourself, "Self, stay on the road. The road is great. The road is where you want to be...not in the ditch. Ah man..." And as silly as it sounds, I sweat up a storm when I'm concentrating that hard. No, it isn't strenuous, but the AC has got to come on when I'm concentrating on staying in the lines. My eyes and elbow are very tired! And that outer border is quilted by making lines running back and forth about 1/8 -1/4 inch apart, the width of the border. Back and forth. And the only way I know of doing this, without a big "ah man!" because I overlapped my lines or took too big of a gap, is to use my finger as a guide. I just run the hopping foot up against my fingernail-like I'm drawing with my nail. After the 500th pass, you start to notice a weird smell- that's your nail burning. Leaves a lovely groove- ah now, nothing as "lovely" as you handquilters have on your middle fingers! I thought it was funny how I got to quilt a loose and flowing quilt and then a pretty rigid one, right after.

I have a busy and full week, this week. I am feeling a serious urge to play- but duty calls. Baby boy's birthday celebration is tomorrow. That should be simple. Our anniversary is this week- I can put that off until next week. We're having company for dinner, Friday. House needs cleaning and food needs baking. Oh, and I'm quilting another quilt for the show. I'm intimidated by it- it isn't big, but... it's just needing some free-hand stuff that leaves ya all hangin' out in the wind- and for a show, no less. Of course, what do I care if I don't impress? I'm certainly not looking for more business, but I don't want to let anyone down, either. I just need to get a little bit cocky and say, "I can do this!" And if it doesn't work out... "Wahhhhh" that's me, whinin' like a big ole baby!

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Posted by Picasa Psychodelic dude...

This quilt top was made by my cousin's 16y old son for his girl friend's birthday. (You have to know my cousin, Grant. He is adorable- with a 12" blonde afro. Completely natural. He had his driver's license picture taken in a tie-dyed shirt.) This quilt top is wholecloth- measuring 60x90". He tie-dyed it and I quilted it for him. I think it was such a cool idea. I am hoping I can talk him into making me a smaller version- maybe 45x45", which I could put a fun border on. Blogger is giving me grief, this afternoon. I had to go around the barn to get to the front door!! So there is a picture following this post of the backside of the quilt. I didn't have a lot of time to get it quilted- one afternoon, so I kept it simple. Hope he likes it.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Miss Scarlet in the sewing room with the quilting machine...

and Mom, before you start in again about me needing that nap, I must say that I did indeed take a nap. And it is perhaps owing to the nap that I was a bit foggy headed and thus injured my poor noggin.

First, proper respect must be shown to quilting machines. They are very powerful tools and if you are careless, you might end up sewing your finger to your quilt. While it is really fairly painless- I know this from experience- there is the risk of getting blood on the quilt. gasp! Until today, I had always considered quilting machines rather harmless when the power was shut off. Like any other appliance.

I was cleaning the dust out from under the frame when I decided that I needed a rag, instead of the broom. I went to stand up and hadn't realized that I had moved directly under the quilting machine carriage. I stood up with such force that I actually lifted the machine off it's track- it weighs about the same as a 50 pound bag of wheat. And that little, very sharp, edge on the carriage tore a hole in my scalp. It dazed me for just a minute and I dribbled blood all the way to the bathroom- with the children all crying behind me- they are so funny. My own eyes watered a bit. And now... I have a nuisance of a headache and I'm thinking... two naps? Perhaps.

Angelina fibers...

are a lot of fun and I thought that I'd share with you some of their possibilities. A few of you have mentioned problems you have had with them. I'll just show you what I have found works for me.

I buy the Angelina in these little zip-lock bags for about $4. They don't look very big, but they really go a long way. I have seen the multi-packs of all different colors and think that would be fun, too. This color is called white/blaze. The first name seems to refer to the general color and the second name, the irridescent quality. There's a white/violet, white/blue. You get the idea. The Angelina is... well, a fiber. Fluffy stuff that sparkles. The fibers are bonded together using an iron. As far as I know, Angelina only sticks to itself- I think this is a pretty common misunderstanding about it. You can't just iron it onto fabric. And oh, it will stick to your iron. Use a low setting: silk/3 on my iron. When I overheat the fibers... well, it isn't hideous, but it loses the fire that I like in it and turns kinda purply.

I work with it this way: First, I spread a sheet of parchment paper out on the ironing board. Teflon ironing sheets work nice, too, but I like the inexpensive paper. I fluff out some Angelina fibers onto the paper. I like a thinner layer, best. It remains somewhat transparent that way. Layering different colors is very pretty, too. At this point, I could simply layer another piece of parchment over it and hit it with the iron or... I like to snuggle little bits of metallic thread in it or even little nubbins of fabric. (I meticulously save every bit of metallic thread clippings- and those of you that know me, know "meticulous" isn't something I often do. But that metallic thread costs a bundle and I want to get my money's worth!) I just sprinkle the thread or nubbins over the fiber, top with some more fiber and then the paper and iron it all together to make a sheet of Angelina. And it does make a solid-type sheet that I cut with my rotary cutter and use on my postcards. If you keep layering the Angelina, it will become very rigid and stiff. That can be cool, too. Sometimes I just like the sparkle of the fibers by themselves- so I just lay them on a pretty fabric and sew over them in a criss-cross fashion to get them to stay put. No ironing on the fast2fuse, I'm afraid, but worth the effect, I think. The quilter's lame looks very nice under the Angelina, I think. Lots of sparkle- and that stuff is heat-sensitive, too, so they go well in the that regard. I also applique the Angelina onto postcards- it makes nice moons and flames and such. Or just something pretty and transparent. Theoretically, Angelina is cold water washable... It seems awfully delicate to me and so I don't think I'll try it in a quilt, or anything, but it is a nice little embellishment that has lots of bling and possibilities!

Wednesday, September 13, 2006


Lookee what I've got!!!! Hope I didn't hurt your ears with all that shouting with joy! Aren't they just lovely? 264 tiny little triangles in each block!!! All hand-pieced! And 24" across! These pictures don't do them justice, but we have had such gloomy days with rain, rain, rain. But you know? I can't bring myself to be gloomy along with it as I have these gorgeous blocks to dream about. And how did they come to me? Well, this will make you laugh....

You guys know I have been obsessing about postcards, lately, right? I don't know why, but I just find them a whole lot of fun and when you send them to folks- well, they seem happy to get them. Yes, I know I owe a few of them out to you, but I really have been busy with that garden- which I am glad to say is done, done, done!! Woo-hoo!! I need to throw a "putting away the canner" party! But back to the post cards... I had made a post card out of scraps from an antique quilt- I hope that's not blasphemous, but honestly, you could put your head through some of those holes! And I saved what I could of it. Well, this particular postcard was all cream-colored and had some antique lace on it. DH grandma was a prolific crocheter of lace and a hoarder of all that is hand-made. I'll have to show you my antique lace stash someday. I keep getting side-tracked don't I? Been that kind of morning. Laundry does that to me. So, I sent the postcard to Tanya at the quilt shop- about a year ago. She posts them on the wall above her door at the quiltshop. Well, a few months ago, my post card had fallen down and it was sitting on the counter waiting to get restuck to the wall... and a client, Holly, notices it. We got to talking about my addiction(let's call it what it is) for all things old and pitiful. and then yesterday... I was out getting Tanya and I some lunch... and Holly is in the shop when I return. Tanya hollers out that I missed my chance. I start to whine about how I was getting her food and I was only gone 5 minutes... And there on the table are these lovely blocks... And now they're mine!!!!!! I am so thrilled with them. I think I have some old vintage fabric- appropriately stained- that I can set them in. I am just so excited, I had to share my good fortune with you- all from a post card. I knew I was obsessed for a good reason.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

A Complete Recovery...

Eva woke up, Friday, feeling just fine and dandy!! So we headed to Pendleton for the Spring Valley Quilt Show and Heritage Festival. Oh, we had such a lovely, lovely day!!! We had chicken salad with cashews (I had to post a picture of that, just for you, Sarah!) It was sooooo good! And then we walked and walked and walked. We toured the museum with the quilts. Each of the girls picked out their favorites. This is a very small show- no vendors or anything like that. But I really enjoy seeing what the local folks make. The "black" (it was really dark green- hard to get good lighting in a log cabin!) quilt had some very stunning quilting in it. And Beka loved the bright colors in that pinwheel quilt. I thought it was a clever use of HST. The girls took their voting very seriously and got their top 5 in the ballot box. We Visited both quilt shops. Got a few FQ for postcards. Hopeless, I know. Afterwards, they played in the park and we were home in time for naps- had to sleep off their sugar rush! 8$, in an old-fashioned candy store, buys a completely inappropriate amount of candy! But they did share with their brothers. They bought a couple packages of "pop-rocks." Remeber those? Abe thought them an amazing mystery.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

House seems mighty quiet...

Yes, the children got to stay a few more days and now they are on their way home... and it's very quiet around here. There are a couple little ones missing from the picture- you know how difficult it is to coral kids for a picture? Ever try to count baby chicks? Well, believe me, it isn't a simple task. Paul had a cold and was still in bed and Andrew is only 1yr and not to be trusted in the morning dew. We had such a grand time. I baked 15 loaves of bread while they were here. The grilled cheese and venison sandwiches were their favorite- after all confessed they didn't like venison. Well, they had never had any of Bill's and it is more tasty than most. I got all 7 of the youngest ones down for a nap each day- in the same room- and they just snoozed their little hearts out. Naps are vital in big households- everybody needs a little down time. Andrew and DH Bill are now best buds. I'm not sure who will mope the most, now that they're separated. And I know you won't believe me, but you could hardly notice there was 8 more kids in the house. Except at meal times, but even that wasn't much more than my growing boys tend to eat. Hope their Mama doesn't think we ruined 'em too much. 'Cause we sure would like to have them back, sometime.

I did sneak into the quilting room and make a little something tonight. Just to remind myself I could. Then the girls(Eva and Bek) and I watched a movie. We had plans to go to the quilt show in Pendleton, tomorrow, but I noticed Eva has the sniffles. Think she is getting my cold. Pendleton is our special place. It is a quaint little town with 2 quilt shops. Ruth's Legacy, my favorite, is bright and airy with more contemporary fabrics. Needles is very nice and full of cozy colors. The quilt show is called "Quilts in the Park" and the weather has been so beautiful... Well, Eva is disappointed to say the least. After being in bed for 20 minutes, she hollers out to me that her nose has stopped running and she thinks her cold is gone. I didn't have the heart to tell her that it is hard for your nose to run when you are laying flat on your back. We had planned chicken salad croissants and creamed spinach soup at The Cabbage Rose and then a run to the old-fashioned candy store... I just can't go without her. So- maybe we'll stay home and can tomatoes. Now that just doesn't seem like a fair trade, does it?

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

The last golden days of summer...

The crickets are singing their hearts out and you can tell from the sounds and smells that autumn is just around the corner. DH Bill says that there is never enough summer to get all the work in that needs to be done. I usually run out of steam before I run out of summer. Some people say, "Dontcha wish there were 5 more hours in the day?" I say, "Are you kidding? I barely survive the 24 I've already got!" But summer is at an end and I find that I am so looking forward to the cool nights and clear autumn days. I love the smell of the apples ripe in the trees and bonfires burning. It all turns my mind to quilting, of course. Need something to snuggle under during our long draughty winters.

I made each of my boys a quilt- years ago, of denim. My Mom helped me cut all of these blocks from old, worn blue jeans. We left in some pockets and zippers. I did the sewing and in a couple days we had one queen-size quilt and one twin-size quilt. Ok, that gives you a hint as to how long ago it was- when we had only the three boys. Years flowed and bumped by and now... well, something had to be done. I ripped apart the old quilts and made alternate blocks of red and taupe twill and came up with 5 quilts. I should say, "quilt tops" because they have yet to be quilted. Bad mommy, I know, I know. Well, now I have 1 more gorgeous little boy who needs a quilt, too. Even if it is only a top! I recently received a box from a friend full of old hand-me-downs- loads of jeans that won't fit anyone here- so I have the stash to make another- I think I have enough of the red and taupe scraps to make it all work. Their bedroom is red, white, and blue. Yes, all 6 boys share a room. I can feel you all gettin' all pitiful for those boys, but really, they have a pretty sweet deal. It's a 30'x18' room and so they each have their own bed, their own window, their own desk- and a bathroom they don't "have" to share with the rest of the house. Well, of course no one wants to share a bathroom with 6 boys, but that is beside the point. And they have tons of room to spare even after all those beds and desks. People say it's like a barracks. Only more homey, I hope.

So here's my fall goal- I'm laying it all out there for the world to see. I want to get all 6 tops quilted and bound in time for Xmas. I'm just going to meander on them so I can zig around rivets and such. I really think I can do it. My one question would be... what do you think should go on the back? I was thinking a thin batting- have to have something to soften the seams of the denim.... and maybe just a wide muslin.... maybe. They already weigh a ton- if they slide off the bed, the little boys will need help from their big brothers to pull it back on! Bill put a lock on my quilting room door so I can work on Xmas projects without anyone spoiling their surprise- at least that's what he said it was for... come to think of it, there was a certain gleam in his eyes...

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Just another day on the farm...

I just had to share this picture. Sorry the lighting is poor- we were backlit by that window. Just to keep you from straining your eyes and trying to count youngins, there are 17 children. And each just as dear and sweet and funny as they can be. 9 of them belong to my dear friend, Mary, and they are here for the weekend and maybe for the following week if I can convince their Mama to make do without them and to let them stay. I think she'll agree. After I took their picture, the second on the right-Annalee, laughs and said, "That was great! I have never seen my Mom stand on the counter!" I dare say she hasn't, but there was no other way to get a picture of all those smiling faces.

The house is quiet, now, as everyone but Paul and I are off to church. We have the worst colds- sore throats and sinus drainage, and I am certain that we could lease our heads out as a dependable source of hyro-electric power. So I have sat here quite long enough. It's off to bed for a nap before lunch.