Saturday, January 26, 2008

He just makes me smile...

Been a busy girl, this week. Started off all loverly and slow. Got my tree down, finally. Cleaned my bedroom. Does anyone elses' bedroom catch everything with an unknown address? "Mom? Where does this go?" "I don't know." "We'll just put in your room." "oh, thanks." Baskets of laundry that needed folding- you know, that last load of the day and I was just too tired... Those can add up, ya know. Cleaned my quilting room. Out of desperation, because I couldn't find my scissors. Wish I owned another pair, right about then. Found them in the bedroom. Put a quilt on the frame- it's still not quilted because of the missing scissors, now found, but then still missing. Kinda hard to cut batting with snips... But really, I was having a ball, just hibernating from the cold. Then Tanya called from Bahrain and said she wasn't gonna make it home in time for the scheduled opening of her quilt shop... so yeah, I said I'd open for her. I don't mind, but man! was it cold, and tiring. I'm just not used to working full time. Hope I never have to get used to it. I took kiddos with me and we got along fine. Not much business, because...I did mention how cold it's been, right? And now I'm home, again, and I am thinking it is going to take me a few days to recover.

So... nothing quilty to mention. I've been looking at my fabric. Does that count? I think the new year is always a slow sewing time, mostly because I did so much sewing before Christmas. Kinda burns you out for a short spell. The urge to sew always returns. Daniel, that's him up there, he's 16 and came home from work last night, all glum. He had ripped a hole in the seat of his best pants- which he doesn't normally wear to work, but he had "fun plans" for after work... I asked how he did it... he says he has no idea, but thinks it could be from bending over. I tried not to laugh, but really, that's ridiculous. Can you tell how skinny he is? And his pants just hang on him. But they all give out in just the same spot. In the middle of the seat, by the back pocket. I think he stuffs a rag in there, or something. That's some sewing I'll be doing.

A couple weeks ago, I patched a pair of his pants- really girls, it's a full time job with that one. See, usually he asks and I gripe about how hard he is on his pants and how he has some perfectly nice good jeans in his basket and why won't he wear those instead of the patched and patched again ones... he says they aren't soft enough. I say they will get soft if you wear them! Futile effort. So, anyway, I patched, secretly, and returned them to his basket. After 6 hours at work, he looks down and sees there are no safety pins holding his pants together... dh Bill says Dan almost cried, he was so touched that I patched them for him. Now ya gotta love that. I told him last night that I was gonna make sure he got another new pair of jeans, since his best were now work pants, and I'd get him 2 pairs of Dickie work pants. He's proven that he needs them. He's all worried about the expense. It's "only money" when you have a sweet kid like that.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

A perfectly good excuse...

I can remember- just faintly, mind you- of the days when things would get complicated and I would just soldier on. Apparently, my soldiering days are behind me! No more biting the bullet. Or forging ahead. Nope. I know when I've been outflanked and outgunned. Nina just waves the white flag and says, maybe tomorrow. And really, I can't get myself all worked up and feeling like a failure, either. Used to do that, too. And why? So that I could meet some arbitrary deadline that didn't suit me at all? Well, that just seems silly now that I am a bit older. And maybe wiser. Certainly, more realistic.

All that to say... this picture of the stuffed stockings, I took just last night. Yep, I did it again. Put off Christmas like a regular Grinch. I didn't intend to, but things kept popping up- like life, and I just wasn't ready and my sweet William wasn't ready... and I do believe I have been blessed with the most patient of children. They were... gently waiting. So, today it is. They dug into their stockings, this morning. (I guess that is a "sewy" project. A friend, a retired art teacher, gave me a bunch of upholstery samples. They weren't too big, but they made some adorable stockings. I just drew them out with a permanat marker and serged them up- cuts while you sew. too cool. I had all 10 made in about 2 hours. I miss that serger.) It's snowing. See? If everybody else had waited, they could have had a white Christmas, too! It's perhaps not ideal. The three oldest men of the house had to work, but they plan on making a short day of it. Apparently, we thrive on anticipation! And they'll be bringing Grandma by, if she feels up to it. "Mexican Goulash" instead of turkey or ham. It's just a big pot of thick chili, topped with cornbread. They like it with cornchips. And a Candybar cake. Keeping it simple, but everyone's favorite. I thought about taking the tree down, tomorrow, but I don't know... "New Years" could be just around the corner for me.

I thought I'd show you guys my new backsplash- don't I have the cutest handyman? My dad put this up for me while he was here, last week. It looks like pressed tin, but is really some kind of tough vinyl. I'm lovin' it and wishing he were still here!

Friday, January 11, 2008

Stocking caps, anyone?

This is my first little foray into knitting anything with an actual shape. You know, other than a rectangle or a square! I have knitted scarves, but that's about it. I was visiting Darcie over at and she's just so nifty with her crochet. She does these adorable handbags that she felts. Way cool. And I can just see her sitting on her couch, quietly crocheting the cold winter days of North Dakota away. All domestic like. So I decided to try the knitting, again. My great-grandmother, Oe, used to knit a sock every night when she went to bed. Just sit there in bed and knit a sock. She had 14 kids, so I am sure that was the only way to keep them in socks! There is just something all homey and...momalie, about handwork. Knitting, crocheting, tatting, handsewing.

I bought me a how-to book at Walmart for $2 and started in with the cap Boo is wearing- she's on the right. I started it on my trip to Alabama, and my friend, Donna, sees me knitting and says, "I didn't know you could knit." "I can't," says I. Showing her my little booklet and telling her I am attempting to make this hat- don't know if it will work out, though. She laughs and asks, "What do you do with that little tail hanging down there." "How should I know? I haven't got to that part, yet!" Just let me say right here, that $2 doesn't buy you what it used to, because there was not even a little unillustrated side-note of what to do with that tail... any knitters out there? I just pulled it back up through the seam at the back of the hat and after a few inches, snipped it off. I have made 4 of them, so far- all different. Abe's has ribs, and I wish you could have seen him leaning against my legs, "Is it done, yet?" He tends to wear it around the house. No doubt it will be lost in a week, but it wouldn't be a great loss, as the size... well, that's something I am still working on. I am determined to get it just right on a cap for Jack- see? I have plenty of models who aren't too particular and don't mind wearing my mistakes.

We are having a lovely time with my parents being here. My dad can fix anything- and he has proven that, here. I had this wire sticking out of the wall above the stove- intending some day to get an exhaust fan and light put in there. It has been hanging for...about 8 years, now. So he just wired it up as an outlet- looks much better. Then, there was a light fixture that needed moved over a foot so you could get in and out of the attic without bashing it in... he took care of that and even installed a new light fixture for me- isn't that fun? It was an old one- with embossed sunflowers. My water dispenser in the fridge was broken- fixed that. My ice maker was leaking- fixed that. My cordless phone had it's little cord chewed by a mouse- varmints! He fixed that. My stove wouldn't ignite on it's own anymore- fixed that! Who wants him next? He tends to talk a bit and rant about the nitwits who design things so poorly, but really, he is well worth the "trouble." No trouble at all, and he'll eat anything. The perfect pet. My mom keeps the dishes done, the table wiped, the children fed. She made bread pudding, yesterday- I had some cinnamon bread in the freezer, and I thought Evie was gonna make herself sick, she ate so much! She said, "Ya gotta eat it while it's here!" Spoken like a true child of a large family. Mom and I plan on having lunch out, tomorrow. Dad will be on kid duty. No doubt, they'll wrangle him into watching a movie with them. Or maybe he'll be putting that backsplash in above the stove... Ya can't keep a good man down!

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Purple by any other name...

would still be violet, lavender, lilac, plum...purple. I finished the highly ripped quilt, yesterday. After breaking two needles and ripping out countless miles of thread. I'm not complaining, just stating fact. My mom peiced this quilt- she is the consumate scrappy-quilter. My Dad has a thing for purple. My Mom, not so much. When I showed her a picture of the finished quilt, she says, "...I don't rememeber it being so purple." I promise, I never, ever, change the color of a quilt once it is handed over to me. Giggle. Well, she mixed lots of navy blue with it. I think that is an unusual combination, but it works. I thought if I showed a rather darker picture of it, she would be more peaceful about the whole purple thing. I think she is planning on giving it to my sis-in-law, anyway, so it won't be living in her house. My Mom and Dad live in a barn. I love it when people ask, "What? Were you born in a barn?" I could say, "Very nearly." But the barn is kinda dark- few windows and hey, they live in West Virginia- it's dark there. This may explain her surprise about the actual color of the quilt! My Dh bought her an Ott light, but one little pool of light hardly allows one to see the entire project.
My Mom loves to peice quilts. I try to keep her supplied in fabrics because she doesn't have anywhere to acquire them, herself. They really live in the sticks. Every so often, I get a installment of tops which I am supposed to quilt for her... She is ever so patient. Never complains. But it takes me a good long while to get to them. And usually it is something like... Oh, here's Mom's quilts. I should quilt one. OK, let's see what we have here. There's a big rubbermaid tub full of tops. So I shuffle through the tops, finding one especially inspiring. Oh, man! No backing for this one! No prob, put it back in the tub, and choose another. Oh, man! No thread to match! And by now, I have lost my inspiration. I got to get better about that! So I was determined to get a quilt done. And then, what always happens with her quilts- problems. Problems with design, thread, tension of said thread... mostly, operator error. I told my Mom maybe they were cursed. She says, so sweetly, well, you're not worried about it, are you? Well, yeah, kinda, I don't want you to go, ew! when you see them! "I would never go ew! and I'd just say, Wonderful! it's done!" Isn't she sweet?
So, this one is done. And no sooner had I said that to her, she says, "Can I come and eat Chinese with you, tomorrow?" duh, yeah! They live about 6 hours away, so it's a real treat to get a visit. This little warm break is just the thing to get my Dad away from the barn. I should be cleaning the house... but Dh Bill says, then what will your Mom do? Sit on the couch and relax, I suggest. He rolls his eyes. It could happen.

Friday, January 04, 2008


Now doesn't that picture just make you want to go and make a quilt? It doesn't? Are you sure you're in the right place? I don't think I know a single quilter out there who wouldn't find inspiration in this humble little tidal pool. Man! What color! The blues and purples, the greens and yellows, the rust and greys, the browns and blacks...And look how proportionate it is! The brights and darks just bouncing off of each other...the sour of that green mixed with the sweet of that blue... And it was alive, guys, so alive! OK, it was under a couple inches of cold water, but still... the maker of that "quilt"... WOW! That's an original!

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Serious Rippage...

Chugging right along this morning... having a high ole time... notice the tension on the bobbin seems a bit tight, but blythely ignore that... get some quilting in and then... yep, shouldn't ever ignore tension. It'll cause you more tension than would seem proportionate. Buggers! The top of the quilt was lookin' all loverly... while the back...sigh. This is what I call the "whited sepulchre" effect. You know, pretty on the outside, but inside- full of dead mens' bones. Simply won't do. I begin to pick and snip. I know how all quilters just love unsewing, and figure there was about a hundred miles of thread that needed undoing... seemed that way, anyway. About a four square foot area. Double buggers! In walks my hero... "Anything I can help you with?" His eyes start to get all sparkly as he realizes my predicament. Setting aside the obvious character flaw of saddistic glee over my pain, Jack is a sweet kid and absolutely loves to pick out my mistakes. This apparent saddistic inclination is one I am willing to overlook- at least until the pickin' and snippin' is done. So under the frame he goes. He rigs up a couple 5-gallon buckets and a package of batting- all comfy, he says. And he makes it so much easier. Usually, I snip every three stitches or so all along the top line of sewing. And then it's time to head to the nether side of the machine's dark underbelly- a more awkward space you could hardly imagine- at least it is dry and there are no critters- my cellar comes to mind of a more awkward and uncomfortable space. Here, I begin to pull on the bobbin thread and rip out the stitches this way. It is usally an up-down-up-down kind of dance, because there are always stubborn spots that require extra attention- like where the stitching suddenly changes direction. There was an exceedingly generous amount of changing direction in this quilt. Because the tension in the bobbin was very tight- I had a little thread caught from the wrong end of the bobbin... it makes a thrilling zipper-like effect everytime you make a curve. Straight, not so bad. Curve, very very bad. Can't take the bitter with the sweet in this instance. It all has to go. And go it did. It took us only 90 minutes to remove the bothersome stitching, and all the rag tag thread snippets- duct tape works wonders as a magnet for that and I am back in business. Fast. OK, I have decided that "fast" in the quilting realm deserves it's own alternate definition in the Webster dictionary. But thank you Jack- your Mama would have melted into a puddle of hysterical, "Why? WHY? WHY?" tears, without your cheerful assistance.

Wayne Sneath, wherever you are...
Thank you very much!! Across the aisle from my Uncle Greg's quilt- at the Chicago Quilt Show, there was a very interesting quilt. It's the tiny little stars on the top. Decided I needed a picture to share with you all. In case you didn't know it, there are strict restrictions about taking pictures of the art quilts at quilt shows. The traditional quilts are open to pics. Typically. So I stand back and snap a picture of this one... there came a deep voice in my ear, "That'll be $5." I about jumped out of my skin. I figured that $5 was a pretty reasonable penalty for taking a forbidden picture. The guy starts to laugh when he sees my startled expression. This was his quilt and he was getting a kick out of people's reactions. This quilt was called "Singing In The Rain." One of the center blocks(1") in the stars had a tiny couple with an umbrella. The cornerstones in this quilt were 1/4" squares- just to give you an idea of the scale. Well, Wayne and I struck up a conversation- one thing that Sarah and I have in common- we can talk to anybody, and frequently do. I'd say Wayne is about 60 years old and he described himself as a novice quilter- been quilting 4 years, he said. I'd say he's some kind of prodigy novice! The following two quilts are also his. He's from Northfield, Illinois. He was a delightful person. Very Charming. The Singing quilt reminded me of Lucy, and Dawn.

This is a post I made on 04/24/06. Some of you may remember the quilts. New years day, I got an email from a friend of Wayne's, saying that he had passed away. Does that make anyone else as sad as it does me? Maybe it was the timing of New Years... wondering how a fresh start applies to this? How such talent and zest for life can be turned off. But the gift of just seeing these quilts goes on. So I'll say it again...

Wayne Sneath, wherever you are...
Thank you very much!!