Sunday, January 31, 2010

The Journey Begins....

....with a single step.
I always seem to to spring cleaning right around the beginning of February. Maybe something to do with my MIL coming in two weeks to stay with the kids for midwinter break? It is good to start crossing things off the list again, after all, not everything can wait for summer vacation. So, without further ado, here come the before and after pictures....Laundry room before, a popular dumping ground for everything as people enter in through the garage.
Laundry room after. Look a counter was under all that stuff! Coming soon to a blog near you, before and after of the study.
I pulled out my depression blocks today to see how far I had gotten with all the trimming of bonus half square triangles. I've taken them to ice skating for the last three weeks in a row and gotten quite a few done. All that remains is the border. I was trying to bring some sense of closure to the edges with the border, but the math is a little wonky because the unfinished squares are 1.75 inches. I wanted a background rectangle to take the place of two blocks, but cut them at 2.5 inches, when clearly they should have been 3 inches (1.75 + 1.75 -.5 for seams). I didn't quite get this one done for the January UFO challenge, but I went over to Nancy's blog today and found out that the February UFO is #7. I just finished that one! So yay, I'm ahead of the game for once (in my own mind at least). I also have 2.5 inch and 2 inch squares from various projects and a whole bunch more 1.75 inch squares. I've got ideas floating through my mind for those, so we'll see what they turn into.
Miss Sheila, my Girl Scout co-leader came over during Odyssey of the Mind today and helped me put together more Happy Block kits. We had gotten some more donated fabric, so she helped to iron and sort while I cut strips and squares. I saw that Amy has her BOM directions up for February, so I'll have to think about those as well. One of them is a Florida themed block, I had better make sure that one turns out well(templates are required :0). It is so fun to see what patterns she is coming up with. I'm sure the finished quilt will be fabulous.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Love the Weekend

The last two weekends have been devoted to nonstop quilting. Things are a little more balanced this weekend. I got these pictures in an e-mail from El, one of the ladies from the quilt marathon for Haiti last weekend. We were the two die hards who worked all night on Friday and came back again on Saturday. We had a lot of fun and chatted quite a bit through the night.
The one just cracks me up because she cut off the lady who was holding up the other end of the quilt. I can't remember her name for the life of me, but she was a little grumpy and insulted my sewing machine for being too noisy before telling me that I didn't get any extra points for all of my fancy quilting. I didn't know for sure how to respond to that, but I guess El showed how she felt about the terse comments by cropping that woman right out of the picture!
I haven't done much on the quilting front this weekend, but I think I'll spend some time tomorrow seeing if I can get some work done on my January UFO. I finished off Sock Monkey's already, so I won't feel too guilty about swapping the numbers around if I don't get my depression blocks entirely done by the end of the weekend.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Help for Haiti

The kids and I drove up to Port Canaveral this week to drop off the rice and beans our Girl Scout troop has been collecting for Haiti. They are going to be delivered by the cruise ships when they stop there during their regular schedule. There was much discussion about whether it was appropriate for the cruises to continue stopping there, but they decided that it was better to let people keep their jobs and have money continue to flow in to the country. Ironically Haiti is one of the stops on the cruise we are taking next month during mid-winter break.

I've just gotten back from spending most of the last three days at a quilt marathon for Haiti. A local quilt shop organized it and has been open 24 hours a day for the last week trying to make 300 quilts for the Salvation Army to deliver to Haiti. I was booked with meetings for most of the week, but made it there starting on Thursday to sew to my hearts content. There was a nice article in the newspaper about it and lots of people donated fabric, batting, and thread as well as snacks. People came and went with their schedules, but there were so many during peak hours that they took over an empty space next door that used to be a craft shop.

There was an assembly line going with some people cutting while other pieced or cut borders early in the week. By today most of the activity was shifted to layering, quilting and binding. I got to do a little of everything at some point and managed to log about 24 hours overall.

The total count when I left today was about 200, so I don't think they will meet the 300 goal, but that is still a lot of quilts to come up with in a week. Some people took kits home to finish, so that might add more to the total in the end.

There were three main patterns, but while I was there, most of the quilts were 5 inch squares set on the diagonal. They used a cool method that I had never tried where the squares are sewn into a rectangle twice as tall as it is wide before the corner is cut off somehow and sewn onto the bottom to create the diagonal setting. I will have to try it with paper and figure out exactly how it works because it is nifty way to make a quick quilt.
I was on binding duty for most of last night and got really good at machine stitching both separate bindings and the flip from the back kind. Today I switched to quilting and was surprised to find that I could free motion quilt an entire top in only 20 minutes while I took at least twice as long to stitch in the ditch. I would have loved to stay longer, but I had been away from home too long and needed to spend some time with everyone here. We are all snuggled up on the couch now and they are all glad to have me back.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Rather be Quiltng

No school today, so the kids and I were home together. I thought I would finish up the last of my quilt marathon projects, but life got in the way. Anna wanted a ride to a play date and then a parade of random children started coming in and going out. Between keeping up with all of that I managed to fold a couple of loads of laundry. I got one and half borders put on Christmas lights and pressed whirlygiggles, but that is about it on the quilting front. I was very much hoping to finish borders and backing today so that they could be hung nicely until I'm ready to quilt them. I may sneak in for a few minutes after the kids are in bed, but I should really figure out first what I'll be teaching tomorrow.
I pulled a couple of rock climbing pictures off the camera as well. They all had a lot of fun and want to go again next year. Tomorrow there is a Girls Scout leader meeting, cookies are due and we are signed up to serve snacks. Kurt will be headed off to the school board meeting where they will continue to argue over rezoning. Wednesday will bring football and that is as far ahead as my mind has wandered. Sigh, the nicer the weekend, the harder it is to go back to the work week.

Sunday, January 17, 2010


I just love quilt marathons! Somehow saying, "I have to quilt because I'm part of a marathon" has so much more weight than "I'd like some time with my machine this weekend if there's nothing else that needs to be done." Kurt was off to work again today, so it was a stop and start sort of day, but I did get two flimsies assembled. Christmas Lights had a bit of a disaster. Lizzy has figured out how to get over the baby gates we use to keep her in the kitchen. Each time she got out today she went straight over and made a mess on my quilt blocks! First was a number two on the edge and I sort of sponged it off thinking I could wait to wash it after it was quilted. Then she returned for a number one right in the middle and I had to go ahead and wash it. Wow was that a disaster. I got it to the flimsy stage and used a gentle cycle, but it still raveled madly. Getting it flat with all the seams going the right way was tricky to say the least. It is ready for borders now, so hopefully I can get to that tomorrow.
Whirlygiggles has been my leaders and enders, and there were more than enough for this 6 by 7 snuggle quilt. I'm not sure whether this one wants borders or not, I'll sleep on it and see what it tells me in the morning. I am getting to bed at a decent hour tonight after working to the wee hours last night. The Golden Globes just ended and I am fading fast. I will pop in though and see what everyone else got done today. Happy Quilt Marathon.

Good Morning

I hope everyone doing the quilt marathon is having a great time. I know I am. I got all of the whirlygiggle blocks ironed last night and then got up bright and early this morning to get the Christmas Lights blocks together. I think I'm only going for 6 x 7 blocks on the whirlygiggles for my niece Paige who requested a snuggle size quilt. That will mean plenty of leftover blocks for a little baby quilt. There are two more ladies at work having babies in the next couple of months and one of them is having a girl. The other is letting it be a surprise, so I was thinking of waiting and doing a name quilt for that.
Kurt is off to work again this morning, but so far the kids are letting me sew. I'll take advantage of the opportunity while it is available and check up on everyone over lunch I think. It is so much more social to sew with other people, even if they are thousands of miles away. Happy quilt marathon everyone!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Hitting My Stride

That's more like it. I finally convinced everyone here about the importance of my quilting marathon weekend and started to make some good progress. I got the Christmas Lights blocks all put together (even though two of them seem to be MIA) and am ready to get them all sewn together into a top. I'll probably play with the blocks some more, and I'm thinking of going with a different yellow for the triangles, but it is starting to look like a quilt now. Especially if I can track down those other two blocks.
I got some more bonus squares trimmed up during bath time and will probably work my way through some more of the ironing basket before I turn in. I've been working whirlygiggle blocks through as leaders and enders, so those will be next on my list. Now it is starting to look like a marathon around here.

Quilting 5K

Not so much a quilting marathon here today as a short sprint. I was so looking forward to a day of endless sewing, if not for that darned earthquake in Haiti. I'm back now, done with ice skating, done with rock climbing and ready to have some quality long run time with my machine. I took a baggie of all of my bonus half square triangles to ice skating this morning and worked on trimming them all up. I abhor waste, and so I like them to be as big as possible. I used to cut them to either 2 inches or 1.5 inches until I realized that most of them were 1.75. So that is my main focus now unless a square is unusually large or small. Most of what I cut today was left from the Sister's Choice Quilt I made for Mom, and the rest belong to the depression blocks that have been lingering for a while now. Kurt is home from work and sitting in the back yard watching 12 kids play on the swing set, we've gained 2 since yesterday but they are all having a good time.

Mistake or Design Decision?

Christmas lights is first on my list for the quilting marathon weekend. All the star blocks are done, but I'm having a dilemma with the bow-tie blocks. While madly chain stitching away, I accidentally sewed a red strip onto the wrong side of the HST. The dark portion is meant to turn out as it does in the second block. The orientation of mine would have the dark portion on the inside. I had convinced myself that I was going to sew them all backwards to avoid unsewing, but as I look at the pictures, I think the balance is off in the first block. I guess the frog wins.
My plans for a nonstop quilt marathon have hit a few small snags so far. I left work nice and early to get home and get busy with my sewing. The weather is nice today for the first time in absolutely ages though, and all the kids flocked outside to play. At one point we had at least 11 kids on our swing set. Amongst them all were three kids belonging to our new neighbors, so we spent time chatting about things and getting acquainted. Kurt was off to football practice after that, leaving me with just Sydney. We had dinner and baths and were just ready to settle down for the evening when Kurt came back and let me know that he was going to have to work this weekend. He never works on the weekend, so that struck me as odd. They are being called in for crisis support in Haiti though, and it is all hands on deck. He doesn't need to go to Haiti (thank goodness) or even to Miami where they are staging all of their support people, but he does need to go in and get everyone who is going set up with the proper equipment and software. They did a similar thing during Katrina and it was intense but short lived.
So that leaves me to handle the kids tomorrow, which means ice skating and rock climbing. Those promise to suck up a good portion of the day. I will take some handwork though, maybe the depression blocks I've been patiently trimming for my January UFO. I think I can get in just a bit more ironing before calling it a night. We hit the ice at 8:45.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Still Freezing

Still waiting patiently for things to thaw around here. Our neighbors just put in a whole yard full of new landscaping and they are keeping things well wrapped hoping to save some of it. Most of are palm trees are getting pretty brown around the edges and I'm not sure how many of them are going to make it. The ones in our yard we really care about are really too big to cover very well so we are just letting natural selection decide which will survive. Maybe spring will bring new landscaping for us as well.
The heater tried valiantly to keep up this weekend, but the temperature just kept slipping down by a couple of degrees per hour over the course of the day. Thank goodness we had so many quilts to keep us warm at night!

I was browsing at Hancock's of Paducah and stumbled on some Girl Scout Fabric! I had seen the Boy Scout version, but this is the first time I've seen these. I promptly loaded a fat quarter bundle of 20 fabrics into my cart and zoomed to the checkout. I'm not at all sure what I will do with it, but I had to have it anyway.

Sunday, January 10, 2010


Not of the house of course, but today was a quilt related housekeeping day of sorting, organizing and putting away. I spent my "free" time this morning ironing leaders and enders and then filing them away into their respective homes. Some of them are part of ongoing projects, but some of them are just random four patches or nine patches without a destination yet. I feel quite guilty now when I end a line of sewing and cut the threads off without sewing through a square of some sort.
This afternoon was the baby shower for which I made the quilt. It seemed well received and the colors matched well with the planned nursery scheme. Our two guidance counselors did most of the planning and everything was adorably cute. It was all color coordinated and in verse. I am just home from that now and we are watching a movie as a family. I might pull my ironing board out again and work through some more of my odds and ends while watching.
I'm still thinking about what to work on next weekend. I'd like to spend the evenings this week getting everything set up so that I can get lots done during the quilting marathon next weekend. Who else is in?

Saturday, January 9, 2010

One Last Thing

I didn't want to start anything major, but I had already cut out the pieces of Amy's block of the month #3, so I sent ahead and put that together so that I could put it away until next month. This block has the same pieces as #2 but the red centers are rotated. I like it the other way better, but I can see how they could work together nicely. I love finding mistakes in the picture that I've missed all along the way. One of the background triangles got sewed in upside down. I'm not sure if I'll fix it or not, but it won't happen tonight. I may do a little ironing before calling it a night. I have a big tub of leaders and enders that need to be dealt with. I'm sitting and watching the heater loose ground to the weather outside. I think there may be something wrong with it. Maybe the ironing will add some heat to the room.

Again to the Finish

2nd Finish today!! Woohoooo! OK, so it helps that both of these quilts were almost done and just needed finishing touches, but still, they are done now and I get do do a little happy dance. Imagine what I could have accomplished if I hadn't been busy until noon with ice skating and errands. So here is the Happy Sock Monkey quilt, my model for the Girl Scout charity quilt project. 80 happy blocks quilted in 4 sections and ready to pass on to Miss Sheila, my co-leader, who will hand stitch the binding. Now I'm off to check the list and find out what's next.

Brrr to the Finish

Just took the last stitch on Sage Blossom. I'm off now to see if I can find some cute baby clip art for the label. The pattern didn't turn out the way I expected it to. I've done this pattern with a light background in the past and the stars stand out. This time I used browns for the background and that is the part that stands out. I don't think that makes it bad though, and the colors are based the ones chosen by the mother to be who will have no idea that I wanted it to look starlike. Thankfully the workmanship is gift worthy. My last quilt was having issues with tension, but it must have been the thread I used, because this one worked out just fine.

I did a regular meander in the middle with sage thread and then made a geometric shape in the border using brown. I'm very happy with how it turned out if I do say so myself. Check out the artful folding. I'm trying to be more creative in my photography so all my quilts don't look like they are ready for a line-up.

The promised snow never did materialize, but we got definite precipitation in the cold range. Maybe hail or sleet, some of which was falling slow enough that it might have been called snow by some. The kids were pretty excited about it. This is Sydney going out to catch some ice in her umbrella. It melted pretty quick, but it was a definite solid before that.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Sage Blossom and Spoons

Ryan talked to his teacher today and she mentioned that she heard a crazy story about how to make it snow. We have a chance of snow in the morning that has everyone talking. Snow and palm trees just don't go together. So she said that if you put a spoon under your pillow and flush one ice cube down the toilet for each family member it will snow. So before bed tonight everyone grabbed a spoon and an ice cube. We'll see if anything happens in the morning. After they were nestled all snug in their beds I pulled out Sage Blossom and got it all quilted up. I still need to do the border and the binding, but it should be ready to go for the baby shower on Sunday. I should remember to do a label this time. I'm really bad about labels.
I'm so happy for it to be Friday. With a teacher workday to start the week, it was a nice way to ease back into the school year. Next week is a full five days, but then it is Martin Luther King day, so there will be another little break. Speaking of which, I had gotten it into my head that I should work on arranging a virtual quilt marathon on the three day weekend. I had little plans for giveaways and challenges spiraling through my head. Then I logged onto Judy Laguardia's site and saw that she already has one in the works. Who else wants to sew themselves silly starting on January 16? I'm already starting to make a list and check it twice, how about you?

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

BOM #2

It is SOOO cold here. Not a good day to be outside at all. There was actually frost on the windshield of the car this morning. Frost! I know some of you are used to the bitter cold, but we don't even own ice scrapers down here, we just aren't equipped. It is such a hardship every few years when we have to turn on the heat for a few days. Obviously it was a perfect evening to stay in the cozy warmth of a nicely heated house and quilt a little.
I decided to work on Amy's BOM block number 2, and am quite pleased with the way it turned out. I could easily do a whole quilt with this pattern. Isn't it cool how the little four patch shows up in the middle? I made one small modification to the directions and replaced two adjacent squares in the same color with a rectangle. It eliminated a seam and helped it lay a little nicer I think. The directions were quite clear though, and I managed to do this one without having to unsew a single mistake.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Girl Scout Happy Blocks

Tonight was Girl Scouts. I had them try out the happy block pattern that I am planning to organize as a charity quilting project. It has been on the back burner for a while now, but I'd like to get the kits out there to other troops so that they can work on them in their own time. The girls are doing fairly well with the sewing these days. They remember more each time about how to put the pieces together and then orient them in the machine. It is always interesting to see what the parts are that give them issues. I just kept saying, "jelly side together", "match the edges", and of course, "don't sew your fingers". With three machines and 8 girls we finished 20 blocks in an hour and 15 minutes. That should be about right for a typical troop to do in a single meeting.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Third Time's a Charm

After a mind numbing day of accreditation and vertical teaming meetings I thought I deserved a little time playing with fabric. Lacking the backing fabric for the baby quilt, I thought I would whip up one of Amy's BOM's. Cut, sew, press, picture -- woops, the nine patches were flipped. How many times do you notice a mistake only when looking at the photo? No problem, rip, flip, stitch, press, picture.

Oops again, the bowtie blocks are headed different directions. Check the directions, rip, flip, stitch, grumble a little, look a the block this time.

Finally! Who knew such a simple block could go wrong in so many ways? Lesson learned, next time wake up from zombie like trance before trying something requiring thought.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Better with Borders?

I'm not sure if the borders help or not, but I went ahead and sewed the blocks together and used the rest of the brown around the edges. I'd better head to bed now though, because it is back to work bright and early tomorrow. I'll need to find something to use on the back tomorrow, but I think I still have enough green thread left from Sister's Choice, so that shouldn't be a problem.

Tried Something Different

After a little research into the registry for the baby shower I discovered that the nursery is to be sage and brown, not teal and brown as I had thought. Having already shopped for the fabric, I decided to pull from my stash for sage green to use with the brown. The last pineapple blossom I did had a consistent background, and I'm starting to see the value in that. I tried another version with green and brown on a cream background, but this green on a brown background won the votes around here. I am not fond of the contrast personally, but I'll sleep on it I think before I go back to the drawing board. There is too much variation in both greens and browns to be able to see the pattern clearly. I get so stressed about making gifts for people. Maybe I should have stuck with the nine patches instea? Still, despite the end result, it was lovely to spend a whole day sewing. Most of the morning was spent finishing up Sock Monkeys. It just needs binding to be done completely and then I'll get a picture for posterity.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

New Quilt

I have an invitation to a baby shower. I think it is next weekend although the card is at school. I think the colors are brown and teal, it is going to be a boy. The girls and I went out this morning to see The Frog Princess and stopped by the fabric store on the way home. I had been thinking about doing a simple nine patch on point with some prairie points around the edges. After seing Amy's post this morning I might have switched to a pineapple blossom instead. I never get tired of doing that pattern even though I don't usually do the same pattern more than once. The colors are all a little matchy matchy for me, but It is a gift after all, and they might not share my love of all things scrappy.
Between movies and shopping trips I got the last two sections of sock monkeys basted and am just about done with the quilting. I should be able to get that bound tomorrow and then start cutting up the brown and teal.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Odds and Ends

I started the morning piecing a back for Double Delight. I had extra blue from the border, and then started adding in whatever seemed big enough or matched the colors from the front. I cut out the binding as well and then nicely folded it all together for whenever quilting inspiration strikes. After hanging it neatly in the closet, I went to put away some fabric and found a huge piece of pink that I bought to be used for the back -- I hate it when I do that.
Then I spent a good deal of time puttering around the sewing room -- putting things away and organizing a bit. I pulled out Starlight and considered working on the borders, but ended up working on Happy Sock Monkey instead. The four quadrants have been waiting patiently for me to work up the courage to try quilting in sections. I've tried it before with connecting strips on the back, but this time I just trimmed the two back pieces an extra quarter of an inch beyond the edge of the top and turned one side under. I hand stitched that down and then finished the quilting. It seems to have worked out pretty well. It certainly was easier to push the small sections through the machine than an entire top.
I've got two sections done now, so that is half of a twin quilt. I'm not sure if I'm going to layer the next two sections or call it a night. I'm just about out of batting, so anything I do will require some puzzling together of leftovers. I guess I should check the Joann flier on Sunday and see if they are having a big sale right now. Last year they had great prices on batting about this time and I have just come to the end my stash from that.
I hope everyone else had a productive first day of 2010. I'm off now to see what everyone is up to.

Goals for 2010

I've happily signed myself up for Nancy's UFO a month challenge again this year. I've gone ahead and put a list into the margin. I resisted the urge to add in the HSY (haven't started yets) although I am sure they will work their way in as well. So here is a list of the new projects I am pondering doing this year. I'm sure I won't get to them all, but it is fun to think about.

1. Storm at Sea -- A kit that I haven't started yet.
2. Shoot for the Moon -- Anna wants a new quilt for her room
3. Daisy Chain -- This is another kit that was on sale
4. Southern Stars - A Block of the Month from Connecting Threads
5. Wonky Logs - With leftovers from Welcome
6. Shirtails and Strings -- a collection of crumbs and strings that could be a quilt someday

Review of 2009

2009 started out well on the quilting front with a plan to complete a UFO every month. That went well until school started again in August and a new busier schedule sabotaged those plans. Still, progress was good and several longtime loungers were crossed off the list.

A few new projects snuck their way in as well, with a ginourmous Sister's Choice being the most substantial finish for the year. I'm not quite up to Amy standards as far as numbers of finishes, but it seems like enough to me.

In roughly chronological order, for my own enjoyment more than anyone else, here is the list for 2009:
1. Old Hurricane Road -- January UFO based on Bonnie Hunters Old Tobacco Road Mystery Quilt along graces the daybed in the guest bedroom.
2. Yes We Can -- Inauguration quilt, takes turns hanging in the foyer
3. Happy Chains -- February UFO done as leaders and enders using 2 inch blocks, given away to a shelter for women and children through the Girl Scouts.
4. Buttons and Bowties - March UFO also given away to charity through the Girl Scouts
5. Pineapple Brights, AKA The Welcome Quilt -- Not really a UFO, but finished as my April project over spring break, takes turns hanging seasonally in the foyer.
6. Things Quilters Say -- May UFO built around a preprinted panel of quilters sayings, hangs above my sewing table in the guest bedroom.
7. 9 Patch Doll Quilt - made to practice scalloped borders for the welcome quilt, being used for dolls.
8. Doll sleeping bags -- 5 sleeping bags given as party favors for Anna's sleepover party.
9. Teatime Sampler - a self designed project based on a fat quarter bundle from Christmas 2 years ago, given to my niece Paige who let the dog lie on it.
10. BOM Samler -- a star based BOM from several years ago that was beyond my ability level at the time. Linking blocks were added along with borders to turn it into Twilight, my favorite snuggle quilt in a last minute frenzy of quilting before school started again.
11. Organizer boxes for my classroom at school together with a curtain, bulletin board covers and binder covers.
12. An i phone cover that got lost the next day.
13. Two dust ruffles, one for Anna and one for my niece Paige.
14. A Kimono for Anna's Holiday's Around the World celebration at school.
15. Sister's Choice - 110 by 110 bedspread for the guest bedroom in Mom's new house. Given as a Christmas gift.

Now, I'm off to start adding things to the list for 2010