Tuesday, October 27, 2009

I'm Learning Greek

Maple Star block on the right
Federal Square block on the top

This month's feature fabric is the red, best seen in the Maple Star block and small, outer squares of the Federal Square block.

Blocks 5 and 6 of the BOMs I making as part of the Ladies Friendship group at Ye Olde Schoolhouse. I just love the fabric I used as the main squares of the Federal Square block even though it wasn't the feature fabric of the month.
Jeannie promised that these 2 blocks would be easier than the last 4 blocks from hell - and she was right - or else I am slowly learning to read ancient Greek quilt patterns! I finished one an evening. I still can't figure out where she is getting the patterns from, but that's OK.

I laid out the 6 blocks I have completed thus far. Ha! Mine should be a very interesting quilt! No rhyme or reason to it. Maybe when I get the next 18 blocks completed it will all come together. In the mean time, this month it was fun to do. Let's hope November's blocks are as easy as these two!

China Dishes

Look at little Gracie peeking out from beneath the quilt. Lucy was behind it with me! Wait! on closer inspection (double click on picture) it is Lucy Lou's head (and tail) peeking out. Silly dogs.

My china dishes quilt is completed and what an ordeal! First let me say that I do love this little quilt. The colors are fabulous. And, anyone who know me would say this is the perfect quilt for me - all the beautiful blue and white fabrics.
But, while I completely enjoyed making this quilt, I screwed up royally! Look carefully at the edge "plates" on the completed quilt. Then look carefully at the edge "plates" on the pictures below.

Notice the "plates" reversed. Yup, all 8 edge plates were sewn backwards. I didn't notice this until I took it off my dining room table and draped it over the couch so I could admire it while I made a phone call to my sister, Suzanne. Yup, I had one small border on all 4 sides and a larger border on 3 sides that had to be removed before I could reverse the plates. Rip, rip, rip, rip, rip. Actually, I surprised myself. I didn't yell or scream in frustration. Amazing - no curse words either. I actually laughed about it. I just put the quilt aside for a number of days and then tackled the job of fixing the "plate" position. And, it went very quickly.

I need a design wall!
The pieced 3rd border is another story and give me trouble and didn't come out well at all. By this time however, I was "over it" and just wanted the darn quilt done. Ahhh - the galloping horse method of quilting.

The backing is washed and and waiting to be ironed, trimmed, squared sewn together and then it is off to Mary to be quilted. Should be done tonight.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Changes are A-Coming

For many months now I have started to feel a shift coming in my life. I've basically been hibernating for well over a year. I realized I have cut myself off from friends and have stayed focused on being at home, my dogs, my relationship and quilting. While I probably needed to do this for many reasons, it is time to dig deep, think about what I truly want, what is good for me and to start the crawl out of my cave. Now that I will be retiring in 10 months, this is even more true and important. My sister, Suzanne, who retired 10 years ago, has aways said that when you retire you need to almost reinvent yourself because your life changes so much. And, it is time I regroup, hang on, let go and take stock in my life. I have let important things slip. My spirituality has suffered. I've put on over 25 pounds. I've lost touch with friends.

Yet, wonderful things are going on, too. Fun things I enjoy and look forward to. I recognize that I have a lot of blessing in my life and am very grateful. I don't feel terribly depressed or in angst, but rather adrift and in need of grounding.
The other day I took the long way home from work. I drove along Lake Michigan. It was another rainy, dreary day. The lake was all different shades of gray and white. The waves, while it was not terribly windy outside, were huge. I was mesmerized. If I hadn't had to get home to let the dogs out I would have pulled into one of the lakefront parking lots and sat there for a while. Maybe because I felt like those waves. Gray, turbulent, pounding on the surf only to be pulled out and pound again. Maybe because I realized that the lake will once again be sparkling blue and calm. And, so will I. This is part of the ebb and flow of nature, on which I based my deepest spirituality on.

Over the course of the next few weeks I will be journaling, blog style, trying to figure things out for myself. Some of you readers have known me a long time. Some only through out quilting interests and for a few months. I would appreciate all of your input while I go through this process.

Life is a journey. I just need to figure out which path to take at this particular time.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Pumpkin Quest

Last Saturday my niece Pam and I took her daughter Shannon to the Elegant Farmer, which is located between Mukwonago & East Troy, Wisconsin. Basically, it is a large store known for its apple pies baked in paper bags. They are the best apple pies in the world! And, they have canned goods (I mean really canned goods), honeys, great deli stuff and wonderful pot pies. But, I digress.

The Elegant Farmer offers all types of family activities this time of the year, so it was very crowded. In fact, my gal pal, Terri, was there with her daughter and grandkids at basically the same time we were and we never saw them. You can take a tractor ride to pick your own pumpkins, kids can go on pony rides, make your own taffy apples, eat great food and shop. There are also trolley rides on an old time trolley. It was a fun experience to share with an almost 3 year old.

I love going there because I always purchase Sticky Fingers scone mixes. They make up into wonderful scones. They also have great canned cherries for pie filling. Ahh - there I go talking about food again.

Anyway, despite it being a cold and damp day, we had fun. Shannon got a pony ride, a ride on a wooden horse, she made her own taffy apple, we ate cherry brats and, of course, we bought pumpkins.

I had Shannon about an hour alone at my house. She fell asleep on my couch holding her Curious George stuffed toy and underneath my sampler quilt. Gracie curled up next to her. I forgot to snap a picture. It was adorable.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Look Familiar?

I made this lap quilt for my nephew, Patrick's, family. Pictured are Pam, Aaron, Patrick, and little Shannon. If the quilt looks familiar it is the same pattern I gave to my Aunt Virginia last month while I was in Colorado. The only difference is the backing material. This quilt was part of the mystery quilt group I participated in earlier this year. At first I thought I would make one large queen sized quilt, but then decided to make 2 lap size quilts and give them away. I had the recipients in mind already. I hope both Aunt Virginia and Patrick's family take a lot of good naps under these quilts!

And, just to show off sweet little Shannon, here she is with the holiday dress her Aunt Suzanne and I bought her. We have started a tradition of purchasing her holiday dress every year. She got it a little early this year. Truthfully, I was afraid I'd forget to give it to her as we bought it a year ago!

We tried to get Shannon to pretend she was sleeping, but she wasn't going to "nap" pretend or not! Here's the Halloween pillowcase I made for her.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Blue and White Forever!

Blue Danube plate with Broken Dishes fabrics. Yum!

I have always loved the mixture of blue and white, especially on fabric and dishes. My eye automatically is drawn to blue and white and I like a little yellow mixed in. Ever since I was a little girl, with the exception of a few years, I have had a blue and white bedroom. It's funny how certain things like this can call to you your whole life. Same thing regarding artwork with flowers and birds. If you look at the artwork in my house or little decorations, it is mostly flowers and birds.

Kitchen corner cabinet with display of my china. Close up of a vase

When I was 17 I started collecting Blue Danube china. For over 40 years I considered it my "good china." When my parents moved into a independent living facility years ago, Mom gave me her good china. It is dainty and elegant and I love using it. My poor blue and white dishes were backed in boxes for years. Just over 4 years ago I had my kitchen completely remodeled, down to the wall studs. I picked out white cabinets with tons of glass doors, grayish blue Corian counter tops and yellow walls with splashes of red in artwork. I decided life is too short to keep things for "good" and never use them, so I donated my old CorningWare dishes to Goodwill and brought out my beloved Blue Danube china, which I still am collecting.

Antique creamer & sugar bowl & Blue Danube Irish coffee set

Last December my sister, Suzanne, and I went up to Dalongah, GA to check out a quilt store. I found a little quilt kit entitled "China Dishes." It has all blue and white fabric. I love it. Now, I am finally getting around to piecing it. I think the fabrics are beautiful and am having fun working on it. Once all of the "dishes" are made, I will have to arrange them before sewing them together. I'm excited about doing that process. All these pretty blue and white fabrics.

I am very careful when I shop for fabric, though. I really try to pick out other colors, such as in my Friendship Star quilt. Otherwise, they would all be various shades of blue or purple with white, yellow and red. Same thing with decorating my home. Not a bad thing, but maybe a little too much of a good thing!

Monday, October 05, 2009

My Little Room

My sewing room is finally coming together and I just love it. Phil helped me hang a few things on the walls, which really warms up the room.

This iris wall hanging is nothing but a panel kit. I just put on the batting and backing and sewed all along the lines of the pre-printed quilting pattern, added the binding and it was done. I love the way it turned out. I added the 2 little dragon fly buttons, which I think finish it off perfectly.

My little lady is properly hung and not tacked to the book shelf.

This little sampler I bought at a grocery store in Coloma, MI about a year ago for under $5!! It pretty much sums up my spiritually in the simplest words.

I wish I had more room so that I no longer had to spread out on my dining room table, but it is just a few steps away. This is working out great!

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Tea Time Month Three

Here's the 3rd installment of the Tea Time block of the month. Again, I am not thrilled with the colors. It seems like there needs to be a "pop" of color and I don't think it is going to arrive. However, I am happy with the pattern.

Three more months to go and it will be finished. I am starting to get excited to see how it all turns out.

Thursday, October 01, 2009


Last fall, when I was taking my very first quilting class, I saw this 1840s reproduction fabric at Ye Olde Schoolhouse. After looking at it for several weeks, I decided to buy it and make a Friendship Star quilt. Since I really was a newbie and only had directions for one 12" block, Jeannie helped me figure out how much material I would need.
I finally started cutting the material last spring. I felt like I was cutting and sewing half square triangles forever. I cut and cut and cut. Then I sewed and sewed and sewed. Finally I was ready to piece all 72 squares.

I pieced in rows, eight across and nine down. I sewed the first row and stopped. Then I made enough blocks for 4 more rows and sewed them together. Four more rows to go or 36 more blocks. Then I stopped.

I finally gave myself a deadline of October 1st to finish. And, I made my deadline with 4 hours to spare!

It's not that I don't like this quilt, I really do. I love the nose gay fabric and the red stars. I think my problem was that I had/have too many other quilts going on. Lately I have been enjoying the fast gratification of adding borders to panels and having them quilted. They are fast to sew and fast to bind.

I have a lot of things I want to get done this month. One is to start a Broken Dishes wall hanging quilt. It is a kit I bought last December in Georgia. It is next in my ever increasing line of quilting projects. After that it is a lap quilt. So, it will probably be well after the holidays before I start another queen size quilt. By that time this Friendship Star quilt should be back from being quilted by Meandering Mary.

I like having several things going on at one time - in different stages, but too many can be overwhelming, which is what happened with the start and stop process of this quilt. Plus, it was the same pattern, block after block. I am starting to enjoy a little more challenge in my quilts. It's done now and I am happy!