Thursday, January 25, 2007

This and that

I am going a bit crazy trying to get packed to go out of town for a few days. It seems as if I am trying to put everything into two small bags. Half of what I am hauling I am sure I will never touch until I am home unpacking again.

One of the projectrs coming along is the large hexagon top. I'm trying to decide on what to do to finish this one off...believe it or not I am getting tired of hex's!

The sampler class is going well. We did the first block this week. In the end I will have two sampler quilts - one cowgirl and one roses. The cowgirl one is going to my niece in New Mexico. Not sure what will happen with the roses. They are cutting into the stash though which should make the move back to the states in a couple of years a bit easier! (back to packing again...I think my brain is finally focused on something....)

It has been really cold the last few days but the sun has finally started to stay around a bit longer. Brownie found the brightest spot in the house and claimed it for her own. Sun and some soft quilt blocks and she is one happy cat!

Monday, January 22, 2007

Focus, Focus...hey look at that

I have so many projects started it is even starting to bother me! Last week I pulled out some tops I had finished and started piecing backings. I finished the backing on the right for my nephew's quilt and have three others in various stages. The problem with this project is I end up spending way too much time in the quilt room rummaging through piles of fabric and coming up with ideas of new projects. Say, string piecing perhaps? I pulled a large basketful of fabrics that I no longer thought I would use and cut them into strips and have now made twelve 10-1/2 inch blocks. That was while I was supposed to be piecing backs!

Focus, Focus....Before I was supposed to be doing the backs I was working on a sampler quilt for a class. The cowboy Desden Plate in the photo is the newest addition to the group. I have twelve blocks finished, but now do not like 2 of them (too dull) I redo or just make more strip blocks or backings. Oh ya....I also got into making a small quilt to using the block from the first class (this Wednesday.) I was making great progress until Brownie (see post 2 below) decided to "help" so I rolled the whole thing up. and hid it under the sewing table.

Focus, Focus...I started to lay out the string blocks this weekend so I would get them done and then I could get back to the backings but my leg started bothering me again so I snuggled up on the couch and played in the hexagon bag instead...before you know it there is half a quilt there. This will need a back soon....maybe I should go play in the fabric stacks for awhile. There is the great lighthouse fabric that would make a great border for an Around-the-world that I've always wanted to try....and what do yo know I found the 3/4 finished blue log cabin that only needs the a few hours work to pull it together.

Focus, Focus...what was I planning on working on? Why is it I never finish anything?

Friday, January 19, 2007

Day after the storm

Just a few moments after I posted yesterday we lost power due to the wind storm. We didn't get it back until almost 24 hours later! Yikes. Not too much damage at our house...a broken lamp and some scratches on the front door when a broken branch blew up against the house and part of the roof blew loose on the garden shed. There are several trees down in the village. The ground was so wet they just blew over.

It is amazing how different today is...bright, sort of warm, and just a slight breeze. The two days couldn't be more different. I did check on the flowers emerging in the garden and they all came through the storm OK.

I spent most of yesterday cutting up strips of fabric in the kitchen. (It has the best natural light and the island counter is so comfortable.) I filled two baskets - one with brights (in the photo above) and the other with traditional fabric. This morning (when the power came on!) I strip pieced some of the traditional. It moves along very fast. I think I prefer using paper as the foundation rather than fabric. I have piles of packing paper in the garage that I may cut up...another blackout is needed for that project!

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Backwards Day

Just after I posted yesterday I grabbed the puzzle block to put in with the other cowgirl blocks and stopped dead in my tracks...yes Calico Cat there is a block turned in the wrong direction! I haven't decided if I'm going to pull it out and restitch yet.

I'm blaming it all on my cat Brownie. She has turned into an evil quilting cat this week. After spending an hour setting up all my thread on a new shelf I went to get my camera to take a photo of it (if I do say so myself it looked great!) No, decided Brownie, there can't be anything as cute as me in the house. I walked into my sewing room just in time to see her batting the last spool onto the floor. I'm still waiting for the glue to dry on the wooden spool rack that broke in the fall. Maybe it is just the camera she is jealous of...when I tried to get a photo of some Amish blocks you see what happened. She like to run across the room and dive into the blocks so she can use them as a sled and slide across the carpet. It is my own fault for not using my design wall but the wall is full at the moment and this was just supposed to be a quick project (are there quick projects with cats?)

The wind is so strong today it blew my baseball cap 20 feet up and is now caught in a tree branch along the walking path! It reminds me of when I worked at a TV station and the weatherman would try and think of silly ways to demonstate how strong the wind was by dropping different objects and measuring how far they blew, how heavy the rain is by putting pails out on the roof, how hot is was by either "frying" an egg on the pavement or leaving a Vidio on a case inside a car and showing how it "melts." Those were some slow news days!!

I did go out and cover the flowers that are coming up with some leaves to help protect them. Most of what is coming up are small and under other vegetation so already are protected. We have a lot of these little white flowers in the photo on the left. I think they are snowdrops but not sure. I love their shape and white sort of glows in the morning. )Yike, I just looked outside and it has started to pour...Anne is right, it is going sideways!)

I was going into town today but with the weather it seems like a good day to stay in and sew. Like I need an excuse!

I have one last blackberry and apple pie in the freezer and a container of Tikka Marsala sauce that I made en-mass over Christmas so if I can just get the chicken to defrost dinner is basiclly covered. I'm just going to "hunker down" and sew out the storm!

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

First signs of spring

This morning I found a flower blooming in our was so nice to see some color after all the rain. Looks like there is a chance we may even glimpse the sun today!

Yesterday I was really worn out so I did some mindless organizing in the sewing room. There's nothing like folding fabric and lining up spools of thread when you barely have the energy to pick up your cup of coffee. (for me that is saying alot!)

My big achievement however was to pull fabric to piece backings for three of my quilt tops! I knew I had some in there that would work and with just a little persistance and a few seams I am both one step closer to finishing these quilts and did some significant stashbusting! I estimate I used about 9 yards of fabric to but them together. I need to put in an order for some batting now and resist the temptation to buy more fabric while I do it! I may get really ambitious and cut some binding too.

I finished another of the cowgirl blocks. This one is called bachelor's puzzle. I've decided to alternate dark and light blocks and not do a sashing. At least that is the plan for now.

I've also started a small quilt using the blocks we are doing in the first class. I'm using Amish fabrics which have been in my stash for at least 10 years! Some even longer. I was looking at the first Amish Style Quilt that I made and was amazed when I read the label - 1987! Twenty years! Amazing. Some of the fabric I'm using now may even have been scraps from that quilt. The good thing about solids is they never really go out of style!

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Long weekend

Boy was I surprised to see Quilt Mavericks mentioned in a recent article in British Patchwork Quilting January Issue! One of the women in my quilt group loaned me the magazine last week and I just got around to reading it last night. There is a very good article by Helen Conway on Quilter's Blogs and in a sidebar she lists five quilting blog rings including Artful Quiltiers, Quilters who embellish, Quilters Lounge, Stash quilts, and Quilt Mavericks!

I think I really overdid it this weekend....too much fun and I am paying for it! Saturday my DH went out golfing so I took over the Kitchen counter to cut fabric for the sampler block demos. I cut fabric for 15 blocks! I had printed out the directions on Friday so now I have a binder ready to go for weeks. I have 9 of the blocks made up in cowgirl fabrics too. I also made Kung Pao Chicken so he wouldn't complain about the kitchen becoming a quilting room too!

Sunday we drove up to Broadway again...or should I say he drove my car to Broadway. Very scarey! He brought his car over from the US and so has not made the transition to having the steering wheel on the right side of the car. He wanted to take another shot at it and we thought a Sunday morning may be the safest for all concerned...everyone but me. By the time we got to the village I was a white-knuckled wreck! The worst part was how the car would bump when he went off the road (I'll leave off how many times that happened!) It was torture on my leg! On the way home we got caught in a Cotswold traffic jam - a road full of sheep! At that point he gave up and let me drive the rest of the way home.

On Monday I went on a coach/bus trip with the Anglo American Women's group to Stoke-on-Trent. The town has dozens of Pottery/China outlets. It was incrediably organized and exhausting! It was about a two hour drive to our first stop - Burleigh. I never would have found this on my own - tiny sidestreets and almost invisiable signs - but this ended up being my favorite shop. (lucky for my bank account I didn't know that then!) The pink mug, pitcher and blue cow creamer all came from that stop. I got a few more of the pink mugs in diffent patterns for one of my sisters. I may have bought more but we only had 20 minute at this stop...and they were serious about keeping on schedule - the train system could learn from these women! The coach drove about 10 minutes then stopped at the Dudson Outlet. I was better there and only came away with a postcard and 30 pence plate (the brown one in the photo!) Again this was a 20 minute stop and we were quickly off to the Royal Doulton factory shop for yes, another 20 minute stop! I was starting to need caffine...that may have influenced my picking up the white teapot.

They said there was enough time to eat your bag lunch before the next stop but they must eat faster in this country because I only got half a sanwich and two sips of juice in before we pulled into the next outlet. I bearly remember that one - I went straight to the coffee shop with the bus driver...fading fast! The next stop was in the town. There is a huge Spode outlet with several other outlets and a museum. We had one hour and 15 minutes there. Still caffine deprived and without enough energy to finish my sandwich I had lost the ability to make a decision. I love spode but wandered around aimlessly and left without anything in my hand! We walked up the street to the Portmeirion shop. I was starting to panic...the boot of the bus was starting to fill up with boxes and stuff fit into the overhead compartment! Obviously I wasn't trained for this! I grabbed the jar with lilacs on it for my Mom. Panic shopping.

There was one more stop at a place that had 3 shops...vague memories. They opened up a few bottles of wine, some cheese and chocolate and passed them around as we drove back home. I'm glad I went even though I can barely walk this morning. I think I'd like to do it a bit less frantic pace (maybe just do the Burleigh and the Spode then "tuck-in' for a good lunch somewhere!

So today I will spend clearing my fabric out of the kitchen again and maybe making a few more cowgirl blocks...

Saturday, January 13, 2007

More cowgirl blocks

I finished a few more blocks for the cowgirl sampler quilt. It feels funny doing such large blocks - 12 inches! The group is mainly beginners so I am trying to keep it easy. I did realize after doing the color confidence class with them that I should try and limit the number of fabrics I was using...that is tough for me! So after being careful with the these four and getting a bit frustrated I have decided the cowgirl quilt could have lots of fabric (yahoo!) and instead the blocks I do as demo's in class will be limited to only 7-9 fabrics. I hope it doesn't confuse the group too much.

The log cabin on point block has some of the fabrics I will use for the demo quilt. They have been maturing in my stash for quite a while...always thought I would get around to doing an antique rose quilt. Some of these fabrics are in that middle ground - too much of it to just use as a scrap or filler and not quite enough to use as part of a backing. I wasn't able to sew much today...sitting is just too instead I cut fabric and put together packs for the first 8 blocks. Unbelievable for me - one of the original last minute quilters!

The leg pain is still pretty bad. I went online to find out if there was anything else I could do and the advice on the MD Website was to stop wearing tight clothing, lighten the toolbelt, and lose weight. So I guess no more spandex and big leather carpenter belt around the house anymore! Seriously though - my DH describes my clothing style as "Amish" I'm not sure how much looser it could get and stay on! I don't wear belts or backpacks. Unfortunately that leaves lose weight. I think in the second year of medical school the baby-docs are told if you can't cure them then just tell them to lose weight. So as I have been re-examining my New Year's resolutions (ya, I know it is almost halfway through January...) I've put weight loss back onto the list. So I guess I am on a fabric and food diet for the next few months. The question is how to make this fun?!

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Cowgirl sampler

Sorry I have been bad about posting. I've had a bad case of Meralgia paresthetica...which is quilt literally a pain in the butt! I can't sit in one position for more than a few minutes before the burning in my lef and "hip" muscles becomes unbearable which makes doing anything on the computer tough! The option is to take lots of pain-killers (which I hate to do!) or tough it out (stiff upper lip and all that!) I'm finding a happy medium between the two.

I have been working on a new sampler quilt as teaching aide for the new quilt group. The phto on the left has four of the blocks. Our first block is going to be the London Stairs (lower right) and the the variation (the one with the cowgirl in the center.) I've tried to find blocks that have something to do with England. A bit of a challenge. The project will keep me on a schedule though and hopefully I will finish it! There will be a total of 25 blocks which at this moment feels like a lot.

Winds and flooding around our area the past couple of days have been bad. The cats are being very needy and are battling for the warm spot in the hallway in front of the radiator. I'm hoping it clears out by the weekend so we can get out and do some sightseeing again.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Happy New Year!

I thought about writing out a list of New Year's resolutions but then I realized that my list was the same for the past five years...lose weight, exercise, get financials in order, take a class, finish more projects...almost verbatium! So I'm, going to take a bit more time and make sure that none of them are repeats!

The big ball hanging from the tree in the photo is mistletoe! Since the leaves have fallen you can see big balls of it high in the trees around our house. It finally dawned on me where the "kissing balls" came from that I used to make back home. (If you look closely you can see the sheep too!) We are going to walk up the village hill today. We are so relieved to see sunshine we have to get out of the house. This morning I saw the two peacocks in our neighborhood. Their feathers have all grown in and they look beautiful! They make a horrible sound though.

I've started to work on the sampler quilt for my quilt group. I looked for quilt blocks that has something to do with England. Our first is Roman Pavement. I'll have photos in my next post. My camera is acting up again...I think the battery isn't sitting correctly.