Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Class Day with Karen Combs

After all my whining about packing up the stuff for quilt class I can honestly say now that I am glad that I did it...take the class not all the whining.

The class was with Karen Combs and it was on Patchwork Illusions. We did a dimensional box shape. This isn't the type of piecing I usually do I know, but sometimes when you go outside your comfort zone you learn techniques that help with your regular fabric or piecing styles. This class definitely did that for me.

First, to get the illusion there are some specific ways of selecting fabric. There is the obvious - light, medium and dark. The one that was real challenge for me was to make them similar in texture. Yikes. I am a high texture scrapquilter....you want me to put fabrics that are similar in the same block! My brain cells were screaming heresy! But ya know for this method - she knows what she is talking about!

I am thinking that this approach may also work in applique (we are the guild that "forces you to applique." inside joke there!) Like my piecework when I applique I tend to use a lot of different patterns - like 20-30 different greens for leaves. I really work on keeping them varied. I wonder what would happen if I used her approach on the leaves - less vaiation texture but still lots of color variation. It could give the piece more depth. I may play with that on my next applique.

Susan also had some original (at least we hadn't heard them before!) techniques for working with the bias and the parallelograms. She works at a good pace and allows gossip and snack time without losing control of the class. The big bonus on this class - the quilts using this block look very difficult but after the class you find yourself saying "so that is the illusion - this isn't very hard at all!"

So it was a creative shot in the arm and a fun low stress day playing with blocks. I may make a half dozen more of the blocks to make a wallhanging or something...stay tuned. (by the way my the purple and pink on the lower right of the design board is my block...I finished two blocks in class - whooo hooo!)

And for those curious folks out there...I ended up making a Peach Brandy Poundcake and picked up some fresh strawberries for dessert. It was a good thing too. As you get older it is more difficult to flirt your way out of a speeding ticket (not that I would ever have tried that!) but I have found a new method of sweettalking our men in blue. Drive around with a home made cake in the front seat of the car...I'm sure he told dispatch it was just some little old lady with a handicapped plate so he didn't ticket her. I hope he just made sure to brush the crumbs off the uniform so there wasn't any evidence!

Monday, March 30, 2009

After only three weekend of work...finally all the weeds are out of the front beds. This morning I hired a man to do the rest of the gardening and lawn stuff. At the rate I've been going I'd miss this year's growing season by a long shot!

Right now I am frantically getting ready for a class tomorrow. What was I thinking when I signed up for this? Lots of little pieces...pulling fabric from my recently tamed stash...rummaging for those 6 inch rulers that I know I have (but am thinking I may just use the 40% off coupon and buy one at the store's well organized notion wall....this friends is how I ended up with multiples of almost everything!) I had signed up to make a dessert for lunch...I can still do that...duhh, I have a quilt bee tonight and promised to bring the show flyers. I can still do it, right?
Some photos of a nearby town - Aiken, South Carolina. It has a very cute downtown with a couple of fun antique stores. There are lots of horse loving folks around here so they did these painted horse sculptors for the downtown.
And who needs to lock the doors when you have Fido here guarding the truck! Think Mac would ever do that for me?...not!

I did find one quilt but not at the price that had on the tag. I am getting much pickier about conditon than I used to be. I did however sketch the pattern when I got home...you may see more on this later. Now however, I have to finish the class foraging, wait for a call from the doc, see if I can get into the next digital photography class, update our financial stuff for my DH and our first Saturday sit-down, and finally bake that d@#%! cake. (Do you think they would notice if it came from a bakery?)

Sorry so little quilty stuff...promise lots tomorrow night!

Friday, March 27, 2009

A play day....

Plans for today are all pretty much gone by the wayside...it is raining so I can't work in the garden, the windshield wipers on my new car will not turn on so I can't drive anywhere, and the dishwasher leaked water on the kitchen floor this morning so I am now waiting for the repair guy. Good new though - the coffee pot is working just fine.
I played with a new photo editing software this morning. It is called Picnic. It is very fun but be prepared to spend a lot of time playing when you go on it! I took a photo of Brownie and turned it into a pencil sketch. Ya, it is cheating a bit but only if I say I sketched it! I'm just as proud I could figure out the program!This is the original photo of Brownie laying claim to the guest bedroom. First I sharpened the entire photo, then I blurred only the background, then finally, I selected the pencil sketch. Then obviously I did a bit of cropping.

So next step...how could I use this for my quilting? At one point I tried drawing the ink pictures and signatures for my Baltimore album blocks. They didn't come out great. Maybe I could do the pencil technique and ink over it? Or if I printed on a very high quality maybe that would look enough like old ink to call it a day...stay tuned.....

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

bonus quilt....

I'm having to lay low for a few days and try and get well....duh, I hate that! You can see Macbeth isn't so happy about it either....

So I have been "putzing" around the almost finished piles in the closet. Eyes aren't good enough for applique right now so those are relegated to the darkest corners. I don't want to mess with the tiny, tiny blocks in my Tobacco Road (which may become Cotton Row since I live in Georgia and not North Carolina...it reminds me of the fields I drive through when I visit friends down in Savannah.) Finally I found a box I could play with...OK, it is another Bonnie project.
I think she suggested this project for New Year's Day but as so many things...I started late. (Is there a word for a late blooming quilter?...) The pattern is called the strip twist...(an act I can only do in quilting!) For months now I have been using my 2-1/2 inch strips as leader and enders and built up a large basket of the strip twist blocks. A lot of blocks! Enough for me to finally put together a quilt for my 6 foot 5 inch brother....yikes.

On another crafty front...I finished my funky spice cabinet! I used a primer that makes anything magnetic. Very fun. One note if you ever use this it takes more coats than the label says and they are not kidding when they say to stir the paint often!
I like how the front came out with all my bottle caps stuck around the edge and with some bottlecap magnets! Best of all it makes getting to the spices soooo much easier!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Setting the record straight

I seem to have misled some of you in regards to the state of my sewing room. One comment reads that she is impressed how well organized and neat my sewing room is...yikes, I snorted my coffee and nearly chocked on my bagel! Neat and organized? I ran down the hall to check...maybe I had a visit by the sewing elves? Nope. There are still projects on the floor and opening the door of the closet would reveal several OSHA violations....So I went back to the computer and checked my blog. Uhmmm, it comes down to the wonders of technology.
You don't think I would post messy photos do you? I am doing better though.

A few years ago when I was first diagnosed with MS we had a social worker/home safety inspector come by the house. I knew we were in trouble the moment he stepped over the threshold and tripped over Macbeth. Muttering something about troublesome little dogs, he readjusted his glasses, took a pen out of his pocket protector and made copious notes on his big clipboard. Two steps into the hallway he shook his head, "get rid of the area rugs - all of them." (Why did he look at the cats while he said that?) There were lots of suggestions: Lower the bed, handrails in the bathroom, rearrange the plates in the cabinets to make them easier to reach, get a larger screen for the computer, widen the door to the bathroom, ditch the rocking chair, put all breakables above shoulder height and on stable tables, nightlights, a bit of relective tape on the lightswitches....and this was only half the house!

I was distracted when he reached my sewing room. Herding the cats to keep them from underfoot is not and easy job! (The more you dislike them the more they will torment you...they are cats...its their job. Back to the sewing room.) From the other end of the hall I saw the inspector enter my sewing room and for the first time since he arrived at the house - silence. When I got to the door I saw him standing in middle of the room, glasses in hand and clipboard clutched to his chest. Slowly he made a right face, then again, and again until he had done a 360 degree turn. He took a deep breath. "First, you need a path."

"Over there is my reproduction fabrics with my antique quilt stuff in the closet...my art materials are a bit messy since I was working on my journal quilt this week...and the bags are usually on top of the cabinet but I had a class...and," I was babbling. He put his hand over my mouth. I don't care what you say Mam", he said while he put his glasses back on the end of his nose and nudging aside a large plastic box of 2-1/2 inch strips, "you need a space to walk in here." Ah, that kind of path...here I was getting all arty and inspirational on him. In the end his path was harder to achieve.

Let's face it our sewing rooms can be danger zones. Fabric left on the carpet - you could slip and break your neck. You can do so many bad things with a hot iron - fabric can catch fire, you can burn your fingers making bias tape, and a hot iron full of water falling flat on your bare foot is just Gitmo-like. There is a reason they do not allow rotary cutters on airplanes - this tool (not toy) may be the most dangerous item we use. Add in some wonky vision and bad balance and those bags of projects, stacks of magazine and leaning bookcases stacked with boxes of fabric. Heck why don't I just do a couple shots of vodka and walk through downtown Baltimore with some money hanging out my back pocket....dangerous, dangerous, dangerous.

So I have cleaned up my act somewhat. The bags and boxes are relagated to the closet. The bookecases are attached to the wall. My ironing board is also secured to the wall and there is a "leash" on the iron so if it does drop it doesn't hit the floor. (I got the pattern/idea from a book on making items for your sewing room.) There is still a lot more I could do...less bits of fabric around and better pin control but there is a path. The old geezer would be proud.

On to more about quilting...I have started Bonnie's Tobacco Road. I wanted to make it before but the mystery took place last fall while I was in the middle of my move. There was enough mystery there to take all of my energy without doing a mystery quilt as well! But I printed it out and periodically cruised the stash looking for fabrics. Orignially I wanted it to be a very constrained/controlled scrap quilt with the fabrics in the photo on the top of this post and some black and rust plaids. (Ya, like that is going to happen.) Anyway the contrast between the half square triangles and the bricks was too much so I added in some lighter plaid and blue bricks and used some darker neutrals in the HST's. I'm liking it better now. The 4-patch blocks are all greens and neutrals...somewhere around 50 greens so it still "reads" scrappy. There is a lot of variation in the bricks which creates interest even though it is a plain block. I think I'll go the whole way and make the flying geese as well for the border. I'm beginning to feel a bit like a Bonnie groupie! Her patterns work well with my stash...though I am making some real inroads in my neutrals.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Pajamas at noon

Well as you may have guessed reading my last post...I overdid it with the gardening, kitten care, and running errands. (Just because you know your limits doesn't mean you abide by them!) So today was a very quiet and lazy day. You know the walk the dog then go home and get back into your pajamas kind of day...

I did play in the sewing room a bit (check out all the neatly folded repro fabric in the photos!) and resolved a long standing eye-sore - my sewing chair. Now I did have a really nice ergonomic chair but it had rollers. I had it until the day I stood up too quickly. Grabbing the arm of the chair and I then went flying head first into the bookcase. Duhh! No more rolling chairs for me. Fortunately I had this chair that was part of an auction lot sitting in the spare-room. I was planning on getting rid of it but it was really comfortable. The chair is light but very stable. It has a wide seat and I am getting to the point in my life that a wide seat is a very important attribute. The big problem though - it was a pretty depressing looking chair.
So reupholstering this chair went onto the "to do" list. Now I like to reupholster but choosing the fabric for this sort of project takes almost as long as picking out a border - for those new to this space just think about how long it takes to lose say, 50 pounds...a long time!Slip-covering however - the lazy girl's redo! So I pulled out some of my favorite pattern making paper and made a quick pattern. Note: this is much easier without feline assistance.

Pin this pattern fabric/paper directly to the chair then cut it out. I double check that the pattern is even then cut it out of the fabric adding a seam allowance. I used fabric that I had out from making some bags for St. Pat's Day (which was left over from a St. Pat's tablecloth....) I put some buttons and tabs in the back to hold it in place.

In all it took less than an hour. I've cut out two other so I can change them out when they get too covered in cat hair...I may have gotten Brownie to stop sleeping on top of my sewing machine but the instant I stand up from this chair she claims it!

On the kitten front - I visited two of them this morning and they are doing fine. The two girls in the family have spent hours on the internet researching cat care and gave me a two cup of coffee lecuture on kitten care. The kittens are named Diamond and Topaz. (The third is named Spot...) All good.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Great Mailbox Day!

I've been off the grid the past few days...lots of appointments, lots of chores...and some new "house- guests." But first the fun news - my mailbox on Wednesday was a very fun place to be!
First I saw this selvage postcard from Mary at MaryQuilts - Making Scrap Quilts from Stash. I love fabric/art postcards! Second was a squishy...I waited until I poured a hot cup of tea and then let myself open it. Check out the wild Hawian keychain and fabric from Dionne! Oh, and don't forget the shell necklace! Friday is Hawiann shirt day where DH works...I may make a binder out of the lighter fabric for one of the gals he works with...she deserves it for putting up with him!

The weather here is relatively cool so I have been trying to get some of the gardening done. The renters barely took care of the lawn so I don't have to tell you how bad the gardens looked! It has been a bit fun doing some of the weeding and finding lots of new daylillies...they must have grown from seed becasue they are several feet away from the bed of daylillies. That is the main reason I am doing it myself. My DH would have just gone in there with a hoe and destroyed anything not immediately screaming "I am not a weed! It is slow going but there is progress. Here is photo of some of my daylillies I am trying to save...obviously the photo is from 4 years ago!Now, the house guest....Wednesday afternoon while walking MacBeth down near the river a pickup truck speed past us. When it was about 200 yards past us a hand came out the window and tossed a brown bag into the inlet. Now they just cleaned up the area to get ready for the Masters Golf tournament so I was doubly irked at them "littering." Mac however went wild! He did his little Houdini move, slipped out of his color and dashed to the spot they thew the bag. Picture this - me climbing down a Kudzo bank (for those non-southerners think ivy on steroids) trying to catch a 17 pound terrier on a mission. (A terrier who seems at that moment to have forgotten he cannot swim....)

Fortunately for MacBeth the mud slowed him down enough for me to get to him. And even with my heart beating like an old Chevy and my lungs wheezing like a steam engine I could hear the whimpers from the bag. Oh ya, with river sludge that went over my knees I waded to the bag that was only halfway submerged. It had 5 kittens in it. Three were still alive.

The next problem. I had Mac over one shoulder, the kittens stuffed into the pockets of my sweatshirt (kangaroo style) but couldn't get my legs out of the muck. I then heard a voice. It was an old gentleman that lives on the river...and when I say old I'm thinking he is pushing 90. Anyway, he threw me a rope...well, really the end of a garden hose...that he tied off to the mailbox on the corner. Very, very slowly I was able to climb out. Of course the police showed up when I was only about 2 feet from the top (have I mentioned we have the 'best dressed" police force")

So MacBeth's kittens came home in my pocket. Problem is I already have two cats and the only thing they agree on is that we should have no more cats. I keep the kittens in the guest bathroom safe from harm. Also, the house-guests are not quite weaned and have to be fed often...not a lot of sleep going on here. The little ones just have to whine for a second and MacBeth is howling to get into the bathroom to find out what is happening with his kittens. It was cute the first time...funny the second... 3 AM it isn't even remotely entertaining....Fortunately when I took them to the vets this morning a woman in the waiting room adopted one of them (the white one with a brown patch over one eye.) A neighbor has already spoken for the two greys and is picking them up today when she gets off from school. Which is really good since my DH comes home tonight from his business trip and doesn't know about the house guests....I sincerely doubt I will be able to stay awake until he gets home...

Monday, March 16, 2009

Happy St. Patrick's Day - Irish Bread

A day early I know but since this is a busy week on the calendar I figured now was better than never (a new mantra perhaps?) Also, I wanted to share a recipe for Irish bread. I happen to love Irish bread. All Irish bread - and believe me there are lots of different kinds. The day my Dad's photo was on the top of the Boston Globe obituary page I got a real lesson in just how many kinds of Irish bread there are in the world. My sister brought the first loaf - some brown bread - great with butter and a bit of smoked salmon. I'm not sure who put the next package on the table next to the front door - it was a light colored loaf more like a tea bread with just a few raisin in it and a glaze on it. After that they came thick and heavy: round, square, and loaf shaped; some the weight of footballs and others the weight of cement garden gnomes and everything in between. They had raisins, currents, caraway seeds, and/or candied fruit. One even had dried cranberries...we were in Massachusetts after all....

My nephew Johnathon took it upon himself to be the taste taster. After multiple cups of tea and lots of butter and jam he proclaimed Mrs. Riordan's loaf to be his favorite. (just slightly sweet with raisins and no seeds.) We told her at the funeral and she had to leave the viewing room - not the right place for such a big smile. And before you ask, no I don't have her recipe. I do have my favorite though. This makes a large round loaf that isn't too heavy but not too light....a Goldilocks loaf!

Irish Soda Bread
  • 4 cups all purpose flour
  • 3 Tablespoons sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 6 Tablespoons butter
  • 1-1/2 cups dark raisins
  • 1 Tablespoon caraway seeds
  • 2 eggs
  • 1-1/2 cups buttermilk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease well a 2-quart round oven proof casserole dish.

In a large bowl, mix the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and baking soda. With a pastry blender or 2 knives used scissors fashion cut in butter until mixture resembles course crumbs. Stir in raisins and caraway seeds. In a medium bowl, beat eggs slightly. Remove 1 tablespoon of egg and set aside. Stir buttermilk into eggs then add to flour and stir until flour is moistened. Dough will be sticky.

Turn dough onto a well-floured surface and with floured hands, kneed dough about 10 strokes. Shape dough into a ball and place in casserole dish. With a sharp knife cut a 4 inch cross about 1/4 inch deep across the center of the ball. brush dough lightly with reserved egg. Bake dough about 1 hour and 20 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean. The top will look done before the inside is cooked. cool on wire rack 10 minutes then remove bread from the dish and cool completely on rack.

Alternate directions: If you have a strong mixer, first add the dry ingredients and the butter, then add the egg and buttermilk. Kneed dough in the mixer for 2-3 minutes. Scrape the bowl and roll into a ball. Place in the casserole dish. With this method the caraway seeds are broken up very small so yo get the flavor without some of the "seediness." Now this makes a big loaf but it is great toasted the next day or even in a bread pudding. (With a bit of Irish Whiskey sauce over the top!)

Have a great St. Patrick's Day!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Camp Rainbow Quilt

Each the guild I belong to makes a donation quilt to raise money for Camp Rainbow. This year the quilt is called "Civil War Scrapbag." Camp Rainbow provides a summer camping experience for children with serious illnesses, primarily cancer.
Anyway, today we were allowed to set up a table at the annual home and garden show here in Augusta. Four hours on my feet and I was so tired. The good news - folks were very generous and we raised a lot of money for the camp.

Now we usually sell tickets at our quilt show, quilt guilds and the annual arts fair in town. This was a different crowd for us and we had a few observations. First, guys in Harley Davidson apparel buy lots of quilt tickets. Don't know why...is it they really love quilts? Need quilts after driving around on a cold rainy day like today? or when they hear "children with cancer" they just open their wallets. Nice guys all of them. Second, several young military kids just handed us a dollar and asked if they can just make a donation...they weren't sure where they would be in September when the quilt drawing is going to be held. With all the negative stuff that is on the news it just sort of made me feel good.

Just a quick photo of a little (6 inches by 6 inches) pillow my sister made for me. The fabric is from the sofa that was in my Parent's living room while I was growing up. This Christmas my Mom had it reupholstered. It is nice to have a little reminder of home. I'm using it on my dresser to hold some brooches.

Now, off for some more needed sleep!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Final MS Awareness Day

Everyone has been great about leaving comments and I have collected some great suggestions for making quilting a bit easier on the aching bod!

First, I had my PT guy pull the name for the fat quarters...drum roll...the fat quarters and airplane binder go to Sew Create it Jane over in England! (By the way he is very impressed how international quilt blogs are! He is from the Ukraine.)

Selecting the best suggestion became a PT office sport...the receptionist had a say, the other physical therapists put in thier two cents but in the end it was the "minkee" that swayed them. Subee Sews recommended making balls from minkee and using them to exercise hands while sewing and even filling them with things that can be microwaved so you can warm your hands. Having no idea what minkee is Mikey emailed me last night and I brought a piece with me to my appointment...he loves the stuff however he wants me to make several balls and not only use them to squeeze but to "juggle" making my arms move between quilting bouts. (he is a cute boy but juggle? what is he thinking...I'm lucky if I make it across the parking lot without dropping my handbag!)

Sorry for no photos (particularly since he looks a lot like Robert Conrad in Wild, Wild West...sigh)

Final MS Factoid: Across the country over 460,000 volunteers participate in event and support programs and service to help people with MS. (This includes Bonnie Hunter's DH who rides in the Bike MS each year.)

My Take on this: To every one of them...Thank you.

And a few more "making your sewing room a safer place."

1. Fix bookcases and cabinets to the wall using L brackets. Imagine standing at the bookcase full of fatquarters and suddenly losing your balance. Naturally you reach out and grab the bookcase. If that bookcase isn't attached to the wall there is a chance the bookcase, shelves and all the fabric would come tumbling over with your...now picture that bookcase full of books. Screwing those L brackets into the wall is one of the few handyman tasks my DH doesn't complain about doing for me.

2. Flourescent tape. This can be the strips or the cool little arrows from the office supply store. At risk of looking like a crime scene I have taped the danger zones in my room - corners of the desk (I hit that corner soooo many times I had a permanent bruise.) The little arrow are great for using on patterns to hightlight the important parts (like measurements) and on my cutting squares so I have a chance of finding 3-7/8 on a regular basis!

Now back to quilting world! The quilt at the top is a vintage quilt I purchaed back in the early 90's. I've made a bright version of it and found a batik version that only needs the corner squares and border put on. I'm adding it to my old list....so one off, one on. Not a great way to make progress but it is a way to get things done

Thursday, March 12, 2009

MS post Day 5 and quilt room progress

So by now ya'll have this figured out...if you comment you go in the drawing and if you comment with tips on how to make quilting easier you go in two drawings. For more details see earlier posts...Only one more day of MS Awareness...

MS Factoid #5: They don't really know what causes MS. They know what they can see - that the myelin, which is the protective covering surrounding the nerve fibers of the central nervous system is destroyed and replaced by scars of hardened "sclerotic" tissue. Why the myelin is being destroyed...not a clear answer yet. The thought process includes genetics, environmental, and viral...or some combination of the above.

My take on this: I am not a doctor but I am thinking c - all of the above is the most likely choice. My friend, who is a doctor, thinks that sometime in our lifetime they may find that there are multiple causes and that MS maybe broken into separate categories by cause. Right now it is sort of a market basket diagnosis. Makes sense. There are lots of studies going on and they are posted on the MS Society website. Recently a researcher in Italy may have found the gene linking MS patients. Another is looking at the increase in MS diagnosis among veterans who served in Iraq during Dessert Storm which they think may be environmental. And there is yet another one recently published with more data linking exposure to the Epstein Barr virus with MS. There is still a long road to go.... Anna, asked what do I do for the MS fatigue. When it hits there isn't much to do but rest...lots of rest. I do have some preventative tips that I think make sense for any illness...
1. Like so many folks have commented...pace yourself. It is not just that we aren't as young as we were yesterday. MS gives you a whole new body owners manual to work with and you've got pay attention to it.
2. Know your "triggers." I know going outside to work in the yard on a warm day is like hitting 16 at the blackjack table or, in quilters terms, starting to freemotion quilt a fresh quilt-top without checking to see if there is a full bobbin the machine...it can bite you where it hurts! Mine are easy - heat, overeating, alcohol, or anything thing that can cause a fever.
3. Nutrition. This is important for everyone but instead of just getting hungry I can get laid out with fatigue that lasts days. And it isn't just hunger - dehydration is a major no-no. On the other hand they encourage me to drink coffee and tea...Whoo hooo...my Dunkin donuts java is medicinal!
4. Stress. This is a slow energy eater for me. I can't do the warm baths (heat is bad) and the massage therapy hasn't worked too well. (found one woman in Greece who did a great job but that is a bit far to go for a massage...even a good one.) One thing that does help me is to close myself up in my sewing room and play with fabric. That is looking through my quilt books. Just down time with the pretty things and the pets...a meditation of sorts....
5. Exercise. This is tough...how to exercise with sweating! I had to totally rethink working out. I grew up as a Jock. I still own a Fonda workout tape (feel the burn....) That whole mindset had to go by the wayside! I do stretches every day. I walk early in the day before it gets hot or late at night (my Dh says in the summer I keep "vampire hours.") Once a week I do water aerobics and physical therapy. I have to constantly remind myself to NOT BE COMPETITIVE. Not even with myself...if I do one less lap than last week it is only data...do not worry. So not the mind set I grew up with!

On the Quilting room front there is progress. My sister and BIL worked all morning with me to put up the NewJoy Quilting Frame. (OK, I just kept Macbeth out of the way and brought coffee and brownies when required...it is still helping!) It looks great and I may even finish...I mean quilting finish...a few projects on my own this year. The big surprise...I had measureed out floor space for this. It said for the 76 inch model do such and such...OK. This was a quilter who wrote the directions...it really measures more like 93 inches floor space so you can quilt a 76 inch quilt. Duhhhh!!! More rearranging needed.
The boys that packed out my house in the U.K. continue to amaze me. The boxes for the quilt frame were taped shut when the movers got to the house but sure enough when we opened them here today the moving boys managed to have stuffed some of my fabric in them. It is like magic. I think I will be finding fat quarters for in amazing places for years! Anyways, I did find one of my "how the heck am I going to use this" pieces... My Robet Man. Isn't it great! THis is so not me and so me at the same time! A guilty pleasure...you bet. I bought it in 2000 and have moved it three times. I am not cutting it up for just any project.....I'm sure you all have a "robet man" fabric in your stash!

Phew this posting stuff is getting tough...time for more coffee and a brownie....

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

MS Awareness Day 4...winner 1 and another finish

We are now halfway through MS awareness week...phew. I am happy to announce the first give-away recipient - Elaine Adair Pieces! Congrats Elaine! I will be pulling another name Friday night. I will also be bringing the ideas to my Physical Therapy session on Friday so the deadline for ideas will have to be noon on Friday!

The Five fat quarter and airplane binder in the photo are on it's way to Elaine. Friday's winner will get another set of fat quarters and a Moda charm pack.The winner of the best suggestion (see Sunday post) will get this jelly roll and an airplane binder. (Can you tell I have been making a lot of these airplane binders! They are a lot of fun and a good quilty-gifty thing to have on hand...besides I've already given most folks I know a bag so I had to find something new!)MS Factoid Number 4: Over 400,000 people in the United States have been diagnosed with MS. 200 new cases are diagnosed every week.

My take on this: So many of you have commented or emailed saying you have MS, you are related to someone with MS or know someone with MS. I am sorry to say I am not surprised. MS is a long term prospect. Very few folks die from it so even though the numbers of those with MS may not be as high as other diseases, a person once diagnosed will most likely carry that diagnosis for decades. There is no cure.

I had one interesting email which asked which symptom do I have the most difficulty with? My first response was whichever symptom I have that day....but I took some time to think this over and I would have to pick...Fatigue. This isn't tired. This isn't worn out. This isn't something that a cup of tea and a sit down will take care of...this is you've been thrown in the deep end of the pool with cement boots sort of FATIGUE.

I think it is my choice for most difficult because folks think they know what it is. I mean everyone has pulled and all-nighter at some point. Or had a really bad hangover. The flu. Run a Marathon. Been on maneuvers in the desert for two weeks on rations and no showers. I have done all of those (yes, including the hangover...) and none of them hold a candle to MS F-A-t-i-G-u-e.... The best I can describe it is like being underwater and trying to run. Your arms are heavy. Just turning your body can throw you off balance. Sometimes I have problems hearing (though they say it is cognitive issues brought on by fatigue...) Speaking can take too much effort...sometimes I can see the word in my mind and almost feel the word but my lips can't make the sound.

Now the good news is that with a bit of behaviour modification (no more exercise until it burns...very little alcohol...stay out of the heat) and a bit of pharmaceutical assistance this isn't a big problem for me anymore. I've learned to obey the warning signs - a big step from just recognizing the signs and seeing just how far I can push it. Also a bit of training for my DH was needed...when I say the F word...fatigue folks...he knows it is serious and if need-be he calls in pizza.
Wow, I went on a long time on that...now to quilting. A Finish! I'm rockin', I'm rockin'...this little wallhanging (I think it is from an old Kindred Spirits book) just needed the corner tri-angles sewn on so I could start hand quilting. I got carried away and already put the buttons and fun stuff on it...bad I know. It will be a pain to quilt but I'm going to give it a go. I'm going to use Tony'a hoopless method which may help!

Well got to run and clean a bit. My sister and her husband are coming by on their way back north. They are going to help me set up my Grace frame! That is if I have cleared enough space in the sewing room! I admit to storing some needlework supplies and ribbon in the drawers of the spare bathroom...where is the strangest place you hide/store crafting supplies? (OK there are some fatquartes in the liquor cabinet and beading stuff in what looks like a tool box in the garage, and a bag with hexagons in the glove compartment.....)

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

MS Day 3 and In defense of boring borders...

I'm putting this little announcement on the top of each of my posts this week...I am doing a week-long MS awareness posting thingy...if you play along and comment or even better comment with a hint on an easier way of quilting, sewing or crafting you will be put in for some drawings...cool no?

MS Factoid for today: There is no cure for MS. There are a variety of treatments for symptoms and there are some treatments which mitigate, reduce and/or slow the progression.

My take on this: Sometimes I feel like treating MS is as much art as science. Initially my neurologist and I did a lot of try it and see. There were a lot of unintended consequences...the first med she gave me for spasms made my fatigue worse...the first for fatigue worked soooo good I went out to dinner after work, then shopping then did some housework only to not be able to move my legs the next morning. (She said it kept you from feeling tired not from doing stupid things....nice aye! She doesn't cut you a lot of slack....) It took a few years but I've got a combination that works pretty well most of the time. I have a few I rely on daily but most importantly I have a couple of heavy hitters that I can call in if I have to do something very strenuous (like pack up all of my household goods and move overseas....) or have an episode at an inconvienient time...not that there is ever a convienient time, but say losing feeling in your leg when you are driving down I-20 at 11:00 at night that is inconvienient....

Now on to boring borders....there is a place for them in my quilting world. I often "overthink" my border choices. I have to remember they are a frame...I know a great border can often save a blah quilt (though if a quilt is blah it is most likely still in pieces packed in a plastic bag at the bottom of my closet....) On quilts that already have a lot going on then boring is the right choice...so I went very subdued on my Double delight. I used a Jenny Beyers Brownish Gold stripe on the inner border and a Civil War Repro on the edge. I purposely did not miter my border...I have lots of antique quilts and not one has a mitered border. I like squared off borders. This always gets commented on by quilt judges. When did all this love affair with Mitering start? I think it should be a design choice. For instance I think a mitered border on a log cabin quilt looks silly. That is just my opinion. However on a pineapple log cabin I may consider it...am I making sense or am I simply justifying my general dislike of mitering? (just remembered a time I love miters...with stripes!)

With my DD I could have gone either way. In the end I squared the corners because I didn't like how the miter was going the opposite way of the corner triangle...I wanted the eye to rest/stop at the border and the miter line didn't seem to do that for me. (are you starting to get the picture about my over-thinking things!)A book recommendation to anyone taking up applique - Applique! Applique!! Applique!!! the complete guide to hand Applique by Laurene Sinema. I have this out to bring to a new guild member. It has a nice heart sampler that uses nine different techniques/styles (mola, celtic, running stitch, Broderie Perse, shadow, Hawaiian, button hole stitch, Pa ndu, and stained glass) and since it is small it will not take months (or years) to finish. The instructions are clear and the drawings good. It has been around for awhile (1992) but if you get a chance to pick one up it is a great addition to your quilt library.

Monday, March 09, 2009

MS Awareness 2

For those of you new to my blog we are in the midst of MS Awareness One-week-late...there is a give-away for comments and for the most useful tip to make quilting/sewing/crafting easier for someone with disabilities (or lazy folks...whichever....)

Who gets MS: It can be anyone however if you are a female of Northern European descent living North of the Equator you have a greater chance. It usually shows up between 20 and 50 though can start earlier or later. It is not thought to be hereditary.

My Take on this: For once I am sooo typical. My family is of Irish descent. I am female. I lived in New England most of my life. My first episode (though not diagnosed until 4 years later) was when I was 38. And, no one else in my large (I mentioned I was of Irish descent right) large family has ever been diagnosed with MS. As I often joke, I wade in the shallow end of our family gene pool....

I took the photo above at my quilt guild last week. Since it is March and my family is of Irish descent I was thinking of making a green quilt. There were several at this meeting. I may stick with making an Irish chain. The quilt photo at the top is an antique Irish chain (circa 1860's) from my collection that has bits of green in it (including a a great appliqued border....) Mine will be a bit less dramatic!
I've also put the first border on my DD....I may even have a finish photo tomorrow!

Sunday, March 08, 2009

MS Awareness...

What a great list of ways to make our quilting life easier you are all posting in my comments...keep them coming! If you missed my last post...there is a give-away going on....

MS Factoid for the Day: What is Multiple Sclerosis According the to MS Society booklet Just the Facts, MS is a chronic, unpredictable disease of the central nervous system. It is thought to be an autoimmune disorder. MS can cause blurred vision, loss of balance, poor coordination, slurred speech, tremors, numbness, extreme fatigue, problems with memory and concentration, paralysis, blindness and more. These problems may be permanent or may come and go.

My take on this: The toughest part of having MS or living with someone with MS is the unpredictability of it all. Note the "thought to be" and "may come and go" in the paragraph above. I was an A type personality when this started. I wanted real facts. Why did it happen? What do I do to prevent it? What is going to happen next week? next month? next year? Not lots of answers...I did finally wind down to a low B minus personality type...at least most of the time.

If I were to have one wish (besides not having MS at all) it would be for a better way of knowing what would be happening in the future. It has changed a lot of things. I much more careful about finances (maybe I should thank my MS for getting me out of the market early?!) and more careful about things like traveling (maybe taking that camel ride in the dessert is over-rated...how about shopping for rugs instead?)

(And if I could slip in one more little wish - would Dr House stop diagnosing MS every other show and it never being the right diagnosis...it freaks my DH out!)

I am doing things other than thinking about MS this weekend. I started working on reviving my old spice cabinet. Not exactly quilt-y but it is a craft of sorts.The original cabinet was harvest gold...ugly but a useful size. So about 15 years ago I painted it white and stenciled a coffee pot on it. 15 years ago that looked good. Now...not so much.

So I took it apart (again...since this is a redo does that count as recycling for my carbon footprint? just a thought...) I've sanded it down and painted it it a deep green.
I am playing with a rather large collection of bottle caps trying to decide if this is the project to finally use them on....the a hardest part of this project has been flattening the caps so I can attach them to the cabinet and to get the caps away from Brownie who likes to use them to play hockey across the kitchen floor....

The photo on the top of this post is one of the rare pics of Brownie and Goldie together...can you tell they are sisters?!