Monday, December 6, 2010

Happy Between the Holidays!

We've been a whirlwind of busy-ness here. It seems like the days go by before I even know what hit me. I've been working on some new patterns and have the sample top ready for the first one, I hope to have the first one written and ready by sometime in January and, hopefully, getting through the nuts and bolts of writing/publishing the first one will make the others much easier.

We had a lovely, though quiet, Thanksgiving. Rebekah was with her husband's family, and Rachel was with her boyfriend's family. Joshua's girlfriend did join us after dinner and spent the evening and Rachel and Marshall came back here for dessert, so we had a bit larger group for the evening.

We just got done with hunting weekend. I didn't get my usual long weekend of sewing (which usually happens the weekend before Thanksgiving) because only Jonathan went to Wisconsin this year. Their group of 3 only got one and were a little disappointed.

This past weekend was the Illinois hunt, 4 days and my husband and both older boys were out as much of those four days as possible. My husband got one on the morning of day one and another just about quitting time of day 3. His tags were full and his hunt over.

The boys saw a few each day, but didn't really get any good shots until just minutes before the season was over for the year, Jonathan got two, one right after the other, we'll have a full freezer with 4 to process.

Ruthie had her 6th birthday in the middle of November. She knows birthdays mean presents and was quite excited. Rebekah and her husband came for the afternoon, we set up a soup and snack bar on the breakfast bar and then it was present time. She sure did enjoy it!

The highlight ended up being this digital camera. We showed her how to take pictures and she took 119 of them in the first 20 minutes! I uploaded them to the computer and weeded through them and ended up with 20 that were pretty good. By the end of that night, she'd taken 500 more. Most of these were too close to the object and just blank, but by the next day she let me show her how to use the screen to see what she was photographing.

It doesn't take the best pictures, but we figure if she takes care of it and enjoys being able to take her own pictures that we might upgrade to one that is better in a couple of years. Here she is taking pictures of the computer screen...she took them of everything and everyone. As of late, she uses the game mode more than anything, but is still taking pictures.

Soon pictures she takes will find their way here, too.

Mostly, I've been quilting. Working on Rachel's quilt without her knowing has proven a challenge. I have a couple more table runners to round out Rebekah's set of holiday runners, and I'm going to sew together a precut set of fleece squares for a new blanket for Ruthie. The holiday baking starts soon, as do play practices for Christmas Eve and my many lists of menus, needed ingredients, items to bake, etc., are under way.

Part of me is longing for the New Year, when I can jump head first into designing and making samples along with working on commissioned work...well..once the Wedding Tablecloth quilt is done!

Never a dull moment!
For now, I'm enjoying the fact that this is the least stressful holiday we've had, financially, in a very, very long time. We've been truly blessed, and hope the same for you!

Happy Quilting...if you have time!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Where Do the Days Go?

It's been an interesting few weeks here. The time goes so quickly, I couldn't believe that I checked when I last posted and it was more than two weeks ago.

We've been milking along our old computer since our daughter's wedding 2 1/2 months ago. A friend took it and got it to boot up again, but the fix was temporary and it started shutting down again. He tried again and couldn't really find anything, and it seemed like maybe whatever it was had resolved itself with the tweaking that had been done.

Until it didn't and it wouldn't boot up at all again. We need our computer for our business, the parent company requires one as all reporting is done via computer now. It's also our way of communicating with much of our family, Rachel needs it for school work , and having one has become almost a necessity. We can do without one for a while, Rachel can do her computer work at school, we can use the library for some of the business work, if need be, but not having one does make some things quite cumbersome.

So we headed off to Best Buy, checkbook in hand, to check out their latest (and cheapest) bundle deal. After much agonizing, we went with a little better system, which came with a free printer, and hopefully we are good for some time.

We have our first flat panel monitor, and it's amazing how much less crowded the desk seems without that huge monitor on it.
We also were able to order the new window for our bedroom, a much needed item as ours has been falling apart for quite some time. All this last summer we were unable to open it, but it didn't seal right anymore either, making last winter a chilly one. Even this fall before it was in, we had some chilly mornings, it's been much more pleasant in our room with a proper window!

The quilting has been moving along and a big part of the reason that so much time goes between posts right now. I'm not as good at multi-tasking as I used to be, so multiple quilt projects in the works along with new patterns and a blog to write has left me floundering some. I am finally starting to get a handle on "scheduling" myself.

One of the most difficult projects right now is Rachel's quilt for Christmas. I'm really trying to finish it without her ever seeing it. That has turned out to be not so easy a task as she often gets home early from school, or let go a bit early from work. I have to really pay attention to the time when I'm working on it. It was out one day when she got home quite a bit earlier than expected, but she either didn't notice it, or it never occurred to her that it was for her. I've been much more diligent since then, but that also means less time to work on it.

I wasn't sure about this one when putting it together, but ended up liking it very much...and even more when I draped it over her bed to see how it would look in her room. My matchy matchy girl will be very happy.
With a lot of sewing going on, and many small pieces to press, I really needed a better setup. Getting up and crossing the room every few minutes was not a good use of time and it got old quickly. I'd not had room to do this before, but since switching out my tables this became more feasible. I love having the ironing board where it is now, and it also serves as an extra work space when laying things out or working on written work as well.

It doesn't prevent a messy table, though, when working I need all my stuff close at hand!
In a previous post I showed the drawing of my new project, here is a bit of it done. I'm working through the project and writing the pattern, hoping to have it ready by shortly after the holidays. Here is a bit of it in progress.
I really enjoy having so much to work on. It seems that no matter what I feel like doing, I have some project in the works that fits the bill. In addition to all the sewing, Rachel and I have been baking quite a lot. She is enjoying learning the process and is getting to be quite a cook and baker.

And I have to wonder if Ruthie is about to have a growth spurt. It seems like she's eating all the time! She got out her own plate, found the baggie with the cut bread in it and sat in this storage box to have a snack.

I actually have a couple of hours here alone tonight so I'm going to take advantage of it and get some work done! I hope you all are well and...
Happy Quilting!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

So Much to Do, So Little Time

It seems there just aren't enough hours in the day. And for me, there are definitely not enough quiet ones. I find myself staying up until the wee hours as often as possible to find some uninterruped time to sew, work on new quilt patterns, watch a TV show, or just gather my thoughts on things.

I also have to find time to work on projects that are surprises. The first is the quilt for Rachel's new room. When Rebekah married and moved out, that left Rachel with her own room for the first time since she was a toddler. She and Rebekah had painted the room bright yellow and orange a few years ago, it was fun and cheerful and they had such fun working on it (having done all of the work themselves), but Rachel was ready for a change and to make the room her own.

The week after the wedding, she enlisted the help of a couple of friends, who came and went as they needed to, and she painted the room in colors she chose in the weeks prior. They did a wonderful job and the room looks more grown up and sophisticated.
The orange, yellow, and green quilt from the old room just won't do. I told her I'd make her a new quilt as soon as I could. I decided to get it done for Christmas, without her knowing. A tricky proposition when she is in and out often. I've been using her time at school and work to work on her quilt as much as I can. I had to quickly hide it a few times when I tried to work on it when she was out and about, so I will have to be more careful once it's in the hoop and more difficult to hide quickly.

Here is one of the blocks from her quilt. It is a combination of blocks and I got the pattern out of a Quilting Pattern-a-Day calendar. I've made quite a few tops from this collection. The blocks are nearly done and I'll be starting to assemble it soon, hopefully the finished top will make an appearance here within the next week.

Another set of projects that I'm doing on the sly is a set of table runners for Rebekah. These are easier since she doesn't live here, but they do live right around the corner and stop in occasionally either to ask us something or borrow something they can't keep (or don't have) in their small apartment.

Here is the first one, just the thing for those patriotic holidays.

And Halloween. This one has a cute pumpkin quilted into the center black block.

A cheery message to start the new year.

And one for Valentine's Day.

Still to come are a floral one for spring/summer, one with leaves for fall, Happy Birthday, and Christmas. There will possibly be a snowman one for general winter, too.

Rachel is in her first year of college, taking courses for certificates this semester and contemplating going full time next semester. In one of her classes, they had to do a "bigger and better" trade. The teacher gave each of them a little 9 cent clip and they had to make at least 3 trades, each one for something bigger and better than what they were giving away.

Rachel ended up with this desk, which is wonderful. She didn't want it in her room, and other than using the computer doesn't really work at a desk, so this has become my alternate work space...I love it. I was afraid it would crowd my sewing table too much, and it does crowd the area some, but leaves more space between the desk and stairs than there was before. It's also much easier to keep neat than the old one was.

Things are beginning to fall into place for a new venture. I've always wanted to be able to earn some money with my quilting and over the years have taught classes at quilt shops, done hand quilting for people and have even basted and bound quilts for people who didn't like those tasks.
Recently Bren asked me if I'd be willing to make a topper for her Mom's table. Her Mom really wanted one and she didn't have time to make one. I asked a few questions and came up with this. She has an octagonal table and wanted a round topper to go on it. I couldn't find a pattern with a sunflower on it, so I drew out this one.

When I told Bren that I drew it, she told me I really should be trying to sell my patterns. That got the wheels turning and she's been encouraging me and letting me bounce idea off of her since then.
When I posted a picture on my blog and someone else asked for one. Bren also plugged my hand quilting services on her blog and I've received a request to quilt a top, and one to make a quilt in it's entirety as well.

Perhaps this time, the timing is right. I have more time than in many years, my family is becoming more and more self sufficient (as they should be!) and how I would like to be able to add to the family income! We re-evaluate our situation often, but without a second car and still having younger children at home, me working outside the home causes more stress than help for my husband.

I came up with an idea for a quilt and quickly realized this one had to be drawn all the way out to make sure I could place the units correctly. I also wanted to get an idea what it would really look like. While I'd love to have some quilting software, for now, I do things the old fashioned way. I needed some colored pencils and even with this 50 pack, I had trouble finding the right ones.

I came up with this idea late in the evening and stayed up until the wee hours figuring and refiguring to come up with just what I wanted. I spent all my available time yesterday drawing it all out. I can hardly wait to start on it, and I'll work on it in bits here and there until the Christmas work and quilting job are done.

In the meantime, I'd love to figure out how to not need any sleep! LOL. I've always said I'd love to not need sleep, but I'd want the rest of my household to need it!

As for Ruthie, she's doing great. With her speech improving daily, it seems, she's also starting to make more general comments on things, which is a hoot. She's wanting to do more and more for herself, and shows interest in many things.

She was quite thrilled with the rolling pin as I was making pizza so I gave it to her and her whole face lit up. She rolled a bit on her own, and then I helped her push out to the edges of the pan. She helped spread sauce....
She put on some mushrooms and pepperoni and even wanted to try her hand at the microplane. She was quite proud of herself.

Her sense of humor comes out more and more. Here she is with stickers all over herself. She was quite amused.

I love her in this outfit. She looks like a little school girl, and did even moreso on Sunday when Rekekah had french braided her hair, which fell into pigtails. It still takes me off guard that she is so grown up!
So there is a lot going on here, but it's a fun kind of busy. It's time for me to get to work, with so many enjoyable things waiting for my attention, I have to be sure to prioritize!
Happy Quilting!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Catching up

There has been a lot going on here, as usual! The second week after the wedding was wonderfully quiet but then we ramped back up into real life.

Rachel is going to Africa in January. She has been sponsoring a child for 2 1/2 years and has the opportunity to travel to see how the organization works, visit some of the centers to see how they operate and spend time with the children. The most exciting thing is she will get to spend the day with the child she's been sponsoring. She's been raising the money with various fundraisers and last week, we had a bake sale at church. Here is our table at home, all decked out with the bake sale wares. She had a few people offer to donate baked goods as well. Her "sale" (items are not priced, rather people donate what they want to give) went quite well, we only had two plates left when we came home.

The bake sale fell on the same day as opening day of football season. We had one of our snack days that day and I made several different substantial snacks that got put out throughout the afternoon and early evening. Here is a bowl of my potstickers, these are always a big hit and show up more and more at our house.

Lucas requested crab rangoon, so we fired up the deep fryer and had some of those, too.

My son-in-law called and asked if we could use some little bags of chips. He works as a mechanic at an amusement park and the season is just about over. Anything that will go out of date before the park reopens next spring is given to the employees...just another fun perk he's found out about in the months he's been there.
I'm enjoying my quilting very much these days. With the cooler weather settling in, I'm gearing up for my winter quilting. I have several things in the works right now, and my table shows it! In the upper right corner of the table you can see my stack of Carpenter's Wheel fabric pinned to triangle paper and waiting for a few minutes of sewing time.

While working on the Carpenter's Wheel quilt, I had and idea for another in a different color palette. The next one will have these dark prints in it, each coupled with a color from within the print. I'm hoping to start pulling the companion fabric tonight.
I need a bigger design board! This one is over full, holding the finished Carpenter's Wheel blocks and also a table topper made and sold to a friend. Looking at the blocks on the board gave me yet another idea for a Carpenter's Wheel quilt, so I may have 3 by the time I'm finished making these fun blocks.

Here is a closer view of the table topper.

It's a quiet day here today. Rachel took both Ruthie and Lucas to Milwaukee with her to visit her boyfriend. Lucas has been there before, but Ruthie has not. This is the first time she's been away from home all day without me, I'm anxious to hear how she did! She's been much more sociable lately, giving her Cubbie leader a hug and running up to Brian when he stopped by to say hi to him. Usually she just quietly slips away when someone comes here, but that is happening less and less.

Jonathan wanted to build a fire, so Lucas and Ruthie had to be out there, too. Jonathan is our yard maintenance guy, he loves it and has all kinds of ideas for the yard. He did do some work out there this year, trimming trees, planting and caring for the garden, taking down the swingset, and moving the woodpile at the side of the house to the back by the fence. He really wants to do some work with the swings and firepit, cutting out an area for them and putting sand in under the swings and also having the firepit on set in cement blocks. Mike gives him free reign for these projects as we can afford to do them.

And Ruthie, more and more grown up, flashing that sweet smile so very often. She seems to turn the head of everyone who sees her.
Hopefully posts to come will have a lot more quilting pictures on them!
Until then,
Happy Quilting!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Sewing Frenzy

I've been spending quite a lot of time sewing and as the weeks go on, there should continue to be a lot of time for it. We don't start schooling here until the day after Labor Day and both Jonathan and Lucas can work pretty independently. This year I'm adding Ruthie, so some time will be spent working one on one with her. As the cooler, Autumn temperatures set in, there will be more time and inclination for soups and stews and other hearty meals, so I'll be spending more time on that as well. I haven't taken the time to make pizza for a while, everyone here loves it, so that was one of Saturday's "jobs." Here is one before going into the oven. And a picture of a different one coming out. I used to dread pizza making, but now that I've done it so many times, it's not as daunting a process.

The Carpenter's Wheel blocks are going together pretty quickly now. I found that once all the pieces are ready (I sew them on triangle paper) and pressed, that laying the block out next to my machine is the most efficient way to get them sewn together. I've been sewing one block at a time on this one and that's still working for me so I'll continue to do that. It breaks up the steps nicely.
Here is the light and medium blue block.

The light and medium green block.

And the red block.

Last night, when the house was quiet, I pulled fabric for the rest of the blocks for the first Carpenter's Wheel quilt. The only one I haven't found the right fabrics for is the yellow block, but I thought of another spot I might find a few pieces that might fit the bill.

Today I'll pin all those pulled fabrics to triangle paper and I'll start working my way through them.

The more pressing project was Rebekah's wedding fabric quilt. I had a lot of flying geese to make, so looked for my "Angler" to save the step of drawing the line on the squares. I couldn't find it, but found these. Bought years ago and never used, this package of grids made the size geese I needed so I gave it a try.

After meticulously following the slightly daunting directions for a process that was a bit confusing at first, I ended up with this. I flipped the paper over and cut on the lines as directed, but you can see from this side that cut apart they didn't quite end up perfect size. There shouldn't have been any gaps between the rows.

Thankfully, they weren't too "off" to use and I had only done this one page of them. I switched to my usual method for the rest of the geese.

Putting this top together gave me FITS. I did more ripping on this one top than I've done over the last few years. I was thinking of appliqueing in the "filler" spaces, but have decided it would be too busy. I'm going to quilt some nice feathered motif in red thread in those spaces instead.

I have another of these tops in the works for me, and will get back to it after a few Carpenter's Wheel blocks. Hopefully I've learned from all the ripping on the first top and don't make those same mistakes again!

This picture of Ruthie was taken on Lucas' birthday. We roasted giant marshmallows to make s'mores and she had a good time. I don't think she ate much of that marshmallow, but she had fun trying!
I love this next picture. While she has her crabby moments, this is more often how she is. Quietly busy and quick to smile, though she is becoming more of a chatterbox!

It's going to be a pretty quiet day here. My husband works this morning, will be home for lunch, a shower, and a quick nap (he worked a LOT of hours this weekend) before leaving for his second shift job this afternoon. Jonathan is leaving to go camping for a few days with Rachel's boyfriend and his Dad, Rachel has school all day and then work (she's taking a few classes at the local community college), and Joshua works all day, too.

That means another good sewing day for me and I plan to take advantage of it!
Happy Quilting!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010


The Ruthie picture is up top this time because I forgot to put it at the bottom! When I'm using the "large" and "center" options to load pictures, I can't move them around within the post, which means I have to plan ahead and load them last one first.

Ah well. This one was supposed to be in the last post, but I accidentally erased it while backspacing. I love this picture and am considering enlarging this one and framing it.
Last week didn't end up nearly as unscheduled and relaxing as planned. I considered it an extension of the wedding since a lot of what I had left to do was finding places for the no longer needed wedding paraphernalia. There were also more errands and other odds and ends to do than I'd planned.

This week, however, has been my "off" week. While I'm back to having to cook with the wedding leftovers all finished, other than my errands today I have little on my schedule.

The wedding tablecloths were all washed and there weren't any stains to be found on them. That left me with about 21 yards of red fabric and 6 yards of white fabric for making quilt tops. After some playing around on graph paper, I came up with a top that I liked. I'll be showing the blocks as I go and the end result will be a surprise.

I'm making two of these quilts, one for Rebekah and one for me. I'm using the white head table fabric for hers, but just some plain white that I had here for mine. The reds all came from the table cloths.

These are split nine patch blocks. There are a dozen of these 9 inch blocks for each quilt.
These are Anvil blocks. There is also a dozen of these 12 inch blocks for each quilt. Next up will be some flying geese.
Along with the red and white quilts, I've been working on Carpenter's Wheel blocks. Years ago I made one giant one for a lap quilt for my brother in law. I love this block, and am making 16 of them, each different colors, for a nice sized lap quilt. Here is the pink one.
And the purple block.
I pulled fabric for a few more and will pin it to triangle paper. Here is a dark blue and medium blue.
The fabric for a medium blue and light blue block.
I pulled greens, too, the light and medium will be one block and the medium and dark, another. I'm having so much fun with these that I have another top in mind for the Carpenter's Wheel block. It will have darker colors and more predominant prints, I think.
Not all the thoughts are on quilting. I got a $10 off coupon in the mail for Penney's. I love these coupons, there is no minimum to spend so I head to the clearance racks to find one or two items that total $11-15. I found this blouse and had to have it, $14.40, which means I spent under $5 to get it. I have quite a few things in my wardrobe that would go with this blouse. With the basic pieces covered (neutral skirts, slacks, and jackets) I'm having great fun adding some color to my wardrobe when I get these really good coupons to use. With the wedding over, I'm hoping to hit the clearance racks once or twice a month to slowly add to my closet. I usually only buy one piece at a time, but it's starting to look like a wardrobe!
My really nice coffee pot died a few weeks ago. I pulled an old one out of the closet to use for a while. Unfortunately, that one started leaking badly. I make a pot of coffee and it lasts two to three mornings. I drank the last of it this morning and was hoping we could swing a new, inexpensive pot this week. This is now gracing my counter, the first pot made and ready for morning (I don't drink my coffee hot except on rare occasions, so usually make it the night before.)
The quilting/sewing is well under way and I'm enjoying it immensely. I don't have anything but church Sunday morning that will take me out of the house, and then I have errands and music work to do on Tuesday. That means most of the next week can be spent working on quilt tops. I'm hoping for a break in the heat and humidity so I can hand quilt some, too, but for now, watching these blocks come together is giving me a thrill!
Happy quilting!