Tuesday, January 31, 2012

January NewFO

Except for a couple of baby quilts and the square for Jo's Quilt Square Quilt Along, I've been sticking to my UFOs this month. I got the top for Quinn's green Trip Around the World together, got most of the blocks for my Extra Scrappy Pinwheels together, and finally started quilting my Double Irish Chain.

So why am I doing the NewFo Challenge when I've already got projects to work on? Because I've also got projects that I really want to make, but never quite get around to starting.

I thought I knew what my January NewFO was going to be, at least until I sat down and really read the directions Monday afternoon. The block wasn't assembled the way I thought it was. The directions were very text-heavy and scattered through the book and I just didn't have the patience to sit down and read through pages and pages, let alone re cut the strips I'd hoped to use.

So I went back to my original list and decided to try a spiral log cabin block. I already had the box of 1 1/2" strip out for my Quilt Square Quilt Along square. Sometimes having the fabric right there in front of my is my biggest reason for picking a particular project.



I'd been putting this one off because it looked hard. She says right there in the instructions that you've got to be thinking when you do this. But once you get going, it makes perfect sense where the strips should go.

I'm still not quite sure where the final strip goes, but I'll cross that bridge when I get there.

To see what everyone else is starting, hop over to Cat Patches. And don't forget to enter my 1000th post giveaway. You could win a whole stack of the quilting and knitting books that make my heart go pitty-pat.

Monday, January 30, 2012

thirty eight fabrics in one little quilt



I dragged my feet when it was time to start this little quilt, but once I got going I really fell in love it with. Thirty-eight fabrics in a twelve inch square? Little half inch finished strips? What's not to love about that?

Now that its time to quilt it, I'm dragging my feet again. I don't know what I want to do. Meander? Stitch in the ditch? Or maybe try out hand quilting? I've been planning to try that and this is such a little quilt it should be manageable. If I don't like my results, I can always pick it out and do it again my machine, right?

Hop over to the Quilt Square Quilt Along Linky Party at Jo's Country Junction to see how the rest of the little quilts came out.

Nothing really new going on with my design wall this week. I keep going back to UFOs -- not a bad thing, but I'm going to have to scoot to start a NewFO for the linky party over at Cat Patches tomorrow.




To see more weekly stash reports, click over to Patchwork Times. And don't forget to enter my 1000th post giveaway. You could win a whole stack of the quilting and knitting books that make my heart go pitty-pat.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

I went to the quilt shop this week



It's been a long time since I bought new fabric, let alone new quilt shop fabric. But this week they had the $3.98 a yard flat folds (and that even beats the recent sale prices at Joann's) so I bought some half yard cuts of lights and darks and fabric for a couple of projects I'm working on.

And then there's the toile. Yup, those are skeletons. Which is why I spent the most I've ever spent for a half yard of fabric. (It's Midnight Pastoral by Alexander Henry, in case anyone needs to track down some of her own.)

Now I've got to get some quilting done to even out these numbers before they wind up like they did last year.

Fabric Used this Week: 1 yard
Fabric Used year to Date: 8 1/3 yards
Added this Week: 10 yards
Added Year to Date: 15 yards
Net Added for 2012: 1 2/3 yards

Yarn Used this Week: 0 yards
Yarn Used year to Date: 0 yards
Yarn Added this Week: 0 yards
Yarn Added Year to Date: 0 yards
Net Added for 2012: 0 yards

To see more weekly stash reports, click over to Patchwork Times. And don't forget to enter my 1000th post giveaway. You could win some of the quilting and knitting books that make my heart go pitty-pat.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

1000th post giveaway -- things that make my heart go pitty-pat



To celebrate my 1000th post, which was actually this week's stash report, I'm giving away a stack of books that make my heart go pitty-pat. I'm not giving away my own favorite books because there are still things in them I need to make, but I've managed to find gently used copies to share with one lucky reader.





This one has got to be my favorite quilting book. I found my copy of Family Ties: Old Quilt Patterns from New Cloth (Needlework and Quilting) four years ago. Talula Gilbert Bottoms, the author's grandmother, made more than 200 quilts between 1870s and 1945. It's been quite a while since I read it cover to cover, but if I'm remembering right she pieced and quilted them by hand. The patterns here include Double Wedding Ring and Improved Nine Patch and Sunbonnet Sue and all of the traditional old patterns that come to mind when I think quilt. And many that I'd never seen before I got my hands on this book.

I want to be like Talula when I grow up. If I can use my sewing machine.





This one has the pattern for Shenandoah Log Cabin in it. If you don't know what that one is, there are plenty of pictures on Judy Martin's Website. Imagine a log cabin that swirls like a Snails Trail.





I really want to make a pineapple quilt. I really don't want to do paper piecing. This one uses strips and is, according to the introduction, similar to the Quilt in a Day Log Cabin pattern. If I could talk a friend through that one over the phone, I should be able to do this.





Although I don't actually do it as much as I'd like to, I love knitting socks. I knit three pairs (and a whole long list of other things) during the 22 days I was on hospital bed rest with my youngest. Solid colors and intricate textures...sigh I really should make more sock knitting time.



I wanted to include a cross stitch kit, or maybe one of the Diane Phalen patterns that helped lure me from cross stitching to quilting, but the stores that used to have aisles of kits and patterns have done away with them. I did find these patterns, which are exactly what would have had me bouncing with joy when I was in the deepest part of my obsession and my definition of the best cross stitch charts was "huge and completely covered with stitches."

Want to win this whole wonderful stack of books? Just be a follower of my blog and leave a comment on this post before 11:59pm 02/06/2012. I'd love to know what would be in your stack of books that make your heart go pitty-pat. (And please make sure you're not a no-reply blogger -- Sew Cal Gal has a great explanation of exactly what that means and how to make sure it's not keeping you from winning the contests you enter.)

Friday, January 27, 2012

my bloodthirsty little quilt

I'm sure glad to have this one done!



I can't believe how many times I jabbed myself. First it was unfastening the safety pins while I was doing the machine quilting. Then it was while changing the two broken sewing machine needles. Then it was while trying to extricate the hand needle that snapped while I was sewing sewing down the binding. Not to mention the number of times that I stabbed myself while I was sewing down the binding.

Surprisingly, none of it actually drew blood -- have I mentioned how glad I am that I'm not on blood thinners anymore?

I love the pattern and I like the swirly quilting, although I think I've done it better on other quilts. I'd totally make this one again and again. But I'm holding a grudge against this particular fabric and thread and batting. They're out to get me. I might make a special trip down to the pregnancy center just to get this one out of my life quickly!



January 31 is almost here, so I decided it was time to get started on the first little quilt for Jo's Quilt Square Quilt Along. I bought the pattern, so I'm actually committed. We're going to be making four of the quilts from this pattern - I can't wait to see what the other three are. I definitely have my own favorites from each of the three patterns we'll be using over the course of the year!

To get the strips for her square, Jo cut 2 1/2" strips in half. I'm cutting down strips from my 1 1/2" strip bin -- the one I keep adding to for my log cabin variations. I'm planning on making each piece a different print. If I'd thought ahead, all of my pinwheel blades would be different too, but I'm not starting over now.

This post is linked to Finish it up Friday over at Crazy Mom Quilts and Can I get a Whoop-Whoop? at Confessions of a Fabric Addict. And don't forget to enter my 1000th post giveaway. You could win some of the quilting and knitting books that make my heart go pitty-pat.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

a bad night for free motion quilting



It wasn't the best night for free motion quilting. On one 36" square baby quilt, I managed to get the edge of the backing tucked under and quilted down (I do that dumb trick more often than I want to admit), quilted a scrap of fabric to the back of the quilt, and broke two needles within five minutes. Now the last needle I own is in my machine and I'm hoping I don't break that one before my next trip to town.

But I'll have a finish to show you tomorrow!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

you ARE going to do that!

One of the 87 million things on Pinterest my teenage daughter has called me over to look at was a supposed-to-be-cute quote about how it's a wonderful place to plan things you're never going to actually do. I've seen the same thing said about Ravelry queues.

It bugs me.

It bugs me the same way that it bugged me when someone at my baby shower was carefully folding wrapping paper so I could use it to line the baby's dresser drawers and someone else piped up with "Not that she'll ever get around to doing it."

It was a mean thing to say. I never claimed that I wanted to line my dresser drawers with wrapping paper. The woman who said it did not know me well at all and had no clue what I might or might not ever get around to doing.

As far as I'm concerned, we get to carry as many plans and crafty dreams as we want inside our heads. Until we go out and spend money on patterns and supplies, we're not the slightest bit committed. If those supplies can be used for other projects, we're still not committed. And if now and then our plans change and a kit or pattern doesn't get used -- so what? We could've wasted that same money on a dress we never wore.

This week, I actually followed through on some of my plans. We made erupting soap. It's an actual science project because the moisture and air in the soap expand like the moisture in popcorn. But in addition to that, its really fun and, whether you have little kids or not, I think you should get a bar of Ivory soap and try it out yourself.

I also ran my nasty shower curtain through the washing machine with a cup of baking soda. It's white again. I can't tell you how shocked I am that it's white again.

This morning, I tried Jo's Easiest Egg Bake. It's been on my mental list of things I want to do for months. It really is the easiest egg recipie ever. I popped it into the oven before my shower and it was ready to be eaten when the kids were ready for breakfast. And, unlike the baked oatmeal we loved so much, there's no actual recipie to remember.



How about you? What have you been meaning to do? Are there a couple of quick things on your list that you could just do this week?

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

how many eggs to mix up for the french toast

The kiddos really like french toast and pancakes. Or it might just be that they like anything they can eat with syrup.

I'd rather make french toast than pancakes because it seems like I have more luck with it. It's easier to make extra when suddenly a kid who usually eats two pieces is hungry enough for six. Instead of getting the box of pancake mix back out and starting over from scratch, I just crack a few more eggs into the bowl and add a splash more milk.

One thing I've started to do is to leave the cinnamon and nutmeg out of the egg mixture and sprinkle them onto the individual pieces while they're cooking. That way they all get some of the yummy spices and when the kids are stuffed, I can make myself a couple of pieces and scramble whatever eggs are left in the bowl. It might not be a full serving, but it's better than tossing the extra.

For more tips, check out Works for me Wednesday at We are THAT Family and Waste Not Wednesdays at Jo's Country Junction.

Monday, January 23, 2012

pinwheels!

From a baggie full of triangles to what will be nine complete pinwheels by the end of the day...



It took less than an hour of sewing. Not bad for one of those "I don't know when/if I'll ever feel like working on it" UFOS! I could have the whole top assembled if, for two days in a row last week, I hadn't decided that I felt rotten and wasn't going to sew.

The truth is that sewing lifts my spirits and makes me feel better. I need to remember that next time I'm feeling cranky about life.

To see more design walls, head over to Patchwork Times.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

scraps from Grandma



This week, Grandma found me a scrap bag with some orphan blocks in it.

I love the background fabric on those bow tie blocks and wish there were more blocks. Or just some of that grey solid so I could make some of my own. I'm thinking I'll assemble them into a lap quilt and bring it up to size with a pieced border made form recycled shirts.

The hearts are going into a baby quilt, and once I count the half square triangles, I'll figure out what I can do with those.

Weekly Stash Report

Fabric Used this Week: 4 1/3 yards
Fabric Used year to Date: 7 1/3 yards
Added this Week: 5 yards
Added Year to Date: 5 yards
Net Used for 2012: 2 1/3 yards

Yarn Used this Week: 0 yards
Yarn Used year to Date: 0 yards
Yarn Added this Week: 0 yards
Yarn Added Year to Date: 0 yards
Net Added for 2012: 0 yards

To see more weekly stash reports, click over to Patchwork Times.

Friday, January 20, 2012

no finish this week

I've just barely been getting my fifteen minutes a day done. Fifteen minutes of piecing at a time that quickly added up to these:



They're the borders for my own Extra Scrappy Pinwheels. I gave away the first one as soon as it was finished and wanted one to keep for myself. This time I'm making the borders a little different.

I knew I was going to need a second quilt, so I cut triangles for both at the same time. I finished up the first one and tucked the extra pieces away to work on later. There's no hurry to finish mine, but I needed something to run through my sewing machine this week and this was the closest UFO to grab. I didn't have the red squares or big white triangles I need for the pinwheels, so the borders got done first.

And now that I've got the borders done, I might as well do the pinwheels and finish it up. Maybe in time for next Friday's linky parties...

Thursday, January 19, 2012

1905



I spend a lot of time wondering about this little painting which sits on our fireplace mantel. It'll be moved as soon as we start thinking about fires again, but for right now I want it where I can see it often.

When I was growing up, it hung in the laundry room. I knew my great-grandmother (the mother of the grandma who found me my treadle sewing machine and all of those fabulous scrap bags) had painted it, along with the waterfall that hung at the top of the stairs. I knew that it was going to be mine someday. But that was about it.

No one ever told me -- and I never asked -- that this was painted in 1905, when Great Grandma was seventeen. I didn't find that out until the painting came to live with me a few months ago and I saw the date written on the back.

Nineteen-oh-five.

When she was seventeen.

I still have a hard time wrapping my head around that information, almost as hard a time as I have wrapping my head around the idea that her father in law fought in the Civil War. Great-Grandma as I knew her crocheted afghans and made swans with sparkly beads pinned into bars of soap. There's at least one quilt I know she made, and I think she made one of the two double wedding ring quilts that formed my earliest ideas of what a quilt actually was.

Grandma has filled in some of the blanks, telling me that the scene in the picture probably would have been an example from a book or a class and not an actual place that Great-Grandma knew. It was probably painted on slate, because that's what they used then. I'm not taking the paper off the back to find out for sure.

This post is linked to Time Travel Thursday, Ivy & Elephants & Vintage Thingie Thursday.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Quinn's Trip Around the World - the top's done!

The flimsy for Quinn's green Trip Around the World quilt is together. Here it is, draped over the couch. I need to find a better spot to get a picture of the whole thing because it came out huge. I think the original plan might've been to make it 48" square...then it went up to 60"....and then to 72"

Because if you've got enough green fabric, you might as well make it big, right?



It took me four days to make the blocks and put together the top for 30s Barn Raising. The Blue Bargello top took two mornings.

It took me a year to make this quilt top. First I couldn't decide if I wanted to make another Scrappy Bargello or a Trip Around the World. Then I was afraid I wouldn't have enough green. Then I knew I had more than enough green, but I was afraid that, forgotten and buried somewhere in my sewing room, perfect bits of green were going to be left out.

Now that I've got the top together, I'm not sure quite what to do with myself. This has been my fifteen minutes of daily piecing, the project that was sitting right next to my sewing machine. I've got to pull something else together right now, or I'll take the day off, and then tomorrow, and then the day after that. Lynne over at The Patchery Menagerie has a great post about how hard it is to get back to work once you've lost your momentum.

I've got a bag full of pieces for another Extra Scrappy Pinwheels, which I need to make because I gave away the first one. It was supposed to be mine, but I gave it away. I should have all of the pieces cut -- and if I don't, now would be a good time to find out, right?

While I'm doing that, I need to start sorting scraps and cutting squares. Have you seen the postage stamp qults over at Coloradolady? I have got so many plans for postage stamp quilts....

This post is linked to WIP Wednesday over at Freshly Pieced and Fabric Tuesday at Quilt Story. And I forgot to mention that, although he still loves all things green, my seven-year-old does not like his quilt.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

wfmw - dictionaries



We have a house full of dictionaries. Student dictionaries....children's dictionaries...cheap paperback dictionaries from the Dollar Tree...

I hate most of them.

By the time my kiddos need to look a word up, odds are it's not going to be in one of those dictionaries. It's frustrating for someone who's still learning how to use the thing when none of the words he needs are actually in it! And then I've got to check to see if the word is really in there or not -- and the poor kid still hasn't found out what it actually means!

I spent months looking for a big unabridged version to replace my old one, the kind the bookstores always used to have on their bargain tables for $19.95. Grandma finally spotted one at a thrift store and I brought it home just before we got the Kindles.

The Kindles have dictionaries built in and a kid who wants to know what a word means can just click and have the definition right there.

I love that! As much as I'd like to, I'm not walking around with a head that contains the dictionary definition of every words my kids might stumble across. And sometimes when I'm absolutely positive I do know that dictionary definition, it turns out that the word doesn't mean what I thought it did.

Did you know that ichor is the fluid that flowed through the veins of Greek gods? I always thought it was the nasty stuff that spurts out of zombies.

So what do I do with all of these dictionaries? Paper a wall with them like Angie at Knick of Time Interiors did?


This post is linked to Works for me Wednesday at We are THAT Family and the Hip Homeschool Hop

Monday, January 16, 2012

scrappy little Swoon quilt

My first reaction to any pattern is usually "What if I made that scrappier?" Okay, my first reaction to Swoon was that I wanted to make it in Halloween prints...then I started thinking about a scrappy version. Friday, I saw that Debbie from A Quilter's Table had already done it. And look at this one, which I just found while I was looking for the link to the scrappy one!

sigh

I could make a whole bunch of Swoon quilts.

But right now I'm playing with a scrappy one block baby quilt, using my AccuQuilt Half Square 4" Triangle die because that bring it up to almost baby quilt size. I may add a narrow plain border.



I'll definitely shift the blocks around a bit before I put it together.

To see more design walls, head over to Patchwork Times

Beth over at Love Laugh Quilt is having a Pincushion Parade. Now that I think about it, I've only actually made one pincushion and that one was a test to see if I could make the fabric part of a knitted pincushion that I never did finish.



Maybe it's because I keep my pins in a tin and never actually use a pincushion.

You've still got until Tuesday night to enter the Jockey Sports Bra and Purex Crystals giveaway.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

damage control

What do you do when you're almost done with the last block you need to meet your goal for the day and you realize you've done this?



I'm not sure how I did that, but those two edges are supposed to go neatly together. I can't hide the missing fabric in the seam allowance, so it's time for more serious damage control. The easiest solution would be to cut a new 2 1/2" square out of matching fabric. If I had matching fabric handy.

I wound up going through my fabric trimmings to find the piece I'd cut off the other end of the block, hoping there'd be enough to combine with what was already in the block to form a piece I could cut a new 2 1/2" square from.



Got it! And I dare you to find this pieced square once the finished quilt is quilted.



I think damage control is a skill all quilters need. Even when we buy extra fabric as insurance against cutting errors and measure carefully, things can still go wrong. Knowing how to hide those little accidents makes life much easier.

What's your best damage control tip for saving a quilt once things go wrong?

Weekly Stash Report

I still haven't bought fabric this year. There was some nice yardage at the thrift store, but I was good and didn't buy it for myself. I did talk my mom into buying it for her stash.

Fabric Used this Week: 1 yard
Fabric Used year to Date: 3 yards
Added this Week: 0 yards
Added Year to Date: 0 yards
Net Used for 2012: 3 yards

Yarn Used this Week: 0 yards
Yarn Used year to Date: 0 yards
Yarn Added this Week: 0 yards
Yarn Added Year to Date: 0 yards
Net Added for 2012: 0 yards


To see more weekly stash reports, click over to Patchwork Times. And to enter my Jockey Sports Bra and Purex Crystals giveaway, just leave a comment on that post before 11:59 pm January 17.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

more than fifteen minutes

First of all, Teri Ann is the winner of the jelly roll to make my 30s Barn Raising Quilt and has been notified by email. Thanks to everyone who entered and to the Fat Quarter Shop for sponsoring the giveaway! There's still time to enter the Jockey Sports Bra and Purex Crystals giveaway, just leave a comment on that post before 11:59 pm January 17.




I've got actual time to spend at the sewing machine today, so I'm working on green Trip Around the World blocks for Quinn's quilt. I think I've finally got the hang of these. At first, I'd separate the strips in the wrong spot and have to sew them back together and figure out where I should have ripped the seam in the first place. Now I'm better at seeing what I'm supposed to be doing.

It's not hard at all, there was just something I wasn't seeing that finally clicked into place. I really want to make a multicolored one. I'm thinking of starting to cut and save 2" strips -- just look at this one with the green border that Bonnie posted. Isn't that gorgeous?

I'm also cutting triangles to make a scrappy Swoon block large enough for a baby quilt. I've been wondering how that would look ever since I bought the pattern -- and of course lots of other quilters have tried it. Take a look at these scrappy Swoon blocks over at A Quilter's Table.

There's so much fun stuff I'd like to get started on. Time to start thinking of my first NewFO!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Today is friday the 13th?

Yesterday was a rotten day. Not in a life-changing way, just one of those terrible horrible no good very bad days that happen to us all. A pair of glasses got broken. We had to throw out most of the contents of our freezer. While my husband and I were sorting through that mess, trying to determine what was still edible, my daughter's pet bird died.

I've been trying to get my fifteen minutes of sewing done early in the day, before life can start to unravel. That was one of my big obstacles last year -- I'd get upset about something and instead of quilting when the opportunity arose, I'd be sulking about whatever stupid thing it was.

Hospital billing errors and messed up freezer door mechanisms are just stupid -- there's no other word for it. (Maybe a couple, but I'm trying not to say those in front of the children.) Once they've been taken care of to the best of our ability, spending the rest of the day upset about them doesn't help anyone. I don't know if I can stop myself from getting upset, but I can try to keep it from sabotaging the rest of my goals.

I've got one finish to show off this week, a baby quilt that I used to play with a new free motion quilting pattern.



This post is linked to Finish it up Friday at Crazy Mom Quilts. and Can I get a Whoop-Whoop? at Confessions of a Fabric Addict.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Jockey and Purex Crystals Giveaway

A good, supportive bra is vital if I'm going to do much free motion quilting without killing my shoulders and back. If I'm quilting in my pajama pants and t shirt, that means a sports bra. So when Purex insiders offered to send me a Jockey Tech Terry sports bra and a bottle of Purex Crystals Tropical Splash fabric softener to review, I was thrilled.



The bra seems very well constructed and has wide shoulder straps. Narrow straps that dig are one of my pet peeves with many bras. This To my great disappointment, it didn't fit. I should've seen that coming -- after six years of breastfeeding, finding bras that fit well can be extremely tricky.

Because I couldn't wear it myself and wanted the opinion of someone who could, I passed the on to a friend who was equally impressed by the fabric and construction, and by the great support it provides.

Want to try the Tech Terry sports bra out yourself? Jockey will send you a 20% off coupon for their new sports bra.

I've got Purex Crystals in the load of laundry I'm washing right now. You just measure them in at the beginning of a load -- no little dryer sheets to try to remember later! They add a pleasant scent to the fabric and can be used in any washing machine, even my ancient one. I'll probably be buying these again, but I think I may try the fresh spring water scent next time.

Purex Insiders is letting me give away a Tech Terry sports braand bottle of Purex Crystals fabric softener to one of my readers. To enter, just be a follower and leave a comment on this post before 11:59pm January 17.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

every single day


That's the plan for 2012. At least fifteen minutes of piecing a day, every single day.

Set a timer and try it. You might be surprised how much piecing you can get done in fifteen minutes. This time it was five sets of six green strips to make blocks for the Trip Around the World quilt. The last time I worked on that quilt, it felt like it took take forever to sew those long strips together. (I think that's why I stopped working on it.) Three more sessions with the timer and I'll have those blocks sewn together and ready to cut up and sew back together.

Fifteen minutes a day of piecing, added to my regular quilting time, and I should be able to get a lot done. I know there will be some days when I just can't pull it off, but it's just fifteen minutes. I can find that time somewhere in my day.

One of the best pieces of quilting advice I read last year said one way to keep your sewing space organized was to use it. The times I've tried it, it really worked. If I'm using my machine, it isn't buried under a bunch of other stuff. If I'm working on a project, I know where the pieces are and what I need to do next. It's when I put things away for a while that I start to get into trouble.

Maybe if I can get up to do things the sewing room more often it'll help with that, too.

It seems like everyone is talking about free motion quilting right now. SewCalGal has her free motion quilting challenge. A Few Scraps is giving away a copy of Modern Quilting Designs. There's Focus on Free Motion Quilting at Sew Inspired. And don't forget The Free Motion Quilting Project.

I love free motion quilting, but I mostly stick to meandering. I can do spirals, if I remember they're an option. But there are so many gorgeous free motion options out there. I want to learn feathers. And hearts. And Baptist Fans...

And there's no excuse not to. I've figured out my tension issues. My knee is cooperating. I've got a bolt of batting.

My biggest obstacle now is that's it's easier to do what's familiar, what I know I can do decently. I've got to force myself to slow down and tackle something new, even if that means it's going to take longer to finish projects.

Trying a new design meant that I finished one baby quilt instead of the two or three I might've done if I did my usual free motion.



It's a pattern I found in one of my old quilting magazines. I'm not sure if I want to give this one another try or not.

This post is linked to Focus on Free Motion Quilting and WIP Wednesday And don't forget to check out my new pattern, 30s Barn Raising and enter to win a Moda Jelly Roll and the background fabric to make the quilt.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

loving our kindles

Jo from Jo's Country Junction and I have been comparing notes about our new Kindles. My older kids and I got ours for Christmas -- two Kindle Fires and a basic Kindle.

I'd been wanting a Kindle for myself for months. I'm homeschooling four kids. Lots of the books in our curriculum are public domain and wouldn't it be much easier to download them instead of trying to figure out where I put our paperback copy after an older sibling read it three years ago? I needed a Kindle. Just the basic one. For school.

And for times when my eleven-year-old asks me if he's allowed to read something like Dante's Inferno. I'm still trying to figure out the answer to that one. He is allowed to read it. I'm not sure if he's capable of reading it, or if he'll actually want to read it once he starts, but being able to hand it right over to him is much better than waiting for our next library trip.

Then I started hearing about the Kindle Fire and the things it could do and that was it. I wanted to be able to check my email while my daughter was at karate. Turns out the grocery store that I was sure had free WiFi doesn't, but that's okay. I can read books. Or play Hungry Shark -- if I can wrestle it away from the boys.

We've got lots of favorite things about our Kindles.

There's the shark game. Because I've got little boys and it's the greatest bribe I've come up with this week.

There seem to be lots of neat little educational apps, but I haven't had much time to really try them out yet.

There are tons of free books. Bonnie over at Quiltville posts links to free Kindle titles. How could you not want to read a book called Assault with a Deadly Glue Gun? A couple of months ago, I downloaded the reader for my PC and started downloading books onto the laptop. So I'd have something to read if I ever got a real Kindle. Then I got my Christmas present and started really looking for books to read. I'm not admitting how many I've ordered -- but what's free right now might not be free tomorrow, so if it looks interesting, I click. It's like queueing patterns on Ravelry. I'll read some and not feel guilty about the rest.

You can browse Pinterest with this thing. I no longer have to surrender my laptop every time my daughter wants to look for inspiration.

I adore old children's books, the older the better. There are a gazillion of those old girls series on Amazon for free. Sure, I'd love to have the old hardback copies, but these are books I'd probably never be able to read at all if I wasn't downloading them.

The lighted display. Years and years ago, I had a Rocket eBook. Of course it doesn't compare at all to these new Kindles, but I loved that thing. One of my favorite features was the lighted screen, which let me read one handed while I was nursing a baby in a dark room. These days, I'm not nursing a baby, but I've still got times when reading in a the dark will be a definite advantage. (If some drunk drives into a pole and knocks out the power, I don't have to go to bed!)

There are a very few things I don't love about my Kindle.

It's easy to make accidental purchases. I've already done it once myself by clicking in the wrong place. Amazon refunded my money quickly. I've explained to the kids that they need to be very aware of what they're clicking on and removed my credit card information from my Amazon account. Hopefully that solved the problem.

I don't love that all of the books I've ordered show up on all of our Kindles. (I've got the same complaint about Netflix and the queue and recently viewed titles.) The ultimate answer may be setting up a separate Amazon account for my son's Kindle, but I don't really want to go that route because if I buy titles for school I want everyone to be able to use them. Right now, I'm telling myself it's the same as having books sitting on a shelf.

If I was buying a regular Kindle for a kid and not worried about the price, I'd get the one without the Special Offers. My son keeps his WiFi turned off (to keep him from making accidental purchases and because the battery will go longer between charges), but there are constant prompts to turn it back on. And does he really need ads for tooth-whitening?

Oh, and my daughter is annoyed that the books don't have page numbers and she doesn't know how to enter them in her book journal.

Our few complaints are minor ones. I do wish my son's was easier to charge -- I have to plug it into the computer's USB port, then "eject" it, then hope no one bumps the cord or I have to start over... Anyone know if the wall charger for the Fire will work with the regular Kindles?

This post is linked to WFMW at We are THAT Family
And don't forget to check out my new pattern, 30s Barn Raising and enter to win a Moda Jelly Roll and the background fabric to make the quilt.

Monday, January 09, 2012

regrouping again

I don't like counting pieces of fabric. That's one of the reasons why I make so many of my quilts with 2 1/2" squares, so I can cut tons and tons of squares and use what I need and toss the rest into the box to use for the next quilt.

Orca Bay is going to involve a whole lot of counting, but I'm using every trick I know about putting things in stacks and pinning them together and writing myself notes. And sometimes you've just gotta count.



Not knowing how many strips I had was the biggest reason Quinn's Scrappy Trip Around the World has been stalled for so long. When I started the project, I didn't know how many green fabrics were in my stash, or how big I wanted the quilt to be. I cut strips from as many green fabrics as I could find in my stash, and the ones Jan sent me. Somewhere along the line I decided to make it 72" square.

Ever since, I've avoided counting my green strips. I don't know how many I started with, but I do know I've lost some. I wouldn't be at all surprised if there were some partially assembled blocks around here someplace, but if I wait until I find them the kid will never have a quilt.



My goal for Sunday was to figure out how many blocks I had finished, how many blocks I had started, and how many strips I'd need for the rest. And to count the green strips.

I have exactly the number of strips I need. There is no excuse not to finish this quilt.

I know I've made more bowties than this! I remember sewing them in fabrics that aren't here...and I very vaguely remember deciding to put the finished ones in a safe place.




To see more design walls, head over to Patchwork Times. For more Orca Bay and Bow Tie progress, head over to Quiltville. And don't forget to check out my new pattern, 30s Barn Raising and enter to win a Moda Jelly Roll and the background fabric to make the quilt.

Sunday, January 08, 2012

I just came down from the sewing room

I have got to stop treating my sewing room like a storage locker. If it was up for auction on one of those storage unit shows, no one would bid on it. Unless maybe they saw the tiki or Aunt Molly's steamer trunk. But the fabric and yarn stash is such a mess I'm not even sure I know what's there anymore. Was it ever really as empty as it is in those pictures?

Now that I'm able to walk up and down those stairs again, I am going to reclaim my room. The cardboard boxes are going. The fabric will be sorted into yardage, and scraps for quilt tops, and backings. Fabric that isn't suitable for my projects is going to find a new home. Whatever it is my daughter decided to store out there while I wasn't looking is getting relocated, probably to the attic.

I'll have to tackle it all a bit at a time, but that room will be looking nicer by my birthday at the end of March.

Weekly Stash Report

A whole week into the new year and no fabric or yarn has followed me home! To be honest, there wasn't much temptation to resist this week. I've been watching Craigslist for quilters who are cleaning out their fabric stashes as part of their New Years resolutions and there's been nothing.

Fabric Used this Week: 2 yards
Fabric Used year to Date: 2 yards
Added this Week: 0 yards
Added Year to Date: 0 yards
Net Used for 2012: 2 yards

Yarn Used this Week: 0 yards
Yarn Used year to Date: 0 yards
Yarn Added this Week: 0 yards
Yarn Added Year to Date: 0 yards
Net Added for 2012: 0 yards

To see more weekly stash reports, click over to Patchwork Times. And don't forget to check out my new pattern, 30s Barn Raising and enter to win a Moda Jelly Roll and the background fabric to make the quilt.

Saturday, January 07, 2012

I'm glad I can grocery shop

I've got a complicated love/hate relationship with grocery shopping. After the knee injuries and bed rest and not being able to drive for six weeks after the most recent c-section, I really appreciate being able to go to the store myself and pick out what I want. But that doesn't mean I always enjoy the process.

I'm glad I can grocery shop -- that these days I can walk to the back of the store where the milk is without worrying about how I'm going to make it back to the checkout line, let alone get to my car and drive home. And that we can pay for those groceries. It's been a long time since I had to shop with a calculator in my hand. But but after a really big shopping trip with four kids, I tend to wind up exhausted and determined not to go shopping again for as long as I can possibly help it.

This week, we had hit the point where I had to go to the store and do something about our pantry, which is far from empty but had lost its ability to provide meals for six people. If the zombie apocalypse started tomorrow, we'd have enough to eat for weeks. We just wouldn't be eating the same things.

It was time for a big shopping trip.

The grocery store closest to our house is kind of dirty. The selection is limited and prices for some things are almost double what I'd pay elsewhere.

The other grocery store in town is a big chain. It's nicer and the prices are more reasonable, but they have displays in all of the aisles so it's hard to navigate that store even without four kids following me. If something is on sale, they won't have it. Which wouldn't bug me as much if I was trying to get it at the sale price, but if I need that ingredient to make dinner, I'm out of luck.

So a trip to the grocery store starts with at least a fifteen mile drive. I know that if I go shopping after about twelve-thirty on Sunday afternoon, we're going to be there all day. Everyone goes to Walmart after church. What I don't know is why we spent a half hour standing in line at 1:00 Thursday afternoon.

I really wanted to say something to the woman in line in front of us. Her little girl, who I'm guessing was about two, was absolutely adorable sitting there in the cart with her sippy cup and Goldfish crackers. I didn't see how the crackers hit the floor, because I was convincing my own three boys that they didn't need Mentos or Tic Tacs, or little miniature Etch-A-Sketches. But I did see the mommy crouched down, trying to pick up every last one and then trying to console her wailing daughter.

I don't know if she was upset because the crackers fell, or if she threw the crackers because she was upset, but that little cutie had held it together for so long, longer than some adults in that store would've lasted before they started swearing and acting badly. I wanted to tell her mommy that, but first she was paying for her groceries and then she was gone.

And then I was distracted by the woman behind me who gave me a lecture about dented cans of green beans. I know that they'd make my family sick -- that's what I was telling me teenage daughter who'd run back to get the cans for me and somehow missed that one looked like it'd been stomped by an elephant. I don't think it would've made us sick. I think it might've killed us.

By the time we got out of there, it was too late to stop at the other store with the better meat selection and prices, so we wound up grocery shopping twice this week. And I still forgot the shredded hashbrowns I need for a recipie.

Better grocery shopping is one of my goals for 2012.

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

It's Moda Bake Shop Day & Time for a New Giveaway!

Finally, I can show off my new quilt! I'm so excited to have the pattern for 30s Barn Raising available for free at the Moda Bake Shop. The Fat Quarter Shop is giving away fabric to make the quilt top to one of my readers, so make sure you read down to the bottom of this post to enter.

If you haven't been here before, welcome to my blog! I'm Michelle. I love making quilts, the more different fabrics and pieces, the better. When I'm not quilting or knitting or getting excited about some other kind of needlework, I'm spending time with my husband and our four homeschooled kids. We've got chickens, geese, bees, and cats. We all love to search thrift stores and antique malls and antique sales for vintage treasures.



Now back to 30s Barn Raising, the whole reason you're here today! This is a slightly different quilt for me, using only ten different fabrics. It does have 900 pieces, and that definitely makes it my kind of quilt.

One Jelly Roll, a bit of backing fabric, and you've got yourself a quilt top. The whole thing is made up of squares and a few strips of background fabric, which makes it perfect for mindless piecing when you just want to sew without thinking about it too hard.



Want to make 30s Barn Raising in the same fabrics I used? The Fat Quarter Shop is going to give one of my readers a 30s Solids Jelly Roll and two yards of your choice for the background fabric. That's enough to make the whole quilt top!

To enter, just be a follower of my blog and leave a comment on this post before 11:59 PM January 11, 2012.



And be sure to check back later this come back later this month. I'll be having two more giveaways, one to celebrate my 1000th post. This post is linked to Can I get a Whoop-Whoop??, Finish it up Friday, Manic Monday, Show and tell Saturday, and Homemaker in Heels' Weekend Craft Soiree.

Do I ever have fun in January?

Actually, 2012 is feeling pretty good compared to the past few years. In her post for today, Coloradolady asks if we remember what we were doing January 4, 2006. I read it wrong the first time and thought she was asking about last year. This time last year, 2011 was just starting to fall apart. I can tell you even more clearly what I was doing on January 4, 2006 -- but maybe that's cheating a bit because I've got a lengthy hospital stay and emergency c-section to tie the date to.
I'm trying to be optimistic about this year.

One of my goals for 2011 was to spend at least 15 minutes a day piecing quilt blocks. Like all of my goals for last year, that one fell by the wayside quickly.

So I'm trying it again. Here's my first four days of piecing.



If I can get in my fifteen minutes tomorrow, I'll two little tops to practice swirly hearts on over the weekend.

Monday, January 02, 2012

vintage buttons in a vintage jar



We browse through a lot of antique stores, but I rarely bring anything back home with me. Mostly that's because I've been spoiled by Grandma for so long. All I have to do is mention that I'm looking for this that or the other thing and she can make it materialize. Like the first of the treadle sewing machines, which she just happened to have bought by accident at the auction a few weeks before I mentioned that I was looking for one.

This little jar of buttons, though, I bought for myself when we were in Arizona last summer. I'm not sure why, but it absolutely had to come home with me. I had it carefully wrapped, tucked away with the pots and pans we use for camping. And never managed to unwrap it until just a few minutes ago.

I'm betting that it was safer with the camping gear than it is where my boys can see it. So even though it looks very pretty on the fireplace mantel, it's about to find a new home.

This post is linked to Knick of Time Tuesday, Nifty Thrifty Tuesday, Tuesday's Treasures, Time Travel Thursday, Ivy & Elephants & Vintage Thingie Thursday.

I need something to quilt

It seems like everyone is talking about free motion quilting right now. SewCalGal has her Free-Motion Quilting Challenge. The PajamaQuilter has one of her DVDs on sale -- I'm trying to convince my husband to buy it for me for a belated Christmas present, but I haven't gotten an answer yet.

I was watching the trailer for the PajamaQuilter DVD on You Tube and stumbled across this video showing how to free motion quilt swirly hearts. I could do that! I just need something to quilt hearts on.

Which means making a new baby quilt.

I love these scrappy hearts, which I originally found in one of my old quilting magazines. I think this is the fourth time I've made a baby quilt using this basic pattern.



Four hearts hasn't been quite big enough for a baby blanket. Nine is bigger than I feel like doing right now. Last time, I added a border to bring the size up by a couple of inches, but I really didn't love that solution.

This time, I changed the size of the squares from 2 1/2" to 3", which brought the quilt up to just the size I wanted. I couldn't use my pre-cut bins of squares for this project, but while I was at it I cut enough extras for a second baby quilt. Part of me feels like I'm cheating by using bigger squares instead of making more blocks, but I want to try those swirly hearts now

To see what other quilters are working on, head over to Design Wall Monday at Patchwork Times.

Have you seen Bonnie's finished Orca Bay quilt? I'm completely blown away - and more than a little intimidated. If I hadn't started with clue #1, I'm not sure I'd
have the nerve to start at all now that I've seen the finished project.

I've got about fifty of the quarter square triangle units from clue #1 done, and a handful of blue squares, and one Ohio Star block. I think I'm going to try that tactic someone mentioned recently for dealing with UFOs -- do an hour of clue #1, an hour of clue #2, and keep going an hour at a time until I've got my own Orca Bay quilt.



Be sure to come back Thursday to see my Moda Bake Shop quilt and enter the Fat Quarter Shop giveaway!
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