Tuesday, June 29, 2010

free by the side of the road

I have the absolute best best fried. Yesterday, she met us down by the river and chased after my youngest two while I sat and babied my knee. Even with my older two helping, there's no way I could've kept up with the toys that the little two kept deliberately floating downstream and still been able to walk back up to the car and drive home at the end of the day.

All four of the kids were so worn out that they actually went to bed at a decent hour and stayed there. Not that I got to enjoy it, because I fell asleep on the couch a couple of hours later while trying to watch a movie.

On the way home from the river, we passed a neighbor's house and I had to do an immediate U-turn to see if I'd really seen what I thought I saw.

It was. A vintage (I'm guessing 60s) kitchen set with a table and four chairs. And my eyes hadn't played a trick, it really was child size. Needed serious TLC, but you don't find things like that often, especially not with free signs on them.

I don't have time to refinish furniture. Even if I did, I don't have a need for or a place to put a wonderful little vintage kitchen set. But I do have a good friend who might.

Sadly, in the five minutes or so it took me to call her and her to get here, someone else snagged them. Next time I'm going to have the brains to call from my cell phone and leave my daughter sitting on them. (To add insult to injury, they only took the chairs. I'd asked if I could have just the chairs, but the neighbor didn't want to see the set broken up, which I totally agreed with. Apparently the next people to drive by didn't.)

I can't find anything like it online, but it was a similar style to this full size one.

What I did come home with was this -

At the time, I had no idea what it actually was, just that I wanted it for my old farmhouse and that since it had "Westinghouse" embossed on the front it probably had some kitchen purpose in its past. Turns out it's a cabinet stand for a 1950s Westinghouse roaster.

Never mind that I don't have a roaster to need a cabinet for, I'm going to clean it up and either use it for towels in the bathroom or cookbooks in the kitchen.

And I did not hide it. It was sitting right on the porch for Bill to see when he got home. There's an interesting post about Secret Dealings over on the Curious Quilter this afternoon. While my fabric dealings aren't exactly secret, I try not to draw too much attention to them.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

adjusting my goals

This is how a lot of my UFOs happen. I'm going along happy as a clam and getting lots of things done and starting lots more things and then something pulls me away from the quilting and knitting and by the time I can do either again, I've totally forgotten what I was doing in the first place.

Usually, it's a vacation or a holiday or sometimes a disaster, but the end is usually in sight. This time... Well, I've got to be doing better by the second Saturday in July because my father plans on taking all three boys for the day and attending the Sisters quilt show without kids in tow is a dream I thought I'd have to wait at least another decade to fulfill. If I can't comfortably walk around all day...well I'm going to be optimistic and do everything I can to make sure I do get to go.

As for the UFOs, I think the best thing is to make a list of what I was working on so I remember what I'm so anxious to get back to doing!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Why can't these things happen ever when the dishes and laundry are all caught up and the shopping has just been done? But I suppose if they did happen then, the laundry and dishes wouldn't last. And if I'd done my shopping earlier in the day, I would've had groceries piled between the rose bushes with my car seats and everything else.

We finally got the van back. It took them three tries to get the bumpers to match the rest of the car. And I'm crossing my fingers and praying that they got the mechanical stuff right.

Having the van back meant I could go grocery shopping yesterday, two and a half weeks past the point where I really needed to do it. (Bill has been running to the store for me, but as much as I don't like grocery shopping with four kids, not being able to do it is worse.) On the way, we stopped at the quilt shop that I've been trying to get to for the past month.

I found some great greens for the quilt I'm going to make Quinn, and a couple of pinks that will work for a quilt of my own because the fat quarters are a dollar each if you buy them in multiples of five. I'm not totally sure if it's "quilt shop quality," but the price was right and it'll do.

The books were half off, so I picked up Eleanor Burns' new one. Ages ago, I fell in love with a barn pattern and searched out just the right reds. Now I'm thinking I might like these barns better. And the price was right. Now I've just got to figure out if I have (or can borrow from Mom or can manage without) the rulers I'll need.

When I'll do that, I don't know, because since our trip to Walmart I've barely been limping from one end of our little house to the other. Have you ever counted how many times you have to go from one end of the house to the other just to keep up with four kids?

Mom loaned me her darning foot and, although I've only been able to try a couple of spirals, it doesn't seem to have made any difference in the jackhammer sound of my machine.


I think I'd feel better about not quilting if I knew the machine was ready and waiting for me.

I do have this --

and this --

both from Mom, who knew how much I've been wanting to get my hands on a jelly roll and cut them herself from her own stash. The pinks are going to be (I hope) Hugs and Kisses. The other one, I'm not so sure about. I'm debating either trying Avignon Picnic or one of the patterns from the two Jelly Roll books I've got from the library. Same things I was trying to decide with those Moda scrap bags, but now I've got more fabric to play with.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

I fixed it!

My little yellow and white quilt top has been taken apart and put back together, this time with the right shade of white for the plain blocks. It looks much better, especially now that it's quilted and has the binding almost on.

The whole point of this quilt was to use up the cute old Raggedy Ann and Andy fabric I found at that rummage sale.

I've still got enough left for a second quilt, and a third pieced backing, but I'm going to wait until I've got the right fronts to go with them.

That's the good news. The bad news is that the Janome still sounds like a jackhammer when I try to free motion quilt. I've been piecing for weeks without the slightest problem, but it gets ornery when I try to quilt.

I've googled, but there aren't any obvious search terms that will get me what I want. I've asked on my favorite quilting list, and the best suggestion there is that I'm trying to move the fabric too fast and moving the needle out of position.

Maybe that's it. It does sound better if I concentrate and force myself to move the fabric really really slowly...but it's always worked before now. Unless the pain in my shoulders has me doing things differently without realizing it.

I've got a stack of new baby quilt tops and want to get them done. So I cross hatched one and stitched one in the ditch and I strongly prefer the ones with loops and spirals. So I thought I could quilt ten or twenty minutes at a time this afternoon as a break from gutting the pantry.

Because I've got to completely empty the room to make space for Bill to install my exciting new toy. It will just barely fit where the wooden shelves are now. I'll have to wiggle in past the furnace to get at it, but the promise of having all of the cans out of my awful kitchen drawers makes that seem like a small sacrifice.

I'm always trying to stock up on extra stuff "in case of," but a combination of the most poorly designed kitchen cabinets (I don't even have cabinets, I have drawers that won't open or close when they're full) ever and two preschoolers who refuse to be convinced that cans are not building blocks has been driving me slowly crazy. I think this might be the answer.

Ever noticed how many of the answers to your problems are at Costco?

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Learning Something New

I've heard that razor blades are good for ripping out long seams, but I never had the motivation to try it myself until today when I saw my little yellow and white quilt top in good light.

The white I used for the solid blocks is nowhere near the same color as the white I used for the nine patch blocks. If I'd cut all of the pieces from the same sheet, it would have been fine. If I'd cut them from any other combination of sheets, it would have been fine. Only one hunk of fabric was blindingly white, and of course I don't have enough of it left to cut the solid blocks.

I was tempted to toss the whole thing and start over, but the yellow fabric is good stuff and right now I'm stubborn enough to take the whole thing apart. Because, unlike the van and my sore shoulder and a laundry list of other stupid things, I can FIX this all by myself.

Recently, I stumbled across the Feeling Stitchy blog and the more fantastic embroidery I see there, the more I want to try some myself. Did you know that you can embroider on the pages of old books? I found a tutorial. And you've got to go look at this and this. How someone would even come up with the idea, let alone have the patience to pull it off... I really wish there was more explanation to go with it. They look hand stitched, but WOW.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

quilting helps

I knew that some quilting time would help my mood, but knowing something will work is easier than finding the time and enthusiasm to actually do it.

This afternoon I still didn't feel like it, but I made myself finish the last three rounds (I suppose they're actually borders, but I don't like borders and if it was a shawl, they'd be rounds) of the new blue baby quilt --

And I decided to see what these 8 1/2" blocks would look like set on point, which required making eighteen of them so I'd have something to to set.

I really do like them this way, and it didn't take that much longer than setting them in straight rows.

Now I'm piecing blocks for another idea I thought up while digging through 2 1/2" squares for those blocks, and another planned for after that...

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

stuck at home with my stash

A week later, and I'm still not back on track. I've sorted through some fabric and cut some new 2 1/2" squares, but getting the van fixed seems to have become my full time job. And I still hurt. So I'm still cranky.

One bright spot in my week was an email from CSNstores.com offering to send me an item to review. They've got two hundred online stores and sell all sorts of things, from lighting (Alex thinks we should get a solar disco ball), to toys, to housewares.

I've spent some time browsing their sites and found tons of possibilities. I could get a fancy new iron to replace my defective cheapie one, or a quilt rack (they've got several gorgeous ones to choose from), or some cherry red Le Creuset stoneware to go with our cast iron.

And it looks like I'll be able to do a giveaway in a couple of months, so I'll be able to share the fun with one of my readers.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

how things fit together

I've spent the past two days puzzling about how events fit together and how if we hadn't taken that hawk up to Salem on Monday I wouldn't have taken the van in for an alignment later that afternoon and wouldn't have solid proof that the radiator was really damaged in the accident two days later... but if I was going to have that much luck, why couldn't we have been somewhere else and avoided the accident completely? Or maybe my luck was that the boys were all sitting up straight with their seat belts in the right position and Mommy and Grandma were the only ones hurt when we got rear ended hard enough to push us into two other stopped cars?

My week is not going well.

Before things went to hell, I did stop at a rummage sale at the church down the road, hoping to find some cheap cotton shirts to cut up. I never made it to the clothing, because I found this yardage, which will be perfect backing for the baby quilts.

And they had boxes and boxes of quilting magazines for a quarter a piece. I got big stack of old Quiltmakers that I know I didn't have and some Traditional Quiltworks, which is one of my favorite of the older quilting magazines. Then they changed the price to a dime -- I would've gone back and picked out a bunch more, but I was running late and thought I could go back the next day. Could have, too, if I had a car and wasn't on pain meds.

Did I mention that I'm cranky?

As much as I want to finish Grandma's Donuts, I don't want to work on it while I'm dealing with the rest of this. So I'm starting something new.

When I was cutting the sheet into background squares, I made some mistakes that left me with long pieces the wrong size. Perfect to cut into 2 1/2" strips for another baby quilt like this one --

I've been curious to try it with the white and pieced strips reversed, to see if it would be any easier to put together that way. Pretty sure it won't, but it's a way to convince myself I'm not making the same exact quilt twice. I've got a couple of other variations in mind, too.

This is the first time I've mixed truly solid scraps in with the prints. I thought they'd stick out like a sore thumb, but they blended in just fine.

I think I've got two more white borders and a pieced border to do on this top. Then I've got yellow fabric pulled to make a simple Irish chain to back with the Raggedy Ann fabric, and I want to try setting some of those framed squares on point.

Nothing can be dealt with until Monday, so I might as well play.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Bill found an injured hawk lying in the highway yesterday, so we made a very frantic run up to town to deliver her to the raptor rehab lady. The poor little girl had fallen out of her nest and had a head injury. (And I'm sure it didn't help when a stupid woman pulled onto the highway directly in front of us and I had to stomp on the brakes, which jostled all of us.)

I thought about taking a picture, but was so afraid that she wouldn't make it to town that I convinced myself photographing a dying bird would be just too morbid. But after handing her over and hearing that she appeared to be in good shape except for the head trauma, I'm wishing I had. She was gorgeous.

And since we were up there already, we got the van aligned and went to visit the grandparents and stopped at the library and by the time we got home again I did not feel like working on the donuts.

I'm not sure that I ever do feel like working on the donuts unless it's 3am and I'm lying awake in bed, or I'm far from the sewing machine. Last night I didn't feel like doing much of anything, so I set the kitchen timer for an hour and made myself piece wedges. I got my ten blocks done. And seven more this morning.

Twenty nine more to go. I can do this.

I ran out of the white sheet I was using for the background, so I had to cut into another one. It amazes me how fast I go through this stuff. With that last barn sale find, I've got fifty plus yards of white cotton, but I don't expect it to last long.

Monday, June 07, 2010


It's actually starting to look like something. By the time I'm done, I'll have twenty of the large circles -- what happened to my not making bed sized quilts?

Now that all of my fabric choices are made, I'm wondering if I should've left the new ones out. I don't think any of them are glaringly different from the scrap bag fabrics, but it could have been all vintage...

Sunday, June 06, 2010

not an example of heirloom machine quilting

Eleven more blocks pieced and appliqued, forty-six more to go...

My fingertips are a little singed, my template I made out of "no-melt mylar" is bubbled and warped almost beyond recognition, and I'm at that stressed point where I know that this quilt should come together more-or-less okay, but I don't yet have the faith that it'll actually happen.

If I do ten blocks a day, I can have them all done in eight days. I can do that! At the very least, I can get all of the quarter circles pieced so I don't walk around worrying about whether or not I cut enough wedges. (I definitely did cut enough wedges, but some might have wandered off and that's the possibility that I don't like.)

I can keep going and get it done, or I can set it aside to work on something else. I really want to see what all of these blocks look like together. I want to see what it looks like when it's quilted (although I haven't tried free motion quilting since last time, when the machine made a jackhammer sound with every stitch and that's another thing to stress over!)

In between finger singing and slow zig zag stitching and bread making, I've been following links from the Process Pledge. I've always worried that showing pictures of the same quilt over and over might drive away whatever readers I've got. And then I wind up not posting because I've only got that one quilt to post about. Maybe I should take the pledge.

The Process Pledge

I've also decided that I need a dishmat. A donut quilt would be very fun. I want to machine piece hexagons, probably cut from my vintage sheets, and I can't find the blog post that I want to link to because it's where I got the idea, which is annoying me.

Saturday, June 05, 2010

"Who goes through 240 yards of fabric in a year?"

That's the gist of the comment that got me going this morning. Was twenty yards a month really that much?

So I did some rough estimating -- twenty-six baby quilts at 2 1/4 yards each...Seven yards for the madder snowballs....eight and a half for the blue sawtooth chain...seven more for the courtyard steps...another seven to back two tops I had already finished...a yard for the two bags I've made...

That's ninety yards so far this year, two hundred and sixteen if I keep it up. I've already taken some breaks, so it's not like I've been on an extended quilting binge here. My estimates were all low.

My stash suddenly feels a lot smaller, and I'm back to another question that occurs to me now and then. What would it cost to keep this up if I didn't have the thrift store bags? I could make some wild guesses based on the fact that I almost never spend more than four or five dollars a yard for my best fabric, but a lot of my quilts wouldn't exist if I hadn't had disposable stuff to work with, so who knows what I'd actually be doing.

It also makes me think that it would be interesting to keep track of the yardage I do use up. I seem to be using a lot more fabric than I would've given myself credit for!

Ten more blocks on the new quilt done, fifty-seven more to go. This is not the most fun project I've ever worked on.

Friday, June 04, 2010

All of the wedges are cut!

My goal, which I didn't really expect to meet, was to have them done by bedtime tonight, but once I got going again they went quickly. So now I'm piecing them into sections and appliqueing the quarter circles onto the muslin background.

I think the sheet I'm using is one from the barn sale, but all of those old white sheets look the same, so I could be wrong.

Thirteen blocks down, sixty-seven more to go.

Thursday, June 03, 2010


It feels like a very long time since I started cutting pieces for Grandma's Donuts and made a test block, but the blog says I've only been ignoring my cute little wedges for about four months.

It's not that it's hard to trace and cut them, but picking out the right variety of fabrics and making sure that I'm not duplicating them, or using too much of any one color -- that part always makes me a little crazy.

I want this quilt, badly enough to trace and cut the same shape 640 times. I can definitely see the appeal of those die cut machines! But I'm down to my last forty wedges, scrambling for those last few fabric choices.

The piecing, I hope, will go a lot more quickly.

And because I know I'll lose my magazine long before I'm done, here are the details -- it's the Grandmother's Donut Quilt from Traditional Quiltworks (Issue #30, March 1994), the finished quilt should measure 64"x80" and the blocks are 16" square.


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