Thursday, September 30, 2010


The top is together and not a minute too soon! Now that it's more than a stack of uneven blocks, I have more faith that it'll all work out in the end. I've got a couple of backing fabrics to choose between, then it's on to the quilting. On my Janome, because there's no way I'm trying to square this up for the longarm. Thin batting because the top alone is heavy.

This is the type of quilt that makes my heart go pitty-pat. A single page of extremely vague instructions and lots and lots of scraps. I didn't cut more than eight wedges of any single print, so there are more than eighty different fabrics here.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

headed for disaster

My own personal train wreck is getting closer and closer.

These donut blocks are not square. Or the same size. They aren't flat either. I've known this for weeks, but now it's time to actually actually get it together and stippled to within an inch of its life.

My goal was to see if I could actually trace and cut 640 little wedges and get them together into a pretty utility quilt. I'm soooo close to pulling it off. I should've had the top together months ago. I'm tired of waiting.

Wish me luck!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

What sound does a unicorn make?

My littlest boy was drawing pictures this morning. He'd draw something, show it to me and either proudly tell me what it was or why it had gone wrong and that he needed another sheet of paper. When he got to the unicorn at the end of the rainbow, I asked him what sound unicorns make.

You know that Mom-is-so-stupid look that your children will give you when you ask them something obvious?

"Unicorns go BING when they're fighting with their spiky things."

Silly me, I thought unicorns probably sounded something like horses.

I'm obviously not the creative one around here anymore. It's starting to scare me just a little.

By the skin of my teeth, I managed to accomplish my goal for the week and get the last of the Grandma's Donuts blocks appliqued. I could've had them done much earlier, but I'm still spending my free time curled up in the corner of the couch knitting hats and booties. The only reason I got them finished at all was so that I post that I met my goal instead of posting that I'd spent the week avoiding it.

Next week's goal is to get the blocks squared and assembled into a top. And to get the binding for my courthouse steps quilt sewn down.

Friday, September 24, 2010

I'm jealous!

Today was one of those days that you know well in advance is going to be a total mess. Two doctor's appointments, four hours apart and in two different cities, with four kids in tow. Under the best of circumstances, I dread the doctor's office. Too many bad things tend to happen there, especially when I'm not expecting them.

Because we were going to be out and about anyway, I checked Yardsale Treasure Map for fabric and yarn. I'm always intrigued by the ads that start "Estate of ---- " Is that a new thing, or just something they do down here? Is it advertised that way so that someone who's always envied her china or furniture can swoop in and buy it now that she's dead?

Edna G's estate was a treasure trove and they were trying to sell absolutely everything. I thought I'd seen it all, but today was the first time I've seen home canned peaches and other unidentifiable fruit priced for sale.

My first thought was "Who would be crazy enough to buy food preserved by a complete stranger at some unknown date?" But then I decided that it was soooo cheap and those peaches were so pretty I could see someone buying it to use as decoration on a kitchen shelf.

I bought myself a three dollar apron --

Who could leave those smiling flowers behind? And it's cut wide enough to actually fit me well!

I also found a fantastic overnight bag for a buck.

I've got a strong feeling that my father's mother had one just like it. Now I'm wondering if she actually did have one that I saw as a child, or it's just from her time period.

I also brought home some vintage sheets and slips for a dollar each and I'm sure I walked past quite a few other things that I should've picked up, but that house was soooo crowded with people who had no intention of letting anyone slip past them into other rooms.

I thought I'd done well, until Mom called to see if by any chance I was anywhere near Bend. Because Joann's is going out of business (they've got a new location across town) and all of their Keepsake Calico and quilting fabric was 90% off of already reduced prices.

I'm SO jealous! Not that I don't have fabric of my own, but sixty cents a yard for brand new fabric right off the bolt?! If I didn't have a husband to explain things to, we would've been in the car driving the hundred plus miles to see what was left.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Do you keep spares?

Just in case you haven't tried it yourself, throwing your rotary cutter against the table so hard it ricochets up and across the room will not make the damn thing work any better.

I've got a bit of time to sew, I've got my machine back and working properly, I actually brought new blades for the rotary cutter home with me, and now the cutter won't stay together. And I can't find the other one and I really don't want to use the itty bitty one.

Is there some nasty evil conspiracy to keep me from quilting? I'm not quite desperate enough to drive thirty miles round trip in hopes that Walmart sells them, but it does make me miss living within five miles of Joann's and Hancocks and Michaels and Craft Warehouse and two yarn shops. That's absolutely the only thing I could possibly miss about the old place!

Because everything is so far away, I try to make sure I've always got pins and batting and extra machine needles and thread. And I almost bought another rotary cutter a couple of months back because it was on sale and had pretty vines on the handle. But I convinced myself that I didn't need it.

Stupid no-buy!

Do you make sure to always keep certain notions and supplies in the house?

Because my sewing has gone by the wayside lately, I'm setting a weekly challenge for myself. Nothing as ambitious as the ten baby quilts in ten days plan, just reasonable goals to finish (or start) things I haven't been getting to.

Last week's goal, which I never got around to posting about, was to see how many hats and booties I could knit from my yarn bag by the couch. I haven't counted yet, but I got quite a few done before a headache laid me low for two days.

This week, the plan is to get the last twenty-nine Grandma's Donuts blocks appliqued. I'd like to get the top assembled, but squaring up the blocks is going to require a decent rotary cutter.

Saturday, September 18, 2010


Last year, when I was waiting for our homeschool curriculum to arrive in the mail, all that was delivered was a paper label with my address on it. The books themselves never did show up, but we finally got a refund (thanks to ebay's resolution center) and found another set to buy a couple of months later.

The year before that, we splurged on new books direct from the publisher. Which Fed Ex couldn't quite manage to deliver, so I had to drive a hundred miles round trip to pick them up from Fed Ex myself.

This year's package was sent insured and with tracking and I've been obsessively checking the USPS site to because I'm getting a bit paranoid about this whole thing. Yarn....fabric... nothing else I order through the mail goes missing. Just our schoolbooks.

I shouldn't have been at all surprised when I checked the tracking page and saw that that this year's books were delivered to the post office box we closed three months ago. (But I would like to know how that happened when I changed my address with paypal and ebay before even bidding on the items.) After a frantic call to the old post office, we were in the car and on the way to get our books.

They would've saved them until our regular errand day, or forwarded them down here for another twenty dollar charge, but I wasn't giving that box any chances to go farther astray than it already had.

Now they're safely in my living room and I can breathe again. Alex has sorted through them, read the descriptions, and decided that this is the best core so far. I haven't even looked except for making sure that they're in decent enough shape.

The cute little bookmarks are at the top of the post are free printables from Wild Olive, available here and here. Because who can resist smiling bacon or a smiling pickle? I didn't have any magnetic tape (and this whole working-from-my-stash thing keeps me from buying any), so I cut them out and ran them through the laminator I got at Costco a few weeks ago. The boys love them, so I think I'm going to need to make a second batch of these!

Thursday, September 09, 2010

things that make my heart go pitty-pat

Someday, I would love to tackle the applique patterns at Bee in my Bonnet. I just need to learn to do better applique and save my pennies. And make up my mind which of her patterns I love the most. I thought I had the decision down to either Grandma's Kitchen or Woman's Work, but now she's got a new one, Paper Dolls, that I might love just as much --

Aren't all of those little details fantastic? The mixer...and the suitcase...and the marshmallow roasting stick...and the umbrella...

To celebrate the release of the pattern, she's having a giveaway. Which I've entered, because I really would love to have one of those patterns, even if it's just to look at and dream about until I'm ready to actually tackle it.

More realistically (slightly), I'd like to find some small pumpkins and paint houses on them to do something like this for our fireplace mantel. Because if I had a tall skinny bookshelf it would be too full of schoolbooks to make the tree.

And I'd like to get a Skillbuilder Quilt Panel like the one that Angie at Timber Hill Threads just finished. I almost bought one last summer, but the shop only had one left and my mother got to it first.

Now that I'm actually doing more machine quilting, I think I could learn a lot from one of those. Or something like it. I know there's a sampler pattern in one of the quilting books I keep checking out from the library.

There's a great post over on Indietutes about doing it all at once, five minutes at a time. That's exactly how I need to be doing things this week.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

I Hate Math

Can't say it within earshot of my kids, so I'm gonna say it here. I hate math!

Not so much that I won't draft a quilt block or calculate how to change a sweater pattern enough to match whatever gauge I'm getting, but teaching my four kids may be the end of me. Especially when the only answers to "When am I going to need this?" are "To pass a standardized test" or "When you're homeschooling your own kids and teaching them so they can pass a standardized test."

The back-to-school thing has hit me like a ton of bricks this year. Usually, we do school all year and, except for great sales on paper and crayons, September isn't anything special. But with my knee and the related chaos, we took the summer off this year -- and then didn't even get to enjoy the long vacation.

I will not do that again.

I've almost, but not quite, convinced myself that getting the two older kids through their schoolwork every day counts as enough of an accomplishment and I don't need to feel any not-quilting guilt.

But I really want to sit down at the sewing machine. Just as soon as my headache fades a little more and I get a few more minutes of sleep.

This quilt, which we saw at an Oregon Trail information center on the way back from the trip, has me all inspired --

Part of me wants to make a big reproduction to snuggle up in, and part of me wants to use those hollow sawtooth stars to make another scrappy little sawtooth chain.

And part of me wants to start another Bullseye quilt because I can't have this one --

I don't buy a lot of quilts, because I always convince myself that it's like buying a puzzle someone else has already finished and then sealed with that protective glue stuff. I'd rather buy the fabric and have the fun myself.

But this quilt screamed at me to snuggle up in it. I think I might've wrapped it around my shoulders for just a moment even though Grandma had bought it in a box at the auction and I wasn't sure where it had been. The backing was a soft yellow floral, and the quilting was this fantastic micro-stipple with a spiral inside the circles... The only thing I would've done differently was to leave off those borders. I don't do borders.

Grandma wasn't home (but I had specific permission to go dig out those quilts and take a look while Bill and the kids were visiting Grandpa), so I didn't get a chance to ask her what she planned to do with the quilt until after our trip.

And by then Mom had seen it and now it's Mom's quilt.

It's not like I can't make my own. Or like I hadn't already actually started my own two years ago. Wonder what the odds of finding those blocks are...

Probably better to start a new one. And I've even found a pattern.

Monday, September 06, 2010

and I still haven't quilted

The sewing machine is back in its spot, the table is clear except for a stack of school books at the far end, most of the things on my to-do list that could be done today are done....

And I'm not quilting because I'm suddenly annoyed by the mess that piled up while my sewing machine was gone. And in the two months before that when I wasn't sewing.

The big mystery is why I'm suddenly so unable to work in my usual clutter. I blame the cold I've been fighting and lingering exhaustion from the trip. Seriously, how many full nights of sleep does it take to catch up?

I did try out the machine for a few minutes yesterday, just long enough to verify that I could've quilted something real today. I did some of the practice work from the Free Motion Quilt Along. And then tried one of the loopy flowers from Oh Fransson that I found and fell in love with while the machine was gone.

I did get all of my baby hat yarn together in the pomegranate bag I finally bought with the groceries after months of wanting one. Two new little projects are cast on so I won't have to count before I knit, and the three patterns I'm using are laminated on one big sheet so maybe they'll be a bit harder to lose.

On the way home from the trip, we stopped at a junk store to window shop and stretch our legs. Before we even got out of the car, DH pointed out that we didn't have room in the car to bring anything home. Not a problem, since we rarely buy anything at those places anyway.

But then he found me a sewing machine, an old singer with a neat case and fancy decals buried under a heavy layer of dirt. I couldn't tell how much TLC it would take to get it sewing again, but now I'm thinking maybe I shouldn't have resisted so hard. He's never bought me a sewing machine before.

He did buy me this thing, which I found and fell in love with.

The original price tag on the bottom confirms that it's definitely not old, but I like the way it looks and think it'll be good for stuffing notions into. One drawer is already stuffed with my new stash of rick rack and another is crammed tight with the fifty-one zippers I brought home from a yard sale before the trip.

The woman seemed absolutely shocked that I wanted all of them, but at five for a quarter, I wasn't going to stand there and carefully pick and choose. She didn't want to count them either, so I got all fifty-one for two dollars.

Will I ever use them all? Maybe, maybe not. I've wanted zippers for some of my bags but been too cheap to buy them. Odds are good that something in this tangle will work for the next project that screams "I need a zipper!" Unless I really want to invest in the perfect length and color.

Sunday, September 05, 2010

now it's time to get back to normal

We've been on the road again. This time, we drove from Oregon to Mount Rushmore and back in five days. Amazingly fun, but even after a day at home to catch my breath, I'm so exhausted I can't even begin to describe it.

See that animatronic dinosaur? Even when it was just moving its head from side to side and blinking, Leif was backing away and hiding behind me and his big sister. When it started to actually roar and lean forward a bit, he didn't want anything more to do with it. I can't quite decide whether he's really scared or enjoys playing at being scared. Either way, it's cute to watch.

We didn't get to walk around the base of the Devil's Tower. Or do more than one short trail at Yellowstone (no great tragedy because we've been there at least ten and probably more like fifteen times and I'm sure we'll be there again soon.) And I kept having to remind my husband that if I walk fast to keep up with him, I won't be walking the next day. Have I mentioned how frustrating this is?

I kept waiting for my cell phone to ring so I could find out what was wrong with the Janome and what it would cost to have it fixed. It never rang.

When we got home, there was a message on the machine that it was ready for me to pick up and there hadn't been anything wrong with it. Supposedly, the noise was in the free motion foot, which just needed to be oiled, but I've got a bad feeling about this. If my foot was the only problem, why didn't Mom's Janome foot make it work?

They checked the timing and needle position and a whole laundry list of other things, so I'm hoping that it really will work now. If it doesn't, I'm going to throw a fit. Or sob in the corner.

I think I'm going to dig out scome scungy fabric and try the practice stitching from the Free Motion Quilt Along just to see if things are okay. Or thread the machine with a wild color and just sew over the quilt sandwich that came home in the machine. Because even though I know practice sandwiches are important, I hate wasting the batting.


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