Vintage Thingies Thursday - Lady's Needle Case

Welcome to Vintage Thingies Thursday, sponsored by my friend Suzanne at Coloradolady.

Sometimes I stumble up on the neatest things. And, because I'm not a nut for condition as much as I am for price, I manage to end up with quite a collection of items that are basically worthless, except as examples of how people used to live. This is one of those.

I found it at the estate sale we went to last week. It was in the powder box from the picture. There were a lot of boxes and each one contained one random item. When I opened this box and saw the needle case, I clutched it to my chest and didn't let go until it was paid for and in the truck.

This needle case is from the grand old days of needle cases. It's made of silk and has been secured to a silk ribbon. It originally had silk ribbons that would tie it closed, but those are very fragile and I dare not use them. It is as much a decorative item as a practical one.

So, let's start at the wrong end. It is on a pin so it can be pinned to the sewers clothing. Now, I find that to be a very practical idea because I am constantly setting my needle case down while I'm sewing and not being able to find it when I need it. It would also be practical for sewing in the car, which I do on all our road trips, even around town.

Next is a silk ribbon woven through a set of rings. Now, I imagine there is some significance to that, but if not, and it is purely decorative, then it is a practical way to secure the case to the clothing.

Next, there is a bow. This one must have been decorative and provided a way to mask the needle case itself.

After the bow, there is a needle sharpening "strawberry" of silk. I don't know how practical a silk strawberry would be, but I don't think this was meant to last forever. It was meant to be practical and decorative and done.

Finally, there's the case itself. Silk. Unfortunately, it is waterstained and I suspect had some design to it that ran when it got wet. But, in an abstract way, it is still pretty. You can see the wear on one side of the cover in the photo above. The other side of the cover is near perfect with the pink and green in it as well.

Inside is a sheet of felt. The puppy confirms this is real wool felt (she has a thing for trying to eat anything made of wool). When I purchased it, there were three needles inside. Two were very heavy needles. Not very long, but very thick. One was almost as fine as a hair. It was the longest needle I've ever seen that was so thin. In my hands, it would bend almost immediately.

It's interesting to see the things of old and wonder who used them. But, it's even nicer to see the practicality of an item that is so highly decorative and wonder if I could recreate that for myself. And, I think I can.
Here's my needle case. I don't plan to add the ribbon or bow, but a "strawberry" would be nice. And, maybe a little bit of a handle. I keep so many things inside that it's hard to close sometimes, but I'm figuring out what I can transport in it and what I can't. Bobbins of thread instead of spools work and I got a leather sleeve for my scissors so the point wouldn't come through the edge. And, the best part, men have pockets, and this fits perfectly into a pocket. It's really a small ladies' wallet that I cut the plastic license cover out of and added a padded credit card to hold my needles and pins. For me, it's an improvement over the old needle case, but I can still use some of the old ideas to make it even better.

Take care and have a great Vintage Thingies Thursday. Head on over to Suzanne's blog and check out all the other Vintage items that have been posted. Lane

Billy and the glove

I'll try to relate this story, just as it came to me.

William, or Billy as he was called, was 8 years old. His sister Charlotte was 17. Charlotte was growing up. It seemed like just a few weeks before that she was a playmate for Billy and a tomboy, scuffing her shoes and tearing her petticoats while climbing trees. Now she dressed like a lady, in pretty dresses and uncomfortable shoes, and hats with feathers, of all the impractical things. Tonight she was preparing to go with Mama and Papa to the opera. She didn't want to climb trees anymore and she suddenly ran from the frogs that were constantly in residence in Billy's pockets.

And, Billy didn't like it. Not at all. He missed having his sister to play with. He wanted her attention and was not above pulling a prank to get it. And, tonight, he had a plan.

Charlotte had a new dress and new shoes and new silver hair combs for the opera that night. She was so proud of how she looked. Billy saw her velvet cape and and the fancy new kidskin gloves waiting on the bed next to the special gardenia corsage, as she finished dressing.

Billy took one glove and slid it into the box that Charlotte's corsage was delivered in, laying it on top of the small tuft of wadded tissue paper. He knew she would find it again when she got home and returned the flowers to their box. But in the meantime, Billy would get to enjoy watching the frantic hunt.

Charlotte was beside herself. She searched. She dug. She tossed hankies and stockings and undies all over as she searched through drawers and boxes and shelves. No glove. None to be found.

Papa and Mama were waiting in the carriage and sent the maid up for Charlotte. "Hurry, Miss Charlotte. Your Papa is waiting", the maid said in a hushed voice.

Charlotte squealed in frustration and threw the one glove she had on the bed and ran down the stairs and out of the house, her skirts flying behind her and her cape crushing the gardenias. The carriage was waiting on the street and she had to cross to get to the open door. As she rushed into the street, another carriage came careening toward her, much too fast. The horse knocked her aside with his massive black shoulder and the carriage wheel struck the side of her head as she fell to the ground.

They carried her into the house and laid her on the sofa in the drawing room and sent for Doctor Sheffield up the street. Charlotte never regained consciousness. Her labored breathing stopped, just after the clock chimed 8:00, and a peaceful look stole over her face.

Billy was heart broken. No matter what anyone said. He would not be consoled and he would not speak. The next day, he sneaked into Charlotte's room and took the corsage box containing the hidden glove. He kept it on the desk in his room.

Once, his mother found it, and opening it, saw the glove inside. She thought it a momento and never thought that it was the lost glove; the glove that caused Charlotte to be late; the glove that caused her to rush into the street. She shed a single tear for the dear boy Billy was and the sentiment of keeping Charlotte's glove in the box her final corsage came in.

Over the years, Billy grew into a man. He was a quiet man, keeping his own counsel. No one knew why he stopped being rambunctious. No one questionned why he stopped playing pranks. Nor did they question why he studied so hard or did such good work on everything he put his hand to. They said "Still waters run deep" but had no idea of the burden Billy lived his life under. And, the box moved to ever less important places, finally ending up on the back of a shelf in Billy's armoire.

Billy never moved from Mama and Papa's house. Eventually Mama and Papa took their turns being laid out in the old drawing room and when Billy was a grown man and able to afford a family, he married and he and his wife raised two children there.

On his last day of life, Billy lay in bed thinking of Charlotte. He wondered what kind of mother she would have been; what kind of man she would have married; whether she would have been happy, or changed the world. His life had been quiet; devoted to making up for the loss of the beautiful girl who died when he was 8. He had established scholarships in her name and had sponsored art showings devoted to her memory. Always, he tried to make the world a better place. But, with all that he had done, his own wonderful wife and children included, he lived wondering how different the world might have been had Charlotte survived. If only he had not played that one little prank.

After his death, Billy's daughter, Joy, and his daughter in law, Sadie, were emptying the armoire. They came across the box, and though the tissue paper had disintegrated to a fine powder, the glove was still in perfect condition; as soft as the day it went into the box.

"I wonder what this is about?" asked Joy.

"I smell a secret romance" replied Sadie.

"From Papa? I doubt it. He never did enough to keep anything a secret. And, he certainly never talked to any woman other than Mama, much less have a secret romance with one."

"I want it! I want it!" cried out Anna, Joy's 8 year old daughter. And, Joy handed her the box.

Anna knew there was something magical about the box and the glove it contained. Joy thought her daughter would play with them both and that she would soon find them dirty and broken. What difference if they went to the trash today or in a week.

But Anna didn't play with them. She put the box on a shelf in her room beside a picture of her grandfather and over the years, it moved to increasingly less important places, as Anna lived her life and raised her children.

When Anna was old, and moving out of the house she had shared for a lifetime with her husband, her children came across the box and wondered what their mother was doing with an old box and a single glove. They didn't dare to ask because they knew their mother would want to add this box to the huge pile of things she "couldn't live without." So, they stamped it with a price and put it in the pile of things to sell.

I found it on a table with a $5 price tag on it. A high price for an old corsage box and a single glove.


Now, isn't that a better story than "I bought it at an estate sale and no one knew anything about it"?

Take care and have a great Way Back Wednesday. Not every good memory has to be true, does it? Lane

Some interesting estate sale finds

I love an estate sale. Especially one where I don't know the estatee. And, I much prefer an estate sale where the estatee is downsizing over a sale where they...well, deceased. That's pretty sad. Our next door neighbor's parents have moved into a smaller place and they had an estate sale on Saturday. We got there 30 minutes before it was supposed to start to get a little bit of a head start over anyone else. They had an antique dealer that came in and helped with the pricing so there was a lot left at the end of the day and they are thinking of having another sale with more negotiable prices. But, because I knew them, I wasn't going to haggle over prices anyway, so I found some things I liked and thought the price was fair and I hauled them home.

I got this book on dyeing fabrics and a little brass box. See how the spaces in the box are shaped? Clearly to make it easy to dig things out. Rob asked for that when we got home. I think he might put change in it.

I also got these nesting baskets, which I immediately came home and found a perfect use for under a sewing machine and filled with all my new quilting books that I'm still stroking and can't put in the book case yet.

And, I got this slop bucket. When I saw it, it was full of a matchbook collection. I asked them if I could take the bucket and leave the matches because I have a 12 year old. They were good with that. I asked Sydney not to carry it by the handle, so she clutched it to her chest and carried it in the house. As she put it down, I explained it's original purpose and that people used to poo in it. You never saw a girl run so fast away from something. It was one of those moments that makes all the trouble of parenting worthwhile...the chance to get revenge for all the attitude we live with every day. Don't know what the ultimate purpose will be, but for now, it's making a terrific trash can in the sewing room. Right now, it's full of thread snips that I've cut off the quilt that's in the machine.

o got a black padded desk chair that is very comfortable. As soon as I got it home, I took the arms off and put it into action in the sewing room. My old chair was a very old, solid oak secretary's chair. It creaked and moaned and with a really thick pad, it was comfortable enough. But, the new chair is more comfy. As I get older, comfortable chairs become ever more important. And, I can already tell I'm not as sore after a long stretch of quilting.

I got some other things that I'll show off during the week, including a really cool one for Vintage Thingies Thursday.

Take care and have a great Tuesday. I'm still quilting straight lines. I guess the thought that I was near through with them was more of a wish than a fact. But, the more I do, the closer I am to through. Lane

Green thumbs

Did you know that the term "green thumb" came from gardeners of old who got a nail fungus that turned their fingers green? Yuck! But, it was an easy way to pick a gardener out of a group. This year, we've enjoyed a lot of rain. A lot! It's bad manners to complain about rain when you live in a perpetual state of drought, so I'm glad we're getting the water. And, I can live with the yard being a bit mushy for a while.

This weekend, while I was out, I took a few snaps of some of the very happy green things in the back yard. This is out on the deck. We needed to get that fern out of the place it was and put it in a large pot as a temporary home. But, it loves it, so it's going to stay right there.

This is a group of pots at the deck stairs.

And, my monster mugging for the camera near the green house. Yes, that is the green house that I cleaned yesterday. After two days providing motivational speeches about middle school projects, I really needed some time away, so I sent Rob in the sewing room where the laptop is set up and I went outside.

This is why Sydney says my flwoerbeds are too green. But, if you could really see them, you'd see little red flowers and little purple flowers all around. That's enough for me.

And, this is the new bed. Most of what is here is still in pots. We leave space here for a few spring veges and fill in with beautiful flowers.

And, here is another little vignette. I get a good view of this spot from my tree swing.

And, another spot that all the rain has helped out. Those mums are going to explode in a couple of weeks.

But, this is my favorite little spot. I can't believe how huge that coleus has gotten this year. And, the mailbox is storage for a trowel, a pair of gloves, a pocket knife...just a few things that I don't want to have to walk all the way back to the greenhouse for.

Okay, so that's a walk through my back yard. I walk through it every day and just feel so peaceful.
While I was keeping the mojo flowing, I was quilting. And, quilting. And, quilting. I forgot how long it takes to quilt a queen sized quilt, even by machine. It's a slow slog, but eventually, I'll get there. And, knowing I can handle all that weight and do successful battle with gravity, which wants to pull the quilt and make the straight lines crooked lets me know I can hope to finish those other two queen size UFO's in the closet.
Take care and have a great Monday. After my Friday off, I'm feeling very peaceful. It was a nice feeling to walk into the office this morning and feel relaxed. I needed that. Even though there are enough emails to make me wonder whether taking a day off was the right thing to do.

Another giveaway and a winner on the last one.

Hi. Sorry. I've been away a couple of days. Everybody knows how life gets in the way! And, we've been busy. Thursday night volleyball was a disappointment. I took Friday off and quilted. Seriously. All day. Saturday and today were working on the two big projects due at school this week.

Between all those, I managed to quilt most of the straight lines in this quilt, I cleaned the greenhouse and cleaned up the flowerbeds. We went to an estate sale for our neighbor's parents (and I had a really good time. you'll see this week.)

I also got an invitation to participate in this really big giveaway at Charlie's blog, Qubee Quilts. It's been so hard to keep this quiet. Charlie reviewed the Accuquilt Go and the manufacturer liked it so much, they're letting him give one away. If you head on over to his blog, you'll find the link to enter the drawing. And, you'll see a jellyroll I've added to the giveaway; a set of darks and lights from each of the primary and secondary colors. It's my new favorite thing, I think. At least for this week. Anyway, head over, leave a comment and tell him I sent you. That will get you in on the drawing.

And, I had a drawing on my own blog going that ended last night to celebrate my first 100 followers. So, I know everybody else uses random number generator, but I find that my 12 year old is at least as random as any software could possibly be. So, without any prompting, I asked her to pick and number and she picked 11, Becky. Becky, I just sent you an email.

Okay, so that's it for tonight. I have several days worth of blogs planned and am going to start uploading some pictures.

If you're a new follower, welcome.

Take care and we'll see ya round the web. Lane


The White Shirt

I must have been in 3rd or 4th grade when this happened. I can't remember the beginning of the story, but the end of the story has stuck in my memory, even though it doesn't come up often. I pull it out sometimes, when there's nothing I can do about it, and I toss it around, trying to figure out if it changed my life, or if it was a predictor of who I was going to be.

I was in school choir when I was young. I actually had a really nice voice up until I was in my mid-twenties and let cigarette smoking take it away. I still think I have a nice voice, but Sydney tells me I sound like a cat in a blender...like I listen to anything she says.

Anyway, I had a speaking part in this particular concert in addition to being a part of the choir. I think it was a cmas concert and I was going to read the story and the choir would sing the songs. We were all supposed to wear a white shirt and dark pants to school that day. For some reason, I did not have my shirt. Don't know whether it wasn't clean, or my Mom had to go buy one, or she just didn't want me to wear it and get lunch on it. Regardless, I didn't have my shirt. The choir all went out on the risers in the auditorium. And, because I was in a dark shirt instead of a white one, I refused to go. I remember that there was quite a fuss made about it before the concert. When my Mom got there with the shirt, she brought it to me and I still wouldn't go put it on and walk up on the stage all by myself to take my place among the other choir members that were already up there. My Mom talked to me, my teacher talked to me, the choir teacher talked to me and the more they talked, the more embarassed I got and the more stubbornly I stuck to my chair, among my non-singing classmates, instead of up on the stage where I belonged. And, the more stubbornly I sat there, the more they pushed me to move. I doubt this whole exchange took more than a minute and a half, but I remember it as dragging on for hours.

I was too embarassed to walk across that stage by myself and I missed out and put the choir teacher on the spot because she had to find someone else to do the reading (I remember that she chose Lisa E.). I can remember that I was so excited about the concert and then so disappointed that I was not in it. And so embarassed. Such a confusing mash of emotions. And, I don't remember anything that happened after the concert, but I do remember being so relieved when everyone finally stopped trying to get me up there and just left me alone and let the concert begin.

This might be one of the moments that made me who I am. One day, I hope to understand the impact it had, if any.

This old memory, that I don't fully understand, came back to me a couple weeks ago when the volleyball jersey that I had repaired for Sydney came apart just before the game. I am so glad that she didn't let that jersey keep her from playing. I am so glad that she solved her own problem when there was nothing I could do to help her. I think the strength to persevere and play the game must be something inside her. I hope I had something to do with that. I hope I can teach her to go for everything she wants and don't let anything stop her, even if she's wearing the wrong shirt for it.

You guessed it. You can set a clock by it. It's Way Back Wednesday again. Take care and have a great one. We'll see ya' round the www. Lane


My teacher...

So, if you've followed my blog for a while, then you know that I am not a traditionally trained quilter. I have a mentor that gives me good guidance and I have internet friends like Bonnie Hunter and Leah Day. And, I follow Diany Gaudynski and read Harriet Hargrave to learn about their techniques. But, I haven't taken many classes.

The first class I took was a class to make table runners; twelve of them from a book, one for every month. I went the first month. And, I didn't care for it. That was a different time and I was a different person and my shyness crippled my ability to enjoy the comeraderie that came in the classroom setting. There were 4 "students" and the teacher. I had a 30 year old sewing machine that weighed two and a half tons and everyone else had a lighter weight, newer machine that just purred, while my bohemoth weighted down the table and didn't have the decorative stitch that the lesson was about on it. And, I was not comfortable sitting around a table with 3 older women and the young mother that was teaching. And, she wasn't just teaching. She was also minding the store and I think she had her youngest child with her. And, the projects were WAY too big for a single day and by the time we got to the hard stuff that she was teaching us about, the class was over. And, I didn't go back.

My second class was quite different, partly because I was quite different. It was in the evenings. Still just 3 ladies and me and a teacher. But, the teacher was much more brash and up front and she and I had become friends before the class. And, I made this quilt. Don't pay any attention to the really bad pics of the quilting. It's much better than it looks and it's still a UFO.

Anyway, the teacher was Mary Ellen. And, this is the quilt she entered in the show this weekend. Notice that blue ribbon. When we ran into her, she was so proud! She had a copy of the ribbon pinned to her shirt and she waved it at me and did a little dance. It was so nice to see someone I knew so happy.

I had the text of the placard typed in here and somehow, I lost it. And, of course, that @#$& autosave meant it was gone forever, along with the photo I uploaded from home and typed it from.
Anyway, take care and have a great Tuesday. Keep quilting. I think I might look into another class.


100 Follower giveaway

Well, I think it's time that I celebrated having 100 followers with a bit of a giveaway. So, I pulled out my lovely fabrics and I stroked them until then told me what I should do. And, what they thought I should do is give away this jellyroll of batik 2 1/2" wide strips, 22 approximately 44" long strips cut from 11 different batik fabrics. They also thought I should give away this Fons and Porter rotary cutter.

This giveaway isn't like most giveaways. I want to quietly celebrate the followers I have. But, that doesn't mean you don't have to work. You have to leave me a comment about Quilting, Parenting, Gardening, or Cooking...or share an old memory to commemorate Way Back Wednesday. Just a sentence or two, a thought to share.

I will not be reading your comments and picking the best one, so feel free to express yourself. No reason to be shy. But, you have to stick with one of the above topics. I will be using random number generator to choose the lucky winner, but I also would love to hear what's on your minds about my favorite topics.

Don't be shy. I'm hoping that some of my lurkers will finally say hello and some of my favorite friends will drop by to share a story. If you can't express yourself in a couple of sentences, then blog about it and comment below and I'll come looking for your thoughts. Or, you can always shoot me an email. But, to be in the drawing, you have to comment below and give me a way to find you in case you win.

And, if you're one of my followers that doesn't quilt, then you won't get the rotary cutter, but I will do something with the strips for you. Can't leave you guys out. Not sure what yet, but I'm pretty sure you'll like it...or you can give it away at the holidays and pretend you spent a fortune on it. Everybody's welcome, no matter what part of the planet you link to me from. And, you have to comment by 09/25/10. That's the day I'll draw a name.

Okay, so that's about it. Except to say thank you all for sticking around. It's been a rough summer and I hope I'm still dropping stuff out there that's interesting, at least once and a while.

Take care, have a great Sunday, and we'll see ya' round the world wide web. Lane

It looks worse than it was

You're thinking "What was he thinking? He needs more fabric like Erie needs more lake. But, it really wasn't that bad. All the large bundles of fabric came from the guild's boutique, so they were like 69" for $3.75 or 46"+ for $1.50. The rest of the fabric pieces were all on sale. I've got my good quilting eye on that turquoise and salmon bundle on the left. And, I can still add to my repro fabrics, even though I haven't started making a quilt with them yet.

I was, however, allowing myself tools and I stocked up on several kinds of hand quilting needles that the sellers bragged about. Can't wait to try them. The English needles I've been using are fabulous; really, they are. But, they bend after about an hour and a half of sewing. Needles are cheap, but not that cheap. And, I finally bought a wooden needle case. No more traveling with needles in a box intended for mechanical pencil lead. And, I finally got a real stilletto. I've been using other things for that purpose and have struggled. Now, I know it is a useful tool, so I was willing to invest in one.

I also got cheater needles to make it easier when I'm burying threads instead of doing dense stitching for knots. I buried all the threads on that fancy quilt a few months ago and threaded each pair of threads through a regular needle. It was a chore. Not sure how these work yet, but the man guaranteed me they would be easier than what I had been doing.

But, my biggest indulgence was that little spool of thread on the right. It's 100 wt silk and I intend to do a little wholecloth work with it and see if it's really all the Diane Gaudynski says it is. It was $6.00 for 250meters.

But, I will wait...No, I really will wait. Don't guffaw at me, please.

I have a triple irish chain quilt to iron and then pin baste this morning before the house wakes up.

See ya' Lane


Picking a border

Well, this is how we pick a border around our house. First, we lay everything out in the living room floor and we audition a ton of fabrics that won't work...see discard pile below.

After we narrow it down to just a few, we lay them out and everybody looks and votes.

And, then I sleep on it and make the final decision. In this case, it was black, tan or green. I dreamed last night that I used the green and I didn't like it. So, it was the tan.

Take care and have a great Saturday. Lane


He knows me so well.

Yesterday, I mentioned that one of Rob's older friends was moving from her house into an apt and was having a garage sale this weekend, and we were going. But, Rob, who knows I have no ability to resist a bargain or an antique and who knows Sydney is a beast if wakened too early on the weekend, had the wisdom to get a sneak preview, which makes it easier to squeeze in the quilt show this weekend. And, he knows me so well, he knew exactly what to bring home.

This is a meat grinder, just like the one his Grandmother had. The lady is trying to find the rest of it, she's sure she has it. Sydney has no concept of grinding meat, so he brought it home to show her how it was done in the old days. The sticks are knitting pins. Unfortunately, there's only one actual pair there, but hey, I think all these things were free, so I'm not going to complain about a great set of knitting pins. They're wood, but so smooth. It's amazing and I can't wait to try them out.

And, look at this little treasure. It had a broken leg and by the time I got home from work yesterday, he had it glued and drying. I think we've all gotten tired of me trying to keep the cats and dogs off my balls of yarn and this should solve that problem admirably. Just needs some cleaning and oiling.

One of the items he brought home was on the dining table and I thought it was a hat box. Hmmm. A hat box???

But, it's not. It's a sewing box. And, I have the perfect hand sewing project to put in here, soon as I get it cleaned up a bit.

He also knew that one of my favorite things is other people's recipes. We all have one. It's either a binder like this one, or a box of index cards. But what happens to it after we stop cooking? Well, this lady had hers in a bin of books for a dollar each. The binder itself has a stamp in the inside cover from when the lady was in a music class. She played the french horn...in the 30's!!!

The binder is packed full of notebook pages with recipes glued to them. Pages and pages of recipes. Last night, as I was flipping through, I had a fantasy of how Julie/Julia played out, where I made every recipe in this book. Most of the book is desserts...Yummmmmm. But, there are enough recipes for party foods and entrees to keep us eating for a while. Except they're all from the 50's and assume I have countless hours of time to prepare a weeknight meal for the family. There is even a cooking excerpt from the Corpus Christi newspaper that features 4 cooks and is packed full of recipes and advertisements from 1951! A stove, huge, steel, double oven, double broiler, four burners and a griddle for $250. Haaahaaa! And, Kraft salad dressing for 31 cents a bottle. Ham was 47 cents a pound.

This is one of the favorite things he brought home. It's a diary from 1937.

We know from cheating and reading the last page that she committed to write in it every day for a year, and every page seems filled in. Last night, I started reading it aloud. I think we're going to try to read the whole thing that way. Unfortunately, the lady's name can't be found yet. I'm hoping that at some point, I can find her name and if not, she lists the names of everyone on her cmas card list that year. The year starts with her on vacation to Pasadena, CA and she writes the names of every person she writes to, or sends a card to. She also includes the names of the people she is staying with and the people that "come to call in the PM".
It's very routine stuff, but fascinating to have this look into the life of a woman of the time.
And, Rob got himself some tools. This is some of them. He said she had a garage full of woodworking tools that he would have loved to have, but didn't have the room to store. Poor him. I get my air conditioned sewing room and he gets half of the garage as our creative spaces. And, we have both those areas packed to the gills with our own favorite tools.

So, you can see that he knows me well enough to know exactly the things I would like. Sewing boxes, recipe books. And, one other thing that I'll be showing soon. A hand made Crazy quilt, pieced with all the old silks and velvets and in fabulous shape. I only found one set of seams that had let go and one piece of torn silk. the embroidery work is fabulous; spider webs, flowers, an anchor, a cat's face, painted flowers on silk. But, I didn't have time to really look at it. We unfolded it and gave it a cursory going over and he explained the quilt's history, how it came to his friend and that it came from a well known Texas family. I'll be doing some research when I get ready to post it. Then, I wrapped it carefully in a clean sheet. For this piece, I will be investing in archival tissue and box. I am truly amazed at how lucky I am to have gotten an item so fine and in such good condition. I've only seen them with serious damage before and this one is so totally repairable. I just have to research how to repair it.

And, why didn't I have time to sit down and study every inch of a new quilt? We needed to rush to the volleyball game last night. Both our teams won. And, who scored the winning point? My widdle Sydney, that's who!!! Yes, they won their first game and the end was a real nailbiter, especially when we realized the final serve would be Sydney's. In just a few seconds, I envisioned how bad it would be if the game were on her shoulders and she didn't do well; how she would beat herself up and how hopeless we would be to stop her, despite protests of how well she had played the whole game. Thank goodness that did not come true and we're still celebrating and I've taken to calling her "my little winner".

Okay, so that's my lucky bountiful life for the week. Take care and have a great Friday. I can't wait to get to the quilt show tomorrow! Lane

That's not supposed to be that color...

So, when I first started working on my older machines, I didn't think I'd be able to find something as rare as sewing machine lubricant locally. So, I ordered two rather expensive tubes on the internet. And, you can see what the tubes look like. They were in their original packaging and I thought nothing of the lubricant being brown. When I opened the second tube, the oil and the lubricant had separated and came out as two separate, rather lumpy and at the same time runny substances. That's when I started suspecting something was wrong.

When I was working on my Grandmother's sewing machine a while back, I used the brown lubricant shown below. And, it just never quite worked right. Sure, it went in the machine, but whenever I used the machine, it sounded like it was in some kind of a bind and the motor was working harder than it should. So, I decided that if I thought the lubricant was bad, that was a good place to start looking for the problem. So, I bought a new tube at JoAnn's, where it is actually readily available on the notions aisle. Who knew??

This mornging, I opened up the plugs, pulled out the wicks (if you have an old singer, you know what I'm talking about. If not, imagine opening a small jar of brown vaseline and pulling out a piece of shoelace, a spring and a metal clip. Gross is right!) I cleaned the wicks, replaced them in the springs, inserted them and added the clips, filled the reservoirs with new, clear lubricant and replaced the covers. I stood the machine up, pressed the gas and it still sounded like it was working too hard...but only for a second. Slowly it began to speed up and the movement got smoother and faster and faster and faster.
Now, she purrs like a kitten. I'm thinking about disconnecting the feed dogs and FMQ something with her. Whoohoo! Way to go Mary!
Problem solved. Key lesson learned? Sewing machine lubricant, like sewing machine oil should be clear, transparent, almost invisible.


Roman numerals

Okay, this picture is just to show how resourceful I am. I needed a way to mark my blocks and was too lazy to go grab sticky dots, so I used pins and pinned them in in the roman numerals. Here you can see rows 7, 8 and 9. I started by using one pin for 1 and two pins for 2 and by the time I got to 4, I was ready for a new method...something I would think was more interesting. This is what I came up with and it has worked. Because the pins go through the fabric so many times, they are pretty much guaranteed not to come out.

And, this is the top, all joined together. I'll add a simple dark red border fabric and maybe I'll actually get it pin basted this weekend. I surely would love to get some quilting started on it. But, it's going to be a very busy weekend. We have a presentation on Venezuela for Spanish class, the Austin Area Quilt Guild show, and an older lady friend of Rob's is having her moving sale so she can move from her house to a small apartment. So, getting this started is kind of a low priority in the grand scheme. But, I can still hope.

Take care and have a great Thursday. Lane


Back to the basics

This is a good week for me to get back to the basics.

A bed quilt. That's where I started. I made three hand quilted bed quilts. Then I had a machine quilting disaster, otherwise known as a really big UFO. And, then I made Sydney a machine quilted bed quilt last cmas. But, this is a bed quilt for us.

Elizabeth asked what size the squares are. The individual patches are 2" and 5" squares sewn into 7.5" blocks. I worried about setting this quilt in an even number of blocks as I end up with a white block in two corners and an x block in the other two corners, but it isn't bothering me. I've been thinking of making a piano key border but will probably border it in a deep red to go with the room and back it in a beige print. The thread is a variegated tan to brown. In the white sections, I'll put something with four points that fill the space all the way out into the 2" squares; probably something where I use a plate and a compass and end up with a star...that's what I'm thinking right now anyway.

Wow, such a short post. No pictures. Very little of interest. That's unusual for me, especially for a Monday. But, it was a hard parenting weekend for me, trying to keep my footing while our daughter bounced back and forth between being a perfect angel and the fire breathing spawn of satan, risen from Hell with my demise on her mind. Okay, maybe that's a bit of an overstatement, but just a tiny bit. At least that's how it feels. I only lost my cool once, but boy when I lost it, I blew like Vesuvius, taking down everyone in my path and all I accomplished was getting to spend the rest of the weekend feeling like a fool. But, you know, that was Saturday and that day is done. All I can do is wait and see what kind of parent I'll be today. Maybe a hot molten ball of melted lava, racing down a mountainside with a child in its path...or maybe the little old granny from all the tweety bird cartoons. I figure if she's gonna keep me guessing, I may as well return the favor.

Take care and have a great Monday. Lane


New week, new quilt

So, this is the bed quilt 2010. I don't make one every year, but I love this pattern and as I got closer and closer to a finish as a leader/ender, I got more excited and finally had to take it on as a primary project and now I'm leader/ending a Linus quilt top as I work on this.
This is a Bonnie Hunter idea from her Leaders and Enders book; Happily Scrappily Irish. Add a border and 100 blocks should be perfect for a bed. I have two more of the 25 block squares to finish before I can call it over, but I've got 7 rows assembled now and can hardly wait to get it all together and start quilting. Something fun in the white blocks and diagonal lines in the small squares.
Take care and have a great weekend. Lane


Another game, another loss.

It was so hard to watch the girls play volleyball last night and see them lose, again. Unfortunately, the A team beat themselves. They are reluctant to call the ball and it ends up hitting the floor in the middle of them without being returned. The B team, that Sydney is on, showed marked progress since last week. They are getting better at calling the ball and more of their serves are going over the net. I have to wonder if the coach will start moving girls from the B team up to the A team in the next couple of weeks. She sure has some strong players on the B team, which I guess she did so they would stand a chance at competing.

But, besides the play, there was all kinds of parental stuff going on.

I got a text from Sydney yesterday afternoon that she needed me to bring TP's to the game. Then, I got a couple of follow-up texts about when I was going to bring them, so I was really hustling trying to help her out, even though it really pisses me off when she gets caught unprepared...I mean, it ain't like she ever skips a month, but what do I know. I'm a man. Anyway, I get there with them discreetly wrapped in a brown paper bag and rush to her side for the hand off and she screeches "get away from me. if I talk to you I'll get in trouble!" Yikes, talk about hurry up and get some rejection.

Anyway, while we were waiting on the A game to finish, she turns around to let me know that the jersey that I so carefully tried to repair last weekend has again split down the side and her bra is showing. Since I didn't have my handy roll of duct tape, there really wasn't much I could do and she started to tear up, which of course pulled at my heart strings. Especially since I couldn't do anything about it. But, she got with the coach between games and they worked out another shirt and all was well after that. And, it was good to watch her solve her own problem.

After the game there was the obligatory cheese burger bingefest and a long discussion about the game and while she was in the shower, the adrenalin burned off and she collapsed in the living room floor until bedtime.

Ahhh, the joys of parenthood.

Take care and have a great Friday. I'll be pulling another UFO out of the closet this weekend. I've given up on the one I was working on and allowed it to pass silently into the great void. It was still a disaster and I was not going to be able to pull anymore quilting out and leave enough viable fabric to make up the quilt surface (I estimate I've pulled the quilting out of it 7 or 8 times over the last two years). I actually threw away my first quilt. And, it was a very liberating feeling and proved that there is more than one way to get a quilt off the UFO list.



Bye Bye Birdie

This weekend, we watched Bye Bye Birdie on TCM. There's a song I really love in that movie, especially now that I'm a parent.

My favorite parenting song of all times is Kids, sung by Paul Lynde and Maureen Stapleton..."You can talk and talk till your face is blue! Kids! But they still just do what they want to do! Why can't they be like we were, perfect in ev'ry way? What's the matter with kids tooooday!" I sing that last part out loud to Sydney quite often; why can't she be like I was, perfect in ev'ry way... I'm sure there would be some disagreement with that if I ever sang it to Sydney in front of my parents.

Another interesting fact is that my cousin played Birdie. Jesse Pearson's mother was my Grandmother's sister.

Unfortunately, Birdie is all I really know about Jesse. The only other memory I have is going to the airport with my Grandmother to see him arrive for a visit. I was little, maybe 7 or 8 and my sister and I were dressed up to go with her for this important event. Of course, all I can remember from the day is that a cousin pushed me down in a mud puddle before the airport and the seat of my pants got dirty and my Grandmother brushed the dirt off with a hairbrush. And, I cried because I was a mess for an important event. That probably led to some shyness which helps explain why I don't remember much else.

I don't ever remember meeting the man.

I do remember when he got sick and came home to be near his family for the end of his life. I remember that he was in the hospital for a long time with cancer and that I wasn't taken to visit. I remember that he brought his partner home with him and that the partner did his best to make a life in our small town and interact with the family. And, I remember that there was much controversy about him being gay. I even remember that I asked one of my Aunts, when I was in college, if Jesse was gay and she said she didn't think so. I don't know if she was protecting me or just in denial.

I remember that there was great shame in the family. I also remember that my Mom told me once that at least Jesse had moved away so he didn't embarass his family. And, I remember that as the catalyst for me moving away.

I can say I wish I had gotten to meet him. Not just shake his hand, but actually gotten to know him. I know there was much he could have told a gay boy from a small town about what the world was really like. I'm glad that times are different now and that I don't have to share the same things with the young gay sons of my friends. I can talk to them about how hard it is to fit in, not about how hard it is to hide out.

I don't know if the Aunts talk when I bring Rob home. I don't know if there's great shame in the family when he's there. I don't even know if they know we're there. I know that for a long time I thought I was wrong and bad because of how the family felt about Jesse. After all, until I was 20, he was the only gay person I ever remember hearing about.

The irony is that parents still overprotect kids 47 years later. We're overprotective of Sydney, just like my parents were overprotective of me and Paul Lynde was overprotective of Ann Margaret. There must be something about a requirement that parents overprotect kids or it wouldn't turn up as such an overwhelming theme in theater and movies.

Or, maybe it's just that the line between protecting and overprotecting is so thin that it's easy to step over it without even realizing we're doing it.

Take care and have a great Way Back Wednesday. Lane


The OCD process

So, yesterday afternoon, I asked why I would be willing to quilt a quilt three times. And, now I know the answer. Several of the bloggers I follow have been sharing their processes about quilting, so I thought I'd share mine...which has much more to do with my OCD than my quilting.

Work has been very uncomfortable. I've been asked to step outside my normal comfort zone. I've dealt with difficult people and difficult processes and a workload that is overwhelming. The pace has been fast and the meetings have been plentiful. And, there's been school; back to school nite to meet the teachers, the stress of having to dig out the grain of truth from my child's nonsensical stories, my first game in the stands since 1985. And, that has worked my introvert self to a frazel. And, it has upset the apple cart of my compulsion to be perfect...or at least darn close to perfect.

So, when I pulled out that particular quilt to work on this weekend, it was with an overwhelming need to have some perfection, because my last two weeks had been anything but perfect. I knew exactly what I wanted to do with that quilt and it was a good plan and had a high likelihood of near perfection.

Two years ago, I would have taken out my need for something to be perfect on Rob or the kid, the most important people in my life. And, when one of them did something imperfect, like leave a piece of trash on the counter or something else equally trivial, I would have said angry and hurtful things because they weren't perfect and that would have made me feel worse because it showed I was not perfect.

And, the process went around and around; I'm not perfect. But, the therapist has been having us work on the process of handling our emotions instead of the words or actions we use when we're handling them. Now I can shut myself in the sewing room and grumble ugly words under my breath about how imperfect I am and shake my fists at my imperfection. And, that is improvement. I'd much rather quilt for two days and then rip it all out, not because it didn't look great, but because it felt rough and was not perfect.

At some point in the future, I want to change the process again so that I don't need something to be perfect when I'm under heavy stress and outside my normal element. But, for now, I'm going to celebrate the fact that I can lock myself away and deal with my need for perfection instead of expecting those around me to satisfy that need. Because we are many things in my very happy little family, but perfect ain't one of them.

Whew! That felt good. At some point of the morning, when I was still pulling out stitches, I realized all this and acknowledged it and now I'm sharing it. I'm hoping that acknowledging it as part of the process of dealing with my emotional discomfort will help me change the process of dealing with my emotional discomfort. At least that's what the therapist keeps promising. And as much as I keep paying her, I need to believe in her promises. And, it has worked this far.

So, I hope that today I have an imperfect day and that I'm okay with that. Or, that I have a perfect day and I know I'll be okay with that. Or, if I have a really crappy day, I hope I'm okay with that, too. Because these are the days of my life.

and, you know that when I finally get happy with that poor little quilt, it's gonna be darn near perfect. it might not have any backing fabric left, but it will be darn near perfect. and it's better to hope for that than to hope that my kid or my partner or I will ever be perfect. we're so much more fun just the way we are.



The dark red bedroom and new phones

I got a lot of requests for pictures of the dark red bedroom. So, here it is.

This is the fabric it all started with.
And, I made the comforter from canvas, so it will basically last forever. And, of course, every well decorated room needs a custom quilt.

Don't tell anyone, but I bought the house for these doors in the master bedroom. Made the roman shades and curtains.

Left side of the room.

And, right side. More shades and curtains. You can see the custom head board. The green barrelback chair in this photo came from my Grandmother's house and it's one of the reasons I picked this plaid. The plaid has the same shade of green.

And, these are our new phones.

Sydney has not stopped texting since Friday night. I think she's trying to further define "unlimited".

And, big old wierdo that I am, I've spent the whole day...yes, the WHOLE day ripping out all the quilting I put in over the last two days. I have lost the tension war. Better can be done with a better thread. Now, I'm trying to figure out what's so special about this quilt that I would quilt it twice???

Take care and hope you and yours have had a great Labor day. Lane


tension is a 4 letter word

Actually, it's a string of 4 letter words.

I started this quilt a couple of years ago and messed up the quilting in the middle section. It's been on my mind lately and it's technically a UFO, so out it came and I frogged out all the quilting in the middle and all was well.
Until I remembered why I messed up the middle. I quilted the stupid thing in invisible thread. Now, I do not know why I can't get good tension adjustment with invisible thread in the top and a very fine poly in the bottom. It's like the one combination that just will not work for me. But, the bottom thread is a dark blue and you can imagine how the bobbin pop-up broke up all that white...right.
Anyway, I futzed with it and worked with it and my machine and I drew some kind of a truce where there was just a little bit of pop-up and on I've gone. And, on and on and on. Hoping to finish it this weekend. Another UFO bites the dust.


First volleyball game!

Okay, so somehow we went from being a quiet, stay at home couple that spent time puttering around the house to sports parents in three years. Who'd a' thunk that I would be cheering at a volleyball game?

And, boy, what newbies we were. We both left work early so we could make sure we were on time for the first game, only to find out that they charged admission and we didn't have even a quarter between us. So, we had to leave, and because it was an away game that was so far away from civilization that they have to bus in the sunshine, we had to drive forever to find an ATM. When we got there, the A team had finished their first game and were starting the second. Of course, because we were new, we didn't know why all the parents for our team were sitting on the side of the opposition and we originally ended up in the middle of the opposing cheering section, which we quickly moved out of.

The other team was from a more affluent part of town, and it was obvious that many of those girls had gone to volleyball camps and/or had been playing for a lot longer than the average girl in our team. Their A team trounced our A team. But, Sydney plays on the B team and their B team and ours were much more closely matched and the game was very exciting. They beat us in a tie breaker game by the two point lead required for a win.

Listen to me talk about the rules...haha! When we walked in, I didn't even know what a good play was, except that you needed to keep the ball off the floor and in bounds. But, by the time I left, I knew a bunch of rules. This is the B team warming up. That's mine in the center with white knee pads.

Again warming up.

In the huddle.

Now, you're wondering why I don't have any pics of my kid playing. Well, she played in the second game and of course, that was at the other end of the gym from us. She didn't play long. Said she was too nervous when the coach asked if she wanted back in the game. Okay, there's something to work on. She has a strong serve and until she got hit in the nose with the ball, her head was really in the game. After the whole nose thing, she was kind of distracted and avoided the ball. But, I wish the coach had made her get back in the game instead of asking. You know how that getting back on the horse thing goes.

And, this was after we got home. You can see half of her cheering squad there. Now that he's seen her play, he has a whole coaching plan set up to work with her on. I think we'll be starting this weekend. That'll give him a new hobby. Unfortunately, I haven't gotten any custom made furniture in a while.
Oh, and 46 is not her regular number. Her jersey has a rip down one of the seams. She told the coach I can sew, so the coach asked if I could fix it. Well, yes, I can. It's a serged seam and I have a serger that I can repair it with. And, what stupid thing did I do? I offered to re-serge any others that tear this year. What a maroon! Sweaty girl shirts. Ewwwww! I draw the line at repairing spandex shorts, tho. No how, no way!
Have a great Friday. We're planning fun things to do and I think Rob wants to go to another city-wide garage sale, since I mentioned it the other day. Those are almost always fun.
See ya round the web. Or in the stands. Lane


Color and contrast, part 2

As I researched for the previous post, I decided that I wanted to run some of my quilts through the process to see if I had selected my values well and if my quilts reflected all three values, dark, medium and light.

Here's my triple irish chain. I made this quilt about three years ago and it is based on a pattern in a Fons and Porter magazine. Here's the black and white. You can clearly see the white, then a grey and a darker grey and a black. That's exactly what I was going for.

And, here it is in color. At the time, I was working with the three greens as what I considered to be the perfect three greens for quilting. Throw in a great yellow and it was complete.

This was the first kit I ever bought. In fact, it might be the only kit I ever bought, although I've been gifted a couple. Now, when I think of this quilt, I don't think of good contrast. I think that all the blocks just kind of merge into one another and the quilt, made of batiks and hand dyes reads as a batik or hand dye. The kit is Hip to be Square and I got it from Keepsake Quilting in about 2007. It was supposed to be pieced blocks alternating with solid blocks, but we didn't care for the solid blocks and made the whole thing of pieced blocks. (Yes, Rob is a part of my quilting and helps me to think through a lot of things.)

Now that I've seen it in black and white, I can see the contrast more in the actual quilt.

Here's my Storm in my Garden quilt, named because it is mostly green and brown. Look at it without color and you can clearly see the pattern, with all the accompanying circles and ribbons.

Put the color back in and the pattern kind of sinks back into the mishmash of colors used. This was a well planned quilt, meant to reflect the colors in my garden, including the spring blooms. Unfortunately, it didn't end up as well as I had hoped.

The last quilt is my Card Trick, Deal Me In 2. This is one of a pair of quilts. While I was selecting fabrics for it, my mentor sent me a box from her stash. I secretly cut from her stash and sent it back and then started making the two quilts, one from her stash and one from mine. Both were made to start in the center with the medium fabrics and move to the outside and darker fabrics. Both have the mock prarie point border and they are quilted just alike.

See how one of those center fabrics blends in with the background? That doesn't happen when you get to the color photo.

Here is the actual quilt. When I showed her my quilt, it was in a pile of quilts I had taken to show her. She just ooh'ed and aah'ed over it, and I flipped to the next quilt, which had the label corner turned up and she could see that the quilt was made for her. Brought a tear to her eye. That's a happy memory. It hung at her office for several months.

Okay, so that's a review of what I've learned about color and contrast. Thanks to my Mentor and to all the authors of books that I've read on the subject. Thanks to Rob for keeping a watchful eye and helping keep me away from all dark quilts. And, thanks to value because it keeps doing all the work, even though color gets all the credit.

Take care and have a great Thursday. Lane