The Good, The Bad, and the Change

Lately the tone of my blog has changed. Where I used to focus on my quilting, now I focus as much on myself, my fears, my parenting as I do on my interests.

Now, that's been both good and bad. I have loved the reinforcement and encouragement that I have gotten from my readers.

But, it's gotten a bit much.

For one thing, like my real life, it's gotten a bit "Sydney heavy". It was never meant to be a parenting blog. And, that's caused it's own share of issues. I read a blog post yesterday about a blogger that will not post pictures of her children for fear they'll be used for something bad. My first thought on that was that we can't live in fear of the bad people out there. We have to stand up for what we want as well, or the bad people win. But, after I thought about that, I thought about how freeing it would be to focus on my favorite pastime, quilting, and expand that to sewing in general. But, keep Sydney as a background bit player; a member of the chorus line, if you will, which is her actual position relative to my quilting, if not relative to my real life.

Likewise, I don't want my blog to be about venting about how hard work is and how stressed I am about it. My blog needs to be a place to get away from those things, not to further my internal dialogue about them. Good greif! I spend enough time thinking about that junk without thinking how to put it in words that don't make me sound like a big whiney baby.

My blog is called "That Man Quilts?" And, I originally set out to talk about "that man", me, and about quilts so I could promote the inclusion of men into the art. And, now that I'm sewing some clothes, I want to expand it to how "that man" makes some clothes. And, I have to indulge my other favorite hobby, gardening.

I'll also talk about the stuff that keeps me from doing those things; like painting the kitchen, or setting up the sun room as a great place to sit and sew or helping Sydney with her math. But, my blog is not my diary and I don't want it to focus on those distractions.

Dear Diary, Sydney was mean to me this morning...again. I'm afraid of the dentist. I'm tired of the stress of my job.

While those things are happening to me, they aren't what I want to talk to the world at large about.

I'd rather tell you about Sydney sewing on my Grandmother's Singer 15-91, which means that 4 generations have sewn on that machine; my Grandmother, my Mother, myself, and my Daughter. Now, isn't that a nice story? I could also talk about how I took the tension from that machine completely apart and put it back together so that now, it sews like a charm, with no puckering. Or, I could tell you about the bobbin case for my Singer 301 that I had taken apart and put the two screws back into the wrong holes. And, how I fought tension problems for two months before I realized what I had done. You know I love talking about my Linus quilts and how I'm progressing at making a quilt a month to donate. And, I'm a big ole' braggart when I want to show off my "fancy quilting" skills, or a pattern I've come up with. And, I like to show off my knitting and my crochet, when I can make time for them.

In short, I want my blog to be about what interests me, not about my real life. There is altogether too much reality in the world to suit me and I don't need to contribute to it. Oh, I'll still pepper the blog with posts about my childhood memories, and I'll still share a recipe once in a while. But, I want to talk about the things that interest me, not the things that are happening to me.

So, if you want updates on the kid, you'll still get them, but hopefully in a more positive light. Because every day is a challenge, but overall, we are doing a fine job. And, telling about what happens every day doesn't show that accurately. You have to see her long term accomplishments to see how well she's doing. The rest is part of being 13 and short of a parenting textbook, probably doesn't deserve to be recorded. Everybody went through about the same thing at 13 and pretty much, it sucked for us all. Now it's her turn and she's not going to want to read about my perspective on it when she's 49 and realizes what it was like. Because if this child was my genetic offspring, she could not be more like me and I'm not sure I would want to read about the hell I put my Mom through 36 years ago.

On that note, let me leave you with some eye candy.

This bedsized quilt was made for me by my great grandmother. We lived near a double knit mill when I was a child and you could get huge bags of scraps for practically nothing. This is how she used them. She made quilts for people all over and she used this pattern many times. It strikes me as a variation of a string quilt, where all the strings are really wide so that there aren't many in a block. She pieced on an old black electric machine that took up most of her living room, but I can't remember if it was a Singer. And, she could still piece when she was too old to see details and too old to hand quilt what she had pieced. She sent this to the ladies at the church and they hand quilted it for her. And, because I had shown an interest in her quilting, she gave it to me.

This is a holiday drunkard's path quilt that is in a box, waiting for me to get back to it. So far, it's all hand pieced and I'd planned to hand quilt and bind it. I went from no finger work last year to too much finger work this year, so I'm giving myself permission to finish it on the machine if I want. I think I got bored with the finger work on this project after I had hand pieced all those drunkard's path blocks. Love this fabric collection, but can't remember the name. I did find a piece big enough to use as borders and backs on half price sale a couple months ago and snatched it up.

And, this is my version of a storm at sea. I used mostly greens and browns and I call it Storm in my Garden. I didn't care much for this quilt when I finished it, but we hung it in the living room and it has grown on me. It's hard to see quilting in a photo, but the machine quilting on this is wonderful and the few bright colors are a great representation of the flowers I grow in my garden, yellow-gold daylilies, pink phlox, blue plumbago.

I don't know about you, but those make me want to go home and quilt. Fortunately, I'm off dinner duty tonight, so I'll have some time to do just that.

Have a great day. Lane


Until I met a man who had no feet

This is a rambling post where I am trying to be positive.

The estimate from the periodontist yesterday was...astronomical. Sheesh!

But, if I do what he recommends, I will have solved all my tooth problems. And, of course, he wants to do things that I can cut from the bill; things I can get by with a cheaper alternative for, like a bridge instead of an implant.

So, I've been running through my mind all the unneccessary money I spend. Fabric, vintage sewing machines...okay, so that's pretty much the limit of my extravagances. And, what I spend on those isn't going to make a dent in the expected copay.

I woke up at 3am in a cold sweat, trying to figure out how much (or in the case of my carrier, how little) insurance would pay. And, I went through all the cons I could think of in my head.

And, all the while, Rob's words kept ringing in my ears, "at least you have insurance."

I complained about the amount insurance would pay, until I thought about all the people out there that don't have any insurance. People that have lost jobs. People that would just have to suffer or do the minimum amount of work. And, I realized how lucky I am that I have insurance and that I have the money to pay the difference. I am blessed that I have what I need. And, that made me feel guilty about all the bad things I had thought.

As soon as I could, I figured out approximately what I'll have to pay. It's gonna hurt. And, that's life. But, at least it's less than I'd have to pay if I didn't have coverage. With so many people out of work, I'm not sure I get to complain about this. It's like the old saying:

I complained because I had no shoes, until I met a man who had no feet.

Now, I wonder if I can have my ebay id and password temporarily suspended.


Okay, so on to happier thoughts, I'm quoting Rob a lot today.

"We've succeeded in changing our kid into a normal 13 year old. Unfortunately, the norm for 13 year olds is unpleasant at best."

Ha! Such profound words. And, he's mine. All mine.

Take care and have a great Wednesday. Lane


Block 3, Luscious Lemons

I finished the third block of Simply Delicious last night. Okay, so in real life, these look so real, it makes my mouth scrunch up. And, they're going pretty fast. I started early February and have made three blocks so far.

Speaking of mouths scrunching up, today is my visit with the second periodontist about my teeth. I started out taking good care of my teeth and I take good care of them now, but there were a few years in the middle when I didn't take such good care, and now I'm gonna pay the price in both work that needs to be done and money to do it.

The first appt resulted in a periodontist spending two minutes with me, basically calling my primary dentist a quack, telling me to have a tooth pulled and then come back. Basically, I felt like a bother for him.

But, he's on my dental plan and is about the only one that I can afford to let do most of the work, so I can't call him an ass and move on. Even though he deserves it for nothing else but spending 120 seconds scaring the wits out of me about what needed to be done.

So, I asked to see my primary care dentist, just to ask her what to do. Who knew big city dentists don't spend 5-10 minutes with clients giving them advice anymore. That must not be billable time. So, she basically called the first periodontist a quack and referred me to a periodontist that is not on my plan, and that I can't really afford, to see if he can save the tooth.

So, what's the important part of all this for me? I am taking care of business that needs to be taken care of, even though I am afraid to take care of it. The actual experience will be nothing compared to what I am feeling now, as I wait to see what will need to be done and what it will cost. That is a real bummer in my life. But, you know what? Sydney sees me taking care of my business, even though I'm afraid.

Sometimes the loudest lessons are the ones we don't set out to teach, but actually teach by just living our adult lives.

I hope this one sticks for her.



Silk purse? Or sow's ear?

One of the first things Rob said yesterday morning was when he walked in the sewing room and saw me working on this quilt. He said, "that's coming together quick". And, I answered "No amount of sewing is going to make this a beautiful quilt." Oh, well. Ya' win some and you lose some. But, this has been an awful lot of work for a Linus quilt.

I noticed that Bonnie posted on "bonus" triangles this morning. Notice how I used mine in the corners of this quilt.

At the end of the day, he came back in the sewing room and saw me cutting from that ugly background fabric again and he said "You're not going to give up until you get a pretty quilt from that butt-ugly fabric, are you?" And, I'm not. I've bought a new green and a new orange and a darker off white and I'm going to switch where they are and try this one again. I should have just given up and used what I had left as a back. Why, oh why did I feel like I needed 5 yards of this fabric?

Remember this little cmas quilt?

I'm going to do some fancy quilting on this one and I needed to draw the corners. Here is the plan I have so far. I'm still not sold. This was a great idea, but I think I might need the solidarity of just one of these patterns. My favorites are the trees and the ornaments. Rob's is the lights. I don't think anybody likes the packages. But, I'm one step further. I have the thread to quilt it, when I finally decide what I want to quilt.

Take care and hope you had a great weekend. I'll be trying to catch up on blogs. This morning, when I should have been reading, I was printing shipping labels for all the junk I unloaded on ebay this weekend. Okay, so one thing sold for less than the postage, but who cares? It's outta my house and that's what I wanted to achieve. It was too good to throw out and not good enough to keep. So what if it cost me 40 cents to move it on.



Death and Taxes

Nothing is sure, but death and taxes. But, I'm done with that chore until this time next year.

Just got back from JoAnn's and put two quilt backs and some yardage for something for me in the washing machine. I bought about 4000 yards of thread for some fancy quilting I'm going to do on a holiday quilt.

But, you don't care about any of that. You want to hear about the girl and the trip to the mall and the vivid purple nail polish.

And, maybe about the carnival that she and Rob went to when I went to JoAnn's.

She had a great time. They planned the trip well. The girls had an hour and a quarter at the mall to do whatever they wanted. They stopped for a smoothie and started shopping hard. The only thing Sydney bought was a bottle of purple nail polish that is almost black. Without saying anything to anybody, she painted her nails last night. I think she and Rob had an unhappy discussion about it, but my only thoughts were that it was great by me, so long as it was gone Sunday night. She can wear any color she wants on her toes, anytime she wants. Just not her fingers to school...yet.

One of the girls was trusted with enough cash for the girl to buy a swimsuit, so they shopped all over the place for that. And, then they got back on the bus, pumped full of sugar, and went back to school.

Today, she put the center of her quilt together so she can get it off the design wall (where it's been since first of February). All that she's got left are the borders.

The school is doing a carnival today. But, I wasn't volunteering. I've done two dances. That fulfilled my PTA obligation times two. But, Rob took her to have fun. It's a carnival and athletic meet all rolled into one.

Me, I'm going to put a Linus quilt together so that when I can get back to my Bernina, I can get some quilting done.

Take care and have a great Saturday. Lane


Fly little bird, fly...

I know I talk about how hard we work with Sydney, so today, I want to brag a little bit about her.

When Sydney came to us, she couldn't be trusted. It's not a nice thing to say about someone, but it's the truth. So, she got no unsupervised time. She was with an adult every minute of every day. And, when she was with us, it was like she lived under a microscope. We were no fools. Untrustworthy behavior had to be changed right off the bat. Okay, second off the bat. First I had to break her of saying "freaking" in every sentence, but that's another conversation.

Rob had his own schpiel but mine was "When you're 16 and want to drive my car, you're going to want me to trust you. You are building that trust with what you do every day, including today."

We went through all the normal untrustworthy behavior that all parents go through, plus some. And, we persevered.

This year, she's been allowed to come home from school and stay at home alone until we get home. She has chores or homework. She can have a snack. She can play with her dog. She cannot let friends in the house. She cannot go anywhere. She can't go outside except to the back yard. And, she has to let the neighbors know she's home.

She may lose this priviledge, but for right now, she's got it.

Our next trusting step was our anniversary this year. For the first time, we left her at home alone and we went out to dinner. Rob was totally surprised when I suggested it. Sydney didn't believe me and dressed for dinner and put her shoes on. I think they were both thrown a little bit when I got ready to go and hugged her good bye. I don't think either of them thought I was serious. But, I was. We deserved a night on our own without the stress of finding an adult sitter for a 13 year old.

She did okay, but she complained about us leaving her home to starve while we went to one of our family's favorite restaurants for celebrations.

Today, she's taking a second step. She's being allowed to go to the local mall with her girl's choir group for lunch and some shopping. The girls will pair off and be allowed to roam the mall without adult supervision. (If I had no other reasons to avoid the mall today, like work, 70 unsupervised 13 year old girls would be good enough.)

I'm sure she'll do fine. I gave her enough cash to keep her from being tempted to shoplift and she's big enough to fight off any attacker. We've instilled responsibility and consequences and at least a modicum of how to behave in public. I think she's plenty smart enough to know that there's nothing she might get away with that would be worth what she'd lose when we found out. And, she knows we always find out.

So, today, she gets to fly. All on her own...well, more on her own than we've let her fly up till now. And, while we both know that she'll be fine, I'm sure that Rob and I will both relax a little bit at about 3pm when we know it's over and we haven't gotten a call from the choir teacher.

Take care and have a great Friday. I have a list of things that have to be done and a list of things I want to do this weekend. If I get to half of it, I'll be happy. And, Sydney is going to sew. I'm tired of having her quilt on my design wall. It's time to finish. She'll grumble because she's 13 and that's what 13 year olds do. And, we'll have fun. We always do as soon as she realizes no one is listening to the grumbling anyway, so she may as well stop.



Gardening time

If you've followed my blog for a while then you know that I enjoy my garden as much as my sewing room. Not more. I'd need a gardener to enjoy the garden more than the sewing room. But, short of that, they are two of my favorite places at home. Just a month ago, it looked like this.

These violets just jumped out at me this morning. My mom gave me one clump about 15 years ago and now I have them everywhere. I keep them in large pots with trees and other large plants as a ground cover and to let me know when the pot needs water. And, they spring up in the ground from everywhere. They'll bloom constantly until first frost, even when the temp outside is over 100*. They are NOT "shrinking violets" but are a hardy perenial down here.

This is what I laughingly call the kitchen garden. Potatoes, tomatoes, snow peas in bloom, sweet golden peppers, lemons and some flowering shrubs and perenials to make it all look pretty. I'm about to put in a row of carrots right next to the snow peas. they should be getting green growth about the time the snowpeas are finished.

This is the daylily bed. It is jam packed full of daylilies and huge purple cannas and elephant ears and my three new shrub roses. This bed will come into it's own in about May.

And, this is my sitting area. I can sit here, in the garden, or in the swing and look at the garden. That tree on the right is a lemon and the two trunks on the left are crabapples that are just finishing their bloom. I should have plenty of apples for a full jar of jelly this year. Last year, I only got a half jar, but it was yummmmmmy!

This is the closer to the sitting area. The mailbox holds a few gardening tools. A pair of clippers and a trowel and pair of gloves. They stay dry and I don't have to walk to the shed for a quick tool fix. I love to come out to the glider and sit and sew or knit. The birds are coming in and Sydney has committed to keeping the feeders and baths full. We've seen doves and grackles and then the bluejays, and now the cardinals and even a few finches. Won't be long and the hummers will be back. Still just a bit cool for them.

This is the bed that Sydney and I worked on last year. She complains that it is too green. Green is fine with me. Flowers are nice, but the greenery makes things look so cool when it's 107 and there's no breeze. There will be flowers this year. Not a lot because this is a shade bed. But, some flowers.

That's my garden. Eleven years in the making to get it to look old and worn like the southern gardens I grew up seeing. My gardening theory: buy it cheap and stick it in the ground. If it's not happy, move it. If it's still not happy, get something else. I say that even though there are some things that get moved regularly, still trying to find that right place where they'll grow for me. But, I think that's part of my controlling nature. The only thing I've given up on is azaleas. They just will not grow for me down here. But, that's okay. I spent years trying to control them and get them to grow. Now, I spend that time on a 13 year old.

I miss Elizabeth Taylor already. It's been so long since we've seen her, but to know that she's gone for good is heartbreaking. My favorite of her movies? Cleopatra, of course, but more favorite are Who's afraid of Virginia Wolf, Summertime with Katherine Hepburn, and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. We watched Summertime not long ago and I tried to explain to Sydney how she got that tiny waist and why there were no undergarment lines; layers and layers of silk, darling. Undergarments they don't even make anymore.

Have a great Thursday. I'm already looking forward to the weekend.


Where is "my wit's end"?

We've all heard it, possibly from our Mothers..."I am at my wit's end with you."

Subsequently, many of us are guilty of saying it to our children..."I am at my wit's end with you and I don't know what to do next."

For me, my wit's end is when I lose my creative ability to motivate. That's when I start to shout. There's just nothing else to do. I have no other creative outlets to influence those around me, so I yell.

I was at my wit's end two years ago when all I could do was yell. But, in those two years, "my wit's end" has gotten farther and farther away from where I am as a parent.

For example, this morning I took all the flat irons and curling irons and put them in my room. Sydney loves her hair irons more than she loves anything else, including sometimes, me. It's clear because she spends so much more quality time staring at herself in the mirror while she alters the natural growth of her hair than she spends doing anything else.

That was creative. I didn't need to yell. They just disappeared. And, in their place was the graded work she did last night.

You've probably figured it out by now, but we're still having trouble with 7th grade math. It's not a lack of skill. It's not a lack of understanding the math functions. It's not that she missed anything in class. She just can't think through the problems logically BECAUSE SHE'S IN TOO BIG OF A HURRY TO GO HAVE FUN!

And, she's 13 and her brain doesn't work right. From what I hear, from 12-16, nobody's brain works right. I bet that's when most parents say "I am at my wit's end..." because after we've exhausted our creativity, there's nothing else to do. We can't make those brains work right.

Unless we keep getting more creative. And, that's what Rob and I try to do.

Nothing that we've done so far has incented her to take her time and get math problems right. Continuing to give her work to do every day and making her sit and listen while I explain how to set up the problems is not sufficient incentive. I don't understand that. I would do just about anything to keep from having to spend all my time on 7th grade math. Why won't she?

So, I'll keep printing practice problems. And, I'll keep spending my nights explaining how to set the problems up. And, I'll keep thinking of things to restrict until she finally gets the message that math is not going away and neither am I.

And, I'll keep pushing "my wit's end" further and further away because I like the me that doesn't shout. I like the me that remains calm. Even when I lock myself in the sewing room so she can't see my frustration.

I'm happier. I think she will be too. Eventually. But, I worry that she won't get there until she's lost every priviledge and courtesy that we afford her.

But, better that she lose them now than fall behind in such an important subject.

When I near "my wit's end" I just sit back and think about what gives her pleasure. And I take it away. And, then I go print more math problems.

Because I am immenently more creative than she is stubborn.

Take care and have a great Wednesday. Let me know what your most creative consequence was. Maybe I can use it to keep "my wit's end" at bay.



Our day at the carnival

Here I am, pictured with the big fat prize pig. Not sure why my family wanted my picture at this particular pen. But, I've decided not to ask questions.

Sydney's temp tattoo. She loves this stuff. Me, I don't get it. And, when did we go from tigers and wolves to dragons?

This was my most scary moment. She's in that huge thing swinging back and forth.

She made new friends while standing in line. I don't know if she's managed to keep them. They seemed to have so much in common...until they started to text one another and then the differences started to become apparent. The friend texted in full words and grammatically correct sentences. Sydney texts in symbols and abbreviations. When the friend didn't understand, Sydney said "whatever". Famous last words.

Again, there she is, flying through the air. And, I'm somewhere, holding my breath.

Mostly, she stood in line and we waited in the shade.

Prize winning chickens.

Sydney, showing off a cow.

We don't get too many sheep in Louisiana, where I grew up, but apparently they can win prizes in Texas now. So different from the John Wayne days when "sheepherder" was an ugly name to be called. This was actually classified as a "market lamb". But, it was bigger than me, so not so sure I understand the word "lamb".

And, the Texas Longhorn cow and calf.

Sydney waiting to go way up in the air to be dropped. I have nightmares about falling out of an airplane. How can she enjoy rides that drop???

She loves the swings. I did too until they started to speed up and swing out over the open fairground. Then, I held my breath some more.

Besides that, we had $13 burgers and $4 lemonade and we shopped, but I don't think we bought anything except a necklace for Sydney; also a dragon. Hmmm.

Have a great Tuesday. I spent a lot of yesterday pushing my shoulders back down from my ears. It was not good to be back at work. I wish I could start my vacation over again. I'd do all the same things and never be bored.



My vacation in review

My vacation week is over. Tomorrow, I head back to work. But, what did I do in my week off?

And, what did I accomplish?

I went with Sydney to the rodeo carnival. I was half of the money and stood on the ground and held my breath every time some ride dropped her out of the air or slung her out in open space above the ground. She was the rider. Rob was the encouragement and the other half of the money. More about that later. I also took her to the movie. And, we did math. Lots and lots of math. But, now she understands exponents better.

I dremeled out all the grout in the shower and put all new grout in and found the leak and fixed it.

I sanded the lower cabinet doors. Before you laugh at all the talk I've done about three cabinet doors, there are four more on the other side and a 4'x8' pantry. All sanded.

I finished piecing one of the least attractive quilts I've ever made. All my enthusiasm and this is what I get. I broke the rules, trying not to have to buy anything for a linus quilt. Maybe 'not buying anything for a linus quilt' is the rule I should be breaking.

I worked on my 15-91, Mary and got her tension straightened out. Subsequently, and I suppose unrelated, I talked to the machine's namesake, my mother, Mary, and there was no tension there. Hmmm. Something to think about.

I got this far on the third block of Simply Delicious, including three posts on my process.

I started a batch of summer beer. I haven't had good luck with beer the last few times, so I invested a bit in some upgrades and was more selective about my beer kit and now it's fermenting away in the kitchen.

I got this far on a sock.

I got this close to converting the greenhouse into a sun room.

And, I spent an inordinate amount of time in this swing, sewing or knitting and watching the plants grow. The probably speaks more to what I accomplished than to what I did, tho.

What I accomplished was a series of successes that will bolster me for several months out in the real world, where I often don't know what I'm doing and I don't always get it right, and I spend so much time feeling like I'm about to step off the edge of a cliff. Stressed to the point of not even recognizing it as stress anymore. Just a constant elevated blood pressure headache. Day and Night.

And, now, it's over. And, my shoulders have dropped from around my ears and they're not even sore anymore and I don't lean forward when I walk.

That's what I accomplished on my vacation.



Applique, step 3 - I finally get to sew

Well, all the prep work is complete and I finally get to start sewing pieces down. A note on thread; I read that if you don't have the exact shade, then base the color on the background. If the background is light, use a lighter shade. If it's dark, use a darker shade.

I've pulled a bunch of threads already, mostly greens. I'm lucky enough to have a bin full of threads to pull from. Mostly they were half price threads that I collected, thinking, one day I'll have a use for that mint green and now I do.

Here's where my transparent tracing of the pattern comes in handy. I lay it over the background, lining up the four registration points with the seams and I can lay the applique piece on the background and move it around with my finger until I get it right where I want it. The piece below has had its paper removed, but I usually leave the paper on for this step as it makes lining up just a little bit easier.

First, I trim the seam allowance down to an eighth of an inch. And, if there's a concave curve, I clip the seam allowance three times or more, but at least once in the center and once one each side. Then, I can start sewing down with the tiniest stitches I can make. I'm getting about 12 stitches to the inch.

And, I keep going.

Here, one piece overlaps another. I attach the first piece and position the second piece over it. I've left the edge of the first piece raw and will stitch along the overlapping edge first. That way, if I make a mistake and pull the piece a bit (and it happens) I'm not trying to stretch or pull pieces to get the overlap right. There's nothing more frustrating than attaching the whole other side and then getting to the overlap and it not fitting. I have the marked line on both the under piece and the overpiece, so I can get a very exact match of where the seam should be to get them to match correctly.

And, then it is down and I'm off to the next piece.

Have a great Thursday. We're off to the rodeo carnival. Yippee! Ride 'em Cowboy!


applique, step 2 - cut

I have tried applique many times. I'd read the instructions and the prep work would be so complex and I'd think 'I don't need to do all that.' What I didn't realize is that the prep work makes the sewing so much easier and more exact. I'd say that doing applique this way is easier than any of the other ways I've tried. It's also much more exact and portable. And, it's quicker in the long run.

These are my pattern pieces cut from freezer paper.

Because I'm working from a kit, I have all the fabrics that I'll need and there's a description so I can match the pattern pieces to the fabrics.

I iron all the pattern pieces on their fabrics and I trace around the pattern pieces with a ceramic pencil. I could probably use any kind of pencil, but the ceramic ones are really easy. I have a white one and a wierd green and between them, I can mark on any color.

And, then, I rough cut the pieces. I leave about a quarter inch all around. I'll trim that closer, later. You can see piece number 1 on the left side. I've removed the paper to show the marking. Usually, I leave the paper on until the piece is placed and roughly pinned. Then, I'll remove the paper and pin inside the lines.

I have about 3 1/2 hours in the project to this point. An hour to draw, an hour and a half of cutting and about an hour of very exact tracing. The freezer paper wants to peel off when I draw, so I have to be very careful.

Hope you're having a great week. I've almost finished grouting the shower. Just a few touch-ups. And, I've sanded about a quarter of the kitchen. If I don't get any painting done, that will be okay. The sanding is really the first step. We used a cheap paint last time. It never hardened and it just peeled and peeled. So, I'm sanding that down to the primer so we can repaint. Hard work, but very rewarding. The kitchen had become a sad place and since that's the room I do my most important chores in, it needed to be cheerful and happy.

Rob's off and we're also going to trim some trees.

I know this doesn't sound like a very exciting vacation, but compared to the stress of my last few months, it's a cakewalk of things I know how to do and I can do with confidence. I love that feeling.



Applique, step 1 - draw

I'm going to show the progress on my third block of the Simply Delicious quilt.

I'm going to need two copies of the pattern.

I have this really nice lightbox that Rob made me. I haven't used it much for tracing quilting motifs, which is why I asked for it, but I have gotten lots of practice tracing for applique.

Anyway, the first copy is on freezer paper. This time, I'm doing needle turn, so I'll lay my freezer paper on top of my applique pieces. That means tracing from the master pattern while it is turned right side up. (When I do machine applique, I want the freezer paper on the back of the pieces, so I'll trace with my master pattern wrong side up.) I trace each piece independently, disregarding any pieces that lay atop of another piece. I move the paper around, so what I end up with is just pieces laid out randomly that only remotely resembles the master pattern.

The next copy is on clear plastic and it is an exact replica of the master pattern. I marked the four center lines. My background is made up of 4 squares of light blue fabric, so I'll have those registration marks on the fabric while I attach the applique. This copy of the pattern will be used to lay on top of my background and place my applique pieces before they are sewn down.

More on that after I start to sew.

So, that's step one. Now, I'm off to grout the floor of the shower and then I can start sanding the kitchen cabinet doors. Sydney and I are going to the movies this afternoon. She wants to see Red Riding Hood. I'm worried that we've seen all the good parts of that movie in the commercials, but hey, she'll enjoy it, and I'll feed her popcorn and candy for lunch.

All you Moms will be glad to know that I'm letting he sleep in every morning, but when she wakes today, she has math practice. Math. From all the complaining I get when I ask her to do anything, you'd think I was asking her to single handedly raise a barn and plow the back 40 behind a mule.

Take care. Math. It's the new torture. Lane


Two quilts

Well, I pieced them both this weekend. Two just alike. They aren't put together yet. One is for Linus, the other is for me.

Or, maybe no.
I don't really care for either one that much.
Anyway, have a great Monday. I'm off to grout the shower. Aren't you excited for me?


Happy Anniversary, Dear

Every time you're near by Alice Ripley

I think that says it all.


We need a new acronym

Somehow, the acronyms WIP (work in progress) and UFO (unfinished object) have attained a negative connotation. Maybe that's from people that never finish projects and feel shame for it. Maybe it's from people that finish all their projects and look down on those that don't. Or, maybe it's just another way for quilters to separate themselves from one another (I see lots of devisiveness among quilters lately)

Anyway, I've decided that maybe I just need to come up with new terms for my work.

For example, this little quilt top. I pieced this 3 years ago while Rob's Mom was with us for either Tgiving or Cmas. It was my way of getting away while they discussed the old days and things I didn't have any knowledge of. It also gave me something to do that was quiet so she could sleep in...apparently nobody gets up as early as we do.

Anyway, I came up with the design. I used my favorite three cmas greens, along with a very bright cmas red and a holiday print that has both those colors on a light background. Very simple, but I intentionally created lots of space to quilt in.

And, then, I decided that my quilting skills were not adequate for what I had in mind for this little cutie. So, I hung it in the sewing room closet and there it's sat. Waiting.

I can't say it's a work in progress because I haven't taken it out in three years.

And, I can't say it's an unfinished object because it will get finished.

So, maybe this is an LTP...long term project. One that was begun and will take a long time to finish. I have a couple like that. It probably comes from having to put my projects aside periodically to WFI...wait for inspiration. But, really, it's become an LTP because I had to WFS...wait for skills.

While I was WFI, I bought a children's cmas coloring book. It's filled with drawings that I plan to use as my inspiration in the corners of this quilt. And, I've practiced my background filler so that now I don't have to WFS anymore. I have them. So, I've pulled out my LTP and am about to put my inspiration and skills to use and get this little jewel quilted up.

It won't be fast. I've got to draw out all the quilting for it. I'll trace pictures from the coloring book, things like a decorated tree, a string of lights, a snowy sleighride and something else and then I'll add some bows and some other larger scale filler. I'll transfer that to parchment via needle punching it and use the parchment as my pattern. When I pull off the paper, I can fill in all the background with the tiny filler I like. I want some holly wreaths for the star blocks. I think they'll highlight the shape of the stars by quilting a circle over each block.

And, just like that, we have an inspired plan.

I plan to pin baste another this weekend. The other one is a very cute little village quilt from Forevergreenquilts.com. I'm going to do an allover meander on it to imitate a breeze blowing through the village and I might just be able to get that done next week while I'm off. That quilt is another LTP, finished early 2010 and WFI as well. But, now the inspiration has come for it, too.

I guess what I'm saying is: sometimes a quilt just has to percolate for a while before it can be finished and that's not a bad thing.

Take care and have a great weekend. Lane


A different shade of white

Okay, so these pictures are for those of you that have grown tired of snow.

This is our Bradford Pear in bloom. I should have taken the pics yesterday morning as it was all white, but by this morning, the leaves were starting to show up and dulled the glow of it a bit.

Rob and I put this tree in several years ago.

Now, on a happier note, I have scheduled next week off work. The she-devil will be out of school, which is my excuse for taking off, but not my reason. Last night, we tried to gently burst her bubble of anticipated wonderful time next week so we could include some study time to make up for a several grades that are lower than acceptable (you can't be a doctor if you can't pass 7th grade math).
I want to do some fun things, too. The Rodeo carnival is in town and I'd like to take her to a movie one day. But, for the most part, I expect us to be working on stuff around the house, maybe a bit of painting. That would be fun for a 13 year old girl, right? And, some yard work? She'll have a ball digging in the mud, I'm sure. Maybe we'll lay that new tile floor in the kitchen. Oh, she'd be delighted with that kind of work.
Take care and have a great Thursday. Lane