Slow and steady wins...something

As the contractor and crew have built the new deck, I have been working in the studio.  Slow and steady.

I've been working on Radiant.  I've done nearly as much picking out as putting in.  But, I have the basis of the quilting done.  I think at this point, all I can do is bind it and then decide if it needs any more quilting in the border to fill in the spaces.  I won't know how big the spaces are til it's squared and bound. 

I couldn't just do a straight line with feathers along it.  Believe me.  I tried.  I put in my basting for marking and I put in the spine.  And, I put feathers down one side and figured out how to do the corners.  And, I sat down Saturday morning and picked it all out.  And, I marked again.  This time, I used tissue paper to mark the spine and two marking lines to quilt between so I could make uniform feathers, then feathered between them, added the echo, and then picked out the two marking lines.  Easy-peasy, right? 

Easy may be overrated. 

I also put the Sew Fresh Christmas quilt together.  This will be the next thing I quilt. 

Just needs a couple borders.  A narrow green and then the fabric that inspired this quilt; a paisley in reds and greens that I've been waiting to use in a holiday quilt for years. 

Here's the progress on the deck so far.  There's a huge pile of lumber in the back yard.  Today, they'll dig the rest of the post holes and set the posts in concrete.  Tomorrow, they level the deck and start adding the decking.  Slow and steady.  That's how you build a deck.  And often how I make a quilt. 

It's very funny to watch the dogs try to get into the back yard.  The beagle jumps over, the small dog goes under.  Sometimes they get stuck in a square and need encouragement, or they just stand there and look confused.  But, the crew is really doing a great job and leveling the ground under it so it will drain...we can already see the difference in mosquitos in the yard. 

Well, it's off to work for me.  Time to face the crazy.  Everybody have a great Monday. 

This has been rolling around in my head all weekend. 

It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us - that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion - that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain...and that government of the people, by the people, and for the people shall not perish from the earth.  Abraham Lincoln, The Gettysburg Address.



Friday catch upo

It's another Friday off.  I could really get into this as a permanent thing, if we could afford it.  But, today I'll mostly be home because we are having a new deck built and someone needs to be here to keep the dogs from just standing at the back door and barking all day. 

We wanted to build a deck.  But that's a lot of work to do it right, and over time, we decided we didn't want to build  a deck.  We have plenty of other home repairs that we can spend our time on that don't take days to finish and don't require all that heavy lifting and post hole digging. 

In 1974, my Papaw, the contractor, would have said we've got more money than sense.  And, I'm glad of that.  And, so is my back.

Our contractor is an older gentleman.  And, we assumed he works a crew of younger men.  But, we were wrong.  The first day, he showed up with a slightly younger gentleman than himself and, like two old men will do, spent a LOT of time talking.  So much talking that early in the day, I was worried that this was going to take forever.  But, they plodded at a steady pace and by the end of the day, the old deck was deconstructed, cut into 2 foot board lengths and packed into two pickups for hauling off.  Yesterday, the contractor brought a much younger and stronger helper and they got the ground leveled off so that we wouldn't have a standing puddle (otherwise known as a  mosquito nursery) under it anymore.  And, they got started digging post holes and building the frame. 

Yay!!  I can't wait to see it finished.  When I moved into the house 17 years ago, there was a deck and an extension had been added.  I didn't like it, so I took the extension apart and rebuilt it as a large rectangle, added to the original deck.  I actually did a pretty good job for an amateur.  My framing still looked good.  But, over the last couple years, the decking had started to rot.  And, once that started, it seemed to go really fast. 

But, in a few days, we'll have a brand new place to sit.  And, since I like to take a featherweight out there and sit at the table and sew, I hope to be able to get back to some of that. 

I finished my first needlepoint pillow last night. 

Another parallelogram, but now that I've blocked one of those out, I know I can do this one.  And, this one isn't nearly as distorted as the last one was.

Okay, so now to get up from here and get something done.  I want to quilt.  I want to work around the house.  I want to continue to clean up in the sewing room.  I want, I want, I want.  But, what will I do? 

Probably just quilt. 




Right now, Radiate is the working name for this quilt.  It's taken a long time to quilt.  There was  a lot of delay while I figured out what I wanted to quilt in it.  But, once I had that figured out, I was off to the races. 

Yesterday afternoon, I had to pick a bunch of quilting out of the center.  After I'd done all the rest, some crooked and badly placed lines needed to be moved.  But, that's all done now too. 

I've really enjoyed working on this quilt.  The piecing was a pain because that's a whole lot of bias.  And, we all know what bias likes to do.  And, there are a ton of mistakes.  So many that even I was worried whether they'd quilt out.  And, a few did not.  But, most of them either quilted out or the quilting distracts you from being able to see them. 

I put the feather wreath in the corners, then decided what to quilt in the centers.  I was pretty sure it was going to be an eight pointed star.  That star was the hardest part of the quilt to mark.  It's a simple shape, but I really had to think about how that star is made and what goes into it to be able to get it right.  And, draw 3/4 of it.  Four times. 

I guess you can see why I'm calling it Radiate.  An active verb.  For an active quilt. 

Now, it's just the borders, which I'm going to feather...because that's what I do.  Nothing fancy.  A straight line down the center and feathers to the edges, in a square.  I can hardly wait to get started.

I also took a few minutes to piece some of the card trick blocks.  I got 7 made. 

They're coming out just like I expected.  They are 3.5", so they'll finish at 3".  And, I am using every skill I learned from Sally Collins.  One of the most valuable is ironing pieces, then laying a ruler on top of them and letting them cool.  That weight makes them lie very flat.  A lot of nesting seams and sliver trimming to exact size. 

I was using a very small 2.5" ruler to sliver trim the 9 individual sub units. It just made so much sense when trimming a 1.5" block, right?  But, I kept thinking, you're going to cut the tip of your finger off.  And, then I switched to a larger ruler, 6", and that made it so much easier to hold the ruler down and get my fingertips out of the way.  Because I need the tips of my fingers.  They are very important.  So, learn from me.  Sometimes, bigger is better. 



Me and my compass

I haven't made progress on my broken star quilt in a while.  I've been stumped about what to do around the outer star, including the corners.  I've looked at a LOT of ideas.  I've seen a LOT of beautiful star quilts.  And, finally, I saw the one.  It wasn't exactly what I wanted, but it was the right inspiration for me to envision exactly what I wanted. 

This is hot off the machine, just this morning.  Only needs the background, and I'm still not quite sure what I want to do there...but now that I've seen it completed, I'm leaning one way over the other.  You'll just have to stay tuned to see it.

This is my new compass.  I finally found one that will accommodate a water soluble ink pen.  With that, it only took a few seconds to draw the circles that I'll need to make that feather wreath. 

I think I might be able to knock another one out this morning.  I have today off.  And, no plans but to quilt, meet a friend at a quilt shop and have lunch after, and then some more quilting.  In fact, if it wasn't for this pesky devil of a hurricane, Nate, I'd have the whole day to play.  Instead, I get to monitor that thing all weekend. Ah, the joys of being gainfully employed...

On Monday, I turned in the baby quilt to the baby bundles group.  I walked up and first thing I said was "I don't follow instructions very well".  And, she got a worried look, but like the trooper she is, said "That's okay, we don't do instructions very well."  I handed her the quilt and the leftover pieces and she unfolded it and her smile came back.  And, when she did her officer's presentation to the guild, she showed the quilt I'd brought in and a couple others as inspiration for folks to participate. 

The flanged binding worked well...the second time.  There was no "heft" to the quilt (because of the poly batting), so when I tired to fold the binding to the front, the part of the quilt that should have been inside the binding didn't give me enough resistance to be able to feel it, so some of it got folded over and some didn't and I ended up with a very curvy binding.  So, the second time, I used a seam gauge along the edge and folded over a straighter line.  And, it only slowed me down a little bit.  So, I'll be using that binding technique again. 

Quilting my hand print in the quilt didn't work like I planned, so I tried something different and it worked.  I quilted a hand in each block.  And, I was all proud, thinking that the Mom might think  that someone would always be holding the baby in their hands and wasn't that a nice sentiment.

And, then I thought the Mom might think that some stranger will have their hands all over that baby all the time, and isn't that creepy?

But, I didn't pick the hand prints out.  So what if it's a little creepy.

Everybody have a great Friday.  Enjoy your quilting!!!  Lane



Quilt Show Inspiration

Amidst the cooking and cleaning that we're so heavily invested in right now...until that mood passes, we went to a quilt show on Saturday morning.  We had a good time.  We picked up our friend LD and went to the show and then went to a nice lunch and then home where Rob took a nap and I turned into an inspired whirling dervish of a quilter. 

But a whirling dervish doesn't get much done, right? 

I had no plans to buy any fabric.  Nope.  I don't need fabric.  No more. 

But, I'm running low on red stash from using it (which is what I have stash for).  So, I picked up some red fat quarters.  And, the guild was selling fabric for $4 a yard and I bought several large pieces in random colors. 

Lane is a very bad boy. 

This was our favorite quilt.  Soon as I saw it, I knew Rob, who enjoys Hawaiian shirt Friday at work almost every Friday would love it.  (Sorry about the pictures.  The aisles were narrow and there was quite a crowd.)  Rob got to meet the young lady that made it when he was filming the show. 

This was my vote for viewers choice.

And, this was Rob's vote for viewer's choice.

You can tell, there's lots of talent in this show.  Our first quilt show, so many years ago was this guild's show and we try to come back every time.  They do a very nice show.  It's also special because when Sydney and I met our dear friend LD, it was at this show, so it was nice to be back there with her again. 

If you want to spend a few minutes at the show, via Rob's video, it's posted at his u-tube channel, here

It's so nice to be recognized at quilt shows.  I sure saw a lot of faces I recognized and I got to talk to a few people that I knew.  It's definitely a community. 

I'm having a really hard time not starting something new.  I'm inspired.  I want to make a miniature quilt.  One of the impulse purchases I made was four tone on tone fabrics in the same print, but different colors.  I've tried to make a quilt out of same prints before and I want to try it again.  As I tried to figure out what to do, this is the leading plan right now. 

This is a test block from scraps, but it's a 3" card trick block.  A bunch of those in a quilt, separated by plain blocks.  My fingers are itching to start.  But, to make this work, I need a fifth color of the inspiration print.  I have red, orange, green and beige.  I'd like to use the beige as a background and get a blue for the cards.
Tonight is quilt guild, where I will, no doubt, continue to be inspired.  I'm taking the baby quilt to turn in and I'm taking the green quilt as show and tell.  And, the speaker makes portrait quilts.  And, there will be all kind of other quilty goodness going on. 
I foresee additional difficulty in restraining myself from starting something new.
Keep my Mom in your thoughts, please.  She's having knee surgery today.  And, keep my Dad in your thoughts for about the next four months.  He's taking care of her after her knee surgery. 
Everybody have a great Monday.  Last Thursday, my boss gave me a huge project with a short deadline.  I'm so glad it's busy at work.  The days pass fast and I get to move on to more fun things.  Like quilting.


Blocking weekend

Somehow, I've ended up with several things that need blocking.  I didn't get to all of it.  The Simply Delicious applique quilt...I don't quite know.  I got it into the washing machine and pulled it out before I hit the start button.  I'm so afraid that the unwashed fabrics in that quilt will run.  But, I have to figure out something.  I just wasn't quite ready on Saturday. 

So, I decided to do the green quilt and the little miniature.  And, I dropped them into the washer and saw some threads that hadn't been knotted and buried on the green one.  So, I let Rob move regular laundry forward while I tied knots.  And, tied knots and tied more knots.  And, then, I had to pick out some quilting and replace it to get rid of a couple of puckers on the front of the quilt.  I clearly wasn't as ready as I thought I was.  But, I finally got it all done and we washed it.  And, another story begins.

I've changed brands of wool batting.  I'm not going to say who I've been using, but when I would wash a quilt for the first time, it stunk and I'd have to wash it again.  The quilt I washed Saturday had to be washed three times.  To wash out a smell that must have been in the batting. 

But, I finally got it blocked out.  Both of them. 

This quilt is not square.  This quilt is never going to be square.  The center of the quilt is more densely quilted than the rest.  And, while that gives it the effect of one quilt lying on top of another, it causes the center to pull in.  It's not too far off, tho, after the blocking.  One side is a little more off than the others.  So, I'm going to measure the quilt along the center line and cut my sleeve that width and ease the difference into that longest side and hope it works.  I actually think it might.  I'd like to get a sleeve and a label on it and take it to show and tell at the next guild meeting. 

Early Saturday morning, I decided to try blocking my needlepoint piece.  LD had given me advice and I'd been reading and watching videos.  First thing that went wrong was the iron.  I don't put water in my irons.  I spray my fabrics with water from a pump sprayer and then iron them.  So, I put water in my iron to block this piece and when I pushed the steam button, it leaked out the side of the iron.  Fizzle.  No steam.  That probably means it's time for a new iron.  And, then I spritzed the work and started to work that in as steam by ironing through a pressing cloth.  That clearly was not changing the shape of my piece.  So, I wet a towel and my pressing cloth and put my work in the middle, like a sandwich and ironed over it all.  And, the next time I tried to pin it to the board, I tugged and pulled and added steam...and all of a sudden, something let go and it became flexible and squared right up...almost perfect.  Again, one corner is a little pulled out of shape, but the framing mat will cover that. 

This is from the back.  I'll pull the tacks and show the front in a couple day.  But, I'm pretty proud of my back.  It's not as nice as the back of the piece I'm working on now, but it is admirable for a first effort.  Very neat and flat. 

Lest you think I'm a slacker that just played with making wrinkly things lay flat again, I also cleaned out cabinets in the garage.  I got one large unit cleaned out and cleaned out the shelf where I keep all my tools and paints for the mini house and upholstery supplies and that big tub of leftover yarn.  (Ugh)

Then, I got to my storage.  And, decided that could wait for another day.

Yesterday, I made smothered chops and a large pot of stew for us to eat this week and two loaves of cinnamon raisin bread.  And, I finished quilting the baby quilt and cut the binding.  But, that's a post for another day. 

I will tell this funny story.  A quilter recently asked me to help them find a hopping foot for their machine.  I'm not any better at answering questions than I am following a pattern.  So, I told her how to find one and shared my experience for maintaining them so they last a long time and talked about how they will eventually wear out.  On Sunday, my Bernina was making a terrible noise.  Terrible.  And, it was frustrating me.  So, I'm doing everything I can...moving the thread cone holder, re-threading the machine, oil the bobbin hook, clean the feed dogs, change the needle.  Then, I took it completely apart and oiled and lubed it (never a wasted effort).  And, it was still loud. 

It was my hopping foot.  I'd worn it out.  And, it wouldn't hop, so it was clicking and grinding and catching.  And, a drop of oil didn't make a difference.  Fortunately, I buy these feet in quantity, so all I had to do was find another one.  But, it just goes to show, soon as I talk about something wearing out, it will.

Everybody have a great week!  It's going to be a busy one at work again.  My boss has a big presentation on Wednesday, and he's anxious and that's never good for anybody.



The baby quilt

Remember that a couple weeks ago, I picked up a kit from the baby bundles group at guild.  And, I didn't know what to do with it.  They gave a pattern to sew the blocks together in a 5x5 grid, and the thought of that made my brain hurt.  Or, maybe it was my hands.  Or maybe it just offended my sewing machine. 

Anyway, I decided to take it as a challenge.  And, a challenge needs some rules, so I decided to use all they gave me and I could add anything I want. 

First, I laid the fabrics out.  And, I looked at them.  I took a picture and I thought about it at work.  Hmmm.  There are some large scale prints there that I'd like to not cut into. 

So, I split them into fabrics I would cut at the top and fabrics I wouldn't cut at the bottom.

Then, I started to pair fabrics up.  This has 12 pairs, plus a rainbow left over.  But, I wanted a square quilt.  So, only my  favorite 9 pairs.  As I was thinking about all this, I was thinking about a pattern.  I could use an uneven 9 patch with a very large center.  And, if I did, I could use one block uncut and cut the other into four strips.  But, that wouldn't fill the corners.  So, what if I used two of these fabrics and cut them into squares instead of strips.  That would give me enough corners for 8 blocks, but I needed 9, so substitute in another fabric for the corners of the 9th block. 

And, I made the nine blocks.  Get a load of the block in the center.  It has grandma and nana printed on it.  It had to be the center.  And, the red corners set it off. 

That used up 20 of the 25 blocks in the kit, plus the red for the corners of the center block. 

Next up, borders.  I almost used some gingham because that's what they gave me for the back and I thought it would tie the border and the back together.  But, it was busy and I didn't care for it much.  So, I went to my stash, and I came up with these borders.  Note the outer corner squares...you're about to see that fabric again.

The backing piece they gave me was about 40x54".  That would have done the 5x5 pattern they gave me, with none left to spare.  But, what I ended up with is 46" square.  So, I added a strip up the center of my backing from stash.  My camera doesn't catch it, but the yellow of the gingham print is the same shade as the background of the center strip.

And, I ended up with a very cute quilt.  This weekend, I plan to baste it and hopefully start the quilting soon.  I want to trace my hand on freezer paper and iron multiple copies to the front of the quilt and quilt around them.  Maybe.  I'll have to let you know how that goes.  It's something I want to use for another quilt, so this is a great time to give it a try.  And, I want to work on my machine binding skills, so I plan to make a flanged binding for this quilt, using strips of two different fabrics and sewing it completely down by machine. 

And, that's how I turned a boring charity project into an exciting project that I am enjoying.  I needed the challenge to stimulate my brain.  I'd gotten kind of out of the "thinking of quilting" habit and was too focused on the news.  This got me back to things I enjoy and I hope I can keep my mind there. 

It helps that we're not getting the crazy tweet of the day now...Thank you Mr Kelly! 

Everybody have a great Friday.  I just turned in a huge project at work that I got when someone else gave up, so I had a very, very short deadline.  And, somehow, I got it done on time. 

Not somehow...I got it done because I focused everything I had on that project and came up with some relatively brilliant work, if I do say so myself.   (Cuz nobody else probly will.)

Today, it gets reviewed by a lawyer, so I'll have questions to answer.  But, other than that, I think I got it! 

Now, back to our quilting, currently in progress.  And, yes, that is a seam ripper you see...cuz nobody's prefect!




Short post today.  I managed to spend all my time searching for my Surface.  It had to be routed from it's hiding spot behind an oversized book.  That's the thing with a tablet.  When they hide, they are well and truly hidden.  It got there when we were cleaning carpets this weekend.  It's all part of our fall cleaning project.  Carpets on Saturday, and on Sunday, we did all the upholstered furniture in the living room.  The animals all stalked around griping that "you're ruining all our wonderful stink!" and "we just got the joint smelling like we want it to and you mess it up with all this cleaning." 

What a wonderful smell clean is.  It smells like nothing at all. 

I was trying to choose between two posts.  One was the baby quilt from last week.  The top is pieced and so is the back, so now it's just basting and then the quilting can begin on that.  Six and a half hours is not bad for me to piece a top and a back.  And, it came out really cute and I'm excited to talk about it...when I have the time to talk.

I also still have a tissue paper marking tutorial to do for the background pattern I didn't use in the broken star quilt.  I started it and got four blocks done and realized it was NOT right.  So, I studied how star quilts are quilted and found an inspiration and on Saturday, I ripped the old quilting out and on Sunday, started quilting the new design in. 

I decided to go with what I know, feathers.  Because there's a reason I know feathers.  I like them.  And, yes, I'm tired of them, but that just means I need to use them in new ways, right?  So, that's what I tried to do here.  Instead of filling each block with a feather wreath which is what I didn't want to do, I put the feather wreath in and let the star sit on top of it.  I think I can live with that. 

Friday, I spent the day with our friend, LD.  We had a needlepointer's holiday.  She has pulled out her projects and chosen some to work on and I took my projects and we looked at needlepoint and we talked about it and she showed me a new stitch to use.  Then, we went to lunch and went yarn shopping.  We had a delightful day and a lot of laughs and when it was over, I think we were both a little tired.  It was a great way to spend a day off. 

Everybody have a great Monday.  It's the start of a new week.  The next two weeks will be very busy...but then I get to take some more time off. 

I am excited.  I don't know how I built all this time up.  But, it's a reminder that I wasn't taking good care of myself while I did. 

Work/life balance.  It's all the rage now.



Where everybody knows your name...

Sometimes you want to go
Where everybody knows your name.

Okay, so it's not really true.  Not everyone at guild knows my name.  And, I don't know theirs.  But, we have quilting in common...we know at least that one thing about one another.  Whether we've been quilting for 5 minutes or 55 years, we all have at least one thing in common.  And, I needed that connection.  Life has been a little disjointed lately and friends helped.  The invitation to sew with a group, the we've missed you, seeing a friend who's been very ill and has returned, and another whose husband was sick, the friend that took one of the classes I taught and has always stayed in contact who I see blossoming into an accomplished quilter.


I needed that. 

And, I introduced myself to a male quilter that has just joined.  Course, it was at that time that my brain went soft and jelly-like on me and I couldn't think of anything to say.  It was a very disjointed and awkward conversation.  But, I did tell him about my blog, so Brian, if you're reading this, wasn't the quilt last night wonderful?  What got you into quilting?  Did you enjoy your first class?  I promise, I am normally capable of conversation. 

The speaker last night was Nancy Prince.  She does thread paintings and her talk was on the creation of her quilt On This Winter Day. 

She had the background printed and layered and quilted.  Then she thread painted all the houses, buildings, animals, equipment and people and attached them.  It was a very interesting speech that said as much about who she is as it did about her quilt.  Seven years and two thousand hours and seven million stitches.  No wonder it's won so many awards, including 2014 Best of Show in Houston.

The Highland Lakes guild was at our meeting selling raffle tickets.  I don't usually buy raffle tickets because I never win.  But, I'd be proud to win this quilt. 

It was an original design by the guild and quilted  by a very talented local quilter.  It is truly a thing of beauty...and several of us had to check out the back, which showed off the quilting detail better. 

And, I took a baby bundle kit.  I really shouldn't do that.  They are always a challenge.  The group focuses on every baby should have a quilt.  I think that quilt should be pretty.  I see some not pretty quilts being donated.  I'm a snob and I know it and I'm not even ashamed.  So, I'll take this kit and add some of me to it and make a pretty quilt.  Because that's what I do. And, the challenge will be good for me.  When I opened the kit this morning, I thought "oh, no, oh, no, oh, no, oh, no".  But, then I decided to see the challenge of it.  So, I'm going to spread it out again and take a picture with my phone and look at it every so often during the week, and then see what I can come up with. 

Everybody have a great Tuesday.  I'm trying to figure out when I can take some time off.  I was notified yesterday that I was about to be in a use it or lose it position.  I don't believe in losing it.  EVER.  I earned it.  It's mine. 

And, I can use it to quilt.



Didn't realize...

Did you ever have one of those blog days where it seems nothing goes right?  I was going to do a tissue paper marking tutorial, but that deserves more time than I can give it today, after my series of small errors.  Camera won't cooperate, photos not right, computer issues, nothing of any note, just a bunch of little things that ate up time. 

It was a very cleaning weekend around here.  I know most people clean in spring when they open their houses after winter.  But, we close our house in the summer and we open it up and clean in the fall.  I got a lot done...all the appliances and cabinet faces have been washed and I washed all the fingerprints off the doors we use most and scrubbed the foyer and scrubbed the shower with a brush.  Yep, a good start was made.  Let's see how much I get done before I run out of steam. 

I realized this weekend when I was straightening up in the sewing room that I have made all the blocks for the Have A Jolly Little Christmas BOM that I'm going to make.  She offered a couple more for us to choose from, but these are the 12 I chose for my quilt. 

I'm going to sash them with white and I have a paisley border that is greens and reds and was used to choose all the greens and reds I used here.  It's going to be wonderful.  I've just got to sit down now and finish it. 
And, that's why quilters shouldn't scrub the shower with a brush.  It takes too much time away from quilting.  Besides, what's the point of having a 19 year old if I'm doing all the hard work???
Everybody have a wonderful Monday.  I'm still sending good thoughts to Florida.  The news we saw was terrible. 


For my next trick...

Remember when Bullwinkle used to say "for my next trick, I'm gonna pull a rabbit out of this hat."  Well, my next quilting project turned out much like Bullwinkle's attempts to pull a rabbit. 

But first, my cat got sick. 
I've been singing Soft Kitty to her.  Well, till I got the $302 vet bill.  Then, I started telling her she was obligated to get better.  No choice.  And, she did.  Probably had more to do with the antibiotics.  But, whatever.  Makes me feel better to think I had a hand in it. 
So, this is the quilt I pulled out of my hat.  This is a Broken Star quilt that I made in half size, so it came out a quarter of the size of the queen sized pattern.  It finishes at about 46" square. 
Very cute quilt.  Lots and lots of tiny pieces.  I enjoyed piecing it and it looks great...from a little distance.  But, like Bullwinkle pulling out a rhinoceros, when I got close enough to quilt it, I realized that more of those points don't match than I originally thought.  And, there are a lot of slightly curved lines that should be straight.  And, while you can't tell it from the front, you can definitely tell it from the back.

This is the back I Pieced.  The leftover yardage from the border fabric is a great, busy print that hides most of the errors.  A lot more would have been hidden if I'd used blue thread instead of off white.  But, I'm not picking it out for that.  I already picked out the whole center because of the way the white thread showed up on the dark blue fabric on the front.  I've switched to invisible for the star points and I'll do the rest with the off-white.  That should show up nicely in the white squares. 

I'm nearly done with the star points.  Just a few sections to go.  And, then I have to draw something for the white squares.  Not quite sure what that's going to be.  Not a feather wreath.  I've got to be able to think of something more original than that.  And, I am honestly feathered out.  So, I'll think and think and think and draw some ideas. 
And, I'll probably end up going with the feather wreath.
Watching three storms.  Irma is expected to do the same kind of devastating damage that Harvey did.  I feel for the people that are trying to evacuate and sitting in traffic and I'm sending my best to the people that have chosen to stay.  Scary times. 
Climate change being real, and all that, you know.  Can/t say it often enough on my little platform when morons are squealing the lies against it from theirs. 


Left handed binding

Yesterday, I picked all the key limes off the tree.  It was exactly as much as the recipe called for to make a pie.  This is our first year to have limes.  I got the tree last year and it's still pretty small. 
Several technical errors were made...tin was too big for the filling, baked 2 minutes too long because the filling was spread too thin, meringue pulled back from the crust...but, it was tasty.  A little tart, but tasty!
We took some pictures of what I've figured out about binding as a leftie.  I'm using a warm up piece, which is a whole cloth quilt that I created to play on.  I use one to warm up if I'm doing complex quilting and I use them to try new patterns to see if I can do them, or what I need to pay attention to when I do them. 
First, I cut my binding to 2"...I like a very narrow binding.  And, I join the strips at 45* angles.  And, I fold it in half (I have a neat trick for that that uses a safety pin and folds a whole binding in a very few minutes.)

I don't pin my binding.  Even with the walking foot, that never seems to work for me.  But, it takes a lot of time to do, and then I end up pulling the pins anyway.  So, I skip that and sew my binding twice.  I sew it once at 5/16" allowance, which is halfway between a quarter and 3/8".  That attaches it to the quilt.  Then, all the way around again at 3/8".  I like 3/8" because when I fold that to the back, it forces the edge of the quilt to fold along with it, which gives me a full and slightly stiff binding. 

I mark a diagonal line at the corner (sorry, I forgot to take a pic of that.)  And, I sew up to that line.  Because it's a diagonal line, both of my seams work right when I sew to the line and backstitch.  Then, I fold to the right, parallel with the edge of the quilt.  

And, then back to the left, which gives me that little triangle that doesn't get sewn down.  I mark the diagonal line on this side as well...you can see it if you look close.  And, I start sewing a little ahead of that so I can backstitch to the line.  This is the method I learned from watching Eleanor Burns on her TV show. 

Then, I fold the binding to the back.  Now, if I was right handed, I would sew right to left.  And, when I approached that corner, I'd sew down the side I sewed down by machine first.


But, I'm left handed, so when I approach that corner, I'm first sewing down the side that I machine sewed last.  And, that never works out well.  So, I've learned to pin the side I sewed down by machine first as I approach the corner.  That puts the fold that creates the miter on top of the corner, just like it would if I were sewing right to left. 

And, that gives me a much cleaner corner.  Of course, I could not get the one I was taking pictures of for you to turn out perfect, but I got it really close.  Close enough for anything I'm making for home.  I might have picked that out and tried again if it had been a show quilt.  Remember, this is the corner from the back.   The front looks near perfect. 
So, just pinning that side down so that it ends up under the fold, like it would if I were sewing right to left has made a big difference in how my bindings turn out. 
Everybody have a good week.  It's a short week, but it's also first week of the month, so lots of reports.  And, my boss has asked me to do something that's realllllllllly challenging.  I worked on it a little Friday, and couldn't figure it out.  But, fresh start, and all that, right?
Be well.  Lane


Thinking on Thursday

Lots of crazy stuff going on in my world now. 

Harvey has taken a path through LA.  Irma is coming in from the African coast and where she lands seems to depend on which side of Cuba she comes in on.  And, there's other bad weather brewing in the gulf that has me watching the weather almost constantly.  New goal, always know at least as much as my boss.  Sometimes he and I know different things, but I always try to know as much as him.  It's embarrassing if I don't. 

Climate change is real, y'all!  Science is real.  Don't believe the lies.

Gotta love Sydney.  It's what keeps her alive.  She is determined that her having to cook one night a week is not a real thing because she doesn't want it to be.  Holy Cow!  I had to tell her Tuesday that she was cooking Wednesday, no excuses.  And, she did.  She even went to the store and bought what she was going to cook.  She cooked it and it was another delicious meal, tho much simpler than she has been making, which was fine with us.  I walked in the house and to the kitchen and dropped my lunchbox off.  She tensed up.  I said "Thank you" and went to change.  She relaxed and smiled.  She is so lucky to have stubborn parents.  Because it takes someone as stubborn as she is, or she'd run right over them. 

Hmmmm, somehow, I think that has a lot to do with her ending up with us after living with so many people that can't stand up for themselves.  We are both at least as stubborn as her.

Her latest excuse was that she didn't know her schedule.  What??  You know I went to the same community college you're going to, right?  I know you know your schedule. 

The council on biblical manhood and womanhood has decided that you can't be a Christian if you accept gay marriage.  (yes, I read the whole statement because I was so appalled I couldn't stop.  Then, I yawned.  bigot idiots.)  Thank goodness God isn't listening to them when he chooses who to love.

I know the message is pray and give, pray and give.  And, I'm going to say it again.  Pray for the folks dealing with Hurricane Harvey.  The evacuees, the volunteers, the officials...even the insurance adjusters (most of them are there to help you).  And, give what you can give to the relief effort.  Everybody needs a helping hand sometimes.  Make sure the helping hand is there when you need it.  Pay it forward.

Be well.  Have a good Thursday.  Every so often, I have to stop and cry when I read or watch some heroic heart touching story...or a funny reunion.  It doesn't take much to overwhelm me right now.  It proves I'm human

I kinda like being reminded sometimes. 




I guess it was a bad week to send the Ark to the cleaners.

It's been nothing but rain and wind for days.  But, the water didn't stay long.  We watched it fall and flow through the back yard, or run off the front into the street.  When we emptied the rain gauge yesterday, we were at 9".  But, it rained all night.  Folks in neighboring counties are not faring as well as we are.  Lots of rivers are starting to flood. 

We have a few limbs down.  Nothing significant.  We take care of our trees and the extra rain this year seems to have left most of the neighborhood trees in good shape.  It won't take long to get ours cleaned up, after the rain stops.  The power only went off for a few seconds at a time, but it went off so often that we stopped re-setting the clocks.  And, every time it blinked out, I wondered if that was it.  I was sleeping the other night and every time the power would cycle off and on, my phone would buzz.  That woke me up and the lamp beside the bed is one that you touch to turn it on (and power surges turn it on) and it was flashing on and off. 

I can only imagine what is going on in Houston now.  My thoughts are with them.  That's deep water and they're going to be dealing with it for days. 

Rob had to get out on Saturday morning, so he went to the grocery and gas.  He had to buy premium to top his tank off because the store was sold out of everything else.  And, the shelves of the grocery were bare.  There was no meat.  Only a couple of pallets of water.  And, only one kind of bread.  We went on Sunday for our regular grocery run and the shelves were re-stocked, tho not full.  It shows how fragile our food chain is. 

Anyway, I couldn't do much else.  I cooked a little, but I didn't want to start too much in case the power went out.  I thought about cleaning house, but honestly, I really didn't want to.  It was pretty scary, even here and I wanted comfort.  So, I did needlepoint.  I had my canvas ready Friday night and Saturday morning, I opened the blinds so I could see out the window and I sat in front of the window and watched TV and the rain.

Remember the other day I talked about designing two pillows?  I wouldn't pay $50 for the yarn to make them.  But, I kept looking on ebay and eventually, found the slight misspelling that got me to the people that didn't know what they had or just wanted to get rid of it, and found that I was willing to spend $30 to make them.  Of course, that means I'm working with other people's leftovers, but that made choosing yarns to fill the spaces more challenging and fun.  If I only have a little, I can only use it in little places.    You can see the quilt blocks starting to form.  I didn't draw the shape on the canvas.  I marked center and am doing it by counting.  I've only made a couple mistakes so far.  And, I'm learning a LOT about getting lines to line up.  You can see all those points on the flying geese and center square in a square.  That took some thinking, I'll tell you. 

I don't know if you can see it, but this is the pattern for the blocks at the top in the sketch below.  Except I replaced the upper left block.  It was too plain, so I picked something else.  
Everybody have a good Monday!  Do whatever you do to ask your higher power to watch out for our neighbors who are STILL in the path of a harsh storm. 



How do you know you're home?

You know I work in insurance, so you can imagine that right now, I am the weather.  It's about all I'm focused on right now.  Checking it.  Or reacting to it.  And, coaching my less experienced peers. 

The trip to New Orleans went well.  I got to meet some of the people I work with all the time face to face.  I really hit it off with some.  People were excited to see me and welcoming.  There was one guy I work with a LOT and he was late, last one in.  We'd never met face to face, tho.  We had already done around the table introductions, but when he got there, we did them again.  I was last.  And, he got so excited that someone mentioned it a couple hours later, ribbing him.  It felt good to be someone people want to talk to.  And, it was interesting to see my boss's reaction.  I've always worked for folks that saw my popularity as a reflection on them...a good thing.  Not sure my current boss feels the same. 

Oh, well.  As bosses go...

this one will eventually go. 

Anyway, I realized when I got back to Austin Wednesday evening that there's a landmark I always look for when I fly in.  I come out of the secured area onto a landing above baggage claim.  You can see a long way.  And, in the center of this area of the airport there is a statue.  A tribute to a great Texan.

Barbara Jordan, first woman elected to the Texas Senate, first African-American elected to the U.S. House of Representatives from the state of Texas...from anywhere in the deep south.  Orator.  Civil Rights Activist.  If you ever heard her speak, you would not be able to forget that deep, well educated voice.  She spoke with such clarity and skill and calm.  And, whether we know it or not, we miss her today. 

Be well.  Everybody have a great weekend.  If you're in the path of the storm, stay dry.  And, stay safe, no matter where you are. 



A weekend of finishes

Hello and welcome to the eclipse post...not really.  I'm sure we will all hear all we want to about eclipses today...and probably more than we want to about Afghanistan.

It was a busy three day weekend for us.  Rob and I both took Friday off.  We didn't do anything, except relax and enjoy being together.  We spent the cool part of all three days in the yard, cleaning up and watering.  That's August for you.  I think we've had nearly 40 days where the temperature was over 100* this summer, so dealing with dieback and keeping things watered is about all we can do.

During the hot parts of the day, I was inside.  Relaxing.  And, working with needles. 

I got the quilting finished on this little quilt.  And, I learned something.  It was something I ran into on the last quilt I was binding and I tested it on this quilt and it was true.  I guess it's true that an old dog can still learn new tricks. 

The trick I learned is going to be most relevant to left handed quilters.  I am left handed, but sewing machines are right handed.  Or at least right hand oriented.  I have struggled with bindings as long as I've been quilting.  And, this weekend, I learned a better way.

I bind my quilts the traditional way, with the traditional fold at the corners.  You know the one that's supposed to guarantee a perfect miter.  Well, it rarely ended in a perfect miter for me, but I'd tug and pull and stretch and make it look like a miter.  This weekend, I figured out that I'm folding it the wrong way for the way I sew.  A right hander would sew the binding to the front, then turn it over and sew it down on the back by hand, from right to left.  But, I sew by hand from left to right.  That meant those corners were turned the wrong way when I'd fold it to the back.  This time, as I approached the corner, I folded it the other way, folding the side I was approaching over and pinning it down, then folding the side I was working on over and pinning a perfect miter in the corner, then sewing it all down.  That gave me a perfect miter in all four corners.  It's something about the way the fabric is folded that it can't fold over the bulk if I sew it down from left to right. 

Sorry, that was kind of complicated to describe, so you might have to close your eyes to envision what I'm talking about.  What I'm trying to say is that those folded corners that Eleanor Burns showed me how to make work best if you sew the back down from right to left.  And, if you sew it from left to right, there's an easy way to make the fabric act like you're sewing it down the other way that works better.

I also finished the needlepoint piece I've been working on.  Yes, it is a parallelogram instead of a rectangle.  That's going to need some major blocking.  But, I am not going to feel bad, considering this is only the second piece I've done.  I am pretty darn happy with it. 

Ok, that's it for me this eclipse Monday.  Tomorrow, I'm off to New Orleans for one night of business.  I'm not even taking a hand work project.  I'm just not going to be there that long.  But, I have to make sure I pick a book to take with me. 
Everybody have a great day and a great week!  Enjoy the eclipse if you can see it.  We're going to get about 65% and we have our glasses.  I expect to walk outside after lunch for a little while with them to see what I can see.  It's the last one here til 2024.