Four minutes in the garden

Rob made a short video of the garden on Sunday.  I think you'll see why I like it out there so much. 

It's a lot of work, but good work.  Keeps me young and fit...




More work than it sounds like (or five days of quilting is enough!)

I am so glad I took days off to finish my quilts for the show.  The show is next weekend and I need to drop off on Thursday.  I thought my quilts were finished-er than I guess they were.  I probably could have gotten it all done.  Probably.  But, it would have mean being locked in the studio and doing nothing else and I'm very glad I didn't have to do that. 

On Wednesday, I finished quilting the black and brown quilt and I washed and blocked the pastel Dresden Plate quilt. 

On Thursday, I bound the blk/brn quilt and wrote out my labels.  Okay, so first, it's not just a label, it's my name, so I do take some extra time for them.  I used to use my Pfaff to embroider them, but since it's demise, I've been embroidering a bit differently.  First, I write them on paper.  That lets me center and script and erase to get it to look like I want it to.  Then, I trace it to fabric.  Then, I back it with a heavy stabilizer and using my machine and my free motion quilting skills, I sew along the lines with a heavy thread, twice.  The underlining joins the letters so I don't have a knot beginning and ending every letter.  Then, I add embellishment and a frame.  They're not the most professional things ever, but I like them better than just writing them with a sharpie.

On Friday, I made those labels and started making the bags.  Every quilt needs a storage bag and the show requires that they be dropped off in some kind of a bag or pillowcase, so I go ahead and make a nice one.  For the label on the bag, I use the same original to trace from, but those are done with sharpie.  No need to completely over-achieve.

On Saturday, I unfolded the quilt that was completely hand made and found a big black smudge on it.  Something had gotten on it while it was folded up and it left a mark.  I struggled with what to do and did a lot of blotting.  But, in the end, I had to wash and block it as well.  So, we spent Saturday with a queen sized quilt spread across the living room, drying, and threatening animals that wanted to play on it.  I didn't think to take a picture, but here's one from when it was hanging.  Rob pointed out that on a quilt that was made completely by hand, it's ironic that I made the label by machine.  Oh, well. 

And, on Sunday morning, I sewed the label on that quilt and packed everything up into this very nice little pile.  Rob will drop them off for me on Thursday. 

I'm glad I had five days.  I always get nervous showing my quilts.  It's fun to stand nearby and hear what people say about my quilts.  But, it's stressful, like sending my babies out for inspection. 
And, my reward was getting to make a BOM block late Saturday afternoon and I got to do  a considerable amount of work in the yard.  That helped me relax and worked out some stress from quilt shows and the office, so now I'm relaxed and ready to face the world again with a cheerful demeanor. 
Let's see how long it takes somebody to mess that up. 
Everybody have a great Monday!  Lane


Coming to a garden near you...

It's spring. 

Remember that first spring weekend when you go out and do too much and regret it the next day?

Today is my regret day.

But, we really got a lot done and the yard looks GREAT!  We were cleaning out leaves from moldy places, so we are both dealing with allergies today. 

Columbine in bloom. 

Mock Orange just starting to bloom. 

Everything is greening up and growing like weeds.  I can hardly wait til Daylily season. 

This is the intensive care section; a place for plants I've dug up and divided to rest for a while before they find new homes. 

I worked until I could hardly move, but that didn't stop me from quilting.  Of course, all this spring outside has made it hard to work on a black and brown quilt.  I want that bright spring colored Broken Star quilt.  But, this quilt has a deadline.  It has to be washed, blocked and ready to drop off at the quilt show on 03/30.  I can make it, I can make it, I can make it...

I'm just down to the background filler now, and I'm done with all of that except the center block. 

This is what the feathers in the border look like after I put the background quilting in it (for the second time).

I originally did tiny echo work around the feathers and I hated it.  It distorted the print, in that it became a second print laid on the original print of the fabric.  I didn't want that, so Saturday, I started pulling it out.  When Rob caught me pulling thread, he said he wasn't surprised.  Last weekend, I was forcing my quilting (stress quilting); quilting to get something done, whether it was the right something or not.  And, he wasn't surprised that I wanted to replace it.  And, I did. 

What I put in is random.  It's not even micro stippling because I didn't worry about crossing over my lines.  I just filled.  And, it came out exactly like I'd envisioned it.  And it was much faster than that echo work. 

Well, it's Monday again.  yippee.  But, it's only a two day work week for me, and then I'm home to finish the quilts for the show.  All three of them need some level of work before they're "finished".  Maybe it's just another wash and block and a label.  Or maybe it's some final quilting.  But, with those extra days, I shouldn't have any trouble getting finished.  Fingers crossed. 

Everybody have a great week!!  Lane


Thoughts off the wall

I'm just back from a business trip and haven't really gathered my thoughts, but here are a few things that occurred to me during the week.  Just putting them out there for the universe. 

I traveled from sunny and warm Texas into winter storm Stella.  This was not a good idea.  Fortunately, we were right on the edge of it, so all we really saw was cold and wind.  Cold and wind that cut through me like a knife.  I had layers.  And, I wore some of them, most of the time and all of them some of the time.  I wore my new red and white shirt I made...but nobody got to see it, so I'll give it an official debut at a future meeting.  I was warmer than some of the Clevelanders that for some reason always seem surprised to get somewhere and find that it's actually cold out.  I spent the days referring to myself as Texas, as in Texas is going back in.  Or, Texas is closing the door.  Or Texas is getting back on the bus, when we stood outside for an hour and a half, watching other people test drive cars.  And, I regularly gave them weather updates.  From Texas...sunny and 75 in Texas.  And, more than once, I offered to host them all at the next March meeting...in Texas.

And, I was funny.  Not just a little bit funny.  I took it on myself to be the entertainment; to keep people laughing.  At some point yesterday, when I was in the airport and away from the team, two things dawned on me.  One, I got my Daddy's sense of humor.  He's very funny, and can toss out a comment in response to the most common statements that makes everyone laugh.  I spent three days doing that.  Not starting funny stories, just adding a few words to the normal, common things that people said that suddenly made people laugh.  It felt good to give joy.  And second, I want to be that way more in my real life.  I can.  I want to.  But, I've been so angry for so long and rather than inflict that on anybody, I've gotten quiet.  So quiet that people forget to include me.  I can do something about that.  And, I hope to.

I came home last night and spread myself across the house.  I dropped things everywhere.  After three days of having to keep everything in a pile so I didn't lose anything, it was nice to be home and have room to spread out.  I felt like a dog marking territory.  Unfortunately, now I'll have to round all that stuff up and put it where it really belongs. 

My boss likes to maintain a position above the fray.  He doesn't get involved.  I've never worked for anyone that was so not involved.  And, this week, it bit him in the butt and I enjoyed hell out of it.  He created a crisis that unfolded in front of his boss.  And, there is no amount of tattling on him that would have been more effective than letting things unfold naturally was.  I'm going to try to remember that when he's frustrating me, the universe has a way of making things right. 

We went to the IIHS (something Institute of Highway Safety) headquarters for our meeting.  I work for an auto insurance company.  If you're thinking of buying a vehicle, new or used, please visit their website and check out the safety ratings.  You'd be surprised at what happens to vehicles and people in even a small crash.  We saw videos that are available on U-tube.  It's horrific!  Pick a vehicle for safety, not because it's "pretty".  IIHS is not making this stuff up.  They are very scientific and use controlled experiments to rate vehicles.  I'll never buy again without them. 

We visited Monticello, Thomas Jefferson's home.  First, would somebody give them some money so they can fix that beautiful structure up?  There are beautiful modern buildings as tributes to other people on the property, a museum, a theater and a gift shop.  That money should have been spent restoring Monticello.  It was good to see that they are not shying away from the contradiction that was Thomas Jefferson, a man who believed in freedom for all...white men.  A man who saw slavery as the shameful thing it was, but still owned slaves.  It's good to see the contradictions in our founders and not just the shiny textbook pretense of perfection that I was taught in the 70's. 

This week is SXSW in Austin.  The plane last night was filled with millennials.  Millennials apparently were taught to speak by Samuel L Jackson.  I've never heard the F word used that way or that often by ungrateful little privileged white kids that want to be thugs.  Rich people, slap the crap out of your kids please.  They are offensive.  And, if your daughter is complaining that some old man shouldered her in the side of the face and pretended the plane hit turbulence, it was me.  She was drooling on me.  I don't know what drug she was on, but I sure enjoyed that one little bit of getting even for the universe. 

But, as Sheldon says, she was "in my spot". 

Thank God for people in power on both sides of the aisle that are starting to get wise to what we have known since November and are starting to stand up to the orange stain.  Have you looked up who your members of congress are?  Have you written a letter yet?  I have not.  I shall correct that beginning today.  I shall write many letters.  Speak now, or forever be oppressed. 

I am so far behind on reading blogs.  They keep us moving on these business trips so that people don't take too much advantage of being away from spouses and family.  But I will catch up.  I hope your weeks have been more exciting than mine and I can't wait to read about it. 

If I walk away now, I can sew just a little bit before I have to get ready for work.  I love you all, but I'm going to sew.  See ya!




When we went antiquing a couple weeks ago, there was this one vendor that had a lot of sewing stuff, including a vintage machine.  Anyway, that booth is always like that, and every time we go there, I paw around in it, looking at patterns, notions and a large basket of scissors.  And, I generally end up buying something. 

One of the things she's done is to take cellophane bags and fill them with things that only share color in common.  There's a vintage postcard to hold them flat and spools of thread and other things that are similar in color. 

I picked a yellow bag.  I picked it because of the tiny scissors that were in it, knowing they might not work...and being right. 

I was seduced by the cuteness.  The thread is rotted, the thimble is too small, there's one miscellaneous button...like I need another button.  The needles have rusted.  The scissor sharpener might work, we'll have to see...it didn't help the tiny scissors.  And, I don't have any shoes to match that shiny gold sewing kit bag.  The very small embroidery hoop was a separate purchase from the same vendor.  I'm pretty sure it would work, but it's fragile and made for smaller, more delicate hands than I have. 

But, it gave me delight.  And, it's still giving me delight.  And, that's more delight than the three dollar price tag. 

And, they make the perfect addition to my collection of vintage sewing tools. 

Everybody have a great Thursday.  Work is so wrong.  There really ought to be a better way to make money.  My longest lunch hour this week was 20 minutes.  I make sure I get up from my desk at least twice to walk all the way around our very large building.  You guys have heard about those walks.  They add to my steps, but more importantly, they get me out of my bubble and make me interact with people I encounter; make me smile, make me stand a little straighter, have a short chat or a longer catch up, and they just lighten my mood. 

I've started saying things to my boss that I was holding in before.  Telling him how I feel about things.  Explaining that I know he can't do anything about it right now, but that doesn't mean I don't need to let him know how I'm feeling.  I don't know if it's making things better for him, but it's sure as heck making things easier for Rob because I don't come home and say it to him. 

That's a win. 

I was ruining happy hour. 

See ya'!



Steady progress

Slow and steady wins the race, right? 

It was a strange week, with health scares and weirdness at work.  But, we got through it and made it to the weekend.  As a distraction, I started playing an online game.  That is NOT conducive to quilting and sewing, so I don't know how far I'll actually get.  Probably not far.  It was a great short term distraction, but I'm not willing to put any real time and especially not any money into it.  But, I see how addictive it could be. 

I also decided to switch out the main sewing machine in the studio.  I went from Ken Moore, the Kenmore to Lorene, the Singer 401A.  But, Lorene needs to see a professional.  When I got her, I tried to clean her up and in doing so, I messed up something.  I fiddled and fiddled and fiddled with her yesterday and managed to get a straight seam, but the fabric ripples a little, like the tension is off and just as I started to make progress on that, she started to skip stitches.  So, she went back and my Grandmother's 15-91 came out to play.  This is the machine from the video last week. 

It's been a couple years since I sewed with this machine.  I remember installing a new light kit and I must not have used it again because when I plugged it in, the handwheel started to turn and the needle started to go.  I pulled out the pedal and made sure it wasn't stuck.  And, then I knew I'd made a mistake in the wiring.  But, a quick search of the internet for a diagram and a screwdriver and about a half hour's work and I had corrected that, and from the first piece of fabric I put under her foot, she sewed perfectly.  As always.  This is a very good machine.  When I replaced the light kit, I fixed the bobbin winder.  I wonder what will happen next time I try to wind a bobbin.

I'm making slow and steady progress on the small quilt.  I try to work on it a little bit every day and it's paid off.  I think I'm done with everything except the outer border.  At least I'm going to try not to add any more quilting to the center.  You can see the beginnings of the feathers in that border.  Three lines.  The center one is the feather's spine and the other two are the outer limits.  I need to fill between the lines.  It makes it so much easier to get consistent feathers when I start with these outlines. 

Here it is from the back.  You can really see the texture.  In the picture above, see the border that is made of larger and smaller squares, set on point?  That quilted as the lattice shown below.  You can really see the texture from the two layers of batting from the back.  I won't do that again, but for a one time thing, it's been...well, an experience.  There are plenty of reasons I won't do it again.  I used two layers of wool batting for the texture.  And, I got plenty of texture.  But, that much loft brings its own set of problems in machine quilting. 

And, while my cinnamon rolls were rising, I put the fourth block of Rob's camper quilt together. 

That's cute, but they really get cute when I add the black blanket stitching and outline everything. 

Okay, that's it for me.  Plenty other things to do.  It's another work Monday.  whoopee.  Everybody have a great day and I'm going to do my best to smile my way through it.