The boss is back

and he's got me workin'

the boss is back!

He's been out of town and he's come back with a whole new list of things for me to work on. That's the disadvantage of him being away. He comes back with new stuff.

It's like when your Mom used to leave and give you a list of chores. Ya work on them while she's gone, but you don't really apply yourself fully to them. And, then she's back and oh, crap! Where's the vacuum? Can I wipe the toilet and pretend I scrubbed it?

Yes, adulthood is not really that different than childhood.

Hope you're having a great day. We're taking the beast shopping tomorrow for school clothes. I think Rob and I will split a pill before we leave. We're gonna need it. Maybe we'll take an extra one with us.

Funny. When I was a kid, if you were being a pill, you were being annoying. Nowadays, pills keep things from being annoying.



If everybody...

...jumped off the Ouachita River Bridge, would you?

Oh, how many thousands of times did my Mom say that to me? It was her response to "everybody was doing it", every time.

And, if I'm remembering that far back, then I'm making up for Way Back Wednesday (which I missed yesterday because I was too busy feeling sorry for myself).

Just once, I wish I'd had the strength to answer honestly..."Yes, if everybody jumped off the Ouachita River Bridge, I probably would too. Peer pressure is just that important to a kid."

Peer pressure. That overwhelming need to find somebody to conform to. Somebody expressing their individuality that was also an expression of my own, and that I could mimic. Because really, there just aren't that many personality archetypes out there to mimic. So, the best I could do was find one similar to how I felt. Usually, that was the misfits. Or, the smart kids that didn't want anybody to know they were smart.

Peer pressure was strong and got me to ruin a great pair of shoes, just because no one else understood that they were an expression of me and who I was becoming. Peer pressure is unrelenting and it can be cruel, especially to a child.

I think as an adult, I find peer pressure to be more frighteing than cruel. Will they like me? Will wearing this make me fit in, or stand out? Is this appropriate? Should I say what I think? Should I keep my mouth shut? Is what I have to say important enough to say it and possibly be out of synch with my peers?

Peer pressure has caused me to keep more things to myself than I can count. And, now I'm seeing peer pressure from the other side; as a parent. As a parent, I want so many things for my kid. But, part of being a parent is to recognize the part that peer pressure is going to play in her life. For example, right now, she's all into T-shirts and Polo shirts. Plain jeans. Because that's what her best friends wear. But, I know that soon, those best friends are going to change what they wear and we're going to have to start buying a new wardrobe.

Can't be helped. I know it's coming. Thankfully, she gravitates toward girls who are similar in shape and build and their Mother's are steering them toward clothes that look good on that shape and build (not slinky spaghetti straps and short-shorts).

And, there's peer pressure to not study; not be smart, same as when I was a kid. And, she needs to be given the opportunity to follow that peer pressure, while at the same time, learn to expect the consequences of that behavior. Freedom and consequences. She needs those because I want her to know how to deal with people when she's an adult. And, maybe she won't make some of the mistakes I made.

And, parenting means applying my own kind of peer pressure, because being a member of a family is also about being a member of a peer group. And, you either conform to that peer group, or you struggle against it. And, I don't want my kid to struggle against my peer group. I want her to want to be part of it, just like she wants to be part of her other peer groups. And, that means expanding myself to accomodate her. Because if I don't, she's not going to want to be part of my group. And, she's not going to want to imitate me. And, I want her to want that.

I know for me it was confusing and it was hard. Hard to fit into the peer group of my family, while also expressing myself. And, I know that over time, my peer groups became more reflective of my family's values. And then, as an adult, I changed peer groups again to be more reflective of my own values. And, I hope that my child will do the same. Because that's how adults express their values. And, I hope that I will be accepting of that. Even when it's hard.

There's a bible verse that goes something like: teach a child in the ways that are right and as an old man, they will not depart from it.

But, that requires that a parent have faith. Faith that their child is listening. And faith they will remember. After they've gone out and made their own mistakes, they will remember.

My question is whether I'll be able to steer my child to peer groups that will reflect her values and help her have the personal power to stay out of peer groups that would change her values. Cuz, no matter how much I complain, I kinda like her values. She's a good kid. And, she tries hard to fit into my family peer group. Oh, she's lazy, and she can have a very smart mouth and she cries at the drop of a hat. But, I challenge you to find me a pre-teen that doesn't. Okay, find me a happy pre-teen that doesn't.

Peer pressure. Do you fit in?


What I'm working on...

It's so funny how I can combat my feelings of being overwhelmed by taking charge. I woke up this morning...ok, honestly, I woke up at 3:30 feeling as defeated as I was yesterday. But, by 5am, I was the master of my universe again. Taking charge. Getting back to the things I love. The things that are important to me. So, look out world, here I come again!

This is a picture of the quilt I have under the machine right now. It's a sample that everybody like when I showed the whole thing here. This was the first block I quilted. I've finished 2 more and have a third one started. But, those have washout pen marks all in them, so I'll spritz them before I show pics. All the blocks have HST's around the edges. I decided to quilt each block with some version of feathers and those curved lines in the HST's. But, making feathers fit into each block is quite a challenge.

And, this quilt was also featured in that other post. This is my hand-quilting project and I'm getting an average 11 stitches to the inch. Try as I might, I can't always get 12 stitches. But, 10-11 is getting pretty easy because the batting is so thin in this quilt.

Every stitch in this little quilt has been by hand, piecing and quilting. I'm hoping to take it on vacation and finish it on the drive. I don't know if I'll try to sew the binding on completely by hand. That just seems a little crazy to me. But, I like being able to say that every stitch is by hand, so I might have to figure out a way to be a little crazy.
I'm back world. And, it's about time because all that depression was boring the heck outta me.
Blessing 9 - the hard drive on the laptop is busted. But, there's a new laptop in stock just around the corner from the house. So, I hope to be back to my old computer using self again by bedtime.
Blessing 10 - there's a frozen dinner in the freezer so I don't have to cook tonight and can play with a new laptop.
Ya' know, this counting my blessings thing is working pretty good. I just have to remember that it can't be done in a half hour. It takes time to find all the blessings sometimes. Like a good Easter egg hunt.


Blessing number 8

Sydney offered to do the dishes. Well, not exactly offered, but when I told her to take her plate to the kitchen, she said, "I'm doing the dishes." I guess in 12-year-old-speak, that counts as an offer.

Behind her back, Rob silently mouthed: You're welcome
Me: What brought that on?
Rob: I've put a small explosive in her dog and I'm holding the detonator.

Hey, ya' know? Whatever it takes. I'm good. And, now I have a half hour to kill. What will I do.

I hear a quilt calling.



A wee bit down in the mouth

Down in the mouth...a phrase to express sadness. A frown turns down.

Life is trying. And, try as I might to keep my "glass half full" smile on my face, there are days that it's just not going to work out.

There are so many things to balance; parenting, partnering, housework, quilting, work. Good choices/bad choices. Honesty, strength and honor.

And, today I'm feeling a little weighted down with all of it.

Part of it is that I let too many small things get to me. Like the crazy lady I'm dealing with on ebay. She's been enough to make me think twice about buying. Fortunately, I haven't encountered anyone like her when I'm the seller.

And, there's the guy that holds the future of my latest project in his hands. Vindictive, political. All the things I'm not good at because I speak my mind too often.

People in traffic. What makes people behave so badly just because they're controlling a ton of steel and plastic. Is it because controlling that ton of steel and plastic is the only place they are in control? Do they need that like I need chocolate?

And, I picked up the dog's ashes this morning. That's got me a little down in the mouth, but I was just as affected by the lady in the waiting room that was bad mouthing the vet that put them down because she doesn't think the vet is a good vet. I mean, wouldn't you just take your pet somewhere else if you didn't think the vet was any good? Or would you sit in the waiting room and bad mouth them behind their back? (Rhetorical questions, all) And, was there anyone there that couldn't tell I was a little emotional, and why? I mean, I had that dark green bag that only means one thing in the vet's office.

So, today, I'm going to pull out the old headset, turn the tunes up loud, and work on finding my "up in the mouth". Work on filling my half empty glass.

I might even look at some beautiful quilt pictures, because that always cheers me up. Here's hoping my new laptop screen comes in today's mail because that would really cheer me up. I miss my laptop as much as I would miss my sewing machines. They are an extension of my fingers. They keep me connected to the world at large, albeit in different ways.

Take care and keep your glass half full so that when mine gets back to that level, we'll be able to play fun games together.


More quilt pics

Okay, so things aren't really getting better. I got the very expensive laptop screen replaced last night and found out there's also a problem with the hard drive. If I buy another hard drive, I will have spent as much on replacement parts as the cost new of the laptop. Today, I sent it to our friend that works on computers for a living. He's going to check whether the hard drive is the only other thing. If there's nothing else, then maybe it's worth it as the laptop was brand new. If there's something else, it's time to just quit and start shopping for a new one.

At this point, I can either start shouting bad words. Or, I can just refuse to acknowledge any more of my own misfortunes. I am officially in an extreme state of denial. I mean it. Anybody that brings me a problem is going to get nothing in return but a blank stare. I swear.

I have tried counting my blessings, but every time I get to number 6, my mind drifts to problems. 1)Rob, 2)Sydney, 3)my health, 4)my good job, 5)Bella, 6)money in the bank. At this point, I go from money in the bank for our vacation to "need a new laptop" and it all falls apart. Because, when I get to money, need new carpet, need a new deck, and need to paint the kitchen start to invade my thoughts. Grrrr.

So, instead of thinking about any of that, I absorbed myself in work and music yesterday and last night it was cooking, and computer repair. This morning, looking through the quilt show pics to see whether my pictures were good enough to share (and some hand quilting of my own. I forgot how relaxing that is!). And, after that, it was back to work and more loud showtunes.

This quilt is from the group Theme Quilt. It is named Summery Mystery 2005 and was made by Vi Eng.

Now, this quilt stopped us all in our tracks. I studied it and cannot figure out what all she did to create this three dimensional quilt. I know some of it was trapunto, and I think the beard was quilted and then stuffed, but at any rate, it was a real stunner and this was the best pic I got. It is called Santa Baby and was made by Sarah Huie.

These next two quilts are from the Senior Quilts category. The maker had to be of a certain age, which was published in the book, but I'm not gonna share it on the internet. Because I value my life.

You might recognize this quilt as I made one just like it. This was the store sample that intrigued me and "talked me into" buying the kit. It is called Cascade and was made by Fay Cooper.

And, this one is Mexican Star by Sandra Jackson. I love the curve she created by folding back the edges of the white fabric to expose the blue.

And, one other I wish I had gotten a better picture of was Benji's Jacobean Christmas by Patricia James. Beautiful quilt!

Okay, just from looking at these quilts again, I came up with blessing number 7. Having a friend who's willing to work on my computer for the price of taking him to lunch. That one is really a blessing.
Take care and I'll let you know if I can find blessing number 8 later in the day. I know it's there and hopefully, trying to find it will help me pull out of my funk.


hand quilting pics

Here are a few pics we took out of the hand-quilting category. I'm having to admit that I am NOT a photographer. My hand shakes too bad and I ended up with a bunch of really bad pics. So, apologies to anyone who made a beauty that I can't post my picture of.

This is Honeybunny's Garden Quilt by Brenda Goggans, master quilter.

And, this is Aunt Grace's sampler by Fawn Kunnermann, master quilter.

And, here are the stamps we got to enter. Couldn't resist this shot of our wrists.

Funny thing, after my two bad days last week, we got to the show and everything I encountered, I bumped into and/or knocked over. It got to be comical after a while. I even bumped into some of the display quilts as I was trying to take pics. Sydney threatened to report me to the quilt police. But, I think they could tell how bad I was feeling about it and wouldn't have bothered me too much.

We had a great time and yesterday was all about our local shopping and chores. I should have devoted some of yesterday's time to these pictures BECAUSE I HAVE THE CRAPPIEST CAMERA SOFTWARE EVER WRITTEN! and everything takes forever. So, I'm out of time for today and looking forward to getting to work so I can sit still and rest some. I logged 7000 steps on Saturday and another 8000 yesterday and even though I'm a walker, walking the dog every day except trash day (because trash day stinks in summer), my legs are sore. I'm trying to build up to an average of 10k steps per day, but that's harder than I thought. Yesterday is my highest number since I started tracking it a couple weeks ago.

Take care and have a great week. We'll see ya' round the web. Lane


Other people's UFO's

What was I thinking???? Last year, I started so many projects. And, this year, I committed to finish them. So, why was I buying other people's UFO's at the New Braunfels quilt show? I couldn't help myself. I got these at the guild booth and each was $1

This first one is a tumbling blocks quilt and even though you can't really see it in the picture, the background is dark blue and the purple and blue print tumbling blocks are just vivid and wonderful.

And, these cmas trees. She had 3 finished and 4 more cut and I got the pattern and the templates.

But, the one I really lucked on came from an antique shop we stopped in on the way to lunch. The shop was huge and my two poor breakfast tacos had worn off. My stomach was growling. And, this shop was really big. So, by the time we circled around and got back near the front door, I wasn't thinking clearly. And, I bargained the seller down and bought this for $12.

Inside it were these. Even though the box says 108, I counted 110. They probably were originally meant to finish at 3.5 inches.

They are the cutest, tiny 4-patches set in yellow QST's and a red border. I'm going to sash them together, maybe with cornerstones. We debated sashing color. Any suggestions? I thought blue, Rob and Sydney thought pink or brown. After I square them, I think they'll probably finish at 3". Some of them are kind of...rectangle. That's it.

Now, here is the most fun part of this story. We get to the German restaurant for lunch and are seated and sipping our tea and I start counting my blocks. And, I hear a lady at the next table talking about the blocks and then, she asked a question, and I handed over blocks and we looked at them, and we found out that one of the ladies was the President of the Bryan, TX quilt guild. I found these patterns at the bottom of the box and we started passing them and before I knew it, the pres of the guild was on the phone with the library, trying to date the paper that the previous owner cut her templates from. Turns out that one of the templates has a two digit phone number for an insurance agency and an address and she had a librarian look it up and that town hasn't used two digit phone numbers since 1924. Okay, so that's just one piece of paper that might be that old. And, it doesn't mean the blocks are that old...but what if they are? I'm certainly not going to try to date anything and ruin this intrigue. I love a good story better than the truth. I wish we had exchanged more information. As we drove home, I wished I had given them my blog name. But, we didn't and it turned out to be one of those chance encounters between quilters.

Funny thing, the finger work I took for the drive was packed into a newer Whitman's sampler tin. I guess the idea that quilters recycle isn't a new one.

The quilt show was huge. Much bigger than we expected. And, I took lots of photos and had a better organization system so I can link names and quilts together and credit the maker in the post. I didn't spend too much money, just some fats and hand dyes and a few yards that were really cheap at the guild table. I'm using Rob's laptop. My new screen should be on the way. And, it did cost as much as Christmas.
Take care and hope you're having a nice weekend. My string of bad luck seems to have ended. At least I hope so. Well, except for the heat. We saw Lucifer buying ice on the way home.


Back to bed

Cover my head
Ain't nothin' goin' right
But, I'm hangin' on tight
And I ain't gonna cry no more, no more
I ain't gonna cry no more.

Good grief, this has been the worst two days and it's only 9 o'clock. Yesterday started bad and quickly went downhill. Someone found an error I made in a document that was going to a state agency. I asked where a co-worker was because all her personal items are missing from her desk and turns out she's AWOL and several times during the day yesterday, I got called in for questions and information that I didn't need, cuz I don't care, except that I'm jealous of the "balls-iness" that it takes to walk away from a good job in this economy. I was supposed to present in a meeting yesterday and that co-worker I talk about that drives me crazy stepped over me every time I opened my mouth and presented "for me". And, through all that, I kept my "glass half full" smile on.

But, last night I was in a hurry and cooking in my work clothes and a zip lock full of shrimp, and onions and olive oil exploded at the bottom and got everywhere...and I mean everywhere. There's even oil on my car keys that I hurriedly left on the counter. At that point, after being a good boy and stuffing all my frustration inside all day, I shouted "This has been the worst day!" (expletive deleted) and padded off to change my clothes so I could get the olive oil in the wash, while my poor family kept quiet as mice and moved quickly out of my way.

And, as if fate just had to get in just one last jab, the new recipe for citrus marinated shrimp on a bed of pasta and fresh orange sections that I was cooking for supper was dry, and only the shrimp had any flavor and I got to watch my family pick at it and make faces when they put it in their mouths. At that point, all I could do was laugh and tell them what good sports they were being, which broke the tension. They know they normally get better food, and sometimes have to eat one of my mistakes. It balances out in their favor. And, after I had introduced the topic, they could tell me honestly what they thought of the dish. Probably won't be making that one again.

This morning, everything is going well, and I'm uploading these pics and remember my oily clothes and don't want to run them through the dryer, so I bring them to the sewing room and move the three legged ironing board that has my laptop on it, and my laptop falls and breaks the screen. crap, Crap! CRAP!!! That's gonna cost a small fortune to fix.

I was almost afraid to drive to work or take Syd to summer camp. I'm just not sure it's safe for me to be out of bed. Seems the whole city is in danger.

But, I did want to show pics of this old lovely. It was made by one of my maternal great-grandmothers. We don't know which. It has been loved to death. In each block, the half square triangles that are nearest the sashing are cut from the same loosely woven, but heavy brown cloth. Those old brown dyes were made with iron and the iron rusts and the fabric breaks down, especially along the fold lines. And, apparently, it was folded the same way and stored for several years, so the fold lines are really in bad shape. It has a beautiful assortment of vintage fabrics. I'd like to say that one day I'll repair it, but unfortunately, it might be in too bad shape for that. This might have to be one that is carefully stored for the rest of my time and maybe the next person will be able to bring themselves to cut it and make something newly useful out of it. I can't, but I know that other people do.

Here's a closer shot. I think some of these are drapery weight fabrics, but most are just colorful cottons from the 40's and 50's.

And, I'm sure it kept my relatives warm for a very long time before it got into such bad shape.
This was a very popular pattern in N Louisiana where I grew up. I have two quilts in this pattern from my Mom's side of the family. And I know my Mom used it to make a quilt for my sister. And, from my paternal great grandmother, I have another in the same pattern, but with the pieces cut much smaller, so that there are more rows of squares within each block.

And, because even on a bad day, I'm trying to look for the silver lining, the presentation that I gave on Tuesday was approved to move on to the next stage. And I'm celebrating that, even though it means I'll have a lot more work to do as it moves through the process for final approval. Hey, having stuff to do makes the work day pass faster. We're going to a quilt show in New Braunfels, TX this weekend and after the show, taking the small town route home to visit our favorite antique shops. Of course, I don't have any money BECAUSE I HAVE TO BUY A STUPID LAPTOP SCREEN. But I'm not bothered bothered bothered. I'll be fine. I'm sure I will.

It's everyone around me I'm worried about.

Take care and maintain a safe distance. Lane


Cat's head biscuits and quilt pictures

Cat's head biscuits are so named because they are the size of a cat's head.

So, I'm going to make your mouth water. Imagine a biscuit that is as big as a fist, taller than it is wide. Perfectly light brown on the outside and when you break it open, it just steams with moist goodness. My Mama's biscuits were always like that. Light and fluffy and big. Perfect to split open and put in a half slice of ham or a sausage patty and turn into an impromptu sandwich. Perfect slathered in butter and jelly.

I can remember my Mom making these biscuits in an 8 inch cake pan. I have those pans. They're beat up and creased and banged up, just like they were when she made biscuits in them. And, I have the same recipe she used. I use the same ingredients in the same proportion and bake them in the same pan. But somehow, my biscuits are not as big, not as fluffy as hers. Don't get me wrong; I am known for making a good biscuit. But, they're not Mama's.

There was no rolling and cutting on those biscuits. She formed each one by hand. She'd melt a little shortening in the pan and roll the formed biscuits in it and then slide them in next to one another so they fit tight. When I make the recipe, it just barely fills the pan and there's no need to pack them in tight.

She'd take the pan out of the oven, after the perfect amount of time, and turn the biscuits out on a plate. Then, my Dad would start his part of the breakfast process and he'd break each one open and slide in a pat of Imperial Margarine, close the biscuit and turn it upside down on the plate. That Margarine would melt and soak into the biscuit top. Yum.

Then, we'd slather them with home made jelly and eat every one she made. Each one as big as a cat's head. If there were more than we could eat for breakfast, we'd find them at the lunch table. If there were extras when she made Turkey and Dressing, they'd find their way into the dressing. Never waste something as good as the perfect biscuit.

My sister and I would argue over the center biscuit because it was the one with the most rough surface. The ones around the edges had the flat surface where they rose against the sides of the pan, but the ones in the center didn't have that smoothness. I guess the center biscuit was the most desirable because they were the scarcest. At some point, I can remember that my Mom started putting two biscuits in the center. That worked that problem out.

2 homemade biscuits; 2 eggs, scrambled in bacon fat; bacon (you remember bacon when it was more lean than fat?) or sausage patties; grits (ground up white corn, boiled in water until it was like polenta, for those of you not from the south) that had been made yellow with melted Margarine and liberally speckled with black pepper; and orange juice. That was breakfast when I was growing up. It makes my mouth water just to think of it. And, it makes this morning's breakfast of 2 eggs scrambled in olive oil; 2 slices of Turkey bacon, cooked in the microwave; one slice of whole wheat toast with a half teaspoon of storebought jam spread thinly over it pale in comparison. But, my parents and grandparents were more active than my family is. They worked all day, every day. Plaque had no time to settle in their arteries.

Times change and so does food. And, that makes this memory part of Way Back Wednesday.


Now for the quilt pics. This is my fancy quilt. I haven't shown pics of the finished product yet because I was so disappointed that it didn't turn out the way I wanted. Don't get me wrong, it is beautiful, but it is not a reflection of what I thought it would be. After all, it's hard to acknowledge that the back of my quilt is prettier than the front.

This is a shot of the front of the quilt. You can barely see the quilting in it. Key lesson learned is still thread color choice. I used an olive green fabric and a yellow thread. Everyone says to use a shade lighter than you think you should. I started at olive and went lighter to yellow. I should have either started at yellow and gone lighter or gone darker than the olive fabric.

Now, here is the finished back. In the border, I used the print on the fabric from the front and quilted around every flower petal and leaf and used echo filler in the brown blank space. None of it shows from the front, but all that detail is in the back.
These next two pics are just sections of the back. The lower right corner...

and the upper left.

I don't know when I'll spend another 6 weeks quilting a quilt like I did this little one. It is very time intensive and took about 2200 yards of thread for a quilt that measures 40"x40". But, I will make another one. Something close to whole cloth like this one is. But, I'll be more careful selecting thread.

Well, that's all that's going on with us right now. Take care and we'll see ya' round the www. Lane


The Vexedman Method

Are you the emotional equivalent of a 98 pound weakling? Are you tired of getting sand in your face from the passing over-confident?

Then, the Vexedman method is for you!

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You'll find that with the Vexedman method, you can make any decision about any topic and at the same time, promote yourself as the actual center of your universe. What? You're not sure what being the center of your universe is all about? It means taking care of yourself. Taking care of your family. Taking care of all your loved ones, by first taking care of yourself.

And, no, you won't have to worry about appearing to be selfish or self-centered. Because you will be taking care of yourself, you'll find that the feelings of others are really about them, and not about you. This way of living can boost your ability to "come out of the closet" and be your own person (finally). After years of trying, you can be...


Imagine that wonderful feeling of being special. And, you don't have to convince anyone else that you are special. It only takes one person to think you are special for you to get all the benefits that the Vexedman method has to offer. And, that person is YOU!

I was skeptical of the Vexedman method until I actually tried it. And, with the making of a single decision, the formulation of one plan, I discovered that I can be happy with almost any decision I have to make. And, the only person I had to consider to find that feeling was myself. I created a fantasy of what I wanted, and I made it happen.--Roscoe Faustus, Eunatius, Georgia

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The Vexedman method may cause sweaty palms, sweaty pits, nervous stomach, irritable bowel syndrom, and heart palpatations in the first days after you begin to use it. Individual results may vary. See your therapist to find out if you're healthy enough for independent decision making before trying the Vexedman method. If you decide not to try the Vexedman Method, you will be responsible for your own disappointment. Supervision by a qualified professional is recommended when beginning the Vexedman Method program. If your results seem atypical for you, then you're probably doing it right.



Opportunity is a funny thing. We like to think of opportunity as always being good. But, I don't think I'm the only one that sees an opportunity in some things for good and an opportunity in others for disaster.

For example, I'm giving a presentation at work tomorrow that is an opportunity for advancement. It's one of those chances that can really boost a career. And, I can see the opportunity for good in it.

But, there are other things where all I see is the opportunity for disaster. And, those are the things I try not to do. With great enthusiasm, I try not to do them.

I remember someone blogging recently about having to spend the weekend with a sister in law and how the visit was fraught with the opportunity for disaster. And, after the weekend, we found out that the blogger was right. Disaster had presented itself and she made the visit tolerable by taking her sewing machine and locking herself away from the SIL.

I know that feeling. That foreboding. That inability to protect myself from the impending disaster.

There are some people, some places and some events that just bring up that sixth sense that warns us that this could be really unpleasant, and that the best thing we could do is to wear our armor and be prepared to fight or flee.

I want to be one of those people who sees the opportunity for good in everything I do. But, to me, that just reeks of naivete. Every situation is not primed for good. Some people are just going to be difficult and if you don't mind screaming at them over and over and over again about the same things, then you can look forward to the opportunity for good after the screaming part is over. But, if you're tired of having the same argument over and over again and you just want all the unpleasantness to stop, and you're tired of being drawn into their web, then all you can see is the opportunity for disaster.

If you want to go to an amusement park and you can see the opportunity for fun, then you look forward to the event. But, if all you can see is kids flying off the most dangerous ride, then you're not going to look forward to it at all.

My shyness is driven by a fear of criticism.Criticism is a hard thing for someone to endure, especially if they've received a lot of it. It's either an opportunity to do good. Or, an opportunity for disaster. As a parent, whose whole life is affected by the amount of criticism I've received, how do I provide a critique, and aim that toward the good instead, and not make my child fearful of disaster?

It's a pickle. And, one I struggle with every day.

So, that's what I have on my mind. Opportunities. And, there are quite a few of them going on for me right now. The opportunities for disaster sometimes outweigh the opportunities for good. I used to start every day hunkered down, waiting for the disaster to strike. Waiting to be criticized. Creating situations to make it happen. Thankfully, that only happens once in a while anymore. But, I have vivid memories of how hard it was to get out of bed and do anything.

Good grief, today's post was supposed to be so up beat. How did it end up so reflective? I promise, I don't spend every waking moment fearing the next disaster. After all, I do quilt sometimes and that's rarely catastrophic anymore and as far as I know, not a single one of my quilts has ever killed anyone. See? There's the good.


P.S. If you're reading for a second time, you might see that some of my rambling has been removed because it did not have anything to do with what I was feeling today. Quilting is respite and I know I am doing good and I know I can do better with more practice. So, I should never speak of quilting as having potential for disaster. l


Friday ramblings

Where to begin.... Lots of photos to share and answers to some of this week's burning questions.

So, you know I've been working on my scrap users system from Bonnie Hunter. This is where it starts. My cutting board is one I made. It is a piece of plywood with an ironing surface on one side and a piece of cutting board trimmed from one I stepped on and made a hole in a few years ago. It works out great and I can recover the ironing board side whenever I need to with a new piece of cotton canvas.

So, my mistake on the scrap users system was that I thought I had to cut all those narrow strips into squares before I could use them. This time when I read the instructions, I realized I can leave them as strips and strip piece them and then cut them down to smaller sizes. That makes the task much less daunting.

So, that's my scrap bin that never empties. I've taken out the large bag of 1" strips and the smaller bag of 1.5" strips, and the stack of larger scraps, and cut a huge pile of 2" strips into bricks and squares and you can see how full the bin still is. I remember a story of a woman in the Bible whose oil bottle filled back up every night. That's how I think of this bin. Oh, and the penny at the corner of the cutting board? It came out of the bin. Now how did that get there? Glad I didn't hit it with the rotary cutter.

I do work on the floor. I've always been a floor sitter and a floor worker. I can remember my Aunt Jane sewing trim onto my Grandmother's valances one night when all the family was together at the Grand's house. It was the first time I ever saw an adult set up for a task on the floor. And, it was my inspiration. Sometimes the easiest way to do the final sewing on a quilt is to get everything on the floor so the fabric weight isn't hanging.

The scrap quilts I'm working on now do have to be pre-cut into squares and bricks (well, the irish chain didn't have to be, but now I'm so far into it there's no point in changing direction), and this sewing box is where I store them. It sits next to the area where I piece and I can just reach in and pull out what I need. I started filling those empty boxes with 1" and 1.5" squares this morning that I was ending up with while cutting pieces from the 2" strips. They'll be sitting there, waiting for me when I'm ready.

Then, I sew my squares into rows and pin together 5 rows that can make up a block.
And, here are 9 of my 31 completed blocks. Remember this is for an Irish Chain, so there will be more plain blocks that separate these. But even without them, it makes a pretty pattern. But, you can barely see the dark X's that become apparent when the blank spaces are added.
Today was team shirt day. We don't have a favorite sports team or a t-shirt or jersey for any team, so the summer camp counselor suggested team Jacob/team Edward. But, Sydney couldn't decide, so she picked a photo that everyone in it. We scanned it from a magazine and printed it on a transfer and ironed it to a t-shirt. I wonder how many copyrights I've admitted infringing on in just this one post. Oh, well. After today, I'll gladly surrender the shirt.

And, nothing comforts sad people like a puppy. Here's our little Bella with the huge bat ears. They're dachshund size and chihuahua shape and goofy as all get out. I finally got her to sit still for a picture by tempting her with treats and what happens? I move just as I'm taking the snap, so the background is blurry. I didn't have 10 more minutes to try to tempt her to be still.

I noticed that I got a bunch of new followers overnight. I think Bonnie Hunter might have had something to do with that. I heard she gave me a shout out yesterday. Thanks, Bonnie! And, welcome everyone. I hope you find something to interest you, at least once in a while. I admit that I've been off my game for a while with blogging, but I'm starting to feel my mojo coming back and hope that helps me think and write about things that I'm interested in again.

And, I'm going to give a shout out to a Coloradolady that I know lives in Texas. Now, this lady doesn't think she's a leader. But, she always knows the right thing to say and the right thing to do. And, she doesn't have to tell people that. We just know. And, she makes me feel like a better person, just because I'm her friend. I wanna know what better kind of leader can there be?

And, there were lots of questions about Hamburger Aroganoff from this post. I looked up the recipe this morning to share what that recipe was for. Turns out it's a typo in the index. When I got to the recipe, it was really for Hamburger Stroganoff. Guess I should have checked my facts better.

Take care and have a great weekend. We have no big plans and it's a good thing because it's going to be hotter than the 3rd level of hades around here. We're starting to hit 100* and 100% humidity. And, we will for about 6 weeks. 6 weeks when I'll be inside, in the air conditioning. This is quilting season. I can be outside the other 46 weeks of the year.


Thank you Bonnie Hunter

I don't know how many of you are familiar with Bonnie Hunter's blog and Quiltville and her books. Nancy-Rose at Life is a Stitch brought Bonnie to my attention. Nancy kept blogging about her leader/ender projects and after a while, my curiosity was piqued. I went out in search of information and found Bonnie's website. And, then, I decided to make her Scrappily Happily Irish quilt. I've been working on it for over a year and had made 31 pieced blocks and some of the other pieces preparing for the plain blocks. My leader/ender wasn't going very fast. But, that's because I was really doing it as a leader/ender, which meant only sewing two pieces together at the beginning and ending of anything else I was piecing (like ending a string of chained piecing with a leader/ender).

But, this week, I just needed stuff to sew that I didn't have to think about. So, I sat down and started sewing squares into rows. The only thing I had to think about was light, medium and dark and I have my squares already separated that way, so just reach into the correct bin and add a square. I was chain piecing, not even thinking about leading and ending. I was using the rows I was creating as leaders and enders in a leader/ender project.

Then, I ran out of medium squares and needed to cut more. And, while I had the scrap bin down, I decided to start cutting 2x5 bricks for a Texas Braid quilt from Bonnie's book Adventures with Leaders and Enders. More stuff I could do without having to think about it.

So, thank you Bonnie for helping me find work I could do while I don't want to think. It is really helping me out.

I've been splitting my scraps into strip widths, 1", 1.5", 2" and large scraps. I'm envisioning a string quilt, my Scrappily Happily Irish, a Crabapple quilt and the Texas Braid, all from this book, and all from my stash.

Unfortunately, my stash started as a mish-mash all in the same bin, and while I have tried to stop throwing scraps into it without cutting them down to squares, I started late. The more weight I took from the top of the scrap bin, the more the bottom part expanded to fill the space. I could cut several quilts, just from these scraps. So, I'm going to have to take another of Bonnie's suggestions and cut for a few minutes every time I want to sit and sew.

We'll see if I ever get to the bottom of the bin. But, for now, I'm just glad to have work I can do that doesn't require a lot of concentration. Just pick a size and go with it. Thanks, Bonnie! Hope you had fun in Sisters. Wish I had been there. Maybe next year. Lane


The Julia Child of Ouachita Parish

When I was a kid, I remember staying at my Grandmother's house during the day. She'd feed all of us early and wash up the dishes and then she'd go sit and watch Mildred Swift's local cooking show and after that, her stories like The Edge of Night and As the World Turns.

I remember that Ms Swift wore a cooking uniform of a starched white dress with dark piping on the pockets. And, she cooked delicious foods. But, she was more than a cook. She was a home economist and she covered everything about the finances of keeping a house.

Her cookbooks are collector's items now, passed from generation to generation. An original can sell for up to a thousand dollars on Amazon. My Grandmother had one and my Aunt Lucille, and both of those have passed to my sisters.

I certianly couldn't afford a thousand dollars, but these cookbooks are still being produced and I got new copies.

I can remember this cookbook coming out sometimes when my Grandmother was cooking something special. It has the best biscuit recipe and it's now the one I use.

And, there are other recipes, like Mammy's Spoon Bread and Barbecued Rice along with the old favorites like Pickled Eggs and Pickled Okra. There's Jambalaya and Quick Fondant frosting and Hamburger Aroganoff. A great mixture of the odd, the common and the unusual, all made with things like bacon fat and handfuls of salt and boiled vegetables.

I can't wait to try some of the enticing recipes like No Roll Piecrust and Fudge Pie and Yellow Angel Cake.

And, there's a gardening section and a household hints section, like these:
-One drop of water from a leaky faucet every two seconds amounts to 54 gallons a month or 648 gallons per year. Big Waste.
-Always plant ranunculas and anemones with the claws down.
-When storing white articles (like linens and wedding gowns) a long period of time, wrap in blue tissue paper.

Yes, those were consecutive hints from the book. Just little things thrown in to make a housewife's work easier.

Ms Swift was the host of her cooking show for 18 years in a time when women learned about work from Mothers and Grandmothers and Mothers-in-law; not from television. She was a local pioneer that helped pave the way for later teachers that drew worldwide attention, like Julia and or Martha Stewart.

Hope you enjoyed this little Way Back Wednesday memory of a trend setting woman from the past, when few women made seriously helpful television for the benefit of other women. Most people would find those ideas rediculous today (who mops the kitchen floor every night), but in their time, they were beyond value. They were experiences shared from outside one person's small town experience of the world.

(Oh, and for a translation, Louisiana has parishes instead of counties. And, the one I grew up in is pronounced Wash-it-aw)



Today, we say goodbye

It's been a long time coming. We've been expecting today for a year. But, knowing it's coming doesn't make it any easier to say good bye to a loved pet. And, today, we're going to say good bye to two.

These are the boys. I've had them for about 12 years. The pics are not new. They're from the old guy's better days. Today's pictures would look sad, and so I'm not planning to take any.
This is Willy. Willy is about 17 years old now. He was a very hard dog to get to know. Abused, he had no trust in people and growled and bit. Rob and I can both remember the first time he came and sat in our laps. We both had to ignore him for a while, and then, he just walked over and sat in my lap. And, when Rob and I started dating, the same thing happened to him. Rob is especially attached to Willy.
And, this is my old Kenny man. Kenny is about 18 and he is a lover. He loves and licks and plays. In fact, he still licks and loves, although he doesn't play anymore. I will never know a more trusting dog or a more devoted one. He was also abused, but instead of it making him angry and bitter, he gave in to a new trust almost immediately after we met.
Today, we say goodbye. And, the aches and pains of old age will be over. And, so will the love and devotion. And, I will miss them.
And, my heart is breaking.
Rob offered to take them in for me...good man that he is. But, that's not how our relationship rolls. We face tough obstacles together. And, we'll face this one together as well. Thank God I have someone in my life like that.


An afternoon to kill

Rob and Sydney have gone to the pool and I have the whole afternoon to myself.

Fabric calls my name.

But, first I've committed to wash all the cabinet doors in the kitchen.


Before you feel sorry for me, there have been lots of Saturday afternoons when I should have been washing the cabinet doors and have chosen to sew instead.

So, this is good housekeeping taking revenge.

Hope you're having a great Saturday afternoon. Lane


Esther and flowers with a bad rep

Hey, everybody. Yesterday when I posted the picture of my new travel iron that I bought to go with my featherweight, Tammy wanted to see a pic of the machine, too. So, here's my little Esther. I just love her. From that little clicking sound she makes to the slightest smell of old lubricant when she heats up. She makes a great stitch and my only complaint had been that my generic quarter inch foot didn't fit her (or any of my Singers) quite right and gave me a slightly wider seam allowance. But, I bought some tiny washers and slipped them between the foot shank and the presser foot shaft and it moved the foot over by about a 16th of an inch and fixed that. And, that's my little iron in front. Someone asked if it was heavy. Not at all. Should be perfect to go with this little machine.

Now, here's a question for you. Why do artificial flowers have such a bad reputation? I love to have flowers in the house. But, I could never afford an arrangement like this made out of fresh flowers every week. I wish I could. But, if I cut something like this out of my beds every week in the summer, I wouldn't have any flowers in the yard at all. And, fresh flowers are so fragile and they don't last long and they're expensive to buy. I'd rather keep my yard flowers where they are so they can last longer and I go out to see them every day instead of bringing them in to see me.
Maybe artificial got a bad rep when they were plastic. Or maybe it's because so many people used them and let them get dusty. Or maybe they remind people of their grandmothers. I don't know the reason. But, I know that over the years, I've taken a huge amount of grief over my artificial arrangements. This arrangement is in its third life. It started as a small bunch of blue, orange and green to match the colors in the sofa in my sewing room. Then, I doubled the number of flowers and made a big arrangement in a tall goblet shaped vase that had a tall pedastal (don't you just love Hobby Lobby half off?) But, that got too tall and now it's been disassembled and put back into a bowl and has been moved to the living room, where it adds a burst of color, especially when you see those purple curtains in the dining room in the background. Who's afraid of color? Not us. And, remaking it periodically keeps it from getting dusty.

Okay, that's just about it for the day. Rob's co-workers do a Hawaiian shirt day every Friday and I decided to participate this week. Now, my co-workers are talking about starting theme days. That would be fun. Then, I wouldn't be the only person around that's wearing a dark blue shirt with red, orange, green and light blue hula girls and lei's on it. Oh, and it goes so well with my red Converse. A great day to be dressed funky because it's been raining around here so long that everybody is tired of gray and everyone wants to get outside.
But, in an area that lives under a perpetual drought, interrupted by brief periods of intense flooding, it's not considered good manners to ever complain about rain.
Take care and have a great Friday. Lane


Universal Travel Iron

This is my new collectible. I bought it to go with my Singer Featherweight. It works great and I don't see any reason that I shouldn't use it occassionally, which is about how often I would use the featherweight away from home (if I'm at home, I'm using my fancy "no-worry" iron that keeps itself hot and then turns itself off).

Here it is in the original plastic case. The only documentation I can find is that this iron dates to the 20's or 30's. But, there's no date in the box on it.

The handle swings up and locks in place and you press the little red button in the lower left corner to release it and lay it back down.

The cord is in pristine condition and the face of the iron is clean and scratch free.

The way it works is that you plug it in and it gets hot and the guage registers how hot. There's a setting for "too hot" in red and the instructions say not to let it stay there too long or it will damage the iron. I heated it up the other day and then timed how long it took to cool down. It only took about a minute and a half to heat up to the high setting recommended for cotton and then it stayed hot long enough that I could have ironed most of a shirt. That would be a pain except that it heats up so quickly. And, my experience with quilting is that I use an iron for short bursts, and this iron is great for that.

The plastic box itself is too big for my Featherweight case. I don't have the case with the removable tray. But, without the plastic box, it will slip down beside my machine easily. I plan to make a denim bag for it so it doesn't scratch. Now, I just have to find a class to take it and my featherweight to.
I thought I got a great price because I've seen this one and similar irons on ebay for $50 to $100. But, that's because I was looking at them with the featherweight machines. Today, I did a search on just travel irons and found you can get one of these for about $15 including shipping. But, if you do a search under featherweight iron, the same iron is $80 to $100.

I wonder how many times I've fallen for something like that on ebay. Oh, well, this is not the time to think about that or to question the bargains I think I've gotten. Right now, I'm going to enjoy this one and still think of it as a bargain.
Take care and have a great Vintage Thingie Thursday. Lane



I was raised to consider every angle of every action to make sure I didn't accidentally offend anyone. Not that I couldn't do it on purpose, but I shouldn't do it by accident.

And, if someone offended me, I was supposed to be so quick to forgive that it was like I was holding an "I forgive you" card that I could plop down, seemingly before the offense was even committed. (I'm from very touchy people.) And, I was instructed to "get over it" when offended, but never to expect anyone else to "get over it" when they were offended.

But, that doesn't teach a kid about consequences. It doesn't teach a kid how to make and keep friends. It doesn't make consequences real. It made consequences something to get around. I could do something on purpose that might be offensive to someone and prepare a defense if they found out. But, it didn't teach me what to do when I offended someone accidentally. And, it didn't teach me to respect how others felt or to appreciate their perspective.

I was never good at making friends as a kid. I never learned about consequences and therefore didn't learn how to avoid them or more importantly, why to avoid them. I saw that information could be shared at convenient times that made me look special by making someone else look bad. And, it took years for me to learn different. Years during which my career suffered because I couldn't "play well with others". (That's the feedback I got from more than one manager.) Information was never just a fact. It was a tool to be pulled out and used at the most convenient time.

It took years and years of therapy (which cost enough money to finance an early retirement) to realize why I was so unhappy. Years and years to realize that how I treated people affected who wanted to be my friend, before I realized that my problems stemmed from what I did, not what others did. My problems had to do with how I let people treat me and how I treated them in return. But, always about me.

And, then one day, it all came clear. Okay, so maybe the heavens didn't open up and maybe there were no angels singing and no light bulb clicked on over my head. And, I didn't go out and suddenly make hundreds of friends. But, at least I learned how to make and keep a friend. And, I learned what friendship is really all about. And I learned that talking about people and sharing their secrets for my own gain is a terrible thing to do.

After I practiced being a good friend for a while, the Universe sent me a good man. We made a good family. And, after I practiced being part of a good family for a while, the Universe sent us a child. And, now I'm practicing being a good dad.

Now, the Universe is trying to teach me more about consequences, but now it's about protecting me and my family. Who knew that I'd need to protect us from people that would do unto us what I did unto others for so long or that protecting us would be such a hard thing to do.

Sometimes, protection means letting people go. I've let so many people go because they weren't "safe" for me or my family. And almost always, I've felt like I made the right choice. In fact, the wrong choices have been about people I didn't give the boot to rather than people I did. And, the flip side of that is how many people have I kept at arms length that I should have let in. Good people that would be "safe" for me and my family and never got the chance.

And, it's been very hard to figure out how to parent in a way that would teach my kid about consequences in dealing with others. Not just the consequences of breaking a rule. The consequences of hurting feelings. The consequences of playing people against one another. Those are lessons she learned before she came to us and we've had to let her learn the consequences of that behavior because she doesn't move every year anymore. She doesn't get to start with a fresh set of kids every year. And we let her see us face the consequences of the things we do, too. That only seems fair.

For example, we don't get involved in Sydney's schoolyard squabbles. When she tells us about some disagreement she's gotten into with a schoolmate, we talk about how she could have avoided it and what she can do now. But, we don't get involved and try to make things better. Our theory is that if she's going to learn about making friends, now's the time, so she'll know before she gets to high school and friendships become more important.

So, here I am, almost 50 and still learning the lesson of consequences. And, teaching the lesson of consequences while I learn. I'm still making mistakes.

But, I'm learning.

And, if that weren't hard enough, I'm also having to learn when I'm getting consequences for a mistake I didn't make. And, learning what to do about that. It's not about getting angry about being blamed for something I didn't do. It's about learning not to let it affect me when I'm being blamed for it. That's when I should have been taught to "get over it". Instead, I learned to get angry and let that anger become the focus. I'd rather just say "kiss my grits" and be done with it.

I'm learning not to let what others create affect me.

And, the more I learn, the more I can teach. So maybe my kid won't go through life being held back by her inability to "play well with others".

Have a great Way Back Wednesday.

Sorry if I'm rambling or repeating myself. But, this stuff just keeps coming up. I guess it will until I've learned what I'm supposed to know about it. And I blog about what's going on with me, whether or not I've blogged about it before. And, every time I blog about something, I learn a little bit more about myself. So, if you'll keep reading, I'll keep sharing and soon, you'll know more about me than you ever wanted to. Eek! That sounds terrible.



Three piles

Okay, so quilt re-folding weekend was fun. I sneezed my head off. I made a big mess. And, I got to use a needle and thread. Doesn't get much better than that, huh? Well, we also went on an antiquing jaunt on Saturday and yesterday, we took our little pain to see Eclipse. (Okay, is it just because I'm old, or does one of those boys need a haircut and the other one need a shirt?) Anyway, the pain was happy...well, a little too happy, so I let her know that unless she wanted to do some dishes, maybe she shouldn't call me stupid anymore and things were really good after that.

So, here's the three piles from Saturday morning when I did the refolding. This pile is just refolds. These were the simple ones.

And, these are the quilts to launder. I found a stain on one and another was just dusty and there's another one buried under there, and it was just time for it to be washed. This is a really good time to go over quilts and look for spots, stains, wear and dust. I also have two quilts at the bottom of this pile that need repairs. Haven't quite gotten to that yet, but I'm about to spread one out and look for the rip.

And, these are the small quilts that are part of the rotation of wallhangings. Some came down over the weekend and others went up. I have enough that I can pretty much get a new look whenever I want it.

And, final count? 38 bound quilts. Yes, I am excessive. It's like my own museum collection. There are 8 vintage quilts, 5 of my own bedsize quilts, and the rest are wallhangings. And, I have 11 WIPs. Geez. And, enough fabric that I could quilt the rest of my life. And, it all takes maintenance. It's a good thing that it's an easy collection to maintain.
Okay, so that was our weekend. My favorite purchase was a travel iron that will look great with my featherweight. I'll show it off soon.
Take care and have a great Monday. I've got the day off and now I need to decide what to do with it. Lane


Quilt folding time

I heard somewhere in my years of quilting that we're supposed to refold our quilts every six months. I try to do this in the first two weeks of January and again in the first two weeks of July.

That means it's time to clear out some space, empty the cabinet I store my quitls in, unfold each quilt and refold it in a different way. I always fold all the quilts the same way, so it's easy to figure out which way to fold them next. Sometimes, it's in half, in half again and then in thirds. Sometimes, it's thirds, thirds again and then in half. I even figured out one time how to fold in fifths and then thirds and then halves.

All this is to relieve the stress on the quilts where they are folded. So, I try to always think of new ways to fold that will give different fold lines. I have one vintage quilt that has lost all the small squares along the center fold lines in both directions. I don't want that to happen to any more of my quilts.

It's also a good time to launder and repair a quilt or two. I have two bed size quilts that each have a small tear in one piece of white muslin. This year, I hope to get both those tears repaired by hand sewing a replacement patch on top. I'm hoping for invisible repair, but sometimes my invisible work isn't as invisible as I'd like it to be.

I store my quilts in a wood armoire and I know that's a really bad way to store them. So, this year, I hope to line the space with a sheet to protect the fabrics from the wood. At some point, I want to invest in archival boxes for them, but that level of detail usually escapes me...always plan to do it, but never quite get around to it.

And, it's just good for the soul. I love to pull out all that fabric art and run my hands over it. I delight in both the things I've made and the vintage things I've inherited or bought. And, it's a great time to take photos, so maybe there will be some good pics coming up.

My goal is to start this weekend and finish next weekend. But, we'll have to see. The refolding is the easy part. I can do that during TV. It's the ones I decide to launder this time and the ones I'm going to repair that will take the time. And, this way, I can do the laundering a little at a time instead of trying to wash 20 quilts (that's just a guess) in a single weekend.

Yesterday was a bad day. And, today, I'm having a little trouble shaking it. The day got out of my control somewhere around 3 and I didn't rein it back in until about 6. And a ton of stuff happened in just that three hours. So, I'm keeping my head down today. Circling the wagons. I'm seriously in my cubicle, head down, about to turn on the music and disappear into the work. And, hopefully the day will pass quickly. And uneventfully.

Y'all take care and enjoy the day. I'll be trying my best to ward off the bad luck voodoo. Lane


Re-learning to hand quilt

In the beginning (what a large start for a blog post) I was a hand quilter. I hand quilted several queen size quilts. I started out using high loft poly batt. Because of the loft, I could get 4-5 stitches per inch. Then, I went to cotton batt (no, I didn't know better) and I still got 4-5 stitches per inch because the batt was so dense and the needle didn't want to pass through it.

Then, I got that big Bernina and taught myself to machine quilt. And, that's what I've done since 2007 (WOW! that seems so long ago. so many quilts under the darning foot.) And, I've gotten pretty good at it. It's still a while before anybody asks for my signature, but I'll get there.

I've only hand quilted one tiny quilt, maybe 15" square and started another that's about 24 inches square since then.

So, when I decided to make this quilt completely by hand, I decided to try all the stuff I've learned about hand quilting in the last 3 years. My hand piecing stitches are tiny. Tiny, tiny, tiny. Tiny. And, I wanted my quilting stitches to be just as tiny.

That meant low loft, non-cotton batting. When I was in JoAnn's, I found a crib size piece of wool batting that was on sale for 40% off. It was 1/4" loft. I remembered that my mentor had told me she took a piece of low loft batting and separated it into layers for the quilt she made that ribboned at Paducah. And, this wool was two layers that had been put together to make the quarter inch thickness. And, I pulled them apart. And, it worked. Yes, I was surprised. But, it worked well. It would have worked perfectly, but the puppy got the leftover batting while I was out of the room and what started as a crib size piece ended up as two 24" squares and several fuzzy poops.

Basting was a breeze. The large basting needle just slid through everything like butter.

But, when I started quilting. Ohh, it was wonderful. I knew it was wonderful even before I knew I was doing it wrong. I was still pushing and shoving the needle, forcing it, bending needles, fighting the quilting. My hands cramped and I worked up quite a painful callus on my right pointer finger that first day. But, I was getting ten stitches to the inch.

And, I was enjoying the experience of hand quilting. Especially the quilting I did outside. I love this little frame. It keeps the quilt off my lap, so even though I'm outside, I can still feel the breeze. So, I kept quilting. And, it kept hurting. Then, I realized I didn't have to work that hard. I didn't have to push and shove and poke my finger. The slightest pressure pushed the needle exactly where I wanted it. And, I started getting 12 stitches to the inch sometimes. Okay, not in every inch, but in some inches. And, my stitch length got much more precise.

So much easier now. I've finished what was in the frame when I took this picture and moved into one of the corners. And, I just started last Friday night. I'm using a template shape that fits in the circles perfectly and in the concave curved pieces, I'm putting in a free-form feather. I'm going to repeat those feathers in the border.

I love this so much that I'm going to take that 24 inch square quilt apart and replace the cotton batting with a piece of the leftover wool and start it again. (strike one: black thread on black wholecloth; strike two: the backing fabric is ugly as sin; strike three: huge quilting stitches because of the dense batting. three strikes and you win a free dis-assembling and a fresh start. okay, you win a fresh start because you're a quilt started by me mentor. if not for that, i'd finish you as you are and give you away.)

Elizabeth asked what the charm set was for this quilt. It's Moda Lakeside Resort. The blue leafy fabric for the border came from somewhere else, but it was a perfect match.

Okay, so that's it for me today. I didn't get an early enough start to make a Vintage Thingie Thursday post. Not that I've run out of vintage thingies to post, mind you. Just lost track of time this morning. Of course, I had time to spend an hour hand quilting. Just not 3 minutes to take a picture and load it to this blog post. Priorities, dear!

Have a great day. Lane