Manic weekends

Okay, so even I know this can't last; this period of getting so much done on the weekends. But, it's working out nicely now and so I'm just going to sit back and relax and enjoy it and when it's over, I'll try to remember how good it felt to be manic and get so much accomplished.

Friday night, we went to the middle school production of Annie. Wonderful. Tearful for me. Great production for a group of young people. Sydney didn't end up going home from there with her best friend for the night, but she did go over there on Saturday and stayed all night and we picked her up on Sunday. I think she was suffering a bit of sensory overload and so she was pretty quiet the rest of the weekend. That was NICE.

Saturday morning, I got up and made the back and pinbasted the story time stars quilt. It has a neat striped back that I seamed using the John Flynn method...and yes, I did get almost all the stripes to match...close enough.

After that, I painted the last cabinet doors and the last trim and the doorway in the kitchen. Whooeee, I'm glad to be finished with that. Except that means I need to get on to the next thing in there, which is some tile work around the window, a task I have not been looking forward to. Even though it's just not that much work. I just don't want to do it. And, then fresh paint on the walls and that room will be done. Course, it's taken so long to do it, it may be time to start again by the time I'm finished.

And, then I spent the afternoon in the yard. I started digging a flowerbed last week and finished it on Saturday. It's a small, triangular bed, but it will really be an impactful bed, I hope as I move my way down the other side of the yard, creating the effect of a long, curved bed that starts at one back corner of the house and ends at the other.

Since Rob and I had the evening to ourselves, we went on a little date for dinner and then came home and watched a new movie. That is so nice. We don't choose to do that often enough.

Sunday morning, I cleaned the sewing room. I did the dusting and putting away that has needed doing and that I've tinkered with for months, always doing just enough to leave me a path, but never doing it all. I have one small pile of quilt books left to sort out (alpha by author, don't you know). And, of course, this morning, i spread a quilt out in there to look at. So much for order. But, at least it's clean. And, after that, I put the second coat of paint in the kitchen.

Since it was just us, we decided to go for Asian food for lunch. Rob had been hankering for it and I'd put him off because I was busy, but at 11:30, I looked at him and said, "I'm between projects. If you still want to go out for lunch, let's go." And, while we were there, we worked through our last bit of conversation prior to carpet shopping and decided to go do that on the way home. We've been shopping for months, so this didn't need to be a really long trip. We just needed to make the last couple of decisions (mainly what store we were going to buy from since there's so little difference in the big box stores anymore). We stopped at one store and we just weren't all that impressed. Seemed that it was just going to be the normal routine buy. Then, we went to the second store. The carpet salesman is someone that one of my close friends dated about a hundred years ago (but I can't remember which friend), and even though I don't think he recognized me, it created a sense of comfort where Rob and I could walk around and shop together, openly, without thinking about whether some salesman would be prejudiced enough to lead us the wrong way. Not that that ever happens, but it is a constant fear that we face...likely predicated on how things were a long time ago, before the world figured out gay dollars were the same color as straight dollars. Anyway, we walked around, agreed to pay to have the house measured, pretty much decided what kind of carpet we wanted, and picked a couple of known brand names to check out samples, and we were ready to go. When we got home, Rob measured the house and we're carpeting much less space than I originally estimated, so that means less cost (YEAH!!) This is just all coming together and I am proud to brag, we did it all without a single argument. Whoohoo for us!!

After that, I needed a nap. But, I didn't take one.

I've been asked to donate a quilt for a friend's church youth group as a fundraising raffle. I picked Roll, Roll, Cotton Boll because I think it's a great quilt, but as I pulled it out and pressed and then pinbasted it, I realized how hard it's going to be to give it away. I love this quilt. I remember my frame of mind when I made it and how nice it was during that busy season to have this quilt to sit and relax with. It's a very ample lap size and I still have enough squares to make something similar for myself. This picture is after I finished pinbasting it to a deep red backing. Now, I just need to get started quilting it.

And, that pretty much brought an end to my weekend. Rob cooked supper for us and I did dishes. I did better this weekend than last. Last weekend I was so tired by Sunday night that all I could do was shuffle around the house and grunt. At least this weekend I was able to hold intelligent conversation, right up until bedtime. And, I think I was actually awake for about 193 seconds after my head hit the pillow before I was out for the night.

This morning, I went back in the sewing room and started clearing off the pile of fabric stacked on my Bernina from the feathered star quilt. I laid it out to pick a border. I am having real trouble deciding between the darker border on the left and the lighter border on the right. Decisions, decisions. I guess if I had to choose something to fret over, it's better this than the carpet thing, right?

Everybody have a great Monday. I'll be recovering from my busy life with a bit of making money. Funny, I work harder on weekends than I work for money. And, if you ask me, that's how it should be!



Do you stilletto?

Not stilletto shoes. A sewing stilletto.

Until recently, I never heard of using a stilletto in sewing. My first exposure was watching Eleanor Burns on her TV show that runs on PBS. She used the point of her stilletto to keep her seam allowances matched because she didn't pin all her seam intersections when she sewed two pieced sections together. Since then, I've collected quite the set of stillettos. My tastes have developed from a common handyman's awl to the three nice ones shown below. The one on the left is from a set, seam ripper and stilletto that Sydney gave me for Christmas. They're hand turned and have carved handles. The handles aren't exactly alike tho, so if I put them in my tool holder, point down, I can tell them apart.

So, what do I use a stilletto for? You've all seen this. Two seam allowances cross. They're coming toward the foot of the sewing machine. If they're pressed right, one points up, the other points down (unless you press open). If you measured and cut right, they cross at the same spot and there's not extra fabric on top or bottom to have to deal with. You can stick a pin in that and hold it together, but sometimes, that top seam will creep down just a fraction of an inch and the points won't match.

I can use my stilletto to push that seam allowance so it stays perfectly match as it crosses the machine bed, moving toward the foot. All I have to do is slightly push the seam allowance on the far side of the match point and that keeps it from creeping down. I can feel the ridge through the point of the stilletto and can make sure that they stay next to one another and don't cross or stack. And, I can make sure the one that points up doesn't get caught on the tip of the foot and turn down. That's the most common cause of unmatched points for me.

And, unlike my finger tip, I can keep the point of the stilletto on the seam allowance as it passes through the tip of the foot and right up til the seam passes under the needle without worrying about putting the needle through my finger tip.

I think of a stilletto as a safety feature.


All these pictures are with Ken Moore, my 1950's Kenmore sewing machine. He's so linear and masculine looking and he has a very deep voice. I rewired him last summer, everything but the light. After I rewired everything else, I was just too tired to keep messing with him. I've had a flickering light problem for a while, where it was fine when I started sewing, but eventually worked itself loose and the light would start to flicker as I sewed. Very annoying.

This morning, I was jiggling the light switch with one hand and had the other on the machine bed and he shocked me. That got him on the sick list for the day and he was immediately unplugged. Sometime this weekend, I'll get around to rewiring that light, but until then, I'll be using another machine to sew. How convenient that I just got Alba Tross working right and got her light bulb replaced (a whole blog post can be written about that ordeal). So, she's going to be the go-to machine to finish the story time stars.

What would I do if I didn't have so many vintage sewing machines to work on? Imagine how much more sewing I'd get done. But, I enjoy tinkering, too.

Tonight, we're going to dinner and the theater. It will be a special occasion for us. We're going to dress up (okay, not a whole lot dressed up). We're just going to the middle school production of Annie. Sydney's best friend is in the play and I think that Sydney is going to spend the night at her house after the performance. The dog will not be happy.

But, I did have to explain to Sydney that when we're doing something special, we should dress a little special and that means a nice shirt with her jeans. It is Austin, after all. Jeans go everywhere here. Even the opera.

Everybody have a great Friday. In keeping with my resolution yesterday, I am going to set a goal to pin baste three quilts this weekend. I can't start quilting them 'til they are pinbasted. And, that takes time. So, I'll pin baste them now and can take my time quilting them out.

Wish me luck. Of course, I could start something new........




The yawn point

Okay, so inability to focus and a quilt blog don't always go so well together. This is one of those times. Generally, I always have project progression to show off because I have multiple projects going on at any one time (is there such a thing as every one time?). But once in a while, all my projects get to that point where there's just nothing exciting happening. I have two quilts ready for borders and I can't quite find enough time in a single stretch to get them sewn on. And one quilt that has stopped moving forward because it needs a pause for re-assessment. And a leader/ender that only moves forward if something else moves forward.

I have sufficiently bored you with the same two pictures of the baby quilts that are waiting for borders. So, now it's time to bring back pictures of the other quilt that's going nowhere fast; the vintage dresden plates.

I have about 190 wedges that need starching and ironing and then trimming before I can start putting any more dresden plates together. And, so I spritz them with starch and I re-press the basted top edge, nice and straight, and iron out the old seam creases and stack them by color.


But, it's necessary work if I'm going to turn this little assortment of vintage wedges into the beautiful quilt I have in my mind. I'm even repairing torn wedges. See that plaid lump in the lower right corner? That's a blue plaid wedge and a red plaid wedge that each had a hole. I cut them to save as much as I could and will sew them together and cut them again. I even matched up the lines so they'll look very good together. There are a lot of wedges where the original piecer did that with her scraps.

I guess there's a yawn point in just about every quilt. That point where you do a lot of work and make little visible progress. Or when the progress you're making just isn't all that exciting. All of my current tops are at that stage. And, I'm so tempted to set them aside and move on to something else. But, I'm shouldering through and resisting the temptation. After all, that's what got me a closet full of unquilted tops in the first place.

I've read a lot of my fellow bloggers also trying to shoulder through a resolution to finish some of what we have started before we start anything else. I wonder how many of us have projects that are just at the yawn point and we long for some excitement. And, every one of you knows how exciting it is to start something new. I think we should form a club or a support group.

"Hi. I'm Lane. I'm a quilter and I get bored easily. When I'm bored, I love to start something new. I've been quilting like that for 12 years. I have a closet full of fabric I'll never live long enough to use up and $2 worth of cheap plastic coat hangers with unquilted and sometimes unfinished quilt tops hanging on them (you do the math on how many that is). It's been 15 days since I started anything new. And, I'm jonesin'. Bad."

I hope you're laughing with me, but I am also totally serious. I really don't want to start anything new until I finish something that's already going. I really want to shoulder through finishing some of the stuff that's stacked all over the place in my sewing room. And, I am really going to try not to be distracted by any new patterns or fabric inspirations. If I cut fabric, it needs to be going into something I already have going on.

Wish me luck.

And, don't be laughing at my ironing board cover in the snap above. I made it out of canvas and cotton batting and it is another of my favorite tools in the sewing room. It's very thick and is great for pressing applique because the applique just sinks into it. Same with the seams on shirts (sewing or just ironing to wear). It just laughs when I turn my iron up to HIGH. "Ha! I may scorch, but I don't burn and I don't hold scorch marks as a stain!" Everything just washes out. It has a nice deep hem with elastic and it fits my ironing board to a T. I used the cover that came with the board as the pattern, but went bigger! I don't think I will ever use a store bought ironing board pad again. My next project is to make a board from a half sheet of plywood so I can iron a half a quilt top at a time without it hanging off the edges of the board.

Everybody have a great Thursday. Lane



At 2:53 this morning, we were awakened to a boom that sounded like the world had split in two. All our lights that come on just from touching them came on. Rob and I sat straight up in the bed.

From then on, it was flooding downpour and then a brief slow down and then flooding downpour again, with the timpani of thunder and bright flashes of lightening. Rather like what we've been taught to expect from the end of the world...think The day after Tomorrow kind of violent storms.

And, we huddled in our beds, with the covers pulled up, waiting for it to pass (or the earth to swallow us up). Sleeping when we could and waking to more rumbles of thunder.

That's what rain is like in Texas. Seems we don't get it for a really long time and then we get it all in a few hours. This morning, my rain guage, which I emptied yesterday morning to make sure and get a good reading, said 5". It might have been more, but there's a screw hole in the back at 5" so that's all I can measure at one time.

When I got up at 5, there were several inches of water puddled outside the dining room and it was still pouring. By 7:30, it was pretty much over and I went for a hike in the yard. The water washed all the mulch away along the back of the house. We live at the bottom of the hill, so that's the drain for several houses above us. It's not unusual to to have to pull my mulch back over there.

But, doesn't seem that we got any water in any structures. And, the gardens didn't seem any worse for having that much water dumped on them in so short a time.

We were lucky. I took Sydney to school, despite the temptation to send her to the bus stop in a lightening storm with a metal umbrella (mwahahahahaaaaa!). Traffic was light. I know that lots of folks are without power and this much rain always sends Austin's runoff creeks out of their banks somewhere. Lots of low water crossings were under water. When I talked to Rob, he was mopping up water at his office that had come under the doors.

It's rude in Austin to complain about rain. But, it is okay to complain a little bit about dangerous weather, so long as you don't reference the water that comes along with it. Eventually, it will help with the lakes and dry wells will have water in them again in a week. But, it's kind of scary, too.

On a lighter note, the Story Time Stars quilt is almost finished (I'd show a new picture, but we didn't have sufficient internet access at home to upload it because of the storm). I've got the final border assembled and just need to get it attached to the quilt.

I made this as a baby quilt, thinking it would take less time than the feathered star baby quilt I was working on. NOT! It has taken at least as long, and I'm not exactly sure why. Everything was so easy and it all seemed to go so fast, but as for the number of hours, it's been about 12 and I have about 12 sunk into the feathered star quilt, too. Of course, the feathered star quilt isn't finished yet and it could double in time before it is. But, the last borders are made and it's just finding time to start attaching them. After a brief pause to buy more fabric.

Because, really, as much effort and brain power as I have in this quilt, there is absolutely no point in cheaping out at the end because I don't want to buy another half yard of the medium green. I'm doing really, really good at not buying fabric. I don't need fabric. I don't need quilt tops. Most of the fabric I've bought this year has been backing sized pieces at half off the half off wall prices (about $2 a yard). I need to quilt. I need to quilt lots of quilts. My goal is to stay focused and quilt as many of my finished tops as possible. I have not counted, but, I know it's a lot. Shorter term, this weekend, I want to pin baste two; the story time stars and Sydney made a quilt last year. I'd like to get it in the machine. She got discouraged when she realized she would have to piece the back, too. So, she's had time to rest. Maybe I can get her sewing some this weekend. Maybe her choice will be sewing or washing windows. That sounds like it might work, right?

And, I've been asked to make something for a church raffle. Nobody's ever asked me to make a donation quilt like that. Now that I know this feathered star pattern, maybe one in blues? Or reds? Who knows. As they say at the awards..."It's a pleasure, just to be nominated."

Okay, so that's it for me today. I can already feel my eyelids drooping. Maybe I'll go get another cup of coffee. Lane



Do you color? Or, I guess, more accurately I'm asking do you do color?

I'm not knocking all those great neutral people out there that are adventurous enough to wear only shades between brown and off white. (Yawn!) But, that ain't me.

When made fun of for wearing a pink shirt one day...okay, it wasn't really pink, it was red lines on a white background that read as pink...I replied that with all the things in the world to fear; economic collapse, terrorism, inattentive drivers, and every Tom, Dick and Harry has a gun; I refuse to be afraid of a color.

I stick with that. I am not afraid of color. This came up for me this week while planning my gardens for the year. But, it really started a few weeks ago at LD's birthday party. LD used to be somehow connected with professional landscaping. I don't know all that story yet, but I know she loves plants, so much so that she was going to open a nursery a few years ago. She still helps people with their landscaping and helped my mentor, Jen, work in her yard and come up with a landscaping plan. Anyway, at the party, LD and Jen were talking about their landscaping experience together and LD commented that what Jen lacked in landscaping skill, she more than made up for because she knew how to use COLOR. One of the other things we laughed about at the party was my use of color. I looked at Jen and asked her how she let me make all those badly colored quilts when i was starting and she replied that "color was not your strong suit in the begining."

I'll rush through the thought progress...color in Jen's landscaping->color in quilts->color in the storytime stars baby quilt->color in my own landscaping->scrap quilts->one color quilts->pink phlox, blue plumbago and purple coneflower.

The mind works in mysterious ways. And, applying those thoughts...

I've got a great combination of bright colors going on in the storytime stars quilt. That's what I want in a baby quilt. Lots of color to look at and shapes to touch. All pulled together with a pleasing neutral, in this case, a light blue (and yes, I do believe that even red can be used as a neutral...but maybe not yellow). That's a good scrap quilt to me.

But, there are some scrap quilts that have colors that just SCREAM together and make my eyes twitch. And, no slam against what anybody else likes, but quilts that use all large scale, bold colors and have no place for the eye to rest...nothing can stand out on those and grab my attention because it all competes.

As much as I like scrap work, my favorite work is always going to be more monochromatic; three or four shades of the same color...three greens in particular. Dark, medium and light. Working together. Because I am a firm believer that while color gets all the credit, it's value and scale that do all the work. And, for me, that's expressed best in several shades of the same color used in a quilt, letting the values show off the piecing.

Oh, I'm going to make scrap quilts because scraps are the natural outpouring of all other types of sewing...sorta like the gift that keeps on giving. But, as I cut my scraps, I will think about how I used those three blues together in a quilt with a brown to set them off. Or something similar.

So, how did I get from there to gardening? I've always "scrap" gardened. Buy a couple of pots of this and a couple of pots of that and find a place where they'll live and if it's not the first place I plant them, then move them around until they find a place to be happy or die. And, what didn't die, multiplied like...well, like scraps (or rabbits...or coathangers). So, now, the plants that are happy have made divisions and those have made divisions and now, I have an abundance of plants that like the climate and will survive semi-drought conditions.

But, what do I do with them? This year, I'm trying to be more planful. I'll group those three shades of green leaves together in a small spot and call it a flowerbed, I also try to include three different scales of leaves; something broad, something narrow and something short. Those greens will be there from spring to fall. Then, on top of that, and changing with the seasons, add other colors. Early in spring I'll have orange and red and yellow daylilies. Then, when they die off, pink from the phlox along with a dark pink coneflower, dark pink dahlias, blue plumbago, red roses. And, when that's gone, melon colored shrimp plant until the first freeze.

In another bed; a more sunny and hot bed; all reds, oranges and yellows against greens that range from a gray-green to purple-green. Cannas and roses and firestalk and columbine, hot colors in a hot spot. And, for greens; century plant and other cacti and native grasses.

And, along the other side, we move into a shade bed that gets us back to the pinks and purples that show up so well in darker spaces.

Someone commented not long ago that they liked how I make quilting a part of my life. I do. And, what I learn about quilting, I use other places. Because I color and I do color and I love color and I surround myself with color. Color makes me happy.

And, while scrap gardening with its riot of color used to make me happy, now I've aged and mellowed and want to control the color and let the value shoulder the load. Use color for fun. Happy, pleasing color. Including pink shirts once in a while. Don't be afraid of color.



Manual labor busy

Okay, so if you read my blog (or live with me), you know I keep myself busy. Very busy. Rob says I'm busy 24/7/365. Sometimes I'm brain busy and taxing my ability to think or read. Sometimes I'm quilt busy and sewing til my fingers ache. Sometimes I'm knit or crochet busy, making socks and sweaters and scarves and hats. And, sometimes I "manual labor" busy, and that's what I was this weekend.

I didn't get too much done on my Story Time Stars quilt. The first two rows are together, but I have a block intersection that doesn't want to play right and so I have some more fiddling to do on that. The other two rows are assembled, but not attached yet. I'm loving the sashing and cornerstones on this little quilt. I like that I used just one baby blue in the sashing and 25 different blues in the cornerstones.

I just ran out of time before I got any further.

Of course, I did have an hour and a half to put this together. This is for LD.

It's small. I think 3.5x5 or something like that. I'm going to quilt it really simple in the ditch with some cotton batting. But, now, I'm trying to figure out what to DO with it. Do I make it into a little pillow? It's designed to be a pin, but it's kind of big for that. I've been thinking about framing it in a small frame maybe. It's from a free pattern at Connecting Threads. It took me longer than I thought it would, but I had to get myself back in the frame of mind for paper piecing. I forget how different that is than regular piecing because you have to figure out how the fabric lays and whether it's big enough. And, that meant picking out a couple of pieces. And, because I was paper piecing on printer paper instead of something easier to tear, I was using teeny tiny stitches. Teeny-teeny tiny. But, when I was done, the paper was a breeze to remove because of those tiny stitches and many, many perforations.

I also got 6 more cabinet doors painted. I have a feeling I'll be finishing that soon. I am tired of painting in the kitchen. I have other things I want to paint and other projects I want to work on. Next weekend is the last two little doors and the woodwork around the fridge. And, one large door and its trim that goes out into the laundry room. After that, there's a bit of tile work around the window Rob put in for me last year and I want to repaint the walls. But, in that kitchen, there's not nearly as much wall as there is cabinet, so that part is easy-peasy, too.

And, I got my wish and spent hours and hours in the yard, moving things around. This was a great weekend for yardwork around here. It's so dry that my clay soil was easy to break up and dig new holes in. And when I wanted the dirt to stick around a rootball, all I had to do was water it, so I got most of the things I want to move this year in their new places. I still have plenty of things in pots to put out this year and seeds to start next month. I have great plans (just like every year). And, so what if there's a drought. I've been buying native and adapted for years now and my beds really stand up to it well. I even worked on my soaker hoses before putting in mulch. That's a bit of pre-planning that I usually miss. Usually there are all these black hoses snaking around on top of the mulch, but just here and there. Hopefully not this year. I'm also increasing the size of my beds by about 30%, curving around the final side of the yard and preparing to garden in a shady spot.

And, I also take care of my across-the-street neighbors front flowerbed. I went there and just cut back all the stuff that was past its prime so the spring stuff can get some sun and prepare to shine. She lost a whole bed of english ivy last year from the drought and I'm thinking of what i can put into that place that is more exciting this year. Something with some flowers. She loves purple.

I've always been a January gardener. Invariably, we get a couple of weekends down here when the soil is nice and dry so I don't have to worry that I'll sink in wherever I step and when the temperatures are moderate enough to get outside. Not usually in shorts like yesterday, but moderate for January. After this, it will start to rain (Oh, how I hope it will start to rain) and the soil will be heavy and thick and sticky and while that works for growing, it's not good for the hard gardening work that needs doing every year to keep my beds in shape. Divide, feed, grow, repeat.

Everybody have a great Monday. I've got to get "work busy". Lane


Marking tools

So, I believe that every quilter has their own favorite marking tools. The tools that work for them. qltmom9 asked to see mine. Please note that this is not a slam against anybody else's favorite, okay? I know a lady that marks with soap slivers and does fabulous work. But, I tried that and I didn't like it. And, that doesn't make it any less useful for her.

But, before I can talk about my favorite tools, I need to show you these. This is the bin of mis-spent marking tools. There is black lead, colored pencils, soapstone, a half a dozen different kinds of chalk and chalk rollers and chalk sliders and chalk pencils and replacement chalks. The only thing I can think to use all this for is to take to quilt class and let everybody try different markers to see what they like best.

The fine black sharpies shouldn't be in this picture because they are actually a favorite marking tool for setting the final edge of a quilt and marking where to attach the binding. They're great for marking on batting.

But, what are my favorites?

Okay, so I like the washout markers. They make a great mark...IF I'm sure the fabric won't get hot. If it gets hot, the ink is permanent. And, I get impatient and tend to make too heavy a mark. But, that doesn't stop them from being useful to mark light colored fabrics. I like them when I'm going to premark a quilt because the lines stay until I want them to go. There's no rubbing off like the ceramic pencils. And, I like that when I'm done, I can spritz and it's gone.

Next are my ceramic pencils. Sewline makes pencils and leads in many colors. Fons and Porter do, too. I bought a very expensive sewline pencil and I've bought a whole bunch of their green leads. The Fons and Porter is available at JoAnn's in white, so I can use a coupon. And, now, I'm going to make both those companies mad because those expensive pencils are just .90 diameter mechanical pencils and you can get them 2 for $3 at Office Depot. The lead is expensive, but if you're really careful not to advance too much of it out at a time, it lasts a long time. It's pretty fragile, a bit more fragile than regular graphite lead I think, so the biggest waster of the ceramic leads is advancing them too far and breaking them off. My LQS sometimes stocks the Sewline leads and if I can't get them there, I can get them at any quilt show.

This is a mark made by the green lead on a piece of dark brown fabric. These are limbs for a piece of applique. I was drawing over a light box and when doing that, it's all back light, so you can't see how heavy your marks are. I probably went over each line two or three times to make sure they'd show from the front.

Anyway, this ceramic lead sticks to the fabric really good and on a piece of applique, will still be there through finger pressing the edges and then stitching it down. But, like chalk, it does eventually rub off.

The tool I forgot to include in my pictures is my chalk Pounce. Likely I didn't think of it because it's new to me and I'm just learning all its uses. I've used it so far to mark with plastic cutout templates, but my next thing to try is needle punching paper and pouncing on top of that to see the little holes. If that works, it's going to be the greatest thing since sliced bread.

And, for marking, but not directly on the fabric, I like golden threads paper. I can needle punch it and baste it to the quilt with safety pins and quilt right through it and then pull it off. But, I hate pulling it off. And, once in a while, it will shift just a tiny bit and throw off a line.

Okay, so what's my new tip today? My scissor leash. Okay, so it's really a name badge leash, but I look silly wandering around with my badge hanging from my neck. My badge hangs from my pocket, like Timothy Olyphant in Justified...yeah, like I'm that butch. Anyway, that freed up this leash and I attached a pair of thread snips. This is the GREATEST tool for machine quilting. I can be stitching along and come across a thread I need to snip and we all know what happens then, right? You move your eyes and go looking for a pair of scissors and when you come back, you can't see that thread anymore...until you're showing the quilt to your mentor.

Anyway, with a leash, I don't have to move my eyes. I just put my hand over my heart and there's the leash and I can pull it through my fingers until the snips are in my hand and that pesky little thread is gone!

They're also handy for ending a line of quilting and needing to snip the threads or snipping off the tails where I start a line of quilting. They are sharp and I have sat in the floor and forgotten I have them on and leaned forward and stabbed myself in the upper leg, so follow this tip with caution. Open scissors are dangerous things.

But, handy scissors are wonderful things, so you have to balance that out.

If you have snips like this, keep them oiled or they will rust. Mine are several years old and as I'm writing this, I'm ransacking my desk, looking for another leash because that old one is falling apart.

Have a great Friday. I'm trying to come up with a list of projects for the weekend. It's supposed to be 75* and sunny. I'm feeling some digging in the dirt coming on.



Putter, putter, putter

I'm puttering along on the Story Time Stars quilt. I make a bit of progress every day. This morning, I was sewing the stars into pairs, preparing to get my rows together and my seams kept flipping over as they'd approach the sewing machine foot. I hate that.

It was just because I was trying to squeeze in a last few minutes of sewing time before I had to leave for work and I was rushing and skipping steps. That never works well. I'm the turtle, not the hare and I don't rush well. (Just ask Rob when he's trying to get me out the door to go do something fun. If he rushes me, we'll only get one block before I have to go back home to get something important...like my wallet.)

I spent a bunch of my morning starching and pressing and trimming wedges for the Dresden Plate quilt. And, when I was done, I decided I could not keep putting wedges together without a master plan or I was going to end up with some really ugly plates at the end when I try to force a bunch of leftover stuff together. Or I'll get to the end and waste wedges because I can't force them into pleasing combinations. I still have enough loose pieces that if I'll just slow down and finish taking the last of the plates apart, and get all the wedges together, I can figure out what goes best with what to optimize what I have to work with.

Really in truly, this is where I'd rather be. As Cinderella sang "In my own little corner of my own little house, I can be whatever I'd like to beeeeee." This is one of my favorite places and as much as I am challenged by my work, I know that when I'm at one of my machines, the challenges are the ones I choose for myself. This is Ken Moore, my main piecing machine, in his normal state of disarray.

Okay, so I'm posting my little tips that I use to sew. The bad pins bottle seemed to be popular, so how about a toothbrush holder?

Okay, so don't look to the right of the toothbrush holder. That area is still being organized after my last cleaning binge. Everything that didn't have a place went there. And, what's up with my oil looking so brown? I promise I only use clear oil on my machines. Anyway, back to the toothbrush holder. First, this is next to my quilting machine, but I have a similar holder next to my piecing machine. I keep five tools next to my quilting machine all the time (but now that I look, one was missing when I took this pic).

I need a stilletto. Do you use a stilletto? I had no idea how useful they'd be for piecing, especially for making sure those pesky seam allowances don't fold over as they approach the presser foot (which was the problem I was having this morning). But, they're also great for grabbing the bobbin thread loop to pull it out of the throat plate when I replace a bobbin or to grab the loop and pull it to the top of the quilt sandwich when I'm starting a line of quilting.

Next tool is scissors. I need a pair of real scissors nearby. Not a pair of thread snips, which I'll cover later, but a pair of scissors that will cut fabric. So, I keep a pair of small embroidery scissors that are knife sharp in this holder.

My marking pencils. I use ceramic lead in a mechanical pencil and I keep it handy so I can mark anything I need to while I'm quilting. I normally keep a green lead and a white lead pencil in there all the time. One of those colors seems to mark on any color fabric.

And, the last tool is a seamripper. Some people won't rip quilting out. Not me. I've probably pulled a few miles of thread out and tossed it away over the 12 years I've been quilting. Seamrippers are like good friends; they keep your mistakes secret.

So, the toothbrush holder is just a 59 cent one that I picked up in goodwill. I added a half a bag of dry lima beans to the bottom. That serves two purposes. It makes the holder bottom-heavy so it doesn't tip over and it gives a soft bottom for my tools to hit when I drop them in. I've chipped the bottoms of a lot of containers and broken more than one by dropping a pair of scissors in and letting them hit the bottom. And, the beans hold the tools perfectly upright.

And, yes, that is one of my quilting trolls peaking out from behind the toothbrush holder. He and his girlfriend watch me quilt.

Okay, so I contracted to buy the Singer 401 this morning. Sight unseen. We arrived at what I think is a good price. I should get it next month. The good news is that if there's anything wrong, I'm buying it from a friend and we can work out any differences, so it seemed like a pretty low risk purchase to me. And, it was her Mom's machine, so I know it's been taken good care of. And, my friend has memories of hanging on the side of it watching her Mom sew. That's good mojo.



I could 'Bonnie Hunter' all day long

Yes, I did just use a proper name as a verb. If you've ever made a Bonnie quilt, then you know why. Bonnie's quilts are intense and have lots of pieces. Even the Story Time Stars quilt has lots of little pieces and because this is for a good friend, I'm especially trying to make all my points match and get the details right. Consequently, I'm not making very fast progress. But, the turtle won the race while the rabbit took a nap, right?

I like Bonnie's quilts. I like the challenge of making a quilt with lots of pieces. I don't want all my quilts to have a gillion pieces, but sometimes, it's just the ticket to soothe the troubled mind.

So, how do you Bonnie Hunter all day long? Well, you make one Bonnie Hunter quilt...

while you're making another Bonnie Hunter quilt.

That way, you don't have to work on anything but Bonnie Hunter patterns all day long. The first picture is the Story Time stars with their first pieces of sashing attached and the second is my Texas Braid leader/ender that I ironed all the red squares the wrong way. Oh, well.

After looking at the beautiful pics in this post from Bonnie's last workshop, I decided it was time to start sewing some of those bricks I've been cutting for a year into actual braids. I have about 500 dark bricks with the red squares attached and am going to go for a lap blanket. But, I'm going to have to cut more neutral bricks. Somehow neutrals are always harder to come by.

If only I could take all day long to quilt. Wouldn't that be nice.

Anyway, I've been quilting for a while and I've come across some really handy tips over time and am going to share a few over the next few days. If I can remember.

The first one is for "Bad Pins". Bad pins are bent or broken or have lost their heads. They're also sewing machine needles that aren't sharp anymore and hand sewing needles that look like safety pins because of the monster grip I put on them when I hand sew. And, there's likely even a safety pin that won't close or won't open anymore or has a rust spot. I have a terror of stepping on pins. Okay, not really the stepping on them but the pulling them back out of my foot. That part makes me pale and nauseous. And, I feel really bad if Sydney or Rob steps on one.

I found this suggestion somewhere and I've kept a "bad pin" bottle ever since.

This is just a pill bottle with a hole drilled in the top and a title (so I don't accidentally take a needle instead of an aspirin...hah!) Anyway, I can drop bad pins in the bottle and they stay there. And, if I ever fill it up, I can just exchange lids with another empty bottle and toss the full bottle away. I keep this near my sewing machine and I never have to drop pins loose in the trash and then find them later, after my 14 year old has managed to spill the trash trying to empty it into a larger bin to take it out to the curb, because we all know what a complex maneuver taking out the trash is.

Other than that, I'm considering another machine purchase. A good friend is selling her Mother's machine and I'm thinking of buying it. It's a Singer 401 in a cabinet. I've been looking at 301's and 401's for Rob's Mom and this might just do the trick exactly. If I can part with it. You know how dangerous it is to bring a machine into a collector's house. They never leave again. Even if the collector doesn't want them as in that Singer 237 that I really need to re-home. And, can't.

Take care and have a great Wednesday. Lane


When there's nothing important to talk about

I've spent the morning trying to think of something to blog about. And, I'm coming up blank. That's so unusual for me.

So, what's going on?

Well, Alba Tross, the white featherweight, started clicking on Sunday morning. I guess I expected that. It's a very annoying click. And, I was NOT in the mood to look for it. I was in the mood to sew, not repair a sewing machine for the hundredth time. What's the fun of having a machine if all you do is repair it? So, I set her off to the side. This morning, I was feeling a bit better about having a few seconds to check her out, so I plugged her in and lo and behold, it's the lug motor belt. Ihad it tight enough to turn the handwheel on Saturday, and on Sunday, it was just tight enough that the lugs clicked on the motor housing as they passed by. Holy Crud! It's always something with that machine. The reason it wasn't happening before is that when I tightened the belt, it was warmed up from using it all day. And when I started sewing on it Sunday, it was cold. And, cold, the belt was tighter; too tight. So glad I didn't follow my first instinct and toss her across the room. Anyway, I'm thinking of buying a new belt that is smooth and doesn't have the lugs. I know the lugged belt is supposed to be superior...but that's just one repairman's opinion. Others say the smooth belts are superior. I don't care as long as I finally get that dad-blasted machine to work.

Okay, so that's not so important and unless you actually have a white featherweight that's a total pain in the rear, it doesn't mean much.

This morning, I cut the last of the blue and white four patch units for the sashing on the Story Time Stars quilt. And, just as I picked up the last one, I moved the trash can to drop some scraps in it and what to my wondering eyes should appear but a dozen blue and white four patch units that had fallen off the cutting table, in and around the trash can. Now, that made me feel better that I had not miscounted by as many as I thought I had. But, it made me feel worse that I'd just spent time making more units that I didn't need.

Not important unless you're curious about why I didn't count them to make sure I had all I'd already made. But, that makes way too much sense for my quilting style. Besides, I don't have enough fingers and toes to count to 180.

Sydney is completely being 14. She doesn't want to do anything. Unless it's something she wants to do and then she wants to know how soon I'm going to do it for or with her. I keep saying that she only wants to be around me when my credit card or my car keys are in my hand. When she comes to hug me, I ask "why the hug? I don't have my CC or my keys in my hand." She thinks that's funny. Me? Not so much.

Only important if you have a 14 year old or are going to have a 14 year old or ever were a 14 year old. Because apparently all 14 year olds act this way. My thought is that Charles Ingles never had to ask little Laura to help out. Laura was always there with her hand outstretched to help the family. Charles must have been doing something right that I'm doing wrong. Was it the constant threat of STARVATION?

Last night, I made Kheema Matar for supper. That's an Indian dish made from ground meat. My recipe had 12 steps and 20 ingredients. It took about 45 minutes to make. Rob tasted it and said it tastes like Taco meat. And, he was right. It did. Likely because it had many of the same ingredients as Taco seasoning. Maybe next time, I'll skip all the extra steps and ingredients in favor of a one-step taco seasoning packet and add some curry powder and peas.

I wish my boss was in town. He's from India and could tell me if Kheema Matar is supposed to taste like taco meat.

My life is so dull. And, I'm pretty happy with that right now. I don't need any more excitement. I can only appreciate being so dull when I think back to times when I couldn't possibly blog about all the things going on. Life should be that way. Sometimes exciting and busy and sometimes quiet and restful. Right now, I'm celebrating the restful.

And, that's what I can talk about when there's nothing important to talk about. Rest.



What we do when we don't blog

Okay, so normally, I try to keep up with my blogging and correspondence, but this weekend just flew by. First, there was my day with LD. We had a wonderful time. I brought a movie, but we didn't watch it. We sat and talked for 5 hours. And, the only reason we stopped then is I had a conference call I had to dial in to.

We talked about family and friends and food and movies and life and old stories and how we met our spouses and food and we ate. And, we laughed until my sides hurt.

When I got home, we ordered pizza and I just about collapsed. I didn't realize how tired I was.

So, since I was really tired, we decided to replace the kitchen floor. About three years ago, Rob enclosed our laundry room from the rest of the garage. When we did that, we needed a new floor for in there and wanted something to match or closely coordinate with our existing kitchen floor. We didn't find that, but we found this great wood grain and I liked it so much, we bought enough to do the laundry room and the kitchen. We laid the floor in the laundry, this great brown wood floor, right up to the green kitchen floor. And, it sat like that for a few years.

Then, I started to paint the kitchen and we decided we wouldn't worry about the floor until I finished the paint. But, then I think that Rob gave up on me ever finishing that painting and he's ready to replace the carpet, which meant replacing the kitchen floor. So, that brings us where we are now.

I am so glad we did this. I had no idea how bad the old kitchen floor was . And, it's not really this red, but more of a soft reddish brown. The red is something my camera did. Anyway, when we got it home and laid a few squares on the floor, we found that we could lay it in a quilt pattern. And, we did. See how the planks form plus signs? I can't remember the name of the quilt pattern, but I know I've seen it.

Why am I glad we did this? Because that old floor was shot. My sisters gave it to me in the form of gift cards about 13 years ago and it was worn out and there was a ridge of dirt and "mop and glo" between the tiles and a moldy spot under the dog's water bowl. We cleaned and we scrubbed and I scrubbed some more, and finally we got it flat and practically all the glue up so Rob could prime over it. The new floor went down a whole lot easier than the old floor came up, tho.

While I wasn't squatted down in the kitchen, I was working on the Story Time Stars quilt from Bonnie Hunter. I got all the blocks made and I am nearly through with the four patch sashing.

Bonnie made hers with scraps, so didn't know how much to cut. I thought I had cut enough, but I was short. Bonnie, if you're reading this, it was 15 strips of white and 15 strips of blue (1.5" x wof)to come up with the 180 four patches. You end up with one strip set that has to be cut in half and then matched for sub cutting into the four patch units.

I'll keep you posted on progress on this one. It's been a bunch of fun. So easy and so many possibilities.

The pattern was so easy that with a simpler sashing, I could make these for Linus. It would also be a great pattern in a two color quilt. Maybe some red and off-white? I'm really into red this year.

Everybody take care and have a great day. Lane


This is what a disorganized mind looks like

I can't decide what to work on. So, it's all strewn across the sewing room floor.

I'm taking a couple of dresden plates to LD's today to work on while we watch The King's Speech. And, that's about the extent of my plans for the day. I made a pan of cornbread to go with our lunch.

This mess is really the result of the need for another baby quilt. So, I've started Bonnie's Story-time Stars

Because, you know, I don't really have enough going on, right?

Everybody have a great day. I'm off for my playdate. Lane


Fools rush in

I'm back to that quote I used the other day from Hope Floats.

"...beginnings are scary, endings are usually sad, but it’s the middle that counts the most. Try to remember that when you find yourself at a new beginning. Just give hope a chance to float up. And it will…”

Right now, I'm at a beginning that could well be an ending and true to the quote, I am both scared and sad and making plenty of room for a whole bunch of hope to float right up.

Our friend LD is not doing so good. She's in some pain and she can't get a referral to a doctor that can move forward with the tests and figure out what to do next. Rob said it best this morning; I don't know whether to cheer her on in the fight or sit and hold her hand.

And, she's allergic to the codeine contained in most pain pills. And, she's disheartened and she needs somebody to talk to. And, I'm betting she's just the least little bit scared. And, probably a whole lot mad that she can't get around and take care of herself. And, I know how to listen to all that without giving advice or trying to "fix" it or deny it.

It's been a long time since I let myself get this close to somebody that might need help.

I lived through the dying years. The days when AIDS was trying to take us all. I've held hands and cleaned up messes and given shots and administered meds and counted pills and held my breath, waiting for someone to take their next breath...or not. I've lived on hospital food and slept in the bottom corner of a hospital bed...or worse, on one of their "torture" cots. I make an excellent caregiver, watching the professionals and repeating what they do. Studying and observing and helping without hovering, staying out of the way, but always being where I need to be. Trusting myself to do what I can...all I can. And, not blaming myself when I mess up.

And, when my obligations were fulfilled for the friends I had, I insulated myself from sickness and death. I just didn't deal with it on the level of people. I chose not to take it on. I had to deal with it in animals, which is hard, but it's not the same thing. With an animal, you get to decide when enough is enough. But, with people, enough is just when the hard part gets started.

So, you can imagine my inclination to RUN the other way.

But, fools rush in and I'm trying to schedule a playdate with her tomorrow. I'll try to do some shopping, if she'll let me, and will help with any errands she needs and water the plants. But, realistically, I just want to sit and talk. Maybe watch a movie. I'll take some applique or maybe I'll take Alba and work on a baby quilt. I'll try to mop the floor and will excuse myself and scrub the toilet. If I get a chance, I'll do a load of laundry. And, any folding or putting away. I'm going to take a big container of frozen "Suzanne's Potatoe Soup" (the manna of life) for lunch and leave the leftovers.

And, I know how to work with her other friends without stepping on anyone's toes, and I've generated excitement around people coordinating visits so that we aren't all there at once, but somebody is there almost every day. And, we split the work to make it manageable for us all.

That's me. The organizer. Behind the scenes, moving things along. Stepping in where I can. Staying away when I need to. Taking care of me and my family and still finding time for friends.

Apparently there's no amount of insulation that can protect me forever, and life does go on. And, I get to decide how much I want to participate.

And, I want to participate this much. Which is a lot.

My cup runneth over. And, that's why I've been crying off and on for most of a week.

The middle part may be the most important part. But, you don't get to have a middle without beginnings and endings.

I know that all my friends will happily put LD in their thoughts and prayers. And, remember the rest of us, too, please. I think there's a bunch of us going to do this together.

Blessing 4: I'm glad I am who I am.


Update at noon. I talked to LD and she is not doing as badly as was reported. She had a fall and she's in some pain from that and can't get out. But, others are helping and I will be visiting with her tomorrow. We are going to watch a movie. And, we're going to talk. And, I made her promise not to clean up for me...anything she needs doing, we'll do together when I get there.

So, hope floated right up, didn't it? I am excited and so is she about tomorrow. lw


Say WHAT???

Every so often, I read something that just makes me sit back and say WHAT??? Where in the heck did that come from? And, you guys know that I hold nothing sacred, and am willing to point my critical crooked quilting finger at anybody I don't agree with.

This is real, y'all. It came from Reuters news agency. I went to the source to check and make sure it was real. I've put quotes from the article in italics below.

Pope Benedict said Monday that gay marriage was one of several threats to the traditional family that undermined "the future of humanity itself".

What the hell?

He told diplomats from 180 countries that the education of children needed proper "settings" and that "pride of place goes to the family, based on the marriage of a man and a woman."

Hmmm. He clearly has not visited my proud family lately...and really, shouldn't he be more focused on the "proper setting" being one that prevents harm to children? I mean, clean your own house, dude.

"Consequently, policies which undermine the family threaten human dignity and the future of humanity itself."

Hmmm. Threaten...the future of humanity itself. Policies which undermine how a minority of people define family threatens the future of humanity itself. That sounds like "Do what I say or you will be destroyed." Didn't God promise not to destroy humanity again and gave us the rainbow as proof? Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe that was just a fun Sunday School lesson. I can't remember.

Okay, but you ain't heard the worst of it yet. This came from Cardinal Dull'un...er, I mean Dolan.

Dolan...sent a letter to the president criticizing his administrations decision not to support a federal ban on gay marriage. In that letter, Dolan...said such a policy could "precipitate a national conflict between church and state of enormous proportions."

Ugh, excuse me, but if church and state are separate, can they be in conflict? And, last time I checked, church and state are supposed to be separate here in the United States. Course, church doesn't seem to have come to grips with that yet. But, we're working on that.

Per Benedict: "The family unit is fundamental for the educational process and for the development both of individuals and states; hence, there is a need for policies which promote the family and aid social cohesion and dialogue."

Well, he did manage to get that part right. But, it cracks me up that he thinks he gets to decide what a "family" is. I've certainly known a lot of families in my life. Some were successful and some were not. Some had marriages, some did not. Some men beat their wives, others did not. I've even heard of some that killed their children...but oddly enough, I never hear about gay parents that kill their children. What I've heard instead is that children of gay parents, because they're extra effort to acquire, are cared for just as well as the most loved children of heterosexuals.

So, overnight, I had some thoughts. I thought I'd share them. Cause I'm like that.

Anybody that doesn't think my family is a real family because there's not a "female parent" in residence doesn't know much about what family really is and I feel sorry for them. They're clearly missing out on the whole family experience.

The pope is clearly wrong and thinking in a backward way. Come on, dude. If you wanna survive, you gotta adapt. Besides, you can't be infallible just because you say you're infallible. You need to act infallible to really get the title, don't you? Or is it like Miss Teen USA?

And, if me marrying Rob would potentially bring about the downfall of humanity...well, is humanity really that close to the precipice of downfall? Somehow I don't think so. I mean, a narrow definition of family isn't going to stop people that don't fit that definition from doing that thing that makes babies and from grouping up and making families. And, as long as people do that, won't there be humanity?

If we are that close to the precipice, then Rob and I should get married ASAP before it all collapses around us.

Bad Pope. Bad Cardinal. You should be ashamed. I doubt you are, but you should be.

And, if I offended anybody, look to yourself before you blame me. You'll likely find some good old Catholic guilt is really to blame. And, yes, it's okay to like me, even though I disagree with the pope. I mean, really, he can't possibly care, can he?

Whew, glad that's off my chest. Now I can think about what's really important. Raising a child. Being a good partner. Being a good person. Not bringing about the apocalypse.



Quirky Dresden Plates

Last time I blogged about these, they were very different. I was discussing whether they were quirky or just wierd. I've been taking them apart and putting them back together in what I think are more pleasing combinations. Not saying they aren't still quirky, tho.

Look at the one on the right in this picture. There are 9 matching red plaids, but several different dark blues that I pulled from here and there to give me a nice quirky plate. The one on the left is one made by the original maker and I enjoy that the lines in the lighter fabric don't all go the same way.

And, below, the one on the left has a consistent gray print and several reds...even a dark pink that doesn't really stand out like it did in the plate it came out of. The light blues on the right are all different and the bold prints all have blue and orange. Quirky, but a consistent use of those colors through the plate.

And, here are two matchy-matchy ones. I'm not going to get many matchy ones. Most are going to be quirky like the ones above. But, there's a place for matchy-matchy in this quilt, too.

As they said in Poltergeist, "All are Welcome."

And, this is the next one. There are three different blue prints in this and two different browns. But, they go so nicely together to give me a quirky, but pleasing plate. Even with the dirty pieces. (after this is quilted, it will get another good washing with oxyclean and biz.)

This would have been so much easier if she'd done 16 or 20 wedges instead of 18. Getting 9 from one color family and 9 from another is sometimes challenging in this quilt. And, forget about 9 that match. There aren't many fabrics that she has as multiples of 9 wedges from. But, they're great fabrics and I'm really enjoying putting them back together. They take a lot of work to disassemble a plate, press and starch the fabrics, then recut them to straight lines and exactly 20*, but once that's done, the actual hand sewing is a breeze.

I'm planning to applique these to a neutral square and put a center in them...maybe a yellow center since there are NO fabrics with yellow in them. I think this quilter didn't much like yellow because there is every shade of every color you could imagine in these fabrics...except yellow. Or, maybe I'll do the center circles in several different solid color fabrics. You just never know with me. All I can be sure of is that when I need the centers, I'll know what to use.

Or, they'll sit and wait until I do.

Everybody have a great Tuesday. I found that last "tweak" on the white featherweight this morning. One little piece that just needed to be turned the tiniest bit so another piece could slide past it without rubbing. Now, she's at optimal performance again. And, again, I'm tempted to put her back in the box before something else can go wrong. But, now that she's working perfect, how can I not use her???

That's not nearly as much of a connundrum as it sounds. Of COURSE I'm going to use her. At least for a while. Then, I'll switch to one of the others. That's the beauty of collecting.




It doesn't take much to throw my concentration off. Sydney will tell you...and will enjoy telling you stories that prove it...that I have the memory of a goldfish. But, this isn't about memory. this is about concentration. Focus.

Last week, I put this feathered star together, lickety-split and surprised myself with my accuracy. It just came together. I was absolutely focused.

But, this weekend, this border nearly made me give up quilting. And, the only difference is...focus. I had my mind on other thoughts this weekend and should have just worked on something else...pinbasting a quilt maybe. That's pretty straighforward.

Instead, I worked on it and the more it went wrong, the more I worked, never giving it more of my concentration, just more of my time and energy and stress. I got through the 144 HTS units and laid out how to put them together. And, Saturday morning, I got them mounted to the darker green triangles. And, they were all wrong. Not just a little wrong. VERY wrong. So, I took the strips of HTS pff the darker green triangles and tried to lay them different. And, they were wrong that way, too (reference 1).

So, I took the strips apart. And, I sewed the strips back together while I was adjusting my machine Saturday afternoon and they were wrong again. Now, fortunately, this time, before I took them all apart again, I pulled out the pattern. Isn't that the last thing you check when you've made a mistake? How could I have put those together wrong again? I took one pair apart and then realized that I was trying to put them on the wrong side of the triangles; they are directionally specific. I wanted the darker half of the HTS to point the same way as the larger dark triangle it was mounted to. But, that's not how they went. And, that's all that was wrong the first time, too...see reference 1 above. I had put the HTS strips together right, but had mounted them on the darker triangles backward and just needed to redo that. LACK OF FOCUS! But, taking all that apart did give me something to do while I sat in the sunroom on Saturday afternoon and enjoyed more of the beautiful day we had.

Now, here's where Lane goes real stupid. I didn't pay attention to how the larger triangles were supposed to be cut and I cut them with the diagonal on the long side. So, I'm trying to force the strips of HTS onto the straight of grain edge of a larger triangle and I need that little bit of stretch that bias would have given me...just like Marsha McCloskey described in the book...you know, in the pattern...otherwise known as the last place I look.

That's what I had to set aside and stop working on last night because I couldn't focus and figure out what to do to make the best of my bad cutting, because I absolutely am not going to buy more fabric and start over again.

But, this morning, I struggled the two sections together that you see in the picture above and the other two sections are over half done. But, only because I got up this morning, read through the instructions, focused on what I was doing, used my easy angle ruler to trim off the tips of the triangles and really looked at what I was trying to accomplish and thought about how it could/should be done.

So, here is my White Featherweight. Her name right now is Alba. Alba Tross. (think The Rime of the Ancient Mariner). Don't know if that will stick, but for right now, I'm enjoying it.

She has been an absolute and total burden, just to get her working right. I had her operating at her prime on Saturday evening and I came out and told Rob that she was working at her optimum and so I should probably put her in her box before anything could go wrong. And, sure enough, when I went in this morning and sewed my first strip, I could hear something dragging that was putting extra burden on the motor and I'm not sure what it is. As she warmed up, it stopped. But, I'll still have to find what it is and see if anything can be done.

Because I cannot put down a good mystery. I have to solve the puzzle. There's something in me that will make me stick with this until this machine is in tip top shape. I can't be beaten by a silly old machine. I am the Jane Marple of sewing machines.

Okay, so that's what's on my mind this Monday. My crying is abated for a while and I am back to the middle part...the part that counts the most. Not a scary beginning or a sad ending. Just the middle part.



The happiest birthday I ever cried about

Oh, what a wonderful birthday we had yesterday. We had a great plan. I finished sewing down the binding on the gift quilt friday night, gave that bit of white selvege another coat of brown pigma ink and put it in the wash and dry.

When it came out, I made a label and pinned it on and Rob came by and read it and said, "where did you get that spelling for LD's name?" She wrote it in a book and then she gave me the book. "Oh" and he ran for his laptop and I ran for that book. Both found, a new label had to be made. Quick. So, I got that pinned on and folded and rolled this up and we got out in plenty of time to all meet up in the parking lot of her apartment building and then we all tromped up at once and when she came to the door, there were 6 people standing there grinning at her.

She cried. We laughed and we hugged and we laughed. And, we talked and talked and met the most friendly cat in the whole world and I gave her this quilt.

When I handed her the bundle, she said "Oh, you got a new quilt?" and I said No, you got a new quilt. And, she cried. And, we unwrapped it and looked at it and I reminded her where the name The Palette in My Mind's Eye and she said "I said that?" And, she cried.

And, we took it into her bedroom and spread it on her bed and she said "I've been looking for a new bedspread" and I wished I'd added two more rows down the sides cuz it would have fit perfect. And, she showed us all around the apartment and told us the stories of the artwork and the things of a lifetime collecting.

Then, we went to lunch and she ate a good meal and she laughed and we laughed. My mentor was there and she and I sat at the end of the table and took a few minutes to catch up and talk quilting.

Then, we went back to LD's and she shared cuttings of all her plants with me. different and unusual plants that she grows and says are easy. We'll see about that. And, we visited until she started to look tired and then we came home.

I tried to work on the feathered star baby quilt, but everything I've done has been wrong or difficult, so I've put that aside and I'm going to play with my dresden plates.

I did spend all day working on my white featherweight. I've gotten all the last settings set, and reset the timing and adjusted a screw here and an angle there and it si working wonderfully. It's a bit louder than I wish, but my black one is a little louder than I expected, too.

And, I've cried. I can't even and am not trying to stop myself. Too much bad news all at once.

But, my girl. OMG, I have never been so proud of my girl. Rob was the next youngest person there, so I got to see how she interacts with adults. She has trouble tellings stories that adults that aren't around kids all the time could understand, full of drama and "I, like, uh..." But, she listened and she participated and she never looked bored and she answered questions and she shared her thoughts and she told funny and appropriate stories about me. And, she made me proud.

We watched the movie Hope Floats tonight. The line near the end is

“...momma...says....beginnings are scary, endings are usually sad, but it’s the middle that counts the most. Try to remember that when you find yourself at a new beginning. Just give hope a chance to float up. And it will…”

My fourth blessing is I am glad I am who I am.



Count your blessings

Okay, I won't pretend. I am bald. But, I'm having a bad hair day. As I understand it, a bad hair day is one where nothing seems to go right, but there's no specific complaint.

That's my day to a T.

Coffee with Rob was quiet as we caught up on the daily news catastrophes and sensational information that we don't need to know about people we don't care about. Then, I went to the sewing room and cleared off space and set up the machine for sewing the binding on LD's quilt. And, I read my email and played with those dresden plates for a minute and woke up the kid and the whole time, I was getting angrier and angrier inside. Just simmering. With no reason.

I stretched and walked and that went well. I worked off some steam and took my shower under my new rain showerhead. Sydney and I had breakfast and we chatted about her day. (Don't you just hate days when you're busting your butt at home and work and your kid is playing games at school? That is not fair.)

Still the day is going well. I had a place in LD's quilt back that had a bit of white selvege showing. Just a tiny point that would normally have been covered by the binding. I wasn't worried about it...until I was pinning it down and realized that with a foldover binding, that was going to show. So, I pulled out my brown pigma pens and took care of that. See the trend? Everything is going right for me. I'm batting a thousand. I should be celebrating, but inside I just can't cool down this simmering anger.

And, the whole time, my shoulders are getting nearer and nearer my ears as the stress builds and I get more and more tense.

And, the whole time the tension is building, I'm telling myself there's no reason, and everytime I do that, the tension tightens up one notch because now I'm not just tense, but I'm tense about being tense.

When this is happening, I have a new trick that I've started to play on myself. And, I'm going to tell you what it is, because like all good tricks I play on myself, once I know they're tricks, sharing them doesn't hurt them or reduce their effect.

I write things down so I don't have to think about them. You're saying you do too, that's why you have a list to keep up with all your lists of things to do. But, I don't mean that.

When something unpleasant gets stuck in my head, I will dwell on it and dwell on it and dwell on it and make sure I don't forget it. But, just like the concept of the to-do list, if I write it down, I have a permanent copy and don't have to keep it in my mind anymore.

This is especially helpful after an argument with Rob, when angry thoughts are still spinning around about what I'd like to have said if I'd just thought of it. I write them down so I don't forget.

And, then I usually forget or lose the piece of paper I wrote it down on. Because after I stop it from spinning around in my head, it really doesn't matter anymore and I can let it go and it gets forgotten. I found such a list just this morning when I was looking for a place to write, from an argument Rob and I had in October. I'd completely forgotten about it. (but I sure am glad I didn't say those things)

After I wrote, I decided I needed to count some blessings. I wanted a beaded something to count blessings on, but not my prayer beads...I'm not sure I could come up with 88 blessings on the spur of the moment, or memorize them if I did. But, a few blessings, I can remember.

Note on my prayer beads. Like the Rosary is for Catholics, the prayer beads give me a great place to focus my mind and my physical energy while I'm thinking something through. That tactile feeling of the beads passing through my fingers helps me get into a zone of concentration, where I can focus on what I need from my higher power. Usually, if I start my beads with a problem, by the time I get to the end, moving one bead for each thought, I've worked it out. And, if I need more than 88 thoughts, the beads form a circle and I can go around as many times as I need to.

So, lacking a short strings of beads, I picked up this chinese thing that I found in World Market a few months ago. I don't know it's intended purpose, so if it's something wicked, don't tell me because I'm using it for good. But, it has 5 stone disks on the cord and a loop at the other end.

I'm going to name each stone for a different blessing. Today, I've got the string looped around a button on my shirt, tucked inside and hanging near my heart. The button is buttoned so I don't have to worry about the string falling off. And, I've thought of my first three blessings.

-I found Rob and we made a family.

-My job, even though it doesn't always feel like a blessing, pays the bills and keeps us comfortable and isn't too much work and doesn't require me to be away from home too much. And, it's stable.

-My quilting because I need an expression of what's inside and quilting gives me that outlet.

I'll come up with two more soon. Blessings are like that. Sometimes you have to celebrate a few really good ones for a while before you can think of any more.

This morning, church music has been going all around in my head. I can't shake it. But, I am glad it's this and not Delta Dawn (thanks Bonnie for putting that one in a couple days ago. as recently as last night I was whistling it).

Count your blessings;

Name them one by one:

Count your many blessings, see what God has done.

The religion of my childhood had some really good ideas. Too bad they were so tightly wrapped in prejudice and judgment and condemnation and vengence.

Everybody have a great Friday. Count your blessings. Name them one by one if you need to. Or, maybe you can sum them up by just feeling blessed.

LD's quilt is going to be ready tomorrow morning, early enough to wash it and deliver it at lunch. We're crashing her birthday party. I haven't crashed a party in 20 years. I'm so looking forward to such decadent behavior.