Busy, busy

We had a wonderful birthday for Rob.  There is a video that will show how fun our day was.  He is crazy and interviewed people and videotaped our favorite antique stores.  And, there’s footage of us, just having fun. 
Yesterday, I wanted to make something, not quilty and not paper pieced.  I decided on a needle case.  I’ve been using this cosmetics kit and it has worked wonderfully.  Nice and large, but it has three zipper close pockets, and I’d have to open the pocket, take something out, then close it again and open it to take something else out, and if I didn’t keep everything zipped up, then things fell out. 
Earlier this year, I got a sunbonnet needle case and love it and wanted to make one.  One of my friendly followers sent me a link to the pattern.http://tipnut.com/26-free-tutorials-for-needle-books-cases/  And, there were a bunch of different needle cases there.  I was torn between two of them and decided to take elements from each to make my needle case. 
I used some fabric that my friend Suzanne sent me for my birthday last year.  Nice and masculine, although Sydney says it looks like a woman’s wallet.  Brat.
Anyway, the outside has one long pocket and one short one and an additional business card pocket.
Inside is all about the pockets and buttons.  Was going to use snaps, but they just didn’t seem sturdy enough. 
Two pockets on the left, one will hold my MP3 player when I travel.  And, there’s a narrow fabric strip with a velcro closure to hold two spools of thread. 
The center section is a pin cushion with a chip board back so the pins don’t go through and poke me.  And, a pocket for a thimble.  And a sleeve for either a pencil or a seam ripper.
The last section has scissors, and a needle case with felt to hold the needles. 
I’m pretty excited.  Oh, and that sunbonnet needle case? 
I made one of those, too.  I made some changes to the pattern and the pattern itself had some improvements over the one I bought on ebay.  It’s a nice little pursette with needles and pins in the front and a little pouch for thread and scissors and thread.  This would be the ideal thing to take to a quilting bee. 
But, today is Monday and that means back to work.  But, we definitely used the weekend to make us happy.
And, Sydney?  She just wanted to lay around yesterday, so she got what she wanted, too.
Everybody have a great Monday.  Rob’s video finished uploading last night, so it will post later today.


15 Blocks and a Happy Birthday!

I finished block 15 this morning.  Not sure I really care for this one so much. 


The colors looked okay when I picked them, but assembled, not so sure about it.  But, hey, you don’t see any ugly ones when they’re all put together.


Someone asked my plan the other day and I can only share what it is…today.  And, there’s a good chance it will change.  But, right now, I plan to sash them using a garden path setting, with the light background color on the two outside edges, which will make the blocks look a little bigger, and I have a beautiful mottled yellow and lime batik for the center strip.  A garden path setting is three narrow strips in the sashing and the cornerstones are pieced X blocks so that the center strips of the sashing end in a point at both ends. 

This quilt has a garden path sashing. 


Today is Rob’s birthday.  He’s chosen for us to go antiquing and have lunch in one of the small towns.  We always love to do this; even Sydney has a good time.  I’ll take some fingerwork for the drive and we’ll have a blast to celebrate his big day…not the BIG day, he’s still not there yet, but a big day nonetheless.

Sydney is about to start baking his birthday cake.  A carrot cake.  All by herself.  Who else is scared?



The result

The result of cleaning in the sewing room last Tuesday may not be all I hoped it to be.  I’ve ended with this pile of project boxes and bins, all empty and I don’t have a place to store empties…yet


And, this is my pile of scraps.  You thought I was kidding when I said my scraps were over running the sewing room.  But, I wasn’t.  They were just spread out, so I didn’t have to acknowledge how many there are. 


But, patience must be applied here.  This is where my commitment to cut for 15 minutes a day.  This is a week’s worth.


It doesn’t look like a lot, but there are enough scraps cut and trimmed to sizes there to make a quilt of squares and bricks.  But, I won’t.  I’ll save them for something else. 

But, now that I’ve taken pics, I can file them away in the scrap users system. 


All waiting and waiting until I’m done with cutting and ready to piece. 

Now, when is that again?




Change is good.  But, only change that I want is good. 

Okay, so clearly, yesterday was not just about Google.  Yesterday was about a whole series of unpleasant changes, and Google was the only one I could rant about.

I did learn one thing tho.  Updates I made to my blog post did not go out like I expected them to.  Used to, when I updated my post to add some info or moderate some language, it updated for everybody that read after that.  Clearly, that didn’t happen yesterday.  I updated the post soon after it was published to better express my frustration, but y’all were still seeing the original post, well into the night.  So, that’s info for everybody using blogger.

I’m having a bit of difficulty right now with “right focus”.  I keep getting distracted by little things, like google, and not focusing on the big stuff, like work. 

All I want to do is sit and sew and relax.  But, a frustration has been building up in me for days.  A feeling that I’m wasting time and I don’t know on what, but I’m still being really productive, so it can’t be wasted, so why does it feel like such a waste?  I feel like I’m in really bad trouble for something, but I can’t think what I might have done.  And, believe me, I’ve reviewed everything I can.

At my machine, I am in charge.  I create what I want.  It looks like I want.  The only change is change I want, and so it is good change.

At work, I can’t think about what I need to.  I’m able to put out fires and smile and send pleasant messages to those I work with, but inside, I just couldn’t care less.  And, what’s going on in American politics has actually got me a little scared.  I keep reassuring myself that these are just the vocal, that the majority is sitting back, quiet, like me, and won’t speak until we vote.  But, OMG, the disrespect is just appalling. 

Something about my lack of “right focus” is really important, but I don’t quite understand it yet.  So, instead of fretting it, I need to put it in a quiet place and just let it be, until it grows up and gets a focus.  Meanwhile I need to get through the next few days, and the next few days after that.  Later, I’ll understand what’s really going on, but for now, I just need to know that something is going on; acknowledge it, but don’t let it bog me down.  

My frustrations bled into family time last night.  I was an angry dark cloud that wouldn’t talk to anybody; better not to say anything than aim something at one of them.  But, I’m learning that it’s not always what you do.  What counts is what you do after that.  And, after that, I relaxed and apologized and took my part in family time for the rest of the evening.

One day, the secret to what it all meant is going to be clear to me.  It’s just, I’m worried that it might be too late and the secret might be “what were you so stressed about?”

So, today, I’m shooting for a relaxed day.  And, I’m using a different writer software for the first time to write this post.  So far, so good.  I can feel the relaxation flowing in.

As Ellen says, Be kind to one another.



I can do just about anything

Sydney and I made Jelly this weekend.  Before class on Saturday, I took a gallon and a half of Mayhaws and turned them into juice.  Mayhaws are little fruits that look like a crabapple, but taste like a berry.  And, when you mix them with enough sugar, you get a wonderful jelly.

These are the berries that my dad picked up from his trees while I was there weekend before last.  His trees are loaded and I was willing to take all that he would give me.  I washed them a couple of times to get the grit and grass and leaves out of them.

And, then I boiled them in my big pot with water and drained the juice off and then mashed and boiled them again.  
And, then on Sunday, Sydney and I ended up with a bunch of jars of wonderful Jelly.  She and I have been enjoying it every morning for breakfast. 

I know that men think and talk about things diffferently.  Christine pointed it out in a blog not long ago.  But, I can't think of any other way to say it.  The second border on the red silk quilt kicks major butt. 

Unfortunately, I can do just about anything.  I think of myself as a renaissance man.  But, I'm having a heck of a time trying to make this stupid blog post.  I don't know what I could possibly be doing wrong in trying to reorder my pictures and get text between them.  But, this has been the most frustrating half hour.  And, it did not need to be!!!  I'm pretty upset with google right now. 


Second half of class and another Jubilee block

Someone commented that a good teacher looks back at the class for improvements.  So, I've been reviewing what happened in the two class sessions and thinking what I could have done better.

I could have relaxed more.  I was pretty intense.  I don't think that put anybody off.  The class was made of strong personalities.  I'm sure that practice will help me to relax.  And, having reasonable expectations of what I can really do in 8 hours will help, too.

Too much practice time?  That one I don't know about.  The class was mostly watch me do it and then you do it.  That made class very quiet.  But, one of the things I think I missed by being self taught was the chance to ask questions as I did stuff.  I wanted to give plenty of chances for that and wanted to give good feedback about what I observed.

Content.  I've gone back through the lesson plans twice and I can't find anything I didn't bring up.  Lots of stuff.  Some of it was of more interest than other stuff.  For example, bobbin tension.  Only one person in class could adjust her bobbin tension and she knew how, so we didn't spend but a minute or two on that.  I think everyone was interested in and wrote down Day Style Designs.  We covered selecting quilting based on the quilt top, but not in enough detail.  We covered thread color and weight and needle size and marking tools and the John Flynn backing method.  I was a little stilted as I talked about my quilting history and showed off my quilts.  Again, that's just relaxing.  We talked about machine feet and straight line quilting and ditch quilting and marked template quilting...tho not enough, and free hand, free motion background quilting...maybe a little too much.  But again, that seemed tailored to the class because they just flew through the marked quilting. 

All in all, I think I covered what I wanted to cover.  The class's new name is "Just add practice" and the intent is to present all the information that I use to make the quilts I've made.  Everyone said they got a lot out of it as I shook their hands when they were leaving.  And, I think they meant it.  I'm sure that every class I teach is going to be different because in each one, I will be different.  Sometimes, more outgoing, sometimes more reserved.  I'd like to teach a piecing class where all of the class is about seeing and doing and very little is about talking.  I think that would be a class full of laughter and talking.  The machine quilting class was quiet because there was so much to cover. 

And, I got this little sampler done during it.  Soon as I get a binding on it, I'm going to take it to the shop and bring one of my little wallhangings home.  Those empty spots on the walls bother me.

And, here is the 14th Jubilee block, all finished and the center matched as good as it's going to get.  It looks off in this picture still, but trust me, it's as good as it's going to get.  Time to start another one.


I've been sticking with my commitment to cut scraps for 15 minutes a day.  I finally see a dent in the top of one huge bag of scraps.  You don't cut many scraps into strips and squares in 15 minutes, but in 6 days worth of 15 minutes, I ended up with a nice pile of stuff, ready to use.  Yesterday was the first day I forgot.  Today, I cut for a half hour.  I don't think I'll be forgetting too often.  Thirty minutes of cutting for no intended purpose gets boring.

Okay, so that's it for me this Tuesday morn.  Time to make our daily bread.



A good reason for class

When I first saw one of the class participants using these "Grip & Stitch" pads from Clever Craft Tools in class, I thought they looked fun. I thought she'd enjoy them in the first part of class, when we were doing large scale quilting, but later on, she was going to want gloves.

Now, I own a pair and I have to tell you, they are terrific! I used them for several hours yesterday. They have a black side and a blue side. I started out using them blue side down and thought, well, this is nice. But, they slipped on the quilt, just a little bit. Then, I tried the black side and you talk about sticking to the quilt and giving me very much control. I started out doing straight lines and then when I got to the tiny stuff, I went back to my trusted gloves. But, after I had to take them on and off a few times, I switched back, just to see if these would give me the control for some specifically sized, unmarked feathers and then some outlining.

Needless to say, they did. I microstipple with my fingertips, so I'll have to try them on that and see how well they work out and if I can get the same control using my shoulders that I get with my fingers, but for everything else I've tried, they worked great!

Okay, so my caution. Relax your shoulders. I tend to push down, mashing the quilt between my hands and the machine bed to make sure I get sufficient contact with the quilt for good traction. Pushing down made my shoulders ache. The rubbery sole means, I don't need to push down. They have sufficient "grip" to hold the quilt and go front or back, or side to side without the downward pressure. Oddly, using downward pressure with these seemed to make my shoulders hurt worse, so I have to be very cautious not to push down. And, when I didn't, my shoulders were fine.

I am enjoying them and am using them on the red silk quilt. I did notice that the sticky bottom tends to pick up my ceramic marking pencil lines. I noticed the lines, but don't know exactly where they came from. That said, I have not had any trouble seeing any of my lines as I've quilted. And, you know I drew a bunch of lines on that quilt to do that little feather border. But, if you marked too much, these might speed up the erasing process. Not a problem for me because I mark small section at a time.

So, classes are a great place to be exposed to new things. Things you didn't even know you needed and I picked up two from this one experience. Plus, I got to look at a book I might want to pick up. 501 Quilting Motifs.

Squishy! Rob said "you got Royal Mail." And, I did. Shevvy sent me this squishy. She found me a thimble with flexible sides. It does fit on my finger and will give me a flat topped quilting thimble. Thanks Shev! But, the thing I like the best is the flag. Already have it hanging on the wall.

Thanks so much again!!

Everybody have a great Monday. Lane


Blocking a quilt

Quilt class finished yesterday. So much fun, and idiot newbie that I am, I forgot the camera yesterday. So, no pics. But, it went great and I'll include more about it later this week. But, today, it's chores and shopping and scrubbing and I'm going to make jelly.

But, first, I have this little quilt to block. I love blocking my wallhangings. They end so stiff and flat and lay against the wall better. And, this little quilt isn't true square, so I can stretch it out to make it square enough to hang straight. The quilt has been washed and has never been in the dryer. It is quite damp when I pin it down.

First, I lay a ruler in the center of the quilt and pin in the first square. This one just happened to accomodate my big ruler, but a small square up ruler would have done jsut as well.

I pin all around it, making adjustments as necessary. This ruler is 12 1/2 and the block is 12 1/4, so I had to pin to a line inside the edge of the ruler to make it work, but all I'm trying to get is square corners and straight lines. Not worried about the size.

And, then i start adding rulers outside that block and making straight lines based on that initial square. Often, I will put in pins and then have to pull them out as I work my way around the quilt. Always getting more and more square and always getting straighter lines.

You can see how this line was almost a half inch too far to the right and had to be pulled to the left and pinned down.
I work my way all the way around to the edge, moving pins from the center out as I go, pulling and tugging based on the original square. At the end, I use rulers outside the perimeter of the quilt and pull the edges over to those rulers.

And, then it's all pinned to the floor...and it only took an hour to pin this 42" square quilt to the floor. But, it will be worth it when this is back on the wall. It will lay on the floor, under a fan overnight, until it is good and dry. Then, I pull the pins and hang the quilt on its hanger.

I have to reblock every time I wash a quilt. When I took the quilt to class, we folded it and moved it all around and the stiffness went out of it. When I rehung it, I could see where it was off square on one side. This will fix all that and it will hang perfect again.
Everybody have a great Sunday. Soon as the jelly's in the jars, I'm back to quilting.


Border, bloom and boon

Did that title intrigue you?

One thing at a time.

I'm trying out a border for the red silk quilt. I have three borders around the central feather work. The first border is pumpkin seeds and micro stippling. The third border is a greek key. Between them, I had to leave two inches to get those two very structured, repeating borders to fit. Now, I have to find a way to fill that two inches, preferably with something that isn't very structured so I don't have to worry about resizing for the repeat.

The first one I tried is the twining rope border above. I did not really like it. I don't know why. It's a perfectly suitable border treatment. And, with the echo, it's two inches wide. But, I didn't like it. It would have to be marked very carefully to get the precision I'm after. You can see that it's wonky in these pictures and I'm not sure why. I'd have to work with the template a lot to get it figured out.

When I was looking at some of Diane Gaudynski's work, I saw a circular border on one of her quilts that was tiny, regularly sized and spaced feathers, placed evenly along a line. She used a line of pearls. Hopefully, the link will show you. But, I kept telling myself, that would take so much precision to reproduce and I'd never be able to do it without drawing every feather. I want this to be very free-hand to save time.

I knew I would need practice, so I pulled this little class practice piece out and marked it with three lines. I know that three lines are required for me to make feathers that are equally sized, but would I be able to get that kind of precision? I have to say that while my feathers are getting more precise, there is still a lot of variation in them. I could see that while I was quilting them in and I was having trouble convincing myself that i could pull this off. But, when I look at them on the whole, not looking at each individual one, they're actually not that bad. Pretty close to what I had in mind. add some echo work to fill in the two inches and I think they'll do nicely as a way to separate those borders with something that is different and at the same time just as nice as the quilt center and hopefully as striking as Diane's is.

But, it's going to take marking. First, I'll mark two lines that are a quarter inch apart down the center and I'll mark every quarter inch along that. That will give me quarter inch squares and I'll fill each one with a pearl. Then, I'll mark lines a half inch on either side of the pearls and I'll put the feathers in there, ending a feather on each circle so that each feather will be a quarter inch thick and a half inch long. I know. That sounds like a lot of marking. But, compared to marking each and every feather? it'll be a piece of cake.


Bloom. Had to share this one. When Rob and I travel, we bring home Iris. I don't know why iris. It just works out that way. This iris is from our trip to Boston about 12 years ago. I think this is only the second bloom I've gotten from it. Just because we collect iris on our travels doesn't mean I know how to grow them. And, they're supposed to be so easy.



I don't know about you guys, but I love old patterns. I've collected them from a bunch of places. The other day, when I was going through my patterns, I had to decide which ones I could legitimately make. I wanted to cut my patterns in half. So, I picked half of my christmas patterns to give away...kinda like ripping a band-aid off.

Clockwise from the upper right,

Crown Tree skirt/wall or table medallion quilt. this is two cute patterns in one package. One for a tree skirt and one for a wonky log cabin medallion quilt. Update the colors and this one would be cute to make.

Pocket quilts - okay, so it's not a holiday quilt. Not sure how it got in this picture. But, there it is. 6 Fun and Creative quilts with 3-D pockets.

The Magic of Christmas - an applique santa pattern by Shirley Gardner Designs. Really cute.

St. Nick Revisited is a set of patterns for making three santa dolls. Not quilts.

Jolly Jingle Bell Santa wallhanging. This is made from pieced santa blocks. Cute, cute.

Holiday Hospitality Wreath uses pineapple blocks to make a wreath wall hanging.

Rules: you can't pick. But, if you win things you don't want, you can re-gift...just as I'm regifting them now. Don't spread the word. This is for the readers that put up with my blather every day. All are welcome now that I know how to ship international. If you can, help with postage. If you don't specifically say you're interested in the patterns, I won't include you in the drawing...if there is even enough interest to have a drawing. That way, people can still comment without worrying they'll accidentally win.


Okay, so that's it for today. I am not nervous about quilt class tomorrow. If I did the first part, and the background quilting part is going to be a piece of cake. That's what we're covering tomorrow...backgrounds, not cake. I am prepared. I have all my supplies. The world is my oyster.

Oh, and tomorrow, I'll be dropping off Linus quilts. That always makes me feel good.

Toodles. Lane


Left out?

This post is going to be an opinion piece about the quilting community, but first, here is block 14 of the Jubilee quilt. I've put the center together twice, but now that I've seen this picture, I'm likely going to do it again. there's something wrong that has to have occurred when I put the quarters together into halves, because I have used all my skills to join the halves and the points just won't match. This is going to be another great block, soon as I get that solved. I think I'll work on that before I put it on the Jubilee blog.

So, what am I feeling left out of? I've had two things come up this week that made me think about men who quilt.

First was an email from Christine, the blogger at QuiltersCandy letting me know that she had blogged about me as a part of the male quilting community. I read her post. It was thought provoking.

Next, I received the questions for a magazine article about men who quilt that I've agreed to participate in, and the very first question was about my thoughts on the male quilting community.

Thinking. Thinking


What male quilting community? Have I been left out of my own group?

When I started quilting in 1999, I didn't think to look for a male quilting community I could barely find a quilting community at all. The male quilters I found were John Flynn, whose engineering approach to precision was beyond my skills and understanding at the time and whose contributions to the quilting community took years for me to appreciate; Joe Cunningham, a hand quilter when I wanted to learn to machine quilt; and Ricky Tims, who was developing the cave man style of quilting that was so different than the precision I was learning at the time, but who made great strides to get men's quilts taken seriously and stood up against the social convention that quilting was for women. And, there was me.

At the time, I was still being skipped in the cutting line at JoAnn's because they thought I was just holding fabric for a woman. I generally got asked if I needed any help and treated like I was standing in the way while women were free to shop undisturbed. And, I was told the dimensions of a fat quarter every time I picked one up. Women were the accepted group in fabric stores, and that didn't have anything to do with quilting.

Ruth McDowell, Alex Anderson, Eleanor Burns. Elizabeth Hamby Carlson, Martha Thompson, Sally Collins. My mentor JC. These ladies, and ones just like them, taught me to piece and to sew; taught me color and precision and bindings. And, then there were my aspirations; Jinny Beyer, Harriet Hargrave, Diane Gaudynski. And, after that, Bonnie Hunter, who taught me how to use up what was left over. And, Leah Day, who taught me to think outside of tradition and create originality from what I saw both inside and outside of the quilt world.

Women, each and every one.

About 5 years ago, I went looking for the male quilting community. I hunted and I hunted and I found Manquilters. At the time, it was aspiring to be a male quilting community, but it seemed to diverge into too many topics for me. When I was trying to get involved, it wasn't really what I was looking for. A few guys posted quilt pictures, but nobody talked or created community among the men who joined. There was much diversity of thought and no one to channel that into a cohesive theme. There are a couple of guys I met there whose blogs I still follow and some other guys found my blog or I've found theirs, but pretty much, for me, manquilters did not represent the community I was looking for.

While I was learning the difference between a needle and a seam ripper, I was also nosing my way into the local quilting community. I finally got over my trepidation and let them see me as a quilter and not just a husband holding fabric. They welcomed me with open arms, never once being snide or judgmental. They shared freely and gave me tips and hints that worked hand-in-hand with the basics I had learned from TV. I showed off my work and I got better and better and now?? I'm teaching at that same LQS.

So, what does all that have to do with the male quilting community? I never found it, so I just joined the community that I did find. I never saw it as either male or female; just quilters. I let people see my work and I got help building my skills and I started writing a blog. And, I created what I think of as my online quilting bee; quilters that followed me and quilters that I followed. Male and Female. Black, Asian, White. Citizens of a half dozen countries. We had show and tell and we shared our skills and our challenges and our upcoming projects and we organized group projects and challenges. That blog group was lost due to a lack of technical support and I moved here, where many of my bee had already found new homes. And, I met more and more people. Quilters and appreciators of quilts. Parents. Gardeners. Cooks. And, I made them all part of my community; my bee. Not my male community. Just my community. And, they've held my hand when I was afraid and they've given me advice when I have no idea. They share their ideas and their support and their encouragement.

I'm no beer drinking, odoriferous invader into the world of women. I'm just a person who volunteered to be a parent and enjoys quilting and knitting and cooking and gardening, regardless which gender was taught to enjoy them by social convention. When I speak, I tailor my words to the audience I'd like to attract, which is diverse and inclusive. If I ran into women that resented my intrusion into the world of the womanly domestic arts, I don't really know what I'd say. I don't think it would faze me much. I'd likely just snicker behind my hand at the silliness of resenting something that's happening all around and can't be stopped, like resenting a wave that's crashing onto a beach.

Men are breaking the social barriers that prevented them from being public about their quilting, just like women broke down the social barriers that kept them from working outside the home. We are not the first men who quilt any more than Bella Abzug was the first woman to be independent. But, we may be the first men who expect to be recognized for our contributions to the community, just as Ms Abzug expected to be recognized for her contributions to women's rights.

I've never been one to keep quiet. I am one to challenge social convention. And any guy that recently got taken seriously at the local JoAnn's fabric counter can say "Thanks!"any time they want.

After I thought about it and got past some of the words, I realized Christine's message was right. There is no need for women to be bothered by men in the quilting community. There's no need to split the community into male quilters or female quilters or art quilters or biblical quilters or hand quilters or longarm quilters. We're just quilters. And we may not have anything in common, except our love of quilts

And, how will I answer that question for the magazine editor? I never found the male quilting community, but that didn't stop me from joining the community of quilters that I did find. It's a community with lots of different people in it.

We all contribute to one great, all-inclusive community of people. No devisiveness required. All are welcome. Step into the light.



Jubilee block 13...and Everything begins with a good clean

We think of 13 as an unlucky number. Most buildings don't have a 13th floor. Friday the 13th is a good day to stay in bed.

Phooey! My little trip began on friday the 13th and while I was away, I made my 13th block. And, all that worked out just fine. (yes, I did rush to block 14, just so 13 could be behind me, but that silly supersitiousness hardly seems worth mentioning.)

I know this next stuff makes me weird. Can't help it. It's my thing.

I was hesitant to show you my sewing room storage area because it looks like a small explosion took place there. It always looks like a small explosion took place there, except when it looks like a large explosion took place there.

When I've been working on an internal problem; trying to make some change in what I'm doing or how I'm acting or what I think about something, I can get very intense and in depth and retrospective. Rob has told me that he recognizes a good clean as a sign that I am feeling better or have solved my problem or that a depressed time is ending.

Yesterday, I decided to clean this storage space. It wasn't too bad before, tho I did have stuff stacked on the floor, which meant I needed to find more places to store more stuff. And, my Mom sent stuff home with me, so there was going to be even more stuff stacked on the floor, or it was going to have to stay in Rob's garage...and unless I want him storing saws in the sewing room, I needed to get out of the way in his garage. So, I decided a re-org was called for.

At one point, it looked like a fabric oriented episode of The Hoarders. At one point, I had pulled so much stuff out that I couldn't get out of the closet and into the rest of the house. Once it was all pulled out, it was time to figure out what to keep and where to keep it and what to get rid of (watch for some pattern giveaways). I had to attack the problem from many fronts. Sometimes, I was organizing in the garage, figuring out what needed to come in and getting it with similar items. Sometimes, I was organizing from inside the closet and sometimes I was attacking the pile from the left and sometimes from the right. By the time that Sydney got there at 4:30, everything was in it's new designated area and I had vaccumed and was cutting scraps. And, in a very pleasant mood.

Everything isn't in its right spot yet. That's fine tuning. But, it was in its designated area. An area for yarn work and an area for paper crafting. An area for my scrap books and photo albums. A place to store all those vintage machines I own...well, almost; I need a place for one more and two are going on craigslist. All the patterns were in their right boxes and all the garment sewing supplies were together. I could actually get to my gardening books. My already started projects are within arms reach, so maybe I'll reach for one of them instead of starting something new. Maybe.

I had rendered about a dozen pair of jeans down into usable fabric and got all my heavy duty fabrics together so I can actually use them to make quilts. My one recurring thought through the day was that I can't use all the stuff if I can't find it and get to it and if I'm not using it up, then I have to stop bringing stuff in. So, the solution to bringing new stuff in was using up the stuff I have. Logical, right?

Anyway, now I'm going back to making charity quilts. There's a great deal of satisfaction that comes from making them and spending all my quilting time working on projects for me just didn't provide me with that. And, after a four month break, I'm looking forward to it. I'll spend some time on quilts for me and some time on quilts to donate.

And, I have some wonderful things started that I just need to get on with. Cleaning was a way to get back to what I enjoy. Cleaning means a fresh start. For weeks, I had the voices of other people in my head. Constantly talking to other people and planning what I'd say in this situation or that situation; thinking how I'd react, or how I'd feel; and actually feeling those feelings as though the whole thing was real and not just something in my head. Yesterday was the first day I was alone in my head.

Consequently, because I was working so hard, I was all alone outside my head, too. Hard work is lonely like that.

Have a great Wednesday. This Saturday is the end of my quilting class. Can't wait to see what everyone did for homework.



Home again

It is nice to be home again. Someplace else is good, but home is great.

The visit was a nice one. Most of you have experienced uncomfortable visits with family. At least those of you that have moved away. At some point in your shared history, you diverged and you changed in ways that were not influenced by the folks back home and they changed in ways that were not influenced by you and no matter how hard you try to stay in touch, you become a different person, trying to go home and fit in with different people and you just aren't who you used to be and that's who they think of you as. Anyway, that's enough of a run-on sentence for you to understand what I'm trying to say. And, if you've never felt that way, then you wouldn't have understood no matter how many sentences I used. The thing is, trying to find a place where the different you and the different them can all fit together for a visit can be challenging. But, we all seemed to pull it off perfectly.

The whole visit was nice. It was splattered by little "incidents" where I had to be who I am, like needing to get back to the hotel in the evenings so I could have a few minutes to relax and settle into my routine before it was time to drop into bed. And, making sure I got three meals a day when they're used to two and a snack. We worked it out. I "got my back up" a couple of times. It happens. But, what happens after that is what's important and we worked through all that together.

The last night was the best night. It was my Mom and Dad, my Aunt, both my Sisters and both their Daughters and one of the Daughter's Boyfriend. We sat around and talked and laughed and laughed and talked and just all enjoyed one another so much in the evening. My Dad got pizza, which he should be saluted for because he doesn't eat pizza. And, we all had a very nice time.

When it was time for me to say my goodnights, everyone went home and I got a few quiet moments with my Mom and Dad to say our goodbyes and off I went.

Yesterday morning, I was up and loaded in the car and gassed up and on the road at 6:30 and after two very disappointing stops at antique shops that didn't have much that I wanted (I think I spent less than $20 including all three stops) I was home and unloading the car. I planted the few plants that I brought home and started putting enough stuff away that I could get through the night.

I woke this morning with a goal to rearrange the sewing room closet and clean everything up...so I can fit yet another machine and another bin of stuff into it that came from my Mom.

Y'all watch for some freebies, especially some cross stitch stuff. That stuff is beautiful and I'd love to get it places it will be used.

I wanted to show a couple of pics. First is this quilt that my Mom made in the '70's. This was the beginning of the quilting comeback. It is hand pieced, hand quilted and hand bound. It had a tear and I inserted a piece of fusible and ironed it down and now the quilt is in the wash, so it can be stored with the collection of family quilts. I'm glad to have another one that my Mom made. She gave it to me on Saturday and I spent the next two nights under it. The maid made my bed, using this as the bedspread. How nice. She could have wadded this on the floor and used their spread, but she didn't. And, she took good care to line it up right on the bed each day.

This is the quilt shop I went to. It's in an old house. Great place. When I got there, the parking lot was full from her first class of the day.

I bought some batiks, one piece of civil war repro and I FOUND THE BACKGROUND FABRIC FOR THE JUBILEE QUILT. I had no idea where that came from, and I've been hunting because I have a fear of running out. So, I took my blocks in to look for batiks and when I came across the bolt, I snatched it up and bought all that was left...which got me a discount.

This picture's for Bonnie. Bonnie, you are truly everywhere. You have made it into the small town quilt shops. They didn't have a lot of books and patterns, mostly fabric. So, when I saw this display with not one, but two of your books, I had to take a picture for you.
Everybody have a great Tuesday. I'm trying to decide whether to challenge myself to make 50 linus quilts or donate the fabric to goodwill.
My scraps have taken over. I see another challenge to cut for 15 minutes a day until they are back in control. I did that last year and I think the year before. But, it's definitely time again.



I have made it to my home town, West Monroe, LA. Eight hours from my home to here. Somehow, I managed to get a late start yesterday and then had to go back home once before I got on the highway...this getting old thing sucks. Anyway, the drive was uneventful. I only stopped in one antique shop because I was afraid the family would be waiting for me with supper and I didn't want to be late. But, I made note of where the shops are so I can stop on the way home.

Some of the drive was sad. The highway runs through a bunch of small towns and it is widening in several of them. Where once there were stately homes from early in the 20th century, lining the roads, now there are just shells and construction and destruction. Sad to see. Houses too big to be moved, and too stately to fall for the expansion of a single road through town.

I got here and had a nice dinner with my Mom and Dad at a little restaurant near their house, way out in the country. Good ole home cookin'. Lots of grease and fried foods. All the stuff that's good once in a while, even if it's not good for you. And, we had a nice visit and then I headed back to the hotel to crash.

The hotel isn't anything special. Certainly not as nice as I'm used to staying in when I travel for business, but much less expensive than any of those hotels and all I needed was a room and my expectations of that room were that it be clean and quiet and it is both of those.

I've had coffee and I've made some mariner's compass sections and Rob and I have had a video chat and now, I'm getting ready to head out on my only planned stop while here, which is to the local quilt shop. I'm going to ask her to let me take photos today and give them a calling card. And, pick up some batiks!! Yeah!

It's a good thing I didn't expect the room to be well decorated. I am not fond of blue, red and purple, all put together, tho Sydney would be in hog heaven with all the bright colors.

I was intrigued by the bedspread, with the interlocking squares. That would be a fun quilt pattern...in different colors.

Okay, that's it for me. The day is begun, things must be done and people must be visited.

Hope everyone has a great Saturday. Lane


Driving Mr. Daisy

Okay, cue up the bouncy clarinet music. I'm about to load up the laptop and hit the American Road.

Badly maintained interstate highways and all.

Was gonna take a picture, but just realized the camera is packed.

Everybody have a great Friday. I will be maintaining a constant state of alertness (that's only funny if you know about my tendency to doze if I sit still). I have my books on tape, satellite is a constant source of reliable music that I can play really loud. And, worse comes to worse, I know the places safe enough to stop and take a quick 40 winks. Wal-Mart parking lots are good for this. So is McDonald's.

And, because I'm traveling without pets, I can stop at antique shops!! Just to stretch my legs, ya' know.



Eye candy

I walked through the back yard this morning, taking pictures. I love walking through my garden every morning. Every day, even though it's the same, there's always something different.

That dusty miller in the front of this bed started out of a six pack and it just lasts through everything. I have to cut it back, or I guess it would take over the whole bed. I love junk in my beds, not just flowers. My flamingoes and sun dial and statues and signs.

This corner got some extra care this year. It was a place that didn't work out with what I originally put there; not enough sun and two feet to the left, too much sun. So, I changed it to ferns on the shady side and phlox on the sunny side and so far, it's looking terrific. I put caladiums in the front for some color, but you can't really see them yet. Soon. The mailbox holds clippers and spade and a knife so I don't have to walk all the way across the yard to cut something or dig a hole.

This used to be just vegetables, but that doesnt' work for me. So, there are still tomatoes in there and there will be carrots. But, there are also daylilies and plumbago and dahlia's. And, two of my potted lemon trees, each of which has a lemon baby or two.

Mable was out with me, scouting the ground for scent of anything that's been back there. There was a baby possum living in one of my beds, in some pipes that Mable couldn't get in to. That worried her and I could barely get her to leave it and come inside. but, it must have outgrown the pipes and moved on. We aren't having that problem any more (and I know she didn't catch it). Now, it's squirrel!

My sewing is all packed up. Ready to go in the car. I have not packed one garment. But, I did take time this morning to sort out batiks for 4 Jubilee blocks so I didn't have to take my tubs. I'm not going to have that kind of time to sew and don't know why I even picked for 4. I'll have something to do any time I'm at the hotel. I also packed finger work, just in case I get a chance while we're visiting. My fabrics and my quilting give me comfort, just having them near. But, I have to keep in mind that it's not practical to take too much because I likely won't touch most of it.

After I got my emotions in control yesterday, I was able to deal with all those people I was so annoyed with. I dealt with them with grace and with honesty. Soon as I calmed down and found both my grace and my honesty, things got better.

Everybody have a great day! Tomorrow, it's all books on CD and driving in the fast lane.