Twas the day after Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving went off without a hitch.  The food was good, and the three of us ate like little pigs all day.  We finished off with slices of chess pie that was a new recipe and was so rich, it gave me the sweats.  Not sure that we will finish that one. 

Friday was the start of Cmas decorating.  Rob put out Santas and Syd worked on the tree.  I'd have been hanging ornaments to the swag that hangs in the living room ceiling, but I broke the screen on my phone (did you know they can repair that in store now???  way cool!!), so we went to the mall (yes, on black Friday.  Clearly, we were crazy!) but the mall wasn't busy.  We had a little wait before they could work on my phone and we walked around the mall.  The Apple store was definitely the busiest store in the mall.  And, we just didn't see that many shoppers, which was fine with us, but probably not so good for the retailers.  We planned in advance to walk away if there was a crowd so I was pretty happy to get it done in one try. 

Anyway, Friday was the tree and Saturday was the swag.  And, we worked each day until we were tired.  And, we caught up on a lot of shows we'd recorded but hadn't watched yet.  Yesterday, we rested.  There were some chores, of course.  I'm still putting away good dishes and yesterday, I turned the last of the turkey into a pot pie. 

I spent all the time I could quilting.  Of course.  I was still putting in stability quilting on Thanksgiving.  So, to have gotten this far since really makes it look like all I did was quilt.  But, I didn't just quilt.  I was a good family man, too. 

All those feathers!  But they really didn't take that long.  I was knocking out a block in a little over an hour, as long as I didn't make a mistake I had to correct. 

The beauty of adding this much quilting is that you can't see the mistakes.  There are thousands.  Some were big enough and affected the structure enough that they needed to be fixed before I could proceed.  But, the rest will be saved for the end, when I play a little game called "if you can find it, you can fix it!"  It's the way I handle most of my quilting that isn't going in a show.  Show quilts I'm a little more careful with, but quilts for me, this approach works and it lets me relax while I quilt instead of being all nervous about making mistakes.  I see a mistake and I just keep moving.  Little wobbles in a line, just keep moving.  In the end, most of that stuff doesn't show up when you look at the whole quilt.  It only shows when I'm  focused on a four inch square that's currently between my hands and being moved under the needle. 

I'll show all the decorations at some point, but here's an advance.  This is my favorite Cmas quilt.  My mentor bought it as a kit and made it, then loaned me the patterns and I made it too.  I loved making it and I love hanging it every year.  Raw edge applique with blanket stitching around every piece.  And some piecing to fill in the spaces.   

We were watching my burned copies of Simply Quilts the other day and they showed a Cmas quilt by Piece o' Cake that I might try to find the pattern for.  It looked like a LOT of fun. 

But, no new projects.  I'm just not really in the mood for anything new right now.  I'm having trouble owning my possessions.  My wonderful things are feeling like a burden.  A burden that has become hard to store.  So, I'm trying to clear out spaces by finishing things and giving away things I'm never going to finish or use.  I haven't finished filling that box I'm going to give away.  I need to get back to working on that.  But, there just wasn't time to focus on that this weekend.  I wanted to spend my sewing studio time sewing, not cleaning out.  I can't get much quilting done in the mornings before work on something so complex as that Dresden Plate.  So, maybe I'll spend my time working on some organization. 

Rob and I spent five days together with only one argument.  And, even that one, tho heated, was calm and rational.  I guess we're figuring this whole relationship thing out. 

Sydney tried her best to be sullen and angry.  But, I made it hard for her by being nice.  And, still explaining that showing gratitude will make her a better person.  And, she responded to (most of) that.  We took her out to dinner on Friday night.  With her work schedule, we don't get to eat out together often.  She tried being rude and she tried ignoring us.  But, when we just kept having a nice dinner visit, she finally joined in.  I'm starting to figure out that the best parenting might be ignoring her.

Everybody have a great Monday.  It's going to be a bumpy week.  I'm writing my performance evaluation, and it's one of the best ones I've had in years.  But, I'm worried that my weak manager won't want to recognize how well I've done...because I don't think he's had all that good of a year.

Oh, well.  Some stars still shine in the dark. 



Around and around

It's finally quilt weather!  I'm so excited.  I do love sleeping under a nice snuggly warm quilt.  No amount of fleece can ever make me feel better than that.  We knew it was time to get ready.  Here, the cold weather happens fast and I've been caught outside dragging tender plants around with my coat on.  So, both greenhouses are up and filled to the rafters with plants.  They're still open for the airflow, but can be closed in just a couple minutes.  I'll try to get a pic.  It makes me look like I have a much greener thumb than I really do. 

/And, when I wasn't working in the yard, I was working on this Dresden Plate quilt.  I got the rest of the medallions in.  There were 32 of them, including the 12 that I put in the block centers.  It became very apparent very quickly that the plates aren't round.  I knew that.  The backgrounds had become distorted by washing and ironing, so one plate might be closer to the sashing on one side than the others and at least one center is egg shaped rather than round.  It is what it is. 

I know that I'm going around each plate with a ring of feathers.  Feathers take three lines, so I've drawn in my three.  I'll add more lines for detailing, but these are the basic three lines and everything echoes off them.  The outer of the three is also the stability quilting that will keep the whole thing from shifting as I do the detailed quilting.  After these lines are quilted in, I can wash out the blue ink.  I don't like to leave the ink in too long.  I'm always afraid I'll do something that makes it hard to remove, even though I've used this ink for years in many quilts and have never had a real problem. 

The thing about the plates not being really round is that these circles also aren't really round.  They are custom.  The center of the sashing was as far out as I could go; I want the circles to touch there.  The inner circle outlines the plates along the edge of a line of echo stitching.  In general, there is a 2 1/4 space between and I drew a circle half way between.  But, that distance ranges from 2 to 2 1/4, so adjustments needed to be made.  I took a ruler and made a mark at a measurement that fit the pattern, adjusting as I went so it would LOOK circular.   Then, I joined the marks into a line.  One line at a time.  One after the other after the other after the other.  I thought I'd never finish. 

It doesn't feel like Thanksgiving week.  I bought a turkey and all the stuff to make the stuff that goes with it.  It just doesn't feel like it's time for the holidays yet.  Oh, well.  I just keep singing my version of the Dori song.  Just keep quilting, just keep quilting, just keep quilting.  And, in a few days, it will be just keep cooking, just keep cooking.  And, then it's back to just keep quilting, just keep quilting.

I'm thinking about doing Bonnie's mystery this year.  I love the color combination.  But, the thought of starting a new big project is daunting.  Maybe.  Maybe not.  Maybe I'll save the pattern and make it later.

Everybody have a great Monday.  May your pies have flaky crusts. 



A better face

I declare this one finished...practically.  Still needs a sleeve and a label.  But he has a face. 

There isn't much quilting, just around all the pieces.  That gave the figures dimension, which I like.  I thought about quilting in some small snowflakes, but really, this one says "done".

When I was quilting this one, the Bernina was starting to make a noise.  That's a vintage machine owner's regular occurrence but it has to be addressed.  I tried oiling this thing and that thing without really finding the source. 

Only one solution.  Between quilts, I gave it a good service.  I do this at least once a year, in January, on this machine but I've quilted several quilts this year, so it's not bothersome that it would need it a little early.  I rotate through my other machines, so service them when I pull them out for use.  I try to use each one for a while every year.  (yes, I have a lot of sewing machines)

Lint buildup is a sure sign that it's time for service.  And, once done, we were back to near silent operation again.  It's amazing what a little cleaning and oiling can do.

I changed our dentist yesterday.  Saw the new one for the first time.  We've been seeing a dentist for years and...it just hasn't been working out.  The dentist was find and the staff was too.  But, the practice wasn't a good fit for us.  How the doctor runs their business is really half of the experience after all.  Loved the new guy.  Me and the hygienist hit it off big.  So, now I'm energized about going to the dentist again.  Maybe it won't feel like such a chore. 

Everybody have a great Thursday.  Sydney and I will be continuing to practice being nice to one another.  I kind of had an "episode" on Monday...and yes, I get the irony of shouting at someone that they have to be nice to me...but it seems to have worked.  The next day, she was civil.  And, the next day, she was downright friendly.  So, whatever it took, I'm shutting up and enjoying it.



The project next

First, thanks so much for all the recommendations you sent for blogs.  That was wonderful and the support made me feel a bit more reassured that wonderful people care.  Yesterday was nice and cool and wonderfully pleasant and we had the house open.  I made myself a cup of tea and sat at the dining table and read about people's interesting lives.  It was GREAT!

I spent a good bit of the rest of the weekend on chores, but more about that later.  I always like for my best picture to be on top. 

I got the snowman quilt almost finished.  I have about a foot of binding to sew down by hand and then will dampen it and block it nice and square.  Because it's raw edge applique, I don't want to wash it, but it would be nice if it could dry stretched to shape.  I also started quilting the Dresden Plate.  I was able to quilt around all 12 plates.  Normally, when I start a quilt, I do stabilizing quilting first.  That holds the whole thing together while I quilt the rest of it.  It helps prevent puckering on the back because I can stretch between those lines of stability quilting to hold the whole thing taut while I quilt.  My normal stability quilting is around the blocks, along the sashing but this time, not so much.  I plan to quilt across that sashing as though it wasn't there, so no outlining it.  This time, the stability quilting was in the plates.  Next I'll work on the circles that outline those plates, but first, I needed the cornerstones quilted in.

I drew a "mini" 16 fan Dresden plate to mimic the fabric ones.  I needle punched it through a bunch of pieces of tissue and I pin the tissue to the quilt and quilt through it, using the holes as my lines.  It's an easy way to make copies in tissue.  I plan to use theses shapes in the corners and in the fabric plate centers. 

I'm trying to very carefully plan the steps.  I have a very complex plan for the quilting on this one and instead of quilting a section at a time, I plan to do each step, one at a time across the whole quilt.  That way, if I give up on some of the detail I have planned, I can just walk away without having to complete something because it's already done somewhere else.  Because let's face it, sometimes quilts say "I'm finished" at unexpected times,

One of my chores this weekend was to start filling this box.  This box is going to the "free" table at the next guild meeting I go to.  It came here with a king size batting in it and I decided it needed to go out full, too.  I started with a book and then went through all my regular stash, pulling fabrics I don't want anymore.  And, as I did, I realized that some of those fabrics were large pieces.   Pieces that could be pieced together for quilt backs.  Quilt backs for Linus quilts.  Quilt backs are one of the holdups I run into when I make Linus quilt  And, I found at least 30 yards of quilt backs right there in my stash that I'm not in love with anymore...and really, that's all that's wrong with any of this fabric.  I'm not in love with it anymore. 

I was blessed as a new quilter with several other quilters cleaning out stash.  And, I've benefitted (and so has Project Linus) from those fabrics that they didn't love anymore.  Now, I have a large enough stash to be able to share some of the fabrics I don't love anymore.  As you can see, without those large pieces I held back, I've got a long way to go to fill this box.  Maybe I'll slip a couple of the big ones back in to move me forward a bit.  But, honestly, I filled it this far by going through about a third of my fabric and I also want to go through books and tools, too.  I collected a boatload of tools, ending up with multiples of some and it's time to share them as well. 

Everybody have a great Monday!  For months, my focus has been external.  Now, I think it's time for me to focus more locally, on what I'm really interested in and on what I think I can do something about.  Being a good person.  Being a good team member at work.  And, practicing my art. 

Oh, and lest we forget, that 19 year old girl still requires regular parenting.  We're focused now on expressions of gratitude.  Because I've drawn a line in the sand.  If I have to say please and thank you, then so does she.

I honestly believe this is one of the most important things I will teach her.  She has a real problem with expressing gratitude that she brought with her when she came to us.  It's like she shows weakness when she shows gratitude.  Having her Grandma here for a week observing it and drawing comparisons to all the people she lived with before us really brought it to attention.  If she's going to be more successful than those people, then this is something she needs to understand, even if she can't ever do it consistently.

But, golly it's a big job.  Lane


Harken back to a happier time...

Yesterday, I was deleting emails at work and stumbled up on an email where I forwarded this post from the day we married. 

A year from now, under the new administration, we might not still be able to call ourselves married.  But, we had THIS day and we have THIS license and we have THIS memory.  And, nobody will ever be able to take that away. 

THIS love trumps all hate. 

We will hunker down and wait for happier times.  Times when people care about one another again, because eventually, love and compassion always win.

Now that the election is over, I'm looking for something to replace the news I was obsessing over (yes, I do plan to stick my head in the sand and pretend it's not happening, alright?  so don't mess with that or you might get bit).  I'm looking for blogs.  If you write a blog and you're not sure if I follow it, please let me know what it is.  And, if you have a favorite blog, let me know what that is, too.  Short of a recommendation, I'm searching out blogs that have less than a thousand followers and where they're not trying to "sell" me something.  I want to read what real people have to say about their real lives.  And, while I'm most interested in quilting blogs, I'm also interested in reading about people that can find the funny side of life and tell about it.  Uplifting and encouraging people who have a story to tell.

In the meantime, I got all the edge stitching finished (for the second time) on the little snowman quilt. 

When I did it the first time, I apparently threaded the machine with new colors of thread but forgot to lift the presser foot and engage the tension around that thread, so I had bumps all along the back and when I pulled the paper that I had used as a backing, those turned into little loops that had to be picked out, then another paper back pinned on and then stitched again.  Total PITA, but so worth it.  This weekend, I plan to pin baste this quilt and the vintage Dresden Plate I finished not long ago. 

And, then I plan to sit for a long spell of very relaxing quilting. 

God knows I deserve it.

Everybody have a great Friday and a great weekend.  And, please share blog names!  Lane


Well that's not like me. Not like me at all...

While Rob's Mom has been here, I've had down time to sew.  One of my favorite things about her visits is that we do things, but then there's time to rest.  And, for me, resting is sewing. 

I worked on Thursday and half a day Friday, but Rob and his Mom took it easy so she could relax after her trip.  Saturday, we went shopping.  We went places either she doesn't have access to, or her other kids don't take her.  We have a box started of things she picked up...food mostly.  Little things that she can make, but can't pick up in her local grocery store.  She's a very adventurous eater.  Then yesterday, we went to our friend LD's and took lunch for everybody.  Today, I'm not sure what we will do.  And, if they're not up to doing anything, I'll sew!  I'm easily entertained.

I had a project that I put together about 5 years ago.  I picked up all the fabric and the pattern.  The design was ready.  All I had to do was take the rotary cutter to it.  I thought it was going to be very complicated.  But, it really wasn't.  I had it cut and the rows assembled in an afternoon.  Then, it took a couple hours to put the rows together and then another couple to add the borders. 

It's very modern for me.  Just three colors, black, white and one shade of green. 

The pattern is Josephine's Knot.  Except I decided I didn't want the lap size or the twin, so I decided I'd make the twin, but 75% the size.  And, somehow, I got really close, but the quilt looks "stretched.  It came out about 8" longer and 4" narrower than I expected and I don't know if that's my inability to do math or what.  But, I love it.  It came out exactly like I thought it would when I picked the fabrics. 

I also got this little quilt together. 

Considering the mish-mash I was working with, I'm astounded at how well it came out.  It will make someone a very cute baby quilt...and it will hide all little baby errors.

If we all pretend together, we can imagine that I was making a Kaffe Fassett quilt.  Only we will know the truth.

Sydney looked wonderful in her new shirt.  She wore it yesterday.  Fits perfect.  And, she likes it and that's the most important part. 

How's that for a candid shot.  Toss that hair!

Everybody have a great Monday!  We will see what I will get up to.  First, I need to get some Butter Chicken in the crock pot.