Post-Thanksgiving post

Well, that's one holiday down.  Two more to go, in rapid succession.  We even started Christmas shopping over the weekend, so there's no getting out of it now. 

Swag-day is over for another year.  And, I survived it.  I should have a t-shirt made every year.  I don't know why we never tried to make hanging the swag easier in all those years I hung it before last year.  Before that, it was all "on the ladder" time.  And, by the time it was over, my legs and knees and hips ached and all I could do was sit.  Last year, we got the bright idea to tie long cords to it and tie those to the sofa, hanging it a few feet from the floor and I decorated it.  When I was done, we hoisted it to the ceiling.  And, it worked great.  When the holiday was over, we tied the cords to it again and lowered it and un-decorated it. 

This year, we hung it from the ceiling using cords half as long.  That kept us from putting that kind of weight on a part of the sofa that was not intended to hold it in an upward direction. 

I spent a couple hours wiring red ornaments to it.  You can't just hang them on it.  They have to be wired on so they don't come down and konk somebody in the head.  One year, a red ball came off the garland, hit a ceiling fan blade and went flying across the living room like a softball.  Fortunately, it was some kind of metal and dented rather than break.  I saw that one just the other day when I was doing all this and remembered how that happened. 

When all the ornaments are wired to it, it gets pulled up to the ceiling.  It's only difficult around the fan.  But, because they're all wired to the garland, only a couple dropped and nothing broken. 

And, before you know it, it's all done.  I'll try to get a pic with the lights on.  That's when it really sings. 

And, then I found six boxes of red ornaments that didn't get hung on it. 

Yay for lucky timing!

So, that is it for me today.  I made a bunch of 6" hst blocks and I'm down to one short border on the Christmas quilt, but those will have to wait for another day's post. 

Sydney has had a Christmas tree in her room since she came to live with us.  One she can decorate the way she wants.  Peacocks, y'all.  Dark blue, purple, gold.  It's beautiful.  She's a very creative young woman.  I can't wait to see what she can do with that as part of her career. 

And, no matter how much she don't want to admit it, I've been part of her getting to express that creativity.  I wasn't so good at encouraging it early on.  I thought she should conform.  Don't know why.  I don't conform.  But, I thought she should.  And, then I let that go.  We had bigger fish to fry.  And, now her creativity has matured.  And, like me, she's likely to try something and then if it doesn't work, re-do it.  And, she got part of Rob's planfulness that I don't have, so she doesn't make as many mistakes as I do.  Or maybe she's too smart to tell anybody.

Everybody have a great Monday!  It's off to work I go.  Thankfully, almost everybody has been off work, so there won't be much catching up to do. 



It's tradition

The holiday traditions have begun.  And, as much as I complain about them, I do enjoy them...I must, or I really wouldn't go to all the trouble.  We saw a TV show last night where the family cook decided to take the holiday off and then found out she missed it (and didn't enjoy any of the other family traditions that happened outside the kitchen).  I'm sure I'd be the exact same way.

We had the annual feast, and after dishes were done, the annual nap of gratitude.  It's tradition. 

Of course, being who I am, we have to eat every bite of it...and we have.  I think there is a little bit of turkey left and some carrots.  I've learned to make a manageable amount so we don't get too tired of it and don't have to throw it away.  Last night, we had blackened fish, oven fries and a salad because that's about as far from Turkey and stuffing as I could get.  It worked out great!

Most of Friday, I took the day off.  Sydney gave me a really hard time because she and Rob were working and I wasn't doing anything...well, I was quilting, but she can't say that's anything or it might come across as a compliment or something, and she can't be seen doing anything like that, you know.  After all, she's 20.  Just kidding.  It was all in fun...she knows how hard I worked on Thursday and she only had to help do what she wanted to help do.  Anyway, they started the holiday decorating.  It's tradition.  They start on Friday and I rest and put away the good dishes.  It's tradition.  But, on Saturday, I'm up with them.  Saturday is swag day.  We hang a garland across the vaulted living room ceiling.  It's decorated with red ornaments and white lights.  It's beautiful.  It's a tremendous amount of work.  I used to stand on the ladder the whole time, but we've come up with a better idea...more about that later. 

I woke up this morning and started...swag-day, swag-day, swag-day...it's the worst day of the year.  And, Rob asked if taking-down-the-swag-day wasn't worse...and I said, taking-down-the-swag-day is the second worst day of the year.  And, we laughed.  Because I can't just enjoy anything.  I have to pretend to gripe about it.  I guess that's tradition, too. 

I'll do better pics when we're done, but for now, There are Santas on the mantle...it's tradition. 

Something happened in the village last night.  A massacre.  Or a cat.

Retroville at night.  Before 9:30 because a town like Retroville would have shut down after that. 

This is a new vignette.  The only thing that changed is the trailer.  Rob has the same trailer, without the tree on top.  With the other trailer, this stays up all year. 

Thursday evening, after all the dishes were done and Turkey sandwiches for dinner (it's tradition), I finished the little quilt needlepoint.  Now, I want to make this as a real quilt...loving the pattern.  I'm so glad I re-did it. 

Everybody have a great Saturday.  I have a little while to quilt, and then I need to get on that swag.  Because it's tradition.  Swag day, swag day...the worst day of the year.

Be well!  Lane



This weekend's project was triangles.  I had a half dozen baggies...and a drawer full.  It filled a very large basket.  And, on Saturday, while Rob built a set of shelves for the garage, I sorted and stacked triangles so I can use them. 

That was a lot of triangles.  And, that's not all.  I had apparently started sewing them together for something and I had a ton of them already pieced into squares.  I'm ironing them open and then will trim them to size and they'll be ready to use.  And, I have all the ones above, sorted and ready to use. 

That tin that isn't very orderly is actually the half square triangles left over from the Texas Braid quilt. 

This quilt is bricks, sewn into strips, and when I sewed them together, I cut the triangles off.  I ended up with a ton of them. 

And, they're already joined into strips.

So, I pin them together and then sew and press them open.  And, I trim them all from one direction.

And, then I trim them from the other.  That keeps me from having to reorient everything to change directions.  And, I end up with a little pile of half triangle squares.  There were 66 in this set and they took just over an hour.  Any that aren't good, like not enough contrast, or a sewing error go straight to the trash because these are the scraps of the scraps and it's not worth taking them apart to save one triangle. 

And, those turn into blocks.

The plan is to make multiple 6" blocks in different sizes of half triangle squares and then turn them into a quilt.  And, I'm going to do as much as I can as leaders and enders.  It will be a fun, long term project.  I've been working on my current l/e project for a while and there are a bunch of blocks made and I think it's ready to move to the next stage...except I don't know what the next stage is.   It's good to have a couple of l/e projects to alternate between. 

Okay, so that's it for me.  For some reason, Sydney and I are getting along really well.  Not sure what's going on.  Not looking that gift horse in the mouth.  Peace is peace and it's very peaceful around here.  And, there's laughing.  I love the laughing.  Everybody have a great day!  Lane


New and old; keeping, orgainizing, and letting go.

😕😕I'm feeling like Dory.  Just keep quilting, just keep quilting...
I'm still quilting the Christmas quilt.  I had to pull the quilt out of the machine and lay it on the floor to decide if I was okay with the scale of the quilting.  It's a little on the small size, but it didn't end up being distracting.  It's supposed to represent wind.  But, it's really more of a pointy meander.  It's a good fill, tho.  But it might be a bit strange around the flames in the candle block.

I couldn't help quilting Santa's beard tighter, tho. 

I wasn't sure whether I wanted that tightness in the hat, but I'm leaning more and more toward it.  Can you see the twinkle in Santa's right eye (left eye in the pic).  I'm going to do that in the ornament block, too, to give them a sparkle.  I tried that with invisible thread, thinking it would be shiny and perfect.  But, it wasn't.  I'm not quite sure I know why I don't like it, but I'll be picking it out.  The center got too shiny, I think.  Hopefully cotton thread will be better.

I've also been re-making more of the little vintage blocks from this post

I'm up to 42 and have six more ready to go.  Then, I'll have to pick some more apart.  These are fun for me.  Very little thought.  Great chance to work on my leaders and enders as I work on 6 of these at a time, but I have to remember that the seam allowances are different.  My l/e project is quarter inch seams and this project is 1/8" seam.  Other than that, it's a good little "no-thinking" project.  And, I'm really enjoying the opportunity to study the fabrics in the centers.  More and more, I'm leaning toward 50's fabrics.  The prints are bright, but more refined than 30's prints and they're not big prints like 60's fabrics.  And, they're not the olive/tangerine/goldenrod of the 70's.  And, there's no polyester in the bunch so far, and with this much fabric variety, I'd expect to run into at least one poly if they were made in the 80's.  The quilter didn't really care what she put together as long as there were two lights and two darks. 

All I can tell about the Whitman's Sampler box they came in is that it was printed before you needed a zip code to get your mail delivered.  I can remember when I was younger and they were really pushing people to use zip codes, but I don't know when they started being used.

Today is going to be one of those days at work.  I'm going to have to talk to an angry person.  Fortunately, I didn't do anything to make them angry.  But, they kind of blame me anyway.  I sent them a set of instructions because they needed to prove they were doing something right.  They did not follow even one of those instructions.  And, they created a situation where they were doing it right, messed it up, and now they have to start over and do it all again.  Weeks of work. 

I have empathy for them.  I'd hate to have to re-do weeks of work.  (Okay, I should have said I hate it when I have to re-do weeks of work.)  But, 50 other people got these same instructions and nobody else made the situation worse, so I'm pretty sure I'm not actually to blame.  But, it's my job to calm them down and find a way to make it right.  That means working together.  So, all my soothing skills will be required.  Except I'm not all that soothing.

Everybody have a great Friday.  This weekend's project is to sort about a thousand bonus half square triangles by size and dark/light.  I've seen a project made from just HST's of different sizes and have an idea that I'd like to make one as a leader/ender project.  But first, I need to create some order among them.  It's the next stage of cleaning out the garage. 

Many years ago, I ran with a crowd and we threw great parties.  I still have most of the stuff from those days.  We don't run with a crowd and we haven't thrown a party since I turned 40.  It's time to let that stuff go.  This weekend, I hope to let go of the inexpensive glassware and flatware I used.  But, it's hard to let go of something I've had since the late 80's.  Something I've pulled down and washed, dried and put back away twice a year since I moved into this house...without using a bit of it.

I just keep telling myself, imagine how much fabric I can store in that space.  Except I'm not really interested in that either.  But, I am looking forward to maybe a little less crowding in my kitchen cabinets.  It would be nice to be able to use something without having to move 8 other things to get to it. 



Scraptastic weekend!

My goal this weekend was to empty a tub of scraps.  The tub was large.  It was 3/4 full.  It was in the way.  It had to go.  I showed it to Rob and tried to explain exactly what I was talking about doing and how big of a project it was.  But, at dinner, he was careful to explain to Syd that he cleared a whole set of shelves.  And,  I emptied one tub. 

Course, he was picking on me. 

This was a chore that had waited too long.  My scraps got completely out of control, so much so that I couldn't have used them if I'd wanted to.  And, I wanted to.  That's where some of the nicest Linus quilts come from.  At heart, I am a scrappy quilter like my fore-quilters. 

My scraps used to be sorted by size in a Bonnie Hunter scrap users type system.  And, it worked great.  And, it got out of control.  And, I quilted all the strips into race quilts.  So, that took care of that.  Scraps that hadn't been trimmed to a specific size were sorted by color.  I have 10 drawers in those rolling plastic cabinet things that are cheap and easy to use and that people have given me.  Red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, brown, neutral, black, multi-colored.  But, that's not how they started.  First, I had to straighten that out, which meant emptying three drawers that I'd just been cramming stuff in willy-nilly and sorting that out, then getting the drawers started, then I could tackle the bin. 

And, 7 hours in, I was done with the bin and ironing all the squares I found. 

Yikes!  Starting at 1.5" and increasing by quarter inches.  Guess I'll be using patterns that call for squares for a while. 

I also ironed and folded the red and pink scraps.

And, the neutrals.  White and beige. 

A lot of my scraps are from garment sewing, so as I ironed, I cut off all those weird shapes that couldn't be used for much of anything but really made it hard to fold and make pretty stacks.  I figured I could iron other colors as I need to use them.  At least I hope I will.  Both iron them and use them.  There really is some beautiful fabric in those bins.  And, now I can get it out and make it into something. 

Self delusion is the best delusion of all. 
I'm also quilting the Christmas quilt I've been working on .  I can't decide if I'm making a mistake and need to take it out and start again.  So, progress might be being made.  Or, it might not.  But at any rate, I finished all the ditch work.  It was going so slow as I tried very hard to keep my thread in the ditch and out of the piecing.  But, someone mentioned doing ditch work with invisible thread last week and I decided to give it a go and that really sped things up.  Then, I started the background quilting and I think I might have gotten the scale wrong.  My quilting might be too small for my piecing.  So, I'm looking at it and seeing if I can get used to it.  Because, if not, I'm 20% done and it will take a heck of a lot longer to take it out than it did to put it in. 

Everybody have a great Monday.  It's the start of a new week!  And, anything could happen.  Lane


Friday update

It's a rare week when I don't have anything to show on a Friday.  But, all I've worked on are those little blocks and some ditch work on the Christmas quilt.  And, a whole lot of work at the office.  We are VERY busy right now.  That's good because the days pass fast, which is good because the days are getting short.  I'm always surprised when that happens, even though it happens every year. 

So, how about some garden pics.  If it's too cold where you are for flowers, then I hope you'll enjoy these. 

Camelia.  It's early for my Camelia.  It blooms at Christmas.  But, it has a few early flowers already.  My grandmother had two in her front yard, one on either side of the path to her front steps.  They bloomed red and I remember walking between them on the way to her house on Christmas day to have the holiday with the whole extended family.  Happy memories.

This is called Shrimp plant.  It's sectioned and has a slight curve and kind of looks like a shrimp.  It comes in many colors, but I picked one in a shrimp color.  That passed for creative thought 12 years ago when I bought the starter for this.  

This is a pine tree.  I grew up in a pine forest in northeast Louisiana and have fond memories of pine trees.  When I'm driving to my family's home, I cross a line and can smell the pine in the air and it's very relaxing.  There's a pine forest east of Austin and I enjoy driving there, too.  But, we don't get as much rain, so the trees are smaller.  At my house, a pine tree should not grow.  But, I found small ones in a garden center one time for really cheap, so I bought one, thinking it wouldn't live long.  I put it in a pot and dug a hole and put the pot into the hole.  And, I'd turn it once a month or so to keep any roots from growing into the ground.  It outgrew the pot.  So, I bought a bigger pot and added the mums around it, and as long as it lasts, I'll enjoy having a pine tree...in a pot.  Don't know why I enjoy growing trees in pots so much.  It's like big bonsai or something.  Something about me controlling the mighty tree.  Let's not read too much into that. 

Mr. Lincoln rose.  Another thing that should not grow where it is growing.  Not enough sun.  So, it's not a perfect specimen plant, but it does make many beautiful blooms through the year. 

This is a mix of shrimp plant and plumbago.  Now that it has cooled, these will bloom til frost.  And, then they die back into an ugly heap and have to be cleared out right away.  There's a lot of other stuff in that photo.  I have a very full garden.

This is Esperanza.  It's a popular plant in Texas.  It's very drought tolerant and a reliable perennial.  I plucked a seed from a plant in the neighborhood and grew this one.  You can barely see my path in the background.  My flowerbed is about 10 feet deep, so I have a path that runs down the center so I can get to plants in the back.  I walk down that path almost every day and have been collecting those stones for years.  This year, I have a nice pile to add to the path and have started filling it in so that it's an actual path instead of the stepping stones.  It's always been my dream.  And, now that I'm seeing a couple places where it is started, I'm less enchanted with it than I thought I'd be.  Stepping stones through the garden is one thing.  But, a stone path is a feature that stands out and a distraction from the garden.  So, I'm thinking on that.  I may stick with the stepping stones and build a small retaining wall to add another terrace.  Remember, I garden on the side of a hill, and have built one terrace at the top of the hill.  I might like having a couple more along the slope. 

Wow, turned out I had more to say than I thought.  I spend a lot of time in my garden.  I walk there every day that weather permits.  One of my chores this year is dividing and replanting the daylilies and iris.  I take the opportunity to spread things out and move plants that aren't working in their spots.  I'm up to the very back corner at the top of the hill.  It's the shadiest spot in the yard.  And, it hasn't been worked in several years.  It's just been there, green and multiplying.  Now, it's time to divide and add and subtract. 
Everybody have a great weekend.  It's going to be a cold one everywhere.  I think we are working in the garage.  We are letting things go.  Things we don't need anymore to make us happy.  I remember when my Mom did this the first time.  And, I didn't understand.  I was still in my collecting phase.  Now, I understand that as I've gotten older, I don't need the same things that I needed before to make me feel safe and secure.  And, I'm letting them go to people that might still need them.  
Be well.  Lane


One of life's boxes of chocolates

When I pulled that mystery UFO out of the box last week, I was looking for a project.  Mary asked how many UFOs I have and I realized, I didn't know.  I'd guess four or five Linus projects and looks like maybe 22 others, in various states of finish.  And, then there are four or five "re-makes" of vintage quilt tops.  The challenge around here is NOT to start something new.  And, when I want a UFO, I just reach in the closet and grab something that fits my current mood and I work on it til my mood changes.  That's my method.  My mentor can work on one project at a time and start it, focus totally on it until it is finished.  That's not a skill I developed.  I have a piecing machine and a quilting machine set up all the time and can have a treadle or a featherweight out in a jiffy.  And, I can have a different project on each, running concurrently.  While I'm not ashamed of being that way, it does sometimes mean I forget where a project is headed, which can be a really good thing because UFOs get created when I lose interest in where a project is headed. 

But, back to the box of chocolates.  We go to a quilt show in New Braunfels TX and always tour the antique stores when we're there.  A few years ago, I stumbled up on this box with quilt pieces in it.  I think she wanted $25 for it, but when I offered her $10, she took it.  You'll see why.

When I lifted the lid, I saw these. 

And, inside the lid, there was the running total as the quilter made blocks.  108 was the final total, written very large.  But, there are other erased numbers, so I think this box must have held pieces for more than one quilt. 

And, I got them home, and was so excited that I bought a very cute vintage reprint in a light green to go with these as alternating blocks.  Are you excited with me, yet?

The pattern pieces that she traced were in the box, along with pieces of some other quilt patterns.  Or, maybe they were pieces that would have eventually been added to these blocks.  But, they're traced on heavy paper and the edges are ruffled from being used and traced around. 

Then, the whole thing got put in a plastic box and put away with other UFOs.  When I pulled the blue UFO out last week, I found the chocolate box under it.  And, as I pieced and thought and quilted, I thought about these blocks.  I pulled the blocks out of the box. 

No two blocks are the same size.  The watermelon colored strips were torn from their fabric instead of cut and have a raveled edge all the way around and are a variety of widths.  Some of that fabric had been washed and is a lighter color.  Points were accidental because the yellow triangles are too small for the four patch blocks and those triangles were cut from every direction, without regard for bias.  Everything is pieced with a 1/8" seam allowance. 

Oooooh, goody!  I love a good challenge.  So, I grabbed my good seam ripper and went after it.  It took a couple tries to figure out the right size.  They started at around 4 1/2".  After I get finished with them, they're 3 7/8".  I'm having to use the 1/8" seam allowance to put them back together.  That's a new challenge, remembering to do it more than sewing it, tho.  It was easier to get used to than I expected. 

And, when they come out of the other end of the sweatshop, they look like this. 

I need to write everything down with the measurements because I'm not sure whether I'll finish this in one go, or get bored with it again and set it aside.  The one good thing is that the tension on the original quilter's machine was off, and pulling it out is a breeze.  I trim the four patch and then add the yellow triangles and trim again, all in sizes that are based on eighths instead of quarters or halves.  Finally, I add two watermelon strips and trim and then two more and trim.  And, repeat, a half dozen blocks at a time so I can use them as my leaders and enders. 
The mystery of my replies is solved.  Not everyone has an email linked to their google account.  Many are listed as noreply@blogger.  So, I will be trying to answer more questions here, on the blog. 
Everybody have a great Monday.  It's another workweek and my email preview makes it look like its going to be a busy week ahead.  Yay...


Third time is the charm

This quilt changed my mind about mysteries.  Mysteries are not for people that can't follow instructions, and if I've proven nothing else, it's that I cannot follow instructions. 

This is the second mystery I walked away from and took in my own direction.  The first was a Bonnie Hunter mystery that I made all the blocks for, but at the big reveal, decided to turn them into two smaller quilts.  This second quilt was not working for me early on.  It's not my color way.  I use a warmer color palette.  After this quilt, I decided I'd only make mysteries in my own color way, using my own favorite fabrics, even if they don't match the recommended colors suggested by the pattern designer.  I've seen some beautiful quilts made with a Bonnie Hunter mystery pattern where the maker went in their own color direction, and I'm a fan of doing that.  Making the mystery pattern, but making it my own quilt instead of trying to make an exact duplicate of someone else's quilt. 

This mystery was designed by my local quilt shop.  The first thing that happened was they charged me a fee to sign up for the mystery, then there was a charge for each month's pattern and fabric.  I know that's become standard, as a way to get people to commit.  But, if you want me to commit, you need to keep me interested with a good pattern and a good color palette and some intrigue because I'll walk away from a little money, if I'm not having fun.  And, that's exactly what I did with this quilt.  I wasn't having fun, so I stopped going in for the next month's fabric and pattern. 

The second thing that happened was pattern related.  The designer was releasing the pattern without having it tested.  After the first couple of months, I skipped a month and it became my practice to go in each month and get last month's corrections and the upcoming month's pattern and fabric, then make last month's sections.

And, then, they gave me this fabric.

And, I was done.  I put the seam ripper in there so you can see the scale.  Huge flowers.  And, this was going to be a dominant fabric in the quilt.  That was the end of my first go at this quilt.  But, I kept thinking about all the pieces I had cut and all the sections I had pieced, and I started looking at patterns that would use those. 

I stumbled on Bonnie Hunter's Cathedral Stars pattern and gave this quilt a second go.  It was on her free page, and likely still is.  It used the star points from the tri recs ruler and I had a whole bunch of those...in two colors, a lime green that didn't match anything else in the quilt and a dark blue.  I made fewer blocks than Bonnie did, and the blocks may be a different size, but I still think it worked out well and it came out at 64.5" square.  I made the blocks and put them together into rows, but it still wasn't working for me.  I kept running out of fabric and having to substitute new fabrics in.  But, it wasn't enough to be scrappy and it was too much to have them here and there, so I put it away again.  This is it, after ironing, but before I started making new things.   

I took a few blocks apart and moved some fabrics around so that the new fabrics have a somewhat ordered and consistent position, like it was more planned than it actually was.  Instead of using plain fabric for the setting triangles, I pieced triangles, using extra pieces I had cut and were stored with the UFO.  I guess at one point, I was thinking of going bigger maybe?  But, this is big enough.  And that floral fabric made a great narrow border.  Cut small enough, it's just blobs of color. 

So, after three goes, this top is finished and ready to quilt.  Except I don't have a batting that large and will need to figure out a way to piece a back out of the leftover fabrics.  I even think I know who it's going to go to.  And, I might even be able to finish it by the holidays.  We'll have to see about that part.  Because right now, there's a Christmas quilt in the Bernina, getting it's ditch work. 

You all probably think I'm a terrible snob.  In talking to Michelle, who won the giveaway this week, it turns out that when I reply to your comments, you may not be receiving my replies.  I don't quite know why yet or what I need to do about that, but I've sent you some great and funny replies.  You'll just have to take my word on that.  And, if I figure this out, a couple of you are going to get a bunch of emails from me as I play catch up and answer questions you asked.  I'm going to blame it on Google.  Because why would I expect anything from Google to actually work the way it would appear to work.  There's got to be some secret step that they don't tell you about.  And, they're probably limiting my replies to your google account, and not the account you really receive email at.


Everybody have a great weekend.  I'm going to spend a few minutes trying to clean up the studio after piecing that top and then get on with my day.