Linus projects

Something got me in the mood to work on Linus quilts this weekend.  It's definitely time.  I usually donate a bag full every year, but this year, I don't have any quilts ready to go. 

Linus isn't just about altruism for me, although that part is very important to me.  Linus quilts are also great for practicing skills.  Like that swirly wind pattern I want to use on the leaf quilt.  So, I pulled one out that I knew would be a great quilt top for that quilting design and basted it up and got to work.  It only took about 5 hours to quilt the whole thing, including a few fits and starts at the beginning.  It's 54" square.  I'm sewing down the binding now.  This is all made from scraps that are 2.5" wide.  It's a very easy pattern from the book Twosey-foursey Quilts by Cathy Wierzbicki.  Great book and this is my fave pattern and makes a great donation quilt because it's so simple.  It's called barbed wire, but when you quilt a wind pattern behind it, it looks like whirly-jigs. 

This is what the quilting looks like.  I'm very happy with my progress.  I've figured out a couple of small things that I did for years that made the wind pattern I was using look less like wind.  I wasn't curling the lines around far enough and my echo lines were too far away from the original.  That's really all I changed, but it has made a huge difference in how this filler pattern comes out. 

And, lest you think all my Linus quilts come out that good, they don't. 

This is the three bears quilt top. 

The first time I made it, I made six short columns, which would have made them run horizontally up the quilt.  But, the fabrics are mostly directional, so that looked stupid.  So, I took two off, and cut them in half and took off one side of a border, added the extra length and laid it in the floor, and it was tooo long...and it looked stupid.  So, I cut 8 inches off the end of the whole thing and added the border back.  And, now it's just right.  It gets one more border of a batik that's a riot of other colors, but mostly purple and really ties it all together nicely.  I hope to get that on and have this one ready to quilt next weekend.  I'm going to quilt one thing in the columns and something else in the borders.  How's that for a plan. 

Friday evening, while we watched TV, I cut hexies off my flower project and sewed up the seams that came apart because I'd cut a knot off them.  And, then I added most of those hexies back, in different places.  And, I got that lack of symmetry that I was going for.  Now, this one is ready to move forward.

But, I'm in no rush because I'm still practicing feathers.  The ferns that I want to quilt in the background around this are based on feathers; along a spine, but with a different shape, and I want to feel comfortable with the feathers before I try to tackle the ferns. 

I am burning through some leftover pink thread, I'll tell you. 

Rob doesn't need new knees!  You all cannot know how relieved we are to get that news.  He's had trouble with his knees for a few years and it's gotten worse and worse until his doctor finally took notice and took some x-rays.  Turns out his knees are fine, it's his tendons that need work, so he's added better arch support to all his shoes and is doing some stretching exercises and already feeling better.  Maybe too much better.  I'm just a little worried he's going to want me to keep up with him.

Here's a little something to brighten your day.  No matter how gloomy it is where you are, spring is coming.  I promise.

This is the first Iris of the year and unfortunately, the rain got to it before I got a pic, but there are about to be more of them.  This Iris came from a neighbor.  She was a gardener like me and, like me, her garden always looks overgrown and full and lush so we had that in common.  She lost her battle with breast cancer a few years ago and one day, I was walking past her house and one rhizome had been kicked out of the dirt and was laying on the sidewalk.  And, I stole it.  And, now I have a white Iris that blooms very early in spring and will always remind me of Kate.

Everybody have a great Monday!  Lane


A Hexie too far

Are you the kind of quilting overachiever that sometimes looks at your work and says...well that's not right...
I am.  And, I say it all smarmy, too.  With my lips curled up and looking down my nose like Mary Astor stepping in dog poo.  Kind of offended...how day my work not come out perfect!  Bad work.

I almost didn't show you this because some of you are going to think I'm complaining about nothing.  It's been together for a week, while I tried to figure out what exactly went wrong.  And, yes, it's pretty.  But, as usual, I got too symmetrical.  I started adding hexies, thinking I could make it better and better.  And, it got a symmetrical flat line along the bottom and there are hexies in strange places, poking out, all around.  It's time for a very pointy pair of snips to remove about 10 of those green ones.

This is another example why you shouldn't quilt and do drugs.  This is the hand project I worked on last Friday after the oral surgery.  I worked on it til my hands ached, sitting in a dining room chair, all day, sewing, while Rob recuperated in the bedroom.  Happy as a clam.  High as a kite.  Adding green hexies with abandon. 

The flower arrangement I'm going for is not symmetrical.  The right lack of symmetry will give it a tension that will draw viewers in.  Like a twang on a guitar string. 

Here is where I started, before I began making more green hexies.  Sorry it's so dark.  I laid it out on the dining table, on a dark table cloth.  But, you get the picture.  That lack of symmetry has its own energy.  This needed maybe 5 hexies...or maybe none. 

So, I'm going back to something closer to this.  The whole thing is going to get mounted on a white background, then it will get a batik border...one of those multi-colored batiks that I loved until I found out they were very hard to work with because they don't know what color to be.  And, then another white border.  And, then I'm going to quilt the crap out of it, filling the background with fern fronds...like a feather, but with a leaf shape coming off the stem.  I'm hoping it will look like these are growing in a bed of invisible ferns. 

Or, it will make a very nice dog blanket.

Have a great Friday.  I'm leading a very big, very long meeting today.  A lot of it is going to be other people agreeing with or challenging my recommendations (as many of the 235 recommendations as we can discuss in three hours, anyway).  Patience.  Patience.  I'm gonna need a lot of patience. 

Please send patience. 


Because, believe it or not, I'm not always right.

But, damn it's hard to hear it from somebody else.



Some weeks are like that

Remember that we weren't feeling well last Monday?  Well, it went downhill from there.  Rob had the flu, and it must have been one of the ones I was vaccinated against because I didn't get it.  Sydney didn't get it.  Rob was very sick.  I took care of him and quilted. 

I finished the baby quilt. 

It turned out perfect.  I did the hooked feathers from the Sally Terry class in the border. 

And one of the swirls in Wendy's book in the center.  You can hardly see it because of all that lovely cotton crinkling that we all love in an antique quilt. 

Anyway, the pattern was pretty simple.  I'd do some things different if I did it again and maybe re-draft the second border.  I made notes on the pattern about things I wish had worked differently.  But, for a baby quilt, it's dang near perfect.  Baby's are so non-critical about things that keep them warm. 

I also had plenty of sitting around time to pick out the rest of the stitching in the autumn leaf quilt.  I got it broken into it's individual pieces and and ironed and then repaired some holes.  There were a few small holes from picking out thread, I think.  I don't remember doing that this year, but remember, I've been picking out stitches on this one for years.  And, there was the big hole...the quilt was in the machine with the needle down and I rolled over it with my chair, pulling the edge and tearing a one inch hole around the needle.  I'd forgotten that until I came across it picking out stitches.  I cut the holes out of the back.  They were conveniently located in a five inch strip of the backing fabric.  So, I took the back apart, cut that section out, and put it back together a little larger so I could accommodate a wider border.  I have plenty of that backing in my stash (from at least 10 years ago).  Here are the pieces.  The leafy fabric on top is the border.  It came in the mail the other day.  When I saw it on ebay, I knew it was right.  It's been laundered and just needs to be ironed and cut. 

I had to make a patch for the hole in the front, but that was easy enough.  I had a little piece of fabric and I folded over some edges and opened some seams and sewed it in and you can find it...if you're looking. 

I had some oral surgery on Friday.  My doctor is worried about frightening people, so he's not big on giving details in advance.  Even when I was sitting in the chair and asked what we were going to be doing, he gave the vaguest of answers and cracked a joke.  So, it was a surprise when he finished and I found out I was on a liquid diet for a couple days and then soft and bland for the rest of a week.  If I'd known, we would have had steak for supper on Thursday night.  Anyway, that first egg yesterday was a wonderful thing.  For this week, I made pasta and rice dishes.  So many soft foods are pasta and dairy.  And, I have mild allergies to flour and dairy.  Yay, me!  Anyway, I was on pretty good pain meds on Friday and had promised myself not to try to machine quilt (although, a little codeine might do wonders for my creativity) and I had to promise Rob I wouldn't use a rotary cutter.  So, I hand sewed.  When I got in bed that night and the codeine was wearing off, I remarked on how I had sewn until my hands ached.  Just a warning.  Don't quilt and do drugs!  You can hurt yourself. 

Anyway, Rob was better on Friday and able to take care of me and he was even better on Saturday.  And, yesterday, he was up to walking his dog.  I spent some time sitting at the machine and practicing more new things from Wendy's book. 

Still working on those feathers.  Goal, irregular feathers.  It's harder than you think.

Everybody have a great Monday.  I've been off two days.  I checked my email yesterday.  It was horrific.  Maybe I'll need one of those pain pills when I get to the office.  Make the day a little...softer around the edges. 

Hey, I promised not to quilt on drugs.  Work is a whole nother thing. 



Sit back and rest

This was a weekend to rest.  Friday was kind of frantic as I tried to catch up on things and...okay, maybe I should be a little ashamed, but there was this research project and the first person to submit was going to set the standards for the rest of the responses.  And, I wanted to be "it", so I turned a million and a half rows of data into a chart the size of the notecard and might have been just the least bit manic as I did it.  So, I expected to jump out of bed on Saturday at a run and get a ton of stuff done. 

But my  body had another idea.

I did get up and make three samples out of quarter yards of fabric.  I went to my box of fabrics I'm not going to quilt with and pulled my batting scraps and I cut quarters and seamed batting and cut it all down to fat quarter size and then pin basted three of them together.  Just that fast.  And, then I sat down and started quilting the first one, following the lessons in Wendy Sheppard's Stitching Pathways book.  She has the best teaching method.  She starts a line drawing and then adds a few inches of quilting, then adds a few more inches, then a page that incorporates that and goes out even further.  What I did was follow her line drawing out as far as she went, and then take that even further to fill a shape. 

I wasn't completely happy with the swirl in the upper left corner, so I devoted a whole practice piece to that one.  I use that a LOT, so I wanted to really focus on it. 

And, then I kept going.  I divided one quarter yard into quarters and then filled them. 
I even got a little adventurous and added my own twists to things.  It was fun. 
Sitting down was where I went wrong.  When I stood up, I realized just how tired I was.  So, I spent most of the weekend curled up on the sofa under a quilt.  I just happened to be picking the quilting out of that quilt while I was enjoying its warmth. 

I have about 80% of the quilting picked out of this.  Many hours of pulling thread until my hands ached.  So many mistakes.  This is such early work.  But, the top is well constructed and the blocks are square and true, and as I got the chance to focus on block after block and really look at the fabric choices, I developed even more of an appreciation for this one.  Now, I just need to find a nice autumn fabric to use on the borders because this time, I plan to add the borders before I quilt it.  I've quilted many large quilts since this one was abandoned, so don't need to worry so much about the extra bulk a border would add.  This is getting that swirly pattern that I did over the whole sample, but first, I'm going to pick something small to practice that some more on. 

Yesterday's big activity was cooking.  I'm so mean.  On Sunday, I cook dinners for the week, so there's all this really good food, but it's all partial meals that still need a veg and a starch.  And, I won't let my family eat any of it.  Rob had to go out for lunch yesterday, while I was cooking four dinners for this week.  And, then he helped with the dishes.  And, I still wouldn't let him have so much as a bowl of stew for dinner.

Mean cook.

Everybody have a great Monday.  I'm feeling better, but it's still  taking a few minutes to get everything going in the same direction in the mornings.  I wake up pretty stuffed up, but that clears up after a coffee and I'm ready to face my day. 





This post won't be to everyone's taste and there aren't any pics.  It's just me, thinking about how things used to be after returning from a business trip.  No mention of quilting.  Just a lot of musing.

Remember when travel was fun?  No, I don't mean the 50's kind of luxury air travel when there were curtains on the windows and an airline meal might have included a steak option.  I'm nostalgic for just a few years ago, when we could dress up a little and check our bags for free and we didn't look like sweaty pack mules hauling our belongings through overheated airports, trying to find cold water for less than $5 a pint.  We wander through airports, looking up at signs and trying not to meet anyone's eye.  Hundreds of people, using filthy bathrooms that are being spread further and further apart to leave room for overpriced restaurants and boutique shops that for some strange reason, I see almost no one shop at.  And, speaking of expensive, I had a $15 hamburger and fries for lunch.  Per Diem, or it would have been McDonalds.  The per diem covered my tea, but not the tip.  I long ago decided I would gladly cover the tip when I needed to. 

There was a time I would have sewn hexies together, or knitted a sock.  No more.  I was always nervous that someone would say something awful.  Now, I'm pretty sure they would because so many awful people think they should get to speak their awfulness.  And, I'd hate to have to murder an idiot in an airport.  There's just too much security to be able to get away with it. 

Turns out Thursday is a big day for traveling with small children.  I know.  Everybody just got an image in their heads, and there was definitely one behind me yesterday afternoon that should have been escorted off the plane, mid flight, along with her awful parents who were too wimpy to teach her the word NO (imagine what their lives will be like when she's 15...hahahahahahaha!  life will get revenge for me).  But, there was also a little boy with Downs that was quietly eating a carrot until he saw me, and then he threw his head back and cackled out loud, making everybody in line around me laugh out loud.  So, I talked to him about how good veggies are (is that a good carrot?  Mmmmm) until the line passed by.  And, he smiled and laughed the whole time.  Now, I'm assuming that was a good thing and not because I had something stuck to my face...but you never know.  Would the sweaty pack mule have known?  But, it put me in a good mood, so when I got to my seat and saw the 18 month old girl with her mom in the center seat, I was open to giving it a try (like I had a choice).  While we sat on the tarmac, she played with me.  At first, her mom told her no when she was pushing against me with her feet, but when her mom saw my hand reach under my book and tickle her toes, she relaxed and it got okay.  She settled down and went to sleep before we took off and she slept until her mom woke her during landing.  And, I looked over and caught her looking at my shyly through her eyelashes and she looked away, but started pushing against me with her feet again.  So, there was more toe tickling. 

It's funny how we all bang into one another for moments and then move forward through our lives.  I wonder just how many people I've encountered during my life in little moments just like these.  I hope more of those encounters were good for the other person than those that were bad.  Unfortunately, I carry the burden of knowing that a lot of the encounters were unpleasant on my part.  But, maybe I've grown enough to know that they weren't all bad.  There were a lot of good encounters.  There is something about me that is changing and letting me remember and appreciate the good encounters I've had.  I think maybe the difference between depressed people and happy people is that ability to reflect on the good stuff. 

Sydney is still sick.  She gave it to me.  I fought it hard all the time I was away and yesterday afternoon, knew that it was over.  She did not fight it so hard, and she got worse.  I put her over a pot of steamy water and doubled the dose of the OTC that we use.  And, now Rob has the sniffles.  And, yes, I was the sick guy at the airport, potentially infecting everybody I encountered.  I was also the guy that was washing his hands every 6.5 minutes and taking enough meds that I didn't cough or sneeze or sniffle and when I did clear my throat, it was into my elbow and I made sure I didn't touch anything.  Germs are not like the take-a-penny, leave-a-penny jar.  I didn't feel like I had a choice.  I wasn't sick enough not to go.  I wasn't running a fever.  And, before I got through TSA, I had encountered somebody that was sicker than I was.  A lot sicker.  And, everybody took two steps back.  It was like she was in an invisible bubble as we all made sure to stay out of her space.  She looked so miserable and sad.

I took a book to read.  I had read it before.  I had very fond memories about it as a wonderful book.  I had lost it for a long time and it turned out I had loaned it to Rob and when he was cleaning things out in the garage, it turned up.  It's a wonderful set of short stories where the characters in each story have things in common and in each story, the characters (main char, partner, mom, dad) have the same name, so there's continuity, but each story is unique.  It's from the late 80's, and I recognize themes and memories of my own, when we lived with homophobia and the AIDS crisis.  When the gay lifestyle was less mainstream.  And, I gotta tell you, I can't go back to that.  Once out of the closet, I just don't see me ever being able to go back in.  So, the book is making me feel uncomfortable.  And, I'm pretty sure that's what the author wants me to feel.  But, I doubt that he thought his book would still be able to hold up as a true reflection of what life was like all these years later and I'm not sure he would know how socially relevant it is in today's rhetoric.  It's not for everybody, not because it's pornographic, but because it's full of hard life and death imagery.  It was perfect to keep me fully engaged during a bumpy flight. 

The author's picture is on the back.  It's a picture from 1992 when the author was a young hottie, imitating James Dean, with a far away look.  I looked him up on the internet as I was waiting in a jetway to see if he was still alive and saw his picture today.  Paunchy and bald.  An old man.  And, I looked up and saw my reflection in a window.  Paunchy and bald.  An old man.  We're both so lucky to have lived long enough to be paunchy and bald.  Old men.

I listened to a young girl in the boarding line talking about how her dad had suddenly gotten old between her trips home.  About how he is retired and has land and toys, like a tractor.  And how much fun he's having.  I didn't say it, but I thought, how lucky he is to be paunchy and bald.  An old man. 

Everybody have a great Friday.  I've got so much catching up to do at work.  I had access to everything for work, but no time to get anything done.  So today will be a hard run to see if I can get caught up before a new weekend begins.  Because I am not working over the weekend.  I'm quilting (okay, there it is, a mention of quilting!)  I'm making another practice sandwich and trying some of the stuff I read about in Wendy Sheppard's Stitching Pathways book.  She's got me as excited as Gaudynski and Hargrave did.



Being Schooled

Yesterday, I took Sally Terry's Hooked on Feathers class. 

I took the class because my feathers are all so regimented and same size (and boring to make) and I wanted to think of feathers in a bigger, looser, more flowing way.  Sally's technique doesn't backtrack and it gives kind of a double feather that's nice.  I plan to play more with that concept, but I don't have trouble backtracking.  That's definitely a skill I've worked on over the years to get my regimented feathers to work out and I'm pretty good at it, if I can see the line I'm going back over, so I don't see me going to the hooked method on everything.  But, I see a purpose for it.  

I didn't want to take the Bernina...35 pounds I didn't need to drag around.  So, I took my Singer 301.  Great machine.  It's sitting on a quilt it quilted in this picture, so I knew it would do it, but pulled it out on Saturday and did some sewing to make sure.  It did fine in class.  It makes a click when the needle screw hits the lift on the hopping foot, but that's about the only sound it makes. 

The first thing I noticed was how much slower I quilt than the other people in class.  While my machine was going tick-tick-tick, theirs were going vroom!  They filled a lot more of their class samples than I did, but it wasn't a competition, it was a class and I was intent on re-learning something, not learning something new. 

We started on the left side.  The first row is hooked feathers in the same size.  That's not very interesting.  But, when I started to vary the size in the next two rows, I really started appreciating the double feather effect.  Then, we used some templates.  I chose the feather heart because it was SO different from what I'd normally do, and it was definitely a challenge for me.  Above that, we turned a corner.  And, on the right side, we drew a ribbon (I didn't follow my drawn lines very well, I kept improvising) and then filled the ribbon and feathered along it. 

I enjoyed myself.  It was nice being around other quilters for the day.  I need to join a bee so I can do that more often.  And, I need to remember to make more samples and quilt them.  I have all these small pieces of batting and fabrics I'm not interested in using.  I'm not sure why I'm not turning them into practice samples.  So, that's a goal.  Instead of just doing the same thing that I know how to do, over and over, I'm going to spend more time practicing and trying new things.  Along with all the other goals I've set for myself. 


Everybody have a great day.  I'm going on a business trip tomorrow.  Tonight is guild.  It's a very busy week!  Sydney is sick.  Rob and I are keeping away from her.  She and I had to have a little talk last night about washing her hands before she goes into the kitchen.  I actually think she was having trouble understanding why I would ask her to do that.  But, she doesn't want to be taken care of anymore...wants to take care of herself.  Rob can't afford to be sick and I sure would hate getting sick on a business trip.  So, she's just going to have to accept that there are other people that live here. 

I wonder what age people realize they aren't the only people on earth...when do we grow out of that natural narcissism we are born with.

It's Monday.  Make something great happen.  Double the pleasure, if you can do that while using a sewing machine.  Triple the pleasure if it's a vintage machine.




I'm still playing with hexagons.  I haven't made much progress on anything except the baby quilt and there's nothing significant enough on it to show a picture.  My mornings have been spent hand sewing that Dresden plate to the background.  The first set of pieced borders is assembled and ironed....ya, ya, okay, I've made more progress than it feels like.  That's the thing with slow and steady.  It doesn't feel like much is happening, and then all of a sudden it all comes together and you're done.

I feel like I'm standing still compared to Michelle!  She's finished blocks 6 and 7 of the Lotus quilt and is starting to think about borders.  I'm so enjoying watching her progress and hope you are too.  Look at all those narrow stems!  Michelle, I appreciate your willingness to share your progress with me!

Michelle is the one that shared the hexies with me and got me started playing with them.  I've just been basting so far.   I plan to take the basted hexies on a business trip next week to give me something to do in the hotel.  I thought that would be a lot more fun than basting.  I wanted to lay them out to try to estimate how many I'll need.  I'm not working from a pattern, just making it up as I go.  I'm thinking two more flowers and a few more leaves will do it.  I'm a little iffy about that dark blue one near the bottom of the picture.  It will need to be surrounded by light colored leaves if it stays.  Once I get some flowers assembled, I can play with it more.  It takes a lot of effort to move a flower in seven pieces, but once they're assembled and I can pick them up and move them around, I'll start to commit to a layout. 

I bought a book.  I follow Wendy's blog and she's been talking about her new book.  I haven't had a chance to start reading yet, but the pictures have me drawn in and I can hardly wait for a few minutes to sit and read. 

I have a class this weekend with Sally Terry and I haven't even started pulling things together yet.  I did make sure I own everything I'll need.  But, it's still scattered all over.   I have to make a practice piece and decide on a machine and find my extension table.  They want us to bring a couple of tops to use in discussion and I'm trying to pick something from the UFO pile.  She asked us to bring our feather templates to class.  But, I don't own any feather templates.  All mine are free form, so I'm not sure how that's going to work out.  I wonder if she'll be okay with me drawing three lines and feathering between them like I normally do.  Can I call that a template?  Prolly not.

While I was poking around, I found two Christmas quilts and a Christmas kit.  I think I might need a Christmas quilt intervention!  Please stop me from making more.  I clearly need help!

That's it for me today.  I have to take the car to the shop so I need to get out of here early.  But, there's still a few minutes to sew...mwahaha!

Have a great Friday!!  Lane