Busy weekend

It was Rob's birthday weekend and on Saturday, he wanted to go to a real nursery.  Not a home and garden center like Lowe's or Home Depot.  He wanted to go to a real nursery to look for more unusual plants.  We did that and shopped for large pots and had a nice lunch and spent the day together.  Not working.  Just enjoying ourselves.  Unfortunately, our nearest nursery is closing this summer, but they still had lots of wonderful plants and we picked up several things to grow in pots.

Yesterday, I spent all morning in the yard, then we went out for lunch and then it was chores, like cleaning the aquarium and a little cooking and cleaning.  I don't have anything to show for any of it.  So, I'm going to show another set of tree blocks.  I'm up to 12.  Six more to go.  I wanted to lay them out to make sure I'm getting sufficient variety, and I am.  This quilt would also be beautiful with seasonal trees that flowed from left to right across the quilt.  Brown on one end, then brights, then some greens, then flowing to reds and golds.  But, I'm not taking these apart to make that happen now. 

You  might notice that they don't look ironed.  And, you'd be right.  I'm not doing any ironing as I go, just finger pressing.  Sometimes, it's easier for me to make points match if I just finger press as I go.  A hot iron changes the shape of blocks, especially blocks with bias.  I made the first block in class without an iron, and it went together perfectly.  I was home for the second block and used the iron and that block was harder to piece together.  So, I stopped ironing them.  But, I am being very careful with seam allowances because with these blocks, they could really build up quickly and I'm not going to want to run up on a really thick seam allowance when I'm quilting. 

I make a lot of quilts, but I also have quite a quilt collection.  Not a valuable one, just a collection of vintage quilts and UFOs that I like, many handed down through the family.  But, I buy things I like, too.  You saw a star I picked up a couple weeks ago.  I also picked up these blocks.  They're embroidered and I think they'd make a beautiful little quilt. 

I got them for a song and whether they ever get turned into anything, or if they just get washed and cared for correctly until they pass into the next set of hands, they're mine for now. 

I've noticed recently that Sydney and I are really getting along.  It started last Tuesday, my first day back from my family visit.  When she got home that evening, I was making a tree block and she came in and watched and talked to me.  Rob left us to talk and she rambled from subject to subject.  And, I just listened.  I got in a word once in a while, but this was about her, and I guess about her missing me and wanting to fill me in on her weekend.  Yesterday, I was working in the yard and she came by with the recycling and I called her over to help me move the bird bath.  She didn't like the new place I'd picked, but instead of saying that, she talked about how Rob wasn't going to like it.  I told Rob what had happened in passing.  At lunch, she tried to throw me under the bus by saying I wanted to move the birdbath to a place he wouldn't like and she stopped me and made me move it back.  So he wouldn't be mad.  But, I told it like she made me move the birdbath even though ai didn't want to, but I knew he wasn't going to like it, so I made her help me move it back.  Rob played along.  We laughed and laughed. 

Everybody have a great Monday.  Hug a kid.  Smile unexpectedly.  Take a walk around the neighborhood.  Enjoy the spring.  Be expansive. 




I'm back from my visit with family.  It was a good visit.  You know how visiting with family can be.  It can go either way.  And, at several points, it could have gone either way.  We had some nice catching up and some good relationship talk and lots of laughs.  I wandered a grocery store with my Dad, which was a different kind of place for us to find ourselves.  We ate until we complained about not being hungry.  And, we visited and talked about old times and new times and good times and bad times.  My Mom shared some things that I'm going to photograph and share with you, but I haven't gotten to it yet.  I'm still getting oriented back into being home. 

The drive is about 7 hours and add to that another 45 minutes for a quick lunch and bathroom breaks and then add an hour for stretching my legs (otherwise known as walking through an antique store and buying at least one thing in exchange for using the restroom...cuz that's polite...rationalizations are wonderful things). 

In the antique shop on the way home on Monday, I picked up a present for Rob and a couple other things that were seriously underpriced and additions to things I'm already collecting (because I don't need any new collections, believe me...I need to get rid of some of the junk I've collected already).  The lady that checked me out and I started talking and laughing, like I try to do.  She kept making addition errors and making jokes was the only response I could come up with.  I think it helped her relax.  Anyway, we finally got everything paid for and wrapped up and I left.  And, when I got home, I realized I hadn't gotten home with Rob's present.  Well, doo-doo.  But, I called yesterday and they still had it and they're going to ship it to me.  Woo-hoo!! 

Yesterday, I had conference calls all day, so it was a good day to work from home.  That meant I could sew during what would have been my lunch hour and drive times and I got a sixth tree farm block done. 

That means one third of them are made.  Yikes.  They go really fast now.  All the pieces are cut, so it's just a matter of laying a block out and sewing it up.  They take just over an hour to assemble.  This is a very fun quilt.  It's a good pattern and it's a good fabric selection.  It required adding a few small pieces of fabric, and I'm adding quite a variety from my stash. 

And, while I was at my parent's house, I acquired an iris from my Aunt. 

It's beautiful, but I'm having trouble finding a place to put it, so for right now, it's in a pot, in a nice sunny spot next to the new deck.  It will do well there until I can find a more permanent spot, which I might have seen yesterday afternoon, but I need to keep an eye on it to make sure it stays nice and sunny.

Okay, that's it for me today.  Everybody have a great Wednesday.  This weekend is Rob's bday and I'm hoping to spend a few minutes cleaning up in the studio.  I'm moving more stuff on to Goodwill.  I have several boxes started, enough that I was able to start separating it like they like it.  But, most of the boxes are still only half full.  That means I can give away even MORE!!

I hope.



Today is going to be a variety.  It was a busy weekend. 
We went to the Georgetown Quilt show with our friend LD.  It's always so good to see her and she was in great spirits.  After the show, we took her to lunch and ran some errands and then a nice visit.  I don't think any of us were in the mood for a quilt show that day.  But, we all made the effort and it paid off.  We all ended up happy and smiling and enjoying ourselves.  Rob made a video and has posted it here.  It's a few minute long, but well worth it.  Rob always makes a good video. 
A big shout out to my friend, Mary who won first place in in the Modern Category.  I loved her use of black on black prints.  The white squares have cats embroidered in different poses in them.  And, the quilting was delicious!

Way to go, Mary!!!

I did pretty good.  I did buy a few things. I always do, but I spent less money than I thought I did and I wasn't feeling too bad about what I spent in the first place.  I bought this star.  (they threw in the beagle for free to get rid of it.  you can't see it, but she's laying lovingly at her daddy's feet as though he'd been gone a month instead of a few hours.) 


I couldn't help myself.  They had a lot of hand pieced vintage stars like this.  This one was only $10 and it looked kind of lonely and picked over.  And, you know how much I love other people's UFOs.  There is one star point where the points don't match and a little bit of repair would make this one perfectly usable.  If I decide to do that.  We'll see. 
I also finished piecing the 324 half triangle squares for the Tree Farm quilt.  As I pieced my first block, I cut pieces I was going to need, so most of the cutting is done.  Now, it's just assembly and the blocks assemble pretty quickly from these pieces and some browns for a trunk. 
I've pieced the two on the left here and the one on the right was made in class. 
Fifteen more to go.  I'm pretty sure this one is going to be a wedding gift for a wonderful young couple.  We've known him for most of his life and a tree quilt will be perfect for them. 
I forgot to post pictures of this one.  I finished it a couple weeks ago.  This is an EPP UFO that I bought in a quilt show boutique.  I had no idea where the quilter was going.  Part of it was pieced together and there was a good bit of fabric.  I finished the blocks on a lark to have a hand work project to take to a guild meeting one night.  Soon as I finished this, I moved on to an EPP hexie project.  The colors in this one make me anxious and I'm trying to decide if it's worth hand quilting.  It's all hand pieced, even the borders.  But, that doesn't mean it needs to be hand quilted.
And, finally, a couple garden pics.  My purple iris bloomed.  I was so glad to see this.  It hasn't bloomed in several years.  It really must have been the cold winter we had that is making all the garden grow and bloom. 

This is a Cinco de Mayo rose.  Look at that color. 

There's a cluster of them blooming now that I need to get a picture of.  They're red-orange with hints of purple. 

Everybody have a great Monday.  I spent most of yesterday in the kitchen.  I'm going to visit my parents this weekend and made some casseroles to freeze and take along and a batch of cookies.  It should be a nicer visit if we're not cooking. 

But, first, there's this week and whatever adventures it brings and however many tree blocks I make and whatever respectful conversations Sydney and I have and enjoying my husband and doing my best not to be stressed at work and all the things that make up real life.  Sometimes I look at other people and wonder if they're as happy with their real lives as I am.  I hope so. 




Lots of blocks to share today.  Let's start with blocks from Michelle.  I shared a quilt kit with Michelle last year and she's been diligently working on it.  She's finished the last three blocks and trimmed them all.

Can you believe that workmanship and precision?  I am blown away.  I know I've said it before, but I'm so glad I shared this one.  It never would have become anything sitting in my closet, waiting for me to work up the nerve to try it. 

Here are the blocks, all laid out.  But, Michelle says this isn't it.  She's going rogue and adding applique to fill in the spaces and she's re-designing some of the borders. 

Beautiful work, Michelle!  Keep going!  I can hardly wait to see the end result. 

Yesterday was my class with Edyta Sitar.  It was a fun class.  Edyta does a lot of block swaps, so she did one with us.  She gave us each a pair of fabrics and a triangle paper and we each made hst blocks and we laid them on a table in 20 piles of 20 different squares that we used to make our blocks.  If you were watching Edyta's Instagram yesterday, you probably saw my picture there.  I finished my block first and took some gentle ribbing about that.  And, when she took my picture with my block, she wanted to make sure she got my vintage Singer 301 in the picture. 

The class had a large kit fee, but I brought home all the fabrics to make 18 of these blocks, including tree trunks, and the triangle paper to make the hst squares, and the quilt pattern, plus the hst that we made in class to make this block.  So, the kit fee ended up being a real bargain.  And, despite the fact I need to be working on other things, I kinda feel like I might be distracted by this for a little while. 

The class was nice.  I didn't get there as early as usual, so was worried about who I'd be next to.  But, there were a couple guild officers that I served with when I was secretary a couple years ago and one lady I'd only met in a previous class from across the room, and the rest of the table was from a bee I used to be a member of.  It was so nice to sit with them and spend the afternoon catching up.  I had not talked to some of them since leaving the bee and I had lots to tell and to hear.  Friends are like that.  Sometimes you see one another all the time.  Sometimes, you need to catch up. 

This next pic isn't blocks, but blocking. 

I washed three little quilts on Saturday and pinned them to the floor.  Not one of my most flattering pictures, but it's life.  Life sometimes has ratty old towels in it. 

And, I got the quilting done on the baby quilt on Saturday.  It looks mah-velus.  But, that's a post for another day. 

Okay, one garden pic.  Just one. 

This is the Iris that my Mom sent Rob a couple years ago.  I had lost track of it and just happened to look down at just the right angle and saw it under a daylily.  But, I'll be digging it up and moving it soon as the bloom is over so it can get a new start for next year.  And, maybe next year, we'll get more than one bloom.

Everybody have a great Monday.  It's a new week.  Yesterday in class, another participant was talking about how her 16 year old hates her.  And, I got to say what so many people have said to me over the years.  It gets better.  I promise.  It really does.  Give it a few years.  And, they start to see us as people instead of jailers.  And, as proof, on the way home from class, I stopped to pick up Syd from work and we picked up supper.  It gave us a few minutes to catch up.  I don't get those opportunities too often when I'm not having to nag about cleaning the bathroom or emptying the dishwasher, so I'm glad I took that opportunity when it presented itself.  We were both in a good mood at the same time.  How often does that happen?

Not enough.

Now, I need to get those quilts unpinned from the sewing room floor so I can move around.  Have a great day!



A lot of sewing, a lot of picking out

This week, I've been working on the Two-spool sewing machine. 

The tension was off and anything I ran through it would ruffle.  The instruction manual brags (yes, you could do that in instruction manuals in 1927) that the tension is self setting and that the machine has been tested on multiple threads and I should be able to sew with any thread without needing to adjust the tension.  But, it doesn't take into account a man that likes to tinker with his machines as much as sew with them, and who took this machine apart the weekend it came to live here.  So, I worked with it and worked with it and worked with it until I got most of the ruffling to stop and got the stitch to form "in the middle of the goods" as the manual said. 

When that was fixed, I realized that the presser foot was pushing down so hard that it was shifting the top fabric when I sewed two squares together and I could not adjust the knob on top that is supposed to control that enough to make a difference.  That's a much more complicated repair.  That meant opening the end of the machine and loosening the set screw and adjusting the downward pressure.  I knew this had been a problem as long as I'd owned the machine (it came that way), so much so that the foot was disfigured and didn't sit on the feed dogs correctly when I bought it.  I "re-bent" that back to its original shape but it was never really right.  First, I turned the knob on top  until it was exerting the lowest pressure.  Then, I loosened the screw while the presser foot was down and it popped.  There was so much downward pressure on the foot that the bar popped up when it was released.  Okay.  Then, I had to figure out how to adjust that. I thought I needed something that would give me some spacing between the foot and the feed dogs.  Three dollar bills was too thick.  Four layers of cotton fabric was too thick.  Two layers of fabric was too thick.  So, I let the foot sit on the dogs and tightened that screw and gave it another try and it worked perfect and feeds the "goods" through in a straight line without me having to provide much guidance.  And, I ended up with a stack of squares that I'm sewing into four patches for a Linus quilt. 

While I was working on it, I broke the foot.  I had weakened it when I worked on it before and it wasn't up to more bending.  So, I pulled the foot from my other machine and then found a new one on ebay.  Ebay can be great for things like that.  Where else am I going to find a ninety year old specialty foot for a specialty machine?  My free motion foot is made out of a paperclip because they don't make one, so stay tuned to find out how well that worked.  I have a few made, but I'm going to start over and make a new one, with what I believe will be some improvements.  I might even get it to hop.

They're not perfect, but they're getting there, because every Linus quilt is perfect.  This weekend, the weather is supposed to be cold and wet, so I hope to use this machine to add some borders to a quilt and really give it a good workout.  And, then, I'm going to try again to free motion quilt.  Fingers crossed.

But, you don't care about quilting, right?  You want garden pics...okay, I want garden pics.  There is no dirt under my fingernails right now, and I miss it.

We're replacing the path between the deck and the greenhouse, adding these larger cement blocks.  Still working on the alignment.  I'm sure this crooked line is driving my husband bonkers. But, we were both so frustrated while we were doing this.  We speak in different words and different things are important to us.  But, we'll get there.  I just gotta convince him that moving that first block further away from the step is the right thing to do.  Maybe a steak will work.  Or a roast chicken?

Don't judge my willingness to resort to unfair practices to get my way.

This is the side of the greenhouse.  I created problems here.  I planted a line of cast iron plant (aspidistra) down that wall.  And, over the years, it filled in so densely that the wood didn't dry out and began to rot.  So, last fall, I dug out and gave away the plants and Rob has replaced all the wood trim and painted the outside and we're going to do something different.  We put mulch down to form a "bed" and we're going to use glazed pots as cache pots for shade loving plants there.  Nothing planted in the ground.  Still a work in progress, but coming along. 

Before the neighbor across the street was moved into assisted living, I took care of her flowerbeds.  These lilies were there and there was one bulb out of place.  I replaced it with something else and took the bulb.  It's turned into this stand of very red lilies in my yard. 

This is the mock orange from outside the fence.  This is the original one that came from my Aunt Jane's yard in Louisiana in 1999.  Now, we have three, taken from divisions, but this is still the largest, and look at that bloom. 

We remembered where those yellow iris came from.  We brought them home with us from Boston.  We were there in spring, maybe 2004 and walked through a community garden where people were digging them up and throwing them into the compost pile because they were basically invasive there.  They've adapted and have bloomed a few times here.  Hopefully their prolific bloom this year means they'll continue to do well and bloom every year.  (and inspire their brethren)

This is a little sun loving hanging basket I've put together.  Pink, blue, white and a dusty miller in the center for some height.  Fingers crossed.  I've never done well with mixed baskets like this, so we will see. 

And, finally, another path we built this year.  This is a very shady dog path and grass is never going to grow here.  We've put up with the mud, and this year, we had enough blocks to form a path.  We need one more.  We want it to start at the steps three blocks wide, then two blocks, then the path that is one block wide. 

These are things I'm good at.  But, life is made up of things I'm not so good at, too.  I'm not good at getting myself to do things I need to do but don't want to do, even if they're good for me.  So, I tend to let things build up until the pressure becomes immense, and then I take care of a bunch of personal business all at once.  That's not really the lesson I want Sydney to take from watching me, so we talk about things at the dinner table so she can know about the things I struggle with, in hopes that she will struggle with her things better than I do.  Or at least accept her personal quirks better than I do. 

Last night, we were talking about credit.  She's nearly old enough to apply for a credit card, and we talked frankly about credit.  Rob and I both talked about the credit mistakes we'd made and about our first credit experiences.  And, we also talked about how we abhor credit card debt and paying interest and how we use our cards now for the safety and benefits they offer, but not to borrow or buy things we can't afford.  About how we each keep one card and how convenient they can be in an emergency.  And, how we pay them off every month so we don't have to pay interest (I hate interest!  And, late fees!). 

She's going to mess up.  She's going to have to make her credit mistakes, too.  But, she sees how we live, and she sees how other people are burdened by their debt and I think all that is going to help her make a small credit mistake instead of a large one.  Fingers crossed. 

Everybody have a great weekend.  The weather is going to be nasty, so I'll be sewing and cleaning.  I dusted and organized half the studio last weekend.  I'll be happy if I get through half of what's left this weekend.  The rest is going to be harder work than the first half was.  Good thing I'm not allergic to hard work.  Unfortunately, I am allergic to dust.  And, I sneeze so much at the office that I've been accused of being allergic to my job.  It's so bad that people wait until the third sneeze before they say bless you. 

My sneezes are predictable to others.  That can't be good.



We worked, we ate, it was a holiday

We had several discussions about religious observances this weekend.  Those having and those not.  Sydney's new job in retail exposes her to a different group of people now.  And, they have different interests.  And, she's learning a lot, listening to them talk and interacting with them. It's good for her to see other things and ask new questions.

I didn't get much quilting done this weekend.  I decided to spend my studio time organizing and cleaning.  I have to do that once in a while. 

One of the goals was to pull out this machine.  This is one of my National Two Spool machines.  It holds a small spool of thread as the bobbin instead of a traditional bobbin case.  This machine is in a treadle case, but I have another that is converted to electric. 

This is the "bobbin". 

The only drawback is you can't buy those little wooden spools anymore, so I have to wind them.  The machine has a winder, but no guides, so it's all manual to get the thread to evenly wind on the spool.  Anyway, because it can sew for a really long time on one bobbin and because I think I'll have great speed control, I want to teach it to quilt.  I thought I could just try a quilting needle, which I recently discovered works very well in the Bernina to stop skipped stitches, but that didn't solve it.  So, I backed up and tried some piecing and found out it has significant tension problems, so I'm going to resolve that, learn the machine a little better and try again later. 

I did get some hand work done during family time.  I got the binding on this little quilt, but am not sure how I feel about it.  It needs to be washed and blocked before I decide, but after it's washed and blocked, it would be a real pain to re-bind. 

And, I got two sides of the floral hexies mounted to the background.  I found myself with a new hexie project in hand and realized, I don't need to be startin' anything new.  I need to be finishin' what I already got goin' on. 

The new hexie project isn't really new.  Part of my cleaning meant putting fabric away and part of putting fabric away meant going through my UFOs and putting the leftover fabric away for the ones I'd finished.  And, since I was in the UFOs, I decided to repackage them out of their cute little baskets and into squarer storage things with lids, like shoe boxes and small tubs that stack easier, because I have an appalling number of UFOs.  I found two that are quilted and just need binding.  And, several others that are at the final stages.  That's what I need to be working on. 

Anyway, we had a very nice holiday feast.  Rob and I over did it Saturday, so Sydney ended up dyeing our eggs. 

And, then I got my hands on them and turned them into something we all enjoyed. 

Oops!  Looks like one was missing.  I guess somebody thought I wouldn't notice.  And, I didn't until now.  You can see how few are left in the picture below. 

We don't do much fancy stuff.  But, we do eat good.  Very good

Everybody have a great Monday.  Easter is a signifier of endings and beginnings.  Spring is about things starting anew.  Growth.  Becoming who we want to be.  I think that's why spring cleaning is such a thing; people need fresh starts, and spring is a great time to begin them.  I know for me, cleaning is a sign of change.  I don't know why, but it is a clear sign that something is going to be different.  And, while change is scary, it's exciting too. 

So, what can I change today?