Clean one mess, make one mess.

This weekend, I wanted to spend a good bit of time quilting and sewing.  And, I did.  I'm about half done with the wedding gift quilt.  I spent about four hours on it Saturday and I think I'm half done.  It's so hard to estimate when it's puddled up under the machine.  I think I thought I was a lot further along last week than I turned out to be.  But, that's okay.  It's a very special couple.  And, not being able to estimate how far along I am means I'll get a big surprise when, one day, it's suddenly done.   
And, I finished more arc blocks.  I found myself yesterday powering through four blocks so I could take a picture.  Sometimes, it's the little things that motivate me. 

Twelve blocks.  Halfway there!  But, then there's a border that's just as intense.  You can imagine that it takes a lot of scraps.  And, next step is more cutting.  All my color stacks are missing steps in the gradations that are becoming obvious.  The scraps have to be tone on tone and I make two stacks when I cut; one for 2"x6" bricks and one for smaller pieces.  The ends of the arcs take smaller pieces, so it's important there are lights and darks, not so much mediums.  But, I have plenty of scraps and if it I run out, I can cut from stash just as easy.  I might have to do that with my purples.  Tip:  Making these blocks is messy.  It leaves threads and scraps and tiny pieces all over.  When I'm done, I run a lint brush over the carpet before the vacuum. 

My cleaning project was the grill.  I spent several hours cleaning and repairing the grill.  Our grill wasn't very old, but it had gotten messy...so messy that I didn't want to cook on it.  I dreaded lifting the lid.  I used most of a bottle of degreaser and a roll of paper towels and a steel wool pad.  But, it was worth it.  It's all sparkly clean and I can't wait to take a steak out there and make a mess on it.  The only thing I couldn't get to work was the replacement spark lighter.  Oh, well.  That's what matches are for, right?

I also rewired a vintage floor lamp.  It was my Grandmother's lamp and I had rewired it many years ago, but it was never "right".  It reflected what I knew about electrical wiring and repair at the time, but I know more now.  It's been in Syd's room for years and I had kind of forgotten about it.  I don't think she ever used it.  I put some new fixtures on it and an extension to raise one of the fixtures and put it all back together.  I only had a vague idea of the improvements I wanted to make and it took me a few tries to raise that fixture and get it the way I wanted it, but it's all done now and the lamp looks better and works better. 
So, that's what my weekend was like.  Remember when I used to quilt the whole weekend and could show you a completed top on Monday?  I do.  And, I miss part of that.  But, I'm also enjoying more variety in my projects.  Variety is a good thing and I'm glad to be coming out of the studio and experiencing other things.  Even if the other things are cleaning and repairing. 
Everybody have a great week!  It's been very busy at my desk, but this is last week of the month, so it should be slower.  I hope. 


Boiled or bottled?

I've never been under a boil water alert before.  The city of Austin has been under one all week.  That means all water for drinking or cooking needs to be boiled.  But, it also means dishwater, the water you rinse your mouth with after brushing, water for the dogs, and ice. 

Ice has been the thing I've had the hardest time with.  Rob works in a different city that takes its water from a different source and he has been bringing water and ice home for us.  But, it means being conservative with those things.  If there's a little ice left in a glass, you add to it rather than toss it into the sink and start fresh.  Rather than bring my lunch box to my desk with lunch, it stays in the office refrigerator with a bottle of water in it so there's cold water for the afternoon. 

And, something I didn't think of, all the leafy produce in the grocery stores had to be thrown away because it had been sprayed with city water after the boil notice became effective.  It took stores a couple days to restock their shelves with produce. 

I'll be very glad when this is over.  I know there are places where people have to do this all the time.  I have a new appreciation for the effort that goes into living in a remote place like that.  Sure, it's beautiful, but it's a lot of extra work. 

I voted early yesterday.  I stopped at the polling place every morning and measured the line.  I went on cloudy warm days, and cool rainy days, and the only thing that happened was the line got longer on days I thought people would stay home, proving again that I am no judge of human nature.  Yesterday, I just bit the bullet and scheduled out of office for a couple hours and did it.  And, it took 32 minutes from parking to leaving and I was only a few minutes late to work.  The line looked long, but it moved quick.  So, vote!  Whoever you're voting for, just vote.  Like my Civics teachers always preached, the only way to lose the right to vote is to not exercise it. 

Rob voted the day before I did.  He posted a cute post about how all the cool kids are voting early, so if you want to be as cool as him, you need to vote.
So, of course, I had to imitate him.  Not quite as cool, tho. 

Couldn't resist. 

Had lunch with a friend on Wednesday.  We laughed for an hour and a half.  I completely lost track of what was going on in the restaurant around us.  It felt good.

In the mornings, I've continued to quilt "wind" in the tree quilt.  I'm about 40% done.  Hopefully I'll get most of that done this week.  But, it's going to be sunny and it's been so long since we had sunny days that I plan to spend part of the weekend doing more cleanup in the yard.  We haven't had significant rain in three days and the ground is starting to turn into a solid again.  And, I need some sunshine to recharge me.   

Have a great weekend!  Do something you enjoy.  Keep the pleasure and the work in balance! 



The vacatiion that didn't

Well, about 15 minutes before Rob's sister was going to pick up their Mom to take her to the airport, the airline cancelled the flight due to maintenance issues.  Which is good because there wasn't a crash.  But, disappointing, too.  But also probably good because we spent the week feeling poorly from something germish/viral/contagious that Retail Sydney brought home.  Also disappointing. 

So, I spent the week eating through our disappointment with high calorie, protein rich foods that were supposed to feed four people three times a day...but Rob and Sydney weren't eating at home.  Thank goodness I didn't cook the roast!  And, I managed to eat or feed them almost all of it.  We lost some rice and some mac&cheese and a little hummus and baked beans.  But, boy, it was hard work eating my own best cooking.  Terrible hard work.  (NOT!)  But, I did kind of feel like a rolling lump by Friday. 

Anyway, we spent the weekend resting.  And, trying to take care of the yard which, if you hadn't heard, have been subjected to some mighty rainfall that's flooding the lakes and rivers around here as it makes its way to the coast.  That left limbs and leaves and extreme growth and plants that have started to drown in the mud.  There wasn't a lot we could do because the ground is still soggy, but it was a sunny day, so we did what we could. 

And, I did some sewing. 

I got some of the arcs made into blocks.  Here are 8 laid out as they will be in the final quilt. 

This is when I figured out that I was making the pattern's mirror image, which is weird because I spent a lot of time trying to make sure I didn't do that.  I found out when I attached the first print "comma" shaped piece and looked at it.  This is how that comma should look.  See how it leads into the small arc from the center?  

This is how the first one looked.  I saved it just to show you.  The black pieces I cut are reusable, upside down, but I'd only cut three or four commas when I found the mistake, so that was good. 

This one is taking all my skills and my patience.  Each block has to be blocked because they don't come off the machine the right shape.  The fabric is there, but it takes some spritzing/pinning/ironing to turn that fabric into the right sized square.  Fortunately, Sally Collins taught me that secret and I use it a lot when complex blocks don't come out just like I thought they would.  (If you're tracking my progress on the reusable freezer paper templates, 12 large arcs from three templates, and still going strong!)
I also spent a couple hours yesterday starting to quilt the tree quilt.  This is a wedding gift for a couple that's marrying on 12/1, so there's a deadline and I wanted to make sure I get well ahead of it.  Can't let myself get distracted.  There is a LOT happening between now and then. 
I'm quilting the wind pattern into it.   I wanted something that would be loose and comfortable that they would enjoy and use, so no over-quilting.  Even though my nature is over-quilting with dense background shapes.  As I was pin basting it, I thought of all kind of things I could do that would compliment the pattern.  And, I refrained.  Thank goodness.. 
Everybody have a great week!  The city just issued a citywide boil water notice.  I've been here 34 years and I've never seen that.  The flooding has sent dirty water into the system and it's taking longer to filter than normal, so yesterday, they asked us to use water sparingly so we didn't overtax the system.  I guess maybe not everyone did that, so now we have this.  Yay!  Fortunately, Rob had bought a case of bottled water yesterday to take to his office, so I'll just need to boil a little. 



Arc maker

This weekend, we were finalizing prep for our houseguest.  Tonight's dinner is ready.  The dishes are all washed.  The house is as clean as we are going to get it.  I baked three loaves of pumpkin bread.  And, we even had a little time for shopping. 

Yesterday, we picked up new rugs for the kitchen floor and the 6.5 yards of black fabric that the arc quilt calls for.  I didn't get it surged and washed, but it is here.  I even found some time to make a few more arcs. 

I've started sewing the arcs together into their final shape.  I'm having to be very careful because none of the edges are straight of the fabric grain and they want to stretch.  It would probably be safer if I were leaving the paper attached as I sew them together, but I'm using the freezer paper method and pulling the paper off to reuse it.  I might not make all the arcs this way because of that stretching.  I might needle punch some regular paper and give that a try, but before I decide, I'm going to turn some of these arcs into blocks with their attached pieces, just to see how it works out. 

Several of you asked about re-using the freezer paper templates.  I've made all these arcs and have another set of two large and two small in process, and I'm still using the original set of three large and two small templates.  You can see some mistakes were made in the gradations.  There are going to be 24 arc pairs so I don't think my mistakes will be noticeable, but I have pulled out my red viewer that takes the color out of everything and lets me verify the graded shading is correct. 

The arcs on the left are sewn together.  That took multiple tries to get them right.  They don't go together like I would have expected and the instructions for joining them are "sparse".  There are no match points or anything, so it took multiple tries to get them to go together correctly and form a 45* angle.  They're a little stretched, but I've been careful and don't think I will have any trouble attaching the next pieces.  And, if I lose a couple as I'm learning, that's okay, too. 

They're laid out on my new huge ironing board that we picked up at the quilt show.  Loving that.  I pulled it out to iron the kitchen curtains yesterday and it is the perfect size for laying things out to really give them a good stretching to square and steam iron. 

I really am enjoying making this quilt.  I figured out that I needed to sort my fabrics (again) to go from dark to light.  That way, I can pull out the pieces I need without having to dig through the stack, looking for just that right one that will bridge from one fabric to the next.  I build my piles and can sew four arcs in a go as long as I'm very organized about which pile I pull my fabrics from.  I couldn't do two that were identical (like two blue/yellow), but I can do two that are similar (blue/yellow and blue/orange) and still keep them straight because the arc tells me which color pile to pull from. 

Sydney will be in my studio for the week so I've set up a sewing sweatshop in the garage.  I oiled and cleaned Linda's sewing machine and am using it out there.  This would normally be my machine repair station.  Her machine is nice.  It sews a good straight stitch and has good tension and is powerful.  The pedal gives me good control.  It won't make a single stitch like the Bernina does, but that's useful in quilting more than in piecing. 

To the right, I have a small ironing board on a TV tray.  I add a fabric, press it to the freezer paper and move it to the bottom of my pile of working arcs and let it rest.  That lets the freezer paper cool to the fabric, which makes it adhere better.  Then, I use the blue piece of cardstock to fold the freezer paper back, trim the edge using my add-a-quarter ruler and I'm ready to sew on the next piece of fabric.  I use my scissors to keep the top and bottom edges close to the paper.  Floppy edges will let the fabric pull from the paper and they get hung on things, so after I've trimmed it to a quarter on the sewing edge, I use the scissors to trim the top and bottom.  I can comfortably work four arcs at a time.  There are 31 pieces of fabric in a large arc and 17 in a small arc, so the small ones are finished long before the large ones are. 

Tomorrow is my boss's big presentation where he explains his results for the year.  He gets so nervous.  Way more than most people I've worked for.  And, he practices and reviews and practices and reviews until he's taken all the mystery out of it and turned it into a staged production.   I think he's even timing how long to spend on each slide.  I don't know about you, but a fluid presentation always works better for me.  One where I can improv for the things the audience responds to the most and downplay the things that make them yawn.  Everybody's got their own way, tho, right? 

Everybody have a great week!  I work today and half of tomorrow and then don't work again until Friday afternoon.  Rob will be spending the day here, anticipating his Mom's arrival.  Squeezing in that one last project or bit of cleaning.  His dog will be a nervous wreck trying to keep up with him.  I am done.  If it didn't get done, it won't get done.  I made Tikka Masala and Kheema, three loaves of pumpkin bread, roasted sweet potatoes in honey, hummus, and pimiento and cheese, and a ham and broccoli quiche yesterday.  The first person that say's they're hungry is going to get kicked in the shin. 



Let the good times roll?

Let's just say that this trip wasn't quite the mardi gras that last week was.  Last week, I traveled mostly alone and the out of office hours got to be about me.  This week, I traveled as "team" and it had nothing to do with me.  I got to make some of the decisions about where we'd go and what we'd do in the planning stage, but we didn't do those things.  My co-worker made different choices and told me what we would be doing. 

I did NOT fight back.  She does not have that filter that most people have and arguing with someone like that is pointless.  Her choices were not as tasty as mine.  And, there was no walking and enjoying the sights.  It was me, white-knuckled and wide-eyed, with my bosses boss in the backseat. 

So, let's look at some quilts instead.  I love this pattern and a friend made this quilt and I love it.  Most I've seen are in cool colors.  I love the hot color choices she made. 

I have a thing for quilts that weave.  This one caught my eye. 

A little applique.  I love this kind of work, but I don't have that kind of patience. 

NO comments to add to this one.  It says everything, even the light border that is there, but not distracting.

A hosta in cool colors. 

Love paper piecing.  There were at least two quilts that used the lozenge shaped hexagons that are elongated. 

And, how about a little whimsy!

Everybody have a great weekend.  Next week, we have Rob's Mom.  She is the best houseguest ever.  That's what all the cleaning has been about.  Good food will be served.  Rob has already asked me to make Indian and Thai because she is flavor adventurous.  I'll squeeze in a melt in your mouth pot roast that will give us sandwiches.  And, some cookies because she has a sweet tooth.  Something without too much sugar tho.  And a big bowl of hummus. 

I guess I better get thinking about that.  Or we gonna have PB&J. 



Nothing exciting

I wish I was about to tell you an exciting story about how I spent hours and hours at my sewing machine and made the next show's best of show quilt from beginning to end and had a picture of it hanging in my living room.  Wouldn't that be nice?

But, that's not real life...and best of show quilts don't happen in a weekend and I was busy doing the stuff that makes up a life outside of being a quilter. 

I can start with one bit of exciting news.  I heard from Edyta Sitar, and she says she appreciates my pattern feedback and that my suggestions are on point.  That made me feel good.  I was a little afraid that I was off the mark, or maybe she thought I was being a little too picky, and I needed a little confirmation that my work was adding value and she gave me that.  And, another 10 page pattern to review.  The first pattern I reviewed has been released.  I saw it on her website the other day.  It's called Alaska, and you can check it out at Laundry Basket Quilts.  It's a lovely!

On Saturday, we steamed the carpets again and on Sunday, we washed windows.  What a huge difference that made.  So delightful to be able to actually see the outside again.  Dirt builds up so slow that I didn't realize how bad it needed to be done.  Now it's done, I just want to stand and look outside. 

But, despite the chores to catch up on, there has to be some time for fun.  And, I spent my fun time making more of those paper pieced arcs.  Let's just say that mistakes were made.  And, they took forever.  But, with practice they're getting easier and I hope that will make them a little faster.  This quilt is going to be a riot of color on a black background. 

It took a while to cut enough scraps to have a really good start.  It won't be enough, but it's a good start.  I have large pieces and smaller pieces for the tiny points.  It takes a lot of time to lay out the gradations and then to sew all those paper pieced seams.  And, I kept making errors where I would pick a piece of fabric that was too small, then I'd be digging through my scraps, looking for a larger piece of the same fabric, or having to choose a new fabric and make sure it wouldn't mess up the gradation.  Some errors were made, but I don't think they'll be obvious in the end.  A lot of picking out had to be done, but that was my fault for trying to make things fit instead of measuring them against the paper they needed to cover.

I'm using the freezer paper method that I learned from Judy Mathieson's books.  It's so much easier and faster than making all those traditional paper patterns.  These are re-usable at least three times, so I only need a third as many patterns as I would normally need, and they're needle punched so there is no drawing or printing on multiple pieces of paper that get taped together.  Make an arc, peel the paper off it and then use the paper to make another arc.

I also got my packing done for this week's trip to New Orleans.  We were a little worried that there would be a tropical storm while we are there, but it looks like that's moved east.  Good for us, bad for places that are still saturated from the last hurricane.  Another chance to wear my new clothes.  And, they're all ironed and folded and ready to go.

Tonight is guild and I am going to do my best to make it.  I haven't been to a guild meeting since Linda went into hospice and I miss them.  I miss being around the other quilters.  And, I have show and tell to take. 

Everybody have a great Monday.  I hope you get more time to sew than I did and that you enjoy it at least as much as I did.  Needles away!!



Who is that man?

I am returned from New Orleans.  It was a good trip.  I still can't decide whether my boss doesn't like me, or whether he's just so different from me that I can't tell that he likes me.  But, it was just the two of us and I really let him get to know who I am.  I was honest, open, frank, funny, decisive, and I talked about my family and who we are and who I am.  If he don't like me now, it's his problem.  I even told him the odyssey of buying new clothes for the trips this week and next week.

On Wednesday, I got to wear my fancy new clothes.  Look at the perfect hem in those pants!

Not too bad for an old guy, right?  Of course, I walked out of the hotel and into the New Orleans humidity and every crease I had so carefully ironed in smoothed out.  But, so what.  I looked good and I felt good.  That's better dressed than I've been in a while.  And, it made me feel pretty. 

I also ran into this man in the airport on my way out on Tuesday.

This is Beto O'Rourke, Texas Senate hopeful, waiting in the airport for his flight.  He flew Southwest, which boards in (mostly) the order you check in for your flight.  He boarded somewhere around group A, number 50, which kind of surprised me (on my flight yesterday, I boarded A56).  He didn't take advantage of his fame to board earlier than the regular folk.  And, there is no first class on Southwest...I've only run into politicians in first class (remind me to tell you about managing to accidentally bump a Texas congressman with everything I carried onto a flight as I passed through first class...it really irritated him and is one of my happiest memories, mostly because it really was a happy accident).  Love him  or hate him, you cannot deny that he has excited the Texas Democratic party like no one since Ann Richards.  I walked up to him and stuck my hand out and greeted him and thanked him for giving us a voice again.  My voice cracked and I became emotional and a tear slid down my cheek.  And, he took my hand in both of his (damn that man got some big hands) and he held onto me longer than necessary and looked me in the eye with concern and asked if I was okay and thanked me for being a part of his campaign.  The lady that shook his hand before mine had an accent and said this was going to be her first time to vote since becoming a citizen and it was so she could vote for him.  She was as emotional as me.  How wonderful to be a man that sparks that much enthusiasm.  Win or lose, he's put something in motion that I don't think will stop at the end of this election cycle.

Okay, so how about a big shout out to Cajun food.  I picked the restaurant that my boss and I went to on Tuesday night.  I don't think it was exactly the kind of place he was used to eating.  It was loud and the food was good and I needed more than one napkin because you got to peel shrimp with your hands...and I was amused to watch my boss peel his with a knife and fork...and he was very adept at it.  But, it was out of place where we were.  And, I sopped up the extra sauce on my plate with a big old hunk of crusty French bread and he commented on how I cleaned my plate...he never touched one thing he ate with his fingers.  So sad.

On Wednesday, I was alone and this is what I ate.  Shrimp and grits in a bacon flavored tomato based sauce with okra. 

My appetizer was pimento caprese, slices of fried green tomato with a home made spicy pimento cheese to spread on them.  Good lawd that was good food! So much better than what I get when my northern friends pick the restaurant. 

My co-worker and I have been tasked with picking the restaurants for next week.  She's from Cleveland.  We have different goals.  She wants to impress our higher ups.  I want to eat good food...the kind you got to get your hands messy to eat right.  The kind they can get in Cleveland (I know, what's the point of travel, right?)  I've pretty much given up and am letting her take over.  It's just not worth trying to change her mind. 

My theory is if they want to eat with me, then they can go where the food is good and have a couple drinks and laugh a lot.  And, if they want to take me to dinner, then they can do the work of finding a place to eat, with piped in violin music and white table linens.  Whatever.  I'm probably still going to use my hands and maybe even need a second napkin.

Everybody have a great weekend!  We will be doing a little bit of cleaning and chores.  But, mostly, I plan to sew.  And, spend some time in my wild, overgrown garden.  The rain was good, but it made all things grow.  Even the things I didn't particularly want to grow.



After the show

I worked take down at the show yesterday afternoon.  And, like the day I volunteered to hang quilts, I am sore all over.  It's a lot of work, but the show was down in a little over and hour and a half and I collected my quilts and was home a little later and reading the judges feedback.  It was good feedback, but I received feedback on Half That that there were exposed fabric edges that should have been enclosed in seams.  We can't find them, but I guess that separates someone that's been looking at the quilt for two years from a judge.  All the other feedback was wonderful and I am so proud. 

This is a very talented guild, so it was hard to pick quilts to show.  I'll have to split the pics of my favorites into a few posts. 

This quilt won Best of Show.  And, you can certainly see why.  It was professionally quilted by a wonderful long arm quilter who definitely set the piecing off with some fabulous quilting. 

The guild did a mini show last year of quilts that the guild members voted on and then the quilts were displayed at the show.  This was a one of the minis.  You can estimate its size based on a comparison to the size of the ribbon.  I work small, but not that small

This quilt won Second place in its category, but a Judges Choice award and Best Machine Quilting award. 

Rob and I both loved this quilt and the messages it conveyed.  The name was I Still Embrace All The Good Things.  What an appropriate title, right?  Blow up the pictures if you can and read the messages in the quilt.  This quilt won Viewer's Choice.  And, you can see why.  Even if you don't agree with the messages, you have to admire the workmanship and the originality. 

This was a Dear Jane, done in two fabrics.  Can't tell, right?  But, look at the second picture.  I thought this was a very unique idea. 

Loved this applique quilt.  A friend made this one and she was very proud of the ribbon.  She does wonderful needle turn.  We were in a bee together and I got to watch her work.  Such patience. 

These next two pictures are the same quilt.  If the sign had not told us it was a two sided quilt, I would have thought it was two quilts and when we were at the show on Saturday, so did a LOT of people. 

This one caught my eye.  You can see why.  Again, color and workmanship.  I want to ask how long that took.  But, I know I'll never be able to focus on one project that long. 

This is me, walking around with my ribbons pinned on.  The guild offers the ribbon that hangs from the quilt and a smaller version to wear.  I looked like a Mardi Gras float.

This was the guild's Raffle Quilt and the inspiration for the show name, World of Color.  Again, you can see why.  

Okay, so that's enough for today.  There will be more posts with pictures from the show.  And, Rob will be posting his video walkthrough when he has time and you'll get to see a lot more of the quilts there.  I did pretty good at the vendor's booths.  I bought one piece of fabric that I'll mention below and 7 fat quarters; four of which have a specific project, and the other three were just for fun.  I spent my money on tools and one pattern (for a Christmas quilt of all things...what was I thinking?)  I bought one of the really large rectangular ironing board toppers and the cover to go with it and I bought a beautiful wood turned combination seam ripper and stiletto.  It was more than I usually spend at a show, but what the heck...I'm worth good tools, right?  And, picking out seams is such an awful task that it's better done with a nice tool, so I consider that well worth it.  And, the Hoffman vendor did the nicest thing.  In exchange for getting to tell that all three of my winning quilts were made with Hoffman Wool Batting, she gave me a lap size silk batting to try.  She didn't have them for sale and had to go to her car to get it.  You'll have to watch for my review of that.  There certainly will be one. 

I came home so inspired that I've already started my quilt for the next show.  So, you'll have to stay tuned to see what that's going to turn into.  These sections are just from a couple of colors that I cut really quickly.  It's going to have all six basic colors, in every shade I have them in, grading as they move along the section.  If one color starts in dark, then the corresponding color starts in light and as they move to the right, they reverse so that at the other end, they are the opposite.  And, I bought a fabric that I'll be pulling them all together with and that I'll use on the back.  This morning, I started pulling and cutting yellows, greens and oranges.  And, all the fabrics I'll use in these sections are coming from my scraps.  I'm planning it to be a scrap buster, but it's not busting many scraps.  At least not yet, but it's got 1200 spikes, so maybe a little early to estimate how much scrap it will bust. 

Everybody have a great week!  I'm off to New Orleans tomorrow for a meeting.  But first, I need to pick up my new glasses.  I broke my most recent pair and the ones I'm wearing are two years old and I can't push them up on my face far enough to see out of them good anymore.  It is time.

Be well.