Percolating along

Does anybody else remember people saying that when things were normal?  'How are you?'  'Percolating along.'  That's what it feels like now.  Just percolating along, getting things done.  Feeling calm and safe.  No highs, no lows.  Centered.

I went to my phone this morning to see what I'd taken pictures of this week to share.  And, there were just two, so I hurried around to find something to talk about.  You all know that I'm not taking on any new projects right now.  I have plenty of irons in the fire; quilting the falling leaves quilt, knitting a sweater, a half finished Linus afghan, and my normal working and cooking and cleaning.  Somehow, I managed to make time for all that last week, plus work on the new project I'm not starting yet.  

I finished the Daisy block from Ruby McKim's Flower Garden quilt.  I say finished, but let's not count on that yet.  I'm not very happy with the flowers.  If I hadn't done anything, they'd have been plain white blobs with a few French knots, and they didn't look very good.  So, I added some lines in brown perma-pen and a lot more French knots.  And, I'm still not sure I'm happy with it.  I'm thinking about taking some white fabric and cutting some petals and appliquéing them in, over the white background.  I've come up with a couple ways I could do that without having to completely remove the flowers and start over.  But, don't count on that either.  It's going to depend on how this block goes with the other blocks where every petal is a separate piece of fabric.  

I took most of Becky's online class again.  I only had access for 2 weeks and Saturday morning, about 9am, they cut me off.  But, I was so inspired that I started the Daffodil block and ordered some appliqué supplies, including good lightweight thread.  I went through my thread and found about a dozen spools that would work, but that wasn't much variety, so I bought a set of multi colored bobbins to go with it and some better pins than I'm using now.  

I should have everything I'll need on hand when I finally get around to starting this project...because I don't have time to start a new project right now.  No matter how much it looks like I've started one.

Honestly, the distraction is doing me good.  Who cares if I have 57 projects started and another 57 on the list I'd like to do.  It keeps me from focusing on the negative stuff in the world.  There's a lot to be said for sitting and sewing or working in the garden and feeling calm doing it.  

In lieu of pictures of anything else, I decided to show what's hanging on the wall.  We keep a seasonal rotation of quilts on the wall and these are some of the winter quilts.  

This is a kimono quilt I made many years ago.  I had fat eighths of actual kimono fabric that was passed down by my mentor and I used them to make the kimonos.  I made two of these at the time and gave one away.  I get to regularly visit it.  They're both very fun quilts.  I was too cheap to buy the pattern, so I drafted the block and paper pieced it from that.  I did that a LOT in the early days.  I'll still draft a block if I need to.  Drafting blocks is a very handy skill.

This is the Indian Orange Peel quilt.  The pattern is from Karen Kay Buckley.  I did NOT  re-draft this pattern.  I bought the printed papers and paper pieced it.  After I peeled the paper off the back of this, I really worked to perfect my freezer paper piecing method where you don't sew through the paper, which makes it much easier to remove and I can re-use the paper for about 5 blocks.  When Karen spoke at the guild, I took this quilt for show and tell.  She must have seen her fill of them because she didn't look up to check it out.  But, when she showed a picture of hers in her presentation, I know everybody was thinking about mine.  My mentor and I made this quilt together.  I don't know if she ever finished.  Her focus changed from quilting to gardening around that time.  

And, this quilt is hanging over the fireplace, which we don't use often.  I made this after a class with Sally Collins on miniatures.  The center block has hundreds of pieces in it and the book it came from said not to try to make it smaller than a 28ish inch block.  Of course, I had to cut that in half because the pattern said not to.  Sometimes, I'm real big on doing what I'm not supposed to.  I got in trouble for that when I was a kid, but as an adult, it's mostly led me on some fantastic adventures.  I made the center block and put it on point and made the borders, inspired by a couple of Sally's quilts.  I love this one.  And the quilting in it is fantabulous!  

The president spent the weekend working in his office and going to church.  He didn't call anybody a disparaging name.  Think about that for a minute.  

I cried from 10:30-11:30 on Wednesday.  I am not at all ashamed of it.  I walked away from my desk, didn't pretend to work, and I watched good happen on TV.  Never discount normal behavior.  There's so much to be said in favor of it.  

Everybody have a great week!!  Lane


The week, in review

Feels like every post is a week in review post these days.  Last week, I made the tough decision to have the passenger side of my car repainted.  None of the guys that wrote up estimates (I shopped around) thought my 8 year old Prius was worth the cost, but the clear coat was peeling off the car like a sunburn and I wasn't interested in driving around in a car that looked like that (pride is an expensive sin).  And, I certainly am not ready to buy a new car.  Later.  Closer to retirement.  But, not now.  So, I took it to the body shop I chose, partly because they're a partner of the insurance company I work for and I know how hard it is to earn that partnership.  They had it all week, and I picked it up Friday, so happy that it was done and that I could afford to make that choice.  But, when I got home, I found a big chunk knocked out of the part of the car they didn't paint, and the corresponding chunk knocked out of the hatchback they did paint.  Apparently the hatchback reinstall didn't go that well.  There are other issues as well, so today, we go back to the shop to ask what happens now.  I hate that part of adulting...the part where I have to use my voice to get what I want.  

Even though I hardly go anywhere, it was hard to know I was here without a car and couldn't go somewhere if I wanted to.  

I'm about 20% done quilting the Falling Leaves quilt.  I picked my corner, sat down and did it in a long stretch of quilting that included some picking out...oops!  I thought I was more warmed up than I actually was when I put the quilt in the machine.  It's going to be a beautiful quilt.  I've noticed that when I quilt the wind pattern, I tend to drift right, so no matter how much progress I want to make down the left side, I'll get some stitching in, but before I know it, I've moved back over to the right edge.  

This quilting motif is so forgiving.  I saw a hundred mistakes when I was quilting, but when I step back, I only see a couple of small spots I didn't work my way into and fill with quilting.  I've marked them with pins so I can find them again.  

 I've spent a lot of time knitting.  I don't know what to say.  I look at it and can hardly believe I did that.  Twice, I've decided to take it apart and start over and both times, I've spread it out and looked it over and changed my mind.  Bunched up on my needles, I see what looks like so many errors.  But, when it's spread out, like it's going to be when it's done, I have a hard time finding them, and talk myself out of taking it apart.  There are two small errors that are always going to be visible and I'd have to take out several inches of knitting to get to them.  They're both low, on the back side, and I'm okay with having two small errors there.  Hopefully, if they're looking that low on my backside, it's not the sweater they're looking at.  😆

I am not officially picking up a new project because I need a new project like I need a new hold drilled in my head.  But, I did some prep work for an appliqué flower block from the Ruby McKim Flower Garden quilt.  In the quilt's numbering sequence, the first block is supposed to be the lilac...and, no.  Each flower of the block is made individually and just, NO.  Not, going to be my first block.  I picked the daisy.  I'm using a tan background that's supposed to look like aged parchment.  My pieces are cut and traced, but I'm not starting a new project.  All together now.  I'm not starting a new project.  

Honestly, yesterday morning was a hard morning.  I was very anxious and I needed a distraction, and that's what prepping these pieces gave me.  Something new to think about.  I also baked bread and scones and made home made sweet and sour sauce as prep for tonight's dinner.  I knitted a while and I also took a nap, which is very unusual for me.  Having time off for the holidays has surely got me thinking about retirement.  

Everybody knows what week it is.  Taking away the orange's bullhorn certainly has made things quieter and it would appear that, plus the arrest of his most violent followers toned down the violence a good bit.  I think that's a good thing.  It's not so easy to be the chest thumping, screaming traitor when it results in jail time.  As Thomas Paine says, "summer soldiers and sunshine patriots".  I don't believe they're done whining about 'losing so much, we're all sick and tired of watching them lose'.  (Sorry, couldn't help turning that quote around.)  Anyway, in a couple days, decency, honor, respect, constitutionality and TRUTH will be back in control.  We just need to get through the next couple days.  

Everybody have a good week!  I'll be glued to the tee-vee on Wednesday, watching good things happen.  Hope to virtually see you there.  



Life is full of surprises

 Lots of surprises last week, and not all of them pleasant.  Austin got snow, which is about as surprising as it gets around here.  I think the last time we had snow stick was 10 years ago.  It was falling fast and hard, but it was clumping into ice when it hit the ground.  The ground was well above freezing, and this morning, it's all gone. 

Yesterday, I took the Tile Tango class by Becky Goldsmith as part of a guild class.  I'll be real honest, I was not sure how it was going to go and had told Rob that I wasn't sure how long I'd stay.  It wasn't what I've come to think of as a traditional zoom class.  The class was pre-recorded, and we would meet up as a group about every hour, then go watch a section of video, then get back together.  As we learned to do, we did, so when the video was cutaway appliqué, I appliqued my cutaway stem.  And, when it was outer points, I did one of the flower petals.  And, the leaves were done during the video about inner and outer curves.  

The class actually started last week.  There were more than two hours of pre-work, and yes, I whined about spending all my free time last week preparing for class, including picking fabric (ugh, it took so long to pick such a small amount of fabric and I still didn't make very good choices).  Maybe if I'd done less grumbling and more applying myself to it, it would have been a more cheerful block.

Even taking pictures and replacing pieces, I couldn't quite get this block to come out right.  Here's an earlier version on a different background.  There's an orange and gold focus fabric in the top petal that I used to pick the other fabrics.  But, then it didn't seem to work in the block.  

Anyway, I'm too far in to be moving fabrics around.  I didn't think I'd like the forum of the class because there wasn't the constant conversation, getting to know another guild member that you randomly sat next to and asking the instructor about their background and lives, especially someone that's been well known for as long as Becky.  But, you know, I ended up enjoying the class.  Becky was funny and vibrant.  She had good stories and was very personable.  And, during the class, if we had a question, we had her phone number.  We could just call and get an answer.  Honestly, her videos were so instructive, I didn't have any questions.  And, we have access to the class videos for two weeks on Creative Spark online learning.  

I enjoy appliqué.  It's a TV watching activity like crochet and knitting, or hand sewing.  I took the class because I admire Becky and because I used a previous Piece o' Cake book to learn appliqué and make the Simply Delicious quilt.  I thought it would be a good thing to get the tips and tricks that aren't in a book and add some finesse to my work, which has been okay, but not really great, precise work.  It's good from a distance and my Simply Delicious lemon will make you think "lemon", but there are some appliqué artists that can make you think, smell and taste lemon when you see their work.  

This is the Simply Delicious quilt.  It doesn't have a label, but I think I finished it 3 or 4 years ago and if I'm not mistaken, I worked on it for 2 or 3 years before that.  It was an adventure.  One that I enjoyed sometimes.  And, when it wasn't fun, I'd put it away for a few months and go back to something else.  

I'd like for this to be my next appliqué project.  I bought the pattern quite a few years ago, when Simply Quilts was still on TV.  I saw that the San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles had reproduced the original newspaper patterns and even though it was hard to find, I ordered a set.  I've had them, waiting until I got around to an appliqué project.  I want to appliqué them onto a tan background and if I'm not mistaken, I already bought that and have it here...and could get started if I didn't have so many other irons in the fire.  

I got the Maple Leaf quilt borders attached and I got the whole thing pin basted.  I didn't realize that I have pins in two other quilts that remain unfinished and I had to use regular safety pins to baste most of this quilt.  I'm anxious to get started quilting this one.  Just over a month before I need it completed.  I can do this, I can do this, I can do this!

And, we had snow!  I know some of you will look at this and laugh, but here, it was a really big deal.  Imagine all the kids that saw snow yesterday for the first time.  


Just can't talk about the insurrection today.  Too many negative feelings.  I was neither shocked nor surprised.  Only dumbfounded that there weren't more deaths.  And, repelled by the knowledge that everybody is tiptoeing around instead of taking decisive action against an attempt to overthrow the government by a racist radical right wing mob.  There's another attack being planned.  

Everybody stay safe and be well.  Be kind, and in the words of RuPaul, "If you can't love yourself, then how in the hell are you going to love somebody else.  Can I get an amen up in here?"



Happy New Year

 Christmas is over, New Year's is over, tomorrow is the GA Senate runoff and Wednesday, congress counts the vote.  I can feel the stress melting away.  Next Sunday, I have a hand appliqué class with Becky Goldsmith.  It's a zoom class, and I'm looking forward to it.  I'm going to set up a spot in my comfy chair and hand stitch the day away.  (Don't tell her, but I haven't even begun to prepare for the class...oops!)

Rob was very sick until Wednesday, but then he started to feel better and by Thursday, he was taking down decorations and packing them away.  I didn't catch whatever he had and I am very, very glad.  I spent the week knitting, but more on that later. 

I wanted to talk about this quilt a little today.  I know it's a holiday quilt and the holidays are over, but there was so much else to talk about the last couple weeks, and I didn't get to this.  I made this quilt in 2011.  I was doing a lot of heavy filler quilting then.

Hopefully, you look at that and think that it's all the print of the fabrics...until you get close and see that the shapes are made from the quilting and filling in the backgrounds.   

I traced the images out of coloring books and enlarged them and traced again onto plain white paper, then quilted through that to get the images onto the fabric.  Then, I pulled the paper off and filled in the background with dense quilting.  The string of lights even has both plugs quilted into it.  

I filled the center blocks with Poinsettias that I echoed at 1/8" intervals to fill in.  The sashing between the blocks is covered in echoed holly leaves.

And, the outside border is filled with bows that I filled around with pebbles.    

It took thousands of yards of thread.  It was all cotton...silk was still out of my price range then.  I wish I'd kept up with how much.  The center with the 9 stars was from a picture of the block I saw that was made in three shades of green.  I'm drawn to that and have a few quilts that are made of multiple shades of green.  This one is a lot of fun and we hang it in the dining room every year.  It goes really well with the red, green and off white apple dishes in the china cabinet.

With Rob sick, I had several days to myself and spent them knitting and resting in case I got sick.  I started the sweater 5 times before I got it right.  It was a different cast on and I couldn't get it to work, so ended up using the method I'm familiar with and that worked perfect.  Then, I started the body three times.  Once, I got to row 12 and then had to pull it all out down to the ribbing.  This pattern is seamless and works the whole body at one time, from left front to right front.  I've got a lot of stitch markers in it to help me keep track.  Those markers can be a pain but  I had a few places where I crossed over the needle and accidentally created a stitch and all those stitch markers made them easy to find without having to pick out a row.  I'd like to say it's relaxing, and it is, but it's also very complicated and I can't just relax into the pattern and zone out yet.  Hopefully, I'll get there.    

Well, that's it for me, except to report that only one slice of cake was thrown away...I know that sounds like good news, but it's not...that means I ate most of a three layer cake, frosted with cream cheese and butter and sugar.  I have committed to not get on the scale until at least Jan 15.  Starting today, I'll be back on my regular schedule and there is hardly any junk food in the house.  That should help.  

Everybody have a great week!  It's the first week of the new year and anything is possible.  

Be well!  Lane