Wednesday, February 28, 2007

End of February/My Favorite Quilting Tool

It's the end of the second month of the year. Wow! Back on the January 1 I created an Excel workbook with three worksheets. One for tracking my projects, one for tracking time spent quilting (not counting reading quilt blogs or quilt magazines) and one for recording quilt expenses.

I didn't report my January totals because I wanted to make sure I could keep track of everything for more than one month. Well I've made it through two months so I'll report my totals. In January I spent $64.46 and in February I spent $142.99. Not bad in my book.

As far as time spent quilting in January I played and quilted for 26 hours. In February I enjoyed fabric and threads for 32 hours. That may not seem like a lot of time to some people, but for me it's quite a bit.

My favorite quilting tool is moleskin. I use it to mark the quarter inch line down the front of my sewing machine bed. I learned this tip in my first on-line quilt class. I used it for a while. Then I thought I was good enough at sewing that I didn't need it anymore. But I was wrong. So the moleskin now lives on the bed of me sewing machine. My quarter inch seams are much better now.

My sports depression period is over for this year. The Red Sox are playing the Twins in the first Spring Training game of the baseball season. The game is tied 4-4 in the bottom of the 9th inning and I'm too tired to stay awake.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

6-5-4-3-2-1 Challenge

I chose the six FQs I'm using for my Challenge. Mostly purples, three florals, a solid and two prints, some green for flair.

When I folded the FQs I folded them the long way instead of the short way. I was able to cut strips ranging in size from 1 inch to 6 inches. So I've officially named my challenge the 6-5-4-3-2-1 Challenge.

Tomorrow I'll cut the 6, 5, 3 and 2 inch strips into squares. For now it's bedtime.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Challenge Part 1

What kind of quilter are you? Do you have to follow the pattern to a "T"? Do you start a pattern, but tweak it along the way? Do you take a block design or two and create your own design?

I love the planning process of a quilt. I spend hours and hours planning a quilt. Some of the work I do with pencil and paper. Some of the work is done in Microsoft Excel. I probably spend more time planning a quilt than I do making the top. Being in the Stashbusters No Buy program has truly sparked my creative juices. I've started to think about blocks and designs to make with the fabric I do have rather than designing a quilt that requires me to buy fabric.

Perhaps it's a combination of wanting to "sew my quilt oats" plus not buying fabric that have led me to design a challenge for myself. But before I tell you what the challenge is I must give credit to four bloggers who have provided some thought provoking ideas and tutorials that have been whirling around in my quilt brain and have finally formed a plan.

First there's Finn at Pieces From My Scrapbag. She has written many entries lately about the dolly quilts she has been making as well as sharing photos from Small Endearments. I asked my DIL, who is a daycare teacher, if dolly quilts would come in handy at her daycare. She said dolly quilts would be cool to have for the kids. The appeal for me in making dolly quilts is that they are small enough to try a new block or techinque without having to commit to a larger project.

Next there's Dawn at Quilts and Pieces who posted a tutorial on the scrap projects she's been working on from 4 inch strips. I had decided that from now on when I'm cutting fabric from any of the large pieces I have I'm going to cut a 4 inch strip and do what Dawn is doing with her strips.

Darlene at Quilting Daze provided a tutorial on making four patches from nickel charms. She showed a quilt she is making from 16 patches made from those four patches. I have a drawerful of nickel charms and I thought I would have fun making four patches out of some of them.

Kim at Pieces of Old wrote a great entry about crossword puzzles, sudoku puzzles and charm square packs. She had an AHA! moment and commented she could make her own charm square packs. Now I'm sure everyone knows you can cut nickels, but have you ever thought about making a your own charm square pack, wrapping it with a pretty ribbon and setting it out on your sewing table or tucking it away and then finding it later and thinking "how cool it is to have a charm square pack."

The Challenge starts with choosing six FQs. I haven't chosen my FQs yet. I'll do it tomorrow. Each FQ will be into three 6 inch squares, four 5 inch squares, one 4 inch strip, seven 3 inch squares, leftovers will include a 1 x 4 inch strip, a 1 x 5 inch strip, and a 3 x 6 inch strip. Once the FQs are cut I'm going to stack them neatly, tie them up with a pretty ribbon, and place my "Charm Pack" on my corner shelf and wait it for to "age" for a week or two.

What’s next for the Challenge? I’m not sure. I want to enjoy seeing my Charm Pack for a while. I’m hoping the fabric will enjoy hanging out and will tell me when it is ready for play time.

I’ll be sure to post a photo of my FQs and my Charm Pack. Stay tuned.

Time Spent With Hubby

For once I didn’t stay home on Saturday. DH is going to be traveling at least 17 days in March (Germany, Texas twice and Atlanta). I told him we needed to spend a day together. So after my hair appt in the AM I picked him up and we went to Manchester. My favorite quilt shop stayed opened for me so I could purchase my May Shop Hop tickets. While I was waiting for Susan to fill out the Shop Hop passports I browsed her half-off book rack and found “Learn to Do Red Work, 77 Re-Creations of Antique Blocks”. Since I recently started playing with red work I thought this would be a fun book. DH came into the store with me and while I browsing the books, he was browsing the fabric. Next thing I knew he had found two fabric he liked and asked if I could make some placemats and potholders for the kitchen. How could I turn down such a sweet request? But because I like to work with at least three colors we spent another 20 minutes looking for fabric #3.

We spent a couple hours browsing a furniture store that was having a clearance sale and then a couple of clothing and shoe stores. I can’t believe how hard it is to find a black dress pumps that are wide, not pointy toed and comfortable. I’ve been looking for two months and finally found a pair. Thanks, DH for buying them for me.

The highlight of the day was dinner at Gauchos, a Brazilian restaurant. What’s so special about a Brazilian restaurant? There is no menu to order from. There is a salad bar and “gauchos” walk around the restaurant with grilled meats on huge skewers and slice and serve the meat to you at your table. Meat choices include two or three kinds of beef, pork, chicken, lamb, sausages. Side dishes include potatoes, rice and fried plaintains. Of course there are some wonderful American desserts.

On our way home we stopped at Lowe’s for some home items (somehow not very romantic, but with DH on the road there are some items that need to be done before he leaves). While we were there I grabbed some paint chip cards. If you haven’t read the newest Quilter’s Home magazine or been in a paint dept lately you can now get paint chip cards that have complementary, monochromatic and analogous colors on them. How do you use them in quilting? Well take the paint chips to the LQS and buy fabrics that match the colors. What a cool way to match colors. I’m going to use them when I go on my Shop Hop in May to pick fabrics.

Today is laundry day and maybe some time in my sewing room or maybe some red work.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Another Five Weird Things

Carole tagged me for 5 weird things about me. I wrote about this in October and you can read it here.

So let me list 5 more weird things about me:
  1. I'm not a fan of mystery quilts anymore. When I first started quilting I made four different mystery quilts. I love all of them. I've figured out I don't like following quilt directions so trying to follow someone else's directions and not knowing what was going to happen is no fun for me.
  2. DH is 12 years younger than me. When we met my sons were teenagers and I told my DH that I was done having children. He's never been married and knew he would never have children so he was OK with not having children. Also, if you didn't already know, I work in a family business with DH, 4 BIL's and my FIL. I am the only DIL who works for the company.
  3. I've always dreamed of being teacher. But lately I've been training many new people at work and I'm discovering that I don't always have enough patience to teach someone. Not a good trait for a teacher.
  4. The only way I eat eggs is in an omelet with lots and lots of veggies, cheese and a dollop of sour cream.
  5. When I want to eat buttered toast I have to toast the bread and let it cool a little. I don't like my butter to melt on the toast, but I want the toast crunchy and the butter creamy.
If you haven't been tagged for 5 weird things then consider doing it. It's a fun exercise.

My foot is all better today. Woohoo! I guess the bag of Garden Vegetables and a good night's sleep helped.

Tonight we are supposed to get a little snow, just a little. I truly hope we get one more good snowstorm before winter ends. If not I'm going to be cranky all summer!

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Water Damage Update

Thanks for all the words of encouragement about the water damage. The maintenance supervisor came over yesterday afternoon to inspect our condo and the HVAC system upstairs. He discovered the condensation pan was full of water (48 hours later). He told us they would have to call the plumber to fix the HVAC. He thought the system had already been fixed since we have a smaller leaking problem previously. He also said that once the HVAC is fixed they will replace all the wall damage and any other damage they might find when they remove the drywall.

No specific timetable yet on repairs; but you can bet I won’t let them take too long! I can only handle a sewing room in disarray for so long, along with my supplies in the dining room, in the living room, you get the picture.

I'm off to take some pain meds and climb into bed. I was taking a letter out to the mailbox and the heel of my shoe got caught between some bricks. The shoe got left behind and I bent my toes and the top of my foot! I twisted my knee a little too! No broken bones, but I am hurting now. DH just looked at my foot and determined I need some ice so he got a Garden Vegetables from the freezer and put it on my foot. Now I'm freezing!

Monday, February 19, 2007

My Day Off

Finally heard from the landlord this morning. He thinks there is a problem with the HVAC system that is installed in the toe wall on the third floor. The first time we had a leak it was in the condensation pan of the HVAC, but they are thinking the problem has returned – only worse. The more I thought about it I began to wonder if this problem could also explain why me heating bill was extra high this past month (the highest we’ve every had) and the heating fan in the common hallway has been running nearly all the time the last few weeks.

The landlord will have his maintenance manager come and evaluate the system tomorrow. If the problem is the HVAC system they will have to make those repairs (or whatever repairs need to made) then they will have to replace the walls that have been damaged. There may also be some sub-floor and carpeting to be replaced. It looks like my sewing room is going to be a mess for a few weeks.

This is what my sewing table looks like right now including the little bit of sewing space I've allowed myself at the moment. I'm re-evaluating how I was using the closet as storage space. The closet was already overflowing, not with fabric as much as batting, project containers, completed tops and two small bookcases filled with stuff.

While cleaning out my sewing closet yesterday I found a pattern I thought I had given away. It is the pattern for my Quilters Necessary Wallet I made last fall. I wanted to make myself the small one and hadn't been able to find the pattern. This morning I pulled the fabric (and got to use scraps in the process). From start to finish it took me about two hours to make this wallet. I love it!

I decided that since I have been in the house since Friday night (other than a one hour trip to the LQS) and I'm stressed over my sewing room I needed some retail therapy. I went to the LQS to buy the rest of the fabric I need for my Depression blocks. Then I went to Home Depot to buy a water filter for the fridge and to get some storage ideas. While I was there I grabbed a pamphlet with the official team color paint that Glidden makes and Home Depot sells. I'm hosting a baseball block swap on my Quilting Sports and Friends Yahoo Group and needed to see all the team colors for the blocks. (If you like some info about my Baseball Block Swap just ask and I'll fill you in on the details. Next stop was Target. Nothing in particular to shop for but since it is next door to Home Depot I couldn't resist. I found this adorable light switch cover and couldn't resist - another $2.50 buy. The holes aren't placed properly, but one screw is holding up well. Of course, it's in my sewing room. It amazes me that I can spend so little money once in a while and be so satisfied with my purchases. It makes the bigger purchases I make feel better.

I worked some more on my Depression blocks this afternoon. I have enough HSTs made from 12 blocks. I only need to make another 64 HSTs. I don't mind making HSTs. It's kind of fun.

It's almost dinnertime. DH is grilling boneless ribeyes for dinner and there are baked potatoes and butternut squash roasting in the oven. Tonight we are going to watch Talladega Nights with Will Ferrell. Tomorrow it's back to work and I think for once I don't mind going to work.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Sewing Day Interrupted

I was happily working on my Football Depression blocks this morning while listening to Jesus Christ Superstar on my ITunes this morning. All of the sudden I could hear running water over the music. I was the only person in the building and I was nowhere near a faucet so I thought I was hearing things. I paused the music and could definitely hear running water. I walked out of the studio into the kitchen. Nope, no running there. Went into the bathroom. Nope, no running water there. Couldn't even hear the running water. Same thing in my bedroom. Went back into the studio and could most certainly hear running water.

That's when I noticed the water was running down the corner of the wall next to the closet in my studio! Now two weeks ago I had noticed some water damage on that same wall on a different corner. I called the landlord and told him about it. Today the damage is more extensive. The water probably ran for a solid 20 minutes. At one point I could see the water flowing on the outside of the wall! I called the landlord's emergency number and left a message. I called DH who was on his way home from Maine. Then I started cleaning out the closet!

The landlord hasn't called back today. Although we have spoken with his wife. My quilt studio is in total disrepair. And I'm cranky! I love our apartment and have told the landlord we want him to turn it into a condo. But I'm tired of the problems we've had with water leaks. This is the fourth time in four years we've had water leaks. Our landlord keeps saying he intends to replace the roof. But he hasn't done it yet. He'd better do it soon. I would hate to have move out because of ongoing water leaks and the potential health problems that could arise from them.

I did manage to get some quilting done. I've finished over half of the HST's I need for my Football Depression quilt. I had to move the ironing board into the living room since the studio was crowded, but there was no way I wasn't going to keep sewing. I needed to sew to keep from blowing up! When I couldn't do any more work on the Depression blocks I did some more work on my red work alphabet.

Tomorrow DH and I have the day off. I won't be able to get a lot of sewing done. Maybe I'll just have to do some other cleaning or perhaps go shopping. Whatever we end up doing you can bet speaking with the landlord is my #1 priority.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Inspiration Project

I started and completed a wall hanging top today. The name of the quilt is: It All Started With A Tie. Here’s the story behind it:

On Thursday I was sitting in a meeting with DH and FIL. The meeting was at a dull moment and I started looking at DH’s tie. I was also daydreaming about what quilting project I would work on this weekend. I remembered DH has a tie that I always thought would make a great quilt block. I resolved that on Saturday morning I would dig through DH’s ties, find the tie in question and recreate it.

Well, yesterday DH came out of our bedroom with that tie on! I hadn’t told him what I was planning to do so it was a pure coincidence he was wearing it. I started to laugh and had to tell him what I had been thinking about the tie. Last night I chose my fabrics and this morning I started working on the top. I was able to complete it. Tomorrow I hope to try machine quilting it so I can get it done.

I’ve started a new quilt with my football nickel winnings. I’ve been eyeing the Depression block on some blogs I’ve been reading and have been trying to figure out how to use it. Today the inspiration hit. I have some tan fabric with color flecks in it. Mmmmm . . . I thought it would be great for tying together my football nickels. More thought . . . I’m going to make Depression blocks with the cream fabric and the nickels. I’m going to call this quilt Football Depression 2007. I finished one block today and have a good start on the remaining HSTs.

My DIL spent the day quilting too. More appropriately she spent five hours cutting fabric for next quilt. She’s making All About Me by Atkinson Designs. I don’t recall spending five hours cutting fabric, but this pattern does have a lot of cutting. Sure opened my eyes to looking at quilt patterns before starting them.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

I hope everyone had a Happy Valentine's Day. I did. DH told me he ordered the blizzard for me for Valentine's Day. Isn't he silly? I think so.

We went to the office early today and left at noon. We sat on the couch all afternoon flipping from decorating show to poker show to decorating show while watching and listening to the blizzard outside. The wind was blowing up the street on the side of the house. We could hear the sleet hitting against the side windows and in our bedroom. Here is a picture of the snow from our front window around the height of the storm. I love to see how much snow builds up on the lamp post. It didn't last long once the wind started kicking up.

Tonight we went for a short walk to check on our car. We park in a public lot and wanted to be make sure we wouldn't be plowed in tomorrow morning. It has started to sleet and the sleet hitting my face was a bit painful. Here is a picture of the snow drift outside our front door built up by the road plows and sidewalk plows. I'm sure it will be a bigger by morning.

When I posted my Junior year of quilting plans in September one of the plans was to work on my Triple Irish Chain during snow time. Well, this is the first snow storm of the winter. Even though I came home early from work today I still spent the afternoon working. About 5 PM I said, "I'm done with work. I need to work on my quilt." I went into my studio and put together four more blocks for the Irish Chain. I've decided to leave the project box out so I can keep on working on the project. I doubt there will be enough snow storms to finish the quilt so I'm hoping by leaving the box out I will make a block or two now and then and soon the quilt will be finished.

Tomorrow is back to work, but at least I only have two more work days and then a three day weekend. We don't have any big plans for the weekend. DH is going to visit a friend on Saturday afternoon. I may go shopping with DIL. I gave her gift certificate to the LQS for her birthday and she hasn't spent it yet. Other than that we're just going to hand out and relax.

It's A Blizzard!

Woohoo! Just a quick note this early morning. We are having a blizzard here today! Our first snow storm of the year and it's a blizzard! I have to go to the office today just because I forgot my power cord! :( I do have work to do too. I only wish the storm had come on the weekend so I can play in my studio.

It's too dark for pictures yet, but I'll have some to post later today. I'm off to make cinnamon rolls for breakfast for my Valentine sweetie.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Sunday, February 11, 2007

A Happy Weekend

DH made yesterday a "Teddy-tate" day for me. That's a day when he lets me do what I want to do, when I want to do it, even if all I do is vegetate. He cooked lunch, cleaned up the kitchen from lunch and then cooked dinner (bacon cheeseburgers and crispy french fries - my request). I only had to clean up the dinner mess last night and that was because I did it before he could.

How did I spend my Teddy-tate day? First I finished up six bindings I am donating to Cricket and Nancy for HeartStrings quilts. I finished my siggie blocks. I was able to use some of my 6 inch charm squares and leftover cream fabric for the blocks. I'm happy with how they turned out. Then I started working on my red work “A” block from Bobby Socks.

Today was a day for me to play. First I made a small notions bag for my hand quilting tools. I had made a similar one before Christmas and use it for my binding tools. But I wanted another one. I pulled a FQ out of my stash and had a bag done in about 15 minutes. I wanted to be able to close it so I cut 48 inch strips of yellow, purple and green ribbon and braided the strips together and made it into a pull string.

Then I got the crazy idea of making Valentine postcards for my parents. I had some Valentine fabric I bought last year so I decided to use some of that. In the process of making the cards I decided to give machine quilting a try. I put the darning foot and plate on my Janome and gave it a whirl. Wow! How much fun I had! I don’t know what I was afraid of – maybe messing up???? Anyway I finished three postcards – one each for mom and dad and one extra one for DH’s office.

I wasn’t ready to quit playing in my studio since I was home alone so I pulled out my nickel charm drawer and spent some time trying to find a combination of nickels that looked like fun. Nothing was jumping out at me. I started rummaging through my other charm drawers and found a packet of Northcott Heaven Can Wait charms I received from a friend. I thought about starting another quilt with them and found a pattern to use them, but decided to wait another day to start a new project. Instead I pulled out my Triple Irish Chain I’m making with Jinny Beyer fabrics and put together one more 49 patch block. 18 blocks down and 14 more 49 patch blocks to make.

Now I’m relaxing and finishing up the laundry. Tomorrow it’s back to the dreaded office.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Happiness for $2

As I said in my previous post I've had a miserable two weeks. Today I couldn't stand it anymore. The office was quiet with DH and FIL out of town so I decided to go shopping on my lunch hour. I seldom leave the office during the day and even less often go shopping.

I wasn't sure where I was going shopping, but knew I had to go somewhere. I got in my car and started driving toward the mall. I pulled into the grocery store parking lot and parked the car. Next to the grocery store is an A.C. Moore (similar to Michael's). It's been ages since I've been in a craft store so I decided to check out the place.

I wandered around the store. Way in the back of the store where they sell their needle work supplies there was a display of fat quarters. I dug through the fabric and found three cute ones. I figure I can use them for some play time this weekend.

In the next aisle I found a small section of quilting notions. The usual suspects: needles, rotary cutters, a few mats, scissors. But tucked among the gadgets were these Threader & Cutters. I bought a package of these 18 months ago and absolutely fell in love with them. I have lost one of them and have been trying to find more for several months. I was so excited to find them that for few seconds I thought about buying all the packages. But I quickly decided on only one package. After all I have a source for them now.

I left the store smiling. Probably the first time this week I've smiled. Isn't amazing how $2 can bring a smile to your face? Just like when you were a child and you opened a birthday card and found $2 inside. That's what I felt like.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

I'm Still Here!

I can't believe I haven't posted in over a week! When I stopped to think about what I've been doing this is what I came up with:

I've only had one day off in the last week - that was Saturday. I spent the morning working on my quilting for others projects. I made binding for HeartStrings quilts. I also started my siggie blocks for the Blog Swap. Saturday night we went to see Rod Stewart in concert with my MIL and SIL. Wow! What a great concert! He can still sing and move and make my heart go pitter-patter.

Every other day this past week I've been working 10 - 11 hours a day, including 10 hours on Sunday while sitting on the couch watching golf and the Super Bowl. My job is starting to get the best of me and I'm getting very frustrated. It's a not a job I would have chosen for myself when I was younger and I want to move on - either to another position in the company or a new job somewhere else. I'm trying to figure out how to have that kind of conversation with DH and my FIL. Since I work in the family business this conversation can be very tough to have.

Anyway, enough gloom and doom about my work schedule. This weekend I'm looking forward to spending more time in my quilt studio. I want to finish my siggie blocks and start working on my red work alphabet. I also want to start working on my gifts for the quilt retreats I'm going to attend in April and June.

I'm off to get caught up on everyone's blogs I see my list off unread entries is way too long.