Monday, April 30, 2007

I Had A Glorious Weekend

This past weekend I attended our Quilt Pocket Jamboree at the Heritage Hotel & Conference Center in Southbury, CT. This is the first time I have spent four days with quilters and all I can say is WOW! What a great weekend I had. I came home with way more items than I left with and I didn't spend a lot of money! Here are the goodies that came home with me.

First up - I'm always kidding DH that he needs to stop bringing home bags from the conferences he attends. Well, now he can kid me about bags. I came home with four new bags. Three were gifts and one came from a quilt shop we visited.

We did an Ugly Fabric Swap. Everyone started with one yard of ugly fabric. We tore it half, tossed half on our shoulder and passed half around the circle while music was playing. When the music stopped we tore the piece we had in our hands in half, tossed half on our shoulder and started passing the remaining piece around. We repeated this process several times. When we were down to a piece about 8 x 8 inches we took the first half yard of fabric and gave it to the person on our left. The fabric we had became our ugly fabric collection and our challenge is to make something out of all the fabrics. My collection is below. I actually like the brown teacup fabric. I don't know what I'm going to make yet.

Everyone brought a gift for everyone else. Here are some of the gifts I got. There's a Moda travel bag, a beverage wrap, needle book, two scissor fobs, a small holder for needle and thread, a needle case and a small wallhanging.

Here's the patterns I now have to work on. I'm excited about these patterns. The stitchery pattern is a Brownwyn Hayes pattern. I love the coffee cup pattern. The redwork patterns will go well with my redwork alphabet blocks.

One of the women gave everyone a pillowcase. She also had me as a teacup swap partner so I got two. Aren't they gorgeous?

Another women gave us teddy bear panels with coordinating strips to make a wallhanging. These will look good in my kitchen.

Here are the books I brought home. I won the Quilts, Quilts, Quilts book. The other books I bought. Triangles on a Roll was only $5. It's full of designs for using TOARs. I'm excited to try some of them. The Empty Nesters Cookbook is just what I've been looking for since DS moved out. It's hard to cook for two. And I couldn't turn down the Coffee Cafe book. It's chock full of coffee history and recipes.

The next two pictures show the fabric I received. There's an assortment of FQs, nickel squares, 6 inch squares and some scraps. The multi-colored item in the bottom left is a bookmark. It has coins in it to act as weights to hold the book open. The sports fabric will make a great wall hanging or baby quilt.

And, last, but no least, here are the rest of the goodies: two coffee cups, a magnetic pin dish, chimes, a note holder, pin cushion, glass wrap, small journal, sticky notes, a Canada pencil, a paperweight, a quilter's pin and a Dunkin Donuts gift card.

To say I am overwhelmed at the generosity of quilters is an understatement. I would never have imagined I would receive all these wonderful gifts.

Tomorrow I will share photos and stories of what we did.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

I'm Off For the Weekend

I'm off tomorrow for our Quilt Pocket Jamboree in Southbury, CT. Four days with 17 quilters, including two from Australia. I'm lucky that I can drive there in my car Caliber instead of flying. A lot less hassle for me. DH is off to Dubai tomorrow so our house will be nice and quiet.

I'll be back on Monday with lots of tales and lots of pictures, I'm sure.

Have a great weekend and I hope you find plenty of time for quilting and playing.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Cutting, Cutting and More Cutting

I've spent my quilting time this weekend cutting fabric. I have depleted my stash by nearly 12 yards of fabric. I've cut:
* 60 - 8x8 inch squares for a swap using up 3 yards of fabric
* 50 – 2.5 inch strips that were cut into half strips for another swap using up 3.5 yards of fabric
* 270 nickel squares for gifts at the quilt gathering I’m going to next weekend using up 5.25 yards of fabric

This morning I cut all the pieces I need for my 365 Challenge quilt.

My studio is in a little bit of disarray as I am getting ready to spend next weekend with 17 members of one of my on-line groups. I have some gifts to wrap. Swaps to get in the mail. Projects to pack to bring along next week. I am so ready for a few days off. I've spent more hours working lately than I care to remember or admit to.

Yesterday was a beautiful day here in New England. DH and I walked around downtown Dover and ate lunch on the deck of one of the restaurants. We poked around in a couple of the shops that carry antique furniture and found these wood double folding chairs. How cool! We bought two of them. We are going to paint one of them in Red Sox red and the other in New England Patriots blue. We may try to find decals to put on them too. They are cool. I can't wait to refinish them. They will be a neat addition to the sports room we'll have some day soon.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Going To Oregon

We have planned our vacation this summer and we are going to Oregon again. We loved Oregon so much when we there in 2005 that we decided to go back and explore another part of the state.

We fly into Portland on Monday, August 6 and are driving to Skamania Lodge for evening of indulgence - a massage, dinner and a night of rest. On Tuesday we are headed to Sunriver Resort in Bend. DH won a four day, three night vacation package that includes a round of golf, a couple spa treatments and a canoe float. Of course, a day trip to Sisters for me is included too.

On Friday we are headed back to Portland to stay at the Marriott Waterfront until we leave on Tuesday morning. I think we will check out Bite of Oregon that is happening that weekend.

Anyone want to hang out with me for a couple hours while I'm there? DH is very understanding when it comes to meeting my on-line quilt friends.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

The 365 Challenge

Are you joining in Leanne's 365 Challenge? It seems many of us are going to be journaling our way through a quilt over the next year. A Yahoo group has been formed for people working on the Challenge. Feel free to join us. Just click on the link in my sidebar.

I purchased my fabrics yesterday with a gift cheque from my boss. Ignore the wrinkles in the photo. I've washed the fabric, but haven't ironed it yet. I may also use fabric leftover from DH's Egyptian cotton dress shirts. That would be a nice touch, don't you think? I know I have a Bust Stash button on my side bar, but I don't have any neutrals in my stash so I had to buy the fabric. It won't even make it into my stash!

I bought Pigma pens the other day for another project and I finally found Reynolds freezer paper at my local butcher shop. A shop I'm in at least once a week and never thought to look for the paper in it!

Tonight I'm enjoying the company of DS and DIL. Tomorrow night I will probably cut fabric while watching the first Red Sox - Yankees game of the baseball season. DH will be home from Shanghai sometime around midnight. Saturday he will probably spend the day catching up on sleep while I get ready for my quilt gathering next weekend.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Coming Up For Air and Thinking Blogger Award

I had one long, mentally exhausting week this past week. 60 hours in 6 days! When I came home from work yesterday I nearly passed out on the couch waiting for DH to get home. I could hardly stay awake until 9 PM! That was tough because DH left this morning at 4 AM to fly to Shanghai. His first flight was from Boston to Chicago, then Chicago to Shanghai. The second flight is 15 hours! As I write this he is still in the air and has nearly 8 hours of flight time left!

So this morning I spent 4 hours working in my studio! I made myself this tote bag for carrying my redwork. The coffee cup was my first redwork piece. The coffee themed fabric has been hanging out in my stash waiting for the right project to come along and this is the perfect use for it.

I also made 6 coasters and cut some strips for a strip swap I'm in. After lunch and a nap I tried sewing the binding on some small gifts I'm making. After messing up two bindings I said enough was enough and stopped sewing for the day. The last couple hours I've been babysitting my 3 year old nephew and 8 month old niece. I offered to watch them so my BIL and SIL could have an "adult dinner". We've spent the time watching a Nickelodean cartoon DVD and Cars.

Darlene at Quilted Daze tagged a few days ago for a Thinking Blogger Award. I've been "thinking" about who I would like to tag and I have my list nearly complete. By tonight I am too tired to finish the list so I will tag some bloggers tomorrow. Thanks Darlene for mentioning me.

One last comment for tonight - have you heard about Leanne Beasley's 365 Challenge Quilt? This is a new project she showed on her blog and it's taken off with many bloggers. Be sure to check out the 365 Challenge tutorial on her blog. I think I'm going to take on the Challenge. Looks like a fun and unique way to record a year in my life.

The children have now left and it's getting late. We're in the middle of a Nor'easter. The rain and snow have been falling all day and the wind should starting kicking up shortly. It's going to be a long night and long day tomorrow since the storm will not end until late tomorrow. TTYL.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

How and Why I Started Quilting

I learned to quilt from my Irish grandmother when I was 13 years old. We used a cardboard template, probably a four-inch square to cut the fabric with fabric shears made for right handers (I'm left handed). I designed that first quilt on paper before we even bought the fabric. The quilt was made with red, yellow and blue calicoes and solid fabrics. Simple four patches in red, yellow and blue. Why these colors? Because these are the colors a baby sees first and this was a baby quilt. The patches were set diagonally, not on point, but in a diagonal line. I don't remember using batting. I do remember tying the quilt. I had hoped to find the quilt when we moved my parents out of their house last summer but didn't have any luck.

I didn't make another quilt until 2004. I was inspired by a quilt on my DH's aunt's bed. It is a postage stamp quilt made from the aprons her mother (DH's grandmother) wore to work at the brush factory in Springfield, MA. At that time I had been drawing/art lessons for two years trying to find my creative self. I wasn't finding my creativity with paint, pencils and paper. Yet, I was enthralled with that quilt. I couldn't stop thinking about it or about the quilt I made with my grandmother.

One afternoon I searched the internet for quilting classes hoping I could find close to home. Instead I found Quilt University. I signed up for the starter class and the rest is history. I have two first quilts. I made my first mystery quilt on New Year's Eve 2004. I completed the top by the end of January. It didn't get quilted and bound until August. I made it for DH using Red Sox and Patriots fabric. It was the first top I finished.

My other "first" quilt was also a mystery quilt. I consider it my other "first" quilt because I made it all in three weeks. I tied it and machine sewed the binding down. I made it between the time I made DH's quilt top and had it quilted. I made it for a co-worker who had trouble getting pregnant and was finally blessed with this adorable little girl. The snowball fabric is Winnie-The-Pooh. That quilt is now two years old and was recently promoted from the crib to the big girl bed.

I adore playing with fabric. I don't know why I waited so long to start quilting again. But, then again, if I hadn't waited I would have a much larger stash and that's OK with me.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

I'm Back in Business

I was finally able to paint the repaired wall in my studio this morning. That took all of 30 minutes. Then 30 minutes of drying time and I was ready to move back in. Two hours later I was back in business!

Here's a mini tour of sewing studio. First up is the closet. In here I have a plastic cart filled with my FQs. About 8 bins with various projects in them. Packages of batting, Tasha's work basket and my pieces of fabric greater than one yard on the hangers. The top shelf of closet holds two picnic baskets of other miscellaneous projects and my Christmas fabrics.

Next up is the new cubicle stand I bought last week. The wall to the right of the stand is the one that had the water damage and has to be repaired. In the baskets are the fabrics for the projects I'm currently working on. The wood boxes on the 3rd shelf hold my thread. The cases on the bottom shelf are binders I bought from Unikeep. They are sturdy plastic binders that are flat like boxes. I bought a 20 piece sampler of the binders for $50 and I still haven't filled all of them. So far all of my lessons from my Quilt University classes and internet patterns I have printed are in the binders on the left side.

My cutting table and scrap cart fill up the rest of the wall. For now I have a bookcase under the table holding some books, but I'm not happy with that bookcase. Someday I will find a better bookcase for all my books.

My sewing table sits between the two windows. Right now it's covered with the gifties I'm making for my retreat in 3 weeks. The table runner is made from an Ohio Star block swap I was in two years ago. The wood cabinet is from Ikea and holds the notions I need when sitting at the table: machine needles, marking pencils, snips, basting pins, rotary blades, you get the idea.

If you celebrate Easter tomorrow, have a blessed day. If you celebrate Passover, I hope you are having a blessed holiday too.

Snow From Thursday

Just a couple of quick shots from our April snowstorm Wednesday night into Thursday morning. The first one was taken in the parking lot where we park our car. The second on is our new Caliber covered with it's first snowfall. The snow is nearly gone again. I think spring is coming soon.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Happy Blogiversary to Me!

I remembered I had started my blog in April of last year, but it wasn't until I just checked, that it was one year ago today I started my blog. I've met some wonderful quilters and seen many terrific projects. I never knew bloggin would be so much fun! Happy Anniversary to me!

The maintenance man was here on Friday. He checked the walls in my studio and there is no mold. He removed the peeled and bubbled paint, replaced some of the tape and put the first layer of mud on the walls. He will come back tomorrow to add one more coat of mud. Then we can sand the wall and paint it. By next weekend my studio should be back together! Since the closet won't be torn down, I was able to work on putting stuff back in the closet. Previously I had been using two old nightstands/bookcases in my closet. I decided I didn't like that set up anymore so yesterday I went to Target and bought this cubicle to use instead. I also bought three fabric drawers to fit into some of the cubicles.

It took DH and I about an hour to put it together. It was a little small for the closet so I decided to leave out and to put my plastic bin of FQs in the closet, along with my tubs of UFOs, batting and some old shirts that are going to become quilts some day. I hung up the few pieces of yardage I have that are bigger than one yard. I can't fill the cubicles until we are able to put all the furniture back but I have put a couple UFOs in one of the baskets.

For the first time in several weeks I was able to sew with my machine. I started working on the quilt gifts I'm bringing to my quilty friends when we have our Jamboree later this month. I was able to spend 3 1/2 hours working on my gifts.

In other news - DH and I went car shopping yesterday. My 1999 Grand Am is almost dead, although it has been a very, very good car. We knew we wanted a crossover vehicle. Not a big SUV, not a station wagon, not a sedan. We decided on a Dodge Caliber. We are getting the red one pictured on the site. Tomorrow afternoon we will be able to pick it up. This is the first car DH has bought brand new. The pick up truck he had in college was bought by his parents and he drove that until it died. The last 8 years we've been driving my car. I've had two other brand new cars. He is like a child at Christmas. Buying a car for me is no big deal, but for him it's been a lot of fun.

Given the water problems in my studio I was able to make progress on my March goals. I've been diligently working on my redwork alphabet and I started my retreat gifts. I couldn't work on Football Depression blocks or mark my Birthday Garden quilt. But this month I'll be working on my Birthday Garden quilt as one of the women coming to the retreat only does hand piecing and hand quilting and she has agreed to help me get started on the hand quilting of my birthday quilt.

Let's see what else? Oh yeah, in March I spent 31 hours working on quilting projects and spent $153 on books, templates, fabric for my redwork quilt, Saral paper for tracing and some miscellaneous tools for redwork. I think I need to sell or donate some of quilt books, I already have too many.

But the best news of all is Baseball Season is here! I really hate the weeks between the Super Bowl and Opening Day. I am not a March Madness fan. I like gold, but it doesn't get the coverage that other sports do. And I can't stand hockey. So for the several weeks between football and baseball I don't get a good sports fix. I'm watching the Mets play the Cardinals right now, but tomorrow I can't wait for the Red Sox to play Kansas City tomorrow!