Monday, May 28, 2007

No More Triangles

Today I was able to enjoy a day off. I started the day with cutting fabric for swap blocks that need to be done in two weeks. I patiently cut all the squares and then started on the HSTs. I sewed all the squares together and started cutting them apart only to realize two-thirds of them are backwards! I didn't put the right sides together.

Luckily at that point DH suggested we go out for a late breakfast. Yummy. Just the break I needed. After breakfast I went to Staples and purchased a anti-fatigue floor mat. The last few times I've had to do a lot of cutting my back has gotten tired and sore. I'm hoping the floor mat will help.

The thought of making more HSTs was not appealing, yet I felt the need to create. I remembered Darlene's post about making 4-patches from nickel squares. I grabbed my package of nickel charms of Sunflowers of Provence and started making 4-patches. I'm not sure what I'm going to make from them yet, but here they are laid out on the rug. At least I didn't have to make any HSTs.

On Saturday we deep cleaned our house since we had company for dinner. I decided to repair some missing tiles on my mosaic back splash. I made this back splash when we moved into this house four years ago. With the exception of the white tiles with the coffee cups and the tiles around the top, I made the rest of the tiles from bakeable clay. So you can see I've been using "Coffee Time" for some time.

I can't wait for this coming weekend. The big stress at work will be relieved. DH is going to NYC early Saturday morning and other than a birthday party on Saturday afternoon I don't have to go anywhere. I'm ready for a weekend of quilting. DS and DIL are coming over with their DVD collection of Deep Space Nine. We are going to watch the DVDs and the Red Sox/Yankees games while DIL and I quilt. Yippee!

Monday, May 21, 2007

Two Quick Projects Done

I may be absent the next couple weeks. We are getting ready to make an important announcement at work in a couple weeks and I'm working lots of extra hours. I'm still trying to stay caught up on reading blogs and may make a comment or two, but hang in there, but mid-June I should be back to normal.

I did get some playtime this past weekend. I finished my red and white needle case for my redwork group. It didn't finish very square. I've had this problem with many of the needle cases/wallets I've made this size recently. I hope the person who receives it, likes it. The inside has two pockets and two red wool "pages" for holding needles.

At the retreat I was on recently one of the members gave a pillowcase demo. It was a great demo and I was inspired to make a pillowcase for DH. I had some leftover New England Patriots fabric and the piece was just large enough to make him a pillowcase. He loves it. So do I. Too bad I used up all the Boston Red Sox fabric I had or I would have made a Red Sox pillowcase too.

I should get some playtime in this long weekend. On Saturday I'm taking two quilts to the long arm quilter. Then we have a birthday party for our 5-year-old nephew and then we are having company for dinner. On Sunday DH is going golfing. I'm staying home Sunday and Monday so I can play. That is, unless by boss decides to wait until Monday to pack to go to London on Monday night. Oh well, that's life.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Is Breakfast Dead?

Last week on CSB Sunday Morning they aired a story on the evolving nature of breakfast. One of the facts that stuck in my mind is the 12% skip breakfast. How can you skip breakfast? It's the best meal of the day. They also talked about how time starved breakfast has become - get it on the run, in the car, while rushing to wherever you need to be.

That is not what happens in my house. I'm an early riser and DH is not easy to wake up. When we first started living together mornings were tough. At some point I thought it would be fun to wake up DH with breakfast in bed. It worked. And I'm still doing it seven years later. Monday through Friday I get up at 6:15, make breakfast and bring it Bruce in bed. I sashay into the room, carrying the tray and gently call, "Breakfast." He'll roll over, smooth out the covers, make sure my pillows are up against the wall and get comfortable. You've probably noticed that there is only one bowl of cereal on the tray. That's because I feed him. Yup, that's right. I spoil him rotten. But before you start rolling your eyes and wondering if I'm sane, I can tell you that we have some of our most meaningful and intimate conversations over cereal, toast and OJ in the morning. When we are done eating, DH takes the tray back to the kitchen and we still have time to cuddle before it's time to get ready for work.

On Saturdays it's a help yourself to breakfast morning since I am up early and he sleeps in. On Sunday it's his turn to cook breakfast which translates to eggs, bacon, beans and bagels.

So the next time you're considering skipping breakfast, try sharing breakfast with a loved one or loved ones. Maybe you'll create a new tradition in your home or perhaps restore an old one.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Happy Mothers Day and Shop Hop Results

Happy Mother's Day to all the mothers out there. I hope you have a wonderful day today. It is still early here and DH is on his way home from the airport and brunch with my son isn't until later so I thought I'd pop in here and share my shop hop goodies with you.

There were seven shops involved in the shop hop, but we added three more shops along the way - Knight's Quilt Shop in Cape Neddick, ME; Emma's Quilt Cupboard in Franklin, MA and, because my girlfriend had never been to Keepsake Quilting in Center Harbor, NH. So in two days we shopped at 10 shops, plus a short trip to Joanne's with another friend of ours on Friday night. I put 530 miles on my new Caliber and loved every minute of it. The car rides well and holds a lot of goodies.

So, without further ado, let's see if I stuck to my shopping list.

First item on the list was fabric for a baby quilt. Yup, I got that. I still don't know if the quilt is going to be butterflies for a girl or saliboats for a boy. The ultrasound is Tuesday afternoon so I'll know then what I'll be making. I don't care which one I have to make I like both patterns, perhaps I'll end up making both of them.

Next item on the list was background fabric for a Christmas applique. Yup got that. No picture because it doesn't photograph well. But it's a cream colored tone-on-tone floral print.
Items for redwork is the next part of the list. I got these red and white prints for the swap I'm in.

I also bought these two red and white prints just because I like them so much. The top has squares for every day of the week. I bought 4 yards of it thinking it would make a good backing piece for a redwork quilt. The other on has red fruits on it and I'm not certain what I'm going to use it for yet.

I didn't find form flex muslin, but then I didn't look very hard for it. I also decided not to buy the DMC floss. At 25 cents a skein I figured buying it at Joanne's here is just as good. I was a little disappointed because I did try to find some unique floss or embroidery thread collection but didn't have any luck. I guess I don't know what I should be looking for if I want unique or special thread to work with. Any suggestions?

In the For Fun section I altered my list and decided not to use the paint chips to choose fabric. At the third shop we went to I found this great coffee panel. How could I resist? I'm going to add borders and backing with the lovely wine colored fabric (chosen by Susan at the Chestnut Quilter) and hand quilt the panel. Won't it be a wonderful addition to my sewing studio?

Also in the For Fun category I found a six FQ package of Dick and Jane fabrics, some more red and white FQs, cherry fabric to make placemats for my MIL (her kitchen is all about cherries), a coffee-themed FQ and a half yard of a boy print. I also bought a package of 35 - 2 1/2 inch strips at Keepsake, mostly blenders in every color. I think they'll work well with a spring fabric charm swap I recently received.

One of my friends sent me an email late Friday morning that I didn't see until Saturday morning asking me to look for construction men fabric. I managed to find some at Keepsake Quilting. Linda, do you like this fabric? I'm keeping some for myself. I have a special project planned for these men.

I decided not to buy the backings on my list. With all the other fabric I was finding I couldn't focus on the backings for those two projects. I did buy Triangles on a Roll to make 1 inch HSTs. Those will be used for a challenge project I'm working on later this spring.

I found the Sew Easy Pajama Pants pattern. I wasn't sure I'd find it in a quilt shop but it was there. I also found a Teddy Bear Redwork book with adorable teddy bear patterns. And in the notions department I bought a white Clover marking pen, red felt for a needle case I'm making, a spool of YLI silk thread for applique and two spools of YLI hand quilting thread. Boy, it's hard to find YLI hand quilting thread. Out of the 10 shops we visited only one shop had it. Everyone seems to carry Mettler or Sulky or Gutterman threads, but not YLI. I also bought some Thread Heaven to use for redwork and embroidery thread.

In the same shop where I found the Pajama pants pattern I found this cute lingerie fabric. When I showed it to my friend she said, "That would make great Pajama pants!" So she dared me to buy it and I did. This fabric should make a cute pair of pants, don't you think so?

And last, but not least, I found this cute wall hanger. I think it suits my studio to a "tea". I can't wait to hang it up.

I was home by 6:30 last night and in bed at 8:30. DH woke me up at 6 am to tell me he was in Boston. My back is a little sore and I'm a little cranky. But I had so much fun this weekend. Next year we are going to do a different shop hop because we've done these shops for three years and two of them are not our kind of shops (Mostly dark colors and lots of Thimbleberries) and one is going out of business (Mill Girl Quilts).

It's almost time for DH to arrive so I'm off to enjoy the rest of my day. Bye for now!

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Following The Pattern - Not!

What do you when you're a little hyper about going shop hopping? You sew, of course. I made another four-inch block. This one is slanted star. I really like how well these polka dots are going together. They are playing nicely.

The Stashbuster topic of the week is do you prefer to work from patterns or use the patterns as a starting point and "go with the flow?" The first two quilts I made I followed the patterns precisely. But after that never again. I use the pattern as the starting point and tweak it as I go along. These days I'm more apt to design my own quilt. I've purchased many technique books. Books about settings blocks, block books, border books, binding tips. Now I let the fabric "talk" to me and let it tell me what it wants to be. I can't help but look at a quilt pattern and immediately I start tweaking it without thinking twice.

I've had to give up doing mystery quilts because my brain refuses to follow directions. The quilt in the photo is a good example of not following directions. Once I started assembling the blocks they kept "talking" to me, rather loudly I would add. They refused to follow the directions and demanded to put together this way. Since then I always listen to my fabric. Oh yeah, I might have some particular ideas in mind, such as making HST's using triangles on a roll or an exercise in making a scrap quilt and not letting the same fabric touch itself; but unless the fabric wants to cooperate I can't always follow my plan.

These days I think of my quilting as more of a "play" or "exercise" time. What do I want to do today and what fabric is calling to me to be played with? Since I've made this shift in how I approach quilting I've enjoyed the process so much more. I seldom have stress to finish a project unless it's a gift. I seldom have to go shopping because there's always fabric calling to be played with on any given day.

I suppose you're wondering why I'm this way with my quilting. I guess because it's similar to what my job is. I am a product designer. It's not as glamorous as it sounds. It's not for fabric. But I have a database of over 100,000 hotel records and it's my job to make that pile of "stuff" talk to our clients by creating meaningful reports. Some days some records don't want to play, and some days those records want to play nicely. I know the techniques to make those records meaningful. Because what our company does is so unique, all the reports I have created are brand new so, other than my boss telling me what he wants to see in the end, I have to be the one who "writes the pattern."

That's how I approach quilting. The fabric is my "database". The books provide me a vision of an end product. It's up to me to take my "database" and make it sing.

All sounds pretty philosophical, huh? But I like it.

Tomorrow morning is time to shop! I won't be around until Sunday. I'm sure I'll have tales to tell and plenty of photos of my goodies. I hope everyone has a great weekend. If you are in a area where are fires or floods or storms I pray you will stay safe. Bye for now.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Shop Around Shopping List

Well, I said I share my Shop Around Shopping List and here it is:

For baby quilt:
  • 2.5 yards seashore color for background
  • 1 yard green
  • 2 yards (various cuts) of lavenders
For Applique Sampler
  • 2 yards light background color, suitable for red and green Christmas fabrics
For Redwork/Embroidery:
  • At least half yard of four different red and white fabrics for swap
  • Form Flex muslin
  • DMC floss: 310 black, 221 red, 610 light brown, 729 light gold, 823 navy blue, 930 dark blue, 931 light blue, 935 dark green, 937 medium green, 938 dark brown, 3364 light green, 816 red for Bobby Socks, purple for Challenge quilt
For Fun:
  • Half yard each of complementary colors from color cards
  • Triangles on a Roll, maybe two or three sizes
  • Pigma Pens
Backings For:
  • I Love Orange
  • Tea Time Splash
  • Sew Easy Pajama Pants

Wish me luck. If I'm able to find everything I should be set on projects for the rest of the year.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Productive Weekend

I had a quiet and productive weekend. Friday night was date night with Bruce. We went to dinner at my favorite steak restaurant here in Dover - Orchard Street Chop Shop. Of course I had my favorite meal. Caesar salad, 6 oz. filet, carrots in a pecan glaze and buttermilk mashed potatoes. Yummy! No dessert because I'm still nibbling on chocolates from last weekend.

Saturday I was up early while Bruce slept in. I was able to finish the redwork for a needlecase I'm making for a swap.

Then I moved onto my newest project. I signed up for Jane Was Nuts from Quilt University. Now I may nuts for taking this class, but my thought is I will get practice and patterns for making doll quilts. I got to start building my doll quilt stash now before the grandchildren come along. This little polka dot block is only 4 inches! The center is little off kilter, but overall I'm satisfied with how it turned out. I have more polka dot scraps so I'm hoping I can make some of the other blocks with polka dots. Wouldn't that make a fun doll quilt? I think so.

Then I moved on to my 365 Challenge quilt. This was my first experience writing on fabric with freezer paper and I'm not sure I did it right. The freezer paper didn't stick very well and the pens seem to be very thin. They are Zig 01 pens, should I get a thicker tip to write with? I'm still thinking about embellishing the blocks, but not sure what I'm going to do yet.

Saturday night Bruce and I had to go to the office and print out 150 sets of slides for his speech in Salt Lake City. While we were waiting for the print job we went to the Sports Page to watch the Red Sox game.

Early Sunday morning (somewhere around 4:15 am) Bruce was off to Salt Lake City and Las Vegas for the week. So when I rolled out of bed at 6:30 am I had the day to myself. Every once a while a day all to myself is so wonderful. I so enjoy the solitude. So what did I do yesterday? Well, other than watch Tiger Woods win the golf tournament, the Red Sox beat the Twins and catch up on some TV shows that I had on my DVR, I spent the day doing handwork.

I was the second lady in waiting for UFO queen on Stashbusters so I sewed the label on the table runner that Sandra (the listmom) quilted and bound for me in January. This table runner is made from Ohio Star Challenge swap blocks from a swap a couple years ago. The table runner graces the end of my sewing table.

Next up I finished the C is for Chair block for the Bobby Socks BOM. I think these designs are so adorable. I started the D is for Dog block. It has a lot of detail and will probably take some extra time to finish it. Today she posted the E is for Egg block. This one has a lot less detail. I'm hoping I can get caught up by the end of this month.

My "work" project of the day was making my shopping list for my North of Boston Springtime Shop-Around this coming weekend. I will post my shopping list before Friday and then we'll see how well I stick to the list. I'm picking up my girlfriend on Friday morning and we will start shopping. We are spending the night in a hotel and will meet another friend on Saturday morning to visit her LQS, my favorite LQS but not in this shop hop. This store is an hour south of the closest shop participating, but the visit is worth it.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

More About My Retreat

Sorry to tease everyone with my goodies and promise to tell you more about my weekend and then disappear for the whole week. Sometimes life just gets in the way of the fun stuff. But, here I am to tell you more about the weekend. First up is my hotel room. Since I'm in the hotel business I'm always looking for the best rooms when we go somewhere, so you can imagine my delight to get this room. The bed was incredible (it was a Sealy pillowtop mattress), the room was large and had a sloped ceiling. I was on the third floor of the hotel and ceilings that were 20 feet high when you entered the room and then sloped down like you see in the photo.

The retreat was more of a four day get together than what I would call a "working retreat" but I did bring my Birthday Garden quilt along. Jen, from Australia, is a master hand piecer and quilter and she had promised to teach me how to hand quilt. Well, to hand quilt you have baste the quilt so here is a less than flattering photo of me basting my quilt. Actually I tempted anyone to take a photo of me in this position and immediately 3 cameras started taking pix. This one was sent to my DH in Dubai. When he asked me about it I told him it's a good reason to get back on the diet. He replied, "I'm not allowed to comment on that." What a sweet response.

Here are Jen (on the left) and Bette from Tucson working on my quilt. The were 4 of us who worked together and did a group baste. It only took us about 90 minutes to get the quilt basted.

Here I am posing with my basted quilt. The design is my own and I used 35 FQs to make the quilt.
We had some mini demos by various members over the weekend. One of them was applique. I had to give it a try and here I am grinning with my results. I had more fun doing applique than I thought I would. There is a new trend in my quilting experience lately - more handwork and less machine work - hand piecing, hand quilting, red work and now applique. I guess that will mean more time spent with DH watching baseball, golf and football. Hooray!

Before the Jamboree our group did a doll swap. Three of the women who came to the weekend brought their dolls and they participated in many of our activities. Here they are ready for our tea party.

Here they are tucked in for the night. They were joined by a troll doll that one woman received in our tea cup swap. The table runner they are sleeping under was made by one of the women who tested my table runner pattern that was adapted from my birthday garden quilt.

And last, but not least, at 4 pm on Friday I realized I needed hand quilting thread for my quilt so I yelled across the room, "Anyone want to go shopping?" Of course! Eight of us went to the Yankee Quilter shop in town and did some damage to our credit cards. Here are some of them waiting to make their purchases.

I still have show and tell pictures to share and I will do that this week. This weekend I've been playing in my studio and will have some photos to share of what I've been working on too. I hope everyone is having a great weekend!