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Monday, February 28, 2005

Blink and you'll miss it

The weekend was a blur. I didn't get as much stitching accomplished as I had hoped. I spent quite a bit of time Sunday making some new compilation CDs for traveling in the car (thanks mostly to iTunes), doing laundry, and tracing the leaf patterns for Teresa's quilt on fusible webbing. I got those cut out and then I finally got back to Snow Leopard. I've almost finished up the white parts at the bottom of the project, and I'll be working my way up with cream and grey next. :)

We've got about 3 or 4 episodes of Jack & Bobby on tape now that we just haven't gotten around to watching with everything else going on. So our plans are to watch those tonight and then tomorrow night we'll watch a movie or two that we've rented (free in-store coupons from our Blockbuster online account - we made the switch from Netflix, and so far we're really liking it: cheaper, 2 free in-store rentals per month, and as soon as the post office scans the barcode, they send us our next dvd out, so the wait time is shorter).

Wednesday evening, I'll have had some (very) minor surgery - I hesitate to even call it surgery - so I'm not sure what I'll be up for, but we should be all caught up by then, just in time to start the next round of taping shows. ;)

I'm starting to think about goals for March, but I'm not sure I should make a lot. I know February was shorter, but I felt a bit of a push to try to get everything done (the goals I had set for myself) this month. I don't like feeling pushed to do anything I enjoy, even when it's just me doing the pushing.

And the ever-resurfacing, 'Do I really see myself doing this for the rest of my [working] life?' question about my choice of career has been popping up again [internally]. I'm trying to decide what to do with it. I've pretty much ignored it up 'til now, except for discussing it at length with a couple of friends. There are scary obstacles to overcome if I take the road which I've considered before, but have previously decided against. And even I do overcome those obstacles, it doesn't guarantee me a job in a new career, only the possibility, which does not now exist. I realize I'm being vague here, and that is on purpose. My mind is still chewing on things. The positive thing is that C is behind me 100%, whatever I decide to do. I just have to be the one to make the decision. Just how hard is the GRE (especially for someone out of school for 13+ years now, and who never thought she'd even contemplate going back)?

Saturday, February 26, 2005

Sweet, part deux!

It's Saturday, and for me that means a meeting with some friends about a web site (details to come when it's ready to go live), and then an afternoon of mostly quilting and stitching while watching some race stuff (qualifying, Busch race). I didn't do any stitching last night because the guys came over and played poker, something they haven't done in a couple of years. I ended up dealing the cards (I don't play - it's a sore loser thing) for most of the evening.

So anyway, after the meeting, I came home, got some lunch, then got Scott's Ships out to work on quilting the 4th block for this month. It's been a beautiful afternoon, and the mail came early. C went out to get it and he came back in with the usual, "wrong address, ad, bill, oh, and you probably don't want this thing from Teresa Wentzler either," spiel, which meant that the other part of my Myrtle Beach door prize from last year had come in the mail! Not just one chart but two! She sent me both Knotwork Bookmarks I and Knotwork Bookmarks II!!!!!!!!!!!

I've already decided which one I'm going to start stitching March 1. I haven't been excited about any of the new designs I've seen of late, until I got these in the mail. Très cool.

Whoops, I just heard Darrell yell boogity-boogity-boogity - better go finish up the quilting and then get started on Snow Leopard.

Friday, February 25, 2005

Sweet!

Although it seems a little sad to be saying that at such a low rate, but ING Direct has just raised their Savings Account rate to 2.6% (from 2.35%). It's the best savings rate I've seen.

If you're interested in opening an account, drop me an email and let me know and I'll send you an referral - you'll get $25 for opening an account and I'll get $10 for the referral. No minimum balance, great interest rate, and it's FDIC insured. I'm LOVING that my savings is actually earning a little money.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Spring Maiden and crochet

Well, if I manage to get any more gold needles, I'll be sure to forward them on to y'all. The petites take a little getting used to (because they are shorter - I know one person who won't use them because she doesn't like her needles so short), but I love them. They are perfect for my "I can get one more stitch out of this little bitty piece of floss before having to end it off" nature.

Here is one more cross stitch update I forgot to make the other day - a little more progress on the Maidens. I finished the sprig she's holding in her hand (also added this time). The border also looks wider on the right side because each Maiden is positioned right next to the other. At first I was just doing the single cross-stitch, then wondered why in the world I wasn't just going ahead and doing both at the same time.

Spring Maiden

I was working on the afghan again night before last, and showed C my latest square when I finished it. He asked how many I was doing per month, and I told him 3. He asked how long it took to complete one of them, and I told him that depending on the complexity, it generally took about an hour and a half to two hours. And then he gave me that look and said, "Why don't you go ahead and do 4 per month instead of 3, since it doesn't take very long? That way you could finish it even quicker." Well, not one to back down from a challenge like that, I did - so I've done 4 squares this month, including the two below, fan trellis (left) and puff stitch (right).



Last night, after I finished up the puff stitch square, I quilted one more block of Scott's Ships. One more to go for this month, hopefully tonight. February is coming to an end VERY quickly.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

I've decided

I hate gold-plated needles. We received one with our Myrtle Beach projects last year, and mine was stored with Summer's Magic, so when I got it out yesterday, I tried to use it. Yuck. I hate when needles don't glide easily through fabric. So I promptly trashed it and pulled out a John James Petite. MUCH better.

On to the updates! Merrick got a decent bit of time, so here are the before and after shots (my skinny wizard is beginning to fill out, slowly but surely):



And I managed to work on Summer's Magic during my holiday off yesterday, so it looks a little more like something now.

Monday, February 21, 2005

Hooray for President's Day!

Because it is a holiday off from work for me, the last one for a couple of months though (until Memorial Day in May).

I had a fabulous time at Taneya's for our Stitch Day on Saturday. I worked on Merrick for most of the time, then a little knitting near the end. It was great to see Taneya and Kaleya (who is growing up so fast already - and such a sweetheart), Fran and Ollie, who stopped by for a few minutes with their granddaughter, and then Katie, Betty, and Mary. I must say, Taneya has a great new apartment with lots of light and lots of room - we didn't have to start turning on lamps until late afternoon.

Here we are at the end of the day
Left to right, me, Mary, Katie, Betty (in front), and Taneya

I haven't yet scanned Merrick - I'll probably do that tomorrow. But since I've been on this quilting jag (and especially with the urge to try hand-piecing again), I decided I'd try an experiment. Yesterday morning I made the templates, I cut out the fabric, and I started piecing a block. Just one block. And it took me all day. True, I was also doing some of my regular Sunday chores during the time, so the day wasn't devoted entirely to piecing, but a good portion of it was. I finished it, but I've decided that for now, hand-piecing just isn't for me (except for the Grandmother's Flower Garden - that's different).

Here's the block I made yesterday, and below it is a block I made from the same book (101 Patchwork Potholders), but machine-pieced, in much less time, on another day a few months ago.

Housewife block
Shoo-fly block

Of course, the book shows them all on point, so here's how they should look, according to the book:

It was a good experiment. I feel like it really showed me what I needed to know. Hand piecing is really much more time- and labor-intensive than I want to be involved with right now, especially since I hand-quilt. So, I'm off to my craft room to work on Teresa's quilt top a bit more --- on my machine. :)

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Black Swan Designs SAL this weekend!

Black Swan Designs SAL this weekend!

Yep, this weekend commences the first "official" Black Swan SAL! I've already started working on Merrick, so I'm hoping to post some really nice progress to show this month. If you can't join us this month, we're having them the 3rd weekend every month throughout the rest of the year. I'm personally hoping this will help me finish up Merrick and get some good progress in on Aurora or Avatar. StRIP those projects into shape! ;)

Thanks for all your comments about my afghan and about quilts guilds and quilters. I guess I'm going through one of my phases right now (and this one happens to be quilting-related). I'm still doing all of my other crafts, but what I find myself thinking about ALL the time is quilting and piecing quilt tops.

Does anyone who reads this blog hand-piece? I'm curious and have a question for those who do (which I should probably post on Quilters' Journal). Do you cut out your pieces ahead of time, or do you cut as you go? How far in advance do you plan? I am thinking about trying a block or two with hand-piecing, but I'm not sure where to start. This is NEVER a problem when I'm machine piecing (in my craft room), but I don't want to haul all my fabrics out into the living room while we're watching tv just so that I can cut a piece or two.

Of course, maybe I shouldn't be thinking of starting any *new* projects...

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Ruminations of this and that

I often read about quilt guilds and I wonder how in the world can they create so many quilts in a year (mostly for charity). The only thing I can figure is that the women involved are either retired, or must not have jobs outside the home, or maybe if they do, the jobs are part-time only. And it's not just the time, but the money - fabric is not free, nor are the other supplies needed to create even small crib or lap quilts. I don't imagine these quilters are rich (or are they?). I want the time to join a quilt guild and help make quilts for others. Of course, I have at least 8 quilts to make for specific people before I get there.

I'm reading a book called The Simple Living Guide by Janet Luhrs. I started reading it probably 6 months to a year ago, and had to return it to the library (I'm so bad lately about getting things back on time). Anyway, I checked it out and I'm reading it again. I've only gotten through the first couple of chapters, but it really is providing some thought-provoking ideas. Basically, it's about living deliberately, choosing your existence rather than just sailing through on automatic pilot. It's about discovering what your own idea of "simple living" is (not having someone else's idea crammed down your throat). It's about balance.

I'm also reading a book called Born To Buy: The Commercialized Child and the New Consumer Culture by Juliet B. Schur. This is a SCARY book. I don't know yet if she comes up with any solutions, but I think the two books actually go together quite well, this one reinforcing the Simple Living book. As I read this book, I'm much more aware as I move through each day of the marketing techniques she describes. Wow.

To put a little stitching into this post, I did stitch on Merrick some last night. The official SAL is this weekend, but I'm getting a head-start.

Oh, and here's the latest crochet square: #41, fan and popcorn stitch.
Fan and Popcorn stitch

One more to go to meet my crochet goal for this month. ;)

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

A little more fantasy...

So, here is how far I got with Fantasy Sampler this time - I've put before and after photos so it's easier to tell where I've been stitching. Not a lot of progress, but I did some backstitching as well as cross stitching, so that I won't have to come back and do that all at the end.

Progress for January (first) and February (second)
Before
After

Thanks, Summer, for the suggestion about perhaps a colorwash quilt. That would probably work out quite a bit better than just the random squares like I was doing. I'll have to mull it over and play with the pieces on my design wall a bit.

By the way, speaking of Summer, I visited her blog and web site - she has an awesome needlework finishing book for sale. I've ordered one for myself - lots of pictures (well, you know me and VISUAL). Maybe I can try something besides framing for some of the smaller projects I do occasionally. ;)

Monday, February 14, 2005

Happy Valentine's Day!

I thought I'd start today with a happy note instead of the usual, "Ugh, it's Monday again" sentiments.

We had a nice weekend overall and I managed to get the laundry done and "unstitch" every bit of an old quilt project I had started about 8 or 9 years ago. I've worked on this thing off and on over the past several years. I guess I should go back to the beginning. At one of my first Paducah quilt shows probably 10 years ago (or something like that), I purchased a package of 5 inch squares of fabric. There were somewhere between 100 - 150 different fabrics, 2 of each. I thought I'd just make a scrap quilt from them all - no pattern, just the 5 inch squares randomly.

So, I was going pretty good on this project - it was mostly hand-pieced, with a little bit of machine piecing - when I got to looking at it from a distance. I discovered that while it looked scrappy, it was NOT attractive to me in the least. No rearranging of the squares made me feel any better about it. And the heck of it was - there were some really beautiful pieces of fabric in this quilt! That was when I made the decision to take the squares back apart and try to use them either in other quilts or in some other fashion of their own quilt, perhaps in a pattern this time. I didn't know if I'd use them as-is, or if I'd cut them into smaller pieces, I just knew I needed to do something different with them, and I didn't want to just set them aside as a UFO.

Every now and then, I'd get an urge, and I'd pull the box down and work on pulling some of the squares back apart, ripping out the thread, and ironing the pieces flat again. Well, yesterday I got that urge again. And using a technique I learned from watching one of Eleanor Burns' Quilt in a Day shows, I got my rotary cutter out and really got to "ripping". It took me most of the day (taking time out for the obligatory laundry, etc.), but I finally finished ironing the last square just before 10 p.m.

I still haven't decided what I'm going to make with them, if I'll use them all in one quilt, or just add them back to my stash to use in many quilts down the road. I think I'd like to use most of them in one quilt, but it definitely needs to have a pattern to it, and possibly some other fabrics - maybe a muslin or something. It's certainly something to think about.

Saturday, February 12, 2005

A visit with the family

So, I've done no stitching at all yet today, because I've been running around the countryside visiting family. Had a great visit with my parents as well as with my brother and his family. Dad fixed the passenger door on my car (it's been slowly getting harder and harder to open over the past year or more - coupes have big, heavy doors), we chatted about lots of things, and I got to see the work he's been doing on his Dodge truck (the one with over 470,000 miles) - he's getting some of the dings and all of the rust out and repainting it.

We had lunch at Arby's (getting to be a tradition when I visit) ;) and then I went to run my car through the wash - filthy doesn't begin to describe how it looked. I visited a little more with Mom and Dad, and then drove over to Scott's. I've known for a while that he's talented, but he amazed me again today. He saw a picture of a "house" bed for a kids room, and he decided to build one for the girls' room. It is absolutely incredible, and he's only worked on it for 4 nights this week. This thing has a porch with a hardwood floor, a working porch light (!), little windows (for which Teresa's going to make some curtains). If I can remember to take my camera next time I'm over, I've got to take some pictures to share. And he did this all from just a picture - no plans at all (he told me it's all in his head). Then he sketched out a few things, including the new bed he plans to make for Chris. I sat there, thinking how neat it was that he could sketch it out so perfectly. He's always been artistically inclined, he just didn't do much with it after high school, other than what's needed for his job. He seems to be having a lot of fun doing this stuff, and I'm really proud of him for that.

Okay, I'm going to go watch a race now. Gentlemen, start your engines!!!!

Friday, February 11, 2005

Happy weekend!

Just a quick update - I hope that everyone has a wonderful weekend! I have a few things to do, including a drive over to my parents' and brother's houses for a visit Saturday. Tonight I'll taping all of our Sci-Fi-Friday shows. Tomorrow night is the Bud Shootout (go Kenny!!!).

Somewhere in there, I'm sure there will be stitching, quilting, crochet, or knitting, or some combination thereof! Happy weekend!!!

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Downwards towards Friday

I finished up the second block this month on Scott's quilt last night, and broke out the Grandmother's Flower Garden to piece a little bit. I'm down to 1½ episodes to go on 24, and it just killed me that I had to go to bed last night and not finish it up. But if I don't get my sleep, I really pay for it the next day, so to bed I went.

Tonight will be another night of show-watching, though I don't know if I'll have the chance to watch anymore of 24. The fact that C isn't watching it really crimps my 24 time, because we have so many other shows to watch together. I should be able to finish it up by the weekend, though.

I'm surprised I haven't heard about any get togethers here in Nashville this weekend - INRG Market starts tomorrow, and although I can't attend (it's for retailers only), sometimes the attendees like to get together outside the hotel for dinner one of the nights. I haven't been stalking the bulletin boards as much lately, so there is probably something going on of which I'm completely unaware. Oh well, maybe next year!

I hope to get in some good progress on Fantasy Sampler tonight. I probably won't update a scan of it until after the weekend though. I might crochet another square in there too, somewhere. Projects, projects, everywhere!

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Middle of the week

Monday night I worked on Fantasy Sampler, and last night I concentrated on Scott's Ships quilt. Tonight is Game Night, and I'm hoping that the last 24-Season 2 disc arrives so that I can watch it while all our Wednesday night shows are taping. I already have Season 3, borrowed from a friend at work, so I'm looking forward to that too!

Christine asked what stitch the diamond on the left of the Trellis Sampler design is - it's a Four-Sided Filling Stitch. I pulled the floss a little as I stitched to get a really nice lacy effect. It is hard to see the actual threads because they are so close in color to the fabric, but maybe these pictures will give you a better idea:

Closeup of stitch Order of stitches

I dropped by the library after work yesterday to pick up a couple of books I had on hold, and went back to the crafts section - I also picked up a couple of crochet / knitting books and one quilting book I haven't seen before. I've really got a quilting bug at the moment, and love looking at the catalogs and books to get ideas. Not that I can start everything I'm thinking of at the moment... I just love drinking it all in... ;)

Oh, and I nearly forgot - I ran to Joann's after work yesterday, to pick up a half-yard of white-on-white patterned fabric for Teresa's quilt. I had my little 40% off coupon in hand and managed to resist purchasing anything else. Total damage? $0.97. How cool is that? I paid cash, sweet! I get those coupons every couple of weeks - if I plan wisely, I can get some really good deals. In fact, as soon as I got home and checked the mail, I had a new coupon (well, it's good starting this weekend) waiting for me in another one of their flyers. I think the next thing I'm going to plan for is one of the border fabrics in her quilt that I don't have yet. I'll make myself some notes, and see what good deal I can get next.

Monday, February 07, 2005

Weekend recap

The sun finally found its way through the clouds, and both Saturday and Sunday were marvelous weather days. We started out by doing a little shopping - C needed some new Nike's, and we've been putting that off for months, it seems. We ordered some new wiper arms for the Miata to replace the rusted ones on there currently. We also ran to the grocery and got a few things we'll need during the week, but didn't have to make a big shopping trip this time. If there's one thing I wish we could figure out - it would be how to make the milk (and other perishables) last for a month at a time - that way, we'd only have to go grocery shopping once a month. I try to avoid Wal-mart and Kroger shopping as much and as long as I can.

Anyway, we got the running around out of the way. C watched some of the Rolex 24 at Daytona race. I watched some more 24 (last show on disc 4, all of disc 5 - season 2). I finished up Row O on Nova, and worked on Trellis Sampler and Teresa's quilt. Oh, and I crocheted Square #40 - fan stitch.

Crochet Square #40, fan stitch
Trellis Sampler
Nova through Row O

We also watched the Super Bowl - me, pretty much just for the commercials. I enjoyed the Budweiser: Designated Driver Dance, and the Ford Mustang: Frozen in Fargo was kinda cute (nice car - reminds me of the old style). Dave's favorite (we knew it before he called to tell us, LOL) was the McIlhenny Tabasco: Tanlines commercial. The lamest commercial, in my opinion? The Degree for Men ad, followed closely by MBNA: Gladys Knight Plays Rugby and GoDaddy.com: Strapless. If you missed any, you can check them out here: IFILM - Super Bowl Ads.

Friday, February 04, 2005

Maidens and Black Swans

Spring Maiden, February 3, 2005

Here she is, after another 3 nights of stitching. I'm bothered by the one orange stitch in her hair. I'm thinking it might have been an error - I'll probably pull it out next go-round and put in another brown. While I'd like to work on her again tonight, I'll probably pull out Nova or the quilt or the afghan instead (trying to stay on track with the goals).

You may or may not know, but I'm moderator of the Black Swan Designs forum over at the Needle and Thread bulletin board. Our forum is pretty slow, as are some of the others, so one of the things we're doing to try to get things going is to have a Stitch-Along once a month. We've designated the 3rd weekend each month to stitching Black Swan Designs. This (of course) should work out well with my rotation, and I have plenty of designs to keep me going for a while, with Merrick, Aurora, and Avatar all on the go currently, and with several other charts waiting in the wings.

If you or anyone you know is stitching (or wants to start) a Black Swan design, we'd love to have you join us! I got to meet Karen Weaver last year, and she is the sweetest lady. To help motivate you, if you've never stitched one, but would like to start: I still have my original Dragon Heart chart (I bought two because I lost one, then found it several months later), and I will send it to the first person who emails me about it. And we have a winner! Laura was the first person to email me, so I will be sending her her very own Dragon Heart chart this weekend. Congratulations, and I hope you enjoy stitching with us!

The SAL dates for 2005 are as follows:

February 18-20
March 18-20
April 15-17
May 20-22
June 17-19
July 15-17
August 19-21
September 16-18
October 14-16
November 18-20
December 16-18

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Thrilling Thursday (for lack of a better title)

Last night was game night again, although it was just C & Noel playing Sega golf. I received another 'Red' in the mail (Netflix DVD), so I got to watch some more 24 while I stitched on Spring Maiden. I was able to start adding some greens to her dress, but I didn't get very far. I kept having to look at the tv to catch what was going on, LOL. A lot of shows I can get by with less actual viewing, but not 24. I'm planning on working on the Maiden a little more tonight before bringing Nova back out again.

I've also worked a little more on Kitty Bed - I have about 2 inches of the side knitted. :) It's a start. I love the colors - maroon wool-ease and red eyelash yarns together. I still haven't woven in the ends for the bottom part yet - I should do that so that I can give it a pre-test on the kitties. I threw it down in the floor one night last week, and Candy thought the ends were a fantastic toy, but didn't show much interest otherwise, so that wasn't a good test.

I'm so glad tomorrow is Friday, and my weekend is not very far away now.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

I take it back

Sigh. I don't know if I blogged about this before, but one of my favorite ways to search for other people's WIPs and finished designs (to see fabric, modifications, etc.), has been to search through Webshots. Not long ago, they finally fixed their search engine so that it brought back many more results than it used to. It was really nice - I found so many more people working on (or having finished) some of the same designs I'm currently working on myself. This type of search is one of my inspiration tools.

Well, I take it all back - they "fixed" their search engine again, apparently, and now NONE of my searches work. It completely sucks. No search results for "Teresa Wentzler." None for "Black Swan." Nothing for *quot;WIP." Zip. Zilch. Zero.

Edited to add - you're right, Ann, they fixed it! Yay! I'd like to think it was the feedback I sent them, but I would imagine not - maybe it was just a glitch. And thanks, Micky, for the reminder about Cyberstitchers' galleries. I'd forgotten about them until you mentioned it! So, I take what I just said back again.

Going back to my Google images search now - at least I generally get something returned as a result - it may not be as good, but it's better than nothing.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Pretty boy


Okay, so I know boys aren't supposed to be "pretty," but this handsome fella just is, in my opinion. And the really neat thing? That my stitches in the middle bottom section meet exactly where they are supposed to! I'm always amazed when it turns out that way, probably because I've had so many projects where my stitches were off at least in one direction or another (and sometimes more than one), and I've had to frog or fudge to get them to meet.

So today begins a new month - how quickly January came and went. I actually managed to meet all of my goals for January, and so my goals for February are going to be very similar (even though there are only 28 days). I want to crochet 3 more squares on my afghan - it gives me a nice break from stitching occasionally; it's especially easy on the eyes. I also want to knit some more on the kitty bed - I'm working on the side now, which is kind of like one long garter-stitched "scarf" that will be sewn to the bottom. I suppose I should take a new photo of that.

As far as stitching goes - I don't think I'm going to fill the small projects / samplers slot this month. I don't want to start a new project (I know, jaws are dropping everywhere) right now. My thinking may change on this in March, but for February - no new starts!! I want to get all the way through my rotation again (8th iteration), and hopefully get really close to finishing the snow leopard. Realistically, I'm shooting for a March finish on him. I want to see some more progress on my maidens - especially the start of the spring maiden's dress.

For my quilting, once again, my goal is to quilt 4 more blocks on Scott's Ships. If I get more than that done, fantastic. If I don't, at least 4 blocks keeps me on schedule. I would also like to finish piecing 5 more of Teresa's Basket blocks. That would make 6 total, and put me about 1/3 of the way there (sans borders). I'm already thinking about how to quilt it (way down the road, after Scott's is quilted), and I've come up with the idea of attaching small coordinating buttons in the centers of the flowers. I'd like to make a few more Grandmother's Flower Garden hexagons, but only if I get everything else done. My oldest niece is only 10½, but I'm already trying to come up with ideas for her graduation quilt. At the rate time is flying by, I need to get started as early as I can. I should have about 2 years or so between my nephew and niece's graduations, so things are going to be quite busy in a few years... Full size quilts are much more time-consuming than baby quilts.