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Sunday, December 27, 2009

2009 nearly done

Hard to believe it's the end of another year. I don't feel like I've accomplished as much this year as I have in years past. But I know that I have finished quite a few projects.

I didn't get a blog post finished before Christmas, but I did finish the 3rd scarf for my eldest niece. The scarves were a hit (though the quilt was a little bigger hit for my youngest niece, who finally received her "big quilt"). Here is Alli's scarf:

I finally put together my December block of the month, so now I just need to get all the blocks put together with the setting kit. This is Cross and Crown:

Another update for Magnificent Wizard - this time out of the Q-Snaps:

The ornament in the last post was definitely an ornament, though we didn't put up a tree this year (timing, energy, etc.). We had stockings for the kitties, and they all enjoyed Christmas very much. Christmas Eve was spent running around to visit with family, and Christmas Day was very low-key, just CC and me hanging at the house, watching movies and reading and playing video games (and playing with the kitties). This weekend has been perfect, and I really hate that we are going to have to go back to work tomorrow. We're looking forward to having New Year's Day off, and may go see Avatar in the next couple of weeks.

I hope that 2010 is better for everyone. I know that 2009 has been really hard on a lot of people, so here's to a hearty recovery in 2010. May we all prosper and be at peace.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Christmas ornament

Holly Wreath Ornament (Mill Hill). Started and finished in two days. This was supposed to be a pin, but I made it into an ornament instead.

Still working on the final scarf - it's about 80% complete now.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Pre-Christmas vacation finishes (so far)

Several months ago I decided to take a few days off before Christmas, just in case there were things I needed to finish before the big day, and it's a good thing, because we're coming down to the wire and I had several things left to finish. I'm happy to say that 3 things are done and just one is left to go.

I finally got my rear end in gear and pulled fabrics back out for Tori's coordinating pillow (for the Hexagon Beads quilt). Here is the result (front and back):

And here are the first two scarves finished - just one left, and it's 2/3 done:

Stilts disputes that they are for my nieces...

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Taught my nephew to crochet today

Today hasn't exactly gone as planned, but that's okay, because I was able to spend some quality time with my 14-year-old nephew (he and my brother came over while the girls went to a baby shower in town). He has been knitting with one of those knitting machines (in the round, I believe), and he mentioned wanting to learn to crochet when we were both at my parents for dinner last night. I told him that I'd be happy to show him how to crochet, and I got my chance today.

We started out with the basic chain stitch, then I showed him how to single crochet into that chain and turn and single crochet into the single crochets. Then he asked how to do a granny square, and I thought I'd really have my work cut out for me. But he's a really bright kid (he has already read the entire Twilight series twice), and his attention span is much longer than it used to be. And in no time, we had joined the chain and were making double crochets with ease. He complained that his tension wasn't as good as mine, and I told him it just takes practice - after all, I've been doing this for 16+ years now, so I've had a little more practice than he has. He left, taking his new granny square to show his mom and teachers. I felt like we really made a connection and had a great afternoon doing something enjoyable.

After he and my brother left, CC helped me wind the remaining balls of yarn for the scarves, so I have no excuse (in other words, no more Zelda: Spirit Tracks or Lego Indiana Jones tonight!) - I must get back to those scarves. I'd really like to get them finished up by next weekend.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Mid-December already

Time has flown by again, and I was surprised to see that it's been almost two weeks since the last post!

I am 2/3 finished with each of the 3 scarves for my nieces. I have been furiously working on them to make sure they are completed in time. We have one more ball of each color of yarn to wind, then I can work on finishing each one - I should be able to do it if I concentrate! :)

Picked up my last block of the month for this year, so hopefully I'll have that put together pretty soon. Then I have the finishing kit #3 to put together, after which I can assemble the rest of the quilt top. Still trying to decide who the lucky recipient of this quilt will be...

I got the rest of my Prairie Schooler ABC charts in the mail Friday, so I am all set (not like I was waiting impatiently - I had 6 designs to stitch before I NEEDED the others). But it's nice to see them all anyway.

I've also worked just a little more on J is for Jack-o-Lantern, and here's my progress so far.

Mom's having her Thanksgiving / Christmas dinner this weekend, so I'm really looking forward to some turkey and stuffing, and of course, visiting with my folks.

Thanks to all for the well wishes, I think I am finally over my infections, and C's only got a bit of a cough lingering.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Wanting a holiday rebate

C and I have both been down with sinus infections since early in the week. It has made for a pretty miserable holiday weekend. But at least I've been able to stitch, so here's what I've been working on.

Proof that I've started my Prairie Schooler ABC Quilt - J is for Jack-o-Lantern.

I also started Take Time to Quilt (Jeannette Douglas Designs), and was surprised at how small it really is (64 x 64 stitches)

I'm changing all of the fibers to use what I have on hand, even using an unknown Dinky Dyes silk from an Oops pack acquisition from a couple of years ago. It's the color that counts, right?

Not a great picture, but some new progress on Magnificent Wizard, which hasn't seen the light of day for about a year. It's still q-snapped, and I plan to work on it a little more before moving on to the next project.

CC helped me wind some more yarn (he's a great skein holder), so I've started on the second third of each scarf today.

And I finally found the other floss ring tag that I started back at Moonlight Stitching in January 2009 - it was supposed to be my first, but I never got around to finishing it. Well, it's finished now, thanks to my crop-a-dile. I didn't use the kit fabric for the backing, just a white-on-white fabric that I think looks pretty good.

At least I've been able to stitch, because I haven't been able to do much else this weekend. If I couldn't stitch while sick, I think I'd just be crazy.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Social Stitching

Last night I went to 2009's last Moonlight Stitch at my LNS, had a wonderful time with the girls, and actually finished block #8 of my Waterlily Pond Quilt. Pat E made taco soup, but I had a nearly overfilled bowl of white chicken chili that Mary H made, yum!!

I've also been working on Mother's Arms for a couple of weeks and here is my latest progress on it. I finally added the 4 rows at the top that Kathy N added to hers. After she finished hers (back in 2001), I emailed her and she was gracious enough to send me the 4 rows top and bottom that she hand-charted. I think it looks much better without the scalping. :)

One more pic - I bought a Crop-a-dile and made my first floss ring tag from some beaded designs I stitched several years ago. Top picture is front view, next picture is reverse.

Julie was at the Moonlight Stitch, and she was working on her Prairie Schooler ABC SAL project. I've had two of these charts for a while now (J-K-L and M-N-O), and knew that I would get around to them one of these days. Well, that day is arriving soon, because I'm going to join the SAL also. I want to do another cross stitch quilt, because I was inspired by the quilt in the 5th picture down in this post from the Knowledge and Needles retreat that Dani attended.

So I will be revamping my cross stitch rotation soon, removing quite a few of my current WIPs that I haven't worked on in a while (not from WIP status, just from my current rotation, which has pretty much been a screaming one lately). I want to start the other two projects I mentioned earlier, plus participate in the SAL. I know, I know, I go back and forth on starting new things / not starting new projects. I'll admit it, I'm fickle.

But I want have to finish 3 scarves first. I received my yarn package in the mail Monday, and here is my start of all three.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Weekend update

We awoke last night to the sound of water running in the bathroom sink. Unfortunately, we haven't yet trained the cats to turn the faucets on and off. So we went out and bought a new faucet today, and it looks like my dad will be installing it on Monday. I always thought the old one was ugly, but couldn't justify the cost of replacing it just because I didn't like it. Now we'll have one that is a little prettier and a taller profile (easier to get your hands under for washing).

Mid-November... hard to believe. And I just did something like I do almost every year. I decided to make crocheted scarves for my nieces for Christmas.

I. Am. Insane.

I should get the yarn mid-week (they shipped it priority mail), so I'll start the first one as soon as I get it. I'm glad I already received my yarn ball winder in the mail last week, because I'll definitely need it. Here are the three colors I got, orchid, stone, and zinnea.

Orchid Stone Zinnea

Cross Stitch
Here is the latest progress picture of Stilts, between 40-50% complete at this point.

I picked up my block of the month today, plus the final finishing kit (of 3) for the quilt top. I put together the block this afternoon, Sister's Choice. While I was at the quilt shop, I saw what they are planning to do for next year's block of the month, and sigh of relief, it just isn't for me (which helps me retain the resolve not to do the block of the month for 2010). They have 2 colorway choices - patriotic red/white/blue or red/green/gold and they plan to use fabrics that are more Civil War era. Neither of those appeal to me (nor does the pattern mockup they had printed out), so I'll be sticking to my plan of making the paper pieced quilt basket blocks each month. That will be plenty along with my Blocks from the Past quilt plus all the other things I'm working on.

Other Sewing
Kitty Stilts lost her pillow (fortunately TEMPORARILY, we found it a few days ago), which is like her baby or something. I tried to make her a substitute and filled it with fiberfill and catnip. She batted it around, but just didn't take to it like her pillow. Then Candy found the little one I made and she had a ball with it. But it was really too small to hold with her front paws and kick with her back paws, so I made her a longer one, and she really enjoys it.

I'm going to stitch up the the Schnibbles Tuffet pincushions that I finished quilting and stuffing earlier today. It has been a very productive day!

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Summer Scarf finished

My summer scarf is finished and I am thrilled with the pattern and color. It took less than a week to crochet, and I'm wondering if the nieces would like scarves like this for Christmas. I'm pretty sure if I got started on them, I could get three finished in time. Not sure that my nephew would appreciate a scarf like this though. I'd have to think of something different for him (or at least a different pattern / yarn).

I've been working on square #8 for my Waterlily Pond quilt this weekend. I'm hoping to get it finished in the next couple of days, then move back to working on Stilts or one of the quilts. I also signed up for Moonlight Stitching this month, so I look forward to seeing Cheryl, Julie, and all the girls in 2 weeks.

It was a great weekend, hope yours was too!

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

First Tuesdays of the month are my favorite Tuesdays

Why, you ask? Because it's the day my quilt guild has their monthly meetings, and I LOVE my quilt guild. I work half a day and take off half a day so that I can go and hang out with my quilt buddies, catch up, maybe learn something new, and see all the FABULOUS quilts that guild members have made.

It's usually a very energizing and inspiring morning, and no matter how I'm feeling, it always lifts my spirits.

I borrowed a grommet tool from my friend Sallie, hoping to use it on the Charm Candy Tote (to finish it), but unfortunately it didn't have the right size attachments.

So... I decided to give the tool that came with it one more try. I took it outside (I had been trying to use it inside, on the floor, thinking I was whacking it good enough), and after ruining one more grommet, I finally got one pounded in. Then another, then the third and fourth. It's far from perfect (and I pounded so hard and missed the grommet one time that the fabric is a little unsightly in one area), but it is finished!!!



Sunday, November 01, 2009

Summer Scarf

Way back in February 2008 I bought some really pretty (and soft) Merino wool for a spring / summer scarf. I also bought the knit pattern that the model used and attempted several times to knit it. Unsuccessfully. Every time. And I finally shelved it because it was so frustrating.

Fast forward to Halloween weekend 2009. I've been thinking about that beautiful yarn and wondering how I could play with it without frustrating myself all over again. I really, really, really wanted to make a pretty, lacy scarf out of it. And then I realized that I don't HAVE to try to knit it.

I picked up my Harmony Guide to Crocheting (it has something like 500 crochet patterns), and found a pattern very similar to one I've done before. So I ripped out the little bit of knitting and started crocheting. Here is the scarf so far (through 1 of 3 skeins):

Oh, and a shout out to my favorite NASCAR driver, Jamie McMurray - congratulations on your win at Talladega today!!!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Hand appliqué block finished

Rose Spray block

Here is what I've been working on for the past several nights, finally finished: my first entirely hand appliquéd block, called Rose Spray. This is the block I mentioned in my last post from the Teach Yourself Blocks from the Past book. I tried several methods for the appliqué: needle-turn, back-basting needle-turn, and invisible. I also tried to kind of pre-turn the edges on one of the leaves, but didn't use any starch or other basting, so it didn't really hold very well. The pieces are really small, so I had to be careful not to cut the seam allowance too large or too small.

I'm pleased with how this block turned out, given my experience. It's a little rough in some places, and I certainly strayed from the lines a bit, but I like my fabric choices, and my stitches are decent. I would like for it to be a little smoother in some places, but I accept that it will rarely be perfect. I also have not yet pressed my block nor trimmed it to size (6 in. finished, so need to trim to 6½ in.), I started with a piece of background fabric 7 inches, so I'm kind of curious how much it shrank due to the stitching.

I haven't done any actual quilting lately, so that's on the schedule for this evening. It's been a while since I've played with my class quilt, and I'm looking forward to getting reacquainted.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Happy Dance 7 of 16

Here is Waterlily Pond Quilt square 7 of 16. I finished it over the 4-day weekend. It's such a shame that our vacation is over. I'm ready for Thanksgiving already!

Here is a new pic of my Grandmother's Flower Garden. I haven't yet gotten to the row where I can add the acid green fabric (that will be row after next).

And here's the Schnibbles pincushion I put together. This is the first time I made a quilt block that had ¼ (finished) pieces. It turned out pretty nice, I think. There are 5 more Schnibbles patterns, I think I'll try another one next weekend.

One more thing I decided to try - no picture yet - is a hand-appliquéd quilt block. I have this book, Teach Yourself Blocks From the Past. And I've been looking at it for a while now, thinking I'd like to make the quilt. And there are quite a few appliqué blocks. And I've been wanting to try some hand appliqué now that I've done several blocks with the machine. So I started one. It's over halfway finished, and I'm liking it so far, though it is a little more time-consuming.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

"My give up!"

Every once in a while I think something in Jar-Jar speak (Star Wars, episode 1), and it just seems appropriate.

I was trying to put together a little quilted bag, and it just seemed to get more difficult as I went along. I really hate trying to work with extraordinarily bulky seams, and I'd already had to walk away from the sewing machine a couple of times. But I finally got the thing put together. It didn't look the best, but I was determined to get it done.

Then came the grommets.

Apparently I can't do grommets.

I tried.

I couldn't get the grommet tool out of the first one once I hammered it in there (and it didn't seem to cinch all the way down anyway. So, in trying to get the tool out, the stupid grommet came apart too.

I tried again on another side.

Same problem. And don't think I didn't hammer the heck out of it, because I did. But this time, something must have slid a little out of place, because it looked all wonky. Then it came apart when I was trying to get the little tool out again.

My give up, as Jar Jar would say. Maybe I'll try a buttonhole stitch to seal up the edges. I don't know. But I feel I need to walk away from it (my first instinct is to pitch it in the trash). I have no idea when I would pick it back up again without some aggravation bubbling to the surface.

I think I'm going to go work on something else now, try to calm down.

Friday, October 16, 2009

4-day weekend

CC and I decided we needed a little break, so we are taking Monday and Tuesday off (vacation days), and not planning on going anywhere or doing anything (well, we might go out to eat).

I've been working on my Grandmother's Flower Garden quilt this week, so expect a new progress photo soon. I am eager to get to the next time that I can start new flowers (after I complete the current and next row of hexagons), because my dear friend did the sweetest thing! Her great-grandmother also made (by hand) a GFG quilt, and she showed it to me one day. We talked a lot about the fabrics, especially this one particular acid green that I've never seen anything like. Well, she happened to have some of this fabric in addition to the quilt, and she gave it to me! I just can't wait to include it in my quilt. Such history, her great-grandmother was quilting it while she crossed the ocean on the USS Iowa.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Second Saturday ramblings

First, another gratuitous kitty pic, Stilts making herself comfortable on my just-washed sweater and a pillow.

I am so easily distracted. Of course that's why I have 20+ WIPs that span the types of needlework I do. And why things linger as WIPs for so long...

Take, for example, the fourth pair of socks I started knitting WAY back in December 2008 (right after I finished the third pair). I can't remember for sure, but I don't even think I mentioned them on the blog. I decided to try knitting two at a time. Bought a book, two pairs of circular needles, new yarn, and started them. Got through the ribbing, and then something else caught my attention, and I put them down for about 10 months. I just have to laugh at myself sometimes. :)

Anyway, I finally found them (I had to look through several project bags, yikes!), and then I had to find the book to remember how to do it. But before I got started, I made a knitted preemie hat, just so I could get back into the knitting groove, since I haven't knitted in months. Once I assured myself that my tension was all good again, I started working on the socks. And here's where I am now (yes, finally a picture - I didn't take one of my previous progress), working my way down the heel flaps.

The concept is interesting, and it's supposed to help combat SSS (Second Sock Syndrome), but I don't know that I really enjoy making socks this way, because it can definitely be confusing. I think I'd prefer to deal with SSS than trying to remember which set of needles I'm supposed to be working on and trying not to get everything tangled. Maybe I could just get two small circular needles and work two socks at the same time on them - separately. It's really just too much work this way (for something that's supposed to be relaxing!). But I plan to do this to the finish of this pair anyway, just so I can say I've been there, done that.

This month I finished my Second Saturday block, the Double X, on the day I got it. Just two more months (and a third finishing kit) to go.

And one last picture - I've started putting my Bamboo blocks into columns. Here's a so-so picture of the first three columns. There will eventually be black strips of fabric separating them, when I put them all together into the quilt top.

I have no idea what I'll be working on next, but I have a desire to bring out the Grandmother's Flower Garden quilt and put a few more hexagons together. I haven't worked on it in ages either...

Hope everyone is having a wonderful weekend!!!

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Holy smokes, it's October

As usual, this year seems to be flying by even faster than the last. We aren't even going to mention that C word - I'm in total denial about how fast the end of the year is approaching.

I finally put together September's block of the month - Fool's Square. I think this one is really pretty, and I love the fabrics in it. The scale of the prints, plus the difference in values, make it quite striking.

I finally decided on how to quilt my sunburst wedges (there are 8 of them) in the Quilter's Palette quilt. One down, seven to go.

And last but certainly not least, I finally have Happy Dance #6 of 16 in Chatelaine's Waterlily Pond quilt. I started this block way back in March. Then I put it down and didn't pick it back up until last week. Once I started stitching, I couldn't remember why in the world I put it down... until I got to the point where I did - some of my stitching in the dragonfly body was off by a stitch diagonally. But I didn't realize it until I had stitched a whole lot around it. It was too much to pick out, and I really didn't want to start over, so I set it aside. Sometimes, I just have to do that. And when I picked it up again, I didn't notice until I had stitched even more around it. So I left it as is - and just modified a little of the stitching. It's really only noticeable to me, and I probably won't even remember it once the blocks are all assembled into a quilt, because it doesn't look out of place - only when comparing it to the chart.

One thing I have noticed while stitching these charts is that, unfortunately, they are not complete, or they are different from the ones that were originally stitched as part of the mystery. Designs #5 and #6 in particular - the key does not have all of the symbols (yellow H and yellow D in particular), and I've had to go looking online for pictures of what other people stitched to figure out what they should be. And on Design #6, the border shows a single cross stitch in the chart, and does not mention any specialty stitches in the directions, but when I compared it to completed designs, I realized that there should also be an elongated cross stitch covered by a regular cross stitch in between the single cross stitches shown in the chart (or maybe it was a modified Smyrna cross). Or at least, that is how it appears in the ones I've seen online. The other thing is that dye lots may have changed some in the time since the chart's first release, because I know I have the correct thread colors (they match what is called for exactly in the variegated silks), but they look different from the completed pictures online, even taking into account camera and lighting differences. Just some observations...

Friday, October 02, 2009

Time for a little change

I was tiring of the pink and grey, so I decided to jazz it up a bit. Just in time for Fall, too. And it doesn't hurt that this is really a favorite color palette. Okay, tomorrow I plan to post a couple of new photos. Now it's time for bed. Happy weekend!!!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

And the WINNER is...

... (drumroll, please) ... my husband graciously agreed to draw the winning name out of a hat ...

Shadow 5618 (Teresa)!!

Teresa, if you will please send me an email ( as soon as possible, I will notify Annie so that you can claim your prize!

Congratulations, and I want to thank you all for taking the time to comment on my blog and enter the contest. Also, thanks for taking the time to stop by my blog even when I'm not having a contest. I love to share my experiences and projects, and I'm really glad that you all come by and visit with me!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Great Big Quilting Giveaway!

I don't often do giveaways, but this is just the most exciting one I've ever done.

Would you like to learn to quilt? Or would you just like to take a class with Annie Smith, the absolutely wonderful teacher from whom I recently took the online Quilter's Palette class?

The class is Quiltmaking 101 (begins October 2nd), which is for all skill levels – beginners to anyone who would just like make a beautiful quilt. The class runs for about 11 weeks and is a sampler of simple techniques.

The best part? If you leave a comment on THIS blog post, you will be entered into a drawing to attend the class online for FREE (an $85 value)! On September 27th, I will choose one lucky name from all those who have commented, so let me know if you'd like to learn to quilt!


Hurry and enter today, I'll be drawing one lucky winner's name in less than a week!

Butterfly Song with pendant

I didn't realize that the pendant would be this big, but I really like it.

I also decided to stitch on square #6 of the Waterlily Pond Quilt (Chatelaine), since I had already started it many months ago, so I should have that square finished soon.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

A plethora of photos

Just to start this post off right, my firstborn kitty-child, soaking up the afternoon sunshine.

And now, on to the quilting and stitching!

I had a blast at Moonlight Stitching again this month. It was wonderful, as always, to see Julie, Pat T., Susan, Sally, Joanie, Patricia, and Kimberly (and everyone else - these are just the girls at my table).

I've been doing a little bit of both lately, just have been remiss at taking photos until today. Quilting has commenced on the Quilter's Palette quilt, I've completed one block (Dresden Plate), and I'm working on two others. I thought I was finished with the Maple Leaf block, but decided I just needed something else in the larger white areas on each side, so I freehand drew a small leaf and short branch, and have quilted one of the four. Then I think that block will be finished. I'm also currently working on the background crosshatching quilting of the Crossed Roses block.

Dresden Plate

Maple Leaf

Crossed Roses

Now that Noel's and Tori's quilts are completed, I have brought back out my Bamboo and Pinwheels blocks. The Pinwheels are ready to start arranging, and the Bamboo blocks are still being pieced.

Bamboo blocks

Pinwheel blocks

I haven't yet pieced September's block of the month, but I am all caught up on my finishing kit blocks (30 so far).

I waited quite a while before taking my first picture of Stilts (aka My Security Blanket by Patricia Allison). She looks a little strange still (but not as weird as before I backstitched her eyes!), but hopefully soon I'll finish her nose and mouth and can work my way down the flag.

I have decided to begin two new cross stitch projects after I finish Stilts. I should be able to stitch both of them from stash. The one that CC picked out was Take Time To Quilt by Jeannette Douglas. I chose a different overdyed silk floss for this, so I'll probably look at my stash and see what I have to go with it. I will probably need to get the charm, but that's all.

The other design that I have been thinking about stitching for a while is Mirabilia's Deco Spirits. I don't know why, but this design speaks to me. I don't have anything art deco in my house, but I have admired this design for a long time.

I haven't abandoned my other projects, but I am just not yet ready to come back to them, so a break from them is definitely in order. Of course, knowing me, I'll want to stitch on one or two of them as I work through these two new projects, but I'll just let that come as it may.

Okay, I'm going to get off this computer now and go stitch!