Monday, December 01, 2008

Quilting Away....

It's always amazing to me how fast hand quilting goes even when you can only sit at it for 15 or 20 minutes at a time in between everything else. I guess it's that same ole advice on how to eat an ELEPHANT...one bite at a time!

I'm still working on the center, while thinking of what I want to do in the borders. The stripped outer border is easy enough to figure out..it's those big purple areas that I haven't decided on yet. It's my fave thing to just draw a feather in there and quilt it...but...does that make me too predictable?

The Jan/Feb 2009 issue of Quiltmaker Magazine is out to subscribers. I have a quilt pattern and article in there, and can I get my hands on the magazine? NO!! I may have to run and hit Barnes & Noble today to see if it is on the shelves yet. Silly me..I don't have a subscription,because when I have a quilt in an issue, they send me my copy free, so why have doubles? Now I'm chomping at the bit to see it.

Here are a couple pics of an antique Princess Feather quilt I snuck pics of in the museum in Charlotte. Don't worry, I didn't use flash! But I wish you could have seen it up close. I think how these ladies did all this work by window light....or kerosene at night...it's a wonder they didn't go blind! I know with my eyes, I can never get ENOUGH light...how did they do it?

I love 4 block quilts. Maybe some day I'll do more applique, but right now if I'm going to be hand stitching anything, I want it to be quilting, not applique. If I hang around appliquers long enough, will it rub off on me? Or will I always see things divided up geometrically into little pieced pieces? I really love that diamond sashing on this antique quilt :c)

DH & Son are both off to work and I am HOME ALONE! I've got the turkey carcass all boiled and picked, the broth chilled until it gels to remove the fat from the top. This morning all the veggies are chopped, the meat added back to the broth and all is simmering in my crock pot. I love days like this....

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Hezekiah Alexander's Stone House

we had a great time visiting with Jason, Kim and her parents over Thanksgiving. It's amazing how much warmer a 3 hour drive can make you. The difference? About 10 degrees. It isn't that much in the summer, but in the winter...it makes all the difference between freezing and being warm! I also realized how much I miss all the green pine trees. They add so much more color to winter surroundings.

The area around where I live doesn't have nearly the amount of pines that SC does. We've got tons of hard woods..so in the winter time, the surroundings look like a bunch of dead sticks and twigs. This also means that you drive through the country side in full view of people's old buicks left up on blocks, old washing machines dumped at the end of the property, old farm equipment, etc. I liked it better in the summer where I couldn't see anyone from my kitchen window...just green trees.

Jason and Kim have an adorable pair of orange tabby cats they adopted a year ago as small kittens. What a pair these are! I always look forward to visiting my "grand kitties" to see what they are up to. The little boy's name is Coheed...and he has gotten HUGE! His favorite thing to do is to crawl into any available space, which includes the cabinet under the bathroom sink (where he proceeds to shred any bit of toilet paper that is within his reach!) a grocery bag, a box, and even MY duffel! I had placed my duffel on the kitchen table, packing, getting ready for our trip home, and I returned to find Coheed nestled deeply within. Too funny!

The little girl is Cambria, and she maybe small,but her motor is HUGE!! She has the loudest purr I've ever heard, and she is very affectionate.

On our way home from SC we stopped at the Charlotte Museum of History They have the 1774 Hezekiah Alexander Stone House on property, and you can tour it. You know me and history! I love seeing things like this, thinking what my life would have been like 225 years ago. What they had to do just to survive, to feed a family, to preserve food. Don't get me wrong, I love my modern conveniences, and I wouldn't give them up to go back in time like that, but I still feel a connection to the past.

It was amazing to see the date stamped in the cornerstone of the house. The furnishings are original. The house was lived in through WWII, and at some point it was electrified, but it had no running water or indoor plumbing added...ever..The original owner lived here with his wife and 10 children. It is amazing that all of those children lived to adulthood. That wasn't always the case in those days.

Visiting the museum was a great way to miss out on the Holiday shopping. Or should I say AVOID IT COMPLETELY!?? I am not one of those who runs out for Black Friday shopping. Black Friday is always a day for me to just stay in and spend quiet time. It's been raining since last night, so today is much the same, and I am perfectly fine with that!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving, Everyone!

We are off this morning to Columbia where we will be spending Turkey Day with Jason and Kim, and Kim's parents, Charlotte & Jerry.

I'm packing the car....leaving this morning because I have a dental appt in Columbia, before I can even get to the FUN stuff. I broke a crown when I was in PA, and it has taken me until now to be able to be home long enough to go home to my dentist that did the crown in the first place (won't trust anyone else!) and today is the DAY!

I'm wishing you all full tummies and full hearts! Find some down time in there some where to take a few Grateful Stitches over this wonderful long weekend! I'm not sure how long we will be gone, maybe late Friday or early Saturday. Jeff isn't coming...he has to work. Ahhhhh, Bliss.....a job for Jeff..it's been SO wonderful. *LOL*

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Just Quilt It....NOW!!

I finished the machine quilting on Kim and Jason's Carolina Crossroads quilt. I'm sure Charlotte will be stymied....she dropped it off to me for quilting over 4th of July weekend. What can I say about best laid intentions? It turned out REALLY nice, and when she gets the binding on, we'll get pics of it to post. Right now, I wanted her to be the FIRST to see it, so..the world will have to wait. :c)

Last night I had a VERY fun evening! Middle of the afternoon I got an email from Karen saying she had to be downtown earlier than our scheduled bee meeting, and would anyone like to join her for dinner? SURE!! Rain didn't stop me either. I managed to find Trade Street in downtown Winston Salem, and even managed to PARALLEL park in the first spot I came across. Well, mostly. I think I was too far from the curb, but the car behind me wasn't leaving much wiggle room..so I called it good enough.

I met up with Karen at Chelsee's Coffee shop, and was told that Lisa was also joining us for dinner. Because Sweet Potatoes was closed monday nights, we ended up at a little Irish Pub place called Finnegan's Wake. YUMMY FOOD! I had the teriyaki beef tips, sauteed veggies, and grilled asparagus. I know Teriyaki is NOT Irish, but hey...it was the special and I was in a special mood!

From there we walked back up to Chelsees to meet with the other Ms Bee Havens for our monthly chatter-bee. There were only a couple of us doing needle work, so that's why it was more of a chatter-bee than a quilting bee. I'd never been to Chelsees before either, but I really enjoyed it..they have a sitting area in the back with a fireplace, comfy couches and chairs and we had a good visit for about 2 1/2 hours!

Chelsee's also displays work of local artists in the shop, hanging things on the walls. A couple months (?) ago, Karen displayed her art quilts, and now Lisa has her traditional quilts hanging there through the month of November. I'm so proud of these girls! Their work is top notch.

I was able to finish the hand quilting on my Crossed Tulips machine applique. It's SO FOLKY...I just love it! I did the hand quilting right through everything, appliques and all, and I tell you...that starching everything stiff before machine appliquing was just the ticket. The starch washed out, the appliques are soft, I had control with the machine. I'll definately be exploring more of this.

I also want to admit that I quilted this one from the BACK also. Crumbs are so busy to try to see black thread through, especially since I was following Tonya's lead and freehanding my fans. Chalk lines make it easy to see what you are doing, but freehanded? I could see better by quilting the quilt upside down. So I did! I guess that might make it look like a left-hander did my quilting because from the front the fans go the opposite direction. Let them wonder!

So now the binding and sleeve are on and ready for handwork as is the label.
I might get working on stitching the binding down tonight.

The next hand quilting project? Why stop when I'm on a roll! I've basted "JUST QUILT IT" and it's ready to go. I pieced together some funky stuff for the backing. I'm not sure what I'm going to quilt where yet, because these blocks aren't uniform. I cared more about the width of the blocks than the height....and just let it be really free form. Maybe the quilting will follow suit? At any case, it's ready to go with me in the car to Columbia tomorrow for Turkey Day.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Sunday on Pilot Mountain....

If you are an Andy Griffith fan, or watched it as a kid,you will remember the town of Mayberry, RFD. Mayberry is patterned after Mt Airy, NC, where Andy Griffith grew up. The highway is even NAMED after Andy Griffith around Mt Airy!

If you remember Mayberry, you may also remember many references of trips they took to "Mount Pilot". Mount Pilot is actually Pilot Mountain in reverse, and it is a real town and mountain!

Yesterday was a gorgeous sunny day, and so we decided to drive the 45 miles to visit Pilot Mountain. We enjoyed the vistas, did a LOT of hiking. The trails go from moderate to tough, and the stairs up and down are actually large slabs of stone. In other words, who needs a stair master??

The "Knob" of Pilot Mountain, or the "Big Pinnacle" as it is named is just breathtaking. There are trails that go all the way around the base, and we walked that yesterday. It was icy chilly in the shade, the kind that makes you want to draw your hands up inside your sleeves for warmth because you didn't think you would need your gloves! But as soon as you got around the sunny side....out came the hands, and down went the coat zipper!

After hiking around Mount Pilot, we drove to Mt Airy (AKA Mayberry) to see the downtown. Of course, like all good southern small towns, it is all closed up on a Sunday, but it was fun to see things like Floyd's Barber Shop, and Opie's Candy store! We will go back on another day when places are open. They even have an original Mayberry police car there, but we didn't stay long enough to see it.

Of course, the antique malls I wanted to visit were closed as well. Probably a good thing! Besides...I had family with me, and they would have moaned and groaned to all get out if I had made them tag along ;c)

I spent the late afternoon/evening cleaning my sewing room. Oh MAN did it need it. I dusted, arranged, re-arranged, de cluttered, EVERYTHING. I'm settling back in to being home.

While I was cleaning, I caught a couple funny shots of Oscar. I have a bin on top of my file cabinet behind my desk armoir door...I guess he thought it was a small cozy place to take a nap! What a Gomer :cD (And yes, another nickname from the Andy Griffith Show!)

Would you believe that today I am MACHINE QUILTING!?? Is it like riding a bicycle? Will I have forgotten how? I have Jason & Kim's Carolina Crossroads on the machine. I want to have it done to take to Columbia with me for Thanksgiving. So funny, when I told the kids that if Charlotte (Kim's mom) did the piecing, I'd do the quilting..and she said it would take TEN YEARS. Well, the person who took the longest was ME. I guess I couldn't help being gone, but I'm sure wanting this quilt done for them.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

3am Hotflash.....Done!

My two boxes came from Wisconsin....the stuff that wouldn't fit into my luggage :c) Along with it was the 3am hotflash quilt that only needed the binding finished,and the sleeve sewn down. I finished it yesterday while watching a movie on TV..with my feet up in the recliner.

I gently washed the quilt, and blocked it to dry. I really like the crinkly texture of cotton quilts when washed. The quilting just sinks in and the detail comes to life, playing against the patches.

Today is bright and clear,but cold for NC in November! It was only 25 degrees this morning. Patches of snow were still there along the interstate as I went to go do some shopping and errands, the patches hidden beneath the limbs of evergreens and hardwood trees, places where the sun couldn't reach to fully melt it yesterday.

And HA to me....I thought I was leaving all this stuff back in Wisconsin and Detroit, and here I seem to have brought cold and snow back with me!

Never mind....it makes it feel more like Thanksgiving. I even hung a Christmas stocking today :c) This one was a gift from Patsy of Middle of Nowhere where I enjoyed being a guest during my time in Wisconsin. I love this stocking SO much Patsy! I keep looking at the patches, the corners chopped off, the interesting quilting design in the alternate blocks. I wish I could know this lady (or this young girl?) and how she came upon her quilting designs...

I've got a fire going in the wood stove...a pot of soup in the crock pot, no where else I need to go today, and the machine is calling me for some more 3.5" stringy crumb blocks. How many do I have so far? Almost 180! They are safety pinned in groups of 10, which makes them easy to count. Do I know what I'm doing yet? Oh, I have some ideas...maybe it will be a whole series..*LOL* All I know is that basket I showed the other day is still not looking at all DOWN. 180 blocks, all with 5 to 8 pieces in them...that is a lot of pieces given purpose, you know? But it is not making a dent. There are still lots of LITTLE pieces left. Little triangles and such. I've been using them for the corners of the string blocks,but I'm also thinking of something I can paper piece with them to give them purpose as well. Maybe a small pineapple or a flying geese block? I wonder....just how many quilts I can get out of this stuff??

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Feeling Crumbie....

This is the kind of day I've been longing to have for MONTHS. I am NOT going anywhere...doing anything.....but maybe going out for a walk in a bit.

I am sewing crumb blocks. Maybe they are really more stringy than crumbie, but the size means I can use lots more small pieces. The blocks are 3.5" unfinished.

Do I know how I want to set them? NOPE. How many I want to make? NOPE. I just want to be in my room mindlessly sewing, listening to Lifetime Movie Network while I sew, making a complete huge ole mess, and making a pile of blocks that will become "something, someday."

I've been living with lots of deadlines and lists and itineraries. Today is mine. To do nothing but sew! I'll worry about the other upcoming stuff later. I think I really do need at least one "mental health" day just to play!

Oscar and Chloe are here with me, as you can tell, they are not quite impressed with my progress. :cD

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

...If I Had A Hammer.....

Remember that song?

"If I had a hammer, I'd hammer in the mornin' I'd hammer in the evenin' All over this land..."

Well, that's how I've been feeling. Ever since getting the walls painted, and my efforts to hang everything back UP.

There are at least THREE hammers in this household that I am aware of. But does ANYONE ever put them back where they got them? NO! ARGHGHG!!!!

SO..today...lookee what I bought for ME! It's Pink....and since it's PINK they better keep their paws off!

It has ALL the goodies you see on the label.....pink and purple EVERYTHING! MINE...all MINE. The first person I see who is NOT me with these pink/purple tools in their mitts better watch out.....more better yet, go find their own tools wherever they left them because I know they left them SOMEWHERE!

Cost for cool pink tool case with tools? $20 bucks.
Having my own tools when and where I need them (and PINK!)? PRICELESS!

P.S. So many people have mailed to ask where I got the lovely pink tools....where else? WALMART! :cD

Monday, November 17, 2008

How Blissful is Housework!

Yes, I'm home...so much has CHANGED in my surroundings here in the 2 weeks I've been gone! I couldn't tell last night, got home about 9:30pm, of course in full darkness, but this morning I noticed that ALL the leaves are down now, and it really feels like winter is arriving in NC...

Not as bad as Detroit though! It was snowing pretty good when we took off..we had to stop on the runway for more de-icing...get me outta there! :cD

Really, I love the snow...as long as the sun comes out afterwards and the sky is blue and...have I mentioned this before?

So what have I done all day? Laundry. Vacuuming. Mopping. Dishes. Cleaning off appliances. Grocery shopping. Bank run. Post office run. You get the idea. Tackled the HUGE pile of snail mail that has been waiting for me to come home.

The best part? I've been home ALONE all day!Jeff is at work...Dave is in Hickory...I'm HOME ALONE!! Of course I am dying to SEW, but it will have to wait until my ducks are in a row. That means luggage unpacked, house taken care of,etc.

Domestic chores are soul centering in their own right, though, aren't they? I haven't had to talk to anyone other than the pets, the phone really hasn't rang. I've had MY music on the stereo, and I'm singing along just doing my thing, putting my life back in order so I can enjoy the next month off.

Wherever I go I like to check out different teas. I just love tea. Here is a pic of a couple new ones I bought. Nothing like a cup of tea in a dainty china cup (my great grandmother's!) from a pretty tea pot. BY MYSELF!

And yes, I do love the fruity flavors. And the Vanilla flavors too. I know some don't, but I do....oh yes, and cinnamon spicy chi type teas are top of my list as well!

There may be sewing going on tomorrow....but for today, I'm not pushing it!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Blogging From Detroit!

So here I sit in Detroit, a 3 hour layover...Actually, it is not too bad because for the first time in 2 weeks I am sitting at a gate all by myself, just typing with my thoughts. Detroit looks pretty gray and chilly, in fact, my flight from Madison was delayed because they had to "de-ice" the wings. Oh...I am so happy to be going back SOUTH!!

I don't mind the cold..but ice is tricky. I don't mind the snow as long as the sun comes out and the sky goes blue and sunny, but that gray stuff that lingers for days, where it feels perpetually 4pm all day long...that drags on me.

I've had a WONDERFUL time. You know, I got to meet people that I've only known through blogging and internet groups, and it is so fun how they appear just how they do in email. I think conversation and communication really is the key to knowing someone. I felt right at home with these ladies because we have worked on this trip for the past year or so...and it went off without a hitch.

I have my camera card in the computer...but I am having a hard time running the program to get them into a folder and able to edit them down. Pictures may still need to wait until I get home to deal with them, but then again..a lot can be done in 3 hours! There maybe be pictures to this post by the time I am done!

The first thing I can tell you is that I was able to finish the hand quilting on 3am hot flash! The binding is in progress. I packed up a couple of boxes to UPS home so I didn't have to deal with excess baggage. They won't beat me home, but should be there by wednesday, so you'll get pics of that then.

I have started the hand quilting on my crumb-y tulips and that is going fast. I'm quilting it from the BACK because I am quilting with black thread and it is easier to see what the heck I'm doing. I just couldn't see the stitches in the miriad of fabric scraps and crumbs in the front.

(AS I'm sitting here, I'm uploading a slide show to webshots..yeah!)

Here is the first slide show, mostly Illinois, a bit of Wisconsin, all before the Madison retreat.

I have to tell you about the most amazing experience....okay, it was ALL amazing..but I was able to travel to Patsy McClusky's Homestead Retreat.

It really IS an authentic old cabin turned into a wonderful retreat center that sleeps 24! I was able to spend one afternoon sewing before we had to go to Spring Green to do a lecture/trunkshow at Spring Green, Wisconsin. I wasn't sure how many people to expect, we were holding it at Arthur's Restaurant, and like Patsy's blog says..it's the "Middle of NOWHERE." Imagine my surprise when BUSLOADS of quilters started arriving!

Guilds had chartered busses and had a grand time talking and luaghing and singing and visiting from outlying areas to come to our trunkshow! One bus almost hit a deer...so that was quite the talk of the town for a bit, but I also understand that deer are like squirrels out there...everywhere..so we shouldn't have been surprised.

The next morning I had to leave Patsy's at 6am to get to Oconomowoc (And yes, after all this time I have learned how to spell it!) for a class there. I did several guilds in the area, spending from Tuesday morning to Sunday afternoon (today) as the Guest of Cathy and Tom who hosted me in their beautiful home on the lake, fed me full, tucked me into a dark quiet guestroom, and converted me to the wonder of heated floors on a cold wintery morning...ohhhhh! My toes have never been so toasty!

The gals in the Oconomowoc area were wonderful. I feel like I've added new friends to my life! We are thinking of a retreat in 2010...will have to book that on my calendar :c)

Wisconsin Nov 2008
This slideshow includes the Janesville gal's reterat in Madison, and the Oconomowoc workshops....I am SO inspired by the fabrics that everyone was using for the various projects. Several ladies were doing theirs in Christmas fabrics and I thought that was a cool idea. I neer feel like sewing for Christmas until After Thanksgiving, and by then it's too late to really do anything but create a new UFO..so...if you take a class, pull out the Christmas fabrics and away you go!

I really LOVED the Virginia Bound quilts done with the Christmas fabrics..way to go!

Okay everyone..that should catch you up just a bit. I've got another hour or so here in Detroit, but I'm going to walk around, find some dinner (Heaven forbid they feed you ANYTHING on the plane anymore, it's just a beverage) and wing my way home. I am now HOME for a full month before I leave for the Netherlands on Nov 15th! OH happy day...I'm going to S E W !!!! (I am in desparate need of more machine time!)

My best to you!