Friday, April 30, 2010

Thinking Ahead

My recent mis-patch corrected, I have the top for Meg and Ben's baby finished.  The more I look at those little trees, the more I love them.  I'd like to get this sandwiched and pin-basted so I can be handquilting or tying it when I go to see Amy and Andrew after Hambone's birth.  I don't have a name for this quilt yet and am certainly open to suggestions.

I noticed -- once again -- what a mess the sewing studio has become!  I so admire people who are neat by nature and automatically tidy everything up after a project is completed.  Of course, it doesn't help to always have at least three projects in the works the way I do.  So I took a little time and put the Baskets for Bill and the Farmer's Wife into project boxes.  I gathered up the caramel and indigo fabrics I have for another basket project and put them all together in one place.

Then I started cutting 2.5 inch strips to finish the wee little 9-patches for that swap.  As soon as those are finished, I have my FQ Shop mystery block to do -- I hope sometime this weekend -- and now another FQ BOM has begun:  I subscribed to Martinique in a moment of utter weakness.  So that will be next up.  And then I have a few gifts to make for this summer.  And a dress for Caroline.  And a couple of cute pillowcases for Sam and Caroline.

So many ideas.  So little time.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Bo's Behavior

I don't know what's gotten into him lately.  He's always been famous for his aloofness.  And his skittishness.

He's a guy who resists cuddling, who tolerates being picked up but seldom jumps into a lap.  Sleeps on the bed out of necessity (warmth) rather than companionship.

But lately, in the past five or six days, he's been voluntarily climbing into Joe's lap and settling in for a cosy visit.  And when I've picked him up, he's relaxed (well, somewhat) and even napped a bit in my lap.  Totally out of character for Bodacious, the worst-named cat in history.

And in the past two days has provided us with not one but two small mouse offerings.  In April, no less, not October when we've come to expect such tributes.

Think he's workin' up to something?  Maybe asking some girl cat to move in?


Tuesday, April 27, 2010

A Word to the Wise

Marsha No Blog [Yet] found this and shared it with the White Oak crew. Isn't it grand?

You can buy it on a mug, shirt, or bumper sticker here.

No affiliation.  Just admiration.  Yadda yadda yadda.

Botany Baby

While I was visiting my new grandson and his family, I finished hand quilting the border on this baby quilt.  It is made from one charm pack of "Botany," with Botany binding.  The yellow stripe is not from that line, but I saw it in the store when I bought the charm packs, and thought it went really well.

I quilted diagonal lines across it and then a garland of little leaves on the border.  I believe you can click to enlarge it if you want to get up close and personal.  I like this quilt, which is for Carol's grandbaby who is due in June, and I believe it to be gender nonspecific, the pink blocks notwithstanding. 

I bought a second charm pack from that line and have been slowly making them into QSTs.  I ordered some yellow background Botany for the lattices.  I'd like to get it together sometime this summer, so that I can hand quilt it at leisure and have it on hand for when I need another baby quilt.

Speaking of which, the phone rang at 5:15 this morning.  I sprang out of bed, knowing it was Andrew with news of Hambone's arrival.  Alas, couldn't have been further from the case -- it was a wrong number from someone who was trying to reach the hospice program.

I didn't get back to sleep.  Oh, well!

Monday, April 26, 2010

COW* Talk Time

Well, it's that time again.  Time to clear out some crankiness.  There are just a few things irritating the heck out of me these days.

Let's start with Pearle Vision.  When I was in Richmond, the frame of my glasses broke.  Sidepiece just snapped.  Didn't think they could be put back together, but put them away and bought a pair of drugstore glasses to tide me over.  On my return, I took them back to where I'd bought them in February of 2009.  Turns out the warranty was for one year.  One year for a frame that cost $160.  For the frames alone.  The clerk most affably extended the warranty and it turns out that the warranty is good for half the cost of the defective goods.  So I picked out new frames of a more traditional type that won't snap and forked over my $80.  Pearle will cover the replacement lenses and the other half of the frame.  But still.  I think this is just outrageous.

Not outrageous, but annoying is the phenomenon of some bloggers now including advertisements on their blogs.  It's not enough that we visit their blogs?  That we admire their quilts?  That we link them on our blogs?That we buy the books they have written?  Is that not enough?  Apparently not.  Now we have to see ads for Werther's candy and other random stuff when we go to see what kind of quilt the blogger has in the works.  Slows down the loading of the page, too.  Sheesh.  I mean, really!

Have saved the worst for last, and I'm dead serious about this one [you should pardon the pun].  Someone whom I've just "unfriended" on Facebook posted this as her status:


This person is advocating prayers that the President of the United States will die.  Sorry, friends, but I cannot take this lightly even if it was meant as some sort of a terrible "joke," spelling errors aside.  The past year and a half have brought about an enormous decrease in civility in our country and I wonder where, when, and how it will stop.  And just for the record, Sharlene is not an angry twelve-year-old.  She's a woman in her early sixties who, last I knew, was a teacher in a Catholic school!

Okay.  Feeling some relief at having gotten these complaints off my chest.  Back to Business As Usual.

*Cranky Old Woman, Near Philadelphia

Sunday, April 25, 2010


The scene to the left was part of the late night news last night.   Fifteen hundred nurses, other professionals and technical workers from a large inner-city hospital in an area of Philadelphia where random shootings are frequent have gone on strike.  As in, refusing to do their jobs.  Not going to work.

In a time when unemployment is so high, when small businesses are closing right and left, when my friend told me yesterday that the company her husband works for is laying off 4000 people nationwide, these people are refusing to do their jobs.

The news reporter interviewed one woman who said that she was eating up her savings by being on strike.  She actually has savings to squander as she refuses to do her job.  Unlike another friend whose husband has been out of work for many months and is struggling to survive on unemployment compensation. 

I have never had a lot of respect for people who go on strike.  I've always thought, "If you don't like the conditions at the job you have, go work someplace else where you'll be happier." 

In the current job market, maybe these nurses, other professionals, and technical workers would have a bit of a hard time finding a job where they'd be happier.  But they are striking nonetheless.  They are refusing to work.  Possibly compromising the care and the lives of the patients in the hospital in this already depressed area of the city.  Refusing to work at a job that they accepted, knowing the conditions of employment at the time they took the job.  Choosing to march around carrying picket signs in a neighborhood where people would be grateful to have any job at all, much less a high-paying position that required a great deal of training.

Refusing to work.

I don't get it.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

A Quilt for an August Girl

Joe was with me in Richmond for the first part of the week.  He had started a little home remodeling project there with Tom several weeks ago and it needed to be finished.  So, while I cooked, washed, and entertained Anastasia, he hammered and sawed and trimmed.  His project turned out so well!  What he did was install a room divider with French doors at one end of the living room, at a natural division spot, effectively making two rooms out of one.  So Tom now has a teaching studio once again, having surrendered his spot to Nathaniel.

I finished the hand-quilting on the gender neutral quilt for Ben and Mia's June baby and will be binding it this weekend.  Photo op upon completion.  Once that was finished, I had some stamped bibs to embroider for Nate and completed all of them.

One afternoon during naptime, Joe took me out to Quilting Adventures.  I know I've mentioned previously how much I like this shop.  I'm mentioning it again.  We learned that dear friends of Andrew and Amy are expecting a little baby girl in August, and of course this little soul must be warm when autumn comes along.  Don't you love the fabrics we picked out for her quilt?  I certainly do.  The light fabric with the trees will be the background and the other fabrics will be used for six-inch blocks.  Not positive what block yet, but you know how it is with me -- if it isn't baskets, it is Louisiana, so it is a good chance it will be one or the other!  My hope is to get this top assembled and sandwiched before it is time to go and tend to Amy after Hambone's birth.  He's due a week from today.  So a busy time is ahead!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Home from Richmond

I got home last night around nine o'clock after what felt like the longest train ride in history.  Arrived at Richmond train station as directed, 30 minutes before departure.  'Cept departure was 40 minutes later than scheduled.  Then we paused outside of Alexandria for about 20 minutes to let a commuter train through and again for a half-hour in D.C. to switch crew and engines.  A rough ending to a glorious week.

Nate is a marvelous baby; truly the calmest, most easy going one that I've ever encountered.  Not a glimpse of the famous red-haired temperment.  Very, very mellow.  Anastasia is a terrific mom who has the good sense to let the phone ring if it isn't convenient to answer it and to sleep when the baby sleeps.  They're going to be fine.  Tom is still a bit awkward with Nate, but obviously adores him.  Everything is falling into place.  They go back to the pediatrician today and I just know there will be a weight gain.  I could almost watch it happening while I was there.

I cooked, did laundry, and sat with the new mom.  And held the baby.

And cried when I left him.  I knew it would be hard.  But it was so much harder than I'd thought.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010


I've added a few new blogs to my sidebar in the past couple of weeks and there are a couple more in my "Favorites" file that I visit once a week or so.  A lot of these eventually move into the sidebar, and at that point I clean out blogs that have been inactive for a long time and move them back into the "Favorites" file.  I thought I might share some of these finds with you today.

I can't remember where I got the link to Joan's blog which is one in the "Favorites" destined to the sidebar soon.  Her quilts are varied and all are gorgeous.  And she posts pics of kangaroos, too!  I keep thinking I'm going to follow her links, but always get too distracted by what she's got going on, and never quite manage it.

Diana hasn't been blogging a whole lot lately, but I always like to see what she's doing.  She's the person who put me onto Piecemeal -- you know, the basket lady.  Scroll about half-way down to see some more very sweet baskets.

It's always fun to pop in on The Silly Boodilly to see what she's up to. She makes spectacular, crisp-looking small projects that look so easy and you just know there is an immense amount of thought that goes into each one.

You Go Girl is presently doing a tutorial series on really, really nice pillowcases.  Makes me wish I could crochet.  But I can't.

I'm presently in Richmond adoring Nathaniel and having a wonderful time.  I discovered that I forgot to bring the little doohicky that loads the pictures from the camera into the computer.  So I'll have that to do when I go home, where Joe is now holding down the fort after spending a few days here with Tom and Anastasia and me.  He completed a construction project he'd begun down here about a month ago and it looks spectacular.  I'd totally forgotten just how wonderful a brand new person smells.  Nate has a wise little old man look about him and he has just captivated all of us.  I'm not going to want to come home . . . .

Friday, April 16, 2010

Salad Dressing

Did this ever happen to you?

You had a friend over for a meal.  She liked what you made and asked for the recipe.  You obliged.  Later on, you and some others are invited to the friend's home for a meal.  She serves a casserole that is good, but somehow a little bit off.  One of the other guests makes a comment about the casserole and the hostess announces that the recipe came from you!  Turns out that she didn't have mayonnaise, so she substituted salad dressing.  And she didn't have a big enough can of water chestnuts, so she used celery instead.  And her cheddar cheese had started to get a little blue, but there was some swiss handy.  And it was your recipe?

That's kind of what happened here.  These are the three latest basket blocks.  The top one came from one of the Around the Block books.  The other two sort of came from Piecemeal's basket block library.  Sort of.  The one with all those lovely triangles in the base, well, she suggested the possibility of a handle, but didn't put one on hers.  I took the suggestion and made my first ever bias basket handle.  I like it.

And the blue one -- well, I'd come home from work tired and a bit cranky and somehow got the triangles for the handle going the wrong way.  When I saw what had happened, I didn't have it in me to take it all apart.  So I took out the very top background square and put in the yellow one.  I think it is a perfectly acceptable basket. 

It just isn't Piecemeal's. 

'Cause I used salad dressing.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Clogged Mailbox, Once Again

I did a search on my blog and found "comment amnesty" in December and in September of 2009. Here we are in April, and I need to claim a quarterly comment amnesty. My mailbox is full once again with a couple hundred emails, at least half of which are blog comments.

I'd done really well for quite a while at keeping up with responses. Well, that's over. For a while anyway.

I'm grateful for each and every comment that my readers have left. I've read every word of every one. I so appreciate your kind words on my posts, on my quilts, on our new family member. It's a busy time of the school year, and it's a busy time of family life, and while I want and need to continue to post to my blog, at present I really, really need to empty my mailbox.

Thank you so much for your comments, especially the most recent congratulatory ones on the arrival of Nathaniel Joseph.  We are truly blessed.  And there's another grandson due in two more weeks!

I'll try again (and prolly again and again) to keep current with my responses to comments, as soon as things settle down.

Golly, that just brought to mind someone I knew about thirty years ago who responded to a similar promise by saying, "Things don't settle down."

I just hope she was wrong!

How I Wonder What You Are

Yesterday morning I had reason to go down to the arts wing of the school and while I was there, I heard a familiar sound.  The beginning strings class was in session, and they were playing "Twinkle Twinkle, Little Star."

I had a flash back in time.  It really didn't seem that long ago that I heard a version of Twinkle by a beginning string player.

My kids didn't attend the independent school where I work; we are fortunate to live in a very good school district.  Back in the mid-80s, the music department was trying out something new.  They had always started instrumental classes in the fourth grade.  And so many kids were interested in horns and drums that they were having difficulty filling the strings program.  So they tried an experiment:  They acquired a supply of cardboard violins of a small size and each third grade student was given a half-dozen lessons.  The ones that showed promise brought home a note to that effect.  Tom came home with a note "Please rent a viola."  So off we went, not entirely sure what a viola was.

Joe and I appreciate music and subscribe to the Philadelphia Orchestra.  The classical channel is our radio station of choice.  Each of us studied an instrument as a child, but showed no particular aptitude and let it go. 

Tom played that small-size viola through third grade.  When it was time to return it to the supplier at the end of the year, he was genuinely unhappy.  So we found him a nearby teacher, and then another as he made progress.  We bought that viola and, later on, another.  He was blessed to have good teachers who, for the most part, knew when it was time to refer him on to someone else.  He was fortunate to have a wonderful string teacher in school who didn't argue for a minute when he was a senior and told her that he wanted to form a string quartet and would she please excuse the four of them from orchestra practice one day a week.  He attended a camp where he learned about chamber music.

And he changed the culture of our family, because the year he began studying viola, Sherry saw what was going on and asked to play the flute.  So I found out what Twinkle sounded like on a woodwind. And when his turn came along, Andrew picked up that small viola and we heard Twinkle yet again.  They stayed with musical instruments all the way through public school, playing in the pit orchestra for the musical theatre productions and filling our autumn Saturday evenings with marching band competitions. 

Andrew was finished with instrumental music after high school.  Sherry continued with into college and met her husband in band camp there.  Tom went studied viola performance in college and made his living as a musician in Manhattan for six years after graduation.  He married a harpist that he met at a summer music festival.

Now Tom is a father.  Nate is one week old and at present produces only vocal music.  But it is just a matter of time, I believe, until Tom and Anastasia hear those first scratchy notes of Twinkle.

I wonder what the instrument will be.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Any Selvedge Freaks Out There?

I've trimmed the selvedges from the Morris Workshop FQs I've used thus far and they are all in a tidy little pile.  Just waiting for Bodacious to pounce on them.

So before he does that, I think I should trim the selvedges from the rest of the FQs and send them to someone who knows what to do with them.  'Cause I've just not got into the selvedge thing.  God knows I have enough vices!

Anyone interested?  In the selvedges, not my vices!

Update:  Well, that didn't take long!  Ten minutes, maybe?  Selvedges have been claimed and will be heading south to Elaine.  Suppose she knows the Soggy Bottom Boys?

Monday, April 12, 2010

God Bless Nate's Co-Grandmother!

for she has sent me pictures!

Baskets of Bill, Part Four in a Series

What does a person do while waiting for news of a baby?  During the week, at work, it isn't so hard -- there is plenty to do to take one's mind off of the waiting, the anticipation.  The weekend, however, is Another Story.

A person is very fortunate, indeed, if she is immersed in basket production.  Particularly intricate ones that take a while to make.  These four have been produced since last I posted baskets.  I'm particularly partial to the top one and the one on the left.  The bottom one, the one that appears to be the easiest to make, gave me fits.  Prolly because I was finishing it today, filled with excitement at the news of Nate's arrival.

Isn't it funny -- when we asked Tom what his son's name is, and he told us "Nathaniel Joseph -- he'll be called Nate," I thought, "Well, of course it is Nathaniel."  Although the name had never crossed my mind before!  It just sounds so right!  It was the same way when Samuel was born.  It was as if we'd always anticipated Samuel Eugene.l  And, of course, with Caroline, I had the premonition.

It is hard to wait to meet him.  And, after having Sam and Caroline living just a half-hour drive away, it will be very different having Nathaniel living five hours away. 

Okay, Hambone -- now it is your turn to make an appearance!  We're eager to meet you, as well!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

A Baby is Such a Nice Way to Start a Person

The phone rang about ten minutes ago.  It was Richmond calling.

Nathaniel Joseph is here.  He weighs 7-1/2 pounds.  He is 18 inches long.  He has red hair!

I will meet him on April 21.  This will be the longest ten days of my life!

Saturday, April 10, 2010


A wonderful distraction from the Baby Watch has turned out to be these terrific blocks for The Farmer's Wife!  They came in the post the other day from Pat, one of the three women I've arranged to swap ten blocks each with.  Pat (who is also on baby watch, by the by -- her granddaughter Madeline Rose is past due at this point)  threw in some bonus blocks; she said their names made her think of me -- [Near] Philadelphia Pavement, Foxy Grandma [or Grandpa] and another whose name eludes me at the moment, most likely Scrambled Granny or some such.  Names notwithstanding, aren't these blocks just precious and adorable?  Tilt your head to the left and look at the picture again -- they're even more wonderful!

So wonderful, in fact, that in my state of aroused emotion as a very anticipatory grandma, I'm thinking about The Farmer's Wife again.  Y'all know I'd pretty much decided not to do the 111 blocks for the queen version and stick with 55 for the lap size.  Seeing Pat's amazing blocks -- keep in mind, readers, that these puppies finish at six inches -- and knowing Sherron's and Cecelia's will be equally glorious, well, you can see where this is going. 

I wouldn't have to make all of the Terrible Template blocks that the book prescibes.  I could make ones that I felt I could handle, and then fill in with other 6" blocks from Around The Block and other places.  I could do that. 

Now whether or not I shall remains to be seen.  In any event, with the Sherron-and-Cecelia trades, I'll surely have my 55.  And, thanks to Pat, prolly a couple more.  Stay tuned for news on that front.  As well as from Richmond.  I'm thinking today would be a good day for a birthin'!  And I bet you are too!

Friday, April 09, 2010


Back in late September and early October, Joe and I received the most welcome news that both of our daughters-in-law were expecting.  I tell you, with sons, the sibling rivalry never ends!

The time has flown by.  For us, anyway.  Probably not so much for T&A and A&A.  It has been wonderful to anticipate, to shower, to belly-rub.  And now it is time to deliver.

A&A elected to learn the gender of their baby, and their little boy will be born at the end of this month.

T&A chose to be surprised.  And their baby is due today.

So I'm a tad distracted.  Staying close to the real phone.  Carrying the dreaded cell phone in my pocket. 


And smiling.  Smiling, oh, so broadly!

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Baskets of Bill, Part Three in a Series

I'm so enjoying the slow cloth piecing of Baskets of Bill.  Here are the two recent blocks that I've made, both from Piecemeal Quilts site.  Sandi is new to me, but I'm enchanted by her creative baskets, and plan to make all of them -- she has two left to post in her series. 

She goes about basket making in a different way than I'm used to.  For one thing, she has me cut pieces bigger than necessary, making HSTs that finish at about 3" and then trim to 2.5.  Uses a bit more fabric, that's for sure, and at first I wasn't sure I liked that.  Then I realized that my HSTs are perfect when made this way.  Perfect.  Something I've not achieved by other methods. 

Her directions are very clear, and would be even clearer if a person had the use of a color printer!   And, of course, the process is complicated by the fact that her fabrics are pink, red, yellow, blue, green; mine are peach, brown, cream, red, blue, etc.  Even so, the bottom block looks different to me than it does on the direction sheet.  I still love it.

I continue to press seams open instead of to the darker side.  It has made all the difference.  I've learned to write the correct-for-me colors on the directions sheets.  And to take my time.  One of Sandi's blocks that I made took nearly three hours from start to finish.  And it is perfect.  I'm delighted with it, with them, with Sandi's process.

Here are the two new blocks along with the first five that I made.  Four or five of the seven are from Piecemeal Quilts and the others from other sources. 

You can, of course, see them all more clearly by clicking on the photos to enlarge.

So many people have written to say that they, too, tend to fall back on basket blocks.  There's just something to satisfying about them.  Especially these that Sandi has designed.

Monday, April 05, 2010

Baskets of Bill, Part Two in a Series

Well, that first basket was getting kind of lonely up there on the wall, so I got to work over the long weekend and made some more.  My baskets are ten-inch size and come from two of the Around The Block books and also from here and here

Some are easier to make that others.  Obviously.

I'm doing something different with these blocks:  I've been pressing the seams open instead of to the dark side.  And I'm liking the way they are turning out by doing this.  Yes, it takes longer. 

But I don't care.  I'm having a wonderful time.

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Beginning Bill

I had a peculiar thing happen earlier this week.  I spent a couple of hours looking at pictures of quilts that I'd saved for inspiration, and going through my Around the Block books, all in an effort to come up with a new, exciting idea for my William Morris fabrics. 

I decided on the Envelope block for these fabrics.  I knew it would show them off well and with them being of not very varied intensity, they'd make a blended quilt that I'd like very, very much.  I felt some relief on making the decision. 

Then I picked out the first two FQs that I wanted to put together.  I trimmed the selvedges and pressed them and fondled them some more.  I got out my Envelope directions.  I picked up my rotary cutter.  And froze.  I could not cut into them.  I stood there, frozen, cutter in hand, for longer than I'd care to admit.  And then I put down the cutter and came upstairs and started dinner.

Apparently, Bill was not destined for Envelopes.  Who knew?   I'd even been thinking "Letters From Bill" would be a nifty name.  But I was mistaken. 

The next couple of evenings I didn't go near the studio.  I had other things to do, and when there was time to sew, I stayed in the living room where there are three hand-quilting projects in various stages of completion.

And then today I went downstairs and picked up those first two glorious FQs and laid them out and started to cut the first Basket of Bill block.  It almost always comes back to baskets for me.  I don't have a lay-out in mind.  I don't know how many blocks I'm going to make or what size quilt they'll turn into.  Right now, it is simply the joy of matching and joining the fabrics, of making the blocks, of loving the baskets.