Saturday, July 30, 2011

Quilt with Feet and Kids Without

Here's Argyle, Anyone? all finished.  I really like how this quilt turned out.  My long-armer used a variegated thread that seemed to include all of the colors in the quilt.

I'm thinking it would be interesting to make this pattern again, but asymmetric -- you know, with the center square not in the center?  I think that would be very interesting.

It's not a big quilt, just enough to pull up on a chilly evening.  Which we will have again.  Someday.

Sherry and her family went to visit Andrew and his family a couple of months ago and somebody snapped this photo and sent it to me.  It's great of Sam and Caroline and less so of Eli and Woofie.  It's hard, you know, to get that many folks to sit still and look at the camera.

Sherry pointed out recently, "Caroline sure lucked out in the hair department."  I agree.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

In Which my Schnibble Goes Rogue!

First of all, I need to say that the turn of events had nothing whatsoever to do with the Schnibble pattern itself!  Ya gotta believe me on that.  It was all about the fabric choice I made.  I know that.  It was something or another by Kate Spain (I didn't keep the paper label that came with the charm packs) and the fabrics were gorgeous. Very gorgeouos. And the "Mon Ami" Schnibble pattern was and is a truly nifty pattern.  Done in the fabrics Carrie chose, it is so appealing! But that the fabric and the pattern would not play nicely together.  Oh, no, they would not.

Each individual block was nice enough.  And after awhile, I got the hang of the "contrast thing."  But putting those blocks together the way the pattern called for was making me cross-eyed.  And cranky.  I was not liking my project one bit.  And I wanted to quit.  It wasn't the pattern.  There was just too much going on.  And I did not wish to continue the chaos.

So I went over to start to take the blocks down from the wall and try to figure out some use for them, when it suddenly hit me:  These particular blocks just needed some breathing space!  They were smothering each other!
Much the way my infamous leader-ender projects will insist on becoming "real" projects instead of leader-enders, these stout-hearted little Schnibbles demanded that I give them a chance.  And some room to breathe.

And just look at that!  Alternating a plain white square makes all the difference.  An individual block can be seen, identified, and appreciated.  And would you look at the secondary pattern that is emerging from the white?  Is that not a joy to behold?

The Schnibble pattern is 5x5 blocks.  But these rogue Schnibbles want more.  I'm going to go 7x7 and then finish the project with the borders that Carrie calls for.  And end up with a Cousin to a Schnibble, I think, a little quilt that will please me very much.  Stay tuned!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Roller Coaster

This quilt is killing me.  I must have looked at it twenty times already today.  And it's not yet four o'clock.  My first glimpse of it was in the wee hours of the morning, when I was awakened by a foot cramp and couldn't get back to sleep.  Rather than toss and turn, I got up and looked at the blogs.  And there on Katy's blog was this stunner.  I sat there and soaked it up.  And then tried again to go back to sleep.  Hah!

The pattern is through Fat Quarterly, a little e-zine that I've successfully resisted for a year and a half.  Well, not any more!  As soon as I can get some other things wrapped up, I'm going to start making [what may be the first of many versions of] this amazing quilt.  I'm thinking William Morris, French General, batiks . . . . . where to start!!!!  I'm going to be rolling and coasting for quite some time, I'm afraid.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Summer Learning Progress Report

I have about half of the blocks made for the Schnibbles project and have learned a few things already, none of which are directly about the Schnibble experience:  (a) just because a fabric is pretty and makes nice 5" squares doesn't mean it will make nice 2" squares; (b) pinked edges are not my friends; (c) contrast can be harder than I'd thought.  But I press on and will get this Schnibble finished!

As to another of my summer projects, learning to do freezer paper applique, I've painlessly (other than the thumb incident!) completed two of the thirty blocks and look forward with pleasure to finishing the remaining ones as a travel-or-television project.  I don't think I'm going to convert into any kind of prodigious applique maven, but it is something I might do again.

Last night I finished binding Argyle, Anyone? and had hoped to take a photograph of her today.  But -- praise God -- it is raining and so that will need to wait another day or so.

Haven't done anything with the paper piecing goal as yet.  But there are at least another five weeks of summer left, aren't there?

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Beatin' the Heat Near Philadelphia

Trying to keep some semblance of cool has consumed the energy of a lot of Near Philadelphians, and it doesn't look like a whole lot of relief is in the forecast.  My sewing studio isn't air-conditioned; it is on the lower level of the house, though, and tends to be cooler than the rest of the home.  I have a nice big floor fan that helps.  But these past few days, it just hasn't been very inviting.

Yesterday I had a double treat of a day:  (a) spending  it with a dozen other quilters and (b) doing that in a spacious, air-conditioned church hall!  I stayed from 8 until 1:30 and got nine of my Schnibbles units finished.  Will do a total review of the Schnibble experience when it is complete.  You can see my blocks here along with my bowties.  I don't believe I'll be sewing downstairs again for a few days; I tend to get a little sick with extreme heat and feel fortunate that I've been okay for the past week.  It was just this morning that that queasy feeling started, so I'll be staying pretty much on the main level of the house, which has a pair of window units, three ceiling fans, and strategically placed floor fans, all working overtime.  I continue to applique the circles for those prairie women and bind Argyle, Anyone? when I sit with Joe in front of the Tour de France or whatever Netflix is playing.

Last evening our neighbors came over for dinner and I had a good time making a refreshing meal for them.  I didn't tell them until the very end of the evening that the sangria, the appetizers, the salad, and the dessert were all Weight Watcher recipes.

The sangria was very light, and I think not a lot like traditional sangria.  But it was delicious and easy to make, so I'll tell you how:  To 1 cup dry red wine, add 3 cups low-calorie cranberry cocktail, 3 cups of cut up fruit (I used strawberries and pineapple) and 1/8 tsp cinnamon.  Let it chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes before serving.

I was suspicious of the cinnamon, but it made all the difference.  The photo isn't mine, but came from the internet.  I didn't think of taking a picture last evening because I was too focused on making and serving my skewered cantaloupe, mint and prosciutto and also grape tomatoes with basil and mini-mozzarella balls.  Of which there are one of each left over -- and it is nearly time for lunch!

Friday, July 22, 2011

End of the Week Update

Yesterday was our forty-fourth wedding anniversary, and we went out to dinner at a wonderful restaurant, Blackfish.  It is not inexpensive.  However, the food is delicious and original and the presentation is exquisite.  In case you live Near Philadelphia and are looking for a place to go for a special occasion, you might want to take a look at Blackfish's menu and give it serious consideration.

On the quilting front, I picked up Argyle, Anyone? from the machine quilter and, as always, Mary Ellen did a spectacular job, using variegated thread that seemed to contain all of the fabric colors.  I got the binding machined on and began the handstitching yesterday and it should be done in just a few days, at which point a photo will be shared.  It's a nice quilt to be working on and the 60" square is a nice size for a quilt.

I also got all of those circles-on-freezer-paper starched and pressed and have even completed the applique of the first one and begun the second.  This is my current portable project, and I'm kind of liking the applique.  I don't think it is something I'm going to want to pursue on any kind of a grand scale, but it is nice to know I can [sort of] do it.

The other new technique I wanted to attempt this summer is paper piecing.  Once we get into August, I'll get serious about that.  Speaking of getting into August, before July is over, I need to finish up the in-exchange-for-a-cow projects, make Anya's PIF, and mail out the charm packs to the winners.  Bear with me, friends.  I'm on "summer time" when the livin' is easy . . . .

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Journey Two???

Months ago, on impulse, I signed up for something more treacherous than a BOM -- it is a project of the month -- a POM, as it were.  It is called the "Prairie Women's Sewing Circle -- Journey Two."  I don't know where I was when these women made their initial journey, and I don't know if journey two is reversing their steps and heading back where they came from or whether they are pressing on (pun intended) for even greener pastures.  Doesn't really matter.

All too soon the monthly packages began accumulating -- they are from the Fat Quarter Shop, and as always, the fabrics are gorgeous and ample, and the directions seem to be clear.  I don't know for sure.  Because I'm not too far along.  Yet.

I decided to begin with this project, "Remember Me," which can be used as a signature quilt.  I chose this one to start with because one of my goals for this summer is to attempt freezer paper applique and the instructions for how to do it are detailed and have tiny drawings.

Piecing the block centers was fun and all too soon it was time to attempt the dreaded "A" word.  I put it off as long as I could, but now that Hospice Man is completed, I need something for in-front-of-the-TV handwork.

Today I borrowed a paintbrush from the camp at school and dabbed spray starch around the quarter-inch margin and then pressed.  One burnt thumb later, two are pinned in place and eight more are ready to have their paper removed and then be pinned.

We'll see how it goes with the hand-stitching.  I'm going to try to prep ten more tomorrow and the final ten on Thursday.

I did mention, didn't I, that this is a series thing?  These are the other projects that have come or will come and are still in their bags downstairs.

And me, the one who has "no use for little tiny quilts" is on schedule to have plenty of them.

Fortunately, Caroline has dollies and Sam has bears that need to be covered up.

'Nough said for now.  Gotta go ice the thumb.

Stay tuned.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Mercy Quilt, Part Two

About a month ago, I posted some thoughts about charity quilts and since that time have given more thought to the subject.  The gist of my initial post was that there are times that I see quilts that people have made that are not particularly pretty, not made with particular care, and the makers will say, sort of dismissively, "Oh, this is a charity quilt."  As though if a quilt is being made for someone we don't know, someone who is down on their luck, homeless, a disaster victim, then it really doesn't matter what it looks like, or how carefully it is made.  As though a person in difficult or reduced circumstances would not appreciate something beautiful.

Not long after that, I worked on a quilt for my guild, a "charity" quilt where others had pieced the blocks and my task was to make them into a top.  I did what I had volunteered to do.  But it isn't a quilt that I would have  given to one of my grandchildren.  And I felt a little bit uneasy that it was going to a child who had lost a parent.  I guess I didn't think it was good enough.

My friend Mary was in a similar situation last week and she wrote eloquently about the perceived worthiness of the charity quilt recipients.

I've just finished a quilt that I will give to the hospice unit of our hospital.  It will go to a very sick man, someone I don't know and won't know.  I loved making this quilt, and love how it turned out. Sometimes when I was working on it, I thought about the potential recipient, whether he would like the colors, be interested in the pattern.  I wondered if he would know that it was a churn dash block.  Sometimes I prayed for him.

As I said, I've thought a lot about this in the past month or so and have come to understand what is at the root of my discomfort.  Some of us serve One who says, "Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters, you did for me."  It makes me uncomfortable to think of anyone as "the least," but I know that the homeless, the very sick, the tornado sufferers, all may live on the margins of our society.   And as such, are worthy of our very best effort.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

If You Can't Say Anything Nice

One of the joys of summer for me and him is going to the 4:00 Friday showing of whatever is playing at the semi-local independent theatre.  There are usually three options, so there is almost always at least one film that we want to see.

Before we went on vacation, "Certified Copy" was playing.  We hadn't heard a lot about it.  Juliette Binoche was wonderful.  The premise of the film was intriguing, and although it was not our particular cuppa tea, we could appreciate it.

Last week, despite my feelings about Woody Allen as a troll human being, we went to see "Midnight in Paris."  The scenery, of course, was gorgeous.  The premise was delightful.  Owen Wilson was splendid.  Kathy Bates as Gertrude Stein was terrific.  We really liked it and are still talking about it.

Yesterday we saw the much-touted "Tree of Life."  The popcorn was tasty.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Bags and Belts

Been makin' some belts and makin' some bags.  And lovin' every minute of it.

This parcel went off to Nate and his family today.  Anastasia revealed that they have been going to the library at Brevard, and I remember how Sam liked having a little tractor-fabric bag to carry his library books in.  When I saw these spectacular zebras, I didn't hesitate for a minute.

This photo isn't so good.  But just look at those not-the-hippopotamuses!  I've not talked with Andrew and Amy about Eli's use of the library, but if he's not going yet, he soon will be.

It was when we were visiting with them that we were first exposed to the not-the-hippopotamus phenomenon, and found it enchanting.  I'd never seen hippopotamus fabric before and grabbed this up as though the bolt were threatening to flee out the door before my eyes!  Both bags are lined with plain white.  One has batting for stabilizing and the other has super strength iron-on Pellon.

One more bag in my plans -- a gift for my old high school friend that I met for lunch a couple of weeks ago.

ADDENDUM:  By popular demand, here is the link to the belt tutorial.  Thanks, Susan, so very much!

The Details

When I wrote about meeting up with Mrs. Goodneedle and Salem Stitcher, I omitted a few details.  Such as where we ate, which was Neo Cantina, located in a beautiful section of Asheville.  I would have loved the opportunity to spend more time shopping around in that area.  The restaurant was terrific; I'd go back in a minute if I had the chance.  I had a mango chicken salad with honey-lime dressing and it was superb.  The chips and guacamole were darned good, too.

I also didn't mention that my friends each had something for me.  Take a look at this fantastic cow that Lisa made!

I wouldn't have suspected Debbie of being a bag lady.  Just goes to show you how wrong a person can be.

She thought I should have a special, personalized bag to hold my COW quilt when I get it made, and she decided to provide it for me!  If you click to make the photo larger, you'll see that in the toile fabric, there are some widdle biddy cows.

Wasn't that just the nicest thing to do?

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Retail Therapy

The Asheville Cotton Company was a marvelous fabric shop!  Lots and lots of bolts, pretty things I'd not seen anywhere else.

The one surprising thing was that there were virtually no Civil War fabrics!  That's true at the shop I like in Richmond, too.  Guess it's a "suthren" thing . . . .

Not to worry.  There was plenty to buy.  Like these amazing bats, stripes and googly eyes that I plan to turn into Trick Or Treat bags for Sam and Caroline.  They were irresistible.

Also irresistible were these zebras and not-the-hippopotamuses which I think will make terrific library bags for a couple of little guys; don't you agree?

The batiks were just gorgeous and plentiful and I picked up these two to make a couple of belts that I have promised a couple of people.

These mayfly fabrics (you really must click on the photo to enlarge) were just exquisite.  I need to make a couple more neutral baby quilts, one for my sister's hospice project and another for the silent auction at this autumn's Oktoberfest at church -- the proceeds from that will all go to a charitable cause.

This fabric will be used to make one of those two quilts.
I still needed some new Civil Wars, and on the last leg of our trip, I persuaded Joe to make a stop.  It wasn't difficult because the previous day he'd had to turn around on the Interstate and go back five or six miles to a fireworks store.  Blackberry and I waited patiently in the car, even napping a little, while he shopped for this year's New Year's Eve pyrotechnic display.

So it wasn't at all hard to get him to stop at Sauder's and take a little nap out there in the parking lot next to the buggies, while I did that which needed to be done.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011


The reason we went to North Carolina was to visit our older son, his wife, and their little boy.  Anastasia is on the faculty of the Brevard Music Festival and Tom is the orchestra(s) manager and both work hard; it is no vacation.  The Festival provides them their meals in a cafeteria -- we joined them there on Friday night and it was very acceptable for institutional food, with healthy choices as well as popular foods such as burgers and fries.  The food was better than the ambiance; Tom called the place the noisy cafeteria and before long I was saying, "Named for Albert Noisy who made a large contribution to build it."  Also provided is a place to live, and the campus is pretty much pedestrian friendly.  We stayed at a nearby hotel but left Blackberry in their cabin when we went to concerts.

We attended three concerts and heard some lovely music.  The weather in Brevard is not to  my taste; far too humid and it seems to rain every afternoon or evening.  But the concerts are held in a covered pavilion, and the rain doesn't interfere.

The main attraction, of course, was Nate, who is as cute as he is active!  He walks, he runs, and his fine motor skills are superb.  He can do some animal sounds and I was convinced he had a few words to say.  I know that when I see him next [not for three months], he'll have many words.  Tom said that everywhere they go people comment on Nate's red hair and ask where it came from.

Joe was a redhead when I met him (part of the reason I married him, I tell him), but he grew up in a family where the red seems to skip a generation, and he knew no one else in the family with red hair.  His sister made mean remarks to him about it.  So he's waited a long time for a family member with red hair.  And now we've got one.  And, as of this writing, in the back, it has begun to curl!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Up To No Good

One of my favorite lines from the Harry Potter movies is "I solemnly swear that I am up to no good."  I've been on non-blogging status for a week now (not counting the placeholder post about the guild quilt which I finished last night) and perceptive readers have noticed.  Y'all must have imagined that I've been up to no good . . . .

Joe and I returned this evening from a six-day trip down to Brevard, North Carolina, where Tom, Anastasia, and Nate spend the summer with two of them employed by the Brevard Music Festival.  We had a splendid time with them, and heard three lovely concerts.  And spent oodles of time with Nate.

On Saturday, I abandoned Joe and Blackberry to their own devices and took a long-awaited solo drive up to Asheville where at last I met up with Mrs. G and Salem Stitcher, who had driven all the way over from Winston-Salem for the occasion!  I have to confess, friends, that I was a tad nervous.  I've met up with other internet friends and other bloggers on occasion, and most of the time it has been just splendid.  One memorable encounter with another blogger was so disappointing -- in real life, she didn't seem like the same person who did the blogging.  I knew I couldn't bear it if this happened in Asheville.

Not to worry.  Debbie is as vivacious and lovely as you'd imagine, and a right good hugger, too.  And Lisa, well, she's that kind of rock-solid, gentle soul that you would expect her to be.  I loved them both.  Immediately.  We talked like we'd been together just a week or so ago.  We loitered over a terrific lunch at a terrific place and then went off to get into mischief at the Asheville Cotton Company.

My intention had been to let each of them choose a number and a charm pack for my recent give-away.  Oddly, the shop had no charm packs!  So I had them each choose a number and the winners are:

Anonymous Sheryl F. said...I have never Schnibbled.

Blogger Louise said...I've never made a Schnibble quilt, but do have a few of Carrie Nelson's "non-schnibble" books. I would like to try one, though. I love anything scrappy.

Today we stopped at Sauder's on the way home and I got the charm packs, so, ladies, if you'll email me your snail mail addresses, they will be in the mail to you by the end of the week!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

On The Bright Side

The guild is very involved in philanthropic efforts; they make quilts for kids with cancer, quilts for babies born while their fathers are overseas, quilts for a special children's camp.  Friends, they make and donate quilts to just about any cause that asks.  They have a special subgroup that works on these projects, and that subgroup meets during the day, which is when I work.  So I'm not able to attend.  At the last meeting I attended, I asked for a take-home project and was given nine bright and cheerful blocks, a hunk of plaid backing fabric and some strips of black with nice bright dots and asked to put it all together.

I opined that all that black needed to be broken up and added the small green squares.  Once I got it all together, I tied it with red Perle and am in the process of binding it.  This isn't my usual kind of a project, but it gives me a ways to participate in a part of the guild I really admire.

I've got a couple of other things going on, like reporting on the past few days and sharing the picked number for the give-away, but that is going to have to wait another couple of days.  I hope you'll come back to see!

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Independence Day, 2011

Yes, thank you, we had a very nice Independence Day Near Philadelphia.  Two-thirds of our kids and three-quarters of our grandchildren were here.  They attended the morning events at the park, including the peanut scramble, foot races, and decorated stroller competition.  After lunch and a bit of down time, they attended the parade and returned home hungry.  We had a huge pot-luck picnic here, and then everyone settled in on our front lawn to watch the fireworks.  It was a really, really good holiday.

Here are some more photos of our honored guests.

His stroller was beautifully decorated, but his parents chose not to enter the competition.  I suspect they didn't want to make anyone feel bad.

Getting the best possible look at the parade is very important.

The day was not without some minor disappointments, but a smooth and complete recovery on the part of a tired little girl.

Speaking of tired, this whole parade thing can be exhausting!