Monday, October 31, 2011

Shut the Door, Lock and Latch It -- Here Comes Lizzie with a Brand New Hatchet

When we go to White Oak, Honna brings the music along. We listen to Kingston Trio, New Christy Minstrels, Smothers Brothers -- you know, stuff from our era. Turbo just kind of puts up with it, asking a question or two on occasion. The first time she heard about Billy Joe McAllister, et al., it led to her doing research and preparing a unit on the ballad for one of the English classes she teaches.  

Anyway, always one of the songs gets into my head and stays with me for a few days upon my return to the real world. Many times I hum "It takes a worried man, to sing a worried song," and after other trips "through the open window, she hands Charlie a nickel," you get the idea. This time around, for no particular reason, it's the Chad Mitchell Trio's greatest hit, "Lizzie Borden."

Song has nothing to do with the churn dash baby quilt I spent a lot of time on. I had to take apart half of the blocks and remake them. And then decided they needed lattice. And cornerstones. And it has turned out to be a quilt that I like very much. I hope the young mother-to-be does, too.

And now, please, enjoy having the song stuck in your head.  You know, you can't chop your papa up in Massachusetts.  Massachusetts is a far cry from New York.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Sewing and Snowing, Near Philadelphia and Lancaster County

The weekend just ending was our semi-annual White Oak Getaway.  My Crud was not totally gone (nor is it yet) but I was not to be deterred.  Honna and I drove out Friday after work, leaving too late to do any shopping on the way.  We arrived shortly after the wine and cheese had been set out, and promptly settled in.

Two of our regulars were unable to go this time, but we had two terrific ringers, including none other than Suzan, who endeared herself immediately by presenting each of us with a tiny trick or treat bag that she had made and loaded with treats.

There was the usual variety of projects, but I forgot my camera so am relying on the kindness of colleagues to illustrate the weekend.  Judy took this picture of Helen holding up her coffee quilt.

Saturday morning we woke up to falling flakes.  Certain that the 1-3" forecast would hold and perhaps be an exaggeration, Honna and I set forth after breakfast to shop in Intercourse.  She went to Zooks and I to the Old Country Store.  I noticed that they've done some rearranging and have a lot more kits than they used to have, including some very small CW looking projects that I resisted, even though they were enticing.  I bought a few things that I needed.  

On the way back, we stopped at the Bird-In-Hand shop and although they did have the D-rings that I needed and could not get at OCS, I don't believe we will return.  The trip back to White Oak was interrupted by a car accident on a snowy uphill hogback road; we had to turn around and go back down, with no idea how to get back to the inn.  The two cars ahead of us turned left and Honna concluded that they must have a GPS (which I've never felt the need for since I don't go to unfamiliar territory often), so we followed them for a while, but when they turned right, we decided to turn left and after a bit of very rough road, I realized that I knew where we were -- it was on the route I'd taken for my early morning walk the last time I was at White Oak!  We got back just in time for lunch and Carol's delicious soup never tasted so good.

Honna wanted a bag-making lesson on Saturday night and Helen wanted a refresher.  I needed to make a bag myself for a gift, so we began prairie pointing and handle-making.  I'd bought some Pellon 987F fusible fleece at OCS since they didn't have the stabilizer I normally use, and I was delighted with the result.  My bag is in the middle (I made another, too, but didn't get a photo of it) and Helen's is the teal and chartreuse batik.  Honna's is the sweet sunflower print and I was very impressed with what a fine job she did on her first attempt.

All too soon it was Sunday morning.  To our amazement, the newbies offered to go out and brush the considerable snow off of everyone's cars!  What a lovely thing for them to do.  Someone said that they must really have wanted to be invited back.  And that had been settled hours earlier -- they were wonderful additions to a terrific group.  Already counting the days until we return!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Battling The Crud

If you've read this blog for a year or more, you might know that the first head cold of the autumn sends me for a loop.  It usually settles in firmly about a week before Thanksgiving, morphs into bronchitis, and hangs around for three to six weeks.  My throat gets sore from the coughing, my friends and family avoid me, my disposition frays, and I go through lots of tissues.

This year it has hit much earlier than usual, and -- knock wood -- seems not to be as forceful.  I've been in and out (mostly out) of work for a week and one night I had trouble sleeping because I was coughing.  A colleague told me not to drink anything cold, only warm or room temperature liquids and lots of them.  Joe brought home a jug of cider and let me tell you how good that is heated up.  My wonderful neighbor brought me chicken soup.  And I go through tissues.  I nap every day, sometimes twice.  I take lots of drugs.  I'm doing my part.

I finished hand quilting Mayfly Madness and as I was doing the border I realized that I need to keep it for Grandbaby #5, arriving late in April, rather than give it away at that Thanksgiving shower.  So I've begun a new quilt for that mom-to-be and hope to post pictures before too long.  It's a Churn Dash.

I've also been on Facebook a lot more than usual.  Beyond my regular Facebook Scrabble games, for no good reason I have indulged in Bubble Saga and Bubble Witch Saga to the point where I hear the background music at night when I'm trying to go to sleep. A tremendous waste of time that I'm going to discontinue as soon as I finish writing this post.  Instead of shooting bubbles and attracting spiders, I'm going to get back to binding Mayfly Madness.  And make a few more Churn Dashes.  And blow my nose.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Day Four

On Day Four of The Crud these things occurred:

. . . Whatever was clogging my Facebook Scrabble game cleared up and play resumed
. . . I took a one-and-one-half-hour nap
. . . I decided to tidy up the cutting table
. . . I coughed and snarfed less than on Day Three
. . . I re-found these blocks, pressed them open, trimmed the ears, and wondered whatever I had had in mind when I made them
. . . Thought Kathie might have some idea or another
. . . And pretty much decided to make four more pair and turn them into a little hospice baby quilt

Unless, of course, someone can refresh my memory as to the original plan!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Good Morning Starshine: The Earth Says Hello!

"Good Morning Starshine" is a flimsy!  My days at home dealing with The Crud have resulted in the completion of this project that has been in the works for a couple of years, actually.

It began when someone I knew subscribed to a BOM and when the kits arrived, she knew batiks were not her thing.  So she gave them to me.  I used them as a leader-ender project until just a couple of weeks ago when I realized there were just a few left and I finished them off.

The color of the border is a little bit off in the picture; it is much more of an aqua than a green.  I'd like to get it quilted soon; we'll see what the checkbook has to say about that.

"You twinkle above us; we twinkle below . . . ."

Still Alive

Still alive, but out of commission.

The crud hit on Tuesday afternoon; at that point I was hoping it was leaf mold allergy.  By night-time, it was clearly much more than that.

Stayed home from work on Wednesday and Thursday and went in for just a couple of hours this morning.  Trying everything I can to keep it from morphing into bronchitis.

Cold medicine helps.  Naps, tea and keeping warm help.  My dear neighbor's chicken soup helped.  Fabric therapy hasn't hurt -- I'm putting borders on "Good Morning Starshine," and "Pictures at an Exhibition" came home from the machine quilter today.

Back soon, if all goes well.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Remembering Bob

I don't know about you, but I often will get caught up in a "woe is me" kind of status -- you know, when the vacuum cleaner and the toaster break on consecutive days and you drop your toothbrush in the toilet and find that the milk has gone sour.  All at the same time.  And sometimes this goes on for a couple of weeks.  Joe and I will say to each other, "Well, we haven't had one of these spells for a while. I wonder how long it will last."  And then when there is a day that is stressfree and beautiful and things are going well, I will fail to notice.

Today I awoke on my own (without the alarm clock), pulled on my sweatshirt, and went outside and walked 2-1/2 miles.  After breakfast and shower, I got to thinking about my dear late brother-in-law, Bob, who was fond of singing, "Oh, What A Beautiful Morning!" on some of the least likely days.  Yesterday was his birthday; when he was alive, the four of us used to go out to dinner on the guys' birthdays.

So, perhaps in Bob's honor, I'm humming "OWABM!" today as I realize it really is a beautiful, crisp autumn day and there are all kinds of glorious possibilities for it.

I just took a break from "Good Morning Starshine" which is just about ready to be assembled, and now find that song going through my head.  I never heard Bob sing it, but he prolly would have if he'd known it.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Stars and Bars, 2011 Style

When my kids' closest friends are expecting babies, if I know the parents-to-be and like them a lot, I make a quilt for the new baby.

Tom and Anastasia's friends, S&A, are expecting at long last, after some real doubts about whether this would ever happen.

I had bought this fabric about a year ago when I was visiting Tom in Richmond, knowing it would make a cute baby quilt, but not sure exactly what the design would be.  I love the richness of the batiks.  If you look closely, the background fabric is rainbow stars.  I'm going to have my machine quilter quilt stars all over and even though I don't generally go for light bindings, I'm going to bind this in the background fabric.  I have just enough.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Things the Postman Delivered

Blogless Kathy B was struck by some sort of a Dreaded Cleaning Virus recently, and her studio was the area most affected.  She offered up two sets of blocks, one was to be sight-unseen.

I said I'd take them off her hands to make hospice quilts and the parcel that arrived today contained this beautiful set of blocks plus a generous sized piece of the focus fabric.  There are more than a dozen blocks, and I believe I can turn them into a lovely quilt for a hospice patient.

 The second set of blocks that Kathy sent was a group I was familiar with; they were the yield from the Coffee with Cream swap we did several years ago.  I'd made a lot of them and they turned into a most satisfactory quilt that became a wedding gift.

Generous Kathy B sent not one but two big pieces of coordinating fabric; one will be enough to be a back and the other will set the blocks into another terrific hospice quilt, this one, I think, for a gentleman.

At the beginning of this year, Anya and I entered into a maker's choice kind of a swap, to be completed before year's end.

Anya's part of the bargain is complete -- she sent me this wonderful handbag that is so autumn without being blatant autumn with orange and brown leaves all over it.  Look at the care she put into this project!  And these aren't Anya's regular colors!

There's a magnetic clasp and this sweet side pocket with a darling yo-yo.  I started carrying it on the first chilly day.

My part of the bargain will be fulfilled, too.  Before year's end!

For unknown reasons, I failed to post when Kathy B's cow sauntered in a few weeks ago.  I had my mind on other things, and the cows were all gathered together in a pasture downstairs, and then this grazing bovine appeared in the mail.

Thanks so much, Kathy!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

A Lake Anna Getaway

For years, Joe and I had a practice of going away over Columbus Day weekend.  Most of the time we went to Cape May.  When the kids were grown and married, that weekend became a time for everyone to gather.  Sometimes in Cape May.

This year they all decided they wanted a destination closer to the Virginia contingents, and Amy and Andrew took the responsibility for finding a place.  They did well.

The first night Andrew was the grillmaster, with Eli as apprentice.  He looks pretty serious here, but has a winsome grin, and is not at all shy.  He couldn't get enough of climbing stairs and looking down from the balcony into the living room.

The house that they found to rent was immense and luxurious with five bedrooms, two family rooms, a home theatre, and all of the other rooms you would expect.  It is located on Lake Anna in Virginia. 

We spent a great deal of time on the huge deck, eating our dinners, watching the lake, chatting, and playing Go Fish.

Sam, in kindergarten now, is beginning to sound out letters and words, and can even read a little bit.  He was a helper when I played Scrabble on my computer.

Caroline is plagued with carsickness, and had a rough trip.  I spent some time coloring with her and helping her to strategize during a cut-throat game of Go Fish. 

She's a quiet little person, in contrast to her more loquacious brother, but has a vivid imagination, and likes to tell stories.

One evening it was her turn to say grace before dinner.  Her little voice was so soft that most of use couldn't hear her.  But that was okay because God could.

Tom and Anastasia had the shortest travel time, as Lake Anna is not far at all from Richmond.  Nate, a month Eli's senior, is a very busy person who loves to push things around (he was a superb help with the vacuuming at the end of our stay), and to get the pots and pans out.  He's such a busy person that it was hard to get a good photograph; he's not too busy, though, to settle in with a good book if invited.

The twelve of us had a marvelous time for three days and nights, and look forward to doing it again next year.  It will be even more wonderful, because Tom announced that there will be thirteen instead of twelve!

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Away from my Desk

Dealing With Something.

Nobody's sick, so please don't worry.

Monday, October 03, 2011

Mayfly Madness Design

Somebody asked me if I'd share the plan for the baby quilt top I just finished creating.  Well, I was flattered, of course, so here it is, in its own rather pathetic form.

Since I'm not a pattern designer and have no art or drafting training, I just began with a piece of graph paper and a pencil and drew the first sawtooth star and then started building around it.  Each square on the graph paper finishes at 1-1/2 inches.  The sawtooth star is a basic 6" finished piece. 

To know how to assemble the little squares, I made components and put a little code beside the pattern.  For example, the "K" component is 2 x 4 squares, and I needed 4 of them.  I worked on one unit of components at a time, starting with the star in the upper right with the 2 "D" and one "H" and one "J".  Then I moved to the left and did that star-A-J-F unit, and so forth with the H-star-K unit being the last one.

And, yes, I cut out all of the individual squares and did not use strip sets.

I know that for those who have EQ, my technique is absolutely primitive.  But it works for me, and if you want to download and print out my "pattern," please do!  Just don't go transforming it into something you can publish and make money at.  That wouldn't be nice.

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Mayfly Madness is a Flimsy!

I've spent most of this weekend smiling.  Because I've spent most of this weekend putting this quilt together. Besides being amazingly cute fabrics, they feel wonderful -- working with them is an absolute joy.

Now I need to put a back together, make a sandwich, and start pin-basting because, yes, it is going to be hand-quilted.

Size:  About 38" square
Fabric:  Mayfly Mischief by Tony Fernandes for Clothworks

Click to see the amazing prints, please!