Tuesday, December 27, 2011

On deck

I hope all of you had a great last few days!  We certainly did!  The last of my Christmas presents just arrived this morning...  The Electric Quilt 7 computer program!!  My DH ordered it all by himself!!  Is that sweet or what?  It's his birthday today, so I'm going to have to find a way to say both thanks, and Happy Birthday!!

I got a few presents made for my kids... fleece pajamas and I made this ipod cover for my youngest, with plans to make another for my oldest.  Maybe I'll do a tutorial for it here next year (LOL).

I have my Summer Sampler Series "on deck", all pin-basted, and ready to quilt, but it'll have to wait, since I'll be playing with my new toy for a while, I'm sure!!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Gal's Pal Quilt

Can you keep a secret?  My furry pal sure can!!  I probably spend more time with this critter than I do with my family on a day to day basis.  Dog's aren't just man's best friend, they're real gal pals too! 

My dog has gone for over a year now without chewing up a single pillow or blanket, so I decided that it's time to make him a quilt!  Maybe it's just a sign that I have made way too many quilts, maybe I'm crazy, but I think he deserves it LOL.  He gives me unconditional love, never asks "What's for dinner?" (never complains about what he gets for dinner), and makes me laugh and smile on a daily basis.  He's also my personal trainer (daily mandatory walks, no matter what the weather), and household alarm system.  He brings a lot of joy to all of us!

I'm not telling my family the quilt is for him, but there's a few clues that I sewed into the quilt.  I wonder if they'll find them.  It'll be fun to see.  But you got to keep it a secret too until they find them!

I hope all of you have a great Christmas and holiday season!!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Churn Dash Quilt done!

My churn dash quilt is all quilted, bound, washed, and ready just in time for Christmas, although, it's going over 3000 miles by mail, so it probably won't get there in time, but it'll be close!  It's always hard to make a quilt for someone else, but hopefully she'll like it!

I made a few pillow cases to "wrap" the quilt in.  I love the way these turned out!  Pillowcases are so easy to make, and make great "wrapping paper".

I also was able to get my next quilt all pin basted and ready to go!!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Churn Dash Quilt top Done!

What I really should be doing is sewing up more Kindle covers, but instead I'm trying to get this quilt done in time for Christmas.  Hmmm...  The top's all done, and the back is all ready to sew up.  Hopefully I can pin baste it today, and start quilting!  We had one nice day of sunshine, but are back to freezing fog again (which means low light, and not so great pictures...).  I hope all of you are getting your holiday sewing done!!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Newest (Pendleton wool) stash material!!

I feel so lucky to live in the same place that makes the amazing Pendleton wool blankets.  It's one of only a few remaining textile mills left in the USA.  I've heard that they have an amazing outlet store in Portland, but even here in Pendleton we can still get some really good deals.  The back room of their mill store has true "2nd" blankets for incredible prices... ones that are slightly imperfect, and that's an understatement.  We've taken many friends and family there for tours and shopping, and I always have to call a sales person over to show me the "defect", and often they can't even find it.  This place brings a new definition to the word quality. 

In the same room, they have a few "surprise bins" that they put remnants in.  I've found some really neat fabric in there from time to time.  Today was no exception!  I saw this wool blanket / upholstery remnant there, marked down to $37 (66 inches by 36 inches).  It has to be the most beautiful piece I've ever seen in the bargain bins.  Even marked down (it's normally $50/yrd), it's still probably the most expensive single yard of fabric that I've ever bought, but I'm calling it an early Christmas present for me. 

I'm torn between trying to make something to sell on Etsy or making something just for me!  It seems crazy that a person selling on Etsy from Pendleton Oregon wouldn't take advantage of our mill, but mark-downs are still rare, and this fabric is expensive (but worth it).  With such a big print, I'm thinking a nice jacket, vest, or big purse, maybe a back pack...  pillows, a scarf?  I'm even tempted to collaborate with my oh-so-good-at-woodworking husband to make a piece of furniture..... haha, would THAT be a true test of our marriage or what LOL?!?!  Any other ideas?

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

'Tis the Season...

Lately, I've been spending a whole lot of time at this place, helping my sons' boy scout troop sell Christmas trees.  We've had a long-ish spell of freezing fog to coincide with it too, beautiful, but cold, and icy! 
Today, the sun is really trying hard to peek through the fog.  I sure hope it does!  Luckily, I have a lot of warm winter clothes from living in Northern Michigan, but it's still given me a whole new appreciation for those who work outdoors this time of year.

I did manage to send off a few hand made gifts this year.  I found these ultra-cute paper dolls printed on fabric at our local quilt store this summer, and bought up enough to make some for my nieces.  All I did was fuse the fabric to some fusible fleece, then cut it all out.  No sewing involved, and a perfect thing to do while watching TV at night.

I also had a personal request to make a replacement purse for another niece, after she lost her purse in a store.  Welcome to the world young lady!  At least she's not old enough to carry a credit card and drivers' license! 

I also had to order batting on-line, after driving to the closest Jo-anns, an hour away, and they were all sold out!  Booooo.  Luckily they had it on-line half off, with free shipping.  But it took forever to get here.  Now I can finally put some quilts together (once I find some time).  I also decided to send my Bliss Quilt to my intended recipient (another niece... my SIL and BIL have 4 beautiful girls, and my brother and SIL have 1).  I still feel bad that the quilting isn't great, but luckily it is a really pretty quilt.

I hope all of you are enjoying the season!  Yes, there's always a ton to do, but it's also a nice time to reconnect, help others and to remember that the best gifts are those that don't cost a cent.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Making Hay While the Sun Shines (more Kindle covers)

Now that I'm feeling well again, I've been trying to make up for lost time by sewing up more Kindle covers for my Etsy shop.  Selling has picked up quite a bit, so I'm trying to take advantage of it while I can!  The cover above is actually a large tablet cover I custom made for a good friend of mine.  She was my first room mate here in Oregon, when we were both working as wildlife biologists.  She also introduced me to my husband!

Here's a peek at the ultra-simple way I photograph my covers for Etsy.  It's proof that you don't need anything too fancy.  Our camera is a basic point and shoot Cannon Power Shot.  It's great!  I love the way it takes "micro" images, up close.  Now that it's winter, I'm again enthralled at all of the beautiful ice crystals that form each night, including these that I took a picture of this morning.

I also have to brag and show off my husband's latest creation... he's making us a new shed!!  Yea!!!  Yes, I know, I'm very lucky to have a guy who knows how to build and work with wood and construction!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Coming up for air (gulp), plus a few more postcards

Lately, I've been the kind of sick where I only worry about the survival needs of my family.  Even my husband has stepped in and helped out by making a few meals and braving Wal-Mart to get my antibiotics.  All quilting is at a stand still, and even Etsy has taken a back seat.  I'm finally on the mend, but my energy has been totally drained.  Thank goodness for the miracle of antibiotics, prescription cough medicine, and OTC meds!  I hope to be back in full swing soon! 

I'm just coming up for air to say hi, and to share a few more postcards that I managed to get done in the last week for swaps and for my mom's birthday (top).  My mom taught me to sew, among many other things, but her real passion is music.  This seems perfect for her!! 

The 2 swaps are "Favorite Winter Activity", and "Northern Lights".  I hope the winter group gets my ironic sense of humor LOL, I just couldn't resist!  All joking aside, though, when we lived in Northern Michigan (Gaylord, our closest town, averages 150 inches of snow a year), shoveling snow was a chore I really didn't mind.  It had a meditative quality to it, got me outdoors, and I really do love snow, so being out in it, even with a shovel wasn't bad at all.  I even got to see the Northern Lights while we lived there, which was an experience I'll never forget!  My dad was alive then, and the first thing I did was to call him and my mom to tell them about it as I stood out in the cold in amazement, so it's an especially fond memory for me.  I really was stumped with the NL swap until the very last minute.  Like my microscope quilt, it's very hard to represent light with fabric, but once I found the sheer red ribbon and sheer green fabric in my stash, it all came together!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Churn Dash Quilt/Seeing Red

I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving!  I'm very thankful for all of you who read my blog!  It's so fun to share a hobby that you love, and I'm afraid not everyone in my day to day life shares this enthusiasm LOL!  So this is a really fun outlet for me!  Thanks!

We had a wonderful Thanksgiving, spent with old and new friends, and our immediate family.  I feel very lucky!  Today I have my post-Thanksgiving stretchy pants on, did a few extra laps walking our dog this morning, and I'm trying to finish up this churn dash quilt.  I'm hoping to get it done in time for Christmas (wish me luck).  Red is one of my least favorite colors, but the recipient likes it.  I don't know if it's because of this, or because I just don't have the experience working with this color, but I'm not as excited about the almost finished product as I was in the beginning.  But I'm not going to change it now.  I made the quilt pattern up myself (lots of delicious mind crunching math!), so ended up short a few blocks.  I have plenty of extra fabric though, so that's no problem.  I already have the rows wen together... just need to make the missing blocks.

I'm not a big shopper, but I really need more batting (I'm all out).  I've been waiting for it to go on sale at Jo-anns, and it is today and tomorrow, so I'll be doing a wee bit of holiday acquisition...  I hope all of you are having a great holiday week-end!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

WIP: Optical Illusion Quilt

It's Wednesday, so I'm linking up with Lee again at "Freshly Pieced" to tell you what I'm working on.

I've had this quilt in my "idea notebook" for a while now.  My kids were looking at optical illusions one day last Spring, and I saw this "Cafe Walls" illusion, and immediately though "I should make a quilt like that!".  So here it is, coming to fruition!!  I've got it about half way done, and I love it!  It's super easy too, and with the $5, 2 yard fabric bundles at Wal-Mart, I've only invested $15 so far (and some time).

One thing that's NOT an optical illusion, is my oldest son's height.  Last week, when I took him to the doctor, the "illusion" that my husband had been telling me about, became real... he's indeed TALLER THAN ME!!!  :-O  I must admit, that this has really thrown me for a loop!  It's probably what led to my last post.  I guess I'm beginning to realize that my whole world is shifting now, just like these lines appear to do.  My oldest child is no longer a child.  I hate to admit it, but there ARE some things that he now knows more about than me!  He's still that little baby to me, yet he's now officially taller than me, wears bigger shoes, and has a voice that keeps getting deeper and deeper.  Oh my!  Some of my parenting "strategies" suddenly seem ineffective.  I can also tell that he's eager to do things that he can't yet, like driving and earning money.  So, yes, welcome to the world of parenting-a-teenager!  As challenging as it can be some days, I give thanks that he's healthy, smart, strong and has a really good heart.  I hope you all have just as much as we do to be thankful for tomorrow and every day!  Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Panel Quilt and Thoughts About Condescension

Quite the title, huh?  I'll explain below, but first, here's my finished panel quilt:

I was really tempted to call it a "cheater quilt", but as I thought more and more about that, I realized that term may be cute, but it also may be a bit condescending to some.  Sorry.  I hate it when people are condescending to me, and I try really hard to not be to others, but you know what?  It happens.

A really good example from my life is about being a boy-girl twin.  Growing up, I don't remember a time where I didn't know that I was a "fraternal twin"... the result of 2 eggs, 2 sperm, versus an identical twin, split from one egg and sperm after fertilization.  The fact that my brother has a Y chromosome and I don't is even further "proof".  Yet I can't count how many times I've been asked if I was an identical twin, after telling people that I have a twin brother.

When I was much younger, I'd roll my eyes, and reply in a condescending, know-it-all manner.  I'd watch as the innocent person got embarrassed, or defensive, or both.  As I got older I learned that just a simple friendly explanation in a very non-condescending manner would give me a much better, nicer response.  I could see the light bulb go off in their head, a smile would come across their face, and best of all, no hard feelings.

I think it's super easy to come across as condescending as a blogger.  I'm sure I have in the past.  It's really something I'm working on, here and most importantly with my teen-ager, who can also be a wee bit condescending at times.  I don't need a New Year's holiday to make a resolution.  I'm going to try hard to be less condescending towards him, around him, here and everywhere.

Yes, this quilt was very easy to make, but I love it, and that's all that matters!!  Just because it's easy doesn't mean it's cheating.  Some of the most beautiful quilts are made from "whole cloth", almost no piecing involved.  This will be a perfect quilt to try out some more intricate quilting (we'll see).  I'll for sure be making more of these in the future!!  I try to learn something new with each quilt I make, and who knew that such a simple quilt would teach me something so important!!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Non-traditional vs Traditional

I'm working on 2 quilts right now... 1 is a gift, 1 is for fun.  1 is very traditional, 1 is very non-traditional.  I'm excited about both of them!


Friday, November 18, 2011


As you may know, I just love making and receiving fabric postcards!  I think I'm even getting the local post office folks on my side too ;-).

This week, I received not 1, but 2 postcards, and one, (the beautiful "African animal"... LOVE her cute mane and tail), was a complete surprise!  It's from Beth, one of my oldest on-line quilting friends.  She currently is living in South Africa, and shares some of the most beautiful exotic wildlife and botanical pictures on her blog, "Notes...".  She's also an accomplished quilter, and has been gracious enough to help me out time and time again with all sorts of quilting questions and concerns.  Thanks Beth!!

I was also lucky enough to sign up for a postcard swap with Monika of "My Sweet Prairie", through the Yahoo postcard cottage swap group.  She's also helped me out in many ways!  Her fiber art is so creative and beautiful!  The October swap was "My favorite pumpkin recipe.  The middle card is the one I made for everyone, and hers is the pumpkin pancakes.  Sheila made the very clever pumpkin shaped card!

Yesterday, I got a card from Colleen, who's in our group for November's swap, "Favorite winter activity".  I haven't even started mine yet, but still have until the end of the month.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

World Prematurity Awareness Day

The March of Dimes is trying to raise awareness for the serious problems of premature births, and has asked people to blog about it on today, November 17th, "World Prematurity Awareness Day".  A friend of mine, Robin Weiss, made me aware of this day.  She's a true expert.  I'm not.  But I do have a story to share...

I have a twin brother, and we were both born 2 months early.  So this is very personal for me.  I'm afraid Hurricane Katrina wiped out almost our entire family photo history (including pictures of us in our incubators), but I did manage to find the above picture (one of only a rare few) of my mom with the 2 of us, fresh from the hospital, where we lived our first few weeks of life.  I can only imagine how those first few weeks were for my parents, who weren't even aware that they were having twins until my mom's labor continued.  Back then, she was even given DES to stop her early labor, a drug which has since been shown to cause horrible problems in the baby who is exposed to it (that would be me and my brother).  My mom wasn't given the option to nurse us, and neither my mom or dad were allowed to touch or hold us.  My dad wasn't even allowed in the delivery room.  These such practices have thankfully changed.  Our birth happened before the discovery of light therapy to treat high bilirubin, and I was also subjected to a "blood exchange transfusion".

None of this is news to parents of premature babies.  I was fortunate that my 2 boys were born full term and were, for the most part, healthy.  We've come a long ways, but the effects of premature birth not only effect a tiny baby and his of her parents, but can be permanent and persist throughout a life time.  For me, that's personal!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

WIP Wed: New Projects!

It's Wednesday, and as usual, I'm linking up with Lee at Freshly Pieced's linky party!  Come join us! 

I'm afraid we've had some nasty respiratory bugs here in our house, which has kept me close to home, but luckily I've managed to stay healthy!  One good thing (I guess) about working in a hospital is that I think it really exposed me to so many viruses and such that I've built up quite an immunity to them.  Same is true for school teachers, I hear... It also taught me the importance of hand washing and surface cleaning...  I still have one home from school, but at their age, they don't need nearly as much "care", (but just as much TLC).  So, I've been able to get some sewing done.

My only "old" project in the works this week is my Summer Sampler Series Quilt.  I found some really cool clearance fabric to use for the back.  It's a map, and some of the town and city names are where I have relatives, which is pretty neat!  I bought all that they had left, which was about 2 2/3 yard, ALMOST what I need for the quilt back.  I hope to get the back sewn up, and then pin baste the whole thing this week.

As I was going through my stash, figuring what to make next, I came across a few fabric block panels that I bought in Michigan, and had thumb tacked up on my wall there.  We don't have nearly as much wall space here, so I decided to make a quilt quilt from them.  It's the first time I've used a panel, although I own a growing collection of them.  The quilt came together so FAST!  I ran out of the green fabric though, so I just need to buy a bit more to finish the borders.  I literally made this in one afternoon!  I love crows and ravens, and this will make a good Christmas quilt, but won't be so "festive" that I have to put it away in January!

I've also been working on Kindle Covers, but all of the wide black Velcro in town is sold out.  I'm guessing someone else bought it all to make things for our big craft fair.  I was hoping to drive to the nearest Jo-anns to get more (an hour away), but with a sick kid, I haven't been able to.

So I started cutting out a few more quilts instead.  I'm planning this one for my MIL.

But I'm really excited about this one!  Yes, that's the only fabric that will be in it!  If all goes well, I may have a super-easy nerdy quilt to blog about really soon!  Thanks for stopping by!!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Thrift Store Challenge Done!

I was able to finished the local thrift store / art center challenge Friday night.  It will be displayed in the store window, along with the other challenge projects.  I got a sneak peak of some of them, and was really impressed!  My total cost was about $8, but it did take a bit more time to sew up than I had expected.  It's done though!

I've been sewing up some more Kindle covers though, and wanted to quilt these.  Before I took the Pfaff in for service, it had a nasty habit of breaking needles.  I'm happy to say that this habit is now GONE!  YEA!!  I realized Friday that I had long ago run out of top stitch needles, so I bought another pack in a last ditch effort to get it working again.  I also discovered a setting that I hadn't tried yet... the "balance" setting.  My old machine didn't have such a setting.  It's on the 2nd "page" of settings, so you have to scroll through the whole first page to get to it.  I changed this setting, put in a new top stitch needle, and now it's working wonderfully!!!  I am SO happy!  I got a lot done this week-end, but ran out of Velcro, so will be running out for more supplies today!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Give away at "Kissed Quilts", and a bit of this and that...

First of all, thank you SOOO much for all who left wonderful comments on my blog Wednesday!  I set a record for sure!  Please forgive me if I don't get to respond to so many comments!

Next, one thing I love about quilt blogs, is meeting other people, who share my love for sewing and quilting.  Some of these people are literally across the globe, but every now and then, one is much closer.

Marlene Oddie, at Kissed Quilts is one "next-door neighbor" (she lives an hour away)!  I "met" her at Lee's (Freshly Pieced) Supernova Quilt a long.  Since then, we've had lunch together a few times, and met a few more!  I've seen her studio, and even got a few sneak peaks at her current projects!  She's a great quilter and friend who just happens to be celebrating her 2nd anniversary with her business.

If she gets 100 followers by Sunday night, she's giving away a whole bunch of things!!  Check out her blog and help her reach 100 followers!  You may even win something!!

On a personal note, we've had our first round of seasonal yuck in the house.  I can't complain, as my kids are getting older and older, and have gradually brought less and less of these unwelcome guests into our house over the years, but it's slowed us all down a bit.  I did finish my thrift store challenge last night, and hope to blog about it soon!

I can't post without a picture, so here's an old one from last year.  I've been making quite a few more of these gift bags to sell locally.  Hopefully I can make a few bucks to support my hobby!  Here's the post where I wrote about how to make these.  They're quick and easy, are reusable, and environmentally friendly!!