Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Brrrr... it's cold!

Jack Frost is definitely nipping at our heels around here! As I write this, the temps outside are a balmy -4 degrees and it has been snowing just enough to make everything slippery as all get out. I'm definitely walking to the bus stop very carefully these days! Thank goodness for my Lands End down commuter coat. It keeps me toasty warm and nothing (and I do mean nothing) gets through it, not even that nasty little wind we had this morning. Now, if only I can convince the bus driver that not all of us enjoy a sauna experience on our way to work! It never fails to amaze me that no matter how cold it gets, the driver is nearly always wearing a short-sleeved shirt and, of course, has the heater going full blast. I have to shuck my coat off as soon as I get on the bus or else I'd have heat stroke and not be so daisy fresh anymore by the time I got to my stop downtown.

This past weekend was a very busy one! I attended a two-day machine embroidery event Friday and Saturday and had a wonderful time. It was very well attended and very informative. The event was hosted by Steve Wilson and Laura Winzeler who are the founders of Anita Goodesign, a company that creates fabulous embroidery designs for both home and commercial embroidery machines. Each table had three different Brother machines, two were embroidery/sewing machine models and one was a six-needle commercial model. We worked on several projects in teams of three, trading off on the machines so that we all got a chance to use them. This was the first time that I had worked with Brother machines, and I have to say I really was impressed with them (and this is no small praise coming from a dedicated Viking gal like me.) The six-needle was quite slick and very fast, now I want one! I took pictures of some of the many samples that Steve and Laura created which were hanging around the room and here are my favorites:

This is a tree skirt with embroidered snow globes. The really cool thing about this is that they used clear vinyl over the embroidery to create realistic looking globes.

Here are vintage-look tea towels. Laura worked on Steve for years to get him to digitize vintage designs as he didn't think anyone would want them. I'm glad that she finally got him to change his mind because I bought several of them.

Another vintage concept that Laura convinced Steve to digitize were cutwork designs, and in the process, he innovated a way that makes doing cutwork a lot less painful. Rather than stitching out the design and then cutting out all the little areas with small scissors, you now stitch out an outline, cut away the fabric within the outline and then the machine stitches out the design the same way free-standing lace is done. Voila- perfect cutwork without all the tedious cutting!

Two of the quilts that they had there which I just loved were the Baltimore Albums. I ended up getting both of the design discs for these.

And last but not least, is this stunning piece. The center is created from embroidered "tiles" that were pieced together after they were stitched out. The borders are silk fabric and the effect was just elegant.

Yesterday I went off to the City and County Building to respond to my summons for jury duty. While I did get called as part of a pool, I didn't make it into the jury box so that was it for this time. It's a funny thing, I've been summoned for jury duty like clockwork about every two years since I moved up from Arizona 23 years ago, starting with my first one not long after I got here. The big guy never gets called. Sometimes I really have to wonder about that.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

December project

I have a lot of sewing to do for Christmas, so I only have one project for this month, finishing the blocks for my heirloom sampler quilt. The quilt has nine blocks in all and I've only gotten two of them completely done! The picture below has a sampling of the rest of my blocks that are in various stages of completion. I really do need to get them finished as I will be meeting with my instuctor in January to put the top together.

Meanwhile, look what just arrived recently! I celebrated my 10-year anniversary with the firm that I work for last month and was given a $400 American Express gift card. I used it to get this iron and a Big Board which will hopefully be arriving in the next week or two. Meanwhile, I set up the new iron and took it out for a spin. Ohh, I love it! I actually had the first version of this iron that Rowenta put out a few years ago and while it is a terrific iron, this one has all the things that I wished it had, including a tank that can be filled at any time. The best part of these irons is that there is no auto-shut off! There aren't enough words to express how much I hate that feature on irons! I gave my old iron to a very good friend and now she's enjoying ironing nirvana, too.

Monday, November 30, 2009

This 'n that...

Wow, it's really hard to believe that November is nearly over! This month went by at the blink of an eye, it seems. It was a busy one, especially at work, as I learned the ropes of new responsibilities that have come my way.

I hope that everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving! The big guy and I headed up to his parent's house for dinner and enjoyed visiting with family that we haven't seen in a while. Our niece is getting married in May and had her wedding gown that she had just bought to show us. It's lovely and she looks so beautiful in it! Naturally, she's very excited and really looking forward the big day.

I had very little time to get any where near my sewing room this month. I did manage to get to my heirloom instructor for a lesson, though. I am working on a nine-block sampler quilt with each lesson covering a block featuring machine embroidery combined with a heirloom sewing technique. I decided to change the colors a little to reflect my love of the 1930's pastels and I am really happy with the results. Most of the blocks still need finishing (I'll do those as a December finish for Charming Girls), but here are two that I have completed:

I have to admit that this one is my especial favorite, I just love the embroidered organza in the center:

Meanwhile, I did try to get underway with my Half-Pint but didn't get very far!

Here are my fabrics:

And here is the sum total of the blocks that I've managed to piece together thus far! As you can see, not very many at all!

Here is a close-up:

This is the first time that I've worked with such tiny patches and I have to say that I found them to be a wee bit of a challenge. Hopefully I will have time after the new year to work on my Half-Pint and get her finished. In retrospect, joining the Quilt-Along probably wasn't the greatest idea as my sewing time tends to be so sporadic depending on what's going on. I really wish that I could spend far more time in my sewing room than I am able to right now with a full-time job but that's just the way it is. Mind you, I'm not complaining, in today's economy I'm very grateful to have my job and I am lucky in that I have a great place to work along with really terrific co-workers.

Did anyone do some Black Friday shopping? I went to JoAnn at 7am (they opened at 6) and spent nearly two hours waiting to get my fabric cut! They had the Blizzard fleece on sale for $2.99/yard (the reason I was there) and there were people in the cutting line with one to two carts piled sky-high with bolts of the stuff. What one does with all that fleece I have no idea! Luckily for me, the cutting area is right next to the Viking center where I got my sewing machine, so I could hang out there while waiting for my number to be called. The drawback to that, though, was finding a specialty presser foot that I just couldn't live without. I'm such a presser foot junkie: if they make it, I'll buy it! At any rate, I now have all the materials that I need to get started on my Christmas gifts and my project for the Secret Santa swap. Now it's time to get sewing!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


Kelly has the latest tag up for the Charming Girls Club. Being close to Thanksgiving, she asks that we name some of the things that we are grateful for and to share another craft that we enjoy doing.

Without further ado, these are the things that I am grateful for in no particular order:

Family and friends

My wonderful husband and our kitties

The beauty of the earth

Sunrises and sunsets


That I celebrated another birthday yesterday


All the flowering trees in the spring

Leaves turning on trees during the fall

A job that I like

That I have a roof over my head and food to eat



The internet which makes Charming Girls possible!

Another craft that I really enjoy when I'm not muttering curses as I pick back stitches to fix mistakes is knitting, especially lace patterns. I am currently working on an afghan for my mom which has been keeping me busy and out of my sewing room lately. I took this picture of it the other night, I've since added more repeats to it. As you can see, Bette is my quality control inspector!

Sunday, November 1, 2009


Finally! My mini quilt is finished and ready to go off to its new home tomorrow. Hopefully its recipient will think that it was worth the wait as it will be a little tardy in getting to her. I'm really happy with how it turned out and had such fun creating it.

Meanwhile, look what I got in the mail last week! Cora made this darling wallhanging for me and I just love it. I've always liked pine trees the best and this quilt especially reminds me of the pines that surround the campus at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff where I went to school. I have so many happy memories of NAU and this really brings them back. I'm also going to enjoy having this quilt as part of my winter decor.

Well, now that the mini quilt is done, it's time to get cracking on my Half-Pint! I've got quite a bit of catching up to do on that one.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

October finish

Well, I managed to finish one thing this month, my yo-yo mouse. He seems a rather brave little critter, too, as he's been spotted hanging out with some of the cats.

First, he was lounging about with Lorelai:

Later on he found a comfy resting place on Bette:

We get snow

As promised, we had quite a bit of snow Wednesday and Thursday. This is our front yard midway through the storm.

Friday morning I was heading down the stairs when I saw these icicles hanging outside the stairwell window. The blue wall is our neighbor's house (yes, our houses are that close together.)

Today was absolutely gorgeous, sunny and bordering on warm. If it weren't for the piles of melting snow everywhere, I would have thought that the storm had been a figment of my imagination!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Fall, where art thou?

Just checked the weather forecast and this is what we have in store for us:


Now, as I've said before, I love Fall. Next to Spring, it's my most favorite season. The days are just that right degree of warm with a crisp little hint of cool underlying it, the nights are chilly enough so that I get a good night's sleep burrowed under blankets and all of the trees are turning such pretty colors including my favorite, the Ash with its opalescent mixture of reds and golds. I can usually count on spending October out in my yard, cleaning it up and putting in the rosebushes that are still in pots. This year? Not so much. We've already had a light snowfall or two earlier in the month and I've spent more than one night hauling in my potted rosebushes onto our utility porch until it got warm enough this past Saturday to get them in the ground. Now it looks like a major dumping of snow is on its way. Fall, it would seem, has totally passed us by this year.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Making progress!

I got all my blocks stitched together last night but decided that I didn't like the brown fabric that I had selected for the border and binding. It just "died" when I held it up next to the panel. I made a run to one of the quilt shops that was open today and picked out a raspberry shade that looked like it would work. But rats, when I put it on the top and bottom, it was just too strong. After noodling around with the fabrics a little, I think I've come up with a good solution: cut down the raspberry strips to leave a narrow 1/4" border for just a pop of color when a 1/2" binding of the brown fabric is applied (you can sort of see the pinned mock-up at the top of the panel.) The border just won't be as wide as originally called for but I think the end result will be even better.

In the meantime, I hauled out the embroidery unit for my machine and stitched out the label. This is my first time creating a label with the embroidery software and while I generally happy with it, I can already see things about the layout that could be improved. Everything's a learning experience!

I had hoped to get the quilt finished this weekend but all the angst over the border killed that plan. So now I'm shooting to have it in the mail by Thursday. While I'm toiling away, Cary will no doubt be taking up his usual spot on the big guy's recliner:

Friday, October 23, 2009

Mini quilt swap

I got a bit of a late start on my mini quilt for the exchange. The first pattern that I choose just wasn't working out so I switched to a different one a couple of weeks ago. This one is called Bumblebee Lane and is from a book by the same name that I picked up while I was in Wisconsin. Each log cabin block has an embroidered center and now that I've finished those, it's on to the piecing! Here's a close-up of one of the centers:

And here is a closer look at one of the finished blocks:

There will be nine blocks in all, arranged in rows of three each. I'm really please with how it's coming together and can't wait to see it finished and ready to go off to its new home!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Camp Cotton

Last month I attended Betty Cotton's Cotton Theory camp in Osseo, Wisconsin. It was one of the most intense experiences that I have ever had! Five full days of sewing and learning new techniques left me worn out! Betty's quilt as you go method produces very unique quilts and I can't wait to put what I learned to good use and get some UFO's done.

This was my first time ever in Wisconsin and I loved it. It's truly beautiful and the people were wonderful. My only regret is that I had very little time to see the surrounding area. My first words to the big guy when I got home were that we have to make a vacation trip back there.

October project

I'm bumping my yo-yo animals that I didn't get done last month for this month's project. I have so much non-quilting sewing to get done by the end of the month and my mini quilt to complete for the swap, that this is about all I can hope to get completed. Once I get all these various projects out of the way, I can go full steam ahead on actual quilt projects next month! I'm really looking forward to settling into my sewing room as winter approaches and getting back into my sewing groove.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

September finishes

I'm sliding in under the wire tonight posting my finishes. I actually got them done before I left for quilt camp on the 21st but haven't had time to post them until tonight. Camp was a lot of fun but exhausting!
OK, here they are. First up is the clothespin bag:

Next is the crazy quilt padded topper for my basket lid. It turned out way better than I had expected it to:

Here is a close-up:

I didn't get a chance to work on my yo-yo animals at all so they'll have to wait another month to get finished!

Thursday, September 17, 2009


Kelly over at Charming Chatter has posted September's tag questions for the Charming Girls Club. Without further ado, here are my answers:

1) When I look at the darling sample that Kelly is making for our upcoming Quilt-Along, "Half-pint" is what comes to my mind. For some reason, the quilt with its tiny nine-patches and half-square triangles, makes me think of Little House on the Prairie and Pa's nickname for Laura was Half-pint. However, when I think of actually making those tiny little half-square triangles, "Lilliputian Nightmare" also comes to mind, but somehow, I don't think that's the sort of name Kelly is looking for!

2) E- enthusiastic about starting new projects and learning new skills

S- self-reliant, I've always been a pretty independent kind of gal

T- traveler, nothing thrills me more than getting on a plane and going somewhere

H- "How hard can it be?" A thought process that gets me into trouble project-wise more often than not...

E- earrings! Let's just say that I have earrings the way Imelda Marcos had shoes

R- reader, I was one of those kids who always had her nose stuck in a book and it still is

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Fall is almost here!

Anybody who knows me well knows that I don't like hot weather very much (the main reason why I no longer live in Southern Arizona) and that Summer is a season I can happily skip past altogether. As a consequence, I pretty much live for that first hint of Fall with its promise of cooler weather and this past weekend was it. I'm in heaven! It's time to put away the sandals and break out the tights and all my lovely shoes to go with them! (Yes, I'm a shoe addict.)

Aren't those flowers pictured above pretty? The big guy sent them to me at work last Friday "just because." Labor Day weekend had pretty much been a bust: It was hot and I had a miserable sinus infection to contend with that left me feeling pretty cruddy for the rest of the week. He must of thought I really needed a day brightener and it worked. He even made sure that they used Fall colors, too!

Monday, September 7, 2009

September projects

Since I am going to be going to quilt camp for a week at the end of the month and my time for getting projects finished is limited, I looked around my sewing room for small projects in need of finishing and came up with these:

Crazy quilt padded basket top:

Clothespin bag:

Yo-yo stuffed animals:

Thanks to Kelly, these UFOs will finally get done! The clothespin bag is another gift that I'll finally be able to give once it's finished. It's for a friend who has never had a dryer, she likes to go the old-fashioned route when drying her laundry!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Here we go!

Ok, here goes my first post! I never in a million years ever thought that I'd be starting a blog but after I joined the Charming Girls Club, it just made sense. I always have some sort of project going on and it will be nice to share them with other girls who also feel the need to create!

Whew! I really slid under the wire with my August finishes. My patriotic banner is the first quilt that I've pieced, quilted and bound and I was feverishly sewing the binding on the back up to the very last minute. I had no idea it would take me so long! Although I've sewn for a long time, I'm relatively new to quilting. I've got some finished tops that I've pieced, but up to now, taking that final plunge and getting them sandwiched and quilted was something that I've really kind of freaked out over. I've finally gotten myself over that hump! Someday I'll be brave enough to drop the dogs and do free motion quilting. I have no excuse not to learn how, the local quilt shop that is my home away from home is Harriet's Treadle Arts, owned by Harriet Hargrave who pretty much pioneered the art of quilting on home sewing machines. Harriet has a whole bunch of classes that are on my wishlist to take.

I noticed in the comments for our August finishes that some of you are wondering if there's a pattern for one of the tote bags that I made. And the answer is yes! The tote in question is the one on the left:

I made it using a Recipe For Friendship charm pack and the Charming Totes 4 pattern from Whistlepig Creek Productions. The pattern has three variations and all are designed to utilize charm packs. A terrific friend made me a different variation in fall colors for my birthday last year and I liked the tote so much (it is a really nice size, approx. 14 x 14 inches) that I decided to make a different version for each season. This particular one is my summer one. I already have my charms and pattern picked out for my winter version and will probably make that one in the next month or so. The other tote bag was a long overdue gift for my friend, Holly, who just adores polka dots. I gave it to her today and got a big hug in return. She really loves it!

Last but not least, here's a picture of the lovely tea towel that Katy made me for the exchange. Since Halloween is one of my most favorite holidays, I just adore it! The print on the band has a cute vintage look to it which I also really like. Mr. Duck is proud to show it off for us:

Katy also included a delicious recipe for Cookie Salad which I'll try over Labor Day weekend. I have a feeling that it will be a huge hit with the big guy (aka as my hubby) who has never met a dessert he didn't like.

Here's the towel that I made for Katy:

Let me just say that those Clover yo-yo makers are the best invention ever!