Friday, October 30, 2009

Where am I? And why am I not quilting?

I got my brand new embroidery module with the newest software yesterday (after trading in the 'old' one that was mistakenly delivered with my new machine). Rather than quilt last night, I decided to give a first read to the manual in case I was feeling bold enough to whip out the embroidery Saturday. Most likely I won't. I've signed up for a Bernina Embroidery Guide Class on 11/21 so I just may wait until then.

In the meantime, I've got a workshop this weekend with Debbie (Open a Can of Worms) Caffrey, and I badly need to cut about a million 2.5" strips before then. (But not tonight because I've already had half a very dirty martini).

So, instead, I'm going to actually tackle some housecleaning tonight (while listening to Ricky Tims new Christmas CD, which I have been listening to on replay for the past 4's interesting, and I'll review it another day....not your traditional Christmas CD).

I'm beginning to think that all of the floors in my house must scream out in pain if someone OTHER THAN ME attempts to wash or vacuum them.....well, except for the dogs, who, I have to admit,  really do a marvelous job of gentle tongue-washing that seems to do a world of good between the old mop and Pine Sol routine (NOT!).

The kitchen tile really needed a good clean (as did the whole kitchen), especially after the plumber cut this gaping hole in the ceiling this afternoon.

So right now, you walk into my kitchen and you see:

the lovely polished granite countertop with polished cabinets, and then your eye wanders upwards and you

wonder what the heck animal is going to fall out of that hole in the ceiling on you.

We've had a bit of a leak problem for a couple of weeks, so today it took a $95 plumber to cut  my ceiling open to determine that my leaking problem was caused by the 'not so-handyman' who installed our shower 2 years ago and used the wrong grout and never sealed it---so now when the water hits the shower wall, it's Victoria Falls in the kitchen. Nothing three quarters of a thousand dollars won't fix next week. :)

Lesson learned....NEVER hire a friend/relative/guy in your softball league to do any kind of home repair/remodeling job. You will live to regret it.

Okay, enough mindless non-creative chit chat. I'm craving more olives, and the family room

is screaming for the vacuum.

Not to mention my little 4-legged furry floor-washers are becoming quite impatient as it's now solid 45 minutes past their dinner time--the horror!. (Brats!)


Wednesday, October 28, 2009

An organized start on the 2nd quilt from one jelly roll, as I careen out of control in all other tasks

Don't you love these blocks? I decided to skip the 9 patch and just cut triangles so I could make these blocks from the remaining strip sets. I had enough to put together 18 blocks, and I squared them up as 7.25 inches (I know, weird number, but does it really matter?)

I'm going to cut 18 blocks from my parchment colored cotton and either set these on point or stagger them checkerboard style, Then I'll add a wide border and I'll have another throw to gift.  Tomorrow I'll cut the parchment blocks. Tonight I've got a stack of magazines on the nightstand I'd like to dive into before I feel the need to recycle them unread because they're out of date.  I bought two magazines today at the grocery store that weren't quilt magazines....imagine that!

At some point I need to do some housecleaning, change out my closet, assess the Christmas decorating plan, work on a gift list and do a whole mess of household paperwork, but I'm just not feeling it. There's way too many fun things to be doing in my off time. I seem to have lost all resolve....I'm ignoring housework, starting and not finishing craft projects, not watching my diet, haven't made any doctor/dentist appointments that are due, I'm avoiding a major home repair task.....somewhere along the line, I've fallen off the runaway train that is my life. Must find a way to get back on, as I'm headed nowhere fast right now and this will not do with the upcoming holidays.

Hopefully I can turn things around by the weekend, it is, after all, only Tuesday. (phew!)

Monday, October 26, 2009

Sunday's progress

The triangle in the center is what we are working with. The one on the left will be used in another project, and that is going to create my favorite block, which I think I'm going to make a lot of. You'll see this in the next top. The remaining 3-strip piece on the right will become 9 patch blocks.

I cut 4 triangles from each strip set. I then laid out pairs, being careful to match each pair together having different patterned small triangles at the top (because we cut half with the ruler in one direction and flipped the ruler for the other two, we've got 2 iterations of each triangle).

Then I sewed the pairs together to make a big triangle and carefully pressed...this project has been one big experiment in careful pressing, and it looks it.

And then I sewed the pairs of pairs together to make big squares...

which I sewed  together to make a top (which is sideways here, unless the man behind the quilts is lying down on the job)

Finally I added a border, and unhappy  with how it was sizing up, I sewed a bunch of charm squares together to make another border and am debating adding one more final solid color border to finish it off.

Busy bee yesterday. It's cute. No work of art by any means, certainly not my style, but I'm sure someone will like their gift when it's done. And I got to experience Quilt in a Day and using triangles to cut. And I got to use Mary Engelbreit fabric (The Caroler), so it was a bunch of firsts which equate to a good overall learning experience.

Now I need to finish up using the rest of the strips and charm squares so I can move on to using my Moda Woodland Blossoms and make something a little less cutesy for my SIL's beach house for Christmas.

Waiting on a new embroidery module for the 440 (the one that came with it had very old software--2 versions back from what is current--don't ask... apparently Bernina doesn't quite understand the concept of qualtiy control), so the dealer is just going to call Bernina and have them send a whole new package--module, carry bag, software...which is certainly what I would expect for what I paid for this.

In the meantime, I've got ants in my pants to embroider, and I'm also anxiously awaiting my SewSteady table to arrive so I can commence to quilting using my SewSlip mat and Quilt Halo. (It's murder having new toys and not being able to play with them). I suppose I could be online looking for what I want in a netbook to run this software on, but I'm hoping to put the hubs on that for me (and unfortunately he gets to things in his own time, unlike me who would have had it ordered and delivered by now--seriously, you're watching the Redskins when you could be on the HP site building me a notebook?).

Check back tomorrow and see what I accomplish tonight from the Eleanor Burns mess (as soon as I get my desk cleared off). Though I have in hand two 'Mastering Your Bernina' workbooks and may opt to sharpen a couple of  No. 2s and play student for the rest of the night.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

and we did some serious slicing today...

beginning with my hand at 8:30 this morning while using those crazy 5-bladed scissors to snip up fresh parsley for the turkey stuffing. ouch!!!

Going to be busy with dinner. Staying away from sharp objects, so no rotary cutting today.


Friday, October 23, 2009

Rotary cutting madness day postponed

This evening we digress on something we just cannot avoid...the upcoming holidays.

While I did go to the local quilt shop this evening to take advantage of their 25% off sale--got some triangles for an upcoming workshop, some batik for the back of the next convergence, some wool batting (collective ahhs can be heard), and a pumpkin panel to use with the Moda Pumpkins Gone Wild  fabric I picked up last fall in Lancaster, that is going to be the extent of quiltiness for today. We shall take a double helping of fabric tomorrow in between running an errand in the morning and preparing Hurricane Thanksgiving Dinner.

While out merchandising, I hopped into Michaels to use my 40% off coupon on an accessory for my daughter's Christmas gift (it's something that requires a lot of accessories, so it looks like maybe weekly trips to Michaels are in order from here until mid-December, either that or the hubs is going to have to suck it up and accompany me on a few trips so he can stand behind me and purchase a second item).

This is what I was up to today:

10 of the ornaments and the glittery poke-y things in this box--which I am calling the 'Rock the Copper Tree' box,  just flew into my hands while I was heading to the cash register to pay for the Christmas gift. There is truly a method to the madness.

I'll be decorating about 15 trees this year. The tree in our master bedroom is done in copper. Opulent copper glitter ribbon threaded throughout, all copper glittery ornaments. It's a favorite.
Pheasant feathers in the topper. It's definitely a beautiful tree.
But, I'm bored with it.
Big time.
So this year I asked the Hubs to go to my favorite Christmas designer's place when he was in Vegas and pick me up some peacock blue ribbon. Well, peacock blue is what we would call a subjective color. He came home with the lovely flocked turquoise ribbon pictured in the Rock the Tree box above, which I thiink will do the job.

The plan is to intermingle that ribbon with what is already there and add just the tiniest bit--okay, I know, in the box it looks far from the 'tiniest' me on this, this is the tiniest bit of an eyepopping color to see if we can lively up this tree.

Check back next month to see the results. (As well as what I do with the other 15 or so trees).

Tomorrow, we slice!!!!! Night for now.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Finishing up the strip sets

Tonight I learned how to iron my strips without stretching them out. I used a portable ironing pad with grid lines and laid my two strips against one of the rules. Next I pressed the seam to set it.

After that, I opened the strips, gently finger pressed the one strip to the top and then ran the iron across the seam, being conscious of keeping the strips aligned with the ironing pad rules. The results were perfect, uniform strips with no stretching.

I then restacked my strips after ironing so they were back in the original order I had laid out. Then I sewed the third strip to the middle strip to complete my 3-strip sets.

Back on the machine to add the third strip to the dozen sets.

Back to the ironing pad to press open the last seam and now I've got a dozen strip sets to cut into triangles tomorrow. (see how nice the seams are? it really pays to spend a minute more doing careful ironing).

Tomorrow is rotary cutting madness day. (well, night). I hope to finish at least 2 tops by the time the weekend  is over.

Saturday we will be having a Hurricane Thanksgiving Day dinner, so I need to get a little housecleaning done and will be spending most of the day preparing a  traditional Thanksgiving dinner (had a turkey in the freezer from the after-Easter sales that we really need to use, so we're going to do it up right.

It's an early night for me. I've got a couple quilt magazines  and a sewing machine manual on the nightstand vying for my attention. Goodnight!

Let's make a quilt....or three!

Time to do some actual work with the new machine and a few of the Houston goodies, so we're going to use the Eleanor Burns Twice as Nice... Plus More pattern and ruler set. (If you can zoom in, you'll see that Eleanor signed the upper right corner of the pattern). I had the jelly roll and there are also a couple of charm packs in case I want to add in a little something to upsize.

The jelly roll and a little background fabric will make a 52x64, 42x42 and a 37x45 quilt. I may just consolidate the various blocks into a single, or I may combine them to make 2 gifts.

I'm  using Moda's The Caroler by Mary Engelbreit.

If you've got a jelly roll and a 9-1/2" triangle square up ruler (or just a square up ruler that you've turned on point and taped a thin strip of painters tape across the middle from corner to corner, feel free to jump in.

First, we want to select 36 strips and lay them out in three rows of 12. We want to have the same number of each color in every row, where we can. At this point we aren't worried about pattern, just about separating out our colors so that each row has some green, some red, some black, and it's equally distributed.

Once we've got an even distribution we want to arrange our three rows so that no two colors are lying next to each other, and no to patterns are side by side. Take the strip from the middle row and lay it face down on the strip in the row on the left.
Stitch the two strips (right sides together) with a 1/4" seam.

Keep these in order. An easy way to do this is to stack them on top of each other as you've sewn the strips together. Then you'll press them open, and after pressing, taking the strip from the top, you'll stack them on top of each other again, and you'll be in the same order you were when you started, and you can now go back and sew the third strip on.

This is as far as we go tonight. Catch up if you want to sew with me and we'll continue tomorrow. If all goes as planned, the project will be completed by the end of the weekend.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

And She Comes Up For Air

Sorry, spent all day Sunday putting away my purchases from Houston, had to work Monday, and picked up the new machine Monday afternoon. Spent last night playing with the stitch regulator and some of the 158 or so stitches. Did not open the embroidery module box or the cutwork. Must be able to thread this machine with eyes closed first. :)

Let's talk about the self-control I exercised was a telecommute day. Upstairs in the studio is a brand spankin' new machine and a bunch of brand new toys hand-carried from Texas. Did I go upstairs to sneak a stitch in? Not once. And unfortunately, I didn't get a chance to do much more than sit and look at her this evening, as I had to photograph some of my goodies to share with you, which required taking them all out again.

I'll give you a little taste of what shopping at Quilt Festival was like, but I really need to get into the office early tomorrow so I need to get to bed. I'll post more tomorrow evening.


These are two different Day of the Dead fabrics (purchased from different vendors). The skull one on the left has glitter painted throughout. Pretty cool, eh? I'm thinking tote bag, or purse.

Embellishments anyone? I'm thinking something to do with the ocean and beach glass and sea spray, and long walks on the beach in the morning. I told you I wanted to be an art quilter, and the puffy green cotton candy in the middle I am dying to work with....Angelina Fiber, irridescent, fiberglass, melts into solid (or not) when ironed betwen parchment. Cool.  There's also a pliable metal mesh, recycled silk cording, raw silk fqs, kimono scraps, cords, ribbons. A nice little stash starter.

Indigo from Ghana. Same continent, but quite different from the South African Indigo I got from deGama Textile Mill.

And we've got to represent for Asian indigo.

Bonjour! The two larger yellow pieces are yardage, all the rest is FQ, which in French translates to about 3" narrower than an American fq. But I didn't care if they were only 15", they were beautiful.

Oui, there is tres more.

Whimsical Japanese fabrics (those are the lucky cat buttons on the left to go with the lucky cat fabric). Most likely these will be purses, or some other type of embellishment. The center fabric reminds me of Pez dispensers.

That's all for tonight. I'm yawning myself into la la land here. Time to boogie on up to bed and rearrange the hubs and fight the 2 dogs for some mattress space. Please, please, tell me Bailey hasn't been drooling on (or licking--whatever his oral fixation of the moment is) my side of the bed for the last couple hours.

Be back tomorrow.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Friday at the Quilt Festival

It was a beautiful morning in Houston today. The humidity blew out to sea and the temperature dropped a good 10 degrees. A lovely walk to Convention Center.

Started out the morning in the Vendor area. This is Eleanor Burns signing books. She gave a nice demo on how to make 3 quilt tops from one jelly roll, and since I have a few lying about, I bought her show special package to do this.

Here's an overhead view of the vendor area. There are 18 aisles. Don't think for a minute that you are going to remember where you saw something and go back for it later. In fact, if you're heading down an aisle and stop to browse, you're most likely going to forget which direction you were headed. At least that happened to me a couple of times.

After going upstairs and wasting a half an hour for a prearranged meet-up with members of my guild---none of which, btw, showed up for,  I headed back to start checking out the exhibits. My first impression on seeing this was 'no wonder people are afraid of clowns'.
This next quilt won one of the big prizes. It's amazing. Machine applique, machine quilted (on an older Bernina). The quilt was submitted last year and returned. Wasn't even considered. Wins big this year. (Apparently that happened to Ricky Tims a few years back...entry rejected one year, wins the next).

The quilt below was another example of some marvelous, intriquite quilting. You've got to smile when you look at this one.

This is a closeup of what I heard someone said is an Advent Calendar quilt.


After viewing all the quilts, as you can guess, I had to head back in to the vendor area....this time it was for a very small taste of embellishments. Houston, we may have created a monster here.....

Friday, October 16, 2009

This is the HandiQuilter $10,000 winner of Best in Show. I walked past it this morning and took a photo for you. Tomorrow is my quilt day, though my sister said I should have gone this afternoon as the exhibition hall was quite empty. Everyone was in with the vendors.

Here's some more eye candy for you.

This artist really loved puzzles...look at the lid of the box.

Tomorrow is my show day. When i was buying Ghana indigo, the vendor told me to be sure to see the exhibit of Asian indigo quilts, so now I'm on a mission.

Today's shopping was fabuloso. French fabric, Ghanan indigo, Asian indigo, Japanese fabric, German buttons. They don't call this the International Quilt Festival for nothing.

I am so glad I didn't go to Vegas this year and feed my money into the slot machines. Quilt Festival shopping has been the most fun.

I was also hoping to meet some of the Pickle Road Posse (Mark Lipinski's online group). That was pos showed up at the designated meeting time....Sylvia from Texas. We talked embroidery. She was very helpful pointing me in the direction of arming myself with the necessary tools to use my new machine next week.  Thanks Sylvia.

Oh, and today I was told that I am a "Used to Sew Girl" or something to that effect by the people in the Schmetz needle booth. They did a little interview and took photos of me. I just hope they didn't turn out as bad as the one I took with Ricky Tims this morning. (I so need a haircut!)

Speaking of Ricky, I bought an instructional DVD and his new Christmas CD (my husband would kill me, I didn't even listen to it first, just bought it, blindly (or would that be 'deafly'), and we won't tell him that it cost $14.95, marked down from $16.95. But, I will say this, Ricky whips those things open and signs each of them, without even asking.\

Now, I'm walking past this other booth that seemed to have dozens of different CDs displayed..the kind of display you find in the drugstore with the falling rain/ocean waves/white noise CDs. As I walked past, some of sounded like trance music with a little classical thrown in. I guess it was supposed to be relaxing music to quilt by. Whatever. Anyway, I had to smile because someone was buying one and I heard the guy ask...."do you want an autograph?" Pretty sad when you have to ask someone if they want your autograph. I mean, if they did, they'd have asked you for it. Duh!

Well, it's 11 p.m. here in Houston. I woulld so like to go through my day's purchases, but my sister is asleep in the bedroom area, and her friend is asleep on the pull out couch here in the living room area, so I don't think I can make any noise rattling bags. Wait, my sister said I could make noise (yay for big sisters!)

Gotta run before she changes her mind.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

If it's Thursday, we must be in Houston

Good morning Houston! Today's plan is to start the show with the vendors on a fabric quest. I expect it will be much more crowded today. It really wasn't too bad last night. But then, I'm sure there's a lot of quilters who would rather spend the $10 on fabric instead of a chance to shop for 3 hours.

Maybe we weren't in the right place at the right time, but I saw no super deals that were offered only during the bags of silk scraps for half price, no half price FQs, so for the first entry in my "Lessons Learned in Houston: Things to Do Differently Next Year" book, saving the $300 a night hotel cost and skipping Preview is going to have to rank #1 on the list.

And the second entry is Be an informed buyer, do not make impulse purchases. The Sew Steady table I bought last night for a big 20% discount sells for the discounted price I paid, down to $20 less all over the Internet.

Well, it's my turn in the shower, be back later!

Welcome to Houston

Here we are, first photos at the Preview tonight. Doesn't look like a lot of people...that's because they all made a mad rush to the Souvenir stands to pick up programs, pins, t-shirts, coffee mugs, mouse pads, battery operated fans....We made a beeline to the nether regions...the farthest away booths and worked our way  to the beginning booths---path of least resistance.

Every thread manufacturer you've ever heard of, and some you haven't, has a booth at the show. I love the thread displays. So visual, so colorful, so organized. This is a job for me...arranging hundreds of spools of colord thread on tables. Almost makes me want to contact YLI, Sulky, etc. and offer to be their thread roadie.

This is where you'll find me tomorrow, if you're looking for me..the Hobbs batting booth. You can buy 18x18 pieces of all of the different battings they sell for 50 cents each.  This way you can try before you buy. Gotta love it!

Overwhelming? Yes. My goal was to just walk the vendor floor. That took 3 hours tonight. I only stopped to buy a few things...a couple spendy Bernina accessories (one of which was the 18x24 plexiglass table for my new machine,) and only because they were 20% off.

I got to sit down and machine quilt a bit using the silicone slider mat and the weighted circle frame---will most likely buy both of those tomorrow. Did not see anything Australian, But did see some authentic French fabrics I most likely have to have. Saw a great line of Mexican Day of the Dead prints, but they were outrageous. I think I saw them at another vendor's booth for way less. Will be checking that out.

Right now I need to to go to bed. I couldn't get a Ricky Tims photo tonight...not that I didn't have the opportunity--his booth was pretty quiet at the end, I just was all hot and sweaty. I did scope out his booth where he was selling his books, his CDs, his hand-dyed fabric (sadly, nothing to write home about compared to the other hand dyed fabrics available here at the show). He should have decorated his booth with convergence quilts...that would have sold him a ton of books. But who knows, maybe he did that last year.

Promise to take better photos tomorrow. I'm going to split my day between viewing quilts in the show and revisiting the vendors I thought I might want to shop at, but didn't tonight.

Have a great Thursday everyone!