This is my with my "Norse Star" quilt.
I had been planning a graduation quilt for my nephew for some time, but the demands of a house filled with DIY projects delayed it for more than a year. Plus I had not finished the graduation quilt for his older brother (for the same reasons). So when I had an opportunity to do a mystery quilt at my guild's retreat, I figured maybe I could kill two birds with one stone. I gathered the fabrics in my nephew's college colors and hoped it would turn out pretty; if it did not, then I would just donate the not-so-pretty quilt and start over for the graduation quilt. I was very happy when the fabrics I chose were so striking in this pattern.
At the retreat, I worked quickly because I had so much to do! When I had down time between instruction installments, I quilted his brother's quilt which I managed to finish piecing just before leaving for the retreat. The farther along the mystery quilt went, the more excited I became and I could hardly wait to learn what the next step would be.
My nephew attends Northern Kentucky University. On the NKU website is a variety of logos and the permissions read that it is okay to use the logo as long as long as I would not sell the project. I enlarged the logos to fill the screen of my laptop and traced the logo onto white paper. Then I cut out the logo and traced it with pencil onto the corners of the white background fabric. Then I slowly stitched on the pencil marks. Later, I filled in the logo with a black Sharpie being very careful to stay about 1/16 inch away from the stitches. Low tech, maybe, but it looked even better than I had hoped.
I started free motion quilting on my domestic sewing machine at home but it was taking too long, so I rented a mid-arm machine at my LQS to finish the job. The lines are not straight and I had some goobers on the back at my stop and start points, but I did okay for my first attempt FMQing on the mid-arm . All the meandering loops were done on my home machine. Here is what it looks like on the back.
Once it was quilted and bound, I washed the quilt with those dye-grabbing sheets to make sure the ink would stay put and would not run. It was fine. I also wanted to make sure all my pencil marks would wash out. They did - mostly; the next wash or two should take out the rest of the marks.
I incorporated a few extra blocks into the back and used them for my signature label. Can you find their mates in the quilt top?
UPDATE: Wahoo! He likes it!
A cousin offered to pay me to do a "retro" quilt in pink and aqua for her daughter's youth bed. I offered to do one free if she picked fabrics from my stash so I posted pics on FB of fabrics for her approval. She wasn't crazy about them and wanted softer colors.
She was in the process of moving and has been understandably way too busy to answer my questions regarding "retro" (style or fabric? decade?) and color choice so I went to my local fabric store and searched for a "retro" fabric with those colors. Didn't find one. Weird. Last year I could have found dozens of fabrics in those colors.
So I picked this pretty bird fabric from JoAnn's and thought I could pull out that aqua-ish blue. Hoping "retro" refers to style, I went with a patchwork block of slanted stars with yellow centers to look like flowers and used the bird fabric for the border. After I had already started I realized I had not purchased enough fabric for the backing. Since I prefer to back smaller quilts with a whole cloth, I had to return to the fabric store. I got really lucky because the companion fabrics were all on clearance. I even have enough leftovers to do another quilt.
I still have difficulty taking "orders" for quilts because I still feel like my skills are just above rookie status. Besides, I am afraid they might not like it - or, worse, I might not like it - unless I go with my own plan. If I design and make a quilt using my own ideas and they someone wants to buy it, that is okay. Anyway, this one is getting mailed tomorrow and I consider it a gift.
Here are some pics.
To quilt I stitched in the ditch around the "stars", leaving the
centers unquilted so they have some loft. To emphasize the flowers I traced
and quilted the shape of the leaf (these are similar
to "melons", I later learned, but the leafs are more curvy) using a walking foot. I echoed the leaf on the outer square. For the solid white squares in the corners I quilted a bird. I keep thinking it could use more quilting, but I would rather not do too much and I like do the simplicity of this piece.
Don't you just love bias-cut striped binding?
I wanted the stripe effect to be consistent from top to bottom so I had to play with the fabric a bit before cutting the borders. After completing all the patch worked area, I folded it in half to find the middle. Then I found the center vine in the top and bottom border fabric and pinned it to the middle mark of the patchwork. Then I cut the side borders to match the top and bottom as closely as possible. It didn't work out exactly because the vine zig-zags a bit. Quilting a straight line between the vines fools the eye so the fabric does not appear to be pieced unless you look closely.
From the conception of this project I have been contemplating the quilt label. Since the back is pretty, too, I had the idea that the bed might be made with the quilt turned over for a change; if so, then a label stuck in the corner would look odd. So I came up with the idea to center the label at the top of the back and upside down. If the quilt is turned over the little bird is visible at the foot of the bed. Or, if the patchwork side is up, once Bella is tucked in for the night, the quilt could be folded back to reveal the little bird. I have not marked the label yet, but here is what it looks like so far.
I plan to get it finished today. I still have to wash out the markings for the quilting and get it dried out so I can ship it to Bella. I hope she (and her momma) like it.
OMGoodness! I am so excited! Tonight, my "Go Fish" quilt placed first among 15 made during a special challenge by my quilt guild.
The challenge was, using the fat quarter provided (the darkest fabric pictured above), make a child size quilt with a "Childrens' Games" theme. I found the fishing pole fabric at a resale shop and there was plenty enough of it to use for a border and for the quilt backing. Then I went shopping for fish fabric and other fabrics that reminded me of water, bubbles, and fishing line. Using the fish fabric as the "chimney", I built a simple log cabin block using the primary-colored fabrics. Once it was pieced, it seemed something was missing. All those little fish were facing the middle; they must be looking at something. Naturally, what they must be looking at is a fat, juicy worm. So appliqued the hook and worm in the center. The quilt top is pieced by machine quilted in broad squiggly lines to imitate waves of water using a walking foot on my home sewing machine.
I loved the design I came up with, but I never thought I had a chance of winning against the other quilters who are so much more experienced than I.
In addition to a blue ribbon, I was presented with a gift certificate for a LQS in the amount of $25.
All the quilts were donated to a program benefiting children in the foster care program in our county. In addition, the guild members had a "baby shower" to benefit a program at a local hospital to benefit new parents.
We haven't traveled much; outside the US, that is. But we did travel twice to Russia.
We were in the process of adopting a beautiful girl and we were excited to get to finally meet her. First we had an eleven hour flight to Moscow which was followed by eight hours of sightseeing. I don't know who's big idea it was to put jet-lagged, bleary-eyed, non-Russian-speaking parents-to-be through a torturous tour of Red Square, but despite our excitement to be there we were too exhausted to truly appreciate the personal tour complete with interpreter. Good thing I took lots of pictures to help me remember it. Then they put us on an overnight train - without the translator - to the region in which our daughter lived. Our next translator helped us to check in to the hotel which was another two hour drive from the town where the orphanage was and we were to travel back and forth between those two towns every single day until we returned to Moscow.
I saw all sorts of toilets during those travels, but never a one was like the one I have at home. Some looked familiar, but there was always the challenge of figuring out how to flush it (push or pull this whatchamajigger?). Some toilets were stalls with a hole in the floor - but no door. Some were porcelain placed at floor level; the best I could figure was I should place one foot on either side and aim for the middle. One high tech version required payment to the attendee; apparently, it self-sterilized it's entire tiny room after each use. And some, like on one cross-Atlantic flight, had a sink that did not function at all so I was SO glad I carried that bottle of hand sanitizer with me at all times.
I did learn that Russians do not flush toilet paper; they use it, but
they put it in the tiny trash can next to the toilet. Something about
the plumbing being old. Having been made aware of the plumbing problem, I tried to be respectful by using less paper, but I
could not bring myself to stuff stinky, soiled paper into the trash and expect the maid to carry it away.
Our driver for all those two hour trips between the hotel and the orphanage was Marina. She was wonderful. But I think I must have been her most challenging client ever. I was used to drinking lots of water and I always carried a bottle with me. On about half of those two-hour rides I had to ask her to stop someplace because I had to go to the bathroom. Now, every time we loaded everyone into Marina's van, I tried to find a privy and empty my bladder before starting up the van but sometimes when we were in meetings with government officials there were just no public restrooms nearby. Worse, when we visited the orphanage we were always invited to have tea with the orphanage director - always a pleasant experience and it would have been rude to refuse, but it was not kind to my bladder. At those times it didn't matter that I used the facilities before I left, I was going to have to "go" at some point on the way back to the hotel.
You will think it is weird, but I actually didn't mind when Marina had to pull off the road for me. See, we were in the middle of nowhere. We were in a region covered with birch trees and evergreens. For several dozen yards between the highway and the tree line there was nothing but patches of snow and ice. I never saw any four legged critters at all. And since traffic was very light, my only difficulty was obtaining privacy from the folks traveling with us in the van. So on our first Russian journey which took place in winter my DH would walk way off the road and would hold up a coat in front of me to provide some privacy. Now THAT is love! Marina was scandalized whenever she had to stop for me, but she was always really nice about it. The only bad experience on a hotel-to-orphanage run was when she decided to help me out by stopping at a petrol station. I thought it was so nice of her until I realized there was no public washroom there. I was told to go around back. I did, but I did not like it one bit. Lots of other people had done the same thing and had left their deposits on either side of a stinky, slippery path. It was really gross. And since the path sloped down from the station and back up the hill beyond, I felt like I was on public display even though I did not actually see anyone. Thankfully, my DH was there to shield me from at least one direction.
I got some important advice before we made our second journey to Russia. A missionary friend and I were sharing and giggling over bathroom stories when she said to me, "Oh, honey, I never travel without an umbrella. Just get yourself one of those little ones that fit in your purse and you will have privacy wherever you need it." She was SO right. That second trip took place in the spring and the area between the highway and the trees was now covered in tall grass. That grass and the umbrella were all I needed to experience some of my pleasantest personal time in Russia. Well, I those AND the roll of toilet paper I never left the hotel without.
To the lone guy in the men's room at the beach, so sorry I startled you when I rushed in the door. It really was an emergency and the ladies room had a looooong line; besides, my DH went in first and gave me the go ahead so I assumed the room was empty. Believe me, I was as surprised to see you as you were to see me.
And to the guy who was doing his business as I left the men's room: I am sorry I interrupted your business. I did not know my DH was going to abandon the door where he stood guard and instead move the car to a legal parking spot. I wish he would have stayed to save us both the embarrassment. But perhaps it was an emergency for you, too. Maybe I left so quietly you didn't even know I was there? I hope so.
Thanks for not having me arrested or something.
C-o-f-f-e-e, coffee is not for me,
It's a drink some people wake up with,
That it makes them nervous is no myth,
Slaves to a coffee cup, they can't give coffee up.
Those are the lyrics to a childrens folk song I learned in grade school. (I tried to find the author to give credit here, but the best I can do is give you the website at which I found the lyrics: http://www.musicanet.org/robokopp/usa.html).
This blog is basically a rant against coffee. I hate coffee.
My earliest memories include those of a bleary-eyed father who stumbled his way to the dining room and the coffee pot which occupied a place of honor on Mom's beautiful antique sideboard. Dad worked shift work so his first coffee of the day was sometimes in the late afternoon. His eyes as droopy as his saggy briefs - the only item of clothing he ever wore in the house unless we had guests - he would pour the dark, bitter liquid that had been steeping in the carafe since the day before, shuffle to the kitchen microwave to heat it up, and ease himself into the living room recliner until the coffee began to take effect. We knew to disperse when the bedroom door creaked open, because he was always very, very grumpy when he first woke up and he always controlled the television remote any time he was awake. That is the way it was back then; the father's choice always superseded anyone else's. Company was always an excuse to rinse out the pot and brew a fresh one because no one else in the world could tolerate the thick goo that dad would drink.
In the world of my childhood, men drank coffee and alcoholic beverages and smoked and women did not. That was my limited understanding based on the fact that my dad enjoyed all three vices and mom didn't. Funny how a kid forms ideas about the rest of the world based on observing the behavior of her parents.
I have tried to drink coffee. Honestly. I have. Friends and family members have doctored it up in all sorts of ways in an attempt to make it more palatable to me, but all have failed. I remember being shocked to discover someone invented coffee flavored candy. Even the memory of that unpleasant experience makes me want to throw up so I am cautious about trying new candies if they are coffee colored. It took me a long time to figure out that "mocha" meant "coffee-chocolate flavored", but I still cling to that morsel of information as the life raft which protects me from a sea of sweet, frothy, shiny, deceptively yummy looking confections which turn out to be - not sweet - but bitter. In my nearly 50 complete revolutions around our sun, I have managed to choke down TWO half-cups of coffee. I am not kidding. I did however learn that Costa Rican chocolate covered coffee beans are tasty; and they give a pretty good buzz, too.
I have been an enabler. I admit it. I have catered to others' addiction to coffee. For Christmas last year my husband requested two items from anyone who asked: coffee and honey. I think he ended up with 8-10 three pound cans of coffee. It is tough to find storage for so much coffee, something you would not know unless you have had to try it in your own kitchen. The year I traveled to Costa Rica I brought home jewelry made from tiny bits of colorful native woods for the girls, hacky sacks for the boys (what? I know! but it was all I could find that I thought the boys would like), spicy lisanno sauce for me, and coffee for the adults. Lots of coffee. And each and every trip to the grocery is accompanied by a request for another coffee accoutrement: filters, additives, or coffee itself. I feel terrible that I have actually assisted in feeding my loved ones' addictions!
One of the nastiest effects of coffee drinking is the dog breath it gives. Let me apologize to the pooches; coffee breath is much, MUCH worse than dog breath. What on earth makes coffee drinkers think they can start their day without breakfast and without tooth-brushing and yet insist on that cup of joe? I am convince within myself that if they would choose an occasional glass of water rather than another cup of coffee, just the act of hydrating themselves would positively affect the coffee breath issue. One time, (true story, I swear!) I was donating blood at church and the nurse had trouble getting blood out of my friend; turns out she was so dehydrated they couldn't draw the blood through the IV. Can you believe that? She never drank anything but coffee. It is amazing that she is alive today because I cannot imagine the strain her heart endured with every pump trying to force mud through her veins. And have you noticed the coffee breath at church seems more repugnant than elsewhere? It sure makes me wonder about the wisdom of setting up those trendy "cafe's" in church lobbies. I believe those are intended to attract new folks and show them how cool and friendly we are by offering a doughnut with flavored coffee and lattes, but in reality I am afraid they are chasing people off with their stinky breath!
Okay, so I think you get the idea that I don't like coffee. To me it is a waste of time and money, it is addicting, and it makes people smell bad. But the reason I have set all this up is to explain my pet peeve which is the altar established in every household to honor the coffee gods.
In our home the coffee pot and all it's accompanying gadgets occupy the middle of the most precious real estate in the entire house; I resent this fact. In every house we have ever lived in I have tried to tuck the coffee pot into a neat little corner out of the way. But it never stays put there. For some reason, the coffee drinker in the family believes the kitchen is there for the express purpose of making coffee. The coffee pot must be located near water, so it is in the middle of the hardest working area of the counter top. I have purchased all sorts of containers to corral the sweeteners, flavors, filters, mugs, extra carafes, etc into a cabinet handily accessible above the coffee pot, but that just won't do. Except for the dairy creamer, which of course must be kept refrigerated, every single item must be kept out on the counter. I have purchased pretty trays to contain all the containers, to no avail, for each item must be placed in a row - like toy soldiers at attention- against the backsplash on either side of the coffee pot so each item can be identified and inspected from across the room. To add insult to injury the central fixture of this shrine, the coffee pot itself, leaks. I did purchase a cute little metal tray to catch the offending puddle that seems to ooze out from it each time a cup of mud is poured, but someone seems to think one side or another of this tray should be propped up at all times by a soiled paper towel. Rather than fixing, this only seems to aggravate the leakage problem, yet it must be done! Thus the only area of the kitchen which is suitable for food preparation is stained by the rust and coffee drips, is sticky, and is covered with used paper towels (aka "spoon rests"). It is, in a word, disgusting. All this to make a pot of coffee every day, one or two cups of which will be imbibed. Yet somehow all ten mugs will end up in the sink by day's end.
I have been getting lots of complaints that I don't cook like I used to. Hmm. Quite possibly, the loudest complainant might get supper cooked for him tonight if he would tear down that shrine to his addiction and make some room for me to work some magic.
The one bright side to this saga is, thankfully, no one in this house has a capachino or espresso machine.
I spotted an ugly valet at the thrift store yesterday. Since I was riding my bicycle and they wouldn't hold it for me, I hoped it would still be available this morning when I had my car. Lucky for me it was still there.
It really was hideous. The wood tray and legs were in remarkably good condition. Unfortunately, all the shiny brass was discolored and worn and the seat had been badly upholstered with an ugly orange fabric.
I hoped with a little TLC it would provide a spot for my DH to stow all those items that are removed the moment he gets home from work. Hopefully, he will no longer wander from room to room seeking those items. And, I hope, it will prevent me from trailing along behind him picking up those little piles which usually end up in the laundry anyway.
After disassembling and cleaning the individual parts, I determined the wooden parts were in good shape and would require no additional attention. I discovered the bad upholstery job had protected the original faux leather underneath - bonus! So the only things that needed sprucing up were the metal parts.
I bought a can of flat black spray paint and went to work. In a couple of hours I was able to reassemble it.
I think the black metal sets off the wood legs and tray; the colors (if not the style) work well with the mission style furniture I love.
I hope DH likes it enough to use it.
Lying in bed and thinking about getting up to do yard work before the sun gets hot like yesterday, our thoughts were interrupted by a loud and long roll of thunder. We sprang out of bed to get as much work accomplished as is possible before the rain began in earnest. While DH mowed, I cleaned up my mess from yesterday's gardening and weeded the vegetables and herb beds.
As we finished up and large drops began to fall, a neighbor stepped out onto her deck and waved. I smiled and waved back. She cupped her hands around her mouth and shouted, "You should have waited!"
I smiled and responded, "Oh, until it rains?"
"You should have waited to mow!" she yelled.
"Right! Until after the rain!" I smiled at her joke.
"You should have waited until an appropriate time! My bedroom window is right there!" She was pointing at a row of windows.
Oops. My smile died. She wasn't joking. "Oh, I am so sorry!"
Of all the neighbors, even though her house is closest, she was the one I was least worried about waking. Since her "fur-covered razor blades" (to borrow a description about dobermans from "True Lies") are let out each morning around 5:30 and bark at everything, I assumed she would be up and about.
As she turned back into her house I was thinking I will apologize again later today and maybe take over a small gift. At least it took us nearly a year this time to offend a neighbor. That's progress - of a sort.
May 1, 2012
Chesterton, IN 46304
Dear Sir or Madam:
Today around noon I stopped
at your gas station. At pump number one I inserted my credit card a couple of
times but an error message said to pay inside. I spoke with the cashier, whom I
heard describe herself to another customer as the manager, and explained that I
needed to fill up my tank. She asked for my credit card, scanned it, tucked it
away above her head, and told me to return to sign after I filled up. In utter
shock that she put my card away rather than returning it to me, I asked if she
was keeping my card. She said I could have it back after I returned to sign for
the purchase. I admitted to her I was a little freaked out about leaving my
card there. She seemed offended and said I had to leave something to guarantee payment. Since my card had already been
scanned, I offered my driver's license instead. I pumped the gas and returned
to sign the purchase receipt and to retrieve my license as soon as possible.
I completely understand the
need to prevent a drive-off. However, since the card was already scanned I do
not understand the need to keep my card or my license to guarantee payment;
after all, I have completed thousands of purchases at the pumps with never a
signature required. I think my card was scanned twice, and that bothers me.
Having a certain amount of
common sense, I have never allowed relatives or even close friends to use my
credit card, never mind leaving one with a complete stranger. Needless to say,
I will not be stopping at your station again.
I am sorry your manager was
so offended by my incredulity, but I was even more offended by her actions.
When I described this
experience to a friend, he said it has become common practice for gas stations
to send the customer inside as it increases spontaneous sales. I hope he is
wrong about that; some days are very busy and it is a huge convenience to be
able to pump the gas and continue my other errands without having to lock up
the car (and the children, and the dog, and the groceries) to go inside to pay.
I hope you can find another
way to deal with other customers with similar situations or, regretfully, you
will be losing more business than just mine.
Well, I figured those fish were all looking at something....
I accepted a challenge offered up by a member our our quilt guild. Using a fat quarter supplied by the guild (everyone uses the same challenge fabric), make a child's quilt based on the theme "Children's Games". The quilts will be judged and ribbons offered in June to the top three. Then all the quilts will be donated to the foster care program in our county.
These are the fabrics I used; the black print is the one issued in the challenge. I found the fishing pole fabric at a resale shop. I have found some amazing buys there. I suppose people are donating their stashes. Lucky for me, I have found some top quality fabrics for around $1 per yard. I spotted the other fabrics on a clearance table at Wal-mart. I chose them because of the bright colors and the way they remind me of something to do with fishing. Little red stars look like fish food. The green looks like bubbles. The red looks like plants swirling in the current. And doesn't the blue look like tangled fishing line?
Aren't the fish cute? I thought a log cabin block done with fussy-cut fishies for
the chimney would make an interesting pattern to hold the attention of a youngster.
Solid water-colored sashing separates the blocks.
Here is the finished quilt top. The challenge fabric is used in the inner border. I bordered it and backed it with the fishing pole fabric. I like the way the fishing poles keep my eyes moving around the fish blocks.
Now to quilt it and bind it. Once I had a plan, it went together quickly. I like square quilts, this one will make a nice child's quilt or a lap quilt.
Oh, and the game inspired by this quilt? Go fish!
Here is a picture of the finished band-aid I created to hide the damage I did to the drywall in my bathroom/laundry room. I will sew the sleeve on tomorrow. For now I just pinned it to the wall so I could see what it looks like in its new home.
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