Thursday, January 31, 2013

Thread Ball

This thread ball represents the last week of hand stitching.  I saved all my thread ends and rolled them up as I went along.  Lots of hours represented there.  And late this afternoon, I put...THE...LAST...STITCH... in my latest Secret Project quilt top.  This one's been months in the making.  And I LOVE IT!  Wish I could show you more than the thread ball....

So what else is new?  We've had a nice quiet week with Mom here.  I'm driving her back to Augusta tomorrow.  Hubby's staying here with the doggies.  I'll be back Saturday.  Monday morning I'll start a new quilt!  And get back to baskets!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Fabulous Freebie Book!

Free is good, right?  The Fons and Porter crew contacted me asking me to review this ebook, Build Your Best Log Cabin.  Oh, it's a goody!  Beautiful patterns!  Lots of designers!  I downloaded my copy and I love it!  One of the projects was designed by Ricky Tims.

So is your interest piqued yet?  Think you might enjoy having this quilty book on your computer/iPad/Kindle?

It's all yours!  FREE!  Just go here to download!

But wait!  There's more!  When you download the book, you also get:

  • A free e-newsletter highlighting the latest quilting news, including trends and styles.
  • Insider details on upcoming features in Love of Quilting, Easy QuiltsQuilting Celebrations, and more!
  • Special Deal of the Week offers - exclusive to e-newsletter subscribers.

  • I don't know about you, but I LOVE ebooks!  It's always there when you want it.  It doesn't get hidden under piles of magazines or fabric.  So go for it and enjoy!

    Today's update:

    I finished all the bits and pieces for my latest Secret Project.  Tonight they are pinned in place and ready to stitch down - my needle is already threaded and ready to go!

    Lots of rain, wind, and storms are headed our way tomorrow.  Mom and I will hunker down (and I will do my hand sewing!)

    Quilting Compound!

    Yes, my mother is staying with us this week!  Yes, I'm making her sit it my recliner while she's here!  Yes, I'm perfectly comfy on a sofa!

    I scooted this ottoman over and I'm making it Command Central for my sewing.  Nope, I won't be in my studio this week (no baskets - :( - but, that's okay).  I'm getting lots done by hand though!  I have all the bits and pieces here to finish up a Secret Project.  Maybe today I'll finish putting the pieces together and start stitching them onto the quilt.  Hope so!

    Yesterday we had a small outing to Target and then ran by Chicken Salad Chick to pick up a pound of Fancy Nancy (chicken salad with grapes and pecans).  We had a nice (short) walk.  Mom can't walk as far anymore, but it's good for her to get up and moving.  And we walked around the yard a few times counting the tulips that are popping up around here.

    Today I'm taking her to the mall - she's all about Dillard's!  We're expecting it to be 79 degrees today (yes, in January!) so I know we'll take another little walky today.  Tomorrow the weather will be ghastly - rain, storms, wind, - basically yucky!  So we'll hunker down inside!

    Sunday, January 27, 2013

    First Finishes of 2013

    I put my shoulder to the grindstone and finished up this quilt.  The entire quilt top is made from my father's shirts.  I finished it in the knick of time since Mom arrived today for a week or so.  We met my brother in Atlanta this afternoon for the mom hand-off.  :)  She loves her quilt and commented on all the shirt fabric.

    "That shirt had to be ironed, so I never liked it."

    "Dudley always loved that shirt."

    "Oh, I always loved that one."

    I'm glad she's happy with it and I'm glad I was able to preserve his memory through these quilts.  Remember I made the Gee's Bend version for my brother.  Now this plank quilt for my mom.


    I put the last stitches in a third shirt quilt (for me!) early this morning!!!  So actually I have two finishes this weekend.  I wish I could show my quilt here, but it is now a Secret Project since it will be in a future book or magazine article.  But I do LOVE it!  Shirts make the SOFTEST quilts!  I think my dad would be pleased about the three quilts.

    On to other quilts now!


    Friday, January 25, 2013

    Getting Back to Business

    Look at this beauty!  One of my friends brought this Tuesday when I hosted my quilty friends.  This is Easy Street - the latest mystery quilt from Bonnie Hunter's blog.  Look for the tab at the top of her blog for the instructions.

    I love this pattern - must put it on my to do list.

    I don't know what's going on with me this week, but I've done everything but sew!  Every single day there seemed to be some sort of distraction.  Yesterday hubby had a meeting in Birmingham.  At the very last minute (5:00 am!) I decided to tag along.  I drop him off downtown and headed to Joann's to stock up on some miscellany.  No fabric purchased, but I did get some bamboo knitting needles for future sock knitting, some sock yarn, a stock of rick rack for my next Secret Project, and some hand sewing needles.

    Then I headed down to Cracker Barrel to sip hot tea while my in-laws ate a late breakfast.  I enjoyed visiting with them for a bit.  Then I went back downtown to pick up hubby and we hit the road back to Auburn.

    This was my first trip back to B'ham since we moved last June.  I have good memories from there, but I do not miss the TRAFFIC!  I do miss my friends and neighbors though.  But I'll be going back to visit next month - I scheduled a mammogram.  Eventually I'll get this done here, but this is a follow up appointment so I figure I should continue to follow up there for now.

    And now excuse me while I head to the studio.  My mother is coming Sunday and I need to finish her quilt!!!!!!!!!

    Wednesday, January 23, 2013

    Sock Knitting

    I'm doing it!  I'm knitting socks!  I'm working on my second one.  The hardest part for me so far is getting one started - I worked for a couple of days to get this second one going - kept having to start over again and again and again and again.

    Here is the back side of the first sock.  See that row of lavender yarn?  That's where the heel will be added.  The class I'm taking teaches many different heel (and toe) techniques.  I'll be making an "afterthought" heel - you add this row of stitches with a contrasting yarn where the heel will go.  Then once you finish the sock, you go back and add the heel.  I've decided to get both socks to this point and then add both heels at the same time.

    So what else is new?  Our friends came Monday and we had a nice basket block making session.  Yesterday I hosted my small quilting group here.  Today I'll get back to my regularly scheduled quilting!

    Sunday, January 20, 2013

    A Pinterest Hit!!!

    I try a lot of recipes I find on Pinterest.  Most are okay, but I usually don't want to make them a second time.  Occasionally I cook one that is delicious and "make again" worthy.  Tonight's dinner was definitely of "make again" quality.  Oh, it was so yummy.  A lower fat version of Chicken Parmesan - no frying involved!  So easy and so good.  Find the Chicken Parmesan recipe here!

    Here was last night's sunset - gorgeous!  We have the prettiest sunsets here in Auburn.

    I worked on two different quilts this afternoon - both are Secret Projects so I can't show anything...yet.

    Tomorrow some of our Birmingham friends are coming for a visit.  We're planning lunch out and a quilt block lesson, too.  My friend want to learn to make a basket block.  She going to become addicted to them, too, I know!

    Friday, January 18, 2013

    Keeping it Straight

    Progress is being made on Mom's quilt, though I've slowed down a bit.  I'd love to be ready to bind it by Tuesday.

    I've had a couple of friends ask me about how I keep the strips straight as I add them.  These shirts are so thin and the fabric tends to shift as it is sewn, so this is a challenge.  Here's what I do:

    As I'm pinning a new plank (strip) in place to sew, I measure from the edge of the new plank to the edge of the quilt batting.  I do this all along the entire plank, placing pins as I go, making sure the measurement is consistent.  The quilt is certainly not going to be perfect, but I think it will make Mom happy!  And that's what's important.

    Here's today's basket - one more for the pile.

    Today was also a day for some appliqué on a Secret Project - nice and slow sewing.  I love it!

    Hubby and I just got back from dinner at Outback - settling in for more appliqué and a movie on Netflix.

    Thursday, January 17, 2013

    Off the Wall!

    The baskets came of the wall today.  I found a nice little plastic bin in which to store them as I keep adding to the stack.  Now maybe I'll start hand stitching those handles occasionally.

    Today's basket.

    And the last group shot you'll see for the foreseeable future!

    I also worked on Mom's quilt today - I'll share it tomorrow.

    Busy day today:  Newcomer's luncheon, dinner with some of the quilt guild at a local deli, and then the first quilt guild meeting of the year!  I signed up for this year's mystery quilt (you know I need one more project!) so that should be fun.

    We also had snow flurries!  Big deal this far south!  More tomorrow......

    Oh!  Check out today's post at The Hexie Blog!

    Wednesday, January 16, 2013

    I Am Not a Photographer

    I take pictures, but I'm not a photographer.  Today I wish I were.....

    I spent some time trying to photograph this hexie flower unit, but it didn't go so well.  See all those dark shadows?  Maybe I need to wait for a sunny day - we haven't had one of those lately.  Or maybe I need to get hubby or Daughter 1 to help.

    I made another basket block today, but I'm not showing it.  Accidentally deleted the photo. :)  And maybe you are getting tired of seeing all these baskets?  Are you?

    I've decided not to sew them into rows yet, but I am going to take them off the design wall.  They are taking up so much valuable space!  AND I've decided not to finish this project anytime soon.  I'll be making LOTS more baskets.  I really love the way the quilt is shaping up and I want it to be bigger than a lap quilt.  It needs to go on a bed!  And after all, it only take minutes to make my daily basket, so why stop now?

    So I'll stack up the baskets and keep adding to the stack until I have ENOUGH, whenever that will be! Meanwhile, I may start another daily block that will lead to a quilt a bit faster - as soon as I finish my mom's quilt.  (Yes, I also worked on that today.)

    Tomorrow will be a big day - I'm expecting a Secret Project quilt in the mail from my long arm quilter, Elayne Vognild.  She had to get creative with it and I CAN'T WAIT to see what she did with it!!!!

    Tuesday, January 15, 2013

    Basket Mania

    I'm starting with the group shot. I really love these blocks, BUT I'm ready to get them off my design wall. I think I may work on the arrangement a bit and then start sewing them in diagonal rows.  I may stop at 6 more baskets, but we shall see.

    Here's the sunny block I made today.

    And two more planks added to mom's quilt.  She's coming to visit in a couple of weeks, so I really want to have this done by then.

    Much progress was made on a Secret Project - lots of sewing going on around here!

    Thanks for the suggestions for Netflix.  To Anonymous - yes, we like Revenge - we've been watching since it started, though it's beginning to get a bit confusing lately.

    We're definitely going to try the other recommendations soon!  I'll keep you posted.

    Monday, January 14, 2013

    Before and After

    Doggies before long walk Saturday morning.

    Doggies after long walk Saturday morning.  Yup, we wore them out!  (I was worn out, too!)

    After a bit of a weekend sewing break, here is today's basket....not that many left to make....

    I also added a couple of planks to my mom's quilt this morning.  Do you see something strange here?  Think about it for a minute......

    Dum de dum dum (that's me humming while you think about it).

    I'm using the LEFT side of the presser foot as my guide, not the RIGHT.  See what I mean?  Who sews backwards?  I do, especially when it means the bulk of the quilt is to my left instead of balled up under the sewing machine!  Have you ever sewn backwards like this?  Or am I the only crazy around here?

    I have 12 more planks to add and this quilt be be history!  (Except for binding, of course.)

    I finished appliquéing hexies to a Secret Project I've been working on for a couple of months.  Whew!  360 individual hexies appliquéd by hand.  I really enjoyed the slow process though.  Gotta have some TV sewing at all times and it was perfect for that.  More to do on this project, but it will go very fast from here on out.  I'm loving it and can't wait to share!

    Speaking of TV - I asked for Netflix for Christmas and we got it a couple of months before that.  Prison Break had been recommended to us by a friend and over the course of maybe 6-8 weeks hubby and I watched the entire series.  Lots of Prison Break watching was done over the holidays when he was on vacation and we were both so sick.

    We absolutely loved the show!  And we miss it!  (Can you have withdrawal symptoms from that?)

    So anyway, we need a new show on Netflix to try.  I'm watching Downton Abby bit by bit, but that's not hubby's cup of tea.  Any suggestions for a show we'd enjoy watching together?  I'd love to hear what you watch on Netflix!

    Friday, January 11, 2013

    Oh, My Stars and Doggies!

    I finished this quick top today!  It turned out bigger than I expected, but I do think it's fun and whimsical.  I've got a stack of quilts that need quilting - need to focus on that soon!

    My mother's quilt is progressing.  I'm 24 inches from the top now.  At this rate I'll be done with it in about a week or a bit longer.

    Basket of the day.

    And sock progress!  I'm about to the point I was before I messed it up and had to start over last time.  I hope to get to the next step in the class this weekend.

    And of course, I'm still working on hexies!  LOTS of hexies!  I hope to have another hexie quilt top (Secret Project!) finished in the next week or so.

    It's actually HOT here today - 75 degrees.  I just got back from my walk and the sun was beating down on me.  Time to jump in the shower before we head to the Auburn Gymnastics meet tonight!  Until tomorrow....

    Thursday, January 10, 2013

    Hexie Book Editing Complete!

    Triple YAY!  FedEx is zooming the manuscript back to the publisher as we speak!  I love how quickly this process is going!  And Peggy and I can't wait to see the finished product!

    Because of spending the entire morning on the book, I didn't make it to my studio until mid-afternoon.  So my photos are a little dark since the sun started setting during the process.

    Today's basket!

    And the group shot.  I need to pull those solid squares at the bottom off the wall - they're not working
    for me.  And those striped setting triangles are making me think of a circus tent - may have to change them out, too.

    Remember those batik stars I showed you yesterday?  Here's the fun fabric I found in my stash to go with them.  It's a Michael Miller print and I've had it for years - several yards of it.  But I never knew what to do with it.  Those cute doggies march down the length of the fabric....yards of marching doggies! And polka dots, too!  Shut up!

    Oh, the sun was really beginning to set here.  But maybe you can get an idea of what I'm doing.  I used a black and white stripe for the vertical sashing and let the doggies prance between the rows.

    I'll take a better picture tomorrow in better light.  Who knows, I may be finished with the top by then!  I think this will make a cute donation quilt.

    Wednesday, January 9, 2013

    What? Another Quilt Start?!

    How many projects do you work on at one time?  I'm up to 1,2,3,4 - yes, FOUR quilts going at once!  And I'm working on all of them every single day.  I should have a lot of finishes soon....I hope!

    Today's basket!

    And my Mother's quilt is progressing - I added two rows of planks today.

    And my newest project uses these batik star blocks.  I won them in a block-of-the-month drawing around 2-3 years ago in Birmingham.  I think they've been sitting in a drawer long enough, don't you?  I went through my stash to decide how to sash them and I think I've come up with a fun solution.  I just started this project today and I'm already halfway through with the top.  I'll share a photo tomorrow, I promise.

    I also spent time appliquéing hexies.  Yup, worked on four projects today!

    Tuesday, January 8, 2013

    Another Quilt From Shirts

    Another basket today - yay!  No group shot today - doesn't look that much different than yesterday's post.

    It is time to start the third quilt from my Dad's shirts.  It's been just over 4 months since he died.  You may remember that I made the Gee's Bend inspired quilt and gave it to my brother for Christmas.  I made a different quilt with the shirts using hexies which quickly became a Secret Project, to appear in my next book.  Now I want to make a quilt for my Mother and I want to do it quickly.

    I've been thinking about what to do.  I really like Wanda's take on the random plank quilts we see everywhere.  Some call them Jelly Roll Race quilts, or 1600 quilts.  You sew an entire jelly roll of fabric (2.5" x 44" precut strips of fabric) end to end.  Then you put the ends together and sew down the length, cutting the fold when you get to it.  Then you put the ends together again and repeat.  You do this about 8 times and you have a quilt top in about an hour.

    I like the way Wanda inserted those little polka dot squares here and there and everywhere!

    I thought it would be nice to insert little nine patches amidst the planks.  So to keep my measurements easy, I decided that each nine patch would finish at 3".  That meant I need to cut my planks at 3.5" (rather than the 2 1/2" measurement of jelly roll strips).

    Then I got to thinking, why not make this a quilt-as-you-go project?  So when I'm done, I'm done!

    So I cut 1.5" strips for the nine patch units, strip piecing away!

    Cute little nine patches!  The shirt fabrics in the nine patches will vary throughout the quilt.

    And here a shot of what I have so far.  There is a backing that you cannot see, the batting, and I'm working my way from the top to sew strips down through all layers.  I put together a strip set first, then stitch it into the quilt.  Every row will not have a nine patch - I'll just scatter them around as I see fit.

    If I do a few strips sets per day, this should be finished rather quickly.

    Tonight I made a quick beef stew recipe that was in the local paper last week.  The veggies are onions, carrots, and sweet potatoes.  It was delish!  Now I'm settled in front of the TV to appliqué hexies.

    Thanks to those (including Daughter 1) who taught me how to fix my autocorrect so I can type "hexies" without any problems!

    Monday, January 7, 2013

    Hexies and Baskets and Binding, Oh My!

    Are you a list maker?  I'm trying to be better this year about making a list each evening for the next day.  This way I don't lie in bed thinking, "Oh, I need to remember to do such and such tomorrow."  It's already written down.

    I got every single thing on today's list done!  Yes, I finally got back on the basket band wagon.  I feel I need more dark blocks, so today's fit the bill.

    And the group shot:  38 blocks done (if I counted correctly).  I'd hoped to be working on a different block-a-day project by now, but pneumonia had other plans.  I'll just keep making baskets for awhile longer!

    I made binding for two quilts.

    I made a sleeve for a quilt and sewed it on.

    I sewed the binding to two quilts - ready for hand stitching!

    Oh, and I appliquéd a bunch of hexies to a quilt.  AND I finished editing the book!  Peggy just got her copy today.  As soon as she's finished going through it, we'll get on the phone with each other and compare notes.

    I also found time to do two loads of laundry (clean sheets on the bed!), take a walk (1.17 miles), and cook fresh salmon and spinach for dinner.  Now it's time to relax in front of the TV with hubby (and either knit or appliqué hexies.)

    My only gripe of the day:  WORD autocorrects the word "hexies" to make it "hexes."  I'm tired of correcting it!!!!

    Sunday, January 6, 2013

    Toe Up Sock Progress

    After approximately 1 billion tries, I finally got my sock restarted!  I've ripped it out so many times that the yarn is getting rather frazzled.  This is called a twist toe.  The directions on Craftsy said this is a challenging toe, but I tried other toes and found them harder for me.  Go figure.  I think I'll stick with the twist toe!

    The book editing is going very well.  I've been through the proofs once and I'm halfway done with my second time through.  I'll finish up Monday morning and then talk with Peggy to compare notes.

    We've had a busy weekend:
    -Oysters and Shrimp at Jefferson's Friday night (big yum!)
    -Lunch out with the daughters and their significant others Saturday
    -Lots of book editing
    -Reloading my computer with software
    -Birthday cake with Daughter 2 today (Happy Birthday, Elizabeth!)
    -A couple of brisk walks
    -Three holly bushes planted
    -Closet organization progress
    -Toe knitting success

    What, no sewing?????  Don't worry - that's going to happen tomorrow!  Maybe I'll even get back to my baskets......

    Saturday, January 5, 2013

    A Techy New Year

    I seem to have lots of technology at my fingertips yet I don't always make the best use of it. Our new house itself is very "Techy." Hubby has made it his goal this year to learn how to work all the "smart" features we have. Hence yesterday at sunset (before hubby got home), our outside lights automatically came on. Hubby is getting his tech on!

    Now it's my turn. I'm trying to make better use of my IPad (and computer). I've started using ICal for my calendar. I'm using a Nike sensor (which links to my cell phone) to track my daily walks. I'm using an App on my cell phone (My Fitness Pal) to track my food intake to get off some unwanted pounds.

    I got my computer back from the shop on Thursday. My hard drive was bad and they replaced it. I lost EVERYTHING. But I'm handling it better than I would have thought. I'm looking at it as an opportunity to start the year off streamlined. And I'll be installing a backup system! My computer was under warranty, so at least there was no charge for fixing it! That would have been salt in the wound!

    Also on Thursday I received a VERY special delivery - the proofs for Quick and Easy Hexie Quilts! So instead so sewing, this weekend I'm editing! Yay! So exciting!

    The pictures are of the pups in hubby's lap this morning. Mickey is using the belt of hubby's robe as a sleep mask. Don't bother me - I'm sleepy!