Monday, June 30, 2008

Grandma Vivian's Tatting for my Siggies

Grandma Vivian sent me these lovely tatted pieces for her special siggies for my quilt. They are all so lovely, I don't know which one I like best. I think I'm going to create at least 6 siggies from this bounty! I also love the two polka dot fabrics she sent along with the lace. You can't see it very well, but there is white dots on red and dark pink dots on light pink fabric. I'm going to use both fabrics for the various siggies.
I particularly like these two little angels. I can't decided if I want to separate them onto two different siggies or keep them together. I may embroider them some larger halos too.

Grandma thought the big red heart might be too large for a siggy, but I am determined to make it work. Her tatting is too special to waste. She even sent additional matching thread for me to use. Grandma's a true crafter! She knows how important all the little details can be!

I haven't decided yet how to use these cute little pink circles. They are so light and airy. Grandma has been having trouble with stiffness in her hands (she's 95 after all!) so I plan to make up the siggies myself. The next time we go to Shreveport, I'll bring along a Pigma Pen and she can sign them herself. I can't wait to see how pretty they're going to be.

Friday, June 27, 2008

I Dream of Precision Piecing 2 - New Tools

Much of what Sally Collins had to say in her dvd made lots of practical sense. I've always had trouble with the fabric slipping apart on the last inch of sewing. She demonstrated using a stiletto on those last little bits, so I bought one. She recommended using an Omnigrid ruler, with sandpaper dots to hold it steady on slippery fabric, so I bought some of those too. She also recommended using the Machine Seam Gauge & Adhesive Guide. I was a little more doubtful about this gadget. As I recall, she showed how to use it, but then said she depended on her 1/4 inch foot (which I have already) and we never saw the MSG&AG again. I bought it, but I may just use it to verify that my quarter inch foot is actually accurate. I had only gone to JoAnn's today to get the red, white & blue fabric for my Thunderbirds quilt, but then I got sucked into the notions aisle and my priorities shifted. It's probably a good thing I couldn't remember the exact type of extra-fine pins she recommended, or I would have bought those too, despite being positively awash in pins already. I'm a real sucker for notions that are going to improve my entire life! lol

I Guess She Was Surprised After All!

My good friend, Virginia, has definitely been my most faithful and encouraging blog reader. I was sure she would recognize herself described as the person I mentioned "with a birthday recently" who was "not my sister, Cindi" and who "likes southwestern themes even better than I do". She says it never even occurred to her that it was she, and that she really likes the fabric I got for her!
Her sweet old dog, Pepe, was much less impressed. ( I think he was just too hot to appreciate much of anything. It's hard being a big black fluffy dog in the Texas summer.) Virginia said she just loved the quilts at Southwestern Decoratives (Albuquerque Shop Hop #3) and I told her that I was sure they would have a website. I was right, and it's a very nice website too. I would have to check the pictures I took to be sure, but I think most of the shop's wall hangings are from either their block of the month collection:, or their applique collection: At least, they look very similar to me. I wonder if Virginia will get inspired to try one. Now that would be something to blog about!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

I Dream of Precision Piecing

I mentioned a while back that I bought "Sally Collins' Teaches You Precision Piecing" dvd in Albuquerque. I saw it for sale and thought to myself, "I want to do precision piecing! Yes, Yes, Yes! This will show me just what I'm doing wrong!" I might as well have added, "This is the magic I am waiting for!" When will I ever learn? Don't get me wrong, this is a wonderful dvd, filled with lots of good tips that are sure to help me improve my piecing, but the basic premise of the dvd is as follows:

"Slow down; verify the precision of your work after each step; redo anything that is imprecise before continuing."

Oh man! Why is it that something that is so fun to do the first time, is so NOT FUN to do the second time, or, god forbid, for the third time? I mean, seam ripping is not all that hard, or even that time-consuming. What is it then? The consciousness of one's own failure? The fear of failing again? The irritation of losing time and forward progress? What? This is a hobby, something we presumably enjoy doing, so why is rework so punishing? Sally says it shouldn't be. She tries her best to be accurate, but is never hard on herself when her work doesn't measure up (literally); she just rips it out and does it again (and presumably hopes for a better outcome.) She says we should not be measuring ourselves by how much we can accomplish, but by the excellence of our work. She doesn't have any easy answers, but for the perfectionists among us, her attitude certainly deserves consideration. Her serenity about her work is certainly something I could strive for. (Plus she has a really cool way of pinning to match seams that should solve all my problems!)

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

International Siggy Swap - Puck Booij

I just love soft squishy mail! This beautiful siggy arrived today by post, totally out of the blue. Isn't it cute? It looks like it was completely drawn by hand, rather than stamped. Puck wrote to tell me that she has 994 siggies in her collection! (995 when mine arrives in Holland next week.) That's unbelievable; what a quilt that will make someday! Even more amazing, she wrote how she just got back from 4 weeks vacation. Four weeks! Can you imagine? Those Europeans really know how to go on holiday. I just took 10 days off and thought that was long. I'd be afraid they would hire someone else if I were gone 4 weeks. (Heck, a month away and I'd probably forget where I worked!)
I had never heard of Andelst before so I looked it up. If I am reading google maps correctly it appears to be about 80 kilometers due east of Rotterdam, and about the same distance southeast of Amsterdam - the three cities sort of make up a triangle on the map, with Amsterdam at the top.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

The Yarn Shop Hop

I used to be much more into knitting than I am now, but I still love a good yarn shop and I'm a sucker for beautiful fibers. Knitting seems to be more popular than quilting in Colorado; I suppose because they have such a long sweater season there! Several shops were recommended to me and they were all very nice.
We actually spotted the one in Minturn before I got the recommendation for it. It is a very small shop at the north end of Minturn and has knitting on the first floor and needlepoint on the second floor. It was positively stuffed with woolens and fibers of all types and there were several women knitting together on the first floor. I just love the red chain scarf above and the robins egg blue fluffy kid's robe below. Darling!

It was very cozy and the owner was almost too friendly and helpful. Sometimes I prefer to nose around quietly and can't concentrate if someone is talking to me. I guess I'm just not a multi-tasker! I ended up buying a book on how to use up single skeins of yarn based on the relative weight of the yarn.
It was kind of an impulse buy, but after examining it at home I found a number of projects that should work out really well for my large collection of orphan skeins. Here is a picture of Cathy, the Minturn Shop Owner, (the blonde) knitting at a Rockies baseball game! She and her friend made it into the center of the program just by knitting at the game. You never know where needlework will take you in life. lol

The yarn store in Glenwood Springs was by far the nicest of the four yarn stores I visited. It catered to both knitters and weavers and had woven goods such as placemats, etc for sale. It was a really beautiful store; two stories high and very airy. I didn't take any pictures, though, because the day we visited was weaving day, and all the looms (all over the store) were in use by local weavers who appeared to have some mental challenges and I did not want to do anything disruptive.
Their work was VERY impressive; I wouldn't be surprised if they made practically everything that was for sale in the store. Each weaver was working independently and very intently on his or her project, which were all different. I'm sure my boss would be thrilled if I ever showed that level of industry! I couldn't resist buying a single skein of beautiful, multicolored bulky yarn, which came with an easy hat pattern. I hope to get it knitted up by late fall when it might be useful for me to wear in Texas.
The third store, The Yarn Garden, was off the road to Aspen in Carbondale, which is about halfway between Glenwood Springs and Aspen. We found it in a small strip mall on the main drag. It was a pretty little shop with an amazing selection of natural fibers. As an added bonus, the owner was spinning her own wool at a small spinning wheel that she was pumping barefoot in the middle of the store. I found a skein of wool that should make a hat for my Mom that will match (I hope - since I'm matching from memory) her favorite orange winter coat.
The fourth store, The Yarn Gallery, was on the second floor of one of the stores on the Aspen pedestrian walkway. Another lovely store, but for not being a knitter anymore, I had already exceeded my quota of yarn so I didn't buy anything.
Just look at these incredibly gorgeous fibers! I wonder now that I had the strength to resist buying "Just one more skein!"
I didn't buy anything at the final store (What's Needling U) that we peeked into in Frisco a few days later. After all, I had been trying to decrease my yarn stash, and there I was thinking about buying still more. It was so soft and fluffy and beautiful! It was really really hard to resist. Fibers are perilously seductive!
Gosh but the Frisco store was cute though! It was the first day of work for the woman in the store. She said she had shopped there many times while on vacation, and when she came to stay recently for a longer visit, the owner asked if she would work two days a week. She admitted she was probably working for yarn. I hope she gets a good discount. It's an addiction for which there is currently no 12 step program!
Here are my purchases: from the left my hat yarn, the book, Mom's hat yarn. In retrospect, considering the enormous temptation I was experiencing, I think I really did quite well!

Saturday, June 21, 2008

One more Shop Hop Stop - Breckenridge

On Thursday Larry and I drove to Breckenridge just to look around and see how it compared to other ski towns. Wouldn't you know, right there on the main drag was a knitting and quilting store called Tea Time. All we had to do was walk up a flight of steps to get to a really lovely small shop, where the proprieter immediately asked us if we would like some tea.
The small space was really captivating, with lots of interesting nooks and crannies. They had a really nice selection for such a small store. I spoke with one of the women working there that day and she said that the store was owned and operated by five women, and they all worked in the store and did not have any paid employees.
As I was checking out, I noticed a magazine they had prominently displayed: "Quilt Sampler" by Better Homes and Gardens. The entire magazine was devoted to "The Ultimate Shop Hop - Ten Top Stores". Wouldn't you know, store #9 on their hit parade was this shop! I couldn't believe it; this was the second time in my life that I have stumbled into a top ten shop on vacation.
The first time was two years ago while vacationing in Canmore, Alberta when I absent-mindedly entered the absolutely fabulous Sugar Pine Quilt Shop, which was rated by a magazine as one of the top ten quilt shops in North America. It too is another second-story gem, with breath-taking mountain vistas in every direction. If you're ever in the Banff area, you MUST go to Sugar Pine! And if you're ever in Breckenridge, Tea Time is a delight. I bought the magazine as a souvenir and was very pleased with the contents. Each of the top ten shops (and they're from all over the country - supposedly culled from over 2500 shops nation-wide) has a project associated with it. Most of them are full-sized quilts and some of them are very clever. Here's the link to the Tea Time article: Here's the link to this issue of "Quilt Sampler" magazine: I found it by drilling down from, which is the main Better Homes and Gardens website.

Also, I have to brag on my DH. Larry took these photos with my pathetic phone camera, because our digital camera was recharging back at Avon. Didn't he do a nice job? Every time I use it, the phone pictures come out fuzzy and off-center; these are as good as the ones from the digital camera.

Annelies, This One's for You!

I saw this in front of a gallery in Aspen on Wednesday and immediately thought of Annelies Van den Bergh who manages the International Siggie Swap list. Annelies has a large collection of "See no Evil, Hear no Evil, Speak no Evil" monkeys and her adorable siggie is stamped with their image. This was a very engaging sculpture that was attracting lots of attention. It is a very large bronze sculpture, about life-sized. I think they were asking about $7000 US dollars for it.

Annelies has a wonderful website; the link to it "Quilts and Siggies" is listed at the left under "My Favorite Links".

Adorable Dogs

We've seen more cute dogs this trip! Vail Valley has to be the most pet friendly place I've ever seen, with the largest number of stores devoted to canines. We missed taking a picture on Canyon Road of an English Sheepdog wearing his summer 'do'. He was completely shaved and we didn't recognize him without the fluffy coat - they are actually quite slender dogs.
This little cutie was waiting patiently in the car in Leadville (10,200 feet - Top of the Rockies!) while his person was off getting stuff from the convenience store.
These two guys were eagerly awaiting the return of their people in Edwards, CO just west of Avon. Golden Retrievers are definitely the doggies of choice of the people in Colorado. Every third dog you see is a big, patient, furry golden, who is generally being as good as gold like these two.
These two pomeranians ruled the roost at an art gallery in Aspen. They were sporting absolutely adorable lion cuts and were really sweet, pettable pooches.
We saw these two adorable goldens all decked out in hiking gear. Their owner said they don't even mind the hiking boots. Just a few high steps, then they know it's time to get on the trail.

Vail has fountains in the middle of its pedestrian walkways that seem designed for dogs to cool their paws in. These two goldens (we saw golden duos everywhere) wanted to get back into the water and play some more!

Friday, June 20, 2008

The Albuquerque Quilt Shop Hop Purchases

The bed at the St. Regis was so big and pretty that I thought it would make an excellent backdrop for all my shop hop purchases. I lined them all up just right and started my photo-shoot lol (I better not quit my day job!)
I went a little crazy at Quilt Works in Albuquerque. What can I say? It was the first store in my shop hop and I didn't know how many other great fabrics I was going to see. I certainly don't regret any of the purchases. The top two are the southwestern birthday gift fabrics. The left two on the bottom were half price and will make excellent quilt backs. I just LOVE the flamingos and the eagles in flight are going to be the back of my Thunderbirds quilt. At least I have a plan! (And a patient, forgiving husband!) I also got the Perfect Piecing dvd here (I'm never satisfied with my piecing, I hope it helps), but I forgot to take a picture of that.
These four fabrics are from Quilting from the Heart (also in Albuquerque). I'm going to make a Fantasy Pony quilt out of them. The center panel has blocks of ponies, the green cactus fabric will surround that, I'll cut the stripes of ponies (bottom fabric) to surround that, then use the turquoise fabric at the left to surround the whole thing. I think it's going to look really cute and it should be very simple to put together, which is always a big plus for me.
I think I must have been getting a little bit saturated by the time I got to Southwestern Decoratives because I bought a very similar fabric to the one I got at Quilting from the Heart the day before. I'm not upset about it at all though, because all of the previous purchase is earmarked for the Fantasy Pony quilt, so this one I'll be able to keep for my (very small) stash. It's true, my entire fabric stash fits in about 4 large shoeboxes. Though if I kept on buying fabric like I have this past week I'd need a whole new wing on the house!
Just so you know, we have been shopping in stores that are of much more interest to Larry than to me. For instance, between shop 2 and shop 3 in Albuquerque, we went to World of Knives, which had a very small selection of really cool stuff.

Here is Larry holding what has to be the largest scissors I have ever seen. We were both very surpised at how light weight it was. It actually would have been very functional.
And here is a knife so scary looking that it could cut you just by looking at it! It immediately reminded both Larry and me of a Klingon knife once described in a Star Trek novel. As Spock would say, "Fascinating." Actually, we were both really surprised at the small selection of items in the store. Perhaps they hadn't gotten all of their inventory displayed, or something. I don't know, but it looks like Texas really rules when it comes to knives. We have House of Blades in Fort Worth which has AT LEAST 100 times the selection in a really gigantic store devoted to blades of all descriptions. Plus they have a really cool chair made out of antlers on display that always makes us want to break out into song - you know the one from Beauty and the Beast, "I use antlers in all of my DECorating..." We both just love that store! (I know, I'm not really a girly girl at all.)

Glenwood Springs - The Shop Hop Continues

On Tuesday we went to Glenwood Springs, a lovely little town about an hour west of Avon. The ladies of the list told me about a nice quilt shop in the downtown area called simply "Fabric and Quilt Shop". They had a really nice selection of fabric and a large airy space, with many lovely quilts on display.

The ladies were very helpful and friendly (I'm trying to think of a time when this wasn't the case in a quilt shop... nope, all quilt shop people have been helpful and friendly so far, quilting must just bring out the best in people!)

Here are some quilt tops they had on display.

I particularly like the garden style quilt hanging from the loft.

I bought quite a bit of fabric here. I just love these bright, kid-friendly fabrics. They'll make a lovely Project Linus or USO quilt.

And I finally found the sky fabric for my Thunderbirds quilt. Actually, Larry found it. He's developing a good eye knowing what I want after I've described it to him. I'm a lucky woman! I really liked the vibrant scarlet fabric too; I use that color all the time and never seem to have enough of it when I want it.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Back from Aspen

We spent Wednesday night in Aspen; what a beautiful place! We stayed at the St. Regis on points and got upgraded to a deluxe room; it's really nice to be treated like royalty every once in a while! We hit the yarn stores in Glenwood Springs (love that town too!) and Carbondale. Both were very nice; I bought a skein in each store. I'll have to blog about my yarn shop hop too, but the internet service has been so iffy (well, not at the St. Regis, everything is exceptional at the St. Regis) that I probably won't get to that until I'm back home with my trusty network.
We went the easy way from Avon to Aspen, via I70 to Glenwood Springs then CO state 82 down to Aspen. It was a very pleasant drive. We checked in, then walked around Aspen that evening. We probably visited 8-10 art galleries. Aspen has an awesome art scene. Lots of contemporary and abstract art, which is getting harder and harder to find.

We didn't buy anything, but we identified some artists we're going to be watching: Karl Hollinger and Marcus Rose. Aspen was VERY quiet, the shopkeepers and gallery people were glad to see people coming in. One of the gallery men told us we were saving him from losing more money on the goldfish races. He and another guy had marked two goldfish crackers and let them go in one of the little streams that runs down the main pedestrian walkway (it's only about a foot wide and a few inches deep). This was how they "raced" the goldfish! We were out there watching these crazy guys bet money on racing crackers, then when we walked into one of the galleries, one of the racers came in to show us around. Aspen is full of wonderfully crazy people!
We took the gondola ride up Aspen Mountain. I was feeling the altitude a little at 11,212 feet. It made me sort of dizzy, but the view was spectacular. Nice and cool up there too. The ride down was another story entirely; the gondola stopped on the ride down for about 20 minutes. We just hung there, about 80 feet in the air with lots of wind to keep us swaying. It was really scary. At one point the cable opposite us got lots of slack in it and went half way to the ground while we went up even higher. Lots of praying going on! It started and stopped 3 times, which just made it worse. We finally got down and they told us that all it was a flat tire in the carriage emptying area which had to be fixed. A flat tire! I kept having visions of having to be rescued by a really long ladder! Larry says no more gondolas this trip and I'm not going to argue with him!
We took the bus to the Maroon Bells Wilderness area just outside of Aspen. How beautiful! We traipsed down to Crater Lake and encountered two men hiking with two golden retrievers. Each dog carried its own hiking gear in little doggie hiking vests and both wore little doggie hiking boots (well, socks really). They looked as if they were having the time of their life. I asked the guys if the dogs took easily to the boots, and they said that they did. They high step for a few minutes, but since they only wear them for hikes, they get really excited about going hiking as soon as they put them on.

We would like to go back to Maroon Bells sometime when we have more time to hike around the area.
We went over Independence Pass on the way back to Avon. Wow, that's high! 12,095 feet! (They had porta potties at the summit. I got to tinkle at over 12,000 feet. A first for me.) There was so much snow that there were two guys wild skiing from one level of the pass to the next.
They get a crazy amount of snow there every year; something like 600 inches (that's 50 feet of snow!) and this year was much worse than usual. Heck, it snowed there last week! The view was spectacular in all directions.
We hiked out over a short snow path to get a better view. (I wasn't going to hike over the snow, but then I saw a woman doing it in flip flops and felt like a sissy, so I had to do it then.) It was 59 degrees at the summit and snow in every direction. The snow was melting rapidly in the bright sunshine, though, in places, there were waterfalls at the side of the road which threatened to erode the meager roadway. I bet they have to repair it every year.

You could see where they cut paths through what must have been avalances to clear the roadway. Funny people had inscribed graffiti in these walls of snow. I like it, self cleaning graffiti! Here today, gone tomorrow.

Another funny thing, in Colorado civic groups such as the Lions club volunteer to keep sections of the road trash free. At the top of Independence Pass, the group that volunteered to keep it clean was the Mountain Search and Recovery Team. Larry and I had a good laugh at that. Who else is going to keep it tidy at 12,000 feet?

We took tons of pictures; I'll probably go back and insert some later.

All the conveniences at 12,095 feet. And yes, I did get dizzy a bit at the pass, but just when I was in the john. I kept having the awful feeling that if I sat down the porta-potty was going to tip over backwards off of the cliff. Nasty vertigo! It was much better when I was out in the open.