Sunday, December 29, 2013

Blanketeers Raise over $200 for Alzheimer's Research!!!

Remember these six little beauties?  The Blanketeers donated these mini quilts to the Alzheimer's Art Quilt Initiative earlier this year, and five of them sold for over $200!  That's right, $207.43 was raised for Alzheimer's research, in the hopes of finding a cure for that horrible disease, which has devastated so many of our families.

The only remaining available quilt is Waltz of the Flowers (lower right) which can be purchased for $7.50 from AAQI.  Sadly the AAQI program is ending on 12/31/13, so act quickly if you want to make a donation to Alzheimer's research, and own this lovely hand-appliqued wall hanging.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Crocheted Baby Layette Completed

I started crocheting with Grandma Vivian this past year, and this baby jacket was the first thing I completed.  Grandma helped me get started and showed me a few tricks, since she has made this pattern dozens of times.

I used one of her vintage patterns from 1950.  The jacket was supposed to have long sleeves.  I was short on yarn and wanted to save some to accent the bonnet and booties, so I shortened the sleeves.  I actually like the shorter sleeves better than the long "angel" sleeves called for by the pattern. I think they look more modern. :)

The pattern only specified one size, but the "poke" bonnet and the booties seem like they're intended for a much larger baby than the jacket.  I loved the jacket pattern, but I think I'll select a different pattern for the rest.

I finished the bonnet and booties while we were in Green Bay for Thanksgiving.  My sister held a baby shower at her home for her niece, Nellie.  I've known Nellie forever, so I had my present all ready.  Nellie was thrilled by the gift.  She safely delivered a beautiful baby boy just last week, so it's all good!  

Friday, December 27, 2013

Christmas with Grandma 2013

We just got back from spending Christmas with Larry's Grandma in Shreveport.  Vivian is still doing very well at 102.  Santa brought her favorite "White Shoulders" cologne for Christmas.  Her mother, Dollie Henderson, made the Santa doll for Larry's Mom in the 1950s.  Santa is still in excellent shape too for being 60+ years old.
Larry & I had decorated the tree earlier, and Grandma enjoyed pointing out all the ornaments she had made over the years.  Here is some of her tatting; she still likes to tat.
I asked her for a tatted ornament of my own. (She wanted me to take one off the tree lol.)  Her tatting is still very fine, but it is getting more challenging for her to do.
She really enjoys doing bead work too, though she prefers hobbies she can do from her recliner these days.  :)
The three of us enjoyed a very nice quiet Christmas; her friends Edie & Tom dropped by for a visit after the smooching was over.  Tom is excited to be retiring tomorrow.  Edie was so excited she forgot her purse when they left.  I called her on her cell and her purse rang.  Whoops!  Fortunately she remembered right away and came back to get it.
Larry was complaining on the ride home that his glasses were covered in fingerprints.  Um, Larry, I think I know how that happened.  My two favorite Christmas clowns.  :O

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Scrap Busting - There's No Such Thing as Ugly Fabric...

Just fabric you haven't  cut small enough yet!

I found Bonnie Hunter's method of organizing scraps, 
then I started this project two weeks ago.  
I had a Huge basket of scraps.  
It took me about 20 hours to organize it into this:

She recommends cutting strips in 1.5", 2", 2.5", 3" and 3.5" widths.
I cut the largest width whenever possible,
unless it made a leftover just shy of 1.5",
in which case I cut a 3" and a 1.5" strip instead.
I did not cut up yardage, just scraps.  
Some largish scraps, but mostly not too big.  
What I had most of was leftover backing fabric - 
many very long strips.  I cut lots of 3.5" strips. 
I didn't have any set length for the strip, but
very few are selvage to selvage.
Bonnie also recommends making 1.5", 2", 2.5", 3" and 3.5" blocks when there isn't enough length for a strip.
I always cut the largest block possible;
for some reason, 1.5", 2" and 3" blocks were very common, and
2.5" and 3.5" were not.
And yes, I do have plans for making quilts from all this!
For me, there is nothing like doing a boring, repetitive task to get the creative juices really flowing;
plus, now I can easily see what I have.

My Heart goes out to Canmore - updated since I clearly didn't get it right the first time.

I am sad that the most beautiful place on earth has been beaten up so badly by what is now being called
"The Great Canmore Flood of 2013".
I am so sorry for the people who lost their homes and belongings.  
I never met an unfriendly person in Canmore, and I believe that the stereotype we have in the US of all Canadians being super nice is very close to the truth.  
(This is what I was trying to say the first time and it didn't come out right at all.)
It doesn't surprise me at all that they are pulling together to get through this soggy nightmare.
All the folks in Alberta are in my thoughts and prayers, especially Calgary.
Previously only regarded as that irritating impediment to get through to get to the mountains.  Sorry

If anyone has any information on the current state of the Smith-Dorrien Trail please let me know.
I keep hearing that Canmore was completely cut off from the rest of the world,
but they have the most beautiful back door in the world!  
Parts of the Smith-Dorrien above Canmore were barely there to begin with.  
Has it been washed out too?  Say it isn't so.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Wheelchair Bag for Grandma Vivian

Grandma Vivian just loves her new wheelchair bag.  
She made the needlework squares in plastic canvas a long time ago.
All 24 of them!
The back and front are identical, as are the sides.

I found the squares last fall when I organized her craft stuff.
I showed Larry how to sew them together,
then I whipped the top edge, and put in the lining.
Larry sewed on the handles,
which we put on the ends instead of at the middle.

The bag works really well on the wheelchair.
It even accordions at the seams when the chair is transported.
Grandma was VERY pleased.

Grandma was honored at her church on Sunday for being the oldest Mother present.
At age 101 she had them all beat by a mile. 
They presented the altar flowers to her as a gift.
It was a beautiful bouquet, almost 3 feet across.
It poked me in the arm as we shared the backseat of the car.
Grandma said she had a really wonderful Mother's Day.
And I hope you all did too!

Monday, April 22, 2013

Butterflies Complete for Little Girl's Row Quilt

I finished the applique butterfly row I am contributing to the row quilt my friends and I are making.  I selected the following stitches from the TAST challenge for the butterfly antennas.
TAST #14 - Whipped Stem Stitch
TAST # 15 - French Knots
TAST #43 Whipped Magic Chain
TAST #33 Pekinese Stitch
TAST #9 Couching
I embellished the bodies with  fancy stitches from my new machine; I used a different stitch for each butterfly.  It was fun to try to coordinate the stitch with the butterfly.  I particularly liked how the round design on the purple body mimics the circles on the fabric.
I had lots of fun with this project and I'm fairly pleased with how it turned out.  I was inspired by a video of Ira Glass on creativity on a post over at The Unbroken Thread.  Glass encourages beginners like me to just do the work of creativity, to set goals and even deadlines.  It's a new approach, but it worked for me in this case.  It's easy to get paralyzed by having too many choices to make on a project like this, so surprisingly, having a self-imposed deadline really helped.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Easter in Shreveport: Spring has Sprung!

We had a lovely party on Saturday night to celebrate Easter as a family.  I made a tri-color bundt cake.  I filled the hole with malted milk ball eggs.  It was easy to make and was turned out tasty and festive.  I used Grandma Vivian's Noritake china - isn't it pretty?

Spring is in full bloom in Shreveport, from the rhododendrons at the front porch...

to the wisteria on the bird feeder.

Wisteria grows wild in the trees in Shreveport - it's just beautiful!

These azaleas are my favorite.  They should be ready to pop in a few more days.

The rhododendrons and magnolia tree give the entry way almost a "Secret Garden" aura.  I love this time of year!

I was glad to see that the "house" plants managed to overwinter outside just fine this year.  I've been watering them with rainwater every few weeks and they are thriving.  In fact, as I filled the watering can with water from the bucket, a budded succulent leaf floated to the surface.  I planted it in the back of the top cascading pot along with another budding leaf I found on the ground.   I love plants that can fend for themselves!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Cake Pan Carrier with Table Runner - Two March Finishes!

My sister gave a number of these 
retro fabrics as a fun fat quarter Christmas present a few years ago, along with a pattern from The Sewing Basket for a cake pan carrier and table runner, which I took as a big hint.  
I had good intentions of finishing this for my niece's birthday in January - better late than never!
The table runner wraps lengthwise around the outside of the carrier that is holding the pan.
The carrier has handles and wraps the short way around the pan. 
I designed the patchwork for both the table runner and the carrier.  The table runner has stitch in the ditch quilting.  I love how it turned out.  I really enjoyed working with the retro fabrics.
Designing the angled stripes into the carrier fabric was challenging.  I really wanted the carrier to coordinate with the table runner, and the dull green fabric just wasn't getting the job done by itself.  I upgraded the handles to leather.  Larry cut out the leather for me.  (Twice!  The pattern called for 1 yard of cotton webbing and it should have specified nearly 2 yards.) I bought a leather needle for my machine and it sewed like a dream. 
I had to settle for a covered muffin pan because I couldn't find a nice 9" x 13" covered cake pan like my sister bought me a few years ago.  (It is totally awesome.  The cover is engraved with my name so it will never go missing at a potluck!)  Now I just have to send it off to Green Bay.  Patience, winter people!  8)

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Recent Prizes from Down Under

Not too long ago I was the lucky recipient of two lovely prizes from halfway around the world.  The first is this wonderful stitchery from Gail Pan Designs called "My Sweet Home", awarded to me from from Quilt Kitty in Perth, Australia.  [Go visit Tracee's blog and vote five paws up for the picture of her beloved Brunnie among the daffodils.]
I have often admired the Gail Pan line and am thrilled to finally have one of my own.
This lovely ditty bag came to me all the way from Tasmania, from Christine of Aunties Quaint Quilts.  Christine is currently busy making sewing kits and goody bags for people affected by the recent bushfires in southern Tasmania.

I don't know how I got so lucky as to win twice, but I'm very happy that I did.  Thanks again to my good blogging buddies from down under.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Dallas Quilt Celebration 2013

We had a great time at the Dallas Quilt Celebration and saw many lovely quilts, but there was bad news in this year's program: 

"Quilt Photography.  Taking photos of your favorite quilts to share with friends who couldn't come is part of the quilt show experience.  Please remember a few "rules of thumb" while viewing the many amazing works of art you will see here:
  • You may photograph entries in the judged show.  However, please respect the copyright protection to which our quiltmakers are entitled by obtaining written permission from the quiltmaker before posting a photo on the Internet."
I'll comply with the rules, of course, but I think it is a shame.  And with only a name and a city to go by, getting written permission from the maker seems almost impossible.  No one supports copyright protection more than me.  I get irritated with people who disrespect pattern copyrights or somehow think copyright law doesn't apply to them; however, sharing pictures of quilts put forth in a public venue seems different to me.  For one thing, most of the quilts would be impossible to recreate even with a detailed pattern, much less from one of my fuzzy photos.  And if selling patterns is their aim, they are getting free advertising, since I have always provided full attribution.

I'm concerned about this restrictive trend.   I know the guild was probably just listening to their lawyers, but it seemed like the show was smaller this year than in previous years, with both fewer vendors and fewer quilts.  Also, they didn't provide a show cd of all the winners, which was really disappointing.  At the very least, they need to have a mechanism in place where written permission can be easily requested.

The posts I've done on past quilt shows have been some of my most popular posts, so I know this is one way quilters love to share in their craft and get inspired.  Now it has been severely curtailed.  Your thoughts?

Sunday, March 3, 2013

First Post from Phone - it Works!

It was so easy to take a picture with my new phone and post it; 
I had no idea how simple this would be.  
Why did I wait so long?  lol  
I was going to delete this test post, but I love this picture.  
It perfectly captures my beloved's good nature and goofiness.

Now I just have to make something so I have something to blog about.  8)

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

OCD, Using One's Powers for Good

We were talking about stash-tracking over on Stitchin Fingers.  Now, I know a little something about this subject, having spent about two months this fall organizing Larry's Grandma's stash.  She's 101 now, and has the stash to prove it.  Grandma moved into assisted living and I promised to organize all her craft stuff as a housewarming gift.

I had no idea how much craft stuff she had.

For heaven's sake, she had been living in a one bedroom efficiency apartment!
She had six dressers and only two drawers had clothes in them.
And project boxes.  OMG the project boxes.  Nothing sorted or put away, she had duplicates, triplicates, even octuplicates of so many things.

There was a sorting frenzy that went on for weeks. 

But it's all much better now.
I borrowed a label maker from Liz, my "work niece", bought the extra-large tape for it, then labeled everything in nice big block letters.  (You get the discount if you buy clear shoeboxes by the case from the Container Store - ask me how I know!  lol)  I put her beads & yarn below where she can get at it, and tucked the less likely stuff up high.
"That Susan, she sure knows how to get things organized."
"I bet you didn't know I had that much stuff!"
It makes finding things a snap, and best of all, she loves it!
I made a sweet little old lady very happy. 
(If you look closely, you can see I even labeled the phone for her; she likes that too.)
Always use your powers for good.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Alzheimers Art Quilt Initiative Round-up

The Blanketeers managed to create six AAQI quilts in 2012 to help generate money for Alzheimer's research.  From the left, I'm pictured holding Rachel's light Guadalupe quilt and my own Clothesline Capers.  Sheila is holding Mary's Butterfly quilt and her mother's (Bea's) applique quilt.  Dorthy is holding Rachel's dark Guadalupe quilt and Jonquele's tiny little Baltimore Beauty.
I found it lots of fun to work on something this size.  I really want to make some more!  Life interfered with the plans of so many Blanketeers this year that we have decided to continue making AAQI quilts as a group throughout 2013.
I'm hoping by this time next year we'll have well over a dozen little "Priority Quilts" ready to send off.  Hope on, hope ever!

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Twister Quilt and a Big Decision

This Lil' Twister has been in work for over 6 months.  I love the results, but I thought the process was a pain.  I started using the Twister as a cutting template, but it has feet where it should have sandpaper and my cuts looked awful.  I then used it as a template, penciling, then cutting with a scissors, and that was better.  Rosa said she had no problem cutting with the smaller Twister, so maybe it's just me.
My Blanketeer buddy, Rachel, was dismayed by the amount of fabric wasted in the Twister process.  She was happy I put all the scraps to work in the outer border.  I just love the narrow red border, and to think, I only put it in after the twister/block seams wouldn't match up!  I'm going to bind it in the same red fabric for some extra pop.  I think it turned out well for two charm packs and some leftovers. 

The twister flimsy is actually laying on its backing fabric; I just have to complete the sandwich and it will be ready to quilt.  I pieced enough batting for two quilts out of all my leftover scraps on Wednesday and spray-basted them to their respective backs yesterday.  I have another flimsy completed out of the fabrics used in the following blocks, but I haven't taken a picture of it yet.
And now for the big decision.  The blocks above are laid out to audition the strip color, which will go all the way across the quilt.  Initially I thought I would use yellow, but after looking at it I fell for the intensity of the blue.  I asked my husband's opinion (thinking he would confirm my blue choice since he ALWAYS goes with blue, no matter what else is available) and he prefers red!  He says it makes the colors pop more and I think he's probably right.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Valentine Bears

Larry and I decorated a small tree for Grandma Vivian with all the Christmas decorations she had made over the years.  I put her favorite dolly underneath the tree, and it looked so adorable that she wanted to keep it up all year.  I convinced her that the CNAs would think we pretty lazy if we let that happen, so I promised her a seasonal tree (because, you know, I really just don't have enough to do. lol)
We were cleaning out more of Grandma's stuff at Dad's house when I came across a whole box of these tiny little bears.  I took them home, stabilized some red velvet with tear-away, then figured out how to do a "combi" stitch on my new Bernina.  Fortunately that turned out to be very easy. 
I drew the hearts right on the stabilizer and cut them out, then I hot-glued some red floss to each heart and tied them onto the bears.  Now I have a whole army of adorable little Valentine bears to put on her tree, with a few left over for a matching wreath.
Too bad the Bernina doesn't have a shamrock embroidery option.  I'm not above flogging a good idea to death; I even have bears left over.  I wonder what the original plan was for all those bears?

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Sabra's Christmas Present from Plastic Canvas UFO

In moving Grandma Vivian this past fall, numerous of her UFOs saw the light of day for the first time in years.  One of our "finds" was a bag of 7 completed pieces of needlepoint plastic canvas; clearly a tote bag that had never been assembled.  Now wouldn't a group gift from Grandma, Larry & me make a terrific gift for Sabra?  She does so much for Dad, driving him around and looking out for him in general as his fogginess increases.
I explained to Larry that lashing plastic canvas with yarn was exactly the same thing as lashing leather with lacing and put him to work (because I really hate messing with plastic canvas.)  I showed him how to get the handles positioned correctly and explained that, yes, you do have to lash all the edges or it looks icky.
While he got to work on the lashing, I added one set of missing antennas to the blue butterfly.  I also thought that some feet would make it extra special, and help keep the tote clean too.  In the stash of buttons I gleaned from cleaning out Larry's Dad's house, was a perfect match of four shank buttons.  I sewed them to the base piece and wound them tightly with the lashing yarn until they stood up nice and straight.
When Larry was done I added some yellow taffeta from my stash for the lining.  I auditioned several fabrics and almost went with a dark blue that looked very nice, but I decided to go with yellow in the end. The light color will make it much easier for Sabra to find her keys & sunglasses, and I've noticed that she spends an inordinate amount of time fumbling for things at the bottom of her purse.
We had a Christmas party at Dad's house on Sunday before Christmas, and Larry, Grandma and I gave the tote bag to Sabra then.  She was absolutely thrilled with it.  It was great to give her a gift from all three of us and I loved seeing another completed UFO, even if it wasn't one of my own.