Thursday, October 10, 2013

New Block of the Month project

As if I don't have enough projects to finish, I have started a new one. Of course. Thirty-some odd projects are just not enough to keep me busy. ; )
In June I signed up for a Block of the Month at Sager Creek. Then I decided to have foot surgery. Great timing. : /
I've been picking up my packet every month, and now I'm finally able to start on it. A mere five months late. Oh well. Better late than never, right?
Here are my first few half-square triangles. Now before you get too excited about how quickly I was able to crank out these little beauties, please be aware that all is not always as it seems. The units on the right in the photo above are the HSTs. The pile of material on the left is the waste. OMG! What a pile of waste! I HATE wasting fabric. So why am I using this method? No choice.

The photo above shows the HSTs in progress. Have you ever seen this type of material? The fabric came printed in strips! I cut apart the strips in two-color pieces (as modeled by Tessie in the upper photo). I then use my ruler to measure out 2 1/2" squares with one side of light fabric and one side of colored fabric (bottom photo, after I retrieved my fabric from its furry protector). Fast, definitely; wasteful, even more definitely! No sewing though. I love the quick outcome, but feel incredibly guilty. Is his method cheating? Really? You think so too, do you? Oh well, just don't tell anyone else how it's done, and maybe no one will notice the lack of a center seam, okay?

The pattern is "Provence and Beyond" by Bloom Creek, and I love the finished pattern. Won't it be gorgeous? I just didn't realize how it's made when I signed up.

 Here is another picture of the pattern with less glare on the glossy page.

Below are photos of the finished blocks. I made six of them for the first month's assignment. The whole project is made up of only six monthly installments. And yes, I did catch the error in the top block, thank you for noticing. One of my green "leaves" is turned the wrong direction. Already corrected, thank goodness. Otherwise I would be quite distressed at noticing just now. So why am I showing you the photo with the error rather than one with the corrected version? Just trying to stay humble (hanging head).

This next photo is actually the same block pattern but with a different, lighter color green for the leaves. Why do the blocks have two different colors for the green leaves only? Beats me, but that's what the pattern says to do *shrugging in bewilderment*.

 Here's a photo of the July block. As you can see, this one has a LOT of applique. I have chosen my preferred method of needle turn rather than machine applique. I am actually almost finished with this block, but I haven't taken any photos yet. Maybe tonight.

As you can see, this block will be the center of the quilt. The pieces are large and easy to applique, so it's actually turning out fairly well so far. I should be on to the third month's package sometime this weekend if all goes well. And if I stay at home. Which is questionable since my husband loves to go out to eat on the weekends.

I've also been trying to measure the backing for my Day and Night quilt, but my helpers keep making things very difficult for me. Good thing I love them enough to find something else to do while they examined my workmanship, huh. Please don't be too critical, girls; I have a fragile ego. : )

They're not looking too impressed, are they? Tough audience.  : )


Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Up, up, and away!

Yes! I am up!

Okay, so I'm really sorta wobbling more than flying, but at least I no longer remain hunched over my crutches 24/7. As of my doctor's appointment yesterday afternoon, I am now allowed to put some weight on my left foot. The surgery incision is finally healing well, and I'm racing toward that complete recovery line!!! Okay, okay, I'm hobbling excitedly and holding onto walls, desks, people, anything that I can grab, on the way to that complete recovery line. But I'm moving.

What does that mean quilt-wise? Well, that I can begin quilting again, of course! For the last seven weeks, I have been unable to do anything except hand work. Speaking of which, what's happening with this little hand work gem?
Well, let's just say that it and I have come to a temporary (ha!) parting of the ways. So what happened, when everything seemed to be going so well? I had the first block about three-fourths finished when I happened to notice a bit of a problem. I have done more tearing out and re-sewing of this block than I have of any other project. Unfortunately, there is more on the way if I want to salvage it. May I please draw your attention to the above picture. Most specifically, the top teardrop structure and the mostly completed matching structure on the left. If you will look closely at the dark blue teardrops and their positioning, you will notice that on the top design, the blue extends from the sides of the orange petals, just below the green leaves. In the design on the left, however (and yes, it is complete now), the dark blue extends from midway down the orange petals. I have everything off kilter. There will be a lot more ripping out on this block if I decide to pursue it. It may become a permanent UFO.  : (
Speaking of UFOs, I am very excited at the prospect of getting back to finishing some of my half-baked quilts again. My poor sewing machine would be feeling quite abandoned if Mom hadn't kept it company while she stayed with me after my surgery. Well, just watch me hug the wall and wobble now! Sewing machine, here I come!

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Progress on the Bright Applique quilt!

Finally, I have some progress to report on my Bright Applique quilt. You might recall that I have the ambition plan to make this beautiful quilt pattern using needle turn applique.

I thought that I would be able to make tremendous progress on this quilt while recuperating from surgery. Unfortunately, I did not take my kitties into account when I made this grand plan. My kittens, especially Sinbad, have other ideas about my having a stationary lap for a change.
My baby girl kitties don't mind my sewing over their heads. Sinbad, though, isn't quite as generous about sharing my attention. (I'm really not as fat as I look in this photo - I'm slumped in my chair in order to make Sinbad more comfortable. Aren't I just the cat's meow? hee, hee) I have found, however, that if I wait until Sinnie's soundly asleep, I can often sneak in some overhead hand work without waking him. Shhh... It's best to let sleeping cats lie.
So, on to my progress...


All right, all right! so there are a few little kitty hairs on my block. Quite frankly, there is so much kitty hair quilted into this project already, that I'm relieved that this photo only shows a few scattered hairs. As you can also see, my piece placement leaves a bit to be desired. My previous experience with needle turn applique included a placement guide. This pattern doesn't have one. I'm having to eyeball the placement. Oh well, I figure if I ever actually get this quilt finished, who's going to notice some slightly wonky piece placement? Hopefully, people will just see how hard I tried, not how badly I missed. : )

This photo shows the segments that I currently have completed. I'm not being at all picky about where the ends of the "teardrop" elements end up. As you can see, the ends of the orange elements on the left don't line up exactly. But since the ends are all covered by the larger orange "petals" and the red center oval, the pointy bits really don't matter. Thank goodness! This way I don't even have to worry about how pointy (or not!) the points actually are. I can cheat and leave them sloppy with the assurance that they won't actually be seen. I'm sure this pattern would be much easier to complete if I was willing to machine applique it. But what would be the fun in that?

Once I get the fourth section sewn on, I will start with the hearts in the corners. Goodness, these blocks have so many elements that I fear this really will take me forever to complete. It's a good thing I intend to live forever then, right?

I'll post again when I have more progress to show. I've gone five weeks so far without touching a sewing machine. Aaauuuggghhhhh...!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Roses and kitties!

See what my wonderful husband bought for me yesterday? Just because. He knows that being on crutches has been difficult, so he decided to cheer me up with roses and lemon tarts. Yum! 

The kitties are doing their part as well. I spent some time sitting out in the sun room over the weekend, and all four kittens decided to join me. Here's Callie peeking from her new hiding place.

And here's Sinbad, waiting for his chance to attack! "Let's see those whiskers again, Callie," he's thinking.

One of the maintenance workers at the school donated a water cooler box to the cause this spring, and the cats LOVE it! It's completely open at one end and has a hole in the other end. They spend all of their time lazing around on this box if they're not in my lap.

And speaking of being in my lap. All of the cats hate the cast and won't come near me when I'm in the bedroom. But if I sit down somewhere, my lap is fair game. Especially for Sinbad. I think he's feeling a little neglected.

Here he is all cuddled up in my lap. And see that sweetly curled paw?

Here's what that paw actually looked like (see below). There were claws there as a gentle warning to not wake him up. I let him sleep for about two hours before too many of my own parts went numb and I had to stand up.

The only sewing I've done since the surgery on Aug. 1 was to bind the Christmas quilt in the picture below. Can's see the quilt? Well, that's why it took me over a week to get it done. I guess all of the kitties have been missing me. Maxie and Tessie hopped up on my lap every time I worked on this binding. I love my kitties!

I know, not much quilting to show lately. Hopefully, that will change in another two weeks if I can get rid of the crutches then. Fingers crossed!


Tuesday, August 20, 2013

A couple of finishes

I'm still down quite a bit after my foot surgery, but I get my stitches out this afternoon. Yeah!

I'm still on crutches for another three weeks and in the boot for another two months. My heel is raised right now, but I expect to have the wedge gradually reduced until my foot is flat again in the next couple of weeks. Soon, I should be able to get back to machine sewing. Yippee!

In the meantime, I finally finished binding another of my Christmas quilts. I'll have to take a photo of this with its new white binding. It turned out nicely. I still need to make and attach a label before I can call it finished. Maybe this weekend... At least it's done in time for Christmas this year. Only two more of the Christmas quilts to finish up. : )

And before my surgery I finished my Stashbusters quilt (photo below). My lovely neighbors took such fabulous care of my kitties, dogs, and chickens that I gave this quilt to them in thanks. I did not get a finished photo of it to show the beautiful black binding or the lovely quilting that Mom did on it, but I was in a hurry to get it to its new family. It was well received, so I hope it will be well loved and well used. 

Classes began again for me this morning, so I have to get back to work. Have a great day everyone!


Saturday, August 10, 2013

New applique project

Here it is! My new applique project. Well, a picture of the pattern anyway.


Sorry for the glare at the bottom. Here is a different photo, at an angle but without the glare. Isn't it gorgeous? It will finish at 90 x 110. Every bit of it is applique except for the sashing and inner border. I'll be doing needle turn applique.

I bought this pattern off a few months ago, and have been waiting for just the right time to start it. Now that I can't machine sew for a couple of months, I'm ready for some hand sewing. The pattern is by Sindy Rodenmayer. I LOVE this pattern. I figure it will only take me about 20 years to complete. More or less.

I've already started the first block. Unfortunately, I've been doing as much tearing out as I have sewing. While I love the pattern, this is the first applique pattern that I've tried that does not have a layout sheet. I'm trying to determine placement by eyeballing the pattern. Not as easy as it sounds! I managed to get the middle floral pattern sewn down nicely, but I've sewn down and torn out several other portions so far.

Terrible color on that blue center. Here is a photo that shows the true light blue color.
I'll continue to take and post photos as I progress. I plan to start back to work on Monday, so I'll only be able to work in the evenings and on the weekends again. I had considered taking Monday and Tuesday off and returning on Wednesday for the in-services, but I really have a lot to do, so I'm going to give it a shot. I can always head home early if I have to. My students don't come back until the 19th, so next week is still fluid.
I have lousy light here in the bedroom, so I'll try to crutch into the sewing room tomorrow and get some more sewing done. That is if I can work over Sinnie's head! He's so upset about the cast and the crutches that he won't even come into the bedroom. When I sit in the living room, dining room, or sewing room, however, he immediately hops into my lap and refuses to move. He has never been a lap kitty before, but he's learning quickly. Poor sweet. I have another nine weeks in a cast. It's going to be a loooong nine weeks for the poor kitty.
Well, time to catch up on my blog reading. I'm waaaay behind!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Limping along...

I'm back! Again.

After spending the majority of this spring and early summer doing pattern testing for a new pattern designer, I've finally started working on a project of my own. So where are the pictures of this new project? I'll have to take some tomorrow. I'll tell you this much though, it's very large, very bright, and very applique. And it will be very pretty! When I finish it in about 20 years. : /

So what has bought on this big new project when I have so many UFOs waiting? The necessity for a long-term hand sewing project.

Yup. Surgery. Heel surgery, to be precise. I won't go into boring and gory details, but the good news is that I will be able to walk without pain again for the first time in years.

The bad news is that I will be on crutches for six weeks before graduating to a walking cast for another four weeks. After that I will be in sandals and work my way back into normal shoes. The total recovery time for this surgery is from six months to a year. Since it's my left foot in a cast, I can still sew on my machine once I get off my crutches in another five weeks. My machine is in a corner and not accessible without gymnastics that are inconceivable with crutches. Ergo, needle turn applique it is. And to keep my spirits up, I've chosen bright blues, oranges, greens, yellows, and reds on a black background. I already have part of the first block finished, so I'll have something to show you once I figure out how to get my camera back to my sewing room when I don't have hands free to carry anything. : ) You may have to settle for camera phone photos since my phone is small enough to carry in my pocket and my camera is not.

Okay pain meds kicking in again, so goodnight.


Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Things are looking up...

Thank you to all of you who have sent queries and encouragement to me and my sister. I've talked to her most days to try to keep up with everything that's going on after her house flooded.

The good news is that after she was turned down by ALL of the assistance programs, my husband and I talked her into trying a different direction. Since the aid agencies said that her flooding couldn't have been caused by the tornado since she isn't in a flood plain, I told her to contact the city drainage department and tell them that her house flooded because of their faulty drainage (actually, I told her to sue the mayor over the faulty drainage, but I was a little upset at the time). My husband was more practical and suggested that she call her local representative. After talking to various city officials, my sister took my husband's advice. She e-mail her alderman at midnight on a Friday with no expectations of hearing back before the following week. The next morning, Saturday, she got a wake up call at 7 a.m. from the city manager. WOW! Talk about fast!

So...thanks to making all the right contacts, Sis has now been approved for FEMA aid. She has already received a check for the "minimum repairs required to make the house livable." Now she's waiting to hear if she's eligible for assistance with all of the internal losses she suffered - the loss of all of her appliances, much of her furniture, the flooring, her AC unit and ductwork, and the carpeting going up the stairs. She should hear something in the next two to three weeks.

Yesterday, a church from Alabama sent a crew out to repair her walls. She had already purchased the materials, but she and the girls didn't know how to build walls - go figure. : ) Now she has all new inside and outside walls. Well, all except for the one wall that they discovered yesterday that they had never cut open. Since it hadn't been drained, it is now full of lovely green mold. Apparently, if you let mold grow and mature, it glows in the dark! Who knew? Sis is still encountering new hurdles every day, but at her legs are getting a fantastic workout jumping over them. : )

On the quilting front, I have finally finished binding my Stashbusters quilt. Just in time to start the next Stashbuster quilt! I already have many of the blocks made up, but I haven't laid any of it out yet to figure out how I want it to look. Of course, I have been rather slowed down by helping a new friend with her new business. She is developing patterns that she wants to sell, but has needed some pattern testers. I'm on my second quilt pattern that I'm testing. Both patterns are lovely. The first one is made with xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx and is in lovely shades of xxxxxxxx and xxxxxxxxxxxxxx. The second one is much more complex and is mostly xxxxxxxxxxxxxx in beautiful colors ranging from xxxxxxxxxx to xxxxxxxxxxxxxx. I would tell you more about them both, but I'm under contract and have been sworn to silence until the patterns are actually published. Hey, look at that! Even my descriptions have been redacted! Well, you'll just have to wait to see them at some future time.

Thanks to all of you for sticking with me during the past few months when I've been posting so seldom. I hope life settles down enough to let me get back to doing fun things some more and, even better, sharing them with you!

See you later,


Monday, June 17, 2013

Is 2013 gone yet?

Sigh. It's still here.

This year has been a challenge for my family. The day after posting about losing my little dog and my kitty, my sister and her family in Oklahoma City were hit with flooding.  Her husband just shipped out to Afghanistan the week before and she has four kids. Her home damage was because of the five tornadoes in the area - it was not caused by their house being hit by a tornado; therefore, no insurance coverage.There is a huge, long saga involved with this situation, but let's just say that there is finally hope on the horizon. She contacted her local rep, who has taken her cause to the assistant city manager. She's been in constant contact with the assistant since then and seems to be making some headway.

BREAK THROUGH! I actually just got an e-mail from her saying that FEMA came out at noon today to inspect the damage. She has to wait a week to ten days before she hears what, if anything, they can do to help her, but at least they're talking to her now. Sometimes it helps to get the bigwigs in city government on your side. : )  FEMA may provide assistance with the extensive structural damage she received, but can't do anything about the furniture and appliances. Thankfully, that's where friends and family have stepped in. We're all pitching in to get the inside of her home taken care of as soon as the outside has been repaired. Keep your fingers crossed that everything goes smoothly. She has to wait until her claim has been processed before she'll know anything. Until then, all she can do is hope and wait. And try to stay dry.


Thursday, May 30, 2013

Airing of the Quils and more sad news...

It's May, and that means Airing of the Quilts time at my guild. I borrowed these three quilts back from my nieces and nephew and tossed them over the fence.
This bright red and blue quilt has a pillow cover built into the design. That's what happens when I run out of two of the fabrics and still have a lot of length to make up. : )

Here are a few other quilts that were being aired that day...

I have a lot more photos to share with you, of roses and museums, flowers and motorcycle riding kitties. But I'm still feeling a little off kilter right now. I'll post those a little later.

Now for the sad news...

As you may remember, we lost my little 17-year-old Butch on the 19th of this month, just four days before my silver wedding anniversary.

Well, two days ago we lost another friend. Please remember, we are not bad pet parents; we take in a lot of strays and abandoned furry friends. We do our best for them.

For a couple of months now I have been looking forward to introducing you to Teddy - our timeshare kitty. We don't know for sure if he had another family that he lived with part-time (he was definitely a  people lover), or if he was living the wandering life of the average tom kitty. We just know that he came and went as he pleased.
Mr. Ted showed up a couple of months ago swearing that he was starving. We quickly realized that this kitty could put away three full meals a day. Patting his side was like testing a pumpkin for ripeness. He thumped! He was also the only one of our kitties who actually liked belly rubs.
Two weeks a go I took Teddy to the vet for shots and "repair" (he got "fixed"). Even though he seemed to be on time-share with another family, he still spent weekends and many week day evenings with us. I was supposed to take him back this afternoon for his booster shots. Well, he took off for almost two weeks after his surgery, but showed up again last Thursday night. He spent every day and night with us after that. I took this photo of him reclining in "his" chair in our sun room on Monday, Memorial Day. He seemed very lethargic and felt rather hot, but my husband just thought he might not be a very active cat. Remember, he was still relatively new to our family.
Tuesday night after work, I got home and decided that something was most definitely wrong. I rushed him to the after-hours emergency pet clinic. There he was diagnosed with Bobcat Fever. He had a temperature of 106 degrees and was already anemic. Until very recently, this tick borne disease was considered always fatal. It still only has at best a 60 percent survival rate and requires hospitalization and full-time care during treatment. His case was far enough advanced that he would have needed a blood transfusion and a possibly lengthy hospital stay. He only had a 10-15 percent chance of recovery (possibly 20 percent in the best case scenario) and would have had to spend the rest of his life indoors if he recovered - not a problem for us, but Tedders loved being outdoors. Given Mr. Ted's condition, the vet recommended not trying. The progression of the disease is extremely painful, with little chance of recovery. I had to say goodbye to my new friend.

He shared such a short time with us, but we had grown very fond of him.

Goodbye, Teddy.

If you, like us, have never heard of Bobcat Fever, please do some research on it and see if it's in your area. The vet said that he sees 4-5 cases a week just at his clinic during the spring tick season. We will definitely be more vigilant now that we know. I just wish that we had heard of this before.

Give your furry babies kisses and tell them you love them.

I'll post a cheerier message later. Until then,