Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Wishing You a Very Merry Christmas!

It's always been the tradition in my family to exchange and open gifts on Christmas Eve.   So tonight is a BIG night for my grandchildren!  We will gather at my son's home this year. Fixed a top the fireplace mantle in the family room will be his laptop computer, allowing my family in Wisconsin to watch as the kids (big and little ones!) giggle with excitement while opening their presents!  We did this last year, and eventually I took the computer and walked slowly with it at "child height," so the relatives could see close up, exactly what was going on.  My youngest grandson was 18 months old last year at Christmas.   Most of his toy gifts were intact inside their boxes, and he was more excited to climb up the boxes, and jump from one to another... he didn't seem to especially care about what was in the box!   With the kids raging in ages from 11 to 2 1/2, tonight promises to be just as exciting, and comical, as last year! 

With not much time to spare, I finished the 2013 ornaments for each of my grandchildren. 

The process began in early November... but in all honestly didn't really get into full gear until mid December!  (Would someone please remind me next July to start on the 2014 ornaments?  Please!?!)

 


 
 
 
Each snowman has taken on a personality of their own, mirroring the personality of each of the recipients!   My goal is to make an ornament for each of them every year... for how many years is still to be determined!!!   The backs are personalized with their name and the year. 

Still lots to do today, before meeting my children, SIL, DIL, and grandchildren at 5pm for Christmas Eve Mass.   Once we are at my son's home, I imagine the kids will make sure we all hurry through a casual meal of chili and hot soups... the sight of the presents under the tree will have them dancing like sugar plum fairies and lords a leaping!!!

A blessed Christmas to all of you!!!

Monday, December 16, 2013

In my mailbox!

What a delight to come home from work and find a package from Janet, among all the junk mail in my mailbox! 

 



A few weeks ago, Janet, who blogs at Rogue Quilter, offered her readers a chance to purchase a Pineapple or Log Cabin block ornament, beautifully made by Janet.  The ornaments were some she had left over from a craft fair/ fund raiser she participated in.  All the proceeds for the ornaments go to Dravet Syndrome Research, an organization very close to Janet's heart.    

I couldn't hang the ornaments on my tree fast enough, and then snap a picture of each of them to share with all of you!  These little cuties measure approximately 2.5 x 2.5 inches.  And I love the fabrics, and the colors!!!  And trust me, the back of the ornaments are finished off as wonderfully as the front!

Thank you so much Janet!  I will treasure these always!  (And I promise to be honest when someone asks me, "did you make those?")

 

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

What is December?

December is... joy, St. Nick, sleigh bells, holly, Christmas... and so much more, as designer Brenda Gervais shows us in her monthly Word Play designs! 

My official FNWF (Friday Night With Friends) project was something I couldn't show until today, because it was a gift that wasn't received until last night! 



My good friend and quilting teacher, Nor, is the recipient of my version of Sandy's 2011 design.   I used 28ct linen, and all the embroidery floss came from my collection that dates back to the late 1990's!   I added a small, rusty safety pin and mini jingle bell.  I filled it with walnut chips, not so much to be used as a pin cushion, but just because I would rather use the chips than try to stuff it evenly with pillow stuffing.   She likes it!  It's her "style"!

Visit Sandy's website to see her designs, and visit her wonderful blog here!

Saturday, December 7, 2013

FNWF - Friday Night With Friends

I follow Josie's blog from Scotland, Dilly Dimple.  I enjoy reading about Josie's adventures in quilting, gardening, and life!  My most recent visit to her blog inspired me to join FNWF... Friday Night With Friends, sponsored by Cheryll at Gone Stitchin'.  Cheryll hails from Australia, and I've seen other bloggers talk about "getting together" with her and other FNWF stitchers to work on projects of their choice.  I joined in on the fun this time... so enjoyable to read the blogs and see how others around the world spent their Friday evening.  Go here to get a glimpse!

(I'm cheating here a little bit... I actually worked and finished this project last Friday evening, but because it was a gift that was given just this past Monday evening, I couldn't blog about it before now!)



Using Coal Miner's Tunnel, a pattern from Tara Lynn Darr's Simply Charming book as my inspiration, I made a sewing machine cover and pin cushion, as my Bowtie Christmas gift exchange item.  (Bowtie is a small group of quilters that I am a member of... we meet in the evening  on the first Monday of the month).   I drew the name of our monthly hostess, Aimee.  I knew she had a Pfaff sewing machine very similar to mine, so I was able to size the cover without sneaking around her sewing room to get proper measurements.




I used SEW MAMA SEW fabric.  I pinned a cute little white sewing machine in the lower right side of the cover, so Aimee would be able to tell the front from the back.  The pin cushion is stuffed with walnut chips, my favorite choice of pin cushion stuffing! 

Last night, my true night with FNWF, I added the finishing touches to another Christmas gift exchange project.  And because it won't be given to the recipient until this coming Monday evening, I can't show it just yet!  

I enjoyed my FNWF evening... I'll definitely stitch with all of them in the months ahead!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Now where was I...

... oh yes.  Away from posting... and reading my favorite blogs! 

So good to be back!  I especially missed being able to stay caught up with what everyone else has been doing!  As all of you have wondered, I too, am asking, "where is the year going?"

My Mom's 90th birthday party was wonderful!  It was a whirlwind of activities that included visiting with aunts, uncles, and cousins that I haven't seen in way to many years, lots of cooking, and lots of eating!  The days we spent together flew by much to quickly, and before I knew it I was heading back to Iowa, driving in a mini snowstorm through Wisconsin and Illinois, arriving back home to my one-eyed cat who let me know he was not happy that I left him ALONE for five days!  (Yes, he had plenty of food and water!)

Since getting back home, my sewing mojo has been dormant.  I'm making progress on the Christmas ornaments I'm making for my grand kids, but that's about it.  Looking for my sewing mojo... has anyone seen it?

With Thanksgiving approaching, I thought I would share a couple of projects I made a few years ago, to welcome my favorite holiday. 


I made this table topper in 2005.  It was my first time working with
 Heat 'n Bond.  I wish I would have spent a bit more time with the
 blanket stitches... My friend Aimee did a wonderful job stippling!



This is an old Country Threads pattern.  I made this in 2006,
using brushed flannel and homespun fabrics.  I did all the
machine quilting myself... don't look to close...
I was really winging it!
 

My schedule at work has changed and I will be working longer hours from now until after the New Year.  Blogging will take a back seat to other priorities.  I will continue to drop in on my favorite blogs as often as time allows, and hope to get a few more posts in on my own. 

Wishing all of my readers a Happy Thanksgiving!  Enjoy the splendor of the day with your families and friends!  

 

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Projects in waiting...

... let me guess... I'm not the only quilt blogger with projects in waiting... I didn't think so.

At this time, my baskets are filled with projects that must wait.



My sibling and I are in the final planning stages of a big birthday party.  My Mom, who lives in Wisconsin, will be 90 years old next week.  The hall is rented, the food ordered, the decorations are... getting there.  Relatives from as far away as California, Maryland, and Pennsylvania will be joining in on the celebration.  I will see uncles, aunts, and cousins...some of whom I haven't seen in 22 years!  This isn't a surprise party... Mom was made aware about a week ago of the plans that have secretly been in place for about 8 months.  Mom shed a few happy tears when we told her that her only surviving sibling, her brother, is coming from Pennsylvania.  And as expected, she is most excited about seeing her four great grandchildren!  Oh, and her two grandchildren and their spouses, travelling from Iowa.  And her third grandchild, the bachelor of the bunch, will fly in from Colorado.  Let the party begin!

I'll be taking a few weeks off from blogging, and, most likely, from visiting the world of quilt bloggers.  One priority at this time.  My Mom. 

Keep sewing!
 

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Diamonds are a girl's best friend...

... paper template diamonds in my case. 



In the evening hours after long, busy days at work, I enjoy the methodical movement of threading a straw needle and choosing just the right fabric diamond to be next in the row.  Tiny stitches secure the 153 diamonds together... eventually another 136 colorful diamonds will join them!


 

I'm thankful for this project and a devotion to hand sewing the diamonds together.  The hours that I spend in this task lead me to a restful night of sleep, and prepare me for the busy hours of the next day at work.  

Missie Carpenter, the designer of the pattern in the above picture, has a wonderful blog where you can find all of her marvelous patterns.  Visit Traditional Primitives by clicking here


 

Sunday, October 20, 2013

NOT waiting until the last minute...

In years past I have made a Christmas ornament for each of my four grandchildren.   My intention is to always start making them in July... I think that may have happened twice in the past ten years!  This year I chose a sweet  snowman framed face. 


I purchased a This & That embroidery pattern - Merry Mini's #2.  As usual, I'm changing things up a bit by adding some additional stitches, and black beads for the eyes.  


This snowman is for my youngest granddaughter.  The pompom on the hat will be trimmed once the ornament is in a more finished state.  I will embellish the ornament with of few of the snowflake buttons.  Looking at the picture, I may need to add a few more stitches using purple floss... this little one loves purple! 

The other snowman ornaments will be done in colors that match the personality of each of the other grand kids.   I'm determined to finish these well before the midnight oil must burn!  Are you working on anything for Christmas 2013???

Saturday, October 12, 2013

A Finish!!!

My version of the pattern Hint of Fall by Buttermilk Basin is finished! 

Using fabrics of blue, gold, and creamy beige, I made this mini larger by adding an extra row of the elongated snowball block.  I couldn't wait to sew the binding on, wash it, and throw it in the dryer to get that crinkly, used look!   I kept the machine quilting simple.   I'm pleased!

For now this mini will grace the coffee table in my living room, with antique wooden spools resting on it. 



Hint of Fall pattern becomes Hint of Blue and Gold
in my home!
 
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While quilt shop hopping during last month's retreat, I purchased a half yard of some of the cutest Halloween fabric I've seen in a long time.  I wasn't sure what I was going to make, but I knew I had to have it!


Spooktacular - Maude Asbury by Blend


I ended up cutting the half yard into two fat quarters, backed it with coordinating Halloween fabric, sandwiched thin batting between, and made two table toppers.  Using cream colored thread, I machine quilted around the eyes and mouths of the pumpkins, and the inside margins of the pumpkins themselves.  Then I outlined the outside margins of the pumpkins and the spaces between them using black thread, to achieve a bit more puffiness. 

And how about that cute made-from-mason-jar-lids pumpkin!
It was gifted to me by my secret quilter at
quilt club the other night! 
Thank you!  Love it!

The jolly jack-o-lantern table toppers look like they need to live in a house with kids!   So, one will go to the home of my two oldest grandchildren, and the other to the home of my two youngest grandchildren.   I don't think their Moms will mind...

 

Sunday, October 6, 2013

A visit to the AQS show in Des Moines

Nothing beats a day off from work to attend a quilt show... especially with my sister who travelled from Wisconsin to attend the show with me! 

After a quick breakfast at Panera, my sis and I dodged raindrops and puddles after parking the car, and rushed through the doors of HyVee Hall in Des Moines.  With our best comfy shoes on, and our over sized quilted bags slung over our shoulders, we joined the crowd of other enthusiastic quilters to drool over the beautiful quilts on display, and shop 'til we drop! 




2013 AQS Show - Des Moines, IA


This not-so-wonderful picture was taken with my phone... I forgot my camera!  How did that happen?!?!?!   I'm kind of known for having my camera with me at all times.   So, no pictures of the marvelous quilts or wonderful vendor booths, many of which do not allow pictures anyway. 

Mary Jo and I methodically walked up and down the aisles, being careful to prevent any neck pain from quick head snaps, not wanting to miss anything.  That wasn't always easy!   We made notes of our favorite aisles and booths to visit a second (sometimes a third) time.  Halfway through we took a caffeine break, mostly for my benefit.  A diet coke later we were recharged to forge on, and not miss a thing! 

It's easy to say our favorite booth was Primitive Gatherings.  Lisa was in between teaching classes, so it was nice to see her among her beautifully displayed quilts and patterns.   Visiting with the vendors is so enjoyable!  We appreciate them coming to our Midwest town year after year! 


My purchases... fat quarters and 1/2 fabric cuts,
a pen style Chaco Liner, and a book by the gals at
Yellow Creek Quilt Designs

Check out a few pages from the book, Kindred Spirits - Celebrating Pieces of the Past.





Oh my!!!  What's not to like???

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It was nice to spend time in my sewing room with my sis.  It gave her an opportunity to inspect my collection of patterns, snagging a few that I'm sure I'm done with.  I sent her home with a large container of flannel and cotton fabrics that she will undoubtedly incorporated into her quilts.  None of the fabrics are really old... just some that I've used for past projects.  I'm sure the fabric was happy to be going home with her, instead of hanging out in a bin under my cutting table!

I gave her a quick lesson on paper pieced foundation, and English Paper Piecing.  I warned her about how addicting the EPP can become!  In turn, Mary Jo gave me a quick lesson on how she finishes her binding tails, to end up with a nice smooth finish.   I needed the lesson... I've struggled for too long on the best way to achieve that smoothness!

Mary Jo is on her way back to Wisconsin as I write this.  Without question, she will come back for next years AQS show... or, I just may have her seek out a quilt show taking place in my home state, and I'll do the driving next time! 
 

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Ahhhh.... autumn!


Cooler days and chillier nights... leaves beginning their transition of color... hay rack rides at the pumpkin farm... mums exploding in shades of rusty orange and harvest moon gold...  Friday night Homecoming football games... dried cornstalks tied around lamp posts... acorns crunching under your feet... just a few of the signs of autumn, a widely popular time of the year! 

Time to decorate! 

 

It's so fun to pull out the fall decorations each year...

 
... I get to say "hello" to friends I almost forgot about!
 
Many of my friends have been with me for
a number of years...
 
...but we never seem to get tired of each other...
 

... we stand the test of time together!

I made this mini last week...


...and this guy in 1990!!!

The festive stitcheries joined the family in 2003, and the
fabric leaves in 2012.
 Mr. Mummy was a group project at the Northwoods 
fall retreat in 2004!
 
This handsome guy graces my dining room table,
patiently waiting for the grandchildren
to pay a visit! 
 (I moved him for the picture).
 
My large sunflower quilt hangs on the inside of my
front door... when the sun shines through
the window panes, it almost looks
like stained glass. 

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Some evenings after work I don't have the energy to enter my sewing room, and that gives me a good excuse to do some hand sewing while watching mindless TV.   I'm making progress on my 8 point diamonds for "A Warm Welcome."  This is a project that I will work on between other treasures that beckon my time!

Visit Missie's website here to see a collection of her unique patterns, and her blog here

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Speaking of mums, I still haven't purchased mine yet, and I must, so fall can be fall!  It's on my list of weekend-things-to-do! 

Whatever your weekend plans include, take time to notice Autumn in its glory!!!
 

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

It's been a while...

... only because I had to endure computer problems again!  I'll spare you the frustrating details!

Weeks ago I promised to share pictures of some of the projects my retreat ladies worked on during our stay in the north woods of Minnesota.  Enjoy the parade of project pictures!


Sandra and Queen Dee were inspired by Nor's autumn
nine patch, so they each made one for themselves.

In addition to these cute mini's, Carole,
our embroidery expert, finished at least
a dozen embroidered flimsies.

 
Mary diligently worked on a pretty quilt kit...
I hope she keeps this for herself... she's known
for generously gifting many of her projects!

 
Nor made this two fall mini's... so festive!



Sandra and Queen Dee spent the first 3 days
making Christmas pickles...
gorgeous!!!


This is me watching the Packers and the 49er's
while sewing binding on the braided mini's
I made.  (Note to DD and DDIL...
don't look too close at the binding!  It
was an exciting game!)
 

 
This picture needs no explanation...
just your admiration!!!





 

Friday, September 13, 2013

Retreat Withdrawals...


Seven days of retreat followed by three days of working at my real job, and I am wiped out!

Retreating with my quilting gal pals in the north woods of Minnesota is always an adventure... the days race by as sewing machines hum in unison.  What's surprising is how fast those days goes by!  Sprinkle in a few shopping trips, boat rides, multiple bingo games, (we play for sewing related prizes), our HEART block exchange, two trips for two different members to the local medical clinic, (nothing serious in either case), a gift exchange, and yummy tummy filling meals, NO ONE finished all of the projects that made the trip with them, but then again, that's usually the way it goes! 

Much to the delight of my fellow quilters I was not as camera happy as I have been in the past.  (They have a reputation of covering their faces or making faces when the camera is aimed at them...).  I'll save pictures of the variety of projects that were being worked on for another post.  For now, I'll show you a bit of what I accomplished.  And I mean a bit! 


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This, times two...


...became these!


The pattern is Coal Miner's Tunnel, from the Simply Charming book by Tara Lynn Darr.  I used Posh Pumpkin charm packs and coordinating fabrics to make a table topper for my DD, and my DDIL.   I was drawn to these fabrics because they say "fall" without limiting the display days to Halloween... these fabrics will welcome the days leading up to, and including the Thanksgiving holiday.  They each measure approximately 18" x 23."  I'm pretty sure they will like 'em!
 
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This paper pieced project...


became this!


The pattern is "Stack of Bolts - Schoolhouse" by Remember Me Pattern Co.  I purchased the pattern in July at Inspirations, a wonderful quilt shop in Hills, IA.  It was the first time I had ever seen this line of patterns.   It was a quick sew, with excellent directions.   The angle of the picture makes it look a bit distorted, but it measures 8.5" x 15.25."

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Call me crazy, but I'm addicted to 1" 8-point diamond paper templates.  Hopefully the addition will last because I need 350 of these babies to make "A Warm Welcome," a 22" x 22" small quilt, designed by Missie Carpenter of Hallbrook Designs.   Although Missie offers an alternative way of prepping the diamonds, I prefer the traditional method of basting the fabric to the diamonds.   I'll be plugging away at this project off and on... I rather enjoy the mindless sewing the diamonds require!  (Click here to visit Missie's website!)


 
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My absolute favorite retreat project began like this...



... and became a flimsy two days after returning home!


The pattern is Hot Cross by Miss Rosie's Quilt Co.  I used 2 Historical Blenders charm packs, (also purchased at Inspirations Quilt Shop) and have coordinating fabrics for the back and binding.  I LOVE THIS!!!   I have no idea how to machine quilt it!  Any suggestions??? 

 
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As happens to all of us when we take time for road trips and retreats, we miss out on some of the happenings back home.  While away,  I missed my 4 year old granddaughters first soccer game.   Anxious of any news about the game I sent an inquiring text to my son on Saturday afternoon.  This was his reply...
 
"Hallie scored 3 goals... 2 of them were for her team.  One was from midfield - at least 40-50 yds out.   Under 8-yr-old league scouts impressed." 
 
Needless to say I am looking forward to watching Hallie's 2nd game of the season on Saturday afternoon!  There is nothing more precious than watching the little legs of 4 year olds, with their soccer t-shirts hanging to their knees, scramble to kick a black and white ball into the net... even if it belongs to the other team!