Monday, August 29, 2011

No Design Wall Picture This Monday

I’m still cutting, trimming and pressing those half square triangles for my Civil War Chronicles block-of-the-month quilt.  So, nothing is up on the design wall this week.  I hope to get some of the 68 blocks laid out and ready to sew in case I go to Sit N Sew this week.  I had planned on going, but with the heat so intense, I’m not sure I want to make the drive.  On the other hand, I may need some time with friends to preserve my sanityJ.

Austin reached a high of 110 degrees on Saturday and 112 on Sunday.  We’ve about 40 miles west of there and we saw 106.8 on our back porch thermometer Sunday.  It was our area’s 73rd day of triple digit weather in 2011 with Monday and Tuesday this week potentially even hotter.  All this heat is taxing the state’s power grid and that means we are asked to unplug and turn off as many electrical appliances (like irons) that we can during the peak hours of 3 to 7 p.m.  Most folks I know are more than happy to cooperate.  A few summers ago we had to endure a number of “rolling blackouts” and it would be wonderful if we avoid that this year.   

Fortunately, I have several projects in the cutting and planning phases so I can continue to be actively quilting.  Also, my Kindle is loaded up with all sorts of good reads.  I may even use some of this time to clean out a closet, not likely, but it is a thought.

Friday, August 26, 2011

A Squishy Package

I believe it was Bonnie Hunter at Quiltville who first introduced me to the concept of “squishy” packages that come in the mail.  My squishy souvenir package from our Alaska trip has arrived.  Most of the quilts I saw in the shops I visited used fabrics that had wildlife motifs.  They were beautiful and cozy looking, but this kit using shades of blue to capture the look of the glaciers we had seen earlier in the week caught my heart.  The purple/lavender cuts were last minute additions to the flat rate envelope.  I hope at least one of them will help fill in the gaps for my Strips that Sizzle project.

I visited our library Thursday and picked up a Dana Stabenow audio book.  I discovered her Kate Shugak series of mysteries that are set in Alaska when Amazon offered one free for Kindle owners.  I hadn't read mysteries for years and now I'm hooked on them.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Sewing has Resumed!

Sunday afternoon, I had the luxury of a few hours sewing without a deadline.  As I was in the mood for something relaxing, I delved into my string pile and resumed work on my Plaid Obsession quilt.  Here is my stack of 48 trimmed up string blocks and 110 sashing strips.  At last I can begin playing with layouts.  I will probably leave the paper foundations on the string blocks until after I have added the sashings.  That makes it harder to remove the paper, but it may make it easier to deal with the bias edges.  Many of the homespun fabrics that I have used are not as stable as I would like.

Even after doing the nine patches and sashings, my box of strings looks fuller than ever.  Hopefully, that’s just because they are all fluffed up from being pawed through.  I still have a pieced outer border to finish, and that should reduce the heap further.  This is my bonus quilt from this selection of fabric remnants and I'm ready to finish so I can play with something else.

Monday afternoon was spent with a good friend who collected my Civil War Chronicles and applique block-of-the-month kits during my absence.   We picked up kits for both July and August last month.  This month we received month 12 of the Civil War Chronicles kits so we could get a jump start on the final border.  It requires 680-1 ½ inch finished half square triangles for the 68 6-inch squares called Hovering Hawks.  I am so glad I purchased the Triangulations Software some time ago which allows me to print out a paper foundation for any size hst triangle I need. 

Tuesday was Sit N Sew day.  Because of our travel schedule and the air conditioner issues at the quilt shop (now fixed, thankfully), it had been a month since I spent any time with the group.  It felt so good to see all of them.  Now that I’m sewing again, I feel like I’m really home.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

We're back!

Both my lack of sewing posts and blog comments for the last two weeks are due to a very welcome escape from the toasty Texas summer we’re experiencing this year.  Our travels took us to Alaska where we enjoyed temperatures in the 40-60 degree range.  We saw hump back and orca whales; dolphins; eagles; black and grizzly bears; glaciers; moose; caribou; rain (lots and lots of rain); snow-peaked mountains with goats and sheep; harbor seals; and sled dogs in training for the Iditarod.  We experienced flying in a float plane (I was white knuckled the whole way), sight seeing from a domed train and tendering to shore because the cruise ship could not tie up at port.  Oh, yes, I also managed quick stops at three quilt shops, and am anticipating the arrival of a package from one of them. 

Our bank account is a good deal lighter and our bodies quite a bit heavier. 

During the bus ride from the airport Friday, someone checked the local news and reported that our area experienced its 61st 100 degree day this summer with the coming week’s forecast for seven more days of the same. 

The bags are unpacked and stowed away.  The laundry is almost done.  So, I am ready to start sewing again!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

My Featherweight Story

Please meet Charlotte Bernice, my very favorite sewing machine.  She is named after the friend (Charlotte) who alerted me to the estate sale ad that listed her and the town (Burnet, Texas) where I purchased her.

I learned to sew on a machine very similar to this, and at one time I had two of these little machines in my possession:  my mother’s and the one I purchased in 1961 for myself.  I was devastated when I discovered both machines were lost.  Mine simply disappeared after a series of moves.  I still have its box of attachments and manual, but after endless searches I had to accept it was gone.  At my mother’s request, her machine had been given to our daughter. When mine turned up lost, I offered to buy my mother’s back only to learn it had been sold two weeks before. 

It took more than a year to locate a replacement, and I am so glad I made the leap and bought it.  It is my “take along” machine for Sit N Sew days and my overall favorite for intricate piecing.  Yes, it does take a little more maintenance than my newer machines, but it was manufactured at a time when most sewing machine maintenance was done at home by the owner.  Even though this machine had obviously not been used in years, after a good cleaning, some lube and oil,and a new belt, all which we were able to do ourselves, she has been sewing like a champ.  …and the best part?  She’s older than I am and still going strong.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Just Checking In

Not much sewing is going on here right now, so I thought I would document a part of my family's quilting tradition.  Here is a bow tie quilt that I estimate to be more than 40 years old. 

See that bright zig zaggy fabric? Actually, it's impossible to avoid seeing it. I remember wearing a dress my mother made from that fabric in 1968.  It wasn't exactly my style, but I think she was trying her best to get me to out grow my shyness!  I'm not sure what it's made of, but it certainly is not 100% cotton. 

My mother had her hands full helping my father in his printing business, so she bundled up those remnants and gave them to my grandmother who made the quilt.  The blocks are huge, finishing at 15 inches.  I had forgotten about this quilt until my husband unearthed it at the ranch house.

In 1932 my grandfather died suddenly and my grandmother was left with a mortgaged farm, a few head of poorly bred cattle and three girls.  Through sheer grit and the help of some neighbors she survived the Great Depression and eventually owned her farm debt free.  She lived there independently until she was 91.  Whenever I start to worry about the current economic situation, I remind myself of how others came through even worse times.

Very few of my grandmother's quilts survive.  All of them, even the nicer ones, were used until they fell apart.  This one was probably among the last she made. 

Monday, August 8, 2011

Design Wall Monday -- 08/08/2011

The August blocks for the Civil War Chronicles block of the month are completed and on my design wall today.  I am now not only caught up but ahead of the game since I normally would not have had this segment until later in the month.  The shop owner had already kitted them up, however, and let us take them early. 

Monday, August 1, 2011

Design Wall Monday -- 08/01/2011

My design wall holds completed July blocks for the Civil War Chronicles block of the month making us half way through this project.  Half way, that is, if you don’t count the work that comes after the top is pieced. 

Also on my design wall are the corner stones for my Plaid Obsession string quilt that I posted about last week.  These little nine-patches will finish at three inches and were great leader-ender pieces.

We had temperatures as high as 104 degrees last week and when our local quilt shop lost its air conditioning in the classroom our Sit N Sew Day was cancelled.  Bummer, I sure missed time with my quilty friends, but, as it was too hot to get out anyway, I still managed to have a productive week.  Of the 31 days in July, 30 of them had temperature highs over 100 degrees.