Saturday, July 28, 2012

Memories of a Great Spring

Barbara at Cat Patches is having a photo finish linky party with a yellow theme and, on impulse, I decided to add this picture to the mix.  The Texas hill country is known for its blue bonnets, but many other wild flowers bloom abundantly during moist years.  I took his picture in the spring of 2010, one of the best wild flower years we had seen in decades.  We are expecting a blistering hot day, and I needed this reminder of more pleasant seasons.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Let the Games Begin!

Like a lot of bloggers I follow, I have been prepping projects to work on during the Olympic opening ceremonies tonight and the games that follow.  This afternoon I spent about three hours getting some blocks ready for applique.  No question about it, applique takes a lot of time to set up; and, at least for me, it's also a messy process.

Here are some of the Jane Stickle blocks that are ready for handwork.   

…and here is another look at this month’s accumulation of completed blocks now that I've added a couple more.  It looks like I have been using lots of blues and greens this month. 

I’m actually a few blocks behind the pace Doreen has set.  We have a family celebration to attend this weekend, and I may not have them completed before the August tutorials begin.  Good thing the only deadline I have is a self-imposed one!


Thursday, July 26, 2012

Life can be Absurd

With my love of handwork growing while my eyes are aging, I finally made the leap today and purchased this battery operated task light.  I’ve seen other quilters use these for years, but only recently did I see a battery operated one.

I do not intend to use it for day-to-day lighting at home, but I wanted to have it for those times we make road trips and I’m at the mercy of whatever lighting and electrical connections are available in motels and in our hosts’ homes. 

When I was talking to the store clerk about returning it, if it didn’t meet my needs, she nodded politely and asked that I be sure and keep the packaging.  “Even if I damage it while removing the product?”, I inquired.  She assured me that even if damaged it was helpful for them to return the item to the manufacturer with the original packaging.

Do you think this is what they meant?  Lol!  It’s a good thing I like my new light.  If there is an easy way to remove a product from plastic packaging that is molded around its contents, I would love to know the secret, though I suspect I just might be making it harder than I need to.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

A Giveaway Win

If, as Forrest Gump’s mom reflected, life is like a box of chocolates, then the piece I bit into today was especially tasty.  The mail included a giveaway prize … from the Empress of the Universe, no less!  After a very long dry spell during which I pretty much gave up participating in giveaways, I have won a second one this summer.  This one included my very first mug rug and a Kona charm pack from their bright palette.  

I've been wondering how I would use this little hanger I picked up at a quilt show last year.  (The rug, by the way is is a perfect rectangle; I just can't seem to hold my camera straight.) 

Oh, thank you so much, Empress! 

So, if you’re not already a regular visitor to her blog, The Adventures of the Empress of the Universe, be sure and check it out.  It's always a treat to see what she is up to.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Slowly Making Some Progress

I finally have some progress to report on my Hearts Abloom project.  The machine quilting is complete and the binding is ready for the handwork part of the process.  It will be a while before I finish that stage because I need to applique several Jane Stickle blocks (plus a certain mug rug swap project) in order to keep up with the pace this month.

My collection of Jane Stickle blocks completed in July is growing.  The focus this month has been on blocks with diamonds.  That boils down to a lot of applique pieces with narrow, sharp outer points.  Doreen promises to shift the focus to something else in her August tutorials -- and I’ll be ready for the change.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Getting Back to Normal

Here is a picture of my sewing room a few short hours before our company arrived.  I think Harley and Chloe know something is up.

And here is the sewing room today, back to its usual cluttered state.  The insulation sheets leaning against the wall are destined to become new design walls.  I have the flannel to cover them, but have not had a chance to do it yet. 

DH has been at the ranch fixing a busted lawnmower and I, of course, have been sewing. 

My stack of Jane Stickle blocks waiting to be hand appliqued is growing.  Peeking out underneath is the beginning of my very first mug rug.  Since Sunny just might visit my blog, I can't show it yet.  I was invited to join an on-line swap and have been busy deciding what to do. 

Since I will have to cut my Sit 'N Sew time today short so I can run some errands, I will take some of these blocks to work on instead of packing up the Featherweight.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

My Sewing Space

I confess that I am always drawn to others' posts about their sewing spaces.  I love seeing how they meet the challenges we all face with organization and space limitations.  Since I’m in the process of tidying up my space in anticipation of company; I decided to use the opportunity to document my sewing room.

This is how my primary sewing space looks today.  I recently rearranged it so that I could set up a second machine.  Now I have one ready for piecing those pesky little Jane Stickle blocks and another for machine quilting.

Earlier this year I had a sewing closet disaster.  A hanging shoe organizer that was stuffed full of fabric collapsed.  This got me me thinking about how to improve how I use my space.  Here is one of the solutions I came up with. 

As I was going through my various storage areas, I was dumbfounded to see how many duplicate sets of pins and hand needles I had accumulated over the years simply because I could not quickly locate or remember what I had.  Maybe this will help. 

This is the elliptical trainer that shares some of the space in my room.  It was a service award/retirement/going away gift from my company when I retired in 2006.  I use it occasionally.  It is very helpful in loosening up stiff muscles after I've been sitting at the sewing machine for an extended period.  I must confess, however, that I really need to press it into service more often. 

…a cluster of wall art, some of it vintage sewing ads purchased at antique stores or on-line.  Two of them are older than I am.   The more vintage I become, the more I appreciate vintage stuff!  The sign was purchased on Etsy.

Much of the room is furnished with repurposed cast-offs.  This oak end table came from the library thrift store and has just the right size nook for my tool caddy and a surface for my CD player.  I love listening to audio books when I’m doing a lot of chain piecing. 

The room’s television rests on an old entertainment center.  A very old printer stand raises it high enough for me to see it above my sewing machine.  I think I need to either paint the stand black or the cabinet white.  

…and in the interest of truthful disclosure…here is a peek inside my sewing closet of shame.  The shelving on the left was my solution to the overstuffed shoe hanger that collapsed.  My husband knows better than to open that closet door...ever.

My sewing space has to be very flexible and is constantly evolving.  When our grandsons visit it becomes a third bedroom and most of its contents are moved out to make room for air mattresses.  That forces me to occasionally clean it up...a very good thing.  In fact, we are expecting them this weekend.  So by the time this is posted, the room will already look different. 

Sunday, July 1, 2012

27 Jane Stickle Blocks for June

July has arrived and it’s time for me to record my Jane Stickle progress for June, file the blocks away and do some record keeping.  I really pushed last month and managed to complete 27 blocks and border triangles.  When I did some checking early in the month, I discovered I had a lot more catch up to do in order to be at the 13-month pace set by Doreen.  Some of these blocks are from her June tutorials, many are do-overs or catch-up blocks and there are a couple of bonus blocks thrown in.  I know the next nine months will provide some life interruptions, and I wanted to create just a little cushion. 

If I counted correctly, I now have 58 center blocks of 169 and 15 border blocks of 52 completed.  I finally set up a spread sheet to help me visually track my Jane Stickle progress.  Our 13 month journey began March 1, so we have completed four months. 

I hope that now that I really am caught up with the pace, I can work in some other projects that aren’t quite as intense.  This week, however, needs to be spent in some serious house cleaning.  We will be entertaining two separate groups during the first half of July.