Monday, August 31, 2009

Twilight in the Garden

I "completed" this quilt in June. I put quotes around "completed" because it doesn't feel done to me. I really like the tree and the flowers. I don't like the background quilting. It doesn't seem to add anything. The quilting doesn't always need to be the focus of a piece, but I think it should always relate to the overall idea of the quilt. I'm not sure it does in this case. I am also not sure about the circles in the sky. I had them left over from the flowers and the background seemed to be missing something. I definitely like it better with the circles than without, but maybe something else (what I don't know) would have been better in their place. Maybe I'll add some beads to the flowers. Another option is to just start over and make another. Artists call this working in series. I've never done that before, but I am starting to see some benefits to this approach.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Saturday Update

I didn't even walk into my sewing room yesterday. Usually not a good indicator of my mental health status for the day. But yesterday turned out alright. In the morning we did some shopping around town and at the Farmer's Market. We even splurged and bought a mixed berry pie from the Mennonite booth. Can you believe that we got a day old pie for just $5! Regular price it was only $9. Wow, was it good. In the afternoon I helped Parker clean his room. Actually I bribed him with a new Hot Wheels car if he did a good job, with my help. He had an entire tall kitchen garbage bag full of trash and junk in his room, mostly on the floor! Most of it he didn't even know he had. I had to be sneaky though to throw so much stuff away. I would make a pile and tell him to take this to the playroom, then while he was gone I stuffed things in the trash bag. He did pull out one item later, a tamborine made in school last year out of two paper plates and some beans. We'll see how long his room stays clean. In my seven years as a parent, I have learned that you can not force your organizational style on your child. (You can't force it on your husband either)

I did get to do a little cross stitch in the evening while watching a bit of TV. For the past few years I have been making ornaments for my nieces, nephews and close friends of the family kids. This year I have 12 to make, including Parker.

Let me give you a little background on this practice. Growing up my Aunt Sue would send my sister and me an ornament every year for Christmas. Usually we got to open them on Christmas Eve which is certainly one of the reasons I looked forward to getting one every year. Now that I'm old, every Christmas I love pulling out all the ornaments and remembering when I got them, who gave them to me, etc... For the past couple years Parker has been old enough to help me decorate the tree. While we do this I tell him about the ornaments and who gave them to me or where I got them. It has been so much fun that I want him to have that opportunity someday, as well as the other children I make ornaments for.

I guess the most important thing though is that I enjoy making them. I've just started so their isn't much to show yet. When I get one done, I'll post a photo. For now I'll post a photo of my most recent favorite quilt. I finished it in April 2008. I actually never planned to finish the quilt. I took a class at my local quilt shop to learn a new paper piecing technique. The worst part of paper piecing is pulling all the paper off afterwards. With this technique, you don't actually sew to the paper but you get the same level of accuracy. I had such a great time doing it that I went ahead and made all the blocks for the pattern we were using but I set them in a different way. Usually, my favorite quilt is the one I am currently working on. This one will be a favorite for a while though. Originally, I thought I'd give it away, but after I was done I couldn't part with it.
Here's a couple detail shots. I always love to see the quilting up close so I thought you might too.

Saturday, August 29, 2009


Slides are such fun! Yesterday afternoon they had this slide and another blow-up slide contraption set up on the lawn on campus. I picked Parker up from the bus stop and we headed right over. He had 45 minutes of pure bliss before they closed up for the afternoon. Here a couple more shots of the fun time.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Tension Troubles!

I'm trying to make new placemats for our dining room table. We have a round table and rectangular placemats don't fit a round table top very well. (I like to use a table cloth but my husband and son have both almost pulled everything off the table while sitting down to dinner with a table cloth on the table.) A few weeks ago I drafted a pattern and bought fabric. Yesterday I cut everything out and sewed everything together, except for the quilting. When I sat down to quilt this morning, the above photo shows what the back looked like. Yuck! I want these placemats to be reversible so I can't have loopies on the back. I changed the needle, rethreaded the machine and cleaned the machine. Then I tried again adjusting the tension and machine speed. It seems that my problem is mostly related to the speed of the machine, not the tension. As long as I sew slow to medium speed, both sides look good. If I go too fast, I get these loopies on the back. Despite having to quilt them at a snail's pace, I got all six of them finished this afternoon.

I also bought fabric for napkins but I didn't have time to do those today, for obvious reasons. Maybe next week.

I showed my husband the trouble I am having with my machine and warned him that I am starting to, maybe, think about (gulp) getting a new machine. The one I have is only 9 years old but about three years ago I had an incident with it. I wound a bobbin of wash-away thread the regular way with the machine and I shouldn't have. The manual does say this but I've had this machine for years, why read the manual!? Anyway, I couldn't get the bobbin off after I had wound it. I called the shop where I bought the machine which happens to be 3 1/2 hours away over a mountain pass. When they realized bringing it in wasn't an option, they took my name and number and the maintenance person called me back about 30 minutes later. She explained to me that I am not suppose to wind specialty thread the regular way. That I had ruined that bobbin already and that I needed to manually unwind the bobbin to get it off my machine, then throw it away. After that the machine would only sew a straight stitch with the widest stitch length, no matter what buttons I pushed or how much I pleaded with it. I was so mad (at myself) I just unplugged it and didn't turn it on for about a week. When I did turn it back on, it worked properly, for the most part. However, ever since then weird little issues keep coming up. Maybe they are completely unrelated to my mishap, but my baby has not been the same since.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Color Games

Last January my guild did the "Color Games" exercise from the May/June 2001 issue of Quiltmaker magazine. It was a lot of fun! The basic idea is you divide into small groups and each group picks a color. My group chose orange - the fabric used in the setting squares of the sashing. Each of the nine blocks represent a different colorway - monochromatic, complementary, analogous, ... - based on your groups chosen color. And you must use your chosen fabric in every block. We all had our color wheels out, traded fabric to get the just right shade of whatever we needed, and had a fun afternoon.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

I never thought I'd see the day

This is Maggie. She is 19 and the last of the three cats my husband and I had when we got married 14 years ago. Maggie's mother climbed into an open window in a college friend's apartment one long weekend when they were out of town and had kittens on their bathroom rug. They came home to a momma cat and four kittens living in their bathroom and a lot of poop in their tub. They were very lucky that the cats picked the tub as their toilet instead of using the whole house! The momma cat stayed around for a couple weeks then split. Maggie came to live with me shortly after her mom left. She has always been very selective of the people she chooses to grace with her presence and usually avoids kids but has mellowed a bit in her old age. She is now mostly deaf and has cataracts. This photo was taken yesterday morning before school. This is only the second time Maggie has sat on Parker's lap. The first was the day before. Will wonders never cease!? I hope not.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

First day of 2nd grade

It's Parker's first day of 2nd grade today. I got up at 6:30 this morning and he was already up and had started on his breakfast. My guess is that he got up about 6:00. He was ready to go to the bus stop at 6:45, unfortunately the bus doesn't come until 7:30! I managed to stall him until 7:20.

We went to meet his teacher yesterday. When we got in the car to leave I asked him what he thought of his new teacher. He said, "Nice, but she's not exactly like I expected." I asked him what did he expect and he said he thought she would be like his 1st grade teacher, "you know, more my size." His second grade teacher is tall, my height or a little taller and I'm 5' 9". His first grade teacher is probably about 5' tall and Parker is 4' 3". I thought about this comment last night and his kindergarten teacher was also about 5' so I guess he assumed that all teachers are the same height. Why would he assume that? Because he is 7. What a cutie!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Funky Santa

This quilt top has been hanging on my design wall for several months. It started with a pre-printed panel and a few coordinating fabrics that I bought at our guild retreat last November. For Thanksgiving last year we went to Albuquerque and I visited a few quilt shops with my mom. One of them had lots more fabrics from the line and as you can see I bought just about some of each. They sat in a nice pile in my sewing room for a few months. About May I decided to finally do something with them and this is the result, thus far. Most of the appliques are just pinned to the top right now. I think that I want to sew them down as part of the quilting. I just need time to get the layers basted and start. School starts today for my husband and I and tomorrow for Parker. Hopefully once I get into a school year routine I will be able to finish this in time to have it hanging in our dining room by December. I'll keep you posted.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Art Group

About a year ago some quilt guild friends were forming an art group and I was asked to join them. We meet once a month for about 2 hours. To start with we worked through the Art Quilt Workbook by Jane Davila and Elin Waterston.

Some time ago I saw an episode of Simply Quilts where a group of quilters were given a section of a black and white image and were instructed to create that image, to size, using any method or colors. The quilters did not know what the whole image was until after they turned in their section. It turned out to be the Kremlin, I think. The lines didn't match up exactly between the sections, but your eye forgave those discrepensies and it was a really neat quilt. I suggested that our group do somethng similar. Our group leader took a photo and cut it into seven wacky pieces. We each got a piece and made our piece. It took me a long time to make my piece. Several times during the process I questioned my sanity in even suggesting we try such a crazy idea. Once I finally finished my piece I decided that it wasn't that bad. The final quilt, pieced and quilted, is quite good I think. Well, everyone liked the quilt so much that we decided to do another one. This time we picked an image together. The original photo was taken by one of our group members of poppies in her garden. We cut it into seven fairly equal strips. Then we colored coded each strip and divided them up. My strip color is green. The rules were that your strip must be mostly your assigned color with a little bit of the complement. These are due on Tuesday. I am interested to see how this quilt will turn out. I like my section. Here is photo of my quilt section next to my image section.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

First Post

I've thought about blogging for some time but I've been too lazy to just do it ... until today. Some folks complain that blogging takes so much time. I don't know if they just spend more time than is necessary blogging or if it really takes a lot of time. We'll see.

I titled my blog "Quilts, Family and More." I've enjoyed following blogs by some quilters, both famous and not. This blog will most likely contain photos of quilts I've made and ones I'm working on along with some family posts and probably some cooking and gardening topics sprinkled around.

In addition to starting a blog, I am also beginning a new teaching job on Monday at the local college. I've taught at the college/university level for several years but went to part-time and then quit completely after our son was born. It was important to my husband and I that we not put our child in daycare. Not that there is anything wrong with daycare in general, it just wasn't what we wanted for our family. It's been hard to go from two incomes to one and a half incomes then down to just one income. I have taught a few courses since we moved here but nothing I was really excited about. However, I am starting a new type of developmental mathematics course here and I am hopeful that it will be very beneficial for a specific type of student. It will never replace the traditional course, but has the potential to help a number of students successfully move to college level mathematics courses more quickly. I will be using a program called ALEKS. You've probably never heard of ALEKS, but you can google then and learn more if you are interested.

Just to see if I can do it, I'll post a picture of a quilt I made recently for Operation Kid Comfort. Google them too if you want to learn more. It's a great program for children of deployed service members.