Wednesday, October 31, 2012

A friend retires

I can't believe that I did not use my camera today. 

I met my friends, Nancy and Becky, for lunch. Then we were back on campus (where I spent most of my teaching career) to help Nancy celebrate her retirement. I saw people that I hadn't seen in quite a while. I talked with my replacement (he's beginning his 8th year!). I saw many changes including a beautiful new computer/teaching lab. It is very strange to walk down the faculty hall of 'our' building and not recognize the names on many doors!

Do I miss school - well, let's just say I love being retired! And I'm pretty sure positive Nancy will wake up tomorrow feeling the same! 

Congratulations Nancy!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

FMQ project - Jagged Lines

This week at the Free Motion Quilting Project Quilt Along, we worked on another edge-to-edge design. This one is called Jagged Lines
This is similar to flowing lines but the lines are straight and the angles are sharp (or at least supposed to be!). Straight lines and sharp angles are harder for me but I persist! I split my 8" block in half so I could work on a 4" piece - more like a sashing. Here is a close-up.

I have started to put some of my learning pieces together. The key word here is "started"! I have many pieces, all made in 2012, from working with Leah Day and the Free Motion Quilting Project, the 2012 Free-Motion Quilting Challenge, and Quokka Quilts QAYGFMQQAL

The back is pinned and needs a little hand stitching. One of these days, I'll get back to it! It is always good to have WIPs!
Now I wish I had all of my learning/practice pieces but some of the early ones are on practice sandwiches which have been over used. 

Saturday, October 27, 2012

We saved money!

My friend Sandy called this morning and asked me to go on a road trip - it was too good to pass! We headed to the Backyard Quilt Shop in Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin.
We found this shop last July when a group of us went on a little shop hop. We all loved the shop and were sorry to hear it is closing. Kathy, the owner is retiring. Although we wish her the best, we will miss the shop! Anyway, we had to go check out all of the bargains that we knew we would find. It was fun and we spent a couple of hours shopping. You can't believe how much money we saved - everything was 25% off!

After leaving and having a quick lunch, we stopped at Loose Threads in Milton, Wisconsin. Sandy had been there before but it was my first time.
This was just the first room of a nice shop with lots of fabric! The ladies were nice but I think they could have used more help today - there were a lot of shoppers. In fact, when we got there, the parking lot was almost full!
We didn't save any money here - we didn't buy anything on sale! But I didn't spend everything that I saved in Fort Atkinson so I think I still have money to spend - right?

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Baby Boy Blue times Two!

A sister of our DIL is expecting twin boys - I think identical twin boys! That means two quilts! I wanted predominately blue quilts with little boy prints.

I bought fabric in Alaska - here and there, sending it home every so often. When I got home, I decided that it just wasn't going to all work together but the blue Minkee for the back would be fine.

On our Quilt Camp trip, I picked up fabric at various places. When I got home, I put two quilt tops together but they just weren't what I wanted right now. I had to add fabric and the tops became more primary colors rather than pastel blue. I'll eventually finish those for donation quilts.

A week or so ago I bought more fabric all at one time with a plan in mind! I came home and got busy. This time, I got exactly what I wanted - two quilts that were all little boy with lots of baby boy blue. 

They are flannel and Minkee with cotton binding. They are so soft and cozy. 

They are not exactly the same - the middle blocks are in a different order. Identical twins aren't usually exactly the same either - one is usually right-handed and one left-handed. Hmmm, why didn't I make the middle squares mirror images?! Oh well!

These have Dream Poly batting and are machine quilted with a wavy stitch.

I hope the new Mom and Dad love the quilts as much as I do!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

FMQ Project - Trapped Paisley

This is Quilt Along #36 at the Free Motion Quilting Project Quilt-Along. We are doing another Edge to Edge design based on Flowing Lines. Trapped Paisley is Flowing Lines with Paisley in the open areas.

I haven't soaked my blue marking pen out yet - you can still see the lines for the 8" square.
I really like the interesting texture. Again I have quilted an 8" square for my motif sampler quilt.

Monday, October 22, 2012

A great few days!

Our son Brent called early (for us) on Thursday, my birthday. It was one of those days where he and his wife both needed to be at work and the babysitter was ill. This is very unusual and they called to see if we could help out. So I got a Griffin for my birthday! What a fun day with a 2-year old. Grandpa had made cupcakes and Griffy helped with the frosting.
 He also helped himself to the frosting!
It is the first time Griffy came without his big brother. We understand most things he says but every so often...  We were talking about Halloween and he patiently told us over and over that he wanted to be "Carry a Sword". When we picked up big brother Mack after school, we found out Griffy was saying "Curious George"! 

That evening Brent, Emily, Mack, and Griffy took us out to eat. After dinner I went to my quilt group and celebrated with the other birthday girl in our group - she is 91!

On Friday, Ray and I went to Dubuque, Iowa, to see the play - Hallelujah Girls. It was good and we had some laughs. We got up to in Dubuque to a beautiful day Saturday. First we drove to Sundown Ski area since we had never been there. Then Ray suggested we go to Monona, Iowa. My neighbor said a coworker told her about a quilt shop there.

We had no trouble finding Suhdron Fabrics.
It is three floors of fabric and other things - wow! They have been in business for 40 years and some of the inventory might be that old! 

It was rather fascinating to look around - polyester knits, double knits, new clothes that are many years old, craft items, plus some 'today' fabrics and notions too! If you are looking for something that used to be easy to find, I bet they have it! The lady working was really nice and we had a good time looking. 

A customer and the clerk both suggested we eat at Jodi's just a block down the street. We had a great lunch and even left with a loaf of wheat bread!

It was a pretty drive home. Some of the leaves are still on the trees and with the sun shining, it was nice to enjoy what is left of our fall colors.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

October Quilt Square Quilt Along

When the October Quilt Square at Jo's Country Junction came out, I was sitting in our family room looking out over our backyard. The trees were in full color. The pattern that Jo chose was the four stars of Lori Smith’s #6 Quilt Square pattern. I decided that I just had to use the colors of fall. 

I went through my batiks and packed a number of scraps to take on my little retreatI pieced my autumn inspired stars that day and pinned it so it was ready to quilt.

I wanted to quilt it with leaves. I thought about maple leaves - my favorite - but my small ones look more like ivy and the larger ones were too big. It finally occurred to me to use a simple leaf like an elm leaf. I remember trying this for the January 2012 Free Motion Quilting Challenge
January 2012 attempt to FMQ leaves
Here is a closeup of my quilt square.
October 2012 attempt to FMQ leaves
I embarked on my journey to learn to free motion quilt in January 2012. I think I have improved a little!

Here is one last photo - I think you can see the quilting..

Thursday, October 18, 2012

When I'm Sixty-Four ...

This song has been going through my head for a few days. Want to guess how old I am today?!

When I'm 64 
by The Beatles

When I get older, losing my hair, many years from now
Will you still be sending me a valentine, birthday greetings, bottle of wine?
If I'd been out 'til quarter to three, would you lock the door?
Will you still need me, will you still feed me when I'm sixty-four?

You'll be older too
Ah, and if you say the word, I could stay with you

I could be handy, mending a fuse when your lights have gone
You can knit a sweater by the fireside, Sunday mornings, go for a ride
Doing the garden, digging the weeds, who could ask for more?
Will you still need me, will you still feed me when I'm sixty-four?

Every summer we can rent a cottage
In the Isle of Wight if it's not to dear
We shall scrimp and save
Ah, grandchildren on your knee, Vera, Chuck and Dave

Send me a postcard, drop me a line stating point of view
Indicate precisely what you mean to say, yours sincerely wasting away
Give me your answer, fill in a form, mine forever more
Will you still need me, will you still feed me when I'm sixty-four?

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Northern Lights

Have you ever seen the northern lights - the aurora borealis? I have seen them twice - not nearly enough! Once they were green and the other time red. I am fascinated by the lights and would love to see them in the far north.

I bought some material called Northern Lights in Alaska three years ago. I wasn't sure what I would do with it but I bought it twice at two different stores and didn't realize it until I was home! So it really did (and still does) intrigue me.

You can tell it has been folded...

A few weeks ago when we were in Alaska, Ray spotted a small quilt in a shop that reminded him of the northern lights. I agreed and bought the pattern which was a pattern for a Hunter Star. 
It was an interesting way to make the star pieces.
At my little retreat I pieced a small 15" quilt. I was trying to decide how to quilt it when Ray said "with stars". Of course! So I machine quilted the piece with stippling stars.
The whole quilt.
A close-up.
The back.

Wouldn't this pattern look great in a king-size bed quilt?!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Living Clean!

We are trying to live better, that is, we are trying to live with less chemicals/additives in our food and in our everyday lives. 

A while back I wrote that one of our DILs introduced us to the Vitamix - we use it often and are eating healthier! 

The same DIL introduced us to  Norwex - we are now cleaning the house and car without chemicals. We have stopped using cleaning supplies like windex, pledge, swiffer, shower cleaners, etc.

This week, I made some laundry soap. My friend, Lori, made some and liked it so I decided to try it.

Homemade laundry soap from Lori 

3 bars of Fels Naptha soap - finely grated

4 lbs. of Borax
4 lbs. of Arm & Hammer washing soda
4 lbs. of Arm & Hammer baking soda

Mix it up and use 1 - 2 Tablespoons per load. 

Lori said the hardest part was grating the Fels Naptha soap. Another friend, Paula, also makes her own soap and uses this recipe but adds Oxy Clean. Paula told me to use a food processor on the Fels Naptha - it works great!

It cost me $17.09 for the ingredients at my local IGA and I figure I can wash between 160 - 320 loads so the cost is between $0.05 - $0.11 per load. I know this is not chemical free but it it more chemical free than what I was using and a lot cheaper! I was using two different soaps - one cost $0.29/load and the other $0.19/load!

I don't use fabric softeners or dryer sheets - I have Norwex dryer balls! 

The only problems with all of this clean living is that I still have to take time to fix meals, I still have to clean the house, and I still have to do laundry. And I'd rather be quilting! 

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Playing Hooky!

I saw these pillows on Facebook early Saturday morning - 
the pattern was a free download on Quilting Daily.

I had a long list of things to do Saturday including a number of quilts that needed my time and we had to leave by mid-afternoon for a wedding. When I went upstairs to sew, I decided that I really wanted needed to make a pumpkin pillow. I grabbed some batik scraps and started sewing. If that wasn't 'bad' enough, I also did the decorative stitching between the strips in the pumpkin like the pattern suggested. 
It was fun playing with my new sewing machine and altering some of the decorative stitches.

Here is the pillow - it is the only thing I accomplished on Saturday!
And I thoroughly enjoyed playing hooky from the things that really needed to be done!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

FMQ Project - Goldilocks

This week at the Free Motion Quilting Project Quilt-A-Long, Leah Day has us doing Goldilocks. We are building on our work from last week, Flowing Lines. Goldilocks is Flowing Lines with stippling in the open areas.
Sorry about the raggedy edges!

I had this block and needed something around the border so I decided it would be a good place to use Goldilocks.
Because I used this 8" block, my stippling is micro-stippling. I'll try this again on a larger scale.

I didn't find this hard! In fact, it is quite easy to do. The micro stippling really does add a lot of interest!

Friday, October 12, 2012

2012 Free Motion Quilting Challenge - October

The October Free Motion Quilting Challenge over at Insights from SewCalGal featured Teri Lucas as the expert of the month. Teri teaches free motion quilting.

This month we had to practice a number of things on paper for one design and then quilt it. Well, I practiced a number of times on paper and decided that maybe I would pass - this just wasn't a block I would use. But for some reason, I sat down at my machine yesterday and decided to try quilting it. I am really glad that I did! Not only did I see remarkable improvement in some parts of my quilting wow - the practice is starting to pay off!, I tried different threads with great success! I probably won't use this block but it was great to try it!

We had to write our name, echo around it making it interesting. I needed a grid and clam shells and more. Each motif gets its own thread. Notice the gold feathers. 

I'm glad I did the exercise and tried the different threads - I'd only used Isacord and Aurifil for quilting. This exercise has opened up a world of opportunity!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

2012 Free Motion Quilting Challenge - Bonus Tutorial

One of the bonus tutorials at the 2012 Quilt Challenge is by Susan Brubaker Knapp "Free-motion Quilting Challenge: Finding fabulous motifs in your environment". I have often found inspiration for my quilts in the world around me but I have never looked for ways to quilt my quilts so this was new and fun!

After taking a closeup photo with a digital camera, I printed the picture, traced an outline onto tracing paper and transferred that to fabric. Then I free motion quilted those lines. I didn't use any filler motifs like tiny pebbles or stippling this time but I could have.

I recently had my private retreat and I was thinking about this challenge. So I grabbed my camera and looked around the motel room. The very first thing I noticed was a photo on the wall including this:

Using the macro setting, I took the following photo.
I printed this out as a 5X7 picture and transferred it to the fabric. This is the resulting quilted piece.

This is an enlargement of the edge of a mirror.
And this is the resulting quilted piece.

I really enjoyed this exercise and am anxious to try some other designs - the bark on various trees, different leaves, grasses, the upholstery design on a chair,... The list is endless!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

A Private Retreat

Ray had a meeting in Champaign, IL yesterday so we travelled on Sunday and came home today. That left me with lots of free time yesterday while Ray was busy. So I packed my new machine and some projects and had a private quilting retreat right there in our room at the Hilton Garden Inn.

My private retreat last spring at the I Hotel was wonderful. I didn't know what the room setup would be at the Hilton Garden Inn so I hauled along my little white table in case I needed it - I didn't! The desk, more like a table, was about 30" by 50" - nice! There was plenty of room for my machine and a small cutting mat. The ironing board fit nicely against the wall.  
I had a perfect view of the TV. I took the photo of the TV Monday evening when Ray was here and the football game was on. There were no sports on TV during my retreat!
My table wasn't always neat! Can you see me in the mirror taking the picture? The right part of the photo is the window - it was a bright sunny day. Perfect light for sewing!
I worked on these autumn inspired stars. This is my Quilt Square Quilt Along for October. It still needs to be quilted and bound.
I made this Hunter Star pattern from some Alaskan fabric called Northern Lights. It is about 15" square. I need to pin, quilt, and bind it.
I started one other quilt and have most of the squares  finished. One day soon I hope to get this put together. 
I ate breakfast and lunch on Monday with Ray's group - they are so nice and invite spouses to join them for meals! That meant I went down to the first level conference center and had delicious food and nice people to talk with for both meals. When I was done eating, I just excused myself and wondered back up to my room. During the afternoon, one of the housekeepers told me where a coffee shop was (very close) so I took a little walk and found some caramel apple cider and a blueberry scone. Any good retreat has snacks!

When Ray was through with his meeting, we headed out to do a little shopping and have dinner.

It was a wonderful time - the only way it could have been better would be to have friends quilting with me!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Another Camp Finish

I made and finished this table runner at Quilt Camp - or so I thought! I washed it when I got home to remove some marking lines and some of the little prairie points came loose. (They are tacked down at the points.)
This is from the book Moda Candy - Oh Sew Sweet!. I had never used Moda Candy (precut 2 1/2" squares) and I loved it! The background is made with some neutrals that I had in my stash.

Aren't these prairie points cute? They are each made from two pieces of candy. The straight line machine quilting is what the book suggested - very easy and fast!
 And here is the back with a few pieces of candy that were extra.


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