Thursday, January 31, 2013

2013 NewFO Challenge January Update

This year I am doing the 2013 NewFO Challenge over at Cat Patches. I wrote about it here. So, per the rules, I need to start at least one new project each month but I don't need to finish anything! Perfect Challenge! You can see what everyone else is doing here.

Here is my January report:
1) I began the year with a baby quilt and I finished it!
The little guy is expected in March; the baby shower is in February.
2) I began and finished two quilts for my mom's home!

Delivered on 1/29/13.
3) I began Spring Bouquet, an Edyta Sitar quilt.
I am using fabric silhouettes so I just had to fuse the  laser cut pieces. Now I have to stitch around each piece. That might take a while - I'll update my progress.
There are 4 borders hanging on the right. 
4) I began the 5th Anniversary Quilt at Lucky2BQuilting. It's a BOM and I have the January block done!
This one will take at least a year!

5) I bought a kit last fall at a shop going out of business. This flannel snowman quilt is a Yellow Brick Road. I started cutting it out in early January and finally sewed some of it together at Lucky 2B Quilting Camp on January 21. It still needs the borders.

Woo Hoo -I finished 40% and I didn't have to finish any - does that make me an overachiever?! Or just a person who flits from one project to another?!

Knitted Socks - Done!

I have finished my first KAL (knit along). 
My socks are finished! 
Woo Hoo!!!

As I was knitting, I wrote about my 
Crimple socks here and here

Michelle Hunter, the Knit Purl Hunter
was great and her videos are priceless.

I learned LOTS: 
how to do Judy's Magic Cast On,
how to read a chart,
how to use lifelines,
how to knit short row heels 
including wraps and turns and picking up wraps,
the sewn bind off

My socks are a tad too big 
but still wearable 
and wear them I will!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

We have weather!

One of our 'local' weathermen nearest TV station is 65 miles away said our weather this week is the craziest he has seen in his 14 years in our area!  

Sunday - we had freezing temperatures and ice.

Monday - our schools were closed due to ice. By Monday afternoon we had sunny skies and temps in the 50s! Then we had thunderstorms all night.

Tuesday - we woke up to more thunderstorms. The temperature rose to 62 degrees but dropped rapidly when more rain arrived in the afternoon.

Today, Wednesday - we woke up to a dusting of snow. It is now noon and we have more than 5" of heavy wet snow. The schools are out. 

We are not done! It is still snowing and the temperature is dropping lower and lower - single digits or below zero temps by tomorrow and even colder by Friday.

A great day to quilt or knit! So glad I can just stay inside.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Quilts Delivered - Wow!

We delivered the quilts to Mom's home this morning. Lots of oohing and aahing! The camera phones came out and pictures were immediately shipped off to the CEO! An interview was interrupted so the director could see the quilts! Whoa - this was a little overwhelming for me!

Some of the residents remembered painting the squares. They all checked out the quilts and some pointed out their blocks. A former policeman, the fellow who painted the police car, teared up - he said he now felt a part of something!

Eventually I explained the choices for the piecing and quilting. The stars in the corners of the sashing are for the staff and the residents - they are all stars! The hearts quilted in the sashing symbolize the love of that home. And the paisley quilted in the outside border symbolizes that we are all connected in this journey.

I am so glad we had the opportunity to be there this morning for the unveiling. The first quilt was hung before we left and the second will be hung later today(?) - as soon as they get the necessary hardware.

It is an honor to be a part of this special project!

Monday, January 28, 2013

Quilts for Mom's Home

My mom taught me to sew when I was 4 years old. She was a fantastic seamstress but never a quilter! When I tried to teach her to quilt over 10 years ago, she was already affected by Alzheimer's and couldn't sew any more.

Mom lives in an Alzheimer's home where there are only 24 residents with a fantastic, loving, caring staff. Last November the assistant director and I were talking and she said they would like the residents to make a quilt. Because of Mom's beautiful quilts, she assumed I knew someone who quilted - guess I'd never shared that I was a quilter!

Anyway, together we devised a plan. The residents would paint on fabric and I would put the squares together into a quilt. It sounded so simple!

I washed white Kona Cotton and ironed each square onto freezer paper. Then the residents, some with help, painted on each square. The acrylic paint was mixed with fabric medium.

Note: when fabric painting, somehow block off the seam allowances. Maybe tape an inch around the outside of the block with painter's tape. Wonder why I didn't think of that!

I got the blocks in late December and then had to decide the layout. I had many ideas since I'd been thinking about this for awhile. As I put the squares on the design wall, it quickly became clear that with the busyness of the quilt blocks, the setting had to be very simple. I also had size limitations since the quilts(s) would be hung in a certain area. So I decided on a simple 3 by 4 arrangement for two 'identical' quilts.
There is a tiny heart quilted in Dorathy's block.

The staff at Mom's home often wear green polo shirts. When deciding on the color for the sashing and border, I realized I had this green in my stash that would be perfect. It was bright and matched the green in those shirts.
My very first attempt at thread painting!
Of course I had never quilted anything painted. I decided to use Dream Poly - it only had to be quilted every 12". That meant I would not have to do any quilting in the painted squares. The machine quilting went well. I had some quilting paper so I drew a little heart pattern in the sashing. The borders are done in my favorite Paisley - I hope the residents like the texture.
I really need to talk with that Packer fan - we are Bear's fan in this house!
These quilts will be hanging in an Alzheimer's home; they have to be washable. I was nervous to put these into the washing machine. The blocks were painted with acrylic paint with textile medium added. I set each block with my iron not once, but three times!  It took me forever to hand stitch the binding on the first quilt because I was procrastinating - I was afraid to wash the quilts. I finally put the first quilt in the machine with a little prayer and it came out fine! The second binding was finished and that quilt laundered the same day! 
Paisley quilting - I'm improving!
The quilts are ready to be delivered. It was my honor to share in this activity. I learned lots! I know some of the residents will be able to pick out their blocks; it will be fun to share the quilts with them tomorrow.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Not much quilting going on...

I'm not doing much quilting or sewing but I am spending LOTS of time in my sewing rooms. The rooms will be changed a bit and I have decided to clean EVERYTHING! That means going through every piece of fabric, every notion, every gadget,... Why? Because it needs to be done!

Yes, I have sewing rooms - I took over the 2nd floor of our 1-1/2 story house when the boys moved out. The front dormer became my sewing room the day we moved into the house in 1979. Everything is a mess right now but I'll show you anyway. I have done lots of work since taking the photos. And some rooms look even worse!

At the top of the stairs, when one enters the room, this is the view:

When I sit in my chair and look left:

And when I look right:

I am almost done in this room now and it is quite empty. We still need to move out the old buffet - can you see it in the second picture above? Sadly, it will have to be destroyed since it is too big to get out of the room or to go down the steps. It's a long story as to how it got here but it has been in the dormer since 10 years before we bought the house!

At the top of the stairs, if you turn left, you enter our guest room. But right now it is the overflow room while I am cleaning. We aren't planning on any overnight guests for a while - whew! Yes, that is my beautiful quilt cabinet in the back left corner. And I guess the sun was really shining when I took this photo.

At the top of the stairs, if you turn right, you enter a huge mess:
The bins in the back right corner have been cleaned - yes I pressed and refolded all of the fabric which is sorted by color.

Looking back towards the stairwell wall:
My cutting table is being replaced. Since I snapped this photo, it has been loaded with stuff.

A peek around the table. Oh what a mess!

Did you happen to notice the white doors in some of the pictures? They are doors to our large dormer closets - four of them. I only use one for sewing and craft items. I will clean that too.

I can't wait to be done! I am very anxious to get my new tables, to be organized, and to sit down and quilt! 

Friday, January 25, 2013

Going, going, gone...maybe!

Our house is a 1920 Sears house that we have remodeled over the years. We have lived here since 1979.  The biggest remodel was in 1989 when we took down the back wall and added a family room across the entire back of the house. We didn't actually take down the wall - we paid people to do that!

Last year we went to a program put on by the University of Illinois Extension and became better educated about radon gas. Our area of Illinois is known to have high radon levels so we tested our home for radon gas with a short-term test kit.  As expected, the test came back high so we did a long-term test. When it came back high, we knew it was time to get something done.

Two fellows arrived early yesterday morning to follow the plan that was worked out last week.

The plan (in limited detail):
1. Make a hole in the basement floor and run a pipe to the basement ceiling.
This pipe is right in front of a beam so it is not in the way.
This was the only glitch. The hole in the basement floor hit clay right away so they did a second floor-to-ceiling pipe in a different spot of the basement using a second hole in the floor. We actually will have cleaner air with the second pipe added!

2. A ceiling pipe connects the floor-to-ceiling pipes and is run back through the exercise room and exits the house through the wall of the exercise room. This ceiling pipe also connects to a couple of other pipes going to different areas in the basement.

3. The exit pipe is then put up the side of the house until it is just above the house. There is a small fan that draws the gas from the house, up the suction tube, releasing the gas above the house so it dissipates into the open air.
The closet 'pipe is the down spout. The radon pipe is the second one back in the picture - it has the 'bump'.
The two guys worked until 7:30 or 8:00 last night with no breaks! They really wanted to finish but they didn't quite make it. One had to come back today and seal all of the cracks in our 90-year old basement.

Now it's time for another test. I'm sure the levels of radon will be lower. Hopefully they'll be under the acceptable levels. This 'home repair' expense was reasonable - it was definitely worth the money to lower our chance of lung cancer. Did you know that radon gas is the number one cause of lung cancer in non-smokers?

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Another try at a sweater

I made a sweater late last year, you can see it here. I liked it but it had issues v-neck I didn't like, body too short, sleeves too long so I decided to try it again while resolving the issues. This sweater which is the same pattern, has a crew neck. This sweater is longer and the sleeves are shorter. 

Not the best picture...
It fits! I like it! 

As far as issues - I wish the sleeves were 1/2 inch longer and the body was about an inch shorter! But it will be great to wear with jeans. 

Our weather is turning much colder as I write this and I think I'll be wearing this sweater to a hockey game tomorrow. 

That first sweater - the one with the v-neck - has been frogged that is knitter talk for torn apart. I like the yarn and will find a use for it, I'm sure!

Friday, January 18, 2013

Knitting socks, part 2

I am following the Crimple knit along (KAL) at Knit Purl Hunter for socks.  In week 1, we  knit the toe. In week 2, we knit the foot. Now week 2 would have been fast IF you had a small foot! I knit and knit and knit and finally had the foot long enough! Then I had to do it again for the second sock! Why are my feet so big???! I actually finished clue 2 yesterday two hours after clue 3 came out.
That is a neat little lace pattern - wonder if the lace will go any further. Time will tell. 

It is currently week 3 - the heel. 
 And the bottom of the socks.
I'm learning all kinds of new things. Michelle of Knit Purl Hunter has excellent instructions and videos for each concept - so nice!

OK, I am caught up - no clue until next Thursday. Time to clean do laundry cook quilt!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Goodbye to a Friend

This past week has been difficult. I've had to say goodbye to a friend. I met Becky when I began teaching at the college in the fall of 1979. We became friends. We remained colleagues until I retired in 2005. She continued teaching until 2007. We both had brothers, no sisters. We both married men who did not have sisters. When we met, Becky had a little boy and a baby girl. I had a little boy the same age as Becky's and was pregnant. Becky was 12 days older than me. Our husbands shared our birth year. We both grew up on farms. We both commuted 30 miles to school. Neither of our families lived within an hour's drive. Becky and I both loved sewing - we both became quilters. We both enjoyed knitting. We both loved baking and Becky made the absolute best pies, especially pecan, that I have ever eaten. 

In our division at the college, there weren't many women so the few of us became close. We shared our joys and sorrows. We shared business trips. We shared our lives.  We came to love one another as sisters. 

The day our first grandchild was born, I was teaching. Our son was in contact with me off and on throughout the morning. At one point I hadn't heard from him in an hour and a half. Becky urged me to call - "We have to know!". I did finally call his cell and talked with Brad in the delivery room. It was the first time I heard baby Grace cry!  

Becky was helping load cattle Wednesday morning as she had done many, many times before. A cow hit the gate she was holding and knocked her down and unconscious. Before anyone could get to her, a cow stepped on her chest. Becky was airlifted but they could not get her heart going again.

It was an honor to know Becky and to call her a friend.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

First quilting project of 2013

First new project of the year - a baby boy quilt! This quilt is for our nephew and his wife. (I'm sure they don't read this blog - at least I hope not!)

I purchased some fabric for baby quilts when the Backyard Quilt Shop in Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin, was going out of business late last year.

I pulled out the baby boy fabrics - all flannels.
Then I added a little more from my stash and changed things a bit.
After piecing the middle 25 squares, it was time to decide on the inner border. That plain blue on the left was just blah. The yellow on the left was too soft.
I love my new design wall!
I finally decided on a green cotton for the inner border.

The quilting slowed me down - I just didn't know what to do. After searching thru my books from Leah Day and searching her website, I decided on Echo Shell for the 25 inner squares. 

Last year I followed the 2012 FMQ Challenge. The December expert was Patsy Thompson who did a tutorial on borders. I found it interesting but I didn't have time to try it in December. Now it was time to revisit that tutorial and try it.

The inside, green border is done with a back and forth wiggled about 1/2 inch apart with the corners done in a teardrop. The outside border was done with a walking foot. I drew lines about 1 1/2 inches apart.  

The back is that plain blue that I rejected for the front.
I really like the effect of the different quilting motifs in each border.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Knitting socks

I am following my very first Knit Along. I have lots of experience with Quilt Alongs but this is new. I am doing Crimple with Knit Purl Hunter. This week we are doing the toes.

I am using CoBaSi yarn - it is 3-ply cotton, bamboo, and silk with a little nylon, I think.
Size 2 needles are tiny!

The toes are done! 
Next week, I'll switch yarns so each sock has both colors.

And now, it is time to do some quilting!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Cookie Baking

Our Annual Pre-Christmas Cookie Baking with son Brent and his family did not happen. There just wasn't time. But whoever said you had to do cutout cookies before Christmas? We did them on New Year's Eve. 

Brent, Mack, and Griffin came to help Grandma and Grandpa make cookies. Emily was busy at home and sent the guys. 

Everyone put on aprons and then had a quick lesson on using the "roller" as Mack named the rolling pin. Mack like rolling out dough - he rolled out his dough after each cookie!
Griffy learned so much that he could used the "roller" while looking the other way!
 They cut out cookies using lots of flour! You never have too much flour!
 They decorated cookies using lots of sprinkles and sugars.
 They frosted some of the cookies and then decorated them.
Dough was tasted. Frosting was tasted. Cookies were sampled. A good time was had by all!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

New Year and New Recipe

Happy New Year! 
13 is a luck number in our family 
so we are very optimistic about 2013!

Today is very low key here. Absolutely nothing on the agenda! We did have a great breakfast though and I thought you might like the recipe.

Have you ever visited Our Best Bites? They have some really good recipes. That's where I found Overnight Baked French Toast.

I made a couple of small changes. Sorry I didn't take pictures before it was all gone! Here is my version:

Overnight Baked French Toast
(original recipe from

8 eggs

3 cups skim milk
6 tablespoons brown sugar

1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon salt 
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1 lb loaf of french bread


4 tablespoons packed brown sugar

4 tablespoons white sugar

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

2 tablespoons cold butter

Butter bottom and sides of a 9×13 baking dish.

Cut bread into 1" chunks and place in pan.

Whisk eggs and milk together. Whisk in brown sugar, cinnamon, salt and vanilla.  

Pour egg mixture over bread and gently toss to be sure all bread is mixed in. Spread out evenly, cover dish, and place in fridge overnight.

Topping: Mix sugars, cinnamon and nutmeg in a bowl. Cut in butter. Cover and place in fridge until morning.

In the morning: Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Remove covering from baking dish and sprinkle topping evenly over top.  Bake for 40-50 minutes or until top is golden brown. 

You can stick a knife or skewer in the casserole to make sure the egg mixture is set on the bottom. 

Let cool for 5-10 minutes before cutting into squares. 

Drizzle with melted butter and syrup
Or top with berries and whipped cream 
Or sprinkle with powdered sugar


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