Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

I started getting ready today for the Big Day – for the uninitiated, that is Thanksgiving, not Black Friday (I like eating better than shopping) - by baking the traditional pumpkin pie:
And then the trouble started:
As I was putting the pie in the oven, the flimsy aluminum pie pan buckled and out plopped at least a quarter of the filling onto the oven door.  I was able to clean most of that up without toasting my fingers, but there wasn’t anything I could do about the parts of the crust that got covered in filling and then naturally got burnt to a crisp.  So I just cut the crimped part of the crust off.  And made another pie.  I’ll have to sacrifice myself and eat the ugly pie all by myself.  Not a bad plan …

But then I got an email that a LQS was having a volunteer event to make quilts for 19 local children in a marathon event one evening next week.  What fun!  Of course, I signed up.  I’ll be taking two kits that I had made up while my machine was out for repair.  This is one:
Aren’t those monsters cute?!  I've had them a long time and it's time for them to go to some little boy somewhere.  I hope to remember to take my camera to the event!

As Fall turns to Winter, may you and yours enjoy the blessings of Thanksgiving

Monday, November 21, 2011

I'm Back Sewing!!

My sewing machine is back home and currently working well.  I’m not getting my hopes up yet because the problem took 3-4 days to show back up again the last time I thought it had been repaired.  But I was able to accomplish something yesterday and I’m in a good mood again – that’s a plus!
I made bindings for the quilts waiting for them – I added the border quilting on one quilt and I got the binding sewn down on another … I’m on a roll now, but I am being careful with my machine.

(left) Borders Quilted and (right) Bound
Of course, I took the opportunity when I picked my machine up to select and purchase a few more homespun fabrics – lighter colors that I was lacking.  Can’t let those good 40-50% off coupons go to waste …
More Homespun Fabric
Spoiler Alert:
I’m about to describe a few walks and at the end I have a picture of a snake – so if you don’t like snakes at all, stop reading after the two bird pictures (you won’t see the snake picture because there is text first)!

So to continue -  I guess the silver lining to the machine being down was that I did take a few extra long walks.  I went to a new neighborhood where the sidewalk became a wooden walkway through a wetlands area then came back out and went back to being concrete.  It was very pretty (and much cooler!) in the cypress woods and I took a few pictures:
Fall foliage on the boardwalk thru the wetlands

White Heron
Gorgeous day with a breeze blowing the palms

A new pond with a dock (that's an Ibis, too)
And now for the little guy I saw on the way back.  This Peninsula Ribbon snake is semi-aquatic and totally harmless.  It has brown and cream color alternating ribbon markings down the length of its body with a cream color belly.  It feeds on small fishes, frogs, salamanders and earthworms.  It is often found in marshes and cypress stands like the one that I saw this one in.
It has a very pretty round eye that is black surrounded by a gold ring then a rusty brown color.
This guy stayed motionless and tried to act nonchalant until he saw I wasn’t going to threaten him and then he went on his merry way and disappeared in search of dinner.  If I can’t have a nice Black Snake (they eat venomous snakes and other creepy undesirables around your house), then I like this guy that helps to keep populations in balance.  To read more (yes, some of you do) go to:

Oh, and I can't forget that I have this fun Lil' Twister project waiting for me!

Monday, November 14, 2011

A Designer and Gardening

I tend to gravitate towards animal prints when selecting fabrics for quilts for children.  You might recognize some of the artwork of Sue Zipkin because you can see her designs on greeting cards, paper products, scrapbook materials and other things in addition to fabric.  Aren’t these adorable?!
And this is Sue Zipkin.  Check out her home page and see her extra special, vibrant watercolor butterfly.
Two fabric lines that Clothworks has out now are Cool Cats and Froggin:

Click on the links under the photos to see all of the colorways and fabrics in these lines.  Sue and Clothworks are also sponsoring two free quilt patterns designed around these collections.  Click on these photos to go to a .pdf file with directions:

My own special animal was supervising my gardening this past weekend.  Here she is directing which overgrown flowers needed to be cut down and replaced.
And here are the before and after shots – I put in pansies for the winter since the local newspaper advised they should make it through the winter in my area.  Good luck, Pansies!

I also did a little cleaning up in the sewing room and ran across this beginning of a homespun fabric top.  There are lots of pieces cut out in various size squares and logs and I had started putting them together.  Apparently, they had gotten set aside and forgotten.  Now that I want to put them together I don’t have a working sewing machine – heavy sigh.  Maybe I’ll get the call tomorrow to pick up my machine!

It's a start!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Exploring Fabric Designers

I have been continuing my journey of exploration into discovering who designs the fabrics I like to use when making quilts for children.  I was at a local quilt shop recently and put several fabric collections onto my Christmas Wish List.  Then I looked into the very talented people that put these collections together.

First up is Richard Neuman:
Richard holds a bachelor’s degree in advertising design and a master’s degree in art graphics.  His paintings and designs are held in high regard by many patrons worldwide, and he includes  clients among large corporations such as GE and John Deere.  His artistic efforts include whimsical renditions of tractors, barns, lighthouses and much  more.  To learn more about the background of this talented man, see

Have you ever met a kid that could resist watching heavy machinery?  Me neither (and not just the boys … just sayin’)!  Well, during his varied career, Richard (as illustrator) partnered with author Stacey Gabel and introduced the early reader series of books for children with “The New Blue Tractor”.  Check out these darling books for children who love machines at his website:
Some of Richard’s designs are now available in the Clothworks Textiles collections.  Two of my favorites are “Ready Go” and “Choo Choo You” (I’m a BIG train lover!):
Clothworks has also sponsored free patterns for quilters.  Click on the links under the pictures above to take you to .pdf files of the free patterns shown here.

To see all of the fabrics in each of these collections, click on the following links.
Ready Go:
Choo Choo You:

Another talented designer tomorrow!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Veteran's Day on 11/11/11

There has been a lot of buzz this year about how special today is for numerology because of the number alignment of this date, but what happened 100 years ago on another 11/11/11?  Well, on 11/11/1911, the Great Blue Norther (a major cold snap) set record highs and record lows on the same day in many cities in the Midwest.  Freaky, huh?!  Now was that attributed to Global Warming?    I bet not.

But, today is also, and most importantly, celebrated as Veteran’s Day in the USA. 
Did you know that Veteran’s Day has its roots in the armistice of World War I?  The cessation of hostilities between the Allies and Germany in 1918 went into effect at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month (11 o’clock on 11/11).  The actual Treaty of Versailles was not to be signed until seven months later in June of 1919.
The picture above depicts soldiers of the 353rd Infantry near a church at Stenay, Meuse, in France as they wait for an end to the hostilities.  It was taken at 10:58, two minutes before the Armistice went into effect.

In November of 1919, President Wilson proclaimed November 11th as Armistice Day – a day set aside to honor the veterans of the First World War.  That war – known as the Great War - was thought (and hoped) to be the “war to end all wars”.

But in 1954, the 83rd Congress replaced the word “Armistice” with “Veteran’s” in order to also honor all of the valiant personnel that had served in World War II and in the Korean conflict.  When President Eisenhower signed the legislation into effect, November 11 became the day to honor and celebrate the heroism of all veterans of all wars.

Today we salute and thank all Veterans who served in any of the Armed Forces. 

And if you are a quilter, you might want to check into Quilts of Valor at  Their mission is to “cover all combat service members and veterans touched by war with comforting and healing Quilts of Valor.”
Stars and Stripes Quilt for QOV from
that donated fabric and sponsors a QOV group
The QOV organization has given out over 57,000 quilts, but unfortunately, they need quilts now … because we haven’t learned how to end all wars.  May we sometime find Peace and bring all of our service members home. 

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Interesting Textiles

I’m spending my time until my machine comes back from repair by doing a little gardening and researching textiles.  If I can’t play with fabric then I’ll drool over all of the lovely designs and dream of what I’ll be making next!

One of the early textile designers I’ve discovered is William Morris of the United Kingdom.  Not only are his designs beautiful, the history of his design enterprise, Morris & Company, is as fascinating as the man himself. 
Portrait by Frederick Hollyer in the
Victoria and Albert Museum, London
William Morris (1834 – 1896) was inspired by his love of medieval art and worked to revive craftsmanship, particularly hand crafting.  He thought such a revival would engender a love of their work in his workers and greatly improve their satisfaction of their jobs.  Morris was also an ardent socialist, scholar, translator, publisher and environmental campaigner … many of his ideas were ahead of his time.  He is now thought to be the most influential designer of the nineteenth century and Morris & Company continues to produce authentic reproductions of his fabrics and wallpapers along with new interpretations.

1883 - Indigo discharged and block printed
cotton on display at the Victoria and Albert
 Museum in London
Morris’ most famous maxim is:
“Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.”

The United Kingdom’s Royal Mail celebrated Morris & Company’s 150th Anniversary this year by issuing stamps depicting Morris’ designs.  Here are some of them:
You can find out more about them at:

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Good Ol' Days and a Walk

Since I’m without my sewing machine, I thought I’d take you on a short trip down memory lane.  I guess these prices are from before many of us were born, but it sure would be nice to see something like this in a store today!
Photo from
And since it was so nice outside this morning, I went for an extra long walk.  I took my camera and was watching for Fall colors (not the norm for many of the trees in Florida).  I found lots, including berries, muhly grass, zinnias and marigolds:

And I saw this fabulous orchid growing in the crook of a tree in a nearby neighborhood.  Isn't this amazing?!!  I sure wish my puny little orchid would grow like this ...

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Daylight Savings Time and a Quilt

It’s time for my regular rant about Daylight Savings Time.  I never miss an opportunity to display my misery about time changes – it’s unnatural to mess with Time!  You can read more about the origins of the DST abomination at this postI won’t bore you with it again!

But that having been said – don’t forget to set back your clocks tonight … and change the batteries in your smoke alarms.  Just my Word to the Wise.
I quilted the interior of the last of the tops waiting in line today.  This one still needs the borders quilted on my Viking that is in the repair shop and to be bound, of course.  I just did a simple meandering for the quilting – it’s a good strong design for utility quilts for children.

This is the stack that I have now waiting for bindings:
I might just have to take my Janome off of the frame and put it on the table so I can keep sewing.  It’s been dedicated to being on the frame since it is just a straight-stitch machine.  And it’s always a bit of a nuisance to remove it from the frame (and it’s very heavy).  I have to take off the take-up rail that runs through the throat of the machine and then have to get a wrench and take apart some of the rack it is sitting in since it is partially enclosed.
But if I can sew on a few bindings until my other machine comes back, I guess that will be making progress.  Attitude is everything and I’ll just have to pretend it’s an adventure!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Machine Troubles Again

Once again I was devastated when the needle struck the plate of my sewing machine.  I had only had it back from the repair shop a few days and the shaft is still out of alignment with the hole in the plate ... so back to the shop it went.  I immediately sank into a deep funk.

Meanwhile, I had to stop into a quilt shop very near to my house (for mental health purposes only).  I was sure glad I did!  This was my first time there and I liked just about everything that Crafty Threads sells ... very dangerous to my credit card.

I had already started my Christmas list and the Lil' Twister tool was on it - and wouldn't you know that this shop sold them.   Just too much of a coincidence in my troubled state of mind.  I swooped right on it and I have begun cutting out 5 inch squares from my stash (remember my supposed austerity plan where I don't spend much? - well, at least I'm using my stash!).  And I can feel good that I can still accomplish something "quilty" related while my machine gets repaired!  The lighting wasn't good for this photo, but I'll post more pictures when the top gets started.
If you haven't seen one of these quilts made up, Moda Fabrics featured several on their blog:
The possibilities are endless!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Halloween Go OK?

So how was your Halloween last night?  I felt sorry for the kids in the northeast US that had to trudge through the snow and ice to get their traditional Treats.  We had a great evening and the night was clear and crisp after the early morning rain.  We had over 100 kids come knocking and some of the cutest little kids' costumes - really clever this year.  This is a shot of the dog next door with his Hot Dog costume.
My poor dog only got a Halloween bandana (well, maybe she was the lucky one)!

So to take my mind off of the leftover candy, I walked up to the drugstore (a mile up there) dragging my bag of library books (at least 20 lbs - ok, maybe it only felt that way) and back to the library (another mile) to exchange the books and then back home (at least 10 miles - oh, just kidding!).  And I found this book to distract me:
I might read, take a nap, and then sew a little today!  There'll be time to garden tomorrow.