Thursday, April 28, 2011

Not Like the Others...

One of these things is not like the others...  Remember that old Sesame Street song?  Now, applying your keen powers of differentiation, can you tell what about the bottom row in my Hands2Help quilt is not like the others?

Actually, there are two things, but I'm talking about the one thing that I will probably have to unsew/fix.  I say "probably" because it doesn't bug me all that much, and I kind of like the way it affects the outside edge.

Did you find it?   The part that may require a seam ripper is that I have the horizontal rails upside down in the last row.

So tell me, what would you do?  Leave it or fix it?  I'm just curious.

You may also have noticed that I'm using a solid red versus a print in the bottom row.  That's because I ran out of one of the red print fabrics, which I figured I might, but I'm okay with that.  It's actually even less noticeable in natural light, without the camera flash.  And I might even reshuffle the blocks so it's more scrappy overall and less obvious than a whole row of a different fabric.  I'll play with that idea.  Of course if I do that, I'll definitely fix those blocks first.

I didn't keep up with my 15 Minute Challenge chart this past week, but I have spent quite a bit of time in the sewing room on this particular quilt top, and I am happy with the progress made on it.

On a sad note, my former neighbor, for whom I made this quilt a couple months ago, lost her battle with cancer on Tuesday.  

Dad had stopped in to see her on Monday, and she was sleeping but did rouse to say a few words.  She had the quilt over her.  It is good to know it provided some comfort to her in her final days.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Up and Away


What is that sound? I wondered as I opened my eyes on Sunday.  I had already been woken up a half hour earlier by the sound of one neighbor across the street firing up his John Deere lawn tractor before 7:00 a.m.


I couldn't quite put my finger on this noise, however.  Maybe it was my next-door neighbor trying, unsuccessfully, to start his lawn tractor in the garage after a winter of sitting idle.  Yeah, that must be it, I reckoned.


Give it up, dude, it's not going to turn over.  At this point, I was fully awake, so I got up and went downstairs.  The noise continued in regular bursts, about every 20 to 30 seconds.  I cranked open the windows over the sink to discern which direction it was coming from.  To the left, there was only a parking lot full of cars at the Lutheran church for sunrise service.  Straight ahead, I could see nothing unusual in the athletic field beyond the trees.


With the windows open, it sounded like a rush of gas (no, not that kind), and it seemed to be coming from the right.

I turned my head to see the cause of it, rising up over my neighbor's house.

"Whoa, it's a hot air balloon!" I yelled to my husband who was still in bed, trying to catch a few more winks.  "I'm going out to see it up close."  

After all, it's not every day you see a hot air balloon a stone's throw from your house!

I stood between my neighbor's arbor vitaes, trying to be as unobtrusive as an extremely tall woman still in her PJs with bed head can be.  The balloon was tethered in the empty lot that I walk through on my way to work.  In a few minutes, an older woman walked over to me and introduced herself.  She lived in the next block and said her son was visiting from Rhinelander, Wisconsin where he had recently started a ballooning business.  They were having a family reunion this weekend, and he promised his nieces and nephews he'd take them up in his balloon.  The kids had apparently decided to sleep in, however, as they weren't there yet.

One of the men in the balloon was giving his wife below his coffee order, as she was going to make a run.  It was surprising how clearly you could hear him from that vantage point.  He hardly had to raise his voice above normal conversation level.  There was absolutely no wind.  

The sun illuminated the bright design on the balloon, named "The Sleeping Mexican."  The story was that the balloon had been purchased from a former test pilot.  The test pilot, an Hispanic man, was known for taking his aircraft up to 80,000 feet, putting it on autopilot, and taking a nap.  When he retired, he had this balloon made, nicknamed it after himself, and enjoyed it for several years before deciding to sell it to its new owner, the man currently ordering coffee from the basket.

I'd never given much thought to a hot air balloon ride before today.  Seeing how peaceful and relaxing it seemed to be, I think it'd be a blast. 

I walked home after a few minutes, and the sound continued for about another hour and then was gone.  I hope the kids got their rides!

Hands2Help Update - Week 1

Happy Easter!  Hope you are having a good day.

I got started on the H2H charity quilt project yesterday.  These are the fabrics my swap partner, Sharon, sent me.  Aren't those kids adorable?

I played around with a few ideas and color combinations, pulling some more from stash to augment the grouping.

Ultimately, I decided the front will be a basket weave rail fence design with red, cream/tan, and blue.  A patriotic quilt was not my intent, but there's no getting around that it's probably going to look that way, and that's fine with me.  By the way, did you know the flag of Romania is red, yellow, and blue?

The back will incorporate these fabrics.  Not sure exactly how it's going to come together, but I'll cross that bridge when I get there!

I'm linking to Sarah's Hands2Help progress post today, and she suggested we give a random fact about ourselves:

I've never had motion sickness until a couple of years ago when a virtual ride in Las Vegas about did me in.  About halfway through it, I closed my eyes and was surprised to realize that the motion of the ride was no worse than that of driving over some potholes, and the queasiness soon subsided.  Unfortunately, I missed the fun action on the screen, but I kept my cookies and my dignity intact!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Easter Paper-Pieced Project Done!

Jumping jellybeans! I actually have a finish this week!  It feels like it's been such a looooong time since I've gotten something completely done, not just to the flimsy status, but quilted and bound.

Okay, so it's only 24 x 24 inches, but my delight is as big as a house!

This Easter table topper/wall hanging was Becky's design for the Paper Pieced Quilt-Along she is leading at Sarcastic Quilter.  I was a little apprehensive about paper piecing, but her videos 'splained it all so well that it finally clicked.  Thank you, Becky!

I can't take credit for the color combination, as I had her pattern in hand when I bought fabric.  I liked the springy-ness of her color scheme and followed it as closely as I could.

Now the back, that is me going off the rails.  I made the crumb block (not paper pieced) from scraps left over from the front, framed it in green, and then added an outer border from stash.  The paisley print is from the April in Paris line by Timeless Treasures.  It coordinated perfectly.

Who cares if it looks like an Easter basket exploded, it's reversible!

Be sure to hop over to Sarah's and the others in her Friday linky, Can I Get a Whoop-Whoop?  Happy Easter!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

15-Minute Challenge Weekly Update

I'm a day late posting my 15-Minute Challenge stats for the week, but I am nevertheless happy to report that those little bits of time did add up to something in the way of a finish.

The week didn't start out well, as I seemed to have gotten comfortable in the habit of not doing anything sewing related for a few days.  How easy it is to fall into that pattern.  On Tuesday, I did manage to throw some fabric for a pair of scrub pants into the washer and dryer. Does that count?  Okay, probably not.

Things picked up on Wednesday when I thought I'd take 15 minutes to remove the paper from the paper-pieced blocks.  Ha!  Fortunately, there was something interesting on TV to take my mind off the fact that the paper was not going to go quietly.  Various implements and maneuvers were employed to separate the reluctant vellum from the fabric while simultaneously trying to preserve the stitches and not stretch the shape.  I could have torn all my hair out faster than it seemed to take to remove the foundation paper on those blocks—and I'm pretty sure I would have, had there been more than four squares to deal with.

At any rate, the momentum continued through the rest of the week, and I got the backing for the paper pieced project made and started quilting it on the weekend.  My Juki sewing machine came through nicely (no bobbin winding issues).  Come back Friday for pictures of the finished project!

A peek at the back of  the paper-pieced Easter Table Topper.
This week, the mailman brought a package from my Hands2Help Charity Quilt swap partner, Sharon, on Monday.  Here are the fabrics she sent:

Aren't those kids cute?  The wheels are turning as to what I'm going to make, and I'm sure I'll settle on a plan soon enough.  We have a couple months to get these quilts finished and mailed in, which is good because I need to finish some other PhDs (Projects Half Done), in the meantime!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Monday Miscellaney

Since I haven't been doing the Sunday Sundry posts for a few weeks, I have random photos on my camera that haven't gone anywhere...until today.  I kept thinking I'd get around to posting them somehow, but it never quite happened. 

I'm mailing off my Hands2Help Charity Quilt swap fabrics to my partner today.  I have had some of these in stash for a while, ever intending to put them together into some quilt creation, but it never quite materialized (ha, pun).  So we'll see what my partner comes up with!

I'm working on quilting the paper pieced wall hanging.  I got the backing for it sewn together on Saturday and got it basted.  Started quilting it last night but when I ran out of bobbin thread, I called it quits for the night, as I was getting tired.  I was quilting along to banjo music, if you can believe it, and it was really carrying me along.  I hope to finish it up this afternoon.

I found a couple of quilt kits at Goodwill.  I know, right?  There are 22 fat quarters in each, plus 1/2 yard of binding fabric!!  Not sure if I'll follow the pattern included or add them to stash.  They supposedly each make a decent-sized quilt.

See the words on the sides of the box?  Traditional...eclectic...yep, that's me; flip a coin!

I did a couple quick posts over at The Pyrex Collective last week, HERE and HERE.  

I baked some super-size muffins in ^that^ Pyrex gravy boat.  Fun!

Alarm Quack
There is a nesting pair of mallards frequenting the yard this spring.  The other morning, I woke up to quack-quack-quack-ing that sounded like it was right outside my window.  I got up and looked out but couldn't see anything—until I saw them fly down from the roof!

What the...Hail? 
A couple Sunday mornings ago, we were doused with a several-minute hailstorm that covered the grass like snow.  They were the size of peas...or maybe big Dippin' Dots...and took half the day to melt.

My husband had bought me the Steve Martin "Crow" CD for Christmas.  You can hear/see him perform the title track below.  It will continue to be the soundtrack to sewing this afternoon. Hope your week moves along to a peppy tune!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Por Arriba, Por Abajo

During my 15-Minute Challenge (turned one hour) sessions this week, I finished the paper-pieced Easter table topper flimsy.  Needs quilting, etc., which I hope to finish this weekend between work assignments and whatever folly comes my way.

I took this photo in front of my patio door to get whatever light I could on the subject on this cold, gray day.  The 80-degree sunshine of last weekend has been replaced by a steady rain/snow and temps in the mid-30s today.

After I moved the flimsy, I lay on the floor in the same spot and looked up through the patio door at the sky.

Interesting contrast, huh?  I didn't change these to black and white; they're right out of the camera.

A good day to be in the sewing room.

Sometimes we have to create our own sunshine.

The post title translates to "From Above, From Below."  It's also the title to a Ricky Martin song that'll get your booty moving. 

Monday, April 11, 2011


How YOU doin'?

Recent thrift store find from a friend for my collection!

That's what I imagine these horses are saying as they have a little confab over the fence.  It's also what I'm wondering of my fellow 15-Minute Challenge peeps.  I'm sure to find out soon enough when Kate has the linky up tomorrow.  If I don't post this now,though, it may never get done.

I missed the party last week, but I have been keeping track.  Here are the stats from the past two weeks.

I didn't do so well this weekend (insert excuses here...i.e., I had company, had to get ready for company, worked, spent time outside on Sunday because it was 80 degrees—woot!—and so on).

I'm hoping to get back on the horse this week.  So, how YOU doin'?

Another challenge I want to mention is the Hands2Help Charity Quilt Challenge that Sarah and Judi are collaborating on. 

Hands2Help Button

Sign-ups are going on this week, and you can find all the details by clicking the link or the button over on the sidebar.  It is such a worthy cause, and sounds like a lot of fun.  There's even a giveaway for those who sign up!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Paper Piecing Whoop-de-Doo!

This paper piecing thing?  Oh, mama.

I mean that in a good way.

It is a persnickety person's dream come true!  And by dream, I mean the kind that features Johnny Depp and Hugh Jackman hanging out in your hot tub giving you a foot massage, and, by the way, you look like Charlize Theron, and, oops, everyone forgot their bathing suits.  You know, the good kind.

I mean, just look at those points.  Doesn't a part of you just go, "Ahh..."  The Mozart-loving part, the part that is mesmerized by a good drill team, the part that understands the Pythagorean Theorem and covalent bonds and string theory.  Okay, totally kidding about string theory.  I'm lucky I can understand Steven Hawking's speech emulator, never mind quantum mechanics.

But I think I do understand the appeal of paper piecing now.  Yes, it's fiddly.  No, I don't think I want to make a whole quilt that way (not now, anyway).  I sure like the results though, the gratifying precision that sewing exactly on the lines affords.

After making four blocks, I had a lovely little pile of scraps alongside the cutting mat, and another part of me took over.  The playful, Jackson Pollack-loving, bad joke appreciating, who cares that I should have been back to work an hour ago part.

Maybe I'll use it in the backing?  

These blocks are for the Paper Piece Quilt-Along hosted by Sarcastic Quilter.  It's the only sewing-related thing I've worked on this week, but I'm happy about how they turned out and that I feel more comfortable with the process of making them.  

What are you excited about having accomplished this week?  Join the linky party at Sarah's and share!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

I Woke Up Pointing

Before GPS was invented, there were human navigators who sat in the front passenger seat shouting directions guiding the driver.  These helpful people were known as spouses, significant others, or (questionably) friends.

My husband and I do not have GPS.  Therefore, I am still the navigator.  Norm does not read maps, due to dyslexia.  He does have an uncanny ability to remember landmarks, whereas I do not.  But if we have never been somewhere before, I am the designated map and sign reader and navigator.  "Just tell me where to go," he says.  And you better believe I do.

And here is where I apologize to my daughter for all those car trips where her father and I raised our voices with each other. Okay, we argued.  Right there in the front seat, in front of God and everyone who wasn't already flipping us off or honking their horns as we momentarily drove the wrong way in traffic and had to jump the curbed median to change lanes (I am not making this up).  I have learned over the years that telling a dyslexic driver "left" and "right" needs to be accompanied by the appropriate hand gestures.

So I've been doing a lot of the driving lately (go figure), which is fine but it leaves me to both navigate and drive in unfamiliar territory, and that's not always easy.  Now I really do need that GPS.

But my point is (pun intended) that I woke myself up from a vivid dream this morning, right arm and index finger extended, pointing to "THAT LANE!"  The lane Norm needed to be in, in my dream, the far right lane that was exiting at that very moment, and for Pete's sake, what about "Just stay in the right lane" did he not understand? you think this dream might have anything to do with the Paper Piece Quilt-Along I'm starting on?  It's certainly true that I'm about to navigate some unfamiliar territory with paper piecing.  And...there are rules.  

Walter Sobchak in The Big Lebowski"This is not 'Nam. This is bowling. There are rules."
Shay at Quilting in My Pyjamas mentioned that the directions seemed to her to appear in a foreign language, and I could only laugh in agreement.  They are well written, don't get me wrong; it's just my own paper piecing mental block/dyslexia that is the issue.  Thankfully, our fearless navigator, Becky, has also posted videos (yay!), for those of us who are thus challenged.  After watching all three of them this morning, I am happy to report, it made perfect sense.  Now to just put theory into practice.

Exit lane! 

Friday, April 1, 2011

Sudoku Quilt Top Done

I had some time today to put the sashing and borders on the Sudoku quilt, and as of about a half hour ago, the quilt top is done!

This isn't the greatest time of day to take pictures, but they'll have to do, flash and all.

I ended up using a goldish-tan for the sashing.  (Mustard?  Yes, please.  And now I want a hot dog.)  It looks better in real life/natural light.

I wanted to use a stash fabric for the outer border, but I didn't have enough of the one I liked, so a-fabric-shopping I did go.  I intended to buy more of what I had on hand, but naturally there was none of it left in the store.  So I paced up and down and stared at the bolts for a half hour until I finally picked this black with tan-gold leaves.  

It works.  I like it.  Now to see if the Juki's going to fire on all cylinders to quilt this.  The bobbin winder was acting up the last time I went to quilt something.  

I'm linking to Sarah's Can I Get a Whoop Whoop?  To see more whoop-worthy progress, just click the link!