Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Chasing My Tail

Have you ever had one of those days where you felt like you were chasing your tail all day? Well, today was one of those days. Don't get me wrong - it was a great day - but by mid-afternoon, I had to completely surrender to the fact that I was no longer in control of my time or my schedule. I don't know if there's a full moon on the horizon, but the crazies were coming out of the woodwork today. Retail is a funny thing - there are days when you just have to shake your head and roll with it. So, when I got home, I treated myself with a margarita. What a nice reward after a hard day's work.

After chilling for about a half an hour, I got busy on Audrey's tote bag for all her orchestra gear.

I let her pick the fabrics at Wal-Mart last Sunday. Yeah, yeah, I know. I own a fabric store with over 3000 bolts of fabric. But, knowing the use and abuse this bag is going to get, I chose not to use $8.50/yd cloth. Plus, she found something she really liked....

Yep. It's sparkly green fabric. With Elvis. And polka dots. And six pockets. What more could a 10 year old girl ask for?

I was rewarded with a squeal of delight over the finished product and a great big hug. What more could a mom ask for?

It was a good day......


Monday, January 30, 2006

Houston, We Have A Problem...

Can you figure out what it is?

The glasses broke yesterday, and Russ tried to heal them with superglue. It obviously didn't help. I've only had this pair for 6 months. Now I know why the frames were discontinued and they gave them to me for free. Poor engineering. What this means is that I have no warranty.

Tried wearing the old glasses to work and within the hour had a raging headache working at the computer. It's amazing what a bad bifocal will do to your head.

Went back to Perle Vision to get a new pair ordered. The nice lady there gave me a 25% discount on a new pair and I still had to pay $300! Picked the new ones up after orchestra lesson today and the good news is that I can see again. The bad news is this little expenditure wasn't exactly in the budget. But what's a blind girl to do?

Loaded the Amy Butler quilt on the machine tonight. I don't have any clue why I decided to use the feather meandering panto - I MIGHT get it finished by the end of the week. I love the panto, but I had forgotten how time consuming it is. I guess my subconscious is trying to heal a bad quilt with pretty quilting. I was supposed to be making a tote bag for Audrey, but I left the pattern at work on my desk. I guess I'll start on that tomorrow night. Wait until you see the fabric she picked out.....


Sunday, January 29, 2006

Saturday Night Adventure

Last night we went on a family adventure. Russ wanted to go to Greenville to hear one of his singer/songwriter friends who was playing at a BBQ restaurant. So we pile in the car and head 30 miles to Greenville for dinner. Get to the restaurant, and there's only 2 other patrons in the whole place. Where's Mark? Found out there was a death in the family and the gig was cancelled. Had a good meal, tho. To salvage the trip, we stopped at Hastings - the Hastings in McKinney closed several years ago. They were having a one-day sale on all used DVDs. Picked up these 3 movies for less than 20 bucks. Not bad, huh?

This picture is for Sarah. We were having a discussion yesterday about the merit of leaders and enders. Sarah is yet to be converted. I am trying to convince her that this is really a good way to maximize limited sewing time, as well as slog your way through those quilts that have a jillion pieces that become monotonous. You can almost get two quilt tops made in the time you would take to make one. Here is my set-up for my current leader/ender project. All the pieces are sorted by size and value. It's kind of a mess right now because I've been sewing on something else today, but when I clean up for the night, everything will be tidied up. The KEY to a successful leader/ender project is to have everything right at your fingertips . If it's out and convenient, you can also make progress on this project if you only have 5 or 10 minutes to sew. This little TV tray is set up next to my sewing machine table. This little table also does double duty as a pressing station if I'm working on something like string pieceing that needs to be ironed between each step.

I've finished the quilt top that I've been working on all week. I just need to stay-stitch the edges since it doesn't have borders. It's also almost time for Gray's Anatomy - my Sunday night guilty pleasure.


Thursday, January 26, 2006

Round and Round She Goes...

I had a single-minded mission today....hand applique (42) 3" circles for a quilt I designed using Kaffe Fassett fabrics. DONE! I may not feel the need to applique for quite a while after this marathon. Hopefully tomorrow night I can start on the pieced blocks. I'd like to get this quilt finished by the middle of next week because longarm quilter-extroidinaire Richard Larson is going to quilt it for me. I need to get this one in his queue pronto!

I think Dr. Jason is going to have a field day with my right hand and arm tomorrow.....


Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Decisions, Decisions

I haven't written in the last couple of days because I really didn't think you'd be all that interested in haircuts and orthodontist appointments and the other really mundane things going on right now. I've spent the past 2 nights basting circles for a quilt for our booth at the Dallas Quilt Show. I've already made a quilt just like it, but I need a second one, because the first one will be published in a national magazine in May and the publishing company has the original.

We worked today on pulling fabrics for another quilt for our booth. We are going to feature Kaffe Fassett fabrics again, and need some fresh samples. Remember the magic lanterns quilt I posted a few days ago? I'm thinking of re-working it in a new color scheme. We started out pulling pastels....then we tried to find a background fabric that would complement yet contrast. Little specks of color that you don't notice when looking at the fabric by itself suddenly "POPS".

We tried turquiose. The turquoise in all the fabrics popped. We tried purple. Same thing. We tried pink, orange, blue, salmon, etc. It was freaky! That's the magical thing with Kaffe's fabrics. They are chameleons. The we finally tried RED. Every little speck of red suddenly started waving at us - "Here we are! Look at us!" Okay. I think I like it. It's out there. I mean, REALLY out there. Then I began the dialogue in my head - should I go the risky route and make a quilt that customers are going to really like or really hate, or do I try again for something more middle-of-the-road and commercially acceptable? I'll probably go for the risky version. If nothing else, it will be noticed. What do you think? Have I finally gone off the deep end?

Last night while trying to explain to Audrey why she needed a seam allowance on the pieces of fabric she was cutting out, I found these. I bought these stamps at the Dallas show last year and began hand piecing these little flowers/stars out of my Kaffe Fassett scraps. I probably have about 30 of them done. I guess this counts as a UFO, huh?

I've been subliminally avoiding counting my handwork projects as UFO's because I know that I can't finish them any time soon. I work on them when I'm out and about (like orchestra class) or when I'm too dog-tired to work at the machine. I like handwork, but the prep time is what slows me down. I need a prepping fairy. Any volunteers?

Now on to my soapbox of the day. I just heard that "Book of Daniel" has been pulled by the network. I am SO disappointed. I thought this show was very funny. Of course, I realize that it was a SATIRE. I found it to be a hilarious tongue-in-cheek look at the foibles of the human condition. I did not find it sacreligious or blasphemous. It was a SATIRE. Just because it's on TV doesn't make it true. You can have murder, adultery, and Fear Factor on prime time, but not "Book of Daniel". When did our world become so narrow? Perhaps a cable channel will pick it up.

Stepping of the soapbox and returning to basting circles now.


Monday, January 23, 2006

Ugly Ducklings and Swans

Judy L. had a post on her blog today about ugly fabric. She posted a picture of fabric that she deemed truly ugly. I told her that I kind of liked it - that cut up in the right quilt, it could be really striking. Told her that I am kind of partial to ugly fabric - I can see the swan inside the ugly duckling.

However, I also seem to have the ability to turn a swan into an ugly duckling. This is the result of 16 Amy Butler/Temple Flowers fat quarters transformed into a Scrappy Trips Around the World. Somehow, something got lost in translation. What I saw in my mind's eye didn't actually happen. It was fun and quick in the making, and I will make another one. I just won't do it with a grouping of fabrics with all the same value.

Isn't it funny how no matter how many quilts you make, how much experience you have, sometimes things go all to h**l - but instead of abandoning the project - finish it anyway. I would just bet that all the quilters you admire have made a few ugly ducklings. Just because only the swans get published or hung in quilt shows doesn't mean that ugly ducklings don't exist. My encouragement to you, dear reader, is FINISH your ugly ducklings. Examine them closely. Learn the lesson they want to teach you. Love them and move on. Obsession and negative self-talk only slows you down. SOMEBODY will love your quilt. Beauty is truly in the eye of the beholder.


Sunday, January 22, 2006

A Real Finish

I really finished this one. Quilting and binding done and all. Sorry for the funky photo - it was being held up by 2 10yo girls - the quilt is taller than they are.

Not only is this a UFO finish, but I used 5 yards of stash on the back. Now to get it washed and into Diane's hands.

I worked on a test block for the Magic Lanterns pattern and then I began putting borders on the Amy Butler quilt. But the ironing board was occupied by both Sophie and Merle, so I just gave up.

Guess what? I got an e-mail from Judy L. - she's got a blog on the Maverick Quilters blog ring. Somehow or other, she ran across this space and sent me a comment. How cool is that? Maybe some day this blog will be considered "Maverick" enough to join the ring. We chatted last night via e-mail - both of us were up WAY too late!

It's actually raining today. We haven't had any measurable rain in over 30 days. I guess I need to get moving and get dressed. I've already watched one movie this morning ("Rory O'Shea Was Here") and caught the end of Bridget Jones Diary 2 - I love that movie; especially when Hugh Grant and Collin Firth fight in the fountain. There's a class at the shop today that I have to open up for. Maybe I can finish my borders today - I guess I'll just have to lock the cats out and listen to them whine. But I'm not getting anything done sitting here. Later!


Saturday, January 21, 2006

Plotting and Planning

I spent yesterday actually doing some planning on all those things that I've swept under the rug. It's time to start thinking about what I'm going to take to the Dallas Quilt Show. I know we

are going to take our Kaffe Fassett fabrics, but we need to make some new samples. I wandered around the shop looking for just the right patterns and realized - everything old is new again, right? It's time to reinvent! This quilt (Magic Lanterns) sits on Russell's chair upstairs. I made it 3 or 4 years ago out of batiks using the Creative Grids 60 degree ruler. It looks complicated but is really very easy. I spent last night with EQ5 (a tool with which I am barely functional) and drafted the pattern. I may be on to something! The wheels of creativity are somewhat rolling again - it's amazing what panic and a deadline will do for ya...

Watched "The Usual Suspects" with Kevin Spacey last night. It was a little hard to follow (it didn't help that we had to keep starting and stopping the movie because of interruptions) but it had one of those "Aha" endings that we like.

Time to take a shower and get ready for work...


Friday, January 20, 2006

Domestic Diva Thursday

A day in the life of the (non) Domestic Diva:

7:00 Get up - read e-mail
7:30 Get Audrey up for school. Keep reading blogs and e-mail
8:00 Yell at Audrey to get ready.
8:10 Yell again at Audrey to get ready
8:20 Ask Audrey if she's ready
8:22 Tell Audrey she can't wear flip-flops to school because it's PE day. She got in trouble on Tuesday for not wearing sneakers.
8:23 No, I don't know where your sneakers are
8:26 We're going to be late - FIND a pair of shoes!
8:33 Drop Audrey off at school - late
8:35 Take a shower.
9:00 Begin cleaning my bedroom and bathroom. Can you say EEEEEWWWWWW?
9:15 Put the frozen chicken in hot water to thaw and start a load of laundry. Back to the bedroom.
10:00 Come back downstairs to put laundry in the dryer and run another sinkful of water for the chicken
11:00 Finish cleaning upstairs. Begin prepping the chicken for roasting and turn on the oven. Fold laundry. Eat half a PB&J sandwich
11:30 Load a shop sample quilt on the Gammill. Check the TV for something to watch while I'm quilting. Settle on "Troy" - it was an okay movie. Brad Pitt's nekkid backside helped.
12:30 Check on chicken. Continue quilting.
1:30 Check on chicken. Almost done.
2:00 Take chicken out of oven. Finish quilting on sample. Take it off the machine.
2:15 Piece back for Streak of Lightning top completed last weekend. Load quilt on Gammill and begin quilting.
3:00 Put cooling chicken in the fridge. Wash roasting pan.
3:05 Quilt some more.
3:30 Go upstairs to get dressed to go out in the world (the reason I needed to do laundry....)
4:00 Quilt for 20 more minutes.
4:20 Leave to pick up Audrey at school for orchestra class.
5:00 Orchestra class.
6:15 Do a "drive by" at the house to pick up Russ. He wants to go shopping for clothes - he's got a coupon.
6:20 Shop with Mr. Indesicion.
7:00 Arrive back home and make supper and eat.
7:30 Quilt some more.
8:00 Go upstairs and watch CSI with Russ (while checking e-mail on the laptop). Send e-mail to my "posse" for getting signatures on the fundraiser quilt.
9:00 Come back downstairs and finish quilting quilt #2. Also make some more leader/ender blocks.
9:30 Audrey hands me her headgear with one of the bands attached. Must call orthodontist in the morning.
10:30 Get ready for bed.

While I felt very productive, I don't think I could do this every day......


Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Drama on Tucker Street

Update: The police never showed up. Perhaps someone else called before we did. Perhaps they were already on the scene. Perhaps they didn't care. Don't know. The local newspaper is such a joke the I'll probably never know.

Just heard a couple of gunshots out behind the house. This is a nice neighborhood. We don't shoot each other. Makes me kind of nervous.

Russ called the police and we'll see how long it takes them to show up. Will let you know if we find anything out.


Life Interrupted

Or, maybe it's Reality Sets In. I've been on such a roll since the start of the new year on cleaning up and organizing my sewing room and actually sewing on some old things hanging around the studio. I've been really energized and excited and getting things done.

Then reality hit. At work today, I realized that the Dallas Quilt Show is less than 60 days away. Am I ready? Nope. Have I planned out projects - samples- kits? Nope. At the rate of business these days, do I have the manpower to get everything done? Nope.

The Orchestra fundraiser is also in March. The signature blocks are all stitched. Have I prepped them for signatures? Nope. Have I contacted my volunteers to help me get signatures? Nope. Have I designed the logo block? Nope.

Do I need to get off my hind-end and get busy? Yep.

I hate it when life gets real.

Susan (who made 6 more scrap blocks last night.....for a total of 14)

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Insanity Strikes Again

I was looking for another leader/ender project - you know - those little bits and pieces that you run through your machine when you're piecing something else. I had finished the zig zag quilt top that was my current leader/ender project. I looked in one of my drawers and found THIS. I started this over 5 years ago and there were 5 or 6 blocks already made and a handful of pieces cut out. It's from an old Trudie Hughes book (1992). Here's 4 blocks laid out on the floor. Each block measures 8" finished, making the little pieced blocks 4". Each piece in the little blocks is cut 1-1/2" square or 1-1/2" x 2-1/2". What is it with me and itty bitty pieces? Am I insane? Wait a minute - don't answer that. I only need 48 blocks to make a lap-sized quilt. Six down, 42 to go. I have a gazillion 1-1/2" squares and 1-1/2" x 3-1/2" pieces leftover from other insane projects that I can raid for this one. I must have gone through a "smaller is better" phase several years ago. I think I'm about over that.....but, if this clears out a drawer to make room for something else, then it's all good.

I finished piecing the center of my Amy Butler scrappy trips around the world. I must say, it didn't quite turn out like my mind's eye thought it would. I'll post a picture once I get borders on it.


Sunday, January 15, 2006

First UFO Finish of 2006!

Well, sort of. It's not completely done until it's quilted. I sewed like a madwoman last night and completed the Streak of Lightning quilt top last night. I even made the binding for it out of leftovers from the streaks. Let me tell you, it's going to take a lot of quilting to get this sucker flat. There was a lot of easing going on to get the streaks and sashing put together! My piecing skills have certainly improved in the last 5 years.

I hope to find a backing fabric in my stash. Since this project was started so long ago, I no longer have any emotional attachment to it whatsoever. I might just donate it to Diane to take on her mission trip to Juarez this year. It does kind of look like a serape, doesn't it?

The brunch buffet will be open any minute and I'm hungry!



Saturday, January 14, 2006

One Quilt Top Done!

One project that I brought with me to retreat is finished! This is a store sample, so I gave it the highest priority. I will say that piecing the borders before I came was a stroke of genius - if I hadn't done that, I would still be piecing and measuring a piece that long up here would have been a nightmare.

On to other things - I might even finish a 5yo UFO if I stay focused. Of course, not getting to the sewing room until almost 11 this morning didn't do much for my productivity....but the sleeping in and visiting with my roommate Mollie was a nice way to start the day.

Back to the hum of machines....


Friday, January 13, 2006

Shoes Found!

I found my shoes! I'm too embarassed to even tell you where they were...And no, Marian, I did not find your orange handle scissors with them.

I also found a hotspot here at Tanglewood so I will be posting this weekend. I have all the blocks made for our Strip Club sample, but I can't show a picture until the quilt is revealed on the 28th at the club meeting.

Now I just need to lay it out and sew it up!


Thursday, January 12, 2006

My Bags Are Packed, I'm Ready to Go....

No, I'm not leavin' on a jet plane. But I am leaving for retreat in the morning. And my sewing stuff is all packed. Yep. That's all I'm taking. Believe it or not, there's 3 different projects included. This is my 14th year going on this particular retreat and I have the packing down to a science. I know what I will realistically need and if I forget something, somebody else will have it. I'll take my laptop with me, but I don't know if I'll have a connection to blog while I'm gone. I will take pictures and post when I get back if I can't make it work while I'm gone.

On another note - it was so warm this evening that we had the doors open. I heard the wind rustling the leaves and it sounded like rain. Surely not! We haven't really had any rain since October. I stepped out on the porch and sure enough - no rain. But I did smell smoke. I called Russ and Audrey out and they smelled it too. We checked our block and figured it was probably a good distance away and the wind was carrying the smell. Audrey, the junior adventurer, begged me to take her in the car to see if we could find the source. We drove west and north for a couple of miles, hanging our heads out the windows like golden retrievers, checking the smell of smoke. After about 20 minutes, we gave up and came on home. About a half hour ago, the city of McKinney sent a broadcast over the cable network telling residents that the fire is in OKLAHOMA (about 75 miles north) and NOT in McKinney! I figured it was probably north of town, but I had no clue it was THAT far north. This wildfire situation is very frightening. Perhaps all the people in Seattle could do some heavy meditation and send some of their rain down here.

Have a great weekend, and I'll check back when I can.


Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Two More Days!

Just two more days until I go on retreat. Last night I made these 2 little bags to hold my new portable DVD player and the 2 pair of headphones to go with it. I don't know if I will actually watch any movies while I sew on retreat, but hey, it's portable and I can take it if I want to! The small bag is a "Ten Minute Totable" from the Nancy's Notions website. The big bag is based on the same idea, but I put box bottom in it so it wouldn't be flat.

I also FINISHED the signature blocks! Yeah Me! I don't have to take them on retreat! I also made the top half of another row on the zig zag quilt and made one more Trip Around The World block.

Merle helped. That just doesn't even look comfortable, does it? In his mind, he is a much smaller cat....


Tuesday, January 10, 2006

My New Best Friend Is....

Dr. Jason Hill. Yep, I finally broke down and went to a chiropractor yesterday. His office is in the same plaza as the shop, and I don't know why I procrastinated so long. After answering a lot of stupid questions on paperwork, X-rays, a back scan, and the massage table, Dr. Jason cracked my back and neck like a walnut! It was wonderful! I have to go back on Wednesday to discuss my X-rays. I haven't been under chiropractic care for over a year and I think my X-rays show that....we'll see what he has to say tomorrow. He just better not tell me to quit sewing! That's just not gonna happen. But I do feel much better today.

I also had to go to Office Max yesterday for printer paper. I usually shop at Office Depot because it's closer, but I had a $10 off coupon for Max. Since I hadn't spent any time there before, I just had to cruise the aisles. For me, an office supply store is almost as fun as a quilt shop. I was one of those kids who couldn't wait for the start of school each year because that meant new school supplies. Besides, it's good to know what products they carry that Depot doesn't, right? An informed shopper is a frugal shopper, right?

Guess what I found in the clearance area.... LIME GREEN index cards. For only $1. How could I say 'No'? Everybody needs lime green index cards! Okay - back to reality. If I have to have the index cards, what on earth am I going to use them for?

I have an idea! What if I catalogue my projects (including UFO's) on the cards and keep up with my progress - Like date started, needs borders (with measurements), needs backing, date completed, etc. I can shuffle the cards from the front to the back or in order of deadline or whatever in a way that you can't with pages in a journal. I'm thinking this plan just might work for me. We'll see.

Last night I completed another row of the zig zag quilt, made a label/sleeve for Diane's purple wallhanging and this morning I stitched 2 more signature blocks. Only 2 more to go. Woohoo!

I suppose I should actually work now.


Monday, January 09, 2006

A Very Productive Day!

I had a very productive day yesterday. The first thing I did was stuff these clear Christmas ornaments with trimmings from batiks I squared up at work on Saturday. Now, I know Christmas is over, but I found this box of ornaments when I cleaned up my sewing room. I bought them with the intent of filling them with pretty fabric. Since we haven't had a traditional tree at home for 2 years now (due to climbing cats), I think they will look great on the tree at the store next season. Wow! I'm ahead on next Christmas! Who'da thunk?

Once this task was done, I began cutting out projects for retreat next weekend. One is a store sample, and the other was 16 FQs of Amy Butler fabrics from my stash for a Scrappy Trip Around the World. After completing the cutting process, I decided that I really should stitch around a few more signature blocks. Three more finished, 4 to go.

After dinner, I still had time to sew. Began sewing a little bit on the projects I had just cut out. But wait! It's only Sunday. What if I make so much progress on these quilts at home that I run out of stuff to sew this weekend? (Wouldn't happen, but better to be safe than sorry....) So then I started digging in the UFO pile under the longarm. You know, all those nice, neat stacks of plastic containers....

Pulled out the fabrics leftover from a log cabin/courthouse steps top that still needs a border. The initial plan was to make a piano key border from leftover strips (cut 1-1/4" x 4-1/4"). Calculated that I would need almost 400 of these puppies. Made an executive decision that this top would have a scrappy pieced border, just not pieces that small. Shoved the tub back in place.

Pulled out another bin. This project was started about 5 years ago right after I opened the shop. It's a streak of lightning quilt from 101 Fabulous Rotary-Cut Quilts by Judy Hopkins and Nancy Martin. Everything is cut out, I think. I now remember why I ditched this project (and no, not because it was ugly, which it is...). When sewing the triangles together, you have to offset the triangle tips just right for the pieces to be straight when pressed open. Ugh! The yellow strip was finished and the blue one was still in two halves- one half was longer than the other. I figured out how to fix that and corrected it.

Then I dug around in the box some more and found this little tool that I had purchased to help me sew these triangles together. This is Judy Martin's Ultimate Point Trimmer - a little gadget made just for the triangle-point challenged people like me. It's a little confusing to look at, but there are directions included in the package.

First, you have to figure our which angle your triangle points are. Just keep moving the little gizmo over your points until they line up between two lines. Lay the point trimmer on the fabric and cut those offending points off!

The trimmed triangle now looks like this. Believe it or not, now when I piece the triangles together at that funky angle, everything is even and it works! I pieced the complete orange triangle row in about 30 minutes. Trimming the points after the initial cutting is kind of a pain, but if I do a few at a time (like a whole row's worth), I don't think it will be too bad. Maybe this project will actually get finished!

We'll just see how far I get.....

Have a great day,

Sunday, January 08, 2006

A Good Time Was Had By All

Sharon graciously opened her home to us for our staff holiday party. She lives in Melissa, just a few miles north of McKinney, and has a handful of "critters" in her backyard.

Audrey got to feed the two lambs - 3 and 4 weeks old, respectively.

But the cutest animal had to be the week old goat, named Eve, because she was born on New Year's eve.

After gorging ourselves on a huge meal of ham, potato casserole, corn casserole, broccoli and rice, squash, salads, homemade bisquits, etc., we had our gift exchange.

Sarah looks fetching in her new bow headdress.

We were all pretty civilized this time - there was not much fussin' and tradin'. Everyone seemed pleased with their gifts.

The gift I took was a small hand-quilted wholecloth hanging. I apologize for the bad picture, but the lavender shot cotton just wouldn't photograph well. Diane won my gift and I brought it back home to label it for her.

Today I will spend my time cutting out a project for next weekend's retreat. And if I get that done, maybe I'll have some time left over to play.


Saturday, January 07, 2006

No Pain, No Gain

I'm still working on my signature blocks for the fundraiser quilt. I have 9 blocks completely finished, and the other 8 have been put on their backgrounds and stitched around the perimeter. These blocks are killing me! About 12 years ago, I slipped and fell flat on my back on a concrete floor. I knocked 3 rib heads out of joint (which were put back in place by a chiropractor), but my back has never been the same. When I use my right arm in a reaching position (like rotary cutting, mousing on the computer, longarming, etc.), I get a huge knot on my scapula (I affectionately call it my chicken wing) on my right side. Well, stitching the inner cutouts on these blocks requires me to constantly raise the presser foot stitch by stitch in order to make the stitching uniform on the tight inner curves. This stretching of my right arm for a prolonged period of time has caused the knot on my back to become huge. I broke down and bought some icy hot patches, and have put one on my back for two nights in a row now. They do help, somewhat. The fun part is trying to get it off by myself each morning. A good bit of contortion is involved. I may have to finish the blocks a little bit at a time, instead of working intently on them for hours at a stretch. This will also help with the boredom factor, too.

Last night I just couldn't do any more - I wanted to do some real sewing! I dug in one of my drawers and cut a 2-1/2" strip off of 6 fabrics and made a Scrappy Trip Around The World block from Bonnie's site. This block was so fun and took about 20 minutes. Now, I have no business starting something new - but I don't consider this another project started. I just wanted to play for a few minutes and try a new technique as a diversion. I will tuck this block away, and maybe make another when I have a few minutes and need a break from the task at hand. Since my stash is woefully lacking "lights", this is a good scrap quilt for me since it doesn't require a background.

I am going on retreat next weekend, and I need to spend the rest of my sewing time getting ready. I learned a long time ago that I NEVER cut out a project at retreat. There's so much chaos in a big group that it's too easy to make cutting mistakes. Sub-cutting is possible, but not cutting from scratch. I intend to spend the most of my time there making a shop sample, and those fabrics haven't even been cut off the bolt yet.

My staff holiday party is tonight (I also learned a long time ago that having a holiday party during the holidays just wasn't possible). I'll bring a honeybaked ham and every one else will bring a side dish. We do a gift exchange that always turns into a fun fight. Audrey and Russ have promised me that they will also make a corn casserole (a monkey could do it), but I have a feeling I will be walking them through it over the phone. We'll see.

Have a great weekend!


Thursday, January 05, 2006

Freezer Paper is my Friend

I began working on my signature quilt blocks last night. When designing this quilt, I knew that I would machine applique the blocks because hand applique would take too long. But I didn't want to use fusible web because I didn't want the quilt to be stiff as a board. How could I solve this problem in a slick way that wouldn't take me forever? Freezer paper to the rescue! I first traced my design on freezer paper and ironed it onto the applique fabric.

I then cut it out, leaving the freezer paper on the shape. Now, how to temporarily adhere the shape to the background before buttonhole stitching? Basting Spray!

I brought home a box from work to use as my spray booth. Basting spray is a wonderful product, but it gets everywhere. By placing my shapes in the box, I can contain the area of overspray and keep my floors and surfaces sticky-free.

I then place the spray-basted shape on the background and peeled off the freezer paper. The block is now ready to buttonhole stitch by machine.

I've completely finished 6 blocks and have 3 or 4 more in various states of completion. I need a total of 17 and then I will design a logo block for the center of the quilt. I'll worry about that after I hand off the blocks for signatures. I'm already getting tired of the blocks, but I must keep focus! I'd like to hand them off by mid-January.

As to my rant from yesterday, thank you for your comments and support. My husband (who lives in a very black and white world - no shades of gray) felt like the whole situation was dishonest in concept. I'm not so sure about that, but the more posts I read from this woman (on a variety of topics), I realized that she is somewhat misguided in her thinking. (Now, wasn't that a nice way of saying she's an idiot?) I can only be responsible for my own actions and words, and I rose to her bait. That was my fault. Can I help it if I am very passionate about my business and wish to protect it?

On an upside, we were very busy yesterday and I ended up helping a very novice quilter (read: somewhat clueless) and she left very happy with the service she received from me - she said so out loud. I guess I am not always a capitalist pig. Good to know.


Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Fundraiser Block & OT Venting

Here's the block I designed for a fundraiser quilt for the Cross Timbers Youth Orchestra. It will be a signature quilt based on an antique quilt at a local church. Our hope is to have all of the orchestra members sign it. The fundraiser is in March, so I need to get busy.

I began cutting out background and blocks for the applique last night, only to be interrupted by Audrey who wanted to play a game. I relented, so I only got 2 blocks ready to stitch. I'll need to make a total of 16 more before I can begin getting signatures.

On a totally different note, I am a member of a Yahoo group designed to help members use their stash - it's a good thing. There is also a subgroup who have made a "no-buy" pledge. Now, that may seem weird since I make my living sellng fabric. As a shopowner, I know quilters. If they use their stash, odds are that they will need background, borders, backing, etc. and I hope they come to me to fill those needs. Everybody wins.

Well, this morning there was an e-mail from a woman who suggested going to the quilt store, pulling the fabrics for a quilt, doing the math, making a plan, and then putting it all back and buying nothing - just to satisfy a fabric fondling fix and stay true to the "no-buy" pledge. I got sucked in and replied asking for some consideration of the clerk's time if you KNOW you have no intention of spending any money when you walk in the door. Of course, you are welcome in the store and we will help you. If you don't spend a dime, that's okay. But is it fair to expect one-on-one hand-holding for hours if you don't INTEND to buy? It's all about INTENT. I understand indecision. I understand uncertainty. I even understand the need to play with fabric. But I don't understand intentionally wasting a resource. Am I wrong here? I'm doing my best to be everything to all people and still make a living. Within 5 minutes, I receive a flaming e-mail regarding my attitude. Then I felt COMPELLED to explain and further justify my position in this particular situation. I should never have spoken up in the first place. I KNOW better. When will I learn? What do you think? Am I way off base here? Really, I want to know.

Maybe a hot shower will make me feel better.


Tuesday, January 03, 2006

It's a Beautiful Thing

....a man with a hammer, that is... Of course, he's using the smallest hammer on the face of the planet. Why is it that you can own 17 hammers and this is the only one you can find when you want one? This is my honey putting together my new Elfa units for under the cutting table. I got home from work and he was already home. "Hey, why don't we go down to Plano this evening since it's a holiday and there's no traffic. We can eat somewhere on our way to the Container Store". (Another successful cooking dodge on my part...) He fell for it! I got everything I wanted except for a divided drawer tray - I had to prepay and order it - and I used my $100 rebate cards from Cingular, so it didn't cost me an arm and a leg.

He looks thrilled to be having his picture taken, doesn't he.

The units all set up.

On another note - if you leave the dryer door open, this is what you get.

I guess Audrey doesn't care if her clean clothes are hairy.


Sunday, January 01, 2006

Done for Now

I'm pooped. I think I've done pretty well in the past day. I've cleaned in corners that haven't seen the light of day in a long while. Everything is put away except for a few items left on the Gammill table - I have a plan for it all that I can't execute right now. See, I received my Container Store catalog advertising their annual 30% sale. I would look at the catalog and think about how I could re-arrange to be more effective at fighting the clutter. I have measured. I have plotted. I now have a plan. I can put (2) 7-runner units under my cutting table to hold files, patterns and notions. I went so far as to get in the car to go to Plano and buy it all. As I was turning on to the freeway, I glanced at the catalog....CLOSED on Sunday, January 1. (insert your own expletive here...) Turned back around and came home. Maybe I can get down there one day this week.

Ooh, aah.....non-cluttered work surfaces!

Look - a clean corner! With clean floors!

I went to Wally World and bought tubs to put all my fabric dyeing supplies in and tucked the tubs under the longarm. I threw out a lot of batting scraps, but kept the bigger chunks wedged against the wall.

The sewing area is clean and the tub on the table holds all the scraps I gathered off the table and the floor that need to be cut down into standard sizes a la Bonnie. My legs may be too tired to attack that tonight.

See the wire file cart under the table? It will be replaced by Elfa wire baskets. I haven't sorted through it yet - I'll do that when I transfer everything over to the new stuff. I didn't attempt to clean out any drawers, cabinets or the bookcase. That would have provided too many distractions and I was trying to stay on task. This chore will be saved for Phase 2. I haven't counted UFOs yet, either, because that would have required digging through drawers, also.

I did excavate a few archeological items, though. I found a Toy Story 2 paint set (circa 1999), our vacation pictures from last summer, a mostly finished applique project that I had COMPLETELY forgotten about from about 2000, a quilt that only needs binding to be finished, a pair of ceramic handled Gingher embroidery scissors, and Audrey's glasses! When I begin opening drawers, there's no telling what I'll find.

It's been a very good start to the new year. I think I'll take a load off. Getting this room cleaned up has sure taken a load off of me.


Progress - So Far...

I am making progress. I got a later start than I intended because work took longer than I expected. I worked for a while and then I went over to the neighbors house for a NYE glass of wine - we are truly a "fair-weathered" neighborhood and I hadn't visited with Bob and Debbie in a couple of months.

I've started in one corner and have pulled out all the clutter and cleaned and swept. I've decided not to work on cleaning out the contents of baskets - that will have to wait until Phase 2.

The table is looking better, but Merle still wants to sleep in the middle of it.

The living room - well, that's another story.

Haven't made any progress yet today - our DSL line was down this morning, and Russ wanted to go to the grocery store and get that chore over with.

I guess it's time to get cracking!