Sunday, February 26, 2006

An Few Observations

My husband's hobby is music. He has played in one band or another since he was a teenager. This is how we met. My mother was dating a gentleman whose son had a band. Russ was the guitar player in Kelly's band. I often joke that I met my husband in a bar! Russ was playing regularly at that time and our entire courtship was centered around his music and this band. Kelly's dad even escorted my mom at our wedding. We all became very close. Russ and I got married, had Audrey, and moved on with our lives in the last 12 years. Russ still plays with different people, but I rarely go anymore. I just don't have a "connection" with the guys he plays with now. Anyway, Russ got a call from Kelly a couple of weeks ago, asking him to play at Billy Bob's in Ft. Worth this past weekend. Last night they were opening for Clay Walker. Since I hadn't seen Kelly and his wife or any of the old gang in so long, I decided I wanted to go. It was like old home week and I had a great time, but I came away with a few observations:

1. I had forgotten how "touristy" Billy Bob's is. Between the gift shop, the bull riding arena, the wall of autographs, the ten bars, and the concert, it was wall-to-wall people on a Saturday night.

2. The restroom to bar ratio at Billy Bob's is inadequate.

3. Taking the tourists out of the mix, the average age of the patrons hovered around 25.

4. The choice of "attire" on the dance floor has certainly changed in the last 10 years. Apparently there is a huge fabric shortage in junior fashions. All of us "mature" women must be hogging all the fashion fibers. Russ is now very nervous about raising a daughter....

5. I saw girls dancing WITH girls - not the "we don't have dates" kind of dancing, either. I don't really care one way or another, I was just surprised at how progressive and out in the open everything was. Country music patrons and venues have notoriously NOT been all that open-minded.

6. If you're going to attend a concert at Billy Bob's with 5000 of your closest friends, it's good to be associated with the "honky tonk" band. You can sit on the back of the front stage and be head and shoulders above the crowd with a great view.

7. I don't recover near as well the next day after staying out until 3am.

8. When did I get old? I've always felt that age was a state of mind. Last night and today I feel very old. I know I'm not 25 or 30 or even 35 anymore, but this sensation is a whole new thing for me. I don't think I like it.

In betwen naps, all I could manage to do todays was take a shower and cut up scraps on my sewing table.

Here's a pic of the quilt top I completed on Friday. It's now on the wall at the shop. The colors are much prettier in real life - very soft, ver pastel, very shabby chic.

Here's a shot of Merle. Remember when I told you that in his mind, Merle thinks he's a much smaller cat? This just proves it.


Friday, February 24, 2006

Stringus Interruptus

I was ardently working on the borders for my string pieced top when a nasty chest cold knocked me down for the count. I think I'm about 3/4 done.

We finally received the shipment of fabric for March's Strip Club. I spent the day piecing the sample top. Here's a picture of the blocks and sashing on the design wall - the top is completely finished now including borders, but Russ borrowed my camera tonight and took it with him to his gig at Billy Bob's. I'll try to get a shot of the whole thing tomorrow.

In case you haven't noticed, I am now a member of the Maverick Quilters blog ring. Thanks to all who have made me feel welcome. If you've got a minute or two, check out the other Maverick bloggers - it's lots of fun!

I think it's time to take my NyQuil and go to bed....


Tuesday, February 21, 2006


There are gremlins in my house.

I went into the sewing room this morning to iron a shirt and turned on the TV. Everything worked perfectly!

Gremlins.....I tell ya!

Monday, February 20, 2006

No-Sew Monday

Got home tonight after orchestra class and the grocery store and went into my sewing room to start on the string borders for my string top. Turned on the TV and nothing. Nada. Cable was working properly because I could get the listings guide. Otherwise a big blue screen. Yes, I am a TV addict. But, I also wanted to watch the Olympics tonight - I think the US has a real shot at a medal in Ice Dancing. So, I came upstairs and decided to do some work on my blog template - I have now put 2006 quilting statistics in my sidebar. I think I did pretty good since I know diddly-squat about HTML. I don't have all the numbers updated because that information is downstairs, but at least I now have a place to put it. My hope is that by keeping track, I will feel like I accomplished great things by the end of the year.

Back to Ice Dancing.....


A Comment on Comments

Many of you have left me comments asking questions about my posts. First off, I want to thank you for taking the time to comment - it lets me know that you are actually reading what I write and I am not just a lonely voice in the wilderness.

BUT, Blogger is a funny animal. I cannot RESPOND privately to your comment because Blogger doesn't attach your e-mail address to the comment. So...I have two choices. I can answer questions in the comment section of the post on which you commented (that's kind of a convoluted sentence, isn't it?) or I can respond in another public post. PLEASE don't think I am ignoring you if you don't get a private reply - I'm not. I just don't know how to get hold of you. If you'd like for me to reply privately, you can click on "View Complete Profile" and send me a direct e-mail, or you can leave your e-mail address in your comment.

Now, to Brandi's question in the comments of my last post. Brandi wanted to know what I meant by leaders/enders. A leader/ender is a scrap of fabric or quilt pieces that you run through your machine at the beginning and ending of a set of chain pieces. This eliminates those long tails of thread that you either have to cut off later or that get sucked into your machine when you begin again. I used to use a scrap of fabric (think of it as a threadholder) when I ended chain piecing, but then I realized that I could be actually piecing BLOCKS instead of wasting thread on a scrap. Bonnie has an EXCELLENT tutorial on leaders/enders on her website here. People ask me how I get so many quilts finished with my crazy schedule. Leaders/enders is the answer. You have to do a little pre-cutting and planning, but I've been cutting up scraps into usable sizes for a couple of years now.

Brandi, I hope this helps.


Sunday, February 19, 2006

It Was a Sew-Sew Sunday

I slept in this morning - it felt great! After calling off Audrey's violin lesson, I went to work in the sewing room. I finished the main body of my string quilt and set it with fabric from my stash. It needs an outer border. I'm thinking about string piecing the outer border - heaven knows I've got enough strings! A plain fabric border would be easier, but finding the right fabric in the closet could be a major challenge. Since the sewing room is in a big mess right now, I might as well continue on with the string piecing.

While piecing the blocks, of course I needed a leader/ender. So I made some "crumb" blocks as seen on Finn's blog. WOW - were these fun to make. I can see a new addiction on the horizon. Like I need a new addiction... I can see slicing up orphan blocks and making something new out of them. Oh - the possiblities!

If you decide to make your own crumb blocks, remember that you will have bias edges once you trim them down. I would suggest a good shot of Magic Sizing before trimming.

Yep. It was a good day to stay home. And I even got me a dose of Bon Jovi before the Daytona 500. Yum....


Saturday, February 18, 2006

A Little of This, A Little of That...

BRRRRR! We're having a couple of days of winter here in North Texas. It was 82 degrees on Thursday afternoon and today it was 26 with a winter advisory for sleet and ice. You know what they say about the weather in Texas - if you don't like it, stick around and it'll be different tomorrow.

I spent Thursday morning quilting this quilt as a sample for the Dallas quilt show. Diane did the applique. Hard to believe I was sweating (literally) while doing it.

Here's a close-up of the blocks. I thought this would show the quilting better - I guess I don't have the right kind of side lighting to show all the texture.

Do you remember when I showed the fabrics for this quilt but wasn't quite sure about the red? My good-best friend Pam made the sample for me and I LOVE the red! What do you think? Of course, it looks even better in person.

I've been spending a lot of time upstairs in my recliner watching the Olympics - it's much warmer up here. But tonight, I braved the cold because I wanted to sew at the machine. My sewing room is on the northeast corner of the house, and with 2 walls of windows, it tends to be a little chilly when the wind is blowing. After binding the flower quilt, I decided that I wanted to play a bit with string piecing. I love string quilts and have even lectured at area quilt guilds with my quite extensive vintage string quilt collection. My only problem with string piecing is I tend to make a giant mess while doing it. I have two HUGE tubs of strings and what you see on the sewing table is just a couple of handfulls. YIKES! I could piece string blocks for the next two years! My goal for this session is 12 of the blocks like the one next to the machine. I made 7 tonight. I'm supposed to take Audrey to Mrs. Johnson's house for a private violin lesson tomorrow, but I think I'm going to cancel. I want to spend the day in my sweats sewing - not running around town in the bitter cold. I know some of you just laugh at 25 degrees, but to this born-and-bred Texan, I don't handle winter well at all. My feet are always cold.

I think I'll take a hot bath before I jump into bed.

Have a great Sunday,

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Best Friends Pattern

Donna asked me in her comment if I had a pattern for my latest scrap quilt posted here. I got my inspiration from on old Trudie Hughes book and I kind of made it my own. I drew up the block and quilt in EQ5 and I will give you the dimensions I used, but it is a block that is easily convertible to different sizes.

Here is the block. In my quilt, this block finished at 8". That means the small halves of the block finished at 4". I used yellow as my accent throughout the blocks, but you could certainly use red or black or anything that will contrast next to both the dark side and the light side of the block.

The squares in the small section were cut 1-1/2". The rectangles were cut 1-1/2" by 2-1/2". Build your center 4-patch first. Add a light rectangle to the top of the 4-patch and a dark rectangle to the bottom. Make the 2 square-rectangle-square units (one light and one dark - each with an accent square at the end) and sew them to the sides of the 4-patch/rectangle unit. You need 2 of these small blocks, a 4-1/2" dark square and a 4-1/2" light square to make the finished block. You have basically built a "log cabin" type block - with a light half and a dark half.

For a 10" block, the small squares would be cut 1-3/4" , the rectangles would be 1-3/4" by 3", and the large squares would be cut 5-1/2".

For a 12" block, the small squares would be cut 2", the rectangles would be cut 2" x 3-1/2", and the large squares would be cut 6-1/2".

This is the barn-raising set I used in my quilt. I challenge you to play with your layout - the sky's the limit!

As I said before, this was a leaders/enders project with little bits of dedicated sewing thrown in when I had a couple of minutes to sew. Of course, you could be like my friend Lisa who made one in 5 days. That is, if you're obsessive/compulsive.....

I hope this answers your questions, Donna. Have fun!


Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Happy Valentine's Day!

I hope you all had a wonderful Valentine's Day. My sweetie not only sent these beautiful roses to the shop, he cooked dinner and washed the dishes! Boy, does he know the way into this girl's heart!

There was a little excitement here in Heritage Plaza. Apparently this driver tried to turn the Subway sandwich shop into a drive-thru. What's worse, this is a BRAND NEW car. There wasn't even any scuff on the tires yet. Can you imagine that phone call home? "Uh, honey, would you like to have Subway for dinner? I got a Rock Star parking spot....".

Just thankful it was her and not me...

Monday, February 13, 2006

My Chiropractor, My Friend

Today started out kinda rough. I woke up with a migraine with nausea. It was all I could do to get dressed and get Audrey up and off to school. Went to see Dr. Jason with tears in my eyes. After an adjustment and electronic acupuncture, I could function again. It's amazing how your body responds when the spine is out of alignment. As a bonus, Dr. Sammy gave me his secret recipe for an immune system boost:

100,000 mgs Vitamin A
150 mgs Zinc

Take this dosage all at once for 3 days in row with food.

Other patients in the office gave me testimonials on how well this works when you feel a cold or flu coming on. Russ and I both started this today and I'll let you know how it goes.

I finished the punchneedle project that I started on Thursday night. It was very fun! The pattern has 4 hearts - each depicting a different season. Summer is next and is made up of sunflowers. But first, I'm going to start on a punchneedle pattern I designed using EQ5.

Merle approves of the new portable table. His outstretched body nearly covers the entire length.

Get that camera out of my face!

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Much Better

Yesterday was a much better day. I concentrated and worked hard and covered my white board with upcoming tasks and lists. Listing it all out made me realize that I am not as far behind as I thought I was. I left work with a huge sense of accomplishment.

Watched the opening ceremonies of the Olympics last night. Some of it was very cool and some of it was very strange. I am an Olympic junkie. Have been since I was a kid. I have a feeling I will be getting a lot of hand work done during the next 2 weeks.....

Russ and I are going to play today. Audrey is spending the weekend with a friend and we have tickets to see Gary Allen in concert tonight at Winstar Casino. Oh darn, we might just have to play some cards while we're there. I think Russ wants to eat breakfast at Cracker Barrel in Denton, so I'd better get in the shower!

Have a great day!

Friday, February 10, 2006

Hopefully a Better Day

I woke up this morning hoping that I will have a better day today. After my rant last night (thanks for listening, BTW), I went downstairs to get something to eat and Audrey was all sugar and spice - having done the chores I had asked her to do the first time I told her. Perhaps she has a sixth sense about when I'm about to blow a gasket. I did manage to change the check spring on the Gammill - I think everything's okay tension-wise - I'll find out on my next quilt!

I went to Big Lots this week and bought this handy-dandy little table for only $15. It folds up nicely and is adjustable heighth-wise. It's just perfect for sitting upstairs with my laptop, and its light weight makes it easy to scoot across the carpet. I think I shall find lots of uses for it.

My resolve to not start a new punchneedle project with the new Weeks floss lasted all of 8 hours. But you knew that was going to happen, didn't you?

So I watched CSI and ER and punched and went to bed at a decent hour.

Audrey is spending the weekend with a friend and I am taking off work tomorrow. I am spending today with my office door shut and will REALLY concentrate on the tasks at hand so that I can play tomorrow with a clear conscience. Wish me luck!


Thursday, February 09, 2006

I Smell a Meltdown A-Comin'...

Have you ever had one of those days where EVERYTHING is a struggle? When you can't even make a decision on what to eat for lunch? But you know you have to eat something or you'll get a screaming headache? It was one of those days. This happens to me when I am TIRED.

I am TIRED of being responsible for everything and everybody.

I am TIRED of hearing "What's for dinner?".

I am TIRED of running Audrey all over town when she's not grateful for the effort.

I am TIRED of constantly having to be innovative and creative.

I am TIRED of salesmen telling me that I will be really sorry if I don't buy their latest fabric line.

I am TIRED of not having the energy to tackle those tasks at work that are unpleasant and therefore remain undone....making me tired all over again.

I am TIRED of dirty dishes in the sink that are not mine.

I am TIRED of wearing my underwear wrong-side-out because my husband couldn't be bothered to turn it right-side-out when folding laundry. You laugh! It happened to me twice this week.

I am TIRED of nagging my child to pick up her room, put up her laundry, do her homework, wear her headgear, fill in the blank.....

I am Woman and I am just TIRED. I know this too will pass and I hate whiners. But somedays I just have to whine or my head will explode. My problem is that I hold it all in and when it does finally come out it is overwhelming. Perhaps a good cry and a bowl of Cap'n Crunch for dinner will help.

Thanks for listening.

Another Finish

Another scrap project finished! This photo doesn't show the binding, but I put that on last night - it's yellow like the inner border. And it all came out of my stash!

While quilting it, I realized that my little check spring thingy on the tension knobs was missing. After using the machine for 7 years, I guess it just broke off. Got a replacement part - just hope I can put it on without totally screwing things up! I have a really good friend who promised to walk me through it over the phone if I hit a rough patch.

I guess tonight I will attempt longarm maintenance and I really need to do a little cleanup in the studio - it's still much better than it was before the end of the year, but if I don't keep up with it, I'll have a huge mess all over again.

We just received our order of Weeks Dye Works hand dyed floss in the store, and it's going to be all I can do not to dive right into it and start a new punchneedle design.....temptation rears its ugly head! We'll see just how long I can hold off. Bets, anyone?


Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Dullsville, USA

When I started blogging in December, I told myself that I would do my best to create a new entry every day. But what do I write about when life is dull, dull, dull?

Work, violin lessons, the grocery store, cooking dinner....blah. I have a quilt loaded on the Gammill, but won't take it's picture until it's done. I did manage to find borders and backing in my stash. Total stash used for the whole quilt will be about 10-1/2 yards. And I didn't open a single drawer....the quilt body came completely out of the 2 bins of pre-cut pieces and the borders/backing came out of the scary-messy closet. This stash reduction-reorganization project is going to take a long time...

I guess it's time to take my dull self to bed. Maybe something exciting will happen tomorrow.

Thanks for staying tuned-

Sunday, February 05, 2006

A Performing Arts Weekend

Not much sewing going on around here this weekend. Instead, it was a very "performing arts" couple of days. Saturday night, Russ had a gig so Audrey and I were on our own. We decided to go to one of the local high school's productions of "Seussical, The Musical". We got turned on to this because a friend of mine (and Audrey's violin private instructor) was playing in the pit. I wasn't so sure I would care for it, but it was wonderful! We both thoroughly enjoyed it. The quality of this high school show was outstanding.

Today Audrey and I went to the McKinney Children's Theatre production of The Sound of Music. Audrey has a friend in the cast and I am friends with her mother, so we got comp tickets. After last night's show, this one seemed kind of flat. But, when you think about it, it's like comparing apples to oranges. I have to remember that this was put on by children ages 6 to 17, in a small non-professional theatre with only a piano instead of a full orchestra. I give a hearty kudos to all the kiddos who had the guts and determination to put the time into this production.

We got home in time to watch the Super Bowl. Okay, was it just me, or did Mick Jagger sound like Elmer Fudd during the half-time show? "And I twied, and I twied, and I twied...." I wasn't terribly impressed.

Here's a photo of my most recent leaders/enders project. Didn't get a chance to dig for borders yet.

I started digging in my bucket of 1-1/2" by 3-1/2" strips. I have a kajillion of these things. I have already pieced blocks for a full sized quilt out of this bucket. I could probably piece several more.

What I did was started making braids. I figure each braid will trim down to 4" wide finished. Twelve braids 60" long will make a top 48" wide. I'm thinking this is gonna be a long-term project.....


Friday, February 03, 2006

Another One Done

Finished quilting on the Amy Butler mish mash quilt yesterday. It's okay - the best thing about it is I used 4 yards out of my stash to make it. I think this one is going to Juarez too.

Here's a photo of the back - I love the colors (which don't translate as well digitally) - magenta and pukey green.

After binding that quilt, I made the last 5 blocks for my leader/ender project ("Best Friends" by Trudie Hughes). Here's what the top half of the quilt body looks like.

It has a log cabin/barn raising effect. Man! Are there some ancient, bugly (our contraction for "butt ugly") fabrics in it, but hey - once it's finished, there will be another empty container. I'll have to go on an archaeological dig in the closet to see if I have anything for borders/backing. That may take a while.

On today's note - remember me telling you how stupid Sophie the cat is? Well, I couldn't find her last night, so she spent the night outside. I couldn't find her this morning, either. I called Russ at work and asked him if he'd seen her. Yep. She was on the sidewalk when he left. I can hear her crying....where is she? She's under the house. It's raining. She's not smart enough to realize that she CAN get back out through the hole she got IN. After several attempts to get her out (and me getting soaked), I finally had to leave to come to work. I put a small bowl of food on the back steps should she finally figure her way out. At this rate, I'll never get Russ to quit calling her "Dumb**s". But she is cute....


Wednesday, February 01, 2006

A Dose of Merle

I closed my laptop after posting my blog for the day, and there's Merle laying across my feet in the easy chair. How could I not take his picture? So for all you Merle fans, here's a fix.

The Siren's Song

I can tell we are on the downside of winter because there's a little bit more daylight each evening when I get home from work. Since Russ wasn't home yet, I didn't immediately begin making dinner as usual. I went out front to get the mail (our driveway is in the back) and decided to investigate just how bad my flower beds look. Now, those of you who know me, know that I am a fair-weathered gardener. I get all gung-ho in the spring and peter out when it gets really hot. I hung with it pretty well last summer, but with the drought I completely gave up by the end of September. I planted a bunch of bulbs and figured they wouldn't have a chance since I quit watering in October and we have had virtually no rain. So upon investigation of all the dead stuff, look what I found.....
My bulbs are coming up! I have other plants putting on new greenery also. Oh no. The siren song of gardening is beginning to call to me. However, having lived in Texas all my life, I KNOW that we are not out of the woods yet as far as hard freezes go. I just hope my new bulb-lets don't get frostbitten. This winter has been so mild, I am afraid that February is going to be brutal. We'll see.

This is what I get when I shut the studio door. Sophie is letting me know that I "forgot" to let her in. I spent this evening after dinner finishing the quilting on the Amy Butler quilt as well as making more leader/ender scrap blocks. I only need 5 more!

Hopefully, I can get the AB quilt trimmed and bound tomorrow.