Saturday, December 31, 2011

Thanks Mem!

My mother just made the twins these cute monkey hats and two sizes of mittens too. Don't they just look precious? I had told my mom we wanted to take the twins up the mountain to play in the snow, but I haven't been able to find mittens their size. She took care of that for us. The blue mittens Mr. L is wearing are the larger of the mittens, the other size fits much better, but he thought the big ones were funny.

Plans are changing rapidly around here. I talked to DS the Elder last night, and he booked me on a flight to Houston for this afternoon, so I can help with the new baby. I am more than happy to go love on a newborn, and the new mommy!

I talked to my mom this morning and I found out she may be having heart surgery the end of next week, so I packed a few extra things just in case I need to fly from Texas to Massachusetts. She needs to have a heart valve replaced, and it is quite urgent. Any prayers on her behalf are much appreciated.

I have been running around trying to get things settled here before I left, so I've been to the grocery store and done laundry today. I didn't have much time to pack, but I just took a trip the beginning of December, so I mostly just grabbed the same stuff. My Kindle is mostly charged, my phone is charged, and I have both chargers. If I forgot something, I'm sure I can get it there. I even stopped at the bank so I'd have more than the three dollars that were in my wallet!

I have to leave for the airport in about 90 minutes, and I think that will give me enough time to rip the rest of my 300 mistakes. I only have about 20 or 30 left to rip. DD#2 has been helping me every evening. I started working on step 7 yesterday, and I have one wing one each of the flying geese units. I won't be sewing until I get back, whenever that is, but I'm hoping to borrow DS the Elder's laptop long enough to check the layout of the mystery quilt tomorrow. I decided not to take my laptop this trip. I used to think laptops were so convenient, but when traveling, they can get pretty heavy. I'm starting to wish I had a tablet. Maybe someday.

If I don't post for a while I am just traveling where needed. I hope all of you have a Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 29, 2011


I should have listened to Lewis Carroll; "The hurrier I go, the behinder I get." I was trying to get caught up on the Orca Bay Mystery quilt, and instead I just fell further behind. I was happily stitching the first wing onto the HST's, and I had chain-stitched about 300 of them, when I realized my wings were flying in the wrong direction!

Here is a pic of one of my mistakes. Sewing one wrong would have been irritating, but look at all of these.

Good thing my girls put a new seam ripper in my stocking for Christmas, because I have lots of frogging to do, rippit, rippit.

I decided to start sewing the few I hadn't messed up this morning, before I faced all of that ripping. Miss S was super clingy to her Nana today, so I decided she could get her first quilting lesson. A few times I let her choose which triangle we would add on, but at 11 months her attention span only allowed for a few of those. She did love watching the sewing machine go, and was good about not putting her fingers near the needle. She was playing with my cell phone, and that helped keep her hands busy too. I actually managed to sew about three dozen with her on my lap, and I thought that was a great first time at the sewing machine.

I sewed up the non messed up ones, unsewed some mistakes, then sewed those up too. I have 150 keepers now, so I am progressing.

I just had to see what the next step was going to look like, so I pieced a couple from step 6. I can't wait until tomorrow when step 7 comes out.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

A New Granddaughter!

Some families happen by birth, either you are born into it, or they are born into yours. Some families happen by legal means, adoption or marriage. Other families are created by a special blessing from God, not blood ties or legal ties, but tied as family none the less.

Here is my extra blessing this Christmas season, a new granddaughter, Evangeline. She was born December 26th, weighed 6 pounds 1 oz, and was 19 inches long. She was born at 36 weeks, so she was actually a pretty good size. Mama and baby are doing well, wish I lived closer so I could give them both hugs. Evangeline already has her quilt from Nana, ready to give her the hugs I can't yet.

On a quilty note, I haven't sewn on the mystery quilt at all, though that is the plan for today. I did, however, quilt the last quilt from my last pin-basting spree! I think that quilt has been pin-basted for four months now, and has been moved all over during the house rearrange. I feel better having it quilted, even if it's not bound. I have a stack a baby quilts ready to be pin-basted, with their backings and everything. When I am caught up with the mystery quilt, I think another big pin-basting spree is called for, and I will then go on a quilting spree, followed by a binding spree. Starting 2012 with a bunch of finishes has to be a good thing, right?

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas!

Miss S had a fun first Christmas. She likes her shopping cart OK, and her first doll a LOT! She started saying doll within just a few minutes of receiving it.

Mr. L got a pirate ship he can ride, and has already figured out how to push it along with his feet.

I must admit, Christmas is my favorite holiday. It's a day to celebrate the birth of my Savior, spend time with family and friends, and eat all kinds of goodies. When my kids were little, we made gingerbread houses, and I decorated the house a lot more than I usually do now. Maybe next year the twins will be big enough to decorate some little gingerbread houses!

We do all of our celebrating on Christmas Eve, and last night was a lot of fun. I ended up needing 12 stockings, so we ended up purchasing one, but I think I'll make more for next year, since we are always picking up extra people for holidays. I hate to see anyone not have someplace to go for any holiday.

Today is a quiet day. DH is working, hoping no one will need to come to the emergency room today, but glad to be there to help if they do. I am thinking I will watch a couple movies, eat some yummy leftovers, and maybe play a little in my sewing room. I got some new fabric in my stocking, and a nice comfy chair for my second sewing cabinet.

I hope all of you have a wonderful Christmas too!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

It's No Mystery

I have been working frantically in my sewing room since Monday. Working on the mystery quilt maybe? No, not a stitch on that all week. Christmas presents? No. I have been working on this...

The little guy I babysit, Seth, just got a new baby sister, Autumn. I have been debating what to do about a quilt for Autumn since I found out it was a girl. I considered just quilting a top I have done, because it would be quick. I went through my completed baby quilt tops, and none of them seemed right. I thought about making a quilt from scratch, but I never seemed to have enough time, and I couldn't decide on a pattern.

When Autumn was born last week, and they texted me some photos of her, this quilt design popped into my head. I was so excited and I wanted to start on it right away, but I knew if I started this quilt before I finished the Christmas stockings, that the stockings would get put aside yet again, and probably not be finished on time.

I made myself finish the stockings, which I did on Sunday I believe. Monday I cut the 700 triangles for the mystery quilt step 5, and I also cut out the four Happy Hour blocks from Bonnie Hunter's Addicted to Scraps column in Quiltmaker magazine. I also traced all the applique shapes I needed onto the paper side of fusible webbing. I love to use my cookie cutters for quilting stencils and applique shapes!

On Tuesday I sewed up the four Happy Hour blocks, chose the fabrics for the appliques, ironed on the fusible and cut out all the shapes. Right before bed I cut the white squares (which is a white tone on tone with leaves on it) and fused the leaves and letters where I wanted them.

Wednesday- machine satin stitched all 28 appliques onto the main fabrics, which required lots and lots of rethreading for all of the different colors.

Today is Thursday, and I got the quilt assembled with borders by noon. I pieced the batting and backing, pin-basted it, quilted it, bound it, washed it, and it's in the dryer now. I am TIRED!

Tomorrow I will not be sewing. Not at all. None. We will be celebrating Christmas on Christmas Eve, and I will spend tomorrow cooking a few things ahead of time, playing with the twins, and likely doing laundry since I do laundry every day. If I have any time in the sewing room in the next two days, I will likely cut out the pieces I need for step 6 of the mystery quilt, since I've already seen it because Bonnie put it up early. On Christmas Day I will probably get some sewing time, since DH is working and all of our celebrating will be over. I think I can probably get caught up on the mystery quilt next week, even if I take the whole weekend off. I loved all the time in my sewing room, and I feel so happy to have finished the stockings, and made Autumn a quilt in record time!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Step 5 Progress

I must admit, I haven't sewn a stitch on Step 5, but I am happy with my progress anyway. Getting all of those stockings finished yesterday still has me happy!

I was trimming the step 4 string blocks, and I couldn't resist playing around with them. I don't know what Bonnie has planned, but a block like this may need to be played with later on, lots of movement in it!

I had to switch to a bigger pan to hold all of my mystery quilt parts. I have all the Step 4 blocks trimmed now :-)

I did get all 700 of the triangles we need for step 5 cut today. Brown is my neutral, and the yellow/gold is my black, so I needed gold triangles. I should have some time to start sewing these tomorrow. I was using several fat quarters to add some variety in my golds, and this is the last bits of several of my fat quarters. If we need any more of this color, I'm either going to have to dig deeper in my stash, go buy a few more fat quarters, or do the next step that calls for this color with a limited variety. If we need gold strips, I may be able to come up with enough in my strips drawers, depending on which size we need.

I have a baby quilt I am going to try to make in just a few days. I'm just making a big nine patch with five appliqued squares and for my four squares I decided to use a block from Bonnie's Addicted to Scraps column in Quiltmaker magazine. I'm using the Happy Hour block, which someday I would like to use to make a whole quilt. I cut out the four Happy Hour blocks when I was finished cutting all those triangles.

To check how other quilters are progressing on their Orca Bay Mystery Quilts, go here

Sunday, December 18, 2011

The Stockings Were Hung by the Chimney with Care

I couldn't resist hanging some of the stockings I made at the fireplace for this photo, even though I had to take them down right after I took the photo so the twins wouldn't grab them. The twins are using anything and everything to stand up these days, whether or not it's steady.

This photo shows only seven of the stockings, but I actually made 11, and they are all finished! No using ziploc bags as stockings this year because the stockings aren't finished :-)

Since I finished the stockings a little faster than I thought I would, I decided to work on trimming up a few of the green string blocks for the Orca Bay Mystery. I cut all the squares in half this morning, and my hands were very numb when I finished. I started trimming tonight, when I could feel my hands a bit. (numbness is not due to the cutting, but is aggravated by it)

I knew I only had a limited time to cut, since the numbness in my hands is getting so much worse. I tried to come up with a way to make the most of my cutting time, and I came up with this technique. I put my Gypsy Gripper on my Companion Angle ruler, to help me hold onto it. I tilted the string triangle at an angle, and I could cut the two sides in one fairly constant motion. I was standing at my workbench while cutting, if I had been sitting or working on something at a bad height, I don't think I could have trimmed them with the same motion.

Here is a trimmed triangle, and the cut off section, which I threw away guilt free. You have to draw the line somewhere on saving scraps, and for me, anything trimmed off a string block or crumb block is trash. I left the paper on for all of the trimming, and I'll take it off sometime this week, when one of the kids talks me into watching a movie.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Close, But Not Quite

I was hoping to get all my green string blocks sewn before step 5 of the mystery quilt came out. I missed it by just a few hours! The clue came out this morning, and I sewed the last of the string blocks during Mr. S's nap today. I haven't trimmed any of these string blocks, I'll have to catch up on that part later, probably after Christmas.

Here is my pile of string blocks. You can just see a bit of the yellow/gold 2" strips I pulled for step 5. I figured I'd cut up some strips from my strip drawers, then go into the fabrics I pulled. Step 5 is the first clue I started to get confused on colors. When I saw she pulled black strips, I started thinking brown, but I'm glad I caught it before I did anything. Brown is my background color, and the yellow/golds are my black.

I finished sewing strings on the last two stockings tonight. Since I know I won't be doing strings for step 5, I'll put the seam guide back on the sewing machine before I start sewing that step, but I have no idea when that will be. If I get all the triangles cut before step 6 comes out, I'll be happy. It's a busy, busy week coming up.

I thought I was getting a handle on holiday preparations, but a couple of new things got thrown into the mix. I made a bunch of the cookies I usually make at Christmas in November when everyone was here. Well, DS the Younger said I need to make more cookies for Christmas. Since I have no idea if he'll be home next Christmas or not, with him going into the Army, I now have on my list of things to do -make more cookies.

Mr. S got a new baby sister today, and as of yet I have not made her a quilt. Of course, now I've seen pics of her, and a quilt pattern popped in my head as soon as I saw her. I have everything to make it. Well, everything except the time of course. I think I could probably get it done pretty quickly. I wanted to start it this evening, but I made myself work on the stockings instead. I won't be babysitting Mr. S for a while now, since his parents are on leave with the new baby.

Tomorrow I need to make some cookies and a savory something for DH to take to a scooter club party. That is much trickier than it sounds. He'll be leaving the house in the afternoon, and he has to carry everything on his scooter. He is going to be in the Parade of Lights in downtown Tucson tomorrow night, riding the scooter, and the party will be after that. How's that for a challenge? I have to make something that can be packed on a scooter, stay at outside temps for several hours, and still be great for a party without getting crushed or anything?

I have to decide what to work on first as far as sewing goes. I WANT to work on the baby quilt, while it's fresh in my mind. I NEED to work on stockings, and I'd LIKE to get caught up on the Orca Bay Mystery. Right now I'm leaning towards trying to finish up the stockings first, so that is completely off my plate, and not thrown off until next year, again. I started these stockings last year, they need to be DONE!

On the up side, the Christmas cards are all mailed, I am almost done Christmas shopping, most of the gifts are wrapped, and the packages that needed to mailed are on their way! Several things are crossed off on my to do list, and that makes me happy :-)

Monday, December 12, 2011

Working on Step 4

I am working on Step 4 of the Orca Bay Mystery slowly, but surely. I had hoped to get a lot of sewing done this past weekend, but I mostly helped take care of fussy babies with runny noses, as well as work on some Christmas preparations.

Here are some of each of my four steps together. I like the way the colors are playing together. The greens I pulled to use for the mystery were a dark pine kind of green, but I already had a bunch of green strings. I decided to use both, and I cut some 1 1/2" strips from the pine greens and added them to my green strings. I decided not to use the lime green strings or the lightest greens either. I'm hoping with the addition of the pine green strips to my selection of strings it will help them read darker as a whole. I had considered cutting a bunch of new strips to use for the string blocks, but that doesn't help me use my green strings, and I know the variety will look good in the quilt, even if it reads lighter than my original plan.

I haven't trimmed any of the Step 4 string blocks yet, but 23 are done, and about that many more have at least some strings sewn on them. If I get all the strings blocks done by Friday I will be thrilled, even if I haven't trimmed any of them. I can trim them later, next week should be less busy than this week.

I babysit quite a bit this week, both for the grandtwins and my little guy. The little guy I watch is getting a baby sister later this week, so I may have him a bit while his Daddy is visiting his Mama is in the hospital. I had him all day today, and I'll have him tomorrow as well. He is getting great big brother practice by interacting with the twins.

If you want to see how other people are progressing on the mystery quilt, go here

Friday, December 9, 2011

Quilting with Phone Books

I don't use phone books for looking up phone numbers. That is what the internet is for! Nevertheless, no matter how many times I say I don't use phone books, four different companies leave one on my front doorstep every year. Four phone books a year! What a waste of trees! A couple of years ago, I started using phone book pages for foundations for string blocks. Bonnie Hunter from quiltville suggested it, and I've been doing it ever since. I don't make enough string blocks to use four phone books a year, so most of them still go straight into recycling. I had four phone books in the house this morning, saved for quilting. Now I have two phone books left, and two of them are cut into foundations, in the sizes I tend to make string blocks.

These are the sizes of string blocks I make most often, 3 1/2", 4 1/2", 6 1/2", and 8 1/2". I happily cut two of the phone books up into these sizes, knowing I would use them. I still had a few of these sizes left from my last phone book cutting spree. I didn't have to cut any 3 1/2" foundations for step 2 of the Orca Bay Mystery quilt, because I had enough already. I use an old style guillotine paper cutter to cut up my phone books. I can cut 10-15 pages at a time, and I finished cutting two huge phone books up in less than two hours. It would have only taken one, but the grandtwins were fussy babies today and needed lots of love.

I'm ready to start on step 4 of the mystery quilt tomorrow. I only cut enough 5 1/2" phone book paper squares for this step, as it is a size I don't normally use. If we end up needing more, I still have two more phone books! I am using green strings for the mystery quilt, but my purple strings are out for the next stocking I need to make. I was hoping I'd be done by now, the last two stockings as far as sewing on the strings were concerned, but I didn't sew near as much as I had hoped this week. I was trying to catch up on Christmas activities this week, and I had a birthday celebration for DS the Younger to do as well. At least I finished step 3 before step 4 came out :-)

Monday, December 5, 2011

Orca Bay Mystery Step 3 Progress

It's been a busy, busy week! I am so glad Bonnie is breaking the mystery into smaller pieces this year. It is perfect for my hectic life!

Here are the step 3 units I have finished. These are in piles of 20, so 180 are done.

Here is the pile on my ironing board waiting to be pressed. These are in piles of 10, so 90 are ready for pressing.

...and here are the rest of step 3 HST's, either in the chain or just a few waiting to be sewn.

To see where a bunch of other people are at in the mystery, you can look here
I must admit, I didn't follow Bonnie's cutting directions this time. I have lots of 2" strips I could have looked through, but I decided to use my Accuquilt GO! cutter for these units since I have the correct die. I had dug out fabrics for this mystery, so I might as well use those. I cut one 3" strip from every brown and gold fabric I pulled, and I was only one strip short as it turned out, so I cut one extra from the golds. The Go! die cuts 6- 2" HST's (1 1/2" finished) at a time, but you can layer the fabric 6 layers deep. Since I was cutting with the brown and gold right sides together, ready to feed into the sewing machine, I could get three sets of six HST's cut in one pass. I ran the die through 20 times, and I have 360 HST's cut perfectly, with the dog ears already cut off! I only need 350 HST's so I have a few extra, that will end up in something sooner or later.

I'm sure there are people thinking I didn't save any time since I had to cut strips to go into the Go! cutter, but honestly, there is nothing like perfectly cut HST's with no trimming needed. I have a lot of numbness in my hands, and cutting at an angle is hard for me. Cutting strips is easy with my June Tailor Shape Cut, so for me this was perfect.

I got the front and back of DH's stocking done. He wanted burgundy and gray, but I have so few gray strings, he got two burgundy to every one gray. I just have two more stockings to work on before I start assembling them all.

DH and I took a trip to Houston last week. It was just a quick trip, Wednesday-Saturday. We got to spend some quality time with DS the Elder, and got to meet his girlfriend, possible future DIL?, time will tell. We really liked her, and she is interesting in sewing! Score!

While we were in Houston, we had quite a bit of texting going back and forth with DS the Younger. On Thursday, he joined the US Army! He won't ship out until May, but boy, is that a serious "Mom moment" when the youngest joins the military. DH was in the Army for 10 years, my dad was Army, my brother Navy, DH's dad retired from the Air Force and I have a nephew currently in the Air Force, and there are several other military people in the family. Obviously, we are a pro-military family. This is the first time I've had one of my kids join though, and I'm sure I'll cry when he leaves.