Friday, May 27, 2011

Remember the Wonder Twins?

Does anyone besides me remember the Wonder Twins? I showed a clip of the cartoon to DD#3, and she just thinks it's lame. It was cool when I was a kid. DD#3, DSIL, and the grandtwins are away for the weekend, at a comicon (comic/anime convention) in Phoenix. DD#3 sent me a couple of pics (via cell phone and that's why they are small) of them from the first day of the convention. I had bought the twins the Green Lantern and Wonder Woman outfits, as well as DD#3's Wonder Woman shirt (an early birthday present), and they hunted down a Green Lantern shirt for DSIL. I still think it would have been cute to dress the twins as the Wonder Twins, but maybe no one would have known who they were. I think I must be getting old!

Yesterday was crazy around here, with workman all over the house. I found out we need all new duct work, as well as a new furnace, and probably a new cooling system. Fun stuff! I don't know how many of those things are going to happen right now, my money tree is not growing well in this drought ;-) I ended up babysitting yesterday instead of today, and Mr. S was perfect, even with all the commotion, and me not being able to lay him down for a nap because the workmen were everywhere. He finally collapsed and slept on the couch for a couple of hours, even with the noise.

It looks as if DD#1 and her family will be coming for a visit this fall, providing her husband gets his US visa approved. I am so excited for them to come, and we'll all be sorely disappointed if it doesn't come through. Sometimes I wonder why it is so hard for people to get visitor's visas. They aren't moving here, they simply want to visit since it's been four years since DD#1 has been home. I'm praying all goes smoothly with that, and we can all get together in the fall.

Today I've been getting a little sewing done, and goofing off a bit too, while the house is so empty. Tomorrow DS the Younger graduates high school, and I'm waiting until June 4th to do a big graduation dinner for him. I'm hoping for a fairly low key, low stress weekend. A girl can dream, can't she?

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Four Days of Cutting

I started cutting fabrics on Sunday. I needed to cut novelty fabrics for three I Spy quilts. I had bought some fat quarters and remnants for this projects, but mostly I was planning to use scraps from scrub tops I made. I was hoping to finish up in three days, but it took me four. At one point I probably had scraps from 200 different fabric in my kitchen.

Here was what my kitchen table looked like this afternoon. Squares and strips ready to use in quilts. I was only cutting squares and strips as I was mostly working with novelty fabrics. This was not a session to whip the scraps into shape. My main goal was cutting 6 1/2" squares for the I Spy quilts, but once I touched a piece of fabric, I cut it up until I had only crumbs or strings left.

Here is a better look at the squares and strips. The ice cream bucket has crumbs in it, and the box has strings from squaring up the fabrics. These are all sizes I routinely save and use. I have enough pieces cut for far more than three quilts, and I am thrilled about that. Whenever I start a new quilt, I always go to my pre-cuts first.

Today I cut the strips for the alternating blocks in the I Spy quilts. I am really running low on blender fabrics. This afternoon I made LOTS of trips up and down the stairs putting everything away. By the time dinner was ready, we could actually eat at the table for the first time in days.

Today was also hair salon day at our house. I cut DD#2's hair, DSIL's hair and DH's hair. DD#2 cut my hair too, and she did a fine job. For the first time in a while my hair is layered. It was time for something different. DD#2 had seen me give this haircut before, and I talked her through it. Maybe someday she'll be the one giving all the haircuts.

Tomorrow I babysit, plus our house is having an energy conservation inspection. Maybe they can give us some tips to save some money. It promises to be a busy day, but hopefully I can squeeze in some sewing.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Building a Log Cabin ;-)

I've got just over a fourth of my log cabin blocks finished. I laid them out on the bed to see how they looked together. I think they will look good when they are all sewn together, and I'm happy with how this quilt is coming out.

I have 13 of the RRCB blocks done, like the ones I posted yesterday. I need 30 of those, so not yet halfway done with those. I'm glad I chose to work on both quilts at once, I had so much more to do on RRCB, that it would have been frustrating for me to just be staring at all the work I had to do on it. At least this way, I am getting my log cabin quilt close to assembly, so I feel like I'm making progress on something, even though I still have a lot to do on RRCB.

I need to take some time to cut some new quilts out. I think I may do some of that tomorrow. Mr. Z, my oldest grandson, needs his big boy bed quilt for his 2nd birthday, and I need to get going on that. It will probably take me almost as long to cut it out as to sew it together, since it's an I Spy quilt and there will be a lot of fussy cutting. I need to make 2 other I Spy quilts as well, so I can get some of those cut at the same time. So many projects, so little time, thus is the life of any crafter.

Friday, May 20, 2011

My First RRCB Blocks

Here are my first few RRCB blocks. The colors in this photo aren't great, you can see the colors better in my last post when the pieces are sitting on the ironing board. Here are my first few RRCB blocks. When you change the colors on a mystery quilt, you never know quite how it's going to work out. So far I am pretty happy with how the colors are playing together, but I can't really picture how these blocks will look with the blue string blocks. I was going for a photo negative type variation of the original colors. Instead of red, I used the butter yellow; instead of cream for the background, I used blue. It will take time to get enough of the quilt together to decide if I am happy with my decision to go in a completely different direction with the colors.

I am still working on the log cabin blocks, basically using them as leaders/enders while I assemble the RRCB blocks. I will finish the log cabin blocks before I am done assembling the RRCB blocks, so I'll have to grab something else to work on.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Two by Two

I am in multiple yahoo groups, and I know from those that a lot of quilters only work on one project at a time. I also know I far from the only one who works on multiple projects at once. In case any of you are the one-at-a-time type person, but you want to know what it's like to work on multiple projects at once, here you go.

Since sewing time is at a premium for me, and I often only get 15-20 minutes to sew at a time, I sew all of the next steps on both quilts, chain piecing along until I'm out of pieces. This pile took three days of short sessions to sew. In this case, for the log cabin quilt I sewed on the last light colored log on each block, as well as sewing a white square onto the longer dark log. For RRCB, I was sewing the fifth HST onto the others, and sewing the triangles on for the pieced border. I really never have problems with the pieces getting tangled, they pile up pretty neatly.

After I ran out of pieces to sew, I cut them all apart at the ironing board. The pieces for RRCB are on the left, and the log cabin pieces on the right. Next step is to get all of these pressed, and then I can concentrate on sewing the next steps. For the log cabin, I have two more dark logs to add to each block (I'll press after each log) and on RRCB, the sub-units are all together for the main block, so I will start assembling the blocks. I can only work on assembling one or two blocks at a time for RRCB, or I will get confused, but I can continue working on the pieced borders until they are together. The string blocks will have to wait for later. When I get all the main blocks for RRCB together, I will probably switch to a different second project. I will make all the string blocks later, when I start working on my string Christmas stockings again.

Perhaps this gives you a better idea of what it's like to work on multiple projects at once. I am pretty good at keeping things straight, but I do have things I scale back on, like assembling the RRCB blocks. It all comes down to your comfort level, and what works for you. I feel a lot more productive when I work on more than one thing at once. Others may just feel overwhelmed and confused. Isn't that the great thing about quilting, it's versatile, and everyone that wants to quilt can do it their own way, whatever works best for their situation?

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

A Mother's Life

I have been fairly overwhelmed lately, just trying to make it through the day. There is always so much to do, and not enough time to do it. I suppose it might seem worth it if I were working on the "big" things, but lately it's just been everyday stuff that never ends. Someone posted this on facebook for Mother's Day and I've been thinking of it ever since. I would love to give credit to who wrote it, but even after an internet search, I still don't have a clue.

Mom and Dad were watching TV when Mom said, "I'm tired, and it's getting
late. I think I'll go to bed."

She went to the kitchen to make sandwiches for the next day's lunches,
rinsed out the popcorn bowls, took meat out of the freezer for supper the
following evening, checked the cereal box levels, filled the sugar
container, put spoons and bowls on the table and started the coffee pot for brewing the
next morning. She then put some wet clothes into the dryer, put a load of
clothes into the wash, ironed a shirt and secured a loose button. She picked
up the newspapers strewn on the floor, picked up the game pieces left on the
table and put the telephone book back into the drawer. She watered the
plants, emptied a wastebasket and hung up a towel to dry.

She yawned and stretched and headed for the bedroom. She stopped by the desk and
wrote a note to the teacher, counted out some cash for the field trip, and pulled a
textbook out from hiding under the chair. She signed a birthday card for a
friend, addressed and stamped the envelope and wrote a quick note for the
grocery store. She put both near her purse.

Mom then creamed her face, put
on moisturizer, brushed and flossed her teeth and trimmed her nails. Hubby
called, "I thought you were going to bed." "I'm on my way, "she said. She
put some water into the dog's dish and put the cat outside, then made sure the
doors were locked. She looked in on each of the kids and turned out a
bedside lamp, hung up a shirt, threw some dirty socks in the hamper, and had a brief
conversation with the one up still doing homework.

In her own room, she set the alarm, laid out clothing for the next day, straightened up
the shoe rack.
She added three things to her list of things to do for tomorrow.

About that time, the hubby turned off the TV and announced to no one in
particular "I'm going to bed," and he did.

I would imagine most of you can relate. Since our house is full right now, there is a never-ending stream of work to do. Eight people to cook for, wash clothes for, clean up after, talk to, spend time with, and love. It not a bad busy, just busy. I'm sure when the house is quiet again I will miss all the chaos, and I do enjoy the family and conversations. Somedays are just hard though, and I get tired, and overwhelmed, and frustrated because there isn't enough of me to go around. A couple of days ago I texted DH in frustration and told him I needed a vacation or a maid! He agreed I could use both, but since we can't afford either, we'll just keep muddling through.

So besides cooking, cleaning, and child care, what have I been doing? I have had very small bits of time to sew, less than an hour most of the time. I'm still working on the log cabin and RRCB.

We found out DD#2 has major allergy issues. She will be starting allergy treatments for the non-food allergies, and we are trying to eliminate the foods she is allergic to from her diet. She is allergic to wheat, soy, corn, tomatoes, and bananas. At least those are the ones we know. With that many food allergies she should have the more extensive food testing done, but insurance won't pay for any more testing right now, so we'll eliminate those and see if it helps. I have been researching her allergies, and corn seems to be the hardest to eliminate. I had no idea how many things corn is in. Iodized salt has corn, as does almost every medicine, every artificial sweetener, artificial and natural flavorings, baking powder, toothpaste, vitamins, preservatives, and a host of other things. She had tried a gluten free diet before, so I am already acquainted with gluten free items, but with corn and soy allergies, she now can't eat a lot of the gluten-free things either. I ordered a couple of grain-free cookbooks, but they haven't arrived yet. I read that if you have multiple grain allergies you are often allergic to them all, so although she is still eating rice and oats right now, we may find out later that she is allergic to them too, so I'm trying to find grain-free options now. She does not have Celiac disease, she has been tested for that, these are food allergies.

DS the Younger is getting ready to graduate high school. He is talking about either moving out with a friend, or joining the Air Force. I think he and DH are going to go see a recruiter soon, so he can get some information and decide.

I spend a lot of time helping DD#3 with the grandtwins. Bathtime is all mine, and Miss S is getting quite good at giving me a bath while she gets hers :-) Both of the twins are growing and changing quickly, and I am glad I get to see so much of it.

DD#1 really wants to visit from South Africa, and we're trying to figure out how to make that happen. I would love to see her, Mr. Z and DSIL. If she does get to come, DS the Elder already said he'd fly in to see her, and then we'll have a really full house for a few days. It would be fun and crazy!

I'd love to find more time to sew, but lately time is at a premium. Right now I need to go switch the loads of laundry, unload and load the dishwasher, and possibly even get a shower myself if I don't get waylaid by something else that needs to be done. Sorry if this post is boring, no photos or anything. I think I just needed to vent. I'm happy with my life, I think I just need a day locked in my sewing room. Nothing like some sewing therapy to make things look right again.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Senior Prom

Here is DS the Younger, all ready to go to his Senior Prom. I can hardly believe he is already graduating high school. I think it makes it even harder for me to realize my kids are all grown up, because I am actively helping care for the grandtwins. After all, how could my kids be all grown when there are car seats in the car, baby paraphernalia everywhere, and usually a diaper in my purse?

I think James Bond with this pose.

Here is DS the Younger with his girlfriend. The feathers she is wearing goes with the theme which is masquerade. I didn't have them put their masks on for photos. I thought it was unusual to require masks when they aren't going in costume, but whatever. I never went to prom, so I don't know if that is a common thing or not.

On the quilting front, RRCB is forcing it's way to the forefront. I wouldn't say it is my primary project now, but I would say it and the log cabin are both being worked on in equal amounts. So instead of having a leader/ender type of thing, I am making small goals for each quilt, sew on the next log for the log cabin, or attach the next HST for RRCB, and I sew all of those for both quilts chain piecing it all. I then cut it all apart and press. It takes a long time to press all of those pieces, so I've been calling my best friend who lives far away and she's been keeping me company while I press. I know several quilters who don't press after every step, and that's great if it works for you, but I am a presser, and for me it's worth the extra time it takes to press.

RRCB is actually one of the quilts that needs to be done by fall, so is OK that it's kind of forcing it's way in. Why is it at a certain point in creating a quilt, they seem to come alive and have opinions? Work on me next! I want sashing! Put me on point! Three borders, not just one!

I am still sewing HST's together for RRCB. I need 120 strips of 5 HST's sewn together. I was doing the math, and I started with 1200 triangles, sewed them together to make 600 squares. when I am done sewing the sets of HST's together I will have 120 sets, a tenth of what I started with. Of course, the goal of any quilt is to end up with only one quilt, from however many pieces you started with. There are far more than 1200 pieces in RRCB. I think it's kind of funny, there are actually an unknown number of pieces, and no two may end up with just the same number because of the string blocks. Isn't that funny, all of us doing the RRCB mystery and no one ending up with a quilt with the same number of pieces?

I am working on the last round of logs for the log cabin quilt. A couple more sewing days and I'll be ready to lay it out and get it ready to assemble. I haven't figured out how to custom make a border on EQ7 yet, so I still have to do all the math for the inner border that will have stars spilling into it.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Happy Mother's Day!

See what DH got me for Mother's Day? I'm anxious to take time and really sit down and read this book. We used to live right at the beginning of the Oregon Trail in Missouri, so I've read lots of books about wagon trains and traveling to Oregon. It will be really interesting to see some quilts that made the trip.

I did work on the log cabin quilt a little bit today. I still haven't finished the second round, I need to add one more dark log to finish round 2.

The other projects on my sewing table? In the white basket there are star parts for the log cabin quilt. All the yellow/blue HST's are from the RRCB Mystery, which I decided to use as my leader/ender project. The black pan has the remaining logs for the log cabin quilt. I think that is enough to work on right now. Working on just two projects at once is a nice break :-)

Friday, May 6, 2011

Three Quilt Centers

I didn't get everything done I had hoped to do today. I got a later start in the sewing room than I should have, but I was enjoying snuggling with the twins instead :-) I did finish assembling the quilt centers I was working on.

This is another quilt where I am trying to use up my six inch squares. Most of these squares are from men's shirts, and this will eventually end up as a veterans quilt. I am thinking a narrow white border followed by a wider border made from various men's shirts.

This is one of my go to patterns when I am looking for a quick leader/ender project. I tried it with a black background this time, which I like. I have a black fabric with flames on it for a border, but I am debating an inner border. I have a small amount of yellow with flames I could eek a very narrow inner border out of, or I could switch it up and use blue for an inner border. Blue is another fire color, which is what I was going for when choosing the squares for this quilt.

I had a lot of green 2 1/2 inch squares left over from one of the Celtic quilts I've done, but this top pretty much wiped them out. I really haven't come to any decision on borders for this one. My first thought is a narrow tan border matching the background color (I know it doesn't look tan in the picture, but it is a light tan), followed by a piano key border using more greens. I'm not sure, I just have to think about it a while.

On the log cabin quilt, I got the next two light colored logs sewn on. I'll work on those blocks more this weekend, but I need to pick another leader/ender project. I have a couple quilts cut out, or I can go back to the RRCB mystery quilt. I don't want to take the time to cut anything out right now, which is why I am not putting the borders on these quilts right away. I'll cut the borders for these when I cut out the I Spy quilts I need to make.

I did take a break from sewing today, and packed up my Brother sewing machine. I know DD#2 wants to start a new project, but she's going to have to set it up elsewhere. I need to start moving things a little at a time so eventually I can get the Juki into the sewing room.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

What I'm Working On

Remember that quilt assembly marathon I was getting ready for? Well, I have all the horizontal rows for all three quilts together, and each row is sewn to another in twos. I'm hoping tomorrow I'll have each of the quilt centers done. Two of the quilts are made from Indian Hatchet blocks and four patches, and one is made of just Indian Hatchet blocks. None have the same layout. I really like playing with these blocks, as so many designs can be made with them. They are simple blocks, but very versatile.

I'm also working on a log cabin quilt, so far I've got the first round on. I don't know how well you can see my graph paper diagram, but the third round is more complicated, and will take me quite a bit longer to do. I planned out the quilt in EQ7 and I'm glad I did, I changed the design more than once. I drew one block on graph paper just to keep at my sewing table to keep me straight on which piece goes where, especially for that last round.

Here are a few of my blocks to show you some variety. There will be well over 100 different fabrics in this quilt, probably closer to 150. The log cabin quilt is actually my primary project right now. I am assembly line sewing a log on each square, then I sew a few quilt rows from the other quilts together, before I get up and press it all. My main goal for tomorrow is to get the second round on the log cabin blocks, if I can't get the other quilts assembled that's ok. I know it will take more than one day to get the third round put on the log cabin blocks, even if I'm not working on the other quilts at all. I'm guessing it will take three days to do the third round, but we'll see. I still have to finish drawing sewing lines on my squares so I can sew the star points onto the logs of round 3. I will be starting a movie in just a bit, and hopefully finish that tonight before DH gets home from work.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Testing Blocks for Quiltmaker Magazine

A while back Quiltmaker Magazine started something called the Scrap Squad. They make the quilts in the magazine in a scrappy fashion so there can be alternate variations of the quilts. I applied to be on the Scrap Squad, but I was not one of the women chosen. I'm sure they had much better candidates than me, since I've only been a serious quilter since 2007 and I haven't ever taken a class. I never really expected to be chosen, it was just something I did on a whim, so I was fine with the fact I didn't get chosen and I started planning my next quilt.

A few weeks after the Scrap Squad application, I was contacted by Quiltmaker to be tester for Volume 3 of Quiltmaker's 1oo Blocks. I'm not much of a fan of sampler quilts, which I knew was what I was likely to make with the Quiltmaker blocks I ended up with, but after thinking about it, and realizing I give almost all of my quilts away anyway, I decided to go for it. I am so glad I did! I learned some quilting skills I had been putting off trying, and I really had a fun time working on the blocks. Since we have twin babies living here, as well as doing laundry for 8 and cooking for 6, not to mention babysitting a toddler, having a commitment of two blocks every two weeks was probably a much better fit for me than the Scrap Squad would have been right now.

This was the first block I tested for Quiltmaker. I was rather boring and made it in the colors the pattern called for. I like the block very much, and I'd like to make a whole quilt out of this block (I think the secondary patterns with this would be fun), but not in these colors.

That was when I really started thinking about colors. If I was going to be making a bunch of blocks, I should pick a color scheme so I could use the blocks in a sampler quilt to donate when I'm done. Pink and blue was definitely not something I could continue doing. I thought about patriotic colors, since I donate several quilts to the Veteran's Hospital, but I have really been wanting to make a black background quilt with brights. I figured I could make that work with any block, since I could do anything from a two color block to a scrappy block if I just used black for the background, and any number of brights. Good, now I have a plan.

Block number 2 came, and it looks great in black and brights.

Block number 3 made me glad I didn't stick with a patriotic theme. It would have been hard to do this block with so few color choices.

Then came block number four. I suppose I could have done it with a black background, but I didn't want to. I have had two fat quarters of rubber duck fabric for a few months, and no plans for it. I realized with the blocks basic measurements, I could make four blocks out of my two fat quarters. If I made five rubber duck applique blocks instead of one, I could get a baby quilt out of this!
Here is my rubber duckie quilt top. still waiting to be quilted. Isn't it cute? All of my rubber duck fabric is gone now, but what a great baby quilt I ended up with!

I then got assigned another block that would work well with my color scheme. happened. I got a block I didn't know how to make. This purse block is paper pieced, and I had never done that before. My first attempt was a failure, I didn't cut the fabric large enough, because I didn't know how to account for the odd angles when cutting the fabric and lining it up. I found a youtube video on paper piecing, that showed me how to paper piece in a way that I understood. I did fine on my second attempt, and I was pretty proud of myself for learning a new skill.

I got another applique block next. I think this block is stunning with a black background. DD#2 fell in love with this block, and wants a whole quilt with it. It reminds her of Beauty and the Beast which is her favorite Disney movie. I did the satin stitching on the flowers with variegated thread, something I frequently do with applique. I think the variations in color really make the flowers pop.

My last block was really a challenge. It was another paper pieced block, and this 12" block had 72 pieces! On the purse block, the only other time I had ever paper pieced, there were only six pieces in the one section that was paper pieced. What a difference! It took me two days to make this block, but I did get it done. Well, it was finished, but I did realize I had made a mistake in the color placement.

Overall, I had a great time working with Quiltmaker. There were a couple bugs to be worked out, but that's what block testing is all about. Magazines have multiple women make each block to catch any mistakes in the measurements, templates, or directions. It really gave me new appreciation of how much work goes into putting out a quilting publication of any kind. We may only see one version of any given quilt in a publication, or possibly a second or third color variation, but realistically, there are probably several more out there, to try to make sure the directions you get are as accurate as possible. When you do find a mistake in a publication, realize it was not for lack of trying.

I still haven't put my test blocks into a quilt. I need a few more to make a good sized quilt. Thankfully, I have a copy of Quiltmaker's 100 Blocks Volume 3, so I can choose a few more, and finish my black and brights quilt. Now my biggest problem will be which blocks to choose, there are some great ones!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Another Scooter Rally Over

It seems the last couple of months everything has been all about the scooter rally. Making rally bags, cool ties, the scooter quilt, and doing lots of cooking has taken almost all of my free time. This past weekend the rally took place, and I think it was a success. Here are some of the scooters at the rally, parked in front of one of our sponsers, Scoot Over.

It was a sunny, sunny day on Saturday, so the photos are not the best, but here is one of the women in the scooter club doing the teeter totter in the scooter rodeo. There was a big obstacle course, and the teeter totter was the most scary element. I think that shooting the "bad guy" with the nerf gun or lassoing the cactus with a hula hoop were actually more difficult.

Here is a photo of the slow drags. See the guy on the blue scooter- he won. The object of slow drags is to be the last to cross the finish line. You can't put down your feet at all, and it actually takes much more skill to drive that slowly than to drive fast.

I ended up doing a lot more cooking for the rally than I originally anticipated. I made a spaghetti dinner complete with desserts for Saturday night, but I had also made cinnamon rolls for a morning snack, and everyone in the rally got a homemade cookie. A couple of people who sweet talked me even got two ;-) My sisters surprised me and came down for the rally on Saturday. They helped in the kitchen getting the last minute details done and really helped getting things cleaned up. My mother-in-law helped with lots for the rally as well. I am pretty exhausted, so the help was invaluable.

I plan on posting again tomorrow, this time with quilty content. I had the opportunity to be a tester for Volume 3 of Quiltmaker's 100 blocks issue, and it is finally at the time I can show what I was working on. If you are curious as to what is in the issue, come check the blog tomorrow, and I'll show you some of the blocks I worked on for it. Testing has already started for Volume 4, and I can tell you the first block I got directions for looks great. Quiltmaker is so much fun to work with!