Saturday, March 8, 2008

MORE Apples?

Above is a quilt top I've had put together for some time. I started quilting it today. Wal-mart had a variegated YLI thread that I used in the cream areas. I used invisible thread in the outer border. I'm going to hand quilt apple seeds in the red side triangles and perhaps on the apples. They are poofing out because around them is somewhat tightly quilted.

Here is a close-up of the apple. I don't like the bright red with "seed" fabric for general use, but it looks neat in the apple blocks. I have often hand- and machine-quilted on the same quilt. I used to think it was weird, but I just saw a famous quilter that does the same thing. I think it was Darlene Zimmerman, but I can't be sure.

This is about 40" square and will live in our foyer. We need a change of pace there.

Good night!


Seeds of Kindness

Here is my apple core quilt as of yesterday. Many of you know I usually hand sew or quilt in the car for about 2 hours on Fridays. Not to be yesterday. I did attach 2 more horizontal rows that had been pieced earlier.

We have adopted some of the college guys at our church. The college is directly across the street from the violin lesson house. I usually park in the lot there and the boys take turns having lessons. Well, yesterday started spring break, so there wasn't a soul except for the bookstore lady in there. Both boys were disappointed that there wasn't anyone to play pingpong with, so I did the good Mom thing and played pingpong with them instead of hand sewing. I beat boy #1 soundly (even though it's been probably 23-25 years since I've even played a game!). Boy #2 thought it was hilarious until I beat him the same score, 21-3. Not so funny now, is it big guy?

I think I'll just show my apple core quilt every week so you can see the progress. News flash***the quilt will have a new name from henceforth and forevermore. I was thinking about names for quilts the other night when I stayed up so late working on Plan B (which might be Plan B, C, oh, make that D).

I had just asked for donations of scraps for my apple core quilt. I have 9 ladies who have promised to send me pieces. The truly incredible thing is that this is the first time I've "talked" to 7 of them!! I was overwhelmed with the generosity.

Since apple core makes me think of the browning, smelly, slightly repulsive remnants of what used to be something good, I am going to give this quilt a name which will make me think of the generosity and friendship I have discovered since I started blogging. The new name is (drum roll, please)...Seeds of Kindness (apple seeds, naturally). What do you think? Isn't that better??

The quilt is NOT going to Minnie Pearl. The paper pinned to the upper right corner is very small and simply reads "upper right corner". After piddling around and getting all the colors just where I want them, how tragic it would be to sew a row on the wrong side and have two blues touching!!

These lovely pieces arrived in the mail from Eileen today. Saturday's mail is usually horrendous. A few junk mail flyers on a good day. But today, I received a lovely packet of fabrics from Eileen. I just had to sit right down and cut them out. I even unpinned and unlaid my next couple rows so I could work a few of these in. In the very front is my template. It's neat because I can mark the sewing line and cutting line at the same time. It's by Brandy's. Many thanks to Eileen for her Seeds of Kindness. Look for your fabrics in a quilt near you next week :)

Flags Aflutter

I'm starting to sew some items to sell for 4th of July time, patriotic items, some of my favorite. Pieced this lovely flag quilt top today. Those are Battenburg doilies for the white part of the stripe. I listed this on eBay. I hope to make some more, but time will tell.

Maybe someone can answer a technical blog question for me. I always use the same font, color and size. Is there a way to save those so I don't have to rechoose the same ones every time?

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Natural Areas Before, During and After

This past Tuesday night, a man in our church had our two oldest children (James--king of the mountain here and Elisabeth to his left in the picture in the tan jumper) working at his store along with several other teens, taking all the stock off, removing and replacing all the shelves and restocking. They worked after the store was closed and got home quite late (1:30 AM, I think).

Last night at church he and his wife approached me and were like chickens on a June bug going on and on and on and on about what hard, responsible workers James and Elisabeth were for them. I thought it was nice of them to say that, but I guess I need to get out more and realize that not everyone has children who are so responsible and hard-working. My eyes are tearing up a bit here because I'm so guilty of always expecting MORE.

I got everyone to pose for a quick picture above. Luke was working construction elsewhere and Rachel was watching Emma (3) in the house. Moments after the picture was snapped, this was the scene...

James and Emily filled empty wheat buckets (I think they are 5-gallon buckets) with mulch, Elisabeth carried it and dumped it. Susanna, Benjamin, and I raked it out evenly and around existing plants if necessary. Isaac did a little bit of everything from pulling weeds, carrying buckets, fetching drinking water, checking on Rachel & Emma, etc. Elisabeth had a neat and efficient technique for dumping the buckets. Picture below. She was such a non-tiring worker. Those buckets were heavy. I was carrying them for a while, but she just wouldn't let me continue doing it. My right elbow has been aching to the point where it wakes me up at night occasionally and I'm crying because it hurts so bad. I haven't injured it, so I suspect it's a form of arthritis. Anywho...

This is a before shot of one of the natural areas:

This was the same area after. Doesn't the grass in the front yard even look greener? I think it does. Notice how much farther the shadows are to the right? It took us a while.

Here's an action shot of Elisabeth's dumping technique (do not try this at home)...

I told her it looked like a move out of an exercise routine! She'd swing the bucket in her right hand across her body to her left, then pick up her right knee and catch it on the momentum back to dump to the right, then reverse and do the left, never having to set a bucket down.

She and Emily had a great surprise a little while after we were finished. The aforementioned employer called and asked if they could work in his store for a few hours here and there (maybe as much as 16 hours a week) when he got a truck in that needed unloading and stocking shelves. He wanted our oldest 2 boys, too, but they both already have jobs with as many hours as they can handle along with their schoolwork and home chores. The owner and his wife are Christians that attend our church. They will drive the girls home when their work is finished. That is an answer to prayer for me about my girls.

I'm just so proud (in a non-prideful way, LOL) of the young adults that they are becoming. Sure, they have their faults (must be their father's DNA), but all in all, great young people to be around.

When we were nearly finished with the job, they sent me off to pick up pizza for lunch. Ahhh...I love it when a plan comes together.

~Happy Mama Joan

Why My Plan B Quilt Is Not Quilted and Bound...Yet!

The arrival of anyone, and if they slip past our vigilantes and actually ring the an activity of high-level excitement at any time in our home. This is a scene I have oft seen as a visiting eye-witness in two types of families...those with many children and home-schooling families. As you know by now, we are both. This truck pulled into our driveway amidst cries of "Mommy--it's here! Mommy--it's here!" What is "it", you might be asking yourselves...

"You want it WHERE?" he is thinking (that's me on the right). Another weird thing about me is that I detest/abhor/dislike/hate having my picture taken. I'm just doing this for YOU.

Goodbye truck (exiting to the right), hello, Emily! Emily had been up the street babysitting Emma. She has been called back home. Reinforcements are here! Not that we needed them...yet. WHAT did he leave?? Did he leave enough?

Susanna stands ready, smiling, with dry teeth (because she's been smiling so long), rake in hand. WHAT will she be raking? Is she really looking forward to WORKING?
Come on, move that mountain! A mountain of mulch. Beautiful, brown, rich, moisture-holding mulch. Our natural areas will be beautiful in no time.

More later!

It is so inspiring to me (yes, that is the exact right word) to see families working together, working hard, and enjoying it. So I'll continue later with action shots. We have two huge natural areas that look sooooo much better now. Elisabeth and Susanna encouraged me to take action shots. I'm sure my WH will enjoy seeing them as well as those of you out in blogland.


Plan D??

Just sewed up a few of the dark blocks because now I'm wondering..."is the original light star/dark background block worth the work?" In the picture above, the bottom left block is the original one in the pattern book. If you look at the block on the far right bottom corner and the top middle, notice how the piecing isn't as elaborate as the "original"? I would need to cut and piece 328 of the HST units if I went with the original pattern (that's 656 triangles that finish at 1-1/2" square when pieced). If I employed the same piecing as the other blocks (cream background above), I would save oodles of time. I think it would look marginally nicer done the original way, but would it be worth the extra "oodles" of time? I don't think so, but I can be swayed. What do YOU think? There's a POLL for you to vote at the top left of the blog page if you wish. It will be there a week.

Which TWO of These Blocks Are Not Like The Others?

I have some new-found b-friends (that's what my WH calls my blog friends) that are into scrap quilts as much as I am, or so it appears! I have spent much of my sewing time recently thinking about why I make the quilts I do. Why not just pick out 3 or 4 fabrics and sew a quilt from them?? Several well-used cliches come to mind..."There's no accounting for taste." "To each his own." "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder." We all have our favorite colors, designs, styles. That doesn't mean if I like my quilt better than yours that you're not a good person or I don't like YOU!! I digress.

I'm not sure I would enjoy making a completely planned quilt at all. After one block, the excitement would be gone. I wouldn't be seeing "old friends" (aka former favorite fabrics that I only have one 2" square left from)...

Last night after church I was putting together a few of the units from my Plan B quilt. I was musing over the generosity of the ladies who are selflessly sending me Thimbleberries scraps for my apple core quilt. I have only had contact 2 of the 7 before this. And I think Lisa is moving to the mainland so she can buy Thimbleberries just so she can say she participated in my quilt (LOL--I'll know when Lisa reads this!). Well, there I was, mindlessly connecting block units into the "big block".

I looked in a little drawer where I keep leftover small block units that I have marinating for a better day, and what did I see? SEVEN centers for the very block I was making...well, sort of. Look at the picture below and see how long it takes you to see "which TWO of these blocks are not like the others"...

Well, you either spotted them right off, or scrolled down out of desperation. You know I wouldn't leave you hanging! The top left and bottom right blocks are my "found" blocks that sort of looked like the blocks I was piecing. I was trying to sort through my quilt memory and remember when I made them. I think it was when I had seen the "Plan B" quilt originally, but didn't have the book yet, so was guessing at the block construction.

I was struck with inspiration for a NEW name for this quilt. It will be "Plan B...and C". The alternate 7 blocks will not stand out in the finished quilt. That's the glory of the scrap quilt. If you're close enough, anything goes!

Here is the way the block is SUPPOSED to be made...notice the corner units are two 2" squares (a color and a light) with a 2" x 3-1/2" rectangle of light beside them?

When I pieced the one below, I didn't know about the easier corner, so I pieced the center. Well, I just added a cream sashing around and put a 2" colored corner on so from a little distance (please scroll up to first picture if you forget) it appears the same as the REAL block.

I love it when a plan comes together, even if it is Plan C. Or Plan B and C!!

I had laid out a few blocks from the units I have been stockpiling. I just wanted to see how they would look. So I pieced and ironed 20 of them! That is very exciting because I only need 40 of the light background blocks. At this point in time, everyone else in my family was asleep. Translate that: no interruptions. So I thought, "Hey, the night is young, even if I'm not." I sewed up as many blocks as I had units for, and ended up with 35 blocks!! Whoo hoo--only 5 more of these to make, then I can concentrate on the light stars with the dark backgrounds. Zooming along.

More on the creative scrap process later...


FRESH Bread ~ Baked Daily on the Premises

Here are some of the fruits (well, loaves) of Susanna's labor of yesterday. She is 13. S-n-i-f-f... can you smell the aroma of those fragrant loaves? We mill our own flour from fresh wheat, and this bread is scrumptious, plus packed with great nutrition and fiber.

The sign on my very red kitchen wall (are you catching on that I sometimes still can't believe I painted the walls that color?) is a score from a yard sale several years ago by daughter Elisabeth. Very fitting in a kitchen that bakes bread nearly daily.


Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Apple Parings Desired

Here is what my Apple Core quilt will look like after I get all the pieces I have cut out sewn together. In the picture, the top right is already sewn. It will measure about 26" x 24" with these pieces.

Pardon me for a second while I get off my computer chair and get down on my knees (I'm about to grovel). I just realized how L-O-N-G it it going to take me to get this quilt up to any large size with the fabrics I have if I keep it a charm quilt. So...

...if anyone out there has Thimbleberries fabrics that are 4" x 5" or larger that they would be willing to mail me, I'd love to have them. I know that's borderline begging. And I'm being snobbish about it by only asking for Thimbleberries. They just don't play nice with other fabrics. I don't want any creams. I'll send you a recipe for great apple dumplings in return, written in my own hand, along with cream Thimbleberries to match the amount of fabric you send me. Seriously, ladies, if you have a bunch of small pieces of T'b and you're just going to let them rot, please send them my way.

To distract you from the begging above, I'm showing you quite possibly the cutest 8-year-old in the country, who happens to reside at MY house and calls me Mommy.

This was Ole Blue Eyes first thing this morning. Certifiably huggable, right??


Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Flannel Quilt Top on eBay and RAIN!!

With global warming taking over and all, I am giving up on keeping this flannel quilt top in my home. I listed it on eBay (and have the matching backing listed separately). I was getting ready to quilt it, and dreaded being under all that toasty flannel while quilting. Then the obvious hit me...why would I be making a flannel top and back quilt for here in the good ole NC area? Must have been a moment of insanity.

Just click on the link to the left that says whistlersmother10's auctions to go directly to eBay.

So, my loss is your gain. This is made with the original fabrics that the quilt pattern uses.

We are having rain, Rain, RAIN all week. Boy, did we need it!


Monday, March 3, 2008

Antique Quilt Border is Quilted!

This quilt has been slow-going lately. It's a little too large to be hand-quilting in the driver's seat of our 5-speed that I zoom around in when I just have one or two children with me, so I've just been working on it at home, which is hardly ever. But a big milestone...the entire border is hand-quilted with hand-drawn Baptist fans.

I just have a few blocks to quilt, and 2 rows of the sashing. So I'm nearly there!