Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Busy busy busy

No pictures tonight because I'm packing to visit my mother, but I have been a sewing whirlwind the last week. I completed three wall quilts and added the border to the "Boston Common" bed quilt. I have a fourth wall quilt 60% or so done; it contains some applique, which is half complete, and has pieced borders, which are made and waiting to be attached when the appliqued center is done. I love feeling this productive!

I also straightened my stash closet, which was slowly becoming a disaster area. I had been pulling pieces from my stash and not putting things back in order, so a pile of fabric had collected in the floor - bad me! Well, it's all sorted and replaced in the boxes. I also decided to separate the longer cuts of yardage and fold/stack them separately from the boxes of smaller pieces sorted by color. That way, when I want to start with a focus fabric, I have all the choices right there at hand.

Oh, there went another airplane overhead. We've been listening to them for about four days now, and it's not usual. I am scared the airport has made some major changes to the approach paths and we're in for it now. We live about a mile as the crow flies from the airport, to the southeast. It has two runways, oriented northeast-southwest and northwest-southeast. The first is the longer runway which is in daily use. The second one is shorter and seems to be used for military planes and private craft, and is in use much less except for National Guard weekends.

Anyway, the usual approach for landing is from the northeast or the southwest, perpendicular to an imaginary line between me and the airport, so we never hear anything. However, sometimes they close the main runway for maintenance and detour all flights to the alternate, which puts the approach right over my neighborhood, practically right over my house. Depending on the type of plane, it can be loud. Of course, this is a small airport and the only commercial flights are small jets, but still.... I'm hoping this changes by the time I get back or I will start to worry.

In the meantime, I'm heading for Kentucky for five days to help mom with some yard work. She had new drains laid and the ditches need smoothing and reseeding.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

What you find in the bottom of the closet

Ever since we installed the lovely cherry shelf and quilt hanger in the hallway I have been struggling to find the perfect quilt to display. Finally I decided what I needed was not one perfect quilt, but an array of small quilts to change by the season, the occasion, the whim. It could be my rotating art exhibit. And, since it was in the hall near my bedroom door, guests wouldn't necessarily see it, so I could go wild with color.

I started with my Delectable Mountains Whirligig quilt. It's back from the longarmer and waiting to be bound. I then found a wild teal and orange and yellow basket pattern and pieced a darling, VERY bright small quilt. Then the red/white/blue star that I showed a few days ago. While I was sewing on that quilt I remembered some Thimbleberries projects that I had begun but not completed several years ago. So, I went closet diving.

WELL! What you find in the bottom of the closet! There they were, four seasonal wall quilts (one pieced, the others cut out), my blue "big mistake" quilt (see previous post), a rose applique with yellow floral border and a small pine tree Christmas table topper (half quilted!). If I was looking for wall quilts, I had hit the motherlode.

The Thimbleberries quilts were from, gulp, spring of 2002. The date is right there on the web page I printed with the photos. They were the Thimbleberries Club projects for 2002. I, being cheap, decided that I could draft the pattern and use my Thimbleberries fabric to get the same look as the kits for sale. I had a lot of Thimbleberries leftovers back then. So, I dived into my stash, figured out the patterns, and constructed my own kits. The Club patterns were 60" square; I wanted wall quilts so I shrank them to 42". (It's so handy to be able to draft patterns.) I completed the Christmas quilt but stopped there.

Why, I wondered. There were a lot of reasons. My father-in-law's kidney cancer recurred in his lungs. That spring, my mother-in-law became ill and her brain tumor was diagnosed. My husband was out of town a lot seeing about them. I started working much more overtime at the power plant, and the utility started having more and longer outages as we did some major equipment replacement. My mother-in-law and father-in-law passed away. My mom had health issues. My husband and I did too. I continued to sew, at times only a little, through all of this, but these projects were stored and forgotten.

Now, they look fresh and new to me. I couldn't be more pleased with them if I had happened upon them at the quilt shop yesterday. And best thing of all - no money spent! I know that I have other home-made kits packaged and stored in the bottom of that closet. Enough to keep me busy for quite a while. If only I could quit reading the quilting magazines and getting new ideas!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Did I really do that?

Soon after we renovated our kitchen, I set out to find a pattern for a small blue quilt to hang in the back entry hall. Keepsake Quilting had a small sampler quilt with the right blues, using Civil War repro fabrics which seemed just right. Happily I pieced the small sampler, thinking "This will be perfect in the kitchen, and I'll even hand quilt it."

So I pieced it, basted it and started quilting. As I neared completion of the first row, something caught my eye.

Here's a view of the whole quilt:

And here's a close-up: (do you see it?)

Yep, I goofed up the Clay's Choice block! Now, how did I piece it, press it, baste it, and start quilting before I saw that mistake!

At that point, I folded it up in disgust and put it in the closet. This morning I was pulling out UFO's and found it, three years later. I need to finish it, and the only thing I can do is pick loose that one patch and hand sew it back in using an applique stitch. Sometimes you find a screw-up like this and wonder where your brain was at the time!

Latest project

This is a terrible picture, taken on my office floor, and the colors are a little off, but this is my latest piecing completion. It's a pattern from the Better Homes and Gardens Quilt Sampler, Fall/Winter 2008, and it's 42 inches square. It looks rather different that the magazine quilt, even though it's red/white/blue like theirs, because I used a floral in the outer border. I am pleased to note that this is 100% stash - nothing purchased. It also contains some of my 21 year old blue print!

Oh, and I incorporated a peeper! Since many of my quilts are done by a longarmer using a panto pattern, I had never added one of these small piping trims before. It's right there at the outer edge of the thin inner border. It's so small that you barely see it.

I hope my longarmer can quilt all-over stars, because that will perfectly finish this patriotic-colored wall quilt.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

OK, I've had some of my fabric stash for a long time...

...but this is ridiculous. This fabric is old enough to drink!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

I thought I bought that chair for me......

I really, really did.

New project, same old troubles

I started a new quilt today just for myself. Here's the pattern that's the basis; it's by SuzGuz Designs and is called Boston Commons. I'll be making it larger and adding a border. The fabric is Windham's "A Little Bird Told Me", which I fell in love with and finally had to track down on Ebay because the stores were sold out of the fat quarter bundle. I seldom copy anything directly, but I loved the colors.

On the home front, I walked over to the kitchen counter this evening about 8:00 pm and found a swarm of tiny black ants that weren't there at 7:00 pm when I cut my husband a piece of pie. Honest to goodness, they found a couple of pie crust crumbs on the cabinet and called a few thousand of their closest friends to join them in an hours' span. I have never had so much as one ant in this house in fifteen years. I suppose a queen ant set up her colony near or under my house and the first foraging party got lucky. Now I'll have to call the exterminator to spray all those noxious chemicals around. I pulled out the Black Flag can and routed them for the night, but they're out there.

I would write more this evening but the recurring joint pain I deal with has decided to put my left shoulder out of commission. (That's why I'm on the computer at 1 in the morning. No sleeping tonight. And no typing with two hands either.) So my luck is holding.

I'm expecting the swarm of locusts any day now.

Monday, September 15, 2008

What's all over the driveway?


Thousands of them. Hundreds of thousands of them. Courtesy of my prolific red oak. The one that wasn't content to tear up my driveway with its roots. Or clog my gutters with its fuzzy pollen each spring. Or prolifically scatter leaves each fall that NEVER ROT. (Why the world isn't hip deep in oak leaves is beyond me. They simply never degrade. There are oak leaves beneath my foundation plantings from 1982, I swear.)

Anyway, all these acorns make a trip out to the mailbox a perilous excursion across a mine field of little organic ball bearings. Every time you pull in the driveway you crush another few thousand into a gritty powder that gets tracked into the house. And when my lawn guy mows this week it will be like shooting off a shotgun when his mower slings volleys of these acorns at the house.

You get the idea I don't like the oak tree? Well, I'm not crazy about it. But it's the healthiest tree on the property. The prolonged drought in the southeast hasn't fazed it. It also shades a large portion of my house, and in air conditioning season that's very welcome. It's kind of a mixed blessing.

In the next few days I will get to watch the squirrels and chipmunks gathering cheek-fulls in a delirious fit of greed, and see acorns crammed into every crack and crevice within a mile of the house. It's like rodent manna from heaven, I guess.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Just say no to movie remakes

I popped over to Yahoo and what do I find but an advertisement for the movie trailer of a remake of "The Day the Earth Stood Still" No. NO NO NO NO NO NO NO.

I have only one thing to say. "War of the Worlds" remake. Get the picture?

It's done!

And --- whew!

I just put the final stitches in it, and stuck it on the wall for a celebratory photo. Now I have to find a framer who is experienced with needlework.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

One more bug and I'm done

All of the background is completed. Now I just have 37 dragonfly patches and it will be finished. I probably need to put it away for a little while. I used all that waiting time with the plumber this past week for applique and I'm a little burned out.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

OK, not really a hysterical woman, just a little tired

OK, well, the last few blogs seem a little petty in second reading, but as I replied to Paula, you just want to tell them "Recognize me? I'm the one with the checkbook." I don't know why it's so hard to get anything done right the first time any more.

Like the four wheel alignment that was done on my Subaru recently. I'm sure they did a fine job on the alignment, and it drives great, but the steering wheel is is not straight when the wheels are pointing directly forward. Not a lot, just a smidge, enough to bug the daylights out of you. And to fix it, I will have to drive back to the alignment shop and wait while they get to me (they don't take appointments) and redo the alignment so that the steering wheel is straight (which, by the way is a criterion on alignments. I'm not being stupid here.) Will I do it? Probably not for a couple of degrees off. But they should attend to the details.

Hot water finally

Well, the plumbers returned and weren't particularly nice about it (quote: "People have different preferences on how hot their water is." Yeah, but the operative word here is HOT.) I took umbrage with the concept that I evidently didn't know what hot water was. The first thing out of their mouth was they would adjust the thermostat. I replied that wouldn't you do a little trouble-shooting first? They responded that it was a new heater, why? Like nothing new ever breaks, right? I got a little snippy with them and the scheduling person at their office, but they worked on the heater and it was better - still not as good as the old one.

This morning, I crawled under the house and readjusted the thermostats more and finally have something approaching hot water output. I can't believe getting a new water heater would be this miserable.

The only good thing about this is I have been sewing like mad on the dragonfly to pass the time and assuage my anger!

Friday, September 5, 2008

Well, not exactly hot.....

warm water, maybe. That's what I have now. The plumber replaced the water heater yesterday and now I have 110 degree water from my hot faucet. I didn't even have to mix any cold water with it to shower this morning. I must have a defective element or thermostat on my brand new water heater. They're coming back today to look at it. Already almost $700 out of pocket and it's not done yet. More labor charges to come. Why, oh why, does everything I touch come out like this?

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Money money money ......

I crawled under the house with the termite company guy during the yearly inspection and what do I find? The water heater is leaking. So there's more money to be spent this summer. I don't have a clue what it will cost. The worst thing is, the darned water heater is under the house in the crawlspace, so you can't install a regular one, oh no, you have to buy a short squatty one that will fit in a limited headroom area. Rats.

You also can't get a bigger size because its diameter is limited by the width of the crawlspace door, which I found out the last time this happened about 10 years ago. I was hoping to install a larger water heater then to have more hot water capacity, but no such luck.

Boy, it just keeps on this summer. As I told my hair stylist yesterday, I feel like handing over my wallet and saying "Here, take what you want." Wouldn't you think an electric water heater would last more than 11 years? That's the service life we got out of the last two. My mom's gas water heater was installed at least 25 years ago and it's still going strong. What's the difference? Does everyone else get this length of service out of an electric water heater?