Saturday, March 27, 2010

Did I hear "Stop!"

I'm having a design conundrum. My husband has weighed in on the decision, now let's see what the general consensus is. I'm willing to wait because I'm too tired to sew anymore today anyway!

Here's the smaller of the two quilts I started yesterday (the larger is pieced, but I haven't hung it to photograph yet). On the top/left is one border option, on the bottom/right is the other option. The question is - do I add the two other borders or call it quits? Husband votes for the second option, and it is nice that way (and complete, I might add!), but it's also small - 30" x 36". If I add the other borders it's 38" x 44", which is a more useful size for a baby quilt.

Ooh, ooh - I just had another idea - how stupid am I not to see this? What if the outer yellow border was the same width as the inner one?


I just changed it on the design wall. Perfect!

Quilter math: 1 + 1 + 2 = 2

One Moda Layer Cake plus one yard matching fabric plus two pieces from my stash equals two lovely donation quilts!

I picked up a Layer Cake and matching yardage of April Cornell's beautiful collection "Nature's Notebook", and found two yellow fabrics from my stash that coordinated well. Then I found this great free pattern on the Moda site. First I made the original size with 10" blocks:
And then I resized the block to 6" and made this from the scraps:

They're not sewn together yet but you get the idea where I'm going. The brick border on this one was cut from the scraps left after cutting the pieces from the first scraps. There wasn't enough left of that layer cake to cover a cake plate! You can see on the second picture where I was fiddling with the border design before I decided to add the second yellow border and the floral outer one. Both will have yellow bindings.

I'll post better pictures after I finish walking on the treadmill, which is where I'm bound right now.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

I'm soooooo needy.....

Did you ever get on the scale right after you exercised, even though you know your weight will partly reflect water loss due to perspiration and be artificially low, because you needed the affirmation?

Oh, yeah.

Ok, I've tortured myself for requisite hour, time to get back to mending. Three pair of pants to hem (one of them jeans, oh joy) and darts to be added to the front of a pair of khakis so they fit better in the waist. Which leads me to one of my eternal questions. . .when did clothing manufacturers forget how to do darts? And when did they decided women were built shaped like cylinders? If I had a nickel for every pair of pants with gaping waistbands and sleeveless tops with saggy baggy armholes that I've tried on, I'd be a richer person. The bust dart went the way of the dodo a long time ago, but now I've noticed that they are not adding waistline darts either.

Not to mention the inseam length for Amazons that you find on most pants. Good thing I can sew.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Tramp tramp tramp

I'm back on my treadmill in a serious way again. Since it and I have a love-hate relationship, I neglect it for long periods of time, and then start back with a vengeance, only to burn out and quit again.

This time I have walked at least 30 minutes every morning for five weeks. This morning I did 2.2 miles. Believe me, that's exemplary behaviour on my part. I really, really, really hate walking on the treadmill.

For one thing, it's BORING. Nothing to do but stare at the distance readout slowly creeping upward. I have a radio, but even NPR can't rescue me. I try to concentrate on the news, but I find my mind is wandering. And I'm constrained to either walk between 9 and 10 in the morning (NPR Morning Edition) or 3 and 4 in the afternoon (Talk of the Nation). I can't walk and listen to music because if the tempo doesn't match my walking speed it drives me nuts. And I have to work in my walk between meals, housework, errands and such, so those two times are the only schedule I can meet that have talking on the radio to listen to.

Maybe I should pull a cable connection into the spare room so I can watch TV while I walk. Although that might not work because walking on that moving belt gives me a little touch of vertigo and staring at the screen might make it worse. Even looking too hard at the pattern on the wallpaper can make me queasy. I have found that I can't walk without having at least one hand resting lightly on the side rail, or I get dizzy. How do people run on treadmills? I'd fall on my head, guaranteed.


I've been thinking about doing a series of small quilts to hang near my eating area in the kitchen. A week ago I found a book on Amazon containing patterns for 21 small quilts, each just 16" X 20". This is the first I attempted.

Now, I know that apart from some non-matching points and corners, there are also distortion issues, so I'll just lay that out on the table first thing. I know, I know. Partly, it arose from the cutting instructions. Since this is on point and the designer had the constraint to make it exactly 16" x 20", many of the pieces were strange sizes and her instructions included a lot of squares cut twice on the diagonals to make small right triangles. Of course, when you do that, the 90 degree corner of the triangle is on the bias, which is a recipe for disaster, or at least distortion. That just about drove me crazy. Also, I almost never make half square triangle blocks by sewing two triangles together. You get much more accurate results drawing the center line on a square and sewing on either side. At least I do. All these small bias triangles were a real pill during construction.

I almost redrafted the pattern to be 20" x 25", because - really - what would it have hurt? Might have saved my sanity!

The next one I'll try is partly applique so it will be easier to put together. However, the appliqued center is surrounded by a border of scrappy hourglass blocks. That means I will have to pull out every storage box in the stash and cut maybe one square out of over 60 fabrics to make it properly scrappy!

Friday, March 12, 2010

D9P borders

This actually came to me after I had gone to bed. I had cut the strips for the border sides but couldn't decide what to do with the corners. I had already cut plain light corner blocks but they just weren't right. When I thought of doing a D9P block corner where the light strips continue out into the borders, I couldn't wait until morning to try it. I had to jump up, run in the kitchen, cut out one corner block, sew it together and attach it to the side borders. Then, I could go back to bed satisfied. You don't know what restraint it took to stop sewing at one corner!

One note - the corner D9P block is 6 inch and the quilt blocks are 7 inch. That is because there wasn't enough of the purple fabric to cut wider strips and still have enough for the binding. Glad it worked out.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

D9P ready for borders

This is going to be an adorable quilt for some little girl! It's been fun to make, too. I'm designing the borders today.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Runaway Toyotas

I just read the latest saga of a runaway Toyata Prius and have to shake my head in bemusement. This guy had to have the police pull alongside him and tell him to pull the emergency brake and turn the key off? The 911 call lasted 23 minutes. 23 minutes??? What kind of dim bulb doesn't know to take the car out of gear and shut off the engine? When did people get so stupid?

My husband tells the story of a broken motor mount on a '60's muscle car he owned which allowed the engine to pivot on its mounting when revved, pulling the throttle cable and jamming the throttle wide open. And on a '60's big block Chevy, wide open was WIDE OPEN. It would make the acceleration of a Prius look like a rubber-band driven matchbox car. Not being an idiot, he put it in neutral, braked and coasted over to the shoulder. He didn't run down the highway at 90 miles an hour whimpering to the 911 operator that he couldn't stop.

BBC's "Top Gear", probably my favorite television program ever, had a segment about driving in Finland where, the Finns being no one's fools, would-be drivers are put through a grueling instruction period before they are licensed and allowed on the road. I'm assuming lesson one is "If you turn the key off, the car won't go." Pity they don't teach that here.

Disappearing nine patch

Hard to believe that I had never made a disappearing nine patch block before these that I slapped together last night. I had a Layer Cake of Moda's "Fig and Plum" so I cut 3" squares and assembled these blocks, which will finish at 7". There's enough to make 36 blocks. What they will turn into I have no idea. The colors are appealing and you get a fair amount of complexity in the blocks for not a lot of time or work, so I'm enjoying this. It will probably be a Project Linus quilt, unless someone I know announces they're expecting a baby girl in the next several months.

On another front, this morning Mom found that a window in one of her outbuildings had been messed with and the screen was gone. Nothing in the building seemed to be missing, but it was obvious that the window had been pried open. The windows are aluminum frame awning type with the screen on the inside. It's fairly easy to pry on them and pivot them open. She's going to look into installing bars on the windows. We're not sure if it was jimmied the same night the downspouts were stolen or they came back last night.

A security system would have to be fairly complicated. In addition to the house, on the acre lot there is a detached garage, a small storage building where she puts the garden tools and lawn mowers and a third building about 12 ft by 20 ft that's fully finished inside, which we used to jokingly call the bunkhouse because we kids would sleep there in the summer. She uses it to store furniture, things she has collected over the years, her quilting frame, and stuff from my and my brother's childhood that we have left there for the last 45+ years (I blush to admit it.). That's the building where the window was jimmied. There's really nothing the creeps would want to steal in there, since they just want stuff to sell, probably for drug money. It would be a little hard to sneak out with a desk or a butcher block table, not to mention that stuff like that would be hard to sell, unlike scrap aluminum or hand tools they could dump at swap meets.

You know, she's not inside city limits. Wonder if it would be legal to do a little target shooting out on the back of her property, down toward the creek? Might scare the whiz out of the neighbor she thinks is doing this if he heard a little gunplay. Make her look a little less vulnerable, you know?

When I visit her in a couple of weeks I'm getting estimates for a security system, which I'll have installed and pay for. Which she will fight me over paying for. She's very independent.

Monday, March 8, 2010

A new low in criminal behavior

I called my Mom this morning and asked "What's new?"

She replied that the sheriff's deputy had just left after filling out a theft report. She got up this morning and discovered that someone had stolen the downspouts from the rain gutters on her garage. OK, I know that times may be tough, but that has to be a new definition for petty theft. How much could you get for the scrap aluminum in five 12 foot long downspouts? Maybe enough for lunch at McDonald's. They also tried to break into her storage building (for the third time) but she has a mega-lock on it now and they didn't get far.

This is absolutely ridiculous. To know there is someone low and miserable enough out there that they would steal the rain gutters from an 86 year old woman's property - and the pitiful thing is that she is 90% certain she knows who did it, and it's a neighbor. But how do you prove it?

She's having the power company install a new mercury vapor light on the utility pole so that the back yard is better illuminated. But that doesn't remedy the fact that the neighborhood is seriously going downhill. It used to be that in the area where I grew up most people didn't have a lot of money, but they weren't trash. Now it seems it's being overrun with sleazy people who will pick up anything that's not nailed down (and yank down stuff that is) and walk away with it. Floodlights probably won't deter them.

A few completed quilt tops

Finally got these hung and photographed:

This pattern was called Golden Autumn but I think it turned out more spring than autumn. Name ideas, anyone? I'm kind of partial to "Tulip Time", but that might be the yearning for spring talking. And this is the one I'm calling "Kentucky Girl Moves to Tennessee". See the orange centers in the squares and the blue outlines? UT and UK colors.This is the basket quilt I made from a Moda Layer Cake and a couple of yards of fabric waiting between Carolina Christmas mystery steps. I may have posted it before. Well, here it is again:
And the little quilt I put together while the chicken roasted for dinner last night - pin basting and all!
I'm in quilting paralysis as usual. I can't decide what design to use on this, nor on the batik one I finished a while ago.

Next thing on the list to tackle is a disappearing nine patch made from a Layer Cake of "Fig and Plum". I'm thinking of cutting the 10" squares into 2 1/2" strips and making small D9P blocks. They would turn out really small though, 5 1/2" finished, so is that too small? To visually organize the quilt, the center of each block before cutting would be dark plum and the other pieces would be mediums and lights from the collection.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Rest in peace, little television

My kitchen television quit working this morning. I was cutting out quilt blocks and watching "Law and Order", and pffffft. No picture. I wasted several minutes checking the cable box and fiddling with the television before I decided it was well and truly broken.

And I missed the end of the program. Now I don't know if the kid was a pathological killer or a poor teenager screwed up by psychiatric drugs. Rats. (I am positively addicted to "Law and Order". I never watched it on the network but now it's in syndication I'm hooked.)

But worst of all, now I have to go television shopping and try to find one small enough to fit in the corner on the kitchen cabinet. Not an easy task.

Little Zenith, why -- oh, why?

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Sunny in Tennessee (oh, what a difference a few days make)

Tuesday it was snowing. Today, a mere four days later, it's 55 degrees and sunny. I spend over 4 hours outside doing spring cleanup on the yard and garden. I can't wait until it's planting time. It was absolutely beautiful today, and it makes me yearn for warm weather and flower gardening.

I'm getting a few sewing projects completed that have been hanging around undone for too long. Of course, that doesn't mean that I'm not chafing to start something new. I'm always looking for a new quilt design. I have some Benartex fabric in the "Cider Mill Road" line and a block design I copied from the magazine "The Quilter" in 2003 that seem to want to go together.

Then, I ran across this little beauty at the Missouri Star Quilt Company's Cutting Table Blog and now I want to make it: Small quilts have been catching my eye recently. I even ordered a book of small quilt projects from Amazon, "Fat Quarter Quilting: 21 Terrific 16" x 20" Projects". Of course, I haven't gotten it yet because I'm cheap and I opted for the super saver shipping, so it's sloooooooow. Good reason to clean up all these projects that have been hanging around for a while, since as soon as it arrives I know I'll swoon over something and have to make it.

I finished piecing "Kentucky Girl Moves to Tennessee" a few days ago. I'll post a picture along with "Golden Autumn" (I haven't made up my name for that one yet) as soon as it gets two borders attached. I spent the morning piecing a backing when I should have been doing borders. These pieced backings may use up scraps and save fabric, but they sure take a lot of time.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Oh, the weather outside is frightful...

Oh, for pity's sake, it's March...when is this going to stop?