Thursday, December 31, 2009

Standing on the edge

In review, here are the first sentences from the 2009 entries of this blog:

Jan = We visited the new aquarium at the Wildlife World Zoo on New Year’s Day.

Feb = I'm keeping track as Baby K grows by taking pictures with a stuffed bunny.

Mar = Phew...I finished the hanging sleeve on my show entries last night at 9:30pm.

April = Hey Blogger, why is uploading photos hit-or-miss these days?!?

May = Here is my progress on the QOV Mystery (#7 from Persimmon Quilts).

June = I spent most of Monday at my longarm.

July = It officially HOT here in the Valley of the Sun...105 and above every day for the next two weeks at least.

Aug = It's time to start on the vintage quilt.

Sep = Work is kicking my butt this year.

Oct = I finished knitting the last of the mitered squares - Hallelujah!

Nov = writing!

Dec = We bought a new Christmas tree, and I'm looking forward to decorating it tonight.

I did a lot of quilting, which was fun, most of the time. (We shall not speak of the purple beast, LOL) My knitting focus was, and continues to be, my mitered square afghan. Although I vowed not to cast on any socks until it was done, I faltered on Christmas Day at my mom's house. Santa brought sock yarn, what's a girl to do???

We've looked back over the year, and it is also the close of a decade. What were the highlights of the last ten years for you? I have to say I much preferred the 00s to the 90s...thanks to my wonderful family! After a lifetime in the Air Force, as a brat and a service member, it is amazing to think I have been in the same city this whole decade, and seven years in the same house.


Tuesday, December 29, 2009

New Quilt Designs

I finished Judy's "Freeze Frame" pattern...I'll post a full picture after I get the binding on. Here is the design I used in the big squares. I'm calling it "Shark Tooth." Just a few spiky arches in one direction then switch towards the other corner of the block.Here's how it looks on fabric:
I used green, gold and brown fabrics, hoping for a manly look since I will send this off to a soldier as part of the Quilts of Valor project. I wanted a simple, quick quilting design to complement the blocks. I really like how it turned out!

In the smaller squares, I used a design I learned from Linda Matteoti. She was having us practice with rulers, stitching from the midpoint to the corner of a square. I thought it made a cool star:So, I call this the half corner star, since you travel from the halfway point to the corner :-)
Here's a diagram to help you visualize the stitching line.Five days left of always goes by much too fast. I did NOT get enough quilting time!! I have lots of things mentally lined up to work on in the New Year, but I have a project with a deadline that must take priority. It's a gift, so no pictures. If you need inspiration, visit Leah and her free motion design project.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Tis the Season

For Christmas pageants, where at least we *look* like an angel...
Baking cookies with Grandma...Santa came through with a pink Barbie bike and pink Barbie helmet...
And Grandma's driveway is the perfect place to play!All the fun sure tires a girl out!
Enjoy your holidays!

Saturday, December 05, 2009

New Project!

We bought a new Christmas tree, and I'm looking forward to decorating it tonight. Bentley says we'll have some popcorn, too, and I always watch "The Sound of Music" when I put up my tree. Not really a classic Christmas tale, but it was always on TV during the holidays when I was little, so there's the "tradition."

I cast on for a sweater vest. It uses two colors of Noro variegated yarn. I love watching the new colors emerge! This is a testament to my increasing skill as a is working up very quickly.
The mitered blanket is about halfway done. Yes, I *have* been working on it for years! I finished the individual blocks a few months ago, and I started the seaming process. Note my two different techniques. The right side is done with crochet, and the left is mattress stitch. I'm kicking myself because I tried to figure out mattress stitch from a book, decided it didn't look good, and went with crochet. The crochet doesn't look very good either, but it was faster than my interpretation of mattress stitch! Over Thanksgiving, my mom taught me the right way to do mattress stitch, which doesn't take very long, and makes an invisible seam. You guessed it, I will be taking out all the crochet seams. This project has taken so long that it is worth doing the best I can.

The purple beast left my house a couple weeks ago, hooray! I am taking a break from quilting for other people so I can work on a few of my own projects. I dove right into this beauty.

Paper pieced, 40 pieces per block, and I need 42 blocks. Oh, and to make things exciting, it needs to be done (pieced, quilted and bound) by mid-June. (No, I can't quit my day job)
1680 pieces to sew, plus picking off all the paper...I'll play Scarlett O'Hara and think about that tomorrow!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

All Talk... writing! NaNoWriMo fell by the wayside very quickly. I got about 2500 words into my novel, realized it was really hard work, and promptly rationalized that I have other, more important things to do in my life. Any time I flirt with another hobby it fans the flames of my quilting desires, so that's what I've been focusing on.

Which brings us to the topic of the purple beast. Quilt from HE&L! I started out with beautiful feathery pinwheels in the background areas. Quilted down to the last row, and the bottom border had huge ripples. GRRR. Thought I could pick out a few blocks and ease in the fullness (this was back in started, life got hectic, ripping was easy to ignore.) October rolled around and I started to get nervous messages from the customer, so I finished ripping and put the quilt back on the longarm. Darn, re-sewed that side and still had extra fabric in the border. Decided the only fix was to rip out everything and start over. Bentley helped, we worked every spare minute ripping stitches out for a whole week, and finally I was ready to sew again. I rotated the quilt 90 degrees, measured carefully, and started quilting with a pantograph. Yesterday, I got to the bottom edge and about lost my mind. STILL HUGE RIPPLES. The customer will just have to put up with a few puckers, because I have quilted the thing twice and can't make it flat. I have one spot left to quilt where my tension was off, and then it's done. I can't wait...better go check to see if there is any champagne in the pantry, LOL!

Sorry, no photos. Kendra is in a non-smiling mood these days when the camera comes out. Quite the little princess! She delights us everyday with snippets of songs from her music class and church choir. Just adorable.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

It's a Conspiracy

The universe (or my internal editor, or fear of failure, or...) is throwing obstacles in the path of my novel-writing escapade. I have a quilt that I need to finish for a friend/customer. I've had this quilt (hereafter known as the purple beast) since June - it's a Christmas present. Other projects with more immediate deadlines kept cropping up, then school started, then I noticed a big mistake and had to rip out my quilting. I thought I had fixed the problem so that I could quilt like crazy this weekend and start my novel on November 1st with the other insane NaNoWriMo folks around the world. NOPE. The purple beast reared it's ugly head, and the only solution I could see was to rip out every stitch and start over. Ripping out quilting is a huge job. Which means the few hours of free time that I had intended to use for writing over the next month, are now usurped by the purple beast. But I refuse to give in without a fight, so I will give up some precious sleep, and write anyway. Take that Universe and purple beast - I'm not quitting!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

How do you eat an elephant?

One bite at a time.
NaNoWriMo is code for National Novel Writing Month. I "win" if I write 50,000 words that somehow resemble a coherent story.
Yes, I know this is just more evidence that I am certifiably crazy. But, I need to stop dreaming and start doing. I was about 8 years old when I first got the idea to write a book. Then, in 6th grade, in a class for advanced students doing independent projects, I wrote a story and bound it between cardboard covers. My bookshelves are full of writers-how-to titles. Now it's time to get back in touch with my younger self who was able to put pencil to paper and end up with a finished story. That is my goal in November.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Phase 1 complete

I finished knitting the last of the mitered squares - Hallelujah! Phase 2 is the seaming. After I get the squares sewn in groups of three, I will lay them out to check on color placement and size (remember, the crazy plan is to have this fit my queen size bed). Then comes the border.

It's probably insane to think I could have this done by Christmas, but with cooler evening temperatures there is an incentive! And it was so fun to cast on a pair of socks after almost six months of stockinette stitch.

Here is Kendra, all ready for a sleepover at Grandma's. Everything is packed in her Disney princess backpack.
My latest quilt project was a log cabin charity quilt. I did some meandering leaves on the dark half of the log cabin, and a spiky ferny thing on the light side.Happy Stitching!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

I quilted today!

Yay for me! I had a doctor's appointment this morning, so I burned a whole sick day and enjoyed some quiet time in my sewing room. Judy has started another Quilt for an Hour project. I was able to finish the first two steps...instructions are only posted on weekdays so I will definitely us the weekend for catching up!Does it count as stash-busting if you use someone else's stash??? I raided my mom's fabric collection for green and browns. I'm thinking masculine colors for a potential Quilt of Valor donation. I'd better get busy at the longarm so all the QOVs I've done this summer can be put to good use!! FYI - visit for details about a Vermont effort to collect 200+ quilts for service members.

Of course, since I did NOT buy season tickets this year, the Phoenix Mercury have advanced to the second round of the WNBA playoffs! I keep meaning to go to a game, but when it comes right down to it, I'm usually too tired, don't want to drive downtown and pay for parking, food, etc. I've been able to watch most of the games through a live feed on my computer. Some of the playoff games are on ESPN2, which makes for good knitting time.
I'm almost done with my mitered square blanket!I need to block the blue-yellow-green squares, then the blue-pink-purple will be my last color combination, for a total of 81 individual blocks. I've seamed about a third of them, so I need to finish that and then knit the border. Maybe it will be done by Christmas?!?

Of course, I need a few days for this...
I got an email coupon from Barnes&Noble, so I stopped by after my appointment today. I didn't realize it was new on the shelf today! This is #7 in the Outlander series, so you really need to start from the beginning to get the full effect of Claire traveling through time via stone circles and falling in love with Highlander Janie Fraser. I've heard rumors of a movie version, but this is definitely a case where no mere human actor will be able to live up to the millions of reader fantasies!

Monday, September 07, 2009


Work is kicking my butt this year. My afternoon classes are remedial algebra...let's just say it's a tough crowd. I come home exhausted every day. I am going to try more structure than I usually impose in my classroom and hopefully the students will calm down and we can all have a little bit of fun. Enough of that! Here's some happy stuff -

I joined the I-Spy fabric swap hosted by Wendy and Meredith. I took 80 of the 200 squares and put them together as four-patches.Then I added some green sashing, next will be a blue border and then it will make some child very happy!

You'll have to click on this next photo to see my quilting. My guild's challenge this fall was "Anything Geometric" so I tried some new meandering patterns with right angles (in orange) and triangles (green).
Cool effects in my photo-editing program...
A park nearby has a small water play area. Kendra is getting brave - standing under the spouts all by herself!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Birthday Week

The birthday celebrations are over and our princess is officially three years old. Here is the bunny picture...
Opening presents - Grandma Mary bought the "Calico Critters" townhouse with 5 rooms of furniture. The bathroom includes an 1/8th inch bar of soap to sit on a 1/4-inch soapdish. Thanks, Mom!
So, the photographer didn't plan the shot well...but here is the cake and candle portion of the day.
Hectic week with parties and trying to get ready for school. Bentley starts his third week of class, and my students arrive for Day One tomorrow. Kendra will be with new teachers and mostly the same kids in her daycare center. Of course, Murphy's Law struck, and she has been running a fever for the last 12 hours. I really don't want to call a sub for the first day of school, ugh!

Monday, August 03, 2009

Prep Work

It's time to start on the vintage quilt. The scary one! Anytime I quilt for customers, I'm a bit nervous - what if they hate it? What if I screw up? Typical stage fright, usually solved by taking a deep breath and getting started. And, since I'm doing a new design, I decided to (gasp!) practice first!I gathered my tools...a stencil, two circle templates, and butcher paper. The smaller circle will be stitched as my reference, the larger circle and the inner section of the stencil are marked as guidelines for the edges of my feathers.
I started with the inside of the wreath.
Here you can see the whole thing. I drew about six wreaths on paper and then they started looking consistent. I switched to drawing the outer ring of feathers first, since it's easier and that got me into the flow. If you look closely, you'll see that there are twice as many feathers on the outside. Keeping track of how many loops I've done also helps keep me consistent.

Then I loaded some practice fabric on the machine, again tracing the two circles and the stencil guidelines. I only need the Gammill workstation to stitch the central, smaller circle.
And, viola! A nice looking feathered wreath.

Friday, July 31, 2009


I waste too much time on the computer. It's one habit that I am trying to break! Of course when Kendra decides to have a tea party, the computer gets left in the dust :-)

I'm a bit intimidated by the next quilt I have to do...antique signature blocks and a request for feathers.
So, I am going to find some stencils today and tackle this one...on Monday, LOL. Hey, don't roll your eyes like that, my weekends are busy with family! Do you know how hard it is to get anything done with a three year old running around??? Luckily there are 10 days left before I have to go back to school, so the goal for next week is to JUST DO IT.

Of course, I haven't touched the seam ripper since I admitted my mistake on the other quilt. ugh. There are many hours of repair work waiting for me in the quilt room...see why I play on the computer so much?!?

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Contest Link

In the contemporary quilting world, two names lead the way - Gwen Marston and Freddy Moran. They have written a new book, and you can win a copy! Just click here.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Lessons Learned

I pledged to knit nothing else until this blanket is done -And last night I got a lesson on crochet. It's much faster to use a single-crochet to seam the blocks together rather than mattress stitch, and I think the result is acceptable:
You can see a bit of the lighter color in the seam on the front, and I need to carefully make sure the stripes line up, but I am pleased with my first attempt. Only 18 squares left to knit and then on to seams and borders, woo-hoo!

Kendra has been working on faces...Mom and Dad are at the top,
Grandma below with her glasses on. I think the green blobs are earrings :-)

The lesson I learned today is to always measure the width of the quilt as it advances on the longarm. The corollary is that problems do not magically go away over night! I noticed some rippling in the edge of the quilt I'm working on (lovely feathers, if I do say so myself) but I just kept easing it in. Not a good strategy...when I got to the lower border I had way too much excess, so that's when I grabbed the tape measure. I had "eased" about two inches worth along the way. Now I have a date with Mr. Seam Ripper, oh joy. Lots of cliches come to mind - Haste makes waste, primarily!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Winter in July

The Phoenix Zoo had a snow day this weekend. They trucked in mountains of snow and icy treats for all the animals. Ralph, a Galapogos tortoise really scrambled to get his snack of prickly pear!
Here is Kendra checking out the action at the kiddie play area.
I can't remember what species this is ,some kind of South American rodent I think:
And no visit is complete until we ride the carousel. We got there just as one group was starting their ride, so we were first in line, which assured Kendra of a seat on her favorite lion.
Stay cool!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Quilt Camp 2009

I enjoyed a quick trip to Quilt Camp in the Pines this week. When I went for the first time in 2004, I won the roommate lottery and met Jeanne (on the right). She is so much of those people who you meet and feel like you've known forever. We only see each other once or twice a year and each time is a delight.
We took John Flynn's class, Glorified Nine Patch. My advice if you ever take a class with him - BUY THE KIT. He sells wonderful templates if you want to bring your own fabric, but in class it is much more fun to sew than to spend all day cutting out pieces.

Every year at camp, Jeanne plans an extra curricular craft. This year it was fat free treats:Some quilting magazines this summer have featured patterns for these "quick and easy" pincushions. Mine is on the right...lumpy and lopsided. In my own defense, I was using an unfamiliar sewing machine that didn't like the interfacing and ruffly edges. I figured for a first attempt, finished was better than perfect. Jeanne's cupcake on the left was her fourth try ;-)

The featured instructor was Esterita Austin. She gave a lecture on her quilting journey. (Esterita is the redhead on the left.) It was educational and entertaining. I learned a few tricks about color placement (highlight the contrast between light and dark to give dimension) and fell in love with her stone portal quilts.
Great mini-vacation away from the desert heat. Anyone want to join me next year??

Friday, July 10, 2009


Quilts of Valor issued a new challenge - use the Disappearing Nine Patch pattern to make a quilt. I've seen this pattern before, but never tried it myself. This version uses 5" squares. My last QOV project decimated my meager stash of red, white and blue fabric so, oh darn, I will have to go shopping before I go any further with this!

Temptation from Wendy:
She organized an I-Spy swap. I have ideas for several I-spy theme quilts, so this will be a fun way to get lots of different prints. (Amy sent me such a big bag of goodies that I am sharing the love!)

Kendra has been busy for about three days now with a highlighter marker. She can even draw a recognizable face! Parents - remember the simple joys of empty boxes and colors :-)

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Dog Days of Summer

It officially HOT here in the Valley of the Sun...105 and above every day for the next two weeks at least. And we haven't even had a good thunderstorm yet! I've been puttering around, enjoying my summer vacation, probably like most of my students - not accomplishing much of anything!

Let me recap my holiday weekend, although the camera was not in use.
Friday - drove up to Prescott Valley to drop off a quilt and have a picnic. This was a test run of the kiddo on a road trip. She did great! (Many thanks to Disney and Dora, LOL) It was cloudy and cool during our lunch and then we hurried back to Phoenix for nap time.
Saturday, July 4 - went to a party at a friend's house. Her band, Mirror Image, played a couple sets of rock music and Kendra had a front row seat. She *loved* the drums. Groupies start young these days ;-) Home to bed for the little one. I could just see the top of the nearest fireworks show over the other houses in the neighborhood.
Sunday - ended up as a very busy day with church, lunch with one set of grandparents and dinner with the others!
Monday - one of Kendra's friends from daycare came over to play for a few hours in the morning. The parents stayed so there was lots of good conversation.
Tuesday - took Kendra to music class at Grandma's church! Quick visit and lunch with Grandma, then home since I had a doctor's appointment. Unfortunately, Kendra fell asleep in the car on the way home, which was a bummer because she woke up as soon as we got home and did not go back to sleep. On the plus side, she fell asleep early last night!

Today, we were back to our normal schedule of taking her to daycare so I could get some quilting done. There was a problem with the top that I wanted to put on the longarm, so that got put aside for Grandma to fix, and I put a binding on. It was the second quilt I did all by machine, which is so quick and easy, except for all the pins. Just follow the directions in the sidebar at Patchwork Times.

OK, I'll cave and add a photo...(or not, since it was the same one I put in my last post)
I am knitting some three-color squares for my blanket. I am determined to finish this ASAP! I put away all other knitting projects and did some calculations...only 19 more squares. It's conceivable to finish the squares before school starts, then I have to sew all 81 together and knit the borders. That phase of the project will definitely have to wait until the temperatures go down!!!

Sunday, June 28, 2009


I hereby resolve that I will not cast on another pair of socks until this blanket is finished! Here are some tricolor squares... I adapted the original two color pattern for three colors. This lets me use up some of my leftover colors without an obvious repeat. I have been avoiding the seaming process, but I need to get started. I'm sure by the time I've done 100 or more seams, it won't be as intimidating!!

There is a water play area near some restaurants over by Grandma and Grandpa's house. We had a fun evening watching Kendra play.
We packed away her crib, here she is in her Big Girl bed:
I think mattresses are bigger these days...the headboard sure seemed taller when I was a kid. I plan to fill the blank wall with some of the beautiful quilts that have been made for her. Daddy will need to use the power tools, I just need to attach the hanging sleeves.