21 January, 2017

Running In Circles

Years ago I had a friend who would say she was running so fast she had to run in circles to keep from taking off. That's the way I have felt lately, simply trying to stay abreast of my day-to-day activities as well as catch up with all of those back-burnered projects from last year. The Quilty 365 is one of those, being sufficiently inspired to join the group, albeit late, it's one more commitment that I will honor for 2017; even if I have to swim hard, upstream, to get there. Finishing December's circles is a big hurdle along the way. I am hand appliquéing mine, I love the process. I did have an inquiry as to the method of preparation that I use to accomplish these. This post will attempt to explain; I am sure everyone has their own preferred method, this just happens to be mine. I have cut my background squares 4.5". I am using a 3.25" diameter circle from Karen Kay Buckley's Bigger Perfect Circles pack. These are heat-resistant mylar and, as the product name implies, PERFECT every. single. time. My preparation method is adapted from the instructions that come with the packaging of this product.
The first step is drawing around the circle onto the back of my chosen piece of fabric for that day.
I then cut out around the drawn outline, leaving approximately a 3/8" seam allowance.
From there I place, by hand, a loose running stitch inside that seam allowance using a doubled thread.
Centering the mylar circle back inside the fabric, lining the edges with the drawn outline inside, I draw up the threads tightly against the edge of the Perfect Circle and knot the gathering threads. 
From there I take the circle to a towel-covered (to protect your ironing surface) ironing board. I "paint" a small section of the circle edge with a small brush and spray starch which I have squirted into the cap for this purpose.
I then use my dry iron to apply heat to that section to dry it. From there I work my way, with the iron, around the entire circle. If any "points" occur from pleats, this is the time to correct that; using the tip of the iron against the dampened fabric edge, smooth the fabric back into position using the mylar circle as reinforcement. Hold the iron there a few seconds longer if need be. Once the circle has been starched, pressed and dried I flip it over and give it an additional press on the front before taking it to my work table where I let it "set" for an hour or so. I do each circle the same way. Don't skip the "setting" period. Believe me, that hour or more is a valuable investment in all your preparation time! You don't want a less than dry circle springing out of shape. Ask me how I know. 
After the circles have "set" and are completely and totally dry, I snip the gathering threads on the back and gently slip out the mylar circle. These circles can be used over and over and over again!
The last step of prep before hand appliqué is to center the circle on the background. I measure each and every time. My circles need to sit 5/8" on each side from the cut background edge. I use a very small amount of washable glue from a gluestick to hold the circle in the center and hand baste along the edge into position. From this step I can stack up my blocks and place them next to my chair for the evening, with any matching thread colors that I need, where I will relax with hand work while watching TV. I hope you have found this helpful and will enjoy the process as much as I do. It's a good thing too; I have 314 more to go!
Life is Good!

12 January, 2017

A Parade of Pachyderms

Step #1: The cookies-- a three ring circus of elephants in the kitchen!
Little Miss Lynnleigh will turn four years old next week. Four! Wow. Our youngest grandchild is imaginative, loving, funny, artistic and has a deep affection for the color orange and elephants! Her birthday request of Nana was elephant cookies with white frosting and orange number fours, she wanted them to share with her friends at preschool. Okay. We went online several weeks ago and found an elephant cookie cutter together, she was very excited. I decided to decorate them in dedicated blocks of time to allow for sufficient drying. I piped the numbers onto waxed paper, creating royal icing transfers. The next day I flooded the elephants, carefully placed a "4" on each animal and gently pressed it down into the icing. I had cut some of the cookie dough scraps into small hearts to use as "test cookies" for the details before taking the icing tips to the elephants for the final step.

The resulting bonus cookies worked out just fine.
The grand reveal! Lynnleigh approved upon seeing a preview photo and her Mom texted me the following reaction: "My elephant cookies. I love them so lot." Whew! I'd say this was a success!
I packed them up and delivered the whole herd yesterday. If you've never wrestled twenty five elephants into cellophane bags and then squeezed them into a box you haven't really lived. What we grandmothers wouldn't do for our grandchildren!  The reaction to the delivery was worth every. single. second spent working on them. "My elephants!" My elephants!!" My elephants!!!
Happy birthday party, little one. 
Life is Good! 

10 January, 2017

Round After Relaxing Round

 Completed circles for November 2016 ~ (Nov. 10 - Nov. 30)
This is a catch-up post, literally and figuratively. I posted here last month about joining in the Quilty 365 challenge and my progress, or lack of it, in November. I began the challenge on November 10, 2016 and plan to continue through that date this year. Well, I decided to put myself back on track by doubling and tripling up on my appliqué circles to bring myself current. I am now preparing all the circles for the past month of December by going through my stash of collected (over the decades) Christmas fabrics and basting them into postion so that I can do the hand work in the evenings. It is truly relaxing.
Speaking of relaxing: these are some of the Christmas gifts that my daughter and I made together last month. We combined forces; she made up a few large batches of homemade bath salts and I made loads of faced washcloths. We bundled them up and traded with each other to make these cute gifts of relaxation for our friends: cute washcloths and bath salts given as sets for tranquil time-out.  Ahhhhh.
Life is Good!

07 January, 2017

"To Do" List

What's on your "to do" list this morning? I am wearing mine*. If you're in the southeast or mid-Atlantic area you most likely won't be going anywhere anyway.  Mr. Goodneedle and I were at a workshop south of Atlanta for the last couple of days but ended up leaving early to rush home ahead of the storm. We made it with a few hours to spare and rested well last night, we awakened to winter. This is the scene from my sewing room window this morning.

The power is on, it's warm inside. I know what I will be doing for the next few days, how about you?😉

Life is Good!

* If you're interested in a T-shirt contact me by email, my daughter-in-law 
creates these to order; you, too, can soon wear your favorite "to do" list!

02 January, 2017

Cheers!

Happy New Year! What's new with you? Have you resolved anything for 2017? I have: Drink. More. Water. Seems simple enough, right? Well... (and that's a deep subject) I have started off with lofty goals, to drink a gallon a day for a month! 🌊 I know, I know, that sounds like a tidal wave. Actually, I began early, on December 30. I decided to try this out first to see if I could do it, or if I would just be setting myself up for failure. By New Year's Eve I had already drunk more water than in the previous two weeks; easily. This practice, in reality, wasn't hard; I only had to train myself to do it. The more water I drank, the more water I actually wanted, my body seems to have taken over the demand on its own. My hot tea consumption dropped off dramatically. Wow, I have truly surprised myself! So, why did I choose this challenge for myself in the New Year? It, literally, came out of the blue. I saw a couple interviewed on Hallmark's Home & Family show last week, they were touting the all-around health benefits of "a gallon a day" and my interest was piqued. It was free, available and I was aware of the fact that I never drank enough water. I figured: "what could it hurt?" It seemed to me that it made sense one would naturally eat less if drinking a gallon a day but what about the other claims: better skin, flushes out toxins, boosts metabolism, decreases headaches, and banishes dark under-eye circles? Time will tell. I am going to follow through with this personal challenge and will definitely report my findings. So far I have noticed the obvious-- I get much more exercise while drinking this much water, back and forth to a certain destination, as you would imagine. However, that's not the only noteworthy item; I have already noticed an increase in my energy level and am waking up earlier, fully rested and refreshed. Hmmm. Water. Plain and simple. As we embark upon a new month together I will be weighing in (hopefully lighter) with the results. I, for one, am going to be toasting 2017 with water, and plenty of it. Bottoms up!

Life is Good!

27 December, 2016

Cutting Mat Longevity

Oh, my; this cutting area has never looked better! Santa brought me TWO new sets of cutting mats for Christmas, this has caused two straight days of unbridled smiling, spontaneous mat stroking and even some tidying to happen. My cutting table is a drop-leaf style which, when opened, (truth be told: it is never folded down) measures 70" X 46". Mr. Goodneedle designed and built it for me sometime in 1992 from kiln-dried oak salvaged from our woods after a tornado in May, 1989, took out three enormous oak trees.  The top was specially designed to accommodate the cutting mats of those precise dimensions that I had found back then at Mary Jo's Cloth Shop. Over the years the table has moved numerous times, overseas (twice) and back. The mats have endured all of that, plus un-tolled hours of cutting and any other craft you might imagine. Recently, I began to notice a little more than normal wear and tear to the mats-- the type of damage that occurs from being overused, over-loved; they were wearing out, plain and simple.
They had become stained over time, and the edges were split and shaggy.
They even had holes in places. Santa listened to this quilter's wish list. I would say that considering the continued use that these have seen, after almost 25 years, Olfa should be commended for creating such a sturdy and well made product that stands the test of time. The new mats are fancy; they have lots more markings (increments) arcs and angles than their predecessors. If they could only do something about the obnoxious "new mat" rubber aroma. I may try spritzing them with a white vinegar and water solution. I have the essential oil diffuser working overtime right now, I know the Eau-de-mat smell will dissipate over time. I assured Santa Claus that I won't need new mats ever again, or at least before I am 88 years old, if the longevity of the previous mats is any indication! I am certain that the elves were relieved to hear that, I know that these were unwieldy to load in and out of the sleigh. 
Life is Good!


25 December, 2016

Grand Wishes

On this Christmas Day I wish you GRAND things:
peace, love and joy for today and into the New Year;
may you keep and treasure these in your heart.
Life is Good!