15 March, 2017

Pulling It Together

Pattern is from the book "S is for Stitch"  ~ 34.5" X 39"
Last week I found the perfect border piece for this embroidered "quiltlet", I believe this color helps to pull it together. I also found, what I consider to be, the most ideal backing piece as well, a precious floral that picks up the colors from the front (left, photos below). I need for scrappy, multi-fabric pieces to be controlled and cohesive. This one is pulling together beautifully, at least it is to my eye. Yesterday afternoon I took  stole a bit of time and added the border, pressed the piece and hung it on a hanger, where it now has taken its rightful spot in the "to be quilted" queue. That brings up even more to think about. However will I quilt this one? I honestly don't know.
I don't believe that I want to quilt through the hand embroidered blocks at all. 
What would you do when faced with this quilting challenge? I am wide open to suggestions. I have a LOT of time to decide, I am counting on this little flimsy to wait patiently for its turn, there are a myriad of other tasks that require pulling together in the meantime. Stolen moments to stitch, however, provides much needed energy to this quiltophile!
Life is Good!

14 March, 2017

Cleaning Up, Cleaning Out

So, the dust has stopped flying long enough on the home front for me to actually clean and mop before round number two begins. Ceiling work in our master bedroom resumes tomorrow. This is the state of our bedroom today, it is echo-ey in there! I took this picture so that I can remember what it looks like clean. The floor refinishing will be round number three. That won't happen for awhile, the moisture level of the wood needs to be dry enough. You can see in the right foreground of this photo how the boards are lifting up where they were flooded. Until that happens, all the furniture has been relocated and, albeit temporarily, peace reigns at home-- at least for today.
Meanwhile, we are in the process of cleaning up and cleaning out my in-law's home, this is a monumental undertaking; on many levels. Their home is large, it is filled with things: personal belongings, household items and a multitude of memories. Yesterday I spent the day in their bedroom, cleaning the cherry paneling with orange oil, it shines like it did 42+ years ago when my father-in-law lovingly cut each section and placed each board. I remember working on this house alongside my brand-new husband at that time, we would go out to "the house" whenever we had free time back then and help where we could. Yesterday I cleaned baseboards and bathrooms and windowsills, all the time thinking about how this home needs another family to fill it, it needs happy voices and love and laughter to echo within these walls once again. That time will come eventually. And so, the work continues for now; my husband's siblings are arriving to help. Cleaning up, cleaning out; my current "to do" list, one room at a time, both here and at home!
Life is Good!

11 March, 2017

What's Nesting?

What's nesting at your house? It's almost spring, are there any birds eyeing your birdhouses yet? I haven't seen any here; but, there is nesting going on-- nesting baskets! You might remember that last month I posted about my LQS and its monthly "Let's Get Organized" club using patterns by Annie. This is the latest club project. I had a feeling that my oldest granddaughter might like a set of these in which to keep some of her little toys, trinkets and treasures. I took the pattern for her approval and she suggested the fabric colors. This "Dream and a Wish" line by Sandra Workman for Riley Blake designs fit the bill perfectly.

This was a fun project, it took me a little bit of practice to get the hang of it. My first attempt at a lid, on the smallest basket, ended up looking more like a popover than a flat-topped  basket cover. I persevered and quickly realized that if I stitched with the outer lid band "ring" on the top, to the round cover piece, flat against the sewing machine bed, s-l-o-w-l-y, it was possible to achieve a perfectly flat surface and a smooth seam at the same time. As stated in the directions! (Those wise words from the poster hanging in my seventh-grade home ec. room prove true once again: "when all else fails, read the directions!") In the end, I did remake a second lid for the smallest one. The results speak for themselves.
I learned a lot and enjoyed every step! I will definitely make more of these.
 I love the look of the little handles and the clear vinyl 
pocket on the fronts for labeling each basket's contents.
So, what's nesting at your house?
Life is Good!

06 March, 2017

Settling In...

There are many new things settling in at Chez Goodneedle over the last few days, aside from the fine layer of sheetrock dust that has managed to cover everything that doesn't move. Our youngest two grandchildren are spending a few days with us, they arrived on Friday and have settled in just fine. The ceiling repairs continued on Saturday, much to the delight and entertainment of the little ones; it was not an easy task to keep them out of the way of the work crew, they wanted to watch everything that went on. New schedules have settled in for Mr. Goodneedle and me, these revolve around meals, rest times (not nearly enough for us!), school hours and outdoor energy-expelling sessions. We're all settling in quite nicely to this new, short-lived, routine. Since bedrooms have been lost temporarily to the ongoing repair work, Gregory is sleeping on a cot at night in Nana's sewing space. This is what I found this morning after the children left for school. Hannes is settling in too, he loves having the children here. It's very quiet this morning, a fragile and brief peace has settled in around me like a gentle affirmation, it is energy-giving. Before long they will noisily burst through the door again, full of laughter and happy smiles, loving hugs, and the news of the day; their return can't come soon enough for me. Nana and all the dust will be waiting, except for those paths where little feet have zipped through the house and the designs on flat surfaces that curious fingers have traced, momentarily obliterating one powdery layer while awaiting the next.
Life is Good!

03 March, 2017

Whose Idea?

Whose idea was this? Scented trash bags? Why? Okay, so I might understand why someone thought this could, potentially, be beneficial. C'mon, if your trash can has become so obnoxiously odorous, then it's high time for it to be transferred outdoors, not be masked (or combined with the objectionable scent of the bag itself). I detest these bags; my frustration level was only compounded when I stood in the store, in need of tall kitchen bags, and only having the choice of one scent over another: Fresh Clean, Gain Original, Gain Island Fresh, Fresh Lemon, Hawaiian Aloha, Lavender Breeze, Lightly Scented and Fresh Vanilla. 😝 I believe I will be carrying out the trash a LOT more often, accelerating the race to the bottom of this sixty bag box. Groan. Does anyone like this product? Anyone? Please, Glad, take a step back and make your original, unscented, tall kitchen trash bags easily available again. Now, as far as your claim that these are 2X stronger, I'm not sure what this is in comparison to; but that's another matter altogether. Hey, I can always double-bag these to the trashcan outside... that will hasten the disposal of these at twice the speed! 💡 Brilliant.
And then there's this: the ceiling demolition has begun, behind closed bedroom doors at the end of the hall. 
View into our bedroom: one of three rooms where ceilings are coming down. Shudder.
Today is Friday, my cleaning day. I can't clean with all of this going on (the noise in here is brain-rattling); those of you who know me will understand that this provides a great deal of anxiety, that, plus the fact that the bedroom furniture (minus our bed) is temporarily living in the family room. Oh, my. Chaos reigns. Hmmm... whose idea was this? This is my coping mechanism: breathing in, breathing out. One. Day. At. A. Time. I can't bear to think about how long this dust manufacturing process will go on, once this is done the hardwood floors will require sanding and refinishing! (Actually, this makes those silly scented trash bags seem like a trivial matter.) I am focusing on the positive now, the flood didn't occur anywhere near my sewing space; Hannes and I are hanging out in here today, this room has never been cleaner or better organized. And that, my friends, was my MY idea!
Life is Good!

01 March, 2017

QUILTCON 2017, A Newbie's Perspective

I am back, from Savannah GA and QUILTCON 2017, it was a new adventure filled with sights, experiences and learning. Oh, yeah, and then there was the food-- that too, but the food in Savannah is another story for another day, it will always be there even when QUILTCON isn't; if you haven't ever visited Savannah you need to do that!  So, QUILTCON: lots and lots of people. Here I am with two of my best buddies waiting for the big rolling doors (in the background) to open up on Friday morning, admitting the masses.     This was fun, standing and waiting, meeting new friends in line from all over the world, learning about them through their stories, thousands brought together in one place at the same time through the love of quilts; there was an excitement, an enthusiastic vibe all around. The quilts at the show were great, click on the link below for a quick slideshow of my favorites. These are all fresh, fun and modern; I learned something about myself while viewing the show: the modern quilts that appeal the most to me are those based in traditional piecing, that combined with over-the-top quilting stops me in my tracks every time!  I believe I view the quilts with a "transitional" eye, if that makes sense; the quilt category that I found myself drawn to was that entitled "modern traditionalism". Okay, I can own that!
 The venue for this event, the Savannah International Trade and Convention Center, was beautiful; spacious, light and bright inside. The quilts were all displayed in the space to the front with lots of room in between the aisles to comfortably stroll and take photos. The sponsor booths and the vendors were around the outer perimeter and to the rear of this room.

Just outside the venue were sprawling green spaces and the Savannah River.  
The weather was perfectly cooperative for stretching out for an impromptu nap on the grass. Yes, that is an amazingly large container ship working its way up the river!  
On Friday evening we met up with some friends at the Westin Hotel next door for a mini-reunion and a meal; this was the view just outside the door at that location. Those are snapdragons in bloom! 
Old friends on a new adventure; QUILTCON East 2017!

All in all, my impressions of Quiltcon were very good. The sponsor booths, while not selling goods, were showcasing lines and products as well as providing opportunities to give back through making quilt blocks for charity quilts or volunteering. These sponsor booths were generous with "swag" as well, getting to a booth when they were handing out freebies was a frequent occurrence. The Cotton and Steel bag pictured above was just such an item. I have to admit though, that my own feet weren't fleet enough to score that strawberry bag, it was just out of my grasp.  However, my good friend Nane was quick enough to capture it ahead of the thundering herd and presented it to me! I remain extremely grateful. A greater power smiled upon her generosity, only moments later she won a half-yard bundle of gorgeous fabrics in a different booth. Call it karma or divine intervention, no good turn goes unnoticed. The retail vendor booths that were selling had products new to me, I was eager to try out a few and some of those items followed me home! The one thing that I did notice was not many vendors had fabric yardage for sale, there were lots of booths with precuts of entire collections and the like, but my own personal hunt for yardage to complete a few projects was fruitless. On Friday afternoon my buddies and I took a lecture from Elizabeth Hartman on choosing color for quilts, that was one of the highlights of the entire weekend! 
I was hope-hope-hoping to come home with the copy of her newest pattern: "Dogs in Sweaters", but it wasn't quite available yet. I received an email that it was for sale today and ordered my copy immediately; you knew I just HAD TO have this one the minute it hit the market!
Just in case you thought I might have come home relatively empty handed, don't be fooled. This is the "loot" before organizing and stashing it in its rightful place. Not only all of this, but tons of inspiration too!
QUILTCON East 2017 is now history. Next year it will be on the west coast, in Pasadena. I will most likely consider driving north once again in February 2018 and returning to MidAtlantic Quilt Festival in Hampton, VA. One thing I know for sure: there won't be snapdragons blooming up there at that time!
Life is Good!

21 February, 2017

Getting Organized

Stash and Dash Organizer - 8" X 5" when closed, as pictured.
 2017 is the year for getting organized at my LQS; they launched something new, a "Let's Get Organized" club featuring a pattern each month from patterns by Annie. The shop will highlight twelve different bags and/or organizers to make quilters' (or anyones') lives easier and more orderly...not to mention CUTER! This is last month's pattern: "Stash and Dash". The hardest part, for me, was choosing the fabric to use! I will make more of these, it is a great pattern with a wonderful finished product, but I will choose a busier fabric for the contrasting binding. Live and learn. This one worked out perfectly fine, but there's always room for improvement; since one is attaching binding and sewing through the layers, front to back, I did find that using an almost-solid did nothing to hide stitches that didn't align perfectly on top of one another. This isn't really a big deal, but I did make a mental note for next time (I am already planning my next one!). The first step was quilting the main body fabric and lining, using Soft and Stable inside, it made a wonderfully stable foundation and was easy to quilt through, I loved the process and was happy with the cross-hatching.
The inside of the Stash and Dash has three roomy, zippered, mesh pockets; perfect for filling with any treasures you want to grab, stow securely and take along. Who couldn't use one (or two) of these?
The pattern has easy-to-follow instructions for binding and zipper insertion, I felt like a pro with these results! The nice thing about the mesh pockets is that they are stretchy and can be over-filled as necessary, the sliding strap on the outside will adjust to accommodate whatever is contained inside.
The back of the Stash and Dash has a vinyl see-through pocket for including any necessary, accessible items you might need without opening or unrolling the organizer.
I couldn't wait to share this cute project with you. I highly recommend the pattern (the tips and techniques are terrific!) and feel more organized already, WOW; by the end of this year my organizational skills will should be epic. 😉
Life is Good!