Sunday, November 30, 2008

Holiday Festivities

Thanks for coming back to visit me. I hope you had a Happy Thanksgiving. Ours was great. My mother called last week and told me her plans. We were having our gathering on Friday at her house. The sun was shining at that time and I had lots of energy, so I offered my house. This way, she could deal with the cooking, and I could deal with the cleaning.

It was a good plan, except I had to go grocery shopping, and when I came back, the sun had already gone down. The next few days were cloudy and gloomy, so the energy I had when I made my offer was gone. Although I did some cleaning, I had to force myself to do it. Luckily, Wednesday and Thursday were sunnier, so I was able to do the cleaning, and this way, I didn't have to spend all week cleaning. Yes, that means the sewing supplies had to be removed so the living room could be a living room again. I did have to keep all the bedroom doors closed though!

Thursday I went shopping at CVS. I don't generally go there, but they had a whole page of things that were free - you get extra bucks, which is irritating that you are forced to buy something from the store. When I got home, I realized I hadn't gotten extra bucks for one of the items, so I went back for that. I also managed to buy some gifts to use up some of those extra bucks.

Friday morning, we decided to risk Black Friday shopping again. Woke up at 4:15 to go to the store before it opened. This time, we went to a smaller chain (Staples), and at a smaller shopping center. I didn't have any big purchase in mind this year. There were some smaller things I have been wanting the last few years, and they all happened to be at terrific prices and all at one store, so I decided to go ahead and splurge. We were able to sit in the car in the warmth, and then someone drove up and decided he wanted to wait outside. So then we all had to get in line. It was a small line, but there was a minimum of 6 of each item in the store, and if everyone in line wanted the same item, we could lose out. The manager said we could fill out a paper to say what doorbusters we were there to get, and we could get tickets for those items, which were ours once we got a ticket. No pushing, no shoving. It went amazingly smooth. Compared to our trip last year, it was a completely different experience.

Everything was so smooth, I even went back to the store after breakfast to exchange the printer. I had been looking at the printer speed, but when I looked at the ad again, I realized that the printer I didn't buy had a flatbed, which would be wonderful for scanning photos, so I did the exchange on Black Friday.

I picked up a telescope from the drugstore for my niece's birthday, and all the kids really were excited about it. My nephew put it together in a few minutes without reading the instructions. My neighborhood in the city is well lit, so they really couldn't see anything, but my niece will be able the stars from her house really well.

Now I am going to give my credit card a chance to rest.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Next, a Bird

After finishing a big quilt, I have been wavering about what to do next. There are lots of things that need finishing - my SITP is still sitting our waiting for the setting triangles to be cut. The Dear Jane can be picked up at any time. There are several other projects that have not been completed. There was that orange crazy quilt I talked about the other day for which I have already conducted auditions.

I was doing my daily blog tour, and visited Nellie's Needles again. She tempted me yet again with more of the lovely birds. She even has a tutorial and explicit directions. I already have printed out the pattern. I decided to just do it. They are just so cute!

I made the body, and it came time to attach the legs. I have wire. I know I have wire. But wire is thin and small, and can hide easily amongst other craft supplies. I searched for it, and found all sorts of other projects that need finishing, or starting. My UFO list that is on my spreadsheet doesn't really cover all the thoughts that have flitted through my head and through the store.

I couldn't find the wire, and decided to go to Walmart to see if they had any. See smart, avoiding craft stores! They had this floral wire for less than a dollar, so no big loss. Especially if I make more stuff with the wire. And I also got a blouse for $1. It doesn't fit me, but it is a lovely fabric, and is lined, and has a bonus zipper I didn't notice when I bought it.

I put the wire in, and finished up the bird. Look, she can stand now. I need to add the beak still. It was fun to make - I may have to make a few more. The wire had 30 pieces to a package.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Snow!

We had snow flurries yesterday. The forecasters have been talking about snow for a while here, but by the time I woke up and looked out the window there was no snow. Today was my first sighting, therefore it is my first snow of the season.

Every time I walked by the front window, and see this wall of white in my peripheral vision, I would be amazed. Wow! Is there that much snow? Nope. The owners of the house next door - the renters have moved out - have contractors working on the foundation, and I let them borrow my driveway. The wall of white I see is this big truck sitting in my driveway. You would think the noise would be a giveaway.

The good news is that they tore down part of my wood fence that was deteriorating, put back the chain link fence that was between the two property lines (they weren't planning to), tore down the honeysuckle bushes that the tenants didn't feel the need to trim, and the sidewalk alongside the house which provided quick getaway. Yep there were two fences alongside the line. The former tenants of both houses had neighborly disputes, so one neighbor installed a privacy fence right after the other neighbor installed the chain link fence. Ever heard of psycho-geography? How the place sometimes holds memories of past events and somehow the new people carry on with it. I have seen evidence of it, but hope that when I do get new neighbors, we can break that cycle.

In quilting news, I have simply been cleaning up. I cut the purple scraps for the rail fence leaders and enders project, and am working on general cleanup. Can't let the dust bunnies grow big enough to form an army.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Purple Parfait is Finished!

The quilt story:
This quilt was started in a class I took in September of 2003. I was still nervous about colors, and I had my sister help me. She asked me what I wanted, and I decided that since the pattern was Peach Parfait, I wanted Purple Parfait. I'm still not sure what parfait means or looks like, but I was thinking of something soft and frou-frou. I had already purchased lots of purple fabric - I made a lot of purple quilts that year, probably after this one - and we picked out the ones that fit the bill. We added some darker tones to make sure there was enough contrast. I had to find a suitable background fabric. I was not able to find any at Joanne's, so I bought it from the LQS. The only quilt shop fabric was probably the lowest quality fabric. It tended to bubble up when ironed.

The cutting was not fun. Each of the fabrics go into each part of the quilt. Yes, I did layer them together to make the cutting quicker, but I did not enjoy it. I felt like a rebel going to a class at the quilt shop with non quilt shop fabric, but I was happy with the color and fabric choices. We used the Easy Angle 2 and it did make the sewing much nicer. No need to draw lines! There were lots of leftover HSTs. Apparently it worked very well. Look at all those sharp points! I'm sure I must have had to redo some seams to achieve those nice points, and it must have been very easy or very hard, but I don't remember that part.

Putting the quilt together was hard, only because it was hard to get a good balance of lights and darks. The directions didn't say this, but it is best to make your fabrics an even stair-step in values. My darks didn't stair-step very well. And they seemed out of balance no matter where I placed the blocks. The quilt instructor had the same problem.

Preparing the quilt for quilting was a little bit difficult, as you know. I clipped a corner.

The quilting was fun and easy, even with thread breakages, and shortages. I think quilting free motion really makes a quilt. All those bumps and wrinkles give it life. I just hope nobody tries to psychoanalyze me by the scribbles I made on the quilt. I did a simple meander in the body. The outer border has what was supposed to be an S shape, but I like the result, even though it isn't an S. After binding, I decided the inner border also needs quilting, so I put on some scallops to mirror the design of the fabric.

Photographing the quilt is difficult. This quilt doesn't really match anything in my house, and it is bigger than most of my open floor spaces. Picture it draped on a white wicker chair, in an enclosed porch, with lacy curtains blowing in the wind, which show some pretty green plants and flowers.

It's a big lap quilt, big enough to tuck under my feet, and my chin at the same time, and all around me, and it is big enough to cuddle in. And it comes in pretty princess colors, so I can feel frou-frou while I watch tv.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Temptation

I am thoroughly enjoying handsewing the binding down of my Purple Parfait quilt. And as I do, my thoughts are wandering about what I am going to make next. The plan is to finish up another one of my UFOs. I did promise Finn two finished quilts, and I have several quilts that simply need quilting. I enjoy quilting, and I want to have all my quilts finished, so there is no reason to not follow through with the plan, right?

As I wander through my blogs, I find a quilt from time to time that strikes my fancy, and I note that I may want to make that someday. Sometimes it is a simple design, that makes me think I can finish it off quickly. Sometimes it is more elaborate and just appeals to me. Today it is this bright orange crazy quilt made by Daniela in Romania. We won't mention that the quilt I am working on was started years ago, and I have a long list of projects I already have started, kitted up, and the recent fabric purchase which will be counted as stash unless I designate it for a project right away. This one - the orange crazy quilt - is definitely being added to the list.

Is My Slip Showing?

Has this happened to you? The top has shrunk during quilting, so when the sandwich is trimmed, it now leaves exposed edges. I tried to pin it really well, especially at the corners, but apparently it wasn't enough.

I've already fixed it, and am working on the binding now. But I was wondering what you do to avoid this sort of thing, and what you do to fix it.

Edited to add: I don't think I was clear when I wrote this post. This is the front of the quilt. I trimmed it by lining up my ruler on a border.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Intervention

I am sure that if you lived closer to me, you would have read that last post about needing new thread, and realized how dangerous a shopping expedition could be. You would have called me and told me that you would get the thread for me. But you don't and you didn't.

This meant that I went alone, armed with my 10% coupon. It started out innocently enough. I bought the gray thread my mother needed. There were three shades of light purple I bought a while back. The lighter purple was used up earlier. I used the darker one for the quilt. I could have used the medium color for the quilt, but decided to treat the quilt right for a change, and get the correct shade from the store. It looks like they have changed the numbers and/or discontinued that particular shade. Since I had my bobbin with me, I tried to find the right shade the best I could.

Then I wandered over to the fabric area. You know, since I was in the area and all. I bought lots of yellows. I don't have a lot of yellow in my stash, not that I want to have a stash, but I saw a pretty yellow and blue quilt. And I might have bought a few other colors as well. I haven't bought a lot of fabric this year, and I made up for it in that one trip. I even bought weird fabric for a crazy quilt I may make someday.

Then I went home, put the thread in the machine, and quilted away. And wouldn't you know, I got the wrong shade of purple. It is the light shade. My medium would have been darker, and matched better. Oh well. The machine was already threaded. The quilt is now finished. I need to bind it and I will be finished.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Busy

When my daughter wanted me to come over last weekend to deliver the squishy package that had arrived for her, I told her I was busy and I had plans. I wanted to finish a quilt, and clean my house. I wound up going anyway, because she had a DVD that was due at the library and couldn't be renewed. At $2 a day, I could make time.

Then this weekend, she wanted me to come over again. She has a cold and needed some cold medicine. I then realized that both of those things that I had wanted to do the previous weekend were still pretty much in the same state as they had been last weekend.

I decided to do something about it. I looked for the masking tape again, and it was in the first place I looked. It was a good sign. I sandwiched the quilt, and am more than 8 / 12 done. I ran out of thread - I used the almost whole spool for this lap size quilt. Just a little bit longer before the grand reveal. Of the quilt, not the cleaning. LOL

The photo is misleading - most of the leaves are down now. My yard trash bins are full, so I am going to have to mow the rest of them into mulch. I read that was good for the grass, but it didn't say how much was too much.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Coupon Lady Strikes Again

Edited to add photo.

When I was a child, I used to clip and use coupons. My mother would pay for the groceries, and I got to keep all the coupon earnings. This means I have been using coupons and refunds regularly for a long time. I even subscribed to coupon magazines and coupon swaps in the past. A cashier called me the Coupon Lady. He was always impressed at my savings. I did take some time off recently, and decided to get back into it a few months ago.

Today, this receipt shows that I bought $123 worth of groceries. [I'll get the photo tomorrow, I don't have the camera right now.] Well the receipt doesn't have the total, it shows I spent $50.88, and had $73.53 in savings. I also bought four other things on separate receipts. They are all free after rebate, and I needed separate receipts to mail in. That totals another $18. So technically I bought $141 worth of groceries for $50.88. I paid less than 40% for my groceries. I could have done better if I was doing it for show, by not buying the coffee and the dishwashing detergent, milk, cheese, bread, etc. Things that were on sale and sometimes also had coupons, but didn't have the stellar savings I got on the other items. It does, however, also include stuff I can't use myself - like two small packages of free dog food, which I will give to my brother. Other not counted benefits are the points on my credit card, the fuel savings and marketplace holiday bonus points.

I wish I could do this well every time I shopped!

When I read the message boards of people who make fun of couponers, because they think it takes a lot of time and work, I just chuckle and go back to clipping more coupons while watching my favorite tv show.

By the way, I have joined Kate's Birthday ATC swap. What a great way to honor fellow quilters on their birthday!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Election Day

In our state, there are several ways people could have voted. They could request an absentee ballot, and when they receive it, simply fill it out and drop it in the mail, postage paid. Then there was Early voting. There was one location you could go to and fill out a paper ballot early, presumably to avoid the very long lines we had at the last presidential election. There were people who waited up to six hours in this early voting.

I worked on Election Day, having to get there at 5:30. Yes that would be a.m. We were told to pack a lunch, and take anything we could possibly need because with the big turnout we might not get a chance to do anything more than sneak away for a few minutes at a time, and only if absolutely unnecessary.

When we got there, there were people waiting in line to vote. Yep, at 5:30. Polls open at 6:30. We introduce ourselves to each other, and come up with a game plan for how the machines should be arranged, and check what supplies we have. The machine judges set up the machines while the paper ballot judges and the people in charge of the poll books set up their tables. By this time, the line has wrapped all around outside the gym, and the pressure is on. We want to get these people out of here as quickly as possible because they are already getting impatient, and they are probably going to have to go to work afterwards.

The people in the line were very patient, most people had prepared to wait in line for a long while. I was a greeter, which was the first time for that position. I was nervous, because that meant I was in charge of crowd control, and I wasn't sure I was up to the task, with my short body and my small voice. People said they had waited in line for an hour and a half. And that time kept getting shorter and shorter. We had a glitch that three of our twelve machines were not loaded with paper, but the technician came right away to fix that. By eleven o'clock, there was nobody in line. People could come in to vote, no waiting. And that actually continued for the rest of the day, even during lunchtime and after work. The only time they had to wait was if they came in with someone else who was in the same poll book, which happened pretty frequently. Not just that people came with other family members, but they came at the same time other people with last names that were close to theirs in the alphabet.

Since I was done with crowd control, I just filled in wherever it was needed. When I worked the polls before, we rotated jobs, so I was familiar with all of the positions.

The presiding judge was very laid back, which caused several of the poll workers to step up and decide how things should be. I had to check myself several times to stop doing that, because I know how irritating that can be.

We did have some irritated voters that came in in the afternoon. They had moved, and didn't bring identification, and they were upset about having to do provisional ballots. I thought it was very strange considering they didn't have to wait in line, and got a chance to vote anyway. The last person who came in at 7:30 lived in another section of town, far away, and just wanted to vote, because she had just moved to Ohio. I figured there would be someone coming in at 7:30 to test the system and I was right.

Our biggest glitch came when we were shutting down the machines. The first eleven machines were shut down without any problems, but the twelfth one got hung up, and kept calculating. Neither the technician nor the Board of Elections were answering their phones. when we finally got a hold of BOE they told us to call the technician. When we got a hold of the technician - he came in actually - he told us he couldn't fix this problem, and we had to call the BOE so they could walk us through the proper shut down procedures. This was very frustrating because it had been calculating that last machine for an hour by this point, and we weren't getting paid by the hour, and the first eleven machines were able to shut down just fine, so it was obviously not operator error. Calling the BOE again, we finally got somebody who told us how to cancel what we had done on that machine and try again. It still got hung up, but the third try simply touching the screen helped. We then got the supplies packed up, and headed for home. I had a little scare when the clock in the car said it was 11:00, but it was 10:00 p.m. From 5:30 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.

I hope you were nice to your poll worker as you went through the line.

By the way, the photo is not of our sticker - I couldn't find a picture of it on the web, but it was a highly valued thing. Many people were very anxious to get their sticker.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Back to Normal


Last week, I was hoping to be excitedly showing you a finished quilt. One that was quilted and bound. Well, I am excited anyway, because I have a finished quilt top. Again. Everything is back to normal. I had to do some fabric substitutions, and steal some fabric from the border, so I will be adding another border. I'm using leftovers from the fabric I am using for the back. Not quite what I had in mind, but it doesn't look bad. I don't feel like looking for the camera right now, so there isn't a picture to show you, but I am sure you can imagine it from the last two pictures.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Good News and Bad

I have been unusually calm about my problem from yesterday. I would call it a fiasco or disaster, but my sense of calmness keeps from making this into a bigger problem than it is. I didn't even get the initial heart dropping feeling. It's strange, but it is good. After all, it is only fabric. And since it has been a while since I made the top, the sense of loss (time wasted to make, more time wasted to fix) doesn't feel so strong.

Second good news is that I have scrap fabric. I went straight upstairs to a brown paper lunch bag that has the leftover HSTs from this quilt - this quilt created bunches and bunches of them. Underneath that bag was another bag that contained the scraps. I thought I had forgotten about that second bag, but apparently some part of me knew it was there. Since these are the only scrap bag I have - usually scraps get thrown in a box of random scrap fabrics, it makes me wonder why I was saving them. Was I anticipating this? Or more likely, was I planning on making an applique border?

The bad news isn't all that bad. First I think I gave the pattern away. I remember telling someone I wasn't planning on making this quilt again. I just hated the cutting - each fabric goes in each part if the quilt, so lots of cutting of different shapes. I think I enjoyed the piecing though. Since there are only a few shapes I will have to figure out the size, I think I will be okay, even with the limited amount of scraps I have. I think the original pattern was called Peach Parfait. If you own that pattern, I would really appreciate knowing what size to cut these pieces. Otherwise I'll have to do my own figurin' and you know how that can go.

Second, I used tiny stitches to make this quilt. Maybe because of all the bias seams, I wanted to make sure everything was secure. I was planning on ripping out the whole corner and making it again, but with the bias seams and the tiny stitches, now I am only removing the parts where I got happy with the scissors.

And in case you were wondering. When they say you have to cut corners in this economy, I don't think they meant quilt corners. That doesn't seem to help!