Saturday, November 28, 2009

Santa's Workshop

Santa has decided that my vacation is over. I was able to take Thanksgiving and Black Friday off, and now, even though it is the weekend, I must work, work, work, in order to make gifts for 10 people.

During my vacation, I did manage to come up with some gift ideas of what these 10 people (well actually 7, still need to figure out the men) would appreciate getting. So, I've set aside the African Circle quilt - not too far away, I want to get back to it right away.

I didn't have a good recent picture to add to the blog, so I looked back for one I hadn't shown you, and it seemed like I kept looking back and back (each upload is in its own folder). So I decided to show you one from late November last year. Since there was a new crane made for Thanksgiving this year, I thought I should photograph that for you as well. It seems to be slightly incomplete. The picture at the top of the page is this year's edition. And already on the camera was a picture of an African circle, so I threw that in the post for you as well.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Happy Black Friday!

I hope you had a good Thanksgiving. We had a gathering here at my house, around lunchtime. Everybody else brought all the food. My sister-in-law was not able to attend, because she was getting ready for an evening gathering with her family. We watched the slideshow I made for my daughter, and played Pictionary.

I let them know that I would be making all my gifts, and if anyone had any requests, to let me know. My niece was the only one with a request. She wanted a warm fuzzy blanket. I didn't tell her that her request had to use available supplies, because I didn't want her to know I as being cheap, but I figured I could buy some fuzzy fabric. Or buy a warm fuzzy blanket. They are pretty inexpensive anyway. It's a good thing nobody else had any requests!

Since the gathering was in the afternoon, I had time in the evening to laze around and read some blogs and watch TV and see all the ads. And to look at the free newspaper with all of its ads. How can a bargain shopper resist Black Friday, I ask you? It is impossible. One of the blogs I read, I'm Just a Guy Who Quilts, Ryan has recently purchased a sewing machine table, the kind I've dreamed about for years. I kept seeing all these cabinets, and wishing for a simple table with a hole in it for a sewing machine. I want a flat bed for my sewing machine, but not the expense, and the cabinet space which may or may not fit my needs, and will definitely not fit my limited available space in my house. His table is perfectly simple! And it folds for easy storage! The reviews say it is heavy but since my ironing board is open all the time, I figure I'm not going to be folding it very often, and I can handle the weight for when I have company. And heavy = sturdy, right? I couldn't get it for any cheaper than he did, $110, when you include shipping.

Then when I saw that Joann had what looks like the same exact table for $80, well I just had to wake up early and go. I know that it is expensive, especially when you know I'm going to be a cheapskate with the gift giving, but it is an investment, and I'll definitely get my moneys worth of use out of it. They had already made, fuzzy blankets for $2.99. How could I not go? What else do I have to do at dark o'thirty?

I didn't try to get there when the store opened, so no waiting in line in the rain. I went early, when it was still dark. It was easy. There were lots of people there, but I didn't buy anything that needed to be cut. Temptation was great though, and other things were purchased. I bought an organizer for stuff. Also bought a Cricut. I'm not sure about that one, it was a great price, but I'm not sure I'll get my money's worth out of it. I know people who use it rave about it, but the lady standing next to me in line said she hadn't bothered to figure out how to use hers yet, and I'm not sure how often I would be cutting the same shape, especially since you have to buy new cartridges for different shapes. What do you think? Would you get your money's worth with a Cricut? I might be returning it.

There were lots of people in the store, but there was plenty of supply, so there was no pushing or shoving. The cashier's line was very very long, but it went incredibly fast, about 10 minutes. And they gave us Hershey's Kisses to give us energy while we waited.

Then I went home, woke up the daughter, and took her to Kohls to buy luggage for her upcoming trip. Also at an amazing price. Of course she threw a couple of pairs of jeans in the cart, and I added gloves. The line was also long there, but also very fast. I think people are friendlier on Black Friday than later in the shopping season. They haven't gotten tired of it yet. Or maybe they are still half asleep!

Now we are going to attempt to stay away from stores for the rest of the holiday season.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Circle time, continued

I'm still working on the circle quilt. At this pace, I should stick to much faster projects! The circles have all been applied, and I am working on the last of the border. I decided to do a simple border, and let the fabric tell me what to do. That is, I sewed the leftover fabrics together in the same size they happened to be. So they aren't blocks or improvisional, just strips of fabric strung together. It'll be okay though.

When I first laid out the circles, I imagined that I let everyone in the family decide which craft project they wanted, and this one was the one that most people wanted, and not just because their other option was a luggage tag. Looking at it yesterday though, I had a "What was I thinking" moment. It is really busier than most things I make, and since I have been looking at modern quilts, with simple lines, and lots of white background, this one seems outlandish by comparison.

I really do hope I get it done today, because I have many more gifts to make!

The picture is of the first layout, when I really liked the quilt.. I pinned some circles down, but was afraid those pins would poke me, and cause problems with movement on the sewing machine, so I didn't do them all. I went back and did the rest, and then some of them fell off in process, and I threw those back on without careful measurement, so they don't look like this layout anymore, but it's a good approximation. I did press all the fabric before starting, but this must have been after some of the circles were sewn on. I'll have to be sure to press the whole thing again before quilting.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Circle Time!

I finished my sashiko. I will show it to you after I wash it. You know what this means, right? This means I can move on to another project. I didn't want to spend a lot of time thinking and debating, so I moved to the first one that crossed my mind. It is Circle Time quilt that Amanda Jean showed on her blog. She used old CDs as a template.

Remember when America Online and Prodigy and CompuServe were sending CDs in the mail, to get you to use them as their internet provider? I thought I would be clever and use the CD as a template for a quilt, but I never got around to it. I find it hard to do nice circles. And when I was cleaning out my basement, I found said old CDs that I was saving. You know, because CDs are so hard to find.

Then I saw the quilt, and it is so beautiful, and she uses the word "casual". Such a beautiful word. I can make a casual quilt. And then I can throw away my old CDs!

I think the key to making this quilt is to use beautiful fabric. Yes, I have cut into my African fabric stack. I cut out all the circles yesterday, and did the layout and a some of the zig zag stitching today. This is going to be a quick quilt, except maybe for the borders. My border idea may take some time, if I follow through with it. I am hoping to make lots of maverick blocks. I've read that the Africans like complex patterns so the evil spirits get confused and can't get into the quilt.

Thursday, November 19, 2009


The expensive part on the furnace that I needed to replace turned out to be two expensive parts that I needed to replace. But they have been replaced, and my furnace is brand new all over again.

picture from the internet

Then there was a pipe that was leaking, and it too has been fixed. The furnace guy said he couldn't do the pipe because it was complicated, but the plumber just replaced the saddle valve, which is a very easy thing to install, although you couldn't tell that by the bill.

The good news in all this, is that I just received my charge card bill, and these repairs were not on it. So I have some time to gather up some money, ahem, just in time for the holiday season.

Santa's workshop will be in full swing this year. I think it would be best for me to make all of my gifts this year, using existing supplies.

I need some ideas - I know I can make bags and table runners, and tree decorations. What would the men want?

Monday, November 16, 2009


I guess it is a good thing that I've been spending time in the basement, working on cleaning it up. Everything is now organized in the boxes again - the ones that have fallen apart have been replaced, and most of the empty boxes and bags (they can be useful!) have all been taken away. I'm still going through the full boxes in an effort to reduce. There are still some boxes on the floor, and I'd like to have no more than can fit on the shelves.

I say I guess it is a good thing, because Friday night, yes it has to be at the start of the weekend, I smelled gas. Wasn't sure, with my allergies, but decided that it is better to be safe than sorry, and called the gas company on an emergency run. Yes, he did ask "what is your emergency?" I thought I had been transferred to 911 for a minute!

He came and after checking - he started and checked everywhere except where I said I had smelled the smell, he finally got around to the furnace, and decided that it was leaking. He said he had to shut it off. Lovely.

I figured I could manage the night without heat - I might have a blanket or two to keep me warm - and deal with it in the morning. The furnace guy said I needed an expensive part, and they charge $200 extra to open up the shop on the weekend! I guess I should have called someone who trusts their employees into the storeroom on the weekend. I decided that I was poor enough that I could manage a weekend without heat. I have sweaters and space heaters, maybe a lap quilt or two, and the temperature outside is not too cold.

Saturday was fine, but the sun decided not to come out on Sunday. I realized that I move around the whole house a lot more than I thought. Every time I decided to go to another room, I had to think about whether it was worth moving the space heater. I baked a cake instead! It worked great.

If you come to visit before it is all fixed, sorry. You might have to keep your coat on, but I'd be happy to fix you some tea or coffee to help keep you warm. And cake. I have cake.

Photo is from the internet. My heater is actually smaller!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Upcoming Project

I'm still working on the sashiko, and my mind has still been floating around to the millions of other small projects I want to make now that I don't have to have a purpose for them.

One day, I went to Joann's. I think it was after the Stitching Post went away, and a new very similar establishment took it's place. I was just walking by to see if there would be any good going out of business sale, which there wasn't, but the lady asked me if I wanted to look at her new sewing machine. I explained to her that I wasn't in the market for a sewing machine, but she talked me into looking at it anyway. I can dream, can't I? Be ready for when that spend a million dollar in a minute shopping spree comes along, I'll know exactly what I want.

Anyway, she gave me this sample as a gift to take home. I'm not sure what kind of flower it is, or even if I have it facing the right way. I got to push the button to get this to start! I think I was supposed to be impressed by that. Anyway, this will be the start of my next project. See how honorable I am, using up an orphan block. Not starting any NEW projects. Many great ideas for this one, including using up some more purple HSTs, or making one of those stitchery / patchwork quilts like the Australians have been making. Love those! But I've decided on making a delectable mountains quilt, like the one I made for a swap quilt once. A bonus is I won't have to know which way is up! It will be a scrappy one, since I don't have big pieces of the fabrics I want to use. I am cutting now, and hopefully I will have the stitchery done, and I can rush into stitching this one.

Sorry, the picture is blurry, but hopefully you'll be even more impressed when the finished product doesn't look as blurry.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Continuing Sashiko

The basement cleaning is going well. I donated two big boxes of things, and have a stack ready to take to recycling. There is plenty more I can do down there - the basement is solely for storage and laundry.

I didn't do any artwork of my own yesterday. I read Earlene Fowler's Tumbling Blocks. I haven't kept up with this series, but I do like the books. Benni Harper got a lot more help from her friends and family doing her work than I would feel comfortable getting.

I've been trying to catch up on blog reading, but it is a never ending battle. Not just because bloggers keep writing new posts, but also because sometimes they introduce you to new bloggers, and if you go visit the new bloggers, they will introduce you to a whole host of friends, and well, the list of bloggers keeps increasing, and all of their new posts. I love it, though. Great inspiration.

I have been working on the sashiko, and I would like to finish it before I pick up another project. It is going really fast - there are no color changes, no stitches to count, and you can do several stitches at a time, so it is good practice for quilting. I guess I should have read the tutorial before I started. I am working on a section at a time instead of all the way across the lines. Either way, it shouldn't take more than a week, but the temptation to start yet another project is strong. Every time I come across a project on a blog, I want to start it NOW. Unfortunately, the next blog also has a project I want to do NOW, and so on and so forth.

I generally get more projects finished in the fall than any other season. I am afraid that if I keep being this fickle, this year won't have many finished projects to show.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Another Day of Art?

I generally have some loose plans for the day, as a guide for what I will be doing. Nothing too strict, because things don't always work out. Well, yesterday, I didn't follow my plans. I wore some dress clothes, because my jeans were in the dryer. That might have started it. I started hand washing my hand washing clothes. Then, when I went to the basement to get the clean laundry, I started cleaning the basement. Yes, I want to do that, but that wasn't on the list of things to do yesterday. I decided to leave myself on auto pilot, because I was getting more things accomplished just doing things as I went along instead of following a list.

Is the cleaner basement art? Yes it is. It looks much less ugly than it did. And beautification is one purpose of art, isn't it? Making it look pretty would involve a capital investment, but I am going to head on back downstairs, see if I can make it look even less ugly. I am pretending that I have a camera crew from Hoarders with me. I think it will make it easier to get rid of the junk.

And yes, I did work on my stitching project too.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Rinse and Repeat

It's another beautiful day outside, so I repeated what I did last week. Rake the leaves, fill up a couple of dumpsters. It really didn't look like there was that much outside; I even debated just mowing them, but they filled up both of the dumpsters. Luckily trash day is tomorrow. Then I went back out with my camera and took a few pictures.

For art yesterday, I started working on this project that Tanya gave me. I couldn't find the thread / floss she gave me - it's tucked away in a special place. I decided it is better to do it than waste my time getting frustrated looking for it. I am using a quilting thread. This is obviously the before picture, so you can see how pretty it is before I get my needle to it.

And for those of you wondering if following a pattern is really art, hey, I chose the thread! No, eventually sometime this month, I will make something of my own creation. Most of my ideas involve pulling out fabric, and since my sewing space is relatively neat right now, I'm trying to keep it that way.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Luggage Tag

It's a good thing I didn't find the rum yesterday, because I decided to make a luggage tag, following Morah's tutorial. My daughter will need one for her upcoming travels, and I have this fabric that I didn't want to chop up into little pieces.

The crane's head isn't chopped off - it is heading off to the horizon! I found some packaging plastic and it wasn't slippery even without a teflon foot. I had trouble with the buttonhole because the machine was feeding the fabric through, so it pretty much stitched in place forever, but since that part was going to be ripped off anyway, I guess it didn't do too much damage when I had to rip that out.

Whenever I make these - the basket and the tag - I feel like I should make more than one at a time, but I'm glad I restrict myself to one, so that I can learn from my mistakes. The plastic isn't on straight, and there is a bump on the inside by the plastic, but it is still usable.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Marooned Without a Compass Day

It's Marooned Without a Compass Day. I'm not quite sure how to celebrate. I think when you get marooned, you are generally on an island, and it's probably deserted, because otherwise you could ask for directions. And if you are marooned on a deserted island, I think the best thing to do is to look for the rum. So I guess I'll have to find some rum to celebrate the day.

Don't look it up - you'll have to learn how to navigate using stars and the sun and directional signs.

I suppose you could make a compass block, but that's kinda hard to do if you've found the rum.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Three Needle Bag

I know you are supposed to change your needle frequently, but probably not three times a day, in the middle of the same project. This beautiful bag ate three of my needles. The needle was set for zig zag when I first started, and when I put in the quarter inch foot, there went that needle. Luckily I bought a package on sale the last time I went to Joanns. Then I set it for zig zag to add some embellishment to the handle, and when I put the quarter foot inch again for the lining, there went another needle. To make the same mistake twice in the same day is just not right. The third one just happened because the machine got in the habit. I might have pulled too hard when I was doing the last stitch around the top. I like the finished product, so all is forgiven. The machine is still not in the mood to do free motion quilting. The friendship bag is slightly too small for a CD.

Thank you for the tutorial, Rachel.

The fabric is a finishing kit in one of Joann's block of the month projects. I don't participate in BOMs generally, unless they are free, and this kit was on clearance. The photo on the package isn't enticing, and I almost didn't get it, but the fabric is pretty, and I figured I could use it for something else. The lining fabric is from Ames, from when there was an Ames.

It hasn't taken me all five days of Art Everyday to make one bag. I've also made a couple of ATCs, and added some words to my Bridal Wishes quilt. This one seemed appropriate for the slide show I made my daughter. I took it to her this weekend, and she was really touched. I wound up using "You Are So Beautiful" by Joe Cocker. I think really it was a better song choice than any one about a smile anyway.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Art Everyday

I've been thinking about Art Everyday Month, trying to think of what artsy thing I could do for a whole month. I think the basic plan is to add something to my crazy quilt everyday. This will keep the project manageable, since I don't actually have to finish anything everyday, or even this month. And it will get an old UFO moving along.

But there is also something about starting a new project. Especially the projects which aren't very practical for me. I've seen many bag tutorials, and many times I wanted to do one, but I have more than enough bags as it is, and I'm not sure my friends or family members would need one either. I decided to let this Art Everyday Month serve as an excuse to make a bag. After all, it is art, and doesn't have to have a practical purpose. I am using the tutorial from Rachel at P.S. I Quilt.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009


I have been a Nielsen family for the last few years. I've had some paper surveys they sent once in a while in the past, but this time we became an official family. They hook up equipment to all of your televisions, VCRs and DVD players, and monitor your usage. This helps advertisers see which shows are popular, etc.

I received a phone last week or the week before. "We're calling to set up an appointment to pick up our equipment." There is no notice or announcement that our relationship is being terminated. After I asked, she said that the maximum they keep a family is 5 years, and at 3, I've had a pretty good run. When they first put it in, I was surprised they didn't call me in six months to take it out, so I guess I am happy with 3 years.

They come once a year to check on their equipment, and at least one other time in the year, something or other went wrong, so they had to come in and fix something, and once I wanted to move the tv to another room. It was nice when I got the converter boxes, they installed everything, and I didn't have to figure out which wire went where. There is no pay, although they give you a small amount quarterly to pay for the additional electricity.

They took away the stuff yesterday. The picture is clearer now on my televisions. I've had my share of paranoia over the equipment. "Is this station fuzzy today because they want me to watch a different station?" "Am I sure they aren't recording my conversations?" Stupid things, so now I am wondering if I was rejected because I didn't watch the big shows like the Super Bowl game or the Academy Awards.

Or maybe it is my willy nilly television watching habits. I don't look for particular shows anymore. Even my favorite shows, I won't make sure I watch every week. Whenever I want to watch tv, I just turn it on, and flip through the stations and choose the best one. If there isn't anything I want to see, I'll put in a DVD. If I've already watched the same show last week or yesterday (why are they doing reruns so soon?), I'll watch it again, particularly since I can do other things, like clipping coupons, cleaning out paperwork, or handwork, while I watch tv.

I should have taken photos of the equipment before they took it away. There were a lot of wires! It is strange watching TV now. Nobody cares what I watch anymore.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Eastern Standard Time

Welcome to November, and back to Eastern Standard Time. Goodbye Daylight Savings Time. I always look forward to this time change. I wish we could keep it this way. I woke up earlier than I usually do, and with the extra hour gained from the time change, I have had a leisurely productive day. I am getting lots of things done, even though there is no stress or pressure. Everyday should be like this.

Instead of bringing out all the sewing stuff and bringing my house back to pre-party mode, I am still trying to organize and do some more cleanup. I'm focusing on my basement, and cleaning out the kitchen. I do this from time to time, limiting my grocery shopping and see how much I can eat out of the contents of my kitchen. There was a turkey breast in the freezer taking up room, so I'm baking it now. After the freezer, I will tackle the canned goods. A big purge before I stock up for winter will be good.

My sister said it is Art Month. She actually said it is Art A Day month, where you do something artsty everyday. Although I saw several reference to to October being declared Art Month, I couldn't see a reference to the Art A Day Month online, and you know it is only true if it is online. Now that you have seen here, it is real. Seeing how well I did with Blogtoberfest, and I'm not sure I can commit to art everyday, especially when Scanfest is about to resume, but I do have to make some ATCs today, and any effort is better than no effort, so we will see how it goes.

The photo is of something Tanya made for me a while back. I took the photo, thinking I would use it for the slide show somehow, but I didn't, and it is art, so it works here. It looks a little lumpy and shadowy because I didn't lay it down flat, and I cast a shadow on it.

edited to add: It is real. It's Art Everyday Month, Here's a site for ideas and to join Creative Every Day . Here's a Sacred Circles Mandala from last year, so apparently this might be an annual or a monthly event.