Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Hurricane Katrina

Well, what can I say? It's a huge disaster to the US. I can't even imagine how difficult it is going to be for everybody in the Southern areas struck by this to recover. I don't have any relatives or close friends in the disaster area, but I am very much aware of others who do. The economic impact will be long felt as the affected areas were very dependant on tourist dollars. Anything else in today's post is pretty trivial in comparison.

New Orleans was to be my last stop on my Texas trip in October. I wanted to go there before they lost all the big trees (and I've never been to the South before). Only last Wednesday, I decided against taking the train for the whole trip, due to connection times in Chicago, so I had yet to buy my tickets. I still plan to go to Texas, although it's possible they will cancel the big quilt show in Houston (end of October). If they do that, I will just remain in the areas between Dallas and San Antonio.

I am continuing to pack up my quilting area for remodeling, cut fabric for the scrap quilts and work on those crocheted scrap squares. I'll try to give some interesting pictures tomorrow for a sort of end-of-month wrap up. That is, after I go to use my birthday discount at the local quilt shop!

Also, don't forget. If you haven't already, September 1 is the last day to download patterns from as they have left the yarn business. I tried just SAVE and it doesn't work for my setup. Easiest for me was to open WORDPAD, copy and paste the photo, then copy and paste the instructions column by column (the graphs are photos also). The majority of patterns are crochet, but there's a lot of knitting ones also. After you have downloaded your patterns, be sure to BACK UP all your patterns. I have mine on a CD as well as one of those little bitty portable plugins.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Swap Blocks

I've been simultaneously working on finishing two sets of swap blocks, selling stuff on Ebay, trying to get my sewing machine problem solved, visiting with unexpected stayover guests and having medical problems. Egads. Things just come in bunches sometimes.

Here's the block that I made for Barbie Block Swap Two. I'm not certain what this pattern is actually called (Chasing Geese?), but it's a nice one for featuring a really wonderful fabric. Those geese (little triangles) are 1.5 x 3 inches finished. They come out exactly sized using Eleanor Burn's Flying Geese ruler. There are other methods of making flying geese, but when you have this much exactness required, this ruler can't be beat since each goose is made larger and cut back to exact size.
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Sorry for the poor color. The geese and the center are different pinks.

Rant Ahead: One of the holdups for finishing the blocks for my block swaps was being unable to get Kona White from my local Hancock Fabrics. They ran out of white more than two months ago. I have requested this several times. Still not in. I don't want to have to switch all my solid fabrics shopping to mail order, but I see I'm losing my choices here. The only quilting store that carried any kind of significant selection of solids closed some years ago. Hancock's carrying Kona helped alleviate that, but I can see lots of orders to Hancock's of Paducah in my future.

Also, someone asked about that chevron afghan featured behind the scrap afghan that I am making (see Aug. 18). The chevron one is not a take-a-long project. This is primarily because you only crochet one line and then move on to the next color. So, you need your whole box of scrap yarn to work on it. It actually looks nicer if you use two rows of one color rather than just one.

Friday, August 19, 2005

One Is Not Enough

It just isn't enough for me to have only one scrap project going. Must have more. Must have more. I started another scrap afghan. This one comes from the Leisure Arts Booklet Old Timey Afghans. Here are some of the little squares that I am making. Very simple design will be surrounded by one row of black and then just sewn together. These go together pretty nicely. If you do this pattern, there is an error (3rd row, need one more dc at the very end of the row). As mentioned before, I leave the ends loose and then use a large yarn needle to finish them off. Needed something to while away the time while chauffering a relative to a 3 hour medical appointment. Still have that beer box full of leftovers, although most will go to a St. Paul elementary school towards the end of September for their projects.
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The One Line Afghan went on its way yesterday (cousin and SO). The Kitty Kat Quilt goes away with its owner tomorrow (my sister and BIL). I will miss my finished projects, but I'm ready to move on. Of course, we won't mention that I have another 42 blocks of Kitty Kat quilt (mostly Christmas colors from a swap), so I will be making another, eventually. It will get put away until other projects are done. My younger brother has (gasp) requested a quilt. I'll let him look at quilt projects after I get back from Texas. All my fabric is being put into storage until probably the end of the year (I'll have my UFOs and current projects here). I have no lack of projects to finish!

Today (and the rest of the weekend), I am concentrating on making swap blocks. A little difficult as the guest bed is in the quilting area, which is also under construction. If I can get all the cutting done today, I'll be able to just sew, sew, sew when they leave tomorrow and finish by Sunday night.

I'm adding the Texas State Fair to my itinerary for my trip. I've never been to any other State Fair, so that should be fun (different kinds of cows also).

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Pets and Crafts

Most blogs I visit include their pet pictures. I don't actually have a pet since my nearly 19 year old cat died several years ago. I am, however, keeper of the EO (Evil One), otherwise known as Fiona. Fiona is my sister's tabby cat, but for several reasons including wanting to be an only cat and illness, she lives here. She is going on 16 years old now and weighs in at 5 lbs. 14 oz. So, she is a small, skinny cat. Her normal daily routine is sleep. Occasionally, she will awaken for food, water and attention, but she prefers to burrow under a quilt or afghan and sleep all day. At night, she rests from her daytime activities and sucks heat from me. Here is her lioness pose when I brought her out in the sunshine today.
This was supposed to be the 'official' portrait for the Kitty Bed Gallery for the Felted Kitty Bed Knit-a-Long. As you can see, the kitty barely cooperated and the color is terrible. I will try to fix that tonight. I used Landscape yarn in variagated pinks. This is a yarn from Joann's that is half 100% wool and half poly. It results in a felted item with nubs. It looks really nice, but unfortunately, it lacks stability. The kitty bed sides insist on flopping over. This would be great for a purse, but not a kitty bed. The upper edge is finished with a couple rows of eyelash yarn (also from Joann's). It really looks nice after coming out of the wash. I'm giving Fiona two months to sleep in it--if that doesn't work, I have two other households to test the bed in.
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This soulful look is from my other sister's dog. She is a large sheltie named Brandy. She is laying her head on my very first quilt, the Teepee quilt. Brandy is very gentle with stuff, so I don't worry at all about her using quilts. She's not a digger. Even when playing through blankets, she is incredibly delicate. The thing about Brandy is that she is always cute. This dog does not have an off or ugly day. In fact, the only reason her ears aren't upright in typical sheltie fashion is because my sister was taking the photo (and she's the alpha dog). Brandy is 7 or 8 years old.

So, there you have it. My pet photos. Before I leave you today, I thought I would share a photo of the sexiest cross-stitch project I have ever seen (being sold on Ebay). Wonder if I'll see anything like that in Fort Worth in October?

Monday, August 08, 2005

Goodbye Peter Jennings

I've missed seeing Peter Jennings whenever I watch the news. He's been anchoring on ABC pretty much my entire adult life. The one thing he said to learn from his illness was to quit smoking. As an ex-smoker myself, I can understand not only how hard it is to quit, but also how easy it can be to start again.

I'm fortunate. I finally quit after 7 or 8 attempts in January 1991. I recognized that my problem wasn't nicotine addiction so much as the habit of smoking (like biting your fingernails). In the 3 months prior to that, I eliminated habitual places, where I smoked, one at a time. Finally, the only place I smoked was my chair. The day I quit (mid-January), I started an afghan. I made it a goal to finish it for my sister's birthday and it kept my hands busy, busy, busy. Yes, I finished it by February 16 (the night before). I also found that I had to eliminate certain things. Beer was one of them as I always smoked when I drank alcohol. It took about 3 years before I could drink a beer without craving a cigarette.

All of my cigarette money went to buying needlework stuff, so technically, I didn't really save any money by quitting smoking. I created a new demon--one that could fall in on me if the piles of stash get too high!

Today, I didn't get any needlework done so far, but I have been sorting and packing away in anticipation of repainting in September. All these fabrics I had forgotten about, I get to visit again. I am also using my 2.5 gallon Hefty zips to sort out stuff needed for planned projects. I found that these are large enough not only to contain the book/pattern, but also to keep the fabric somewhat wrinkle free. It also reminds me to stop buying more fabric....

Friday, August 05, 2005

Happy Birthday To Me!

I'm 39. Again. Here's the cake my sister made featuring my favorite cartoon character. That strange stuff on top is multicolored sprinkles. The only needlework I've done is undoing a giant multicolor yarn knot. The pieces will all go into the Colorful Granny afghan. Oh, yes, I'm in a unique category. I started out having two younger sisters...I now have 2 older sisters. :)

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Monday, August 01, 2005

Swap Blocks

I have often joined online block swaps over the years and really enjoyed them. It started with Compuserve back in 1987 (yeppers, before Netscape!). Currently, I primarily join block swaps with QATW (an MSN quilting group) and Quilting at I prefer a centralized swap where the blocks are sent to a hostess, swapped out and mailed. This is a fun thing to participate in, particularly if you are not a member of a local group, but it does get expensive (you almost never seem to have the fabric in stash) and can be time consuming. I've learned to plan better and try to get everything together early on. All the swaps featured in this entry are from QATW (last 6 months or so).

The results of the Ocean Waves swap from earlier this Summer. The results were wonderful! One of the participants provided a good photo of a bunch of her swap blocks laid together. Notice that an arrow appears! I never even noticed this effect until I saw it in black. Requirements were black fabric for background and brights. I think most of us used Kona, as it is a very consistant black across the country. Here's a link to the pattern we used:
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Photo by Lea Anne

Saturday, I received my swap blocks for the Barbie Quilt! These are really nice! I'm still in the process of completing a block for Barbie 2. My first design wasn't working with the fabric selections, so I'm making a different choice. Once I'm happy, then I can go into production and finish all of them. Notice the cute bikini block in the lower left corner (thanks DJ!). I've had a couple of ideas as to how I want to set these, but I'll wait until I have all the blocks. I also need to make the Barbie silhouette block. The requirements for this swap were that you use only pink, black and solid white.
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Here's a prior block swap that I completed. It was Country Baskets (yep, another QATW). Think Thimbleberries colors as this photo sortof washed that out. There were subsequent swaps of the same group, but at the time, I couldn't join. So, I still have more blocks to make before I can finish this quilt. The swap blocks add variety that I might not otherwise have. If you would like to make these blocks, here's a link to the pattern. The instructions are excellent!

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I hesitated for a long time, since my vision worsened, to join block swaps because mine don't always come out exactly as they should. Several ladies told me to stop agonizing over it, but just don't trim the final block to size. That way, if someone really doesn't like having corners exactly meeting, they can fix it themselves.

Thoughts for July. I'm really amazed that I finished several large projects last month! It's always nice to have a finish to spur you on to finishing other things. On the other hand, due to remodeling at the end of August, I have to put a lot of my projects and fabric into storage. Eeep. On the plus side, I'll be focusing more on cross-stitch. Other good news is that I'm finding all the parts for some of those UFOs that need to be done.