Friday, September 30, 2005

The Sale

I went to the final closing sale for my LNS which closes forever today at 5 p.m. Everything was 75% off (25% off stitch models). So, I bought some items I normally would not have, but at 75% off, it seemed too good to pass up. Bought a few more Lizzie Kate items, Prairie School patterns, Lincoln fabric (never had that before), Klostern fabric, more Treasure Braid and a single stitched model (a snowman). That will be fun.

Right now the weather is wonderful! I'm happy to hear that the heat wave has diminished in Texas as well. I just wasn't looking forward to roasting next month. I'm such a coward.

Not much else done in the crafting area other than I'm finishing packing up what will be packed up for the Winter. Not going to be able to paint for more than a week-I hope it remains warm enough to keep the windows open! Oh, and I have a temporary cooking blog on the new MSN spaces. I was just trying it out and it seemed a good way to get the recipes to my sister too. Visit it when you are hungry.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Other Stuff I do

Do I only do needlework? Nope. I love movies and books.

I am not a regular TV watcher. Not that there are not good shows on, but just not important enough for me to remember to turn the TV on. I tried, I really did, to enjoy Desperate Housewives, but I was just so turned off by some of the characters that I just stopped bothering. I've been watching 24 (Keiffer Sutherland) on DVD, so will make an effort to see the episodes as they air this year.

I'm very much a movie watcher and I will admit that my preference are high body count movies. Horror, thrillers, action adventure are movies I will go out of my way to see generally (OK..Blade did have a little more blood than I could take, but oh well). I also like kid-like movies (Shrek, Ants, Nemo). I occasionally like a romantic comedy, but I wait until it's on Cinemax to see it. The last one I really liked was You Got Mail. I did rather like Meg Ryan movies, but she isn't 'cute' anymore. So far, I haven't found her particularly good in dramatic roles either.

I have boycotted Tom Cruise movies since 1997. He may be a good actor, but a fruitcake whose career should die before he does any more damage. Seems others are finally catching on!

Most recently, I went to see Corpse Bride. If you didn't like Nightmare Before Christmas, you won't like this movie. It has an interesting story, but the music isn't anywhere near the caliber of the first movie (stories aren't related..just the style). I enjoyed the movie, but this is not one I'd watch over and over. Featured trailers for future movies that looked interesting included Chicken Little, the next Harry Potter movie and Chronicles of Narnia. I go the first day to every Harry Potter movie. Just gotta.

I can no longer read my favorite books. I have eye damage that makes reading a book very difficult. In fact, I haven't read a single Harry Potter book, yet I know them very well via audio editions. On a computer, I can adjust contrast, font, and all making reading easy. Can't on a book. Some of my favorite authors include Anne McCaffrey, Christopher Stasheff and most recently Dean Koontz. I've also become a fan of funny vampire romance books. It's dumb, but hey, I enjoy them.

Ok..well, I'll add more if I get to it today.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Storage for the Scrap Obsessed

Today's posting is for the fabric obsessed. If you are not fabric obsessed, you will not see a point here.

There's been discussion on some quilting boards about how to handle your scraps from quilting projects. I used to have several scrap boxes; it would take hours to go through trying to find stuff to make into something. Then I had to iron, sort and cut. I adapted some of the suggestions. These days, I have a small scrap box and regularly go through and cut pieces into usable sizes. I want stuff that works with quick-cut methods as well. That way, when I'm ready to start a project, I can just start. I also can get a really scrappy look as I have such a variety. However, my collection is not huge. My storage space is small (a bookshelf). How do I organize?

My most common square sizes are 2 7/8 inch, 2 1/2 inch, 2 inch and 1 1/2 inch. I have a couple of other sizes for specific projects. The trick to storage is to store in such a way that you don't have to reiron when ready to use. At the same time, you don't want to become too obsessed with perfect organization. My stuff all has to fit on a bookshelf, so it has to be light. I store my 2.5 inch squares in a photobox, purchased from Michaels. Shoe boxes are too flimsy to constantly take on and off a shelf. I can make a large twin sized quilt from the squares that would totally fill this box. I keep my 2 inch squares in an ice cream bucket. Filled, there are enough squares to make half a twin sized quilt.
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I have 2 collections of 1.5 inch squares. One collection is sorted by rainbow colors for a planned quilt. The other quilt, inspired by Bonnie from Quiltville, uses everything else. It is a log cabin look-a-like. Coffee cans are great for these really small squares with one caveat. If you don't like the odor of coffee, use something else as it takes quite a few washings to completely eliminate coffee odor. Once these two quilts are complete, I will never again save 1.5 inch squares! Ahh...but the challenge. This is a project that I expect to take years, so I don't stress over it.
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This black Tupperware box, purchased for a buck at a garage sale has worked splendidly for my 2 7/8 inch square and triangle collection. I use the Scrapsaver and surprisingly, have not had any problems with stretching on the bias edge of the triangles. Perhaps I'm more careful than average? In any case, again, I have enough squares to make a twin sized quilt. Next to the box are two fabric collections for specific planned quilts. The 5.5 inch blue squares will become half-square triangles with an appliqued dragon. The 2.5x6.5 beige/tan background rectangles are for a project featured at called Scrappy Sister's Choice. Most of these were long strips leftover from trading 6 inch squares of background fabrics with other quilters through the mail. I always buy some extra in case of shrinkage or cutting errors.

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I absolutely love these little plastic shelf boxes. Unfortunately, I don't have the footspace for them. This little bitty one, which fits on my bookshelf, seemed useful for storage, but it quickly fills. Instead, I use it as a staging area. The top 3 shelves I put cut shapes (Drunkard's path, pyramid, tumbler) for charm and charmlike quilts and the bottom two are for storing chain-pieced leaders and enders for the log cabin look-alike. One has lights, the other darks. When those drawers get filled, I spend a couple hours sewing them together into blocks until they are empty again.

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I just loved this little plastic basket that I received when I purchased some charm squares from my LQS. I store 4 x 1.5 inch strips in here. Then, when it gets filled, I sew together a whole bunch of them, trim to 3.5 inches and add them to the utility quilt I am making. It is going together round robin style in order to maintain a complete random look.

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Finally, I keep referring to Bonnie. Bonnie is a professional machine quilter in South Carolina who maintains a great site that she has even improved! A recent feature shows her pieced quilt backs (she uses leftover 10.5 inch pieces to piece her backs rather than use yards and yards of the same fabric). OH..oh..ohh...and I bought my plane ticket for Texas yesterday!! I hope a cold front comes through before I get there in mid-October. A heat index of 111 in San Antonio does not sound good!

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Storm Damage and Progress

As I type this, I am surrounded by the sound of chain saws. Last night, while watching TV about the path of Hurricane Rita, and wondering if I'm even going to be able to go on my Texas trip, we got hit by a big storm that caused significant damage. In fact, there was a tornado only a couple of blocks away (F2 about 50 feet wide, meterologists say). We, however, had straight line winds estimated at 80 mph. So, we've lost a couple of trees and had a 'train wreck.' My Dad's scale model Christmas Train broke its bracing and fell sideways. The caboose lost it's roof. The trees we lost were due to be cut down in a couple of years, so it's not too tragic. Some folks lost all the trees in their yards and of course, some folks lost their homes. A large section of the business district in both Blaine and Coon Rapids lost power all day, so I wasn't able to get my bifocals today. Darn it.
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Note the 5 gallon buckets to get an idea of how big this Christmas lawn ornament is.

Every evening, I've been doing about 1/2 an hour of sewing on the Depression quilt. I just make HSTs. It's also one of the few things I can do on any craft stuff without getting these new bifocals as I can't read directions and work on project at the same time! Darn it.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Needlework Shop Closing and Ebay Rant

I found out over the weekend that the needlework and framing shop closest to me is closing at the end of this month. The owner just decided it was time. Apparently their reduction sale has been going on for a couple of weeks, so there wasn't that much left that I really needed to buy. However, what I did buy was 60% off! I will share it with you!

My first item was a Shepherd's Bush seasonal project entitled "Happy Heart" that includes all the buttons. I liked it and it was a little different from what I'm accustomed to doing. Bees seem to be popular again.
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I bought a very few threads. I really liked Treasures braid and loved the fuzzy Alpalca. I resisted buying any of the hand dyes, silks and such easily since I just really don't get into using them. They are nice, but often don't show up well on my backgrounds. I miss a lot of the subtlety unless I have bright sunshine. Could be because I'm red/green color blind? I don't know.
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This next one is just a little project called "Dizzy Busy Bees" by The Sweetheart Tree. It also includes a tiny bee to be added to the stitching. I don't hesitate to buy these types of things used as it's relatively easy to get the little figures mail order.

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I would have loved to have purchased a couple of the stitched models, but with my Texas trip coming up, I really jumped on myself to stick to my budget. As such, I still spent $26 today! I want to stop at some of the stitching shops in Texas as well, since I'm sure they carry an assortment that isn't readily available here (catcus, cowboys, western, for instance).

EBAY RANT (you can skip this if you want, but if you are a small seller, keep going!)

On to the rant about Ebay. A year ago, several people that I know predicted that Ebay planned to run off all the small sellers (these are the folks that brought Ebay to where it is today). They are currently doing this with new rules at Paypal. Many of you might not know that Ebay purchased Paypal a couple of years ago. I have a Paypal personal account. This has restrictions such as I can only receive $500 in any month, limited number of transactions (I think it's 30) and can't accept credit cards. That's fine--I'm not in business. I sell 25 things roughly 4 times a year. I am typical. I am also being run off.

Two months ago, Ebay started notifying folks that used the Paypal icon that you could only use the icon if you accepted all forms of Paypal payment (in other words, no personal accounts). It confused people. Fine, they have to respond to buyers, even if it's because the buyers refuse to read the payment information. This allows buyers to list only auctions that took Paypal credit cards. The latest thing is to cancel the auctions of folks who do not take credit cards, and do not use the Paypal icon, but accept Paypal bank transfers (e-checks). In other words, personal accounts. You aren't even allowed to list in your description that you accept Paypal cash or e-checks. Now, if you are in business, accepting credit cards is simply necessary today. But as an individual who is selling her personal stuff, why should I have to pay fees for accepting money when I have a PERSONAL account? Several others have predicted that those who don't offer Paypal at all (just money orders or Bidpay) will eventually be knocked off. Ebay greed probably to pay for their billion dollar mistake. Let's look at a recent example applying the new rules. Since I am not a business, I don't have enough transactions to generate any discounts, so would be paying full fees. A used cross stitch booklet which sold at auction for $2 plus $1.50 shipping. Fees are:
    • Ebay Listing Fee: .35
      Ebay Final Value Fee: .35
      Paypal fee for accepting money: .30
      Paypal % fee for accepting money (includes shipping): .09
That's $1.09 in fees for a $2 booklet. There is an additional hidden fee. You also get charged for cash transactions as well as the credit card transactions. I have a personal account for a reason. I am not in business. Guess what. Come November, I'm not going to have an account at all because I'm going to cancel both Ebay and Paypal accounts unless Paypal removes their restrictions. It's a little like the fox in the henhouse with a fiduciary dictating what occurs in a sellers' environment.

Now, quitting Ebay isn't such a bad thing. I have noticed, in the last year, that there has been a HUGE dropoff in the market for most used cross-stitch, knitting, quilting and scrapbooking books and patterns. I think it's called market saturation. The only thing I can get on Ebay that is difficult for me to get elsewhere are punchies (for scrapbooking). But those businesses will mostly disappear as well. How can you keep offering punchies for $1.25 when much of it goes for fees? my soap box. I guess I'll go back to trading charts (or offering them free for postage).

Friday, September 02, 2005

Crafts and Help

I'm not going to belabour this. Right now, cash donations to either Red Cross or Salvation Army will do more for most victims than anything else. However!

Quilters: American Quilters Society (AQS) and the International Quilt Festival (IQF) are both requesting quilts for hurricane refugees. IQF has requested twin sized and AQS requested twin through king-sized. They do not want infant/child quilts. Prefer poly batting (dries faster), but cotton is fine also. Don't forget the long-legged guys! IQF will deliver quilts to the Houston shelters. AQS will store the quilts in their wonderful warehouse facilities in Paducah, ready to ship where they have been requested in the disaster area. This will catch many of those smaller shelters when they are ready to get them. These requests are for finished quilts-they can be quilted or tied.

Here's the link for Intl. Quilt festival:
For AQS: Send donated quilts to:AQS Quilters to the Rescue, c/o American Quilter’s Society, 5801 Kentucky Dam RoadPaducah , KY 42003

This is going to be a long term effort at many of these shelters in several states. If you want to knit or crochet afghans for refugees, go ahead and do that. Warmer blankets will be needed in a couple of months. Make them adult sized. Eventually, you'll be able to find addresses of where to donate these for hurricane/flood victims. If you want to make bright, cheerful afghans for kids, go ahead. Just don't make them baby sized or use poor quality materials. Be sure everything you use is machine wash/dry. Don't forget that local need is still there--keep making the blankies for, battered women's shelters, local law enforcement and such.

Also, I'm thinking that soft toys or pillows might be an appreciated item once the basics are taken care of. Something for a child to hug and hold or to identify a teenager's cot. Just ideas.