Sunday, January 31, 2010

Big Snow! (Again)

We had a snow storm yesterday, and I waited until nine o'clock this morning to start shoveling the drive as it had then warmed up to a balmy 14 degrees F. This is what greeted me as the garage door opened:
I shoveled in stages; after I got half the driveway done, I stopped and listened. It was unbelievably quiet and I was surprised by that. I expected to hear kids outside playing in the snow, or at least hear dogs romping around in it. Nothing. Nada. I walked out of the neighborhood until I reached the main four lane road, and I stood in the middle of it for nearly five minutes and not a single car came by. It was quieter than a Sunday morning; quieter than Christmas morning, even.
I walked around the neighborhood and took some photos, but not many because I felt as if I couldn't do the beauty justice; I would never be able to capture it as it was. I met some feral cats. I finally met a man with an empty leash looking for his dog who had uncharacteristically run away in the snow, and I thought, "Smart dog." He was the only one enjoying the snowy morning the way it should be celebrated. I'm glad I got the chance to stand in the middle of it and listen.
Parting Shot: To shovel in 14 degrees I wore my fleece jammy pants under my kilt. I wore an icelandic sweater Eileen knitted for me several years ago, and a knitted cap I got in Unst year before last. At this point, my neighbors aren't the least bit surprised by anything I wear. : )

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Another Project Crossed Off the To-Do List

I can't call this UFO # 3 because it's not a quilty finish, but still. I finished making my mother's kitchen curtains this weekend. On Christmas Day I made her curtains from Robert Kaufman's "Confections" collection for her country kitchen. I loved the cherries on this fabric because they are so cheerful, but the LQS didn't have enough for both windows, so I just made one: When I got back to Richmond, I found the fabric on ebay (gotta love the internet!) and ordered more. Obviously it isn't hard to make two rectangles of fabric for curtains, but it is somewhat of a challenge to make them identical. I took good notes in Cotton Creek though, and made these new ones while I watched Brett Favre go for the Super Bowl. I had some fabric leftover, so I whipped up a pillowcase for me because I needed one and I do like the fabric. Here are the curtains (all folded up - nothing to see here) and the pillowcase.
Ironically, while I was sewing these, I got a phone call from an acquaintance wanting to know if I sew for others. She explained that she and her mother had recently bought fabric for new curtains for her kitchen, but they needed someone to make them for her. Having recently read the "Selfish Seamstress" I was prepared to tell her "no" in a calm and forthright manner, but I am less experienced in rejection, and I lack the fortitude of the Selfish Seamstress. Instead, I told her "no" but I was very happy to teach her how to sew, and she could just bring the fabric with her and we could make the curtains together . . . No, she wasn't interested in that. So I emphasized that my sewing lessons were free. No, she wasn't interested in that either. She really is a lovely person, and I like her a lot, but my guilt was assuaged by the fact that she wasn't willing to put in the time and stand beside me while I basically made them for her in the form of a first lesson.
Of course, the truth is I do sew for others, but only for family who share my DNA and close friends. If I won't sew for you for free, I won't do it for money either. Sewing is my hobby, not my job!
I spent Saturday working on a new skirt with the cashmere/mink fabric I bought at the Philadelphia Quilt Expo. I absolutely love working with this fabric, and I am afraid it has ruined me for everything else. I'll show you when it's done. Hope you are having a great week!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

UFO # 2

Last weekend I finished binding the Heartstrings Quilt. I really enjoyed this quilt - it was easy, used up lots of scraps, and it has great visual impact. I got the idea of putting the red half inch strips on either side of the brown strip in each block from Melva whose quilt blocks were photographed on Mary's Heartstrings blog.

The hardest part of this quilt has been photographing it, as it keeps raining. Or it is dark when I get home from work. Here are some not such great shots outside:

Susan Caldwell picked a good thread color because it looks light on the dark fabrics and dark on the light fabrics:
Given that this is such a geometrical quilt, I wanted sort of a geometrical quilting pattern. I picked a baptist fan variation panto that provided a curved counterpoint to the straight line strip piecing:

Unfortunately, I don't remember what the pantograph is called. But the above photo is a shot of the back.

I had originally planned to give this quilt away; I envisioned it as a man's quilt. But now that I have it done, I can't give it up. It is full of my former projects - there are scraps of dresses I made for me and my mother, scraps from skirts, and shirts, and quilts, usually given to others. Maybe it is because it is my first real scrap quilt, but I just can't let it go. So I'm keeping it, and I have named it "A Man's Heartstrings". It is a substantial weight quilt, due to the muslin foundation of the squares, and it has been keeping me warm every night since I got this done. After reading the Selfish Seamstress blog, I'm trying not to feel guilty about keeping it. : )

Parting Shot: Look what I knitted at my first lesson!

After the very first stitch, it all came back to me, and I just knitted away as if it hadn't been 38 years since I had picked up a knitting needle. How could this be, I wondered? "Muscle memory," said Laura, our fab instructor and knitter extraordinaire. Next week we get to learn to purl!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

It's Hip To Knit!

My friend Eileen has worn me down; she has convinced me to learn how to knit. I am rather suspicious of all of this. Maybe she wants me to share in the joys of knitting. Maybe she wants me to join her and Loy as they knit through Scotland and other exotic locales like Doylestown, PA. Maybe she is just tired of knitting me sweaters. And maybe, here's a thought, she wants me to start knitting for her. "Learning by doing" is Eileen's motto. Hmm, I think I am onto something.

Regardless of evil motives, I'll have my first lesson next week at The Yarn Lounge. I learned to knit in first grade, but I can't say I've done much since I was seven years old. It'll all come back to me, right?

As I declared 2010 the year of the UFO, I finished this quilt for my Prayer Sister Donna this weekend. All it needed was the binding and label:

I can honestly say I didn't finish it a minute before I needed it, as I bought the pattern almost three years ago. Here's a shot of Susan Caldwell's machine quilting - she did an all over floral design:

I pieced the binding from the sashing fabrics which included the striped fabric and the tone-on-tone green fabric.

I won't show the label; I have the most inelegant labels in the whole quilting world. I would love to be one of those quilters who showed as much care in the label as with the quilt, but by the time I get to the label, I have so moved on. They end up being scrawled with a permanent marker on a scrap of muslin. I'm just happy there's a label on it.
It's amazing how quilting seems to change a quilt top. Now that it is done, I think this is a sweet little quilt that I really like. It seems so 1920's to me, and it is currently draped over the end of my bed. I better get this to Donna soon before it ends up on my bed permanently.

Parting Thought: The Richmond Esty Street Team is sponsoring a Craft Swap on Sunday, Janaury 31, 2010 from 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. You can read about it
here. I see this an excellent opportunity to donate fabric, quilting books, and notions that I'll never use and someone else might value. And I'll meet other crafters here in Richmond! My friend April Scott will be there - join us!

Friday, January 1, 2010

UFOs - Friend or Foe?

I'm back from my parent's house in Alabama, where we had a very nice Christmas. Christmas, incidentally, is still going on! Christmas is not a day; it is a season. It lasts twelve days. (Hence, "The Twelve Days of Christmas".) The first day of Christmas is December 25th, and the twelfth day is the Feast of the Epiphany, on January 6th, where the visit of the Magi is celebrated. Thus, my decorations stay up until after sunset of the 6th of January!

I took a few photos of downtown Cotton Creek, AL. This is facing north: This is a shot facing east:
You can see that it is a hotbed of activity. Our traffic light blinks yellow in one direction and red in the other; we aren't big enough to warrant a green light. Here is the gas station where the truckers, hunters, and loggers stop for breakfast and dinner (i.e. lunch):
Here is a shot facing west, and the crazy man with the hat on his head, dressed in shorts with no shoes, is my 73 year old father:

It was about 38 degrees when these photos were taken. Daddy believes walking in chilly weather with no shoes makes him eccentric, but I told him only rich people can be eccentric; as it is, he is merely crazy:

A typical local barn:

One of the laurel oaks that must be a hundred years old:

The only other store in Cotton Creek whose owner is my second cousin once removed (I think):

The church, whose steeple has been blown off by lightning more times than I can count:

This pretty much says it all:

Finally, this is my parent's house. It is the white one:

It was built by my great, great grandfather, Warren Payne, in 1918. It's a typical old house, with no central heat or air conditioning, or anything much modern. Several, but not all of the rooms, have gas heaters that you light with a match and pray that you don't blow yourself up or burn the house down. I don't touch them. I like sleeping in a house built by one of my ancestors; it feels friendly and very right, but I will note that my mother comes to visit me frequently in VA. I think she likes staying in a modern home with central heat and no mice!

Of course, today is that time of year when folks start thinking about resolutions. I don't make resolutions, but I do make "goals". My sewing goals last year were three:
1. Make myself a quilt for my bed;
2. Make a heartstrings quilt; and
I did all three and had a great time doing them all. The double wedding ring is only pieced, not quilted, but I count it as done, given that I'm not doing the quilting!
So, of course, I have been thinking of what my goals for 2010 should be. One of my goals is to visit my friends more. A friend died very recently and I attended the memorial service today. Given that people that I know, who are my age, are dying, has brought home the fact that nothing is more important than friends and the time to visit them is now. So I plan to inflict my presence on the following:
1. One visit will be to Susan and Ron. Their kids are now teenagers and they must be weary of them, so maybe my visit would be welcome, or at least tolerated. I swear that Susan's Beef Wellington recipe is no inducement. No, really.
2. A visit southward to Mark and Cynthia. They have 2 year old twins and don't go anywhere these days. I believe they would love a visit from an adult from the outside.
3. Another visit southward to George and Pam whom I haven't seen in ten years. It's time to remedy that.
4. A visit northward to Laura and Dan. You get a couple of glasses of wine in Laura and you can get her to tell the squirrel story. No better entertainment than that.
5. Nearby to Laura and Dan, a visit to Laurie and Marty, the wonderful parents of my godson. I need to visit so he remembers what I look like. Maybe I should take him, like, a gift or something.
6. And of course, another visit to Glen and Tammy!
So beware, dearest friends, I am coming, and I like to eat!
Sewingwise, I have decided that 2010 is the year of the UFO. It is my sincere goal to finish some of the quilty UFOs hanging around. I think UFO's are like unfinished homework, they just drag down on your creativity. I'll discuss my list in a separate post, but my own rules for finishing UFOs are:
1. If you give the UFO away, unfinished, for someone else to finish or use in anyway they see fit, that counts as finished.
2. If you finish the UFO as something other than intended, for example, an unfinished quilt becomes a finished wall hanging, it counts as finished.
3. If you get the courage to just throw it away, it counts as finished. You have made a decision upon it and you no longer need to take action. I doubt I would ever do this, however, but we will see.
All of this applies to quilting projects only, and I am free to continue to start and stop as many garment projects as I wish. They don't take near as long, and frankly, I like wearing the clothes. Speaking of which, over Christmas I did show Melanie at the Front Porch Quilt Shoppe my tunic that I made from fabric from her shop - a lot of fun! I also bought from her some fabric to make some curtains for Mother's kitchen. After 25 years, Daddy finally "got around" to painting the kitchen. I used a white fabric with cherries on it by Robert Kaufman called "Confections". I thought it looked very "county kitchen".

I hope you and yours are having a wonderful holiday season. What are your goals for 2010???? Do UFOs make you crazy, or do you peacefully co-exist?