Thursday, July 24, 2014

This and That on Thursday


My plan for Tuesday was to quilt … but as is so often the case in my life, my plans changed.  DD called and invited me to join her and the Ts at the nearby water park.  By the time I got home, I barely had enough energy to prepare dinner, let alone quilt.


So Wednesday was to be quilting day … and I did get in several hours of quilting.  I realized that I hadn’t taken a picture of the entire quilt to share, so when I moved the hoop, I thought to take a picture.


I couldn’t get the entire quilt in the picture … I didn’t have enough room to get it all in the viewfinder, not to mention I don’t have enough floor space for a 99.5” x 99.5” quilt!  Disappointed smile


Because I was gone Tuesday, I called Moda yesterday … and had a very nice conversation with their rep.  She offered to send 7 yards of extra wide fabric from the Primitive Gatherings line.  And I’m using Primitive Gatherings fabric for T#1’s quilt and I’ll be using more for the pineapple quilt that I have kitted up … so I’m sure I’ll find a use for that backing fabric.  Thumbs up  So while I would have rather had backing that didn’t shrink, I have to say that I’m pleased with how and Moda have ultimately handled this. 


This afternoon, we’ve got an appointment with a closet company to discuss storage for the closet in my sewing room.  Right now I’m leaning toward something fairly simple like adjustable shelving so I have the flexibility to store whatever sized containers I choose and to be able to go back to hanging clothes if I wish/need to. 


A bloggy friend has got a fundraising giveaway going on … Sarah over at Confessions of a Fabric Addict is giving away 4 quilts (yes, that’s 4 quilts for 4 winners!!) … as part of a fundraising effort to bring her new grandson home from China … you can read all about it here or here.  If you have a soft spot for little ones who need a family, perhaps you can help her family make that a reality for Nathanael. 


We didn’t get any of the rain in yesterday’s forecast … we could have really used some.  But we did get the cool front that was to follow the rain … it was still in the 50’s when Lois and I set out to walk this morning.  Brrrrr  I put on a sweatshirt … and could have used another layer! 


Have a fabulous Thursday!


Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Tuesday’s Trivialities


I’ve complained about my experience with Gutermann handquilting thread and with Moda backing fabric, but I certainly don’t want you all to think that I’m just a complainer Winking smile … so I’m going to share a couple of good experiences. 


Several of the quilters who frequent the Celebrate Handquilting Facebook Page shared their love for YLI 40/3 handquilting thread.  I picked up a large spool while at Paducah in April, thinking I’d give it a try on DD’s chevron quilt … and I absolutely LOVE it!  No tangling, no knotting, minimal twisting, no fraying, no breaking … and I’m notorious at using longer pieces of thread than I ought to.  The only drawbacks are that no LQS around here carry it (I buy it from Red Rock Threads … awesome service!) and that it doesn’t come in quite as many colors as I would like.  I’m sold and will be using YLI handquilting thread from here on out.


I cannot remember where I read the tip about using long-arm clips to corral the excess quilt when handquilting, but I did a little online shopping and found Jaws quilt clips that work fabulously. 


They’re really “earning their pay” on this chevron quilt … it’s 99.5”x99.5” and that means that there would be a lot of quilt bunched up in my lap as well as on my legs … the clips keep all that excess fabric from “tangling” together and under control, and with the return of 90+ degree weather, they help keep me a little cooler while quilting.


As you can see above, I’m making progress … I’ve stitched 50 of the 5.5” squares … there are a total of 256, so I’m 20% done with the squares.  I’ve spent 3 days quilting … probably 5-6 hours/day, but with the usual interruptions (lunch, phone calls, checking emails, doing laundry and working in the garden, etc.), so I’m making pretty good time, I think.  If I’m able to keep up this pace, I should be able to get this quilt finished and on DD’s bed before we leave for Hilton Head in September.  Fingers crossed


Speaking of my frustrations with Moda, I did follow up on their initial response … the online shop increased the store credit, but Moda’s response was not what I was hoping for.  While at retreat I received an email from the Moda rep, asking for a phone conversation.  She gave me the number for her direct line, asking me to call at my convenience.  I plan to call her today … and will report if anything comes from this.


It’s official … our zucchini has “bitten the dust”.  What a disappointment, especially since this was our “last hurrah” with zucchini.  We had the same thing happen last year, as did our neighbor.  I was hoping that with our garden being in raised beds in the backyard this year, we’d be able to successfully grow zucchini.  Sad smile  Thankfully our tomatoes are doing well … DH has picked several of his yellow tomatoes (less acidic which means he tolerates them better … he has GERD), and several of our red tomatoes are ripening.  We have also picked some green beans … not quite enough to make two servings yet, but we’re hopeful that today’s pickings will allow us to have green beans with dinner tonight.  We pulled our onions, and they’re drying in the basement.  I see some One Pot Wonder in our future – featuring tomatoes, onions and basil from our garden!  Thumbs up


Hope you all have a terrific Tuesday!


Sunday, July 20, 2014

Finally! Slow Stitching on the Chevron Quilt!

I didn’t think this day would ever come!  As I reported here, I got the chevron quilt completely basted, ready for hand quilting Thursday … and as soon as I got caught up on my blog reading Friday morning, I got to work.  The quilting is going fairly quickly and so far, without incident.
I had originally thought about stitching 3 rows through each chevron, but I prefer my quilts soft and cuddly, so I didn’t want to overstitch this quilt.  It looks a little puffy in the picture, but trust me, it all lays nice and smooth … I took this picture while quilting … so what wasn’t in the hoop is kind of bunched up on the sides. I plan to get in plenty of stitching this afternoon. I'm so excited to be able to link up at Kathy’s Slow Sunday Stitching.
Slow Sunday Stitching

I didn’t get in any stitching yesterday as it was the summer swim Conference Championship … the meet started at 8:15 and ended after 4:00 … a long day.  But it was a fantastic day … the weather was much more pleasant than last summer’s Championships, and the Ts all knocked time off their personal bests.  T#1 qualified for Conference All Stars … where the top 6 swimmers in each event will compete in two weeks.  They didn’t spend all their time in the pool … there was time for some fun between events.
photo (1)
T#1 (on the left) was playing Spades with his friend Ben, while T#2 (left) and T#4 (right) watched … and if you look carefully, you can see T#3 playing on his DS there in the very back. 

We gathered at DD’s after the meet for pizza and some games … but it was an early night as we were all tired (although once I crawled into bed, I was hit with a case of the “wide-awakes” Confused smile  and as is usually the case, I was awake at my usual 6:00 ... it's going to be another long day today).

Wishing you a very blessed Sunday!

Friday, July 18, 2014

Retreat Wrap-up and a Little More

I’m back from retreat, and boy, what a fantastic 4 days that was!  It may have been my first “real” retreat, but I certainly hope that it will not be my last!  (While I was at retreat, I checked with the shop owner on future retreats … alas the November retreat is sold out and the February retreat is scheduled for the weekend of T#1’s 13th birthday.)

Retreat was held at a bed and breakfast out in the middle of nowhere, in corn country here in Illinois … about 2 1/2 hours from my house.  Literally, we were surrounded by corn fields and wooded hills … talk about secluded.  It was perfect!  The main building is a totally rehabbed old 1860’s farmhouse.
photo 1 (1)   
I was one of the earlier arrivals and promptly set up my work station.
photo 1 (6)

It wasn’t long before I started piecing log cabin blocks.  If I recall correctly, I have 24 blocks completed and 18 blocks needing the last round of light fabric.
photo 3 (1)(Forgive the crease … this was taken yesterday when I was unpacking, before I re-pressed the blocks … I wasn’t able to get the colors just right while at retreat).

The main sewing room was large, with plenty of room for all 13 of us.
Desktop4And 13 was a nice sized group … just small enough that we got to know each other pretty well.

I wasn’t able to complete my quilt top (??) but many others did have completed projects (some of which were started prior to retreat).
photo 1 (3)This is Anita’s quilt … she had a pattern but chose a different alternating block (the star blocks were part of the original pattern).

photo 2 (4)This is Ann’s quilt … her granddaughter’s kindergarten class drew pictures of their favorite Bible stories using permanent markers, which Ann then made into a quilt that will be auctioned off as a fundraiser for their school.

photo 2 (5)Here is Jeanne’s four patch posey … it took her 4 retreats to complete it (she worked on it only during retreats).

photo 3 (2)This is Debbie’s quilt for a friend … she’s a beginner quilter, but she really nailed matching up the strips.

photo 4 (1)This is Pam’s quilt … it’s a work in progress.

photo (1)
photo 4Here are a couple of quilts that Anita finished up … I love the thick and thin log cabin!

There were plenty of other quilts that I wish I’d thought to take pictures of … like Ann’s tessellating chickens, Linda’s baby quilts (for her grand who’s due in September), Linda’s T-shirt quilt (another Linda), Mona’s four patch posey … and others.

And as if that weren’t enough, they fed us … and fed us WELL.  All I can say is that if I ate like that every day, I’d weigh double what I do now!  Surprised smile  Need proof?  Look at what we had for dessert Tuesday evening.  Homemade coconut cream pie!
photo 1 (4)

The only downside to the retreat was my broken heart Tuesday evening at missing the Ts’ final meet.  When I signed up to attend, the first thing I checked was that there would be no meets during retreat.  Who knew that they would reschedule one of the rained-out meets for that week?  DH made sure that they knew that Nana was sad that she wasn’t able to be there … but my heart certainly was heavy Tuesday evening!  (And if we’d been closer than 2 1/2 hours away, I would have definitely spent Tuesday evening watching them swim!)
photo (3)Two of my favorite guys … prior to the start of the meet.

One thing I learned while at retreat was just how much time I waste online.  Confused smile  I was up and sewing by 7:00AM and ended my day at 9:00-10:00PM.  Other than checking in with my dad, DD, and DH via email, I really didn’t spend any time online.  It made me realize how much I could get done at home if I just spent less time online and more time with needle and thread … while I don’t intend to totally eliminate my time online (particularly blogging!!), I certainly plan to cut back considerably. 

I had to admit that my plan was to get home, unpack and relax.  But I changed my mind and tackled the backing for DD’s chevron quilt.  And as has been par for the course for that quilt, I had to do a fair amount of frog stitching … I cut and stitched the extra length to the wrong side … so the backing was extra long and still not wide enough.  <sigh>  I unstitched and lengthened the extra backing and stitched it to the correct side … and got it all pinned!  Today I’ll start the quilting!! 
photo (2)This was taken prior to pinning.

The gorgeous late-spring weather we’ve been enjoying is drawing to a close … it’ll be back into the 90’s by the first of next week. 

Now to get caught up (a little) online … and then time to get out my hoop and start quilting!!

Have a fabulous Friday!

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Catching Up … Going Off Grid

I can’t remember the last time I posted … Wednesday’s Hodgepodge, I guess.  Before that?  I’d have to go check my blog to see.  And unfortunately it’s not going to be getting any better for the next week. 

So let’s get caught up a little before I disappear again.

I spent Thursday at DD’s … the last swim meet of the season is next Tuesday, so the practices have been pretty intense this past week.  On top of that, both meets this past week were out of town, making for some late nights.  So DD asked if I could come over to let T#4 sleep in … she didn’t have to twist my arm.  Winking smile  I just stuck around until time to head out for the meet that evening.  As you can see, T#4 was able to entertain herself while Papa and I watched the swimmers compete.DSC00098

Friday was another day spent at DD’s.  After the late night Thursday, it was good to let T#4 sleep in again … and we all had game time after the rest of the crew got home from practice that morning.  Needless to say, by the time I got home that evening, I was exhausted … too exhausted to remember to check out the Super Moon.  And I had SO wanted to see it!  We saw a Super Moon when we were in Hilton Head two years ago ... just LOVED seeing it come up out of the ocean.

It was another early morning Saturday for the penultimate meet of the summer swim season.  T#1 swam with the 13-14 year old boys on the 100m free … and won his event, improving his previous best time. 

We took a walkabout the yard when we got home from the meet … we have two zucchini plants, and one is beginning to get pretty puny.  Of course, it’s the one that’s been producing zucchinis … the other plant appears to be remaining healthy … if it doesn’t start producing soon, we’ll have to rely on the farmers’ market for our fresh zucchini.  Sad smileDSC00102
At least our tomatoes are healthy, and a couple of our plants are producing enough tomatoes for the entire subdivision!  Surprised smileDSC00104

We discovered evidence of moles, too, while walking around the yard.  That’s going through my landscaping bed!  If the moles keep moving the same direction, they’ll be in the middle of our roses.  Surprised smileDSC00106

After our walkabout, I started packing for retreat.  I had to go get out our larger suitcase to hold all the fabric I have kitted up and ready to go!  Surprised smile  I’ll be surprised if I work on anything other than T#1’s log cabin, but I’ll be prepared in case I change my mind/get bored.  ha!  I’ll finish packing this morning with what I’ll need for myself after I finish getting ready for the day.  I’m excited … this is my first “real” (overnight) retreat … it’s being held at a B&B pretty much out in the middle of nowhere, about 2 1/2 hours from my house, so I’m hoping I’ve remembered everything.  Fingers crossed

Hoping you all are having a wonderful weekend!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Wednesday Hodgepodge

I wasn’t sure if I’d be participating in this week’s Hodgepodge … with a late night swim meet last night and an early morning swim practice today, we were going to bring T#4 home with us so she could sleep in this morning … but about midway through the meet, it was obvious that we were dealing with a sick little girl … she was lethargic, running a fever, and congested with a runny nose.  So Mama and the Ts are skipping practice to stay home … which means Nana is free to Hodgepodge.

1. July is National Anti-Boredom Month. When was the last time you were bored? What's your go-to cure for boredom?
I don’t often find myself bored, but if/when I do, I will work on my hexagon project, if I have it with me or read.

2. What's the last thing you made a reservation for?
A hotel … for our trip to Hilton Head in September.  We’ll be stopping in Newport, TN  … about halfway between Knoxville, TN and Asheville, NC.  Usually we try to make it further, but we’ll be getting a later start than usual this trip.

3. What's one thing on your summer 'bucket list'? Any plans to make it happen?
I don’t make a summer “bucket list”.  Here at Chez Nana, the only difference between summer and any other season is that it’s hot.  When you’re retired, every day is summer break.  Winking smile   

4. What's your favorite summertime sip?
I drink the same thing in the summer that I drink in the winter, spring and fall. 

5. What do you find is the best way to handle another person's hostility and hopefully ease the tension?
When facing a situation like that, I try to lighten the situation with a kind word or a bit of humor … if that doesn’t help, I remove myself from the situation if possible … the last thing I want to do is to engage.

6. Your favorite film set in summer?
I have to admit that I’m drawing a blank here.

7. What word are you using too much lately?
Probably “whatever”.  Not in the disrespectful way that some say it (“whatEVer” in that tone of voice) … I find myself using it in lieu of “ok”.  Another couple of words that I struggle with, especially here, are “so” and “then”.

8. Insert your own random thought here.
I’ve got a couple of random thoughts today. 

#1 – I heard back from Moda (the manufacturer of the backing fabric that I had the shrinkage issue that I wrote about here).  Basically their response was “sorry for the inconvenience” … they included some rather convoluted text about lab tests for shrinkage and a 4% rate for warp and 6% for weft, with note to get to 5% or less.  Considering that my shrinkage was almost double what they seem to indicate would be acceptable, I was really expecting something other than a simple “sorry for the inconvenience”.  Sad smile  I’m seriously considering responding to that, letting them know that I found their response to be totally unacceptable … but I’m waiting a bit so my response will be civil and respectful.

#2 – I captured this sweet moment at the swim meet last night where T#4 was cheering on her big brother (in the green and black cap) on his 100 IM.  Red heart Red heart Red heart
photo (2)

Have a wonderful Wednesday, y’all!

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Unplanned Slow Sunday Stitching

I’m still working on that chevron quilt … do you want to know what happened NOW?  Too bad, I’m going to tell you anyway.  I finished up the borders, clipped any straggler threads, pressed the backing and the top, unrolled the batting … and laid it all out on the two folding tables crammed together for basting.  Only to discover (after multiple, multiple attempts to get everything lined up) that the backing fabric was only 98” wide!  Surprised smile 

When DD and I were looking at fabrics for her chevron quilt, I ordered swatch cards of both Bella solids and Kona solids.  I was ecstatic to see on the Bella card that they carried 108” wide backing fabrics … while their gray was a little lighter than we wanted, it would work.  So I found some online and ordered it.  When it was delivered, I prewashed it and set it aside while I was piecing (and unstitching and repiecing) the top.  Their swatch card, their website and the retailer from whom I purchased the fabric all indicated that the fabric was 108” wide.  Bella 108 gray

When I discovered that the fabric wasn’t wide enough, I measured it … 98”.  That’s almost a 10% shrinkage rate … way, way more than what would be considered normal.  This is Moda fabric … a reputable manufacturer … I purchased this from a well-known online fabric store … it’s not like I bought junk fabric.  To say that I was frustrated would be an understatement!  Baring teeth smile  Even 12 hours later, I’m still upset. 

I’ve ordered replacement fabric (I checked with DD … she’d prefer not to have a hodgepodgy backing, so using some of the quilt fabric to make a pieced backing isn’t an option).  I thought about purchasing a nice gray print (she loves quatrefoil) for a pieced backing, but given the size of this quilt, I’d have to order 10 1/2 yards – too pricey.  Since I couldn’t find any backing fabrics in a gray print that would fit with the modern look, I’m “stuck” ordering more of the Bella …. and since I want to make sure that all the backing is the same color, I’m replacing rather than supplementing.  And since I have to assume a 10% shrinkage rate, I’m ordering plenty.  (I will set aside what I have now and use it on a future quilt, so it won’t go to waste.)

I did contact the online shop where I purchased the fabric … they were surprised to hear of that much shrinkage and were passing along my experience to Moda.  They also gave me a small store credit … even though I told them that they weren’t responsible for this situation.  I certainly hope Moda does something to make this right. 

I tell you … this quilt has been nothing but trouble!  I’m determined not to let it get the best of me, but truth be told, I’m beginning to wonder!  Surprised smile

Instead of hand quilting for my Slow Sunday Stitching, I’m working on my Martha Washington’s Flower Garden.  I hope to get caught up online this morning so I can get out and do some stitching out on the deck before it gets too hot this afternoon.  I’ll be linking up to Kathy’s Slow Sunday Stitching and to a Quilted Reader’s Garden Hexie Weekend

I have a favor to ask from you quilters.  I need some help designing some storage for my fabric and supplies.  I don’t have a dedicated sewing room … I have a portion of a smallish guest bedroom.  I am able to make the sewing space work just fine (it helps that since I hand quilt, the majority of my quilty time is spent in the living room), but I have absolutely no room for storage.  It occurred to me that I have the good-sized closet in that room available to me.  I do store the Ts’ toys in there, but they’re all on the floor … I have several feet of wall space available.  I’d like to have a closet system installed for storing my stash and sewing/quilting supplies.  Obviously I can’t hire an installer until I have an idea of what I need (shelves? cubes? sizes?).  I don’t need anything fancy looking … it’s all going to be behind the closet doors (not to mention I’d rather spend the money on more fabric than on a fancy-dancy storage system).  So any advice would be greatly appreciated!

Next week at this time, I’ll be loading up my van with all that I need for retreat.  I’m looking forward to finally getting to a “real” retreat.  The only downside is that the Ts’ swim team rescheduled one of the rained out meets for that Tuesday evening.  I signed up for the retreat knowing that I wouldn’t have any conflicts (like swim meets) … I had to pass on an earlier retreat because it conflicted with one of the Ts’ birthdays.  I’m so disappointed that I’ll be missing one of their meets!  If the retreat was closer to home (it’s being held in a B&B 2-1/2 hours away), I’d have to give serious consideration to leaving the retreat long enough to attend the meet!  Winking smile 

And speaking of retreats, I’m signing up for the retreat that my guild is offering in September.  It’ll be held the weekend after DD’s birthday and before we leave for Hilton Head … busy times!  September is going to be chock full of my favorite things:  family, quilting and the beach!  Woo hoo!  Is it any wonder I can NOT wait for September to get here?  Winking smile  The only thing better would be to combine the three!

Hope you all have a blessed Sunday!