Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Monday’s Musings … on Tuesday?

I started this post Monday morning bright and early … but like Doug the dog, I suffer from ADOLAS (Attention Deficit … Oh Look A Squirrel!) and got sidetracked.  The next thing I knew, it was time to head up to DD’s to watch the Ts while DD had a followup with her doctor.  So, here it is Tuesday morning … better late than never, I guess.  Winking smile

I hope you all had a blessed Easter.  Ours was fabulous.  After church, we stopped by the house to change clothes, put together the salad and headed over to DSIL’s parents’ house for our Easter celebration.  First off, the kids hunted for eggs.  T#4 took her egg hunting pretty seriously … when her basket was full, she gathered up the skirt of her dress and tucked eggs into it!  There were 11 of us around the table … it was an enjoyable meal, with good friend and fellowship.  We headed back home early afternoon.  We watched the ball game while I stitched on my Martha Washington’s Flower Garden … I finished up a block and got a start on another.  We had dinner with DD and her family … it was so good to spend the evening with my favorite people.  Red heart

Speaking of my MWFG, I’m not growing weary of my hexies (my original plan was to make a wall hanging, but I love working with them so much that I’m just going to keep going until I’m tired of them), so I’ve cut a bunch of 2 1/2” squares for our trip.  And speaking of our trip, we’re now 3 weeks away!  Friday morning, DH and I were talking about our return trip back … the shortest route is through Atlanta, and DH just isn’t too keen on driving through Atlanta if we can avoid it.  I suggested that we drive back the same way we’ll come down, through Knoxville and Asheville.  Since we’ll be leaving too late to make it back home in one day, the fact that the northern route would add an hour to the drive was not an issue.  I lined up a couple of options for a hotel for that night … when we revisited the return trip yesterday afternoon, all the discounted (AAA and AARP) rates at the hotels we wanted to stay at were gone.  When we finally found a reasonable rate at an acceptable alternative, we booked it immediately.  We usually have a plan of where we’ll stop and what hotel we’ll stay in, but it’s just a plan … we rarely reserve a room.  But since our return is on a holiday weekend and it seems that available rooms at a respectable rate are getting snatched up, we decided to reserve our room now.

My neighbor Lois and I got out for our usual walk yesterday morning … she texted me before we left to see if we ought to go to the Y for our walk as it looked ominous.  I checked the forecast … no rain until 2PM.  So off we went … and of course, rain drops started falling about 2/3 of the way through our walk.  It was just sprinkling, but we didn’t want to risk getting caught in a downpour, so we headed back home.  Of course now the rain has stopped falling … we could have kept walking.  Oh well, a short walk is better than no walk.  And I actually got to work without my winter coat on!  Open-mouthed smile  Lois was unable to walk with me this morning, and I am going to take advantage of the break and get to work on piecing more of my Kiss blocks.

Speaking of my Kiss blocks, I surprised myself by getting 3 blocks pieced yesterday.  It was mid afternoon by the time I got home … I thought I’d start some blocks but would have to finish them today.  But I just made good progress and plugged along until the blocks were finished.  I’m hoping for more good progress today.  I’d really like to get these 42 blocks finished by the end of the week so I can start on DD’s herringbone quilt as promised.  I have 27 Kiss blocks completed, which means I have only 15 more to make … if I can average 3 blocks/day, I could get them done by Sunday.   

Have a terrific Tuesday!

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Short but Sweet

Well, I’m hoping you all will think it’s sweet.  Winking smile  I hadn’t planned on blogging until after Easter … but I just couldn’t stay away for a whole week! 

I’ve been busy, mostly tucked away in my sewing room (technically I don’t have a sewing room … I have a portion of the spare bedroom.  It’s a small room, with a daybed and a corner TV stand – for the grands.  I’ve got enough room for a 5 ft. folding table, a few tubs of fabric and a quarter of the closet).  I’ve been working on piecing my Kiss blocks … I’d promised DD that I’d start on her herringbone quilt, but I’d really like to get my Kiss blocks pieced first (I purchased yardage based on a best estimate … if I need more fabric, I’ll need to know sooner rather than later as some of the fabrics I’ve chosen are getting a little more difficult to find).  I finished up blocks #23-25 last night.  At this rate, it’s liable to take me another 10 days of dedicated time in the sewing room to get my blocks finished … I really thought I could get all the blocks pieced together and maybe even the top together in a week’s time (sure didn’t think that these blocks would take so long … after all, they’re just strips sewn together … but there are a lot of little pieces in these 16” blocks which take a good bit of time to stitch up).  I’m at the stage where I’m ready to be done with the piecing and to start on the fun part – the hand quilting.  But with only 25 of the 42 blocks done, my quilt is not ready to be done with the piecing.  Winking smile

Spring is back here in SW Illinois … we had temperatures in the upper 60’s yesterday, with 70’s forecast for today and tomorrow.  Red heart  I need to get out and spray a few weeds … we seem to be able to manage to control the dandelions in our lawn, but it’s a never-ending battle to keep them under control in the landscaping.  Ugh  At least I’ll be outside, enjoying the lovely weather.

Tomorrow we’ll be celebrating Easter with DD and her family, including her in-laws (who will be hosting our get-together).  While we’ll have a good time together with Easter eggs, gifts, ham, etc., we’ll be mindful of the true meaning of Easter. jesus_paid_in_fullWishing you all a very blessed Easter!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Tuesday Trivialities

The frequency of my bouts of insomnia seem to be increasing.  Sad smile  But at least last night’s bout had a few benefits:  I was able to finish up two more Kiss blocks and I was able to see the lunar eclipse.
Lunar Eclipse

I took my sewing machine to the repair shop yesterday morning … I was met by their resident machine repair person who told me that it would be 2 weeks before she’d be able to get to my machine as she was going to be on vacation for 2 weeks … thankfully she offered to take a quick look at my machine to see if she could find a quick and easy fix.  The only thing wrong that she could find was that my bobbin case was a bit loose, so she tightened it up.  I brought my machine back home, hoping that would be the cure. 

Sunday afternoon when I was growing increasingly frustrated with my Bernina’s bobbin stitch issues, I got out my old Janome and thought that perhaps I could switch machines.  Since I couldn’t find its bobbin case (??), I thought I’d go ahead and take it to be serviced as well … and get a replacement bobbin case (of course, we all know that once I’ve purchased a new bobbin case, the old one will turn up!). 

Unfortunately, the bobbin case fix didn’t solve the Bernina bobbin stitch issues … but I think I may have finally figured out what might be causing the problem.  I noticed yesterday afternoon that the broken stitches were where I had placed a pin.  I can’t remember if that was the case Saturday and Sunday, and yesterday afternoon there wasn’t a broken stitch at every pin.  But it occurred to me that if I can place the pin so it’s buried in the bottom piece of fabric, perhaps I can avoid the broken stitches … I know it’s not a permanent solution, but it would at least allow me to use my Bernina until the repair tech returns from vacation and will allow me to give her a clue on what is happening.  I stitched a couple of seams with the pin buried on the bottom with no breaking.  I plan to do a good bit of sewing today … we’ll see if my theory holds up. 

It was 30 degrees when I got up this morning … 30 degrees!  In the middle of April!  That’s just plain crazy! Surprised smile

I attended the guild meeting last night.  I think overall that this guild just might work.  I liked the idea of monthly challenges (especially the challenge for the April meeting where participants were given 2 color chips and a quilt block name … and were challenged to create the block using those two colors as the primary colors).  I also like the fact that they have two retreats/year and a biennial 3-day retreat where they bring in nationally-known quilters to present classes (so far Mickey Depre and Pat Speth are lined up for the 2015 Quilt-Away). 

Have a terrific Tuesday!

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Perseverance or Insanity?

I noticed at the end of the retreat on Friday that my machine was having bobbin stitch issues … again. <sigh>  When I was piecing my Storm at Sea, I encountered skipped stitches and rats nests … a lot of them.  When I finished the piecing, I took my machine in for servicing … but I hadn’t really used it until the retreat.  I looked at the bottom of the first seam I stitched … no skipped stitches, no rats nests … all was good … or so I thought.  Near the end of the retreat, I had to unstitch a seam (ugh!) and noticed a broken stitch on the bottom.photoSee it there just to the left of the pin?  So when I was stitching yesterday, I checked the bottoms of every seam I stitched … and sure enough, every so often there would be a broken stitch.  My manual recommended a new needle … I changed the needle.  No change.  I removed and reinserted the bobbin.  No change.  I was using a new brand of thread, so I swapped that out for another brand.  No change.  There appears to be no rhyme nor reason to the broken stitches … I can chain piece 60+ inches of stitching with no broken stitches, or I can chain piece 60+ inches and have 4 broken stitches.  There’s no discernible sound or sensation to indicate that a stitch has broken, so in order to do any stitching this weekend mean that I had to check the bottom of every. single. seam I stitched.  Confused smile  Was that perseverance or insanity? 

Finally I gave up and packed up my machine to take it to be serviced tomorrow.  I am hopeful that it will be done in 2-3 days like it was the last time I took it in for servicing because I would like to get all 42 blocks of my Kiss quilt finished and then get started on DD’s herringbone quilt. At least I have a total of 8 blocks finished … with 7 of 8 segments pieced together for a 9th block. 

At least I have my hexies to work on this evening … I’m just about done with the outer ring of block #24.  And while I’ve enjoyed seeing those 2 1/2” strips come together into blocks, there’s still something so relaxing, so enjoyable about working with a needle and thread in my hand … I’ll be linking up with Kathy’s Slow Sunday Stitching party.

Slow Sunday Stitching

I remarked yesterday about how our pear tree was about ready to bloom and that our cherry tree had just started to bloom … by late afternoon, I noticed that the cherry was in full bloom and our pear was close to being in full bloom.  It was amazing to see the change in just 8 hours! 

While getting caught up on my blog reading this morning, I found a link to a website that showed how many babies over the years were born with my name. 

Obviously Kathleen was still a pretty popular name in 1951, when I was born … which would explain why there were 3 Kathys in my high school graduating class.  Click here if you’d like to see where your name ranks. 

Hope you all had a blessed Sunday!

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Getting Caught Up

A lot has happened this week … with not much time to blog about most of it.  Which means that it’s time to get caught back up.

I attended a Mastering the Art of Precision Machine Piecing class at The Quilted Fox over in St. Louis Sunday afternoon.  I picked up a lot of pointers that seem to help … and even after having sewn for 50+ years, my piecing accuracy needed help. 

My sister came down Monday to watch the Cardinals home opener.  Here in Cardinal Nation, that’s a pretty big deal.  To celebrate the occasion, DH and I stopped at The Cup to pick up a couple of cupcakes.  The Cardinals won, so it was a good day.  photo (4)
While we were out at my Dad’s, he gave me a quilt of my Mom’s.  It had been one she’d been using when she passed, so it’s especially precious to me (you might get a better look at it if you click on the picture below).  This is one that will probably not be an everyday quilt … I’d like this to become a family heirloom.photo (3)

Wednesday I took a freezer paper applique class over in St. Louis.  It was a small class … just another classmate and myself.  I love the technique and am definitely going to make an applique project soon!  Here’s my little classroom project.photo (1)

For the first time in weeks, I didn’t have something to do or somewhere to go on Thursday.  I have to admit that I just took it easy.  I packed for my one-day retreat, did a little stitching, and just took it easy.  It was a delightful day so we had the doors open … perfect for a lazy day.

I attended the “I Like to Sleep in My Own Bed” retreat hosted by The Quilted Garden Friday.  I attended last fall’s retreat and met a swim mom … who invited me to join her and her quilty friends for breakfast at St. Louis Bread Co. (aka Panera Bread) – their tradition before heading to the retreat.  At the retreat, I shared a table with a couple of her friends … very sweet women that made an enjoyable day even more pleasurable.  After we packed up and headed out last night, my new quilty friends and I headed over to The Cup for a post-retreat cupcake.  They’ve invited me to check out their guild on Monday … it meets in a town about 30 minutes from here, but I’ve been looking so long for a guild that I’m willing to drive a little ways.  Here are some pictures our hostess shared on Facebook (I was too busy sewing to take any pictures).Retreat 1Retreat

My retreat plan was to piece together the top for our bed.  I left the instructions for the block at home … thankfully it was a pattern I found online (and even more thankfully, I remembered WHERE I found it Confused smile), so I was able to use my iPhone to open the pattern.  Thank goodness for technology!  It is a simple top, and I had already cut my fabric into the 2 1/2” strips.  But it took me a couple of blocks to get into a groove and figure out that the 16” block is constructed of 4 equal 8” mini-blocks.  I was able to piece together several little mini-blocks that are all ready to be sewn into 16” blocks by the time the retreat drew to a close.  I’m going to spend this weekend working on the top … I’d like to get it pieced so I can start on DD’s herringbone quilt next week.  I need to make a total of 42 blocks for the quilt.  photo 4
The blue is nowhere that vivid (yikes! Surprised smile) … it’s definitely a subdued navy blue and the gold isn’t nearly as washed out (they’re Kansas Troubles fabrics after all).  I’m please with how it’s coming together.  My piecing still isn’t 100%, but it’s much improved … and it seemed to improve as the day went on. 

DH and I took a bit of a walkabout around the yard this morning … more of my hostas are coming up, our pear tree is about ready to start blooming, and our cherry tree has started blooming.  While my butterfly bush, hydrangea and azaleas aren’t looking very promising, we ARE seeing signs of spring here at Chez Nana!photo 1 (3)photo 2 (3)Look at that gorgeous blue sky! 

Have a marvelous weekend!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Wednesday Hodgepodge

1. April showers bring May flowers, or so the saying goes. When did you last 'shower' attention on someone or have attention 'showered' on you? Did you love it, or did all that attention make you squirm?
I suppose you could say that I “showered” attention on DD last week when she was so sick. 

2. Share a favorite 'spring break' memory. Not talking about just the 'college spring break' thing, but any favorite spring break memory you'd like to share. Keep it family friendly please!
Up until last year, DH and I would head to Florida each March for some spring training/spring break.  We’d take in a game or two and see the sights.  I think my favorite memory was seeing a manatee.  Every spring I’d hope to see a manatee, and I saw one when we visited the Everglades! 

3. It's National Pecan Month...are you a fan? If so, what's your favorite dish that calls for pecans?
I love pecans … I’m always disappointed if cookies don’t have some pecans.  My favorite dish?  Apple crumb pie. 

4.  'Put all your eggs in one basket', 'egg on your face', 'rotten egg', 'walk on eggshells', or 'a good egg'...which egg-spression could most recently be applied to your own life?
I’m  not sure which one would be applied to my life lately … maybe a “good egg” as DH has been patient and understanding of the long days at DD’s and my exhaustion when I’ve come home … he’s willingly picked up a lot of the slack here.

5.  In my experience___________________________________.
Worry accomplishes nothing.
6. What's a  favorite song with the word rain in its title or lyrics?

Let It Rain

7. What does the word hope mean to you?
To me, hope is not just wishful thinking … it’s an assurance that regardless of what happens here on this earth, God is in control.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”  

8.  Insert your own random thought here.

There are more signs of spring … trees are starting to get some buds, grass is greening up, spring flowers are starting to bloom … I do believe spring has finally sprung here in southwestern Illinois! 

Have a wonderful Wednesday!

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Short … and Sweet?

Ok, it will be short … just don’t know about sweet.  ha!

After much drama and trauma, DD got in to see a doctor Friday afternoon … and it turns out that it seems that this doctor might be a good fit for her.  She’s got some serious medicines … and an assurance that she should be feeling better by Monday, which gives her (and her mama) some hope.  I talked to her briefly yesterday, and she was feeling a little better … but it hadn’t been 24 hours yet, so I didn’t have huge expectations.  I’m praying that this medicine will help because this has been going on for so long that I fear that the next step will be hospitalization (the doctor she saw Friday mentioned that she really was at that point but wanted to try to avoid that). 

Yesterday I started on some long overdue thorough housecleaning.  I confess that while DD was working, much of my housecleaning took the back burner … and then this week I spent most all day at DD’s, so I was definitely too exhausted by the time I got home to even think about doing any kind of cleaning.  Of course, part of my motivation is the fact that we’re going to have some company the first part of this coming week… my sister and her S.O. are going to come down to watch the Cardinals’ home opener tomorrow (at least that’s the plan … with rain in the forecast, there may not be any Opening Day festivities or game). 

After cleaning, I spent my afternoon cutting strips for the quilt I’m going to start piecing at my All-Day Mini Retreat this coming Friday.  This was the first time I used my new GO to cut fabric to make a quilt (I took it on a test run not long after I got it, but that was just practice).  There was a bit of a learning curve to getting good cuts on the straight of grain, and I still have a lot to learn … but I’m pleased overall with it.  Cutting is my least favorite part of quilting, and I was never as accurate as I could/should have been (maybe because I was in too big a hurry to get it over and done with?). 

The same could be said, I suspect, about my piecing, since it was one of my favorite parts of quilting … which is why I’m taking a Mastering the Art of Precision Machine Piecing class this afternoon.  Winking smile

I did manage to get in some time with my needle and thread last night … I am a little over halfway through the piecing of block #23 of my Martha Washington’s Flower Garden.  I hope to be able to do a little more stitching this evening … maybe get that block finished? 

Have a blessed Sunday!