Saturday, February 28, 2009

Am I Anal or What?

I have had this 'Quilts From the Heart' kit for several months. There is nothing difficult about it. In fact the pieces for the top were meant to be put together in one large block. Very simple. So why couldn't I just pick it up and finish it?
Okay. Here is where the 'anal' part comes in. The focus fabric had a school theme. There were pencils, and crayons, books and slates, other related school items and a couple of test sheets. And that is where my problem started. One of the test sheets had received an A+. There were no mistakes on it. Or were there? Take a look. Since when does 4 x 4 = 8?

I know it's not a big deal, but I just wasn't able to put the quilt together with this mistake in it. I imagined some poor, unsuspecting child sleeping under it, all the while learning the multiplications facts incorrectly! I was laughed at when I told anyone about my little neurosis! "No one else will ever notice it", I was told. "Just put the darn quilt together and get it done."

So a couple of days ago that is exactly what I did. I tried not to think about the mistakes. I tried to focus on the task. I tried to enjoy myself. But the only one enjoying the fruits of my labour was Mimi!

She slept on it at every stage. I just couldn't keep her off it. She helped me sandwich it and she tested it out to make sure it was okay.

"Meow! Just putting the love in. Meow!"
Yeah! I know your are!!!

So the quilt passed the Mimi test! And I finally figured out how to satisfy my own obsession. I put a little red line under each 8 on the test papers in the fabric. Just a little red line to say that the answer is not correct.

I guess it is the teacher in me - although I never marked a student's math paper with a red marker! The kids in our class had enough problems with self esteem! They didn't need to be reminded about their errors! I used to put a little 'dot', in pencil, under the wrong answer. Then the student could fix it and I could eventually mark it and no one ever needed to know how many tries it took to get the correct answer. I never liked finding mistakes.

Since it is the last day of February, this quilt counts towards my finishes for this month! Yippee! My 'Math Problems' charity quilt is done! I completed three items this month!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Down Under

Remember that workshop I took last November with Australian fibre artist, lecturer and instructor, Gloria Loughman? Well, I finally finished the wall hanging she taught us that day at the workshop. The technique was called 'Layer by Layer'. Each section was done using a different technique. Some of it was fused, some was appliqued and some was pieced. Once the sections were completed they were joined together. The whole thing was then sandwiched and quilted. I used invisible thread for the quilting. If my wall hanging looks very similar to Gloria's it's because I used one of her patterns. She had several of them for sale on the day of the workshop. I only bought one, so from here on in I am going to have to create my own landscapes. And I am looking forward to doing just that. I call this piece, "Down Under". It measures 17in. X 25in. (44cm X 63cm).

The felines were noisy today. There was a lot of activity in the solarium - a great deal of running around, jumping on things and, for lack of a better term, play fighting. But each time I went to see what was going on, I was met with these rather vacant, guilty stares.

It was warmer today. And the sun was shining. Perhaps winter is on its way out and my furry family was just suffering from a case of spring fever.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Morning Star 2

This is block #8 (My goodness! Has it been 8 weeks already?) in the Friday Block Party. (see sidebar) It is called Morning Star 2. It's a nice block, fairly easy and it looks good. The pattern was for a 12 inch block (finished). I started this block on Saturday, but put it away almost immediately. I don't know where my mind was as I was cutting the fabric, because I cut the triangles (the green/turquoise ones) for the hourglass blocks a quarter of an inch too small. Guess I had too much on my mind. I didn't have time for it all weekend, but this morning I took another look at the block and decided it was too easy for me to give up on. So I completed it using some bigger triangles. I think it turned out great!
Perhaps I was confused with the '2' part of this block's name. Maybe I thought it meant that I had to make 2 blocks, because with the too-small pieces I made another block - a 9 inch one this time. I used some softer baby colours, since the 9-inch blocks from this block party will be used for a baby quilt. I just made all of the nine sections of this block 3 1/2in. unfinished. It turned out good too, I think.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Some of My Winnings!

I entered a few give-aways a couple of months ago. And I won some really neat stuff! The first package came from Barb at Ruminations and Reflections. She had a give away to celebrate her first blog anniversary. Barb included a lovely star ornament, which had some of those sparkly little gems glued to it, a Christmas ornament, some little notepads, Valentine heart candies (yummy) and a set of very useful coasters. They are done in cherry fabrics and I love anything cherry! Thank you Barb! This was a very nice present to get in the middle of winter, especially when it arrived on a very dark, dull, rainy day when I was feeling depressed and fed-up with winter!

My next gift was this wonderful set of little earrings. They are from Red Dirt Woman. Check out her blog. She is a hoot! She makes these earrings herself using little heart-shaped glass beads! I am impressed! They are so cute! Thank you Red Dirt Woman. I will wear them with pride.
And lastly, although I didn't win this, it makes me feel like a winner! I finished the first block in the Baltimore Bliss BOM. (see side bar) I love this block! It was fun to make - relaxing and very rewarding! I can hardly wait for next month's block!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Block of the Month Mania

I have been infected by the Block of the Month bug! I can't help myself. I see these blocks on other people's blogs and I fall in love with them. And, after all, it is only one block a month. How much work can that be? But multiply that BOM by four or five others and you have a lot of work. It is only February and I can't do much outside right now, but what will happen when the weather is nice and my garden starts calling me? Maybe I will have to revise my schedule. Here is what I have done so far.

This is the second block in the bunny hill "A Tisket, A Tasket, Twelve Months of Baskets" BOM. The first one was the snowman block I posted last month. They are cute, easy and they only take an evening or so to complete. I think I will continue to do them. A little applique, a little stitching - those are exactly the things I like to do.

Then there is the Willowberry Designs "Verandah Views" BOM. I wasn't sure about doing this one at first, but I kind of like the simplicity of these little stitcheries. They also take only an evening or so to do. I think I will stick with this one too. I can always sit outside in the summer months and stitch these.

Then one day I saw this applique BOM and BOOM, I was hooked! It is Fat Cat's "Baltimore Bliss" BOM. I really like applique. I've probably told you that before. This block is not the easiest, but then, I like a bit of a challenge every once in awhile. I haven't completely finished this first block yet. It only started this month, so I am not behind. So far it has taken me several evenings. But I think I will get it done tonight. Here is a shot of part of it. I think it will be a lovely quilt when it is done!

And if that wasn't enough, there is the paper pieced "Geese in the Forest" BOM. I like paper piecing and this looked easy. I thought of doing it for the Black and White Challenge. (like in black and white with a lime green or something) I saw a couple of the blocks last night on A Latte Quilts. Paula inspired me, to say the least! So this morning I started one of the first blocks in this series. I don't know what it is about this block, but it isn't talking to me. Maybe it's the black and white when I have a very colourful block in my mind. Or perhaps it is because there is not enough contrast between the fabrics to set this block off. I have only made one block so far. There are six of these in the finished quilt. I think I still have to think about this one. I might do it in colour instead of black and white. A few paper pieced blocks a month can't take that much time. Can they?

So there they are! Four BOMs! And that does not include the weekly Block Party blocks. Or my UFO bin, full of things that beg to be finished! And the inspirations I see on other blogs every day! And when I think of it, I haven't knit or crocheted anything in a long time! OMG! I feel overwhelmed! Kind of like my Christmas cactus that is flowering right now. A sort of identity crisis! If this is Wednesday, it must be applique night. Hope I can stick with all of these!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

We Interrupt This Regularly Scheduled Program to Bring You an Important Message

"Meow! Look what Mom just put down on the floor!"

"It looks interesting. Meow! I wonder what it is."

It seems that everyone is doing something to help out the bushfire victims in Australia. It must be a terrible thing to lose your possessions, your home, family members and friends. I can't even begin to understand it all. So I decided to join the effort to make quilts. I am not quite sure how this will help, but it is the least I can do.

So I made these Quilt-As-You-Go blocks from this tutorial . They were very easy and used up some of my strips from my scrap bin. I will mail them out tomorrow.

I also made some of these Wonky Star blocks from this tutorial. Here is another tutorial on the same block. Wow! I loved making these. They are quick and easy and don't have to match up. This is quite different from the blocks of the week that I have been slaving over for the last while. Somehow, though, when I look at my blocks, they actually don't look all that wonky. Can it be that I can no longer make things that aren't perfectly lined up?
I made the green star first, the red star second and then I got adventurous with the third star. It was so much fun! I can seriously see myself making a whole quilt out of these babies! It's been great to do these blocks, but I must get back to my regular quilting. Therefore, I now return you to the regular program.

I finished the half-log cabin top. I played around with the layout and did a sort of original one that follows no rules. I don't know if I will put a border around it. I may just leave it as it is. I still have to quilt it, but that will have to wait a few weeks. I will need help to sandwich it and I am hoping that my DD will provide that. Maybe on her March Break, when she is not teaching.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

'My Lucky Stars' Block of the Week

This is the Block Party's block #7. (Go to Friday's Block Party on my side bar for more info.) This block is described as an 8 inch block. It has 69 pieces of fabric in it!

Is it me or is that just insane? I couldn't see myself making this block in an 8-inch size - too many seam allowances to try to iron down.

So I cheated!

I turned mine into a 12 inch block. It still has 69 pieces in it, but everything is 50% bigger. It still took me three hours to put together though. I think it turned out to be a very pretty block, but this week I will only make one of this pattern. I don't mind making the half square triangles, but the sew and flip pieces drive me crazy! I can never get them right. I used some more bright fabrics in keeping with the other 12in. blocks in my series.

Happy Valentine's Day Everyone!

I got these!
From my secret Valentine! (DH) Yellow tulips. My favourite spring flowers!

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Another Try - Paper Pieced This Time

I thought I would give this block another try - paper piecing it this time to see if I could get the points more pointy and exact. I love paper piecing, so I thought it would be easy. My first attempt at it yesterday did not work out very well. Because paper piecing is done on the wrong side of the block, I had to draw everything in a mirror image. I guess it was the confusion of a Saturday that prevented me from focusing all my attention on what I was doing. I could not get it to look like the original. I finally had to walk away from it.
But never to let a block get the better of me, I got up early this morning and drew up another one. I used graph paper. This time the block went together in less than an hour and a half! I was amazed. And it looks exactly like the original pattern. It is also exactly 12 1/2in. unfinished! Yippeee!!

I only wished I had used some nicer fabrics. Because I thought it would not work out, I used some left over 'train' fabric and some faded yellow that was never my favourite. I really love this block now. I think I will draw up another copy of the paper piecing, now that I know how it should look, so that I can keep it on file for future use. Yes, folks! I may make this one again sometime - in paper piecing!

Friday, February 06, 2009

Pssst! Keep an Eye Out for the Quilt Police!

I am about to reveal my latest Block Party block. This one is called "Patch as Patch Can". Well, maybe Patch can do this one, but I had a lot of trouble. After I had sewn the first quarter together, it didn't look at all like it was supposed to. I had the pieces all going the wrong way. I had to frog everything and start over. I laid the pieces out exactly as they were to go together and than it went a little better. My points are not the greatest, but if the quilt police doesn't see it, I think everything will be okay.
I have this theory about brain use. I think it is important to keep using that most important part of our neurological system. Things like playing bridge, doing math problems and crossword puzzles, and thinking about complicated patterns are good ways to keep the brain in top shape and maybe warding off the ravages of age-related ailments such as Alzheimer's and Dementia. This block is a perfect example. I think a block like this per day will keep Alzheimer's at bay! I'm just saying. Sorry, I have no research to back this up.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Distracted and Tagged

Perhaps I have ADD. I am very easily distracted. Like when I saw this little amigurumi penguin on the internet. I just had to make him. It is so cold that I figured he would feel right at home here. I had lots of other things to finish, but I couldn't help myself. I just had to make him. And then Eileen from Eileen's Attic tagged me! Well, what could I do but drop everything and get started on that?

It seems I have to tell you eight random facts about me. I think I have done something like this before. I'll try not to repeat myself. Anyone not interested can log out now. Don't say I didn't warn you.

1. I have been married for 42 years! Gosh, is it that long already? It doesn't seem like it.

2. I have a daughter who is 37 years old and a son who is 35.

3. I love gardening. Indoor and outdoor. I can hardly wait for spring to arrive. A couple of my orchids are in bloom right now. They stay inside, of course. It is too cold in our climate, but I still love to grow things.

4. I went back to university when my kids were in school full time. I was a stay-at-home mom until then. I endured York University long enough to earn a BA in psychology with a B+ average.

5. I spend twenty years working with mentally challenged children for the Toronto District School Board. The first 15 years were with kids aged 11 to 14. The last five were with kids aged 15 to 21. I loved my job. I was stressed to the max, but those were the best years of my life. Believe it! It's true. I took an early retirement about four years ago. because.........(see number 6)

6. I planned to do a lot of travelling in my retirement. But so far I have only been to the Caribbean a few times on cruises. I love going down there when it is cold here in Toronto. Unfortunately I was not able to go for the past few years because..........(see number 7)

7. I am recuperating from a rare auto-immune disorder at the moment. My body had destroyed all the nerves in my back and legs. It was horrible. I was not able to walk anymore. I had to depend on others for everything. I could not even use my sewing machine. I had to give up driving and just about every other thing in my life. Not fun! That was until last summer when I had a course of steroid treatment. That seems to have halted the disorder. I would not even have mentioned it, but it seems that I am getting better and that demands to be shouted about! I have been walking around the house, using only a cane. I can't do it for very long, but I am getting better every day. It's kind of like a small miracle! Or maybe a big miracle!

8. I believe in miracles! Is that okay for number 8, or should I come up with something else? I can't think of anything at the moment, Maybe I'll ask Mimi to help me.

Hey Mimi! What else can I tell people about myself?

"Did you tell them that you're easily distracted?"

Oh, yeah, but that wasn't part of my tag. Can't you think of anything else?

"Meow! Okay. You are easily distracted. You have forgotten to buy Fancy Feast for several weeks, you don't pet me enough and you pee in my drinking bowl!"

Okay Mimi, that's enough. No one wants to know any facts about your drinking habits! So there you have it. Eight random facts about me.

I guess I am now supposed to tag eight other people. I don't want anyone to feel as if they have to do this and I don't want anyone to feel left out, so I am going to leave it up to each of you, my fellow bloggers. Take the tag if you want it. Leave it if you don't.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

I Love My Post

Sometimes I wonder why I retired. I seem to have more to do now that I am supposed to be relaxing and enjoying life. My DH thinks that I now have two full time jobs - blogging and quilting. He might be right. Finding time to be creative and also time to read and keep up with all those blogs is not easy. Sometimes there just aren't enough hours in the day - or night.

Another thing I seem to have trouble with are the comments. I love comments. The more the better! But I also think that it is good blog etiquette to send replies to each commenter as long as each of them allows his/her email address to show. I often get replies on the comments I leave on other people's blogs and I enjoy that! Now the question I have is this: Is there an easy way to reply to the comments? A way of getting the comment to show up on the reply along with the title of the post and the blog that the comment was left on. Am I making sense? Is there a 'reply' button or something to click on? Don't forget, I am still somewhat computer illiterate, even though I am getting better. Any help would be appreciated.

I finally finished this week's Friday Block Party block. The pattern is called, "Wyoming Valley". You can find info on my sidebar. It is a 12in block. I am not sure what I will do with future 12in blocks, but I decided to go with a bright look. Someone on the Block Party blog made a comment that this block has 68 pieces in it. And she is right! It took me almost three hours to put this baby together. Needless to say I doubt if I will be making many more of these!
I put the block on the floor in order to get a photo and Felix came right over to look at it, but he didn't even touch it. He actually turned his back to it and 'hugged' his scratching post. I wondered if he liked it or not.
"Hey Felix. Don't you like my block?"
"Purrrrr, I love my post!"
"I know what you mean. I love posting too. This blogging thing is the best!"
"No, I mean, I love my scratching post!"

Monday, February 02, 2009

I Heart Scraps

I finished a second project for this year! And it's just in time for Valentine's Day! I call this one "I Heart Scraps" because I only used scraps to make the hearts and other blocks. It is my own design and measures about 32in. by 26in. I felt like doing some paper piecing a couple of weeks ago. When I looked through my paper pieced patterns I found lots of hearts, so I started making them. Putting the whole thing together was a bit of a challenge because all the hearts were different sizes. I added a few machine appliqued hearts and some blocks with words to fill up the spaces that were left over. This quilt will hang in my DD's vestibule for the month of February.