Sunday, August 31, 2008

Decisions, decisions.....

Precious little sewing has been done here lately. It's been a really rough week at work and I haven't been getting a lot of free time or sleep. We're hoping that will not be the case long.

Since work kept me at home, rather than at a cookout with my friends yesterday, I spent a little time in my sewing room. I embroidered a design for the center front of a tote bag I'm going to make from some charm squares, but I'm not sure I like the thread I used. I thought it might be too coral for the fabrics, but maybe not?

I know, not the greatest picture. There are bits of the green purple and blue in the thread.

I'm having a hard time deciding on which binding to use on this minkee/flannel blankie:

Pink? Yellow? Or option #3 - a lighter pink, which I don't currently have. Please vote for your choice, either in the comments or directly to me (connieb125 at yahoo dot com).

And finally, do these two fabrics go well enough together to put them on opposite sides of a receiving blanket?

I have enough of them to make 2-4 receiving blankets, depending on which way I decide to go. I suppose I could do one with the two of them together, one with the pink print on one side and solid pink on the other, and one with the yellow print on the front and green on the back, for a more gender-neutral version. I have some solid pink flannel, but I don't have any green. Unless I use fleece for the back of that one, to make it more like a quilt. I have a piece of bright green fleece in the stash. Hey, I kinda like that idea. It would get more stuff out of the stash, and I wouldn't have to buy anything else. Except some satin binding. But that's what 40% off coupons are for. And since I'm on my spending diet again...

The reason for my renewed spending diet: Max was supposed to get his teeth cleaned and probably one pulled last Friday, but they found a heart murmur during his pre-surgery exam. They ran a bunch of tests and after being on antibiotics for a week, the murmur is gone. We think his tooth was bothering him so much that that he wasn't drinking and got severely dehydrated. His gums look much better now, though he still needs to have that tooth pulled, along with maybe another one. Poor little guy. Also, one of his kidney numbers (creatinine) is up, which is an early sign of kidney problems. So we're going to switch him over to the prescription food that Emma is on to try to slow that down. They are littermates, so it's possible that there's some genetic predisposition to kidney problems. Emma's just went bad sooner. Cats sure are expensive. But how could I resist this little face???

"Mama loves me best -- I get tuna juice twice a day!"

[He doesn't know his antibiotics are in there. -Mama]

Enjoy the rest of the long holiday weekend, for those here in the USA. Not that anyone I know lives elsewhere, but you never know who might be reading this, right?

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

I scream, you scream

Doesn't this washcloth remind you of neapolitan ice cream?

It's Bernat Handicrafter in the Rosewood color. I hope it doesn't keep pooling like that. On the next row after this picture was taken, the "strawberry" color moved farther over into the "chocolate" area, so I think it'll be okay. Maybe it will give me a zig-zag like the blue/green/yellow one did. In keeping with the ice cream theme, I guess this one would be vanilla:

That's about all the progress that has been made, fiber-wise at my house. Saturday night I had to be at work at 6pm. I left Sunday morning around 6am. We had some patching to do that we expected to take about 5 hours, so the company footed the bill for this:

Rooms at the Renaissance so we could get some sack time while we waited. That was pretty cool. Not that we had much time to enjoy them. Oh, and our boss bought us dinner at Houlihan's. I had the veggie flatbread pizza -- yummy!!

The other night Emma decided to help me pick out some novelty fabric for a small project bag.

She's such a helpful girl! The pattern for the as-yet-unstarted bag is in Stitch 'n Bitch by Debbie Stoller, but I think I'm going to modify it a bit. For starters, I'm not going to put the S'nB patch on the front. I also think I'm going to make them (I plan to make at least a couple) smaller than the pattern, so they'll be a nice size for washcloth or sock projects. More on those later.

Tonight I'm going play with my lonely embroidery machine. I have three pillowcases to embroider for the local children's home. Tomorrow is a sit & stitch and the "pillowcase lady" is usuallythere. I thought I'd try being ahead of the curve this time around, instead of waiting till the last minute. What a novel concept. :) I also might try to embroider the center patch for the tote bag I plan to make out of the Quilt Diva charm pack I bought last month. We'll see how much I get done.

Finally, I leave you with this:

Doesn't that look like the hallway from a nightmare? The kind you run down and can never get to the end of it? I have a meeting every Wenesday afternoon in a room off that hallway. Freaks me out a little every time.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Nearly there....

Over the past few days, I've had lots of help with my pink minkee and flannel blankets. Max and Emma both tested and approved them:

Think good thoughts for Max on Friday. He's going to the V-E-T to have his teeth cleaned. He's a very sweet cat, but he has bad teeth. They had to pull one last year, and I noticed the other day that he appears to have a cavity in another one. Since they don't put fillings in cat teeth, I'm sure it will be gone when I pick him up. He'll get liquid antibiotics that are really, really nasty tasting. But the good news is if I measure the medicine and fill the syringe the rest of the way up with water from a can of tuna, he thinks he's getting a treat. :)

Here is a stack of six pink blankies, waiting for satin binding:

At least four of them will get some kind of pink binding. The top one will get purple and the one second from the bottom might get yellow.

These are piles of extra flannel:

There are at least 2 receiving blankets (top right) there, but I haven't decided if I'm going to make them the same on both sides, make them with one of those fabrics on each side, or buy even more flannel (!) to make them solid on one side and print on the other (for a total of 4 blankets) I could get some green for the one with the yellow background and make it a little more gender neutral. I probably have enough of the solid pink (bottom right) to make one with that. The piles on the left side have at least 3 quilt tops' worth in them, I think, maybe four.

But those will have to wait. I doubt I'll be doing much sewing over the weekend. I'm working Saturday evening through Sunday morning and probably shouldn't use sharp objects after that. :-) But I'm hoping to leave work early tomorrow so I can pick up Max and because I'll be working so much over the weekend. Depending on how the big guy is doing, I might set him up in the kitty hammock in the sewing room and work on some stuff when I get home for a while.

In addition to good thoughts for Max, one of the ladies in my Dear Jane group is have a PET scan tomorrow for a cyst/something on her lung. Linda needs good thoughts and prayers, too. Thanks!

Monday, August 18, 2008

All in a weekend's work

Here's the quilt top I finished on Friday, folded in quarters, underneath the back that I finished on Sunday:

It's for my guild's community service program. Each month one or two people make block kits and bring them to the guild meeting. Guild members take a kit, put together the block and bring it back, usually in the next month or two. The person who made the kits usually takes the completed blocks home and puts together the quilt top, at least. I normally just do that and let the committee choose a backing for it. This time the background fabric had been in my stash for a while and I had enough to make a backing, so I did. I also have just enough (I think) of the teal and purple fabrics to make binding for it. If not, I have a bit more of the background I can splice in, too.

The danger in passing out block kits is that not everyone's 1/4" seam is the same. Even though these were simple blocks, and I had them strip piece them, they weren't real consistent. Some of the seams I did are kind of skimpy, because of the size of the blocks. So I'll probably go ahead and assemble the quilt and use a zigzag stitch-in-the-ditch for the quilting, in hopes of holding it together. A lot of times the community service quilts get tied rather than quilted and that's just not going to cut it this time. I suppose I could have found the smallest block and trimmed them all to the same size, but I didn't and I'm not taking it apart now.

I finished the latest washcloth:

Yes, the picture is sideways, but for some reason I haven't figured out yet, Blogspot rotates pictures, even when they look right on my memory card, and I don't know how to rotate them once they've been uploaded. I usually rotate and re-rotate them on my computer then re-import them, but the Add Image button doesn't seem to want to work at the moment. We'll just have to live with it as it is, I guess.

This is all I got done on the pink minkee/flannel blankets over the weekend:

I didn't have as much of the minkee as I thought, so I'll only get 6 instead of 9. I don't know where I'll find homes for 6 of them, let alone 9, anyway. On the left is the stack of centers. On the right is the stack of flannel for about 4.5 blankets. I didn't have quite enough of the plaid, so I had to get some solid flannel to go with it. I'll cut that and start assembling them tomorrow. I have a decent sized piece of the yellow striped fabric leftover, along with some scraps that go with it, so I'll be using that to make some other quilt. Not sure what exactly. Probably a center rectangle with a piano-key border. There are scraps from the other fabrics above, too, so I might make a simple quilt or two out of those, like I did with the leftover blues.

In addition to all that, I have two 2.5-yard pieces of flannel that are the same print, but different colorways. I figure I'll use that to make 2 receiving blankets, but I haven't decided whether I'll make them the same on both sides or have one side with the yellow background and the other side with the pink.

Finally, here is Gossamer, the monster catfish, in his (her? no idea how to tell) freshly cleaned tank:

Gossamer is about 6" long, is at least 14 years old, and occasionally makes a croaking sound out of water. Okay, he only did that once -- very strange. I wonder if they call them catfish because of the whiskers, or because they lay around all the time? Maybe both. He and his two friends (some kind of tetras, no picture, since they move too fast) seem happy. I need to change the filter and add some more fish. It's a 26 gallon tank, and if there aren't enough fish in it, the food drops to the bottom and rots. Yes, I know I could put less food in, but then the two little fish would never find any of it. It's a delicate balance.....

Friday, August 15, 2008

The bad, the good, and the very odd

The Bad. This is all I got done at "Quilt Night" last night:

That's one minkee/flannel blanket's worth of 10" strips. Work got in the way. What should have taken an hour took more like three and a half. Grrr..... The chicken paprikash was AWESOME, though!

The Good. John brought these home from the store today:

No reason or occasion. Just because. :-)

The Very Odd. My friend K. at work found this blog yesterday. It's all about ugly/creepy/funny cakes that people paid money for. We amused ourselves for a little while in her office before the boss showed up. I think he was amused, too, though. I had seen this entry in an email a while back, but some of the bridal shower cakes are in truly poor taste. And the "watermelon" cakes? Since when do watermelons have limbs and eyes? And once they do, it's bad karma to show their insides. What on earth were they thinking?!?

I got the community service blocks for my guild assembled today, and I did some knitting. No pictures of those so far. Soon.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Screeching halt....

I was on a such a roll with those minkee/flannel blankets last week. I got all cocky and said I'd have all the pink ones done by Monday, not counting the satin binding, which I don't have yet. How many do I have done, now that it's Thursday? Zero. I don't even have any of the fabric cut yet. It *is* all washed at least. I plan to do some cutting at my friend's house tonight.

My reasons for not getting anything done on the baby blankets are flimsy, at best. I had to work Friday night and Saturday till early afternoon. I didn't sleep well in between, since I was worrying about the upgrades. When I got home from work, was tired and wanted to take a nap, but I kept getting phone calls and emails. After that, I was just plain lazy. I watched some Netflix movies ("Emma" with Gwyneth Paltrow, which was good, and "Where the Heart Is," with Natalie Portman, which was okay), and then watched "Serendipity" on Bravo. Um, twice. Lazy, I tell you.

Sunday I had planned to go to the grocery store then go straight to the sewing room. But I got up a little late, made breakfast, cleaned up the kitchen, read the paper, watched something unmemorable on TV, visited my friend was in the hospital, and went to the grocery store. By the time I got home, John was on his way over, after his team made it to the next-t0-last round in the pool tournament. Since I hadn't seen him much all weekend, it didn't seem right to hang out with my sewing machine once he came over.

Monday I got some sewing done on other things. I sewed together the scrapbook cover I found under the pile in my sewing room:

I measured it when it was done and I don't think it will fit any ready-made scrap book. Maybe I'll find someone who is willing to use it for custom-sized pages or something. Any takers? Sarah?

I put together this receiving blanket from fabric in my stash:

It's a little wonky, because the flannel was cheap and not printed very straight. But it's Done, and someone will appreciate it, I'm sure.

I also finished the blocks from the kits for my guild that were supposed to be done last month. Then I pressed and pinned the blocks from the kits I sent out back in March, but I didn't take pictures of those. I'll post a picture when I finish the top and/or quilt.

Last night I managed to download some free fonts that I'm going to convert to embroidery fonts, but didn't get so far as importing them to the embroidery software. I also burned some CDs so I can listen to "Odd Hours", by Dean Koontz in my car. It bugs me that I can't load Audible files to my Sansa mp3 player, but I don't have a jack in my car stereo for it anyway. I love the Odd Thomas series, btw. He sees dead people. :-)

I have one last picture. Remember that fire right before the 4th of July near my house? They had that intersection closed for a while after the fire, but I drove by there the other day and this is what the building looks like now:

I guess they have to figure out how to clean it up, since there's asbestos in there. Nice, huh?

I'm off work tomorrow, so hopefully I'll get some sewing done, when I'm not cleaning that darned aquarium. Did you know that certain species of catfish can live up to 30 years?!? My chocolate catfish, Gossamer, is at least 15 -- he came with the tank, which I've had almost 14 years now. Maybe I'll take a picture of him once his home is clean. We can't let the cats have all the publicity, after all. I'll take pictures of the birds sometime, too. They live at John's house - Doc is a Cockatiel, and Solomon is a Congo African Grey parrot. That means he has a black beak and bright red tail feathers. The Timneh African Greys have lighter beaks and darker tail feathers. See? You learned something today. :-)

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Done, done and done!

Blue, green and yellow washcloth - Done!

I'm diggin' the zigzag pattern in there. Totally unintentional - just what the yarn did.

The last blue minkee and flannel blanket - Done!

[This one has fraternal, not identical sides]

Flannel and fleece baby blanket made from the scraps of the minkee/flannel blankets - Done!

Here are a few pictures of the process of the last one. I layered the flannel top on a piece of waffle fleece (sadly no longer carried at JoAnn's) from the stash and quilted diagonal lines through the squares.

I folded the satin binding I had in half twice, laid it down on the top and realized I had enough to make the quilt a tiny bit bigger. Not enough to add a border, so I just trimmed the fleece about 1.5" bigger all the way around and put the binding on.

It doesn't get much closer than that!!

Have I mentioned I have helpers in the sewing room?

Before this picture was taken, while I was trying to quilt the thing, he was under it pawing at me through the layers. All items from my sewing room are cat tested and approved. :-)

I also did some cleaning up in my sewing room. I can see most of the floor and cutting table now. In the process, I found:

- my missing quilting glove
- three block kits for my guild's community service committee
- the completed blocks from the kits I made for community service
- a small quilt top from a Pfaff embellishments demo/class I took last year that needs binding
- a scrapbook cover that I made in a free-motion quilting class/demo I took 2-3 years ago when Bernina released their stitch regulator.

The scrapbook cover was mostly assembled, but the lining fabric that came with it wasn't big enough. So I pulled a piece of fabric from the stash the correct size and layered it up. Tomorrow night (probably) I'll put some neutral thread in the machine and take care of those things, along with another receiving blanket (sans rick rack this time).

Tomorrow is also the day when the pink flannel I ordered from will arrive, so I'll wash that (along with some other flannel I bought and/or found in the stash) and start working on the pink minkee and flannel blankies. I'll get them assembled up to the point of the binding and wait for a sale and/or JoAnn's coupons to get the satin binding. I have enough to finish 2 of them, but I'll have to wait for the rest. I could use the double-fold cotton/poly quilt binding on some of them, but the cost would be about the same, and the satin feels so much better. A big part of the charm with these blankets (to me, anyway) is the contrast of textures. The poly/cotton binding just isn't as much fun. :-)

Till next time.....

Monday, August 4, 2008

Just a few pictures today

I was more productive than it looks over the weekend, really. On Saturday, I finished the blanket that I'd run out of satin binding for. Here it is, tucked into the entertainment center doors, since my designated quilt holder was out at the time:

This might be my favorite of all 4 minkee/flannel blankets. I really like the idea of having 3 different textures in one blanket. The recipients of the first minkee/flannel blanket (with all the little scraps), finally got it last week, and loved it. At least, that's what they told John. ;-)

This washcloth was 3 or 4 rows long on Friday. It now needs 5 rows of garter stitch then it will be done.

My mom plays cards once a month, rotating houses with her friends. Each hostess supplies gifts when it's her turn. Mom has some bath gift sets (soap, shower gel, lotion) for when she hosts in October. I offered to knit some washcloths to go with them. This one was already on the needles when I offered, so I decided to finish it, even though I was only 3 rows in. I'm not sure this color will "go" with any of the scents she has, but they're quick to knit, so if it doesn't, I'll just make more.

Things I worked on but haven't photographed yet:

- The last of the minkee/flannel blankets. This one used up a piece of flannel I had leftover after making some Super-Sized Nine Patch quilts a couple of years ago. I only had enough to make two 10" strips, so I put those strips on opposite edges on one side and used a couple of blue flannels for the rest. It needs to have the binding attached, but I have to change threads in the machine to do it, so I waited.

- Another baby quilt top. I had some of the alligator/golf print left, just enough for four 9.5" blocks. I added in some yellow and blue squares to make a roughly 36" quilt top. I'm going to layer that with a piece of waffle fleece from the stash, and use the leftover blue satin binding from the blanket above to finish that. I'll post pictures of that as I go.

- The binding on the pirate ship flannel/minkee blanket was really bugging me. The pre-packaged binding I used was a little discolored in some places. I'd given it a quick wash before I put it on, which helped some, but I could still see it in places. When I put it on the blanket, I stitched it down with a regular zigzag, and my machine kept skipping stitches. Also, I was a bit overzealous when I folded it over, so the "front" binding was noticeably narrower than the "back". Those of you who know me will *not* be surprised that I ripped it out and did it over. This time, I pinned it all the way around so that the widths are more even on both sides, and I used the 3-step zigzag stitch, which doesn't skip. Then I washed it. I didn't go over it too closely, but I didn't see any discolorations in the binding when I checked. Yay! Now I'll feel better about giving it away, whether to someone I know, Project Linus, or Community Service at my quilt guild. No pictures, because it looks pretty much the same as it did before, at least from photo distance. But I feel better about it now. :)

If anyone is counting, I now have 3 blue minkee/flannel blankets, and one pink receiving blanket ready for new babies. Also, there's a purple/green and peach baby quilt from a few months ago that doesn't have a home yet. Any takers?? :-)

Finally, a cat picture:

This is Runt (aka BabyRunt), enjoying the minkee blanket I made for the cats to lay on. She's the smallest of the cats, at 9 pounds, with a tiny little face and dainty little paws. She's tied for most timid with Ripley, but wins the crazy contest, hands down. John found her and Blue in his backyard and decided to keep them. Runt has apparently forgotten that he saved them, because she seems to be afraid of him. Maybe it's the deep voice or something. When I feed the cats, she runs right into her room with Blue. When John feeds them, she runs away. She'd better get used to him feeding her soon, or she's going to be one hungry kitty when I go to quilt camp next month! Crazy little thing.....