Saturday, December 26, 2009

The Day After

I hope everyone had a happy Christmas. We did; quiet and a little unusual, but very pleasant. We slept late, had a good brunch, and then went to the noon showing of Invictus. I'd highly recommend this feel-good movie. We came home, opened the few presents, had dinner, and relaxed. Great! Monday my husband and I are off for five days in New York City, and I can't wait. This is our gift, and a good one it is!

Today and tomorrow I hope to make progress on the alternate blocks for the basket quilt. My current plan is shown above. I took Nellie's advice and put the border fabric in the center. Instead of a march of dark blue squares throughout the quilt, this arrangement gives a bracket of blue around the baskets. It also pulls the border fabric into the center of the quilt, which I think is an improvement. I will need to draft the pieced setting triangles so there are no bias edges, but I don't think that should be hard. That won't happen until after the new year however.

Monday, December 21, 2009

A Poem for the Winter Solstice

I Heard a Bird Sing

I heard a bird sing
In the dark of December.
A magical thing
And sweet to remember.

'We are nearer to Spring
Than we were in September,"
I heard a bird sing
In the dark of December.

Oliver Herford

Sunday, December 20, 2009

A Wonderful Postcard

This card came yesterday from Sharon in Australia. I hope if you click on it you can see all the wonderful detail she's created with fabric, paint, and hand embroidery. Santa is having some needed after-Christmas R&R in sunny Australia. I'm sure many of us here in the East and Midwest would be happy to join him.

Thank you so much, Sharon!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

I Admit This is a Snarky Remark...

I just learned from the new issue of American Quilter that some quilters, (Karen McTavish is the best known) have been tattooed with quilting designs, feathers, patchwork, etc. Did you know that? Do you care? I have nothing against tattoos, but that's not why I bought the magazine. Now I'm wondering why I did buy it.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Christmas Quilts

I don't do much decorating, just the tree, some real greenery, and the Christmas quilts. I have two. The first one is an Alex Anderson design, very scrappy. I've actually made three versions of this quilt: one I sold, one I gave to my sister, and this one I kept. It was a futile attempt to use up scraps. As you can see, Florabelle gives it the seal of approval.

The second one is also scrappy, although less so. It's an early quilt. Unfortunately I don't have a label, but it must have been about 2000. My husband gave me Quilt-Pro for Macs for Christmas, and I used it to design this quilt. It was fun to play with the alternate blocks and create a path of color across the quilt, seeming to extend the star lines. I also tried for transparency with the red and gold, not totally successful, but not bad. I still like this quilt, although the quilting in particular leaves much to be desired. I stitched in the ditch on a puffy batt, and I wouldn't do that now.

Monday, December 14, 2009

I Bet the Maytag Repairman Isn't Lonely Any More

This morning I put a batch of cookies in the oven, and was standing at the counter mixing up the next ones. Suddenly I heard a thumping sound coming from my stove, turned around and saw flames shooting from under the floor of the oven where the heating element is. I turned the oven off, no harm done, except to the under-baked cookies. By an interesting coincidence, the repair man is coming this afternoon to replace the heating element on the largest top burner. That repair will cost about three hundred dollars total. My range is a year and a half old, off warranty, of course. I guess I got a lemon. I wonder if they will give me a free diagnosis call for this new problem.

There goes the rest of the Christmas baking. Is that a bad thing?

Update: The nice man came, took off the oven floor, and found that the element had broken into three pieces (that was the thud) and so obviously burst into flames from the loose ends. The element only costs $40 and the labor will be about $20, so this is much less than the upper element. Of course, the part is not in stock, so we won't have an oven for a while. As my sister says, that does take the pressure off. She's thinking of sabotaging hers until after Christmas.

Friday, December 11, 2009

An Interlude

Wrapping gifts, baking cookies, visiting grandchildren, cleaning--very little fiber content to show. I made some Christmas postcards for an exchange, but can't show them yet, and yesterday I printed photos on the computer to make little photo albums for Aidan and Conor. That's it for creativity. Today's goal is to make room for the Christmas tree, vacuum, and de-clutter enough to decorate.

In the back of my mind I'm thinking about the basket quilt. I have begun the alternate blocks, but am wondering if that large square in the center is so prominent that the secondary design may take over. Replacing it raises the question of what to use instead. There's plenty of time to think about it while I do the Christmas jobs.

Sunday, December 06, 2009


Does anyone else love men's ties? I don't go in the men's department of big stores often, but when I do, I'm drawn to the beautiful display of ties: the rainbow of colors, the rich silky textures, the patterns. Yesterday I went to buy my son the dress shirt which he had requested for Christmas. He hadn't asked for a tie, but I had to buy one--couldn't pass up the ties any more than some people can pass up the new lines of fabric. This combination is actually rather dull. My first choice was a grayed yellow-green that really popped with this shirt; but that combination would never pass, so this is second choice--bland, but tasteful.

Beautiful quilts can be made out from ties, but I've never wanted to do that, I think because there are so many other things ahead of that idea on the "maybe someday" list. I've never made a tie either, though I know people who have. I'll just look, and sometimes buy.

As I was debating which to choose, two young girls walked by. I heard one say to the other, "I just love ties! I don't know why, but I do!" I know why. She's a quilter in the making.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

A Humbling Experience

All the basket blocks are finished. When I started to square up, I had to face some unpleasant truths. Bad blocks! Very bad blocks!

After wondering what to do for a while, I realized that it's obvious which seams are wrong--the ones where the piece is too small, right? Why was that hard to figure out?

So I took out one flower, and re-sewed it. Perfect, right? Oops!

One more try:

Not perfect, but much better, and when the lower right corner is trimmed, it will be at least within an acceptable margin of error. There are still a few blocks to fix, and then on to the alternate blocks. I want this thing DONE.

I did these corrections while listening to President Obama's speech. If what he's doing is a mistake, it will be much harder to correct than mine.