Tuesday, February 28, 2012

FW QAL February Blocks...

Welcome to my February Leap Year post that is photo heavy and may take a while to visit.  I am so very excited that I have joined the Farmers Wife (FW) Quilt Along (QAL) with Donna of Brynwood Needleworks and 24 lovely participants.   I got a late start to this and I am a total beginner when it comes to quilting precise blocks of fabric pieces.  I am learning so much and there is such a sharing of tips and techniques from so many wonderful quilters.  Thank you all so very much.  First you must have the proper tools to do the proper job.  Of course I know this from Mr. C who must have special tools all the time for his projects.
 At first I tried to use the paper templates to cut my pieces and then stitch them together.  Not so accurate as the paper would get cut and the size would get distorted along the way.  So I ordered a template set...or two from Marti Michell.  I then labeled them with the corresponding FW numbers to match my book of blocks.  I also used some handy grips on the backside of the templates because my friend who quilts told me about them and I am so grateful as the grips lessen the possibility of the template slipping and ruining my cutting.
 Here is another tool I am so glad I bought one day...a rotating cutting mat.  What a time saver for cutting around these little templates.
This tool I just received today and I am so excited.  It is the 1/4" quilting foot with guide for my Pfaff Expression.  More than several quilters insisted I must have this.  I had tried putting the blue tape for a reference guide and it helped.  I had other suggestions that would have been very helpful too.  
 I haven't sewn any blocks with this foot yet but just doing a couple of sample seams shows me what a huge difference it will make.   Now to show you my FW QAL blocks for February.  There were a total of 10 that Donna suggested and we could make with our Template Set B.  I selected seven of the blocks to make.  The remaining three I may make at some other time when I get more comfortable with the process.

Block #9 - Box   
Block #16 - Calico Puzzle
 Block #21 - Contrary Wife  (Oops...I never saw that when I looked so carefully and matched it to the book and even showed it to Mr. C...the Master Engineer...who pointed out flaw after flaw but not this glaring one). 
Block #21 - Contrary Wife (Now Corrected)  She really must be contrary! 
Block #41 - Friendship Star 
Block #69 - Practical Orchard
 Block #81 - Snowball
Block #84 - Spool 
I must admit I am pretty happy with each of these blocks.  Some I favor over others however I have not decided on my final layout as of yet.  I am embracing their flaws and hopefully will look back some day and be able to see lots of improvement from this beginning project.  This is part of why I am challenging myself to do this so I can learn and grow.  I love to sew and find it to be quite relaxing...well maybe not so while de-stitching a mistake.  I can also see how I like some fabrics together much better than others.  This too shall be a learning experience.
I am enjoying "meeting" the QAL participants and seeing their blocks and fabric choices they are posting on each of their blogs.
Whew!  I made the February deadline.  Thank goodness I had this extra Leap Year day.  :o)
Now I am ready for March and the blocks Donna suggests.
If you are still reading this post...thank you for hanging in here.
Our weather has turned extremely cold and it is supposed to snow for two days and nights.  My elevation is 3400 feet and we are predicted to get up to 18 inches of snow.  Tahoe at 7000 + feet is to get about 5 feet. Tomorrows high temp is to be about 35 degrees F.  We have been in the low 60's and quite pleasant for this time of year.  I think Winter is finally here.  We certainly need the rain and snow.  I always dread fire season here in the forest trees so the more moisture the better.
As long as the power stays on I can sew quilt blocks.  I do hope I have the right templates for March.  LOL
Stay Safe and Joyful Creating...

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Please Meet...Miss Gwendolyn

 Please let me introduce you to Miss Gwendolyn.  I have mentioned her before but never really told you much about her.  She is very shy and extremely quiet...unlike me.  Here she is sitting in a little wooden chair that Mr. C purchased.  He actually purchased this chair for Anne Sherry but Gwendolyn liked it so she acquired it.  It seems to suit her just fine.  Before Gwendolyn sat on my Grandparents bed and Grandpa got tired of moving her every night so he went out one day and bought her a little wooden high chair.  I don't have it but I wish I did.  Nothing special but the memory of Grandpa doing something so sweet for a doll which was completely out of character for him.

 She wants you to see her fancy stockings and lace pantaloons.  And she loves her little black Mary Jane shoes that tie around her ankles.  She does not like her dress or hat because it is not of the quality she used to wear however the previous silk fabrics began to wear thin and were horribly faded.  Grandma had a nice lady in Utah make this outfit for her.  Some day I am hoping to make her a "proper" outfit once again so she can be dressed in the manner she was accustomed to.
 Gwendolyn actually belonged to my Grandmother.  This photo is showing them both.  Mr. C actually had this very old bedraggled photo matted and framed for me one Mother's Day years ago after my mother passed away and I then received the photo.  Pretty special from a man who doesn't like dolls and isn't sentimental.
 Here is another photo of my grandmother and Gwendolyn.  This is just so precious to me to have these photos to go along with this beautiful doll.  I just missed buying a carriage like this one at the Doll Shoppe in Hobby City one day.  The curator couldn't believe I walked in with Gwendolyn just an hour after another woman bought the carriage.
 A close up to show the little tea party they were having while reading to one another.  Priceless!
Here is a close up of Gwendolyn so you can see her pierced ears, tiny little teeth and big brown eyes.  I think she is the most beautiful doll ever.
Although Grandma had this doll for so many years, the photo is taken approximately 1911 as Grandma was born in 1906 and she is about 5 years old here, she never named her doll or so she told me when I came to visit.  I would always ask if I could go in to her bedroom and look at her doll and there I would stand for the longest time just admiring her.  One day Grandma asked if I would like to hold her and that was the best ever.  She asked me what name I would give her and I immediately said, "Gwendolyn".  I have no idea where that name came from but to this day she is Gwendolyn.  Thank you Grandma for allowing me to enjoy Gwendolyn and keep care of her for you now that you are gone (many years now).  I so love you both.
With tears in my eyes (I am extremely sentimental) I am sharing my Gwendolyn with you as part of Memory Lane Mondays.
I feel so blessed to be entrusted with Gwendolyn until my daughter will inherit her and carry on the legacy.
I look forward to reading your shared memories...

Friday, February 24, 2012

Finish It Friday...

 Friday of another week and it is already coming to a close.  I decided that my Fractured February could be turned around and become Fantastic February.  This past week I worked at lots of those unfinished projects that always seem to hang around.  Nothing huge but those little nagging piles of small things to finish.  I DID NOT make this adorable little lingerie bag.  It belongs to a dear friend of mine and she needed it to be able to close so she could use it as her purse for a special event.  She had the black elastic lace for the inside rim and had tried gluing it but her fabric glue was a disaster.  The lace did not adhere and it left an unsightly residue. I tried Fabri Tac by Beacon but had the same horrible results.  Hmmm...what would Grandma do?
Forget the glue and do it properly.  Hand stitch the lace with needle and thread.  It took a lot of time but I am so much happier with the results.  Then I added the polka dot ribbon to disguise the glue residue from the Velcro tabs she had tried to add.  I hand sewed the ribbon to the top edge before I sewed the lace on.  Lastly I hand stitched some large black snaps for the closures.  I am very happy with the finished bag.  Unfortunately I have not been able to give it to my friend as she is going through Bone Marrow Transplant and could use some loving prayers.  So many ups and downs and through it all she remains very strong and positive and never complains.
I also lined about 75 card envelopes with silver foil on the inside flap.  It took me several hours but now I can put them away for the holidays when I will need them.  I save a lot of money buying inexpensive envelopes and adding my own touch of elegance.
I also got a few other things worked along and will share them in another post.
Our weather is so bright and not at all winter gloom and doom gray.  It is cold but I am so happy to see sunshine and blue skies.  I am one of those people who really need sunshine and daylight.  It gives me more energy and I really think that is part of why I was able to get some things completed this week.
My daughter Jenifer has written some affirmations and I would like to share one of them that really summarizes my week...
It's an amazing feeling to accomplish so much and be so grateful for my life today! Jenifer Smith
May you each enjoy a wonderful weekend of bliss doing what gives you joy...

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Tedious and Precise...

 I hope you dear faithful readers will enjoy my FW QAL posts from time to time.  I am on a challenge journey for myself and practically before I began I said to Mr. C, "I don't think this quilting will be for me.  However, I shall continue to try and do my best."  His remark is not for publication.  LOL  To paraphrase...he listed a ton of creative ventures I have tried and not stuck with and how much money and supplies are sitting idle.  "How Rude!"  Of course he is absolutely correct.  :o}
On to my quilting journey.  I cut out these pieces with my little paper templates.  Once sewn together I realize that my paper pieces are not exactly the same size each time I cut as they seem to get cut along with the fabric along the edges.  
I have also learned that a 1/4 inch seam is very very hard to keep precise.  I learned to sew when I was a girl and everything was sewn with a very generous 5/8 inch seam.  I really should order another accessory foot for my Pfaff since I don't have the 1/4 inch quilting foot that might make it easier to keep my seams accurate.  Hmmm...maybe I should wait on that order until I see if I will keep trying my best.  :o)
 It is a really good thing I have a lot of cotton quilting fabrics in my stash.  I wanted to practice and make a Friendship Star block.  After tedious cutting and careful sewing and un-sewing with my vintage plastic seam ripper...I think I will also need to obtain one of the new ergonomic ones...I very carefully placed my pieces "just like the photo in my book". Oops...
The I carefully sewed the pieces together.  Oops again!  What happened?  This does not look like the book.  More un-sewing and re-sewing and finally I think I have succeeded in making a block.
Ahh yes, this does look like a Friendship Star block that is correct according to my Farmers Wife book.  If practice makes perfect I am well on my way to perfection.  Bahahaha
This is not much to show for one day of play time in the cutting and sewing room.  Am I proud?  Yes I am!  I think I shall try to get busy on some of the actual blocks that have been selected for February.  We can make all or only the ones we wish to make.  I will take my book and study which ones I shall attempt.
I am grateful to others in the FW QAL as I read their blogs and see their blocks and left comments.  I had some very nice encouragement and offers of help if I get stuck.  Such a nice group of quilters participating.
I welcome your comments and constructive criticism .  I am here to learn and also enjoy this challenge.
Do you quilt with fabrics or have you ever quilted or do you want to quilt in the future?
We do have a quilt guild here locally so I could join and learn however I am not ready for that at this time.
Today was a beautiful 64 degrees with blue sky and sunshine.  Our pond is full of frogs enjoying their annual conference getting together and meeting one another.  I really love to hear them carrying on.
May the Creative Force be with you...

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Chilly Spring Scarf...

 This just looks like Spring!  Our weather has been more like a very chilly Spring than it has winter.  Our temps are in the low 60's for daytime highs and to me that is cold!  I like it in the mid 80's.  This scarf is another of those that hugs your neck so cozy and feels wonderful with the fine Italian yarns I used.
 For the closure I crocheted a buttonhole and then sewed a shank button onto the back of the flower.  I like to use a pretty vintage button for the  closure just in case anyone sees it or asks about the closure.
 Here is a photo of the back when buttoned.  I like the pop of the bright pink and this is the year of neon accessories according to all the fashion buzz...which I truly never follow for myself.  I am more traditional.
A fresh breath of Spring right here to be worn and ward off that chill that is still in the air.
It feels good to complete another creative project.  I also have some beautiful yarn pieces for my ORT jar.  I wouldn't consider these pieces "Old Raggedy Threads" however they will make a beautiful addition to another creative adventure using all those thread scraps.
What are you creating in this Leap Year?  I am so thankful to have the extra day to play as it feels so good.
Blissful Creating...

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Quilting...What Was I Thinking???

Quilting is not my favorite way to be creative.  I love quilts and I admire those who make them.  I am just not very engineering or mathematically minded.  So I have always done other sewing and creative endeavors. I certainly have many of the quilting tools as they come in handy for so many crafts.  So this time when my dear friend Donna of Brynwood Needleworks so graciously offered to host a QAL...Quilt Along...I thought long and hard and finally decided to participate.   So I purchased the required book, The Farmers Wife Sampler Quilt by Laurie Aaron Hird.  That was easy enough.
Now for gathering some fabrics.  No, not from my hundreds of choices I already have!  I want something new.  But...what am I making?  A table topper?  No!  If food got on my hard work I would panic.  I couldn't think of anything I needed to make for my home until I remembered the blank kitchen nook wall that has been begging for a painting or ???  So I am now thinking of making a wall hanging for that wall.  How much fabric will I need?  I have no idea.  So off to a fabric store I went while I was in Bakersfield one of my trips.  I fell in love with the bright floral that has a greyish background which will work so well for my beautiful grey wall.  With the help of a very nice sales lady I purchased these fabrics.  In person they are much prettier than this photo I took in my hotel room.  

Here I am in my hotel room with my book and the paper templates I decided to cut out.  The scissors I used are the only ones I had with me.  Tedious for certain but what else did I need to do sitting there on the hotel sofa.  I am in the process of purchasing the template sets that are acrylic which will be much easier to use.
Here are my fabrics all washed and dried and pressed with sizing...not starch...as recommended.  I may use all of these or I may not use some of them and I may acquire others I like.
Another photo of my fabrics.  The large print that coordinates with the floral will be my backing fabric.  This assortment is of greys and yellows which can be found in the floral.  I want this piece to be cheery but understated.
Here is a photo of the floral again with the greens, blues and maroons that work with the floral.  Because I really don't understand the quilting rules of color I will be studying and learning a lot about lights, mediums and darks.
I am grateful for this decision I have made and will continue my path of quilting...at least to see this project through to completion.  I have challenged myself as part of my growth this year.
Thank you Donna for being our knowledgeable and helpful wonderful hostess.
As for our weather...winter is pretty much not here.  The sun is shining and the daffodils are sprouting and life is good.
Now I shall go cut some fabric...one piece at a time.
Have you challenged yourself with a new project?

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Surprise Mail Gifties...

 Such a pleasure to receive surprise gifts in the mail.  I did know I was the winner of something however you never really know until you receive how wonderful the goodies really are.  Please visit Vicki of http://rustyroostervintage.blogspot.com/ to see her wonderful creative talents.  Thank you Vicki so very much.  This is such a great package.  The cleverly sewn brown paper bag with the red heart doily stamped with my initial and tied with baker's twine is uber cute.  The little tin mold is super adorable with its glittered rim and wire handle.  Now lets see what is in that bag...
Three more little packages each decorated so cute with stamped card stock headers containing laces, buttons, ephemera and metal trinkets.  Lots of fabulous creativity here for collage pieces or journal art or...well the possibilities are endless.  
I am always overwhelmed at the generosity of bloggers and how they share so much of their talents, skills and supplies.  My heart is filled with joy.
Now I am off to send a proper thank you to Vicki.
Happy blog visiting...

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Embellishing Purchased Gifts...

 On one of my shopping trips I was able to purchase some lovely velvet and satin scarves.  Then I decided that they could be embellished with just the right touch of trim.  So me and my scarves went shopping again and searched near and far for the perfect embellishments.  Oh dear the decisions.  Well, as you can see in this photo above I bought lots more lace and trims than I needed for just the scarves.  What can I say?  I love all of it.  I don't think one can ever have too much in their creative stash of possibilities.  You might feel the same if you love to make lots of different things.  How do you plead?
Not being the professional photographer my colors are a bit off.  These three photos are of the same scarf and it is lovely shades of purple.  The photo below shows the colors more accurately.  For this scarf I selected a braided trim which adds a wonderful touch of elegance.  I did bring my necessary pins, thread, needles, scissors and ruler, however I did not bring a thimble and my fingers are a mess from the needle and how thick the trim is to sew through.
I think I was pretty clever to de-stitch the side seams just enough to fit my ruler in so I could have a base to stitch against and not catch the opposite side in my stitching.  Also this allowed me to wrap the trim into the side seam and make it a much smoother finish.  
This velvet and satin is very slippery and not fun to work with.  However I am quite pleased with my end result and will be proud to add it to my gift cupboard...awaiting the recipient I kept in mind when selecting and stitching.  
Here is another work in progress.  This lace trim is actually a wonderfully soft chenille and feels fabulous.  It was much nicer to stitch and didn't require the use of my newest thimble I ran out and purchased after the pain of the purple trim stitching.
Even with my time and traveling being so helter-skelter I can feel good about finishing two projects to put away for this year's Christmas gifts.  Being productive feels so good.
I know some of you are working ahead on holiday gifts to avoid the stress of the busy hectic Christmas season.  I am happy to be included now in that plan ahead group.  If I just get at least one major gift done every month I would be able to enjoy the season and that would be a real blessing.
Are you working ahead on birthday or Christmas gifts?  I tend to do birthday gifts closer to the date instead of way ahead of time.  At least birthdays are spaced throughout the year.
Now I shall work on the next project...
We finally had rain and some snow.  It was only about 3 inches of snow overnight but it has lasted three days so far.  Winter might just get here after all.  Our weather is certainly cold enough for winter.
Note:  I am not one to do well with changes and have no technical skills when it comes to computers so I am  not certain what will happen when Windows Internet Explorer no longer supports Blogger as I read will be March 1st.  I have switched to Google Chrome for being able to create a post for my blog.  Today I was able to add a new "Follow Me" on my sidebar for Linky Followers and I invite you to follow me on Linky.  I have just followed a couple of my very favorite blogs with Linky as they suggested.  We shall see what all this will come to be.  In the meantime I certainly hope the fright of "Y2K" and the millenium is going to be as benign as this newest blog commotion should be.
May you be blissfully creative...

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Just Right Goldilocks...

 Do you like getting new furniture?  I really like it but don't do it very often.  However this week I was shopping and found this little chair.  It is made of metal and not very big.  I think it is for a plant to sit on it, however that is not what I had in mind.  Let me see the price tag...Really?  In that case I shall carry it around with me and decide if I really want to purchase this little chair.  It is not very portable and I was traveling with the car.  It would be quite the nuisance and Mr. C would never understand nor have the patience to pack this with all the other stuff I acquired...including two new brooms for the house as mine mysteriously disappeared both upstairs and downstairs brooms.  Why I felt the need to buy them while away is beyond even my understanding.  So as I am carrying around this little chair deciding if I should buy it, too many other shoppers are eyeing my find...hungrily eyeing my little find.  Yup!  I must buy this little chair and pack it home.  Note:  even the housekeeping staff asked about my little chair I sat on the coffee table in our little room while we were in our cozy little cottage...again.  Mr. C is not thrilled.  Ahh...now we are home and this little chair is perfect for exactly why I bought it.
I introduce to you, Anne Sherry.  She is so happy to have a new chair to sit in.  Mr. C bought her a nice wooden chair years ago, however Gwendolyn stole it from her soon after it came home.  I shall save that story for another time.  So Anne Sherry tried all the chairs in the house and just like Goldilocks she found every chair to be too big or too small.  Not this chair as she says it is just right!  Here she is happily sitting in her new chair with her favorite book she is reading.  To celebrate her new chair she is wearing her pink butterfly wings and her recently acquired crown.  It is good to be the queen!  She isn't even letting Gwendolyn get near her new chair as she is sitting on the opposite side of the room right where she can keep her eyes on the other dolls just in case they get any ideas.
I am so glad I spotted this little chair and carried it around and brought it all the way home.
Thank you Mr. C for putting up with the ackward packing of stuff in the car...chair and brooms.  As for the Cuties that spilled and rolled all over the parking lot...well that is another story.
The sky is drizzling and the sun is playing hide and seek...more hiding than anything else.  It is cold but not frigid and this is a wonderful weekend to relax and just enjoy being home. Chores are calling me and I don't even mind.
What is something you have purchased while away and then had to wrangle to get it home?
Happy weekend...

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Fractured February...

When I decided upon using a word to help me in my daily pursuit of life I thought of doing one word for the entire year.  That was in 2010.  I chose my word of focus and it has served me well even still to this day.  I find I pay more attention to my surroundings and happenings. 
Then in 2011 I selected the word now as my guide.  That allowed me to get things done and not put them off as much as I had done in the past.  Good word and I am still benefiting from that choice.
This year of 2012 my word is play and I have not really done it justice in the short amount of time we have had in this year.  I am finding the hours and days and weeks are just flying faster and faster for me.  I am not getting a lot of play time and I think I know what has happened.  LIFE!
I recently saw a quote that fits this perfectly...
“Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans.”
John Lennon

Now for my blog title today I must explain...
I experienced "Disconnected December" from being gone several weeks with hubby to do a consulting job helping a good friend and then getting very sick on our one week vacation in Maui.  No Christmas and not even a visit from Santa was just NOT how I wanted to enjoy December.
Then 2012 brought along "Jumbled January" and my new year was off on the wrong step.  Please understand I am not a pessimist nor do I relish in drama.  I was merely hoping for a simple routine of my comfortable life of homemaking and of volunteering in my community and going to my joyous Zumba classes.  Well that did NOT happen.
As we enter February I must label it "Fractured February" as it is following in the same pattern as the two previous months.  So I shall take a very deep breath and stay on target to a peaceful and serene daily life of flexibility and happiness.  I shall give February a reprieve until Valentine's Day and then based on what happens then I might be able to re-title this post "Fabulous February". 
In the meantime my pursuit of play continues...
What are you playing with and creating? 
I have been seeing lots of beautiful hearts being created.
Our winter has remained very mild however there are changes coming this week...could it be snow???