Merry Christmas everyone

Merry Christmas everyone
with the love of my life, George

What am I doing writing a blog?

Quilting is one of the few places in my life where all the corners meet and stay put. On this blog I plan to ruminate about quilting and life, the quilted life, cat and quilts, and any old thing that falls in and out of my brain. I'd be pleased to hear from you on all of this or any topic of interest!

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Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Working on Quilt #117 - the Thanksgiving Cross Stitch quilt

I am busy working on the Thanksgiving quilt. The top is done with the houses top border and the maple leaf bottom border. For the sides, I did a free form strips and small squares with two left over maple leaves on the side borders. It ended up being a humongus quilt, about 85 x 90 inches. I said to Becky, my quilt partner and co-conspirator (also daughter) - "How did this one get so big?" Her reply was "Because you kept adding things to it, Mom." On Saturday, I monogrammed our signatures on the back, Becky and I. Here they are. Also a date which reads: "Thanksgiving 2014."
Then I hauled the quilt and all the necessary supplies, pins, scissors, iron, and my sorry self up to the attic (remember I am still doing stairs on my bum) and began pinning. By the end of Monday night, the quilt was pinned.
So now I have to decide whether or not to baste this monster of a quilt before I start quilting. I am of two minds, 1) it's extra work - why do it? Just suffer thru the pins and 2) if I baste it, I avoid the pins while quilting and I will have the cross stitch squares already basted before I have to hand tack them. That would be nice. We are headed to California in two days so I doubt I will have any time to work on it before we leave so I will mull it over on my mini-vacation. Time for dinner. Happy quilting!

Saturday, March 1, 2014

2013 - The Year of the Christmas Quilt #4 - "Scootin' Around Christmas"

Quilt #4 Called "Scootin' Around Christmas" went to my sister and brother-in-law, Bev and Bob Mitchum and I almost thought I would be taking it home. The very interesting thing about the selection of the quilts on Thanksgiving night, at Bev and Bob's home in Downers Grove, Illinois, was watching how each person gravitated to their particular quilt. After all were selected and conversation occurred over the 4 day holiday, I learned that some wanted another quilt but it was already chosen. At this point I feel compelled to explain that with the exception of team Osborn (daughter Jamie and son-in-law Jeff) and team Mitchum II (Nephew Rob and niece-in-law Laura), all the quilts were chosen by the women of the couple. The rest of them men were watching football and children. So Bev picked out the quilt for herself and Bob. I learned that she loved the color I call "electric lime" (also one of my favs, I am wearing it right now, goes well with white hair) and she really like the dot quilt which went to my grandson Wyatt before it was Bev's turn to pick. I knew that she also really like animal print, in fact, she was wearing an animal print sweater that night. So as a result, she was torn between two quilts, #4 "Scootin' Around Christmas" and #1 "You Can Keep Your Hat On." She eventually settled on "Scootin" and the lime green but we waited until the end of the evening to sew her tag on as we were not sure she would change her mind.
This was one of my favorite quilts to make. I really like the 3-D effect of the presents popping out of the corners. After all the quilts were done, I went back and added buttons to the presents - you can see that version in the first and last picture in this post. It really added some pop. The center square is a Northern Pine pattern and before I got too far in the quilt, I made it with an ivory background and this black background. Went with the black as you can see. The Christmas Shoppers on scooters is the source of the title and although the fabric looks vintage, it is not. Beads are sewn on the red, green and pink (yes, pink) star bursts all around the shoppers. All the time I was making this quilt, I thought it would end up with Angie, Bev's daughter but I was wrong. Angie got the next one. Now some more pictures of this quilt:
and a last one with the buttons on the present:

Monday, February 24, 2014

2013 - The Year of the Christmas Quilt #3 - Mind Your P's and Q's

Quilt number three was originally name Pinwheels and Patches (according to the quilt book I found it in) but I renamed it "Mind Your P's and Q's." There were two very fun, very unique things about this quilt, 1) I used navy blue in the pinwheels, not your traditional Christmas color and 2) the quilt itself is a shape shifter. You can see the traditional pinwheels one way made of eight triangles. And then by turning the pinwheels slightly, you cab see bigger pinwheels with the four square patches in the middle. You're trying it right now, aren't you?
The fabric for the patches are all scrap Christmas prints that have some metallic thread in them. The back is a gorgeous red and green Christmas tree print on navy and I used a strip of the print to make part of the border around the center pinwheels. I switched the color assignment of white and navy pinwheels for the last row of the border, or did I? It works either way. This quilt was so much fun to make because of all the optical illusions going on!
The happy owners of this quilt are Mark and Pam Allmendinger, my first husband and the father of our daughters, and his wife, who is also my good friend. We are all just one big happy blended family, the Allmendinger/Long/Leiner clan. Pam is also a quilter so I was quite pleased that she was so happy to get one of my quilts. She also owns another one of my quilts, one I made for her and HER first husband. Ah, the world it does turn and turn.... The last very unique thing about this quilt is that Pam told me the night of the give-away, that she had been following my MY QUILT PLACE blog and knew that all the quilts were being made to surprise everyone at Thanksgiving but she did not tell a soul. not even her husband Mark. What a good friend she is! Thanks, Pam!

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Foot surgery - check that one off the list; rehabilitation, ummmm, still working on it....

The good new is that we are six weeks into the rehab and I have only one more week to go before the huge cast comes off, I have had two so far, one green and the current one blue:
The contraption you see is my best friend, Zippy, my knee scooter, which has enabled me to get almost everywhere in the house. Unfortunately, Zippy does not climb stairs so I am navigating them on my bum. The last picture is me in my wheelchair, still smiling as you can see. I will not say this has been easy. Some things have been downright tough but the pain was not too great, the doctor says things are progressing nicely and it is almost over. Once the cast comes off, I am four weeks in a clunky old boot and then - freedom! I will be able to drive again by April 1. Whooppee! Once I conquered going up and down the stairs on my seat, my world really opened up. I had been basically living on the first floor but step climbing meant sleeping in my own bed and ... wait for it... getting back to the sewing machine. I starting doing a bit of piecing again the 4th week and have just today finished the 27 little houses that go across the top of the Thanksgiving quilt. I am now working on the 27 autumn leaves for the bottom of the quilt. Then I will put on the side border and the top will be done. I will monogram the back next. Maybe by that time, the boot will be off and I can think about getting it pinned. Maybe I can pin it in the attic as it should be warmer by then and I will be able to walk. Life is good.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Back in the Saddle Again!

Quilt hiatus is over but quilting will not resume full speed ahead unfortunately. I promised myself at least a month off after the Christmas quilts were finished and delivered on Thanksgiving Day and even went a bit beyond as I did not get back to my sewing machine until this week. However, I have a foot surgery scheduled for this coming Monday, January 13 - severe Ostheoarthritis in my right foot - so the resurgence is short lived. I did have time, over the last few days, to put together the first five house blocks of the border for the Thanksgiving cross stitch quilt. Becky cross stitched the corners some time ago and I was puzzled for a long time about how I was going to incorporate patchwork with them but I think it worked out okay! Here is a close up of the houses themselves.
So, this is it for now. This weekend will be spent getting the rest of my "2Do" list done in preparation for the surgery. Those of you who know me, know I have a big old multistory house but I will be living on the ground floor for awhile until I can handle steps. Here is my "bedroom" all set up in the breakfast nook for my stay downstairs. I will be sleeping amid George's cookbooks and should certainly have sweet dreams!
Notice the cat on the bed. Vinnie thinks a bedroom downstairs is the best home improvement we have made for years! I am sure he will be my good buddy during the recuperation. Last but not least, a nice article in the local newspaper about the quilt project. My 15 minutes of fame, I guess! Bye for now!

Monday, December 16, 2013

2013 - The Year of the Christmas Quilt #2 - GET THE DOT OUTTA HERE

With the original quilt pattern name of "Freeze Frame," this little beauty, one of the smallest of the fifteen quilts, is made of all polka dots, including the white on white dots. I love polka dots, they just make me happy. Only the black fabric is a solid. A really quick and easy top to sew together and not too difficult to quilt either. It does have alot of corners to match and all of the corner that involve stripes are hand mitered. Come to think of it, I hand mitered all fifteen quilts in the borders at least and some even in the blockwork. That's alot of hand sewing. My friend, Phyllis Riddle who took this ride with me, watching each quilt develop from idea in my pointed little head to actual physical thing, liked this quilt best. Here she is taking pictures for me in November after they were all done. It was my grandson Wyatt Zachary Osborn who ended up with this one. His parents, Jamie and Jeff chose it for him of course. Jamie told me she selected this one because she thought it would grow with him and I think it is perfect for year round use because there is really nothing on it that is too Christmasy! and here is the boy, lovin' on his quilt from his Grammy! This quilt called several person's name when we gave them away on Thanksgiving night so I guess it was a good thing that we had numbers assigned. I found out later my sister, Bev really wanted it because she like the color I call "Electric Lime" in it and a few other of the quilts. One of my favorite colors too! Now here are a bunch of pictures of the quilt: Last but not least, here is the grandson and I amid all of Becky's beautiful quilt bags. Life is good!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

2013 - The Year of the Christmas Quilt #1 - YOU CAN KEEP YOUR HAT ON

This is the quilt that started it all. I purchased the fabric in Dallas, Texas while I was there with daughter Becky, who lives there and daughter, Jamie, who was pregnant with my first grandchild. We were all together to help Becky pick out her wedding dress for the May 2011 big event. I had volunteered to make some baby items for Jamie and so we were looking at fabric as well as other scrapbooking stuff. I don't remember if it was before or after Christmas but this adorable Santa fabric caught my eye. The Santas had different hat bands and one of them was leopard animal print. So in December 2012, I start working on this quilt, thinking it is for Wyatt, and somewhere along the way, I decide to made a Christmas quilt for every member of my birth family in the year 2013. A little background. George, my loving spouse, had just received a book contract with Stanford University Press to translate a work of Frederick Nietzsche from German to English and had been granted a sabbatical for school year 2012-13 to work on the project. I reasoned that he would be very busy and I would need a project to keep me out of his hair. Thus the quilt project was born. Originally, I was going to do 12 quilts but somewhere along the line, it blossomed into 15. The three extra were added for Dean, my great nephew, Mark and Pam, my daughters' father and his wife and one for me. My plan for action was to make all of the tops first and then come back to do the pinning, quilting and dedications. This plan worked out beautifully but led to some interesting decisions along the way. For instance, I was almost out of matching fabric for this quilt by the time it was time to quilt so I had to get creative with the back by piecing together all the remaining fabric and adding a solid red to make the back big enough. I think it worked! While making the quilts, sometimes I had an idea who it would be for and other times I had no clue. All along, I thought this quilt would be for Wyatt but as it turns out, Jamie did not remember that I was buying the fabric for my first grandchild's Christmas quilt so it did not resonate with her. Everyone was allowed to pick their own quilt and Jamie and Jeff chose another for Wyatt (more on that later) so home with me came YOU CAN KEEP YOUR HAT ON. Why does it have such a provocative name you may ask? Well, the traditional quilt pattern name is Working Girl. I do not know why but that title combined with the hatbands sparked the song "You Can Keep Your Hat On" by Joe Cocker and it just stuck. I tried to give each of the quilts distinctive names, just like works of art. Does this mean I am finally comfortable with the description of "artist" for myself and what I do? Quite possibly. The plan was that the project would be totally secret until the holiday season 2013. Originally, I was going to ship them all to the recipient (I would have chosen which quilt I thought was best for them) on December 1, 2013 so that they would all have them for the holiday season. Once we knew we would be going to the Chicago suburbs to be with most of the family for Thanksgiving, the plans changed. Taking them then would save me lots of shipping charges and I would be guarenteed they arrived in the right hands. One other big change occurred about September. All year long, two family members were constantly asking me what I was working on, what quilt project was in progress. They were my mother Ramona and my youngest daughter, Becky. It is important to note that Becky made her first quilt during this time (and has since made several more) so we were talking alot. I even visited her in June to help put that quilt together and still kept the secret. My mother and my oldest daughter's family visited in August and the quilts were tucked out of sight. So when Ramona asked, I just changed the subject or told her I could not tell her. It was a bit harder with Becky. Finally in September, while working on a particular tricking part of one quilt, I told her all about it. Earned me a "you are awesome, Mom" and a partner in the enterprise. When I told Becky part of the plan was to use up the huge stash of Christmas material I had, and that I still had a great deal left, she suggested we make matching quilt bags for each quilt. I told her I would be lucky to get the quilts done so she immediately volunteered to make them. What.a.girl! As you can see, each bag says the name of the project on the top line "2013 - The Year of the Christmas Quilt" and the name of the quilt on the second line, in this case, "You Can Keep Your Hat On." Becky came to Pennsylvania one weekend and we created 7 of the 15 bags. She finished the last eight lickedy split at home in Plano, Texas. What a sweetheart. She also became my partner in deciding how we would distribute the quilts. It was determined that each would pick their own in this order: Becky first as she was my partner and accomplice, Jamie and Jeff second, Wyatt third, and then the rest of the Long family in order of oldest to youngest: Mom and Dad Long, Bev and Bob Mitchum, Denise and Marty Hauser, Rob and Laura Mitchum, Angie and Zach Sharp, Dean Mitchum and then last but not least, Mark and Pam Allmendinger. The remaining five quilts would be sent to the four California families and one went home with me. The last requirement of the project was that each family would send me a digital photo of themselves with the quilt. To that end, here we are with "You Can Keep Your Hat On," with, of course, our hats on! And then without.... Last but not least, in keep with my tradition to keep the quilt's story with the quilt, I put dedications on the quilts along with my signature. As the dedications were made before the recipient was known, it read "To my family with love." After the quilt was chosen, Becky, Pam and I sewed on the pre-made ownership tags. Here is the dedication square for "You Can Keep Your Hat On." I have yet to make my own name tag! Maybe it will get done this month, but then again, maybe not. I am currently on Quilt Hiatus! Merry Christmas!