Don't let the difficulties of the present moments overshadow the reality of God's promises. God's promises still stand. And God's promises are stronger than our failures.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

One Thousand Blessings - Day 28

911.  Books that strengthen my faith
912.  Books that teach
913.  Books that entertain (I'm sensing a pattern here!)
914.  Meals shared with people I love
915.  Emergency personnel
916.  People God has healed this year - either through the wisdom of medical people, a miracle given by God, or through His perfect healing through entering their heavenly home
917.  The means and ability to cook Thanksgiving dinner
918.  Family, warts and all
919.  Gifts and prizes I've received from blogging friends
920.  High school girlfriends who remain in my life
921.  Physical therapists
922.  Frost that glistens in the sun like diamonds
923.  Clear, crisp fall days
924.  The smell of pumpkin pie cooking
925.  Leaf blowers, and the people who use them
926.  Ruffles and lace
927.  Puppies
928.  Wind in the leaves
929.  Pansies
930.  White Christmas lights
931.  Live nativity scenes
932.  Christmas music
933.  Meditation
934.  Kitchen appliances
935.  Reading glasses
936.  The drawings of children
937.  Windmills
938.  Fried pies
939.  Pinterest
940.  Hearing my child say "I feel better"
941.  New makeup
942.  Butter Bowls
943.  Pretty Scarves
944.  Chipmunks
945.  Chocolate milk
946.  Business cards
947.  Coupons that work on sale items
948.  Angels
949.  Beautiful old clocks
950.  The sun on the lake

Thursday, November 17, 2011

 Don't you just love the block tutorials going on over at Stash Manicure this month?  I love seeing the different blocks and reading the tutorials but I didn't really plan to make any of them.  After all, I have this promise to myself hovering over my head - "start nothing new until you've finished at least half of your UFOs".  I refuse to tell you how many UFOs I have.  You can torture me and I won't tell.  Well, maybe I would depending on the torture.  But when I saw the tutorial by Jennifer at Ellison Lane Quilts I was smitten.  Not the Improv Block, altough I loved her bright colors.  It was the Christmas Tree Block that caught my eye.  So I broke my promise to myself and made this:

 It's just perfect for this little corner of my kitchen window.  And the colors fit right into the color scheme I have in there.  I mean you can see why I had to do it, right?

And on a different note do you Pinterest?  Because I'm seriously addicted and I'm spending way too many hours there.  If you want to see what it's about click on the Pinterest button over on my right sidebar.  Anyway, I saw these wonderful scarf pins made out of buttons and a light bulb went off....I have buttons!  So I made these:

I only burned my finger once on the hot glue.  That's a record for me.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

I Love A Finish!

Don't you just love getting finished with a quilt?  And when it's a holiday quilt, just in time for that holiday and not a  month after?  I'm best known for the month after.  :)  There were many "joys in quilting" on this particular piece - I described a few in the previous two posts - but those pauses in my sanity have passed and I'm in love with this quilt!  I have no idea where it will hang because it is much too big for my front door as I had planned but you can bet I'll find a place.  I added a pin stripe binding and I think it was just the right one.  :)

I stippled the background and I can see a lot of progress over the last several months - finally!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

More on the Joy of Quilting

Don't you just love how God sends us some beautiful flowers just when we think there won't be any more flowers until spring?  Goes to show what we know.  :)  What does this have to do with the joy of quilting?  Well just look at that and try not to smile, I dare you.
 And don't you just hate when you don't think to take a picture of flowers until it's dark?

 Following the rules from my last post I'm machine quilting a wall quilt for Christmas that grew from the 30" x 40" I had planned to 42" x 70" when I wasn't looking.  How in the world does that happen you ask?
Well I saw this Christmas Tree quilt on the two different places.  Which meant it was like lightening struck.  I had to make it.  I had no pattern but how hard could it be?  It was all made of circles and I had a circle die for my Accuquilt Go!  I looked really hard at the ones I saw and they had 4 different sizes of circles.  My die had 3 sizes...about 2", 3", and 5".  So I looked around for something to make another size circle and found a saucer - 7 1/4"  This was my first "joy of quilting" moment with this quilt.  I should have looked for a smaller circle, like 1", but that just sounds so little.  First I ironed Steam a Seam 2 to the back of some red fabrics.  This step is important...don't wait until after you cut the circles unless you've got the fine motor dexterity of a monkey.  Trust me on that.  I counted all their circles and I cut out that number.  When I started pinning them to my design board I came up with this:
Great shape, right?  Right.  But that bottom row is about 2" from each side of the width of fabric for the background!  And still needs a star and a pot...well lets just say it's going to be a little large for my front door, which is where I planned to hang it.

The next thing I had to do is to find a star for the top and a pot for the tree to sit in.  Well the pot wasn't hard.  I cut a square and then angled the sides.  Done!  But the star.  I searched my books for a star that was big enough and couldn't come up with one. "Joy of quilting number two" - I did find one I liked but it was too small.  Did I tell you I used to teach algebra?  Surely I could figure that out!  I dug out some graph paper and used the Pythagorean Theorem, a side-angle-side geometric rule, and Fibonacci numbers....just kidding ya'll.

I drew the small star on the graph paper, added an inch on all sides with my trusty ruler and yippee! a perfect size star to use as my template.  Again I say, iron your Steam a Seam 2 to the back of your fabric before you cut out your star.  You'll be sorry if you don't.  Really sorry.  That was my "joy of quilting" number three.

Okay, all right!  I have all my pieces pinned to the design board when I realize they have to be transferred to the background fabric.  This picture is after I did that but the moment when I realized that I didn't put the background fabric up first was my "joy of quilting" moment number four.  I spent a good half hour arranging all those and I knew there was no way to replicate it when I moved them.  I took a picture on my IPad and tried to do it from there but the patterns of all those fabrics didn't show up very good so I just crossed my fingers and moved them.  And moved them.  And moved them.  Finally I had them arranged where I wanted them and I moved to the ironing board to press them on.

This step went beautifully except for the "joy of quilting" moment number five when I forgot to press and ironed instead.  A couple of the circles didn't appreciate that enthusiasm and curled their edges on me.  Nasty.  But all in all that went rather quickly and I proceeded to sandwiching.  We won't talk about that because I can't count that high.  But finally we made it to the machine.

How in the world do you manage all that quilt!  It just wads up all around.  I've tried rolling but I'm not too good at rolling.  One time I remember some friends and I tried rolling a boy's yard but we got caught.  Maybe I'm intimidated by the whole idea of it.  Scarred by the memory, if you will.

I decided to stipple.  I love stippling.  And no, the fact that it's the only free motion quilting I can do had no impact on my decision.

I've stippled for five hours and I'm half way through.  I don't like stippling nearly as much as I used to.  I'll be back later to show you the finished product.  Maybe 2012.  or 13.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Marlene's Rules For Free Motion Machine Quilting

I used to be afraid of free motion machine quilting.  I mean like frozen in my tracks scared.  If I even thought about free motion quilting, and I tried not to, my stomach would get in knots and my hands would tremble.  But I want to report that I have conquered that fear!  I made up a few rules that have helped me and in the spirit of giving for the holidays I'm going to share them with you.

1.  Never, ever, under any circumstances, let go of your fabric when the machine is still running.  That could be compared to letting go of the hand of a five year old while standing in Times Square.  Imagine that  letting go, child in wide eyed wonder stepping off the curb weaving his/her way among the honking yellow cabs, strolling down the street gazing happily in windows and ending up at Grand Central Station peeping over the stand at the coming trains.  It would be like that.  Imagine Family the child steps in every puddle, climbs every tree, pets every cat and talks to every neighbor on his/her way home from school.  Your stitches will be in a giant zigzag here, there and yonder.

2.  Your machine will not stop running unless you let your foot off the gas.  All the way off the gas.  So when you want to stop, get your foot OFF the pedal.  You can't lightly touch it like you do your car at a red light so you can inch forward until your bumper is scant inches away from the bumper in front of you.  While your foot is just lightly touching the pedal the fabric is still moving under the needle.  And what do you get?  Another zig.  Without the zag.

3.  If you still believe in quarter inch seams, triangle points that meet and seams that align then you need to go find something else fun to do.  The goal of every free motion quilter I've met seems to be even stitches. There's no such thing.  That's a story mothers tell their children at bedtime that sounds great in theory but doesn't work in real life.  And it's not supposed to.  For example, if you see two 80 year old women standing side by side and one has smooth, flawless, unwrinkled skin and the other looks like a normal 80 year old woman what would you think?  That the first woman has had an inordinate number of face lifts?  Yea, me too.  She's not real.  She's not beautiful.  It's the second one that draws your eye.  Oh the character in her beautiful, wrinkled face!  Picture Mother Teresa...did you ever see anyone more gorgeous?  You can see her life written there, on her face.  Well, that's the way quilts should be.  They should have life written on them.  A few tiny stitches here, a few long stitches there, and a lot of fairly normal ones in between.  Trust me on this.  Quilts want character.

4.  God made your hands the size He did for a reason.  You can only control the amount of fabric that will fit in between your hands.  If you try to put your hands too far apart so you can quilt a larger amount of the quilt before you have to stop....well, you'll just lose control of the whole darn thing.  Quilts are like kids.  You can only control them if you've got a tight grip.  Loosen your grip and they're going to wiggle their way loose.

5.  Use thread that is the same color as your background.  Thread should be inconspicuous but always there in the background impacting the beauty of the quilt.  Kind of like when you're a mother-in-law.  I mean we all know that mothers-in-law have to fade into the woodwork the moment the wedding is over but if you work it right you're still in control...the kids just don't know it.  :)

6.  If it's 2:30 a.m. don't swear under your breath that you're going to finish this or die trying.  Because you will.  Quilts hear everything and they love a practical joke so they will silently fold themselves under so that just when you think you're finished you'll discover you've quilted one corner to another corner.  And while that might be unique in a finished quilt it will be hard to bind.

7.  Don't drink red wine while quilting.  Or grape KoolAid.  Or Mtn. Dew.  Or Red Bull.  All of those things will make you think you are the greatest quilter who ever lived.  But you aren't.  I'm just guessing about the red wine and the Mtn. Dew and the Red Bull but the grape KoolAid definitely is banned from my sewing room.

8.  The definition of stippling is something like "sewing in a meandering way without ever crossing any of the previous sewing".  I didn't I didn't look it up and I didn't write the dictionary but that ought to be close.  If you're stippling and you like loops, add one or two or seven.  If you want to cross from here to there do it and smile.  And if you end up with a particularly weird place on your quilt then point it out to the recipient and say, "every time you see this think of me - I was waving my hand and winking at you when I sewed this so you'll always remember me." And they'll go "Awwwww, so sweet."

9.  If you think that wall hanging will take you about an hour to quilt, add three to it and you might have it right.  Give yourself plenty of time because if you rush you won't take your foot completely off the pedal (see number 2 above) and you'll forget that you have red thread in the bobbin until you've finished the quilting and turn it over to see the white background.  Oops.

10.  This is the most important rule of all.  Put a lock on your sewing room door.  Husbands, children and pets should be banned from the sewing room when you're quilting.  They have urgent requests that you won't be able to ignore.  And even though you think you can quilt and answer, I repeat from number 7 above, you're not that great a quilter.  And besides that their requests aren't really urgent.  If they tried they could find the milk in the refrigerator, the dog in the backyard, and the clean pair of jeans folded on their bed.

Okay that's all the rules I have for today.  It's 2:30 a.m. and I've got a quilt to finish quilting.  I think I'll have some KoolAid to take to the sewing room with me.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

The Money That Doesn't Exist

A friend and I were having one of those heart-to-heart discussions this week that women often have.  We vent to each other because universally we understand that despite the fact that you're complaining about your husband you still adore him and think he's much better than the person's husband you're complaining to.  You do understand that, right?  She was bemoaning something her husband had bought her that was totally useless, unwanted, and even a bit bizarre.  His heart was in the right place.  Maybe.

According to her they have available money in three "places" when they want to buy something.  First is, as you would think, the checking account.  The CA as we'll call it was to be used to pay the normal monthly bills, buy groceries, purchase necessities, and occasionally splurge on a new dress.  Second was the credit card.  This was to be avoided unless buying on line where it's virtually the only safe way.  The credit card bill was to be paid out of the checking account each month.

This all sounds wonderfully responsible, right?  But I mentioned three places....what's the third place.  Number Three is the Savings Account, which gets a regular deposit each month.  Again, fiscally sound.  However, according to her, once the money is deposited into the Savings Account it then becomes "the money that doesn't exist."  The "money that doesn't exist" disappears from his mind.  The "money that doesn't exist" isn't available because it...well, it doesn't exist.  Their stove went out.  It was an old stove and this wasn't unexpected.  But rather than take  money out of the Savings Account and buy one he surmised, because that money didn't exist after all, that they should just eat out until they had saved money from their checking account for a month or two or three, and could pay cash for the stove.  In his mind they had no money to buy a stove with.  You don't charge things when you don't have to.  The "money that doesn't exist", doesn't exist so you can't buy anything with it.  Ergo, you save until you have it.  But you can't put that money you're saving into the Savings Account because if you do it becomes "money that doesn't exist".

Is this a male thing?  For me, all money exists and is waiting for me to access it.  But I wonder if that groaning I hear coming from my husband occasionally is his reaction to me using some of the "money that doesn't exist".  :)

Friday, November 4, 2011

Ghastlie Day Ten!

It's been a blast but as they say...we really have to go.  Today's the last day of the Ghastlie Blog Hop so be sure you don't miss a one!

ON Friday November 4th

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Ghastlie Day Nine!

Oh no, tell me it's not true!  Today is the next-to-the-last Ghastlie party!  Don't miss a one of these:

ON Thursday November 3rd

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Ghastlie Day Eight!

We're counting down to the end ya'll - that makes me sad.  :(  But we still have today and two more to see the wonderful, amazing, Ghastlie creations that have been dreamed up to delight you.  Check out these today!

ON Wednesday November 2nd

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Ghastlie Day Seven!

On Tuesday, November 1st (Can you believe it's November already?) these Ghastlie posts will amaze and astound you!