Sunday, July 13, 2008

Signs of Summer

I've been a bit obsessed here lately trying to get ideas for my summer four season's swap. I've had three or four different directions and nothing seems to be working out. UGH. And possibly -- Help?!?

Anyway, in my search for things that are quintessentially "summer" -- I thought I would share some of my ideas that haven't suggested HOW to work themselves out into fabric.

Is this just an American thing or does tinny, loud music coming slowly down the street raise the heartbeat and excitement of children all over the world? Because you just KNOW this guy is coming down the street and your parents can be talked into a before dinner treat?

And that for just a couple of dollars (or less) there are choices to be made for a cool and refreshing treat.

Or that sitting on the back porch with your prize in hand and totally spoiling your dinner is a wonderful way to spend a lazy summer afternoon?

Of course, some of this idyllic splendor is done to the back drop of Eddie Murphy chanting "I got my ice cream" in my head...but I think that has to be part of being a child of the 80's.

There has to be a quilt in there someplace doesn't there? Please? Anyway, my fabric angst aside -- hope you've enjoyed a slice of my summer.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Crossing T's

Just a bit of a quickie post for today since Mom will be here in a couple of hours and I still need to finish some cleaning and errands. I also have no idea if I will have time to post until after the 4th -- so Happy B-day (kind of) USA! More immediately importantly to my family -- Mom's b-day is on the 5th so there will be some clebratin' going on here.

So -- the final cross stitch examples from Mom's house. This little kitty is dated though I can't make it out all that well -- I think it was from '87 and that sounds about right. I have no idea of the pattern on this one or where it's from but it's cute.

And this little Angel is one I finished in '87 as well. It seems that was a good year for cross stitch. Hmmn. This one is a Mar Beck angel. One of these came out a year for a long time, and Mom collected all of the patterns. Of course, this is the only one that was ever completed -- but, hey. The patterns are there if I ever decide to give up quilting -- yeah, like that's gonna happen!

Thanks for hanging out with me as I traipsed through my Mom's house -- I know she has other samples of my work, but, well, these were the easy ones to find. Oddly enough, I think I only have three samples of my own work in my house. Oh well, I'd rather quilt anyway :0).

Monday, June 30, 2008

Summer School Part II

Thanks to all of you for your support of the summer sickness and sunburn post. I really hadn't noticed how negative it was until I reread it -- not really my intention. So, as a bit of an antidote I thought I would post a few more "summer school" lessons that have been a blast and a half.

A clear empty jar with a few holes punched in the lid, dusk, and a few handfuls of fireflies (lightning bugs, whatever) make for a good hour's worth of giggles and excitement.

Rainy days are a wonderful excuse to play with inexpensive picture frames, leftover tissue paper, glue and glitter.

I love seeing the smile on my daughter's face when she's made a "project" "all on her own" (we won't mention the help from mommy now will we?).

Despite the idiocy of her mother forgetting to put on sunscreen -- watching my brave girl willing to jump right into the "big pool" with no fear -- reminds me to have a little less fear of my own. (and also keeps my eyes WIDE open and alert -- bravery is one thing, safety an entirely different concept)

Warm days and lovely nights equal good sleeping weather and lots of fun at the park and pool.

Pretty good lessons overall, though, still not much time left for crafting and/or blogging. Oh well, I'll get caught up on my blog reading and my project list SOMEDAY!

I also thought I'd share some more photos of the patchwork balls I have hanging around the house. These are the ones I made for my daughter (except for the Halloween one -- that one was made by a dear friend as she was tempting me to want to make them on my own -- evil, evil woman that she is). Even without using the photo transfers they're a fun little project. Most of these were made with scraps from other projects and done in a night or two (except for the big mutha in the back, that one took a bit more time).

And to give you an idea of the size of these things, this is the smallest ball in my hand. My husband keeps telling me it's the perfect size for a juggling ball and that he'd like a couple more of them -- I keep saying it is made up of an awful lot of triangle pieces.

Though, I can't help thinking that this one with the stars would be fun to try again -- maybe in patriotic colors for the fourth? Hmmn...not that I need another project anytime soon.

Speaking of projects, I need to get back to today's task -- Mom will be here tomorrow for a visit so need to get my stuff out of her room :0).

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Summer School

Nope, I'm not talking about actual school. You know, the kind with teachers (though, since I am one, that's debatable) and desks and regulated lessons. I'm talking about the kind of "school" life gives you. You know, the kind of lessons you learn the hard way? Over the last two weeks I've learned quite a bit from that kind of school. I thought I might share some of my lessons with you.
  1. Explaining to a 3 year old that while the weather is FINALLY perfect for going to the pool and playing in the park she can't because she has a fever is darned near impossible.

  2. Explaining to the same child that while she may FEEL better, she is still contagious with strep throat and STILL cannot go outside even though she went to the doctor and got medicine is even harder than explaining the part about the fever. (her faith in the medical profession and medicine is a bit scary at times too)

  3. My patience with dealing with icky bodily fluids is getting less and less the closer Miss Tinkerbell is to being fully potty trained.

  4. The word diarrhea when repeated over and over again by a 3 year old because she finds it amusing is almost as icky as cleaning it up (see above).

  5. Buying new underwear is occasionally the better part of valor. (See numbers 3 and 4 above)

  6. When the stars finally align and the weather, child, and activities finally combine for the first trip to the pool for the year, Mommy points are given for remembering to slather the child with sunscreen. An equal number of intelligence points are removed for forgetting to put sunscreen on your own back.

  7. Burgundy, while a lovely color and one I usually look good in, is not as appealing when it is the color of your skin.

  8. Keeping a child amused when all you want to do is lay on your stomach and moan about how much you hurt is not easy.

  9. Growing new skin itches. A lot. And of course, the worst itches occur in places you can't reach easily on your own.

  10. Door jams and walls are your friends. Chair backs also work well.

  11. While learning (or relearning in the case of the sunburn -- some lessons it seems need to be repeated periodically) the above, it's near impossible to do anything of a crafty or blog reading nature.

So, as you can see I've been a diligent student these past two weeks. Many, many lessons have been learned. Now to see if I can remember how to use my sewing machine. I THINK I just may be able to.

And, well, since I just realized how long it's been since I posted ANYTHING that even vaguely resembles a quilt, a photo from my Mom's house of a quilt like object. I still have more cross stitch to show but come on, it's not like the title of this blog is cross stitch in cornfields. Ok, so it comes with a cute photo of my daughter too. Sue me.

And another photo of the same thing only in its actual resting place. This is a patchwork puzzle ball from the Jenny Beyer book that came out a couple of years ago. Oddly enough, one of the few projects I've hand pieced. I made this for Christmas 2005 and substituted fabric photo transfers for some of the pieces. It worked out well and I've done it a few more times for other memory balls. I actually really like making these -- Miss Tinkerbell has a set of them here at the house. A great baby gift really. Soft balls that young children can throw around without too much possibility of breaking things. I should try and get photos of the others we have in the pit that is my house.

Hopefully I will have more crafty (and quilty) goodness to show soon. I've gotten some lovely mail and I think I may FINALLY have a chance to get some sewing done tomorrow. Wish me luck!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Completely Cross

Nope, it has nothing to do with my mood (though talk to me again in a couple of hours after I have finished digging out cleaning my bedroom. No, I will not share pictures. Even I have SOME level of shame at the state it's in -- though in my own defense I will say that when your husband works third shift (and sleeps days) and you don't -- this leaves precious little time for things like, um, cleaning in the place where it seems one of you is usually sleeping :0).

Nope, the title of the post has to do with the content. Enough of you asked (well, honestly, since I can't show most of what I'm currently working on no one really HAD to ask) to see some of the other cross stitch projects I found hanging out at my Mom's. Literally. See? Hanging out? Yeah, I think my career in comedy is doomed.

So, anyway -- this wall pretty much spans a 10-15 year period in my crafty life. Teddy here was done while I was in high school. Your basic alphabet sampler with a cute teddy bear in the middle. Don't ask me about the pattern -- I want to say it was a Prairie something...

Bunny here -- about the same time period and I think both Mom and I worked on this one. Um, yep -- I checked out the photo and there's our joint signature there in the corner.

And the um, large piece in the center. Yeah -- I TRIED to get a good photo of this one, but well, glare, glass, no go. Let me first say that this piece is HUGE. I've made quilts for humans that are not as wide. It's bulky and heavy in the frame and I wasn't risking taking it down off the wall. Let me also say, this was a JOINT effort between my Mom and I. It took us several years of stitching to complete and I think it was finished sometime in the late 80's, early 90's. I do remember working on it in high school mostly though. All three of these pieces were done on aida cloth (anywhere between 16 and 22 count) with DMC threads.

This one -- yeah this one has a story to tell. You see, in the summer of 1996 my Mom brought a project home for me to work on. One of my cousins was getting married in the fall and Mom wanted me to stitch he and his wife-to-be a wedding sampler. Ok -- not the first time I'd done it for a relative nor the first time Mom had volunteered me for a project. But hey -- I was in grad school, it was summer, I had no job, sure, why not? Except, once I got a good look at the project the conversation went something like this:

"Um, Mom -- this pattern says it needs to be done on linen. I don't work on linen, I don't know how, I only know how to work on aida"

"I know -- but you can do it in aida"

"Are you sure?"

"It will be fine"

Is anyone getting the feeling these were famous last words? Yeah -- turns out the wedding sampler pattern called for linen for a reason. (and no, I DON'T have a photo of the sampler -- must see about correcting that at some point since it was a pain in the patootie beautiful piece when finished) See, the words? (click on the link and you will see a photo of the pattern I was working from -- and no, I didn't do the full thing, but most of it) The words needed to be done over a single thread. Something possible in linen or other evenweave fabrics, but NOT in aida. Have I mentioned that the wedding sampler was on a DEADLINE?

So what does an adorable Halloween piece with bats and pumpkins and an alphabet have to do with a wedding sampler? Meet my very first piece done on evenweave fabric. I taught myself how to work on this so I could do the wedding sampler. A new skill learned -- which is cool. I discovered I actually prefer working on linen anyway. Though, honestly? I made this piece for myself. Once Mom got it framed though -- um, yeah. Notice where it's hanging. Ok -- so I made a second one for myself that summer. My Aunt saw it and decided she wanted it. I have the stuff to make one for myself -- somewhere. It's now 2008? (and no Mom, you will never be allowed to forget this)

The final piece on that wall? It was a Mill Hill Beads kit circa 1999-2000. It was cute, I was bored, and I hadn't started quilting yet. Sorry -- I think one long winded story is enough for one post don't you? :0) Though, when looking for a link to Mill Hill I did see that they have some new Jim Shore stitching kits for any of you so inclined.

I do still have a couple more pieces from Mom's house to show if you haven't fallen into a non-quilt related coma on my blog that is :0). But, I hear the dust bunnies plotting the overthrow of the humans in this house so wish me luck as I go into battle.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Seven Random Things

Not much going on here crafty wise in my corner of the cornfields (well, that's not entirely true, I'm working on a couple of projects that I can't show and the weather stinks so no good pictures of the things I HAVE finished. UGH) so today you get a meme :0). KathieB over at Threadlines tagged me for this one yesterday. I have done it before, but since it's been a year, I figure you can put up with another 7 random things about me :0).

1. I started first grade when I was 4 years old. Yes, there's a long story here. Nope, I'm not gonna bore you with it. But since I was already reading chapter books by that time, I figure that starting school was a good thing.

2. Speaking of reading, I can, and often do, read a novel a day. BT (before Tinkerbell) I would often read more than one novel in a day. We're not talking War and Peace here people, but your average mass market novel, yeah. Your average trashy romance novel? Um, 2-3 hours tops. This has meant I've had a personal library of well over 200 books for most of my life, and currently means my public library folks look at me funny when I check out 5-10 books at a time.

3. My undergrad degree is a Bachelor's of Science in Political Science. This means I have a BS in politics. (go ahead, laugh -- I know you want to) And while, technically, the degree is a general one, 85% of my coursework was in US politics. And yes, I am finding the current electoral cycle interesting. :0)

4. At one point, I planned on being a professional musician. I was even accepted to college as a music major -- a flautist. Then I realized that while I love music, I didn't have enough talent to make a living at it without teaching music. Since I didn't want to do that, I went in another direction (see above). And no, I don't play anymore.

5. I'm scared of thunder. No, not lightning, just the darned thunder. The noise drives me nuts and makes me want to run for cover. I mask this well for my daughter and have learned to deal with it. This is a bit of a problem given that I live in the north eastern end of tornado alley and we have thunder storms all the time.

6. I am allergic to corn pollen. I live in a town surrounded by cornfields. You do the math.

7. I never memorized my multiplication tables. I got up to the 5's and realized that you can figure out all of the rest by doing simple addition so there was no point in memorizing it. I was a cheeky little thing, no? This means that to this day I still do a lot of silent adding in my head. You'd think I would have the darned things down by now wouldn't you?

So there you go, seven random facts about me (and if you feel the need to click on the link to last year's list -- seven more for you).

And since what's a post without photos, here's one I've been meaning to post since February. While I was at my Mom's house I unearthed (well, not so much unearthing as looking around in plain sight) not only quilts, quilts and more quilts, but also some of my early, middle and late period craft adventures. Mom is definitely the most constant recipient of my crafty efforts. So here you are, a piece from my early period, circa 1977. The very first counted cross stitch I ever completed. And since this photo doesn't show scale, that frame is, I believe, 2" x 3".

If anyone is interested, I've got a few photos of other finished stitched work to share as well. And since the weather report is saying I won't have decent light for photos of what I AM working on for another 4-5 days, um, you may get to see those pieces whether you want to or not :0).

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Where DOES the time go

Really, I want to know.
It seems like just yesterday I was putting my daughter in her crib for the first time. She was soooo tiny.
And in a blink there she was learning to smile and seeing herself in a mirror for the first time.

And another blink and poof -- she's really too big to be in that crib. Though, she still seems to be enjoying playing with her feet. Hmmmn.

Nope, no doubt about it -- time to go out with the old, and in with the new, cribless, era. Hmmmn...needs a quilt. Of course, that would mean I'd have to get off my duff and finish it. Though discovery of a slight construction error (ok, so my seam allowance was so far off that one of the strips on a block is a scant 1/16" or maybe 1/32"?) means I need to remake one of the blocks. Thank goodness I have more of the fabrics (there is SOMETHING to be said for over purchasing fabrics at times).

But she seems to love her major present even if Mommy didn't finish her blankie.

And this is my roundabout way of saying a, belated, Happy birthday to my Miss Tinkerbell. Her actual birthday was Sunday but we spent most of last week and the weekend celebrating. Can you guess how old she is? And I still want to know -- where DOES all of that time go?

So Happy Birthday Tinkerbell. I'm glad your day (days) were special.

And just so I don't seem like a total craft slacker, I DID finish one of her hand made gifts. I finally finished the sewing up of her pink and purple fairy dress. And she loved it so much when she opened it she HAD to put it on RIGHT then. Sniff. It does a mother proud. Though, looking at the photo -- um, need to do something about that skirt and the ties on the top need to be tied lower...hmmnn.

Though, to be honest, the fairy dress did get put away when another present showed up. Priorities hunh? So here's to time passing, even if I don't know where it's gone. As for me? Um, I think I hear a leftover cupcake calling my name...

Saturday, May 24, 2008


How do you combat a nasty little realization you've come to? For me...I go out and do things to my hair. Or, well, pay to have them done anyway. After a lovely 2 hours at the salon today, this is what I came home with.

What do you think? You can be honest here.

And a better view of the colors. Yes, colors. There are three in there. Hey -- if only one color is not enough for a quilt, why in the world should I limit my hair color?

As a comparison -- this is what I'm changing from. Picture from the visit to the lilacs -- though, well, it was looking pretty scary in this photo. We won't mention the inch or so of grey that was showing at the roots either. I know this doesn't show how long the old cut was -- but, um, I looked while they were sweeping up after my cut. They filled a dustpan with the hair. And then some. I think she said I had about 6" cut off. Wow -- my neck feels so breezy.

Oh, and side note -- do you have any idea how hard it is to take a picture of yourself? Yeah -- most of them ended up with me looking really surprised. Or ticked off. Or just otherwise strange. Though, looking at these photos -- I REALLY need to get my eyebrows done. EEEK. Now that's scary. (and Mom -- here you go, photos of the new hair as promised, and Elaine -- challenge of posting a photo of myself met!)

And yep, this is the only "cutting" that has been going on around here this week as well. Though, I am hoping to try and get that changed this weekend. Fingers crossed for some quality time with my rotary cutter and sewing machine.

As for the realization that sent me running for the drastic cut and color? Um, yeah -- I finally got around to doing some cleaning and organizing. I put away my fabrics (well most of them) that I've been collecting over the past six months. When I finished cramming stuffing shoving placing them in my fabric bins, I realized I have NO ROOM LEFT in my fabric storage area for any more fabric. Not even for a fat quarter or two. And, well, I may still have fabrics that need to be put away. So -- the quandary -- do I stop buying fabrics and use what I have to make room for new things (the prudent, adult, responsible thing to do) or do I figure out somewhere else to store my fabrics? I mean, Miss Tinkerbell is only three right? She can't possibly need a WHOLE closet to herself. Her clothes are SMALL right?

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Tools of the Trade

So, here I was saying I was going to post more often and a week goes by. Well, I'd love to say I've been busy, busy, busy so I have tons to share today. I'd love to say it. I just, well, can't. I haven't finished a darned thing since last week. I haven't even really worked on much. Of course, it could be because I've been working (YEAH!!!) and trying to figure out a furniture move because of a birthday gift that will be arriving next week (we won't mention the quilt that supposed to go with this one -- um, it's still in the same state as it was here. Don't ask).

Honestly? The only creative cutting I've done in the past week was with this guy. One of the local Lutheran (I think?) churches has an annual lobster boil as a fund raiser. It's become a tradition to pick up lobsters and have a family meal with my in-laws and grandparents-in law. She was yummy by the way.

So, since I have a lack of anything new to post -- how about a post I've been meaning to do for, oh, let's say the past 7 months or so. While working on some projects, I realized just how many of my favorite quilting/sewing notions did not start out having anything to do with quilting.

These for instance. Yes, they are nothing more than strips of cardboard (in this case from a saltines box I think) that have been cut down to a specific width. I think these are 1/2" and 3/4" in the photo. So why have them around? They are my secret to pressing an accurate seam allowance when necessary. For most piecing this isn't a problem, but for making bags, etc. they always have instructions for pressing an edge. Fold the fabric over my strip, press, and move on. No muss, no fuss. And yes, I know there is actually a sewing notion you can use for this -- but let me just say those little metal seam gauges? with the little plastic slide thing? Yeah, I've toasted more than one with my iron. Not to mention toasting my fingers. Ick. These are long enough that my fingers stay OUT of the way and gives a longer surface area to iron. Plus, if I ruin one (or lose it) -- replacements are just a breakfast cereal box away. I have a whole set of these on hand for seam allowance of every size. I would love to take credit for this idea -- but, well, it was in a pattern for a bag I made awhile ago. A shame I can't claim it -- but, there you go.

And this, one of my favorite tools of all time, the humble chopstick. More importantly the humble, wooden, take out chopstick. I have several sets of very nice chopsticks here at the house. They are NOT the sort that you throw away at the end of the meal. We like using them and pretending that we are civilized. So, what to do with the throwaways that come home? Well -- they make GREAT turning and stuffing tools. Why spend lots of money when I've got a drawer full of these suckers? And honestly? If it's a good quality take away chopstick -- it lasts forever.

Another favorite, though this one IS actually intended for fabric, my Downey Wrinkle Release spray. I LOVE this stuff. Yes, it is meant for ironing and clothing. I don't really iron clothing. Not if I can help it that is. But, for fabrics that have been folded and stored for a bit -- those stubborn wrinkles that WILL NOT come out? A spray or two of this, a quick pass of the iron -- voila! They are gone, baby, gone! And, since I'm of the "I'm not washing it until I absolutely have to" school of thought when it comes to my fabrics -- that crease line from the fold on the bolt? It gets rid of those too :0).

My final favorite non-quilting, quilting notion? No, this isn't a mistake -- bottled water. You see -- I love me some steam when I'm pressing my seams. Oh, who am I kidding -- seams, fabric, anything really. I almost always use steam (exceptions here for use of fusibles that say NO STEAM). However, my favorite Rowenta iron does NOT like my tap water. While modern irons are designed to use water that has SOME particulates -- the stuff that comes out of my tap has a few too many for mine. Tap water around here = spitting, lime/calcium build up, etc. Add in the radon warnings we keep getting about our local water supply in the mail -- um, yeah, not so much a fan of my tap water. I mean, I do drink the stuff from the tap -- but, well, my iron gets treated a bit better than I do :0).

So there you have it -- my favorite non-quilting (or at least non-quilting in their first life) quilting notions. What are some of your favorites?

Monday, May 12, 2008

Under the Lilacs

The title of today's post pretty much describes how I spent part of my weekend (thank you Louisa May Alcott for the lovely title as well). Spring seems to finally have come to Northern Illinois and the lilacs are in full bloom. While I don't have any planted near my house, there is a park in the suburbs where I can go and be in absolute lilac heaven.

The park has literally hundreds (if not thousands) of lilac bushes along winding paths. The number of varieties of lilacs are amazing as well. It's enough to make me wish I had a place where I could plant dozens of bushes. The scent is just heavenly. We could smell the fragrance a block and 1/2 away from the park entrance. Mmmmnnn.

The trip to the park for the day was my Mother's Day gift from my husband and daughter. (though my daughter also brought home a plaster of paris hand print she made at daycare -- I always wondered if the stuff I made for my Mom was appreciated. Being on the receiving end now -- oh yeah, it was. The darned thing had me tearing up) It's all I asked for and it was just perfect. Because of the weather forecast we went on Saturday and had a great time playing in the park and looking at the flowers.

As you can see from the photos, Lilacs are not the only attraction -- there are tons and tons of tulips as well. When I've gone in the past the tulips were pretty much gone before the lilacs were ready. This year? Oh my!

And the varieties of tulips were amazing as well. I mean, look at this one -- yes, it is a tulip. And in the patch you see above? With pinks and light pinks that all have those multiple petals? Amazing.

One of my favorites was this grouping. There has to be a quilt in this somehow. The orange with the white and deep purple against the spring green? Oh my, oh my.

One of the nicest parts of the park is the fact that they clearly label all of the varieties of lilacs and tulips. That orange tulip that I fell in love with? Imagine my surprise when I found out its name. I KNEW there was a reason I fell in love with it. It shares a name with one of my favorite quilt blogs. (Hi Clare!) And if any of you think I've been googling tulip bulb suppliers and dreaming of planting some of these beauties in the fall? would be absolutely correct.

All in all it was a perfect way for me to spend my Mother's Day celebration. Add in the fact that I got a wonderful package in the mail last week with my Spring Four Seasons quilt in it? Oh yeah, what more could I ask for? Gwen of Scrappy Angel Quilts was my partner and I LOVE my spring baskets. I can't wait to hang it up in my office.

In addition to the wonderful quilt, she also sent some yummy sock yarns for me to play with. This should be some serious inspiration to actually FINISH the purple socks that have been languishing around here (yes, they are still in the same state as they are in that post -- ugh). I know what pattern I want to try next and now I have the yarn to play with. I just have to decide on whether to use the green or the purple/blue/yellow/green combo. Decisions, decisions. Either way THANK YOU GWEN!!!!

And speaking of knitting...I did manage to get something finished this weekend! The sweater I started for my daughter way back in February, the one I confidently claimed would be ready for Easter?, I finally got around to finishing it this weekend. Finally. And it fits!

Mostly. It seems in the 2+ months since I started this one my little one has gotten taller. Not any heavier, but taller. The sleeves fit perfectly. It fits around her waist with room to spare. But, um the length?!? Yeah, it's a bolero sweater. This is fine -- it's for spring so it's cool. I'm thinking she may need a little empire waist dress to go under it though. At the time I started this (and finished knitting the front and back sections) the measurements worked with a bit of room to spare. Now?? Yeah. Oh well -- such is life when making things for children. :0). And since I stole took the yarn from my Mom's stash with permission, you can't beat the price :0).

So, that's it from the cornfields for today. I'm trying to finish up a few projects so hopefully I will have more to report soon!

Thursday, May 8, 2008

It's ALIVE...

Or, rather, I am. Really. I seriously can't believe it's been over a month since I posted to my blog, but I am still alive and kicking. As for what's been keeping me away from my blog (and most of the blogs I regularly read too -- we won't even go into how many posts bloglines says I haven't read) take your pick from the following:
  • Sick husband

  • Sick child

  • Child deciding to learn how to slide head first into home plate but using a steel door frame as her target

  • The blahs (probably the biggest reason folks -- I was having a major tail end of winter funk that just would not go away)

  • Getting some substitute teaching jobs (love the money, teaching, etc. but you usually don't find out whether or not you are working the next day until sometime between 6 and 9 pm)

  • Scratching an eye because of something getting in my contact lens which made light painful and meant I had to wear my soooo out of date glasses for two weeks (um, yeah, I actually had to try and thread a quilting between during that period -- luckily Tink was asleep or she would have had way too many new words to add to her vocabulary. This was also another major reason for not posting -- when it hurts to look at a computer screen, um, yeah.)

And -- just because I'm in the mood for lists here are some sure signs you haven't posted to your blog in much too long:

  • You get wonderful emails from blog friends asking if you are ok. (thank you everyone who wrote -- I'm catching up on my email so if you haven't heard from me yet -- you will soon!)

  • You get a call from one of your favorite quilt shop owners saying you haven't written on the blog lately and she and the staff are wondering if you are ok. (thank you for calling -- it means a whole lot to me -- I'll be in soon!)

  • Every conversation with your mother includes a reminder that you need to post to your blog.

Soooo -- what have I been up to in the past month? Well...I did hold the drawing for my 1 year/100th + post giveaway. Tink decided when I asked her to "mix" the slips of paper that she absolutely needed to use a spoon to do it. Hey, who am I to argue? She also decided that "one" was not enough -- so she chose two names: Gwen of Scrappy Angel Quilts and Lisa of Upstatelisa. I DID notify the winners via email. Now to just get their packages in the mail (it isn't just the blog that I'm behind on folks...).

I also managed to finish a gift for a coworker of my mother's who retired in April. This is someone who has been a great help to my mother and who has been generous in her praise of my humble efforts at crafting. I just HAD to make her something. After seeing a book that had some wonderful Japanese designs I decided to use a sashiko/applique design of a cherry blossom (a sakura) but instead of the sashiko technique use western embroidery. I then turned it into a decorative pillow with some pretty spring colored fabrics. I LOVE how this piece turned out. It's hard to tell from the photo (click to make it bigger) but the embroidery is done in pale pinks that shade out to almost white. I think I'm going to have to try this one again -- maybe with one of the other traditional Japanese designs.

I also finished my Four Seasons Spring piece!!! Wooo Hoooo! I'm kind of conflicted about this one. One the one hand, I put a lot of myself into it. It represents a lot of hours and a lot of things I haven't experimented with before. It's the first piece I've ever hand quilted that had seams. (check another thing off of my new year's list). It's the first piece I've ever done that has incorporated both knitting and quilting. Yes, call me an over achiever -- but that lace edging is the one I was working on here.

And, yes, the base of this piece is the trip around the world I talked about here. I took some of the suggestions and added embroidery to try and make it pop a bit more. There's a bit in the upper right hand corner.

And a bigger section in the lower left. I also added in some knit flowers to add some dimension. So why the conflict? Well -- I love the individual elements, but, somehow, I'm just not sure about the finished piece. This one is also just, well, despite the fact that I designed most of it -- just so not ME. Maybe because of it, it was really hard to let this one go. I think I may have to repeat this one again. It is on its way to its new owner and I hope she enjoys it. I really did have fun making it, even if I am a bit unsure about how it turned out. Maybe it's just nerves.

Yikes -- I don't post for over a month and then I end up going on and on. I do have more to say (so since when is that a surprise) and show (you should see the lovely swap piece I received -- and you will, I promise!) but I think this one is getting a bit long! I'll post more soon. I won't promise tomorrow, but hopefully this weekend!