Irish Lake Quilter

......snippets and quilts, family, pets and friends....

Thursday, March 29, 2007

The Stash and the Pink and Green

The tulips and the daffodils are shivering but at least they are up and trying to bloom! Such a wonderful time of the year!!
We've been asked to share pictures of our sewing areas and/or our stash. Oh my.... since I moved upstairs, there hasn't been a lot of time to trade the stash closet with the Christmas closet (old guest room). However, the stash hasn't changed much since I took this last picture. The white bins/drawers are scraps and strips and there are batting packages on the top shelf. You can see the end of the board I made that fits on top of the ironing board. In addition, I have 3 small color coded drawer stacks of smaller pieces. I'm beginning to feel as if the stash is now manageable. In January, I gave away yards of stuff I knew I wouldn't use. Some of it has already been made into quilts by a couple of Stashbuster friends.

My pink and is amazing how one starts off on one journey with a quilt and it ends up being totally different than ever expected. That is this top (upside down). It was to have been an all applique quilt of 25 blocks. It soon became apparent that the kind of applique that was in it wasn't my favorite (too "chunky") so after 6 blocks I decided that some chunky pieced blocks would be good. A border? Swags - chunky ones. wrong. At this time I am making the swags narrower and will put some simple flowers between each one, scallop the edges, quilt and bind. White, pink or green binding?
In the meantime we have our house pretty much back to normal and will move son Chris this weekend from a roommate/apartment situation to a condo. Next week we have canasta club here, but there will be some time for stitching, I'm sure.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

The floors are done. It isn't a pretty site in two places, but we are moving forward - no more refinishing for us in this house. We went to the cottage until the odor dissipated, and thanks to son Michael who monitored things, kept fans blowing, windows and doors opened, it wasn't too bad when we returned last night. At the cottage we got things ready for summer and we're looking forward to some time to enjoy the loons, our friends and get into relaxation mode. We may even replace the garage this summer. Sounds like a project the guys can really get into! The grass was green and the trees starting to bud. We're not quite so advanced here but at least the tulips and daffodils are a couple of inches out of the ground! Great sunshine and warm weather here today - just maybe we're in for some outside delight!

I find it more interesting to post a picture whenever I post on my blog but since my quilting has taken a back seat to house chores, I'm posting a picture of a quilt that our guild did two years ago. It was an effort of many people. My part, unplanned completely, was to finish the applique borders and to "fix" some of the applique that needed a bit of help and then, with a friend, to assemble the blocks. The border was done in blocks as well. It turned out to be a beautiful quilt - wish I could have won it! Jan Taylor Anderson designed it. She has a great method for doing Mariner's Compass blocks and one of these days I will make one. Don't you think the colors and the design are awesome? She really has great patterns.
Once we get the dust cleaned off of everything and things back into place, I'll get back into the sewing room and find my way back to quilting. I'm having trouble staying on task - I'd rather be quilting!!!

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Lime Green in the Spring

When the weather starts to warm up, Jim brings out his favorite toy. For you Boomers, it is a muscle car from the 70's. When I met Jim in 1971, he had just purchased his Buick Gran Sport, 4 on the floor convertible. It has an extra powerful engine in it and will scoot down the road with little effort. Not the kind of car we would encourage our sons to purchase!! We dated in this car for four years before getting married. It served us well but at the time we lived in Cleveland and as you know, there is lots of snow on the east side of that town! The rear end just goes every which way on slippery surfaces so we bought something more practical and this one sat, not being used much at all and it started rusting out. My brother's company car was eliminated and he needed something temporary. So, the green car went to Indiana. Then the engine needed work, we had kids and no time to mess with the car, we had moved to Chicago with no place to store it, brother didn't need it any more so Jim said "get rid of it". They hauled it away on a flatbed. Once it was gone, we bemoaned the fact that we had not made the effort to keep it. For years we read the newspapers looking for something that would come close. We half heartedly tried to find out who had taken the car, but never really put a lot into it. One day several years later, my brother called and said "I think I found Jim's car". He knew we were missing it (do I sound like it has life? :>) He said he was driving thru Fort Wayne and saw it sitting on a car lot near there and was I still interested in getting it back. Knowing that Jim would be ecstatic, I didn't tell him until after I had called the dealership to figure out if it was the same car or not. When the guy said it had a trailer hitch on the back with a wire for pulling a trailer, I knew it was the right one! Jim has always been involved in Boy Scouts and pulling a scout trailer on camp outs was one of his things to do. The original paper work was still with it with Jim's name as well. We drove to Fort Wayne the following day and purchased the car - for nearly twice what he paid for it.

Now the car sits in our extra garage bay and gets driven just for fun. Our youngest, Michael, taught himself how to drive the stick shift and now takes it out for joy rides with his friends. So far this year, it has been out a couple of times because as soon as the temp starts to climb in the spring, the car comes out and we "cruise" to DQ, A&W, to the Cruise In at Mickey D's or just around town. Fun! If only we were so young again!

Monday, March 19, 2007

Today the sun and temp are gorgeous here in Northern IL! The sky is blue and the clouds are few and far between. Maybe spring is just around the corner. This morning as I was putzing around the kitchen, I noticed a flurry of activity in our very small back yard. It was a sizeable red-tail hawk chasing a squirrel. The squirrel must have been familiar with the deck area (they eat all the bird seed at the feeder :>) because he darted under one of the benches that we have out there and hunkered down. The hawk landed above him and sat there long enough for me to call Jim to take a look. Neither of us have ever seen a hawk up close. I swear his head turned in circles! Anyway, the squirrel sat there all hunched up and eventually the hawk got tired of waiting and flew off into the woods. Mr. Hawk has been around most of the day so the feeder is rather quiet.

The floors, the floors. They will be done on Thursday. Jim and I will head off to the cottage and get it opened for the summer while the workers are here. We can get the cob webs cleaned up, the windows washed and do our annual Pick-Up Sticks routine in the yard. Our son Michael will have fend for himself while the floor guys are here. Not being able to get upstairs didn't stop him last summe - He put a ladder to the bedroom window and climbed in! He may do that again, but the smell from the coating is pretty ugly. We've advised that he find a friend's house for crashing. The picture is what my living room currently looks like. Disaster! Oh well, we're hoping that the 3rd time (in 3 years) will be a charm.

The rail fence quilt is finished and ready to go to the quilter. It will be kind of nice when it is done but right now it looks a bit ragged. I did it on point and put 6-7 rows together and did the same on the second half. You guessed it! When I went to put the two halves together, I had pattern matching pattern as opposed to off-setting patterns. ARGH!! I took the outside row off and moved it to the other side making my rectangular quilt a square one. Oh dear.......but it's OK. It's made from leftovers from another quilt and will be a snuggle one at the cottage. It may end up being one of our favorites!

Jim is off getting his "baby" appraised. When he gets home, I'll get a picture of it and tell you the story. Kinda fun!

Thursday, March 15, 2007

The daffodils and the irises are just beginning to poke their tips through the ground today. The 70* that we had yesterday was just enough to coax them up, out and toward the sunshine. However, the 20* tonight might make them curl up and go back into the ground. I added an early spring picture looking down our street - not yet this year but hopefully, we will have all that green in a few weeks! This is truly a lovely time of year - rejuvenation by being outside and rejoicing in all that grows!

It has been sort of a busy week, but mostly just messy. Jim has been retro-fitting the kitchen and family room (all one big room) with ceiling/can lights. Shudda had them put in when we built! But he, being the ever-so-kind hubby, agreed to humor me and is working hard at doing a rather difficult job. It will make the room much brighter for these old eyes. My penance is all the dry wall dust everywhere!! To avoid this nasty mess, I went off to work on a few things in my sewing room. The rail fence, made with Holly Taylor's Cub Lake scraps (10 years+ old) has been in the works for a year or so. It just happens that this week was one where I needed some mindless work and it filled the need. I may add a small border and then will definitely do a scrappy binding. This will go to the lake cottage for snuggling on chilly nights.

Evenings bring sitting in front of the TV and applique for me. The swag at the left is one of 18 that I am working on to add to the pink and green blocks that were posted earlier. They have been working up rather quickly. It would greatly please me if they all fit with no fudging!! I am half way through this part and then will add them to the border pieces.

Next week brings more mess to the house. Our wood floors were lightly sanded 3 years ago. The finisher wasn't quite honest and put a poly finish over a glitza (oil) finish and it started to peel within a year. Last summer we had them completely sanded to the bare wood, restained and varnished. A special solution was given to me for washing the floors. However, it leaves a horrible film and the floors look pretty dreary. They also did not have the sheen as promised by the 2nd finisher. week we will completely empty the remains of my sewing items in the laundry room, the w/d, two pantries, kitchen, dining room, foyer and all the closets and place it all in the family room or in the garage. We've packed up and moved from the first floor of our home 3 times in 3 years! ARGH!! They will again screen buff and recoat the floors at no cost to us, at least $$-wise. Dust will reign until we can get everything back into place and cleaned up. Returning the furniture can't take place until a few days after the coating is put on. And....I will return to using my old standby, Shaklee Basic H, for cleaning the wood floors as it never leaves a film. Our son is moving the following weekend and then it is time for Easter. I think I'll play like a bunny and hop off into the woods!! :>) All these projects do keep one moving and the dust can't settle for long when we are busy.

For those of you with the daffodils blooming and for those who are only dreaming of them, I hope you all have a wonderful Spring-y, daffodilly kind of day!

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Favorites of Mine

The Stashbusters topic of the week is our favorite tool for quilting. I have several favorites that are the obvious ones that make quilting easier - rotary cutter, rulers, etc. However, I have two favorites. The one thing that makes my quilting life easier is my and DH's version of the commercial Big Board. It is made of 3/4" plywood, covered in several layers of Warm 'n Natural batting, (there might be something else buried in there also), and topped with a layer of ironing board fabric. We covered the board and stapled it all neatly on the back. Since it is made of 3/4" wood, it is quite heavy and doesn't move around at all, but is easily moved from one location to another if I wish and can be stored behind a door or under a bed. Currently, it is resting on my Grandmother's old wooden ironing board, perpendicular to the sewing machine and sits at elbow height while I am sewing. Each piece that gets sewn can be pressed. The board is extra long and can hold many pieces for a layout. I have a smaller one that I take on retreats or to the cottage.

My second favorite "tool" is a small pillow that I use for applique. If you have ever appliqued, you soon realize that your neck hurts after a while because you are always leaning over your work. By placing a pillow on your lap, placing your work and hands on top of the pillow and putting your feet on a small footstool, your shoulders are forced back and the neck issue goes away. I carry my little green pillow everywhere I take my is all prickly with a variety of pins and threads hanging from it, but I wouldn't be without it!

The quilt shown in the picture is my first full applique project. Grandmother's Country Album pattern came out many years ago and I, along with several others online, (Carolyn) decided to make the quilt together. We chatted often and gave each other support. I think I made this quilt at least 3 times! I kept learning new techniques and improving and as that happened, I would do the blocks over. The center cabin block still doesn't satisfy me (it's too dark), but it is done and as everyone knows, done is better than perfect! As is the norm for me, I didn't follow the pattern completely. DH built the hanger and I stained/varnished it.

DH is putting in some ceiling lights this week that I requested and retro-fitting isn't the easiest thing to do in a ceiling. They are small flood lights strategically placed, so my sewing has taken a bit of a back seat while I help him with that. (guilt? :>) The pink and green applique/pieced blocks are now a top but it is taking on a life of it's own. It just keeps growing and taking more and more time - it was going to be a simple throw-it-together -and-be-done quilt. I just haven't learned about listening to those little voices that say "try this on your quilt" or "do it this way - it will look better". Gets me into trouble every time!

We are in for some warmer weather and the snow is beginning to melt. There are still big piles of snow yet and we still can't see the grass in our yard, but the sunshine is a promise of things to come!! I hope you have a very sun-shiny kind of day!

Friday, March 2, 2007

Moving On Up!

Thank you to all who were so kind and sent birthday wishes! Aside from the fact that the number keeps getting higher, it was a great day. Among other things, Chris and girlfriend Anne, gave me a book of inspirational readings called The Quilt of Life. Michael's card played "I'm Walking on Sunshine". Fun!!

For the past several days I have been moving my sewing room from what is the laundry room to what used to be the guest room. As you all know, a laundry room (no matter how large) is a busy place and not always the best for spreading out projects. On Tuesday, the pink and green applique blocks were spread out on the floor, ready to be sewn. Little Dog was quite comfy as she slept on them and Michael was trying to dodge them as he did his laundry. ARGH!! Enough, I said, and made the decision to move to the guest room and that any overflow company would result in the use of an Aero Bed. It is rare that we need more beds, so I felt safe in emptying the guest room. Our home has wood floors thruout most of the main level and they are to be screen buffed and recoated in a couple of weeks, so everything has to be moved out of the laundry room any way. I packed most of it up and enlisted the strong back and arms of a 23 yr old son and moved to the upstairs. It is sooo cozy and I can now spread things out, walk out and close the door and avoid a lot of frustration. I still need to clean out one of the closets in that room (Christmas storage) before I can move my stash up. But that isn't a big deal - I just wanted a place to work without the need to put everything away when laundry had to be done. ahhhh.........

This is Little Dog, or Leah, Michael's pound puppy that he got while in Fort Collins a couple of years ago. She was found wandering the streets at the young age of about 6 months. We had to put our favorite pup down about a year later, so she has taken over a warm spot in our hearts. The picture below is of Big Dog (Jordan) whom Leah has replaced. The reason I'm posting her picture is to show you what a gal did for us - this is all thread and small scraps of fabrics. I sent her a picture and she duplicated it and really did a wonderful job.......the likeness is unbelieveable. It is amazing how these animals work their way into our hearts - even if they do enjoy sleeping on our quilts! :>)

Hopefully my next post will have pictures of a completed pink and green top!