Tuesday, February 21, 2012

I Hope I Nailed It!

So, remember how I said I got a little sign-up happy at the beginning of the year?  I'm having a ton of fun with all of these swaps, but it's somewhat nerve-wracking...at least for me.  Some of the people in these swaps are bonafide superstars!  I just sent these out this morning for the Potholder Pass -

I really hope my partner likes them.  I love them, but I was so nervous about choosing a design because, well, she's really, REALLY good and seems to like a lot of unique paper-piecing and super-cool stuff...stuff I didn't think I could really do.  Luckily, the pattern I ended up choosing was pretty straight-forward, but really makes an impact.  My partner commented that she liked them when I posted my in-progress pics, so hopefully the finished product will be a hit, too!

The pattern is Margaret's Daisy by Christine Thresh.  If you want to try your hand at one, here's a link to the pattern - http://www.winnowing.com/margaret.html.  Keep in mind that her pattern is for a 3" finished block.  I doubled the pattern and added a border to make my potholders.  The great thing is that the super-talented Christine gave me permission to do a tutorial of her block and show you how I enlarged her template and added the border.  I'm so excited to share it with you!  Once I get a couple more projects off my plate I will get this in order.  You'll probably crack up at my "on the fly" and "messy" approach to paper-piecing, but hopefully it'll at least be entertaining, if not helpful.

Back to the studio...time to get moving on my next swap...a pincushion for another wicked talented gal!

Monday, February 20, 2012

A Quilt From My Heart

I finished a quilt a couple of weeks ago and tomorrow it's headed to Michigan...to hopefully bring comfort to a friend.  I hope she likes it -

It's a quilt I didn't want to make.  Let me rephrase that...I would have HAPPILY made my friend a quilt any day of the week.  Seriously.  It's just the circumstances of THIS quilt make me wish it wasn't needed.  My dear friend was diagnosed with Cutaneous T-Cell Lymphoma (CTCL) last year.  As I understand it, it is typically a non-fatal, but non-curable form of cancer that involves the skin and can also involve lymph nodes, the blood, and other organs.  While my friend will mostly likely survive for a long time, she has had to go through radiation and continues to deal with treatment for her disease.  All with three small kiddos at home.  She will have CTCL for the rest of her life.

I am so glad I was able to make her a quilt, especially since I cannot be there to help her and comfort her in person.  I feel terrible about the friend I've been to her these last few years.  We were besties when our husbands were stationed at Fort Drum, NY.  We met when the guys were in the same unit.  We were at a function, in line for food and we started chatting...only to discover we went to the same college!  She graduated a year before me and, though we knew a lot of the same people, we never met.  But we became fast friends.  We had our first kiddos 11 days apart...her husband deployed shortly after their daughter was born and my hubs had left 16 days before our son was born.  For the next 10+ months the four of us did everything together...and then after the guys got back we stayed super-close. 

Both guys decided to leave the Army for other endeavors and we promised we'd visit/call/stay close.  And we did...for a long while.  They moved to South Dakota and we moved to Florida.  We had our second kids.  We stayed close.  They moved to Michigan and we moved to New Hampshire.  We had our third kids.  We stayed close...we did visit and call.  Then we just didn't as much.  I'm probably more to blame than her...much more.  I hate talking on the phone.  Sometimes she'd call and I wouldn't call her back for a week.  I'd get tired of me, too.  Anyway, over the last couple of years we've just been "Christmas Card Friends".  The sad thing is, that's how I found out she has cancer...her Christmas letter.  It makes me feel like a jerk, to be honest.  So I knew I had to do something, even if we aren't as close as we once were.  The least I could do was make a quilt for the girl who I leaned on as we were figuring out how to raise kids without the men around.  I remember clearly the day we went to Red Lobster and the kids sat in high chairs for the first time.  Then there was the day we ordered their first kid's meal to share.  Good times!

So, hopefully this quilt will bring her a little comfort and joy.  Hopefully she'll forgive the kind of friend I've been and know that I've loved her all along, even though life is busy.  Hopefully she'll understand that she was never far from my thoughts and that I still consider her a good friend.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

S to the U to the P-E-R!

I am one lucky gal.  Let me just start by saying that.  I've got a long list as to why, but let's just say that in the bloggy-online-quilty world, I've hit the jackpot!  I've been terrible about posting all of the lovely goodies that have shown up at my door.  Part of it is laziness...I'm just kind of that way.  I think it's mostly because I'm a terrible photographer and I feel bad posting so-so pictures of the amazing things that have come my way.  Don't worry, I have personally thanked everyone who has sent me things...I may be lazy but I do try not to be rude!  Now it's time to brag on these ladies!

So, without further ado (because, really, I got these first couple of things in December/early Jan):

My new, but very good friend Whitney sent me this pincushion (look at all of those pins...I use this thing all.the.time) and mini quilt as part of a swap we set up in December.  She felt bad that I missed the cutoff for the ALFALC swap so she said "hey, let's swap anyway...and let's make something for each other, too!"  You know me...I'm all about the swap.  So, I made her my "Gettin' Ziggy With It" mini and she goes and outdoes herself and gifts me with not one but TWO amazing handmade goodies.  The mini Dresden on the pincushion is to die for.  She told me how she did it but I can't seem to get my head around it.  When I have time I'm going to play around and figure out how to do one.  And, the mini quilt?!  It's perfection!  I love Denyse Schmidt so this is right on.  Is Whit good or what?  Along with these there were also a few fat quarters, some pins, ric rac, and chocolate.  Doesn't get better.  Oh, but it does!  Keep reading...

Then she goes and sends me this for.no.reason:

Isn't she the best?  LOVE her.  I've been eyeing Pezzy Prints but had held off buying them since I had no immediate plans.  I've been flipping through the charm pack just admiring all of the yumm-o colors.  And, isn't the mug rug fabbity-FAB?  Yes, it is!  Don't be offended for me.  In one of our first conversations I referred to myself as a dork...because, quite frankly, I am.  She thought that was hilarious because she often calls herself a dork, too.  I don't think there are too many grown women that use that term to describe themselves (at least not to people they've never met!).  So, the dork mug rug was born and it's awesome...especially since it is made with Domestic Bliss...another favorite linen of mine at the moment.  See?  Thoughtful and wondeful...she rocks!

And, last, but far far FAR from least (I'm only posting these in the order I received them...nothing more)...

These are the pot holders I received for the Potholder Pass from the wicked-talented Caroline of Trillium Design.  She nailed it!  Scrappy, happy, and bright - just how I like 'em.  And stars!  I love stars.  I'd been hoping these were mine, so when I tore open the package and saw these in there I was super-excited...giddy like a little kid, I tell ya!  And look at those cutie little Japanese erasers...darling!

Oh, and the bonus?

Lookie there...a pocket on the back...brilliant!  I'm torn, though.  These were made to be used, so I'd feel kind of guilty if I don't use them for their intended purpose.  BUT, they're so gorgeous I don't know that I can bring myself to use them for cooking.  What if something gets on them?  I may have to hang them up instead...at least for a while.  They're so pretty!

Ok, so there's a peek at a few things I've gotten recently.  I haven't posted the bee blocks I've gotten in the last couple of months, but I'll get to that one of these days.

I have been busy in the studio (hee hee), cranking out bee blocks, swap projects, and brainstorming stuff.  I have lots in the works that I plan to share ASAP.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Flock of Geese in a Ring

Remember how I mentioned last week that I'd put off the blocks for my Geese In A Ring Swap, mainly due to stage fright?  I'm happy to report that I've crossed them off my list!  I'm proud to say I think they turned out beautifully and I hope my swap gals love them.  I did neglect to make one for myself...but I may get to that some day.  After making 7 in a week I'm ready for a break from the fiddly little buggers.  What do you think?

I know, the picture kind of stinks.  Have I ever mentioned that I wish I knew how to take better pictures?  The problem is that I don't want to learn how to take better pictures...I just want to be gifted with the talent to take better pictures.  Oh, what a pickle.
Anyway, since I just went through the process, I thought I'd mention a few lessons learned...just in case you want to tackle these beauties (and I think you should try at least one if you never have) -

1.  Get comfy with the fact that you are going to waste use a lot of fabric...and I mean A LOT.  I'm sure if I do more paper piecing I'll get better at not needing quite so much fabric.  But, I found that using more from the get-go is a lot easier than getting PO'd when you flip the fabric over and it doesn't reach far enough and then you have to rip out the whole seam (which is not easy when you've shortened your stitch length to make getting off the paper easier!).

2.  Make good friends with your seam ripper.  Me and mine are already pretty close, but it got quite a workout with these blocks!  Just know you're going to use it.  Even when I was super-duper sure I had everything lined up and looking good, inevitably things wouldn't work out sometimes and I'd have to rrrrrrrip out the seam.  I tried my best not to throw too many tantrums about it and just chalk it up to the process.  Maybe you'll be luckier than me, but of the 28 units I made (4 units per block) I think I only DIDN'T need my seam ripper for about 5 of them.  I can be in a rush, so maybe that was my problem.

3. Try to have it set up so you don't have to get up at all to make each unit.  I sat with my pressing table to my left (I'm left-handed) and my cutting mat to the left of my machine.  So, I was able to have my fabric close by (strewn about my lap and all around my desk...I can be a messy quilter) and do everything from my chair.  It saved so much time!  I would hold the paper up to the light to place my fabric, sew the seam, press it (I guess finger pressing would be fine, but I'm an obesessive ironer with my sewing, which is funny b/c I LOATHE regular ironing...go figure, but I digress), trim it, and then do it all over again until all 9 pieces were in place.  Well, I did have to get up a lot to tend to the kiddos, but in theory being able to stay put can be a huge help!

I just realized that I'm writing this as if you've paper pieced blocks.  If you haven't, no worries...it takes a little practice but it's not really hard.  It takes time and some patience, but once you get the hang of how to place your fabric, you'll be set.  Here are a couple of links to help you out:

Paper Piecing Practice/Tutorial (Quilter's Cache) - this is a great tutorial/practice page to get you started with the basics of paper piecing.

Paper Piecing Tutorial (Fresh Lemons) - another fab tutorial about paper piecing

And, if you're up for trying a Geese In A Ring, here's a link to the template I used: http://www.piecebynumber.com/circleofgeese.htm

Good luck and let me know if you try one!