Thursday, August 25, 2011

Suck-It-Up Sisters!

I know, the "Suck-It-Up Sisters" sounds not so nice, but it's all in fun!  There's a group of us that have been getting together once a month for two or three years now and that's what we decided to call our group.  It's like this, you might be having a bad day, whether it's your sewing that may not be going right, or you're just having an off day and, one of us might say "oh, suck it up", and it makes you smile because you know that they really do care.

Well, this past weekend we had a "Suck-It-Up Sisters" weekend retreat at the "Dodge Lodge".  That's a friend's house.  She has the most gorgeous house.  It could be in Midwest Living, or House Beautiful.  We take over the whole lower level of her house, and she's so accommodating.  We plan out the meals prior to the weekend and we all take turns, along with cleaning up.  It's just the best.  Good friends, good conversation, great relaxation, and we can't forget, good food!  I think I gained a few pounds.  I only went out for a jog once the whole weekend.  Not good!

So here are a few pics. 
If you can guess what this is, please leave a post.  I may unveil it with another picture!
 Here's Marge!  She was working on a quilt by Edytar Sitar called "911 Quilt".  We had an exchange with 25 people for this quilt.  I'll show you a couple of them almost done.  Their really wonderful.

 Here's Rose!  Very busy working on a purse by Lazy Girl Designs.  And Tamra on the right.  She was working on a quilt for her son to take off to college. 

And Connie!  She was working on a UFO Quilt, I'm not sure of the name.
 And then there's Debbie!  This is her house and this is her sewing room.  Do you see the sign behind her?  She used to own a quilt shop and that's the sign from it.  "Third Street Cotton Shoppe".  What a great name!  She was working on a the same purse Rose was working on, the fabrics she was using were great.  Chickens and chicken tracks!  So cute!
 Here's Peggy!  She was one of "911 Quilt" gals.  She finished the quilt this weekend and off to Marge it went for quilting!

 So then there's Bonnie!  She was working on a "House Sampler"  Block of the Month. This is a great quilt with all the blocks put together.  I post it in a later post.

This is a "911 quilt that about 12 people contributed blocks to and over the weekend, we put it all together.  Marge did the border, then took it home and had it quilted by Monday.  What a woman!  This will be auctioned off at a benefit in Whitewater on Sept 10th.  What a great quilt!

This is Peggy's "911 Quilt".  Don't her borders look great.  Gotta love that red and yellow together.

 Somehow, I missed my sister Cathy and DarLynn.  Sorry Cath and DarLynn!  I'm not sure how that happened, but Cathy worked feverishly on a great Retreat Tote.  The fabrics were wonderful!
DarLynn worked on several things.  Piecing, appliqueing, and more piecing.  She's a great multi-tasker. 

These sawtooth blocks are Debbie's.  She's making a wedding quilt for her son and soon to be, daughter-in-law, Angie.  I can't wait to see it finished.  It's a very neat pattern.

I finished the center of the quilt that I had recently posted about!  No, I didn't get it done by the dead line I said I would, but doesn't it look awesome? 
Here it is with the final border and cornerstone blocks added.  I brought a bolt with me to see if it would go well enough, but as it turned out, Marge had another piece of black that I carry in the shop and it looked 10 times better.  So, I had to wait till Monday to finish it.  I didn't know if I could get anymore of that black border fabric from Andover till I called them.  Yeah!  They had it.  We named it PJ's Puzzle Pieces.  Very appropriate for this quilt because of the construction.  It was a fun quilt.

Marge is quilting this one up for me too!  She is an awesome long-arm quilter.  And this quilt will be going up to Quilt Expo in Madison next month.  Now to finish the pattern writing!  Whew, lots to do before Expo.
I ran home on Saturday morning to meet Randy and her husband Mark.  They flew into Chicago on Friday evening, then drove up to Wisconsin in the morning.  She wanted to show Mark the shop.  How great is that of her.  And him!  Then they left the shop to go towards Madison, and off to New Glarus to go through the brewery.  Sounds like they had a good time.  Happy Anniversary, guys!  Randy, you should feel so lucky!  Here's Randy, DarLynn, and I on my deck in back of our house.
 Till next time!  PJR

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

A Guy and His Dogs!

Okay, so over 7 years ago we had a wonderful, non shedding, knee high dog.  She was well behaved and we loved her.  Well, she was 15 years old and we were moving out to the country and were hoping at that age she would adapt okay.  Her eyesight wasn't all that good and her hearing was going.  She had a little bit of arthritis, but still managed to take walks with me till later that summer.  It got to be too much. She passed that following May of 2005.  We will forever miss her.
I knew that we would be moving as soon as our house in the city sold and my thought was to get another dog right away.  That way, and I hat to say this, but when the time came that she may pass, it might be easier.  I really don't know if anything can make that any easier.
Well, a couple months later my nephew was going to breed his St Bernard with my other nephew's St Bernard.  Now, what are the chances that 2 nephews (cousins to each other) both have St Bernards that aren't fixed?  Well, it worked and the puppies were born the following February 4th.  They were sooooo cute.
I continued to beg annoy my husband to go see them and ask for one.  We even brought friends with us once to go see them.

 So, as you can see, they were just adorable.  All huddled up next to each other, fast asleep.  All ten of them.
This is Gracie at 12 weeks old.  Now, who wouldn't love a face like that?

My husband was the least bit thrilled with getting a large dog of this breed.  Not just the size, but the hair, the drooling, the amount of food, which produces, well, you know what!!!  But I really felt as though it would be good to have a large dog when we knew we were moving to the country.  Somehow, I convinced him.  She is neither my dog nor his.  That's one thing about a St Bernard that is interesting, they don't take sides.  But they are the most affectionate dogs.
Here she is with 2 of the outdoor cats.  She really enjoys the cats and they love laying with her for warmth.

We were lucky, she is not as big as she should be for her breed.  She weighs 115 lbs, which is about 30-50 lbs under normal.  Also, she's not a big drooler, but she sheds like no tomorrow.

My husband now says, "And your mother (referring to me) didn't want you!".  WHAT?  Reverse that comment.

So, we now have 2, yes 2 big dogs.  A year ago February, a good friend of mine wanted to go to Iowa to look at a Bernese Mt Dog.  She told me she was going to buy one from an Amish gentleman.  Well, all I could think of was, "Puppy Mill".  I told her I wanted to go with.  Next thing you know, my husband decides he wants to come.  Then, he says, "I think Gracie needs a playmate.".  So this is how, Niko came to be.

Niko is 12 weeks old here.  At this age, Gracie is not too sure about him.  Maybe it's those puppy teeth.

So, now I'm finally getting around to what this is really all about.  "A Guy with His Dogs".
Last night my husband, Dennis is laying with both dogs.  I couldn't resist taking this picture.  I think Niko thinks he's in trouble!
Now, who's the crazy one in this household?  He often says, "I didn't think I would really love a large dog, but I can't imagine having anything but a large dog.".  So, he has spent pretty much the entire summer putting up a fence and putting down mulch for a walking path around 4 1/2 acres of our land, just to be able to walk the dogs without leashes.  He is one crazy man, but we love him! 

Till later, PJR

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Courthouse Steps Quilt

Like so many other quilters, I have several projects in the works.  I'll refer back to my "list".  And btw, I found my list and now have it updated in my computer.  Whew!  I'm not sure if that's a relief or not, as it now just reminds me of how much I haven't accomplished over the past 8 months. 

So I've been working on a courthouse steps quilt since mid April.  I kept putting it aside to get other things done, and not necessarily quilting things, nor sewing things.  I initially started it as a wedding quilt, but instead it is going to be a sample for the shop.  I'm really enjoying how it's turning out. 
So, these are strips for a partial block, not too exciting, right?  Hold tight, the best is yet to come.  I also used black cornerstones for the blocks.   
 This is one square completed.  This has just a little twist to a traditional courthouse steps block.  I'm using medium and darks for each colorway, a few shades off from one another.  Also, there are not too many light mediums in this quilt.  Mostly, mediums and darks.
Here is two rows of the quilt.  In order to merge the same color into the next row, you have to use sashing from the fabrics used in the blocks with black cornerstones.  Now you can see how it's hard to see where the actual block really is.  You can also see how the blocks almost look like striped fabric from a distance.  
There are a lot of different fabrics, I don't believe that I'm reusing any fabric twice, with the exception of the outside fabrics.  These are the ones that fall around the edge and I only used half of what I cut up if I use it once, so why not use it again.
When this quilt is done, it will take 879 black squares and 152 different color coordinated fabrics.  Okay, so it sounds a little mind boggling.  Rome wasn't built in a day and this quilt won't be either, but those are the ones I love best.  Back to the black squares.  I wanted to show how I cut these squares.  Of course, I didn't invent this method, I believe it's Debbie Caffrey's method.  
So, first I cut all my strips.  Then I lay them one at a time onto my cutting mat.  I space them anywhere from 1/4 inch to 1/2 inch, depending on how many I have to cut.  If I have a lot, I place them closer. 
I eyeball the 1/4 inch, lining up my selvage edge.  Now I'm ready to cut.
First I cut off my selvage.  Then, I proceed to cut a row of squares and pull them away.
I continue to cut until I don't have enough fabric to complete a square.  The benefit to doing this method is that you don't have any rocking going on with your ruler.  It lays flat while you cut all the way up the ruler. 
 Finis!  I started out with twenty strips and I now have 560 squares.  Well, it's not quite enough for the whole quilt, so I will have to do this again with another 15 strips.  If I would have done my math first, I could have had them all cut the first time around.  Oh well!
So, here they all are and now I'm ready to sew blocks.  I'll keep you posted on how the quilt is coming along.  My goal is to have it done by Aug17th.  Wish me luck!


Thursday, August 4, 2011

Lists! Are you a list maker?

So, it's August and I don't know where May, June, or July went.  I really haven't done any sewing of any type.  Well, I made a handbag for my son's girlfriend and I started a courthouse steps quilt (finished 1 row).  Oh, and I made my granddaughter's birthday outfit.  Hmmm, what else?  You guessed it, NOTHING!  Some time I will have to tell you about my challenge list, but that's another day.

I keep telling people that I have this to do and that to do, but it just doesn't seem to get anywhere.  I have to admit, it's not like I've been doing nothing.  My year started out pretty good.  I made my list.  The list I will tell you about later.  Well, maybe now is good time.  I decided in Dec of last year, I would work on all my UFO's and then all the projects I really want to do that aren't even started.  So, starting January 1st, I drew up an excel spreadsheet with the names of my projects.  To the right of my project name are columns.  Several. They list like this:

All Materials Collected
Partially Cut
All Cut
Blocks Pieced/Partially Pieced
Center Pieced and Done
Quilt Done But Not Quilted
Quilted But Not Bound

Can you tell I'm a list maker, and I also like to check things off.  It's good for the ego.

So, you see I have a page with 36 projects listed.  I have 6 done and it's already August.  This is not the year I had planned.  Well, I keep telling myself that I have a shop to run and that includes paper work.  I hate paperwork.  It really gets in the way of my sewing time.  So, instead I tell myself that I will get all my paperwork done on a Sunday.  Well, that rarely happens cause the dh is home and well, we have a list together.  Yes, another list.  This one started in the beginning of March.  That list includes lots of things that are mostly to do with our house.  Which, by the way, is 148 years old.  So, there are plenty of things to do.  Some were for inside and plenty of things for the outside.

We started, or rather my husband started on the upstairs bathroom in March.  We he gutted it.  I wasn't much help cause I had shoulder surgery at the end of March, which was an 8-10 week recovery.  And he knew this and was okay with that.  He worked on this bathroom pretty avidly.  Then came no shower.  That lasted almost six weeks.  We took showers at my D#1's house, every other day.  At a certain point, we hung plastic around the shower so that we could use it.  Then the warm weather came and the bathroom took a back seat.  DH took a few days off last month from work and the two of us managed to get all of it done, except the trim.

So, back to my projects.  Well, you see I can't even locate my updated list anymore.  I have one saved on my laptop, but I wrote things in the one I had printed off.  It really doesn't matter, cause the other list (OUR List) has taken priority.

Well, the other day, I could tell my dh wanted to ask me to help him with one of the things on OUR list.  I turned to him and said "Are you going to whip up one of those quilts for Expo for me?"  He didn't say a thing.  Don't get me wrong, I love to be with him and help with all kinds of things, but really, I have things to tend to.  And as I write this, I laugh and say, I could've spent this time sewing! 

Moral of the story!  Don't write a list unless you can keep it in view and stick to it!

Talk Later!  PJR

Delaney's 1st Birthday!

 Sunday was Delaney's unofficial birthday with a small party. 
 She wasn't really into the cupcake too much.  She didn't want to dig in and eat it right up.  Although, up till now she has never had anything with sugar, so it's all very foreign to her.
This is my D#1, Briana, Delaney's mom.  Delaney is wearing her birthday hat, which is made from an ice cream cone.  She liked feeling the fuzzy part on top.
Yesterday was her official birthday, so mom thought that an ice cream cone was in order.  She really liked it.  Can you tell?

 This is the outfit that I made Delaney for her birthday.  It just fits, but seeing that there will only be another 6 weeks of warm weather, she'll have to wear some to get use out of it. 
She even kept the hat on the whole time she had her outfit on.  The stroller and doll were from a friend, but that is her first baby doll.  She absolutely loves pushing her baby around.

Talk Later!  PJR