Sunday, January 31, 2016

F Is For February and...

Allow me to distract you, momentarily, or a bit longer,
 from the REAL reason this post is titled
"F Is For February and..."
while I tell you about my January 30th!

What a difference a day makes!  At this time yesterday morning I was an hour away from home, dressed like a Lumber Jill, eating dinner plate sized pancakes in a rustic little café overlooking the river with a view of the pass we had just driven over.  This morning I join you from my little sewing/office room wearing flannel...but not the red and black buffalo plaid kind that Lumber Jill was wearing yesterday!  This little town where we were eating breakfast was once the sight of one of two Lumber Mills, which were long-long ago, co-owned by my husband's Father.

After breakfast and on the road again, we came across some prettier views of the river.
I affectionately dubbed views like this "River Muffins".
  Yesterday was our Belated Anniversary day trip to the Winter Carnival in McCall.  The drive was gorgeous, except for the other white Ford 4 door truck that we passed that had gone over the embankment and half way to the river before a sharp rock outcropping stopped it's further descent.  Fortunately it hadn't rolled, but still, I'm sure it was one of those moments when the occupants wished they had clean undies in the glove compartment.

Once in McCall the view across frozen Payette Lake, was gorgeous, even though I never took a picture, due to the throngs of people milling around.  I sat in one spot for about 10 minutes and swear I saw someone from nearly every country in the entire world go by and I can't even begin to recite the entire list of dog breeds we saw...including the brindle "oversized Boston, undersized Boxer" that was a handsome fella, his size just puzzled me a bit!  I LOVED on a Bernese Mountain Dog, which I always do in those rare encounters, told an Australian Shepherd she had the most beautiful head I'd ever seen, admired a St. Bernard and Newfoundland pair from my seat on the bench and made friends with a hyperactive, vociferous 6 month old Siberian Husky, "Halo" who would lunge toward every childs sled that came by, begging to be the lucky dog who got to pull it!  That would've added some excitement to the parade!
The list goes on.  My husband always sees people he knows and stops to say Hi, and I love on complete strangers dogs like we're old long lost friends!  There's an "older than me", Dick Powell movie called You Never Can Tell, about a German Shepherd who comes back as a "Humanimal" to solve his own's a cute movie.  Not sayin' anything about religion or reincarnation...just sometimes makes me think...why is it that some people resemble some sort of animal, or feel an increased connection to critters more than other two-leggeds do?
And then there's THIS!  Our youngest daughter, Miss Butterfly Quilt, and her friends rented a cabin in McCall for the weekend.  All four of those girls knew that, rather that call, text or spend time hunting us down, if they hung out near the quilt shop for a little bit, we'd surely show up!  Yep!  It was actually verbalized, even by the one of the Quartet I've not met before!  What's up with that?!?!?!?!

What? Of course I brought home some treasures!!!!  In addition to a collection of Mardi Gras beads from the parade! (and no, there was no flashing of anything to get our beads!)
A little something for my sewing stash!  I rarely purchase kits, but this time it was a no brainer.
If anyone ever tells you, that you can't take a double exposure on a digital camera, here ya' go!  This was actually 2 photos taken from two different angles at my cutting/pressing station that somehow got merged into this one panoramic photo! See where the blue print of my ironing surface faintly merges over itself and there's the ghost of the top of the Bird Brain & one of the Kathy Schmitz patterns just off center to the left? Too weird! 

And here's a little something for my kitchen that made me laugh.
I've started collecting a piece of local pottery on our trips in recent years.  This time it was a mug...cuz I'm not gonna be the fool that has that rooster squawking at me about having my coffee and not have a mug handy!

So, back to why I'm really writing today. 
Remember that F Is For February thing? 
Well, here we go!  Tomorrow, can you believe it, is February 1st, and aside from being my husbands birthday, it's a new month, the beginning of the end of winter...depending on where you are, and a whole new opportunity!  I've spent most of my winter at work rather than quilting, and now I'm back into my normal schedule with an enormous list of things I want to get to before it starts acting like gardening weather!  Sweet P Paulette posted yesterday "I declare that next month is going to be "Finish It Up February" with some BIG finishes...and I don't mean by making BIG pillows!  Care to join me in some UFO Busting...or finishing up your current projects?!  February is a short month so we better make the most of it!  Pitter-patter-let's get at 'er!"
Well, you guessed it, in my road weariness, I was reading this post last night with eyes at half mast, thinking, "I have a project I'm finishing up in the next couple of days for Husbands Birthday anyhow! I'm already ahead of the game!", so yeah, you got it, I'm the only Fool who wagged her hand in the air and said "Me Too!  Me Too!!" This began a back and forth bit of emailing, wherein a simple little plan was hatched!  Rather than me sitting here feeling awwwllllll guilty about awwwlllll the projects piled up around me that are inches from done, I'm going to do something about those little buggers gnawing at the back of my cluttered brain.  Call it what you will, Challenge, Incentive, Support Group, loosely on the "Group" since, so far it's only Paulette and me, but, each and every Friday in February, we are going to post something about our Fabulous Finishes and we hope that you will catch the Fever and join us!  I will admit, I will very likely have some challenges with this since, every other week my eyes are too toasted from their 10 hour shifts in front of the work computer to do much more than make dinner, prepare for the next day and try not to Fall asleep on the couch, but there will be something from me!  Just don't look for it too early on those Fridays!  Not that I'm not up and's just that I'm still trying to shake 4 days of fun and games with surgeons and staff out of my head, work the knots and kinks out of my neck and shoulder blades and start loads of laundry!  Although I have aspirations to do better, on a couple of Fridays my interpretation of "Finished" might only mean that I Finished packing a long done Flimsy with an actual backing in a box and got it ready to tote those 3 blocks to the post office to send it off for quilting!  I have no delusions of grandeur  in this endeavor, and absolutely NO doubt, that in contrast, Paulette will shine like the star that she is!  But in my little fantasy world, actually getting the box to the post office will likely count as another Finish!  See?  Little Victories, like The Little Engine That Could!  One thing is For certain!  I don't intend to Fail, even if I have to make up my own rules!

Are You With Us?  Surely You Are!!!!!

~Nancie Anne

Thursday, January 21, 2016

L Is For *Let It Snow*...and Love...and Lucky...and...

It was Love at first sight when Stacy West released the first block in the free, (LOVE FREE!) 2016 Buttermilk Basin Block of the Month, called "Let It Snow" earlier this week. It took me a few days, but yesterday, I sat down and dug through my wool stash and found just the perfect shade of burgundy for my "L" and all the colors needed for the remaining templates. I had the textured background fabric in Stashzilla as well and cut just a little 8.5" square block that can be trimmed down to size once assembly begins.
Here's my Lovie Little Snowguy...

and here's the original.

Should you want to join in the fun...sneak on over to Buttermilk Basin!
Since I have difficulty keeping myself from putting my own stamp on projects, I changed his face a bit to give the little guy a more contemplative, wistful expression.  I have to give Sweet P Paulette some credit for the facial expression on my flaky little friend.  When I saw her little guy faceless, I had a vision of what his expression could be.  Yesterday, being our wedding anniversary, I changed his arm position so he could hold a little heart in his twiggy little fingers. The applique embroidery is done in Valdani Threads. I do still need to give him a button or two, but other than that, he's complete and I love him.
The only bad part will be waiting until the 3rd Friday in February for the next block to be revealed, so we can see what kind of cuteness Stacy has generously designed.
A gift from her heart to ours!
I've also been propogating more trees...they just keep multiplying! 
Here's a small sampling of saplings!

Sunday, January 10, 2016

2016 Starting Fresh

It's been ages since I've settled in here to write...but yep...the old girl is still alive!  I spent all of November and December trying to find time, energy and less eyestrain, to play in my sewing no avail.  Not only were those months filled with Thanksgiving and Christmas preparations, it has also been very busy at work, and since the girl I job share with has been out for the past several weeks, I've been spending more "quality time" with my co workers, than in my sewing room.

With the holidays behind us and the brand spankin' new year upon us, I did sit down at my sewing machine last weekend.  I lifted the lid, removed the purple thread that I used to make the last of three Halloween capes that I made for my daughter and her friends and swiped away some fuzz & dust.  Not thoroughly enough, I discovered, after closer inspection of these photos!  
Next, I decided I'd better pull out my little brush and dismantle my bobbin case and do a good clean out.  First of all, when I take my bobbin case assembly out, I lay in out according to the order and orientation it should return in.  No point in confusing this menopausal brain any more than it already is!  Right?
Secondly, I remember what I was told in my machine orientation class.  Never blow into the interior of my machine because my breath contains moisture that could damage my machines internal parts. 
Oh, how I struggle to stifle that temptation!
After sewing the 3 big crushed velvet-ish capes for The Sanderson Sisters,
 there was some nesting material available in the recesses of my machine.  It almost amazes me that a little mouse hadn't taken up residence in there for the winter! 
Don't be afraid to get in there and get a little personal with all those little fuzz collecting caverns!
   While I was at it...I gave her a new needle too...then decided to check my 1/4" seam allowances before setting forth on my new adventure.  Out came some scraps that I cut into two 1.5 inch squares and sewed them together...and then pulled the thread out, pressed, adjusted my needle position and re-sewed them together until my two squares measured a perfect 2.5 inches when sewn and pressed.
And I did my beleaguered brain another favor and attached the pertinent information to the front of my machine with a little sticky note. 
(Note to self, clean the camera lens before next photo shoot...that blurry spot was on every picture!)
Even with this seam check, be prepared to make adjustments.  The blocks I started making needed a narrower seam allowance on the top section and a more generous seam allowance on the bottom section to get them to the correct block measurement!
My first machine project of the year has lots of triangles and they don't match the angle of any plastic template in my collection, or any that I looked at that weren't already in my collection.  The idea of making a template from plastic and cutting and marking individual triangles the old fashioned way for this fun little "walk in the park" project was making me twitch a I decided it was time to roll out the freezer paper!
I transferred the pattern to paper by laying it over the pattern and making a little dot at the point of each triangle.  Then used my ruler to connect the dots.  Easy Peasy, Lemon Squeezy!
This is a scrappy project, so, here we are layering up all the little bits and pieces of "the right" green I could scrounge up and ironing the template to the smallest scrap to make layering easier to visualize!  Notice that I cut the template out just outside the cutting line so I could lay my ruler on there, and slice right through, once I determined that a fresh rotary blade would be more successful that the one that was used on the capes which was trying to chew its way through the layers.
Ahh...cutting with a new rotary blade!  "It's like Buttah!"
Now, I don't think I ever got around to sharing with you that, when we traveled to Livermore and attended the Quilting In The Garden Show at Alden Lane Nursery in September, we got to meet Sally Collins briefly.  I was not only impressed, inspired, in-awe of this sweet, sweet woman's precision and amazing color sense.  I was moved...I was literally "Verklempt" when we left the exhibit and could barely speak.  The beautiful crispness of her works are what I aspire to.  I had watched her episode on The Quilt Show, and what resonated with me was that, while chain piecing is wonderful, we have a tendency to be in too big a hurry and allow the end of each set to kind of run astray a little as we are preparing to send the next pair of blocks under the presser foot.  GUILTY!
What I took with me from that show is to slow down a little, stay with that seam, right to the bitter end, and to butt my next set right up to the needle as I insert them under the presser foot!  The time I spend ushering every bit of fabric under my needle now, will save me time in ripping out seams later.
If you don't start with precision at the beginning, with your cutting, and initial seams, you can't expect to achieve precision in the end.
This is the reason, that I have in the past year, abandoned a 1/4" foot in favor of moving my needle.  I observed that those little lightweight metal guides on my 1/4" feet tended to splay out a bit when the presser foot was dropped and that I was also relying on them too heavily by snugging my fabric right up to them.  One thread too many in my seam allowance is actually two threads too many when you're sewing together 2 pieces of fabric, and sew on and sew forth?
Then off to press.  I am trying to remember to set my seams by first pressing them as sewn, prior to opening them up for the "official" press.
 Then I pressed to the dark side.  Bwah-Ha-Ha!
 And I carefully clipped off my pointy bits.  (Quilt Sue! Are you proud?)
Whoops!  I see a little dipsy in that seam near the point!  Do you?
Yep!  Out it came!  Back to the machine for a quick fix!
Just look how excited my snowmen are over their top edges meeting in a nice continuous line!
 Perfect!  Right?????
 Not so fast there, Girly-Girl!
TEST BLOCKS!  A single test block at the beginning is a good thing!  It can save you so much time to make a test block to see how the thing is going to go together!
Look at how many layers of fabric there are all converging at that single little pointy-point!
That's a wobble, a bump, a wonky seam in the making and...maybe I'd like to have my quilters longarm machine like me a little more after some of the other crazy seams I've had her navigate for me!
 Embrace your seam ripper!  She is your friend, not an instrument of torture!
All I had to do was remove just that little bit, then return to the iron.
and press that first seam open.
Then put that little section of ripping back in place, resew,
and repress.
All this for a quilt that's not going to be heirloom or museum quality?
Well, yeah.  Because if I'm going to invest this much time and expense to make something, why not give it your best effort?  Because it's going to be somebody's, and that somebody and this quilt deserve the best I have to give...and who knows who might look and it and be reminded that I loved them so much that I shared this part of me with them. 
Once all is said and done, sharing of oneself and ones passion, is the best heirloom we have to give.
Just a tiny bit of seam adjustment &squaring up with that pesky lower section and we're good to go!
A Little Belatedly,
Happy New Year, My Friends!
May We All Start Fresh.
~Nancie Anne

PS- Please join me in sending up warm thoughts and prayers for Lynn Wilder's sweet sister, Gail, while she is caring for her husbands health needs, and to Sue Abrey, aka HRH Quilt Sue, as she is caring for her father and her husband who are both experiencing difficulty with their health.  Like many of you, I love these women to pieces!