"On the plains of Oklahoma, with a windshield sunset in your eyes like a watercolor painted sky, you'd think heavens doors have opened."
Fly Over States

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Surf & Sand Challenge - Block 1 - CHINA

Here is a block I made for the Surf and Sand Challenge from the HGTV Message Board. It is from Carol Doak's Mariner's Compass Stars book. We are using Marcus Brothers Surf and Sand fabric for the challenge. You have to use at least two fabrics from that collection per block. The two S & S fabrics in this block are the snowflakes in the background fabric and the blue polka doted fabric on one of the rays. I managed to get a little depth in this one - something I am always trying for but usually miss...

Here it is next to the same pattern in different colors. I like this one better!

Whew!! After several days of working the longarm instead of piecing a block, I really needed some quilting therapy!

My Sewing Room

Every project results in my sewing room looking like a tornado hit it. I usually spend some time straightening the room and putting things away to prepare for the next project. Just makes me feel better. So anyway, this morning, I straightened up and decided to take a few pictures of my sewing room and stash. I still need to refold some fabric and for some reason, the pictures look out of focus. I don't know where the girls were while I was taking picture. No wait, yes I do. Husband was downstairs cooking bacon and that was much more interesting than mom folding fabric.

Here is my ironing station.

Here are my batiks that I keep in CD holders. On top is my asian fabric in the middle bins and some miscellanious on top.

Here is some thread - I have quite a bit more. There are cones of thread in the basket but the regular sewing machine thread is on the wall. My son and daughter-in-law gave me that clock! I keep most of my books on this shelf. I keep ones I use a lot right by the sewing machine. My Carol Doak books are off in the pattern cabinet.

Here is my Gammill Premier Plus. She did an absolutely terrific job on the Patriotic Quilt - no skipped stitches, smooth, just perfect.

Here is part of my stash on the north wall. I have my extra sewing machine under the stash. I also keep extra muslin there. To the left, I have some plastic cabinets where I keep patterns, Carol Doak books and orphan blocks. Some of my rulers are on top. The blue box is my working sewing basket.

On the top is my Certificate to show I am admitted to the United States Supreme Court.

At one point, that meant a lot to me but these days, well, that is a Samoyed Webkin next to it. Pretty much says it all!

Here are several pictures of my sewing machine, including my cutting station.

Here are my reds.

Here is some backing fabric that I keep hanging on the back side of the closet door. Behind it you can see part of one of my design walls behind the door.

Here are my neutrals. I have some muslin on top and more underneath the north wall stash.

Here are my yellows, oranges and greens.

Here is where I keep my fat quarters. I keep them in shoe cubbies. Beneath that is where I keep my browns and some florals. This cabinet is pretty messy and I need to fold some fabric.

The reason you don't see my blues and purples is because they are messed up and I didn't want to take a picture of them! I have a ton of blues. I should probably be embarassed to have so much fabric.

I am fortunate to have such a large room and will miss it when we go back home to Oklahoma. At our Oklahoma house, I will have a decent sized bedroom for my sewing machine, cutting station and ironing board, but the Long Arm will have her own room in the barn. I will actually end up with even more room, but it won't all be together in the same place. I am fortunate, anyway you look at it.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

But for the binding - IT'S DONE!!!!

So here we go - The Patriotic Quilt is OFF the longarm!! My first attempt at a full sized quilt just needs the binding and I have no idea how I am going to wrestle it on. I haven't decided what color fabric I will use, either.

It must weight 100 pounds. I'll have to wash it at a commercial laundry mat and once that happens, I think the quilted parts will really pop.

Here are some pictures of the back before it is washed. It turned out a lot better than I thought it would but please don't look too closely. Some of those lines look like I was drunk when I was running the longarm. I practiced using the ruler and took extra time on a number of the more intricate blocks. I meandered in other places and used a panto on the border and corners.

I'm exhausted just looking at it. It was very satisfying to work on.

Destruction of a Beautiful Quilt Top

Someone asked me to post more puppy pictures. Well, here you go!

The top picture is Jezebel. The next two are Evelyn. The one where she is laying on her side flashing her spotted tummy was taken at the breeder. She hadn't even come home, yet!

I've made a great deal of progress on longarming the Patriotic Quilt. I completed the blue parts, the borders and the red parts. Now I am working on the neutral parts.

Frankly, I am butchering it! Doesn't this look awful?

I should have used non variegated thread.

I guess you need to learn, sometime. I can already see vast improvement from one end of the quilt to the other. I suspect I will be doing a bunch of thread ripping but there you go.

On to happier subjects (as if you could improve on puppies). Here are the fabrics I set aside to work on the Surf and Sand Challenge:

I find the colors to be very soothing. Do you see the Cattlemen's Steak House coffee cup?

That is what I take my coffee in, every morning. Cattlemen's is a popular/famous steak house in Oklahoma, down at the stockyards. My Grandfather loved to eat there. One of my girls (the vegetarian!) picked it up on a trip back home from Oklahoma City and it always lifts my heart.

Off to take a nap!

Friday, August 29, 2008

Well, it caught my attention...

On my way to court this morning, I drove by a large fabric shop that was on the way. I wanted to get some of the Marcus Brothers Surf and Sand to have on hand for the long weekend. When I got there, it was closed, shut down, out of business. A Neiman Marcus is being put in its place. That is just wrong.

I called around to other quilt shops and found one that had my fabric about 20 minutes from the court house. I swung by there, grabbed some Korean food next door (I have NO idea what it was – it had rice and seafood in it – quite good) then dashed off to court. When I got out, I turned on the radio and heard that John McCain has selected the female governor of Alaska as his running mate.

I can’t say that I am shocked that he picked a woman. I can’t even say that I am surprised he chose a woman. What does surprise me - what shocks me - is that she is a mother of five (FIVE!), including one with Down’s syndrome. I thought about pulling over the car to catch my breath.

I have never bought into the excitement of having a woman on the presidential ticket. This is probably because I have no doubt that it will happen, even the top spot, sooner or later. I expect to see it in my lifetime. No, what surprised me – what stunned me – was that he selected a woman who clearly wasn’t forced to give up the full blown mommy track in the name of political ambition.

I know next to nothing about her. How did she do that? Did she abandon her children, emotionally, to do this? Is she a supermom? Did she have tons of help? I look forward to finding out more about her.

Because I believe that a woman will eventually occupy the presidency, perhaps I am less inclined to settle for “any” woman. All that being said, while I am skeptical by nature and want to know more about her before I form an opinion of her, I confess that I felt an absolute thrill that a woman could reach for this position and not have to neuter herself to do it.

Now, I know that Hillary Clinton is a mother and that she adores her daughter. I also believe she has tried to be a very good mother. The difference is that Hillary has been in the spotlight and had a nanny for her daughter straight out of the box. And she only had one child. How she raised her child bears little resemblance to how I raised my own. It is hard for me to relate to her as a mother beyond the understanding that both of us would die for our child and would consider outliving them to be a fate worse than death. But the process of raising them, the dynamics in the household, I suspect, were quite different.

I wonder if the Alaska Governor raised her children similarly to how I raised mine. The fact that she had five children suggests to me that her household had to have been as chaotic as my own from time to time. The fact that she succeeded in achieving all she has suggests to me that it wasn't nearly as chaotic as mine for any length of time. Questions, questions.

photo - Baby Evelyn

Thursday, August 28, 2008

El Loco is in the House (no, I don't mean Jezebel or Evelyn)

Yesterday, I took the girls to the vet for Jezebel's last regular melanoma vaccine. It was black as the inside of a cow when we left the house and the sun still wasn't up when we got to the veterinary hospital. Fortunately, a crew of four electricians was working on something so I felt safe enough to take the girls out of the car and hang out on the lawn waiting for the sun to rise. The electricians finished up just before the place opened and drifted off in their respective vehicles. I was sitting on the park bench with a girl on either side (they like to sit on furniture). Each electrician slowed down as he passed to compliment me on my beautiful girls. :)

Once inside, we waited another hour and a half to be called. Jezebel snuggled on the sofa with her head in my lap while I read. Evelyn was too busy looking around to doze. At one point, a large Border Collie came in (I didn't realize they were that big - compared to the pig in "Babe," they look smaller). Next thing you know, I hear a low pitched growl and I immediately looked over, thinking that Border Collie was talking smack to Evelyn. But no. The Border Collie looked harmless as a Labrador, wagging its tail, nervously. EVELYN had her head down, hackles raised and teeth bared!! What the???? She must have slipped a cog!! That Border Collie would have made mince meat of her.

Hard to imagine such violence could erupt from this sweet puppy.

I figure the Border Collie said something snotty to her in dogspeak but there is just no excuse for such rude behavior, especially for a Samoyed! It crossed my mind that she was acting out of fear but perhaps I am just being one of those parents who blames everything on the other kids (next thing you know, I will attribute it to ADHD). The fact is, she was clear on her side of the sofa and wandered her little sassy butt all the way to the back to get in the Border Collie's face! And where was my mind that I was not paying attention?

Jezebel lost about a quarter pound in two weeks but that is not a problem. She has been eating well. We switched her dog food to a higher grade right after the last visit and perhaps it has fewer calories. More likely, because El Loco has been out of town, she hasn't been eating nearly as many treats and snacks.

I asked them about her muzzle changing color and they assured me this is expected and normal.

They said the hair will grow back but it may be a different color. When I look closely at it, it looks like it is coming back white. It looks like she has less hair than two weeks ago, and I think she does, but the real thing going on (I believe) is that the grey skin behind it has turned pink and that makes her muzzle look a little bald. She is sneezing and snorting less and we believe her poor snout is starting to heal from the radiation.

I would not be surprised if no hair grew back on the black part around her snout that meets the muzzle but I think it will look fine no matter what. If it doesn't grow back at all, I don't care.

I worked at home yesterday and managed to get most of the blue parts of the Patriotic quilt quilted. I am new at this and when I got to the end of the quilt, it was really a problem in the lower right corner (bumpy). The back looks not so good, either. I am probably going to end up doing some thread ripping. Oh well, that goes with it.

I have the Surf, Sand and Snowflakes Challenge organized on the HGTV Message Board. What that amounts to is that several ladies are using the same fabric line to make blocks and will post pictures to see how we interpret them. Presumably, they will all look different and it will be really nifty keen to see them all. When you are just presented with a fabric not necessarily of your choosing, it makes you stretch a bit. That is a good thing. Here are some pilfered pictures (from someone's Flickr account) of the fabric line we are using:

The fabric line is Marcus Brothers Surf and Sand.

I'd be tempted to say that person on the Flikr page was a little dotty for taking pictures of fabric except it would be the pot calling the kettle black. I have some of the fabric, myself, and took a picture (and I do that a lot!):

I have several half yards of the rest of the collection en route from the online stores.

The husband is back home from Spain and I have periodically gone downstairs to hug him, just because I can! He has come upstairs a couple of times to hug me for the same reason.

Off to work on files...