Monday, July 30, 2012

Checking off UFOs

Recent retreats have added greatly to my UFO pile.  I have to get busy quilting some of these so I can get them off the list.  I loaded up Shannon's Fleur De Lis quilt yesterday and got it started.  It is turning out very nice, but I don't have very much stamina.  My back keeps telling me to stop.  I hope to have it done before the meeting so I can bring it for Show and Tell.  

Our Paint Chip Challenge is wrapping up this week at the guild meeting and I'll certainly be glad to have that off my plate.  I didn't mind so much participating in it, but I did not really like being in charge of it.  People ask you how you want to handle the voting and the hanging and all that.  And when you answer them, then they start to tell you how they think you ought to do it.  At this point, I just plain don't care.  I just want it over with.  Have you ever been in that situation?

I hope my friend Sarah has recovered from the ordeal of organizing her quilt stuff. I haven't heard from her yet.  I sure hope she's happy with how things turned out.  I envy her the great sewing room that she has along with all that great sewing furniture and multiple sewing machines, etc.  She has a great setup.

I have another friend (Glen) who got to go on a 4 day retreat.  What a joy!  I would have loved to have been able to join her, but work keeps getting in the way.  Maybe next time.

I am still looking into the retirement stuff.  I don't have the answers to all the questions I need to make a decision yet.  It's putting a lot of stress on me dealing with it all.  And at the same time, it's taken off some of the work stress just knowing that it is possible I could leave it all behind.  We'll see......

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Organization - I think

I spent the entire day yesterday assisting my friend Sarah with organizing all of her quilting stuff.  You'd think that means organizing her sewing room, but alas, that was not the case.   She has fabric in at least two other rooms of the house (do you resemble this remark?).  But she also had non-quilting items in her sewing room.

We started out by taking EVERYTHING out of the closet.  Small spaces sure do hold a lot of stuff!  Then we proceeded on to trying to sort things together.  Gather all the fat quarters in the same place.  Gather all the yardage in the same place.  Gather all the backings together in the same place.  Every time we thought we had it all, we found more.

There were lots of questions.  What is this?  Do you use this regularly?  Do you like this?  Is there anything you'd like to donate or throw away?  Did you know you had this many kits?  Did you even know you had this?  It had to have been a very emotional thing for her to have all of her stuff exploded everywhere.

It took from 10:00am until 6:00pm and it was mostly complete.   She said that it was so helpful to have an unbiased third party helping and keeping her on task.  It was exhausting, but it was worth it.  I only hope it is helpful to her.  At the very least, I know that she should not HAVE to go shopping for quite some time, because she has more fabric than she even dreamed until she saw it all together. 

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Retirement Planning - Wishful Thinking

I love what I do.  I like helping people.  Lately, it is getting harder and harder to get up and go there.  The  politics is more than I can handle.  It's also getting harder to feel like I am even contributing.  The new group of "golden boys" are constantly going past me and making decisions without informing me and I feel so ineffectual as well as miserable.

Add to that the recent fiascoes in the Louisiana legislature.  The governor did his best to really screw up our retirement system and take away all of our benefits.  He's wanting to privatize everything.  And he has no respect at all for the state workers.

A month or so ago, I sent in a request for an estimate for purchasing qualifying time, which would allow me to retire early.  I had absolutely no expectation of getting back a number that was anything other than outrageous.  Well, this past Thursday, I received my estimate.  I was in shock!  The really good kind of shock.  The number I received is actually doable. I have the money in my deferred compensation account.  If I went through with the purchase, I could retire as soon as January 1, 2013.  I could also put in for use of my annual leave and could leave anytime between September 19 and January 1.  I have been trying soooo hard not to get overly excited.  I made an appointment with my financial person.  We are to talk tomorrow.  I don't want to make any decisions until I've really looked at all the angles to make sure there's not something waiting to bite me in the butt.  If I make it past Debby, then my next stop will be to visit with the people at the Louisiana State Employees Retirement System to see what they have to say.  Then I'll be able to make an educated decision.

I really really really hope I get the answer that I want. I'm ready to start planning the party!!!!!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Retreat & Design Wall Monday

This weekend was our retreat.  I finished up this top that I started at the last retreat.  It's made from a kit I got at Mama's Quilt Shop after Christmas last year.  It's a pattern by Kathy Brown called Take 5 Crosses the Line.

I also finished up the binding on my Paint Chip Challenge Quilt.  It's due at the August meeting on August 2.  It only had to be done to the top, but mine's already quilted.  I don't want to add anything to my UFO list.  The only thing I have left to do is name my quilt based on the paint chip color names.

Then I finished up the guild mystery quilt.  I'll publish it later after we reveal them in November.  Don't want to ruin it for everybody.

After that, I helped my friend Karen with the binding on her quilt.  It was a really nice thing to do, and a great excuse for sitting on the couch watching movies all day.  Win, win!

There were eight of us on this retreat and we had a wonderful time as usual.  It started out kind of bad for me though.  On Friday, I decided to go for a short walk to the end of the street and back.  I only got about 5 feet past the end of the driveway and then I rolled my ankle on a large unlevel crack in the road.  I made it to the end of the street and back.  Then I took some Advil and put ice on my sprained ankle for 30 minutes and went on.  

I know.  Some of you would say that it's really not sprained.  Oh, yes, it is.  It's just that I have sprained these ankles several times pretty bad already so, although the sprain is not as bad as the first time, and I can actually put weight on it, it's still sprained.  And this was my "better" ankle.  I don't have a good one any more.  I'm just falling apart more and more every day.

Now, it's time to work on finalizing my retreat that is scheduled for the third weekend in August.  Some of the participants are the same, but a few are different.  My two groups are starting to overlap. 

Tuesday, July 17, 2012


What can I say?  Ever since I figured out that you could download books from the library to our Nook, I've been buried in books.  So......whenever I'm not quilting, I'm reading.  Lately it's been a little too much reading and not enough quilting.  I need to get on the ball and whittle down this UFO list to a more manageable size.  Hope to have more progress soon.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Another finish - sort of

Made the back and got her all quilted up yesterday afternoon.  Made the binding and machine stitched it on this morning,  All that remains is the handwork.  I think I'll save that for my upcoming retreat.

I have a retreat scheduled for next weekend and one of our favorite times is "Binding and Movie".  We all get into our pajamas, get our handwork and settle in for a movie.

I keep getting things together to have ready to take with me to the retreat and then I keep finishing them up.  By the time the retreat gets here, I may have to look for something new to start.  

Friday, July 13, 2012

The middle is together!

Got all the blocks sewn together.  Looks pretty cool!
Now I need to work on the borders.

Or not?  The original plan was to put a small yellow border and then a larger blue one, but.....  It's already 48 inches square.  Perhaps just blue binding would be enough.  What do you think?

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Feeling Better

I love to keep Joni company when she is sewing, especially when I get impromptu belly rubs.

Turning Out Nice

Well, I got all of my Grecian Design blocks sewn together.  Then I chopped them up.  Now, I'm in the process of sewing them back together.  Again!  These are the first four blocks.  I think it's going to turn out really nice.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Crazy Couple of Days

Our poor little Sweetheart was having a really hard time.  She was sneezing all night long and she was miserable.  And because she was miserable, so was I.  I was up for at least 2 hours in the night trying to console her, and unable to sleep because I was worried about her.

I ended up turning off the alarm and sleeping in, now that I was finally able to sleep.  When I got up, we were off to the Vet.  She was happy to be picked up and loved on, but when I headed for the door, she started looking for a way out.  She knew what was up.

When we got there, it turns out that the issue is her teeth.  Again!  I don't know if it is her breed (Chihuahua and Pomeranian) or something she is doing or what, but we are going to have to put this girl on a regular dental schedule, so she doesn't suffer this way again.

She spent the day at the dentist and was VERY happy to see me that afternoon.  Now, we are into 10 days of antibiotics.  Oh boy! Oh boy!  We get to have cheese twice a day!

My sleep patterns were out of whack so I've been early to bed the last couple of days and have not gotten anything done in the sewing room.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Piles of parts all sewn up

Got my piles of half square triangles all squared up.  Then got the rows sewn together, but that’s as far as I could go today.  Tomorrow is another day.

Design Wall Monday

One block only, but it's a start.

I can't show you the rest of my wall, since it's a mystery.  Don't want to spoil it for the others.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Finally Have a Plan

I've been procrastinating for weeks and months.  I haven't started on my Paint Chip Challenge Quilt before now because I could not decide on a pattern to use.  The colors of my paint chips lead to a baby quilt.  I wanted something rather simple, but not the same old same old, if you know what I mean.  

I saw a write-up called "Chopping Block" in QuiltMaker Magazine of Mar/Apr 2012.  It talked about several blocks which can be constructed and then sliced up and rearranged to make new blocks.  I decided to go with the Chopped Up Grecian Design Block.

This is the Grecian Design Block as originally constructed.

The block is then cut down the middle up and down and then down the middle side to side.  The top right  and bottom left portions are turned 90 degrees counter-clockwise and then the parts of the block are sewn together again, as seen below.  The surprise is that once you turn the blocks and attempt to sew them back together, you will see that the seams on the little pink squares do not line up.  They are off by 1/4 of an inch.  This is as it should be, but it is hard to get used to, when one is used to trying to be very particular about matching seams.

After making all the blocks, they can be put together to form the quilt shown below. 

Well, anyway, that's my plan.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Short week

The work week sure goes by fast when it starts on Thursday and ends on Friday.  I took off on Monday and Tuesday to catch up on some sewing and to jump start my new diet.  Then Wednesday was a holiday.  I was at work yesterday, but had to leave early for a doctor's appointment.  Then today is Friday. Whoopee! Too bad they are not all this way.

This has been a busy year of guild projects for me.

  • January-November - Mystery Quilt
  • February - Retreat
  • February-August - Paint Chip Challenge Leader and participant
  • March-April - Quilt in a Box project
  • May - Retreat
  • May-October - Christmas Lotto Block Committee
  • September-October - Guild Auction Committee
  • November-December - Christmas Party Committee

Last night was our guild meeting.  It was a bit hectic for me and I had way too much caffeine at dinner so I was a bit fragmented when I got there.  We started selling the Christmas Lotto block kits at this meeting.  We originally made up 120 kits, which will come out to be six quilts.  And wouldn't you know it, we sold every single one of them.  We took a show of hands and then we pre-sold almost another quilt's worth.  So I guess we'll be making 40 more kits and there'll be eight quilts, unless we have to make even more.  It'll be neat to have so many winners at our Christmas Party.

Every year the guild has a challenge and this year the challenge was to be a Paint Chip Challenge which the board volunteered me to head up.  I have my paint chips and I have my fabric, but I have not been able to zero in on which pattern I want to use.  My fabrics are perfect for a baby quilt and it should go fast, but I don't want something that is too simple.  I want to do something unique.  I finally have an idea that I may be happy with.  I'm gonna check it out in EQ this evening to see if it'll work the way I expect.  And then, of course, I'll have to see if I have enough of the fabric to do what I want.  If I can at least decide WHAT I'm doing, then maybe I can get started.  It would be really terrible if I didn't even have a quilt in the competition, after being in charge.  Not saying that's gonna happen!  I'll stay up all night the night before, but I won't let that happen.  Anyway, it's due at our August meeting. Do you see where all the !!!!! are coming from? 

In addition to all these, I've been on two retreats already and have three more scheduled.  I have quilted 5 more quilts for the family of my friend who died last year and two for a lady at work.  I have 5 of my own quilts ready to be quilted, one from a friend (got it last night), and a pile of Mom's at her house.

I may be caught up one project, but I'm way behind on most of the others.    

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Caught up...Finally

Worked most of the day catching up on all of my mystery quilt installments.  I can't believe I actually caught up on them.  Tons and tons of nine patch blocks.  I've had enough of them for a while to come.   I've laid out my blocks on my design wall and I have made some educated guesses on where certain blocks will go.  The guild meeting is in two days and then I'll have the next installment.  And then I'll know if my guesses were correct.  I've gone from being soooo very far behind to being well on my way to finishing up on time or even a bit early.

I also cut the side setting triangles as well as the borders for my Take 5 Crosses the line.  I labeled my blocks and stacked them for sewing.  I'll keep them and finish up the top at my upcoming retreat on July 20.

In the mean time, I still have tops that need quilting and I also have a Paint Chip Challenge to start on.  It's due in August, so I'm even farther behind on it.  I know.  Why have I been working on the quilt that is due in November if I have on that is due in August?  Well, it's mostly because I have not actually decided on which pattern I'll use for this challenge.  One day soon, I'll just have to pick something and get started.  After all, I was the one who got talked into leading this challenge.  The least I can do is have an entry in the thing.  

Monday, July 2, 2012

Making up for lost time

I spent my day making up for lost time.  I buzzed through the March installment of the Mystery Quilt and then the April installment, which took quite a bit longer.  I'm in the middle of the May installment now, but I'll have to finish it tomorrow.  I would show pictures, but.....I already showed you the fabrics.  I have to keep something a mystery.  It won't be long and you'll be able to see the final product.

I did seven loads of laundry, including towels, sheets, and the quilt off the bed.  And I also went to physical therapy and the gym.  It was a full day of progress.  Tomorrow will bring more.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Cleaning & Cutting

I finished up Norma's travel bag this morning. It was a real challenge. I had all the pieces that she had already cut. A few had fleece already ironed on them and there was some binding on one part, but that was it. I had a picture of what the bag was supposed to look like, but no pattern. It was a real challenge, but I did my best and I think it came out okay. I totally forgot to take a picture. Oh well. We delivered four quilts and the finished travel bag to Deede. This means that I am finally done with all that of the projects that I had committed to finish for my friend Norma who died last November.

We took pound cake to DBF's father for his birthday and had a nice visit.  We also brought them some tomatoes from the garden.

When we got home, I had designs on getting something done.   Right off, I realized that nothing was going to happen unless or until I cleaned up the sewing room, so I got busy.  I actually got my book and fabric closet cleaned up and organized so that I can get in the door.  I got the sewing table cleaned off and you can actually see the entire cutting mat for the first time in months. 

It's so much easier to work in here.  It's so much easier to get excited about working on something, anything.  

Our quilt guild is working on a mystery quilt.  The first installment was passed out back in January. The mystery is called War Between the States and it was suggested that Civil War prints would be good.  I finally got my fabric about a week and a half ago.  It's gonna be a bit wild.  Today, I actually got it all cut out.  I guess you could say I've finally finished up the February installment. I've only got four more months to catch up on. I'd better get going. I can't believe I've postponed this so long and finally gotten started just before the last installment. I believe that the last installment is to be given out either in August or September (I think September). I only have until November to get this done. At this rate, I'm in trouble.

I took off work tomorrow and Tuesday. Other than physical therapy, I'll be free to get at least something sewn or cut or SOMETHING in that time frame. Especially now that the room is cleaned up. I'd better take this opportunity to make use of these things before they get buried again.

For now, I think it's break time.  I'm gonna go read and let the sewing room just be clean for a while.