Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Stats: who knew?

My blog is hosted by Blogger.  I've just been so tickled pink to do the basic blogging thing that I haven't ever taken the time to explore other options offered by Blogger. So, it was a delightful experience to discover that Blogger keeps statistics of various kinds on your blog that you can see.  Who knew that statistics options was available??  :-)

For just *today's* (8/23/11) stats, while I see I've mostly had visitors from the USA, I *also* have had visitors from Canada, Australia, United Arab Emirates, Germany, Spain, Philippines, and Chile!  Imagine that!!

And for this weeks' stats, visitors came from Canada, United Kingdom, Australia, Germany, India, Netherlands, Colombia, Spain, and France!  Wowsers!!

*ALL* *OVER* *THE* *WORLD*.   Primarily English-speaking countries don't necessarily surprise me (I'm waving to Canada, the UK, Australia) but all the other countries, where English might be spoken, but not as the primary language ...   UAE?  Europe?? South America?? Southeast Asia??   and that is just *this week*.   I am deeply grateful for all of you readers!

Thank you so much for reading my blog.  I write mainly to document for myself what I'm doing as a digital diary of sorts.  I love to share my knowledge with others and am very, very happy (and pleased!) to see that so many people from all over the world drop by to read what I'm doing.  I'm just astounded by how far blogs reach.

I know (through Google Reader) that there are many blogs written in languages other than English.  I admire all the eye-candy on those blogs without understanding the verbage.  There was one blog from the Netherlands that prompted me to click through to it and leave a comment.  I had no idea if the author spoke English or not, but figured my enthusiasm and compliments would come through (at least the smiley face, if nothing else!).  To my pleasure, the author responded to my comment in English, so I'm happy she actually understood my words.  :-)

So, to all you quilters Out There .... all around the world ... thank you for reading my blog!  Thank you for stopping by.  Thank you for having *your own blogs*!  I love, love, love reading about what everyone is doing.  While many pieces are inspirational to me, I have come to the stage in my life that I realize I can ADMIRE something and not necessarily need to REPLICATE it.  Please continue to post pictures .. *lots* of pictures!  Seeing all the eye-candy is one of the bright spots of my day!  :-)

Where has the QUILTING gone??

Since (approximately) the late 1960's (honest!), my creative life has centered around sewing and needlework.  When I was in high school, I made most of my clothing.  I took a break during college cuz schoolwork got in my way.  :-)

Once I had graduated and was gainfully employed, I started my needlework phase.  All KINDS of hand needlework and I loved it.

When my girls were born in the mid 1980's, I realized that making decorative, embellished items wasn't a good use of my time, so I resumed garment sewing ... this time for them.  When they entered junior high school and wanted to wear nothing but jeans and t-shirts, I declined to sew those items. :-)    That's when I *really* started quilting.

But for a very brief period in high school (circa early 1970's), I started to crochet.  I'm not sure if I was taught or learned by myself, but I had Grand Illusions of making a granny square afghan for my bed.  I studiously made granny square after granny square, bundling them up in piles of 10s (for easy counting).  I also made a WHOLE BUNCH of granny square centers (only).   At some point, I started to whip-stitch the squares together.  And then ... at some later point .... they all got put away.

I never *quite* forgot about them because when I moved from my parents' house to my apartment ... and then to my house ... and then when I reorganized or cleaned out my sewing room ... that project was always there.

Let's fast forward to current times  ... 2011.  I've been trying to work on finishing up UFOs (UnFinished Objects) and I finally came to grips with the fact that I really, *really*, REALLY ought to finish the granny square afghan.   I hauled out the project bag and (re)discovered that (apparently) the reason I had stopped was due to the fact that I had run out of the white yarn I was using for the final rounds.  Off to Joann's to try to find a compatible white.  I had no illusions that I would find an exact match after (gulp) 30-odd years but I hoped to find something "close".  Under the store lights, I found a compatible match. However ... and you knew this was coming, right? ... back home under natural light, I realized that my new white yarn really, *really*, REALLY wasn't suitable.  ::sigh::

Since it is MUCH easier for me to make bed-sized *quilts* rather than bed-sized afghans, I made an Executive Decision to simply leave the already sewn-together squares as they were; it would make a decent sized baby blanket.   Using the power of the internet, I found a SIMPLE picot edging and was exceedingly pleased to conquer it!

With the previously-made granny square centers, I used the new white yarn to complete the squares.  Again using the power of the internet, I learned I could use a slip stitch to join the squares together.  (The previous squares had been whip-stitched and I didn't particularly care for that technique).  More internet powers revealed a more ambitious (but still do-able for me) lacey edging.

 Voila!!  I know have two baby afghans completed!  (No grandchildren yet .. none in the foreseeable future, but that's OK.)  I will simply pack them away until the appropriate time.  Middle Dear Daughter wanted to know if I was going to donate them to the crisis nursery (where I donate my small quilts); I told her most emphatically 'no way!'.  These afghans took too much of my time to donate them!  They will be for family. :-)

But I still had a bunch of yarn leftover from the granny square project.  I started looking for EASY projects to do and found one, the Cross Stitch Afghan.

[Let me say, at this point ... end of July 2011 ... my oldest Dear Daughter finally decided on what kind of wedding outfit she wanted and asked me if I could/would make it for her in time for her early September 2011 wedding.  It isn't a complicated garment .. a corset top and an A-line skirt .. but Dear Daughter wanted elements that weren't on the pattern and then changed her mind after the base pieces were already cut out ... so I was stressing over the making of it.   I dealt with the stress of problem solving by procrastination ... and working on this new crochet interest.]

I started it with a deep maroon yarn but my sister in law pointed out that maroon was a really dark color for a baby afghan, I agreed ... and changed the focus of this particular project.  What I'll do with this, instead of making an afghan out of just one color (and in a small size, per the instructions), I'm going to make a whole BUNCH of big blocks and stitch them together like a patchwork quilt.  This crochet project has now become my current Forever Project. :-)

But .. as I was looking for companion yarns to work with the maroon, I saw these very soft balls of yarn.  On the wrapper was a diagonal shell stitch pillow that the instructions SAID was easy.  Well .. it kinda sorta was.  Middle Dear Daughter, who is a GENIUS when it comes to knitting and crocheting, helped me out when I couldn't make heads nor tails of the instructions.  I muddled through the pillow project, working on it when I came up against brick walls during the construction of the wedding outfit.

I just now finished the diagonal shell pillow ... and even with all the beginner faux pas and mistakes ... I'm rather pleased with it.

Sadly, I still have some of that very soft yarn leftover .. and need to do something with it.  :-)

On the wedding outfit front, all the problems (up until now!) have been resolved and all I need to do is finish it!  If I concentrate on my sewing, I can get everything done by this weekend .. God willing and the creek don't rise.  :-)

So what am I doing?  Blog entries!  :-)

But after the wedding??  Oh my hallelujah! .... it's gonna be QUILTING TIME!  :-)

Friday, August 19, 2011

Oh! I've entered a contest! Vote for me!

I usually don't enter contests because I have SO MANY projects on my List of Quilts To Make that I can't ever justify deviating from working on my List to work on a different, specific quilt.  However, I just happened to stumble upon the weekly contest over at the Quilting Gallery.  The theme of this current week's "Floral Quilts".

Well, by golly, I *do* have a floral quilt!  It's even quilted!  :-)  So, on a whim, I entered into the contest with Nabi Garden.  :-)  (that link will send you to *my* webpage where Nabi Garden is described in excruciating detail.  Lotsa verbage and lotsa pictures!)

Apparently the winner is determined by popular vote, so I am asking you, Dear Reader, to surf on over to the Weekly Contest.  Scroll on down the page and you'll see thumbnails of all the entries.  Below the pictures will be some check boxes.  The Rules state that you (as voter) can choose up to six quilts.  Please be sure to make sure that my Nabi Garden is one of the ones you checked!  :-)

In any case, I would deeply, deeply appreciate it if y'all would go to the contest link and VOTE FOR ME!  :-)  Although there are some absolutely wonderful quilts entered, none are as wonderful as mine. :-)  I urge you to admire but ignore them.  Vote for me!  :-)

(subliminal message: Vote for me!)

Monday, August 15, 2011

Pets on Quilts

(edited .. I forgot that Freeservers doesn't allow linking so I've edited the post to upload the same pictures from my computer.  Sorry 'bout that!)

SewCalGal burst upon the blogging scene with a big, ol' bang in February 2009 and hasn't slowed down at all!  One of the items that she continually blogs about are giveaways and contests.  Her current giveaway is connected with her Pets on Quilts Show.    Blog about your own quilts with pets on them, quilts with pet motifs,  EQ6/EQ7 designs, Quilt Art, Machine Embroidered quilts....all with a pet theme ..provide a link back to your own blog on her blog and you've entered the show!

Naturally, I needed to take a trip down memory lane to see what quilts I have that qualify!  Beware!  my goodness this turned out to be a LONG entry!

During the construction phase, most of the time, I wage a battle with our resident cats to keep them FROM sitting on my quilts.  But, cats being cats, they seem to find the SMALLEST area of fabric and then occupy it.  It's a continual, on-going battle.  Unless I'm creative, they win.  :-)

 First we have "You Can't See Me".  Little Paw, our tortoiseshell, hides face first in the Lumiere de Noel quilt I made in November 2010. 

Also in November, I was working the appliqued border for a Carpenter's Wheel quilt.  I stepped away from my work for just a minute and when I returned, there she was ... keeping it from floating away.

 (As is usual, my piecing goes faster than my quilting, so the Carpenter's Wheel is still at the flimsy stage.)

In September 2010, I made a small quilt for my niece's toddler.  Unbelievably, I gave it to her without taking a picture of the finished quilt!  Oy!  What a doofus!

The quilt was made from a pre-printed panel and appliqued blocks.  This was the first time I had tried faux trapunto and was pleased it came out looking so nicely!
In August 2010, I started working on twelve embroidered blocks of dresses from the 1950's called "Dress Me Up".  I finished the last embroidered block in April 2011 ... and it's also a WIP.  I haven't even sashed the blocks!

But, Little Paw was helping me by anchoring whatever block I was working on.

I was also working on 4-Patch and Furrows in August of 2010.

I got a 2-fer for this quilt.  Both Sneaker (our tuxedo cat) and Little Paw, in a very rare display of detente, snuggle into the quilt.
(Here's the completed 4-Patch and Furrows.  I gotta remember to make a page for it!)

In June 2010, I was working on my Equilateral Triangles.  Little Paw not only makes sure that quilts are snuggle-tested and hand-work doesn't float away but she also CLOSELY supervises the actual piecing.

In May 2010, I was working on Propeller and Little Paw made sure that the flimsy didn't slip off my sewing cabinet.

April 2010 found Little Paw providing another snuggle test to Royal Mendhi Crystals.

Another April 2010 quilt, this time a 9 Patch Pizzazz lap quilt, got the snuggle test.

Even Nabi Garden, in January 2010, was subjected to the snuggle test.

November 2009 found Star Galaxy a perfect place to hide.

Are you tired of seeing that same darn cat sitting on my projects?  LOL!!

I actually found a quilt OF a cat this time!  In January 2009, I made Cat and the Canary, using Patrick Lose's line of cat fabrics.   The gold feathers and the black cat are needleturn appliqued.

Although this is a picture of it at the flimsy stage, I actually did get it quilted .. hmm ... perhaps I ought to take a picture of the finished quilt and update the webpage!

Sometime in 2002, I found these marvelous batik'd cat squares and made a pillow from them.

In May 2001, I hosted a block swap of a pieced cat that was featured in McCall's quilting.  Although this picture is of the flimsy, I did have it quilted by a local longarmer.

And FINALLY .. ohmygoodness, I bet you thought this entry would NEVER end!

March 2001 ... here is the very first pet-themed quilt I made, Sushi Cats.   All the Flying Geese are of cat prints; the background are of cat's paw prints and the border is a marvelous, absolutely fantastic print of sushi cats!

Post Script: I actually did find at least two more quilts where our cats were inspecting them, but I have taken pity on you ... you've seen enough!  :-)

Post Post Script:  the Pets on Quilts Show ends on Friday, August 19th.  On August 20th and 21st, you can vote for your favorite blog entry at SewCalGal's blog.  I hope you will vote for ME!  :-)

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

life on the suburban homestead

We have 22 chickens.  They have a very nice, roomy chicken coop (which is actually big enough to be a child's playhouse) and a very large, fenced in chicken yard.  They have sun and shade and water in the yard .. and for a chicken, it probably pretty pleasant.  If chickens ever thought anything like that.

Some of them have figured out that they can fly and perch on top of the gate to their yard .. and thence to freedom in our one acre property.  Some of them haven't figured out the flying bit yet and so remain "ladies in bondage".  :-)

About 2 hours or so before sunset, I take pity on the ones still inside the yard and let them all out to free-range.  Sometime during this ritual, it became standard procedure for me to bring "treats" to our ladies.  Most of the time, the "treats" are pieces of bread, cut up into small chunks.  The minute .. and I mean the absolute MINUTE .. they hear/see me emerge from the house onto the deck, the ones that are out on the lawn make a beeline for me.  They do this highly amusing torpedo run and slight flapping of their wings to hurry them along.  They surround me and wait for their treats; some of them have taken to jumping up to get it from my fingers.

One of my neighbors adores the chickens.  She lives in a condo with just a pocket front and back yard.  She loves to bring her kitchen produce scraps over for the ladies to eat.  The latest offering was a head of leafy lettuce.  I cross-cut the head of lettuce up so it would be in long strips. 

It was interesting that if I offered the lettuce to the ladies, as I do the treats, they would have *nothing* of them.  BUT .. if I scattered the lettuce on the ground ... all of a sudden, the lettuce became choice morsels!

Then there's our two white crested, black Polish hens.  I think between the two of them, they almost have a brain.  Although they do have real, formal names, currently we are calling them Nutsy and Doofus.  :-)