Sunday, December 28, 2008

Hello, My Name is Doris

I love the AMC series "Mad Men". When I heard there was a "Are you a Marilyn or a Jackie" quiz, I looked it up and took it. Imagine my surprise when I discovered I'm neither! I'm Doris!

You are a Doris -- "I must help others."

Dorises are warm, concerned, nurturing, and sensitive to other people's needs.

How to Get Along with Me
* Tell me that you appreciate me. Be specific.
* Share fun times with me.
* Take an interest in my problems, though I will probably try to focus on yours.
* Let me know that I am important and special to you.
* Be gentle if you decide to criticize me.

In Intimate Relationships
* Reassure me that I am interesting to you.
* Reassure me often that you love me.
* Tell me I'm attractive and that you're glad to be seen with me.

What I Like About Being a Doris
* being able to relate easily to people and to make friends
* knowing what people need and being able to make their lives better
* being generous, caring, and warm
* being sensitive to and perceptive about others' feelings
* being enthusiastic and fun-loving, and having a good sense of humor

What's Hard About Being a Doris
* not being able to say no
* having low self-esteem
* feeling drained from overdoing for others
* not doing things I really like to do for myself for fear of being selfish
* criticizing myself for not feeling as loving as I think I should
* being upset that others don't tune in to me as much as I tume in to them
* working so hard to be tactful and considerate that I suppress my real feelings

Dorises as Children Often
* are very sensitive to disapproval and criticism
* try hard to please their parents by being helpful and understanding
* are outwardly compliant
* are popular or try to be popular with other children
* act coy, precocious, or dramatic in order to get attention
* are clowns and jokers (the more extroverted Dorises), or quiet and shy (the more introverted Dorises)

Dorises as Parents
* are good listeners, love their children unconditionally, and are warm and encouraging (or suffer guilt if they aren't)
* are often playful with their children
* wonder: "Am I doing it right?" "Am I giving enough?" "Have I caused irreparable damage?"
* can become fiercely protective

You can take the test yourself here I'd love to hear about your results!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

One Solitary Life

He was born in an obscure village
The child of a peasant woman
He grew up in another obscure village
Where he worked in a carpenter shop
Until he was thirty

He never wrote a book
He never held an office
He never went to college
He never visited a big city
He never travelled more than two hundred miles
From the place where he was born
He did none of the things
Usually associated with greatness
He had no credentials but himself

He was only thirty three

His friends ran away
One of them denied him
He was turned over to his enemies
And went through the mockery of a trial
He was nailed to a cross between two thieves
While dying, his executioners gambled for his clothing
The only property he had on earth

When he was dead
He was laid in a borrowed grave
Through the pity of a friend

Nineteen centuries have come and gone
And today Jesus is the central figure of the human race
And the leader of mankind's progress
All the armies that have ever marched
All the navies that have ever sailed
All the parliaments that have ever sat
All the kings that ever reigned put together
Have not affected the life of mankind on earth
As powerfully as that one solitary life

This essay was adapted from a sermon by Dr James Allan Francis in “The Real Jesus and Other Sermons” © 1926 by the Judson Press of Philadelphia (pp 123-124 titled “Arise Sir Knight!”). If you are interested, you can read the original version .

Monday, December 22, 2008

A Confession: What I REALLY Want For Christmas...

Dear Reader,

I confess, I love my hit counter. It tells me that a great many more people stop by here than I had realized without it. I'm sure if I offered a give away, I would get lots of people leaving comments, but that feels like bribing people for my own satisfaction, so I am honestly confessing my curiosity... who are you?

If you don't like publicly comment, would you send a private email, please? I'd love to know what brought you to my page, whether you're a quilter, and what you like to read in your free time.

The Curious Confession Maker

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Last Licks

I stopped a few inches shy of the end, so I could share the joy of finishing the binding on Mimi's quilt with you. Coming to the end of such a long unfinished project is a great victory as well as a great joy. I had hoped to finish the binding on Friday and get it in the mail, but instead, I'll take my victory lap today. One more quilt with a binding to sew down, and three table runners to quilt and I'm done with Christmas sewing. Wahoo!

In case you forgot what the front of this quilt looks like:

Monday, December 15, 2008

Dear Santa...

My quilting wishlist looks like this:

Binding Clips
Swiss Pins
Glass head Pins
Renewed subscription to BHG American Patchwork
Flexible curve
6 x 24 ruler (I can barely make out the markings on the one I have)
Magazine organizers
Rotary cutting blades
Superior monofil thread

What are you hoping to find under the tree this year?

Friday, December 12, 2008

ECQG Happenings

Today was Melinda's last day as president of the guild, it is the tradition of the guild to thank the outgoing president with a quilt, a project the 1st vice president (yours truly) chairs. If you know Melinda, then you know that lime green is a neutral, as far as she is concerned. There was no way we could make a quilt for her that didn't have at least a little bit of lime green! I chose the split 9-patch block and got to work on EQ deciding how to color it and set the blocks for an interesting quilt. Many thanks to Betty Alonsious for doing the quilting, it really made the piece come alive. It's been hard not to share with you the pictures as this quilt was coming together, but since Melinda is my most faithful reader, I couldn't possibly!

Also today, I was elected president of the ECQG. It's hardly a surprise, being first vice president usually (but not always) means that you will be elected as president in the following year. It's an honor, really, we've got 250 members, many of whom I've had the pleasure of knowing personally and serving alongside in one capacity or another. I am sorry to see Melinda step aside as president, she has done a wonderful job, and leaves me with VERY big shoes to fill.

The ECQG 2009 raffle quilt.

The biggest event on the horizon is our 2009 quilt show "Georgia Celebrates Quilts". If you are able to get to the Atlanta area for this wonderful show, you will see quits that rival those in the Nashville show. In addition to my "day job" as guild president, I am also co-chair of the set-up/take-down committee. Which means I get to see a blank convention hall transform in just over 24 hours into a beautiful quilt show. (What takes 24 hours to set up comes down in about 3 hours... it's AMAZING.)

Kathy got the owl pin cushion I made, and she seems to like it!

ECQG Pin Cushions

The ECQG is having a pin cushion exchange at our Christmas party. After looking at many patterns, I chose something that perhaps was not intended for a pin cushion, but was (in my opinion) adorable. I found the pattern in french, which I read passably well, but didn't really need for the completion of the project, it was so simple. I used a batik flannel for the body, a toast colored flannel for the belly, and they are filled with crushed walnut shells. I made four, one for each of the guild exchanges I was hoping to attend, one for myself and one for a briner friend who had us over for dinner recently.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Working Wednesdays

Those who have known me for the past couple of years have asked how I've suddenly become more productive. Here's the secret: I have a dedicated day for quiltmaking. On Wednesdays I typically have no appointments or errands that need to be run, I have stopped accepting lunch dates and planning meetings for Wednesday. I can start sewing the minute hubby and Kay leave the house in the morning and go until Kay returns from school. I can get a lot done in that space of time. It's not always quilting. It not even always sewing. I spent one whole day reorganizing my fabric room so I could use it and find things more easily. It is always about getting things done so I can finish more projects. Of course, I work on quilts at other times during the week, I carry handwork with me virtually everywhere, and love to sit and watch a movie with the family while doing hand stitching, but having a dedicated day gives me time to sit at my machine and really pound through a project.

It takes some planning. I either make a big enough meal the night before that I don't have to cook on Wednesday, or I make an easy enough meal that I don't have to do a lot of prep during the day. I make sure that whatever I need for the project at hand is in the house. I don't want to have to run over to the LQS in the middle of the day, or stop working because I don't have enough of the right thread. I make sure that on Tuesday I have cleared counters, tables, or whatever else is necessary as a working space for the project at hand. Also I make sure I either have something entertaining, it could be something saved on the DVR, an audio book, or a DVD. Currently I'm listening to "Team of Rivals". It's very LONG and has kept me good company.

So what am I working on today? Placemats, table runners and grocery sacks that fold up like quillows, all Christmas gifts.

Monday, December 8, 2008

The Oldest UFO

One of my goals for this year has been to get some UFO's off the shelf. This quilt is the oldest of all my UFOs.
A long time ago I got a crazy idea over Thanksgiving weekend to make a queen sized quilt for each of my siblings. The first two were easy, a blooming 9-patch, and a modified scrappy bargello. Both were quilted with fairly simple meandering and done in a week. This last quilt was harder. I had a stack of blocks, and decided to make a sampler quilt.

Well enough. I made the borders, planning as I went along. Got it sandwiched and did the bare bones quilting (stitching in the ditch around ever major element) and began doing some of the detail work in the blocks. I got stumped about what to do next, and as I usually have done, put it aside. My sister opened a box with a partially quilted quilt and happily gave it back to me so I could finish it. Then I got pregnant. I got distracted with other things. Our dad was dying. We were both expecting babies. This quilt languished. Then, not long after dad died, my husband and I decided to move to Georgia. It got packed in a box and all but forgotten about.

Mimi and I have been joking about this "unfinished symphony" for nearly a decade. Last month I decided to finally drag it out and finish it so I could give it to her for a Christmas gift this year. (Lesson here, folks... if you wait long enough, you can give the same gift, twice.)

Well, last month finished out without even a stitch going into this quilt. But yesterday I pulled it out and got to work. The Lord himself must have sent me strength and determination because I got most of the quilt finished in one day. All of the detail work that was needed in the blocks, and the next three borders is done. I have only the final border to finish and then the binding. Hooray!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Piecemaker's Christmas Brunch

At the Piecemaker's Christmas brunch on Monday, many members revealed their finished exchange quilts. Mine is not ready to be unveiled yet, but I wanted to show you the beautiful quilts others have done. You may remember that everyone provided a focus fabric she liked, and committed to making a particular block for each member in a color way that complimented her choice of focus fabric. We each made 16 blocks. You can see those blocks in my October 28 blog entry. Now you can see how creatively our group set those blocks!

Linda's Quilt:

Jan's Quilt:

Joanne's Quilt:

Nancy's Quilt:

Gail's Quilt:

Barbara's Quilt:

Michelle's Quilt:

Monday, December 1, 2008

Monthly Accounting

Hey what do you know, it's time to make the second installment of monthly accounting.

So how did I do with my goals last month?

-Quilt and bind table runner for my sister-in-law as a hostess gift for Thanksgiving

Made Progress:
-Binding for "Blush and Bashful" (Kay's pink and pink glorified 9 patch quilt)
-Sandwich, quilt and bind "Princeton Plainsboro" (2007 Piecemaker's house quilt project)
-Make applique center for 2008 Piecemakers' exchange quilt
-Finish piecing the top for "Ramblin' Rose"
-Finish blackwork blocks by the end of 2008.

Left Untouched:
-Sandwich, quilt and bind "Briner's Picnic"
-Finish quilting Victorian sampler quilt for my sister's Christmas gift.

New items to put on my list for December:
2 pin cushions for the ECQG exchange
3 placemats/tablerunner sets for gifts
6 grocery sacks for gifts

Friday, November 28, 2008

Confession Time: Binding

I don't know how to bind. Actually I don't know how to do a lot of things, and I made a decision earlier this year that I"m going to start asking questions and getting to the bottom of the missing parts of my knowledge in ALL areas of my life.

How have I been quilting all these years without learning how to bind properly? I am a self-taught quilter. The first time I made a quilt, I cut the binding on grain, folded it like commercial binding tape, with raw edges to the center of the strip, then folded it down the center and pressed. Then I fitted it over the raw edge of the quilt and machine stitched it down through the top layers of binding, quilt and lower layers, when I got back to the beginning, I lapped the end over the beginning, and tucked in the raw edge before I finished stitching it down.

Come to think of it, I might have bound my first THREE quilts that way.

Then I met someone who taught me the right way to apply the binding, cutting it, folding it and stitching it to the quilt edge before turning it over and hand stitching it onto the back of the quilt. Except, I didn't learn how to do corners. Or join the beginning with the end. So I did what some judges called "Lap Binding" or "Butt Corners" where you bind the sides separately, making neat (but not mitered) corners. This is how I've finished every quilt I've done for 10 years or more. FWIW, judges always say my bindings are good, but I KNOW they could be better.

This year I want to learn the "right way". I have several quilts which need or will need binding in the next few weeks. I am determined to use this opportunity to get it firmly ingrained in my mind so I can do better bindings. Melinda has some tricks for me, so I'm hoping to get with her after Thanksgiving and get to work on those projects that are almost complete.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Basket Making

So you've seen the blocks I received in the Piecemaker's exchange this year. The goal every year is to have the blocks sewn together for show and tell during our Christmas party. The past two years, I've at least had the quilt top put together. This year I'm hoping to have enough of the center applique block done to show people my concept. I'm working from a design in Ellie Seinkiewicz's "The Best of Baltimore Beauties". I enlarged the design to fit the space I had to fill (27") and began making freezer paper templates. I'm not sure I'm going to make all the flowers the same as the original design, but I know I want to use the roses, since the focus fabric I selected for the blocks has red roses in it.

First I selected the fabrics for the basket and ribs. I decided to use Karen Kay Buckley's method for machine applique since it was a lot of long lines, most easily (and quickly done) on machine. Also it gets me far enough ahead that I might actually be able to take this piece with me for the holiday and sew the first layer of leaves and petals down.

I started making the leaves, and the bottom pieces of the roses, auditioning fabric as I went along, placing them on the big paper pattern I had made to see how they "played together" and to keep track of what was done.

I had a selection of greens sitting on my ironing board and pulled from them as I went along.

Then I taped my pattern to a picture window, and taped my fabric piece over it. I marked in water soluble ink the bare bones of the pattern so I could place the elements as I went along.

I laid the pieces down on the fabric and realized I wasn't happy with the reds I had chosen for my roses. (See Mary Sorenson? I WAS paying attention in color selection class.)

So I cut some more. I like these better.

Next I basted down the pieces I have. I'll have to be careful to watch which pieces go over or under another as I go along, stitching, but I have a miniature copy (6") of the block to carry with me in case I need to refer to it.

I don't like to make all of my color choices and design decisions in the beginning. I find things occur to me as I go along. I'm happy with my progress so far, considering that when I woke up on Wednesday I hadn't done anything more than piecing the background for this work. I just realized the basket still needs a base. I'll be looking for that "perfect fabric" or combination of fabrics to use for that bit.

Cool Giveaway

Lenna at Stitching Cow is having a cool giveaway contest. Her Cottages in Common online class is worth $300 and could be yours for free! Go check out her blog for details.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Baby It's Cold Outside

Brrrr. It was 24 degrees here in the north suburbs today. This might be the coldest November I've seen since moving here. Last night I made a big batch of corn chowder.

Here is the first of several table runners I am making for gifts. I'm looking for creative ideas for the next batch. I want to do table runners and placemats for three families who know each other, it would be nice if they weren't all the same. If you have any idea or can point me to a pattern, I'd be grateful. I haven't done a lot of these kinds of projects in the past, and I don't really care for fusible applique, but I'd be willing to consider it for this kind of work.

Thanks for stopping by, I hope you're keeping warm!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

In a Single Word

I got this from Julie at High Fiber Content who said it must be done in one word answers, give it a try.

Where is your mobile phone? purse
Where is your significant other? upstairs
Your hair colour? chestnut
Your mother? tall
Your father? hero
Your favorite thing? cooking
Your dream last night? forgotten
Your dream goal? peace
The room you're in? comfortable
Your hobby? daydreaming
Your fear? violence
Where do you want to be in 6 years? further
Where were you last night? bed
What you're not? defeated
One of your wish-list items? Photoshop
Where you grew up? Waltham
The last thing you did? breakfast
What are you wearing? nightgown
Your TV? plasma
Your pets? poodle
Your computer? Apple
Your mood? hopeful
Missing someone? Meg
Your car? awesome
Something you're not wearing? watch
Favourite shop? Tiny Stitches
Your summer? delicious
Love someone? absolutely
Your favourite colour? red
When is the last time you laughed? yesterday
When is the last time you cried? Monday

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Ramblin' Rose Never Made it to Jamestown

This is the block of the month quilt from 2007 at Tiny Stitches, my LQS. I was really proud last year, that while I didn't actually make a block a month, I DID make all the blocks before 2008 arrived. I never intended to set the blocks as Marti Michell did in her Ramblin' Rose Goes to Jamestown quilt. This was the first time I ever worked with Marti's templates, and I'll tell you something, if you don't know what a quarter inch seam is, your blocks will NEVER come together properly using her templates. Making these blocks has improved my piecing accuracy DRAMATICALLY.

The original design for the quilt calls for setting the blocks with diagonal rows of log cabin blocks. I just didn't think it showcased the blocks as strongly as I'd like. (God help me, I'm criticizing Marti Michell for heaven's sake.) So after staring at my design wall for a QUITE SOME TIME I have decided I can't set the blocks directly together, the differences in corners and other "meeting points" are too different to look good that way. I'm going to do a simple sashing. I don't have enough of the color I wanted to use (the lighter red) so this is as far as I've gotten:

I want to do a border all around these blocks when I'm done, possible one of the blacks, and then decide about the outer borders.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

The Empress of Daily Baking

Wendy J is a briner friend from the Good Eats Fan Page. She bakes every day. Every. Day. Whenever I need a recipe for something baked, she's the first one I call on. It saves me not only a lot of research, but a lot of so-so recipe results. Recently I asked her for a scone recipe. Not the leaden rocks I've been finding at coffee shops all over town. She did not disappoint.

This easy recipe went together in just a few minutes and cleaned up even faster, a serious consideration for me. But the best part is that it produced scones that were everything they should be, and served warm, they are AMAZING. Wendy says you can use half and half rather than heavy cream with similar results, I've made these with a handful of golden raisins or cinnamon chips as well as plain. Today's variety were orange scented chocolate chip (at Kay's request) and they are good indeed. Enjoy!

Basic Scones Adapted from The Bread Bible

2 cups flour
1/2 cup butter cut into cubes frozen
1 cup very cold heavy whipping cream
1/8 tsp salt
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda

Place all dry ingred in bowl of food processor. Pulse to mix. Add butter cubes, pulse 20 or so times until butter is the size of petite peas. Dump the mixture into a mixing bowl and add the cream. Toss lightly to combine (I used a rubber spatula). Gather dough into a ball (it will be a bit ragged) pat into a circle on a parchment lined cookie sheet or silpat. Cut into 8 wedges---bake at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes.

Make tea, get a book and enjoy!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Color Selection for Quilters

Over the weekend I took a class from the wonderful Mary Sorenson about how to choose colors for quilts. Part of our homework for the class was to choose four colors from a list of six and pull a range of values from our stash that would be used in class. It took me nearly four hours, and I learned a lot about my stash in that time. I have entirely too much blue, a lot of purple and so little yellow (and almost all of it in the medium range) I couldn't use it as one of my color choices.

In class, Mary actually gave us an inventory sheet that we could use to go back and identify not only which colors we were missing, but which VALUES in those colors, and what styles of prints were needed to fill out our stash.

One very practical lesson was this: If you aren't sure about how the values in your fabric choices relate to one another, remove the color. Take a picture, or scan the fabrics and view it as a black and white image. Here are my fabric choices in black and white:

You can see that I did pretty well in the purple and blue (that was obvious, even in color) and even the reds show a progression, but the oranges are not distinctly different values. I could have thrown out the ones on the ends and looked for a lighter light and a darker dark.

Hubby is color blind. I have often turned to him for help in this way, but now that I can see the difference for myself in black and white, Mary assures me that over time I will begin to be able to "see" it without having to photograph it.

Thanks Mary!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Monthly Accounting

It might be optimistic of me to start a monthly feature, considering my erratic posting habit, and yet I want to try. I have made some great headway in the past couple of weeks and I am setting some goals for the next few weeks that I would like to share with you.

Hello, my name is Danielle, and I'm a UFO maker.

UFOs That I Have A Plan to Complete:
-Binding for "Blush and Bashful" (Kay's pink and pink glorified 9 patch quilt)
-Sandwich, quilt and bind "Princeton Plainsboro" (2007 Piecemaker's house quilt project)
-Quilt and bind table runner for my sister-in-law as a hostess gift for Thanksgiving
-Make applique center for 2008 Piecemakers' exchange quilt
-Sandwich, quilt and bind "Briner's Picnic"
-Finish piecing the top for "Ramblin' Rose"
-Finish quilting victorian sampler quilt for my sister's Christmas gift.
-FInish blackwork blocks by the end of 2008.

UFOs For Which I Have No Plan, But Desire to Finish:
-Determine setting for stack and whack blocks
-Determine if I'm going to pull out the pieces of "Crossroads" that make me crazy, or quilt it as is.
-Determine if I'm going to quilt my snowman tablerunner as is, or take it apart and do something different with it.
-Determine layout for "Hearts and Friendship" blocks.

Finally, for the first time ever, I am going to pay someone else to quilt something for me. Years ago hubby and I took a class together and his resulting quilt is king sized, and the background is Kona cotton. This poor quilt top has been languishing for years waiting for someone to quilt it, but it is too big and heavy for me to do personally. I have reserved a space in Melinda's schedule to get it done for Christmas, the backing is ready and the batting (black cotton wasn't available locally) should be in tomorrow or the next day.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Blush and Bashful

Last week I finally finished quilting Kay's pink and pink quilt Earlier this year I showed you how I photocopy sections of the quilt to determine what the quilting design should be. I used that same technique to figure out the quilting in the 9-patch sections as well as the borders. I'm having a hard time loving this quilt. It was quite challenging to piece, I made mistakes in my quilting, and in the end I'm not really satisfied with the color selection (although my daughter will LOVE it, which is all that matters) but the Mavens came over on Monday morning and really seemed to like it, so that helped a lot. Sometimes we need to see our work through other people's eyes.

I hope to find time during football watching this weekend (GO GATORS!) to at least cut, if not also apply the binding. If not it will have to be a Wednesday project I think. I am determined to have this quilt bound, labeled, wrapped and ready to put under the tree the day after Thanksgiving. It's been 21 months in the making. (Which means many months of lying in varying stages of doneness waiting for me to either get motivated to do more, or figure out what comes next.) It feels good to get such a significant UFO off the list of projects waiting to be loved. Kay hasn't seen this quilt since I've started quilting it. I can't wait to watch her unwrap it on Christmas morning.

Quilting detail:

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Then There Were Three

My husband occasionally makes quilts, and of course, I make quilts. But I am very pleased to introduce you to my daughter who is now officially a quiltmaker. Earlier this year my dear friend Melinda gave Kay a sewing machine of her very own,

and when Tiny Stitches, our LQS, offered quilt camp for kids she proudly carried her machine off with her for several days of lessons, during which she completed her first quilt!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

2008 Piecemaker's Exchange

As you may remember, the Piecemakers exchange blocks each year. Here are the Piecemakers enjoying the display of each member's efforts before we did the swap:

This year we decided that instead of choosing a single theme fabric, or a block pattern to make, everyone would choose her own fabric and give every other quilter a piece of it. Each quilter also chose a block she would make. In the end, everyone made her choice of block in 16 different color ways to suit all the fabrics she was given, and then we met to swap blocks. It was a great success, and the swap itself was great fun.

I chose to make an applique wreath block, here are the 15 blocks I made (I didn't make one for myself, more on that, later)

The fabric I chose to give to everyone else was a victorian Christmas theme printed on black. I loved this fabric when I bought it 10 years ago, and I've been waiting for that "perfect project" to come along. I finally decided to bite the bullet and use it for this exchange. I'm glad I did! Here are the blocks I received from the Piecemakers:

I received a 15th block after the picture was taken. I"m sure you'll see pictures of it at some point. I did not make a block for myself, because all along I intended to make a large applique block for as a centerpiece for my quilt. Originally we had 16 other Piecemakers making blocks, so my plan was perfect. One dropped out after we began the exchange and I thought I might end up needing to make a wreath for myself after all, but in the end another solution presented itself. I'll tell you about it another time.

Here are the other Piecemakers contributions: