Sunday, August 29, 2010

Free Motion Quilt Along

Christina has a blog she calls, "A Few Scraps".  I just recently discovered it and it's a good read.  She likes to do free motion quilting and she is doing a free motion quilt along.  It just recently started and it looks like she is going to have a very detailed series of tutorials.  I love to FMQ and I'm looking forward to following along and hoping to learn something new.  I put her button over on my sidebar (scroll down a bit), so check it out if it interests you.

Friday, August 27, 2010

A project finished and another one starting

I finished another pair of socks.  This was a sock club project from For Yarn's Sake (my LYS).  The project is called Italian Summer- featuring a pattern and yarn exclusive to the club.  The yarn was hand dyed with Walla Walla onion skins and Calendula flower petals.  Cool!  They're short- so they're nice in this transitional season.  And very comfy.

This pattern is done with an "afterthought heel".  I never tried this before so it was a learning experience. You can knit it top down, or toe up- it doesn't make any difference.  You put the heel in AFTER the rest of the sock is done.

You work the sock like a tube.  Where the heel will go, you knit a row with waste yarn (white- right side of photo).  When you're ready to go back and work the heel, you VERY carefully, remove the waste yarn to expose live stitches, and insert the needles.  Then you work the heel (left side of photo).  It's pretty easy, as long as you don't mind picking up the stitches when you remove the waste yarn.  And you have to kitchner stitch the end of the heel.  I like doing the kitchner stitch, so that was fun for me.

I started a new knitting project, but I'll only work on it when I'm riding in the car.  My main project for the next few months is a wedding quilt for my son and his intended.

I'm (deep breath) making them a king size double wedding ring quilt.  The wedding is in December.  If I fall behind- cheer me on, please!

The wedding colors are white, black and red.  It should be a beautiful winter wedding!  Here's the beginning of my pile of fabrics.  I'm collecting everything black and white and red that I can get my hands on!

Here's the exciting part!!!!!!  Even as we speak.... the men in brown (UPS) are transporting my new Accuquilt GO! to me!  Along with the cutting machine, I will be receiving several die sets- one of which is a double wedding ring!  Yea!  No cutting all those little pieces with templates!  I'll be showing the GO! cutting system to you as I learn to use it..

And I have a little (make that a BIG) surprise for you.  The October giveaway will be...... shhhh.... it's a SURPRISE!

Speaking of giveaways- just a few more days to enter the giveaway for the magnets.  If you haven't entered already, go over to the sidebar and click on the photo of the magnets.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Facebook, Our Anniversary Trip, a Safety Tip, and an Owie

Ahhh.... where to start.....
I haven't blogged in a few weeks.  Well... I did have a few posts in there that I removed.  I've learned a LOT about Facebook lately!  It seems that FB absolutely, positively doesn't want you to register with more than one email address.  I had a personal FB account with my personal email address.  Then I created a FB account for my business with my business email and attached a fan page to it.  Not good.  What I SHOULD have done is to create a fan page that I log onto with my personal email address.  It's then ok to put my business email address and other stuff related to the business on the fan page.  People who "frined" my personal FB page aren't automatically "Fans" of the business and vise verse.  So.... since I messed this up... the logical thing is to delete the page I created for the business, and create another one the correct way- right?  Not so easy.  You can delete an account on FB, but when you log onto FB in any shape or form... even to "like" something.... your account reactivates.  If I even look at the Alderwood Quilts Fan Page, my AQ account that I'm trying to delete reactivates.  The only way to make a page go away for good is to delete it and then to TOTALLY stay away from FB for 2 weeks.  So.... I deleted the business page and fan page (basically, I deleted my identity with the business email address).  When 2 weeks pass, I'll get back on and try to create a business fan page with my personal email address.  Wish me luck!  To all of you who have become fans- hang in there- I'll be posting in a few weeks!

DH and I celebrated our 35th wedding anniversary last week.  We met in high school (awwww.....) and married 5 years later.  We always like to do something for our anniversary.... just take a little time to set aside the cares of our lives and focus on each other.  Usually it's just a day trip or a night or 2 away.  This year, we went to Washington- around the Seattle area.  That's about a 3-4 hr drive north from our home near Portland, Oregon.  We stayed in Everett, and did some touristy things.  We took one day to explore Whidbey and Fidalgo Islands.  There are a lot of islands just off Seattle and the surrounding areas.  Some belong to Washington and some are Canadian.  Most are easily accessible by ferry.  I'm just a little kid around water, boats and ferries.  I just love ferry rides!

The islands all have their own flavor.  Some are mostly residential, some recreational, and some have a lot of shopping and art.  The US/ Canadian border weaves through the islands and there are 2 ferry lines- one Canadian and one Washington State Ferries.  All of the ferries we've been on over the years gave us great rides and got us to our destination. 

Whidbey Island has it all- residential, recreation, and shopping!  As luck would have it, there was an Art and Craft Fair in one of the little towns while we were there. AND... there was a very cute yarn shop in Langley where I got a beautiful skein of sock yarn (you'll see that when I start a pair of socks with it).  I tried to visit the quilt shop, but got there right after closing time.  Dang!

We drove all the way up Whidbey Island and over a bridge with AMAZING views to Fidalgo Island.  While on Fidalgo, we had lunch at the Rockfish Grill and Anacordes Brewing Company in Anacordes.  They had a great yarn shop, too!  (Like how I always manage to find the yarn and quilt shops?)

Above is a lighthouse park near the ferry at Mukilteo.  We also spent an evening walking the waterfront at Mukilteo (near Everett).  We had a fun dinner at Skuttelbut--- another brewery.  For those of you not familiar with the Pacific Northwest, we are famous for coffee shops, wineries and breweries.  We have beverages covered!

We spent our last day touring the Boeing Airplane Factory.  OHMYGOSH!  It was incredible.  It's the largest enclosed building in North America.  It has to be big to hold a bunch of airplanes!  No pictures.  We couldn't bring handbags, backpacks, fanny packs, cell phones, cameras, or ANYTHING electronic... nothing that could record anything.  All I can say is that, if you are ever in the area, set some time aside to tour Boeing.  There are 2 facilities- one in Everett and one in Seattle, and during most of the year you need to make reservations online in advance.

Now for the safety tip.  If you'll notice, I never tell you about major events or trips until we're home.  It seems to me that posting it on the internet that you are going away for 3 days is like putting a key under the mat and advertising for a burglar on Craig's List.  You always hear in the news about people being robbed while on their honeymoon or when they are at a family funeral.  It's just not safe to say some things on a blog until after they happen.  At the very least- if you are excited and want to post about a trip you are planning, just say it's coming up but don't post the dates.  One time, I read a post where a woman said her dog is good when they leave him alone every day, all day, while they are at work.  Please don't post things like that!  I don't want to read about bad things happening to you!

And last but not least- I have an owie.  That's why I haven't posted in a few days.  I had some minor surgery last week.  I'm fine.  Nothing bad.  I am tired and sore, but I'm feeling better every day.  DH is taking VERY good care of me.  I've been napping and knitting and enjoying visits from my sons and DIL.  Life is good. :-)

Friday, August 6, 2010

August Giveaway

Here's a fun little giveaway for August.  It's a set of 4 magnets in a little tin by That Patchwork Place.  The set retails for $12.95

The winner will be selected using a random number generator on September 1st.  Past winners and international readers are welcome to enter.

To enter- all you have to do is comment on THIS POST that you would like to be entered.  For a second entry, do a second reply, and let me know that you are a follower.  For a third entry, make a third comment letting me know that you have posted about the giveaway on your own blog.

Good luck!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

It's all harvested- now to get it all dried!

We finished harvesting the lavender last weekend.  My goal was to get it all in before we turned the page on the calendar to August!  OK... so I turned the page on August 2nd.  It would have been better to get the last of it cut a week earlier but there are only so many hours in a day... and my days never seem to have enough hours.  Our little farm of 300 plants yielded us 1500 bundles this year.  It's the third harvest for most of these plants and we were VERY pleased! 

I wanted to show you how we cut the lavender.  We use sickles, which are half - moon shaped knives.  We grab a bunch with one hand and use a sweeping motion with the sickle to slice it.  Gotta love sickles!

Whatever didn't sell as fresh bundles ended up being dried.  DH hung long chains from the ceiling of the old horse stall in the back of the barn.  We secure the bundles with rubber bands when we harvest.  Then we twist paper clips open (so they look like an "S") and hook one end of the paper clip into the rubber band and one end into a chain link.  They hang upside down and we hook them in a spiral fashion to give them maximum air flow.  Each chain can hold about 50 bundles.  We also have fans going in there.  It's very humid with all of that fresh cut lavender.  People often say how wonderful it must smell!  Honestly- I can hardly smell it any more.  My nose has been bombarded with lavender for so long that I can't smell the lavender.  I smell other things just fine.... just not lavender.

Even though I can't smell the lavender, when we take the buds off, there is quite a bit of "dust" kicked up.  I start sneezing and get a runny nose.  I'm not allergic to it... it's just a matter of all that particulate matter in the air.  So this part is best done outside.  We pull the dried lavender off the chains.  The trays they are in have screen bottoms for air flow, and to sift out the very fine particles.  This photo is showing about a  hundred bundles.

DH sets up the canopy and a few tables for me and I just enjoy being outside while I play with my purple bounty.

To claim just the buds, I rub the dried bundles between my hands.  They just fall off!  Then we sift them twice and bag em' up to sell on the website.  We use them for lavender dryer bags, sachets, sell to people for wedding toss and bulk for crafting.  There ARE commercial machines that shake the buds off and sift them, but our operation isn't large enough to justify that expense.  As long as we keep the farm to this size, the old fashioned hands- on method is just fine.  I do have some local friends who like to come play with me for a day here an there and it makes the work go faster.

I have the buds off of most of the dried bundles- about 300 bundles still hanging to dry.  It's been a very good harvest and very rewarding to see so many nice quality buds for our efforts.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Tips about Fusible Web

I was chatting online with a customer today about fusible web and it dawned on me that I have some of that same conversation with others.... so I thought I'd share some info with you.  Some of you most likely know more than I do about this, so if you're one of them- sorry this will be boring.  But many people are new to fusible applique and I want to cover a few basics.  (This is JUST the basics)

Fusible applique in a nutshell:  You take fusible web, which is paper on one side and some sort of sticky stuff on the other side.   There are a lot of different brands with a lot of different properties, but the idea is to trace or draw a design on the paper.... then fuse (iron) it onto the back of the fabric.  Then cut out the shape you drew on the paper... you'll be cutting paper and fabric together because they are stuck together now.  When you peel the paper off, your fabric is now an iron-on applique.

If you're doing a complicated design, you will do well to use an applique pressing sheet.  You can see through it, so you can put the large pattern "map" down under it, and place the pieces on top where they belong.  Press lightly, and they will stick to each other, but not to the pressing sheet because it's non-stick.

There are lots of great little irons and pressing tools, but you can use whatever you want.  If you're doing a lot of this stuff, invest in a little iron.  If you just want to try it- you can use your regular iron.

Here's my big tip.... fusible web has a lifetime.  It gets old.  DON'T buy a bunch of it!  It isn't fabric and you can't stash it.  Get what you need for your project and use it.  Don't get it yet if you aren't sure when you're going to get around to the project.  Share with friends.  Have you ever had old fusible web separate from the paper before you ever get the chance to get it near an iron?  That's what I'm talkin' about!  When it's older, the layers separate.  I am not going to endorse a brand of fusible web because it's a personal choice, AND it depends on the season and where you live.  Some work better in humid areas and some better in dry climates.  Some are better in cold and some in warm climates.  I'm not kidding.  And everybody swears by her own favorite.  What to do?  If possible, as a friend who has some for her scraps.  Or try to find it by the yard and just buy 1/8 yard of all of the brands and play.

And the best advice I can give you is to READ THE DIRECTIONS!  If they say 10 seconds... 30 seconds isn't better.  Heat n' bond, for instance, will stick very well after a certain amount of time (as per the directions), and then if you overheat it, it will let go and you can't get it to stick again.  Some are pressure sensitive, some heat activated, and I swear there is probably one that tells you to hop on one foot an rub your belly to make it stick!  Kidding aside- no matter how many times you've done this, and you think you know what you're doing.... still read and FOLLOW the manufacturer's directions.

Lessons here?  Read the directions and use fresh stuff.

Is anybody interested in a tutorial on fusible applique?  Are there any other quilting techniques you'd like to see here?  Tell me what you'd like to learn about.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Getting Things Done

I'm sure that every one of you has a list longer than the days of the year of things they want to complete.  I have sooooo many things I want to do!!!  I look at it this way.  I have many projects that I am "considering".  I select them one at a time--- from a long list of projects that look interesting to me.  It really is OK if I see something I like and I think I want to make it.... and then I never select it from among the many projects that have caught my eye.  Lately, I've donated a few of those to people who are making quilts and knitting blankets for others in need.

I am primarily a quilter, but lately I have been knitting a lot. That is due to available time.  I've been harvesting lavender and working on rearranging my quilt area during time I would generally use to quilt--- and using "found time" such as riding in the car, to knit.  That's OK for now, and soon you will see that I am doing more quilting than gardening and knitting.  It's all about what fits into my life that week.

The important thing is to do SOMETHING, and do be mostly productive most days.  I don't think there's anything wrong with having a few days where we don't feel productive, as long as we have fun or relax during those times.

A blog buddy of mine, Sue Abrey from the UK has a great idea on her blog.  She is suggesting that we take one day a month to work on Christmas projects.  I'm really not backed up on Christmas projects, but I AM backed up on some other things!  The concept is a good one.  I added her button to my sidebar.  If you'd like to join her and others in the fun making projects for Christmas- check out her blog.  She's a really nice lady.  :-)

As for me... I've stopped promising things on the blog because I feel terrible when I don't get them done in a timely manner.  I still haven't finished my "Dozen Bags" project (I will eventually) and I had hoped to put a BOM on here (still want to).  Right now- I am working on a wedding quilt for each of my daughters-in-law, and a few projects for people who have asked me to do things.  I know all too well that the way to get things done is to plan to do them- to make an appointment with yourself and keep the appointment!

So here's to getting things done.  My DH always says that the way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time.  Elephant Stew... yum

Elephant Stew

1 Elephant (medium size)
2 rabbits (optional)
A lot of salt and pepper
A Lot of gravy

Cut the elephant into bite-sized pieces.  This should take about a week.  Add enough brown gravy to cover.  Cook over hot coals for about 4 weeks.  This will serve 3,800 people.  If more are expected, 2 rabbits may be added, but only do this if necessary because some people do not like to find a hare in their stew.