Time to catch up

Boy, time goes fast, especially when you’re busy.  I just realized a week or two ago that I haven’t even started preparing for Christmas yet.  Yikes!

Here’s what I’ve been up to.

I finished Bethany’s quilt, and we gave it to her a few weeks ago.  She was very happy!  It’s fun to give something to someone who appreciates it.  Here are some photos of it.  That’s her and her boyfriend holding it up.

And the back.  I thought I’d had enough backing, but it turned out that I only had enough for a queen size quilt.  This one is king size.  So I had to dig into my stash and improvise.  I like how it turned out.

And stitching from the front and stitching from the back.

And here it is all set up on her bed.

Not long after it was done, Hurricane Harvey hit Texas.  Our local quilt shop set up a charity sew for making quilts to send to the folks down there.  So my friend Brenda and I gathered our favorite novelty prints together and went.  We stayed all day and had a blast!   It was a marathon, but we finished a twin-sized quilt top by 10:00 that night.  We were both pretty goofy by then.  Here we are, holding it up.

We left the top at the shop with a backing, and the owner donated the batting,  She had professional quilters who were donating their time, so I didn’t expect to see this quilt back until it needed a binding.

Brenda and I had brought our own fabric to make this, but when we got there, we saw that a lot of fabric had been donated, and we could make something out of that, too.  I saw this AMAZING panel and had to make something up.  I took it home and added a few borders.  It made up into a really nice lap quilt.

I stitched it with maple leaves.

And I donated this next quilt, too.  I thought I had a photo of it finished, but I can’t find it.  A friend gave me these quilt blocks.  She acquired them from the daughter of a woman who had passed away.  She passed them along to me, and I put them together to make a lap-sized quilt.  I thought it would be good to send down to Texas as well.  Not my favorite quilt by any means, but it’ll keep someone warm.

After a while, Brenda and I realized we hadn’t heard back about the twin quilt.  It turns out that our backing was too small, so the quilter returned it to the store.  When I heard that, the next time I was in the shop I took it to finish on my own longarm.

I got it loaded, got the design set up, and started stitching.  Here’s the design I chose.  Since it was going to Texas, I wanted to quilt stars, and this was the closest thing that I had in my library.

I started the machine going and about halfway through the first row the machine started breaking the thread.  Over and over again!  I just couldn’t figure it out.  So I talked to our local tech, I talked to the manufacturer tech support, and I worked through what they suggested.  Nothing worked.  They finally just asked me to take it to the local tech so they could check it over.

Unfortunately, she was out of town for two weeks!  Argh!  So I waited.  Bruce will tell you how happy that made me.  Finally, she was able to take it.  She tested it, set the timing, and serviced and oiled it.  When I went to pick it up, it worked.  They also told me that my machine just didn’t like the thread I’d been using and that I needed a finer thread.  So I bought some.

Well, I got home, we got it set back up, and it still broke the thread, regardless of which thread I used.  I just didn’t know what to do!  So I sent an email to the tech (who was out of town again), asked a question on the manufacturer’s online forum, and turned to Google to see if I could find the service manual.  I couldn’t find a manual, but I did find a site that showed how to set the timing.

So finally yesterday Bruce and I worked together to see what could be done.  We took off the needle plate, and while I slowly turned the hand wheel, Bruce studied how it made stitches.  A time or two the thread got caught on the edge of a narrow slot.  Ah ha!  I knew it was breaking down by the bobbin!  So he carefully adjusted the size of the slot and the machine has been running perfect ever since!  Bruce was my hero this weekend!

I then spent the rest of my day quilting.  Darn it, I wanted to get that quilt done!  And I did.  I’ll post a picture of it as soon as I get one.  Unfortunately, it’s too late to send it to Texas now.  But it’ll go to a local shelter instead.  I know it will be just as appreciated there.

I’ve also discovered Jenny Doan and her YouTube videos.  Oh my, they’re addicting, and I just had to try one…or more.  Here’s my jelly roll race quilt top.  I plan on using this in a queen size quilt for my guest room.  I may or may not cut it up and make a star out of it.  The other things I’ve tried are going to be Christmas gifts.  I’ll post those when they’re done.

On top of all that, it was harvest time for the garden.  Since the tomatoes had stayed green all summer, they ripened almost all at once, and I had a lot of tomatoes to preserve.  I chopped them up and put them in a pot as they became ripe.  Then I pureed them and cooked and cooked and cooked them.  I’d put them in the refrigerator at night then cook them all evening after I got home from work.  Eventually, I canned them.

I also had a bunch of tomatillos from a local organic farm, made some green salsa out of them, and canned them.  I’m pretty sure this will last us for most of the next year.  Yay!

And with harvest time comes the leaves.  I tried using a barrel composter this summer, and it just didn’t go well.  What I did get out of it, I really couldn’t get out of it.  It has just one hole and the stuff doesn’t come out when dumped.  So I had to shovel it, and that didn’t go well, either.  So since it didn’t make great compost (surely it wasn’t user error LOL), and it was a pain to work with, I’ve decided to get rid of it.

Consequently, I spent some time researching how to make compost this summer.  I really don’t want to have to buy the stuff anymore.  In my search, I found this Ted talk by Mike McGrath, and it makes so much sense and seems so easy, I just had to try it.  So I bought myself a couple of Geobins, then collected leaves from my co-workers and neighbors, and of course from my own yard.  Since we don’t drink coffee at our house, I got some coffee grounds from Starbucks.  Then Bruce and I shredded the leaves and piled them with the coffee grounds into the bins.  It took a week or so, but here they are!  I stuck my hands into them the next day, and they’re good and warm inside.  Woohoo!  Here’s hoping I get compost by spring.

I’m still trying to convince Bruce that we should try worm composting, but he’s not going for it.  We’ll see.

So you can see, it’s been a bit difficult for me to get to my tatting.  And now it’s Christmas crafting season.  And I’m late.

The quilt so far


This is taking so much longer than I expected!  I wanted to have this done this past weekend, but I’m only about halfway done.  I even did a marathon 14-hour day on Saturday (with breaks every few hours).  I just made it too complicated, like I always have a tendency to do.

I took this photo at night, so the colors are a bit off.  The light areas are white, not pink.  But you can see basically what I’m doing.  I designed four different circles, all in different sizes.  The one shown is the largest one.  I’m stitching them in random places, and only on the colored squares.  The white areas I’m leaving unstitched.  This kind of gives the look of the quilting being behind a window.

I’m fortunate enough to have a HandiQuilter with the computerized Pro-Stitcher.  My mother left this set-up to me when she passed away last year.  There’s no way I could pull off this design without it.  You’d think since I use computer drafting software all day at work, that learning to use this would be easy, but it has been a real challenge.  It’s definitely different.  So, the stitching looks great, except where I keep accidentally stitching into the white areas.

Since I’m only stitching a portion of the design at a time, I have a zillion starts and stops.  This is making my quilt rather “hairy”.  It’s going to take some time just to hide all those thread ends.

I really like how it’s turning out, though (other than my many mistakes and general lack of experience).  The effect is what I wanted.

Hopefully, I’ll have the finished quilt to show you sometime soon!


Getting ready to quilt, finally!

Today I finally managed to get my step-daughter’s quilt loaded on the longarm!  (And the cats are officially banned from the room.)  It was a real project just to do that.  The quilt is 104″ square.  I spent a lot of time making sure the quilt is loaded square to the machine.  I don’t want the squares on the quilt to get skewed.

Usually, my quilts are much smaller, and the piecing is more complicated than this one.  But I wanted the quilting on it to be the highlight and the piecing not so much. Besides, she likes a more modern look.  I don’t know if this quite fits, but for a traditional girl like me, it’s what I came up with.

I will be using templates to quilt large circles in random sizes, and will stitch several different quilting designs inside each.  The background of the quilt will be parallel lines.  What complicates it a bit is that the circles won’t wholly fit within the colored squares, and i will not quilt through the 1/2″-wide white strips.  I want the quilt to look like you’re looking through a window to see it.

This is a far more ambitious project than I’ve ever done on the longarm machine.  I hope I do it justice!

So my queue now looks like this:  Bethany’s quilt, and finish the triangle doily.  Then I have my first pair of knitted socks to make, and a lap quilt done in the pineapple pattern with scraps from Mom’s stash.  Once I get more worn out jeans, I can make more progress on the crocheted denim rug.  And of course, I have Mom’s quilts to finish, as well as my quilt tops that are hanging in my closet.


Fixing my nephew’s quilt

A couple of months ago I made a trade with my sister-in-law.  She had a barrel composter I wanted, and she also had a quilt that needed repair.  So we swapped–I fix the quilt, and she gives me the composter.  Deal!

This is a quilt my mother made for my nephew.  Each square has a portion of the song “Old MacDonald Had a Farm” embroidered on it.  (She had a Husqvarna Viking embroidery machine.)  So cute!  And my nephew has loved it.  I mean REALLY loved it.  The quilt needed some help.

Mom always used quilt-shop quality fabrics because they last so much longer than the cheap stuff.  But when you have a heavily embroidered section and a lot of use, the fabric around the edges of the embroidery gets very stressed.  In a lot of places the fabric had torn.  Here’s a picture of the barn.  Look around the silo and the base of the barn,

The binding was also in awful condition.

Fixing textiles is not my strong point, but I figured the best thing here would be to stitch a wide zig-zag over the torn area with an off-white thread.  I hoped it would do the job and not stand out too much,  I was pretty happy with the result.  Here’s what the barn looks like now.  Not too bad, unless you look at the back of the quilt.  There are squiggly lengths of off-white stitching all over, and they stand out really well against the green backing.  I warned my sister-in-law that the back wouldn’t look so great.  I hope she remembers.

I found a fabric in my stash that coordinated with the quilt and used it to replace the quilt binding.  The photo of the quilt at the beginning of this post shows the finished and fixed quilt.

Hopefully, it’ll last a good long time after this.  I will probably tell my sister-in-law that hanging it up on display would probably be the best option from now on, although I doubt that will happen.  This quilt has even more meaning for him now since Mom passed away last year, and he loves to wrap up in it.  And that’s ok.  Mom made her quilts to be used and loved.

So one item on my list of things that need done ASAP is done today!  Actually two–I finished planting the garden today, too.

On to my step-daughter’s quilt.  I was supposed to have that done by Mother’s Day.  Didn’t make that deadline, did I?  After that I really need to finish that triangle doily...



Eyes and a recipe

THANK YOU for all your kind thoughts and prayers for me!  I’m grateful, and I’m always touched by the kindness tatters show to one another.

Here’s an update on what’s going on with my eyes.  I ended up going to a doctor who specializes in the retina, and he took some fancy pictures.  One is a cross section of the macula (the point on the retina where we see the center part of our vision), and there’s where he found the trouble.  Apparently, the goober (technical term…ha!) inside the eye often shrinks as we age, and sometimes it sticks to the retina.  When that happens, it can pull on the retina, and tear a hole in the macula.  And that’s what has happened with me.

He told me one of three things can happen.  It can get better on its own, it can stay the same, or it can get worse.  Surprise!  *sigh*

So, he’s not doing anything for now and I’ll go see him again in July.  He’ll take more fancy pictures, and we’ll see how it’s progressing.  If it’s getting worse, I may need surgery.

But what this means for now is that doing detailed work is not aggravating the problem.  I can do my daily stuff without fear of making it worse.  I asked him if there’s anything I can do to help, and he said no.  But my regular doctor gave me some supplements that support the eye, so maybe that will help in some way.

On another note, here’s a little recipe I whipped up the other day.

Usually, when I make pizza at home I use spaghetti sauce and add extra spices because canned sauce can be too bland.  I didn’t want to open a can of sauce just for one pizza last night, so I made up my own.  This recipe made enough for three 14-inch pizzas.  And to be honest, I’m guessing at the amounts of the spices.  I usually just pour the spices in my hand, crush them a bit, and add them to whatever it is I’m cooking.  It’s very likely that I actually added more spice than this recipe suggests, so you may want to taste the sauce and adjust the amounts.

Nancy’s pizza sauce (not Italian…her ancestry is English and Welsh)

1 8-oz can tomato sauce
1 small can tomato paste
1/2 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp dried oregano
1-1/2 tsp dried basil
1/8 tsp red pepper flakes (more if you like a little fire)
1/8 tsp black pepper

Stir all the ingredients together.  This makes a thick, tomato-y sauce that tasted great.  I may just use this very time from now on.

And… I’ve finished my nephew’s quilt!  I secured the areas of torn fabric with a tight zig-zag, and I added a new binding.  It looks considerably better.

Next–finish my step-daughter’s quilt, and I need to get hustling on it.

Best wishes,

Eye troubles and deadlines

It  looks like it might be a while before I can tat.  I went to the eye doctor last week and we discovered that my left eye has a blind spot.  It makes it very difficult to focus.  I’m hoping it’s something temporary, but if not, it may be a while before my right eye learns to take up the slack.  I can still see well enough to do pretty much everything I’ve always done, but it’s definitely more difficult, and nothing is really in focus.  I’m going to give my eyes some rest until the doctors (both eye and regular) figure out what may be going on.

I’m sure I’ll know more in a few weeks, and maybe by then I can feel better about doing fine work again.

In the meantime, I have a few deadlines coming up.

The biggest deadline I have is finishing the quilt I’ve been making for my step-daughter.  I need to have it done before June 20.  It’s a king-size quilt, and the top is done.  I need to piece together a backing and get it on the machine.  Even though it’ll be on my longarm, it will still be a big project.  I have some complicated plans for it–well, complicated for me.  I’m still figuring out this machine.  I should be able to work on this just fine with my eye issues.  I hope!

Also high on the list is my nephew’s quilt.  My sister-in-law traded her composter with me if I would repair the quilt Mom gave to her son.  I thought it was a great deal, but it’s turning out to be a bigger project than I realized.  I really should remind myself that I need to double how much effort it appears to be when I’m looking at something like this.  That’s OK.  My nephew appreciates this, and saving $125 or more on a composter is definitely worth it to me.

Speaking of dirt, my garden is growing great right now!  I planted the onions, garlic, carrots, beets, peas, and lettuce in April, and they’re all up.  Yay!  Now that it’s a bit warmer, I’m going to plant the corn, squash, and cucumbers tomorrow.  Then I’m headed off to the Loveland Garden Club’s annual plant sale where I’ll pick up the tomatoes and peppers I want.  And maybe I’ll find something new and interesting.  It would be really awesome if I could find a Mexican Sour Gherkin cucumber.  They look like mini watermelons!

I also hope to have a truckload of wood chips delivered soon.  We have two trees and grass on the east side of the house, and we never use that space.  Mowing it has been a real pain, and I’ve pretty much had enough of it.  So, we’re going to lay down wet newspaper over the whole thing and then cover it with a few inches of wood chips.  I understand it’ll kill the grass but not harm the trees.  Then next year when that area has settled a bit, I’ll figure out something else to plant there.  I’d like to plant something that produces food, preferably berries, but it’s always in the shade.  That makes it very tricky.  Mint?  Alpine strawberries?  Blackberries?  Anybody know of a good shade berry for zone 5?

I really don’t have time for my full-time job…

At any rate, I’ll post pictures of my step-daughter’s quilt as I go along.

Best wishes,

New free tatting pattern!

Hi all! I finally have a free pattern for you.  Remember my post about the lid?  Here’s the entire box along with the pattern.

Click here to go to the pattern for the Tatted Box

This is a free pattern.  However, many of the patterns I will post from here on out will be “premium” patterns and will be for sale for a small amount.  This helps defray the cost of having this site.

I still remember that I need to do the last row of the triangle doily I was working on before we closed the store.  I promise I’ll get that to you!  It will be a free pattern.

Hope you enjoy the tatted box!

Happy tatting

Quilts for the doctor and receptionist

So you know, I’m still working on the tatted box!  It’s complete, I just need to draw out the pattern. I thought I’d show you a couple of my recent projects in the meantime.

I love to give people baby quilts.  My acupuncturist and her receptionist were both expecting babies and were due in January and February this year.  I’ve tried to have baby quilts done before a baby comes along, but I don’t always manage that.  This time I had one done and one that still needed to be quilted.

The receptionist was due first, so I gave her the one I had ready to go.  She’s having a girl.  I had such fun making this quilt!  I just could not resist the flamingo print.  The colors in this photograph aren’t quite right…the background on the flamingo print is beige.

I also use baby quilts as quilting practice.  They’re quick and hopefully will be used until they fall apart, so it’s not so imperative that they be “perfect”.  I’m very much a perfectionist, but I’m trying to overcome that.

I’ve made quilts before that I thought were pretty messy, but when I saw them later I was surprised they were so cute.  I think it’s because after some time I see the imperfections as interesting and fun instead of ugly.  I rather like the life it brings to the quilt.  I need to keep telling myself that.

Here’s a close-up of this quilt, although I’m not sure if you can see the quilting design.  I did this one with free motion on my regular machine and not the longarm.  Each square of the quilt had a similar motif stitched on it and the sashing had rows of hearts.

And this is the quilt I made for my acupuncturist.  The center was an uncolored muslin panel which I colored with crayons and heat set.  It was lots of fun to do and I was pleased with the result.  My mom gave me the squares years ago because she had no intention of putting them together into a quilt.  I think they worked out great here.

I really like the design of the quilt, but I wish I could say the same for the quilting.  I learned a lot.  I stitched a sunflower over each of the squares using the computer on the longarm.  Part of the way through the first design, I realized it was a mistake.  You could only see the circle center of the flower and parts of the petals–only what was on the red square.  Argh!  So I found a pinwheel design to stitch in the middle.  Lesson 1: consider the contrast between the fabrics when selecting a quilting design.

I did some freehand stitching in the middle panel, which was a great reminder of why I need to put a practice muslin on the machine before I stitch on a quilt.  It’s not my best work, but at least it improved as I went along.  Lesson 2: practice first!

Keep stitchin’!


The first of Mom’s quilts

My mother loved to quilt.  A number of years ago, she decided it was time she got all her quilt tops done and invested in a longarm machine.  After she got comfortable with the machine, it seemed she was finishing a quilt every month!  I’m not sure if that’s truly the case, but her output was impressive.  I’m not sure where the photographs of all these quilts are, but I need to find them.  We believe she made well over 50 quilts in her lifetime.

What made this even more amazing to me is how she did all this while dealing with being very ill.  She quilted until two days before she passed last year, and she had completed all but seven of the quilt tops.  During those two days, I promised her I would finish them for her.

Now I have the machine, and I’m learning the ropes.  It’s a steep learning curve!  I haven’t had the nerve to put one of her quilts on the machine yet, but I hope to be ready to do it this year.

All of the quilts except the one pictured here need to be quilted; it just needed the binding.  A few weeks ago, I dug through my fabric stash (much of which had been hers), and found just enough of one of the fabrics in the quilt to bind it.  Yay!  So now I can say I’ve finally finished one of her quilts.  It’s really satisfying.

Isn’t this quilt just incredible?  It looks like it’s not square in this photo, but that’s because it was being held up by a couple of my co-workers.  It’s definitely square and the edges are straight.

Here’s a closer look.  Her points are perfect!

Here’s the back of it and a close-up of the back.

I’ve got a wall big enough to hang this on.  I just need to get the hardware and to put a UV coating on the window next to it.

By the way, if anybody knows the name of this quilt pattern and who designed it, I’d really appreciate it!  My local quilt shop is anxious to see if they can get a copy of it.  I believe it was a block-of-the-month design (actually border-of-the-month).

I’ll continue to share these quilts with you as I get them done.  And the quilts I’m learning on as well.

My next post (which I hope to get to you soon) will be about the tatted box I just finished.  It goes with the lid I made and posted about here.


Tatting supplies and the transformation of Be-stitched

Hi all!

I forgot to mention in my previous post where you can now get tatting supplies.  Here’s a list for you!

Handy Hands
DS9 Designs
Shuttle by Design
Tatting Corner

I’m sure there are more, but these are the ones I know of offhand.

Over the Christmas holiday, we had our son and his wife visiting from Utah, plus our daughter came up from Denver, and another other son lives nearby.  So among all the preparations for Christmas we had a party nearly every night with these guys!  I love it when the kids come to visit.

My daughter-in-law absolutely LOVES Christmas.  She will actually start counting the days until Christmas starting the day after.  LOL!  Because we had been so busy with the liquidation sale, I was way behind on my decorating by the time they arrived.  All I had out was the Christmas tree, and it wasn’t even decorated yet.  So when they arrived, she happily pitched in and helped me decorate.

I had lots of new stuff that had been my mother’s and my mother-in-law’s.  Decorating was so much fun this year because of that, and because of my DIL’s help.

At any rate, that was the beginning of the busy-ness of the week.  I cooked a lot, played games, stayed up late, and had a great time.  But by the time they left, I was exhausted!  I took a day, rested, and planned what I was going to do next.

The bedroom where we had the store was now emptied of all tatting supplies and needed to be set up for my sewing space.  So I planned out where to put my desk, the cutting table, the ironing board, and as many bookcases as I could cram in the room.  Then Bruce and I headed down to the basement and found a gallon of paint that was left over from painting the interior of the house earlier this year.

I had planned to get the painting done all in one day, but it was all I could do to get one coat done.  The first day, Bruce and I worked until just after dark.  I learned the next morning why it’s just not a good idea to paint after dark.  We missed a whole bunch of spots.

We gave it a second coat, then I took a few days to get everything in the room and set up the way I wanted. Better to take more time and start with everything organized than to throw it all in the room and deal with the mess.  I normally make a mess, so I figure at least for a while it’ll be organized.

The whole business confused my cats terribly.  This is a picture of Ansel cautiously looking around.  But now that it’s done, they’re loving all the vertical space they have access to.

So here’s how it looks now.  Yay!  And yes, that’s my version of a “clean” desk.  It seems there are always things that don’t have a place to be.  Sometimes they’re in a state if limbo, meaning I need to do something with them but I don’t know what yet.  Plus there’s no sense in finding a place to put them since they’d be going away once I’ve taken care of them.  These things always end up on my desk.

So now that everything is all tucked away, I’m ready to start creating again!  What to do first…?