As the needle bends

A world view thru my hobbit hole door

A Summer Give-away to Check Out!

This is one of the most absolutely adorable quilt ideas I’ve ever seen. And, much like Tracy, it’s terribly tempting to keep the give-away at Pumpkin Patch Primitives Quilt Shoppe a secret. But the Summer Giveaway for the PatchAbilities Sandcastle quilt kit is much to marvelous NOT to share. So, RUN – don’t walk – over there, and leave yourself a comment, and get your OWN chance to win this epitome of Summer Fun!

SIGH…. so many quilts…. SOOOOO little time!!!!

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June 25, 2008 Posted by | 14739, Quilting and Hobbies (wishing I had 'spare' time) | 1 Comment

Beauty and “The Beast” Challenge

One of my yahoogroups recently challenged members to select an "ugly" fabric – you know the ones where you gotta have it and later wonder "What in the WORLD was I thinking???" – and create a piece utilizing New York Beauty patterns provided by member and designer extraordinaire, Deb Karasik. Each block had to utilize the "Beast" for at least one of the larger "unpieced" sections of the block, and the challenge, as I saw it, was to somehow combine some of Deb’s wonderful spikey designs in a way that created a secondary pattern that was so… (dare I be so bold as to say STUNNING???) that the observer would not notice that my fabric, chosen before I knew the rules of the challenge, was so dog-goned UGLY. Here is the fabric:

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Surely, you must agree that this fabric is sorta strange – the birds and butterflies and flowers are all the same size, irregardless of any sort of scale that would give them some sort of perspective with relationship to each other. And the colors… Well, let me preface this by saying I LOVE EARTH-TONES. Autumn is my favorite season – and, generally speaking, I absolutely adore working with reds, golds, and browns. But this reminded me of mustard, ketchup and burgers, in a colonial reproduction sort of a way. As I told the organizer of the challenge, this fabric is only 36" wide (which cotton fabric has NOT been since maybe the 1960’s at the very latest), and there were several yards of it. It came from an estate sale, for half a song, and I always thought I’d offer it on Ebay because… well, it just isn’t my cup of tea, or coffee, or chlorox LOL. But when I started looking for "The Beast" in my stash, this was it. This fabric is SOOOOO ugly that quilters for decades had been unable to figure out what to do with it. How else could one explain there still being several yards of it in the piece? What to do? What to do???

This fabric is so bizarre that I knew there was absolutely no hope of hiding it, or disguising it. So… I chose one of the patterns for a test block, and set out on this incredible journey. As I said, I have a fair stash of earth-tones, and the Good Lord knows, I had PLENTY of "The Beast" so making a test block seemed pretty logical – and if it had passed the test, it wouldn’t have been abandoned as a test block!

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I absolutely loved the pattern but there just wasn’t enough contrast in the non-Beast portions to draw my eyes AWAY from that ugly bugger. So, I thought for a while, and decided that I needed two different block patterns – set diagonally across from each other, they would create a secondary pattern from the ugly fabric which kind of echoed the butterfly in the print. I also decided that I needed a light background fabric for the spikes – so that my eyes would be drawn up the spikes to the "solid" background – and chose unbleached muslin, which looks a lot like the ugly fabric would if there were no design printed on it. I selected a few earthy toned prints that had the same "vintage" look to them, and set out to sew spikes that were so breath-taking that nobody would ever look closely at the semi-circle from which they emanate.

In this quilt, I wanted the focus ON the fabric, after all – these were from my wonderful collection of chicken and rooster prints!:

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But that is definitely NOT what I wanted to do in this project. I felt like I had to reverse that thinking, and make the design so eye-catching that my eyes "bounce around the whole design" so much that they never focused on that ugly Beast in the corners.

Anyway, the process was a lot of fun, even though I wound up having to toss out some arcs and re-print the paper pieced patterns (repeatedly LOL)… We all promised to keep our pieces anonymous until after the voting was done – and the "viewer’s choice" poll ended last night. So here is my vintage inspired piece. Now I have to think of an appropriate name – something that plays on the vintage fabric, and the design being "New York Beauties." My DSD thinks the final product looks like a butterfly – to me, it looks like a corset. But I think I succeeded in making eyes bounce around AWAY from the ugly fabric, letting it hide – in plain view!

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Any suggestions for a name? (And where to put it? My DH said he thought it looks very very well made but NOT something he wants to look at very often! LOL Mind you, it’s only about 18" square so it’s much easier to hide than the Chicken Quilt would be!)

Thanks to Val, one of our moderators, for coming up with the idea for doing this challenge with our group, and to Deb for some amazing designs. I can’t wait to see how they look in BEAUTIFUL fabric, instead of one full of dead birds and butterflies :0}

June 23, 2008 Posted by | 14739, Quilting and Hobbies (wishing I had 'spare' time) | 10 Comments

Poor Pig

I became aware last weekend, that a pig had taken to coming into our yard… Not an escaped Pot-Bellied Pig, but a fair sized domestic-type grey pig (with light grey stripe around his middle – just like in the cartoons)… When spotted, it didn’t leave fast enough to suite either Ginger or DH, who tried everything short of hog-icide to discourage its return. He yelled at it and it came back. He threw firecrackers at it (they work pretty well for stray dogs), and it came back. He shot it in the rear with snake shot, and it ambled off but it came back.
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Monday when I left for work, Pig was skirting the side of our fence, and aiming for the yard… I honked and it ran down the side of the ditch towards the woods behind the house. Next morning, it was standing in the yard when I walked outside – and went down into the ditch… and I haven’t seen it since… However, that afternoon Mom, Dad and DH all heard dogs barking and the pig squealing… then it got eerily quiet – and they thought Pig had bit the big one. Next afternoon, they heard the barking and squealing again… This time, DH saw the dogs chase it into the ditch behind the house and start circling it, just like something out of “Animal Farm.” He came in the house to get the .22 and was going to start shooting the dogs (they run wild around here back in the woods – maybe coming in from the subdivision behind us, and if they are going to attempt to kill other animals, it’s really not safe to let them just run wild)… Anyway, when he went back out, the dogs were gone. Pig was on its side in the bottom of the ditch, no visible movement to be seen… DH felt really bad that he hadn’t tried to catch it and call animal control sooner. He called the sheriff’s office AND animal control that day – and was told that he’d have to contact the County Commissioner for our area for “dead animal removal” but they’d send animal control out – of course, if he could catch the dogs, they’d haul them away…. Yeah right – these dogs just killed a pig, and he’s suppose to go catch them???? Animal Control did later drive down the paved road in front of the house. Imagine that – they didn’t find the pack of wild dogs in the woods BEHIND our house from there!
DH called me and asked me to stop at Subway, and get us “Seafood Sensation” subs for supper because, before all this happened, he’d thawed out – you got it – PORK CHOPS to grill but had lost his taste for pork. Considering the grill is about 10 feet in front of where Pig lay dead in the ditch, that seemed quite understandable to me… He went back and checked on Pig – who’d somehow changed his direction in the ditch but was laying there with “no visible rise and fall of his chest” and his mouth hanging open. POOR PIG…. poor dead pig… Why couldn’t he have learned his lesson, and gone back to wherever his pig sty is?
While I was on the way home, DH called and said that he had to make another installment in the squirrel relocation program in progress next door. Mom and Dad’s deck has become too tempting for the furry little Bast–ds…and he’d set our live trap over there to thin out the herd, and had another to haul off to the woods a few miles away. He wanted to let me know he was going to swing through MacDonalds and get fries to go with the subs… I got home first, and walked back to the ditch and didn’t see Pig… but was assured that I just hadn’t looked in the right place. He didn’t want to take me and show me because he didn’t want Ginger to go back there… It was too hot, was shady and damp where Pig was, and the basketball game was coming on so he’d deal with dead Pig later. We went to watch with Mom and Dad… and, in between snarks at the referees, and the normal conversation about the idiocy of some of the players, the topic of conversation was how deep he’d have to dig to bury Pig. Poor Pig… Maybe he should get some lime to pour over him to hasten his return to the dust of the earth. Maybe he should pour concrete over Pig, to keep him from washing out if it rained too soon… Poor Pig…
He got up early the next morning, and took Ginger over to Mom and Dad’s – put her barking self inside the fence… and came back to bury Pig… Poor Pig – should have called animal control sooner… Pooor pooooooor pig… Feels so bad – Pig didn’t deserve to die that way…. Imagine his surprise when he reached the ditch to find NO Pig! Forgot that pigs don’t sweat. Forgot that pigs faint when they get excited… Pig is evidently really good at playing possum… There were no drag marks – no scavengers had dragged Pig off for breakfast. The reason I didn’t see Pig was that Pig had cooled off, there in the bottom of the ditch, in the mud and shade… and got up and high tailed it to (hopefully) greener pastures – where dogs don’t circle, and breezes are cool… At least, we haven’t seen Pig since!!!!! (DH said that he kept picturing a mound of wet concrete with a pig-sized hole in it, if he’d poured concrete over Pig – and finally had to start laughing at the whole improbable tale!!!!!)
And that’s the story of Pig. Just another of the country-fried joys of living in the little house near the Big Woods, but Pig still hasn’t come back to our Green Acre.
:0}  

June 15, 2008 Posted by | Life and Ramblings | 1 Comment

A lovely squishie – How cool is that?

Recently, I read a post on one of the many blogs I surf through daily. The title, "A Milestone," caught my eye in the wee hours of Memorial Day, 2008 because Tracy, of Fiber Babble, had described a mystery visitor to her blog. The mysterious mad clicker had been to the site 86 times in just over a month, connected through an ISP in East Texas (I don’t live in Lufkin, but close enough that I was guessing I was the guilty party!), and didn’t come from through a link from another blog. Since I have her blog bookmarked, and read through the bookmarks most mornings, while sipping my morning coffee (and sometimes in the evening, just to see if anyone posted something new while I was in "Planet Houston" working)… I was guessing that I was the mystery visitor.

Tracy and I are in at least one YahooGroup together, and she offered some assistance while I was making wallets for the guys in my life’s Christmas gifties. That’s how I learned of her blog, and how she came to be in my bookmarks.

As a reward for pushing her blog stats up to where some "stranger" made the 10,000 visit milestone, she generously offered me a little gift from the Petal Patterns site, where she is one of the 3 quilting gurus. After perusing the pictures there, I was intrigued by "Dream Stars," because of the circular movement created by the design, although the description assured me that the field of the quilt is created entirely from squares of 2 different sizes. And, today, while I was wandering aimlessly (not a chance) through Hancocks Fabrics trying to decide which of their 50% off batiks needed to come live at my house, my DH called and told me that he’d checked the snail mail, and found something for me that’d been waiting there since the mail carrier came by yesterday. I could not imagine what it was, and he was most un-helpful, telling me that he couldn’t reveal more or he’d spoil someone’s surprise. Imagine that – I didn’t remember that I was suppose to HAVE a surprise!

When I got home, I found the most wonderful pattern I have read in a long time, along with a letter, suggesting that I read ALL the instructions before I started. WOW!!! Although I don’t have time right now to begin another project, I can hardly wait to give this one a try. After reading through the steps, I feel thoroughly comfortable with the techniques, and don’t anticipate any problems at all. Except for two… The first will be finding time for this unplanned visitor to my quilting world (after all, I do have a no-mail round robin to finish, an ugly fabric challenge to complete, and YES – Sunbonnet Sue is still limping along slowly in the destruction phase of her reconstruction), and the second….. which fabrics would be perfect for this design???? Decisions, decisions decisions…

Thanks a million, Tracy. You made my weekend!

June 1, 2008 Posted by | 14739, Quilting and Hobbies (wishing I had 'spare' time) | 3 Comments