Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Christmas Day pictures

My youngest son without his girlfriend...Mom hanging out in the background.

Newly engaged eldest son and his fiance (I just love saying that.)

Middle son with his wonderful wife, who is an awesome daughter-in-law.

Grandson #1 -- Almost 3 years old -- Always fun to have around!

Grandson #2 -- Almost 6 months old -- Isn't he just precious?

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Latest Baby quilt

This baby quilt was originally started for my second grandson. However, after visiting with my DIL I found out that she had a very specific, non-baby-like color scheme in mind, so I wrapped up this top and put it aside and made another baby quilt that matched the nursery colors.

Fast forward to this fall...we have new neighbors, friends of our children -- a nice young couple that are expecting their first child in late January. Great...that top I started last year now has a new home! I wrapped it up this week and will try and get it delivered over the fence one afternoon this week. It is always nice to have a few baby quilt tops in reserve so they can be quickly finished when the need arises. Heck, while cleaning out my sewing room a few weeks ago I even found a baby quilt sampler that I finished many years ago but it was never quilted. That'll be an upcoming project so it'll be ready to head to the home of a some new baby down the line.


Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Letters to Bessie

I set up a new blog site today. I was the recipient of some letters that are about 100 years old that we thought belonged to my Grandma, but as I read them it was clear they weren't hers (how many Bessie Barnhart's could there be in my small Washington County?). Anyway after Xmas I am going to start transcribing the letters and posting them on the new blog in hopes that I can find the real family of this lady. The few that I have read are beautifully written. This man was truly in love with Bessie Barnhart and was a devout Christian. They cover a time span of 1907 until 1911.

Come visit and check them out. I think they'll be interesting and fun to read for me and for you! If you know anyone in your family history who settled in Loomis, Washington with a bride named Bessie Barnhart who I think was a school techer around 1911-1912, please get in touch. All I have on the prospective groom's name is C.E. Rowe. Come check it out!


Friday, December 12, 2008

Mid December report

It's been a busy couple of weeks...first I had to recuperate from Thanksgiving, I've been trying to get my Christmas shopping done, and then work has been pretty demanding. As you might expect elementary age students take a lot of extra corralling this time of year.

Today was one of those days kids live for...the first snow of the year! It started mid morning and didn't stop all day long. In fact the prediction is for the snow to keep coming down all night long. It is a good thing it is the weekend so the kids can get outside and play in it and get over that initial excitement before Monday (ha ha ha).

I've been working on machine quilting a Christmas wall hanging and should finish it up this weekend. I put up another small tree and need a skirt for it. Luckily I have a small table topper that will make a perfect skirt. I just need to cut out a small circle in the middle, slice it all the way to edge and then rebind those newly raw edges. I enjoy working on seasonal projects especially since Christmas fabrics have always been my favorites.

Have a wonderful Christmas.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Post Thanksgiving debriefing

Thanksgiving at my home has turned into a huge presentation. We combine my husband's side of the family and my side of the family and our kids and it turns into a huge crowd. Thankfully since we remodeled we have lots of space for everyone. One of the things I did right in the remodel was put in a huge center island. This turns into the buffet table and with 19 people to feed that's the only way to do it efficiently.

Two years in a row I've had great turkey. I don't know if I've gotten lucky or what. However I have kept notes so I think that brining a turkey, cooking it in a cooking bag, and using a low temperature is the key. After multiple dishwasher loads over the past five days, I think it'll slow down to the normal pace of once every few days.

It was great to have the kids all home this weekend. They all came and went at different times, but there was never a dull moment with all of them around. Even my little grandson stayed overnight. He told his mommy, "Daddy go home. Mommy go home, Me stay here."

It'll be awfully quiet around here this week.

Needless to say I didn't do any quilting this weekend. Maybe later this week, but I really do want to empty a room to paint and prep it for laying hardwood...hopefully in the next few weeks.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Time to sew

Last night was a real treat. All three of the Stitchin' Bitches got together to sew. After a long hiatus we all decided to attend the local quilt shop's monthly Midnighter. Things have changed though...instead of running from 5 til Midnight, it now runs 3 til 10 p.m. So...do we still call it a Midnighter?

Last night people worked on many different projects. The idea was to make table runners since those are quick to make and are always a good gift for someone. We all arrived with our sewing machines and materials all ready to go. Rather than working on a table runner, D worked on a cute flannel baby quilt for a work colleague. M worked on a square table topper for her dining room table. Her fabric choices were Christmas fabrics, of course, but the poinsettia fabric was quite striking. Me, well I worked on a Christmas wall hanging. I had originally planned to make a bag. This bag in fact...

Instead, I made it at home Friday night and had it in use last night. :) I like the bag, but will make some changes the next time I make it. I'd put a zipper on the front pocket. I also changed the handle style. I think I'll make this for my parapro this bag in western fabrics as her Christmas gift.

Unfortunately I have another cold and so I didn't stay too late at the Midnighter. I reached a spot in my sewing where I was going to have to do some serious math to adjust some block sizes for the sides of the quilt so decided it was best to wrap it up there and finish it up when my mind was clear and not distracted by all the chit chat and banter that was flying about the room. M was on a roll last night! I had a great time and think everyone else did too.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

52 Things You Possibly Didn't Know About Me

52 Things You Possibly Didn't Know About Me
1. What is in the back seat of your car right now?

My grandson's carseat and a fleece blanket. Reusable grocery bags too.
2. When was the last time you threw up?

Back in September...my kids at school were spreading the bug.
3. What's your favorite curse word?

I have many...I am an equal opportunity curser, but probably use fuck most of all. I am known as a bit of a potty mouth.
4. Name three people who made you smile today.

I'll go with yesterday...Becky, Donald, Monse.
5. What were you doing at 8 am this morning?

In the shower.
6. What were you doing 30 minutes ago?

See above.
7. What will you be doing three hours from now?

Shopping or at the gym.
8. Have you ever been to a strip club?

Nope. I find the idea of them offensive.
9. What was the last thing you said aloud?
No Bella!

10. What is the best ice cream flavor?
Chocolate or Cherry Garcia.
11. What is the last thing you had to drink?

My morning cup of hot cocoa.
12. What are you wearing right now?

Workout clothes
13. What was the last thing you ate?

A boiled egg and a slice of bacon.
14. Have you bought any new clothing items this week?
Do the new shoes delivered from Zappos count?
15. When was the last time you ran?

Are you serious? Walked swiftly maybe!
16. What was the last sporting event you watched?

No clue. I don't watch sporting events.
17. Who was the last person you e-mailed?

Work colleague.
18. Ever go camping?
Yes, my favorite is boat camping.
19. Do you have a tan?
No, I'm pasty white.
20. Do you drink your soda from a straw?

I don't drink pop, but I like to use a straw with my iced tea.
21. What did your last IM say?
I don't IM.
22. Are you someone's best friend?

I'm good friends with many people.
23. What are you doing tomorrow?
Quilting and cleaning house.
24. Where is your mom right now?

At home, just a few blocks down the road.
25. Look to your left.

A lamp.
26. What color is your watch?
I don't wear one any more. I have a few sports watches though.
27. What do you think of when you think of Australia?
The Thornbirds.
28. Would you consider plastic surgery?

Yes, the girls could use some help.
29. What is your birthstone?

Something ugly. I prefer rubies and opals.
30. Do you go in at a fast food place or just hit the drive thru?

Drive thru.
31. How many kids do you want?

That ship has sailed. I have three.
32. Do you have a dog?

Three of them.
33. Last person you talked to on the phone?

My Mom.
34. Have you met anyone famous?

35. Any plans today?
Grocery shopping, visit the gym, clean the house.
36. How many states have you lived in?

37. Ever go to college?

Yep, did it later than the average but ended up with a Master's Degree.
38. Where are you right now?

39. Biggest annoyance in your life right now?

My husband.
40. Last song listened to?

Crimson and Clover (an oldie but goodie)
41. Are you allergic to anything?

Cottonwood and beeswax.
42.Are you jealous of anyone?
Not really.
43. Is anyone jealous of you?

I doubt it, my life is pretty boring.
44. What time is it?
Quarter til 9 a.m.
45. Do any of your friends have children?

Yep, and grandkids too.
46. Do you eat healthy?

I could do better.
47. What do you usually do during the day?

Work, crash when I get home. Quilt. I try to drag myself to the gym.
48. Do you hate anyone right now?

No, why waste the energy on it.
49. Do you use the word 'hello' daily?

Usually Good Morning or Hi instead.
50. How old will you be on your next birthday?

51. Have you ever been to Six Flags?

Nope, but I've been to Disneyland.
52. How did you get one of your scars?
I had a mouse bite my hand on my 8th birthday. I still have the scar to prove it.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Just for fun....

I have been way to busy with work to post about much of anything. Can anyone spell "drowning?" That's how I have felt lately. It doesn't help that I've had the cold from hell along with the regular workload. So for a change of pace here's a great YouTube video I saw posted online.

Unfortunately I don't really know how to embed a YouTube video onto blogger. I'm sure it is a simple matter, so for those who want to find it on the "official" site, the title is Jason Mraz - The Joker/Everything I Own (Happy Feet). It brought a smile to my face after a long day and I hope it does the same for you.


Sunday, September 14, 2008

Blue Ribbon quilts

Here are a few pictures of two quilts I entered in the fair and one quilt top that just needs some applique on it to finish it up. This one is called "Ode to a Tree" and is quite entailed. It turned out very nicely and I earned a Blue Ribbon on it at the fair. To be honest, I thought it deserved a Champion or Reserve Champion...every point is precise and I felt my color selections really added to the quilt. Oh well...ya never know what the judges are looking for. Below are a few closeups of the quilt. I sent it to a long-arm quilter but feel it still needs a little more quilting with a stitch-in-the-ditch around the tree and in the narrow burgandy border. It was entered in the fair to only be judged on the piecing not the quilting since it had been professionally quilted.

The quilt below was just a quick 'couch quilt' that went together quick and easily, but it was fun to make. The colors go back to my favorities of anything turquoise. I didn't do anything fancy with the machine quilting, just going with the tried and true stitch-in-the-ditch. It also earned a Blue Ribbon.

This is the top of a quilt that I am just finishing up. It's made of the Timeless Treasures batiks and the pattern is from one of the quilt magazines. I originally was going to use yellow (Don't ya just love how blues/yellows/whites look together?) as the narrow border and for the circle (or maybe squares) that still need to be appliqued in the center of each block, but since I decided this would look nice on my couch in the family room I switched over to the red. I'm pleased with the overall look and think I'll quilt it in swirls. The pattern called for appliqued squares but I'm leaning toward circles.

I also entered my black/white convergence quilt and the blue/beige one that I posted pictures of earlier this year. They both earned blue ribbons too. :) The walls sure looked barren without them while they were shown at the fair.

Oh my, we have a beautiful full moon rising tonight...just love those harvest moons after a beautiful warm fall day....

Saturday, September 13, 2008

We interrupt the quilting and beach pictures...

The other Bitches might not agree with me but here's a post I think all American's should read from a friend of Oh, The Joys.


If you don't agree with me, that's fine. I respect other's opinions and will defend your right to state them as well as defend my right to state mine. My own husband and I often "agree to disagree" when it comes to politics in general. We have different issues that are important to each of us. For me they are education, children and women's issues. For him, it's gun control. Yet, we still talk to each other. :)

Tell ya what...I have some quilt pictures I'll post tomorrow and go back to the normal trivial crap that takes up space here at The Stitchin' Bitches.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Ocean beaches

Wow...has it really be early August since my last post? I am really a slacker these days. Here are a few pictures I took while on vacation to the Washington coast last week. The driftwood was in between our condo's front door and the top of the dune between us and the beach. I always love the way a photo can be framed through grasses and had fun with the two sunset pictures. Overall it was a nice vacation and I always enjoy getting away. Believe it or not I quilted on my vacation...took my little Featherweight and on the wet and dreary day and a few other cool mornings I managed to make a complete top. I just need to add the final border and it will be done. I have a goal of completing the binding of another quilt this weekend and hopefully entering it in the local county fair. It has been awhile since I've entered and this is a project I am proud of and will enjoy showing off.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Quilt top and a dolly quilt

Here's the quilt top I finished up this week. Using the Kansas Troubles line of muted colors is a real change for me. I prefer brighter colors, but at least it had a bit of blue and the brick red in it for a bit of cheeriness. To me, the muted colors are dull and dreary, so without the addition of the brighter colors I wouldn't have even considered this pattern/kit. It's called Navaho Rose and if I make it again I'll probably make my stars all the same color instead of a mix of eight different patterns. I always like a quilt with sashing and corner blocks. I'm such a traditional quilter and they just have such appeal to me.
This closeup gives you an idea of how each of the blocks turns out. This kind of a quilt is also a step out of my usual routine because I'm not much for scrappy style quilts. The fewer colors in a quilt to me, the better.
This is a picture of a dolly quilt I made from the left over scraps from the quilt I made and showed above. I love www.quiltville.com and this is from one of her projects that is called "maverick stars." I love anything to do with stars but this was so sweet to be able to just slap on a scrap of fabric onto a square, sew, press, trim, and add another star point. None of the points are perfect...some are long and skinny, others are short and fat, but it makes for a quick and easy star and I thought it was a nice change from always being so precise and perfect.

The star blocks are only 6" finished and as I was sewing them together with no specific project in mind, it dawned on my our little neighbor girl would probably like to have a little quilt for her dolly. It turned out the perfect size and the grin on her face was precious. Someday maybe I'll have a little granddaughter to make dolly quilts for, but until then I guess little neighbor girls will benefit from my quilting. I actually ended up liking the little scrap dolly quilt better than the twin-sized Navaho Rose design. Go figure!
Unfortunately summer is sneaking away from us and before long it'll be fall. I hope it will be a mild one this year so I can continue to enjoy the outdoors and fresh air.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Southwestern Quilt

This California King sized quilt top has been finished for quite a few years...I finally sent it to a long arm quilter for quilting. All I had to do to finish it was sew on the binding. I'm old school and prefer to hand sew the binding on my quilts and so it took quite a bit of time to get that done. Overall I'm pleased with how it turned out. This is a closeup shot of the quilt.
Here's a picture of it on the bed. It is a nice change from the old quilt I had on the bed. It was pretty but sure didn't match the new color scheme of sage green on the walls.
It is always nice to get a quilt done, especially one that has been sitting in a box for many years. It gives you a real sense of satisfaction.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Table runner and placemats -- wedding gift

I have a wedding to go to this weekend for a former student. What to get as a gift? Well, I decided to make a set of placemats and a table runner for her. I often hesitate to make gifts like this for young people since I know not everyone treasures a handmade gift, but I think this bride will appreciate that I took the time to make this special for her and her groom. Below is a closeup of the table runner. I just love that background fabric with it's mix of blues, beige, and brown coupled with delicate circles. It's one of those fabric pieces I picked up on a whim thinking that something would come to me down the line...well, it did. :)
Of course, a post wouldn't be complete without a picture of the new grandson. He's sure a sweet little guy. Grandma is actually babysitting big brother today to give Mommy a chance to get caught up around the house and he's taking a nice snooze himself right now. Why, I even managed to sew together some quilt blocks for another project during the nap, but wouldn't ya know it, I need to cut some more pieces of the block and the fabric is lying on a table in the room where he's sleeping...I don't think I'll take the chance of waking him up early from his nap.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

More Cuteness

Here's the new addition to our family...grandson #2. He's adorable and has the trademark lips of his father, his big brother, his grandpa (you get the idea). I do think he has his mother's nose though. So far things have gone well at home for Mommy and Baby and Big Brother has been hanging with Grandma and Grandpa for a few days.
Here's proud Daddy and Big Brother. Can you tell they are father and son? We're all feeling pretty blessed that the baby arrived safe and sound.


Saturday, June 21, 2008


This is my little 2 y.o. grandson...he's about to become a big brother in the next few weeks. He is so much like his father at this age that I feel like I'm experiencing deja vu anytime I'm around him. He got to stay overnight last night and will spend most of the day with us until Mommy and Daddy get back from their Saturday routine of selling fruit at the Farmer's Market. He loves to play with little cars, ride his four wheeler, and color. He talks constantly and carries on a pretty solid conversation for a little guy. He is all boy and we love him to pieces.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Here we are!

It isn't the best picture, but here we are down in Ephrata! We had a great time, just as SB 'D' said we did in her first ever blog post! I'm still reeling over that...one of the other Bitches posted!!!!!!!! And yes, I spent more money than all of us. That's the usual routine at a quilt shop for me...total lack of restraint is my middle name.

I'm still amazed at how fast the trip went. 'D' was right when she said it passed by so quickly. I think we all had a good time.

Since we went to Ephrata I've been making myself finish up some projects. I had two baby quilts and a wall hanging that were sandwiched and ready to go so I sat down yesterday and had a marathon quilting session. I even cleaned up and organized my sewing/spare room today.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Road Trip to Ephrata

We made it to Ephrata and back, had a great dinner and "J" Stitchin' Bitch introduced us to geocaching. Of course we all spent a little money at the fabric store too. One of us spent a lot of money. It was a great afternoon/evening. Well worth taking a half day off work. We spent 4 hours in the car driving to and from, but it seemed like no time at all. There was a lot of visiting, catching up, gossiping, kidding one another and laughing. Poor "J" Stitchin' Bitch was on the short end of the stick in regards to the kidding. She was introducing the three of us to geocaching. It all sounded very interesting until we were looking at this sea of sage brush in Bridgeport that she was going to walk through in order to find this little hidden box. (Our local sage brush harbors rattle snakes and other little critters that bite.) So, the brave soles that we are, we all stood at the side of the road and watched until she found it. Then when we saw that we were not too far in to the sage brush we gathered around and all learned up close and personal about the contents of this hidden cache. It was a great fun adventure for "J', "D" & "M" Bitch, and it was even more fun having an old friend from High School along with us.

PS...the other challange "J" has given us is to join her in the content of this Blog. Today is my first day to ever write in a blog.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Road Trip!

Ok, Ok, so we aren't going anywhere overnight, but the Stitchin' Bitches (+1) are hitting the road tomorrow to go visit the quilt shop in Ephrata. We've been talking about going down together for more than a few months and we were finally able to all settle on a date that worked for all of us. Even nicer another H.S. friend who is town is joining us. She's not a quilter, but the chance to ride along with all of us and visit is good enough reason to come along. I'm sure we'll manage to eat a leisurely dinner out too. I expect the road trip will be lots of fun...pictures to follow!

I'm dragging them to a Geocache on the way back too. I have a TravelBug that I picked up today that needs to get out of this county so this is a good opportunity to do that.

As for quilting, I've finished up my new grandbaby's quilt top and sandwiched it. One good afternoon of quilting would get it done and I just need to sit down and get to work on it. My first week of freedom from work is always sweet and I don't do anything but what I want to do (usually nothing), but after that I make myself get to work on projects that need to be done around here like painting.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Good News!

Well, it has been a long time since I've posted. Life has been busy and it seems there is very little time to just sit down and quilt, let alone write a post. Don't get me wrong, I have managed to squeeze in piecing of a quilt top for my new grandbaby...the top will be done for the shower next week, but I'll have until July to get it done for the new arrival.

Here's the good news though...remember my WTF? post back in March about how my local quilt shop wasn't making good on the five free yards after buying 50 yards because I was five days past the 30 day limit the owner had placed on the reimbursement of these cards? I made a point of speaking to the owner about the policy and stated my opinion that it wasn't reasonable...after all I've spent thousands of dollars in her business over the years, sent people there religiously, and managed to get SB #1 and SB #2 started quilting and they spend the majority of their quilting dollars with her too. Well since then I have done my quilt related shopping elseware and haven't stepped foot in the store. My shopping has taken me to Spokane, Seattle, Ephrata, and the internet. I've purchased fabric for three quilts in that time...money that could have stayed in my local community rather than being spent elsewhere. I knew in time I'd have to break down and make purchases there but felt I needed to make a statement.

Well it looks like my boycotting protest (as well as others I know who had the same thing happen to them) has made a difference. SB #1 was in the shop the other day and the owner informed her they were revamping the 5 free yards program and those of us who "lost" our yardage were now going to be able to get our fabric. I'm glad she's seen the light. This is a small community and so often I see retail businesses who treat customers poorly. Their competition is Wmart and Home Depot and the only way to keep the customers coming through the door is to offer great customer service. Our local ACE Hardware is a great example...those guys may charge more than HD, but you can't walk in the store without someone coming to assist you whether it is a small or large item. A good quilt shop pulls people in from miles around and I've always considered myself lucky that I had one not five miles from my home. I guess I'll have to drop in next week.... :)

May has been extremely busy for me. One weekend my husband and I spent in Ephrata at a wedding. We took the long way and geocached our way to and from. I ended the weekend with 23 new caches to my count and got to see some interesting country and learn some history along the way. Another weekend was spent babysitting the grandson so Mommy and Daddy could get away for their anniversary. Papa and I enjoyed ourselves greatly! This long weekend is starting off on a sad note with the memorial service of one of my husband's oldest friends. Another friend flew in for the service and will be staying with us for the weekend. I have yard work to get done and housecleaning since next weekend I'm hosting the baby shower for my DIL. Whew...I'm glad thsi month is about over!

Thanks for stopping by...
SB #3

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Geocaching Fun

So, have you heard of Geocaching? I haven't felt like sewing so I have been out trying to get a little exercise by chasing down hidden geocaches. Briefly, geocaching is a sport developed by techies as a way of using their handheld GPS units for something other than a paperweight. All over the world (literally) there are caches hidden and then recorded at www.geocaching.com. A cache can be very small and only have room for a small pencil and a rolled up piece of paper for a log to ammo cans. I've even heard of some in 5 gallon buckets. All caches have a log book for the finder to sign and larger ones have little trinkets for cachers to exchange with. The general rule of thumb is if you take something, replace it with something. To add to the fun there are traveling items like Travel Bugs or GeoCoins. They have tracking numbers on them and after they are logged in the owner gets a message about where the Trackable is now. I have one Travel Bug in Australia (She's traveled 20,000 miles since 2002) and another in California (She's traveled 5,000 miles since 2006).

Yesterday we traveled to Chelan to eat lunch with my nephew and ex-sis-in-law. He recently turned 21 and this was a great chance to get to see him. It didn't take me long to narrow down some caches in the Chelan area and so after lunch we went to find a few of them. The ones in town weren't difficult and didn't show any great sites, but then we took the "scenic" route out of town to search for two more. I've never driven down the old dirt road that leads along the Chelan Gorge and it was a real treat. It had it all, impressive scenery, cleverly hidden caches, and beautiful sunshine. My grandson, who was along for the ride, made out since in both of these caches were matchbook cars as trading items. Nothing says COOL to a 2 year old better than Grandma handing over new cars to him. :)

We made one last stop for a micro cache along the way and there we got skunked. My husband even got into the act of looking for it and he couldn't find it. We both have different hunting skills. I tend to look at the big picture and hope something jumps out at me before painstakingly narrowing things down, while Hubby is great at focusing on small things and picking them out. He is always picking faces of people we know out of crowds in the most unexpected places. He's not an official geocacher (no handle or username), but occasionally helps me out when I drag him along.

Anyway, I found five out of six we attempted for the day, so that was good. Today I have a few more to go out and find. and it looks like a good day for it. Who knows, maybe the new cache I placed earlier in the weekend and that was just published early this morning will be plundered by someone else who is out looking for a little bit of exercise on a sunny Sunday morning. It's supposed to be rainy and cool during the work week so maybe I'll do some machine quilting then.

Have a wonderful day.


Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Baby Chicks

My poor son is under the impression that because he raises acres and acres of beautiful fruit, he also know how to raise animals...in this case chickens. He told me earlier this spring (and I use that word loosely) that he's going to raise 80 baby chicks and plans to sell the eggs at his fruitstand.

That sounds like a good idea, right? Well...it is much harder to raise baby chicks than he imagined. We've had such a cold spring that the heat lamps over the brooding boxes of chicks have gotten a real workout. One morning when he checked on the chicks he found that half of the chicks were dead. Somehow the heat lamp had overheated the box the chicks were in and it was smouldering, effectively killing the chicks by smoke inhalation. A few days later the other heat lamp's bulb exploded killing more of the chicks.

Now let me insert here that I have successfully raised broods of baby chicks, but I give all the credit to my Dad for making sure I was doing it right. My husband knows about these things too, but my Dad was always my go-to guy for advice about anything to do with any aspect of farming. Before he passed away Dad taught my son everything he knew about raising fruit, but I don't think he touched on the animal husbandry skills that my son seems so lacking in.

Hopefully he won't decide to raise lambs, pigs, or calves anytime soon. I think he's probably better off concentrating on what he knows...raising incredible fruit!


Saturday, April 12, 2008

Finally Spring!

Spring has been slow in arriving this year. I know, I know, I added a picture three weeks ago of my crocus in bloom welcoming spring, but there was a bump in the road on the way to warmer days. We've had snow, hail, and lots of gray days the past few weeks...but today and tomorrow hold the promise of actually being spring-like! Hurray!

So while the coldness persisted I did manage to get some extra quilting done. I now have two quilts sandwiched and ready to go. With warm weather though, it might be awhile before I get back to them.

I've also had the chance to visit some quilt shops around the state as part of my boycott of our local shop...The Quilting Bee in Spokane is always fun to visit and they have a nice selection of fabric. Unfortunately, their prices are the highest I've ever seen, with most fabrics running $10-$11 a yard. I picked out a few half yard pieces and snuck out of there for less than $40. I also visited The Buggy Barn. They have a strong following of quilters who favor the primitive/country style of quilting. It's not really my style, so I managed to get out of there with only a yard of a good background fabric. My final stop was a nice shop over in Seattle, specifically in the Ballard area of the city. It's called the Quilt Loft and I was pretty impressed...even more so when I discovered that the owner is only 30 years old. It was obvious this store is owned by a young woman since the fabrics were bright, cheerful, and full of the more modern prints that hark back to the 70's styles. There were great samples of not only quilts, but also bags and clothing. They carry quite a bit of the Amy Butler line. I spoke with the owner asking if she was getting young people into the shop to learn how to sew and she said it was growing all the time. That's great news...getting new blood into the hobby will only help it grow for all of us. This final stop on my quilt shop browsing snagged me a few yards of some beautiful fabrics as well as restocking my need for some Steam A Seam 2. I sure hope she does well since this shop is close my son's house I'll be a frequent visitor on my trips over the mountains. My next shop visit will be in Ephrata...we have a wedding to attend down there in May and I've informed my husband we'll be going early so I can stop by this shop. I've heard great things about the selection and the prices.

Have a great spring everyone!


Thursday, March 27, 2008

Completed blue convergence quilt

Here's my completed convergence quilt that I pieced a few weeks ago. I appliqued circles randomly on the quilt, machine quilted wavy lines diagonally, and then handquilted around the individual circles to make them "pop" a bit more. I really like how it turned out!

Here's a few closeups of the quilt. Size-wise, it could either be a wall hanging or a nice lap sized quilt. Dang...I wish the quilting lines showed up. They really add great visual interest.

Onward and upward. I have a baby quilt to machine quilt next.


Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Spring is here!

These little beauties are just too cute for words.They are just on schedule too -- tomorrow is the first full day of spring.

This poor flower bed is so heavily shaded that nothing really grows in it during the summer months. That makes the crocuses even more special.

Happy first day of Spring! -- SB#3

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Convergence Quilt

Have you tried Ricky Tims’s convergence quilts yet? If you haven’t, give it a try. They are fun to make and really don’t take all that much time. Here’s the first one I made.

The black and white fabrics, combined with the two grays are striking. I ended up making two in this fabric and giving one to my eldest son’s girlfriend.

Here’s what I worked on this weekend.

I wanted to make this one bigger than the black/white convergence so instead of using fat quarters, I used a much wider strip of fabric. To be honest, the top was narrower than I wanted, so I added 3” solid strips of fabric at the top and the bottom before adding the final border. I actually like the way it sets off the convergence design.

This week I want to do some appliqué…something I normally avoid. I think circles of many different sizes will really set it off…almost like bubbles rising. I think I’ll use the blue border fabric and see how it goes.

BTW, did any of you see Ricky Tims on CBS Sunday Morning today? He sure doesn’t look like the stereotypical quilter, male or female. He looks more like the cowboys or orchardists I see around town!
Have a good week everyone!

Saturday, March 15, 2008

WTF is up with this?

Our little community is way out in the boonies. Our fabric shopping choices are limited to the evil Arkansas giant superstore and our local quilt shop (LQS). As a result, many people use the internet to fill in the gaps. What has always scared me is that the local shop might go away if it is not supported, so I have made it a point to be a loyal customer. I buy 95% of my quilting fabric there, my thread, my batting, and many patterns and books. If I do buy fabric online or out of town, I make a point of purchasing my backing and other supplies at the LQS. I also sucked M and D into quilting and they now shop regularly at our LQS. This is not the only way I have supported this shop…when people ask me about learning to quilt, I always refer them to the LQS pointing out that they have a great beginning quilting class.

Here’s what pisses me off…the LQS has a punch card system of rewarding regular customers. Once you have purchased 50 yards of fabric at regular price, you have earned a free 5 yards of fabric. Nice eh? With fabric at $8.50 to $10 a yard it is a nice bonus for being a loyal customer. Well, it used to be. A few “bad” quilters used to save up their punch cards and then come in and redeem four or five at once. For a small shop, that really hits hard. So the owner decided to put a 30 day limit on using up your punch card. I don’t know about you, but I hate to be put into the position to “hurry” and pick out my fabric when I don’t have a specific project in mind. My stash has plenty of fabric that sits there unused because it was purchased without a plan for it. Both SB#1 and I have lost our five free yards because we were in the shop 4 and 5 days after our 30 day limit. We’ve also heard the same story from more than a few other quilters.

When this happened to me this week, I spoke with the owner. I suggested that customers only be allowed to redeem one punch card every 30 days to avoid the issue she’d had with the “bad” quilters. I pointed out that we want her business to stay open, but that the 30 day limit for the five free yards was limiting and unfair to loyal customers. I pointed out that SB#1 had recently purchased an expensive sewing machine from her (if that’s not loyal, I don’t know what is), and her five yards weren’t redeemed since she was 4 days late. Her excuse is that her prices are going up every week (yes – fuel costs are making life difficult for all of us) and if she lets us go past 30 days she’s losing money. What? How much money is she going to lose when frustrated customers start shopping online? I know on the few occasions that I’ve purchased fabric online, I have been very pleased and found it to be easy, quick, and in some cases, less expensive than my LQS. Again though, I do most of my shopping locally to ensure the LQS stays open.

Let’s be honest, our LQS owner is not known for being warm and fuzzy. I don’t let that put me off, but SB#1 and SB#2 were honestly scared off by her stern personality and wouldn’t shop there at first without me to accompany them. My boss showed us a video this year called “Give Them the Pickle!” It comes from the old Farrell Ice Cream Parlors. For years they gave customers free pickles, but then decided to start charging for them. One customer wrote the owner complaining and wondering where the customer service had gone. The owner realized that in order to keep the customer happy, he needed to go the extra mile and his mantra became “Give them the pickle!” It went back to the old idea in customer service that the customer was always right. Do any of you remember those days? It’s something that has disappeared in the American business community and it seems a shame that small local businesses seem to have forgotten the only way they can keep the customer from going to the big box stores is by offering exemplary customer service.

Unfortunately, this incident has left a very sour taste in my mouth. I have been attending monthly quilting marathons at the LQS, buying loads of fabric for the projects and always spending more money that night when I’m at the shop. We have one tonight and I committed to it last month so I feel like I have to go. I think it will be my last and I expect that I will be spending more of my quilting budget online and at other shops that are within a two hour drive rather than with my crabby LQS owner.

What do you think? Am I just living up my nickname of being a Stitchin’ Bitch?


Saturday, March 8, 2008

Cotton Canvas Grocery Bags

Fabric Grocery Sack Pattern – 2 bags

1 yard of cotton canvas duck, upholstery fabric, or denim – 54” wide
2 -- 13.5” x 18” sheet of plastic needlepoint ‘canvas’

Optional Materials:
Cutting mat, rotary cutter, 6” x 24” Omnigrid ruler. I am a quilter so these materials are second nature to me and make the cutting out process very quick and simple.

Do not prewash the fabric. Ironing will eliminate wrinkles or folds in the fabric.

1. Lay the fabric out with the selvidges together. Mark the top and the bottom of the fabric (the ends cut at the fabric store) with pins.

Cut off the selvidge off both edges. They are usually ½” to ¾” wide.

Measure and cut two strips of fabric the full yard length of the fabric that are 2.5” wide. These will be your handles. Set aside.

2. Open the fabric and fold the bottom to the top. You will now have a piece of fabric that is 54” wide and about 19” tall (remember, it’s folded at the bottom). Make sure the fabric is lying flat and cut two strips 20” wide.

Fold is at the bottom of the picture. Raw edges of fabric on the sides and top.

3. Cut two strips 6” wide. These will become the insert for the bottom of the bag to give it a little more strength. Set them aside until later.

4. Fold so the right side of the bag fabric is together. Match the top edge of the fabric and pin the sides. Sew ½” seams. Strengthen the seam by doing an overlock stitch. If you have a serger you can do it all in one step.

5. The bag should still be inside out. Create the gusset at the bottom of the bag by pressing the bottom corners of the bag into a V. Draw a line across that V. I like a 5” wide base so my line is 5” long. Make sure you use the side seam as a guide to center your ruler. You should have 2.5” of the new seam on either side of the side seam of the bag.

6. Turn the bag and using your fingers, open up the gusset at the bottoms of the bag. Some people like to trim the points off the gusset seaming. I leave them…your choice.

7. Head to the ironing board. Press the side seams and the bag. At the top of the bag iron a ¼” fold all the way around the top of the bag. Fold another inch and press.

8. You’re ready for the handles. You will only need one strip of the handle fabric to create both handles you’ll need for one bag. I personally hate to sew a ¼” seam on a handle and then turn it inside out so I cheat. I head back to the ironing board and press a ¼” fold on either side of the handle pieces. Then carefully fold the handle together (wrong side of the fabric inside) and press. Sew a straight seam on both sides of the handle about 1/8” from the edge.

9. Fold the handle piece in half to find the exact center. Mark with a pin, then carefully cut into two equal length pieces. Overlock stitch the ends of both handle pieces.

10. Placing the handles on the bag is easy. First, you’ll need to find the exact center of both sides of the bag. Here’s an easy way to do it…Holding the bag open at the top, match the two side seams together. If you hold the fabric out you will now have the dead center of each of the two sides of the bag. Mark with a pin.

11. Lay the bag on your work table and measure out exactly 2.5 ” to the left and right of the pins marking the center. Pin the handle on the inside of the bag using the pins as your guide. Make sure it is straight and is inserted only 1” down (use the ironed fold as your guide). The handles should be exactly 5” apart.

12. Sew the top of the bag and attach the handles. I prefer to use the darning zig zag stitch on my machine, but a regular zig zag stitch works well. I sew just under the 1” width of the folded edge all the way around the bag. When you come to the handle pieces slow down the machine since you are suddenly increasing the thickness and machines don’t always like it. Using a jeans or denim needles is a good idea for this portion of the project.

13. Bar tack the handles…I keep my stitch as wide as the original zig zag stitch, but shorten the stitch length. I sew one bar tack at the top edge of the bag over the handle and a second one on the same stitching line that went all the way around the bag.

14. All you have left is the bottom insert. Fold the bottom insert pieces so the right sides of the fabric are together. Sew a 3/8” seam. You want less bulk, that’s why the seam is narrower. Turn right sides out and press. Measure the gusseted box at the bottom of your bag. It should be 5” wide and 13” long, but if it isn’t make sure you cut your plastic to the appropriate size.

15. Cut the plastic needlepoint ‘canvas’ the correct size for the base of your bag. If you’ve sewn your bottom gusset correctly it should be 5” x 13” so that’s what I cut mine at. Cut two per bag. Slip the two pieces of plastic inside the bottom insert. It’s a tight fit so it helps if you pull the sides up at the side to slip it in. Make sure you’ve pushed it all the way to the end. Lockstitch the open end and trim off the excess fabric. Slip bottom insert into your bag and you are ready to go shopping!

Suggestions…Once you’ve made your first bag any others will go quite quickly. It is easy to cut a bunch of bags and go into a mass production routine, completing the same step on a stack of bags before going on to the next step. Get creative with your fabric. I’ve used striped upholstery fabric, geometric printed canvas duck, off-white canvas duck, and denim. I personally prefer the canvas duck. I also like to mix and match my fabrics into my handles.
These bags are easy to make and will keep you from having to drag those plastic bags home from the grocery story. I just fold up a few homemade bags and stuff them inside of another bag before I head off to do my shopping. One of these bags can easily hold twice as much as the plastic sacks do. If that’s a bit too heavy for you, downsize your bags a bit...cut them 16” wide instead. Remember to remeasure your bottom insert…it will be smaller.

Monday, March 3, 2008


We are the Stitchin' Bitches...we've known each other since preschool days, have managed to survive school, marriage, and raising children and now finally have some time to do what we love...quilting! SB#1, SB#2, and SB#3 are our monikers. I suspect I'll be doing 99% of the posting. The other two are internet and blogging novices. Besides, SB#1 and SB#2 work way too many hours!

We call ourselves the Stitchin' Bitches because we admittedly act that way. While we don't critique other's quilts we do have a great time joking about those quilters and seamstresses whose dress goes overboard. You know what I mean...the head to toe quilted outfits, the funny hats, or even worse the tiaras we saw gals wearing at Sew Expo this year. We know they are having fun, but we have promised each other we won't go there! We don't cut each other any slack...that's what happens when you've known each other as long as we have.

We just got back from Sew Expo in Puyallup and had a blast! Last year I sent a text message to my son's girlfriend telling her I'd had a great time at Sew Expo. Note to self: always double check when using predictive text. Instead, she got the message that I'd had a great time at the Sex Expo. My son and her got a good laugh out of that.

Back to Sew Expo...Learned lots and lots this year. Thread Therapy was excellent and I think I understand threads and needles a bit better and how they effect how the machine runs. I've always known this, but Bob really drove the point home. I also took a one seam pants class from Louise Cutting. She's a character and when I left I really felt that for once I could get a pair of pants to fit correctly. I spent a few hours yesterday customizing the pattern and hope to actually make them tomorrow night. I'll let you know how that goes. I have challenges to meet like a large tummy and being short...add in a very short waist and it turns into a alteration nightmare.

We also took classes on different quilt-as-you-go techniques and found them to be interesting and something we all want to try. SB#1 already has tried this with success. I've done it once on my Millenium quilt, but SB#2 hasn't tried it at all yet.

We didn't spend tons of money at the vendors booths, but did manage to leave a decent chunk of change behind. I'm excited about the new plexi-glass sewing extension table I bought for my Viking Lily 555. It should be delivered this week.

My next post will be on how to make reusable grocery bags out of fabric. I made four of them yesterday in just a few hours and was impressed by how easy they were to make. Plus, they are big enough to actually carry some real groceries home. Now if I can just get SB#1 and SB#2 to post occasionally, life will be good.