The first time Sandra Dee tried to get even

Once in a while we were all at retreat, we find that we have a reason to go back into town.   Sometimes it’s because we have forgotten something or there’s a work something or a family something.  This time we had a sad reason, but it was something that we couldn’t miss.  A quilter friend’s husband had passed away and we all headed in for the visitation to pay our respects and support our friend.  Well, all of us that were monkeys at that point which would be me, Inez, Sandra Dee and Ruby, perhaps Hattie as well.  Inez and I opted to do some errands while we were in town so Sandra Dee easily beat us back out to retreat.  Once there she decided that she would pull a little prank on us.  She didn’t have much time to plan in advance so her thought was to take an item or two from each of our stations while were still in town particularly those items that we seemed to be using on whatever project we had out to work on.  She was kind of giggly when we got back and we chalked it up to her just being excited about being at retreat.  Apparently we were wrong, but it didn’t take us long to figure that out.

Remember what I said about being able to run with the big dogs and how if you wouldn’t want a joke played on you don’t play it on anyone else?  Well, we were cool monkeys out there on the porch.  Instead of getting angry or going on a hunt for items we simply turned to each other and asked to borrow whatever we were missing.  Then we kept on sewing without missing too much of a beat.  After a couple of hours Sandra Dee decided she couldn’t take it any more and she went and got our stuff.  We all had a good laugh about it, after all this is retreat and we are there to have a good time.

I know what you’re thinking.  This prank was a bit of a let down.  You were hoping that she really pulled one over on the rest of us.  Don’t worry, she comes up with something way better.  Don’t feel too bad, Sandra Dee has not had a lot of practice with this kind of thing.  Although she is learning all the time.

In the meantime I have managed to complete 24 fleece caps and I apologize for the lack of pictures as they have all been sent off to a guild where they will make their way to where they are needed most compliments of their Charity chair person.  I also recognized that I will most likely not get many more done and since they have a sewing task force lined up to make various and sundry comfort caps so I have opted to send them the rest of my fleece so they have some nice soft material to work with.  This does a kind of double duty for me.  I get to donate and feel good as well as get some things out of my house.  What a win-win.

That, of course, begs the question what are you working on now?  Well, I’ll tell you.  I still have a couple more scarves to finish and an afghan that I started but for quilting projects I am working on quilting a couple of quilts that I have patiently waiting to be quilted before making their way to their new homes.  One is a baby quilt in a sampler style for my cousin that had a baby (it’s a little late) and the Figgy Pudding quilt from Moda with fabric designed by Basic Grey for my friend D that was a Christmas present a couple of years ago.  She is an avid scrapbooker and Basic Grey is her favorite paper design company.  I can’t wait to get them both quilted!  I’ll put some pictures up when they are finished.

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Has Moby been found?

I thought about updating the previous post, but thought that could make it a bit lengthy and so we have a fresh post instead.

When I began the hunt this time around I thought I would call my mother to see if she had or if grandma had a featherweight stashed in a closet somewhere.  I mean, you never know, right?  Well, the answer to that was no. She reminded me of the treadle she has, but that’s not really what I am looking for right now.  She did happen to be at bingo so I cut the call short so she wouldn’t miss any numbers.

I should let you know that while my mother is a nice lady, sometimes she says things that are funny. For example, I’m going over to the Wal-Marts.  Hmmm, and how many is that?  What?  How many Wal-Marts?  She doesn’t think that is so funny.  It was funnier when she asked if I had tried the new capuchio drinks from Starbucks (or whoever else was making the cappuccino drinks that you could buy in a 4-pack at the grocery store).  Capuchio?  I suppose that we should not confuse that with the Capuchin monkey which I don’t think is something you can buy in a bottle to drink.  I’m not going to run a search to make sure though.  I still laugh about the capuchio.

While we were on the phone I did use the term featherweight.  However, she managed to transform featherweight into feather-light.  This week she went to some kind of euchre party or tournament and asked all the quilter ladies she knows (which I think numbers at two) if they know where she could buy a feather-light.  One of the quilter friends wondered if she meant some kind of a light for the sewing machine.  The other quilter friend said that yes, she does and that she is willing to part with it.  She was very excited to have found one for me and wondered if I wanted it.  I did ask if it was white.  She didn’t know but her quilter friend says that it is in working order.  I figure beggars can’t be choosers and that the price was good so we should go for it.  My mother also informed me that this quilter friend has SIX!!! sewing machines.  No mom, that doesn’t surprise me and no mom I doubt that all of them are feather-lights.

Isn’t that exciting?  Well it is for me.  And it makes Sandra Dee a little bit jealous because now she wants one too.  In fact she had the opportunity to buy one at Goodwill for a whopping $8 and change AND it had a featherweight table with it.  The only thing she can figure is that her brain wasn’t turned on that day as she didn’t grab it and dance her happy dance to the checkout.  Instead another retreater spied it and purchased it at quite a steal of a price.  Especially since it had the table.

The deal for my potential Moby isn’t complete.  When it is and I have the little darling in my hands I will certainly be posting pictures.  And if she is not a white one, we may have to find her a different name.  But keep your eyes open for Sandra Dee.

The ever so elusive Singer Featherweight.

Call me Opal.  Some years ago – never mind how long precisely – having little or no money in my purse, and nothing particular to interest me online, I thought I would browse about a little and see the internet part of the world.  It is a way I have of settling my spirit and regulating my thoughts.  Whenever I find myself growing grim about the mouth; whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul; whenever I find myself involuntarily pausing before quilt shops, and lingering behind to stare at every sewing machine I meet; and especially whenever my obsession gets such an upper hand of me, that it requires a strong bending of will to prevent me from deliberately pulling out my credit card, and methodically listing the pros and cons of the purchase, I account it high time to start surfing the net again.  This is my substitute for a wild shopping spree.  With a philosophical flourish Cato throws himself upon his sword; I quietly take to the internet.  There is nothing surprising in this.  If they but knew it, almost all women in their degree, some time or other, cherish very nearly the same feelings towards the internet with me.  (a repurposing of Moby Dick with my most sincere apologies to Herman Melville).

I am currently obsessed.  I’m sure you’re asking yourselves what are you obsessed about now?  Well, a Singer Featherweight.  Yep, that’s right.  I have to thank my friend S for sharing this blog entry.  Of course I read the blog and then I checked out the Home Shopping Network.  I could feel myself begin to desire one.  I *almost* went ahead and bought one thinking that it would be the modern-day version of a classic that cannot seem to be replicated.  It really is quite a phenomenon, this sewing machine.  Who would have thought that a small portable sewing machine made over 50 years ago would be so sought after by modern quilters?  I certainly wouldn’t have thought so.

By now I’m sure you’re wondering why this machine is so popular.  Well, this machine is from back in the day when Singer was on the top of their game.  They made sewing machines that were the penultimate to own.  Considering that these machines haven’t been made for 50 years, it’s pretty remarkable that they are still running just as well as they did when they rolled off the line.  They are also small and light weight making them extremely portable and ideal for taking to quilting classes or retreats.    If you’ve never seen one, take a look here.  Aren’t they just the cutest thing you’ve ever seen?

In case you are wondering, my main sewing machine is a Viking Platinum 770.  I do love it.  If you are not familiar, Viking is made by Husqvarna.  I figure if they can make super durable chain saw motors, then surely they can handle a durable sewing machine.

For now I will continue my internet search, and research, until I find my Moby Dick.  Perhaps that would be a good name for my Featherweight when I find one.  Moby Dick.  That would fit in well with my Hinterberg 17 whom I call Pirate Wench.  Perhaps that also means I need to find a white one.

If you have one, leave me some comments about how much you love it.  And of course, if you have one to sell leave that information too.  Especially if it is a white one.

Time for a public service announcement

If you are a quilter or know quilters, you know that for the most part they are fairly generous folks. Most of us participate in some charitable activity or another or perhaps more than one.  Our guilds have a Charity chairperson who directs the making of charitable items and helps with contacts for where the charitable projects should go.  Recently at our monthly fabric lunch we had a discussion about The State of Things. Primarily that there are families living in their cars and that one of the local hospitals is running short on comfort caps for their cancer patients.  I know those are two totally different issues, but this is what we talked about.

The first makes us very sad and a discussion ensued about making quillows (free pattern here) or perhaps pillow cases with drawstrings so they can be used for carrying items easier.  I know it’s not much, but we are of the opinion that every little bit helps.  Our conversation then turned to how we would reach those families (because it is the children who tug at our heartstrings) because if they are living in their car they may not be checking in at the shelters.  However, we do have to start somewhere and shelters and the Salvation Army seem to be the best place for us to start.  There is always a need for more.  You may be thinking what’s the big deal about quillows.  Well, its something that we can make to give someone else that is pretty or fun or new and maybe lift some spirits or make someone smile thinking that someone out there cares about them.  It makes us feel like we are doing something to help.

Now, that leaves the comfort caps.  You can find a free pattern for those here.  Perhaps you have a friend or family member going through cancer treatment and would like to help them.  My mother recently completed chemotherapy for ovarian cancer and lost her hair.  I made some caps from fleece and she uses them to help keep her head warm when she goes to bed.  They are soft and warm and stretchy.  She was tickled to get them.  Well, really she was touched as she called (in tears) to thank me.  Sometimes it really is the little things that we do that can make a big difference to someone else.  Even quillows and comfort caps.

If you are a sewer, check your local quilt guild or quilt shop they may accept any that you make and route them to the appropriate place or check with your local hospital to see if they have any requirements for you to be able to donate.  If you are not a sewer, but still think this is a worthy cause you can always donate fabric or money to the same places.

The Second Prank

You know us Monkeys, we always like to have a laugh. Practical jokes are a great way to do so. And while we enjoy the laughter we have one rule: if it hurts someone or damages property then it isn’t a joke. That’s what we call being mean. Of course the regular victim in our lust for pulling off the perfect practical joke is Sandra Dee. I may have mentioned before that she is a terribly good sport. She can laugh at herself very well and we help with the clean up afterward. After all, being a good sport goes both ways. Remember this too, if you can’t run with the big dogs don’t get off the porch. I just like that saying. Seriously though, if you don’t think you would like to have the joke played on you, don’t play it on someone else. Otherwise you might find yourself in for a big surprise.

Back to Sandra Dee.  We do love her dearly.  She is a good friend and would give you the shirt off her back (as well as find you a matching belt and earrings.  Remember we are dealing with one of the Pretty People).  We also love snack food.  Chocolate is good, but we also have developed a penchant for Cheetos and popcorn.  Since our first retreat together was so much fun, especially after the short sheeting incident, coming up with a good practical joke seemed like the thing to do.  Since Sandra Dee was such a good sport it seemed like she was the natural victim of our gags.  Of course this left Inez and I scheming for weeks ahead of time.  What could we do?  What should we do?  What would be funny?  In the end, I settled for popcorn.  Inez becomes important to the gag because she helps distract Sandra Dee from what is being done.  Ruby is also important to the gag because she helps me pull them off.  This may be why they think of me as The Instigator.  I know you are wondering how popcorn fulfills a practical joke.  Well, remembering the rule, I really had to think this through because I wanted to switch out her pillow for a giant bag of popcorn.  Of course I didn’t want to waste the popcorn because that would be just silly.  The trouble was that we really enjoy our popcorn with real butter and salt and that would damage her pillowcase.  Mmmmmm….popcorn.  Anyway.  With the help of my dear husband we air popped popcorn with none of the good stuff, cooled it and filled a  garbage bag.  Don’t worry, it was a new one and it was a big one because there are lots of people to share the popcorn with.  I also brought a smaller bag to fill with popcorn that could be stuck in her pillowcase.  The bag to go in her pillow was not filled to the brim, there had to be room for the popcorn to sift around and you won’t want the pillow case to look like it is holding a roasted pig.  I told you this required a lot of thought.  The best practical jokes are carefully planned, at lease in my humble opinion.

Of course Ruby and I stayed up late with her to see the results of our handiwork.  We did run into a little bit of trouble though.  It was late and a good number of quilters were already in bed.  One of the regulars had recently begun using a CPAP machine (sleep apnea is no laughing matter).  This did not bother me, however Sandra Dee almost wet her pants (Seriously, why are we not bringing Depends with us to these weekends?) the minute she stepped into the room because she thought she heard Darth Vader and couldn’t figure out what the noise was.  If you have been around a CPAP you know that it doesn’t really sound like Darth Vader, but that is something kinda funny to think about when you are very tired.  Ruby had helped alert the rest of our fellow retreaters as to what we were up to, mainly because they asked.  I think the bed short sheeting set the stage for the monkey tribe but we didn’t know it quite yet.  Subsequent retreats would have fellow retreaters slyly asking us what were up to this time.  They are pretty good sports too.  Since Sandra Dee had made it part way into the bunk room Ruby had to wave off the remaining crowd that the trap had not yet been sprung.

I suppose I should also take a moment to mention that there are two bunk rooms at retreat and they are divided into snoring and non-snoring. The snoring side is much quieter as the snorers don’t believe that they snore.  This is why on the retreat supply list earplugs are mentioned.  I usually keep a few pairs in my retreat gear.  I have the nice foam squishy ones.  If you are not sure what I’m talking about or are looking for some for yourself, you can usually find decent disposable ones at the hardware store, like these:  here.

Since Sandra Dee didn’t think she could sleep with the CPAP distracting her, I offered her earplugs.  She graciously accepted and then looked at them funny because she didn’t know what to do with them.  I tried to show her but not successfully as she rolled one up into a tight ball and poked it in her ear as far as it would go.  I don’t think it could really expand in her ear like it should.

This time instead of sleeping across from each other, we slept in bunks next to each other.  I will need to remember not to do that when there are future gags to be had.  This is important because as we were getting ready to go to bed she came at me.  If we were not in a dark room full of sleeping quilters I probably would have screamed.  Well, at least yelled a little.  Perhaps not stifled my fit of giggles at minimum.  She lay down on her pillow and immediately sensed there was something not right and with it in her hand she leaped through the bunk bed (yes, she really did leap, but then it was dark and I did have the giggles) and came at me furiously whispering.  I think that has to be one of the funniest parts, furiously whispering.  If we were in the common room she would have been yelling at me.  The phase she was so vehemently mouthing was “Where is my pillow?  What did you do?  What is this?”.  Believe me, when someone if furiously whispering at you it really does come out as one phrase.  Don’t worry, her pillow was safely under her bunk, not far at all.  In the morning we carried the bag of popcorn out to the common area to share with everyone.  And there was still plenty when it was time to watch Grease, but we were sure to add the good stuff.

The only thing that I feel remotely bad about is that her pillow case smelled like popcorn for the rest of retreat….and of course she reminded me of that every day.  It was worth it though.  And of course got us thinking about what we could do next time….

I’m a little puzzled by your placement…

At our last retreat Sandra Dee and Hazel attempted some paper piecing to help the guild.  I know what you are asking, how does two monkeys attempting to paper piece help your guild?  Well, I’m so glad you asked!  Our guild sponsored a booth/tree at our local Festival of Trees this holiday season and the Member in Charge asked our guild members to try some paper piecing to make quilted ornaments to decorate this tree.  She even provided patterns and finishing instructions so no one was left to flounder.  Enter Sandra Dee and Hazel, stage right.  At our last retreat these lovely monkeys made their attempts to paper piece.  Now, I should say that Inez and I have attempted to paper piece with Sandra Dee before.  It did not go well.  In fact, at the time we were a member of a 7 woman sit and sew where we were making paper pieced blocks.  Poor Sandra Dee ripped hers out so many times that she had to re-photo copy the paper pattern.  Unfortunately she did not use the same copier so when she completed her blocks they would not work in the body of the quilt as they were slightly larger.  We were able to use them as corner blocks in the border though so it all worked out.

If you are new to paper piecing, you should know that printers and photo copiers print slightly differently from each other. So, if you make copies of your pattern at copier A and then later use copier B to make additional copies they will most likely not match.  So always make extra copies, or be sure to remember which copier or printer you used to make your original set so you have things the same size, or if you purchase pre-printed papers for paper piecing and you are not confident of your technique, you may want to get some extras.  Just for your sanity.

At this point, I am happy to announce we had a visitor to the porch sitting with the Monkeys.  We’ll call her M.  M is an experienced paper piecer.  She is also the proud owner of a Singer Featherweight.  We were very much in awe of both.  M took on the task of teaching Sandra Dee and Hazel how to paper piece these 4″ ornaments (I’m guessing that they were 4″ as I don’t have the pattern in front of me).  Inez and I were thrilled because we’ve dealt with Sandra Dee and the paper piecing before.  Sometimes if you are stuck learning something, it is helpful to have someone different try to explain it.  They may have a different way to explain things to make it easier for you.  Any way, we were thankful for M and kept an open ear for the Monkey shenanigans that were sure to ensue.

Both of them were very excited to be learning something new and that they were learning it together.  M happened to be finishing about 100 of the ornaments single-handedly. She’s a very good paper piecer (of course I exaggerate, it wasn’t 100 but she is a proficient paper piecer.  Isn’t alliteration fun?).  Hazel and Sandra Dee smiled and laughed as they picked out their fabrics and then they noticed that M had a tool.  A special paper piecing ruler.  Now, as quilters we love gadgets.  Sometimes while we are at retreat we feel a need to go shopping and lucky for us there is a quilt shop not terribly far away.  Hazel and Sandra Dee made a trip with some others that were heading to shop and came back with the same special paper piecing ruler.  I am pleased to announce that the ruler is still safe in its packaging.

M tried diligently to teach Hazel and Sandra Dee to paper piece and was very pleasant and calm every step of the way and every time each step needed to be repeated and repeated and repeated…..  At one point, Sandra Dee thought that she was really making progress and proudly showed her ornament to M.  At this point it should be mentioned that the ornaments were all stars.  There were three different patterns for them, but they were stars and as we all know, stars have points.  Sandra Dee’s star however, was missing a point or two.  M, with infinite patience, calmly responded with the line that we would continue to use for the rest of retreat, I’m a little puzzled by your placement.  I wish I had a before picture of her ornament.  Instead I was laughing too hard to reach for my camera.

In case you are wondering, they did manage to finish their ornaments.  Here is Sandra Dee:

And here is Hazel:

Granted these aren’t the completed ornaments, but we tend to celebrate the small victories.  The assembling of the complete ornament was non-eventful and both of them hid their ornament in the basket provided to collect them so that others would not be jealous of their newly learned talent for paper piecing.  However, I don’t think they will be picking up any Judy Niemeyer patterns just yet…..

But save a rose for Mother

We had some exciting happy news just prior to our last retreat that we couldn’t let go unpunished, I mean celebrated.  Hattie graduated with her Associates degree in accounting.  We were all so happy for her as we had helped her with or been the subject of a homework assignment or two.  She really deserved it and it deserved to be celebrated in true monkey style.  With the help of Blanche (who is in charge of meal assignments) we managed to snag the first dinner and to work together as a group which we don’t normally always do.    We very carefully planned a special dinner with lasagnagarlic bread, salad and for dessert a graduation cake.  Again with Blanche’s help we made our meal choices based on her favorites.

  As I said, we were very proud of her.  However, the punishment didn’t stop there.  We managed to get our hands on a cap and gown, Pomp and Circumstance and as at every graduation party, we had gifts.  And in case you were wondering, we did take The Picture that seems to be taken at every graduation party since the beginning of time, the graduate with her cake.

Remember when I said that the Monkeys could get a little racy?  The gifts weren’t all like that, but it made her wonder if they were.  Now, I should also mention that the location of our beloved retreat is at a church campground so there is no alcohol allowed.  Often we have wished for a pitcher of margaritas but unfortunately we would have to go sit outside the gate to enjoy them.  Plus, we are working with rotary cutters and other sharp objects so it really is to our benefit that we don’t have alcohol.  At this function instead of toasting her with champagne we turned to sparkling grape juice.  Everyone was waiting with bated breath in the dining area as we blindfolded Hattie to robe her and pass out our glasses of our mock champagne for our celebration toast to Hattie.  We also made pretty short work of the lasagna and garlic bread and put a pretty good dent in the cake.  However, the cake remains were left out for everyone to snack on during the rest of the weekend but Hattie stood on diligent duty as the sheet cake became smaller and smaller that she had to save a rose for Mother.  Perhaps you remember Mother from earlier with her door and butcher issues.  I suppose with the weekend she was having she deserved some sugary confection.  No matter how we tried to gain more of the frosting, the last rose was dutifully kept for Mother.  I hope she enjoyed the rose.