We’re Baaaaack – and this time it’s about retreat!

Of course we had a great time and it seemed like we were leaving minutes after we got there because we can never have too much togetherness in the tribe.  Hattie was even volunteering Blanche’s home for a get together this summer.  Blanche didn’t realize that Hattie had emailed about that until we all started talking about dates and descending on Blanche’s house and would we need two cars for this excursion.  Sandra Dee confirmed that she is indeed retiring at the end of this month and there were no huge gags played this time around, which was a total bummer.  However, I did take notes on some of the more humorous things that were said to share with all of you.  I will confess that there was one minor gag that took place and I did NOT get a picture of it.  I will take my 50 lashes with the wet noodle now.  Thank you.

The gag?  Oh yes, allow me to put before you quilter Hattie.  Hattie has developed a habit of putting up curtains around her bed.  I know that is a little difficult to picture so let me see if I can clarify.  We sleep in bunk beds and retreat is usually limited to the number of bottom bunks which is 20.  Hattie likes to take sheets, or perhaps it is real curtains, and create a tent by tucking them under the mattress on the top bunk (or maybe she has something to string them along I’m not sure and I have NO pictures).  At our last retreat, Hattie had some fall/Halloween fabric and created curtains/drapes designated for fall retreats.  Of course there is lots of teasing going on about what she is doing in her “tent” behind her drapes and is she entertaining back there or perhaps holding interviews?  None of us are really sure except for Hattie and she’s not talking.  She just smiles at us.  Hazel has found this particularly funny and has been on the hunt for something to dress up those drapes.  I won’t go into detail in case she finds what she is looking for although I do promise that I will take pictures when that happens.  Since Hazel could not find what she wanted, she settled for a monkey shower curtain and hung it on Hattie’s bunk before the real drape went up.  That’s what I missed getting a picture of.  Hattie did take time to make her spring retreat curtains so now she has two designated sets of curtains for her bunk come spring or fall.  At least that is what I think she was working on down there….

Retreat was also a little funny this time around because since we decided that we needed to have a blog and pseudonyms were much safer to protect the parties involved that we are now thinking of ourselves as our pseudonyms.  It’s like having an alter ego without any altering.  I suppose that would just make them our egos, but egos with a different name.  But I digress….

At this point I will honestly admit that I haven’t looked over my notes or uploaded the pictures from my camera.  However, I do have a couple of the projects I worked on while at retreat and will share them with you for the sake of the blog.

  This is my gnome.  It was given to me by my friend Lisa when we bowled City Tournament this year.  She likes monkeys too so I think she would fit right in with the rest of us.  He came out for a little while to hang out while I worked on the penguins.

  Here is one of the penguins. There are a total of nine.  I haven’t figure out how I would like to set them yet, but I’m sure something will come to me.  You can also see my gnome friend hanging about with the penguins.

  This one was a little bit tricky.  I think I mentioned that a few years ago I had picked up a “quilter’s pocket” that hat 3 total yards. The border was a one yard cut and there were six – 1/3 yard cuts.  Of course the card with it said that it was enough fabric for a small quilt or a table runner.  However, as you can see, there is not a whole lot in terms of lights or background which made it a little more difficult to find a pattern, but find one I did and there is the result.  Ta-da!

  Here is the last project I finished at retreat.  I saw this at a show and bought the kit primarily because of the border fabric.  Anyway, it was all on point and in rows rather than blocks so the assembly took quite a bit longer than I had anticipated.  This quilt is also where I showed my true quilting brilliance and I am happy to share that brilliance with you now.  If you notice there is a red inner border there.  That same red is used for the binding.  Of course in my pre-cutting frenzy I had cut both, one being thinner than the other.  Of course I attached the binding rather than the inner border.  Couldn’t figure out why I had some skinny strips left…go figure.  It works at any rate and that is the way it will stay.

  If you look closely you can see that the outer border is antique toys.  The sock monkey caught my eye and I couldn’t pass it up.  We’ll see how long it takes me to get it quilted.

I promise that I will get the pictures off my camera and ready for your enjoyment.  Until then, these will have to do.

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We’re Baaaaaack…….and a public service announcement

However, before I embark on a play by play from our latest retreat I wanted to share in case the cyberworld can help recover what this fellow quilter has lost.  Yep, I’m talking about stolen quilts.  You can read about and see pictures of the missing items here.

As a quilter I completely understand the heartbreak of having someone steal your quilts.  Those outside our craft are not necessarily keyed in on how we go through our process of finding a pattern, painstakingly choosing our fabrics, and the hours it takes to assemble our fabulous fabric creations.  It’s not always about the money we spend at the quilt shops or for our long-arm quilter.  It’s about the process.  I think for most of us quilters being able to piece and quilt is our way of saving our sanity.  It gives us a creative outlet and a medium for creating art.  It enables us to escape the world or our troubles for a little while and create something beautiful.  Even if it is only beautiful to us.

What makes the doubly disturbing is that when quilts are stolen chances are that those who are doing the taking don’t really know what they have and might use what is a priceless treasure to us as something for their dog to sleep on or left in a car to be sun-bleached or wrap oily car parts in.  What a sad ending for our hard work.

What makes this particular theft even more disturbing than that is that the items were stolen from a quilting teacher who is now also missing her class samples and step outs to use in class for illustration.  Hours and hours of her hard work that will have to be replicated for her to continue teaching us her techniques so that we can also create quilts like the ones she has had taken from her.

Faithful readers, please keep your eyes open for these quilts or any other quilts that you may find at yard sales or flea markets that could match those that have been taken from our fellow quilter.  You can also find more information at this website, dedicated to helping those who have lost quilts get the word  out to others so that their quilt may once again  find its way home.

And now it is time for a short pause.

That is because I need time to pack and get ready for retreat!  Whoo hoo!  Oh yes, that is a whoo hoo.  There will probably be a lot more of them said before Thursday morning gets here.  Emails have been flying frantically as we are all super excited to see each other.  Whoo hoo!  However, I now need to make my final decisions on what projects I am going to take with me.  As I may have mentioned, I am a mood sewer so I am faced with predicting what mood I am going to be in over the four-day retreat.  What that translates to is that I take a couple of hard projects and a couple of easy projects.  And a couple of things that I have worked on at retreat before.  My easy projects are packed, the decisions are made for the hard projects and I think I have figured out what to pick for the other two.  Maybe I’ll look at picking up a couple more just in case it’s an off day.  I’ve even gotten a little smarter about packing.  Now, not only will my projects have their own little storage units so that they can all be kept neat during travel, but I will be taking tonight and tomorrow to get everything cut that I can so that I can really start out by just sitting and sewing.

However, there is one project I would like to take with me but I’m stuck on it as well for what pattern to use.  I think I may have figured out the teal and brown combo…I’ve narrowed it down to 2 patterns: Storm At Sea and Burgoyne Surrounded.  Both are on my dream list and I’ve drafted them up in Quilt Pro with colors so I can see how they would work so now I just ned to make my decision.  I’m looking to make this a king so that it will fit on my bed.  However, I’m going to sleep on that decision for a little longer to make sure I’ve made the right decision.

As far as the other project I’m trying to figure out, I would like to get this one in a full size since that is what size bed my small blonde boy will be in once we bite the bullet and buy the mattress and convert his toddler bed.  Here are those fabrics:

  Cute, aren’t they?  I’ve been thinking about cutting the little robot rectangles apart, but they are not a uniform size so I would need to add a little bit to them to make them uniform squares.  That project is still coming together.  I have drafted up a couple of options but I’m still not exactly sure how this one will come together.  It’s okay though, I’ve still got time.

For one of my difficult projects I’m going to bring the Quilt for a Cure that I’ve mentioned before.  I did take some pictures to share my progress.

  For your reference, here is the complete quilt.  I still love the look of it.

  Here is the floral that I had thought I fussy cut….only I haven’t done that just yet.  Oops…

  Here are some of the diamond units. There are A’s and B’s of these units.  I’m glad that I have that much done.

  This is what it looks like when you sew them together incorrectly.  I still don’t care for pinning but will have to bite the bullet on these units.  There really is no other way to do them.  You can see that my dark blue and light blue points are not matching up very nicely…

  Here is one that I did correctly.  I wish the pile under it were also ones that were done correctly, but they are just more A and B units.  I think there are only 2 that I managed to match up correctly and 3 that I will need to separate in order to fix.  Unfortunately I’ll also have to do a little pressing to make these units crisp to ensure that I have an easier time assembling them.  Hopefully I can get that accomplished before Thursday morning. Whoohoo!

Anyway.  I thought I would share just a little before it was all packed up and ready to go.  I’ll save the rest of my projects until I actually get some work done on them.  Stay tuned – who knows what shenanigans the monkeys will be up to!

Happy Quilting to you and I hope your weather is as lovely as our weather is supposed to be the rest of this week with lots of sunshine and warmth.  See you after retreat!

The second time Sandra Dee did pull one over on us or or How the Monkeys acquired a blow-up doll.

I know, it’s a lengthy title.  It will also be a bit of a photo bomb as well as a lengthy post (since all of the other posts have been so short….(seriously, why is there not a font for sarcasm?)).

Inez was not able to attend this particular retreat and she had been priding herself on having attended all the retreats to this point so we had to give her a horribly bad time about missing this one.  The reason she was going to be gone was that her son was getting married.  It was a good reason but still did not prevent us from commenting that her son really should have been checking to see when retreat is so as to plan his wedding accordingly.  Of course Inez went to the wedding.  And  of course we did not expect her to stay for retreat.  However, we did not expect her to plot with Sandra Dee.  The two of them had been very busy.

Sandra Dee never comes out to retreat early.  She usually gets off early on Friday or comes our right after work on Friday so really only has the whole day Saturday with us.  Sometimes she even brings out her stuff on Thursday so that her stuff is all ready for her when she gets there.  At this infamous retreat she told us she was coming out with her stuff to get set up and then would be back on Friday.  We didn’t think too much about it until she walked in with a giant inflatable monkey!

  Here he is in a state of deflation.  We howled when she came walking into retreat on Thursday afternoon with that.  She also brought out the rest of her stuff and got all set up for Friday.  Little did we know that her fun was just beginning.  When she left she was laughing at us because she had one more surprise in store for us.  When she came back on Friday she came back with this.  That’s right, that is a genuine blow-up doll.  Sandra Dee and Inez found a blow-up doll and dressed her in Inez’s clothing and taped a picture of her face on it as well.  If you thought we howled when we saw Sandra Dee come in with a giant blow-up monkey, it was nothing compared to the uproar we caused when Sandra Dee came in with an Inez blow-up doll.  What Sandra Dee and Inez weren’t expecting was that the rest of the tribe would take it over.  After all, if “Inez” is going to be at retreat shouldn’t she partake in the same things she would as if she were actually there?

 Here she is sewing at a machine.

 Squaring up some blocks at the cutting table.

  Giving some input on a quilt with Ruby and Hattie.

 Taking a nap on the couch with her book.

 Helping to cook dinner.

  In the chow line (with a non-monkey tribe member who was getting caught up in the fun).

 Eating dinner (or rather dessert…).

  Ironing some fabric.

  We even caught her coming out of the shower (mainly because none of us had really seen a blow-up doll up close and we wanted to check it out).

  She was all ready for Grease night with Sandra Dee and Ruby feeding her popcorn.  Normally we do this for her with grapes.  (Still wishing there was a sarcasm font!)

  Finally getting some shut-eye at the end of the day.  Of course we also bombarded her with photos on her cell phone.  I’m not sure who was having a the better time, Blow-Up Inez or the real Inez.  At the end of retreat, Ruby offered to take blow-up Inez back to the office where she was carefully placed in her chair ready to face a Monday at work.  I don’t think that the real Inez was expecting that.  We did have to make sure she was buckled up safely in the car for the trip back to town.

  After all safety first!

We had quite a bit of fun with blow-up Inez.  While Sandra Dee and Inez were plotting on pulling one over on the rest of us, I think in the end we did more with blow-up Inez than they had anticipated.  I shall leave you here with all us doing what we have termed as the “Inez Salute”.  You probably didn’t know that blow-up dolls don’t have hinged elbows or knees, but then maybe you did….

Happy Quilting!

So, today I am stuck.

I did a bit more work in my crafting room the last couple days.  Mainly because I’m still convinced that each project needs better housing than a plastic bag thrown in a tub.  So, I have assorted storage facilities for said projects.  Namely 4 rolling carts, assorted block boxes (you know those flat plastic cases that are about 14″x14″?), and assorted plastic shoe boxes.  While doing some cleaning in other areas of the house I managed to find 4 more plastic shoe boxes (one was missing a lid, but that’s okay) which was perfect for me to house some more UFO’s!  Going through I realized that I didn’t have that many UFO’s left to house.  In fact, after filling the 4 boxes, I found I only had 3 more UFO’s to home.  Two of them are blocks that need some sashing or a setting solution and the last one is a small collection of coordinating fabrics that I will have to flesh out some more.  However, that leads me to being stuck.

Since I was in my crafting room I thought I would put some of my patterns away and whatnot.  While putting those patterns away I found one that would go well with that last small collection of fabrics.  Which, of course got me to thinking.  Hmmm, I have a few other collections of fabric that have no pattern maybe I should find patterns for them!  That would save me some work so that when I decide I want to work on those projects I already will know what needs to be done instead of fondly fondling the fabric and wishing that I had decided on a pattern to use with that fabric.  So, I went to work on another fabric collection that boasted it was enough to do a small quilt or table runner.  I basically amounted to two yards of fabric.  Finally I found a pattern and moved on to the next fabric grouping which leads me to being stuck.

Here are my fabrics:

Aren’t they luscious?  The brown on then end with the spirographs is what I planned for a border.  The light fairy frost next to it is my background.  Well, it will be as soon as I figure out what I’m going to do with them.   Which is why I am now headed off to my quilt design program to see if I can decide what I really want to do.  If you have suggestions, please feel free to share – I know it will take me a little while to make up my mind.

The first time we went to visit Blanche

We were so excited to go visit our friend Blanche!  Hattie, Ruby and I piled in the car and drove to a quilt shop (big surprise there…) where we could shop and meet up with Blanche.   After the quilt shop we headed for our weekend getaway but not before stopping at Russell Stover.

  Here are Ruby, Blanche and Hattie in front of Russell Stover.  We weren’t expecting to see a chocolate store on our way and of course we had to stop.  I won’t detail what all we purchased. That part isn’t really important.  Besides we were saving all of our money for fabric purchases!

Blanche was really prepared for us.  She had gotten a list of quilt shops in driving distance so we could have some serious quilting fun. Unfortunately she wasn’t aware of a little exchange between myself and Ruby.  The short version is that Ruby and I were talking about drinking and I may have said something to the effect that I could drink her under the table.  I’m not sure why the conversation went in that direction, I only know that I am guilty of making the comment.  At Blanche’s house events played themselves out.

We had a wonderful dinner, complete with wine and then some mojitos.   Sometime after we arrived but before we got crazy, we did a little birthday celebrating for Ruby.  At one retreat we talked about pinatas.  It’s not really important why, we tend to talk about a lot of things while we are at retreat.  There’s no rhyme or reason.  Ruby mentioned that she had never had a pinata at any of her birthday parties and after we finished gasping, she called her mother to find out why.  It should be noted that Ruby’s mom is not quite used to us and was not expecting a phone call let alone a phone call with a question about childhood birthdays and the lack of a pinata.  Her response was, “Ruby, we are Irish”.  This made us laugh all the more.  So, being the good friend that I am, I bought Ruby a pinata.  I also brought stuff to fill it.  However after going through the motion of filing the pinata, Ruby decided she couldn’t destroy it so we carefully reopened it and divided up the stuff inside.

  Here is Ruby with her monkey pinata (really, would I have picked anything else?).

After that, things started to get a little dicey.  That’s because Ruby brought up my comment.  Blanche’s husband was happy to oblige by pulling out various bottles for us to imbibe.  Ruby let me choose and I thought the tequila would maybe scare her off, after all we didn’t have any training wheels to go with it (training wheels being the salt and lime).  Unfortunately for the both of us, Ruby was not deterred.  We were each poured a triple shot of tequila, which we drank.  We then did a second.  Blanche joined us for some tequila, but Hattie was much smarter than we were and did not participate.  In fact she went to bed early.

I’m sure you can guess what happens next.  We went back to drinking mojitos and eating coleslaw from the fridge at 2 in the morning.  You didn’t guess that?  Well, you probably did guess that we got pretty drunk and you get credit for that.  Hattie stayed around to watch the show get started and decided that she wasn’t going to drink with us and instead was going to go take a shower.  Ruby got a little worried about Hattie and took my hand to go look for her.  She was still in the shower and I did not get any pictures of us barging in to make sure she was okay.  Once convinced that Hattie was fine, Ruby and I went back downstairs to continue our what-seemed-like-a-good-idea-at-the-time fun.  After a bit, Ruby got a little worried about Hattie (again) as she kinda snuck off to bed and we didn’t realize it so we had to go check on her.  I mean one minute she was there with us while we were singing 80’s hits and the next minute she wasn’t there at all. So, in the middle of the night the three of us stood at the foot of her bed (after turning the lights on) and just watched her sleep.  Creepy right?  Yeah, it kind of was.  Thankfully she didn’t wake up, but it gave us a good laugh especially the next day when we explained to her what we had done.  It wasn’t too long after making sure that Hattie was alright that we decided to go to bed ourselves.  Usually it’s the sober people that mess with the folks that are drinking.  Seems like we had that a bit backwards….

I will confess that I did not sleep well, like I’ve mentioned, we had quite a bit to drink.  I was also up very early thinking that having something to eat would help me feel better so I helped myself to some of Hattie’s homemade banana bread.  However, I couldn’t make myself eat it and proceeded to wander around the downstairs for at least an hour until the next monkey was roused from sleep.   I also took about 3 baths. The fact that I did this still makes Ruby giggle.  None of us was feeling very well that morning, except for Hattie.  It took us a while to get going and we seriously pared down the list of super fun quilt shops that Blanche had researched.  I did manage to snap a picture of Ruby the morning after.  That’s pretty much how I looked too.

It is important to mention that on the way to Blanche’s we passed the most gorgeous sunflower fields.  Such large bright yellow heads bobbing in the sun, such happy color providing photo opportunities.  We had to stop.  Of course we were not feeling well so we aren’t looking our very best and we tried to stay out of the way of the high schooler who was having her senior pictures taken.

  Aren’t they pretty?  If we weren’t feeling so bad we would have appreciated them even more.  There was a whole field of them and they were just beautiful.

 Here we are carefully picking our way through the ditch to get to the sunflowers.  We weren’t the most graceful this morning.  Except for Hattie….

 Here is me, Hattie and Ruby.  I particularly love they way my shorts(?) are starting to ride up.  A very nice look if I do say so myself…

This weekend serves as a perfect example of why drinking and quilting don’t mix.  I felt so bad that I didn’t even take pictures of the various places we visited.  Thankfully we took a second weekend away and were able to enjoy the quilt shops that we only had vague impressions of the first time. We did start feeling better eventually, but Hattie had to do most of the driving since she was the only one we could guarantee was sober when we started out.  By the time we returned to Blanche’s we were doing pretty good but still had an easy dinner and stayed far far away from anything resembling alcohol.

I would like to share a couple more things before I bring this story to a close and I know it’s a lengthy one.  Blanche is one of the most creative quilters I have the privilege to know.  She has also provided some inspiration for my crafting room.  Here is her stash, please disregard Hattie trying to steal her fabric.  She’s just so organized!  Sorted by color and size and uniformly folded to that everything fits so neatly.  Maybe you’ll find some inspiration from Blanche as well.  I would like to report that I do have everything in my stash that is 1/2 yard to fat 1/4 uniformly folded and waiting for my Ikea closet to appear so they can be put away.  Thanks Blanche!  I’ll bet if you are really nice she might share her folding secrets with you too.  Just leave us some comments and I’ll see about talking her into it.

Finally, I would like to leave you with this.  This is Blanche, Ruby, myself, and Hattie posing in Blanche’s tub.  It came with the house and was not a choice that Blanch would make as it was totally unusable since it held more water than the water heater does.  However, we were in awe of it and decided before we left we needed to see if we could all fit comfortably inside.  Surprise!  We could.  Of course even if we couldn’t, we probably still would have crammed ourselves in just for the sake of a picture.

Happy quilting!

Huzzah! Huzzah! The lost has been found!

You’ll have to pardon me, I have a 3-year old who is now into Mike the Knight and we hear Huzzah quite a bit in our home.

I’m so excited that we have finally found the cord for my external hard drive, well DH found it last night.   It had somehow gotten stored with the gaming stuff (for a while we were hard-core gamers and we still have a Wii, Play Station 3, and Xbox 360 connected and ready to go.  Now we’re just sometime gamers.).  DH bought me a Terabyte hard drive a few years ago and when I got the Mac, I moved all the pictures from the Dell to the hard drive so I could use them on the Mac. Granted I haven’t done much with them, but they are there and that is the important thing! Especially since I still have so many stories to tell and can’t properly do that without photographic evidence.

I’m sure the Monkeys are now quaking in fear as I am known for always having my camera at retreat and taking pictures of everything. After all you never know when you are going to need it. So stay tuned! There should be more fun monkey shenanigans coming real soon!