Happy New Year! (Yes, I know this is 11 months late…)

Here is a post I had been working on prior to the arrival of our smallest blonde.  See how far behind I am?

Have you all made your New Year’s Resolutions?  I haven’t.  I never seem to stick to them.  I do have Goals though.  That just makes it seem like there’s more flexibility than there is in a Resolution.  I’m sure I’ll have the same Goals next year too.  Get the house cleaner and more organized, lose some weight, spend more time crafting, probably some of the same ones you have yourself.

I did do some work in my craft room on New Year’s Day.  Actually, I had convinced my husband that I had finally saved enough money to get the Ikea closet I’ve been dreaming of.  So, a couple of days after Christmas we took a road trip to Ikea and purchased everything I needed to make my dream quilting storage come true.  That means that there are now boxes lying around with their contents waiting to be assembled.  I’m also not very patient.  I also know that in order to get these wardrobe frames in the closet there is a significant amount of work to be done to said closet before they can be assembled and quite frankly I do not want to wait that long! What needs to be done?  Well, part of the drywall needs to come down and the doorway reframed and the inside of the closet needs to be taped and mudded and primed and painted (probably just white since you won’t see it for the two humongous wardrobe frames in there).  Which of course caused us to rethink the doors for the closet as it doesn’t seem that the normal bi-fold doors will be suitable.  It appears that we will just set the units inside and frame around them and pick up doors from Ikea at a later date.  Easy solution.

Not so easy solution was how was I going to get some of this unit assembled so I could start using it?  After all, the closet is full of tubs full of fabric so working on all that would be difficult at best and there really isn’t anywhere in the room to put the tubs temporarily so that work can begin.  I decided that if we moved my yarn we could set up one of the units and I could get the fabric that is in the closet put away so that it wouldn’t be so full of tubs.  So that is exactly what we did.  The results were so good that all my fabric fit in the one unit!  There’s not a whole lot of room for expansion, but everything is in there from my stash.  Seeing it all like that makes me feel like my stash is small….  Of course my husband said good thing you bought two because now you can store some of your other stuff in the second one once we get them installed.  He’s right, and I’m hoping that I can get some of those projects done so that there will be room for more fabric.  I mean, you can always use more fabric right? I even put away the bags of fabric I had sitting around waiting until the next time I convinced my husband to take all my tubs out so I could put things away.  I’m sure you are probably wondering how many storage tubs I cleared out.  The answer is 14.  Keep in mind that they weren’t all completely full.  Everything had been sorted by color or specialty (like my Civil War Reproductions, Batiks,  and Asian fabrics).  When I began thinking this project through I also went through my fabric and uniformly folded all of the fat quarter and 1/2 yards so they were the same size and we had estimated that two tubs would equal one drawer (not full tubs, just the area that fills the bottom with the uniformly folded fabrics).  However, the drawers held just a bit more.  Plus the shelves are deep enough that I could have my larger yardage not folded up a bunch and they can lay nicely with the selvage edges in the back so I can see the fabrics better on the folds.  Here’s a picture of what I mean.

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See?  Isn’t that cool?  I was pretty impressed.  Of course now I want the closet done so I can get the other unit assembled and put even more stuff away.  Although now I have gotten to thinking about my yarn stash.  Whenever I start an afghan I pick colors to match whoever will be gifted.  That means that I have lots of leftovers and yarns that I have been gifted/inherited.  I’m thinking that my first stop will be to start doing some projects where I can use up that yarn and get it out of my stash.  Not sure what all I’ll make with it, but you have to start somewhere.  Plus that is something I can work on while lounging on the couch in the evening.  At least that is where my mind is taking me at this time.

Since having written this, I discovered a new book while at Joann‘s.  It is titled Crochet One Skein Wonders.  You can see more about it here.  There are a lot of scarves in there, but it also breaks things down by the type of yarn so you aren’t looking at delicate projects for your bulky stuff.  Anyway, I thought it was pretty cool and think it will help me burn through my left overs and actually make something useful.

Of course now I don’t have much time to lounge on the couch, let alone much time to spend in my sewing room.  I’m hopeful that will change soon though, that the mai tei wrap I ordered will arrive and  allow me to wear the smallest blonde so I can continue to work and still spend quality time with the smallest blonde.  That would at least help me to stay on track.  I’m certainly not giving up on it.

I would like to add that I was really optimistic when I wrote all this – I haven’t really had much time to sew at all.  I made 19 Transformers pillowcases for small blonde’s birthday party and that was a stretch.  I remain optimistic though.  Small blonde goes to school 3 days a week and smallest blonde is becoming more independent so I just might be able to start sneaking in some quality time with my machine.  It certainly let me know how much it missed me while we were at this year’s fall retreat.  Wish me luck that this best laid plan doesn’t go awry.  At least this time.

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Still on the hunt.

Quite a while ago I started a project.  Honestly I started quite a few projects, but there is one project in particular I would like to finish but I can’t.  I ran out of the fabric.  I probably only need a fat quarter or 1/2 yard to finish the blocks I need for this quilt, but I have been looking for a few years and I’m beginning to lose hope of finding it.  Periodically I google for it or search online quilt shops in the hope that I will find someone who is clearing out their back room and they had a bit more on the bolt.  So far no luck and to me it is pretty sad.

Here is a picture of the quilt I am trying to finish.

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Pretty cool isn’t it?  The centers of the blocks are from a woven panel I had picked up at at quilt show and held back for a while.  The panel is Japanese in origin and there is a folk tale about the rabbit.  You can find more about that here.  I really love the Asian fabrics and when I came across this panel I had to have it.  I did walk away and come back to it and thankfully it was still there.  Whew!  Of course it sat for a while waiting for inspiration to strike when I came across one of Inez’s books about two block quilts.  Actually it is called Pairing Up and you can find it for a really reasonable price here.

I very carefully cut out the rabbits and the 4 Japanese word squares. Then I was fortunate to be talking about them and Blanche knew of someone who could translate them for me because I had a hard time trying to google them.  Turns out they are the 4 seasons so I thought they would be perfect in the four corners of the quilt.  However, while making some serious progress on the blocks, the unthinkable happened.  I ran out of one of my fabrics.  Everything came to a screeching halt and has until this day.  To give you perspective, I was getting all of this progress done at a retreat in 2008.  To this day I have not found a match to this fabric and while preparing for our latest retreat I had pulled the project out and then was brutally reminded that I could not do any further work on it.  I probably only need a fat quarter or a half yard to complete the blocks (a half yard is being very generous).

I know you are wondering what fabric is it?  I might have that in my stash somewhere.  Well, here it is and I hope you do have it in your stash and that you would be willing to sell it to me.  I believe that it is a Hoffman, but I can’t even find the selvedge anymore to know for sure.

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I found another website called Find My Fabric and thought I would give it a try.  You can even upload pictures to help you search.  I unfortunately did not have any luck with my search and I have been hoping for a reprint of the pattern but so far no luck for me. I did find some cool patterns though and some other gorgeous fabric, but I refrained since I really need to find this so I can get this project complete.

I was doing pretty good for a  while about getting some of my ufo’s finished and I would love to be able to get back to that.  I would love to be able to finish up this project as it should be fairly quick to finish once I get the blocks pressed and get my bearings.

So, if you happen to be going through our stash and see this fabric and you have no plans to use it, leave me a comment and I would be happy to take it off your hands.

Don’t worry, I’ll be getting to the most recent retreat shenanigans soon.  This was a project that I was going to take to retreat with me, but instead I sat in my comfy chair, fondled the blocks, and lamented that I still couldn’t finish it.  I was hoping that I had enough scrap to piece together to make it work, but that just didn’t seem to be in the cards either.

The third time we went to visit Blanche

We did manage one more group visit to Blanche’s home.  This time we convinced Vera to join us!  We also had a running gag through our email about being able to read each other’s thoughts.  After all we were spending a bit of time together and emailing.  So unbeknownst to Blanche, Ruby and I decided that what we needed were aluminum foil hats to block our brain waves so Blanche wouldn’t know what we were plotting.  Hattie and Vera were a bit surprised when the aluminum foil came out as we were in the car and heading to our favorite quilt shop meeting place.  Hattie was completely game.  Vera took a little convincing.  I’m sure you can picture this – three monkeys in a car wearing aluminum foil hats speeding down a highway and one monkey with her hands over her face so as not to be associated with the other three.  Although that is rather difficult since we are all in an enclosed space.  We did get lots of stares and some honks as we made our way down the highway.  Eventually Vera caved and the rest of us cheered that she was going to join us in our foil frivolity.

We managed to arrive at the quilt shop before Blanche and took turns on look out so we would know when Blanche arrived.  When she got there we disappeared into the sale room to see if she could find us.  I’m sure she could hear the giggling, but I’m not sure that the shocked looks of the store clerks were registering for her.  I’m sure we just provided more stories for their customers and they probably wonder where we have been.

One of the most exciting things about this trip was the opening of a new yarn shop next door.  I love to crochet.  Hattie loves to crochet and knit.  Of course we did wear our aluminum hats when we went over there to check it out.  When we walked in the door, we were greeted by a gentleman who said, “I was hoping you would come over here.  I wanted to ask you why you were wearing tinfoil hats.”  Much hilarity ensued during the explanation and Hattie and I enjoyed ourselves shopping in a new yarn shop.  I got my first set of knitting needles and some self patterning yarn.  Of course I have yet to do anything with it.

I am sorry to report that we did not get any pictures in the car of us in our foil hats.  Sorry to disappoint.

From there we went on to Blanche’s house and this time she had some plans for us.  Of course we did some shopping while we were there because we now have some favorite places to go.  One such place is an Amish grocery store where we stock up on bulk spices and the like.  Vera was partial to the noodles.  Ruby also had a little surprise in store for us in the form of flamingo headbands!  We wore them while out shopping.

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Don’t ask about the leis. I’m not really sure how that came to be.  I can tell you that Ruby and I had gone to a rather large quilt show that attracts lots of folks.  In order for us to more easily find each other should we be separated, Ruby came up with the idea of the flamingo headbands.  I swear she could have brought a box of them and sold them at $5 each.  We would have shopped well on the proceeds from that!

Anyway!  Blanche had been doing some work with fabric dyeing and wanted to teach us how to do some ourselves.  We had a good time trying it!  Here’s some pictures of us and our handiwork.

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As always our time at Blanche’s was far too short, but we did have a good time.  No alcohol this time, at least for me as I was pregnant with the first small blonde boy.  Our ride home was uneventful compared to our ride down, but I suppose that was for the best.

The more time we seem to spend together, the more firmly entrenched with each other we become.  We have made our own little family with each other.  I believe that we are getting close to 10 years now.  I’m sure the others will correct me if I’m wrong.

I know you are probably itching to hear more from our most recent retreat.  I promise I will get to that soon.

Until next time, Happy Quilting!

 

The Monkeys decide to give back.

I know, I have a lot of catching up to do. I totally missed blogging about the last retreat (not to mention the times in between) and now we are just getting back from our fall retreat. First thing I want to share though is something that happened at the retreat that we just returned from.

We decided to do a charity project. I know! I’m actually kind of excited about that. We all sat around talking (I know, big surprise there) and we got around to food pantries and the like (don’t ask me how we got there, I couldn’t explain it if I tried). Ultimately we decided to do a pillowcase project. We even volunteered our very own Sandra Dee to solicit businesses for pillows to go into the pillowcases.  She is really good at that kind of thing.  The big pull is that we are keeping everything local by giving back to the food pantries at our churches. The pattern we are using is a simple one – the hot dog pillowcase. They have good pictorial instructions here.  If you find their instructions confusing google “hot dog pillowcase” and you will get a whole bunch of results to peruse.  We do modify ours a tad…instead of 1/3 yard for band we use 1/4 yard.  This way when you purchase 1 yard of fabric you have enough for the body and a band.  Also, we tend to sew the band on before squaring up – we do that after completing the hot dog part.  Or at least I do.  They really are very simple to do.

However, it gets even better.  We are talking about doing this at our next retreat and including everyone.  I know, you are wondering aren’t we the only ones at the retreat?  Not by a long shot.  We aren’t looking to take up a whole day, just a few hours between lunch and  dinner on one of the days for anyone who wants to participate.  There are 3 of us that have sergers where we can serge the edges rather than doing the french seam.  Exciting isn’t it?  So now I need to go through my fabric and see what I have that can be used for the project.  Thus far I only have enough to do bands, but that’s okay.  Every little bit helps.  As we talked about this, our retreat coordinator came to talk to us some more and that is how the discussion opened up to include everyone in the building as well as having a designated time where we could all come together to get them done.  A goal of 100 pillowcases was talked about, as to whether or not that would be reasonable but I have a feeling that some may even want to do some ahead of time and bring some finished ones with them to the next retreat.  After all, we have a bit of time between then and now.

As we talked about the details of the project we decided that it would be prudent to purchase more than just children’s fabric.  After all, there may be some adults that are in need as well and they may not be so excited to have a My Little Pony pillowcase.  We are figuring that we will have a mixture of cottons and flannels to work with.

I would love to put in a pitch here that if you want to donate any fabric or pillows to leave me a comment and I will let you know where you can send them.  However, I am not going to do that.  Instead I am going to suggest that if you really like what we’re doing perhaps your local church or food pantry could use some pillow cases themselves.  Rather than sending money or fabric to our community, why not do the same thing in yours?  Sometimes one person can make a world of difference.  Ask around, you may have a friend who does some volunteering at the food pantry.  They may be able to give you some insight about your local food pantry.  Remember, even though they are a food pantry things like personal care items such as soap, toothpaste and toothbrushes are appreciated too.  If you are not a sewer, maybe on your next trip to the grocery store you could grab an extra can of beans or bar of soap for donation.