The Monkeys visit a jail.

The monkeys have all been pretty busy this summer but after our trip to Paducah we made some serious plans to have our own retreat.  We all calendared the dates and got our plans together.  This was to be our first foray into our own retreat separate from our guild organization and including just ourselves.  The potential for it to be awesome was very high.

I don’t want to string you along – it went so well that we have calendared 2 more retreats with plans for  a repeat trip to Paducah in 2019.

Everyone was able to make it and we kept our minds open as we were at a new venue and weren’t sure how things were really going to work out.  I don’t mean that to sound negative, however at our pervious location we had a method to our set up and we were used to that space and equipment.  Hattie found a place for us that worked out splendidly.  We stayed in a place called The Slammer and they had never had a group like us before (and I mean that in every sense of the word) and they were interested in how it would work out for us.  They were very accommodating for all our anticipated needs (that we provided through Hattie) and we had the basement all to ourselves.  They even helped us carry our stuff in and out.  Hopefully it will encourage them to have more groups like ours (as long as they don’t interfere with our dates!).

I should set the stage a little bit.  The Slammer is a bed and breakfast that is in an old jail. The front half is where the sheriff lived and the jail is in the back half and there are bedrooms (normal, not the kind with bars) on the second and third floors.  I was a little worried about how it would feel to be staying in a former jail, but it really was okay.

See, I told you there were jail cells.

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There was even a drunk tank.  See how nicely posed we are in the drunk tank with our sock monkey covered bottles of wine?

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I can see you are a little curious about why we have sock monkey covered bottles of wine.  Somehow, some way, we started a tradition where we bring monkey gifts to retreat.  Sometimes they are silly things, other times they are practical usable items.  You really never know.  Hazel brought us all a bottle of wine in those super fun sock monkey covers.  I did mention silly right?  I brought these.  They are supposed to hang on your wine glass.  As you can see his name is Brad and he just kinda hung out wherever.  They were too funny to pass up.

Here’s a little glimpse of how we had things set up.

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I know we are in the basement, but there were enough overhead lights that it really didn’t matter. We were prepared with Ott lights but most of us never really used them.    Seriously, that’s how decent the lighting was.  We had two cutting tables and two ironing boards and maybe the round tables they had there weren’t ideal, but don’t worry we have plans for the next time!

The folks at The Slammer took excellent care of us – if you want to check out pictures of the place (including the bedrooms) you can visit their website here.  There are lots of photos of the bedrooms and the kitchen and such.  Oh, yes, there is a kitchen.  Every morning like magic there was breakfast.  Hot breakfast.  The best part was we didn’t have to cook it or clean up after.  For dinner, we took turns making a meal and it worked out splendidly.

For lunch, we went adventuring.  We hit the local Mexican restaurant (and stumbled on $2.99 margaritas), and the local diner, and the local Chinese place, and a coffee shop, and antique stores, and a boutique, and an auction.  I can hear you asking when we had time to sew, but we really did make time for that.

We also made time for this:

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In our previous retreat place we were not supposed to have alcohol (it was a church camp so completely understandable), however it is nice to have a glass of wine (or two) in the evenings.

It was wonderful that we were all able to be together again.  I really can’t say enough about the time we spend together.  Retreat was amazing and the space was perfect and with a few tweaks we will have it all configured the best way for us.

I’ll leave you with a few pictures of us enjoying ourselves.

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We all had a great time.  Really, the folks at The Slammer were very accommodating and made our first retreat on our own a big success.  If you are looking for a place to have your own scrapbook/quilt/<insert other craft here> retreat, this is a nice place to have it.

 

I did a baaaad thing…

I went to Goodwill.  I probably should mention that Sandra Dee is the Queen of Goodwill.  Well, really the Queen of Thrift Shopping.  She always manages to find the coolest stuff at  thrift stores.  I don’t know how she does it, but she does have a knack.

So, I rarely find anything really cool at Goodwill.  Mostly cool books and stuff for the boys.  Sometimes I find yarn.  I’ve had good luck with canning jars, too.

This time I went to Goodwill and found this:

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Doesn’t it look cool?  Of course I had to take it home.  The price tag was $15.88 and with the cool color and name I wasn’t familiar with made me very curious about it.  I know it now seems like I have a bit of a collection going with the two I brought from my Grandmother’s and the featherweight…  In reality, I have 1 more that I am on the lookout for.  I’ll let you know when I find it.

But back to this lovely green machine.  Once I got her home I found more things that made her interesting.

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I found it interesting that the tension jig is on the back side of the machine.  I’m sure I’ll stumble through threading the first few times.  Also, you can kind of see  the throat plate in the above picture, it flips up for access to the bobbin which I thought was kind of cool as most of the ones I’ve seen slide out.

Here you can see that there is a dial for what type of fabric you are working on.  We are guessing that it affects the pressure the presser foot puts on the fabric and perhaps how the feed dogs operate.

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You probably noticed the spool holder there on the base of the machine.  It should be used for the thread when winding the bobbin.  There is a bobbin winder by the fly wheel that you can see here.

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I was surprised to see that the machine light has a switch to turn it on and off instead of it just automatically coming on when the machine is turned on.  How neat is that?

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Here you can see that is a straight up straight stitch machine.  No cams, no zig zag.  Underneath the stitch length settings you can see a little placard indicating nationally sold and made in Japan.  This was biggest clue about the machine.

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Isn’t it all lovely green and chrome?  Such fun.  I did plug it in and it does work, although it does need clean and oiled and perhaps a little adjusting.  But back to the made in Japan.  I learned probably as much as I’m going to learn about the machine by googling that.  Apparently after WWII Japan made sewing machines and that’s where we got some of the fun colors of machines from that era.  While Remington is on my machine and while Remington did manufacture sewing machines, they did not manufacture them in Japan.  Another article I found indicated that Remington was able to successfully sue to have their name not put on the machines.  Most of the machines manufactured were modeled after the Singer class 15 machine (thus no zig zag) and so a singer manual should suffice to help me with basic maintenance for this model.  The Japanese manufacturers did make their own modifications and they did make solid good quality machines so I don’t feel like I made a bad decision in bringing it home.  Reading about this part of sewing machine history was very interesting, although it has been difficult to find this exact model.  Inez has been trying to help me and agreed that this machine was probably manufactured in the 1950’s with all the fun Japanese history.  The most discouraging thing has been that even though I have the serial number, I can’t look it up to learn anything about the machine.

I suppose I have my very own Green Mystery Machine (yes, that is totally a Scooby Doo reference).  She most certainly needs to be cleaned and oiled and then I will have to decide what I am going to do with her.  I have heard rumors of a gentleman in a nearby area who services vintage machines so I may just have to take a run down there in case I run into something I can’t handle.

Lesson learned today?  Don’t be afraid to stop at the thrift store(s), you never know what you might find!

I know, I’ve been awful.

Have you ever just hit one of those funks?  I hit one around Christmas and didn’t even bother to open my Christmas cards let alone send any out. It was pretty sad and I needed to find something to focus on so I wasn’t just doing the status quo.  That’s when I made a move to start sewing more regularly.  Then it became all about the UFO challenge.  Now I have almost all my laundry caught up (because when is it ever really caught up?  I mean they just run around making more dirty laundry…) and I can feel more of a balance in myself.  I’m glad to see that there is more sunshine and warmth and I think I really needed that.  I hope that the promise of spring is breathing new life for you as well.

Now, about that UFO challenge I was talking about….I have more show and share!  This month was a little more challenging because I had to go off list for one of my projects.

This is one of my many Block Of The Month projects.  Remember when they were so popular every shop had one?  Or maybe even more than one?  This was based on black and white blocks that came with block border instructions.  (I may have talked about this one before)  The blocks were finished and I had a couple that needed to be fixed.  Then I needed to decide on those block borders.  There were some really good ideas and some that were really detailed.  I thought it might be quicker to go with something simpler. These were done with a partial seam technique which means I could cut all my strips the same size and at the same time. I have found that I really don’t mind partial seams.  Y-seams on the other hand….well, I have not developed a taste for those yet.    Anyway, the blocks are completed and I have to wrap my head around how I want to set them.  I have at least one idea kicking around so we will see if I can get back to these or if I will need to let it gel for a little longer.  I’m sure you have projects like that as well.

This one is another Block Of The Month (I told you I had a lot of those!).  I remember when we started this one that there were some coordinating fabrics and I didn’t like them so I didn’t buy any of them.  Of course, this means that I’m on my own for finding fabric to finish off the quilt and after raiding my stash I think I found the perfect stuff.  Don’t you love those fireworks?  I couldn’t tell you how long ago I found it, so I had to have my husband do some serious math to make sure that what I have will work for what I have in mind.  I will have to be very careful in my cutting, but the numbers indicate that things should work out…but it will be very close.  Oh, and the hubster is a math guy so while quilt geometry is not his favorite thing, he is able to help me with the more difficult math.

Here are all the blocks finally finished.  I had to laugh because after talking with Inez about ideas for setting, she went home and while cleaning in her sewing room discovered that she had done the same BOM only she had purchased the coordinating fabric.  I had to laugh because we have both had these sitting around waiting to be finished for quite some time.

This is the one that threw off my list.  I had this as a completed top (go figure – another BOM) and had tried to give it away at least twice.  As it turns out a teacher’s aide at my son’s school started going through some health stuff and as the school colors are blue and gold I volunteered to donate this top for her.  I had been kicking the idea around trying to figure if I had enough time to see it all the way through but when talking to the teacher, I just opened my mouth and volunteered it.  I knew it was the right thing to do, but I hadn’t made a final decision until we were chatting.  There happens to be a lot of open space on it and so I took it in to the teacher and asked for the children to draw pictures for her on the open yellow spaces.  They had a great time and did a great job and hopefully felt that they were doing something positive for their friend.  Of course that meant that I had to hurry up and quilt/bind it so it could be gifted out.  It has been delivered to her and hopefully it is bringing her comfort and joy.

Lastly, I have yet another BOM.  I use that term loosely with this project but it does fit the definition.  Once a month Northcott fabric company had published a small quilt/block pattern in a Flower of the Month series.  I have (of course) purchased all twelve of them but have completed (fully completed) none of them.  I can’t even remember which year this was, but I want to say 2007.  I have January to the point where it needs to be bound and that’s as far as I have gotten.  This one is April and the kits are cut generously enough that I can get the small quilt and a block out of each one.  At least I can for the two that I have gotten to this point.  Northcott also put out a coordinating panel for their Flower of the Month and I picked that up thinking that I could work something with extra flower fabric from the kits but now I am thinking I could surely do something with the panel and the extra block.  I think that will be a UFO for next year though….

And that was my February.  It was a short month, but I did get quite a few things accomplished.  I’ve managed a couple of things for March, but had to go off list again for a school charity and now have a boring thing to do on one of my oldest UFO’s.  I’m hoping that I can get it completed because I would really like to get this UFO off my list.  I did manage to get two more of those Flower of the Month in there as well.  Now we will see how much more I can get accomplished.

Thanks again Vera!  I really am enjoying getting back in touch with some older projects and moving some of them into my pile of Needs-to-be-Quilted.  I suppose I should be watching for some major sales on batting. I’m even more glad to be out of my funk and getting back to normal things (like writing!).  Here’s to hoping that March is productive in every sense.

Oh man!

Oh man!  I am so riding an emotional high!  I really need to thank Vera (Thank you Vera!!). Vera turned me on to that UFO challenge that I mentioned before and I have been so excited to finish things!  It’s so wonderful. So much so that I’ve totally neglected writing because I keep thinking about the projects I’m working on and also trying to clear up my yarn UFO’s in the evenings. It has felt so empowering to get started on this endeavor.

I should probably mention (if I haven’t already) that I managed to fill out 8 of the UFO challenge sheets.  I’ll let that sink in….EIGHT of them.  I’ll tell you that it really seemed daunting that I had so many things to accomplish and such limited time to do my sewing.  But, I decided to start eating the elephant…one bite at a time.  It’s almost become a little addictive being able to mark things off my list (and it’s only February!!).

Here’s what I’ve been up to:

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This was a mystery quilt that I started at a retreat some time ago.  I had blocks to finish and the assemble the top and add the borders.  I was originally going to make this a two color quilt with that funky swirly print and the orange.  However, Hattie stepped in and said you need this turkey red.  (remember that Hattie?  I still have some of the red left and can give it back to you if you want it!)  The funky swirly print my husband had picked out and I was working very hard to make sure I still had enough to use it in the borders.  It was a tight fit, but she is now ready to be quilted and I love her!

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I know this isn’t a very good picture, but that’s okay.  These hilarious little penguins are an Amy Bradley pattern and I have had the blocks complete for ages!  I just could never decide what to do in setting the blocks.  So, I finally made a decision and got the blocks squared and assembled.  I haven’t gotten the borders on yet, but I still have it sitting there waiting for me to get that part done.  Mainly because I couldn’t make up my mind but I do have a plan now and hopefully will find some time to get them on soon.  Honestly, I’m excited to even have it this far!

Even after those two above, January still wasn’t over and I had time to look at another from my list.  This was a kit I purchased quite a number of years ago and after getting it home, I wasn’t sure I was at the needed skill level to complete this pattern and so it sat.  As you can see, it is a lovely broken star pattern and that there are some gorgeous batiks to make this quilt.  I was able to get all the strips cut and put together the strip sets for the large middle star.  However, then the month was over and it was time to move on to the next number.

I still have so much that I want to accomplish yet this month, but I’m not sure I’ll be able to finish everything that I want to, especially since Inez has been helping me with a block of the month and the sashing/setting ended up a little more complicated.

Are you curious about what I’ve gotten done so far this month?  I’ll be happy to share, but first I want to get just a little more done…

 

 

Oh yeah, we are going to get it done this year!

Yes, yes we are and we are going to keep moving forward.

Vera found a UFO challenge and so kindly clued me in. Thanks Vera!!  I am almost all the way finished with my first UFO!  What is it?  Well, it’s the first wedding quilt.  It needed trimming and the binding put on and currently I just need to hand sew the binding and she will be ready to head to her new home. Whew!  I will be so glad to get that headed off.  In fact, that is exactly what I am going to work on tomorrow night.  I’m feeling good about getting things done.  I should mention that the challenge is by All People Quilt and there is a Facebook group where you can join the fun.

I have also been putting on my walking shoes and logging in some steps again.  I’m really happy to notice that while I’m not hitting 10K consistently yet, I have made it a point to walk for 40 minutes and that gets me most of the way there.  The best part is that it’s not a hard habit to fall back into.  When I got off track with getting my steps in I thought I would have a hard time getting back into it but it’s been really easy so instead of starting at trying to manage 5K steps a day, I’m making sure I get 8K steps a day and will bump myself back up to 10K in just a couple of weeks.  So awesome!

I have been spending quite a bit more time with yarn doing some crocheting.  Apparently I have been living under some sort of rock because there are some simply amazing things going on in crochet that I didn’t even realize was possible.  If you are curious, the thing that has me most amazed is called “Mandela Madness”.  If you are a hooker (don’t think dirty thoughts…it simply means you crochet) you should totally google it.  The designer is amazing and has other wonderful things on her site.  (Hattie, I’m totally looking at you!).

Along the lines of yarn, I received an awesome Christmas gift from my husband who already thinks I have too much yarn and got it for me anyway.  What you ask?  A drop spindle (Hattie I’m looking at you again) so I can spin my own yarn.  I know, crazy right?  I’ve played with it a little bit but I think I’m going to need to pay Hattie a visit so I can get a few things figured out.  I did a little bit after watching some you tube videos, but I need to spend a little more time practicing.  There’s always time for learning something new!

 

 

Happy New Year!

I think that we are all thankful to be out from under the Curse of 2016.  Well, at least as we would believe that 2016 was cursed with all of the celebrity deaths right up until the last day of the year.  You did know that William Christopher, who played Fr. Mulcahy on MASH, passed on the last day of the year, right?

It is time once again for new beginnings.  Once again I find that my goals are the same from last year.  I would like to say that this year feels different and that I will succeed on some level with some of them.  I hope to continue to say that next week and next month as well.  That this year feels different.  That success is blowing in the wind.  I hope it is blowing in the wind for you as well.

I have probably mentioned before that New Year’s Day is a big deal in our home.  However, I think it has become a bigger deal to me than to my husband who started this whole thing. Each New Year’s is a carefully planned series of activities so that we fit in everything.  Why you ask?  Because his grandmother had a superstition that whatever you do on the first day of the year is what you will be doing all year and of course there are lots of things that we want to do.  We made soup, cleaned a little, went for a walk, cleaned a little more, did a little laundry, played some games, and of course I had to make my way back here.  I still have plans to spend some time in my craft room and work on a UFO.

My main goal in crafting this year is to complete some UFO’s. I came late to it last year and I’m hoping that by starting out this way, I can perhaps make some more serious headway.  By clearing out some UFO’s I could get rid of some storage in my craft room making it less cluttered and give me more room to breathe.  Of course that also means that there is more room to work on all those projects that have been calling me that I have only dreamed of starting…  First things first though, clear out the old to make way for the new.

I hope your New Year’s is a safe and happy one and that you make a good start on all the goals you have envisioned!

Why perfectionism doesn’t suit me. 

It’s true, as much as I would like it to, perfectionism doesn’t suit me.  I’m far too human and I’m reminded of that when I pull out some of my older UFO’s.

First though, I finally got my troublesome block tamed. At least as much as I am going to be able to tame it.  Here it is, after I attempted to press it into submission.  I still love it, but man it was not cooperating.

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I really wasn’t sure what to do to make it lie flat…I had taken it apart once before and if you are familiar with paper piecing you know that you have limited attempts before the paper falls apart (or you have to use tape to reinforce the stitching lines).  I was hesitant to start tearing it apart again, but I figure this would be the last time that I would tear it apart and that one way or another it was going to work.  So, once again I took the pie pieces apart and pinned the heck out of them.  I almost wondered if I didn’t use enough pins….

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I managed to get the pieces all put together but to my chagrin it still didn’t lie flat.  So, again I tried to press it into submission and finally said forget it and put the outside pieces on, pressed it again and called it a day.  I think that once the paper comes out it may lie better, but for now the block is complete and I am ready to move on to the next one…

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I was actually feeling pretty good about getting this to the end stage that I thought I would choose another UFO to tackle.  I’m procrastinating a bit on the two wedding quilts I have yet to complete.  Although I do have one of the completed ones on the long arm ready to be quilted this week.  Yea!

As I looked through my UFO’s (after all I have a lot to choose from!) I came across this one which I thought would be easy.  I thought that I had more blocks to complete and that would be an easy thing to do.  Once I got it out I discovered that the blocks were all completed and I have to decide on a setting for them.  The fun thing about these blocks is that each block came with block border suggestions.  Apparently when I first put things together I was game for the first two to try the suggestions.

This was the first one.  It was a block of the month at a local quilt shop that was done in black and white fabrics. Of the two that I completed, this is the one that I like best.

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This is the second one.

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It’s a little busy and I don’t really care for it.  Then I took a look at the rest of the suggestions and I realized that none of them would be terribly easy.  The bad thing is that there are no measurements or instructions for the borders so they would each have to be drafted and I just wasn’t feeling up to the task.  Instead, I thought it might make more sense to choose one border treatment and use it on each of the blocks.  I went with the first one.  I looks simple, but if you look closer you can see that it also uses partial seams which I will have to go with to keep things uniform.  It won’t be too difficult to do.  I just need to get those fun little pinwheels taken off and get the blocks measured and trimmed.  I think there will be a couple that will need a little work…they look a bit on the wonky side.  Don’t worry, the pinwheels will surely find their way into a doll quilt or something.

Then I am entertaining the thought of putting a little black in between the blocks (after the border).  But I think I’m getting ahead of myself.  There are a lot of things to do first.  I can tell that as I get ready to square up these blocks that some of the points are going to disappear.

I briefly entertained the thought of taking apart better than half of the blocks and then I came to my senses.  Of course it isn’t perfect.  I started this quilt years ago – at least 10.  I’ve learned some things since then.  My technique has improved quite a bit since then.  To take it apart at this point seems somehow wrong.  Looking at it I am reminded that I am human and imperfect.  That’s not a bad thing.  It helps me to remember that everyone makes mistakes and it also helps to drive me forward and improve as I go.  My goal is not to be perfect.  That goal is far too lofty and stressful.  I am much more content to keep my sights lower by trying harder and learning new things.  That is much less stressful and far more manageable.