Sunday, February 28, 2010

Hope - for spring and for my sewing sanity

Even though time passes so fast for me lately, I thought this winter would never end.

It may still be hanging around, but when you see these, springtime can't be too far away.

I'm so glad I didn't toss this project away.
It will never pass inspection by anyone who knows the difference, but I'm quite proud that it's shaped somewhat like a real gown. Of course, the inside looks like two cats have been fighting, but we won't talk about that. There's still the hand work to do, but that's my favorite part and will be fun to do this weekend.

Thanks to those who encouraged me. I learned a lot and think I might get back on that horse and do another one right away before I forget everything.

One funny thing (now, not then) was that I understitched the lining of the yoke just perfectly and was so proud of it. At some point after I had gotten it all together, I looked at the neck and that neat understitching was on the outside. I have no idea how that happened, well some idea, but it didn't make me happy. That's one reason for the fuzziness of the neck. Maybe I'll get that tatting done to put there to disguise it! I have about 3 inches of it done so far. I'm not a fast tatter.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Interesting - Maybe Boring

Several times a week, our company's Nola (can't think of her title) send us emails with things that will make our job easier - web sites for terms and surgical instruments, city and hospital web sites, grammar helps - and since we're expected to have a 99% correct report every time, we appreciate these.

I almost didn't open the semicolon email because I didn't really think I needed to know anything new about a semicolon. I'm glad I didn't miss it.

The choice of sample sentences is a little strange, but I'm sure all of us remember having to make up sentences or helping our children make up interesting sentences using spelling words and punctuation. It was quite entertaining, and I took up some time I was supposed to be working to look at, the web site where this came from.

Some of the language on a few of the subjects is not to my liking, but you can pick and choose which ones you look at. My favorites: How To Tell If Your Cat Is Plotting To Kill You. I scored 89% probability that mine is. I also liked 15-ish Things to Know about Coffee (speaking of goats). And there are more pages I didn't have time for.

A good time-waster, but it looks like fun, and I might learn something. I've already learned that Isaac Newton invented the cat flap door (and I'll be eternally grateful to him) and that a cat's collar bones are not attached to other bones, allowing them to squeeze through small spaces.

Kitty from Littlefield has a hard life.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

So close

Another boring sewing entry - so the men, Debby, and Elise can save themselves the time.

I was seconds away from tossing one of my projects in the trash can earlier today. In fact, I had the scissors in my hand ready to trim away the badness and save what I could of the nice fabric.

I had bought some beautiful soft Swiss flannel a couple of years ago and since I've rediscovered smocking, I thought I would use it for this. Sorry about the lamp light. This is in a back issue of Creative Needle which unfortunately has gone out of business. I really miss that magazine.

It started out so well. It pleated nicely to be so soft (lots of starch), and I got it all cut out. But then the pattern for the smocking didn't go like I wanted it to, but that wasn't the worst. I spent 3 days on the yoke, putting it up and coming back to it and thinking about it and worrying over it. Oh, this fabric ravels terribly too, and that added to my stress.

Once I DID figure out the directions, it was a wonderful revelation, and I thought things would go well. I made my piping and that went on the back okay, but then on the front it all started to fall apart. I can't even explain all the ways I messed up, but that seam ripper was always nearby. I finally decided this morning that there was no way I was going to take a teeny little (raveling) yoke off smocking AND piping - double stitched piping. Thus the decision to throw it away.

But I stepped back and took a deep breath and took it apart anyway, and this time it went together pretty well, although I couldn't find an angle to take a picture where I didn't see a flaw.
I'm giving it a rest for a few days and working on relearning tatting to put around the neck and sleeves - to maybe pull the eye away from the other mistakes. That is, if my tatting works out better than my sewing.
Venting is over now. I thought needlework was supposed to be relaxing and enjoyable. I'm still waiting.

I love going to the blogs of people who know what they're doing, and this is one of them: Sara Norris, Ltd. In addition to the beautiful needlework, she's offering a giveaway for a pleated bonnet that she has already constructed, and you only have to smock it. I do believe I could handle that. No seams and piping and buttons and such! I have to give it a try anyway.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Nice Storm

I knew it was supposed to rain last night, but the thunder and lightening show was a bonus. I woke up to rain pounding on the windows on either side of the bed and settled in to enjoy a nice rain-sleep. And then I heard the thunder in the distance. Even better.

But then the animals got restless. Darby was whining and scratching at the sunroom door and wasn't comforted by my, "It's okay," muttered several times. I felt guilty and let her come into the bedroom. The cats weren't scared but used my being up as an excuse to run to the kitchen and beg for a food bonus. The kitchen was closed though.

It was a pretty fierce storm for awhile, almost to the point of scaring me a few times, but it moved eastward, and now the world smells so good and clean. I was able to work in a flower bed a little bit Saturday, and that soil is just waiting for spring flowers in a few weeks.


My Friday Night Sewing happened but nothing like most of these 100+ ladies. I wish I had time to go to their web sites and see the beautiful things they're creating, mostly quilts, but all kinds of things. I don't have anything to show yet, but I did make progress. I worked on the yoke (piping and gathering) for the blue daygown. It's tiny and the Swiss flannel ravels like crazy, so I have to be sure of something before I stitch, and the concept was a little hard at first. But I have one side done. The rest of the night, I alternated between finishing my book and knitting. Still nothing to show yet but some progress. I also pulled out my heirloom sewing box and sorted the bits and pieces of things I had started and played with in Meridian. Lots of memories. It's funny how caught up in that kind of thing I was when I had people of similar interests, but when we moved to Greensboro and I discovered quilting, I kind of packed all that up and forgot it. One-track mind, I guess.

Debby and I have a Girl's Time planned for the end of the week, so I have to get all my work done by Thursday. I'm looking forward to that.

The For Sale sign in the yard disappeared yesterday. Mama and I thought it was still there when we came home from church but can't be sure. Sometime during the middle of the afternoon, she came in and announced that it was gone. I went out and looked up and down the street, but it's definitely missing. I emailed Cynthia, and she said she would bring over another one some time. No real problem whether it's there or not right now.

Friday, February 19, 2010

A Little Sunshine

Does this not just brighten your day? What a sweetie.

For more pictures of Jacob, go to Lydia's pictures. There are also some neat snow pictures there too.

I'm getting myself all prepared for the Friday Night Sew-In. There are 182 people signed up. The good thing is, if you don't show up, nobody's going to come looking for you. I wish I had to time to go to some of these web sites and see what they're doing. There are a lot of talented people. Maybe some of it will rub off on me.

I went to the Grand Opening! of JoAnn Fabrics yesterday and once more ran into someone I knew. I guess if I ever get lonely, I'll go there and be sure to see someone to talk to. This was Barbara, and she's not even from Montgomery. She was there with her cousin Judy, and we were able to have a long and serious discussion about interfacings and pattern tracing. It's a new shiny store, and they had lots of yarn and crafty things, but it seemed not that much fabric. I'm not sure what the love affair with fleece is, but it seems like half of any fabric store's inventory the last few years is fleece. I mean, this is the south. How much fleece do people actually wear/use? I'll be back again and can look around more. In fact, I still have a handful of half-price coupons that it's a shame to waste, even if they just get used on needles and thread.

The sunshine is nice and cheerful today for a change. Maybe we can start to get hopeful about spring.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Pushy Photographer

As promised, the latest photographs from Senora de la
Wacala (AKA Mike from Littlefield).

His/her own captions.

The manufacture of core spun cotton and spandex for stretch jeans.

Boring caption. I think it should be, "ACG finds that using pretty, brightly colored spinning machines improves production and keeps the workers' spirits up."

Seven a.m. in Lamb County.

I hate to be repetitive, but this is another one that National Geographic would pay good money for.

Texas Hawk.

Looking for prairie dogs...or house cats...or anything good to eat.

Hawk Lunch.

Very mean.


Gaby had asked what kind of quilting was done on the Paper Doll quilt below, and I didn't give a really good answer, but if you look at Sherry's blog and double click on some of the quilts she's done, you'll see a good variety of ways to stitch a quilt. There are swirls and leaf patterns and flowers and feathers and straight lines. There is even one with grapes and another with bumblebees. I don't think there is any limit to the designs you can use with the quilting machines, and she is very creative in making sure the design matches the theme of the quilt top.

Big Mama's First Quilt

Last week, I believe, I posted this picture and mentioned that I was waiting for more information.

This is one block of a quilt called either Paper Doll Quilt or Precious Doll Quilt by Kreations by Karon and was made by Faye Steffy of Littlefield, Texas, (Big Mama) who is 78 years old, and believe it or not, this is her first quilt.

I'm thinking of my first quilt now - bunches of 2-1/2 inch strips painstaking sewn together in a simple pattern

Not for Mrs. Steffy. Nothing so simple as that!

Here are a couple of Mike's co-workers, Kay and Betty, holding her quilt. Betty (on the right) did the quilting you can see around each little outfit.

Although this is her first quilt, you can tell Big Mama is not new to sewing, embroidery, and smocking. In fact, Betty says she sews for the public and is well known for her beautiful handwork. She also makes ceramic dolls.

Here are the individual blocks.

Beautiful. I bet it was a lot of fun to do, and I'm looking forward to meeting the creator of this quilt next time I get to Littlefield.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

We had a "looker."

There's nothing like a call from the realtor saying they're bringing over a potential buyer to make you get busy with that cleaning that's been put off since Christmas. Luckily, I got the warning a day ahead of time instead of an hour before.

This is the first thing to happen.
Everything on all surfaces gets raked into this hiding box to be put into the garage. I obviously had a lot of clutter. So many projects going on and so many things not put back in their places.

This is my reading/sewing chair. Looks almost like it belongs to a normal person.
Before there were pieces of thread dotting every surface, stray pins (I sit down very carefully), CD players and CDs scattered around, and lots of books and magazines.

Mama and I managed to get things looking pretty good, opened the blinds, turned on all the lights, sprayed Pier One Citrus air freshener around - double spray for Darby's sunroom -then grabbed Darby and jumped into the car. By the time I went by the post office (closed) and library (closed but drop box was there for the Dome book), Subway (my lunch), McDonald's (Mama's lunch), and picked up a newspaper, they had come and gone. I probably won't hear back from them, but maybe it's the beginning of a lot of lookers. And maybe a buyer.

I did finish one thing before I packed up.

I followed the colors on the pattern, but next time I will use softer colors to outline. It was so hard to get the needle in and out of that small space that they look already worn.

Darby's car ride made her think exciting things need to be happening every day now. Look at that sunshine! There will be cats lying there before long, I imagine.

Friday, February 12, 2010


You need to pick your seasons.

In normal weather, breaking away from the humans is a joyous occasion - much marking of territory, barking at passersby, sniffing the ground, taunting other fenced dogs, sometimes chasing a cat, more sniffing, more barking, more howling, ignoring your owner. It's all pretty much worth it even if it does make the humans mad.

But somehow it's not the same when there are icicles hanging from your lips and you're wet and miserable, and the cat is sitting in the kitchen window taunting you.

Please. I won't do it again.

Until my next chance....

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Good News for Jacob

This is Jacob last week. He was looking pretty good even then after having suffered an accidental gunshot wound to the abdomen the week before.
This was taken yesterday with his dad. Is this not unbelievable?

Now that he's doing so much better, the doctors say that they didn't really have much hope for his making it and especially not with all his internal organs intact.

The accident happened 2 weeks ago, and today he went home. It truly is a miracle. He had so many people praying for him. There is a Facebook site to keep everyone updated with close to 1400 members.

He's a tough guy.

Debby says he's requesting shrimp scampi, so she's busy making him some. He's been hungry a long time!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

While all my crafty friends are creating beautiful things (just look at the web sites on the right side of the page - Sherry (quilts), Lydia (potholders and pincushions), Martha (daygowns, christening gowns, lots of things), Pat (tote bags and buying fabric!), I'm out of the mood. Well, not out of the mood of thinking about and planning and reading about what I'm going to do, but I'm just hitting roadblocks everywhere. My sewing machine is in the sunroom (which is cold right now) and I don't want to clutter up the dining room when someone might unexpectedly want to look at the house. I keep losing my directions or running out of a color of thread and just generally end up running in circles until my time for sewing is gone. I once had a sewing room and I might once again, but right now, as disorganized as I am, I just end up messing up lots of little spaces and getting nothing accomplished.

Well, I guess that sounded whiny. It's not meant to be. Just my excuse. What I did accomplish just now is starching and ironing and folding various things - 2 daygowns, some quilting fabric, and some flannel and seersucker that I just bought. That was a nice warm activity and nice to make some neat piles of things.

And I started these:

When I was poking around in my cross-stitch drawer and finding socks to smock, I found these little shoes. I made a pair for my daughter-in-law's niece when she was born (she's now 11, I think!), so I decided to do something that doesn't require a sewing machine. It's awful to maneuver that needle into the small space, but it's so rewarding. Once I outline these and put in the ribbon (and do the other one - I HOPE I'll do the other one), they should be cute. I'm not sure if they sell these shoes any more to embroider, but I have patterns for every month - an Easter bunny, pumpkin, Santa face, duck with an umbrella, etc - and would like to do a whole set.

So I'm not totally needle-free.

The last of my two long-time-ago creations I freshened up and ironed to hang in the closet with the other things.

I made the pink one so long ago I don't even remember where I lived when I did it. It's from this pattern:

Just starting out, I didn't do a lot of lace or tucks, and it was before I knew how to do the bullion stitches, so I'm not sure what these little flowers are. My grandmother did little daygowns like this for all our children, and I have some of them in the attic now.

My favorite part is the back. I'm going to have to learn how to make these cute little hangers like Martha. That's funny. I'd better worry about making the things to go on them first.

I think this is the favorite of all the things I've made. It was my first project in the heirloom sewing class, and I fell in love with shadow embroidery. Not so much rolling and whipping lace and putting in entredeaux, but that got easier too. Bias neck bands? Never have learned to love those, and it shows!
So they're all hanging in the closet and waiting for me to get inspired again. It won't be long.

Sleeves are my favorite.

Mad Hatter

I doubt this is what Lewis Carroll had in mind when he created the Mad Hatter.

Jack the Mad Cat.

Emily had a birthday last month with not too much fanfare: The usual cards and gifts and well-wishes from friends and family and a great brunch in Seattle. But she misjudged Karen and Ryan's propensity to celebrate.

When she got home from work one day, this is what greeted her.

The pocket says, "Wear me," in case it's not clear.

So she obliged.

Another friend Stacie and her husband were co-conspirators, and they created an amazing setting. It's hard to take in all the details. Look at all the little teapots and the old Alice in Wonderland prints in frames. And all the butterflies. And the food! I keep thinking I'll see a dormouse pop his head out of one of the teapots.

I told Karen she needs to change her career to party planner/giver. I think she would be in great demand. What sweet friends - and husband too.