Wednesday, March 31, 2010

need a hot pad?

I made a trip last week to the quilt show in Lancaster, PA. En route, I decided to see how many quilt/fabric shops I could find and browse. I made myself a plan, and stopped at nearly every one on my list of about twenty. Most of them were variations on a theme -- rows and rows of bolts of fabric all neatly ordered by color, by designer, or by category. All but one.

The first thing you notice when you pass through the front door of this particular shop is a big wooden staircase right smack in the middle of the store. Of course, this makes a person want to head right up those stairs to see what's on the second floor. And there was a message to be read on each and every riser going up. But before I could get that far, I first had to pass by the person running the shop (the owner, maybe?) who was seated at a small table, feverishly working on making something. The next thing I realized is that the huge pile -- and by that I mean a heap about 10 feet wide, 5 feet deep and about as high as I am tall -- between me and the stairway was actually hot pads. In every imaginable color and fabric pattern. There had to be hundreds of them there! Maybe thousands.

I worked my way around this place, amidst frighteningly tall stacks of fabric on bolts, wondering who was the sorry soul that might have to do inventory at the end of the year. Eventually, I found myself back face to face with the person working at the little table. Trying to make a little conversation, I asked if she had been over to see the quilt show a few miles away. Her reply was that she was too busy working. Guess what she was doing?!? Making more hot pads! Oh, my!

I tell you what ... if you're ever in need of a hot pad, tell me and I'll head you in the right direction. If you've ever been to this particular shop, you'll know exactly what I mean. It's unforgettable.

Oh, yeah ... they had lots of quilts for sale, too.

(photo taken and sent to me by someone I know who happened upon this shop, too -- thanks, Penny)

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

duh ...

In the last post, I referred to the recycled grain bag totes, intending to put a link to the correct day's post to see what I was talking about. Then I promptly forgot to put the link in there. Sorry 'bout that. If you want to find it, go to the post for January 31st -- it's in there.


Guess I'd better get them moved to a position under the lights, before they tip completely over. I planted these seeds three days ago; this morning they were barely visible above the soil line, and by this afternoon when I looked again ... whoa, baby! Is this the plant version of a stampede?

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Superwoman was here today ...

This gal called me a few days ago and said she'd like to schedule a day in the studio to use one of our machines to finish up a quilt she needs to get done real soon. Okay, so we set the date for Sunday (today), chatted a while to catch up with each other's lives because it's been a few months since we've talked. Right before she hung up, she said, "Oh, yeah ... I have to tell you ... I just bought the fabric yesterday."

What?!? I asked if I should put her appointed time on the calendar in pencil, then? Nope ... she was pretty sure she'd get it done in time. Okay, then ...

I didn't get a call to reschedule, so thought she probably slapped a few squares and rectangles together in order to get a quilt put together in time. Well ... look at this quilt she did!

(click on photo to enlarge)

Note especially how she fancied up the borders by creating the extension of the beige into the red, and the how the red spills in to make the corners more decorative. Impressive, no?

Today, she did the quilting, using an all-over swirly sort of design that was a good choice because it doesn't overwhelm the piecing, but adds just the right touch. You can't see it in this photo, because I forgot to snap a close-up -- but she used a warm brown thread. Perfect!

If this is intended to be a gift, I don't know how she'll part with it.

Of course, I had to tell her about the recycled grain bag shopping totes some of us are making. Don't forget, if you e-me a photo of yours when you get it done, your name goes in a drawing for a free day in the studio. If you don't know how to use the machines, I'll show you -- it's easy and fun! If you DO know how to use it already, you can use the free day to finish a top into a quilt. The deadline to send my the photo of your finished bag is March 31. Winner of the drawing will be notified April 1. If you have no clue what I'm talking about, go here.

P.S. -- you can see what kind of gorgeous day we were having here by looking over her shoulder at the beautiful blue sky.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

My entourage

My entourage, in part:

Lazy --

and Lazier. They're siblings.

We keep them for the amusement of the grandkids. They are totally useless for catching mice. In fact, there was a mouse in one of the grain barrels one morning. I threw Lazier into the barrel, thinking he'd catch it and consider it a special treat. That cat was afraid of the mouse! He couldn't get out of the barrel fast enough.

The one in the first picture is the kind of cat who wants to be underfoot at all times. He follows me and Tuck down the road when we head out for a walk. He never gets past the first quarter-mile stretch. No, not because he's lazy. That's where we have to pass a house that three dogs call home. They bark like fools every single time we go by. You'd think they'd get used to it after a while, but they don't seem to. The small, yappy one is a total idiot of a dog. There's one of those electric fences around the yard, and every (and I mean EVERY) time we pass by, it runs thru the fence to yap at my heels, gets shocked by the fence, and screeches -- shaking it's head as if that came as a total surprise. Good grief! This has been going on for years.

I have a friend who suggests I feed him a hamburger as I go by ... one laced with sleeping pills. As tempting as that may be when it's snapping at my heels, I'm an animal lover and could never do it.

Friday, March 19, 2010


Short tour:

These would be up and coming tulips.

and Snowdrops that escaped the attention of the geese:

(I have to move them around frequently so the geese don't find and devour them all)

Spellbinding, no?

One day this week, I had company visiting. DH brought the mail in when he arrived home from work, tossed it on the table. Company or no company, when mail arrives, I must know if I got anything worth looking at. DH asked the usual question, "Anything good?" To which I replied, "A new seed catalog." He turned to my friend and said, "After you leave, she will look at that thing for an HOUR. And she'll take it to bed tonight and look at it some more before she goes to sleep. She can read the same page for 40 minutes!"

Response from guest who shall remain anonymous until I've decided whether or not she'll be forgiven: "Riveting!" (And then they both howled with laughter.) Hmmphf! See if she gets any fresh tomatoes from MY garden this summer!

And all this brought back to mind another, similar incident. I once overheard DH telling one of his buddies that "She read a whole BOOK about sweet peas! And get this: her SISTER read it first and then GAVE it to her." The buddy's response: "No WAY!" as if they were in disbelief there could be two people in the world who'd read a whole book about sweet peas. As for him ... maybe he'll have fresh berries for dinner next time he comes. Nanny-berries. (I'm not referring to Viburnum Lentago here.)

Point is, either you've got it or you don't. The gardening gene. Apparently it's a sex-linked trait, dominant in my family. My sister has a whole greenhouse, and propagates new plants just because she can. Then she finds someone to give them to so she has space to do some more. I actually think my gardening gene might have lain dormant had it not been for her. My brother, on the other hand, once saw my Autumn Joy sedum growing at the edge of a bed and asked, "What's this? Broccoli?"

When I was still a student, my sister used to take me on "tours" of her back yard so I could see all her gardening handiwork. At that point in my life, it wasn't exactly spellbinding for me either ... but interesting enough that I tucked away some of her helpful hints for future reference. Once I was married with children, gardening became an obsession. One thing led to another, and now look where it has landed me!

I convinced my husband that the garden was much too small ... that we needed a place with more space for gardening. The animals came to fulfill the need for more compost! Crazy? Maybe. But I wouldn't trade it for anything. It suits me, and gives my husband something to laugh about with his friends.

Oh ... about my friend? ... I've decided to forgive her. I just remembered something. She recently gave me a gift just so to have an excuse to present it in this bag she couldn't resist buying, thinking it perfect for me:

Isn't that too funny?

Okay ... I'm off to see if there's a spot where I can plant some peas. Yesterday, it was too wet. Do you think a day of sunshine is enough to dry things up a bit? If nothing else, gardeners are optimists.

The Gardener's Morning
The robin's song at daybreak
Is a clarion call to me.
Get up and get out in the garden,
For the morning hours flee.

I cannot resist the summons,
What earnest gardener could?
For the golden hours of morning
Get into the gardener's blood.

The magic spell is upon me,
I'm glad that I did not wait;
For life's at its best in the morning,
As you pass through the garden gate.

- Howard Dolf

Tuesday, March 16, 2010


I feel like the grandma in that stupid Christmas song, "Grandma got run over by a reindeer ..."

I went to the barn this morning, per usual, and also per usual, went about the business of feeding the critters anxiously awaiting breakfast. As I entered the last pen of sheep, imagine my shock when one of the ewes bolted right at my chest, knocking me kler-plewie ... flat on my back. Whoa! What was THAT for?!?!

(oh, yeah ... yesterday some of the lambs were taken from their moms -- and hers were among them ... mind you, I was not the one who took the young'uns, but she IS a sheep, after all, and they're not exactly known for their smarts)

Well, due to the complete unexpected nature of the event, I yelled something ... which started a chain of events which I (surprisingly enough, but thankfullly) lived to regret. My yelling upset my constant companion and protector Tuck (my Border Collie). He came dashing into the pen to come to my aid, but instead got the sheep all in a lather. They ALL started jumping around and hurling themselves at anything they could find (me, always me). No kidding -- they took turns flailing about, jumping on my head, my legs, my body, back to the head. All the while, I could not manage to get to my feet for all the flying wool-covered appendages battering me head to toe. Literally!

I finally realized that if they were ever to calm down, I'd have to convince the dog I would do okay without his help. Right. He thinks he has to help me with everything. But he followed my command to "get OUT of here" and I was able to stumble to my feet.

Stunned. Totally stunned. I'd never been the victim of a stampede before. I'm a little sore today. When I related this sad tale to my DH, he couldn't even manage to contain his hilarity long enough for me to turn my back. Tsk!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Mud? What mud?

(I'm refusing to see it.)

Everything here is green. See?

Green things poking up thru the ground.

Green thread on red and green quilts.

A few green blocks among the kitty-cats.
(click on the photo to enlarge and see the paw prints)

... and a few green triangles on this one.
I really just added this one because it's finished.
(see the flowers quilted on it? I love flowers. And green stuff.)

We found yet another new lamb in the sheep pen today. This HAS to be the last one for the year! Maybe I'll get his photo tomorrow. In the meantime, we'll not talk about the truck stuck up to its hubcaps in the stuff I am not seeing here today. I won't allow it.

Friday, March 12, 2010

A New Voice ...

It always amazes me how, in spite of the cacaphony in the barn at chore time, a tiny little voice can be heard above all others. The heifers are bellowing until I think I'll go deaf from it, the 40-plus sheep are all blatting "mee-eee-ee first! me-eee-ee first!" at the same time when they hear me coming with grain, and yet ... what's that? The sound of a new lamb's cry out back? Maybe it's a Mommy thing one never gets over, no matter how long your own little ones have been gone from the nest ... or maybe I have superhuman hearing ... who knows? But sure enough, look who I found at the end of that little baaa-aaa-aa ...

I think I'll call her Abundance.

Lambs have an uncanny ability to get into trouble, from day one. For lack of anything more creative at that age, they'll crawl through the slats in a hay feeder and get themselves stuck in there. That's where this little gal was, and her Mom was grateful when I came to the rescue.

And before I forget, meet Tiny:

He's two days old now, and got his name because compared to Rudie, he's minuscule. Granted, she's one honkin' big calf; but even Kelly LaVoleuse is way bigger. (Kelly suggested I name THAT calf after her because it was born on her birthday; the last name is French for 'The Thief' -- I caught her suckling from Tiny's mom before he was even born -- thieving milk from the wrong mom.)

Not much progress in the knitting department, I'm afraid. Here's all I've got done so far:

(The red fabric background only because it never got put away from making quilt blocks.)

Yesterday the quilt guild I belong to celebrated National Quilting Day (a few days early) by making quilts to donate to raise funds for local animal shelters. Members brought blocks ready to assemble. We had enough to make four large quilts, and got a lot accomplished. When they're ready, I'll be quilting them in the studio. Many of us also made little quilts to donate to Quilts 4 Kids -- they're so cute it's hard to part with them. But part with them we will. Quilt guild day is one I look forward to every month. The best part: Show and Tell! -- always inspiring. I come home with my head full of ideas of what I'd like to do next. As IF!

Speaking of doing next, I'd better get to work on my To Do list. It's Friday, already. Ugh.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Frittering Day

I've done very little productive so far today ... been just sort of frittering the time away, doing a little of this, a little of that. I thought I'd clean out a bookcase in my office, but stumbled upon an album of antique post cards I'd forgotten I put there. I don't know whether it belonged to my grandmother or HER mother -- the cards seem to be mostly addressed to one or the other of them. Maybe GGM Lucy started it and then it was passed along to GM Jessie ... just not sure. None of my grandparents were alive by the time I was born, so I never got to know them. But there are some pretty cards and I enjoyed looking at them again.

For those of you familiar with the area, here's one sent from Sayre, PA in 1908:
(click on photo to enlarge it)

The caption at the top reads, "Lehigh Valley Railroad and Yard, Sayre, PA." I found this one particularly intriguing for this reason -- I have a recurring dream of a place and time long ago. In the dream, I am very young -- in fact, in my father's arms. And he is dashing across what seems to me to be an endless sea of railroad tracks, with trains coming and going. Every time I have that dream, I wake up all nervous. I've always wondered where that place could be, if it in fact is a real place and not just stuff of my dreams. Could this be the answer? I think maybe it is! My parents lived in this county when I was an infant, and moved away before I was two. We often returned to visit family in the area when I was a child at home. My own family moved here after we had all our children -- my parents laughingly called me a homing pigeon.

Many Happy Returns Of The (Frittering) Day!

(another from 1908)

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Ladybug, Ladybug, fly away home!

These last few days of unseasonable warmth have brought out the ladybugs. Out of hiding in the cracks of walls, that is. Every time I go into the bathroom, there are about a dozen more of them that seem to have come from nowhere. When I find one that is alive, I give it a ride to the nearest plant I can find in hopes of rescuing it from death. Yeah, I know ... but I'm a firm believer in the thought that SPIDERS are our friends, so what do you expect me to do -- squash a ladybug?!? Ugh.

Speaking of ladybugs ... look at this happy little quilt I got to play with yesterday. Why do I love this little thing? Is it because of the happy colors (and ladybugs) on the front? because the dragonfly pattern I used to quilt it is just so stinkin' cute? or the fact that it's green on the back? Probably all of the above. (click on the photo to enlarge if you want to see detail)

Nope ... I DON'T kill snakes in the yard or garden. But I've got to agree with Adtrid Alauda's sentiments, quoted here: Cockroaches really put my "all creatures great and small" creed to the test. Glad I don't live where I'd have to share quarters with THOSE nasty-looking things!

Friday, March 5, 2010

All that glitters ...

Gold metallic thread, done on the HQ16, creates no tension issues (in case you're a quilter and are wondering).

Sherry P's Lone Star is finished (corner detail above).

News from the barn ...

While I did the morning chores, I tried to comfort the gal in labor. Her moaning was making me nuts! How do nurses, doctors and midwives STAND it? It just makes me so nervous, I want to reach in there and yank that baby out to get it over with. On second thought, maybe not.

End result:

She still needs a name. Looks just like the last one, doesn't she? Maybe lighter in color.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Berrypicking Postponed Till Spring

I've been working on a knitted sweater. It's been one thing after another with this project. First, I found a pattern I wanted to try, went thru the yarn stash and decided upon a nice wool in a color named "Berry" -- a sort of deep purple. The pattern called for 15 balls; I had ten. I knit a swatch to be sure it could work, and thought I'd just order more of the same thing, if I could find it online. What luck! My favorite online yarn supplier had it and even in the same dye lot. Perfect! So I ordered the 6 balls they said they had in stock. To qualify for a discount, I added some other stuff to my order -- not that I needed it. I'm just such an impulse shopper it stinks! Just dangle that little "discount" carrot in front of me and I'm hooked.

Okay. Yarn needed is on it's way, so I'll just begin with the sleeves to get a head start while I wait for the rest of the yarn to arrive. Two sleeves into this thing, I get my package, sans the Berry yarn, with a note that says it is no longer available. Discontinued. What?!? What happened? It was listed as "in stock" when I ordered. Did the person who had to package it up for shipment decide (s)he wanted it, and leave me high and dry? or what? And now I have this other junk I didn't really want or need to add to the stash I'm supposedly on a campaign to reduce. Tsk!

So I did some math (always makes me woozy), and discovered that because I was using a yarn with more yardage than the knitted sample in the magazine, I would have enough in my ten balls, if yardage estimates and/or math can be trusted. Woo-hoo ... I'm good to go.

I cast on the required stitches (a LOT!), and began the body of the sweater. On the third row, I decided something was amiss. I must've messed up, so I tore it out and started over. Got to the third row and again, it's not looking right. Hmmmm ... I'd better stop trying to knit and watch TV at the same time. Picked it back to the first row and tried again. Once again I knit to the third row -- now for the third time, and whoa! Something is really wrong here. Can I be such a dolt that I can make the same mistake three times in a row? Probably.

I know I am not alone in giving my knitting projects names (just ask any knitter you know if it isn't so). I've picked this one out so many times, it just HAS to be called The Berrypicker. Get it?

So I picked it all back again, and while I'm doing this I started thinking I'd better check the math on the pattern just to be sure. Well, I'm never quite sure about my math skills, so even though I think I've discovered an error here, I have no confidence that I am correct and began again. This time I'm putting markers for every repeat of the pattern, thinking I must be losing count somewhere along the 15-stitch repeat and it only becomes apparent when I get to the third row. Once again, I make it to the third row. Can you believe it? It's still messed up.

Now I'm getting worried that all this picking-out and re-knitting is going to wear the yarn out before I even get the thing knitted. Bad enough to have socks that look dirty before they're off the needles (recall my post from a few weeks ago), but a sweater that looks tattered from day one?!? No thanks.

I figured out that the pattern calls for the wrong number of cast on stitches. Ohhhhh ... THAT must be the problem. Start over. Once again, this thing is just not working out the way it is supposed to. Good thing the grandkids are not around -- this thing is making me sputter very unseemly phrases.

I have now unraveled the whole shebang and put it in a bag. It will have to wait until I can catch up with my sister who knits better than I do, and get her to help me with this stupid thing. Berrypicking Postponed Till Spring. I'm really annoyed with this project and have decided to abandon it for something new and more to my liking and abilities.)

Green. Silky Wool. I love this stuff. Not only is green my favorite color, but this thinner yarn knits up fast like a worsted weight. What's not to love here?

Leftie? Rightie?

Truth is, I really don't know. I'm certainly a leftie when it comes to the important things like eating or writing, but I never am sure when it comes to other things. It always depends upon somebody else. Yeah, I KNOW! Crazy. However, if the person who teaches me to bowl does it right-handed, so will I. If The person who teaches me to use a tool does it one way, I will just do the same. Then there are the times when I'm left to decide for myself. Seems like it should be easy enough. But more times than I can say, I've spent way too much time trying to decide whether to be a leftie or a rightie when the task is as hand. Example: recent class with Deb Tucker to learn her method of making a Hunter Star quilt top.

Deb is a great teacher -- very lively, well-organized, and so thorough that in her hand-outs, she provides very clear instructions for doing things either left- or right-handed. First, she gave a walk-through in front of the group by way of demonstrating the method. Right-handed. Then we each went to our work stations and, following the printed instructions, were to begin the project. Deb made her way around the room, spending time with each student to be sure they understood. When she came to me, she asked if I was leftie or rightie. My natural instinct is to say "leftie" when asked. So she proceeded to show me how to follow the lefties' instructions. Okay ... that was all it took to set my head in a spin. I watched HER do it right-handed, then tried to follow the left-handed instruction she provided -- and I was all confused. Should I turn it this way or that? Am I leftie, or rightie? I don't know any more! (This has happened to me before.) So how to proceed? First I try one way, then the other. Anybody watching me will certainly think I am "challenged," as one teacher put it after observing my first attempt at using a rotary cutter. (I was trying to decide if it would be more comfortable in one hand or the other, but the teacher concluded I was a total dim-wit who seemed to be content to pass the tool from one hand to the other instead of using it to cut fabric.)

So anyway, I eventually decided it didn't matter which way I did it, as long as I was consistent. I got enough blocks completed in the class to make a wall-hanging. That was the intended goal for the class, so I gave myself an A+ for my efforts. I enjoyed it so much, I decided to go on and make it a bed-sized quilt, and congratulated myself for having had the foresight to purchase enough fabric in the first place to do just that. So, at home, I proceeded to whack out the little trapezoids and triangles I needed to turn this thing into a major production. Then my personal little cloud moved in overhead, and rained on my parade. Turns out I was short just about a quarter-yard of one fabric. How? I just KNOW I asked for equal amounts of the two colors needed when I shopped. If I lived in town, it wouldn't be such a pain. I could just dash over to the quilt shop and get what I need. But no. I live nearly an hour away. And the weather was the sort that keeps even the brave hearts off the roads for quite a stretch.

Eventually, I got out, got the fabric and would continue as soon as I could get some time and energy (and these two ingredients HAD to come together -- won't do to have one without the other). It took about two weeks for that to happen due to unfortunate timing involving sudden and severe illness and an overload of work here. But last night, I played with it, all the while visions of a beautifully quilted masterpiece danced in my head. (They always look fantastic in my head; in real life, not so much. But that's okay -- I still love doing it.)

I think I like the traditional setting best:

Bottom line: if you've ever wanted to do a Hunter Star, I recommend Deb Tucker's method. If you get a chance to take a class with her, you won't be disappointed.