Monday, December 28, 2009

Ten in '10

My 2010 resolution is to make or complete a total of ten quilt projects.
That's ten projects during 2010.

About the "Ten in '10" Resolution
In more than 30 years of making quilts and hanging out with quilters, I've learned that many of us are attracted to more projects than we can possibly have time to make. The allure of an unusual creative idea, a new design, or a gorgeous fabric is impossible to resist. And so we collect, stash, and commence enough projects for our "someday" list to keep us busy until we die!

I confess to such behavior.

Since it's time again to make New Year's resolutions, and since I'm motivated to keep myself accountable about my ever-growing UFO (unfinished objects) list, I thought it would be good to publicly declare my intentions to make and/or finish ten projects during 2010.

You're invited to join me.
Steps to Join "Ten in '10"
First, make a ten-item list of your projects. These can be projects you want to start and finish during 2010, or UFOs you want to completely finish. Note that this is works out to one project every five weeks. You can be as easy or tough on yourself as what you can realistically accomplish. Here are some ideas to get you thinking about your own UFOs:
  • Quilt top or flimsy (a perfect Australian term) that needs layering, quilting, and binding
  • Partially cut out or partially pieced quilt top to finish
  • Sandwiched quilt to be quilted and finished with binding
  • Quilt(s) that needs labeling
  • A bag, tote, or accessory you've always wanted to make
  • Stitchery that needs framing or made into a quilt
  • Gift(s) needed to honor a special occasion such as wedding, birth, etc.
Potentially, your list could be endless, or at least more than ten items! So, carefully choose the "top ten" that are most do-able or that meet a 2010 gift deadline. You're permitted to save some UFOs (perhaps eleven of them?) for your 2011 list.

Second, grab the "Ten in '10" button in the right sidebar for your own blog. (Copy it; open layout; choose "Add a Gadget;" choose HTML; paste; save.) By the way, the button is aqua because that's supposedly the color for 2010.

Third, publicly state your intentions to make "Ten in '10" by blogging about it. Telling your friends about the projects you will make and/or finish during 2010, and then blogging about your progress, will help keep you accountable.

Fourth, but only if you wish, in your blog sidebar create a text list of your projects. You can even make the list interactive by hotlinking each project to previous blog posts about those items. That way we'll be able to see what you've done before, and how you're progressing.

I hope you'll find that together, encouraging one another during 2010, we can: 1) relieve some UFO guilt, 2) work on projects we've obligated ourselves to making, and 3) all the while enjoy working on projects we want to make.

This is your challenge. Ten in '10 is your motivation. You can do it! So can I.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

About Children

Today my baby, Brent, is 30 years old. This photo of Brent and Lyn was taken at a koala park on the north side of Sydney, during their recent visit to Australia. Lyn's petting a koala.Brent's going to be a dad himself on or around May 1. And, he's going to be great at it! Here he's entertaining his nephew, our grandson, Tay.
And Lyn will be a wonderful mom. This is a favorite picture...
Tay "meeting," up close, his male cousin. They'll be seven months apart in age. I can already imagine Christmas 2010. It will be wonderful!
Aren't I just the most fortunate mom and Nana?

Friday, December 25, 2009

Friday Flaunt - Christmas Quilt Display

What a Christmas gift in Australia! St. Mark's Anglican Church in Sydney (Darling Point) is displaying 51 quilts made by quilters involved with Stitchin' Mission #19 that was this past October and November.

Stitchin' Mission coordinators were Di Jobbins and Di Bracey. On Di J's blog you can see all the pictures taken inside this beautiful church. This was a double gift: to St. Mark's worshippers who had the pleasure of seeing these quilts; and children with autism who will receive these quilts. Thank you for these presents!

Merry Christmas!
P.S. If you're in the Des Moines area, you can attend the next Stitchin' Mission that begins January 12. Get information here.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

'Twas the Night Before Christmas

Christmas means two things to me.

First, children, and the celebration we share with our own. Though my children are grown, a new generation has come along, and I love them as much as my own. They are so precious, and wretchedly missed when they're on the other side of the world.

Eleven year-old Celina reads a Christmas story book to her little brother, Tay, who is nearly three months old.
The birth of our savior, Jesus Christ. My favorite Christmas Bible passage is in Isaiah 9.
"For unto us a child is born...
...And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace."

I pray that Jesus is the reason you're celebrating Christmas, and that you're blessed to share it with those you love.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Making Sugar Cookies

Last week my daughter-in-law (left) Lyn, and I made Christmas cookies together. I shared with her a favorite recipe that makes soft sugar cookies, if you don't roll the dough too thin. Oops me!Isn't Lyn a cutie? And notice her little baby bump. Yep, I'm going to be a Nana again, and I couldn't be happier about that! The little fella, grandson number two, is due May 1.

By the way, for those of you not familiar with that longhorn logo on her t-shirt, it's from the University of Texas where our son earned his masters degree.
Lyn seemed very pleased with our efforts.
In spite of burning my finger, it was a good time. Well, any time spent with my children is wonderful. Everyone should be as blessed as I am.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Walk with Us

On a clear, sunny, cold morning (8F, -13C), Hogan and I walked at our favorite place, Raccoon River Park. You may remember my May "Walk in the Woods" blog post about this place. From then to now, the area looks a whole lot different!
Hogan's all set to go.
And so am I. (How embarrassing...)
Speculating that the ruts in the trail have been made by a motorized vehicle for the benefit of cross-country skiers, we generally walk in those. Though Hogan loves the cold and snow, he too prefers to run in the compressed snow.

How cold it looks, and feels, with the sun glistening across the icy lake!
Sorta defeating the purpose for being outside, Hogan loves to eat chunks of snow.

An hour spent doing this is okay when going back home means warmth, food, and - for me, sewing time.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Friday Flaunt

Continuing to work on Kellie's Joseph's Coat Quilt Along, and not having much to show for my time, here are a couple little flaunts this week.

Dishcloths. They're not very exciting, but they're a useful necessity I've been making for more than 25 years. I've committed this pattern to memory. It's knitted on the diagonal beginning with 4 cast-on stitches. The yarn is Sugar'n Cream.
Last Saturday Gail Pan blogged about her free Christmas pattern stitched as Redwork. It's small enough to make in a few hours. I pencil-colored the star first, and then used green and gold floss for all the backstitch embroidery. This finished to 8-1/2" X 10-1/2". Thank you Gail, for this sweet design. Click here to download it from Gail's blog. Wishing all my blogospheric friends and family happy, anticipatory days in this blessed season. May the Spirit and joy of Christmas fill your heart.

Each Friday, bloggers who belong to Quilting Down Under chat group post a flaunt of their productivity. Visit Cinzia's blog to find links to all 24 Friday Flaunt-ers.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

I Won! I Won!

Remember my November 18 blog post? That's the one where I told you about the Finders Keepers challenge... how I gave away two of author Kimberly Stuart's books, Stretch Marks while in Sydney, Australia?

Well, guess what... today Kimberly email me to tell me I am a winner!
Kimberly's first email:
"Check out my post, my dear. Let me know when I can drop off your prize. :)
Thanks again! kim"
And Kimberly's P.S. "Where do you want your gift certificate for lunch?"
Check out Kimberly's blog about it. I get chocolate too!
Thank you Aussie mums Ariana and Tanya, for allowing me to interrupt your day, and for posing for photos.

Santa Claus can't do much better than this!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Blizzardy Blog

It's another stay-at-home sort of Monday. Right now it's snowing (again) on top of Sunday night's drizzle. This morning plowed or shoveled sidewalks, driveways, and streets were coated with a layer of ice. Wearing a pair of Yak Trax over boots are the only way to safely get around on foot. Bundled up to endure 16 F (-9 C ) with the wind making it feel like -1 F (-18 C), I managed a 50 minute walk with the dog whose bumbling along on the ice gave me something to giggle about.

Quilt-wise, it's time to deal with "point problems" with the Joseph's Coat Quilt Along. Though Kellie ( has an excellent photo tutorial showing how she achieves sharp points, gluing fabric over Floriani Stitch and Wash petal shapes, it's not so easy to do! The first time I arranged my petals, the points looked like this. Yikes! There's a hole!
After scrapping those; sanding down the edges of the petal template; drawing and cutting new Stitch and Wash Floriani pieces; and gluing Floriani to new fabric petals - taking extra, extra care with the points - there was a slight improvement. After I hand-appliqued them just a"scosh" of white background fabric shows, but I think I can still improve upon this.
What I can't abide is my outside points. Terrible! These will be redone.
Suffice it to say, this Quilt Along isn't fun at the moment. I'm so disappointed in myself, a supposedly experienced quilter. I'm eating humble pie. Well... I'll dig in again. Perseverance.

Choosing Joseph's Coat Quilt Along Fabrics
The fun part is all this was choosing fabrics. (Perhaps why we have more fabrics in our stashes than finished quilts to show for those selections!?)

Kim, Michelle, and I met to select help each other settle on fabrics. It was fun and educational! After a couple hours of deliberation here's what we settled on.
These are Kim's. The fabric at the bottom is the inspiration piece.
I thought it was important to consider value in our fabric choices. I've heard it said that quilters, especially new quilters, tend to gravitate to medium value fabrics. Check your own stash to see if it's true! We often neglect to buy fabrics with light, or very dark values.

We helped each other put fabrics in value sequence. When I turned the color photo into a black and white photo, it's easy to see the balance of lights and darks, and to see where fabrics fell out of sequence!

Michelle's fabric choices.
She'd like to paint a light raspberry color on two or three walls in her bedroom. Won't that be yummy?! She'll surely dream about raspberry sherbet!
My own fabric choices were inspired by an intertwined jacaranda and bougainvillea that I photographed while I was in Aus. (Given our weather, being in Aus seems long ago....)
Though each of us has more than the 12 fabrics Kellie suggests, we've agreed that more is better. We won't eliminate anything until we actually try it in a block.

Back to that humble pie, and perseverance to get those points figured out. Eventually, we'll have some gorgeous quilts to show for our efforts.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Stunning Stable Bag

This "Stunning Stable Bag" tote is one I'd admired on Julie's blog, so I was happy to get the pattern while in Australia.

Since I intend to use it for stitcheries and other traveling hand projects, I wanted to make it with colorful fabric.
I was attracted to the pattern because of the way each end draws up...
...and then opens out for a good look at what's inside.
There's no doubt it will hold a lot of stuff! But like Julie, I "struggled with the instructions." Being a pattern-writer myself, if there's one thing I know for sure, pattern instructions must be tested by an objective sew-er.

For the amount charged for this pattern, designers at Village Quilt and Patchwork Shop (Australia) would be smart to re-write these instructions: add omitted information; and replace hand-drawn diagrams with clear computer-generated diagrams.

Poor pattern instructions aside, it's a clever design, and I'm glad I made the effort to complete it.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

During a Blizzard

If you've never experienced a blizzard, these clips say all that needs to be said.
See how strong winds can whip snow into drifts. View Dan and his snowblower in action.

Even Hogan (the dog), is smart enough to want to head back home.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Winter with a Vengeance!

If these photos seem a little cloudy, it's because so much snow is falling and blowing. Weather forecasters have upped our snowfall prediction to 15 inches (38 cm). With reduced visibility and Wednesday temps reaching only 14 F (-10 c), it's a full blown blizzard. According to one news agency, 358 Iowa schools have closed, and most evening activities are cancelled. Typically this also means that grocery stores are swamped!

These inside-looking-out photos give you an idea of what it's like.
It's the buzz of snowblowers that's most familiar this time of year. Hubby uses snowblowing as an excuse to be outdoors and enjoy a cigar.
As for me, to heck with staying warm with a hot chocolate! I'm sipping a lemon-lime and bitters! It's a refreshing drink I came to enjoy while in Oz. Now if I can just dredge up recent memories of extreme heat, I'll be really happy.

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Winter

Monday morning we awoke to two inches (5 cm) of snow. While this is by no means out-of-the-ordinary for Iowa, it does make Iowans pause and think about the rest of the winter that is sure to come. With a high temperature today of 25 F (-3 C), this snow, and more that is coming, will surely be with us for a long time. And coming, it is!

Streets in West Des Moines, Iowa looked like this by 9:00 a.m.
The cities of West Des Moines, Clive, Urbandale, Des Moines and others, generally do an excellent job of preparing for predicted snow, and maintaining safe streets. Well, as safe as you can get driving on patches of snow and ice.

The people who drive these snowplows often spend long hours, night and day, keeping streets clear for commuters.
So as I followed a snowplow this morning, I was reminded to be patient as it cleared the way and sanded the streets for my safety.
Weather forecasters are now predicting our first blizzard of the winter. It's expected to begin Tuesday, with snowfall of 8-12 inches (20 to 30 cm) by Tuesday night. By Wednesday morning, winds are expected to increase to 30-40 miles per hour (48-64 kilometers per hour) which will produce "white out conditions." That means if you're driving anyplace, particularly across rural Iowa, you won't be able to see ahead of you!

I'm resigned to the inevitable, but I'm sure not ready for it. However, when it comes, you'll find me hunkered down indoors, well-supplied for hours of sewing, stitchery and quilting. Food becomes only an afterthought when stay-at-home sewing time is at hand.
(This post is specifically for the enlightenment of quilting friends and followers Down Under. Girlfriends... You have no idea! Stay cool in your pools in Oz!)


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