Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Hope springs eternal...

Or there’s eternal hope of Spring… Or something like that.

After all the snow, it was a bit of a trudge over to the Post Office this morning. But I did find a sure sign of Spring in my mailbox.
My Daffodil Letter came today! For the past 4 years I have been helping an elementary school class Atlanta Georgia. Every year, as a class project, they track the progress of the first blooming daffodil up Route 1 from Florida to Maine. I know it’s not much, and the letter will be clipped to my calendar for about the next 4 months, but how can a letter like this not make you smile and think of warmer days?
On a quilty note, I spent about an hour working on the Double Delight (still step 1) but Every day I get a few more done. And the catalog for the state guild show came today. I think there's some late night reading in my future tonight.

If you have ever wondered what the aftermath of 19” of snow looks like, take a peek!
I never thought one of the things I would take pride in would be my skill with a snow blower. But to tell you the truth, I’m pretty good with it. At least if we had to get this much yukky white stuff it picked a good time. A snowy Sunday is just a good excuse to do nothing and the guys had football to watch. Add in the Monday holiday with no school and lots of people off work. It could have been MUCH more unpleasant!

I have also found a great plow-guy. There is just a limit to how much I can do with the snow blower and he did this and the whole driveway to the store in about 10 minutes. As a reference- that pile is about 6 feet high. The weather forecast doesn't show any more for a while. I hope they are right.
By the way, anyone who was curious about my bread loaves from Sunday and the oven issues... You can bake bread in your gas grill! I had punched down the loaves and put them on cookie sheets in the fridge and Monday I had this idea, so I gave it a try. The bottoms got a bit dark, but all-in-all they are tasty. Free-form artisan loaves...don't they charge extra for those?






"Don't tell me not to burn the candle at both ends
Tell me where to get more wax!


leslie@theCraftyUnicorn.com
http://www.thecraftyunicorn.com/

Sunday, January 18, 2009

My Nike Day and Other Stuff

Post from Thursday:

OK you ask "what does a little long arm quilter in east-of-nowhere Maine have to do with a major international super-corporation". Well, I had so many little picky things to do today, all those little odds and ends that you say “I’ll get to it in a minute” and then never do. They were making me nuts…everywhere I looked… so I have a Nike Day… If I see something that needs doing … Like Nike says… JUST DO IT. And it works! I have been busy all day picking-up, vacuuming, etc. and none of these are great accomplishments, but they are one less thing bugging me every time I turn around.

The list so far:
  • Sewed the label on the flannel orphan quilt- took 15 minutes- been pinned on for 18 months

Put up the second bar for hanging quilts- took 30 minutes (since I had to find the drill) - found the missing bracket 6 months ago

  • Cleaned the dog’s ears- took about 10 minutes but I hate doing it- anybody with a home remedy for slimy Labrador ear, please let me know.

  • De-cat-haired all the favorite sleeping spots in the store- ½ an hour, but I found a couple of sample I was looking for under one of the cat mats

  • Sent my ad into Quilt Traders Newsletter 2 weeks early- not at the last minute
Maybe it was a reward, but I got the church raffle quilt today. This is the same lady who pieced the amazing 3-D applique quilt last year. She is such a great customer, she gives me a budget and then lets me do what I want and her piecing is amazing. This year’s quilt has 1600 pieces in just that center basket and each one finishes at ONE INCH. I feel like I have had too much sugar or caffeine just looking at it and starting to plan. Look at all that space for quilting... I see feathers... Lots of feathers!



Just remind me of this feeling when I am doing SID around all those tiny squares… and you know it just has to be done.

That was the post I started on Thursday. Somehow it never got posted, but the rest of the day went along pretty much the same. I got several little picky things done and that feels good.

Friday I finished one of Carmen’s quilts and started the second one. They are matching twin size and of course they are Kaffe Fassett… They are Carmen’s! (sorry no pictures yet)

I had a real treat in the afternoon. The sales rep from Checker Distributors stopped by. I have not seen one sales rep from any company in the three years I have been in business. Heck, just getting them to return a phone call was like pulling teeth. I guess the economy is so tough they have to look at even little-old-me. Pauline is new to Checker and is very nice. I don’t spend much with Checker, but you can be sure I will be spending more if I can and it will be through her not their order desk.

Saturday I took a break from quilting to do some piecing on the Double Delight and needed to cut some more pieces. Well, when I went to enter them in the yardage-to-date spreadsheet, I found I had forgotten the New Years Day mystery I had cut out and not gotten to do because of the plumbing adventure. So, I get to add the forgotten yardage to my stash report retro-active to week 1. That makes this week’s paltry .74 yards look much better.

Yardage in: -0-
Yardage in YTD: -0-
Yardage used week 3(and week 1): 7.49
Yardage used YTD: 9.16

It is suddenly Sunday and the adventures continue… It has snowed ALL DAY. I planned to make my bread and go to the store and quilt all day. Guess again! The bread was going really well and I got some stuff done on the computer and then when I started pre-heating the oven for the bread and there is an awful smell. Not a burning smell, but a chemical, burn your eyes smell… from the gas stove… well after vacuuming everything I could find behind the stove (yuk!) just in case there was something stuck in an air vent I decided the smell is just plain scary and punched down my perfectly risen loaves and put them in the fridge. I will call my propane guy in the morning and plan crock-pot dinners for a few days. For only being 18 days old, 2009 really STINKS.

OK, I’m done whining now. I have cleared the snow off the driveway with 45 minutes on the snow blower, the dishes are done, Mike has football on the TV, I think I’ll take my laptop and my brownie and my (small) glass of medicinal whiskey (running a snow blower is cold hard work) and work on the quilt for new semester’s adult ed class. Yep, That sounds like a plan.



Everybody stay warm out there.








"Don't tell me not to burn the candle at both ends
Tell me where to get more wax!


leslie@theCraftyUnicorn.com
http://www.thecraftyunicorn.com/

Sunday, January 11, 2009

What do you get...

When you mix an online mystery scrap quilt, a quilter/stashbuster who loves spreadsheets and a closet math geek? Then trap that math geek in a cold house when she would rather be sewing? Well, you get a spreadsheet that helps figure yardage from the pieces you cut for your quilt! I will explain...

I started cutting fabrics for the Double Delight mystery on Quiltville.com . I also want to keep track of the yardage I use this year. More to know how much fabric is in each quilt than just to bust stash. As I'm cutting out zillions of squares and triangles, it was the Stash challenge and Judy's love of spreadsheets that got me thinking. I could make one that would calculate the total yardage if I put in the size and quantity of each piece. Then I don't have to figure number and width of strips, etc. And some of my pieces were cut from pretty small scraps! So, I released my inner math geek and came up with this:


All I have to do is enter the size and number of pieces and it figures the yardage. There are probably some already available on line, but I really enjoyed the mental exercise of figuring out the formulas.


Remember "Pie 'R square"? No pie are round cornbread are square. OK, bad math joke.


I also made a sheet to track what is cut for each quilt. I have decided that to count as out of the stash the fabric must be cut. If I wait until the quilt is finished I may not have a yardage entry until 2015! It is simpler:
My official Stash Usage report for week 2 is:
Yards in: 0
Yards out: 1.67
YTD yard i: 0
YTD yards out: 1.67
Not great but it is a start.

So, that is pretty much what I did today. Other than the usual breakfast and dishes. Good news is 1-Mike ran the snow blower so I didn't have to and 2-I didn't have to do laundry... couldn't do laundry is actually more correct. The pipe to the washer froze and burst. I thought I had it turned off but I guess it wasn't completely empty. So there is a plumbing chore in my near future. Yes, math geek and DIY plumber...I am a multi-talented woman!

Oh, and you asked about the cold house... The furnace is having issues so with 6" of snow tody and a low of 3 degrees, we are relying on the propane heater and the wood stove. We could manage today and I really didn't want to call the oil guy out on a snowing Sunday. Have I mentioned I hate winter? But things will be better tomorrow.




"Don't tell me not to burn the candle at both ends
Tell me where to get more wax!


leslie@theCraftyUnicorn.com
http://www.thecraftyunicorn.com/

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Lunch Break

I've been working on finishing a couple of customer quilts. I usually send quilts that need binding to Sarah at Downeast Quilting and Interiors. However, this year she got swamped with insulated curtain orders (really good for her!) I realized I HAD to conquer the Martelli binding system that I bought at MQX back in April. So one long day and a couple of sacrificial quilt sandwiches later I can now do a fairly decent machine binding. I am being horribly decadent and setting up one machine strictly for bindings.



I had a sandwich for lunch and have walked and fed the dogs, dinner is in the crock pot, intermission is over on the Met Opera broadcast so I guess it's time to get back to work.

Hope everyone else out there is getting lots of stuff done today.




"Don't tell me not to burn the candle at both ends
Tell me where to get more wax!


leslie@theCraftyUnicorn.com
http://www.thecraftyunicorn.com/

It's Quiltathon Weekend!

And I actually will be quilting...Yeah!!! I started last night and got some log cabin swap blocks done. I am SO behind with these. They were actually due in April. I tried to get caught up and found that about a dozen blocks were coming out the wrong size so rather than take them apart it was back to square one- literally. So, I have April done and now that I am cutting individual logs instead of "stitch & trim" they are the size they should be. Here is the first batch.

Today is Charity Quilt Day so I have 3 Quilts of Valor and 2 kid-size throws for the Village Quilters in San Diego. Guess I better get to work.











"Don't tell me not to burn the candle at both ends
Tell me where to get more wax!


leslie@theCraftyUnicorn.com
http://www.thecraftyunicorn.com/

Friday, January 02, 2009

The year so far

JudyL said in her blog that "whatever you do on January 1 is what you’ll be doing the rest of the year" That could make 2009 a long year for me!

After yesterday’s plumbing adventure and no-sewing disappointment, I really didn't need my printer to die too. Yesterday when I turned it on it made a nasty noise and the yellow light came on. That was it, just a flashing yellow light. Well, it was really cold at the store, so maybe it just didn't like that and would be better tomorrow…today, same thing. Well, broken is broken, so what is the worst I can do, break it more? I found the tabs to take the cover off and looked for something hung-up or jammed. Then I took out the ink cartridges and the print head. Oh MY… there was so much inky gunk in there!!! Paper lint, dust, a bit of cat hair (gee how could that happen?) So I cleaned with q-tips and some alcohol and finally grabbed a huge piece of fluff with tweezers YUK!! But, after I got it nice and clean and turned it on IT WORKED. I know nobody needs another of those holiday reminder chores. You know, like “Set the clocks back and check your smoke alarm battery” But from now on I am going to try and clean out my printer at the first of the year.

See the lovely test page it is printing! I had to do the print head re-alignment and voila! As a bonus, it is printing better than it has in ages. I’m so happy! I like this printer and really didn't want to have to buy a new one. Besides a new one costs money (and who has much of that?) and couldn't be here for several days.





So, two days into the new year and I have not sewn a thing yet. This has got to change! But at least now I can print out all the instructions for the mystery quilts I missed.



I got an email from Tracy and she said it was OK to post a picture of her Carolina Crossroads that I mentioned in another post.


She did a great job with all those little pieces. I love her fall colors. It didn't show in the picture, but I got to do feathers in the inner border, continuous curves in the pieced border and a rope design in the outer border (to tie it all together get it?) I'm glad she liked it. Maybe one of these days mine will get done. Yeah... right. My UFO commitment for 2009 will have to wait for another post. Right now I need to get to bed so I can get to work early tomorrow and get some sewing done!





"Don't tell me not to burn the candle at both ends
Tell me where to get more wax!


leslie@theCraftyUnicorn.com
http://www.thecraftyunicorn.com/

Thursday, January 01, 2009

It's the little things in life...

We really should not forget some of the little luxuries we have in our lives... Like running water! OK I'm being a cynic here. I got things caught up yesterday, spent an hour (or two) picking out fabric, got everything cut for a one-day online mystery and pulled my fabrics for Bonnie's mystery on Quiltville.com. I was ready to start the new year off sewing!
Got out of bed this morning, was brushing my teeth and found out we have no cold water! This is Maine and the temperature overnight was about 5 with a wind chill of -30 (no kidding) so no water means only one thing- FROZEN PIPES. This was not the way to start a new year. I couldn't understand why we had hot water and not cold, but the plumbing in this house was put in around 1935 and looks like a bowl of spaghetti. So I spent the day with portable heaters and the paint-stripping-heat-gun trying to clear the pipes and hoping they haven't burst inside a wall or under the floor. About 4:00 things finally let loose with a burp and a gurgle, and we again have running water in the upstairs bathroom and it appears we dodged the burst-pipe-in-the-wall experience. Maybe 2009 has possibilities after all.
So... now to the important stuff... My fabrics for the current Quiltville mystery. Everything is from my stash. That's one of my New Years "modifications". Last year I decided I needed to rotate my stash. I was just stuck in a rut with the same fabrics that were never quite right.
About 3 weeks ago, a customer called and said she was cleaning out and had 3 bags of fabric that need a home. Could I use them? Heaven knows I would hate to see homeless fabric, so sure why not. Well, somewhere between her basement and the store 3 bags turned into 7! We now have proof that fabric multiplies when we aren't looking. It was like Christmas (heck it was Christmas before I got to dig through the bags). The fabric filled the table of the longarm.
Lots of the pieces are a yard or so, there are some smaller pieces and several big pieces that will make great backings. The cool part is this is lots of stuff that I would not have picked out and yet I found everything I need for one of the mystery quilts. So this should help me work outside my comfort zone a bit more and give the stash a good shake-up. Now that's the way to start the New Year!

I hope everyone reading this will have a happy and healthy New Year... and running water when you want it!




"Don't tell me not to burn the candle at both ends
Tell me where to get more wax!


leslie@theCraftyUnicorn.com
http://www.thecraftyunicorn.com/