Whimsical and Homespun Art Creations with a Little Rural Living Thrown In

Saturday, November 1, 2014

All Hallow's Eve

Can you believe that another Halloween has come and gone?   It seems like it was last week (really it was the third week of September) that I purchased our pumpkins, gourds and Indian corn.  The pumpkins went fast in Northern Illinois.  Many were spoilt from our unusually wet spring.  :(
Mew had to be out on the porch as I set up the decorations.  Mr. Hollow and I always tell her that she is worth a premium this time of year.  She would not stay by the big pumpkin to have her photo taken.  There were to many outside smells to investigate! ;)

My pumpkins survived the month and a half sit to Halloween.  Whew!  The kids scoured the internet to find some new patterns for their faces.  The pumpkins were soooo thick that I didn't think the faces could have much detail, but they really turned out nice! :)  Since we did not have the appropriate carving knives,  Farmerboy rigged up tiny vise grips with small hacksaw blades... They worked perfectly! 

Meet Jack Skellyton and Cheshire Cat or as I call him, Chesh for short.  :)

Getting ready for the big night... We are in a small town but can get descent numbers of kids from the surrounding towns.  Unfortunately Halloween was on a Friday, all the towns overlapped.  We only had 28 kids, but they were the most polite and absolutely darling little Trick or Treators.  It was fun catching up with our old neighbors and seeing all of the familiar faces.

Remember the Giggleswick Blog Hop that I had on the side bar of my blog?  Well, 21 talented Halloween artists created prizes for giveaways on each of their blogs in celebration of All Hallow's Eve.  ( I am telling you from a critical eye that these are some SERIOUSLY talented artists.)   Well, my name was chosen from the blog HoHo Halloween.  The prize was a secret until the day my name was chosen.  I could not believe my eyes when I saw the post of this amazingly detailed piece of Halloween art... An Absolute Original One of a Kind!  Yahoooooo!!  The talent that created my new Halloween heirloom is artist Jorge De Rojas, and I can tell you now that the photo does not do this guy justice.  He is simply spooktacular.  EVEN Mr. Hollow was impressed.  Doesn't he look so incredibly vintage??  There is not a ghost around that could get past this little guy! :)

I can not express in words how impressive this piece is.  Please check out Jorge's blog at HoHo Halloween , and while you are on that post take note of the other fine artists listed.   It will be well worth your time to check their blogs as well. :)  If you are lucky to live in their area, some of these fine artists do local shows or sell on the fabulous site -- Etsy.   No storage box will get my little man either.  He is heading for the curio cabinet as a remarkable example of Halloween art.  Now, the only thing left to do is to think of a fitting name for him... :)

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Allow Me to Introduce You All to Davey

This year is flying by so fast!  Getting use to a full time work schedule has been more of a challenge than I thought.  With the onset of cold weather to keep me indoors, I look forward to working on some art projects and blogging a whole lot more. :)  
So much has happened over the past months.  Our pet Snoopy, the adopted humane society rat, passed away. :(    It brought about a void in our lives.   (His story can be read here.)    But that was soon filled by the arrival of Davey.  He is a white and champagne colored rat that was purchased as a wee baby from Petco.  The salesman was relieved to know that he was not going to be snake bait.   Farmerboy was a little nervous about handling him too much, since his first rat was a biter.  So, I spent many hours taming this little guy.  He has the sweetest temperament.                 

Unfortunately, raising a pet can sometimes have its challenges.  After almost two weeks of cohabitation, he broke out in scabs... All Over.   After reading volumes on the subject, I stopped feeding him his beloved yogurt drops (which were Snoopy's favorite treats as well), since rats have been known to have dairy allergies.   After a matter of days, his skin cleared up... Amazing!   I have him on healthy snack foods now.  He loves baby carrots and dehydrated bananas.   No cheese for this little guy! :)  

Welcome to the family Davey!

Monday, September 1, 2014

Vintage Bucilla Alphabet Quilt

I have began working on my vintage Bucilla stamped cross stitch alphabet quilt from the 1960's - early 70's.  It boggles my mind a little to think that the crisp new quilt, that was manufactured that long ago, is finally taking its first venture out of the protective plastic packaging.  Even more weird, is the fact that I can still remember my Mom embroidering one of these for my younger sister 41 years ago.  Yikes! 
Ever since I listed one of these quilts partially finished on my selling blog, there have been several inquiries emailed to me about this particular kit.  I've decided to show each block on completion to help those inquiring about a color chart.  There are some pretty wild colors used in this quilt, due to the era that it was manufactured in.  The thread was also included in the original kit.  It would be interesting to see one of these quilts with more modern and tamer colors, but I love it just the crazy way it is. :) 
So with no further delay, here is the apple for letter A.  This was taken on a sunny day without a flash and portrays the border's blue and red the most accurately.

The bright little Blue Bird for letter B.  Due to today being a dark and rainy day, the flash has given a touch more intensity to the colors on the rest of the photos.  (I will take a progress to date picture on future posts to give a truer representation of the floss to use.)

The cat representing the letter C.

And to bring up the rear for now, the sky blue dog sporting his bright pink hat.  How is that for some 1960's colors?  ;)

The one thing that I really like about this quilt is that it incorporates more embroidery techniques than its modern day counterparts.  It really challenges me to broaden my skills into different stitches.  I also made a choice to bury my stitching in the quilt.  It hasn't been to difficult so far and is a nice change from always pulling the needle through the back.  Plus, there will not be a backing to attach later. :)   Well... I am off to do a little work on my Hummingbird quilt...

Hope everyone is having a wonderful Labor Day Weekend!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

127 Yard Sale "2014"

It is hard to believe that another 127 Yard Sale is over.  We had some chilly mornings that gave way to warm afternoons.  Although there was a little rain, it magically let up at the times that we were out hunting. :)  It is amazes me how many vendors make the trek to set up along the 127 Corridor.  Here is my little sampling...

In Kentucky, there is a large arena for cattle and horse shows, it started to pour the moment we arrived.  The rain continued until we were ready to leave.  Which was perfect timing for us! ;)   From there, we stopped at a little flea market that was hosted by the local Amish community.  Here are a few of my finds: 

1. A huge bag of scraps was a nice find for 2 dollars.  Normally, I do not buy much for scraps, but these had some vintage and modern pieces.  2.  A kit for making Dresden Plate blocks.  The previous owner had 20 already sewn... I just had to pick it up for the $5.00.   3.   These four pointed creations are hand stitched and paper pieced.  Whoever created them, left the original papers on the back.  They are so neat "as is".  Not sure if I will create something with the four of them.  4.  A twin size child's quilt top.  I am not a fan of the design.  My thinking was to cut the squared blocks into triangles, mix them up and stitch them into a more complex design.  I couldn't buy the fabric for the $8.00 that I spent on it.  :)

Feed sack fabric anyone?  ;)  The 7 pieces of various sized feed sack will be used for some free sketch -  embroidery designs.  The vintage look and feel of these pieces will make for some nice  primitive distressed mats.  At a dollar a piece, a stitcher couldn't find fabric any cheaper to create with... with a little age and patina to boot! The second and last photos represent my weakness for stamped feed sacks.  I have got to get cracking on some projects to use some of these up on!  The third photo was a large cutter quilt that I just couldn't pass up on for 5 bucks.  It has a wide variety of colors on it.  There will not be any guilt cutting it up, since someone else already took a piece off of it.  :)

This industrial lamp will be perfect for my desk.  It works great and has scratch free paint.  Come on... Where can you get a great light for 7 bucks!

This photo is a find by Mr. Hollow.  It escaped my eye on the walk about.  My original thought was that it was a used rock tumbler from Lortone.  On our arrival home, I realized that it was brand new!  What a shocker???  It came complete with grit for 7 dollars. :) 

The same lady had some industrial sized tumbling barrels and two large lidded barrels of very expensive grit.  To the right shopper, the tumbling barrels would be a great find, and she would gladly have given them away.  Although Mr. Hollow began contemplating taking them (YIKES!), I was not for it.  We did take the barrels of grit.  The guys were trying to guess how many pounds were there... Maybe 35 pounds a piece.  I couldn't pass on them for 10 bucks!!

Here was an impulse buy.  Why did this speak to me out of a table filled with sewing machines?   I do not know.   But I fell for her... She is a Montgomery Ward "Signature" sewing machine.  Her and I are just getting to know each other, and a better introduction will be posted later.  :)

We had so much fun on our trip.  But there is not much time to rest, since this weekend is the big show in Baraboo, Wisconsin.  Lots of running to do before the weather dances its way into another season! :)

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Baby Brother Manual Drum Carder

Today was exactly like a day in October for Northern Illinois.  I had a half day off and did some stitching on the Bucilla Alphabet quilt, while sipping a cup of hot chocolate!  Is it really August?  I am not going to lie... I do not miss the heat!
Mr. Hollow and I just got back from vacation.  Yep, that's right.  Another 127 Yard Sale wrapped up!  :)  It was a lot of fun, but I will share that in a later post-- I promise. ;) But first, I wanted to share my birthday present. 
There is nothing like the excitement of opening up a box.  Even when you know what is in it!!

And here is my first glimpse of my present... a Baby Brother Drum Carder.  It is my answer to processing all of my clean wool fleeces into roving. :) 

This particular model is the Baby Brother. After looking at all of their manual machines (www.brotherdrumcarder.com), I thought that this size should fit my current needs.  Although, the thought of making some larger batting for quilts is very tempting in the future. ;)  

I will share my attempts at learning to use the Baby Brother in future posts.  Once I have some carded wool, I would like to take a try my hand at needle felting and spinning.  But for right now, the beautiful weather outside is calling to me.  I had better start washing the rest of the fleeces, before it gets to cold outside!  ;)

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Summer in the Hollow

It is hard to believe that July is almost over! I have so much to catch up on and share.  Here is a little glimpse into the happenings here at the Hollow...
I have been working away on Great Grandma's Hummingbird quilt.  My purchase of a Huion light pad  has been a huge help in the piecing process.  The soft light helps me to fit the Hummingbirds around the octagon without any eye strain.  The light pad will be a great help with transferring quilt patterns and fine art as well.  :)

Does this look familiar?  I found another Bucilla stamped cross stitch alphabet quilt.  These over sized quilts are so charming!  They date from the late 60's to early 70's.   Although my bunny quilt is still in the process of getting the edging stitched on, this one is going to be the alternate stitching quilt for those cool fall evenings to come... or maybe sooner! ;)

Did I tell you that my birthday was a few weekends ago?  I will show you later the special gift that I purchased for myself.  Let me just say, it made me smile... I know myself so well! ;) 

Below is a special gift that I received from my coworker.  Lots of candy, a wonderful article on gourd crafting and a beer bottle that has an insert to be a candle.  Take a look at the label... Pumpkin Ale.  Isn't it wonderful!!  I think that it suits me perfectly and am going display it on one of my son's barnboard creations.  It will look so rustically cool! :)

I hope everyone is having a wonderful summer. :)  My camera is overloaded with events and items to share, and I have been doing some serious baking.   My fellow bloggers have been putting up some wonderful recipes!!  My next purchase better be a new treadmill, or this blogger is going to need a new wardrobe! ;)

Sunday, June 8, 2014

He's Back...

To be completely honest, the beginning of summer has kicked off in a slightly stressful way for me with too many "to do" lists and sad happenings in our community.  Just when the pressure started to get tiresome, look who decided to show up in our pond... Yep, it's Gary.  (Read about his first arrival here.)  Our snapping turtle from last year made the trek again to vacation with our family for the warm months.  His arrival made a huge bright spot in a dark couple of weeks for me.  I thought it was appropriate to celebrate our reunion by sharing a hot dog. :)  

Isn't he handsome?  Here he is peeking out from behind a pond lily for his close up...  or a chunk of hot dog! ;)

Enjoy the little things in life.  For one day you will look back and realize that they were the big things.  :)

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Cleaning a Shetland Fleece

After watching several "How to" videos on cleaning raw wool, I have two of Farmerboy's Shetland ewe fleeces washed.  The tension going into this project was edging towards high, since my experience has always been in felting wool... And I certainly did NOT want to see that for an outcome with these. 

Is my way the right way?  Or better yet, is there a right way?  All I can tell you is that happily the process below worked for me.  NO felting!! :)   

The following method works great for the Shetland fleeces.  If working with other breed's fleeces, a search of the internet may serve you well as some of the finer fleeces may felt with the slight agitation.  All breeds are different.

Here is the raw Shetland fleece from Lego.  The first task is to remove as much vegetation as possible and to "skirt" the fleece.  Skirting the fleece is removing any animal waste aka poop.  I was lucky.  The gentleman that sheers the sheep does a quick skirting prior to bagging.   The little pile to the top of the photo was all that I pulled off. :) 

UPDATE:  To make the cleaning process much more productive, I have purchased some large plastic tubs from a local hardware store.  I place a fleece in each tub and run cold water over the fleece until it is soaking.  It was amazing how much dirt comes out in the water.  The tub can be dumped and refilled to be dumped again prior to the next step.  The cold water will NOT felt the fleece. 

*NOTE*  I was in for a surprise on Lego's fleece.  Ever since I have known her, I thought she was a cream colored sheep. ;)

Here is a photo of my fancy processing equipment:   4 buckets, some original Dawn dishwashing liquid and rubber gloves.  Total cost was 7 bucks-- thanks to the local Dollar Store. ;)   All buckets are filled with my hottest tap water to help soften the lanolin for the Dawn to remove.  The first stop for a hunk of fleece is the bottom bucket that is mixed with a generous amount of Dawn.  The second bucket has a little Dawn mixed in.  The third and fourth buckets are a clear water rinse.  As long as the water in all the buckets are kept hot, the wool will not have a temperature change and felt.  In each soak, I would squeeze and rotate the wool in the bucket.  At the end of a soak, I would squeeze as much water out of the wool before depositing it into the next bucket. 

**If you notice a color change, that is because this photo was taken while washing Ariel's fur-- not Lego's.  ;)

Here was my surprise with Lego's fleece.  It is a beautiful white with blue gray and black.   I had to change the water in the buckets several times with her fleece.  The lanolin was so heavy and held the dirt so well that she appeared to be a completely different color. 

As you can see, I used an old clothes rack to hang the fleece outside.  The clothes pins came in handy to secure the fleece in the breeze.  Fortunately, the birds weren't taking an interest in the potential nest building materials! :)

Here is Ariel's fleece.  It is a lovely brown with a gauzy grey/white.  I am not sure if I will mix the colors in the roving or separate them.  It almost has a cobweb appearance to it while hanging. 
The next fleece will be Brick's.  His fleece is a wonderful cinnamon brown.   I will be anxious to see how it washes up.  Each fleece will get its own mesh laundry bag.  A cheap holder at $2 a piece.  They will be staying in them until I decide on a drum carder to process the wool with.   I must admit... I never thought doing the wash could be so much fun! :)

Sunday, April 20, 2014

HAPPY EASTER ~ Little Levi

We welcomed the day with our final babies -- Leah's twins.  She had one really big boy and this little runt.  His name is Levi.  Farmer Girl is currently feeding him with a syringe.  He came for a visit and pranced around our front yard, sniffing the grass and dried up leaves before retiring to his sleeping box... He is truly a little miracle.

From Our Family to Yours
Happy Easter!

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Is it Springtime?? The Sheep Think So

Here are the newest members of the flock.  Let me introduce you to Max.  He is the new son of Marlena.  Marlena's  is one of our registered sheep and has fleece in a gorgeous grey color. (Which reminds me.  I have loads of fleeces that need to be washed!)   Although his coat color will change over the upcoming months, he is quite a site with his black and white spots!

Marlena had a little bit of a rough time after having these two.  I am not surprised, since her twins are pretty large.   This is a photo with Max a few hours old.  Little Max's fleece colors remind me and Farmer Girl's Grandpa more of a goat than a sheep. LOL

Luke has to check out all of the new arrivals.  So Farmer Girl took Max's sister Macey over for introductions.  Macey wasn't the least bit afraid.  Max, on the other hand, is a ball of energy.  Holding on to him is a chore.  The introduction was to quick for photos.  I have NEVER seen a lamb with such energy.

Hopefully, this is a sign that warm temps are coming to Northern Illinois finally.  I have fleeces to get out and wash and am going to try my hand at creating some roving. :)

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Vintage Hummingbird Quilt 74 Year Old WIP

For those of you that are new to the Hollow, the story behind these Hummingbird's can be found here.  They were a project that I knew would have to wait for my knowledge of quilting to expand. 
During the fall of last year, I took a day to try and figure out the geometric measurements of the octagon that would be needed to put these little guys together.  Seems easy right?  It nearly drove me nuts.  I remember being completely frazzed, walking away, and vowing to make the little Hummers into plain square blocks.  But after having a cup of tea and clearing my head, I threw common sense out the window, along with my ruler, and began sketching the pieces with transfer paper.  The ruler was used as a straight edge to clean up the design and in the final stages to make everything square.  My pattern was designed with hand stitching in mind, keeping with the style my Great Grandma ended with on July 4th of 1940. 
Below are the final sketches that I found in a binder last weekend.  Let me add that they were untested sketches.  No fibs here dear friends... It took me a minute or 20 :(  to reacquaint my mind on how I thought this pattern would work.  During the trial run of assembly, there were quite a few stitches ripped out trying to understand the order of construction.  My frustration was eased by imagining how different the world must have been when Great Grandma was constructing her pieces to this quilt... A quilt unknown to her that a Great Grand daughter would be destined to try and finish.  I couldn't help to also think of my Grandma, and how blessed I am that she kept these little pieces of cloth safe over the years. 
Have I ever told you how much I love to hand sew?
I truly do...
I am so proud to show you a peek at my progress!  It is as if my hands are being guided by generations. 

There is a long way to go, but I am so ready for this challenge.  A little hand stitching here and there calms my soul.  The timing feels right for me to venture into this quilt.  I intend to work on this one a few hours a week and take my time enjoying the process...

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Sweet Meadow Farm's Prim Easter Bunny Finished!

I hope that everyone had a Merry Pi Day on 3/14!  We celebrated the mathematical constant at our house with a slice of cherry.  After telling my co workers about the dessert planned for my family, my branch manager pulled out a huge apple pie that she had stored in our break room freezer.  Instead of pulling a 10 hour shift, I went home for a few hours and did some baking! LOL  So... my team at work got to celebrate with a slice of  heavenly apple pie! (For her generosity, I brought my manager a piece of cherry back, since that is her favorite! ;) )   We were talking about next year's plans, since the date will be 3/14/15 and that will account for the first 5 digits of Pi.  I am thinking that we should all bring a different pie and spend the day sampling!  LOL
I finished my darling little bunny from the Sweet Meadow Farm's pattern.  She is every bit as cute as I imagined.  Thank the heavens that she is prim, since my skill level is perfect for that style! ;)  ** Oops... the remnants of the Pi celebration are in the background! :)

She is complete with genuine feed sack bloomers.   It would be fun to do a bunny with all feed sack clothes.  For this little girl, the dress fabric was dipped in coffee, and it gave the wee outfit a wonderful vintage look.  One lesson that I learned was not to fold the fabric over a hanger to dry after dipping.  The coffee settles on the cloth that is resting on the hanger and leaves a dark line.  But if you dip the affected pieces again, squeeze them a few times while in the coffee and finish by hanging them with clothes pins; the lines will go away... Lucky for me!

Her colors go well with my living room walls.   I would like to make her a dark little boy playmate and some wool Easter toys.  It would give her arms something to do.  Now, I am off to look for another project that needs completion!

I hope everyone is having a lovely weekend! :) 

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Sweet Meadow Farm's Prim Bunny

A few years ago, I picked up the "Simply Bunnies" pattern from Maureen Mills of Sweet Meadows Farm. (Maureen was the designer of the gingerbread girl doll that I purchased for Christmas 2011, during an online craft show (here). )   My desire was to purchase more of her finished dolls.  But since my searches came up empty handed, I decided to check out her patterns.   Yikes!  You should see her sweet little dolls.  I left her site with three patterns ordered.  :)  Quite the big dreams here, since my experience in doll sewing is ZERO.  After receiving the patterns, I really enjoyed looking, reading and filing them away in my "to do" drawer.  Sound familiar? ;)
The bunny pattern was calling to me last summer, so I broke out some muslin hidden in my "hope that its needed someday" stash and created some bunny body parts.  Unfortunately... not long after completion, the parts were put in a tub and forgotten about.  :(
As you can see below, this little darling was rediscovered last weekend... just in time for Easter.  What had I been afraid of?  Time to break out and have a little fun.  I made some stain from instant coffee  (It was pretty light... Makes me wonder if brewed coffee would stain a bunny darker?)  and began wiping the body down with a soaked sponge.  It took a few coats to get to the final shade.

Painting the eyes was reminiscent of my ceramic days... sigh... with my  paint caddy getting to see a little action! LOL  Then, I was surprised to find that Maureen uses my favorite colored pencils for the detail work... Prismacolors.  They are another item that hasn't seen a whole lot of daylight in the past year.  The whole process is so addictive!  My mind was buzzing with possible dye methods and assorted shades of pencils to use on future bunnies. :)

Below is how she sits right now.  Tonight, the assembling will begin.  Then, my Easter fabric will get a once over for an outfit.  The coffee stain will come in handy to give the fabric an antique feel to it.   This whole project has been amazingly fun.  I love the excitement of tackling something new, and Maureen's designs are definitely newbie friendly...  Trust me!

The eyelashes are very prominent on this little one, so a dress will be constructed.  My mind is already imagining a dark little boy playmate.  I think that I'd better start experimenting with some natural dyes!  :)

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Finished Tumbled Rocks

This past year was like a whirlwind of events.  I am concentrating on slowing things down a little around the Hollow and completing some projects.  Below is some photos that were on my camera from last summer.  These are the rocks that I was tumbling... remember that? ;)  The whole process was quite the adventure, since yours truly didn't read books on the topic. 
All of the stones lost mass as the grit wore away at their jagged surfaces.  In this experiment, I found out in a "hands on" way the lessons of tumbling.  The yellow and white stones are Citrine.  As you can see, they tumble and polish beautifully.  They can go through a regular tumbling process and stay somewhat predictable on their shape, losing a 1/4 to a 1/3 of their mass.  If you look at the upper right corner, the tourmaline and amethyst can be seen.  They lost very little mass in the tumbling process and turned out equally as well.  The moonstone in the upper left corner suffered very little surface loss but never really achieved a smooth finish. :(  Will definitely have to be getting some books on the subject to correct this problem.
While tumbling all of these stones, the most important of all lessons is to take out the stones with surface fractures and reserve them for another tumble.  Upon completion, many of my stones had  internal fissures.  My personal thought is that fissures add to the mystery of the stones.  They give them a rustic inner beauty.  With the rough cut bulk stones that I purchased on Ebay and my vast inexperience,  I was fortunate to have several nice finished pieces.   

Remember all that gorgeous Fluorite that I had?  Most of it disappeared in the tumbling process. Yikes! Upon more research into the subject via the Internet, my suspicions were confirmed that it is a softer stone.  I proved this with my little pile that is one over from the Citrine on the left.  They came out with a frosted appearance like the moonstone.  But they still are very pretty. :)

On the bottom left is the Labradorite.  It will be going into the tumbler again.  I will be doing some major reading on this rock.  They lost very little mass and were pulled out after the second tumble, due to all of the surface cracks.  The lot definitely needs to go back to the rough grit until their exterior surfaces are smooth.

I really did enjoy diving into this process of rock tumbling armed  with little knowledge.  Normally, my method is to research a topic to death.  This time, I decided to just enjoy the process.  Here are some things that I did learn: 
1.  Get a Cheap Strainer to clean the rocks.
2.  Take out the rocks with surface flaws after the second tumble.
3.  With Chicago Tumbler,  buy a Lortone belt that will not break!
4.  Clean your rocks outside over a large bucket or pot.
5.  Be careful where you dump the rinse water.
6.  Keep a notebook with times and pointers.
7.  Be Patient with the Process!

This summer will definitely find me tumbling again, and I look forward to wire wrapping a few of these to make pendants.  My son is a wonderful jewelry maker.  His attention to detail is absolutely amazing.  Hopefully, he can teach his Mom a little about the craft!  ;)

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Disappearing 9 Patch Quilt & A Little Free Motion Quilting

Hello everyone!!  It is so nice to be blogging again.  Thankfully, my son's laptop has not had as many updates as mine.  So far, blogger's system is tolerating my posting from here.  I hope that this will hold out long enough for blogger to finish fixing the problem...

I have not been idle this winter.  Do you remember my first quilt?  Shouldn't be too hard-- I have only worked on two.  LOL  Well, the plunge has been taken to quilt it on my own machine.  The preparation began on the batting... My choice was a thick wool blanket.  I was terrified of bearding, so a layer of cheesecloth was added to each side.  Let the pinning begin! 

The large safety pins were purchased at a discount store.  They are huge.  I bent them to make the sandwiching process easier.  To be honest, my finger and knees were sore by the time it was completed.  My cat sat up on the couch watching the whole time! ;)

It is hard to see, but the center was finished with a simple stitch in the ditch.  (Well simple for someone that is NOT a newbie! ;) )  The process was a lesson in patience for me.  Not only was I trying to get use to this big bundle of a quilt (the blanket was really thick) , but my need for speed was smacked down a few times.  Synchronization with the machine is definitely a necessity to get a nice smooth line.  With it being my first pieced quilt, there were a few flaws here and there to work around. ;)

Then came the free motion quilting.  I could have easily lost my patience over my own inexperience.  First thing learned-- the need to get the pressure from the foot right. My batting was soooo thick.  It was a shock how much it needed to be changed.  Second--  Sit higher than normal to have a birds eye view of my work.  When sitting at normal height, I found myself pulling the quilt causing an unfortunate needle break.  Third--  Never blame the machine.  Yours truly broke two needles by putting them in backwards.  I didn't even know that they could be put in backwards! LOL  That one cost me 20 minutes of hard thinking.  I just laugh, thinking back about it. 

I really had a blast fumbling my way through quilting.  It was something that I never dreamt I could do.  It seriously felt good to practice at a new art.  Hopefully, the future will find me perfecting my technique, but this quilt will always stand tall as being my first of everything in the quilting world.  My pride over floweth on this one.  It means the world to me.  Now, the next decision is the choice of binding.  I hope to have it finished by the end of the month! :)

Monday, January 13, 2014

Problems With Blogger

I was determined to start off the New Year by blogging with more frequency. Evidently, Blogger had other ideas. Unfortunately, I have been unable to load pictures for quite some time now to my posts. Blogger says they are working on the problem but here I sit still waiting...

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

A Story for The New Year

Here is a little story that you may have heard before.  It was sent to me from a fellow employee at work, and I just love it...

When things in your life seem almost too much to handle, when 24 hours in a day are not enough, remember the mayonnaise jar and the 2 beers...

A professor stood before his philosophy class and had some items in front of him.

When the class began, he wordlessly picked up a very large and empty mayonnaise jar and proceeded to fill it with golf balls.

He then asked the students if the jar was full.  They agreed that it was.

The professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the jar.  He shook the jar lightly.  The pebbles rolled into the open areas between the golf balls.

He then asked the students again if the jar was full.  They agreed that it was.

The professor next picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar.  Of course, the sand filled up everything else.

He asked once more if the jar was full.  The students responded with a unanimous "yes".

The professor then produced two beers from under the table and poured the entire contents into the jar effectively filling the empty space between the sand...  The students laughed.

"Now," said the professor as the laughter subsided, "I want you to recognize that this jar represents your life.  The golf balls are the important things-- your family, your children, your health, your friends and your favorite passions-- and if everything else was lost and only they remained, your life would still be full.  The pebbles are the other things that matter like your job, your house and your car.  The sand is everything else-- the small stuff."

"If you put the sand into the jar first," he continued, "there is no room for the pebbles or the golf balls.  The same goes for life.  If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff, you will never have room for the things that are important to you."

"Pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness.  Spend time with your children.  Spend time with your parents.  Visit your grandparents.  Take your spouse out for dinner.  Play another 18.  There will always be time to clean the house and mow the lawn.  Take care of the golf balls first-- the things that really matter... Set your priorities... The rest is just sand."

One of the students raised her hand and inquired what the beer represented.  The professor smiled and said, "I'm glad you asked.  The beer just shows you that no matter how full your life may seem, there's always room for a couple of beers with a friend."