Thursday, April 29, 2010

Baby Quilt - "Berries-n-Blossoms"

An old friend of my husband's had a baby girl a month or so ago. I just love sewing for little girls. I do pink and purple and frilly real well (bugs and transportation and shades of blue are not really in my design portfolio!). I got that Lakehouse Dry Goods hydrangea fabric back when I was making Sophie's dress quilt, but it didn't match. It is, however, just lovely and has a sheen on it similar to the Fairy Frosts. And it coordinated well with another Lakehouse fabric - the cherries.
It's definitely only a crib size 38"46" or so, but a size I can manage to get cut, pieced, quilted and bound in about 4 weeks! It was only an hour or so to quilt. I took a floral/leafy/ribbon swirl design I saw on a website (this lady quilted for me a couple years ago!). I found a couple things she was doing in her flowers that looked better than how I did them. The quilting, though not at all dense, came out pretty, and best of all, girly.
Today it went off in the mail to its new home.
I was short about 10" of having enough of the softer colored backing (long since discontinued), hence the bolder band of dark raspberry!
I have had the luxury of time the last few days, in that quilts are coming for me to quilt, but I can afford to putter on my own quilt. I got the borders on this quilt, after removing it from the frame a week or more ago. I am pleased with how they turned out. You'll just have to wait. I have started the painful ditch quilting too around all of the swirls in the outer corners. One corner down... yikes!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Toot Toot!

So this was my very humble little table at the Project Linus blanket event last month. I know, it is a horrible picture. The light coming in the window is fading the entire shot out. I brought 2 of my favorite quilts (on the table) and the ladybug quilt (hanging). Most of what I have quilted has gone to different owners, not myself, so the best examples of my own quilting were in pictures in an album. In fact, the pink and orange disappearing-9 patch on the front of the table sold to a person in Australia more than a week ago, so I don't even have that now!

And look what arrived this morning with the mail... The May edition of Machine Quilting Unlimitted. I wasn't actually going to believe that I was to be in a magazine until I actually saw it. The pictures are great! So, there's my humble (or not so humble) tooting of my own horn. It's been a rather "heady" ride lately. I love the rewards of hard work like being in the magazine and taking home show ribbons, but now I am just ready to do some great quilting. Time to get serious, and earn all this praise.
Have a great weekend!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Another week goes by

and not a minute too soon! I'm very ready for the kids to be back at school. Did I say Very Ready??

It has been a silly weather week too. Sunday morning (after having temps anywhere from 50 to 80 in the last 4-6 weeks) we awoke to a ridiculous dusting of snow. Kind of pretty on my blooming hyacinths though in a sick sort of way. The snow was gone within a couple of hours, thankfully.
I have quilted a couple of baby quilts this week. No pictures. Nothing interesting to show. I am also working on the portrait quilt for my oldest son's teacher. That I will show in 2-3 days when the binding is finished. It's really cute. I have not the mojo to do much else though. Feeling tired and uninspired, and generally uncreative. Not a good recipe for quilting. As a result, I took my show quilt (shown a week or 2 ago here) off the LA, so that I could "stew and stare" at it for a while before I finish it. Parts of it were bothering me, and it's that old saying "I am my own worst customer". I second guess myself 10 times worse when I know the project/quilt is for myself. Quilts generally come out better and certainly faster when they are for someone else! I have one queen quilt to do this week, and then I will endeavor to finish the silly wall hanging. I did manage to nearly complete a nice quilted tote for my sister-in-law. She supplied some fantastic indogo batiks, some dimensions, and a less than subtle request for a bag! Her's is nice - I like it. I even made a small zippered mini-bag for carrying little things inside of the bag, or perhaps for passports (she's the continental one, living in Rome!). Someday soon I must make one for myself too :-) Sophie has been dropping less than subtle hints about my working on her smocked - aka "Fancy" dress, which is technically for her birthday at the end of the summer, but I want her to have it to wear all summer. I have the smocking 95% done, but must now create the pattern for the bodice, and get going modifying an existing pattern to make this fancy frock that she so wants. Something tells me that introducing her to Fancy Nancy will undoubtedly bite me on the backside! Fancy = $$$ = much time!

I leave you with the last (I promise) picture of my "Summer on the Beach" quilt, and a picture I had a person at the show take for me (only after hearing her talk so kindly of the quilt). The ribbon is 1st place, despite not being blue. For the record, I much prefer a purple ribbon anyways!!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Total Eye-Candy

I went to the Machine Quilter's Exposition yesterday. It was beyond my wildest dreams the things people can do with quilts (with enough thread and time). I uploaded as many pics as flickr would let me this month. Have a look!

View slideshow

Friday, April 16, 2010

The difference a day makes

Today was Sophie's recasting. I realize that it sounds innocent enough, but trust me, it is anything but simple when you are three. The recasting was done in the hospital and under a light general anesthesia. That means, no breakfast. Anxiety. Delays. She was initially scheduled for the 7:45am timeslot. It was 9am when they took her in. I am getting to be an old hand at watching my kiddo get the gas mask put on, but I don't like it. The original casts (in white) had to be changed. She had too much swelling a week ago to go with anything smaller, and the original ones could not possibly be walked in.
(in one of her happier moments!...sitting on the can in the middle of the living room)
The newer casts are purple, and fit like thin socks. In theory she will be walking in these in a few days. Much to my surprise, even after being put to sleep this morning, she's in very good spirits this afternoon. She wanted to go grocery shopping with me, which I was unsure she ought to do without another parent to help. But she did great. I had forgotten what it was like to get a bunch of inappropriate looks from strangers -- as though we inflicted some kind of injury to this child. Unbelievable. As a very young infant, she had casts from birth to about 12 weeks. The looks we'd get used to astound me. But she is doing great, and is counting down the next 34 days.
Here's a customer quilt I will be sending on to it's owner on Tuesday. It's a great 81" round robin quilt.
I did some feather variations, some flowers, and a lot of very detailed quilting.
I hope that the owner will like how her quilt was transformed.

I'm off to MQX tomorrow, and if you are wondering if I am excited, wonder no more. I cannot wait to see the quilts!!! I have spent much time this week (ok, some time -- not too much) on the quilting of one of my quilts. Too much detailed quilting and use of poorer back posture. My back is killing me. I have been quilting around MANY bias strips (go back a post or two for pics) and trying my hardest not to stitch ON the bias strip.
Have a nice weekend and I will most definitely return with some eye candy for all.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Tapping into that Euphoric High

Ever since I found out 2 days ago that I had won a ribbon for my quilt that I entered in the Machine Quilter's Exposition, I have been on cloud nine. I had not stitched in nearly a week, but that afternoon I managed to find the mojo to get started on the quilting of this quilt. It was not until this morning that I got the email notifying me of which award I actually won. I am astounded, honestly. Never in a million years did I think that this would happen to me. My quilt won the Rookie of the Year award, with a monetary (& thread!) prize to boot! Yes, I won the Best of the worst quilters!! Ha Ha! I can hardly wait until Saturday to go to Providence to see the quilts!!

This is a rather small quilt (below) in comparison to many I quilt. It is only about 48" square. Frankly, I couldn't hand applique any more to make it larger, and I don't know where I'd hang it in my house if I had! These are "in works" photos, so I am aware that there are things that need fixing. Namely, there are some applique stitches that need some clever hiding via fabric pens. I am a little disappointed in how flat it is turning out. It has a thin layer of poly batt and a nice wool batt (like what I used on the quilt at MQX). I think that the rather dense quilting is part of what is causing flatness, but the batik fabric is the other. It is a tight weave. Who knows, the quilts always take on a different life when they are off the frame. It may poof up a touch in the end. It's a fine line between wanting to have a good amount of detail quilting, and not wanting to create a quilted board.
I have used 2 different background fillers so far -- the pseudo McTavishing in the darkest background and the pebbles inboard of that. I am quilting radiating rays out from the center (as I am sure you can see - they are marked!).
I have made it out to the 1 week post surgery date. We are one-sixth of the way to getting the casts off. Sophie is doing better in terms of the lung infection and her general ability to move around. She's anxious to get the "walking" casts put on tomorrow. For me, however, this is another adventure with general anesthesia I am not totally prepared for. Despite it being touted as a simple procedure, I am sure it won't be a real simple day. It is, though, one day closer to being through with this process.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

An MQX Ribbon!

I was sure I was a complete longshot. I was pretty positive that with the caliber of quilts that come to a competition/show like MQX that I'd be the laughing stock. Still, I went with the advice of one much more tallented than myself. She suggested I enter this quilt (my first personal quilt to be longarm quilted my me) in MQS in the Rookie division. I thought perhaps she was just being kind, but looked into it anyways. In a more than insanely crazy moment, I sent in the registration for it. Only, to my ignorance, I sent it in to MQX not MQS! After a sequence of emails with her, she told me it's still good experience, but that MQX is harder competition. What the heck, I thought! So since I didn't have in my head that this was a show quilt while it was being quilted, I didn't second guess every stitch. Probably for the better since I am doing that now with a quilt needed by July for a show. After the binding ws done, I put it back on the frame and fixed a few boo-boos in the quilting and a section I apparently just forgot to do!

With all that has happened with Sophie this last week, I just hope to get to MQX on Saturday as planned. I'm very psyched to see all the awesome quilts.

In an update...we took her in to see her regular Pediatrician this morning. The chest infection is not gone. She's better, but still wheezy. We have a home nebulizer for her and Rx for antibiotics & prednesone. Please...let this clear by Friday. She really needs her casts changed, and I have no idea when the next possible time might be.

Ta ta!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

More Firsts

And these are not milestones on a list that I particularly wanted to check off.

We'd been home from the hospital a day and a half and I thought things were looking OK. Sure, we're all feeling a bit stir crazy and tired of hanging out in the living room watching movies. But Sophie was doing OK, and seemed herself much of the time despite the lack of mobility. This morning brought a different day.

She was up at 6am after a most unrestful night. She coughed a lot. I kind of figured it was mucus in her throat from laying down so much the last 3 days. She started the morning out before 6am fussing. This is not her norm. She typically sleeps later, and her disposition does not whine much. She refused to eat. Anything. Another freakish twist. Not even pancakes. She just cried and complained that the tummy hurt. At one point, I think she just gave up fighting with us to eat something and went to sleep for an hour. I hate to give her pain meds for the feet (which she still really needs) without something, however small, in her stomach. Eric managed to get her to eat half a graham cracker all morning. Something was definitely up. And it was not good.

I spoke to the doc oncall from the orthopaedics office to see if this could in anyway be related to the surgery or anesthesia. He (naturally) disagreed, but suggested we have her checked out. If I had not seen her labored breathing I may have dismissed this. But, thankfully I did not. We took her to an acute clinic which is very close. They got us in quickly, and almost immediately I knew something was very wrong. Her pulse O2 was only 92%. Her breathing was most definitely compromised. The doctor there said right off we'd need a nebulizer treatment, and a chest X-ray, and very likely this was going to require a hospitalization. She suspected pneumonia. We were told we needed to go back to Maine Med - where we'd been just 2 days before. I was too caught up in the reality that we were going to have to relive the hospital horror, have to have an IV put in a 3 yr old while she's awake, etc horror, to realize what was happening next. During the nebulizer treatment, two firemen showed up, asking if we needed a ride. They said they had a big truck out front of the clinic. And that they did. The reality sunk in.

We were going to the hospital, and we were going in full emergency style. Actually, an ambulance came moments later, and a stretcher, and many tears. Hers and mine. I've never been in an ambulance and really never want to be again. Not only is it a bit scarry, it is a very bumpy ride. We were not with siren on, going fast either! I suppose it must be protocol for a doctor to call for ER transport when a minor is involved, but we were not expecting it. So here I am, unshowered today. I nearly forgot to put on a bra this morning. And I was starving. And to top it all off, I thought that we were embarking on the second hospital admission of the week. Good God, who needs this life of mine!

We were rapidly seen, and yet a 2nd doc thought it seemed likely it was pneumonia, but we'd do a chest xray to confirm. By that point, I just wanted to get my daughter onto the pediatric floor, allow her to rest and get the medicine she needed. Instead we had to wait in an ER room for nearly 2 hours, waiting for someone to read the xrays. TO our surprise they were negative. Normal. No [pneumonia. Puzzling to me, and maybe to them a little. WHat the heck was it? Is it? She's clearly sick and not normal and coughing A LOT. There needs to be a better explaination, for my methodical mind. The words "It may be a virus" is just too unsettling for adequate peace of mind. The good news is we are home. Sophie did eat some food this evening. She even went outside for a while with me, gladly. We rocked on the porch swing a while. She asked to sit in the grass, and who was I to refuse?! She just needs her life to be as normal as it can be. She loved that, even for 15 minutes. Then we sat on a blanket in the back yard - like a picnic. She chatted away with me, did her first few crawling steps since having the casts. It was a good hour and a half, and hopefully a glimpse at what this week will bring. We have a home inhaler/nebulizer to use with her which hopefully will help this chest illness. She is scheduled to have these casts replaced this Friday, but under a light general anesthesia. I kind of don't think they will even consider this if she's got a nasty hacky cough. And certainly not if she had pneumonia. That thought of delaying the "surgery" was worrysome.

I am supposed to be going to MQX in Providence next Saturday if my household is healthy enough. It seems a world away right now, but there's one small thing to look forward to. Until then, I can check off "been to an ER" and "ridden in an ambulance" from my imaginary list of Life Goals. Been there, done that. Don't really see a need to repeat!

Cheers-the week can only get better from here. Hope to be posting quilty goodness very soon.

Friday, April 09, 2010

Finally home

It seems like it took forever, but we were in and out of the hospital in barely over 24 hours. My sweet Sophie had her long dreaded foot surgery yesterday morning, and is now home. She's resting in a quiet house while the brothers are at school.

I had the hard task of carrying her back to the OR yesterday morning. About the only time I have heard her cry was when we started this trek. She's been so brave. I know that she was in good hands, but I really did not want to leave her lying there unconscious with all of those doctors. She's my baby. This surgery was scheduled to be at most 3.5 hours. They were operating on both feet/achilles tendons. After 2.5 hours, someone came to tell me that the left was done and they were starting the right. Immediately I knew that it was not following their desired plan. I was right. She was under for over 4 hours, and the left foot surgery was more invasive, going into the ankle joint and the fore foot to release tendons. Because the surgery went longer, there was more swelling and her doctor couldn't cast as tightly as desired (ie., she does not have walking casts). She's darn heavy too! In 7-10 days, we have to go back and basically repeat this insanity. She will be recasted then, assuming the swelling subsides. Unfortunately this must be done under general anesthesia again. Even if it's only 30 minutes, it is the ordeal to repeat. And the fear for her. Please, let this end.

I learned yesterday that I just don't want to be ill. Doctors are great, but hospitals are horrendous places to recuperate. Just waiting in the surgical waiting room was stressful. It's a complete slice of society there - polite people, ones that just reek of too much aftershave, ones that just HAD to bring their 4-year old with them but won't take her out to eat when she's whining for food, ones that see nothing wrong with playing internet infomercials loudly, ones that just cannot turn off the ringer on their phones, or speak in a normal inside voice, and my list goes on. Too much of everything you don't need or want.

The children's hospital floor where she spent the night was not much better. A parent should not have to ask the nurses to be quieter every 3 hours throughout the night. One nurse had the audacity to tell me that it was a very busy nurses station. I told her "that rubbish, I can hear you laughing and discussing a party you went to!". It was silent for a couple hours afterwards. They first tried to put us in with another patient (the one that had the sister in the waiting room that whined to eat - and whose parent couldn't find a more appropriate place for her). I just said NO way, get us a private room. It happenned to be right in front of the nurses station and beside the door (another noise source). A step above having a roommate, but far from restful. When Sophie was bored and wanted to play, I knew it was time to get out of there. The ward has a nice playroom, but it is pretty hard when all you can do is sit in a wagon with both casts (below knee) propped on a pillow. We did watch Cinderella twice though.

Phase one is thankfully over. We'll take this a day at a time, knowing that the next 7-10 will be the worst. Luckily our spell of 70's days has ended for a while. It's not so hard to lie around when it's chilly and raining outside.

Have a good weekend...I hope to be sewing and posting cheerier things soon-

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Taking a Deep Breath

At T-minus one day for my youngest kid's surgery, I am feeling more than a bit stressed out. I'm unnerved because I hate the hospital. I hate subjecting her at a mere three and a half to that world. Nothing that happens in the hospital is fun. Perhaps necessary, but not fun. We did our "visit" last night and I almost wish we had not. She hardly said 2 words. The woman who toured us around gave her a stuffed moose to be uer surgery buddy. At bedtime, she tossed it out into the hallway and told me that the moose could sleep with daddy and I. If that doesn't exemplify her thoughts, nothing does. I'll be glad when tomorrow is over, even though things then will be harder than now. I just want my little girl home and not in pain. Casts we can manage with for 6 weeks, but pain breaks my heart.

I have spent the week puttering, partly because I don't really want to start on anything only to leave it for 1-2 weeks. Partly because my mind was not into sewing much. I have prepped a couple of hand sewing things to take tomorrow. And this morning I threw this together. A friend of my husband's had a baby girl last week. I've been hoarding the Lakehouse fabrics for a while now, patiently awaiting a baby girl to make a quilt for. Maybe in a month or so I will manage to get it quilted. At the moment, I have my applique show quilt loaded on the LA, and it will be there for at least a week once I start quilting again!
And since I am showing baby quilts, the next two were completed 1-2 weeks ago for a client who is expecting twin grand-daughters in a few weeks. This is an odd log cabin pattern, made in reverse for the other baby. It is intended to look like two hearts.
The fabrics are not the best (mostly Joann's $3/yard stuff and not overly soft), but I tried to make the quilting as pretty as possible to counteract that. She wanted hearts quilted. I added a layer of batting to make the two feathered hearts trapunto'd. It has a nice effect.
She also wanted a hidden butterfly or two.

The owner was very pleased. I hope and suspect that these will generate some more local business. She claims to have friends that quilt and would love to have a local quilter. Works for me.

And one last note of interest (maybe?!)...I am told that Amy formerly of Park City Girl is doing a short expose on none other than me on her blog. This is scheduled (unless that agenda has changed) for tomorrow. Check it out here if you want. She is the host of the previous two sessions of the Blogger's quilt Festival.

Monday, April 05, 2010

Belated Happy Easter

The camera was being persnicketty so these didn't get uploaded sooner! The kids & I did the eggs on Saturday. They are a dye as well as a metallic paint added afterwards, mostly by my 3 yr old. The boys were anxious to get out and enjoy the unusually warm day, but Sophie wanted to paint all afternoon!
Mamma bunny and her babies, for the annual and mandatory Easter picture. This year it was not in the least bit chilly to be doing this outside. Some years it is a fast phot shoot with many forced cold smiles! It hit upper 70's on Easter - about 20 above what is normal. Talk about Joyous!
This week Big Bertha was getting her first visit to the longarm doc so I was in another mode - operation turn blocks into tops. These are from a block swap last year. Acually it was a row robin that I had blocks made for. Some of the blocks were of suspicious size (ie not correct!) so they were not used. Others were used on 3 table runners I made at Christmastime. This was what I had left. It finishes at about 55"x 65" or so.
These blocks are from the Fresh Comfort Bee. The last 2 arrived last week. I decided I only wanted to use 20 on the quilt since they are larger 14". The other 5 were placed on the backing. Much to my frustration though, I discovered the asymmetry of the top, and that it was not quite layed out like I designed it for. So...this one may take a little pickingout and rearanging. Maybe.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Drawing & Daydreaming

The rain finally stopped and spring has arrived in northern New England. It hit 60F today - glorious. Just glorious. Last weekend I finished this king sized Bento-Box quilt. It was nicely made, and with pretty fabrics. I really makes me think of this quilt, which I made for my son last year (which was all but butchered by a longarm quilter I used once. Just once. I wish I had the longarm then, as this pattern I devised works nicely for it. OK, maybe I didn't create it alone. I have seen variations of it done, but it is not a Panto I kind of stumbled upon it merely by chance one day. I call it "swirly peacock" - not so creative. The owner really liked the quilt. The stitching is in ivory, and just leaves a pretty texture on the quilt.
I took my "baby" in to get it's first minor servicing this morning. It decided this week that skipping a stitch every blue moon was OK. I told it that was not the case, but we apparently did not see eye to eye. I just got the call from the tech that it was a very minor timing issue, and that they totally oiled the inside of it and it seems to be perfect again. Whe I pick up that bohemeth on Saturday, he's going to show me how to do the oiling myself. Funny - (or not), I thought it sounded like it was a tad noisy. Sooo....since I had to drive 45 minutes to take the machine in, I took advantage of being in the same town where Mardens is, and went shopping. Mardens has THE best name brand fabrics, all at $3 yard. Plus they cut very generously. I figured that what I bought was really only $2.50 per yard!
Sophie wants a Fancy dress for her birthday. Mind you, it is at the end of August, but I think if I get it finished, I will let her wear it all summer. And she wants pink. LOTS of pink. It is all I can do to get her into any other color. She and I picked out about 6 yards of these Henry Glass pink/peach prints. No, it clearly does not take 6 yards, but tell a 3-1/2 year old that we are not getting a particular fabric. It is easier to pay another $3 and keep it for some other use. In her defense, however, ruffles do take a good amount of material. And this girl wants ruffles. I sketched out a 2-piece outfit to make. The top will be smocked, and will fall flowy at or slightly below the hip. It will have bows on the shoulders and probably inthe back too. The skirt will have 2 ruffles and will be kind of a patched-peasant style. I think it will be most cute. She can put a long sleeve shirt under it in the fall. I must get the smocking threads pulled this weekend and buy some coordinating embroidery floss. I can start on the smocking while she's at the hospital next week.
I have also been busy sketching out how I will quilt the batik quilt. Normakky I use the Bamboo tablet, but I've done a lot of this in the evenings in front of the tube. I am trying to find that happy middle ground between what I can competently quilt and what can potentially wow a judge.
Check back in a month or so to see if I mastered that task!