Word of the Day!

Word of the Day

Friday, January 30, 2009

I have been named a Kreativ Blogger by Donna at Donna's Den. I feel so special now. :)

The rules of the award are: 1. Copy the award to your site - 2. Link to the person from whom you received the award - 3. Nominate 7 other bloggers - 4. Link to those on your blog - 5. Leave a message on the blogs you nominated.

Well, I don't follow a lot of blogs really regularly, I'm pretty sporadic about it, so I will not be giving this award to seven other bloggers. So, here are my nominations:

1. Elle at SewDucky, because I like her style (crazy fabrics and vintage patterns, yay!)

2. Lisa at Made By Lisah, because she makes pretty things and has a blog that is (partly) about books

That's all for nominations!

In other news, I made the first block for my bed quilt today. It's called Moon Over the Mountains, and I got it out of Georgia Bonesteel's Lap Quilting (Which I got off of Bookmooch, along with New Ideas for Lap Quilting.)

The curved seams were not as difficult as I had feared, and I really like the spare, graphic look of this block. There are some other fabrics I want to experiment with for this block, too.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

My baby is back!

I got my sewing machine back, finally. It hadn't actually been serviced, after all that time, but Brandon, my handy husband, oiled and cleaned it thoroughly for me, so it's purring like a kitten. I won't go into the whole story here; I'll just say the Sears employee that we dropped the machine off with did not inspire confidence, and most of the foreboding that I felt was justified. Except it didn't get dropped in the highway somewhere between Clovis and Albuquerque and come back to me a mangled wreck, which was my worst-case scenario.

The Sunday before I got it back I borrowed my mother-in-law's machine again (A vintage Pfaff, and wow, you can tell it is well-made. So nice to run.) and doodled around with some batik swatch bits I had and made a cake stand block.

For some reason lately I have been obsessed with this block, sketching different ideas and such, just waiting to get my machine back. It is strange, because the first cake stand quilt I saw in a quilting book scared me. It was in ugly colors, for one, and those strange spiky things on top don't look like any cake I want to eat. But now I like it.

After I made the batik cake stand (or cake plate) block, I was on the internet looking up some other quilt thing, and found the same block but named Cactus Pot. Now that explains the spiky things. Here is my most literal rendition of a Cactus Pot.

I have been planning to make myself a queen size bed quilt, and mentally auditioning different patterns. I've decided now: I will do a sampler. Just all different kinds of blocks, out of scraps, whatever blocks catch my fancy. Some of the blocks that I've made in the past and never found a use for will find a home in this quilt. I'll just do blocks in between my other projects. I'll get to try all kinds of new techniques out.

The big thing that I decided I had to do when I got my machine back was bedroom curtains. I purchased five yards of home dec. fabric about a year ago for this, but I hate sewing curtains (such an expanse of fabric to keep straight and square, so many long, long straight seams), so I've been putting it off. Yesterday I finally buckled down and just did it, and here they are:

I love the fabric, and they turned out just like I wanted them to. Did I mention that the fabric was on sale for $2 a yard? Sometimes sewing your own really can save money.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009


I sneaked off to my mother-in-law's house yesterday morning and used her sewing machine. I checked a book out form the library, Patchwork, Quilting, and Applique by Linda Steward. An older book, copyright 1987, but I recommend it for variety of techniques covered and step-by-step instructions. Anyway, it has a section on Seminole Patchwork, and I've been wanting to try it, and I have a friend who just got married, and I wanted to make her something.

Since I've been rechecking the book, and am now out of renewals, I knew I needed to get this done pretty soon.

Seminole patchwork is a lot like the common quilting technique of strip piecing, except it gets a lot more intricate and the sections are offset to get diagonal designs. It was developed by the Seminole tribes in Florida during the early part of the 20th century, and traditionally is used on clothing more than in bedding or quilts. The history is interesting, but too lengthy to go into here. See the link above.

There is a tutorial for a simple Seminole patchwork project here.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Holiday backlog, sewing machine still in the shop...sigh. There are some things I'd really like to get started on, here.

When I got married, my aunt gave me a quilt made by my great-grandmother. She had saved one for each of the female cousins. My sister got a grandmother's flower garden, and I got this:I had stored it in a chest until the beginning of this month, when I figured I might as well quit being afraid of messing it up and enjoy it a little bit. I will take it off again and put it back up in a few weeks. It is pretty old, but I'm not sure exactly how old. The quilting is all by hand, and much of the piecing appears to be, as well. I love the color scheme, the egg yolk yellow and the bright red. The fabric of the top seems to have been purchased just for this quilt, but the backing looks like it might be partly of bleached feed or flour sacks.

I looked on the Internet to find out what that pattern is called. I looked and looked, but it is hard to google something you don't know the name of. I looked for round quilt blocks, starburst blocks, sunburst blocks, and just paged endlessly through online lists of quilt block templates, and got nowhere.

Then I went to the library (have I mentioned how I LOVE THE LIBRARY?!) and paged through random quilt books until I found a picture of a quilt in the same pattern. It is called a Sunflower, or Russian Sunflower. Knowing the name, I found a few examples online, and a template, which I will try someday when I learn how to do curves and set-in seams. It's a little beyond my ability right now.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Tagged: 25 Random Things

I have been tagged by SewDucky for 25 Random things about me.

1. My favorite color is blue. But I also like green, red, yellow, brown, and basically all other colors, even pink. Sometimes.

2. When I was 12 or 13, I wanted to be a bush pilot (in Alaska) when I grew up.

3. When I was 14, I decided I was going to be a writer, and I sent my first short story to Analog Science Fiction. It was promptly rejected.

4. My first car was named Sparky. My second car was named Alex.

5. I have totalled three cars (one of which was Alex), plus one that was "totalled" by the insurance company, but I drove it for months afterwards (and I was rear-ended for that one). I really, really hope that that is my lifetime quota of car wrecks.

6. My resume includes approx. 2.5 months spent as a goat-herder in New Mexico.

7. Last month I finished the first draft of my first novel. No one gets to read it yet, it still needs a lot of work (And all those post-its? That's me trying to organize it.)

8. I've started at least four other "novels" since I turned 18, which were never finished. I can't even remember my lifetime count of novel attempts. I always wanted to write books. Well, since I learned to read, anyway.

9. Actually, in first grade, I didn't care for reading at all.

10. Then I got good at it, and read books while walking to school, during class, and pretty much any other time I could manage it. My parents would try to ground me from books. Word to the wise: it's easy to ground kids from TV, but books are much smaller, quieter, and easier to hide.

11. I love dark chocolate, but have never cared for white chocolate (I don't even think it is really chocolate.)

12. I love animated movies. My favorite is probably Lilo and Stitch, but I also like Mulan a lot. And Ice Age. That squirrel is pretty funny.

13. It's a good thing I've got spell check, because I had no idea how to spell squirrel.

14. I have at least seven UFO (unfinished objects) laying around my sewing room, and one on my knitting needles. One of them, at least, will never make it to the status of finished object, but I can't make myself throw it away.

15. My favorite food is a good hamburger, OR breaded fried shrimp, if it's done right.

16. My nickname the second year of college was Pixiestick.

17. In the Peace Corps, several of my friends occasionally referred to me as the Carne Queen, because I was always on the lookout for a good burger or a good steak (both rare in Ecuador).

18. I love bacon.

19. Milk and eggs, however, top the list of "Perfectly Good, Nutritious Foods that Amanda Doesn't Like".

20. Clubs/Organizations I have belonged to: (in elementary, junior high, & high school) 4-H, FFA (Future Farmers of America), National Honor Society; (In college) Renaissance Club, Table Gaming Club; (Currently) Panhandle Professional Writers, Pens and Pages Writer's Guild

21. For a short time right before I got married, I was certified as an EMT (Emergency Medical Technician).

22. I was voted "Most Bashful" two years running in High School.

23. I only take my watch off for showers, and yet somehow, I still tend to be late.

24. Approximately six months before I met my husband, I actually said the words "I will never marry a farmer".

25. I volunteer at a food pantry/clothing closet (Bread of Life Ministries) and it's one of the most rewarding things I've done.

Whew! It's hard to come up with 25 things and still keep it kind of interesting. Hope nobody dozed off.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Murphy's Law: A Textbook Example

Brandon and I have been trying to get everything lined up to become foster parents. It is complicated by the fact that we live in the middle of nowhere (the first place we applied to didn't do foster care outside of a 60 mile radius, which they didn't bother to tell us until AFTER we had filled out a ten page application and sent it in.) So now we are going with DFPS (also to be referred to as the State). We have PRIDE classes three hours a week for the next two months. The first class was this Tuesday. PRIDE is an acronym for Parents' Resource for Information, Development and Education.

Tuesday was also my writer's group meeting. That was at 10:00 a.m. and the PRIDE training started at 6:30. No problem.

As the meeting ended, one of the other ladies noticed that my right front tire was extremely low, and so one of the other women showed me to the tire repair place, where they were very nice and had it fixed within twenty minutes. It had three nails in it (ah, the joys of living on a dirt road). I went to the fabric store and to the grocery store, and when I came out of the grocery store, the same tire was COMPLETELY flat. Way too flat to drive on. So I called the tire shop, and on the second try (everyone was gone for lunch) got someone, who told me it would be a few minutes before they would be able to send a guy to help me.

It was only about five minutes, actually. He aired it up so I could limp on over to the shop, where in another twenty minutes it was fixed, really this time. And of course they didn't charge me for the second go-round, so that was fine.

I got home and had barely forty-five minutes to eat and get everything straightened up and put together before we had to leave for Amarillo (we were allowing some extra time for a quick trip to Joann Fabric and to eat at the Country Barn Steakhouse). Before I left, I gave a brief thought to double-checking the address and meeting time of the class, but I DIDN'T DO IT for some reason.

As we finished up supper, Brandon and I realized we didn't remember the exact address of the DFPS office, or how to get there, and so we called various relatives until we got some directions. My sister knows a social worker, and his mom has the internet, so between the two of them, we got the info we needed.

Then we got to the DFPS office and there was NO ONE THERE (except a lady who was crying and obviously in the middle of something). The class was not at that office, and we had no cell phone numbers of the class leaders, or anyone at DFPS.

Brandon said "I bet it's at Amarillo College." And that sounded vaguely familiar, so we drove over to the main campus. It was dark, at this point, and we were already half an hour late, but it is a three hour class. There wasn't much going on at the college. By wandering through buildings with concentrations of cars near them, we found an evening lab class and chorus practice, but no PRIDE. I called my sister, who found out from her friend that PRIDE training is not held in any one place - sometimes it is at the college, and sometimes at a church building or a private home. We were getting desperate, and the only option that wouldn't result in us turning around, having made the 1.5 hour drive for nothing was to call Brandon's wonderful mother again, and ask her to do us a big, big favor.

We asked her to drive 20 minutes to our house, let herself in, find our folder with the address we needed, and call us on the cell phone to let us know where we were supposed to go. She agreed! We were saved!

This is where Murphy's Law kicked in. She would have called us on the cell phone to let us know the address, but Plateau cellular network picked that time to go kablooey. I think that's the technical term.

Flashback to us in the car, waiting, and waiting. It's dark and slightly chilly. After 25 minutes, Brandon couldn't stand it anymore and called Sherry's cell phone. Immediate busy signal. He tries again, same thing. I try to text her, and my phone won't send the text, even though I have full signal.

Brandon calls my phone, just to test. Busy. I'm not using my phone. We call the house phone, hoping that Sherry is there and will pick it up. The house phone rings. For ten minutes, we repeat dial the house, before coming to the conclusion that Sherry isn't going to answer it, and she must have turned around and gone home. Hopefully after finding the file, but who knows?

So we wait another twenty minutes. Brandon calls his dad, just to see if Sherry has called. The phones will call out, luckily. After a few minutes, he calls his dad again, and Sherry is just walking in the door. She gives us the address.

One and a half hours after we were supposed to be at the class, we got there. It was at the southwest campus of Amarillo college. We banged on a door until the janitor let us in.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Christmas Presents, Round 3: More quilty things

This wallhanging was made for my mother-in-law, because I wanted to make her something, and she has recently redecorated her living room with a loose theme of "old barns and houses". I learned a lot doing this, as it was the first larger-than-a-potholder freehand quilting project I've done. I also used a quilting design out of a book from the library to do the rope quilting on the borders. It turned out well, but would have been INCREDIBLY time consuming to do on anything larger.

Today, after making this wallhanging and a quilt that used a lot of flannel scraps, I checked out a book from the library that would have helped a lot. One tip - if your flannel is floppy and hard to work with because of loose weave, spray it with starch to make it easier to cut and piece. That would have helped me a lot. But at least I know now.

This next thing doesn't look like a quilt at all, but I found the instructions in a quilting book. It was another present for Connor, who as the first grandchild in my family, was spoiled entirely. It is made of twelve pentagons hand-sewn together using the English paper-piecing method. One little ball wasn't that bad, but I can tell you: I ain't gonna be doing a whole quilt that way. Unless, you know, we need to stay warm after the nuclear holocaust, when there are no sewing machines.

I got my instructions partly out of a quilting book from the library (I love the library) and when they were too vague, off of this blog. Brandon got to use his new drill to drill holes in an asprin bottle to put a bell inside. I tied the bell to the inside of the bottle with a twisty tie from a bread bag (so it would only make a "jingle, jingle" noise, instead of "thump, jingle, jingle, thump". Worked like a charm. And Connor liked it. Eight month old babies are a pretty uncritical audience, though. He was pretty thrilled with the wrapping paper, too.

Christmas Presents, Round 2: the wearables

Well, I took a sort of break from blogging (went to visit my dad's side of the family in Ohio for a week) without getting around to showing the rest of my Christmas goodies.

This vest I made for my dad. I was quite pleased with both the notched collar and the welt pockets, which were both new techniques for me.

For my brother-in-law and nephew, I made matching shirts in a motocross fabric. My sister told me that Jonathan likes for them to match sometimes. The adult shirt is modeled here by the ever-patient Brandon, who is not only the model, but also the stand-in fitting dummy, for all male garments made in the house.

In other news, I am giving my sewing machine a well-deserved break and sending it to the sewing machine spa (i.e. the Sears repair center). Knowing I have nothing to sew with gives me this awful urge to sew things now.