Wednesday, December 31, 2008

calling all Julies

Kim has recently posted about all the quilt-bloggers named Kim out there... so I thought I'd toss out a similar quest for quilt-bloggers named Julie (yeah, that's my actual name, for those of you who didn't know!)

And more specifically, how many of you named Julie are "Julie Anne"? I think almost every Julie I've ever known had Anne as a middle name.

I'll add links to bloggers named Julie, and I'll even go so far as to include variations like Julia, if you leave me a comment! Secret confession: I always wanted my name to be Julia, but it's "just" Julie.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Caught

The title of this post refers to the miserable cold I have had since Thursday evening. One of my co-workers had been coughing and sneezing up a storm when I was in the office on Tuesday and I must have picked up a toxic piece of paper from her... small consolation that nearly everyone else in blogland has already had this. I'm expecting to be better for New Year's Eve, since we're having 20+ people over -- I promise to make Al do all the food prep; I'll just sit in a corner with a bottle of bubbly all evening!

Being sick didn't stop me from playing with fabric over the weekend. First, I stitched up the small size of the Mosaic Tile mystery from the "A Pocket Full of Mysteries" yahoo list. (sorry, it's gone... Dorothy only leaves the patterns up for free for a few days). For some reason I can't get this to photograph with the actual color of the ferns -- they're blue-green, not gray.

Here's a close-up of the fabrics. I like the way the black and white dots mimic the similar detail in the butterfly wings.
And -- ta-da: serious progress on the pink house.
I've since added a blue strip at the top, and all it needs is some decoration on the door ( to make it look more like a double door) and a strip of blue on each side. As I mentioned before, this pattern is riddled with mistakes and was a PITA to make. Anyone want the pattern?

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Secret Santa -- revealed!

Here's what I received from Beth in Australia -- an adorable little wall-hanging with embroidered and beaded ornaments, and a covered notebook to match -- along with a bag of authentic Aussie licorice (my favorite!) . Here's a close-up of the ornaments:
And I played Santa for Oddbjorg in Norway. I could see from her blog that she'd been doing some knitting, so I made a knitting needle case for her, and a little square bag from a cool pattern I found at PIQF.
Al and I spent all morning helping to cook and serve a fabulous meal (and wash a lot of pans!) at a local women's shelter; one of my neighbors has gotten involved with them the last couple of years and it was a lot of fun to join in. I had never done this kind of thing before but it's definitely more satisfying -- and tiring -- than just writing a check.

I came home and put a small turkey in the oven and it smells soooo good but it's not done yet. We "missed" Thanksgiving while we were Down Under on vacation, so this is meant to make up for it. No pumpkin pie, though -- what a shame!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

New Quilts!

I keep forgetting to post about the quilt above -- it came from Melinda for the ALQS II swap. I love the bright batiks and the cool quilting!

And today the mailman brought my Spring Fling Round Robin II quilt -- this was made by Liliane in Luxembourg, Luisa in Portugal, and Tami and Susan in the US. I said that red was a favorite color and that I liked bright rather than drab... and definitely got what was coming to me!


The center block is 3-dimensional, and one of the gals added some beading as an accent:Here's a close-up of one of Tami's origami pinwheels in the corner, and more beads:
Did I mention that the hats all got knitted and/or crocheted and mailed off to Seattle? Although they haven't arrived yet despite priority mailing last Friday. I guess it will just stretch out the holiday for the kids! Al did slog through crocheting one hat; unfortunately he insisted on using some yarn that was very tangly ("Homespun" from Michaels) and the hat was a tiny bit wonky... but my niece won't notice.

Hope everyone stays warm and has happy holidays and a long weekend!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

the usual hodge-podge

A couple of people -- Vicki and Kate have been posting about some long-term cross stitch projects they're trying to finish, so I decided it was time to do the same. This one is pretty old -- 1985 or maybe it was more like 1976 -- it's some adorable Kate Greenaway girls. I ran out of at least one of the colors, or maybe I've just misplaced some of the thread? I keep thinking I'll finally finish it for my youngest niece who is turning 6 at the end of January. Or not.

And this is a project my mother started about 40 years ago. She did a ton of stitchy stuff -- started with knitting, picked up crewel embroidery, cross stitch, needlepoint, crochet, and finally quilting before she died 20 years ago. Garment sewing was the one thing she never got the hang of -- I remember one dress she made where one dart pointed up and the other pointed down! I ended up being the dressmaker in the family and I wish I'd saved a couple of the hideous polyester pantsuits she had me make for her...

Anyway, this counted cross stitch was supposed to end up being a purse. She did about half of what's here, and then decided she just couldn't see the stitches anymore (over 40, ya know?) and I took it over. The canvas is really tiny!

After a while I gave up, too. The black was especially hard to work with, and the whole background was meant to be black! It sat in my cupboard for about 30 years, and then one day I saw a blog post or an article about displaying unfinished projects. I had this wooden tray in the closet, too, which my mother had planned to use for something (She was the original family stasher) and -- voila -- I now have the Poppy Fragment on display in my dining room. So far, no one has volunteered to finish it for me!

I decided about three days ago that I needed to make knit/crochet hats for my youngest brother and 3 kids to go along with the 2 scarves I had already made for SIL and youngest daughter. So, I'm knee-deep in two of them... Al decided he should help and asked me to teach him how to crochet last night. Very amusing, since I crochet left-handed and he's right-handed. I finally dug out a book with pictures! I just could not figure out how to hold everything backwards when trying to crochet into the chain. I think he's master single-crochet now, and the pattern calls for double -- so we'll have another session tonight. Think kind and patient thoughts for me, please!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

string theory


I think blogger used to load photos in the order that you chose them, but now it's doing it in reverse and I never seem to remember... so my posts are also being written in reverse because I'm too lazy to drag the pictures around. I keep hearing that there are other/better ways to load pictures, but I'm a creature of habit!

So, the first photo is my sweet little pile of goodies from the Secret Santa Christmas Swap -- they came from Beth in Australia, and I'm going to try very hard NOT TO OPEN THEM until Christmas.

The mailbox has been very very good to me lately. I think I forgot to post that I was one of the winners of the Block Lotto in November -- yeah! I absolutely love these little Amish House blocks, and I won 50 of them! Here are most of the ones that have come so far. I have a couple of ideas about how to set them together, which I'll share shortly. (I've never tried posting designs from EQ6 but it's probably time I learned how to do it...)
And -- relating to the title of this post -- I decided to try the latest craze, so here is my first wrapped plate:
I need to pay a little more attention to which fabric goes where, because the "color blocks" really do show up! And I think I need to find a better quality of cord, because I kept running into this problem:
I think my cord is all polyester, and it definitely liked to bunch up when I wasn't looking. Do the rest of you wrappers have this problem? DH watched me start this one, was very intrigued by the photo on the cover of the book, and was somewhat disappointed that I didn't immediately create something similar! I think I'll hand him one of my scrap bins and a bottle of glue and let him have a try at it.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

where would you go?

Every year for the last few years I've done a work trip to Europe in February -- great timing weather-wise, right? In the past it's involved moving quickly from London to Paris to Munich to Zurich in some combination of meetings.

For 2009, it has been decided that all of our meetings will be held in Barcelona, which is one of my favorite cities. But, I'm thinking it's just not worth going all the way there for only about 3 days of work... so if you were me, where would you go to add on a few days of fun?

In quilty news, I've finished a tablerunner for a swap, and I'll post a photo as soon as it gets where it's going in Las Vegas. I also sent out my SSGS package and my finished Spring Fling Round Robin II quilt. Can't post photos of those, either, so you just have to trust me!

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

photoplay

First off, I've finished up the quilt for the Spring Fling Round Robin II, and will go out in the mail tomorrow or Friday. I can't show a picture of the whole thing until it gets where it's going. And of course I can't wait to see what shows up in my mailbox!
I decided to show off the shopping I did when I was Down Under; I have plans for a fairly simple quilt from all of these. Here's the first set of "Kiwiana" fabrics -- these are mostly FQs, with a meter of the panel pring.
This is more Kiwiana, in fat 8ths -- I just love the prints!
Finally, a few from Australia. My sister had brought me a great set of FQs a couple of years ago when she visited, and I decided I needed to round them out with something neutral... and then the blue ones just came along for the ride!
And -- another finish. This is a cluster-stitch crochet scarf for my "nice" SIL. It's made from Crystal Palace "Waikiki" in the "Tide Pool" color. I think it's a combination of linen and rayon, and it has a nice drape.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

random thoughts at home

Home at last -- the 20 hours of airports and airplanes yesterday was no fun! The good part was that one of my business partners has a SIL who's a senior flight attendant on the run we were on, and she arranged to bump us up to "economy plus" and alerted one of her colleagues to bring us a glass of "good" wine from the front of the plane as a supplement (or antidote) to the cheap swill they offer in economy.

I thought I'd include just a few random photos from the trip, in no particular order. I'll do more later on. First, up above, is the first patchwork I ever did, in 1968 -- I was 16 and I made this for my sister as a wedding shower gift. All the fabric was from other clothes I'd made; the ivory textured stripe was from my sister's wedding dress, and the orange floral (top center) was from my 7th grade home-ec apron! Pretty eclectic selection of styles and colors there...You may remember this from earlier this year... or maybe late last year. It's a Baby Crocodile scarf, finally finished, for my youngest niece.
My sister has a huge number of animals, including a bunch of birds in the house. This one is called "Redbird". I spent way too much time trying to teach him to say "I'm Green!". He's a Superb Parrot, and a real cutie.

And below are just a few of the outdoor birds -- a flock of old turkeys who are apparently too tough to eat. They gobble in unison, about every thirty seconds or whenever something startles them, whichever comes first. Very amusing... thank goodness their coop is on the other side of the house from where guests sleep!
I think I mentioned walking across a swing bridge with my eyes closed half the time -- well, here it is. I do NOT like heights! Too bad you can't see how deep the gorge is here. This was is Abel Tasman park on the north edge of the south island of NZ.
Next up -- this was on a trail to "the center of NZ", in Nelson. There's a small monument at the top of a very steep hill. I paused at this sign, trying to catch my breath, about halfway up. For some reason it just struck me as worth a photo.
Nelson seems to be the peony capital of NZ -- these were in the entry hall of the B&B we stayed at, but they were everywhere else, too. I've never seen such beautiful flowers, and I'm jealous because they just don't grow well in my part of California.
That's probably enough for now, right? I notice that this is post #200 -- which certainly merits a give-away of some sort. So, watch this space for an announcement in the very near future!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

More T-day wishes

Here we are on our last full vacation day in Hobart; it's Friday here but still Thanksgiving back home. I miss the leftovers more than the big dinner, so I'm planning to rustle up a turkey and some of the trimmings next weekend!

Tomorrow is a million hours on airplanes and sitting in airports. The fun part is that we arrive home before we've left here, due to the date-line. It would be great if I could sit and crochet, but the Aussies haven't figured out that my ballpoint pen is actually more dangerous than a bamboo crochet hook, and I haven't figured out how to crochet with my pen!

I miss my sewing machine a lot, and can't wait to get home and finish up a couple of little projects that need to be mailed off. See you soon!
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Friday, November 21, 2008

NZ -- day 9

Is that right? I've lost track... We are leaving the south island today for a few days in and around Auckland, including the big guild quilt show tomorrow.

Things to remember to tell you about: blue penguins in Oamuru, the WOW museum, and the wonderfulness of Kaikura!

Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Monday, November 17, 2008

NZ -- day 6

Had a long, pretty but ultimately monotonous drive South yesterday and ended up at Whataroa. It's the place to go for jet-boat tours into a lagoon where white herons nest and it's the only place in NZ where they do! It was raining buckets from 4pm on, but the weather was a bit nicer this morning; the ride was exhilarating and the birds were beautiful. Too bad most of my photos are out of focus... Don't know what I'm doing wrong with the camera. Maybe I should read the manual?

Today, a lovely drive trough mountains and lakes to Queenstown. Al is out riding on an old steamboat, but I decided that two boatrides in a week is enough for me!

Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Friday, November 14, 2008

New Zealand -- day 3

We arrived in Nelson slightly bedraggled after 3 flights, including a 1k sprint from one terminal to another to catch our connection in Auckland! Here's the quick version, withdetails and photos to follow:
- really friendly people everywhere
- swinging bridge over a gorge in Abel Tasman park (with my eyes closed half the time)
- great salmon!
- driving on the left -- it's SO wrong!

Cheers -- we're off to the market.
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Monday, November 10, 2008

Up and Away

I've been trying to get in a little quality time with my sewing machine, since I'll be leaving town tomorrow and won't get my "fix" for nearly three weeks! I'm taking some yarn-y projects to work on, but it's just not the same.

The photo above is my six "Amish Houses" for this months block lotto. I really hope I win this month -- if I keep saying that, maybe it will happen. I think these are so cute!

And the photo below is my finished "Black and White..." quilt, which I've renamed "Nine Puzzles" because each block has "puzzle" in its name. I quilted this up and finished it quickly when I found out that an old friend had separated from her husband and was trying to set up a new apartment. I was totally surprised when I went to a house-warming, post-election celebration and brought the quilt -- and discovered that her kitchen floor was big black & white tiles, and one wall was painted red! It's a perfect fit. (It's also a sad thing to have happen after they've been together for 20 years... not made much more palatable by knowing that it was her decision rather than his)
Life goes on. We're heading for Auckland tomorrow. Someone told me today that it's pronounced "Oakland" -- which is a funny thing since Oakland is my home town. I guess I'd better finish up the laundry and the packing!

Sunday, November 09, 2008

this is a test

Since I'm getting ready to go on vacation for the rest of the month, I thought I'd try out the "email to blog" thing to see how it works. So -- this is only a test; if it were a real blog post, there might be some amusing anecdote or quilty news. Alas, no.   I will try to post a photo or two before I leave town, though!

Sunday, November 02, 2008

building a new house... and pattern rant!

When I arrived at PIQF a couple of weeks ago, one of the first quilts that caught my eye was in the booth run by Laura Nownes' and Diana McClun's pattern company, "From Me to You" -- they're the famous duo who wrote "Quilts, Quilts, Quilts" and several other books, and their books were among the first I bought when I got bitten by the bug.

Anyway, they had this super-adorable house quilt, that I instantly knew I HAD to make for my youngest niece. Bought the pattern, came home, started sewing... pretty soon discovered that there were a couple of errors in the pattern that weren't insurmountable, but definitely required some ripping and re-calculating and rummaging in the stash for more fabric -- all of which would make this a frustrating project for someone who wasn't too experienced and was expecting "clear instructions"! So, I wrote a pleasant email to the "contact" address, pointing out the two errors I'd found up to that point.

The response I got back was quick but less than satisfying. Laura said: "I did have the patterns checked out but will double-check and get back to you later today. The bricks make more than needed so you should be fine. thanks for letting me know." That was a few days ago; haven't heard anything more, but I've since run into another less-than-clear part of the pattern.

So. Yes, the bricks make more than needed, but only of you rip apart some of them and re-sew them back together in a different configuration. The other part of it was telling you to have enough fabric to make 8 strips when in fact you need 13 of them. I would expect that two quilters of this caliber who are charging $10 for each pattern would have had a couple of qualified testers actually make the quilt from the pattern before it goes to print! And I would have expected something along the lines of "sorry for the hassle"!

Anyway, I notice that they don't have this pattern on their website -- have they taken it down or was it never there? So you'll have to just believe me about the adorable-ness! And here is my progress to date -- I've got half of the leaves & sky done, too but I can't attach them until the roof is on. Isn't that flower-garden fabric the best? I had actually bought a yard of it to make my niece a skirt, but then when they used it on the quilt, the skirt idea went right out the window!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

black and white and ...

I don't remember the old joke that ended with "black & white & red/read all over" -- but here's my newest top with that name. The inside blocks were from a swap with Julie H, and then I tilted them and put them together. It's probably brighter than it looks in the photo. I seem to be doing a lot of black & white with something lately... what's that all about?

And now a sneak peek at my Halloween costume...
too bad you can't see through these things!

Friday, October 24, 2008

who's quilting?

Lots of quilty content tonight -- for a change! Up above is my ALQS quilt, which will go off in the mail shortly. I can't tell you the name of it, 'cause that might give too much away... I just love these cats!

Next up, can someone tell me why I bought this fabric? **
I've finished quilting and binding the two little quilts for my fall-into-fall giveaway, and they will also go out in the mail as soon as I put some kind of labels on them. Here is Purple Truck
and A Cup of Tea With Mom
PIQF was a blast last weekend. There are a ton of photos in two "PIQF 2008" folders on my flickr site. I had the excellent good fortune to meet up with Tami from Lemon Tree Tales, and Cheri from Jovaliquilts, as well as two non-bloggers -- Gayle and Charlotte from New Zealand (whom I hope to see next month at the show in Auckland!)

At the end of the show on Sunday, I wandered by a booth of African fabric and baskets run by a woman from Seattle, who really didn't want to have to pack all that bulky stuff up to take home -- so I bought a few FQs and this lovely big Ghanaian basket for my farmers' market trips. It's living in the trunk of my car so that I don't have to remember to take it with me (I also threw a bunch of tote bags in the trunk -- finally -- for the grocery store!)
Last but not least, I've gotten some birthday blocks done for a swap on the about.com forum -- photos are in flickr. I'm trying to get a little bit ahead before going on vacation in (less than) 3 weeks.

** almost forgot this part -- there is an online store called Colorful Cottons that has been trying to go out of business for years, and I think she's finally going to do it. Everything is on sale for ridiculous prices. A couple of caveats: 1) she is very slow to ship 2) the fabric is almost always brighter than her pictures show. Having said that, if you want some good quality, colorful fabric, and you're flexible about timing and things selling out -- check it out!

Don't forget to vote! And vote early, if you can...