Monday, March 26, 2012

I feel like a rock star!

Today I received a very special squishy in the mail (maimed by the U. S. Postal Service, with their apologies, but contents still intact).  It was a bundle of beautiful fat quarters from Quiltmaker Magazine.  Why?

Because I am part of the Block Testing Team for Quiltmaker's 100 Blocks, Volume 6!!!  Yes, me!!

I hadn't said anything yet because I had not yet received the fine print, but it was enclosed with the fabric.  Although I may tell others that I am part of the 100 Blocks Testing Team, I may not post or share pictures with anyone other than Quiltmaker staff until they have a promotion plan ready to launch.  I MAY take pictures along the way so that I am ready to post and share online at that time.  And I will!!!

I own volumes 2, 3 and 4 of the magazine and love them.  My Ghastlies quilt (in progress) is from one of them.  My shoes wallhanging (in progress) is from one of them.  I plan to make something using the Going Coastal fabric with a pattern from one of them.  Back in December when we had a guild challenge to make several blocks from one piece of fabric given to each member of the guild, I made several different blocks from the magazine issues because they were so easy to resize from 12" (finished) to the 9" specified by the guild.  Each member got one drawing entry for each block made, and three members took home the blocks.  In fact, one block I made was so popular that at last month's meeting the owner came to ask who had done it and where she could find the pattern! So I am an ardent admirer of the magazine and am SO excited to be in on the ground floor for Volume 6!

So stay tuned, I will share info as soon as I'm allowed!

Finally, a winner announced ...

... first, let me apologize for being so late on the ball here.  We had a weekend away with the kids complicated by my eldest stepdaughter being so sick she required hospitalization and bedrest for the rest of the weekend with my Honey spending time with her only at her mother's house.  We generally have use of a second vehicle while we're up there but it was not starting and at the very last second we had to rent a second car for the weekend so that neither of us needed to sacrifice kid time.  It's a major orchestration of minutae (remember, the dog comes with us, which is another wrench in the machine), and the giveaway had to wait until we were back home and rested.

Now, secondly, I have to say that I have profound respect for those who coordinate a giveaway on their blogs with thousands of comments.  I don't know how you count them all.  For me it involved a lot of copying and pasting from my blog to Excel, then fancy calculations of the =if(right(B2,2)="AM", A1+1, if(right(B2,2)="PM", A1+1, A1)) variety in order to make sure that the right number was given to each feedbacker (feederbacker?  backfeeder?  ugh)  and then giving the extra entry to followers who commented prior to the official begin, with verification against my email (once I discovered that the timestamp on my blog was off but my emailed version of the comment had the official time of receipt).  It took a while!

So, without further ado, from 255 official entries, of which 24 were "bonus" entries for previous followers, the winner is:

.... Charlene S!  She wrote in answer to my question about teens, "When they turn in to teens, you lose all sense by their standards. That changes once they reach 30. If you make rules, stick to them no matter what! Give them respect by listening but demand respect too - you are the parent not their friend"  So thanks to Charlene I know I have two more decades before these little people turn "normal" again.  I think I'll start counting the days!  ;-)

It was actually her "follower bonus entry" that won the prize, so there you go - it pays to stay on top of your blog feeds!  Charlene, I'll be sending you email to ask for your mailing address so I can get these goodies off to you.

Thanks to ALL who visited and left comments.  My Honey and I have enjoyed reading them all and hopefully I've replied to all of you who had a valid email address ... unless you commented after Friday afternoon when the weekend began for me. I wish I could give prizes to everyone but the best I can do is pass along the clearance announcement at one of my favorite online quilt stores, Burgundy Buttons.  They really have some great prices on clearance fabric and precuts, so go check it out.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Progress on Spanish Treasure

I made some progress on Spanish Treasure last night - laying out all the blocks on the floor (even though I had to lock the cat in the bathroom for a while when I got them organized ... what is it about quilt pieces laying on the floor that invite animals to lie on them?  At least the dog goes away when I tell him to!).  I wanted a nice mix of colors, busy vs. simple patterns, and yet I also wanted each block to pick up some colors from those around it.  To that end, I may have too many greens towards the bottom of this photo, but for the most part, I like how it's been put together.  However, I'll admit that this is a project that someone with a better sense of color could rearrange in a gorgeous blending of color and tone.

I began sewing the first two of eleven rows together.  My Honey has a business dinner tonight so I should be able to finish the rest of them tonight and maybe even put the top together and start on borders if I don't putz around too much after I work out and get home.

I'm blown away by all the comments I'm getting on my giveaway!  So far I'd say that the top three pieces of advice for dealing with teens are 1) LISTEN, 2) don't sweat the small stuff/pick your battles, and 3) be a parent, not a friend (a more challenging position for stepparents but still basically good advice).

I also finished the quilting on Jacob's Ladder, although I have no new photos to show you.  I want to get it bound and washed first (fingers crossed that the reds don't run into the whites too much ... a big chance when working with swap blocks, but I've got lots of Dye Catcher sheets) before I take any more pics.

Friday, March 16, 2012

It's Giveaway Time!!!

Blog Hop Party with Give-Aways

Thank you to the Quilting Gallery for hosting the Quilter's Blog Hop Party!  Somehow they were reading my mind and knew that I had something to give away and thought they'd help direct some traffic this way.  :-)

If you've never visited before, welcome!  I'm Kristen (Ten for short, hence the name of the blog), and I am a wife (as of January), mother, stepmother, full-time data analyst, volunteer Court Appointed Special Advocate, quilt guild member, pet owner, and, since last year, blogger.  I have been quilting for over twenty years and really NEED that time to sew in order to keep my sanity.  I have quotation hanging in my sewing room which reads, "I cannot count my day complete/til needle, thread and fabric meet" and it is very true ... I feel like I missed out on an important element of my day if I have done no sewing whatsoever.

Here is a small collage (thanks to Picasa and the instructions at Skip to My Lou) of some of the projects I've featured here since I began the blog.

Now, about the giveaway!  Here's the thing:  my Honey is the most supportive husband a quilter could ever have.  He does not ever seem to think that I already have enough fabric, and every Christmas he buys me more!  This past year, he bought me half yard cuts of a number of fabrics from Kate Spain's Terrain line; the line was on my wish list but I was (of course) thinking precuts.  I couldn't think about what to do with them, so I bought some charm packs to supplement, and then a layer cake of her Good Fortune line, and then I ended up making a quilt top almost entirely of what I'd bought to supplement his gift and cut only small bits of a few of his fabrics!  Oops! So I feel compelled to share the wealth.

I am giving away seven fat quarters (is that a baker's half dozen?) of Terrain, and the classic M'Liss Rae Hawley book, "Fat Quarter Quilts."

Most of the quilts in the book start with six coordinating fat quarters and I've thrown in a seventh for some variety. 
To enter, I'm not going to require to be a follower or anything, just be sure that you have a valid email address either as part of your Blogger profile or in the body of your comment.  I will try to reply to every comment before the giveaway closes on Friday, March 23, although it may take me a few days.  However, it occurred to me yesterday that this year all three of our children will be in double digits this summer, I'm panicking a little bit.  So I'm asking for advice:  what is the MOST IMPORTANT THING to remember when dealing with teenage or pre-teen kids?  Even if you don't have kids or yours aren't that old yet, you were surely a teenager once yourself and have some words of wisdom!  Please leave a comment with your answer for a chance to win!  And remember - followers who comment before midnight tonight (Friday, March 16) automatically get a second entry ... no second comment needed.

Thanks for visiting and good luck - I'm looking forward to reading the comments!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Free sewing day!! Woo hoo!

Okay, by "day" I mean evening, but still.  I was supposed to go from work to a business dinner tonight with my Honey and one of his colleagues coming into town, but it turned from a casual thing with spouses to a departmental thing (I work for the same company but a different department) so I was uninvited.  At first I was annoyed at missing out on a free meal at one of my favorite restaurants but then I started thinking about all the other stuff I could do instead!  So after work I will go get a pedicure, then grab Taco Bell (did you know that their chicken soft taco, fresco style, is only 150 calories and low in fat?  A pair of those with some fire sauce for flavor makes a great quick and healthy meal!), and get home and SEW.  I'll just have to decide if I feel like quilting Jacob's Ladder or piecing top and borders on Spanish Treasure.

Last night I cut the fat quarters for the upcoming giveaway and so I am all ready to take some photos and put  up a blog post tomorrow morning. 

And in other exciting news, when my Honey got his bonus check earlier this month he teased me about buying me my longarm quilting machine.  I know the money has got to go toward the house, though, and told him so.  So he said, "well, maybe I can buy you some fabric then."  Well, yes, yes he can!  I had been sad that I put Emily Herrick's "Going Coastal" on my Christmas list but didn't get any and it's starting to disappear.  But I've found that Lilly Bella Fabrics carries the whole line, and will even cut fat quarters!  Seriously, how can you not adore this fabric??

So now I just need to decide what I want to make with it and make sure I order enough of it.  That plaid especially reminds me of an old bedspread we used as a beach blanket back when we owned a house on the Jersey shore, and of course my mouth waters whenever I see blue crabs.  What fabric line are YOU dying to get your hands on before it's gone?

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

... and it's off!

I promised a pic of me showing off Gothic Windows at quilt guild this month when it was published, and it was up on the guild's site this morning.  It's a rather unflattering picture, between the lighting and me being in the middle of saying something, but it does show the size of the quilt well:

I put it in a priority mail envelope headed to Harrisonburg yesterday afternoon.  I almost didn't have time to think about it - it was gone before I knew it!  The color of the quilt in this pic is a bit truer.

I had a box arrive from yesterday.  I've never ordered from them online before but they had great prices on the quilt stencil spray (I bought two cans - the store was out) and Mary Ellen's Best Press, which I love to use.  They had flat-head pins on sale and none in the store, and I also bought some Machinger's gloves for machine quilting.  They definitely have a more extensive selection online than in the store and if you can add a deal for a discount or free shipping it's a good route to go.  I just wish the order-to-receipt process had been faster since it took well over a week and Amazon has spoiled me!

I cut the last of my border pieces for Spanish Treasure last night and might have some time to do some piecing tonight.  I really, really want to cut Sunday short and be home in time to sew this weekend, but whether I will return to machine quilting Jacob's Ladder or piecing top and borders of Spanish Treasure will be the predicament!

Finally, I'm very excited that I will be testing blocks for a future Quiltmaker 100 Blocks volume!  Requests for volunteers went out on Facebook yesterday, I shot a few emails agreeing to terms, and now will just wait to see what comes to me.  I know I complain about being overloaded, but two weeks to test and evaluate some block patterns is not unreasonable, and will be more fun than some of the other things I have going on.  I'm very excited since these magazines are a must have and I'm in on the ground floor!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

a finish

I have been feeling overwhelmed lately.  We have too many weekends on the road to see the kids or other things (wedding celebrations, including two of our own) and not enough time at home during the week to get stuff done.  Luckily my Honey is excellent about picking up the domestic slack with cooking, cleaning and grocery shopping so that I can get some feeling of accomplishment in my sewing room at night.

I did finally completely finish the Gothic Windows small quilt for the Virginia Quilt Museum fundraiser in time for their first of several deadlines.  It measures 16.5" on each side.

There seem to be only two ways to photograph - with flash and color distortion, or without flash but with shadows. Again, the tutorial to make these super easy blocks from jelly roll strips is here at Happy Quilting, even though credit goes to Pat at Color Me Quilty for writing it!

I finished piecing the last of the 88 Spanish Treasure blocks last night and began cutting and piecing the pieced second border.  The fabric I bought for the third border and the backing is en route.  If we were home this weekend I might have a second finish for the week, but then again, it will take a while to lay out these blocks.  I also need to take some time to prepare my giveaway for the Quilting Bloggers Blog Hop Party and Giveaway.  The prize will be a lucky 7 fat quarters of Terrain and M'Liss Rae Hawley's classic book, "Fat Quarter Quilts," published in 1999, so that the winner can select six favorites from the array and, with one coordinate, make a quilt!  Remember to come back to comment on the giveaway post after noon on Friday before the party starts so you can get a bonus entry!

After I have Spanish Treasure pieced it must get put aside so that I can piece the border for my Civil War Chronicles BOM quilt.  I'll take both together to my longarm quilter and have her quilt Spanish Treasure but baste Civil War Chronicles for hand quilting.

After that I need to refocus on finishing a charity quilt and a few foundation paper pieced projects.  I seem to lose interest in those most quickly.

I've heard that spring has arrived here in southwestern Virginia but, being holed up in a climate-controlled office between 8 AM and at least 5 PM but usually closer to 6:30, I wouldn't know.  Maybe one of these days I will try to get out of the building for lunch but it won't be today.  Those of you who can at least see the outdoors, not to mention open a window or walk out the door during daylight hours, have my envy.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Giveaway time is coming!

I was just thinking last night that I need to have a giveaway again, and today I see that the Quilter's Blog Hop Party with Give-Away is scheduled for next week!  How fortuitous!

Hop Party with Give-Aways

I am finishing up the Spanish Treasure piecing and last night I bit the bullet and ordered additional yardage for borders and backing rather than piecing it from the half yard cuts of Terrain that my Honey gave me for Christmas.  I  felt a little bad about it, since I started this project just to use those pieces, and I never really did, but Burgundy Buttons had a great sale and I knew I would hate the back of the quilt if I hodgepodge pieced it rather than attempted a wholecloth.  So I thought I would cut those half yard cuts down to a pair of fat quarters, keep one set (maybe for a new project) and give a set away.  I may or may not add a book on quilts from fat quarters to the giveaway just to make it more fun; I'll see if I have any I can part with.

At any rate, I plan to do the same thing I did last time and put up the post on Friday before the link goes live, giving my existing followers time to get an extra entry by commenting before Saturday.  If you're interested in some Terrain fat quarters, be sure come back between noon and midnight on Friday!

Oh, one other dilemma.  I'm finishing up the details of the Gothic Windows contribution to the Virginia Quilt Museum fundraiser; their first submission deadline is March 20 and I have label on and sleeve started, and forms half completed.  What's got me stumped is "Quilter's Bio."  How am I going to write that?  What would you expect to see in a short "quilter's bio"?

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

guild and my most rewarding quilt

Last night at quilt guild we had a speaker from a quilt shop, Sew Many Quilts in Covington, do a session on hand appliqué.  Although that wasn't new material for me, she gave away a free block, all prepared, to do and I sewed mine up during the meeting.  It was sweet fabric to work with, a gorgeous aqua with white pattern.  She also brought some goodies from the store and I was SO tempted ... I walked up to browse three times, including once with my wallet ... but I was good and refrained.  I do not need more fabric!

When I returned home I sewed seven more blocks on Spanish Treasure.  I think I have 32 left to do, and I hope to knock half of those out tonight since my Honey is away.  When that top is done I need to start cutting and piecing the border to the Civil War Chronicles quilt and get it longarm basted for hand quilting before I start any new tempting projects like I've been eying.

In the absence of new work to show off I'm going through some archives.  The member site called Quilters Club of America posed a March survey question, "What is the most rewarding quilt you have ever made?"  I wrote my reply, "The most rewarding quilt that I ever made was a group quilt I coordinated.  More than 20 years ago, as a junior in high school, I received a Congressional scholarship to live abroad as an exchange student.  Prior to departing, I underwent an intensive language and cultural training with 49 other recipients and we all bonded so firmly that we are still very much in touch today.  A couple of years ago, one of the group - actually a successful OB/GYN - was diagnosed with ovarian cancer.  Despite aggressive treatment, she knew the end was near and invited us all to come together for one reunion weekend.  Although many members are living around the world I was able to get in touch with most of them and have them sign blocks for her, and I put them together in a quilt that I gave her at the reunion.  It was so emotional for everyone and I was so proud to have been able to coordinate the effort.  She passed away in January, 2011, leaving a husband and very young son behind, but with the love of her friends literally keeping her warm in her last days."

I will never forget that weekend or my friend SooJin.  Here are a few photos of the quilt in the making, finished, and with Soo holding it.

Monday, March 5, 2012

An older quilt

It occurs to me that I have lots of older quilts which have never seen this blog, including this wallhanging I have hanging in my cube here at work that I look at every day.
This was made with a fat quarter bundle (I think) ages and ages ago.  In the 90's, at least, since I remember the house I lived in when I made it.  I did all my own machine quilting, and I remember using a tracing paper design over the star centers and borders that I tore away later; much of the rest is an eyeballed 1/4" from seams.  One part of it I particularly love is the plaid border cut on the bias.  I actually think the border print was something I found separately which just happened to match and was not intended to coordinate with the rest.

Guild is tonight and I will be showing off the finished (okay, no label or hanging sleeve yet) Gothic Windows donation.  I'll post the photo that the guild takes as part of Show & Tell once they put it on their site.  Over the weekend I did more quilting on Jacob's Ladder and more piecing of Spanish Treasure but have nothing really to show beyond what you've already seen.

Friday, March 2, 2012

a challenge met

Michele at Quilts from My Crayon Box had posted  Crafting By the Numbers resolution/challenge of sorts to track how much got done in the creative realm on a day-to-day basis.  I couldn't figure out how to make a fancy computer calendar like she did but I did get an old-fashioned kind I hang over my ironing board and I mark a star on each day that I do something creative.  Check that out - 25 out of 29 days in February, even Guild night when I brought handwork and sewed after getting home!!  It went a lot easier once I got a few hand-sewing projects going. 

It's funny because every day that doesn't have a star, I know exactly why.  Most are Fridays, and on every other Friday I go right from work to driving five hours to a weekend with at least my son if not all the kids.  When I arrive close to 11 PM, it's bedtime and I don't have time for even handwork.  The only shot I'd have at getting sewing done is if my Honey and I drove together and I had enough light to hand sew while he took the wheel.  One Friday we had a date night so I didn't sew at all, and on that lone Monday, I remember, I was in a horrible mood and spent the night sulking, taking a bath, and going to bed.

I flipped the calendar last night while working on Spanish Treasures (ten more blocks done) as my Honey bottled his latest batch of homebrewed beer and put a star on March 1.  It will be fun to continue this during the year and see if my months are more like January or more like February.  It's a lesson to me to have at least one hand sewing project ready to pick up at all times because sometimes I don't want to be in my sewing room but would still like to get stuff done while spending quality time snuggled with my Honey.

Next year I would like to expand this project by noting on the calendar what projects I worked on each day, and maybe even how many hours (if that doesn't become too burdensome).  It will be neat to see how long some projects take as compared to others.

This weekend we are home and I am looking forward to doing some more work on a number of projects, including finishing Gothic Windows with a sleeve and label, more quilting on Jacob's Ladder, and either more piecing on Spanish Treasure or cutting the border to my Civil War Chronicles border (which has taken a back seat since I began Spanish Treasure).  I think they're calling for rain so I love the excuse of staying in and not going out to enjoy nice weather.  :-)  Monday is guild and I hope to have at least one fully finished project to bring for Show & Tell.