Friday, December 19, 2008


Is why I get nothing done!

Aromatic Heating Wraps

These are fun to make and even better to have around.

Cut one 3" x 21" strip for the strap handle and one 7 1/2" WOF strip for the sack (WOF- Width of fabric. @ 42") Trim the selvedge edges.

Iron the strap fabric down the length in half and iron again 3/8" along each edge to fold this fabric into a long slender strap.

Here is a close-up of what it should look like.

Now take the strap over to the machine and sew a seam line down the length @ 3/8" from the edge to close up the strap. EASY!

Now for the sack. Turn the fabric right sides together and pin a few pins to hold it in place. Here you see I am making two bags at the same time

Sew 1/4" seam allowance on both long sides of the sack. Leave the top open. Turn the bag right-sides out and smooth it flat or give it a quick press with your iron.

Mark and sew two "channel" lines evenly spaced @ 2 1/4" apart from each other, leaving @ 3" for closing at the open (short) side. This leaves us room to to tuck the straps in later. Here is where the rice will go.

Have fun filling those channels now. Mix up about three cups of long-grain rice and any aromatic herb. I used tea leaves from Ceylon and really like the aroma. Try lavendar flowers. The fragrance is just heavenly. You can use a large spoon or a funnel if you have one. Please remember to leave @ 2-3" of space at the top of each channel. So in effect you will have an empty space of @ 5" before the last step. This is important so that the rice can flow freely within the channels and distribute the heat. Also it makes the bag more flexible for wrapping around the body.

Ok. Tuck the upper open end inside the bag, @ 3/4" worth of fabric should be tucked easily.

Take the strap and pin each end to the tucked in edges and secure with pins. CAREFULLY bring this filled sack to the machine and sew up the opening with two lines of thread, for extra security. I wrote CAREFULLY because I have managed to spill rice all over the carpet and sewing machine by being reckless.

Well that's it. If you intend to give these away, please write a tag explaining that it should NEVER be heated in the microwave longer than 2 minutes. Remove using the strap handle and test it to see how hot it gets before draping it across your neck. It shouldn't ever be too hot to handle. OBVIOUSLY don't get it wet. It is raw rice, after all. I really like mine. It is so soothing to tight or cold muscles after a workout. Toss it between the sheets before you go to bed and luxuriate in the warmth. Wonderful in the winter months.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Barbara's Better By the Dozen

Two years back, Bright Hopes Quilting had a BOM I signed up for in named Celebrations from the book, Better By the Dozen. You all know how BOMs work: you get a new pattern and preselected fabrics each month and by the end of the calendar year you SHOULD have assembled a pretty good-sized quilt. No excuses.
Well, I am an impatient stitcher and like to knock out each month as soon as I get my grubby paws on the kit. But the book had lots of inspiring designs made up with the 12 featured blocks. The layout was what made them all so different from each other.

There are 3 shops in Baton Rouge, where my daughter is enrolled in college at LSU and as we were getting her set up in the dorm that first year, post Katrina, I would pop into the shops to see what they had.

(Understand, BR is NOT that far from here, but going there to shop with frequency wasn't in my schedule in those years. I saved splurge-shopping for the GSQA seminar held there each spring. )
But now !!!! hrr hrrr hrrr hrrr! I had an excuse to just stop by for a few minutes and browse. And there I saw a gorgeous piece of fabric. No idea what I would make... but that's never an issue when I see something indescribably different. You just take it. Lots of it. Well ok, I take what I hopefully expect to see me through a quilt. In this case, I believe I walked out with 2 yards. Maybe 2.5.
And it sat on the shelf, taunting me.
Katrina did massive damage to St. Tammany Parish, where I live and a good friend was badly hit. They lost alot and what the storm didn't take , the contractors did. Things, furniture, time. You name it (and I hate to say, she wasn't an isolated incident.)

My friend loves all things italian and this fabric was decidely venetian and I hit on just what I'd make. Using Better by the Dozen as the springboard, I made this qulit for Babara:

I had bought just enough to squeak this out, adding batiks to give it that sparkle and fussy-cutting the focal fabric for all the squares. I think it came out swell (if I say so myself!)

Barbara likes it too! and the Supervisor approves.

Donation Quilt

This quilt was given to the Linnaes Of Texas, a Swedish-Texan club in Houston. It was raffled off in November 2008 and brought in over $500.00 that will go towards college scholarships to students who ennroll in swedish studies.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Most Recent Sample

This is the newest sample of a BOM we will be starting at Bright Hopes Quilting. It measures 65 x 65" and is made up of batiks with one small area in Winter that has Handspray. I'll be taking it down off display sometime in Feb to quilt it.
We saw a sample done up at Market in October and I thought it was lovely.
It isn't difficult and can be either machine appliqued as I have done or turned under in any convention applique technique.
There's a lot of Q's in quilting, huh?

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Q in a Bag

I just love this little cat! No sooner did I complete this Charm Square tote than she decided to use it as a sleeping bag. I guess it has earned the Q Seal of Approval.

These totes are by Quilts Illustrated: Charm Party Tote and are fast and easy and make really super gifts. If you haven't bought charm packs because you don't know what to make with them, may I recommend trying a tote?
And when you finish a quilt project with a themed fabric, cut your leftovers into 5" squares for your own charm pack. They come in very handy for secondary projects. This bag was made up of leftovers from Kyle's Market, a three part fruit and veggie line that came out years ago. I made two quilts (BQ for those who care) for my daughters and had enough to make that tote for me. Well for Q apparently.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Last Few Weeks Til Christmas

I hope everyone reading this had a lovely Thanksgiving. If you are unfamiliar with this American holiday,

it is traditionally a day when families come together and eat a meal that centers around a turkey and the farm harvest from this time of year: potatoes, greens, root veg and of course pies. The pereniel favorites include pumpkin, pecan and apple pies. Some even say words of gratitude to whatever they believe got them thru the year..... hard work, God's blessings..... family and friends. Giving Thanks.

Unfortunately, like a lot of traditions here in America, this day when in the past we reflected on all we had to be thankful for, has morphed into something more commercial. I don't blame this phenomenom on any one source but scatter it across the board!

Stores that sell merchandise targeted at disposable income have four final weeks to make up for lost revenue and compete with each other for OUR money. That is capitalism and I am okay with that.

But in the past decade a real focus has been on Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving Day when shops (and I'm talking mostly about the huge chain know what I'm saying) open at a ridiculous hour of 4:00am and have these crowds of people lined up since they ate the last crumbs off the plate and just waiting to get their hands on some toy (and by that I mean big people toys as well as those for tots). Great discounts on a few selected items that are big on the lists of wants.

And then the media with the camera crews and newspapers who just HAVE to cover this..... year after year like it's ............. news or something, show up and interview these people. Jamming in the faces with lens and asking questions "What time did you get here yesterday?" !!!!!!!!! I'm still thinking about a second piece of pie and these people are standing in front of a store for hours waiting to bumrush a building and the media is there to cover it all.

So you mix these three stupid elements together: Marketeers, Herds of People and Journalists. What could possibly go wrong?

Police said about 2,000 people were gathered outside the Wal-Mart doors before its 5 a.m. opening at a mall about 20 miles east of Manhattan. The impatient crowd knocked the employee, identified by police as Jdimytai Damour, to the ground as he opened the doors, leaving a metal portion of the frame crumpled like an accordion.
"This crowd was out of control," Fleming said. He described the scene as "utter chaos," and said the store didn't have enough security.
Dozens of store employees trying to fight their way out to help Damour were also getting trampled by the crowd, Fleming said. Shoppers stepped over the man on the ground and streamed into the store.
Damour, 34, of Queens, was taken to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead around 6 a.m., police said. The exact cause of death has not been determined.
A 28-year-old pregnant woman was taken to a hospital, where she and the baby were reported to be OK, said police Sgt. Anthony Repalone.
Kimberly Cribbs, who witnessed the stampede, said shoppers were acting like "savages."
"When they were saying they had to leave, that an employee got killed, people were yelling 'I've been on line since yesterday morning,'" she said. "They kept shopping."
Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (
WMT), based in Bentonville, Ark., called the incident a "tragic situation" and said the employee came from a temporary agency and was doing maintenance work at the store. It said it tried to prepare for the crowd by adding staffers and outside security workers, putting up barricades and consulting police.
"Despite all of our precautions, this unfortunate event occurred," senior Vice President Hank Mullany said in a statement. "Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families of those impacted."

A woman reported being trampled by overeager customers at a Wal-Mart opening Friday in Farmingdale, about 15 miles east of Valley Stream, Suffolk County police said. She suffered minor injuries, but finished shopping before filling the report, police said.

Shoppers around the country line up early outside stores on the day after Thanksgiving in the annual bargain-hunting ritual known as Black Friday. It got that name because it has historically been the day when stores broke into profitability for the full year.

Items on sale at the Valley Stream Wal-Mart included a Samsung 50-inch Plasma HDTV for $798, a Bissel Compact Upright Vacuum for $28, a Samsung 10.2 megapixel digital camera for $69 and DVDs such as "The Incredible Hulk" for $9.
AP retail writers Anne D'Innocenzio and Mae Anderson contributed to this report.

Let's review: A mob of shoppers pushed open and knocked off it's hinges a sliding door an employee was attempting to open. They trampled this unfortunate soul and left him there to die while they went shopping.

In another store a woman was trampled and injured but finished shopping and THEN filed a report????

And finally the two credited reporters manage to squeeze in at the end an ad for the store.

well done.

May God have mercy on us. Not that we deserve it.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Little Boy

is not so little any longer. He goes to college with our youngest and comes to visit Mormor on the weekends.
He was rescued from a fate worse than death: to live with another student and several dogs!!!! Oh Noes!!!! This was all explained to me by No.2 in an effort to sway me into allowing the adoption. It wasn't shifting me and MY attitude about male cats in the slightest so I suggested she try to get around her father's protests first. Clever of me, no? Thinking I had back-up there.
No. I heard him walking back up the hallway saying, "Well you can always change the name!"
So much for back-up.

So here is what he looked like the first time I saw him. So tiny. So vunerable and lost-looking. It's an ACT, I tell you. This little monster has grown to enormous proportions! He throws his sizable bulk around and bullys every cat in the vicinity. (there are lots of cats from the neighborhood who loiter in the backyard..... haven't determined why this is just yet...) He looks like a grey panther! And I don't think he has filled out yet! He's only 15 months old and still rather lean but he's huge. When he lands after jumping off the sewing table, the earth shakes. He doesn't walk or amble, he pulls himself along by the claws. He lies in wait around the sofa for Q to innocently walk by, not knowing the terror that lurks. He inhales cat time for nonsense like...chewing.

He's another opinionated cat. I seem to be surrounded.

This is a favorite shot of him. He goes full out during playtime but then crashes like I've never seen a cat do. Kittens, yes. Not a cat:

Saturday, November 1, 2008

What's It Like, Market?

This was my first time at the Houston Quilt Market. Well, ANY market for that matter. I had always wondered what this mysterious event would be like and it did not disappoint! so here are my impressions:

1. It's enormous in scale. I have been to the Houston Quilt Show twice before and found that to be overwhelming but this has an entirely different feel.

2. It is non-stop from the moment one arrives til closing. Go Go GO!

3. Just like at the Show, if you see something of interest and plan to return for more info, consider well marking down the booth number because chances are you will NOT remember where you saw it or for that matter, you might even forget exactly what it the heck that thing was but it caught your attention and you really REALLY need to go back and check it out more fully. Yeah, good luck with that!

4. Wear good walking shoes, cuz you're gonna do some. (side note: I just bought a pair of Wolkys shoes in time for this weekend and found them to be money well spent. Just sayin') I traversed the George Brown Center I can't tell you how far in miles but let's just say I WISH I had that odometer on me. I racked up the mileage. And still I doubt I saw every aisle.

5. So many beautiful fabrics...... too many. I pity the buyer who has to make the executive decisions on what to order for the stores. They know their customers and they know their own tastes but you never know what will sell in the future. And like clothing, some lines are fadish and some eternal. The trick is getting your stuff in a timely fashion. (Case in point: Just after Katrina, the fleur de lis became the RAGE here in LA and we got around 4 bolts in and they flew out! We were able to reorder one or two bolts then nothing! And the customers kept asking for more. We'd get phone calls from around the state. It is so hard to give a negative response to a customer. What happened to all that fabric? Why weren't companies making more of an obviously popular motif? Can't say for certain but in end, we had our very own made and have bolts of it now waiting for the surge to reappear. In the meantime, customers come in, see it and snag a few yards because they remember! It isn't always available.

6. Classes. Big thing here. Now School House is the day we travelled in herds from room to room and heard shpeils from authors and tool makers and teachers on new and old things that they of course want us to buy and demonstrate in the stores. Good for sales, good for them! Some classes give away products to everyone in the room and some hold raffles. I did indeed win one book in a raffle and that was the only thing I walked away with from SchoolHouse, other than ideas. Sadly the book I WISh I had won was the one from the class just before and it was neat. The winning book was nice and well-written with clear photographs (a quality book really), has interesting blocks to make but requires another purchase of templates and ends up wasting ALOT of fabric (a no-no as far as I am concerned.) So that's 2 strikes against it and as a teacher I would not recommend suggesting this as a class for the future but I get why the publishers were pushing it.(duh)

7. Food. Is awful at the convention center. And not much time to eat so that's a wash. But the restaurants in Houston are terrific.

8. Houston is my hometown and I have not lived there for 30 years. I still think she's beautiful.

9. By Sunday afternoon, energies are flagging, people have a noticable droop to the shoulders and feet begin to take on a plodding tempo. You can see it in the eyes of the vendors as well. And a sense of panic takes over me. I have found that some booths allow the purchase of patterns and/or fabrics in small quantities and as I know there are some we will not be carrying and I rather like, I go in search of purchase and do come away with a little. I do mental calculations later that evening and determine that I need one more roll to make the quilt from one line but as we are heading out the door Monday afternoon, I chicken out in requesting the purchase of additional fabric (I figure I can find more on the Net once it's out in the public.) Why? you ask.... well I didn't want to feel greedy. I did just buy one roll and one fat quarter bundle at wholesale price and that was SWEET. ANDDDDDD the Houston Show was starting in a few days and I don't know if those unsold rolls and quarters are going to be sold a full price to someone else who will love them as much as I did the day before. It's that whole "lagom" thing I have stuck in my head.

10. Would I do it again? Uhmm.. if I had been asked the day I got back home the answer might be less enthusiastic but now with time and rest I can sincerely say, "Oh HELL YES! That was a BLAST!"

Friday, October 31, 2008


A high-light at the International Quilt Market, first thing in the morning, was meeting Jay McCarroll from Project Runway fame.

He has designed a new line of fabric for Free Spirit. Fierce, fierce creatures from the woodlands! Scary bunnies and manic deer. Not for the faint of heart or terribly young children. Can you imagine the moment little Betty snuggles down to a nap and looks into the eyes of one of these characters!? Nightmares!

But for anyone over the age of 10, they're a riot. And the "friends" in the collections are great: mushrooms, strawberries, zigzags. All in bright bold colors.

And Jay himself was so approachable and enthusiastic about this new venture. He was happy to visit with us and offerred up photos, "Would you a signed picture????" What a question. "Clearly!"

Just as the market was closing for the day at 6:00pm and the PA system was booming for the rabble to head to the nearest exit, I ran like a spawning salmon in the opposite direction in hopes of getting a photo of the two of us. He was still there, ignoring the Big Voice and carrying on with the adoring crowd. A real trooper and I wish him great succcess.

The Supervisor- Keeping Seams Straight for 5 Years

Don't you wish YOU had a supervisor?

This rascal came from a shelter in North Texas and has acclimated well to SE Louisiana. As a kitten, Q went to college with my eldest only to be discovered by the Dorm's RA and swiftly booted out in my general direction. After falling out of a pinetree and tearing ligaments off her entire back leg (don't ask what that cost to put back) the doctor patched her back as well as possible and she still makes tracks up trees! For a while, I called her our little Frankencat.

Then she was bitten by a moccasin snake and I thought we were going to lose her but she pulled through. I said I guess she'll stay away from snakes now and the good doctor said, "No,(shaking his head slowly and thoughtfully) I don't think so. She sure has a wonderful personality though!" Perhaps, but at this rate, she's blasting though her allotted lives.

She occasionally falls into a deep sleep and behaves strangely for several days but always perks up and plays her favorites games with us.

She hangs out in the sewing room while I quilt and curls up nearby to watch. Or sleep if I bore her. The ironing board is the usual perch as it tends to be warm. This makes for more difficult pressing, however.

And she never knows when someone may usurp her spot in her absence. This makes for interesting moments.

Notice how Shasta pretends to ignore Q. Oh, she knew she had company alright. Just after I snapped the moment, a fight broke out.

Squabbles don't last long but one cat usually walks away with wounded pride. Shasta is the more sulky of the two. She just wants to be left alone.

Shoulda named her Garbo.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Something New

I attended my first International Quilt Market this past week and learned about writing a blog (among many other things....). Now, I've been reading them for several years and thought about writing one but this lecture made it seem fairly simple and straight-forward.

Why did I hesitate to join this circus up til now? One Simple Reason: Because commenters can be both very supportive and/or terribly abusive and why bother putting yourself in that awkward position, I ask you?

Well, here's what I figure: Quilters and cat-lovers for the most part are wonderful people and I think I might take the risk.

Hey, if it doesn't work out, I can always just pitch the whole experiment out into the solar system graveyard of abandoned blogs and get on with Life As I Know It.