Just call it Craft Central!

After many months of working almost exclusively on the camping blog Robert and I are creating I finally have some time to get back to crafting, and get back to just writing about my home and all the goodness there is going on.

This is a block from the Dear Jane quilt I have going on. It’s going to be one of those many year projects as I usually pick it up here and there and work a little in between other projects. I am working on a lot of other stuff – some in reality and much in my head! I am making a large lap quilt for someone for Christmas. Someone who I have no idea if they read this blog, so no pictures or info on that yet. It is the “Turning Twenty” pattern which is really easy and quick though, so that’s definitely nice.

I am also participating in a swap on Craftster, my first swap in quite awhile. It’s nice to be thinking about how to make new things, challenging myself and just doing for someone else (and knowing someone is doing for me too!). It’s a one hour swap, which means I should spend only about an hour on the project. Well, we agreed to give it 4 hours – either for four different projects, or slightly larger projects, or whatever. It’s been fun so far and I am enjoying it.

I have a stack of fabric next to me from the Happy Camper fabric line to make something for the camper. A quilt for the couch I think, though in what pattern, I don’t know. I also have a quilt in progress for my new baby cousin Natalie. Fabric for one for her brother Nathan. A pattern and about half of the fabric for another Christmas gift. I am loving it. The projects are going well. I’m having fun. And I am full of ideas. It’s awesome!

We’ve started using the woodstove somewhat regularly. Mostly to just warm things up in the mornings or evenings. Right now the giant, sturdy and wonderfully awesome clothes drying rack we got in Shipshewana is near the stove, holding some laundry. I’d take a picture but it’s mostly underwear, so, you know, don’t wanna get all TMI on you!

I hope I can keep up this crafty momentum. It has been nice to sit down in my office, get my work done and then go into the sewing room and be creative.

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First Camping Trip 2009

We finally took the camper out last weekend. And it has taken me a week to share it. I know. Craziness. The plan was to camp somewhere near Gainesville, Texas since we wanted to go to Lavender Ridge Farm and pick strawberries on Saturday. All of the Texas State Parks we called were already booked (this is a problem we have a lot). So, we ended up going up to Lake Murray State Park in Marietta, Oklahoma which was about 45 minutes further north of Gainseville. They have something like 400 sites so they usually have plenty of room. I took a laid back approach to packing the camper. Something like “Hmmm, I see sheets and pillows and blankets. Here’s the food. Ok, if it’s not in here we don’t need it that much for just two nights!” It really reduced my stress level and, it actually worked. We had everything we needed with no problems.

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We really enjoyed the state park. It was a nice, level site, easy to get the camper into and only $18 per night. Daisy did wonderfully and even when we let her off leash at the camp site she stayed relatively close to us and didn’t wander off. I think we made it in around 8pm on Friday night. Saturday morning we headed up to Gainseville to pick some strawberries. Unfortunately there were not all that many to pick and we only ended up with about a third of a bucket full. Enough for one round of shortcake. Well, better than nothing and we did have a nice time so it wasn’t a loss or anything.

We headed into downtown Gainseville after that. They have a nice square, similar to what we have at home. There are lots of cute little shops and restaruants. We put Daisy on the leash and she and Robert walked and window shopped while I browsed inside the stores. I didn’t buy much. I found a blown glass firetruck Christmas ornament so I had to get it. We have several fire fighters, fire helmets and even fire boots, but no firetrucks so obviously it needed to come home with us! The other place I had to do a little shopping was Pass Time Fabrics, a quilt shop. I found a few cute little bits of fabric in the clearance area, a Texas print I’ve been looking for and the most tiny English Paper Piecing hexagons. They are extremely cute and very tiny. Awesome!

A little trail near our campsite

A little trail near our campsite

After our wanderings we went back to the campground to just relax. Robert needed some serious decompression time and he got it so that was very very good. We took Daisy on a little bit of a hike down to the lake, which she was scared of (what kind of Lab is scared of water?!) and Robert made some delicious chicken and rice in the dutch oven for dinner. We went to bed early and slept late both days – Robert because he was worn out and me, well, I’m a champion sleeper. I could sleep 10 hours every night with no problem and feel pretty good about it!

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It was the inagural trip for the camping quilt I made on my quilting retreat in Indiana. It fit the bed really well, looks good in the camper and was nice and warm and snuggly. It’s also pretty sturdy which is good. Since the best place for Daisy to be out of the way in the camper is for her to lay on the bed, whatever blanket we use gets covered in dog hair. I wanted something I could wash after most of the trips without a problem. The quilt is simply squares of denim and flannel but on the denim squares I am sewing patches that we have gotten from places we have camped or visited on camping trips. The patches are inexpensive souvenirs and the blanket is useful in the camper so it is a nice way to combine functionality with some sentimentality. We had a great weekend and when we came home the garden was looking great so that was even better. I’ll write more about the garden this week because it is really going to town.

Here’s your puppy picture for the day.The focus is less than perfect, but this is Daisy’s little spot in the camper. And she’s wearing her red traveling dress (her harness). Her travel bowls are Fiesta, spoiled dog!

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Mini Madness

As I mentioned, I joined the local quilt guild the other night. In May the program is called May Mini Madness. Guild members make mini quilts to donate and then there is a silent auction where everyone bids on them to raise money (not sure if for the guild or for charity). I came home from the meeting wondering if I had enough time (2 weeks) to pull together a mini for the auction. I also had most of the remains of a charm pack that were wanting to be used. I started looking for a pattern to use up the charm pack, not thinking about a mini and then stumbled onto a tiny paper pieced cake stand pattern. I adapted it into a basket and used cherry fabric to make little baskets of cherries. And by little I mean 3 inches.

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I made four of these and am trying to figure out a good layout. I am considering a 9 patch type layout, which could require another basket, or not. I am feeling indecisive on it. I would like to take it over to the quilt shop and ask for opinions but that could cause me to spend money which is not the goal. I need to think on it some more. And I sent it out to the committee (my Mom, my Aunt and my cousin) to see what they think about it all. Of course no one has responded yet either.

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Aren’t they cute? The charm pack is Recipe for Friendship from Moda. They are Mary Engelbreit fabrics, or at least the matching panel is ME so I assume they are all ME fabrics. The cream with dots was something I got in a scrap bag from the local quilt shop. They have some scrap bags, about $3 each. I found two the other day that had all neutrals in them. I have been using them in my Geese in the Forest blocks and in these little baskets and here and there when I need a little bit or piece. Most of the pieces I got in the bags were around 6 inches wide. It has been very useful. I hope they have more!

Totally unrelated but I was looking over on Kate Kwiltz today and saw her post about shopping at IQF in Chicago. She posted the beginnings of an orange and turquoise four patch quilt. I love the orange and turquoise together and had not even thought of it. I may spend some time this afternoon looking in my stash for orange and turquoise and appealing to the committee to send me their scraps. 🙂

We have tiny cucumbers and tomatoes in the garden and all sorts of good things going on there. Almost everything is planted for now. I am going to put in a few more green bean seeds since those will can or freeze well if we have an over abundance. I think will stick the remaining onion sets in amongst other things too. I don’t know if they will do much as they have been sitting the greenhouse for awhile, but, we’ll see. Oh, and we’re going camping this weekend for the first trip of the season. Lots to do to get ready for that one. I need to get easy hand sewing together and find a campground. We’re going to go up to Gainseville and hopefully go to a U Pick strawberry farm.Woo! Strawberry jam here we come!

More Crafty Goodness

It is one of those weeks when things are getting done and checkmarks are being put in boxes. I visited the McKinney Quilters guild for the first time last night. I’ve been meaning to go for quite awhile. It was a pretty good group. I am interested to see what the upcoming months will bring since I signed up to be a member. I am used to the format we had at Dunes country Quilters, where someone would present a tutorial basically and give us the basics to get started, then we would go home and work on it. My Mom, ever the over achiever, works to get it done each month and take it to the next meeting. Anyway, between challenges and tutorials it was an ongoing source of new ideas and projects. This group has a sit n sew night, round robin quilts and various other things going on that sound interesting. Also, I won a pair of tickets to the Arlington Quilt Show which I was already planning on going to. Sweet. Of course now I need to find someone to go with me. I could probably convince Robert but I want to wait and take him to the big Dallas show since there will be more quilts and more to see. I’m guessing he’s good for maybe one quilt show each year. The speaker last night makes portrait quilts. Impressive stuff.

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While I was off at quilt guild Robert went grocery shopping and came home with groceries and these beautiful lilies. Why? Just because he’s very sweet. Bonus – they were grown in Texas.

Today I snapped some photos of some swap stuff I’ve made recently. So, if you’re Anita, stop reading or you won’t be surprised when your package arrives!

We were supposed to make one kitchen towel and two potholders, so this is what I came up with.

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Two potholders for a red and cream kitchen. Notice the Texas fabric in the one on the right. My swap buddy is from Wales (as in UK) so I thought adding a bit of Texas would be fun.  The back of each potholder is plain linen that matches the kitchen towel.

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This towel is linen with a red zig zag stitch around the edges. The flowers are English paper piecing with hexagons. I have no desire to make lots of EPP flowers and sew them to each other but I do love to make them and applique them to things!

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I also made a set of 20 recipe cards with tabbed dividers. It seemed to go with the gift and I already had all the supplies on hand so it was a pretty quick project. It really didn’t photograph well unfortunately. The recipe cards all look like the one in the front, though in different ink colors. The dividers ar2 3/4 inches wide with the tabbed tops with different  categories. Now I just need to pick one recipe, convert it into metrics and write it on one of the cards. I am also including some of my favorite blueberry tea and some Texas honey. I had other ideas of treats to include but beef brisket is too heavy and chips and salsa are too fragile. I thought tea with honey would be a universally good choice and since it is Texas honey it’s something she won’t be able to find in her local shop.

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I think a cute dog picture is a good way to end every post, don’t you?

Even More 3D Stars!

I figured out the other star that the class had completed.

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So, I made one square last night and five more today. Not bad. And much better than my normal daily (or even weekly!) average. Now, even though I started on the third class, I’m all caught up with everyone else, and with no extra help from the teacher. I’m happy with that accomplishment. 🙂

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Three Dimensional Patchwork Stars… Eek!

So, that great, regular, flat fee writing gig I had? On hold now. They will get back with me “sometime next month” to see if they can afford a writer. So, I am back to scrambling around looking for something steady to go with all the little here and there writing jobs. I may have to go out into the world and find a part time job doing something in the meantime. We shall see.

On the upside of it all, I have been making it a point to take a time out now and then and do some sewing and to go to the local quilt shop. I had been going to the larger quilt shop in town but was feeling a little put off by it. They frequently don’t even say hello when you walk in the door. Whenever I walk in I feel like I’ve wandered into their exclusive club and as long as I buy some fabric and let them get back to their visiting it’s all good. I am totally spoiled since I was good friends with the quilt shop owner back in Indiana. She was always excited to see me, would show me this or that she had in mind and she had great classes that I really enjoyed. Now maybe she was just a good salesman but I never spent tons of money (my mom did though) so I don’t think it was 100% that. We found the shop very shortly after she opened though and my Mom was there at the going out of business sale too. Anyway, I was used to a different feel from a quilt shop.

I started going to the smaller quilt shop in town, right off the downtown square. I love the downtown area. It is growing every day and just full of cute little shops, restaurants and all sorts of interesting things. Last week they had the “Hard Time Social Club” which is basically a group that gets together and has a potluck dinner and the group leader gives examples and ideas of projects you can do to use up scraps. It was very fun and relaxed and I enjoyed it. Everyone was very welcoming and it was nice. While I was there I saw some examples for the 3D Patchwork Stars class. I thought it looked pretty interesting and the class itself is only $15. Of course the book was $17.99 but, I had most of the fabric I would need for it so it wasn’t a huge investment overall. I decided I’d jump in and take it, even though it wasn’t the first class.

Well, jumping in was a little more tricky that I anticipated since the teacher didn’t know I was coming so I didn’t get an email of the cutting list. I had to spend time cutting while things were explained and then things got sticky when my quarter inch seam got criticized, measured, etc. And then the teacher put some big green tape on my machine. Ugh. I was like.. uh.. and she’s taping. Then she sews and the bobbin runs out. She’s like, how do you change the bobbin? Well, it’s under the tape. She took my really really nice scissors and CUT THE TAPE. I had to bite my tongue. I’ve had the same pair of “razor-sharp” fiskars for 17 years and they have never needed sharpening precisely because I don’t do things like cut tape and paper with them. Anyway, we got it sorted out and I was sewing desperately trying to catch up. Then I had to take a seam out. Where was my seam ripper? Under the tape. *sigh* It was a little frustrating. Not to mention the class is all about precise piecing and cutting. Precise is not exactly my thing. I did survive however. And I came home and wanted to sew a little more before I forgot how to do it all. After I ate the delicious wild Alaskan salmon Robert made for dinner (yum!) I sat down to work. The center square everyone was moaning and groaning about and putting 8 pins in to sew in class did not seem so terribly hard to me. I finished up the block in about 45 minutes I think. I am going to make the second one today sometime and I may use some of the techniques for a potholder I am making for someone. Of course, I might also do a simple checkerboard for that one too! Anyway, I may try to make some of the other blocks in the book too. I’m not sure. I asked the teacher for the directions for the first block they did and she wouldn’t give them to me since she “didn’t think it would work out too well for me.” Here’s my block:

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It doesn’t look like a whole lot I guess, but every triangle shape on there is folded and there is a little pocket behind it. You can’t tell since it is pressed really well at the moment. I am going for 30s fabrics, and the background is white Kona cotton. I prewashed it all, which I don’t normally do but I thought with the red on the white background, and I also have some navy blue I’d like to use in it so I thought prewashing might be a good thing. We were also instructed to starch all the fabrics. I think mine minght need a little more. Since I already have the book, I will probably continue on in the classes since they are only $15 each time. I am also signed up for an applique block of the month through the shop. I have two months worth waiting to get started. I am trying to finish up a swap project that is due at the end of this week before I start that project though.

Oh, I also completed a pillowcase the other day which I took in to be donated to the ConKerr Cancer organization. They collect fun pillowcases for kids with cancer. I made one with jungle animals that was pretty cool.

We had a good weekend. We got tons done and worked our tails off for a lot of it, but there was a lot that needed to get done. Hopefully I can continue to get things done around the house this week and get things cleaned up and more clutter free. We are planning to go camping this coming weekend so the house stuff will have to be caught up to make it happen.

This is a great picture of Daisy deciding to snuggle with Robert that I will leave you with…

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