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Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas, Everyone!

No stockings hung by the fire--we have baseboard heat and I wear pantyhose--and it's raining at the moment--but Christmas spirits reign supreme! I so enjoy the last-minute wrapping (alright, the making too, obviously!) and I just found my favorite Christmas CD: The Spirit of Christmas by Amy Grant. It was a Hallmark CD from 2001. Full orchestral sound, a little Vince Gill thrown in for good measure--always gets me in the mood.

I'm going to take a chance and show you a few of the gifts I made for this year--I don't think anyone who is getting them will read this before receiving them. If you guess who they are, please keep quiet!!!!

Quilting Arts Gifts had a great idea for luggage tags. One of my friends has several (!) Featherweights and has named them all, so I made her a different luggage tag for each and did custom cards with pretty script with their names. They were easy to make (don't tell her!) and I think she will really like them.


I have a friend who collects ladybugs so I made her this delightful pincushion! The pattern is by Hatched and Patched from Australia. And, yes, I can embroider--I just try not to make a habit of it! The whole thing is only about five inches! The company also has patterns for several other pincushions that are equally as cute.

Last year I got back into knitting because of a ladybug dishcloth for this same friend. This is a new design that I found on the internet for this year. I love the seed stitch border--it lies nice and flat.

At 9:30 tonight I finished a pair of wool socks for my mom. Just in the knick of time! I actually made the second sock in just a few hours with a very concerted effort. Now I have just a hat and wrist warmers to make but I have a couple days to do those. I know I've said it before, but I still can't believe that I am knitting socks!
Here's a fresh off the digital camera picture of Lynnie.

She was trying to help wrap presents (actually she was trying to see why Callie could get up and help but she had to stay grounded). This is what was going on above her eye level:

I'll just say that it takes a lot longer to wrap presents with a cat helping! LOL!
Merry Christmas, everyone! I hope your holidays are full of fun, traditions, great gifts and lots of laughter. God bless us, every one.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

The Weather Outside...

BRRR!!!! No matter where you are, let it be known that it is very cold in Central New York! The windchill is below zero and the winds are high. And we've had several days of snow with more to come. So...I've spent the day making presents! It seemed so good to just spend the day sewing--and it was a mostly machine work day, with a bit of hand sewing thrown in. Contrary to what some people believe, I actually started out machine piecing--but always with hand quilting! My goal as a teacher is to keep the hand skills alive, but machine skills are also important. And to that end, I am teaching several machine piecing classes after the first of the year. I will update my website soon with those listings for those of you who are interested.

I did finish Scarpetta--thrilling from beginning to end. I was, however, a bit disappointed in A Quilter's Kitchen--it really is mostly a recipe book with short stories thrown in between the sections. The good news for this time of year--it only took about an hour to read; the bad news is that it left me wanting more from this book. My opinion only--it should in no way be construed as the view of any other reader.

Just like very other holiday season, it seems that it comes too fast, requires lots of last minute frantic activity and is over before I blink. A few years ago Jen, owner of Pucky Huddle Delight, and I decided that having a Christmas Club would be a great idea. We would start in January and "bank" our finished projects so that we would have all our Christmas gifts done by October. We did ornaments, placemats, and some other fun stuff. The only problem was that half the class moved away and the club ended in April! And, sad to say, my stuff was in exactly the same state as when I finished the classes--in other words--absolutely nothing finished! The best laid plans of quilters everywhere!

Happy Hanukkah to those starting their celebration on Monday! And to all...a good night!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

A Quilting Tip

Have you ever had a quilt top that was difficult to mark? You would either need to use two or more different markers and wonder if they will come out after the quilting is done. Well, here's something to consider. If you know the top will be difficult to mark and you have not bought your backing yet, how about buying either a back that is light enough to mark on with a silver Prismacolor Verithin pencil or dark enough to use a white Verithin pencil? You would do your outline quilting (if there is any) or any quilting in the ditch to mark blocks if you would like to do that; this is done from the right side. Now turn the entire piece over and mark your other quilting designs on the backing! You can easily see the markings and can quilt smoothly and without straining to see the lines. If you mark lightly enough, the marks should have worn off while you were quilting.

And, if you are marking an all-over design, you can just start marking and quilting! What could be easier?

For those of you who are struggling to make your stitches on the back look like the front--here's your chance to practice! Because what you would normally consider stitches on the back are now -- on the front!!!! I love quilting like this and have done several pieces this way.

In these pictures you can see the outline quilting (done in yellow, so all you really see is the shadow) and then the spiral done in a variegated thread.


And here is the final result. I took the picture at an angle so that you can really see the dimension that the quilting adds. I still need to bind the piece, but I quilted it in about a day.

Next post: Who knows? I've been doing a bit of everything the last few days. I just got Scarpetta by Patricia Cornwell--unfortunately in hard copy, not audio, so I can only do one thing at a time with that! And it sucks you in at the first chapter. Other authors I have been listening to are David Baldacci, Lee Child, Dick Francis, Anne Rivers Siddons, Clive Cussler, J.D. Robb, Stuart Wood...all excellent to keep me listening and working!
May the spirit of Christmas abide in your hearts all year long. Til next time....

Friday, December 5, 2008

Who Knew...

that I would need parental controls on my computer to keep Callie from posting to the blog!!!! But we both loved the comments--many thanks to all who did leave them! Callie is sitting on my cutting counter, which is behind where my computer sits, so that she can supervise this post. Probably so that she can be sure I don't say anything too bad about her!

I've been busy getting ready for the holidays. I'll be teaching up til December 18, with the 2009 schedule set. I'll post that on my website soon for those who are interested. I have been quilting--finished another small piece last week and started another. I think I have about five ready for binding. I've also been working on some ornaments and a bit of holiday knitting.

Here are some pics of the wildlife outside my sewing room window. Enjoy!







Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Hello?!?!



Hi, everyone. My name is Callie. My mom told me she has been posting more frequently (for her!) and no one is commenting. She is wondering if anyone is out there reading her stuff and looking at her pictures.

Knock, knock--is anyone there? Abraham Lincoln. Abraham Lincoln who? What...you don't know me? (A really good M*A*S*H oldie!) But seriously, is anyone out there?

Life is good here at Stroud Quilting Central--except my mom talks to herself quite a bit--should I be worried? Nah, she always has a good supply of dog and cat food and treats and a HUGE supply of catnip. And at least she won't be known as the "Cat Lady" because of that dog in our life. So I guess she'd have to be the "Cat and Dog Lady" or maybe just "Crazy" would fit the bill.

Well, all this typing has made me tired, so I am going to have a hit of catnip and take a nap. Don't forget to write...as you can see, I will be checking!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

So Thankful

Thanksgiving 2008--hard to believe that another year has passed and we are again starting the holiday season. I have so much to be thankful for today--and every day. With family to love; a warm, inviting home; friends; health--so many blessings. My parents celebrated their 55th wedding anniversary today--surrounded by all three of us kids (I use "kids" even though we are all now in our 50's!!!) and my sister-in-law. A small but wonderful gathering.

I am also very thankful for each and every person who chooses to take classes with me. In these uncertain economic times, it can be difficult to justify spending your money on a "leisure activity"--but know that I am dedicated to making each class as full of fun and knowledge as I can. ("Leisure activity" is a definite misnomer--we know that it is full-fledged obsession--but--ssshhhh--not everyone has to know that!)

Incredibly thankful--for all of you! Please be good to yourself each and every day. Remember that you are special and unique. Til next time....


Saturday, November 22, 2008

They Are Prolific!

I think students often don't realize how much a teacher likes to see the results of a class. I am always excited to view class work--whether still in pieces, a finished top, or completely quilted and bound! So here are more student works!

Sue S. started this top in my Dresden Plates class at O'Susannah's in Watkins Glen. She increased the size from an 18 inch wallhanging to this beautiful piece. The fabric is butterflies and became even more stunning after being fussy-cut. Pam brought her finished Dresden Plate pillow to the Glens Falls guild meeting. It is beautifully hand quilted both front and back.
Then Cheryl brought in several projects she had also started at O'Susannah's. First is her hand quilting piece. The stitching is very even and looks the same both front and back!

Next is her five-pointed star--hand pieced!

And these are the pieces she made at the Applique Day--All Points and All Curves. Such a variety of skills displayed!

Thank you, ladies, for sharing your work. Kudos to all!
As for me, I've been busy cleaning my sewing rooms--yes you read that right roomS! It had gotten to the point that I could not walk through and the closet door definitely has not been shut in several months. So I hauled several large bins upstairs to free up some space. The stuff in the bins are finished tops, backs, etc. and definitely did not need to take up valuable real estate where I work. I was able to free up enough space to add a small table at the end of my island--and can't believe how exciting it was to have two workspaces! Callie still has her fleece on the corner of the island, but is a bit better about not getting near the "action" area.
My big adventure since the last post was locking myself out of the house with no house keys, no car keys and no cell phone! And Lynnie in the back of the Jeep ready to go to the vet's. It was a comedy (now) of errors to get in the house and then get her to the vet. Needless to say, we were late (the vet is wonderful and just laughed at the tale of woe). The folly started when I decided I did not want to take my purse with me to the vet's. Old coat, big pockets with food, leash, wallet and plastic bag. It wasn't until I closed Lynnie in the back of the Jeep that I realized I had no car keys. I am going to try really hard not to make that mistake again!
Safe travels for Thanksgiving and enjoy your holiday!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

My Visit to the Far East

The far eastern part of New York State, that is!!! From November 6-8, I was the guest of the Wings Falls Quilt Guild in Glens Falls, NY. It was an incredible trip--here's the scoop!

Several ladies did the all day Dresden Plates class on Friday--with fabulous results. This is a picture of Joanne's block--her fabric had almost too many great motifs to choose from. She had the entire plate (all 16 blades) fussy cut by hand, marked and hand pieced and pressed by the guild meeting on Saturday morning.

Mary came in with a different idea, which I helped her modify to this! Her original plan was to cut the blades and then applique the ends of the branches to a background. By concentrating on the outer branches in the wide section of the blade, it looks like a real wreath! Mary cut two each of 8 blades and alternated them. She did cut all four corners so that the blades matched--so she could learn the technique I was teaching. What a fabulous idea to take the Dresdens even one step further!
Lucille brought her completed wallhanging to the guild meeting--no, she did not start it on Friday! She had been in a prior class with me and brought the piece so that I could see it done! (Just a note--I had to keep a close eye on Lucille when I had my owl quilt out--she is known as "Mama Hooter" and loves all things owl. I did let her display the quilt for me so she got an "up-close-and-personal" view!)
The happy faces: As we were packing up, I was able to get most of the group in a picture with the start of their plates. From left to right: Marie, Joyce, Carol, Joanne, and Gail. A wide range of fabrics with fabulous results.

On Saturday I was able to get Linda M's picture with her plate.

I was very fortunate to have a personal shop hop with Gail, my hostess, after the guild meeting. We went to several shops--each with a different flavor and focus. It was a great time and I had a chance to see many people I had met previously. Many thanks to Linda D., Lucille, Audrey and Margie for parading my quilts around the guild meeting.
On the home front, last night I decided I absolutely could not stand the mess in my sewing rooms anymore!!!!! So I started hauling stuff out and putting bins that are just storing tops and backs upstairs under the finished and unfinished quilts! I can actually close the closet door
(first time in several months) and I can walk through the room without having to go sideways! I am almost done prepping for the week's seven classes (in four days) and have my laundry (but not ironing) done. What a rush!!
Next up: More student quilts--they are really prolific! It does a teacher proud!
Do something nice for yourself today and every day--don't depend on someone else to do it for you--that could be a looooooooong wait!




Friday, November 14, 2008

Reaping the Benefits

On Wednesday, November 5, the last class for the Southwest Block of the Month was held at Pucky Huddle Delight in Candor. Students have been working diligently since February. And "block of the month" was quite the misnomer as we actually did two blocks per month, and, depending on the size of the quilt top desired, many made two, three or four versions of each block! It's always so exciting to see the final results! Here we go:

First is Renee's king-sized quilt top. All she has to add are the borders which feature a cardinal print. (And, no, that is not Renee peeking from behind the quilt--it's Nancy C--her quilt is next.)


This is Nancy's quilt. She did a bit different set, eliminating the outer row of cornerstones and sashing for a more old-fashioned look. Nancy actually worked on two different tops at the same time--the other is shades of purple with a wonderful Asian border fabric. Pics when I see her next!
Believe it or not--this is Peggy's very first quilt top! She did an excellent job and her blocks were all the same size--no easy feat! She is deservedly proud of her accomplishment--and so am I!


Linda G. chose a dark purple background and played lighter colors against it. Isn't it dramatic? Using the background fabric as her border finished the piece perfectly!

Two Ginny D's were holding up a quilt...whose quilt is it? It always cracks me up with both Ginny's are in class--because both of their last names begin with D! In this case, it is the Ginny D. on the right who is the proud piecer of this beauty! Her border fabric is a light blue with a strawberry print--perfect to finish this! The other Ginny D (left) also was working on a top, but preferred to wait til it was a bit farther along before photos. Rest assured, it is wonderful, as well.
Great job, ladies! You do me proud. And the fact that you are such special women into the bargain makes it even better. That light to the north is me grinning broadly!
The two Ginny D's make me think of a class where I had three Pats in a class of five! The one I knew the most became Pat C (because I knew her last name!), and then there was Pat Plaid (she was wearing a plaid blouse) and Pat Stripe (who by sheer coincidence was wearing the same LL Bean shirt I was!). It was too funny throughout the day to call each by their "new" name. Pat Plaid said that she hoped the name did not stick forever! The biggest problem will be if they all show up in another class together but wearing different shirts!!!!!
The next post will have pics from my trip to the far east--stay tuned!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Bitterly Disappointed

Well, it's over. And yet again, I did not get elected President of the United States. You know I ran in '04 and again this year--I just don't understand. So I am going to ramp up my campaign for '12--so prepare yourselves for a very serious campaign.

Part of my platform:

As hand quilters we will count BOTH sides in the count. No more counting the top stitches only! By golly, we made the stitches on both sides--we are darn well going to count them!

The base of the food pyramid will be CHOCOLATE! And the dairy portion will the CHOCOLATE ICE CREAM!

(As an aside--how come the popular vote (that's us) was much closer than the electoral vote reflected? Aren't they supposed to vote based on OUR wishes? Just saying....)

On that note, I am off to class. No pics today, but I have some of a wallhanging that I quilted in just one day (by hand) to show the next time. I just didn't want anyone (Annoying) to miss me!

Remember how special you are--even if you didn't vote for me ;-(

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

BRRRR!!!!

Today was the wake-up call to all of us who have been in denial about winter coming. I myself was enjoying the fall weather and I especially love the golden light at this time of year. Today, however, we have had high winds and SNOW!!!! There are about 3 inches on the ground of the white stuff--geez, it's not even November yet. And I doubt if many towns have outfitted the plows and salt trucks. But it's supposed to be in the 50s on Friday.

Callie has been trying to help more often in the sewing room--specifically on my cutting mat--often while I am trying to rotary cut. In self defense, I brought a remnant of fleece and put it on a corner of the island. She loves it there and makes fewer forays into the danger zone. She can also look down on Lynnie, who hates that she is up so high.


On Saturday, Lyn D. brought in her finished Friendship Quilt. She started it in a class with me and finished it with her own machine quilting. Because she cannot decide which way to hang it, she put sleeves on both a long and a short side--that's versatility! It's absolutely beautiful--great job, Lyn!


Last night I did a trunk show for the Twilight Stitchers in Mattydale, New York. What a wonderful group of ladies, and they were kind enough to invite another guild to join them for the evening. I knew several of these ladies, having taught at their guild (remember the disco ball? It's that group!). Proving yet again that quilters are caring, special people. I had a great time and I think they all did too. Plus, they came up with the most potential names for one of my quilts. What a way to start the week!

Did you thread your needle today? Or do something equally as nice for yourself?

Til next time--stay safe---and warm!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Hand Piecing Marvels

In case you haven't figured it out yet, I love hand piecing. It is portable and easy, and you can achieve excellent results with even the hardest patterns. Here are three hand-pieced Mariner's Compasses.

First photo is of Sandy's wintery compass. She has plans to expand a feathered star top she started a while ago and is making compasses to help that plan along.

Next is Flo's black, white and red beauty! How striking! She has the completed compass basted for hand quilting. Can't decide what colors to use for your next quilt--how about black and white with a touch of red? It sure is eye-catching!

Robin's color palette is soft and pleasing. The design on the circle will be wonderful to quilt. And the color placement makes the compass look like it's traveling toward you. Great job!


And last for tonight, this is Cathy's Monthly Bliss 1 quilt from several years ago. She made 25 blocks and set them on point. She had it machine quilted and it is just beautiful.

All four of the ladies are involved in additional hand piecing classes with me this year. Proving yet again that one can never have too much bliss--hand piecing bliss, that is!
Did you do something great for yourself today? Did you take time to just breathe? Only you can make it happen! Give it a try!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

A Happy Coincidence

Last Wednesday and Thursday I spent in northeastern Massachusetts. On Wednesday the weather was sunny and warm and the leaves were spectacular. That night I did a trunk show for the Concord Piecemakers, after dinner with Fay, Janet, and Suzanne. Their vendor for the evening was The Woolpack yarn shop--with sock yarn! No, I didn't get any--but I did find the shop on my way home the next day!

Since I was only about 20 miles from Lowell, I decided to drive there and visit the New England Quilt Museum. I had been there once before and loved it--and loved it again this time. The exhibit is MetroTextural, with contemporary quilts by the Manhattan Quilters Guild. I was impressed with the diversity of techniques used and the variety of subject matter present. I was especially taken with several quilts by Beth Carney. Her "City Pulse" quilt was one I would have loved to own. Ludmila Aristova had several pieces that presented the city skyline in such detail that you felt you were there. No photos are allowed, but one of the pieces from the exhibit is used on the NEQM's website. If you get a chance, be sure to visit the Museum. For those of you who prefer the more traditional quilts, there are several from the permanent collection on exhibit at all times, and the ones that are up now are wonderful. There is an "Album Summer Coverlet" from c. 1850 that is intriguing--so much to see and in such detail...it holds you captive for quite a while.

As I came out of the museum it started to rain quite hard, so my walking tour of downtown Lowell was scrapped. For your viewing pleasure this time, here are pictures of fall foliage and skies taken on my trip home.





And, now, the coincidence part of the story. My brother drives tractor trailer and we have never been anywhere at the same time. Until Thursday! He delivered in Lowell, MA, the day that I traveled to Lowell (from Concord) to go to the museum. We arranged to meet at State Line (the first west bound exit in NYS) and have dinner. As the fates would have it, there is no diner there now, so we headed on west. We eventually stopped at a Thruway Service Area and had dinner. It was the perfect ending to a perfect day. (I forgot to tell you that on the way to State Line I did go to The Woolpack and did, in fact, buy yarn. But not for socks!!!) So I followed him all the way back to Syracuse where our paths diverged. What are the odds that we would both be out separately and end up in the same town a state away? I enjoyed every minute of it!


Also, a big shout out to Ronnie and Stacy! Congratulations on your engagement! (Ronnie is the son of Cindy, my BBFF!)

That's it for now. I'm going to do a bit of quilting today and also try to get my desk unloaded again. Why is it that any flat surface becomes a paper collection site?!?!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Perseverance and More Quilt Show Pics

Remember "Sock Gone Bad"? Well, I refused to let this yarn get the best of me. So I went down one needle size and started the ruffled socks again. I was almost to the toe once again when I wanted to rip them back out, but...I didn't. I decided that someone could use these socks and it was foolish to have almost half a pair done only to rip it out. I stuck with it and here are the results. A finished pair of ruffled socks.


Here they are laid flat, along with my second "Wee Sock". (Somehow I misplaced my first wee sock and felt compelled to knit another one in the same yarn!) I'm still not sure exactly why I don't like this yarn, but I would think long and hard before knitting with it again. But it did not beat me! I presently have a pair of bulky yarn socks on needles for my brother (don't tell him!). On size 8 needles they are going really fast--only 40 rows for the cuff and I have the heel flap done. I also have another pair of wool socks on needles--I am absolutely swooning over the yarn and pattern. I'll share more on them in another post.

Back to the quilt show. When the guild decided that they wanted to do a pieced raffle quilt, they asked me to do classes on their chosen block to make assembling the blocks and quilt easier. Most finished their practice blocks into finished pieces.

Barb A. set her block on point, added a small border and corner triangles. The colors are warm and inviting.

Ginny D. made a Missouri Puzzle variation of the Goose in the Pond block (top), while Barb T. used the traditional block for hers.

Jan H. liked the block so much that she made an entire bed-sized quilt with them. Finishing at 15", it doesn't take many blocks to make a decent sized quilt. Adding sashing and borders (not shown) finished the quilt beautifully.


Nancy C. (remember her star quilt last post?) floated the block and then floated the entire center. Strong contrast really sets this block to advantage.


And last, but not least, Barb T. started this Thimbles quilt in a class with me earlier this year. The center is hand pieced and Barb machine quilted this small gem.

The raffle quilt was done in shades of blue and was absolutely gorgeous. Unfortunately, I apparently did not win, as I did not get the call--but whoever did win has a quilt to treasure forever. Congratulations, ladies, on a great show and on doing me proud!

I'm off to Concord, Massachusetts tomorrow to do a trunk show. I'm hoping the leaves will be breathtaking on my way to and fro. A short side trip may take me to Lowell to the New England Quilt Museum and of course to any quilt shops that I can find. I know we quilters are doing our best to keep the economy going...if only the politicians were quilters!

Til next time, take a few stitches and breathe easier.


Monday, October 13, 2008

Okay! Okay!!

Having been properly chastised (several times) by "Annoying" (you know who you are!!!), I will make a more concerted effort to update the blog more frequently. I didn't realize how much you missed my ramblings when I am absent! So here we go!

First up is A.J. from Pennsylvania, who traveled to O'Susannah's in Watkins Glen for Monthly Bliss 2. She finished her top over the summer and look how beautiful it is! Using only fabric from her stash, A.J. was concerned that she wouldn't have enough of her border fabric. Her luck held and she was able to not only get out her borders but to miter them as well! She said she only had about 4 inches of fabric left--that's close! A.J. is back for Hexagon Bliss this year and her fabric selections are equally stunning.


On October 6, also at O'Susannah's, I taught the Goose in the Pond block as a skill builder. Students learn what I call the Big 3: Cutting, piecing and pressing. You need all three to get good results. Claire B. completed her block in class--the dark brown and turquoise fabrics were a wonderful choice--and her block measured exactly 15.5 inches unfinished! And her points were perfect. She has good reason to be smiling so broadly--great job, Claire!

On Saturday, I was able to visit the New Quilters on the Block show in Candor, New York. It was wonderful to see so many quilts that I had seen started in classes. Usually teachers don't get to see the final results--so this was a special treat. I will have more pictures from the show in the next post.

This is Nancy C.'s "Star Sampler" quilt--all grown up and finished. This was a 10 month class at Pucky Huddle Delight in Candor, where students learned to properly rotary cut and precision machine piece. Nancy chose not to add a border, instead letting the blocks float, with the sashing and background matching. Here is a close-up of the quilting on one of the blocks. Nancy is making two quilts for this year's Southwest Sampler, one of old-fashioned brown and navy, and one in purple batiks. Both are so striking.

On the right side bar of the blog, you will notice a couple new things. First, you can subscribe to my blog and receive notification when I update. Also, I have started a list of blogs that I regularly frequent. This also tells when they recently updated. I will continue to add to the list, but these are blogs I try to visit every day. What do you like best about reading blogs? Are you looking for information or just entertainment or a little of both?

Next time, more quilt show pics and a look at perseverance in action. Remember to do something good for yourself today--you're worth it!