25 January 2022

2022 TTD #4: Distracting Myself With Quilting

No matter where you live, look out your
window toward Kansas.  See that smoke? 
That is coming from my sewing machine
because, my quilty friends, it is on. fire!
(If you're looking a little farther north toward
Arrowhead Stadium, that's the KC Chiefs!)
It was another rough week around here and
I was thankful to have quilting to distract me.
So, at least I have lots of progress to share!

Joining up with the others at Texas Quilt Gal's
Tuesday To-Do Link-Up, I'm going to start off
first with what all I got done:

1) Finish the Great Aunt Mary Christmas quilt
and piece backing:  Done

I decided to name this All That's Christmas.
There are some blocks that stand out a little more in the
photo but I feel like they're not so prominent in real life.
The backing is also pieced and just awaiting quilting.
Side note:  I love, love, love that little pieced border!

Because it was so fun and it only finished up at 
I decided to make another one...but bigger!

I'm not sure how much bigger; I kind of just
 started cutting strips and sewing them into sets.

Once I finish the rest of these and add in the greens
set to arrive soon, I'll have a better idea of the size.

2) Choose next quilt and cut out:  Done, and more

Aside from All That's Christmas II, my next quilt is
"Grace," another from the book County Seat Quilts.
[Their name--I'll choose another]

I made some great progress on this one,
getting most of it cut out and pieced!

Because I chose a green for the setting triangles, 
I reversed the colors for the churn dash blocks.
This one is also waiting on more green fabric
but, hey, not bad considering I just started it!

3) Load up scrap quilt and ensure LA is ready to sell.
Well, I flopped here.  Just haven't had time.

This puts me at 183 blocks so far for January which
just has to be a personal record.  A lot of those are
simple 9-patches but they are still blocks!

Fabric tracking

Kathy Hall--"Chatham Hall" line, Andover Fabrics

These goodies (yardage in red) were off the clearance
rack.  I envision adding an ivory solid and letting
these do their thing in something simple like:

I dug around and came across some beautiful
matching fabrics that I found at a
have enough so watch for this one next.

Other finds: 

These didn't photo well but they're greens.
Also clearance goodies.

And these small pieces were what I was really
after--boosting the reds and greens in all these
Christmas quilts I seem to be gravitating toward.
Still, they were not enough so I ended up making
some online purchases as well.  I'll share those in
in a later post once they show up at my door.

Noting I only add them to my tracking once they
arrive, here is where I stand at the end of January:

Purchased:  20.75 yds
Used:  36.15 yds
2022 Net:  -15.4
2021 + 2022 Net:  +18.25

As a reminder, my only goal is to use more than I buy,
which means keeping the nets in the negative.
Knowing even more fabric will be showing up soon
means I have a lot of work to do this week.

And now for the sad news...

A much-younger Tasha (around 7-8yrs)

Last week I made the hard decision to put my older
cat 'Tasha down.  I have never known such a good cat!
In temperament, intelligence, trust, companionship and
mousing.  She was 19 and though happy, the signs were
there.  I didn't want it to drag out so I made the decision
quickly.  Tasha had only been to the vet twice in her life--
a farm vet, and she rode on my lap.  The major issue
was that I just didn't want her to be scared.  Inevitable
I guess, but she'd never been in a carrier (or waiting room)
so I did the best I could for her:  I made her a leash.

For reference, I used the directions for this pet leash.
(I always thought those would be fun to make, and it was.)
If you zoom in, you'll see the fish and sardine cans on
the fabric.  The vet and her sidekick loved it.
And, Tasha?  She was such a good girl, she didn't
even need it.  She just trusted me through it all.
But it made me happy to have her stylin' with
that leash, and it makes me happy to see it now.

I never thought I'd do a sappy RIP Pet post but here I
am but darn it, she really was the best cat I've ever had,
and such a great sewing companion.  She would always
hang out with me in her basket..after I taught her to
"get in your basket" because of course she always
wanted to be on my fabric.  Eventually she wasn't
able to jump up that high and I've already really missed
 her there.  I knew this had to come someday.  I'm so
grateful for 19 years of her great companionship.
She's resting in the flower garden by our sunroom,
one of her favorite places to bask in the sun.

Moving on to happier things...
I sold another quilt!
If you missed my latest post(s), I'm currently working
very hard to increase my quilt sales to back my
recent purchase of an APQS Lucey and eventually
add a computer system, all to work toward a
full E2E quilting business.   So, with this in mind,
this is my aggressive to-do list for the week to come,
assuming my fabric all shows up:

1) Finish All That's Christmas II
2) Finish Churn Dash Christmas
3) Choose a new quilt project...or two
4) Make sure old longarm is good to go
5) Make spreadsheet for sales, expenses, etc.
6) Get last year's spreadsheet finalized (for taxes)

I'll check back with you next week with
all my aggressive quilting progress!
(Anyone envisioning an angry quilter??)

And keep in mind:

(Hubs sent me this one when I was struggling
to pull myself together--rather unsuccessfully.)

Happy quilting!

18 January 2022

2022 Tuesday To-Do #3: The First Big Step

Note:  Currently working on blog appearance.
Please be patient with me, and the colors.

Hello and welcome!  It's Tuesday To-Do yet again
but this one promises to be one of my best
posts yet.  I have such exciting news!
First, let's give props to Linda, otherwise known as
the Texas Quilt Gal who handles this shin-dig.
When you're done here, please go check out what
the rest of this crazy group of quilters is up to.

Last week's To-Do's

1) Finish Harvest Pumpkins top and make backing

I wanted to make this bigger but couldn't bring myself to
change the feel with another border.  I like it just as it is.
I had just enough of the background fabric left to piece
up the backing.  Quilt Top #1 of Project Build Inventory
is now complete and awaiting my new long arm.

2) Cut out second version of the same quilt but 
turn the pumpkins into Christmas ornaments.
DONE!  Sort of...

I am careful to keep holiday fabric to a minimum
in my stash so it was pretty time-consuming to get
this planned and cut out.   And then I didn't like it
so I cut more out and tried those.

(Sorry these are night-time pics)
I thought it was a go but the next morning, I walked
into my sewing room and just said, "No."  I think this
might be the first time in my life I truly scrapped a
project.  Well, maybe I haven't technically scrapped it.
Here's my plan:  If I can find more fabric to pull it
together, then it'll be a go once again.  If not, these
will be the makings of a lot of table runners and
toppers for next Christmas so they will not actually
be scrapped. 

So back to the drawing board my current book
of choice, County Seat Quilts (shown here) to choose
a new pattern.  Funnily enough, named Lucy.
But more on that in a bit.

This was the fabric that I wanted to focus on.

And this was my first pull.  As I said, I don't have much by
way of Christmas fabric so, because I haven't purchased
ANY fabric ALL year, I'm going to the LQS tomorrow to
see what damage I can do.

(Sorry, another dark picture.)
Meanwhile, I've gotten this far.  I love the busy background.
It might be much for some but it reminds me of my
Great Aunt Mary who lived to be 103 and always wore
handmade calico dresses.  I might talk about her more
in another post because I feel like I want to name this
one after her, though I don't recall ever spending
Christmas with her?
Anyway, moving on...this is a very, very fun and quick
design and I think I might pull another one today.
Or maybe another five?

3) Attend APQS seminar, take pics and post about it.
If you're a skim-reader, you'll want to slow down here.
This portion is the highlight of my post.  

On Thursday, a text let me know that due to the
forecast almost everyone had cancelled for the
seminar.  (Wow, these Okies are scared of snow!)
Well, no way was I going to let a few flurries keep
me away so I called the dealer to discuss this one.
(Remember--I was already *this* close to buying.)
We decided to do a one-on-one the next day instead
of the possibly-bad-weather-Saturday.  Excellent!
I'd still have the weekend open for sewing.
Maybe even snow-sewing!
I also learned she had a fully-loaded Lucey
demo for sale--and her price wasn't all that bad.
That kind of stopped me.  I'd already priced out a
new one with all the extras and that hefty sum
was taking some warming up to but hey, what
if I didn't have to warm up to quite so much?

Hubs, bless his wonderful heart, had taken that day off to
work in woodshed but guess how he decided to spend it?
Not only did he come along to help me make the decision,
he also drove so I could make notes and work on the
beginnings of a business plan.   He's a keeper!  

We pulled up to Red Barn Quilting at 9 am on the dot.
(I'm a very punctual person but that was especially
 good considering the 2.5 hour drive!)  Brenda's quilt
shop is right on their ranch--I'm a little jealous.

We spent some time getting to know Brenda and learning
about the APQS company but most of our time was focused
on the Lucey--specifically the question of new v used?
I was really open to either but with a savings of more than
$5K and still getting everything that I wanted and more
(note the overhead lights!) I knew what way I was leaning.
The decision really hinged on was the lifetime warranty
worth that higher price tag?   I was leaving this one up
to hubs and we've been married long enough that I
could see we agreed.  Still, I wanted to talk it over a bit
so I let Brenda know we'd text our decision within an
hour and said our goodbyes--after I requested a 
referral for lunch.  Always ask the locals.

So, funny story there:  guess where we ended up?
For me, it took a walk back to the bathrooms and
for hubs seeing the name on the menu before we
both realized where we were.  Never mind that we
missed the logo on the door as we walked in.

I can't say I'm a big follower or anything but I
do know who the Pioneer Woman is and knew she
had all of this down there somewhere.  I had seen
a few of her episodes years ago--funnily enough
those episodes included when they bought this
building and began renovation on it.

After we enjoyed a nice lunch (great steak fries!), we
decided to look around the mercantile section.  The day,
filled with so many things that I enjoy*, had a bit of a
magical feel to it.  I wanted something that would hold
 the memory of The Day That I Bought My Real Longarm.

*Road trip with hubs, small rural towns, quilting, etc.

I settled on this oversized coffee cup.  It's the enamel-
coated metal kind so it won't break, which makes it
perfect for holding pens, pencils and tools right next
to Lucey in my new studio.   

I have two more trips planned in the near future so I'm
sure I'll return to the Mercantile.  The first trip will be for
the class that comes with all longarm purchases.  When
the new Lucey arrives at the dealer's (6 to 8 weeks), I'll
head back down to finally bring mine home!

It feels like I should be going crazy having to wait but 
 I have so much work to do on building my quilt inventory
that I know the weeks will fly by.
The one thing I opted out of on my Lucey was that
computer program because that I do want brand new.
And as you might know, those things come with their
own hefty price tags!  Truthfully, if I'd asked, I think my
husband would have agreed to it but it is somehow
very important to me to work toward it by myself.
It's a huge goal but I'm going to see where I'm at in
a year.  If I've done well by then I'll be adding that,
and with it will officially begin the full quilting service.
I hope to get comfortable on her with the pantographs
much sooner and will likely offer that, though I think
most quilters prefer the computerized?
Anyway, the first big step has been made!

Other updates:

Above is the squirrel that likes to see what's going
on in the sewing room.  I'm just certain she's a mother
who wants to learn to make quilts for her babies.
Since it's clear that we're going to be friends (even though
they are the enemies of my garden and nut trees),
I've asked my husband to make her a little picnic
table feeder (the kind that holds an ear of corn)
and I'm open to suggestions for her name.

Fabric Tracking
I have to admit I don't have the up-to-date numbers
here but I've used something like 15 yards so far
and, as mentioned, purchased none.   Yet.
Let's just enjoy this productive and guilt-free
feeling....for the next 24 hours.

The Fam
This past weekend the Cadet was at Virginia Tech along
with such schools as Duke, Virginia, Tennessee,
North Carolina and North Carolina State.  Once again he
 cleared 15m /16' 4.75" (his PR), taking 3rd place among
some pretty strong competition.  Even more
encouraging was how so very close he was to
clearing 16'11". I tell you , it's coming!  He's right there!
(Can you imagine? Practically 17 feet!)
With the number of meets increasing nationwide,
he has dropped in rankings but clearing that next
height will have him back in the mid-teens; he remains
 #1 in the Patriot League (and at West Point all-time).  

My daughters are in their second year of coaching
volleyball--the parochial league in the fall and
club ball in the winter.  My other son now has in his
possession his official diploma from Creighton and
is enjoying working full-time without ever having to
worry about homework again.

So, what's going on in the week to come?

All over Blogland the QAL's are popping up.  Clearly
I have other plans this year so those just aren't an
option...except, I just found the perfect one for me: 
The 350 Blocks Project at Prairie Moon Quilts.
Encouragement to do what I need to do anyway.
So, I'll be giving a monthly count of blocks made.
It's only mid-January and I already have over 80
so yeah. I think I can do this one.
My personal goal for January?  Hmm.
How about 100?

And for my to-do's:

1) Finish the Great Aunt Mary Christmas quilt
and piece backing

2) Choose next quilt and cut out

3) Load up scrap quilt and ensure LA is ready to sell

Simple enough.
Happy quilting!

11 January 2022

2022 Tuesday To-Do #2: First Epic Post of the Year

Welcome to Tuesday To-Do Link-Up #2 of 2022.
I left off with a bit of a teaser last week but today
I am better prepared to show the full deal.

A snowy sew day

This week I have pics!  You know, some weeks that can
be a real accomplishment!  This year has just kind of
started off like that.  In week one, I began PT on my
shoulder, had a re-root canal, visited the chiro and learned
I had a UTI.  And that last part (the TMI part) came in the
middle of peak Covid issues around here so, to quote
my dear mother (who I always miss but esp last week),
I "went through hell" trying to get anywhere with it.
My nurse wouldn't call me back (and still hasn't),
the phone lines were jammed at the dr's office all
day, the walk-in clinics had 4-hour waits and the
MEC had wouldn't answer their phone so I didn't know
what their wait time was but with the 40 or so cars
in their parking lot, I had a good idea.  Trying to find
a Covid test was equally difficult and let me tell you,
employees may (Target, Dillons) or may NOT be very
friendly about it (even managers--shout out:  Walgreens),
that is IF you can get them to answer the phone or even
give you the time of day in the store (again, Walgreens).
 No I don't have Covid (not once) but I was so miserable
that's where I was trying to start out.  And btw, did you 
know they have home UTI tests?  Not to keep up with the
TMI but, well, that info it might be helpful to someone.
Right there with all the other female products at Target.
Anyway, the happy ending there was that I marched my
way right into the doctor's' office right before closing and
begged for any doctor that would see me.  Ten minutes
later, I was out with a prescription called in.  If it weren't
 for that little home test, I'd have not known to push for help
like I did because, though I'm not a "frequent flyer" with
that particular issue, I do know enough that they can
go south in a real hurry.

Wow, okay, that was a lot of digression but you now
get the idea of how my year has started out.  I used to
be a pretty firm optimist but the older I get, the more
I feel pesky pessimism try to push its way through.
Maybe I can still dig deep.  You know the good part
about starting the year out so roughly?  I just got
all that out of the way, right?  It can only go up.
Ha.  Okay, here's my update since I wrote that:
I just spent our 29th Anniversary with some sort of
36-hr stomach bug.  I am in recovery so now things
are going up.  LOL.  And no one else is sick even
though we had all the family over on Saturday.
(Save the cadet who was competing--took 2nd; he
was a little rusty after all the holiday celebrating!)
Usually I leave these kinds of personal things off
my blog but I am finding this kinda funny and,
who knows?  I might want to look back on the
obstacles I've overcome. (Optimism!)

As I mentioned, I do have big quilting plans and that
they have me excited and motivated.  Everyone keeps
asking me if I've made lots of goals for the year, and
usually I do!  But this year I haven't made it past that
one--and maybe to lose another 10+ pounds
 after losing well over 40 last year (go me!).

For 2022 starters, I've actually backed up a bit
and chosen a fall project--one I wanted to do
last fall but things just got way too busy.

If you recall I found this beauty when on the shop hop.
The pic doesn't do it justice but anyhoo, every shop hop
 I try to find one fall project and make it a treat.  And by
that I mean I'm going to get what it takes to make it
right then and there without waiting for a sale, or
seeing what any online shops might offer it for, etc.
In this case, all I needed was the book.  And it turned
out there are plenty in that book that I want to make
so it was a good deal and I walked away happy with
my full-price purchase.  

The name of the pattern is Harvest Pumpkins and it's
fairly small quilt, just a throw at 45x53 so I will see
what I can do with another border today.

Remember I had chosen this plaid to use...and was
crossing my fingers it would work out okay.  Well,
I think it was an okay decision--it seems to be
working out just fine as far as plaids go.

(Didn't quite get it all in one piece for this post.)

There are only a few plaid-issues but I think they kind of
lend to the home-y style of the quilt.  Hubs feels the
plaid fabric makes it look like fencing or hardware cloth
which also works well with the pumpkins so overall,
I'm very happy with how this is turning out.  Not sure
you can see close enough in the pic but I'm interested
in any thoughts there on how you think it turned out,
especially since I'll be selling this one.
I'm just hours away from my first finished top of
the year, which lines up with my big plans that I'll
get into here in just a bit.

Let's do another bit of backtracking:  I have not
'fessed up on my fabric tracking for the year SO,
here are the numbers I ended the year with:
Fabric purchased169+ yds
[holy wow!]
Fabric used: 135+yds
So I'm up over 33 yards when I had hoped to be in
the negative.  This has been all for good fun so no need
to try to make me feel better about my sad showing
but it is also a bit eye-opening.  Do I always buy that
much?  I don't think so.  It seems like that was likely
my highest yet.  Do I always use that much/little?
Easily.  I thought it would be a bit more even.
The challenge from this story:  try even harder this year!
I accept!  Heartily!  My first project has me at -5.5 yds
already and I'll likely make the backing today so I'm
off to a great start.

Now my big plans for the year?  Yes, I am looking into
buying a new longarm and taking on a more business
angle to my quilting.  I have enjoyed selling the few
that I've listed so I want to go at this more fully.
I'm also toying with eventually adding the computer
system and offering quilting for others (locally).
I need to try one more time to get the timing issue
corrected on my current one so I can sell it and the
Phoenix frame.  It's just time to move up.

I know I don't have to tell you all how excited I am!
I have a million things going on in my mind about
all of this so I'm trying to be patient and cover it all.
When I become sure I can deliver on all of my plans,
 this girl is eyeing the APQS Lucey.  I'm attending a
seminar in OKlahoma this weekend to learn more and
then I'll post about that next week.  It will be so fun
to write about these steps in my new adventure!

(Current state of fabric stash as of 8:34a 1/11/22!
Also fabric in drawers, closet--46 bolts!--and the
some random WIPs and precuts sitting around.)

Meanwhile, my immediate plan is to build a
record-breaking amount of quilt tops out of all of
this stash and I need to move quickly because there is
that chance of shoulder surgery in the near future.
(Because PT seems to just be making it worse.)

Which brings me to my to-do list for the week:
1) Finish Harvest Pumpkins top and make backing
2) Cut out another version of the same quilt but 
turn those pumpkins into Christmas ornaments!
3) Attend seminar, take pics and post about it

One last thing:  I did take care of the housekeeping
around here so my tabs/pages are now up to date.
Under the Current Projects tab, I have some general
ideas of my next projects to tackle.   I should have a
post out later this week on that, though--and it's
likely I'll add a couple more when I do that.

Actually, this didn't turn out quite the "epic" length
thought it would be.  More time for quilting!
Off I go!

Happy quilting!
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