Sunday, July 24, 2011

Settling in . . . Slowly

I wish I could say that I was so inspired by the speed of my awesome movers that I quickly unpacked . . . but after that great first night in the new apartment (with no more highway noise!) I have been moving slowly today. 

I caught up with the block lotto over coffee this morning and put togetherthe August sneak peek email, then unpacked the stuff in my car . . . with a break to cool down about midway.  I went out for some essential shopping–ˆ couldn't resist these sunflowers.  I cam home and finally started laungry and cleaning and unpacking.  The boxes in the photo are mostly filled with boooks . . . isn't it interesting that however you organize your books on the shelf, when it comes time to pack them, all that really matters is size?

Grace Hopper has found a new hiding spot–I have no idea where–and is spending most of her time curled up there. If she's out, she's very vocal, clearly expressing her discomfort with change.  Johnny is dozing on the top of the kitty jungle gym as if it and he was always here. Earlier, there was a bit of feline monkey-see, monkey do going on and I found him in the fireplace and Grace ready to join him. At the old place, I know that the sounds of the birds came into the apartment through the fireplace . . . I suspect they think now that they can get inside the fireplace, they have a better chance of actually finding a bird . . .

Johnny Monkey see, monkey do

. . . on to some serious unpacking now . . .

Saturday, July 23, 2011

My Awesome Movers

Today was moving day and everything I couldn't move myself was moved by these two awesome guys.

They were fast. They were careful. They were incredibly strong. I had a million–OK, it was twenty-some–well-backed book boxes. I couldn't have carried just one of them up the stairs outside my apartment and they were putting 4-5 boxes on a dolley and practically running up the stairs with them ... in this incredible heat.

I have a car full of lighter, more fragile or just more easily NOT packed in boxes stuff . . . soon I'll bring it all in and start finding a place for everything–one of the movers did ask if my second bedroom was going to be a "junk room" (I'm guessing he was thrown by the presence of 4 x 8 sheets of insulation ;-)

Did I mention that they were very fast?  As part of my move-in special, the apartment complex paid for three hours of movers . . . these guys finished in 2 hours 10 minutes.  A nearly free move for me–they were so awesome, I did have to tip them enough for a few rounds of the Margueritas they were talking about as we wrapped up.

After a couple pretty horrible moves, I was really grateful for these awesome guys and the good work they did for me today.

Friday, July 22, 2011


This afternoon, I packed up the rest of the kitchen, TV and computer and everything connected to them, and the cats and their stuff.  It was 107 degrees at Fort Mabry when I passed it on my way from old apartment to new.  Upon our arrival, I carried the cats in first and left them in their carriers in the living room while I brought in their stuff and set up litter box, water fountain and food.  When I unzipped their carry bags, Johnny came out and made a pretty systematic tour of the new apartment, working his way counterclockwise from room-to-room.  Grace Hopper made a beeline for the fireplace . . .  which I'm thinking need some real doors to keep her from becoming a sooty cinder-kitty on a regular basis.


They both stayed hidden in the bathroom–Johnny in the cabinet under the sink, Grace behind the door under my bathrobe hanging there–while the cable guy was here . . . for more than two hours.  While I obviously have internet, there are serious problems with the (new) cabling in every room and it seems there are a thousand and one cables in the wall.  Cable guy is blaming the apartment construction guys and I know apartment property management will blame the cable guy.  I'll admit that I probably watch too much TV, but I'm not quite ready to go from too much to none at all . . .

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Signs of a Good Lunch Place

This week I've been bouncing back and forth between old apartment and new, preparing for the move, moving some of the small stuff, figuring out where/how everything will fit . . .  and I confess that I've been grabbing too many meals on the run.

Taco Deli

Today, as I stood in line to order a mojo fish taco for lunch today, it struck me that any place with a line out the door and people willing to sit outside to eat in 100-degree heat has to be pretty good.

So far, everything I've tried from their menu has been yummy, so the signs seem correct.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Keeping Cool at a Quilt Show

Last weekend, a friend invited me to go with her to the Wildflower Quilt Guild's show in Temple. Here's a detail photo of the Best of show quilt, Anesthesia, by Janet Smith, quilted by Linda Buckner. You can see the entire quilt here: Anesthesia and all my photos from the show in my Flickr photo set, Wildflower Quilt Guild Show.

Anesthesia - Detail

When Karen and I came across this Underground Railroad quilt, by Don and Phyllis Baker, we both confessed to having block of the month kits and decided to challenge one another to finish them.  She's already started work on hers . . . I won't be able to get to mine until after I'm moved and settled in. 

It was a really nice show and an impressive effort for a relatively small guild (about 100 members).  After the show, we stopped for lunch at Las Casas, a local Tex Mex restaurant.  It's well known for something called white wings–jalapeno and cheese wrapped in chicken breast meat, then wrapped with a couple strips of bacon and grilled.

Made smaller, I think they'd make great appetizers for a party . . .  another thing to add to the project list for AFTER the move is done.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Only a Quilter

Coming soon ...Yesterday I was on the hunt for small moving boxes. I found some at a near-to-my-new apartment home improvement store . . . along with these sheets of Styrofoam (tm) insulation.

Maybe only another quilter will know immediately what this means and why it makes me so happy ;-)

Walking Around Campus with Friends

Barbara, Debra and the MadonnaBarbara and Debra were in Austin last week and invited me to join them.

We sat and talked about quilting and our lives a lot and walked around a little–because it was one of those triple-digit-days which have become the norm around here.

If you have seen some of their Madonna quilts, then you know that when we walked past this building on the way to lunch, it was a photographic opportunity for a portrait of them that I couldn't pass up. 

After lunch, there was a quick stop in a vintage clothing store, then we walked through campus, where we ran into Barbara Jordan and Cesar Chavez . . . and some sunning turtles.

Barbara Jordan at UT Cesar Chavez at UT

Debra investigating the flowers in the pond Sunning Turtles

We finished the day with more sitting, more talking, some show and tell and then dinner. Thanks ladies.

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Questions, Answers and Things Learned Along the Way

Isn't it interesting what we learn from quilting discussions?

These Liberated Checkboard blocks are the choice for the July block lotto.  I created them by first cutting the fabrics into a slanty 16-patch--my directions are here.

Krista ASKED why I didn't cut and assemble these in the same way as the Tic-Tac-Toe blocks we made last year.  And then Sara posted some in-progress photos of that approach.  Doh!  I'm not sure why I couldn't see it that way.  It's so much easier/faster . . .  though certainly there are skills to be learned with both liberated approaches.

Yesterday, after I posted my winter themed Liberated Round Robin piece, June ASKED if I have everything stitched together or was I keeping the components separate, to be arranged and put together later.  The simple answer is that yes, everything is sewn together, but the question prompted me to remember that I considered not sewing the "icicles" row onto the quilt in round one and how I initially had thought it would work better near the top of the quilt, but didn't want it against the top of my center block.  Guess who ripped out that seam this morning (and wished she'd remembered to lengthen her stitches after she shorted them to stitch the foundation pieced log cabin blocks?) Here's the before and after.

Changing my mind

Moving that row resolves a design issue for the next "round" for me. I am so glad that June ASKED.

Over the weekend, when the mailing information was sent out to the fifty-some quilters who made lotto blocks in June,  Karen, in Australia, brought up a potential issue of sending cotton (and silk) to one of the nine winners, who lives in the Sultanate of Oman. I confess that when I am mailing quilt blocks to another quilter, I never before considered import/export/shipping restrictions and prohibited items.  I couldn't find anything on the USPS web site; I found a list on the FedEx site that lists items that cannot be sent to Oman (but no cotton or silk); I felt stuck.  I wondered if the prohibition was specific to some countries and not others, so I ASKED Kate, in the UK, if she could check for any prohibitions for sending cotton to Oman from England or Europe.  She found a most excellent site - The Universal Postal Union, where the mystery of the prohibited cotton was solved.  In the list of prohibited items to send to Oman was this line (emphasis mine):
Cotton or silk cloth as well as other cloth with designs representing coins, bank notes, securities of the Oman government or of other governments. 
 Isn't it interesting the things we can learn in a discussion about quilting? The questions and answers are interesting . . .  and the places that the discussion can take us are wild.

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Liberated Round Robin: Round 2

The guideline for round 2 said the idea of a square is the shape to focus on for this round. 

Here's my LibRR piece with 4 borders, based on squares added.

It's approximately 26 inches tall and 28 inches wide (at the widest point on the bottom edge).  The smaller white log cabin blocks(above "icles" are 2".  They were made using the same foundation stamp, but pieced without the last round of logs and trimmed to size. 

I think I can, I think I can, I think I can . . . bring this quilt back to an overall rectangle shape with the next round, which is all about strings and letters.

To check out more work-in-progress, check out the links at the bottom of the WOW (WIPS on Wednesday) post on  Esther's Blog. Be sure to also check out Ether's beautiful crochet lace Tuscan Shawl ... it make me wish I knew more than the minimum when it comes to crochet.

Monday, July 04, 2011

Log Cabin Squares

8 Itty Bitty Wonky Log Cabin BlocksFor the "Squares" round of the Liberated Round Robin, I immediately though of log cabin blocks. Here are my first 8 itty bitty (3 inch finished size) wonky log cabins.

While the logs in these log cabin are liberated, I confess that the technique for making them is not. When I decided that 3 inch (more of less) blocks would work for me, I remembered a stamp that a friend designed to stamp fabric with foundations for a wonky log cabin block. I was with her when she ordered one and so I asked if I could use her design for a stamp of my own ... and then never used it until today.

The ink is designed for textiles and is permanent.  It worked pretty well for a morning of foundation piecing . . . without any  foundation paper to be removed later.

Here's how the blocks look with my round robin piece on the design wall. They're not the entire story for my squares round, but they are a start ... I'm hoping to catch up before the next guidelines are published.

LibRR on the Design Wall

Check out more design walls on Judy's Patchwork Times blog.

Saturday, July 02, 2011

Red, White and Blue (scraps)

When I read that red, white and blue was the July colorway in the Rainbow Scrap Challenge, I immediately thought of an old UFO, a Lone Star quilt made from red, cream and blue scraps that would be the perfect choice–it needs some red and blue applique and I still have plenty red and blue scraps.  But when I went to pull it out of cold storage, it wasn't where I expected to find it . . .  until it turns up, I'm going to work on these WIPs, which together are red, white and blue.

Red-white-blue challenge

The red and white redwork seasons wall hanging needs a backing, quilting and binding. I haven't had the confidence to quilt around that redwork in the past, but I'm going to look at it as another excuse to practice my FMQ and have a go at it now.

The blue and white winter WIP is my project for the Liberated Round Robin. I've added the first round–triangles in the borders on the left and bottom . . . but the LibRR is already up to round 3, so I have some catching up to do.  You can read my post about Round 1- Triangles on the LibRR blog here: Sophie's Triangle Round.

Friday, July 01, 2011

Liberated Checkerboard Block

Sophie's liberated checkerboard block #2This liberated variation of the classic 16-patch block is easy to cut and sew . . . as long as you take care to keep things organized.

The blocks are made two-at-a time, beginning with 2 large squares. The finished size of your liberated checkerboard block will be 2-to-2 1/2 inches smaller than the these squares.

For the Block Lotto in July 2011 (and these examples), we used 10 inch squares to start: one white and one solid or tone-on-tone (TOT) print in a medium to dark value with high contrast.

  1. Place fabrics on the cutting mat, one on top of the other with edges aligned.  Both fabrics must be right sides up.
  2. Vertical cuts: make 3 straight cuts from the top edge to the bottom edge.  The sections do not have to be even and the cut lines may be as slanty as you decide to make them. There should be at least one inch between the cuts and at the outside edges.  I pulled the sections apart so that you could see them--you don't need to do that and can leave them just as they are on your cutting mat.
  3. Horizontal Cuts: Make three straight cuts from left edge to right edge. If it makes it easier for you, you can rotate the mat (or walk around the table), but avoid moving the cut fabric pieces.  The same 1-inch rule of thumb applies.  

Vertical Cuts    Horizontal Cuts 

  1. Create the checkboard by swaping top and bottom fabrics of every other piece.
  2. Carefully move to your sewing area–because these irregular shaped pieces will only go together ONE WAY, carefully move them close to your machine.  I used a 12-inch square ruler as a platter to carefully transfer my pieces from cutting table to sewing table.

Make the Checkerboard     Move to your sewing machine 

You now have the pieces for two Liberated Checkerboard blocks.  Sew them together as a 16-patch.  Here’s the approach I used to keep everything organized and correctly oriented–I’m a little dyslexic and so I need to be VERY careful or something will get turned around.

Cut pieces in Place1. Get Organized

Carefully lay out the stacked pieces (for two blocks) next to your sewing machine to prepare for assembly.
From Left-to-right, Top to Bottom2. Begin Working Top-to-Bottom, Left-to-Right

Flip each of the top fabrics in the second column, onto the first column, like turning a page in a book.
Chain Sewing3. Chain Sew the Pairs

Sew the pairs together, from Top-to- Bottom.

After you've sewn the pieces from the "top" block, repeat the process for the second block.

Leave the four pairs of each block connected (by thread)—only snip the thread between blocks.
Pressing - wrong-side view4. Press after every set of seams

I found it easiest to press after the pieces in each column are sewn. Always press toward the non-white fabric–it will make matching the seams easier later.

This photo shows the BACK after the first set of seams have been sewn and pressed.
Press After each column is added5. Layout the Block with Sewn Pieces

Put the sewn, and pressed section back in place in your block layout.
Press and Repeat6. Continue to Work Left-to-Right, Top-to-Bottom

"Turn the pages" of the pieces in the third column and place them on top of the corresponding piece to the left. Chain sew these four seams as before.

Add the third column to the second block of your pair.
Four Rows Sewn7. Press and Repeat

Press the second set of seams and Repeat with the last column of squares.

Your block will now consist of 4 sections (rows) that are held together at the intersections by the thread left in place from chain piecing.
Sew the rows together8. Sew the “rows” together

Fold the top row down. If the seam intersections are connected by the thread from your chain piecing, you may find, as I did, that you do not need pins to accurately sew the seam, matching the intersections.

Stitch and repeat for each row of both blocks until your checkerboard block PAIR is done. 

You may decide to square-up all your blocks and trim to the same size. For the block lotto, we're sending the blocks UNTRIMMED and allowing the winner to decide how he or she will use them.

Sophie's Block Pair #2

Here's a look at how 35 liberated checkerboard blocks randomly arranged  might look--with block photos from Béa, Cathy, Cheri, Ginny, Jennifer, Julie, Kate, Kathie, Linda, Linnea, Mary Jane, Michelle and Toni.

Cathy C's liberated checkerboard block #3Cathy C's liberated checkerboard block #2Cathy C's liberated checkerboard block #1Jennifer S's liberated checkerboard block #5Jennifer S's liberated checkerboard block #4
Jennifer S's liberated checkerboard block #3Jennifer S's liberated checkerboard block #2Jennifer S's liberated checkerboard block #1Kathie's liberated checkerboard block #3Kathie's liberated checkerboard block #2
Kathie's liberated checkerboard block #1MaryJane's liberated checkerboard block #5MaryJane's liberated checkerboard block #4MaryJane's liberated checkerboard block #3MaryJane's liberated checkerboard block #2
MaryJane's liberated checkerboard block #1Toni's liberated checkerboard block #4Toni's liberated checkerboard block #1Toni's liberated checkerboard block #2Toni's liberated checkerboard block #2
Michelle's liberated checkerboard block #1Michelle's liberated checkerboard block #2Michelle's liberated checkerboard block #3Michelle's liberated checkerboard block #4Michelle's liberated checkerboard block #5
Ginny's liberated checkerboard block #1Bea's liberated checkerboard block #1Cheri's liberated checkerboard block #1Bea's liberated checkerboard block #1Bea's liberated checkerboard block #3
JulieP's liberated checkerboard block #1Sophie's liberated checkerboard block #1JulieP's liberated checkerboard block #2JulieP's liberated checkerboard block #3Linda N's liberated checkerboard block #1

Thanks to everyone for the great block photos that made this virtual quilt possible.  If you make a quilt or other project from this liberated checkerboard block, I'd love to see it.
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