July Block Lotto

I should be sleeping, but since I can actually show you images of something, I thought I'd do a quick post. Each month on the quilting.about.com forum, Sophie hosts a Block Lotto. Each player can submit up to eight blocks, made to the month's specifications, and her (or his) name goes into the proverbial hat for each block made. I've been a lotto "regular" for a long time, although my participation earlier this year suffered due to my move.

Anyway: this month's theme is Quilter's Independence. Basically, they're "quilter's choice" 6" blocks in red, white and blue. I think we'll have several lovely sampler quilts made as a result of this month's lotto!

Without (much) further ado, here are my entries:

July Lotto blocks

They're completely made from the scrap bins. I'm weirdly proud of that fact, as if it actually made a difference in the number of scraps! Still, some of them (the blue in the bottom two) are like five years old. That might not be old to you, but I learned to quilt in October after turning 30... I'm about to turn 36. Those scraps are old ;)

Start counting the days... my birthday and my one-year blogaversary are coming... I'm thinking giveaway...


"Magic" Paper/Teabag paper mini-review

Thanks to Kate's tip last week, I ordered some of this and got to try it out today. (This was originally posted, in almost this same form, on the quilting.about.com community forum.)

PURCHASING/PRICE: I purchased it from Etsy seller DogDaisy. She shipped very quickly from the UK -- I ordered it on 6/19 and it arrived on 6/25, neatly packaged with some tips for how to use it. Given the size of the sheets she sells (approx. 20"x30"), I thought the price was reasonable (especially since my favorite paper-piecing paper is a vellum that's probably $6+ for 25 letter-sized sheets).

  • This is a nice strong paper -- I got a few little tears, but nothing troublesome at all.
  • It's flexible, so it wasn't in the way when I was sewing curved units (I made a NYB block for Miss July).
  • It's also super lightweight, so it definitely could be left in the block without any noticible increase in thickness.
  • It's far superior to the other leave-in product I have, which is very stiff (Fun-dation, or some dumb name like that), and although that softens with washing, I can feel the extra thickness.
  • I haven't tried this yet, but I think it would work well as a light stabilizer for machine applique.
  • Because it's not 8.5x11 (which can be a con; see below), you're not limited to units you can directly print, and you don't have to sew through the tape or glue you used to stick the pages back together to get the bigger unit. This was helpful in my NYB block, actually, since EQ doesn't let you rotate pieces to fit the paper.
  • The biggest one for me is that I had to trace my foundations onto it. It was easy to see through, but it increases the margin of error, since I had to first print them onto regular paper, then trace onto the product. According to the notes from the Etsy seller, two layers can be ironed together for a stronger paper; I might try that, trim it to 8.5x11 and try it in the printer next time, just to see what happens.
  • It seemed to "catch" the iron just the littlest bit.* Turning down the temperature helped. There's no visible residue or anything on the soleplate, so I don't think it was melting or anything. (Of course, I also have a brand-new iron today, which seems to be much hotter than my other one, so there could be an element of user error here.) *I do this this is a user issue, actually, since I had the same problem with my Monkey Wrench blocks. The soleplate has a much "sharper" edge -- something I was looking for, but that takes a little getting used to.
  • The obvious one is availability, especially in the States -- I hate relying on a single source for a supply!
There are other things I could -- and probably will -- try with this product, but I thought I'd share my initial reactions. Don't look for me to try this, but the paper is dyable, and probably a whole lot of fun to play with once it doesn't look so much like a teabag!

Making a List...

Not of things to do, but of things that are done! It's a whole lot more satisfying ;)

  • Car has had it's 57,000 mile checkup... and three hours and many hundreds of dollars later, sounds just like new! It was supposed to be a simple oil change, so you can imagine my joy at the need for this service and a new motor mount to replace the one that had collapsed. Well, I'd sure be unhappy if the motor fell out, so I guess this is a good thing ;)
  • Ordered a new digital camera -- well, a refurbished one, actually. The repair for mine was going to be $80 plus tax, plus driving to the repair place twice, which is ~30 miles from work. I could get it online for $88 plus $6 or 7 for shipping. So, for equivalent cost, I saved myself a hassle. I hope!
  • Washed (and Retayned) the batiks I bought for birthday blocks, and washed a load of laundry.
  • Scanned, processed and sent images to Sophie for the JULY block lotto. (I did my June blocks -- those cute little stamp baskets -- early, so was treated to a sneak peek of the July theme -- I think it'll be very popular, to be honest!) After the lotto opens next week, I'll show you the blocks I made.
  • Made an appointment to meet my new GP and talk her into some prescriptions.
  • Made Joy's 9" New York Beauty block in ocean colors for Kate's Birthday Block Swap. Tested the new magic teabag paper... I like it, other than having to trace the pattern onto it, rather than run it through the printer. I'd show you the block, but have to wait for the camera! I'd probably do a couple of the color placements differently if I had to do it over, but all in all, I think it's pretty successful. Since it's not even July yet, I'll probably hold onto the block until the camera arrives, so I can get a pic before sending it off.
  • Wrote a little review of said magic teabag paper for the gals on the quilting.about.com forum, since it's such a hot topic in our birthday block swap group.
  • Covered a 2-foot square of insulation board with a little batting and some fabric for a new pin board. I should have covered all three of them (there's actually just enough fabric to make them all match!) but, like an idiot, didn't think of it until I had put the supplies away!
  • Pressed the rest of the half-square triangles open for my Fresh Squeezed quilt, then trimmed them to 4". There were at least 6.3 million of them, I swear. OK, it was only 164, but it was horribly dull. Luckily, trimming the strip-pieced units to size went much faster.
  • Actually MADE four of these Fresh Squeezed Monkey Wrench blocks. Loving this quilt!
  • Caught up (I think!) on responding to comments...
  • Cooked dinner. (and ate it, of course!)
  • Petted the cat.
I lead a fascinating life, don't I?!


What's next?

At the least, Miss July's block for the new Birthday Block Swap that the lovely Kate hosts on the quilting.about.com forum. Thanks to Kate's tip about an Etsy seller, I scored some of the special teabag tissue that's popular in the UK for paper piecing; it arrived today, so as soon as I get my new ocean-colored fabrics washed, Joy's 9" New York Beauty block is on deck. (A first for me -- cross fingers, please!)

I'd like to get ahead on some of the other months, too, since I have more play time in the summer. I also need to get started on my quilt for Toni's Miniature Booty II... I've got an idea, but not all of the supplies I need to try it out. AND work on my Fresh Squeezed beauty... if I'd suck it up and press and trim my HSTs, that should move quickly.

I keep thinking I should make a list of goals like so many others do, but I seem to have an aversion to it for some idea! Probably because it reinforces the idea that I'm a little over-committed to swaps again at the moment...

The Big Finish

Well, it's still slightly overexposed, but my post-processing skills aren't up to the task of fixing it! This is my finished quilt for Another Little Quilt Swap, and it's just shy of 20" square. And yes, it's square, although you couldn't prove it by the photo! There are five 6" blocks, and four tiny 3" blocks. Three of the 6" ones are from Beth Ferrier's Moondance Block of the Month (top right and the bottom two); the top left is from an Edyta Sitar pattern pack, and the center (which is my new favorite!) is straight out of EQ.

The Beth Ferrier blocks and the 3" blocks were sitting quietly waiting to be used in a quilt, so when faced with the need to make a new one and stat, they kindly jumped up and offered their services! Luckily, it seemed to work out -- I'd probably do a couple of things differently if I did it again, but all in all, I'm happy with how it turned out.

Here's a closeup of the middle, although it's rotated. Oops!

I quilted a simple starflower-type pattern in each of the 6" blocks (thank heaven for Golden Threads paper!) and then meandered the rest. It's all done in a Sulky rayon thread, which matches beautifully but is a little shinier than I would have liked.

Who IS the recipient you ask? Why, it's written right here on the back of the quilt:

Huh, must have erased that info accidentally. Guess I *do* know a little bit about post-processing photos after all ;) Nonetheless, the quilt is is now making it's way to someone... I hope that someone likes it!


Sneak Preview Redux

Not the world's greatest photo, but it'll do... my NEW mini quilt is done, and ready to mailed yesterday to... someone who hasn't received one yet ;) This is just a part of my new offering -- my co-worker who ALWAYS has her camera, didn't. We took two pics using the built-in camera on her Macbook... I was too close, so they're a little overexposed. Nonetheless, it saved me waiting around Walgreens for an hour waiting for one-hour photo processing from the film camera (which I did find). With luck, those will be exposed more properly and I can show you the full finished product later.

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Doin' a Happy Dance!

I'm all but done with my new ALQS quilt -- just half of the binding still to stitch by hand. I'm not sure I'd want to make a quilt under this kind of time constraint every time around*, but it did force me to make quick decisions and set reasonable goals. There are things I might do differently given the chance, but all in all, it's quite a nice little quilt if I do say so myself! In some ways, I like it better than the red and white one (even before it had a pink problem). I promise I'm not going to wash it -- I'm taking NO chances -- although I will carefully run the lint roller to remove the cat hair ;) One of my coworkers should be able to photograph it for me, too... sure wish I could even *find* the film camera -- I know there's a partial roll in it!

*For the record, Kate offered to talk to my swap partner to secure me an extension, but I wanted to at least try to finish on time. Fingers crossed, that won't be needed.


Weekend Update

My *new* ALQS quilt is already a top, and I've assembled the backing. I was truly stunned to find appropriate thread in my bin, so I just need to get it layered and quilted. I'm a little surprised at how much I like it, to be honest -- not that that's a bad thing!

Plus, I spent half the morning at the DMV and on the phone with GMAC -- again. After phoning their call center many times over two weeks to request a copy of the lien release letter so I can title my car in NJ, and getting the same "you'll have it in 24-48 hours" answer, I had a fit on Friday. I called, and refused to speak with anyone but a supervisor... I did relent on that point when I could hear that my call finally got routed to someone in the United States. She explained that there was no request in my account for this paperwork. I guess that's why I never got it! Twenty minutes later, she called me back to say it was being faxed at that moment to the DMV and my office (for my reference, and as a safety net!). Since I was already on the way home (we have half-days on Fridays in the summer), I decided to go to the DMV this morning. Where they did not have my fax. I went to the office, and I didn't have it either. Luckily, the woman I talked to in Kansas yesterday gave me her number, so I called it. Someone else answered, but she was able to get the paperwork off the other person's desk (where it had the fax receipt attached, mind you -- where do lost faxes go, anyway?) and send it again while I waited for it. Back to the DMV and HALLELUJAH we got the job done! I've got plates and my registration; just need an inspection and I'm set.

In some ways, that feels better than getting my (second) ALQS top done ;)


What's red and white and pink all over?

I've been debating whether I should talk about this... and decided today that I might as well! My red and white flying geese ALQS quilt isn't as red and white as it once was. For those who have been coveting it, I'm afraid I won't be sending it to anyone.

See, being such a traditional quilt, it really wanted to be washed so it would crinkle a little. Plus, the leave-in foundation "paper" I used (not the nice stuff Kate has, trust me!) felt a little stiff. I made a sample to be sure the ink from the printer wouldn't come off if it got wet... since the sample passed the test, I simply doused the quilt in cold water and tossed it in the dryer.

You know what happened, don't you? One (or more, I guess) of the beautiful reds from my scrap bin apparently isn't colorfast. It. bled. like. a. bitch. And then went into the dryer for 45 minutes. I cried when I pulled it out and saw it was now red, white and PINK.

And every time I look at it, my heart breaks again. I loved how it turned out. My feeble attempt at removing the pink wasn't successful, and I can't bring myself to try anything more drastic in case it makes it even worse.

So, I've started on Plan B, which is actually coming together quite nicely, given I just dreamed it up this afternoon! It's quite different from the original quilt -- and my blocks are almost finished... a little math, and I'll be on my way again tomorrow. I like how it looks so far... too bad you can't see it ;)

Sunburst is Mine!

I must be one of the luckiest swappers! Lorraine's amazing Sunburst quilt landed on my doorstep today. The mailman did NOT force it into my teeny-tiny mailbox, thank heaven, as the package was practically overflowing with goodness already ;)

First things first: Lorraine, this is an amazing quilt. I love it. It's perfect (even if it does have pink in it!). I've been coveting it for quite a while, and I'm thrilled it's mine.

Second: You all know my camera is broken (had hoped to get down to the repair center today, but I had to fight with GMAC for a while instead). I borrowed (OK, copied!) this pic from Lorraine's blog in order to show it to you. Once I'm able, I'll take more pics and show all of the details.

Third: Lorraine also sent an assortment of postcards, a magnet, a little tasty treat (I've never had Koala!), an Australian quilt magazine and a DVD. Totally too generous. Pictures, oh, for pictures. I'll try to keep all the goodies corralled until such time as I can show them off properly!

Fourth: Thanks to Kate a million times over for organizing this swap and everything else she organizes.

Now, I must go work on *my* ALQS package for my super-secret partner...


Bronx Zoo

Continuing my weekend recap -- and I'd better hurry, before the week is over! Yesterday's field trip apparently drove me to napping -- I fell asleep on the couch for almost three hours in the evening. Yup, got a ::great:: night's sleep, complete with wacky dreams.

Luckily, my non-quilty sister had a better day plan, and she sent me some pics from our day trip on Sunday. We went to the Bronx Zoo. If you didn't know, we always try to visit a zoo on our summer vacation. Pictures from last summer's visit to the National Zoo are in my flickr album; we actually got some good panda pics if you like that sort of thing.

Anyway, getting to the zoo meant getting up early to catch a 7:45 NJTransit train New York Penn Station. Two hours later, after a transfer to the subway and a three-block walk, we were at the zoo. It was a horribly humid day, but we had fun. We saw some gorillas in the mist (literally), took a monorail ride through an Asian area, saw a giraffe family and generally enjoyed our visit. Too bad the new Madagascar exhibit wasn't open yet...

There are a LOT of peacocks at the Bronx Zoo. And it's mating season -- we did see some displays of their beautiful feathers, but we also saw a lot of males and females just wandering around. We were looking at something completely different, when Lisa looked down and noticed a female practically at our feet and really within touching distance. When we started talking about her, she got annoyed and got up to walk away -- and revealed...

Bronx Zoo - Pea Hen and chicks
Two little chicks! You can see she's walking away, and the chicks are right behind her! They hopped right up on the rock and toddled off. We were so surprised we just stood there and watched -- and got this picture ;)

For amusement, here's Lisa with a rather statuesque rhino. See more of her Bronx Zoo pictures here.

Bronx Zoo - Lisa and Rhino

The zoo trip took much of the day... we had leftover pizza for supper and watched 27 Dresses. The funniest part is her trying on the dresses (including some interesting thematic numbers)... had they cut the movie to about 27 minutes, it might have been funny. Ah well... no rhinos were harmed in the making of the movie, so I guess I won't worry about it ;)


Paisley Toy for Zoe

Lisa sent me some pics today... most importantly, let's show off Zoe's new toy, which is this cute bone-shaped softie, complete with squeaker. Love the fabric!

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Lisa and I had a great weekend... we went "down the shore" on Saturday (I don't understand why it's said that way, but it is!) by way of a Sonic Drive In (YUM!) and Quilting Possibilities. I swear I didn't know they were practically across the street from each other, but I also didn't turn down Lisa's invitation to visit the shop! Lovely store, too far away to be my LQS (although justified, surely, by proximity to Sonic)... and we did a little damage in a short amount of time!

Lisa picked out a pretty lime and purple and blue paisley, which, with the addition of a squeaker, became a new toy for Zoe. This one's shaped like a bone (hmm... should have taken a picture of that!), and hopefully it will last longer than 54 second! Lisa has a real knack for putting fabrics together -- I'm good, but she's better and faster with color. I knew I had to buy some things for the new birthday block swap on quilting.about.com, so we got the only things I could remember -- three ocean colors for Joy's New York Beauties, and some three hot batiks for Margaret's. I'll need a couple more things, but several of the blocks should come at least mostly from stash. Whew!

Now, I've spent FAR too much time writing this post (and getting distracted by other things while doing it!). I'm about dead on my feet, and tomorrow's a "field trip" day at work, so I need to get myself organized for a decent bedtime ;)


Delayed (aka Friday the 13th)

My sister is coming for a visit this weekend... maybe ;) I always love those flight plans that require one to fly west in order to fly east (or vice versa)... she went from a small airport in Michigan to Milwaukee, where they canceled her flight to Newark Liberty. It's the airline's fault, so they tried to find her a spot on another carrier, but there weren't any. She's on her way (in a few minutes, I hope!) to LaGuardia instead, where the airline will provide some kind of ground transportation to Newark.

Call me chicken, but there's no way I'm driving to LaGuardia! That's multiple bridges, plus going across or around Manhattan. In the dark. Without a legal auto registration. Yes, I'd have Jill, but no, I'm not going. The car service or bus or whatever will have to sufflice.

For the record, before we know the airline would do the ground transportation thing, I did offer to take the train in and meet her somewhere so she didn't have to deal with public transportation alone at night with luggage. I'd say I'm happy I don't have to do that, except that Lisa will probably read this, and that wouldn't be very nice ;)


I think I might be infected...

with the swapping bug again! Yes, I have more UFOs than I dare count. Yes, I have more fabric than I need. Yes, I have as little time to sew as ever. And YES, I'm in love with these little quilts!

Kate only nudged me toward the edge, I jumped joyfully into the abyss ;) I signed up for The Quilting Pirate's Miniature Booty Swap #2. There's still room if you want to dive in, too...

The best part is that one doesn't end up with a pile of blocks to add to the UFO pile until guilt turns them into something -- the actual FINISHED quilt arrives in the mail. One has only to hang it on the wall to enjoy.



It's been about a million years since I was able to participate in the Block Lotto on the forum at quilting.about.com. I finally managed these two blocks this month... I'll confess, the opportunity to use this itty-bitty-baby rickrack pushed me over the edge. It certainly wasn't the opportunity to make baskets! (I'm one of the 3.7 people on the face of the earth that aren't big basket block fans...)

The rules are one b/w print and one bright per 6" block, with handle options for applique, rickrack and chain stitch embroidery. You're now looking at the sum total of b/w prints in my stash. There was a 7" square of the music print, so I couldn't make the "opposite" block with the b/w for the background. I have only little scraps left. The plaid block is made from a piece of Fresh Squeezed, and it also polished off the last bit of this print that was available. There's enough left to eke out another plaid basket, but no b/w print for a background. (Identical blocks are against the rules, and I don't happen to collect b/w prints like someone I know!)

If you want to make baskets of your own, the pattern is here.
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and every news station is giving the "official" definition of heat wave! (Three consecutive days -- or more -- with temps of 90* or higher.) The first one of the season starts tomorrow.

Today, on the other hand, was the official start of summer hours at my office. We work an extra four hours M-Th, then close at noon on Fridays for a jump-start on the weekend. I had big plans: go to the DMV for driver's license and car registration/plates. 90 minutes later, I left... with my new driver's license. No registration... since moving, I can't find the payoff letter from GMAC, and my title shows the lien. The DMV will accept a fax directly from GMAC, which is good, but I have to find the loan number in order to get it from them! I'm sensing another trip through my seriously unorganized "important papers" this weekend. On the flip side, I *did* find the title (which was MIA before I moved), so I didn't have to first go to the NYS DMV to get a duplicate.

Hope your day was somewhat more interesting!


How are you going to celebrate...

the International Year of the Potato? And how did it get to be June before I knew we were celebrating one of my favorite foods?!

First, let's think of all the delicious ways we can eat them: mashed, boiled, baked, fried, chips, mmmmm..... I can't decide my favorite!

So yes, my first thought was of love for the potato. But as I read the International Year of the Potato website, I started to have second thoughts. Peru (where the potato originated) basically lobbied the United Nations to "focus world attention on the importance of the potato in providing food security and alleviating poverty." [source] The effort was successful, and the UN resolution noted that potatoes can help meet such millennium development goals as eradicating poverty.

OK, that's good -- I'm all for fighting poverty and reducing child mortality. (Well, I'm good *other* than the potato lobbying efforts...)

But here's where I get confused. If the potato is being marketed as a substitute for grains and rice, highlighted now by the rising cost and shortage of rice, won't there eventually be a potato shortage? And isn't dependence on a single crop (rice, potatoes, wheat, corn, whatever) bad for us in general? A bad year or years could be devastating. What about the effects of:
  • Drought -- remember "We Are The World," Ethiopia, 1984
  • Disease -- as a pertinent example, I offer the Irish Potato Famine, Ireland, 1845-52
  • Popularity -- like using corn to make bio-fuel in America, today (although I do kind of like the idea of these alternative fuels)
Wouldn't BALANCING our food dependencies make more sense? Use some corn, some potatoes, some rice, etc. so a bad year for one doesn't spell famine for thousands of people.

I dunno. I like potatoes better than rice, so I eat them more. That's only bad for my waistline. But I think buying influence on behalf of a country -- or a potato -- is wrong, and it's bad for the world and our food supply.

Rant over. I'm having mashed potatoes for supper tomorrow!

Good Fortune

Look what was buried in my mailbox yesterday! Vickie made some really need mixed media postcards the other day, and she was nice enough to send me this Fortune card. Isn't it yummy? There's stuff in there I can't identify, other than to say I like it! (She says cheesecloth, silk fibers, yarns, angelina, tulle and then metallic thread for quilting/finishing.)

Thanks, Vickie!


Why didn't I think of this yesterday?

Since these are small, I dropped them on the scanner bed (hence, the, um, interesting quality of the images!).

The orange-y one is 6"; I don't know what it's called, but I wanted to try a ruler I bought on sale that makes those units. Kind of boring, although I happen to love that fabric -- it's a commercial batik/handdye that looks like it has water spots.

The purple LeMoyne star is also 6". It has the same black background as both the blue blocks -- it's a Kauffman solid black sateen. I like it, but it picks up every little speck of stuff. (Sorry, Kate -- I didn't know in advance!)

The blue one is really only 2-1/4" finished size -- it kind of feels like it wants to be in the middle of something else... Remember these geese are the mistakes (reversed colors) from the center of the 12" triple sawtooth block.

So, there you go. That swap is DONE :) And these will go in the mail as soon as I find the post office...

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Flickr Game

The Game
Originally uploaded by AJB30
Created with fd's Flickr Toys.

1. Pleated Purse in Amy Butler Acanthus, 2. No-knead bread, 3. IMG_9317, 4. Gizmo, 5. Alpha List, 6. Icy Coke, 7. Tulips and Windmill in Holland, 8. 14th August 2007 / Day 226, 9. Blessed Are The "Piece"makers, 10. The Old Library, 11. Lazy Cow - Flatford, Dedham, Essex, England - Sunday June 10th 2007 - Highest Explore position - #1 on June 14 2007.WOW!!.:O):O):O), 12. DM nine

A fun flickr game, via Jane. 12 questions, a little flickr search, and a great mosaic-making tool. Enjoy!