Thursday, December 30, 2010

Creativity Experiment

Before I get started on the rest of this post, Did you notice my new blog design? Tonya  mentioned that she just noticed I had pages.  My lightbulb went off and I said "My tabs are not easily seen."  I fixed it.   I really like the new layout.

I have been reading various things that are supposed to help creativity.  I have done this before and found that some of these things work for me.
Honestly after all the rush getting things ready for Christmas, I feel like I need a break.  So one of the (hopefully) simple things I am going to do is take a "time out" from sewing and blogging for a couple of weeks.  Now, I am not promising that I can make it two weeks.  I am hoping that this will let my creativity stew up some great idea and get back on track.

Now, I know that I can't take a blogging break without letting some of you know it. A year or so ago, I went on a cruise and didn't buy the internet package - Whoa!  I got back ashore and discovered that someone actually missed me.  A couple of you were ready to call out the CIA, FBI and any other agency that could track me down. (Thanks, that made me feel really good, after I got over thinking "what? I can't take a week off?")  So for this break I am saying "Hey y'all, I am fine, I just need a rest"  

That said, I may have to come online a bit to read some of you blogs so I don't fall too far behind. (LOL, I do have a bit of a net addiction you know)  But if I don't comment, don't worry, I will be back. With any luck, I will be better than ever.

So as this is probably my last post for this year - let me say:  Happy New Year to you!  I hope your 2011 is filled with love, wonder and lots of good times.
Peace be with you till we meet again. I plan to have some fun things going the next time I post.

Oh yes, so many of you have been wonderful to me this year.  Thanks for making my year so good.


PS.  I will NOT be replying to comments on this post.  I hope you understand - it is part of the break thing.
See ya mid-January.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

What?

My thermometer reads 18F this morning.  My local weather says it is 16F.

Wait a minute!!! This is Alabama. Therefore this is too ____ Cold.  (fill in the blank with your expletive of choice)

It is good weather to have one of these on the bed (or maybe three!)



For those of you with cold weather today - Stay warm.
I want to go to the tropics for a bit.  I know Barb  is thinking "What have we done?!?! since they moved back from American Samoa right into a deep freeze of winter.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

The Angel Sang

A few of you know that I am active in our church choir. The fact is I love music. But then that is no surprise to those of you who have been reading my blog for a while.  I was hoping that the Christmas Eve service would show up in our "recorded services" on the church website. So far it hasn't.

However, I did find December 19th's service where we sang "Ave the Angel Sang."   I do not have any solo in this.  The first verse is sung by a dear friend whom I love to hear sing. I am however singing in the men's parts on this.  Since I don't hear anything "horrible" in it, I must have done just fine. The song runs 3 minutes 28 seconds.


Click the play button below OR  the direct link.




The photo of the Angel is courtesy of Dave Burks Photography (used by permission) It is copyright so please don't steal it. Thank you.



We have lots of snow here with a possibility of another inch this afternoon. Brrrrr.




Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas
from this fellow

And from this fellow



Friday, December 24, 2010

Winners!!! Merry Christmas To ALL

We have winners.  I couldn't pick easily so I let the random number generator pick the winners. 
 Drum rollllllllllllllllll...........




Number 8




Cyndi said...8










Hi Gene! I'm Cyndi...Melissa's friend of whom she spoke of in her comment. And yes, I have had a love affair with quilts, but have been too "shy" to pursue my interest (translated - scared to death to try!). I only started sewing about 5 years ago and have taught myself all I know (which is really not much but I'm trying!). I have been making handbags for those said 5 years and am now ready to try my hand at quilting! So I would absolutely LOVE to win an on-line quilting course...and the fact that it's more for beginners is right up my alley!

Oh, and does it help that I'm from the South? Although I live in Ohio, I'm from Baton Rouge, LA and am headed there tomorrow to spend Christmas with my family! See, we're practically neighbors! LOL!

Wishing you and your family the most joyous and blessed Christmas and all the best for the New Year!


XOXO,

Cyndi

P.S. I'm now following you, too!





and


Micki said...
22




I would love to give this to a friend who is a beginner quilter.
Sounds like it would be fun for someone new to quilting.
Micki




______________________________




_


Yaay for the winners. 


And of course you are all winners in my book.  Merry Christmas to you all.   I wish you peace and joy and good sewing. 


Oh....bonus link for those who weren't chosen... a link for 50% off http://www.sympoz.com/app/ext/3001034.html

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

A Class -y Giveaway





A few weeks ago, I received an email asking if I would review an on-line quilting class "Quilting Quickly: Patterns, Techniques & Tips".   As I am always eager to learn, I took the class. This class is offered by sympoz. com  Sympoz uses internet technology to offer online classes at your convenience. These classes have interaction with the teacher and other students to some degree.  They also offer classes on other subjects such as finance and cooking.

I took the class "Quilting Quickly: Patterns, Techniques & Tips" and found it well done.  I will say honestly that I think it was a bit below my skill level. However for a beginner or someone wanting a basics course in quilt piecing, this is a good one.  All of the projects are done with pre-cut fabrics like charm packs, jelly rolls, etc.  I think for a beginner course it would have been great if there was a "Cutting 101" included.  Still, the things taught fit perfectly with the title of the course.  Also a number of nice basic patterns to make quick quilts are taught. 
The instructor was engaging, friendly and fun to watch. 


Now for the good- GREAT part!  I have two free classes to give away.  How about a class for the New Year?  This is open to everyone. I would say that there are a few of my readers who don't need it for themselves, but perhaps they have a  friend or relative that has said "I would like to learn to quilt" to whom they could give this class. (think -doesn't live close enough for us to sit down together) 
I also know, from emails with some of  the folks who have commented, that I do have readers who would really enjoy, grow and learn from this class. 

So here are the guidelines: 

Post a comment - if you are a "no comment" blogger I will NOT hunt you down.  You can however put an email in the comment just type AT for @ and DOT for the period to avoid spam-bots harvesting your address. 

Please do NOT blog about this as I want the winners to be from my normal blog readers.  (Hey, be happy! you are one of my readers. Ha ha.) You can privately tell a friend if you think they might miss this being so close to Christmas.   

I would like to hear if you want this for yourself or for a friend/relative.   
Creativity in your answer could help.  I will definitely do one by Random Number Generator. BUT I may decide to give the other based on a good and freative answer.    (Please don't beg, that won't help you a bit.) However, "pick me" is fine as PART of your comment.   

Gee, I sound like a grouchy old man.  Ha ha.  Some days I am. 

Entries will end at 3 p.m. Central time, USA, on December 24.   

Okay, I will TRY to pick and post  winners on Christmas eve.  However, that will be a pretty busy day for me.  So I will definitely try to pick winners by Sunday night. 



BONUS!!! If you don't win and wish to purchase the class, I can offer you a discount code for 60% off. 

Monday, December 20, 2010

Last Minute Gifts

Wow, I really got down to the wire this time.  Since Dad's surgery took up a good bit of the time I had planned to make some gifts, I got really behind.  I was also very distracted too.  I had planned to make hot pads to place on tables and matching pot holders for some of my co-workers.  However, getting so close to the wire I am only managing the hot pads.  
I love a nice hot pad to put down when I have a dish that is too hot for the table.  I far prefer them to trivets.  With trivets, I am always sure that the dish will get unbalanced and slide off an edge and spill.  I have seen it happen.  Maybe I am just clumsy. Ha ha.  Still I love a hot pad for the table.
For these I used some sample blocks I made quite a while back.  I decided that it would give me a jump start on making them.     They have a layer of cotton batting and a layer of Insul-Bright to reflect the heat.

These are roughly 12" square and totally imperfect.  I did different quilting patterns on each of them.

While I was sewing them, I watched a movie.  I had really avoided watching this one due to the subject matter of mental illness.  The film is "A Beautiful Mind" and it deals with schizophrenia.  I was surprised at how well it was handled and also by how much I learned from it.  You see, in my early thirties, I worked in a business office at a state mental hospital.  I met and dealt with some of the patients.  It was mostly an enjoyable job due to my great co-workers. But it could be stressful.  Watching this film made me think of some of the people I saw there.  I wish I had understood then what this film showed me about their "realities."  We should always be kind to people, even though they seem different. We never know the struggles they are facing.  

Peace be with you.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Design Idea - Electric Quilt

A few weeks ago, I saw a picture of a quilt that struck me.  It is really a simple design, however it looks like there are blocks set on point.  Setting blocks on point is scary to  a newbie quilter.  While I am past being scared by it, maybe some of my readers aren't.
First the picture:

Then the explanation:
There are two simple blocks in this design.  A quarter square triangle and a nine patch.  The trick is to alternate the direction of the quarter square blocks in each row.  That makes the square that appears to be on point be solid. If you put them all the same direction your quilt will look like this:
Not nearly as effective, it is?  I did use the dark blue in all of my nine patches (remember this is just done in EQ5, I have NOT made this quilt - yet)  However, you could alternate those also: 
That gives more contrast in all the blocks, I also alternated the center of the 9 patch in this one too.  Honestly the first one shown is easiest to make. Why, you can speed piece the 9 patch blocks by making strip sets and sub-dividing them.  Also, I like the way the first one makes the corner and center square of the nine patch seem to float in the dark "on point" blocks. 
If you wanted to get really wild with this, you could do applique blocks instead of the nine patches.  Go ahead and see what YOU  can come up with.  Let your imagination run free! 



Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Layer Cake Quilt Along Block 4

I had forgotten that today was the day that the next quilt along block would be posted.  When I saw it, I got excited all over again.  I am loving the quilt along.  I can't say enough how it gets me to make a quilt and it doesn't seem like any real work.
Todays block was designed by Sherri McConnell at A Quilting Life
Here is my version:

I am wishing I had put some bright yellow in there somewhere to add a more powerful color pop. I think the star points and background are a bit bland.  However, I know it will all work out great when it is added to the other blocks. The push and pull of the colors that match in the other blocks will do that magic.  And if it doesn't I can always add a bit of applique on this block in the "geese" sections to pop it out. 
Finding those types of solutions is a fun creative adventure.  



Monday, December 13, 2010

Sewing - Yes I do remember

Finally, after doing some chores (and skipping a few others) I got to sit at the sewing machine for a bit. Back in August/September, the lovely Bev at 44th Street Fabric Blog sent me two charm packs of Bliss that I won in their giveaway.  On the card in the package was written "Enjoy!" That sounded like a good thing to do.   So Sunday morning I opened the packs and sorted them.  Then Sunday night, while the last load of laundry was drying, I sat at the sewing machine.

I was thrilled to discover that I still know how to sew a 9 patch:

My corners even lined up.  I "cheated" and finger pressed the rows and didn't get up from the machine until the block was finished.  Hey, it worked great.  Then I took that nine patch and whacked it into four pieces.  

Guess what? I even remembered how to do a D9P (disappearing nine patch) 

Even though this is not a Christmas fabric line, with the reds and greens it feels nice and festive for the holiday season.   I usually lay out a D9P this way.  However, there are other ways you can do it.  One I saw did it using the small squares and bars as sashing and cornerstones. It looked great. However I like the way this layout works out. The un-cut squares seem to float in this setting. If you do it a limited selection of fabrics you really see the pattern that develops.  
Here is a picture of one I made a year or more ago so you can see what I mean. 
I did add a piano key border on the sides of it. Don't let that confuse your eyes. 

And if you need a lesson on the D9P here is the one I learned from at Quilts and ATCs

Ahh... My mojo has returned.  I am excited all over again about sewing.  Remember if you "lose your mojo" to just take a few days off then work on something simple. The elegance of simplicity can get you back into your groove! 






Sunday, December 12, 2010

Before anyone asks ---

I am still alive, I am doing well.  What I am not doing is sewing. (((sigh)))  Dad's doctor discovered an aneurysm in his abdomen. We got it seen about by a specialist who said surgery was the best option. Last week was spent largely in waiting rooms at a wonderful hospital - UAB in Birmingham Alabama. 
Since I don't do much hand work, no sewing got done.  I am behind on Christmas presents that I was going to sew.  I just may have to be creative and give some of the items I had left from the sale in November (that I haven't gotten around to posting on Etsy --sigh again)


EDITED to add: Surgery was successful and Dad is now home resting and recovering. 


Yesterday I changed cell phone companies and now I have a cool toy - the Motorola Droid X. By a special promotion, I got it free.  I will now be a little better "connected" I think.  Ha ha...but I played with it yesterday and didn't sew again.  


Boys and their toys (tech toys, for this boy) 



Thursday, December 09, 2010

Father Christmas, Saint Nicholas, Santa Claus

Happy Holidays to you!
While I was over at Stray Stitches yesterday enjoying her giveaway post, (see yesterdays post on my blog)  I saw her Santa collection.  Depending on where in the world you live there are many versions of "Santa" - Father Christmas, Saint Nicholas, Santa Claus as well as a few other Holiday Visitors who leave gifts.  I have a small collection of my own Father Christmas/Santa figures.  So today I am sharing them with you.
While I really should take individual pictures so that you can see the fine details, time is scarce for me right now. So I did a collection picture. 

Six of the figures are from a friend who does wonderful work with cypress knees. His website is Whittler's Hollow -you can also get to his blog from there.  Currently he has five unsold figures left online in the 2010 gallery.
One of my Santa figures is a gourd that was painted by lil ole me.
There is a ceramic Santa and a teddy bear Santa that someone gave to me.
And there are carved Santa pins and a pendant that other carvers have created.  (do you see the cross-eyed Santa pendant? isn't he fun!)
There is also a small carved figure that is carved.  It was a gift also.

I will tell you a secret:  These figures stay on display all year at my house.  Everyday we should remember to be loving and giving.
Peace to you.


Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Great Giveaway - Ending soon

There is an awesome giveaway over at Stray Stitches.  (I didn't put a link there because I want you to read to the end.)
The lovely and talented Linda is giving away a "motherload" prize.  It is a Thimbleberries 2006 BOM kit that she describes as "mostly complete"
I hope she doesn't mind that I "borrowed" her picture You will have to go to her blog to click on it and enlarge..

You need to go look at it and read her description for the full effect.  I would love to win this -even though it is NOT my typical style. Why?  Because the quilt she shows is BEAUTIFUL

Personal update before the link: For those of you who don't know, my Dad is in the hospital so I have been away from the sewing machine lately.  The really GOOD NEWS is that he came thru the surgery very well. He is now in a regular room and will most likely come home tomorrow.  I had to take a break because I have a dental appointment to keep today.  Thanks for all the well wishes, prayers and thoughts.  If I don't respond to comments you will know why.

Okay Ready to go enter for the great giveaway????  Stray Stitches Big Giveaway is waiting for you.  Hurry it ends Dec10th at 9pm PST.
Good luck ((to me))) Ha ha.
My dear readers, I love you all!


Saturday, December 04, 2010

LCQA Update

I finally grabbed a few minutes to sew the latest block for the LayerCake quilt along. (link in sidebar)
Here is my block.

Now I remember why I don't use stripes in pieced blocks - I lack the grace to line them up nicely.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Life Gets in the Way

Some of my close blog friends know the reason  that I have been "missing" for a few days.  So I thought I would let the rest of you know also.  My Dad was diagnosed with an abdominal aneurysm just before Thanksgiving. We have been working on getting him seen and treated. Yesterday was a long day, sitting at a major medical clinic to get tests and see the specialist.  Dad is scheduled for surgery next week.  My online time will still be limited for a bit. I hope to get the 500 post giveaway started this weekend, assuming I get time to breathe for that long.  (I do put thought into it.)
If I don't respond to your blog posts, know that I was just too busy, and I am truly sorry.
Meanwhile, here is a painting I did a while back for you to see:



Sunday, November 28, 2010

Alabama Spinner Take Two



As you may know, I am doing the Layer Cake Quilt Along at Moose on the Porch Quilts. As I designed the first block, I didn't do it the week my design appeared. The original block was not in the fabrics that I am using for the quilt along, so I decided to make it again in the proper fabrics. Now I have a block that will blend well with the other blocks in my "quilt along" quilt. It is not perfect but it is just fine with me.
The center is also fussy cut from the same line of fabric. Those flowers will appear in another block somewhere along the way.
Quilt alongs are exciting to me. Plus, for me anyway, it is an easy way to make a quilt without pressure to "get it done." The last quilt along was over before I was ready for it to be over.

How do you feel about quilt alongs? Does not knowing what the various blocks will look like affect your feelings about it?

Saturday, November 27, 2010

New Penny Whistle

I got a new penny whistle set from Ellis Whistles, UK  It is a great instrument. I am learning the differences in it and my Burke whistle.  (This is similar to switching to a different sewing machine - even though they do the same things you have to work a little differently)  So there are a few mistakes. Oops..sorry. They aren't bothering me too much, I hope they don't bother you. As for the ball cap, I had to hide my unkempt hair. Ha ha.. it is a lazy morning, what can I say?
First I did an ancient hymn tune:




Then I did one of my "on the fly" compositions. That is, I make it up as I go. Hence, I sometimes make little mistakes on these also.





 

Thursday, November 25, 2010

One thing I am thankful for

In the United States, today is Thanksgiving.  I am thankful for many things. So I decided to pick ONE and share it.
I am thankful for music. I love to listen to music.  I love to play music, even though there are many people with far more talent, I play anyway.  Music is a gift.  I am giving you the gift of my performance. *Sorry you can't return it for a refund*
I hope this "Happy Tune" makes you smile.


This video has also been added to my Videos-Entertainment page.
Okay, I am going to add a second thing I am thankful for - my friends and readers who put up with my playing and never complain, but often say nice things. I love you guys and gals!
 

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Great Surprise!

I got an email yesterday that had a great surprise for me.  I had entered a giveaway at Quilting Arts  on Pokey Bolton's blog.  The prize I will be getting is a "fat stash of fabric from Riley Blake."  I love the bright happy prints by Riley Blake.   Yaay.

Since my comment had mentioned my penny whistle (and that was what got Pokey's attention!) I sent a link to my video with my mailing info.


 Now you have to see this:
I now have a comment on my YouTube video from Pokey Bolton - Yippeee!!!! I love nice comments.
I would put a picture from the YouTube site, but you can just click on the link.


We love this! Thanks for sharing this video with us Quilting Arts editors!














Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Easy Crazy Quilts - The how to

I know that I could do a video showing you how to do the crazy quilts like this one:

And this one:

But I discovered that the author of the book I learned to do this from has a video of the basics on youtube. So here is your demo - direct from the source.




 

Monday, November 22, 2010

A Black Friday Sales Alert



I thought I would let you in on this in case you want to do your Black Friday Shopping.  You can start on Wednesday.  How cool is that?   


AccuQuilt’s Black Friday Sale – Lowest Prices Ever!

AccuQuilt is giving its blogger friends a sneak peek of their upcoming Black Friday sale!  As you all know, Black Friday has become a great shopping tradition among Americans everywhere.  However, a majority of consumers now prefer to shop online to escape the dangers of stampede and the hassles of long lines at stores.  If you can’t find the items you want, it’s easy to hop from one store website to the next without being disappointed.  Savvy online shoppers know how to get the most out of Black Friday sales by utilizing blogs, Facebook, Twitter, and other websites to get the inside track on tremendous sales.

AccuQuilt is offering the lowest prices ever on some of their most popular items plus special Daily Deals you don’t want to miss!  AccuQuilt’s Black Friday sale begins on Wednesday, November 24th and ends on Cyber Monday, November 29th!  Don’t miss out – visit accuquilt.com starting Wednesday to place your order!



Now tell me, what is on your list to find a deal on for Black Friday?  Do you go out and shop in the madness or stay home and look for the cyber deals.   I am very much a stay home/cyber deal kind of guy. 


 

Sunday, November 21, 2010

500 & More photos from the Sale

Wow.  This feels special. I was surprised when I started to make this post. I happened to notice that I have 499 posts already.  That means this will be 500! I think a giveaway is in order but I am not prepared at the moment. So keep watching.  I will figure it out and make an announcement probably the week after Thanksgiving. (An American Holiday that will be on November 25th this year.)

Meanwhile, the actual reason for this post is to share some of the other photos from the sale.

Our minister's wife, Rita, is a lovely and talented lady. She sings, plays guitar and does fiber art.  Yes, she is a weaver.  Her works have been juried into some very nice shows. Here are some pictures of her work.


This last picture is a close up of the weaving.  I adore her work, but it is all women's apparel so I am out of luck. 

You may notice that Rita is not in these pictures.  There is a reason for that.  You see,  Rita had another commitment on Saturday so she got a helper to run the booth for her.

Another vendor, who was next to me, is a fantastic nature photographer, Dave Burks. Dave has a natural eye for composition. He is also a close friend so it was great to have his booth next to mine.
Dave prefers to be behind the camera so he isn't in his booth either.  Be sure to visit Dave's site and see his great work. 

And of course no church sale would be complete without FOOD! The church ladies had lovely baked goods that they were still putting on the table as I was taking pictures. 
Kimber gave me a lovely smile - but oooh...look at those cakes!!! (Don't look now, but there is Dave in the background -in the white shirt. Shhh...don't tell him I put his picture in.)


Mmmm.. and canned goods are nice too.  I think these are some type of pickle.  There was something for everyone. 
And to round things off, let's have a couple more of the outdoor pictures. 
A close up of the Japanese maple that I showed you in the last post. 

That glorious texture would make a great fabric print. 

Peace be with you.