Friday, March 30, 2012

Farmer's Wife Friday: Marry a Good Farmer

This farmer's wife is from the East  Coast, Worcester County, Massachusetts. While not "sugar-coating" life on the farm, she is upbeat in listing the benefits of living life on a farm rather than in the city. She notes that for a cheerful home, it "needs healthy, playing children, the spirit of work and also the spirit of love and inter-responsibility," where the children can learn the spirit of work, along with lessons in economy, by raising an animal, selling it and learning how to manage the proceeds from the sale.

#29, Economy

Like others, this wife stresses that the woman is the partner of the farmer, doing real work, often doing the bookkeeping as well. While there is much labor, much of the tedium has been eliminated by electricity and machinery.

In addition, the "phonograph, the automobile, and the many community houses furnish pleasure for the country people." I have no doubt that many snowballs were thrown in those East Coast winters in Massachusetts.

#81 Snowball

Even though finances are always a problem on the farm (and continue to be so even now), valuable lessons are learned. And "prosperity and all good come to those who work industriously and have within their souls the love of their work."  I would say that is good advice in the present day, whether you live on a farm or in the city.

Carla always has interesting insights into the letters, along her cheery blocks! So I hope you will head over there and say hi. Although she might not answer back right away--she is off sewing this weekend at a guild retreat.

ETA: The winner of the bag of scraps is the first person who left a comment on the post, Becky, who said:
I hate being #1 - especially when a prize I REALLY want is involved! Maybe I will make this is huge long comment, so another comment will sneak into the #1 spot.

I LOVE the name Granny is Amish - so clever and I really like the use of solids in this block - very authentic.

Sunday Morning Quilts just shot to the top of my "To Buy" list - thanks for the great review.

As mentioned before, I would love to win your scraps! I don't have nearly enough for the projects I want to tackle. Thanks for the chance to win!

Which just goes to prove that RNG really is random!

Note to Deborah from Lima, Peru, who asked about the cute llama fabric.  I tried to contact you but couldn't find your address. So if you happen to be reading this, the fabric was designed by Laurie Wisbrun and is available in her etsy shop.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

WIP Wednesday

On Sunday, I decided to raise the "wonder walls" that comprise my design wall by about six inches.  I have two of them, side by side, and they each have a set of grommets on top, so it just involved raising the nails in the wall. In so doing, of course nearly all the Farmer's Wife blocks fell to the floor. They are still there. Definitely a Work in Progress.
 This cute guy turned 4 today.
He had a pirate party the other day with his friends. So of course he needed a new pillow case. Made out of pirate treasure map fabric.
Among other projects, which made a pretty pile of scraps...
...I worked on my granny square quilt, which I am enjoying immensely, by the way.
And the quilt already has a name: Granny was Amish. The name makes me smile.

There is still time to win some scraps here.

Thanks, Lee, for hosting this every week.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Tag Team

I have been tagged by two of my favorite bloggers, Lucy from Charm About You and Carla from Lollyquiltz. They each asked some very interesting questions, but twenty-two questions might be more information than you really care to know about me. So I think I'll just pick and choose. Does that work for you?

Alrighty then, here we go:

What's the most spontaneous thing you've ever done?

Anyone who knows me would not consider me a spontaneous person, so probably answering this in a reasonable amount of time.

What is your favorite time of day?

Morning. Not that you asked, but my least favorite time of the day is 4 to 5 p.m. I'm not sure why. I think maybe it was because my mother has taught piano lessons since I was young. I would come home from school with lots I wanted to tell her, but had to be quiet because she was teaching piano.

Which color of fabric do you use the most?

I like scrappy quilts, so I like to throw lots of colors into the mix.

What's the best concert you've ever been to?

Hands down, the Irish group, the Chieftains. We saw them on a Thanksgiving weekend in Minneapolis. We took a taxi cab to the concert hall because it was blizzard conditions. The concert was over at 4 p.m., and on this particular day, 4 p.m. was absolutely magical. Colored Christmas lights were glistening on the new-fallen snow and we had just heard a most fabulous group.

Camping or a hotel?

Definitely a hotel! I need hot water, a shower and a flush toilet.
Do you have a nickname?

For years, Mark and some other family/friends called me Pooh, as in Winnie the Pooh. In the last couple of years, that has kind of died down, and now Mark, and his best friend, George, for some reason insist on calling me Cynthia rather than Cindy.

Can you play any instruments?

I can play the piano, and started college as a music major. Now I'm quite out of practice as we gave our piano (the first thing we ever purchased when newly married, and Mark spent an entire summer hauling and stacking hay for a farmer to pay for it) to our son and daughter-in-law over ten years ago. What I always wanted to play was the violin. I wanted to be in an orchestra. My advice to parents--when your children want to try different instruments, if at all possible, let them try.

Would you rather call/text/email or write a letter?

If any of you have mentioned "hey, we should talk on the phone" and wondered why your phone hasn't's because I'm normally not a "phone person." It is probably the thought of possible awkward silences that makes me nervous. I find texting to be efficient. But to actually get a handwritten note in the mail is wonderful. I'm trying to send more notes this year, as I enjoy receiving them so very much.

Morning person or night person?

Hmmm. My ideal times are waking up at 6:38 a.m. and turning off the light at 11:17 p.m. Seriously.

Do you save the selvages on fabric? If so, have you ever made anything with them?

Funny you should ask. I save them, and have made lots of pincushions with them. I have bags of selvages, carefully sorted by "themes"--(OCD?) with plans to add new items to my etsy shop, "Sewing on the Edge," especially now that I've been mentioned in Amanda Jean's and Cheryl's fabulous new book.

Which color of fabric is most prominent in your stash?

While I'm totally into working with orange right now, when I look at my stash, the most prominent color is pink. Lots of pink! But I've never made a pink quilt...

What is the smallest scrap that you save?

I'm saving smaller and smaller scraps now that I have read Sunday Morning Quilts. 

There is still time to enter the scrap giveaway here.
What food do you crave?

Chips and salsa.

How often do you change your sewing machine needle?

Usually after completion of each large project.

Pre-wash or right off the bolt?

Formerly a pre-washer. Now it comes right off the bolt and into the quilt.

What quilting project are you most proud of?

The donation quilts I have done for the MCC auction (the latest one is coming up in just a couple of weeks).

How many hours a day do you spend reading blogs? 

Too many. We'll just leave it at that...

What's your favorite music to sew by?

Coldplay. I listen to a lot of satellite radio (Sirius/XM) and my current most-listened-to station has a really eclectic mix, everything from Bonnie Raitt and Paul Simon to Gotye, The Decemberists, the Civil Wars, etc.

I'm thinking up some questions of my own, so don't be surprised if you get a notice saying, "Tag. You're it!"

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Sunday Morning Quilts and Playing with Solids

Today is kind of a rarity in Fresno--it's raining. Perfect coffee and quilting weather.

I have been playing with solids this weekend. Cutting fabric for several different projects.
Working on my granny squares, 20 blocks total, 10 completed. I even came up with a catchy name for this quilt: Granny was Amish.

In the process, there is an ever-growing pile of scraps.

When my friend, Amanda Jean, told me she was co-authoring a book with Cheryl, it instantly became my most-anticipated book release. If you follow these fabulous blogging quilters, you know what I'm talking about.

When my book arrived, it did not disappoint. The tag line of Sunday Morning Quilts is "sort, store and use every last bit of your treasured fabrics." Amen!

First of all, you should know this about me. I'm a bit of a quilt bookaholic. After quilting for nearly twenty years, I have quite an extensive library. As my style has changed, I have donated many of those books to either our church quilting group or second-hand stores. This book represents something new for the quilting community, something that isn't already out there.

If you have been quilting for any length of time, you probably have precious scraps--you don't know what to do with them, but definitely don't want to get rid of them, especially if they are little pieces from a much-treasured fabric line that you simply had to have.

Amanda Jean and Cheryl walk you through the step-by-step process of organizing, storing, and finally using up these precious bits of fabric.
What I appreciate the most about this book is not just the quilts, which are spectacular by the way, but the amazing wealth of information and the process to get things under control. It is very well written. I like to consider myself an organized person. However, if you take a peek in my office and sewing room on any given day, it would hard to claim that I actually LIVE as an organized person. My stash seems to impinge on at least three rooms. I have donated more fabric to our church quilting group than I would ever want to calculate. I have started giving away scraps to newbies online who don't have a stash, let alone scraps, which of course seems like a foreign concept to me, except that I clearly remember my first quilt, a double four-patch, and how I spent literally weeks finding just the perfect four fabrics!

By writing this book, Amanda Jean and Cheryl will enrich the lives of many quilters, not only from their encouragement and excellent easy-to-understand writing, but from the very do-able projects.  With the price of high-quality quilting cottons creeping up on a regular basis, who wouldn't want to get the most mileage from each and every yard!

These quilted storage boxes are awesome.
When I was at the quilting retreat in February, someone gave me a huge bag of selvages, some really skinny ones, that will be perfect. Because even my selvage stash is VERY out of control. There are instructions in the book on how to knit a fabric mat using skinny strips and/or selvages.

Amanda Jean also added some instructions on her blog:
Learn how to knit the mat here

The day the book arrived was a busy one, so I didn't get a chance to start reading through it until bedtime. When I got to page 23, I nearly had to chomp down on my pillow to keep from waking Mark, because check this out!

There is my blog address. In this book! Yikes. My etsy shop, which I started in order to sell things crafted from selvages, has pretty much been dormant for a while now. Being listed in this book definitely has me thinking of new and creative items to fill up my shop.

Are your scraps out of control? My advice to you: buy this book! Do you need some scraps of your very own? My advice to you: don't be shy. Just answer this question: What is the smallest size of fabric you are willing to save for a future project? I'll fill up a bag of my own scraps and send them to someone after the RNG does its work on Thursday, March 29, at 6 p.m. PDT.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Farmer's Wife Friday: The Heart of a Farmer:

This week's letter is from a wife in Ransom County, North Dakota. To answer the question of whether she would want her daughter to marry a farmer, she first begins by asking her daughter the following questions:
1. Is he fit to be the father to your children?
2. Will they be proud to call him Father?
3. Is he kind and considerate?
4. Has he strength, courage and ambition enough to make a home, in every sense of the word?
5. Is he willing to sacrifice some of his boyhood pleasure for her sake?

She feels that not only do boys on the farm not have "the temptations of the city boy and have a cleaner, more wholesome environment," but "the heart of the farmer is in his home."

As a wife to a farmer, she wants to help her husband by not only doing household chores but also studying up on the problems farmers face and helping her husband to solve them. She also makes a point of using the community center to guard against the monotony of farm life.

I have a feeling that her husband meets all the criteria to make a good father and husband, and that they work together as a team.

The first block this week (and I'm thankful that there were only two this week, as the last two weeks have each had four blocks!) was really easy.

#4 Basket Weave.

The next one took a little more time. Mostly because I tried a shortcut (which didn't work) and I had to start over and make it with templates.

#44 Gentleman's Fancy.

I'm always interested to see what Carla has to say about the letters--always fascinating as she actually lives on a farm and I'm a city girl. Her blocks are always bright and cheerful, so make sure to see what fabrics she has chosen this week.

The winner of the Modern Madness giveaway is #3 Mama Pea! Congratulations! Ever since I lost my comment numbering gadget, it's nice when I don't have to go too far to find the winner. Yeah, I'm lazy like that...

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Really Random, 3/22/12

Last week, my advice was this:

I didn't follow it myself. Didn't make a list. I'm probably forgetting something.

Last year, Mark was a judge for the Shafter (California) Distinguished Young Women scholarship program. He did a good job, and as you are allowed to be a judge for two years in a row, and then have to take a break, he was invited back. Last Friday we went to Shafter (about two hours south). He had interviews with the contestants all afternoon. So I turned on the GPS, went to Bakersfield, about half an hour away, and met one of my blogging buddies in person, Terri (Sew-Fantastic).

Added bonus: Her daughter, Sophie..

We had about an hour to chat and get to know each other a little better. It was great. In fact, it was "sew-fantastic." We're not that far from each other. I think a sewing day is in the near future.

I couldn't get a picture of "da judge," but here are the contestants, along with the winner from last year.

On Sunday afternoon, Mark had to go measure something in a kitchen he is helping to remodel. The couple lives up in the foothills. It rained on the way there and the snow level was down to about 1,600 feet.
The view from their future kitchen (I'm planning on becoming really chummy--isn't this beautiful?)
And the drive down. We have flat-topped "table" mountains in our area which are quite interesting.

Did a little sewing. More details on these blocks coming:
And while we're on the topic of blocks, here are my four granny square blocks. I inadvertently used the wrong orange in the center of one of them, Kona papaya rather than Kona school bus. At first I thought it looked different just because of the color surrounding it, but then decided it really was the wrong fabric. Does it jump out? Would you change it?

One of these ended up in my hands last week, due to someone in the family mistakenly winning two eBay bids. Oops. And then texting me about a GREAT opportunity, to own an iPad, wonderful learning tool for grandchildren, or something like that. And of course he knew I would be a pushover with the word "grandchildren." So now I own an iPad.
There are lots of private swaps that are always going on in the quilting/blogging world. Terri and I did a little swap of our own. When our friend, Amanda Jean, along with Cheryl, co-authored a book, which is fabulous by the way, we decided to do a little trade. I would order the book for her and in exchange she would make me a couple of stuff sacks using her new pattern. Her book arrived last week, which was great since she was on spring break and the weather was nice in Wisconsin, so she could sit outside and read it, and my stuff sacks arrived yesterday. I thought I was only getting one, but I really got two of them. Awesome fabric, awesome exchange, awesome friend. Thanks, Terri!
 (Pattern to make your own stuff sacks here)
"Yes, actually it does take hours to get a 'do like this."
"Yes, my older brother is so silly, I can't even look at him!"
"Well...he is a pretty cool big brother. But look how straight his hair is. I'll probably have to give him some tips...."
A couple of weeks ago, Riel made a replica of her sewing machine with Legos. I became instantly obsessed. I raved about it. I might have sounded slightly crazed obsessed when I commented on it. I contemplated purchasing a bunch of Lego sets, especially Star Wars sets, hoping to make a replica of my machine. Then I saw this picture.
Then I read the post.
Eeek. Look what will be living at my house, as soon as her kids get tired of it. But really, they made it for me!!!! Isn't it amazing?? It is the identical Lego version of my Elna Quilter's Dream Pro. I can't believe she took the time to find a picture of my machine. Thanks, Riel. I'm SO excited.

Um...Riel, are your kids tired of it yet??
It's not too late to enter the Modern Madness giveaway. Go head. Fill out your brackets and make a prediction, and find out what your predictions say about you! Winner chosen at 6 p.m. tonight PDT.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Modern Madness: What your bracket reveals about you

This giveaway is now closed. Thanks for everyone who played along!
For more years than I can even remember, March has always been associated with college basketball. March Madness. Mark has followed it for years, and then our son, Aaron. I remember when he was a senior in college and lived in an apartment with two other guys, they put up a bracket that covered that whole living room wall. Aaron followed the teams, knew the stats, and made an informed decision on who would possibly advance from one level to the next, until we finally watched the championship game.

So one year he was running a basketball pool and thought I should play along. Who, me? I don't watch college basketball for more than a passing glance on TV. I don't know any of the teams, the strength of their schedule, the strengths and weaknesses of their players. So that year I made all my picks based on the team mascot, and then deciding which mascot sounded more likely to come out victorious. I did hours of research on team mascots. I knew what a Saluki was (Southern Illinois)--an Egyptian hunting dog. I knew about the Syracuse Orangemen (Scottish warriors). I knew that the Stanford Cardinal was the color, not the bird. And even that didn't matter because their mascot is a tree. Pffft. I think I would choose any mascot over a tree.

I systematically went through the entire bracket deciding which mascot was tougher: Wildcats? Wolverines? Sometimes it got really tricky. Who would you pick between these two: A Demon Deacon or a Blue Devil? Tough choice.That year I ended up predicting the Auburn Tigers would win the whole tournament. Which made Aaron kinda nuts. He told me that really the Tigers shouldn't even be in the tournament. I don't remember why. But that year, as in every single year, there were upsets, and one week my Auburn Tigers were ruling. Don't think I didn't rub that in! 

Which brings me to my point. Are you playing along with Fat Quarterly's Modern Madness, the March Madness of fabric lines? 64 fabric lines, divided into four regions. Just like basketball.
Having trouble filling out your bracket?  There was an article in our local newspaper last week on "What your bracket reveals about you," how your bracket picks  "can reveal more about a person's character than handwriting analysis." I'm not so sure about that, but let's adapt their analogy to fabric, shall we?

The favorites bracket: You select favorites to win every game, er, bolt. Maybe a certain line was not your favorite, but you have seen it everywhere so you consider it a possible first seed and choose it anyway.

Available from Marmalade Fabrics

What it says about you: You feel that societal order must be preserved at all costs. Maybe you don't want to make a quilt out of that line,  but in nearly every blog you read, someone has chosen that fabric, so it is obviously a favorite with a lot of quilters.

The underdogs bracket: Maybe one of the "teams" hasn't gotten much press. But you love a good upset and maybe there will be enough other people feeling the same way.

What it says about you: You truly believe that one person can change the world. You make a beautiful quilt or tote out of some fabric in this line, people will see it, and the next thing you know, everyone wants some of that same fabric!

The expert bracket: You combine favorites with underdogs which you have carefully chosen  because ultimately the fabrics can form a different "team" in a quilt and play together beautifully.
Available from Marmalade Fabrics
What it says about you: You understand that the purpose of the tournament pool is to add zest to your sewing experience.

The nickname bracket: You don't even refresh your memory on what a particular fabric line looks like. You choose one over the other based strictly on its name appeal. (Hmmmm....this approach is sounding a little familiar to me...)
Available from Marmalade Fabrics
What it says about you: You are someone who does not fill out a bracket so much as "fill out a bracket." You make a choice and just go with the flow. When you inevitably win the pool, you announce that you cannot imagine what everyone got so worked up about in the first place, because all sixty-four "teams" , er, fabrics, are winners.

What is the ultimate outcome of this anyway? Well, finally a specific line will be chosen the winner. In the meantime, fill out your bracket, and if you aren't familiar with a certain fabric line, use the link and learn a little more about it. You might discover some beautiful fabric that will be a winner in your next project.

I went to the Fat Quarterly Modern Madness archives and found out that just like in college hoops, there were upsets as it got closer to the championship game. Who was last year's winner? It was Jay McCarroll's Habitat by Free Spirit.

And guess what? I have some to give away! The winner will receive a fat quarter of each of these three from the winning line of 2011.
 Just answer one (or more) of these: Are you playing along with Fat Quarterly? Have you projected a winner? What is your current favorite fabric line?

Or even better: which category fits you the best--favorites, underdog, expert or nickname? Now we're talkin'!

The RNG will choose a winner Thursday, March 22, at 6 p.m. PDT. And I'll also let you know which fabric line I predict to win the championship.

Hmmmm. I wonder if I could have used the RNG to fill out my whole bracket.

What would that say about me??