Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Howl O'Ween!

Elvis, Larry and Romeo
The Pugs wanted to wish everyone a Happy Howl O'Ween. It's become a neighborhood tradition that every year I dress them up in costume and take them for a walk. A couple of the neighbors have dog bones or a piece of cheese ready and waiting. The neighborhood kids get a big kick out of it. Our neighbor George also dresses up his golden retriever, Toby. Contrary to popular belief, I am not collecting candy.

This will be Larry's first Halloween with us. Hopefully it won't rain tonight. Not sure what they're going to wear, we have lots of costumes to choose from.

Here are some costumes from previous Halloweens.
This is the first year we went Trick or Treating.

Romeo's friend Roscoe, a big yellow lab, ate Romeo's angel halo at our first stop.

Mustard or ketchup with your hot dog?
New and improved "pugkin" costumes
One of my favorite photos of all time! Love the looks on their faces.

Pugs and kisses,


Monday, October 29, 2012

Riding out Hurricane Sandy

It's 8:08 pm, here in Boston and the five of us have spent the day hunkered down indoors listening to the storm rage outside. I had to shut the blinds because the view was so depressing. The storm is getting progressively worse and I've been told to work from home again tomorrow. Mike got the day off and his cooking class was cancelled. Truth be told, I think everything in Massachusetts was probably cancelled today. We did manage to take the dogs outside this morning for a quick walk. The three of them did their business in record time and we all headed back home. I also managed to do a quick turn in the yard with them around 5pm, when it wasn't raining and the wind wasn't too bad. Must have been a lull in the storm.

I put in a full day of work and Mike was busy in his home office shredding documents, then he practiced his guitar for a while. When I finished my virtual work day, I ran a load of laundry, baked some brownies and embroidered some dog bandannas. Here is Larry in his new finery. Please note that Larry does not have blue eyes, it's the camera flash, apparently the equivalent of human red-eye.
I also made a pair of bandannas for our cocker spaniel friends in New Jersey and still need to make one more for Joannie's Boston Terrier, Alli.

Now we have clean underwear, batteries, and brownies, so we are prepared to ride out the storm!

While Mike cooked dinner, I hung up some of the fall quilts and put out some of the fall decorations. I'm a little late.

Ever wonder who buys that stuff from the Danbury Mint?
Yes, that would be me...but only if it has a pug on it.
I love the black pug on the bottom left, he looks just like Elvis!

I don't go too overboard, just a couple of glass pumpkins, a pair of turkey candlesticks, bought inexpensively at Joann Fabrics and The Christmas Tree Shop, respectively, and some seasonal placemats and quilts.
I made this table runner/wall hanging in a class with Deb Tucker a couple of years ago.

This is a very old Debbie Mumm pattern. I made it at least 14 years ago, because it used to hang in my Newton apartment before I bought my house.
I forgot about this Leaf quilt until I went to look for my Halloween quilt. This was a kit that I purchased on a trip to Minneapolis back in 1999, but I only finished it a few years ago. I think I  bought a pumpkin quilt kit too. I'll have to search the UFO closet and make it for next year. There is also a Turkey quilt, but I will hang that (and post a photo) closer to Thanksgiving.

Elvis would like you to know that he already HAD a bandanna. Doesn't he look handsome? Romeo also has a bandanna, but he was camera shy today.

The storm has claimed the top of our Pug weathervane... let's hope that's the sum of our storm damage. Hopefully one of our neighbors will find it and bring it back.

Come back on Wednesday for a special Howl-o-ween photo (that's a clue)!

Pugs and kisses,

Friday, October 26, 2012

October 2012 Quilt Weekend

Sorry it's taken me so long to get this post written. I think I was worn out from my big weekend of sewing bindings onto quilts Seven old UFOs finished, plus two fleece blankets. I already gave the dog blanket to my friend Cindy who was quite thrilled to get an early birthday gift. I gave one of the Asian wall quilts to my friend Susie at work who has spent the past week auditioning it in every room of her house.

Anyways, I digress. We had 14 people at our quilt weekend. It is always a lot of fun to see what everyone is working on. Karen E., who was part of our defunct Natick quilt group, joined us. It was fun to catch up. She was pregnant the last time I saw her, and now her little boy is 2! He is just adorable and came to visit us on Saturday with her husband. Jennifer and the Divine Miss J also came to visit us.

Kim P. clocked in with the first finished project of the weekend on Friday morning. She made this beautiful black and white Schlep Bag as a birthday gift for her friend Carol. If you look closely you can see the cute daisy print she used for the lining.

Kim spent the rest of the weekend working on her Orca Bay Mystery. Isn't it stunning? It has a zillion pieces! This pattern is in Bonnie Hunter's newest book, String Fling

Here is a close-up. The quilt is just chained together vertically right now. The next step is for Kim to sew the rows together horizontally. Next weekend, we are going to the Cape for our annual November quilt weekend, and perhaps Kim will have it all put together.

Kim G., below, clocked in with the second finished project of the weekend -- a cute little Dr. Seuss print zipper bag. When not sewing with us last weekend, Kim kept busy by taking conference calls (she runs her own business); hosting a dinner party (boo hoo, she didn't bring us any left overs) and ferrying her high school age daughter back and forth from various social events. When I first met Kim, Clio was an infant, today she is in high school. My how time flies!

As usual, a couple of the girls were working on the same project. Great minds think alike! Or is it imitation is the most sincere form of flattery...
Here is Valerie working on her Monteray Medallion.

She got her top finished by the end of the weekend. FABULOUS!

This is Debbie's finished Monteray Medallion. Also FABULOUS!
I think that it is so much fun to see the same quilt made up in different color ways. Often times they look completely different. Marion is also making this quilt. She just finished making 40 star blocks and is now ready for the last step. This quilt is from Terry Atkinson Please note that I couldn't find the book on her website. Perhaps it is out of print, but you could contact Terry or try your local quilt store.

The next pattern to sweep the room was the Tankini table runner, also by Terry Atkinson of Atkinson Designs. If you've never tried a Terry Atkinson pattern, you should! Her patterns are fast and easy! And very well-written!
Joann E., Debbie, Lexine and Nancy D. were all making Tankinis. Marion liked it so much that she bought the pattern on Saturday when we took a field trip to the Quilters Stash
Our field trip to Quilter's Stash. From left to right: Kim, Joannie, Pat and Marion.
Smiling faces anticipate lots of goodies waiting for us inside the store!

Lexine and Debbie with Tankini in progress.

Here are some Tankini table runners in two different sizes. The mini, shown at top left, will fit on top of your toilet tank, hence the pattern name.

Debbie was also working on this cute little witch quilt. The witches have dimensional legs. Valerie and Lexine are making it too, but they didn't bring it to the weekend. I think that Lexine's may be finished already.

Pat could only join us on Saturday, but she made these two cute pillowcases for her yoga instructor.

Marion finished two quilt tops. The first one is called, Nest. We started this in a class at the Button Box a couple of years ago. Mine is in a box somewhere. As usual, I like Marion's better. Maybe I should just have her pick out my fabric too. I think the second quilt is called Asian Magic. Marion bought the pattern years ago when we were at a quilt show in Connecticut. Yep, I've got this one in a box too. What was that I was saying about imitation...

I love BOTH of these tops. They are so lovely and so different from each other. Great job Marion!

Does this next quilt look familiar? JoAnn S. took the Kaffe workshop the day after Marion and I did Here is her beautiful quilt top in progress. I bet Kaffe liked HER quilt.
JoAnn finished her quilt top by the end of the weekend, but I didn't get a photo! I am quite annoyed with myself--it was divine. Maybe she will bring it to the Cape...

Here is one of Karen E's projects. She bought this as a kit a couple of years ago.

Sally spent the entire weekend working on cafe curtains for her sun room. She was making them out of painter's drop cloths that she bought at Lowes. I think this is a cool idea. I had seen this idea on a quilt blog somewhere where the author slipcovered a bench. It is an inexpensive way to buy fabric! And you could probably paint them or dye them since they are 100% cotton.

Sorry! No finished curtains to show you yet! There is a lot of cutting and measuring involved!

Joannie must be planning to host a Halloween Banquet--she made 24 Halloween placemats! She still has to sew binding on them. Keep sewing Joannie--Halloween is next week!
Joannie is making this Yellow Brick Road quilt
(again a Terry Atkinson design) as a
Christmas gift for her Mom, Pauline.

Joann E. kept changing the projects on her design wall faster than I could photograph them. Here she is working on a photo memory quilt for one of her husband's army friends featuring photos from when they served in Vietnam.

This lovely quilt top belongs to Debbie.

Here is Joan S. working on a flannel quilt.
This will be nice and toasty when it is finished.

Here is Lexine with her diamond quilt in progress.

I love quilt weekends! I am so fortunate to have found a group of people who enjoy making quilts and shopping for fabric as much as I do!

Pugs and kisses,

Monday, October 22, 2012

To the finish line!

I went to my quilt weekend last Friday and sewed bindings to quilts. And then sewed more bindings to quilts. And finally, sewed more bindings to yet more quilts. As my friend Valerie said, "I was bound and determined to finish (yes, the pun was intended) my projects." Some of them had been sitting around for quite a long time. Here are their photos and their stories...

Here is my first finish of the weekend:
This pattern is called Faceted Jewels and it is by Glad Creations.
I started this quilt at the Houston Quilt Festival in a mystery class with Charlotte Angotti in 2001. Let me tell you that this baby has A LOT of pieces in it. It wasn't difficult, but it was extremely time consuming. I put it away for a while, then pulled it out a couple of years ago and carted it around on various quilt weekends. I finished the last border last November. It came back from the machine quilter in January, just waiting to be bound and finished! Not a UFO anymore! And look how nicely my sweatshirt matches the quilt! Mike and I are keeping this one.

Here is a link if you are interested in purchasing the quilt pattern:

Here is my second finish of the weekend:
This is a t-shirt quilt that Marion and I made as a commission through our Etsy shop It is for a sweet young woman who saved all her t-shirts from camp. It came out very cute!

Next to be finished was a series of two matching Asian Sampler quilts. I purchased this quilt as a kit from the Cambridge Quilt Shop at a Shop Hop back in 2006. Marion was home sick with the stomach flu, so I bought her one too. I broke the kit down into two wall-hangings. Originally, I had intended to hang them in my stairwell, but I think I may give them as gifts. I love Asian fabric but it really doesn't go with my decorating style, which is kind of "beach-themed". These quilts are special because my then 9-year old nephew Josh spent the whole day with me and helped me select where each of the squares would go in the quilts. I finished both of these tops in 2008, and they've been waiting for binding since December of 2011. They'll be happy to go to a good home! Marion is helping me hold up the pair. Her quilt was done a long time ago and now lives with her son Michael and his wife Julie. Are you counting with me? That's 4 done so far!
Here is my Bargello quilt formerly known as UFO #5. The fabric for this quilt was purchased WAY back in 1995 at Red Barn Sewing and Yarn Center in Merrimac, MA. This fabric sat around for a long time before I even took it out of the bag. Luckily I had written some notes and left them in the bag with the pattern and the fabric. I finished this top in March of 2010. It too has been sitting around waiting for a binding since December of last year. Red Barn holds a special place in my heart because it is the shop where I took my first quilting lessons!
The last quilt that I bound over the quilt weekend was made out of Brown Bagger birthday blocks from 2007, called Oriental Lanterns. Everyone in the group ended up HATING these blocks. They required a lot of precision to make them accurately and it wasn't the best choice for a group project. I used all the blocks that I received in the swap and didn't bother to make any more. I finished this top in May of 2010 and it also came back in the big bunch from the machine quilter in December of 2011.

Here is quilt #7 that I actually finished on Wednesday night BEFORE the quilt weekend. It only needed one strip of binding, but I had misplaced the binding fabric! This was made out of our 2003 Brown Bagger Birthday Blocks. This quilt even sat on my couch for a while before I remembered that it was still missing a small piece of binding!
I also made two fleece blankets on Sunday. They were quick and easy and didn't need any binding! The Princess blanket is a gift for Michael's little cousin. The dog blanket is an early birthday gift for my friend Cindy who is our beloved dog-walker and dog-babysitter.
I finished the dog blanket around 6pm on Sunday night right before Joannie and I shut the quilt weekend down (in other words, we were the last ones out of the room). A special Thank You to Joannie for taking all of these pictures of my finished projects!

Regretfully, I still have four more quilts and two quilted jackets that still need binding! But, wait, there is another quilt weekend in just two weeks! Thanks goodness for poor scheduling!

Don't worry, there will be a separate blog post showing off all the Brown Baggers and their projects from the quilt weekend! Hope you enjoyed the show!

Pugs and kisses,

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Countdown to the quilt weekend!

Chances are by the time you read this, I'll be unpacking at my quilt weekend. Or perhaps everything will be set up and I'll be sewing. Or else it will be lunch time and Marion, Joannie, and I will be heading out for some Chinese food and a trip to the fabric store!

In preparation for three days of sewing, I made bindings on Monday night.
I have a dozen quilts that came back from the machine quilter quite a while ago that need to be bound. Why aren't they finished? Probably because they weren't intended as gifts, therefore no deadlines are attached to them, so they keep going to the bottom of my "to do" list.

My pile of quilts to that need binding!
On Wednesday night I did finish one of the twelve, but it only needed one strip of binding. I had gotten it almost finished several months ago, but I hadn't cut enough binding strips and I misplaced the fabric. I literally needed about eight inches. On Tuesday night, Larry Pug and I were hanging out upstairs while Mike watched the Presidential debates with Romeo and Elvis and I found the missing fabric right under my nose. One down!

Tonight I went to my regular Thursday night quilt group, which I jokingly refer to as "Stitch and Bitch". Only four of us showed up, so there was plenty of room to spread out and get a lot of work done. I put one more binding together and then I sewed binding to the back of two more of the quilts. I bind my quilts completely by machine. I still need to sew it to the front, but now two more are half-done! Several of the quilts are small so I anticipate getting a lot done.

Looking forward to reporting on my progress!

Pugs and kisses,

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The Quiltmaker's Gift

Mike and I got married this past February in Florida over President's Day Weekend, which made it a destination wedding for just about everyone except my parents, my Aunt Eleanor and Uncle Jacques, and our life-long family friends, the Baileys. We were thrilled that so many of our friends and families made the trip to Florida to celebrate with us. While we told them that we didn't need any gifts (we had just combined two households worth of stuff), they ignored us and showered us with presents anyways. Thanks everyone, you were all very generous!

I couldn't find a wedding photo, but here is a photo of our wedding cake topper. Looks just like us!

Here we are in Hawaii on our honeymoon!
 Of course, being a quiltmaker, some my favorite gifts were the hand-made gifts. It's rare that people make me something, they assume that I can make it myself, so why bother? My girlfriend Eleanor made us a lovely wedding album and one of Mike's parents' friends made us a wooden salad bowl.

We were also fortunate enough to receive three quilts!

I received our first quilt in February at our annual Cape retreat a few weeks before our wedding. This was a group quilt made by friends in my Sunday quilting group, aka the Brown Baggers, which was organized by my friend Marion. Marion chose the pattern (a half log cabin variation), rounded up the participants, and once all the blocks were collected, she and Joannie put the quilt together (and probably made some extra blocks as well). Kim P. quilted it. All the girls contributed blocks in my favorite colors, made out of lovely Kaffe Fassett fabrics. I LOVE this quilt. It is on our bed and we sleep under it every night.

Later this summer, Mike and I came home and found this GORGEOUS  Double Wedding Ring quilt in our back yard, artfully draped over a bench (also a wedding gift). This quilt was made by my friend Joannie, pictured on the right. (Joannie also made me a beautiful tote bag out of wedding print fabrics.) I have always wanted a Double Wedding Ring quilt but had never made one, even though I've been quilting for almost 20 years, because they are extremely difficult! Joannie, who is undaunted by anything, taught herself how to make one with a pattern and a YouTube video. Did I mention that Joannie just started quilting about a year or two ago? The quilt is made out of animal prints (another of my favorites!) and it is quilted with musical notes in honor of Mike. Joannie and her husband Dan also gave us the aforementioned bench, not pictured, to take to outdoor concerts. I haven't found a special place for this yet, because I'm afraid that if I use it on the couch, the pugs will get it dirty, so I think that I am going to hang it in our hallway or bedroom. Still deciding...
And we were surprised again when we got another squishy package in the mail a few weeks ago! My cousin Liz and her boyfriend Sam, had commissioned this wall-hanging for us. Interestingly enough, Sam is the one who is fascinated by quilts. He collects vintage shirts and has them made into Crazy Quilts. Our quilt has various fabrics that represent our different hobbies and passions. The left side of the quilt is "Mike" fabrics, such as cameras, guitars and cooking, the right side of the quilt is "Nancy" fabrics, such as chocolate, sewing and reading, and the middle of the quilt is "us" fabrics with pugs and wedding imagery. It is adorable. I plan to sew some hooks to the back and hang it downstairs in our kitchen so we can see it every day.

Hope that you enjoyed seeing our wonderful wedding quilts!

Pugs and kisses,