Quiltmaker 100 Blocks

Quiltmaker 100 Blocks
My block is in the November 2015 issue!

Monday, February 23, 2015

Civic Duty and EPP

A few weeks back, I received a summons in the mail that told me that I could be picked as a juror in criminal court of Allegheny County.  My first thought was ‘oh, crap’.  Not a very civic minded response, but I was once a juror in a civil case, and it was not a pleasant experience.  The note on the summons that said that I had to call after 5 p.m. this past Friday night to see if my number was in the pool of people who had to report.  So I tried to forget about it, at least until I had to make the call.  If I don’t think about it maybe it won’t happen?   Saturday, I remembered that I had to call.  Hold breath, dial number…. 
DARN, I was on the list. I immediately got grouchy and had myself a grand old pity party.  I checked the current parking situation in Pittsburgh.  The cheapest that I was going to be able to find a parking space reasonably close was going to cost me $16.  GRUMBLE. And that was if I walked 6 blocks (about 1/2 mile)  to the courthouse.  Anything closer was going to be at least $24. GRUMBLE, GRUMBLE.  Parking in Pittsburgh is downright expensive.  I think I remember seeing that it was the most expensive city for parking (or somewhere close to the top anyway).   Then I checked the bus schedule.  OK, I could catch a bus. 

But then I looked at the weather.  The forecast was for -2 0F overnight.  SERIOUSLY?  There was no way I was going to slip and slide down to the bus stop and stand there hoping that the bus showed up on time while trying to keep from freezing. GRUMBLE, GRUMBLE, GRUMBLE!  Why the heck did they have to pick me in the dead of winter?  Don’t they know that it was going to be freaking COLD out there?

After listening to my dilemma, my sweet hubby volunteered to drive me there!  I know what a sacrifice that is because he absolutely hates driving in the winter.  Driving in the winter during rush hour doesn’t just double the hate, it quadruples it!  I really didn’t want to put him through that, so I came up with a compromise.  He drove me to the bus stop and I got to wait in the warm car until the bus came.  Win, win!

I packed a small tote bag with essentials for the day – wallet, money for the bus, a comb, a pen, and of course – something to work on!  I have a souvenir popcorn tub from Epcot that is the perfect size for toting my EPP hexagon project.  It holds a small container of hexie papers, a spool of thread, my needle/pin minder, finger thimbles and a small pair of scissors, plus enough 2 inch squares to make about 10 hexagon flowers. 

Did you know that you have to go through security to get into a court building?  I didn’t, but it really didn’t surprise me.  What did surprise me is that they made me hand over my scissors!  See those cute little scissors on the pink ribbon in the picture?  Can you tell that they are a dangerous weapon?  Really, they are! At least, that's what the security guard told me. Do you see the size of them?  The blade is only about an inch long! I protested that I have taken them on airplanes many times and it has never been an issue, but the guard informed me that ‘this is not an airplane; it is CRIMINAL court’.  I considered telling him that I was not a criminal and that I was only here to do my civic duty, but I thought the better of it.  Anyway, he gave me a receipt for the scissors so I could pick them up when I left.  I was very amused by the fact that the receipt was called a ‘WEAPONS’ receipt and it was numbered 6307.  I guess that they get a lot of ‘weapons’, LOL!  But I should be glad that they only took my scissors – one other juror packed a salad for lunch, and they made her hand over her fork! 

Despite my lack of scissors, I did manage to get the four flowers in the picture done today.  And I wasn’t selected for a jury, so I don’t have to brave the elements tomorrow, when it is supposed to be -5 0F!  Win, win!

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Organizing Fabric Scraps

I've started working on my first Scrap Addicts project.  I can’t tell you what it is, but I can say that it uses 1 ½ inch strips.  I don’t have a lot of 1½ inch strips, for a number of reasons.  One is because I always considered that a 1 inch finished width was too small for me.  I guess the joke's on me, because this project uses lots and lots of  strips.  Each block has 14 pieces and finishes at 7½ square. Yikes!   So I guess that I need to modify my scrap organization system to include more  inch strips.  ‘System’ – ha!  That’s a laugh!  Well, let’s just say that I do organize my scraps, but ‘system’ is too grand of a word for what I do. 

When I cut up the leftover fabric from a project, I usually try to cut 2 ½ inch strips if the leftover piece is long enough, and 5 inch ‘nickels’ if it isn't.  If neither of those cuts is feasible, I cut the largest square or widest strips that I can without wasting fabric.  So if I have a leftover piece that is about 3 1/8 inches wide, I’m not going to cut that down to 2 ½; I’ll cut it to 3 inches.  Likewise for fabric chunks - I’ll cut the largest square I can from it, up to 5 inches. There really isn't any reason to stop at 5 inches; it's just a habit I got into when I first started trying to organize the chaos.

I started saving my scraps when the first Nickel Quilts books came out, so my method is heavily influenced by that concept.  I was also in an online swap for 'nickels' for a couple of years, so I have a TON of 5 inch squares.  I also have a bunch of the leftover cuts from swapping nickels. Since fabric widths vary, when I cut the nickels for swapping, I'd end up with anywhere from 1 1/2 to about 3 inch ends, so I saved them.  I have three bins that are about 6 x 8 and around 5 inches deep. 

My bins of 5 inch cuts.

Then I found Bonnie Hunter’s Quiltville site and started cutting my leftover pieces into strips.  So I have a couple  of drawers full of strips, too.  And then there is the bin of scraps from the local quilt store, which I haven’t cut into anything yet.  I haven’t touched that bin because I think it’s a good idea to have some chunks of fabric so I can cut them into whatever I need when I start a new project.  That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Scrap Addicts!

My favorite quilting magazine is Quiltmaker.  I started subscribing several years ago because I saw that one of my favorite quilt designers, Bonnie Hunter, was going to have a column every month.  Bonnie is a prolific designer, teacher and author, and is well known for her scrap quilt patterns and her website "Quiltville".  Her most famous saying about fabric is "If it's still ugly, you haven't cut it small enough"!

Anyway, Every year, the Quiltmaker editors recruit 6 – 8 people to take one of the patterns in each issue and remake it in a scrappy version.  They call them the Scrap Squad.  Each Scrap Squad member then writes a post about their version of the quilt.  I thought that it sounded like a lot of fun, so when I saw the post on Facebook soliciting applications for the 2015 Scrap Squad, I applied.  I had applied once before, a couple of years ago, and was turned down, so told myself that I would not be upset if I wasn't chosen.  But I still checked my email every day and when I saw an email from the editor, I tried not to hyperventilate. 

I started reading.  Darn, I wasn't chosen to be in the Scrap Squad.  OK, I could handle that.  I was disappointed, but I really never expected to be chosen anyway.   But then, as I kept reading, I saw something terrific!  The editor was asking me if I would consider being part of a NEW group!  Would I?  OF COURSE I WOULD!!! <<Jumping up and down and squealing!!!>>

This new group will take the blocks in Bonnie's column and turn them into scrappy quilts. That's right up my alley!

Check out the Quilty Pleasure announcement:
Make sure you enter the giveaway! They are giving away a nice assortment of useable scrap fabrics and a copy of the book Devoted to Scraps!
LA6046 Introducing QM Scrap Addicts; Giveaway!

The giveaway is open until February 8th!  You can head over there now, I’ll wait…..

Ok, now go and see the announcement on Bonnie’s Quiltville blog!

How cool is that!  I already have my assignments, and have delved into my scraps bins and started planning what I’m going to do!  I can’t wait to get started!

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Yep, It's Wonderful!

I didn't have to get up for work yesterday.  That's because I retired on Friday!  I've known for about a year that I was going to retire early this year, but it still seems unreal that I actually did it.  Over the weekend, people kept asking me how it felt to be retired.  I told them that I didn't know yet; ask me on Monday when I don’t need to get up for work!  

So I thought that I’d sleep in, but 37+ years of getting up between 6 and 6:30 makes your body get into the habit of waking up at that time.  I tried to go back to sleep, but the traffic helicopter circling over the area kept me awake.  We had a big front come through on Saturday which brought lots of snow on from Saturday night into Sunday. On Sunday night, the temperature rose and hovered around freezing, so sometimes it was snow, sometimes sleet, sometimes rain; all of which made for an icy mess for the Monday morning commuters.  We didn't have it nearly as bad as some other locations in the country, but it was still treacherous driving.  

So Monday morning about 6:30, someone had an unfortunate encounter at one of the odd angle intersections near my house.  Hence the helicopter.  I live in Southwestern Pennsylvania, where there are lots of hills and bridges to contend with.  We have more bridges here in this county than they do in Venice, Italy.  True fact! The other thing about this area is that a lot of the roads were old trails before they became roads.  So the topography makes for some really interesting intersections that don’t play well with ice and snow.  I am really, really, really glad that I didn't need to get out there in that mess. So, in answer to those who want to know how it feels to be retired?  The answer is Wonderful!

Monday, February 2, 2015

Rowing Indoors?

So in my last post, I mentioned that I got myself talked into competing at the Pittsburgh Indoor Rowing Championships, which was this past Saturday.  The “Championship” part is for the high school and college age teams, but there are also events for adults. It is a huge event, with 500 – 600 people competing. It is a qualifying event for the World Indoor Rowing Championships which are held in Boston every March.  Selected first place finishers get free airfare to Boston to compete in that event.   And some of the finishers in THAT event get picked for the Junior National Teams and/or the Olympic teams.  Needless to say, I’m not in that category. 

One thing I can say about rowers - they are a dedicated bunch! There is a group from our boathouse who meets to practice every day at 5:30.  That’s a.m.  Oh-dark-thirty.  As in ‘before the sun is up’.  And they are really INTENSE!  I’m definitely not one of the intense people.  I row because it is a great low impact exercise, and it is something that I know I will be able to do for a long time.  And there is just nothing like the feeling of gliding over the water in a shell (rowing boat) and working as a team with the other people in the boat.  And even when we have to be indoors, the movement on an erg (rowing machine) mimics that feeling.  
This is an example of the view from an erg during a race. 

On Saturday, I overheard coaches telling their teams how they should pace themselves and that they should develop a strategy for each portion of the race, etc.  One of my teammates asked our coach what the goals should be for the race.  He said #1- don't fall off the erg, and #2 - finish!  I am sooo glad that our coach was so laid back about it, especially for my first race.  I met both goals!   And I'm proud to say that I also met my own personal goal, which was "don't finish last"! ;->