Friday, November 29, 2013

More Cold Weather Coming

I'm visiting my dad at the nursing home today.  He's sleeping, so I'm posting an update.  Still trying to find better internet service at home - one that's fast enough to do more than read e-mail.  Our cold spell ended yesterday, but there's another forecasted to move in on Monday, an even colder one with temperatures stuck in the freezing zone all day for several days.  Yuck!  I hope it doesn't do this all winter, but just in case, I'm trying to set up a sewing area in my mom's house so I can at least work on small projects.  And I need to  make my dogs some jackets to wear when it gets so cold.  Doggy sweaters don't work with them as they can squirm out of them faster than I can put the sweaters on them!  In past years, I made cotton ones (non-stretchy fabric) lined with flannel. This year, I might try fleece as the lining.  For Dusty, I should try to find some denim for the outside instead of cotton - his big paws shred cotton fabric too easily.  The old quilt I have an my bed looks like someone tried to feed it through a paper shredder!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Winter Weather has Arrived!

I'm still having internet troubles at home with my dial-up service, so I'm in town at my sister's using her dsl to access my blog and upload several posts at once.   Winter weather has arrived here, with nighttime lows dipping down to the low 20's.  It's been much too cold to work in my studio or in my trailer, so I've been sort of camping out at my mom's house.  To keep myself busy, I've been crocheting snowflakes.

I wish you could see the sparkly silver thread in the white yarn.  These will make pretty tree ornaments. The patterns are from the book 100 Snowflakes to Crochet by Caitlin Sainio.  The snowflakes in the book were made with crochet thread, but I'm using #4 weight yarn and an H crochet hook -- my snowflakes come out about twice the size of those in the book but still only 4-5" in diameter.  Half my snowflakes are made with the white holiday yarn, while the others are made from a variegated pastel baby yarn.  We're supposed to have another week of this icy cold weather, so maybe I'll get enough snowflakes done to decorate with and give as gifts.  But I'd rather be in my studio sewing.

In case you're wondering why I'm not hand quilting something, I have a 20-pound dog who thinks my lap belongs to him.  I can crochet above him, but any craft involving sharp needles is out of the question during the winter unless I'm sitting at a table.  During the warmer months, he's too busy playing outside to care about my lap.

Designing with the Snow Star Block

When you put multiple Snow Star blocks together, you get a kaleidoscope effect with a secondary star that seems to float behind the white star.

The image above shows a setting without sashing.  When you add sashing and cornerstones, you create a a more complex secondary star image, as shown below.

Changing the use of fabric colors in the sashing and cornerstones will also change the design.

A simple table runner design might look like this:

Wouldn't this be a pretty quilt for displaying a collection of snow people?

Tired of blue and white?  Here's what a child-sized quilt might look like using bright kid prints.

New Block in Quiltmaker's 100 Blocks

The newest issue of Quiltmaker's 100 Blocks (vol. 8) went on sale a few days ago.  It's full of incredible pieced and appliqued blocks!  My pieced block, Snow Star, is a bit of a Plain Jane compared to the others, but you can make some pretty incredible designs with it.

For the magazine, I chose to do this block in three shades of blue, similar to the virtual block above (I no longer have the block that I submitted).  After naming it Snow Star, it was a little difficult to visualize this block in other colorways, but I persevered and came up with the two below.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Just in Time for Halloween

While sorting through containers a few weeks ago, I found a few applique pieces already cut out with the fusible web ironed on. I think I must have cut them out at least five years ago. I frequently trace and cut out more pieces than I actually need, especially small pieces because they so easily fall to the floor and vanish into some black hole. I'm a little surprised, though, to find bigger pieces.

Knowing that if I put them back into the little plastic box, it would be another five or more years before I happened to find them again, I took some time out from reorganizing my studio to press the pieces onto some fabric, assemble a little quilt sandwich and stitch everything in place. As an art piece, the composition isn't great -- a few more leaves would have been nice, and some embroidered leaf stems and curly-cues. But it'll make a fun little display for Halloween. Instead of binding it, I'll serge the edges and then pin it to my dad's bulletin board in the nursing home. If it goes missing (things in his room have a tendency to do that), it won't be a great loss of my time.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Meet Webster and Oxford!

No, I'm not saying that you should become acquainted with a dictionary.  Webster and Oxford are the new butterflies joining the Sundrop Critters.  They're owl butterflies and really do resemble their namesake.  Since owls are suupposedly wise, I gave my owl butterflies scholarly names.

This applique pattern fits a 6" block or larger and is available for free on my web site ( until Oct. 15, 2013.  Afterwards, it can be purchased for $2.00.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Internet Problems and More

My internet problems have gone from bad to worse: speed that slows to a standstill, pages that load looking like preschool html gobbledy-gook, and frequent disconnections (like every 10 minutes).  I've unplugged everything three times to take my laptop to my sister's  to use her dsl to troubleshoot.  The good news is that my computer works prefectly fine on dsl, so there's nothing wrong with my laptop.  The bad news is that after trying several different browsers and isp's, the only one I can get to work is AOL and it crawls at 31000 kbps.  But at least it's moving and eventually uploads pages in a readable format.

As if things weren't bad enough, when I went to SundropNews today to send out a newsletter, I discovered that it has been chosen by the Yahoo powers-that-be to be a guinea pig (slang term meaning test subject) for Neo.  Aaaargh!  I clicked on every button I found but could not find a way to post a newsletter.  So, until Yahoo works out the many bugs in Neo, I will post things here, and on my web site and the SundropFun group, and hope everyone somehow gets the message.

First news item: Due to increase postage costs, I've raised my baseline postage charge for US orders from $4 to $5.  Customers will still be refunded any amount over the actual postage.  This increase just makes it less likely that I have to pay part of the postage on heavy items.  (I'd like to be that generous, but I have bills to pay, too.)

Item #2: When I was compiling my Sundrop Critter patterns into annual packs, I discovered that I had miscounted - I'm short one critter!  I also decided that I don't want to use my special occasion critters, like the Easter Bilby, as part of a pack.  So get your printers and stash ready because six more critters are coming!  The first should be arriving this weekend (if the internet cooperates).


Saturday, August 31, 2013

Quilter's I Spy

Inbetween the chores like weeding, defrosting the freezer, washing windows, scrubbing grime off my trailer, etc. (my sister and nephews have been helping, thank goodness!), I've been sorting and reorganizing my accumulation of stuff: clothing, books, kitchen items, and quilting/craft stash. As I was sorting through my little trinkets, it occurred to me that this was a tip I could share about doing the wee folk and critters. Over the years, I've been picking up tiny trinkets from the dollar store as well as stores like Wal-mart and JoAnn's.  My stash includes beads, sequins, metallic confetti, tiny pom poms, tiny wiggle eyes, tiny clothespins, little pre-made applique flowers, narrow ribbons, glitter, fake snow, teeny-tiny buttons, snaps and laces used for doll clothes -- just about anything small that I think might be useful to embellish or save me from creating it myself (like tying tiny bows or cutting out tiny applique flowers or hearts).

I put a small sample of some of these things in a sandwich baggie and scanned it. It looks a lot like a photo in a kid's I Spy book! Look closely and you'll find shamrocks for my wee leprechauns, a variety of hearts for my Sweethearts Ball wee people, pom poms for the elfkins shoes, tiny clothespins for hanging wee clothing, a variety of sequins for decorating wee Christmas trees, etc.

It's a tedious job sorting through all this stuff, but it will be so nice to be
able to quickly find what I want instead of rummaging for hours or buying
something I already have.