Modern Cross Pillow

Back in April I was contacted by the social media and marketing director of Camelot Fabrics. She was interested in having me create a quilted project for their web site. I was very flattered. They have some really cool fabrics. I was able to choose from all of them and pick the ones I liked the best to use in whatever I designed for them. Having never designed a quilt before, I decided to start small and created a pillow design.

I’ve always liked half-square triangles and crosses, so I combined them and came up with the design below. My friend Emma said she liked the design but she probably wouldn’t make the pillow herself because of all the triangles. I do see what she means. It’s also a pretty large pillow at 20″ and could seem daunting to some people. When I submitted the design to Camelot Fabrics, they asked me if I could redesign it with just one star so that it would be a little simpler.

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modern cross pillow1So after the redesign, here’s what the new pillow design looks like. It’s a 16″ pillow. I think I do like it better with just one star. It looks a lot more doable. So doable in fact, that I had to try it out for myself. I used this pattern for the Modern Quilt Guild’s Michael Miller fabric challenge that ended last month.

Here’s my submission for the challenge. I also entered it in the Iowa State Fair and it won second place. All’s well that ends well.

moderncrossIf you want to try the pattern out yourself, you can download it for free here.

 

Fort Collins Trip 2014

Dave and I drove to Fort Collins last week ostensibly to attend his niece’s high school graduation. But we turned it into a much-needed mini vacation for us. We were there for almost three days and it went by so fast.

The first day I was so lucky that I got to go fabric shopping at Mama Said Sew. In fact, that just happened to be our first stop when we got into town. That store is fabulous. It’s the only store I’ve ever been to that has fabric by Suzuko Koseki. I’ve always had to order it online, so that was a rare treat. Angela, the owner was super nice. And when I told her I was meeting my online quilting pen pal for lunch for the first time (whom she happened to know because they’re in the local Modern Quilt Guild together), she recommended a couple places to meet for lunch.

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After fabric shopping I got to meet my pen pal Jennifer in person. We have been writing to each other for four years. We found each other through Jen at Indie Fixx back when she started the Pen Pal Project in 2010 and asked if people wanted pen pals. Jennifer and I had very similar interests, so we started writing each other. We did a doll quilt swap last year. I never thought we’d meet but when this trip came up, it just seemed fortuitous because she lives in Cheyenne which is only an hour away from Fort Collins.

Jennifer

It was so fun meeting Jennifer. She was just as I imagined she would be. She cracked me up with stories of her husband who is an air force colonel. She even kept Dave amused. It turns out her husband and Dave share an interest in watching TV shows about Sasquatch, flying planes and shooting guns. We were having such a great time talking and catching up that we stayed in the restaurant past closing time and they practically had to kick us out. It was really hard for us to say goodbye. I can’t wait to come back again soon so we can meet up again. Next time we’ll have to meet in Cheyenne.

We didn’t get to spend a lot of time doing as much stuff as we would have liked because we did come to Fort Collins for Dave’s niece’s graduation after all. We also had to go to the graduation party and spend time with Dave’s sister’s family. It was funny seeing his niece Ava all grown up and graduated, ready to go off to college. She was the cute, little flower girl at our wedding 10 years ago.

AvaAlexaDave’s nieces Alexa and Ava (the graduate)

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We did find time to take a tour at New Belgium Brewery which was great, and I’m not even a drinker. It’s definitely a fun place to work. I could tell everyone there really enjoys their jobs. When you work there for a year, you get a specially designed New Belgium bike. After five years, you get a free trip to Belgium. After ten years you get a month off from work, plus a share in the company. Dave was trying to figure out how he could get a job there. The tour was really interesting and they weren’t stingy with their beer samples, either. Dave got six good-sized samples of their different beers, plus a free can of Fat Tire beer for helping to pour beer during the tour.

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We also drove down to Denver our last day because I begged Dave, even though he didn’t want to do a lot of driving around during this trip. I really wanted to stop at Fancy Tiger Crafts. I’ve always wanted to shop here and never dreamed that I would, and we were so close. What’s an hour of driving time, right? I kept dangling the flagship REI store there to entice him. It was a win-win for both of us.

Fancy Tiger was great but I was hoping they would have more Japanese fabrics than what they had. An employee said they would be getting more soon. I did find a few cute Japanese prints I hadn’t seen before, so it was worth the trip. And they had more Liberty of London fabrics than I’ve ever seen at any other fabric store. The store was really cool and I liked the fun vibe of the store. If I lived in Denver, I’d love to work there. They also had lots of yarn and patterns. There seemed to be something for everyone.

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We liked Denver but we didn’t get to spend much time there. We only spent four-and-a-half hours there because we had to get back to Fort Collins to go to church and then go to the graduation ceremony. We’d like to come back again when we have more time to spend there. We’re thinking of coming back next summer when the USA Pro Cycling Challenge goes through there. The weather will be better then, too. It was a little rainy during our trip.

Colorado is still one of our favorite places to visit and if we could manage it, we’d move there in a heartbeat. Their winters are milder and there’s no humidity. After the long winter we had, I’m ready to move anywhere where there’s no winter or where it doesn’t drag on forever. And I’m kind of getting tired of our humid summers. But I’ll tell you one thing Des Moines has over Fort Collins: great Asian restaurants. We couldn’t find any good sushi or Chinese restaurants while we were there. The one Chinese restaurant we ate at had us sorely missing Cafe Su. Dave’s sister said we probably weren’t going to find anything like that there. I guess you have to go to Boulder or Denver for that.

It was still a fun trip, but next time we’ll go just for ourselves when we can just relax and travel at our own pace. It’s hard to enjoy yourself when you have to rush around and always have to be somewhere at a certain time.

Happy May Giveaway

Yes, I’m still here. It’s been a long, brutal winter and spring is finally here. To celebrate I thought I’d have a giveaway. Since it’s still technically May Day, I guess you could say I’m giving away a May basket. You could use it for all sorts of things. Some ideas right off the top of my head are storing candy, spools of thread, charger cords, business cards, keys, cosmetics and small toys. You could also use it as a thread catcher by your sewing machine to catch all those loose threads you clip as you sew. You guys can probably think of a lot of other uses for it, I’m sure.

threadcatcher_0006AWThe basket is fully lined, reversible and measures 4.5W x 4D x 5H” (depending how far down you fold the top down). I’m thinking of making a pdf pattern of it to sell in my Etsy shop with two other versions (without the bias tape binding around the edge) so that you have some other variations to make and in case you don’t want the binding edge. I’ll let you know if I put the pdf in my shop.

In order to be entered to win this basket, leave a comment below telling me what your sewing projects are for this spring. Or if you’re not a sewer, tell me about any crafting projects you’re working on this spring. Sorry, but this giveaway is for U.S. residents only. I’ll leave it open until Monday, May 5. I will randomly choose a winner and contact you by e-mail. So, make sure you leave your e-mail address with your comment.

For an extra chance to win, you can do so by becoming a follower of my blog. All you have to do is click on the Follow Me button on the right side of my blog; then leave a second comment telling me you’re a follower of my blog. If you’re already a follower, just leave a comment saying you’re already a follower. Good luck!

**The giveaway is now closed. The winner is Kathy H.
Thanks to everyone who participated.**

Starting the Year Off with a Finish

I’ve been in hibernation mode since Thanksgiving, so I’m happy to report that I actually started this month off by finishing a quilt. It’s my Bloomsbury Gardens quilt that I started in 2012. I really love all the fabrics together. They’re very striking and they complement each other well. I’ve always wanted a Liberty of London quilt and now I have one!

Bloomsbury quilt_0003AWBloomsbury-quilt_0019AWI’m not happy that you can’t see the quilting very well on the front. I really wanted to use cream thread on the front and blue thread on the back, but I had tension problems with the cream thread showing up on the back. So I used blue thread on both sides. So it’s hard to see the quilting on the front. But you can see it really well on the back and it looks pretty good. The quilting design I used was Ohfransson’s Dogwood pattern. I really love it so much. I just wish you could see it better on the front.

Bloomsbury-quilt_0017AWLast week at my quilting group’s monthly meeting, we brought a list of all of our UFOs (unfinished objects). My list was the smallest with eight projects unfinished, but I do want to make a dent in it and finish at least a third of those projects by the end of this year. Of course, by the time I do, inevitably, more projects will be added to that list (it’s funny how that works). We agreed to revisit our lists in December and see if any of us have made progress on our UFOs. I hope to be one of them.

But I also decided that there is one UFO I won’t be finishing. It is a group project my quilting group and I made together when I first joined the group. While I enjoyed working on the medallion quilt when we were making it, it has prairie points that I’m not really crazy about. And my tastes have changed since then. So I don’t really want to spend the time, energy and money to have the quilt top quilted and bound. Making that decision feels good. And it feels right to me.

I think that just because you have a UFO doesn’t mean you have to finish it. You may not be the same person you were when you first started it. Things change and your tastes change. It’s ok to admit that you don’t love something you started awhile ago. Give it to someone else who might like it more. Or donate it to a charity. In my case, I’ll keep the medallion quilt top. It means a lot to me because my friends and I made it together. I’m just not interested in finishing it anymore.

I have decided not to make any resolutions for this year. They always seem to fall by the wayside, anyway. I’ve decided what I want is for worry, fear and unhappiness not to have a place in my life. I want to be happy and have more fun this year. I’ve also decided that life is too short to spend a single moment doing something I don’t want to do. So I want to make every minute count. 2013 was kind of a bust for me, so I’m hoping 2014 will be much better. I hope this year is a good year for you, too. Happy 2014!

Shop Update

This is a brief post to let you know that I just listed some elephant pincushions in my Etsy shop in case you’re interested in buying some right now. Lately I’ve been busy being a machine making stuff for a crafts show last weekend that was kind of a bust. I didn’t sell as much as I had hoped, but I guess that means I won’t have to work as hard to make as much stuff for my final Black Friday Market Day show.

Anyway, I listed five elephants, so if you’re interested, go take a look. Everyone at the crafts show last weekend loved the elephants, but no one bought one. So they’re up for grabs. I may do another pincushion giveaway for Sew, Mama, Sew’s annual holiday giveaway in December. But if you can’t wait that long, treat yourself and just buy one. These little fellas are looking for a good home.

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Welcome to Des Moines, Stitch!

In case you haven’t heard, there’s a great new fabric and yarn shop in Des Moines called Stitch. That’s very exciting news, my friends. Des Moines has been ripe for a modern fabric shop for a long time and I couldn’t be happier. It’s located in the East Village on East 5th Street. I think it’s the perfect location.

I stopped by over the weekend and fell in love with the store. The whole look and vibe of the store is very fun and modern. It carries such fabrics as Leah Duncan’s Tule line, Heather Ross’ Briar Rose and some lovely prints by Anna Maria Horner; all fabrics you’d otherwise have to purchase online. I’m so happy that I don’t have to drive all the way to Iowa City anymore to buy quality modern fabrics I love. (But you know me, I still will.)

092113_0007WI was delighted to discover that I had already met the one of the owners (Tami Stroh) and her daughter before. They had purchased a tissue cozy from me at an East Village crafts show a year or two ago. Tami shares my love of cute Japanese fabrics. She said she may be getting some Nani Iro fabric in the shop sometime. I can’t wait!

092113_0022WTami Stroh, one of the co-owners of Stitch

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Sewing machines that you can rent per hour for sewing projects

092113_0019WIn addition to fabric, Stitch also carries yarn, knitting needles, books and sewing patterns. I haven’t knitted in years, but with all the yummy yarns they have, I just may have to take it up again.

While I was there, Tami asked me if I would be interested in teaching sewing classes at the store. Of course I couldn’t say no. I was so flattered and happy that she asked me. Her store is so awesome. I think this could be Des Moines’ version of Purl Soho. I hope it’s a huge success. Please spread the word and tell everyone you know about it.

Travel Flat Iron Case

Over the weekend I finally got around to making this awesome flat iron case that I’ve been wanting to make for a long time. I saw a really cool pattern for one last year and pinned it to my Pinterest board, thinking I’d get get around to making it sometime. Every time I went on a trip, I would wish that I had a case like that because I was getting pretty tired of wrapping a towel around my flat iron after using it and packing it away. I’m always nervous about it being so hot and burning my clothes or melting something in my suitcase. Now I don’t have to worry about it any more.

090213_0002WI changed a couple of things from the original pattern. I used Velcro instead of adding ties for the closure because I didn’t want to have to mess with tying and untying it every time. I also didn’t add the pocket in the back for the plug because my flat iron has a rather chunky plug and it probably wouldn’t have fit in the pocket. So I only had to use 1/4 yard of fabric for the outside, the lining and the Insulbright batting. I also chose to use the silver Teflon fabric for the lining (the kind of fabric you use for ironing board covers) because I thought it would be better protection for the intense heat of my flat iron.

090213_0006WThe instructions were very easy to follow and I’m very happy with the way the case turned out. I could have done a little better job sewing on the bias tape, but I’ll know better for next time if I ever make another one. Now I don’t have to worry about my flat iron damaging anything else in my suitcase when I travel. I can’t wait to use this for an upcoming trip this week.

I hope you had a nice Labor Day weekend. Did you work on any projects that you’re proud of?

Back after a Health Scare

After experiencing the worst two weeks of my life, I will now always remember August 2013 as the scariest month ever. On August 4 (a Sunday), I woke up with sharp pains across my abdomen. I thought maybe it was food poisoning or just a bad stomach ache. So I just chugged Pepto Bismol all day and hoped it would go away. Never in my wildest dreams did I think it was anything serious or life-threatening. I decided to just wait to see my doctor the next day.

So on Monday I saw a physician’s assistant in my doctor’s office because my doctor wasn’t in that day. She checked my blood and urine and took an abdominal x-ray. She wasn’t sure what was wrong, so she wanted to schedule me for a CT scan that afternoon, but my stupid insurance company wouldn’t cover that without an ultrasound first. And I couldn’t get an ultrasound until the next day. So I suffered through another day of pain.

On Tuesday I went and got the ultrasound and waited in the waiting room until they said I could leave. After awhile, someone said there was a doctor from my doctor’s office who wanted to speak to me. He told me that the radiologist who read my ultrasound results sent him the results and it was clear that my appendix needed to be removed. I was supposed to rush to the emergency room immediately. Surgeons would be there to meet me. I was so scared. I had never been to the ER before. So I drove over there and called Dave and told him to meet me there.

Once I got to the ER, all I did was wait. They didn’t have a room available right away. Then, once they did have a room to put me in, the surgical residents weren’t convinced that my appendix was the problem. A parade of different residents came in to examine me and ask me the same questions. I guess I wasn’t exhibiting the classic symptoms of appendicitis and my pain wasn’t just on my right side. And the fact that I was a woman compounded their confusion. It could be my uterus or ovaries or something like that. I get that they really wanted to be sure that my appendix needed to be removed before they went into surgery, but what about the ultrasound results? And what did doctors do back in the olden days?

ER-roomWMe, sitting in the ER for six hours, waiting to get my appendix removed

So after six hours of waiting in the ER, they finally decided to remove my appendix. The surgery went ok but the surgeon told me that my appendix had ruptured. I’m guessing it probably happened on Tuesday sometime. If only my insurance company had let me get the CT scan. Or I should have just gone to the ER on the first day when I first felt the pain.

The day after the surgery I felt better and was released from the hospital. I really thought I was going to be able to go back to work in a couple days. But the next day I felt worse and was throwing up. The next few days I was throwing up and was constipated from the pain pills they prescribed. So then I was taking a cocktail of pain pills, antibiotics and laxatives and having trouble keeping all of it down. A couple of days I managed to keep some food down, but then I was back to throwing up again.

I went back to my doctor’s office and they ran tests. They said I was severely dehydrated and my electrolytes were way out of whack. Plus, I had lost a lot of weight. I had to go back to the ER. Again I waited and waited. Various surgical residents came and questioned me again. Then, they finally admitted me to the hospital. After a CT scan, they surmised that I had a small bowel obstruction. They guessed it was most likely from scar tissue from my appendectomy.

They stuck a tube up my nose and down my throat. It sucked up bile from my stomach and transferred into a container. This was to relieve pressure on my stomach. I had to keep this tube in for three days and I couldn’t eat or drink anything during this time. It was so uncomfortable. Every time I swallowed, I could feel the tube in my throat. The plan was to rest my bowels and let things calm down below. I didn’t have any appetite anyway, so that was fine with me.

If you’ve never been in a hospital, count yourself lucky. I didn’t get a good night’s sleep during the seven days I was there. Nurses were constantly coming in my room and taking my vitals. Surgical residents would come in my room every morning at 5:30 a.m. and ask me how I was feeling. Then 15 minutes later, someone would come and draw some blood. I never got used to all of this. I was also waking up several times a night to go to the bathroom. I had diarrhea almost every day. Let me tell you, it was not pleasant.

Being in the hospital was really hard mentally, too. I felt like I was never going to get out of there. I never knew when I was going to be able to leave. Waiting for my bowel obstruction to heal was hard. I just had to take things slowly, day by day. I couldn’t eat for so long. Then one day I could only eat broth. The next day, I could eat soups. Then, finally, I was able to eat solid food. Hallelujah! I received great care from all the nurses while I was there, but I definitely don’t want to go back there ever again. There’s a chance I could get another bowel obstruction again or it may never happen again. I’m hoping for the latter.

I just want to say thanks to all of my family and friends who prayed for me or came to my aid during my time of need. I really appreciate it. I’m still healing and it will probably be awhile before I’m back to my old self again. I’ll never take my health for granted again. I hope you never have to go through this.

Scrappy Birthday!

Today we celebrated our fourth year of owning our cat Scrappy. He came to us as a stray cat, so we don’t really know how old he is. We’re guessing he’s about five or six years old.

About a year after Dave and I moved into our house, we noticed two stray orange tabbies roaming the neighborhood, strutting around, acting as if this turf was theirs. For about a year and a half, we’d see them walking through everyone’s yards, even in the wintertime in the snow. I don’t know how they survived. We think that they were brothers that someone abandoned (because Scrappy is neutered).

Then in July of 2009, we decided to try and feed them because they were so cute and we felt sorry for them. We had a can of tuna, so we tried to lure them over. But only Scrappy dared to come near us and eat while we were standing there. The other cat was too afraid of us. He was also pretty mean. He would just hiss and at us and try to scratch us if we went near him.

ScrappyCrown1AWScrappy took to us immediately. He let us pet him and feed him. He loved the attention. After that first time, he kept coming back for more food every day. So then it got to be a routine. And then he became ours. We started out by feeding him leftover scraps we had in the refrigerator. That’s how he got his name. We called him Scraps and his friend Boots because his friend had white paws that looked like white boots.

When winter came along, Scrappy decided to spend it inside with us. He left Boots outside alone in the cold. (Boots never warmed up to us and always stayed mean.) But when it was spring again, Scrappy headed back outside and hung out with Boots. He’s mostly an outdoor cat. He can’t stand to be cooped up inside. The winter months are the longest ones for all of us because he wants to be outside but knows it’s too cold or too snowy. By the time spring comes along, we’re all ready for him to go out again.

We love having him as a pet. Since we don’t have any children, he’s like our baby. Dave tends to spoil him a lot with treats. And Scrappy really favors Dave more than he does me. They’re such great buddies that they hang out together all the time when Dave does yard work. I always get a kick out of watching Scrappy following Dave around the yard like a puppy.

People think cats aren’t as smart as dogs, but I think cats are extremely intelligent. Even in the heaviest rainstorm, Scrappy always knows where to find shelter. It always surprises me when I go to let him in during a storm, that he’s completely dry. Somehow, he always manages to find a dry spot to hide in when it’s raining. And when he wants to come inside, Scrappy scratches on the door to let us know. He’s such a character. He thinks he has us trained.

I hope we have many more years together with Scrappy. He can be annoying sometimes. But for the most part, we love having him in our lives and he’s a part of our family now. Happy Birthday Scrappy!

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Ch-ch-ch-changes

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I hate change. Especially when it’s forced upon me. When I’m ready for a change, I like to be the one to initiate it. On my terms. But I don’t like it when, out of the blue, things suddenly change on me without any warning. Like this whole Google Reader thing coming to an end forever starting July 1.

I know Google warned us in March, but now that the end date is looming ever closer, it’s more of a reality now. I’m so sad because Google Reader (GR) is perfect and I don’t want to say good bye. But I know that I must. So now I’m searching for a suitable blog reader alternative, even though I know none of them will come close.

After some research, I had it narrowed down to two choices:  Bloglovin’ and Feedly. I migrated all my blogs (447 of them!) to Bloglovin’ and immediately found that I hated the user interface. It’s nothing like GR and the features are way too simple and bare bones for my taste. All of my blogs are listed in alphabetical order on the right side and all the feeds are on the left side with the photos showing. I don’t like that all. I don’t have any control over anything and the interface is way too simple. I don’t know why a lot of the bloggers I’m following are raving over this reader. It seems to be geared for teenagers.

Then I migrated all my blogs over to Feedly. While this is no GR, I like this reader a lot better than Bloglovin’. The layout is kind of similar to GR and it has preferences that I can set up to make it look the way I want it. It does take some getting used to and I’m still figuring out my way around the desktop. I found this helpful article with tips on getting the most out of the Feedly desktop. One thing I don’t like is that my blogs are listed in alphabetical order instead of in order of favorites, but I’m hoping that’s something they’ll change in the future.

One scary thing about Feedly is that once you close out of it and try to get back into it later, it seems virtually impossible to reopen because it doesn’t have a login button on its home page anywhere. You’re supposed to be able to login through Google, but I couldn’t find it. I was panicking, until after some searching, I discovered that you have to go to this link: http://www.feedly.com/home. They should really tell you that after you sign up.

So I think I’ve found my GR replacement for now. It will never be the same as GR, but it will have to do. At least Feedly is visually appealing and I have some control over the layout. I’m still holding out hope that some other reader will come along that’s a virtual clone of GR so I won’t have to miss out on many of the features that I know and love from GR.

Have you switched to a new reader yet? If so, which one are you using and why?