Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Quilts with Breakfast

How often do you walk into a restaurant and see quilts hanging on the walls? This is not the first time this has happened to me and I'm beginning to think they follow me around, just waiting to be noticed. One day last week my son and I needed to go shopping for a few things and stopped for breakfast before we set out. As we walked along looking for someplace to eat I was thinking about small quilts and what I should write about on my blog - yet another shopping trip? Seems like that's all I've been doing lately - how boring.

We picked a random restaurant near this one store he wanted to go to and when we walked in -  there were quilts hanging on the walls! How unusual is that? I never go into restaurants and see quilts and now it's happened twice. I'm thinking it's some kind of karma. I'll have a cup of coffee . . . and 2 quilts, please.

He was a little embarrassed but very patient with me as I pulled out my camera. At least I turned the flash off so as not to draw too much attention to our table . . .

I did sneak off to the bathroom because I had to get a shot of this one. On the green wall.

On our way out, I asked the young man at the cash register if he knew who had made the quilts and he said he wasn't sure -  his mom, he thought.  Sounded like no one had ever asked before because he was surprised at my question. I told him I thought they were very nice and that I really appreciated how they added to the  "ambiance" of the restaurant. I hope he told his mom. After I got home I inquired a little further and found out that they were made by Martha Beard. Thanks, Martha! What an unexpected but pleasant surprise. We need more quilts in restaurants and other public places to lift us up and inspire us.

Monday, August 29, 2011

American Schoolgirl Doll Quilt Patterns

You may remember that last year I started a 6-month club called the American Schoolgirl Club that offered monthly patterns for doll quilts with a little bit of an antique look and a touch of history. I have run the club several times since then and there are still members getting their quilt patterns every month. Recently, I ran out of complete sets of the patterns and so have discontinued the Club. Instead of spending the money to print up more of these same patterns, I decided to just offer the remaining ones that are left for sale on my website, so click here if you're interested in buying the individual patterns. They are all very cute and each pattern comes in a little booklet with some historical information about the quilt or time period.There are not many left.

Those of you who have joined the club in the past few months - don't worry, I have enough to finish your club subscriptions and you will continue to get your patterns every month until you receive all six.

I'm not sure if I will design a new club someday. This  one was very popular and I would like to try to create a new one sometime next year if I have the time and energy. I'm still now just getting back to working on things and after my daughter goes to school the next thing on the agenda is making the little quilt for my retreat in October.

So that's all I have for now until I get back in the swing of things and decide if I will actually write another book someday. Who knows what's next? The thought of it stresses me out a bit right now, LOL. So much work. My thanks to all of you who continue to love the little quilts and keep me inspired to design more!

Friday, August 26, 2011

The Quilting Bug

Yay! I finished the college quilt for my daughter last night and am taking it to the quilter today. Now we just have to wait. But it's not like we still don't have a million things to do in the meantime before she goes to school.

The other day we spent several hours at a quilt shop picking out the borders and backing fabric for the quilt. Or at least it seemed like SEVERAL hours. I love a good quilt shop but  . . . Sheesh.

I was patient. Mostly I restrained myself and stood back and let her do it herself. Many of the blocks in the quilt were made with reproduction fabrics she picked out from my collection at home. I followed her around the shop and found my own favorites for the borders but she didn't like my choices at all so I just kept quiet.

The shop owner said - "She has very strong opinions." So true, but not sure that was a compliment. LOL, if she only knew . . .

I decided I would not even attempt to tell her what fabric to pick for her special quilt - those were the rules. I would make it if she would pick out the fabric. Sneaky of me?? You bet. I demanded a little involvement on her part. You should know that my daughter does not quilt. "That's YOUR thing, Mom," she always says. But when we left the shop I could see that twinkle in her eye and she said it was SO much fun! I had quietly watched her walking around the shop, lovingly touching the fabrics. Paying attention to the wonderful quilting designs on the quilts hanging on the walls. Studying the different types of fabrics. Noting designers. It was not a bad experience. So maybe there's hope, maybe someday she'll get the bug. Or perhaps she already has, who knows?

It all went together in the end. Can't wait for it to be quilted.


Thursday, August 25, 2011

Old Quilts

My friend Julia felt sorry for me after reading my recent blog post about not buying any antique quilts for awhile and so the other day she came over with this vintage Apple Core quilt - for ME!

Seems she was shopping and it just whispered my name to her. It's very scrappy and pieced and quilted by hand. Although it has a few worn spots it's beautiful nonetheless. You know how I love checks and plaids . . . . and apples too! This one would be very cute in a small size and I remember seeing a pattern for a very colorful scrappy one made by Cindy Blackberg in a Jo Morton book. Cindy Blackberg sells the stamps on her website. One more for the list!

It sure looks like the quilter used up scraps from her scrap basket - maybe pieces of old shirts and worn housedresses.  I love the occasional patch of a black print next to the pastels. Very striking, don't you think?

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Ties to the Past

Doll quilts from the past stir our hearts and engage our emotions with their simple blocks and imperfect stitches. It's fun to imagine what kinds of quilts children may have made and played with long ago and making little scrappy quilts certainly brings the past alive, doesn't it?

Here's one of my recent finds - a little Bow Tie quilt. I've always always wanted to make one and just haven't gotten around to it. Then BOOM! I found one already made. What luck!

Love those checks!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

More Shopping

I can't believe how much shopping I've done this summer. Trips to IKEA are always fun and a great way to save money when both of your kids have new places to live but don't exactly have jobs yet.

What a deal!

My son just got an apartment and needed a few things to make it liveable. He's working on the job thing - meanwhile, he's going back to school.

This - or THIS?  Always best to bring the girlfriend along to make sure you get the right things.

My daughter will be going off to her school soon and you know how boring those dorm rooms can be if you don't spruce them up a bit.

What a decision! Black, silver or purple? Not sure how functional it is, but  pretty cool nonetheless and sure to be a big hit on campus. 

Everybody needs some bright-colored fake flowers when they go off to college, am I right?? (My fault - she watched way too much HGTV as a child, I'm afraid.)

He makes friends easily wherever he goes . . .

All I can say is, thank goodness we went to IKEA and not Pottery Barn. My daughter and I have a few more shopping trips to go before she's ready to go off to school, her new life. Let's see:  X-Long sheets, towels, shower caddy, mini-frig, and . . . oh yeah, a QUILT, in case I don't finish the one I'm supposed to be making for her . . . 

I'll have all the rows sewn together by tomorrow. I promise.

This empty nest thing  - it's very emotional if I take the time to sit and think about it. Better to keep busy. It occurred to me that maybe I'm dragging my feet on this quilt because subconsciously I'm thinking, if I don't make the quilt . . . perhaps she won't leave??? You know what my husband would say to that -  "Honey, I think you think too much." What does HE know. I'm missing them already . . .

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Doll Quilt Retreat

Only one more week to sign up for the Small Quilt Retreat! October 7 - 9, 2011 in Elkhorn, Wisconsin. With me and others who love to make small quilts. We could use a few more people to make it even funner . . . 

My classes are Super FUN! Just ask her . . .

Look at the great time she's having - Would she lie to you??

I have a few things planned for the weekend - a workshop to make a NEW little quilt.  I haven't designed it yet though (puh-leeze! My knee, remember? It hurts when I press pedal to metal  . . . ) but I will and I'm thinking Fall colors. Mine will have blue in it too, of course. Tips on how to get that old-fashioned look in your doll quilts. A Show & Tell where you can all bring the little quilts you've made and also a trunk show of some quilts from my books. A fabric or block swap. A race to make a cute little Needle Case if we have time.

I'll figure it all out as we get closer to October. I cannot WAIT for Fall after this hot hot summer we've had. Fall in Wisconsin is wonderful. Maybe I'll bring some bratwurst and we can have our own little Octoberfest! It IS Wisconsin, after all . . . Who knows, maybe S'mores too if they trust us around a bonfire . . .

If I have the nerve, I will bring the FIRST quilt I ever made to show everyone. If you promise not to laugh . . . I keep it around as a reminder of how far I've come.

So c'mon, time's a wasting people - get going and sign up. I need a few more people to fill it up. (Find my contact  e-mail at the top of the page under My Profile.)  It would really be fun to meet some of you I have "talked" with online.

Making little quilts all weekend - What could be better??

Thursday, August 11, 2011

One Thing After Another. . .

She looks innocent enough, doesn't she? What could be so difficult about walking such a little dog??

Well, you know I have been trying so hard to get into shape (ha!) after everything I've gone through lately. Three times in the hospital and recovery from 2 surgeries this past year did a number on my muscles and entire body in general. Like I was hit by a truck, a BIG truck some days. I know everybody is tired of hearing about it and I usually suffer in silence. But I'm still recovering and really working hard to try to overcome the toll it's taken on me. It's been a frustrating two steps forward and one step back most of the time. My doctor understands though and she keeps telling me to give myself a break, it hasn't really been that long, the body takes time to heal and Hey, guess what? I'm no kid anymore. Thanks. Pretty soon I will have to call this blog The Old, Broken Quilter Who Only Thinks About Quilting Sometimes.

I walked a lot this past Spring to get into shape a little before my surgery. One day I twisted my knee walking the little girl (see photo, above) as she pulled the leash and ran after a squirrel. It hurt, I limped home and put ice on it and wrapped an Ace bandage around it. It bothered me a little for awhile but after I had the surgery, the pain disappeared since I was resting a lot.

When I finally got the okay from my surgeon to resume exercise a month ago I started walking and trying to exercise again. But then the weather around here became unbearable so I joined  the local YMCA so I could exercise inside. This was working great and it actually felt good to move so much again and get my heart rate up. UNTIL, one day, I walked the dog and did that half-step-slide off the curb again . . .  My knee twisted and this time it hurt REAL bad.

I went to the Orthopedic Dr (I have a doctor for every occasion, LOL) who made me get an MRI and then told me I tore the cartilage in my knee and needed surgery to repair it. You can imagine I was not happy to hear that. He suggested pain killers and a cortisone injection if I did not want surgery. The pain didn't really go away and I like to avoid pain meds. Walking comfortably for more than two blocks? Forget it. This time it felt like I took 3 or 4 steps backwards.

Instead of surgery, the doctor said I COULD try the conservative approach and give Physical Therapy a shot and see what happens. I could tell he was not confident it would help, but then he's a Surgeon and that's what they do, surgery. If I had not already had SOOO much surgery recently I would have consented, pronto. For now this is what I have decided to do and here's where I feel like I spend a lot of my time -

What's next, the hip??

I'm only telling you all this because I  know there are probably many of you out there my age with knee and hip problems and I need some sympathy. At least I hope I'm not the only one. Getting older sure is no fun.

Therapy does have its perks, however. The other day I went up to the front counter to schedule another appointment and had to walk past someone on another table. The buzz in the room was about  pulled hamstrings. I looked at my therapist and quietly said - "Is that . . . ???" "Mmmm hmmm" he answered. No, sorry, it was NOT George Clooney. This is Illinois and we take what celebrities we can get. In my house we are all NBA basketball fans so this will not mean anything to most of you, but I was  excited. I stepped out of my shyness and walked over and asked if I could have his autograph and oh, by the way, also get a picture for my son, who's a big fan.

I went home and texted my son that I  had just finished physical therapy, then sent him the picture telling him they assigned me a "personal trainer" so I could get better and maybe hopefully play basketball with him someday on a Mother-Son team.

He texted back with an annoyed sigh: "Mom, that's Kirk Hinrich, I don't think so." Well, I  thought it was funny but I guess you can't put anything over on kids today . . .  Kirk Hinrich ("Captain Kirk" to his fans) played 7 seasons with the Chicago Bulls (our team) and is currently with the Atlanta Hawks. Nice to see him back home.

If I ever run into Kirk again and by chance he asks how I'm doing, what's wrong, I plan on telling him I injured my knee in a much more dramatic fashion than "Walking the Dog"  LOL. Maybe something like, say - speed dribbling down the court on a fast break. I don't think I'll mention the squirrel . . . . .