Sunday, October 17, 2021

Home again, home again, jiggity jig!

 So the quieter sights of home are now being enjoyed again, after the spectacle of Vegas. I am now snuggled in for four months of sewing. I am really glad I made the trip, because I have a sneaky feeling I won't be traveling again anytime soon and I'm not sure why.

In terms of my garden-- I was able to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat-- squirrel jaws, that is! With the assiduous use of coyote pee dust, they must have been trained to look elsewhere. Once the leaves got bigger, I think the "salad" also got too tough for the discriminating rodent palate. No first frost yet, so everything is still getting more lush by the day. Every afternoon I go out and take pictures, thinking it will be the last time-- and then the next afternoon, an even better picture presents itself! I hope this cycle repeats for a couple of weeks yet. I still have roses blooming, too. We live less than a mile from the ocean-- so the weather is a tad more temperate than you would think of for New England.

I headed back to the sewing room before I was even unpacked. I am NUTS about fall, and always wanted to make zen acorns. The Zen designs have a select, small group of fans that buy all of them, and there are my favorites, so it's one of my most long running styles that I do.

I would love to make this style a block of the month, but it's not a large enough following, so my fall back is to do the four seasons. Remember the carrot set last spring?

I'd really love to make the matching acorn table runner for a set and I have started it. I'm using Lella Boutiques Folktale fabrics which I LOVE... and my next YouTube video is going to be SHORTER and discusses applique.

I can't thank all the people enough last week who not only read to the bottom of the last SFO email, but also took the time to go in and SUBSCRIBE to my new channel. Here's where we stand:

It's not that I expect to make a great deal of cash from this, but I'd like to know I'm spending the time for more that two people, heehee! The artist-in-residence has graciously consented to edit. I love the music she picks-- it sounds exactly like what I hear in my head!

So you notice we are over the hump to get 1,000 subscribers, and the next thing I'm gonna ask for it that 100 GOOD WOMEN go in and just run the binding video-- then, you are welcome to just walk out of the room and get on with your life while it plays. 100 GOOD WOMEN x 40 minutes will get us to the 4,000 watch hours required to GROW WITH YOUTUBE. I tried to play it on my own, but I don't think my hours are counting towards my total. I'm not above opening a fake account and obsessively playing "Easy Mug Rug Binding", if it comes to it. Never say never to me. xoxo

If you don't know what I'm talking about, the YouTube Channel is here:

San Francisco Stitch Co. on You Tube

I've never actually seen a SLOWER start to fall sewing in 19 years of business. Where are you all? In addition to supply chain issues, I'm not forecasting a whole lot of handmade gifts this year-- it's alright. Maybe we need a grinchy Christmas as a reminder of what's important. So instead of doing Christmas designs, I made the decision to spend the time finishing Stitches of the Sea. I saw a gorgeous aquarium in Vegas-- my conscience got quite a tweak!

So after months of marinating ideas (no butter, lemon, or pepper needed), I finally did something I'm happy with.

We need four pieces in two methods (QAYG and ITH), so even though the hard part is over of conceiving it, the time consuming part of testing is mostly still ahead. We will finish this, this year, bottom line. Here's a not entirely accurate Photoshop to wet your whistle.

It would be great to start a new BOM next year-- what would it be? I have a couple of ideas in my head.


(based on Aesop's stories)


(you know how I love the months)


(since I am hopelessly nostalgic right now for a simpler time we all know never existed-- could I take past favorite designs and really "do them up" in quilt size blocks?)

So I don't get a lot of comments on my blog posts, which is fine, because I see that I have hundred of views, and many of you write to me privately. But if ever there was a time I'd like to hear from you it is now. Let me know what resonates for 2022.

Of course I did get back to some fun piecing last week as well! The big sunflower finally got made for the center of my Bats and Boos (free Fat Quarter Shop stitch-a-long).

I kept the pattern they gave, but used my own colors-- I just wanted something a bit more colorful.

I would have loved to hand applique some pumpkin leaves in the border-- they are such a pretty shape. But it's time to get real about how much time I have-- I'm going to make a flying goose border. I tried to like and accept the plain fabric border the pattern called for, but I can't-- I didn't have anything, and I promised myself no new fabric for this.

If you sense a tad of bittersweet in this post-- yup, it's that time of year! I've been yearning for the projects I didn't get to this year-- I had a beautiful, big reindeer quilt block to make. A peach tree to applique on a piece from 1997. I wanted to make a swan applique block from one of the Once Upon A Time winter designs. Being 60 makes me realize that time is short-- we have a super time-consuming hobby, and maybe it's just time to be more judicious about what we choose to sew.



Saturday, October 9, 2021

A Quilter's Guide to Vegas

So let me start right off by saying-- the headline here was just to suck you in-- no quilt shops or even any hand sewing took place on this trip! It was a straight up vacation-- the culmination of my month long 60th birthday party. I am not a gambler, drinker, smoker, or sinner, unless you count Diet Coke addiction-- but Las Vegas has always been on my bucket list. Mostly, I always craved the spectacle of it, and wanted to visit the Hoover Dam and see the desert. So if you've never been, or if you just need a little five- minute virtual break, read on.

We stayed at the infamous Mandalay Bay; there really was no choice about this. And just to put that fact behind us as quickly as possible, I'll say that no one there was talking about it-- sadly, perhaps there has just been too much continuing tragedy for it to stay in memory. Our room faced the airport-- I didn't like the idea of that, but we really did enjoy watching all the helicopters and airplanes buzzing around and the moon rising each night over the mountains became our favorite "show." 

The hotel was really lovely-- it had an three amazing pools-- plain, wave pool, and lazy river. I did not get down there as much as I would have liked-- it closed at six. We were pretty nonstop every day!

No doubt you have heard of "the Strip." This refers to Las Vegas Boulevard that runs north to south and most of the casinos are along it. My first impression was from the airplane-- the city rises up out of nowhere in a valley between dry, spiky mountains. Then on the ground, it was hard to believe how long it was-- four miles, and from one hotel to the next is a long, long walk-- either outside in the heat, or inside from one to the next through shops and casinos. We learned how to take a tram from one to the next-- problem is, it was always a long, long walk to find the tram, or a long, long walk to even find a cab. In all we walked about 15 miles a day as my Fitbit would attest!

Here's a free map we were given of the monorail-- it became my "Bible" (bad metaphor, heehee) of things to do.

The Mandalay Bay was on the extreme South End, and I cannot tell you the enjoyment we had walking up past the Luxor, the Excalibur, New York, NY, MGM, Caesar's Palace, Paris, the Bellagio, the Venetian-- this aspect of Las Vegas is very "Disney-ish" as we went from one theme to the next.

Las Vegas just inherited the Raider's football team and this fact was everywhere.

We had this lovely little lunch at a restaurant on-- well, nothing would have convinced me we weren't really on the Grand Canal in Venice, but this is actually inside. The canal with the gondoliers was the only thing that was a tad smaller than I imagined on the whole trip.

That afternoon, we drove out to Red Rock Canyon. We were so fortunate to get a rental car, and this was just a half hour drive west.

There's a fourteen mile loop to drive... 

Mr. SFO loves a hike, and I had thought we might stop at a few of the stops and walk a mile in or so-- we would have DIED. All we had was one little bottle of water between us, and the heat in this place was incredible.

Then it was back for dinner, a gorgeous sunset over the airport, and more enjoying the spectacle of the Strip at night.

I was beyond tired at night... you cannot even imagine it!

Day 2 was the Hoover Dam. If there's one thing I love, it's a gargantuan engineering project in an even more monumental natural setting. So I'd say this was the highlight of the trip for me. I was kind of afraid it wouldn't be as big as I imagined it!

Well, that was a wasted worry! Can you see the little tiny cars parked way down there at the power plant?

 I believe it is 700 feet down to that roof, and there was nothing to stop me from leaning my camera over the railing to get this snapshot. It was terrifying!

The best view of the dam are from that bridge-- you can walk out over it, but it's a highway and trucks and cars are just zooming feet away from you. Again, there was nothing to stop you from leaping over if a giant truck careened off the road.

You can see by my smile how much it meant to cross off this bucket list item.

And now here is Lake Mead, created by the Hoover Dam:

It is two-thirds empty, and you can see by that little island top in the center, it has quite a bath tub ring. 

No one is trying to say it is all about climate change-- it turns out, they grossly overestimated how much water runs through there each year before the dam was even built. Then, they grossly underestimated how much would be need for all of the development in this area. A lot of water is lost by soaking into the rocks, and even more evaporates in the heat. And still the building continues. It crossed my mind, that maybe the desert was never meant to bloom as it said on a plaque. :-(

I couldn't make it back up to the parking deck, so tired was I by the end of this visit. Mr. SFO had to go get the car. So then he cheered my up on the way back with this:

So you can't have water in the desert, and you can't have this in New England, either-- boohoo!

My hour I gave myself to write this post is over, so I'll just leave you with a few more pictures of all that we jammed in to five days. I did manage to get myself kicked out of a place-- a badge of honor for an old lady of 60 in Vegas, and I'm keeping my kids guessing about why. (I took flash photos in the Titanic exhibit-- OK, so I kept thinking flash was off, but it turned out it was on automatic, and it happened like three times, heehee.) And I did a little gambling and won 50 cents. 

In all, taking a vacation again was so relaxing and enjoyable after the past two years. 

We laughed at places that decorated with fall leaves... you can't beat New England for that!

The Fountain of the Gods in the Venetian...

Featherweights in Vegas..

The Bellagio fountain-- bigger than a football field!

The High Roller Ferris Wheel...

So if you are not a gambler, smoker, sinner, or drinker, and you ever have a chance to go, I'd highly recommend the spectacle of Vegas. I kind of wish I was walking past the Sphinx again right now.



Thursday, September 30, 2021

The Year in Review

     Sew it was my New Year's Resolution to make twelve table runners this year. How am I doing? The year is officially 3/4th over, so I thought I'd take a minute and take stock... 

January: Fig Tree Burgoyne Tablerunner

I dove in and pulled this first thing from a Little Box of Figs subscription I had a couple of years ago. I love Fig Tree fabrics-- but the kits quite honestly were hit and miss-- mostly miss as this is the only one I made. It was fun to get a surprise in the mail four times a year, but honestly Fig Tree is now releasing their Little Box of Figs patterns after the fact, so you can decide if you like a thing first, and use your stash fabrics for it. I switched back to Fat Quartershop's Sew Sampler Box this year-- it's every month, and you get a bigger variety of designers over the course of a year. It's also very reasonable in cost.

Good news! This is actually quilted and just in need of binding! I want to have it for Christmas-- red is such a good color for Christmas-- if you like to leave your things up for quite a lot after the fact, red can take you right into Valentine's Day. That is my decor tip of the day!

February: Sew Sampler Box Fast and Flurrious

Well, that opens the door to talk about my Sew Sampler box project! This one was actually from last November-- clearly, I like my boxes to simmer for awhile. I LOVE this Cider fabric-- I LOVE most of what Basic Grey puts out. If you know me, you know I use their Grunge fabrics which are actually so scrumptious as a texture under machine embroidery. So each new fabric collection has three or four new Grunge colors, and I love seeing what they are. This collection had a new orange, a gold, and a fabulous denim color.

I managed to get a table runner and two pillows out of the honeybun that was in the box, and you can see EVERYTHING IS COMPLETELY DONE, has been on my upstairs coffee table for months, and now the color scheme, fall, is appropriate for the first time this year-- YAY!

March: Double-wide Dresdens

This pattern was from another Sew Sampler box in 2018-- but at the time, I really didn't understand what it was. Then I saw pictures on Instagram of these dresdens, and in a rare moment of serendipity, instead of buying the template again, it not only dawned on me that I had it, but I was actually able to find it. 

You stitch an entire charm pack together-- then cut it all apart-- which was as satisfying a thing to me as ever was. Only a quilter understands. So all would be well that ends well, except we don't have an ending yet-- all four are stitched up, but still need to be sewn together and I want to make a scrappy piano key border out of an extra charm pack I have. So that's still on the list but I'd love to have this for Thanksgiving. We got a shot!

April: Scrappy Carrots

This was for San Francisco Stitch Co. Everyone loved this as evidenced in sales (thank you!) and I now have an acorn version in the works. Totally done-- EXCEPT-- I would go back and free motion swirls behind the carrots, only I am afraid of ruining it. More on that later.

May: Pears

I was so pleased with my Fig Tree pears, and I even pulled a pear pattern out of my hat. This is a gift, and THIS NEEDS TO GET FINISHED in time for Christmas. So here's another instance where I am afraid of ruining it. I have the longarm, and I hate to say it, but I'm at the point where I'm wondering if I should have spent the money. Longarm time is not happening in my life as much as it should. I clearly have too many obsessive hobbies. Do you know that I take a guitar lesson every week? My teacher, half my age, LECTURED me on the practice time I (am not) putting in each week. How humiliating was that! 

Where, where, can we find more time, people? Without any area suffering? Does my family need to eat?
These are the questions I ask myself frequently in the fall.

June: Thank You for your Service

So this one was a bit of a cheat--I had extra blocks made from a Quilt of Valor that I did with two friends. I cleverly arranged that we would complete it at my house, and so the extra blocks remained here. (Months later, I did ask if anyone else wanted them, to be fair.) So these got sewn together, I birthday--gifted it as a flimsy, joking that my recipient "would see it again at Christmas." (finished, hee, hee) Now that a bad joke is about to become true, I am promising myself this will get loaded to the longarm THIS WEEKEND. I think just some simple wave quilting would get it done-- does everything have to be SEW FANCY? No.

July: Three Blind Cats

Thank God-- it's a success story. This was stitched, quilted, and gifted months ago. YAY!
I even embroidered shut eyes on the cats but I guess I didn't get a picture of that. This went to a really sweet person who took in blind kitty cats-- since they could never see, they have never missed it, and I hear that they get on just fine. <3

August: Snickerdoodle

This was a big WIP from last year. I started last year on National Jelly Roll day and finished this year on National Jelly Roll day. That's a year of jelly-- I still don't like Jelly Rolls. There is too much squaring up of units-- like, just cut your dang strips from yardage to 2-1/2" wide and you will spare yourself the extra time these are supposed to save you. Lots of squished points and mismatched seams in this one. I'm perfectly happy to have it folded on a shelf until the next baby or new home is on the horizon. Let's consider it DONE for now. I'm DONE. I can tell you that. It's a hard thing for me to say I didn't enjoy working on a quilt, but there you have it.

September: Bats and Boos
This is Fat Quartershop's free Halloween stitch-a-long-- after week two, I couldn't resist. September is over, but it is not-- that middle block is photoshopped (I was testing colors) and I'd love to hand applique some pumpkin leaves. Pumpkin leaves are a really pretty shape if you've ever noticed. I'm hoping I can cut them out with my new Cricut-- yet another gadget I'm not sure is paying for itself-- though I did cut all the pieces for these blocks on it!

So here's the Checklist:
Burgoyne Binding
Quilting- Pears and Thank You for Your Service
Bats and Boos-- finish

That's actually not as bad as I thought-- and I'm going to tackle it. Technically I have three months of tablerunners to go, but frankly, the Snickerdoodle could have counted as FIVE table runners if you count the rows. It would be fun to go over my master list of projects and think about any others I'd like to finish this year.

So that's my table runner story! I'd highly recommend taking photos of your work on your phone as it comes along all year, or to write a little blog even just for yourself-- to keep things in perspective-- to enjoy the accomplishment-- to keep things moving along.