Thursday, October 29, 2009

Let's make cat collars and save a ton of money!

We have 4 cats and because they are indoor/outdoor cats in the country (we live on about 90 wooded acres with no real near neighbors- bliss!) we put break-away collars on them just in case one of them wanders off and gets lost. Hopefully, someone would find him or her and know that the cat has a home and is loved and would call us. We try to keep our phone number on them at all times, too, but because they lose these collars at an alarming rate, we don't buy tags, I make them with the label maker and stick them around the ring. Knock on wood, only one cat has ever wandered off, Murphy- he was gone for the longest 5.5 days of my life and showed up one night, skinny and hungry and almost as happy to see me as I was to see him. Poor baby, I really think he was up a tree, he was so thin. And he had laryngitis before he got lost, so he couldn't even call me for help, I couldn't hear him anywhere!

See all these bells? Each bell represents a collar that was bought, worn and lost. Each collar = $3 at WalMart. This is about $120 worth of cat collars. (I take the bells off because I think it would make me insane to have a bell around my neck all the time and I don't want to torture my cats.) I'm getting tired of buying new collars all the time! Rarely, but occasionally, we will find a collar in the yard or the woods. Once it's gone, it's usually gone forever. Parker has already lost her first one, it's probably buried under the falling leaves somewhere.

So I started looking for the hardware to make our own. Heck, making a collar is no big deal if you have the hardware! Plus, I can use the clasps for my crafts, too.

So I found the hardware by using Google and the whole set- nylon break-away clasp, nylon adjuster, ring and a big bell- comes to 66¢ each and that INCLUDES the shipping! Wonderful! And the service was really quick, too. This company,Creative Designworks, LLC is great to deal with. They also sell the narrow webbing if you choose to not sew your own straps. Since I'm trying to save money, I'll be making my own but I did order some webbing to use in my crafts, it's pretty reasonable and comes in a lot of colors.

So, if you have about 10 minutes, let's make a cat collar!

Cut a strip of fabric about 15" long and 1.5" wide. Fold it in half the long way with the wrong sides together, press. Open it up and iron both long edges into the middle. Press again and stitch down both long edges.

Put one end of the strap through the little adjuster and using your zipper foot, stitch it down to the center bar.

With the raw side of the just stitched edge facing up, feed the end through the male end of the clasp, coming up from underneath. (It has a curve to it, to hug the cat's neck.) Bring it back to the adjuster and go up the closest end of the adjuster, over the bar and back down through the other opening.

Feed the end through the metal ring and then through the opening on the clasp, going through it from the top to the bottom (pay attention to that curve in the clasp again.) Adjust for fit to your cat or compare it to a store-bought collar. Sew it in place like you did the other one, one or two rows, your choice. A dot or two of Fray Check is a good idea on your sewn edges. If you forgot to put the ring on, don't panic! The rings that came in my "kit" were split rings like you get on a keychain, so it can be added on later. And the bell can be added later, too, if you choose to use one. And you're done, wasn't that ridiculously fast and easy?

I put the bell on just for the photo and because it looked so pretty. The bells you get from the kit company are silver though, and a bit bigger.

Nosey Parker is having fun chewing on her new collar. Sorry about the muzzy photo, too, she was sooo active and fast.

Here she is in her Halloween collar, it's candy corn. Gosh, I could make her a new collar every day if I wanted to. I don't, but I could! lol

Let me know if you sew some collars, I want to see them!

Monday, October 26, 2009

The wonky quilt is starting to gel...

And about time, too, the next quilt along is getting to start- this time we're doing circles- pieced, appliqued, strings and somethingelseI'veforgotten. My friend Heidi (we call her "Hats") is running this one and I think she'll have her work cut out for her because it looks complicated and she's given us 4 options to choose from, what a brave woman she is! Please feel free to join us if you're in need of a project and lots of great companionship, just click on the quilt-along link over there >>>>> to the right, and up just a bit.^^^^^ :)

The wonky top is almost finished- the blocks are done and assembled but I need to add a border so the binding doesn't crowd in too much. Since I ordered more of the brown fabric and it didn't MATCH, grrr, I have to add something in between the two, which means cutting and piecing more strips together to make a skinny, colorful border and then a bigger, brown border after that. It'll be something like this-

Once that's done, I'll make the backing- I'll piece together some of this wild print-

and near the bottom I'll put a strip containing the name of the quilt- "Hooters!" The fabric the word strip is sitting on is actually my binding fabric. I found a website with tutorials on building these letters, no paper piecing involved, just some sewing and trimming and pressing! It was great fun and very quick.

Once the back is made, I'll sandwich them together with some cotton batting in the middle, pin and then quilt using the sewing machine. I have to say, I'm not looking forward to the quilting. I keep saying "no more big quilts" because I don't enjoy wrestling with it while quilting, but I can't hardly bear to force myself to make little wall-sized quilts. I need to be making placemat sized ones, but I can't seem to help it, I've always thought bigger was better and that more is more! I debated sending it off to be quilted but I don't want to! I mean, I do, but I don't.... seems like it wouldn't be MY quilt if I did that. So to force myself to do it, I bought a pretty variegated thread today by Superior, King Tut line- the color is Cleopatra and ought to look great on the brown and the brights. It has lime, red, orange, aqua and purple in it and it changes color every inch! I hope I like working with it, I've never used this brand before. I bought 2 spools of the 500 yard size as I seem to use a lot of thread when I quilt.

Here's a close up of some of the newer blocks, before they were sashed with chocolate brown.

I kept coming across new owls and just HAD to have them for the quilt- see the top right and bottom left? They are SO cute. Both were in Halloween fabric but they worked out fine.

So maybe one of these days I'll get this thing finished, but it sure has been colorful and fun to work on! Many thanks go out to QuiltDad- John, who was our teacher for this quilt. I couldn't have done this without you, man! Thanks a whole, big bunch!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Not for the faint of heart or mouse-a-phobes!

No, I don't know for sure what's causing the glowing eyes in the cat door, probably it's our dog Artemis, he's a peeker, but then it IS almost Halloween, so there's no real telling......

It was a busy, busy night at the Blossoms' house.......... Murphy, Beeswax and Sammie obviously were having a little too much fun, because you can see what we found when we opened the door to the garage. Not one, not two, but THREE little mouse corpses. Jim was surprised that there wasn't yellow crime scene tape and little numbered markers all over the steps. (Now, come on- that's funny, you know it is!)

The biggest shock isn't really the numbers, it's the fact that none of these little victims made it all the way through the cat door like they usually do. Sometimes they're dead and we find them on the rug (stop bringing me presents!) sometimes they're hiding under the washing machine and waiting to be captured by the ever-ready live trap and occasionally, you'll see one drinking water out of the dogs' bowl. (Brave? Stoopid? The jury's still out.)

This is what you get when you live out in the woods and have 4 mousers. I only know that Nosey Parker is innocent in all this because she was locked in the bedroom with us all night. She would LOVE to get in on this action, though, and has actually caught her first live mouse, in the house, where one of the big boys brought him in and released him. We call her "The Closer". rofl

Friday, October 23, 2009

When good pincushions go bad....

You know how you just KNOW that you had stuck that needle in the pincushion, but now it's nowhere to be seen? Well, that had happened to me just a few too many times and I got curious. My old tomato pincushion was on its last leg so I got a new one and decided to do a little surgery. I cut into the cushion and started to dump the filling out when much to my surprise, I saw lots of shiny glinting.

Now, this is almost scary in its ridiculousness!

It looks like a medieval weapon!

55 needles! Yes, I said 55!

So? Who's going to cut theirs up now? lol

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Good, The Bad and the Ugly....

I'll start with the good! We had a yard sale at work the other day and my friend who does alterations was selling off a bunch of buttons. I scored big time! Shank buttons are getting really hard to find and they're pricey, I got all these and equally as many that I'm not showing you for the equivalant of $8. We worked a trade. Holy MOLY! I got such a deal. And there are great colors in here- lime green, orange, bright blue, red, yellow, white and black.

That was all I bought- buttons. And I got rid of a ton of stuff, even Jim's Mom's old china. Yay. I have a lot of room in my attic again.

Now, here's the BAD.

Nosey Parker- up a cherry tree. Could she have picked a flimsier tree? I took this photo on Thursday or Friday, but she fell out of this tree on Saturday, from about 10 feet up.

Lucky for her, her Daddy was outside and caught her, she was about halfway to the ground and her back was in down position. Sheesh. She went out on a twig and it snapped and she was hanging by one paw and fell. I hope it scared her and that she learned something. I'm really glad that I wasn't here to witness this. And it's probably my own fault that she couldn't hang on- we trimmed her nails the day before because she was hurting me when she made bread on my neck during the night.

And the UGLY- my 18 month old iron went toes up this morning. It came on for a bit, but I noticed the light went out a few minutes later and nothing I did would revive it. So I thought I have nothing to lose and I took it apart. (Jim is out hunting or he'd have done it for me.) Not only do I not see a problem, I do see a lot of lint inside it, now- how the heck does that get in there, aren't these things supposed to be sealed?

I found the little plastic water tank to be quite interesting. lol I liked this iron- non-stick plate, one hour auto-off, blue light went on, retractable cord. It's a GE for WalMart, I think. I'll try to get another one, because I hate spending big bucks on an iron and this one has the features I like. Maybe the next one will last longer.

Look at all the LINT!

Jim will look at it and put the meter to it to see if he can fix it, but it's not an expensive iron so I imagine I'll get a new one tomorrow when we take Nosey Parker to the vet to be spayed.

Oh, my poor baby! I'm going to miss her tomorrow and I'll be all worried like any Mommy is when her baby has surgery. She and I have this little routine where we snuggle and cuddle for about 2 hours in bed every night so I'm really attached to her hot little body, even if she's killing my neck by cramming her head under my chin while she purrs and makes bread and thrashes around from one arm to the other. Funny, though- every time I wake up, it's her butt that's under my neck. lol

So there you have it- the good, bad and ugly.

Friday, October 16, 2009

How to do swoopy, or woodgrain, style machine quilting...

My friend Lynz prompted me to make a blog entry about how to do "swoopy" machine quilting. I was inspired to try this when I saw a small quilt done by a lady named Krommama, over at Flickr. I studied her quilt for a bit and then just went for it on my little zigzag quilt, the Blue Morpho.

It came out really nicely so I did it again on the Amethyst Matrix, a companion piece which resides right next to the first one, on the bed, under a cat or two. Since they would be side-by-side, I wanted the quilts to have a lot of things in common- the colors/fabrics, the quilting, and the size.

One major note- I did this style quilting on these quilts first- these measure about 40 x 48" and it was pretty easy to do the quilting. Then I did a bigger quilt and it was NOT so easy to do, because of all the turning involved. I spent more time and energy wadding the quilt up and shoving it thru the small throat of my machine until I was about ready to scream. That quilt was about 70 x 84" and it was actually easier to work on the middle of the quilt instead of the edges, which was a shock to me, I've always disliked doing the middle before. So take my word for it, please and save yourself some aggravation. The smaller the quilt, the better for this style of quilting.

So to begin, I drew it out roughly on some paper just to give me an idea of where to start, but I didn't draw anything on the actual quilt sandwich which was basted together with pins.

Use your walking foot if you have one, it makes things so much easier!

I stitched a few main lines on the quilt.A couple of them go all the way from the top to the bottom, others don't, but you need to put some in there to keep things together nicely and to give yourself something to work off of as you continue stitching, a guide if you will.

Then you start filling in the blank places. I start out stitching with my lines about an inch apart but it varies here and there. There's a lot of turning in this quilt, except for those long, straight lines. Having a "needle down" position is really helpful and makes it a lot easier. Stop and ponder it every now and then, make sure you're getting the effect you want and aren't stitching yourself into a corner. Take it out and lay it on the floor, squint at it and try to picture what you want and where you want it. It won't take you long to realize how fun this is!

You can do knot holes, wood grain, butterfly wings, etc. All kinds of lines work well and you can do all of them in one quilt.

I have this posted at Flickr, too, on my photostream. You might get more info there in amongst the other questions asked and answered. I recommend reading that post and checking out the note.

Have fun doing this, once you get a little confident, you can get really creative with it.

And here you can see where Lynz did it on her swappy Christmas quilt!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

I got my wonky log cabin blocks finished for the Hooter quilt today!

And I'm glad they're done, they were consuming all my time and the craft room is a wreck! I need to get busy on special orders and purse making. I have a few obligations to finish up and I am NOT good at working on several different things at one time, I seem to be able to cover every slightly flat surface with stuff and then I can't find anything. I love finishing things up so I can put all the bits and pieces away!

I think this is the final layout unless I spot a problem, I have to photograph it and then put all the blocks up or the cats will make a mess of them and if anyone tore them up, I'd be miffed.

This funny little guy is in one of my favorite blocks, it's simple and sweet, kind of like he is, I imagine.

And what the heck? There's a pussycat in the owl quilt! How did THAT get there? Nosey Parker must have done that when we were all asleep.

Yep. Busted!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

My contribution to the Blogger's Quilt Festival...

The Blogger's Quilt Festival is being hosted by Amy of Parkcitygirl- it's going to be great fun to see all the quilts on display, I'm just afraid that I'll find it TOO inspirational!

My latest finished quilt is the Amethyst Matrix, the 2nd one I did for Amy's quilt along, the zigzag quilt. I did a zigzag quilt first, the Morpho, and then I needed another one to finish covering the foot of our bed, where the cats all hang out. So I laid this one out differently and just love it.

The Nosey Parker seal of approval, even if it's in the rocker instead of on the foot of the bed.

This was the 4th quilt I have finished. I started in March with the Oh,Fransson quilt along, the Mod Sampler. Then I participated in the Old Red Barn Quilt Along and while my attempt at using too many different bright fat quarters didn't work out, it forced me to find an alternate use for all those strips and I came up with a coin stack quilt which taught me a lot. It's the Lemonade quilt, for several reasons you can read about if you'd like to. After that, Amy's zigzag quilt and now we're working on John's (QuiltDad) Wonky Log Cabin quilt. Soon, we're onto circles!

This quilting stuff is addictive!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Rude awakenings and cereal killers....

Mmmm- Twangy!

Last night was a doozie- we had storms all night and lost our satellite reception, so Jim headed off to bed early and I worked on my wonky quilt until I could barely keep my eyes open, I'd been up since 3 that morning. I headed to bed but the beasts were restless and wouldn't settle down. I ended up taking Paisley out in the pouring rain because when she has to go, she really has to go. She's so good though, rain doesn't stop her. Can't say that about the other 2 sissies- I think they held it for about 12 hours until their daddy went out in the rain with them. He took Paisley out again at 2:30 AM and while they were out, we had the biggest rumble of thunder I've ever heard- it went on and on and the whole house vibrated and shook, I thought we were having an earthquake! Poor P- she hates thunder and lightning and we have to leave a light on in the bathroom if it's dark outside so she won't see it as much. She didn't like being outside when that happened. I don't blame her. I was scared and I was in the bed!

Anyway, we finally were getting some good sleep (me with a pillow over my head to block out the light) when KA-RASH CRASH CRASH crashcrashcrashcrashcrash tinkletinkletinkle!!!! What the HE!! was that and even more importantly, where did it happen? Jim leapt up, the kitten disappeared under the bed, the dogs got riled and I ......... sat up. lol The clock says- 3 AM. Again. *snork* This is getting to be a habit.

Our hearts were pounding, we'd never heard anything like that before. Next thing I know, Jim's out on the front porch and I hear him sweet talking our orange and white cat, Beeswax. It's still raining out and the cat is out in it. Whatever happened scared him, too! He finally got him to come up the stairs and into the house, dried him off, came back to bed.

So? What happened, you ask? I'll show you.


It's a giant margarita fountain.


It's a big fat mess. 500 little green glass marbles and broken glass. Oh, did I mention? Our bed is about 3 feet that way <<<<<. Jim thinks Beez was trying to get our attention so one of us would open the front door for him. Well. He DID! Little jerk. I just can't have anything nice anymore! My fountain is toast. And I have 400 more little marbles to pick up. I need a nap.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

The Aspens Were Turning......

The aspen trees were SO pretty in Steamboat Springs and out at the lake. These photos were taken out at the lake in a huge grove of OLD aspens, some of them had carvings on them from the 50's. Once again, we had a great time with our friends Katie and Patrick and we thank them for letting us stay at their beautiful homes and hanging out with them, it was a lot of fun and we had so many laughs!

The view from this piece of property is breathtaking- you can see Steamboat Lake, Hahn's Peak, the village below it, even the dam at the far right end of the lake (not seen in this photo). The aspen grove is behind us now, we had to walk down thru it to get to this point, see Jim on the trail? Everything out there is HUGE. He looks so tiny. No wonder Patrick wanted us to see this! He's right, this is THE spot for a house at the lake. Of course, their house has views that rival this, it's about 100 acres to the left of this one.

It seems like ages ago since my last post, probably because it was! To those of you who emailed me, worried, I apologize. It just got crazy here before we headed off to Colorado- I had to teach a class on making a quilted duffle bag and that threw my whole schedule into a tizzy. Then I decided I needed a special purse for the trip and quick whipped up one my little strappy bags made out of that cool paint-by-number deer fabric that I found on Etsy.

I was able to get all the machine sewing done before we left and I finished the hand sewing part of it in the car, using my handy-dandy sewing organizer/caddy. I just love these little purses and I'm in the process of making a real pattern for it and soon I'll be teaching a class on them. I just need to perfect the purse first and come up with a zippered closure for the top of it, an alternative to the elastic closure that I prefer. I also have an order for purse slightly larger than this one, I need to get on that, too. Busy, busy.

Anyway, CO was beautiful. It snowed a few days after we got there but melted soon after and when the weather cleared up and got sunny, we went for a few hikes. This was taken at King Solomon's Creek. We wanted to hike to the falls but the way was too wet and treacherous so we headed to Nipple Peak, instead.

Katie, Jim, me and Shep, our friend Pam's dog, he's a good boy!

The Lodge Pole Pines have been decimated by a pine boring beetle and a lot of logging has been going on. Our friend Pam tried to beat me in a game of tic-tac-toe, but it was a tie game. :)

Pam is X's.

I am O's.

I had a lot of fun feeding and photographing my little friends, the chipmunks. I just love these guys, they are incredibly tiny! This one had had a small problem with its tail, part of it is missing, but isn't it cute? If I lived there, I have them all eating out of the palm of my hand, I just didn't have enough time to get them to trust me. They came close a few times but I think it was by accident- when they'd notice me their eyes would get real big, a little shriek would come out of them and they'd skedaddle into the grass or up a wall or something, it was so funny. When I was sitting quietly, they wouldn't come near me. When I was talking on my cell phone, they'd practically run right over me, go figure. I guess they wanted some air time, too. They do love their peanuts, I'll say that for them. And stale bread, too.

This one was my favorite!

I really missed my sewing machine while we were away. Fortunately, Katie and Patrick needed something made and it was a hand-sewing project. They had seen fleece blankets for sale for using while flying, since the airline blankies can be kind of gross and unwashed. We off we went to the only place in Steamboat that sells fabric (sob) - Wal Mart. We got fleece for both of them and then proceeded to do a blanket stitch all the way around them and fashioned some straps so they can be hung over the handle of a carryon bag and dragged thru the airport with ease, or slung over the shoulder and carried like a purse. Katie's is like the latter, Patrick's is the black one and he's still waiting for me to make him a matching pillow. I needed the machine for that!

This is their backyard at the house in town, that's the ski mountain but the slopes are off to the left.

And even more than my sewing machine, we missed Nosey Parker! She was at home with our pet sitter and all her brothers and sisters, just hanging out waiting for us.

I had a few photos of her in my phone- I would console myself by looking at them several times a day and saying "Where's the baby?" like we do all the time with her, it's a game we play. The little stinker took several days to warm back up to us after we got home, I was a little surprised about that. She's back to normal though, coming over to me in bed at 3 or 4 AM and wanting some cuddling and smooches, I just love when she does that! She's a busy girl and doesn't take too much time during the day for a cuddle, she's got things to do and places to explore. She's a good girl, though and she's still cracking us up on a regular basis!

More stories later, the house will awaken soon and I want to go sew a wonky block or 2 first. We're making a Wonky Log Cabin quilt and I have 7 blocks done, only a hoo-gob more to go (OK, maybe only 18 more, but it seems daunting to me!) It'll be 5 x 5, probably and the blocks are 15" square, so it'll finish out about 75" square. I may make it smaller, though, I'm not sure yet. I'm having fun with the Hooter Quilt. See the owls in the centers? :) Oh, the sashing is a dark brown, not black like you might think. Looks pretty sharp with the bright solids, I like it.