Friday, December 2, 2011

I Love December

 YAY!!!  I love December!!!  I love all the Christmas lights, the Manger scenes, the Santa's, the cooler weather, the feeling that I get when I'm working on a gift for someone special...  I LOVE IT!!!
Today we had frost on the grass when I woke up.  It was beautiful and made me excited for the snow that will surely come soon...  Then I'll really have a pretty picture to post!!

Our lights are up outside, thanks to Case ;-)  He does all that honey-do stuff without too much fuss.  Am I lucky or what????  And now on to the decorating inside...  by myself ;-(
Casey will help me get the lights on the trees but from then on, it's all on me.  I miss having our girls and their families with us to do this.  Nothing would make me happier than to see all of the trees decorated right at the grandkids eye level if you get my drift ;-)  When our girls were little, our trees only had decorations at the 3-4 foot high level for years on end-- only as high as they could reach and it was ADORABLE!!

I joined a Seasonal Swap with my on-line rug hooking group and this is the mat I made for my "Winter" partner.  It's 8" square and I hooked it in a size 8.5.  The background is supposed to be a whiteout with snowflakes falling.  The snowflakes are wound strips of white wool that I sewed in from the back of the canvas to secure them.  They don't scream at you but you know they're there ;-) 
This was a fun project.  It went quick and I'm thinking I'd like to do one for me too so this will be my January quickie. 
The next swap is a Spring theme and I'm thinking of doing a _ _ _ _ _ _ _.  I can't tell because I don't want to give it away in case my new swap partner is reading this ;-0!!!
As for this little mat, I decided this would be a great "Beginner" class project.  Since I plan to start teaching again after the first of the year, this little bird is going to come in handy ;-)

So, ok...  on to my other projects--  Here is the progress on my ATHA rug.  I did the house a while back.  I did the windows first and now I don't like them.  I'll assess it again when it's all done and see if I need to take them out and re-do or not.  I really don't like "un-hooking"!!
As I was hooking this house I decided to leave a light on upstairs.  This house reminds me of a house we lived in a while back and our bedroom was upstairs but on the opposite side.  Since I had already made the upper left window black before I decided this represented our old house, the right window light is the one that's on instead now.  Shhh...  Only you and I will know that little secret.  *wink

In this picture the windows show up pretty good actually, but when I look at it without a flash on it, they don't.  Email me your opinion or leave a message for me on here.  I'll take another consensus.   You know how I love those feedback comments!!  Really, I do.  I listen and I learn ;-)))
BTW, I still need to name this one so keep those ideas coming ;-)

I've been busy in between the hooking and the punching, doing a little "Modern" quilting.  Here are some of the fabrics that I'm working with...  Oh, and don't worry, they won't be side by side like this.  I haven't arranged them all how I want them yet.  I've only cut pieces out of the fabrics I want to use.  I haven't cut the solids out yet either.  Looks like Sunday will be the day to start working on this project.  I have a lot to work with so I think my projects are going to be FUN!!!  And the pattern I've designed is E A S Y ! ! !  I hope the girls like their presents ;-)

And last, but not least, I also made "retreat" ironing boards for a couple of close friends that I like to get together and sew with.  The boards are 2' X 2' and a fat quarter fits on them perfectly, so they aren't too big or too small.  I have a couple of 4' X 2' boards that I use here at home and they really are fabulous to work on.  You can also pin into them for applique` blocks or to actually block things with steam such as punch needle projects and finally, it's so incredible to block rugs with!!!)  I don't know what I do without them-- finishing my work would be WAY harder, I know that ;-(

So, I'd love to hear all about what presents y'all are making.  I am constantly amazed at how creative people are and I am inspired by so many of you ;-)

Christmas Blessings,
Debra <3

Thursday, November 17, 2011

In Progress...

I have the whole top half of this rug completed now-- YAY!!!!

I have not been able to work on this everyday like I thought I would.  I had told myself, "a motif and 1/2 hour of background per day.  I'd like to move on to the #7 and the tree on the left side next but as it turns out, I'm only able to get to this every few days so it's going to be more hit and miss, at least until after Christmas.  I have to say that initially, I wasn't thrilled with the background colors but they have really grown on me and now I'm loving the different colors ;-)
I already am a "texture" person but don't usually do grey too much and rarely that color of green.  The other really different thing about this rug is the style of hooking.  The whole top half is hooked in straight vertical lines with the exception of a few places on the numbers and the tree branches but even some of each number is hooked in the straight vertical fashion.  All of the bottom half background will go horizontal.  Some of the motifs will be vertical (numbers), but the tree and the house will be horizontal too.  I need to pull the two vertical rows of hooking that I've done so far on the house out so I can hook it horizontal instead.  I know I won't like it vertical.  So far, this is coming together nicely for me ;-)

What is taking me away from finishing that darn rug is, I'm busy working on Christmas pretties for my girls ;-)  These aren't the "big" gifts so hopefully they're doable in the time I have left.  I know I'm starting late but I do pretty well under pressure-- hahaha!  Who am I kidding?!

Here are my blocks so far-- they won't be set this way and they don't all go together but this gives you an idea of what I'm working with-- really simple stuff  ;-)
Some of the blocks I can already see aren't working good together so there's some re-do's in there but that's ok.  I did one all the way through already though so I know about any changes that I need to make on the others.  Also, it gave me an idea about how much time it will take to complete them and it turns out I can do all three in an afternoon so it's all good ;-)   I LOVE FAST AND EASY!!!

This past Sunday I went to my Rug Guild meeting, The Colonial Rug Hookers of Northern Virginia.  One of my friends in the guild purchased one of my canvases (Friendship's Offering) at a recent meeting and she's completed it already except for the binding and some additional embellishments she is adding.  She's adding fuzzy yarn on the wings and will be adding bugle beads to the heart and flowers-- I LOVE how she's doing it!!!  Boo, thank you for such a beautiful interpretation!!!

Woo Hoo!!!
It's past my bedtime...

Debra <3

Monday, November 14, 2011

Checking In--

 Fall is going quickly and soon ALL of the leaves on our little baby tree will be gone.  I love the colors on it ;-)  This is our first full year with our little baby and so I'm going to keep taking pictures as she "grows".
All of those straggly branches are from growth just this spring and summer!!

This week I am catching up on UFO's --  on my plate currently is a punch needle project that is a miniature of my "Bless Our Home" rug.  While I started out doing rugs that were like my Quilt and Punch Needle designs, I decided that I am also going to do Punch Needle patterns from my Hooked Rug designs.  I think some of my Rug patterns would also make nice quilt designs.  I like that "full spectrum" concept ;-)

I just have the edge details to go-- YAY!!  What do you think so far?  I am going to LOVE this one!!!

I have a couple more in the staging area for Punch Needle-- they are going to be fabulous-o!!  In my head they look AWESOME!!!  One of them I'm dying to do in Wool ;-)

Here is the next update on my class rug project from ATHA-- I haven't gotten much done since the last photo ("Found Treasure" blog post), maybe about 8 sq. in., but it is coming along.  I got stalled on a background wool, i.e., I ran out!!
So I've been on a quest for more that is similar and I may have found it so hopefully not too much longer on this one.  I really need to get this one out of my way ;-))

Christmas is coming...
That means I also need to finish framing three cross-stitch panels that I did for each of my daughters a couple of years ago.  They should have had these Christmas before LAST!!!  I am SOOOOOOOOO slow sometimes...  In my defense (do I REALLY have one???!!!), I am easily distracted and sometimes a bit of a perfectionist (there, I said it, but don't tell anybody...)
If I don't feel like a project is as good as it should be, I keep going at it, re-doing it sometimes, until I feel it's just right for me ;-)  I think they are now and can finally give them to the girls this year.

These are very personal cross-stitcheries-- each one has special characters that are unique to each daughter.  I truly enjoyed working on these, fondly remembering times shared, special moments, and so much love as I worked on them.  I hope they "get it"-- that it truly is a piece of my heart for each one of them...


Lauren's--  hers is still on the stretcher bars-- I need to stitch one more motif on hers...  it was something she said and I didn't write it down but it was perfect so my little pea-brain really needs to get to work remembering what the precious morsel was ;-)



Debra <3

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Hope Valley

After my quilt retreat last week I decided to finally tackle this quilt that has been on my "really big" living room floor since June!!! Where does the time go?  Thankfully, we haven't been home much these past few months and rarely go into that room so it hasn't been an issue.
So, this week I sewed the long strips together, and then last night and this morning, I finally put the borders on.  It now measures 96" X 99" and this quilt top is D-O-N-E   DONE!!!

I actually started the quilt last fall in a Denyse Schmidt workshop that I took in San Antonio with my youngest daughter, Jordan.  I used some of Denyse's fabrics in my blocks and she signed the "Hope Valley" strip.  It looks great here but it's upside down on the quilt.  The block just looked better that way.  You know how that goes ;-)

Now I need to hit up one of my long-armer friends so I can get it pinned on their machine.  I've decided to hand quilt this one with a long stitch.  In my head it looks great!!  We'll have to see how it goes in reality ;-)

This makes two BIG quilts on my plate-- thankfully no deadline on this one ;-)

And now my living room is back to normal...  until Christmas!!!!

I'd better start being "good"...  hehehe

Debra <3

Little Cabin In the Woods...

This little cabin in the woods was my "home" this past weekend with two other girlfriends.  It was SO perfect!!!  Not too far away, clean, secluded, cozy, accessible to local quilt shops (45 min.), and restaurants ;-)
The three of us were like little bees-- BUSY!!!  I loved it!!  We were so focused.  Well, ok, they were.  They got a ton of sewing done.  I managed to finish ONE block.  Oy.  Oh wait, I finished two blocks ;-)  There, I'm not a total loser!

We got there on Thursday morning-- an early start ;-)
The cabin was so inviting and we immediately got the cars unloaded and our sewing tables all set up and ready to go.  Diane and Debbie are SO organized!!

These first photos are from Debbie's project.  She was making a queen size quilt (one completed block and a book photo below) for her father-in-law for his Christmas present but has now been moved to his birthday present.  Since his birthday is December 26, it's a day that went uncelebrated for years when he was younger so to help make up for lost time, Debbie is hard at work on this perfect and precious gift.
This photo shows her "re-cut" pieces ;-o!!  And if I could make that "O" bigger, I would!!
I say "re-cut" because the day before, she had all over 1000 pieces cut and laid out to be packed up for the retreat.  She and Gary have no children at home but they do have two BIG dogs, one of whom has a naughty streak...  In her defense, she is a rescue dog who was VERY abused and now has some "issues" of which Gary and Debbie are very sympathetic to.  They are GREAT doggie parents ;-)

Anywho, the dog-sitter left the door to that "off limits to the dogs" room open by accident and when Debbie got home from work, the pieces were all chewed up and messed on...  YES-- MESSED ON!!!
She had to throw EVERYTHING AWAY AND START OVER!!!  ;-((  BAD BAD DOG!!! ;-)
It took about 8 hours to cut it all out AGAIN--  aaaaarrrrrgggggggghhhhhhhh!!!!
Diane and I helped her out a little bit and by midnight, she was sewing ;-)

Debbie is extremely precise in everything she has her hand in and her quilts always turn out SO perfect and beautiful!!  She has a high-stress job and I greatly admire her anyway aside from quilting but even more so after realizing what a gimoungous sense of humor she had ;-)))  If it were me, that dog would not be breathing...  ok-- just kidding, but he would be in BIG trouble I tell you!!!

Diane, who also is extremely organized and equally precise, had all of her projects cut out and ready to go in zip-lock bags.  Each bag had it's own project in it.  I can aspire to that ;-)

She had her individual blocks completed and was using the retreat to sew them all together into wall hangings.  She started her own CPA firm this past year and was mainly working on seasonal wall hangings for her new office.
Her first project was a block swap that she did with 12 quilters that participated from the quilt guild we are all members of-- Hayfield Country Quilters.  She had a Sandy Gervais panel (I am a huge "Sandy" fan!!) and all of her swap blocks were made from fabrics from the same famiy-- it turned out ADORABLE!!!

She went on to complete a couple of other really cute wall hangings made from panels (one of them by Sandy Gervais), both of which she purchased for .99 on eBay!!!  Now, that's a shopper for you!!  hahaha!!!  She's really busy all the time with work so the visual I have of her bidding on eBay for quilting stuff in her few free minutes, just cracks me up!!!  She's a great quilter and apparently one frugal CPA!!!

She also added a border to a wall hanging that she had sewn together a while back.  I really loved this one!!!

As for me, I started out by finishing Debbie's swap block.  I have only had it for the last 1.5 years hidden on my design wall by layers of other things...  ;-0!!!  All this time, I thought I had completed her block and was home free...  I am such a slug!!
Her swap blocks were all blue and yellow Cival War prints.  Mine was the only block she didn't have...

My one other accomplishment was block #3 of a large 9-patch quilt I started a really long time ago.
It has a center block (the wreath block with the center star), the corners are all one block (the pomegranate and stars block), and finally the N S E and W (North, South, East, and West) heart blocks are done!!!  YAY!!!  Actually, there is really only one corner block and one NSEW block completed but it has taken me this long to finish designing the blocks so they all work well together.  I didn't have fabric with me to do the birds but you get the idea, right?  ;-)
My work is laid out for me finishing this quilt now-- 3 more pomegranate blocks to do and 3 more heart blocks to do, then borders to figure out.  It's always something, right?  ;-))
BTW, each of these blocks measures 27" square.  This is going to be another big quilt for me.
I haven't done a really big quilt in a long time so I'm excited about this one ;-)))

One more thing about these blocks-- Diane graciously "donated" the fabric for the Pomegranate blocks.  I ran out of fabric to make all the blocks the same, so now the Wreath has one fabric, the Pomegranate's have another fabric, and the Heart blocks have another.  I love "scrappy" anyway so this was golden!!!  The borders will have all three fabrics in them so it will pull together beautifully ;-)

While at the retreat we did take a road trip and have a couple of nights out for dinner.  This red tree was in a gully on the side of the road at a traffic light we were stopped at.  The beautiful red leaves against the rough, gnarly branches with the gold field in the distance stood out to me.  Those leaves were almost electric they were so bright!

We were on our way to the quilt shops ;-)  One in Madison and the other in Charlottesville. 
I had more fun than I'm allowed in each...  that's just between us though--  shhhhhh... *wink

These two antique quilts were on the walls of the Madison shop.  I wish I had taken a photo of the shop itself.  It was in an old church on the main street of the old part of town.  How cool was that?! ;-)

The shop in Charlottesville had this beautiful basket quilt in the window.  I LOVE basket quilts!!!
I couldn't get a photo without the glare from the glass so I apologize for the poor quality of this photo but it truly was "sweetness".

I have been wanting to do a basket quilt so maybe this is a sign that it's time ;-)

Debra <3

Friday, November 11, 2011


My father, R.C., was in the Air Force.
My Uncle Lupe, Uncle Randy, and Uncle Abel, were all in the Army.
My Uncle Gilbert was in the Marines.
My Uncle Rudy was in the Navy.
My cousin Eddie was in the Air Force.
My husband, Casey, was in the Air Force.
My father-in-law Paul,was in the Air Force.
My sister-in-law Paula, was in the Air Force.
My brother-in-law David was in the Army.
My other brother-in-law David, was in the Air Force.
My son-in-law Juan, is currently in the Army.

I guess you could say I come from a military family ;-)  and I have ALWAYS been proud of their service.

On Veteran's Day, I thank them all for their service with the utmost respect.

Debra <3

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Happy Face

Ok.  I can't wipe the grin off of my face...  ;-)))

I received an email tonight from Judy Long who is the editor for the ATHA (Association of Traditional Rughooking Artists) magazine.  She was writing to ask my permission to use one of my rugs in an ad for ATHA in another publication, Early American Life.

My "Bless Our Home" was the rug selected and it will be the background for the ad in the magazine ;-)  I am SO honored and excited that my rug was one of three chosen to represent ATHA!!!
It looks like it may run in the February issue of the magazine.  As you can see, the actual rug is distorted a little bit to fit the 1/3 page ad space but it still shows up pretty well!!!!  I am going to have to make sure I get a few copies of that magazine!!!  

I said "YES"!!!!  Can you tell?  ;-)
Woo Hoo!!!
Debra <3

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Found Treasure!!

Color me HAPPY!!  Why?  Because today while putting my toys away (i.e. stuffing!!), I found some long, lost treasure ;-)  -- a cigar box that contained several hooks-- one that I have been heartsick for misplacing and had searched EVERYWHERE for it before I went to ATHA.  It was my first "fun" hook that I bought.  It is a straight pencil type hook that is stained blue in a sort of "barber shop" design.  You can see it a little bit underneath the other hooks in the middle of the photo.  I looked for one like it at ATHA but I didn't see any at the vendor booths.  
They had hooks-- just not that hook ;-)

The box also contained some tools that I have since replaced-- bent needles for rug binding, clips for holding my binding in place, a couple pairs of bent scissors, and a set of the "expensive" punch needles-- just SO SO happy to have it ALL back!!!  Thank you St. Anthony!!

I apparently "stuffed" it in a LB Corn Basket that I have behind the sofa in our family room.  It has a lid on it and Casey keeps his magazines on top of it.  I had totally forgotten that I had ever put anything inside the basket!!  I usually don't put anything IN the baskets with lids because I know I will forget and never see the items again unless...  like today, I was looking for a place to stuff baggies of "wool worms" that I didn't want to lose track of when the basket all of a sudden seemed like the ideal place.  The irony.
Anywho, I put the magazines aside, lifted the lid, and OO LA LA!!!  

Along with THE cigar box, there were also two baggies of English paper piecing 60° diamonds with lots of diamonds finished and ready to sew together.  Oh YAY!!!  I love piecing these little things and I carry around a baggie of scraps and templates with me all the time so when I have down time at Dr. appts., airplanes, riding in the car, etc., I can pull these out and whip them up pretty quick.  I have a ton of scraps and this is a great use for them.  There are probably about 100 of them here ;-)

But the very best part of finding things in that basket is the fact that there were also 5 punch needle projects that I finished punching while visiting our oldest daughter Ashley, who lives in Basel, Switzerland, over a year ago!!!  I have desperately been looking for one of these punch needle designs for months!!!  I knew I'd finished it.  I just didn't know what I did with it ;-0   
It's a Halloween witch that I named "Broomhilda" and it's a pretty large piece for punch needle, maybe 5" X 7" or so.  
I didn't remember bringing her home and thought I had lost her forever.  In fact, I thought it was "permanently borrowed" from my suitcase (because my bag had been inspected)...   I am relieved to know I was WRONG this time ;-)

I usually work from a sketch except this time I drew the design directly onto the fabric and started punching it.  I never even took a picture of it.  That was dumb.  A lesson I have since learned ;-/
I wish I had found this punch needle piece this last summer when I was trying to remember what she looked like so I could "recreate" her for Halloween.  I missed her really bad...

This is just her face ;-)  She's smiling and I am too!!  I can't tell you how happy I am to have found her. 

The other large punch needle pattern that I found is from my "Little Book of Treasures" and this is a little booklet that I did of 8 sketches and then an extra one on the cover, making it 9 designs.

There aren't any borders or anything on the designs-- they really are just small sketches that you can use in the size they are or enlarge them for a rug mat or larger wall rug, then add your own borders and/or finishing details.  It's a cute little booklet and I plan to do more so this is just Volume 1.  
The other three punch needle pieces are from a future "Little Book of Buttons, Volume 2" booklet that I haven't completed yet ;-)  You can see "The Little Book of Buttons Volume 1" on the Handmaiden Designs web site on the Punch Needle page.

I will get the new photos up on the web site hopefully by the end of next week.  My web gurus are a couple of college friends and my work takes a back seat to their studies ;-)  
They do a GREAT job though, so I'm ok with it.  Matt and Steven are GREAT!!

Also, this will be my last blog post for a few days.  I am going on a "mini" quilt retreat this weekend with a couple of girlfriends.  We are going to a cabin in VA at a lake and I understand it's a little bit remote so it should be fun and hopefully we will all get a lot done!!  I need that kind of time-- no phone, no interruptions, just "girl-time" -- you get the idea ;-)

I'm taking one project for each-- quilting, hooking, and punching.
This is the hooking project.  It's the class project from my Jayne Hester ATHA classs.  This is what I have done so far.  Not a lot but I hope to finish it before I start another one.  I decided I will do one motif a day and then 1/2 hour of background hooking a day till it's done.  
BTW, I'm a  s l o w  hooker...

It's not my design but would still like to name it when I finish it.  Any suggestions?  I love it when I get a consensus for names ;-)

I will post a picture of both my quilt project and my punch needle project when I get back-- it will be something for you to look forward to ;-)))

Until next time-- Blessings,
Debra <3

Friday, October 28, 2011

Warm Welcome

A funny thing happened to me yesterday while I was at Sam's getting new tires put on my car.
I was walking around the store looking for what I couldn't live without-- usually books or food.  (Don't judge me.)  ;-) 
So I went directly to the book section first.  I didn't see anything on my "have to read it now" list, turned around and found magazines on a portable shelf, like an end-cap.  
I noticed there were two quilt magazines so I picked one up and it was in plastic.  I liked the cover so I put that one in my basket.  I went for the other one, noticing it was the Better Homes and Garden Quilt Sampler "Shop Hop" Issue.  
I always look at magazines from back to front-- don't ask, I just do ;-)
I was having a hard time finding out the shops featured so then I went to the "Table of Contents" page.  I noticed a shop with a familiar name, Prairie Stitches.
When I went to their page, there "IT"was ;-0!!  My quilt pattern "Warm Welcome" was front and center on the main page!!!  I had no idea this was coming out so maybe you can understand my squealing in the middle of the Sam's book aisle ;-)))))  
Needless to say, that magazine ended up in my basket too and I never even made it to the food section.

If you would like to comment on the pattern or purchase the pattern, please contact Prairie Stitches.  I know I can sell you the pattern from my site but I prefer to support the shop on this one.  

I have had lots of my shops featured in BHG Quilt Sampler previous issues but this is the first time once of my patterns has made the shop photo pages.  I am truly grateful they included my pattern on their main page!!!!  Is that AWESOME or what?????

I'm still on cloud nine!!!  I love everybody!!!
Debra <3

1500 Hookers (part 2)

This is a gateway that had the most beautiful flowers peeking out from behind it.  It was across the street from Diana Kerns home in Baltimore. 
I met Diana at a rug guild meeting and she graciously invited me to stay in her home on my way to the ATHA meeting in Lancaster last week.
Another rug hooker was also staying with Diana that night-- Phyllis Lindblade from Michigan.
Both are on my "Yahooker" group on-line but I had never met Phyllis before.  We had so much fun that night playing Mah Jongg into the almost wee hours ;-)
Diana doesn't actually live in the house across the street from these beautiful flowers anymore but she still owns the home.

Here are the other photos from the rug show. 
This particular batch of photos was from a group of rugs that are replicas of some antique rugs by Magdalena Briner Eby.  I loved the simple designs of these rugs with the "hit-and-miss" backgrounds that added so much texture to them yet they really were subtle in their "loudness"-- they almost blend in, leaving the animals still as the focal point.   Here is the placard that accompanied these rugs.

And then, the rugs...

That's it for the rug show!!  I hope you enjoyed it-- it's the next best thing to being there and seeing it first-hand.  I wish I had thought to take pictures of ALL the rugs-- there were others that I am remembering that were stunning...

Oh well...
Debra <3