Friday, May 30, 2014

the need to create

Things have been quite stressful around here the last couple of weeks and last night I just felt the need to sit and sew.  I find the hum of the machine relaxing.  The mindless few minutes to myself where the only worry is running out of bobbin thread or which block to pick up next is my biggest trouble is nice.  I've been working on this leftover binding quilt for a few days and it's a nice distraction.  All of these strips are leftover binding pieces from quilts of the past.  I think this is the 4th quilt made from leftover bindings and I think I've finally used up the last of it.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

motivated to do more

 I got a message this morning from my friend who took quilts and dresses my friend made when she went to Rwanda last summer.

Recently Rwanda for justice had a restoration day. All of the girls who sought justice, compassion and healing were at the center for a ceremony. 
As part of the moving forward process they were each giving a new dress and a quilt . A new start. 
Each sewn lovingly by you and the binky group. You and your friends making a difference around the world. 

Sorry there are no pictures. They don't allow them near the victims .
 I rarely get pictures of the people who receive the quilts.  It's nice, but not necessary.  I can picture these girls who are rescued from slavery and prostitution and given a new life as they received their new dress and a quilt.  The dresses my friend made were for girls about age 10.  That makes me really sad, but really happy they have a new life now.
 Project Pearls is a group in the Philippines I found after the Typhoon last year.  I met the founder recently and was able to give her these quilts which she personally took and delivered to these mothers and babies.  You can see from the pictures the conditions these families live in.  Sometimes people ask me why I don't just donate locally.  I will always donate where there is a need.  I don't see how you could see these faces and say, 'sorry, you were born in the wrong country.'

 All of these mothers want what is best for their children, just like we do.

These pictures motivate me to work harder and get more done.  If you wonder sometimes if a little fabric and thread makes a difference, I can tell you that it does!

Monday, May 26, 2014

I'm never going to catch up

I've only quilted 14 quilts so far this month.  Too much other stuff going on around here so it's a good thing summer is coming.  My numbers should go up once school ends I hope.  I do have a trip to Colorado planned for some time this summer but my mom has a quilting machine so maybe I can sneak in some quilting while I'm there :)

another retirement quilt

 This one is for one of the Teaching Assistants at my school.  My friend sent me some of the photos from her Facebook page to add to the quilt.  Do you want a fast quilt?  These heart blocks are quick and easy to make.  I cut the quilt out Saturday morning and had it finished this afternoon.  I would say about 4 hours total time from cutting to binding including the quilting.
 I really need to be grading papers, but making quilts is so much more fun.  I also need to be finding places for all that fabric I brought home, but it's more fun to cut it up and sew with it instead.  Besides, if I put it away, I can't see it all at once.  Then, I will forget what I have.  It's much better to just have it all out on display, unless someone comes over
 Good thing it is so windy out today.  The wind held the quilt against the bush so I could take these pictures.  Who needs an extra hand?
I'm so ready for summer break!  9 days of school and then 3 days of teacher work days.  I hope I can make it!

Sunday, May 25, 2014

so blessed

 Made a trip out to Sacramento today to pick up an entire truck full of fabric from a lady whose friend passed away and left her with her collection.  She had pulled out what she loved and asked if we could use the rest to make quilts for kids in crisis.  Of course we can always use more fabric.  But, we will need help.  Looks like we will have several quilts days this summer and will be recruiting more volunteers.  I took these pictures after I unloaded more than half at Carla's house.  I forgot to take a picture after I loaded it or before I unloaded it.  I did take a picture of the boxes I unloaded, but my email isn't working right now.
Days like this remind me to use what I love because one day I will be gone and someone will have to take over my collection.  Nobody lives forever.  There's some gorgeous stuff here and I know we are going to have some fun using it up and make some gorgeous quilts.  Good thing summer is coming soon because I'm having trouble finding places in the house for all of this.  Also, good thing Carla came back and got some more out of the truck before I started unloading because I have all of the bolts of fabric and those things take up a lot of space.  She just got a new shelf unit and it can hold a lot of fabric.  I'll have to take a picture of it and try to find me something like it for my sewing room.  You can never have enough fabric storage you know!  Of course, if we could only sew faster, we wouldn't have this trouble.

Want to come over and help us sew?

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Western Railway Museum

 My older son got a job at the Western Railway Museum so the younger guy and I decided to head out there today and check it out.  I've never been out there before even though I've lived up in Northern California for 30 years.
 They have a couple of trains you can ride that go out and back.  Today they were doing some track work so the rides were short.
 It was fun riding on a train from 1911.  The seat back slid so you could face either direction.  The train didn't turn around.
Here's my son working the front counter and helping people as they came in.  Made me so proud.  His boss came over to say he was doing a great job and make sure I wasn't some creepy stalker taking pictures of her worker.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

did you know I'm a BAE?

 Today was the Teacher Appreciation Luncheon that the National Honor Society gave.  I'm the adviser for the club.  Each semester the kids have to give 8 hours of community service and I have a lot of procrastinators in the club.  I told them they could get hours by making desserts for the lunch.  Boy did we have desserts!  I think there were about 53 different ones.  We only have about 80 teachers at the school.
Almost all of them showed up.  Some don't know how to limit what they take and they really piled up on the food.  There wasn't any stuff left at the end for making sandwiches, but there sure was a lot of desserts left over.  I fed my 6th and 7th period classes and still had leftovers.
One of the kids in my class this morning made this sign for me.  It says Mrs. Lewis is a BAE.  I had to look it up on Urban Dictionary to make sure it was ok to post.  Kids these days speak a different language and often times I have to check to make sure I'm not repeating a bad word.

The funniest definition was this:
Word used by ghetto people to address their significant other because they have found themselves too lazy to pronounce the entire word "babe".
"Welcome home, bae"

"My bae Jamal done spent all his mommas money on these nails gurl"

Hey, I'm going to take it as a compliment and be a BAE

It also means Before Anyone Else, so that means I'm the best.  I'll take that too.  I like being the best. :)  And now I'm going to take a much needed nap.  Putting on a luncheon for over 100 people is a lot of work, especially when you have to teach all day too.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Quidditch anyone?

So Quidditch is a game college kids play where they run around with a PVC stick between their legs, like a broom stick and they have a ball at the bottom of a sock tucked in the back of their shorts, hanging down, like in flag football, and they try to knock a dodgeball out of each other's arms while grabbing the small ball in the sock from the one team member's shorts while taking the dodgeball all the way down the field and throwing it through the hoop at the end of the field.  All this time while not falling and stabbing themselves with the PVC pipe broom.

Or, so I understand the rules anyways.  I've watched a tiny bit of the game played when my daughter went to the World Cup a few weeks ago.  It is Co Ed and the boys don't take it easy on the girls.  They will knock them down and hit the ball out of their hands and the girls are just as rough.  My daughter has the bruises to prove it.  And she loves every minute of it.

She was a tennis player in high school, but has really found her sport here.  Hey, as long as she's having fun and making friends and getting exercise I say way to go!  Just wish I could watch her.  I bet it is hilarious!

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Today's Binky Patrol meeting

 My talk at the Block of the Month last Saturday really helped.  Look at all of the helpers I had today.  8 people came to help sew and another 5 came to help cut fabric.  How awesome is that?
 We had lots of projects to choose from.  There were rag squares already cut from the last quilt day and some hexagons and triangles.
 Some were pressing fabric and sorting cut pieces.
 Of course, the Accuquilt Studio was a big hit.  Everyone love to check out how it works.
 I love the juxtaposition of old machine vs. brand new machine and experienced quilter vs. brand new, never sewn a stitch, but going to make something because it looks so fun quilter.
 This is Jenny, my "adopted" daughter.  She was a freshman in my class my first year teaching high school.  She just got this sewing machine on Friday and now teaches math at my high school.  I tried to tell her math is stupid and she should teach science, but she would have none of that.  She was on my husband's tennis team and was his TA in high school and babysat my kids.  She practically lived in my house when growing up and throughout college.  She asked her mom to teach her to sew.  Her mom sewed all of her sister's costumes for dance and all of Jenny's dresses for her piano recitals.  She is an amazing seamstress.  She now is one of my Binky Buddies and can sew a quilt top in about 10 minutes, no joking.  She has an industrial sewing machine and it goes really, really fast!  Her mom told her no way.  You see, Jenny has the attention span of a flea. :)  She jumps from one hobby to the next in about 2 days.  Her mom thinks she will give up on sewing by next weekend so didn't want to take the time to sit down with her.  SO, I invited her to some sew with us today.  She was so proud of herself for sewing 4 strips together.  She makes me laugh!
 And this little cutie had the most fun with the Accuquilt Studio fabric cutter.  She is 4 and could roll that thing like nobody's business.  If you are considering getting one of these things, but are wondering if it is hard to use, take it from my new friend, it's a breeze.  She was so excited to see what she had cut!  And she kept us hopping, that's for sure.  We couldn't load it fast enough.  She kept telling us she was ready for the next one.  There were three of us loading dies and trying to keep up with her.  She will sleep well tonight!

problem solving

 I teach high school science and have kids ask me all the time, 'when are we going to need this stuff.'  Most of the time the answer is 'never'.  But, the skills we teach will be used forever.  The biggest skill we teach is problem solving.  For example.  When quilting this batik quilt, which is gorgeous, I had the most terrible time with skipped stitches.  For some reason, my machine hates batiks.  They are extra dense fabrics and are oh so pretty to look at but oh so icky to sew through.  If you do make  mistake, you will know about it forever, because unlike regular cotton fabric, batiks don't close up by themselves after you've ripped out stitches.  That hole you've poked in the material, it will remind you that you messed up.  You can manually work the fabric back together, but there's going to be a little pucker there forever just to say, hey dude, remember when you messed up and had to rip some stitches out?  Yeah, here is that spot!

Well, I slowed down the machine and sped up the machine and tightened the thread tension and loosened the tension, of course because I'm a science teacher only doing one thing at a time because if you change everything at once, you will never know what fixed the problem.  Finally at the end of the quilt, I loosened the tension on the quilt.  After trying 97 other things, loosening the tension on the quilt finally fixed the skipped stitches problem.  Giving the machine room to breathe was the solution it needed.  I usually run my quilt sandwich pretty tight to keep any wrinkles out, but giving it some much needed room to suck the fabric down into the bed of the machine allowed it to do it's thing and no more skipped stitches.  Luckily I didn't get any wrinkles either!
Then, on this quilt, half way through the quilt, I ran out of backing fabric.  Another problem to solve!  I just hand stitched a second piece to the other backing and when I pulled it off the machine, I ran a zig zag stitch over the seam line.  It won't win any awards at a quilt show, but it served its purpose.  I bet you can't see where I added the fabric, can you?  With this busy quilt top, neither can I!  That will teach me to measure and not just guess that I have enough.  Some days I get lazy and just hope that things will work out.  This month I'm way behind on my quilting goals.  Only 10 quilts and it's day 18.  I better get cranking if I want to catch up.  I've just been so busy with end of school stuff and have been doing really big quilts lately.  Putting a couple of these little guys on helps.  Good thing I have about 50 of these guys left for days like this.  I have a Binky Patrol meeting today and have lots of new volunteers who are planning on coming.  I hope we can get a lot done today.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

diagonal crochet baby afghan

I love, love this crochet pattern.

Here's a link to a how to:

It's easy to do and looks great with one color or can be made with leftover bits and made into a striped one.  This one is going to my friend who is adopting her grand daughter soon.

Teacher Appreciation

Do you see the humor in this?  I try to laugh in all things to keep from crying.

Yesterday one of the THREE vice principals at my school came in to give me my Teacher Appreciation Gifts from the district.  The district that voted to give him a $200 a month raise in his medical insurance the night before.  The district that says it has no money for anything.  Where did it get the money to buy a teacher appreciation gift?  What was the gift you ask?  A flashlight.  Not only a flashlight, but a flashlight in a plastic bag with a bunch of crinkly paper strings.  I'd like to know which secretary got paid a whole day's pay to sit and put all of these flashlights in these bags with paper and then tie them with a string with a little tag that said to 'let my light shine on the students' or something like that.

Now, here's the humor.

They couldn't afford to give everyone the raise, so they gave it to the people who earn the most money already because they want to attract the best people at the top of the pay scale.  The people who have the least interaction with the students and have the least impact on what goes on in the classroom.

So, they give us flashlights because when we can no longer afford to pay our electricity bills, we can still grade papers at night.

At least it was a practical gift.  I'm just not sure what I'm going to do with the plastic bag and crinkly paper strips.  Maybe join with all the other teachers who feel so appreciated and make a bonfire to keep warm.  Oh, wait, it is 100 degrees and I really don't need to keep warm.

I love my job.  I really do.  I just don't like some of the people I work with.  They really don'[t think some times.  I would rather not have gotten anything.  They could have given me the $1 it cost for the flashlight and a personal hand shake and I would have felt more appreciated.  Now I feel like they are wasting my money.

I did get one teacher appreciation gift from one student this year.  He came up to me at the end of the period, looking down at his feet and shoved something in my hand.  It was a little packet of M&M's.  It said I was Marvelous and Magnificent.  Now, that made me feel really good. :)  He said his mom made him do it.  Too cute!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

think big

  A couple of really big quilts here.  The first one is made with the 9 1/2 inch tumbler block from the 'Accuquilt Studio fabric cutter.  Talk about a fast quilt!
This one is 8 1/2 inch blocks and 4 1/2 inch blocks.  This is a great quilt for a guy.

Monday, May 12, 2014

another leftover binding quilt

With the amount of quilts we produce around here, we do have a lot of leftover binding scraps.  This is another one of the binding quilts we made at the last quilt day.  I think there are two more out there that will be coming back to be quilted soon.  Little bits of leftovers added together add up.  I love the look of a scrap quilt and remembering the quilts these came from.  I also love that we just can't seem to throw anything away.  Every little bit gets used up.  That does cause a problem because I can't throw anything away and so my living room, family room, kitchen, dining room, garage and shed are full of fabric.  From small pieces to yardage, everything is waiting for its turn to be made into a quilt.  Sunday I talked to about 45 women and asked for their help in getting this waiting fabric made into more quilts that can be passed out to more kids.  I am hoping this Sunday some will show up and help me cut more quilt kits and take those home to sew.  Of course, that means this summer I will be busy quilting.  With about 100 days off in the summer, if I can average 5 quilts a day, I can really get my numbers up.  I just hope Rebecca the robotic machine can keep up.  She likes to give me fits sometimes.  The other day she decided to speed up her stitches for no apparent reason.  All of a sudden she just started stitching really, really fast!  I cleaned the tracks and checked for a stuck thread somewhere.  I checked the program to see if a number was off somewhere and after a few rows of having a fit, she gave up and went back to normal.  I have no idea why she did that, but she just wanted to make sure I knew she was still there and that I gave her some extra attention.  I think she doesn't want me to forget that she's working hard for me and that I make sure to pay attention to her.  You see, I just need to push a couple buttons and then I can walk away to the other room.  I have to come back at the end of each row and move her to the beginning of the next row.  I don't think she likes to be ignored like that.  She likes it when I stay in the room with her and cut fabric or organize things.  But, I do have dishes to wash and laundry to do some days.  It's not all about quilting around here.  I still have kids that need to be fed and a house that needs a little attention sometimes.  Entropy exists unfortunately and it's winning the battle.  I'm not fighting very hard.

18 days of school left and then I get more time to play.  If you are in the Vacaville, Ca area on Sunday, stop by A Quilted Heart and join us for some quilting fun.  I'd love to meet you.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

He's 10

 We had a great day yesterday at 6 Flags in Vallejo for my son's 10th birthday.  This is the little guy who only wants to stay inside and watch YouTube and play video games.  About 2 weeks ago I asked him what he wanted to do for his Birthday and we finally agreed to go to the amusement park.  He had never been and had never even shown a desire to ride a roller coaster.
 So the first one we went on was Medusa.  Sounded like a good idea at the time.
 He got really nervous the closer we got.  The lines weren't long for anything.  The most we waited was 15 minutes.  My older son waited almost an hour for Superman, but then he and his girlfriend are crazy.  (His girlfriend likes roller coasters.  The rest of us, not so much!)  My son put his head down at the beginning of the ride and then couldn't pick it up.  He said the ride hurt his neck!  Really?  I wonder why?  This one goes up side down about 7 times and twists you around and your feet hang out.  For your very first roller coaster, it's a big one.  When you get off, they have a picture of you.  The picture of us was me and my son's girl friend are laughing.  My little guy you can't even see because he is bent over in his seat and my older son looks like he's going to cry :)  He's so scared.  He doesn't like coasters at all, but goes because his girl friend loves them.  That's true love!
 So, we decide to go for a more mild roller coaster, the cobra.  That one doesn't go up side down.  My son loves that one!  He even holds one hand in the air for about 2 seconds. :)  He's getting the hang of this amusement park thing now.
 Bumper cars are next and we decide to do boys vs. girls to see who the better drivers are.
 Of course, girls win.  My son just drove around in a circle and had a great time getting crashed into.
 $12 chicken nuggets for lunch.  In my next life I'm going to open a chicken and burger shack in an amusement park.  $60 for lunch that was barely edible.  The burgers were cold and greasy, but the pigeons loved them.  I got a bottled Coke for $4.50.  You can buy the same thing for $.50 at the grocery store.  They won't let you bring food in the park and the parking lot is 5 miles away.
 This was my son's favorite ride.  We went on it 4 times.  He went on it once with each of us and once by himself.  He is really shy at first and then once he gets comfortable starts to open up and get crazy.  I love this guy.
 We all had UCLA stuff on and we didn't even plan it. Too funny.
 Here he is with dad.  He used to be able to handle all the rides, but with age comes wisdom or a weak stomach.  He was dizzy after this one!
 We let the kids do this one.  After seeing how wet everyone got after coming off, there was no way I was going to walk around with squishy shoes for 4 more hours.
I remember as a kid just knowing I could make it to the top of the rope ladder and making it about half way.  He made it about 2 more seconds before the guy let go at the bottom and he flipped over.  He still got a green stuffed shark for trying and the $5 it cost to try.  I'm sure the shark cost $.50 to make, but he loves it so it was worth it. :)

What a great day we had.  Not too many people, not too much waiting in lines.
I can barely walk today and my nose is sunburned, but I'd do it again next year!