Sunday, July 31, 2011

All Work & No Play--

First off, a special notice. When we ran Roll Roll Cotton Boll last November, I said I would keep it available until June 1st. It's now almost August, and I've still left it there. However, it's time for it to come down, so if you need to make copies, do it now! It's coming down tomorrow, August 1st, and will be unvailable until it is featured in my next book due out in 2012. Print it now, folks!


I’ve been working pretty steady on some projects that have big deadlines coming up. And I’m making GOOD progress.

See this picture above? This is over 800 half square triangles, cut, sewn, pressed, de-dog-earred! I would have sworn they would have taken up more space than this, looked a bit more significant effort wise…..but no, here they unobtrusively sit in a shoe box.

Do you recognize any of these older blue fabrics? I was being ruthless as usual, just going for color, not worrying about the age of the fabric or the print that is on it, there is even a blue fabric with green Christmas trees on it in here, but it's blue...so in it goes!

And so my brain went numb from sewing pressing trimming, to sewing these together, and when I went to press again….I had sewn 80 of them together pointing the WRONG direction! OY!

Never fear, a chick flick movie ((Usually set in the 1800s, with lots of British accents and fabulous costumes…..places where they actually break for TEA and have SCONES in the middle of the afternoon!)) became my oasis as I put my feet up and started unpicking seams.

My #1 rule?! NO WHINING!! My #2 rule?! My stitch length MUST be large enough to allow the tip of my seam ripper to fit easily under the stitches! And keep a good SHARP seam ripper. Those things wear out and go dead too. If you are having to fight with the blade inside the curved edge of the ripper, chances are it’s time for a new one.

In no time, the triangles were once again individual units, and I could commence to sewing them pointing the RIGHT direction.

But I was tired of triangles. I wanted something a bit more to shake things up. I needed more than TWO COLOR MONOTONY!

All work and No play makes Bonnie a grumpy quilter! It was Play time!

And this is when I KNEW I had gone over the edge…

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Remember I said I had even thrown stuff AWAY!??

Aw SHUCKS!!!

I remembered THIS POST from July 2007. That’s 4 years ago folks! ((Oh Yes, we’ve passed our anniversary of 6 years of blogging this June! Whooot!)) and THIS quilt that used to be the header pic for my blog:

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Oh I love this quilt!! See those fun rows of coins?! And look at the sashing and cornerstones..I LOVE that chrome yellow! And I also love how all the cornerstones are green, except for the last row on the left. Okay, and one more odd one on the bottom right. FUN!

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And these fabrics are all late 1800s to early 1900s, and I love them…..but I didn’t want to use specific fabrics for my blocks. I just wanted to see what I could get out of….ummm…yeah. That trash can! Tonya always said I did take the trash can approach to quilting, and I guess I am proving her right!

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I’ve got 5 blocks in wild funky scraps that came back OUT of that trash can! ((Is there a name for this quilt there? OUT of the TRASH CAN!??))

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When I looked at the top of that can, you would think there would be NOTHING salvageable in it…but…well, lets just say that I’m going to have to force myself back to those half square triangles, because I have a desire to keep sewing these little guys!

Strip size? 2” X 8” finished. Block size? 8” finished.

I know the "inspiration" quilt used much smaller pieces and narrower strips, but I have no idea what size THEIR blocks finished at. I'm taking these as they come..I'm not cutting them down, I'm just sewing them into rows and trimming at 2.5" wide. Triangles are being sewn into squares, other smaller units are added to make it measure at least 2.5" wide. They are sewn on as they are sewn on.

Dh & I finally got away last evening to see the last Harry Potter movie. I liked it, but I wished that I had seen part 1 again before going to see part 2. I was a little lost in parts, and couldn’t remember what had happened in the last episode. That probably has more to do with my age than anything else I expect, but still. I did like seeing how grown up those kids have become. I've enjoyed watching them grow over the past 10 years! I loved the last scene in the train station!

Enjoy your Sunday! Stitch something beautiful today!

Saturday, July 30, 2011

And it was Friday ---

And Miss Lisa needed some company while she had her hurty leg checked at the doctors…so off I went in Shamu to go pick her up and sit with her!

Of course, both of us had our "busy bags" in tow--Any idle time is handwork time, and we came prepared!

When we arrived, the waiting room was quite full, and we both sat down with our Hexies to wile away the time, visit, sew, and make good use of otherwise wasted boring SITTING.

I hate sitting in Doc’s offices ---but somehow knowing that *I* wasn’t the one being seen, and I was there just in case Lisa was incapacitated enough to not be able to drive herself home made it somewhat better! I wasn’t nervous over what any medical person could be doing to me..I wasn’t being poked, prodded and lanced!

Waiting rooms are interesting places, especially if you are sitting there sewing. I was using the time to attach one of the border sections to my hexagon medallion --- and there were a couple of older gentlemen also in the waiting room who started talking about how they remembered how local community women “USED” to come round for quiltings in the winter months, all of them gathering together.

These were “Stokes County” boys, brothers as it turns out -- and one thing I’ve learned about Stokes County, NC, is that if you are FROM there, you stay there! The roots run deep in Stokes County.

Lisa and I just stitched and listened while these two brothers, one the eldest of the family and one the youngest ((There were two sisters in between, one who has since passed on)) described what it was like growing up in the Good Ole Days in Stokes County, and how they remembered quilt frames being raised to the ceiling on pulleys, and even straight back chairs were used to hold the quilting frame when all the ladies would come and sit around it.

We heard about how the only heat source growing up was a fire place --- and the oldest brother remembers sleeping up under the rafters under a PILE of quilts, waking up to see how the snow had sifted through the cracks in the roof boards, leaving a fine dusting of snow in straight lines across the top quilt of the pile.

And Lisa and I stitched some more and listened some more to the old stories of what it was like to graduate high school in Stokes County, NC and go straight to work after. Choices weren’t many, and college wasn’t an option for many either. You could choose from Coca Cola, Pepsi, Hanes, or RJ Reynolds ((Tobacco )) or you farmed. And you prayed for enough work to make ends meet.

The younger of the two brothers described how he remembered the ladies quilting in a “fan” pattern, and he traced the air with his fingers to demonstrate, asking if we were familiar with that pattern. “Yes” we both replied, smiling. Baptist fans are a favorite of mine, and this old guy was hitting every heart string right on!

Before we knew it, an hour had flown by, and we really enjoyed our conversation time. Quilting can be such a wall breaker. How many times have we sat in a room with strangers, thumbed through old magazines, played with our phones, read our kindles or a book and never spoke a word to the stranger next to us? We would have sorely missed a wonderful opportunity to meet these two brothers, and would not have been so enriched after hearing their stories. EVERYONE has a story! We just have to open up enough to get the conversation started --- and then LISTEN to what is being said.

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And in the midst of the talking and the visiting….one side panel has been added to the hexagon medallion…squaring off ONE side…

And the journey continues!

Friday, July 29, 2011

Summer Days in the Basement!

You know I spent the last few days conflicted…wanting to join with friends on a quilty trip to TN, passing on that due to an extremely close deadline list…wanting to sew on THIS, but needing to sew on THAT…and all around me, other things calling my name.

It seems when there are too many things on the “To Do” list, that the only way I can handle it without flying around like a headless chicken is to write everything down, pick ONE THING, put blinders on ---- and go for it. A little bit of progress on lots of things just does not give me the same feeling of satisfaction as much as BIG progress on ONE thing does.

Too many things, and I start to feel like the old rocker knob on top of my pressure cooker ----feeling like I’m going to blow at any moment!

So. It’s a GOOD thing I stayed home. It’s a good thing my feet hurt enough to slow me down a bit. It’s a good thing to knock these things off my list one at a time and SEE the progress! I’m a method girl….assembly line girl…pick one thing and go for it, and that’s what I’ve been doing!

I went out to dinner with Lisa the other night…this was inside my fortune cookie!

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See? The Universe is trying to tell me something!

One thing that helps me stay focused when sewing is to listen to books on my MP3 player that I download from my library. Right now I’m listening to the Jack Reacher series. Awesome. Ex-Army Military Cop and a bunch of who dunnit scenarios as he travels around. I’m hooked on these, and I don’t know what I’ll do when I have listened to them all. The author is Lee Child. If you like action and intrigue, you’ll like these!

And I can sew and sew and sew and listen, and not have to look up to a TV, or get distracted by what MIGHT be going on in email or facebook ;c)

And I’m using my cheddar bowties as incentive to keep going on other projects! My pile is growing!

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These are turning out SO cute! And while I was cutting for these, a light bulb went off…we are talking 2” squares and 1 1/4” squares….what do I have in the stash that could really be used up for these? Oh Boy…

Out came the string bin….and the bin with hunks and chunks that hadn’t been cut into bricks or squares yet…pieces that were too short to be strips. Pieces that had been given to me by quilters with the challenge of “If any one will use this --- BONNIE will!”

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Do you SEE this mess!? And I know..there were a lot of other things demanding my attention, but if I could tackle this ONE THING I’d feel so much better! ((Yes, at this point I was technically avoiding the "to do" list...but I wanted to be in control of this ONE THING!))

I started pulling a few pieces that would work for the bow ties…just a few…and ironing them…

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See that one brown/cheddar calico?? It’s a 1970’s piece and I love it!! It’s going to be so cute…These pieces weren’t large, not long enough to be strips, and they ended up in WITH a bunch of strings because I didn’t know what to do with them…

I dug through and pretty soon had a whole basket of things just for bow-ties!

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I’ll pull from this basket as I need to, it’s sitting right under my ironing board…but I’ve got lots of fun vintage stuff in here as well as recycled pieces from shirts, and repros and old calicoes and just stuff that will be so cute as bow-ties. I keep reminding myself this is not a project with a size limit or a deadline. It’s leader/ender friendly and that is how they are growing. But it’s nice to see them coming together in between the lines of power sewing. I can use the bow-tie pieces as “markers” even in between long lines of chain piecing, sewing a bow tie piece every 10 or 25 units just to help me count how far I’ve gone.

But that wasn’t the end of it…..after I pulled the fabrics I could use for the bow-ties..I was still left with THIS STRING MESS!

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Do you SEE this mountain!?? I have no clue how it even stayed contained inside that bin! LOL!

I’ve been working on several different string projects lately, and it’s a good thing..because I want to sew this stuff up! But I needed a way to organize it better. Can you organize strings? Oh yes you can, and I did!

I sorted into color families! The quilts I’ve been working on have specific color plans, and it was a PAIN to dig through the strings having to find the color I needed. Is this a bit obsessive/compulsive? Maybe so. Is this going to lead to insanity? MAYBE SO!

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This is the contents of that messy bin…From left to right I’ve got “recycled shirt strings” then Pinks, Reds, Neutral, Brown, Yellow, Orange, Purple, Green & Black. Now the strings will be easily accessible for projects I’ve got in the works. And oh, the variety is SO FUN! When you are playing with strictly color, ANYTHING GOES as long as it is within that color family, so the weirder and more ugly the fabric is, the more fun it is to stick it in there.

And you also find out really quickly what you have MORE OF than anything else:

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Blues- Navy to Aqua/Turquoise! I see a LOT of blue string quilts in my future…which is okay by me! This whole Ikea bag is FULL of blues. I love Ikea bags. Note to self – I need some more!

Oh. And I threw stuff AWAY. Yes I did….anything questionable, or that felt terrible to the touch…it just WENT. Good riddance, no guilt. That big bin with the green flip top? It now sits EMPTY! I'll find a purpose for it, but it's nice not having the string disaster in there anymore.

But I won’t be stringing today…..today…..I’m tackling about 800 more half square triangles!

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Gotta use up more of those blues and yellows! Yes, each stack has 100 pre-cut pairs ready to be sewn together this morning! Like I said..I’m an assembly line girl, and I better get down to it!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Evening Edition --- Free Kindle Book!

I’ve been sewing like a crazy woman all day! And I’m making good progress on some things that have sat at a standstill for a while…It’s HOT HOT HOT and muggy outside, so it feels so good to be in!

However, my feet aren’t happy – that old ugly plantar fasciitis is rearing it’s ugly head again, and even though it’s 90+ out, I’m having to put my running shoes with orthodics in them ON MY FEET first thing in the morning. Hot feet all day…ugh! But it’s better than HURTING feet. I tell ya, this getting old ain’t for sissies!

So, while browsing about this evening I came across this free book!

Hostage in Havana, by Noel Hynd. I’ve read him before, and he is really good!

Book description:

From bestselling ABA author Noel Hynd comes this new series set against the backdrop of Havana, an explosive capital city of faded charm locked in the past and torn by political intrigue.U.S. Treasury Agent Alexandra LaDuca leaves her Manhattan home on an illegal mission to Cuba that could cost her everything. Accompanying her is the attractive but dangerous Paul Guarneri, a Cuban-born exile who lives in the gray areas of the law.

Together, they plunge into subterfuge and danger. Without the support of the United States, Alex must navigate Cuban police, saboteurs, pro-Castro security forces, and an assassin who follows her from New York. Bullets fly as allies become traitors and enemies become unexpected friends. Alex, recovering from the tragic loss of her fiance a year before, reexamines faith and new love while taking readers on a fast-paced adventure.

Readers of general market thrillers, such as John le Carre, David Baldacci, and Joel Rosenberg, will eagerly anticipate this first installment.

Worth a shot? I think so! In fact, I think I’ll finish up this cutting of about a bazillion half square triangles ((give or take a few!!)) Go find a nice reclining place to elevate these throbbing feet and do a bit of reading tonight…..

As always, check the price before clicking as prices can change without notice ---

Enjoy!

Show & Tell Thursday! Kim Brandt!

In my travels I occasionally cross paths with someone who is SO prolific, and such a sweet person, we could have been friends forever! I’d known Kim for years via email, but it wasn’t until I took a trip up to Poughkeepsie that I met her in person! We had a wonderful couple of days, and I was really glad to get the time to spend with her.

Today, I’d love to share some of Kim’s quilts with you! She’s a busy gal, one of the other hats she wears identifies her as one of Quiltmaker Magazine’s “Scrap Squad” And you’ll see why when you see her fabulous quilts!

BTW --- how do you like our mascot for the day? ISN’T HE CUTE?!? Last week someone said the kitten with the big eyes that I showed at the head of the Show and Tell Thursday post was….ummm…SCARY.. LOL! So…I think this little baby hedge hog will do the job just fine!

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I love Kim’s Spider Web medallion, surrounded by strips and strings and crumbs and miscellaneous block parts. Isn’t this just fun! of course, next to cheddar, RED is my fave color…whoooo!

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I can tell that Kim likes red too, I see it in LOTS of her quilts! This is Kim’s version of “Swing Your Partner” from Scraps & Shirttails I – and I love how she incorporated “Happy 60th Jack” on it!

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A closer up detail shot….love those recycled shirt plaids, and Tonya’s technique of free-pieced letters as found in Word Play Quilts! ((Red ---see the RED!? Love it!))

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This is Kim’s version of Jared Takes A Wife. Isn’t it fun to see the extra units used in the borders?

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Kim’s Crumby-Love! There is so much going on in this…all the left over units, strips, bits, hunks and chunks of this and that. I LOVE this happy little quilt!

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Here’s one that Kim made for Helen with lots of random strips and strings and crumb blocks as well. All these quilts that were made for other people make me want to be on Kim’s gift list too! HA! :cD I’m sure Helen was thrilled with her quilt!

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Here’s a string quilt made for Elijah! What little kid ((Even full grown ones!)) wouldn’t be tickled to have their name stitched into the center of the quilt? There is NO DOUBT who this quilt belongs to! What a great variety of scraps and colors…and…RED! uhhuh!! Bring on the red! :cD

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We don’t want to leave anyone out…Especially not Quin! great quilt! I love how different this quilt looks from the one above just by changing the color of the sashings and cornerstones!

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Christmas Lights got an extra special treatment with it’s own Wordy Border! And aren’t those asterisks fun?

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Here is Kim’s Carolina Cross Roads from Scraps & Shirttails I! I love the spark of yellow she has going on here..it just lets the sunshine in! great use of fabrics and color!

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Just because the name of the quilt has CHRISTMAS in it, doesn’t mean you have to do it in Christmas colors! When we ran Carolina Christmas as a mystery before it appeared in Scraps & Shirttails II, I told everyone to pick 3 colors and a background. My colors were red/green/gold/neutral --- and look how she shook this up in red/turquoise/white/black! YUMMY!

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And Kim isn’t done yet! Here she shared with me a picture of her pineapple blocks in progress…isn’t it a scrappy delight! I can hardly wait to see it finished…..

Kim, thank you so much for sharing your beautiful quilts with us….I’m so happy to call you FRIEND!

Due to my travel schedule, I don’t run “Show and Tell Thursday” EVERY week ---but only as time allows. If any of you would like to be part of a Show and Tell Thursday, I welcome your photos of any of the quilts you have made from my books or website! And please, if you have made any of the patterns from my Quiltmaker Magazine Addicted To Scraps column, I’d LOVE to see those as well!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

From Storm Lake back to Des Moines!

We left Storm Lake after the Saturday workshop ended…and drove the 3 hours back to Des Moines! I napped a bit, until I heard the ladies in the front talking about the beautiful old homes in Sac City…..I opened my eyes and saw GORGEOUS Victorian creations complete with the gingerbread and porches. I love old houses!

The picture you see to the left? that blurry one? That is the “out the window” shot I took while we were driving! I was texting with Lori, and wanted to give her a shot of what I was looking at.

Iowa is also very famous for Quilt Barns! As a die hard traditional quilter, it makes my heart sing to see these blocks showing up on barns and buildings everywhere.

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Doesn’t this just make you SMILE?!

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I’m thinking I need a big huge quilt block on the side of my house…but no one would ever see it! Now my mind is thinking if there is a place on the FRONT that I could do it? Hmmmmm!

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I just love this! That purple really looks great against the white barn and the blue sky!

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This one is more complex! I think a PAINTED block would be a great way to create something that we are too AFRAID to piece for real.. ;c)

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Don’t you just love the names of the old blocks too? Goose & Goslings, Hen & chicks!

How many quilt blocks were named due to things found every day “down on the farm”?

We drove all the way to Des Moines, talking and laughing, and found ourselves a place for dinner at a local BBQ joint. I wish I could remember the name of it, it was sure good! But no trip to the midwest is ever complete without a stop off at Culvers for dessert! And we did. How we managed to eat BBQ AND frozen custard back to back, I don’t know….but…..well….it was only ONE SCOOP, right? ;c)

I had one of those days yesterday…..I needed to dig into my bag of leader/ender 4 patches. I could not find them ANYWHERE. Mind you, we were talking about a HUGE zip lock bag full of 4 patches pinned together in sets of 10. Honestly, I had no idea where I had moved it to or why…..but it was just GONE! I searched and searched and searched and gave up.

This morning? I found it on a chair, buried under fabric I had tried for backings and discarded.

Guess who is doing a whole clean up routine in the studio AGAIN this morning? I don’t know how this place gets so messy when I’m away! It must be those gremlins~~

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Evening Edition–Free Kindle Book!

I'm sewing, I'm sewing! Ooohhh...even got my block done for the NEXT after the NEXT issue of 100 blocks by 100 designers. How's that for planning ahead?

I've decided that I just can't go to TN this week. It's time to be a bit realistic...you really CAN'T do it all, can you? Though I wish I could!

In the mean time --

I just found this little who-done-it murder mystery, and it’s free in the Kindle store today.

Dead Deceiver is written by Victoria Houston.

Book Description:

In Loon Lake, Wisconsin, a woman is murdered, her body discovered under a bridge. But Lew Ferris, chief of police, has his mind on another case—a local woman claims she’s being stalked. Is the woman, a former nun with possible psychological problems, imagining it, or is someone really terrorizing her?

The latest Loon Lake mystery, like its predecessors, depends on its characters to propel readers through the story: Lew, Doc Osborne, likable Ray Pradt (who, in this book, is angling for a part on a new reality TV show about ice fishermen), and the newcomers, alleged stalker victim Patience Schumacher and her husband, Charles Mason. The nice thing about the book is that fans of the series will enjoy reuniting with some old friends, and newcomers can jump right in and have a great time.

It just sounds like a good read, stack it up with the others, I’m ready!

As usual, check the price before clicking in case it has gone from being free, back to NON free again. Prices can change without notice, and I get these out to you as soon as I can.

Storm Lake, Day Two!

Saturday was our My Blue Heaven workshop! Of course, the fun of that workshop is seeing them go from Blue to Red to Pink to Purple, to Green, to Brown and every color in between!

I love getting to know the Quilters, and the funny things that come up in conversations! You’d be amazed at the things you can learn by simply walking around the room and tuning in to what is being said…bet you can’t guess what was said over this rotary blade you see to the left!

“THIS is what happens when you cut through the cord of your Ott Light!”

“Really? Why were you cutting through the cord anyway? You should have unplugged it first!”

“I wasn’t TRYING to cut through it! And if I had, I would have unplugged it first!”

Too hilarious! And the Quilter said that her hubby offered to take it in to work and fix it for her there by splicing an old lamp cord to it. My favorite comment of all?

“I can just see them standing around watching my DH fix this thing…and what will DH say? The Famous Five Words: MY WIFE IS A QUILTER!!” NUFF SAID!!

*Disclaimer* We do not advocate running over ott light cords with your rotary cutter. it can be HECK on a new blade!

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One of These Things is NOT like the Others! LOL!! We are the cheddar sandwich! I swear..I thought these two gals were SISTERS! Can you think of any other mother/daughter team that looks more alike? And they are both so fun to be around. This is Jo of Jo’s Country Junction and her daughter Kelli!

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They went over to the school bookstore and bought these Cheddar Tshirts….I guess they wanted to match the leader/ender bow ties that Jo was sewing in between the lines of her chain piecing!

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Aren’t these the cutest little Beezers?!? LOVE THEM!!

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I also love how inventive Quilters are at expanding to fill the space they’ve been given…and when it is close quarters? We use the white-board try to hold our extra cut out parts! ((do you know how hard it is for me not to call that a CHALK BOARD still!? Oy! Am I giving away my AGE or what?!))

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The silly girls had me SIGN the shirts!!

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And I got back at them with bunny ears over their heads… hehehehe! Jo! What is your hand doing on my butt, girl?! LOL!!

So…how are YOUR Leader/Ender bowties coming?! I think I’ve got…ummm……18….but we discovered something, if you can’t stomach the color of Cheddar…just think of it as MARIGOLD! We saw some of the most beautiful marigolds in the school landscape, and it was gorgeous with every other color that was around it…so just think..MARIGOLD!

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So on to the pictures!! I hope you will click to view them full sized….I don’t think that the “slide show” where it runs on its own works anymore…at least it hasn’t on my end, but you can still click the arrow to go from one to the next to the next ---

I’m trying to get all my work done so I can take a road trip THURSDAY with some friends to TN ((!!!)) How can I resist?! I “SO” want to go…..but do I dare? I said if I can get caught up on a few things I might be able to go. “MIGHT” But but but but, oh how I want to go! And they are ploying me with temptations like

“ We are planning on going to Tennessee Quilt Shop and the quilt festival, then stopping at Batiks Etc. In Wytheville on the way home.”

Can they MAKE it any harder to say NO!?? I need to decide by this time tomorrow, so I better get off here and go get some work done!