Monday, June 27, 2011

Twice as Nice Quilt ( aka: the Quilt of Insanity)Complete

Last year, Julie, of Jaybird Quilts designed and organized this Hexagon Quilt Along Online. I thought: How cool! And I jumped in enthusiastically. I bought a Summer's Basket of Flowers jelly roll, the 60° ruler from Creative Grids, and let the rotary cutter fly! Then I perched behind my sewing machine and stitched triangles into hexagons with glee. Before I knew it, I had completed the top...and I hated it. Now, I didn't hate the quilt a long. In fact, Julie did a marvelous job of explaining everything and I still loved the idea of a hexagon quilt, but my fabrics just didn't look like I thought they should...or could. I hemmed and hawed and even groveled for help as to what to do here .
I got lots of advice and the consenses was that I would be crazy to rip the whole top apart and reconstruct it. Well, you know what they say, if the shoe fits.... so insane I must be. But those of you that know me, probably reached that conclusion long ago, so I'm sure it came as no surprise. I ripped it all out. It was a long, long process and it was a slow, slow one as well. I had to be careful not to distort the fabrics since they were all cut on the bias.

But looking back, I am glad I did it because I LOVE it now!

So thanks Julie!

P.S. Just a heads up. If you click on the photo for a larger shot, please disregard the sad looking lawn. That is not grass. It is a yard full of weeds, but they are green and since we haven't seen a drop of rain since September, they are staying. The 115°+ temps have not been kind to anything attempting to grow this summer. If you squint from afar, it looks like grass and until the good Lord sends some rain (which I know He will) that's good enough for me.

It amazes me that just rearranging the fabrics made them come alive. It's 68x64. A more seasoned quilter would have made this quilt and it would have been square, but seeing as I am not a member of that group, we have a wonky quilt, but it's a good size to cuddle under and I really like the scrappy, piano key border. I backed it in a red print from the same line, mostly because I found it on a wide backing width on sale. I hesitated only briefly about backing it in red because of the possibility that it would run. Shout Color Catcher Sheets to the rescue! Have y'all heard of these things? I am SO sold on this product! They look like the softener sheets you use in the dryer, but you throw them in the wash. This is the end result:

Can you believe that?! Without them, I'm pretty sure the quilt would have been ruined and there would have been sad tears. So I applaud the Shout people who either concocted this fabulous product, or sat up and took notice when someone brought it to them.

When I picked the quilt up from my Longarm quilter she said that if I ever wanted to sell it, she had a number of people who wanted it, but I have become too attached to it. And although I'm working on a quilt for DD to take to college, I'll have to check her luggage when she leaves, because she seems to be forming a bond with this one too. I don't know about this kid. She steals her Papa's horses, her brother's clothes, and her Mama's quilts. Good thing we love her!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Teetering on the Edge of an Empty Nest and Learning the Ropes

This is a pretty big place. DH has 200 sections (128,000 acres)  to tend to and for the most part, we've had one other man working here. My FIL helped out for a few years part time, and the kids have been part of the ranching crew since they were pretty small. A few years ago we put in a new redi-built house at the other camp, about 5 miles from headquarters and the past 2 years we've had a nice family living there. However, they have moved on and we're in the process of praying for the right help to appear. In the meantime, poor DH is stuck with me. Honestly, the poor man does not deserve this. However, he's a good sport and truth be told, we're kind of enjoying this together time. Through the years, I've fixed my share of water gaps, pulled my quota of windmill sucker rod, tended to more than enough pump jacks, and broken more ice in drinking tubs than I could count. Think I'm complaining? Not a chance! Even when I was on the ground holding the backside of a cow until hubby could get her tended to after she prolapsed, or when we were painting a cattle guard in 120° heat, I was thankful (albeit a bit peaked around the edges) for this amazing life that God has blessed me with. Even after 24 years, I often find myself shaking my head that the good Lord has given me this incredible gift.

I remember an incident that took place back...way back... in the day when I was in the 7th grade. I remember it like it was yesterday and I am still in contact with this friend with whom I had this conversation. We were standing under the breezeway, waiting for 2nd period to start and wondering what our futures would hold instead of concentrating on the fact that I really had not learned how to conjugate those Spanish verbs properly and thus, may never advance to the 8th grade, much less need to worry about what my life would consist of 20 years down the road. Back then, we were all about priorities you know. I was a city girl who felt like a fish out of water and longed desperately for a dirt road away from everything. My friend, Sharon (one of these days I am coming to the NE to visit you!), said, "You are going to grow up and marry a cowboy and live on a big ranch one day just you wait and see". Now, just to set the record straight. I did not, do not, nor will I ever believe in predictions, but little did I know, that God was listening and "He knows the desires of your heart". I laughed it off and thankfully went on to pull a B in that Spanish class, but I never forgot that moment. We both laugh about it now and it makes me realize that the good Lord was molding me and my life long before I came to sit at His feet and that's an awesome feeling! So you can bet that I am praising Him every cotton pickin' day!

DH and I are on the verge of the dreaded 'empty nest'. I know that some people don't dread it, but through the years, when the subject was brought up by anyone, I would come close to hyperventilating and breaking out in hives. I now see that my reaction was only due to the fact that it wasn't time. Timing is everything and God's timing is perfect so I'm good. Now, that's not to say that you won't find me bawling my eyes out when I walk into either of their rooms, or pulled over on the side of the road wailing because I heard, "You're Gonna Miss This" by Trace Adkins. I already do that last one and DD has been telling me lately that I am awfully weepy. But, I'll be fine. We'll be fine.

So, now that I've gone off on that rabbit trail, I'll get back to my original thought. I'm in training. Kind of. There are miles and miles of water to check and acres and acres of pasture to traverse, and hundreds and hundreds of cattle to keep an eye one, and thousands and thousands of fence posts to keep up.

I'm starting small. I can't even begin to wrap my head around this antiquated water system. So for the time being, I'm the opener of gates as we bounce across the pasture and I take mental notes of the fact that Red Tip Pens are in Armstrong pasture and not in Red Tip Pasture and that when I turn the valve at the highway this way, it sends water north and when I turn it that way, it sends it along the highway line. I need a handy, dandy notebook because my little old, brain is used to homeschooling and keeping people feed. But this is a new season and I am going to take it by the horns and hang on. Hopefully I won't be flung too far. Who says that the children are the only ones who have to learn how to fly?

Monday, June 13, 2011

Baby Buckaroo Quilt and Dirt Road Chit Chat

Just delivered this baby quilt this morning to the newest arrival of a friend as they were on their way back to Kansas. Had to hunt her down in town, but it was good to hug her neck and wish them well on their new venture. This girl is super woman. Her little one is not even a week old and here they are moving across a couple of states with him and the cutest little, 2 yr old. Thankfully her mom came to help and her husband is pulling the truck and trailer. Whew! Just wears me out thinking about it!

I made another quilt like this a couple of years ago and had a bit of the novelty fabric left over. It's a simple quilt, but I like the way it turned out. Here's the label:

The quilt measures about 40x40. I took it to my longarm quilter and she quilted a cute little western motif across it with little hats, horseshoes, stars and bucking horses.

Yesterday I kept the couple's, who lives at the camp here on the ranch, 2 little boys. Their little 2-yr old was bitten by a bat. So scary, but all is well and, thankfully, she doesn't need to have any shots. The boys and I played with Duplos, made pictures for their sister, ate blueberries and apples and bananas and peanut butter and popsicles, and planted flowers in the yard once the temperature dropped below 100°. I have forgotten how busy little ones are. But they are so much fun!

I told their mom, when I called her this morning to see if she needed anything in town and check up on her little girl (and her), that all these young people are wearing us old people out. Oye! I need a nap, but alas, I am off to bounce across the pasture with DH this afternoon in this crazy heat. 108° at the moment. Sigh.

DD will be home this evening after being away at my BIL's vet clinic in Texas for 12 days. I have missed her. It's been entirely too quiet around here, but honestly, there hasn't been much  time to be sad. DH and I took a roadtrip to Texas last weekend for a wonderful wedding and then we had some dear, dear friends come stay with us Thursday night. It was nice to have someone to cook for too! I am struggling with cooking for just the two of us and it's amazing how little groceries we go through.

So, in the midst of all of that I managed to put the finishing stitch on another quilt that I'll share in a couple of days and I finished piecing DD's college quilt. Other duties call for the time being, but it feels good to be wrapping up a few things.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Bunny Hill Baby Quilt

A while back, my Mom asked me to make a baby quilt for my cousin's ex-girlfriend's baby. Yes, it's as strange as it sounds, but she's really nice and so we kept her. Grin! She's married now and has twin boys and they are expecting a girl so I began to stitch. I didn't know what she would want, so I made three and let her choose. This is not the one she chose. I didn't even get a picture of the finished quilt she chose which makes me sad, but I shared a photo of the top in my previous post, here:

I also made another Blooming Pinwheel quilt similar to this:

Here's the Bunny Hill one.

 I have loved this fabric since I first saw it and finally added it to my stash. Then I added some more so I imagine there will be more quilts on the horizen.

I found the appliqued pattern online (after looking at so many bunnies I was going cross-eyed) and fell in love with these bunnies. Originally I had planned to have then peeking over the thin  border under them, but as hard as I tried to line them up, they just did not want to cooperate. Bunnies are just as hard to get into a row as ducks.
Ok. It's 3:30 am so please forgive my feeble attempt at humor.

I backed it with this filigree fabric that I thought was very sweet. I love the soft colors in this line and the pink and brown color combination and I thought the brown binding framed it nicely.

I had to take the quilt town to get a picture of it because we haven't had a drop of rain since September and nothing is green or blooming and it just looks very sad out here. I kept waiting for rain, but it seems we may be waiting a while longer and rain or no rain, I wanted to share this quilt so a distant view of an irrigated field and some green branches is what you get. Oh, and a quilt.

I'm linking up with Quiltstory's Fabric Tuesday post this week. I love this blog. They always focus on the story behind the quilts and that's one of the things I love about quilting and there's always incredible inspiration to be found there!
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