Home for the Holidays

Thanks to all who have sent well wishes and purrs to our Gracie girl. Mike just got off the phone from talking with the vet. Her labs hadn't come back yet this morning, but we should know more soon. We're told they suspect her vomiting is being caused by a "hairball blockage". She still isn't eating or drinking, and so they'll be keeping her at least one more night. Of course, we'll know a lot more when the results of her blood work come back, and so I'll continue to keep you posted as we learn anything new.

Yesterday was kind of a low energy day. The weeks on end of dark gray skies tend to sap my motivation to do much of anything at all. We did get a little bit of a sun break yesterday afternoon, and the big wind storm missed us here on the hill. The City of Portland saw substantial and impressive winds. I read that an 18-wheeler was blown over on one of the main side streets near the Portland airport. It's not a very good picture, but here you go:

The Willamette River is the main river flowing through downtown Portland. A little upstream near Oregon City is a big waterfall known as Willamette Falls. Ordinarily, it has a long and treacherous drop. Folks are often killed when accidentally going over the falls in pleasure boats (something we've actively avoided doing ourselves). With the record-setting December rainfall, Willamette Falls is barely a ripple on the surface of the river right now. Here's some video:

If you can't see the video, click right here.

So all of that just makes me glad to be staying at home. Late yesterday afternoon, I worked up the energy to start practicing some snowflakes in preparation for quilting the Quilting Snowladies. I'm using a large practice piece I made when I took a long-arm class last year. There are still some blank spaces left, and so I've been using it when I want to practice with Eliza. 

My goal is to use a metallic thread to quilt some snowflakes into the cornerstones for the Quilting Snowladies. I have a 3-inch square of space, and so my first task was to section off some approximate 3-inch areas on my practice quilt. For that, I used the little straight edge template I purchased recently, and it worked great! I just put the needle down where I wanted my line, and then lined up the template along the foot. It's quarter-inch-thick plastic, and so it rides along the foot instead of slipping under it as a regular ruler does.

And lookie there:

Nice straight lines. Well. I was so excited about this that I went online and ordered the 12-inch ruler. I mean...the more unused tools in my "black hole of unused quilting tools" drawer the better, right? Who's with me on that?

So anyway...ahem...back to quilting some snowflakes. So I saw this done by someone else on YouTube. (Why have I not discovered YouTube as a quilting resource before now?) The woman in the video was using a domestic machine, but I liked her design better than any I'd figured out on my own. It's not too difficult to stitch either. I'm just working to get the spacing and "little arm to big arm ratio" correct. Here's one:

I've done 12 so far, and I've yet to make one that is perfect. Still, it's a pretty forgiving design.

It's a little easier to do the opposing arms first before moving onto the next side. So, if I can explain this in words: instead of going around the clock face, I'm quilting first the top, then the opposite side, then moving to the right and doing the next big one and then its opposite side, and then continuing to the next large one and doing its opposite side. After the large ones are done, I do the small ones in the same way...one side and then its opposite. I hope that makes sense. The one in the upper right of the image above was done trying to go around the clock face, and you can see that the center is a lot messier than the subsequent ones.

So I want to practice these a little more before trying them on my little table topper. But I think I'll get a start on that today.

This morning I moved the hoop on the latest Hocuspocusville block. I think I've added as much orange as I'm going to, but I might put a little more toward the top. Sometimes I just get an orange hair, and I have to go with it.

And now it's hooped up ready to go again. That will have to wait for tomorrow morning.

This morning Mike and I got an early start. We left around 9:00 and went to get Egg McMuffins at McDonalds. Then we went to the grocery store. He's off this week, and so it was nice to have him along for a change. We were home by about 10:15, and so that was one fast breakfast and grocery shopping trip. And now I'm happy to say I won't be going out again until the madness is over.

Today, being Tuesday, it's Tuesday Archives:

Val's Quilting Studio

Today's theme is "Christmas Quilts" and I'm resurrecting a post from November of 2011 and the Christmas Quilt Show. How come we don't do the Christmas Quilt Show any more? Huh? Here's an idea...why don't you get that organized? I'll be right behind you, linking up. Okay, so, remind me next year, and I'll do it. Anyway...this is the "Walking in a Winter Wonderland" quilt. The pattern is from Crabapple Hill Studios. Here's a link to the website, but you'd better lock up your credit cards in a safe and then wipe your brain so you can't remember the combination. Her website is murder on your wallet.

This was my first embroidered quilt. I tried mightily to resist it, but when someone suggested doing it in blue (rather than the redwork I'd seen), I was hooked on the pattern. Not only that, but I was hooked on embroidery forever after. Now I have approximately 30 embroidered quilt patterns waiting their turn on my bookshelf. I've even taken to choosing them by random number since I want to do all of them at once. Do you need more hours in your day too? Anyway, here's my quilt, and here's the link to the original post. You can see close-ups of all the blocks there.

I'll be back writing again before Christmas, but in case I miss you between now and then, wishing you...

15 comments from clever and witty friends:

Quilting Babcia said...

Every snowflake is different from all the others. So why shouldn't quilted ones be individuals too?! Yours are looking really great and it's difficult quilting with metallic thread, no doubt about that. Our best wishes go out to Gracie that she'll be back home with you before Christmas. We've had hard rains here and the creek is way over its banks, about as high as we've seen since we moved here.

Betty said...

Merry Christmas to you and yours!
The snowflakes are looking good, no two in nature are exactly the same. I get the idea of quilting opposite sides of designs. I've found that to work better with most symmetrical patterns.
Hoping Gracie's issue is resolved and she is home for the holiday also. We once had a cat with hairball blockage issues. It was very distressing until we learned what was going on and how to deal with it.

Sarah said...

I also like your snowflakes and hope to give them a try *after* Christmas! It's been gray and rainy here in WNY where we didn't need a coat today and tomorrow will be record highs. It's been hard to get into the holiday spirit but we are trying...
Fingers are still crossed for Gracie!

Nancy said...

Thank you for sharing the snowman embroidery quilt. I admire anyone who can work on all that embroidery for a quilt. Also, I understand what you mean about moving around the snowflake. I think we all figure out our own methods and what works best for each of us. It's like chewing gum and rubbing one's tummy--some rotate the opposite way. Merry Christmas.

Anonymous said...

Poor Gracie! Hope the vet can get rid of that nasty hairball and that her labs are ok and she is home soon.

Sorry to hear about the weather woes in your area. Hope everyone stays safe in the flooded areas. After 2 years of the Polar Vortex in our part of the US, we are experiencing a very warm winter. 65 degrees for tomorrow with thunderstorms! Normal high would be around 40-45 degrees.

Teresa F.

WoolenSails said...

I hope Gracie is ok now, I have a cat that throws up all over the house, every day for 5 years. She cannot eat wet food and she keeps getting into what moki leaves, so we lose a lot of rugs;) Looks like you have made and finished a lot of beautiful projects this year, hopefully I can get more done this year. Have a wonderful Christmas.


Kate said...

I hope Gracie is home for Christmas. I've always liked your Christmas quilt. It's a beauty. Have a wonderful holiday.

Vroomans' Quilts said...

As others have stated - every snowflake is different, so relax - I think they are wonderful. We are warm and wet (even had a thunderstorm the other night) rain predicted for the next few days, which should be interesting. Prayers for Gracie Girl.

Ann said...

Beautiful snowflakes. Merlin and Taffy sending get well wishes to Gracie. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

SJSM said...

Gracie girl, get well soon so you can be home with Smitty, Mom and dad.

Lots of info in this post. Amazing about the falls. Our weather has given about an inch of rain. The Sierras expected to get 24-36 inches of snow! The snow pack is developing!

Your embroidery work inspired me to buy a set for a quilt. Haven't touched it yet and need to buy the supplies. It's in my To Do pile. I can see where you are ramping up to put those snowflakes together. Just a few more practice ones and you are good to go. Your cornerstones will be beautiful.

Enjoy your Christmas with family.

Dana Gaffney said...

My blog reading has been a little hit and miss so I didn't see the original post about Gracie, I hope everything is O.K. and she comes home soon, no one should be in the hospital for the holidays poor baby. When you visit her tell her everyone's sending lots of healthy wishes.

Mad Cat Quilts said...

Poor Gracie! Come home soon!

Susan said...

I hope Gracie's problem(s) is(are) solved easily and quickly and she is home in time for Christmas. As far as your snowflakes go--you do realize that you rarely see two snowflakes exactly alike don't you? If I could free motion even half as good as what you have done I would be ecstatic!

gpc said...

Poor sweet Gracie. :( Your quilting is more amazing all the time, truly.

Lynette said...

Hi, Barb. I'm so sorry about Gracie. :( I had to surf back and pick up the story about new little Maggie, since I missed her arrival while we were gone for the holidays. Ours fur-people sure mean so much to us, don't they?