Friday, July 18, 2014

Slow Summer Sewing

I'm still plugging away at my sunflower mini but I'm also working on a baby quilt.  I was inspired by this Cubbyholes quilt made by Maryann Fons and featured in the July/August issue of Love of Quilting Magazine and a few other similar versions I've seen around Blogland, like this one at Kathy's Quilts.

My sewing time has been very limited so far this summer.  We've been busy with house guests and garden projects.  I've also been spending time at the gym keeping up my exercises so my knees stay flexible and I don't build up scar tissue again.  I also don't stay sitting for any length of time or I start to stiffen up.  

This project is coming along v.e.r.y  s.l.o.w.l.y.  It's taken me two weeks to get this far:

I won't get any sewing done this weekend as we're going to visit our son at his new apartment to help him hang curtains and do a few projects for him.

The baby quilt will definitely not be done in time for the baby shower on August 2, but hopefully it will be done before the baby arrives in mid-September.

Stay tuned....

Monday, July 14, 2014

Sunny Days

Last week I went to Ruby Scissors Quilt Shop to look for fabrics to make a sunflower mini quilt as my new mini for the month of August.  I had in my head to use batik fabric but wasn't able to find any in a bright yellow/orange that I wanted.  I ended up buying printed cotton fabric in the exact golden yellow I was looking for.  I bought a marbled olive green to use for the leaves and a mini print on brown to use as the center of the sunflower to represent the "seeds".

I bought a dresden plate template at Joann's to make the flower petals.  It was very easy to use and worked out great.  I made a larger center for the sunflower than the center that the pattern included with the template called for.  For my center, I traced a saucer on the back of the fabric and also on some fusible interfacing.  I sewed the "textured side of the interfacing to the right side of the brown fabric and sewed along the circle marking.  Then I clipped the outside curve, cut a snip in the interfacing and turned the circle right side out.  Next I ironed the the center with the fusible side of the interfacing to the ride side of the center of the sunflower petals.

Since then, I've been slowly working on hand appliqueing the elements on an unbleached muslin background.  So far I really like how it looks.  The hubs recognized it as a sunflower, so I guess I'm doing okay!!  Hopefully, I'll get it quilted before the first of August!

Friday, July 4, 2014

Happy 4th of July!!

I finished a new mini quilt for July. I really like to have these monthly minis be entirely my own design, but I'm still not feeling my old quilting mojo yet. So this time I simply went with a traditional star pattern and used patriotic fabrics. To add my own touch I added star buttons in the square patches.

I did stitch in the ditch quilting except in the large triangles and the center square.

Since the hubs works weekends, we don't have a lot of time off together but we did both have today off and we drove about two hours to Cooperstown, NY to visit the Farmer's Museum. It's a living history museum where the staff dress in period costumes and explain life at the time, in this case the mid-1800's.

The museum also houses the Empire State Carousel. In the carousel building were mini quilts from quilt guilds all over New York State.

One house had exhibits of the technology of the times and there was a room with antique sewing machines, including a gorgeous one with inlaid mother of pearl. It was just beautiful!

Of course there were lots of farm animals to enjoy.

We had a great day. I hope you did too.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Hot Sunday Hand Sewing

It's definitely summer here in Upstate NY. We're having temperatures in the high 80's. That's out of my comfort zone for outdoor activities so I decided to spend my Sunday working on some hand sewing projects.

First up was this cute kit I ordered from Alicia Paulson's web shop.

 If you've never visited her blog, you need to head over there right now! She is the most amazing photographer - she makes the everyday seem spectacular. On top of that, she's a fantastic designer of felt and embroidered projects. She recently released a set of patterns and kits for stuffed animals - complete with Liberty of London clothing and hand knitted accessories.

 I started with something quick and easy and embroidered and put together the dark purple boots.  I love them!

 In the afternoon I worked on hand sewing the binding on and embellishing a new July mini quilt that I'll show you later this week.

I'm linking up to Slow Sunday Stitching at Kathy's Quilts.  Head on over to see what others are working on today.

With the knee replacements, I'm not able to kneel to garden anymore so the hubs suggested a raised bed vegetable planter. We considered wooden beds, but decided we should have something more permanent. We ended up designing a stone planter and hired a mason to pour a foundation and cut and install the capstones. Over the last week, hubs built the walls with a tiny bit of help from me (I brushed dirt off the stones and squeezed out the adhesive). Then we added 50 bags of soil and manure to fill it up before finally adding the plants. We love the finished planter and the height is perfect to sit on the edge and work in the garden.

Monday, June 23, 2014

On to May and June

I had hoped to work from home starting the last week of April, but one area on my right knee wouldn't stop draining and close up so I was scheduled for a second surgery to clean that area and re-suture it. Fortunately, the morning of the surgery, the wound finally stopped draining and we were able to cancel the second surgery. So I started working from home for four hours a day in the second week of May.

Around that same time I got a phone call from Bill at Patti's Sewing Machines letting me know they had a Singer Featherweight that they received in on trade. I had left my name and contact info with Bill in December, and this was the first Featherweight they had in the shop since then. My sweet hubby bought her for me as a Mothers Day present.

She was made in 1938 and she's in great shape. I crocheted a bright pink spool doily using some perle cotton.

Since the surgery, it's really tough to stay sitting for any length of time as I get very stiff. I need to get up about every half hour to flex my knees and walk around. It's also difficult to stand for any amount of time, so cutting fabric is a chore unless I do it sitting down. So in order to put my new Featherweight to the test, I decided to piece a simple small quilt top using two mini charm packs of High Street by Lily Ashbury. Very little cutting to do and simple piecing.

I'm calling this mini Road to Recovery.

I went back to work full time at the end of May and found the days to be very long.  Even though I kept up with outpatient physical therapy two days a week and doing a home therapy program all the other days, my left knee wasn't progressing as well as the right knee and I didn't have as much flexibility as I should have.

So even though I had a house full of company in town for my niece's wedding, I went in the hospital the first week of June for a manipulation. Basically that meant I would be under anesthesia and the surgeon would bend and flex my leg in ways that would have been too painful to do while I was awake. The idea behind a manipulation is to break up the scar tissue that formed since the surgery and to hopefully gain more flexibility and a speedier recovery. I left my company to fend for themselves and spent the night at the hospital where my leg was put in a constant motion machine for 24 hours after the manipulation. Of course the manipulation was very painful so that means I'm back on pain meds. This time with a better plan to manage the digestive issues.

A couple days after I went home from the hospital, my niece Kate married her best friend Ted. Both of my boys were home for the wedding, as were all my nieces and nephews, my parents, brothers and sisters. It was great to see everyone.

This is me and the hubs with our sons Chris and Jay, and Jay's girlfriend, Courtney.

The wedding party: 

My niece Kate is the beautiful bride. My niece Sarah is on the far left with the white waistband. My nephew John is the groomsman with the blond hair, and his girlfriend Jen is the girl with the straight hair next to him.

So far my left knee is flexing about 25 degrees more than before the manipulation and I will be leaving physical therapy this week for a gym program that I will maintain on my own. I'm finally starting to feel more like myself again, but I'm not there yet.  I actually thought the recovery would be quicker than it has been. I now know that it will still take a few more months before I really feel back to normal, but I'm headed in the right direction and finally feeling the itch to be crafty again.

It's good to be back.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

I'm Back

Thank you for sticking with me!  I've been gone a long time. It's been a long, tough recovery and I'm still not 100% but I'm doing ok and I'm ready to test the quilting/sewing waters again.

I've been MIA since March so I thought I'd fill you in on what's been going on the past few months to bring you up to speed.

March was spent getting the house and my affairs in order in anticipation of a few months downtime. I cleaned, shopped and organized and made sure bills were paid and papers filed. There were multiple pre-op tests performed and several doctor's appointments.

I did find a little time to be crafty, though. After seeing some really cute decoupaged rabbits on Pinterest, I decided to make one as an Easter decoration. I started with this plain brown papier-mâché bunny from Joann's. 

I've had this really pretty tissue paper for years and finally used it for this project. 

I painted the bunny white, 

then applied squares of the tissue paper with mod podge. 

I think it came out really nice!

I also made a new Easter mini quilt in a crazy quilt style. 

I used some of the specialty stitches on my sewing machine in lieu of hand embroidery. I sent it to work and asked one of my staff members to hang it up while I was out for the surgery. It was a big hit.

April 2 was my sister, Kelly's (aka Frog's) birthday and also my surgery day. I was pretty scared and nervous. I've had numerous surgeries over the years but this was by far the most serious. That first night after surgery, while I still had copious amounts of anesthesia in my system, I pieced two and a half hexie flowers. 

Since then, bupkis! Nada, nothing, zip, zilch, zero. Huh?!

I spent four days, three nights at the hospital then came home to continue my recovery. I had two weeks of physical therapy at home then started outpatient therapy. For anyone else considering joint replacement surgery, you should know that your therapy needs to be your full time job while you are recovering. You really need to put time and effort into regaining mobility.
The rest of April was spent in a medication-induced stupor. Well, not totally, but I found it very, very difficult to concentrate on anything for any length of time.  I was really only on pain meds for a couple weeks but I had trouble concentrating for months and am still having some trouble in that department.

I probably stopped the pain meds sooner than I should have but I don't tolerate the meds well. They wreak havoc with my digestive system.  This time I ended up in the hospital with colitis - on Easter! So that was the end of the first round of pain medication.

Next time, I'll tell you about May and April.