Sunday, January 4, 2015

Glorious stores! Happy New Year II

So during the day while we were supposed to be sewing, Doris and I left and went to visit the FIVE different stores that Missouri Star Quilt Company has in the town.

I had read news stories about how the business had come about and was a huge employer for the town, but I wasn't prepared for how well things were done. I've been to a lot of quilt shops and some are better than others. These were definitely on the upper end of the spectrum. The five stores are all on the town's main street and uses the buildings already in place. They have been redone but in keeping with the town's history and the theme of the store. There were store front displays and all sorts of little things that really made each shop. Shops are divided up by what they sell. If you want to compare fabrics from different shops, you can ask somebody to run a bolt over for you. There is also a huge pile of (branded) umbrellas so you don't get wet when walking between stores in bad weather.

Ok, so the shops themselves. There is the flagship store called 'Missouri Star'. I don't have a picture of the complete outside, but inside is what counts. There are bolts and bolts of fabric. Yes, some are multiple bolts of the same thing, but they have a huge inventory. Fabrics are arranged by collection and all the major fabric companies are represented. This shop has only print fabrics, templates and notions. If you live within 2 hours of the store and you want to particular about your fabric choices, you should drive down here. I say two hours, because then I can justify my driving down. I've ordered fabric online and when it has showed up I've been disappointed. This way you get to see exactly what you are getting.





The next store we went into was the reproduction shop. I am not a fan of reproduction fabrics, but with the atmosphere I looked at them in a totally different light. It was mostly civil war, but also things like French General. There was also a selection of '30s fabrics.





Across the street was the holiday store. Mostly Christmas, but also Valentine's Day, Fall and Halloween. Again, the little things like the nice sign and the awning and the front window. The ceiling was lovely, so I took a picture of that.




I missed taking a picture of the batik store. I bought something there, so maybe that was why I was disappointed. It was the least decorated and the most sterile in my opinion.

Hamilton is the birthplace of J.C. Penney, the man. The solids fabric store is housed in what was the 100th J.C. Penney's store. It is called Penney's in a nod to the town and store's heritage. This was my favourite store. It was beautiful inside. Spacious and lovely wood floors. Tons of light and solids arranged by manufacturer and then colour. I liked that because I don't pre-wash. I figure that sticking with the same manufacturer means everything will shrink similarly. The store was filled with demo quilts and I recognized several from youtube tutorials.

There were also blenders and basics. This is where I did my shopping. I am participating Gen X Quilters Block of the Month and using Cotton + Steel basics. I need a few more colours to give some diversity to my blocks since I am not following the colour layout as instructed. I needed to do some coordinating and it was nice having Doris weighing in on my choices as well.






I genuinely had a great time. I am planning on going back. I think it would be a fun place to do a meet up. I can't recommend the town and the stores enough. It really is well done and I love that it has brought new life to the town.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Happy New Year!

I haven't posted in a while, but this post is a worthwhile one to read even though it is going to be a long one. Edit: I am splitting posts since just describing the sewing part is long enough without starting on the shops.

Yesterday was New Year's Eve, a day I hate. Most people reflect on their lives and aging on their birthdays, but it is New Year's Eve for me. I love my birthday and make it a gala celebration, but New Year's Eve I hunker down.

This year though I wasn't going to do that. I am not sure how I stumbled on it, but I saw Missouri Star Quilt Company was having a New Year's Eve Mystery Quilt event. I thought this was something that would be fun and worth sharing with somebody else. So I invited my friend Doris. We had SO MUCH FUN!!! Genuine fun where I felt welcomed and comfortable. The drive was super easy with Hamilton being so close to the interstate and only 2 hours south of Des Moines. Jenny was supposed to be there that day, but her family gifted her a cruise or something like that so she wasn't there. I don't begrudge her that. It was 6F yesterday.

The event started at 10 o'clock and we arrived about 9:45. I had struggled to get out of bed in the morning, so it was a little later than I'd planned. I had to park across the street and we were unloading our stuff from the car when two young men came over and asked if we needed help. They carried our stuff in for us! Great first impression. Later we found out that they do this for all events. Last fall there was a western themed sewing event and they dressed up in costume for that complete with cowboy hats supposedly.

The space was great and you can read about it here. There was so much food! And good food at that. This was my first real quilting event and I hadn't known what to expect, but it was like being among friends. The MSQC staff treated us all really well, just very well done. Attendees were very nice as well and all were complimentary of each other's fabric choices. Doris and I found a spot in the back near the ironing board which worked out great since we were able to talk to ladies while they ironed. I took my first sewing machine, a cheapo Janome that travels well. I signed up to rent a machine, but I worried about my seam allowance and went with the one I knew I could finish the quilt on.






This is how the mystery quilt worked: they gave fabric requirements and cutting instructions ahead of time. Different fabrics in different configurations were placed into bags marked with different clue numbers. At set intervals through the day, they would hand out clues so you knew what you were supposed to do. There was no way you would actually get the quilt top done. Well, maybe if you sewed fast and ironed quickly and didn't eat any snacks or wandered around looking at other people's projects. From the first clue I figured out it was some sort of repeated block pattern so I decided I would keep pace with the clues to get one complete block done and then work at my own pace for the rest. I did get a fair amount done and if I was more industrious today, I would have done more.

I LOVE my fabric choices. I don't have a picture of the fabric alone, but you will see them in the block. I used Alison Glass' Clover Sunshine that I found on sale at the Fabric Shack. I bought a solid which was described as textured. I thought that meant it looked textured. Well, it was textured with much give. It frays a lot, which means I need to get this done quickly and off to be quilted.

The block was a quatrefoil and I think is a pretty block. Doris and I were worried that it would end up being an ugly quilt, but as I said it would make a good story then. "My friend Doris and I . . . ugly quilt." It is amazing what a difference fabric choice makes. I think some of the older ladies thought my fabric was a bit much, but like I said I love my fabric.

I had a great time. Apart from the sewing adventure, it was fun to spend time and talk to Doris. She really is a lovely lady and her friendship has really enriched my life. Not just saying that, truly mean it.





Saturday, November 8, 2014

I am alive

I had a very stressful summer with work and I didn't enjoy it at all. I read somewhere that a sign that your emotional health is not good, is lack of participation in hobbies that used to bring you joy. I felt that way this summer. I didn't do any crafting because I was so drained physically and emotionally.

Well, it is fall/winter now and there is time to do things! Emily and I have been squeezing time in, usually on a Friday afternoon to get some sewing done. We started these embroidery samplers and it is going pretty well. I will post pictures on a later post. Embroidery isn't my strength though. I am not that familiar with stitches and so I keep defaulting to satin stitches.

Last night I started a new cross stitch project. It was a free DMC chart for a snowflake sampler. I love the symmetry of the pattern. I ran to the quirky cross stitch store after work and was looking for some overdyed floss. I considered opalescent fabric, but I think that would have overwhelmed the pattern. It is too 'clean' for opalescent and variegated  floss. Well, I was looking at embroidery floss when the one of the owners came over and pointed out this other kind of cotton thread I'd never heard of before. Caron Wildflowers described as "a single stranded hand-dyed cotton in variegated colors. It has more of a matte finish when stitched. Use one or more strands as required by the ground fabric. It is between a #8 and #12 pearl cotton in weight." I am really enjoying it and I did some reading from the company's website and it is a nice tale.

I figured out why not since this is just a pattern that you can use any colour. I really like the finish. It is more raised in my opinion and I love to run my fingers over the top of stitches. Gives a bit more dimension and while the Xs are clear, they fill out nicely.


Sunday, May 25, 2014

Laying out the squares

I love my colour combination- Burnt Orange, California Poppy, Granny Smith, Lupine and Midnight Heather. According to my spreadsheet I am 88.50% done. I should be done with everything but the peach tomorrow. Then I just have to wait till my yarn shows up. I randomized all the squares and put them on an X,Y grid. As I finish up squares I am laying them out so I can see what it looks like together.

The real battle starts after the squares are done. First I need to weave in all the ends. That is going to be LONG. I am going to block the squares. I was at my LYS Thursday and learned about blocking wires. I had never heard of them and since I am on a grid they would work really well. I just have to weave the wires through the spaces and then use T-pins to hold the wires in place. After all that I need to join the squares together. I am going to use Highland Green which is a more traditional green. It should coordinate well.



Wednesday, May 21, 2014

One down, 119 to go

 I have been a crocheting fool. I have finished almost all of the 4 round. I ran out of yarn for one of my colours so I am 6 shy of the 120. I went through this evening and sorted everything out for the final round. It has gone really well. I am going to start laying out as I finish up squares so I can see what it looks like all together. I have a regular green that I think I am going to use to join them all. I don't want to use a 'neutral', but then again green can be a neutral.



A finished square! Position 2,2 in the 11x11 grid.




Saturday, May 10, 2014

Granny Squares progress

I've kept up with my goal of 24 square rounds per day. I already know that when I get done I won't be lifting a crochet hook for a LONG time. It does take time, but I am enjoying it. There is a rhythm to crochet that I enjoy. It is also an easy pattern to do while watching TV. I've watch A LOT of Law and Order this week. There are marathons almost every day on some channel or the other. Everything I've learned about crime investigation and justice I've learned from L&O. It really is a good who.

So I am 40% done. I really love having a spreadsheet to keep track of how much I've completed and when I need to sort out for the next colour. On to the third colour!




Monday, May 5, 2014

I may actually finish something!

I did start my granny squares crochet blocks and so far I am staying on task. It does take some time, but I am liking the routine. I am doing 120 non-repeated blocks. I decided it was easier to work a colour at a time, rather than finishing a single block with all 5 colours.

So here is some math:
120 blocks*5 colour rounds= 600 rounds
600 rounds/30 days= 20 rounds/day

There are 31 days in May, but it was easier to assume there were 30. I have done 24 per day because it works out to 24 per colour. I am going gang busters now, but my guess I will slack off in a bit. Doing the extra 4 per the last 4 days has bought me a slack day.

I am using ziplock bags to keep things straight. I am famous for leaving things different places and then forgetting where I put them. My system is to put them in the bag of the next colour I'm supposed to crochet. I have a pivot table that shows me how to divide the colours for the next block. Told you I was a nerd! Granny squares are a bit wasteful, but if I weren't using the yarn for this I wouldn't be using it at all and that is even more wasteful.