April 26, 2008

Bound and Determined

Starting to bind the Dear Jane
...to finish this Dear Jane by the end of May!! I don't want to be stressing out about finishing it in June, as it will be a busy month getting ready for our trip, celebrating birthdays, weddings, and first communions, not to mention Aine's ballet recital... I really hope I can just focus on it now and in May and get it done. I am back stitching the binding onto the quilt for extra strength, so it is very slow going. The inside corners are not perfect, but they aren't horrible so I will continue. Any tips for getting them nice and smooth? I am doing something that Katy suggested: putting the binding on the quilt and sewing it down around the back as I go along, so that I don't have to go all the way around the quilt twice, lol, can get it totally done a little piece at a time.

 Gorgeous Bag from Marian
I got my gorgeous bag from Barbara's bag swap! Marian was worried about the bag as it took a few weeks to arrive from Holland, but it made it here. It was filled with a pattern, some chocolate and some Holland Drops licorice, most of which has disappeared already!

My socks are coming along well, on the second one, nearly down to heel flap. Any knitters reading this: which way do you prefer doing your socks? I would like to try some other ways of doing them, and have heard of socks on 2 circular needles, or one long one (magic loop), or doing two at the same time. What are your favorite ways, and any good links to the instructions (though I plan on Googling before my next pair of socks...)

A big THANK YOU  to so many of you that have sent or are sending mom a card! When I was in Bend I helped her start a blog for her journey to keep friends and family updated. If you are interested in checking in with her or saying hello, you can find her blog Cancer Warrior here. You have all been a wonderful support to me, for that I am very grateful.

Thank You Cards and Banana Breads for the Mommas
Last weekend I did a marathon baking session and gave out some thank you cards and banana bread to the moms that helped me out, 11 of them in total. I used my new Xyron machine to make recycled card graphics into new cards, and to make thank you stickers...what a cool toy for crafters!

It was a busy week with the kids, so I haven't done as much as I wanted to but made progress on socks and binding and that is pretty cool. Here is a gratuitous photo of the girls, cuddled up under the Dear Jane quilt after I had marked the scallops and cut it out. Aren't they cuties?
Girls Hanging out Under the Newly Marked Scalloped Dear Jane

April 17, 2008

Getting Back into the Swing of Things

I had a great visit with my mom and dad last week, and really loved all the great comments I got from everyone. Mom appreciates all the good thoughts and well wishes. I have a special request before I get to the quilting and knitting news... Mom is losing her hair now and the chemo has affected her more this second time around, she sounds a bit down now that her kids have both had to return back to their regular schedules. Could you help me cheer her up? I'd love her to get some cards or postcards from everywhere, anywhere in the world to put up on her card wall...it cheered me up looking at it as we put them up and I know that it gives her a lot of pleasure to see all those cards and what they mean. If you are up to sending a card, just email me at catherineoneill at carrigeen.net I'll send over her address. Mom got your card, Beth, and was pleased that my friends were thinking of her. Thank you.

On the crafty front, I finished my hand quilting project I started in Bend. Thimbleanna asked me why on earth I was taking a quilting class after quilting a Dear Jane, lol??  The main reason: I stab stitched nearly the whole quilt, one stitch at a time! I would love the learn that beautiful elegant rocking stitch I see so many doing. But...my teacher in Bend said my stitches were even and good enough, it didn't matter that my rocking stitch wasn't like hers, it got the job done, and that was good enough. I can't use a thimble to save my life, which is too bad as I spent a lot of money on a gorgeous Roxanne one! Maybe someday, but then again, I am getting the job done so why bother?? Here is the finished quilting practice. I think I might make it into a pillow.
Quilting

 I also started a pair of socks for a friend who has a big birthday in November (think I'm giving myself enough time to finish them?). I can't really show them on here, as I'd like her to have a surprise so maybe I'll just put a little teaser in... I'm fairly into knitting them now, as Barbara has been asking me lots of questions about sock knitting lately, due to her newfound obsession,  and it got me back into knitting again them again tool.
Sneaky Peek

I've put my cross stitch aside for now, as I need to get down to work on my Dear Jane to get it done in the next 10 weeks before our summer visit with mom and dad. The kids are really getting excited about it, the visit, not the cross stitch!
Cross Stitch Sampler

So, plans for the forseeable future: secret socks, Kate's quilt swap quilt, working on the Dear Jane scallops, some hand quilting on another little Dear Jane wallhanging I am working on. Would anyone be interested in owning this? I might do this as a giveaway in the future if anyone is interested! I'll have my full size one done about the same time.
Dear Jane Wallhanging

I've also gotten some lovely mail lately. Nicky and I did a swap and here is the gorgeous stitchery she sent me from Leanne Beasley!
Swap Gifties from Nicky

Barbara sent me a birthday present that arrived after I'd left for the States: sock yarn, how did she know?? :) Thank you!!!
Lovely Sock Yarn from Barbara

OOOOOH also...I got some MOO cards!! They are sooo cool!!! small business card like things with photos from my flickr account, very  cool!
Moo Cards

I promise to try to write more often instead of doing these huge posts with 20,000 photos. If you've gotten this far, thank you so much!

April 9, 2008

Time Has Flown, Time to Go Home...





My time has flown by on this visit to mom and dad, but I think that I have helped a little! I've dusted and cleaned, planted shrubs with dad in the garden, hung some of the quilts I have gifted them with over the last year, and made dinners, lunches, breakasts... and run errands...I just had to do a little bit of shopping while I was out and about changing snow tires (the day before we got snow here) and getting prescriptions, watch batteries, etc etc etc. Look at all the wonderful cards my mom has gotten from her friends, and some of my friends too! Thank you everyone for all the support, and check out the gorgeous angel that Barbara sent her. Mom is doing well after her first round of chemo, with minimal side effects. Long may it last, though they say chemo gets tougher as you go along, as the toxins build up in your system. It would be great if she could get away with minor effects!



Mom loved the brown hairy chemo cap I made here. Here she is sporting it with a devilish grin!



I also managed to finish two projects for mom while I was here, a roll brimmed hat, the last of the hats I planned to make her, and an ipod cozy made from some yummy Noro Silk Garden yarn! She wants to bring the ipod with her to chemo sessions and didn't want it slipping out of a holder, and this cozy is nice and tight so it shouldn't slip out. Here she is modelling her goodies, lol! You can also see the Bend Mountain quilt I hung up for them, my Christmas pressie for dad this year.



My dad and I have loved shopping at thrift stores since I was a kid (my brother and mom, not so much!) So here are my very restrained purchases on this trip from the thrifts stores, nothing cost more than $1 (including some vintage 90s heat and bond stuff which might work??) and the easter stuff cost pennies on sale!! Gotta love the bargains!!Nothing here cost more than $1

I've also bought myself a few other goodies on our travels around town, hee hee!! I've decided to start making my own cards to save a few euros on the zillions of cards we need to buy for kids parties etc etc!! I of course have gone overboard buying cheap scrapbooking papers and card stock, and a very expensive but cool sticker maker/magnet maker thingie. Made mom some fridge magnets of her favorite photos of the girls as a test...should be a fun tool. Maybe by next year I'll have made up my investment against the cards I would have had to buy, lol! Or maybe I will find it as addictive as fabric and yarn buying? Could scrapbooking be next...oh what a slippery slope!

I also managed to get myself two books that I wanted: Tilda's Hus English translation: Sew Pretty Homestyle, and Betz White's Warm Fuzzies book.



I found this gorgeous pottery with the Bend mountains on them...treated myself to these... My little Annie I bought just happened to find her way into the photo, along with a gorgeous mini art quilt that Susan at Art is Bliss sent to me. Thank you!



I managed to meet up with Kristin last night for a local Knit Night where I was able to make great progress on that hat. Everyone was very friendly and I hope to go a few times over the summer while the girls and I are in Bend. Thanks for the great welcome Kristin and Sarah!! Kristin and I went out for some yummy Thai food at a greal downtown restaurant and she gave me some great info on activities for kids this summer!



Tonight I went to a hand quilting class, nothing like taking advantage of the time I had here. I helped mom organize some photo albums this morning, taught my parents to start their own blogs, and hung up a quilt, so snuck away this evening for the class. I don't do a typical rocking stitch but I can do a few stitches at a time and the teacher said just do it the way that works for me. I haven't been able to properly figure out thimbles, so I don't use one... Here is the start of my practice piece, I love the variegated hand quilting thread I got!



Here are a few more photos of some pieces I have given my parents, a quilted heart wallhanging, the angel pillow, and a photo wallhanging of the girls.



If you have read this far, thanks for staying with this rather overstuffed post! Tomorrow I get back on a plane to head home. My girls and Dave won't want me back, the kids are enjoying all the playdates, and Dave is enjoying all the meals my friends keep giving him! I will have my work cut out for me making thank you cards and gifts for everyone!

I am loving the quilting, so will probably bring that on the airplane tomorrow. See you all back in Ireland!

April 2, 2008

Just Because...

A few days ago I commented on Thimbleanna's blog about the lovely gifts she'd recently got "just because". I said, isn't wonderful our community where we reach out across the globe to make these friendships and give of ourselves "just because" we feel a need to, "just because" we see something that we just know this person on this blog would just love. LOL, I recently suggested a swap with Jessi at Alabama Fiber Dreams when I read of her love for salt and vinegar chips/crisps. I offered to send her some Irish ones and then we decided to add in some yarn and other crafty goodness. I sent her husband some yummy Irish tea and some bread mixes... This is what she sent me, how spoiled am I!! Her own beautiful handspun yarn and stitch markers, some lovely Sophies Toes sock yarn, beautiful knitting needles (how did she know that I'd love to get bunches of these decorative needles just for the beauty of putting them in a jar in my studio!!), a knitting journal, some cheetos hee hee, sweets for the kids, an amazing huge quilt kit, and a scrap quilting book! Jessi, I owe you big, I don't feel we made a fair trade, I got so much more than I sent out!!
Great Trade with Jessi

And if I wasn't already lucky enough with this swap, this week I have been surprised by two packages I received "just because"!!

A few weeks ago I was reading Gail Pan's blog and admired her sampler that has just been published in the latest Australian Homespun magazine. I commented on her blog about how I loved it and had to figure out how to get the magazine over to me here in Ireland. Dawn Hay read my comment and followed the link to my blog and generously offered to send me the magazine as a congratulations for getting that pesky Irish version of a full driving license. How wonderful are quilters?? I received her package today, and there was a lot more than a magazine in it! She sent some squares for Aine's quilt, some 3 Sisters Simplicity charms, 3 gorgeous Australian design fat quarters, some gorgeous multicolor DMC floss, a cute vintage sewing machine button, some beads and cute notepads for the girls, and some Debbie Mumm panels! Above and beyond again. How lucky am I!!
Wonderful Package from Dawn

Then arrived a package today that I didn't even realize was making its way to me from England. Anne Bebbington made these amazing and sweet heart stitcheries for the girls (they have them hanging in their room now!) and this gorgeous heart quilt for me, for my birthday, and for everything else that has been happening this year, "just because". What a surprise these beautiful handmade gifts were. They brought tears to my eyes. 
Wonderful Surprise from Anne

I am grateful beyond words to all of you. And very spoiled.

When I come back from spending time with my parents, I want to send back some goodness into the world. I'm sensing some sort of a giveaway....stay tuned in a few weeks!!

On another note, I did send out a few little packages today, my Pay it Forward gift is in the mail, as is my bag swap packet, a very small gift for Dawn ( I need to get you more!!), and a few goodies for Barbara.

I am pretty much packed for the trip, just need to get my cross stitch organized in my carryon bag and then my toiletries in the morning. The house is presentable, and the 12 generous mommas all have Dave's work and mobile numbers, and he has a cheat sheet full of numbers and info about where the kids will be on any given day. I hope everything works out okay!! I know I've said it before, but I feel very lucky to have such support in real life and in our blogging community.

Thank you.