Thursday, July 30, 2009

I’ve Been RAK’ed…Twice!

It is such an awesome feeling to know that there are some very amazing people out there in blogland.  It seems like every day something happens that either brings tears to my eyes or has me shaking my head in disbelief.

berrydividerxSeveral weeks ago, Edie (no blog) from Texas wrote to me about my needlecases and we started to communicate.  Without going into too much detail, we started talking about x-stitching and I had mentioned that while blog surfing, I had seen a needlecase stitched by the Blackbird Design gals from their book, Thank You, Sarah Tobias that I would ♥ to stitch.  Edie mentioned that she too wanted the same book and told me that she would ask about it at her local needlework shop.

She did just that and was told that the book sold very quickly and was out of print and that she would keep her eye out for one…just in case.

A couple of weeks later, I received an email from Edie asking for my snail mail address.  Unbeknownst to me, Edie had attended a retreat and it just so happened that the Blackbird gals were teaching there.  About a week later when I went to pick up my mail…well, you guessed it…

DSCN0814This was waiting for me!  Be still my ♥.


I can’t recall exactly how Susan and I started chatting, but we also started talking about stitching and how it was a dream of mine to stitch a sampler one day.  Susan told me that she loved to x-stitch and linked me to a few sites where I would find some free sampler patterns.

Well one thing led to another and I sent Susan some off cuts of fabric that I had in my stash for her aspiring Baltimore quilt and she told me that since she knew that I love pincushions, that she would make me one.

I went to the post office today because I am expecting a few things and guess what was there waiting for me?  A little package from Australia. 

I waited til I got home before opening it and it’s a good thing I did because of what I found inside…

DSCN0812The most awesome sampler pincushion I’ve ever seen!  The photo does not do it justice.  The stitching is exquisite and the little red dots around the perimeter are individually sewn beads and just beyond the beads are the tiniest French knots.  My heart is still pounding.

Random Acts of Kindness…RAK’s…is there anything more ♥ wrenching?

Edie and Susan, you’ve both touched my ♥ more than you’ll ever know.  Thank you both sooooo very much.  And before I start to blubber (Mr. Painted Quilt’s word), I’d better end here.

Happy stitching!

Kaaren  ♥

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Christmas in July!

Australia, England, Holland and now Italy!

I am truly driving the gals in our little post office absolutely crazy…and I love it! They used to be amazed at how much mail I received from the states but now they consider that just ordinary and run-of-the-mill.

So yes…Italia…a most beautiful country with so much history. It’s been about 25 years since I was there. Too long, I’m afraid.

Bear with me a moment before I show you my goodies and allow me to share a bit of my dh’s humor. When I returned from the post office, he was in the kitchen with his head in the refrigerator when I came in. I told him I received a parcel from Italy that I thought might be my CIJ swap gift, to which he replied, “Good. Do you think it might be spaghetti? I’m starving.” I could have killed him.

DSCN0802Such pretty packages, all tied with red ribbons and a personal note from Renata telling me about the gifts she made and how she’s been following my blog since I was assigned as her partner but didn’t want to leave any comments until after I received my gifts.

DSCN0803The first package I unwrapped contained some floss and Christmas fabric.

DSCN0804Next were these awesome crocheted tree ornaments. Can you see the gold beads on the tips of each star?

DSCN0805Then there was an angel ornament and a little sack filled with rick rack, Christmas confetti and buttons…and

DSCN0806 a Christmas apron made from waffle weave fabric…and

DSCN0808a santa panel.

Don’t quit on me yet because there’s more!

DSCN0809A santa gift sack made from the same waffle weave fabric and inside the sack I found…

DSCN0810the cutest machine appliquéd table runner.

Thank you so much Renata for your wonderful gifts. They will always have a special meaning for me, especially around Christmastime.

I would also like to extend a special thanks to both Stephanie and Linda for hosting this swap. Their organizational skills and professionalism were/are outstanding. I just can’t imagine the task of keeping all of us women in line and on target.

So having said that, when’s the next one? (wink)

Happy stitching!

Kaaren ♥

Monday, July 27, 2009

What Did I Do When Computer-less?

Eat?  More than I wanted to.

Sleep?  Did that.

Read?  A little but found it very hard to concentrate.

Eat?  Yep.

Garden?  Nope…it rained the entire week.

Call AOL?  At least 6 times asking where my modem was.

Eat?  Oh yeah.

Fidget?  Lots.

Sew?  I did indeed!

berrydividerx A couple of weeks ago when reading the Blackbird Designs blog, Barbara and Alma offered a free quilt pattern which I just fell in with and promptly added it to my ‘to do’ list.  I stand to be corrected but I think the block is the Lemoyne Star. 

When my modem died, I knew that I would be without my computer for at least a week.  It was then that I decided to proceed with the quilt top.

The design had a vintage feel to it and that’s what probably attracted me to it initially.  I wanted to maintain that look in my version.

The Blackbird quilt is made from a jelly roll and since I didn’t have one, I decided to use some Thimbleberries fabric from my stash.  I adjusted the individual square size from 2 1/2” to 3” and proceeded from there.

DSCN0795It took me three days to cut and piece the quilt and the completed top measures approximately 70” X 70”.

DSCN0794I also took the liberty to venture from the Blackbird gals rendition by adding a Seminole border but realized afterward that I probably should have added a smaller 1 1/2” border between it and the pieced quilt top first.  My inexperience reared it’s ugly head here.  Sigh.

DSCN0796But having said that, I’m really pleased with the way it turned out.  All my points were spot on and not one block needed to be squared up.  That’s a first for me!

I am going to have it machine quilted and I can envision feather wreaths in each of the connecting blocks.  Can you offer any quilting suggestions for the pieced blocks?

Some day I’d like to make another quilt like this one using only two colors…a variety of turkey reds and white.

berrydividerx In conclusion…

The positive side to not having my computer was the making of this quilt top which probably would not have happened til a much later date.

The negative side to not having my computer is I probably gained a couple of pounds simply by eating out of frustration.

Happy stitching!

Kaaren  ♥

Sunday, July 26, 2009

F-R-I-E-N-D-S Swap Addendum

Yesterday I showed you the amazing gifts I received from Mai in the F-R-I-E-N-D-S Swap hosted by Khris.

DSCN0789 To briefly explain how the swap worked, Khris randomly paired us with a swap partner about three months before the mailing deadline.  During that time, we were to contact our partners by email, follow their blogs and generally get to know our partners better in order to make the gifts more personal.

Today, I’d like to share with you my gifts to Mai.

DSCN0643As you can well imagine, I was extremely apprehensive about what I would make for Mai as her sewing talents are exceptional when compared to this rookie’s.  But I bit the bullet, threw caution to the wind and ‘just did it’.  Mai loved what I sent her and my apprehensions were put to rest.

berrydividerx Blogging and swapping have opened many new doors for me and I continue to be amazed with all the wonderful people out there. 

Have a super day and as always,

Happy stitching!

Kaaren  ♥ 

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Amazing Swap Gifts!

Timing is everything…so the saying goes…but in this case, it couldn’t have been more OFF!  Last Friday, on the same day that my modem was fried by lightening, I received my F-R-I-E-N-D-S swap parcel from Mai and I had to wait for an entire week to thank her because I just received the replacement modem yesterday. 

In all honesty, I think it was the longest week of my entire life.  I came to the realization that I don’t need cigarettes or alcohol or even food for that matter…well maybe a little morsel between keystrokes…but I NEED the internet! 

So rewind to last Friday.  I went to the post office to collect my mail and there it was, a little card in my box telling me to go inside to collect a parcel.  When I handed the card to the gal behind the counter, she said that I had a package from The Netherlands.  I just knew it had to be my swap gift from Mai!

I raced home and was just about to open the package when Sam reminded me about taking photos.  Whew!  I grabbed the camera and then the fun began!

DSCN0762As soon as I saw the Dutch-themed wrapping paper, I knew I had to share the excitement with my best friend, Lucie.  I gave her a quick call and she was at my house in less than 5 minutes.  I really did wait til she arrived before proceeding.

DSCN0764First, the card.  It says it all.  Then…

DSCN0766the ‘piece de resistance’…a sewing case that Mai designed and made especially for me.  My heart was doing flip-flops and I was in seventh heaven!

DSCN0767The little wooden shoes are attached to the zipper closures to assist with the opening and closing.  Did you notice the Dutch windmill and floral motif?  Exquisite!

DSCN0770Inside, I found a multitude of treasures, all wrapped in the same Dutch-themed wrapping paper.  Can you see the floral pincushion in the upper left corner?  It actually snaps to the inside of the case to keep it stationary.

DSCN0772The first treasure I unwrapped was a windmill pincushion, another original, designed and made by Mai.

DSCN0773Tucked into the pockets of the pincushion were a pair of scissors, a package of needles and of course, some thread.  And…

DSCN0777some Dutch-themed fabric which I already have plans for…and…

DSCN0779a quilt pattern which I might need help with because it’s written in Dutch…and…

DSCN0780more needles, two embroidered butterflies made by Mai’s Mom and the most beautiful silver sewing charms that are just destined for my scissor fobs!  And…

DSCN0783a blue and white mug reminiscent of traditional Delftware which now sits next to my computer to hold pens and pencils because I’m afraid I’ll break it if I use it for tea or coffee.  And…

DSCN0785some Dutch wafer cookies which between Lucie, Sam and myself, didn’t last too long…and

DSCN0787some blue and white coasters.

DSCN0789I am truly blessed not only to have received such incredible gifts, but more importantly, to have made a new friend from a country that I had the good fortune to visit not long after I graduated from university and still to this day.

DSCN0790I brought my sewing case to my Tuesday night stitching group and as you can well imagine, the ladies were VERY impressed.

Thank you again, Mai for your talent, thoughtfulness and friendship.  And thanks also to Khris for organizing this swap.  You have both touched my heart very deeply.

Happy stitching!

Kaaren ♥

Friday, July 24, 2009

I’m Back!

My new modem arrived about 20 minutes ago!  Woo hoo!

berrydividerxToday is the 8th day I’ve been without internet service and let me tell you, I don’t know whether I would have lasted another day without losing at least part of my sanity.  I tend to be a creature of habit and my ‘schedule’ has been severely altered and interrupted over the last week.

However, there is a silver lining to every cloud.  I did manage to complete a quilt top and I also received a most awesome swap package, both to be talked about in a separate post.

I’m also the proud and elated owner of a new laptop.

So without further ado, I’m outta here to read and catch up on all your news.  Y’all come back soon!

Happy stitching!


Friday, July 17, 2009


Just a short note to let you know that the modem on my computer died this morning as a result of a lightening bolt that hit very close to our house. I was on line when I smelled something burning, looked at my modem and all the lights were out. Two seconds later, I was without internet service.

After speaking with my ISP, it looks like it'll take until Thursday of next week before I receive my new modem so I'll be incommunicado til then. I am writing this from my friend Lucie's computer.

I guess there's an upside to everything because...

1. My DH said that I can buy the new laptop that I've been whining about and...

2. Hopefully I'll have lots of new projects to show you when I'm back on line.

Have a super time and it goes without saying that I'll miss all my blogging friends.

Happy stitching!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Playing Catch Up

While I was having fun making swap gifts over the past couple of months, many of my ongoing projects were relegated to the back burner.  Now that they’re all done and gone, I’ve been able to spend some time playing catch up.

I fell three months behind on my Tisket-A-Tasket BOM.  This past weekend, I was able to complete the wool versions of the May…

DSCN0750 June…

DSCN0752and July blocks. 

DSCN0753I still have to do the doo-dad embellishing but I’ll wait until the quilt is assembled before adding them.

I will probably start the traditional needle turn appliqué of the same three blocks in the next couple of days.

berrydividerxNot long after all my other swaps were put to bed, I joined the In The Good Ol’ Summertime Mini Quilt Swap…yeah, I know, I know…and as a result of some unseasonably cool and rainy weather over the last week, the last stitch was sewn last evening.

DSCN0756It measures about 18” x 18” and is worked in the traditional redwork style of embroidery and I hand quilted it.

DSCN0758This little guy will be going to it’s new home in France sometime between now and September 21st, the mailing deadline. 

berrydividerxComputer Problem Update:  About a week ago I downloaded an automatic Explorer 8 update prompt which caused many issues with my computer.  I performed a ‘system restore’ which clearly didn’t fix the problems I was having.  Yesterday morning I took it in to our local computer shop where the techie fixed it for me and it appears to be working like new again.  Evidently there have been a lot of problems with the Explorer update and Windows XP.  The only system it seems to be compatible with is Vista and he said even that’s not always the case.  So, exercise caution  if you happen to get this same update prompt.

The Moral of the Story: Computers are like men…you can’t live with them and you can’t live without them.  THE END

berrydividerxHappy stitching!

Kaaren ♥   

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

I’ve Been Bitten…

by the swap bug!  C-H-O-M-P!

I’ve only been blogging since January and I’m still in awe with the wonderful people I’ve had the good fortune to ‘meet’ as a result.  Although I’m not particularly fond of computers…simply because I don’t understand them and as a result, they have this uncanny ability to intimidate me…it has become a sometimes stubborn ‘friend’ who has brought the world to my doorstep.

berrydividerxWhen I started reading about how much fun people were having with swaps, my curiosity got the better of me.  With some hesitation, I joined my first swap which was hosted by Julie in the great land of OZ, who coincidently, also happened to be my swap partner.  To make a long story short, she and I have become ‘best buds’, even though I need a translator because I don’t understand half of what she says…OZ-isms, you see.  VBG!

Since then, I have participated in 4 other swaps that have also sent me globetrotting.  My gifts have been made and sent and all but one have been received by my swap partners.  The most recent one was just posted yesterday and has quite a distance to travel.

berrydividerx So just when the last swap bug bite was healing quite nicely, I got bitten again…not once but twice!

GetAttachment Melissa is hosting a signature block swap.  For more details, click on the photo above and you can read all about it there.  Wouldn’t it be fun to make and receive enough signed blocks to make a quilt from friends and yet-to-be friends?  I think it’s a great idea and I’d love to have one of yours.  The blocks are really easy to make so be sure to have a look.

The second swap I joined is the Stitching Angel swap.  You may link to it here or just click on the button on my sidebar for more information.


Since yesterday, I’ve been unable to right click on photos to save them as I have done in the past.  When I right click on a photo…or in this case a swap button, the window appears to ask what I’d like to do with the picture and I click on ‘save as’ as I’ve done in the past.  When I check in my stored pictures, the photo is no where to be found.

Also, when I try to add a picture to my sidebar using the ‘Add a Gadget’ and ‘Picture’ feature, the ‘browse’ feature does not appear anywhere in the window thereby preventing me to upload pictures to my blog.

Can anyone P-L-E-A-S-E help me with my Blogger woes and computer illiteracy before I toss this machine out the nearest window?

Happy stitching!

Kaaren  ♥

Monday, July 13, 2009

A Bit of Everything!

My Christmas in July swap gifts are wrapped and packaged. Now I’m just waiting for the post office to open so I can send them on their merry (ho, ho, ho) way. 

DSCN0739They were ready to go on Saturday…the first day of mailing…but in our little town, the post office isn’t open on Saturday. Shortly, they’ll be taking flight on a voyage across many oceans to some far and away exotic land.  Try as I might, I just couldn’t squeeze myself into the box.


In addition to swap gifts, I finally managed to find some decent sized boxes in which to mail my giveaway gifts as well.  So hold on gals, your goodies will be on their way in a couple of hours.DSCN0743Can you imagine what the ladies in the post office will say when they see me coming in with this lot?  I think they’ll have a coronary, especially when they see all the different places they’re going to!  And we might even have to get a mortgage on our house to pay for the postage!  VBG

DSCN0745Believe it or not, our quest for boxes took us into the BIG city so of course while I was there, I just had to stop at my LQS where there just ‘happened’ to be a sale on all of their fabric.  I bought some Thimbleberries fabric at a great price and I just might have to go back next week to get some different stuff and take advantage of the sale that continues until the 24th.

DSCN0748I just couldn’t resist picking up some wool to add to my stash…after all, it was calling my name!

berrydividerxSaturday’s crummy weather allowed me to play catch up on some of my stitching projects that had been placed on the back burner while I was busy with swap gifts…but I’ll save those for another post.

Happy stitching!

Kaaren  ♥