Friday, December 26, 2014

December 2014

Make new friends, but keep the old. One is silver, the other is gold.
The Pueblo West Quilters’ Holiday Party kicked off December on a high note. The Holiday committee was determined, determined to have all quilters leaving the meeting with smiles - no -  mouth-stretching grins.
They succeeded. Between the pin cushion table d├ęcor/gifts, the games: Card Bingo, Pin Cushion Memory, Guess the #, oh, and Thread the Needle (Are you serious?!!!); and the food, the yummy, yummy food, the Pueblo West Quilters’ laughter filled the room.
On a serious note, Helen tried conducting the fastest business portion of the meeting, but when 9 LUV quilts pushed her goal of 100 LUV quilts for the year to 148; well, let’s just say Helen did a fantastic job of herding the holiday spirits.
Sandy Strickland demonstrated how to add a sleeve to your quilts for hanging. She needed one so she turned to experienced sleeve-making quilters and the Internet. How to Make a 4” Quilt Sleeve
That’s why PWQ is successful. Quilters are happy to share their experiences year-round and not limit the sharing just around the holidays. New quilters bring a wealth of information to the guild too. Their freshness introduces new techniques and tools into the mix and brings old ideas back to life.
Vicki Becker presented December’s BOM. Four Part Strip Block. 12.5” x 12.5” unfinished block 2.5” x 26” strip. 3 different strips from the same color family (your choice) and a scant ¼” seam allowance. Thanks Marcia Hohn for these instructions.
The 2015 Pueblo West Quilters Board: Prez – Lisa Mollenauer, VP – Sandy Strickland, Treasurer – Pat Graham, and Sec – Debbie Mueller.
Imagine a  fabulous transition inserted here from business to holiday organizing ….
The Holiday season tends to stress society out more than any other time of the year.
Did you find time to quilt during December? Did you sneak off to finish those quilts in secret? Did you have everything you need in order to finish those quilting projects?
When company’s invading your home, did you move your organized “disorganized” projects and when you stole a moment to work on the project, you were unable to find the section/fabric pieces you needed?
Wouldn’t it have been great if your home was sooooo organized that there was room for all your works-in-progress and the rest of your active life – like the holidays?
Maybe that’s what I needed for Christmas. Peace within myself that extends to my environment. A place for everything and everything in its place. Here’s  the catch… I don’t know where a thing’s place is.
Well, put it somewhere and see if it works in that place. If it doesn’t, move it to a new place. Keep moving it until it finds its own spot.
Yeah, like that works
As I prepare for the holidays and 2015, I thought I’d try to organize myself first, then my studio. Well, that didn’t happen because I’ve had this new sewing machine sitting in its box for months and curious me decided to unwrap it in the midst of the holiday preparations. You know what that meant … trying to set it up in the studio where chaos threw up already.
I had a functioning workspace with my machines up and running, a cutting area and ironing station. There were totes with various projects I’m working on, stacked neatly in the corner. I even had a clear floor, but that was last February. Since February, I began more projects, took a few workshops, attended meetings where new ideas spilled into my brain and overflowed into my studio. The studio functioned as I tripped over piles of quilting projects and well, just piles of half-baked ideas.
Hence, a place for every thing and every thing in its place sounds sooo good but reality dictates otherwise. At least for me. . So I do the next best thing. Like scissors. I have multiple pairs of scissors in several places and that works for me. But the studio, I needed outside help.
I called a sister (She said she had no idea how to resolve my dilemma.) and a friend. My friend came over and we rearranged the furniture until a workable solution resolved. Turns out a craft table I purchased about 20 years ago became part of the solution.
Just goes to show you that throwing away (removing) something if you don’t use it within a year is wrong advice. Just sayin’….
Anywhoooo, I have a functional, messy studio and I’m able to work in it again.
Organizing your studio. Where do you start?
Let’s take some advice from an expert. (An expert is someone who lives out of town. In this case, my husband read this advice from a woodworker.) I’ll transpose in my own words…
When you’re in the middle of organizing, you’ll find yourself in the explody phase and that’s when you tend to give up and quit. (DH had a vision of me and my clutter.) The advice is to suck it up and work through this explosion because it’s well worth the effort to get to the finish.
Change is good but it’s the transitions that are hard to get through. I tend to stop when the explody phase overwhelms me (So DH’s vision is sooo on the mark.) but if I plow through, then maybe I’ll have a different outcome.
So what do you do in order to maintain the clutter from preventing you to work toward finishing your quilts? Do you put everything in its place at the end of the work session or do you, like me, wake up one day and wonder how the mess happened? Again.
I keep trying to stay organized but I honestly don’t think it’s going to happen. More stuff comes in than goes out and when I’m focusing on other things, keeping things neat isn’t a high priority for me. We won’t mention the myriad of ideas rattling in my head where some escape and I’m coordinating fabrics to see if the idea is viable and then leave the forlorn pile as I Oh look! Squirrel
Whatever I do, piles appear. I shove them out of the way, ignoring them until the piles collapse upon each other and there’s no room to cut, iron, sew, serge, or quilt. Why isn’t there a cleaning fairy to put things away in their place when I’m done for the day?
“It only takes five minutes each day to tidy up your work area.”
Oh squirrel!
I can take one step and forget where I’m going so five minutes is lost on me.
But it all boils down to the place. Where do I put something if it’s not in a pile? A pile is a perfect place. I know where something is. Well….. I use to know where things were until I accumulated too many things. Now I’m surprised at the things I find – still in their shopping bags.
Don’t bring it into the house and you won’t have a storage issue in the first place.
Don’t buy it. You don’t need it.

All good advice. And I do resist purchasing things. Lots of times. I’m even better than I was 20 years ago. Things still get into my hands and are purchased. They still come into my home and I still have habits of piling.
So instead of trying to change me, why not try to work with my habit regarding piling so I can function and create? Why can’t I produce quilts just the way I am?
Guess what? I can.
When I become aware of my I can’t function in this mess stage, I straighten and tidy until the next time the chaos creates another pile avalanche.
Why am I writing about organizing when you want to read about the holiday spirit? After the holidays are over and you’re straightening up your home, straighten up your studio, straighten up your mind and prep for the new year.
Make new quilts, but keep the old. One is silver, the other is gold.
It’s the same with your quilting projects. It’s okay to have new quilting ideas and projects but continue working on the old quilting works-in-progress until they turn into gold, I mean, finished. And if you’re not going to finish them, remove them from your home. I give you permission. Why keep them? Bag it or put it into a bin and give it to someone who wants your UFPs. Remove the stress from your home, your life.
May the finished quilt piles be prolific in 2015,
Cactus Kilter Quilter

PS. May I have the recipe to the Pumpkin Roll with Carmel Sauce? Please oh please?!!!

Monday, November 17, 2014

November, 2015

November is one of the highest attended Pueblo West Quilters meetings of the year. It’s consistently has been popular for several Novembers. Why?
The program is PWQ’s Annual Challenge Quilt Showcase. There’s a core group within the group that presents their challenge quilts so the meeting’s guaranteed to have eight to a dozen quilts showcased.
Also, November is the push month for those last minute LUV quilts and Wounded Warrior quilts to make their appearance.  Let’s not forget the pillowcases either.
And finally, the Sew-N-Share portion of the meeting tends to showcase the quilted gifts PWQs have made for their families and friends.
But this year’s meeting was different.
It went way beyond expectations.
But first, a little business…
The President’s Block is any 2014 Block of the Month you loved making in muted greens and off-whites. If you need a third fabric, select burgundy red, or a fourth fabric, gold. None of that neon color family because that’s soooo not Helen. The blocks will be collected at December’s meeting because you know Helen; she’s quick in creating and completing her quilts. Including the labels!!!
The Fat quarter for December is Christmas fabric and the Block of the Month is the Disappearing 9-Patch Block Variation in scrappy fabrics of greens, golds, and beiges.
Here’s a visual of the pattern, different sizes. Mary-Frances calls it  Disappearing Nine-patch, Variation 1 (Double Trouble). Scroll down the page until you get to this variation.
Remember, PWQ’s BOM begins with two scrappy 9.5” x 9.5” 9-patch blocks and we’ll end up with two 8.5” x 8.5” disappearing 9-patch blocks. The square size is 3.5” x 3.5” and you’ll need 4 gold squares, 4 beige squares, and 10 green scrappy squares. Oh boy! It’s dig into your scrap stash time!
To create your 9-patch blocks and align with Mary-Frances’ pix, use the 9-patch sample where she has the 5 navy squares in the corners and center and the light blue for the side squares. Place your green squares where the navy fabric goes and the gold (beige) fabrics where the light blue goes. Remember one block is greens and gold and the other block is greens and beige. Also remember to measure from the center seams when cutting, not from the edge of the block. Why? Because that’s what Jacqueline Bryson told us to do when she presented the block. (I think it’s because of the seam allowances for the external strips but don’t quote me cause I got distracted.)
Karen Stiphout presented some timely organizing tips. She uses ornament divider boxes to separate her scrappy squares and strips: 1.5”, 2”, 2.5”, 3”, etc… and one is for her bias tapes, seam bindings and rickrack. And this time of the year is great for picking up charms with your name on them. You can attach the charm to your scissors, rotary cutter, or any other tool. When you take them to Sew Days or quilting retreats, you’ll easily locate your tools when it’s time to pack up your supplies. (Also, it’s not a bad idea to tag your fabric scissors so your family knows to keep their grubby little paws off them. Maybe I should do this so I’d remember!) Oh and if you’re thinking about getting your quilting organized, don’t forget to go to the hardware and sports stores for possible organizing equipment.
Wait for the sales!
The LUV quilt goal for the year was 100 and PWQ was 4 quilts shy of that goal coming into the meeting. I don’t know the total but I do know we overshot that 100 quilts by at least a dozen, if not two dozen quilts!
The Sew N Share portion …. Can you say spectacular? Check out the pictures that were taken. They don’t convey the feelings and atmosphere of the evening but you’ll get a sense of some of the quilts, pillows, and totes shown.
A break was needed prior to the program so the Board had cake to celebrate the LUV Quilts 100 mark. But to encourage its members to continue making quilts, there was a HUGE fabric sale! PWQ is raising funds to purchase batting for 2015’s LUV quilts. I can’t imagine why...
Ummmm… Could this fabric sale be the result of the other challenge? The unofficial challenge several members declared at the beginning of the year? The one where they stated they weren’t going to purchase fabric but use fabrics from their stash? That challenge?
I wonder how many remembered their declarations. I mean, it was 10 months ago and a lot happened. I held out for what, a month? A month and a half? I needed black fabric in April so I remembered that. I’m sure I’ve purchased – wait! I know I’ve purchased fabric in March for my Mystery Quilt Retreat I attended. But I didn’t purchase the fabrics for the 2014 Quilt Challenge because that was part of my challenge to the challenge. And yes, I did bring my finished quilt. It didn’t have a name then but a few days ago the name came to me. Hunter’s Hanky.
Back to the regularly scheduled program…
A packed house appreciated quilt after quilt after quilt!
Over two dozen quilters took the 2014 PWQ Quilt Challenge and brought their quilts, their partial quilts, their tops, their partial tops, and their pieces. Right off the bat was words to the effect, “I didn’t follow the rules.” Followed by several other quilters who … Did it their owwwwn way.
A couple did follow the rules but the rest of us? Well, that’s the beauty of the quilts. It was a Mystery Quilt Challenge and every one’s mystery was solved in a unique way. We began with different fabric choices, was given the same directions over three months, and ended up in very different places. It was fabulous! The quilts came out gorgeous and everyone had a great time telling their journeys.
November is definitely one of the highlight months of the year. Quilters come to see quilts and quilts they saw. I wonder what next year’s challenge will be?
In the meantime, if you’ve paid for the Holiday Party for December 1st, I’ll see you there. If you didn’t pay, I’ll see you the first Monday in January – January 5th – with your bags stuffed with quilts to Sew n Share.

May your holiday season be stress-free and filled with quilting dancing in your heads.
May your holiday season be stress-free and filled with quilt designs in your heads.
Try it again …….

May your holiday season be stress-free and filled with finished quilts on your beds.
Cactus Kilter Quilter

Thursday, October 23, 2014


I’m suffocating. Seriously.
The holidays are fast approaching; the 2014 PWQ Quilt Challenge is due in mere days. Days, I tell ya. I’ve got projects all over the place and none are completed nor near completion.
I’m suffocating.
The leaves are changing, stripping from their trees. Exposed. Naked. Balding on top. Whatever. Without coverage, you can see the skeletons, the bare bones, the flaws. Exposure. The fears.
I need … to hide. Cover-up. Have more time. Find my way out of the UFPs (Unfinished Projects). But how? If I move this project to work on that project, then this other project will get lost in the shuffle and I need to finish that project before I can work on this project, but I need to find/purchase a thingamabob in order to finish the first project. …
Kind of like Who’s on first? Isn’t it? To refresh your memory:
So I got an idea … what if I put the various UFPs into bins or totes? They’re be ready to go and stackable. I can pull one out and work on it and later, put it away and work on another UFP. Not bad. Not bad at all. Totes to contain the chaos.
Aaah, there’s a trick. I know there is. What is it? Oh, there it is. Buried in the middle of the last paragraph. Here, let me show you.
Work on it and later, put it away.
Did you notice it? Let me really bring it to your attention.
Put it away.
Now do you see it? After you’re finished working on a project, take an extra five/ten minutes to clean up your workspace, put tools and equipment away (or ready for your next work session), and put your project away – all the pieces – until the next time you’re able to work on it. Maybe, dare I say, make a note of where you left off or what you need to gather.
I know, I know. It seems so simple that you don’t need to be told this, but guess what? Cactus Kilter Quilter needs all the tips and advice she can get. Even from herself. (Did you ever notice how things just come out of her mouth and if you wait a second, you’ll know how she hears what she’s just said and react. Most times she’s just as surprised/shocked/clueless/amazed as you are.) So before you get all riled up, CKQ will be reading this blog and think, “Put it away for now, that’s a good idea.”
Oh and the squirrel factor.
You haven’t heard about the squirrel factor?
I’m working on a quilt and reaching for – Oooh! Squirrel! That’s an interesting mini tote. I gotta make me one of those. I think I have the same tote pattern in a larger size and I can quickly resize it to these new dimensions. Wait! Wasn’t I working on a quilt? The 2014 Challenge quilt? Oh yeah, I needed the fabric to make binding and if I have to make one more squirrel I’m going to scream!
A nice hot cuppa tea is just what I need. With a dollop of cream. Mmmmm, you know, a nip of peppermint on this cold day is just the ticket … Hours later, oh yeah, the quilt.
The squirrel factor. Trix® is not just for kids, silly rabbit.
October’s meeting was all touchy, feely.
Linda Beauchamp spoke about how to get kids involved in quilting from a young age (too young to know better) and before you knew it, six and eight-year olds are whipping out professional, award-winning quilts, dolls, totes, and sandwiches – and not just the PB&J ones either!
Who didn’t get excited about kids and quilting? I wanted to gather the kids from across the street and form my own Kids Quilting Campouts. Oooh, another squirrel!
The guild made holiday mug rugs during the program. Mine? In pieces. One of those suffocating projects I was telling you about earlier. Why? I got an idea… I could turn this huge mug rug into a bowl rug for microwaving my soups or eat sugared popcorn from, or turn it into a small wall hanging or something beyond being a mug rug… (The brain is exhausting me.) Find a tote CKQ. Add it to your To-Do Tote Stack and …squirrel.
Evie Sheldon demonstrated the square within the square block. But this one’s different because you take two squares, different sizes, fold and stitch four seams and voila! You’re done. I’ll go see if I can find something on the Internet … my instructions didn’t make it home with me.
Ta Dah! I found Peg Spradlin demonstrating the Fold and Sew method here.
CKQ is using her brain to remember the square sizes but she thinks it’s the 10” and 5” squares, just like Peg demo to get a 9” finished block. (9.5” x 9.5” unfinished block) so that means if you have precuts, you can whip them up easy-peasy. Especially the Wounded Warrior blocks because Evie recommended red 5” center square and blue 10” outer square or blue 5” center square and white 10” outer square. You do know you’re able to put your names in the drawing for the regular blocks even if you make WW blocks, don’t you?
December’s party, Dec. 1st @ 6pm, dining @ 6:30pm will be catered by last year’s fabulous caterer, Lora Osborne. Cost: $10 to be paid by Nov. 2nd. If you don’t pay by this next meeting, you’re NOT invited to the party. (You better pay because an Elf told us at the meeting that there’ll be lots of games and the gift exchange is a pin cushion wrapped in a fat quarter.)
Yesterday, CKQ saw a notepad with a pen-hole and wondered if she could get away with a Swiss pen cushion. I don’t think you could take many notes on the pad but it’ll be full of pens.
Not funny?
Not even the reference to Swiss cheese?
What about mixing the pens for the pins? No?

I’m hungry…. Squirrel!
Cactus Kilter Quilter

Friday, September 26, 2014


Cactus Kilter Quilter’s Pop Quiz:

You have two minutes to rate the following, from least favorite to the most awesome, over-the-top favorite thing to do. Oh, and absolutely no cheating from your classmates. Go.
Making of a Quilt Quiz

___ Design/Pattern
___ Choosing/Shopping Fabrics
___ Prepping the Fabrics
___ Cutting
___ Pressing
___ Applique
___ Piecing the quilt top
___ Borders
___ Squaring up the edges
___ Backing
___ Batting
___ Sandwiching the layers
___ Quilting
___ Creating a label
___ Binding
___Journaling/Photographing/Documenting your work
___ Using/Gifting the finished quilt
___ Other: ___________________

STOP! Time’s up. Put down your pencils.
How’d you do? See steps you love? See steps you’d rather clean the bathroom than do?
Brenda Breadon from the Rocky Mountain Quilt Museum presented Quilts of the 30’s at the September meeting. A lot of quilt tops were shown and she commented, Someone might have been a topper, not a quilter. and CKQ wondered what type of quilter are you?
But first, a word from our sponsors …
Block of the Month: Crazy Quilt Block
Use a 14” x 14” muslin/fabric base and go crazy stitching fabric scraps onto the piece. Sew, trim, and flip! Leave the 14 inch size as is so the BOM winner can trim the blocks herself. Don’t forget to embellish … like CKQ does in the blog postings. Seriously, remember Patsy Morris’ program about threads and using your fancy stitches on your sewing machine? What better time to test them?
Back to CKQ’s scheduled program …
What kind of Quilter are You?
Did you find yourself loving several steps? Lots of 1s? 2s? Or did you sequence your loves to dislikes? It doesn’t matter how you rated the steps, just find the top three loves and know that these are your strengths. They come easy for you so keep up the great work!
Now the top three dislikes … let someone else do them. C h a r g e !
Okay, you want to do them yourself. Fine. Suffer through, CKQ won’t stop you. And your UFQ pile will have another bundle heaped on top of it.
What steps do you love to do?
What steps do you dislike?
Quilting is a community event. Not everyone enjoys the same parts of making a quilt and this is good. Some love to design quilts, others love to quilt the quilts. Some have an eye for knowing what fabrics work great for a certain pattern while others fail miserably.
If there’s an area you dislike, find a quilter who excels in that area and barter. Or, try different methods/techniques until the particular area is easier and quicker to achieve. CKQ recommends changing you ways on the not-so-dislike steps before tackling the dislike-with-a-passion steps.
Ease into loving the entire quilting process.
For instance, quilts weren’t finished because making a label seems like a hardship. What about moving up label-making before the top’s completed? Cut out the pieces when you’re cutting out the block pieces. Assemble the label while assembling the blocks.
The dreaded binding. Dunt. Dunt. Duh…..
Who says binding has to be made after the quilting? Get your binding ready whenever you want. Take the yardage to a bartering quilter and say you need x yardage with a y width, folded in half lengthwise.
Or make it yourself as early as possible. Do it first or as soon as you’re able. Then it’s ready to attach to the squared up quilt that you know will only take you a fraction of the time you think it’s going to take. Don’t forget to check out the latest binding attachment gadgets.
Maybe the joy of quilt-making ends once the top’s completed. The excitement has waned. Or some step along the way the quilt’s not turning out the way you’ve envisioned. Can you rearrange the blocks into a different, more eye-catching pattern?
Could the removal of one fabric for another work?
Being flexible (changing your mind) is okay. Why spend hours on something you dislike to do?
Another word from our sponsors …
Sew Day: September 27th
At the Pueblo West Baptist Church
9 am – 2 pm
Lunch provided so contact an officer for a head count.

Back to CKQ’s scheduled program …
Quilting groups/guilds/clubs have replaced the quilting bees, but not the need for quilters to gather and learn. Yes, sometimes the learning is about what’s happening in So-&-So’s life and her latest drama. Many times it’s about sharing what new techniques and tools have eased a quilter’s life.
It’s not so long ago when quilting was hard work. The invention of the rotary cutter saved many left-handers’ thumbs. And before that, the washing machine! Can you imagine having to wash the fabric in a tub and wring it out by hand? And then iron, I mean, press it with homemade starch?!!! Oh wait! CKQ got a recipe or two about making her own starch using vodka from a tip last month. Even making homemade starch is  happy time now…
A person had to really love quilting or needed to keep the families warm at night. Try piecing in the dark. Electricity was a handy invention so quilters could quilt in the evenings. Not to mention the fabulous sewing machines. Inventions, techniques, tools, and storage will continue to making quilting an exciting passion for many.
Less than 50 days until the holidays begin. Okay, less than 70, but CKQ’s birthday is the start of my holiday season… Are you ready?
Most quilters cannot be Last-Minute-I’ll-Whip-Up-A-Quilt-For-You quilters.
Make a list. Check it twice.
Do you have your pattern, fabrics (don’t forget the binding, backing and batting), threads, needles, working machines, sharp blades, etc…? Use the Pop Quiz as a handy checklist.
Pull out your calendar and schedule blocks of time to create. Yes, this time of the year your talents need to be on a schedule. The rest of your life (work, family, community service) works around this schedule.
It’s amazing what you can achieve in 10, 15, 30 minute blocks of time when you have your Honeydew Quilting List.
Have you heard this before … I need to start earlier next year.
Let’s face it. It’s not going to happen so make the quilt for the VIP of 2014 and if time, another quilt for VIP2, VIP3, … Oh, and if you haven’t made yourself a quilt, don’t you think it’s about time you’re VIP of 2014?
But remember, no matter where you’re on the like/dislike parts of making the quilt, come enjoy the fellowship of other quilters. You never know who’s insane enough to enjoy the step you dislike passionately. CKQ smells a bartering of services in the air …

Keeping the home fires burning …
Cactus Kilter Quilter