Preparations
Sewing with Friends

Brief Synopsis

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I was really impressed with this knitting pattern when I came across it online ... so impressed that I went to Ravelry and bought it. :) I have some lovely yarn that I think might be fun to make up this design ... we'll see (more news anon on that subject:).

I've been away (and not blogging) for the better part of two weeks ... this post is by way of trying to catch up with myself and life. Sigh. No, nothing difficult or life-altering going on, just ... you know ... life. shrug.

When last I posted, my friend Barbara and I were going out to do some Row By Row quilt shop visiting the next day. I know we _planned_ to go to Traditions at the White Swan in Hagerstown and then  to Scrappy Apple in Winchester, VA. Lucky for us, someone at TWS told us that SA is closed on Mondays - whew! We'd have driven down there in vain. Instead, we visited Wilsons (also in Hagerstown), then came home. Pretty day, pretty goodies to enjoy seeing. :)

I always enjoy Traditions, mostly because I like Dick and Wendy who own the shop so much (nice folks!) ... but also because they have a broad selection of perky, pretty patterns. Their fabrics tend to run toward reproductions though there are plenty of other nice prints there. I did my little bit to support the shop (including buying their RbR kit and the backing for my Pioneer Braid repro quilt). :)

I really got lost (budget-wise) at Wilson's. The shop is heavily aimed toward sewing machine sales ... and there are oodles of great samples on every surface in the place. The 'retired' ones that belong to the shop are housed on a quilt-array-rack near the back room. Barbara and I both got captured by a brown-and-pink repro item there:

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I am really fond of pink and brown as a color palette (think strawberries or cherries and chocolate:). This quilt set me off ... interesting design ... and a potential use for the TWO fat quarter collections of pink and brown repro prints I have _somewhere_ in my stash chaos. :) Barbara and I started collecting new double-pink prints right then (go do a search on 'double pink fabric history' if you are interested in quilt history:) 

I also got into a groove looking at this design:

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This time it was not the colors (nothing wrong with them but I rarely use red in my work; I prefer hot pink, orange, etc) ... but the patchwork itself that caught my attention. Turned out that this is a quilt from the x-blocks world ... so I had to buy the book and ruler. Have not had time, yet (stay tuned to find out why), to play with this but I am cherishing it for the near future. :) My friend Patty will get a kick out of hearing that because she played with X blocks some time ago (when the whole thing was really new) ... she being a recognized Gadget Girl. :)

Ok, so that was Monday the 30th of July. Tuesday we (my husband, Skip, my son, Hugh, and myself) got up, packed the car and set out westward to attend GenCon. We try to go every August ... the convention is now held in Indianapolis (started in Lake Geneva, WI - hence the name - and has been held many other midwestern places before Indy). Turns out that Indy is a pretty nice town as such places go - lots of great things to visit if, like me (physical limitations) you cannot handle the convention itself. Sadly, I visited almost none of them this year.

We stopped for the night on the west side of Columbus, Ohio ... and arrived in Indy early in the afternoon on Wednesday (August 1st). As we were driving around town to the north side (where our hotel for this year - the Drury Plaza - was situated), the Dart's engine started running roughly. It had been to the repair shop for its regular maintenance recently, so we called the locally-recommended Chrysler dealer repair shop ... and took the Dart there to be diagnosed. After some waiting time, they put it on the computers and decided that what was needed was some kind of computerized regulator for the fuel system ... waiting time from Chrysler parts place, probably three days. Sigh. We need wheels as it is 12 miles from our hotel to the con, each way, twice a day. 

We went to the (conveniently located right at the dealership) Enterprise place ... and discovered that we could not rent a car as Enterprise requires a national credit card for out-of-state rentals. We don't DO credit cards ... so ... can't rent anything from Enterprise (and have no wheels to seek some other rental company). Sigh.

At that point, my husband started looking at cars on the dealership's show floor (unbeknownst to me, who is dealing with the service folks). Bottom line, he decided to buy a Jeep Renegade. Now, the Dart is a 2013 model and has 105,000+ miles on its odometer ... but is a good car. We likely would have kept it for at least 50k more miles. :)

Because we bought the extended warranty when we bought the Dart, all the repairs will be paid for by the warranty ... but that warranty does NOT carry over to the next owner. Soooo, the dealership won't give us any trade-in for the Dart. I looked up its Blue Book value ($3200 - 4800, depending on condition) ... which was way too much for us to just abandon the car. When we bought the Renegade, the Chrysler place was telling me the repairs would be probably finished before we were planning to leave to return to Maryland on the next Monday (August 6th?). I bet you can see already where this story is going, eh?

The Renegade is a joy to drive ... and I drove it to and from on Thursday through Sunday, taking Skip, Hugh and my brother Kevin downtown. Friday and Saturday I spent with my daughter and my two grandsons - YEAH - so much fun (even though exhausting:). Of course, I did not think to take pictures. Sigh. Such cute little guys! :)

I did spent some of Wednesday and most of Thursday sewing. I set up Blue on the desk in our room:

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I had plenty of space for sewing, cutting and ironing. Small spaces have the advantage of being pretty efficient, if you try. :) I managed to sew three blocks of my fractured Dresden plate project:

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The color rendition is not so great here (ambient light was not very good in my room:) ... but I think you get the idea. Took me a while to go through the fabrics I had packed to find backgrounds that I liked for each block. The cutting part of these designs left a lot of biggish scraps behind, so I used those to create some borders - I want to make separate pillows out of these three blocks, for donations to two different guild Quilt Bingos.

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I was pleased to get all that sewing done and the borders attached before I had to retrieve my guys on Thursday evening. :) I knew I would be making the pillows themselves after I got home so I was glad to have this part completed.

After spending Friday and Saturday with BUSY LITTLE BOYS, I was exhausted and mostly laid around on Sunday. :) Still no news from the car place (yes, I did pester them daily with calls - is the part here yet?). Skip and Hugh packed up our stuff (including Blue and my sewing stuff) and set out to return to Maryland on Monday morning, leaving me behind to wait for the Dart and to drive it back home by myself. At that point, the car place thought they might be done on Tuesday.

That went by ... and then I got the news that the part came around noon on Wednesday (the EIGHTH day after they ordered it) and they were working on the car. Thursday morning I called them just before lunch (having heard nothing) and was told they were finished.

All this time I have basically been sitting around, reading books, watching tv and playing games on my iPad. Oh, and moving hotels ... the Drury was sold out starting on Wednesday night, so I had to move down the street to the Holiday Inn Express which did have space. Lyft was useful to get there. :)

Got another Lyft to the dealership on Thursday afternoon, accompanied by luggage, thinking I was on my way out of town. When I got to the service area, they told me - sorry, when we took it out for a test drive, it ran rough again; something else is wrong with it, too. At that point, I was hot and tired and out of patience and I blew a gasket (so to speak). 

I had to exercise all the self-restraint I have learned in 66 years of life to deal with the service manager and detail the sad story of why my blood pressure is sky rocketing on the spot. Sigh. Luckily, he was a good guy and listened carefully. He apologized for how slowly the part came - Chrysler headquarters controls part availability and they (the dealership) have no control over that part of my problem. He did give me a car to use until the Dart was fixed (why no one thought of that BEFORE, I do not know). So ... back to the Holiday Inn I went, to stay yet another night. :P

I did decide to treat myself that afternoon, after calming down (mostly) ... and drove downtown to visit Mass Ave Knits, a big shop with oodles of inspiration, not too far from Crimson Tate (the local modern quilt shop). Part of my problem all this week was that I stupidly had not packed any kind of hand work for myself to do ... and missed it sorely. I hope I remember this lesson! Always pack something to keep my hands busy!!

I ended up buying four small skeins of a nifty yarn (linen, cotton, silk and nylon) to make a scarf I picked off Ravelry (the go-to destination online for yarn people:). The yarn I chose is two colors - deep royal blue with sparks of turquoise, pale blue and green and orange with sparks of hot pink, yellow and pale yellow green. The scarf is called Sleeping with the Zucchini (which made me guffaw right out loud) and is, so far, pretty mindless to knit. :)

The only downside to that adventure was the rush  hour traffic I had to endure to get back to my hotel (and the fact that Crimson Tate was closed by the time I was finished at the knit shop). 

Friday morning I got a call from the Service manager - they FINALLY got the Dart to run well and think they've fixed all its issues, I can come get my car. Whew! I drove there, loaded up my luggage, paid ($100 deductible) for the repairs and hied my way eastward without looking back. I was so eager to get home by this time, I only stopped twice along the way - once to get gas and eat, the next time to eat again. I left Indy at 11 a.m. and arrived in my driveway around 9 p.m. :P

I spent most of Saturday in bed or resting ... and Sunday was the monthly meeting of the Baltimore Modern quilt guild. I'm still tired from the trip today ... but we have fixers coming in the morning to rip the back deck off our house and start building a new one. I have not unpacked my sewing stuff from the trip yet ... and I have a million things going around in my head. 

Ain't life grand? :) I am glad to be home, no matter how humble ... and not looking forward to more car woes. :P

:) Linda

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