Saturday, May 30, 2009

One last look at an oldie

It only seems appropriate that the fabulous Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band could be heard coming from Safety Pin Studio this morning. It was oldies day. I finished quilting the Battle of the Books memory quilt last night, so I put a rod pocket on it this morning. I did a short tutorial on rod pockets in March.

I had already made bias binding, so that went on next. For more information about making your own bias binding, check out this post.

Ready to whip stitch the binding in place.

Next, the rod pocket is sewn down with the rod in the pocket.

All finished and you get a look at the pillows I made for the couch on the screened porch.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Thanks for the Backlink

Taking my own advice, I want to send a shout-out to a lovely blogger who backlinked to my post on tracking one's blog. Thanks to Ros who blogs at Rosa-Munda for her great comment on the post as well as the mention and backlink. As of post time, I have already gotten thirteen referrals from her blog. Ta, Ros! Backlinks are good for your neighbors in the blogsphere.

Why is tracking your blog a good idea?

Since this blog is titled The Quilted Librarian, I do feel obliged to leave the quilting world occasionally and veer into the realm of media, information, and librarianship and this is one of those times. For about a month now, I've been tracking my blog with a free service offered by Ice, a search engine and social networking site like Google or Yahoo. Besides being really fascinating, this data can help you to improve your blog and increase the size of your audience.

This is the menu of statistical options the blog tracker offers. Ranking doesn't really interest me so I tend not to pay much attention to Rank Analysis. Visitor Tracking, on the other hand, I find very informative and I will amplify on this and the remaining options below. Segment Analysis shows you how your readers are finding you and where they live. Content Analysis lets you see exactly which posts your readers are looking at. Technical Analysis shows you what operating systems and browsers your readers are using. For those of you who are selling product, a deep analysis of which browsers and search engines your customers are using would be profitable, but it's not something I will take time with here.

Visitor Tracking
Hits and Visits are the raw number of people who load your blog's page and spend time there (that's essentially how they distinguish between the two terms). Above is a chart of my hits and visits for the last 30 days. The peaks and valleys can provide me with some very useful information. First, there are lots more hits on the weekends than during the week. This makes sense because people have more time to spend at the computer on the weekend if they work all week. Now, look at the big spike on May 9th. This happened after I posted a link to a new blog post on the Quiltart listserv AND it was a weekend.

Also under this option is a tab for Last Visits. Not only can you see time, date and country location, but also which specific post was read and how the reader came to your blog (direct or through a bookmark, as a result of a search, through a webring, etc.) Conclusions: make an effort to create interesting posts on the weekends and post links to new blog posts on listservs and other social networking media like Facebook and Twitter to increase your traffic.

Segment Analysis

The first tab under this option is called Referrers and is extremely important. This is the heart of how people find your blog. Since we can't stand out on the Information Super Highway and yell, "Look at my blog!" we must rely on the cyber version of "word of mouth"--referrers. A quick look at the pie chart shows that most of my readers now are coming to me directly. I'm guessing that RSS feeds like Google Reader account for most of this. The second largest referrer is Blogger, the web-hosting service I use. This is where that information that you put into your profile when you sign up with a web-hosting service becomes important. Some of that information is used to enable people to find blogs that might interest them. Don't hurry through this step. Being thorough and providing good information will reap benefits down the line. (Remember, you can always go back and edit your profile.) Google search is my third best referrer. Here's where tags or labels and the titling of posts enter the story. Search engines look for words and phrases so provide labels and tags and title your posts. I can't tell you how many blogs I look at each day in Google Reader that say "(title unknown)". These folks are missing readers by not titling. The fourth referrer is which is a webring. A webring is a collection of websites on a certain topic that have been placed in a circular construction. I belong to several webrings for quilters, embellishers, crazy quilters, art quilters, etc. Buttons for my webrings are found down the right side of the blog. Joining a webring is a great way to pick up new readers. The fifth referrer is parkcitygirl's blog. You may remember that several weeks ago, Amy had an amazingly successful Blogger's Quilt Festival and I am still getting lots of readers from the links on her blog. It's very important to acknowledge other bloggers by linking to their blogs and specific posts. Helping each other is a good thing for the quilting blogosphere. Think link.

The Keywords tab shows you what words or phrases from you blog were listed in search engine hits. Again, this is why tagging, labeling, and titling your posts is so important. For example, I've written about our local Farmers' Curb Market several times and now on a Google search of "Greensboro Farmers' Curb Market " my blog post is the sixth hit. The final tab, Geolocation, shows in which countries your readers live. It's good to remember that the Internet is global and so is your readership.

Content Analysis
This pie chart shows which posts have been the most popular by their url (which stands for "uniform resource locator" or the site's web address). Again TITLING a post creates a unique, searchable url and makes it possible for you to receive more specific feedback from the blog tracker. (Without a title, the search engine will just pick up the first four or five words of your post to form the url.) The second tab shows the same information, but by the post title. (Hopefully, I've made my point.)

A few words about backlinks...
The final feature of blog tracker that I like is that it lets you check for backlinks--that is people who have put a link to your blog on their site. While not as thorough as the function in Google Reader, it's still catches lots of backlinks and it's good Netiquette (that's Internet etiquette) to acknowledge a backlink with a shoutout to the blogger who linked to you.

Many thanks to the good folks at Ice Rocket for this great FREE tool. Hopefully, my enthusiasm will rub off and you will sign up and track your own blog. Let me know what your thoughts are about this. I don't want to go too techno geek on you here, but I love learning new things and then sharing them.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

This and that

These are my yellow squash sweet pickles. The little pieces of Vidalia onion and green pepper make them so delicious. The recipe is in the back of the play script for See Rock City, the play I acted in at the Broach Theatre here in Greensboro in the fall of 2007. It's the second play in a trilogy by Arlene Hutton, and the recipe is one from her family. The third play is on the Broach's fall schedule.

Brownie quilt update: The first hand is appliquéd down and the second one is nearly finished.

New Doorknob Art

I've written before about my Doorknob art. One of the things I wanted to complete during this past long weekend was a little gift for a teacher at school. I thought I'd share my process. Our school colors are green, white, and black, so I used green cross stitch canvas with white floss for the school name and pulled the fabrics from my scrap box.

I cut the cross stitch canvas at odd angles because it makes the crazy piecing more interesting. Starting in the upper right, I add fabrics in a clockwise direction.

I trim and then press after each fabric is added to make the piece lay flat and cut down on bulk.

Each succeeding fabric should be long enough to cover the previous one.

This is about halfway through the crazy piecing.

All the fabrics are added and the front just needs to be trimmed. The backing fabric has all three colors.

Here's the finished front.

Our school mascot is the cowboy, so I had to add this cute button of a cowboy hat.

I cut a 12-inch length of ribbon and sew it to the front about half an inch in on each end making a loop.

Then I sew the back to the front (right sides together, of course) leaving the bottom open for stuffing.

Next I turn it inside out and use the point turner.

I cut up batting scraps and save them for stuffing.

All stuffed and I just whip stitch the opening closed.

All finished.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Memorial Day

In Flanders Fields
By: Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, MD (1872-1918)
Canadian Army

In Flanders Fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

Reverse sewing

I spent more time than I would have liked doing some "reverse sewing" yesterday. That's my friend Chris Schaefer's name for ripping out. Color me a little grumpy. A slight math error when I was calculating the four triangles with the hand appliqués was compounded incrementally and the half square triangle borders were too short. After ripping out everything down to the square within a square border, recutting the triangles, and adding a little to the center of each of the half square triangle borders, I was back in positive territory. I'm clipping the curves on the hands and will start to appliqué them today.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Long weekend update

Aren't these gorgeous? My dear husband bought them for me yesterday at the Farmers Curb Market. I also got some lovely tiny yellow squash to make pickles,

fresh peas, and three new plants--dill,


and rosemary.

I'm battling with the squirrels who love to dig in the herb pots, so I hope the little dill plants make it.

My iron died last night, so my first task this morning was buying a new one. I settled on the Euro-Pro Shark. So far I'm loving it.

On the Brownie quilt front, I'm working on the half square triangle borders and then I'll appliqué the hands down. Last night while we watched some DVDs about movie musicals, I nearly finished quilting the Battle of the Books wall hanging. I have high hopes of finishing up some of these smaller projects this weekend. What are all of you doing with your long weekend?

Friday, May 22, 2009

Brownie quilt update: Friday

Embroidery finished and the final row of square within a square blocks done as well last night.

I made an interesting discovery when I was setting up this photo--the double hands papercut appliqué is going to be too big. I cut it down to just one, but now I'm thinking maybe I'll just trace around my hand and not worry about all the extra frills. I'll give that a try tonight. I'm so happy that we have a three-day weekend coming up!!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Nearly there

Nearly there. He's smiling at you now. Just a little more filling in embroidery on the coat and the edge of the pants and then I can attach the border and get on with the papercut hands. I'm thinking ahead to the quilting. Any ideas for the areas on either side of Mr. Brownie? I'm not an appliquér normally so I don't know what's traditional. Any help would be appreciated. On to the last day of regular EOG testing.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Brownie quilt progress...slow but steady

Well, I got a little more embroidered last night. He's coming along. More complete postings after the EOGs are over...I promise.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Brownie quilt progress

The central Brownie now has socks and the back of his cap appliquéd. Started the embroidery with one shoe. One more row of square within a square blocks and the first border will be complete as well. The four triangles with the papercut hands designs are next. I decided to do a half square triangle border around those rather than the sawtooth appliquéd border that I'd originally designed. I know I would have trouble keeping that flat and if I'm going to make the July 1st deadline for the challenge, I need some time to quilt it, too. We have four weeks and two days of school left. My goal is to have the top pieced by then so I have roughly two weeks to quilt and bind it.

EOGs (end-of-grade testing) begin this week for us. Wishing you a less hectic week in your lives.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Baby step beginnings on the new piece

Sorry for the thin postings these last few days. It's been a rather rotten week and busy on top of that. This weekend has been sent from heaven, though: nowhere to be and time to be together. We went out for breakfast Saturday morning and then while Jim worked in his study, I had some time to work on the Brownies quilt. I've decided to do traditional appliqué rather than raw edge fusible appliqué. The first set of hands is ready to go.

Socks and the top of the hat are also ready to go for the main brownie. Then I'll do the brown work on the rest of the figure.

The border around the main Brownie block is square within a square blocks so I also started chain piecing those. There were so few light fabrics in the Thimbleberries stock that I had to try several combinations to get the right light/dark contrast. This quilt is for a challenge that Randy's Quilt Shop is having so I must limit myself to just Thimbleberries fabrics. Here's the original post about the design.

I know lots of people are interested in unique notions so I thought I'd show you this thumb pin cushion. I found it at a quilt show years ago when I was first learning appliqué from my friend Anita Hardwick.