Jan 30, 2010

Be Still My Heart . . .

Mary sent me this beautiful pillow cover for our Valentin Swap. It is absolutely lovely--pieced border, raw-edged applique and a blue bird! It will look great on my cranberry couch, but I think first I will hang it in my office so I can share it with more people (and keep it cat hair free).

She included some fun treats and a great pincushion with a vintage button in the center and an orange crocheted ruffle. This was the best package to open at the end of a long week.
Funny, we both chose birds for our pillows. I don't know that we have the same tastes, but we both seemed comfortable making something we liked. That meant a lot.

 Love Birds
I mentioned before that I felt a little freer to consider a wide range of ideas for this swap. You know I love the swaps, but I admit that lately I've spent too much time worrying about my partner liking what I made. We try to give each other some ideas on likes and dislikes; many of the participants seem young modern and very certain of their tastes. While I LOVE making things for others, planning the possibilities, stalking lurking around their postings, I have begun to experience a certain amount of paralysis. Since I don't care for white sashing, pink fabric, or in some ways a lot of (matchy-matchy) scrappiness, I'm afraid what I would normally make--maybe only 2 or 3 fabrics, certainly "older," (out of style?), not necessarily modern--will disappoint. (These observations are NOT intended as backhanded criticisms of others.)

I haven't quite figured out how to address this. 
Part of the fun for me is figuring out what someone will like. But I also need to use the fabrics that I have in the often less-than-precise style that I have developed. Sometimes I like pretty minimalist pieces, sometimes I like a free-for-all with lots of embellishments. And I like what others send me--because they bothered to make it for me, not because they made something I would make.

So, as in other areas of my life, I am trying to be more of myself in these swaps and on this blog. I'm here because I want to share and because I want to be part of a quilting community. But let's face it: I'm at the end of 40-something, I need to use up the stuff I have (or move to a separate address from my stash), and frankly, I'm tired of exclamation points.

To that end, I will endeavor 
  1. to leave comments on the blogs I visit, rather than merely lurk, 
  2. to write posts and comments that actually have a little something to say--I'm particularly interested in the technical/creative process, and
  3. to be the eclectic, sometimes modern, sometimes wonky, sometimes scrappy, sometimes just plain practical person I am.
1. Only time stops me from making the things floating around in my head (I'm not bored).
2. The sun is shining today.
3. I have a couple hours to try out somethings for the DQS8.

Enjoy YOUR weekend doing something you love with people you love.

Jan 29, 2010

Finally . . .

Sew & Tell Friday!

Finally, I can talk about this mini I made for my January Swap Til You Drop (STUD) partner--I had fun playing with snowball blocks and using up some pink someone had given me. I was really stumped on the quilting, though. I think a stipple or something would highlight the blocks better. Sometimes when I looked at it I could NOT find the snowballs at all. I know using more fabrics would help, and I thought maybe larger corners might (but I didn't like the snowball shape with bigger corners). All in all, I'd like to make more snowballs.

I also completed a pillow cover for a Valentine's Swap. (Ok, Mary, if don't want to see it now, stop reading.)  

You know, I LOVE these swaps: it's fun to virtually meet other people, as much fun to lurk around their postings to try to figure out what they might like; at the same time, it's hard to start--paralyzed by the desire for perfection. You want so badly for them to love your piece. For the Valentine swap, I felt my partner would welcome appreciate a wide range of ideas, so I felt a little freer to experiment. This is actually plan C--I liked the first two, but they weren't very Valentine-y! It's all an interesting process. And yes, this was supposed to be wonky (maybe even wonkier than it actually turned out).

I started with Jacquie's wonky heart tutorial. (She posted about her heart quilt today--very cool.) But of course, I didn't really follow directions--and I ended up with a heart that had too much emphasis on the red polk dots. I wanted "love" birds, so instead of putting them next to the heart (love + birds, get it?), I put them on top. Then I had to relearn how to do satin stitch on my machine. I think the top one looks a bit more like a starling, but I guess they find love, too. Anyhow, I basically like it, and I hope my partner does, too.

For more great Sew & Tell (provided you actually read all this!) go to Amy's.

  • Settled (but cold!) weather that doesn't require so much shoveling!
  • A day off on Saturday.
  • The movie Julie & Julia--I might have to watch it again. My mom made boeuf bourguignon, too!

Jan 10, 2010

Snowball Fun

No, not those kind of snowballs! The temps have soared to a whopping 27 degrees here in Iowa, but I'm still inside experimenting . . .


I found directions for a 3-to-1 ratio of large squares to small, 4-to-1, and even something in between (that was hard math). In the end, I just cut large squares to fit my project and small squares just a little bigger than the 4-to-1 ration (3.5 inch large squares and 2 inch small squares for a finished square of 3 inches.

I read lots of advice for pressing the seams as well. I've decided pressing the seams open takes away your ability to lock the seams togther (at the small triangles), which really helped sewing the blocks together, so I went with pressing to one side.

Snowballs are fun blocks to make--easy to chain piece.

Now, how to quilt them? If you have suggestions, let me know. It might be time to muster up my courage and practice stippling!

  • Chicken & dumplings (I hope I don't always start with food :)
  • Worship with nursing home residents--they like to sing!
  • Unlimited long distance for long talks with old friends.

Jan 8, 2010

Yes, I'm A Liar

Sew & Tell Friday
But I just couldn't resist. I know for every swap I've been in I specifically say "no pink, no cutesy, please." And here we have a pink background (very sweet Japanese print) and Kitty Cucumber. But you see, about 20 years ago when I lived in Seattle, there was a fun stationery shop on the "Ave" (near the University of Washington) that had great pop-up cards and Kitty Cucumber items. I have ornaments and gift tags and paper dolls and some fun little games and even a tin to keep it all in.

Yes, it's a Kitty Cucumber Collection. So, when my LQS got in this Kitty Cucmber fabric, I couldn't resist making just a little something out of the reliable D9P block. My husband says we can even hang it in our room, next to the embroidered kitties my mother made me when I was born. Yes, I am a liar. Please forgive me.

Lots more going on this week sewing-wise: finishing up some projects from 2009, starting some swap projects. And then, of course, more snow (we have 37 inches so far this winter!) changes the daily routine a bit. For more Sew & Tell, click here! Today is the Secret Gift Edition! (I neglected to take pics of most of my gifts :( )

  • We're all warm, even with a HIGH of -8!
  • The swaps are gearing up--yay!
  • We're all home together tonight--movie night!

Jan 6, 2010

Snow Night = Sew Night

We had plenty of snow the week of Christmas--it started Tuesday night and pretty much just snowed through Saturday for a total of about 18 inches. Needless to say, when we woke up to this Christmas morn, we just stayed in our pj's ALL day!

Two weeks later--with plenty of below ZERO weather (extra cold even for Iowa), we now have this today (about 5 inches so far). No confirmation tonight! And it'll take awhile to get out in the morning. Sew what! I'm going to play with snowball blocks! (Hehehe--I just got the pun myself--I'm too funny!)

  • A cozy home--yes, I have wool socks on, it's only 14 degrees out (-20 windchill)!
  • Fun taco salad that EVERYONE liked for supper.
  • Three men (with extra long underwear) to shovel snow.

Jan 3, 2010

Happy New Year, Happy New Start

Yes, it will be a Happy New Year in 2010 even with 2 feet of snow surrounding our house since Christmas week! It doesn't look like it in the photo, but the snow reaches the top of where our front porch is supposed to be! Over 20 inches in less than a week. Fantastic!

This has been a tough year for us in many ways, with lots of major adjustments--living with a 16 yo, living with a different income, living with different jobs. But through it all we feel so blessed to have each other. Sounds corny, but it's true.

Personally, I feel as if I am becoming more "myself" once again--discovering a few swaps that really motivate me to finish projects, discovering other quilters and bloggers who struggle with the same balancing act as we try to create and nurture and love others.

So for 2010, I have a few goals to reach for (not in any particular order):
  1. Focus on finishing more than a few WIPS (see the sidebar list).
  2. Make quilts for MY family.
  3. Make projects for myself, instead of always giving them away.
  4. Try to follow through a project until it's completed (i.e. don't start something new without wrapping up a work in progress.
  5. Cook & care for my family purposefully instead of reacting to events as they come up.
What this list means in real life is that first off, the sewing won't be taking over the dining room table so much of the time. I still get to sew but not when supper really needs to be on the table.

Related to that, we should have real food to eat most of the time (important for growing boys and parents who would like to stop growing), and we should be able to eat it together more often. I'm afraid this means both planning and actual time devoted to menus and cooking. It's not that I don't like cooking, it's that I get tired of thinking about what to fix.

Finally, I hope to have more of my creative life to show around my own house, rather than just the messiness resulting from my creative process. That would be finished projects!

I re-read this and think it sounds a little gloomy, but really, these goals just help give form to the priorities I say I have my life! I am excited to continue down this creative road to discover where it leads!

Gratitudes for 2009
  1. Healthy, mostly happy boys who work hard and enjoy life.
  2. A sweet husband who does whatever I ask, even if I'm being selfish or slightly unreasonable.
  3. Jobs that keep a roof over our heads and food in our bellies.
  4. New possibilities on the horizon.

Jan 1, 2010

Joy in the New Year Challenge

Here's my update on Jacquie's challenge (check out how everyone did here). I had said I would try to finish 12 WIPS to help me have a fresh start in 2010. Here's the low-down:

SEMI-CHECK 1. Four-Patch Frenzy The top is finish but not quilted. I struggled with basting but found a new technique on You Tube. Holding out to try that.
CHECK 2. Produce Bags Finished a few of these and sent them off for Christmas. Neglected to photograph them. Of course, I didn't actually follow the directions, so I'm waiting to hear how they work.

SEMI-CHECK 3. Wonky Log Cabin Quilt Along (graduation quilt) Finished the top--which I absolutely LOVE (amazing what giving yourself permission to deviate from the rules does). Still need to quilt it. Part of the ORBC Quilt Along, round 3. I'll show it when it's quilted.

CHECK 4. Office Wall Hanging Done and waiting to hang up. No pic yet.

CHECK 5. Poochie Bag 1 (Christmas) DONE and gifted--forgot to photograph!

CHECK 6. Poochie Bag 2 (Christmas) DONE and gifted--forgot to photograph!

CHECK 7. Poochie Bag 3 (Christmas) DONE and gifted--forgot to photograph!

PLAN B DOLL QUILT (ALSO A ufo) 8. Poochie Bag 4 (Christmas) Finished the binding on a UFO doll quilt and gifted that instead.

NOPE 9. Owl Bag (Christmas) Not even stitched, just cut out. The same WIP it was a few weeks ago.

SEMI-CHECK 10. Grandma's Quilt Mostly quilted. I love this top my grandma made. I was feeling rushed and didn't want to screw it up. One good day should do it. She got some produce bags for Christmas.

SEMI-CHECK 11. Horse Quilt Just need to finish the binding and mail it. That will be good, 'cuz I started it 2 years ago (!)

NOPE 12. Gold Finch Table Runner Just sittin' in the box, waiting for spring!

In real life, I finished 7 out of 12 WIPS (with one WIP substitution). In my mind, I pretty much finished (at least so much more than I expected) 10 out of 12 WIPs! Either way, given how busy the last 2 months have been, given how prone I am to starting new things RATHER than finishing them, I am pretty satisfied.

For January, I plan to finish one, then make something for myself (that I will NOT give away), finish another, and so on. I would be thrilled to finish up something every other week. So many of them are SO CLOSE! So here's to JOY IN THE NEW YEAR! As long as I'm sewing, I got JOY

Happy 2010 to all 
I hope you continue to just LOVE 
making and sewing and quilting 
because that's really what's it's all about.

Dec Swap Til You Drop STUD!

Check out this lovely hint of spring from my Dec STUD swap partner! She loves to paper piece, and as the theme was Go Green, she choose everything from her stash. This looks so nice in my office; I'm starting to have a regular little gallery! Thank you Cyndi!

Since Cyndi has an entire blog devoted to her camping travels (they even went to the Quilt Show in Sisters, Oregon, clear from southern California!), I just had to use this camper fabric. I even talked my boss at my LQS to GIVE me her last 1/2 yard from the remnant pile so I could say this was GO GREEN and entirely from my stash (or at least I didn't buy anything for it).

The trees are an experiment from a Figgy Pudding pattern (couldn't find a pic of it anywhere)  Pink Chalk Studios sent me with my last order. You fold a rectangle in half (hot dog style) and then cut on the vertical diagonal with right sides out. Sandwich that in between two strips and stitch. Open up and press the resulting triangle flat. Hard to explain but pretty cool--the tree has side flaps that lift up from the background!

The camper has VW camper busses on it, too, just like we had when I was a kid, so I think I'll have to make another version for my folks. Again, I will try to use only scraps/stash!

My, oh my, I LOVE these swaps. They insure that I get something finished! And I have fun thinking about what my partners might like. Also, I get something new in the mail each month!

  • A very cozy house, even with 22 inches of snow outside! (Yes, we were totally snowed in Christmas Day--never got dressed!)
  • A fresh start with 2010, UFOs or not.
  • Leave It To Beaver on netflix with my teenagers--we all think it's hilarious! Funny, I don't really remember the parents--of course, I wasn't even born the first few years it was on. :)