Tuesday, November 30, 2010


Accomplishments today:
  • Christmas tree is up.
  • found usb cord for the voice recorder (or, well, discovered that the cable from Scout will also work for the recorder..)
  • transcribed the first 2 minutes of a 5 minute oral interview for my Pedagogical Grammar paper.
  • read two chapters for Phonetics/Phonology class tonight (current topics: ambisyllabicity and stress attracting suffixes.  I LOVE this stuff!) *note: don't click the links unless you're an English language nerd/fanatic
  • Took pictures of the Spiderweb quilt which is done done done! (except for a trip thru the wash and burying a few last threads)
I used one of C's old Polo Ralph Lauren oxford shirts for the background and I would have made it bigger except that I ran out of shirt fabric and didn't want to splice in anything else.

The label was my 2nd attempt at piecing letters.  I pieced it into the back and quilted over it, so in case I have more kids in the future, there won't be any arguments over who this quilt belongs to.

I used the tutorial available on Bonnie Hunter's webpage and if I were to do it again (which I'd love to, but i have quite a few reservations), I'd use thinner paper for the foundations and remove it before stitching the blocks together.  I like how Bonnie uses deli waxed paper sheets for some of her foundation piecing, and I'd love to get my hands on a big box of the stuff (prefferably the 12" x 12" sheets) but the restaurant supply shop in my neighborhood is not open to the public and I don't have any friends in the restaurant business anymore.  If you know of anywhere I can look or buy some, please leave a comment!  I loved constructing this quilt and would really like to do another, but I can't do it on notebook paper again...

The next few weeks are jam packed with appointments, To-dos, and deadlines so I'm doing my best to stay on top of as much as I can.  right now I have a note book with 4 pages of lists going.. Do you have any secrets for surviving the hectic month of December?

Sunday, November 21, 2010

the first monochrome idea

I hesitated to show or post anything about this quilt for a long time ("long time" is relative, of course, I've been working on it since early October) because I didn't really know what I wanted to say or where this project was going, and I didn't want to be held accountable either.  But yesterday when I got ready to make my monochrome fabric for the 30-Day Challenge, I found myself staring at a full design wall and knowing that if I took it down to make room for something else, it would sit in the UFO pile forever.  Truth is, I lost momentum about 3 weeks into the project because I used up my fabric faster than I thought I would and got a bit lazy about staying creative to make the remainder into something interesting.   My original idea was to make it huge, 4 units this size (42" x 49"), all monochrome deep turquoise, in 7" or 14" blocks.  It went together quickly in the beginning and I was loving it.  Then, you know how it goes.  when momentum slows and then stops, you either put it aside or push on through.  I liked it too much to put it aside, so instead I started thinking about other ways to make this one chunk into something cool. I played around with border ideas yesterday and came up with something I like, so last night I did some cutting and sewing, and with a thin inner border attached, I came up with the great(?) idea to incorporate some hand applique in a wide outer border.  Hand applique?  I love when I have great ambitions..
You know, it's either set it aside and wait 2-3 years til inspiration strikes, or tackle it right now and choose a plan that's almost destined to stall or fail.  I feel like once the applique gets a bit stitched down I'll show it to some people and they'll encourage me to keep going, right?  Stay tuned for the next installment of the story...

Monday, November 15, 2010

A Healthy Exercise

Thanks for the comments on my last post, with a big hug of thanks going to Victoria in particular..
I didn't realize i was in a box, but once you step outside of it, MAN, things become more clear (and fun, and interesting..)

I decided to try a sorting/color exercise and enlisted my favorite little helper.  I started with just the 5" strip bin and the bag of unsorted stuff hanging behind the door.  I found as many empty containers as I could, and we got to work..

For my containers I had to get a little creative.. yes, that's an ice bucket and a gravy separator. 

 Things started out going smoothly enough.  But then he started filling anything with fabric..
 He was having fun though so I just let him play with the unsorted bits as I tried to sort as fast as I could.  He did a lot of throwing fabric all over me and tossing it into a big overturned stool.
 This would be his, "What? Me? I didn't do it." face.
 I think it only took 40 minutes or so to go through that pile, but that was the limit of his patience with this activity (or, with mom paying more attention to fabric than to him) so I was glad I didn't bring down the other bins to sort.
 Now I have nice piles of color and not only was it fun to find fabrics I thought i had used up, but I learned a lot about my scrap stash as well.. for instance, I thought I had more purples.  I was expecting to have lots of green and blue, but I had no idea I had so much white.. the red & pink bin is a lot more red than i was expecting too..
Once they were all nicely sorted, someone decided to "water" the bins with the gravy separator.  How thoughtful of him.. Now I just need to get the bins upstairs and behind closed doors before he wakes up and wants to throw them all around the room again..

I would like to sort my other bins into these, but I'm more than a little hesitant-- first off, this haphazard arrangement of containers is not going to work.  Granted we probably don't need to ice bucket until we throw a party and the Halloween candy bowl is good for another 11 months, the whites are overflowing from the sand bucket, so I need better storage if I'm going to adopt this system on a long term basis.  Next, I really worry about sorting only by color and not by size.  Sure, by stepping out of my "size only" box i realized that my definition of a "scrap" is probably too limited and a lot more of my larger pieces would probably get used faster if I added them to this mix.  But what about when i want to make a multi-colored scrap project again?  I think I'm losing my control of the "random" factor when things are sorted by color.  wait, yes, i did just reread that.  Control of random?  is that my secret to quilting success?  hahaha. 
what i really need is for a few of you to come over and mess my stash up a bit.  then when the threads settle I'll see it all from a different light and get out of my old habits & predictable patterns...  What do you say? fabric party at my place?

Sunday, November 14, 2010

My design wall is shrinking

or maybe i should try finishing one project before starting a new one and then they wouldn't have to fight for space and attention up there..
This weekend I went a little berzerk with a new variety of wonky log cabins.. Inspired by the upcoming bee at 15minutesplay, I wanted to work sew through some ideas and see what would happen if I tried "making" strips of color by crumb piecing my logs.  Here's my first:

nice, but I needed another go at it, I wasn't getting what I wanted in terms of the proportions:
I really liked how the fabrics played together in this one, though that bit with the house was a pain in the neck.  I also liked the light-square-in-a-dark-square thing going on once I put it on the design wall.  At this point I was feeling a sort of addiction take hold..so then I made a third:

As much as I wanted to do these, by the third round I was feeling a bit frustrated in the amount of time each "log" was taking to construct.  See, since last year (the start of my Spiderweb piecing, incidentally), I have been sorting my scraps by size and then shape:
  • smaller than a Fat Quarter
  • strips (separate piles for width of fabric, wider than 3", long and narrow, short and narrow, over 6"..)
  • bits (in the same drawer go odd shaped pieces less than 10" square, stacks of same sized squares, baggies of leftover pieces from my own or inherited projects)
  • small strips (5" or less)
  • crumbs
  • small triangles & corners
then there's a tub for unsorted scraps (freshly washed but not ironed, etc), and a big bag at the back of the door for any scraps i found on the floor when I rearranged the furniture-- mostly washed but unsorted. 

These are the bins, shoeboxes & drawers I usually pull from before I go to yardage.  I like having them all sorted by size because I can always find the size I need without having to wade thorough a huge scrap bin of irrelevant fabric when I'm looking for 2.5" squares..  But here I was challenging myself to stick with a specific color... and I found that starting with the crumb box just made me really frustrated.  who wants to sew together 2"x1.5" tiny bricks to make up big logs?  Yeah, they'll look great, but i couldn't find enough of the right shade of blue to make 2 logs the thickness I wanted.  so I pulled out the small strips bin, and then started rooting through the unsorted scrap bin, and for the life of me i can't find the small triangle & corners shoebox and it was driving me nuts!  Now don't get me wrong, I love crumb piecing and I'm a huge fan of the concepts behind the 15minutesplay group.. but this was taking waaaaay longer than 15 minutes, and I was getting more and more frustrated and discouraged that what i wanted/needed wasn't within arms' reach and it was getting tiring having to get up in the middle of every log to search for the right shade/right sized fabric scrap.  All the sudden my exercize in free piecing wasn't very freeing..
So after the third block I gave myself a rest and just zipped through some mindless wonky log cabins with no real thought to color, only choosing logs that were the right size and shape. 
ahhh.  now that was fun and relaxing.
Visually I love what the crumb logs can do for a block, but I think I'll need to do more prepwork and get really organized before I try them again.  maybe I'll spend an afternoon teaching George about colors as we sort crumbs into 10 different tupperware bins..

Friday, November 12, 2010

a great ending to a good day

so I finished quilting the spiderweb tonight, and though I don't have any pics yet I was kind of feeling pretty awesome for just sitting down today and tackling it, especially because the quilting just came out of my hands and the machine and onto the quilt so naturally.  It gave me an amazing rush and it was so much fun..
I thought this would be a great end to a good day, but then I saw this and fell in love.

(and i kind of wrote an inappropriate comment on the pic before I realised it was a self portrait...oops)

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Evening Star Quilters Show 2010

I guess I really dove head first into this quilt guild.  I only just joined in September so you can imagine my surprise when two of my quilts won ribbons.  I'll tell you, I was giddy all day from winning ribbons at my first judged show!  An amazing feeling.  It was a bit hard to focus on white gloving after that, but I had a great time, probably because I was beaming and very excited to talk to all the members of my new guild.
I really wanted to try and go slow with this group, you know, feel them out to get an idea of how this community is organized and how they run things, but by entering (and winning) at the show I guess I won't stay a wall-flower for very long.  (who am I kidding? I'm so not the wall-flower type~)
The show was good, small but well run.  I think there were between 75~85 quilt entries and there are the same amount of people in the guild (a pre-show email said that only 36 members were entering quilts though).  Lots of traditional, commercial patterns, workshop pieces, and some really nice art quilts.  A few scrap quilts.  I don't think mine stood out all that much and I think I'll eventually find a cozy nich in the guild.  I know a lot of names now, but I'm looking forward to meet the quilters behind them.
I didn't take many photos but I'll go through and post the few I have once I have the program next to me to give credit to the quilters.  I took the video at Constantina's request, and the end got cut off, but I said, "I hope you liked our show and I hope you get to come and see it yourself next year."  Oh, wouldn't that be nice?

Travel Quilt #6 and some public crafting

I have been working steadily on Travel Quilt #6 since last fall and it is growing.  I got a chance to piece a few units while I was in Manha...