Thursday, January 30, 2014

Random Thursday it is

Hi y'all!  For those of you who don't follow me on instagram, I'm sorry for the delay in posting.  Last week my right leg was giving me some trouble with sciatica pain and Saturday it sent me to the ER with a herniated disc.  Since them I've been on bed-rest per Chris' orders and haven't been up to doing much.  I can't get in with the neurosurgeon till next Wednesday so we've kinda just been letting me rest up on the meds until then.  Can I just say how BORING daytime TV is.  And the meds make me sleepy so I haven't been able to read or knit too much.

But I'm getting back into my normal groove, just a slower version of it, and coming back around.

--I've got that purple quilt all done and ready to show off.  I was actually going to photograph it Saturday afternoon to show y'all, but I was laying on a gurney laughing at how silly I looked in running clothes while obviously hurting too bad to actually go for a run.  I'll try to get it photgraphed tomorrow.

--The days here are all running together.  Chris did let me ride with them to Oren's karate class yesterday and it felt like I hadn't been there in 3 weeks.  It had been less than a week.

--I finished up my Rainbow Geese blocks for do. Good stitches this month.  Caryn asked for flying geese in a rainbow and then strips of sky-colored fabrics.  I think the design she's got planned will be fantastic, but man did I have to REALLY concentrate to get all of those colors in the right places.

--Last week while subbing I made myself a list of the next few projects I want to get done.  I managed to complete 2 of them already before I got bogged down.  Next up is to finish the stars for Oren's Star Wars quilt.  I'm still waiting on a few blocks from our November d.Gs quilt so I'll try to finish up his quilt (top anyway) in the meantime.

--My sewing room looks like a fabric monster has been living in here and making himself at home.  If I felt better, I'd spend 2 days in here straightening up.  But for the 10-15 minutes I get at a time in here, I'd rather spend it getting ready to sew something.  

--Alright, I'm back to bed.  Darn these meds.  I don't know how anyone can get addicted to something that drains them all the time.  I will be so glad to be off of all of this and get back to normal.  Patience is not a virture I am well-equipped with and darnnit...I need some right now!  ;)

Hope you are doing well and I'll be back shortly with more clarity and less numbness.  

Monday, January 13, 2014

Quick Peek Monday

I'm busy quilting loops on my purple quilt for our Empower Circle.  I'm squeezing in a little bit here and there when I have time.  We've got a busy week ahead.

Here's a quick sneak peek.  I can't wait for this one to be finished and ready to show off!

What are you up to this week?

Friday, January 10, 2014

Finish it Up Friday

One thing I love about the online community is the chance to learn from others.  While I learned to sew and many techniques from my Mom, my 4-H leader and classes I took, most of what I've learned about quilting has been from online friends, online classes and reading books on my own.

Being able to communicate with others and learn from others is such a blessing to me since I have few local friends who sew at all and none that quilt.  

Case in point?  Sizing of blocks.

Nicole asked us to make the lovely kaleidoscope blocks that I mentioned on Monday.  I printed off one and measured it and it was thisclose to 1" square so I printed out 7 more and cut them all out.  But then I noticed in our online discussion board that many mentioned sizing difficulties when printing.  So I went back and measured the cut-out foundation and it was 7 inches!  If I'd been on my own, I'd have made Nicole blocks that she wouldn't have been able to use because they'd have been a half-inch wide all the way around.

Thank goodness for community and me reading before I got busy sewing.  See, procrastination does help out sometimes.  ;)

I ended up copying the template and opening it in photo-editing software where I could manually size it to print out at exactly the size I wanted.  It worked out perfectly.

And here are my two kaleidoscope blocks for Nicole.  I really want to just keep them and tell everyone in the group that Nicole moved and have them send her blocks to my house.  ;)  I won't of course, I'll just add this to my never-ending list of quilts I'd like to make. 

And that's what I finished up this week.  Next on my list is to quilt my purple do. Good stitches quilt.  I've just got to sweep my kitchen first so I can lay it down to baste it.  

What are you up to this week and weekend?  Any big plans?  We're taking it easy after the first week of school and before softball gets cranked up for Chris. I'm planning on doing some more conquering of clutter that's been hanging around and trying to get that quilt finished up.  Wish me luck. 

Linking up with Amanda Jean.

Monday, January 6, 2014

One block at a time...

I've been working on some individual blocks lately.  Either blocks that are due to friends for bees or quilts we're working on together, blocks for quilts that I'm in no hurry to make and make a block occasionally, and even blocks just for the fun making them.

It's not very often that I don't feel the weight of my WIP basket hanging on my shoulders, so it's been fun this past week to make a block here and a block there just for fun.

Here's what I've been up to:
I made this Stargazing block from the book Modern Blocks in sweet pastels and low-volumes.  This is one of my most favorite blocks ever and it's always fun to see those little 3-inch stars come together.  I'm not a tiny-pieces person.  I don't really enjoy fiddly stuff and I've been known to yell loudly when working with little pieces, but this one is fun, especially 'cause I only made one of them.  ;)

Next up, the Economy Blocks that hit big on Instagram over the holiday break.  Last year it was the Scrappy Trip Around the World, this year it's Economy Blocks.  These are also known as square-in-a-square blocks.  I used the paper-piecing template from Rita and it made these a dream to whip together.  They're only 5" finished so they come together quickly, you can use scraps and even for someone like me with hardly any novelty prints, it was easy to find designs to feature in the middle square.  I only made 4...for now!

Awhile back when I got overwhelmed with all that I had on my plate I sat down and just started piecing 2.5" strips and squares together.  There was no rhythm or rhyme other than I made 12.5" blocks out of them.  Some came together like log-cabins, same mostly just in strips, and some were completely randomly pieced.  I made about 7 before I felt content and could carry on with my to-do list.  This past week I made 7 more.  I have no plan for these blocks other than I'm sure it'll be a keeper.  It'll be a hot mess of scraps and I don't know that anyone else would want it.  The only plan I have for this is to work on when I want and finish it when I think it's big enough...  And I have to admit it feels nice to have a weightless WIP hanging around.

Now that's a mass of scrappiness right there!

I've got Kaleidoscope blocks up next for Nicole and she made some stunning ones to show us for inspiration.  I've got my paper-piecing foundations all cut out and have fabrics pulled.  I am already jealous of her amazing style and now I want her quilt before it's even made.  That's the kind of friends I like to keep.  :)

I forgot she wanted a bit of red too, so I've added that in as well.  Can't wait to get started on these blocks.

I'm really working on conquering this week.  I'm conquering clutter in our home.  Conquering deadlines before they become an issue.  Conquering procrastination.  Conquering my half-marathon training plan (it's in 6 weeks!!!).  Conquering negativity around me and within myself.

Small steps is the answer.  I'm sure of it.  I can conquer 2014 if I just work on it one block at a time.  :)

What are you up to on this dreary Monday?

Friday, January 3, 2014

Fightin' Irish Chain Finished

So I did manage to complete the Fightin' Irish Chain I made for my Dad for Christmas this year.  I showed progress (and my doubts about finishing in time) before, so here's the nitty gritty details and some pics to show it off.

I used Dana's EXCELLENT tutorial for a Double Irish Chain quilt except I made it smaller with only 56 blocks in the quilt.

I ordered the navy for the solids and it's actually Kona Nautical but the greens and yellows (on the front and back) are all from my stash.  It was kinda neat to use all of these fabrics that I'd used to make things for people in our family or friends and show them to Dad. Another connection through quilting.  ;)

The quilt measures about 70" x 80" making it one of the biggest quilts I've ever made.  I almost gave in and made it smaller a few times, but Chris reminded me every time that big guys need big quilts and my Dad wouldn't want just a little lap quilt.  And he's right, I'm glad I stuck it out and finished this one at the planned size.

For the back I just pulled a bunch of green and yellow scraps.  I'd accidentally cut a few too many navy and yellow strips and squares for the "B" blocks of the quilt so I pieced some of those together and then just filled in with yardage and pieces of stash.  You can't necessarily tell in the picture but most of the yellows on the back aren't solid but small patterns.  I really loved the back.

I machine-embroidered a little shamrock to one of the open squares.  I just wanted to add that little extra touch.  

For quilting, I just sewed diagonally through the green and yellow blocks.  It actually shows up better on the back, making a diagonal grid.  Because of my deadline (I had to have it finished by December 20), the lines aren't quite as straight as I might like but again Chris reminded me that my Dad didn't give a hoot if the lines were straight or not.  Again, he's right.

I used a navy binding and hand-sewed it to the back of the quilt in the car during the 16-hour drive (over 2 days) to my Grandparents' house for the holiday.

My Dad did love it and my hope is that it brings him comfort and warmth.  May he know how much I love him and appreciate all that he's done for me in this small gift I've made for him.  :)

I would definitely make this pattern again.  Double Irish Chains are both classic and visually stimulating.  The simple design makes it great for using up scraps and the way the quilt comes together almost magically makes all the strip piecing and pressing and cutting seem worth it in the end.  Definitely check out Dana's tutorial if you're interested in making this quilt.  And she is by no means compensating me for my raves about it, I just like to pass on good tips and tricks when I find them.

I'm linking up with Amanda Jean for Finish it Up Friday.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

A Random New Year

Starting off this year with some randomness seems appropriate around here.  :)

I finished up my last bee blocks for December on the 30th.  Squeaking in there...  Heather asked for Sawtooth Blocks in Saturated Colors.  I think this is going to be one bright and cheerful quilt.
Night pictures just don't do justice but these are already packed up to mail.  Sorry!
It started raining here yesterday afternoon and it's rained steady since.  I guess we're washing away the last threads of 2013.  But it makes for some dreary vacation.

The kids have played the XBox Kinect this afternoon since they can't go outside.  Oren just came in here all sweaty, so I guess they really are up and moving.  He asked for the Disney Infinity game console for Christmas but got a Kinect game called Pixar Rush or something like that.  So far they love it...

I dunked my phone yesterday afternoon so it's taking a long rice nap in hopes it'll come back to life.  If you think you're not addicted to your phone, have it taken away and see how often you actually reach for it.

This is the 3rd time (3 different phones) this has happened to me.  Obviously I need a waterproof case for my phone and any other valuables I may be carrying...

I finished up our Empower circle's May quilt top yesterday.  I asked the girls for improv square and rectangle blocks in this color scheme.

But since it's so out of my norm it took me awhile to decide on a layout.  I decided since I was going for it with the colors I'd go for it with the design too and randomly throw them down and go.  I like it.

Please excuse the inside, fighting rain and flash photography...  :)

I just pieced the back from fabrics I had handy.  I really just want to make a quilt top like this because I always end up liking it when I do this.  Sometimes more than the front actually...

This is so much better in real life.  I promise to get better photos.  That upper left rectangle is actually a light mottled gray not white.  And those blue flowers are on a blue background...uggh flash photography...

I ordered some purple variegated thread last night to quilt this one.  I think I'm just going to do a loopy meander to practice my free-motion quilting.

I cleaned half of my room this morning.  Of course it was the half where I store my magazines, books, sewing projects, stuff we need to keep but doesn't have a home, etc.  Chris came home and said WOW!  I actually thought the same thing myself when I got done.  I really do hate clutter, I just don't realize it till I'm overloaded with it.  ;)

I wanted to start this year off right with running to prep for my upcoming half-marathon but the rain's had other plans.  Instead I just ate a couple of leftover lemon bars we made on Tuesday.  

And now I'm off to fold some laundry, pull fabrics for some awesome bee blocks for this month and possibly get taken out for dinner.  Yes please!!

What are y'all up to on this random Thursday?

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Conquer 2014

As I've done in the past, I decided to focus on one word to set my goals for 2014.  I'm not one to make concrete statements of what I will or won't do in a year's time, but I do like to set goals of who I'd like to become or what I'd like to accomplish in the next 12 months.

My word for 2014?

Yep, I want to conquer those things holding me back.  Here are a few ways I plan to use the word conquer in 2014.

  • I want to conquer my old WIPS and UFOs sitting around my sewing room.
  • I want to conquer the clutter in my home and life in general (and of course my sewing room where there is way too much clutter!!)
  • I want to conquer my fears and doubts that hold me back from being all that I can be.
  • I want to conquer new boundaries and accomplish more than ever before.
  • I want to conquer my bad habits and fix them for good.

Lofty goals, I know, but there's no time like the present for change so I'm jumping in and making some changes starting today.  And yes, I do set more concrete goals both for sewing and for life that I post to remind and inspire myself but those are measurable and concrete and most importantly personal to me and what I'm doing.

I've got a dG.s quilt top (from May, gasp!!!) all laid out and ready to piece tonight before I head to bed.  One step at a time toward a healthier, braver and better me.

Do you make resolutions/goals?  Do you choose one word to focus your energies for the year?  What are yours?  Or do you forget that old tradition and just hang loose?