Thursday, April 30, 2009

The plan for right now is to embrace my stash and see what I can make with my "good stuff." Doesn't that sound far more productive than sulking and pouting about trying to stay mostly no-buy for the indefinite future?

I've decided to take it thirty days at a time, with very few exceptions. I'm allowed to spend on 90% off thrift store shirts and fabulously cheap estate sale fabric, or batting for quilts that I'm about to load into the longarm, because my access to it is so limited. If I make it the whole month, I'll buy one small thing off of my wish list -- that's batting, backings, patterns, books.

I can do this. I've done it before, but I've got a habit of rewarding myself with fabric and yarn for dealing with stressful crap, and there's far too much stressful crap going on in my life lately. Stuff that'll be resolved quickly won't actually kill any of us, but it's enough to mess up my days and keep me up at night. Add the no-buy thing to that, and I'm getting seriously annoyed.

On the bright side, I've put my foot down and absolutely refuse to speak to Pat the insurance adjuster ever again. And the phone is working for the moment.

I misplaced the notebook with my list of quilts in progress and it seems like I've also misplaced the quilts. I know where they should be, I'm just a little bit hazy on exactly what I'd be looking for. And I'm having too much fun with the new quilts to scroll black through blog posts and remind myself.



The Bento Box is FUN. I could have had it done in a day or two if I'd started with enough lights and darks. As it is, I'm glad I plunged in without counting, and I keep making a few blocks at a time as I unearth suitable prints from my stash.



All of the pieces for Weed Whacker are cut and there are a ton of them. I stitch them together in batches and as long as I keep slogging away at it I guess I'll have a quilt top soon. This is the first time I've laid out what I've got and I really do like it.



I've been reading lots of blog posts about string quilts. I've got a book from the library about string quilts (Not to mention five blocks of that string quilt I started ages ago!) A quilt I saw at the show last weekend finally pushed me over the edge, so I dug through my strings and pulled out all of the gardeny pastels and cut some foundation squares out of the ugliest color of not-cotton I could find.

I wonder if I've got enough fabric to make Alex a cute summery top like this one. I wonder if she'd wear it if I did. Do I remember how to make a ruffle?

Sunday, April 26, 2009

A new mystery

Stashbusters started a new mystery quilt this weekend -- Big Busted! The pattern itself is hilarious, so even though I have no clue what the finished quilt is going to look like (guess that's the point of a mystery, huh?) I scrambled around to find enough lights and darks that I could cut 44" strips from.



I got the strips sewn together for the first clue, then dug out the nine patch blocks that have been sitting waiting for me to cut them up and make them disappear.



Some of the blocks got twisted, but the pinwheel effect was so subtle I'm not going to worry about it. This little quilt turned out so cheerful and girly. I've got some ideas about how to machine quilt it if I can get the tension to cooperate.

The last light blocks for Weed Whacker are cut and I've got enough 2 1/2" squares to start piecing Simple Pleasures. And I've finished a couple more blocks for the Bento Box.

I'm feeling very productive today!

Friday, April 24, 2009

The quilt show started this morning and we were there, even though I couldn't work up a lot of enthusiasm about leaving the house that early. As soon as we pulled into the parking lot, both of my little guys announced that they wanted to go back to the house. Not even promises that both grandmas and their best friend Janet were waiting inside to hold hands with them changed their minds. My quilt show days are definitely numbered.

Quinn got very cooperative after we promised to buy him a milkshake if he walked and held Grandma's hand. Leif was a little less cooperative, but he's smaller and easier to lug around, so I did get to see all of the quilts.



I was going to stay away from the vendors, which turned out to be a mistake. The guild was selling books and patterns dirt cheap -- I'd love to have seen what was there when they started! I got a three books and two patterns for a grand total of seven bucks.



Aren't the fishing lures great? And the blackbirds. I love blackbirds. I've completely forgotten how much I hated doing blanket stitch around blackbirds.

And the fabric, which is exactly what I need to make those last six blocks for the red quilt. I'll have to tear apart some of the other blocks to make it work, which doesn't sound fun, but now I'm out of excuses. And I really do want to finish that quilt.

We also had a bit of a mystery. The shop called Grandma to let her know that a lady had brought in a bunch of quilting scraps. I assumed that it was the same dealer I'd bought the other fabric from, because I'd asked Grandma to tell her I was interested if she had littler pieces to get rid of. But it wasn't her.

No one knows who it was. Someone apparently heard Grandma talking to someone else about the quilting fabric she was getting for her granddaughter and brought it in. None of it actually is quilting cotton, but there are some neat upholstery fabrics in there and Alex is going to make tote bags and purses.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Time to start sewing!



This afternoon, I cut the rest of the green strips for my Weed Whacker quilt, including a few extra so I don't run into the same trouble I did with the red quilt. It feels good to have those done, but now I've got the three and a half inch light squares to look forward to. I think I'll sew some of the strips together first.

Or I'll play with my Bento Box. I'm delighted at how quickly the first few blocks came together, and surprised at how much fun I'm having with that fabric since my relationship with it started out so badly.

A few weeks back, a friend and I went on a little shop hop to find fabrics for her next quilt. I wasn't buying much of anything (mainly because I'd already splurged on the sale fabrics at Connecting Threads), but at the last shop I got sucked in by the Moda scrap bags.

I wanted to make selvage potholders. The bag that someone else had opened was full of selvages with pretty dots and words. I picked out one with dark edges visible and asked the saleslady if they all had selvages, took her word for it, and didn't open it until we'd left.

Not a single selvage -- not even the edges without printing. Every strip of the fabric was cut along both long edges. I did call the shop (which is 80 miles away) to let them know what happened, so they didn't unknowingly promise selvages to anyone else. They were very nice and offered to let me bring it back, or send it with a friend, or mail it back to them so they could send me one that did have selvages...

At that point, I wasn't about to spend any more money on the problem. The fabric was gorgeous, I'd done the math and figured that it worked out to about three yards of fabric for ten dollars, but I couldn't make my selvage potholders and I wouldn't have BOUGHT the fabric except for the potholders, and I was feeling crabby about the whole thing.

A while later, I sat down with the Bento Box pattern that I'd planned on using with my Root of the Madder fat quarters and realized that I didn't have the right balance of lights and darks. But I did have a bag of gorgeous fabric with lots of lights and darks that would trim down to 3" strips without wasting much fabric at all.

I'll have to throw in some lights and darks from my own stash, but as long as I can find prints that don't stick out like a sore thumb, I'm a very happy quilter.

That trouble I was talking about in my last post -- I did get myself into it yesterday. One of the dealers at Grandma's antique mall had brought in a bunch of quilting fabric for fifty to seventy-five cents a yard. I'm not sure exactly how many yards I got for my fifteen dollars, but I came home with at least twenty yards of nice fabric. And I hear she's bringing in more.

I was looking through a library book while Alex was in karate yesterday and found another five quilts I want to (and probably can) dig up fabric for -- and the quilt show is tomorrow, so I'm sure I'll come home from that with another dozen or so in mind!

How many quilts do I have to make out of my existing stash before I deserve a special treat? I discovered Bee in my Bonnet this morning and I'm absolutely enchanted by her patterns, especially Women's Work and Grandma's Kitchen. I can't decide if I'm more in love with the applique pressure cooker and hand mixer or the iron and vacuum cleaner with their little rick rack cords.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

At what deluded point does a quilter convince herself that the folded fabric doesn't count as stash? I hit that point this weekend, but I'm feeling a little saner now that I've got fabric pulled out for another few quilts that I suddenly must make.



Do you see those wonderful pieced whales and boats around the borders of North Passage?! It'll be by far the most complicated quilt I've tried so far, but between the scraps and the whales and the boats, I've GOT to give it a try.

My need to make Simple Pleasures is harder to explain. Maybe it's the way the snowball blocks look like circles. Or the 2 1/2" squares. I like scrappy little squares. I like quilts that use scrappy little squares and don't look anything like the other quilts I've already made that use scrappy little squares -- and I think I've found my explanation!

And there's going to be a Bento Box (with the Moda scrap bag that didn't have any selvages in it), and the green Weed Whacker, and the scrappy courthouse steps. And a scrappy pineapple quilt when I work up the nerve to tackle that one.

These might keep me out of trouble for a while. If I didn't know exactly what trouble I plan on getting myself into later this week.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

I spent the afternoon fighting with my stash. My plan was to pull out lights and darks for a couple of ambitious quilts I'm hoping to start soon, then cut some 3" strips out of what was left in the scrap bags. I'd found a new block pattern this morning that I wanted to use for a baby quilt.

I've already pulled out all of the reds for the red quilt, and the blues for the flying birds quilt, and the greens that I hadn't already pulled out for the tree quilt are out now so I can use them for a Weed Whacker quilt. Oh, and I pulled out the browns when I was working on the Irish Chain...

Those scrap bags are getting pretty picked over. There's still plenty of fabric in them, but it's odd shapes and sizes or it's not cotton, or there's some other reason I haven't used it yet.

I did manage to scrounge enough fabric to make this --



The bags are slowly vanishing. Isn't that neat? Means I've almost got an excuse to look for more.

Friday, April 17, 2009

First Annual Bloggers Quilt Festival

This is the quilt I was hoping to enter in the Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show this year. It doesn't look like I'll get to go at all, but they do it every year and I'll be there next year and the year after that. And this is as good a chance as any to show off what I made my grandma for Christmas.

HPIM1773

I had a very strong bias against log cabin quilts, started by a quilt shop owner who answered my question about another pattern by telling me that I couldn't make a quilt until I took a class and everyone had to make a log cabin quilt as their first one. I really don't like being told what I can and can't make.

Quite a few years later, I'd made a few quilts and still never taken a class or intended to ever make a log cabin. My eleven year old daughter had made one. My mother had made one. And although they now don't remember it, they both told me that they'd decided you couldn't be a real quilter until you did a log cabin.

My best friend was in the middle of her own log cabin quilt using the Quilt in a Day book and I was talking her through it over the phone. The more I looked at the pattern and saw how quickly hers was coming together, the more it started to seem like a log cabin would be an perfect way to make the dinosaur quilt that I'd bought fabric for when Heath was a baby. So I did.

And then I saw a picture of a scrappy log cabin. Thin little strips of fabric. Lots and lots of them, in hundreds of different colors and prints. THAT was the log cabin I wanted to make. So I started cutting and sewing and the more strips I cut and sewed together, the more I fell in love with my quilt.

In mid-November I showed my grandma, who doesn't quilt but is the source of most of my scraps, a picture of my half-finished quilt. She really liked it, and I decided that I had to give her a quilt for Christmas, and it had to be a log cabin, but I didn't want to give up my own.

So I started a second one and somehow got it quilted and bound in time for Christmas eve. I'd thought about finishing mine for her and then starting a second one after the holidays were over and I wouldn't have to rush, but I just couldn't bring myself to give it up. So I pieced another thirty-five blocks.

The weather turned nasty and I wound up venturing out onto icier roads than I've ever even dreamed of driving on to get batting and backing. I ripped out more machine quilting than I left in. The weather got worse, and it didn't look like we'd see Grandma or anyone else on Christmas day. And I got it done. And the weather cleared up in time for Christmas dinner.

By the time I got both tops done, I was so burned out on thin little strips that I still haven't quilted my own log cabin top, but I'm so glad I made the twin quilts.
I'm even gearing up to cut more 1 1/2" strips of lights and darks so I can make a scrappy pineapple and a courthouse steps.

This one is mine --

HPIM1771

Park City Girl is hosting a Spring 2009 Quilt Festival -- go check out the other quilts!




Thursday, April 16, 2009

Am I the only one trying to knit a pair of Lake Effect Double Knit Mittens?! It sure seems like it. Mine is the only project on Ravelry. I've googled and there's no mention of these mittens anywhere that I can find. I even searched the archives at Knitlist and Knittalk. There's no mention of this pattern anywhere.

I'm ready to knit the thumb stitches onto waste yarn. I've done the same thing plenty of times with regular mittens, but this whole double layer thing is making me nervous. And after that there are the colorwork charts, which make me even more nervous...and even if I do pull it off and make an actual mitten, it's not going to fit even the littlest hands in the house because the bottom edge has no stretch to it.

If I do finish this thing, it's going to be purely decorative. Why am I doing this? Because it seemed like an entertaining, quick project that I could handle. It's a lot more involved than I expected, but I'm tired of casting things on and then giving up and ripping them back out again.

Another fabric give away, this time at The Farm Chicks. They're giving away two yards of fabric from Pixie Dust and the chateau charlotte has such an adorable story book feel to it that I couldn't resist entering.

And this, which starts tomorrow, looks like it could be a lot of fun. I've got my quilt all picked out.



Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Finally -- my first knitting finish for 2009! It's the Victorian Scarf in Knitpicks Crayon. Jalapeno, because they were out of Beach Glass when I placed my order.



I like this pattern. It knit up in a couple of evenings and was interesting, but simple enough that I could keep track of it with my pack of kids running through the room. I'd recommend as a beginning lace project, but with a different yarn because I had a hard time reading my stitches with the boucle even though I supposedly know what I'm doing.

The yarn itself is incredibly soft and smooshy. I haven't had the time or patience to try wet blocking it yet and find out if the lace in my scarf will stretch out and lay as nicely as the one in the pattern. Maybe when the blocking wires get here, which might be today.



I was so annoyed by my goof with the palette colors that I forgot all about my other new goodies until I got into the box for the skein of Crayon.

I love the Knitting Needle Coil Wraps. In this picture, they're around four size two needles and they're very snug. Looks like they'll stretch enough for bigger needles, but nothing is going to fall out. I want these for ALL of my dpns. Fifty cents each seemed pricey at first, but not when I considered how much I've got invested in needles.

I did read on one of the knitting lists a while back that you could cut up one of those plastic coil ID holders and get the same result, but I don't know where to get one of those.

I like the Sock Knitting Needle Holders too. It was a bit of a challenge to get my sock into it, but to pack them for travelling in the car, this may be exactly what I needed.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

I got the tree together!



After getting up before dawn to see dh off to work, it seemed like I might as well work on it for a while before it was time to drag the kids out of bed. It went a lot faster than I expected and if I hadn't put one entire section together backwards, I would've had it done before I started breakfast. An on-time breakfast, not one that's really closer to lunch time.

I wound up ripping and resewing the messed up section after we finished school for the day, but it's together and I really like the combination of greens and neutrals I wound up using. The selection process was more "rummage through the scrap bags and see what's in there" than carefully considered and planned.

This is one of those "use your design wall" projects, and I still don't have a design wall. If I'd planned ahead, I would have laid out the flannel side of my old table cloth so I could take my time instead of racing the clock and kids, but it was five in the morning and I was happy enough to be getting something done.

Now I've got to figure out the borders. The pattern calls for a solid green border, but I want to do something pieced. I'm tempted to add multiple borders and make it a lap quilt.

Check out the giveaway at Turning*Turning. Her post about stash infusion has me wondering -- is $12,000 of fabric okay if you use it up?

Monday, April 13, 2009

I'm making myself a little tree quilt.



The pieces are all cut -- now I've just got to plug in the sewing machine. I cut out the pieces for a disappearing nine-patch baby quilt yesterday, and finished cutting the pieces for a bargello baby quilt...and I don't feel like sewing them together.

Maybe I should just keep cutting until my mood changes.

Wouldn't it be fun to win thirty fat quarters? Pig Tales & Quilts is giving them away to celebrate her daughter's 30th birthday. And The Bitchy Stitcher is giving away a quilt she doesn't like and doesn't want to bind. I think it's pretty.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Jacob's Snails



I like this little quilt. My corners don't all line up the way they should (my corners never do, but in this three color quilt it's a lot more obvious!) but I've ripped seams out and resewn them and ripped and resewn again and this is as good as it's going to get.

I've got a narrow red border and a wide brown border to add, if things ever settle down enough for me to snag some time at the sewing machine.

We're buying a car. Yuck.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

HOW?!

I've been waiting for my birthday splurge from Knitpicks, crossing my fingers that it would be at the post office today so I'd have it before we return the rental car and are plunged back into indefinite one car limbo. It was there, except for the blocking wires, which will be coming in a separate box.

That's fine. I've made it this long without blocking wires. What I was dying to get my hands on was the yarn for my Gothic Revival Shawl.

I ordered the wrong color. After walking around for several days with my heart set on Asphalt Heather, I'm not sure if I changed my mind and ordered Marble instead or if I just goofed, but my yarn is not the color I've had my heart set on all week.

Monday, April 06, 2009

I spent a good chunk of yesterday trying to figure out why I'm suddenly so achy, since I wasn't anywhere near the accident. It finally dawned on me -- pushing the stroller a mile uphill to check out the for sale sign on a car Bill noticed the night before probably played a part.

And maybe wrestling this baby out of her cabinet and toting her up form the barn helped a bit, too. She weighs an absolute ton. But I'm not about to blame Great-Grandma's sewing machine.



I'd been reading blog post after blog post about wonderful old vintage machines and it finally dawned on me that I have one. Until yesterday, it was bolted into a cabinet, so there was no way I could move it around myself. So it sat in Bill's shop at the old house, and got put in the barn when we moved into this house, and there it's sat.

After having it tucked away in storage for so long, I'd almost forgotten what it looked like. The last time I used it, for Alex's first Halloween costume, it worked fine, but now there seems to be something wrong with the belt.

I was hoping it would work without a trip to the repair shop, but at least it's got the foot pedal, which has been lost and found a couple of times over six moves and almost twenty years!

My life has been taken over by the insurance adjusters. I spent most of the day yesterday on the phone with people at our insurance company, people at the other insurance company, the doctor's office, the car rental company... Not to mention several hours in my driveway with the guy whose job it was to decide if the car could be repaired or was totalled.

If I'd known he was going to base part of its value on how clean it was, I would've washed the thing and drug out the shop vac. How stupid and unfair is THAT?!

The car isn't happy, either. I don't know what happened, or how it could have happened, but I walked past the kitchen window and she was running. Not like a car is supposed to run, because the front end is totally smashed and the radiator is gone, but the engine was revving and smoking. It has a remote starter, which must have malfunctioned, but we still can't figure out how.

Tapping the brake is supposed to stop the engine, unless you put the key in first. I can't tell you how much I did NOT want to get near that car, but I did. And it didn't work. Pushing the buttons on the remote didn't work.

I'd already called my husband at work once yesterday, which involves going through several people to get to his supervisor and then leaving messages, so I don't do it unless it's a serious emergency. I'd already called once to find out what to do about the rental car situation and he called me back in a panic because they made it sound like the house was on fire.

This time, I told his supervisor that if I didn't talk to him right that second, I was going to have to call the fire department. And in the two minutes it took for him to call me back, the engine died. Of course it did. And somehow the men completely misunderstood me and Bill got home thinking that the alarm had been going off.

I'd like for today to be much calmer. I've got snails to piece.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

It was such a nice morning yesterday. The kids were playing outside and Leif had discovered that there are nice bugs and baby worms under old bricks and one of the hawks was soaring high over the house and one of the geese was sitting on her eggs and I went in to make grilled cheese sandwiches for lunch, thinking I'd have a chance to work on the new quilt soon.

And the phone rang.

We're suddenly a one car family. I knew it was going to happen eventually -- our second car was twenty-two years old -- but it didn't need to happen yesterday. I'm going to try not to whine about it too much here, but I'm seriously tired of other people driving into our cars.

Today is show and tell at Mom's house. I've been looking forward to it all week and have a big plastic tote loaded with all of my new quilt tops. I'm taking the new Featherweight so I can learn how to make it do its thing. But even though I know it will be an absolute blast, I've lost a lot of my enthusiasm.

I'm not even as excited about my new project as I was before the phone rang.



Those are snails! I've wanted to do snails forever, but been intimidated by all of the triangles. They aren't that bad -- although mine are probably a bit wonky. The fabric is Irrisistible Indigo from Connecting Threads, which I'm absolutely in love with.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

I posted at Stashbusters about my drama with the red quilt. It made me feel so much better to have someone agree with me that it sucks to discover you're a couple of blocks short just when you thought you were almost done.

Candra suggested that I double check the sewing room, but I'm fairly sure the blocks don't exist yet. It looks like I pinned them together in stacks of eight (the number of blocks in a row) and then counted them as stacks of ten. The math works, even if I don't want to believe I did that.

Becky suggested that I use the off-center barn raising that I used for the scrappy log cabin quilts. I'm tempted, but it feels like it would cheating.

There were a couple more light reds hiding in my newest scrap bag, but to make it work right, I'll have to take apart some of the existing blocks and mix the old lights with the red ones...and I'm not sure I've got the patience for THAT, so it's going to sit for a while.

I won't have the right combination of time and floor space for at least a week. And my birthday present to myself arrived from Connecting Threads yesterday, so I've got something new and pretty to play with.
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