Monday, June 29, 2009

I've tackled the list! Two sides of the Weed Whacker are sewn down. I got the background of the little chicken wall hanging pieced and the bits of wool felt cut out. I also got the baby cat quilt finished --- not as nicely as I'd hoped, but it's done. I'm not sure if done really is better than perfect in this case, but I'm not trying to pick out the quilting and redo it.



I was going to start quilting Layered Squares the other night when I went over to keep a friend company while she started a new project, but it turned out that the yellow and white gingham I'd planned on using was really nasty. I don't know if I'd never looked at it closely, or if I'd hated the quilt so much I didn't care how bad the fabric was, but when I finally got ready to pin, I couldn't make myself do it. So my friend and I went shopping and now I've got a very nice purple and white print to use.

And I've got a date with the long arm later this week -- hopefully Birds in the Air will be ready for binding soon!

Friday, June 26, 2009

mustn't start anything new....mustn't start anything new...mustn't start anything new....

That's the mantra over at Stashbusters these days, and although I'm not sure I agree with it, it might just be possible that I should come up with my own variation. While Bill was in Safeway picking up some stuff for dinner and I was stuck in the car with the kids (because sometimes it really is much faster to do it that way than for all of us to go in and trek through the store)I made a list of my WIPs. Not UFOs, projects that I'm really working on and expect to finish. Just the ones that I could list without really thinking too hard.

There are twenty five of them.

That might actually be a lot.

  • Weed Whacker -- needs binding sewn down
  • Bento Box -- blocks need to be sewn into a top
  • Simple Pleasures -- lots of piecing left to do - but the snowballs are done!
  • Lover's Knot -- 250 blocks left to piece
  • Courthouse Steps -- I've been cutting strips, but not started piecing
  • Chicken Kit -- gotta make sure there's enough wool
  • Bagsket
  • Dino Quilt -- need to piece back and quilt
  • Cat Baby Quilt -- need to quilt and bind
  • rail fence -- need to quilt
  • layered squares -- need to quilt
  • red quilt -- finish last six blocks and assemble
  • scrappy cats -- more blocks to piece
  • lattice strippy -- 13 more blocks
  • cat bed -- quilt and figure out zipper
  • flower baskets -- lots of applique
  • A's Scrappy Mountains Majesty -- sew down binding
  • my own Scrappy Mountains Majesty -- quilt
  • Dot to Dot -- choose fabric for binding
  • Tea Pots -- choose fabric for binding
  • Leif's Snails -- quilt
  • Cheery Buzzsaws
  • Glittering Gems -- quilt
  • Blue Bargello -- Quilt
  • Birds in the Air -- Quilt
  • North Pacific

    And, as if that wasn't bad enough, there's another list of projects I can't wait to start, which I probably can scrounge up the fabric for. (Aren't scrappy quilts wonderful!)I might feel guiltier if I hadn't just finished three other projects.

    So my thought is that if I try to finish at least one project from the list each week (based on my husband's weekly work schedule, not the actual calendar that the rest of the world follows), I can start new things from my stash without guilt.

    Even keeping it up for ten weeks would make a huge dent in the list. Not counting whatever new projects I add while I'm at it!
  • Monday, June 22, 2009

    Although I love the way that snowball blocks look in finished quilts, I'm not all that excited about piecing them. My latest pet project needed eighty.

    Eighty is a lot of something you don't really want to piece. The corners snag on my quarter inch foot. But if I use the foot that doesn't snag, I can't alternate the corners with other things. But, as of tonight, I don't have to worry about that until I decide to make another quilt with snowballs.

    Because my eighty blocks are done. Now I've got to piece together about seven hundred little 2 1/2" squares to make the sashing that goes between the snowballs. Sound like excellent leaders and enders to anyone else?

    I laid a few out to see if it was really going to look anything like I had pictured in my mind. Controlled scrappy quilts still make me a bit nervous, especially when I have firm ideas about how I want them to turn out.

    I think I've got what I wanted --



    And I know I've got what I wanted here --



    Last night, I cut the last of the fabric for my Bento Box and got the lights and darks paired together. Tonight, I sewed the last twenty blocks. And, given my recent track record, I had to lay them all out to reassure myself that I'd counted right and that I really did have all sixty-four.

    I'm torn between the urge to assemble the top right now and getting it quilted as soon as humanly possible and my reluctance to sew the blocks together because then the layout will be permanent and there's no more shifting things around. I'm also not sure what I want to back it with. Unlike most of my other quilts, this one is mostly quilt shop fabric. Maybe I should try to find some nice (and affordable) fabric for the back.

    Sunday, June 21, 2009

    I tried piecing letters today, inspired by the fantastic ones at Lazy Gal Quilting. Doesn't that Halloween sounds quilt make you wannt to start one of your own? There are some directions for pieced letters here.


    Saturday, June 20, 2009

    Just the thought of machine quilting has been making me skittish. Using the machine at all makes me a bit nervous. Not enough to keep me from quilting, but still -- I guess piecing the tip of your little finger back together with steri-strips will do that to you.

    My quilting opportunities have been too limited to give up, but I'm very aware of that rapidly moving needle and what it's going to do to me if I don't keep my fingers out of the way. I've never had to concentrate on that quite so much. (On the bright side, my two preschoolers have received a very graphic illustration of how the sewing machine can hurt you and why they should never touch it. Leif was helping me sew this morning by standing there and reminding me not to sew my little finger again.)

    I'm not sure if my new semi-phobia had anything to do with it, but assembling the blocks of my Weed Whacker took a lot longer than I expected it to. The blocks weren't going together quite right (my blocks rarely do), and I had a feeling that I was going to wind up trashing the whole thing. That feeling's been with me through most of this quilt.

    It took two nights to get it sewn together and then I decided to pin baste it while I still felt the slightest glimmer of hope. It looked good, but the thing wasn't anywhere near flat. (Most of my quilts aren't.)



    I got a sheet from the sewing room that I thought wouldn't clash too horribly, and some of the polyester batting I bought on sale a while back, and my pins, and crawled around on the floor. And it came together. It smoothed out enough to make me content and the backing actually went with the front, and the next thing I knew I was clearing off the table around my sewing machine and looking for my darning foot.

    I did half of the quilting last night and the rest this morning. I'm not about to show it to any experienced machine quilters for fear that they'd laugh at me -- or try to convince me to rip it out and do it again -- but it's so much better than my last attempt I can't believe it.

    I decided to use the leftover sheet for the binding and got that cut and machine stitched on and it's all ready for me to snuggle up and do some hand-stitching.

    I think I've been afraid that if I turned my back on this one, it was going to fall apart on me. (I really thought I'd wind up tying the thing and shoving it into the boys' room where I could pretend it didn't exist.) Now that it's done, I'm almost giddy.

    I liked this Mountain Mist batting more than I expected to. Not as much as Warm and Natural, which I absolutely love, but it's considerably cheaper and if I'm making utility quilts for the kids out of scraps, it'll work. As long as it holds up in the wash.

    Now I've got a stack of other tops that I'm dying to get quilted, but I should probably make some more progress on the sewing room excavation.

    Thursday, June 18, 2009

    I am so in love with this quilt that I've even lost my bitterness about the selvedge bag with no selvedges in it. I might've made a Bento Box if that hadn't happened, but it wouldn't be this one. And I really really like this one.



    I think it'll be done soon, but I'm not in a big hurry. I'm having too much fun watching the fabrics come together into blocks to rush.

    I do want to rush Simple Pleasures, because I don't have enough faith that it's going to come out the way it looks in my head.

    And I want to get started on North Pacific.

    A few weeks ago, I was blindsided by an ad in one of my new quilting magazines -- you know, that sudden urge to grab the car keys and head out the door to search for that particular yarn or fabric or magazine or piece of wood from Home Depot. I rarely -- more like never ever -- have that reaction to quilt shop fabric. But the ad for Moda Shirtings 1875-1900 got me.

    I'd been wanting shirtings ever since I read Scraps and Shirttails, even without Moda trying to seduce me into the fabric shop with descriptions of "Kittens, dogs, horses heads, sewing tools such as thimbles, needles moving thru fabric..." Actually, I'm more tempted by the ad copy than the fabric in the line. And just look at the log cabin border on that quilt in the picture!

    Turns out that the line isn't even available yet, or wasn't when I was keeping an eye open for it on that shop hop with my best friend. But I did find a fat sixteenth of a needle moving through fabric. That little piece has already been incorporated into the Bento Box and is one of my favorite prints in the whole quilt so far.

    That North Pacific quilt absolutely demands white fabric with little blue or black prints on it. Joann's doesn't have anything even remotely appropriate. I've got a few suitable fabrics in my stash, but not nearly enough.

    It was exactly the wrong time for Moda to be tempting me with something that would be absolutely perfect if it wasn't so pricey. Aren't I lucky that those fabrics don't seem to be available quite yet?

    And aren't I lucky that I saw the discussion of Whittle's Fabrics when it happened on Quilting on a Budget not long ago? THEY have shirtings, which I like better than the ones in the Moda collection, and which are four bucks a yard.



    I am completely in love. I want to roll around in this fabric. I want to order lots of the other fabrics on their site. (It's a bit harder to have self control when the fabric is so gorgeous and so affordable.) But I'll try to finish a few projects first and have faith that they'll still be there and have pretty stuff when it's time to shop again.

    We did some thrift store shopping with Grandma yesterday and I found a perfect sheet to use for the back of Simple Pleasures. And another perfect vintage sheet that had to stay at the thrift shop because it was full of cigarette holes. At least I saw them before I bought it.

    Quilting on a Budget is giving away the Quiltopoly board game. Wouldn't that be fun to win?

    Tuesday, June 16, 2009

    the excavation continues



    I'm slowly sifting through the mounds of fabric and patterns and half finished projects that've accumulated in the corner of the dining room. No one else can tell by looking, but I'm making progress.

    The last few blocks for the cat bed are pieced and the leftover strings are put away with the rest of my strings.

    I sorted through my piles of potential Bento Box fabrics and cut what I had, then counted to see what I still need. Only two darks and seven lights, and I'm optimistic that I can pull those from my stash.

    I emptied out a storage box for the pieced sections Simple Pleasures and sorted my light and dark squares into a box that's within easy reach for leaders and enders.


    But my happiest accomplishment for today is redoing the quilt ladder. It's been buried in lace shawls ever since Grandpa made it for me. This morning, the lace went up to my sewing room and the quilt tops came down. THESE are the ones I'm waiting to quilt on Mom's longarm. The ones I keep almost forgetting because there's always another quilt top I've finished or want to finish.

    I hope that having them right there in front of me will motivate me to schedule some time to go up and quilt them. It's not all of the tops, not by a long stretch. Sparkling Gems should be there (it's hiding behind the log cabin), but as much as I love that quilt top, it looks awful folded and hanging on the ladder and the goal here is to encourage myself.

    Saturday, June 13, 2009

    My deal with myself was that if I stayed strictly no-buy (which I haven't managed), I could start as many new projects as I wanted. So I've been starting new projects right and left and have a dozen or so more that I want to start.

    That'd be fine if I hadn't done a hurried clean up of my sewing area and totally lost track of what I was working on and where it all was. I've got a scary mess on my hands, which I decided to tackle last night.

    I assembled the pink and blue applique cat blocks into a top and went out to the sewing room to find something to use for the backing. I've got some big hunks of pink and blue gingham, but since I don't like gingham and didn't want to deal with it, they're deliberately buried.

    I did find a huge length of soft yellow stuff that would work great, and another top for a baby quilt that I wanted to finish. A little quick outlining around the pinwheel shapes, fold the backing around to the front and sew it down as a binding...

    It all seemed like a quick and easy finish until I was fighting to get the quilt turned around a tight corner and hit the foot pedal before I got my little finger out of the way. It's been almost twenty years since I machine stitched my own finger, and I'd forgotten how gruesome and painful the results are.

    A couple of hours, some butterfly bandages and a bit of Neosporin later, I worked up the nerve to go check on the quilt, if only to make sure there wasn't a bit of broken needle unaccounted for. I don't know how it didn't get bled on, but it was like I'd just got up to take a break.

    My finger had mostly stopped throbbing, so I sat back down and got the rest of the quilting and the binding done. I've had so little quilting time lately that I'm not going to give up any good opportunities.



    And, since it was only midnight, I finished hand stitching the binding on this one:



    I still think I made a mess of it, but it'll make a serviceable baby quilt for some little guy. I've just gotta find one whose mother can appreciate flawed utility quilts.

    Now that I've found my new packages of safety pins, I've got two more baby quilts to get pinned and ready for quilting.

    And this one, which is going to be for Leif's bed --



    I can't get over how much nicer it looks with the borders on. Wide borders don't usually appeal to me, but I love these. Now I've just got to figure out the best way for me to quilt them.

    Does having two new FOs count if those projects weren't contributing to the chaos? I did find the blocks for the cat bed so I can work on that tonight. Then I can put away the strings that I've been trying to keep separate for that project.

    Wednesday, June 10, 2009

    Today was errand day and we were on the road for hours. I really didn't think I'd get it all done, but the kids are signed up for the library summer reading club, the mail's been picked up, groceries bought, karate classes taken... and even though I had to double back to the house because I'd forgotten the torn couch cushions and the pharmacy filled our prescriptions at the wrong location so I had to drive across town an extra time, I'm feeling pretty cheerful.

    The apron book I've had reserved at the library came in and most of the patterns (except for my absolute favorite) only call for a yard of fabric. I've got some cute one yard cuts of fabric!

    I ducked into Joann's for the new issue of Quiltmaker because I wanted to check out Bonnie Hunter's new mystery and absolutely fell in love with the cover quilt. It's got curves. And I really really like Dusky Meadows, which strikes me as very Bento Boxy. I'm thinking Halloween prints, because I've got a ton of those.

    There's a new Knitty, and the patterns actually loaded on my computer. I've gotta make The Deadliest Crab. Because that's what you do after you knit a disappointing lobster, isn't it? And a Trilobite hat for one of the boys. If I had a little girl, I'd be knitting Elenka I think I've got some pink cotton that was going to be an apron....maybe I could knit one for charity? And there's Kingdom, a gorgeous pair of cabled gloves. And Treetop Socks, a cabled pair of kneehighs that makes me drool. And Outside In, another pair of gorgeous socks.

    Now I've gotta put the couches back together and start some laundry. Hopefully my energy will hold out a bit longer and I can do a few more string blocks.

    Tuesday, June 09, 2009

    This afternoon, while I was trying to pretend that I thought my noisy little boys were actually taking a nap, I played with strings.



    Yes, I've already got a scary number of UFOs, but I wanted to play with something that didn't matter. And I was pleasantly surprised when I laid the blocks out on the floor to see if I had a disaster or the beginning of a baby blanket.

    There are several more big pieces of solid fabric in my sewing room, so this may be the first in a batch of baby quilts.

    Monday, June 08, 2009

    We've been travelling. Which is great and wonderful and fantastic, but by the time we got home I was really looking forward to playing with my sewing machine and letting everything else go for a few hours.

    It hasn't been that easy.

    In addition to a few other things we didn't expect or feel like dealing with, we walked into a house without running water. Something's wrong with the pump. Or the well. The water is sort of mostly running now, but it's definitely not the color I want my water to be.

    I knew I should've washed those white sheets before we left!

    We spent most of the trip in a time share unit that felt almost as big as our house, but on the way there and back we stayed at a couple of motels that are more what we're used to. I was trying to fall asleep the second night when I felt something fall into my hair.

    I don't want anything falling in my hair in a cheap motel room. I can't tell you how hard it was to reach up and feel whether or not something actually was in my hair. At least I didn't scream and wake up all four kids. I did wake up Bill to find out what it was and make sure it got out of my hair.

    It was a safety pin. Not just a safety pin, it was the bent kind that quilters use.

    Any quilters out there have a reason for putting their bent safety pins in the ceiling of a motel room? Trying to figure out how it got there kept me up that night. Well that, and the fear that something else would fall on me.
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