Monday, January 31, 2011

North Pacific

Now that I've pulled out the pattern and pieces and taken a good look at it, I'm feeling better about North Pacific. It would be possible to finish it in a month. Not likely, but possible.

Things have changed since I packed it away.

I've got the Go! to use for the rest of those 1500 half square triangles. Not having to measure them perfectly or cut them...and then not having to press the squares open and trim the dog ears...that could be the difference between this quilt happening or not happening. I don't mind sewing the triangles, but if I can make the cutting easier, I'm all for it.

Those bonus half square triangles I was saving from Monkey Business can be trimmed down to the size I need for the itty bitty sail pieces. So I don't have to cut those, either!

The long side pieces of boat background are supposed to be 2 1/2 x 4 1/2, but I decided to piece them with 2 1/2" squares I already had cut. I like the way it looks, but the background for the whales is an odd size I can't figure out how to piece.... so I may be redoing my boats after I finish some whales and see how it looks together.

Bill took the kids and I to the movies today. A local theater has fifty cent admission on Mondays, so it works out to about $20 for all six of us to see a movie and gorge on popcorn -- and most of that cost is the popcorn! Over the past couple of years, if it's Monday and we feel like going out, we see if there's something playing that the little guys will sit through.

Between the content advisories on the Internet Movie Database, and the Common Sense Ratings on Netflix, I can usually figure out if movies are going to be appropriate for the kids or not. I don't always agree with their logic, but it's better than guessing blindly based on a couple of commercials and the actual rating. Do those make any sense to anyone anymore?

I really wish I could find something like that for books. My teenage daughter brought one home from the young adult section of the library this week that absolutely horrifies me. She was in a hurry and picked it based on the intriguing title and cover. I looked through her books, read the description, was concerned, then started to read the book. I'm on page 68 and have lost track of how many times the main character has been sexually assaulted -- and that's not the worst of it.

This is a young adult book, not an adult title that wound up in the wrong section. The publisher's site says it's for readers age sixteen and up. That's great, but are the sixteen-year-olds still getting books from the young adult section? I'd rather my teenager didn't read it, but the world wouldn't end if she did. But my ten year old is starting to read YA books, and if I literally read 24/7 I wouldn't be able to pre-read everything the kids want to know if they can read.

I don't think for a second that they should rate books, but I would love a cheat sheet somewhere!

Sunday, January 30, 2011


I've been waiting anxiously to see what the UFO number for February was going to be, crossing my fingers that it was anything but #1 (Chickens at the Crossroads, which I can't find) or #2 (Spools, which would be impossible to finish in a month.) It was a huge relief when I saw that Patchwork Penguin had picked the number for the month and it was #8.

Then I checked my list and realized that my goal for this month is now to finish North Pacific. It's not a good month for this one....or maybe it is. Maybe I can channel my stress into a whole lot of Ocean Waves blocks and that intricately pieced border full of whales and sailing ships.

I've already given my Go! a workout this morning, cutting hundred of the 2 1/2" triangles I need for my blocks. Not that I couldn't cut them all with the ruler and rotary cutter, but it's so much easier not worrying about that 7/8" and cutting all of the squares in half.

Weekly Stash Report

Fabric Used this Week: 6 1/2 yards
Fabric Used year to Date: 6 1/2 yards
Added this Week: 30 yards
Added Year to Date: 176 yards
Net Used for 2011: - 169.5 yards

Yarn Used this Week: 200 yards
Yarn Used year to Date: 1350 yards
Yarn Added this Week: 450 yards
Yarn Added Year to Date: 3050 yards
Net Used for 2011: -1700 yards

Yes, I bought more fabric. The thrift stores have more scrap bags in January, probably a result of quilters who made New Year's resolutions and decided to declutter. I'm still picking up the good stuff when I find it, knowing that there won't be as much later in the year. My goal is to organize my stash, not to get rid of it!

Friday, January 28, 2011


I would've probably said that I didn't like limits on my quilting, if I hadn't been finishing these two quilts when the discussion came up.

When I started this one, I had a big hunk of off white muslin that didn't match any of my other muslin. So I cut enough for the green and white baby quilt, then cut as many 2 1/2" squares as I could from what was left. There were just barely enough for another 30x30 inch baby quilt.

Then I decided to make a lap quilt instead, which meant making the center as large as possible with the white squares I had and adding borders to bring it up to the size the nursing home asked for.

I saw the quilt that inspired this one from across a quilt shop. The fabrics I wanted to use were a sampler of fat eighths, which meant figuring out what size squares I could cut from them, and how many I'd have, and then working with what I had.

Those would be limits, right? The kind of things I'm always limited by without really thinking much about it. I work with whatever was in the stash bags...I quilt in the time left over after taking care of my family...I choose patterns based on my current skills and ability...and now and then I put silly limits on myself just because it seems like a good idea at the time.

I rarely stick to those for long.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

trying to be patient

Wondered why I'm stressing so much over a binding?

This thing won't be heading for any quilt shows, but it's turning out okay. I've still got two sides to go, but it's going to get done -- maybe even by the end of January.

I still don't like this quilt. While sewing the binding, I realized that I'd love it if it was a postage stamp quilt, if the big blocks were patches of sixteen little squares, and the little blocks along the edge were four squares... gotta dig through my stash and cut more squares. Almost a thousand for Scrap Vomit, at least another thousand for this new idea, and more for that other postage stamp quilt I saw in a magazine last week...

I am getting really desperate for things to settle back to normal so that I can spend a couple of days wallowing in my fabric stash.

Weekly Stash Report

Fabric Used this Week: 0 yards
Fabric Used year to Date: 0 yards
Added this Week: 120 yards (there's an explanation for that, a very good one!)
Added Year to Date: 146 yards
Net Used for 2011: -146 yards

Yarn Used this Week: 200 yards
Yarn Used year to Date: 1150 yards
Yarn Added this Week: 0 yards
Yarn Added Year to Date: 2600 yards
Net Used for 2011: -1450 yards

Friday, January 21, 2011

sometimes you need a deadline

Quilting the 30s top shouldn't have taken longer than an afternoon, maybe two. It's not a large quilt. I'm only doing a basic meander, and I'm not being too picky about technique.

But somehow the quilting dragged on and on like you would not believe. This has got to be the free motion equivalent of the Yarn Harlot's black hole of knitting. Not a fun place to be, especially on a project you've fallen completely out of love with.

Yesterday, I decided that I had to be done quilting by the boys' bedtime tonight so I could do something actually fun with my Mommy time tonight. I finished with an hour to spare, and I've already started the binding.

If I can do a side a day (four days for the machine stitching, and four days for the hand stitching) I can get this done by the end of the month.

I am going to get this done.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

this quilt may be jinxed

I've free motion quilted a couple of small quilts since my last tension war with the Janome. I don't remember having much trouble with Grandma's Donuts.

But the 30's quilt and the Janome and I are not getting along well at all. There's the tension. And the fact that I've got a zillion different corners to work with. And it just doesn't feel right.

But I am going to get this thing quilted so I can move on to the binding. Which is the whole point of the quilt.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

done is better than perfect, I guess

It's seriously tempting to just curl up in the corner of the couch and sulk, even when we're having a good day and I could get some sewing done. I'm still stressed and waiting on things that are beyond my control, so I've decided to loosen up on my quilty goals for now, except for the Patchwork Penguin UFO challenge.

To pin baste the 30s quilt, I needed the front room to be free of kids and their stuff. There are only a couple of chances a week to make that happen, and I've been missing my chances. It doesn't help that I'm not enthused about this quilt.

It finally dawned on me that I've got twelve yards of lavender stuff that might be Kona left from that barn sale last winter. It's perfect, and I won't miss the few yards that this quilt will take. I got my back pieced, tossed it into the dryer to warm the wrinkles out, and then found the mud stains my daughter's cat left when she slept on it.

So no pin basting that night. I called the cat some mean names and got out the good stain remover, the stuff that got bright blue food coloring off of my carpet, and treated the spots.

They did not come out. I am not a happy quilter. I do not love my daughter's cat.

I also don't love this quilt, or want to sink any more money into it. That purple fabric is perfect. And while I was fighting with the rest of this, I found a couple of problems with the top. Did I mention that I don't love this quilt?

Done is better than perfect. Most of my quilts, except the ones I've deliberately hidden away from my family, have some sort of damage to them. If I put this quilt away until I figure out another backing, I'm not likely to return to it anytime soon.

So I basted the quilt with my original backing. I'm too annoyed at this point to even go through the other eight or so yards of purple fabric to make a spotless backing. Because that stupid cat will sleep on it once it's done. Or someone will duct tape pennies to it, or throw up on it, or spill something.

If I unexpectedly fall in love with this quilt, there's always applique.

What about you? Would you use damaged fabric to back a utility quilt you intended to keep for your own family?

Weekly Stash Report

Fabric Used this Week: 0 yards
Fabric Used year to Date: 0 yards
Added this Week: 6 yards
Added Year to Date: 26 yards
Net Used for 2011: -26 yards

Yarn Used this Week: 300 yards
Yarn Used year to Date: 950 yards
Yarn Added this Week: 0 yards
Yarn Added Year to Date: 2600 yards
Net Used for 2011: -1650 yards

Six yards of fabric sounds like a lot, now that I'm thinking in terms of using enough to balance it out. But if I look at what it is, I've got no regrets.

Two yards is a crinkly, bright sort of floral not quite stripe and will be absolutely perfect to back that lap quilt I just finished. For a buck twenty-five, I got enough to back two, or maybe three little quilts.

The other four yards is a vintage sheet in a big splashy blue and green floral print that I absolutely love. I'm thinking of using it to back By the Lake, since I've already used the blue and green flannel sheet I was going to use for By the Lake on Grandma's Donuts.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

We ask a lot of questions around here.

Are rat skeletons really made of cartilage?

What's a dredge?

What's a towhead?

Can we find a picture of a....?

How do signs spin without twisting the wires and breaking them?

The kids and I look up a lot of stuff. Most of the time I do know the answers to their questions, or have a pretty good idea, but it's a whole lot more useful to have my son read an illustrated article about dredges than it is for me to try to explain my own vague understanding of them.

We look up vocabulary words, and recipes, and historical events. For the past couple of months, we've been using Swagbucks instead of Google, because they reward random searches with points that can be used towards Amazon gift cards. They sell AccuQuilt dies on Amazon, cheaper than I've found them anywhere else. So I got myself an isosceles triangle die by indulging my children's' curiosity.

How amazingly cool is that?! Maybe it's a stay at home mom thing, but having something I really want fall into my lap is more fun than going out and spending money on it, probably because there's zero guilt.

Swagbucks awards points for searching, participating in surveys, watching videos, and playing free games. They've got some word games that I think could be easily addictive. Right now, you can get thirty extra points when you register by using the code SBGames. If my printer wasn't broken, I'd be using some of of their printable coupons, too. I buy store brand just about everything, but they've got dollar off coupons for the brand of shampoo I buy and the Jello cups Quinn is using for his speech therapy homework.

Mostly, though, we use it for searching and I rack up enough points for a $5 Amazon gift card every two or three weeks. It says in the rules that if they detect "unnatural" search habits, you may be shown the rules page. I keep expecting it to pop up, but surprisingly it never has.

Who knew our search habits could be considered natural?

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

15 minutes at a time

Here's my first little quilt top of 2011, pieced in fifteen minute chunks of time that I pretty much forced myself to spend sewing. I think I like it. I'm sure I'd like it better if I wasn't comparing it to the image of Scrap Vomit I'm carrying around in my head.

I really want to work on Scrap Vomit. I also really want to play with the two new Go! dies I got last week.

While I'm waiting, I'm browsing for inspiration.

Itty bitty dollhouse quilts. Pieced itty bitty dollhouse quilts. These are just amazing. I love the flying geese and the pink Chinese Coins with matching pillows and the little wall hanging with the trees...

I need Scrap Basket Sensations. I need to make Blessings from the Hollow and the first two quilts pictures here.

And Barbara Brackman has a Civil War Block of the Week. I don't know if I'll get any blocks done, but the history will sure be interesting.

Sunday, January 09, 2011

burning yarn

It might have been best not to let my teenage daughter come into the kitchen and find me setting lengths of yarn on sale with the burner of the gas stove. Or it might have been worth it to see her reaction.

I had a good reason for what I was doing. Setting yarn on fire is an easy way to figure out if it's acrylic or wool. (Wool is hard to light and burns to a crumbly ash. Acrylic melts to a hard black knot.) Now I'm disappointed that so much of the yarn I found at the thrift store this week is actually wool and can't be used for the baby hats. Nine times out of ten, unidentified thrift store yarn is going to be acrylic. This week, someone was getting rid of the good stuff.

I'll get over my disappointment. The wool is in great colors and when I'm working on something else, I'll be glad to have it. Right now, though, I'm not in the mood for anything more complex than more baby hats.

I've been wanting to make myself this hat, and I even found a skein of Homepspun in a great shade of green for fifty cents. The printer is dead, but the pattern is simple enough that I could copy it by hand... It might be something good to work on while I'm in this stressed-out limbo of waiting.

Weekly Stash Report

Fabric Used this Week: 0 yards
Fabric Used year to Date: 0 yards
Added this Week: 20 yards
Added Year to Date: 20 yards
Net Used for 2011: -20 yards

Yarn Used this Week: 650 yards
Yarn Used year to Date: 650 yards
Yarn Added this Week: 2600 yards
Yarn Added Year to Date: 2600 yards
Net Used for 2011: -1950 yards

Like I said earlier, I'm guessing at numbers because I'm working with scraps of fabric and partial skeins of yarn. I didn't count the 800 or so yards of yarn I threw out over the weekend because it should've been gone before now.

Now I think I've got a little time to play in the new bag of scraps I found earlier this week and see if there really are twenty yards here or not.

Friday, January 07, 2011

off to a lousy start

Five years ago today, I had just been released from almost three weeks of hospital bed rest and was home in my own bed, expecting to rush back to the hospital at any time and hoping not to give birth on the way.

Four years ago today, we were on our eleventh day without running water, waiting until we could get the new well dug and trying to figure out how how to pay for it.

Last year, I was mourning the loss of my diamond earring, one of the pair my husband bought me because I was too young at the time to get away with an engagement ring.

2011 is getting off to a similar start. Nothing I feel like I should post on the blog -- the kids are all fine, Grandma is fine, and I'm just amazingly stressed and can't do anything except wait for the other shoe to drop. In two completely separate and unrelated situations. There are a couple of other things I'd normally be upset about, but they're so minor in comparison they don't even count.

I think I'm holding myself together with quilting thread. My goal for the new year was at least fifteen minutes a day of mindless piecing. Except for one day, I've managed to carve out the time. And it is WORKING! Fifteen minutes is enough to feel productive and not enough to feel guilty about.

Although I'm really looking forward to the day when I'll have a longer stretch of time to play with. Things will settle down. It would be nice if it was soon.

There's a new doll quilt along at Humble Quilts! It's called Midnight Stars and it's just as adorable as Strawberry Fields. I've got cheddar...I've got red...I've got I have blue for the setting blocks...I can buy blue for the setting blocks....but it turns out it only takes a fat quarter and I've probably got that if I actually make any effort to look.

There is an adorable little snowball quilt over at Inspired by Antique Quilts which I'd love to duplicate. I even asked permission like a good girl.

I could start Cheddar Cheese and Crackers...or something from the Schnibbles patterns I got for Christmas.... when things settle down a bit.

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

my little pool of light

Have I mentioned that my house, especially my little sewing coroner, is dark? Especially in winter. With the dining room light on, and the lights on in the adjacent front room and kitchen, I can almost see what I'm doing.

But it's better now!

One of the fun new toys I got for Christmas was a portable Ott Lite that fits neatly in the corner behind my sewing machine. I am loving this little pool of light!

One of the things I've decided to do this year is keep track of how much fabric comes in and how much goes out. I don't buy fabric in measurable amounts, but I can make wild guesses -- I'm thinking 30 yards a bag, less if I immediately sort through it and get rid of what I'm never going to use....4 yards for a yard for a man's shirt, depending on size...

Guessing wildly (two yards each for the baby quilts, and eight yards each for the bigger ones) I think I used at least 125 yards of fabric last year.

So, because I'm silly, my numbers to beat for this year are --

18,000 yards of thread
125 yards of fabric
100 baby hats/booties

Monday, January 03, 2011

UFO #3

This month's number is three, so I guess I've got to finish my 30s quilt. The quilting should be straightforward enough, if the machine cooperates. It's the zig zag binding that I'm thinking may be a challenge.

I still feel like this one was a waste of fabric, which is why it's sat unfinished for a year. This is probably going to be the last of my make-a-quilt-to-use-a-fabric-collection projects.

I'm actually relieved that I get to start with something I know how to deal with, and have everything I need to finish.


I love reading end of the year posts and seeing how much fabric people have used, what projects they've finished, and what they've got planned next.

Some leave me in awe, like this one at Diary of a Sampler Lover. That is such a huge amount of work!

And the little quilts at mamacjt make my heart go pitty pat. There's a tutorial!

The last bit of the free motion quilt along is up at A Few Scraps and I'm just awed by her branches and words.

Sunday, January 02, 2011

I want a drunkard's path die. I think I might actually want it more than the isosceles triangle die I ordered a couple of days ago. Because look at these. Especially Berry Strudel and Chocolate Go Round. And Dottie and Many Paths and Friends and Flowers. I like this layout too...and this one has 500 different fabrics in it...and I found one with strings...and there's devil's puzzle (along with a bunch other other layouts)...

I did not know there were so many things you could do with that block. I've got enough self control not to order myself a die, but I might start cutting templates out of cereal boxes before long.

Saturday, January 01, 2011

making myself a little crazy

I'm making this a whole lot harder than it needs to be.

I'm thinking no more than five squares of any one fabric...which would mean at least two hundred different prints. I've got that. I've probably got enough to make every single square a different color.

The stress kicks in when I think about distributing that many different fabrics and colors and styles somewhat evenly over the whole thing.

I can do this. I have done this, on a smaller scale. If I'm going to make a quilt called "Scrap Vomit" I'm going to go all out.

Last night, I went through my bin of 2 1/2" squares and pulled out some prints I want to use. As I keep cutting squares in my efforts to sort out my stash, I'll add a few more at a time to the Stash Vomit pile and sew them into strips of seven. When I've got enough of those done, I'll think about sewing them into blocks.

Not sure how I'll do the alternate blocks. They've got fewer print squares, so I may just do them when the mood hits and trust that they'll work with the rest of it.

Looks like I've chosen my first big project of the new year!


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