Thursday, October 16, 2014

Q3 Results; Q4 Planning

The July-thru-September quarter is over.  Time to take a step back, celebrate my successes, and write down my plans for the October-thru-December quarter.  As I have seen in the past, having a list of goals is really a helpful thing for when my mind wanders off.


First, taking stock of THE LIST, that aspirational, numbered list I set out back in July.  How did I do?


1.  Finish piecing scrappy bargello wallhanging  Done!

 

This goal was all about finishing the center piecing.  Once that was done, I really slacked off on making any progress toward the borders...


2.  Final row of Relaxing Robin   Left out in the Cold

I cut out and started piecing some of the checkerboard border, but then decided I wanted to see things on a design wall.  And there it sits, waiting for the design wall to be available.


3.  Two more blocks for drama t-shirt quilt  Untouched



4.  Finish rainbow bathrobe  Done! 

Still haven't got the blog post together to celebrate and show off this project, but it was surprising how quickly it went together once I finally got going on it.


5.  Make three garments   Untouched

I might even say I made backward progress on this, buying yet another pattern (but no fabric!) and still not getting going.  Yet.


6.  Practice FMQ (placemats?)  Refocused

After reading many of the helpful posts during the Elven Garden's FMQ quilt-along, I determined that my little old sewing machine was really never gonna do me right when it came to FMQ: supremely tiny throat, no stitch regulator, no proper elevated surface.  I switched my short-term quilting goals towards using my walking foot.  And that process is going just fine.


7.  Quilt red/pink/black baby quilt  Made a Start

Pinned together the quilt sandwich and started with stitch-in-the-ditch. 



8.  Make a dent in the mending pile  Dented!

Did at least FIVE items of mending: hemmed three pairs of pants and two pair of capri's; made modifications to the neckline of a summer frock, mended a hole in a pair of pajamas.  Most importantly to the size of the mending pile: DONATED two items that I realized I wasn't going to wear even if they got mended.


And... Plans for 4th Quarter

Alrighty, on to plans for the 4th Quarter: October thru December.  Includes Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas.  Holiday season seems to be hella-busy, but also has mega potential to derail any plans.  I just this week came across a super-cute advent calendar; shouldn't I embrace a new project like that?  (Or those Kente-cloth Wise Men that I have wanted to make forever?)



1.  Finish knitting bobble cowl


A friend and I started weekly knitting during Monday night football.  This cowl with bobbles has been my project for the month of September.  Close to finishing it. 


2.  Quilt red/pink/black baby quilt


Top priority for this quarter: finish this baby quilt.  Just need to complete the quilting (with my walking foot), and do the binding.


3.  Finish border for scrappy bargello wallhanging


Border for a wallhanging:  I'm setting my sights low here.  I'd rather aim low--and go on to start the quilting on this if I'm feeling it--than constrain myself.  Especially this busy time of year.



4.  Machine quilting on Barnyard play quilt


This on-again/off-again project renewed its possibilities in my imagination when I started looking at doing quilting of small projects using my walking foot, instead of the much-avoided FMQ.  No promises as to how far I will get, but *Inspiration* usually propels me forward better than anything else.


5.  Some Christmas sewing, perhaps?
 

How different this pre-holiday is from last year!  I had a plan last year, and I had mini-deadlines to keep me on track as I sewed and sewed on Christmas aprons for twelve family members.  This year?  Well, there are ideas and some steps taken on the four items pictured, but no concrete plans yet to complete any one of them as a Christmas gift.  I will just have to see what I am feeling as December approaches.


6. Start something I am *excited* about

I have gotten excited about so many possible projects in the past four months.  I keep putting off starting something new until I feel like I have finished "enough" of the current WIPs...  Lest I just add to the UFO pile, abandoning a partially-completed project rather than power through a difficult or tedious step.  So I'd like to keep the door open to some December project that has made me swoon recently.



Embarrassing what is NOT on this list for the quarter:  drama t-shirt quilt, Relaxing Robin flannel quilt, and mending.  Sorry guys, you just didn't make the cut for this time of year.


Only SIX items for three months?  Am I setting my goals too low?  Nah.  My day job is super-crazy-busy this year.  So much that I often feel like I have no energy for things like hobbies.  I'll just keep plugging along on my long-term projects; maybe I'll have a couple finishes by December.  That's always a nice feeling.

Finish Along 2014

I thought I would link up to Finish Along at The Littlest Thistle for this quarter, but I see that the deadline has passed.  Oh well: this quarter's list is just for me, then.

Do you make lists?  Are they realistic?  (This may be the most realistic I have been in quite awhile; normally, I think I am Wonder Woman when I set out to make a list.)

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Bright Sky Quilt Along

Grr... I bought (another) pattern.

Just when I thought I had talked myself out of leaping into sewing a new garment, and steeled myself against rashly cutting into fabric before I got around to finishing something, I went out and bought another new pattern.

This time for a quilt: Bright Sky, by Blossom Heart Quilts.

Pro's

  • The quilt pattern is sold on Craftsy by an Indie designer, so I am supporting an artist and her small business.
  • The pattern uses large-scale prints, of which I have several already in my stash (see photo for a sample).
  • The pattern uses large cuts of fabric, so will (theoretically) be quick to make.
  • There is a quilt-along going on right now, so if I choose to start, I can join in with others online (this has actually been good motivation for me in the past).

A few of my lingering as-yet-unloved fabrics

Con's

  • I have not finished last year's "leap-right-in-this-minute" sew along that I joined.
  • I also have not finished the last project that I bought the book for after seeing it online and succumbing to the "must have it now" demons whispering in my ears.
  • I don't have a recipient or intended use for this quilt.
  • The primary large-scale print that I want to use up (see top left corner of the fabric collage) has a cream background, and I am not currently enamored of the cream.
  • Stash-busting: do my large-scale prints play well together?  Even a few of them?
  • Christmas is coming, so I should be focusing on finishing some things in that direction.


Regardless of the Pro's and Con's, I bought the pattern.  It's very different from what I usually make (my norm: tiny piecing, often from scraps vs. large cuts).  It will sit in time-out until I complete something and take some deep breaths.



Meanwhile, you can check out the Quilt Along for this pattern and its associated excitement.  I'll just be finishing up some WIPs over here in the corner...

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Dreaming of Sewing (again)

Found myself off into daydream-land, inspired by reading sewing blogs for several hours when I should have been doing other things.  Started out looking at Stacy Sews blog, then clicked links until I was very far from home.



Selfie: armscye fitting

Along the way, I was inspired by posts referring to Selfish Sewing Week.  Look at those fashionable silhouettes!  Drool.  I mean, I do still intend to get around to sewing some garments

Soon. 

Really, I mean it.


I have all the fabric I could ever need to get going on that.  I just need...


More patterns!

Well, ok, so maybe I don't need more patterns, but there is this one pattern I couldn't pass by:
Lane Raglan by Hey June Handmade.  I have just the fabric--already in my stash!



Not the best picture of my stashed fabric, but I really love this harlequin diamond pattern in grays on a stretchy not-quite-velour fabric.  And just to prove that the Lane Raglan pattern would look good in this fabric, Melissa Esplin posted awesome pictures of her version on her blog.  How cool is that?

Yeah, my fabric would look great, too.  Come to think of it, I also have a french terry stripe in my stash; that too would make a fabulous raglan shirt.  Ooh, and I have an amazing sweater knit that has been stashed since sometime in the 80's... 

I have a lot of knits somehow.  Oh-- maybe because I stopped sewing knit things but didn't stop collecting knit fabrics in my stash.  Funny how that equation works out.  (Well, it's more of an inequality really.)



Oy, I'm doing it again:  ready to dig in and tackle another new project, when I already have several WIPs sitting around, right-under-foot-where-I-can't-ignore-them, waiting patiently for me to get back around to working on them.
 

Friday, October 10, 2014

ADD wisdom

Been looking at my own ADD issues of late, looking for better ways to manage the things that are difficult for me (paperwork!)  Checked out 2 books from the local library:


Delivered from Distraction, by Drs. Hallowell and Ratey (the book-on-tape version) and Fast Minds, by Drs. Surman and Bilkey.

I finished listening to the book-on-tape, but am still working my way through the actual book (no surprise there: people with ADD are not fast readers, if they read at all).

Highlights from Delivered from Distraction:

See piles.  See piles grow.
 Adults with ADD make piles.  Those piles metastasize.


A partnership of mutual respect. And fun!
 The two most important life choices to making your life with ADD easier are: (1) Marry the right person. (2) Have the right job.

Point (1) - I did marry the right person (finally).  Sweetie manages my ADD tendencies in a way that no one in my life ever has before: with gentleness, without judgement, and by focusing on my strengths.  She is my rock.

Point (2) - I'm not really sure that I have the right job. Teaching involves, as my Principal put it recently, working in the interruption factory.  It also produces and requires a great deal of paperwork.  These are not my areas of strength--so I am working super hard to do my job.  Some days it feels like it takes every ounce of my attention, and then I am not left with any reserve for the living that takes place outside of school.  So I am looking hard at what "the right job" would be for me... while continuing to work in the interruption factory, manufacturing teenage-math-doing-widgets.



Fast Minds:  I am in the midst of reading about the brain's executive functions--how the brain chooses what to attend to, how on-the-fly prioritizing happens.  Since the ADD brain has difficulty in this area, the book has some concrete strategies presented about managing executive functions using external resources.  (In my mind I'm picturing like an external hard drive; can't I just plug in bits and pieces to augment my brain's shortcomings?) 

This reading has helped explain to me one of the things I have heard about stimulant medications (e.g. Ritalin, Adderal) not being "magic" in the treatment of ADD.  Medications help with focus, but the executive area of the brain still struggles with what exactly to focus on.  Good point.  Which is why there are entire books on the subject; because the meds don't/can't fix all the parts of the brain encompassed in the umbrella of "paying attention".

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Stitch-in-the-Ditch Practice

Funny thing: even stitch-in-the-ditch needs practice.


Just this month I pinned the quilt sandwich for the red/black/pink baby quilt that has been one of my PIGS (Projects in Grocery Sacks--thanks to stashbuster.com for the acronym!) for a couple years.


I started stitching in the ditch around each block, as a precursor for FMQ (free-motion quilting).  And some of the stitching was most excellent.



But sometimes I couldn't keep the needle in the ditch.

Whoops!

What?  You mean to tell me that even perfectly straight stitching using a walking foot can go awry?  I'm sunk!  There's just no way that my FMQ skills are up to the challenge of this project.  Now what?



Found the perfect book!  Foolproof Machine Quilting by Mary Mashuta. I can keep using my walking foot, and just quilt in straight lines and gentle curves.  I never thought about all the designs that can be made with simple curves and pivots.  Really great ideas in this book.



I really like this pattern for the borders.  It's just made out of mirroring a scallop pattern, and echo-stitching inside the curves, using the edge of the walking foot as a width guide.



Here is my sketching of this idea on a photocopy of the quilt. Do I like it with more curves? Or less?  I'm still deciding... but at least I have A Plan.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Where have I been?

Just noticed that it's been a whole month since I posted anything, so here goes...

School started.  I am busier than I have ever, ever been in terms of teaching. 


This song has been playing in my head for a few days - "All these years" by Mac McAnally

YouTube link (for the embedded video) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=__l81lN6JaY

Why this song?  Because of some inspired lyrics:

All these years, where have I been?
I've been down the road to work and back again.

All these years, what have I done?
I made your supper and your daughter and your son.

Applesauce: not quite supper, but definitely took some time to make

Yeah, I've been "down the road to work" a lot.  And that whole "made your supper" has taken up quite a bit of time; along with laundry, taking care of the puppies, and paying the bills.

Things have happened.  They just haven't been documented.  I have missed writing, so I'm trying to come back.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

What was I waiting for?

Procrastination?  Boredom?  Fear of a challenging next step?

At this point, I don't know what I was waiting for on sewing the rainbow bathrobe.  A couple quick seams and it looks almost finished already...



The fabric is a little ravelly, so I am trimming one seam allowance and turning under and top-stitching the other one.  I like the way the finished seams are looking

The inside looks as lovely as the outside!
Still have sleeve and neck edge facings to do, along with the dreaded hem, but really
What was I waiting for?



Just to hush up the scolding children on the pattern cover, I found a place for them to hang out.  So there: I can work on long-dormant projects!