Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Goals for November

My little brain is running away with me lately—can’t figure out whether I’m coming or going.  Which is why I’m taking a cue from many of my bloggy friends (chiefly Barbara) and setting some goals.

What do I want to accomplish in the month of November?   

  • Does this list seem reasonable to accomplish, when exposed to the light of day? 
  • If I list things out, will I go back and check my list when I get distracted?

1.  Finish fluffy rag blanket.
Just a couple more seams, then the slicing and fluffing can finish ‘er up.

2.  Make one placemat.
Just one? Why yes, this is the prototype for a whole set of placemats to be paper-pieced from a sushi roll collection of Asian fabrics.  Want one done to show off at the quilt shop during our upcoming shop hop.

3.  Make napkins.  Many napkins.
Several folks are getting cloth napkins as Christmas gifts this year.  Won’t spoil the surprise by showing the actual fabrics or the intended recipients, but you probably know who you are…

4.  Finish crochet rag rug.
About halfway done with this, but I put it far, far aside for most of the year.  It was meant as a gift back in the spring—ha!  Fear not, Christmas looms.

5.  Make 20 blocks for 1930’s patchwork quilt.
I need to make progress on some UFO’s.  This one is still in the “easy piecing” stage, so I thought I’d put it back on my radar.

6.  Finish Pi cowl.
My Monday Knit Football project, this baby is coming along.  Can’t remember whether I need 22, 24 or 26” before I attach the two ends, but I see the light at the end of this nerdy tunnel.

7.  Hem altar cloths.
A task that was bequeathed to me.  Should get it done before the chapel needs them for holiday celebrations.

BONUS Points?

My students would always ask me about extra credit, so here’s a couple items thrown in just for fun.  May or may not go in this direction.

8.  Banana pencil case

9.  Minion surprise
OOPS, I forgot about these “required” items:

10.  Blocks for quilt guild.  I am 3 months behind; however did that happen?
11.  Alternate triangle samples for December Triangle Techniques class.
12.  Black and white BOM for December January.  Have to stay at least one month ahead of my students!

Gad zooks!  What a list.  

If I take half a week off for Thanksgiving preparations and celebrations, and spend minimal time in the sewing room while it is being used as a guest room by our invited guest, will I come up with any time to sew in November?

I feel like I’m picking small, manageable projects.  But the cumulative effect of twelve such projects might negate the whole manageable notion.

Wish me luck.  And if you feel like weighing in about whether I’m truly living in Magical Wishful Thinking Land with what I hope to get done in November, I always welcome a Voice of Reason.

Monday, October 26, 2015

It's So Fluffy!!!

Haven't seen Despicable Me 2? I'm gonna die!

Well, maybe not unicorn-fluffy, but the project on my design wall sure is some-kinda-fluffy.

Working on a super-soft rag quilt.

I have this excess Minky--thought I was in loooove with it for a backing, but now I'm all "meh."  Which means, I have yards and yards of said Minky.

And look what I found: links on the Internet for making a rag quilt with some Minky (or Cuddle, or the like) and some flannel.  No batting needed, just two (or three) layers of the flannel.

And I'm off to the fluffy races!

Here's the link I initially followed.  It is a tutorial site with lots of helpful video (but beware, it is super commercial feeling).

Design wall bed: the flannels

My goal here is to make a lap blanket 36" x 54", using Minky as the backing and flannel as the front.  Since both dimensions are divisible by 9, I'm cutting 10" squares and using 1/2" seams.  This means I need a 4x6 grid--24 squares.

And, after cutting 48 flannel squares (one set in place of batting) and 24 Minky ones, I know where to find the fluffy: my cutting mat, the floor of my sewing room, and the sweater I was wearing today...

Any hints on dealing with all the fluff? I'm a little worried about what will happen to my washer and dryer when I get to the ragging step.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Professional Sewist? Maybe Not

Since quitting my full-time teaching job and moving to California, I have been exploring alternate career paths.  I lucked into part-time work at a quilt shop, which had always seemed like my dream job.  While wonderful, the low pay and very-part-time hours remind me regularly that this is not to be my next career.  (Since when is entry-level retail called a career?)

But... my daydreaming aspirational mind keeps pushing me to try mixing my hobby with a career:
Sew Together Bag: class at Always Quilting on January 10th
Maybe I should write up some of my designs and try to sell them?  Maybe I should start a long-arm quilting business?  Maybe I can become a (famous) quilt teacher, traveling far and wide and plying my expertise to eager audiences?

Triangle Techniques...
And maybe, if I tried to do any of that, sewing would cease to be as fun as when it was only my hobby.

Yep: it already has happened.  The last four things I have sewed have been for marketing purposes, not for fun.  I can't even remember what my own UFO's look like because I have put them away in favor of striking out in the Big Girl world of quilting teaching and designing.

Sew. Together. Bag. Again...
Which begs the question: how do they do it???  You know, They. I'm talking about the Elizabeth Hartmans and Angela Wolfs and Lee Heinrichs of this world: they clearly have design careers.  I see them on their blogs, and on television, and on the bookshelves, and on and on and on.  Do they still enjoy sewing for fun? Do they have any time to sew for themselves?

How about you?  Do you dream of being a great designer (or something related)?  Have you found your sewing/crafting hobby becoming stressful? What do you do to keep a balance, keep the fun in with the creativity?

Triangle Techniques: class at New Pieces on December 5

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Piece of Cake

Well, this is me starting new projects--regardless of any previous promises to finish things before I start new things.  (Seriously: do I even listen to myself when I make promises like that?)

It's fall: Monday Knit Football season.  So I started a knitting project.  You know, a cowl, because the weather's gonna get chilly my sister gave me the pattern!

provisional cast on with waste yarn
The pattern is called Pi Cowl, by Emily Williams.  It is a simple tube, knit in the round on circular needles, no increases, decreases (or even purl stitches!), then joined at the end into a bit of a donut shape.  The color changes represent the digits of Pi: three (point) one four one five nine, etc...

Yay for nerdy projects!

So naturally, being such a basic pattern, I figured there would be no new skills to learn.  Wrong!  But no worries: I love learning new things.

First new skill: provisional cast on.  Not too difficult, since I already knew how to wield a crochet hook.  Brilliant additional idea from the YouTube video that I watched to learn this: mark every 10 stitches, so you don't have to keep counting as the cast on progresses toward the requisite 94 stitches.

Second new skill: changing colors in the round in a way that looks almost seamless.  Thank goodness for YouTube videos!  The name for this technique is "jogless stripes" and it is not difficult at all.

These are cakes of yarn; now you know

My yarn colors.  Fun, no?  They remind me of sporty clothing from the 1970's, especially when knit into all those stripes.

Plymouth Select DK Merino Superwash

Not being well-versed in all things knitting, I didn't realize you can't knit straight from the skein as it comes from the yarn store.  That is a no-no.

Action shot: unwinding a skein

But, that doesn't mean you need to wind your yarn into balls by hand.  The well-equipped knitter (my awesome Sister) has a fancy contraption that winds it all with a few turns of a hand crank. 

I was mesmerized watching it.

And the end result is not a ball of yarn, but a cake.  Yummy.

This project will probably last me well into football season.  Just a-knittin' away.

Do you have "football season" projects?  What makes a good candidate for working on while watching (or listening to) sports on tv?

Monday, August 31, 2015

Fear of FMQ

I've been following the stashbusting sew-along all year, without really participating in the "sew along" part of things. But August's theme really grabbed me: face your fears.

I realized that fear had been holding me back. No garment sewing had taken place because of fear of cutting into those special fabrics. You know, the stashed fabrics that I have held onto for so long, just waiting for perfect to happen: perfect pattern, perfect fit, perfect execution of some tricky sewing detail (like welt pockets, or an invisible zipper, or a curved dart, etc.)
But the stashbusting community was behind me this month. We were all gonna face our fears together! A garment was finally gonna come together in 2015.
Only thing is, I told myself I had to finish the quilting on a little ol' wallhanging before I could start something new (like a garment). And guess what? Fear had been holding me back from finishing that, too!

I didn't even realize... Didn't acknowledge to myself that I was procrastinating on the quilting--I just knew it wasn't getting done in a timely manner.

Followed the mantra

Practice session: ewww
Dived into a bit of FMQ (Free Motion Quilting--last seen publicly in this post from 2012).

Does it look like bubbles? Or sea foam?
And the quilting is DONE. Fear faced.

Not afraid of a close-up: perfect in its imperfections
Not perfect by any means, but it beats the heck outta hiding in a paper sack for another year or more. Win!

Now, can some elves come over and whip up a binding for this one so I can count the stash that was used? So very close to done done.

Thank you to all the Stashbusting Sewalong followers on The Facebook!  Seeing your work has really encouraged me.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Tote-ing my License Plates

Part of a winning quilt in Redding, CA
Have you been Row-by-Row-ing this summer? I had a 2000-mile road trip in July, which took me near more quilt shops than I could possibly visit (given that I was traveling with non-quilting family members).

Totally enjoyed collecting row patterns, seeing the quilts completed (most shops already had a winner--less than 1 month into the challenge!), and buying license plates.  

Yikes!  After only a moderate amount of shop-hopping, I am awash in license plates.  What to do with them all...?

Well, it just so happens that the friendly folk at Row by Row Headquarters provided a free handy tote bag pattern--and I think it will be the perfect canvas for displaying my license plates.

When last I blogged about bag-sewing, I showed the fabrics I was considering for this tote.  Fortunately, Sweetie talked me into the less is more camp; I maybe have a tendency to overdo it on the funky fabric mixing.

Fabric audition!!

Finished: basic tote bag

I am delighted with the handles--which I lined with a polka dot grosgrain ribbon (leftover from my wedding last summer). The license plate fabric was used for the outside pocket: cute & packs a graphic punch.

For now, I have just pinned a couple of the license plates in place.  I mean, I don't know how many more plates I might need to make room for, right?

This is me, tote-ing like a boss.

Happy to have another finished project.  Eagle eyes will note that this is not one of the UFO/WIPs I listed on my goal check-in--because it was done when I made the list.

Linking up with Thank Goodness It's Finished Friday, being hosted this week on Quilt Matters.

Stash accounting:  used 1 1/4 yards of fabric

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Month 8 already!

Way back when the New Year was young, I set 15 goals for 2015.  July done, August well underway: this year is more than half over (how did that happen?!)  'Bout time to check in and see how those goals are progressing.  (Well, at least the most measurable of them...)

1.  Use up, donate or dispose of 100 yards of fabric.
...about 2 yards of fabric a week...  all the fabric I haul around keeps me bound to the past...
I will have to count up and post an update soon, but I know I'm nowhere near halfway a quarter of the way toward meeting this goal.  However, I am cultivating a different relationship with my fabric stash.

I have willingly cut into several long-stashed fabrics (examples here and here).  At this point (some decades after many of these were purchased), letting go of the original purpose of the fabric has finally freed me.

2.  Get my UFO pile down to single digits. sounds reasonable...
Keep reading below:

3.  Track my progress.
...record-keeping required...
Well!  Since I didn't bother to count or post my UFO's at the beginning of the year, I don't even know if I've really made progress toward Goal #2.  Need to recommit to Tracking my Progress, definitely.

UFO/WIP list - What IS, August 2015

* = projects shown above
Quilts or big projects:
(1) Grandma's bedspread  (2) Drama t-shirt quilt*  (3) Relaxing Robin*  (4) Barnyard Play Quilt*  (5) Love in my Heart  (6) Wordy Wallhanging*  (7) Red/pink/black baby quilt*  (8) Ocean Waves wallhanging*  (9) Cuppa Joe wallhanging*  (10) Scrappy 1930s checkerboard*  (11) 2013 buck-a-block monochrome*

Smaller projects:
(12) Striped placemats  (13) Hurry Up Pizza Man  (14) mystery cube puzzle  (15) paper-pieced daisy pillow cushions

(16) jersey pj dress  (17) red linen dress  (18) wool cape/coat

(19) coin purses  (20) rag rug*  (21) headwarmer  (22) neck ruff

Alrighty, I've got my work cut out for me.  Twenty-plus UFO's doesn't seem like an insurmountable pile.  My only problem is that I keep getting excited and starting new projects.  This list lets me know that I should
Finish AT LEAST TWO projects for each ONE that I begin
 --for the rest of 2015

Anyone with me?  Or just willing to chime in and help keep me honest?  I promise to come to your blog and cheer you on, too!