Saturday, June 30, 2012

latest buck-a-block complete

I am working down to the wire on this month's project completion, but the June buck-a-block kept getting in the way, so I went ahead and finished it
I really like the way it turned out, especially with the newly purchased pink dots (Mixmasters by Robert Kaufman) that the lovely ladies at Piece by Piece helped me pick out, given the disparate black/red/pink blocks I brought to the shop with me.

And, since I have completed block 5 of this colorway, and 6 blocks will make a baby quilt, I started sketching possible layouts.
Here is one idea.  It uses the words "tomboy princess" (I love words in quilts!), which I saw on a piece of fabric recently, along with images of football/hockey gear, lipstick, etc.
inspiration: this print came from a bandana

I have a black/red/white fabric that I'm reserving for possible sashing or backing.  Who knows how this will all turn out?

Friday, June 29, 2012

Not "no", but "not now"

I attended the Black Sheep Gathering this past weekend - a festival of fleece, spinning, felting, knitting, and all things fiber.  I'm not that much of a knitter, but I have some yarn-related projects on my bucket list.  And I can drool over fabulous yarns all day long.

I congratulated myself on resisting the pull of lace patterns, soft, amazing yarns, books (new ideas!), and knitting-related accoutrements.  This year I am focused on having less stuff, so expanding my mostly-sewing focus does not fit in with that goal.

All was fine until I found a class.  A class!  I am a sucker for a class (recall that my first new project this calendar year was the result of a paper-piecing class).  And if I'm ever going to learn the basketweave knitting technique called entrelac, it will probably be from a class. 

So, I grabbed a flyer: Entrelac Workshop from Textiles a Mano.  I tried on the hat sample they had in the booth.  And the idea of this class took up residence in the back of my head.

courtesy of Thistledown Musings blog
My resolve to say "No" to the class was weakened when we passed a booth with a major sale on alpaca yarn: $10 a skein!  I could make a hat in that class with an amazingly soft yarn for only $20 (their non-sale alpaca yarns were $28 each).  How could I resist?  And didn't I need to buy a little extra to add to my stash because, gosh, what an awesome price?

Final decision: it's not the right time.  My decluttering this week has netted a bin full of fabrics that were "an awesome price" when I bought them. 

Not now.  What great words!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Farewell to a dear UFO

In cleaning out today's yard sale bin, I came across a UFO that is so dear to me.  I know I'm not going to finish it.  I know it will go away.  But I wanted to give it a fitting tribute.

Here is the story of a sacred object

A long, long time ago (1998), when I lived with my family in a commune, I was searching for my authentic self.  There were many tools and paths available for this inner-work; the one I chose that summer was a Vision Quest.  As part of the 10-day preparation for the wilderness vision fast, we spent time doing many things.  The one thing that pertains to this story is that we were making sacred objects.  These were items made out of natural materials, or items that had meaning to us (one participant used his children's baby teeth inside a rattle he made).
buckshot-filled sacred rattle

 I completed a sacred rattle, using somewhat unconventional materials, and started making an altar cloth.  Its base is a large square cotton voile scarf.  I wanted to embellish the edges with beads, bells, and other small items I had in my sewing notions collection.

It was to be more than a decorated scarf
I spent significant time searching for just the right combination of do-dads to beautify and add meaning to the cloth.  And along the way, it morphed from just an altar scarf into something I could use as a bellydance hip scarf also.
Bonus: it doubles as a hip scarf!

Two opposite corners had part of an old friendship puzzle necklace.  I was putting my life together through the Vision Quest process. 
Here's the truly sad part: only two tassels really got finished.  How intricate!  I took the uncompleted project with me out into the wilderness for my vision fast.  I intended to work on it, maybe even finish it before the final night's ceremony.  But I didn't realize that working on a sewing project was not really the way to manifest my vision out in the desert.

"The Vision Quest is the work of a lifetime.  A two week ceremony is initiation and continuation on your path.  How you will be with your work is up to you.  The intention you bring to the Vision Quest reflects how you are in the world.  What will you bring to it?"
Clearly, I brought the unfinished along with me.  And didn't finish it then.  And haven't finished it since then.  One of my big lessons during the Vision Quest experience was to be comfortable with imperfections, and to celebrate all the ways that I am right now, not just waiting until some part of me is *done* or *better* or (my personal big bugaboo) *perfect*.

And so, I celebrate a lovely scarf that will never be completed by me, but might acquire a new life in the hands of another.  Go forth and spread your sacred energy!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Bin #2: quilter's yard sale

I'm pleased to announce that I have cleared out a second bin of fabrics and projects.  Gone.  Banished to the garage to await the Quilter's Yard Sale in August.  Yay!

Here's what I am getting rid of: fabrics from my stash that I can't envision using (in the photo you can see a turquoise plaid flannel and an inexpensive black cotton with stars), a couple fat quarters that I just don't like, old quilt magazines

Basically, I spent an evening going through all my fabric boxes.  Some of the fabrics in there are 20 years old.  Many fabrics were purchased for garment sewing--which I don't do as much anymore.  Some fabrics, colors and styles have just gone out of fashion (drapey rayon skirts, anyone?)  Oh, and the corduroys!  I have a lovely 5-yard specimen of coral/peach corduroy.  I can't picture making anything out of it.

I'm sure I have more fabrics I could get rid of, but this will have to do for now.  If I could actually get some sewing momentum, I might use up some fabric by actually sewing with it.  Now, there's a concept.

Remember the goal: have less stuff.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Quilter's Yard Sale, early version

I signed up for a booth at the Quilter's Yard Sale at Something to Crow About in August.  This was prompted by my bringing four bins of fabric and projects down from the garage attic. 

Aack!  It's easy for me to ignore my UFOs when they are out-of-sight (and thus out-of-mind).  When these UFOs gather together (and in my living room!), it becomes more clear that some things have to go away.

So... the goal is to consolidate the stuff I'm keeping down to one bin.  First candidate: a bin of jeans, saved over many years for making a jeans quilt.  Not currently interested in this idea, and I can probably easily find new "raw materials" when/if the time comes for a jeans quilt.  Topping off this bin is a latch-hook rug canvas and many, many packages of pre-cut wool rug yarn (yikes! that stuff is expensive).  Again- no real interest in making a latch-hook rug, so why do I need to hold onto the supplies for years?

Yay!  One bin down. 
Also on the chopping block: 3 projects not gonna get finished, and going away in their half-assed condition (soft yellow corduroy skirt, rust suede-like tank top, and the beginnings of a jeans book-bag).  You may see one or more of those at the quilter's yard sale.

I feel lighter already.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Seasonally-appropriate sewing

Summer has arrived, time to create the *wishlist of super-human accomplishment* in the sewing arena.  This includes ideas on what will get done in time to be entered in the County Fair (always aspirational more than realistic).

And, as I'm getting bored of looking at some WIPs taking up residence in the sewing room, time to retire projects to UFO-land and replace them with other UFOs that are somehow "more worthy".  Why now?  Well, the change of seasons, for one.  I just don't have the oomph to work on some items out-of-season.

Double-knit, soft-as-a-bunny's-bottom (15% angora), cowl-neck long-sleeve dress.  Why work to finish a dress I can't wear until fall or winter?  Back to the bins it goes.

This Santa is getting a new robe and gown.  I really want to enter him in the County Fair, but don't know if I can muster the necessary "git 'er done".  I'm on the fence on this one.  (He's so darn cute!  Keeps winking at me...)

Which one would you rather work on in June: tiki dress or novelty sweatshirt?  Both have sleeve issues, which shouldn't mean months of work, but I know myself.  There's a reason my UFO list is miles long: I get so close to done, then fizzle out in the home stretch.

Not pictured, but more prime examples of seasonal-sewing:
  • sun hats for toddlers (which niece or nephew gets them will depend on whether they get done this summer or next)
  • a wool melton cape that needs lining in the hood and a pocket re-vamp
  • the rainbow t-shirt that I said needed work after last year's annual race
So the sewing room shelves are in flux, as some incomplete items get stored away for another season, and some hopefuls get brought back into the fray.  May my sewing be re-invigorated by "new" old projects!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Eat That Frog!

"If the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning is eat a live frog, then nothing worse can happen for the rest of the day"

--Mark Twain

I started listening to "Eat That Frog!", an audio book by Brian Tracy on maximizing your personal effectiveness.  He uses the above quote, attributed to Mark Twain, to say that you should start your day by tackling your single most important (and often put-off because it's so big, or scary) To Do item.  And, if you have to eat 2 frogs on some particular day, you should eat the biggest, ugliest one first.

Well, I have been tackling for two days now, and something seems to be working.  At least a tiny bit.  I made a list of the things that still need to be cleaned up on my master's thesis, and worked on the top two items in the mornings.  Today's item is: The Math.  You might think that was the biggest, ugliest part of my paper, but I actually had a good start on that section already.

I know that Wednesday is Anti-Procrastination Day on the FlyLady system, but I kind of like Brian Tracy's idea to anti-procrastinate every day.

What are you gonna do to jump-start your day today?  What kind of frog are you facing?

Monday, June 18, 2012

The opposite of focus

School has been out for almost a week, and I have been wandering in circles ever since.  I know I need routines and structure in order to function best, and summer doesn't exactly provide that to a schoolteacher.  I have a long list of things I want to accomplish, and ways I want to spend my time... Just haven't really felt like I've dived into something yet.

A prime example: Oakie, the travel penguin, needs a raincoat for his upcoming trip to Alaska.
Oakie on recent outing to the Portland zoo
I promised, after Oakie's very damp trip to London, that I would make him a raincoat (he actually spent time inside a ziploc bag on that trip--horrors!)  I dug out a Cabbage Patch clothing pattern, figuring I could alter it a bit for his shorter flippers.  I puttered around in my sewing room for most of the morning.  Do you see any raincoat?
Focus?  Hardly.  From left to right, the originally-intended Oakie raincoat blossomed into: a backpack (adorable dinosaur print!), a hoodie (which is what I spent most of my time adjusting and playing with), the raincoat (fitting the pattern in a calico before I work with the unruly vinyl), and a sleeping bag in a teddybear print (blame Natasha and her hippo time post for that idea).

Argh!  I started a new project, only to enthuse my way into *four* new projects instead.  Oh, I get so excited at the beginning of things.  What will become of it?

And, as if a morning full of lack-of-focus isn't bad enough, I finally got to the library this afternoon
Spent a lovely 90 minutes perusing the shelves.  Fortunately, I had the presence of mind to put half the books I was looking at back on the shelves.  But really--this is the heart of my "crazy about new ideas, want to immerse myself in them" thinking.  Two books in the "recreational mathematics" category (my students are amazed that I can read math-y books for pleasure; or that such things as math books for a general adult audience even exist).  Three books on organizing.  Really?  Three?  Didn't I just chuck a book on organizing into the Goodwill bin?

Notice there's no fiction in sight.  (Sad face--how did that happen?)  I am listing heavily to starboard.  Need balance.  And structure.  And focus.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Buck-a-block: May completed, June pattern

I'm so happy with last month's pattern--after I decided to make it in 1930's prints!
Today I sewed this block into the backing fabric for my 1930's quilt.  It's all ready to go to the quilter.  So excited to be at this stage.

Buck-a-block was Saturday.  I kinda like this month's block.  Here's the sample from the shop
It's like a giant exploding star!  There are five fabrics in here: cream background, two reds (corner is different than center) and two blues (again, corner is different).  The fabrics I received in the kit are very similar
No title to this block (did it come from The Farmer's Wife?)

I intend to make this in the black/red/pink colorway.  I think I'm off to the fabric store to buy a solid pink to use as background for the couple remaining blocks.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Buck-a-block deadline approaching

Been almost a month since last buck-a-block, and I haven't even cut things out.  No enthusiasm for this month's pattern.
I am tricking myself with a change of perspective: using 1930s reproduction prints, instead of either colorway I have been playing with all year.
I've been playing a bit with the fabrics for two days now--adjusting here and there, auditioning various color combinations.  Ready to cut things out and whip it all up!

Maybe a change of perspective was all I needed.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Irony in the paperwork jungle

I just love a good ironic moment.  A unique instance of irony is as good as a pun that makes you groan out loud.  (Sample pun from this year's algebra worksheets: Why did the boy sheep fall off the cliff when chasing the girl sheep?  He didn't see the ewe turn.  Awful, right?  Delightful!)  I heard a college professor say that puns are like porn for mathematicians, so I have a justification for my love of them.

So... here I am today, working my 15-minute shift in the miscellaneous papers bin.  This is the pile that went straight to recycle

Much of the bulk there was newspapers.  Of course I had to open each one and page through wondering, "Why did I save this?  Is something valuable in here?"  Nope.  Not a clue.

So this is the way the bin looks now, after many 15-minute sessions.
15-minutes at a time = a cleaner home office!

I slid the pile aside, and discovered this

"Taming the Paper Tiger", an organizational self-help book by Barbara Hemphill.  Ah, glorious irony!  I am pretty confident in saying, without having opened the book recently, that the author certainly doesn't recommend stuffing all your miscellaneous papers into a large bin and moving them about for years.  And definitely, the book on organizing said papers doesn't belong in the mix with the mess.

I see on Amazon that the author has updated this book, breaking it into "home" and "office" versions of taming paper.  Also there is a version for the digital age.  So maybe I can get rid of this book.  After all, my local public library has many of her more recent titles.

When I am ready to tackle the paperwork jungle in other than 15-minute increments.  Maybe set up some sort of system...

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Making paperwork sexy

Ok, maybe paperwork is not sexy.  But I am working hard to make my little forays into the paperwork bins less onerous.
Mmm - big sexy bag of shredded paper...
See the Mary Engelbreit file folder in the crate?  That's my kind of sexy: cute office supplies.  Functional, and nice to look at.

I lost track of some important documents (like my social security card, for one) sometime in my last move.  Didn't actually find this out until I went to look for it in the "important documents" area two weeks ago.  I used to lose things all the time, and regularly go into a panic looking for them.  I feel like I've gotten much better: I use the same hook to hang up my keys when I come home; I leave my purse in the same location; incoming mail has an in-box; bills to be paid have their own spot. 

This time, I was determined not to panic.  I found a way around my immediate need-that-document dilemma, and set about to go through the possible bin of miscellaneous papers.  I have been setting a timer in 15-minute increments, and systematically dealing with all the papers in the bin.  Not just looking for a certain missing document--my goal is to rid myself of the entire bin.

More cute office supplies
So far, so good.  Other than the bag of shredded papers, I don't have much to show for my efforts.  But I feel lighter with each 15-minute declutter session.  And it is so much nicer to sort papers with no deadline, no timeline.  Especially none of the, "why did I lose that #%!&&^$ paper again!" angst that accompanies a frantic search.

I didn't create a giant bin of unsorted, junky papers in a day.  And I won't get rid of it in a day, either.  Baby steps!

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Project report for May

The end of the school year is such a hectic time.  All my procrastinating/putting-off and unsightly paperwork buildup comes crashing down on me.  Add in a little extra tap-dancing for the finishing touches on my master's thesis and preparations to "present" it to an audience in June, and I am one crazy woman right now.

Only one project completion in May, the denim-jumper remix.  Mmm, yummy fabric mash-ups.

I managed some longer-term sewing: the 1930's reproduction quilt, and hand-stitching on grandmother's bedspread.  I bought more fabric for napkins (it was on sale! a really good sale...)

Monthly project count...
Completed projects this Month:  1
Completed projects Year to Date:  6
New projects this Month:  none
New projects Year to Date: 6
Discarded/donated projects (farewell!): 2
Net Project Count for 2012: -2

Don't know what June will bring.  The calendar for the month looks pretty busy, but school is out in less than two weeks.  I think I can start the countdown to summer--which always means more sewing time for me.