Monday, November 26, 2012

Design Wall Monday - wordplay

I got ahead of myself on the Wordplay wallhanging I have been working on for more than a year.  But I have something to show for all those baby steps.

Started sketching and imagining various bindings--thinking of doing a bit of scallop along one or more edges--but as I continued sewing the tiny bits together, I discovered I am running out of background fabric.  Heavens! 

The words are joined together (yay).  Don't know exactly how much border I can scrounge out of the leftover scraps at this point.  Or how this might impact my big dreams of scallops and fancy techniques.

For now, I'm so tickled with the words hanging up in my sewing room.  I am linking up with Design Wall Monday at Judy Laquidara's Patchwork Times

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Of Mountains and Molehills

How not to get things done...

I am a black-and-white person.  I tend to see things in either/or binary choices.  This manifests itself in perfectionist paralysis: "I can't do this to perfection, so I won't do it at all."

But this mindset is also responsible for massive forays into procrastination land: "I don't have time to do this whole task right now, so I'll just put it off until (random future date/time), and play a game of solitaire instead."

This is the opposite of the Eat the elephant one bite at a time philosophy, and explains my current predicament.

Here is what a week's worth of turned-in math homework looks like.  Most of my classes this year turn in their homework in a packet (one packet per week, per student).

I don't generally have time to grade every paper in a single session, so I am stuck with doing things piecemeal.  Taking this large grading task and breaking it down into smaller bits. Which is a recommended and useful approach.  But is not what has actually happened over the past bit of time.

Darn it! I have procrastinated. Again.

Voila: a month's worth of turned-in math homework for 3rd and 4th period.  Now how am I going to find the time to get that all graded?

Partial success story: I have graded one week's papers each day for the past four days (of Thanksgiving break, mind you).  Why, oh why, couldn't I have done it this way all along?

Digging myself out of a self-created hole, one shovelful at a time...

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

While the cat's away...

While the cat's away ...the mice will be at a complete loss for what to do. 

Sweetie has been gone for two long weeks.  Before she left, we had several conversations about how I could keep on task, how I could continue to function in an optimal manner, without her calming and centering influence.  Seriously, I know I'm an adult, but my ADD-tendencies keep me from being an effective human much of the time.  Sweetie performs a helpful role in gently guiding me when I get off track. 

(And without diminishing my free will to ignore or modify any incoming information and behave as I wish.  That way, if I go afield, I am fully aware of the fact that I am working without a net on purpose.)

So, on Day 1, I started making lists of all the things I would need to do, all the projects and activities I don't tend to do when my partner is around (like square dancing! or the "secret" hand-quilting project that overtakes the bed), all the possible flight-of-fancy things that I consider when I have unscheduled time, all the this... all the that...

This list got to be 3 pages long!  It was overwhelming.  I kept looking at it, I kept obsessing over it, I kept adding to it(!) and I kept being paralyzed with the thought
What should I be doing right now?!
I could not choose.  I could not function.  Thank goodness I had the requirement to go to work each day and plan lessons for my students, because I might have dissolved into a complete puddle.

On Day 3, I threw out my list, and simplified everything down to a four-item memory jog.

That I wrote on the bathroom mirror, where I would see it many times a day.

  • cleaning
  • routines
  • backlog (anti-procrastination, a la FlyLady)
  • love yourself!

 Sweetie gets back today.  (Which just shows how much procrastination I succumbed to--meant to put this post up about 10 days ago.)  I was not perfect.  Never gonna be perfect.  But I'm still a loving, wonderful, creative human being who enjoys life more often than not.

The dogs got fed.  The carpets got vacuumed.  And no one is the worse for the wear.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Quilt along idea

I visited several blogs with quilt along postings recently.  And, while the idea is intriguing--everyone working on the same (or similar) projects, posting their progress and encouraging each other in an online community--I struggle with completing the many projects I already have going.

So I lurk in blog-land and watch other people get things done.  Often the timeframe is daunting: a block a week!?  I sometimes find the block-a-month nature of buck-a-block to be a challenge.

Had an A-ha! moment that transformed quilt along into a way to finish a long-dormant project.

The project: a children's play quilt with a barnyard theme.  Pattern is from the book, Play Quilts: Creative Activity Quilts for Kids by Kristin Kolstad Addison.

How old is this project? Well, if you consider that my youngest child is almost 20... and the play quilt was supposed to be for my children... and the pattern book was published in 2001... I'd say I haven't worked on it in 10 years.

UFO (a decade old)

Where did I stop?  I finished the border with the "random" shape that was recommended by the pattern, and hated it.  (I also strongly disliked the fabric that is the backing, but one can overlook a backing, especially on a quilt that will be played with on the floor and may thus get pretty dirty.)  The next step was to put some quilting details on the surface, before adding embellishments and making the moveable toy parts.  I didn't know how to machine quilt, and didn't think that hand-quilting was where I wanted to go with this project.

Ok, back to quilt along... How does this project fit in with that idea?  Well, there are about 15 small parts that go with the basic quilt.  If I work on one part per month, that's still over a year to finish this quilt.  But, it's better than not working on it at all, especially if I want it to be ready for the eventual grandchildren.  I'm actually excited about working on the little bits of this project, a little bit at a time.

The goal: one "toy" part of the quilt per month--just like a BOTM. 
First month's assignment: the clouds.
Due date: December 15 (same day as buck-a-block; no coincidence) 

And we're off!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Show & Tell

One of my favorite things about blogging, and getting together with other quilters, is showing off my work, and seeing other peoples' projects.  I love the variety of how the same pattern can look so different with alternate fabric choices.

So it was my pleasure to show off the "almost finished" baby quilt top from half of last year's buck-a-block blocks.
I am so pleased with the green(er) turquoise my friend Dwynn helped me pick out for the sashing.  And Sweetie helped with choosing the appropriate yellow for the stars.  Not your typical or simple sashing, but now I have a dilemma:

What to do about the fact that the stars extend out into the next border? 

The pattern sheet shows a narrow border that is segmented off to finish all the stars, and then a second wider border.

Well, the darn thing is already as big as I want to make it (I have a piece of batting I want to be able to use here).  Plus, I don't relish making a border that will have to make room for 28 more half-square triangles, as the amount of time I spent on the sashing already seems like too much.  What more do you want from me, little quilt?

Ok, enough whining.  I am putting my brainpower to work on this.  Two goals:
  1. Narrow border
  2. Somehow get those star points to happen without endless piecing
Off I go, into fits of creative problem solving!  Almost finished.  Almost.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Buck-a-block, month 2

Finished month 1 pattern, picked up month 2.

My version: basic 9" block (what will I do with it?)
Cat's Cradle
And here's what the shop sample looks like.  The 3" border all around will really define the overall quilt.  Which is why I'm waiting until inspiration strikes me before I go and commit myself to a color scheme.  I'll just stick to the plain, don't-mind-me-I'll-just-fade-into-the-background block centers for a few months.

 So, on to the October pattern:

The pattern is called "Maple Star", and it is again taken from Judy Hopkins' book 501 Rotary-Cut Quilt Blocks (That Patchwork Place).  I think it is rather lovely, even if the cream color scheme is a bit mousy.

Understated, maybe?

The shop sample features a churn-dash-like border treatment.  I like it a lot!

If I were thinking "modern" with my border color choices, what would that look like?

How about "batik"?  Ooh, that might be nice. 

Still puzzling about why I signed up for another year of this...

Monday, November 12, 2012

Project report for September & October

Sadly, nothing significant to report.  At least, not from the done done category of fabric or crafty projects.

Two whole months.  Where does the time go?

More words got completed on the "Word Play" -inspired wallhanging project.  (Thank you, Tonya Ricucci, for your kind blog comment.  I will be sure and send you a picture of the completed wallhanging.  It thrilled me to have a celebrity comment on my little ol' blog.)

Started a new 12-month BOTM (buck-a-block), without having finished last year's buck-a-block baby quilts (need more practice on the machine quilting).

I have restrained myself in the new project arena, however.  I'm patiently waiting to cut into the fabric for the much-dreamed-about rainbow t-shirt quilt until I have one more project out of the way.  And I have ignored the fabulous ideas I keep seeing on "Sewing with Nancy".  And there's this oh-so-cute crochet tote to be made from t-shirts that I feel tugging on my sleeve whenever I look in a particular drawer.  And...

So here's the updated count:
Completed projects this Month:  0
Completed projects Year to Date:  12
New projects this Month:  1
New projects Year to Date: 12
Discarded/donated projects (farewell!): 8
Net Project Count for 2012: -8
Thank goodness the "donated" column has kept me out of hot water this year.

Reminder: the New Year's resolution was to have less stuffThat's all.  No saving the world in the process.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Finish it up Friday

Favorite blocks in my newest "finish"
Found a new blog, Crazy Mom Quilts, that seems to do a regular linky party of a place to show off that week's "finish".  The title alone got me inspired to get in my sewing room and make some progress!

Kaufman quilter's linen
Finished a back for my queen-size stack-n-whack, the top of which has been sitting at the quilter's since mid-September.  I didn't like the fabric I originally bought for the back (bought online--the color didn't play well with the front), so my mom helped me pick out a medium turquoise "quilter's linen" from Robert Kaufman.  Only problem was, I didn't buy enough.  (Apparently, the same amount of fabric will not go from twin-size back to queen-size back.  Go figure.  I mean, I'm a math teacher, shouldn't I have been able to make that connection?)

No big deal, thought I, I'll just piece some sort of medallion for the back, so I won't need to go get more fabric.  I have loved the way this companion medallion idea plays out in many of the modern quilts over at Elizabeth Hartman's blog, Oh Fransson!

Inspiration: hexagons (as the quilt top has stack-n-whack hexie medallions), as seen in this issue of McCall's Quilting (October, 2008).  I can complicate anything, so this quick-piecing project took far longer than it might have in anyone else's hands.

 But it's done!  Finished.  Off to the quilter, where it will join with the top in beautiful harmony.
This might end up being a reversible quilt, I like the back so much.