Monday, November 16, 2015

Flipping the script

Have you seen that gorgeous plaid string quilt in Julie K's blog header?  I've been wanting one just like it ever since I first laid eyes on hers.  This fall, I finally started it.  I am using phone book pages as the foundation for my 8" string blocks.  I have a ton of homespuns I have collected over the years for just such a project.  I was sure it would be a quick project; after all, I've made string quilts before.

I was wrong. It's been two and a half months since I started, and this is all I've got.
I've got a LONG way to go!
For some reason, I just haven't been inspired to go down to the sewing room and work on it.  I've been scratching my head about this, trying to figure it out, and I think I finally have an answer.  Even though I am using a variety of plaids in this quilt, and even though I am so excited to have the final result of all those wonderful plaids playing together, working with plaids just isn't all that exciting to me.  Part of the reason I love making scrappy quilts is that I love not knowing what scrap is going to come out to the pile next - a repro? a novelty print? a calico? a geometric? a floral?  With this quilt, I know - whichever piece I pull out will be a plaid.  Ho hum.

So today, I flipped the script.  I'll still work on this quilt, but as a leader and ender project while I work on something else.  Have I finished my log cabin quilt yet? Nope.  How about my Carpenter's Wheel?  Nah.  Instead, I pulled out a baggie of shirting & shirting-like neutrals that I've been wanting to play with, and started making a variation of Bonnie Hunter's Smoky Mountain Stars quilt.  With my significant stash of pre-cut squares, I picked out a bunch of red and blue 2.5" squares, cut my neutrals to 4.5", and got to work.  Quick and easy, just what I need to feel productive again!  Here's what I got done in the hour or so I spent in the sewing room today PLUS 2 sashing strips and a 9-patch cornerstone for the plaid quilt AND a pile of bonus triangles, already sewn up.
Oops!  That top right square is oriented wrong.  I love how a photo helps you really see your project.
I know I should focus on some finishes, but I find the siren call of new beginnings too strong to resist!  Besides, I do have SOME recent finishes under my belt, mostly class samples for the shop.  I'll be teaching a beginning knitting cables class this week, and this cabled cushion is my class sample.
the front
the back - removable so I can change out pillow covers
I'm also teaching 2 sets of kiddos to make turkey potholders this week, just in time for Thanksgiving.  I'll encourage them to use darker fabrics for the turkey bellies, though.  You can see right through this yellow belly to the darker background fabric - oops!

Here's hoping my productive streak continues!

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Work that doesn't seem like work

Last weekend I hosted a sewing birthday party at my shop for a group of 10 year old girls.  They made matching ruffled aprons for themselves and their American Girl Dolls.  Fun, but whew!  What a lot of ruffles!  Here are the dolls, all dolled up (I didn't ask the parents permission to post the girls' photos on my blog, so all you get are the dolls.  The kid aprons were identical, just much bigger.)

Yesterday I received the sweetest Thank You Card from the birthday girl.  I have it hanging on the bulletin board in the shop.

I've been a teeny bit stressed lately, just money worries, you know.  Like just about everyone these days.  I could be doing something else and making more money.  But would I be this happy going to work each day?  I seriously doubt it!  I had to take some work home with me last weekend to finish up.  At my last job, that meant piles of files to read.  In my current position, here's my "work at home" work, which I did while catching up on some shows on Netflix:
Little Avery sweater, made size 6-12 mos from Superwash Worsted Deluxe in Nitrox Blue. The person I made it for will pick out the buttons now that it is completed.
I may not be making a lot of money, but I think I might just have one of the best jobs in the world.

Sunday, October 4, 2015


I went down to the sewing room to finally piece this log cabin quilt together, but I couldn't decide on a layout.  I can't believe how much time I wasted rearranging the blocks; I didn't sew a single seam.  Help me out, will ya?  This is destined to be a baby or lap quilt, 54" square.  I don't want to make more blocks, I just want to sew them together.  Which layout would YOU choose?

Layout 1

Layout 2

Layout 3

Layout 4

Layout 5
OK, after seeing them all on here, I think one has emerged as my favorite.  Let's see if you feel the same...

Monday, September 28, 2015

Birthdays and yarn bombs!

Last Thursday was my birthday, and oh, what a fun birthday it was!!  First of all, I had a sale at the shop, 44% off all yarn since I am now 44.  Nothing brings people in like a sale!  There was a cluster of five women waiting for me when I arrived at work, and they starting singing to me as I crossed the street, and then started shopping as soon as I unlocked the door.  At no point was I alone for the rest of the day!

Second of all, I got lots of deliveries of wonderful stuff!  A carrot cake, a chocolate ganache cake, two cheesecakes and a pan of brownies. Good thing there were plenty of folks in the shop with which to share it, not to mention growing boys at home!  In addition to edible goodies, one friend brought in a bundle of vintage fabric and rick rac (all orange - yay!), another brought me a pair of her handmade silver earrings (she's a silversmith), and yet another made me a gift of anything in the shop that I had been coveting but not allowing myself - I chose this handmade reversible hobo bag.

When the work day ended, however, the fun didn't end.  A local knitting group of which I am a member, The Wednesday Night Knitting Society (WiNKS), had been asked to yarn bomb a particular block downtown in preparation for an Arts of Lexington Block Party.  The Block Party was Friday, September 25, so the yarn bombing was scheduled for Thursday, September 24, as soon as it got dark.  We hung out at my shop until the agreed upon time, then donned our dark clothing and hit the streets.  Rather than post all the photos, I'm embedding a link (Click here for AWESOME yarn bombing photos) - it's worth clicking through to take a peek.  The Winksters worked on this project for about two months, and did a fabulous job!  I wish I could take more credit, but all I found time to do was the trashcan monster. Don't you just love his furry feet?
Word on the street, though, is that the bike may find a permanent home outside my shop - won't that be cool???
Our yarn bombing was even featured on the morning news broadcast and written up in a local paper.

Life has settled back down now, which is good.  After all, I have baby quilts to finish!

Thursday, September 24, 2015


Much of my sewing lately has been making class samples.  The good news is that I often repurpose class samples into gifts for friends and family once class is over.

I know from experience that I should always make a class sample first, not just before I teach it to the kids, but before I even decide on a project and advertise it.  I was just so busy this time around that I didn't make a class sample for the Shark Pencil Pouch until after they had already begun their projects.  Because if I had, let me tell you, we probably would have done a different project!  Getting that zipper in that tiny round mouth was a challenge!  Luckily, I made mine right before the yesterday's class where we inserted the zippers, so I knew what mistakes to avoid.  Didn't their sharks turn out great??

And while I hate to impose MY passions on the kids, I am thrilled that they have shown so much interest in the next 8-week session - sewing Quillows!  The sample I made is American Girl Doll size, but we'll be making lap sized quillows.  Look for a parade of kid quilts in the weeks to come!

In the meantime, it is hand quilting, hand quilting and more hand quilting for me in the evenings.  Babies are coming, and I need to stay on track and get these quilts DONE!

Saturday, September 19, 2015

With every stitch...

At some point, the tide has GOT to turn!  I can't even make up all the things going wrong in my life right now - it's at the point of being absurd!  But my family, my friends, and my hobbies keep me sane and keep me lifted and keep me going.  Right now, as I begin hand quilting this sailboat baby quilt for a baby who is due to appear in a month's time, I am trying to focus on my many blessings with every stitch.

My family and I are healthy...stitch.

I have a job that I love...stitch.

I am free to make choices in my life...stitch.

The view off my front porch is breathtaking...stitch.

I can sleep late tomorrow if I want...stitch.

There's a pint of Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream in the freezer with my name on it...stitch.

Season Three of Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries is now on Netflix...stitch.

OK, now I'm getting silly, but I feel better.  When I take a step back and evaluate, that which seems so overwhelming really isn't.  Life may not always go according to plan, but life is good, nonetheless.  Back to stitching.  Have a wonderful weekend, everyone!

Monday, September 14, 2015

Trying to keep it all in perspective

I tried to laugh at the irony of me at work on Saturday making sailboat quilt blocks...

...while a flood raged in my basement at home.  Oh how the problems keep coming like relentless waves these days, knocking me back down just as soon as I get to my feet.  I spent yesterday reminding myself that these are all first world problems - I have a loving family, supportive friends, a roof over my head and food on the table - but I'd be lying if I didn't admit that all I wanted to do was curl up on the bed and have a good cry.

Instead, I kept active.  Yesterday, in between bailing out the basement with my Wet Vac and arranging for a plumber, I started systematically going through my fabric stash with a merciless eye.  I read recently that having TOO MUCH fabric (gasp! is there such a thing?), can stifle creativity.  I can see how that just might be true in my case; my sewing room is so crowded that I have to move stacks and piles around just to work on a project.  And honestly, scrap quilter that I am, I first go to my precut scraps when it is time to start something new, not to my yardage.  Maybe some of my yardage has to go.  I made it through three (of 13) drawers of fabric, and picked out 28 fabrics that I can live without.  I think. We'll see.  I put them in my ETSY shop, and if they sell, great, I can use some help paying for all the expenses that keep piling up around here.  If not, well, I guess they were meant to stay mine.  So that is my goal, destash another 20-25 fabrics per week and see if that makes a difference in the flow in my creative space.

Ever love a fabric but can't figure out how to use it?
I actually have two pieces of this, so it wasn't so painful to list one.
I've had and loved this for YEARS!  Why, oh why, haven't I used it? 
I have quite a few Judie Rothermel prints; time to share, I guess.

But for now, as the plumber is busy tinkering in the floodwaters of my basement, I'll go make another sailboat block and envision my destination if I could get on board and sail away...

(If you are interested, I'm selling my fabric at a $5/yard basis, $3 shipping for first items and an additional $1.25 shipping for additional items in an order, but only shipping to US.  Check it out.  More fabrics to be listed every week. Sigh.  I'm doing the right thing, right?)