Saturday, June 16, 2018

The Start of Summer

The end of the school year for an educator is an absolute whirlwind; the couple of minutes a day that I carved out to sew a seam or knit a few stitches literally kept me sane.  But when school let out on June 1, things didn't slow down for me.  Instead, a boarded a plane with one other adult and eleven students and headed down to the Dominican Republic to build a house with a local organization there called Cambiando Vidas.  In just 5 days, we helped the new homeowners and their community members take their house from simply a foundation to ready-to-move-in.  What a fantastically gratifying experience!
In the evening before the key ceremony

The new homeowners, Andreas (c), and his sons Leidy (l) and Francis (r)
During my seven days in the Dominican Republic, I brushed up on my Spanish speaking skills, including giving a short speech in Spanish to the entire community during the key ceremony on the last night, but also worked on knitting a sock - the perfect travel project.  This is the first of my Cambiando Vidas Socks, adapted from a recipe by my friend Catherine.

Once I returned home, I had one day of rest before heading off to Yale for a two-day office retreat.  I know it is almost blasphemous for a Harvard grad to admit this, but I love Yale's campus.  I've been there several times, usually to present at conferences, but each time I am more and more impressed.  (Longtime readers, do you remember the year I had a bit of extra time after checking out of my hotel and before my flight so I walked to the New Haven airport?  That still cracks me up!)

Therefore, this is day three of my summer vacation.  I have plenty of work to keep me busy over the summer, but I am planning to pace myself, working no more than 2 hours a day, and ideally walking over to the office to get the work done, keeping work and vacation as separate as possible.  (Of course, I already blew those plans, spending nearly 3 hours in the office yesterday.  Sigh.)

My current vacation plans have included reading (most recently The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls, Clammed Up by Barbara Ross, and currently Murder in Merino by Sally Goldenbaum and The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead), knitting (see Cambiando Vidas Socks above), and sewing.

I'm up to date on my 2018 Temperature Quilt,
The blocks on right are awaiting a June Average Temps block before they can be sewn together and added to the quilt.
and am trying to finish up this small Sister's Choice quilt, as its size is dictated by the amount of blue and neutral material I have for the alternate blocks and borders.

I received another box of scraps from one of my quilter friends in Virginia, so I'm itching to add blocks to my Flutterby quilt, but I'm trying to be disciplined and finish the Sister's Choice top first.  We'll see how that goes...

One goal for the summer is to get some tops machine quilted, but I'm hitting a brick wall.  I've reached out to several local quilters, but they've not gotten back to me.  I may have to send them out.  I'm not looking for anything fancy, no custom work, just pantographs.  Any suggestions for some affordable and quality longarm services out there that will accept my humble quilts?

I'm linking up with Oh Scrap!

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Every little bit

The end of the school year is like riding a panicky, runaway horse with no reins or saddle; all you can do is entwine your hands into the mane, hold on tightly, and try to enjoy the ride.

In the meantime, I've been trying to make sure to carve out moments of quiet sanity for myself, time to sew.  It hasn't been much, but as we all know, every little bit adds up to a lot eventually.

My temperature quilt is moving along well - I enjoy having just one block to make each day.  On Ringo Lake is sitting silently, willing me to notice it again.  The trouble is, despite the fact that the fabrics are scrappy, they are all in the same four color families, and for me, that makes it just a bit too predictable to compel me to work on it.  One day...

The Flutterby blocks are the ones that excite me the most.  I have 67 of the 140 blocks that I plan to make done, with about 11 more partially done.  As you can see, I've been making the borders as I go.  I really want this quilt to end up on my bed!

I miss my design wall!  The floor just isn't the same.
The Sister's Choice quilt's final size will be determined by the amount of blue and neutral fabric I have for the the alternate blocks.  I've started to make border blocks for that, too, so I can figure out how many more blocks I need to make.
A couple of rows are sewn together, as are the outside borders.  I'm hoping I'll have enough to make this lap sized, but it might end up being a baby quilt.
Both of these quilts have enjoyed an infusion of new scrappy fabric after I received a box of scraps from a a friend back in Virginia.
Is there anything better than someone else's scraps?
So far, I've only made it through one baggie of scraps from the box, but what fun to discover them all while cutting them down into my precut scrap sizes.

Hmm, I need better light in my sewing room!
And when I'm not home, I've been diligent about bringing some handwork along, making more hexie blooms during meetings and sewing them on while attending campus sporting events.
Enjoying softball in the sunshine while putting in a few stitches.
In one month, I'll be on summer vacation.  I am so excited about all I should be able to do over the summer - sewing to my heart's content!

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Crafting on the road

I'm on the road again, this time visiting Vanderbilt University in Nashville.  While waiting for today's programming to start, I had to wander over to see the Parthenon replica and read about why it is here.
Turns out, it was built for Tennessee's Centennial celebration.  Cool, but seems pretty random to be plopped down here in the middle of Nashville
I doubt I'll be stranded here for two extra days like I was during my trip to Washington University in St. Louis last month (knock on wood), but I'm prepared, just in case.  In addition to more hexies to stitch together,
I only brought 5 flowers worth of hexies to stitch together.  I should be able to finish that in a mere evening of watching Heartland on Netflix.
I brought my current mindless knitting project,
Based on the Dourado pattern, but I'm altering it to work with the Katia Ombre yarn that I have.
as well as three paperback books and three audiobooks.  One of them, of course, is a crafty cozy mystery:
I've read the first in this series, and was waiting to read this third installation until I had read the second, but it was the smallest paperback on my shelf that I hadn't read, perfect for travel, so the second will have to wait.
Back home, I've been plugging away at my myriad current projects - hand quilting the quilt for my new niece who arrived on Friday,
I still have a long way to go.  Not marking, just quilting organically concentric echoes to fill the white spaces.  Not sure yet what I'll do with the colored spaces.
My new niece with her older sister and brother.  Love fest!

I spent most of Saturday doing just this.
making more 3" nine patches for my 5" Sister's Choice project,

Nine patches are so simple but make me so happy!

Why, oh why, do I love tiny piecing so much???  It's going to take A LOT of blocks to make a useable quilt out of 5" blocks, but I'm not going to think of it that way, just gonna enjoy the process.
On Ringo Lake has been on the back burner, as has my Flutterby project, but I'm still up to date on my Temperature Quilt.  I do like having a choice about what I want to work on every time I sit down at my machine.

I'm linking up with Oh Scrap and Monday Making.

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Temperature quilt progress

Regardless of how I flit from quilt to quilt - from On Ringo Lake to Flutterby to Sister's Choice to hand quilting the Starburst quilt - my Temperature Quilt is a constant.  Each day, I complete another simple block.
This block represents March 31, 2018 with Kona Daffodil representing the high temperature of 55 and Kona Cabbage representing the low of 33.
The two bars in each block represent the high and low temperature of a day here in Deerfield, Massachusetts, with the seams pressed towards the low temperature.  When assembled, I alternate the orientation of the blocks: vertical seam, horizontal seam, vertical seam, horizontal seam.
This segment represents January 1 through March 22, 2018.
My final quilt will be 18 blocks wide and 21 blocks long.  Each block is 3.5" square (finished), so the final quilt will be by 63" wide and 73.5" long.  I imagine I'll probably add some type of border to make the quilt bigger and to try to tie together all the various colors.  In addition to blocks representing each day of the year, there is also a block representing each monthly average and one final block representing the the yearly average high and low.  I'm getting my daily data from Weather Underground.

I like the unpredictability of what colors will show up next, reflecting the unpredictability of the weather.  Look how out of place the little rectangles of Kona Cheddar and Kona Amber are in this segment, representing February 20 and 21 which boasted daily highs of 61 and 73 degrees respectively.  I'm mighty thankful that there isn't so much dark blue in there - the darker the blue, the colder the temperatures.

I'm linking up with Monday Making and Oh Scrap.

Monday, March 26, 2018

Then, by Brad Paisley

I love the song, Then, by Brad Paisley.  It encapsulates how I feel about my husband so well.  Turns out, it also speaks to how I feel about this Flutterby quilt!  I loved my first block, then loved it more once I had a number of blocks laid out together, then this weekend I laid it out with some border strips and some pieced border, and, I tell ya, I love it even more now!

Then I did the math and realized I need 140 blocks to make it the size I want.  Oh well, they go together quickly.  50 down, 90 to go!

I'm linking up with Monday Making and Oh Scrap.

Friday, March 23, 2018

Fickle me

Sometimes I lament how long it takes me to finish a project.  I can't help but compare myself to the amazing quilters whose blogs I follow who seem to be able to crank out a new project every few weeks.  I have to remind myself that my process is different, and that we aren't here to compare ourselves to each other.  And when I take stock of everything I AM doing, it's actually quite a bit; it's just spread out across several projects.  What can I say - I'm fickle.  What I feel like working on today isn't necessarily what I'll feel like working on tomorrow.

The project that received most of my attention today is my Sister's Choice quilt.  It's simple and fun and since I already have so many precut scraps, the blocks go together quickly.
I've decided to keep the alternate blocks constant, as several of you suggested.
I also managed two more On Ringo Lake blocks, bringing my total up to 30, and three more Flutterby blocks, bringing that total up to 39 blocks.  My temperature quilt is also up to date.  It was a satisfying day at the sewing machine, which is good because I also took my kids bowling today, and my 7 year old nephew kicked my butt!

Yesterday was mostly spent hand quilting my new niece/nephew's quilt.  I bought a wide backing from my LQS rather than piece a backing,
In addition to the Judie Rothermel backing, I picked up a few WoW remnants - can never have enough of those.
and I've enjoyed watching Heartland while I work on it.  My niece calls the show "a TV version of a country song," and I guess she's right.  But I love country music, have always daydreamed about being a cowgirl, and the scenery is breathtaking, so it works for me!
Yesterday, there was actually SUN so I could quilt with natural light.  Spring, I am ready for you to arrive!
I've also been working on a new knitting project, loosely following a pattern, but modifying it to use up all of the yarn I've designated for the project.  I played yarn chicken, hoping to get to the end of the row before a color change, and I won!  Whew!  I made it with just inches to spare!
The pattern is Dourado on Ravelry, but I am modifying it to use up my mini skeins of Katia Ombre yarn
And look!  I've continued to unpack from our move in August, and came across this pixellated heart that I had forgotten I had pieced!  I think it needs some other hearts to keep it company so it can be made into a useable sized quilt, don't you think?  But I'll save that project for another day - I have plenty to keep me busy these days.
Made with 2" squares from my scrap bins
In the meantime, all my quilty adoption items were shipped out on Tuesday, and I've started to hear that they've made it to their new homes.  I hope to see what they become in someone else's hands.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Forward motion on FOUR projects!

My kids had a half day of school on Friday, so I picked them up and took them snowboarding for the afternoon, and then out to dinner with my mom, brother, and younger sister and her family.  It was a fun day, but I didn't get a lick of sewing done.  I had prepped some hexies to work on at the ski lodge, but my 2 year old niece was there, so I spent the time hanging with her.

In light of my family-heavy Friday, I had no qualms about sequestering myself in my sewing room this weekend.  Not only did I do a major re-organization and cleaning in there (my brother is spending the night tonight, and since my sewing room is also my home office and my guest room, it needed attention before it was ready for a guest), but I was also able to move four projects forward.

On Ringo Lake now has 28 completed blocks:
22 left to go.  They go together quickly since I've already made all the components, but the monotony of the color scheme slows me down.  Yes, it is scrappy, but I'm used to scrappy with all colors of the rainbow, not just four colors.
Flutterby now has 36 completed blocks:
I am LOVING this!  Definitely making it big enough for me to use!
I've finished 4 Sister's Choice blocks:
5" blocks - I LOVE small blocks!  They are just so cute to me!
But in doing so, I got to thinking how many 5" blocks it would take to make a useable sized quilt - A LOT!!  That's what alternate blocks are for, right?  I've always wanted to make a quilt with QST blocks/hourglass blocks as the alternate block, so I made four alternate blocks to see if I like the look - I do!

My question, though, is this: Since the blocks are so scrappy, should the QST blocks be scrappy, too?  I mean, instead of using one constant neutral and one constant navy blue (although it looks black in the photo, doesn't it?), should I use a variety of neutrals and blues for the alternate blocks?  If you have an opinion, please chime in!

And finally, today I rearranged my Starburst quilt a bit so I can start to quilt it.  When I finished the flimsy in October 2016, I noticed in my photograph that the yellow and green blocks in the bottom right corner should probably be swapped, but ugh!  Unstitching?  Yuck! 

So I just let it sit.  And sit.  And sit.  But the baby I've decided to give it to is due in less than two weeks, so it is time to stop sitting and start quilting.  So I swapped the green and yellow blocks (in the lower left corner in this photo). 
It's been packed up for months - excuse the wrinkles.
Does it make a big difference?  No, but it isn't niggling at the back of my mind now.  My goal is to piece a backing and have it basted no later than the end of the day Tuesday.

Tuesday is also the day that I'll be choosing recipients for my 5 quilt projects that are up for adoption.  If you haven't checked out the quilt adoption items at Cynthia's blog, be sure to hop over there - there's some fun stuff up for grabs for free!

I'm linking up with Monday Making and Oh Scrap.