Saturday, December 30, 2017

Sewing up a storm

I've been doing my best to sew a bit every single day during this holiday break.  I finished quilting my niece's quilt and got the binding on just moments before they left after spending time here for the holidays.

I'm working on clues 5 and 6 of the On Ringo Lake mystery quilt simultaneously.

And I'm answering the call for quilt blocks for the California Thomas Fire.
6 blocks - super quick with my bins of precut scraps

Just three days left of break - just three days left of sewing for hours on end.  How I love vacation!  Back to the sewing room!

Monday, December 4, 2017

Yearning to quilt!

Do you ever want to quilt so badly that the longing for it is almost a physical sensation?  That's what I'm experiencing right now.  I attended a conference in Anaheim, California this past Wednesday through Sunday, so boom - five non-quilting days right there.  Instead, I took some yarn and started a new pair of socks.

Then, ever since I got back, I have been working non-stop (at a boarding school, it can seem that way anyway - I was working/on duty from 8:30 AM until 11:00 PM today with just 1.5 hours off, during which I had to go to the grocery store and pick up my son from basketball practice).  Where is the time for sewing???

With Clue #2 released last Friday, I've been itching to work on my On Ringo Lake mystery quilt.  I've managed just ten of the required 200 flying geese blocks so far, but I'm hopeful that I'll have some time later this week to catch up before the third clue is released.

In the meantime, I wonder what we'll do with these flying geese...with four times as many flying geese as nine-patches, maybe they will go around the nine-patches to make stars...only time will tell!

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

Monday, November 27, 2017

Surprisingly disciplined!

I am inordinately proud of myself.  I usually use this space to lament my quilter's ADD, always starting new projects and only rarely completing them.  Today, however, I'm super excited to share that not only did I convert one of my many UFOs into a flimsy,
Getting my boys to work together to hold the quilt straight took forever! 78" square, this quilt was from July 2016's 12 Days of Christmas Quilt Along, even though I made two of the blocks incorrectly.  I also ran out of background fabric, and I thought it was Kona Natural, but it turns out that the color is just a bit off.  No worries, this quilt will be for me and my family to snuggle under while watching Christmas movies, so the mistakes don't bother me.
I also completed the first clue for Bonnie Hunter's newest mystery quilt, On Ringo Lake.
Fifty 3.5 inch (unfinished) nine patches!
Could it be that I am turning over a new leaf? (I don't want to say that too loudly in case I jinx myself.)  I need to keep hand quilting my niece's quilt, but my sister is pregnant again, so I wonder if I have any other UFOs that I can turn into a baby quilt for the newest addition to the family, due on April 1.  Hmmm...

Or maybe this scrappy stars quilt can be his/her baby quilt...
I finished this flimsy in October 2016.  At 50" square, I think it'd make a great baby quilt (even though I think I'd switch the position of the green and yellow in the bottom right corner first).
I am linking up with Monday Making and Oh Scrap.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

The trifecta of quilting bliss!

Today was my last day at home alone for this Thanksgiving break.  Tomorrow, I'll collect the kids from school and head north to spend Thanksgiving with my family.  I'm really looking forward to it, but in the meantime, I've been doing my best to take advantage of these hours alone at home.

I spent my day enjoying the three parts of quilting that I love most - hand quilting, piecing and pulling fabrics.

First, I pulled out my niece's quilt.  She's turning two in a month, and I still haven't given it to her!  I'm determined to have it under the tree for her this year, along with a handmade stuffed animal, a sample from my shop.  Hand quilting takes me FOREVER, but I'm doing simple straight lines, so it shouldn't take too long.  I hate marking quilts, so I use painter's tape - anyone else do that?
My niece's quilt top
How I love sitting under a quilt while I hand quilt it!
I helped make this giraffe sample when I owned my shop.  Now that I no longer own the shop, samples make great gifts!

Then I went back to the Christmas quilt.  What does it say about me that I am already a bit bored with that project?  But just you wait - by the time this break is over, I'll have a completed top. 
On the couch back, since I don't have a design wall.  And terrible lighting - it sure does get dark early here in Massachusetts

Then, so I'm ready to jump into the fray when I return from my mom's house in New Hampshire, I pulled my fabrics for Bonnie Hunter's new mystery, On Ringo Lake.  The first clue goes live on Friday.
Chocolate browns, aquas to turquoise, coral to melon ,and neutrals

I won't be back on here until after Thanksgiving, so have a great one, everyone!

Monday, November 20, 2017

I blame the dog!

Twas a lovely vacation day!  I dragged myself, kicking and screaming, to the gym and got a workout out of the way early.  Then, a leisurely breakfast, a long shower, started a new book over lunch, visited the quilt shop for more Kona Natural for my 12 Days of Christmas Quilt-along quilt, and then spent the bulk of my afternoon sewing.  It doesn't get much better than that!

First block done!

Second block done...OOPS!!!

I blame the dog.  I don't have a design wall here in my new spot, so I do what most people without design walls do - I lay my blocks out on the floor.  However, I forgot to close the door to my sewing room/office when I went to the gym this morning, and my dog went in there to hang out, missing me, I guess.  When I returned, the blocks were all messed up, and it's clear that I didn't put them back together correctly.

No worries.  There are only four 33" blocks in this quilt, so I'll make one more block the correct way and one more block the incorrect way and claim it as a "design element."

But for now, enough sewing.  Off to curl up with my current read, the third Amish Quilt Shop Mystery, "Murder, Served Simply."  These cozy mysteries are quick and fun for me, and this one has the added benefit of being a Christmas book (have I mentioned that I'm really feeling the holiday spirit this year?).

Earlier this weekend, I read "Birds In The Air," a lovely little read, not a mystery.

If I'm not quilting, I love to be reading about quilting.  One of these days, I hope to write some quilt fiction myself.

I'm linking up with Monday Making.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Thankful for time to sew!

Working at a boarding school is SO DIFFERENT than running a yarn shop!  For the past four years, I closed the shop early on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, enjoyed a day of food and family, and then started the holiday retail season bright and early on Friday morning.  There never seemed to be enough time to enjoy the holiday.

Not so this year!  The students left for home yesterday, and I have an entire week off!  Woo hoo!  I spent quite a bit of time doing housework yesterday, but I also found time to sew!  I've been itching to start new quilts (a desk job means more time on the computer which means more time for me to be inspired by what everyone else in the quilting blogosphere is doing), but I've been pretty strict with myself about not cutting into any new fabric, just tackling the UFOs and orphan blocks that I already have overwhelming my sewing room.

Perhaps it is a function of being back in New England, but I really want to dive headfirst into the holiday spirit this year.  I want to decorate.  I want to bake.  I want to watch holiday movies while cuddled up under a holiday quilt.  Except I don't have a holiday quilt...

And then I remembered the Twelve Days of Christmas Quilt Along I joined back in July 2016, the one where I only made it through Day 3 before getting distracted by finishing off my county fair quilt show entry.  
By Sarah at Confessions of a Fabric Addict, tutorial found here
I hauled it out and got to work!  I already had most of the fabric cut, and the centers of the four big blocks pieced.
I made these on July 15, 2016
Non-pattern follower that I am, I set to work constructing a block from the inside out.
CUTE!  But I'm doing it wrong...
When I actually looked at the pattern, though, I realized that the block is built as a nine-patch, not from the inside out.  Oops!  I can make that block work.  But I'm making the other three blocks the correct way.
Not sewn together yet, obviously, since I need to buy more Kona Natural to finish the block
Except I never cut the 4" strips or the sashing and borders, and since I sold my shop, I no longer have a bolt of Kona naturals to cut from.  Luckily, the Textile Company is less than 3 miles from here, and I'm pretty sure they have a full selection of Kona solids.  Unfortunately, they are closed today, so I'll have to wait until tomorrow to complete any one block, but I am determined to do all the other piecing that I can do today.

As I said when I first started this quilt in the summer of 2016, working with just three fabrics is hard for me - my scrappy nature wants more variety.  The fact that there are only four blocks using big (4.5" squares, big for me, anyway) squares of fabric is the only reason I think I can stay on track with this quilt.  Maybe I can go scrappy for the back, piecing a bunch of large chunks of Christmas fabrics together...

And I'm SERIOUSLY considering tackling Bonnie Hunter's Mystery, On Ringo Lake, this season.  It's not a UFO, but having already completed one UFO top in the past two weeks and well on my way to completing another, I think I'm going to treat myself!

Lest you think I've skipped over Thanksgiving to get to Christmas, I used my turkey potholder this morning when I pulled the morning's muffins out of the oven.  Fun, fun, fun!

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Bonus Triangles

Even though my official move date was August 11, I am STILL unpacking.  This week, I found a baggie of bonus triangles.  What's a gal to do but start sewing them together!

After sewing them into HSTs,

I trimmed them to size (1.75"), and started playing with layouts. 

This little block took longer than I'd like to admit, and I didn't particularly like it as I was sewing it, but now that it is done, I think I like it.  I think I'd like it more on point with some fun alternate blocks in between, but I'll have to make a couple more first to play around with it.  There's not much time for sewing in my life right now, but a week from now, I'll be on Thanksgiving Break, and I plan to sew, Sew, SEW!!!

In the meantime, I'm linking up with Oh, Scrap and Monday Making.

Friday, November 3, 2017

First time sewing since my move

SO MUCH has changed since the last time I posted!  I sold my business, moved to Massachusetts, and started a new job.  Whew!  It has been exhausting, but fun and so worthwhile:

  • My kids are happy, getting better grades than they have in years, and are more involved in school than ever before.
  • My husband is super happy with his new job.
  • My dog, Biscuit, is getting around better ever since I started adding organic turmeric to his food and started taking him for long walks (can't just let him out anymore)
  • My job is challenging and exhausting, but rewarding.
  • My job includes 3 meals a day for my entire family, so I haven't cooked in months (best perk EVER!!)
  • I have seen my mom and sisters more in the last three months than I have in the last 3 years combined.
  • I've been able to get a bit of knitting done - currently working on mittens for myself since winter is coming.

And today, I sewed!!!

Not everything is perfect.  Our employer-supplied housing is nice, but MUCH smaller than I am used to.  I haven't even been able to bring all of my fabric and yarn into the apartment, let alone unpack it.  My home office is serving triple duty as a guest room and a sewing room, which means it is cramped and untidy and not all that conducive to doing anything.  HOWEVER, today I started reading one of my new Amish Quilt Shop mysteries, and that made me want to quilt, so I hauled the ironing board and iron down from the laundry room and reached into a drawer to pull out a UFO (heaven knows I have plenty to choose from!). 

I pulled out a project for which I had already assembled most of the blocks and had done all of the cutting and just needed assembly.  I got it to the place where it is all in rows now, and I'll sew on the setting triangles and sew the rows together tomorrow.  I don't have a purpose for this, but I guess it would make a nice, low volume baby quilt.  I used a charm pack that someone had given me along with some Kona Snow.  The pattern is Breezy Buntings from Moda Bake Shop, although I modified the pattern to make mine smaller because the charm pack didn't have enough fabric to make the quilt as designed.

It felt SO GOOD to hear the hum of the sewing machine and smell the warm fabric as I pressed it.  Why have I let so much time pass since the last time I sewed??

Sunday, July 9, 2017

MAJOR changes in my life

My 2017 Row By Row Experience Row, "On the Go from Dawn til Dusk" really encapsulates my life right now.
I challenged myself to write a paper pieced pattern.  I don't like it as much as last year's row, but what can you do?
Four years ago, I reinvented myself.  I went from college admissions professional to yarn/sewing shop owner/operator, and it has been a fabulously fun ride.  Well, I'll be reinventing myself again in the coming weeks.  In bullet point form:
  • In late March/early April, my husband's job security was threatened.
  • Recognizing full well that I can't support my family with my shop and that there wouldn't be other job opportunities for my husband in this area if he were to lose his job, in early April, I did what any responsible person would do when threatened with financial insecurity - I applied for some jobs.  I focused my search on western Massachusetts since it is an area that we know and love, because it would be near the majority of my family, and because I knew there'd be a job available there for my husband if we moved up there.
  • On April 30, I flew up for an interview at Deerfield Academy to become one of their college advisors.
  • On May 3, I was offered this fabulous job, and that weekend, the whole family drove up to check out the school to make sure the whole family was on board.  They were.
  • For the last two months, I have been going through the motions of selling my house and selling my business.  There have been lots of looks for both of them, and I have buyers for my business.  I'll be transferring assets to them on July 31, and my new job in Massachusetts starts August 15.  In the meantime, my husband and kids went up to New England as we do every summer for basketball camp and time with the cousins.  The only difference is that this time, they aren't coming back home.  I'm down here in Virginia alone, wrapping things up.  My husband started his new job up there with the Amherst College basketball program on July 1.
What a whirlwind of EMOTIONS I've been feeling, never mind the whirlwind of activity.  I've cried at leaving the place that has been home for me the longest of any in my entire life, the house and view that I've so enjoyed, the friends who have been so incredibly supportive of me, and the business that I started with $3000 and a dream.  I've rejoiced at reuniting with my family, at leaving behind an area pervasive with a complement of folks that I just don't understand (are you following this KKK nonsense?  KKK in 2017, are you kidding me???), at the thrill I feel with change of any kind.  I've reflected quite a bit about what is and isn't important to me, from the mundane task of purging as I pack up for a move to the adjusting of my expectations for the very different lifestyle that awaits me in MA.

Throughout it all, my creative life has sustained me, kept me grounded, kept me sane.  I have knit up a storm, finishing a Little Big Wrap
Yes, I'm a goofball, and yes, this photo was taken late at night in terrible light.
and starting a new one with eight others at the shop as one final knit-along before I leave.  I also knit up five A Little Bit Bohemian scarf/shawlettes for my sister's 40th birthday celebration.
I am SO going to miss the views from my porch!
Last weekend, eight of us spent 48 fabulous hours at Kripalu, a yoga retreat in Western Mass.  I didn't know two of the folks were coming until it was too late to make a shawlette for them, so I only finished one for each of my sisters and sister in law, my mom and my aunt.  Of course, it was too hot and humid to wear them, but it's the thought that counts, right?  And the cool weather always returns.

I've also been sewing with folks at the shop: a playdate where the girls made sleeping bags, pillows and pillowcases for their American Girl dolls,
We made a no-zip version to cut down on time. The pillowcases were made using the burrito method.
Grandma Camp where three generations of women made aprons,
I'm going to miss working with this crew.
and helping one of my beginning quilting students finish her first project.

She has since gotten it quilted, but I'll be darned if I can find a photo!
With so much to do, it would be easy to just stay "on the go from dawn til dusk", but I've really been making an effort to take some time for myself - spending some time with the people I'm going to miss so much when I leave, and spending time feeding my creative soul with some quiet time with yarn and fabric.  And one thing I really wanted to fit in was sharing a bit of this journey with YOU.  While I don't blog as much as I did before I started my business, this online community has been so important to me for years.  I imagine I'll be leaning in to it a bit more as I make my move and have to find my new place in the world.  Thank you for being there for me.

Now, since I'm on the computer, I suppose I should get some more items online in my ETSY shop (I've been selling off the yarn and fabric that the new owners aren't buying at discount prices - I can't take it ALL with me!), but maybe that can wait until I spend some time with a book and a beverage on the porch...

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Shoo Fly Breeze?

Remember this quilt I started back in 2012 based on a photo I'd seen of Melissa Corry's Summer Breeze quilt?

Remember all the trouble I had figuring out the pattern so I went ahead and bought the pattern?  Well, someone's having a baby, so I dug through my UFOs to see what was close enough to whip together quickly.  This one won, even though I had to rip out some seams to fix some glaring mistakes (I left the little mistakes in there).
It measures 39" square (ish)

Man, I love this quilt!  Even with just seven fabrics, it makes me happy.  But now that I look at the pattern that I bought, the dimensions are not the same and my setting is different, so it isn't really a Summer Breeze quilt, just one inspired by it.  What to call it?  Shoo Fly Breeze is all that comes to mind, but that's not really an ideal name for a baby quilt.  Any ideas out there?

Monday, March 27, 2017

String Shadows

Even though today was a day off work, it was a day full of "adult-ing".  Some of it was frustrating (meeting with my son and guidance counselor at school about him not working to potential).  Some of it was tedious (bill paying, bookkeeping, completing a micro loan application).  Some of it was easy but time consuming (post office, buying county decals for our cars, shopping for supplies).  Some of it was downright scary (learning that a good friend has cancer).  When I finally made it home at the end of the day, all I wanted to do was sew.  I queued up an audiobook and dumped out a new bag of scraps from a guild friend and set out to make my own version of that string shadow quilt I found last week.

The blocks aren't sewn together into rows yet and are just sitting on some background fabric, but what fun I am having!  I need to focus on actually QUILTING some quilts, but I'll be darned if I don't just want to piece tops these days.  My goal is a 6 x 8 quilt plus borders, I think.  We'll see.

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

Friday, March 24, 2017

Lazy Week at the Beach & Getting Inspired Online

I'm had a GREAT TIME in Cancun with my husband!  We walked miles and miles every day.  We swam in the wonderfully warm and clear water.  We lounged - in hammocks, in beach chairs, on our balcony looking out over the water.  We read and read and read (I finished 4 books).  We ate delicious tacos at the 24 hour taco stand down the street.  We visited Chichen Itza, which, for me, an archaeological anthropology major with a concentration in Mesoamerica in college, was a dream come true.
We did a lot of beach sitting

We visited Chichen Itza on the Equinox - a big day for a culture that reveres the sun.

The view from our hotel room

We stopped to eat at a restaurant/artisan center/hotel on our way to Chichen Itza.  This is one of the hotel rooms - no beach, but I would LOVE to stay in something like this!

And I took the time to do something I don't do nearly as much of as I'd like to do - cruise quilt blogs!  It feels so good to not have something else I SHOULD be doing so I can enjoy doing what I WANT to do!  And look what I found!  A Scrap Quilt Challenge!  I love scrap quilts and I love challenges, so I'm IN!  Is anyone else doing this one?

One thing I looked for online was shadow quilts.  Remember that I made one but it just didn't excite me?
I just can't get excited about this quilt.
I want to make another, and these excite me much more:

Wouldn't this look cool with some orphan blocks? Photo credit 

Those double shadows and geese make it so much more interesting! Photo credit

Love that the shadow extends to the border and the diagonal edges on the shadows! Photo credit

Now that I am home, I just want to go down into my sewing room and SEW!

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

I thought I was done...

On Sunday, I finished reconciling my books for my business so I could turn everything over to the accountant.  What a weight off my shoulders but, UGH!  Hours of looking at numbers on a computer screen!  The perfect remedy for the malaise that brought on was, of course, quilting!  I finished piecing my Star Sampler top!

At least, I THOUGHT I was finished, but the darned thing is screaming for some kind of border to me.  I'm thinking continuing the Irish Chain out half a block more around the whole thing.  What do you think?

Then, despite the fact that I am a hand quilter, I am sending this out to a long armer.  There is NO WAY I'm going to try to hand quilt through all of those batiks!

This quilt makes me happy.  Know what else makes me happy?  This month, my husband and I finally paid off our student loans, 24 years after graduating from college!!!  We're headed to Cancun this weekend for a 5-day "Spring Break" to celebrate, just the two of us.  I'm dancing the happy dance!  I plan to eat, sleep, read, sit on the beach and knit and that's IT!

Sunday, March 5, 2017

One for the books

I get some unusual requests at my shop...but I think this one takes the cake.  I was asked to make a Virginia Military Institute scarf for Mr. Potato Head.  I like a challenge, so I gave it a go.
I thought she wanted a knit scarf since we're a yarn shop.
But then she mentioned wanting the VMI "spider" logo, so I tried again with knit fabric.

I hope one of these fits the bill.

In the meantime, I'm finishing up my Star Sampler quilt.  The fourth and final star we'll be making, Rising Star, is my favorite, I think.

I hope to finish piecing the top tomorrow.

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

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Orphan 9-patches

Well, basketball season is officially over for my family.
My youngest and me at the game, wearing our pom poms on our heads.
My husband's team lost in the semifinals yesterday (by TWO HEARTBREAKING POINTS!!!), so all of a sudden, I have a little more free time.   Time to visit my sewing room that I haven't set foot in for quite some time.  I did a little tidying up, and then unpacked a bag of scraps that someone had recently given me.

Lo and behold!  What's this?

There were nine 9-patch orphan blocks in the bag, too!  I could have thrown them into my orphan block drawer, but chose instead to throw them up on the design wall and play around with them a bit.  Add some snowball blocks and some setting triangles from other fabrics that I found in the bag, and I may have the beginnings of little quilt here.  It's busy, but it reminds me of the old-timey scrap quilts that I love.  Hopefully some big, dark borders will calm it down some.
It isn't sewn together yet.  Gotta let this marinate, not sure I'm committed to this.
As a leader and ender while making the snowball blocks, I sewed together a couple more Charming Plus Blocks.  Still not sure what I'm going to do with these, but I love seeing each one come together.

Play time is over, though.  Work calls; I have many college admissions files to read before March 1.  Meanwhile, I'm linking up with Oh, Scrap and Monday Making.