Sunday, January 28, 2007

Diary of a Schizoid Quilter

For some reason I find myself working on three different things, all in various stages of completion. The weekend has been pretty productive; I'm just kind of inching along to getting something done. I made four more log cabin squares because I like the symmetry of this arrangement, and 16 squares gives me a lot more possibilities than just 12. Now all I need to do is to figure out some sort of border for it. I bought Pieced Borders: The Complete Resource by Judy Martin and Marsha McCloskey a couple of weeks ago and I'm hoping that something in there will inspire me.

I had thought about combining the log cabin with the Brave New World blocks since they are both made of the same fabrics, but I changed my mind. I like the Brave New World blocks by themselves. I've been playing around with those too, trying to find an arrangement I like. The problem is that this block is so versatile it is hard to decide on just one.

I am kind of leaning toward the off-center bulls-eye, for lack of a better name for it. The setting seems to fit better with the scrappy nature of the pieces. This was all hand-sewn and I will probably hand-sew the pieces together since I've come so far with it. I still need to decide on a border for this one too. And I am promising myself that the quilting will be very simple. Too often I try to make the quilting too fancy and then I end up with another WISP since I am a very slow quilter.

In the first two pictures above you can just make out some of the little posies. Those are still coming along, albeit slowly. I've been working on them while watching TV (we've been renting the The Sopranos DVD's). It seems a little weird to be working on such a pretty little quilt while watching murder and intrigue with the Mafia in New Jersey, but oh well.

Our quilt guild met this past Thursday night and I passed out the first set of directions for the new mystery quilt. So far, no questions. Hopefully everyone will have a good time making the quilt, I know I did. We also decided to start a round robin for those who are interested. Another project? Sure, why not? We are also going to spend some of our money on a road trip to Bloomington, Indiana in March for the quilt show. Last year one of our members had a quilt in the show and she is hoping to get another one in this year.

Here you can see the progress on the posies. I do, I really do, have lots more of the flowers made, it's just a matter of getting them sewn together.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

I Do DI!

Tuesdays are my night for Destination Imagination. DI is a creative problem-solving program for students in elementary through high school. Each year teams across the country spend months preparing solutions to challenges provided by the fiends, er...very creative challenge writers at DI central. They then present their solutions at local tournaments held in March. The thing I love about DI is that it is child-centered. The adults who sponsor teams are called managers--and their only job is to keep the team centered on their tasks. All the products, props, costumes, ideas, and everything else related to the challenge is supposed to be from the children on the team. You can read more about it here.

Nothing much to show on the quilty front here. I have been hand-quilting a WIVSP (work in very slow progress), but I want to get the quilting finished before I show any pictures. I laid it out last night and realized that I only have about a week's worth of quilting left on it; I really didn't realize how close to the end I was. Maybe this will be all the push I need to finally get it done.

I have a couple of ideas for new projects that I think I can piece pretty easily on the machine, using just stash fabric. I kind of like having a hand piecing thing going in tandem with a machine piecing project. If I get stalled out on one I can just pick up the other.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

A Hot Chocolate Sort of Sunday

We woke up this morning to freezing rain and sleet. The car parked in the driveway was covered in ice, and our two flags out front were frozen stiff. Luckily it warmed a bit above freezing because my daughter and her boyfriend had to drive back this afternoon. (They made it safely.)

I finished the guild mystery quilt top yesterday afternoon and I guess I'm experiencing a bit of a let-down. Or let's call it a creative reevaluation. I'm too restless this afternoon to work on the posy quilt, although the un-sewing is coming along. I picked up a small quilt I have been hand quilting for a loooong time and worked on it for a bit.

Yesterday I went over to the LQS to have the owner (and fellow guild member) recheck my math for the yardage needed for the mystery quilt. I found out that she is testing the waters to see if anyone is interested in forming a Dear Jane group. Call me crazy, but it actually sounded interesting. I noticed that several bloggers have been working on Dear Jane blocks and I wondered how that was going. It would be a two year commitment; she is thinking of doing seven or eight blocks a month. Some of the piecing would be foundation, some hand-sewn, and some machine pieced. I'm very tempted.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

I am in the process of unpicking my little posies so that I can group them closer together. Sigh. It is a tedious job. I know that most people consider machine sewn seams stronger than hand sewn, but let me tell you, unpicking all the little seams is turning into a job. Still, I think I will have enough of the muslin to make one or two more rows, so it will work out in the end.

Life has been good this past week because I have a jewel of a student teacher. She jumped right in and is doing a super job. Right now I am just observing her teach and offering a few suggestions here and there. She doesn't need too much, just a chance to gain a little experience with the day to day teaching. It's fun to work with someone who has such enthusiasm!

I am looking forward to this weekend because my daughter is coming down to spend her birthday here at home with us. Yay! We are both looking forward to having her home again.

Monday, January 15, 2007


I'm not a big fan of these, but who can resist something so flattering? I mean, does anyone get nailed as superficial, selfish, and self indulgent?

You Are An INFJ

The Protector

You live your life with integrity, originality, vision, and creativity.
Independent and stubborn, you rarely stray from your vision - no matter what it is.
You are an excellent listener, with almost infinite patience.
You have complex, deep feelings, and you take great care to express them.

You would make a great photographer, alternative medicine guru, or teacher.
What's Your Personality Type?

I'm off today for the Martin Luther King holiday, so I'm sitting here with my second cup of coffee and trying to decide what I'm going to do with the posy quilt. I've arranged and rearranged the posies, and the thing is, I like it better when they are bunched together rather than scattered out. I think I have enough of the muslin to make the quilt bigger. What I should do is go up and actually figure it out...after all I have rulers, mathematical skills, and um, patience.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Working Weekend

I've had a busy couple of days. The mystery quilt is coming along. There is a glimmer of light at the end of that particular tunnel. AND I've got some more of these posies done--I'm to the point where I'm looking at different arrangements. I am very limited in the amount of hexes I can put in this quilt because the off-white muslin I'm using came as part of a kit and I don't think I'll be able to find any more in that particular color. Hey, ya wouldn't want to it to be easy!

Here you can see what I have done so far, arranged on my super high tech design surface (actually, a cheap vinyl tablecloth thumbtacked to the wall of my sewing room with the flannel side out). It works much better than I thought it would. And it is much more convenient than pinning everything to the curtains in the dining room like I used to do.

I've also been working out the designs on paper. Last year I found a website here where you can download and print paper in various grids. They have hexagons, ordinary graph paper, dot paper, diamonds, even musical staff paper and primary handwriting paper. It will even generate calendars if you are so inclined. It is a graph paper lover's paradise if there is such a thing as a graph paper lover. You have got to love the world wide web!

I'm off tomorrow for the MLK holiday so I am going to keep plugging away at this. It is kind of fun to keep switching between the two projects, one done on the machine and the other hand sewn.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Making Those Geese FLY!

Sorry for the glare in the picture, but this is what I was playing with last night. Since I am pretty new to machine piecing I'm still getting a kick out of learning how to use all these little tools that my quilting friends have been raving about. With this ruler you cut one large square and four little squares and through some kind of mathematical magic when you sew it all together and cut it just so...PERFECT flying geese! And not just one perfect goose, but four, count them, four geese. Hand sewing flying geese is always a crap shoot, even if you cut and sew precisely--probably because of those pesky bias edges on the triangles. This thing is terrific!

Now, of course, I'm thinking of all the things I could do with this...Not tonight, though. I had one of those Bermuda Triangle days where everything I touched seemed to disappear as soon as I looked away. I would have a stack of papers in my hand and head across the classroom to put them in a folder, and by the time I reached the other side of the room, the stack would be gone. Minutes later the stack would reappear, but something else would go missing. I finally called it a day early and just came home.

Tonight I'm going to veg out in front of the TV (Netflix delivery today!).

Sunday, January 7, 2007

Yesterday while cruising around blogland I came across Libby's blog A Simple Girl. I recognized the quilt she was showing had the same basic design as one I made two summers ago, although I never thought of putting applique in the center square. This is one of my ready to quilt UFO's. It is sitting patiently with its companions on a chair in my sewing room waiting for me to get busy quilting. The picture was taken last fall when I aired out my unfinished tops.

One of the things that I find fascinating about quilting is the almost infinite variations each quilt pattern has. Different fabrics, different color schemes, different layouts--each quilter interprets the design in her own way.

Today my goal is to finish the blocks for the mystery quilt--and to begin writing the directions for the guild members. It's a rainy, dreary day here, so there won't be too many distractions (she said hopefully!).

Wednesday, January 3, 2007

Butterfly Home

I stopped by the quilt shop today and finally remembered to bring this home. This is what I made for our guild challenge this summer. Since we are a new guild, the challenge was to try a new technique or to reflect the theme of "beginnings" in a small quilt. I had never appliqued before, so I spent most of the month of June trying out different techniques for the butterflies. I finally ended up sewing them to fusible webbing and hand-stitching them to the top. They didn't come out exactly the way I had envisioned them, but oh well. I don't think I am ever satisfied with what I do!

What was really interesting was the number of ways our members found to reflect the theme of new beginnings. A couple of others did as I did and tried out a new technique. Some others used the beginnings theme in a more literal sense and made some really fantastic personal quilts.

We were lucky enough to be able to display the quilts in a local show, and the woman who manages the show has asked us to display next year as well. It made all of us feel very good--only a handful of us had ever displayed quilts before.

This year we are combining the mystery quilt and the challenge quilt--which is why I have spent the past month working on the mystery. I just cannot get the fabrics I chose to work well together. This afternoon as I was ready to sew the last piece on the block I just stopped and decided to go back and see if I could find another fabric that might work better. I think I have it. We'll see...

Today is the last day of my Christmas break. I took my son to the airport this afternoon for his flight back to Texas. My daughter left the day after Christmas to go back to work. So my husband and I are once again empty-nesters. Tomorrow school begins again, and I have a new student teacher starting, so life will certainly get interesting.

By the way, today I found TWO more UFO's hiding in the sewing room! One was actually in the process of being quilted (about 50% done) and the other is just blocks waiting to be put together. Do they multiply when you're not looking???

Tuesday, January 2, 2007

How Does My Garden Grow

My little garden of posies is growing. I've been working on them a little at a time and I've gotten beyond the half-way point. The diamonds you see are just waiting for me to chop off their ends for the last two blocks. I'm thinking that 24 blocks will complete the garden and leave me enough of the muslin to put a border around the whole thing. It will be just the right size for a crib quilt. I'll even have enough of the print fabric to fancy up the border if I want to use it.

I got my sewing room a little more organized. I invested in some of those plastic organizers with drawers and now have all my quilt patterns, templates, threads, needles, and other notions safely tucked away where I can actually find them again when I want them. I hope. I had no idea I had so many spools of thread! Or so many little doodads.

The fabric is all put away for the most part, meaning the stuff that will actually fit into the bins. As for the rest, it is neatly folded and stacked. I definitely need more output to empty out some of those bins.

I also took the plunge, and tried to sort through the numerous UFO's hiding here and there. Oh my! Some of them are stacked in a chair. The rest are in boxes and plastic bags. One is pinned to a flannel sheet rolled up on my bureau. Here is the sad count:

In the quilting frame: 1
Tops finished and ready for quilting: 7
Blocks all sewn, ready to put together: 4
Blocks still to be sewn (fabric cut, some blocks done): 4
Abandoned: 2

Seen in black and white, this is a little overwhelming. I am going to be very busy in 2007!