Saturday, November 17, 2018

Word(s) for the year, 2019

It is time to choose a word for the year to inspire my creativity, passion and enthusiasm. While they are nice words in their own right, they are goals, not a means to achieve them. I have been thinking hard to come up with something different than the ones I have chosen in the past – Journey, Focus, Passion and so on.

This year, disgusted by the rising open displays of hatred, anger, impatience and disrespect in our world, I have decided that one of my two words is going to be KINDNESS. I am going to offer kind words, kind thoughts and kind deeds, hoping to brighten the days of others, and help them know that someone cares.

My other word is kind of related in a way, but it is going to be POSITIVE. I want to put positivity into the world (yes, I know that’s not really a word, but I’m making it one!). I find that I’m angry a lot lately… mostly at the daily news, so I am going to try to channel this anger and use it to spark positive change in myself and those around me. When I see something wrong, I’m going to try to be proactive and try to change it instead of quietly seething and letting the anger disturb my serenity. At the same time, I need to be somewhat sensitive to other people’s issues. It’s important to know when to stop arguing with people and simply let them be wrong. This is all going to be hard for me, because I don’t like confrontations. They terrify me. I want to overcome that and learn to keep my cool while doing it. Wish me luck!

I know these things are not really quilting related, though in a way they can be depending on how and when they are applied. KINDNESS and POSITIVITY can spread to others when applied liberally in ANY context.

Meet Kaylee

Our family has grown by one member.  Today we adopted Kaylee (formerly known as 'Bessie').  She is a 1 year old female St. Bernard.  She's a real sweet love and has double dewclaws, something I've never seen before!.

So far she is still exploring the yard and house... when she isn't napping like now.  She seems to like it here, and even got to chase a bunny today (it came from the botanical gardens behind the house and the dogs thought it was great fun chasing it til it got out of the yard).  Poor bunny must have been terrified. Glad they didn't catch it!

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Working Hard / Hardly Working

So lately I've been working in fits and starts... dealing with depression and passion at the same time can be a real roller coaster ride.  One minute I'm up to my armpits in passion for my work, then I'm drowning in a morass.  It's truly mystifying how I get anything done sometimes.

Yesterday, I sewed up a storm, making the sections of the first block for a quilt for my Dear Daughter-in-law (DDIL)... Lots of applique and some piecing as well... It looks a little chaotic and disjointed, but several of the pieced blocks are actually parts of a larger motif that will all come together in the finished quilt. (google 'Dear Daughter quilt pattern')... it is a busy, chaotic quilt, but it does have some rhyme and reason to the design.

This morning I wound some selvages that I've cut off recently... Here is a picture of all my collected selvages.  Seven balls of them so far - I DO use them but not often enough obviously.  

Here's an example of what I actually do with them when I use them:

 Here's a picture of the bear paw quilt I made on my Mediterranean cruise...

And finally, the reveal of the mystery quilt I did on the Mediterranean cruise.  The designer said I could reveal the quilt after the first of November.  I emailed her a week ago (well into November) asking if it was okay now and never heard back from her.  I'm hoping silence means consent... and if not, it's easier sometimes to get forgiveness than permission.  I am happy with it... I love those pops of turquoise in the sashing!  The turquoise in the cornerstones was actually my own design (the quilt pattern called for white squares in the corners.  I wanted to pull the pop of color out into the borders. 

Currently content that I am caught up on my block of the month projects.  However I'm not feeling really inspired to start anything new.  I've got lots of kits I could delve into, and I've seen so much eye candy lately in the quilt world, but nothing has inspired me enough to begin a new project.  And I'm really okay with that - I've got SO many UFOs.  We'll see how things develop from here. 

Monday, November 5, 2018

Happiness and Quilting

Enchanted Garden, blocks 1-6

I've been a little depressed lately (ever since I got back home from my trip to Europe).  I loved the trip and had a lot of fun, and I loved coming home and sleeping in my own bed again, being with my kitties and my dog and my friends.  But for some reason, I've been somewhat depressed of late.  Can't put a finger on why...

Purrfect Moments, blocks 1-6 (January-June)

However, the past 2 weeks, I've been furiously preparing for a 4 day retreat at the beach house north of Ventura.  Piecing blocks, cutting blocks, tracing and fusing appliques on those blocks... It's been a long two weeks.  Last Weds. I packed up the car with the help of my husband, picked up a friend's stuff to take to the beach (she came on retreat too, just in someone else's car).  We all met at the house, set up our sewing paraphernalia and worked on quilting tasks from Thursday afternoon til Sunday afternoon.  It really works out to 3 days of work time, but we call it 4 days because we're there for four days on the calendar.  Anyway, 31 of us in one house was a little crowded, but we made it work.  (it IS a big house). 

Purrfect Moments blocks 7-10 (July-October)

I found my mood improving incredibly the longer I was there... I think there endorphin stimulators in fabric!  By Thursday night when I went to bed (about 2am) I was pretty relaxed and happy.  By Saturday evening, I was ecstatic over all the work I was getting done and thrilled seeing what everyone else was accomplishing as well.  By the time I got to bed Saturday night (about 1am), I was coming down off the quilting high a little as I contemplated leaving the next day.  I wanted to finish everything I came with, so I made a mad rush to finish all my applique by noon on Sunday... Mission Accomplished. 

Woodland Creatures (blocks 1-7)

But then we all met in one room for show and tell, and while I was thrilled with what everyone had done (some of these ladies did SO much and everything was beautiful!!!), I was starting to get overwhelmed with sadness at the thought of loading up the car and driving home.  Got everything loaded and set off for home (to the tune of grinding brakes, another part of 'real life' that came up the day before retreat - I gladly blocked that out during the retreat).

You Lucky Dog (blocks 10 & ll) - (making one for me and one for a rescue group, Sunny Saints, Saint Bernard Rescue, to auction as a fund-raiser)

Now that I'm home, (auto-less, as the car is in the shop), I'm still in the process of unpacking and sorting and dealing with all the things that built up in my absence (mail, laundry, lots of little daily tasks).  As with my longer trip in September/October, I am glad to be home, sleeping in my own bed and having kitties and a dog (and a husband) to cuddle.  Still, I am sad to not be totally immersed in the making of things.

Strip Joints, Warm - a new finish

I hope this feeling passes... I like the calm happiness (it beats out the sadness hands down, and is even preferable to the euphoria).   Quilting makes me happy... it's gotta be some kind of additive in the fabric.. that's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Monday, July 2, 2018

Disappointment Can Turn to Happiness

Went to Quilt Emporium in Woodland Hills this morning and LO! they had not had a Row by Row winner yet. They let me take my choice of 25 fat quarters, and gave me a jelly roll as a bonus prize for having their row in my quilt.... Love my prizes... thank you, Quilt Emporium... They kept my quilt to hang in their shop for a while, which is a first for me (my 5th row by row win, but no shop has ever asked before. I'm honored and glad to oblige).

Came home and finished appliqueing my pumpkins and sewed all the blocks into rows.  Still need to press them and then sew the rows together.  I already have a back chosen for it, just waiting for the new bolt of batting I ordered.  That will give me two quilts ready for basting, to add to my 7 quilts in the binding queue for my backlog of projects (and those don't even begin to make a dent in my total UFO count). 

I have yet to begin my 20 minutes of working on one project (for the Stashbusters 20 minute challenge).  20 minutes a day to make steady progress on a project is something I SHOULD be able to keep up with, but I missed yesterday, July 1, completely - just spaced out and forgot all about the challenge.  Spent my quilting time yesterday looking for a shop to turn in my challenge quilt at, and then working on applique for the rest of the day.  I won't make that mistake again (the mistake being spacing out on the 20 minute challenge)!

Tomorrow is my mah jongg day, but I will get my 20 minutes in after the game... I have all night because Tuesday is my husband's radio night... I have the whole evening to myself.  (I am a ham radio widow on Tuesday, lol).

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Appointments and Disappointments

Well, I finished my row by row.. got it quilted, bound, labeled and embellished on Friday night.  Saturday, I went to play Pathfinder (a roleplaying game, similar to D&D) with friends... I was gone all day, so unable to take my quilt to a shop to try to win a prize.  This morning, I rushed off to one of my favorite shops, to find out they'd already had a winner on Friday!!!  So I went to another shop, and discovered that they'd had a winner on Friday, too.  My next nearest shops were both closed on Sunday, so I guess I'll find out tomorrow if they are still open to a winning quilt.  Sigh... I'm very disappointed.  I really wanted to win closer to home, especially at the first shop because they let you choose your own fat quarters instead of giving you a pack of Kona solids (which are cheaper fabrics, and ones I don't use... I rarely use solids, except black, and I don't like Kona solids, as they fray too easily imo).  We'll see what happens tomorrow, when I visit other shops.

Here's how it came out (with the final borders, though this picture doesn't show the buttons that I added):

Today I spent the day doing a little driving and shopping...  came home to start blanket-stitching some appliqued blocks I made before this challenge started.  I've got them maybe 1/3 of the way done... still plenty to stitch, but I think I'm done for the time being... time to relax a bit, recover and recharge my creative batteries.  I'm a little upset and disappointed in the events of the day, and need to remember that it's not about winning, but about doing.  I'm glad I made the quilt, even if I don't win, or have to travel far afield to find a shop that has no winner yet.  It's important to keep things in perspective. 

Tomorrow morning, my dog goes in for grooming...  I have some trepidation at the process even though I know everything will be fine (my older dog got groomed 2 weeks ago.  She always found grooming stressful, and her heart failed later that day).  My younger dog doesn't have a heart condition, and he doesn't stress over groomings, so I'm sure it will all be fine, but the wound is still raw and I miss my girl.  Here they are together, Maggie on the left, Chewiee on the right... RIP, Maggie-girl.

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Dancing to the Muse

So I've been trying to follow my muse today... but she's not speaking to me much... not sure what to make of that... I hope she returns shortly, I miss her... or is it him, or both, or it?  Can muses be any gender, or none at all?  whatever...

I've got my row by row top done... it has a couple of borders on top and bottom that aren't pictured here (yet)... (a blue border strip at the top, a white border strip at the bottom, both music themed)...

I also finished a couple of pillowcases... they are sandwiched, quilted, backed with a zipper closed backing and then bound.  Love how they came out... and yes, that peacock is cross-stitched (an old hobby that I'd pretty much given up on since I started quilting in 2003).  I made that pillowcase for my mother-in-law, Susie (Zetella), who passed away a few years ago.  My father-in-law just entered assisted living and this was one of the things he didn't take with him, so I brought it home, quilted it, put on a new back with a zipper and put an oversized pillowform in it to really fill it up.  The raven pillowcase is one I made for myself, just updated it by quilting it and giving it a zipper closure on the back. 

Tonight, I meet with my mini-group, a great group of ladies, who help keep me grounded and focused.  While there, I will pin baste my row by row quilt so I can start quilting it tomorrow.  If I can finish the quilting by the eob Sunday, I can rush to my local shop and claim a prize on Monday!

I know I'm too competitive, but that is what helps keep me driven and active... Speaking of which, the local county fair is coming up soon... and I've got to finish getting quilts ready for that as well... so much to do, so little time...

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Progress and Depression

Depression is an insidious disease/condition/whatever.  It has no outward signs like measles or chicken pox, but it can be devastating to those who suffer from it and their families.  It plays havoc with my enthusiasm for all things, including quilting. I have complete and thorough empathy with anyone who is dealing with depression, either personally or indirectly.

That said, I've been powering through with the help of some pretty heavy duty meds, which have their side effects, but totally worth them, most of the time. 

I've been working on hard on my 2018 Row by Row challenge quilt.  I've got 7 blocks completed, the 8th (and last) being cut and fused, ready for pressing, but I'm holding off because a friend wants to trace my appliques before I put them on the block (I had to reverse them because they were drawn for hand applique in the pattern, with double-sided sheets which made tracing in reverse with a lightbox extremely difficult.  Since I've already done it, I wanted to save my friend the headache.  I see her tomorrow, and once she has traced mine, I can finish the block... I think Thursday I will get to sandwiching and quilting  Hopefully I'll be done by Sunday... I know I'm not first, as someone in Oregon already turned one in... but it'll be done when it's done... I'm sure I'll get it in first somewhere (every participating shop can have a winner).

Here's mine to date:

My last block is antoehr 18" square, and I'll have to cut some filler blocks and/or panels to fill the side (haven't yet decided if the 18" squares will go on the front or the back though).  Anyway, I'm content with my progress.

I finished my Faerie Dreams quilt, two tops and two pillowcases.  Faerie Dreams was started about 14 years ago for a friend's young daughter... I never finished it, and now she's a grown lady and a bit of a goth, so this wouldn't go over well, even as a lap quilt for her.  I found the cut triangles pieces in a box when cleaning my studio and decided to finish it... If I don't get a granddaughter sometime soon, I'll probably end up donating it to Linus or some other kids charity.

This is Laundry Basket Quilts "Pumpkins" from a Quiltmania Magazine from last September/October.  Fell in love with it and wanted to make it... just got the blocks fused and ready for blanket stitching when Row by Row started... Had to put these on the back burner for the time being.

This elephants quilt, which I call "There's One in Every Crowd," was fun to make... also a Laundry Basket Quilts design.  Can't wait to finish the back and quilt it!

Maybe I'll get some pictures of the pillows soon.... Now, off to work on one of the many bindings I'm far behind on (I've got a current queue of 7 projects quilted, trimmed, and awaiting bindings). 

Busy week ahead, but I think I can squeeze in some sewing and quilting.  I wish I didn't have to squeeze time for such things into my day.  You'd think being retired, I'd have lots of time, but between lots of activities, and the depression, good time management is not something I can honestly put on my resume.

Spending this evening watching musicals on TCM... love Tuesdays and Thursdays this month!  Back to The Music Man...

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Diamond Tiles Border - Decision made and implemented

I agonized a bit over what to do with the Diamond Tiles quilt top... the borders were too plain... even with the square in a square corners.... I thought about taking them off and piecing them instead... but finally decided on some applique.  I drew the shapes, blew them up to 2 more sizes, then traced them onto fusible (eight times for each size), fused the black fabric, cut out the shapes, and then agonized a bit more over the thought of actually fusing them to the background... what if I put them on and hated it????

Finally, I took the plunge, heated up the Rowenta, placed the motifs and put iron to fusible-backed fabric.   I did the opposite (bottom right) corner as a mirror image to this top left corner.

I think I love it!  Whew!!!  What a relief.  Just have to sew all the pieces down, and I can call this one done, and ready it for quilting!

Monday, May 7, 2018

Piecing progress

I made 12 blocks from a pattern given to us during the 'Get-to-gather' at Quilt Emporium in Woodland Hills, CA... instead of using their civil war colors, I used something that appealed more to me, however.  The block is called 'All Roads Lead Home' and each block is 16".  I added piano key borders and mitered the corners, because I think that (or cornerstones) looks best with piano keys.

I also finished another top, including the borders this morning... no picture yet as I'm too short to take down the one above and hang the new one on the design wall...

The second quilt is made using Bonnie Hunter's Diamond Tiles block pattern, with a feline theme... fussy cut all these kitties on point to set in the tiles and chose some pawprints for the borders.   The white outer border might be a little stark, but didn't have anything else that looked remotely good with it.