Friday, April 23, 2010

Spring to Finish Challenge 2010

The other day Jacquie at Tallgrass Prairie Studio extended an invitation for her readers to join a Spring to Finish Challenge 2010.  The whole goal of this challenge is to work on and/or finish some projects that have been either stewing in your brain or laying around your house.  They don't even have to be sewing projects!  The best part is picking a reward for yourself upon completion of said project. 

Lately I've just been feeling like a have a million things hanging over my head.  I'm the type of person who needs to finish a project before I start a new one.  I can hardly even concentrate on fabric for an upcoming project until I've put the other one to bed and then cleaned up the house.  So lately I've been feeling lethargic and uneasy and a little overwhelmed.  I think documenting my projects and reporting on their progress is a great way to get motivated.

From afar
Up close

1.  My "garden."  This one is time sensitive.  I used to love gardening but have increasingly have lost my fervor for the weeding, weeding, weeding.  My goal is to give my flower garden a big giant cleanout,  preen the heck out of it and then just let it go for the rest of the summer.  This project should be done first because the longer you wait... the more back-breaking and heart-breaking it gets. I just want to get this over with and then ignore for the rest of the year. Reward -- Mani/Pedi and Coldstone Creamery's Coffee Lover's Only ice cream.  I'll need it after all that dirty work! 

2.  My sewing workstation (aka my dining room).  I used to set up my cutting board on my kitchen table at night after cleaning up from dinner and then cut there, run to another room to sew, run UPSTAIRS to my bedroom to iron a seam, run back to the kitchen to cut, etc. etc.  A while ago it occurred to me that we only use the dining room table three times a year (Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas) so I could set everything up there and leave it.  I even got a little ironing board and another iron.  Due to antiquated wiring (you people with old houses will understand this one)  I can only plug my iron into the outlet behind my sewing machine.  My goal for this area is to reorganize it and get some moveable storage devices for my sewing utensils so when I sew I can grab everything I need and move seamlessly from one area to the next without leaving the station.  Reward -- Coldstone Creamery's Coffee Lover's Only ice cream.

3. The wonky star quilt.   I was taken by a brown and orange quilt I saw on someone's quilting blog last fall (sorry ... I've looked and looked and can't find it again) and I bought lots of orange and brown for a quilt.  Of course it's spring now and everyone is making gorgeous colorful and bright wonky star quilts that I'm ACHING to make but I have to finish this one first.  Even if it turns into a baby sized quilt.  Reward -- Coldstone Creamery's Coffee Lover's Only ice cream.

4.  The purse.  My niece knit me a cool edge for a patchwork purse that I also started last fall.  I would like to finish it.  Enough said.  Reward -- Coldstone Creamery's Coffee Lover's Only ice cream.

5.  Hexagon quilt.  I started the hexagon quilt a long that Jaybird (hee hee ... we call my son Jason Jaybird too) is leading on the ORBC Flickr group.  I'm all on task with that and my goal is to stay on task and not fall behind.  Reward -- Coldstone Creamery's Coffee Lover's Only ice cream. 

I'm sensing with goal #2 of not having to move when I sew I may end up with a unintended problem from all the rewards.  Hmmmm..... may need to add some exercise to my list.  Next update on these five projects will be on May 10th.  Stop back and see how it's going.  Encouragement welcomed!!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Why I quilt, embroider, sew, crochet, etc, etc. ...

Modify Tradition posed a thoughtful question in their giveaway post today.  Why do you quilt/sew/crochet/embroider, etc?  It got me thinking about why I started and why I continue.  Seems kind of pointless sometimes when I go to Target and see all the beautiful quilts you can buy for a whole lot less money than it takes to make one.

I remember my mom buying me those little embroidery kits when I was a girl.  Do you remember the ones that had a stamped piece of fabric, floss, needle and diagrams that gave the exact stitch and color for each spot?  I loved those!  I would love to buy those for my niece but I can't find them anymore. Sigh ...  Anyways, those were my favorite things to do at night while sitting on the couch and watching TV.   I have such cozy memories of being with my mom, each of us on our own end of the couch, and each working on a project. 

Flash forward years to when I'm a stay at home mom to my three boys.  My mom had given me her old sewing machine and I was mending and making curtains when I saw a magazine article on how to make a super easy patchwork quilt.  I started making quilts like crazy.  I used puffy polyester batting and sewed around three and a half sides, turned it right side out and whip stitched it closed.  I used yarn and tied them all over.  I'm a little embarrassed now when I think of how proud I was of those quilts.  I made a special one for each of my boys and some for the house and then I moved on to something else.  I didn't know anyone who made any other kind of quilts and there was no internet then so I really didn't have a way to grow in my quilt making skills. 

A while ago I was talking to my now grown up son Russell and we were reminiscing about the good old days.  He told me that his favorite childhood memory was coming home from school one day and I told him I had a surprise for him.  I made him sit on the couch and shut his eyes and then I wrapped a Buffalo Bills quilt around him.  He said that he never forgot that feeling.  I'm tearing up a little now just thinking of that (excuse me while I go dab my eyes).  I started thinking about what a great feeling it is to have a quilt.  I felt like making one for each and every one of my loved ones to try and express my love for them in a tangible way.  I started looking around the  for ideas and discovered quilting blogs.  Then I happened upon a blog called the Old Red Barn Company that was going to start a quilt-a-long for beginners.  That got me hooked on quilting but good! 

I think I'm constantly wanting to recreate that loving feeling I got when I was a girl and I embroidered next to my mom.  And I want to make my loved ones feel special, the way my son did when I wrapped that special handmade quilt around him. 

This is the quilt I made my son Jason about 15 years ago.  He loved to draw so I bought some iron transfer crayons and had him draw lots of pictures that I transferred to white blocks.

I was thinking about picking the quilt all apart and remaking it for a surprise.  Now I'd probably embroider over the pictures and properly quilt and bind it and use nice batting. 

I decided against it though.  It's the way I made it and that's the way it should be.  It's warm and the love is still in it, even though it's kinda funky and puffy.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Hope Valley Pinwheels

My Hope Valley Pinwheel quilt is complete!  I'm very happy with it and my sewing slowly and carefully experiment seemed to be successful.  As hard as it is for me to admit ... I guess taking your time is the key to a good quilt turnout.  Bummer! 

On Sunday the ORBC group is starting our next quilt-a-long.  We're making a hexagon quilt and I just bought my very first jelly roll and layer cake.  I loved this Frolic fabric and can't wait to find out how we are using it.

This fabric makes me happy!  

Best friends ....  
On a personal note:  Easter turned out to be a sad day for us.  We had to take my boyfriend's dog to the emergency clinic and have him put to sleep in the morning.  It was very sudden and unexpected and very, very sad for all of us .... including the assistant.  Her nubby tail hasn't wagged once since we came back without him.  He had a great life and lots of love in his twelve years but we sure wish he could have stayed with us a while longer.  He left a big old hole in our hearts.

Best Friend

Rest in Peace Chipper.  You were the best friend a guy could ever ask for and I'm sorry you had to leave so soon.
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