Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Freedom, Beauty, Truth and Love

It's almost the new year and with it brings the promise of new things. New adventures, new friends, new goals and new accomplishments. Every year my "resolution" is to live fabulously. Each year, the definition of fabulous changes as I change...and this year is no exception.

This year I find I'm feeling quite Bohemian...

meadowsweet

To take the world as one finds it, the bad with the good, making the best of the present moment — to laugh at Fortune alike whether she be generous or unkind — to spend freely when one has money, and to hope gaily when one has none — to fleet the time carelessly, living for love and art — this is the temper and spirit of the modern Bohemian in his outward and visible aspect. It is a light and graceful philosophy, but it is the Gospel of the Moment, this exoteric phase of the Bohemian religion; and if, in some noble natures, it rises to a bold simplicity and naturalness, it may also lend its butterfly precepts to some very pretty vices and lovable faults, for in Bohemia one may find almost every sin save that of Hypocrisy. ...

meadowsweet

What, then, is it that makes this mystical empire of Bohemia unique, and what is the charm of its mental fairyland? It is this: there are no roads in all Bohemia! One must choose and find one’s own path, be one’s own self, live one’s own life.

The Romance of the Commonplace
Gelett Burgess


meadowsweet

Here's wishing you Freedom, Beauty, Truth and Love in the new year.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Adventures in literature

My dear friends! Allow me to introduce my new friend and colleague Dr. John H. Watson.

my new kindle

Even though we've only just made each other's acquaintance, we should be old chums in no time. Just think of the number of scrapes we'll get into (and hopefully out of). Capital!

my new kindle

We've already visited a town called Forks and learned how to build cathedrals and met Vincent Van Gogh. In fact, he accompanied me on my date with Edward Cullen tonight. Did you know that I met Edward on a plane to Mexico exactly one year ago today. It was love at first sight and we've been inseparable ever since.

And now Watson, Edward and I are off to the Diogenes Club to reminisce about the past year. A lot has happened and a lot is left to come. Goodnight all.

*edit*...speaking of the Diogenes Club, this is most definitely the one I'd join:

"There are many men in London, you know, who, some from shyness, some from misanthropy, have no wish for the company of their fellows. Yet they are not averse to comfortable chairs and the latest periodicals. It is for the convenience of these that the Diogenes Club was started, and it now contains the most unsociable and unclubable men in town. No member is permitted to take the least notice of any other one. Save in the Stranger's Room, no talking is, under any circumstances, allowed, and three offences, if brought to the notice of the committee, render the talker liable to expulsion. My brother was one of the founders, and I have myself found it a very soothing atmosphere."

Modify Tradition blocks, update!

I made it through the family party on Saturday and spent all of Sunday sewing (to recuperate, you know). The party was fun and it was nice to see everyone. But I was mostly excited to get back to sewing (party planning/executing takes a lot of time away from sewing).

I thought it would be prudent to work on my Modify Tradition blocks:

modify tradition blocks

And I'm so happy I did because I really love how they're turning out! I was so excited once I finished these "test" blocks that I sewed diligently for hours and hours. I don't know how Vector could sleep through such excitement and frantic sewing!

Sleepy cat

I even have an idea for the back...do you remember these green and blue log cabins?

blue and green log cabins

I've been sashing them in white and I'm almost to the point where I can sew them together. I think it would make a great "back" for this quilt...since log cabins are traditional and the colors will match the "front" very well.

My goal is to finish all the blocks for the top before I leave town on Friday. That sounds like an easy goal but I'm going to be a little distracted starting tonight...but it's a secret for now...expect the first ghost when the bell tolls one. I mean, expect a post about the surprise later tonight.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Embroidered Flannel Scarf

s17

My idea for an embroidered flannel scarf was inspired by this gray flannel remnant. It practically begged me to use running stitches to hold the layers together. This is an easy project to take along on car trips or during movies on the couch since it's all sewn by hand. If you'd like to make your own super easy, super fun embroidered scarf, click below for the tutorial.

Friday, December 18, 2009

At the last minute

Why is it that every time I say "I'm not making anything for anyone!" I end up making something for someone at the very last minute?

Instead of finishing the tutorial last night, I made scarves for Ian's parents for a holiday gift. Ian is leaving for California on Sunday and I want to send them with him. And if his parents are reading my blog right now, just know: sorry I made you scarves...I couldn't think of anything better but Ian mentioned it's been a bit chilly in Sacramento lately...and Ian didn't think you'd like my other ideas.

Anyway, I was without my camera last night so I can't even share pictures of the scarves (they turned out well, I think). Tutorial and scarf pictures will be Monday at the latest, I promise!

So, instead of projects, I'll show you some pictures of my finished tree:

tree all lit up

My three favorite things about our tree this year are:

handmade tree bow

I bought the glittery snowflake ornaments at Target. They were super cheap and I LOVE them. And the little cardinal...cute, right? And then the bow...I've never made a big bow before...it was easy and fun and I think it looks alright.

And here are some bigger snowflakes and my tree skirt:

quilted tree skirt

We're pretty much set for our party tomorrow. I'm nervous anyway...I'm not much for parties or for seeing my family in one large group. And it's at my house so it's not like I can leave when I've absorbed all the "family fun" I can stand. But it will be fine. I mean, there will be food and wine so...you know.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Grey and Pink

Instead of feeling the holiday rush, I'm feeling the holiday lethargy. I've decided to skip handmade gifts this year. So, without the "omg, how will I ever get all this done in time?" fear, I'm feeling fairly blasé about everything, including projects that I should be excited to work on now that I have the time.

Last night I worked on my Modify Tradition quilt for a while before I found this piece of flannel and got distracted:

stitching

I stitched some rows by hand while watching Brokeback Mountain. It felt like the right thing to do with my evening. If my idea turns out well, I'll post a tutorial on Friday. I'm excited because it's been forever since I've done a tutorial. And I'm using pink embroidery floss! So, you know, that's exciting too. If you're me, anyway.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Finished Tree Skirt

I can't tell you how relieved I am that this tree skirt is finished:

quilted tree skirt front

We're hosting our family holiday party next Saturday and this and the tree are the only decorating I'm planning to do. But you know how I like to wait until the last minute...I fully expected to be working on this tree skirt up until the morning of the 19th.

I used Crazy Mom Quilts tutorial but modified it just a little. My blocks are each 8.5" unfinished and I made 22 instead of 15. Next time, I'd just make 15. These log cabins took forever!

It's reversible even though I'll probably never use this side because the front took way more work which makes me feel like it should always be on display:

tree skirt back

I ended up doing all machine binding and I can say without a doubt that I like the look of hand sewing much better. It was definitely faster, though...so if I'm in a crunch, I might try it again. But if I'm not, I'm going to stick with hand sewing.

The finished size is about 40"x40" which just fits under my larger-than-I-thought-it-would-be fake white tree. We're decorating with green and red ornaments (very original, I know). It was all part of the plan, though...I wanted to use this red/green fabric for the tree skirt so red/green ornaments only made sense:

quilted tree skirt

So, how about you? Are you making any holiday decorations this year? If so, feel free to link so we can all see!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

A Snow Day!

I got snowed in yesterday. After my car got stuck in the driveway three times (despite shoveling a path for the tires) and then got stuck in the street once, I called in to work to admit my defeat.

When I was a kid, a snow day used to be the very definition of fun. Now that I have to spend my snow days shoveling the driveway, it's not quite the same.

Two good things came out of my unexpected day off, though. First, I got about a million yards of fabric ironed and folded and put away. My back and arms were so tired from shoveling that this was about all I had the strength to do.

The second thing was that I was there when the mailman dropped off my Folksy Flannel!

folksy flannel

Can you believe how warm and cozy this looks? This flannel is so soft and the colors are fantastic! I got such a great deal thanks to Jen's hint about the sale at quilthome.com (sign up for their newsletter for secret deals!) After the 25% off and the free shipping, this flannel cost less per yard than regular quilting fabric. Now I don't feel bad for breaking my "no buying fabric for quilt backs" rule. It's like I'm saving money, right?

Tonight I'm going to Ian's house for a "pizza and The Office" date night and I'm super excited. I'm so sore from shoveling that I need a break from the temptations of the studio. That fabric, it calls to me! But my quilting muscles need a break. Plus, you know, I like to hang out with Ian...so it's a win/win!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Return of the Ripple Blanket

J asked me the other day if I was still working on my ripple blanket. And can you believe that after all that obsession (and all that yarn store terror!) I'd totally forgotten about it?

ripple blanket

But now I'm excited to work on it again! I don't know when I'll have the time to pull it out of its box...maybe it can be one of my January projects? But, since I didn't want to have to wait until January to ripple stitch (and since I had to re-learn how to do the stitch anyway), I worked up some dishcloths for practice.

ripple dishcloth

I tried the original pattern the first time around and ended up with only two ripples...and you know that's just not enough for me. I decreased the number of stitches in each repeat to get more ripples per inch.

I'm making these for my mom because I already have so many beautiful dishcloths to use at my house. And I'm using up some miscellaneous yarn ends because they're fun and because my mom likes things a little crazy.

Are you guys crocheting or knitting any holiday gifts this year? This'll be it for me...I'm mostly making stuff out of fabric this time around.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Pre-Holiday Freakout!

I looked at the calendar last week and couldn't believe it was already December. And then I had a freakout over all the things I had to do before the holidays. I can't believe I do this every year. I always think the calm before the holiday storm will be, well, calm. But it never is.

The first things I crossed off my list were the remaining Modify Tradition tutorials and blocks. It feels good to be finished and I'm excited to turn my blocks into a quilt before the end of the year.

The next thing I wanted to finish was my tree skirt. I'm very close...I just need to finish the binding.

quilted tree skirt

I was planning to finish the binding by hand but now I think it might be fun to finish it all by machine. It'll give me some practice with the technique and if I don't like it, that's fine...it's just a silly tree skirt.

Also, since this is just a silly tree skirt, I'm trying a new quilting technique...loops:

quilted tree skirt

As you can see, I'm having a hard time adjusting from meander to loop. Check out the bottom right corner...that's supposed to be a loop but I did a meander.

Once I got a little more comfortable with the technique, it was really fun. It felt way more natural to make loops. Also, I forgot to put the feed dogs down again so perhaps it will be easier next time.

quilted tree skirt

It feels weird to post "in-progress" photos...the things I make are usually gifts and I can't share them until they've been gifted. But I really miss blogging and I want to update more. So I guess I have to make more things for myself so I can share them with you right away. Nice plan, right?

Friday, December 4, 2009

Folksy Flannel

Remember how I wasn't going to buy any new quilt fabric, not even for the backs? Well, I'm doing great so far. I'm about to order some Meadowsweet but that was already allowed on the list of rules I made for myself.

But you know what? I love backing my quilts in flannel. It makes them so soft and thick and warm. So, maybe, just maybe, if I happen to find some high quality, super beautiful flannel, I might buy it to back quilts instead of using my stash fabrics.

Oh...hey...what's this? It appears to be some sort of flannel fabric:



It's sort of...folksy.



Oh my...these would be perfect for quilt backs, don't you think? Almost too beautiful to be stuck on the back. Do you guys love this new Folksy Flannel or is it not really your thing? Do you like to back your quilts in flannel or not? This is important stuff to know!