Thursday, December 30, 2010

In the year 2011

In case you didn't already know, I have an ongoing resolution to live fabulously!

I usually avoid setting goals or defining what I mean by "fabulous" but this year I feel compelled to focus my efforts just a teensy bit. In the broadest sense, I'd really love to spend more time creating, reading, nurturing relationships and getting healthy.

walking at night

The first is easy because it's what I want to do almost all the time. You haven't seen them yet (so you might not believe me) but I have half a dozen quilt tops finished. They're hanging in the "closet of no obligations" right this very minute! With the hard part behind me, I feel confident in my ability to complete at least one quilt a month for the next year. How sweet would that be?

walking at night

Reading and relationships will go hand in hand as my friend Karrie, her mom Janet and I are starting a monthly dinner/book club. Up first is Freedom by Jonathan Franzen.

Karrie and I are also planning more fancy French dinners and Ian and I are thinking about meeting up with his parents in London this summer. I'm excited for all the adventures to start!

walking at night

Aside from a brief period in my early 20's, my health has always been my lowest priority. This year, though, there just might be a light on the horizon. There's a good chance that our old ballroom dance teacher will start giving lessons again. He just finished renovating his house to include a ballroom so that would be awesome!

In other dancing news, I've decided to take beginner ballet lessons for adults at a dance studio in Minneapolis. I've never danced ballet before so it will be a new and challenging experience. The adult classes are not competitive and many people go simply for the exercise. I'm hoping to increase my flexibility and strength. Added bonus would include grace and poise like elegant silver-screen actress or similar. Not to mention the eventual dancing in pink satin pointe shoes...well, a girl can dream anyway.

My first class will be January 6th! Added bonus: Karrie has volunteered to go with me, at least for the first class to see how we like it. I desperately hope I like it because it just doesn't feel like exercise when you're dancing.

walking at night

I'm fairly certain I won't have anything to blog about until after the new year. Ian and I are busy preparing for our Lord of the Rings movie marathon this weekend. We already have breakfast and second breakfast planned but we're stuck on elevensies.

Anyway, I hope you all have a fun, cozy and safe weekend. I'll see you next year!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Finished Table Runner!

I'm sure you'll all be happy to hear that I finished the table runner on Thursday night...before midnight even!

wonky star table runner

I know I said these stars took a long time...but now that I think about it, I'm not sure they actually did. I barely measured anything, I didn't use pins and I didn't worry if my seams lined up or not. If I'd gone with any other sort of block, one that required careful cutting and measuring and pressing, I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have finished on time.

wonky star table runner

And, since this project was fun and not especially stressful, I actually feel like making more wonky stars, this time in fabrics that are more "me". Because they're just so freaking cute! And I hate pinning seams.

Since I was running out of time, I decided to bind this entirely by machine. I don't like how the stitching is visible on the front but maybe it'll disappear once it's washed and dried?

wonky star table runner

Or maybe next time I'll put the binding on "backwards" because the stitching on the back actually looks pretty neat.

wonky star table runner

Of course, none of that really mattered because my mom chose to display the "back" of the table runner. Sigh...all those stars...

wonky star table runner

It finished at 13" x 60" and I gave loopy quilting another try. I can't believe I'm actually getting better at free motion quilting. I thought it'd never happen!

wonky star table runner

Anyway, this is my last finish for 2010. I have big quilting plans for 2011 so stay tuned!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Stars

I finished the top for the table runner last night at midnight...I only made nine stars but they each took forever!

wonky stars table runner

Tonight will be all about quilting and binding. And then gift wrapping. And making a pizza for dinner. And a little packing for the weekend up north.

wonky stars table runner

It's going to be tight but I think I can get everything done in the next 18 hours. And if I don't, I'm not really going to fret about it. This weekend is all about relaxing and having fun with my family. Hopefully there will also be cookies.

wonky stars table runner

Hope you all have a fantastic and relaxing weekend!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Snow Again!

So, due to last night's snowstorm, I had just enough time to shovel the driveway, eat dinner and make one star for my mom's table runner. Not a great start, to be sure.

Fortunately, I don't have anything planned for tonight besides eating yummy food and sewing.

Also, check out this sweet star table runner. It just popped up on flickr today and Dan's runner is pretty much exactly what I had in mind yesterday. If the snow holds off for two more days, I'll just make it.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Last Minute Gifts

I tried to convince my parents that we shouldn't exchange gifts this year. We're not really a big gift sort of family so I thought no one would mind. But, it seems that my parents already had ideas for "little" gifts so that's what we're doing.

I finally (like just a minute ago) came up with an idea for something to make for my mom. Something sort of useful but mostly decorative. Something to go with the holiday themed cloth napkins I made last year but forgot to give her.

I have four evenings to make a table runner with these twinkly perfections as my inspiration:



1. RBQB: Marissa 1, 2. wonky star - for the fun of it, 3. DSCN0632, 4. Twinkly Stars Front

I should be able to finish it since my only pre-holiday plans include a night at the "ballet" and a trip to Chipotle to eat yummy burritos pick up gift cards.

Anyway, I probably won't have time to post pictures until next week...so if I don't see you before then, have a wonderful holiday (or non-holiday) weekend!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Snow Day!

Ian and I spent the entire weekend snowed in. Saturday was so much fun! I sewed all day while listening to The Count of Monte Cristo on my computer and the blustery wind outside the windows.

When the snow stopped on Sunday, we had 17 inches to shovel in order to get my car out of the garage. We don't own a snow-blower nor do I plan on buying one. I'm not mechanically inclined.



It was still windy and snow was flying in our faces. It took two and a half hours but we did it!



Ian is from California but he shoveled with great vigor.



He said his beard kept his face warm but I remain suspicious.



Afterwards I had some hot chocolate and took a nap on the couch. A quilt, a cat and Mythbusters...it was a nice weekend all around. I hope your weekend was cozy and warm!

Monday, November 22, 2010

More Fun Mail!

Check out what else I got in the mail:

mug rug

Mug rugs from Jen! Can you believe the cuteness of these trees? And that perfectly matching mug? I use both in my studio every day.

She also sent a sweet vintage sheet mug rug that I meant to take a picture of but then it snowed and everything is wet and I haven't been able to take pictures outside. Stupid Minnesota. You can see it here, though. Check out that orange binding! Isn't it perfection! Thanks again Jen!

Friday, November 19, 2010

OMG...Owls!

Look what I got in the mail:

owl hat

It's the cutest hat with the cutest owls knit by the cutest girl! Do you know I haven't worn a hat since I was five? I was a serious girl with a serious objection to hats. My parents thought I'd come around after a few icy winter days but 24 years came and went with nary a hat in sight.

Then I turned 29 and just as suddenly, I decided that hats were a good idea. At about the same time, J asked me if she could knit something special for me.

Fate? I think so.

owl hat

I'm afraid my "I live in the midwest where it gets dark at 5pm" photos do not do this hat justice. I simply adore it! Thanks J!

Also, in case you're interested, J says this is a mash-up of two patterns: "Who" and "Odessa". Check out J's notes on Ravelry.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Um...No

I bought an "It's a Hoot" charm pack the other day and couldn't wait to start making a quilt. I was especially pleased with the colors...the combination was so perfect! Check out these beauties to see what I mean. I put them up on the design wall, tried it without the yellow prints and fell in love.

its a hoot charm squares

I thought about it for a while, picked out some coordinating solids and decided to make my favorite style block:

its a hoot blocks

Um...no.

This is just not working for me. I don't know why...maybe I don't like the dark blue?...but mostly I'm just not feeling this block with these fabrics. I was annoyed at first but only because I really wanted it to work. And maybe I could make it work but I don't feel obligated to keep trying.

To me, quilting without obligation means knowing when "enough is enough". So, back to the ol' drawing board...my favorite part!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Quilting With Obligation: Love

My mom is the best. She's always positive and supportive. She actually cares about people's problems and cries when they cry. She takes care of people when they're sick and she's never crabby. My mom and I are so different...I wish I could be like her but I'm just not. She's the better woman and she makes me want to be better, nicer and more thoughtful of other people's feelings.

I love my mom...and that's the only thing that got me through making this quilt:

rainbow quilt


It's flannel, it's rainbow, it's huge...and it's going on their bed. It's backed with, of course, penguins:

rainbow quilt back

And it's just what my mom has always wanted.

I made it because I love my mom. It's most definitely NOT a quilt I'd ever make otherwise...which is why it took me four years to finish. I'm not a very good daughter. But I did spend two of my vacation days working on it...that's right, four years of procrastination and it only took two days to finish. *Sigh*

rainbow quilt

Quilting with obligation still super sucks...but it's a little easier when it's for someone you love.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Blogger's Quilt Festival, Fall 2010

I'm a little late to the Blogger's Quilt Festival this year but I hope you enjoy my entry all the same.

Amy's Creative Side - Blogger's Quilt Festival


A few months ago I found out my friend was expecting a baby. I worried about what I would make for them...obviously it would be a quilt but what kind of quilt? What fabric? Then a shipment of Castle Peeps landed on my doorstep and it all fell into place.

Castle Peeps Quilt


Stacy and I met at the Minnesota Renaissance Festival years ago and we both share a passion for ye' olden days.

Castle Peeps Quilt


Stacy loves horses.

Castle Peeps Quilt

The nursery would be green and brown.

Castle Peeps Quilt

I love improvisational and slightly wonky log cabins.

Castle Peeps Quilt

Making this quilt was a dream from start to finish. I enjoyed every second of its construction, something I've never been able to say about a quilt before. Everything went together perfectly, the improvisational front and back turned out exactly how I envisioned them...even naming the quilt was easy.

It's called "Couchant on a Field Vert". Do you remember when Springfield Elementary had a "Medieval Faiyieyre"? Millhouse's coat of arms was a Spider-Man couchant on a field vert. Couchant means lying down and Field Vert is a green background.

Just think of a baby couchant on this quilt...sweet, right?

Anyway, thanks for stopping by and if you haven't already, please check out the rest of the amazing quilts up for display at the Blogger's Quilt Festival. And thanks to Amy for hosting it again this year!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

The Great Pumpkin

Each year, the Great Pumpkin rises out of the pumpkin patch that he thinks is the most sincere. He's gotta pick this one. He's got to. I don't see how a pumpkin patch can be more sincere than this one. You can look around and there's not a sign of hypocrisy. Nothing but sincerity as far as the eye can see.

pumpkins

Happy Halloween everyone!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The Blustery Day

It's blustery outside. Our fence fell over and it even snowed for a few minutes. Starting tomorrow I'll be on vacation from work and I'm excited to spend the next five days up in my cozy studio. No special plans, just me and my sewing machine and my pajamas. Ian will be there too but he'll be busy planning lectures and reading philosophy essays bringing me coffee. A nice, quiet five days...no obligations.

Except the fence...I suppose my neighbor will want me to do something about that.

morning glory

Since today is so dark, I'd like to show you something bright and pretty. I planted some fancy morning glories this spring. Somebody nibbled the stems of most of the plants, killing the vines above. But the few that managed to bloom were perfection.

morning glory

I'll be back after my vacation with (hopefully) lots of cool stuff to show you. Have a great weekend and a Happy Halloween!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

In Progress

It's been two months since I discovered minimalism. It's been a hard two months for me and also the best two months of my life. I no longer impulse buy things. I no longer waste time on projects that aren't important to me. I have actual plans for the future...at least the beginnings of plans. I've spent hours upon hours getting rid of stuff that was weighing me down.

Now that I have more space (both mentally and physically), I feel creativity rushing in to fill the void.

The reason it's been so quiet over here is that I'm I'm trying my hardest to completely clear out the studio before harnessing this new creativity. I'm talking: nothing on the floor, rulers hanging in their places, all fabric folded and stacked, everything else on shelves and in containers. I'm not buying more shelves or containers so I'm limited as to what I can keep. It's exciting and I can't wait to show you when it's done.

Until then, here's a sneak peek of what I've been working on when there's a break in the cleaning action. I have big plans for this little patchwork.

farmdale patchwork

More soon, I promise!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

To the Max, Now and Always

First of all, thank you for all for the nice comments on my newest quilt. I really do appreciate having you all here. I also wanted to thank everyone who noticed I've been absent from my blog lately. Between Ian moving in and working on the baby quilt, I've had a couple of other big projects taking up my time.

First, I've been refinishing the bedroom floor. I mean it guys...actual hard labor was going on at my house! This is the floor before:

floor refinishing project

It was covered with stripey carpet, then double sided tape (that stuck to the floor), then paint from when my brother painted this room years ago, then miscellaneous stains and burns (my brother again), then old varnish and (finally) pretty wood.

floor refinishing project

I sanded and sanded and sanded. I used a tiny electric sander but next time I would do it all by hand. I really don't like machines and the delightful swoosh of the sandpaper was lost in all that noise!

I decided the room needed an accent wall to give it some character. The best part was going to the store and just picking whichever color I liked the best. Impulse paint buying sounds like a bad idea but to me it's really not.

floor refinishing project

Then I sanded some more and finally came the varnishing. Four coats later and the room is finished!

floor refinishing project

I can honestly tell you that this was the biggest project I've ever finished. I sanded or painted or varnished nearly every day for a month and now that it's finished, it feels wonderful! I'm adding "floor refinishing" to the long list of things I'm awesome at.

The final thing that has kept me too busy for sewing is my discovery of minimalism. It hit me like a punch in the gut and I've been so excited ever since. I first discovered that people were living with only 100 things via Lydia's blog and I'm so happy I did!

I probably haven't talked about it much here but I desperately crave simplicity and clarity in my life. I've wanted to live like Ma Ingalls for as long as I can remember. Just me and my wits and my two hands and my little log cabin. The sweet simplicity is intoxicating! Plus, Ma quilted so it's a match made in heaven.

I've decided that it's time to live without distractions, to create without pressure and to focus on the important. I'm ecstatic to get rid of the weight of debt, of stuff, of waste (both money and time), of busy-work and of a life I wasn't really living TO THE MAX!

I started a new blog so if you're interested in minimalism or my adventures therein, please stop by. If not, I'll still be blogging my creative endeavors here with as much awesomeness as you've come to expect. And humor...you guys do know that I say everything with extreme truthfulness but also with lighthearted humor meant to make you think I'm not as full of myself as I really am...right? You guys?

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Couchant on a Field Vert

Alright, here it is...my most favoritest quilt I've ever made:

Castle Peeps Quilt

It measures approximately 4'x5' and is reversible:

Castle Peeps Quilt

I love it so much that I can't find the words to describe how I feel. I can tell you that I had the most fun working on this quilt. Usually I hate piecing quilts (an unfortunate thing for a quilter to hate, I know) but I truly enjoyed every second of every step.

Castle Peeps Quilt

I'm really happy with how the front turned out. You all know how much I love improvisational log cabins! Expect more blocks like this soon.

The back was a very last minute design and could have gone horribly wrong. I'd planned to keep it simple so as to actually finish the quilt in time for the baby shower. But I wanted to use more Castle Peeps in the quilt so I just started making squares. It took me an entire day to piece and I nearly ran out of green fabric.

Castle Peeps Quilt

But I was watching Lord of the Rings and if a hobbit can walk all the way to Mordor, there was no way I was NOT finishing that back!

One of the reasons I had such a fun time making this quilt is because of the fabric. My most favorite greens and browns paired with these castles...

Castle Peeps Quilt

...and these peeps!

Castle Peeps Quilt

I die of cuteness! Also, aside from running out of thread at 8:45 pm and having to run to the store first thing in the morning to get more, the quilting was pretty much the best ever. I think I'm finally getting a handle on this free motion thing. My stitches are hardly ever too long but they are still often too short. Too sort is better than too long, though. I've also stopped getting weird fingers and can now sew a very curvy meander. The quilting is white on the front and light green on the back.

Castle Peeps Quilt

Here's my favorite block. I love those peasants!

Castle Peeps Quilt

And check out how crinkly it got after a trip through the washer and dryer.

Castle Peeps Quilt

Ian was concerned that no amount of appreciation from the recipient would be enough to make me happy, given that this is my favorite quilt of all time. But as much as I wanted to keep it for myself, it was made especially for Stacy and her baby, made with as much love as I could pour into it...I know that giving it away was the right thing to do.

Castle Peeps Quilt

Plus, stealing quilts from babies is a jerky thing to do, I'm sure.

*Update* I just remembered that I named this quilt while I was making the back. It's called "Couchant on a Field Vert". Do you remember when Springfield Elementary had a "Medieval Faiyieyre"? Millhouse's coat of arms is a Spider-Man couchant on a field vert. Couchant means lying down and Field Vert is a green background. I'm pretty sure a baby couchant on this quilt will be pretty sweet!