Friday, April 30, 2010

Book Biting

Ian's cat Vector likes to bite books. The more we like the book, the more he likes to tear it apart. He's even had his eye on my Kindle lately...I caught him rubbing his face on it in preparation for biting. His appetite for books was dormant over the winter but now it grows daily. He is ravenous for books!

It's a good possibility that Ian and his cats will come to live with me in a few months and I fear for my books and my Kindle.




Why am I bringing this up now? Because I just saw this tutorial and I think I found the solution to my problems. Problem the first: how to keep books safe. Problem the second: I don't have a headboard and I've been searching for neat (preferably fabric-covered) alternatives.

I'm beginning to scheme...and of course, Ian is going to argue with me about my fabric choices. I'll accuse him of being contrary on purpose and he'll insist he just doesn't love daisies or mermaids.

Amy Butler, Midwest Modern fabric Alexander Henry, Birdseed fabric Mendocino fabric full moon dots meadowsweet garden party fabric


As if that's even possible.

Half Square Triangle Block

I'm so excited to show you the first block for my Modern Sampler Quilt:

half square triangle block

You all know Rita who blogs at Red Pepper Quilts, right? I've been following Rita's quilting adventures since she started blogging and I'm constantly awed by the designs she comes up with. That's why when I first saw Rita's Half Square Triangle quilt, I knew I had to make one for myself. The problem? I really dislike piecing HST. I even dislike making HST. But Rita is the queen of the HST and if anyone can tempt me to make some, it's her.

As a result, this was one of the first blocks I added to the list when picking designs for my Modern Sampler Quilt. I used this photo to plan my layout.

For a 15.5" (unfinished block), cut the following:

3 - 3" x 3" background fabric
17 - 3.5" x 3.5" background fabric
17 - 3.5" x 3.5" focus fabrics

Pair one background fabric with one focus fabric and make 34 Half Square Triangles. You'll only need 33 so set one aside for an improv block or something. Trim them all to 3".

half square triangle block

Arrange, sew and admire:

half square triangle block


I can already tell I'm on the right track with this project. I still dislike HST and this one block was just about all I could handle. But it's done and I love it and it makes me so happy! Certainly much happier than a half finished HST quilt top.

If you make a block inspired by Rita's, be sure to put it in her flickr pool so we can all see!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Modern Sampler Quilt: The Plan

When I first started dreaming of this quilt, I knew it would have to be green and grey. Not because I wanted it to be just like the inspiration quilt but because I've been obsessing over grey and green lately. It's everywhere and I've officially caught the fever.

green and grey scraps

I was originally planning to make 12 blocks but it quickly became apparent that I had more than 12 favorite quilts. To solve this little problem, I've decided to make a double sided quilt for a total of 24 blocks. The blocks will all vary in size but I'll sash them up to 20.5" (unfinished). 60" x 80" is my favorite size for quilts so this will work out perfectly.

I've decided on Kona medium grey and green for the front and was planning to use Kona coal and green on the back. But now I'm thinking coal with magenta and orange blocks. Nice, right?

So, we'll see what I feel like when I get that far. I'll post the first block tomorrow!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Modern Sampler Quilt

It's such an exciting time to be a quilter! Even though I don't actually finish many quilts, I still pour over blogs and flickr and dream about the quilts I'd make if I had the time. Sometimes I wonder: what if I had never started quilting? What if I never found this world, this beautiful and lively quilting community?

I've met so many wonderful people and found such inspiration here. I know it's played a huge part in who I am at this moment in time. It's a world where I feel accepted and inspired, a world that fills my head with bright colors and possibility. And without that, I'd feel lost.

scrappy log cabin blocks

I saw this modern sampler quilt the other day and it immediately captured my heart. And the more I thought about it (and I thought about it a lot), the more I wanted to do something similar.

My plan is to adapt a ton of my very favorite "modern" quilts (or general styles) into blocks. It will be like a yearbook for this moment in quilting history. I'll look at it and remember this wonderful, bright, exciting time in my life. I'll remember all the quilters who inspired me every day with their modern quilting and hard work. And best of all, I'll get to try out every quilt I want to make without having to finish a few dozen quilts...which we all know is never going to happen.

scrappy log cabin blocks

I'll be posting my progress and any notes I have about each block. I'll link to the designers of the original quilts and any tutorials they have for constructing the blocks. It should be fun and I secretly hope you'll find yourself so inspired that you'll just have to make your own version. If not, I hope you'll at least enjoy looking at all of my sweet blocks.

I'll write more on this soon and I'll have my first block to show you later this week!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Petal Power

Today feels particularly magnificent, wouldn't you agree? I'm feeling so optimistic, so light! I think it has something to do with the fact that Spring is 100% here. And for Minnesota, that's really saying something! My backyard smells like crab-apple blossoms.

Crab Apple Blossoms

And soon it'll smell like lilacs.

Lilacs

The thing about these lilacs is that they haven't bloomed in years. The chlorine water from our above ground swimming pool all but ruined these beautiful bushes. Thankfully the pool is gone and slowly but surely, the lilacs are coming back. Nature...how cool is that?

Lilacs

Another reason I'm so happy is that we're one block shy of finishing Round 2 over at Modify Tradition. These blocks and projects have taken up so much of my time and creativity and I'm so happy to get back to doing my own projects. Not that Round 2 didn't teach me a thing or two, especially the projects. Not only did I need to find inspiration, design and make everything myself, I had to pick coordinating fabrics (this took so long!) and write tutorials that were (hopefully) clear and easy to follow. And most of them were things I'd never made before!

Crab Apple Blossoms

I'm a better and more confident designer and crafter for all that work...and it also made me realize that I don't want to make bags and aprons for a living. No offence, bags and aprons...you know I love you, it's just that I'm not IN love with you. You can understand that, right?

Crab Apple Blossoms

I have one last Mod project to finish (for this coming Tuesday) and I should have it done tonight or early tomorrow morning. And what sweet relief that will be!

Remember when I said I had to finish all those things by the end of April? Well, that's just not going to happen. And for the first time in pretty much ever, that's ok. Because they were my own deadlines and there's no point stressing out over things that need not be stressful. I've made very good progress and I'm pleased with what I've accomplished so far. And that's what matters to me right now.

I know I'll get the urge to finish things up again soon but for now I'm just going to enjoy the inspiring feeling of possibility...no to-do lists, no deadlines. Just projects as light and airy as flower petals and timelines as insubstantial as a softly scented breeze.

Crab Apple Blossoms

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Vintage Finds

I found this shirt in a bag from my parent's attic:

buttons

And while it was too small and had a hole in a conspicuous place, I just loved the buttons across the shoulder. I'm inspired to sew buttons on all my shirts!

I mean, there are plenty of places where buttons would look nice. On the shoulder, of course, but also at the cuff or near the bottom of the side seam. Or down the opening of a V-neck! I'm definitely all about the buttons now.

Also, I've been toying with the idea of doing some wardrobe refashioning for a while now. I'm sorting through the bags of attic clothes and keeping the stuff I can spruce up (or use for patterns or cut up to make other things).

patch

I also went thrifting a while back and found some skirts that need a little size adjustment (up, not down, unfortunately). Hopefully I'll have some fun things ready to wear by the fall.

Are any of you into wardrobe refashioning?

Monday, April 19, 2010

Making Limoncello: Step 1

Ian and I are making a new batch of Limoncello and thought you might want to make one too. Limoncello is an Italian lemon liqueur traditionally made from the zest of Sorrento lemons. It's best served cold and since it's mostly alcohol, it can be stored in the freezer so it's always ready to enjoy.

limoncello


Limoncello takes from 40 to 80 days to prepare so if you want to have some ready by July, you should start a batch now. Don't let the long time frame fool you...you have fairly little work to do along the way. And what work there is will be well worth it. Served straight from the freezer, limoncello is a light and refreshing treat on a hot summer evening.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Hand Quilting

You know that I don't like to embroider, right? Well, working on tomorrow's Mod project reminded me that I do have a certain fondness for hand quilting. While the two seem similar, hand quilting is both decorative and useful which gives me more satisfaction than embroidery alone. I mean, just look at these stitches looking all cute while working hard to keep things together:

hand quilting

I used to be the sort of person who liked the look of fussy little stitches, all neat and proper. But now I can't stand the thought. Now I want big stitches with fat thread.

I'm sure you've all seen Anna Maria Horner's beautiful stitches. Ever since I saw this whole-cloth quilt she made years ago, I've been aching to try it for myself.

Looking at these textured stitches gives me the "back to nature" feeling I so desperately crave. I'm sure Ma Ingalls' stitches were always tiny and perfect but to me, proper stitches feel out of place in the wilderness.

In just the last week I've decided that if I hand quilt anything, it's going to have to be a zig zag quilt. Which is lucky because I started one years ago:

Freshcut zig-zag quilt top

And maybe I'll take the time to hand quilt it this summer. That sounds like a good idea, right? Who else is planning to hand quilt something this summer?

Thursday, April 8, 2010

April Projects

I was surprised to find that today is April 8. I'm not exactly sure how it got to be so late in the month...possibly I just lost track of time because I'm living April to the MAX! There's no time to acknowledge the date, I'm far too busy!

I've been making to-do lists...filling out a calendar, actually. Each day has a few manageable tasks that, at the end of the month, add up to a lot of work. I try not to be overwhelmed...one day at a time seems to help. But really, before the end of April I need to finish three Modify Tradition projects and two full sized quilts. In addition to that, I want to finish two small quilts and 57 hexagons.

sneak peek

In planning it all out on the calendar, I know I'll have to work like crazy to finish everything. And instead of making me feel overwhelmed, I find that all these "obligations" are interesting and satisfying and just plain fun. There's nothing I'm dreading working on and that makes everything manageable, keeps my panicking to a minimum.

mini paintbox quilt


May will include organizing, giving stuff away, finishing my Modify Tradition quilt from Round 1 (shame on me!) and making something from this little Honey Bun that Jen sent me:

verna honey bun

So maybe May will be a bit un-fun...I mean, I'm sure I'm going to have to mow the lawn at some point...but I'm not worried about May yet. I'm enjoying getting through April first.

What about you? What are your April goals?

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Quilt Market, Spring 2010

Are any of you going to Quilt Market this spring? As in, next month? In the Twin Cities?

Because if you are, I'm going to be so jealous. Because, you see, I live in the Twin Cities and I can't go because it's not open to the public. I can stand outside the convention center with my nose pressed against the glass and no one will let me in. So sad!

And very unfair because I'm a quiet sort of person who wouldn't be in anyone's way at all. And I'm good at lifting and carrying stuff so, you know, I'd be useful to anyone who needed help.

Anyway, let me know if you'll be in town. It would be nice to meet you, my bloggy friends, if only in the few minutes you have free between checking out sweet booths and chatting with awesome designers. sigh...

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

A Good Day

Sometimes it's nice to get away. This past weekend, Ian and I met my family up at the cabin. All I brought was my Kindle...no sewing of any kind. Scandalous!

cabin6

Ian and I spent a lot of time exploring the woods. He was doing research for future foraging projects. I was looking at all the neat moss (or lichen maybe?)

cabin3

cabin5

And bark.

cabin8

We made archaeological discoveries.

cabin4

And we shot bows and arrows.

cabin1

And used the internet by the campfire.

cabin10

It amazes me how much things change and how much they stay the same. I'm looking forward to more visits to the cabin in the summer. I feel like I've been away from my other home for far too long.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Bronte Along: Emotion

Sometimes when I read classics, I sort of forget that the characters are supposed to be real people. The life of an 1800's woman is so different from mine that, even though I've experienced it through many books, I still don't know, firsthand, what it's like. And that makes the characters feel less real to me.

The amazing thing about Jane Eyre is that I do feel like the characters are real, that their emotional reactions to situations mirror my own.

jane eyre

I feel that Austen is a great observer of society and, as such, I feel like I'm observing her characters. But Bronte! I feel that Bronte is writing from experience, not mere observation...and that draws me in, makes me feel as if I live in her world.

jane eyre

Perhaps I'm being unfair. Perhaps I should not have compared Bronte to Austen in the first place. After all, in 40 years, established writing styles and social mannerisms might have changed a great deal.

And I'm not going to say that I prefer one to the other. So far I like them both. Which is nice...because sometimes I like to read outside the proper, superficial drawing rooms of the world according to Austen. Of course sometimes those non-Austen books are tolerable; but not handsome enough to tempt me.