Tuesday, November 29, 2011

November in Memoriam

I can't believe November's nearly gone. I've been an absolute lazy layabout! I haven't had the energy to work on anything creative...or to be honest, cleaning or dishes or laundry...poor Ian.

My very few accomplishments for November are as follows:

I sewed one curtain for our bedroom. We have two windows...

I quilted one block on my Bottled Rainbows quilt. Still 5 blocks to go.

cats

Just about the only things I finished were birthday gifts and 16 Dresden Plate blocks for Jen...and I didn't even remember to take pictures.

Karrie and I took a day off of work to see Breaking Dawn.

breaking dawn

It snowed and I got sick. I crocheted about a million dishcloths between naps on the couch.

I read The Paris Wife for bookclub.

We visited my family for Thanksgiving.

I bought some really awesome fabric that I have no idea how to use in a quilt:

etchings fabricetchings fabric
etchings fabric
etchings fabricetchings fabric
Etchings by 3 Sisters for Moda


And that, my friends, was my November. How was yours?

Thursday, October 27, 2011

A Quilty Weekend?

It's been nearly a month since I was in the sewing room for more than a few minutes. The past few weekends have been booked solid and my weeknights have been filled with errands, ballet and even going to the theater. I've been too worn out to sew. But I want to sew!

Ian is applying for jobs this weekend so aside from helping him where I can, I have no plans. Two whole days for sewing! But what to sew?

First, I'm helping my friend Jen make a freaking huge quilt for her bed. I can finish a few blocks this weekend.

I've also decided to make a quilt for my dad. I'll post more about it another time...but I picked fabric and a pattern and I'm excited to get started.

I also have three little quilts nearly finished. The Nicey Jane quilt I posted a while back needs to be bound. This one is finished and just needs to be washed and photographed:

gray and orange scrap quilt

And this one needs to be basted, quilted and bound:

ricrac

I could also work on my orange and green 9-patch:

orange green

Or my scrap quilt:

scrap

I think too many options are better than too few...I can switch projects whenever the mood strikes. I only wish it was Saturday already!

Do you have fun quilting plans for the weekend?

Monday, October 24, 2011

Wouldn't it Bee Nice?

You know I love bees, right?

bee

I've been obsessed with keeping honeybees for a few years now...but not obsessed enough to do anything about it. There's a lot of (conflicting!) information about beekeeping online...it's completely overwhelming.

I'd just about given up the idea when Ian found a short course taught through the University of Minnesota: "Beekeeping in Northern Climates". I couldn't beelieve our luck! (There's lots of puns in beekeeping, just so you know).

Last weekend, Ian and I spent two days at the Bell Museum of Natural History learning all about honeybees and beekeeping. If anyone is interested in keeping bees in northern states, I highly recommend this class. It was well worth the time and tuition. We spent two full days learning how to start and manage a colony using the U of M's very own beekeeping method.

There are so many interesting things about honeybees, my head is spinning. Did you know one colony of bees can produce 300 lbs. of honey in just one short Minnesota summer?! They're truly amazing little creatures.



Ever since the class, my head has been buzzing with inspiration. I love the idea of caring for bees, of harvesting and bottling and giving away honey (I don't like honey...I just like bees). I want to make beeswax candles and honey soap. I want to build and paint hive boxes...not boring white but beautiful aquas and greens. I want to buy a field of wildflowers and grow fruit trees, all pollinated by our very own bees. And I want to make fruit preserves and quilt and check on the bees. All day, every day.

It all makes going to my "real" job rather tiresome. Truly: I'd rather be covered in bees than go to my "real" job.



So, I want to know, are any of you beekeepers? Any Minnesota beekeepers? Do you like honey? Are you sure you don't actually think it's gross? Because I hear some people think it's gross...

Friday, October 7, 2011

Autumn in Paris

You guys! Guess what came in the mail yesterday. A mini quilt from my dear friend Jen! Can you believe this?

parisville mini quilt

It has all my favorite things...lots of white:

parisville mini quilt

tiny pieces (the 9-patches finish at 1.5"):

parisville mini quilt

Parisville (and in my favorite colorway):

parisville mini quilt

and above all: hand quilting!

parisville mini quilt

And if this wasn't enough, Jen said she's making me a year of mini quilts: one mini quilt every month. I'm pretty much the luckiest girl in the world! Actually, I'm already the luckiest girl in the world because Jen and I are great friends and pen pals...the real paper kind!

I don't have any non-blog friends who like to quilt so it's been such a joy to have someone to talk to about fabric, pretty much non-stop. And other important things, of course.

parisville mini quilt

The quilt is hanging on a random nail in my studio right now but I'll find a better home for it this weekend. It looks good on pretty much every wall...how am I going to choose?! Thanks again, Jen!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Work in Progress: Studio

Every fall I get that "going back to school" feeling. Since I'm not in school and can't get it out of my system by color coordinating my folders, notebooks and book covers...I clean the house. Well, only the fun rooms. Like my studio!

my studio (2011)

This is where I keep my stash. I just ordered some solids and a few prints that were on sale and they're supposed to arrive today. I have no idea where I'll put them. This is why I'm trying to shop only from my stash.

I keep my scraps in bins sorted by color. My painting table is tucked behind this shelf...it may or may not have lots of unfinished quilts piled on it.

Where I keep all my fabric scraps

Did you catch a glimpse of my two "helpers" in the first picture? Here is Vector. There's a chair by my sewing machine and he likes to sleep in it while I sew. He and I are the only ones in the house who like to curl up in quilts.

vector

This is Bitty Cat. Ian calls her Extra because she's the extra cat. She also goes by New Cat and Little B. I'm not really into naming animals. I tried, I really did...but as Mr. Bluefin, Mr. Redfin and Mr. Bluefin II (my childhood beta fish) can tell you...I'm just never going to be good at coming up with creative names. Little B is so tiny compared to our two boy cats...so, there you go...

bitty cat

She steals my seam ripper all the time. And she's always blurry because she does not stop moving!

There's one side of the room left to show you but there are a few spots that need to be organized first. Not that this is a very special part of the room (I prefer the side with the fabric!) but you know...it's where the sewing machine lives so you might want to see that too.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

A Work in Progress

I'm working on a new Nicey Jane quilt. It's a little bitty one this time.

nicey jane quilt top

I'm going to be sad when I run out of this fabric. Of course, actually using it in quilts has made me really happy. I've been going through my stash, reacquainting myself with the fabrics at the bottom of the stacks. I even found one fabric that's on my "to buy" list. Embarrassing! And convenient.

I've been shopping mainly from my stash and I'm excited to see how many quilts I can make without buying anything new. Of course, I've recently become obsessed with crosshatch and text prints so I'll probably pick some up soon. But that's it! Well, except for solids because I run out so quickly...and I prefer them for bindings. Can't finish a quilt without a binding! Well, you can but...I'm getting off track here...

nicey jane quilt top

I've decided that since I never seem to finish anything, I'm going to start showing "in progress" pictures. I don't normally like to show people what I'm working on...I've been this way my whole life. I remember the supreme mortification of people looking at my unfinished drawings and school projects. I only wanted people to see a perfect, finished project.

nicey jane quilt top

But you guys won't judge, right? I'd like to be more open with you, to let you into my studio more often. And besides, I don't finish enough quilts to keep this blog going properly...so hopefully you'll enjoy spying on my unfinished (and maybe never-to-be-finished) projects.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Cathedral Windows Redux

So, remember when I was obsessed with cathedral window quilts? And remember when, two days later, I became un-obsessed with them?

I've been thinking about them again, thinking about how much I love them. But then I remembered how much I hate making them. In fact, I even made a list:

1) I can't stand making the folded base pieces. I have the patience for about 1.5 before I want to quit. A quilt takes significantly more than that, I think.

2) I hate those flappy triangles. I hate them when I'm sewing the bases together, when I'm sewing the squares in, basically I just hate them altogether.

3) It bothers me when the flappy triangles don't all meet in the middle, especially when they're not even pointy!

4) I don't like that the back is all one color. My preference is to use white for my base fabric...and I don't want an all white quilt back. I'm too messy for that!

So I've been thinking about how to make a cathedral window quilt that eliminates everything I hate.

And I did.

Cathedral Window Mini Quilt

But the problem is that I'm not sure I like the new process any better. It's just a tricky block and it takes a lot of work no matter what.

Cathedral Window Mini Quilt

I made this super mini quilt as a test for a bigger mini quilt. I'm glad I did because I made quite a few mistakes. Like how I hand-quilted the whole thing only to realize I'd forgotten to put fabric in the four corners. Or how I got a knot on the back while re-quilting but didn't notice until I'd quilted about half the block? Or what about that red binding? I'm kicking myself for not going with white...but I didn't even consider white until the whole thing was finished. And check it out...someone cut her binding way too wide:

Cathedral Window Mini Quilt

Oh well...at least I learned what not to do next time. And yes, there will be a next time. I'm determined to find an enjoyable way to make these.

Until then, is there anything you love/hate about quilting? Is there a particular block, pattern or style of quilt that you love but can't stand the thought of making for yourself?

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Adieu, Dear London

"NO MINUTE GONE COMES EVER BACK AGAIN
TAKE HEED AND SEE YE NOTHING DO IN VAIN"


I read those words while standing in front of Liberty of London just three weeks ago. What a sad yet wonderful turn of phrase. How thoughtful I've been since then.

big ben

It's hard for me to admit but traveling is not something I truly enjoy. My head thinks I will love the adventure, the new sights...but my heart aches for home.

Such was the case in London. The city is loud and busy and filled to the brim with adventure. For a quiet, country mouse like me, it was overwhelming.

phone booth

Immersed in a new city, I can't seem to remember why I wanted to travel in the first place. I miss my home and my friends. I try to make the best of it, to live in the moment. Unfortunately, I often find living in the moment to be nearly impossible.

It's only once I'm home that I begin to appreciate all I saw, all that I experienced. I read a book and can imagine how a person might have felt, having stood where she once stood.

traitors gate

I see a flower garden near my house and it pales in comparison to the most beautiful wildflowers I have ever seen.

wildflowers

I eat dinner in front of the tv and remember quiet picnics with Ian in Kensington Gardens.

kensington gardens

What I never seem to realize until much later is that I always leave a piece of my heart behind. My life is better, richer, fuller for having traveled someplace new, I am better.

st pauls cathedral

I must try harder to remember that no minute gone comes ever back again. Next time I will give my heart, not just leave it behind.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Loulouthi Tiles Quilts

I love any excuse to make a quilt, as you well know. A coincidence: my very lovely neighbors are expecting their 7th baby later this month. Can you believe it took me until just one week ago to realize that I should make them a baby quilt? Um, hello! I have no idea why I didn't think of it sooner.

And since I didn't want the other kids to feel left out, I decided to make a "family" quilt to give at the same time.

I decided to make both quilts using the Loulouthi Tiles pattern created by the lovely Rachel of Stitched in Color. I just have to take a minute to tell you that I'm in love with this quilt pattern. I'm so mad I didn't think of it myself! My favorite part about quilting is the fabric and I prefer simple patterns that allow the fabric to be the star. And in my world, Rachel's pattern has it all: large squares and rectangles (great for showing off large and small prints), crisp sashing and a design that looks complex but is easy and fast to put together. It's pretty much the perfect quilt! Thanks Rachel!

For the family quilt I chose the medium Loulouthi Tiles pattern:

Loulouthi Tiles Quilt

It took a while to pick out just the right fabrics but I'm so happy with the result. I'm completely in love with this color combination! If I had enough fabric left, I'd make another quilt just like it so I could keep one for myself. I especially love the colorful sashing around the larger rectangles. Rachel's pattern calls for all the sashing to be the same color so you can have space to show off your beautiful hand quilting. But since I was planning to machine quilt everything, I wanted something a bit more dramatic.

Loulouthi Tiles Quilt

It's backed with a Valori Wells flannel that matches one of the prints from the front.

The baby quilt was also super fun to make...I've been itching to use those Farmdale apples for a long time!

Loulouthi Tiles Quilt


I decided to spice it up by using squares to create the large blocks. I had to tweak the size of the rectangles just a bit to get it to work but it wasn't too difficult.

Loulouthi Tiles Quilt

I skipped the batting for this quilt...it's my new favorite way to make baby quilts since the drape is so soft. The backing is one of Anna Maria Horner's Folksy Flannel prints.

I still can't believe I started and finished two quilts in one week. It helps that I stitched the binding on both quilts entirely by machine. This might be my new thing...I'm getting pretty good at it and it sure is fast!

I hope my neighbors like them...because if they don't, I just might ask for them back. Also, sorry for all the indoor photos...it was literally 100 degrees outside and my camera kept fogging up as soon as I stepped out the door. That and I didn't want my neighbors to see the quilts.

This will most likely be my last post before I leave for England for two weeks. I'll see you all as soon as I get back!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

London Calling!

I promised you guys some exciting news and here it is: Ian and I are heading to merry'olde England in less than two weeks!

Echino London

We bought our plane tickets months ago but I was so busy with work and then the shutdown and then all the quilting that I sort of forgot to tell you about my trip. Actually, I've sort of forgotten to even think about my trip. I'm running out of time to get everything done!

Ian and I will meet his parents and sister in London and spend the first week sightseeing and visiting friends. Ian and I are staying on for another week to see any of the sights his parents weren't interested in visiting. We might take day trips to the countryside or stay overnight in Bath. I'd love to tour the lakes, Elizabeth Bennet style...but I'm not actually sure where the lakes are and I'm not sure how we'd get there.

Echino London

Anyway, I'm off to the store to find some appropriate capris and/or skirts for my travels. It's been years since I bought anything new and sadly, my old traveling clothes don't fit anymore. I also want to make a tote bag out of the Echino London print (purchased at Pink Chalk Fabrics). I need to get going! More later!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Kaleidoscope Quilt Top

I finished my Kaleidoscope quilt top the other day:

kaleidoscope quilt top


I'm really happy with the way it turned out. I really love when a pattern emerges once all the blocks are put together...I've always wanted to make a quilt like that. Of course, in order to make one of those, I have to make all the blocks...and you all know I'm not really into making fussy blocks with seams on the bias. But for some reason, these blocks were pretty fun to make. Still, I'm happy there were only 30.

kaleidoscope quilt top

Usually I agonize over fabric placement but this time I just picked a piece from the pile, made sure it wasn't the same fabric as the piece next to it and sewed. I arranged the blocks in pretty much the same way. Maybe that's why the quilt top went together so quickly and why it was so fun to make.

kaleidoscope quilt top

I was super excited to baste the quilt but then I realized I didn't actually have any backing fabric that would match the front. I ordered some orange flannel that I think will work...I might skip the batting in this quilt but I haven't decided yet.

kaleidoscope quilt top

Thanks again to Elizabeth for putting together this awesome quilt along. It inspired me to try a block I've been wanting to make for a long time. I can't wait until my flannel gets here so I can finish this quilt!



Monday, July 11, 2011

The Name Game and a Bit of a Break

Happy Monday morning to you all. I can't believe it's been two weeks since I last posted. My birthday was actually really fun...we spent the afternoon at the King Tut exhibit at the science museum and then grilled a super fabulous dinner with friends and family. The bad news is that I was laid off on my birthday due to the Minnesota state government shutdown. I've mostly been sewing and trying not to spend money. I thought this break would increase my blogging but it had the opposite effect. I've really appreciated the time away from my work computer and haven't wanted to spend any time on my home computer.

But I'm checking in today to let you know that I've been featured on The Name Game on Cindy's blog.

The Name Game


If you ever wondered why I chose Sonnet of the Moon, now is your chance to find out. Thanks for letting me play, Cindy!

I'll be back in a day or two with a finished quilt top and some exciting news. For now it looks like I (and the other 22,000 state employees) won't be called back to work any time soon...but Ian and I are doing fine and the shutdown can't last forever. See you soon.

Monday, June 27, 2011

A Birthday Quilt

Last June I bought a full fat quarter set of Nicey Jane prints as an early birthday present for myself. This year's early birthday present is a finished (mostly Nicey Jane) quilt:

Nicey Jane Quilt


It's backed with flannel but has no batting. I wanted a lightweight summer quilt and the combination of flannel and quilting cotton is perfect. Although Ian thinks the front is wimpy (his word to describe pastels), he's excited (as exited as he gets about quilts, which is not really all that excited) to use this quilt on our bed. I usually insist on having a few quilts on the bed at all times and he's been quite annoyed with me now that it's summer. Poor Ian...I think he fears that one day he'll suffocate under a stack of quilts.

Nicey Jane Quilt

This quilt is 60"x90" and is made up of 10" (finished) squares. It's also bound entirely by machine because I wanted it done!

Nicey Jane Quilt

I'm planning to host a birthday barbecue/picnic at my house on Friday night. I can't decide if I'm sad or indifferent about turning 30. Age is just a number so perhaps I'm indifferent... and yet, my 20's were really good to me. I will miss being 20-something. But maybe I'll enjoy being 30-something. I guess I won't know until I give it a try.

Nicey Jane Quilt