Thursday, December 31, 2015

2015: A Good Year!

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2015 is almost over. I kind of can't believe it. This has been a happy year for me, a good year. I rediscovered my love of quilting, I read lots of books. I spent lots of time with friends and family, especially during our balcony parties throughout the summer.

2015 wasn't an especially memorable or exciting year but upon looking back, I realize that I've actually accomplished quite a bit, at least by my standards and especially compared to other years.

For example, I was shocked when I realized that I had finished 15 quilts this year! Before 2015, I hadn't finished a quilt since the summer of 2012!

This year I finished 10 lap/bed sized quilts and 5 baby/“balcony” sized. 8 were finished tops or nearly finished tops at the beginning of 2015 but 7 were completely new start-to-finish quilts. I gave away 10 and kept 5.

On another topic, I didn’t keep track but I think I read about 25-30 books this year. I had SO much fun reading, especially this summer on my walks to/from work. I read all kinds of books and below is a short list of my favorites (in the order that I read them):

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. I can't remember if I read this one in 2015 or late 2014 but either way, it was amazing and I highly recommend it!

All the Light We Cannot See: A Novel by Anthony Doerr. Also so amazing!!

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. This is one of my top 5 desert island books, I reread this one all the time.

A Good Year by Peter Mayle. If you want to feel like you’re vacationing in France, read any of Peter Mayle’s books. They're light and feel like an instant vacation.

The Martian by Andy Weir. A perfect science fiction read, more science than fiction and a lot of heart and humor.

November 9: A Novel by Colleen Hoover. A neat love story, totally could not put this one down.

I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson. This book has inspired me to paint again! I just took this Craftsy class and it was very good for what I'd like to try.

So, what will 2016 hold for me?

First, obviously, I'd like to start painting again. What, I don't know...but there will be painting!

Also, I'd really like to use all this quilting momentum to finish up some of my many, many wip's.

And lastly, and this will sound like a jerky kind of goal, I'd like to stop making things for people. Wait, let me explain! Usually I see something and think "oh, this person would like that!" and I drop everything and start making it and then when I realize what I've done, I have this half finished thing that I don't actually want to be working on. And then, since I've started it, I feel obligated to finish it and when I don't, I feel bad.

So, instead, I'd like to make things that inspire me and as I'm working on them, if they strike me as something someone would like, I'll just give it to that person when I'm done. I think that's the much better way to go about making things for people.

Making things shouldn't be about obligation. It should be about creativity and expressing myself and feeling proud of and satisfied by my work. And I want to remember that this year and not get distracted by projects that don't inspire me.

So, here's to 2016, a year of possibilities, a year of dreams.

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Bon Voyage!

Bon Voyage Quilt

Bon Voyage! is my last finished quilt of 2015. Since Ian and I have been together, we've taken quite a few vacations with his parents and sister. My favorites have been our trips to Italy, Switzerland and England. This summer we're planning another trip to London with a jaunt down to Paris!

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I wanted to commemorate all the wonderful times we've shared on our trips together and a quilt seemed like the perfect thing. The Granny Square blocks were really fun to make and I had a great time choosing fabrics that reminded me of our trips (and future trips). There are Buckingham Palace guards and maps of Paris, kerchief girls and keys, Eiffel Towers and lovely scrolling handwriting.

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The colors were inspired by some of my favorite places. Bright red, dusty blue/green, cream and black...this combo is definitely one I'd like to use again!

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I know I say this about every quilt but this is absolutely one of my favorites. The colors and the fabrics, the pattern and the memories work together to make this a quilt I'm very proud to have made. I definitely wanted to keep this for myself but I'm glad I gave it to Ian's parents. At least I'll be able to see it again when we take our next trip to California.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Poison Apple Cider

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I'm such a procrastinator when it comes to taking quilt pictures. I finished this quilt on October 31, 2015 but only just washed it and took pictures last week. Oh well, better late than never!

When I first started designing my Halloween quilt, I knew I wanted it to be busy and random looking with large pieces. It took me about two seconds to decide that the Sparkling Cider quilt pattern would be perfect! I'm calling this my Poison Apple Cider quilt.

I absolutely LOVE these fabrics. I had a few in my stash but most are new. I just couldn't resist the Victorian and Day of the Dead inspired fabrics that came out this year.

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As I was perusing fabrics, I saw Spellbound by Cotton + Steel and was drawn to the lovely coral in the Haunted Forest print. I decided to use coral/salmon as my accent color and I'm so happy I did. While orange/purple would have been more stereotypically Halloween, I think the salmon adds to the Victorian look I was going for.

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For the back I used a skeleton print panel that I bought specifically for this purpose. It's framed with a black and white flower print that I bought a long time ago and don't know what it is. If I had a spooky old house, I'd want this to be my wallpaper!

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This will be a couch quilt (64x80) but I couldn't resist putting it on the bed fresh from the dryer. Extra-cat approves!

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Wednesday, December 16, 2015

The Skull Sampler Quilt

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The Skull Sampler is a very special quilt made for a very dear friend. I knew Karrie for a while before she started dating Mike. Right then, right away, we knew that Mike would be in our lives forever. And over ten years later, it's still true. Where Karrie goes, so goes Mike.

Mike has been a wonderful friend. When we all go out, I never feel like the third wheel...and neither does he. He's kind and generous and there's just not enough words to express my gratitude towards him over the years.

One of our favorite things to do is to watch movies at their house. We all sit on the couch, Karrie and I side by side with feet stretched out onto the ottoman, each of us curled up in our favorite quilt. And then there's Mike on the other end, all sad with no ottoman, no quilt. Until now!

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I call this the Skull Sampler quilt. It's a lovely mix of black and red and bats and skulls. There's gingham and woodgrain and hand quilting! The back is a soft, swirly dark grey flannel.

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I know Mike will love it because he helped design it. He wanted "shapes", just like the blocks of my Modify Tradition quilt top. He also wanted a black background with red accents and skulls. I was more than happy to oblige! I mean, it's not every day you have an excuse to break out the skull fabrics.

I can't wait for our next movie night. We'll all be so warm and cozy!

Monday, November 30, 2015

November's Accomplishments + December's Goals

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You guys, I totally did it! I finished everything on my holiday to-do list. I simplified a few things and added in another gift at the last minute. I have almost everything wrapped and some gifts are packaged for mailing. I didn't wash the two quilts I finished because I'm lazy and hate doing laundry. But I'll wash them this weekend and take pictures before wrapping them up.

It feels SO good to be finished with everything. I'm definitely going to try to do this again next year. I just feel so stress-free!

So, what's on the to-do list for December? This one is easy: whatever I want!

Here's my list so far:
-Make cookies using my great grandma's cookie press
-Finish my big, huge sweater
-Decorate my tiny silver tree
-Make felted soap
-Knit a super warm cowl for my walks
-Watch the Nutcracker (in person or on tv?)
-Work on wips but only the fun ones: stars, spiderweb blocks, log cabins
-Sew a diamond stocking or something else with diamonds?
-Drink Saint Brendan's Irish Cream
-Twilight marathon
-Harry Potter marathon
-Takeout pizza and wine night

Uh oh...I can see where this is headed!

But seriously, I'm just really excited to have this month to do whatever I want. No pressure, no obligations. Just fun times working in the studio and spending time with friends and family.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Orange Sky

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It's been a quiet November. No real snow yet, just a dusting on my way in this morning.

The cats and I have been tucked away in the studio, sewing and knitting and wrapping gifts. I'm so close to meeting my goal for the month. I have a few bindings to attach, a few knitted things to block and a couple of gifts left to wrap. And that's it!

I realize that this month's goals don't make for good blog posts. I want to show off so many things but I can't yet. I'm looking forward to December when I'll be back to photographing projects as I go. Until then, have a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend (or a wonderful regular weekend) and I'll see you all in December!

Monday, November 9, 2015

Hand Quilting

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I'm making great headway on my to-do list for this month. I just might pull this off, you guys!

I decided that one of the two holiday quilts needs some hand quilting. Most of it is by machine but these shapes...what to do with these shapes?! I quilted three blocks yesterday, nine to go. I'm not very reliable when it comes to sewing after work but maybe I'll feel inspired to work on this a little each night. If not, I think I'll still have time to get it all done by the end of the month.

The second quilt is mostly bound but I ran out of red thread and had to stop to buy more.

I had a different helper in the studio this weekend. Someone moved the bread machine just close enough to the radiator for Vector to use it as a step. He's not great at jumping from the floor these days but if he gets a stairway, watch out! He is going to there!

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I am good at looking out the window!


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I am good at walking! What's this?


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Oh no, tape!


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Scary...

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

November's Goals

For the month of November, I'd like to finish ALL the holiday gifts! An admirable goal, right? Every year I try to finish up all holiday gifts in November and every year I totally FAIL! It's usually me, staying up all night for days straight the week before Christmas (sometimes even the DAY before). But not this year!

This year I'd like to enjoy December. I'd like to actually have time to do things I want to do.

I don't want to go into specifics in case certain people are reading but my goals for this month are:

Finish two quilts (both tops are already completed)
Weave one scarf, twist fringe on another scarf
Block one shawl
Decide on other gifts to purchase and buy them
Sew drawstring gift bags in various sizes
Prepare packages for mailing.

I think that's it...can that possibly be it? If I'm forgetting something, I'll come back and update the list. Or remember a week before Christmas and freak out as per usual. I'm pretty excited about this month's goals. If I can actually pull this off, it'll be the best, most relaxed December ever!

Monday, November 2, 2015

October's Accomplishments

October's Goals:
Start/Finish Halloween Sparkling Cider quilt
Weave a scarf for Ian

October's Accomplishments:
Finished my Halloween Sparkling Cider quilt (on Halloween). Better pictures to come.
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Finished Ian's scarf
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(Extra-cat helps set up the warp)


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(Extra-cat helps twist the fringe)


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Finished and blocked my Tubularity cowl only to find that the yarn was shredded in one spot and now there's a HOLE in it! I haven't fixed it yet but I managed to pick up the live stitches:
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Started and finished a pair of fingerless mitts:
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Started knitting a sweater. Right now I'm about halfway finished with the body.
Painted some monster models:
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I struggled a little with my goals this month. I didn't feel as in the mood to make a Halloween quilt as I thought I would. And weaving a scarf after such a long weaving break was a little scary. But, eventually, both things got done and had I not set them as goals, I know for sure I would have put them off. This month was definitely a success!

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Woodsmoke

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At the Lake
October 17, 2015