Monday, September 21, 2009

Over the Tops - First Update

These last couple of weeks have been much busier than I ever expected, but in spite of that I've been able to make some progress on a couple of my challenge projects.

To complicate things, I badly cut my left index finger on Saturday, while preparing for our Football and Food Fest day yesterday, rendering it pretty much useless for at least the next several days. Typing while watching the keys and substituting fingers REALLY slows one down when one is used to not looking at all! This was supposed to be a decidedly less busy week, but I'm now babysitting 3 afternoons and Rachel's algebra is taking us a couple of hours a day...add that to a gimpy left hand and I won't get nearly as much accomplished as I'd hoped, then again, just not having to leave the house except to grocery shop sounds pretty darn good in and of itself.

While the Purple Paper Pieced quilt isn't on my challenge list, I still want it to be finished before putting anything else in the hoop. I was on a roll until I hit the outer border, which is more tedious to quilt than I expected. I'm still going to quilt at least a little bit on it each day and will get back to it full force when my finger is more useful, for now having to do everything altering the position of my hand is really slowing me down.

I've spent a fair amount of time on two of the projects. The first is the Posy and Celtic quilt (which probably needs a new name, while the applique is done in the way celtic applique is done, it turns out that none of the designs are really celtic style designs.) I finished sewing the second side down to all the pieces in the sashing. I was still stumped as to what to do in the outer border.

I thought about and discarded several ideas. I felt like it needed some kind of braid in that outer border to "complete" the sashing braid. Just the braid didn't seem like enough, though. I finally drew out a design and laid it along the edge.

I had planned to put the braid in closer and then a vine and posy border outside of that. When I first planned this quilt, the outer border was to be a vine and posy border, but as I worked on the quilt, that idea changed. I laid this paper pattern up next to the top and it didn't seem to work. The braid alone wasn't enough, the vine seemed superfluous when on the outside.

In moving the top and border pattern around, one time it ended up with the vine border inside and the braid border outside. That was it! It looked complete with that braided border on the outside. I added the border strip and marked it all, and started to sew on the vine.

The other project that got a lot of attention is Radiating Rainbows. I cut 13 sets of blocks, and set up my applique box with all the thread needed, spare needles and a pair of scissors. If I need a takealong project, I can just pick up this box and go.

Each baggie has all the pieces to make 4 blocks as there are 4 of each color combination. This should keep me going for a while and once they are done I can lay them out and see what combinations are needed to balance out the colors in this top. Here is a finished block.

And of course, no post is complete without a Ruthie picture. Drawing is SO exhausting!

So now it's time to get to the quilting. Laundry is going, algebra is done, a bit of kitchen cleaning and picking up will fill in the times when I need to get up and move around a bit. Hopefully I'll et more sewing done than it seemed I would first thing this morning!

Happy Quilting!


Tuesday, September 8, 2009

"Over the Tops"....a quilting challenge

I've been able to think of little else but my quilting challenge since my last post and have spent much of that time planning it out.

I decided that it needed several facets. Part of the challenge is the amount of projects I'd like to see completed by the end. My official start date is today, September 8, 2009, and the official ending date is December 31, 2010.

I guess the easiest way to do this is to just list off the projects and include any "why they are included" information in their description. The projects aren't listed in any particular order, and won't be completed in any particular order.

1. This is a very old project. Started for my husband's 40th birthday, this got side-lined for many different reasons. I started thinking about it again when two different things happened. The first was that I found the poem I wrote to go on the back of the quilt. The other was my husband's innocent "you don't have a need for an overhead projector, do you?" Many times over the years, I had wished I had one, when I had a pattern that needed to be enlarged. I told him that most definitely yes, I could use one and he's watching out for one (he works at the local high school and they often throw out equipment when it's been replaced with something better, even if it's still in working order.) This is a hand pieced project, it's a castle with a moat and surrounding grounds. Hanging out one of the "windows" will be the damsel (me) and coming up on a white horse will be a knight in armor (my dh). The plan will be to get this top done, quilted, and bound.

2. Posies and Celtic Quilt.
This is one that I really didn't want to end up as a "UFO." I need to finish the applique in the sashings (this is nearly finished), design and add the borders, and quilt it.

3. This project has two pieces. It's a roman shade and cornice cover. The top of the cornice cover is done, it needs to be quilted.
The shade has these same blocks, in a similar configuration but offset, hard to explain, but you'll see as I go! The individual blocks are all finished, the top needs to be assembled and quilted and then I have to learn how to string it and hang it so it is a working shade.

4. Another roman shade and cornice cover, this one is for our bedroom. The center pattern has been drawn but that is all that is done on this one so far.
I need to finish designing the shade itself (it needs a vine up the sides or something) and the cornice cover, applique them and quilt them, along with hanging them. This is one of the scarier things on my list.

5. I'm really feeling the need to quilt some of the tops that I've made that haven't had a particular reason for their creation.
Even though this top was finished just recently, the blocks were several years in the making. I'm really looking forward to this quilt, and it will be the first in the hoop once Debbie's Christmas quilt is finished.

6. Another I'm feeling the need to finish I call Oriental Roads. This is my version of Bren's Pink and Brown.
We made several tops one year where we used the same pattern, with our fabrics of choice. I couldn't figure out how to quilt this one, but an idea came to me and now I'm ready to get this one finished.

7. Drunkard's Path. This project has no real purpose but to force me to learn to use my curved piecing foot. A few years ago I spent $30 to get this little doodad, but never really took the time to get proficient with it. I've wanted to be able to do patterns with curves for a long time, now is the time to learn. This will probably be set in the traditional way, and I've not made any plans for it, yet, other than it will exist.

8. This is probably the most daunting of the projects for me. It will be called Radiating Rainbows. I haven't hand pieced in a long time and this one will have a lot of small pieces that will need to be carefully pieced. It will be made from Marti Mitchell's templates and will have 110 six inch hand pieced blocks.

The blocks will be 1/4 of a sunburst block, so 1/4 of a circle and will be set to radiate out from the center and then frame the outer edge. I'll be using the fabric I got for my birthday, to which I added a pink and a purple.

I've been looking at this pretty basket full of fabric for a few weeks now, and part of me hates to cut into it...part of me can't wait.

So there it is. Eight projects officially in my challenge, though I know that I also have to finish the purple quilt, quilt Debbie's quilt, make a few other small Christmas gifts, and of course there will be at least one Christmas gift quilt for next year and possibly a wedding quilt. Yikes.

For now, I'm focusing on what's in front of me. The purple one is a big priority, as nothing else will go into the hoop until it's finished. I'm not quite sure how I'll "schedule" the others, at first I'll be picking what I feel like doing each day. At some point, I'll likely settle into a couple at a time to focus on.

It's already late today and after a busy weekend and a much busier day today than I had planned, I still have dishes to do. Once they are done, though, I will have actually accomplished just about everything I needed to in order to make tomorrow a mostly sewing day. I'm looking forward to spending some time on at least a couple of these projects!

Happy Quilting!

Wish me luck!


Sunday, September 6, 2009

Musings, Updates, and Ruthie

I saw the movie "Julie & Julia" yesterday. My husband surprised me the night before, asking what was going on the next day. He often asks, to find out what's up with all of the kids for the weekend, but I could tell there was something different. When I finished the rundown of who would be where, I asked why. He said he wanted to take me to a movie. We haven't been to a movie together since "Sleepless in Seattle" came out. Generally, if we have the time and money to go out, we go out to dinner so we can talk, but he knew I really wanted to see this movie.

It will be on my Christmas list if it's out on video by then, I LOVED it. I also plan to get Julia's first book, "Mastering the Art of French Cooking." I love to cook nearly as much as I love to quilt and was completely mesmerized by some of the dishes made, and some of the exerpts read in the movie.

I was enthralled in the movie theater, I think perhaps because I see some of each Julie and Julia in myself.

Quilting is to me as cooking is to Julia. Julia tried several things before learning to cook, because she needed something to fill her time. I learned to knit at 10 years old, and have done some form or other of needlework since then. I knitted in study halls at school, at home in front of the TV, I added stamped cross stitch, needlepoint, crewel, and counted cross stitch to my repertoire as the years went on. I can remember bringing cross stitch projects to stitch during my break time at work.

Then one day, I got an advertisement in the mail for a quilting book. I was intrigued. I was intimidated. I WANTED that book. Eventually I bought a quilting book. Little by little, I read my way through, studying it, learning the steps, daring myself to try it. Pregnant with Rachel, baby number 3, I decided it was time to try. What better trial project than a baby quilt? I bought supplies, carefully made my templates, and spent afternoons hand sewing those attic window blocks with the fussy cut inset squares. I made a baby quilt and changing table pad, hand pieced and hand quilted, in just 3 weeks. I WAS HOOKED and I was off and running. Much like Julia was with her cooking.

Julie, on the other hand, was trying to find her way. She took on a big project, something to keep her busy, something to focus on, and something to finish. She was obssessed.

I understand that obssession. I feel that way often because quilting is so much more to me than just making a blanket. Along with being a creative outlet, time spent quilting is also spent praying, meditating on God, and thinking through problems. I reminisce and daydream, plot and plan, all the while the machine humming while I piece, or the needle gently gliding in and out while hand quilting or appliquing. It brings me peace and it's such a gift.

I'm planning a "Julie" project. I haven't decided what it is, yet. Maybe it will be multiple things, a list of techniques I want to try, and projects I want to finish, a list that hold me accountable for the rambling "someday" things that run through my mind.

In the meantime, I've got quite a few projects in the works!

Debbie's quilt remains on my design board.The main reason is that I got on a roll with the purple paper pieced quilt and decided I wanted to finish it before moving on. Often in the past, I've needed to set aside quilts to take on deadline projects, or have put projects aside because they were tedious to work on, only to have them sit for a very long time before getting picked up again. I'm attempting to break that habit.

I've also learned how to play mind games with myself to make less enjoyable parts of things more palatable. I decided to quilt all the purple blocks first, because those were more difficult. I had two different motifs in the alternating blocks, and one of those was much easier than the other.
The little heart wreath is adorable, but there is LOTS of turning the hoop involved. I decided all these needed to be finished first. I then moved onto the other motif and those worked up quite quickly. I'm now doing the white border (also being quilted in purple thread) and it won't be long at all now until this quilt is finished. Though I really wanted to finish it before moving on, in the back of my mind I was pretty sure it would get set aside yet again. The fact that I've plowed through the most difficult part and now find myself just a week or so away from finishing this has given my motivation a big push. I've been more diligent about using my time wisely, and hope that I'm setting myself up for good habits come fall.

I also spent some time on the triangle paper project.
I still have quite a few sheets of triangle paper left to find fabric for, and I may work on this some tomorrow. The 1/2 square triangle units in the box are all sewn together and waiting for pressing, which will be done a few at a time. Quite a few of these will be made into Pinwheel blocks, the rest are left as 1/2 square triangle units.

Soon to be in the forefront is the posies and celtic quilt. I spent a couple of days last week making more bias tape for the outer border.
I still haven't decided for sure what will go into that outer border. I'm pretty sure there will be a vine, leaves and posies. I might also need to do a smaller braid type thing between the blocks and the vine border to finish it out properly since there is so much applique in the sashing. I plan to concentrate on this more as soon as the purple quilt is finished.

I'm pretty sure I've decided on a project for the fabric I got for my birthday, and it might be part of my Julie project. While typing this post, I already thought of a few things I'd LOVE to finish as part of this challenge. I guess part of the challenge will be naming it!

And now for Miss Ruthie. She's been in rare form of late. Because of her limited vocabulary, it's easy to forget how much she really understands. She still catches us off guard sometimes when she answers questions. Today, Rachel was asking her a bunch of questions, all to which she said "no." Rachel asked if no was her favorite word and Ruthie paused and looked at her and said "Yes!" Rachel was quite amused, "most little kids would say 'no' again!" she said.

She was playing in the kitchen one day and called me to take her picture.
She had some rearranging to do.
She then smiled big and said "picture" in her own inimitable way.
I can't get away with pretending anymore, she demands to see the picture in the back of the camera once it's taken.

She likes to dress up. She will often find a hat, then find me and ask for a picture. Really, though, who wouldn't want to capture this for posterity?
Or this? This is her current "shopping" getup, she'll put on shoes, the hat, and the purse and push her little cart around the house. The other day, she stopped, reached into the purse, pretended to put something in her mouth, grinned and said "gum!"
And now, believe it or not, my update is finished. I hope to post more often now that we're starting our school work and, in general, things are less busy here. In the meantime, I'll be thinking about the currently nameless self challenge and what it will entail.
Until then,
Happy Quilting!