Friday, May 31, 2013

Drunkard's Path Variation

I want to learn to piece curves (not that I have time for a new project). Drunkard's Path is the easiest pieced curve block to make, consisting of just two pieces...

 ...and a wide variety of potential layouts and color schemes.

Here are a few that EQ7 had preset

 but I don't like any of those (repetitive color scheme is not my thing). So last night while I was much too tired to sew, I did design this:

And I've now added it to my "bucket list" of to-do items. Cool, huh? I'm going to have to spend some time finding the right fabrics. Going to be a while before I can start this, as I have some other projects I really need to finish first.

Anywho, I should probably get off the internet and get down to some real work. Lots to do before Ragnarok! I really need to have Nana's Quilt completed (yes, I said that a month ago), finish up some garb, and start other garb. And at some point, I'd like a date with my husband. I don't think we've been out since before his eye surgery a month ago. 

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Eating Healthy?

I've been thinking a lot lately about my diet and what I eat. I want to eat healthier but who has time? Classic example: On Monday, I worked an 11 hour day. Yesterday I had to pick up my car from our mechanic, and the drive home took an hour an a half. Thank-you, horrible drivers. Today, I worked ten hours. Granted, all this overtime is rare for me, but doesn't it seem like there is always something that keeps you away from home? And tomorrow will probably be another long day, because I have a project that I need to finish so that I don't have to work on Saturday.

The last thing on my to-do list after an extra long day at work is: dishes and cooking dinner.

And I'm ALWAYS, without failure, hungry when I get home. I go for the sweets. So I stopped keeping them around the house, for the most part. But that hasn't prevented me from picking up a candy bar on the way home or getting cookies at Subway during lunch.

Besides, who has the money to eat organic? Costs are typically 2-4 times what you would normally spend.

All this drama and thinking came to a head this afternoon as I was driving home and debating the merits of picking up a Blizzard from DQ. I mean, come on, its not even real ice cream! And then last night, what did I eat for dinner? I'm ashamed to admit, it was hamburger helper. I told myself it was better for me than just a box of mac'n'cheese because at least the hamburger helper has some semblance of protein.

I decided to shoot for buying more whole foods with real ingredients, instead of going straight-up organic. I can tell it is going to be an ongoing process. So I stopped at Kroger (I wish there was a Whole Foods Grocery near me. The closest one is about half an hour in the wrong direction from work) and bought my snack, paying attention to the ingredients. Here is an interesting comparison chart between what I would normally buy, and what I actually bought.

Cultured pasteurized milk and cream, granulated garlic, salt, white pepper, parsley, chives*. *Dried
Pasteurized Nonfat Milk, and Milkfat, Whey Whey Protein Concentrate, Cheese Culture, Salt, Water, Calcium Phosphate, Stabilizers (Xanthan Gum, and/or Carob Bean Gum, and/or Guar Gum), Chives, (Dried), Lactic Acid, Onions, (Dried), Sorbic Acid, as a preservative Natural Flavor, Vitamin A Palmitate.


rice flour, pecan meal, potato starch, salt, expeller pressed safflower oil, salt, natural pecan flavor, natural butter flavor [contains milk].
Whole Wheat, Soybean Oil, Maltodextrin, Salt, Monoglycerides, Rosemary, Monosodium Glutamate (Flavor Enhancer), Onion Powder, Spices, Olive Oil, Spice Extracts, Natural Flavor.

See what a difference in ingredients? Also, things taste different when they have real food in them, so I suspect its going to take some getting used to. I'm trying to avoid soybeans because they've been linked to breast cancer, high fructose corn syrup for the link to diabetes, hydrogenated vegetable oils for the link to cancer,  and stuff I have trouble pronouncing. I also picked up some fruit (nectarines, apples, strawberries, bananas) to sate my sweet tooth and some brie cheese. 

My current goal is to improve the healthiness of my snacking. I've mostly conquered this at work through taking fruit with me and sesame snack mixes with dried fruit. When you don't leave the work campus during the day, snack options are limited. So now its better snacking at home! Wish me luck.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Virtual Retreat - Day 3

Well I'm just about out of steam. I really didn't do much sewing today, although I did work on this shirt. This was going to be a shirt for Jack but the shoulders aren't broad enough, so I've absconded with it as my own.

It still needs hemming, and I have to finish stitching the dragon on and attempt to add some detail. This was the dragon that was going to go on Jack's surcoat, but I'm not confident in my applique abilities so I decided to practice on this shirt.

I also applied for two jobs and spent an hour and a half working in the yard. All in all a productive day!

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Virtual Retreat - Day 2

I stayed up wayyyyyy too late last night, but I got up this morning and started working. I didn't get much done yesterday because I spent the day looking for things I know I have and can't find, like black and red broadcloth, duckcloth pants that are already cut out, etc. I ended up cleaning up my room a lot, locating a few things, and resigning myself to a JoAnn's trip (oh gee, what a shame) first thing tomorrow to replace fabric I apparently used for another project.

I cut out two shirts and stitched one together. It still needs the handstitching and buttons/buttonholes but is done other than that.

Dark green, to go with Jack's ranger coat. The other one I cut out is brown.

Yesteday, I got tired of dropping my bin box on the floor and spending 20 minutes picking them all up so I made a pincushion using a Moda Bake Shop tutorial.

I'm going to velcro it to my sewing table and make another one to velcro to my ironing board. My niece saw it and requested that I make her one to use as a pillow for her stuffed animals.

So here's my updated list:

1. Hem Anita's skirt
2. Hem Uncle Dave's work pants
3. Finish piecing Nana's Quilt Top. Sandwich, quilt, and bind.
4. Cut out and sew two pairs of pants for Jack.
5. Finish Jack's Ranger Coat.
6. Cut out and sew three two shirts for Jack.
7. Finish my purple surcoat.

But the night is not over! More work to do and there is always tomorrow.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Virtual Retreat - Day 1

Yesterday was sorta kind supposed to be Day 1 but I had to take my car in for a brake job, which turned into a rear bearing replacement (I'm so grateful we have a mechanic we trust) and got sent home with a loaner vehicle. I don't get my car back until Tuesday, maybe. *sadness* But I stuck around on that side of town to spend time with my mother in law, who graciously offered to pick me up from the auto shop, and my niece, who is a very devious easter egg hider. Good times!

This morning I dragged my feet because I don't like hemming, but I finally got the pants for Uncle Dave hemmed up. Cross one item off my list! And Anita's skirt is being put on hold due to the fact that I can't find the marking I made to determine how long to make it.

1. Hem Anita's skirt
2. Hem Uncle Dave's work pants
3. Finish piecing Nana's Quilt Top. Sandwich, quilt, and bind.
4. Cut out and sew two pairs of pants for Jack.
5. Finish Jack's Ranger Coat.
6. Cut out and sew three shirts for Jack.
7. Finish my purple surcoat.

I also found myself volunteering to have friends over tonight for the Red Wings playoff game, in which we all hope they will finish the series and progress to the Conference Finals. And I thought I'd make tacos for everyone. So some cleaning and cooking are in order. They are not arriving until much later this evening though, so I should still be able to get plenty of stuff done in the meantime.

And, because I can't seem to write a post without a picture, here's one for you. A picture taken by Vanicus of Corma, to give you some idea why I spend so much time making garb in June of each year.
Ragnarok 2012

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Virtual Retreat: Extreme Home Sewing Edition

After a night with almost no sleep (thank-you brain, for being overactive) and a ten hour shift at work, I'm just too tuckered out to attempt to work on any of the many projects I have going. I also had several surprise projects show up this month and I'm feeling a little overwhelmed.

Pretty much sums up how I feel
Lucky me, its Memorial Day Weekend, and after work tomorrow and a trip to my mechanic to get my brakes fixed, I'll have a three day weekend with minimal social obligations. Karate class is cancelled, my friends are going camping, and there is no Dagorhir practice due to the holiday weekend. Saturday is 100% all mine and Monday as well.

So it will be a Virtual Retreat Sewing Weekend for me, by which I mean I will pretend like I'm on a Sewing Retreat, go into my room, close the door and work work work. Here is my list of projects (think Get It Done May 2.0 Extreme Home Sewing Edition):

1. Hem Anita's skirt ( a project I've had for about a month that will take me maybe an hour but I just don't feel like doing it)

2. Hem Uncle Dave's work pants

Unfinished side not shown
FYI, I think hemming is the most boring sewing ever, so we're doing this first to get it out of the way. Ever hemmed curtains? Oh my gosh the straight lines just will not end. Fortunately, these projects are easy and of a short duration.

3. Finish piecing Nana's Quilt Top. Sandwich, quilt, and bind. One side to go on the inner border and cut and piece the outer border.

4. Cut out and sew two pairs of pants for Jack. I think I already have one pair cut out, I just need to find it. And I have the material for more. I just need to find it. The pattern I use is by McCall. I use heavy weight thread, zig-zag stitch all the edges, and double stitch the seams. All this is time consuming but necessary, as spending a week slaying the armies of Mordor is a bit hard on the clothes. I also make his pants out of duck cloth. Its a little heavy for the summer but they are breathable, durable, and apparently very comfortable once they have been washed a few times.

5. Finish Jack's Ranger Coat. I'm sorry to admit that this project has been two years in the making. Two years ago I pieced the outer coat for Ragnarok. A year ago I added the lining. And this year I plan on finished the sleeves, which will be removable through the use of eyelets and laces. I'm also sorry to admit that I do not have a good picture of this available.

6. Cut out and sew three shirts for Jack. The man desperately needs new garb this year.

7. Finish my purple surcoat. Started months ago.

I just ordered a new shirt pattern that will hopefully allow me to make short-sleeved shirts for the guys that do not look like commercial t-shirts.

Has several different patterns in a large array of sizes. This one pattern should work for just about anything I want to make.
Okay well that list is enough to keep me busy for a couple weeks. Stay tuned for daily updates on how I do!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Biology & Negative Space

I'm a scientist. I love order and logic and reason (even if I don't always employ them). I have a degree in Physics and a degree in Chemistry and have always regarded Biology as the illogical and unpredictable brother of "purer" sciences. Its a class you take because you have to, not because you want to.

So when I read that the Pyramid of Life, a construct by the biological community to explain biological order, has the smallest and simplest components located on the LARGEST and BOTTOMMOST layer of the Pyramid, it seemed a little backwards to me. Just a touch upside down.

And every higher and smaller layer also "contains" everything below and within it. So if the lowest and largest layer is subatomic particles, the next one up is smaller and is Atoms. And so on, up to the peak, which is the ecosystem as a whole. As you travel up the pyramid, you are increasing the degree of biological order. More stuff in less space!
Source: The Pyramid of Life Article

It sort of seems to me that an office building or an inverted pyramid would be more appropriate. Or a graph. Or something. Anything except having your smallest components on the largest layer.

So it seems that the biologists have inadvertently invented what I'm going to call Negative Space Biology - that is, the process of fitting an increasingly large number of organisms in a decreasingly small spatial representation.

The easiest explanation is that each layer is "built" upon the next. Atoms are built from subatomic particles and so on. And also, only those with extremely literal and physics oriented minds (like me) would be bothered by this.

Glad I got that out of my system.

Monday, May 20, 2013

A List of Things I Learned Recently

1. If you drop a box of pins off an ironing board into a pile of fleece and batting, the pins will bury themselves as deeply as possible into the batting. Removal of said pins is time consuming and must be completed thoroughly if you intend to use the batting to stuff pillows in the near future.

2. Having scraps from two different projects on the same table can result in substituting bright white fabric for cream colored fabric at a rate of approximately 50% per quilt block.

3. The neighbors always notice if your lawn grows an extra day or two before you can mow.

4. Part of the reason I hate my job is because it is both physically and emotionally taxing without being mentally challenging. I feel like my brain is turning to goo just by working there.
This is your brain
This is my brain at work

This is Pinky and the Brain

5. Returning to school for forensics will require me to spend the summer relearning freshman biology (which I took about a decade ago, give or take a semester.) Relearning freshman biology will hopefully prevent my brain from goo-ing further.

6. Antivirus software will always choose the most inconvenient time to do a full system scan, burning up all your RAM and processing power for a minimum of an hour.

7. Having a charcoal grill means that sometimes, Jack volunteers to cook dinner!

Saturday, May 18, 2013

May Block Swap

Just thought I'd take a moment and post the two blocks for this month's block swap.

I received this gorgeous block from my partner this week. My theme is stars in jewel tones and Chricket found some beautiful ruby red and emerald green fabrics to make my block from. The green is showing up as more of a teal in this picture, but it is actually a very deep green.

Interestingly, her theme was stars & pastels. So this is the block that will be going in the mail on Monday!

I really like this block because I used a batik for it, so it only took two fabrics and I got a wide variety of colors.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Mother's Day

Yes, its Mother's Day. And I'm supposed to be out with my in-laws, giving Nana her finished quilt. Only I spent the entirety of yesterday watching TV and fighting a nasty cold. So, the quilt didn't get done this week, as I had planned. I did make some progress in the last week though, and here it is.

This is what I had planned, but the choppyness of the inner blue border always bothered me. Even more so when I put it together.

See what I mean? It looks a little awkward.

So I took it apart, and came up with this:

Much better!

However, it is still not going to get it done today. So in a way, this annoying cold is a bit of a blessing, because it gives me another week to work on this quilt. What's the line from the Richard Rahl books? "Nothing is ever easy.."

Tuesday, May 7, 2013


Just put the binding on the DP9 quilt. I plan to get it in the mail tomorrow or Thursday. Yes, I'm a couple days behind my plan. Rushed it out tonight because I just realized that Mother's Day is Sunday. For some reason I thought I had another week or so, not five days, to finish Nana's Quilt. Uh-oh, I'm in Tuh-rub-ble... so I'm going to try to power through. In the meantime, here are some pics of my lovely DP9 quilt!

Friday, May 3, 2013

Quilt for West, Texas

A couple weeks ago, Judy put out a call for quilts to hand out in West, Texas. Last weekend I put aside my current projects and tackled a baby quilt to send out there. Its not very big, but hopefully someone will be able to use it. I'll also be sending the bargello baby quilt I finished a couple months ago.

I took the DP9 block I made

 And made three more,

Sandwiched and quilted. I love the quilting on this. Its just straight lines, (well, mostly straight). I think the quilt looks like lily pads on water.

And pieced a binding from scraps.

I'll be using Susie's Magic Binding again and the piping will be white. I hope to finish this Sunday and get it in the mail next day.

Previous to this, I made more progress on my surcoat. I shortened the bodice, overlapped it where needed, hand-stitched it down, and added some trim to disguise the fold.

Whip stitching to shorten bodice

Finished front

Back, needs darts for fitting

Still needs some darts in the back and shoulders, and updating the flaps a little.

Other than that, not much is going on. Work is interfering with real life (yay for overtime?) The boys do not have karate class this weekend so I was looking forward to a full day of garbing, but work reared its ugly head and I will be spending my day in a lab. Ugh. What a way to wreck a weekend.