Thursday, January 30, 2014

A Lovely Year Of Finishes January Edition

Its time for the January link up for a Lovely Year of Finishes January Edition. This UFO busting epic link up is motivation to get my stuff done. Aside from getting Stuff Done, Melissa and Shanna are offering prizes.

My Lovely Year of Finishes goal this month was to get all the blocks made for my DP9 Train Quilt. Here is the link to my goal setting post.

And guess what? I did it! And yes, it is still hanging out on my living room floor. Jack may or may not be getting a little amused/frustrated at the way I keep taking over the house with my projects. The entire basement was supposed to be his, but I stole a corner for my Evil Genius animatronics work.  We're still happily married, so it can't be too bad.

A bonus, as I mentioned in my previous post, would have been to finish the flimsy. I've got it about 75% of the way done. The sixteen blocks in the top right corner are currently unattached. I was hoping to rush through it tomorrow after work but I'm making a trip to the in-laws to function as a computer tech for the evening (providing the weather holds).

On Saturday I will plan on posting my February goal setting and updates for other January goals. Happy Thursday!

Sunday, January 26, 2014

This just isn't going very well - Project 144 Update

This looks nothing like what I want it to look like. On the plus side, I found out that my serger does a great job with a gathering stitch, which will save be buku time. On the down side, the thread that came with the serger is cheap and breaks easily. Luckily, my brother- and sister-in-law gave me a set of serger thread cones for Christmas, so I'm going to hook those up and it should go much smoother. Also luckily, this is throw away fabric - if it doesn't work out, I didn't lose anything other than time.

I'm getting very frustrated with garbing, because I KNOW what I want the garb to look like but I'm not able to find a pattern that will work and I don't seem to be able to make it appear out of thin air. We are getting to where we are pretty specific in what we want and commercial patterns just aren't cutting it anymore.

I've got a couple books on pattern making/alterations and I guess I'm going to have to whip those out and start using them.

Jack and I sat down last night and made some (very long) lists of things we would prefer to get done before Ragnarok and talked about budgeting and planning. We decided that we are at the point where we have enough garb and gear to get us through a week of camping, so now it is time to take a step back and design and build the garb and weapons we want. This will involve higher quality materials and significantly more time investment per completed item. Thus, much of today was spent online doing brainstorming and research.

This was on my to-do list for January and it doesn't look like I'm going to get it done if I want to do it correctly, so I'm pushing it out to February.

I found another cross-stitch project to share. This one is a Dimensions pattern and will eventually have a castle and wizard and a fireball in addition to the eerie looking dragon. I've been working on the fireball this week.

The background is actually black but I was having trouble getting a good picture because of the high contrast between the thread and the fabric. I'll hopefully have a better one next time.

Remember, just keep swimming!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Check out these "Modern" Quilts

Ever since I finished the HST quilt this past weekend, I've been browsing around at "modern"-ish quilts.

First, it was very easy to put together and secondly, there is something strangely appealing about the simplicity of the pattern. I found a whole slew of amazing quilts.

Geometric Eames by Heather Joy of
Celebration of the Hand by Angela Flickr of The Artists' House
Carson Too quilts at Black White Yellow
No artist listed, click here for original blog post
There are dozens more out there, a lot of them more complicated than the few I show here. I really like the Celebration of the Hand by Angela, because it combines quarter square and half square triangles.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Rustic Half Square Triangle Quilt

Check it out! Thanks to a three day weekend (and Jack taking off for a Red Wings game tonight) I actually pieced an entire quilt in one weekend. Okay, granted that it still need borders (which I don't have the fabric for) and it is a very small quilt at 36" x 45" but I still did it in ONE WEEKEND! GO ME!

Rustic Half-Square Triangle Quilt

I'm not sure what I'll do with this one yet. It is a good size for a baby but it is the wrong color scheme. It might make a nice wheel-chair quilt. Guess we'll see. Either way, I like it a lot. It is very different than all the other quilts I've worked on.

Linking up to Design Wall Monday at Patchwork Times

Saturday, January 18, 2014

My Shoulder Angel

There I am, browsing around on the quilting message boards, generally minding my own business and not bothering anyone, when I came across this little gem.

"Amish Cropcircles" by Martina, as posted on 

Oh. Me likey. Shiny!

I can't really say why I like it because its not my typical color scheme or anything like that but I do really like it.

Then I said to myself, "Self, you should make one!"

It went something like this - remember Kronk from Emperor's New Groove?

Shoulder Demon: You should make that quilt.

Shoulder Angel: Be strong of will. You have enough projects.

Shoulder Demon: Will-schmill.  It'll be fun.

Shoulder Angel: You don't have time for the projects you already have.

Shoulder Demon: You already have the squares cut. It will use up some leftovers - that barely counts as a new project!

Shoulder Angel: No! No! Don't!

Shoulder Demon: In fact, anything started from stash or leftovers doesn't count!

Shoulder Angel: Stop squashing me, mmmph!

And that is how I ended up using the leftover squares from my DP9 train quilt. They are 5.5" squares which I chopped in half and paired randomlyish to make HST units, trimmed to 5" square.

 Here is the first row. These are 9" finished blocks. I counted enough triangles to make 20 blocks total, which I think will make a very lovely 4 x 5 block layout.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Trouble Comes in Threes

Its been one of those weeks...

Last Thursday I'm just about to crash for the night when I hear a pipe running. I check the bathroom. Nope. Down into the furnace room I traipse and what is that I hear? The pipe going to the outdoor faucet?

So I put on my shoes and trudge outside. I have to use a shovel to dig my way to the faucet through about a foot of snow.

After checking it out, I determine that I can definitely hear water running and that the faucet is definitely not on.

More shoveling, this time around the corner to the crawlspace entry where I am rather unhappy to discover that the pipe under the crawlspace has burst.

Mind you, its about three degrees outdoors at this point.

I race inside and yell  for Jack to shut off the water.

Turn out that there was never a shutoff valve installed to the outdoor faucet, so we have to shut off the water main. To the entire house. And it is approximately 11 pm. I have to get up for work in less than seven hours.

The next day, we both left work early to get the pipe repaired. Got a shutoff valve installed.

And find that the water has seeped into the basement along the back wall.

We were very blessed in that we caught the burst pipe early, or we probably would have ended up with a completely flooded basement. We had to clean up the water and throw a few things away. We also used the opportunity to de-junk. We filled four trash bags to throw out and have a small mountain of donation items in the garage.

Then I come home today to this:

That used to be my hot water faucet in my shower. Apparently after I left for work, it wouldn't turn on and then completely busted open, spraying water all over the bathroom.

Jack took it apart and found this little gem:

That SHOULD be one piece. Jack is at Home Depot right now trying to get a replacement.

While he's working on that, I'm gazing longingly at my DP9 Train quilt top, wishing I could be working on it instead of helping him repair the plumbing and I see that one of the blocks is upside down.

That one, RIGHT THERE, right smack dab in the middle of the quilt. It couldn't be on an edge, because that would make the repair too easy. Icing on the cake. I knew there was a reason that I don't like cake.

Hopefully this weekend will be better, I have plans to spend Saturday with Astrid building robots in my newly cleaned basement and eating my weight in fruit and chocolate while the guys gather at the park to beat each other with foam swords in the below freezing snowy weather. And Monday is another Holiday (first time ever getting MLK day off of work) so three day weekend, here I come!

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Cross-Stitching Medieval Style

I came across this the other day and pulled it out to work on during one of those rare evenings when we decided to watch TV all night.

I used to do a lot more cross-stitching and am going to try to do some in the evenings any time we are catching up on TV shows. I have a tough time sitting and doing nothing but TV watching, because I get restless.

The first one is a Teresa Wentzler pattern and the second is the Samurai Warrior by Dimensions. I have several more of these handwork projects floating around. If I ever finish them, I'd have quite the gallery.

Linking up to Slow Stitching Sunday over at Kathy's Quilts

Saturday, January 11, 2014

The Starvation Diet

Given some recent family illnesses, the fact that diabetes, breast cancer, and a whole host of other things runs in my family, and a general desire to feel less exhausted all the time, I've been looking for healthier eating options.

Less wheat, fewer carbs, more veggies, less sugar, better meat.

Here is what the internet has to say.

If you eat meat, you'll die.
If you don't eat meat, you'll die.
If you eat wheat, it will kill you.
If you don't eat carbs, your brain will cease to function and you'll die.
If you do eat carbs, you'll become diabetic and die. 
If you eat veggies, they're loaded with poison, and will kill you.
If you eat fruit, it has sugar, will cause diabetes, and you'll die.

Generally speaking, if you eat it, it will cause your untimely demise.

I'm getting more than a little irritated with the interwebs right now.

In addition, no one can agree on which of the grains is healthier, carb and caloriewise. Or how much is too much or too little. And since our wonderful government is so reliable these days, I'm sure they have the right information on nutrition... right? We can trust them?

Plus every author on the subject has an agenda - publish a new lifesaving diet book that tells you everything you knew was wrong and this is how to eat. That way, they make money.

If you combine all the information into one pile and boil it down to its root, what you get is "don't eat anything, its all bad for you." Everyone should go on the Starvation Diet because the safest thing to eat is nothing.

So here is what I've decided to do:

Reduce grains intake in general and wheat intake in particular. Why? Gluten does funky things to your digestive system. I'm going to substitute rice flour for some wheat flour and attempt to overall minimize the breads and pastas we eat. This includes attempting to cook fish about once a week. Increase the number of veggies and fruits that we eat.

My action plan for this is:

  • Try a new recipe once a week, and make it the first time with healthier choices. (Olive oil for saturated fats, etc).  I can't do a lot about the recipes we already love, because changing them means we won't eat them. But I can find new recipes to integrate.
  • Purchase rice noodles instead of wheat noodles. Add lentils and beans for variety. 
  • Maintain a recipe master of meals we will eat. I've already set this up, in a spreadsheet format that will help me easily plan a meal. It is a little anemic right now.

See? Not much on the spreadsheet. The idea is to pick an item from the first four columns (beef, chicken, fish, vegetarian) and then add something from the next few (sides, soups, fruits) and maybe throw in something from the dessert column if I'm feeling particularly decadent. We have to love it for it to make this spreadsheet and all recipes will be printed and put in a binder for easy reference. No recipe goes in the binder unless we will eat it.

This mean committing to cooking at home, not as easy feat when I'm working full time. Wish me luck!

Monday, January 6, 2014

The New Shiny! Sampler

I've been playing around with the idea of doing a sampler quilt, something along the lines of a Dear Jane, a Sylvia's Bridal Sampler, or a Farmer's Wife Sampler. While these are all very beautiful quilts, I don't seem to be able to talk myself into trying one. Maybe there isn't enough creative license when someone else picks all the quilt blocks. Or I could be too stubborn. Either way.

I still want to do a sampler quilt so I've decided to do one On My Own Terms. I selected several (7 dozen so far) blocks that I liked of varying degrees of complexity. I'll be making them in four inch finished size and using my Moonlit Blooms fat quarter packs from Connecting Threads, with tone on tone black for the backgrounds. I'll keep making blocks until I run out of fabric - I have about 7 yards total.

Since I've been doubting my ability to make complicated blocks in such a small size, I was excited to discover that it has already been done! SoScrappy made a midget quilt, with patterns provided by Sentimental Stitches.

So I decided to dive right in this month as my NewFO. Here is the first block! The pattern is called Frayed Four Patch. I'm going to call this quilt the "Shiny! Sampler."

"Shiny: Something that is great, neat, very cool, peachy keen. From the short lived Joss Whedon television series "Firefly."" - From Urban Dictionary
Shiny! Sampler - Block #1

Reducing stitch size was critical for this, because the seams are so short. I also pressed all my seams open to reduce bulk, something I never do. But it looks so nice and pretty on the back I may start doing this on all my blocks.

I think it is going to be a Shiny year!

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Snow Day

We just got hit with another winter storm. It is currently covering the sidewalks again. We will probably have to shovel the snow a couple times for this one. They were predicting anywhere from 6" - 14" but I don't think we're getting quite that much.

The step out of the back door is almost buried. I'm paranoid about driving on bad roads and only do it when absolutely necessary. All things considered, we decided to take a snow day today.

I worked on my disappearing nine patch quilt yesterday. All the blocks are made! This has been by far the easiest quilt I have made, so I highly recommend this pattern if you need a quilt in a hurry. The unbordered top will be 56" x 70".

It is laying out on my living room floor, so I'll have to get the top finished ASAP or it risks becoming a rug.

And I did actually start on my Project 144 skirt. And I didn't like it. I made it much too short.

It looks more like a beach coverup than a skirt. But the good news it, the leftover  piece of fabric I cut this out of makes a great skirt!

I'll be working with the second piece instead of the first. I may add trim to the first attempt and layer it over the second. Lets see what happens! I am making this up as I go.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

January Goal Setting and December NewFO

Happy New Year to everyone!

I'm taking today off and then it is going to get ugly. Back to work tomorrow and it will be time to get serious about a few things. Like eating less sugar, more vegetables, and actually exercising once in a while. I have some poorly defined plans but I'm not going to think about those until tomorrow. My lunch break at work should be plenty of time for drafting "resolutions."

I'm participating in a Lovely Year of Finishes and the 2014 NewFO Challenge,  (links on the right sidebar) and my own Project 144. Here is what I have planned for January.

2013 NewFO Challenge

My December NewFO was the Disappearing Nine Patch Train Quilt from my previous post. I have seven out of twenty blocks made for this quilt.

Lovely Year of Finishes

 I want to finish making all the blocks for the Disappearing Nine Patch train quilt. A bonus would be stitching the top together and ending the month with a flimsy.

Project 144

I fiddled around with robot building like I had planned. Astrid and I spent an hour in the basement learning to build circuits last week. I ordered a book on Beginner Robot Building and read the first few chapters. I didn't get a chance to work on my confessor's dress. My January Goal is to make this skirt out of brown suedecloth.

This should really be a one day project once I figure out a pattern. In February I plan to systematically go through all of our garb and figure out what to keep, what to get rid of, and what I need to make to get us through a week at Rag. We've got less than six months and I'm going to refuse to take unfinished projects with me, so I've got to get cracking on this.

2014 NewFO

My plans for my January NewFO are simple - I want to make one block from my mini block quilt. I'll make a few if I have time, but realistically, just one block.

And Finally 

I would like to finish quilting this quilt and get it bound and labelled.

Yep, I think that is enough to keep me busy this month. What are your plans for January?