Patchwork Times–Birthdays, Un-Decorating and Finishes

Since the New Year’s holiday, I’ve been trying to find my motivation. It seems to have gone on walkabout without me. I know this is what happens when I “take a break” from major projects, which is exactly why I don’t do it to often. I find it really difficult to get into the grove again, even after just a day or two of being away from work, whatever the “work” is at that moment. So I can’t say that I’ve been terribly constructive in the past week and a half, partly due to that absent motivation, but also partly due to normal “stuff,” like:

A birthday

LittleOne’s 12th Birthday celebration, and


Patches and Xmas

The Christmas take-down, despite the cats “helping”.


Finishing

I did, however, finish up the last few quilts for The Book, and I mailed them to AQS yesterday.



WooHoo! Now that the manuscript is really finished, I can move on to some other related tasks: creating classes and workshops, programming the website that goes with the book, and programming my online shop so it can open by mid-May. Whew! Stage 2, comin’ up! Motivation, please come home…

Taking a Breath

The manuscript for The Book is D.O.N.E. Done! I finished writing and drawing diagrams and editing photos today. I do still have to complete three of the quilts (they have been started, but my editor said that it would help them if I finished up the manuscript so that they could get that asap, and the quilts could come later). I also have to separate out the text and pictures and diagrams into separate files and such, so that it’s in the right format to submit, but I’m going to take a break for a few days, and finish that up right after Christmas. I can look at the text one more time with fresh eyes after I’ve been away from it for a few days and give it one more editing run through.

Whew! What this all means is that I really did know exactly how long it would take me to finish all of this. I told the editor around the first of November that I could have everything done by the end of December, and that’s exactly how it’s turned out. I had it figured that there wasn’t a lot of time for anything but working on the manuscript and the quilts; no lunches with ITMan or friends, no breaks for casual shopping, not a lot of reading for pleasure (and I miss my reading!), none of those extracurriculars.

Other than that, it means that now I can take a small breath, try to catch up a bit and make Christmas as close to normal as it can be at this point. ITMan and I are going out shopping tomorrow and Monday to see what last minute small things we can pull together for each other and the kids, and get the food shopping for Christmas done. I might work in some Christmas baking on Sunday and Monday as well, and then I do have to make Christmas Tree Bread dough on Tuesday and shape the loaves on Wednesday, because it’s just NOT Christmas without it.

Foundation

Foundation,
by Mercedes Lackey

Right now, I’m headed to bed early, to read the book that’s been on my bedside table since I bought it in Houston. It’s a new book about Valdemar by Mercedes Lackey, one of my favorite authors, and it’s been sitting there calling me since the end of October. I’m sure Shadow will join me there (he’s still doing well, and we’re all looking forward to Monday when he can have stitches removed and get rid of the collar), and Patches may even deign to share me and the bed with him for a bit. *sigh* It’s the little things.

Edit: And for any of you who have been reading since last year, I did (finally) update the Christmas Tree Bread recipe post with pictures of the bread, such as they are. Maybe I can remember to get even better pictures this year!

Patchwork Times: Is that smoke I smell?

I think my hair is on fire. I feel like I’m running around in circles, and I think I smell smoke, so that must be my hair. I looked at my blog today, just like I’ve done for the past two or three days when I’ve meant to post something, and thought “Where did the time go since I last posted?” I’ve been wildly busy, but not with anything necessarily “shareable” in the quilting department at the moment. I’m striving to finish a huge project before I catch the flight to Des Moines next Monday for the AQS show, which has meant long hours that turn into long days at the computer, mostly.

Paisley Pavane

My quilt, Paisley Pavane, did get accepted into the Des Moines show, and it’s arrived at the AQS offices safely and on time! I’m really looking forward to the show, and the vendors mall (and having a quilt in the show while I’m there will be completely awesome!). And I can’t wait for an entire day at the big mall in Des Moines with Von Maur and Younkers. I’m sorely in need of some Stateside shopping for clothes and the like, and some American style restaurants. Kimberly and I are of the same mind on these things (as on a lot of other things), and plan to shop and eat our fill in the short time we have on the ground.

I’m signed up to take two classes at the show, but I’m now having second (and maybe third and fourth) thoughts about both of them. Too late to cancel out and get a refund, unfortunately. I’m taking a class called Come PLAY with Me! with Dianne S. Hire, who I like immensely already and I’ve not even met her. Her supply list was written in such a fun, “I’m right here talking with you” voice, that I just know she’ll be a completely lovely person. The class looks like it will be some fun, outside the box cutting and sewing techniques, but I have to gather mass amounts of fabric, as well as rulers, rotary cutter, thread, etc., and lug it all to Des Moines in my suitcase. What was I thinking?

Not only that, the class is all day, and right over the top of the awards ceremony for the show. How dumb is that to schedule the awards ceremony in the afternoon when there are classes going on? With a quilt in the show, I don’t want to miss the ceremony; my quilt probably won’t win a ribbon, but sure as I’m not there it might, and that wouldn’t be any fun at all. :(

I’ve also signed up for Quilts of a Different Color with Irena Bluhm, which will probably be okay, but I bought the book in anticipation of the class, and to be honest, there were about two tidbits of info in the book that I needed to know about the technique, and the rest of the book was “just okay.” I’m not sure how much more I’ll really get out of three hours with the author in person but there it is. At least this class comes with a complete kit and I don’t have to carry anything special with me.

So, before I can even leave for the airport, I have to plan and pull fabric for that class, shop for last minute stuff probably, look for new music (a must when I travel), shop for some trashy Regency romances (another traveling must-have), do all the regular “before packing” stuff (where’s my passport?!?), get the laptop ready to go with all the programs I need to handle any crises that may come up involving web programming, make ITMan’s “appointment calendar” and “meal calendar” so that he can be both Mom and Dad while I’m gone, make my own Stateside shopping lists, and actually pack the suitcases. And none of that can get done until the super big project gets done, and that gets worked on in and around all the regular “stuff” like all the Taxi Mom duties, etc.

Hopefully I’ll have some hair left when I get on the plane, though if not, then I guess I won’t have to carry all the hair care products and the straightener, which actually might be a blessing. ;) What I’m saying is that it’s probably going to be pretty quiet around the blog this week, but I do plan to update from the show, with pics! Note to self: pack the camera…

Let’s Talk Machine Quilting (and a Giveaway!)

I treated myself today, and spent a little while machine quilting on a small quilt. Many of my projects these days are small-ish, and I’m really enjoying the machine quilting breaks that come along every few days. (If you’ve been following along, you’ll probably be able to figure out why most of my projects these days are on the small side… :) ) I’ve spent years making these huge, long and involved show quilts, where they take forever to piece, then forever to mark for quilting, and then when I finally get to the quilting part, it’s just so huge that it’s daunting. That’s not to say that it’s not enjoyable (mostly), but making smaller projects, where I can piece a little, mark a little, and then quilt the thing is just a really nice change.

And I do mean “treat myself” when I talk about machine quilting. It’s my favorite part of quilting, hands down. It’s just so cool to see a flat piece of fabric take on texture and dimension and life when it’s quilted. I love playing with all the cool threads I’ve collected over the years, like this variegated one:

Rainbows thread from Superior Threads

Which looks like this when quilted:

Rainbows thread from Superior Threads

Rainbows thread from Superior Threads



How fun is this? For the curious, the thread is Superior Threads Rainbows, which is a Trilobal Polyester, 40wt., color #801, with 50 wt. Mettler Silk Finish in a blue that matches the fabric in the bobbin; the fabric is an old Nancy Crow design that looks like crushed suede, with a scene from a Laurel Burch Fanciful Felines panel; batting is Quilter’s Dream Poly Request Loft; the quilting stencil is the continuous line 4″ Dancing Flowers by Judy Allen.

Rainbows thread from Superior Threads

Rainbows thread from Superior Threads



Another thing I like about small quilts is that I can quickly pin-baste on the cutting table with flower head pins and they don’t get caught up in the free motion foot since the heads are flat against the quilt. With large quilts, I spend hours crawling around on the floor basting with the basting gun, and then I’m just wiped out for the rest of the day when it’s done. You can pin-baste just about anything up to a certain size, as long as it’s not so big that you become a human pincushion while trying to push it through the machine. Heck, if you’ve been sewing all your life and a few pinpricks don’t even faze you anymore, you could pin-baste even larger quilts this way. ;)

I realize that not everyone feels this way about machine quilting, and some folks don’t find free motion quilting to be relaxing at all. So let’s have a chat about that, shall we? What don’t you like about machine quilting? What’s the part that you feel like you just can’t get right? If you do like machine quilting, and you have wisdom or a fabulous tip to share, let’s hear about that too!

I’m going to send a copy of the Machine Quilting—Master the Basics Workshop on CD to one lucky reader. To enter the drawing leave a comment on this post and share some of your machine quilting wisdom and great tips, or if you need help with machine quilting, leave a question that you’d like me to discuss in a future post. A winner will be chosen by random drawing this Saturday. Luck to all!

The Low-Fat, On Sale Connection

Aside from the fact that fabric has no fat, and it’s safe to consume as much as you want without thought for what it will do to hips and thighs, there’s another, even stronger connection between fabric and low-fat/no-fat foods. To some people in our house, if a food says it’s low-fat, it just means that you can safely consume at least twice as many. ITMan proves this frequently with Reduced Fat Oreos, Ruffles and Fig Newtons.

So what’s the fabric connection? Just this: I’ve been meaning to relate my trip to the Arts & Crafts to get more fabric for the 14 Year Quilt Plan. I’d purchased a couple of yards of this beautiful floral print, hoping it would go with the border print that I already had:

Fabrics for the 14 year quilt plan

It does work quite well, all things considered. I headed back over there, planning to buy at least 5 yards of the fabric, since I want the border to be wider on the quilt and I don’t exactly know how much I’ll need; when I got to the shop, there were six shelves of fabric bolts on sale for 50% off! So I bought the rest of the bolt, which was 10 yards, so now I have a total of 12 yards of this floral print!

When I started to tell ITMan about my luck with the exact fabric I wanted being half price, he rolled his eyes, and said “I suppose you bought the entire bolt, right?” I said of course I did, the same way he makes an entire box of Reduced Fat Oreos disappear in one sitting. He knew he was beaten and had nothing more to say about that one. ;)

Visiting, quilting, shopping

Okay, I’m sure you all thought I fell off the planet, but I really am here, life (and quilting) just got in my way for a bit. I spent ten days in the States last week and the one before for a machine quilting workshop with Diane Gaudynski at the Museum of the American Quilter’s Society. The workshop was absolutely incredible! By the first day at noon, I’d gotten my money’s worth I think, and it only got better from there. I learned so much that I’m still just digesting it all (and hoping I’ll remember it all, as well!).

It’s really hard to shop at Hancock’s in person, I think, since there’s just so much fabric there.

So, let me back up a bit, and start at the beginning, and hopefully tell all in the coming days. I had to fly into Nashville, and my buddy Dawn met me at the airport. We crashed in Nashville for the night (I do mean crashed, since I’d just come off an international flight, and she’d driven in from South Carolina, no small thing in one day). We headed for Paducah and Hancock’s Fabrics the next morning. It’s really hard to shop at Hancock’s in person, I think, since there’s just so much fabric there. It’s all arranged by manufacturer and fabric line, instead of color. Continue reading