Monday, July 30, 2007

Good as new!

I had a wonderful and relaxing quilt retreat this weekend.  
I made a list of all the things I'd like to work on and spent some time with each one. First I updated my 365 quilt entries. Here are my 3 months of strips hanging in the storage room. I bought a couple of new Zig millenium pens since the two I started out with seemed to be getting a little worn out.
I also worked on my Journey of a Quilter BOM and finished the stitching on block one. This was very relaxing and I am really enjoying this project. The photo is a little bit yellowy, but it was late at night when I finished. I made a couple of changes, such as I took out all the stitched blocks of T pins - just a personal taste thing - I didn't like the look of them, so I'm replacing those pin blocks with regular fabric. And instead of using the DMC floss colours Leanne recommended, I am using up the floss I collected from my days of cross stitching in the late 80's. Then I finished tracing the stitch patterns for block 2 and pieced block 3 which is the photo on the right.
I also did some hand beading and worked on an abstract challenge piece that is not anywhere near ready to see the light of day (it's ugly!).
I fixed a big mistake on my President's Challenge mystery quilt - I had sewn the last two rows on upside down! You can see these rows here. I carefully ripped out that seam and resewed it the proper way around. Then I added some borders and pieced the backing. I am so proud of myself for using all stash fabrics from start the finish. This is the backing made from leftover pieces from the quilt top. So now I am thinking about how to quilt it - I still have a month left to finish that.
Mostly I enjoyed the peace/piece and quiet of my studio. I sometimes listened to music, and sometimes listened to the birds singing outside. I feel well mended and ready for the second half of summer vacation with the kids.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Super Woman

I have had a couple of tough weeks trying to do the "super woman" act - balancing too many activities with/for the children, trying to hold down a very stressful and too busy job, keep the house running (groceries, cleaning, dishes, cooking - you know the routine), trying to get the guild workshops organized for next year, and not finding any time left in the day for restoring my sanity. I have been in this place lots of time before and know the importance of my own self care. So today I am insisting on it and am going to do some quilting. I have had moments here and there, mostly late at night or at soccer and baseball practises/games, to work on my hand stitching. On the left is block two of the "Journey of a Quilter" BOM. I am enjoying having this quick and easy project to pick up in spare moments.
So please don't call/email me - I'm at the quilt studio with the "Do Not Disturb" sign on the door!

Monday, July 23, 2007

Journey of a Quilter BOM

Like a few of the other quilters on the Stashbusters ring, I enjoy the creative ideas of Leanne Beasley - you can read her blog here. She is the originator of the 365 quilt project that I have been working on and I had been thinking for a long time about making her "Journey of a Quilter" Block of the Month quilt. I finally ordered the first three patterns and starting working on the blocks.
I must admit that I decided to use the fabric I had been collecting to make a quilt for my sister! I have been adding to this collection for quite some time, not really knowing what pattern I was going to sew. And since I have been looking at these fabric piles for months, I have decided I really like it! I will have to add more fabrics to it, probably more browns and deep burgundy pieces. I may eliminate some of the greens that are jumping out at me in this photo! Also I have to raid my 365 journal quilt stash of beige/cream for the stitchery blocks.
Here is the first block pieced. It took me about 2 1/2 hours to cut out the pieces, and sew them together - much longer than I would have anticipated. I am getting faster, since I have cut many of the fabrics into strips and am not taking as long to make decisions as I go along.
The stitching is taking me much longer than I had anticipated too! I will post a photo whenever I finish the first block!

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Stitching and Camping

We are back from a 1 week camping trip to Algonquin Park. It was a perfect holiday...great weather, no unexpected problems, lots of family activities and wonderful relaxation. We saw lots of wildlife including this deer who was munching grass at the side of the road. My children claim to have seen a moose while hiking, but I missed out on that.
We had a perfect camping site on the edge of a small lake where we could enjoy canoeing and swimming. It was so quiet and peaceful- we felt like the only people on the planet! On the right is a photo of my children taking the canoe out for an evening paddle around the lake.
I spent a lot of time last week preparing a hand embroidery project to take along. I will write more about the project later this week, but I just have to show you a couple of photos that my husband took of me. I had pieced two blocks but didn't have time before leaving home to trace the embroidery pattern onto the fabric. So early in the morning, I pinned the pattern to the back of the block and held it up to the car window while the sunlight was still low enough to shine through, so that I could trace the stitching lines. I could only trace one or two parts each morning before my arms were exhausted! I worked on the stitching a little bit each day when I had a chance.
Here is a photo that my husband took of Miss Molly and me at sunset - I am stitching and keeping an eye on the children, who were out in the canoe.

Is this not the picture of complete relaxation?!?!

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Blueberry Season

This has nothing to do with quilts, but is another one of my favorite things! At this time of the year a lot of my time is taken with enjoying the blueberry season. I have been to pick berries twice this week, the second time with my sister and her two daughters, who have never picked blueberries before. They really enjoyed it (although I am sure that the girls ate more than they picked!) and they hope to go again later in the season. The blueberry farms just opened this week for picking, so it is the beginning of blueberry season here. There will likely be two more good weeks to pick.
The strawberries around here were not good this year, so it was great news to discover that the blueberries are fantastic...plentiful, big, sweet and juicy. I freeze as many as I can each summer so that we can enjoy blueberry muffins, jam, and pancakes in the middle of the winter. I freeze them in bags of 4 cups each, unwashed, and then wash the berries just before I cook with them. Yum Yum!

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Quilting addiction

I realized yesterday (again!) that I am truly a quilting addict. I have been so busy with family trips - with both sides of the family, scheduled back to back, that I haven't had any time for quilting. Now, I know that quilting will wait for me...patiently, forever, as some of my UFO's can tell you. But I can't wait for quilting! I had taken along some hand beading on the last weekend trip and did have a couple of wonderful hours to work on it, but it didn't satisfy me! I was so irritable last night that I really felt as if I was craving quilting.
My LSH (long suffering husband) gently suggested that maybe I'd like to go to the quilting studio and relax! Translation = please go somewhere else and leave us in peace! Good idea! As soon as I started cutting and sewing my fabrics, I immediately felt better. I imagine that this is the same feeling as alcoholics have when taking their first drinks - ahhhh, much better. I have joked around a lot about my addiction, and done many talks to quilt guilds about this problem, but I renewed my visceral awareness that it is really necessary for my mental health. My craving is not satisfied by reading quilting blogs, shopping at fabric stores, or even beading a quilt- it has to be the 100 % pure, real thing -sewing a quilt!
I spent a couple of hours cutting strips for my 365 quilt and updated my entries. On the right are my entries for last half of June lined up and ready to sew together. I am now completely up to date and have finished 2 months of this quilt project. I am proud of myself for keeping up with my goal and not falling behind or giving up on it.
And I feel MUCH better after my quilting fix and can continue happily with my life. I am working a lot of on call shifts (48 hours) this week since we are short staffed due to prime vacation time. I don't mind, since others will be doing the same thing next week to cover for me. And what will I be doing? Yet another camping trip. These trips are wonderful to plan and anticipate in the dead of winter, but when it comes time to shop, do the laundry, organize gear, pack up, etc - I wish I would give myself more time to prepare (and to quilt) in between! I am planning to take some hand piecing and embroidery stitching along on this next trip and hope that will help me get through the week!! Wish me luck!

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Happy 4th of July!

We are back from a fun and exhausting trip to New Jersey to visit some of my husband's family. We had a great vacation including an early July 4th parade, fireworks, swimming in their backyard pool, golf for my husband, a day trip to the Jersey shore (which was the first time my children have seen the ocean), lots of playing games (including their new favorite "The Train Game"), yummy food made by my sister-in-law (whom I lovingly call "Martha") and lots of time for chatting.
Unfortunately I missed out on visiting the local quilting stores because Monday was the only day I had time to shop and much to my horror, I discovered that all the stores there are closed on Monday!!! I was very disappointed about that but my pocketbook is relieved!
I was so happy to get home and pick up my dog Molly from our friends who were looking after her. We call them Molly's foster family since they look after her whenever we are away. We missed each other very much!
Today I am tackling the mountain of laundry and am preparing for another weekend away. I am taking my children camping with all my siblings and their families (10 children in total). This is our 11 th year of this tradition, which we call the "annual family Pow Wow". We'll have more fun at the beach, game playing, campfires, and lots of time for visiting...and more sleep deprivation!
And I am also suffering from quilting deprivation, but really, how can I complain when I am having so much fun?