Saturday, July 26, 2014

Dragonflies and Draggin' Feet

This week the quilting studio received its latest (and probably last) installation, a much needed bookshelf installed by my VVHH (very versatile handy husband).

Quilting, knitting, crochet, sewing and drawing books are all at eye level now--much easier to peruse and reach than they were in the bottom of the cubby (shown above).

VVHH surprised me with the beautiful supporting brackets. He knows that next to lizards and frogs, dragonflies are my favorite small creatures. Oddly enough, we saw one in the garden--the first one we've spotted this year--on the same day he installed the shelf.

Originally black, the brackets got a coat of white paint before installation.
Meanwhile, the quilt-as-you-go project is coming along. More joining strips were cut today, and binding will be made tomorrow. Still pondering my next landscape quilt.

Tuesday I finished a baby afghan destined for a little sweetie named Vivian Rose. The yarn, found at The Yarn Patch in Crossville, TN, is called Flutterby Chunky (by James C. Brett in the UK), and is the softest yarn I've ever worked with in 40 years of knitting and crocheting.

Here's hoping Vivi will like it, too (and that her mommy won't mind that this yarn isn't supposed to be put in the dryer. Oops!).

 Also on Tuesday, I dragged out the storage bin containing my 30-year-old UFO. That's right...thirty.

I don't remember what happened to put this Aran sweater on pause. Probably something to do with raising two sons. I do remember that this project took intense concentration--so much so, that even having the TV on in the background could derail me. It also took an entire spiral notebook of handwritten, columnar breakdowns on the instructions for each panel, as no two rows were the same. (No excel sheets back computer, either!)

So now I'm dragging my feet as to whether to pick up where I left off. I want to, but aside from the concentration issue, the yarn's integrity and durability concern me. It has languished in a plastic bin all these years, along with some long-dried-up cedar chips. Wool should be allowed to breathe, but having paid dearly for good Aran yarn, I wasn't willing to chance a moth invasion. I suspect the yarn is somewhat compromised by longtime exposure to the acids in the notebook paper and the gasses from the plastic. Is it worth spending all the time it will take to finish this sweater? I don't know.

Also this week, the window seat/storage bin finally got a cushion. But I cheated--no sewing; not one stitch. After VVHH cut the foam rubber down to size using a big bread knife (smooth as butter!), I pulled one yard of batik from my stash, wrapped it around the cushion form, and tucked it in on the sides. Who would know? The cool thing is, if I need this fabric for a quilt or just get tired of looking at it, it can be switched out for a different yard of fabric. Voila, a new cushion--again!

Linking up with Sarah at Whoop Whoop Friday, where the raffle winners have been announced! Next week I'm hoping to have something to share on the Freemotion Mavericks hookup, but as my dear friend Kathy's surgery is next Friday, it might be a while afterward.

Have a great weekend!


Friday, July 18, 2014

Taking Stock

It only took several hours each day for 3 weeks (!), but after going through 142 upholstery and drapery fabric sample books given to me by a Freecycle (Yahoo Group) member, here is what was salvaged for quilts--both landscape quilts and quilt-as-you-go scrappy blocks. I now have a real stash! All but the big tub are now stored in my little closet, the one part of the studio I hadn't yet organized.

Also saved were a few specialty fabrics, impractical for quilting but too beautiful to let go. Here are a few of them. This group is 100% silk. (You can click on the photos to enlarge.)

I tore as much of the paper backing off the samples as possible, and trimmed off the rest. So now there is a stash of these trimmings, as well (next photo). They may end up in the trash, but not not until I've thought about possible creative uses for them.

Also, the fabric samples were interspersed with semi-glossy photos of some of the larger-scale designs, so that a customer could get an idea of what, say, an entire sofa would look like in that fabric. All these photos were saved. They could make lovely paper collages or even greeting card panels.

The fabric samples that I didn't want (mostly synthetics, but gorgeous) were put back on Freecycle (a Yahoo Group of local people with items to give away) and picked up by a young lady who wanted them for crafts. Nothing went to waste.

No-sew fleece blanket

The closet reorganization snowballed into a general, overall studio cleanup. After putting everything in its place, I pulled all UFOs out of hiding. First, the oldest one: a no-sew fleece blanket, which I cut and fringed that afternoon and evening.

This was originally intended for my older son, long before he met his wife, and it might look nice in their living room, the walls of which are the same blue as that in the blanket.

Then came three UFO quilt tops (no photo), two of which went into the scrap drawer to be cut into strips, and one of which will make a nice Christmas table runner. Back to the closet for that one. I'm not ready to work on Christmas!

After that it was time to face hard facts regarding three different in-progress landscape quilts. They were all begun nearly two years ago, and for various reasons have lost their appeal for me. Only two of them are pictured here.

All these fabric pieces are back on the shelf now. There was originally a Mayan temple on the upper design, a ready-to-fuse piece which is now tucked away in a drawer to be used some other time (maybe).

A few UFOs were put back in the closet--my lizard totem mandala quilt, a smaller 'kissing geckos' quilt, and two pillows to be made from my younger son's heavy metal band t-shirts. They will all be finished eventually.

At present, I'm back to the quilt-as-you-go project started weeks ago on the amazing old Singer 403 (1958 model). That's the machine my husband found at the thrift shop for 8 dollars. It was originally set up in the dining room--not the most convenient or ergonomic situation.

Suddenly it occurred to me where it could go in the studio. How serendipitous is this arrangement?

I say this because the table was already there. The white storage tubs and drawer unit were stored under it, and when moved out to make chair space, they became instant accessory tables on either side!

Still mulling over what my next landscape project will be. Meanwhile, have also been gorging myself on the first three seasons of Game of Thrones. And season 4 is due out soon!

On an unrelated note, my closest friend Kathy, also a quilter, is having a kidney removed in two weeks (cancer), and lives alone, so blogging may continue to be sporadic this summer as we pitch in with the family to help her through pre-op and recovery. Game of Thrones, by the way, has gone a long way toward keeping her distracted from this upcoming scary event. However, the cancer is believed to be contained, and if so, will not require further treatment. Crossing our fingers!

Hooking up here with Sarah at the Whoop Whoop Friday blog. Check out her amazing giveaway (hint: 3 quilts!!). And hopefully next time I'll have some free motion work to share with the wonderful folks at Free Motion Mavericks, another favorite blog.

Have a wonderful weekend~~


Thursday, July 3, 2014

Reasons and Seasons

What a weird last few weeks it's been. I had no idea when writing my last blog entry that it would be so long before the next one.

Skipping over the dog that nearly died, the cat that was hit by a car (he's better now) and the very dear friend who's been diagnosed with kidney cancer (operable) as well as a spot on her lungs, I'll move on to the thing that keeps me--and probably many of you--sane and balanced (sort of). That being quilting. Except, my quilting life doesn't seem very balanced just now. Reasons being:

1.  A Michael Miller panel that's been all but butchered, in an effort to use two repeats in one landscape without anyone noticing:

Yeah, right.

Actually it's probably do-able, if only by using other landscape pieces to cover the obvious duplicate areas, but I'm losing interest after all the hours of debating, cutting, re-joining and re-cutting. Not to mention the nagging awareness that this can hardly be called an original design, even if it is sliced and spliced and separated by marble columns. 

2.  Twenty-four 12" quilt-as-you-go squares, for which I suddenly realized there is no fabric in my stash for joining-strips or binding

3.  The label I forgot to sew onto the lighthouse quilt before so neatly rolling and wrapping and storing the quilt away

4.  This project, which has gone almost nowhere  

5.  A week (so far) spent sorting and cutting fabric and peeling the paper backing from 142 (yes, one-hundred and forty-two) sample books filled with drapery and upholstery material. These and eleven bags of assorted fabric came free from a lady who was clearing her house for a move. My washer and dryer have been going almost non-stop for a week and my living- and dining rooms look like a hoarder's paradise. Although small, these fabric pieces have already filled five 29-qt. storage containers and will make some nice quilts for our local shelter for families in crisis.

6.  Registration of Rock of Ages for the 2014 Kentucky State Fair competition

7.  The e-mail I received saying "The Visit" has been juried in to the AQS show in Chattanooga, TN this coming September ...yay!!! Now I get to use that pool noodle I bought on impulse for $2 at Walmart for a lightweight shipping core. Maybe that's what did it...positive thinking ahead! Anyway, this now means paperwork, extra labeling, painstaking packing and shipping, and hotel reservations for Chattanooga. No complaints, mind you!--but definitely a bit of distraction to add to my current disorganization. 

Yesterday it occurred to me that, after 6 months of being so intently focused on one quilt (The Visit), quickly followed by the lighthouse quilt, this period of disarray and discombobulation could be simply natural. And maybe even necessary. A sort of forced reconnoitering and regrouping. "To everything, there is a season..."

I feel saner already.  :)

Hooking up here with Muv at Free Motion Mavericks Linkup. Have missed her and Leah Day and Sarah Craig and all their reader hookups these last few weeks. Sarah is getting ready to raffle off her Nathanael's Ladder quilt! Go to her Whoop Whoop Friday post for details on the quilt and how to enter.

Everyone have a wonderful weekend and, if you're in the U.S., a great 4th of July holiday!