Friday, March 27, 2015

Heading Out


I fly out tonight to spend a week visiting my kids (lucky me!) and I'm hoping for a taste of spring along the way. There is nothing quilty to report on... just wanted to make a quick post before I go. The later part of March hasn't been very productive in my Quilting Room but I have been keeping busy with other projects and watching March Madness.

It is hard to believe that April is just around the corner already, especially with the snow flurries we've had over the last 2 days. I'm feeling a little out of FOCUS and hope to come back after Easter ready to find that routine I'm still searching for. Sometimes I find that time away provides me with a fresh perspective. There is something about a change in environment that refocuses what is most important in day to day life. While I love to travel I always look forward to coming home too.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

WIP Wednesday: Hello Fauxbonichi

Once in a while I come across something that makes me drop everything and think "How I have not seen this before?". For the last few weeks I have been feeling, for lack of a perfect word, restless. Not unhappy, not frustrated, not overwhelmed... just an under-it-all sense of something missing. Last week for my birthday I gave myself an art journal book, a grown up coloring book and a watercolor kit looking for some inspiration. I spent a morning making a collage journal cover out of an old file folder, pages from a Connecting Threads magazine and Mod Podge just because I wanted to play.




The inside has pockets made from folding the edges back and gluing them down. Nothing fancy... just fun!
Sunday night I was watching some videos on YouTube when THIS popped into my suggested viewing list. I had no idea what a Fauxbonichi was but I clicked on it and about halfway in I was hooked. As in joining her Facebook group, finding a notebook to use and staying up until 2:30 AM watching more videos, reading blog posts and watching that same video again (and again!).

First thing Monday morning I added washi tape around the edges of my journal cover for reinforcement and threaded some elastic to hold my Moleskine large size cahier notebook in place inside. And I decided that as a part of doing my daily pages I would add an item to my cover each day until it feels "done". Then I will give it a couple more coats of Mod Podge to seal it. Of course I chose one of my Elsa look-alike stickers!
Then I turned my attention to the inside. Basically this will be my play journal with a quote, a sketch/doodle, a journal prompt, a gratitude section and what ever I feel like doing with the large section on the left. So far I'm playing with some stamps, washi tape and my colored pen & marker collection. I tend to buy this stuff with great intentions but let it sit unused so I'm challenging myself to let loose and have fun with this book.
I laid out a weeks worth of pages so I can just open it up and get to it. I look forward to seeing how my pages evolve as I start to change things up over time.
Here's what my cover looks like as of today and my page in progress is below. Tonight or tomorrow morning I'll fill in the rest. I'm going to be backing each page with scrapbook paper to cover any marker or stamping that bleeds through. I'll be able to do extra journaling or collage some items there as well.

I used to keep diaries and at various times I've kept a journal. I have a sense that my life right now is at a point where I have the most ME time I might ever have again. The kids are out east, my husband is 3-4 years away from retiring and my parents are (knock on wood) healthy. I have a bad habit of pushing things off until "Someday". I also have been feeling very nostalgic since the kids moved away and would like to capture some memories of our lives. Someday seems to be NOW, especially as the days fly by. So this is my start and I'm loving it!

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Can't Stop Knitting

I've seriously fallen into a rabbit hole filled with yarn this week. After Monday's post I was browsing Ravelry and noticed that my Infinity Scarf is going to be more like an Infinity Cowl due to my (forgotten) tendency to knit tightly. That sent me off into the internet to read about blocking techniques (many!) which led me to Craftsy. A while back I had added some knitting classes to my wishlist and I decided to start with the basics: Knit Lab by Stephanie Japel since it was on sale.
This is my 1st project from her class which is knit in 2 sections and then woven together to make a cute keyhole scarf. The yarn color in real life is more plum than violet but my camera isn't seeing it so this will do. I'm getting ready to put it together and learn how to block the lace section.
But in the meantime I went ahead and started the 2nd project which alternates 3 simple patterns to make a long scarf. I've had a couple skeins of this yarn forever - I think I used it to teach Megan how to knit way back when - and thought the soft colors would be shown off nicely in this project. I went up 2 needle sizes from the suggested on the pattern to achieve the correct guage and I've decided to start my Infinity Scarf over and try the same. I like how easy it is to unravel yarn for a redo!
It has been many years since I was taught to knit and it has been reassuring to see that I'm doing a lot of things right and can easily improve on the other things. I am really enjoying this class and went ahead and bought another on sale Craftsy class by Stephanie about knitting with circular needles. I would like to "graduate" to some advanced projects and techniques as I find knitting to be relaxing in a different way from sewing.

Elsa enjoys our knitting time too... she likes to claim the recliner part of the chair after her active supervision is completed.

These beauties from my Mother In Law arrived yesterday and truly made my day. The deer devour tulips where we live so this is the only way to enjoy them. Don't they just shout "SPRING!!!"?

Monday, March 9, 2015

Design Wall Monday + Wool

My design wall has a new element today as I did some yellow sewing over the weekend. This ROYGBIV Chevron quilt was started last year for RSC14 but sadly the only strip I did was the blue so I'll be adding the other colors as they come up this year. I love blocks made from HSTs even though it can be a challenge to get those joins nice and crisp. Like all things... practice makes closer to perfect or good enough for me!
I also have sewn my blocks for Picnic in Serenade together into rows. Now they will sit awhile until I get some quilting done. I like having something to admire on the wall while I'm quilting tops.

Elsa loves the windows in my quilting room - especially on breezy days like today when she can see lots of movement in the woods. Our snow is starting to disappear around the house foundation which is a sure sign of warmer weather at last.
Toward the end of last week I was feeling like a change of pace and started this scarf. I love this pattern because all of the "tricky" knitting is done in one row and the other 7 are easy peasy!
This is how it looks today. I was excited to finally reach the teal part of this colorway. And I will add that Elsa finds knitting to be fantastic playtime. If you look closely at the picture above you can see her furry self in the top right corner. She is all over me when the needles come out.
Needless to say I won't be leaving this project laying out unattended! I'm linking up a day late to Wool on Sundays@Rainbow Hare.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

WIP Wednesday: Progress!

Piecing Station:
I've finished the last 20 blocks for Picnic in Serenade and am ready to sew the rows together for the bottom 2 Sunny Lanes blocks which I'm using as leader/enders. I've given Picnic in Serenade the Value Treatment and will leave it on my wall while I'm busy quilting for the rest of the week to contemplate any changes.
While I love this fabric line it has taught me a good lesson. In this 40 strip jelly roll there are only 19 unique fabrics which means that 2 fabrics are tripled and the rest are doubled. Which adds up to make this particular line not ideal for this particular pattern - it's still a pretty top but I would prefer more variety. Lesson learned: check the repeats and THEN choose a pattern.

Oh - and orange might be more of an "attention hogging" color than yellow!

Sandwich Shop:
Quilting Station:
I decided to use the back side of my whiteboard easel to try out a Kanban board inspired by THIS post from last years Finish Along at The Littlest Thistle. I printed out my active projects onto some 3" Post It Notes I had handy - orange represents 2015 WIPs, aqua is for UFO Donation quilts and purple means UFO Keepers. A very quick project to set up and it has a nice little payoff when I get to move a square.

Just another way to try and keep things moving! I'm linking up to WIP Wednesday@Freshly Pieced.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

February Reads

When I look back at February it is clear that I spent a lot more time in my Quilting Room vs. on the sofa as 7 of my 10 reads were audiobooks. I'm starting to get a little nervous about running out of audiobooks via my library as my searches are getting longer. I might have to explore a paid rental option if I can't find any new authors to enjoy soon.

I have two 4 star reads to share:
  • The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
  • The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro
The Girl on the Train was an excellent psychological thriller that kept me guessing and it has been getting a lot of attention from other readers on Goodreads. I enjoyed the movie version of The Remains of the Day in January and requested the book from my library. It is an interesting glimpse at the buildup to WWII through the eyes of an English butler.

I also checked off three items on my PopSugar Challenge - a book published this year, a book set in a different country and a book that takes place in your hometown. I had to change "hometown" to "nearby" so that I could use one of the four William Kent Krueger books I listened to. They are set in northern Minnesota and that's about as close as I can get! You can find the Challenge HERE if you are interested.

Since I didn't finish any of these books (I've got 2 in progress) from my shelf in February I'll try again in March.
On sunny days this is Elsa's favorite napping spot on the corner of my cutting table. She loves batting as you can see.

This leads her to be too helpful in the Sandwich Shop however. Not only is she fond of sprawling out on any exposed batting but she is obsessed with the basting pins. As in nabbing one and running off with it. It's for your own good Elsa that I chase you down and take them away!

I'm linking up to the Bibliophile Files@sarahdidit!.

Monday, March 2, 2015

My Mission in March

I have fond memories of watching the TV series Mission: Impossible years ago because of the very dramatic theme song, convoluted plots and dashing characters. The catch phrase "Your mission, Jim, should you choose to accept it..." was delivered with a flourish each episode. I've seen a few of the movies too but the original flavor is my favorite.
image from http://momentscount.com/archives/5368
The clock is ticking on my Q1 Finish Along goals and, beyond that, my UFO Countdown. Winter is quilting season for me and it's time to accept my mission and crank up Mr. Juki. I'm choosing Warm 16 Patches as my Finish for A Lovely Year of Finishes because I'm feeling the need for some warm colors as winter lingers on.

This top has 6 good looking friends that are ready for action in March.

I've got a shortened month ahead with a happy trip east to visit the kids coming up the week before Easter. In February I set a goal to sew an hour a day which worked great for a lot of piecing... but I prefer to work on a top in one quilting session so in March I'm going to designate Tuesdays & Thursdays as quilting days. As in "Finish a Quilt" quilting days!
image from http://mollyfrances.typepad.com/look-what-i-made/2014/01/thoughts-on-focus-a-free-download.html
Beyond that I'd like to get caught up with my yellow RSC blocks from last year and make some yellow bowtie blocks. If I could get the remaining 3 projects on my Q1 Finish Along page to flimsy stage that would be a bonus but I'm not counting on it.
                                                                My Button
Quilting is My Mission in March and I choose to accept it.