Monday, February 25, 2008

Mini-Quilt Monday

I call this "Patience is a Virtue." I know I've mentioned this before here, but my patience level is seriously lacking. If something looks terribly complicated or requires me to read directions, I tend to avoid it. Not out of fear, but out of a short attention span and a mood that swings to the easily frustrated. It is for these reasons that I have avoided making triangles in my quilts...oh, and because you have to iron every. freakin'. seam! But back a few months ago, Mum gave me a Triangulations CD for quilters. It teachs you the easy way to make half and quarter square triangles. You want to talk about easy peasy? WOW! Yes I did have to iron every single flippin' seam, but you was worth it! This little block came out so flat. It's beautiful!

Yes, I know that not all of my triangles and diamonds show perfectly, but hey, it's the first time I've ever done it...and I really don't recommend making super teeny tiny 1" square triangles your first time out - they were a bitch to stitch (and even more of a bitch to iron, unless you have a small iron meant primarily for quilting).
"Patience is a Virtue" was born out slowing down, reading directions and ironing every seam, with my blood and spit going into every corner of this little block, literally - I kinda cut the knuckle of my thumb with the rotary cutter (don't ask, I'm a whiz a cutting myself with scissors and cutters or stabbing myself with needles and pins). It bled like crazy, to the point where I had to stop what I was doing and get a band-aid!

Anyhoo, happy Monday!

Sunday, February 24, 2008

The Quiet of a Sunday Morning

Every week, I create a list of things to do (sometimes two depending on where I am and what needs to be done) and most of the stuff on these lists get done on the weekend. So by the end of Sunday, everything (or almost everything) is done and crossed off the list...only then I start to think, what did I do for me, to make me feel as though I enjoyed my weekend? I cleaned the kitchen, the living room, the bathroom, vacuumed and did dishes - which makes me feel better, 'cause my house is clean, but not really for me and it wasn't relaxing. I washed, dried, folded and ironed laundry - which I had to do if I didn't want to go to work naked during the coming week...but again, not really for me. I lugged wood into the garage and into the house - another must if I wanted to keep my butt warm, but what did I do that was enjoyable?

So this week, I made a conscious effort to check everything off the list by last night. Laundry, dishes, vacuuming, wood, bathroom, living room, dining room, kitchen...all done and cleaned! I woke up at 7:30 (slept in for two hours - whoo hoo!!) and took Sadie on a leisurely Sunday morning walk. I made cinnamon buns for breakfast (something I haven't done in sooooo long). I sat at my recently cleaned off (and cleaned out under) kitchen table with it's bright and cheery table cloth. I ate cinnamon buns and yogurt, drank tea and flipped through a magazine with a little Damien Rice playing...even the animals left me alone until I finished my breakfast (something unheard of in this house, what with the moochy cats and dog that I have!).

I have the day to myself. I created Week 4 of my mini-quilts last night (as you will see tomorrow or right now if you go to flickr). There is absolutely nothing that needs my immediate attention today. I can do whatever I want - draw, or read. I could paint, or go for a drive or plan my garden for the coming season. Or I could do nothing at all. My options are endless right now.

What will I do with myself?

Friday, February 22, 2008

A Lazy Friday and $40 Worth of Thread

I love lazy Fridays.

Lazy Fridays when both your bosses decided to take the day off. Where no meetings are scheduled and you're basically caught up on the majority of your work.

Lazy snowy Fridays when someone brings in apple cake, blueberry cake and carrot cake, prompting a spontaneous coffee klatch at 9 am.

A lazy Friday where Lucinda's dulcet tones waft from my computer (inspired by a Maine native's blog post), over the sound of Vladmir Putin's final address (in Russian) as our Ukrainian intern listens in.

A lazy Friday that invites you to leave work for lunch, to hit Barnes and Noble for two books and a comforting Chai tea, to spend $40 on thread. (Yes, you read right folks...forty dollars on THREAD! I've never spent that much on thread alone!)

Oh lazy Fridays, you undo me.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

PS I love you - Nellie Mckay

I've fallin' in love with this song

Tuesday, February 19, 2008


So I'm a day surprise there. Since I missed last week, I made up for it this week. And without further ado, here's the latest in the mini-quilt project:

"Color Play"
Made with batik swatches and exploring light, medium and dark in fabric color

"What's Black & White and Red All Over?"
(obviously a play on the old newspaper joke). Again, batiks. I proved to myself that I can make a tiny log cabin block from 2"x3" swatches.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

The Shelf

I've had this unpainted shelf for about 2 years now, not quite knowing what I wanted to do with it. Finally, I decided that I needed it in the kitchen and that it should be barn red. I started painting it a few days ago and just couldn't decide what kind of a detail or design I should paint on it. I started with a brown vine and white berries...but that looked so boring. I needed inspiration, so I headed here (which I tend to do often) to wander through Anahata Katkin's art. I remembered something I saw on her blog back a while ago that I loved and hit her flickr page to track it down.

This is it - I just loved it, stared at it and wondered, "Can I paint something this colorful and funky and actually make it look good? No patterns, no real design, just making it up as I go?"

Obviously it looks nothing like Anahata's work, but she was my inspiration. Her work screams "Be not afraid of bright colors that you wouldn't ordinarily think go together" and "Don't be afraid to get messy!" I was sideloading and overloading colors so that orange showed through turquoise and pink and by the end of it, every color on my palette had every other color mixed into it.

It was creative abandon!


My office is closed!

and I have the day to do WHATEVER. I. WANT!


Tuesday, February 12, 2008

A Thrifty Sort of Day - the books

I love thrifted books, especially the crafty ones from the 70's - this one was a must (and at $1.99, how could I resist?)
These guys and....
these guys were truly the selling point (check out that funky green crab, isn't he the best?)
And the hippy handbook...
I had to have this book (and for $2.99, why not?)
Ever wanted to make a Mexican Peasant Blouse? Here you go...
Ever wanted to live in a commune? Good tips to remember...
The handwriting can get a bit sketchy and there are no chapters, but it's very freeing to skip from one subject to the next with no lead in or relation to the last thing you read.
This is my absolute favorite page:
And there you have it, some of my thrifty book finds. I have an idea brewing in my brain with regard to the stuffed animals, something that needs a little more thinking on and a little more research on, but once I've got it figured out...I'll be sure to share!

Now I realized this morning that I never did my mini quilt over the weekend. I was just so busy, that I never got around to it and I was more in a painting mood (pictures to come); so this weekend, I will make 2 and show them off next Monday (those and the funky shelf that was inspired by Anahata's art...more on that later, too).

Monday, February 11, 2008

Blogger hates me

I've been trying for 2 days to upload photos and Blogger has been very....cranky, you could say. It nicely allows me to select all the photos I wish to upload...then it freezes in mid upload. To that I say, "BASTARD!" (which is, by far and away, one of my favorites words).

And that is where we sit today - with a really great post about two of the books I found on my thrifting trip in the queue but no pictures to accompany it....well actually, the pictures are the post...I've got nothing written so far. So it's a really great post in the mental queue!

Maybe tonight Blogger will show me some photo uploadin' love!

Saturday, February 09, 2008

A Thrifty Sort of Day

A few weeks ago, a good friend from high school and I met up again for the first time (to have breakfast) in more than 10 years. When we went off to college, we drifted apart. Then, out of the blue, she emailed me (via myspace) and come to find out, she worked for the State, too, and lived all of a 1/2 hour from me! So today, we decided to hit Rockland for a bit of thrifting.
We visited several little shops downtown (The Grasshopper Shop is one of my fav's)
I found this at a wonderful little consignment shop for $25!
Check out the detail
At Goodwill, I found this sweater (it's an L.L. Bean) for $2.50
and this one for $4.99!
These two scarves are from Mace's, which sells India inspired clothing. They were total bargains ($6 each!)

I also found several books at Goodwill that I will share with you as soon as I scan some pages. I was very excited to find them. One is a how to in making soft toys ($1.99), one is a Halloween book ($.99), one is The Mistress of Spices by Chitra Divakaruni ($1.99) and the last one blew me away. It's called Living on the Earth, published in 1970 by Alicia Bay Laurel. It's handwritten and hand-drawn (very reminiscent of Sark's books, only sans the color). It's a hippie life handbook...and it's freakin' great! I love it!

Friday, February 08, 2008

Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow!

Wasn't that a Bugs Bunny cartoon?
Nearly 17" of hair chopped from my head. No more struggling with it at night, whenever I roll over. No more wet hair getting whipping up under my armpits as I brush it. No more 20 minute blow drying sessions, just to get it remotely dry. No more mega shampoo and conditioner use. No more long hair clogging up the drain. No more static hair across my face driving me absolutely insane after I take off a winter hat. No more French braids catching on shirt or coat tags. No more ponytail holders, no more big clips, no more hair sticks. No more dry, split ends!

Goodbye crazy, long ass hair...hello cute and flippy "do"!

I hope your Friday is full of change and you're having a great hair day!

Monday, February 04, 2008

Mini-Quilt Monday

Here it is - the first Mini-Quilt Monday! Whoo-hoo! And as promised, the first of 52 mini quilts:

I'm calling this first one "Blanket of Stars" (which I neglected to write on the back of it), inspired by a quilt idea I had 3 years ago while listening to the Counting Crows song, Mrs. Potter's Lullabye. The whole song has great imagery but when I heard "When I see you a blanket of stars covers me in my bed", all I could picture was this deep blue quilt covered in various sized I made it in mini with one size star. This has taught me that I need to practice my free-motion to get my thread lines a little better looking and less all over the place. It also make me realize that I enjoy beadwork!

Now, Belém asked a very good question: "Isn't 4" going to be too small?" I thought so too at first, but in the end, if my calculations are correct (and god knows they probably aren't - I'm very adept at screwing up my measurements!) and if I stitched all these mini quilts into one, the finished quilt would be 133" square or roughly 11' square, give or take (26 four inch blocks across and down with a 1" sashing between each block and a 2" border - does 133" sound right?). 52 blocks, plus the binding, the sashing and the backing...all using scraps. It might not use up all of my scraps, but I think it will use a fair amount.

I kind of like the thought that I don't have to come up with something big - I can whip up a 4" block in no time with these mini-practices and they're very inspiring! I came up with 2 new ideas for quilted wall hangings based on the one I did yesterday. Plus it makes me think small, when normally I think a little too big with quilts.

Alright, lunch break is over - now I have to get back to work.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Practice Makes Perfect

How often have we heard this? How often do we do it? The sad thing is its undeniably true...and we still don't take the time to practice - whether it's drawing, painting, paper craft, sewing, quilting, fabric dying, etc. Boning up on technique is essential, because the more you do it, the more you learn and the better the result of your finished piece, right?

Well I have an idea – a challenge for myself (and anyone else intrigued by this). As anyone who quilts and sews knows, you always end up with fabric scraps (lots of scraps!) and sometimes you can use them for fussy little things in quilts, but if you’re anything like me and my mother, you end up with a bucket or bag (or both) full of odds and ends and strips, and it just keeps growing with every project you do. My idea, my challenge, is to take those scraps and complete a 4” mini quilt a week for a year.

Creating these mini quilts will help me practice making traditional quilt blocks, practice free motion quilting, hand embroidery, embellishing with found objects, dying commercial fabric in small pieces to produce new designs, painting on fabric…all the things that I’ve been wanting to play with but haven’t taken the time to do. On the back of each mini quilt, I’ll create a label with the date, the technique I used and any thoughts. At the end of the year, I’ll have 52 completed mini quilts that I will stitch together to create a journal quilt (using a quilt as you go technique). Yes, I know that is going to be one big ass quilt, so it may end up as two smaller pieces to be hung in my upstairs hallway…I’m not sure, but I’ve got a year to figure it out.

I’ve been brainstorming for sometime now about what to do with my scraps, just because they’re growing exponentially. And you NEVER toss out your scraps! I still have scraps from the first quilt I made 9 years ago (it was a very plain, very simple, man’s quilt made for my ex as a Christmas gift – I loved that quilt…it was so warm and the fabric I found for the backing was a super soft sheeting material. I was always stealing it off the bed to wrap up in. I kick myself for not taking it when we broke up – god only knows where it is now). Wow, that was a tangent – anyhoo, I want my scraps to do something more than just take up space.

I’ve been looking for a challenge (other than the challenges of everyday life), something artistic and I’ve always wanted to do something like Lisa’sDrawing a Day” project. This morning, I was flipping through my Quilting Arts magazine and read an article about eco-friendly journal quilting techniques and the author mentioned recycling her scraps into her journal quilts and the inspirational lightning bolt struck my brain – here was the solution to my overabundant scrap problem! And by creating only 4” quilts, it’s not time consuming, it’s instant gratification, it uses up the things I already have (recycling some stuff) and its practice!

My self imposed rules:

  1. No going into the stash because “oooh, a piece of that purple would be just right!” No no no! I can only use my scraps.
  2. No going out and buying any embellishments. I have beads. I have buttons. I have charms and fibers and other stuff in the crafting closet already that will be used.
  3. The sashing and binding (which will come at the very end) must be made of scraps…again, no buying new fabric or digging into the stash just to make the sashing or binding uniform. The idea is to transcend uniformity.
  4. The only things I will be allowed to buy for this project are threads and batting…because I’m severely lacking in my thread box and I have no batting in the house…wait, I have old blankets…okay, so no buying batting; I’ll recycle blankets. So just thread.

Okay, that’s all for rules – I don’t want to limit myself too much.

Wish me luck! I’ll be sure to share my weekly mini quilt (Mini-quilt Mondays? Hmmm…I like).

Happy Friday, folks!