Thursday, January 31, 2008

Log Cabin Love

Since I was brave enough to show you the first quilt I made (with all it's blocks lost in the whiteness of the fabrics), I decided to share the colour of my second quilt. My first quilt gave me the courage to just have at the whole quilting experience, which meant I spent some time collecting a variety of fabrics to make a colourful log cabin quilt. I had a great time putting this quilt together choosing red as the feature colour to represent the warmth of my son's personality.
If you click on the photos you will see that I discovered stipple quilting. That has become a favourite way to machine quilt for me. I love the meandering of this stitch.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Block for Week 11

This is the second to last block in the quilt a-long . I may have another go at this block with some different fabrics, not so sure I like this combo as much as I thought I did. Funny how that works sometimes. You have this idea of how well a couple of fabrics go together and then, well, you have second thoughts. Like this time. Oh well, I'll lay number 11 block down beside the others I've made for this quilt top before I start digging thru the stash for something different to use. Perhaps this block will look better in the company of the others. Perhaps.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Humble Beginnings

The mercury has taken quite a dip here recently, which means the family has been burrowing under quilts more than ever. The above quilt was brought out of the linen closet to be added to my youngest son's bed, so I thought I'd show it to you. This is the first quilt I ever made. It took me years to give quilting a try. I love quilts and I love sewing, but was sort of afraid of the scale of taking on such a craft. I was afraid that I would mess things up or (heaven forbid) not like quilting. Then I decided that I would take the plunge and manage the risk by not buying fabric to make my first quilt. I decided that I would use the flannel receiving blankets I had from my sons' infancy. I had so many - which meant that the fabric was still in great shape. I chose a quilt pattern and got busy rotary cutting strips, squares and rectangles (I skipped attempting the triangles that made up part of the pattern and stuck to four sided shapes). I used a flannel double sheet for the quilt back and I free hand motion quilted around the polar bear pattern on the sheet rather than something more complex. You know what? I fell in love with quilting somewhere in the process of making this first quilt. I know the quilt itself isn't the most beautiful, that the pattern's complexity is lost in the blandness of all the white flannel and that my machine quilting has stutters in it. It was my humble beginning into a craft that I adore putting my hand to and something I can see myself continuing for years to come.

Monday, January 28, 2008

'Manly' Quilt and the need for striping yarn...

Thanks for all your get well wishes. I think I am finally on the other side of my head cold. I also managed to get the quilt top pieced over the weekend and now have to sort out what to use for the backing.

The faster I can finish this, the happier my oldest son will be. He's "mad for plaid" (and one of the outgrown shirt sources for this quilt), and is being rather fussy about what I intend for the backing, lest I mess up the overall, and I quote him here, "manliness" of his quilt. Ha.
While contemplating a manly finish to the quilt, I picked up my languishing knitting needles. Here's the second sock to a pair I've had on the needles since... um... Nov.? Sad, I know. This is the reason why I need to continue to knit socks in self striping sock yarn. It's obvious that the different colours in the striping yarn actually motivate me to finish the socks faster. (Since I'm being honest here, I will also admit to not liking the Kitchener stitch, which if you look close at the top of my yarn basket, you will see the first sock is still on the needles awaiting the grafting of the toe... but I actually do like knitting the socks. Really. I do.)

Friday, January 25, 2008

Why there is a smile on my face

I caught a cold this week and am at the "I think my head's going to explode" stage. When you need tissues with you every minute of the day.
So why the heck would I be smiling so much this morning?

Yipeeee!!! Look at the giveaway goodies that arrived for me - all the way from the U.K., thanks to the generosity of Jane. A pretty practical tote and a couple of quilting mags. What a wonderful way to start my day. Thank-you, Jane! I see a cup of tea and some quiet time browsing through the magazines taking place later today.

*Just a brief update on my thrifty plaid quilt... I managed to get the extra round on about 10 blocks (not shown in this photo) and hope to finish the rest today. So far, I'm liking the results. Another reason to smile (even as I grab for another tissue...).

Hope your day is filled with reasons to smile!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Pay It Forward

I signed up over at Nadine's blog Friendship Threads to participate in a Pay It Forward Exchange when I first started this blog, a couple of months ago. Unfortunately, at the time, (possibly because it was so close to Christmas?) I did not have anyone that signed up, so I am hoping that now that I've been blogging for a little while, I may have some interest in this exchange. I do realize this exchange has been circulating around blogland for awhile and many of you have already participated in it. For those of you, like me, that haven't had the pleasure of joining in, here's your chance...
This is how it goes : it's the Pay It Forward exchange, based on the concept of the movie "Pay It Forward", where acts of kindness are done without expecting anything in return, just passing it on, hoping that the recipients will do the same and pay it forward, like a never ending chain of kindness...
How to proceed ?
I will make and send a handmade gift for the first 3 friends who post a comment to this post, requesting to join this exchange, and promising to pay it forward to 3 other persons, etc....
I don't know what my 3 gifts will be, and I can't make them in the next few weeks, but I can promise I will send them within the next 6 months .
What YOU have to do in return then, is pay it forward by making the same announcement and promise on YOUR blog.
Sound like fun? I think so! I wonder who will I be sending handmade gifts to???

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Thrifty Quilt

The colder temperatures have encouraged me to tackle the collection of plaid shirts I've been wanting to re purpose into a quilt.
Half of this bin has been home to the growing stash of thrifted and culled from my boys' closets, cotton plaid shirts.
My rotary cutter makes quick work of the shirts. An added bonus of cutting up shirts is all the buttons! Yep, I have a button collection too.
This is my progress so far. I plan on making more blocks and I will be adding one more round to each, which will make each block 16 inches square. Nice and big. Exciting to have quilt top coming together quickly and it would be great to make space in my fabric bin. Ahem. You realize any space will be filled as soon as it's cleared. ;o) Such is the life of a fabric lover.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Block for Week 10

Still stash-busting and with only 2 blocks left to the quilt-a-long, I have mixed feelings. I'm looking forward to finishing this quilt top but will be sorry to end the quilt-a-long. Maybe we can convince Amandajean to lead us through another...

Monday, January 21, 2008

A Gift for a little Girl and something for Me!

Why is it that when I think a project will take little time to make up, that it seems to not work out that way? Unfortunately one such project is a gift that is now late. Oh, well. I think she will enjoy a late birthday gift all the same. Two year-old fingers should find the velcro closures on the loosely fashioned doll clothes easy to manage.
Can you believe that it took me more time to sort out a hairdo and the embroidering of the doll's face than it took to design the simple outfit? I was hoping to make the doll child friendly, knowing that the doll will likely get carried around by her hair and that any small buttons have the potential to be picked off and be swallowed by a wee one. It's been years since my sons were at such an age, but I do remember how little fingers can worry loose parts and pieces on toys. Yikes. Finally, another project I'm happy to have complete is the Irish Hiking scarf. I really enjoyed knitting this and might bravely attempt knitting a cabled hat to match. Wishing I had it knit up and ready to wear since it's become colder here in the past 24 hours.
Wish me luck in finishing up my other works-in-progress before I get to come up with a gift for my soon-to-be 7, nephew. The birthday parade is in full force these days. Lots of gift making to be done.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Block for Week 9

This was a fun block to stitch up. I have had to find a different fabric to use for the background because the first one I had been using is all but gone (yay!?). Anyways I am determined to use what I have on hand. Hopefully, the fact that the background fabrics vary in my 12 blocks will only make the finished quilt top more (not less) interesting ;o)
For those of you that are curious, if you want to see what the others signed up for the Quilt a-long have used in making their blocks, you can find links to their blogs on Crazy Mom Quilts. I have been visiting these blogs to have peek at what my fellow stitchers have used for their blocks and must admit I love seeing the variety. I can hardly wait to see the resulting quilt tops at the end of the 12 weeks.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Make His Day

No, I don't have any sewing projects to share today. Sorry also if the title misled you to believe that this post will read like a Cosmopolitan article (giggle). I'm going to talk about my sons and all it takes to make their day. Both have been a little under the weather and my youngest has taken up residence on the couch. I spent most of yesterday afternoon reading this book to him (older teen ventured in and out to listen during this time).

I just find it so wonderful that even though he's a newly minted teenager, he still enjoys having me read to him and begs me not to stop (even when I explained that having supper wouldn't happen unless I took a reading break so I could get things cooking).
Today I ventured to the library to collect all the books he'd put on hold.
Now, reading to my sons is something my husband and I have loved doing for years. It became part of each and every day (that's my excuse for the messy house all these years - more important to be reading than doing housework ;o), but reading aloud has tapered off somewhat as the boys can now read for themselves. We do like to share thick novels together in the evenings. Great authors and classic books. Fiction, non-fiction. Recently, fantasy. My husband and I read HP #7 aloud over the course of one weekend. We were that engrossed. It's been so much fun sharing a love of books with our sons and being able to talk about what we're reading. Good stuff. Now something funny I have noticed through the years we've been homeschoolers is that certain books reappear in our household with the reliability and constancy of the four seasons. Case in point are the titles amongst today's book haul. A whole whack of Garfield titles and then Hank the Cowdog on cd. Seems like we've cycled back to these old favourites. I guess the boys have the right idea. Nothing makes you feel quite as good as some laughs. I totally love that I can make their day by trudging home with some books they want and even more so if I can share the book with them.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Quilt Blocks for Week 7 & 8 in Quilt a-long

Whew. I had temporarily fallen behind in the Quilt a-long blocks for this week and last week. I am using limited bits of fabric from my stash and may have to dig out something else for the background fabrics (which you'll notice when viewing the following photos) to finish out the remaining four blocks that Amandajean will give directions for.

Here's Week 7's featured block:

With this one being for Week 8: *ahem, you will note that I had to use two different background fabrics in this block because I just didn't have any more pieces of the one.
After stitching up the two latest blocks, I had to lay them out with the previous six to see the overall effect.
I'm so glad I joined the Quilt a-long ... especially when I look at my completed blocks! It's fun to find bits and pieces to combine to make the blocks. The majority of my fabric stash is comprised of thrifted finds and some leftover bits from previous projects - which means I don't have much yardage in the majority of the fabrics in this project. This is very much a scrappy quilt in the making. My favourite kind!

Friday, January 11, 2008

Celebrating a Blogiversary

Pop over to Four Friends and a Blog today to enter into the giveway we have going to mark our first blogiversary.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

New, Blue and Bold

I posted a version of this tote in pink a couple of posts ago, but decided to make one for myself in blue. The main fabric and couple of others used in this project were thrifting finds. Each time I use this pattern I play with the finishing details a bit and love that it allows so many creative opportunities to use a variety of fabric. It really is a stashbusting project.
For this one, I free hand machine quilted around the flowers in the main fabric in a variegated thread, to add a bit of playfulness and extra detail. The quilting layers also give more structure to the tote's design, which I'm liking.
I strip pieced the band that covers the top portion of the front pocket and added in some gimp trim in white to jazz it up even more.
A peek at the inside shows the pocket I added to help organize the interior of the tote. I hate having to fish around for the smaller items I like to carry. The best part about this design for me, has been that I can wear the tote as a backpack which I like for shopping. I've already transferred the contents from the tote I had been using into this new beauty. Time for me to take it out on a test run. ;o)

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

How to avoid Works- in- Progress...

Between fighting off a cold and having less access to the computer lately, I've been missing out on blogland and the days are adding up since I last posted. After getting some extra sleep and drowning the attacking cold bug with copious amounts of water, I'm happy to say I'm back!
Do you ever find yourself looking to make something for a bit of instant gratification? Well, I hit a roadblock with one of my works-in-progress and decided that I needed to make something simple and quick. I turned to Amy Butler's In Stitches apron pattern for the basics and then made some simple alterations in size and added touches.
I made a flower rather than the original rectangle shaped pocket for the front to go with the Mary Engelbreit fabric. Fun!
This is the reverse side of the apron. Solid colours and ric rac. There is even a tuck between the red and yellow fabric (which doesn't show up in this photo) for a bit more feminine flair.
I love the little sayings printed on the Mary Engelbreit fabric and chose this one for the pocket. I'm now thinking that this apron needs some matching kitchen accessories... but I probably should get back to the other projects already started. Kinda of scary when I look at how many works in progress that are needing attention around here.
What do you do when one project has you stumped? Do you dive into a different project for a change of pace? Do tell...

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Still in the Pink

It seems I can't resist the colour pink for crafting right now.

This is a simple design for a coin purse that I made using some of my thrifted fabrics and vintage ric rac along with a favourite Amy Butler fabric.
Next is something new for me to tackle. I'm learning to knit cables by knitting a scarf (thanks to Samantha and her beautiful example shown months ago). I'm really enjoying knitting this scarf in pink and for that I am being teased in this male dominant household. Seems I am alone in my love of pink ;o) You may see more pink projects soon as I have been inspired by some pictures and patterns I've been browsing. I'll be sure to share what I get into. Surely, I can't be the only one loving the colour pink?

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Thoughts for the New Year

Especially at the start of a new year, my thoughts turn towards taking stock of my life. I like to write out my thoughts for the changes and actions I will make in the upcoming months and reflect upon all that I'm grateful for and happy with in my life. I won't go into all that in this post. I wanted to wish each of you a Happy New Year and to pass on some words of wisdom that come from a journal where I like to jot down quotes that strike a chord in me.

What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters, compared to what lies within us. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

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