October Craftsy Class Update

Online Quilting Class

Time for my October update!

I recently realized that I've got one less month to hit my 2014 quilty resolution goal of getting my to-be-completed-classes down to a single digit count, as I'll be out of the country for most of December. Unlike other recent trips, I won't have access to WiFi to watch classes while I'm gone, either. So my overall goal has been adjusted some. I'd like to get at least two more classes done in November--which means I'll miss the single-digit goal by a couple of classes. But I'll still have made fantastic progress! (The upside to this is that once I get back from said overseas trip, I'm unlikely to feel up to much else besides sitting and watching Craftsy lesson videos for several days, so I may make great progress on classes then!)

New Completions

(+3)

Dot-to-Dot Quilting results

Dot-to-Dot Quilting results

Classes in Progress

(3)

Classes added this month

(+3)

  • Machine Quilting: Small Changes, Big Variety with Angela Walters: This was on sale mid-month and I thought it would make yet another good addition to my collection of machine quilting classes and, perhaps, even my collection of Angela Walters classes. I may not get to focusing on these until the new year (I'm running out of 2014!) but I'm looking forward to some really intentional work time on my machine quilting skills. 
  • Dot-to-Dot Quilting with Angela Walters: Okay, may as well make the collection complete. I bought this one because one of my UFOs seems like it will lend itself perfectly to this technique. I've been stumped as to quilting designs for it, so I finally went ahead and bought this class that I've been looking at for awhile. But I also finished it right off the bat! (See the full story in my review.)
  • Travel Photography with Jad Davenport: I got to the end of the month with no plans to purchase any more Craftsy classes this year when I got an email from Craftsy that told me I'd bought so many classes at this point I'm now considered a "top student" and they were gifting me a free class. That's one of those "good news/bad news" moments: Bad news that I've earned top ranking with Craftsy on the number of classes I've bought (sigh) but good news that yay! I've now got a free class! I perused for awhile and decided that this photography class would be the best purchase as I'm about to, you know, travel...and take pictures...and such. I watched the first couple of lessons right off, so I'm already on the way to finishing this one quickly. I picked up an excellent tip about travel tripods in the very first lesson so it's already been a worthwhile investment!

Classes To Be Completed

Current count:  16 (-1 from last month)

Completed Classes (all topics)

Current count: 39  (+3)

(Usual transparency statement: This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links. Thanks for supporting this podcast and blog!)

Fight the Funk Friday

It's Friday, and time to check in on my overall health and fitness goals.

Umm...suffice it to say that I took a stab at getting back into some healthier habits earlier this week after a Traveling October (yikes). But today is really the official restart, I guess.

I went back to my Weight Watchers meeting last night--I'd missed a couple due to travels over the last couple of weeks. And it's true--although I know what I should be doing and I have all the tools (internal and external) to do it, when I'm not attending those meetings I tend to slack off. It's not so much the accountability as it is the mental refocusing. For 45 minutes I'm sitting there thinking about nothing other than my health, so it helps get healthier thoughts back in the forefront of my brain, and carries me through the week until that next refocusing meeting. In the past, I've been most successful at weight loss when I consistently attend those meetings. I've done WW online for years--and I still use the website and app on my phone--but I've found in-person meetings to be more helpful to my focus, and I use a paper journal tracker thingie for planning ahead, then actually track after-the-fact on my phone. It involves time, but it keeps me in the zone.

Last night as I was creating my skeleton sketch of meals for the week, I decided that it was time to  make my first slow-cooker oatmeal of the season. I only rarely eat oatmeal in warmer months--it's definitely a cool weather meal for me. So I prepped it last night and had a lovely, tasty bowl of oatmeal for breakfast this morning. I diced up an apple and threw some cinnamon in there last night, then added just a titch of brown sugar this morning. Yum.

Admittedly, it's hard to take a picture of oatmeal that looks appetizing, though.

As for exercise, not so much. I got to the gym for a great workout on Monday. Then I was out Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday evenings too early in the evening to be able to get any exercise in after work. I've been trying to walk a bit here and there during the days but it wasn't enough to build up significant steps. I participated in a FitBit "Workweek Hustle" challenge and did wonderful early in the week, but got quickly bypassed by most other people in the challenge by the end of the week.

Next week, though, watch out! I'm really going to work hard to flip my schedule around and get to the gym in the mornings, even though I'm so NOT a morning person. But then I'll know it's done.

Craftsy Class Review: Roasting Techniques Every Cook Should Know with Molly Stevens

It's the time of year when we go from grilling on the back patio to roasting in our kitchen oven. Cool nights are just made for a nice, comforting roast-of-whatever, so it was time for me to finish up a Craftsy class I'd started awhile back, Roasting Techniques Every Cook Should Know with Molly Stevens.

I really like Molly Stevens as a teacher. I took one of her other Craftsy classes, Secrets of Slow Cooking: Mastering the Braise last winter (see my review here)--I'm thinking I may watch a couple of the episodes for refreshers now that we're back into slow-cooker weather as well. In any case, I knew I liked her style from the braise class so I figured the roasting class was a safe bet.

And sure enough, I still like her style. She's very no-nonsense but very friendly. She explains things clearly, and gives a couple of science lessons in the middle of certain parts so you can better understand what's actually happening when your meat or your produce is in the oven at different temperatures. The class materials are extensive and, in addition to 13 recipes (by my count), include very helpful temperature charts, information about dry brine and wet brine techniques (plus ingredient lists), and at-a-glance instructions for which cuts of meat work best in each technique.

I haven't yet worked my way through all the various roasting techniques. Indeed, at this point I've only been home one night in which I had enough time to roast anything, so I did a high-heat roast on a roast beef. The roast was done perfectly using her techniques, although next time I'll probably use a different technique for that particular cut of beef, or a different cut of beef for that particular technique. It was just a titch (a very little titch, really) on the dry side, but it was incredibly tender and exactly the right amount of pink that my husband and I prefer. 

Tomorrow night (Friday), I'll have a little more time I think, so I'm planning to use her technique for roasting a whole chicken. I really like the usual way I do chicken so we'll see if her technique beats it. 

That being said, there are several other techniques and recipes she demonstrates in the class that sound mighty tasty to me, so I'll be heading back to these class materials a few more times in the weeks to come, I'm sure. Those sear-roasted steaks and the Maple-Glazed Rack of Pork are just calling to me. Really, just about every lesson had my mouth watering as I watched it. Yum.

And for the non-carnivores out there, she does have a segment on roasting vegetables--potatoes, a vegetable medley, and green vegetables. I've done some vegetables in the past but haven't had consistent results so I'm looking forward to trying out her techniques for that as well. (That being said, the bulk of the class is about meat so vegetarians may want to check out other Craftsy classes, such as Love Your Vegetables with Anna Bullet or Big Bowls: Hearty Vegetarian Meals with Martha Rose Shulman. I'll probably pick those up next spring when my vegetarian daughter moves back home from college.)

I really enjoyed this class and I think I'll keep learning from it as time goes on. I'm really looking forward to some wonderful weekend meals!

The Basics

  • 7 lessons, ranging from nearly 10 minutes to almost 30 minutes.
  • Lesson 1 goes into the science of roasting, which actually really does help to know.
  • Lessons 2-5 cover different types of roasting: high-heat, combination-heat, sear roasting, slow-and-steady roasting. In these lessons she also offers bonus information such as a pan sauce, pre-salting, carving, a compound butter recipe, flavor boosters and glaze. 
  • Lesson 6 is roasting vegetables, already mentioned above. She has good tips here that will make your vegetable roasting efforts successful.
  • Lesson 7 is about stuffed roasts--pork loin and beef tenderloin. 

Again, that's Roasting Techniques Every Cook Should Know with Molly Stevens. Two big thumbs up--especially if it's a cold, rainy or wintery day!

(Usual transparency statement: Using Craftsy links provided in this post helps support this podcast and blog. Thank you!)

Thinkin' About It Thursday

This week, I'm thinking...

  • That some shots really hurt {{whine}}.
  • How I really need to figure out how I'll be able to drink coffee safely in Burma. (Coffee doesn't come to a boiling point.)
  • That I still need to pick up a couple of travel-appropriate articles of clothing--durable, lightweight, easy to wash in a sink...
  • How good it feels to finally get some quilting done.
  • How fall really, truly, is my favorite time of year.
  • That it'll be awhile before the dogs are ready to let me out of their sight again.
    • Can you say, "Pied Piper?"
  •  About whether or not I want to get that new camera and try to sell off my old one.
  • That it's both a good thing and a bad thing that I've bought so many Craftsy classes they just gave me a free one. 
  • That it's strangely harder to decide what class to use as a freebie than it is to spend my own money for one. 
  • That Food Truck Rodeos are a whole lot of fun.
  • What great "next generation" folk we have in our family and how much I enjoy hanging out with my now-adult-kids and nieces and nephews and such.
  • How I really, truly, need to work out a better gym schedule.
  • That experiencing all four seasons in the space of a single week makes it really hard to decide which seasonal wardrobe I should be keeping in my closet. 

Craftsy Class Review: Dot-to-Dot Quilting with Angela Walters

Online Quilting Class

So this one had been in my wish list for a few days, and I had no intention of purchasing it until I'd knocked a few other quilting classes out of my queue. And then I realized I had a UFO I really needed to finish before the end of November. And then I realized it was quite possible that this class would have the perfect solution to my "How to quilt this thing" dilemma. And then it went on sale. So I bit.

Here is my review of Dot-to-Dot Quilting with Angela Walters.

 I'll start by saying Angela Walters is an excellent teacher and very easy to watch. Her classes are much like her books (which I have reviewed before)--step-by-step, clear instructions, with good diagrams as well as her demonstrations. 

Using Golden Threads quilting paper to test out my design plan.

Using Golden Threads quilting paper to test out my design plan.

Here's one caveat: If you've never machine quilted before, you should consult other resources or classes first. This is a class about quilt designs: She doesn't talk about making your quilt sandwich, basting, or stabilizing the quilt. She assumes you are already at least that far in your experience. Indeed, I was wondering for several lessons whether she did any stabilizing (stitch-in-the-ditch) at all and finally found reference to it in the discussion threads on the side. As I watched the next lesson, I could finally see some evidence of stabilizing stitching.

Closer view of my quilt design sketch, marking what points I'd be using as my "dots". I then free-handed the actual quilting.

Closer view of my quilt design sketch, marking what points I'd be using as my "dots". I then free-handed the actual quilting.

That being said, once you know how to prep your quilt for quilting and are ready to start doing some designs, this would be a good starting point. These designs are very simple, but have lots of possibilities for making them more complex. They're good no-mark designs, but if you're more comfortable marking, there are some very fast and easy ways to do that. On the other hand, most of the designs she shows in this class involve straight lines, which can be remarkably difficult to do with a free motion foot. (Although you can use a walking foot if you want, that requires a lot of twisting and turning of the quilt so it's far simpler to become competent at doing straight lines free-motion.) 

I was able to immediately put the class techniques to use on a wallhanging/baby quilt I'm trying to finish for my great-niece's first birthday at the end of the month. I made it a long time ago and it's languished from inattention but then, I always work better to a deadline. I'd been waffling on how to quilt it but found the dot-to-dot technique the perfect solution. 

Quilted--you can see the chalk lines and stitching on the black but the thread blends on the white and red.

Quilted--you can see the chalk lines and stitching on the black but the thread blends on the white and red.

The pictures embedded in this post show my testing process as I tried to figure out what design would work well on this top--I sketched it out on Golden Threads quilting paper first (the most sheer paper I had in my cabinet), but I didn't use the paper when I did my quilting. I just wanted to see how my design thoughts would help those black and white background squares feel like a single block. For the first few blocks, I did sketch out in chalk on the black fabric where my lines should be and based on that, was able to then keep track through the whole block of where I was headed. By the end of it, I no longer had to sketch anything out; I'd gotten into a rhythm of knowing where to aim next. (The last picture is quilted--you can see the chalk lines on that block, but you can't really see the thread in the white or red.)

My need to continue practicing free-motioning straight lines aside, this was a great way to figure out a nice quilting design quickly, and execute it almost as quickly. I'm glad I bought this class!

The Basics

  • 9 lessons, ranging from 3 minutes (the intro lesson) to 10 1/2 minutes. Although the lessons are quite short, she gives good information in a very concise manner. I still felt like I'd gotten my money's worth from this class.
  • The lessons include quilting starbursts, starburst variations, diamonds, diamond variations, lattices, lattice variations, and borders. The final lesson is a gallery that shows all of the designs used in a variety of ways. 
  • The class materials include the pattern for a quilt if you'd like to use that to do the class project; it then includes diagrams of all the designs she shows in class, and three examples of how the designs could be used in the class project quilt.

Again, I do recommend Dot-to-Dot Quilting with Angela Walters. It really helped me in figuring out possible quilt designs more easily. And now I've got a UFO nearly complete!

(Using Craftsy links in this post help support this podcast and blog. Thank you!)

 

Some promised pictures of pretty fibers

How was that for alliteration?

I'd talked in a recent podcast episode about the fibers I'd bought at the Fibre Garden in Jordan Village, Ontario (Canada). I'd said then that I'd post pictures...and then I got distracted by, oh, you know, work and life and such. 

So, belatedly but nonetheless still pretty...

Two bags of pulled sari silk*--one group is called "Paint Box" and the other is "Warm Tones." I can't wait to play with these. I'm not good enough at spinning yet to be able to spin slippery and shorter fibers, so I will be using these as embellishments somehow. (Oops--just realized one of the bags was upside down when I took the picture. Sorry if I'm messing with your perspective, there!)

The long tube of dyed roving is named "Sorbet." I'm not normally a pastelly-kind of girl but this one grabbed me for some reason. I imagine it'll spin beautifully.

 

 

I have already started spinning the other tube of dyed roving that I bought. I was anxious to test out the new, slightly heavier top-whorl spindle I bought at the shop. The new spindle does work better with the thickness of yarn I'm able to spin at this stage. The more I practice, the thinner yarn I can manage. For now, though, my yarn is still thick enough that it needs a spindle that'll stand up to it. 

This spindle also has a notch carved into the side of the whorl which has been tremendously helpful in holding the yarn in place as I'm spinning. (I tried to carve a notch into one of my other spindles but couldn't make a dent in the darn thing.) This spindle is also able to be used either as top or bottom whorl, which may come in handy, although I've not tried to use it as a bottom whorl yet so I don't know how well it works that way.

And that's it! Not a big quantity of stuff, but the roving allows for plenty of spinning play time so I'm definitely getting a lot of bang for my buck!

*If you've not heard of it before: "sari silk" is recycled silk fibers from old saris. They're all the rage now in the fiber arts world because they're just so darn yummy! I think this link will take you to some Google images of saris, and this link should take you to images of recycled sari silk fibers.

Thinkin' About It Thursday and Halloween Project

This week, I'm thinking...

  • How I'm unexpectedly filling in this weekend for a guest speaker who came down with a virulent flu this week and so today had to cancel her presence at the engagement.
  • That if it doesn't rain it'll be a nice drive tomorrow downstate to where the speaking engagement is being held, a drive through all sorts of fall color.
  • How I am looking forward to being with the group and I do always enjoy doing these kinds of engagements.
  • That I'm now doubly-glad I got a little sewing done yesterday during my comp day off after being gone for work last weekend too.
  • That I'm feeling good about using my Alexander Henry Ghastlies collection finally, even if I'm not using it the way I'd originally intended.
  • That my daughter will get a kick out of having Halloween pillowcases in her dorm room.
  • That I'm pretty sure my daughter doesn't read my blog. And if she does, well, oops--happy surprise Halloween gifty, baby girl.
  • That tonight I'm going to celebrate my son's birthday by dinner out with him, my husband, my son's roommate, my nephew, and my mother-in-law.
  • That it'll be a nice time even if at this point I'm pretty much heartily sick of restaurant meals.
  • How I'm going to make something homemade for dinner on Sunday to detox.
  • That after some last minute panic-fixes today to my visa application for my trip to Burma, I'm hoping that's now been settled too.
  • That I won't really relax about that until my passport and visa are back in my hands again.
  • That there's nothing I like better than the smell of leaves on the ground as I kick through them while walking the doggies, so I'm reminding myself to "just breathe."

By the way, just a brief mention that Craftsy is having a Halloween Flash Sale from Wed, 9/22 at 7p MT to Friday, Oct 24 at 11:59p MT. Fabric, yarn, and kits are on sale for up to 70% off. Use this link or click on the banner in this blog on the right to get to Craftsy to check it out. Using these links helps support this blog and podcast--thanks!

Craftsy Class Review: Pictures to Pixel Quilts with Caro Sheridan

Online Fabric Patterning with Wax Resist Class

And yes, that's not a typo--her name is Caro, not Carol.

Pictures to Pixel Quilts with Caro Sheridan is a free class that I picked up a long time ago. At the time, I was fascinated by pixel quilts and really thought I would do one. Since then, I've come to the conclusion that I'm unlikely to do one any time soon. I still enjoy them when I see them done by other people, but at the moment it's not my vibe. At any moment, however, that could change, so I decided my best move at this stage would be to watch all the lessons in this class so I'd know what was involved and have it available as a concept in my mental filing cabinet. Or my mental pot-o-bubbling-ideas-brewing-on-the-back-burner. Whichever is a more apt description. 

Watching Craftsy on my iPad while out of town

Watching Craftsy on my iPad while out of town

And then I was out of town for a week with a room to myself, which almost NEVER happens when I'm out of town for work (not for a whole week, anyway). So I took advantage of the alone time and watched the lessons when I got back to my room at night. I even had decent hotel WiFi--which also almost never happens.  

A "pixel quilt" is definitely a child of the digital age. If you're unfamiliar with the lingo, a pixel is a single unit of information in a digital photo; pixels are the dots which, when combined, make up the image on your screen. Photos are often referred to by their pixel size. The more pixels, the more image information. When a photo goes too low resolution (low pixel count) to be recognizable as it's original image, it's said to be "pixellated." That's when you see all those squares show up instead of the picture. This background information is important when you get to choosing what image you want to do in this style of class.

But first, let's start by saying that Caro Sheridan is a very personable teacher, although pretty low-key, low-energy. She's definitely got more of a dry wit presentation than bubbly bestie or kindergarten teacher or maternal figure like other teacher personalities can be. I'd taken another class from her on Craftsy, Shoot It: A Product Photography Primer, and you can find my review of that class here. Interestingly, as I recall, I also watched that one mostly while on vacation. Caro seems to travel quite a bit with me. In any case, I still enjoyed her this time around.

For a free class, this one is certainly meaty! Carol describes her whole process for making pixel quilts in great detail. She gives good examples of what kinds of photos work best for pixellating--which is where that information about what pixels are and how they work becomes useful. You need to choose an image that, when pixellated to whatever degree you want to pixellate it, will still be at least recognizeable as what it's an image of--unless you want to go abstract, which is always an option. But Carol sticks to using images that you can still tell what the image is, even when pixellated. 

Caro also talked about how to go about pixellating an image, walking you through the process step-by-step using one photo-editing software but giving enough general information that you should be able to figure out how to do it in whatever software you choose to use.  

And then she gets into spreadsheets. Oh, this woman is a spreadsheet maven! She teaches how to set up the spreadsheet, how to use formulas to help you color the spreadsheet as per your pixellated image, how to use that spreadsheet to then figure out the number of squares you need of each color, and so forth. I found myself taking notes on the spreadsheet part to apply to spreadsheets I use in my job--no pixellated images involved!  (She demonstrates the spreadsheet portions using Google Docs spreadsheets, which is free for anyone to use. So you don't have to own any particular spreadsheet software to use this process.)

But for you old-schoolers, she does also show how to do it using a graph paper and pencil. In fact, even her spreadsheet method still involves a certain amount of pencil work, so Luddites will be happy.  

Finally, she walks through calculations needed, organizational tips, and sewing units together. She doesn't get into quilting designs or finishing--you're on your own there. But for a free class, one can forgive this especially due to the amount of information provided for creating the quilt itself.

If you're into the idea of making a pixel quilt, I highly recommend watching this class all the way through before you start. I think knowing what's coming next will really help you make better decisions at the outset. It's a straightforward process, but not an altogether simple one. But you do get very cool results.

The Basics

  • It's free!
  • 6 lessons. Lesson 1 is just Craftsy's little sales pitch of less than one minute. Lessons 2-6 are the class itself.
  • Lesson 2 is 4 minutes long and introduces Caro and the concept of pixellated quilts.
  • Lessons 3-6 describe the process in detail: lessons range from 19 1/2 minutes to nearly 40 minutes long.
  • Lesson 3 gives fantastic help for what kind of photo will work well, and how to create your pattern from the photo. Lessons 4 and 5 are all about the spreadsheet and calculations. Lesson 6 is about fabric selection, organization, and assembly.
  • She talks at the beginning (maybe in lesson 2, but I can't remember for sure now) about her recommended number of colors to use and so forth, as well as in lesson 6, so fabric selection is touched on a couple of times. She's a big fan of Kona solids, but you can use whatever fabrics you choose. This type of quilt, though, is most effective when using solids. Even "read as solids" may be a hair too distracting to allow the pixellated image to read true.

I enjoyed watching Pictures to Pixel Quilts with Caro Sheridan, even if watching it mostly convinced me this isn't something I'm going to choose to do at the moment.

 

Fight the Funk Friday

So Friday, when this post goes live, I'll be fighting the funk by being on vacation with my husband. Our anniversary is actually in the middle of October but since I'll be away for work meetings that weekend, we're taking our anniversary celebration earlier this year.

In terms of exercise and health practices, however...

I didn't do as good a job getting back into my healthy habits this week as I'd hoped. My sleep schedule was all sorts of whacked after a week of late night conference calls last night; so this week I'd mostly planned on trying to get back into good sleep routines.

And then on Monday my filling broke again. Yep, same tooth, temporary filling after the root canal, suddenly half gone.

There wasn't a lot of pain involved, but it was very, very sharp and I was back to soft foods and barely chewing again. And I had another evening conference call. And there was just enough of a little bit of a twinge that...yep, Tylenol PM, getting to bed way too late, waking up overtired in the morning....

(Time warp moment here: I'm writing this Wednesday so I can have it auto-post while I'm gone. As of this writing, my dentist appointment is tomorrow morning to do a repair or, if he has enough time, go ahead and put on the temporary crown which wasn't originally going to happen until the end of October. So by the time you're reading this on Friday, I'm either back to having a temporary filling or I've already got a temporary crown--and I'm either able to open my mouth to eat or not, depending on how my TMJ issues get kicked in. No spoilers...you'll have to find out when I get back.)

Oct7canal.jpg

By Tuesday I knew I had to get myself moving somehow, even if it wasn't stellar, and finally got myself back into my canal walk habit. Sammy and I weren't breaking any speed records but I was keeping up a pretty decent, steady pace, and we've been doing our usual 2 1/4 miles of my standard route. Now that we're losing light earlier it's harder for me to get the 3 1/4 mile longer stretch in after work.

It's been cloudier this week so my canal pictures aren't quite as picturesque, but still, there's a certain still beauty to them.

 

This week the canal water was a really deep emerald green as opposed to its usual more olive cast. Gorgeous.

I love my canal, have I said that before?

And Sammy is still a good walking buddy except that there are a lot more squirrels out these days. Certain parts of the path are a little less meditative than they used to be.

By the way, here's another Fight the Funk recommendation. Remember when I talked about Republic of Tea's Peppermint Chocolate tea?

Well, I'm equally in love with their Red Velvet Cuppa Chocolate tea. Like the Peppermint Chocolate, this one is pure herbal, unsweetened, caffeine-free. And mighty tasty!

Thinkin' about It Thursday

(I'm writing this before Thursday as on Thursday I'll be in my car heading across the border for my anniversary weekend trip with my husband. So here's my compilation of thoughts for the week leading up to Thursday.)

This week, I'm thinking...

Niagara on the Lake 2013

Niagara on the Lake 2013

  • How much I love fall. Have I said that before?
  • That I'm really ready for my anniversary weekend trip with my husband this weekend.
  • How we seemed to spend as little time as possible together in the couple of weeks leading up to our weekend trip just to be darn sure we were really ready for our weekend away.
  • How we love it when the timing is such that we end up taking our vacation weekend in Canada the same weekend as Canadian Thanksgiving.
  • That we're sneaky that way, getting two Thanksgiving dinners in a row.
  • That it's good we're going away this weekend because nearly as soon as I get home, I'm gone again for a week-long work-trip.
  • How I'm so glad I got my postcard done for Sandi's postcard swap last weekend so it could be in the mail before I spend a lot of the rest of the month gone.
  • How unusual it is that I'm ahead of a quilting deadline.
  • "Whee!"
Hiking in Balls Falls area 2008

Hiking in Balls Falls area 2008

  • That I'll get a ton of steps in this weekend as we like to go hiking at Ball's Falls and catching the arts and crafts festival they hold every year on their Thanksgiving weekend.
  • That it's been hard keeping my mind on work all week as I've looked forward to my time away.
  • How I am so ready to be gone.
  • That I can't wait to kick through leaves and smell fall everywhere around me all weekend long.
  • Vacation, here I come!

My 3rd Quarter Resolution Check-in & September Craftsy Class Update

Craftsy Logo

I suppose it's only fitting that, since I did the August update in the beginning of September, I should do the September update in the beginning of October. At some point I'll get myself back on track!

We just completed the third quarter check-in on the 2014 Quilty Resolutions. My three "monkeys" were (1) Craftsy classes, (2) using my stash whenever possible, and (3) machine quilting. I've done great on #2, using my stash--I've bought very little fabric this year except borders, backing, and binding, and half the time I was even able to get that out of my stash as well. (No, I don't count buying PFD fabric since that's a supply for my hand-dyeing--it's in a different mental category for me.) Monkey #3 is related to monkey #1 since many of my Craftsy classes are on machine quilting. So my progress on #1 has a positive impact on achieving #3--and I've been going great guns on #1! I've had a bit of a slow-down in completions this summer but progress is still steady.

New Completions

(+ 3)

Classes in Progress

(2)

Classes added this month

(0--woo!)

Classes To Be Completed

Current count:  16 (-3 from last month)

Completed Classes (all topics)

Current count: 36 (+3)

(Usual transparency statement: This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links. Thanks for supporting this podcast and blog!)

Craftsy Class Review: Designing Modern Quilts with Weeks Ringle

Online Quilting Class

I feel like I'm a little behind in my Craftsy class reporting--I know I missed doing my update at the end of September. I'll catch up with that this week. 

Meanwhile, in the midst of all the cooking classes I've been having a ball with, I have done another quilt class. This one was a theory class rather than a project class, so I mostly watched the lessons and took notes. But more about that below.

Here's my review of Designing Modern Quilts with Weeks Ringle

The main thing to understand with this class is that although the phrase "modern quilts" is in the title, the information in the lessons applies across the board, regardless of the type of quilting you're doing. Weeks does give some definitions of modern quilts and modern design in lesson 2, and there are some design ideas towards the end that are related to modern quilt sensibilities more than traditional. Of course, all the quilts she uses as examples are modern quilts as well. Still n' all, even if you have no interest whatsoever in modern quilting, you'd learn quite a bit from this class and be able to apply it to your traditional or art quilts easily. (Lesson 9 is probably the most "modern-quilt specific" as it deals with deconstructed traditional blocks and moving beyond blocks altogether, which are definitely modern quilt material.)

Exploration on color inspiration from "Old Masters" paintings

Exploration on color inspiration from "Old Masters" paintings

There's no class project but she does include "explorations" in the material--exercises meant to help you practice the ideas from the lesson. Although I chose not to do most of the explorations myself because they were things I was already quite comfortable with or was already practicing in other ways, I enjoyed the fact that she incorporated a review of the explorations in the classes themselves, using other student samples from past classes. It's a helpful way for you to do your own practice and then compare it with what she describes from others' work, to get a feel for what you did well and where you may still need expanding.

I enjoyed Weeks Ringle's presence. I've been familiar with her and her husband Bill's work for years, and I have a slight recollection of having seen a lecture by the two of them some time ago at one of the Houston festivals I attended, but I definitely enjoyed the opportunity to experience her as a teacher. I'd love to be in an in-person class with her--I suspect she'd challenge you gently, if you will. In other words, she'd make you want to reach further than you're comfortable, but you'd feel like she was doing it with kid gloves. 

I can't say I had any earth-shattering insights from this class but I've been studying design pretty intensely for the last couple of years so Weeks was going over familiar ground for me. It does always help to see different types of examples of the same principles, though, just to broaden my vision of how things can play out. It's always worth getting the same information in a variety of ways to  help you understand it more deeply, so although all of this was known territory for me, I still think it was worth my time to go through her lessons to get a different perspective.

As stated above, this isn't a project class and there's really not much in the way of specific class projects even in the explorations. The explorations are meant to be done as tests, not completed quilts. The class materials include one pattern for a quilt if you're looking for something like that.

I'd definitely recommend this class if you're new to studying design principles. It's one of the few true design classes on Craftsy, so take advantage of it! I'd also recommend it even if you've done some studying of design and want to look at it from a different angle. 

And, if nothing else, there's tons of eye candy with her quilts!

The Basics

  • 10 lessons, ranging from 11 to nearly 40 minutes in length.
  • The introduction is a serious introduction. Weeks spends a little time telling you about herself, of course, but most of it is about the importance of studying design and how to lay your groundwork for the rest of the class. It's a 33 minute lesson, so you jump into the learning fast!
  • Lesson 2 is where she talks about what makes modern modern, and what is available to us today that wasn't available in generations past.
  • Lessons 3 and 4 address color theory, and although she covers the basics here (color wheel, color schemes and so forth), she does also talk about the messages that color sends, which is a nice touch.
  • Lesson 5 addresses using prints, which gives good information about benefits and challenges; lesson 6, on the flip side, is all about using solids.
  • Lessons 7 and 8 talk about composition and execution. I enjoyed the lesson on composition (over 40 minutes!) because, again, she talks about some basic information you've likely seen in other places but takes it in slightly different directions; lesson 8 also has a very helpful section on avoiding design pitfalls.
  • Lesson 9, as stated above, is one of the few that's probably more closely related to modern quilting than other lesson topics, because it's all about messing with tradition or going in completely new directions. 
  • Lesson 10 talks about quilting and finishing, but to be clear, you'll get a lot more information about quilting from classes devoted to that part of the process. That being said, in many of her examples throughout the whole class she also talks about the quilting motifs and why certain ones were chosen, so you get a lot of inspiration here.

And so, my final review of Designing Modern Quilts with Weeks RingleI'd give this class two thumbs up!

(Usual transparency statement: Using the Craftsy links in this post helps support this podcast and blog. Thanks!)

 

 

Announcing My New CafePress Store

I'm pleased to finally be able to announce that I now have a CafePress store up and running!

Check it out: www.cafepress.com/quiltingfortherestofus.

Sure, I've got some Quilting...for the Rest of Us logo items available if you want to join me in my morning coffee.

Or totebags for shop hops, or dufflebags and pajamas for retreats...

I was creating the logo items so I could order them myself, but if you'd like to have one too, the more the merrier!

But here's where I really had fun: Check out the sections of my store that have items featuring my photography.

In the "Landscapes and Florals" section, I have several great options for greeting cards, journals (notebooks), and other items. Some of the photos are used as straight photography; others have been edited using the Waterlogue app.

Several are seasonal. This image is my Fall Beauty collection, that includes a quotation from Albert Camus.

I also have some for winter, and one that wishes peace for the season. Plus there's just some fun florals and landscape images that would be a bright spot any time of year.

And then there's what I have to confess is my favorite section, the one titled simply: "Dogs."

Yep, you too can have the Doofus come to visit you in a variety of forms.

Right now I'm featuring a series I've entitled "Happy Dog." This photo was taken on one of this summer's canal walks. This watercolor version of the photo makes a great greeting card, notecard cover, or padfolio, or you can even get him as a dog tag. Your pet and Sammy can take walks together every day! (It also works great on a keychain, which is where I've got mine.)

I'll be periodically adding new images and new products, but there's plenty enough to check out right now!

Visit www.cafepress.com/quiltingfortherestofus to see what I've got available, and bookmark it so you can keep an eye on what's new!

By the way, while you're on CafePress, be sure to also check out our friend Jaye of www.artquiltmaker.com. She's got a Cafepress store too: www.cafepress.com/artquiltmaker. You can include items from both our stores in a single checkout process.

 

Fight the Funk Friday

Oops. I've missed what...one week? Two weeks?...of posting for Fitness Friday. That is not entirely indicative of my level of activity the last couple of weeks, but it's probably not too far off. I've had some great days step-wise, and I've had a couple of days where I got other kinds of exercise that didn't rack up the steps (snorkeling, anyone?). But still, with travel and being knocked for a loop by that darn root canal last week, things weren't good overall. This week I've been trying to get back into some healthier routines again, although it's been tricky because this has been the Week of Conference Calls. My organization is hosting a special online week-long educational experience with conference calls every night at 9p that I facilitate, with guest speakers n' all. Plus I've had a boatload of conference calls during the day for other matters, which means I'm behind on other deadlines, which means working late, which means not having enough time between end of work and beginning of conference call to get to the gym or have my usual canal walks.

Sigh.

I will say, though, that even when I wasn't getting my exercise in, I've been working on other ways to "fight the funk," paying attention to general self-care and healthy practices. Sometimes something like having your jaw lock up on you for several days on end after a dental procedure is a bit of a wake-up call. 

Anyway, I've been trying to get outside every chance I get. Soon enough we'll lose the sun entirely for months on end in my part of the world, and I'll have little choice but to be in the gym several days a week. For now, I'm putting an emphasis of soaking up that Vitamin D, plus helping Sammy get some exercise in before he goes winter-dormant, the big galooph.

The one day I did get out for a walk on the canal, it was beautiful.

The one day I did get out for a walk on the canal, it was beautiful.

Next week Friday I'll be on my anniversary weekend trip, racking up the steps but unable to blog about it. And the week after that I'll be out of town for meetings again, probably not doing much in the way of steps as I'll be on my butt in a conference room chair. So sorry, Ozzypip, I won't be linking up for the next couple of weeks...but I'll come back, I promise!

For today, though, linking up with Philippa's Fitness Friday linky party!


Thinkin' About It Thursday

This week, I'm thinking...

  • how much I love fall.
  • that I haven't done a Thinkin' About It Thursday post in awhile.
  • that it's nice to have a week where I'm home, I'm relatively healthy, and I can be back in a routine.
  • that I need to decide what I'm doing for an appetizer for my IL's clambake on Saturday.
  • that I don't like clams.
  • that I don't like any shellfish.
  • that I'm still willing to take one for the team and make an appetizer involving crab meat that others might like so I can play with a new homemade pasta recipe I've been wanting to try, 'cause lemon pepper pasta just sounds like it's tailor-made for seafood accompaniments.
  • how maybe I'll still make a second appetizer that my husband and I would both want to eat.
  • that my husband is the one who suggested having a clambake just to get the family together, even though he doesn't like shellfish either.
  • how ironic that is.
  • how maybe I'll make a second appetizer that only I'd really like to eat and make him stew in his own clam juices.
  • that I love getting together with family, but I really don't like clams. Or shellfish. 
  • that I'm actually getting time in at my sewing machine this week.
  • that I'm having a ball working on my postcard for Sandi's fall postcard swap. 
  • that it's still nice enough outside that I can get some canal walks in with the Doofus. 
  • how much I love fall.

Craftsy Class Review: Cooking Essentials: All About Chicken, with Marge Perry

Two reviews in one week! Bonus! Actually, I completed both of these classes some time ago and just haven't had the time to post reviews of them until now.

Here's another basic technique class, but this time it's all focused on one particular meat that I use a lot in my house: chicken. I actually like chicken quite a bit and don't get bored with it the way a lot of folks do, but even so, it's always worth picking up a few new recipes and tricks to keep things interesting.

Earlier this summer I picked up Marge Perry's Cooking Essentials: All About Chicken when it was on sale. I watched all the lessons during a period of time when I actually didn't have much time to cook (or quilt, or anything else for that matter). The lessons were a good length to watch on my iPad while I was eating breakfast or lunch, making mental note of things I wanted to try out later once my schedule eased up a bit. 

Roast chicken using Perry's methods--and a variation on her recipe with a mix of lemons, garlic, and fresh rosemary under the skin with salt and pepper on top. Some of the lemons snuck out from under the skin and charred just a bit on the top, but everything else was perfect--the skin was crispy and the chicken moist. Yum.

Roast chicken using Perry's methods--and a variation on her recipe with a mix of lemons, garlic, and fresh rosemary under the skin with salt and pepper on top. Some of the lemons snuck out from under the skin and charred just a bit on the top, but everything else was perfect--the skin was crispy and the chicken moist. Yum.

Finally, I had a Saturday free--and it was a cooler day so I was ready to turn my oven on. Roast chicken seemed just the ticket, so I took advantage of the opportunity to put one of Perry's lessons from the class to work.

I've been roasting chicken for pretty much my entire cooking career, since both my husband and I really like it. (He's also an old hand at roasting chicken and will often make one for himself if I'm out of town.) If I recall, one of the very first dinners we made after we got back from our honeymoon was a roast chicken. In more recent years I've been playing around with different seasoning rubs, stuffing various things under the skin, and so forth. I didn't think Marge Perry would have much to teach me about a roast chicken. But oh, I was wrong. One simple change made a world of difference. Thanks, Marge! I'll be doing it like that from now on!

Each lesson focuses on a particular part of the chicken or taking the chicken as a whole. Each lesson also has a recipe it uses for that part and she walks you through many of the steps for that recipe. If you're looking for techniques and recipes, this is a great class. For myself, I would've liked a little more information on what other types of preparations work well for that particular part of the chicken; for example, qualities of that part that make it work better with certain types of preparations than others, or certain flavor profiles than others, that kind of thing. I am at a stage of cooking in which I far prefer to build my own recipes and want more information that will help me do that, rather than how to follow someone else's recipes.

Still, I did pick up a few good tricks on cooking with chicken in general from this class and, now that we've officially entered fall and cooler weather and more kitchen-based-cooking, I'm looking forward to testing out more of her techniques in the weeks to come.

After all, I just can't resist doing something named "spatchcocking." Don't know what that is? There's a whole lesson on it in the class!

Because this is a technique class, they've created it so you can dive in for one lesson and get everything you need to know for that technique without having had to watch any of the others. That means that there's some foundational information that gets repeated every time. After watching two or three of the lessons, I was quoting along with her how to measure the temperature of the chicken for doneness. But, still, that's not a bad thing to have drilled into my head.

On a scale of 1-10, I think I'd rate this class around a 7, maybe a 7 1/2 for me. But that's just because I want more cooking freedom, as it were. From the perspective of someone who's just starting out, or hasn't done much with chicken, or enjoys learning new recipes, this would probably be more like an 8 1/2 or a 9. She is a very good teacher, very polished but accessible, and the recipes do all sound quite tasty to me, even if I'm unlikely to use them as-is myself.

The Basics

  • 9 lessons. The first lesson is about a minute and a half of introduction. Lessons 2 through 9 range from 4 minutes to about 12 1/2 minutes.
  • The lessons cover boneless breasts, bone-in breasts, wings, thighs, drumsticks, spatchcocking, the whole bird, and how to cut up a bird--and that last lesson ends with best practices for hand-washing.
  • Each lesson is built around a particular recipe for that part, so there's a lemon butter sauce, a stuffing recipe, a sauce for wings, and so forth. 
  • The class materials include 7 recipes--all of which are covered in the class, if I recall, though there may be a throw-in that's not in a lesson. 

Cooking Essentials: All about Chicken with Marge Perry: again, somewhere between a 7-8 for me, but likely an 8-9 for others who are looking for more specific direction. In either case, definitely worth checking out!

(Using Craftsy links in this post helps support this blog and podcast--thank you!)

Craftsy Class Review: 20 Essential Cooking Techniques with Brendan McDermott

As I'd mentioned in a blog post awhile back, I had submitted a request to Craftsy some time ago to do some basic cooking technique classes aimed at new cooks--thinking especially of my kids and nieces and nephews who all are a lot more interested in food and cooking than I was at their age. Some of them have done in-person cooking classes with me but because of random work schedules, college, and little bitty babies in their respective lives, they don't always have time to haul themselves to a cooking school. Video lessons are the perfect answer. I was thrilled to get an email from Craftsy saying that my request had now been answered. Enter Brendan McDermott--one of my fave Craftsy teachers to date--and 20 Essential Cooking Techniques with Brendan McDermott. Since I'd helped make it happen, I figured I had to buy it myself.

And I'm glad I did!

Hardboiled eggs done perfectly--not over or under done. These turned into egg salad.

Hardboiled eggs done perfectly--not over or under done. These turned into egg salad.

Even a woman who's been scrambling eggs for [ahem] years can learn a few new tricks.

My recent dental issues meant I was having to restrict myself for days on end to soft, mushy foods. I had plenty of opportunities to use skills I'd learned from the class on homemade pasta I'd taken a few weeks ago, but I needed to keep protein in my diet so I started eating a lot more eggs than usual. This class has two entire lessons on eggs and walks through hard-boiled, poached, fried, scrambled, and omelettes. 've done most of those things...a lot...for a lot of years. The only two I hadn't done successfully were poached and omelettes--my poached ended up stringy and my omelettes ended up scrambled. But I always liked my scrambled eggs.

 

Poached eggs--yums.

Poached eggs--yums.

Still, boredom with soft foods made me willing to try new techniques just to do something different. And this old dog learned a few new tricks! Following his methods, my hard-boiled egg was perfectly done, my poached egg was beautiful, my scrambled eggs were extra fluffy, and my omelette stayed omelette-y!  

Brendan McDermott is fun to listen to, although his humor isn't quite as evident in this class as it was in his free knife skills class. (See my review of that one here.) His teaching style is relaxed, and he explains the whys behind the hows. I feel like I understand why certain techniques work better now than I did before, even where they were techniques I was already using.

The lessons are each meant to be stand-alone--in other words, their working assumption in the class is that someone should be able to dip in, watch one lesson, and get all the information they need for that one technique without having missed anything from a previous lesson. This means that if, instead, you watch all or many of the lessons in a row, you will hear certain foundational information over and over. I can pretty much quote Brendan's instructions about heating oil verbatim now. But it's good information, so it's not bad to have it drilled into my head. 

Steak and shredded cheddar omelette, with the steak diced very, very small as I was testing whether I could handle chewables yet.

Steak and shredded cheddar omelette, with the steak diced very, very small as I was testing whether I could handle chewables yet.

I've watched most of the lessons at this point and plan on using his techniques for making clarified butter (something I've never done), and I'll be making fish for dinner tonight based on his lesson on working with fish and shellfish. 

Can you tell that I really enjoy Craftsy's cooking classes--perhaps even more than the quilting ones? I know, that's nearly blasphemy to admit on a quilting blog. But there you go. 

This is not a recipe-oriented class like other technique classes are. He does give some very simple, quick instructions for pan sauces and the like as he's talking through the techniques. The class materials, however, do include 6 recipes, only a few of which I remember him mentioning in the class itself. This truly is a technique class. I didn't miss the recipes at all, though I will be using one of the quick pan sauces he does with my fish tonight--it's a way to make something just a little more special and flavorful without taking any more time or dirtying any other dishes. FTW.

I recommend this class particularly for newbie or less confident cooks, of course. But I also recommend it for anyone who is interested in tweaking their techniques after a lot of years of cooking. There's a lot of good information packed into each lesson. And, again, Brendan McDermott is a really good teacher--easy to listen to, explains everything well, and with a deadpan humor that I enjoy.

The Basics

  • 9 lessons; the first lesson is just an introductory piece about a minute long. The other 8 lessons range from 9 1/2 minutes to nearly 40 minutes.
  • Lesson 2 lays the foundation with "Enhancing Flavors," explaining how to toast various spices and nuts, clarifying butter, and making infused butters. Lessons 3 and 4 are about eggs--hard-boiling, poaching, frying (sunny-side up and over-easy), scrambling, and omelette, plus tips on how to tell if an egg is fresh and so forth. Lesson 5 covers blanching and shocking vegetables, lesson 6 is working with chicken, lesson 7 is making stock, lesson 8 is fish and shellfish, and lesson 9 is pork tenderloin.

So, my final verdict on 20 Essential Cooking Techniques with Brendan McDermott: Two thumbs up!

(Note: Using the Craftsy and Amazon links on this post help support this podcast and blog. Thanks so much!)

2014 Quilty Resolutions Third Quarter Check-In

It's that time again! Check in here with your progress on your 2014 Quilty Resolutions to date!

If you've participated in my quilty resolutions challenge, click here to remind yourself what your resolutions were.

If you didn't participate in my original quilty resolutions challenge, that's fine! Just check in on what your progress has been on your own quilt-related goals for 2014.

I'll be drawing a name at random from the Rafflecopter widget below on Sunday, October 5. The winner will get these four lovely fat quarters!

(Grrrr. We're in an animal mood these days.)

 

For some of you, this will be a two-step process. For others, only one!

First step for everyone: Leave a comment on this blog post with your progress, and then make sure you enter the giveaway via the Rafflecopter widget immediately below. (I'll only see your name through Rafflecopter for the drawing, I won't be trying to count up names in the comments.)

Use this Rafflecopter widget through Saturday, October 4. I'll draw the winner on Sunday, October 5.

Second step for bloggers: If you've got a blog, write about your progress on your quilty resolutions and link up here! To enter the linky party, click on the froggie-fella below and follow the directions. (Remember, you still have to enter the Rafflecopter giveaway above. This linky party is just so others know about your blog and can come for a visit!) No fears--participating in the linky party does NOT earn bloggers an additional leg-up than non-bloggers in the giveaway. It's just for kicks n' giggles!

For everyone--click on the link to the linky party below to see who-all has linked up, and go read their blogs! It'll be good times!

 

The giveaway and linky party both close on Saturday night, October 4th, at midnight my time. I'll be doing my drawing on Sunday, October 5th. Again, I'll only draw from names entered in the Rafflecopter widget so be sure, after you've left a comment on this blog, that you go back into that Rafflecopter widget to say that you've left a comment!

I'll be posting my own progress in a separate blog post. Looking forward to seeing yours!

Banned Books Week--My Challenge Project

Home again, home again, jiggity jig--so now it's time to talk about my own Banned Books Week project. Admittedly, it's a bit weird as quilt projects go, and it's not going to be numbered among my favorites, but I had a lot of fun putting it together and got to play with some new stuff. So it's all good.

This year, instead of doing a book I'd already read, a few months ago I looked over the lists of banned and challenged lists to choose one that I'd not read before. I landed on the book The Complete Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi. I chose this book for two reasons: The subject matter of the book is one close to my heart, addressing issues of women's freedoms, education, and oppression; and it also has a fantastic story of the attempted ban of this book in a school district and how the ban was fought by students themselves.

The Complete Persepolis is an autobiography in two volumes done as a graphic novel. Satrapi describes her life in Tehran during and after the revolution in 1979, an event which occurred when Satrapi was nine. Satrapi was the only child of two avant-garde parents who were very committed to the liberal education of their daughter. Prior to the revolution, Satrapi attended a French-Persian bilingual coed school. After the revolution the children were put into gender-exclusive schools with a curriculum subject to the revolutionaries' educational mandates. Satrapi describes the oppression, violence, and fear that she and her friends experienced daily. She's very honest about the impact that kind of setting also had on her and her friends, how they began to pick up on the violence themselves, and how it affected their relationships. The second volume of the book describes her high school years when her parents sent her to Vienna with relatives in fear for her safety, and her return to Tehran for college.

This book was removed by a district directive from all Chicago public schools in 2013 due to concerns about graphic illustrations, language, and student readiness for the subject matter. As word spread about the directive, the students themselves created a multi-media campaign including social media, writing articles for student newspapers, staging protests, checking out all the copies of the book from the school libraries, contacting the author, and appearing on local radio and TV programs. Eventually the directive was reversed and the book remained on reading lists and on the shelves in the school system.

I was taken strongly by the irony that a book about freedom would be banned. And I was taken strongly by the fact that the students who got it reinstated would so excellently show freedom in action. Students of Chicago rock! I'm proud of you!

And so...with all that background...let me now introduce you to...

"Subversion" 

Subversion.jpg

The image that inspired my project is from the second volume that describes Satrapi's experience as a young adult art student in Tehran.

"We confronted the regime as best we could," she says. "In 1990, the era of grand revolutionary ideas and demonstrations was over. Between 1980 and 1983, the government had imprisoned and executed so many high-school and college students that we no longer dared talk politics. Our struggle was more discreet. It hinged on the little details. To our leaders, the smallest thing could be a subject of subversion. Showing your wrist. A loud laugh. Having a Walkman. In short...everything was a pretext to arrest us. I even remember spending an entire day at the committee because of a pair of red socks. The regime had understood that one person leaving her house while asking herself: 'Are my trousers long enough? Can my make-up be seen? Is my veil in place? Are they going to whip me?' No longer asks herself: 'Where is my freedom of thought? Where is my freedom of speech? My life, is it livable? What's going on in political prisons?'....Showing your hair or putting on makeup logically became acts of rebellion."

subversionsockdetail.jpg

I was really struck by the image of red socks as a symbol of protest and subversion.

The socks are composed of a variety of fabrics to represent the freedom of diversity of human expression.

I wanted her feet to be in motion, symbolizing Satrapi's travels, as well as her ability to move forward through life despite obstacles.

I also created "stones" that both depict a street in a realistic way at the same time that they represent obstacles that those under oppression face, stumble over, and need to overcome to survive.

I'd had the image of the socks in my head for several months before I had time to actually sit down and create this project. As images in our heads tend to do, it kept getting more and more complex over time. At first, I was going to just do a basic fused applique of red socks under a fused applique black garment. Then I wanted to add stones. Then I wanted to do a dimensional garment using stiffened fabric. Then I wanted to make the socks out of scraps. Then I wanted all of the pieces to be dimensional. Yep--every one of those pieces is a 3D piece with batting, each its own little unit.That's why I took the pictures outside, so you could see the shadows the pieces cast. (All the fabrics except what's in the socks are my own hand-dyes, although that doesn't symbolize anything except they worked best for the parts I used them on.)

Each step created it's own issues I had to solve--not the least of which was how to attach everything to the quilt! I'll talk about that a little more in my podcast episode (hopefully tonight) because it's probably something better explained verbally than having an even longer blog post than this already is. 

I neglected to spread the word locally about Banned Books Week this year (it was a busy summer, but I feel terrible!) so mine is the only project being displayed in my local public library. I handed it over to my guild-friend-librarian and said, "Have fun figuring out how to hang this thing up." She solved the problem by mounting it on foam board. Brilliant woman!

Don't forget to check out everyone else's Banned Books Week quilts in the Flickr group! You've got through Saturday to enter yours. I'll be doing my drawing on Sunday; Tanesha will be doing hers on Sunday as well--she's got some great stuff in her giveaway too so be sure to check it out!. 

By the way--missed it this year? You can start thinking now about Banned Books Week in September 2015--this seems to have become an annual thing for us!

 

...Aaaand It's Banned Books Week! Time for a giveaway!

Yep, today officially starts Banned Books Week.

If you recall from this post back in August, Tanesha of CraftyGardenMom podcast and I are co-hosting the Banned Books Week quilt challenge and giveaway!

I'm pre-posting this blog post right before skipping town for a work event, so I'll be keeping it short and announcing my giveaway on this post and then sometime mid-week (after I'm home again) I'll show my own BBW project which will be hanging in my local public library during Banned Books Week.

Anyone who completes a challenge fabric project for Banned Books Week and posts their picture of it in the BBW Flickr group at this link will be eligible to win in either Tanesha or my giveaways. We'll each be drawing from the same pool of entrants so yes, indeed, it is possible to win twice!

I will be giving away (drum roll please...)

Two gift certificates at $15 each for Powells.com.

(That's two winners, each getting $15 a piece.)

The gift certificates will be emailed to you and you can use them at the Powell's website.

What's Powell's? Only one of the world's best bookstores!

The brick n' mortar is in Portland, Oregon. I had the opportunity to visit there years ago while in Portland for work. It's a pretty amazing place.

The website, although not quite as great as being able to walk through shelves of books smelling like...well...books (best smell in the world!), is pretty dang cool too.

And it just seemed fitting to encourage people to buy more books to celebrate Banned Books Week.

So post your photos to Flickr, and if you talk about your project on your blog, leave the link to your blog post in the description of the photo in Flickr. (Be sure to label your photos for 2014 since we're using the same group as last year.)

The drawing will close on Sunday, September 28.

Can't wait to see what you've come up with!