Thinkin' about It Thursday

This week, I'm thinking about...

  • How good routine feels. 
  • That when I have an overwhelming list of projects to accomplish for work, breaking them down into little, concrete subtasks and just plowing through those tasks, checking each one off as "complete" gives me a better sense of control and feels much less overwhelming.
  • That yes, I sometimes put things I've already done on my to-do list just so I can check them off as "complete" to make myself feel better.
    • Because sometimes, we'll do anything we can to feel less overwhelmed.
  • That once in awhile, it's nice to catch sunrise.

2015 Quilty Resolution--January Journal Quilt Done

So the one thing I've always wanted to do that I hadn't done yet--my 2015 Quilty Resolution challenge--is to make one journal quilt per month in 2015. 

Several years ago, there was a national quilt challenge named "Journal Quilts."  I was first introduced to the Journal Quilt project when I went to the International Quilt Festival in Houston with my mother in 2005 (if I can believe the festival pin that's sitting in my sewing cabinet). I fell in love. I spent more time in that exhibit than in any other part of the show. I even bought the book. I highly recommend it--I've spent a lot of time with that book over the years.

I'm using my journal quilts as experimental fun. My personal rules are:

  • Each one will be 8 1/2" x 11" (based on the original Journal Quilt challenge size).
  • Each one will be an opportunity to experiment with something I've not done before or want more experience with.
  • I won't take too much time with them--they'll be spontaneous and fun, even if they ever end up dealing with more serious themes.
  • I won't worry about the product, just the process. If it turns out looking like cr*p but I had fun and learned something, it's all good.

For January's journal quilt, I really wanted to try my hand at using sheers. I've seen it done, I've read about it a lot, I've just never done it myself. Just as I was starting to think about it, I saw an article on sheer collages in Art Quilting Studio magazine Winter 2015 (the same issue that our very own #twilter Carol McDowell is in!) and I was off and running.

For my image inspiration, all I had to do was remember the glorious sunsets I'd seen in Burma, especially in Bagan. It's probably the most famous tourist spot in Burma and I can see why although my personal favorite was somewhere else, but that'll wait for another blog post. We spent one evening on top of Shewsandaw Pagoda--famous for its sunset-viewing opportunities.

Shwesandaw Pagoda--all of the sunset photos are mine; the photo of the steps up the pagoda was taken by one of my friends.

Shwesandaw Pagoda--all of the sunset photos are mine; the photo of the steps up the pagoda was taken by one of my friends.

Rather than lock myself into trying to represent a single image, I didn't even look at the photos before I started working on my journal quilt. I wanted something that would capture the shadowing of the landscape, and also give some sense of the immensity of that pagoda and the insanely steep/high stairs you had to climb to the top. So I mentally compiled all the images in my memory and abstracted a bit from there.

And thus: January's Journal Quilt "Sunset in Bagan" is complete.

In the name of "getting over myself," I didn't sketch anything out ahead of time. First, I fused backing to a piece of batting, and then I put fusible on the front of the batting as well. I free-hand cut most of the fabric pieces although I did loosely sketch the pagoda shape on the cloth, but in cutting it I didn't really follow my own lines so it was still spontaneous. Then I just laid things out as they looked good to me, and did a quick fuse-tack to get it all in place. The fabrics for the background and pagoda are all my own hand-dyes.

I used a piece of nubby silk for the sun and highlights on the sky fabrics. Finally: the sheers. I only ended up using two as I didn't want to entirely lose the fabrics behind. There's a darker burgundy sheer that I layered in a way that reminded me of the mists drifting through the valley--you can see a couple of strips of it in the photo on the left. IT's got a beautiful gold sheen to it that just very barely comes out in the finished product. 

Then I layered a very light gold sheer with a bit of sparkle to it over the whole top, again because it reminded me of the mist on the valley. I used a fusible spray on the burgundy sheer because I was afraid my Misty Fuse would show through. I was a little concerned when I first put the spray on but it did dry entirely invisibly. I didn't fuse the overlay sheer--just pinned it to hold it in place until I quilted it. 

For quilting, once again, I made myself just haul off and start quilting lines. Oh, but I wanted to draw it out first! Still, the name of the game was "experimental fun" so I just did something that represented the stairs and the different levels on the pagoda that you could stand on to view the sunset (we were on the top one). The background just got swirlies and lines to show rolling ground and a slight breeze.

Finally, I did a zig-zag to stabilize the outside edge and then couched yarn as a binding*. One pass of yarn looked kind of skimpy, so I went through a second time with another round of yarn. Bingo! I really like how that turned out.

So when I compared my finished product to the photos, did I get the shape of the pagoda exactly right? Nope. Do the stairs really stand out in my quilting as much as they do in the photo? Nope. 

But do I care? Nope. 

I had a ball. And I got to play with my hand-dyes and with sheers. And I learned a few things in the process. 

So the January Journal Quilt experiment is a success!

*Thanks to Carol Ann Waugh's Stupendous Stitching class on Craftsy--I first learned this technique when I did her class last year. (The link to her class is an affiliate link--thanks for supporting this podcast and blog! The second link is to my review of the class.)

Scrap-in-a-Box (Scrapitude 2015)--Step 1 reporting in

Okay, you may recall me talking about my "secret project" that I was working on last summer, that really wasn't actually all that secret. I was working my way through Charlotte's 2015 Scrapitude mystery quilt "Scrap-in-a-Box" as a pattern tester/mystery tester  last summer so that I'd be prepared to have everything on my blog this year when she was ready to go.

And then she was able to launch her own blog. Woo hoo for yoooo, Charlotte! I was thrilled! And I immediately ceased work on the final stages of Scrap-in-the-box knowing that I'd be able to catch up with everyone once y'all got to play along too. I had a few other pressing-need-projects to refocus on at that point, and I thought it would be more fun to do the last couple of steps in a crowd.

Unfortunately, because I'd originally been taking pictures with the intention of posting steps, I have great photos of individual units under my sewing machine, but not the nice reveal of all the completed units for any one step. And after having worked through the mystery steps with me, Charlotte changed them up a bit so my unit photos don't always match what you're actually going to be doing--at least, in terms of what units get done when. 

So this is all I have to show you for Step 1. One measly unit.

But really, I did get all 82 of those units done; it was just a long time ago and they all got...well...I can't really tell you now, can I? 

Be sure you've subscribed to Charlotte's blog to get the rest of the Scrapitude steps: scrapitudequilts.com.  The next one is released on February 10, 7:00 p.m. Eastern (or thereabouts). You'll also want to check out one of her recent posts on what "random but pleasing" means--great information!

 

Mad Quilt Scientist Walks Again--Snow Dyeing

When life hands you lemons, you make lemonade.

When life hands you bales of snow...

When I started feeling somewhat better from the Great Sinus Infection of 2015, I decided I could probably handle doing a little dyeing. It's been a long while since I've been in my dye studio in the basement, so after I did a little cleaning up and removing of cobwebs (!) I made good use of the dogs' time outside and filled up three buckets of snow while they were snuffling about. 

This is not the first time I've snow-dyed, but last year when I did it, I followed directions on on a few blogs that all said about the same thing, but I wasn't pleased with the results. Most snow-dye instructions I've found call for creating the dye concentrate with water first, then using the water dye on the snow. Well, what happens when you take a water-based dye and let it melt with snow? Of course--it dilutes. I got very pale pastels. Pastels are all well and good but I like a little more saturation, so this time I did what I do with ice dyeing--I just dumped that dye powder right on top of the snow.

It does, indeed, use up more dye powder that way but hey, I only do this a couple of times a year so I'm okay with that. 

I did three different color combos and three different folds on the fabrics (one yard each). 

The first was fuschia and intense blue, and I folded the fabric in quarters lengthwise and then did a loose pleat.

The second was stormy grey, old rose, and boysenberry, and I spiraled the fabric.

The third was turquoise, lemon yellow, and tangerine, and I just scrunched it up.

So here's what I remembered while I was rinsing the fabric. Turquoise and tangerine are pretty close to being complementary colors, which means that mixing them gives you something in the neighborhood of brown or gray.

I'd been thinking more about the turquoise and yellow, and about the tangerine and yellow, without really thinking through the tangerine and turquoise. So, this isn't the most attractive end result but I already have some ideas for possible overdye designs I might do. (I like a nice neutral but I'd want it a little more intentional and not just muddy like this.)

 

And here's what I learned: Boysenberry is an aggressive little fella. I used more gray and rose than I did boysenberry--I just barely dotted the boysenberry on there. But it ran amuck.

I was surprised with the amount of light I ended up with in the middle (a very pale gray-purple with one bright random splotch showing). I thought I'd spun it more loosely than that. However, I can play with that, so no worries there. I don't mind this result at all--it's just not what I was picturing it would be. But that's what I like about hand-dyeing. There's always that surprise element involved.

 

Finally, the fuschia and intense blue combination--this one I knew what I'd get, more or less. There's a lot less variability when you're only working with two colors.

Because of the way it was folded and pleated, one end has more blue than the other. I'd planned on cutting all of these into fat quarters but I'm thinking this one will probably do better has half yard pieces so each piece would have both blue and pink; the spiral one above will stay as a whole piece; and the muddy mess at the top needs more work done on it anyway.

It was fun to be in my dye studio again, but I want to actually have a plan for my next dye session so I've got to do some thinking first. Plus, I think it's time for me to break out the wax resist (batik) supplies...

January Block for 2015 Craftsy BOM with Jinny Beyer

Yep, it's all hand-pieced. 

Nope, it didn't convert me to hand-piecing. 

Or templates. 

It came out to around 9 1/4" instead of the required 9 1/2", something that a lot of people in the class said in their message boards, so it's a common issue. I had measured my PDF print-out of the templates quite carefully, so that wasn't the problem. I suspect it had to do with the multitude of error possibilities in the template process that I talked about on my podcast, plus when I was hand-piecing I was stitching right on the lines, whereas perhaps I should've been doing scant seam allowances instead. Who knows?

templates and pieces marked

templates and pieces marked

I'm very tempted to rip it all out and re-do it by machine to see if I could get it closer to the required size, but I've decided to wait until after February's blocks--there's two of them--to see what size those measure out to. There are some bias edges involved, and I don't think I've got enough fabric to recut pieces, so it would be almost more of a risk to take everything apart and re-do it. Hence, pushing the pause button and adopting a "wait-and-see" attitude.

I'll be doing February's blocks by machine. Although I did get into a groove and had pretty even stitches after the first couple of pieces, I just didn't find the process Zen enough to warrant taking that long on a single block again. I withheld my final judgment until I saw the finished block--I was willing to decide it would be the way to go if my final block were somehow a better or at least equal product to what I can do by machine. Ahem. Nope.

Yes, it's possible to sew a piece on upside down even when "slow quilting" (snail's pace) by hand. At least it's easier to rip the seams out!

Yes, it's possible to sew a piece on upside down even when "slow quilting" (snail's pace) by hand. At least it's easier to rip the seams out!

I know, I'd get better and more accurate if I kept doing it by hand, I'm sure. But here's the thing--ya gotta wanna. I'm not sure I'm particularly interested in becoming an expert hand-piecer. 

I'm still doing hand-work with the embroidery, so I've got plenty of TV-ready work to do. Meanwhile, I'm a machine-piecing-girl at heart, as it turns out. Not overly a surprise.

Meanwhile, I've got some snow-dyeing happening in the basement. Feels good to be playing with dyes again! 

Fight the Funk Friday--Feel Good Edition

Because yes, finally this week, I feel good.  

Holy freakin' cow. This took awhile. I thought I was doing pretty well last week Thursday, but when I had to fly for work on Friday, I had a set-back due to having to jog/speedwalk from Chicago's B terminal to F terminal in 10 minutes. By the time I got onto my plane, I was back to coughing and in pretty bad shape the rest of the day. The waitress at the airport restaurant in Kansas City where a few of us had lunch while we were waiting for the rest of the team to arrive slipped me a couple of Dayquil "Severe" and the team made me take a nap when we checked into the hotel a little later. Fortunately, I was doing somewhat better by the next morning, and by Sunday I was back to feeling on the road to recovery again. No sprints needed during my flights home, so we're good to go.

So--I had Tuesday as a comp day and was able to get to the gym for the first time in weeks. And it went very well. Plus I've started dragging my eating habits back into the healthy zone again. So all-in-all, not a bad end to a week with a very shaky beginning. 

Exercise

Tuesday: 35 mins cardio/cool down, 15 mins weights (core)  Total: 10,359 steps, 14 flights of stairs (gym, running errands, and getting snow dyeing set up in the basement added in a few flights).

From my plane window, somewhere over Missouri, heading home. It was nearly 60 there--arrived home to under 30 degrees and snow.

From my plane window, somewhere over Missouri, heading home. It was nearly 60 there--arrived home to under 30 degrees and snow.

Wednesday: no time for the gym, but I used an app on my phone (Stand Up) to remind me to get up and move around every hour, plus I stood up during part of one conference call and side-stepped back and forth--the most movement I can do while my headphones are plugged into the USB on my computer. With the extra effort, I made almost 5,000 steps compared to my usual lucky-if-I-break-2000 when I'm just sitting at my desk with no errands to run.

Thursday: no time for gym again, unfortunately. (See below about Wed and Thurs schedules.) I tried to do the walking thing again but got really involved in some intense work that had to be done by the end of the day so I wasn't able to take quite as many breaks. Hence, I only got in about 4000 steps.

 Eating/Cooking

I made an all-Weight Watchers recipe dinner on Tuesday. Thumbs up on the Dijon Pork Chops, thumbs down on the potatoes and the broccoli recipes. But at least it was healthy. 

Wednesday and Thursday were my husband's birthday celebrations--we went out to dinner Wednesday, and his mother had us over for dinner on Thursday. I did what I could with choices--not bad, all-in, but still, it'll be good to not be eating out as often.

Priorities/Schedule

Umm...I finally have a schedule again! Woo! I've been using my sunlight alarm clock this week which has been working well, although on Thursday morning I did find out it's disturbingly easy to turn that light back off and dive under the covers again. My priority at the moment is planning my eating as much as I'm able to the night before, and getting in some exercise. We're going out of town for my husband's birthday this weekend so I'll have a lot more restaurant meals in front of me, but we're also hoping to maybe get some walking in if the weather cooperates at all. Next week settles down considerably schedule-wise so I should be able to make better progress.

 

 

Thinkin' about It Thursday

This week, I'm thinking... 

  • how little we appreciate feeling normal (normally awake, normally healthy) until we haven't felt that way for weeks on end.  
  • that normal is very, very good. 
  • that it's nice to finally get things done. 
    • like a trip to the post office I should've done weeks ago
    • and getting some groceries back in the house again. 
  • that my first block for the 2015 Craftsy BOM with Jinny Beyer was a great learning experience, if only to learn that I probably won't ever hand-piece a block again and was right to always do my best to avoid templates every chance I get. 
  • that as great a work trip as I just had last weekend, it's really nice to know I don't have a work trip again for several weeks. 
  • that I'm looking forward to maybe getting a lot of progress made on quilty projects now. 
  • that snow is fun if one can (1) sled, (2) ski, or (3) pile it on top of fabric and coat it with pretty, pretty colors. 

 

 

Fight the Funk Friday

When this posts, I'll be on a plane heading to meetings in the Midwest. Here's hoping I'm not delayed anywhere. I get home Monday afternoon--again, if there are no delays. Fingers crossed!

This week, I just had to submit to the funk. It's just been the last couple of days I've been feeling up to moving around much at all, and at the same time it dropped to the single digits outside so I've not been leaving the house. It hurts, that cold.

Schedule, eating habits, exercise...blah. It was all about hunkering down, popping antibiotics and tea, and weathering the internal storm.

I'm definitely on the upswing, though, so unless this weekend's work trip sends me back into a tail spin (there are airplanes involved, after all), I have high hopes for next week. My daughter just got a FitBit herself, so I've got to start giving her some competition!

By the way, Craftsy is having a "New Year, New You Flash Sale" this weekend--check it out! Up to 50% off top classes through January 18. Hey--some of you have a long weekend this weekend; perfect time to start a new class! Use any Craftsy link on this blog or in this post to check it out, or use one of the more direct links below. (I may succumb, now that I'm on the verge of finishing another class--look for a review in the next week or so!)

Shop Craftsy's New Year, New You Flash Sale
Yarn & Fiber Arts Classes – Craftsy's New Year, New You Flash Sale
Sewing & Quilting Classes - Craftsy's New Year, New You Flash Sale
Jewelry & Paper Crafts Classes - Craftsy's New Year, New You Flash Sale
Home & Garden Classes - Craftsy's New Year, New You Flash Sale
Cake & Cooking Classes - Craftsy's New Year, New You Flash Sale
Art & Photo Classes - Craftsy's New Year, New You Flash Sale

(Using Craftsy links in this post helps support my podcast and blog. Thanks so much!)

Thinkin' about It Thursday

This Christmas gift has really been put through its paces the last couple of weeks as I've been guzzling tea and honey!

This Christmas gift has really been put through its paces the last couple of weeks as I've been guzzling tea and honey!

Oops. This week I've been thinking about trying to get healthy in time for my work trip tomorrow, and now I'm thinking about packing. We'll get back to regularly scheduled programming next week!

Quarantine Has a Silver Lining

So this cold that's had me down for the week took an interesting left turn this weekend. I had already cancelled out of a couple of things so I could spend most the weekend resting and recuperating. I had a couple errands to run but otherwise was pacing myself with time in my sewing room alternating with time on the couch. I felt some slight improvement by last night so I had high hopes for today. And then this morning (Sunday) I woke up with what I strongly suspect is pink eye. I've never had it myself, but my kids did when they were little and a quick check of the Internet confirmed my symptoms. Still, I'll be calling my doctor in the morning to be sure. Fortunately, it's not too bad--my eye's a little swollen but it's not really bothering me much in terms of pain or anything. 

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The biggest impact is that I consequently had to quarantine myself. My husband got groceries instead of me (love that man), and I carry disinfectant wipes with me everywhere I go to wipe down any surface I touch. I've had a hand towel tossed over my shoulder all day for drying my hands so I wouldn't use any of the bathroom towels. I had DH pick me up a box of latex gloves so I could help put away some of the Christmas decorations and then tonight, when my son and a friend, and my nephew and his girlfriend, showed up to play games, I could participate safely. 

I call it, "practicing safe game." Ahem.

But for the most part, I tried to stay sequestered in my sewing room. It doesn't matter what I touch in there because no one else ever goes in that room.

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I got all the pieces done for the Jinny Beyer BOM. I haven't started hand-piecing it yet. I do think I've already decided I won't be hand-piecing the rest of the quilt. Holy cow. I mean, I'd like to have this done before I'm 95.  

I also want to shout my thanks to the person who invented the rotary cutter and rulers. I'd never have become a quilter if I had to do it this way. More power to all y'all who started quilting in the days of templates and scissors--every one of you is a better person than I am!

It's a fine line between Zen and Tedium. 

 

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I also got one butterfly--count it--one--of fifteen appliqued on my other Craftsy class project-in-process, Sue Spargo's embroidery class. I'll be blogging more about that class some other time. For now, let's just say I was having thread issues. 'Nuff said.  

I'm probably going to be working on this more tonight. I had to tap out of game night when talking more than I'd talked for the last several days all together got my coughing started up again, so my nephew tapped in to finish out my role in Careers, and now they're gathered around the dining room table playing Settlers of Catan. I'm having fun just listening in on their trash talking.

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The other big project I wanted to get done this weekend is now complete. I'd bought two hand-woven fabric pieces from a woman in Myanmar---straight off her loom; I needed to cut each piece in two to turn them into four shawls as gifts for colleagues. I had to hem them up, which was more of a challenge than I thought it would be. I'll talk more about this process on my next episode--whenever that is. In any case, I got those finished tonight too. That felt particularly good--now I just need to get two of them in the mail. The other two go to womenn I'll be seeing this coming weekend.

I also knocked out a lot of other things---little niggly things like getting a bunch of printed Craftsy materials organized into a binder, ssome other stuff labeled, a few necklaces fixed, some other Myanmar souvenirs boxed up and rready to get packaged for mailing.

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All in all, quarantine allowed me to knock this post-it task list... 

 

 
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Down to this.  

I guess I can handle being quarantined.  

For now, anyway. 

 

 

I caved--2015 Block of the Month with Jinny Beyer

Online Fabric Patterning with Wax Resist Class

I haven't done a block of the month (BOM) in years. The last time I tried to do one, it proved to be a lesson in frustration--I kept running out of the month's allotment of fabrics before getting all the pieces for the block cut. In six months, I think I ended up with three completed blocks. I ended up cancelling the rest of my order and tossing what I'd already received--and never signing up for a mail-order BOM again.

Fast forward to 2015 and the free 2015 Craftsy Block of the Month with Jinny Beyer. Craftsy has done a free BOM class every year for the last few years but none of them have grabbed me, and I had too much other stuff I wanted to get done.

This year, however, it's Jinny Beyer. I've been a Jinny Beyer fan since before I even started quilting. Back when I was still a muggle just thumbing through my Mom's quilting magazines at her house, I was able to pick out a Jinny Beyer quilt in a nanosecond. I always loved her use of color. However, I've never done one of her quilts. I started eyeing the 2015 Craftsy Block of the Month with Jinny Beyer with a "hmmm" in my mind.

Jinny Beyer BOM kit with coffee at the ready

Jinny Beyer BOM kit with coffee at the ready

And then a bunch of the #Twilters started talking about doing it. And I caved. Things are always more fun when you do them with friends.

I'm impartial about the design of the finished quilt. I like basket quilts well enough, but they're nothing I've ever really felt moved to do myself. And, interestingly enough, given that it's Jinny Beyer, I'm also a bit impartial to the colors and fabrics--it's a bit too dark for me, although the blues and purples are beautiful. But I have a few blank spots in my quilt skills toolbox that I really should address, and this BOM will help me address them. Also, I began to find something very appealing about the idea of maybe, just maybe, doing this BOM entirely by hand. After all, Jinny Beyer is a hand-piecer, and she shows her hand-piecing technique in the class. Maybe it's something I should try out.

On the other hand, I do want to get this thing done. So maybe not.

Fabrics sorted and labeled

Fabrics sorted and labeled

I waffled a bit about fabrics. Yes, I could have--and, arguably, should have--just gone into my stash and built my own fabric collection for the project. But, read the above paragraph. I do want to get this thing done. And with everything else I've got going on, I don't want to have to be thinking too hard about this one--or, rather, I want to be able just concentrate on whatever technique is being taught by that month's blocks and not sweating about whether or not my substituted fabrics are really working. So I bought the fabric kit. When I did the math, it's a pretty good deal per yard. I like it well enough, and I for-sure know that once it's done I'm sure someone I know will absolutely fall in love with it so it'll find a good home. I might also find I like the finished product more than I do the picture. I'm game, anyway.

This morning, as I did my sorting and organizing, I was tweeting back and forth with #Twilter friend Gretchen (aka @mafiretones) who also bought the kit and was doing her organizing at the same time as me. Although Craftsy includes a print-out of the fabrics in the kit, we both found ourselves having to consult Jinny Beyer's website to pull up images of each fabric (the print-out includes item #s) to be sure. Some of the fabrics are pretty close to one another and in the print-out it's hard to see the difference. So, there's a helpful tip for any of y'all who also buy the kit.

Gretchen has set up a Flickr group so we can all share our photos of fabric choices (even if you're using the kit!) and monthly progress. We should, of course, also post our project photos in Craftsy. It's just still hard to find people you know on Craftsy--how many times have I submitted a feature request to be able to search for other users?--so we thought the Flickr group would make it a little easier to have a sense of community.

Organized for the year. All my Craftsy quilting class print-outs go in the binder.

Organized for the year. All my Craftsy quilting class print-outs go in the binder.

So feel free to join us! Sign up for the (free) Craftsy class 2015 Craftsy Block of the Month with Jinny Beyer, join the Flickr group, join the conversation on Twitter (#JBBOM).

I'll be working on my January block this weekend. Stay tuned to find out if I do end up doing the block by hand or machine.

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

Fight the Funk Friday--A New Year

Well, technically last Friday would've been the first FtFF post if I'd been on top of things. Oh wells...

I'm logging more aspects of my Fight the Funk now based on my 2015 personal goals: addressing my health, reworking my schedule, and doing more cooking. This week's is sort of long, but it'll get more concise as things fall into routine.

Exercise

Gym attendance: Zilch. Steps: Near nada. Just when I was starting to build up a head of steam for getting back in routines, I built up a head of gunk instead. (Achoo.)

 

Slow-cooker apple cinnamon oatmeal getting ready for me to enjoy in the morning!

Slow-cooker apple cinnamon oatmeal getting ready for me to enjoy in the morning!

Eating/Cooking 

I started out the week with a big vat of beef barley soup on Sunday night--and leftovers! I worked off that most of the week--all sorts of healthies in there. I also made myself slow-cooker steel-cut oatmeal for Tuesday morning which means leftovers for a second breakfast. I began the week strong but as the days wore on and I wore down, I started comfort-eating again. Not a good week all-in. But I made myself track everything, so at least I was staying in some decent habits. And I'm now officially throwing out any remaining candy or cookies left in the house from the holidays. Yikes. 

Weight Watchers: I dragged my sorry, coughing and sniffling butt to my WW meeting last night (Thursday evening) for the first time since before Thanksgiving.(Don't worry--I sat way far away from everyone else and didn't shake anyone's hand!) I'd lost 7 lbs in Burma due to the malaria med kerflaffle, and was pleased to note during my weigh-in that I'd only gained 3 of that back; IOW, I'm down 4 lbs since my last official weigh-in. I'm fine with that. Whenever I lose weight due to illness, I know I'm going to regain some of it when my body recovers. I just didn't want to work my way all the way back up--which is why I dragged my sorry butt to the meeting in the first place.

Chicken and brown rice soup--perfect for a sniffly Sandy

Chicken and brown rice soup--perfect for a sniffly Sandy

Our meetings are right next to a grocery store--which may seem uncool but on the contrary, it's very cool. Every Thursday evening after meeting I go next door to restock on fresh produce to get me through until my regular shopping trips on the weekend. This week, since I was still coughing and sniffling, I picked up fixings for a fast homemade chicken noodle soup--a plain rotisserie chicken and pre-diced mirepoix because I knew I didn't have much energy for standing and chopping. I had homemade turkey stock still left in the freezer. When I got home, I dug through the pantry for the noodles I thought I had, only to turn up zilch. So I substituted brown rice, making it even healthier than I'd originally planned. And now I've got leftovers for the next couple of days, so I'm sitting pretty.

Priorities and Schedule

I finally bought something this week I've looked at for a long time--a sunlight alarm clock. Rather than being awaken with some sort of intrusive noise and the related shot of adrenaline, I do better with a slow, gentle wake-up. I had tested an app on my phone for awhile that measured my sleep patterns and then woke me with a vibration at whatever time it figured I was in the right part of my sleep cycle around when I needed to be up, which worked pretty well. But the phone had to be on the corner of my bed fairly near my head. You can see the potential problems. I gave up. Now that I'm trying to rework my schedule, I just have to get up earlier in the morning. Enter the sunlight alarm clock. Have you seen these things? My sister uses one and really likes it. Rather than an annoying, heart-attack-inducing buzz or music blaring, it starts 30 minutes before your alarm time with a gently-increasing light. When it gets to your alarm time, it's a full-spectrum light, and then a quiet beep goes off just in case you haven't gotten the idea yet. I know I'll start waking up early in the light cycle--it'll be a much more gentle way for me to come to in the morning. 

I was supposed to get it Wednesday morning but it got held up in shipping due to weather (go figure) so I didn't get it until Thursday. I'll let you know how it goes in next week's post.

Mood 

My mood was so-so all week, mostly due to being under the weather. Ahem. Pun intended, I guess. A head cold inside when it's below-zero-cold outside--poetic. I've been using my light box in the morning consistently so at least that much is okay; I've also been using my aromatherapy oils at my desk--mostly to keep my breathing passages clear (love that eucalyptus!) but hey, I throw some peppermint and other energy-related oils in there too. I don't know if they do anything, but they smell better than Dog so it's all good. 

Here's to a healthier week all around next week!

Thinkin' About It Thursday

(If you're looking for the 2015 Quilty Resolution Challenge, click here.)

This week, I am thinking...

  • that six weeks away from work is a very long time. 
  • how proud I am of how well I'd organized myself before I left so re-entry wouldn't be too horribly painful. 
  • that the stressful fall was worth it since I'm not behind the 8-ball now.
  • how being back in a routine isn't altogether a bad thing. 
  • that colds stink. 
  • how I may have had a bad reaction to the malaria meds but at least I didn't get off the airplane with bronchitis the way I did when I went to Thailand; but before I pat myself on the back, wait a minute....No, I had to go and catch a cold from some dang family member or another over the holidays.
  • that they say most accidents happen within two miles of home. Like family members gifting you with germs.
    • Put a bow on that package, why doncha.
      • Ratzifratzit.
  • how Ricola doesn't mix well with peppermint tea and honey. 
  • how I'd just gotten my quilty mojo back when I started sneezing.
  • how the great quilty progress I'd made over the weekend has now come screeching to a halt. 
  • that I'm a whiner. 
  • that I promise you--once my throat stops hurting I'll do that second Burma episode like I've promised. Promise.
    • Ratzifratzit.

Craftsy Class Review: Free Motion Quilting A Sampler with Leah Day

(If you're looking for the 2015 Quilty Resolution Challenge, click here.)

Craftsy

True Confessions: I started "working" on this class a long, long time ago. At that stage, working on it meant watching the lessons and not much more. But when it came up in my queue again, I decided this time around I really needed to make some decisions about how I was going to approach Leah Day's Free Motion Quilting a Sampler class. 

I'd already decided I didn't want to make the sampler, nor did I want to purchase the pre-printed sampler panel available through Spoonflower for this class. Kudos to Leah, though, for making that an option! I did consider it, as it would've been an easy way for me to really practice all her designs in the way she guides them during the class. So I give her two thumbs up for having made that available. Woo! Options!

Ultimately, I decided I'd just watch through all the lessons again, choose a few designs I particularly liked to practice, and then put one or more into action on a current project. The main thing I can definitely say for this class: There is a boatload of quilting designs here!

For those of you who are already familiar withLeah Day, this won't come as a surprise: This is probably the most content-rich class I've taken from Craftsy to date. You'll see in The Basics (below) the sheer volume based on number and length of lessons. In fact, that's part of why it took me so long to get through the class--it felt a little overwhelming when I was over my head in life this past fall. Some lessons took me two or three tries to get through, and that was just watching the lessons, not even doing the project! After I got back from my trip and had some time over the holidays, though, I was finally able to finish watching all the lessons and do some practicing on quilt sandwiches. I still haven't used a design in a project, but that's just because I'm dithering between two or three of the designs from the class for the project I'm working on. When I finally beat this cold that's laid me out this week, I'll make myself decide on a design and just knock it out. 

Practicing designs from Leah's class (one feather is from previous practice--the rest are based on her class)

Practicing designs from Leah's class (one feather is from previous practice--the rest are based on her class)

This class is excellent for beginners who have never done any machine quilting before. She starts from the very beginning (as the song goes), and talks about prepping your quilt for quilting--starching, pressing, backing, batting, basting...41 minutes' worth of how to get your quilt ready. 

If you've been quilting for awhile, it's still definitely worth watching this lesson. Her method for basting (especially for securing the quilt to the surface while you're basting it) is very different from other methods I've seen. You might pick up some good ideas for your own setting.

Then she spends over half an hour in the next lesson talking about supplies, FMQ feet, how to modify a foot if you need to, machine settings, and the basics of the quilting process itself. 

The next 8 lessons are all different types of designs, from stitching in the ditch, to all-over designs and fillers, to motifs. Tons and tons and tons of designs. And tons. Each lesson has several designs within it. Did I say it? Tons. And the class materials include drawings of each design with little arrows to help you remember the best way to execute the design (and leaving yourself an escape route). 

More practice on the back of a previously-used quilt sandwich--green thread showing is from the other side of old practice. All designs in white are new from Leah's class.

More practice on the back of a previously-used quilt sandwich--green thread showing is from the other side of old practice. All designs in white are new from Leah's class.

The last two lessons are borders and binding, with the addition of how to do a sampler as a "quilt as you go" quilt, quilting one block at a time and then attaching them together at the end. 

She has a unique element in this class: In one of the early lessons, she brings in Sadie, who has never free motion quilted before. While Sadie is doing some stitching, Leah is talking about how hard we all are on ourselves. She then examines Sadie's results and talks about how normal they are, first of all, but then gives her some tips about how to improve. If I'd seen this back when I was first starting to FMQ, I'd have found it very empowering. It took me a long time to realize that I was actually doing not-half-bad.

This is a really, really full class. You definitely get your money's worth here, no matter what price you end up paying for it. Leah Day as a teacher is very easy to watch--she's very good at explaining what she's doing, she includes information about what to do when things go wrong, and she doesn't have any particular mannerisms that start wearing on you after watching her for several hours on end. Which is good, because this class is several hours! I still enjoy Leah just as much after finishing this class as I did when I was watching her 365 project on YouTube (the designs are now available in a book). 

The Basics

  • 13 lessons, ranging from 10 minutes (the introduction) to 92 minutes--yes, that's right, one lesson is an hour and a half long. Most fall in the 45 minute-ish range. 
  • Lesson 1 is the introduction to Leah Day and the Craftsy platform. Lesson 2 is all about basting (see above). Lesson 3 is Basics and Supplies--I picked up some good tips here. Lesson 4 talks about stitching in the ditch--which she's an advocate of doing before you do anything else. She does address in later lessons how you may be able to sometimes incorporate the ditching at the same time as you're doing other designs, but for the most part, she does it first, and then does whatever else she's going to do.
  • Lessons 5-11 are all the different designs and, again, a ton of them. There are plenty of options here. 
  • Lesson 12 is finishing (borders)--including another design thrown in here for kicks n' giggles, plus trimming and squaring up.
  • Lesson 13 is binding, using a quilt-as-you-go method or traditional. However, she mostly addresses the quilt-as-you-go method here. 

I give Leah Day's Free Motion Quilting a Sampler two thumbs up although, as I said at the beginning, there were times it felt overwhelming. I'd almost have preferred two shorter classes from her. To a degree, it felt like she wanted to cram everything she could into the one class she thought she'd ever do on Craftsy. But, either way, I was able to practice several designs I'd not practiced before, and I've got some good ideas for projects I need to finish. So, yay!

(As usual: Using Craftsy links in this post helps support this podcast and blog. Thank you so much!)

 

2015 Personal Resolutions

(If you're looking for the 2015 Quilty Resolution Challenge, click here.)

Since I did so well on my 2014 quilty resolutions by blogging about them, thereby holding myself accountable, I figure putting some of my personal goals down here and tracking them through the year may be helpful.

Goal 1: Attend to personal health.

This has to do with fitness and weight, of course, but it also has to do with setting up better sleep patterns and paying attention to my mood, especially during these dreary winter months. I'm already blogging about this with my Fight the Funk Friday posts--thanks to @Ozzypip and @QuiltCabana for the inspiration (Philipa and Sandi respectively, although I do tend to automatically think of people by their Twitter handles these days). I've also been appreciating @Butterflysews, aka Sue, who just recently became a Weight Watchers Leader and has been inspiring me with her tweets. Too bad it would be a heck of a long swim for me to attend her meetings, as she's one of our UK buddies. As always, SherriD aka Walker Lady continues to motivate me, as do all our QuiltCast Fitbitters crew--those of us with FitBits who cheer one another on, even when our steps are (ahem) not very steppy; for example, today when I forget to even put my FitBit on.

Goal 2: Rework my daily schedule.

This has mostly to do with Goal #1. My best time for working out is late afternoon after work--my body feels best then. However, as you have probably experienced yourself, stuff tends to come up so on a busy week I may only make it to the gym once. I try working out at home but I don't enjoy it, nor are my workouts as good. Plus, since I work at home it's just really good for me to actually get OUT of the house on a regular basis and be in the presence of other people, even if we're not actually interacting with one another.

That being said, it also has to do with quilting, reading, cooking, and other stuff I like to try to do on a regular basis. So I need to look at how I'm using my time every day and possibly set some different priorities. However, I also know I need a time for mindlessness and un-productivity, so I'm not going to book every hour of the day in the name of "time management." I work my calendar by blocks of energy, not time, these days. 

This is a trickier one to figure out how to hold myself accountable. Maybe I'll add in a piece to my Fight the Funk Friday posts about how well I did on scheduling during the past week.

Goal 3: More cooking.

This one is just a matter of getting back into good habits I used to have. As you know, I do love to cook and do a lot of my own cooking...some of the time. This fall, things completely fell apart. Other than my weekend homemade pasta-making habits, I was doing very little other meal prep. It was a very stressful fall and generally I was too burned by the end of the workday to do much creatively in the kitchen. I don't travel a whole lot over the next few months so I'm planning on buckling down and getting back into my routines of drafting menus for the week for smarter grocery shopping, and more attentive meal prep and eating for my health efforts. 

So, those are my personal goals. They're not particularly measurable--I don't have numbers or timelines attached. Just general intentions. I know that doesn't fit the "SMART" goal rubric, but hey, this is how I prefer to treat myself at the moment. Taking it one day at a time...

2015 Quilty Resolution Challenge and Giveaway

It's that time of year!

You'll need to listen to Episode 171 In Which We Talk 2015 Quilty Resolutions (posted 12-31-14) to hear the set-up for this year's quilty resolution challenge. 

Once you've done that, use this form to submit your 2015 Quilty Resolution and optional word-to-live-by.

If the form doesn't appear above, or doesn't work for you, here's a direct link: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1pGxo2nkilwznjJfMfoIuvYyQaSt1KU_Bx9zMXJw1ITI/viewform

What am I giving away? 

Anyone who enters their resolution in the form above will be entered in my giveaway! I'll be choosing three (count 'em--three!) winners. Each winner will win one set of fat quarters--I'll be choosing.

Maybe this set of soft, mostly taupe-y, somewhat William Morris-y, fat quarters will come home to live with you!

Maybe this set of soft, mostly taupe-y, somewhat William Morris-y, fat quarters will come home to live with you!

Or maybe you'll get this set of Stonehenge fat quarters, looking a bit like stained-glass windows.

Or maybe you'll get this set of Stonehenge fat quarters, looking a bit like stained-glass windows.

Or, perhaps, this fun set of brights will be yours to play with!

Or, perhaps, this fun set of brights will be yours to play with!

How do you enter for the giveaway?

First, use the form above to enter your 2015 Quilty Resolution (and optional word-to-live-by). 

Second, use the Rafflecopter widget below to register your entry in the giveaway. (I'll be using the Rafflecopter list to choose winners for the giveaway.)

Hey, if you want to leave a comment below too, that doesn't hurt--but I'm not including comments in the giveaway. That's just for people who take up my challenge for 2015!

How long do you have to enter?

This giveaway closes at midnight Eastern Time (where I live) on January 31st. So you've got a little time to think...but don't forget to enter!

I'm looking forward to reading your resolution!

December Craftsy Class Update (Final for 2014)

Craftsy Logo

Well, dang. I had a November Craftsy Class Update all written and intended to schedule it to post while I was gone. Apparently I never did, because I just found it still sitting in my drafts folder. So this month I'm catching both my November completions and December completions--not that I've gotten a lot done in December because...well, you know. Something about travel, about only being home one week of the month. Still n' all, I managed to complete two classes this month to add to the four last month, so that's not bad!

Check out the very end of this post for my grand summary of my progress on my 2014 Quilty Resolution regarding the completion of Craftsy classes.

New Completions

(+6)

Classes in Progress

(3)

Proof I've already started working on the Sue Spargo class...

Proof I've already started working on the Sue Spargo class...

Classes added this month

(+2)

I succumbed to the Craftsy end-of-year sale and got two more classes at $19.99 each. I can't be very sorry about that, especially since I immediately finished one and got started on the other.

Classes To Be Completed

Current count:  12 (-4 from last month as I added 1)

Completed Classes (all topics)

Current count: 45 (+5)

2014 Quilty Resolution Summary

A few of my Craftsy class pics from 2014

A few of my Craftsy class pics from 2014

So, how did I do, in total, on my 2014 quilty resolution regarding completing Craftsy classes? I never set a specific number to be completed, nor did I have the real intention of wiping the slate clean by the end of the year. I was far too realistic for that. Plus, as you know, I bought new classes through the year in addition to working on ones I'd already owned. For the most part, the new classes got finished pretty quickly. New is always more interesting, to be honest. So I'd say about half of the classes I didn't get finished have been in my queue for a long time; the other half were purchased in 2014. I suppose that's not a bad balance.

When I started in January 2014, I had:

  • 14 completed Craftsy classes.
  • 21 to-be-completed classes (those I already owned but hadn't finished or, in many cases, even started yet).

At the end of December 2014, I now have:

  • 45 completed Craftsy classes (+31 from 2013)
  • 12 to-be-completed, 3 of which are currently in progress (-9 from 2013, but the math doesn't show the true picture because...)

...this means I purchased 22 classes during 2014, most of which I then completed.

It certainly would be understandable if you were thinking, "Yeah, but did you really learn anything? Is it possible to take that many classes and absorb the material?" The answer is, yes. Sure, there are some classes I went through and decided, "Nope, not for me, not right now, anyway." But they're in my memory banks (and on my computer) for future reference. Some are classes with techniques that I continue to work on--such as spindling, dyeing, and free motion quilting. I can indeed say that I picked up hints or tips from just about every class, even if most of the class turned out to be not my bag or stuff I already knew. That being said, there are several things I do now that I didn't do before--making homemade pasta being a major stand-out, and spinning, and being far more brave and confident in my machine quilting. So yes, those 45 completed classes (or 31 completed in 2014, anyway) were all worth the time, and have helped me improve. 

I can also say, however, that though I'll continue to do my monthly updates in 2015 (it keeps me plugging along and I really do want to finish the 12 remaining on my list) and will most likely continue to buy new Craftsy classes on occasion, in general I'll be doing a lot fewer this coming year as I have other things on my horizon that'll be taking up some time. So no, Craftsy classes aren't continuing as part of my 2015 Quilty Resolutions. I have another plan for that. Stay tuned.

(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: Simple Soups from Scratch with Kathy Gunst

Despite the fact that I came home from 90 degrees in Myanmar/Burma looking forward to a white Christmas, and got off the plane instead to mid-spring weather here in Western NY (50 degrees and rainy), I still declare it to be Soup Season. Every year for the last several years I've stated that "This will be the Year of the Soup!" And most years I miss that mark, only making soup once or twice, at best. My husband only likes one or two soups so, since it's hard to make soup in any less quantity than "Vat," I don't end up making it much. However, this year Dear Husband has a fair amount of travel coming up in the next couple of months so I'll be on my own, and happy enough to cook up said Vat of Soup over the weekend and live off it during the week. All the more time to spend in my sewing room, donchaknow.

So I've taken two soup classes on Craftsy now. You might recall reading my review of Building Flavorful Soups with Peter Berley awhile back. This time, I spent my jet-lag recovery time last week watching Simple Soups from Scratch with Kathy Gunst. I'm far more likely to make recipes from this second class than from the first, mostly because they are, as the title states, simple. (True confessions, though: I skipped the lesson on seafood soups. Not my bag.) 

Pureed Leek and Potato Soup--not a great picture as I took it on the fly as I was prepping for a party and it steamed up my cell phone camera lens.

Pureed Leek and Potato Soup--not a great picture as I took it on the fly as I was prepping for a party and it steamed up my cell phone camera lens.

Kathy Gunst is easy to watch and does a nice job explaining what she's doing, giving extra information while she's waiting for whatever is on the stove, and offering suggestions for substitutions or variations on the recipe she's demonstrating. I really enjoyed her rather high-energy engagement with the studio broiler in Lesson 6--she handled a tricky situation with good humor and was still able to teach while having to keep an eagle eye on what was under the flame. Finally--a Craftsy class with an edge. "Will she burn it? Will she save it? I'm on the edge of my seat!"

The class, like most of this type, is structured around certain types of soups, and each lesson has one recipe she demonstrates while showing how it can be adapted for other ingredients. I knew immediately I wanted to try several of her soups, so I made the Pureed Leek and Potato soup of lesson 3 for my side of the family's Christmas gathering on December 28 (aka Second Christmas). It's very basic, and very tasty. Leeks, potatoes, vegetable broth, seasonings, and some shredded white cheddar at the end. No cream, so other than the cheese it's pretty dang healthy, and very filling. I had some leftover soup the next day for lunch and didn't need anything else.

My one-year-old great niece was a particular fan of the soup. That was her dinner!

My one-year-old great niece was a particular fan of the soup. That was her dinner!

I included her suggested garnish of Cheddar Chive Walnut Swirl, which was also a big hit. It adds just the right Something to the soup.

On tonight's menu is her Lemon Orzo Chicken Soup, although my version will be Lemon Rice Turkey Soup. I roasted a turkey to make sandwiches for Second Christmas. The store only had one HUGE turkey or lots of very small ones, so I got the behemoth. Lots of leftovers to make the soup, and a great big carcass for making broth, also one of her lessons in the class. (I made the turkey broth yesterday using her recipe--it seems successful. I'll know when I pull it out to use it for tonight's dinner soup.) 

The other one I really want to play with is her roasted vegetable soup, only I'm going to do it with parsnips and apples. I had a parsnip apple soup at a restaurant the other night and found myself thinking, "I'm sure I could do this better!" The restaurant soup just didn't have enough flavor for me, so I'm looking forward to using Gunst's techniques and playing around with ingredients.

As you can tell, this class was a big success for me. The class materials are extensive: 10 pages of recipes from the class, including the many garnishes. The only thing I really wish--as I've mentioned in my other reviews of cooking classes--is that she include a helpful list of types of soups and ingredient combinations to help you learn (or become more creative about) how to mix-and-match your own. That was probably the most helpful, and my favorite part, of Molly Stevens' Secrets of Slow Cooking: Mastering the Braise class. I would love to have a chart of different types of soups and sort of a "pick one from this category, three from this category," type of thing. I know--that's asking a lot. I'm just sayin'. It would be helpful. That's all.

The Basics

  • 6 lessons, ranging in length from about 18 to 28 minutes.
  • The introduction uses the Lemon Orzo Chicken Soup recipe to demonstrate "modern chicken soup," including adding egg and using lemon to brighten flavors.
  • Lesson 2 is roasted vegetable soup, in which she also discusses choosing which vegetables will work best, how to prepare them for roasting, and deglazing the pan.
  • Lesson 3 is Pureed Leek & Potato Soup, in which she also discusses helpful tips when adding dairy, although the recipe she demonstrates doesn't use it.
  • Lesson 4 is a seafood chowder. Can't speak to this one as I skipped it. Not a seafood soup fan--but given the other lessons, I'm sure she does it well!
  • Lesson 5 talks about meat and vegetable stocks, as well as very useful information about how to store your stock. She also discusses how to enhance store-bought stock if you're short on time.
  • Lesson 6 is all about the garnishes--a couple of pestos, croutons, and other ways to add flavor and texture to your soups. 

As you can tell from my sudden uptick in soup-making at my house, Simple Soups from Scratch with Kathy Gunst. was a big hit. Two thumbs up. Even without the useful chart of my dreams.

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

Craftsy Class Review: Free-Motion Quilting with Feathers with Angela Walters

Yes, it's another FMQ class. It could be argued that I need to stop taking classes and just practice practice practice, but there is a method to my over-indulgence in learning. First of all, that's just who I am. I recall doing an Enneagram test back in my early 30s that identified weaknesses based on the 7 Deadly Sins (it also identified strengths, but I don't recall what gimmick it used for that). My primary weakness was "gluttony," and was identified with my personality type as gluttony for knowledge. It described in frighteningly exact detail my overloaded bookshelves and desire to be involved in academia the rest of my life. Ahem. I resemble that remark.

In any case, the flip side to "maybe you should stop taking classes and practice" is that every teacher shows a slightly different way to do the same thing. In this case, I've now been exposed to several different ways to machine quilt a feather. I'm learning which ones feel more comfortable for me and therefore have a higher chance at making me successful.

3 methods for feathers--top two from Angela Walter's class, bottom from Ann Petersen's class. All while still recovering from jet-lag and malaria med side effects. Not too shabby.

3 methods for feathers--top two from Angela Walter's class, bottom from Ann Petersen's class. All while still recovering from jet-lag and malaria med side effects. Not too shabby.

So, my experience with Free-Motion Quilting with Feathers, taught by Angela Walters, is a great example of this truism. I enjoy Angela Walters as a teacher. One of her methods for doing a feather is fairly similar to others I've used in the past, so I used this class as an opportunity for more practice. However, her other feather technique (she calls it "custom feather," although I can't figure out what's custom about it) feels very awkward to me. I was able to do it, and practiced it several times over, but it just didn't make logical sense to me and the way I think/quilt. I don't think it flowed any more smoothly or made for a better looking feather, even after I got pretty good at doing it. I far prefer other methods I've learned in the past, such as the feathers I did in Ann Petersen's Beyond Basic Machine Quilting, or the ones I did in Wendy Butler Berns' Machine Quilting class. That is not at all a knock on Angela Walters--I love her work. It just shows that not every technique will be the right technique for you...which is why I want to learn every possible variation out there and I refuse to think of that as a deadly sin, LOL.

That being said, what I got most out of Free-Motion Quilting with Feathers was not so much the feather technique itself as her suggestions for how to use feathers in a variety of settings. The first half of the class is on doing feathers and feather variations; the second half of the class is using feathers in different types of blocks, borders, as meanders, as motifs, and then feathers with "a modern twist." The second half of the class is where I got the most inspiration and ideas--in fact, so much so that I now feel armed to tackle a UFO that's been languishing, draped over my UFO holding bar. It's crying out for some of Angela Walter's spiral feathers and other variations.

So I definitely view this class as a success for me. I can't wait to clear some other little things off my docket so I can put that UFO back up on my design wall and start sketching out some ideas for myself based on what I've learned from this class.

The Basics

  • 10 lessons. Absent the 2 minute introduction of Angela Walters, the rest of the lessons range from 8 to 18 minutes. In each lesson, she first talks about the method or shape, then draws it out, then goes to the machine to demonstrate stitching it. She goes back and forth between domestic and long-arm machines from lesson to lesson, showing you that each design can be done equally well on either machine.
  • Lessons 2-5 demonstrate her techniques for the basic feather and variations, and the "custom" feather and variations. Lessons 6 through 10 show how to adapt feathers to different shapes, use them as meanders and fillers, turn them into a variety of motifs, and use them as creative background elements.

One more time, the class is  Free-Motion Quilting with Feathers, taught by Angela WaltersDespite my comments about her one feather technique, I still definitely give this class two thumbs up. If you love feathers, you'll love this class; and you may really vibe with her custom feather technique--every person is different. Even if you turn up your nose at feathers as being too traditional or fussy, I'd highly recommend this class anyway--I think you'll get a new view of how feathers can enhance any quilt!

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

Farewell Friday (In lieu of Fight the Funk Friday)

I haven't been to the gym this week so "Fight the Funk Friday" would have a whole lot more with what I didn't do than what I did do. However, this is likely the last opportunity I'll have to write a blog for a few weeks so I didn't want to walk away from it completely. Fortunately, "Farewell" has nice alliterative magic as well.

Tomorrow I get on a plane. For a very long time. (30 hours travel time, all in, if everything stays on schedule.) I've got me some podcasts. I've got me some Great Courses lectures. I've got me some Craftsy classes. Since I'll be on Dramamine, though, I'm likely to be dozing quite a bit and probably won't get through everything I've downloaded to keep me entertained.  

I'm not bringing any handwork. First of all: airplane. Very cramped. Secondly, packing space. Very cramped. Thirdly, once I'm there I won't have a lot of downtime--at least, not other than when I'm on planes or buses or in vans and, again, cramped.  

I'm hoping to have halfway decent access to WiFi at least often enough to occasionally tweet or post on Facebook a pretty picture and short update. The hotels we're staying in all have WiFi, but quality and endurance of the connection are always questionable, so we'll see. 

We've got a couple of markets on our schedule and I'm quite familiar with textiles from that area, so I'm looking forward to that. I'm also hoping to visit some local artisans, especially spinners. It'll be interesting to see the techniques and tools they use. I'm familiar with the weaving as I've worked with groups of weavers originally from Burma here in the U.S., but I haven't met any spinners yet, so that'll be fun.

Meanwhile, as of 4:30 p.m. this afternoon I'm as packed as I can be until I'm done getting dressed and ready tomorrow morning. The clothes only take up about 1/3rd of the suitcase. The rest is pharmaceutical supplies (for any eventuality!) and gifts for people I'll be meeting. 

Fortunately, our flight is very late morning tomorrow so although we need to get to the airport a couple of hours earlier, it's still a very reasonable time, so I won't be rushed in the morning--always a nice way to start a long travel day. The weather looks clear. But I won't say any more about the flights in case I jinx something.

So that's it! Until sometime in very late December...

Sing it, everyone! "So long, farewell, auf weidersehen, good bye... I flit, I float, I fleetly flee, I fly..."