Fight the Funk Friday

Fightthefunk.jpg

I'm home! I've had a whole week home! Woo woo!

Don't get me wrong--my trip last weekend was a great one. I just had a string of travel that prevented me from being in any sort of decent exercise routine at all. In fact, the two most recent trips involved hours spent in planes or cars--so they were even more sedentary than usual.

And then, just when we had a beautiful weekend and I was out walking for the first time in weeks, my knee started whining at me again.

But here's the good news: Because I'm home, I finally had time to deal with insurance referrals and back-and-forth with my doctor and...yay...had an appointment with a physical therapist yesterday. She did things. Painful things. I cried a little tear inside.

Actually, it wasn't bad, but my knee was quite ticked off with me by the time I got home so there was more Advil and ice in my life. That being said, it turns out it's not my knee muscles I need to be focusing on, but my hip muscles. Who'd-a thunk it? I'm now armed with a series of hip-focused exercises and a resistance band. I'm planning on trying to get some gym action in again this weekend; basically, she gave me the go-ahead to do anything "unless it hurts." Words to live by.

So, exercise--not so much, unless you count physical therapy. Which it does count, I suppose. But it's not really racking up the FitBit steps. I hope for better this weekend, though I'm going to keep reminding myself to take it slow for a bit. But just you wait until my knee is fully back in working order. The dust will be flying behind me!

A CSA delivery from 2013

A CSA delivery from 2013

On the food front, I'm back to planning and tracking pretty well, and getting lots of fresh produce in the house. I'm counting down the days until my CSA deliveries start--June 9 can't come fast enough! Yep, for those of you in warmer climes, early June is the first we can really expect to start seeing any harvest in these parts, and even that's pretty early--I imagine it'll be mostly greenhouse stuff at that stage. Most of our gardens start producing for real at the end of June or early July. Then we get swamped. But that's a zucchini story for another day.

Oh, and I also got my temporary crown put on this week, in the continuing saga of the broken tooth that started last 4th of July. The final crown is May 7. Can't wait to have it completely done--and I'll be pretty vigilant the rest of my life to make sure I never break a freakin' tooth again. What a pill.

All that means is this week's Fight the Funk post is mostly about preventative medicine and getting myself back into shape for making good progress later. This is a more "reactive funk-fighting" at the moment, but I'll be back to proactive mode shortly!

Thinkin' about It Thursday

This week, I'm thinking...

Doofus with a little spring fever

Doofus with a little spring fever

  • how absolutely, fantastically, great it feels to be home for a prolonged period of time and in a routine again.
    • (The doggies agree.)
  • how, on the other hand, being hither and yon for so long means a backlog of appointments that all landed on this week so I'm not entirely feeling in routine yet.
  • that, however, all that means is I'm finally getting some stuff taken care of that should've been dealt with weeks ago.
    • so it's all good.
  • how new furniture is both fun and stressful at the same time.
  • that the words "oh, we'll just use this for now" should never be spoken.
    • Is 10 years later still "for now?" 
  • that, in the time it's taken us to choose a new coffee table for our family room, other people would have redecorated that same family room twice over.
  • how that should make me remember that every decorating choice doesn't have to be a forever-choice.
    • less stress?
    • faster decisions?
    • no more naked windows or cheap, folding, very unsteady TV-trays as end tables?
  • that our highest priority in choosing new end tables was, "Which one will the Doofus not be able to knock over as he runs by?"
  • how the store clerk was looking a bit askance at us as we leaned on the top of every table and wiggled it to check for sturdiness.
    • but it's a thing.
    • and I'd rather not have it be a thing anymore.
    • Dang Doofus.
  • how nice it is to see green grass.
    • and growing things.
    • and hear birds.
    • and sneeze.
    • because sneezing means spring.
    • Hurray.

WIP Wednesday

I think I've done a WIP Wednesday post maybe twice in my blogging life. But here it is. I have something to say this week!

Vinyl pockets with gussets

Vinyl pockets with gussets

I'm pleased to announce I finally conquered the whole "sewing on vinyl" thing with the Anne Unrein Everything in It's Place bag.

(For those of you who haven't been playing along recently, I'm doing Annie's Craftsy class, "Sew Sturdy Travel Organizers,"* in a last-ditch effort to see if I could ever learn to love doing this kind of sewing.)

In my last podcast episode--I think, or maybe it was a recent blog post, can't recall exactly--I was grousing about the trouble I was having with thread breaking when I was trying to sew gussets in strips of vinyl that will eventually become the pockets.

After reading some blogs on the topic, and then a little trial-and-error myself, I finally hit on the combination that worked for me: Leather sewing machine needles and thinner polyester thread. Using a 90/14 Schmetz leather needle with a Superior Threads Bottom Line (bobbin weight) poly thread in my top and bobbin, I finally got all the vinyl pocket gussets sewn with nary another break. I think the bobbin weight thread will be strong enough, but it all gets sewn again anyway when you install the pockets on the pocket pages, and I'll be using a 50-weight thread for that, so it'll be fine.

Zipper-by-the-yard with pulls installed

Zipper-by-the-yard with pulls installed

And then I had to install umpteen-million zipper pulls on a zipper-by-the-yard. This was a struggle I'd already had to conquer back when I had to do the mesh pocket a couple of weeks ago. Now that I know how to get that stinkin' zipper pull on...I can't say it got a whole lot easier. But at least I got it done without throwing a single one across the room. I measure success a little differently these days.

That being said, I really should've watched the lesson all the way through before I hauled off and got started on the zippers this time around--I only saw after the fact her very helpful tip about putting all the zipper pulls on first and then measuring it out, sewing and cutting the zipper lengths needed with the pulls already installed. Probably would've gone a lot faster, as it's easier to put the zipper pull on using the fabric tail of the zipper rather than on the cut end.

Yes, the jury is still out. Her instructions are great, the class is great, the design is great--but I still think I'd happily pay someone else to make this dang thing for me. Still, I soldier on...

(*Using this Craftsy link helps support this podcast and blog. Thank you!)

 

Craftsy Class Review: Clever Cuts for Efficient Quilting with Debbie Caffrey

I don't have this ebook from Craftsy yet but it looks interesting, doesn't it? I think I'll grab it as soon as I'm done writing this blog post. 

So, in the name of finding more efficient ways to make progress on quilts as my time grows ever-more-limited, I once again looked to Debbie Caffrey. Well, to be clear, I bought this class primarily because I'd enjoyed her other one so much. Clever Cuts for Efficient Quilting, like her first class (Cut To It: Strategies for Smarter Quilting), is an excellent reference class that you'll want to keep referring back to for years to come!

Like Cut to It, this class doesn't have one specific project for you to do in order to practice techniques, but there are several patterns included in the class materials if you do want to put one of her cutting methods immediately to use. For me, however, I was just watching the lessons to see what was there so I'd know where to go for future reference. Hence, no pretty pictures to go with this review--sorry.

For my general thoughts on Debbie Caffrey as a teacher and the usefulness of the techniques she teaches, see my review of her first class. I can just keep saying "Ditto, ditto, ditto." I can't say it enough--these are both excellent classes to have. 

Do you need to do the other class before doing this one? Not really. However, I do think they build on each other to a degree, and she does reference the other class periodically in this one. However, you could easily do this class as a stand-alone and be just fine, I think.

This class includes a few more tips on organization, accurate cutting and piecing, and general ideas about when these techniques would be useful. She then discusses tube piecing, diamonds and set-in seams, lots of information about working with Tri-Rec rulers, and then some ideas and tips for piecing borders. 

The Basics

  • Seven lessons, ranging from 24 to 38 minutes
  • Lesson 1 is fundamentals of cutting and piecing, including tips for accuracy; lesson 2 focuses on organization, as well as tips for sewing, pressing, and cutting; lesson 3 is strip-tubing (I've done that before and it's fun, fun, fun!); and she demonstrates a fish block that would make a very cute baby or child's quilt; lesson 4 is all about diamonds and set-in seams, as well as a bit of drafting of templates; then lessons 5 and 6 focus on Tri-Recs in a variety of ways. Finally, lesson 7 gives several ideas and demonstrations of different types of borders; I really liked one of those and could see it on one of my UFOs, so I'll be referring back to that lesson again in the next few weeks.
  • She addresses left-handed cutting considerations, too, for all you lefties out there!

Once again, as with her other class, I highly recommend Clever Cuts for Efficient Quilting with Debbie Caffrey. If she does a third one, she'd have a hat trick! For now, it's just an excellent pair.

(Using Craftsy links on this post helps support my podcast and blog. Thank you so much!)

Monday Musings: The 5 Ss--S-2 Shine and Inspect

How did you do this past week on S-1, sorting and removing? The day before I posted the S-1 post, I had already given away to some friends a lot of my scrap stash and some blocks from a project I'd decided I wasn't interested in finishing. They were glad to get them, I was glad to be rid of them. FTW. 

Specialty rulers and accompanying books I'm not quite ready to get rid of.

Specialty rulers and accompanying books I'm not quite ready to get rid of.

On the ruler drawer I said I wanted to sort? Well, it turned out to be harder than I thought. You see, the rulers I've hung onto but not used are pretty much all inherited from Mom. That means they either (1) still have that sentimental "this was Mom's" feeling clinging to them or (2) are no longer readily available so I worry that if my quilting tastes shift again, I may someday think, "Why did I ever get rid of X ruler?" I have used a couple of them and wasn't totally sold, but still am not quite ready to off them, either. So I hedged my bets. I moved them out of my sewing room and put them in a box in the basement, with a note to myself in my ruler drawer that I did that. 

I did, however, get rid of this bendy ruler--virtually impossible to actually use.

I did, however, get rid of this bendy ruler--virtually impossible to actually use.

I know--it's really not taking care of the problem long term. But I'm typically really, really good at getting rid of stuff, so I decided to give myself a little grace on this one. (Someday, when I'm gone, my kids will open up that box in the basement and think, "What the...?" It'll only serve them right for when I gave their bedrooms a good cleaning after they went away to college and thought, "What the...?")

Time for week 2!

S-2 Shine and Inspect

When was the last time you had your sewing machine cleaned? How old is that rotary cutter blade? Have your pins developed rust? 

I realized recently that my beloved pins--so beautifully thin and long--were clearly showing their age. After about 15 years of stabbing them into my design wall and forcing them into thick stacks of fabric, many of them had developed an inconvenient curve and most of them felt like they had lost their sharp, pointy tips. This particular pin isn't cheap, but I really do love them.

And I suppose I really ought to stop stabbing them into my design wall which, by the way, is a felt-backed tablecloth hung face-side down against my wall. No foam. I'm stabbing the pins into the wall. Pin abuse. (And I don't plan on ever letting that wall see the light of day until we move. It's likely not pretty.) Plus, I should stop using this same set of pins for all purposes. I have thicker pins that would put up better with bulkier seams or stabilizer. These are just so easy to grab. Time to change my lazy ways, I suppose.

Got one of these micro vacuum attachment sets? I love mine for using on my sewing machine (carefully!) and my computer vents. Click here to find it on Amazon.

Got one of these micro vacuum attachment sets? I love mine for using on my sewing machine (carefully!) and my computer vents. Click here to find it on Amazon.

In any case, we all know that our lives are made easier by well-functioning tools. So this week, check out your equipment. How's that sole plate on your iron looking? Do you need a few new packs of sewing machine needles? Could your sewing machine use a good wipe-down or tune-up? How are your scissors doing?

Leave a comment and let us know whether you found anything that needed some shining and inspecting!

 

 

Progress and Goals--Week of April 19, 2015

My goals for this week were to:

  • Learn two more stitches for Sue Spargo class project
  • Finish prayer flag. (It's quite close to being done.)
  • Finish Anne Unrein's Everything in Its Place bag from Craftsy class--maybe. At least, make significant progress.

Progress:

  • Stitches--ummm...I did watch one lesson. I'll be sitting down with my embroidery tonight for the first time in about 10 days. So tonight I'll have some progress, but nothing to report here.
  • Prayer flag--ummm... see above.
  • Finish EIIP Bag--[insert snort of derision here

Basically, I didn't make much progress this week on quilting projects; I did, however, do a lot to set myself up for better progress in the future. You'll need to listen to tonight's podcast episode to hear why. That being said, while I was listening to my own episode back again prior to posting, I did make some progress on the EIIP bag. Just know (after you listen to that episode) I did finally conquer sewing on vinyl--woot! It took new needles AND a different thread. I finally landed on the right combination that allowed me to get 'er done. It wasn't fast, and it wasn't pretty, but it was done. 

Goals for this week:

  • Second verse, same as the first...
  • Also, develop a really solid list of my UFOs for planning.

Monday Musings: The 5 Ss--Riffing Off Wegmans

2015-02-28 16.58.04.jpg

(Awhile back I was doing Monday Musings. I've decided to reinstitute them, at least for a short series.)

A couple of weeks ago I was doing my usual grocery trip at Wegmans (got one near you?), and noticed this sign hanging next to the employee office near the check-out lines. 

As I read it, I thought, "Hmmm. I could apply that to my quilt studio/sewing room." 

And so, here's my riff on Wegmans' advice for store employees, adapted for us fiber-folk. I'm going to do this in five parts, every Monday, just to keep it--ahem--simple.

S-1 Sort and Remove

You can pretty much guess where I'm going to go with this one, right? 

We may like to think that all those boxes and bins and stacks are the mark of wonderful possibilities. But the reality is, a lot of it may just be getting in the way, keeping us from moving forward in the way we want to move forward.

How much stuff is sitting on the shelves, in the drawers, in the closet, hanging on your wall, that you haven't touched in more than a year? Not only does all this extra stuff tend to get in your way when you're looking for what you need (stealing precious time from your creative endeavors) but it can actually become a burden.

This photo is a few years old. Tellingly, it looks much the same now.

This photo is a few years old. Tellingly, it looks much the same now.

If you've heard my recent episodes, you know I've been struggling a bit with what to do with my stash. Now I'm in a very different place in my quiltmaking than I was six or seven years ago. Yet my stash still largely reflects where I was six years ago, seven years ago, ten years ago.... I've sorted my stash a couple of times and gotten rid of things I wasn't using then, but I hung onto a lot because they're all quite handy fabrics. I kept thinking, "But this could come in handy," or, "but this one's really pretty."

So I kept doing make-work. In other words, I'd find projects to do simply to use up my stash. Those weren't projects I'd have normally done. They may have been somewhat entertaining (although not all of them were), and sometimes I even learned something (although usually I was just going for quick-n-easy). But still, all-in-all, they were a distraction from what I really wanted to be doing. When I realized that I kept putting off my True Love Quiltmaking to try to knock out yet another Stash-User Quiltmaking project, I understood that something was out of whack.

I finally came to the conclusion a couple of months ago that my stash was actually a source of obligation and guilt--not guilt over its size, as it's a reasonable stash. Not guilt over the money--probably half of my current stash was inherited from my mother. Rather, just guilt over all these great fabrics sitting there, not being used. Obligation guilt. I was feeling the burden of needing to use fabric just because it was sitting there--to create projects for myself just to use fabric just because it was sitting there--to not do the projects I wanted to do just to create projects just to use fabric just because it was sitting there....

The lightbulb came on. My stash was actually holding me back. Sure, it was a great stash. I'd actually been very intentional about building a good, usable, stash for those times I wanted to do an impulse project--I could just grab and go pretty easily. But my quiltmaking has changed. Just because something is a "good stash fabric" doesn't mean it's right for my stash. In fact, it might be even better stash fabric for someone else. The only good fabric is fabric that's being used. Everything else is, really, just clutter. No matter how pretty it is.

So I'm giving myself a few more months to use up the fabrics that are still really calling to me, then I'm going to embark on a major clearing out. I'll be sorting and removing. And I'll feel lighter for it.

Rulers. Books. Gadgets. Marking utensils. We all tend to amass collections. If you're using them, even semi-regularly--great! Keep 'em all! But if, instead, you keep seeing a ruler every time you open a drawer and catch yourself thinking, "I really should use that someday," maybe it's just not the right ruler for you. Maybe it reflects things you thought you were interested in a couple of years ago, but you've mentally moved on. Perhaps the ruler would be happier living with another quilter who would love it and use it and make great things with it, than languishing out of loneliness and boredom in your drawer. 

So, this week--my suggestion to you is to practice a little S-1. If you don't want to tackle your whole sewing room, choose one drawer, one shelf, one bin. Sort and remove. (If your sewing collection is just fine, thank you very much, think about the rest of your home or your workplace. Everyone's got a problem drawer somewhere!)

My goal? 

On the left of the two photos below are the rulers I use on a regular basis, although there are even a couple hanging on the ends of that wall that I don't know that I've ever used. (The ones right next to my cutting table are my go-tos just about every time I'm working on something.)

On the right, the drawer of all the specialty rulers I inherited from my Mom a few years back and, for the most part, have never used. It's really time for me to make some decisions. I could use the drawer space.

rulers.jpg

So, go get your S-1 on.

Leave a comment letting us know what you are going to tackle and how it goes!

Progress and Goals--Week of April 12

Did you notice Craftsy is having a flash sale this weekend? Use the banner in the right sidebar of this blog post to check it out! And thanks for supporting this podcast and blog.

My goals for this week were to:

  • Continue progress on the "Everything in It's Place" bag from Anne Unrein's class.
  • Get the binding on the D4P baby quilt.
  • Learn two more stitches on my Sue Spargo class project.
  • Put beads on the prayer flag

Progress:

  • Got the D4P baby quilt done! It has no name, it has no current destination. But it's done!
 
  • Got the beads put on the prayer flag. And a few other things done on it besides. Now I just have to figure out what finishing touches I want to do--it doesn't need much, though, so it won't take long.
 
Cast-on bullion stitch

Cast-on bullion stitch

  • Learn two more embroidery stitches. I learned three, actually--woo! I finally finished lesson four. Took awhile--lesson four stitches are all pretty time-consuming. I only used one on the project; the other two I practiced but decided I didn't want to actually use them yet.

The cast-on bullion stitch (at left) is pretty but very similar to the bullion stitch I did last time; so, since it takes even longer than the bullion stitch, I wasn't in the mood to do it all again. I did one to see how it looked, then cut it back out of the project. I may do one down the road as I still have a heck of a lot of project to embroider, but right now I wanted to do something different.

By the way, being able to slow the video down to 1/4 speed and put it on 30 second repeat helped a lot when I was trying to coordinate my thumbs for that cast-on stitch. Not being a knitter, that  isn't something I've done much and she whipped hers off pretty quickly. After watching her do it very s-l-o-w-l-y several times over I finally got the hang of it.

 
Drizzle stitch

Drizzle stitch

The drizzle stitch is darn cute (at left) but doesn't really work on this current project so I did one for practice and then cut it all off again. Good to know for the future, though. Yep, it's supposed to look like a wad of knots, basically, though generally it would be neater than this. You can't quite tell in this photo that it's 3-D--the stitches hang off like hair or fibers or some such. Cute in the right place--not right for my project. I cut these off when I was done practicing.

 
Double cast-on stitch

Double cast-on stitch

Finally, the third stitch was a keeper on the project this week. The double cast-on stitch is also very, very time-consuming, but pretty cool, and I was able to use it in a very limited space so I wouldn't be working on it for the next three years. I didn't get mine touching each other the way I'd have liked to--it was a little hard to see where my needle was coming out in comparison to the completed stitch before it. And I still need to work on evenness, but that all comes with practice. It's also a matter of learning how your thread will behave. This one was variegated in such a way that it divided in half color-wise, which was kind of neat, but now I know how to picture that ahead of time as I'm choosing threads in the future. 

She has several examples of how she's used this in various ways (as she does with all her stitches) and this one has great possibilities for other places on my project. You may see more of this one later.

  • As for the Anne Unrein purse project? Well, not so much. I looked at it the evening I finished up the baby quilt but decided the next step is not one I can leave half-done easily, and since I'm about the head out of town, it's better to be left until I'm home. So it's on next week's goals--but this time I hope to get it finished!

And yes, it did help listing my goals like this. Mostly, it got finishing that baby quilt stuck in my head until I finally just sat down to knock it out! 

I'm actually on the road as this posts (waving at you as I drive by). I don't get home until Thursday, but I have Friday as a comp day. Friday evening my husband and I need to clear out of the house for a couple of days as my daughter is turning it into a weekend boarding house for her and some of her buddies attending a Comic-Con in the area. We're just staying in town because we've got some things to do locally, so it's not a terribly exciting weekend away, although we'll make the best of it! In any case, I won't have access to my sewing room for the weekend. For all those reasons, my goals are small, and largely involving embroidery that I can bring with me on the weekend jaunt. 

Goals for the week of April 12

  • Learn two more stitches for Sue Spargo class project
  • Finish prayer flag. (It's quite close to being done.)
  • Finish Anne Unrein's Everything in Its Place bag from Craftsy class--maybe. At least, make significant progress.

 

A Finish! Disappearing 4-Patch Done

It's finally done. It's a little ridiculous it took me this long to get around to getting the binding on, but there it is. I had the blocks done before I went to Burma in December ; got the center pieced together in January, got the quilting done in early March and had the binding strips cut about two weeks ago. And it just sat, n' sat, n' sat...

image.jpg

The center is a charm pack by Moda--I've had it for awhile, but I think it's the "Good Morning" line or something like that. I had two of the same charm pack and used one for a lap quilt for a friend of mine last summer who was going through cancer treatments. I like the fabrics--it's nice and cheery. It's supposed to be a non-gender-specific baby quilt but, frankly, it's definitely more girly according to our societal definitions of color assignment (!) so I went with quilting feathers in the border and free-form flowers in the center. I used this to practice some of my developing FMQ skills.  They're a little whonky but better than I used to do. The inner yellow border is a ribbon candy design--gol dang, but that's hard to keep even! 

Still n' all--it's done, and it ain't half bad. And best of all, it's done. Did I mention, it's done?

No intended recipient. It'll hang out on my shelves until some sort of appropriate occasion presents itself. 

Thinkin' about It Thursday

This week, I'm thinkin' ...

  • about stubborn snow.
  • that I really need to do laundry tomorrow.
  • how I have very few clean clothes left in the "professional" category.
  • that I need to have enough to pack on Saturday.
  • how good it feels to have finally finished a project.
  • that it's best not to think too hard about the rest I still have left to finish.
  • about stubborn snow.

(No Thinkin' about It Thursday post next week as I'll be traveling.)

A Nifty Little Tool

I keep forgetting to talk about these, and they're the best new quilting-notion-y thing I've gotten in awhile!

There are any number of "bobbin buddies" out there (and the vast majority of them are named "Bobbin Buddies" which makes it difficult when searching for a particular type). The problem is, most of them don't work with Aurifil thread spools. I've tried golf tees, I've tried clampy things, I've tried blue stopper-type things, and rubber bands just annoy me.

So when I saw a picture of this new type in a magazine, my heart sang. This Aurifil Girl may have finally found the solution!

It took me a few minutes of Googling to find the right ones because the magazine didn't list the supplier. Go figure. But I tracked them down at Erica's Craft and Sewing Center. I got the 20-pack and absolutely love them. They're perfect for my Aurifil but, of course, also work in all the other spools I use too. 

I'm a happy camper. Sometimes it's the little things...

Follow-up on Comments Testing

Hey, y'all. While I was running giveaways and the like, SquareSpace tech support was checking out any comments people were leaving that gave information about whether or not the comment had worked, how they'd accessed the blog, and so forth. Here's what they've found out:

1. Most people who comment directly on the site itself, or through the email version of my blog posts, have no problems. (And, actually, the vast majority of people reported in that they didn't have a problem commenting.)

2. When you want to comment, you're getting redirected to a screen in which you can choose or not choose to actually register on the site. You do not have to register, but you do have to leave a name. This is a spam-protection feature. So if you've been asked to sign in and don't want to, know that it's not necessary to actually register--but it is necessary to leave a name.

3. Commenting by logging in with your Google and Facebook accounts seems to be working fine.

4. To sign in to leave a comment, you have to have enabled pop-up windows for the site. If not, you'll either get a failure message or your screen will just sit there and look at you blankly, in confusion. I can't tell you how to enable pop-up windows--it all depends on your own set-up; you'll need to do a little Internet browsing if you don't know how to do it on your computer.

5. There are particular issues with BlogLovin'. The BlogLovin' feed for the blog doesn't actually reference to my SquareSpace site somehow--BlogLovin' changes the feed. So if you try to comment through BlogLovin', your computer (or whatever device) won't actually know where it's supposed to go to comment. I actually have this same problem when I'm trying to comment on some other people's blogs through Feedly (which I use because I prefer it to BlogLovin'). There are certain blogs I just can't ever comment on through Feedly, but other ones work fine. So if I want to leave a comment on certain blogs, I know I have to go to the blog directly from the web in order to comment. 

6. Under the category of "other": This same issue as #5 may occur in other RSS feed readers. I can also personally attest to occasional issues I have commenting on other blogs when I'm on my iPad--but I don't have those same problems on my iPhone or PC. So there is something just a little funky about the way iPads talk to the Internet or something. 

So, basically, what we found out is that most of you have no problems leaving comments. So I hope you'll continue to do so!

For those of you who have experienced issues, please check the information above to see if any of it may fit your situation. If you've had a completely different experience, then (again) give me very specific information about what you're seeing when you try to comment, how you're trying to access the blog to comment on it, and so forth, and I'll go back to tech support again. Thanks!

Progress and Goals for Week of April 5, 2015

Yeah, I know--I'm entitling this blog post for April 5, which was yesterday, even though I'm writing it today (April 6, Monday). But for some weeks now I've been thinking I should take a page from the books of Jackie at SewExecitedQuilts.com and Philippa from Ozzypipquilts.com and do a post every weekend in which I recap what I've gotten done and set goals for the coming week. That just seems so nicely organized. And I've just become so...well...disorganized. I've been all over the place is my quiltmaking lately and it's time to settle down and move some projects through finishing stages to get them off my cutting table, design wall, or shelves where UFOs go into hibernation. I'm thinking Jackie and Philippa have a good idea--doing a weekly report on my blog may keep me on target. Or, here's hoping, anyway.

I guess I should start with the master list. Oi--this is going to hurt. I won't include this full list every week, though I should probably put it in the sidebar or on it's own page or something; I just always forget to update that kind of thing. Anyway...engines started, here we go:

Things I need to get done in April but haven't started yet:

#JBBOM kit

#JBBOM kit

  • Mug Rug for Sandi at Quilt Cabana Corner's Mug Rug/Potholder Swap--I know what fabric I'm using, and have mentally toyed with several designs. I need to settle on one and execute.
  • April Journal Quilt--no definite thoughts about this one yet, although see art quilt design class-related list of projects below--one will likely become the April journal quilt.
  • April Jinny Beyer Block of the Month (Craftsy)--aka #JBBOM
  • One Feb JBBOM block
  • March JBBOM block--the fact I'm a couple of months behind on this is really stressing me out. I need to devote a couple of days to catching up again.

Works in Progress (things I'm poking away at on an on-going basis)

20150327194201.jpg
  • March Journal Quilt--it's partly done; I probably have another couple of hours of work to do on it.
  • Two bags for Anne Unrein's Craftsy class--first bag is in progress. It's taking a long time. And I had my first temper tantrum over it earlier today. But I'm not giving up!
  • King-sized Jacob's Ladder quilt--first stage of cutting done
  • Sue Spargo Embroidery project
  • Prayer flag--needle-felting and embroidery project that I haven't talked about yet because it was purely spur-of-the-moment; it should only take about an hour of embroidery/finishing.

UFOs (projects that have sat for at least one month or more with no progress being made)

D4P Baby Quilt

D4P Baby Quilt

  • D4P baby quilt--just needs binding. Really? And it's sat for this long?
  • Duffle bag--probably only has about an hour or so left of work to be done. 
  • Color and Curves class project--working on border, then needs quilting/finishing. Probably would only take a few hours to finish, all in.
  • African Star Quilt--the one I did in Ami Simms class in Lancaster last spring. Needs quilting/binding. I want to quilt this one myself.
  • Scrap-in-a-Box--I did most of mine last spring/summer when I was pattern-testing, but didn't finish it once everything moved to Charlotte's blog and I was no longer responsible for the reveal, LOL. I've had breathing room while everyone caught up, but I think next month y'all will be caught up to me, so then the pressure will be on to actually finish it in my lifetime.
  • Color Circles art quilt design class project--needs quilting and finishing
  • "Flames" hand-dyed tapestry project--needs quilting and finishing
  • Art Quilt Map--stalled, went after it with a rotary cutter and completely changed direction, then ended up sort of backing myself into a corner. Need to make a decision about the future of this one.
  • Jelly Roll Sampler--I think all my blocks are made. I just need to decide sashing/no sashing, then get the top pieced and send it out for quilting. This is something that will be a gift for someone who is likely to redecorate before I ever get it done. Need to just get it done!
  • Fibonacci Sequence Quilt--my own very simple design using Fibonacci Sequence. Strips all cut, one block done, another block completely messed up. Need to decide if I'm finishing this or not and if so, figure out what I did wrong.
  • 2008 Guild BOM--blocks all done. Have to decide sashing/no sashing, then get top pieced and send it out for quilting.
  • Katerina Project--this one is an ancient UFO, probably over 10 years old. My own EQ design to use a fabric collection my Mom gave to me for Christmas that year. Some of the finished block sizes were way off, though, so it got set aside. Now I'm no longer in love with the fabric but there's still a lot of sentimental attachment to the project due to its connection with memories of my Mom. Need to decide what I want to do about this one.
  • This one's a little embarrassing, but do y'all remember the Hexie Challenge I did with Pam and Jaye, and I only ever got my Hexies cut out? They're still sitting in that bin. Hmmm.

Projects in Planning Stages but First Cut Hasn't Been Made (so, technically not a UFO in my mind!)

Burma Fabrics

Burma Fabrics

  • Laurel Burch wallhanging--have had fabrics for-freakin-ever; keeping it simple in design. Need to just get 'er done.
  • Art Quilt Design Class project Feather
  • Art Quilt Design Class project Hope out of Darkness
  • Art Quilt Design Class project Monochromatic Trees
  • Art Quilt Design Class project Sunset on the Irawaddy colors
  • Art Quilt Design Class project Finger Lakes Wine Country (FMQ)
  • Art Quilt Design Class project Monochromatic Cave
  • Zipper pouches with fabrics from Burma
  • Hand-dyeing colorways--I want to start working my way through the Ives color wheel and dye sets of fat quarters in every color, several shades/tones/tints of each. That's a long term project but there will be immediate benefit since I'll immediately have new fabrics to put into projects as soon as I get rolling on it!

I'm not yet including in this list the recent UFO I inherited from Vicki (I talked about this an episode or two ago), nor a set of blocks I inherited from Mom years ago that still haven't landed in a project. Those just need to brew for awhile before I worry about getting them on any official list.

UFOs I think I'll be releasing to the wild

Some UFOs just don't jazz me anymore, and I'd be finishing them just to finish them. And there's not enough time in the day for that kind of nonsense. I'm not big into obligation quilting--if I'm going to spend what little, precious time I have in my sewing room on a project, it's one that's really going to jazz me. So there are certain UFOs I think I'm ready to just send on to someone else. I'll ask around at my guild to see if someone wants these.

  • Bow tie blocks--I was playing with a technique I'd learned when I was out on a speaking engagement. I thought it would be a great way to use up 5" squares, which it is. I've got something like 12 or 13 blocks done--just enough for a wheelchair quilt for a guy. It probably wouldn't take all that long to finish, I just have zero interest in putting any more time into it. Someone may love these blocks and enjoy putting it together.
  • Snail-trail top--I believe this one dates back a couple of years to when I was doing creativity challenges on my podcast. I vaguely recall this was my start on the warm color challenge--I did a background with snail trail blocks in black and sort of a taupe-y fabric. The intent was to do applique flowers on the top in oranges/yellows. The background is nice enough but I have no interest in finishing it at this stage.

There may be others I decide to send away to new, loving homes, or ditch altogether if I've learned what I need to learn. These are just the ones I've run across recently that I immediately thought, "Nope, not interested."

Oh, I'm so sure I'm missing something on this master list. But it's enough to make me feel overwhelmed so here's to starting to chunk away at it.

Goals for This Week

I'm home most of the week, though after today I'm back to work. I'm out Tuesday night but I think that's it. I'm gone next week, though, so I'm keeping my goals very limited until after I get back from this next work trip. Then I've got a few weeks of a fairly low-key schedule so I hope to make significant progress then.

This week I plan to:

  • Continue progress on the "Everything in It's Place" bag from Anne Unrein's class. Unlikely to get it finished, but would like to at least feel good about where I'm at.
  • Get the binding on the D4P baby quilt. I mean, really. Can't believe that's still sitting there.
  • Learn two more stitches on my Sue Spargo class project.
  • Put beads on the prayer flag so it's easier to travel with--I'll bring this with me on next week's trip because it's very, very small and easily portable.

Winners of My 5th Podcastaversary Giveaway

Thanks so much to all y'all for being part of my celebration!

I've had a lot of fun reading your comments and will probably do a summary on an upcoming podcast episode.

The winners were:

  • $25 Fat Quarter Gift Certficate: Carole Ann W.
  • Aurifil Thread: Jeanie C.
  • Scrapitude pattern: Jeanne B.
  • PRO Chemical and Dye gift certificate: Carole D.
  • Craftsy class: Helle S.

(I've already emailed all five winners so if your name/last initial matches one of the above, check your email. If you don't have an email from me, that means your Doppelgänger is the winner--sorry!)

I wish I could give all my listeners out there gifts to say "Thank you!" Thanks so much for making these past five years fun, creative, and interesting. Part of the benefit for us podcasters to doing a podcast is that we try to stay on top of our projects knowing we need to have something to talk about! I know I've been much more productive these last few years because I knew I had people waiting to hear about my progress. Accountability, donchaknow.

Also, for me, knowing that I have listeners who enjoy learning new things pushes me to learn new things myself. I likely would have ended up doing art quilting and hand-dyeing and working with fibers eventually one way or the other, but I strongly suspect that having you all sending me encouraging comments, asking questions, and sharing your own experience with me has propelled me forward more effectively than I'd have done on my own. And I know my family is very happy that I have other people to talk about all this with, so I'm not constantly bending their ears about color schemes, accurate 1/4" seams, and struggles with fiddly bits! (They're none too sure about the Mad Quilt Scientist, either, but the less said about her, the better.)

So, thank you, thank you, thank you. And thank you again. 

Now, back to our regularly scheduled programming...

While I've Been Away...Playing with a New App

I left you in the good hands of my 5th Podcastaversary Giveaway and Rafflecopter, while I was off and traveling about. Meanwhile, I entertained myself with playing around with a few new apps on my phone. So far, the big winner--in terms of coolness and actual usability--is Steller. (And no, I'm not an affiliate, so this is just a straight-up review and introduction!)

Steller is a really super-cool storytelling app for smartphones. Steller allows you to create online photo books, of a sort, called stories. You can create pages with photos, videos, or text, or a combo package. It has several very nice templates and several layout options for pages within those templates, so it's pretty simple to learn. It also has a social-networking aspect in that you can follow and be followed by other Steller users, "like" a story, and leave comments. A lot of Steller users are professional photographers so just scrolling through all the Steller stories available is wonderful eye-candy. I'm a particular fan of the travel-related stories. Gorgeous. There are also a lot of stories that are recipes with step-by-steps included that may be useful, although I haven't tried any yet to know how well that works in the kitchen. 

When I first found it, I thought (of course), "This will be GREAT for documenting the process on quilts!" I've thereby got a Steller WIP on one of my quilty WIPs going on. Meanwhile, to learn the app and to entertain myself on my second trip that involved a ton of time sitting around in airports, here are the three Steller stories I've created to date.

Story #1:  I had pictures from our vacation to Washington D.C. handy on my phone still, so it was pretty fast to throw together. I was just learning the basics so I didn't get fancy with anything--it's pretty straightforward.

In Story #2, I had other photos on my phone from fibers I'd recently acquired. I messed around a little more with Steller layout options on this one.

For Story #3, I had to wait until I could get on WiFi and download a few photos from one part of my trip to Burma. I only did a little photo editing and for some reason I couldn't download a couple of the videos I have related to this, so this one is still fairly straightforward at this point. I might edit it later to make it a little more whiz-bang.

Finally, Story #4 is the one that kept me entertained in airports. I decided I may as well kill time messing around with all the various photo and video apps I have on my phone--and I have a lot. So you'll see at the end I listed which ones I used in this particular Steller story.

Super-cool, right? Love this app. It's probably my favorite new app find of the year. I even got @carolewool hooked. Here's a link to one of her Steller stories. (She beat me to the punch on getting one done on a quilt process--mine's not finished yet! The project is taking me a lot of time to work through so it may be awhile...) I've found several people to follow--including one young man who is documenting his study-abroad semester in India, which is fascinating!

You can follow Steller on Twitter if you're not sure you want to actually sign up for the app yet--they tweet links to newly posted Steller stories (although only featured ones), so you can see what they're like. You can also set up a Steller account even if you never intend to create a story, and only want to be part of the network. It really is a beautiful app.

I use it on my iPhone (it's not available for iPad but I'm checking out similar iPad apps to decide if I like them as well); it's also available as an Android app. I really do suggest you check it out!

Keep an eye out for an upcoming post on my favorite photo editing apps. Like I said, I have a lot, but a few are standouts! 

March 2015 Craftsy Class Update

If you're looking for my 5th Podcastaversary Giveaway, click here.

Hey, did you know that Craftsy now also has some downloadable ebooks? Check out this one on hand embroidery--it's free! Just click on the image to the left to find it.

This month wasn't stellar for me in terms of progress because I was gone for pretty much the last two weeks of the month--one week on vacation, the next week for work.  I did manage to get a couple of classes done, though--woo for me! Plus, while traveling, I did make some progress here and there on other classes. I'm so glad I now have embroidery to take with me on trips. I don't often get time to just sit and relax with a hand project (even on vacation!) but it was nice to have it with me for those spare moments that I did have that opportunity. That being said, the beginning of April is a little hairy as well, but by mid-month things settle down again and I should be happily ensconced back in my sewing room on a more regular basis.

New Completions

(+2)

Classes in Progress

(7--I know, it seems like a lot all at once, but it all depends on if I'm on the road or at home, doing class projects or just watching, etc. Note that they're "in progress," not "being finished as we speak.")

Classes added this month

(+4)

  • Clever Cuts for Efficient Quilting with Debbie Caffrey--got so much out of the first one of hers (see review here) that when this one went on sale, I went ahead and got it. It's technique more than project so I'm just watching the lessons for now and will apply techniques to future projects.
  • Stitch it with Wool: Crewel Embroidery with Kristin Nicholas--this has been on my wish list for a long time; I'd just decided to do Sue Spargo's class first. Again, when it went on sale, I figured I may as well pick it up to have it at the ready when I'm done with the other.
  • Love Your Vegetables with Anna Bullet--I'd just signed up for another CSA (Community Supported Agriculture--a delivery of fresh produce weekly from a local farm) for this summer earlier on the day I got the Craftsy sale announcement and decided this might help me find new ways to use some of the heaps of greens I tend to get. I didn't do a CSA last summer, but you can see posts from previous years here. (I was recently re-reading my posts to refresh my memory about recipes I'd developed and decided my favorite line from all of my CSA posts was this: "Basically I assess most foods on a how-are-they-as-a-goat-cheese-delivery-device scale." True dat.)
  • The Essential Guide to Photoshop with Skott Chandler--I use Photoshop all the time for work and play but have never really learned more than the basics and a couple of nifty tricks. So when I saw this new shop posted on Craftsy, I grabbed it. 

Classes To Be Completed

Current count: (16, +2 from last month since I'd finished a few as well)  

Completed Classes

Current count: 53 (+2)

It's My Fifth Podcastaversary--and a HUGE Giveaway! Woo Woo Woo Woo!

"It's my podcastaversary, it's my podcastaversary, it's my podcastaversary..."

Okay, so that doesn't have quite as much groove to it as the birthday chant, but hey, it's still a big deal! Five whole years of podcasting--woo woo! 

I've heard from several new listeners in the last few weeks that they've gone back to start listening from my very first episodes. Even I'm not that brave. We've come a long way, baby.

It's been five years of learning, experimenting, messing up, but having a ball. It's also been five years of talking to some very, very interesting people.

There's been Jaye of www.artquiltmaker.com, of course, for a lot of episodes. She helped me and--I know from comments--a lot of you learn a lot more about design principles and elements. Thanks so much, Jaye!

The roll call of the rest of the people I've interviewed? It's a long one! Let's see, there's: Tara Thom (long-arm quilter); Anne Sayuri Fujiwara Clausen (Hawaiian quilter); Beth Davis (quilt appraiser); several members of my guild--some of whom I had to twist their arms a bit; Charlotte Hawkes (Scrapitude designer, now of www.scrapitudequilts.com);  E. Aminata Brown of BabaBlanket.com; Amy Milne, executive director of the Alliance for American Quilts; Hollis Chatelain (www.hollisart.com); Kim Templin, designer of the Double Diamond Ruler; Erin Rissberger of Quilting Acres (hand-dyed wool); Lauren Sgranfetto (threadpainter); the meet-up during the Mid-Atlantic Quilt Festival in Hampton, VA (can you believe that was 3 years ago?); Karen Lee Carter, quilt artist (here's her Facebook page); Tiffany Sherman of Quilter's Corner; AJ of the Quilting Pot podcast; Kimberly Einmo (www.kimberlyeinmo.com); Wendy Butler Berns (www.wendybutlerberns.com); Jane Dunnewold (www.janedunnewold.com); Carol Ann Waugh (www.carolannwaugh.com); Valerie Goodwin (www.quiltsbyvalerie.com); and Ami Simms (www.amisimms.com).(Did I miss anyone? I sure hope not!) I haven't been doing so many interviews lately because my schedule went all haywire, but I love doing them so you're likely going to hear more in the future! 

But, forasmuch as I love talking about quilting, and forasmuch as I love doing interviews, what I really, really love is the conversation with listeners. That's why I always keep listener feedback as a part of my episodes--I think you've got some great stuff to say and I want to make sure you can all learn from each other. So keep those comments going!

The Giveaway

In thanks to all of my listeners, in honor of my fifth podcastaversary I have FIVE great birthday presents to give away. Lots of really, really great ones! I wish I could enter my own giveaway!

There's a $25 gift certificate from the Fat Quarter Shop for one lucky winner! Thanks, Fat Quarter Shop, for being a sponsor of my birthday party!

Ooh, I bet you can't wait to go shopping! If you win this one, I'll send your email address to our friends at the Fat Quarter Shop and they'll email you the gift certificate so you can start shopping in your jammies right away.

 

There's a really beautiful collection of Aurifil thread for one lucky winner! Thanks so much, Aurifil, for being a sponsor of my birthday! We all know I'm an Aurifil girl!

This Reel Time collection of 12 50-wt large spools goes for $130 in the wild. It could possibly be yours for the low, low price of having listened to 179 episodes of me. (Well, okay, maybe you've not listened to any episodes and you've just stumbled across this giveaway and want to take your chances. That's okay too! The more, the merrier!)

 

One very fortunate person will win a free copy of Charlotte's Scrapitude pattern! Thanks, friend Charlotte, for sponsoring my birthday party!

Remember Scrapitude, the mystery quilt I posted on my blog in 2013-2014? Charlotte is giving one lucky winner a free copy of the pattern she has now published and has for sale.

The picture is my completed Scrapitude quilt, aka ScrapiBonzaTude. To see other people's completed Scrapitudes, visit the Scrapitude Flickr group. To see what Charlotte is up to these days, or to get the clues for her 2015 mystery quilt, Scrap-in-a-box, visit her website at www.scrapitudequilts.com. It's going on right now--the reveal will be in another month or two so you'll want to catch up!

 

And one person will be the lucky winner of a $10 gift certificate to PRO Chemical & Dye at www.prochemical.com. Thanks, PRO Chemical & Dye, for sponsoring my birthday party!

Haven't you always wanted to be able to create gorgeous, one-of-a-kind fabrics? C'mon, you know you do. (See one of my own faves at left.) PRO Chem also has fabric paints, fabric markers, stamps and molding mats, Shiva paintsticks, tie-dye supplies, PFD fabrics and yarns, plus lots of books and videos on how to use all this great stuff. If none of that appeals to you, they sell collections of hand-dyed gradation fabrics (already dyed for you!) in beautiful colors.

 

And, finally, it wouldn't be a Sandy Giveaway without...drumroll please...a Craftsy class to give away! Thank you, Craftsy, for sponsoring my fifth birthday!

Yes, one lucky winner will win a free Craftsy class of their choice! If you win this one, I'll send you a special link for you to use to go to Craftsy's site to choose your class. If you don't already have a free Craftsy account, you'll be prompted to set one up when you use the link. (If you've been a blog or podcast follower of mine for any length of time, you'll definitely know how valuable I think their classes are!)

 

Use this Rafflecopter widget to enter in the giveaway. Five winners total!

This giveaway ends at midnight, Eastern time, on Sunday, April 4th, here in the United States. 

(Remember, just leaving a comment below will not enter you in the giveaway. You must use the Rafflecopter widget.)

Have fun!

Fight the Funk Friday

Today, I'm fighting the funk by gettin' outta Dodge. 

I'm heading into a spate of travel for the next couple of weeks--some fun, some work.

No Thinkin' about It Thursday or Fight the Funk Friday posts for the next couple of weeks. But hopefully some of this travel will up the step count for me!