Monday, April 30, 2012

A new week, but no new projects!

That should be my mantra... NO NEW PROJECTS! But I have made a teensy bit of progress on a current project. After sleeping most of last week because I was sick and finishing a queen sized quilt the week before which will be given to its new owner this week it was high time to get back to the New York Beauty project! So I finished up the second of two pink and orange blocks that I am still not sure I'm wild about and chose colors for the last two blocks of the set of 16.

Yes, I broke out the color wheel for this one because I apparently can't come up with a nice quad color arrangement beginning with purple without a little assistance. I even got a good start on them last night watching TV over the top of the couch... I could get used to this 'sewing machine in the living room' arrangement I have right now. I have a small composite board sitting on a milk crate to my left with some batting and muslin and my mini iron for the pressing and a tiny bit of cutting board space just to the left of the machine. Aside from being pretty cramped it works great for sewing in the evening after the preteen who shares my sewing room has gone to bed - with the added bonus that my husband does not feel abandoned (just ignored! ;-) ). 
So here is the progress on the last two blocks...

And the whole things as it is so far

My least favorite blocks are the pink and orange 8 ray pair that are opposite each other... I think they might be too light or something. Maybe I should replace the current green center with a darker green of the same hue? Would that help? I think I am also not a huge fan of the super narrow rays - I much prefer the 4 or 6 ray blocks. This pair is also one of the only blocks that does not have a solid band between the main rays and the center... maybe that throws things off. What do you think? Should they stay? Do they add something needed to the set or should I rethink the pattern for that spot? I was also not thrilled with the way they went together... too many areas that won't iron flat and lots of bulk at the join between the 8 rays and the 4 rays.- there are no actual puckers, but those areas won't press nice and flat. 

So there is my design wall today. What does yours look like? Check out Design Wall Monday over at Patchwork Times to see what everyone else in blog land is up to this week. 

Friday, April 27, 2012

Friday already

Well, here it is Friday. I feel like I have spent most of the week asleep on the couch! One more in the house has fallen to the bug, although it doesn't seem to be as bad. I thought about posting a "finish" today, goodness knows I have posted about the project here before; but now that it is finished I feel like maybe I should wait until next week after I actually gift it to its new owner before posting it here. So... I do have one more zendala for Erin's challenge. She has posted a new one for the week by now, but I'll link it up if I still can. I went with good old black ink for this one, those pens have a finer nib - I sort of felt like I was using crayons with the colored pens I have! Here it is. Hope you have a great weekend.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Not feelin' it this week...

but trying all the same, and that is what its all about right?
I am weighed down this week by sadness for a friend who lost her 8 year old daughter to a chronic and ultimately fatal disorder that had plagued her from birth. It was particularly poignant for me because I have known this woman for years and my own 8 year old was due the same week as her girl. He has lived, so far, a pretty charmed and healthy life. Whenever I read of the difficulties this little girl was having all I could do was feel both thankful and a little guilty for my own good fortune.

I have also been following with a heavy heart the blogging of a person I have come to respect through her writings as she begins the process of losing her father. Her struggle is unlike mine was this past December in that her father has been able to make the decisions for himself and has had time to have cherished conversations with both his children and grandchildren. My father went precipitously and once the decision was made to keep him comfortable he was asleep and gone within 24 hours, not even long enough for me to get there. She has been kind enough to share some of her feelings about this time and the loss she can see coming.

Between the little girl and the older man, both of whose stories share aspects of my own father's final days I have been introspect and a bit down. On top of that, my three year old has so generously shared yet another illness with me so we are both down with fatigue, wracking coughs and in her case a pretty ferocious fever. We have been sleeping a lot! I have also been completing the final steps on a quilt that will be gifted to its new owner late next week. It is finished! If the wind ever stops blowing I will take a photo...its official portrait. I have fallen off the New York Beauty wagon a bit, I got one new one done... and I don't like it much which is discouraging. I decided to draw a bit while the little girl slept in my lap yesterday and got one done that satisfies both the Zendalla challenge over at The Bright Owl and the Diva challenge for the week. Take a look...

The evenness of the lines and regularity of the motifs is not up to my usual standard... but everything withstanding I like the representation of 'things earthy'. I will play with this Zendalla template more, and maybe do another with earthy things... there are lots of tangles that remind me of earthy stuff! But this is it for now! I am off to paint a certain 3 year old's toe nails and probably read a story or work on rhyming and then go to bed early!

Friday, April 20, 2012

I'm Free!

OK, I've always been 'free' in many senses of the word, but yesterday I actually did some free motion quilting, which has not happened in many moons.
I made the decision to follow the Free Motion Challenge over at SewCalGal at the beginning of the year because it seemed doable... once a month, low commitment. I did January's, worked on February's but did not get enough practice to have a satisfactory result, March's challenge was very ambiguous and I had a heck of a month filled with other things and April's tutorial is about transferring patterns, which is not what really concerns me.
So I have been going back to the tutorials posted at the Free Motion Quilt Along with Leah Day. Initially these seemed pretty high commitment since she posts one every week. I wasn't sure I could keep up! But, I have always admired Leah's quilting and the methodical way in which she approaches things. So far this year she has covered a lot about stippling, which is about the only free motion free hand pattern I am comfortable with and have used in actual quilted items. I have not done it much in a large scale, but the small scale and I are good buddies (there is a small example in the January Challenge entry linked above). So I did not go back and start from the beginning, although I did do some warm ups with some of the ideas in her tutorials. I think the idea of quilting roughly in 'rows' is probably going to help me the most, especially with patterns that are newer to me. I got to sit down for a couple of hours yesterday with some practice sandwiches and some lovely tangerine quilting thread that I got on super clearance - like .50c for a 350yd spool. I played with the Sharp Stippling tutorial for this week. This was what I got...
Larger scale - sorry, it is out of focus

smaller scale
I like this pattern, but I don't think I currently have anything I would use it on. I felt like I was being very repetitive with the motifs in the moment and whenever I tried to throw some variation in there I tended to get myself into trouble. However, when viewed as a finished whole I don't think it looks overly repetitive. I do find that instead of 'flames' my habitual shape looks more like 'whale flukes' and I really have to watch myself because I will throw in an out of place curve instead of a sharp point if I let my mind wander too much. Truly large 'large scale' did not happen... I wonder if it is a factor of the difficulty in moving the fabric and getting the hang of repositioning my hands or if it more that my frugal self wants to fit in as much practice on the small sandwich as I can get!

Then as a reward I quickly sandwiched a mini I just finished and FM quilted that. Here it is with the binding still pinned, although it has been sewn on by hand now. I did not mark the center at all and marked only the spine and a few diagonal placing lines for the feathers. It is cute, but I have no idea what I will use it for. Do you need a practical use for things you make too, or is the creative process enough? I thought I was getting a bit away from the practical urge (I made a mini in the first place didn't I?) but I still have those pangs occasionally (it was made with left over bits cut off other blocks after all... can't waste anything!).

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

seeing auras...

The Zentangle challenge this week over at The Diva is to use aura's in your tangling... so I sat down and tried a few different things. So many of the patterns have auras built in and so many of the ones that don't do not lend themselves to including them so it was harder than I thought it would be. Here are the two best and a third that was more of a chance to play with a cool new tangle pattern I found several weeks ago, Mi2 that has aura-like lines incorporated in it already.

I like this one pretty well, although I find myself getting stuck on tangles that form a line lately.  I was a little free in my interpritation of 'an aura' in the one case... it leaked out into swirls and loops and ended and began at will.  Florz with an aura really changes the focus and usual appearance of the pattern.

In this one the 'Nzeppel is the most effected by the aura I think, again changing the whole appearance. The Sanibelle is interesting with the single aura and I really like the boxy look of the Hollibaugh with the auras - it looks mechanical and jittery. 

This was me playing with Mi2. I had lots of fun with the swirlies on the side. 

Monday, April 16, 2012

More Beauties

I have been plugging away at my NYB blocks. I need 4 more to complete the 4x4 layout I have in mind right now. The colors are becoming a little more challenging because I have some restrictions set by what has been used already and how to make it balanced and right in the layout I have in mind. I will need one set of two from one pattern that are both colored the same, and one set of two from another pattern that are colored differently to complete the scheme.

While piecing these blocks I have managed to complete the set of HST blocks for another quilt center (right) and border a little mini that was trimmings left over from something else. Yea for efficiency!
To see what other industrious quilters are up to today check out DWM over at Patchwork Times. I am off this morning to pick up the teacher quilt I have posted about from the long arm quilter... I am anxious to see how the quilting has come out. Have a great Monday.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Finally some Zentangle action...

I have been seriously out of sorts with my tangling efforts since the beginning of the year. When I have had the time (which hasn't been often) to sit and tangle I have been sorely disappointed in my efforts. I have tried to keep up with the challenges presented by The Diva but have not actually posted one in months, although a few have been even been finished. Through it all I figured that it was just a matter of over-thinking... in the beginning I was just making random stabs at it and doing passingly well. Then the process got a bit too cerebral and that took the natural flow away and I had the previous good results to 'live up to'. I needed to get back in there and just do it and get over the slump. Sometimes I just want to quickly draw one or two patterns over and over with no plan and no expectation of a decent looking whole in the end and I have let myself do that some too which has helped. So along comes a different challenge... or 'dare' as she calls it over at "The Bright Owl". Erin will be posting mandala templates for tangling and hosting a link-up each time. I thought that the new format might just bump me out of my rut. So here is the result for the first 'dare'... two versions.

I should have chosen something other than paradox for those inner triangles... it loses so much of its punch in isolation like that. I'm not sure what I was doing in the four circles... but I like it as a whole - ironically it looks better in this smaller version than it does in my book! As usual, the Mooka lends a bit of a deco feel to the whole thing. 

I like the garden-y feel of this second one... a little Tufted, a little Facets, some Fescu and an uneven Fengle in the middle. I love how the unbounded sides of Mumsy look like they are larger than the bounded sides... totally an illusion since it all fits in the same original circle. Overall sort of spring like - also looking better here than in my book. Maybe I should scan all my pieces in and look at them on the computer, maybe I would be happier with the results more regularly!

So thanks to Erin for daring us to try the Zendalla format. It should be interesting to see what comes of it.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Wow, actual progress!

I have actual progress to report on projects that existed before this week! How novel!  We will not mention that one of them was started the week before last... let's just focus on the forward movement, shall we.

This week I have... worked more on the New York Beauty block set that I started... well, I said we weren't going to talk about that. I think I know what direction I am going in now and have a sort of layout plan in my head. Here they are...I like the identical blocks opposite from each other and the same block patterns with different colors pieced together, I think it gives it some 'order'. I still have to play with the layout and figure out where I need to go from here, but I think this will be the general idea. I also decided to slow down, do one block at a time and the curved piecing has been going better. I think I just got excited and was trying to rush through. 

While piecing those I have been working on the HST UFO from ages ago. I think I have all the blocks I need plus a few. I need to shuffle them about and find the final balance and then I can sew them together.

I have also been working on the second to last blocks of my Tweets applique again. I have some leaves left to make, but everything else is made and glue basted and I am well into stitching many of the elements. No picture of this one, sorry. Maybe next week when I have the leaves finished.

So those are works in progress this week. I am stoked to be making progress again!  Now I need to actually, you know QUILT a flimsy once in a while! Check out other people's progress for the week over at Freshly Pieced.

Monday, April 9, 2012

A Monday Post Inspired by last Weeks Design Wall!

This last week was spring break around here and I figured with the two youngest home by myself there would not be much sewing time, but it turns out that I must spend most of my time going back and forth from school, the bus stop and activities because with those all on hold there was more time than I thought. I also basically didn't cook and the youngest must be growing because she napped several times late in the afternoon until early evening. That and I could stay up as late as I wanted in the sewing room because the other inhabitant was off hiking 30 miles on the AT.

So there are two things going on in the sewing room here now. The first is my new weakness, New York Beauty blocks. You can read more about my fall from my former grace (not having gotten sucked into tempting new projects)  here - but the short story is that I was pushed over the edge by a Design Wall post of a friend from last week. I have only two more blocks than when I 'started' because the hikers got home severely limiting my late nights in the sewing room. However, despite the lack of time my other problem seems to be that I am getting stuck with colors now... I like what I have so far, don't want to duplicate and am worried about ruining the feel and balance of the mix. Ugh. At first I had not expectation and therefore was totally free... now I feel constrained by what I already have and am stuck. I actually like the half finished block better in the photo than IRL so maybe it is OK. The green and purple was originally supposed to go on the gold and red paper pieced section but they just didn't get along. My curved piecing is also going down the tubes. I started out pretty well and have maybe started to think about it too much or something because it is getting worse instead of better. I have to find a way back to the 'fun' with this one or I will never get enough to do anything with.

The other one that I am working on as leaders and enders while I paper piece is this ancient 2.5" HST project. These are all waste triangles from the pinwheel bed sized quilt pictured below that I made ages ago. I began trimming down the HST sets leftover from all those corners and sewing them into blocks long ago when I was obsessed with the pattern from the flannel lap quilt also shown below, which was also made ages ago. The untrimmed HST's have been sitting in a basket awaiting trimming and sewing together for a long time... they sort of feel like part of the decor of the sewing room by now. I realized that I could actually almost see the bottom of the basket and thought this would be a great leader-ender project. I would love to get this together and decide what else it needs to be 
'finished' as one of my quarterly FAL projects. I am within a few blocks of being done and then I just have to do a little moving blocks about to establish balance and then I can piece the center together. I just now realized that they are arranged differently than the flannel lap quilt... I guess the accent corners in the lap (pink) are on every block and the accent corners on the one above are on every other block so it looks very different... interesting. So I guess I might play with the arrangement  some as well and see what developes. Any suggestions for what to add to the outside to make it larger?  I have a stack of HST's of the background tan and the solid red from the border of the original, but I am not sure if it is enough to do much of anything with. I will have to count and see. If nothing else I will use them in the backing somehow. 

To check out what other people are up to this week check out Design Wall Monday over at Patchwork Times.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Oh I am so WEAK!

I have resisted lots of temptation this year.... I did not get involved in the Swoon craze, although I love that block. I have not been tempted by the granny squares. I did not succumb to the Farmers Wife QAL. I did catch a mild case of hexie fever, but it was a small project and it was done before the holidays, as in pieced, quilted, bound and gifted. That is like a minor miracle around here, a finished quilt in less than a decade. I have also resisted some great sales and been trying to work on what I have or at least with the stash I have on hand.
You know where this is going right?
I got a little too interested in the Design Wall Monday post of a friend of mine who is working on New York Beauty blocks with a QAL. Her's are turning out fabulous. That piqued my interest... I started browsing around at the hosting blogs... found the list of downloadable block patterns... got to thinking about the large pile of jewel tone Quilters Candy semi-solids I have in the drawers upstairs... ugh.
So here is where I am after nap time yesterday plus 6 hours late at night last night...

The bug is still buzzing in my ear so I will have to make more. There are lots of blocks I haven't tried! The thing is I don' really enjoy paper piecing... it is kind of a pain and I find it very slow. I am improving my non-existent curved piecing skills... so that is good right? I do love the finished blocks and I prefer the random arrangement so I need enough to make it, well, random looking. I guess the best news out of this is that I made myself make the binding for the quilt at the quilters right now before I began. AND, I can leader/ender HST's together to make blocks for another, very old UFO that is up on the smaller design wall right now. SO maybe I will have that together by the time I am done with this obsession.
So, as far as works in progress... this is a *sigh* NEW project. I am leader/endering a waste triangle project from long ago, made the binding for the gift quilt I should get back this month and made no progress on anything else... even the half quilted holiday wreath top. I am so lame! Check out other's works in progress over at Freshly Pieced.