Wednesday 30 December 2015

The STATS Are In!

I started writing this blog near the end of January 2015. It was a "New Year Decision", I don't really believe in resolutions. I had joined forces with some other quilters working on a special project (which I can't talk about yet, it's still under the Quilters Protection Program) and many of them are bloggers. I felt left out...all the cool kids had blogs. Herd mentality is not lost on me, so naturally I needed one too.

Writing is something I enjoy and in fact, before the blog came to fruition,  it was something I had forgotten that I enjoyed. I used to journal a lot in my scrapbooks, and back in the day I loved writing papers for school...but blogging! This has been so much fun! Why? Because people actually read it!

I may or may not be obsessed with a little Blogger feature that lets me know people are reading, how they found me and what country they're reading in... STATS. They make my day. I toss up a new post and bam...people read it! And more, there's proof:

I give you my TOP 10 POSTS OF 2015,
*as determined by you, the readers.

When I hit the button to see the "All Time" results, I was a little surprised at some of the results. I am a new blogger, I rarely link up with anything or anybody and I do very little to promote my blog...I just like writing it so the numbers certainly startled me; 687 hits on the block call for Project Kona Nerds, Unite! Go way, b'y!  So far I have written 92 posts, which amazes me in itself, and only a couple of the posts that made the cut were among my favourite pieces. Though I am certain in comparison to the stats of lots of long standing & popular bloggers my stats are piddly widdly...but, my numbers are growing, which means my readership is growing...this pleases me.

So, thanks for reading along with me this year...I appreciate the time it takes to read my posts.
I ramble...I know.

Tuesday 29 December 2015

Snow Day...Kona Day: TAKE TWO

So when I left you a couple days ago I was here...

Looked alright, hey? Yah...but....

When I looked at it I immediately had regrets about that little spot in the joining patchwork between the rows where the colourful triangles turn into a deep blue strip. Had I planned more carefully (or at all!) I could have made what hinted at an arrow an actual arrow. If only...sigh...

You know me...or at least by now you should if you've been reading along for any length of time. I don't like to go back. And, I rarely do. But this spot with all that wasted potential has been eating at me...calling out to me...driving me crazy. I've lost sleep over it. (*Well not really...the lost sleep was more of a side effect of a teenage boy who plays Xbox online, rather loudly, with other creatures of the darkness his friends half the night long; I am almost certain the intent of this teenage activity is soley to torture the over tired parents who attempt sleep in the next room.)  Anyway, while I was awake at 2am my thoughts drifted between this little arrow and the one I wanted to poke in my eye. Or his eye. Take your pick.

So...this afternoon I got out my handy dandy stitch ripper, cut & added in a couple more wee triangles and sewed things back up.

See? So much better! It's the small things that get me every time.

Sometimes reverse is a necessary gear...and sometimes a snow day gives you just the time and all the permission you need to go back, Jack.

Sunday 27 December 2015

Snow Day...Kona Day

I had storm chips...and storm chocolate, storm whiskey and storm cookies. I also had a bit of time on my hands and the desire to dig out Project: Kona Nerds Unite! You might say I had everything a girl could ask for, seeing how there were even enough leftovers in the fridge to keep me from doing much in the kitchen come suppertime.

Mr. Purpleboots and Not-So-Little Purpleboots seriously spoiled me this year for Christmas. Among other things, they got me this simple little cabinet I've been pining over for my sewing corner. I'd like another one to help corral my mess in the corner of the rec room. Ever since The Robot came to roost in my sewing room I've had to resort to commandeering the corner as he takes up most of the floorspace in that wee room leaving no room for sewing. I'm not thrilled with the set up, but at least I have a spot. The boys aren't thrilled with my presence in there as it means the overhead lights need to be on when I want to sew. Problem? Seems these bright light cast a glare on the television screen. Poor Petals. At least they don't complain too much. They do seem to like my cooking so are treading lightly in the complaint department lest I get annoyed and go on strike or worse.

Once we put the little cabinet together last night, I dug out a couple lil wooden whiskey crates that I'd squirrelled away quite some time ago. These make great hiding spots for some of my threads. I'm going to drill and put dowels in the bottoms of them eventually to tame the roly poly spools...eventually. I might even stain them with something to age them a bit...might. Rome wasn't built in a day! My Rome ain't likely to be built in a 100 days!

So...about that Kona.

I love Kona. Have I told you that lately? I managed to get another row attached to the top half. I cut a whack of little 60* triangles to form a row of joining patchwork, made some other weird bits & pieces and whipped up some checkerboards too. I am totally swooning over the aqua and cardinal together. Yum. I have no idea how long this flimsy will be at its completion, but the width at present is 76" so it'll be a good sized quilt.

(And seriously. The SKY block...check out that is HAND PIECED and covered in awesome sauce! Wow! Some Kona Nerds are hardcore.)

I forgot to take process photos. But, I did manage to grab a shot or two of my mess. Kona Nerds are notoriously messy creatures I hear...or maybe it's just this one in particular. Quilty folks with design walls (as opposed to design floors like me) can't possibly have THIS much mess fun. This jumbled "layout" happened right about the time Mr. Purbleboots came home to a warm and exuberant greeting from the Springy Things...laminate flooring is clearly too damn slick to turn sharp corners on for the two 4 footed speed demons that reside here. At any rate, the mess was gratifying and easily tidied up just like the chocolates I opened earlier. If you look closely at the photo below you'll see that Cooter left his orange ball by the Project...poor dog got tired of begging me to go play and instead snoozed the afternoon away in the big chair.

The snow outside? Well, that's not tidied up...or exactly gratifying in any way. Oh well, there are chippies and there is whiskey. And while there may not be snow worthy ambition, there's always more Kona.

Saturday 19 December 2015

Tree Time Continued...

So remember when I said that the kids were pretty little when we started cutting our own trees down in New Ross? Well, they were really little!

Turns out after a little investigation that the first year was 2006, 9 years ago. I did a lot of scrapbooking back when my boy was little, and I just love looking back thru the albums...Not-So-Little PurpleBoots was indeed a Little PurpleBoots back then. Good grief, how he's grown. How they've all grown! Katie is in her first year at university, Cam started high school and Ben is in his last year of junior high. Time flies!

Anyway,  back to 2015. I took my wee quilt with me in hopes that a photo opportunity might work in to the event, but after all these years of practice, we've got this tree chopping gig down to a science and we were in and outta there in record time. I did manage to nab just one shot, but the wind blew my perfectly draped quilt off it's corner perch just as I pushed the button.

For the first time in Clevey history (*that's Levy + Cleveland reduced)  we've got a pine tree. A very tiny pine tree. In fact it's not even as tall as the book case by which it stands. The teeny weeny pine tree is adorable and the boy loved it at first sight but it isn't without its issues. The branches are rather flimsy, the trunk twisted and gaping holes have appeared that weren't exactly noticed when he saw it standing proudly at the edge of the lot, shining like a beacon of Christmas joy, begging to be the chosen one.

I suppose a mother should be more conservative in handing her son the saw with permission to cut whatever tree makes him happy...especially when the challenge of decorating is left to her.  I didn't manage to get many ornaments to stay put on its limbs but all the special ones are there and the weight of the star is attempting to push the weak spine of the tree top into downward dog position, a position that seems more possible with each passing day.

It's is fair to say that this pueny pine certainly gave me a run for my money, all $13 of it. Yup. You read that right. 13 bucks. That's all we pay for our annual Christmas conifer. Seems such a pidly amount when one considers the enormous role of the tree in the making of a family Christmas, doesn't it?

Monday 7 December 2015

Tree Time

It's fast approaching.
Do you have fond memories of tying a big ole Christmas tree to the roof of your car like I do? When I think of some of the trees I've lugged home over the years tied to the roof or somehow stuffed into a hatchback over the years it makes me chuckle. This fabric reminded me of all those fun times.....

I grabbed this charm pack of Holly's Tree Farm and the 2 supporting half yards at Avonport Discount Fabrics in the Valley a few weeks ago and on Saturday night I decided to nab a couple hours of stitching time to whip up a little table square for myself. I don't tend to keep many of the small things I sew at Christmastime but I loved this fabric instantly, so this one's for me.

I dug out the Lil Twister tool that's been tucked in a drawer for years. It's the perfect tool to use when you've got 5" precuts...little work, big impact...and quick! I sewed these charms out in a 6 by 6 grid and added a 3 inch border of Kona Silver, because every project needs a little Kona. Then I cut up my made panel with the slick, so quick. Just remember to lay them out in the same order in which you cut them or your twirling bits will get confused...

You lose about a third of the size in the never ceases to shock me how much smaller the project becomes once you cut it up and restitch the new blocks. I added a 4.25" border with mitered corners. This was about as big as I could go with the half yard cut of adorable tree-toting-car fabric I had to work with and I think it looks about right. The table topper finished up at about 30" square and suits the center of my oval table perfectly. A little Robot magic with Dawna Sanders design "Twinkling Snowflakes"  and we were all set!

Next weekend we'll make our annual trip to New Ross to cut our Christmas tree...and since there's no stuffing a big tree in a tiny Jeep we'll lug it home with Mr. PurpleBoots truck. I love this tradition...we've been sharing it with StepSister PurpleBoots and her family for many years. All the kids were pretty little when we started cutting our own trees, we've been to the same tree farm every year for I don't know how long. Rumor was that the old fella who runs it was making 2014 his last season, but I drove by there a couple weeks ago and his sign was up! It positively made my day!

Yay for longstanding traditions!!!

Sunday 29 November 2015

Technical Difficulties...First World Problems

Is there anything more frustrating than not knowing how to make a computer do what you want it to do? If only I had more experience with all these gizmos's and gotta-haves; I have just enough knowledge of computers to make me dangerous and not quite enough to make me efficient. The world might well be at my fingertips, but its the curse words on the tip of my tongue that are glaringly obvious at this moment.

I have always blogged using my Samsung tablet, but this morning it was downstairs keeping the Robot company so I decided that I would attempt to write using my new laptop; a whizzy new thing that is loaded up with Windows 10...which I might add is a beast of a learning curve for someone who is still thinking in Vista terms. Because I am an Android user and all my "stuff" is linked to my Google profile I wanted this laptop to default to my Google settings. I know there is likely a simple way to make this thing do just that but do you think I can figure out how to get rid of the seemingly default "@hotmail" user settings? I can chose my Google account, but I can't make it default. Clearly an equally forceful troop of Gremlins possess the Microsoft world as they do the Google world...damn Gremlins, foiling my every attempt to make this mornings blogging an enjoyable experience. If my laziness were able to thwart my stubbornness I'd have gone to the basement to retrieve my tablet an hour and a half ago. But, here I am typing for the first time on my laptop; virtue seized, but not rewarded.

All I really wanted to do was tell you about the Maritime Modern Quilt Guilds sew in yesterday. The Enabler hosted it in the top floor sun room at her condo building that overlooks the Bedford Basin...what a view! I stayed up way too late the night before watching the Robot work its magic on Ellies quilt and didn't get much of a chance to prepare anything really new or exciting to take with me so, on my way out the door I put the Metro Twist pieces that I had been working on in the Jack Daniels tin, tucked in Voodoo Duck and took off.

I decided that I would totally wing the placement of these with wild abandonment (think shaken AND stirred) I tossed all the pieces into two big bags that I could reach into sewing together what ever units came to hand. I sewed and sewed...I even pressed the center seam of the finished blocks open! Surprised? Yah, I was too...try not to wet your pants, sometimes I do things properly but I do complain the whole time.

The result? 25 finished blocks of pure random delight and a fabulous day chatting with the peeps from the guild. I love these ladies. We covered a lot of topics yesterday...everything from the working in the justice system, the price of fabric, the importance of having a job that "works" for you, new babies, secret Santa gift exchanges, the hopefulness that Canada seems to be feeling with our new government and the importance of chocolate chip cookies that bend with out breaking. You know, the big stuff!

Tuesday 24 November 2015

Betcha Can't Make Just One...

Such was the case with the Noodlehead cross body bag I made a couple weeks ago out of some cargo shorts belonging to Not-So-LittlePurpleBoots...

That one "zombie-fied" bag led to an almost identical second bag which led to a trip to the thrift shop...more cargo pants and belts please!
  **if you're careful and creative you can get 2 bags from one pair of men's cargo pants but I suggest you start with a size 30 or larger if you plan for two.

That in turn led to a trip to Avonport Discount Fabrics in the Valley...because I needed denim needles and a few certain lining fabrics...some of which I've used already...

Somehow these super-cute Christmas fabrics managed to follow me home, not sure how that happened?! Or when I'll find time to use them...

And, no trip to Avonport is complete without a root through the Kona remnant bin...


All of these steps led to this...

5 more bags looking all cute and ready for giving and about that many more in the wings. Good thing "I like" repetitive sewing... *snort*

If you're looking for a fun idea for Christmas prezzies to gift that won't break your piggy bank, have a huge impact on landfill or take a tonne of time this just might be what you're looking for.

But be warned...they're addictive.

Monday 9 November 2015

The Kinda Quick Curve Ruler

The Quick Curve Ruler came into the house a couple years ago,  a souvenir from our Ottawa/Hamilton family road trip in March of 2013. I saw it at The Running Stitch quilting shop near Ottawa next to an oh-so beautiful sample quilt and just had to have it. You know how those "had-to-have-it" things often play out, right? Often, at least in my world, I figure out pretty quickly that I was wrong and the highly coveted "latest and greatest" sits and sits.

Such was the case with this Quick Curve Ruler. Everytime I opened the package my eyes crossed and I quickly put it back in the drawer and slammed it shut! Gah, so confusing! I simply couldn't focus on the instructions,  too much text for my ADHD afflicted brain to compute. Then my little Maritime Modern Quilt Guild offered up a workshop using this ruler last I pulled it out, dug out some fabrics, loaded my stuff and Voodoo Duck in the Jeep and off we went!

Our guilds PEI leader, Heather Jarmyn, is quite the master of the QCR and taught us what we needed to know to get our curves on. The night before the class I had precut my fabrics into the necessary rectangles required for the pattern "Metro Twist" and so once she showed the ruler in use, I was pretty well good to go. I am very much a visual/hands-on me, it works every time.

So I kicked off my boots and away I went.....

All the gals at the work shop were working away...each of us excited about the others fabrics and pattern choices. All of us pleased with our new found skills and curvy goodness. The temporary design wall gave us a spot to share our blocks...

The Metro Twist pattern calls for 160 curved patches that sew up into 20 blocks...that's  a LOT of repetitive sewing for someone who hates repetitive sewing...80 curves in one orientation and 80 more in the other ...b-o-r-i-n-g!!! That would have given me a quilt that measures about 40 by 55 inches. So did I stop there? Nope, of course not. I am a sucker for punishment. What the heck would that teeny weeny quilt be any good for? I didn't use baby appropriate fabric and you clearly cannot snuggle a springy thing in a quilt that would barely cover your lap, now can ya? So, I decided that I'd  make even more curves and add another row to the width of the quilt. Can I break that down for you? That's 5 more blocks which equates to another 40 curved patches...or 40 more reasons to pour some Jack down my throat.

So that's where I am. All those wretched curved patches are sewn & trimmed...and yes, the stacks are uneven in number of course because I cannot count with my eyes crossed and have the tendency to get carried away with my cutter.

One day, when my eyes uncross, I'll lay them out and stitch up a flimsy. Until then, I'll slam that had-to-have-Kinda-Quick-Curve Ruler back in the drawer.

Monday 2 November 2015

Mom! Can You Fix These?

This was the question Not-So-Little PurpleBoots had for me when he brought a pair of cargo shorts to me with a split zipper that refused to behave for him. I probably could have replaced the zipper, but it's unlikely that they would've fit him again next year at the current rate of speed he seems to be growing. So, "Nope! Sorry Bud, they're not worth fixing."

So they sat and sat, I hated to toss inner tree hugger winces a bit at the thought of tossing out perfectly good (and expensive) shorts. But without a working zipper what good are they really? Well, thanks to Google and according to this tutorial by Noodlehead I found out that I CAN make a purse out of them!

So that's exactly what happened today. Instead of heading to the boxing gym I headed to my sewing corner and knocked out this bit of cross-body-goodness in about 3 hours. Seems my avoidance skills are every bit as as powerful as my left hook! You'd think I would have cleaned up that giant mess of Kona Kandy off the cutting table, but geez, who's got time for cleaning when the zombies are coming! (This photo makes me think of #honestcraftroom on Instagram.)

I used the cargo pocket as the tutorial suggests for the flap, but pieced in the side pocket on the back panel as an extra little pocket. A gal needs all the pockets she can get, right?

When I was in Amherst the other week I picked up some Zombie fabric by Riley Blake. My pal Adrienne over at Chezzetcook Modern Quilts tempted me with hers and it just so happened that there was still some on the bolts at Mrs. Pugsley's Fabric Emporium. Not that Not-So-Little PurpleBoots will want this bag, but he really loves the Walking Dead series so it seemed logical that I used it for the lining. I placed the flap lining so that it could be read when the bag was open...the instructions on the fabric are invaluable to one's survival of a zombie apocalypse.

And would ya look at my bias binding? It pleases me to no end! Just in case you decide to give this bag a go I cut it at a 45° angle in 2.25" wide and pressed it in half. I then stitched it to the back with a quarter inch seam, pressed it, turned it, pressed it again and then topstitched it to the front, just like a quilt.

Clearly a pair of pants would have been better as there'd be a lot more fabric to work with...I had to piece bits together and improvise with the strap since there wasn't nearly enough fabric to make one...good thing these shorts came with a cloth belt! The Pfaff 4.2 QE  didn't flinch with all those layers, even sewed that heavy belt in place without so much as a hiccup; that machine is a workhorse! All that was left of the shorts was a small pile of scraps and a couple more pockets...and that my friends, seems like a more reasonable amount of trash.

How much fun is this? God, I love the internet! I might have to go for a root at the second hand store in search of more cargo pants. I have a hunch this might not be the last of these bags!

Sunday 25 October 2015

Uniting The Kona Nerds

One of the most exciting things about a project like this is watching it come together. The blocks are morphing into a whole...all the bits are becoming one. The idea is turning into reality.

All these blocks are random sizes, designs and colours. Believe it or not, making it work mathematically is easier than making it work visually.  Getting the layout right takes a lot of shuffling, and in this case it also needed a little input. My first layout looked like this:

At the time I was satisfied with the arrangement and I could easily see how it was going to fit together. When I layed the blocks out I was more concerned with the "fitting together" than the visual aesthetic of the layout. I asked my friend Lynne Tyler, over at The Patchery Menagerie, about a couple of things that had me scratching my head and she came back to me with more than I bargained for! Lots of really good pointers and constructive suggestions were in her email, I was so grateful.

It wasn't at all that she was telling me I had done something wrong, but she pointed out several areas that could be better. So, after chewing on her notes for a bit I took a big breath and started shuffling things around again. I tweaked my layout without compromising my entire initial design and landed here:

If you look at the photo you can see that I had already started to piece the blocks in the upper portion together when these changes were made. I moved a couple things but left the bulk of what had been sewn in place. You can also see that my measuring tape is laying on there...I was getting ready to build the top row and needed  a target height for it. The changes made in the position of some of the blocks really make this more visually appealing...and, the fish is no longer swimming off of the quilt. (Thank you Lynne! )

A couple gals have been wondering how I would go about building the flimsy and making it all fit is certainly a challenge. When I look at the blocks in a layout like this my minds eye breaks them down into what I can build into sections by adding in chunks, patchwork and pieces to get me to the target size. Sections become building blocks and then it's like just fit them in.

This should give you an idea of how I see the building blocks in my minds eye
even though this photo was taken before I rearranged the blocks.

Some people would draw it out on graph paper and figure it all out beforehand. I am not that person. I tend to fly by the seat of my pants...just keep on adding on, cutting planning, just measuring as I go and adjusting accordingly. Sometimes my calculations are better than others, but then again, I never was a great math student. This was the easiest way to find out how tall that top row of patchwork had to be to end up level with the top of the JUNGLE block after all the piecing below had been stitched into one big piece.

After a little trip to our LQS to get a nice stack of Kona Kandy to use for the "fitting in" I finished up the top section of the flimsy. While I am determined to use up a lot of scraps from my basket to make the fillers I do plan to use this particular range of colours for the bulk of the supporting patchwork and I didn't have enough to do the job. Besides...who doesn't love pulling a couple dozen bolts of Kona and making the cutting clerk a little cross eyed from time to time?

When I get the whole top together I'll be sure to fill you in on all the fabulous artists who sent along all the different blocks... aren't they great?? Only another half a flimsy to go! I can't wait!  Oh, and I'll also sit down with the Kona colour chart and figure out just how many colours of the 303 are represented in this puppy. Any guesses?

As an aside...while I was getting the photos ready to write this post Not-So-Little PurpleBoots carved up his giant pumpkin...all by himself. This is the finest one yet, I guess his hand has the strength to carve steadily now and his eye knows where it's heading.

Clearly a small bit of his mother's creative spirit exists within the giant frame of that boy... the doctor pegged him at 5'10" this week. It's official: the 14 year old is taller than me, a whole inch taller than me.


The couple chunks of Halloween fabric I picked up today at the LQS will have to soothe my "short" mothers soul. How do these kids grow up so damn fast??