Wednesday 25 February 2015

WIP Wednesday!

That's quilty speak for "work in progress" for the non quilting readers...

I don't seem to find time to read these days, but not that long go we shared a book at my book club called The Art of Racing in The Rain. Garth Stein wrote a great story that made me laugh and cry, and it was told from the viewpoint of the dog. During the course of the story the dog gets into a little trouble here and there and he blames his destructive behavior on the toy zebras... always noting, "The zebras are everywhere."

A friend of mine dropped off a fun gift yesterday, she is a fabulous artist and an absolute gem of a human being. I am proud to own a couple of Sarah Irwin's original paintings. We both loved this book, especially the bit about the zebras!

Easy to see that Sarah lit my brain on fire with her black and white, zebra eating, scruff of a dog. I set to work rather quickly- draw, cut, stick, stitch. It was one of those "Must. Get. Idea. Out." moments. It's hard to think about anything else with a fire burning in your imagination, it's also hard to force sleep at midnight when your mind is still smouldering knowing the alarm will scream before 6am. He's not done, lot's of thread painting to do and then he'll need to be quilted, but he's coming to life! If I knew anything at all about link party's or online quilting bee's,  I'd put the same links on here that I see weekly on my peeps blogs, but alas, I don't have a freaking clue how to make that happen. Maybe the zebras are to blame?

The zebras are everywhere...and they're watching. 

Thursday 19 February 2015

Measure. Rip. Match. Rip. Measure. Cry.

That pretty much sums up my big rookie mistake this week.

I know better.

At 70 inches square I had to seam the back for Kaleido so I decided I needed to match the elephants in that center seam. I was in the zone, on auto pilot, just cruising along... no worries. I measured out the first panel and split it at 80 inches. I found the repeat and Voodoo Duck & I pinned very carefully so that the little critters would be complete, ya just cant have chopped up elephants running amuck on the back of a quilt, now can you? When I got to the end of the first panel I snipped the selvage and ripped off the second panel. What I had left over should have been about 1 meter, but it looked longer. Hmm...maybe I should measure, the cutters at Avonport wouldn't have been that generous, would they?

Oh God. What had I done? My backing was too short by about 12 inches. I had set the first panel up beyond the top of the uncut yardage when I started pinning the match... I should have set it down a full repeat on the longer piece of uncut yardage. I know better. This wasn't my first time on the match-it-up-merri-go-round.

Lucky for me I was able to salvage the 5 meters of adorable elephants with a simple fix; a decidedly "modern" fix. I've recently read a few definitions of a "modern quilt" as there seems there to be some confusion in the quilty world as to what makes a quilt modern. The definitions explained that the identifying tag often lies in the use of vibrant solid colours, it's in the big bold patterns or lack there of, it's in the abundance of whitespace, it's in innovative and original design, it's possibly liberated or free pieced, and it probably has a pieced back.

A pieced back. That's the defining element, the common denominator among all the definitions I have read lately. So, this error of mine was a defining moment for Kaleido. If all the elements on the front of this quilt aren't quite enough to push it to the modern side of the playground then the quick fix I put into play on the back certainly does.

I've never been a huge fan of pieced backs, never really gave them much thought to be honest, but here one is in living colour saving the day. After a bit of head scratching I decided that an insert of patchwork using the triangle template from the pattern on the front and some left over Kona goodness could give me the 10 inches I had lost in the repeat. So I cut & sewed, and cut & sewed some more. Then I pinned & sewed, and pinned & sewed some more. Then I stood back and decided it would have to do, so I loaded it up on the frame before I changed my mind. Keep moving forward, don't look back.

Save the elephants.

Monday 16 February 2015

Move Along Pigs...

The elephants have come to town.

That's how it goes.

 Just like that.

A new crush: 6 meters of one, 5 meters of another. Of course this led to needing the matching thread and the matching Konas. There were even thoughts of jumping on the Elephant Parade Quilt Along over at Sew Fresh Quilts, because clearly an elephant will need building...but let's not get too carried away with all this precision piecing & pattern following.

There is enough precision to last a lifetime in the 36 blocks required for Tula Pinks pattern "Peaks and Valleys". If a person is going to piece high contrast points then dammit those points had better be perfect, right? By the time I get another 25 blocks together a free pieced elephant will be a walk in the park; a dream come true. And so will a bottle of Jack.

Why do I get myself into these things? Why can't I just buy blankets like a normal person?

Friday 13 February 2015

Bacon, um, I mean...Love Is All You Need.

I've been looking forward to a lazy Friday all week. Any day that can involve staying in pajamas and a massage has got to be a great day. Today started just like that with my friend making a house call for a little massage therapy. Shoveling has taken its toll, so a wee tune-up was in order. To make lugging her table over here worthwhile my sister joined my efforts for a lazy day and had herself a bit of a tune-up as well. Once we were all done and feeling pretty much like putty we took some time to sit, chat and just enjoy each others company...that's when the hunger pangs kicked in. It wasn't long before the three of us had cheffed up some brunchy sandwiches that involved lots of (you guessed it) bacon!

I love bacon. I love it almost as much as chocolate, but I don't often indulge. I am what one might call 'bacon deprived'. Having bacon on a regular basis is kind of like walking a slippery slope, a slope as slick as the surface of a pan that has cooked the delectable treat. I simply dare not go there...nothing good would come from developing a regular bacon eating practice. I am wise in the ways of food addiction; my spirit ruled by the need for chocolate, whiskey and the Brown Holy Water. I refuse to add bacon to the list, no matter how much it's chewy, salty goodness pleads with my taste buds.

Of course you know that no jammie day would be complete without a bit of sewing but I am in between machines right now due an unfortunate experience with my most recent addition. The fancy new Pfaff was returned this week and I'm waiting for a different model to arrive. Since The Enabler is away, I was lucky enough to have her permission to use 'Rosie', her new Brother Innov-is sewing machine. I have taken Rosie for a bit of a test drive over the last 3 days...she is a lovely machine. To celebrate my love of bacon it seemed appropriate to do something fun with that delicious piggy fabric we had quilted up last weekend. The butcher diagrams on the pig made me dream of bacon the whole time it was in the frame (surprise, surprise) so I felt something to use in the kitchen might be good. Voila! A Friday finish: new oven mitts! How cute are these? I just love them!

Valentines Day is upon us again. Thoughts of love all around...I love my family and my friends.  The flowers, cards, chocolate, and today, bacon...that's all part of it too of course...but to love and to be loved, that's all that really matters.

Wednesday 11 February 2015

Wanna Do Some Lines?

Um, yah man, of course I do!

I see straight line quilting everywhere these days and I love it. Problem is that I hate to pin or baste, like I really hate it, so accomplishing lines with my sewing machine posed a challenge.

When I bought my little quilting machine and put it on the frame it was simply a means to an end. It was a way to complete a top so I could begin another, which ultimately is quilty speak for 'so I can buy more fabric'. I have stippled the hell out of everything. I have done some free motion stuff with it but I get frustrated by the short reach of the machine and usually go back to my meandering ways.

Until this weekend.
My sister, who does not quilt but is intrigued by what she calls the "giant wiggler", asked if we could do some lines. Together we figured out a simple method of stopping the machine carriage from moving forward and back so that it would only move sideways, in a nice straight line. We found a couple big plastic wood clamps and wedged them behind the wheels on the carriage track.

Simple engineering, no whiskey required.
A test piece revealed, in all of it's porky deliciousness, that we had nailed it.

Yesterday I decided to dig out an older flimsy, loaded it up on the frame and got started with some more lines. I decided on 3/4" spacing for this go round. I made Live Out Loud as an improv exercise to use only the scraps and more importantly, all of the scraps, from a single previous project. I almost did it, there is only a handful of these fabrics left down there in the basket. I guess I wanted to prove that scraps are as valuable as precious yardage, and shouldn't ever be thought of something lesser...come together you lowly scraps and unite!

I love the lines; so simple, clean and quick. I hope to get this one off the frame sometime in the next day or so. When I gave up last night to head to my nest, with 2 crossed and super-sleepy eyeballs, there was only another 20 inches or so to go. Looking ahead, I think Kaleido is gonna be needing some lines.

Saturday 7 February 2015

Sew It's The Weekend...

If you build it, they will come.

Shuffle around some furniture, send husband's big chair to the mudroom, promise to put husbands big chair back in just two sleeps, clean like it's Christmas, make a big pot of soup, beg-borrow-steal all the tables & chairs you can find to transform your house into a makeshift workshop and call your quilty peeps. 

Yup, that's about all it took.

And the best part? 

We get to play again all day tomorrow! 

Tuesday 3 February 2015

I'd Rather Be Fishing

It's true. In fact, almost anything would have been better than chipping ice and shoveling snow outside in this 'freeze-your-butt-off' kind of weather...but it had to be done. Last nights storm ended up being a doozy; the upswing in temperature overnight made for a lot of ice pellets and freezing rain which makes the clean up particularly difficult, not to mention time consuming.

Since all of my clients canceled due to icy frustrations similar to my own I wound up with a bit of a snow day on my hands. Avoidance is key to play time so I have stayed away from the messy kitchen and have been steadfast in keeping my eyes up off the dog hair laden floors concentrating instead on staying warm near the fire and my quilting nook.

Yesterday I had thrown the wee fish quilt on the frame and so I decided to finish it up today... nothing fancy, just fun, like the simple card game it mentions or the act it might inspire on a day much warmer than this one, the little quilt brightened up an otherwise dull day.

It's Medicinal...

Today I got an early morning text message from The Enabler wondering about the state of my wounded finger. Certain that some retail therapy would benefit me more than my typical Monday routine (which involves an intense hour of boxing gloves, pounding and sweat) she was able to persuade me to instead accompany her to a fabric shoppe about an hour & a half away. A winter storm advisory was in effect here in Nova Scotia today so we scrambled to get out the door early, travel mugs of the Brown Holy Water in hand, hoping we might return in time to beat the weather predicted to land on us this afternoon.

My intention of just getting a few blenders with the 50 bucks I tucked in my wallet went out the window rather promptly as soon as The Enabler and I walked in the door. Those of you who know about Avonport Discount Fabrics in the Valley know that resistance is futile there. A cart found its way into my hand and well, to put it mildly, it was 'Game On!'. 

A dozen or so new Kona solids that just happened to match up with a couple projects I am toying with managed to follow me home. I think a couple of the Maritime Modern Quilt Guild gals have put a hex on me...I have never before given solids a second glance and today I managed to buy little else; though there was also a ruler, a book (only one of those pictured is mine), some spray starch and some delicious pig fabric in my haul today. Easy to see that the ole Visa had a little something to do with making my finger feel better today as my wee bit of cash didn't quite get me where I needed to go in the therapy department. 

Winter in the Annapolis Valley is an awfully pretty time of year. The view out the window of the Subway store in Windsor was simply delightful while two broke girls enjoyed their lunch with the last bit of change they could scrape up. 

Sunday 1 February 2015

Sunday Morning Coming Down

It's no secret that I LOVE Johnny Cash...listening to Cash, having some coffee and a lil chocolate makes a pretty perfect lazy morning in my eyes.

My Enabler Peep gave me this little gift...a new vessel for the Brown Holy Water.
Must have been made just for me, it's like the designer knew me.
Hard to believe it's Sunday already, time does have a way of sailing by when you're having fun! Yesterday was the monthly sew-in for my guild, the Maritime Modern Quilt Guild. Lots of us braved the winter slush covered roads to enjoy a day of laughing and stitching together...there wasn't even too much bitching going on yesterday, but then again there was plenty of chocolate around so I guess our souls were soothed.

I hadn't put any prior thought into getting ready for the day, so in the morning I just threw a bunch of stuff in my bag, grabbed my machine & some sweet provisions for the day and went on my merry way. After helping to baste The Enablers quilt top,  I sewed the last border on Kaleido and messed around with the charm squares from last months swap. All the squares were dots and stripes which made quite a selection of colourful modern madness of the cloth variety. What to do with them? 

Make funky fishes! Of course I jumped right in with my cutter and started slicing things up...6 weird little fish and a handful of wonky letters came together in a table sized mat over the course of the afternoon. It's so freeing to just see where you end up once you toss out your compass and move forward in a general direction; blaze the trail. Some of my peeps we're excited about the process, some were overwhelmed by the idea of not having a map to the finish line. I was trudging along, just enjoying the chocolate, until things took a slice in the wrong direction...

One hap-hazard cut too many I guess.

Back in November I had a similar catastrophe with my cutter taking the side of my finger and nail clean off. That was the first accident I had ever had in 20 years of quilt making, and it made my hair-doo-ing day job rather difficult for a long while. My poor finger had just started to feel normal & the nail had decided to grow back quite nicely. Seems I have unleashed a sharp, slick demon this winter. 

Clearly the universe is trying to tell me something...and in true Valerie style, I am simply not listening. I shall pour whiskey in my wound and carry on.