Saturday, September 20, 2014

Improv Fun!

Just finished a piece that's been inside my head for a while.  This one I never even sketched, but have seen in in my mind's eye for a while and decided to go for it!   I'm super pleased with how it turned out.   What I like about this piece is that although it is simple, it's also versatile.  I think it would be really fun to make in lots of different ways with different colors and even some prints.  I also like the graphic nature of it - it has sort of a cartoon quality with the skinny black strips that I really like.    

Original design by the zen quilter

Also I love the blue fabrics (from Cherrywood, of course) - they are so rich in color! 

 Now for the hard part - I have no idea how I'm going to quilt it!   It's kind of stark, I think, so I don't want to add to much of anything.  Oh well, kind of a fun dilemma to have!  I'm calling it "Blue Modern" for now.  It took about three days to make the top, which is also fun.  The only difficult part was figuring out how to cut the angles, but I overcame that, too, math genius that I am not!  Will share how I did it later, no time today, just excited and wanted to share...I might try to enter this one in Quiltcon, I like it so much. 

TTFN  and enjoy your weekend!   

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

From EPIC FAIL to Can This Be Saved?

Two or three months ago I bought some really gorgeous, earthy toned fabrics that I loved at first sight. I didn't need them, but couldn't resist and bought them anyway.  I loved them so much I pinned them up on the wall so I could stare at them.  They hung for weeks, and I loved looking at them, but I was working on other things and couldn't get to them. 

One day as I was perusing one of my favorite blogs, The Quilting Edge, I saw a place for tutorials.  Wondering why I hadn't looked there before I, I saw one in particular that caught my eye.  One she calls, Wonky Circles. That was it - the "design" for the earth fabrics.  The instructions were clear and there were excellent pictures.  I knew the basic idea and was certain I could do it. I was so excited I dropped everything else and began pulling fabrics to coordinate.  

At the end of the first day I noticed the thing was a mess! I wasn't sure whether the fabric combinations were working out, I had not planned any placement of the squares at all and didn't really know where I was going, I couldn't seem to get the right rhythm for sewing the concentric circles. I was feeding the fabric in wrong ( I guess!) and my squares were anything but square!  They poofed out in the middle, they had lots of other pooches - frankly, they were crap! That day I was undaunted - if the squares were wonky that was fine, I was going to press them with steam and starch, and trim them down quite a bit anyway. Besides, I would get better by the second day, I was certain.   So I just forged ahead and did a lot of seam ripping, and re-sewing, but with joy, with excitement. It would come together, I was certain.  I had faith.  

However, by the end of the second day I told my husband I was considering throwing all that beautiful fabric in the trash - it stunk.  Late in the evening, I began to trim the squares (perhaps I should have waited until the next day?) and they still sucked.  I had to trim the things three times to be able to have a uniform size.  Then, even though I they looked more like water pouches than quilt squares and despite utter exhaustion, I insisted on pressing, pulling and starching the buggers; after that I still could not stop and I kept trying to arrange the voluminous squares to a pleasing state. And no, I was not zen - there was a lot of banging, pulling and cursing, although I did bring myself back to presence again and again....and again and again. And again.

Finally I forced myself to go to bed at 12:30.  As I did, I noticed all the squares being blown off the design wall by my ceiling fan.  I did not care, because I had decided to trash the entire thing.  I was just accepting what was.  And what was was that it was not.  Working out, that is.

Otherwise occupied so I couldn't work the next day, and having decided to chuck it all anyway, I was serene.  Oh well, it has to happen sometime - not everything works out, I figured. I was sad about the waste of those delicious fabrics but "OH WELL,"  I was letting go.   Still, I could not resist checking one last time on The Quilting Edge just to see if there was something I had missed.  As I sighed and stared at the perfection of Marianne's work, I noticed she had put sashing on her piece.  I am normally not a fan of sashing, but the thought crept into my brain that sashing might be a way to save the quilt.  Just MIGHT be, no guarantee.  

So I decided to try it - give it one more chance - what the heck - I really adored the colors and fabrics.  I had even (surprisingly) cleverly taken a photo of the arrangement I sort of liked with my iphone.  With the promise to myself of remaining calm and present no matter what, I  began to add sashing, cutting the sashing exactly to the correct lengths and making it fit.  And to my surprise - it began to come together!  By the end of the day, I had most of it done and OMG!  It looked good.  And even, dare I say - SQUARE!

So the thing worked after all.  I won't say it is perfect, because it ain't.  But it is - well, I'll let you judge for yourself:

I deliberately put in a large photo so as not to hide the imperfections - they exist, but I think they actually go well with the overall feel of the thing!

For me, the answer is YES!  It could be saved.  And I am so very


Thursday, September 4, 2014

If It Ain't Broke, Take Care of It...So it Don't

Kind of scattered today; have a bad tooth that needs fixing and I think it is making me a little tired. (I have a dentist appointment on Monday, but I think I waited a little too long to address it - may end up losing the tooth - glad it is a back one!)  This morning I was thinking about how expensive it is to go to the dentist - I mean,  I've already spent a thousand dollars on this tooth, and now I have to spend more. I was quite annoyed about it, really, when I made a realization.  I have no trouble spending money on art supplies, face creams, clothes, entertainment - things I enjoy, but I don't like to spend money on my health.  Why is that?

I realized there are two reasons -one of them is because of the obscene cost of any kind of  health care, no matter how simple, even with insurance (which I  don't consider even remotely useful - it's a just-in-case thing - we have yet to meet our deductible, ever).  The other reason is because I take my good health for granted.  I expect to be healthy. I mean, the main reason we never meet our deductible is because we don't need to go to the doctor very often.  So maybe I shouldn't complain when I do. In fact, I think I should be downright grateful about it.  And - I shouldn't take good health for granted.  I mean, I do try to eat pretty healthfully most of the time and traditionally I have exercised regularly (I do sometimes go through sporadic bouts of laziness, but I always come back to exercising because frankly, I feel better and am happier when I do) but I'm going to add my good health to my gratitude list more often.

Speaking of good health, since I "retired," I realize that it is more important than ever to exercise every day, especially since I now spend so much time at my sewing machine.  Being a teacher, I walked and was on my feet at least eight hours every day, and now I spend a lot more time sitting, and as I've mentioned before, sewing can be hazardous to one's health.  I have packed on a few very unwelcome pounds in the last eight months, so in my dorkiness, I have come up with ways to counteract the perils of sitting.  (Huh! Those office people with their walking machines and standing desks have nothing on me.)   Here are a few of the sitting-related issues I've noticed and the stuff I am doing to counteract them.

First I noticed  that I am losing muscle in my stomach from hunching forward which also, by the way, leads to a sore back and rounded shoulders, which I do not like at all.  Besides doing some heinous pilates, I am trying to address this issue while I work as well.  I make a conscious effort to sit up straight and hold my stomach in when I am sewing. I constantly roll my shoulders back, too.  I even switch feet on the presser pedal because I figure that it works the lower abs just a little if I am holding them tightly and pressing on the pedal at the same time.   Sometimes I crack myself up just a little, thinking I'm so EFFICIENT and PRESENT and all, doing these silly little things, but hey, it can't hurt, can it?

Second, I stand up whenever I can. There are a lot of opportunities to stand when quilting - one can spend hours cutting, for example.  Or pulling fabrics for the next project, arranging pieces on the design wall, that's great, but I try to find other ways to get off my duff, even for a few moments - if I need to pull stitches out, I stand up.  If I cut something, I stand.  If I need to look at a sketch, I stand.  If the phone rings, or I need to check something on the internet, I stand.  I don't know if it makes any difference, really, but I still do it

Third, I make sure that I get up every hour and do something active for at least 15 minutes, too.   Everything counts, from doing laundry to watering the yard to getting dinner started.  This has the added benefit of my actually getting some household chores done, too - I can still spend lots of time sewing and can eliminate any guilt I might possibly feel for ignoring what I admit I consider to be my responsibilities...killing two birds, you know.

I keep water by my side all day, too.  Because water is important for so many reasons.  I stretch and sometimes I even take a break and do some stupid little isometric exercises, just whenever I think about it.
These are the things I am trying to do to countermand my suddenly much more sedentary life, which I really am enjoying enormously (except for the poochy stomach, which I really believe I CAN conquer; I don't care if I am middle-aged - stomach fat is not a given, just a tendency).

In short, understanding how important it is to be active, I'm trying to fit activity in while still doing the things I really love and want to do.  As nerdy as it may sound, I think it is making a difference.   If anyone else has any ideas or tricks they do, please share - if it's not too insane, I'll probably be willing to try it.   And I'll let you know when the pooch is gone.

WIP Report

I  finished my ode to Andy Goldsworthy triptych.  I really love them, too.  Right now they are hanging over my bed.  I've been trying to come up with something for years!  They are perfect for the spot, and Paul (hubby) loves them, too.

I also finished a summer project for my brother and his family - also three pieces, but very large (seven feet by twenty-four inches each) and designed specifically for their house.  I am super pleased with them and luckily so is Katherine (sis-in-law). I will take a photo as soon as she gets them installed.

I started a project yesterday that I am so into, I only have eight more pieces to make (out of twenty) that's how motivated I am.  It's not my original design idea,  I got it from The Quilting Edge, my favorite blog.  It kind of reminds me of Chagall's circle painting but I have these gorgeous earthy fabrics and I thought the design would work well. Not an easy sew, however; much cursing and bringing myself back to presence throughout the day occured. It's going to be worth it though, I think...Next time, however, I am going to use a different technique - this one was not fun enough to repeat.  Still,  I can see many different iterations on the theme - I just want to find a less annoying (to me, anyway) way to do it!