Thursday, December 26, 2013

Home for Christmas, and what that means

So. I have this job. I have this job that's full time. I have two little kids, and a husband, this blog, and I sew fanatically.

We're home for Christmas, and this means I've been drawing more this week than I have in weeks, because there is only so much time in a day. But suddenly some of that time is free time.

On Friday morning, on the bus to work, I sketched out (I'm a brave girl to sketch on the bus, I know, but, did I mention the lack of time I have to draw?) something that I am desperate to make into something, but it's huge and involved, and there are several pieces, and in pieces it's getting done. (Now that I've decided to be serious about drawing, I've started using this set of pens from Prismacolor, and I really like them.)

On Friday night, after work, I began to make larger more detailed sketches:

First appearance.
On Sunday I bought a larger sketchbook so that I would have more room to work with. I still find myself unhappily bumping into the margins.

Yesterday, the kids played with their toys and we watched movies, and I drew, and my elder child caught sight of it today, and said, "Mama, did you draw that?" And I said yes, and she said, "I didn't know you could draw like that!" And it made me sad, and somewhat proud of myself to be able to impress her, and I replied, "I can draw this way if I concentrate on it."

Further developed.
Which in part is the same off-handed manner I always use to deflect these questions that make me uncomfortable. When she asked me why I was always writing in my notebook (ah, my now neglected novel!) I asked her why she wasn't writing a novel herself. (She claims she hates to write! But she loves to read, so I think she'll come around one day.)

The truth is, it burns in me. There is a vision there, and I can't rest except to work on it, and I'm not sure what else to say, sometimes it passes with the thing half done, sometimes I can just burn through it in my head and not commit it to cloth or paper, and sometimes I am up in the middle of the night because the perfect turn of phrase has occurred to me and if I go to sleep it will be lost forever, irretrievable. And that spark comes from everywhere. That's why I read, that's why I watch movies, that's everything. It's out there if you're open to it.

And I think I can no more talk about why I must be compulsively puzzling over some creative issue, than I can explain what it is like to be a twin to someone who isn't one. I have no frame of reference for not being what I am.

And even if I am not actively writing in my novel, I am dragging it around with me, because you never know... And that's why my tiny sketchbook is tucked into my work bag. You never know, there might be a moment.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

3 days before Christmas, and still much to do.

So, thing are happening in my life, which I am not sure if they are secrets or not, so I'm not sure what to say about it.

The upshot is that I am sure that in a few weeks I will have even less time to sew, which makes my 100 WIPs a problem that I have maybe 3 weeks to sort out.

To that end, I've dropped out of the Ann Arbor Modern Quilt Guild's Round Robin, which is sad, but as I won't be able to attend meetings regularly anymore, seems like the only thing to do.

And here it is so far!

Isn't it great! I'm really happy with it, though it's not very big yet. I'm not sure if I'll work on it, or hold it for awhile, we'll have to see.  As I've said, I've got a lot of WIP already.

And I'm dropping out of one other guild in a few months, and the other two I have dropped entirely this year, because I'm just too overbooked. Which is really sad, because guilds are amazing, and such a cornerstone of my life these last few years, but... But, other things are going on, and I hope in a year or two, things can settle, and I can turn up again. And that in itself is a great thing about guilds, you can wander back in after years away and it's like you never left.

One WIP that I'm trying desperately to get done is my new tree skirt:

It's a bit greener than the pictures of it, in real life.

I've gotten all the branches sewn on, and the circles are currently being prepped. I bought a back from Pink Castle Fabrics's sale section, which I am super excited for. It's from that super cute collection Birds of a Feather. They didn't quite have enough for the entire back, so I'll be piecing in some things, I think mostly it will be the leftovers from the top. Or left over from other backs. Because this one is going to be on the floor, I don't feel like I need a coherent story for the back.

I also made the traditional buche de Noel for my work's holiday party, which was excellent, because as someone who is lactose intolerant, I don't need to make a giant cake filled with whipped cream to eat almost entirely by myself. This way, I made it, decorated it, and had one piece, and the tradition was fulfilled without any leftovers...

In doing so, I used up the last of the snowflakes from the Snowflake mix, so we'll have to be on the look out for that before next Christmas.

Well, a child is telling me it's time to decorate more cookies, so I have to go!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

A nice surprise!

In what was an amazing surprise and honor, my half square triangle baby quilt was one of many featured as favorites on Jeni Baker's blog on Friday.  How awesome!

Which I only discovered today because I'm way behind on my blog reading. Sigh.

Of course, this is the time of year to get behind on everything! I'm making a (another?) gift for one child, and that is my current sole concern.  That and Moby Dick, but we'll have to talk about that later.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

10 Days before Christmas...

And I am not getting things done. I have a desire to redecorate!

I made this mini for my grandmother. And sent it a few days ago. The trees are improvisationally pieced. - Basically, cut some strips - 2-3 inches wide, doesn't matter, sew them together, in groups of three, then slice up the middle piece, sew it to some other strip, and keep slicing them apart and sewing them together until the pieces are all skinny and mixed up. The sky is similar, except it was cut vertically instead of horizontally.

I am making a second one for myself, though instead of piecing the trees into the background, I've decided to applique them instead. Mine will be a pillow cover. I am planning on getting four done for my four windowseat pillows... eventually. One a star, one a creche, and one with gingerbread men. Or maybe a nutcracker? Alright, I'm not entirely sure. Or maybe I need a fifth pillow?

And speaking of eventually, Thursday night, I took a class with Debbie of Esch House Quilts to make her modern snowflake tree skirt.

so far...
I feel like this tree skirt, and the pillow covers, and many other ideas I have had, may end up like that wreath I wanted to make last year - I put it in a box after Christmas last year, and put it away with the Christmas decorations, and said, maybe next year! Of course, I pulled it out this year, and put it right back again, thinking, maybe NEXT year!

So, I hope that does not happen here. I've got the tree skirt out where I will work on it - I would rather put it away finished than in pieces.

And since we're snowed in today, that will give me lots of time to sew, right?

Saturday, December 7, 2013

A few little Christmas gifts and very little quilt progress

It's been a while, so I feel the need to update the blog, but while I have been working on things, the truth is I have been working on too many things at once, and not getting any of them finished.

Two weeks ago, the number of WIPs stood at 8, and I have added two more this week.  And pulled fabric for a third.

And I am seeing lots of Christmas pillows appear on Instagram and started thinking  that I should stage a seasonal windowseat makeover. I have been hoarding Christmas fabrics for years and it would be nice to use them for something!

All Echino all the time!
I also want to make Debbie Grifka's snowflake tree skirt, but have been for weeks undecided on a color. Or I have decided on hot pink but think maybe I should choose again, because I don't live by myself.

He's a very tall soldier! I wonder if he was in a set?
Oh! Christmas! We are getting our tree tonight! I picked up some adorable wooden ornaments from the thrift store this morning. It is my favorite place to scavenge for old fashioned sorts of ornaments.

My only handmade gifts (so far) are these snowmen skirts of my daughters. This is one, but I made two - however they are identical. I took a class from Rae of Made by Rae at Pink Castle Fabrics on how to make this "made to measure" skirt, and these are just smaller versions of that. I used my serger on lots of seams, because I am lazy. 
My friend Stephanie took the picture. We're by the linen at Pink Castle!
 This is the one I made in the class. The thing I love about this pattern are those great big cut out pockets!

I didn't actually reduce the pocket size proportionally, so the pockets are huge!
I used Santa ditzy fabric for the girls' pockets.

Then I am going to make another one for me with some Lizzy House fabric:

It's the medals from Red Letter Day! It is amazing what you may find in some quilt shop somewhere! Always worth a look... The contrasting pockets will be the ducks, which I got a yard from Etsy a while back, and that will be the last of them... The end of an era! But as long as the era ends with a new adorable skirt, who is complaining?

not the best picture! It was windy, and my garage is not the prettiest.
One other thing (among the many) I have been working on is a neutral tumbler quilt. I cut most of these pieces out with my big shot and newest (then) die - the 4" tumbler - around Halloween, when we were watching horror movies, so there is a bit of disquiet embedded in this project - at least for me. This has been on my mind for awhile; I started buying these fabrics at Easter.  I read Yoshiko Jinzenji's amazing book "Quilting Line and Color" and that was the first time I really thought about the different shades of white. But because it's me, I wandered from whites and ivories and added a few grey tones and pastels, then some subtle blenders. I auditioned a whole slew of white on white fabrics, but the only one I liked were pale crosshatches from sketch and Architextures and this one beige pearl bracelet. So I went with that.

But now a few more crosshatches are available from Carolyn Friedlander's new line Botanics, which I have ordered, (though I expect the light blue will be the only one I use in this project) but as they have not yet arrived, this quilt on hold for now. Those rows are 11 or 12 tumblers long, I'm going for 24, because I think that will give me with 18 rows (16 pictured), a 6 foot square couch quilt?