Monday, January 20, 2014

Austerity + Bad Weather = Quilty Finishes

After the new year, we re-implemented our austerity plan in an effort to replenish some funds lost after the furnace repair, windshield repair, tuition, Christmas, etc. Need I go on? We’re all probably in a bit of the same pickle to some degree. With little wiggle room in the budget, there was plenty of at home time to sew. First up is my cat quilt.

I finished quilting it last weekend. I just used a simple straight line quilting ½” apart using my walking foot as a guide and Bottom Line thread by Superior Thread in a light gray. I wanted the cats to take center stage so I used a thread that would fade into the background a bit.

The pattern was a QAL with Elizabeth Hartman. I used mostly scraps with the exception of the background and backing which I had on hand slated for a different project (oh well).
I think that’s what I liked most about this project. I really had to dig through my scraps to combine colors and patterns to sort of match Elizabeth’s original design. Believe it or not, this is something I don’t always feel comfortable doing. It really stretched me and I love the sort of “color wheel” that the cats represent.

This became a present for me from me. I love it!!! I sort of love real cats too but it is impractical for us to have one. This wall hanging will find a permanent home in my sewing space once I finish the second one I’m making. What?

Oh yes! I’m making a second cat quilt. Cat Repeat! Cats @ Night? : )
Temperatures finally warmed up in Wisconsin so much so that the next round of precipitation came in the form of freezing rain. That also contributed to the hunkering down and staying in last weekend. It was time to finish the last of the Swoon blocks.

This block pattern is from Camille Roskelly and was THE RAGE last year in the online quilting community. You should check out her blog – she’s really just the cutest thing and is so incredibly talented. Of course, I had to make one too which is why I’m calling this one my peer pressure quilt. Let’s just say I sort of dislike half square triangles or HSTs as they are called in the quilting circle. All that seam matching drives me insane.

In addition to being my peer pressure quilt, it is also my procrastination quilt. But the blocks are finally done and just waiting to be pieced together to make a top. I have them laid out on the floor in our daughter’s bedroom which may just give me the push I need to put them together . . . . she is planning on returning home again this summer. Lots of time! This quilt deserves its own blog post so look forward to that.

Finally I pieced these strips for a commissioned quilt for a co-worker’s daughter. Love these colors!!! I didn’t purchase the sashing because I wasn’t quite sure the route I wanted to go. Unfortunately austerity measures have also limited fabric purchase and that means this one will have to wait until February. That’s okay – I have more to keep me going but why is it the best sales are going on when you have the least amount of money?
Random Thoughts
1.  Why do towel manufacturers put that decorative band on bath towels only to have it shrink up much faster than the rest of the towel when they are washed? Do you experience this or do I just keep my towels for too long? Do your towels look like this?

2.  I have never liked soup as a meal because when we were sick as kids, our mom would make us eat soup. Something has been embedded in my brain that soup=sick. But Mr. Left Brain LOVES soup and he LOVES rice so together we are going to make some homemade Chicken and Rice Soup. We are using the Pioneer Woman's recipe.  I'll let you know how it turns out.
Life is good - it just is!! TTFN!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Getting Past the Melancholies

After a really nice time with our kids over Christmas break, our son went back to Minneapolis on Saturday. His ride had to bail on him so he took the dreaded bus back – 8 hours of bus travel. Ugh!  Our daughter left for North Carolina on Sunday. We dropped her off at her friend’s house about 2 hours from our home and they made the remaining trip by themselves. A normal 13 hour drive took them over 20 hours because of a bad winter storm in Indiana.  Double Ugh! But it was that 2 hour drive home for us that did me in. By the time we pulled into the garage, a burly case of the melancholies was brewing up inside my head.

And this wasn’t helping either: 

Yes, that is a minus sign in front of that 17.

After all the laundry, cooking and cleaning I did while they were home from college, I really thought I would be happy to return to the peaceful calm of our empty nest that Mr. Left Brain calls efficient. Doesn’t matter how many times you bid them farewell, the tears still sting and the nest just feels hollow and, well, empty when you get back home.

So I tried to drown out the feelings with copious amounts of leftover St. Nick candy:

I tried reading the book I started over break: 

Great book but it made me cry and miss them more.

I started cutting up some pretty colored fabric for a quilt for a co-worker’s daughter:
Nice but it just made me think of my own kids.

I thought about hunkering down and watching the NFL wild card playoffs but we all know how poorly that ended for Packer fans. Glad I opted out of that!

I finally decided to work on something that was just for me. If you’ve been following me on Facebook or Instagram, you’ve probably been seeing the cat blocks I did in December as part of Elizabeth Hartman’s Cat Quilt-Along. I had SO MUCH FUN with this and except for the background, I used completely scraps.  The blocks are small – only about 4”x5” – which makes the quilt more of a wall hanging. But it is BIG on FUN! Elizabeth named each cat and released the tutorial to make one each day in December to finish on Christmas Day. I had sewn all the cat blocks together during the holiday break:

Huge crush for this quilt!!!!!

To beat my blues, I started working on the backing. I wanted to machine embroider the names of the cats somehow but my machine doesn’t have a great set-up for doing that. I came up with this idea and I sorta love it!

All that embroidery didn’t go very quickly but it got my mind off of feeling melancholy.  I started some straight line quilting on it tonight so I’ll be sure to post the finished product soon.

Over break I also got the borders on and the back done for Carol’s Summer Garden quilt:

The lime green fabric really faded away in this photo but I really impressed myself with the embroidery on this one.  I’ll be quilting it at The Quilting Connection in New London in February. Yay!

So I’d be lying if I said I felt 100% better after some “me sewing time” but maybe 40% better is a good call. And it’s good enough for now. Life is still good! It just is!

Random Thoughts:
  1. Even though I don’t really like Christmas, it truly is the only good thing about winter. It didn’t help my mood that Mr. Left Brain wanted to take down the Christmas decorations after coming home from the drop off of our daughter.  Absolutely the worst day of the year is putting away the Christmas d├ęcor. I think our house echoes now.
  2. I’m partially to blame for that. My new year’s resolution was to rid my house of the junk and I’m throwing away (or giving away) at least five things each day. In 15 minutes, I can make a dent in one hoarding area that I’ve been ignoring for too long. So far, I’ve cleaned out one closet, 4 kitchen cupboards and 1 kitchen drawer and this plan is working out better than tackling the job all at once.

If you are an empty nest during the college school year (or if you are the one going away), I would love to hear how you feel when your kids come and go.