Tag Archives: lists

The Game’s Not Over!

Nope, we’re at the beginning of the fourth quarter, and there’s a lot of time to make a difference. What adjustments will you make to your strategy so you end the year with a win?

(Remember when we were in high school and learned about “stream of consciousness” writing? I don’t usually write that way — it can be hard to follow. But it’s been a long time since I wrote anything new here at all, so we’re gonna go with it…) 

After finishing four pieces at the beginning of August, and then heading out of the country for almost three weeks, I’ve been in a lull for both making and writing. It happens. And I don’t mind. The spell always breaks after a while, and I get revved up again.

One of my intentions this year was to make some quilts for the local VA hospital. My guild distributes some of our 200ish donation quilts a year there. They have a preferred size, approximately 48″ x 60″, and of course recipients are adults, so not all of our members’ contributions suit it. But I don’t much like making baby quilts or little kids’ quilts, as many people do. And with Son in the military, I’d rather make for the vets.

Last week I began by pulling all the dusky teals in my stash. To pair with them, I picked light fabrics with a golden or tan cast. Deciding on block size was … annoying. With 48″ x 60″, 6″ blocks work well (8 blocks by 10 blocks.) Note, though, that requires making 80 blocks. Also when making block quilts with an alternating block, I usually prefer odd numbers of blocks, such as a 7 block by 9 block layout. That allows the blocks to alternate in a balanced way.

Then there are the decisions about using a border or not, and if so, what fabric do I have enough of already in stash? Well, NOTHING. I have NOTHING in stash, to go with the teals, with enough yardage to make borders. Okay. No borders, just blocks.

Finally I decided on shoofly blocks to finish at 7.5″. With a 6 x 8 layout, the size would finish at 45″ x 60″, which works fine. That’s still even numbers, which affects the alternate blocks chosen. What works? Ones that have a diagonal line, such as half-square triangles. In fact, I considered other options but HST are simple and effective. I found a piece of toile just large enough (with some piecing) to make halves, and I pulled my old-fashioned rusty oranges for the other halves. (Some of those are pieced, too. I’ve gotten better at making the fabric work for me, as long as the area is enough. I CAN piece it together. I know how.) 

The picture below is blocks, before being assembled into a top. My overall standard for quilts is pretty simple: would I be pleased if someone gave it to me? The answer on this would be yes. The toile in the HST is paler than all the other lights used. One of the teals is pale, but doesn’t stand out as living in the wrong quilt. One of my teals has as much bronze as teal, and the bronze is what shows most in them. That’s okay with me, too, as it doesn’t stand out, either. And the HST with their strong contrast give great movement. (That’s why there isn’t a balance problem when using them as the alternate, when using even numbers in the rows and columns. The movement and strong line create their own balance.)

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What I don’t have is backing fabric or batting. On my list for a stop later today.  (Wrote that yesterday. I stopped at JoAnn Fabrics last evening before meeting a friend for dinner. Got the batting. Picked up three yards of fabric for the back. Had 50% off coupons for both. If this were really stream-of-consciousness, I’d go on about that, and about my favorite quilt shop closing soon.)

hmm… what was I saying about the fourth quarter? What else do you want to get done before year’s end? And how do you fit it all in? I’ve seen a couple of blog posts recently on that. One is from my friend Tierney at tierneycreates.com. She wrote about the seven habits of highly effective crafters, a crafty look at Steven Covey’s rules. It covers a lot more than getting projects done, but on that issue, the most relevant is putting first things first. In other words, decide on your priorities. What is most important is not always what seems most urgent. If there are things you want to finish by holidays, for instance, identify them now.

Lori at The Inbox Jaunt takes that a step farther. She recommends using a notebook to inventory projects. Once you know what you have, identify priorities and then list specific, small steps that need to be taken next, to move them along. (Do you quilt your own? Check Lori’s blog for seemingly unending resources for quilting designs and strategies.) 

At this point, I need to think about what I want to accomplish before year end. That will give me a way to identify priorities.

What’s left on your making list for the year? Will you get it all done? 

 

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Progress on All Those Projects

All of ’em! Yes, four projects actively in process, at least two more than I usually have, and I’m making progress on all fronts. Here’s where we started the other day:

    1. Untied. I’ve been hand-quilting this with a hoop for the center, and no hoop for the rest, which I can reach more easily. It’s been on hold for a couple of weeks, but the center is almost done and soon I’ll move to the outer borders. They should go a little more quickly. Update: the center is done and I’m working on outer borders. 20160328_092719
    2. Moonlight Waltz. The top is beautiful. I loaded it onto the frame with a back and wool batting. My longarm machine has had unreliable tension, but after testing extensively, I plunged ahead. It was awful. Rather than baby the project along, a few inches at a time, I stopped. I took my machine to the factory. Last week I picked it up. They installed a new tension assembly and a new shaft for the bobbin assembly. The price of repairs was very modest. Jim re-installed the machine. I removed the whole project from the frame and picked out the quilting I’d done. I’ll need to add a big test strip to the back before loading it on the frame again. Update: It’s back on the frame. I switched to a polyester batting, and I’ve completed one pass of quilting. So far so good… 20160701_092747
    3. Diamonds. I don’t have a good name for this yet, but it’s my most recent start. The top is done and the back is ready. I need to cut batting and make a binding. I will quilt this one before getting back to Moonlight Waltz. Update: it’s DONE! Quilted and bound, though I’ll admit, not labeled. (Ugh, the colors are so strong, I cannot get them to show right in photos! This looks really dull compared to the real thing.) OH! And the name — “More Precious Than Diamonds.”2016_0630Diamond (1)
    4. Testing. This actually is my highest current priority, and it is what I’m working on today. I put plain muslin on as backing and top fabric and used a scrap of polyester batting between. To evaluate the tension, I am using a different color of thread in the bobbin than on the top. I think it’s adjusted pretty well now, but the batting scrap is a different loft than I usually use. After a few more squiggles, I’ll switch to my usual brand and test some more. Update: testing went fine. I’ll continue to create test strips before starting quilts. But I’m hopeful now that my tension problems are much improved. 
    5. Local guild challenge. This year’s guild challenge is to create a quilt inspired by Iowa. “What does Iowa mean to you? Corn and prairie grass? The Old Capitol Building? Family and friends? In 2016, Iowa will be 170 years old and we thought we should show everyone what Iowa means to us through our quilts. There is no size or technique limit to this quilt.” This is a hard project for me because I can’t easily distill my thoughts and emotions into a design concept. However, while instant-chatting with my son one evening, he described the Iowa in his mind as he flew over early this year. I’m still working on how to incorporate his words. The challenge meeting is in July, so time is running out! Update: my concept is developing. I’ve chosen words, roughed out a wind turbine, stitched highway I-80 across the state, and determined how to paint fields. It’s moving along. 20160621_115949

While I’m not sure of timeline on all this, I’m making good progress and feeling like it WILL all get done! 🙂

Too Many In Process

Right now I have too many projects in process. It is a tiny bit stressful for me, as I usually only work on one or two at a time. In addition to there being a lot (for me,) they are all very different from each other. Redirecting and refocusing takes some effort.

    1. Untied. I’ve been hand-quilting this with a hoop for the center, and no hoop for the rest, which I can reach more easily. It’s been on hold for a couple of weeks, but the center is almost done and soon I’ll move to the outer borders. They should go a little more quickly. 20160328_092719
    2. Moonlight Waltz. The top is beautiful. I loaded it onto the frame with a back and wool batting. My longarm machine has had unreliable tension, but after testing extensively, I plunged ahead. It was awful. Rather than baby the project along, a few inches at a time, I stopped. I took my machine to the factory. Last week I picked it up. They installed a new tension assembly and a new shaft for the bobbin assembly. The price of repairs was very modest. Jim re-installed the machine. I removed the whole project from the frame and picked out the quilting I’d done. I’ll need to add a big test strip to the back before loading it on the frame again.20160615_182518_resized
    3. Diamonds. I don’t have a good name for this yet, but it’s my most recent start. The top is done and the back is ready. I need to cut batting and make a binding. I will quilt this one before getting back to Moonlight Waltz.Harlequin Diamonds
    4. Testing. This actually is my highest current priority, and it is what I’m working on today. I put plain muslin on as backing and top fabric and used a scrap of polyester batting between. To evaluate the tension, I am using a different color of thread in the bobbin than on the top. I think it’s adjusted pretty well now, but the batting scrap is a different loft than I usually use. After a few more squiggles, I’ll switch to my usual brand and test some more. 20160621_120133
    5. Local guild challenge. This year’s guild challenge is to create a quilt inspired by Iowa. “What does Iowa mean to you? Corn and prairie grass? The Old Capitol Building? Family and friends? In 2016, Iowa will be 170 years old and we thought we should show everyone what Iowa means to us through our quilts. There is no size or technique limit to this quilt.” This is a hard project for me because I can’t easily distill my thoughts and emotions into a design concept. However, while instant-chatting with my son one evening, he described the Iowa in his mind as he flew over early this year. I’m still working on how to incorporate his words. The challenge meeting is in July, so time is running out! 20160621_115949

The only thing I have managed to finish is my round robin border for the month. My small group is doing a round robin again, and we’re on the third border. I made a border and was ready to attach it, but I wasn’t sure I liked it. Jim and I agreed that it was too spiky, so I modified it and turned the spikes inward, which helped soften the effect. I think it sets up the top well for a last border. 20160621_120408

I hope to be done with all these projects by mid-July. This very minute that seems both very doable and a little insane. No telling which one will win out! A lot will depend on how well my longarm machine works. Wish me luck!

Focus | Progress

My list of priorities has changed, as has my progress through them.

1) Make a Christmas stocking for Son, since he will be alone for Christmas.
2) Make 7 bed pillowcases for the grandkids.
3) Get the Ricky Tims kaleidoscope I started a few days ago at least to finished top.
4) Get this blog cleaned up and updated.
5) Make bed-sized disappearing 9-patch as graduation present.

The Christmas stocking is DONE and ready for Santa to fill and the mail carrier to deliver! In a day or two I’ll show you how I make them.

The pillowcases are X-ed off the list due to issues with family communications and my grumpy mood about the result. I did buy a whole lot of novelty fabric for them, so I’ll have to figure out how to use it.

The kaleidoscope is coming along. I have one quadrant assembled, and I’ve chosen a first border. The kaleidoscope process makes a 36″ 12-pointed star. I haven’t decided whether to use that as the center of a bed-sized quilt or to simply frame it and finish it at about 50″. I still consider the project an experiment, and I may well make a second one just to try a few things differently.

Blog? No progress on blog clean-up… It always drops to lowest priority.

And what about the disappearing 9-patch? It’s on the list for December as we might see the graduation girl in January. I’d rather give a gift in person, if possible, so I decided to fast-track that project. My creative brain took over in the aftermath of the pillowcase upset.  One piece I bought was two yards of black print with brights. I decided to mix that with a couple of stash remnants from long ago, things I loved but hadn’t found a way to use. The two yards gives me enough to cut squares, make binding, and … TA-DA! make a matching pillowcase. At any rate, I’ve cut all the squares for it. When I’m ready, time-wise, to start stitching, it will go very fast.

Always plenty to do! What are YOU working on? 

 

Focus

With the end of the year rushing at us, including the joys and stresses of holidays, I need to prioritize my tasks. One technique for focusing attention and energy is to identify a small number of things and work just on those.

Of course there are SO MANY THINGS TO DO!! But in the quilty or sewing realm, I can manage the number. Here is my list as of right now:
1) Make a Christmas stocking for Son, since he will be alone for Christmas.
2) Make 7 bed pillowcases for the grandkids.
3) Get the Ricky Tims kaleidoscope I started a few days ago at least to finished top.
4) Get this blog cleaned up and updated.

I have a plan for the stocking. I’m shopping today for pillowcase fabric. The kaleidoscope top is coming along. I have most of the cutting done, but I haven’t started assembly.

Are you familiar with the process Tims uses for these? (See the link above for google images of some.) The kaleidoscope is a 12-pointed star. He uses a freezer paper template of the wedge size for each point, and farther breaks it down into segments. Each segment then is used to cut shapes from matching strip sets. It allows an enormous level of intricacy for a fairly simple process.

Of course I am still in cutting, not assembly. So we’ll see how “fairly simple” it turns out to be!

Here is a shot of my first two (of six) segments. Below it you can see five but without color adjustments done to the photo yet.

20151130_161817
kaleidoscope3

If nothing else, it’s an interesting experiment.