Tag Archives: lists

Mess

Sometimes it’s hard to know where to start. I have lists of things done and lists of things doing and lists of things to do! I have a mess in my studio, the product of having several projects going at the same time. What should I do first? What should I write about first? Perhaps the first quilt I finished this year! Perhaps the one I’m working on right now! Perhaps the one I’ll take up on Monday!

So confusing… But in the interests of some forward movement, I’ll show you some pix of my studio late yesterday.

Now I know, this is not most people’s idea of a mess, but it is for me. That’s one of the reasons I tend to be very linear in my making, with only one or two active projects at a time. I can finish something, CLEAN, and move on to the next thing. With lots of active projects I can’t put things away.

Here is my list, not in priority order:

And here is my “current” project.

I started the center block on Tuesday in a workshop with Toby Lischko. It is a classic New York Beauty, a challenging block to make. But her instruction, tools, and technique made it very easy. I modified the size of the outer background (Moda Grunge in orange) to make it 17″ finish instead of 16″. (Math stuff — I won’t go into the details now but it should set up all the rest of the sizing well.) And I added corners in purple (more math stuff for how I decided the size. Details later.) And I designed the Lone Star-style star point. I need to take it apart and rebuild it so my seam allowances are better, but later I’ll be glad I took the time to do that.

HOWEVER now it’s time to switch gears, so this project, called “Wind River,” will just wait for a few weeks. Instead I have a secret project to do as a wedding present for Son and his bride. Since they get married four weeks from today (HOORAY!!!) I have to get in high gear on that. (And oh yeah, I better make my purse, too!) This is my linearity kicking in. Later I can be messy again. ūüôā

 

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Mid-Year Review

It’s a little early for a mid-year review, but I thought it would make an easy way for me to reconnect here. After a ten-day road trip for family celebrations, I’ve lost my habit of reading and posting. (If I’ve missed big milestones in your life or making, feel free to post links in comments so I can catch up with you!)

In fact, it’s not just the last few weeks, but all year I’ve been slack in posting and less present for reading. (Honestly, that’s okay. We all get to be here just as much as works for us, including me.) One of the things that means is that I haven’t shared a lot of the projects I’ve worked on. That makes it harder for me to keep track, too! So I made a list.

Finished:
1. Fierce Little Bear
2. VA hospital quilt
3. VA hospital quilt
4. Charlotte‚Äôs Kitty — the only one I’ve shown you completed
5. This Old House
6. Georgia’s graduation quilt
7. Workshop landscape quilt

All but finished:
8. Fiesta! — I’ll get the binding done today

And then there are a number of works in progress, with varying levels of completion:
1. Resist
2. The Green Man
3. Rooster
4. Claddagh Ring
5. Tatters
6. Snowflake concepts

All of my works in progress are part of my “course work” to learn some methods to tell stories with my quilts. Though stories can be told in many ways, all of these projects focus on using words and pictures for that.

There’s been other stuff, too. For instance, early in the year I submitted a couple of designs to magazines to publish as patterns. (They weren’t accepted.) I might do that again; I might not. So I’ve had enough to do. Ultimately, though, I’d like to share a few of the quilts I’ve finished and talk a bit more about process for them. And I want to comment on some of the applique options I’m trying in my art/story quilt work. Now that I’ve broken ice again here (or is it more like clearing the throat?) I can work through some of that.

This is enough for now. I hope you all have a terrific, productive week. Again, please feel free to link some of your cool stuff for me in comments. I’d love to see what you’re working on, too!

Expectations and Other Stuff

Here’s the thing: I almost always expect I can do more than I can actually do. And then when I can’t get it all done, at least not in the time I think I should, I get very frustrated. And whiny, and tired and irritable. It’s not fun for me and it’s likely not much fun for Jim, and it doesn’t make anything better or get it done more quickly or easily. After I had a long grumble and whine yesterday, I decided (and already knew this) that the best solution to my problem is simply to change my expectations.

One way to help that is to take a hiatus on the 100 Day Project. While I still think about my project pretty much every day, and I spend time investigating ideas, looking at books and videos, and mulling options. But my EXPECTATION that I actively, physically work on it daily, and post about it regularly, has become a burden for now. Time to drop that expectation.

You can see where I was on day 31, some time last week. The rooster is in parts that are not fused down. Likely the background will change a bit, and his tail might change slightly, too. I have ideas for how to border and finish it. He won’t go anywhere, so for now he just needs to wait.

Expectations:
* get graduation quilt top finished, quilted, and bound before 5/24
* get Fiesta! quilted and bound for friend’s secret present before mid-June
* finish rooster, time indeterminate
* resume 100 Day Project, picking up with day 32, time indeterminate
* publish blog posts about the other four quilts I’ve already finished this year but haven’t shown you, time indeterminate
* resume work on book project, time indeterminate

While this doesn’t change what is on my list, it does moderate my expectations for when it will get done. Hopefully that will increase my enjoyment and lower my stress, letting me enjoy the chattering wren and mewing catbird outside my kitchen, as well as the other pleasures around me all the time.

 

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.)

20161004_151534

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?¬†

 

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! ūüôā