Tag Archives: Progress

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’s 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.

 

Day 21 Rooster

Here I am three weeks into the Green Man project. When I told 7-year-old grandson Isaac that I was giving myself 100 days to work on it, he thought that was a long time. It’s funny about perception of time, though, isn’t it? The first three weeks have rushed by and I feel like I’ve hardly started.

I’m still waiting for delivery of supplies. (I would not do well in “the good old days” of waiting many months for delivery of a sewing needle, as in this post from a year ago.) In the meantime I persist with other efforts. Last week I started on a rooster project, conceived long before the Green Man was proposed.

My rooster began its life as a hen. I guess that makes it a trans-rooster. A magazine advertisement with a rough drawing of a hen was the starting point. I traced the basic shape, which was about 7″ tall. Using the old-fashioned grid system, I increased the hen’s size, at the same time elongating its neck.

Here is a photo of the rooster sketch. You can see I inserted leg extensions near the bottom of the picture. The fluffy feathery part of the rooster legs is what I call “pantaloons.” Surely there is a correct word for that. 🙂 I taped the drawing to a big window to create a light box effect. 

I do still have some fusible web but of a slightly heavier weight than preferred. After pulling out lots of “maybe” fabrics to cover the rooster, I started out appliquéing on muslin. This is what comes from inexperience.

It’s a reasonably good start, but I had no intention of finishing it on muslin. ??? Okay, moving on from there…

These pieces of fabric are not fused down yet. They’re just placed on top of the tracing paper sketch, which is stitched down to the background I’ll actually use. Again, procedurally, I have things to learn. But it’s coming.

My intention with the 100 Day Project was to spend at least 20 minutes every day on it. In truth, I manage far more than 20 minutes most days, and there have been a handful on which I probably haven’t spent that long. At this point I’m still exploring ideas and technique and materials. I watch videos and look up product specifications. I sort through my stash (again) and prep fabrics. I flip through books on appliqué and story quilts. I google photos for inspiration.

It feels very much like a lot of prep work and not much progress. A lot of thinking and not much doing. However, there is a lot I’m learning, though it isn’t very visible yet. What’s the hardest part? Maybe patience. That, also, is a good thing to practice.

Catching Up (Again)

Do you feel like you’re in catch-up mode a lot? I sure do. And it’s CRAZY, because my life includes few deadlines, and almost all the obligations I have are self-imposed.

Right now I’m catching up from being gone several days. Jim and I were invited to a satellite launch at Kennedy Space Center (Cape Canaveral) in Florida. It was Thursday, March 1. Without reservation I can say it was thrilling to be there, to witness in person. And I’ll also say, it was like watching a football game — you can see it a lot better on teevee than you can in person! 🙂 We’ll have more to say in a few days on our joint blog, Our View From Iowa. For right now I’ll tease you with this picture.

While we were still in the area, we took a drive through a wildlife preserve. I’m a lot more used to wildlife in the northern states than in Florida. We saw several of these ancient beasts.

Before we left on that jaunt, I finished the three “retreat” tops and their backs, and I made two of the bindings. They are now ready to quilt. The cool (and frightening) thing is, I upgraded my longarm. Yes, after intermittent fits over the last few years (my fits? or the machine’s?) I decided the old one had to go. I didn’t expect delivery of the new one until this week, but lo and behold, it was ready sooner. And honest-to-gosh, I’ve barely looked at it since then. Oh yes, I am eager to get started, but other things have been higher priority.

And my EQ7 software took to crashing after my computer’s operating system was updated. After some miscommunication between the EQ company and me, I did figure out a work-around. However, I’ve decided to upgrade my design software, too. And until I do, another project is on hold. Aye-yi-yi, as my friend Kristin would say.

Earlier this week I visited another guild to share information about the Mill Girls, textile workers in New England in the early 1800s. It was fun and gratifying — they were a terrific group. But my schedule has been kind of crazy.

AND THE MOST FUN OF ALL!!! I now have another cold, more difficult than the last two. (Yeah, all three colds in about two months. Maybe then I’ll be done with it for a while.)

So yeah, I’m catching up. This week I finally got back to sewing. My house quilt has been patiently waiting for weeks. There were (way more than) a couple of choices for what to do next. I could either maintain the proportions as square, or I could elongate it. Most of my quilts are square. I LIKE square quilts. But sometimes ya gotta do something different, and certainly this project is easier than many to make that transition.

I made 10 variable star blocks and cut non-square spacer blocks to put between them. Using spacers is a great solution for dealing with size problems, and also when a border of all pieced blocks is too busy. Variable stars have 17 patches each. That’s a lot of patches in a small block finishing at 5″, and spacers will show them off better.

This photo just gives a feel for how that will look.

After attaching the strips of stars top and bottom, I’ll frame the whole with another narrow border. At that point it will probably be time for some of the dozens of flying geese I already made for this quilt, back when it was going to be a strip quilt, not a medallion.


All of this reminds me of a post from three years ago, about something I overheard. It was short, so I will copy it here in its entirety: 

[Overheard] at the Chicago International Quilt Festival, one woman talking to another:

First woman, “I haven’t finished anything recently. Life got in the way.”

Second woman, “That’s the good news!”

Often I hear of “life” as an interruption to some other pursuit, like quilting, writing, or keeping up with television programs. It often connotes that something bad has happened, requiring our time, energy, and attention. It could be that a relative needs care, or we’ve been ill, or the college bills demand finding a second job.

But those aren’t interruptions, are they? Aren’t those the things we’re here for, taking care of others and ourselves? We are connected. Our relationships are (or should be) primary. That, of course, includes the relationship with ourselves. And the leisure pursuits are the luxury. To put it another way, the relationships are the sustenance. The hobbies are the dessert.

So the good news is that life gets in the way sometimes, that we have enough to sustain us that we can enjoy the treat when it’s available.

One More Quilt Top Finished

For my recent quilt retreat, I prepped material to sew three quilt tops. Over the two-and-a-half days I got a lot done, including one quilt top finished, one done except borders applied, and one with a boatload of blocks created. I already showed you the first two of them. Now I’ve finished the third quilt top, too.

This will be another quilt intended for my local VA hospital. They have requested quilts finishing at no bigger than 48″ x 60″. The size works well as a lap quilt for most people, but most importantly, the quilts are tangible symbols of appreciation and respect.

I love block quilts with chains. The puss-in-the-corner blocks are so easy to make and create those chains effectively. What doesn’t work in this quilt is the lack of value contrast. Because of the prints used and the fairly narrow range of value, this is all a bit mushy. As you might be able to tell from the close-up photo, though, it’s actually much prettier in person than it shows in the top photo. And I think it will suit one of our hero-patients just right.

With the end of February rolling up on us, I only have one finished quilt in my count for the year, as well as the three completed tops. Another (the house quilt) is in process. But I’ve been working hard on other projects, so I don’t feel (very) sorry for myself.

How’s your year coming along? Are you making progress on things (however you define that) as you’d hoped?