Friday, March 28, 2008

Ho Hum

I'm feeling very "ho hum" today. It's Friday of a week that was both LONG in that it was jam-packed with meetings and running around and putting out fires (so to speak) and SHORT in that time just flew by. Until today, of course. Today it is quiet in the office, even though nearly my entire department is here. Today it is cold. Today it is raining, and it is dark. It took all the energy I could muster for me to pry myself out of that quilty bed full of warmth and sleeping husband and kitty cats at 7AM. BUT, I did it. I am here, and in an hour and a half, I will be back out, on my way home to awake husband and kitty cats and television and lap quilts. 

At this point, weekend plans are fairly non-existent. I must get up tomorrow morning because the landlord is coming. Still, 8AM is sleeping in, so I should be fine. Other than that, I'm looking forward to finishing up the project I've posted pictures of above and below. It's the first of the crafty objects made from those Kona cottons I mentioned previously. Kinda looks like paint strips in this form, huh? It's mostly assembled at this point, but I won't be posting any pictures of it until (hint, hint) after mid-April. 

Have a good weekend, all two of you readers! Oh, and a belated happy 2nd birthday to our little Iris, who had a very nice day yesterday, complete with a new feathers-on-a-stick toy that she promptly started chewing the feathers off of. Ahh, how fast they grow... 

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Quilted Tote

As I promised in my last post, this one is not at all about cats but instead is about the quilted tote I whipped together on Sunday night. And by "whipped together" I don't mean in the 30 minutes while dinner was cooking. No, despite that being my original thought, it wasn't how it worked out. It took me a good two hours (including those 30 minutes before dinner) to make this baby. For some reason, I just thought it wouldn't take as long as it did.

Which is why I got sloppy. You can see a couple more shots on my Flickr page. I machine-applied the binding to save time, and I used white thread throughout because, hey, that's what I had in my machine. So you can see that on the handles as well. The bag is an Atkinson design, and my pattern is from this book, although I think she publishes it often in her other books.

But, sloppiness aside, it's pretty cute, right?

It's making me think of spring.

Monday, March 24, 2008

This Is NOT a Cat Blog...

...but I can't help but post these sweet pictures of the cats taken over my long weekend. Not that I had any days off work... No, I took Friday for myself because I knew this week was going to be crazy--it is. It's full of meetings, which I pretty much hate. Why do I need a career? With responsibility? I mean, I love my job and all, but some weeks are just easier than others.

I digress... I took Friday off to sleep in and go out to brunch with Rob and take some pictures in sunlight. Like the photo above, which is Iris on the (quilted) bedspread, with two quilted wall hangings behind her. Like I said before, is there such a thing as too much quilty? I pretty much love the bedroom like this now.

And here's a closeup of my lovely Iris Beans on the bed quilt and with my Yellow Brick Road quilt for a little extra snuggle bumper. She is a beauty, no?

Aaaand here are both of the cats getting along and laying together on the bed. The longer days of sunlight have everyone a little more cheery in our apartment. Well, energetic at least. Bellow was extra rough in playing with Iris the last two days and we've had to yell at him for biting her until she yowls both days. I worry what they're up to while we're at work, though they really are probably just napping.

Okay, it's late and Iris and I need to join the boys in bed. I promise the next post will be less about the cats and more about the crafting I've done over the weekend, like the quilted tote I whipped together last night. Stay tuned...

Friday, March 14, 2008

A Taste

Here's just a taste of some lovely Kona cotton solids I've gotten in the last month or so. I just can't help it when they're on sale here. So I go a little crazy and buy half yards of all the blues and greens and even some purples. My friend JJ calls these "water colors" and I think that's appropriate. Anyway, I will be diving into this stack tomorrow to work on a new project I have in the works. 

Speaking of tomorrow, it's National Quilting Day! My plan to celebrate is to pop down to my local quilt shop to ask some advice about a current project I have in the works, then meet a (non-quilty) friend for lunch, and, at some point, get started on aforementioned secret new project. I'm sure in there I'll also watch some On-Demand Party of Five, because who can resist? Seriously. 

And now, some interesting links: 
  • I just came across this tutorial for making sew-in garment labels and think it is so great! I'd previously been using a similar technique, but with white felt instead of twill tape. When I finally get around to making the dresses I have planned, I'll have to give this a shot. 
  • In honor of National Quilting Day being tomorrow, here's a link to Dear Jane, which is probably the most famous historical quilt (am I wrong here?). I'm drawn to the story and find it so compelling... Maybe it will be something to tackle someday, but I'm just not ready to embark on such a project right now. 
Happy Friday! I will be SO happy when this week is over. Today hasn't been to bad, but I've spent the last six work days in what my previous boss calls "quality control hell" and have realized that it doesn't end, it just has layers. Tonight will be cocktails and movies and forgetting about anything related to quality control--until Monday. 

Thursday, March 13, 2008

It's Done!

It's done! I finished all of the hand-stitched binding on Tuesday night, and I had to put it on the bed immediately and take some pictures. I did them without flash after 10pm, so pardon the graininess. I hope to get some better shots this weekend in the sunlight. As soon as I had it on the bed Bellow had to sit right in the middle of things. But he looks so cute against those colors, right?

Here's the best I could do to show the full quilt. It's five blocks wide by five blocks long with a top and bottom border to make it rectangular instead of square. The first and fifth rows hang over the sides of our full-sized mattress. I used solid Kona cottons plus some woven madras plaids for the entire thing. It still hasn't been washed yet, and I wonder if that will change some of the contrast in the Kona gray? It seems to be a little directional, as you can see in the photo above. 

Here's a closeup of one of the squares. I adore this camera, even in the dark after 10pm with no flash. 

Iris soon discovered that she wanted to be on the bed, too, and they immediately started tussling. I just love this funny cat-ball picture! They are too silly sometimes. 

Aaaand last but not least, here's the view from the bed (colors are definitely off in this photo, though). Yep, I hung it up. Now there are three quilts in that room, plus our Yellow Brick Road quilts that we keep dragging to bed as well--just like little kids. Is there such a thing as too quilty? 

Wednesday, March 5, 2008


What strange weather we are having... It poured yesterday afternoon and night (and, sans brelly, I was soaked by the time I got home), and again this morning. Even with my umbrella my pants were wet nearly to my knees, front AND back. The whole morning was the colors of my fan quilt, grayish winter light included. But now... now it is 58* and sunny and beautiful. Who could wear a scarf now?! Aaah, New England.

I have nothing much to share on the crafty end. I am procrastinating on binding my big quilt. I've noticed that I've been doing this lately--attaching binding, then letting something sit for a week before I start hand-stitching. It's not that I don't have time... Not like I didn't sit on the couch with Bellow all last night while Rob was teaching and watch reality TV On-Demand and do nothing. I've just decided to listen to my body, not force productivity, and thus avoid crafter burnout, which usually hits me full-on following the holidays. I have a few projects in mind and this one to wrap up, but it feels really good to not have a dozen things in progress.

So, some interesting links for you:
  • On Inspiration Boards there is an interview with Amanda Soule from SouleMama. It's always nice to get a peek into someone else's creative lifestyle, and Amanda is always inspiring.
  • Crazy Mom Quilts has an entry and a video on free-motion quilting. She's using the pin-basting method, but I firmly resolve to never go back from my spray basting! That perhaps is an entry of its own... But this will give you an idea of what free-motion quilting looks like, though she's a very good stippler and doesn't appear to be having nearly the trouble I do.
  • Today Softies Central has some really sweet elephants, including the first softie EVER. I particularly adore the vinyl one. Here's the elephant softie I made (from the Softies book) for my friend JJ for Christmas:

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Quilting + Miscellany

I had a very productive quilting week last week. I'd been working on piecing a queen-sized "What a Bunch of Squares" from the book Denyse Schmidt Quilts and it suddenly came together very fast. A friend of mine had already made the quilt and she was generous enough to let me borrow her templates. I measured all of the pieces and then squared them up so they could be cut with a rotary cutter--I've realized I do NOT like making template-cut quilts. Especially not huge ones. So I cut out pieces over a couple of weekends and then on Oscar Sunday pieced most of the quilt. Then on Wednesday night I arranged the blocks:

I was on such a roll that I proceeded to piece and press the entire quilt top, then sandwich it with the batting and backing! So when I came back to it on Sunday, the question was how to quilt it.

You see, I'd been planning on hand-quilting the entire thing in concentric squares, probably 3" apart. It's a queen-sized quilt, so HUGE, and I doubted my ability to do it on my machine. And, though I love the look of hand-quilting and would like to do it at some point, I didn't particularly want to spend days and days hand-quilting a utility quilt that I will probably be cleaning cat puke off of in a matter of weeks. However, after carefully rolling in the ends, I found that I could easily access the middle of the quilt:

And if the middle is accessible, everything is! So I spent roughly 4 hours on Sunday feeding this beast through my machine. I had to rip one row out due to a tension issue, but other than that it went well. Except... Well, except for the fact that I am sore today. And was sore yesterday, too. Note to self: ALWAYS wear quilting gloves while machine quilting, even if using the walking foot. If I'd been wearing them the whole time instead of just for the last hour, my arm and shoulder muscles wouldn't be aching from the pressure of pushing all of that weight through my machine.

So, now I've got the entire thing machine-quilted in a large grid pattern. Here are the cats testing it out (read: fighting on it):

I did my signature embroidery on the back, and attached the binding. The only thing that's left is to hand-stitch the 30+ feet of binding on the back side. But I'm looking forward to finishing it, and to having my little helper:

And this picture of Bellow is just too cute not to share:

In other news, I was nearly accosted yesterday by a woman who wanted to compliment my haircut. We walked into the library and I took off my hat, and this woman was in my face, talking to me. It's like she was surprised at my hair. She said, "Oh my GOD! I just LOVE your haircut! It's so CUTE!" What could I say? "Um, thanks...?" I guess I did a good job cutting it on Saturday.

I just have to comment on the weather today. Oh MY. It is 57* outside in Boston! It was windy today so I bundled up this morning (though Rob left and came back to change his coat, saying it was really warm out, so I switched to my other winter coat) and when I walked outside I couldn't believe how balmy the weather felt! The wind was WARM! Of course, I spent my commute in noticing how many people had umbrellas. I didn't bring one today, and looks like we're getting rain today and tomorrow. Oh well. If it's a warm rain, I just can't complain.