Wednesday, September 3, 2008


My apologies to the handful of you who actually read this blog. Sorry it's been so long since I've posted, and sorry I don't have any crafty pictures to show you today. That will be remedied, but right now they are still on my camera. Instead, I have these cloud pictures I snapped with my cell phone yesterday morning on my walk to work. They make me hopeful.

Yesterday was my first day back to work in four days--I took Friday off just to have an extra long weekend. Anyway, there was something in the air yesterday that made me feel hopeful. It was like everything was a new beginning, even though not a lot is changing for me. Summer is unofficially over, which means no more summer Fridays, but also means I'm back to my 9-to-5 and getting home a little after 6 instead of at 7:30. It also means we're really hitting our fall season with the books and I'm getting a lot busier at work, which really makes the time fly. Rob starts teaching a little this week, and then has a full week next week. Routine feels good. So does productivity.

With my four-day weekend, I did lots of crafting. Rob was home the whole time, too. We were fairly anti-social, but most of our friends were out of town or otherwise occupied, so it wasn't hard to just stick around. We did SOMEthing every day, even if it was just getting groceries, going to the museum, getting bagels, or having a picnic at the park. We also watched a bunch of movies. But for the most part, when we were home, I was crafting.

I've been getting a little anxious about Christmas this year. I know, I know, it's almost four months away, but when your gifts are handmade, and number 20+, you really need to start thinking about things early. Last year I made a lot of big, different things for everyone. I did a pretty good job of budgeting my time, but still had some late nights and some close mailing deadlines. This year I decided everyone is getting similar things, but they will still be personalized. And the gifts will also be smaller, easier to make, but no less handmade, and with no less love put into them. So, in an effort to try some things out and get a jump on the gifts, here's what I accomplished over my four-day crafty retreat:
  • Cut, basted, and blanket-stitched (by hand) 13 needle books
  • After some trial and error, made three jelly jar pincushions and will be able to make nine more very easily
  • Finished piecing the top and back of my Little Bits quilt, sandwiched it, and quilted it
  • Almost finished piecing an entire quilt top from "jelly roll" strips I cut from fat quarters; this will be another gift
  • Cut out fabric to make ten little birds, which will become a lovely birthday gift
  • Made a nifty quilted pillow case for my sewing chair pillow, complete with free-motion quilted curlicues
  • Did lots of reading of this book and made much progress on the top and borders of my first mini-quilt
It was a lot of cutting, pressing, stitching, pressing... But it felt so good to get so much done and off my list. I will be posting pictures of everything soon--once I fully document it all and get the pictures off my camera.

I haven't been able to get excited about fall. I don't know why I've been so reluctant to let go of the summer, but I have been. Anyway, yesterday something changed. I don't know exactly what it was. My walk to the train was busier, with more traffic, making it more difficult to cross streets in some places. But the sky was lovely, full of wisps of clouds. And the sun was shining. And between yesterday and today I listened to The National, My Brightest Diamond, and Jeff Buckley. Wowee. It's a beautiful way to start a day. And though I still wouldn't say I'm excited for fall, I am hopeful.

I'm hopeful for the elections and for Obama, who I fully support. I'm hopeful for good, busy workdays and productive crafting at home. I'm hopeful for more quilting classes and a chance to learn paper piecing. I'm hopeful for more snuggle time with my cats, who are little bundles of wonderfulness covered in fur. I'm hopeful for a new season of NFL football and for long Sundays with stew and fresh bread and lots of beer and TV. I'm hopeful for more hand-sewing.

I'm also hopeful that this Flickr mini-quilt swap I signed up for wasn't a mistake. This is a monthly swap with quilts no larger than 15" square, and a new swap partner every month. There is also a monthly theme. We've known this month's theme, hearts, for a few weeks but just got our partners the other day. I had an idea for the hearts theme but wanted to wait and see who my partner was to make sure it was something she would like (we all posted our likes and dislikes, so the idea is that you get something made just for you). I decided to go ahead with my original idea, though I haven't made any physical progress on it yet. Yesterday I learned that some people are done and were talking about a mailing on the 7th or the 10th! Wow--talk about anxiety-inducing. This is my first swap and I want to be good, but I also don't want to stress myself out over it; it's supposed to be fun! So I've kicked my mental planning into high gear and actually lied in bed, awake, from 3am until after 4, thinking about how best to make this work. Ugh. And then this morning, before hopping in the shower, I dug through my stash and picked out scraps for the different elements, so I'll be ready to start cutting tonight. I'm nervous, but I'm also hopeful that I'll do good work and receive good work and my swap partner will be happy.

I have a question for you quilters out there, if you're still reading. How do you label your quilts? I usually just chain-stitch or back-stitch "KK 2008" on the back before attaching the binding, but I don't think that will cut it for this swap, or probably for any of the other projects I have pending. Any suggestions? I don't like the idea of the printable fabric because I like to wash my quilts, and I know that over time the ink on the label will continue to fade. This is something I need to look into, and quick!

Anyway, happy Wednesday, happy September, and happy (gulp) start of fall. I'm still not giving up my skirts, though. Not yet.

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