Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Project paralysis

Sometimes I fall prey to project paralysis—typically when I'm feeling overwhelmed by something. In this case, the overwhelmedness was caused by a combination of too many projects, a freelance job, and deadlines (both for the projects and the freelance job). I knew the freelance job might put me over the top, but my old boss asked so nicely I just couldn't say no (and I have to admit, the extra money is pretty motivating too). So, for the last couple of weeks, I've been accomplishing very little craft-wise (not even Warcraft-wise!).

Being stalled on projects has seemingly motivated me to instead add to the stash. There has been much shopping in the last week! It has been a lot of fun, particularly since it feels like it's been a long time since I've had a chance to just go out and browse and see what's in the shops.

This last weekend was the Western Washington Quilt Shop Hop. 57 stores joined forces to create a hugemongous shop hop adventure. I didn't think I'd be able to do any of it this year, but I actually managed to visit 9 shops and all but one was new to me! It was a lot of fun getting to explore the area and visit new places.

In previous years, I have headed north and west. So this year, I went south.

On Friday, the boy and I visited four shops:
  • Quiltworks Northwest in Bellevue: What a fun store! They carry a wonderful selection of modern and hip prints from all the hot designers. They also have a large bead and embellishment selection (which I did not explore at all). I definitely plan to revisit this shop in the near future.

  • Pieces Quilt Shop in Renton: It was small but the space was really nice-- light and bright and open. It looks like it would be a great place to take a class.

  • Taylor Creek Quilt Studio in Maple Valley: This shop was tiny, but boy did they pack it full of fabric! It had a great blend of traditional and modern with a super-friendly staff. They actually were able to point the way to a nearby park where the boy and I had a fun picnic lunch.

  • The Calico Cat in Auburn: So much inspiration there! Lots of great samples and displays scattered throughout the store (and it is a BIG store). By that point, the boy was done, so it was a pretty quick stop. I wish we could have explored a little more there, but it is a shop I have visited before, so I didn't mind so much.

On Sunday, my husband and I dropped the boy off at the grandparents' and we did a little more hopping. (I have a seriously fabulous husband!!!)
  • Quilt Barn in Puyallup: From the outside, it's pretty unassuming-- just another shop in a strip mall. But I was in for a treat once I stepped through the doors. Bright, open and not only a great selection of fabrics and fun samples, but also a very friendly and welcoming staff. I had a lot of fun exploring their store.

  • The Wild Rose Quilt Shop in Orting: The store is in a great space and had tons of samples (which were very effective... I bought a pattern because of a couple of them!). They also had the largest selection of reproduction prints that I've seen in this area so far (they even had them organized by era, with labels on the shelves indicating the time period-- pretty cool!). They also had some fun, modern prints as well. I fell in love with this shop.

  • Creative Quilter in Graham: What I liked most about this store was their local focus-- many of the samples were from regional designers or featured local themes. And the staff was very welcoming and friendly.

  • Shibori Dragon in Lakewood: This store was a feast for the imagination! The main features were beautiful Asian textiles and embellishments galore-- everything from beads to to dyes. They actually had a full yarn shop as well (one of those moments when I really wish I knew how to knit or crochet). I left this store feeling inspired.

  • Parkland Parish Quilt Co. in Tacoma: Located in a fabulous historic building (formerly a church), this shop offered a great selection of fabric and had a super-friendly staff. It also boasted a huge classroom area. This store was the budget-buster for me... I ended up getting 4 yards of fabric here!

I don't have pictures from any of the shops (because I failed to bring the camera). But (since I can't have a post without some kind of picture) here you can see what I purchased:

shop hop loot!
I had a lot of fun and my brain is full of crafty excitement again. I've been so motivated I've actually managed to get a quilt basted and quilted over the last couple of evenings. Project paralysis is at an end. Woo hoo!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Jane Stickle Quilt: J-1

Jane Stickle block J-1Block number/name: J-1 “Josepha’s Jonquil”

Date completed: June 23, 2009

Number of pieces: 6

Notes on block: This is one of the few blocks where I decided on the fabric long before I made the block. Now that it’s done, I kind of wonder what I was thinking. It’s not bad, but I probably should have taken a second look before diving in (particularly with regards to the surrounding blocks). I also wish my lines were a little straighter. I seem to do alright with straight lines on larger pieces, but these small ones always seem to curve on me. I did them with freezer paper on top, and pressed the seam allowances before basting. Maybe next time I’ll try with the freezer paper on the bottom, see if that works better for me.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Jane Stickle Quilt: M-12

Jane Stickle block M-12Block number/name: M-12 “Hopscotch”

Date completed: June 21, 2009

Number of pieces: 19

Notes on block: Simple and cute is how I would characterize this block. I stitched it up on Father’s Day after a fun taco dinner with the in-laws. Much tasty food was consumed, there was lots of fun for the Boy (he loves grandpa!), and we even got to do some video chatting with my sister-in-law in New Zealand. After everyone had gone and the Boy was put to bed, Keith lounged, I stitched and we watched a movie together. It was a very good day.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Playtime: the sailboat

I've slowed down on my BOMs since I started gaming again, but I haven't stopped entirely. A couple weeks ago, I managed to complete another Playtime block, the sailboat.

The most challenging aspect of this block was that the pieces were so large. I'd never appliqued such large pieces before! The block is 16" x 18". It is a good thing I cut the background larger, because I did have some shrinkage occur as I appliqued, probably because I didn't baste the large pieces as well as I should have. Another challenge in this block was the pattern itself-- there was no full-size diagram for this one. Each of the various pieces were on separate sheets, and then I had to kind of figure out placement. Even more confusing was that the mast piece wasn't among the pattern pieces or even mentioned in the directions... I had to guess on that one. The fabric requirements referenced the mast, saying that it required a 1" x 13" strip. I took that to mean that the final mast should be .5" wide, and kind of went from there. Thankfully it worked out in the end, but I really think that omission was a pattern error.

The left sail in the sample quilt was made from a cool, wide striped fabric. I didn't have any such fabric. So, to get the nifty striped look on my left sail, I cut and sewed strips of the yellow solid fabric to the striped fabric. Then I cut out the sail shape from my "new" fabric and appliqued it in place.

Next up for this quilt is the abacus block. I'm kind of procrastinating on it because it involves lots of circles. Eep!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Jane Stickle Quilt: RS-2

Jane Stickle block RS-2Block number/name: RS-2 “Cherokee Lee”

Date completed: June 15, 2009

Number of pieces: 24

Notes on block: I did this block out of “order.” I know it doesn’t actually matter, but it bothers me. As I was cutting this one out, I found myself getting all confused because of the directional print (I was trying to make sure that all my vines were going in the appropriate direction). So I laid it out on my clipboard that I keep in my lap as I do handwork (I’ve got a piece of felt clipped on there, so all the pieces stay in place and don’t slip about). Well. Then it became too much trouble to take it off because I know I’d get confused trying to lay it all out again. And so I ended up putting this block together before M-12.

This was a challenging block in that I had a very difficult time trying to pick a fabric, and (having picked the one I did) then had to carefully fussy cut it. But I think it worked out pretty well. (The funky divits are because of the template shapes… if I had pressed the other way, it would be all smooth… but I wanted to press to the green to make it pop out, like it was going over the white.)

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

3x3 Swap - Month 2

Here are my blocks for month two of the Three by Three swap hosted by Anina.

The top ones (the outside left and right ones, specifically) are a little busy. Hopefully, they'll be okay. I love the colors and do think they are pretty, but if I had it to do over again, I probably wouldn't have put the two prints together. The scales of the prints are just too similar in size. I think my favorites out of this batch are the yellow and pink ones (center right and bottom left). But the green/purple ones are pretty spiffy too (color-wise, they look better in person).

I think we're going to be getting our first month blocks in the mail here shortly. I can't wait to see what I get!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Jane Stickle Quilt: D-2 & E-5

Jane Stickle block D-2Block number/name: D-2 “Mouse in a Mirror”

Date completed: June 13, 2009

Number of pieces: 29

Notes on block: This is another block where I started with one fabric and changed my mind after I started cutting (hopefully, I’ll find a use for those triangles in another block!). But I like the fact that I could do a little fussy cutting with this fabric, and I think it really adds something to the look of the block. This block has also helped me determine that inset seams are no longer scary—at least, not when I am doing them by hand. This block came together smoothly and quickly. Part of the reason though can probably also be attributed to the fact that on the last few blocks, I’ve been very focused when stitching. No television to distract me. It’s just me sitting at the dining room table, working away. I think that really helps make it go faster.

Jane Stickle block E-5Block number/name: E-5 “Rising Sun”

Date completed: June 13, 2009

Number of pieces: 17

Notes on block: TWO blocks in one day. And what a fun block this one is! I really enjoyed every aspect of this block, from choosing the fabric to stitching down that circle. And I’m thrilled with how bright and vibrant it looks. This fun fabric was given to me by a friend awhile back (more than a year ago). She asked if I could use it, and I kind of skeptically said yes (it is rather scarily bright for me). And, of course, it is fabulous. Thank you so much, Angela!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Jane Stickle Quilt: TR-13

Jane Stickle block TR-13Block number/name: TR-13 “Eiffel Tower”

Date completed: June 9, 2009

Number of pieces: 19

Notes on block: This was a fun block to make. I’m not sure what it is I liked about it or why I enjoyed it so much, but I did. I completed this one on Tuesday evening, and have waited a little too long to write this entry. I can’t think of a single thing else to say about this block!

One thing I do remember about Tuesday… Our rule is that The Boy has to hold mama’s hand while in the street. He took my hand so we could cross the street and visit the park. But as soon as we actually stepped into the street, he let go of my hand. So I took his hand and said, “You have to hold mama’s hand when we’re in the street.” He looks at me, pushes my hand away and says “No!” He looked like he was going to make a break for it, but I grabbed his hand before he could make his escape. That was his first-ever, “No!” (And he has since repeated it many times!) Ah, the joys of toddlerhood!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Hi-tech storage solutions

The other day, I took some time to catch up on my Jane Stickle organization. I know I'm curious how people keep themselves organized (particularly on projects like this-- BIG!), so I thought I'd share what I do.

making mess to get clean
I have this habit of just stacking all my blocks in a pile once they're finished. Then, when I have a few (or a couple months worth, as in this case) I start organizing. This is me finally sitting down to get everything going. I keep a scrapbook for my Jane Stickle quilt, and have a page for each block. On each page, I have a picture of the completed block, the name/number of the block, the date completed, the number of pieces, notes—all the things which I also post here on my blog. In addition, I paste swatches of the fabrics used onto each page (thus all the fabric mess you see here).

my scrapbook
This is my binder/scrapbook. I insert each journal page into a sheet protector and then keep them in here. They're in order of date completed. The downside to this is when I attempt to actually try and find a specific block. So I may at some point just put them in order by block number. And someday, I hope to actually decorate the outside of my binder!

labeled blocks
Also part of this process is labeling the blocks. I write the block number on a small piece of freezer paper and iron it to the bottom right corner of the block.

Once those steps are complete, I then utilize my high-tech storage device:

block storage
Yes. A ziploc baggie. Which is now getting rather full. I'll probably need to start another.

triangle folder
Because I worry about my triangles distorting, I try really hard to keep them flat (which would be tough in a baggie). So with those, I use file folders. When I get enough, I'll probably separate them into four folders: top row, bottom row, left side, and right side. But for now, they're all in one folder.

In other Stickle news, I've been doing well at setting aside some time to work on them each night. I've completed one and have two more all prepped and ready to stitch. Yay, progress!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Jane Stickle Quilt: J-3

Jane Stickle block J-3Block number/name: J-3 “Rick’s Volleyball Net”

Date completed: June 8, 2009

Number of pieces: 14

Notes on block: This is such a pretty block! It is just a striking design. However, making it was not at all pretty for me. Ugh! I didn’t pay close enough attention to Anina’s instructions, and I ended up having to do the center section (with all the appliqué) twice. Thankfully, I got it right the second time around.

As of today, I am four blocks behind. WoW has just been consuming my evenings (level 50 now!). My goal this week is to try and take some time each night to just sit down and do a little stitching. Hopefully, I’ll be able to get caught back up in the next week or two and still get some game time in too. (You know, have my cake and eat it too?) We’ll see how it goes.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Panda progress

Though I have not been terribly productive, I have managed to make some progress on my quilt-along panda.

I've finished up the center and have begun working on the pinwheel border. I think it's coming along pretty nicely. This is good since it's looking like the baby for whom it is intended is going to pop out at any second now! My goal is to get the top finished up by this weekend so that I can quilt it. Wish me luck!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Too much?

This month's block exchange block left maybe a little too much freedom for me! It was pretty much anything goes. (If you're interested, you can read about how the block exchange works.) The box included a fat quarter of this fabric:

The blocks are going to become a calendar quilt. She provided a baggie with a different theme fabric for each month. My month is May and the theme is flowers. The instructions were pretty much make whatever block you want (12.5" unfinished) using the fabric provided as a basis of the theme.

After much procrastination, deliberation, and maybe even a little frustration (the task was made a little more difficult because I don't really like the fabric that much), I finally chose a block from my Electric Quilt software and then set to work.

SH's block
I didn't make it easy on myself, choosing a block with lots of pieces, applique, and inset seams. And then (because I had to include the theme fabric somehow!) I cut out motifs and did some more applique. On the one hand, I'm pretty pleased with how it came out. On the other, I wonder if maybe I didn't make it flowery enough. In any case, it is done. Hopefully, she'll like it!

New project

I've been playing with my new charm squares...

new project fun
Because one can never have too many projects, right?

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Jane Stickle Quilt: G-9

Jane Stickle block G-9Block number/name: G-9 “Mary’s Journey”

Date completed: June 3, 2009

Number of pieces: 33

Notes on block: It feels as if it has been forever since I last completed a block, though it has only been a couple of weeks. Frankly, I am a little surprised at how well this one turned out. As I was sewing, it seemed like some of the pieces were too big, that the seams just weren’t lining up, and that I might just have to scrap it. But, with a good press from the iron at the very end, it seems to have turned out alright.

Meanwhile, I’ve been continuing my virtual adventures in Azeroth. I’m level 45 now. And I’m still having a lot of fun. So, the stitching is still kind of taking a back seat for the time being. But this block has re-energized me some, so maybe I’ll try and do a little block catch-up!

Monday, June 1, 2009

My Saturday

On Saturday I was able to take the day off (leaving Papa in charge of the boy) and join some of my guildmates for a charity workday. We spent the day making quilts for Camp Korey. It is a camp for children with serious or life-threatening illnesses. In addition to offering a fun camp experience for these kids, they like to send each camper home with their very own quilt. My guild helps by creating and donating quilts for them.

So, with the help of some other wonderful ladies who did lots of cutting and pressing, I was able to finish a top in the six hours I was there:

This quilt was created from a kit put together from fabric that had been donated to the guild. The pattern is called "Blanket of Strawberries" from Quilter's World magazine (from the June 2003 issue, Vol. 25, No. 3, pages 50-51, 53). I wasn't sure about it at first, but it turned out to be a fun, simple pattern, and very quick to put together. I've actually already picked out some fabrics from my stash to make another!

Since I bonded with this quilt as I was working on it, I volunteered to bring it home and finish it up. My goal is to get it quilted and bound by the July meeting.