Savor Each Stitch: Emphasis

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My bee group that is progressing through the book called Savor Each Stitch (by Carolyn Friedlander) is focusing on Emphasis in February. I started out with a rough plan way back in November, thinking I’d do something fairly easy and paper piece a mini from Carolyn’s Facing East pattern which is in the book.

Well last night I was struck by some real inspiration. I was scrolling through IG as I often do and I saw a post by Diane (@fromblankpages) about a fun challenge her LQS is doing called the Crayon Color Challenge (#crayoncolorchallege on IG). You pull two or three crayons from a bag and those are the colors you have to use in a quilt.

I thought this would be fun because of the unknown. But we all know there are folks out there who would get hives just thinking of giving up that much control over a project. That’s perfectly fine too!

I was a little sad that several people responded to my post on Facebook about this challenge saying that they were doing something similar through their guild but the colors they pulled were just not inspiring them to do anything. Maybe I have a different perspective because the colors I pulled weren’t too bad, but I always like to be challenged to push myself beyond my comfort zone (in quilting at least).

So even though after digging around I wasn’t actually able to find any crayons I decided to use pretty markers instead and here is what I randomly drew.

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What is your first reaction? Mine was “yuck”! But I hushed my inner voice and said ” I’m going to give it a try anyway.” And I started to grab fabrics. I knew I wanted to use the Floating Squares score from the Improv Handbook for Modern Quilters (by Sherri Lynn Wood) so I immediately grabbed my scrap buckets.

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This whole time I was thinking about how much that green is just throwing the entire thing off! I wanted to work with those pretty warm colors, why would anyone ever throw green in there? But you know what? That is exactly the point of doing this! So at that point I had spent my free time before I had to give the kid a bath just finding the markers and deciding what to do and I didn’t get to sit and sew anything. That didn’t stop me though. While the kid is in the bath I can usually work on something and still monitor him so I grabbed a handy dandy sketch book and those exact markers I pulled and decided to try to draw Floating Squares. (This is similar to another score in the Improv Handbook, something about creating from a doodle) Now I’ll be honest here, drawing Floating Squares is not overly easy, especially when the sketchbook doesn’t have any grid to follow, but it was enjoyable in the end.

I started with yellow and added orange and red, just like I’m planning to do with the fabric. Then I looked at the picture and asked myself “how am I going to include this green?” The answer? Everything in moderation, so I just snuck in some green here and there. This is what my sketchbook version looks like.

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So I’m pretty excited to actually play with the fabric and see how it turns out! It could still end up a hot mess but it will always be a learning experience for me!

The bee meets on Saturday February 20 and I’m anxious to see if I can have a finished project (that means including binding) to show at the meet up.

Happy Stitches,

Anna

Life is Messy

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I am reading through the Marie Kondo book called the Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up and it’s been…interesting. I find myself having to hush my inner voice that says “This woman is obsessive compulsive!” and “She definitely does NOT have children or probably a significant other” She describes how she comes home each day, follows a very specific routine of putting everything in it’s place, everything she has in her purse is taken out and put away and she thanks it for doing it’s job that day.

Yes, I realize she is from a different culture. As an American, I think I would feel silly (and probably get some strange looks from my husband) if I spoke to my clothes and the things in my purse every day. (Although I did hear my son saying “Bye house” when we walked out the door the other day). While the idea of putting everything in a specific space does have some appeal (one morning my husband woke me up about 10 minutes to 6 AM to help him find his keys) and I do have a routine of keeping specific items in a certain pocket in my purse or putting my keys in a specific spot, but talking to my clothes? No, probably isn’t going to happen. But that’s OK.

Now, how has this book helped me? It has inspired me. The core concept of her book is to only keep items that give you joy and discard the rest. Let’s just say this is a struggle because I’m not the only person in my house. Marie Kondo addresses this briefly by saying to only worry about your own stuff. That seems to make sense, until you realize that even if you narrow your own stuff down to just the things that bring you joy, some of the items owned by the other people in your home may still cause mental clutter. I’m still trying to figure out how to address that.

What have I managed to do so far?

I’ve sorted through my clothes (which I’d say was less than most people have anyway) and only kept those things that I find joy in wearing. (I think I need to buy new clothes soon)

I’ve re-folded all the clothes in my dresser so that they follow her way of folding and now I can see all my clothes (did the same for hub’s drawer) and now I’m finding that when I used to hate folding clothes, I’m treating it as a mini meditation. Last night I folded clothes before bed while the boy was falling asleep. It was a quiet activity to do and I didn’t need a lot of light, then I could put things away and go to sleep with a clear “laundry conscience” which is my new favorite word (I just made up).

I’ve tackled the kitchen cupboards. This is a big one because we don’t own a lot of kitchen stuff, but we have a TON of cupboard space so the empty cupboards became a sort of dumping ground for our stuff. Well, no more! I was going to just tackle ONE cupboard, but once I did one, I just kept going and went through all of them. No big deal, I also scrubbed the kitchen counters, sorted through the drawers (except for one junk drawer I still need to tackle). I haven’t gone through the lower cabinets yet. That’s where we store some appliances and things, I don’t think I’ll have a problem sorting through them either. Truth is we just don’t cook super fancy meals that require special tools, so why keep all that clutter around?

I also sorted through my Quilt Book cabinet upstairs. I was able to donate a lot of books to my local library. I get so excited thinking about all the people who will be able to learn about sewing by checking out those books from our library. I wanted to try the “touch everything and only keep what brings you joy” technique in my sewing area, but it needs to be reserved for a time when I can devote a full day to it.

My husband thinks I’m on some crazy decluttering spree right now, and maybe I am. In remembering my word for the year, which is Passion, I’m sort of throwing myself into the process of cleaning up. I guess everyone thinks about cleaning things up in January, maybe in preparation for Spring Cleaning. The weather here in Houston is so Spring like that perhaps it’s spurring these feelings early. I know I could halfheartedly try to declutter a specific area, but it will immediately rebound to clutter again (which is something Marie Kondo addresses in her book). I want to avoid that. I think that methodically going through everything in the house is going to really help me understand what we have and why we have it.

A lot of people don’t do a whole house clean up unless they have a major life event like a new baby or a big move. We don’t have plans for either in our future but why not do the clean up anyway? Why start the year as a continuation of the things that were weighing us down last year?

More thoughts on this in another post. I’ve probably bothered you long enough.

Happy Stitches,

Anna

My Small World QAL 2 – PSA

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These cuties are 4″ square (roughly) The first blocks of my #mysmallworldqal2! I used a tutorial for Quarter Square Triangles that I found on pinterest and it make it so much faster.  I’m going to avoid cutting and sewing triangles as much as possible. I’m pinning stuff to my pinterest board called My Small World QAL 2 if you are interested. I’m craftygirlanna on Pinterest.

I was so proud of myself when I finished these blocks!  They are super cute and represent something so fun and the excitement I feel when I start a new project.  Keep reading for the public service announcement (PSA) about the pattern.

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A quick PSA for those who are doing the #mysmallworldqal2 the instructions are listed with FINISHED block measurements. So if you have to trim up a block be sure you are calculating the UNFINISHED size. i.e. a 4″ block in the pattern should really be 4.5″ I overlooked that point when I was figuring which block to make and my hourglass blocks are 4″ unfinished.  Yes, that’s going to throw off my pattern by roughly 1/2″ in various spots.

On another note, I’ve always struggled with accurate seam allowances and even though I followed the instructions for the pinwheels and they should have been 4.5″ unfinished mine came out to 4.25″! That’s how I figured out about the finished/unfinished size thing.

So personally because I used all of my blue fabric for the pinwheels, I’m trimming mine down to 4″ to match my wrong hourglass blocks. I’ll just have to make it work (it could be a disaster!) I wanted to share my mistake to help others avoid frustration!

Happy Stitches,
Anna

My Small World QAL 2

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I typically stay away from any project that has a time line even if it’s just a quilt along hosted on Instagram or a blog. Trying to actually make a quilt block every week is so difficult in my busy life.  But since my mother in law gave me the amazing My Small World quilt pattern by Jen Kingwell for Christmas and Nicole announced that she was hosting a QAL part 2 I decided to do it. She was very clear that this is a low key thing and work at your own pace (which for me could mean I’ll be lucky to finish this small quilt before my 4 year old graduates for high school).

Because it’s primarily an Instagram QAL I’ve shared my thoughts in a few posts and I’m tagging them with #mysmallworldqal2 but I’m going to share them here as well, just for the heck of it. At some point I’ll figure out how to feed my IG into my blog but until then, here is my set of initial thoughts about my preparation that I shared on IG.

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I got the FPP templates printed (to get foundation paper piece templates, check out this post on Sew What Sherlock’s blog), I’ve read all the blog posts from round one of the QAL,  I’ve gathered some low volumes for the sky and I’ve decided to use my favorite fabric in the world, my Amy Butler hoard for the fun parts.

I’ve already learned that
a) the printed pattern (not from the magazine) does not seem go in order of the sections
b) the FPP templates were roughly printed to follow the sections so I cut all the templates out and grouped them then labeled them with what page they are on (that’s the plastic baggies in the picture) This will help me know how many to make.
c) The number of FPP templates does not exactly align with what the pattern requires but that’s no biggie I can always print more.
d) Also I really need more low volumes so if anyone wants to do a trade, let me know.

Finally I’ve decided to embrace the wabi-sabi nature of how I piece and not sweat the small stuff. If pieces don’t line up, I’ll just add some to make it work. This isn’t for a show, it’s not for being judged it’s just for me to enjoy and learn something and finish something! This wasn’t on my original ufo list but hopefully it stays on my WIP list instead.

I’ll be sharing some more insights that I find along the way (at least two more posts coming soon) so if you want to get them, be sure to sign up for email posts or add me to bloglovin.

Happy stitches!

Anna

Deep Thoughts

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I love to sew, I love to make things from little bits of fabric.  Sometimes I start making things and get a little distracted but we all do that, right? I see every project, finished or not, as a learning process.  Toward the end of 2015 I learned how to sew curves, or at least how to sew the Drunkard’s Path block. I didn’t attend a class, I didn’t watch a tutorial online, I just cut the fabric and sewed it together.  For the most part, they came out pretty good. I used to think I had passion for creating and drive for teaching people to sew. Those are important ingredients if you own your own business. You have to believe passionately in what you’re doing and have the drive to make it a viable business.

I still have passion to create but the drive isn’t there as much anymore. Maybe that’s what we call losing our sew-jo.  I don’t know if I’ve lost mine or I’m just feeling low today for whatever reason. I wish I could do a job everyday where I had both passion and drive.  I wish I could be as excited to go to work as I am when I get to go to a quilt retreat.  I know that some people who seem to have jobs like that.  I guess they are the lucky ones. Or maybe they just portray that their job is that great.

I decided to choose a word to inspire me this year. Last year I chose Happy and every time I saw a poster or quote or sign that said something about happy (which was pretty often) it reminded me to be happy. I believe the saying that happiness is an inside job.

This year my word is passion. I think I was spending my life on auto pilot, just trying to make it through every day. This year I want that to change. If I do something I want it to be with passion,  throw my whole self into it. My family has a little tendency to be obsessive about things. My dad will choose an interest and pursue it with passion for at least a month and then move on to the next thing. My sister is the same way.  My mom is passionate about football (the Cowboys) and basketball (the Spurs) and recently I’ve actually been able to chat with her because I’ve started watching the Texans play.

I always thought my passion was sewing or quilting and I think it still is, but at this moment, my passion is getting my house in order. I’ve started reading the Marie Kondo book about tidying/decluttering and it is making a difference. It’s inspired me to spend an entire evening methodically cleaning out my kitchen cupboards.

I think passion also means being present for my family. I sometimes slip into Instagram world where I only want to scroll through and see what’s new and I ignore everyone else. I don’t want to miss my family moments because I’m involved in what other people are doing on social media.

I think the sew-jo will come back eventually but for right now, I have other things to do. This is why I intentionally do not choose to do projects with deadlines. I’m only accountable to myself (except the Quilters Bee Mod which is one block a month).

Oh and my other passion right now is getting into shape. I’m trying to reach my daily step goal a couple times a week and that’s really hard! Thankfully hubby was supportive of us joining a gym so we can both go and the kid can go to a play room.

Well that’s all my deep thoughts for the day. Do you have a guiding word this year?

Anna

Inspiration is Everywhere

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Heather Jones (right) and me with her book!

So as it turns out, I must be searching for inspiration and someone is trying to tell me that I should look in my surroundings.  I was so thrilled when I saw that my LQS was going to host Heather Jones on Friday for a book signing since she was here for quilt market.

I love her book Quilt Local which was inspired by her surroundings in rural Ohio. Of course my surroundings are almost the complete opposite because I live in suburban Houston and work downtown where I’m surrounded by a pretty cool urban landscape.

The second book I recieved as a birthday gift this weekend is called Wanderlust Quilts, written by Mandy Leins and it’s also about being inspired by architecture but it’s from ancient civilizations! Two very different books that both tell a story of finding inspiration from your environment.

Both books have gotten my brain thinking and I can’t wait to see what they inspire me to make! Also it makes me either want to move to a farm or visit more of my urban landscape to take pictures and be inspired. (The second is more likely than the first.)

Happy stitches!

Anna

Progress Report: October Use It or Lose It Stash

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I’m not sure how many of you have seen my posts about my challenge with myself and my friend Jennilee (@quiltyjl on IG). We said we would choose a simple shape and turn it into a quilt using only our stash. We were going to do one a month starting in August (because we came up with this idea at the retreat in July) and we decided to do something with squares. Well, I chose a Scrappy trip around the world quilt because it’s very easy and uses a ton of fabric. Also it helped that my buddy Sara E. was also hosting a STATW QAL on Facebook for motivation.  So I cut some strips and dove in as I typically do. I kept up the pace of the QAL which was pretty rigorous, I even won a door prize for posting my blocks! At this time I’m happy to report that I’ve made so much progress that I even ran out of red strips from my first day of cutting! I still have a long way to go before this quilt top is done because I decided I need to be a little more prescriptive in how I use my low volume fabric so that means that I have to make more blocks (each row has to have the same low volume fabric to make a consistent pattern.)
Throughout this process I learned something which I think I already knew but it was a good reminder: I hate repetitive piecing. I get bored very quickly and lose focus. The QAL ended (the rest of the group is challenged to bring a completed top to the November guild meeting in San Antonio) so now my motivation has waned. The only reason I really picked it back up was that I had the blocks up on my design wall and wanted to work on something else but didn’t want to put the blocks away for good! So I’m pushing through and in between piecing strips and subsets I’m working on the Epic Lightning McQueen quilt (#epiclightningmcqueenquilt) for my son. It’s also a racing theme and so I think it will have a little more longevity than just a flat out Cars theme quilt.
This one has also pushed my limits and comfort zone because I chose to follow a pattern, which I also dislike to do. I’m rather frustrated because I cut all the pieces as the pattern specified and they are all squares or rectangles and they are still not lining up! I’m not really OCD when it comes to piecing (it’s hard to be when you prefer to improv or make it up as you go along) but the blocks are coming out wonky and I’m not doing it on purpose and that bothers me. I’m plugging through though because I know that a little wonky never hurt anyone and this isn’t a quilt for a show, it’s for my son to use and love. And he gets excited when he sees the fabrics up on the design wall.

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Lastly I thought I’d share an update on my most recent finished project. It was a triple threat because I used it as my October project for the Savor Each Stitch bee (so fun to have two new people at our meeting this month!) Plus it was triangles which was the shape Jennilee and I chose for October Use It or Lose It challenge,  plus it was a practice of the 6th score in The Improv Handbook for Modern Quilters!

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So there it is, it’s super small, but it took me a few hours to piece because I was trying to teach myself how to sew triangles without looking at a tutorial!  Let me tell you, it’s not as easy as it seems. And yes, it’s quilted with free motion triangles and I only did a zigzag on the edge because I didn’t feel like doing a binding or facing. I’ve already hung it up in my cubicle where I am replacing all the minis I got in swaps witb minis that I’ve made myself.  The swap minis are on display at home in my sewing loft.
Well I guess that about sums up the month of October for now. Next week is my birthday and 4 days of classes at Quilt Festival!  I may have overdone it a bit since I’m kind of wishing I had allowed myself an extra day off to go get a pedicure and get my hair done or something. I’ll be in class all day every day and then I’ll have to go home and be mommy and wife in the evening. Maybe I need to take Monday off the next week so I can recover! Too bad I have too much going on at work to allow that.

Thanks for reading all this even though you’ve probably seen it all through FB or IG. Happy Thursday!

Anna