Monday, April 23, 2012

Spring Vacation by the Numbers

Last week was my kids' spring vacation.  My husband could only take one day off, we have a trip planned for June, and the weather was supposed to be beautiful, so the kids and I decided to spend the week at home.  I imagined a week of relaxation and play, interspersed with a bit of spring cleaning, a touch of gardening, and a lot of quilting.  Needless to say, the vacation didn't exactly go as planned.  Let me give it to you by the numbers:

Baseball/lacrosse practices:  7
Orthodontist/hair appointments:  4
Tacos consumed by 9 12-year old boys at son's birthday party:  60
Playoff games watched by the hockey obsessed men in my life:  10
Hours spent redecorating 13-year old daughter's room:  5
Hours spent looking for the perfect lampshades for 13-year old daughter's room:  6
Trips to hardware and craft stores for supplies for redecoration of 13-year old daughter's room:  7
Windows washed by me:  25
Fingers somehow injured during washing of 25 windows:  1
Hours spent icing finger injured during washing of 25 windows:  2
Pairs of shorts tried on by sons during a "quick" shopping trip:  19
Pairs of shorts tried on by daughter during said shopping trip:  5 (go figure!)
Pairs of shorts tried on by me during shopping trip:  0
Pies baked for cookout with friends:  2
Hours spent cleaning for cookout with friends:  4
Hours it took for the house to go back to normal after cookout with friends:  1
Articles of husband's clothing ironed:  15
Loads of laundry washed:  11
Loads of laundry folded and put away:  3
Baths for our puppy Casey due to mud season:  8
Times Casey ran away to the neighbors' houses:  6
Branch arbors built with husband:  1
Nails bent during construction of branch arbor with husband:  78
Colorful expletives used by husband during construction of branch arbor:  153
And finally, hours spent quilting:  0

BUT today my husband is back at work, the kids are back at school, Casey is napping, and it's raining outside.  At long last, time to quilt...

Wednesday, April 11, 2012


Yesterday I finally had my appointment with the long arm quilter who is going to be doing a couple of my lap quilts--one is the tessellating leaves quilt that was pictured on my last post; the other is this block-of-the-month quilt:

The quilt is done in Kansas Troubles' Garden Inspirations fabrics.  It's a project that I did with my mom a couple of years ago.  I was good about keeping up with the blocks and I managed to piece the top up to the tan inner border, but when faced with doing machine appliqué for the first time, I put the quilt aside and there it sat.  For two years.  But last week I finally sat down and faced the appliqué...

If you don't look too closely it actually came out pretty good.  And the bottom line is that the top is now finished and hopefully being quilted as we speak!!

During the drive home from the long arm quilters' house I started to get fired up to finish more of my unquilted quilts (4 being quilted, 7 to go); and I was thinking that I might try a bit of machine quilting of my own.  I knew just the quilt I wanted to start with...

It's a simple pattern but to give it something special I made it out of fine-wale corduroy.  Yes, corduroy.  I thought it was an inspired choice, but unfortunately the magazine I submitted it to didn't agree.  Sigh.  Anyway, in person this quilt looks velvety soft and I've been thinking that machine quilting in the ditch might get the job done without detracting from the impact of the fabric.

So when I arrived home yesterday I got busy.  I cut a back and batting for the quilt, taped them down to my table, and smoothed the runner over the top to begin pin-basting.  I was humming along, happy to be making progress and already thinking of other quilts that I might be able to machine quilt.  And then, horror of horrors, I noticed that one of the star centers looked a bit different.  "No," I thought, "that can't be."  But sure enough, it was.  The center was wrong side up and because it's corduroy you can't miss it.  To fix it I would have to take off the border and the sashing and the star points.  And just like that the bubble burst.

For a couple of minutes I actually thought about leaving the center and moving on with the quilting.  After all, I've heard the myth of Amish quilters intentionally adding a mistake to their quilts for the sake of humility.  But alas I'm not Amish and my quilts are already far from perfect, so I picked up the seam ripper and removed the center.

so sad...

Now I have to decide if I'm going to rip the quilt apart to repair the center or if I can try to fix it with some hand-stitching.  But first I've got to decide if I'm going to push on, fix the mistake, and try to regain my motivation; or if I'm going to admit defeat, pack the quilt away, and move on with another project.  Hmmm... seems like the perfect time to write a blog post!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Spring Cleaning

Well, my spring fever has passed and been replaced by a desire for spring cleaning.  Let me clarify:  I have a desire for a home that has been spring cleaned--not so much for the cleaning itself.  The brighter sunlight is great for the soul, but has the downside of making the smudges on the walls and the water spots on the windows much more apparent.  I didn't want to shock my system by starting my cleaning with painting or window washing, so I decided to warm up by taking the logical step of reupholstering my great-grandmother's chair.  I'm not sure what made me decide that it was finally time to take on this project--I haven't had purple in my home decor in 6 or 7 years and I've managed to walk by this chair that lives in our 2nd floor landing for years without feeling compelled to redo it.  But last week in a burst of productivity (or maybe it was procrastination disguised as productivity--that often happens to me), I not only bought the fabric, I actually re-covered the chair.  And finished!

Here are the before and after shots...

and after.

Fueled on by my success with the chair, I momentarily thought about reorganizing my junk drawers.  But walking through my sewing room on the way to the kitchen, I was side-tracked by a quilt top hanging on my quilt rack--I should never walk to the kitchen through my sewing room.  Anyway the quilt top is one I finished a l-o-n-g time ago.  It's a lap quilt with a tessellating leaf pattern that I love, but I just never got around to quilting.  I'm a hand quilter and the thought of spending 6 months plus quilting a big project just didn't appeal at the time.  There were just so many new projects to try and as much as I enjoy hand quilting, it's the piecing I really LOVE.  So the poor thing has been sitting, waiting, for years.

Tessellating Leaves pattern by Jackie Robinson

I really didn't feel like tackling the junk drawers, so I decided to pull out all of my unquilted quilt tops.  To my surprise there were 11.  11!!  Four of them were already basted and ready to go.  That's a lot of quilting.  And now it's confession time.  Despite all of the projects I've made, I've never sent out a quilt to be machine quilted.  Can you believe it!  Why, you ask?  Part of it may be procrastination and part of it is the hope that my husband will someday surprise me with a long arm quilting machine, but I think the biggest reason is a fear of giving up ownership of the process and risking the outcome.

But as I sat on the floor surrounded by my work, I realized that if I didn't get some help, these quilts were probably never going to be finished.  And since I was pretty sure my husband wasn't going to pony up the long arm quilting machine any time soon, I decided it was finally time to contact a long arm quilter. 

So now I've got appointments with two quilters to have 4 of my quilts done and to be honest, I can't wait!  I'm looking forward to finishing up some old projects and freeing up time to work on some new ones.  Don't get me wrong, I still want to hand quilt a lot of my work; I love how it looks and I love feeling connected to my quilting "foremothers" (if such a word exists); but I think it's time I entered the 21st century and I'm excited about the possibilities.

I still haven't gotten to the "cleaning" part of my spring cleaning yet, but I'm feeling pretty good about the items I've crossed off my to-do list.  It's amazing what you can accomplish when window washing is impending!