Friday, July 24, 2009

Photo-less Friday

We closed a week early on our house. It's a bit much, very much more than I planned, but working out quite well overall. However, it means that the camera is packed... somewhere, and the house is full of boxes that were a bit last minute, because I thought I would have another week. When I get pictures (and an internet connection that isn't "borrowed" like the one I'm on now, not sure where it's from actually, but I'll take it) and rooms with more put away than boxes I'll post them. Right now we're focusing on actually living at our new house.

When we did our final walk-through Bob and I both noticed that the master bedroom was pink; a fact that had eluded us when the room was full of furniture. I don't have anything against pink necessarily, I actually quite like it, but it was a pretty bad, pink. And Bob was very interested in painting. So, we thought, yeah, we'll paint it and then move the last stuff.

Then I thought about the wonderful walk in closet attached to the bedroom. Like the pink walls, when there was stuff in the closet you didn't see much of the shelving, but with the shelving bare to the world you suddenly noticed that it looked none to straight or sturdy. I asked Bob what he thought about redoing that shelving at the same time as painting. Sort of a general overhaul of the master bedroom area in the house so that we would have a nice little retreat in our new home. Really make it feel like ours. He was all for it.

So, paint and new shelving were planned and scheduled and we would be in our new house within a week, by last night, now that I think about it.

Then, we were taping off the room and I stopped and asked Bob how he felt about the ceiling. It's that popcorn stuff that neither of us are real crazy about, and we want to eventually take it down throughout the house. But, at that point I was more concerned with the painting issue. It would, after all, be easier to paint the ceiling then try to tape that stuff off. (And I would want the whole ceiling painted, not just the parts along the edge where the roller happened to get all crazy up there, which apparently the people before us weren't always concerned with.) So when our painting friends came over we asked them about it. They said it would be easier to just take it down now and offered to help. (Aren't friends great!)

So that night we primed and painted; and Bob's brother filled the approximately 846 holes in the closet where previous owners seemed to just use a drill to to find the studs. To give you an idea the painting was done well before all of the holes were filled. Craziness.

Then the next night, they came back over and took down the bedroom ceiling (I always wanted to spend an anniversary watching the ceiling of my bedroom get all scraped up and nasty looking. Sounds fun, right?). Tonight Bob did the ceiling in the closet. In three days they come back to texture (I think that's the plan anyway), and in the meantime we're finding out about maybe installing a pocket door. I love the idea, but we're getting the impression (okay, lots of people say it's a pain) that it's a pretty big job. I do think it's the best use of the space though.

So, our simple coat of paint has turned into a relatively big remodeling job, and I have no pictures to show of it.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Giving In

So, I decided that instead of tormenting myself and still accomplishing nothing I would just give in and sew. Because of packing and moving the majority of my craft stuff is exceptionally organized. So, I primed my sewing pump with some napkins I'd been meaning to make for a while. It was nice to get something finished, and I think my edge stitching is getting better!

With the encouragement of a job well done, I set off into a more creative, less planned project. I pulled out the scraps from the pillow covers I made a few months ago and sewed them into a large rectangle. Then I used a light-weight woven interfacing to add the three rectangle scraps on top and I plan on buying a backing fabric soon so I can practice my quilting. Then I'll have something coordinating and a little bit artsy to hang in the living room of my new house. It was nice to just sew things together and see how it went. I wasn't worried about exact cutting or matching seams. It was wonderful to just sew big pieces of fabric together.

Then tonight I started a scrappy table runner with the scraps from this quilt top. And because the pieces are all rather small (1.5"-3.5") there are a lot of them. I love chain piecing this sort of stuff and watching the fabric bits fall off the back of the sewing machine and pile up on each other. I like the way they flutter like little flags when you swing them up to start snipping them apart. So, I have the first step of all the blocks done. It was a quiet and easy bit of sewing, but still let me feel like I was finishing something.

Who knows, at this rate I may have all sorts of wonderful things to put in our new home!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Lines of Death

I am going to this great knitting conference, I'm enthusiastic about the subject matter, I'm excited about the classes, I'm eager for the time to relax, but I am stressed out over not having any knit socks to wear while I'm there. The two pairs I've knit for myself are house socks and so way too thick to wear in shoes and all the rest have been given away. But have I knit any socks?



In fact I've started a pair for Bob. They were going to be a surprise for his birthday (another expected, predictable, and pretty clear deadline), but those aren't going to be done either. And then, I've swatched for Bobby's socks, but haven't actually started those. All of this knitting has fallen prey to these lines of death: otherwise known as "deadlines." But they are in fact lines of death when it comes to so many parts of my life and crafting in particular.

It seems that whenever I get going with something I'm all full-steam-ahead-no-holding-back-going-for-it. But, if I set myself a deadline, usually because it's a gift, then I suddenly get all bogged down about it. Bob thinks the deadline makes me feel like I have to do it.

I can see that. How many of us talk about loving to read, unless we're told to for school (one of the problems I see in education)? And I think our culture sometimes makes us resistant to the idea of having to do anything. Our first knee-jerk reaction, sometimes it's really small and barely noticeable, tends to be along the lines of, "make me." At least, mine tends to be.

I don't think that entirely accounts for my total lack of productivity this time though. It's not just the deadlines, but because I have many crafting loves. My passion waxes and wanes for each in its turn and so I sometimes find myself thinking and dreaming and planning for knitting projects as though I had never even owned a sewing machine much less crazy amounts of fabric. And other times I couldn't care less if I ever knit another thing in my life I'm so wrapped up in sewing and quilting ideas. (And I'd like to add painting and dyeing fabric and spinning to the mix.)

Usually it's not a big problem. I'm able to work on the kinds of projects I'd like to until my pendulum of interest swings the other way. And, it means that I'm almost always working on something. At Christmas it's great. The ridiculous number of people I try to make things for, combined with the huge deadline, means I can pretty much be guaranteed to get a good number of projects finished no matter which craft I'm being seduced by at the time.

But right now, it's not so good. I have a knitting deadline, yet I am totally jazzed about sewing. I have a quilt I'm planning and I'm really excited about it. I'm also thinking about several skirts I have the fabric for. I have a scrap quilt I want to draft out. In short, I'm just generally excited about sewing. Knitting is kind of not on my radar. It's something I know I should be doing, but I can't bring myself to accomplish anything.

It doesn't help that I know I should be packing as well.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

In the Sun (and inside)

We've had some beautiful weather for about the past week and while it's muggy enough to obscure the mountains it's still amazing to be outside. We've been taking Bobby along as well, because while he thinks he is very independent and is wanting to do more and more things on his own each day, he can't stay home without us. So we took him downtown on the 4th of July to see his very first parade. I don't think he quite understood why we were there, but he seemed to enjoy pointing with the flags.

He's also been expanding his diet and now will munch on muffins. But only on certain days that are undisclosed prior to their arrival, and even on those days only for certain minutes that are not necessarily consecutive. But, at least he's willing to put them in his mouth.

We also have taken him to the park a few times and he's started to really dig slides and swings. I neglected to bring the camera one day, so no swing pictures, but here's him with Bob on the slide. He always likes to try it out with dad first. Then later he's too impatient and wants to get going before Bob has time to get him settled and ends up more like this.

When we're not working on his sliding skills, we can usually be found indoors working on his patented "Bobby-Dinosaur" walk. Sometimes he even puts his hands out like claws, and rumor has it his aunt has taught him to put his hands behind his back and flap his elbows like wings as well.

And finally, he's considering a career in advertising and ran this one by us yesterday. We think he's on the right track.

It's amazing how much these little ones learn in a day and it's only a matter of time before he'll be talking our (and anyone else who's close) ears off with real sentences in a known language. Right now it's still mostly babbling. But we know he has a great sense of humor, as he often cracks himself up. We're excited for when we can be let in on the jokes.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Thursday, July 2, 2009

How Did I Quilt Thee? Let me Count the Ways

I just took an introduction to machine quilting class. The idea is that now I can get some quilt tops turned into actual quilts. I don't have a single bed-size quilt in my house because I have trouble saying, "I made it!" when I didn't do all of it. I would feel obligated to say, "I made the top, but so-an-so did the quilting." And then it wouldn't feel entirely like my quilt. So, instead I have held on to the (few) tops I've finished and have no quilts at all in my house. I've quilted a few things, like table runners and a small wall quilt, but nothing big and nothing too fancy.

A quick explanation may be necessary here: quilting is defined as the stitches that keep the top (the pretty part), the batting, and the back of a quilt together. So, with a few exceptions, the "quilting" I have done so far, is really "piecing" which is just sewing together the pieces of a quilt top. But, oh man, is that about to change!

The first class was about straight stitching with a walking foot. Pretty straight-forward (literally), and I'd done it before. The class was really informative though. I learned new words, why quilting is done a certain way, and some helpful advice on making the most of your walking foot. The next class was all about the free-motion foot. I was a little intimidated by it before the class, because the first time I used one it was a total mess.

In free motion quilting you control the speed of the needle and the speed of the fabric. So, if you gun the pedal the needle starts going up and down at light speed and if you don't move the fabric quick enough you end up with either microscopic stitches or a knot. Either way, not so good, and then you debate if it wouldn't just be better to use your seam ripper on your eyes instead of trying to pull out that mess. On the other hand if you're slow and cautious with the speed of the needle but exuberantly fast with the fabric you end up with really long stitches ready to catch on anything, pull out, and obscure the shapes you're making. Finding that balance was hard the first time. Maybe I just needed more time with my machine, because while it is far from perfect (or even ideal in some places) it went a lot better last night.

I was so excited that I didn't even use the second sandwich I had brought. I just started stitching right over other stuff I had done. I have to say; it was really freeing to not worry about whether it was perfect or not. But it does make the photos a bit more difficult.

First we practiced going back and forth. I ended up trying to do a tree bark kind of design. It kind of worked.

Then we went sideways. One of the cool parts of free motion quilting is that because you're controlling the direction of the fabric you can literally sew in any direction you want to. It does, though, take a while to get used to sewing sideways or at an angle. Afterwards, I looked around and realized we were supposed to be doing straight lines. Oops.

Then we did some loops. We started big and then went to smaller ones. Most of my big ones ended up covered by other stuff later.

Then we learned about traveling between our loops and shapes, and I tried out spirals.

She showed us how to add in little designs and I'm already planning on using this one on a quilt top I have finished for Bobby. Little stars and loops!

Then we did hearts. That's what they're supposed to be, though, they look more like a mix of strawberries and jalapenos to me.

She showed us leaves, which are cool, but I certainly need to practice more.

We learned flowers. I need to work on those, too.
Then, just like that three hours had passed and the class was over. It was super fun, and I am also really glad that I have an extra sandwich all ready to go the next time I get to practice! Then I am excited to get some quilting going and a whole quilt finished.