Saturday, May 23, 2009

Leavn' on a jet plane....

This will likely be my last post for a week or so, as I'm heading to LA for a conference tomorrow morning. The conference is the annual NAFSA conference for International Educators. I'm looking forward to my first national conference, and to re-connecting with the other people in the NAFSA academy with me.

It's been nice to have the N-boy home again, even if I did only get to see him for a few short days. Last night we had a nice dinner together and then he willingly came with me to JoAnn Fabrics!!! They were having a fairly decent sale for the holiday weekend, so I was able to pick up some Olfa rotary cutter blades that I needed as well as some more broadcloth for when I practice using my John Flynn Quilting frame. Simplicity patterns were also on sale so I chose a dress and a skirt pattern, and the N-boy picked out some fabric he liked for me to try making the dress with. We'll see how this goes.

Today we went to the huge yard sale at the Univeristy and found some nice clothes for super cheap, and some wood to use to build another cat stand. Then we may have accidently gone to see Star Trek. Again. Oh well. I also read the book The Lost Quilter by Jennifer Chiaverini. I liked the book; it was fun historical fiction. But I think I like some of her other books better; the more contemporary ones that are actually set at Elm Creek or people attending camp there.

I've packed two new books for the trip, and some quilt magazines that I got from the library today. I also threw in my hand sewing project that the Momcat and I started at the Jinny Beyer Studio last May, as well as my knitting. It's going to be a long flight from Chicago to LA, so I want to make sure I have plenty to do.

Hopefully I'll come back with lots of new ideas and thoughts, not too tired, and with some great progress on those two projects!!!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

AQS Saturday and the Challenge Quilt Project

AQS Saturday wrapped up fairly quietly. The Momcat and I checked out of the hotel and stopped by Hancock's of Paducah one final time (third time's the charm?) and again ended up having to talk each other down from the edge of the fabric abyss! Once that crisis had been averted with minimal damage to our pocketbooks, we headed back to the convention center to go through the rest of the show and the vendors! We finished up with one of the "All Star Review" sessions at 2:00. This session was probably the most disappointing part of the entire show. It was super super hot in the atrium where it was held, due primarily to the failure of the hotel to finish its renovations. It was also very crowded and not particularly well organized. I think we saw some interesting things, but this is one thing I think we'll skip next year. Especially as we had a 7 hour drive back yet, and hit rain in Chicago. But we arrived back at my apartment safely and spend Sunday sorting and organizing all of the goodies.

Here is the pile of all of our stuff! Friday (the kitten) is helping us sort it.

One of the coolest things that the Momcat and I did was to decide on a surprise challenge project! At one of the fabric stores where the fat quarters were $1.75 each, we picked up two sets of ten identical pieces of fabric. Our mission: to each make a quilt of approximately crib size, the top of which must be completed by Christmas. We were each allowed to purchase one additional piece of fabric and could seek outside consultation, but all work must be done on our own. Well the Momcat told me earlier this week that she'd gone and bought her other piece of fabric and was getting prepared to start her project! Well we couldn't have that!

So yesterday I went to Erica's to get my extra piece (and bought a few other things, too). Here's a sneak peak of what I'm working on. I can't show the whole thing until we both reveal our completed projects since the Momcat reads this blog (hi mom!).

This project is a challenge for me because I chose a pattern block to start with, but then had to figure out the size of the finished block and the math for that all by myself. (I know, life is tough. But this is a new skill for me). If all goes well I'm even thinking about adding a pieced border. I finished 10 blocks this weekend and got almost all of my fabric cut. I'm hoping to make lots of progress this week while the N-boy is out of town visiting friends. Now if I could just get the cats to cooperate a little bit more and not try to sit on my fabric/ironing board/cutting board or sewing chair things would be a bit faster. Ah, well, I can dream...

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Stack n Whack completed

I was planning on waiting to post this on Friday when Lit and Laundry hosts finished for Friday, but the Momcat keeps asking to see it! So just for you Momcat!

This is the finished top for the Stack'n'Whack quilt that the Momcat and I took the class from Bethany Reynolds at the AQS. I'm really very happy with how it turned out, as I was very nervous about the fabric selection. The main fabric is from Robert Kaufman's Simpatico line and is very different from what I usually choose. When I picked out this fabric I was very very angry due to the N-boy's health situation. I chose fabric that seemed angry and full of emotion to me. It's supposed to be an image of light reflacting from flowers, but everyone who looks at it sees something different like fire or lava or lightning or jellyfish (at least I saw jellyfish). The quilt isn't very big, but I think it will make a nice quilt for using on the couch while watching TV.

The thin orange line that's in the black border is actually cording. You can see it a little better here:

When I went to Erica's to get the cording and choose backing, I found it in a different color!! So of course I had to buy it even though I'm not supposed to be buying anything that isn't to finish up projects I've already started but I couldn't resist! Isn't it pretty!
I'm looking forward to making another stack'n'Whack with the new fabric, but I keep telling myslef I must finish some of the other projects first. I'm very excited to have finished at least the top of this project, and really think it has helped to give me my excitement and enthusiasm back. I've named the quilt, but I'm going to keep it a surprise until I finish the second one and can share both names together.

I'll finish up the AQS report tomorrow. Hope everyone out there in blogland is having a good week.

Monday, May 11, 2009

AQS Friday

Happy Monday everyone. It was a long day at work and I remember turning to a colleague this afternoon and saying, "I wish it was Friday already." Well since it's not Friday and won't be for a bit, we'll just think about AQS Friday instead.

Friday morning we had a class bright and early, so we got a great parking spot! Woohoo! The class was "Crown of Jewels" with Klaudeen Hansen. This is a paper piecing class. I'd taken a class on paper piecing before at the Jinny Beyer studio when I lived in DC, but the Momcat had never tried it before. I think paper piecing is one of those things that isn't necessarily difficult, but you do have to think about it. It's very easy to turn the piece you're working on the wrong way and cut off the wrong thing! It was fun to be able to show the Momcat a new technique.

After class we put our things back in the car (yay for having the car close by!!) and headed back in to see more of the vendors. You have to understand that there were just vendors EVERYWHERE!! We also finally took the time to look at all of the quilts on display. There were so many beautiful quilts! I really enjoyed looking at the larger wall quilts-especially those that are art quilts. They really did make me think about quilts and quilting in a new light, which was great for my whole inspirational/motivationa/mojo-ing experience.

On the way out of town that night we ended up back at Hancocks of Paducah's. We found some great pieces but this is probably not the best place to go when you're tired. It was pretty overwhelming and both Momcat and I were ready to get some rest. She pointed out that we should probably eat some dinner first, so we headed back in to Toucan for another meal. Can you tell we really liked it there? For dessert we split the yummiest key lime pie....It was a great way to end the day, and it was nice to have a bit of time to just sit and relax. I think Momcat was also quite happy to see me eating and almost enjoying the food as she'd been quite concerned since I'd lost some weight. So Momcat if you're reading this....thank you for feeding me!

Tomorrow I'll wrap up the AQS madness with Saturday's tale, which is good becuase if you're reading this I'd imagine you're tired of the AQS by now. Although how anyone could ever be tired of quilts, vendors, fabric and keylime pie is beyond me.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

AQS Thursday

Today is a beautiful day in northern Indiana. Which is nice because yesterday was windy, rainy and otherwise unpleasant, putting me in a very grouchy and whiny mood last night. But today I am feeling much more sunshiny.

So... AQS adventure continued: Thursday-the second full day.

Thursday we slept in a bit before heading into Paducah and making the first stop of the day at Hancocks of Paducah. To understand this store picture this: imagine a large warehouse divided into two sections. The front half has bolts upon bolts of fabric and notions and patterns and home decor fabric and more. Hundred of bolts just waiting to be loved. But then in the back is table after table piled high with stacks of one yard cuts. The stacks start out orderly but quickly grow chaotic as quilters converge on the tables and dig through the fabric that is being sold for $4.98 a yard!!!!!! Only upon walking into that back room of Hancocks of Paducah did I understand why we were warned that first day that first year attendees tend to go a bit overboard with the buying of fabric and other pretties. I don't even know how much we got. Eventually the Momcat started feeling too overwhelmed and I had to remove her from the building. There were lots of people and lots of fabric and it really all was a little too much.

Having escaped from the fabric store relatively intact (although our credit cards said otherwise!) We parked the car (safely on a side street this time) and walked down to the Quilt Museum. The museum had the Best of Show winners from the past 25 years on display, which were beautiful to see. It was so interesting to see how different some of the winners are. After spending some time there we walked down to a store that had a huuuge yellow sign reading "Fabric Sale." Warning bells started to go off in my head but they were unheeded. They had fat quarters for $1.75. And if you bought 12 you got the 13th free. Momcat and I ended up getting two sets of identical fat quarters for our first ever challenge quilt project. We both have to use these 11 fat quarters plus one other fabric of our own choosing to make a quilt top of at least wall hanging size. It must be pieced by Christmas. I'm really looking forward to working on my own and seeing what she comes up with!

We then took a break and went to lunch at a nice Mexican place downtown before going to Finkels. This is an old building filled with more AQS vendors. The front of the building had regular vendory type things but the back--oh my! They had a Hurt Book sale of books that had been purchased and then returned for $5 each if you bought six. And they had t-shirts and calendars and bags and more. Needless to say-we purchased some books.

We headed back to the car to drop off our goodies and pick up our supplies for the class that night: Stack-n-Whack Ribbon Weave with Bethany Reynolds. On the way in we stopped for our dinner of strawberry shortcake from the Boy Scouts! Yummy! This class was super nifty and it was fun to learn such a different technique. (I've just about finished piecing this top and hope to get pictures up this week!)
Me and Bethany Reynolds

After class we headed back to the hotel to get some rest before our 8:30 class the next morning. It was a good day, but a tiring day.

Tomorrow AQS Friday!

Friday, May 8, 2009

Finished for Friday

Lit and Laundry

I'm participating for the first time ever in Finished for Friday hosted by Lit and Laundry. This is the dishcloth that I finished last night while watching Firefly. It's the second one that I've made using this pattern (who am I kidding, using ANY pattern other than garter stitch). The first one is pictured in a post way below-it went to Baby Brother for his Easter basket. I think I'm going to keep this one!!!
I hope everyone is having a festive Friday and looking forward to a nice weekend!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Getting my mojo back, part 2 (The AQS!!!)

I think that the trip the Momcat and I took to Paducah for the AQS 25th anniversary show came at the absolute best time possible for me. In addition to the re-organizational changes she helped me make right before we left (which meant I had space for all of my goodies when we returned), I think it was just really good to get out of town for a while and have a change of scenery.

We drove down to KY on Tuesday night after I left work, because when I was planning this trip I somehow didn't notice that this was a SEVEN hour drive. Way to go me. We got in very late, but got in safely and didn't hit any of the Chicago traffic we were worried about. Wednesday morning we got up reasonably early and drove into Paducah (we were staying in Mayfield), parking at the city park where the Eleanor Burns Quilt in a Day exhibit was set up. There were two huge barns full of fabric and notions and patterns and lots of happy quilter people!They had just started the free show, so there was lots of happy noise and music too. Momcat and I wondered around for a little bit and just looked in awe at all of the pretty things and people there. While we were waiting for the (also) free shuttle bus to take us down to the convention center Momcat started talking some of the other quilters. We met a very nice pair of women who had been to the show for several years and filled us in on all of the very imporant details: Like don't forget to have the strawberry shortcake from the boy-scout vendors!

We arrived at the convention center and got all checked in with the registrarion desk. And then we went into the first and one of many vendor hall in the main area. Oh my goodness! I had looked at the list of vendors online, but I had no idea whatsoever that it would be so busy! We had time to wander around for an hour or so and saw so many festive things, but it was almost to the point of being overwhelming. I bought a few novelty fat quarters (continuing my odd obcession with halloween fabric and adding to the collection for the planned cat quilt) but didn't do too much damage. More on the vendors later, as we managed to go through this main hall several times.

After a lunch outside of BBQ sandwhiches we went to our first class on Machine Quilting with Sally Terry. Sally was a wonderful instructor and a very nice woman. In additino to learning about her five shapes of machine quilting and how to look at a quilting pattern and figure out how to do it, we got to try some hands on practice with the handiquilter HQ 16s in the room. I'd always wanted to try a longarm, so it was super exciting. The only bad thing is that we found out how much some of them cost. I'm proud to say that neither the Momcat nor I purchased a $7000 longarm machine.

Here's a picture of my some of the Momcat's quilting:

And here's a picture of us with Sally Terry (in the middle):

During the class we met two other women from the same town I live in, and one even works at my same company! How crazy is that??? Afterwards we headed towards downtown Paducah for some dinner before attending the AQS 25th Anniversary Show. We ended up running into the same two women again, and ate dinner with them at an excellent restaurant called Toucan, which had an excellent Greek salad. It was a beautiful evening, and it was nice to sit outside and get some fresh air. After dinner Momcat and I walked over the the Four Rivers Carson Center for the show, which was pretty cool. I think the best part was seeing the DVD they'd put together of the last 25 years, including the 25 previous best of show winner. The speaker was so-so, but very energizing. And I like seeing people get the awards for this year's show.

At the end of the first day we were exhausted. When we got on the bus to go back to the car, we got very concerned looks when we told the bus director people where our car was. Apparently both Momcat and I had missed the part where it said that the park closes at 8:00 at night and here it was almost 10!! Oops. I may have worried a bit, but Momcat remained calm. Luckily when the bus got to the park the gates were still open and the nice driver drove us right up to the car. And Fluffy (my car) was not the only one in the parking lot! Another group had done the same thing and got off the bus with us to collect their car.

We finally made it back to the hotel and collapsed into bed. But I think the most important thing is the energy and excitement I (and I think Momcat, too) felt after just this one way. We saw so many new things, and different techniques and met such nice people that we just felt inspired and wished we'd brought our machines with us to pull out in the hotel room!! Later we learned that many women did just that!

Tomorrow's episode: Stack n Whack, Quilt Museum, Hancock of Paducah's (round 1) and more vendors!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Getting my mojo back, part 1

My first dishcloth! For BabyBrother's Easter Basket.

2009 has been a very tough and unpleasant year so far, and it is really only within the last three weeks that things have started to look up. I don't think I'll go into the details today, but my husband's very serious health problems have literally torn my family apart. I am thankful for the support I've received from friends, familiy and support group. And very very happy that things are finally starting to improve for us all.

Due to the unpleasant-ness of the year, I hadn't really been working on any of my hobbies since January. When I was home (at my parent's house) over Christmas, my mom (Momcat) and I had a great time going to Archiver's and working on our scrapbooks. Momcat worked on pictures from a vacation that she and Daddo (I'll let you guess who that one is) took to Estes Park, CO and I worked on my wedding pictures. Nevermind that I've been married for almost three years, I was very happy to work on things. But then when I got back home after Christmas and everything fell apart I couldn't work on anything. N-boy got very sick and eventually moved out, so I didn't even want to look at anything that had pictures of us being happy. I didn't work on the baby quilt for the baby born last September, or any of my other projects. It was unfun, to say the least.

Then Momcat suggested I put all of my ongoing projects away and start a new project. So I did, knitting BabyBrother a dishcloth as part of his Easter basket. Gee, that was nice. So I started another dishcloth and began thinking about other things I could do.

Then Momcat came out to visit me for a few extra days before we headed down to Paducah for the AQS show and we rearranged and organized all of my crafting area. I'd inherited some fabric from my grandmother and had all kinds of projects and things stuffed into boxes and corners. Unfortunately, I didn't think to take any pictures of the "before" but here's what if looks like now in the after:

And with Momcat's help I made this from the pretty Michael Miller fabric. I've got one from each season to put up, and blue curtains to go behind them, as well.

So that was step one to being a more productive person. Tomorrow, the insipration of the AQS show.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Flamingos and bobbins??

I put flamingos up for my title image because flamingos just make me very happy. They were my absolute favorite animal as a child, and although I have loved them a bit less in recent years, they are definitely making a comeback in my life. I think we can blame my mother for thus, as she purchased the flamingo flowerpot for my office, with the logic that I needed something to keep my sheep flowerpot company. I think that sentence right there goes a long way to demonstrate how I end up with crazy things sometimes. And then we found that cute little flamingo yard set for my zen garden that also is in my office. I think next time I'm home I'll grab some more of my flamingo things (did I mention I had a whole bedroom and bathroom decorated in flamingo decor?) to bring back to work. Bright pink is exactly what northwestern Indiana needs, especially in winter (not that its winter now though, I suppose).

Although my first bit there was about flamingos, I think I more intend this to be about my crafting, with maybe a little about the rest of me too. First, I'd like to explain why I chose this as the title for my blog. The Christmas present that N and I got for my mom this year was a trip for her and me to the American Quilter Society 2009 Quilt Show and Contest in Paducah, KY at the end of April. We had a great time there (more on another day). A lot of the booths and vendors that we saw had those little wooden signs with cute little quilty sayings like "Sew many quilts." The one that I really liked was "May your bobbin always be full." It has this ring of optimism to it (which I'm really trying to embrace in a difficult semester), but it also feels a little bit snarky to me, as well. And as we all know there is almost NOTHING more annoying than running out of bobbin thread when you're halfway through a long seam, having failed to wind extra bobbins in the color that you need, meaning the only way to get more thread down there is to completely unthread the machine, wind the bobbin, take out the fabric, re-insert the bobbin, get the bobbin threat back to the top and then try to figure out where, exactly, you were supposed to be stitching. This is typically even more frustrating because you've also managed to sew for a good several inches (if not an entire seam) before realizing that you were not really sewing because you were out of bobbin thread. Perhaps you see my point about more optimism being something I need in my life.

The above cat is named Catcat. More on her and the other cat to follow.