Thursday, June 18, 2015

Wait for it...

While I am making progress in the studio, it's still mostly a shambles. My sewing machine cabinet was damaged in the move (easily the most expensive piece of furniture I own, nice choice to break, guys) and I am still waiting for the replacement part. Horn, the manufacturer, has to custom make the part and it's still a couple weeks away from delivery.

Long story short, the next step of the BOM is going to be delayed until next week. The numbers are simple, and I could probably knock it out without sewing a stitch, but I always want to test sew everything before I publish. So, please hang in there with me. I'm guessing that some of you may have some catch up sewing to do.

And, just because the posting dates have been just as crazy as predicted, the last two steps are still posted at $1 each. If you're not caught up on the steps now would be a good time, before I get my act together and change the prices properly. Go here to find the first step, which will take you to all the subsequent steps as well.

Thanks so much to those of you who have been so patient with me during this project. I'm very much looking forward to settling in and putting this quilt together. All of my steps, up to this point, are done, so it will take just a couple of days of quality sewing to complete the top! How are you coming along?

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

So, this is the Studio...

We are in our new house, at last. Well, sort of, anyway. We are still surrounded by thousands of boxes, most of which are actually half full of packing paper, because that's how it's done. The kitchen is nearly unpacked, still looking for a few thing, but mostly we're operational. I am writing this from my tablet, and I haven't quite figured out how add in the pictures. We are still looking for all the parts to set up my computer.

We have our first furniture arrangement in the livingroom, I'm certain we will be dancing the furniture around the room for some time to come. When the movers were delayed a day we high tailed it over to The Home Depot for paint to cover over the Hershey chocolate brown walls in the livingroom. Kent insists that the living room is the right place for the larger loom, so we're going to go with it. It's sort of our stand in for a grand piano.

My studio is next on the list. It too is painted a dark sort of brown. I am not a fan of brown. I get to use the family room as my creative space, once again. I know I'm going to love the fireplace come winter, and all of the gorgeous afternoon light will be wonderful.

In setting up the new house I am suffering from a tragic case of but first disease. For example, I'd love to move into the studio, but first we need to paint the walls, because we all know once those shelves are full they are never going to be moved again. I need to unpack the kitchen, but first I need to figure out where everything goes. Kent reminded me of how much I like organizing things, and just think about how much fun I'll have reorganizing thing as I learn how these rooms work!

The last photo is the cube wall, where all the Art Bin cubes will be stacked up. The color is Blushing Apricot from Home Depot (200A-3). I used this color in my office/loom room in the Saginaw house and we both loved how it just glowed. It's a cheerful color that brings warmth and light to a space. It's going to be terrific with white cabinets against it.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Orange you glad to see me?

Progress, we're making progress. We've made an offer on a house here, and had it accepted. We had an inspection yesterday, and found that there are issues. Sigh. The next step will be to go back to the owners to see if they will work with us on the problems.

I must say, though, walking through the house with the inspector, I kept thinking about our Saginaw house and imagining what would be said about our lovely antique. Yikes.

We're living in an Extended Stay hotel. It is not a Residence Inn. We have two rooms for less than sixty dollars a night. (Hey, we're working with engineers here, it's all about billable hours.) As I continually relocate stuff so I can cook (on two burners and a toaster oven that we finally broke down and bought two weeks ago), I keep reminding myself that this is a First World Problem, and that I am blessed that I will have somewhere else to go in just a few weeks.

Mostly I'm writing to let you know that Step Three will be delayed until next week, hopefully by Tuesday. I have worked through the block to make sure the numbers work. I still have diagrams to make and words to write.

The upside is that you'll have a bit more time to catch up on any missed steps before the cost goes up. Just click on the link to my Craftsy store in the side bar to get the pattern downloads.

Meanwhile, here is one of my favorite tips for saving time while piecing.

I am sure that I'm not the only one who has carried a neatly organized stack of units to the sewing machine, somehow twisting them when setting them down. Unfailingly I don't even notice the mistake until I've sewn all the repeats.

What I do to help avoid this (my engineer hubby says "idiot proof" is impossible, the best we can hope for is "idiot resistance"), is sort out my units onto a ruler. If it's tough to tell right from wrong side, I take a moment to make sure all of the pieces are right sides up.

I use assembly line sewing to keep my units organized. By not cutting the thread between the units I can carry the lot over to the ironing board and back without losing any pieces, and everything stays in order.

When it comes time to sew the cross seams, the connecting stitches act as my pins to help get those perfect intersections. I think you can see that there is hardly any thread, maybe one or two stitches between the pieces,

For many years, all of my adult life really, I have hated orange. I was scarred by an early burnt orange and brown quilt incident, a story for another day. Now I love it. It's so cheerful!

But brown, still not so much. And yet practically every house we've looked at in Green Bay is decorated in brown. The house we are buying is painted deep, dark browns, even black, inside. I wonder if there was an ordinance or something. The Green Bay Packers' colors are green and gold, so I suppose it could be worse. Still, the paint mixer at my local hardware store is about to become my new best friend.

Friday, April 3, 2015

My week as a statue

That my work week started on April Fools' Day should have been the first clue. I woke up a little muzzy headed, so I made a bee line for the coffee maker. We have a Keurig thingy, and I knew that I was down to my last precious two pods of coffee. I popped in the pod and pushed brew, hoping I could make it to the end of the cycle before doing something really stupid.

Nope. I forgot to put in a mug to catch the one thing between me and a day of mental missteps. That it took me a second or two to remember what a mug was and where to find one in just testament to my dire need of caffeine.

Finally, the remaining coffee was delivered to my cup. Knowing that I only had one pod left, I decided that I would pour the missed coffee from the tray into my mug. It was then that I knocked the coffee cup off of the counter and down my right leg.

Still lacking that first dose of mind clearing coffee, it took me another second or two to realized that the coffee was damned hot and I really wanted to be out of those pants. I was actually busy wondering how I might gather up the spilled coffee. As I dropped my drawers I wondered if I would break any teeth if I tried to lick coffee up off the counter. I decided against it.

After applying a cool, wet towel to my scalded leg, and finding a clean pair of pants, I managed to make, and consume the last pod of coffee without further bodily harm.

We've finally figured out that we can afford to buy a house in Green Bay without waiting for the house in Saginaw to sell. It will be a stretch, and we won't be having any fun until the other house is sold, but it will be better than living in limbo. So now house hunting has gone into high gear.

While out and about on Wednesday, the magnetic phone holder in my car dropped off the dash board. We live and die by GPS around Green Bay (we just can't get our bearings). And the one day that I spent running around town, where I would really rack up the steps, I realized that I'd lost my Fitbit.

After rummaging through the car, and ransacking our tiny little apartment for forty-five minutes, I realized that I had changed jeans twice after the coffee debacle. The Fitbit was tucked in the pocket the pair of jeans I changed out of after I changed out of the coffee incident. And then mourned all the missed steps that would never be counted. (Kent and I gave each other Fitbits for Christmas. He's down 26 pounds and I'm down 16. It's working for us when nothing else did.)

House hunting is not fun. Suddenly all of the houses we've been considering are being rapidly sold to someone else. We feel a little panicked. We're hoping for a similar rush in Saginaw, but, always being able to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, we are certain we are doomed to wait until the zombie apocalypse for the house to sell.

I'm hoping that April is done messing with me. I've given her more than her designated day to play her pranks on me. Since I'm still out of coffee pods, and there is a very busy road between me and the nearest coffee source, I'm not at all certain that I'm in the clear.

This week's motto:
Sometimes you're the pigeon and sometimes you're the statue.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Five shades of grape

We have been, and will be, living between for a while. I feel a little like a secret agent, I can't tell you where I am! I've been splitting my time between Green Bay and Saginaw, but the last thing I want to do is spell out that either place is empty and open for nefarious shopping.

I can tell you that I love Green Bay! They have five, FIVE, quilt shops. FIVE! Each one has a different style and inventory. Being the supportive shopper that I am, I managed to find something wonderful to bring home with me at each shop.

My first quilting mission in GB was to find better purples for my Fine Romance quilt. It seems that I always want the color that isn't on the shelf, the color between the colors there. For this quilt, I wanted a purple that was the color of grape jelly, a rich purple that is not quite magenta, but definitely not a bluey periwinkle. No surprise that it was such a challenge to find. But with all these quilt shops available, I finally managed to find my five shades of grape.

One of my favorite part of designing quilts is figuring out how to use my fabric the most efficiently I can. Being that I consider myself an appliquist first, a piecer second, leaving the largest scraps possible gives me more applique opportunities.

Since we need so little of our fabrics for the pieced blocks I first cut the square for the quarter-square triangles from the end opposite the selvage, which left just enough to cut the strip for our smaller squares.

(I have no idea why these pictures are coming up rotated. A painfully slow internet connection might have something to do with it.)

I just love it when strip cutting ends up with so little waste. The fabric is doubled over in this picture, giving me the four squares that I needed for my hourglass block.

Moving is such an emotional roller coaster. We are excited to start a new chapter, and having tons of fun looking for just the right place to enjoy life as empty nesters. Selling a house is a lot like going to prom without a date. We are helpless wallflowers as we wait for someone else to love the home we've loved for so many years.

My new favorite saying:
They say that God never gives you more than you can handle. God must think I'm a badass.


Monday, March 2, 2015

Fast Four-Patches

Some call it chain piecing, but I learned it as "assembly-line sewing" from my hero, Eleanor Burns, way back in the dark ages when rotary cutting was new. Quilters often believe that the big benefit from the process is to save on thread, but that is really just a nice side bonus.

I really do practice what I preach when it comes to staying organized. Just as the pattern indicates, I sort my pieces into zip top bags as I cut them.

I hate, hate, hate looking for things, and the more I fumble around looking for the right piece the more the chances improve that I will settle on the wrong one. Sorting the pieces so that I have only the shapes I need for the next step makes it harder to make a mistake.

(My hubby, a mechanical engineer who really does know how to do everything, suggests that "idiot proof" is impossible. The best we can hope for is "idiot resistance".)

Before I start, I set out the parts in the configuration in which they will be sewn. If it's hard to tell right from wrong side on a fabric, I take the time to flip them all right sides up in each of their stacks.

Now, all I have to pay attention to is the quality of my seam allowance. The top pair is sewn together, then the bottom pair, then the top pair and then the bottom pair, all the way to the bottom of the stacks.

My goal is always to have just a single stitch in the air between the pairs. When it comes time to sew the cross seam, the thread will act as my pin, holding the first seam in just the right place for that perfect intersection.

I'll be back in a couple of days with pressing strategies and more sneaky piecing tricks for sewing on the triangles.

In the mean time, I'm working on setting up a Pinterest board, and a linky thingie so we can share our progress. I hope you're working away out there, are you? Once we get these sashing strips out of the way, it's all fun and games.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Open House

The long-awaited other shoe has finally dropped. The job transfer has come through and we finally know where we're headed. There are still some details to work out, but it seems that Kent and I will be moving to Green Bay, Wisconsin sometime this spring.

The time has come to say goodbye to our treasured home. We have lived here nearly twenty years. This wonderful old house is practically a member of the family.

We're hosting an Open House on Sunday, March 1st, from 2 - 4 pm.

Click Here for more information, and a tour of the house.

When the realtor, my mom and I turned the corner into the driveway, all those years ago, it was love at first sight. We hardly got past the back hall and into the kitchen (which was orange and black, for heavens sake!) before I was convinced that this house was the perfect place to raise my four rowdy boys. More than that, though, I felt like the house was choosing us.

We've left our mark on this historic old home, to be sure, a lot of living has gone on here in the past two decades. This house has been filled with love and laughter, even when times were hard. We've celebrated birthdays and graduations. We even had a bride come down the wonderful old staircase, something this mother of boys never expected to see.

It's magic here, it really is. I wonder who the house will choose next.