Thursday, November 7, 2013

Really Random Thursday: Knitting, Friends, Swifts, and Hockey

SOoooo - it's been a long time since I had my blogging wits about me for a random Thursday but I'm happy to play Randomeer today!

1) I've been knitting socks like a madwoman over the summer and into the fall. Seriously.  There's been lots of knitting.  Two shawls as well.  And then a little project to deal with leftover sock yarn.

Pattern info clockwise from top left here, here, here, here and here.  Warning about the Honeycomb socks and the Skew socks - they are not really great for folks with high arches/insteps.  The reason that super-cool diagonal is not gracing my foot is because they don't fit my arch and I can't get them on.  Luckily, they fit a friend!

Why all the socks?  Well, the company that makes the only store-bought socks I really liked manufactured items in the factory that collapsed this spring in Bangladesh and then refused to sign any legally binding agreement that would help to make conditions better and safer the people who work there. Several petitions and activist emails later, they still haven't signed and I'm resigned to make my own socks until I can find an ethical mass-made version. 

2) Cindy - yes, THAT Cindy! :-)  sent me a great little bag for my sock-knitting shenanigans.  Look at the perfect fabric she chose... Look at the measuring tape drawstrings!! I heart her.

The socks in the bag are Tintern Abbey, but I'll say this about them, I haven't quite perfected the Sherman Toe/Heel and thankfully am past the heels though I had to reknit them many, many times... Lots of Grr-argh going on.  But it should be smooth sailing from here!

3) Sometimes in life, one's project-loving father retires after 46 years and begins to spend his days in the same house where one's mother has been spending her own relaxed retirement.  First - there's fancy party where one wears a dress and one does the "Snap the picture, already" fashion pose...

To keep him from knocking down walls, taking apart engines and calling out very early in the morning for people to get a move on and help out, or to stop one's mother from demanding he get a part time job because he's driving her crazy...., one comes up with a project and begs for a much needed yarn swift!!

Tada!! Totally collapsible, works like a charm, and no more using my feet and knees!
I use a bag clip to wind center-pull balls - works pretty slick and keeps the tail out of the way!

But no worries - there is no trouble on the M household front. My parents are still incredibly cute.  But now they can have date night any night of the week.  They're schmoopy like that.

4) And another reason for all the knitting is the most wonderful time of the year is upon us again - hockey season!! :-)  I knit while watching to keep from getting too yell-y/bouncy....

Surprisingly, I had never been to a live NHL game before.  I know that an exhibition game in town here doesn't exactly count but I got tickets for my birthday to the Jets/Bruins game here in Sept. It was awesome. The Bruins brought all their stars. We had great seats.  B's 5-0.
I'm on the home blue line - someone pinch me!!

5) And finally, it's really disappointing when the CBC can't spell in the Hockey Night in Canada app....

What's a transcation??

Linking up with the Randomeers at LiveAColorfulLife!  Thanks for hosting, Cindy!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Colour Challenge Pillow

First off - thank you to everyone who's stopped by during the Blogger's Quilt Festival, left comments, nominated my quilt, or voted for it!  It's very kind of you and I'm flattered beyond words. You've put me in some pretty amazing company. Thanks!  It took me 10 days to get around to see everyone's quilts so I do appreciate the time it takes to look, read and leave a message.. <3 p="">

The Saskatoon Modern Quilt Guild had a recent colour challenge. We had to make something using a colour scheme that had been discussed at our meeting in August.
In a move that surprised absolutely no one, I chose blue and orange.  Blue + Orange = Complimentary Colour Scheme!  After playing around with some scraps, I had some little boxes.

I played around a little more and framed them into boxes using a FQ of shot cotton I'd been hoarding.

Then I tried to counteract all that square corner-ness with some circle quilting.

Et voila! A cushion!  I tend to give away a lot of my challenge pieces since Mum and Seester usually call dibs.

Totally keeping this one.   It's my colours. :-)

I've got more to post - a month or more of not blogging equals lots of little things that need showing and telling... but it'll have to wait until next time! Have a great Tuesday!

Friday, October 25, 2013

Blogger's Quilt Festival: Flowers Over Falls

Hello!  If you're popping by from the Blogger's Quilt Festival, welcome!  If you're a regular visitor, you have seen this one before...

This year, I participated in my first online bee, called Simply Solids.  The rules were simple, too - only solids allowed!

My month was June I stretched my brain for a while and was struck by the idea of a waterfall. To give it some visual oomph, I also decided flowers should be headed over the falls as well.

I sent my bee mates two different blues, two orange squares, and a strip of stone, asking them to make an abstract improv block - free-style, 12.5"x16.5".  And did they deliver!!

I added an irregular sashing, and some borders - the layout of the quilt actually looks like this if you get close to it.

I wanted the water look to be unbroken so I made the binding shift in tone as it went around.

Then I quilted it in wavy, watery lines, broken a little in places by imaginary rocks behind the 'water.'  It's a little hard to believe just by looking at it but there are actually eleven different Kona solids and three different threads.  There is also the handiwork of eleven different people, other than myself, and I can't thank them enough for the beautiful blocks they made.

The back was built around one block I received that I absolutely loved (it's based on Fibonacci - how clever is that?) but it kept popping out when I tried in the front layout.  I did my best to emulate the design and make it macro on the back.

You can read more about this quilt and how it came to be in this post here. And if you are in Saskatoon this weekend, you can see it in person at SaskatoonQuilts!2013 out at Prairieland. :-)

Quilt: Flowers Over Falls
Size: approx. 66" x 80"
Finished: August 2013
Contributors:  Myself and the other awesome quilters of Aeneous Group - Simply Solids Modern Bee, plus one super lovely friend from UK

Thank you to Amy Ellis for hosting, all the sponsors who are so generous with their support, and all the other quilters are participating (and you for stopping by!)

Past Festival Entries:
Spring 2013 - Random Containment
Fall 2012 - Homespun
Spring 2012 - Myself as a Teacher

Monday, October 21, 2013

Finished Quilt: Inspired by Star Trek: The Doomed Lieutenant"

Broken record here. Haven't posted, yada yada. Busy, catching up, yada yada. Where does the time go, yada yada. And how do you (completely crazy - in a nice way) people who post once (or more) a day find the time? Yada yada.


We had a long-running challenge over at the Saskatoon Modern Quilt Guild for the summer.  The idea was to make a quilt "Inspired by" something that had meaning for us and to tell the story at the meeting at the end of September.

I racked my brain.  And then, after watching Star Trek (the new one but not the new, new one - Pine but no Cumberbatch) for the umpteenth time, it hit me:  I'm a nerd. And that's my inspiration.

Quilting and sci-fi have a little in common.

1) Those who aren't a fan, don't necessarily understand the draw.  We've all had a conversation with someone who doesn't get why we take perfectly good fabric and cut it apart only to sew it back together again. Or why we HAVE to HAVE the entire line of fabric from Designer X and hoard it until the end of time!  Sci-fi nerds often get odd looks when folks don't recognize a reference or understand the Twitterverse exploding over a new movie, graphic novel or tv show coming out.

2) A language used by 'insiders' - think fat quarters, tumblers, scant 1/4", HSTs, FMQ for quilting...  Lightsabers, phasers, Daleks for sci-fi. Or in the case of this quilt, Red Shirt.

red shirt: the throwaway character on a science fiction episode, (namely Star Trek), who will be dead by the end of the episode, identifiable by his red uniform

I present to you my latest quilt.  Inspired by Star Trek: The Doomed Lieutenant.

This quilt relies on the idea of the Red Shirt - a no-name officer who'll be toast before long so we don't lose a main character.  Poor Red Shirt, whatever his name is. Was.

It ended badly for him.

Colours for this quilt were chosen based on what I've observed from Star Trek over the years.  Tumblers represent officers, the navy background is the 'final frontier', and the teal thread sort of makes it sparkly but in a throwback, retro-space way.  I'm really happy with how the quilting turned out.

The back was put together using the leftover tumbler halves and yardage.  Approx. 71" wide.

As a bonus nerd Easter egg, there are 42 little uniformed officers on the front of this quilt. Yep, I'm a nerd... :-)  And a proud one.


Ok - Gotta go catch up. Again!  Trying to finish before the Blogger's Quilt Festival this weekend...!

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Finished: Flowers Over Falls - Simply Solids Bee Quilt

Yeah, I fell off the face of the earth again.  It's been a slice.  I'll spare you the details.

I have a few things I've been meaning to share and I'll get to them.  I truly want to catch up on all the things I've missed - and I have missed you all and your projects and your wit and your insights.  I have just been incredibly unplugged this summer, and I think that's a good thing. Back to teaching on Tuesday so I imagine my routines will start coming back slowly but surely. (And I owe more than a few emails....)

I HAVE managed to finish my Simply Solids Bee quilt.  June was my month and while one bee member dropped out, an awesome block friend from UK (Hi, Susan!) offered to make one for me.  SO cool!!
One must always have a tall person in the family - thanks, bro!

My concept for this quilt was the idea of flowers and twigs heading over a waterfall.  Each of my bee mates got two shades of blue, two squares of orange, a strip of tan (all Kona) and instructions to improv-piece an abstract block that measured 12.5 x 16.5". (See my post here for more details...)
And they did a beautiful job!!  I made the sashing strips and borders ( also improvised) from the scraps they sent back and spare yardage.
Then I sewed the top together - but in keeping with the improv/modern/abstract idea, I didn't use a traditional layout.  The layout actually looks like this:

All together, there are 7 blues (sky, aqua, baby blue, bahama blue, peacock, turquoise and teal), two oranges (mango and flame) and two neutrals (white and stone). There are only a few scraps of white. I tossed them in with the sky blue so that the sky blue looked blue and not white!

There was one block that I absolutely loved but try as I might, I couldn't make it work with the rest of the improv blocks.  It broke my heart until I figured I could showcase it on the back and actually build the back to echo that block.  The entire back is a reflection of that block and uses up all the leftover yardage.

It's quilted with watery lines in three shades of blue thread.

I matched the binding to the gradient I'd created with the blocks so that the quilt appears borderless.  And I'm really happy with how it turned out. To make it work, I used Flourishing Palms' french-style binding method with great success. (Thanks, Linda!)

This might be one of my favourite quilts of all time!  I'm chuffed to bits with how it turned out and I have my very talented bee mates to thank for it (though some of them wanted to kill me... Oops. :-).
Faux art-shot....  Does it look like water over rocks? hahahaha.
Flowers Over Falls is about 68x80" and contains the handiwork of the Aeneous Group of the Simply Solids Modern Bee and Susan of Canadian Abroad.

Thanks so much, you talented bunch, you!!  I'm glad I managed to get it finished for an upcoming show in October AND before my birthday today/yesterday (30th).

This is me at 35. And 35 feels lovely.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Oops!: Now with Finishes.

I had considered calling it Oops!: The Musical, but I couldn't get song rights. :-P

Seems like I forgot to check the internet for a month.  Oops.  Maybe it's a failure to really dig into the new routine or just a need to spend less time with my computer but I've definitely tried to prioritize other things this summer than blogging and blog-reading.  You do NOT want to know how many unread posts are in my Feedly....

I have been busy with the following:  meeting blog peeps in person!, sewing, knitting, teaching Nephew a bunch of stuff his mother doesn't approve of, hiding in dark basements away from sunlight, teaching English as an Additional Language, offering my shoulder, cooking while listening to loud music and kitchen-dancing, watching just about every CFL game (something has to fill the void between hockey seasons....), and reading actual, physical books.  Books, people! Remember those? I love real books, but man, I have a hard time sitting still long enough to get "gripped".

Anyhoo.  I'll ease back into the (ir)regular blogging routine with some finishes I meant to post ages ago.  A couple of months ago, I was giving a little presentation on QAYG at the Saskatoon MQG as part of our meeting.  I had done up a few slapdash sample pieces using scraps and 12" batting squares just to illustrate some things that I'd learned for the prez.  And then, of course, I'm left with these little thingies and no plan.  Blergh.  So I just started throwing them together.

I ended up with two mug rugs from my piles of scrap,
a mini table topper,
and a coffee table runner.
The white on white chunks are leftovers from my brother's Punisher quilt.  The muslin that backed most of these was from yardage, but that too was leftover from another project so I call it a win.  Even the binding was from the leftover basket.  The batting was scrap that had been cut into 12" squares just for practicing free-motion.

Is this my best quilting/sewing? Heck, no, but I used up some scraps , I learned some techniques, and if I spill something on them, I won't cry for days. So there you go.  Not every piece has to be show-worthy.  I think these are like the quilt version of sweat pants. I wouldn't show them off to fancy company, but to protect a table from Hot Wheels or the carpet from living room picnics, they're just fine. :-)

And now I have a month's worth of blogs to catch up on. Again.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Technical Tantrums and Other Fun Ways to Spend Your Week

The following section contains an explanation for my week+ absence based on a petty first-world problem.  Feel free to skip down to craftiness after the asterisks.

I am a little naive at times.  When my RSS reader (Reeder) told me that it would continue to work after the demise of Google Reader, I believed it. I didn't confirm that it would indeed work closer to the planned date.  Nope.  Imagine my surprise and dismay on July 2nd when it didn't. Blerg! Apparently, they're working on it but it wasn't going to be ready in time. ( I find it important to add here that I am not a total Luddite; I have embraced new technology faster than the average bear, but I'm rarely a first-adopter and I am cautious regarding change.  I still don't like the new Flickr....)

I went looking for a replacement, hopefully temporary, as I love Reeder - I had it all set up the way I like, I was happy with the interface, and it synced across all my devices.  I wasn't crazy about Bloglovin' but the Feedly app wouldn't let me login on my phone.

So then I spent a day and a half importing all my carefully curated feeds manually into Bloglovin'. I was then too tired and annoyed to read any of them for a few days.  And when I sat down to delve in, I hated it. I would even say I loathed it. It changed my settings randomly, wouldn't adapt to needs and ways of doing things, and it wouldn't import some of my feeds for seemingly arbitrary reasons.  I threw my hands up, closed the computer, and stewed.  I tried the mobile app.  Hated it, too.  Had that existential blogger moment where I questioned why I even bother to blog or read blogs, and in the grand scheme of things, what does it all mean???  I moped, offline, for a few more days.

Then, missing the interaction and inspiration (and my damn hockey news!), and blindly hoping that they'd already found a solution to Reeder, I returned to the desktop. Alas, no. But I spend another day manually importing my precious feeds, (and adding several more that I don't really have time for...)  into Feedly.  While it's not Reeder, it is more adaptable to what I'm looking for and how I use RSS.  I could breathe. It'll do.  Faced with an overwhelming total of posts in the 4-digits, I spend another afternoon going through each feed to clear out posts prior to when I'd checked out of the interwebs last week.  That brought it back to a manageable level. That's where I left it last.  Manageable.  Though I still worried about how to read on the go, which is how I do most of my non-comment/lurker reading.

Imagine my delight when the phone app for Reeder has been updated to work with Feedly. And all is right  moderately okay again in my blogging universe, though I still have some catching up to do. Phew.  Sometimes, technology is not worth the paper it's printed on....

******* (These are the asterisks I meant...)

During my impromptu blogging hiatus, I threw myself into sewing.

A July bee block for SimplySolids is done. It was very fun to do, though she'd warned us to be conservative with the fabric.  I didn't want to end up short so I made a little template for each row, save the last one, and used it to cut a triangle from each fabric ahead of time, and religiously trimmed each seam so that it would be easier to line up the pieces.  One pink triangle got a little cheeky but I didn't notice it until I'd already packed up the block for sending. I can see it in the photo but I'm hoping it's not a disappointment to my bee mate...

On my own bee quilt, I have almost all of the blocks (just two to come in) and I've started working on the sashing and border strips.  The sashing strips are 4.5x16.5" and are made from the scraps left over from the blocks. It's much farther along than this photo but I still have the top and bottom "border" strips to do. I've even made the binding!  I'm really enjoying this whole process.

I also finished up the charity quilt made by our guild but I'll save that for another post!

There were rumours this week of looking for a summer job but visiting family and a nasty chest cold that's left me worse than sotto voce (in fact, zero voce!) has quelled that idea.  I'm spending a lot of time watching movies, knitting socks, and glaring at people who ask me questions they know I am unable to vocalize an answer for and then make fun of my hoarseness. (That's right, Dad - I'm writing at you! Now, quit giggling.  It was funny when Seester was the voiceless one, sure, but you've gone too far... "What? What was that? Heeheehee."  Too far, sir.  :-P )

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Opportunity to Help: Slabs for Calgary

Hi all!

I'm headed south for the day - spending time with family.  Some of whom are moving to Calgary.

Speaking of Calgary....

If you live in Canada, you'll no doubt have seen the devastation in Alberta on the news. (Or in person - our prayers are with you!)

The Saskatoon Modern Quilt Guild is throwing their support behind Just One Slab - Quilts Recover - Southern Alberta. We're making slab blocks!

It's a fantastic way to use up some pesky scraps and do some good will sewing.

To learn more, (especially if you're in Saskatoon):  Check out our post on Saskatoon Modern Quilt Guild


Cheryl's Just One Slab post at Dining Room Empire.

Have a safe (and dry!!) Canada Day long weekend!

Every block - made with love!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Finished: Pod Bay Cabin Doors

Okay, so two months ago, our guild issued a "make it modern" challenge: Take a traditional block and put a modern spin on it.

Due date was this past Sunday.  As of Friday at midnight, I had bupkis. Blargh!!! (I almost sent a strongly worded email to the demon-seed whose cockamamie idea this was before I remembered it was me and Jaclyn. Oops!)  I had been tossed around the idea of a snail's trail, only curved, and no amount of sketching or logic could make that happen for me.  But I do love me a log cabin so Saturday morning, I started to play.

So I cut out some rounded squares using the Quick Curve ruler, and then went to town, log cabin style, demolishing some leftover charm squares.  I tried for a little while (okay, just twice) to do evenly measured, precise curves but ultimately just improv'd them using the ruler as a guide, not centring or measuring.  It was more fun that way.

And then I had pods.  Oooo-oooh!  What to do with those?  Join them together or isolate them?**

One lightning fast trip to the quilt shop for a yard of shot cotton later (seriously, I didn't even put on makeup...), and I was back to the machine, trimming out the blocks.

Hmmm. Nope, not done yet. Not modern enough.


Back, baste, echo, bind.  One finished wall-hanging. Finished in time for the challenge deadline.
About 24" square.  Or two feet. Heehee.

I love it when a not-a-plan comes together!  I had a "yeah, I'm awesome" moment before I scorched a piece of fabric and remembered I'm human. :-)  I'm really happy with how it turned out - totally surprised myself and may be permanently over my fear of curves.  Also, starch is the bomb.

So, if you get lost on your way to a project, change where it is you want to go. :-)

**The name of the piece occurred to me at this moment which also made me isolate them instead of joining. I heard my nerd voice say, "Open the pod bay doors, HAL." Of course, Dave... Hey, I've never claimed to be normal. :-)