Crazy Quilting

Happy Friday!

In a civil suit, a party can introduce evidence of habit, pattern, practice, etc., to prove conformity – for instance, if the question is whether you did laundry at 2:00 p.m. on July 6, 2014, to prove that you did, you could introduce evidence that every single Sunday you do laundry at 2:00 p.m., so you must have done it on July 6, 2014 since it was a Sunday. If only I couid apply that level of commitment to my blogging – but the fact is, my blogging just isn’t that reliable. Just because I blogged almost every day for two months doesn’t mean that I’m going to blog at all for a month. Oh well. And, at least for me, it’s much easier to break a pattern and practice than to get it going again. A few days after the last post, I came down with a cough (that Joe shared with me, thanks husband!), that turned into a fever, and that was probably bronchitis – since it lasted for nearly 2 1/2 weeks. My blogging mojo was interrupted, and it was really hard to get it back – but I’m back, hopefully, and now, I’m just going to do a not so artfully crafted list of what I’ve been up to – just get it out there, and start again fresh on Monday. So, here was my June 10 through July 10 in a nutshell:

1. While sick, Joe and I watched all five seasons of Game of Thrones. Not a good idea when you’re feverish – I had the craziest dreams of people without faces, and winter and White Walkers and dragons. But we’ll be in for the next season, and I’m definitely on the Kit Harrington hair watch. If Jon Snow is really dead, poop on George R.R. Martin – that’s just cruel after all of that investment in one of the only heroes left in a show.

2. I saw An American in Paris in New York with my mom. I’m a huge fan of the movie, and was very skeptical of the stage show. No need – it was fantastic, and without the constrictions of post-WWII morality, the story was able to fill in plot holes that the movie just tipped toed around – for instance – SPOILERS – it made so much more sense that Lise was Jewish – her loyalty to the Baurrels so much more understandable, and her struggle to leave Henri was much more poignant. Also, by revealing Henri’s sexuality, it made Jerry stealing his fiancee a ok. While I did miss Gene Kelly, of course, and the actual streets of Paris, the ballet was so beautiful, and of course, the Gershwin music was insanely toe-tappable.

3. I got a horrendous hairdo, and then a good hairdo. Every day when Joe and I walk home from the train, we walk past this snazzy hair salon right across from the pizza joint where we order our Friday night pizza. After four years in our ‘hood, I finally decided to try it. I brought a photo of Charlize Theron with short hair, and a photo of my hair with blond highlights, and said, “I want that.” So, the stylist looked and said,”You don’t really want to cut your hair short, do you? Don’t you want to be able to pull it back in a pony tail, or put it up?” Uh, I guess. And, as to the highlights, she glanced at the photo and said, I can do that. So, she went to work with her foils, etc., and when she blew my hair straight, of course, I felt glamorous. It was then that Joe picked me up at the salon, and the look on his face was definitley WTF. You don’t like it? He raised his eyebrows, and was like, “you have tiger stripes.” Of course, after sitting for two hours, and having him pop my glamour balloon, I started to bawl – you’re wrong, I like it, blah blah blah. And then I got home, and really inspected it:

Oh my! He was right – it was really terrible. I had a headband of blond. The stripes were cray-cray. And, you can’t really tell in that photo, but the blond highlights were a brassy orange – really carrot top. So, I immediately made another appointment with a trusted colorist in town, and voila – fixed:

And, curly, I must say – it looks very French – my trial partner keeps calling me Babette. I do like it though – my head feels so much lighter, and it is defintely more youthful – and since I’ll be a 46 next week – closer to 50 than 40 – eek! that was important to me.

4.  Stitch Madness!

Quilting/Sewing: There is just not enough time in the day, nor enough air conditioning to do all I want to do.  My craftroom/sewing room is on the third floor of our house, a converted attic.  The electricity is not so modern.  I can’t run the sewing machine and the air conditioner at the same time, or I blow a circuit.  So, all of my dreams of catching up on abandoned quilts this summer has gone out the humid window.  But, I’ve begun plotting an English Paper Piecing project that I can do in the air in front of the t.v. – but more on that later, once it actually gets going.

But, one thing I have worked on in this stitchy category is my crazy quilting bug.  Remember my crazy quilting project?  Well, once I realized that the thread (orange) really made the quilt blocks look like something cut from a circus tent, I put it away, and waited for Kathy Shaw to run her Basic Crazy Quilting class  again.  Kathy runs her free classes several times a year – if you click on the link, you will find her registration dates.  I must say, this class is one of the most teacher involved online classes I’ve ever taken.  Class assignments are given, work is completed, photos of the completed assignment are posted on a private blog, Kathy comments on your work, and then emails you the next task.  If you don’t do your homework, you don’t get the next task.  The tasks are accompanied by very detailed handouts, photos, and templates.  The difference between this class and the Craftsy class is that not only is the pattern for the base block provided by Kathy, but the block is completely planned – there is a roadmap of seams, and templates, etc. and for me at least, this was such a better learning technique than the Craftsy class, which was much more general as to what to stitch where.  Here is a photo of my block, preseams –

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As you can see, it’s just basic quilting cotton, no crazy fabrics that needed stabilizing, and I started stitching last night, and all of the threads are very mellow. A much more subdued go round this time. We’ll see how it turns out – I still have a few more seams before I can submit my work and get the next task.

Embroidery: After I finished the Be Happy hoop that I posted about last month, I decided I really didn’t know what I was doing with regard to shading with thread, so as I mentioned in the last post, I signed up for an online class with Follow the White Bunny, Simply Shading.  So, the $60 fee is for both the workshop and the kit – the kit contains an iron transfer, 2 needles, silk fabric on which to stitch, thread samples, and a paper thread organizer.  So, let’s say the kit would probably run you $20 retail, so the workshop alone we’ll say was $40.  Why do I bring up price?  Because throughout the workshop, I kept saying, gosh, I really wish there were a video of that, or I wish there were more step by step photos rather than diagrams, more step outs I guess.  But the price was right for what she did . The class was four weeks.  Each week consisted of multiple handouts, with not only historical information, but technical instruction, and helpful tips.  There were also extra PDF patterns.  There was a class forum, with a weekly discussion (kind of, see below).  So, while I think the class would have been better with videos, that’s not to say I’m complaining – the handouts were thorough, Nicole was available for questions and advice, and she obviously put a lot of work into the written materials, and I learned a lot.  I think I just would have been willing to pay more to get more, I guess that’s what I’m saying.   And, if any of you reading this are thinking about hosting an online class, I just wouldn’t bother with a private bulletin board forum – beyond introductions, no one participated.  I think the best place to host an online class is honestly Facebook.  While I’m not a fan of posting my life on Facebook, in fact, since my father died, I don’t even think I’ve posted anything on my page – that’s the way he and I used to share photos – but the private groups I’m in, like the Crafty Gemini Quilt Club, there’s activity every day, and tons of sharing of photos – I think Facebook is just a daily stop for people, and it makes sharing easy.  One stop shopping, I guess.

So, that’s my two cents.  In any event, here’s what I managed to accomplish.  Here’s the first stitch exercise:

I got bored with this fairly quickly, and decided to practice with something a little more fun. So, I used an iron transfer from Something Sublime, and a quote I designed myself:

How fun is a Flamingo?

Nicole actually covers shading animals in the third week of the class, but I decided to go for it earlier.

And, I took a break from shading, and stitched up this fun sampler from the spring issue of Hoopla:

And next up, I’m going to tackle the actual class project:

But first I have to finish my crazy quilt homework!

Knitting. Last but not least – although wool is another summer resistant project. I started Wickerwork in my Miss Babs, but I haven’t photographed it. I abandoned Antarkis, I don’t know why – I was knitting it while I was sick, and I kept losing count, and I think I did some fudging I wasn’t really happy with. I don’t really remember – I’ll have to pull it out and see what needs to be done. And, as far as the Wollmeise, it’s fine, but I’m not stalking any overseas website to  get it.  Next up, is the new Fiddleknits MKAL that starts today – Water.  Once again, I’m going with Quince and Co. in this awesome color, Peacock:

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Yum, right?

And, I did take an online class finally with Susannah Conway, Blogging from the Heart. It was fine. It was just a bad time in my blogging history to take the class – I had already just done a blog overhaul. If I had taken it while my blog was languishing, I think it would have worked better for me. Also, Susannah’s blog is awesome but it’s not my writing style, and her prompts didn’t interest me that much. I might have a better blog if I followed more of her advice, but I’m not interested in writing “as I sit with my coffee cup and peer out my window . . .” kind of blog posts. And, the class needs some updating to a certain degree. Every Friday she posts an interview with a popular blogger, but some of the interviews contain links to defunct blogs, some of the bloggers aren’t actually blogging any more, and the class, in that respect, might need some new content. However, I must say that the beginning bloggers really got a lot out of the class – blogs got up and running, people found their voice, and I enjoyed the Facebook interaction watching their blogs grow. I think I’ve just been blogging too long, and my fault entirely – I just wasn’t that open to change. Had I opened myself up a little more, I may have incorporated more of what she was saying here. But, I’m glad I took it, I just kind of wish I had taken it when she originally started it. And, I do miss getting her daily emails – it was a lovely way to start my morning because I do like her very much.

So, that’s it, caught up! Onward!

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  Crazy Quilt Progress

I could be working on my giant Sophie’s – both of them.

I could cast on some of my Maryland Sheep & Wool yarn.

Or, I could even finish something I already have on needles.

And, if I did one of those things, one of those sensible things, I would either have or be on my way to having something that I will love, or at the very least, use, at the end.

But, nope, I’m not spending my time doing anything sensible like that. Instead, I’m having a grand old time hand stitching, and beading, and producing something that in the end, I have no idea what I’m going to do with.

Here’s my before, and almost after – I say almost, because I still have to attempt my silk ribbon embroidery.  I’ve saved that for last.
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Oh, and did I mention, I’m making a mess too!

Look how much is going on! I can’t even tell you how much fun I’m having.

I dove headfirst into my feather stitch, combined with a fern stitch to complete the curlyques, topped off with french knots, and detached lazy daisy leaves. I didn’t even bother to try it out on a sampler first – just plunged right into the block. No fear! Those vintage buttons are hiding a little hole – nice! I found those leaf charms in my stash – now they’re good for something, right? And, that big pin in the middle is probably not going to stay – it’s pretty bulky. But, you never know. I think this is going to be a wall hanging, when I combine it into a four patch, so the bulk really won’t matter anyway. I added some beads to my chain stitch (next time I’ll try to make my chain stitch a bit more even, and probably use a smaller bead, but sometimes you just have to go with what you have), and I still have a bunch of beads to go before I call it done.

Of course, had a practiced my stithes first, they’d be neater. But, as you can see from the photo of my craft table, I’m not all that concerned about neat, and it’s all a big experiment anyway. I just wanted to get right into it, not dilly around with a sampler. Did I just say dilly? Next thing you know, I’ll be saying dally, too, and my word aesthetic will be as off as my creative endeavors.

Once I finish up with the silk embroidery and more beads, I’ll move on to the second block.  Already, the project has totally diverged from my vision.  I originally separated my fancy fabrics by color to come up with a sophisticated palette – cool colors, mostly blues and the like.  I thought I would stitch in the same color palette, creating a more elegant look.  But, I just loved my colorful threads so much, they landed on my fabric canvas, and sophistication went right out the window.  But if the purpose is the process, and the process is about fun, then it’s all good.  Maybe next time I’ll worry about the finished product a little more.  Or not.  We’ll see.

I’m still trying to wrap my head around why I like this project so much.  When I took Rebecca Ringquist’s class on embroidery at Creativebug, I was intrigued with her embroidering on vintage fabric, and on top of already existing embroidery.  What I didn’t like, strangely enough, was the texture of her work, her incorporation of so many different kinds of thread, especially the thicker wools and sock yarn.  Crazy quilting on fancy fabric is similar to what she does, but not as modern, but also not as messy – that texture – the oversized stitches, the bunched up canvas, the stitching on top of stitching – to me translates as mess.  (ok, ok, disregard what I said about mess above – there are areas where messy does not appeal to me).   I do like the fact that I’m stitching, totally freeform, on a colorful, patchwork canvas.  I like that there’s no map, that when I insert my needle into the fabric I can choose to go right or left, bloom into a flower, or turn into a leaf.   While the sampler I’ve been working on is pretty, and has been great practice, I don’t think I like following a printed embroidery pattern.   Or at least, I like this free for all better.

So that’s all the crazy quilting for today.  Tomorrow, I’ll show you the before and after of our kitchen remodel, and give you a few tips about hiring a contractor (learn from my mistakes, padawan).

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If You Yarn Along Long Enough . . .

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. . . you end up with a finished project!!!

Sometimes they don’t turn out so good.

And sometimes they do.

This one definitely did!

I give you my finished Earth KAL Shawl designed by Fiddleknits Designs.

Ta da!  The project took four and a teensy bit of a fifth skein of Quince & Co’s Tern, which is a yummy wool/silk blend.

And, in a moment of daughterly love and goodness, and even though I had already gotten her a Mother’s Day gift because the shawl wasn’t quite finished it yet, I promised it to my mother.  And, she has already picked out her winter outfits with which it will look fab.

And I am a truly horrible person, because I am filled with a tinge of regret (small, really  small, I’m not that horrible) that I’m not keeping it for myself.  Sigh.  I tell myself that maybe I’ll make another one, but I’m pretty sure that’s not going to happen.

Oh well.  I’m sure I’ll visit with it, and when I see her wearing it, it will make me smile.

As far as what I’m reading goes, I’m spending my time studying up on Crazy Quilting, as I mentioned in the last post, and I’ve been reading this book:

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The book is a little hard to follow In digital format, as there’s a lot of flipping back and forth.  The finished hexagons are in the front of the book, with each stitch, bead, detail labeled and catalogued so that you can recreate the block.  The instructions for each stitch, though, are in the back of the book.  I’m a big fan of my Kindle/iPad Kindle reader, but this is one case I’d like a floppy paperback.  But, I’m working my way through it, following along with the diagrams and all and all, I think I’m learning a lot.

So that’s all for this week! Thanks for stopping by!

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