Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Trimming the crust off my toast . . .

The thing that I hate the most about HST is the trimming. It is super tedious, and I'm always afraid that I will trim one 1/4 inch too small by accident (in fact I think that's because I've done it before . . . )
Never the less, since my sewing machine front cover / plate wiggles and falls off at the slightest breeze, I have difficulty sewing and accurate 1/4 inch seam these days (especially since there is often a toddler on my lap trying to dismantle the machine while I sew). So, I must make these bigger and then trim them all down to size if I want a clean, relatively accurate looking quilt.

This is the "still to do" pile.
I was going to make myself trim the entire stack before I did anything else quilt-y. Then I reminded myself that this is my hobby, and that this quilt is for me, so I have no deadline for it. So I finished about 15 more and put the rest back in the ziploc bag for another day.

Instead I spent the day stitching my mermaid quilt together and I'm presently trying to back it from stash (and convince myself I really don't need to just order 3 more yards of this Innocent Crush print to back it). I'll show you it another day, as my quilt testers were busy all through the process of trying to piece the top, so it needs a good pressing before it is presentable.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Reminder to My Former Self . . .

. . . from Grade 9: I know taking Grade 11 Ancient Civilization in Grade 10 sounds like a lot of fun, but really Mr. Kowkenan is going to skip the middle ages entirely as well as all the fights. Also you'll meet this girl who will ruin your life for the next two and a half years while you think she's your really good friend. Take French instead. Trust me, you might need it some day.

. . . . . from yesterday: I know your new shoes are pretty killer and seem perfect for handing out resumes in. But when you get to all the schools downtown you're just going to want to park your car and walk between the schools. This will not be the best time to break in new shoes. Trust me, walking bare foot with blistered feet on hot pavement covered in who-knows-what in downtown Montreal is not fun. So bring comfortable shoes.

This is what happens when I try to do crafty things during the day . . .

So, there is this fun English Paper Piecing Hex-Along over at Lily's Quilts and I decided to try a few blocks - there are a lot of fun variations on the standard hexagon / star patterns. I'm not good at drawing straight lines, so I decided to just work with the templates she's found (they're listed in the QAL instructions) from the quilt that inspired the whole idea. 

Well, being lazy and, as I said, not very good at drawing straight lines, I decided to take the template sheets down to the local copy shop and have the guy there photocopy them onto card stock for me - thus alleviating the need to copy them onto index cards or cereal boxes. Inevitably when I do that I start with even sized diamonds / hexagons, and then they slowly get more and more warped until they will hardly join together.

So today I was taking a little break and cutting out my templates, when I had a little bit of company decide to do his own project with the hexagons:
 Because who wants to just watch Mom cut out hexagons when you can co-opt the scissors, cut out your own hexagons and make them into a monster (he did the big hexagons - one is ripped in half for the head - and I did the small ones and of course made the arms).
 Do you see the template labels on this side? Fun, no?

Aaron is at that age where he is brimming with ideas, but doesn't yet have the motor skills to make what he can see in his head. Its that glorious age of, "Mom, I want to draw a knight!" "Okay, draw a knight." "NO! I want YOU to draw the knight!"

So you draw the knight, and half way through the four and a half year old bursts into tears because the knight is not RIGHT. It is not precisely the knight he has pictured in his head . . . Sigh.

Apparently the hexagon monster was just right, however. So, now fun sewing to show you, but one contented little boy.

Friday, August 12, 2011

I really want to make this my new banner,.

but blogger keeps telling me that the Flikr url is not a valid address and telling me I need to add an image. Arg, arg, arg! I hate computers sometimes. Ah well, my computer is probably grumpy today because Emma pulled about 6 of the keys off with a spoon handle, so it probably just wants a rest (yes I did figure out how to put them back on).

In any case, anyone know what I'm doing wrong?

Stars and another flower (for Mel this time)

I would love to say that this catches me up on these blocks, but it doesn't. Here's my two blocks for MelSews. I thought I would take a break from the crazy yellow / orange borders on every single block for her and do a few with just simple grey. They make me itch - I want to trim them and add more colour, as I'm not a minimalist (have you noticed?). But I think they are neccesary to balance out the other blocks I sent.
I tried to make it look like there were leaves below the flower. Don't know how successful it is.
And here's my star too:
Next up are a shoofly and then some trickier ones that I've been avoiding: a girl, a gnome, a tree and a house. I don't know why I'm so intimidated by them. I guess there's just such cute-ness potential that I'd hate to make a mess of them instead of making something really great. I"ll have to take a few deep breaths and make the plunge before school starts!

Rail Fence Quilt - finished!

As I've talked about the process of making this quilt quite a lot, I'm going to mostly show you photos (of course mostly, you can't expect me to actually be quiet for a whole post, can you?)
This quilt makes me happy for a few reasons. First: its been sitting in pieces for almost two year nagging me, and I finally pulled it out and just finished it.
Second, I love the quilting I did on it. It pulls the quilt together beautifully (if I do say so myself) and its my first time free motion quilting where the back didn't get all messy.
Third, I love that I had the backing in my stash and its one of my favorite prints and I got to use it large scale.
Fourth, I had forgotten what I made this tiny-ish quilt for, and then once I was finished I remembered it was supposed to be for the stroller. Although I also like to use it to keep my legs warm when I'm sitting on the back patio.
And I love all these prints. Each of them seperately makes me happy. Together they sing me a happy song every time I see this quilt. How much better can it get than that?
Well, lastly, I love this quilt and I actually get to keep it. I mean, don't get me wrong, friends, I love all the quilts I've made for you guys. But I never get to see them or touch them or think, "Damn, I'm good" (though you all know I do just that every time I visit someone with one of my quilts). I'm just happy to have made a quilt for me!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Spicing Up the Kitchen Swap - Received!

Sometimes, in swaps, you just get super lucky and your partner is amazing. In the Spicing Up the Kitchen swap, there were a lot of really fantastic crafters. As I watched things being made, I kept thinking, "Ooh, maybe that one's for me. Its really great.", only to see them sent to other people. I am used to this, as it usually happens in swaps. This time the swap happened in the middle of the postal strike, so by the time my package arrived, most of the packages had already found a home. As I looked through the swap packages that I knew had not yet found their way to their home, I remember thinking, "Those really awesome oven mitts that would match my kitchen perfectly still haven't landed anywhere. Wouldn't it be awesome if they were for me?"

Guess what I got in the mail when I got home from camp?
This lovely, lovely swap package! Hedigoneaussie made me not only a pair of beautiful patchwork oven mitts, but a cute apron out of one of my favorite fabrics ( I have the teacup print in white and I use tiny bit of it all the time because I love it so much) and a hot pad that contained one of my current favorite blocks - this x and + block. (Speaking of which, you should check out Heidi's photostream to see lots more of these blocks - she is making a really amazing quilt out of them). I was totally wowed by this package.

Here is the other side of the oven mitts and the hot pad. Emma was convinced for a few days that the hot pad was for her, and used it for everything from a doll quilt to a placemat. I had to put it out of sight for a good week before she forgot about it.

I made a slight modification to the oven mitts by adding some ric rac loops to them so they could adorn a little slice of blank wall (some of you may remember it from this post ) close to my oven.
And this is how I use the hot pad to brighten my day first thing in the morning (when a certain toddler hasn't confiscated it):

Isn't it lovely? Sometime the kindness of crafty strangers just bowls me over!

Sunday, August 07, 2011


Are you still there? Still waiting to find out what Jill is doing aside from her much-neglected blog?

Well, mainly I've been tidying and cleaning and straightening and visiting and getting the last hurrah of playing with the kids before summer is over and I have to start convincing principals that they need and English/ Drama / Ethics teacher JUST LIKE ME for that one empty position open at their school (schools open Aug 15, so I only have this next week, really).

Part of the way we've been keeping ourselves afloat this year is by having tenants. Yes, indeed, we are landlords. We have an upper duplex, and a basement suite as well. It just so happens that this month, all our tenants left. Which is okay, because now we can pick tenants that are hopefully more in line with our manner of living (ie - that don't come home at 9pm and listen to music / watch movies in foreign languages until 2am or bring all their buddies home after a rowdy night of clubbing at 4am so they can all swear at each other loudly while I'm trying to sleep). But a lot of work, because none of our tenants left their places very tidy, and they both left stuff, and both places need a fresh coat of paint. Also, the downstairs needs some insulation so that I don't hear our next tenant's music / movies / conversations and MOST IMPORTANTLY, they don't hear my small herd of elephants thumping around the house at 7am.

So, late night painting and cleaning have been in order, thus cutting into my precious and limited blogging time (not to mention the sleeveless tunic that needs one more seam sewn before I can wear it during the heat wave . . . ). And there have also been random people showing up at somewhat random times to look at the suites, often with interesting and slightly improbably stories to tell . . .

But all that is over. We have found two tenants who seem to be good fits (Hooray!). I only have to clean the upstairs kitchen and my list of tasks is done, as the new lady who will be living upstairs wants to do her own painting (double Hooray!). Dave, of course, still has a ceiling / floor to insulate, but he has recruited a friend to do a work exchange, so by the end of the week all the serious and intense landlord-ing should be done for a while. Whew!