Saturday, January 29, 2011

Happy Doll Quilt Sewing

Okay, so I've finallized my Doll Quilt Swap idea. Part of this is inspired by my original kitty idea, which wasn't working, and part of it is inspired by the toast quilt plan. This is my sketch:

The rows at the top will be wonky, free pieced cups that will look like this (this one is for my toast and tea quilt -- more on that later)

Here's the bright, colourful fabrics I'm using:

And here's the start -- I now have more blocks stitched. The smaller blocks are really small -- the finish off at 3". This is my first time in a long time actually sewing triangles on the bias, instead of sewing squares together and then cutting them apart. I forgot that my sewing machine likes to eat triangle points, so I'm stitching these one at a time instead of chain peicing them. I really wanted to have complete control over what went where because this is such a small quilt, so I think its worth it.

These are so bright at cheery in real life, and Montreal is really grey and gloomy and snowy these days (it being January in the Northern Hemisphere), so they make me happy every time I look at them. I hope they make my partner just as happy when its done. 

And on a completely different note, you know you're deperate for milk in your tea when you use the last tiny bit of milk left in your son's Cheerio bowl . . .

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Mel's wonky log cabin house

Tea anyone?
Free peicing is so fun. Every time I learn a new block (admittedly, only two so far), my mind starts whirring with the possibilites for more and more and more blocks and potential quilts I could make with these blocks. So glad to be doing this.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Settling into January

So, we're having a bit of a shake-up in routine around our house again. Dave started back to school two weeks ago, and the two younger kids started day care last week. This Wed, Andrew starts to stay after school one day a week until we can go pick him up. All this so that I can work every day possible and not reject jobs because I won't be able to get back and pick someone up or because Dave has stuff to do later in the week. So now I can potentially work every day.

I'm not working every day.

But I COULD, if I happened to get called or find some subbing in the system every day.

It also leaves me free to spend a lot of time applying to jobs, sewing, keeping the house very tidy, and wonder what I'm going to do if I don't find work teaching. The thing is, I could probably get some non-teaching job, but then I would limit my teaching options, and the pay wouldn't be nearly as good. So I just have to keep accepting whatever jobs I can find (I have decided to draw the line at Primary French Immersion -- I am NOT a primary teacher, let me tell you. All the ice packs and crocadile tears and tattling drives me crazy) and leave cards everywhere in hopes that more teachers will put me on their call list.

Thus the exponential rise in sewing or late.

In any case, its been hard, my friends to send my little ones off to daycare. The lady they are with is very nice and I can tell she is good with kids. But there is nothing worse than holding down your struggling, screaming three year old as he yells "I don't want to go. Stay home with me. Please, mom!", and strapping him in the car and then getting to the lady's house and he finally calms down and then your baby starts crying when you hand her over. Then you go to work at a different, strange school every day only to be abused by class after class of 13 year olds who think the funniest thing they could possibly do is make a substitute teacher cry. Then you drive home and wonder what this is all for . . . Sigh.

There are signs of light at the end of the tunnel. Aaron thought he was done after the first week (after all, he'd now been to daycare) and was dismayed that he had to go back for another week. Hopefully this third week will be better for him. He seemed to be back to his old self on Thursday night and Friday (ie - making messes, pestering his brother, spreading paper clips all over the house, drawing on the sewing machine cover, etc, etc), so I think he must be starting to feel more comfortable. Cutest of all was on this Friday morning when I woke Emma up and got her dressed and started walking towards the door to get her winter clothes and she ran to the door calling, "Aaron! Aaron!" because she know that now is the time for her and Aaron to go together. She still cries a bit when I leave her, but obviously she is now getting into the routine, which is good.

I really hope that when I get a permanent job it is close by. There are all kinds of private schools in the neighbourhood next to mine, and a few in my neighbourhood. There is a school board with highschools close by that I'm not in with, and the school board I am subbing for is on the West Island, with schools anywhere from 15 min away to 45 min away, but then with traffic some of them can be more like an hour or more to get to. It seems to inhumane for my kids otherwise, to be in daycare from 7:30 until 4:30 or even 5:30. That is over 8 hours away from us. On days when I'm away late like that, I basically wake them up, get them dressed and fed and send them to daycare. Then I pick them up, get them fed and changed into pj's a put them to bed. Its ridiculous. So hopefully I'll get something a little closer so I can drop them off more like 8 or 8:30 and pick them up closer to 4, and be here to meet Andrew after the bus so he doesn't end up in after school care.

The good thing about Dave's schedule right now is that its pretty flexible, and he's not too deep into things yet. We're hoping that he'll be able to find some funding before he gets to the super intense part of his PhD, like the thesis writing part, so I can be home more and take care of everything else and he can focus on his studies.

So we had a rough couple of weeks with more illnesses (me and Emma and Aaron all with bad colds) and all the newness of our change in routines. But I think we're through the worst of it. We'll see when Wed. comes and everyone goes their seperate ways, won't we?

More Free Peicing

Well, I did attempt number two on Melissa's block, and it was much more successful. Check out this cute little chickadee - type bird, frolicing amidst the flowers and butterflies! She's a little busy, but I like her.
The second block we are doing is a log cabin house. I decided to do this one in green / blue / pink. My plan is to use purple / blue / pink  or green / blue / pink for all the blocks and then mash them together at the end. I love both colour combos, and I think they relate, but I'm not sure the green and purple can co-exist in the same block -- it makes me squint when I put them next to each other.

So here is my house. The cat looks so surprised, obviously, because there is a giant blue bird outside of his house.
And here's the two blocks for my quilt plus the one for Mel Sews and the rest of my random design wall. Do you see Darth Vader?
That was my thank you gift I guilted Andrew into giving me after I spent three hours putting legos together for him. My blocks are also being watched over by the Castle Peeps, who I beleive I mentioned may be in my Doll Quilt.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Toast, anyone?

So, here's the first four blocks of my toast and tea quilt. I decided to go scrappy in my light fabrics rather than doing all white. I know that all white or cream is what all the cool kids are doing right now, but I've never really been very good at being one of the cool kids. I didn't quite have enough white or cream to stick with one solid colour, and I really wanted to get this quilt going, so I decided to just add some other neutrals rather than maybe run out of one fabric and have to order more.

I don't know wether I"m going to keep these blocks together to let their secondary patterns "sing" or if I'm going to seperate them with wonky teacups. We shall see once I've got more blocks done.

Sewing machine cover

I finished peicing my sewing machine cover. This has ended up being a little bit of a crazy scrap adventure, and I'm going to have to quilt it carefully to add some structure and clarity to the improvised design. But I think it will look pretty cool when I'm finished. My castle peeps in the maze didn't work on this small scale, so instead I started with the Owl and the Pussycat out to sea at night with stars. Well, I was thinking I would have a lot of negative space and have the girls and mermaids swimming below them in the ocean, but that just wasn't working. So instead I just started sewing things together improvisationally and pulling scraps out of my bin.
Its pretty crazy. I'm regretting the cream butterfly, as it takes away from the "pop" of the three stars, but you never learn if you don't experiment, right?

The top is a row of leftover strip scraps from Olivia's quilt:
And I really do love this side -- I think its much more successful. I can always put this side on the front if the other side really irritates me once I'm done. Now I just need to quilt it, add ties on the side and bind it up.

DQS10 Ideas

So, I'm trying to think of something really fun for my partner. I must say that both the ideas I have so far are sort of more "brainstorming" than anything -- they are probably both really too complicated to accomplish in 24" square. But still, its fun to dream. This first one is based on fussy cutting Castle Peeps fabric. I tried to make a maze with them for my sewing machine cover, but it didn't work. I thought it might be fun to make a multi-level castle, including a portrait gallery, a peasant in a field and a swirly magic block:
So it would be a rather kooky mix of patchwork and applique. I'm not sure it would really work or not.

My other idea would mostly require applique and thread painting. It is titled "When the Quilter's Away . . ." and obviously speaks to the messes cats love to make of fabrics, quilts and threads. The two "quilts" would be done by appliqueing tiny pieces of fabric onto fusible web and sewing around them, and then the cats would be appliqued and thread painted on top. I would do some peiced blocks on the top and bottom just so there's a bit of traditional patchwork in the mix.
Right now I'm leaning towards doing the cats idea, but maybe just focusing on the cats on the quilt and the cats on the chair / quilt stack. That would simplify the design a little without losing the humour or whimsy of the peice. I think I would also pick one or two blocks to use in the border on the top and bottom for the sake of simplicity.

My third idea is to do a spiderweb quilt, which I want to try too. I'm considering adding some spiders to it, but we'll see.

Anyway, I'm going to think on it for a few days before I start experimenting to see if I actually have the technical skills to do any of these things. Wish me luck!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Dear DQS 10 Partner . . .

DQS10 Mosaic
Originally uploaded by davenjilly
Hello! Nice to meet you! I'm so glad that you are making a quilt for me. As you can see from my inspiration mosaic, I really like bright, colourful, whimsical quilts. If you click through to the mosaic, I left some notes on Flikr about why I love these quilts.

Please take these as a jumping off point. Take anything you like from the mosaic, mix it up with your own muse, stir in some of your favorite techniques and fabrics and I'm sure I'll love whatever you make!

To answer a few of the anxiety questions that often get posted on the DQS site, I like washed, crinkly quilts, but if there is some reason that your quilt would be better smooth and unwashed and ready to hang on the wall, I would be okay with that, too. I love both wonky and precise piecing, so I'm not too worried if everything is not impeccable. I have highlighted some of the colours I love the best, but there are no colours or mixes of colour that I hate, so use what works best with the project. As long as it is made with care and love and fun, I will love it.

Please have fun, be creative and enjoy the process of making a little quilt for me. Thanks in advance for your thought, care and work.


Friday, January 14, 2011

So excited to be in . . .

Woo hoo! I haven't done any swaps in a long time because life has been so busy. Life is slowing down a little, so I have time for just ONE swap. Repeat that again, Jill. JUST ONE. (The abseloutely amazing {Urban} Home Goods swap is also open for round 3 and I'm really tempted to play). So if I'm going to be in one, I'm glad to be in such an awesome swap. Can't wait to get my partner and get to work!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Made in 2010

Made in 2010
Originally uploaded by davenjilly
This is not a huge, huge mosaic like some you might see on Flikr, or like some of my past years. But look closely -- there are 5 baby quilts and one twin sized quilt in the bunch, and it doesn't include the two picnic quilts I put together too. And I made a few more baby items, I do beleive (have I ever showed you guys Emma's adorable dress?)

Not bad for a year that contained a new baby and a cross country move, if I do say so myself.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Fun with Sarah and Molly

Sarah, otherwise known as krommama, has started this super fun little quilt-along. She is showing us how to make liberated quilt blocks -- one or two a month between now and October. Some of us have partners where you make a block for yourself and one for your partner, while others are just playing along when they feel like it. Our first block was the mondo bird. This is my little bluebird of happiness, who I am quite pleased with:
Unforunately, Emma has been super fussy lately (except for right now, when she's sitting under the table foraging for food and refusing to eat anything I give her that is actually edible and not old and dirty) because she's getting many teeth and has a cold at the same time. This effected my sanity when I was picking out the fabrics for my second block, and also she kept knocking the loose bits of my sewing machine off, which resulted in much aggrivation and lack of concentration. So this is the block my partner will not be getting:
I think I shall make a grey bird and a yellow one and ditch the background fabric altogether. Ah well, I am always telling Andrew that we learn by making mistakes and then trying again. And its not like I don't have any more fabric to play with . . .

If you're interested in joining in or following along, you can find the group here.

And no, there are not supposed to be loose bits to knock off your sewing machine. My sewing machine has been a bit . .. altered by three children.

Friday, January 07, 2011

I Did Make a Few Christmas Gifts . .

None of the main gifts were made by me, since I'm not so good at creating the plastic molds used for creating legos. Although I did BUILD enough Lego on Christmas day that I should now be considered a Jedi Master of Star Wars Lego construction. Seriously, if only I could use the Force to put all those tiny pieces together . . .

On a complete tangent from the gifts I made, I was super proud of Andrew because he actually put together Plo Kloon's starfighter almost all by himself. He did get frustrated at one point, but that was because he had made a small mistake (that I also made when I went back to rebuild it for him) about fifteen steps before he got frustrated. So I unbuilt the ship, and rebuilt it (twice) up to the point where he had made the error, then handed it back to him. He did almost all the rest himself. That was some pretty intense building for a 6 yr old.

 Okay, right, so what was I talking about? Yes,what I made for Christmas presents. Well, mostly I made these for the boys,  plus one I have no photo of for my neice:
 These are the Child's Colouring Wallet pattern that I bought at JCasa on Etsy. It is pretty easy to follow -- I made three simultaneously in about an hour and a half, so I'm guessing that you could make one in about 30 min, maybe less if you had made some previously. One of the most fun things about this pattern is matching the fabrics for the outside and the inside.

The brown dinosoars / dots one is Aaron's, while the space on is Andrew's. Kaylee's was an irridecent orange Tina Givens print with crazy birds, plus hot pink polka dots and this cute alice in wonderland print on the inside (in other words, colours only a 4 yr old girl could love).

I also made the two year old cousin a sweet little playmat and pouch, but the photo of it is on the dearly departed Lappy. If you really want to see it, its on my Flikr stream. I just can't seem to figure out how to pull it over here from there right now when I'm typing with a sick baby on my back. We added about half of the boys' car collection, because they never use their cars anymore. The other half we'll keep for little car-obsessed guests.

Thursday, January 06, 2011


So, we have made many purchases on EBay, and Dave has never had a problem with any of them. Until now. You know what is so predictable about this? Lets look at this list:

We have bought, without a hitch:

Shoes, for Dave
North Face Vest, for Dave
Winter Boots, for Dave
Laptop, for Dave
Motorcycle, for Dave
Car, for the family

We just got a bad seller who we paid for an item he did not ship (and incidentally also "sold" to two other people):

A Sewing Machine, for Jill.

Guess who was super excited about her Christmas present when she accidentally read the shipping notice in her email about it?

Guess who is pretty bummed out that her Christmas present never arrived, and that we will probably end up spending the money on a new laptop to replace the Lappy now?

Sigh. Some days I just feel like Charlie Brown.

Monday, January 03, 2011

Happy New Years!

Hello, friends! Sorry to have been away from this space for so long. The Lappy has been slowly deteriorating over the last few weeks, making it difficult to post anything (photo card wouldn't stay in the slot, Lappy was crashing and melting down all the time), and then finally the inevitable happened -- Lappy just stopped booting up anymore. I'm not really surprised. That computer had a hard, busy life of being stepped on and dropped off of things and having every piece banged around and prodded and bent . . . its not easy to be the computer that shares a house with my boys and their absent minded mom. So, new year, new computer. The one I"m typing on now is actually Dave's school computer. We'll get one for me in a little while. In the meantime, forgive my spelling as my fingers adjust to the size of this keyboard.

We had a good, but silly Christmas. The week before Christmas we were visited by three disasters - the Lappy meltdown, the theft of our credit card number and the stomach flu. The latter was definitely the worst -- there is nothing like tending two sick and one well child while you AND your husband are also both sick, and you are supposed to be driving 7 hrs for a week long visit that evening. We posponed our trip a day until everyone was at least done throwing up (for the first two hours of our trip, Andrew and I had the same conversation every 10 min or so. "Mom!" "Yes, Andrew?" "I didn't throw up yet." "Glad to hear it, son.")

After this we spent a week staying at Dave's brother's house in Cambridge. It was nice to have Dave around for Christmas, and not completely exhausted. The cousins got to have a good long play (they were all done with each other by the end of the week), the boys got out in the forest and snow plenty, and the adults reminiced and visited friends fromt he past until we were feeling old and infirm (at 35, no less). By the end of this time I had caught one of my famous Jill colds, complete with hacking cough and hoarse voice (which rarely stops me from talking, strangely enough)

Then we jetted off to Toronto to spend a lovely couple of days with Kris, my partner in crime over at Clever Mamas. She and her husband treated us to a wonderful spread of apetizers on New Years' Eve. On New Years day we took all the kids (all 6 of them) on a subway ride and a wander around the mall, and that evening I had my first taste of Settlers of Catan. I think I"m hooked. And how great is it that Kris bought the game for Christmas JUST because she knew I would love it, and left it out within view, knowing I would see it and say, "hey, I've always wanted to try that game". I felt thoroughly known and spoiled. Thanks, Kris.

Our last stop was to visit my lovely friend Sharon and her family. Ironically, the Hetkes followed us East and are now living 3ish hrs drive away. We were planning to stop overnight, but by the time we got there, we all really needed our own beds. The boys were getting worn out and my cold was not better, so we spent a marvelous day catching up and then high tailed it back home. It was so good to see my friends beginning to settle into their new space and to celebrate our mutual new adventures.

So, we got home last night, and today I spent the day cleaning (since I didn't get the pre-trip clean done in the midst of all the emergency clean up and packing I was doing before we left). Dave spent the day grocery shopping and getting bills and mail and the like sorted out.

 It is good to visit, but it is also good to come home. I missed my herbal tea collection and my blue kitchen and my sewing machine. I missed the red brick and the rumble of the trains and the sun peeking over the rusty back fire escapes of the appartment buildings behind our house. I didn't really miss the Asian pop music flooding from the basement, but all things considered that is a minor inconvenience.

I have more to say about the new year, but that shall wait for another day. Happy New Years, all.