Thursday, June 30, 2011

Now that I have some time to sew again . . .

I have a few things on my "to sew" list. Lately, I've been making clothes for me and Emma, simply so I could have some summer clothes - I think I still need to blog about some of them. In any case, I like sewing clothes, but I don't find it as creatively satisfying as quilting. There is a lot more freedom to mess around in quilting, and not so much anxiety about wether its going to look good in the end. A quilt can always be balled up and flipped over and otherwise manipulated to show off its best points, or just used for picnics and the beach if its really terrible. Clothes -- not so much. They either fit or they don't. They look good and you want to wear them every day, or you want to cut them up and reuse the fabric for patchwork. I like making clothes because its fun and I can get exactly what I want, but its not play for me, like quilting is.

In any case, I wanted to finish up a few quilts that I've had in process for a while now, as unfinished quilts always weigh on my mind. I'm not one of those people who likes to have fifteen or twenty projects laying around. That just discourages me and makes me want to start a new hobby. One or two is okay, but too many and I just get frustrated.

So, my first work in progress is these Meadowsweet blocks. Remember way back in January of last year when I was strip peicing these? I bought the fabric for me, then ended up using a lot of the blocks in this baby quilt because Olivia was very premature and in ICU and I wanted to send some comfort to her parents right away. But the other half of the blocks, the half I kept for me, sat for a long time. You see, I used the blocks that balanced well in Olivia's quilt, and kept the ones that weren't quite doing it for me. I always planned to either make two more sets of blocks (6 more total) and make a bigger quilt, or cut the blocks up and stitch them back together again in some fancy way that would make them more interesting. The idea of making more blocks was leaving me feeling frustrated, and the idea of cutting them up and finding a way to sew them back together again felt too exhausting right now, so instead I came up with a third option. This:
I decided, on laying the blocks out again that the problem was the busy-ness of the quilt. There was a lot of colour and pattern and not much to ground it or hem it in. Olivia's quilt was stablized by the owl fabric (I put it all in her quilt and the scraps are in Aaron's quilt) and the umber Kaffe dots, but I didn't have any of either of those fabrics left to work with. I didn't want to interupt the rail fence pattern, but I did want a fast way to make it come together, without putting a ton more energy into this quilt. I didn't want it square, but it felt too long and skinny as a rectangle. So I added these two 6" brown strips along the edges. I am planning to bind this quilt in these same fabrics, thus creating a frame of brown to hold all the riot of colours and patterns together.

While I didn't want to do any more work on the front of the quilt, I don't have a big piece of fabric that matches with the front to put on the back. But I have a LOT of fabric in the same general colours as this quilt, as I was planning to do a really cool quilt with lots of Mendiccino fabric in it, and so I'd bought a fair stack of fat quarters as well as some other stuff to co-ordinate with it. This is one of those stacks of fabric that I have had grouped together in the back of my stash for over two (three?) years now. I have occasionally sketched a really complex pattern for it involving lots of fussy cutting and inset seams and hand sewing. But lets get serious here. I have three children and no wall space for a design wall right now. Anything that complicated is never going to get done.

Not only that, but I've been feeling like I need a release from this obsession with fabric lately. Like these bits of cloth are just becoming way too precious to me. And like I'm becoming too anxious about finding just the "right" fabric, or about people thinking I'm too lazy or not a good quilter because I do a lot of square and rectangle quilts (as per the big web blow out a few months back). So I decided that I was going to use this Heather Ross fabric (that is now worth about three times the price I bought it for -- fabric speculation - who knew) as a symbol for my creative and spiritual release. I trimmed all my fat quarters to 16" lengths, and cut it into strips:
Yes, there it is. No plan or rhyme or reason, just cut up. I'm going to piece the strips improvisationally and use them for the back of my quilt. Here's the rules of the game (these are not mine, they are taken from "Last Minute Patchwork and Quilting". Joelle Halverson borrowed them from Denise Schmidt.):
I'm going to put all the strips into this paper bag.
I will randomly pull out pairs of strips and sew them together end to end and press them. Then I will put all the pairs of strips back into the bag and do the same thing until I have sets of four. Then eight.
Only when most of the strips are sewn into blocks of eight will I lay them all out and arrange them into the size and shape I need for my quilt.
The only restrictions are that the two strips can not be the same colour or the same pattern in a different colourway. That's it. Otherwise, its all up to the paper bag, baby.

I am so excited to see what happens with this quilt back. Even if its a total flop, I love all the colours and patterns, so I'm sure it will at least be nice to scrunch up and look at when its done.

Latest blocks for sarah and molly's

This month was crosses. Last month, one of the blocks was flowers. I had the idea of a giant pink flower. It didn't quite come out how I had envisoned it, but I think its pretty cute anyway. I'm glad I made it first so I can make some cute little flowers for my partner.

Spicing Up the Kitchen Swap -sent!

Well, I finished my swap package! My partner likes red, cross blocks, sherbert pips and she wanted a tea cozy. So I started by pulling some fabric and scraps:
 First I made a tea cozy. I meant it to be a stripy tea cozy, but I measured wrong, so I then had to make it into a coin strip tea cozy. I think its pretty cute none the less:
Cross blocks were the block of the month over at sarah and molly's free piecing study, so I decided to make some cross blocks for my partner. I wasn't quite sure what I was going to do with these -- it was one of those days when I just needed to sew something without thinking too hard:

In the end I made a fourth block and made a little mat for the tea pot (I'm sure there's a proper word for such a thing, but I don't know what it is. Trivet? Hot pad? I don't know). I think the grey binding is one of my new favorite blender fabrics, and that it really pulls the disparate colours together in this one:

Finally, since we are supposed to have one "big" item (tea cozy and mat in this case) and one "small" item, I decided to make some matching potholders. They are a little wonky in real life, but that simply adds to their charm, right?

Now that the post office is open again I went and sent these off. The postal workers were literally up to their elbows in backlogged mail. This one has to go internationally, so hopefully it won't take too long to wing its way to its final destination.

Hello again!

Well, summer has finally started, and I am feeling like I've caught up enough to blog again! I spent the early part of the week catching up on sleep, de-cluttering all the toys and clothes we don't need anymore and re-arranging the boys' room. Where we used to have the bed, I made them a little reading / playing nook:

And the bed is now against the inside wall of the room, making it feel a little more cozy (note how nicely I got them to make the bed this morning . . . )

I had a lot of clothes to declutter. Its not that I've bought a lot of clothes since we got here, but two things have happened:
1. the children decided to grow. I know they do that way too fast. and since Emma is probably baby number last, we don't need all those baby clothes anymore.
2. people gave me clothes. I love it when people give me clothes. The problem is that the boys are developing their own styles now, and won't wear clothes that don't fit into their personal styles. So about half of the clothes we can use, and the other half we can't.

My apologies for the picture quality -- our camera is slowly dying
The other big new development is Emma's budding independence. For a while she would start screaming and fussing whenever I went to put the tray on her chair so she could eat. I thought she wasn't hungry. On the contrary, she just wanted to sit at the table.

On Tuesday we took the Metro to check out the kids' section of the Jazz Festival (which was awesome -- too bad that due to construction it is far away from any music that was playing at the time), and Emma insisted on doing everything herself. She wanted to go into the bouncy castle with the big kids. She wanted to go down the slide with the big kids. On the way back she insisted on walking down all the stairs to the underground tunnel below the Place Des Arts herself, on getting on the metro herself, and - funniest of all - on sitting in the seat not on my lap, but all by herself. Here she was, this tiny little girl in little dress, sitting next to a huge lady. She was looking up at the lady as if to say, "Yes, that's right. Here we are, two big people sitting on the metro together." It was priceless.

For the first week of summer, Andrew is at a Day Camp put on by Crosstalk Minsitries at our church. I sent Aaron, too, even though we're paying for 3 days of babysitting. The topic is the Holy Spirit in the book of Acts, and Andrew is fascinated by the idea of the Holy Spirit. He has a lego flame, and he has taken to sticking it on the head of one of his Lego guys and pretending that the guy is filled with the Holy Spirit. We have to discuss wether the Holy Spirit would win in a battle against Storm Troopers, and I hear him yelling, "I can defeat you because I have the power of the HOLY SPIRIT!" Its pretty funny.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

I will not sign up for DQS11
I will not sign up for DQS11
I will not sign up for DQS11 . . . .

But if you want to, sign ups are open right now. Read "quilt" quilts only, no art quilts this round.

I would love to sign up, but I usually end up taking 10 or so hours to make my quilt, and I need to spend that time making a quilt for my own bed this summer. Yes, I know, a finished quilt for me. Do you think I can manage?

Saturday, June 11, 2011

I don't usually post a lot of parenting stuff, or a lot of links, but here are two really lovely posts that have encouraged me this week:

This one speaks to my "style" (??) of housekeeping, and comforts me that I'm not alone in sort of loving creative chaos

And this one is heartening to me as I begin to rediscover my identity in this new place and stage of life:

I might actually get to sew and blog a little more now. I'm done with the teaching-of-the-students part of teaching, and on to the marking-of-exams, tallying-of-marks and invigilating-exams part. And boy, do I have a lot of exam supervision next week. Sometimes up to 6 hrs a day. So much for getting home earlier. Although I supervised what was supposed to be a 3 1/2 hr exam yesterday afternoon, and all the kids were done after an hour and 45 min., so it might not be as bad as I'm thinking it will be.

Have a great weekend!

Saturday, June 04, 2011

Finished Scotty Dog

Yes, my little dog is done. She has a split personality, and so it was necessary to give her two different colours of ribbon for her collar. That's okay, though. I think she's precious. I made her for Emma, who liked her. But Aaron has swapped his old black kitty for the dog for the present. I would actually like her for myself, so I can take her to school and remind myself that sometimes being a female dog can be a beautiful thing . . . . (you have to do things like that when you teach high school, its how you stay sane).

Bilingual fun

It is awfully fun hearing your children learn another language. I do know some French, as all Canadians have to take it in school, so none of them have surpassed my vocabulary yet. I have the kind of French that can scan most documents and generally understand what its saying, or understand what people are saying if they talk slow and make lots of hand gestures. Sometimes I can even respond in a proper sentence.

Andrew has been in French Immersion for almost a year now, and because he is a perfectionist, we are just starting to see some of the results of that. When he speaks French, his accent is perfect. He won't speak to French speakers as he's afraid that he won't speak "properly", but he will talk at school. He has spent a lot of time with a lovely tutor who has worked closely with him to help him learn the French phonemes he needs to be able to properly pronounce the language.

Aaron and Emma have been in a French speaking daycare since January now. Aaron is finally starting to come out with some French words, but it is a much more casual, random French, the kind spoken in every day conversation. His accent is more slurred and sometimes we don't really know what words he's trying to say.

Emma is in that language - learning stage, and she is somewhat behind where both my boys, who were only hearing one language, were at her age. She babbles a lot, sometimes in something resembling English, and sometimes in something resembling French. Sometimes her few words are English (Dada, eyes, berries) but sometimes they are in French (bebe, maitnant (now), bas (socks) and regarde (look!)). It makes it fun trying to guess what she's saying sometimes, as its a bit or a garble.

The other day something flew by our yard, and Aaron was outside. He yelled, "Look! An el-co-tor! An el-co-tor!" Andrew came running out and said, "You mean un hel-cop-tour, Aaron." Yes, they saw a helecopter. And both only remembered the French pronunciation.
Did you ever have one of those days that were so sweet, you couldn't dare feel it? Like you were afraid that the bitterness must be there, hiding around the corner somewhere? Today is like that for me. We are all home, together. It is sunny. The grass has finally grown in so we can play in the backyard. We are celebrating Dave's 37th birthday, which was yesterday. I am home with all my precious ones, after a long week away. And Dave got a new cd, and every time Emma hears this song, she has to get up from whatever she's doing and dance . . . . (wait for it, it does kick into the song proper eventually)