Monday, February 27, 2012

You might be nesting if . . .

on your first official day of Spring Break you put two coats of paint on a room, prep another room for painting, cook two chickens, make a batch of chili (neither of which are actually supper for tonight) and bake cookies.

You know you are Jill nesting if the kitchen floor has been left un-mopped and there are three baskets of unfolded laundry to be tackled while you are doing all this . . .

Ahem. But in my defense, my husband did put our mattress in the middle of the living room, on top of the laundry bins that contain the washable mop heads and other clean laundry.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Free Pieced Tea Cannisters

So, the next step of my Fab Little Quilt is to make a tea cannister. Above is the first one I made, inspired by the crazy bird on the fabric. He matched perfectly with the churn dashes, and I love the cannister, but the yellow was overwhelming everything else in my quilt and killing the overall design. So cute or not, it had to be replaced.

 Fortunately, when I was first tinkering with the block, I made a label that I thought was with the same yellow as the cannister above, but was really in a more orange-y print from the same fabric line. It clashed with the yellow in the bird fabric and wasn't working at all. I pulled it back out tonight, along with a little piece of my latest funny animal fabric (I love this designer's animals - they are so whimsical and happy), the original green and yellow, and a bit of the fabric I bought for this quilt. Here is my second cannister:
One of the ladies on Flikr commented that it must be catmint tea. I think it fits in with the overall colours of the quilt, and is still cute without stealing the show, don't you?
So, on to teacups, and then to put the puzzle pieces all together somehow!

Let the Switch Begin!

So, the "big switch" has started. Dave has reading week, and he spent a number of days of it moving things around. So far we've done some of the "easiest" moving first. The white storage thing that was in the hallway is now in our bathroom (making it look much tidier, I might add).
Next, the bookshelves from the entry way were moved into the place where the linen storage used to sit. This is nice, as these shelves are narrower than the storage unit was. The down side is that Emma is much more interested in the books now. I found her leafing through "Leisure: The Basis of Culture" the other day, which gave me a good laugh.
We moved those bookshelves, because Dave's bookshelves needed to be moved out of his former study. It is going to become the boys' room, so all the books had to move out to the living room. Now we look much cleverer, as we have the Ante-Nicene Fathers and assorted other theology and commentaries sitting out in our entry way.
Yes, I know the shelves are covering that door, but that is the door to the basement. As we have a basement suite, we don't ever use that door, so its all good.

Now we're on to the more complex changes - moving beds, toys, clothes, drawers while simultaneously painting rooms. All of our bedrooms are turned upside down and the boys' bed is a room with a stuff-covered office desk, while their toys and drawers are shoved into the center of their former bedroom while the walls are primed and painted.

I think we're all feeling a bit turned upside down too. Every day when Emma wakes up or comes home and something is different, she says, "Momma, come see! Come see!" and takes my hand and makes me come and check out the "new" thing she has discovered. Aaron asked this morning if the living room was still going to be the living room when we were all done. I am surprised every time I walk by a door and see a bed in the study. But, we think its better to do these changes now than when we are also adjusting to the new baby's arrival. So, hopefully we'll have a few weeks between the transition of our house and the transition to being a household of 6.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Fab Little Quilt Swap Progress . .

So, I've been working away at my Fab Little Quilt in little bits and pieces over the last few weeks. I'm running out of time, and ever time I've planned to work on this quilt lately, someone is sick or I'm sick or I decide to have a nap first and wake up 3 or 4 hours later with no more progress made . . . sigh. And now I'm stalling because I don't know where to go from here. So, after checking out my partner's photostream and favorites and galleries and thinking about my strengths as a sewist, I came up with these two sketches:
(nope, I can't take credit for the soldier at the bottom, but I wanted to include him. Its always nice when your son decides to take over your sketchbook . .. ) I thought my partner would prefer the one on the right, and I was correct. I bought a few new fabrics and pulled a bunch from my stash and ended up with this fantastic little pile here:
Then, I started making churn dash blocks. Have you ever made 3.5" unfinished (3" finished) churn dash blocks? They're fiddly. They require lots of precision and trimming and pinning and proper pressing. They took me about two weeks to finish, but I think they look great:
But now I was almost out of time, and my original quilt required about a dozen or more cup blocks, which are also fiddly and I was sick for 2 1/2 weeks and exhausted from teaching, and I started playing around with a simpler idea . .
So I made my teapot, and now I feel like I've hit a wall . . . do I want to make a cannister and two cups, like in the plan above? Or do I want to make a yellow bird teapot and some cups in vertical rows . .

And if I only want to make two or three teacups, then what do I do with all these fab fabrics I pulled to make teacups? I wanted to do 3 or 4 dainty cups with the little fabrics, and then some funky clunky mugs out of the bigger prints. But then how will I balance out the quilt?

What to do, what to do? So much pretty fabric, so many ideas, and only two more weeks until my mailing deadline, and not even a finished quilt top. Sigh, I'm usually more on the ball with these things, but I'm feeling a little lost and nervous of making something "too simple" or "not good enough" for this swap. I think I might just start making teacups and a teapot and a cannister and if I don't want them for this quilt when I'm done, I'll use them in a little quilt of my own. Thoughts, anyone?

Saturday, February 11, 2012

[Un]Productive Saturday

Or would the proper Postmodern Punctuation be Un/Productive? Not sure. Okay, enough obscurity.

In any case, I had plans for today. I was going to get work done on my Fab Little Quilt (I shall have to show my progress on that sometime). I was going to finish editing my chapter in the Crosstalk Daycamps Manual. I was going to fold the laundry (I say that every day . . . that way one day it will get done). And then the boys decided to start playing one of their favorite games this morning - Softies in the Kingdom.

Softies in the Kingdom is one of those wonderful games entirely invented by Aaron and Andrew. It involves all the stuffed animals in the house, and it has been ongoing for over a year. Sometimes there are dramas involving lost family members that need to be reunited. There are dragon attacks, spy missions, burned down houses and destroyed communities that all require the entire relocation of the softies from room to room all through our house. Usually by the end there are bears and hippos and tigers and monkeys strewn all over the house in every room as they have become casualties in some epic battle or natural disaster, and the whole thing ends with a few lone survivors and a massive clean up operation.

Unfortunately, Aaron has determined that there are just not enough scary bad guy softies. There is one giant tiger and one dragon puppet, and other than that, there are no really evil looking bad guys. So, today Aaron decided it was my assignment to solve this problem.

I agreed, with plans of making little round black dots with horns and fangs and red glowing eyes (the three things required of the softies). And so I started cutting out pieces and fusing fabric to webbing and getting things ready.

And Aaron walked by and asked, "But where are their arms?"

So I cut out arms and started sewing again, and I got the faces fused and stitched on.

Aaron walked by again and asked, "Why don't they have any legs, Mom? They need legs."

So I cut out some legs and started sewing the horns and legs together, when I realized that if I just added some claws, then they could "roll their terrible eyes and bare their terrible teeth and wave their terrible claws". And at the very end of the day, we ended up with these:
Terrifying, aren't they? Here they are devouring my bills and looking at a takeout menu - guys this bad obviously don't cook themselves.
And here they are hanging out on a shelf, waiting for some cutsie softies to come by so they can jeer and make clever remarks.

I photographed the process of making these guys, if anyone's interested in a tutorial . . .

Thursday, February 02, 2012

Oh, yes, I did mention knitting . ..

because I finally knit something other than a rectangle!
Fingerless gloves! Never being one to start off with, say, a scarf, I decided that I needed something small but interesting to start with. After an afternoon over at Valerie's house learning how to purl and make cables, I took my borrowed needles and pattern and gifted wool and set off to knit these babies. I needed a few more tips and tutorials along the way, but I got them knit! The one above is the second glove, which is much tidier than the first glove.
I liked my pair so much, that I decided to knit my sister in law a pair for Christmas. Of course, since I finished them in the car on the way to Cambridge on Christmas eve, I don't have a photo of that pair, but here is the very pretty wool I used anyway:
Now I'm working on a simpler pattern with just a rib stitch and a thumb hole for a certain pair of boys who think these resemble ninja gloves, so I can have my pair back . . .

Grumble, grumble, grumble . . .

We have had a very strange winter. The temperature varries from day to day between -15 and +5 degrees Celcius. There are two problems with this:

1. The sidewalks and roads are constantly thawing and melting and being rained on and then snowed on, making it impossible, most days, for a 7 month pregnant woman to do any but the most necessary and cautious walking.

2. Colds and flus are rampant. Andrew has been home all week with a bad flu/cold/ chesty things, which I now have. Emma was sick the two weeks before that with a bad cold and then pink eye, all the children threw up on one of those weekends for no apparent reason and so it has gone all winter. This means that I have not had a single weekend or day off without sick kids (or a sick me) since the last weekend of Christmas holidays. I am thoroughly sick of being or taking care of sick people.

Add these two features to my normal end-of-pregnancy grumpiness and a particularly busy few weeks at work (report cards, anyone? subbing on my prep blocks for all the OTHER sick teachers, or teachers marking exams, anyone?) and I have not had much of a breather lately. Every time I feel like I'm coming out of the woods, someone else gets sick.

I felt bad on Wed, because it was my day off, and I was SO grumpy that Andrew dared to STILL be sick when I wanted my day off to visit friends and sew and get my haircut and not have people to deal with that I was not the most nurturing Mom, I'm afraid. Ah well. Hopefully he'll remember me on better days and not on that one.