Failing…

10 08 2014

I’m going to share a secret with ya’ll…

If I reach a point in a project where I feel it’s past redemption, I throw it away. 

So, yes, this means that I’ve thrown away quilt tops and even quilt sandwiches with quilting in them.

Why? Because it’s not worth the tears and frustration of trying to ‘fix’ whatever the problem was.

Take, for instance, the quilt top that would have been called Semi-phores:

Completed Top - From an Unquiet Mind I

I’ve put about ten hours of straight line quilting into it, nearly reaching the halfway point. But, I’m getting rid of it.

I know, it seems crazy, right?

Well, I started quilting it in echo quilting meant to give it more definition. Then I realized that the quilting was created pulling and puckering, so I ripped out what I’d done:

From an Unquiet Mind - Quilting Started

And then I started again. I decided to ‘just’ do zigzags. Not quickly enough, I realized that quilting the top this way was distorting it, turning the whole sandwich into a zigzag:

Failure

Yes, the sandwich is laying as flat as I could make it. *headdesk*

I don’t think any amount of blocking is going to save this quilt.

So, rather than get more irritated at myself for royally screwing up this project, I’m going to be glad I worked out of my stash for this one, rather than buying anything (except for the batting). And then I’m going to take the remaining pins out of it, and shove it in the garbage.

After that, I’m going to switch out sewing machines, (I was doing this on my industrial machine) and do some piecing to make me feel even better.

EDIT: Dad talked me into ‘donating’ the half quilted thing to the cats as a new cat bed. I folded it into quarters and put in front of the screen door, a favorite lounging spot for the kitties. It was claimed within five minutes. I guess at least it wasn’t a complete waste.





Geeking Out

9 08 2014

It worked out this year that my husband and I could go to GenCon. For a while, there, we weren’t sure we’d be able to go, with all the stuff going on with Dad. Thankfully, our plans are holding, since Dad is doing so much better. Yes, he hurts a lot, but that’s part of the healing process.

So, we’re leaving Wednesday for Indianapolis, Indiana, and staying through Sunday, and getting our geek on. My brand of getting my geek on is probably not quite what my husband envisioned for me, but ah, well.

I’m not particularly planning on any gaming events, simply because I have a hard time paying to play something that I have access to because of my husband (he works at a local game shop, as their events coordinator). I did, however, spend quite a bit of time dithering about other activities to participate in. I finally decided on the following:

  • Thursday, at 11:00 AM – Belly Dance for EVERY Body
  • Friday, at 11:00 AM – American Tribal Style Belly Dance for EVERY Body
  • Friday, at 8:00 PM – Build Your Own Language
  • Saturday, at 11:00 AM – Tour of the Mason’s Gothic Scottish Rite Cathedral
  • Saturday, at 8:00 PM – The Haunted Walking Tour of Indianapolis

Yes, I was primarily looking for events that would keep me active while away from home. I’m also looking into touristy things I can do, outside of GenCon, and am really aiming for museums and attractions I can walk to, from the hotel.

  • Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art
  • Colonel Eli Lilly Civil War Museum
  • Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library
  • Sunday, at 1:00 PM – Indianapolis War Memorial Trail Walking Tour

Other places worth visiting look to be:

  • Slippery Noodle Inn – This is the oldest bar in Indianapolis (established 1850), and the bar offers live blues music seven nights a week.
  • Rathskeller Restaurant – Indianapolis’ oldest restaurant (established in 1894). They serve traditional German fare, as well as meals suited to those with less Teutonic-inclined palettes.

And, of course, I had to look into quilt shops in Indianapolis. Crimson Tate looks to be within walking distance of the hotel, and I really like their website design. I should really be not buying fabric, period, right now. We’ll see if I stop in…

So, anyone been to Indianapolis? What did you enjoy? Any locals who can recommend things to do and sights to see?





Finding a New Normal

21 07 2014

Last Monday evening, I got the news that I’d been waiting for: Dad was being discharged from the hospital on that Tuesday.

He’s home with me now, and we’re starting the process of learning to live around each other again. Dad and I have always gotten along well – we have about the same tolerance level for stupidity, drama, etc… It’s clear where I get it from. I am very much my father’s daughter.

Still, Dad spent some time apologizing and trying to make sure of his welcome. He feels badly at having to intrude and change our routines.

Quite frankly, I don’t find the idea of making these changes at all unpleasant. I’m just thrilled that he’s alive and that I can fuss over him. I’m happy to provide a safe and clean environment in which he can recuperate and get healthy again.

It’s actually really nice to have him around – I missed having his daily influence. He’s starting to feel spry again, and has been walking without aid of his walker. He’s even feeling confident enough to drive a bit.

Zebediah is beyond fascinated by the idea of having ‘Grandpa Tom’ around. He’s doing very well in listening to Dad, and Dad is (surprisingly) able to understand Zeb-speak easily. This was a concern for me, as Zeb has been in speech therapy for as long as he’s been in school, and there are certain words and sounds he still mangles. He also has a tendency to speak in gesture, thinking that we’ll understand Zeb-sign-language. We’re still working on teaching him to use his words with Grandpa.

In other news, Sandi (of Piecemeal Quilts) and I made a pact to go walking every Saturday and Sunday. This weekend was our first full weekend, and we walked 2.9 miles on Saturday, and then another 2.6 miles on Saturday (if I recall correctly). I feel really good today, if sore. I was trying to be mindful of my posture while walking, to engage my core. Boy, I can feel it today, as can my knees and thighs!

Yesterday, almost immediately after my walk, Dad and I took a trip to Milwaukee with my mother-in-law and son. He needed paperwork from the house, and was concerned about his lawn – the city will issue a fine if the grass gets too long. My mother-in-law wanted to visit with relatives, so she took Zeb with her, so that he wouldn’t be underfoot while I took care of the lawn.

So, while Dad hunted in the house, I mowed the lawn and attacked the edging with a weed whacker. It’s been a long time since I mowed a lawn, and it was hard! On the up side, I got more physical activity in.

I actually lost 2.2 pounds between my Saturday morning weigh-in and this morning’s weigh-in! It helps that I’m preparing meals with Dad in mind – he’s on a cardiac healthy diet, which means lots of veggies and high quality protein. We’re also eliminating a lot of the carbs from our diets, just by choice. And lots of veggies isn’t a joke around here – I’ve spent $70 on vegetables alone over the last week. And, we’re having fun with them, experimenting with stuff I haven’t had a chance to use before, like kohlrabi and patty-pan squash.

So, we’re finding our way to a new normal, one in which I have lots of reasons to eat very well and healthfully, and one in which I can stay active.





WIP Wednesday – Sewing for Sanity

9 07 2014

It’s shortly after 1:00 AM – I was awakened by a call from my father’s night nurse in the ICU. It is suspected that he is experiencing a bleed unrelated to his surgery yesterday – since being admitted, his blood pressure has been low, and not responding to medication. Tonight, they are doing an emergency CT scan of his abdomen to try to determine where the bleed is occurring.

I have suspected an ulcer – hopefully after tonight, we’ll have an answer.

In the meantime, to distract myself and hopefully quiet my mind enough that I can return to sleep, I will share what I’ve been working on this week. As mentioned in my earlier post of what feels like today yet, but is actually Tuesday… I’ve been sewing myself into a sense of peace, to keep myself from fretting myself into a state over the events of the last couple of weeks, since I had to have my father taken to an emergency room in Milwaukee.

Winged Square - Top in Progress

I completed the twelve pink and green blocks necessary for the Winged Square quilt top. My piles of HSTs are dwindling, slowly. Next up, pink and aqua blocks for the next ring. I haven’t been able to bring myself to start these. Yesterday, there proved to be too much repetition and stringent adherence to pattern for my tired, tired brain.

Completed Top - From an Unquiet Mind I

The need for a change in fabric scenery resulted in pulling out the scraps of solids leftover from my Farmer’s Wife Sampler setting. I made a huge error back when I was cutting the pieces for the setting, and couldn’t bring myself to throw away the too-small pieces.

This proved fortuitous – I was able to open the plastic shoe box of scraps and just start sewing. Over the course of an evening, I had most of a crib-sized quilt top done. Today, I added 5″ (finished) borders. I’ve settled on the fabric that I would like to use for the backing. I just need to determine how to quilt this. I’m still thinking of zigzags – I want the quilting to reflect the often jagged nature of my thoughts over the last few weeks.

Likely, this will be one of the few quilts I seek to sell or otherwise move out of my home. I am not sure that I want to retain these particular quilted memories.

Tomorrow, I will either baste and start quilting this particular top, or I will start another, using the same pool of scraps. I have plenty left, and plenty of reason to seek escapism in stitches. I suspect that the next quilt top to come out of these will be far less structured.

Linking up to WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced.





From an Unquiet Mind

8 07 2014

Real life has been rough lately.

Super rough.

I’m not sure I have words for it all…

My father’s been in the hospital since Thursday, 26 June.

I had to have him taken there by ambulance, after going to his home in Milwaukee with the intention of moving him to live in my home. He’d finally gotten to a breaking point in living with my brother, and asked for help. Due to his condition when I got to Milwaukee, my help turned out to be getting him health care that he desperately needed. The plan is still to move him in with me, once he’s recovered enough to go into a home living situation.

In the meantime, I’ve been dealing with a lot of grief, guilt, anger, resentment, depression… Mixed in with odd moments of resolve and pulling it together so that I can keep going.

Part of keeping going has been sewing. My mind quiets at the hum of my sewing machine, soothed by the focus on the movement of thread, fabric and needle. I’ve expended a lot of energy and focus on the Winged Square quilt top, but last night the rigidity of the pattern and the strict repetition proved to be more than I could handle.

I pulled out a box of solid scraps, leftover from a (large) cutting mistake when I was doing the setting for my Farmer’s Wife Sampler. The scraps were already cut into triangles, squares and strips, so I just took what I had, and started sewing. Eventually, a sort of pattern emerged and I ended up with five strips, which I then tested against a Kona grey fabric:

From an Unquiet Mind - Testing Strips

They ultimately would not remain in this configuration. I trimmed these multi-colored strips to 4.5″ wide (unfinished) and then spaced them with that grey fabric, cut into 3.5″ (unfinished) strips:

From an Unquiet Mind - Awaiting Borders

It’s not large, a generous crib size at this point. I plan to add 5″ (finished) borders to the piece, and I’m thinking large zig-zags will form the quilting.

I feel a little calmer in having brought some order to the chaos around me, but sense that there will be another quilt top in this same vein shortly. I don’t expect that my calm will last.

Soon, I have to call the hospital and check on Dad – he went into surgery yesterday, after twelve days in the hospital, to have a suspect mass removed. In removing the mass, my father will lose 40% of one lung. The expectation is that the mass will be cancerous, but testing has shown that no cancer has spread into the rest of my father’s body.

It might seem odd, but I see this as a positive. My father is a veteran, who served twenty-one years in the Air Force. He served during an era in which cigarettes were distributed with one’s rations (a practice in the US military which did not end until 1975). Since his retirement, my father has been under the care of military doctors.

It’s a tremendous disservice to the men and women who have served our country, but my experience with the healthcare provided to our veterans seems to prove out that diagnosis and treatment are not actually priorities. Considering the scandals rocking the VA in recent months, my observations seem to hold out at a national level. Nicotine dependency within the military remains high, a result both of the tobacco industry’s influence and reach as well as of the need for coping mechanisms in high-stress positions across the military (combat, peacetime and support roles all included). Due to this, I’m disappointed that screening for cancer within the VA and DoD provided health care isn’t a higher focus. My cynical side declares that diagnosis of cancer leads to expensive treatments, thus the lack of actively seeking it out within such a highly suspect population of patients.

I am immeasurably grateful to the staff of the hospital in which my father is currently sequestered. Not surprisingly, it’s not a VA hospital. It’s a private hospital, with religious roots. Their care for him has been remarkable, and my father’s progress in returning to the man I remember, astounding.

Still, his recovery (while a gift) hasn’t been enough to relieve the negativity eating at me lately. I need to find a few moments each day to center myself, and try to purge the dark that chews at me. I anticipate seeking out a mental health professional when Dad is living with me, and we’ve all found a new normal as a larger family unit.

In the meantime, I seek solace in stitches, creating wholeness where I can.





The Sum of Its Parts…

28 06 2014

Almost 1600 HSTs pieced and ironed later (though trimming is now taking place on an as needed basis), I’ve started piecing Winged Square Blocks. Despite the number of sub-units and the need to be careful of how I press my seams, these go pretty quickly. I’m estimating about twenty minutes per block.

Winged Square 01

Winged Square II

Winged Square 06

Winged Square 05

Winged Square 04

Winged Square 03

Six blocks in, and I’m feeling very good about how this is turning out so far. Too keep myself on track, I’m working from the center out, and taking breaks to flirt with the different color combinations.

WS Top in Progress 01

This morning, I said down and put the center together. I’m eager to keep building on this, and to get started on the scrap zigzag.





Holy HSTs, Batman!

14 06 2014

HST Attack 01

Today was Stitch ‘N’ Bitch. Unfortunately I didn’t do much sewing at all. My rotary cutter and cutting mat were my friends today. And no, what you see above is not today’s work. It would be awesome if that was today’s work, but no, I’m not that skilled and awesome.

What you see above are the 600 HSTs I chain pieced, cut, ironed and trimmed over the last week.

Today, I spent Stitch ‘N’ Bitch doing this:

Box of Work

That’s approximately 800 HSTs that now need to be ironed and then trimmed to 2.5″, for a 2″ finished subunit. I say approximately, because I’m still debating trying to find six more aqua fabrics or just making up the rest of the needed HSTs from the aquas I already have on hand. It’s much easier to use what I have, and I know I’ve got the extra strips cut.

I think I’m going to spend the rest of today on these remain HSTs. I might even get ambitious and cut and piece the rest of the HSTs  and 2.5″ squares for the scrap zigzag quilt top. Tomorrow can be spent piecing then.

Should be a lot more fun than trimming ;)








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