2016 Finish Along – Q1 Goals

7 01 2016

It’s that time of year again – for me to set some goals, and to plan a bit ahead, with some help from the online quilting community.

Rhonda's [Quilt] Ramblings

I participated in the 2015 Finish Along with some success – I completed four quilts over the first half of the year, before losing steam and then becoming buried by the holidays.

I’m participating again, because it was a great experience for me, and it held me to some goals. I’m competitive (even against myself) so it’ll be fun to see how this year stacks up against last year.

I’d already done some preparation for the 2016 Finish Along, without realizing it. I took a good, long look at my projects, and eliminated a few that were never going to be finished, because I’d fallen out of love with them. Now, my WIP list for 2016 is updated, even with brand new projects that I started in the last couple of weeks.

Without further ado, my goals for this first quarter of the year:

Charmed, I'm Sure

To finally quilt and bind ‘Charmed, I’m Sure’. This beast has been sitting in my pile for too long. I’d like to get it quilted up and into rotation sooner rather than later.

Quick Quilt Top

To quilt and bind this scrappy baby quilt. I pieced it on a whim, and even started quilting it. I just need to finish the quilting, and then I can bind it.

Swirling Sea of Stars Quilt Top

To quilt and bind ‘A Swirling Sea of Stars’. I’m so excited to have completed this quilt top, finally! I just need to decide on backing it, and figure out how to quilt this monster. There are A LOT of seams to conquer here.

A Start

To complete my Fibs and Fables quilt. It’s not even a complete top at this point, and has a lot more piecing to go. And I’m still waiting on fabric to arrive, so that I can complete cutting.

I’ll leave it at just the four projects for this first quarter… Somewhere in all of those, I’ll need to get a leg up on piecing the rest of my projects.

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Swirling Sea of Stars – Completed Quilt Top

24 12 2015

It’s been a long time in coming, but I finally put together enough blocks to call Swirling Sea of Stars a completed quilt top.

With working the holidays in retail again, I realized I needed to sew for my own sanity. I needed something simple-ish, and near completion, so that I could have that pleasant burst of accomplishment.

Swirling Sea of Stars was definitely near completion. I’d stalled out at needing four more blocks, and had even started piecing those four blocks. 16 quarter stars had been languishing under my sewing table for months.

Over a couple of days, I buckled down and got to sewing:

Scrappy Piecing
The sixteen quarters stars on the left were all I needed. The three stars on the right were just waiting for their pale-centered brethren to be made complete.

And then, finally, finally! I had a completed quilt top. I made only as many blocks as I had solid fabric for. My EQ7 design called for 144 blocks, but I may have drawn the design with smaller blocks than what I actually made:

Swirling Sea of Stars

I love how the quilt top actually turned out, with the variations in the widths of the scraps. And I especially love the way the stars actually stand out.

Swirling Sea of Stars Quilt Top

For me, there will always be something wonderful and magical about using my scraps to make something like this. So much of what I used could have just been disposed of. Instead, I’ve made something that I can appreciate for years to come.





Sewing Like Mad!

15 11 2014

A quilt-along of the Night Sky quilt pattern by Camille Roskelley is being hosted by the lovely Jana Machado. Since I’m still feeling the effects of having my sewing mojo back, I jumped in.

The milestones of this particular quilt along are to have one row of each quilt done each week, with the goal of having the completed top done by December 5. I’ve not gotten any rows done yet, but I have finished all 44 blocks needed for this top.

Night Sky Progress 01

Night Sky Progress 02

Needless to say, I’m damned glad to be done piecing star blocks. These got very repetitive, and I found myself a little tweaked at the waste generated by this pattern if you followed the piecing instructions exactly as written. I also felt that some things should be explicitly called out, as I needed to go back and cut more fabric after I’d gone through the majority of the piecing.

Still, I was able to use up quite a few of my smaller cuts of grey, black and yellow fabrc – everything for this top was pulled from my stash. Really, it was the fact that the pattern called for so many fat quarters (28) that kind of sold me on participating. I had a ton of smaller remnants that would have just gone into my scrap bags, left over from piecing The Garden Party’s Quadrille.

As usual, it feels wonderful to use stuff that I have in my stash – I have enough fabric to make several quilt tops, and I haven’t held as true to my fabric diet this year as I should have. So, ‘wonderful’ really is something of an understatement.

I’ve also made significant progress on Swirling Sea of Stars:

Swirling Sea of Stars Progress

Last time this top was featured on this blog, I only had two rows done. I’m now up to four, though I know I’ve plenty in my scrappy strips tote for a few more projects. There’s going to be at least one more string top in my future. I just have to decide what, though that’s planning for another day. I’m hoping to be able to call this a completed quilt top by the end of the year – it’s very slow going because of the nature of the project.

Strings and paper-piecing take time, lots of it, and I’ve found that I don’t make significant progress if I use this as a leader/end project. Thus, I work on this one as I feel like expending a huge chunk of time on string blocks.

Now, I’m off to sew more. My plans for today include completing the Night Sky quilt top, making a few more string blocks, and making a return to the Winged Square quilt top.





Coming Back Round

9 04 2014

Piracy Warning

http://greycatquilts.com

I meant to get back here sooner than this, but I’ve been insanely busy.

Back in February, I shared some frustrations I’d been experiencing with work. I’d been reallocated to a different area in my department, and the students I’d been working with had been transitioned to another supervisor.

That supervisor was a close friend of mine, and due to some poor ethical choices, is no longer with with my organization or the university. His choices first came to light in late February, and he was placed on administrative leave at that time. By mid-March, the decision was made that he would no longer be with the university.

So, since late February, I’ve been trying to fulfill two roles. The role I transitioned into, and taking over the Helpdesk once more. It’s been crazy and hectic. In one two week period, I put in 120 hours of work, to try to keep up, because that conversion project I mentioned hasn’t gone away. I think we’re finally coming up on the end of it, but the final end could still be a month away.

I’ve got my students back, which is great, because they are wonderful, bright people, and seem much more settled now that I’m back in the seat as their day-to-day manager. Unfortunately, I’m not as hands on as I want to be right now, due to aforementioned conversion project and attempting to actively fill two positions. I’m incredibly grateful to be back in this role with them. The talks I’ve had with individual student employees about how things were while I was gone have convinced me that they were not doing well.

In the meantime, I finally did some things to take care of myself. My annual gynecological exam for one, with a new gynecologist. Choosing a new primary care physician for another.

I saw both of these physicians in the space of about one week.

Both of them felt the need to address my weight. The gynecologist labeled me ‘obese’, while the primary care physician labeled me ‘morbidly obese.’

I’m furious. Crazy pissed off.

I’m overweight. I will admit that without an issue. I’ve known it for a long time, and have been controlling my diet for quite some time. I spent a good portion of last year working out three or four times a week, on top of the food intake management, without the scale budging at all.

The exercise fell off with the last quarter of 2013 – the person I had been working out with (coincidentally the supervisor mentioned above), stopped going and winter made me sluggish. My own fault, I know, for having lost my motivation.

My problem is the inclusion of the qualifier ‘morbidly’. I do not believe myself to be morbidly obese. The extra weight that I have does not in any way limit my mobility. I can still touch my toes, without effort, for crying out loud. I consistently have excellent blood pressure at every checkup. I eat healthfully and try to be mindful of my water intake.

But because current health standards insist on using Body Mass Index (BMI) to determine a ‘healthful’ weight, I’m morbidly obese.

The use of the BMI scale infuriates me. Despite changes to the index in recent years, BMI remains a woefully deficient manner in which to determine a person’s healthful weight range, as it only takes into account two factors: height and weight.

I stand at 5’3”. According to BMI, I should not weigh more than 110 pounds.

I don’t recall there ever being a time that I weighed so little. It must have been before I entered high school, before I ever worried about my weight.

BMI fails to take into consideration several factors, like bone density, muscle build, actual percentage of body fat. Nor does it take into consideration age. This scale consistently tells athletes that they are overweight, despite having higher muscle mass and lower body fat. On the other hand, an elderly person may be told that they are appropriately ‘thin’, though they have replaced muscle with fat as they age and become less active.

So, once again, I am limiting my daily caloric intake to 1500 calories (though I did not typically exceed that before counting calories). I have increased my intake of fruits and vegetables, increased my intake of water. When I want a soda, I drink diet root beer, and only one per day. I have only one cup of coffee per day. I’ve also started hitting the gym again, and purchased weights and a jump rope so that I can exercise at home when I cannot go to the gym.

I’ve been doing this since March 25, when I saw the new primary care physician. I have an appointment with a dietitian in two weeks. We’ll see what gets said then. I’m not sure to expect much.

In brighter news, I have been sewing!

Swirling Sea of Stars has three complete rows now. Still slow going, because of the very scrappy nature of the piecing. I’ve gotten a total of four blocks made, one of which was to replace a stained block. Looks like I need to make another replacement, since I found another stain.

Four Scrappy Stars

I’ve been in a very scrappy mood lately – I think because working in scraps is fairly mentally freeing for me – no real thought, just piecing as I pick up fabric. I decided to start on a set of scrappy place mats, just piecing fabric together as it fits together. My goal is to get to 12.5″ X 18.5″ panels of scraps. I got to one full-sized panel, but don’t plan to quilt it until I have a set of six panels:

Placemat 01

I think I’ll quilt these with straight lines – sort of  ‘keep it simple, stupid’. I could practice FMQ on these, but I’d rather do that on ugly fabric I hate.

I’ve also finally opened my Etsy shop, so my sewing tends to be split between piecing and dolls right now.

Grey Cat Handmade

This is actually a thing! I spent an entire Saturday afternoon taking good photographs of the three dolls and the clothes that are currently in the shop. I’m planning to spend some time expanding the stock – I’m hoping the shop becomes a source of additional income. I’ve invested in ‘thank you’ labels, to affix to the bags that will contain the dolls and the clothes. I’ve also invested in some more fabrics to make more dolls, and lots of safety eyes and noses.

Eventually, I will actually finish something for myself… I just need to get my butt moving on basting a top or two.





Finally Catching Up

20 02 2014

I promised this post a  bit ago, but then everyone in my house started falling ill. I’m sick for the second time in two weeks, but I don’t want to miss more work, because I have so much to do!

Sewing has been slow, mostly because sitting up without being feverish or dizzy has been a challenge 😛

I did manage a few things last month, though…

I made up a mini-quilt, for Doll Quilt Swap 14:

Sweet Little Dream House
Paper-pieced, obviously. Those log cabin blocks finish at 2″ each, and the house was a 6″ block. My partner was amber_crawley, and I sent along a bunch of charm squares from my scraps stash. I didn’t think to photograph that.

I tried some new things with this mini-quilt: double layer of batting for some loft, and free motion quilting on my home machine. I used the Fabulous Fabric Glide (mentioned in my last post), and it made a huge difference! I’m excited to try FMQ with the Fabulous Fabric Glide and my new SewSlip.

I even remembered to piece in a label:

DQS14 Back
You can see how shaky the FMQ is from the backside, but I’m still pleased that it worked as well as it did.

I also managed to finished something that had been languishing a couple of months:

Plastic Bag Dispenser
Yeah, it’s a quilted plastic bag dispenser. I got really tired of the bag of bags we had, and how nasty it looked hanging in our hall, so I whipped up what was essentially a mini-quilt from my three-inch square scraps, added some fabric I hated to make the elasticized ends and handle, threw on a button, and was done. It could have been one of those ‘done in a day’ things, but I stopped before I put the handle and button on.

It sat for three months, just waiting for that handle and button.

Yes, I do know how sad that is.

Since I was sort of on a roll with finishing things, I decided that I’m not starting anything new until I wrap up all the WIPs I have all around my sewing area. The quilt tops count, too. I will probably spend the next year doing nothing but revisiting projects, but that’s all right.

As part of my new found resolution, I got out the paper-piecing foundations for Swirling Sea of Stars, and started working on blocks. I only actually finished one, but that’s okay. I’ve at least six in progress. They’re not really that slow to come together. I’m just trying to vary the prints used in each star.

Scrappy Star 20
So, one down, and I don’t know how many more to go. I’m going until it’s the ‘right’ size, whatever that is, or I run out of scraps. I’m thinking that it’ll get to the right size first.





Scrappy Star Madness

8 06 2013

I spent Stitch ‘n’ Bitch today working on Swirling Sea of Stars. I was determined to see what it would look like, should I start putting rows together – so I put rows together. I had 16 blocks made today when I went in. When I finished today, I had 17 blocks done, and one more started. I also had put rows 1 and 2 together, getting a good start on the top.

I got home, and got ready to document my progress, when I realized that I’d managed to skip taking photos of several of the completed blocks… My last posted Scrappy Star to Flicker was #12. So I went back and got caught up on documentation.

Scrappy Star 13#13

Scrappy Star 14#14

Scrappy Star 15#15

Scrappy Star 16#16

Scrappy Star 17#17

Sadly (for myself) I actually had to refer to Flickr to determine which blocks I’d already taken pics of, and then do a lot of editing. Because, you know, they were already stitched into the top in progress.

Swirling Sea of Stars - In Progress 01

Swirling Sea of Stars - In Progress 02

Hubby came home and looked at this project, and made note of the fact that it’s very ‘loud’. I apparently don’t have a ‘color volume control’ in this hobby.





More Scrappy Stars

15 05 2013

I did manage to make some progress on the scrappy stars at Stitch ‘N’ Bitch on Saturday. I got a decent start on sixteen quadrants, or four stars. In order to add some variety to the string pool, I decided that whenever I cut from my yardage for another purpose, I need to cut a few strings for these blocks. It was a good call – I had very little in the way of lighter strings that weren’t a variation of acid green.

Gee, what do I buy a lot of? Yeah, acid green. Oh, and bright orange. And, weirdly, lately – pink. I’m not understanding that one, though it might be the prevalence of strong, fuschia-leaning pinks in the market right now. I’m very much about the stronger, purer tones.

Last night, I sat down and completed the sixteen quadrants, after having taken kiddo to the park for two hours. So, despite him not being the only one tired, I took advantage of his solid slumber and communed with Bessie. I finished up the quadrants, and got a solid start on sewing them together. Finally, it hit about 2:00 AM, and I had to admit defeat and head to bed myself.

The alarm went off at 6:00 AM this morning, and I decided to finish assembling those stars this morning. I managed to finish just as I had to leave for work, so I have four more scrappy star blocks, bringing me to twelve!

Scrappy Star 11

Scrappy Star 10

Scrappy Star 09

Scrappy Star 12