Sunday Seven

Oh, hello, blog.  It is hard for me to know where to get started, so jumping in with seven things I have been doing or thinking about…

My perfect cat!  Toby is tiny and interesting, and at times a real shit.  But I am his favorite person.  Every morning he snuggles next to me on my pillow.  Such a small thing, but makes such a big difference in my happiness level.  Here are some pictures of Mr. Perfect.

Seasonal quilts!  The feeling of time is accelerating.  Weeks, months, seasons whip by.  I an attempt to try and mark the passing of time, I am planning to switch the quilt hanging in my dining room.  So far there has been Valentine’s Day and Spring.  Not sure what I am going to do yet for Summer.

Deadlifts!  I love them – and have a goal of doing them every day for the next seven days, and eventually being able to deadlift 120 lbs.  I couldn’t sleep last night and was at the gym by 5 AM cranking Beyonce and deadlifting.  I can’t imagine better music to deadlift to.   I have not picture of me deadlifting; however, this is an image of the type of contraption I use for deadlifting.   A hexagon-like thing.

Screen Shot 2017-03-26 at 7.23.39 PM

Baby Quilts!  First, I know TWO people who are having girls.  The string of baby boy quilts is broken.  I love baby boys, but am anxious to make some baby girl quilts.  I have gotten really, really bad about remembering to take and post finished pictures of baby quilts.  I know of at least two that have been completely undocumented and one that has been unreported.  That lunacy stops down.  I mean if I haven’t posted a picture of a completed quilt, did it even really get made.  Below is a WIP baby quilt, with a grumpy cat posing by it.

IMG_3837

And this is a quilt that I finished last year and didn’t report on.  I don’t have a picture of the completed quilt, just the quilt top.

IMG_3203

Cable.  I was hip.  I had severed the ties to the man, specifically the man in the form of cable.  I had Netflix, Amazon, Sling, HBO Now, Hulu.  But we spent so much time trying to find where who had what to watch that I was going a little crazy.  And I couldn’t just watch an episode of Ellen Degeneres or The Rachel Maddow show without commercials or when I wanted to.  Which I could when I had cable.  I still HATE cable, but I do love to go to one place that has 90% of the things I want to watch and I can fast forward through commercials.  I am not hip.

Drawing.  I am letting myself develop this skill slowly.  Like a kid would, I am tracing and copying to learn to draw.  And I am not beating myself up about it.  I don’t need to draw to feed my family or get a hostage released.  So I can be slow and bad about it.  I have drawn a few flowers recently and LOVE water color pencils and this book.

IMG_3822

Here is one of my forays:

IMG_3828

Being sparkly!  So many boring cliches to pack into a few sentences.  I love Big Little Lies.  I hate how I now look my age.  I have always been a fairly low-fuss girl.  I have never been recognized for my beauty or style, so I didn’t work too hard at it.   And my mother has always had flawless skin, so I wasn’t worried.  Ends up I don’t have my mom’s skin.  Ends up I have to do all of those boring beauty regimen things to not have my skin look like my actual age.  I hate that.  And I hate that I care enough to hate that.

In Big Little Lies (book at TV show) Madeline is recognized for being a sparkly girl.  I am doing my best.  Getting my nails done, moisturizing CONSTANTLY, accessorizing and putting on makeup.  I can’t decide if it is worth it.  I have decided I wished I didn’t care.  But it seems I do.

Screen Shot 2017-03-26 at 7.51.25 PM

Half-square triangles are cool

I got my mega 1/2-square triangle back from the quilters.  Mega because it took a long time.  And was lots of love.  And I am thrilled with the result.  It makes me very happy every time I look at it.

I love the colors – a jazzy rainbow.  I love the shapes formed by the random placement of blocks.  I have redone the quilt hanging on this wall three times now.  I think I am finally happy enough to let it hang there for a long time.

img_3781

I dream of a home that is spacious and new and simple.  But I also am nostalgic for the house we live in now.  Overflowing with books and records and fabric and funky.  This quilt  embodies that.  It is just so darn cool.

This is by far the best thing I have ever made.  I love that if you spend time and energy working on something, you get better at it.  Such a simple concept, but so rewarding.

Hello there!

I do not have a coherent post today.  I am often writing blog posts in my head – coherent, theme-based, elucidating posts.  And then I find time to write and cannot find the good stuff.  Today reflects the chaos of my mind right now – some miscellaneous thoughts…
Happy 2017!  As documented sporadically on this blog, 2016 was a challenging year for me.  The losses were (are) big. But there were some pretty big gains also – a new perfectly devilish kittencat, becoming a museum guide at the Nelson-Atkins, new friends, liking my job, learning new artsy skills.
Today I met with my trainer and pal Mandy and she said that the goal for me this year would be to become a lot stronger.  This makes me unreasonably happy.  Every month working with her I have been able to do more.  And the idea of crushing it is really motivating.  Really motivating.
I am fighting the urge to create 2017 resolutions.  I am fighting the urge to break down my life into a series of goals, create mini-steps to get each of those goals.  Entirely unachievable mini-steps, that is.  And I am fighting the urge to put all of these mini-steps in a spreadsheet and put little Xs next to each achievement.  Because it doesn’t work.
But I am trying to incorporate more of the things that make me feel happy into my every day.  I have started a Bullet Journal – and am avoiding Google Docs and Excel.
Every day I am going to work on getting stronger, meditate, blog, read for a little bit, create something, organize something, and eat lots of fruits and vegetables.  I won’t do all of these every day, but if I do most of them most of the days, I will be building a foundation for a happier life.
I have done a fair amount of sewing over the last month.  I made a purse, a tote, several  pouches, almost finished an advent calendar and started a baby quilt.  I didn’t get pictures of all of them, but here is what I did capture:

Fall!

img_3651

Doesn’t it seem like Fall flies by?  Definitely the best of the seasons and it always goes too quickly.  This year is no different.  We only have the kids every other weekend, so our fall weekends are precious.  When my stepson had an all-day debate tournament last weekend, we tried to get some fall fun in with my stepdaughter, but it was tough.  Every place was busy, no parking, etc., etc.  We did get this one adorable picture of her though.

I have been enjoying some sewing.  I have tried to focus on process rather than pushing to finish a lot.  I have worked on this quilt several weekends in a row – which is pushing against my desire to GET STUFF DONE.  Which is probably good for me.

img_3660

img_3661

I have fluctuated between loving and hating it – but I think I am solidly in the loving it camp now.  I love all the interesting shapes the 1/2 square triangles and triangles make.  And I think I like the color palette – lots of low-volumes and neutrals and a purple-less rainbow.  I had cut several black squares, but it was too overpowering, so they were edited out.  Which means I will be several blocks short to be able to finish my quilt.  But I am ignoring that fact right now.

 

img_3634

I had to make 240 1/2-square triangles for this quilt.  Actually, 480 because I got a little baby 1/2 square triangle by sewing a 1/2-inch over from my seam for the big 1/2-squqr3 triangle.  About a third through the process, I taped guides on the machine so I didn’t have to mark my squares.  Lesson learned – going to do that from the beginning next time.

Happy Fall – I am hoping for cooler weather here so that this little guy will want to cuddle at night.

 

img_3653

Drawings and Writer’s Block

 

I want to write every day – but today is a day when my head and body are tired.  I want to climb into bed… but I am finding that pushing through is sometimes a better feeling.  Keeping this commitment to myself is important.  So, with writer’s block, I am sharing some things I have drawn recently.  I still have so much to learn, but these simple-line drawings don’t make me sad.  They show a basic competency I never thought I would get to.

img_0006

This is a picture of my stepson as a little one.  He is a very serious pirate.  He is so adorable in this picture.  I regret all the angst I had  wondering if I would fit into their lives.  I knew this was my one shot at any sort of motherhood so I kept impatiently waiting for it to click, to know their love.  It came, obviously.  But I was impatient.  img_3516

This is a picture of my stepdaughter.  She is bad ass.  She is so funny, generous, kind, and tough that I feel my heart expanding.  This was in response to some teasing from her brother.  She didn’t actually stab him.img_0010

This is Toby the kitten cat.  He is the sweetest little soul.  He gives me all of his love and takes years off my life with his cuteness.  He treats my like a mom who will totally spoil him rotten – and I will.  My mom and I were talking about the animals in our lives – the old souls and the new souls.  Annie was my old soul – Toby is a brand new fresh soul – and it is sweet to be so relied on to give him what he needs.  He is my baby. He is the antidote to losing my Annie – when I think of the hole she left, he will jump up to the surface I am nearest and demand attention and love.  And that is perfect.img_0012

This is my sweet stepdaughter getting int the basket that Toby the kitten cat had just vacated.  She is so beautiful – and in this drawing I come close to showing her sweet spirit.

img_3523

Self portrait.  Hard to draw – mentally.  Looking at my face that long was hard – so probably a good thing for me to do.  I drew this soon after I had fake eyelashes installed.  And my eyes aren’t really that green.  And my nose doesn’t exactly look like that.  But my lips are that big.

Obsession

I love purl soho too much.  The gorgeous projects, colors, materials beckon me to a life that is not mine.  Simple, pure, fresh, minimal color palette.  My life is full of complications and color and chaos.  And that is how I like it – for reals.

But I can get lost in the purl soho website.  And I have more than once.  I have banned myself from it.  NO. MORE.  Does that seem excessive?  It probably is, but lets examine the evidence…

It started with this bag…  the wraparound pocket tote.  I love the style of the big pocket on the outside.  I made this as a thank-you gift for a woman at work.

img_3627

It was a challenge.  I powered through and like what I ended up with, but it was a challenge.

And so I made a second of the same tote in the color palette of my life.  And I really, really love it.  The pattern was a lot easier the second time – and very satisfying to make.

img_3626

And now I have a sea of in-progress purl soho projects.

img_3625

Upper Left: A selfish-sewing modular block quilt

Upper Right: An advent calendar with felt pieces.  This one definitely has a deadline.

Lower Right: Letters for my niece.  This is a wonderful project – making an alphabet using purl soho’s amazing felt (you can’t get stuff like this at Joann).

Lower Left: Giant scarf.  Lots of tiny, tiny stitches.  I love the stitching and I am sure I will love the outcome – but this one probably won’t be ready until next fall.

These are just the purl soho WIPs.  Too, too many.  And so I need to play it as it lays.  No more pushing to finish lots.  I am going to do my best to enjoy my stitches, delight in each little finish, and try really darn hard not to start anything new and staying off the purl soho website.  Wish me luck.

No, really, this one

I recently posted the most dope baby boy quilt  have ever made.  In the year of baby boy quilts (5 and counting), the latest one I made has supplanted the previous one in dopeness…

img_3580

I just absolutely love how it turned out.  This quilt is for very special friends, so I used my favorite fabric.. v and co ombre (in navy, lime, mint, gray, yellow, turquoise) and tim holtz dictionary fabric.   I am down to about 7 yards of that and am getting more than a little panicky.

img_3582

I quilted the top and batting together and the tied the backing to the top and batting using Aurifil floss (I am such a name dropper !).  Tying takes so much more time than binding, but I love the effect so much more.  I think the quilts look crisper, drapes better, and seems a bit more modern.  This is probably all just in my imagination, but I like it better – you can’t stop me.

img_3581

I finished this the night before it was mailed.  So my pictures aren’t the best.  But I know I’ll eventually get a gorgeous picture with a gorgeous baby on this quilt (hint, hint).

img_3584

The quilt is a modification of a pattern that is free from purl soho.  I am addicted to purl soho.  More on that later.  If you make piece with the number of 1/2-square triangles you have to make, this pattern is a dream.  And I let go and let the blocks come together “organically”.  That was difficult for me, but the results speak for themselves, I believe.  If I were to write the pattern…

  1.  Get some awesome prints and a ton of v and co ombre
  2. Cut a bunch of squares the same size – I cut 200.*
  3. Use the squares to make 1/2-square triangle blocks s until your eyes bleed.  Or until you have a 2:1 ratio of 1/2 square triangle blocks to squares.
  4. Sew into a 10×12 grid.

* The pattern describes how to make 1/2-square triangles using 2 squares to yield 2 blocks.  I use 2 squares to yield one block because I think it is the only way for me to get my blocks square without spending my life squaring blocks.  BUT I do follow this one tip from Jenny at Missouri Star Quilt.  This method  takes a bit more time, but I think is worth it.  Now all I need is a machine that irons open the seams on 1/2-square triangles without needing me.  I’ll ask for that with my fourth wish.

I sew another seam 1/2 inch from the diagonal seam so I get a little baby block that I can use in a later project.  Because we all know I am not going to use all of those triangle scraps, no matter how much I try to convince myself.

img_3529

I started sewing some of the extra blocks together – pictured above.  To the left of the cat… yes, I know the cat is cute, but there is some sewing in the picture too…yes, to the left of the cat.

img_3624

For the backing, I got some more zoology.  I have spent a lot of hours looking for cute backings for baby boy quilts, and all that searching brought me back to zoology.  I had enough left over from projects to make a tote bag to donate to a local children’s hospital.  Next to it is another safari-type print from a quilt I made several years ago.  So adorable!

img_3623

 

I loved the finished project of this quilt, and so I embark on making one for myself.  I have cut, cut, cut.  Now I am working on the 1/2-square triangles.