Friday, June 10, 2011

Moving Day!

I'm moving to a new blog!

Check me out at:

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Pinwheels in progress

Remember all my half square triangles?

Somewhere between class & work, I have managed to make a little progress.

You know the drill, squares into blocks, blocks into rows, rows into...

a finished top! Well, nearly finished, I'm going to add a border of some sort. I'm thinking just white... but maybe something in the corners. What do you think?

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Action! Adventure! Quilting!

My mouth is on fire and my belly is full of som tam and cha yen (spicy papaya salad & Thai iced tea). Pok Pok Noi, a satellite branch of the wildly popular Thai restaurant Pok Pok, has opened up just a 15 min. walk down the street from my apartment. Oh man, it's good stuff! It's about 10 times more expensive than the same food would be in Thailand... but I must admit there's also 100% fewer cockroaches. It was so nice to sit at a table on the sidewalk with my mouth quietly burning as tinny strains of Thai country music poured out from the window beside me. Good times.

Oh, it's nice to be home, and it's nice to have that little taste of nostalgia right up the street, but man my life has been a bit low on action and adventure lately. It's been an ongoing cycle of studying, work, studying, class, studying, laundry, studying, and sleep, occasionally interrupted by an awkward date with an unsuitable gentleman. Livin' la vida aburrida baby!

BUT! That's all about to change. It's summer! Well, it's almost summer, and I've got plans. I decided not to take Spanish 202 this summer, and to just pick it up again in the fall. The up side of this will be a nice long vacation from conjugations, indirect object pronouns and wondering if the table is masculine or feminine. The downside of course will be that when I start classes again I will not remember anything about conjugations, indirect object pronouns, or whether the table is masculine or feminine.

To combat this summer brain-drain I thought I might try to find a Spanish conversation group to meet up with. But last week, an even better opportunity arose. The brother of one of the Spanish teachers at my college came to our class and gave a presentation about Costa Rica... he has a tour agency and organizes educational/cultural tours of Costa Rica for students every year. They stay a few days with local families, spend a day river rafting, take Spanish classes, explore the rain-forest, and visit an indigenous community. Oh yeah... and they spend about half the trip in little cabanas a short walk from white sand beaches on the Caribbean Sea!

I think it took me about 12 seconds to decide that I was going to go. Really all I did was flip through the packet he'd handed out until I found the price, confirmed that it wouldn't put me in debt, then spent the rest of his presentation imagining myself beach-side with an umbrella drink in hand. Yeah. I'm going to Costa Rica this summer. Pura Vida Baby!

I've made peace with the fact that I'm never going to save enough money to be able to buy a house. Travel is a priority in my life and as long as I'm not putting myself in debt to do it, that's what I'll be spending my money on. w00t!

In other news, now that my class is wrapping up, I've started quilting again. Expect a quilting post shortly.

Yay summer!!!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Lots and lots of little squares

I have a love hate relationship with quilting sometimes. At times I really enjoy the mindless & repetitive tasks.... in particular cutting out the pieces and then grouping them by color & size. I love chain piecing, I'll sit there and pin a whole stack of pieces while watching TV then zoom zoom zoom zoom through my sewing machine. Then I snip & stack the pieces, snip & stack, snip & stack. Love it. But then of course at some point in the process I'll realize "good lord, I've got about 25 more steps before I have an actual quilt."

When it comes to handicrafts some people are process oriented -they don't really care how long it takes to finish a particular piece, they just enjoy the process of working on it, and others are product oriented - these are the folks who like to write lists & check things off. I'm probably about about 30% process oriented and 70% product oriented. I enjoy the process up to the point when I'm piecing the top and it starts to get big. Then the desire to have the finished quilt kicks in and I power through to the end.

I'm in the first 30% of my next few quilts at the moment, but don't have much to show yet.

Way back whenever I'd found this "Rachel's Baskets" quilt pattern in a book I think it was called "Relax & Quilt" (pattern by Marti Michell) and wanted to make it for my niece Rachel.

I had a rather healthy stash of calicoes leftover from my first quilt, so I started cutting out little 31/2" squares out of what I had... picked up a few pretty fat quarters and as time went by with this quilt still in the 'someday' stage I'd cut the scraps from my other quilts into 31/2" squares as well.

You can imagine, I ended up with lots and lots and lots of squares. Lots and lots and lots of little squares.

Well 'someday' kept getting pushed back and eventually my little baby niece was much more interested in Hannah Montana than in cutesy, pretty, little girly-girl calicoes. Oh well. I made her another quilt and was left with all these little squares.

Now, I loves me some scrappy quilts, and am currently curled up under my very first calico quilt, but my tastes are changing and I really want to start transitioning my stash more into the batik world. But in order to do that I need to mentally and physically start clearing out some space.

To that end... all these little squares have to go someplace. I've got two ideas in mind.

1. A pink pinwheel quilt... I'm thinking lap-sized (or you know baby-quilt sized if any of my friends would actually have a GIRL for a change - I've made about 9 or 10 baby quilts and all but 1 were for boys!)

2. A calico / white half square triangle quilt something like this one from an appropriately named quilt blog "squares & triangles" :

And to that end I've been making little half square triangles like a mad-woman.

Matching and pinning.

Sewing and snipping.
Flipping and pressing.
Ah... and when you flip 'em and press 'em open you get the wonky little tabs at the corners. I guess I could leave them in, but then the seems would be thicker than necessary... gotta square 'em up.

Snipping and sorting.

So that's what I've been working on. And I'm at the point where I'm getting a weee bit tired of the repetitiveness and thinking "good lord I've got 25 more steps to go!" But I guess it's all part of the process.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Batik Bricks

I finished up Batik Bricks a little while ago.

I didn't do anything fancy with it, just some diagonal quilting, and what is becoming my signature (lazy) straight line quilting in the border. I think it turned out fine. I'm still not okay with the purple, but oh well.

Lesson learned... if I don't love the fabrics, I'm probably not going to love the quilt.

Oh... and in February I finished up this Pirate quilt, and gave it away on Saturday.

Somehow though, I completely forgot to take any pictures of it finished up! I did a thin black inner border, and I can't remember if I did a red outer border... or if I just finished it with red on the back & red binding. Gah... it looked pretty good, can't believe I forgot the finished shot. Oh well.

So I hadn't posted it in February, but it was finished, so that's 3 finished quilts in the first three months of the year. If I keep on this pace, I could conceivably meet the 12 quilts in a year challenge... but I'm not sure how hard I'm going to pursue that.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Stand Up

I'm continuing to play around with art quilts although I'm still somewhat uncomfortable using the term "art" to describe anything I've made. Exuberant Color has done a few posts on Journal Quilts and I very much like the idea of using a smaller format to experiment with techniques or color or whatever. So I think I'm going to start doing more Journal Quilts.

The recent earthquake/tsunami/nuclear catastrophe in Japan has really brought me to tears on several occasions. But what has struck me more than anything has been the Japanese people's calm and determined response. There's been no looting or panicked rioting, just a solid resolve to pick up the pieces and move forward through their overwhelming grief. After looking through some editorial cartoons I was inspired to create something of my own to express what's been happening.

It was kinda weird actually, I'd saved a bit of frayed ribbon from a gift for no good reason - but I think it worked well here. Also, months ago I'd experimented with soaking fabric in salt water, then drying it out just to see what happens. Not surprisingly it creates a kind of interesting white crust, which again... seemed pretty appropriate. I put most of this together last night after work and finished it up today. It seems weird to say I like it considering the subject matter... but I am really pleased with it (despite the wonky embroidery), and intend to do more journal quilts in the future.

Friday, March 4, 2011

I'm still here...

and I have actually been quilting. I've just been so dang busy lately with my new job and taking Spanish classes. Between my commute time and class time and homework time, there's just not a lot of time for much else.

But slowly & surely I've been piecing this - Batik Bricks. Originally I'd bought the red & purple fabrics to make a quilt for a friend but when I showed her another batik quilt she told me that she wasn't really a fan. So much for that - I figured I'd just make it for myself. The thing is... I'm not a huge fan of the color combination.

So I'm going to finish this one up, but I don't know what I'm going to do with it. All I know is I've got to stop making quilts for other people. Or at least I need to make a bunch more for me first.

I was reading on another blog a couple weeks ago about quilts as works of arts or as functional pieces... and in the comments there was a split among the quilters, some who want their quilts used and loved and worn to pieces over a lifetime on beds & couches and others who liked to keep their quilts pristine, see them as works of art & display them proudly, or keep them safely tucked away in closets to look at once in a while. Obviously those are the two extremes, and most people are somewhere in the middle. But personally I'm a use 'em to bits kind of quilter.

But I do also like the artistic aspect of quilting and... my personal confession is that sometimes I take out all of my quilts just to look at them. =)

Ok - back to homework now. Tengo mucho tarea.