Friday, January 30, 2009

Not Much to Report On...

I've had so many run-ins with toxins this week that I haven't been able to accomplish much. I find it interesting that I can go along for a period of time without much trouble and then suddenly I spend a whole week practically incapacitated. It does help when I can just stay home, but that's not always possible. Nor is it a guarantee against exposures. It looks like DH is going to have to change his clothes before coming into the house after attending church services on Sundays. Last Sunday he inadvertently made me sick when he came in and greeted me while still wearing his overcoat and suit. The worst part is that I didn't even smell anything on him! Fortunately we have an attached garage - our toxic zone - that he can use for this purpose.

I have managed to make two more birds though. This first one I think I'll keep for myself.

And this one may go to a local friend:

I've also been struggling with the exercises for Jump Start January. Well, working with them. There's a lot of journaling and thinking and trying out new ways of approaching things. It's refreshing and frightening at the same time. I doubt any of this is going to show up in my work in a noticeable way. What I'm hoping for is that the stuff I do behind the scenes will come more easily and in a more organized fashion. I've got to do whatever I can to offset this annoying tendency of chemical intolerance to get in the way!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

And the Winners Are...

I'd say my first-ever give away was a success. Partly because I enjoyed making the little birds so much, and partly because of the warm reception they've had. A sincere "Thank you!" to everyone who participated by visiting my blog and leaving such nice comments.

I considered several options for selecting the winners of the two birds. Because there were so many entries I finally decided to use this random number generator. Saved me from having to copy over a bunch of names or numbers on little scraps of paper!

And now the moment you've all been waiting for...

This little bird will be winging its way to Stacysews:

And this one will be flying off to live with Quiltdivajulie!

Now I've got to catch the other birds and get them into their shipping container for their trip to CreativeKismet, the originator of this exchange and give-away. I meant to do that a couple of days ago but got waylaid by chemical exposures. Getting these little guys to the post office may be an adventure in and of itself. This affliction is teaching me how to ask for help, that's for sure.

Friday, January 23, 2009


I didn't expect such a big response to my give-away! How gratifying :- )

As a result I decided to make a second green bird to give away:

I'll announce the two winners on Sunday. Good luck to everyone who entered! And remember, you have until Saturday at 7 (Pacific time) to put your name in the hat.

I have finished the preemie quilt for January:

Of course I had no more of either of the prints I used in the original Shoo Fly blocks. It was a real challenge to find something else that would work with the existing top. I'm actually pretty happy with the way it turned out. It has an overall red, white, and blue look that I think is very appropriate for this historic month.

See you on Sunday!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Birds of Change Give-Away

What a day! I was afraid I wouldn't be able to tear myself away from the television coverage of the inauguration and subsequent activities to even do this post! But my little flock is ready to take flight, and they are anxious to get underway.

( You should be able to click on this picture for a closer look.)

All the birds are pieced on both sides. For example, this is one side of the yellow bird...

And this is the other side:

Sometimes I used the same fabrics on both sides of the birds, sometimes I didn't. They were made out of my recently re-organized scrap bags (sorted by color). I really had a lot of fun making these.

I knew I wanted to give one bird away on my blog, but which one? After much deliberation I finally decided to hold back this green bird to offer up to one of my blog readers.

Leave a comment - on this post only please! - by Saturday 24 January, 7 pm Pacific Time, and I will enter you in a drawing to win this bird. I'll need to be able to get back to you via email to let you know you're the winner, so be sure to fill out the comment form accurately. :- )

Oh, I almost forgot! There's a list of other blogs giving away Birds of Change over at CreativeKismet. I hope you win the one you want - as long as it isn't also the one I want!

Monday, January 19, 2009

National Day of Service

There's so much going on here in the USA today and tomorrow! In case you've been living in a cave (in which case, how did you get out and find access to the world wide web?!) today is a national holiday in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. and tomorrow is the historic inauguration of our newest President. We have been encouraged to use this as a day of service. To that end Cheri over at Jovaliquilts has invited quilters to work on a quilt that will be donated to the charity of their choice. Unfortunately, I've spent most of the day feeling like I'd drunk too deeply from this cup:

(DD and family gave this to me for Christmas. It was one of my favorite gifts this year.)

I did, however, pull out a small UFO that has been on my mind to turn into a preemie quilt.

The hospital I donate my preemie quilts to wants them to be at least 24" x 30". This top currently measures 26" square. My plan is to make some flying geese units to create borders for what will become the top and bottom of the quilt, thus bringing it up to size. Well, actually it will end up a little bigger than it needs to be but that's okay. So when I'm feeling better this will do double duty as my January preemie quilt and my bit for our national day of service.

I was hoping to post my Birds of Change give-away today because I know it's already the 20th on the other side of the globe. Not happenin'. Tune in again tomorrow, dear reader, to find out how my birds turned out and how you might be able to win one :- )

Thursday, January 15, 2009

It's A Bird!

Come into the birthing room for a sneak peek at one member of my little flock as it makes its way into the world:

It's all so surgical. I even use hemostats to help with the delivery. ;- )

I'll be sending most of my nestlings to Regina at Creative Kismet for the Birds of Change Exchange. Remember to stop by on the 20th though (that's only a few days away!) because I'll be taking applications (via comments) for a new home for one particular winged messenger.

Meanwhile, I thought I'd show you one of the few gifts I made this Christmas. Remember the Dilbert tie I found at the thrift shop? I first showed it in this post. Well, I turned it into a decorative pillow for my sister. Dilbert is one of those cartoons she really identifies with. I didn't think the black and red color scheme would work in her home decor all that well but she loves the pillow. Score!

And the back...

We've received our tasks for week two of Jump Start January. I swear, it's like Diane is holding a mirror up to my face that shows me all the things I've never seen in myself before! Amazing.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Monday Morning...

And it feels like it. I guess I used up all my energy working on my assignments for the next coaching session (which will be done via email). Oh, I also started on my birds for the Birds of Change Exchange. I'm on my fourth version of the pattern I originally drew. One bird turned out particularly dorky. Not sure what I'm going to do with him! You don't get to see pictures until the day of the give-away. Unless I change my mind between now and then ;- )

Hmm... You may not be getting any pictures today. I'm getting error messages when I try to upload photos... Guess Blogger is having a Monday Morning too.

Maybe I'll go make another bird and try again later... or tomorrow. See ya then!

Friday, January 9, 2009

She Ain't Kidding!

We've had one session and already I've had a breakthrough! I'm referring, of course, to the Jump Start January workshop I signed up for with creativity coach Diane Reardon.

I've known about life coaches and creativity coaches for some time now. I just never thought I would ever use one. I didn't think it would be a justifiable expense (can you say "low self esteem?"). Boy, was I ever proved wrong! I feel like a whole new person. A part of me that I thought was defective has been properly diagnosed and I have every expectation of a full recovery. It will require time and effort on my part of course, but the beauty of it is that now that effort will be fun, not a chore! Diane was able to help me open a door that, try as I might, I could never find the key to previously. There's a fresh new breeze ruffling the leaves around the Magpie's Nest. What joy. :- )

I have not done any actual sewing for a couple of days. But I have signed up to participate in the Birds of Change Exchange. Something about that opportunity grabbed my interest and wouldn't let go. Well, obviously the bird theme. I seem to have a thing these days for birds and bird related items. Not birds of prey, but nearly any other kind of bird species. I've always been fascinated by birds but they have really come to the forefront on my consciousness lately. So I guess this exchange seemed appropriate.

The deal is that I will make 5 ornament size birds in the medium of my choice (duh - fabric!), send them to the coordinator, and she will swap them out with birds created by other participants so that eventually I will receive 5 different birds back. I will also be making a 6th bird to give away here on my blog. Not all of the swappers will be participating in this little game, but those who are will be listed on Regina's blog. Mark your calendars for January 20 'cause that's the big day. I'll show you the birds I'm making and you can leave a comment to be entered in the drawing for the give-away. Hope to see you then!

By the way, our immediate area seems to have escaped the brunt of the flooding issues currently plaguing Washington and Oregon. Whew!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Quickie Postcard for Connor

I was over at Beading at the Beach where I read about Connor Bourke. Connor is a young man with brain cancer who likes to collect postcards. Well, I had to get up right then and there and make a postcard for him myself. This is what I made:

The fabric is a print Jason Yenter designed a couple of years ago for In The Beginning and the Western Washington Shop Hop. All I did was lay it over a piece of Peltex and then topstitch/quilt around a few of the framed images. I tried to highlight those that pertain mostly to the area in which we live. The upper right corner needed something though... there was sort of a dead spot there.

I found this charm of a bald eagle, which are native to our area. It wouldn't show up against the colors of the fabric so I scrounged a bit of leafy green print in the blue-green so common around here and voila: eagle swooping through the treetops!

Now to pop it in the mail. If you'd like to send Connor a postcard (commercial or handmade) you can find the address here (it's in the second entry dated Jan. 2).

Monday, January 5, 2009

Old & New

Ha! I finally finished my postcard for December's Take It Further challenge!

This is the one I'm keeping for myself. I wanted to use some of what Paula had sent me so I started with a piece of one of the silks for the base. Then I played around and played around with the bits of embroidery and sequin work that was also in the package. That's one reason this card has been so long in coming. In the end I only used that little gold embroidered sun. I had the bone hand buttons in my stash, along with the heart sequin and the commercial applique wings (which I believe another friend of mine gave me some years ago). So this piece is about the things I've been given and how it makes my heart feel to both give and receive. (I seed beaded the background. It took me about an hour.)

I have my very first TIF card to put a back on and then the set will be complete. A couple of them did not get the Peltex interfacing so they're much more flimsy than the others. I feel pretty good about mastering this particular format (the postcard quilt). The edges are still problematic but I'm not willing to invest much more time and effort into perfecting them.

I will miss Sharon's monthly concept challenges; I found them very stimulating. The ideas were almost more fun to explore than to execute. I wonder what that says about me?

In searching for a way to challenge myself this year I considered a lot of options. For some reason, I could not come up with a set of challenges that would carry on in the same vein as the TIF challenges. Eventually I remembered this box:

It contains textiles I've collected over the last couple of decades. There are embroidered dish towels a neighbor made and used until the embroidery is about the only part of the towel that's still intact. There are small molas, some batik panels, other vintage embroideries... Things I was intrigued by and thought would be fun to incorporate into a quilt someday. (You may be able to see that I labeled the box "Inspiration Pieces.")

Then I was downtown one day and came across these boxes on a clearance table:

They are 14" square and about 3" deep. Perfect for 12" quilt blocks! Except there were only these two boxes and I have enough blocks of various sizes to fill a stack of boxes. I bought 'em anyway, figuring I'd find a way to put them to good use. I mean, you saw how dilapidated that cardboard box was! I finally decided to use the dotted box for my inspiration pieces and the striped box for my orphan blocks. They look so cheerful and inviting on my shelf. :- )

So one of my goals for 2009 is to actually use those inspiration textiles. But I'm not going to try to do one a month. I think that would be asking too much of myself. Instead I will try to work steadily on one piece at a time until it is complete, and let it be whatever it wants to be in terms of size and style. I still wanted a project I could complete once a month though - I like the sense of accomplishment that provides. So I have decided that I will make one preemie quilt per month. And in my ongoing quest to complete old projects, those black and white and pink friendship blocks will get set into a top once and for all. (Notice I didn't say anything about getting them made into an actual quilt?!)

Friday, January 2, 2009

Marin Morrison

This dedicated, courageous young woman passed away this morning at the age of 18. There are lots of touching, heart-rending stories out there on any given day, but it was Marin's story that grabbed my heart and wouldn't let go. Perhaps because I used to swim competitively when I was her age. Not at her level, of course. And I doubt I would have perservered the way she did. When it became obvious that her life would be cut short her one dream was to live long enough to make it to Beijing to swim in the Paralympic games last year. She did it. And she had one last holiday season with her family and friends.

You can read more about Marin here.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy New Year!

Once again, it's hard to believe time has passed and we're into not only a new month but a whole new year. I have some catching up to do before I embark on my new ventures for 2009. My December TIF postcard still has not been stitched, although I feel like I can take a pass because I made this card in response to someone else's generosity:

Paula was doing a clear-out and shared some bits and pieces of old saris from her stash with me. I whipped up the postcard above as a thank you. The yellow center was an orphan block from my stash, about 3" square. I chose it because the hearts on either side of the X speak to me of a generous heart on one side and a grateful heart on the other. After that it was simply a matter of bringing it up to size (4" x 6") and embellishing it. In addition to the bluebird sequin and the flower pot button with ribbon flower I used some short bugle beads to emphsize the lines of the X shape and sequined the dots in the purple polka dot print. Quick and fun :- )

Now I'm trying to incorporate at least a couple of the bits Paula sent me into a postcard that I will keep as part of my collection of TIF challenge responses. So technically I'm making two postcard quilts for the challenge this month.

This is how I've been displaying my postcard quilts:

When I began this challenge a year ago I purchased a small photo album that I thought I would use to store the postcards. Then my second card ended up being so dimensional that it wouldn't fit into the sleeve. That's when I started lining them up along the bookshelf.

A short time ago I went out to look for something to store the postcards in as I don't feel the need to have them on display all the time. I came home with this:

And the cards fit nicely inside:

I'm even thinking of making a special card to affix to the front of the tin as a label. But don't hold your breath!

Since we have DD and family here for the day I will save my plans and goals for another post. In the meantime, let me officially begin this new year by wishing everyone who reads my blog (whether you comment or not ~ hint hint!) a year full of creative energy and the time and resources to make the most of it.