Saturday, January 31, 2015

Scrappy Saturday

Last year about this time I was inspired by soscrappy's annual rainbow scrap challenge. It took on a life of its' own however, and became my Grandma's Box of Crayons quilt.

I have been looking at what QuiltDivaJulie has planned for her scraps this year and what she's done so far and I have become inspired again. I'm not going to go whole hog the way Julie is but I thought this would be a good way to try to use up some of the cuts of fabric I have that have become too small to put back in the stash. In the end I decided to make Ohio Stars rather than the Sawtooth Star Sampler blocks Soscrappy (I've forgotten her given name!) has designed for us.

The color for January was to be a medium blue. I had a little trouble coming up with scraps that fit that description but I have three blocks that I think qualify. The fourth is a little dark perhaps. My intention is to make three blocks per month for a twin size quilt at the end of the year.That dark block was made early on which is why I've ended up with four blocks this month.

The color for February is pink. I may have a hard time stopping at three blocks again, but just because I have so much pink in my stash!

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Someone Took My Chair!

I use a secretarial chair at my sewing station. It swivels and the seat height is adjustable. I find myself changing the seat height regularly, depending on what I'm doing. Boy was I surprised to see someone else in my chair when I returned to the studio one morning:

She seemed quite comfortable there. I would have expected the movement of the chair to keep her on the floor. Leah frequently jumps up into my lap when I'm sitting in this chair and the various heights don't seem to be an issue for her either.

And in spite of the string pieced cushion I made specifically for her use --

side one

side two

-- she has found yet another place to pass the time while I sew:

Yes, that's a shoe box. I only wear size 6.5 shoes so it's not even a big one! It corrals my shorter strings and the plastic box underneath the shoe box holds longer strings. I don't have a problem with her use of these non traditional dog beds, at least not so far. It's just one of the joys of having a companion animal in the house. :- )

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

African Print Flimsy

Sorry to make you wait so long to see how my latest quilt top turned out. Because it's horizontally oriented it won't fit on my design wall and the rest of the house is too gloomy to get a decent picture. My Dear Husband pinned it up in the living room and used his fancy lighting equipment to photograph it for me. Let's see if I can access those pictures now...

They're probably big files too.

Yippee! Here's the top:

If you look closely you can see I used the same print at the top and bottom edges that went around the panels to build them up to 24" x 32". I used a vertically oriented print down the two sides to get the width I wanted. This will measure about 60" x 80" when it's a finished quilt.

I had just enough half-square triangles and one whole cloth square to make two columns to go down the center of the back of the quilt. Then I cut the rest of the end border print into two pieces and sewed them to each side of the column.

Oh! The picture is upside down!

I still have quite a lot of African print yardage but nothing else from that collection looked good with what I had on the back at that point. I found a batik in my stash that worked but had to add a bit at the top and bottom to allow for long-arm quilting. I'm pretty pleased with the results. There's no hurry that I'm aware of to get this quilted. I don't really feel like messing with binding something this size just yet anyway. My arm and shoulder are feeling better these days but they are not entirely healed by any means. I don't want to do anything that will set back the healing process!

I have a table-runner-type project that I need to tackle next. It's a commission to complete something another quilt maker started. I have cuts of fabric and a handful of blocks but no pattern or notes about the direction she was headed. I do know where the runner will be used and that will help to establish the final dimensions. I'm just hoping that once I finally get inspired this project will take off and be done in a short amount of time. The banner is meant to be installed in time for tulip season around here. Time is rapidly running out!

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Climbing Back Into the Saddle

I felt so well the other morning that I picked up the patches I'd cut a month or more ago for a couple of friendship block requests and sewed the blocks together. Then I moved on to my local guild's current block of the month. I was able to pull nearly all of the necessary patches from my tin of pre-cut squares and triangles.

That was so much fun that I made another one the next day, again nearly all out of pre-cut patches.

I have one project that is hanging over my head but I haven't felt up to tackling it yet. I wanted something fairly simple to piece and sew. Last fall C~ passed a couple of batik panels to me from her stash. I've had quite a stack of African prints taking up space on my shelves; this looked like a good opportunity to get them out and finally do something with them.

The first thing I did was to trim the panels. I did my best to center them but they were printed off kilter on the fabric and have uneven edges to boot. I don't think my brain was quite up to speed yet either!

I put a second framing strip around the panels to bring them up to a size that would make the math easier as I continued to build the quilt top.

Here's a close up of the print I used:

The last couple of days have been spent pressing African prints and cutting them into 8" (finished) half-square triangles. This was not my original plan but I discovered that most of my African prints were only 9 inches wide or rough 9.5" squares. I needed bigger cuts for my original plan.

Now I have a pile of HST's to play with on the design wall.

I was thinking of a strippy set within a horizontal format. We'll just have to see how things develop!

Friday, January 16, 2015

Living With Chemical Sensitivities

I've done it again. Without stepping outside the walls of my home all day yesterday I still managed to run into toxic fumes that have made me ill. This time it was the new Keepsake Quilting catalog that I couldn't resist peeking into. It's much safer for me if I can exercise some self control when those things come and let them air out a day or two before studying the contents. It's rare that I have that much self control however.

The day before yesterday it was my husband who inadvertently brought toxic fumes into my environment. He has a co-worker who wears potent fragrance (a male). Enough of those particles cling to my husband's suit jacket or sweater that it sets me off when he comes home. We learned long ago that it's best for me if he changes his clothes and showers (washing his hair) when he comes home from church before we get close to one another. Apparently he should have done that when he came home from work the other day.

If I expect to be in a toxic environment I can prepare by packing frozen blueberries to eat as soon as I leave that environment. About half a cup makes a huge difference in how violent my reaction will be, depending on what and how long the exposure is. Blueberries make it possible for me to shop locally. I will still have a reaction but generally it's bearable.

I have made changes in my diet that have made it possible for my body to rid itself of  a great deal of the toxins that had accumulated in my organs and tissues. Unfortunately it's probably not possible to get rid of all of it. And every new exposure just retards the process that much more.

Riding this roller coaster of well being and illness is frustrating to say the least. The most bizarre effect in my opinion is that some toxins actually seem to cause changes in my mood, my personality. That's unnerving. Fortunately it's doesn't happen often. Still, it makes me think twice - or three times - before I go anywhere.

Short rides in the car seem to be okay. It's worse during the winter months because I can't use the recirculate feature in the air conditioning/defrost system. Using the air conditioning helps to filter the air coming into the car's interior. When the defrost setting is in play more toxins are allowed in. I can't drive with my carbon filter mask over my nose and mouth for very long because my glasses fog up. My husband has to put gas in my car (I can't tolerate the immediate area in and around a service station) and do the weekly shopping. It's all a balancing act, and sometimes it gets very tiresome. I never know, from one day to the next, how I'm going to be feeling or what I may be able to accomplish. That hasn't helped me to work with more dedication when I do feel good though. I'm still working on that stumbling block. And right now I'm on the lookout for an engaging project that won't set back the healing in my arm and shoulder. Many are tempting but few are suited for my current circumstances!

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

New Year, New Dog, New Look

Hello, my patient friends. The last quarter of last year was difficult. I injured my left shoulder and arm somehow. I think I may have done additional damage before I realized how bad it was so it's taking quite a long time to heal. I did a bit of hand sewing in December but have refrained from all sewing so far during this New Year. I've been tidying up the sewing table the last few days in the hope that I'll be able to get back at it soon.

I also had a sad event in November. Reilly, my canine companion, had developed cataracts and some deafness. Then suddenly his back legs wouldn't support him for any length of time. After a consultation with his veterinarian we decided it was time to send him back to his Maker. I was able to give him one last day of all his favorite things and he passed peacefully. There was a huge hole in my heart though. The Christmas holidays were a welcome diversion. We did try a little dog from one of the local shelters but she wasn't a good match for my lifestyle. I kept looking and found a better match through a rescue organization. Let me introduce you to Leah:

That's the name she came with. So far I haven't been able to call her anything else even though I've tried out several other names. She's a mix of Papillion and Chihuahua and is about four years old. That black spot on her side is perfectly round!

She has already made herself at home in my scrap basket.

We're still learning what her play time preferences are. The oddest thing is that she seems to use the play stance as a relaxed position. She may be hopeful that I'll give her more attention but as often as not she just seems to be resting.

I've never had a dog do that before. She's a delightful companion though, and I love the way her face is marked with touches of brown.

I have a few things I've made that I could show you. I'll save them for another post. But let me share what my good friend C~ made for me for Christmas.

 She knitted the zombie doll from sock yarn and used one of my favorite prints to make a zippered pouch full of goodies for me. All of it makes me smile!

And since I've been away from the blog for so long I decided to take this opportunity to change things up to mark a fresh start. :- )