Second Monday in January

Good morning, lovelies! Hopefully the new year is still treating you well and you’re making progress on the things that matter most to your heart. This week I’ll be (hopefully) finishing the Cat Lady quilt. The quilting is finished, and it’s trimmed; I just need to get going on the binding and label. I’m thinking I’m going to use the loads of C+S Bluebird scraps I have on-hand from when Denise made a dress for Em out of that fabric, which means I’ll be doing a scrappy binding construction because the scraps are very weird shapes–there’s very little yardage that will work for WOF cutting. BUT…it’s C+S fabric, and I have loads of it that I’ve been trying to sew through for years, so this will make a significant dent.

I had hoped to finish the Cat Lady quilt last week, but geez, what a week! Washington got a lot of snow and ice and rain and it just threw everything off kilter all week long. My kids had a two-hour late start for school four days out of five, the roads were flooding over…you don’t realize how stressed you’re feeling about stuff until you get past it and realize that you’ve been holding your shoulders up to your ears for days. And now we have to deal with rescheduling all the stuff that got cancelled, and adding it on top of all the regularly-scheduled stuff…I just wish that people would let things go when they get cancelled? Like, it’s too bad it didn’t happen, but let’s try again next year, rather than trying to fit it into the next couple of weeks that are already booked? Please? But alas…that’s a rare outcome.

Once the Cat Lady quilt is complete, I’m hoping to start work on Rachel’s birthday gift, and I can’t show you anything about it or she’ll figure out what it is. Which also means I have to clean it up everyday and not leave it lying around on the cutting table or the ironing board. Let’s see if I can actually remember to do that everyday…who else thinks that I’ll forget and Rachel will know what her gift is before it’s even finished? It also just occurred to me that I can’t work on this over the weekend days because she’s somewhat of a constant fixture in my craft room on the days that she’s home. So I guess it will take twice as long to stitch this up because I really will only have two days a week that I can work on this. Awesome.

I’m still working on the Nereid Fingerless Mitts for my bestie, and hopefully will have good news to report on them soon. This “tell people you were making them a gift if you didn’t finish it before Christmas” idea has been the perfect motivation to keep me working on those gifts. It might add extra incentive to get things done before Christmas in future years, too: I’m going to lose that special moment of surprise if it’s not done before Christmas because I’ll have to announce it on the blog. I don’t like doing that. But I do like finishing stuff, and so here we are.

Scrappy Thursday this week is for working on the Clementine Quilt. I don’t know if anyone remembers that I was one of the quilters in the original Clementine Quilters group, but I had to quit because we were moving. I hated quitting, but it was definitely the right call at the time because here we are, four years later, and it’s only now that I have the feasible time to work on it again. Fat Quarter Shop supplied me with the fabric to make the quilt, and I don’t feel right accepting fabric from people and then not using it, so it’s been on my mind ever since that I definitely need to get this completed so I can fulfill the obligation that I signed up for originally.

Update on Marshmallow: He’s doing better than he was. It looked like his hind legs were permanently paralyzed for many days, but in the last three or so days he’s started using them again, somewhat regularly. We changed up his meds the day before that development, so it looks like we’ve hit on a combo that works well for him. Pretty sure he’s gone blind though–he seems to only be responding to sounds, and he runs face first into things a lot. He got pushed down the stairs by Charlotte the other day because he walked near her, which is not a thing he used to do because she’ll bat any cat in the face that gets that close to her. (She’s such a GRUMP.) I feel like I need to set something up that will keep her away from him while I’m gone from the house because I’m afraid I’m going to come home to a murder scene or the like. Sigh.

So yeah, bad weather and geriatric cats…last week was intense. Hopefully things are a lot calmer this week!

Scrappy Thursday: Brickhouse Quilt: Blocks 1-4

It’s always a good thing when you make a goal and you complete the first part of it! I’ve completed the first occurrence of my new “Scrappy Thursdays” goal to work on getting the scrap bins down to a more manageable level each Thursday. This week’s scrappy project in the rotation was the first four blocks of my Brickhouse quilt.

I am really liking this pattern. It uses slightly bigger than I normally use pieces, so it eats up fabric a little better, and the construction is super easy. I’ve decided to use aquas and turquoises for the roofs of my houses, and pinks and reds for the bricks. And then I’m pairing all that with scrappy low-volume prints for the background. It turns out that I was pretty low on skinny red scraps, so I’m actually having to dive into my next-larger bin of scraps for the reds.

I’m thinking I might make multiple Brickhouse quilts this year because I like this pattern so much. House quilts are adorable anyway, so having lots of them would be so cute.

Alright, one Scrappy Thursday down, fifty-one more to go! Anyone else have scrappy goals for this year?

The First Monday in January

CW: Injured cat

I am perpetually in love with new beginnings, and January is the month of new beginnings. Whether you do resolutions or not, there is something motivating and optimistic about the first week of the new year. There’s usually something motivating and optimistic about Mondays as well: What will this new week hold for me? What projects will I make progress on this week? Will I improve this week? Monday is the great big beginning. So the first Monday of the year…very pregnant with possibility.

Em & Nathaniel decided to dye their hair on NYE.

My kids head back to school today, and I head back to normal crafty hours. There’s so much that is great about December and all the Christmas festivities, BUT…they deviate from the normal schedule, and man, have I missed my normal, quiet schedule. I’m really looking forward to getting back into the craft room uninterrupted.

I shared my plans for January in my last post, and today sees me jump into that plan with all my first-Monday-of-the-year enthusiasm. I’ll be dragging out Em’s Cat Lady quilt that I pieced for their sixteenth birthday and then never got around to quilting. My plan is to finish this up before their birthday at the beginning of February, but not give it as a present because you can’t give something as a birthday present twice. My kid is going to be a legal adult in a month. How did we get here? I’ll wax poetic about that closer to their birthday. Hopefully I can get this quilt completely done this week? That’d be great.

This week marks the re-introduction of Scrappy Thursdays into my routine, and I’m excited to finally start working on my #brickhousequilt blocks. I’m aiming to make up the first four of sixteen blocks. I’m really optimistic about my Scrappy Thursdays plan and this pattern; hopefully I can do some epic scrapbusting this year–the situation is getting dire!

As far as handstitching projects go, I’m still slogging away on past due Christmas gifts I didn’t finish up and still can’t show you. (Side note: I’m thinking that if one misses the Christmas deadline for making a gift, that perhaps one should post about said items because secret crafting gets old after a while, and if one posts about the items, there’s a little more peer pressure to finish…but that may just be my thinking…)

I did, however, get a lot of work done on my “car knitting” project because one of my cats, Marshmallow, went to stand up last week and I’m guessing he pinched a nerve in his hips or something, because his back legs suddenly slumped out from beneath him and he started yelling. It was a long day at the curbside emergency veterinarian, and I alternated holding his head in my hand so he’d stay calm, and knitting while he slept or was inside the vet’s office. He was given a diagnosis of severe arthritis, which is very common for the Scottish Fold breed, but I think I’m going to get a second opinion because I don’t think partially-paralyzed hind legs are something you just treat with anti-inflammatories. (I had a partially paralyzed leg for about a week before my back surgery–it’s horrifically painful.) He’s really struggling, and I think he’s going blind, too. He’s a grandpa of a cat, probably about fifteen years old or so, so it’s getting to be that time where we might need to make some sad plans for him.

Nathaniel is pretty upset, and has taken on the role of permanent cat whisperer; he carries Marsh around and helps reset his legs into a standing position so he doesn’t have to drag them behind him. Sigh. Loving another creature sure is painful when it gets near the end of their life. One would almost be tempted to not engage in the practice, were it not for all the funny little memories and cute moments we’ve had over the years.

Not the most uplifting end to a “motivating & optimistic” Monday post, but it’s what’s going on around here and I try to document the whole story. I’ve got a lot of work to do this week, and also try to find a vet that can squeeze Marsh in for a consult. Wish me luck! And I wish you luck with your week and your goals, and I hope all your pets are in splendid health.

3 Ideas for More Organized Quilting in the New Year

I have a nifty little project rotation schedule in my mind that I try to use to work through old projects and not let the scrap bins get out of hand, and it’s just not working. I sat down to figure out what was going wrong, and just decided that I needed to make it work alongside what I want to do, instead of it being the main operating system of my craft room. As I’m sure you’re aware, every new year and month brings up new potential projects that you need to decide if you’re going to pursue or not. New babies, weddings, graduations, a crazy pattern that comes out that NEEDS to be made ASAP because it’s amazing, a new dress because of fifty thousand reasons…there’s just a lot that you can’t plan for, and it wreaks havoc on a system designed to corral the creative madness.

So…Idea #1: Each month will have its “must makes” that I will work on until they’re done, and then the remainder of the month will revert back to my UFO/Project Rotation schedule and I’ll make headway on the projects collecting cobwebs until the month ends. It’s simple, far too simple, but until I wrote it out I couldn’t see it as my solution.

I came up with this idea in October and finetuned and planned it out, but it felt like something was missing, and I finally realized what it was whilst lounging in my bed during the Great December Sickness of 2021–I’m not making enough scrap quilts. At all. The scrap bins no longer close, and I don’t have time for scrap quilts even though I won’t be able to use my craft room by the end of the year if they keep multiplying like they have been, completely unchecked. And then I randomly remembered that I came up with a weird little system for THIS EXACT PROBLEM back in 2019: Scrappy Thursdays.

Scrappy Thursdays were devoted to working on scrap projects and block of the months. It didn’t matter what I was working on outside of Scrappy Thursdays, I’d set it aside and work mostly from the scrap bins for that one day every week. I have four separate storage bins that held the fabric and patterns for four separate projects, and each week had its Project #1, #2, #3, or #4. It was still in experiment form when it dissolved out of my life, but it was a rather successful experiment while it was in progress! I just got really busy with the Blank Quilting ambassador thing and had no extra time for play, which was fine because I was having a lot of fun with all the yummy Blank fabric. Ah, memories…

Idea #2: I’m going to reinstate Scrappy Thursdays in 2021. I’m really looking forward to it. My chaos-loving brain really enjoys the break from my serious “get ‘er done” projects that I work on for the majority of the week, and my “obsessed with productivity” brain loves that I’m making progress on so many different things.

Beautiful Mammoth Flannels being cut for one of next year’s Christmas quilts!

I had another good idea during the Great December Sickness of 2021, which is my Idea #3: Use my leaders and enders for greater Christmas productivity. As in, cut the fabric for the Christmas quilts I want to make for Christmas next year NOW, and use them as my leaders and enders throughout the next year. When it comes time to work on said Christmas quilts at a later date, I’ll already have a ton of the piecing done. I’ve even set up an annual reminder that the week after Christmas is for cutting next year’s leaders and enders!

I’ve got the fabric for two of next year’s Christmas quilts prewashed and in the process of being cut. I have at least one more, if not two more, Christmas quilts I want to make this upcoming year, but no idea what pattern and/or fabric I’m going to use just yet, so obviously can’t precut anything for those quilts.

I’m excited for this extra bit of organization to help things run smoothly in the craft room! Do you have any good tips or tricks for quilty organization? I’d love to hear them! Happy New Year!

Finished: Patchwork Forest Quilt

It is so weird to finish up this surge of Christmas quilts these past few weeks because it’s requiring me to go back and re-read the posts I wrote about them when I started them, and wow. So much has gone on, especially since I started working on the Patchwork Forest Quilt in the autumn of 2019. I randomly decided to jump on the quilt along bandwagon that Amy put on that year, and it was a great experience that I immensely enjoyed. It was a sweeter time: My niece had just been born, I was homeschooling Nathaniel, things had finally settled down after the move up here…it felt like we were really getting ready to live “happily ever after” during that autumn.

I keep talking about this quilt as “the one I made before COVID,” which is weird because there were a couple of other finishes before COVID really got its wheels turning, but this quilt feels like the last one I made before things started getting stressful with keeping an eye on the development of the COVID situation, so in my mind it’s just from “before.”

I had originally planned to big-stitch hand quilt it, but ended up hating the actual work of it and ripped out the hand quilting after a week’s progress. Then Christmas was over and I set it aside to bring back out when Christmas 2020 got closer so I could finish it then…

But I don’t think I had the desire at any point during 2020 to pick it back up to finish for Christmas. Last Christmas is just a fogged-up murmuring in my memory. When I had the thought to maybe try to finish it this year, I almost cried: The desire, ambition, drive in my heart was finally back. We got through Hell and came out on the other side and some things are still relatively the same. When my drive to finish projects dried up towards the end of last year, I knew I was stressed and anxious beyond my max and to leave the crafty side of things alone and just focus on surviving. I’ve been through that particular cycle enough times in my life to know that it’s a temporary adaptation to stressful situations, and I allow it to run its course, knowing that the fabric and the yarn will wait for me to come back. The fabric and the yarn don’t judge. Thank the stars for that.

This quilt is twin-sized (~72″ x 90″), and Renaissance has claimed it temporarily for her bed until I make her requested Christmas quilt. (The plan is to do that in 2022.)

Details:

Pattern: Patchwork Forest Quilt, Pine Hollow version, by Amy Smart of Diary of a Quilter.

Fabric: I used lots of well-loved Christmas scraps, random half-yard purchases, and forgotten Christmas fat quarter bundles for this quilt and had so much fun with the color palette. I absolutely love this quilt. A friend of mine called it the “Hipster Christmas Trees” quilt, and the name stuck; I actually have to go and look up my previous posts to remember what its real name is when I write about it.

Backing: A lovely, thick black and white plaid Mammoth flannel, #SRKF-16943-1 WHITE. This quilt is heavy. It’s amazing.

Quilting: I went beefy with the quilting thread, using Aurifil 12 wt in the top and Aurifil 40 wt in the bobbin, color 2021. I eyeballed straight lines about 2.5 inches apart, and I love the slightly wonky unevenness of the quilting because it matches the slight wonkiness of the tree blocks. I also used black Auriful 12 wt to quilt the black inner border, and then returned to the white Auriful 12 wt to quilt a few lines in the blue outer border. (Note to self: Straight line quilting only with this thread; the machine did NOT want to do a serpentine stitch AT ALL…)

Binding: I decided to do a scrappy binding because 1) I couldn’t decide which fabric to choose for the binding, 2) I don’t think I had enough of anything to do a full binding, and 3) The more wonkiness, the better on this quilt. It was an extension of the fun to randomly piece together the scraps into binding while I watched “A Christmas Story” earlier this week!

Dates: I pieced this in October and November of 2019, and quilted it in December of 2021.

We were busy making epic amounts of Christmas cookies on the day I took pictures of this, and I left it hanging on the couch afterwards. Renaissance was a cookie-making machine; she baked from 8am until 5pm and was absolutely exhausted come dinner. She decided to go to bed at 7:30, happened to see the quilt on the couch as she headed to her room, and wordlessly scooped it up before trudging up the stairs. When we checked on her later, she was out beneath her new quilt, hopefully dreaming sweet Christmas dreams.

Why, Hello, Week of Christmas

Good morning, lovelies! How was your week last week? I’m so glad I took a little break from the online world, it was definitely needed to get things somewhat put back together ’round these parts.

Is it me or does it seem like the blogging community is waking up a bit these days? It seems like no one has blogged in years, and suddenly there’s all of these “coming out of hibernation” posts popping up and oh my goodness, it makes me so happy! My heart loves blogging, first and foremost. Instagram is great and all, but reading through people’s thoughts and decision processes, accompanied by good photography…that is my jam. Give me thought-out content that’s worth my time, not some silly little reel stitched together in fifteen seconds.

My crafty thoughts for this week:

  • I’m really hoping to get the Patchwork Forest quilt done.
  • I don’t think Sew Many Stars will get finished this year, and that’s OK.
  • The “Fair Isle” knitting project won’t get even get started this year.
  • “Stripes” and “Pattern I Don’t Like” are more than halfway done each; I think I can only finish one before Christmas, and I’m paralyzed regarding which one to pick.
  • I am going to bake some Christmas cookies this year, darn it. I had a day set aside last week, but the Universe really conspired against it happening, and by the time I could finally embark upon said baking, I was way too tired to even start. I do have a whole day set aside this week to bake with the kids, though…fingers crossed!
  • I had THE BEST IDEA while I was laying around in my sick bed this month, and I’m excited to share it with you later this week!

I hope you have a fantastic week, friends. Opt for the more restful options and just enjoy this season without taking on the things that stress you out. You’re amazing and strong, and I hope you find some beautiful crafty time to fill your soul.

Well, That Didn’t Go As Planned…

Oh my goodness, you guys, THIS MONTH. I thought I’d head into December all sparkly-eyed about my crafty goals and Christmas, but on November 30 I started getting a headache around lunch, and by dinner I was nauseous and gross, which continued for the rest of the week. It cleared up over the weekend, but meant I was behind on my December plan of action. I redrew my plan, squared my shoulders, and set off into the new week. “So I lost a week,” I told myself, “In ten years it won’t matter, so I’m not going to worry about it anymore.” Woo-hoo to practical reasoning abilities.

In-progress shot of the quilting on the Holiday Patchwork Forest quilt

I hit the ground running on Monday and killed it. I killed Tuesday. Wednesday morning started off with killing it again, but in the hour leading up to lunch my muscles started to ache as I stood to quilt the Holiday Patchwork Forest quilt, which I dismissed as post-workout soreness. I sat down to eat lunch. I realized I was too tired to eat lunch, so I thought I’d just keel over onto the couch and rest for a few minutes. When I woke up twenty minutes later, my face was congested and my throat was scratchy. Michael was working from home that day and he walked into the living room. I looked up at him and said, “I think I’m sick?”

“Congestion and a sore throat?” he asked.

I nodded my head.

“Yeah,” he said, “that’s what I had last week.”

Awesome.

And, whoa, I must have gotten the Super Version of this germ because it knocked me onto my butt and I’ve been in bed all week. I think it’s starting to let up a little, but it also feels like it’s going to take a few days to start feeling totally human again.

So, in the spirit of sanity, I’m going to be missing from the online world a little bit this week. When a mom of four spends two weeks being sick, it really destroys the house, the laundry, the groceries, and the Christmas logistic schedule. I’m going to need this next week to catch up and then I’ll be back.

Wash your hands! Cough into your elbow! Merry Christmas!

Finished: Yuletide Botanica Orange Peel Quilt

Another Christmas quilt is complete! I’m really excited for this beautiful project to be out and usable!

The details:
Pattern: Orange Peel Quilt from Missouri Star Quilt Company
When I received this fabric from Blank Quilting last year, I didn’t want to cut it up too much because the prints were gorgeous, and, lucky me, I had picked up a MSQC Orange Peel template for 10″ squares from the freebie table at my last quilt guild meeting, so I decided to go forward with a super-sized orange peel quilt.
Fabric Collection: “Yuletide Botanica,” by Camelia’s Creation Studio for Blank Quilting, sent to me during my ambassador days in April/May 2020.
Background Fabric: A green with white polka dot print from American Jane’s “Bread ‘n Butter” collection, #21697-19. (Some of you may remember that I made a baby quilt from that collection a few years ago, and a tiny scrap of it was on the floor of my craft room when I received the Yuletide Botanica collection. I picked up the polka dot scrap and set it on the cutting table, and noticed that it paired nicely with the Yuletide Botanica collection. So I did some online shopping and got more. What a complete freak accident of happy circumstances.)
Backing Fabric: A green and white gingham flannel whose selvage disappeared somewhere. This quilt lived on on the TV room couch for a few days and every kid made a beeline for it because they love, love, love the flannel on the back. I’ve been informed that all future quilts should absolutely be backed with flannel.
Quilting: Aurifil 28wt & 50wt in color #2000 “Sand.” I quilted all the straight block lines, and then straight diagonal lines through the centers of the orange peels/footballs. It bugs me that I’m not doing more quilting, but my husband was using the last quilt I finished and he commented that he liked it better than most of my quilts because it was “floppy and not as stiff as the other quilts.” Sooo…I guess it’s fine?
Dates: I pieced this during May of 2020, and quilted/finished it in November 2021.

A funny note about this quilt that is totally a symptom of its times: The pattern has you use interfacing for constructing the orange peels/footballs, and I used medium-ish weight interfacing in this quilt, and realized I’d need to use a heavier weight quilting thread to make sure the quilting could withstand the extra weight of the beefier interfacing. After a few days of mentally berating Past Cara for choosing to go with the heavier interfacing and all the potential problems it could now cause, I finally remembered why I went with the heavier interfacing: I couldn’t find sheer or lightweight interfacing because it was sold out everywhere because people were making masks with it.

I’m making sure to note on quilt labels if they were made during Quarantine, because my historian heart adores facts like that. (I basically make quilt labels for my great grandchildren to read someday.)

This quilt will live on Em’s bed during the holiday season, and seeing how they’re graduating high school this spring, it will welcome them home from college for Christmas Break over the next few years, and that just makes my mother’s heart ache a bit. Hopefully it will be soothing sight.

#craftygoals: December 2021

A new month means some new goals!

I’m hoping to finish the Holiday Patchwork Forest quilt, the Christmas Sew Many Stars quilt, and three secret knitting projects this month, which I will lovingly refer to as “Secret Knitting No. 2: Stripes,” “Secret Knitting No. 3: The Pattern I Don’t Like,” and “Secret Knitting No. 4: Fair Isle.” I probably can’t even show you the yarn for Nos. 2 and 3 because the intended recipients would probably figure them out, but I think I can get away with showing you mystery shots of No. 4 once I get going on it.

November’s #craftygoals were a success! I finished the Fresh Cut Pines quilt for Nathaniel’s bed, finished the Yuletide Botanica orange peel quilt for Emms’ bed (but haven’t done the photo shoot yet, so no finished pictures just yet), and finished up Secret Knitting No. 1: “Rainbow Ombre”.

Whew! Christmas season is always a whirlwind of projects, and I’m thankful for the focus they’re giving me this year while things still feel a little unsettled. It’s good to have projects and it’s good to have goals. I hope you have great success with your goals this month!

Finished: Fresh Cut Pines Quilt

You guys, I finished a thing! Like, completely finished it all on my own! I made a plan to finish a thing and it WORKED. No crazy injury to derail the plans, no pie-in-the-sky wishful scheduling that was impossible to maintain…just realistic, practical planning and showing up to do the work and it made me actually finish a thing. That is a big freakin’ deal to me because finishing things has not been something I’ve excelled at for the past year.

And it’s a Christmas quilt! For my kid! And he loves it! And it’s for Christmas! I love Christmas quilts! I finished a Christmas thing!

The details:
Pattern: “Fresh Cut Pines” from the book, Winter Wonderland, by Sherri Falls of This and That Patterns.
Fabric Collection: “December Magic,” by Emma Leach for Blank Quilting (from my brand ambassador days), paired with some random greens from my stash.
Background Fabric: “Fog” Bella Solids by Moda
Backing Fabric: A fantastic one-inch red buffalo plaid 108″ wide backing made by Windham Fabrics, Style #51462
Quilting: Aurifil 40 wt in Natural White in the needle, and Aurifil 40 wt Red in the bobbin. I quilted straight vertical lines, 2.5″ apart. I now wish I’d done a little more, but I was nervous about quilting my first twin-size quilt and wanted to keep it super simple.
Dates: I pieced this during May & June of 2020 and quilted it this November.

I’ve mentioned before that it is my dream to someday have a Christmas quilt on every bed in my house during the holiday season, and this is the first such quilt towards making that dream a reality. I am extremely, extremely pleased with its completion!