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!

#craftygoals: January 2022

Hello, and a happy new year to you! A new year also means a new month, and that means new crafty goals, which are:

  1. Birthday Gift No. 1 (Because February is the start of Birthday Season here in Brooketopia…)⁠ And this isn’t a birthday “gift” per se, because I’ve already technically given it as a birthday gift to Em for a previous birthday, but it wasn’t totally finished then…and it’s still not finished now. There’s something about your kid turning eighteen and leaving for college in the next year that gets you wanting to clear out any languishing gifts that you were totally supposed to have finished up by now.
  2. Birthday Gift No. 2⁠: A legit new gift for Rachel. I think she’s going to be very pleased with it and I cannot wait to work on it! I won’t be able to show you anything about it until she opens it on her birthday because she’s an active fan of mine on Instagram and checks all my feeds. (Ha ha, Rachel! No sneak peeks here!)
  3. Finish the Mini Charm Chiffon quilt⁠ (I only completed the top for the reveal; it still needs quilting and binding.)
  4. Start the Far Far Away quilt (I am SO EXCITED for this!)⁠
  5. Sew up Blocks 1-4 for the Brick House Scrap quilt⁠ (Scrappy Thursday #1)
  6. Clementine Quilt Month 3 blocks⁠ (Scrappy Thursday #2)
  7. Berry blocks⁠ (Scrappy Thursday #3)
  8. Iron & trim HST leaders & enders⁠ (Scrappy Thursday #4)

December’s #craftygoals: I only got one of the five December crafty goals completed, due to that stupid, stupid bout of illness I had for most of the month, and seeing how my December crafty projects were all tied to Christmassy things, they’re not being carried over into January. They’ll go into hibernation until I either need them for birthday gifts or want to give another go at making them into Christmas gifts. But still, at the end of the day, having only completed the Patchwork Forest quilt is still way better than not completing anything at all, obviously! Goals are awesome.

What goals are you setting for January? Anyone have any neat resolutions for 2022? Whatever they may be, I wish you the best of luck with them!

Oh, my darling Clementine

It’s the twentieth of the month, and, if you’re one of the Clementine Quilt Along contributors, that’s the deadline for submitting photos of this month’s block so that they can be posted on the Fat Quarter Shop’s blog when they do the official release of the new pattern for the month.  Come this month’s release, you will not find my name on the list of bloggers sewing along.

If you’ve been following me on Instagram, I announced that I’m no longer a part of the quilt along due to my husband’s employment relocation that then fell through–we got word we were heading to North Carolina, and a few days later were told, “Yeah, never mind.”  But, the damage had been done: I had submitted my temporary withdrawal from the quilt along, we’d talked to a realtor and started prepping the house to sell, AND, worst of all, I started packing up my craft room.  So when we got the whiplash announcement that the job was not going to happen, it was just more than I could do to unpack everything and reset my craft room.

I will, once everything calms down/we’re settled wherever we’re going to end up, finish the quilt along.  I hope that I can jump back onboard before its official end because it’s a very fun thing to be a part of.  But, if life works out that I finally get to sew again after the quilt along is finished, then I’ll do it then.  It will still be cute even after the official ending date.

My kids are NOT happy about this, but it’s because I said I’d sew up the little cat and dog stuffies that come with the Woof Woof Meow fat quarter bundle once I was FINISHED with the Clementine Quilt.  (Apparently they don’t care about childhood cancer research, meaning that I’ve apparently failed as a parent…although they do think we should donate the one extra stuffed animal to a children’s hospital, so that makes me feel a little better.)

Obviously, things might get super quiet on the blog, but I do plan to come back after all this craziness subsides.  Any guesses where we’ll end up?  There’s been nothing local (except for, you know, that one job that wanted to pay him the same wage he made fifteen years ago when he was freshly out of college…um, no), so all his interviews have been out-of-state, which is…nerve-wracking, exciting, and dreadful all at the same time, ha ha.  It won’t matter much in the long run where we end up–we made Australia work, so we can make staying-in-the-same-country work rather nicely, too, I’m thinking.

I just hope our next house has enough room for a dedicated craft room.

Because I don’t think I can make anything work if I don’t have that.

(First world problem.)

(Whatever; I use my craft room to help raise money for childhood cancer research, yo–I’ll pine for a craft room all I want.)

Hopefully I’ll see you again soon with a new Clementine block, because that would mean we’re settled and all this craziness is done.  Let’s hope extra hard RIGHT NOW.  😉

Clementine Quilt Along Block #2

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It’s Clementine time again!  Woo-hoo!

This month’s block is called “Broken Berries,” and it boasts the nice little perk of using up any accidentally-made flying geese blocks from last month:

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It’s not too late to join up with this fun sew along that will benefit childhood cancer research at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

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There’s a lot of us quilty bloggers participating in the Clementine Quilt Along, and you can check out their second blocks as well:

APRIL OF APRIL ROSENTHAL (@AMROSENTHAL)
BONNIE OF SUNSET FAMILY LIVING (@SUNSETFAMILYLIVING)
CARA OF THAT CRAFTY CARA (@THATCRAFTYCARA) <—THAT’S ME!
CARRIE OF MODA CUTTING TABLE (@MODAFABRICS)
DENISE OF PIECED BRAIN (@PIECEDBRAIN)
ELISE OF ELISE AND EMELIE (@ELISEANDEMELIE)
GINA OF CARPE QUILTIN (@GINA_TELL_CARPEQUILTIN)
HEATHER OF A CREATIVE PURSUIT (@ACREATIVEMAMA)
HILARY OF BY HILARY JORDAN (@BYHILARYJORDAN)
JAN OF COCOA QUILTS (@COCOAQUILTS)
JEN OF HERITAGE THREADS (@HERITAGE.THREADS)
JOANNE OF QUILTS BY JOANNE (@TURTLEQUILTERJO)
KAIRLE OF KAIRLE OAKS HANDCRAFTED GOODNESS (@KAIRLEOAKS)
KENDRA OF GOOD STARTER (@GOOD_STARTER)
KRISTEN OF 3 IN THE NEST (@THREEINTHENESTRALEIGH)
KRISTINA OF CENTER STREET QUILTS (@CENTERSTREETQUILTS)
LEAH OF PONDERINGS FROM MY HEART (@PONDERINGSFROMMYHEART)
MELANIE OF A BIT OF SCRAP STUFF (@MELLIERC)
MELISSA OF HAPPY QUILTING (@HAPPYQUILTINGMC)
PAT OF PAT SLOAN (@QUILTERPATSLOAN)
PAT B. OF LIFE IN THE SCRAPATCH (@SCRAPATCHES)
PATTY OF ELM STREET QUILTS (@ELMSTREETQUILTS)
REBECCA OF ONE WEE BIRD (@ONEWEEBIRD)
SARAH OF 123 QUILT (@123QUILT)
SEEMA OF SSK CRAFT SHOP (@SSKCRAFTSHOP)
SHERRI OF A QUILTING LIFE (@AQUILTINGLIFE)
SONDRA OF OUT OF THE BLUE QUILTS (@SONDRADAVISON)
STEPHANIE OF QUILT ‘N PARTY (@QUILTNPARTY)
TANYA OF TANYA QUILTS IN CO (@TANYAQUILTSINCO)
TERESA OF AUREA’S KITCHEN (@AUREASKITCHEN)
VICKIE OF CROCHETING VIXEN (@CROCHETINGVIXEN)

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Fat Quarter Shop has kitted up fabric for both the top and also for the backing, in April Rosenthal’s newest fabric collection, Mama’s Cottage.

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For more information about the sew along, including this month’s pattern download, you can check Fat Quarter Shop’s Clementine Sew Along landing page.

If you’d like to sew along, Fat Quarter Shop is asking for a $5 donation for each block pattern download, which you can donate here, to help them reach their goal of $40,000 raised to help in the battle against childhood cancers.

Clementine Quilt Along Block #1

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YES!  It’s Clementine Quilt Along time!  Fat Quarter Shop has designed a new block of the month program to help raise funds for childhood cancer research at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

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I signed on to sew along, and here’s my block:

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It’s called “Watermelon Wheel,” and, if I may, I have some advice about putting it together (aka “Don’t Be Dumb Like Cara Was”)

  1.  When you go to sew up the diagonal components of the block, don’t go on auto-pilot and turn them into flying geese, and
  2.  After you re-cut the pieces for the diagonals, CHECK THEIR DIRECTION before starting to sew them, or you may end up with a whole lot of diagonals that go the wrong way.

However, once you finally remember how to sew like a good little sewist, this is a nice little block to make.  It looks great when you’re done, and part of the fun of this particular quilt along is that you’ll make two sizes of each block:

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I think it’s going to look pretty great when it’s all done!

I’m joining other bloggers to get the word out about this great fundraising opportunity, and we’re all sewing up Clementine blocks of our own.  If you’d like to see the other blocks out there, here’s who’s sewing along:

April of April Rosenthal (@amrosenthal)
Bonnie of Sunset Family Living (@sunsetfamilyliving)
Cara of That Crafty Cara (@thatcraftycara) <—that’s me!
Carrie of Moda Cutting Table (@modafabrics)
Denise of Pieced Brain (@piecedbrain)
Elise of Elise and Emelie (@eliseandemelie)
Gina of Carpe Quiltin (@gina_tell_carpequiltin)
Heather of A Creative Pursuit (@acreativemama)
Hilary of By Hilary Jordan (@byhilaryjordan)
Jan of Cocoa Quilts (@cocoaquilts)
Jen of Heritage Threads (@heritage.threads)
Joanne of Quilts by Joanne (@turtlequilterjo)
Kairle of Kairle Oaks Handcrafted Goodness (@kairleoaks)
Kendra of Good Starter (@good_starter)
Kristen of 3 in the Nest (@threeinthenestraleigh)
Kristina of Center Street Quilts (@centerstreetquilts)
Leah of Ponderings from My Heart (@ponderingsfrommyheart)
Melanie of A Bit of Scrap Stuff (@mellierc)
Melissa of Happy Quilting (@happyquiltingmc)
Pat of Pat Sloan (@quilterpatsloan)
Pat B. of Life in the Scrapatch (@scrapatches)
Patty of Elm Street Quilts (@elmstreetquilts)
Rebecca of One Wee Bird (@oneweebird)
Sarah of 123 Quilt (@123quilt)
Seema of SSK Craft Shop (@sskcraftshop)
Sherri of A Quilting Life (@aquiltinglife)
Sondra of Out of the Blue Quilts (@sondradavison)
Stephanie of Quilt ‘n Party (@quiltnparty)
Tanya of Tanya Quilts in CO (@tanyaquiltsinco)
Teresa of Aurea’s Kitchen (@aureaskitchen)
Vickie of Crocheting Vixen (@crochetingvixen)

Fat Quarter Shop has kitted up fabric for both the top and also for the backing, in April Rosenthal’s newest fabric collection, Mama’s Cottage.

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For more information about the sew along, including this month’s pattern download, you can check Fat Quarter Shop’s Clementine Sew Along landing page.

If you’d like to sew along, Fat Quarter Shop is asking for a $5 donation for each block pattern download, which you can donate here, to help them reach their goal of $40,000 raised to help in the battle against childhood cancers.

My “New & Improved” Plan for Battling UFOs and Scraps

Last year I came up with a plan that would allow me to work through more UFOs, whittle down the overflowing scrap baskets in my craft room, and allow me to work, guilt-free, on some new projects.  In the past, I always start the new year with grandiose plans to blast through all of my UFOs, and the white-knuckle willpower would only last about six weeks because the textile world is constantly releasing new fabric, yarn, and pattern collections.  So, I came up with this project rotation:

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The Original Project Schedule

And it worked really well for about six months until I discovered a glitch with my system–I never chose fabric from my stash when it came around to make a “new” project, choosing instead to use new fabric from a new collection that excited me.  The stash was starting to grow faster than normal, and I had this weird reluctance to cut into any of it because it was dear to me.  You don’t buy fabric or yarn with no plan unless you’re really in love, which makes it hard to use said fabric or yarn.  But, as a wise homeschooling parent told me about art lessons with my kids, “Art supplies is meant to be consumed, not conserved.”  The same is true of fabric and yarn.  USE THEM.

Plus, I’ve been noticing a lot of my contemporaries breaking into the pattern market, and they are killin’ it, which made me start wondering if perhaps I should start at least trying to write my own patterns for my use?  I know how patterns work by this point in my creative “career,” and the challenge involved excited me as well.

And then we did some charity blocks in quilt guild and it just made me feel good to make those.

So my project rotation schedule needed a few tweaks:

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And it’s been working WONDERFULLY.  I love the challenge of coming up with my own patterns, and I really love the idea of #everytenthproject being a service project–it’s like paying tithing on my creative abilities, for which I am so grateful to possess.

I kept a spreadsheet detailing my projects for last year, and it really helped me with my stash management and with branching out of my comfort zone:

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(It also alerted me to the fact that I tend to only knit with new yarn, which led to the decision to stop stashing yarn completely…because once it goes into the stash, chances are high that I’ll not be interested in using it EVER after that.  Interesting.)

It worked extremely well until I started sewing again for Fat Quarter Shop–by the very nature of those projects, they are always “new” fabric projects, which very quickly started eating up the next available “new” slots in my plan.  I’ll have to watch out for that this year, and possibly come up with a plan to accommodate those projects–the turnaround time on them is tight, so it’s not possible to actually have a “plan” to include those projects into my schedule.  I might leave them out of the “rotation” altogether, actually, and just enjoy the ride when I’m asked to ride along…because, duh.

Oh, another important note: Babies and weddings don’t have to follow the schedule because they are also impossible to plan around.  I just plug them into the spreadsheet where they belong and then work around them as necessary because I LOVE BABIES AND WEDDINGS.  I’m a gift-crafter at my core.

What I find, though, is that this schedule greatly reduces the chances of acquiring more UFOs.  I’m horrendously distracted by the new-and-shiny, but when I’d start thinking about cutting for or casting on a new project, I’d consult my spreadsheet and see if it could fit into the next category up for grabs.  If it didn’t, I’d tentatively schedule it; but more often than not, when I came up to its turn in the rotation, my excitement for the new pattern would have waned and I could move on to something that had been on my bucket list and would truly bring me pleasure.  I started 2017 with thirty-eight UFOs, finished (or donated or frogged) nine UFOs, and am taking in two new UFOs–that means I now have thirty-one UFOs, which is totally an improvement!  I have never ended a year with less UFOs than I had at the beginning of it.  Feels good.

And now it’s onwards to a productive 2018!  Happy New Year, and may you find a little time each day to move forward on your projects.

clementine-qal-e1504126058289And if you’re looking for an idea for a service project, maybe you want to consider joining Fat Quarter Shop’s Clementine Quilt Along?  I’ve committed to it, and it would be lots of fun to have some more friends quilting along, too!

You can find more information about the Quilt Along by clicking here to visit the Fat Quarter Shop Blog.  Proceeds from this quilt along will benefit St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.