Saturday, July 12, 2014

What to work on when you don't want to work on anything

As mentioned in my previous post, life has been chaotic.  There have been some times that I find myself craving the type of self-care that quilting gives me, but feeling completely overwhelmed in my sewing room.  First of all, there is all sorts of home dec project material laying around waiting for me to pick up again, so going into my sewing room feels like an obligation and not a getaway.  Secondly, even if I manage to ignore it and set it all aside, I just have TOO MANY PROJECTS in various stages of completion and I become absolutely flummoxed as to which one to pick up and work on.  And if I begin something new?  I remember again how much I have in progress when I decide I'm done for a while and want to put it away and have all sorts of project boxes already stuffed full.

It's not relaxing, which is what sewing should be.

Finally I decided to bite the bullet and just do "maintenance" work.  Namely, I decided to trim all the bonus HST units I've set aside from various projects.  Actually, not ALL of them, since there are a lot, but all the ones paired with a white rather than black or another color.  This is what was left after about 650 HSTs:

Now they're all nicely pressed and trimmed and ready for use in a project.  I'm thinking a baskets quilt much like this block from 101 Patchwork Patterns:
A number of these in a variety of colors, set on point like this pattern from Quiltmaker, is what I have in mind.

But first to finish other projects ... assuming I have enough time before another move to do so.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

chaos

About a year ago today, I was still dealing with the news that we were going to have to sell the house we'd just purchased and move from Virginia to North Carolina as my husband's company was relocating its executive office employees.  We spent six months in a rental apartment while getting to know the area and finding a new house that suited us, and we closed on our new home in mid-March.  I had some good job interviews and came close to working, but no offers.

Two months after moving in, my husband went into work to be told that his position was being eliminated effective immediately.  Although he negotiated a severance package that leaves us able to make ends meet for the near future, I will be spending the third summer in a row preparing a house for sale and moving.  Obviously, we are both annoyed that they couldn't make this decision before we bought the home.  In the long run, I think it will end up being a good thing, but I won't be able to say for certain until we land elsewhere.

We will most likely return to the Baltimore-Delaware-Philadelphia area to be closer to our kids and family.  We'd really like to sell the house during the summertime when people are relocating before the school season starts, and the market has picked up since we purchased.  Still, we had a lot of plans for this house and have to finish up the things we've started and take the direct route to being ready to list for sale.  My sewing room has not seen any quilting happening, as I've been focused on curtains and other home decor projects instead.  It has been challenging to find the emotional energy to do something fun like quilt, especially if I wonder how long it will be until I can unpack in a new sewing room somewhere again.


Friday, January 3, 2014

Post-Christmas productivity

Christmas has come and gone and I managed to meet all my sewing deadlines on time.  The green and white quilt I featured in November was given to my sister-in-law who had been dropping not-so-subtle hints for some time that she wanted one!

Her husband has been hard at work finishing their basement into a media room with wet bar, home office, gas fireplace and powder room, with lots of green tones, so this was perfect for them.  For my other sister-in-law I whipped up a set of placemats with this easy pattern from Sew Biz called "Set the Table, Mabel!"
And then for my 11-year-old stepdaughter, I bought her a bunk bed set for her two American Girl dolls and made some bedding to match what she likes and has at our house.
I note also that the doll on the top is wearing a pajama set I made her last Christmas (with a matching set for my stepdaughter, each of whom have their first initial appliqued to the white t-shirt in flannel).

As usual, my well-trained family gave me a nice variety of quilter gifts - fat quarters, a half dozen charm packs, a jelly roll, two Accuquilt dies, and Leah Day's Free Motion Quilting Designs book (in print).
Now my husband is off to see his daughters for the weekend (although we just said goodbye to them all Wednesday) and I'm going to have to go through my sewing room, cleaning up from hurriedly-made gifts, putting my gifts away, and deciding what to make with my new goodies.

I do wish my sewing room had better lighting.  It's fine during a sunny day, but there are no ceiling lights and floor lamps only go so far.  We have not yet made progress on finding a new house, but, happily, our old one is under contract, through inspections, and scheduled to go to settlement in mid-January.  So I suppose the next part of getting settled here in Raleigh can move more quickly.  I'd love to find a job soon too, but so far no movement on that front, either with temp agencies or applications.  Frustrating.  More sewing time, I guess.

On the plus side of staying in and nesting, TCM's Star of the Month is my favorite classic film star, Joan Crawford.  Sadly, my DVR only holds three movies before it's full, so today I had to set my alarm for 6 AM to start watching before it tried to record a fourth at 7:15.  Of course, I'll have to make sure there is sufficient room for the start of Season 4 of Downton Abbey beginning Sunday night!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Recent finishes

I'm settling in here pretty well.  I'm still waiting for a call to return to working but am sewing and getting other things done until then.  I've finished two quilt tops - no photos yet - and three quilts.  Nancy Drew was bound and sent off to its new home last week:

I also finished two other quilts that Laura at Star City Stitchery quilted for me:  a green and white jellyroll scrap quilt she did in a Baptist Fan pattern ... 



And my Lily Ashbury Summer House jelly roll quilt that was made from the free pattern that Moda released with Kate Spain's Good Fortune line (you can get the pattern here).  Laura quilted this with a Sunflower pattern she had used on my previous quilt, Spanish Treasure.



The sun really helps the eye see the quilting patterns on these quilts.

In the move I came across those stray Quiltmaker 100 Blocks tester blocks I had made and blogged about as part of my giveaway for Volume 6.  Volume 8 hit the stands this past week, that's how long ago that was!  And I never did anything with those blocks.  Well, the bee I've joined has a box for random blocks - take or give - and I think they will go in there.

The bee meets tonight so I'd better get ready to go.  Just wanted to mention that I'm still here, still sewing.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Inspiration Everywhere

I've jumped right in, both feet first, to life since the move.  As a natural introvert, it's rare for me to schedule lots of things during one week, but last week was that week ... I had four events I considered myself committed to attending, and then my husband squeezed in a fifth.  By yesterday, I was worn out and cut the final one short, and today I didn't even want to get out of my pajamas.  I can't do this when I'm working full time, since leaving the house and engaging with people requires energy, often my sewing time is, for me, time to charge my batteries to full strength.

However, I wanted to do so many of these things.  One was an appointment about getting back to work, one was the local quilt guild meeting, one was my sorority alumnae chapter.  In between those things I ran errands to the post office, worked out, found a couple of local fabric stores, and house hunted with my husband, as well as meeting friends for drinks another night.  For most extroverts, that's a normal life, but for me, that's full speed and can't be sustained for long.

It was good though.  The guild was quite an experience - like walking into a convention center after Star Quilters.  So much going on all around, and an amazing speaker.  I hadn't known who it was going to be when coming in, but in one area I saw a setup with fabric and quilts and thought, "wow, that looks a lot like Paula Nadelstern's work; I wonder who she inspired?"  Well, it WAS Paula Nadelstern, and her presentation was entrancing.  She was funny and candid, and kept me glued to my seat for an hour.  One of the quilts she brought in person was this latest one, called Service for Eight:

I don't know that I could ever take on a project like she works on, despite her assurances that she stinks at math and can't sew very well.  But it was still something that stayed with me.

On Saturday I went to the Nasher Art Museum where one of the exhibitions was on philanthropist Doris Duke's Shangri La and the extensive documentation of her acquistions and construction of the home based upon her inspiration by Islamic art.  The pieces were amazingly intricate, and the photography was breathtaking in its color and texture:

I found myself so inspired by the patterns in the pieces that I wanted to buy the book to be able to design my own quilt based on some of the pieces.  The appliqued tent panels shown here on the dining room wall were particularly amazing, as was her clothing that was on display.  These photos don't even begin to do the designs justice and it was wonderful to be able to examine them close up.


At any rate, my own work hasn't been quite this inspired, but I'm working on it.  I've joined a guild bee which meets tomorrow evening, and then my calendar is quite empty until the weekend.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Move is now imminent

And I will confess:  my stress level is through the roof.  Let's take a look at how things are unfolding, shall we?

This past weekend, my husband and I had a wonderful weekend away at a B&B which was a wedding gift we finally redeemed more than 18 months after the wedding.  It couldn't have been more relaxing.  Then first thing Monday morning, off he went for his work week in Raleigh.

Monday, 9/23:  I took the cat to the vet to be declawed.  No, I didn't want to do this, but he loves shredding carpet and as long as we don't own the place, that is a big no-no.  In the afternoon, I met someone at the dog park who was interested in adopting our big 75-lb anxiety-ridden dog whom we JUST got to believe that we won't abandon him.  I met this person because now we have to abandon him.  Not only would no apartment take a dog as big as him, but he hates being enclosed and would lose it if he couldn't spend a lion's share of every day outside.  Monday evening, the dog park woman emailed to say she probably isn't ready for a dog in her life yet after all.  Sigh.

Tuesday, 9/24:  Picked up the cat from the vet and have been trying to keep him medicated, quiet, and not climbing.  I didn't realize how many things he climbs on in our house until I had to keep him off of them.  He was bleeding when he came out of his carrier too, so cleaning up after him was necessary.  He's been staying in a little storage area with linoleum in our basement and seems groggy but okay.  I also called the movers and got them on the schedule after my husband's company okayed the estimate.  I also got the scanned lease from the apartment company and had to print, sign, scan and return along with an image of my ID and proof of renter's insurance.

Wednesday, 9/25:  Today I've been calling DirecTV, Verizon, Frontier Communications, power company, etc., etc. to get service moved, connected or disconnected as appropriate.  I've been making appointments to see local professionals a last time or to pick up records to take to new people in Raleigh (like my mammogram images).  And I've started making other lists so I don't manage to forget something important.

Thursday, 9/26:  We have a house showing scheduled for 5:30 so my day will be spent cleaning around the animals, then loading them both into the car and disappearing with them for about ninety minutes.  We don't have recycling pickup here so I'll probably also take the garbage can full of glass we recycle up to the one bin about 20 miles away.  I also need to go to the post office to file a whole bunch of mail forwarding orders (don't ask).  Then I'll pack for the weekend.

Friday, 9/27 - Monday 9/30:  Going to my dad's house to spend the weekend with the kids and see my husband again, who will be driving up separately.  I'll have to take both animals with me, since dog doesn't have a new home and cat's healing needs to continue to be monitored.  I'll have to leave the house pristine in case it needs to be shown.  Remind me to take anything my husband might need for another week in hotels in Raleigh, and probably most of the contents of the freezer to keep and prepare at my dad's since we cook big meals there for him and the kids.  The weekend will wind down Monday while I stay an extra day to watch my son play soccer for his middle school varsity team in the afternoon, then a five-hour drive back home with the animals.

Tuesday, 10/1:  This is my day to make sure I have all my ducks in a row before movers come to pack and load.  They'll be doing most of the packing but I still would like to move various things around so they don't get forgotten, and maybe pack a few items myself.  Remember, we're only moving about half the house into the apartment; the rest will stay furnished and staged until it sells. I'll also do all my laundry from the weekend and pack a new bag for the move.  The dog will HAVE to have a place in the shelter (we adopted him from there so they have a guarantee to take him back but haven't had room) or a foster family to go to from here no later than this day or the next.

Wednesday, 10/2:  Movers arrive bright and early.  Thankfully my husband insisted the company pay for the packing so I don't have to do it all again when I just did it all about six months ago.  I will focus on cleaning the place to leave it for an unknown period of time and making sure we don't forget anything, since it's a six-hour round trip to come back for it.  I'm keeping my fingers crossed that my husband can take off work to join me for this day.

Thursday, 10/3:  Movers arrive at apartment in Raleigh, so we'll have to pick up keys before then.  With luck, power and internet will have been activated right on schedule and we'll have both by evening.

Friday, 10/4:  Unpacking and getting settled; DirecTV arrives for installation in the afternoon.  I'll probably have to find a grocery store and unpack the kitchen so we can be cooking by the weekend.

Saturday, 10/5:  The local quilt guild participates in something called "Heritage Day" with an auction and boutique to benefit a local park restoration project, and I'd love to make it there if we're unpacked enough.  I think my cabin fever will be running high by then so if I power through with unpacking we should be good to go enjoy a nice day in our new city.  Come Monday morning, my job search will have to take center stage as I map my return to the land of the productively employed.

I am happy to report that my darling husband made sure to get us an apartment with plenty of space for my own sewing room, which will be part of what is loaded on the truck on Tuesday.  He knows too well that he doesn't want to live with me if I don't have my fabric and machine to turn to when I need to de-stress.  I am also excited to try to attend my first meeting of the local guild later in October.  These things are what I'm looking forward to in order to power through the next week, including the sad farewell to our dog.  With luck, nothing will go horribly awry with the plan.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Guild Round Robin

I had mentioned in my last post that I couldn't post photos of several of the things I'd been doing since they were part of our Guild's Round Robin.  Well, this past Monday night we finally had the great reveal and it was very exciting to see what had become of everyone's quilt blocks, including mine.

I had waited until the very last moment to decide to participate for two reasons:  1) I was uncertain about how my skills would hold up in this very talented and creative group of people, and 2) our upcoming move to Raleigh had no certain date as of the time I had to decide to join.  But my friend Kitty agreed to mail me anything back and forth and encouraged me to participate, so I did.  I threw in this block from my Quiltmaker testing, Pippa Armbrester's "Reflecting Cityscapes" block:

As with all blocks from Quiltmaker's 100 Blocks, it measured 12.5" square unfinished.  I don't do a lot of modern quilting and so I just threw a note into the bag that told the ladies to have fun!  The finished product knocked my socks off:


(This photo is from Susan Kraterfield's blog as she put on the last border and documented her work on the three blocks she put borders on.)  Each added their own note to mine.  First, Kathy Wickham decided it was too early for borders and so she pulled a copy of the magazine and added a building on each end of my block. Victoria Person had it next and decided it looked somewhat art deco and put on the beveled border at the top right area of the block.  Susan worked on it last and built on Victoria's art deco theme.  I love how it turned out.

I don't know what I'll do with it next - it's about the size of a bed pillowcase now but I think I'll turn it into a wall hanging.

I have two quilt tops going to my long arm quilter next week and am working on a few other things so I'll try to post again next week.  Right now we're in a holding pattern - the house is on the market and our lease in Raleigh doesn't start until the end of September, so I'm just enjoying the time off and home alone, getting in as much sewing as I can before the move and my unavoidable return to work.