Friday, July 22, 2011

finding time: Hoopla baby quilt

This week has been crazy, but better than I anticipated.  Like I said, we have all three kids here this week, and my Honey and I are still working fulltime with no vacation time taken.  My son's birthday was yesterday, my Honey's brother-in-law came to give my son a guitar lesson Tuesday night, and the rest of the week has been about making dinner, shuttling kids to and from camps while we head to work, enjoying a few hours together each night, and getting everyone to sleep despite the fact that we have no working air conditioning in our upstairs and temperatures have been hovering around 100° each day.   I'll tell you one thing I've learned this week:  if you're looking for a cheap way for adults and kids to have fun bonding, go to the dollar store and buy a can of silly string for each person, then spend fifteen minutes running around the back yard screaming your head off as you try to douse one another in the stuff.

Somewhere I found some time to head into the basement sewing room - which also doesn't have air conditioning but is so far underground and cooled by the main level that it's very comfortable.  I thought I'd pull out the baby quilt project I began a few months ago when I learned that my college boyfriend and his wife - married almost 17 years, I think - were expecting their first child this fall.  When they learned that it was twins, the scope kind of changed.  Now they know that they are twin boys, and I am trying to finish them up.  I used two charm packs of Moda Hoopla and some white dot tone-on-tones, and used a technique blogged about in a tutorial by Monica Solorio-Snow.  I laid them out in two different ways - scrappy and graduated by color - and I think I might make one each way since I can't decide which I prefer:

So what do you think?  These were so easy and fun to whip up that when I laid them out and found out I didn't have enough to make them both in a 5x6 grid, I was excited to get back to make some more!  I'll have to put them together into rows and then a top, then add some borders, and send them off to my longarm quilter with backing.  But do you have a preference as to which layout I should do, or one of each?

Thursday, July 14, 2011

don't force it

As I mentioned in my previous post, my sewing has had to take a back seat to other issues.  Since writing that post, I drove another 600+ miles round trip to attend my aunt's memorial service (including a flat tire), began going through six boxes of my great-aunt's papers, and scheduled my hysterectomy for mid-September.

When I returned home on Sunday, I found that my Block of the Month had arrived for my Civil War Chronicles quilt.  I spent some time cutting fabric before I was sidetracked in a big way.  On Friday, my Honey had called to ask if his youngest daughter and her friend could go through some of my scraps to play with, that they might wrap them around Barbie dolls or something.  I said yes, they could go through the scraps in my scrap drawer, so he pulled it out and put it on the floor for them and left them to it.  Well, there were also sealed, labeled bags of projects in there that they also went through and I opened my drawer Sunday night to a bunch of empty baggies.  I was upset and it turned into a bigger argument than it should have been, especially because both children left our house with what they took.  The friend brought her scraps back and it was nearly a duffel bag full.  I'm still not sure what my Honey's daughter has and hope I'll be able to retrieve the project pieces.  One of the projects was old signature block pieces I'd collected at my son's baby shower and never made the quilt from it, but so many of the women in my family who signed blocks are now dead, and it was just too emotional for me to think of them gone forever.  I tell you, grieving is a b*tch ... it hits you whenever you least expect it.

I managed to squeeze some time in my sewing room Tuesday night and my Honey joined me to watch the All Star game on TV.  But I was not really ready for it and felt like a novice all over again.  First, I got distracted with the cutting for the Civil War blocks for July and cut them too small ... and didn't have enough fabric to fix my mistake.  Then my seams turned out to be way off and the block ended up with some puffy seams where I was trying to stretch and poke things into place. 

I'm reading the moral to this story as "don't force it" ... if you go to sew just to get caught up but aren't ready to focus, your work will end up showing it.

Tomorrow I'm back on the road for the fourth weekend in a row ... my boy turns 11 next week and I'm taking him back to his father's for his birthday party with all of his friends, while I enjoy a small reunion of sorts with my college sorority sisters in downtown Baltimore.  When I return, my Honey's girls will be there for another full week, the first one with all three kids while both of us adults are working.  It will be hectic and I hope the sewing doesn't add to it.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011


I started this blog all gangbusters and have had to let it sit for the past almost-week.  I haven't been back to my sewing room in that time, either.  I put over 900 miles on my car this past weekend and drove through five states.  I had a lovely visit with an old friend and met her adorable infant daughter, and then went right to visit my dying aunt in the hospital and console her overworked and grieving daughter, the same cousin whose husband was killed in January for whom I made the Tool Shed quilt I pictured in an earlier post.  Apparently my aunt had suffered from cancer earlier in her life - which I hadn't known, because my own mother was sick at the time and she hadn't wanted to trouble her further - and it returned with a vengeance.  Her suffering was brief, and she passed away yesterday morning.

My cousin has her hands full.  She drove through the night Friday into Saturday, bringing her mother-in-law and daughter along, and her brother obtained leave from the military to arrive right before my aunt passed, but the house is full of clutter and both of them live at least a thousand miles away.  My aunt's mind was impaired with painkillers by the time we all arrived - she could remember that she had made appointments, but not when exactly - and the hunt for documents or safe deposit box keys is stressful for my cousin.  My aunt's mother is alive but very frail and also lives far away - my cousin cares for her but arranged for a nurse in her absence - and is another source of worry.

Apparently, my aunt's death causes power of attorney over HER aunt to pass to me.  I had no idea, nor what a mess I'm walking into.  It sounded as though my great-aunt (for lack of a better term) has had Alzheimer's for some time, and no one can figure out who the attorney was who handled her will or assets, and my aunt was having a new law firm become involved and my great-aunt moved to a closer facility when she fell ill.  As my great-aunt is no relation of mine - my aunt was my mother's brother's widow - I've met her only a few times in my life, but she and her husband had no children and I worked in the state court system at the time she was redrawing her directives, so I was named second after my aunt. 

If nothing else, this is a good lesson to get your affairs in order and keep them current, I suppose.

On top of that I had my annual GYN exam yesterday.  The doctor confirmed what I've spend the last few years putting off - it's time for a hysterectomy.  Fortunately, it can be done laparoscopically, and will only remove the uterus and cervix (so I will go through menopause naturally later), but it is still surgery and still another item on my plate. 

My Honey left town with his daughters on an impromptu vacation yesterday, which I didn't know about until the night before when I arrived home from my weekend.  On the one hand, it has been more stressful since my son is now here, and I need to make sure he's dropped off and picked up from camp on time, but on the other it's been nice not to have a house full of people to worry about with all the other junk going on.  I would love to find some time to get into my sewing room and relax in front of the machine for a while, and get caught back up with the Farmer's Wife blocks, or work on something else altogether.  Even though it looks like I'll be driving another 750 miles this weekend for the funeral, I'm hoping to find the time somewhere. 

Friday, July 1, 2011

Happy Holiday weekend!

It's Canada day to the north, and Fourth of July weekend here in the States.  Lots of people are gearing up for a long holiday weekend, and I'm no exception.  I'll flip 10,000 miles on my new car this weekend (I got it at the end of January) and we are setting the over/under on weekend mileage at, I think, 1,036.  It will be close.  On the bright side, I will get to see a dear friend for the first time in almost two years - I attended her wedding and she has since had a baby who is now standing and possibly even walking.  I will also visit an aunt in the hospital who has just learned yesterday she has metastasized melanoma and it's terminal.  At the end of the weekend I'll get my son and bring him home with me for the next six weeks (excepting one weekend).

So I'm not taking any sewing projects at all, not even handwork.  Most of the time I'll be seated, I'll be operating a motor vehicle or fully engaged with other people, so the handwork is staying at home.  And this is what currently qualifies as handwork:  my first attempt at hand piecing (which is actually proving to be pretty fun):

At Christmas, my Honey gave me a lot of fabric - three or four different charm packs, and a Moda candy bar pack.  I've been challenging myself to work with them without buying a lot more to go with it.  I loved the colors of the Pure line shown above and couldn't decide what to do.  I did find a collection of four Pure fat quarters on our local shop hop in May, so I pulled out the charm packs and decided to use some templates to cut them and hand piece them.  I was able to cut one of each shape from each 5" square so there was VERY little waste, which I was pleased with.  Now I just have to decide how to put them together.  These Drunkard's Path blocks can go together in SO many variations, and having four predominant colors (white, tan, blue and dark brown) makes it slightly more complicated.  Any thoughts?

I'll enjoy the time off from sewing, because it will make me all the more hungry to jump back into my sewing room next week.  Of course, we'll have three children in the house so I don't know how easy that will be, but my Honey is taking the week off from work so maybe it will be slightly easier than if we were both working full time during the day.

Happy weekend, everyone!  Do you have any sewing plans?