Saturday, December 31, 2016

Quilting Goals and Resolutions for 2017/January

Sandy, from
 Quilting...for the Rest of Us

has chosen the word Balance for us to work our resolutions around this year. She has suggested 2 ways of looking at it...

  • How can your quilty life bring more balance to your life?
  • Do you need to address some imbalance in your quilty life?
To be honest I feel I have it pretty well sorted. I get to sew as much as I like really. My children have all left home, my husband is retired and also very accommodating. He is happy for me to spend as much time as I want in my sewing room stitching away. (at least he doesn't complain) He is very competent in the house and as well as participating in our weekly house cleaning morning he makes lunch most days, tea quite often, does the washing regularly and the shopping. What a man. (No you can't have him.) My biggest imbalance might be that I neglect him and the family when they are home to sew.

I sew for my own pleasure mostly. I donate many of the items that I sew to a group I support "Handmade With Love" whose profits go to Our Rainbow House, a school for disadvantaged children in Zambia. Our group sponsors 2 children as well as supporting the school in other ways. I also sew quilts for special people in my life. All my great nieces and nephews get a quilt when they are born, as well as babies of close friends. I make a quilt for my siblings and their partners when they turn 70 (4 down, 9 to go ) And then there are quilts for random other reasons. (like I wanted to try the pattern).

My biggest lack of balance I suppose is my desire/willingness to try new things. Despite being a quilter of 15 plus years I am still pretty hit and miss with accuracy. Done is better than perfect is a motto I have probably taken too far at times. I have mastered a few new skills over the last couple of years... inserting zips is one and paper piecing another. Perhaps this year I will add button holes... and greater accuracy. I would also like to master the Longarm at our club and use the laser guide on it to do some pantographs. That might have to do me...

Balance out my skill base with 
  1. learning to do button holes
  2. increasing my accuracy
  3. increasing skills on Longarm.
Arghh - what have I done. I hope I can live up to these. I shall not say I will try to do them. I need to remember my word from the last year "DO" From Yoda... Do or Do not, there is no try.

Wish me luck.

Oops posted this without doing the January goals so editing it now

1. Work on En Provence clues as they come out

2. Set up Excel spreadsheet for fabric tracking 2017

3. Complete clue for Charlotte Hawks Mystery quilt "Surrounded By Scraps"

4. Complete 8 blocks for my A to Z challenge this year. (I plan to make a block starting with each letter of the alphabet. Since April is going to be busy and full of travel I need to start NOW) This is going to be my OMG goal

5 Quilt one quilt on the long arm

6. Tidy the craft cupboard

7 Work on one project on my UFO list

Review time... time to review my monthly and yearly goals

The last day of the month and the year. Tomorrow is a sparkly fresh new month and new year. A chance to set some new goals and to start with a fresh sheet of paper.

I started doing monthly goals a few years ago and it came from joining in Sandy from Quilting for the Rest of Us challenge to set some goals for the year. I joined in with very concrete goals and reported in on them regularly and after just a few months I had accomplished all of them so I started setting myself monthly goals and I was away. I have found it a wonderful way of keeping track of what I want to accomplish - by blogging about it I kept myself accountable.

Looking back at my annual goals set back last January I am somewhat ashamed to admit I lost track of these goals somewhat although by default I have accomplished them to a large degree. My goals were

1.Keep my scrap bin emptied/under control - work on doing that monthly Well that didn't happen - not on a monthly basis anyway. For a few months at least I did work on it but then it got away from me and for probably the last half of the year I didn't do it at all and as a result it grew to be a mammoth task. However I determined before Christmas that I would work on it and get it emptied by today and I accomplished that 2 days ago. The basket is empty and all the scraps cut into useful units and put away in the drawers I sort them into

2.Ensure my WIPs/UFOs list on my blog page is up to date. Release any that I am just not going to work on Hmmm well I have tried to do this ie keep them up to date but haven't always succeeded and I just couldn't let any go. I didn't really examine them properly and try. This is the list as of today

3. Continue monitoring my stash - purchasing fabric thoughtfully with purpose.... using an Excell Spreadsheet. I have monitored my purchases and usage all year on the spreadsheet and have regularly reported in on the Sunday Stash Report Linky at Patchwork Times  I mostly purchased "Thoughtfully with a purpose" but have to admit to having a massive blowout when my friend Jodie took me shopping on the Gold Coast in August and took me to 4 patchwork fabric shops several of which were having massive sales. I bought 23m I think it was BUT I have made great inroads into them with my sewing projects since. A lot were used in projects I made for Handmade With Love and the purples I couldn't resist came in so handy with my En Provence quilt.

So really I haven't done too badly.

My word for the year was Do, (From Yoda in Star Wars "Do or Do not, there is no try) It was a repeat from the year before. I have done pretty well this year, completing lots of projects.

As to my December goals

1. Work on En Provence Mystery quilt. I have kept up to date with each clue as it was released. New clue came out yesterday and so far I haven't started but the plan is to work on it this afternoon. I have blogged about each clue here here here and here 

2. Put Stringin 'Em Along together The quilt top is together including the borders. Next step is to make the backing and get it quilted.

3. Complete Potholder Commissions I made my friend Alison 2 more sets of Darlek potholders to give as gifts to friends. I haven't heard how they went down. She was expecting the recipients to be thrilled.

4. Complete secret commission for a friend. This secret commission was to make a bag to carry an ipad in, one that had a strap. I used a kids messenger bag pattern and TARDIS fabric (not all my friends are addicted to Doctor Who, a few of them are boring types. LOL) Her step daughter paid me to make it (well paid Handmade With Love) and gave it to her for Christmas. She was suitably delighted.

5. Make backing for Alison Gibson BOM quilt - quilt DONE. This project was a long time in the making. It was a couple of years from when I watched the Craftsy video till I started making the blocks and then the blocks themselves have sat completed for another year before I got them put together. However this month I pieced the backing and got it quilted and bound. Still have the thread tidying up and the label to go. I haven't come up with a name for it so no label quite yet.

6 Quilt Hexagon quilt. Great intentions came to nothing when the longarm at the club rooms played up. Its going again now so perhaps this next month I will get it done. Unfortunately in the course of dealing with this quilt this month I have come to realise that I don't like it. Its been a lot of work but... its too gaudy for me. Not sure what I am going to do with it now. Blogged about my feelings towards it here

7 Work on Handwork Heritage quilt. I got the borders pieced. Now to get them attached and work on the backing.

How have you gone with your challenges and goals this year? Did you make good progress? Did you abandon them completely? Whatever you achieved I hope it satisfied you and that you are inspired by the new year to go out and accomplish great things... or at least something?

Wishing all my readers all the best for the New Year. May it be a time of progress and satisfaction.

Friday, December 30, 2016

Fitness Friday

Its been a while since I did an FF post. Here it is at last. ... and my last one for 2016. My fitbit was playing up for a week or so and so I lost the ability to accurately report what my steps were. Its getting late now I to be honest I can't be bothered finding where I left my phone to do a report of my days steps since last I did. My Fitbit is now working perfectly and is syncing in fine so I do have the records there.

I haven't made my steps each day this past week. We only did one walk on Christmas Day and I was sick on Wednesday but still.. have managed to keep pretty active. I did get on the scales this morning and was 96.9 despite all the Christmas goodies that have been tempting me and to which I have been yielding. I am glad we have been keeping active. The dogs don't give us much choice. They like the two walks a day and give us lots of reminders that they are ready to go.

Hope you have had a good end to the year. I know many of you are in northern climes and getting out and about in the cold and snow isn't always possible. With us its more about avoiding the heat!

During this mornings walk by the river we were visited by some sulphur crested cockatoos. It was like they were posing for me. They followed us along the river, resting on various trees and logs. It was delightful.

OMG Finish

Now that Christmas is over and presents given and received I can finally post about my secret commission which was my OMG (One Monthly Goal) project.

I had selected making a messenger bag as a carry case for my friend Suzy for Christmas as my OMG. In my original posting when setting my OMG I hadn't at that stage chosen what the pattern would be. I had several different ones to choose from.

My final selection was the "Kid Messenger Bag" by the Merriment Design Company.

Kid messenger bag free pattern and sewing tutorial

I ended up making 3 of them over the course of the month. Whilst waiting for the Doctor Who fabric to arrive I made one out of cat fabric. My friend, for whom I was making the Ipad bag loves Doctor Who but she also adores cats so if the fabric didn't arrive or I stuffed it up then this would do instead. It was also a pattern test. I had plenty of cat type fabric but would only have a little Doctor Who. It worked just fine.

I then made the Doctor Who bag for Bek to give Suzy for Christmas. 

And to top things off I made Bek a Rugrats one. I even got fancy in the end and used magnet clip fasteners.

I used the original bag I had made as my contribution to the Secret Santa at our Christmas Lunch/break up for Handmade With Love. I was so pleased when my friend Di ended up with it. She was just hoping her grand daughter didn't spot it and claim it for herself.

I was really pleased with how my OMG worked out.

Linking up 
 Elm Street Quilts One Monthly Goal.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

WIP Wednesday

This time of year is so busy for many of us. So much has happened in the last week that trying to pull things out from my crowded memories to recall what I have accomplished sewing wise is proving VERY difficult.

I had managed to get a heap done the previous week but with Christmas preparations underway and our daughter here for a couple of weeks, sewing at the machine wasn't a priority!

For some reason my scrap basket was calling to me. It was absolutely overflowing everywhere and one of my 2016 resolutions had been to keep it under control and empty it every month. Believe me when I say that didn't happen. Maybe 2 or 3 months I got it emptied but not for the last 6 months anyway. I had managed to keep it a little tamed this last month or so by digging through it to cut scraps up rather than going to my drawers of already cut up scraps. However I decided to try to make a major assault on it and see how much I could reduce it.

My first step in this process is to iron the contents. This makes them easier to cut up. Pressing seemed to take AGES - several evenings as least. I sorted them as I went into smaller squatter pieces - ones that would fit into a container I had on my ironing board (about 8" x10") These would make squares and bricks as Bonnie Hunter calls them. Then I had a pile (draped over the back of the recliner lounge near my ironing board) of strips - longer pieces of varying widths up to about 6". And then I had a pile for wider pieces. It was all a bit haphazard but helped me get a bit of order.

Then it took a couple of evenings watching various tv specials to get the container of small pieces cut into useful units. I have started on the narrower strips and am perhaps half way through it. Still a lot of cutting to go.

 My cutting table is located behind the big couch in our big room downstairs that used to be the kids toy room and then became the tv room and which I now claim to be my sewing studio that just happens to have the tv and lounges in it. (My claim on the room is disputed when the family is all home). The position of the cutting table means that I can stand and cut and watch tv and not interfere with anyone else's viewing. The ironing board is located behind the recliners so I can stand there and again not interfere with anyone else's viewing.

En Provence, the Bonnie Hunter 2016 Mystery quilt has seen progress. Clue 5 came out sometime on Friday. Usually its 9PM Australian time but this week I think it may have come out a little earlier. Anyway - I looked at it Friday evening and said "Right HST" and didn't do anything more about it till yesterday. I got the 64 made (I blogged about it yesterday here)

Have you managed to get any sewing done this week?

Linking up with 

WIPs on Wednesday

Clue 5 En Provence Mystery

Bonnie's clue 5 came out just a couple of days before Christmas and I've been very busy and other wise engaged and it wasn't till today (Tuesday in Australia) that I have had a chance to get to sew. I did spend a little time on Christmas Day pinwheeling my purple 4 patches from clue 3. The rest of the family were playing a board game and wanted me to stay near them even if I wasn't going to play. So... I enjoyed their company whilst unpicking the little stitches to enable the centre seams to pinwheel. Later whilst watching tv during the evening I pressed them.

In making the half triangles this week I used a variety of techniques, depending on the size of the scraps I was using. Some I made using the 4 at a time method, some 2 at a time and a couple I cut the triangles and so made them one at a time. Once again my accuracy has wobbled about and my sizes have varied a little bit. Still... they are looking pretty good.

How have you gone with Clue 5? Are you keeping up with the clues as they come out?

Linking with

Friday, December 23, 2016

A quandry

Have you ever got to the end of a major project, one that you have invested so much time and effort into not to mention money and realised that ... Nope, you just don't like it.

This happened to me today. Last year I worked hard on a hand pieced hexagon quilt. It took ages. Its all hand done. It was a huge undertaking. 

Its massive. Last week I was going to set it up on our club's long arm and get it quilted cause no, I wasn't going to hand quilt it as well. I miscalculated the batting and hadn't taken enough up with me so instead I quilted another quilt that I did have the required batting for but in spreading it out I started getting an inkling as to why perhaps I hadn't finished this special undertaking. I didn't really like it.

Its really special... I know that. Its scrappy and I designed it as a picture of a flower garden. I used up heaps of my scrap fabrics and when I look at the fabrics in it I recall lots of projects I have worked on over the years. It truly is a memory quilt. And its HUGE... did I mention that? I made it to resemble, supposedly a flower garden. There is sky and clouds up the top and grass at the bottom. Its big enough for a queen bed.

BUT... I just don't really like it. I don't know what I will do with it. I will finish it. That is for sure but then what.... I could put it in my spare room. I already have a quilt on the bed there but I could alternate them.

Fangirl has told me I'm not to give it to her. Her opinion of it resembles mine... I told her the quilt looked like clown vomit.... or perhaps that should be clown in a blender. Its a riot of colour. If it were smaller I could have used it as a wall hanging ... somewhere.... maybe. Fangirl has also told me I can't give it to her brother. She likes his girlfriend too much to inflict it on her.

Her (Fangirl) suggestion was that I give it to someone special, who I don't really like. Cheeky wretch. To be fair, she didn't say anything about the quilt till I made a number of derogatory comments about it first. I told her the clown comparison before I opened it up.

Its disappointing to not like something. I designed it myself so that makes it even worse somehow.

I like it from the back with the light coming through it better

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

WIP Wednesday

I've had a busy few days sewing this week.

Last week Charlotte Hawkes released the cutting instructions for her mystery quilt that begins in January. I got it all cut over the weekend. Its called "Surrounded By Scraps" and you can find details here if you would like to join in.

The 4th clue in En Provence, the Bonnie Hunter mystery quilt for 2016 came out on Friday - very late in Australia so I didn't even look at it till Saturday but had no chance to work on it till Monday. I blogged about it here 

Today at Patchwork group, between having a super yummy morning tea and lunch to celebrate Christmas, I worked on the piano key border for Handwork Heritage. I got the borders done - there is oodles of it. I got a bit carried away.

I also worked on "Stringen Em Along", my Bonnie Hunter String X quilt. I got the borders on it - I went with the same fabric I'd used as my background. And then I made the binding. I decided on a scrappy border. I might have gone with a binding in the lavender background fabric if I'd had any of it left but I'd used it all up. Again I went a little crazy and I think I will have enough binding fabric for a couple of quilts!!

Just yesterday I heard that my niece is having another baby, due in May. This will be the 3rd grandbaby in just over a year for my sister and followed on 3 weddings in 6 months - they overlapped somewhat. Given that she only has 4 children that was good going. The single childless sibling is not feeling any pressure to join the club!!

Anyway - my baby quilt choice this year has been the sparkle quilt pattern from Missouri Star quilt company. I had some left over pieces and so this evening I have been working on making a quilt for the expected bub. I have the 9 star blocks made and working on the off setting borders now.

I also worked on the Craftsy BOM quilt that I have been working on - the Amy Gibson one (2012 I think) I didn't start it in 2012 but it has been a long slow cooker one. Anyway. I finished off the quilting on my domestic machine and got the binding on. Still have to do the label but since I haven't come up with a special name for it nor a place for it to go I am not in a hurry to do that. (No photos yet... perhaps for Stash report on Sunday)

Hope you have made some progress on your projects this week if that is what you have wanted to do. But maybe you have been prepping for Christmas not sewing. Whatever you have been doing I hope you have enjoyed it.

Linking up with 

WIPs on Wednesday

Monday, December 19, 2016

Midmonth Update on my Monthly goals

1. Work on Handwork Heritage. I have started on the borders for this. There are lots of 5" bits being sewn together! Not sure if I will have enough or will need to cut some more.

2. Make Backing for Amy Gibson's BOM quilt. This is DONE. 

I have also started to quilt it. Nearly got it finished on the longarm at the club when it started to play up and I was unable to complete it. I will do the remaining 9" on my domestic machine.

3. Complete Darlek Potholders commissioned by friend. DONE

4. Secret Commission for a friend. DONE since its a Christmas present that has yet to be given I can't show you yet... sorry

5. En Provence Mystery Quilt. I am up to date with all the clues released so far. The first one was released Nov 25th and  new one is released each Friday in December (although its about 11pm Australian time so I get it Saturday morning). I have almost completed each one... still have to spin the centre seams of last weeks 4 patches and trim this week's blocks 

6 Quilting my hexagon quilt (hoping to line my friend Lyndi up one day next week to help get that done) - the Longarm at the club broke down so that put a stop to it. Its working again now but with only 6 days till Christmas it might not be a priority for any of us.

7 Assemble "Stingin Em Along."  DONE

So the only one I haven't made progress on is the hexagon quilt and I unlikely to - unless Lyndi and I need to escape the madness of our houses over Christmas New Year.

How are you going with your goals this month?