Technological Monkey Wrenches

Do you ever have days where you are reminded about all the ways our technologically enhanced lives can go wrong? And by “reminded” I mean “hit over the head with a 2 x 4″. There’s a lot I love about technology. A lot. Things like connectedness and readily available information, digital cameras and blogging to name a few. iceplant pinkBut when something goes wrong, it usually goes wrong in a catastrophic way. I know hard drives are not meant to last forever. I just keep expecting them to last longer than they do. Fortunately, this time, I had everything backed up. But there have been many hours lost this week to setting up the new desktop. And tweaking Windows 8.1.1. (Can I just say how much I despise Windows 8? It is not an operating system for old school users. It doesn’t think you need to know about your Program Files. In fact, it acts like you’re a five year old playing with your mother’s tablet. Seriously, Microsoft!)

But enough ranting. I’m mostly back to normal on the computer front. The only thing that has saved me is my AMH EPP. Without it, my sanity would be in question right now. Here’s how it looks with four rows sewn together (crunchy, wrinkled paper and all).AMH EPP 1 thru 4Some of you have been asking about a pattern for this. I absolutely plan to write a pattern when I’m finished. It might be a couple months or so before that happens–a terribly long time to wait if you’re in love with this look like I am. So…I will put together a “Getting Started” post for you.

Look for it over the weekend. I’ll include ideas for fabric selections, fussy cutting and the basic information for the components. I’ll also try to remember to include a photo of how I sew my pieces together. I don’t like stitches to show if I can help it. My trick is not to sew them the “correct” way. I do it my way and I like the clean look.Stinka and AMH EPP

If there are any other design tips and hints you would like me to include, just tell me in a comment. I’ll try to incorporate it into the post.

And now, if those pesky monkeys will just stop throwing wrenches…

Color & Texture

Color and texture are everywhere. We’re surrounded by them constantly so it is no surprise we become immune to their beauty. Taking time to closely observe a favorite place or setting can remind you of all the potential inspiration at your disposal.aloe candelabra closeupThe candelabra aloes are blooming at the Zoo. These are a favorite of mine–full of gray green, orange, red and yellow. And of course, spiky texture.aloe leavesWhile my eye is always drawn to the huge of variety of plants at the Zoo, yesterday I focused on the animals. Naturally, there is a lot of brown on display. As you know, brown isn’t my favorite color. However, paying attention to the many different forms of brown was a worthwhile endeavor.guanacoThe guanaco is tinged with a pale tan but it’s the velvety fur on his head that draws my eye. elephantThe elephants seems drab and dull until you notice the russet tone of their sparse hair. As for texture, their hides are a study in themselves.kudu femaleA watchful kudu shows off those deep brown doe eyes and shiny nose to full advantage. And those lashes!hummingbird aloeStill, all that brown beauty doesn’t hold my attention the way a tiny hummingbird can. His iridescent feathers are so small. Every millimeter packed with color.

Even if an abundance of Nature is not at your disposal, you can observe the way light changes the grays of buildings and roadways, or the various patterns of rust and flaking paint. Beauty is all around us. We just have to take the time to notice.

Color Therapy Block #11 And A Bit More

The Color Therapy Block of the Month is almost over. This month Block 11 has the spotlight. The colors for the month are True Red and Chocolate. Red, naturally, is for strength and love. Chocolate grounds and inspires. (Doesn’t it though?)ColorTherapyBlock11I selected Joel Dewbery’s True Color print for the brown. It’s more milk chocolate than dark chocolate. So I picked Tula’s Moonshine print for the red. It brings in a deeper tone and makes the combination work.

Over the past weekend, I managed to spend some time on the AMH EPP project. The first two rows are nearly done being sewn together.R1 and 2 AMH EPPIt’s becoming unwieldy–a sure sign I’m making progress. But it has to be set aside for a bit, as Free Spirit sent me some of Tanya Whelan’s Lulu to play with for Valentine’s. There will even be enough leftover for a February giveaway!

Friday Feline

It’s Friday! Time for a friendly feline post. Stinka's nap timeStinka has been hanging out here a lot lately. I work on my handwork and she snuggles up in one of her spots. Stinka sunworshipperBut she isn’t the only neighbor cat to pay us frequents visits. Pete has been making regular stops morning and evening to check on the gophers (who are causing all kinds of trouble now the ground is soft).Pete on gopher dutyThe weekend promises to be sunny and mild–just perfect for cats. And for me. I’m looking forward to finishing the last of the rows for the AMH EPP project. Maybe I’ll even get to start the final assembly.

Have a happy Friday and a great weekend! See you back here next week with shots of the AMH EPP progress.

Oh So Pretty Violette

It’s hard to keep up with all the new collections. So many great prints come out all the time. But there is one collection shipping right now that is going to make you smile–Amy Butler’s Violette. Click on that link for Amy’s Violette Look Book. AB patchwork bag w succulentsFor me, Violette has been one of those collections that whispers really loudly. “Pick me! Pick me!” I knew the only way to quiet it down was to make a project. So I grabbed Amy’s In Stitches book and settled on the Patchwork Handbag. I pulled my Renaissance Ribbons, chose fabric and set to work.pwork AB bag closeup VioletteThe entire bag (top, bottom and all sides) is quilted as per Amy’s pattern. However, I mixed in a bit of free motion quilting on the main fabric print.pwork AB bag topI love it! It’s a great size for carrying all your essentials. And it makes a pretty change from my boring black throw-it-all-in-there bag.

Whispers are still coming from that stack of Violette, as well as Amy’s True Colors collection (which I love, love, love). So stay tuned for more pretty projects.

In the meantime, if you’re looking to do a bit of stash building, check out Quilt Home’s Daily Specials. There are some really great deals in there. I’ve made several stash building orders recently. At those prices, you can save a bundle on prints for backings or linings. And while you’re shopping, check out the Closeouts. You’ll find excellent prices on some Home Dec weight prints–perfect for bags like Amy’s Patchwork Handbag.

Color Therapy Block 10 and WIP

Color Therapy block #10It’s a little past time for Color Therapy block #10. I should have had this posted last month, but the holidays and all that got in the way. So here it is–a bit late but still beautiful.

The colors for this block were Blue and Almond Pink. I chose these two prints from my Amy Butler stash. The pink is a bit more pink than “almond pink” but it will work nicely with the other prints from previous blocks. And it works perfectly with the blue print from Hapi, so the choice was simple. Only two more blocks to go!

wrist warmer knitI spent a little time with some easy knitting. I made myself a pair of wrist warmers. Just in time for a couple of 77 degree days. But the thermometer is already swinging back to normal, so I’ll be able to put these to good use.AMH EPP row 3And I’m still carving out time to put the rows of AMH EPP together. Here’s a little peek at row three. The further along I get, the more eager I am to quilt this beauty.

The new year is off to a busy start here. While I have ongoing projects, like the EPP quilt top, there many other plans for new projects and stacks of fabric. I know the days will go by quickly, more quickly than I expect. My goal is simple. Do as much as I can and still have fun doing it.

Doesn’t sound too hard, does it?

A Great Start To A New Year

Stinka on MrPs quiltLet’s start the new year off with a bang, shall we? I’ve put together the free pattern for the Parson Gray quilt aka Mr. P’s quilt. I’m calling it Directional. You will be quite pleased, I’m sure, with how easily and quickly it goes together.PGShaman FQYou may recall, it all started with this fabulous Fat Quarter Bundle. This is Shaman by Parson Gray for Free Spirit. I chose Free Spirit’s Designer Solid in Nugray to balance out the yellow/orange/green side of this collection. Then I started thinking about an easy way to showcase some of these prints. Directional Quilt in PG by MpedaI didn’t want it to be a fussy sort of pattern, the kind with lots of fiddly little bits. It needed to be easy enough for a beginner while providing enough room for experienced quilters to experiment and have fun. To keep things easy, I kept the points away from each other. You don’t have to worry about matching points or seams. Directional quilt in sunI practiced free motion quilting using Superior Threads King Tut (Color 902). However, I can easily envision very detailed free motion quilting on the solid–maybe some dense pebbles. And perhaps the prints quilted with vertical zig zags. It’s a great canvas for quilting.Pete on KF Directional QuiltIt’s also a great pattern for Kaffe prints. For the Kaffe version, I swapped out the solid for one of my favorites–Paperweight in purple. No more quiet negative space here. It’s all color, all movement. And again, I practiced free motion quilting.Directional Quilt in KFThese quilts utilized Fat Quarter Bundles. But don’t let that stop you. If a bundle is too much for your fabric budget, you have options. Go together with a couple friends and split the cost three ways. You need a fat quarter bundle with at least 24 prints. The bundle will provide enough for three throw sized quilts. Each of you can choose your own solid or solid substitute and end up with a very different look.

Or, make a scrappy version. Dig through your stash for 24 pieces suitable for strips of 5 1/2″ x 12 1/2″ plus twenty-four 3″ squares. Then select the solid or solid substitute and start cutting. If you really wanted to get serious about stash busting, you could make scrappy “arrows”. Just sew enough pieces together to get your 5 1/2″ x 12 1/2″ rectangle for the “arrow”.

I guess what I’m saying is this…there are lots of options here. So many possibilities, it’s easy to make it your own. Just have fun with it!

The Time Between

Stinka in the sunChristmas has come and gone. The New Year looms before us. This is the time between. The time to pause and reflect before looking forward and planning.

When I look back on this year, I have a hard time processing it all. This year we remodeled the kitchen. I could stop there and be satisfied. However, I did a lot of other things besides. Because I always see the things I haven’t managed to finish, or start, I went back and counted up the things I made this past year. Holy cow!

  • 10 Quilts
  • 5 Quilted Table Toppers
  • 25 Pillows
  • 25 Bags
  • 3 Dresses
  • 2 Chair Covers
  • 1 Afghan
  • 24 Miscellaneous crafty projects
  • 10 Color Therapy Blocks
  • The AMH EPP project
  • The beginning of the Parson Gray EPP project

If that doesn’t put me in my place, I don’t know what will. Time to stop beating myself up about what didn’t happen and be grateful for all that did. Stinka & Mr Ps quiltLooking forward, I see a vast expanse of possibilities. No surprise there. But as I consider both the accomplishments and the possibilities, I become aware of how easily the possibilities fade away when I’m up to my eyeballs in projects. To bring more of the possibilities into reality, I am going to have to do better at carving out time, space and energy. (Which ultimately means saying “no” to some things–a life lesson I never seem to be done learning.)Pete on KF quiltBecause there are new skills to acquire, ideas to translate and lots of things to make. All of which I want to share with you here on the blog. Creative passion is contagious. If there is any one thing I want to be certain of doing in 2015, it is sharing that passion.

By the way, Stinka and Pete are giving you sneak peeks at the two lap quilts I finished this past week. As soon as I put the pattern together, I’ll have more to show you. It’s ridiculously easy to piece and just as easy to turn into a full size quilt.

In the meantime, I hope you find this time between holidays a peaceful one. Don’t beat yourself up over the things that did or didn’t happen in 2014. Look forward with hope to 2015.

Happy Holidays!

Solstice, Christmas, New Year’s….how did we get here?! The next two weeks will be filled with celebrations, making the time pass even more quickly. dewy succulentSo I’m making extra effort to take time for quiet hand sewing during this hectic time of year. Fortunately, my AMH EPP project is at the ready. As you can see, Row 2 is coming together nicely.AMH APP row2During the quiet, I think about priorities. About the things I want to accomplish in 2015. About the things I need to let go and the things I need to keep. Mostly, I think about color and pattern. They fill my life and yet there is always room for more.

I hope your quiet thoughts have some color in them, that you’re finding ways to look back, let go and move forward. Most of all, I’m wishing you a very happy holiday season, filled with love and light.

So It Begins

AMH EPP piecesThe time has come to assemble my AMH EPP project. I started the first row over the weekend. I have many, many small stitches to make before this done, but I cannot tell you just how happy I am with this project.AMH EPP coming togetherI love everything about these flowery stars. Those fussy cut pieces just make me grin from ear to ear. And the jumbled diamond stars are the perfect thing to make your eye pause. AMH EPP up closeIt’s enough to make me giddy–although that could be attributed to the coffee, I suppose. All I know for sure is this project is one of my all time favorites.

As I work on these rows, I’m listening to lute and guitar. Very relaxing and it seems to fit into the Christmas spirit somehow. Maybe it’s the fact that lute music makes me think of medieval halls with hung tapestries, roaring fires, spiced wine and the wandering minstrel.  Very Kingkiller chronicles, that. I’m not sure why I would equate all that with Christmas and Yule but I do.

Do you have music you find especially suited to handwork? Or do you prefer to work in silence?