Friday, October 18, 2013

quilt blocks, assembly line style

Some of my blocks here are getting so close to being done that it's almost painful. I'm getting excited to reach the end of the piecing process and turn this into a quilt. I'm going to have a very happy niece when either Christmas or, more likely her birthday rolls around.

The last times you've seen any progress on this I was just beginning, and plotting possibly adding some additional colours into the scheme, and then my last online purchase I showed off the new purple solids that I'm incorporating. Since then a lot has happened with this baby.

things looked a lot like this last time
The finished blocks are 12" square, and I'll need 35 of them total. Thus far the first 32 are in progress. The last couple blocks are going to be a little different - I'll reverse the colours a little, and use some more black on black prints for the main component. Working with such a small selection of fabrics has definitely made it clear that in my next projects I want to have a lot more variety of prints and patterns, even if I use a monochromatic colour scheme. Which is why I've starting shopping to stash fabric for future use - it's harder buying for a particular project than going out and buying a handful of kickass purple prints and choosing between things I already love.

so many blocks in progress
I've marked so many seams
I've also driven myself a little nuts with some sloppy mistakes. Matching the wrong colours together has made me need to pull out the seam ripper more than once lately.

can you spot the mistake?
I've still got several steps and seams to sew before the blocks are complete, but I'm reaching the point where an end is actually in sight. Of course once the blocks are made then there's the sashing to do, and after that I'll have to quilt the beast. Which I've actually got somewhat planned, actually.

I'm puttering my way along to the end and am getting super excited to start my next couple of projects. There's a log cabin planned to match my Scrappy Trip, and then there's the flying geese that I've been collecting fabrics for.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

review: the black prism

It's been awhile since I've had some new reads that I've been excited about, but thankfully (for my sanity) I seem to be back in the groove again. I really can't believe that the last book I was excited about was back in July. There had been a few stops and starts since then, and after which I just reverted to re-reading some trusty old favourites until I stumbled upon a copy of Brent Weeks' The Black Prism in the sale bin at Coles.

I'm so so glad I picked this baby up. My review can best be summed up with the fact that I stayed up till 3am last night reading partway through the sequel, and only crawled into bed because my eyes got bleary. This is page-turning fantasy at its finest.

The world Weeks builds is vibrant and well thought out, a big selling point for me in fantasy. He touches on every aspect: history, culture, government, religion, geography and winds it into a cohesive whole. His magic system, which is quite literally colour as magic, is brilliant. With all the thinking my quilting has me doing lately about colour theory this fits perfectly into my current headspace.

The Black Prism is the first in a planned series of four books, and focuses mainly on the brothers Gavin and Dazen Guile, and the aftermath of a world they had thrown into war in their struggle for power. At times I wondered if the book was itself a sequel, as Weeks so often referenced the recent past. The brothers are complex and morally challenging characters, who embody that slippery slope of grey between good an evil. The rest of the main cast of characters is equally compelling, from Kip the bastard child in a backwater village, to Karris the woman both brothers loved at one time, to Commander Ironfist of the Blackguard.

There's so much I'd like to say, but Weeks has so many big reveals throughout the book that I don't want to ruin anything. The best advice I can give you is to buy the sequel at the same time you pick this up. You'll save yourself a trip to the bookstore.

Monday, October 14, 2013

brick and mortar fabric shopping

The other week Bunny decided that he needed to go buy some outdoorsy things at Le Baron in Mississauga, which is a bit of a drive, and asked me if I wanted to come with. A day in a car with Bunny is better than a day at home without him, so of course I said sure. Then my little brain started percolating. If we were heading in a southward direction to begin with it seemed like maybe, just maybe, I should make him take me to a quilt shop in Toronto that I'd been eyeing for awhile. I'd have to amuse myself in a camping store, so why not have him amuse himself in a fabric store for a spell as well?

It was a good call, because I couldn't have been happier with our experience at the Sew Sisters Quilt Shop. It didn't take more than a moment or two after walking in to be greeted and given a general overview of where things were, after which Bunny was swiftly offered a chair. He jokingly also requested a beer and a hunting magazine ... and well, what do you know?

somehow this is the only picture we took
Somehow this was the only picture that was taken while we were there, because I was too busy oohing and aaahing and trying to make up my mind about what to buy because it was all so pretty. The selection definitely appeals to a mix of quilters, I think, not focusing too heavily on any one idea. There were lots of basics, lots of Kona solids, batiks, 30's prints and some nice modern fabrics. There were a few prints I was kind of hoping they'd have but wasn't expecting to see but I definitely was happy with the bits of stashy goodness I brought home.

I was shopping with a purpose: masculine reds and blues for my brother. I've got his quilt mostly planned, and I've decided I'm doing very scrappy flying geese. I think I did pretty ok - I got two half metres that I'm quite happy with, seven fat quarters and a remnant.

In the back is a little remnant from Once Upon a Storybook - .2 of a metre for $1.40 so I just couldn't pass that up. Then there's three fat quarters that were on sale for $1.75. None of them have selvedge, so I'm not really sure what I have there but they all work within my palette. Then I picked up fat quarters of Sketch in red and blue, and as well as Stockholm Hexagons. I prefer buying larger cuts, really, but knowing the project these are intended for a fat quarter was enough. The half metre cut on the bottom is Lost and Found by Riley Blake - on sale! Then there's the red cobblestone fabric, which is Red Glass from Light Fantastic.

Speaking of that line, you might notice one fabric up there that's just a little out of place. It was so pretty I just could not resist coming home with it.

it needs some ironing, and a plan
This beauty is also from Light Fantastic, simply called Butterflies Purple and I'm in love. I almost wish I'd bought more it's so yummy I just don't know what I'm going to do with it. The collection has this wonderful stained glass look and I just want to eat it up and snuggle it and maybe roll around naked in it. Oh wait, what? It's really pretty, and I simply had to bring some home, even if I don't have a plan.

These reds and blues together with what I picked up in my last spree from the Fat Quarter Shop, I may finally have enough masculine reds to tackle a my brother's quilt at some point soon, though I'll need to pick up more solids. Which maybe means next time I buy fabric I can start rounding out some of the other colours in my stash ... or buying more fabrics for the eventual bedroom quilt.

Friday, October 11, 2013

old dog, new trick

When Bunny and I got together Jethro had just exited his puppy stage, and was pretty much trained. Oh, he still doesn't heel as perfectly as I'd like him to, but he can do all the basics and he's got his obedience down. I still remember Bunny showing off the first night we spent together making Jethro run around in circles and sit up and lay down over and over again on command.

So I never really got to teach the little guy anything. And at this point, he's well into his middle age. But there's one thing our very well behaved dog doesn't do that I'd always wanted to see: balance a treat on his nose. Clearly it was time for me to set out teaching him how to do that.

It took about a week to learn the basic, and now after a month of practice this dog has it down. He can leave the treat on his nose for a full minute. When I'm not watching him, even. I can leave the room and he'll do his trick. The hardest part was actually coming up with a command (we use "hold" for the verbal command, and a single raised finger for the hand signal).

he can even pose for pictures!

Just in the past week he's started to really get the best part of the trick down, the bit that's just too cute for words ... getting the treat right in his mouth when I release him. Mostly he'd just been flicking his head backwards and sending the treat flying which has the added benefit of letting me get to it first if he hadn't held the pose long enough. He's started to figure out the exact motion that lets it land directly on his tongue now, which is my favourite.

He also hates this trick. I get the biggest, saddest puppy dog eyes when I make him do this, and he tries to refuse to give me his nose when I'm setting him up for it.

see the stink eye? well ok it's just the flash, but he hates this

It's also just gratuitously cute. So there's that.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Q4 Finish A Long Goals

Two posts in one week? And both about sewing? Do I maybe just need to make a quilting blog? Decisions don't need to be made all at once. (There's also maybe a sewing post or two that's due for next week ... so warnings in advance if the sewing stuff isn't your cup of tea).

Since participating in the last quarter of the Finish-A-Long was so much fun (and I got to see so many beautiful quilts!) clearly I'm going to have to have another go around this time. Q4 is a bit ambitious for me as I'm really not sure that I'm on track to get anything done completely but setting a goal or two never hurt anyone.

1 - Cameron's Quilt

First off on the list is the quilt for my niece. This is the project du jour, really. I'm working on it pretty much on a daily basis, and I have almost all of the blocks at some stage of in progress.

excusing the crummy ironing board, here's a sneak peak
I've actually come a fairly long way since this picture was taken, and I do have an update planned to share for you soon. Just need to actually get the pictures off the phone and onto the computer.

Optimistically I'd like it done for Christmas. Which - three months? I'd like to say it will be done by then, but there's a long way to go and it's a biggie so we'll see. Realistically I expect it to be done by her birthday in February.

2 - Pillow Covers

I probably won't make much progress on this, as it's not a focus of mine, but hey it doesn't hurt to put on the list. Eventually these blocks will end up as pillow covers to co-ordinate with the Scrappy Trip I finished last month, but they're not serious sewing. I'm just using leftover scraps and backing fabric to make them and mostly they only get worked on when I'm testing new bits for new blocks. Right now I'm testing out some flying geese, so they are still slowly growing.
I feel a bit silly setting two goals and not really feelings that I'm likely to accomplish either, but hey, I'd rather aim high and "fail" than not even try!

she can quilt

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

New Pants!

I gave in and bought new pants over the weekend. (And I did much more fun shopping, but you'll hear about that later.)

These pants are a big deal, kind of. Because I've put on weight in the past year, but am still smaller than I've been most of my adult life. And the weight that I lost in the misery of last year wasn't really sustainable and putting on ten pounds is really just the result of having my appetite back after a long stretch of being very stressed out.

These were pants I resisted buying. I kept telling myself that I could either lose ten pounds or gain ten pounds - it didn't matter which - but I wasn't buying new pants. So I felt crummy because my body didn't fit my clothes. Then I looked crummy because I was wearing clothes that were cheap and awful and didn't quite fit. I know better than that, really. I like feeling pretty and clothes that fit are a part of that. Vain? Maybe, but I'm ok with that touch of vanity.

This whole not buying new pants thing was starting to make me miserable with my body. I don't really like pants, but I feel ok in skinny jeans, and I didn't have skinny jeans that I could zip up. Having awful oversized, falling off clothes made me feel awful.

So this weekend there was a sale at Bluenotes and we were in Square One. I tried on some pants and said screw it. I'm buying new pants. And it's amazing, even though I should have known, what having pants that fit does to me. I feel like me again.

Sunday, October 06, 2013

Finish-A-Long Quarter 3 Results

Boy do three months ever go by quickly. It's amazing looking back to see both what does, and doesn't, get accomplished in that time period. Back when I was setting my goals, I had a pretty good feel that I would only actually get one out of the three done, and I was right. What can I say? My process is slow. Until I hurry up and get myself a sewing machine I'm never going to manage speedy finishes, and "buy a house" by necessity comes first, seeing as I have nowhere to put said machine right now. (Seriously, my fabric lives in shopping bags in a corner of the dining room. I iron on a half sized board that alternates living on the freezer, and on an unused portable toilet. I sew sitting in bed. I have no space for a machine.)

All that being said I'm very pleased with my progress on the projects thus far. Of my three original goals I managed to finish up my Scrappy Trip Around the World quilt.

the quilt in its typical use

It's gorgeous, it's riotously bright and colourful, I snuggle up with it nightly and Bunny and I are both thrilled with it. It taught me a lot, primarily that I'd like to say "I'll never use Walmart fabrics again", because really? they are not easy fabrics to sew and all the prints in the same line have different weights. The fact is I'm planning on making a co-ordinating log cabin quilt so we can have a somewhat matched pair of living room snuggle quilts.

always cuter on the dog!

That's my only finish and I'm quite ok with that. The pillow covers are still sitting pretty much incomplete. I've been using those same crummy Walmart fabrics to test out blocks for upcoming projects, and so they're growing bit by bit. I'm doing bits and pieces that slowly grow those, but I really didn't expect to finish them anytime soon, so I'm ok with that.

As far as my niece's quilt ... well it's progressing. I need thirty five blocks, and I have about thirty in various stages of completion. I knew from the get go that this would be a stretch to even have the top finished, and I was right.

Really I'm quite happy with my progress. I got my must complete item done and am toddling along on everything else. It was as much as I could have really expected.

Linking up to the FAL over at She Can Quilt.

she can quilt

Friday, October 04, 2013

reading recommendations

Can someone please tell me why I've never heard of Brent Weeks before I picked up a book of his from the bargain pile the other month? Because dude is a fantastic fantasy writer, and apparently just what I needed to pull me out of my reading funk. And he's written so many books. There's a back catalogue I can go explore! Wee!

Thursday, October 03, 2013


The end of the whirlwind has come and it's crazy to think. My friends are married! And suddenly I have what feels like bundles of extra time - and the bride was really super reasonable and very upfront about her expectations, so I wasn't even all that drained. I guess it's just nice to have social time be catching up/hanging out with friends and not worrying about inter-city buses almost every weekend. But last weekend was so much fun I really can't complain.

All in all, I have my time back but am just struggling to catch up with my straggly bits. There are a lot of straggly bits. I've had lots of fun lately, and have lots planned coming up. What's going on around here?

- I cry at weddings, apparently. Like I cried about fifteen times. There is picture evidence of this - and lots of it. The ceremony. Speeches. Father-daughter dance (that one slayed me, as it was extra special).

- I'm reading again! The last book I tried to read was so terrible I gave up, and I've had a hard time picking up something decent. I started a new fantasy novel earlier this week though and am thoroughly absorbed.

- My niece's quilt is crazy. I can't wait to show you more pictures ... that I have, sitting on the hard drive here. I need to take more at this stage, too. I also need to post my Finish-A-Long link up.

- I need to buy new pants. Just give up and buy new pants. Nothing fits, and after seeing pictures from last weekend I realized I really don't need to be stressing about my weight. I look just fine, thank you.

- My nephew is so cute! Baby cuddles make any day better.