Monthly Archives: May 2014

Kindergarten

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Kindergarten

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Bronwen said “this looks like a boring school” as we pulled into a parking space before kindergarten orientation.

As we went inside we met another girl, Caroline, who immediately asked if Bronnie was heading for kindergarten in September. They immediately started playing ring around the Rosie.

I love how kids become fast friends. I grabbed a pic of them in the library reading Pinkalicious books before they went off to their future classroom.

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As we adults talked about indoor and outdoor shoes, food choices, and school supplies, the kids made butterflies.

So the moral of that story is: I wish adults would quit taking themselves so seriously. It’s silly.

Ready for a revelation??

Okay. I have been doing the Dr. Who quilt for my good friend, Amanda. If you go to the Quilted Thimble’s Facebook page you can see all the blocks so far.

Sci-fi themed stuff is kinda angular. And not right angles that we’re used to in patchwork. No–the slight angles that require paper foundation piecing prevail.

So. Here’s the issue I’ve run into too many times: sewing my seam, folding back the fabric ready for pressing, only to find that it doesn’t cover the foundation despite it being the correct size.

Here’s something I stumbled upon as I sat there, annoyed at having to frog stitch tight number 1 stitch length seams.

Step One: Lay your first fabric (right side up) on your foundation. If you want, hold it with a pin or glue stick.

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Step Two: Fold your second fabric at the angle needed on your foundation.

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Step Three: Sew your seam. Trim your excess fabric from the seam allowance.

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Step Four: Press and trim around your foundation.

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You are done!

Well, hopefully that helps you out should you be mired in paper piecing like I am! (Has anyone else noticed that there is a real prevalence of this method in patterns these days? Check out what designers are up to. You’ll see what I mean.)

Have a good week everyone!

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Medication

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Medication

Every time I go to the psychiatrist he asks, gently mind you, “Danielle, how would you feel about reducing your medication?” My response is always “No, I’m not reducing anything.”

I’ve been taking the same load of drugs for the past two years. Since I woke up in ICU, pretty much. It’s been so long it almost feels like 10 years. That was when Cody was still a law school student and I was exhausted.

Bronwen’s class went on a field trip to a veterinary hospital not long ago. They explained how the insert a breathing tube “so that the animal can sleep.”

She told me later that I had one of those tubes in while I took a long nap. Talk about heart breaking.

I think that’s why I’m afraid of less drugs. I’m holding on to my sanity (sometimes just barely) with this amount of drug. Who’s to say if I will or won’t attempt suicide again if there is a decrease?

I try to explain this to John but he keeps saying that I shouldn’t need stuff like Gabapentin anymore because I’m off Tylenol which was causing headaches. But, like Seroquel, it is a sedating drug that keeps the world smoother rather than rough.

It’s a prescribed version of codeine (minus the high). I’m told that’s why people like me go to alcohol or other depressants. They are a warm hug in a cold life.

I love hugs. I love closeness. Probably because I spent so much time alone.

I hope you get lots of hugs. Have a good week, everyone.
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Trying

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Trying
striking a pose

striking a pose

I alluded to this in last week’s entry–my husband went to work and found out he’d been laid off. Since then he’s been scouring our community for junior associate lawyer work. But the well is pretty dry, and I’m not overly surprised, as we were pretty desperate for his articling job that he just lost. So it might mean another move for us, even though we are terribly home oriented people and don’t like our place to be in upheaval.

Me and my husband have been trying for years–and I mean trying for a better life. I met him on our first day of college. I was searching for myself (I guess that’s pretty common for first years) and he was on the path to a law career. Now, 11 years later, he is about to finish articling, take the bar admission course, and become a bonafide lawyer! It was a long road. It has been a very tough road. And just when we were seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, poof! No more payroll.

One thing we’ve worked hard at the past five years has been raising our daughter. Now that she’s five she has shown an interest in quilting and hand embroidery, as you see in the picture. I gave her a swatch of my fine even weave Irish linen and she has picked up on a basic running stitch. Seeing that makes me forget the peril we’re in. Seeing her play with her friends on the farm field trip we went to is also a nice way of dealing with things. 20140515-174211.jpg

Bronwen saw me piecing the present big project together last night and said she’s interested in learning how to use the machine. I told her she’s a little small yet but she’s more than welcome to learn on the machine I’m using now. It’s getting a bit old and let’s face it. for the amount of sewing I do, I need more features! Let’s settle for the easy stuff, like, say, needle down! The women at the store were aghast that my machine is that basic!

My latest quilt project is a science fiction classic quilt: Dr. Who!

sonic screwdriver with nifty free motion

sonic screwdriver with nifty free motion

Lately sitting down after some intense paper piecing, making a mini sandwich out of the block, and free motion or walking foot quilting is really soothing. I never liked machine quilting in the past. Too annoying on a small machine like mine. But I’m getting some good results, finally!

weeping angel

weeping angel

The weeping angel had to be the hardest block I’ve run into thus far. So many little seams, holy!! But, again, worth it. I stitched some snowflakes with variegated thread. I think it turned out okay.

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Cyber Man was fun! I got to do some pulley stitching. Although I like to call it “tape drive.”

Every day I’m sitting down to piece, quilt, and press fabrics into shape. I’m trying very hard sometimes. Other times not.

anniversary candles

anniversary candles

So please, do take time to celebrate the small things that make the big problems dissipate. These are our anniversary candles that we light every year. On the 13th we celebrated our eighth anniversary! Anyone who’s married out there knows you have to try each day to keep your marriage healthy and happy, as though it’s human. We are all human. We need to help each other.

Joy

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Joy sugar block

Joy sugar block

“Oh joy! Love you bring! Oh joy! Make my heart sing!”– Joy from Mick Jagger’s album Goddess in the Doorway

This is the May Sugar Block. I think it came out cute. It was simple paper piecing. Right now I’m doing a Dr. Who quilt for a friend of mine and it is totally the opposite: paper piecing in the extreme! But I am still joyous in the process of making it because I have finally figured out how to free motion quilt normal looking stitches! No more long stitches and short stitches and eyelashes on the back. Just normal looking machine stitching. I am so happy about that.

Another bit of loveliness is that I am a featured artist for Jennibellie’s TAT (Tell all Tuesday) on her blog, jennibelliestudio.blogspot.co.uk. Here’s the link to the article (with pics of my office in a clean, rare state):  http://jennibelliestudio.blogspot.co.uk/2014/05/tell-all-tuesday-featured-artist.html. I would be so honoured if you took a read and a look at the fun pics.

The comments the post generated are lovely; apparently many people live with the same or similar obstacles that I do. It is nice to read that. Not that I enjoy knowing other people suffer, wow, that came out totally wrong! But we all seem to think “I’m alone in my pain.” We’re not. It’s just so hard to keep focused on the positive, the eyes on the prize.

My husband just got his two week notice this morning. Too much expansion in the firm he has articled at has caused a financial strain. Many support staff are leaving, and other lawyers. Even one of the partners is leaving. So that’s heart breaking. Just when things are looking up, the pit shows up. It will be a very rough time for me and my family for the next while, so be forewarned if my posts are a little less, well, joyful.

I leave you with the first block I made for my friend’s quilt. It is heavy duty paper piecing. I’ve made six blocks so far in the sampler series and they’re all turning out superb. I’m doing a quilt as you go method, so it’s been nice to make a block from start to finish in a day, ready for sashing.

Tardis

Tardis

Have a good week everyone. I know I’ll be trying.

Dilapidated Fence Rails

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Dilapidated Fence Rails

We all have run across the fence rail block if we’ve been quilting for any length of time. Typically this block is done by cross-cutting strip sets, right? Right. That only makes sense.

Okay. Having said that, I’ve been doing this year’s Craftsy block of the month (bom). It’s not really a class I’d expected–this one is all about colour theories and principles. The ones we’re all familiar with: warm and cool, complimentary, an examination of value, and the less obvious like hexadic. Anyway, every single block is strip pieced. So the whole quilt will be string blocks, and four patches or another configuration of squares. It’s all pretty straight forward straight line piecing.

So after finishing the various exercises you’re inevitably left with something like this:

strip remnants

     strip remnants

So this time around for the fence rails I decided to challenge myself beyond the requirements for this month’s colour study. I decided I’d cut a lot of yardage for previous blocks and didn’t want to cut anymore. As you can see by my pile of leftover strip sets, there’s a lot of fabric here that satisfies any colour study. So I went ahead and started being a strip surgeon. It’s not as tricky as it sounds. It was kind of fun and I got some nifty surprises when it came time to do the final block trimming.

Step One: figure out what strips you want to use. Remember, this is a method of lengthening your stubby strip sets. Find several of the same width and get to stitching them in to a strip. Or if you don’t have any already cut that match the width you need, piece some narrow strips together until you reach your width requirement. It will make for an intricate looking block!

leftover strips from earlier trimming

leftover strips from earlier trimming

piecing the leftovers

piecing the leftovers

press the seams open and then from the front

press the seams open and then from the front

Step Two: Now you have a long Frankenstein strip ready to use in a traditional strip set, or you can carry on adding other pieced bits, as I will below.

prepping for a new seam

prepping for a new seam

You need to cut away any selvages and jagged bits so that your new addition is straight and easy to add.

ready to sew

ready to sew

Discard the old selvages and grab your Franken-strip. It’s ready to be added.

adding to another strip set

adding to another strip set

Okay, you’re almost done! All you need to do is figure out what placement you’d like and pick out a few stitches for your horizontal seam allowance. Sew your seam and press open.

Step Three: Sew the vertical (lengthwise) seams and press them open as well.

long seams

long seams

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Tada!! You have just added more fabric to your existing stub. You can do this as many times as necessary to make the required length and width for whatever your pattern calls for.

My class pattern called for 24 of these little 6.5″ square fence rails. It was fun to make, but man, 24! I think what made me want to use up the remnants of what I had was the fact that  1. I hate having leftovers that are difficult to deal with, like strip sets, as they were made specifically for another project and would require a lot of ripping to be useful in another context and 2. I was thinking of my old house today.

Yeah, I was a bit sentimental. Probably because I’m not feeling well. Whenever the weather changes from rainy to sunny warm like it is now, the barometer changes and I get a sinus infection. Every year. Without fail. And it’s painful. It is depressing. The only thing that stops me from paying someone to curb-stomp my head is the nice weather! And whenever I’m sick I think of places, people, and things, (all nouns, actually, haha) that are comforting.

Anyway, in our townhouse complex there was horrific Franken-fencing. The strata had no contingency fund and the fees were too low. So the fencing was all rotted away and would blow in the wind. No kidding–it would wobble and the neighbourhood cats would fall off if they were walking along it! Nobody wanted to try saving money to replace the fencing. It was always a hot button issue, not unlike what Republicans think of Democrats, I figure, when it comes to lowering taxes and only the wealthy can afford the luxury of getting sick. But I digress. My husband and I were more than happy to pay more so that when the fencing finally fell down, it could be replaced. Because the strata fees were so low, when the roofing went, every unit in the place had to pony up $5000 because there was no money to replace it!

So I decided that this piecing exercise had a certain symbiosis: use up the extras and make a whacked out fence as a tribute to the one we had at our previous home.

Have a great week everyone!