Updates

One of the cool things about blogging is I feel obligated to complete the projects I write about. Maybe you all do not really care (ha!) but I feel a sense of obligation to finish things or my readers will think I am a…non-finisher (not even sure if that is a proper word).

Here is an update on some projects related to previous blog posts:

The Charming Continues

In my posts What’s on the Design Wall: Rediscovering My “Charms” and What’s on the Design Wall: Pre-cuts Wrangling, I discuss trying to use up my out of control collection of pre-cuts such as charm squares (5 inch pre-cut coordinated squares). Another charm square quilt has been completed – this one I call The Charming Continues.  It was pieced by my quilting husband and myself using a couple Moda Basic Grey charm packs and coordinating Moda Basic Grey/Grunge line of fabric. It was long-arm quilted  by Betty Anne Guadalupe of Guadalupe Designs. Originally I was going to list it on my Etsy shop but I fell in love with it and it is very happy now in my cozy reading area (where the 370 Craft Books live, see that post…).

Right on Target

In a recent post, What’s on the Design Wall: Not What Should Be There, I discuss how at a recent quilt retreat, I began impromptu working on the same quilt another retreat attendee was piecing – the pattern Right on Target. I have now completed piecing the top and now I am deciding whether to use it as a quilt or as a quilted tablecloth. I am going to quilt it myself (just a simple “stitch in the ditch” or “stitch outside the ditch”). I am happy it did not become an UFO (unfinished object) – this can happen to random projects you start on an impromptu basis at a quilt retreat!

Paper Wrangling: Organizing my clipped patterns

In my post Craft Book Hoarder I mention my discovery that I now have 370+ craft books. If I have that many craft books, you might suspect I have a lot of crafting magazines.

I used to have a ridiculous amount of crafting magazines, especially quilting magazines. I had a subscription to 4-5 quilt magazine publications (plus the quarterly and annual special publications I would pick up at a quilt shop) and I would hold onto every issue in case there might be a pattern I might want to make someday or a helpful quilting tip. I had the same issue with Beading magazines and even for a while Scrapbooking magazines!

A couple of years ago, over a series of several weeks, I made myself go through every magazine and clip out only the patterns I would actually make and only the tips that I would refer to over and over again. Then I put them in a large binder in sheet protectors.

I was so proud. I thought I had conquered paper clutter.

Then this huge binder sat on the shelf, with all those nice patterns and tips inside, unloved, untouched, unused and gathering dust. I had started downloading free and purchased patterns from the internet and storing them on my laptop. I did cancel all my quilting magazine subscriptions (because seriously, how many new and unique patterns are there to find after a while?) but for any additional magazines that trickled in, I would just scan the pattern I wanted and then donate the magazine to the Humane Society Thrift Shop.

This past weekend I rediscovered the MEGA BINDER of patterns in sheet protectors. It was actually unwieldy to remove from the shelf. I realized I primarily use my laptop for storing patterns now and if I buy a new pattern I like to get it online. I also have a nice folder organization of patterns and quilting tips on my laptop…

IT WAS TIME TO GET RID OF THE PAPER! 

So now a new huge project has commenced: I have removed all the paper patterns from the sheet protectors (donated the mega binder of sheet protectors to my favorite thrift shop for the next organization victim) and I am going to SCAN them all into my laptop and then recycle the paper! Then I can organize all the patterns for quick access..and…maybe actually USE them.

I am a woman with a plan and ready to SCAN!

I am a woman with a plan and ready to SCAN!

What’s On the Design Wall: Not What Should Be There…

Check out Sassy the highly opinionated miniature schnauzer’s blog on the page Schnauzer Snips for her latest thoughts and adventures. 

This is the last of my series of posts on the 4-day quilting retreat I attended last weekend. In my post Getting Ready to “Retreat” I shared photos of the projects I was bringing to the quilting retreat to work on during the retreat.

So one would expect that they would see on my Design Wall a work in progress (or near completion) that I worked on during the retreat – right?

Nope.

What is on my Design Wall is what should not be on my design wall: a quilt I started at the retreat because someone else was working on it and I liked it! This is how new UFOs (unfinished objects) are born!

My Quilt Sister Barb was working on a pattern called Right on Target by A Quilter’s Dream (2013) at the retreat. It involved taking 2 1/2 inch strips from say a pre-cut jelly roll and making a quilt by essentially making one giant log cabin square-in-a-square block. I happened to have a Hoffman Bali Pop on me (a set of 40 pre-cut 2 1/2 inch coordinated batik fabric strips) which was perfect for this pattern. Next thing you know, I had abandoned what I was working on for the afternoon at the retreat and borrowed her pattern and started making the same quilt!

Of course this only reinforces what I discussed in my post Creative Inspiration: What Others are Working On! I know I am not the only quilter to do this – there is something so engaging when you see a quilt in progress that is very appealing and the pattern is very easy!

What became of the projects that I brought to the retreat? Well the two UFOs in boxes (in the photos in the Getting Ready to “Retreat” post) I did not even touch (I guess I brought them as decoration for my assigned work table). Instead I worked on a log jam project (refer to my numerous posts on Log Jamming), started a new project as mentioned above, went on a quilt store shop hop, ate way too much naughty food, and in general goofed off and visited with quilt friends. My kind of retreat weekend!

Road Trip

In my post Getting Ready to “Retreat” I shared my excitement on heading to a 4-day quilting retreat with my quilting friends from WA, OR, and CA. This next series of posts will be about that 4-day retreat.

ROAD TRIP

Last May I attend the Sew N Go Retreat in Vancouver, WA (outside of Portland, OR) for the first time. I live about 3 1/2 hours from Vancouver, WA and I drove to the retreat with a friend who was also attending. Last Thursday I returned to the retreat, and this time I drove alone.

I was bummed, at first, to drive alone this year to the retreat. All I could think was: “3 1/2 + hours in the car, not fun”.  I was wrong. Road trips with friends are great, however it can be quite fun to go  on a road trip alone!

My husband and I both have older cars (we are all about having paid off cars) and I borrowed my husband’s car, the newer car (which is only 10 years old instead of 14+ years old like my car). My husband teases me that soon my car can be registered as an “antique”, however I do not think there is much of an automobile collector’s market for classic 2001 Saturns (perhaps there is one person in Uruguay who dreams of owning a non luxury old Saturn).

One of the drawbacks with older cars is you do not have the cool technology you have with newer cars – like a built in jack for your iPhone to allow you play tunes through the car radio. I did have an old FM transmitter powered by the car jack (formerly known in the old days as “the cigarette lighter”) and once I found a FM radio channel not used by any station, I was able to transmit my tunes through the car radio!

Armed with a package of roasted almonds, a container of blueberries, water, a turkey sandwich (I was eating healthy on the way to the quilting retreat as I planned to make naughty food choices the next 4 days) and my iTunes mixes on my iPhone, I was ready for my road trip! There is something very relaxing about listening to music alone on a long drive.

Most of my drive was pretty scenic, even if it was overcast, as I journeyed through part of the Cascade Mountain range with little traffic on a Thursday morning. There were a couple moments of what I would call “pure bliss” where it was just me, the road and my tunes. I felt light and carefree and at peace with all around me. I promised myself on the drive not to think about any life worries or concerns; not think about work; and not try to plan my life (I tend to be an over-planner). I had decided to just be in the moment on my drive.

Car Buddies

Along the highway on my trip I would find “Car Buddies“. For more years then I remember I have always been into finding imaginary “Car Buddies” when on long drives. What are “Car Buddies”? Car Buddies are other cars that you follow for a long period of time. If you are on a one lane highway and a passing lane appears, you do not pass them, They are your buddy and you stay behind them maintaining a reasonable speed. The most appealing car buddies of course, are those who are going an acceptable speed! Sometimes if I have been with a car buddy for a long time on the road I get kind of sad for a moment when they take an exit that I am not taking. I always say aloud: “bye-bye car buddy, thanks and take care!”  Yes I am weird. I have imaginary friendships and connections with other cars on the road.

Hey you never know when you are driving long distance, if I am behind you, making you my imaginary Car Buddy!

A bonus to the peaceful and relaxing road trip was that I was headed to a fun weekend. However I did not want the road trip to end – as I got closer, I wished I had a further to drive!

Justification!

Just returned from a 4-day quilt retreat with my quilt sisters and I will blog more about that later. I am still unpacking and sorting out the damage from our mini quilt “shop hop” during our retreat.

I wanted to share this gem that the woman who ran the quilting retreat gave the attendees (a free handout from Ben Franklin Crafts):

10 Good Reasons for Buying Fabric

  1. It insulates the closet where it is kept.
  2. It is less expensive and more fun than psychiatric care.
  3. A sudden increase in the boll weevil population might wipe out the cotton crop for the next 10 years.
  4. I’m participating in a contest – the one who dies with most fabric wins!
  5. Because I’m worth it!
  6. It’s not immoral, illegal or fattening. It calms the nerves, gratifies the soul, and makes me feel good!
  7. Buy it now, before your husband retires and goes with you on all your shopping expeditions.
  8. It helps keep the economy going. It is our patriotic duty to protect the jobs of textile mill workers, and quilt shop staff with cute babies and grandchildren.
  9. It keeps the dust off those previously empty spaces like the dining room table or the living room floor
  10. It keeps without refrigeration, you don’t have to cook it to enjoy it, you never have to feed it, burp it, change it, wipe its nose, or walk it!

– Ben Franklin Crafts  

New fabric purchases from the quilting retreat weekend…perhaps there are others…still sorting out…

My purchases are justified!

Creative Inspiration: STRONG and BOLD Color

This post continues my discussion and exploration of my sources of Creative Inspiration. In my previous post on creative inspiration I discussed Temperature. Now I am ready to explore color as a source of creative inspiration – but not just any type of color – I am inspired by strong and bold color!

I am attracted to soft muted colors and I daydream of making a quiet modern quilt in pale blues, light creams, soft yellows and maybe a touch of light pink. However I am not inspired by these colors and I rarely used them in such a muted combination. I am inspired by the POW, the BAM, the WOW of strong and bold color!

Below is a quilt I made a couple years ago that I will call Asian Fabric Slideshow. It has no actual name but the name of the pattern is Slideshow and it is a fast and simple pattern. However, the quilt does not look like a quiet simple quilt – it is made with a very bold color combination: vibrant deep orange and bold electric green. On one hand I don’t know what the heck I was thinking when I chose this combination of colors but it looks spectacular on the wall. I get a lot of compliments on this quilt which is featured in my living room.

Asian Fabric Slideshow - pieced by T. Hogan, long arm quilting by BA Guadalupe

Asian Fabric Slideshow – pieced by T. Hogan, long arm quilting by BA Guadalupe

I remember being in a quilt shop and seeing the two main fabrics in this quilt displayed the same collection on the shelves and thinking: “wow, not sure what I am going to make yet with those fabrics but I have to make something with them!”

Getting Ready to “Retreat”

In my post Retreating is not necessarily “retreating” I discuss the pleasure of attending a quilting/crafting retreat with other crafters – whether they are old friends or new friends.

Well later this week I head to a 4-day  quilting retreat with my quilting friends from California, Oregon, and Washington. I am very excited to see old friends and to be able to just relax and work on projects. Or just goof off visiting with my friends and pretend to work on projects!

Now it is decision time: what projects do I select to take to the retreat (whether I am planning to work on them or only pretend to work on them)?

I usually bring TOO MANY PROJECTS to quilting retreats! In my mind I am going to be so productive and get a backlog of projects done. In reality I might get 1/2 to 1 project done.

Projects to bring to quilting retreat?

Projects to bring to quilting retreat?

I think I am going to bring two projects pictured above – both are UFOs (quilters slang for “unfinished objects”).

Next decision: do I cut the fabric according to the pattern ahead of time and do I start some preliminary piecing; or just wait until I get to the retreat?

I have a couple days to figure this out. I also have a couple of days to psych myself up on how much stuff I will get done at the retreat.

Yes I am being delusional and it is time to be honest: I will bring these two projects with me to the retreat under the guise of planning to be productive. I might even unpack them at the retreat and lay out the fabric and the pattern and mention my strategy to get my piecing done. Then I will set out to wander around and see what others are working on*, catch up on my quilting friends lives, and lounge around and read some crafting magazines. That is the proper way to attend a quilting retreat.

 *Refer to the post Creative Inspiration: What Others Are Working On! – I am easily distracted by the cool projects other quilters are working on…

Creative Inspiration: Temperature

I wanted to return to my series of posts exploring my Sources of Creative Inspiration. In the previous post in the series, I explored Creative Inspiration: Quilting Mentors. This time I want to explore “Temperature” as a source of creative inspiration. Temperature? Like the outside weather temperature or the temperature of the room you are crafting/quilting in? Or like if you are “running a temperature” because you have a fever? No. When I refer to temperature, I mean the temperature that the color combination in a piece evokes in you. Does it make you think of a chilly winter day or a hot summer day? Does a grouping of colors give you the sense of cool and relaxing or warm and vibrant? Example: if you think of a palette of light blues and light creams you might naturally think of “cool”. While deep reds and oranges together in a grouping might make you think “warm” or “hot”. Last year temperature inspired a piece I created called It’s Getting Quite Warm In Here. As you see below the piece has a lot of red, orange and yellow in it, as well as sharp edge/points representing small flames. I was planning for it to be part of a series I planned to call: So How is the Temperature? where each piece would give you a feel of a range on a temperature scale: freezing, cold, cool, warm, hot and burning.  Now that I revisit this piece with this post, it might just continue on with the series (so many ideas swirling around in my head).

What’s on the Design Wall: Flannel Shirt Log Jamming

Check out Sassy’s related post on her blog Schnauzer Snips about her time napping in flannel shirt material  Okay, I promise – no more posts about log jamming for a while after this post…maybe. The log jamming continues and now I have a new recruit: If you read the post This is the Story of a Quilting Husband, you read that my husband Terry recently learned to quilt. This past weekend I taught him to log jam (see posts What’s on the Design Wall: “Log Jamming” and “Log Jamming”: The Sequel). On the Design Wall are his first batch of log jamming blocks, made from Flannel Shirt Flannels!*

First set of shirt flannel log jam blocks by Terry, the Quilting Husband

First set of shirt flannel log jam blocks by Terry, the Quilting Husband

*The shirt flannels were rediscovered during part two of my purge of fabric (see post The Fabric Purge!). This time I worked through my flannels and weeded out those no I no longer needed and rediscovered my tucked away collection of shirt flannels. 

“Log Jamming”: The Sequel

This is a followup to my post What’s on the Design Wall: “Log Jamming” :

Last Tuesday evening I took the Log Jam Class at the Stitchin’ Post quilt shop, this time with the actual instructor, Jackie. Jackie is the Queen of the Log Jam (and a wonderful and fun instructor) and I picked up a couple tips I missed when my friends and I made our own class up earlier this year (when our instructor had to cancel so my friends taught me how to “log jam” as discussed in the post What’s on the Design Wall: “Log Jamming” ).

Taking the class again (well taking it for real with the official instructor), got me even more addicted to log jamming. I also learned that the log jamming technique is based on an old African sewing process. I thought it was something the quilt shop had developed, I did not realize it had so much history. Log jamming is such a great way to work through your fabric scrap collection!

So far I have completed 56 – 6 1/2 inch log jam blocks and I have another 30 some in progress. Not sure when I am going to stop working on the blocks and make them into something. Maybe I will just create a huge pile of log jam blocks enough for a couple King-size quilts. But, alas, that will still not put a dent in my fabric scrap collection

Below is a photo of the basket of coordinating scraps I use while log jamming and my current stack of blocks. My plan is to keep  log jamming with this palette until I exhaust this palette of scraps (or I become exhausted from using the same palette!)

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Basket of scraps for log jamming and stack of completed blocks

The Fabric Purge!

Before I talk about my FABRIC PURGE, I wanted to give a little follow up on my Addicted to Audiobooks post:

I had mentioned in the post that one of the disadvantages of free audiobooks from your local library is a short loan period (14 days for example). Recently I discovered that my library allows up to a 21 day audiobook loan period but you have to set up your account that way! I guess when I first set up my digital book account with my library originally I accidentally selected the 14 day hold as my default. I wish I knew this earlier as recently I was in the middle of enjoying Beyond Willpower by Alexander Loyd and my loan expired! The audiobook has other library patron holds on it so I have to wait patiently until my turn comes around again. Ultimately it is my fault for alternating between three audiobooks at once time – 21 day loans will make it even easier (maybe I can alternate between four or five audiobooks…just kidding!)

FABRIC PURGE!

Sometimes you have to let go of clutter to make space for your creativity. I had collected an unwieldy amount of fabric in my 15+ years of being a quilter. My fabric collection (aka “Stash”) includes purchased new fabric, purchased (from thrift shops and garage sales) used fabric, recycled fabrics (old jeans, manufacturing remnants), and fabric given to my by quilting friends.  When I say “fabric” I mean anything from a 1/4 yard to several yards of fabric, not scraps. We won’t talk about my scrap collection at this point…

I had organized all my quilting cotton, non flannel fabrics either by color, by type (Batiks) or by collection in an old IKEA bookcase cabinet. This cabinet was REALLY STUFFED. It was so stuffed that I could not find smaller pieces that have somehow “melted” into the larger pieces. It was time to reevaluate what I really loved and needed in my collection and to let go of that which I do not really love or really need. I had taken Monday and Tuesday off from work for a little “staycation” so I had no excuse not to begin the PURGE!

The purge was kind of painful and tedious. I do not want to discourage anyone from evaluating their clutter and purging, I just want to be honest. I removed all the fabric from the bookcase cabinet and it transformed into a scary mess on the floor. In the spirit of honesty and full disclosure – I did at one point sit on the floor crying and exclaim: “Why do I have this much fabric? I do not need all this!” I had to keep self-coaching to get through the project, reminding myself how wonderful it will be to quickly find the fabric I am looking for and to get rid of what I will never use.

It took two days of sorting through fabric and refolding fabric to complete the project (by the way, I did take many breaks of course and did other things on my “staycation”). I found on Pinterest this wonderful link to instructions on how to uniformly fold your fabric using a ruler so that your fabric will stack easily together: How to Tuesday: Ruler Folding  (from a lovely blog – Create Kids Couture). I organized most of the fabric by color (this time I integrated the Batiks) and some by special collection (one shelf). I purged a giant bag of fabric to give my local quilting friends (oh no I am just adding to their stash so they have to purge someday!)

The fabric purge was worth it, despite some brief emotional distress. I feel like I have made room for my creativity by eliminating clutter!

BEFORE THE PURGE

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AFTER THE PURGE

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