Saturday, December 31, 2011

2011 Recap

Sorry for the back-to-back posts tonight. I didn't want to combine this with my tutorial post.

With this being the last day of 2011, I thought I would jump in with the others and post some photo candy of what I have done this past year. Except in my case, part of the year since I haven't been regularly blogging that long. I did start this blog at the beginning of the year but let school and work get in the way of posting. It wasn't until the summer that I got going, and I haven't looked back.

I was going to try to organize these photos some how, but it didn't work out that way. I had wanted to finish more of the projects I have started but that didn't work out either. Aw well, they will be finished in 2012, which is just as good for me.

2011 Mosaic

2011 Mosaic

In addition to the variety of items I completed, I also practiced my free motion quilting by joining in with Cindy at Fluffy Sheep Quilting.

2011 Mosaic

I also had some photo adventures, including some trips to a couple Minnesota State Parks. To see other photo, you can click over to my Flickr sets.

Maplewood State Park

One little series I thought I would post more with was my inspirations. I plan on creating more posts of this nature in 2012. To read about my other goals for projects and this blog, be sure to check back tomorrow.

Happy New Year to you all! Thank you so much for all of your support this past year!

Tutorial: Migration Block

As promised, here is the tutorial for my original block design which I have called Migration. For those new readers (or those of you who don't recall), this block was created as part of a monthly challenge hosted by Candi at Raccoon Creek Quilts.

I dreamed up this block during the month of November, which happened to be when the migration of Canadian geese was occuring in my area. Usually this happens sooner, but the weather was so nice through the start of winter, they stuck around a little longer this year. I have always based the change in seasons on the migration of the geese and really do look forward to their return in the spring.

November Challenge Block: Migration

My test block was done in prints from my scrap drawer. I knew I wanted to use solids for the tutorial, but this really is a scrap friendly block. It is a variation of the pineapple block, but I decided to give it some depth by varying the size of the strips around the center square. To enchance the effect of the geese flying, I used a gradation of grays and blues.

I have to warn you that the photos I took are not true to color. It snowed all day today (booo!) and was so gray. I will be turning this block into a final project which I will shoot in natural daylight.

To create this 12.5" (unfinished) block, you will need either scraps or fat quarters. There will be some extra with fat quarters, by the way.

One 2.5" square in Kona Olive
One 1.5x18" strip in Kona Sky
Four 2.5" squares in Kona Pepper
Two 2x18" strips in Kona Evening
Four 3.5" squares in Kona Coal
Three 3x18" strips in Kona Windsor
Four 5.5" squares in Kona Ash


All seams are 1/4" unless otherwise stated.

Basically, this starts out like a log cabin block. When I sew one of those up, I don't cut each strip to size. If you like to do that, feel free. I just sew it to each side and trim it off as I go.

Center square

So starting with the center square, attach the first side using the 1.5" strip and trim off the rest of the strip. Press the seam to the outside strip (or if prefer to press it open, go ahead).

First strip

Continue attaching each side and pressing as above until you have sewed all four.

First set of strips

Now to attach the four corner geese, I start with a 2.5" square. I know there are other methods, but this works best as I'm not fussing with the bias. I mark the diagonal by pressing it so I can sew in the ditch, but you may like to mark it with a drawing tool.

Marking diagonal

Marking the diagonal

Line up the corners so that the line you will be stitching cuts across the corner of the block.

Line up the corner

I forgot to pin the two together and it slipped. I don't usually pin anything with piecing a quilt, but it definately helped for attaching the corner geese. (And yes, the photo of the pinned piece is from a later step.)

Stitch along line

Now you will stitch along the line/in the ditch created by pressing.

Stitch on line

This is what you will end up with.

After stitching

Now trim the seam allowance to 1/4" and press towards the corner.

Trim seam allowance

First corner triangle

Repeat with the other three corner triangles and this is what it will look like. There will be a slight overlap of the corners.

All triangles are added

Next you will take the 2" strip and repeat the process for attaching it.

Second set of strips

Next add the 3.5" squares as above, followed by the 3" strips and then adding in the 5.5" squares. I forget to take a photo of those steps so I hope the instructions are clear enough above.
Your final block will look like this.

Finished block

I hope that was clear enough. Feel free to ask any questions if you have them. If you make one of these, please let me know. I would love to see your version!

Writing this tutorial was certainly interesting and took longer than I thought. I guess I didn't believe anyone else who has said the same!

ETA: Linking this up over at Lawson and Lotti for their new weekly linky party: Tutorial Tuesday.

Lawson and Lotti

Stay tuned for my recap and tomorrow my goals for 2012. I have plans to organize my sewing space tonight and to be working on projects both Sunday and Monday (day off!), so I should have some finishes to share this week. One of which will be what I made with this block.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Getting a Little Personal

Despite having lofty goals for this down time between semesters, I haven't been working on too much. Of course there was Christmas and since then, I have been ill. I am finally feeling better today only to find that the snow that fell last night has decided to stick around. I was hoping for a rarity around here: to experience a December without any snow (or at least, snow that lasted throughout a day). My neighbors who have had their snowmobiles parked in their yard for the past month are joyous, I am sure.

First snow that stuck

In addition to the above, I have been dealing with some outside stress that I have absolutely no control over. I don't want to bring down the tone of my posting here, but just so you know, my life is far from perfect (not that I think I have been projecting that here anyway). I do have control over my reaction to this stress, but am reaching a breaking point where I can't take much more.

For those of you who have been reading for awhile, you may have wondered why I don't even mention my family, just Chad's. Well, I made the hard decision for myself a few years ago to start cutting them out of my life. My parents were both abusive to me, more so emotionally and verbally, and this continued into my adult life. It got to the point where my sister started acting like them and I couldn't take in anymore. Prior to doing this, I had been drinking a lot to sort of blanket the way they made me feel. I decided to stop drinking and knew that I had to make changes in order to be happy. Now, I'm not sharing this to gather advice from anyone or to be told I'm doing the wrong thing. I spent 26 years of my life unhappy and pretending everything was ok. I cannot be happy with these people in my life and refuse to live the way I used to until they all die.

Recently, as it usually happens around the holidays (and really, my birthday since it is the same time of year), they start to contact me heavily. I do block their phone numbers, but that only lasts so long with my cell phone provider, and they do call from other numbers. I have thought about changing my phone number, but in the end, that would complicate the rest of my life. When I moved in with Chad last fall, I thought I would be safe from their surprise visits. And I was until somehow, they found out where I live. Now there has been visits to Chad where they try to convince him that I am crazy and they have been sending numerous items to me in the mail. Oh yeah, and so many drive-bys of our house.

It is taking all my strength to continue to ignore them and return the mail if they put a return address on it. Basically what they are doing is called gaslighting. My entire life I have been told I am an angry person and yet, I never felt angry. Yes, I would react in anger when presented with something false by a member of my family, but that is what they wanted, and really just proved to them that they were right.

I'm not going to go into all the details here because I don't want anyone to feel sorry for me. If you want to discuss this further with me, you are welcome to e-mail me and ask questions. I used to cover what was going on (hence the need to drink) and don't want to do that anymore. Aside from this recent increase in contact, this past year has been bliss for me. I am blessed to have a partner who supports me and has even less patience with what has been going on.

Why am I sharing this today? Well, I have been reflecting on this past year, like all of you, and some of the projects I have not shared have been in relation to my childhood and family. I don't want to hold back on showing my creative process if it starts to evolve into more of this touchy subject. This will probably be the last time I write so much about this topic though, as I really don't think about my family most of the time. I say probably, not definately. This blog is not just about what I make, but about my journey through life. My life experiences also do influence the things I make and my style, so I do feel this is important to disclose.

If you've made it this far, thank you for taking the time to read it. I will be back tomorrow with my year-end recap and hopefully the tutorial for this block. I was going to do it today, but the lighting inside is not good thanks to the overcast skies all day. Also over the weekend I will be sharing my creative goals for 2012 so you know what to expect out of me for the coming year. I have been enjoying reading the recaps and goals posts that have been popping up all over.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Market Tote: Finished!

I finished up all the assembly on the market tote I was making in the sew-a-long at Clover & Violet. I won't be using it to haul groceries though. Instead, it will replace the old tote bag I've been using to hold projects I can work on outside of the house. It's the perfect size and has pockets, which was what my old bag was seriously lacking in.

Front of the Market Tote

The lining is the same green solid as the small ties.

Back of the tote

I was thinking of doing my weekly check-in today, but am going to hold off until later this week. I'm not going to get everything done, but this way I can just post once this week about it instead of twice. I will also be posting a little recap of this year that will lead into what I want to work on in 2012. I'm pretty excited for the direction I want to go as it will involve lots of exploring and experimenting.

Happy Wednesday to you!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

My Christmas

It was a great idea for me to take some time out from the online world. I can't say I got a whole lot done over the weekend because we were traveling a bit, but it was a time to relax. At least yesterday was my relaxing day. I've never been one for being in huge groups too often so Christmas Eve and Christmas Day combined was a bit too much for me. How was your weekend?

I did spend some time making food for Chad and I at home. I did decide this year that I wasn't going to bring anything unless specifically asked. Everyone knows I love to cook and bake, so if they need something, all they have to do is say so. No one did, so the treats I made were just for home.

Chad's favorite is chocolate pudding pie. This time he wanted something different so I suggested a cookie crust instead of the usual pie or graham cracker. Peanut butter was the winner, so I made up this recipe and formed the dough in a pie pan. The pudding is out of the box (next time I will be making it from scratch) and topped with fresh whipped cream. I haven't used Cool Whip or any other premade whipped cream for years. Chad did find the pie a bit too rich, so this won't be the go-to way I make it. It was good though, just in little bites.

Chocolate pie

There was a little dough left over, so I made up these cookies. They are a winner and I will be making them more often.

Peanut butter cookies with kisses

I also made up my favorite gingerbread cookie. I didn't feel like decorating them just for me, so they are plain circles. Sometimes I use this same recipe to make ginger snaps by rolling balls of dough in sugar. They are so good I only make them a few times a year.

Gingerbread cookies

I also made turtles by putting pecan halfs in a muffin tin, melting caramels and chocolate chips, and laying in the tin. It worked well for the assembly, but I did heat the caramel too high so they are a bit hard. They taste good, but they are hard.


Another thing I made was a orzo salad. I made up this recipe at the grocery store, so the amounts are a bit of a guess. I do want to share it with you though because it is really good. I'm linking up to Debbie for her Tuesday at the Table as well. This salad is going to be made frequently in my household for quick meals.

Orzo salad

Orzo Salad

Cook 1 lb of orzo pasta according to package directions. Drain and allow to cool.

Meanwhile, combine 1/4 cup of olive oil, the juice of 1 lemon, about 2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar, about a teaspoon or so of grainy mustard, salt and pepper to taste, and other seasonings as desired (I threw in some garlic powder and Italian seasoning) in a small bowl.

Chop up other ingredients to add to the salad. I used a few Roma tomatoes that I diced, two handfuls of spinach that I cut up, an 8 oz package of feta cheese, a small bag of sliced almonds, and a small container of Greek olives from the deli. You can add or subtract what you prefer. I would add shredded carrots to it next time.

Once the pasta is cool, toss all of the above together in a large bowl. This can be served immediately, but the flavors do develop after spending some time in the fridge.

Orzo salad

And who can resist homemade food in a bowl you made yourself?

Now onto my gifts from Christmas. I don't really like receiving gifts and only give when I have a great gift for that person. Instead, I do buy myself something for Christmas (and my birthday too). This goes back to holidays when I was growing up and has become a habit for me. Chad is fine with this and this year he bought a movie for the both of us to enjoy, along with other items for himself.

This year I bought a pair of earrings from Rosy Revolver, which happened to arrive on Christmas Eve. So did the things Chad bought so we did have our little gift opening of things we knew we would love. I do highly recommend her shop on Etsy and will buy more jewelry from her in the future.

Gift to myself

I did end up getting a small gift from Chad's sister, which was made up of thrifted items. In addition to the North Dakota cookbook (the other one in this photo is from Chad's mom), she gave me a pie plate and some kitchen towels.

Christmas gifts

Our new neighbor gave us a gift as well. He is a glass blower, so he gave all of us on the block small ornaments. A part of me feels like I should make something for his family, but we haven't even talked to them yet, so I have no idea what I would make. We decided to send a card in appreciation.

Blown glass ornaments

I do have a finished project to show, but this is a bit long already so that can wait until tomorrow. See you then and I hope your day is going well!

Friday, December 23, 2011

"I Thought You Already Made One of Those"

The title is straight out of the mouth of Chad. His reaction to the cowl I finished crocheting the other night. The pattern is the Time Out Cowl from Lion Brand. I used a less bulky yarn for it and am so glad I did. I love the size of mine (it's long enough to wrap around my neck four time comfortably) and the drape of the wool yarn I picked out. If you go to the pattern page you can see their example of the cowl, which is a little stiff to me. I'm glad I gave this pattern a shot dispite not liking theirs. Same thing they say with clothes on the cover of a pattern, ya know.

Finished Cowl

While making this up, I felt so relaxed. The pattern is really simple and each row is a repeat of the one before. It was almost meditative and I used that time to channel any ideas that were floating around. I'm pretty excited to put some of those ideas to use.

I'm skipping my weekly check in on my end of the year list because this week has been odd. I really can't believe it's already Friday. I honestly don't know where my time went and needless to say, I really haven't finished anything else but this. I'm super close on finishing the Market Tote and will share it once it is done.

Finished Cowl

I came to the conclusion that I operate best on a schedule or routine. I've been lacking that this week because of my work schedule being a little different because of the holiday. Plus, I've been thinking of what I want to work on next year (saving this for another post) and researching some things that I am finding interesting. I've always been the type who reads anything to do with whatever catches my fancy and thanks to the internet, I can jump from source to source. After this weekend, I need to get back on to a schedule of some sort.

Plus, the weather remains extremely stellar for this time of year. We did get a dusting of snow last night which is now mostly melted. This weekend is forecasted to be in the 40's and maybe 50's again. This time last year, we already had a few feet of snow and were fighting blizzard after blizzard. This is a refreshing change.

Finished Cowl

I didn't mean to post so lightly this week and think I'm going to take this weekend off from the internet. That wasn't in my plans but I think many of you are feeling the same way. Chad and I are going to visit his parents on Sunday, and other than that, our plans are to watch football and just be at home.

Have a very Merry Christmas and see you Monday!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Just Another Monday

Today was all about waiting in line. There were long lines at the bank and long lines at the post office. I expected it, but didn't plan for it. Oh well.

This weekend I finished up the embroidery for the market tote sew-a-long. I went a little overboard but I couldn't just leave it with minimal stitches. The flowers were screaming to be brought to life and the pattern that Jennie came up with is just great. If you aren't interested in sewing up the bag, you should at least make up this piece and frame it.

Market Tote Embroidery

I have a confession as well. Until this project, I couldn't make a French knot. I would struggle with them and usually find a way to get by or cheat. I'm thinking it was the floss I was using. This is the first time I've used perle thread for embroidery. Anyway, I am now hooked! I could have covered the entire thing with French knots. I just may do that one day.

Market Tote Embroidery

I used quite a variety of stitches to create different textures. If you are curious about a certain one, feel free to ask.

Market Tote Embroidery

And speaking of the lovely ladies at Clover & Violet, I found out that I won the drawing from the November stash project linky. I didn't win any of the Giveaway Day prizes, so this made my day.
In other news, I decided to treat myself to some fabric purchases because of the extra hours I have been working. I got my package from Fabricworm today, which is very impressive. I only ordered it on Friday. I'm still waiting on one other purchase which is scheduled to deliver Friday. In that order are my solids for my challenge block tutorial. So after Christmas it will be for that post.

From Fabricworm I picked up a half a yard of the scissor print and a couple yards of Essex linen. The linen is special because it will be part of my dyeing adventures after the new year.

New stash additions

The rest of this week I need to get working on my projects. I've been getting caught up in researching some things, which is fine, but is taking time away from actually doing anything.

I hope your Monday is treating you well!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Enjoying a Warm Weekend

I've been finding it hard to stay inside and work on anything this weekend because of the warm weather we are experiencing. Today the temperature was in the 50s. 50s! In December! This really is unheard of in my part of the world. At least consistantly.

Of course the sun still sets around 5pm and the nights are freezing. We did have a light dusting of snow at the end of last week that is now gone today. It's really hard to get it through my mind that Christmas is a week away. I go outside and it feels so September/October, that I am fooled into thinking I have so much time left in the year.

I took Jameson and Angus on long walks every day this weekend. They pretty much demanded it. We didn't have a destination in mind and I let them lead the way. Angus has a near obsession with catching a squirrel so he sticks his nose to the ground and tries to jump up every tree we get near. If he happens to see one, then he is off in a jolt, always stopping short because of his leash.

Little girls always yell out at us and ask if they can pet them. The answer is always no because sadly, Jameson has fear aggression and I don't want him to snap at anyone. Strangely there weren't many people outside today, enjoying this rare treat from nature. This isn't a bad thing though because I love the silence that comes from walking the streets alone.

The skies were full of Canadian geese finally making their way south. I know this means that cold temps and snow are soon on their way. Inevitable, but not welcomed by me.

There were small and large v's of birds. They were honking to each other, and I imagine to me, saying, "Goodbye! So long! See you in the spring!" Their bellies were golden thanks to the setting sun as they cut across the pale blue sky. The wind was still and the sky had slight streaks of clouds.

I want to carry this walk with me through the winter that will be coming soon. I eagerly await the return of the geese as they stop over for awhile before heading north to their homes.

My evenings have been filled with my weekly cleaning and some progress on my project list. I hope to finish up something tonight and will be back tomorrow to share it with you.

How was your weekend? Did you find some magic on these days of rest?

Friday, December 16, 2011

Giveaway Winner!

The Random Number Generator has spoken and picked comment #12 as the winner out of 149 comments.

Congrats, Janine! I have sent you an e-mail already.

To everyone else who entered, thank you so much for your comments. I noticed there are a lot of you who want to learn how to free motion quilt and paper piece. I tried to reply to most of you and if I didn't, I do appreciate the time you took to stop over here.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Out with the Old, In with the New: Week 4

This is my weekly kick in the butt to get pending projects done by the end of the year. To see previous links, click here.

I'm going to start off with two projects that are not on my list. One is long term and I'm going to enjoy slowly working on it. The other I really didn't intend to start and will probably finish it by the end of the year.

Embroidery Progress

Cowl in progress

I did most of the crocheting on this while waiting for tires to be put on my car. I forgot how quick crochet is!

Original List:

1. Ornament swap. Sent and received! I really am excited to show you what I came up with. My partner gave photos of an owl ornament and a folded ornament as inspiration. I remember seeing this tutorial on the Moda Bake Shop blog and thought I could turn it into an owl.

Swap gifts for my partner

Before cutting the fabrics I was going to use for my partner, I made a mock up ornament. I am glad I did because I made some errors and tweaked a few things. The mock up isn't too owl-like, but he is still cute.

Ornament Prototype

Ornament Prototype

My changes for the final version were to make the scarf out of felt instead of knitting one, and to embroider the year on it. I also made the head shaped like one of an owl. I also dropped the felt wings. I still love my prototype one though. He's special.

Owl ornament for partner

Detail of body

The points didn't quite meet up, I know.

Detail of head

Anyone interested in a tutorial? I am planning on making more, including other animals, so I could easily document the process. Just let me know in the comments.

2. Stocking for Stockings for Kids.

3. Monthly Challenge block. Block is done! Next up, a tutorial. I couldn't find the solids I wanted locally, so I need to order them. The tutorial will probably be up after Christmas due to wait time on packages.

4. Kaleidoscope quilt. Same as last week.

5. Drunkard's Path quilt. I have added two more blocks that are done.

DP Blocks

6. Zig Zag quilt. Same as last week.

7. Market Tote. Embroidery has been started. I will finish it by the end of the week and hopefully get to assembling the tote too.

Market Tote Embroidery

8. Halloween mini. Same as last week.

9. Surprise mini. Done!

10. Cowl to match hat and mitts. Done!

11. Pattern for hat. Same as last week.

12. Business logo/details. I have been doing some rough sketches and colorings of a logo.

Added Projects:

1. Mini X quilt.

I just realized that there are about two weeks left of the year. I'm starting to think my list was a little too ambitious. I do like having this weekly check in so I will probably continue it into the new year.

How are your projects going?