Sunday, April 26, 2015

Girly Stuff

Not much sewing going on these days. Life is a bit discombobulated right now. Trying to get back on track. Just not sure how.

I made a life-changing purchase this month. Now when I tell you what it was, you'll laugh. But I'm serious. Yes, really!

I love painted nails, but painted nails don't love me. I dabbled with some acrylics, but found the upkeep cost too much. My nails grow fast. I mean super fast. So I'd need fill-ins every ten days and new tips each month. Hello $100! Not! And let's not mention the havoc that sewing handwork does on the nails... And acrylics...

I found a LED light nail gel kit by my favorite makeup company from QVC (Mally) for @$70 plus shipping and handling. Hello gorgeous hands! I can control the application myself. (Nail salons scare me.) And I hear gel polish wears like iron! It came with enough stuff for over 100 manicures. Of course I ordered a few extra colors. After all, a girl needs choice. ;)

Last week I took off the acrylics I got, and yesterday morning I sat down to do my first gel manicure! I just opened the instruction booklet, laid the products out and went to town. About 45 minutes later I was ready for anything! No need to wait for stuff to dry... I went straight into action!

It always seemed that just after I paint my nails the old way, I'd have to pee or something. And then I'd wreck at least one nail. Lol! Murphy's Law. No worries with gel. When you're done it's done! I'm sure that it will take less time next time to do a mani. First, I won't do it after using my asthma inhaler and drinking coffee (hello shaking hands!). And now that I'm familiar with the process I can move much faster.

I love how shiny and colorful my nails are. I'm usually chipping by the end of day one, but not now. Not even at day two!

I know it's superficial, but for me that's life-changing. And this makes me one very happy girl!

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Behind the scenes

Did I tell you I got a new book? Yeppers, I love it. More English paper piecing madness! And the projects are GORGEOUS!

The 40 minute timer thing is helping. I got a whole row of component pieces assembled and a good start on sewing the row together. Just need to keep up with it all. Feet first and the head will follow.

I'm in destash mode. I learned of a fellow quilter in a foreign country that could use fabric. Folks, we are lucky here in the U.S. in that we have a broad selection and good prices compared to the rest of the world. So I'm going to fix up a flat rate FQ bonanza box to go to her mom in the U.S., and when her daughter visits the U.S. She'll bring it back to my online buddy. I'm excited about this. Doing this will be more fun than shopping for fabric!

I joined the Reddit fabric exchange earlier this year. That is done through Reddit gifts. I'm a Reddit Quilter. Proudly, I may add.  Reddit is like a huge giant message board... An online community to share ideas. Reddit Gifts is an offshoot of Reddit.

Anyway, today I reported that I haven't received my fabric exchange gift. Bummer. But that's no biggie. I edited my description to help out Jamie. Jamie is a young lady we've taken in recently. I asked for stuff for her. Her interests are quite different from mine.

I also signed to be a "rematch Santa" for someone who didn't get a gift. I sure hope it's a quilter! They'll be sure to get a big bonanza box like I'm doing for my friend. I am also waiting for my gift recipient to post her thank you. I hope she liked what I sent. I put a lot of thought into it.

Today I opted out of my Tuesday group. Still have some issues I need to work out, like this nagging cough. I'm over it. That will come in due time. I've scheduled yet another doc appointment. I have a big trip east planned in May and I want to be well for it. At the rate I'm going, I may have to cancel. That's a bummer.

Besides that, all is well. I've made a few fun purchases the last few days -- got me a cool gel manicure set on QVC and a bought a freezer for the garage. Eagerly waiting for both to arrive. I'll be looking for some freezer meal ideas. Got any favorites?

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Using a timer to make time

These days when the mojo is low I need to force myself to work. Like I say, I've been wanting this current EPP project done so I can start the new one.

Yesterday I put the law into my own hands. And frankly, I was amazed at my results! I set my phone timer for 40 minutes and sat down to prepare my pieces for the next row. And wouldn't you know it, I got half of the row prepared!

Yay! I now know what I need to do to get this project done! I'm hoping that once I get into this habit, my mojo will come back.

On a side note, I apologize for not responding to comments. Blogger has been messing my email feed. I also moderate comments after the second day.  As a result they don't show up immediately. Sorry!

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

What's on my mind and in my life

Just a heads up that I'm alive. Things have been hectic here with a new person in our household. Combine that with me having this ever-lingering respiratory crud (since Thanksgiving!) and my foot surgery, I haven't been in the sewing room much the past months or so.

Ok, I lied. I was in there last week to repair a purse and a bra. LOL! I figured that wasn't exciting enough to blog about. Unless you really want to hear about me re-sewing the tube that holds the pokey thing. ;)

It's been a rough first quarter for me here at home -- between the surgery and being sick. I haven't been getting out to sew with my friends a whole heck of a lot, either. Today marked my second or third visit to my Tuesday sewing group this year. I'm sure they were about to give up on me. I have to admit that it felt good to get out. I only stayed for a few hours, but I got my last two rows sewn together on my Tula Pink Diamonds in the Sky english paper piecing project (EPP). Now I have to attach those two rows to the existing six or seven I've already finished. I may save that and just add the rows when I finish it all. Not sure how I'll attack that yet. I want this project done!

I'm really finding my zen in EPP. I really find it quite my cup of tea! I'm so excited. On Friday or Saturday my second Millefiori book by Willyne Hammerstein (Millefiori Quilts 2) comes in. I can't wait to see what she has in store!

Now mind you, I have several quilts screaming  for backs and waiting to be quilted. LOL! Nope, I haven't touched them. I even have a quilt top that needs finishing. Nope. No mojo.

I did take some time and send five boxes of stuff to the guild for fundraising, I'm sure there will be more de-stashing in the future. I also have two garbage sacks of scraps to get rid of. We have a scrap group in the guild that will go nuts. Some of the pieces are quite large.

I'm really trying to curb my impulse purchasing on fabric. I find I need to get back to where I was when I first started -- to do one project at a time, and to focus intently on that project from start to finish. I'm finding that building a hoard of fabric is counter-intuitive for me. (Said no one but Jean). Buying fabric as I go will be more economical and make more sense to me going forward.

Who knows, maybe I will change my tune and this is just a phase. Do you go through phases like that? I've just been thinking that if anything ever happened to me where would it all go? My stash is STABLE -- Stash beyond life expectancy or something like that. Whatever that acronym is. I guess what Mark Lipinski spoke about at the Trends show last month, just really hit home with me. (You can read about the slow stitching movement here).

Lots to think about. I'm going to be putting an embroidery machine up on Craig's list. Not My Quattro... My slightly smaller Brother Isodore (which is the "Laura Ashley" version of Brother's Duetta machine -- and excellent embroidery machine). I just haven't taken to machine embroidery like I thought I would. One machine for that is enough. I figure between my Juki, Quattro, and Featherweight I'm covered. If it doesn't sell, I've already made arrangements for donation.

I could use that money for something fun, like a weekend trip or pay back my savings account for the clothes buying binge I just went on. (This gal needed some spiffying up really bad!). Yep, I was really really bad!

All is well. I'm alive and kicking. Just not doing a whole heck of a lot of sewing these days.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

E.E.Schenck Open House

Wow. I had an awesome weekend. Friday my bestie Kathy and I went down to an open house at E.E.Schenck, a wholesale distributor. Kathy has a small home business and I was her chosen companion to keep her awake for the drive to Portland. Lucky me!

I cashed in the last of my Marriott points for a free room and we made it an overnight jaunt. It was the perfect little getaway. We started our adventure on Friday. We headed down to Portland and made a stop on the way.

You just can't pass Chehalis without stopping at Sister's Fabric Shop. It is one of the friendliest shops on the planet! They carry a little bit of everything from holiday fabrics, traditional repros, feedsacks, to modern. And they have tons of bolts just full of color! And like I say they are a very friendly shop. We always leave with a smile (and some fabric).

Sisters is my go-to shop for traditional repro fabrics. Primo selection of colors and prints. They make up the cutest little FQ bundles. It was difficult to choose just one. Their traditional repros are always full of gorgeous color. This one is a good representation of the wonderful colors they put together. Wish I had gotten more, but I needed to save my money for some other stuff. I also got these cute modern feedsack hexies by American Jane.

That was some else's shopping cart.

Then we finally made it to E.E. Schenck's warehouse. This is my second visit to them during their "Trends Shows" I went to one last year and had a blast. While my knees wore out fast on the concrete floors, I did stroll through the aisles to look at all the cool stuff.  This was the main aisle of the warehouse with books patterns and quilts on display. The quilt show theme was color.

Friday's order of business was to fill Kathy's orders (and a bit of shopping for me) so we could get a head start on the Saturday portion of the show. The folks at this place were so friendly. I had a nice time chatting with one of the E.E. Schenck warehouse guys. It's good to see the faces behind the orders. I stocked up on some small assortment boxes of Aurifil thread.

Saturday was the day we were waiting for. Mark Lipinski was the keynote speaker for the event. I adore this man's spirit. And for what it's worth, he gives the best hugs. He spoke about the Slow Stitching Movement. I'm sure he got tired of seeing me in the first row just nodding in agreement and smiling. His talk really hit home with me and what I've been thinking about the last month or so away from my sewing room.

This will be discussed in the next few posts. I didn't realize it, but I've been quietly thinking about what he was talking about the last few months myself without his prompting. I've touched on it myself in this post, as well as a few others. I need to be more mindful with my sewing. I feel like I'm already doing that. I'm glad I'm heading in the right direction.

I sat next to a young lady from Japan who reps for Lecien. She was very nice. I know that many Japanese already practice the slow stitching movement. She seemed to be enjoying the talk as much as I was.

What I loved most about Mark's talk was that he ended it with an touch on what shop owners can do to support the movement, and how it can help increase their growth a profitability. Smart retailers already incorporate some of his principles.
For example -- the LQS that serves as my home base, Gathering Fabric, is a great shop that has built a great reputation for quality, education, and serves as a good "Home-base" to the quilt community. She cherry picks the best of the best lines, patterns and notions. Her staff is friendly, helpful, supportive of the quilt community. Her classes and events are second to none. She firmly believes in educating her customers whether it be through free demos, clubs, or classes. She gives her customers the tools to give "meaning" to their projects. Kudos to Susan, the shop owner for that. She's a good businesswoman. I consider myself blessed to have this shop near me. It is important that we continue to support our brick and mortar businesses.  They are integral to our community and serve as a great home-base for the slow stitching movement.

(I'm totally crushing on the brick-ish floral and the pale grey toile)

Back to the trip... After we left Portland and made our way home, We made one more stop along the way. Kathy said it had been years since she stopped by Ruby Street Quiltworks in Tumwater, WA (this is just outside of Olympia). I fell in love with this shop during the shop hop last year. This trip was no different. I squealed with delight (literally!) when I saw Lecien's Yoko Saito's latest line IN PERSON. So I had to purchase some 1/3 yard cuts for the project I'll be starting soon (more on that in another post). Again, another friendly shop that carries wonderful fabrics and stuff. (Notice a trend?).

So I'm a little bit poorer, money-wise, but much richer idea-wise. Lots of stuff to work with and think about. I call this a productive weekend.

Big huge thanks to E.E.Schenck, Mark Lipinski, and the other folks behind the slow stitching movement for inspiring me. Thanks also to the wonderful local quilts we visited along the way. I'll be talking more about my reflections on Mark's talk in the coming days. and big huge thanks to Kathy for allowing me to tag along!!!!!

Monday, March 9, 2015

Marcia Derse Studio Tour

This weekend I had the distinct pleasure of visiting with Marcia Derse, one of my favorite fabric designers, and one of Windham Fabric's newest designers (Yay!). I became acquainted with her at IQF in Cincinnati back in 2011. I found out our school years were spent in the same area and probably knew a lot of the same folks. So I'm doubly proud of this hometown gal!

Marcia recently relocated up here to the Seattle area. Believe you me, I was so excited when I heard the news! A mutual acquaintance of ours arranged a studio visit for Saturday and I was invited. Lucky me! A you well remember, in 2011 I got a chance to visit her Ohio studio. So you know I'd jump at a chance to do it again up here.

The view from her studio

We all had a lovely afternoon. We brought our lunches with us and we ate together. The view of Puget Sound from her lovely home was breathtaking! She is so blessed to be in such beautiful surroundings! I can't wait to see how this area inspires new designs.

After lots of chatting and lunch, we headed downstairs to her studio. You know you're in an artist's home when you're greeted at the front door with this beautiful artwork, done by Marcia herself.

I love her new studio. It's slightly smaller than her previous one, but is still spectacular.

I had fun looking at the bits and pieces of ephemera that surround her. One piece that caught my eye was this journal filled with photographs, hand made paper, and fabric. In another corner were vintage lead painted figures all lined up on a piece of wall-mounted moulding. I wish I got a photo of that. They were in a wee little nook that had a table full of cool stuff.

While we were chatting and learning about her design process, we listened to music on her vintage hifi! Talk about memories! Yep. Pure vinyl -- Herb Alert and Dusty Springfield, of course!

Besides studio gawking we did have to learn something. LOL! She talked about her design process. She starts out with a single yard of dyed fabric (she dyes using plastic baggies). In this example, a blue fabric. She then cuts it into fat quarters, and continues to play with it, over-dyeing each fat quarter different shades and using a resist medium to create line, shape or texture. She then sends it to Windham to translate the beautiful fabric into what you buy at your local quilt shop. It's a very detailed and tedious process, but when you get such a pretty fabric line, it makes all the hard work worthwhile.

Here are some of her fabrics -- this is from her Mosaic line.

I'm quite fond of this line, her Black & White line. In fact, You'll see a few familiar pieces in my stash. LOL!

Her Botanical line. (love that aqua print! -- I'm now kicking myself for not buying some). And (not shown) her Palette line, which is a soft blended "not so solid" kind of look. It's almost as if color has three dimensions. You will love the hand of her fabric. It's very soft and substantial. Excellent quality. The colors are saturated -- nothing wimpy here! 

One of the things I loved were the nooks and crannies filled with her beautiful fabric. Little pockets of color. This is her official archive closet, jam-packed with three yard cuts of every fabric she created. Also filled with various and scraps and archival strips. As you can see, she is very moved by color. You will remember those scrap baskets from the Ohio tour. 

This series of glass cased shelves hold her beautiful hand dyed fabrics. Again... look at all that color. (and the thread!) Can I take that home with me? 

One could not help but come home inspired. I made a small purchase for me, and some for a friend. This was what I got. I looked at my stash and noticed I needed some lighter tones. If I had my druthers/funds, I would have purchased a bundle of her entire Palette line. I started with these 1/2 yard cuts, as well as the one yard cuts of the black and white. 

This is what I bought for my friend. She's a purple girl. 

It was the best afternoon! The weather was perfect, the company was perfect, and inspiration was overflowing. Now to put this inspiration to work. LOL!

Friday, February 20, 2015

Back in the studio

I need a good day to get back in the studio. My houseguest left a bit of a mess and I need to clean up some "picky" things. So that's a full day task.

I ordered a free motion quilting table from the Sew Steady folks while I was on foot rest, and it came in. It looks awesome and is just what I want! I purchased my Juki for quilting and wanted a quilting table/platform that uses the machine head-on. Couldn't ask for anything better! Yay! I can't wait to use it. 

This weekend or next week will find me taking the big machine in for some routine maintenance. I'm sure it got some rough handling away from my view. Plus I know it'll need some good cleaning. 

I'm back on two feet now. Well, somewhat. I'm still shaky on two legs, but that will pass with time. This is my third day and it gets better each day. 

This weekend is a sew day with my guild ladies. I'll be toting my hand project. I'll be honest, I'm really finding my mojo with English paper piecing. Who knows? Maybe I found my groove.