Wednesday, May 21, 2014

My full, full life

Well, it has been a busy few months! I have been a little overwhelmed by some of the hard and just busy things in life this year. My job as a youth leader is fantastic - I love my volunteers and my students, but it is 20 hrs a week, fit in around full time parenting most of the time, with some help from Dave. And I still have Owen home all the time, so the days are busy, busy. Then there was winter - a long, hard, cold, ice filled winter. My boys weren't allowed outside for recess for three weeks straight because the school yard was sheer ice. And then there was this Lent - sometimes I have one idea about what I'm giving up for Lent, and then God has his own plans for winter pruning and winnowing. God's plans are better, but much harder than the ones I have for myself.

In any case, our cold Easter came with snow still on the ground, but bunnies for the younger two kids anyways. I made Owen a hipster / barber shop quartet bunny, which was more fun for me, and he loves him. Emma's is sweeter and more traditional, but still bright and fun.


With the long cold Spring we have been doing LOTS of crafts. I refilled our kids' stamp pad with blue ink from the stationary store - not glamourous, but the clearest ink we've had to work with in a long time. The cigar boxes, which look cool on our open kitchen shelves, are courtesy of Dave's hobby.


And this is one single image that captures why my house is ALWAYS messy. See that bin of stuff I had just picked up off the floor 5 min. ago, all ready to be put away in its proper places? Ha. Owen 537-Mom 0
I have really gotten into knitting lately. This is a fortunately / unfortunately kind of thing. Fortunately, knitting is portable and can be taken to sit on the floor while the toddler plays, of taken to the 30 Hour Famine overnight trip. Unfortunately, I don't have a knitting stash so my fabric all sits, calling out to me, while I ignore it and skrimp and save to buy yarn instead of quilt batting.
These leg warmers were mostly just for the texture - this in Noro yarn from Japan and I loved the subtle colour variations. They are great for cool spring mornings, when you know it will be shorts weather in an hour, but its still too cold to walk to the park right NOW.
These were fun, too (thank you 30 Hr famine and the last season of Dr Who). I have a sweatshirt with 3/4 length sleeves that is the perfect weight for early spring and late fall. So, funky arm warmers. These are one of the few things I actually get comments on in Montreal (most things I make, no matter how funky, are still within the range of normal here, or they could be bought at some cool store on the Plateau).
My next project is a chunky pullover sweater for me. I know, I've only been knitting for 2 years, but I really started knitting because I can never find sweaters I like. So, onto my true knitting scheme -  building myself a great stack of sweaters and cardigans and vests.
I am terrible at keeping track of rows and what abbreviations mean, even on the 40th time doing the same increase, so I always make a ton of notes. You would think I would remember eventually, but I just can't keep those kinds of things in my head - they fall out as soon as a new thought comes along.
You might have seen this quilt before, maybe? Like, for the last three years! My last piece of batting is sandwiched between the finished windmill quilt top and some lovely Anna Maria Horner (plus a favorite Erin McMorris print and something else from long, long ago that was languishing in my stash).
This quilt is kind of like my last few years - I had great ambitions and plans and dreams for it, but right now it is wonky (in some places on purpose, in others by accident), bumpy, most of the corners are cut off and the quilting is a bit of a disaster. But it is done, it is colourful and fun and the backing fabric is beautiful. It is not at all what I planned on it being, but it is good in its own way.


That would have been a lovely way to end, wouldn't it. But wait, there's more! One of my favorite spring ambitions (that rarely ever lasts through the whole summer)  - to have a beautiful-ish back yard. This year we bought lots of colourful flowers and planted them up in the pots we tried growing veggies in last year. Hopefully the toddler will be kind to them and I will remember to water them, and they will bring lots of joy and cheer to our back yard.
Aaron loves doing anything with his hands, and planting flowers is no exception - he took over almost all the baskets and wouldn't let me plant a thing!

I had one of those "real" Montrealer moments yesterday - I picked this great little shelf up off the side of the road. It is perfect to give Owen his own corner for his toys. The poor boy needs his own spot somewhere in the house, after all!

Finally, I am hopeful that I will get at least a quilt top done for Dave before his 40th birthday in June. I'm going to do a simple 4X8 rectangle grid (because NDG = bricks) in colours I know he likes. Fortunately, the colours he likes rolled back into style just in the nick of time. Whew.
So that is a little life and creativity summary. I hope I get more time to blog this summer, but I'm not counting on it. I almost have a working smartphone ( a story for another day when I don't have kids to put to bed), so I might be on Instagram soon.

Okay, off you go to read about all the cool kids who got to go to Quilt Market!

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Cut, cut and cut some more

For a while now, I have been promising Emma that the next quilt I finish will be hers. And this is the thing - its a one patch, all squares quilt, so it shouldn't be complicated. So of course I had to make it more difficult by deciding to make a scrappy plus quilt with the blocks, using different prints in the same colour group to make the plus-es


See, doesn't it look pretty? The problem is, when I get to making a quilt that is 12 blocks by 15 blocks, it gets a little more difficult to get the cross pattern to appear. Especially since I have all these great i-spy fabrics I want to include, and a lot of them are busy, small or medium scale prints. So I end up with something like the mess below when I fit all the fun prints in that I want to include.
After shuffling fabrics around for 2 hours in the middle of the night (while Amy, Rory and the Doctor ran away from things in the background), I realized that I had too many busy prints, and so the quilt ended up looking like a bit of a mess. Due to toddlers and cats, I can't leave my design wall out anymore, so you will have to excuse the middle of the night photo. The purple and pink blocks were looking the best, because I had all these pink and purple blender prints. So, I decided to pull a bunch more almost-solids and solids to add to the quilt:
The funny thing about this quilt is because there are so many prints, I have spent hours cutting squares. HOURS. And now I have to cut some more.

At least I'll be able to whip up baby girl quilts in a jiffy for the next 4 or 5 years . . .

Sunday, February 2, 2014

I was just waiting for the right backdrop, really.

 What better morning to have finished my quilt top than when we get fresh, beautiful snow?
 I've went on enough about the blocks in this one - tonal / value / scale experiment, blah, blah.
 I would love to tell you all my thoughts on colour play and why / how I chose the border etc, but this is all I can manage right now. Sorry.
 Still, I am here, and still sewing. Its just that my evenings have been taken over by a new obsession, I'm afraid.
Its funny, because when I used to watch Dr Who in high school it was so weird and nerdy. Now its cool. And a very good reinvention it is - excellent writing, classic BBC costumes and acting, but with actual good special effects. But somehow keeping and making scary the old Dr Who creatures look good by updating them just a little bit. Genius, really. I'm almost done series 4, and sad that David Tennant and I only have 3 more episodes together. I love the BBC.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Finished Quilts in 2013

Finished Quilts in 2013 by davenjilly
Finished Quilts in 2013, a photo by davenjilly on Flickr.

Speaking of 2013 sewing (as I just was - but you haven't read it yet - sorry) I did finish these four quilts. The funny thing is that only one of them is in fabric that I would normally choose. I think fabric wise my quilts were pretty out of my comfort zone.

Ah well, I have no sewing obligations or pregnant friends right now, which gives me free reign to play in 2014.

Finished in 2013

I should remember how to post things from Flikr , but I don't. So, here is my lame from-Flikr post of everything I finished this year.

It was a bit of an odd year - I spent a lot of time planning and making things for my etsy store that I quickly gave up on, or stitching practical things. I took a forced "break" during the summer when Dave had his motorcycle accident, and have only sewn gifts or swap items since October, other than the quilt that will not end.

So all in all, not my most productive sewing year, but since it was a pretty turbulent year, I will give myself permission to be happy that I stitched anything at all. And gosh, those penguins are cute.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Well, it has clearly been a busy month here, as I haven't blogged at all! I feel like I am just coming up for air around here, as it has taken me a while to figure out how to insert 20 hours of work into my full time parenting role. I have ended up taking a night away from home to work for four or five hours from a coffee shop (my workplace doesn't have an office) which makes it so that I'm not always trying to either work at midnight or work around the corners of family life. There are lots of things you can do in those little pockets of time, and I manage about 3 or 4 hours of stuff during those, but some things take sustained concentration, and I can't do those in tiny intervals.

In any case, around the other corners I have been trying to knit again. I thought a simple cowl would be a good, easy project. This cowl is in seed stitch, but it has an uneven number of stitches per row, so you really don't have to concentrate at all - just check what your last stitch was and do the opposite. I have found that if I leave the yarn at the front, I tend to make extra stitches when I come back to work on it again, but as long as I leave the yarn at the back when I walk away, it is perfectly fine.

This yarn is a chunky yarn - Cascade 128 - and its supposed to make a 15" cowl in about a skien and a little bit of yarn. I guess my knitting is tighter than I thought, because I'm almost finished my first skein and I only have 5 or 6" dones. I don't know if its my fault or the yarn's fault, but I'm definitely NOT buying a third skein of yarn - when I'm done two, I'm going to be done.
Sigh. One day I'll figure out knitting. It just doesn't seem to be as intuitive to me as sewing - maybe I just forget what it used to be like when I started sewing.

In other news, I've been working away on my windmill quilt, too. I have all the rows sewn together. I finally decided to just sew them together and add a border.
The border is going to be mostly rail fence blocks, but I don't quite have enough fabric leftover, so I'm going to add a few squares of other prints. I think its fun to have a border where I mix up the fabrics and explore the colour relationships between them, after having blocks that are all single colour blocks.

I love the crazy colour explosion of this border. I think this is going to be a great winter quilt, when everything is white outside it will provide lots of happy colour inside.