Saturday, July 28, 2012

Fab Quilt Swap 2

Fab Quilt Swap 2 Mosaic by davenjilly
Fab Quilt Swap 2 Mosaic, a photo by davenjilly on Flickr.

Well, the second round of the amazing Fab Quilt Swap is starting soon, and I just made my mosaic full of fresh, new favorites.

As I was writing notes on my photos (you can click on my Flikr badge if you want to read them), I realized that my tastes, especially in mini- quilts is becoming more about deconstruction. I love a lot of traditional quilt patterns re-interpreted in new fabric, but also a lot of traditional patterns deconstructed and re-interpreted, or images free peiced in fabric, which is another kind of deconstruction, isn't it?

In any case, partner, here is a mosaic of some of my favorite recent quilts and quilt blocks. Take them as inspiration and interpret them how you will. I know you are an amazing quilter, and that I will love what you take from this mosaic or from my favorites and re-interpret into something brilliant of your own. Have fun!

Friday, July 27, 2012

{this moment}

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.
If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments at for all to find and see.

Monday, July 23, 2012

DIY Loft Bed Show Off

Some of you may remember (from my other, sadly infected blog) that while I was adapting to life with little Owen, our other two younger children were taken out of daycare, and Dave was caring for them. During our month of post-partum adjustment, my husband finished our house re-organization by building furniture. Big furniture.

While this may sound like a ridiculous time for him to be doing this, it actually worked well for us. It meant that while he was around to help when things got hairy with the kids or I needed a nap and the older kids taken to the park, he wasn't, shall we say, underfoot. He wasn't bored and loafing. Instead he kept himself happily busy on a project while also generally overseeing Aaron and Emma.

 The result was that we almost doubled the amount of usable space in the boys' room and added a lot of storage for their stuff and a little bit of our own stuff. I would love to report that this means their room is always tidy and organized. But alas, I don't nag them enough to make that happen. Instead, it means there are actual places to put things when we do tidy, and theoretically we shouldn't have anything overflowing out of its proper space.
 These are the boys' clothes drawers, plus the homes to all their softies. The lego and playmobil bins sit on the shelf above the drawers. We've added more bins on the top shelf for our linens, and the boys can reclaim the shelf when they're tall enough to reach it.
 Under the bed, against the wall is this pegboard. We have this lovely idea that the boys will hang things on it, as in the picture above. When Aaron first saw the hooks, he started hanging individual Playmobil bows and belts and horse halters on each hook. While this did fulfill the general purpose of the hooks, we tried to convince him that possibly he could put some of his bigger, more hang-able items on the hooks, like the dress up clothes. That lasted for a few days, until he started making the hooks into metal art installations. Those creative types, I tell you, what can you do with them?
 Up on top, as well as the bed, there is this little reading nook. I put the books that they really like up here, and stored the rest in Emma's closet. I also de-cluttered a box or so of books, that accidentally included a few library books. Whoops.

My husband took these photos, and as he didn't spread the lovely hand-made quilts over the mattress before he took the photo, I don't see the point in just showing you the boys' messy bed.

Because Dave made this out of his head, with only a vague plan, we encountered some problems that needed to be solved. One was light. The regular lights in this room are ceiling florescent pot lights. We didn't realize they gave off heat until we were within arms' reach of them, so a dimmer switch needed to be installed on the lights. Also, the light switch is across the room, which makes reading in bed and then falling asleep almost impossible, as one must climb down the ladder to turn off the lights. This was solved with a little platform to hold one of those clip on reading lights.
 Aaron insisted on trying to climb the ladder with armloads of toys so he could play up in the bed, and he kept falling off the ladder 3 steps up. So Dave installed a pulley system so the boys' could put things in a basket at the bottom of the ladder, climb up, and then haul things up.
 So there you have it, that is the boys' new room. All built with stuff Dave found at Home Depot, a couple of power saws and a drill.
In case you're wondering how we did this with any sanity, he built each piece separately in the back yard, and the gradually assembled them in the boys' room. This meant that all of the sawing and most of the drilling took place in the back yard, and minimal time was spent in their actual room. He didn't put the ladder in place until the bed was well reinforced, so no one could get up there until it was safe. He also put felt pads along the bottom of all the wood, which should hopefully help the hardwood floor not get too badly damaged from all the weight.

And yes, my house was turned upside down for two of three weeks, with bins of toys and books and dressers strewn in odd places all through the living room and Emma's room. But then, we had a newborn, so it would have looked like that in any case. Might as well get the chaos over with all at once.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Pre-Knitting Issues

I have recently started knitting, and I like it. I like picking wool. I like the meditative process of knitting. I have always loved wearing wooly sweaters, hats and scarves so I am glad to make my own. But there is one part I'm struggling with. How do I get from this:
Hat yarn for Owen, Aaron and Andrew
To this:
Leftovers from fingerless gloves I knit my Sister in Law for Christmas
Without this in the middle:

Emma's hat yarn

I have been trying, unsuccessfully I might add, to untangle this 200yd long knot for a full day now, and everytime I almost get it better, it gets another big snag in it. Sigh.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Good Folks Bed Quilt Progress

So, egged on by the my precious quilt-along , and the super hot summer, I have begun work again on a quilt for my bed. Right now I only have a feather duvet, and I like to have something laying on top of me while I sleep (children don't count).

 I had one block for this quilt cut out and partially sewn together about a year ago, but then I stalled. I liked the one block, but the thought of cutting up all my Good Folks fabric (a now discontinued line of gorgeous fabrics) was unbearable. And without some sort of design wall, how could I know which fabrics would need to go where in the quilt? It was a quandry, so I stopped. 

Now that I have my "design wall" in place, right between the change table and the desk in my bedroom (there is a bed in there too, I swear), I felt confident cutting into the fabric and putting the blocks together. Once these giant blocks are cut out, they are not that difficult to sew together, and I have been making good progress on the sewing over the last two weeks:

These blocks are big - 24.5" finished. That means that the entire quilt contains nine blocks, plus a border. It is the prefect size to fully display these really large scale prints. The amazing thing about this line is that these prints look gorgeous in full meter lengths as clothes and quilt backs, but they also cut apart well for patchwork. I especially like how the top right pattern looks when cut and pieced (don't remember its name, sorry).

I have 5 blocks sewn now (didn't get a photo of the fifth one - it was too cloudy today), and four left to sew. At that point, I think I will stitch them together and set them aside until I get a couple of other projects completed, and until two of the four children are back at school in September. I have a very small sewing space in the middle of the living room, and I can just imagine the "hilarious" pranks Aaron would think up if I left a giant quilt half-quilted on the desk in the living room . ..

I'm sure I"ll come back to it soon, though, because I just can't wait to get this finished and in use.

Friday, July 13, 2012

{this moment}

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

See more at <a href=""> soulemama </a>

Monday, July 9, 2012

Semi-miraculous day

Not only did I get these sewn together, but I had a clean floor to take photos of them. Rarely do sewing and floor cleaning get done simultaneously around here these days. In further sewing news, this is my "design wall" today:

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Montreal Jazz Festival

Well, our summer plans suddenly changed, and July was freed up for some much needed holiday time. Between visitors, insulating the basement and renting out our upstairs and downstairs, we didn't actually have time for a holiday last summer, and the year before our vacation time was used moving to Montreal, so its been a long time since we've had time to just relax and do nothing.

We always go to a music festival in the summer - its a long running tradition. Usually we try to hit a folk music festival because they are kid and family friendly, and we like the variety of world music and singer songwriters and indy Canadian bands. The vibe is fun and cheerful, and at night the music all happens in once place, so we can just lay down a tarp, set up a small tent and let the kids draw or play or sleep while we listen to music. Since we have a new baby this year, and the closest really good festival we could find that was English was 7 hours drive away, we decided to skip the folk fest for this year. Instead, we realized that there was free music all week right in our own town.

How does one take four young children to the Montreal Jazz festival? Like this:

Set up your tent and tarp anyway, close to the edge of one of the stages that has grass. Make sure it is close to the edge of the festival grounds, so you can easily carry sleeping children back to the vehicle afterwords. Bring a lock to keep your lawn chairs, snacks, toys, and quilts in while you wander around the festival.

Only go to the children's play area when there are no children there - not mid-afternoon on Canada Day:

Stay and watch the surrealist mime / acrobat show, even if you don't understand it (you are in Quebec, after all):

Take turns letting the kids run around the park where your tent is set up (when there's no music playing) and roaming around catching other shows. Divide and conquer the children, so you only have one or two children to keep track of when you are away from the tent / colouring supplies / snacks by yourself.

And finally, enjoy the festival vibe, ignore the university students smoking a hooka 5 feet away from you (true story), catch as much music as you can, and let your kids stay up late, play in the steam and lights dancing area, and eat hot dogs.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Let the summer sewing begin!

Hello there! At two months old, I decided it was time to take up sewing, and I wanted to model these stylish dragon bloomers. Perfect for the modern baby.
Complete with a cleverly fussy cut dragon on the posterior.

My sister thinks they're pretty fun.

Okay, so Owen didn't really write all that. But he did watch me. The bloomers are from my favorite baby sewing book, "Simple Sewing for Baby" by Lotta Jansdotter, sewed up in organic quilting cotton from the "Happy Drawings" collection. I also made me a skirt - the "Make it Perfect Wrap Skirt", which is really simple and fits quite perfectly. The orange flowers are a Lotta Jansdotter print, and the brown is the inimitable Flea Market Fancy. I thought a wrap skirt would be perfect post partum, as it could shrink with me, and the pattern was pretty easy, so I thought I could manage it in my sleep deprived state.

This skirt would have been super simple if I hadn't tried to sew it 4 weeks post-partum. I actually sewed the three main skirt trapezoids together wrong, and didn't realized it until I had both the top and bottom stips completely sewed on and zig-zagged in place. The center fabric is an A-shaped trapezoid which gives the skirt its very flattering line. But upside down . . . not so flattering. So rather than ripping the entire thing apart, I thought of it like making darts, only down the entire length of the skirt. I folded over the length I wanted to get rid of at the top, and sewed down the skirt so that the new seam would join just above the already hemmed bottom of the skirt. It worked perfectly, so I ended up making a perfect skirt after all. Whew. Welcome to my new blog, by the way. Thanks for making the move with me. I'm back to tickling baby feet. Jill