Thursday, January 31, 2013

Christmas Leftovers

Oh dear! It seems I've left these photos languishing in an unfinished blog post for far too long! I did squeeze in a few handmade gifts for my kids this year despite all the craziness the fall and early winter brought us. I had promised a little handmade something for each of the three older kids, confident (as usual) that I would have no problem whipping up a little last minute magic. Well, the magic eluded me. Two days before Christmas my sewing desk looked like this:

It was this doll, you see. She is gorgeous. And very handstitched. The arms and legs must be hand sewn in place, and the hair must be hand stitched (tightly) onto her head. She was worth the effort, but more time consuming than I had expected (she is the Kit, Chloe and Louise Doll from wee wonderfuls - the pattern is sheer genius as always, and I can't wait to make the clothes).
So, here I am at 2am on Christmas Eve, desperately trying to finish these ninjas. Unfortunately, Owen was getting teeth, and I had Christmas dinner to make and lego to put together the following day, so they arrived in the boys' stockings without stuffing. My boys were NOT impressed, but also not suprised.

Because Emma is younger, I did finish her doll's face. She was originally going to have buns, but Emma likes the ponytails and wouldn't let me tie them up. Her name is Bebe, which makes her the grown up version of Emma's favorite baby doll - Bebe.
I love making these ninjas, from a pattern by melly and me. I made some of these last year for Easter and they were a big hit with the boys. So much so that they requested a second set.
The red ninja got finished and wrapped up for my nephew. He was much coveted by my neice (who got paints and paper dolls) and so this red ninja will probably have a sparring partner by April at the latest.

These green and blue ninjas were for my boys:
 As you can see, they are very sneaky, and enjoy Christmas oranges as much as the next softie (possibly they are from the Mandarin province?)
 And of course they also like a good sparring match in their battle ring (possibly the real reason they were so eager to finish off those oranges?).
And here is a glamour shot of Bebe. Isn't she sweet? I think she needs a dress for valentines day.

So, there is a (very late) round up of my Christmas sewing.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Swearing Ensued . . .

Oh, it was one of those weekends. The kind where you try to get projects done and nothing works.

I have been trying to finish this Madrona Road quilt, and it has been making me a little crazy. I'm not big on lots of negative space, but I decided to play around with it so I could work with the idea of the blocks being fragmented, like the text in the text print.

In practice, what this means is puzzling lots of different blocks together with lots of solid fabric strips and squares. These were my blocks, all finished and ready to be pieced together on Saturday night, after a day preparing for and then running a birthday party (great timing, I know).

I got all the white strips and squares cut out and placed them on my flannel-backed tablecloth that I had laid out on the floor as a design wall. I started stitching them together, with high hopes I could get them finished that night. At around 12am I was about half way there and thought I might be able to finish by 1am. And then Emma woke up. Then Owen woke up. Then Emma woke up AGAIN. It was now about 1:30, and I knew I wasn't going to get the quilt done. So I picked up the tablecloth to move the quilt pieces out of the middle of my floor, so it didn't get trampled in the morning . . . and they all fell off the tablecloth.

As you can imagine, there was some cursing. I had about 25 white strips and squares of various lengths (unmarked, of course, because I was in a hurry) drifting across the dark floor.

Well, I went to bed. I put the finished parts and the blocks on my design wall in my bedroom so they didn't get wrinkled beyond repair, and left the rest on a pile. I didn't have the heart to put them back together until Sunday night. On Tuesday, I took advantage of the cold snap and the fact that Emma was pretty content after having friends over in the morning and I finally finished the quilt top:

Its small, but its done and right now that's what matters. Now on to some quilting......

Friday, January 18, 2013

{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.

Monday, January 14, 2013

If you are a contact over in Flikr, you know already that I'm working on the Modern Quilt Guild Madrona Road Challenge right now. If you finish your quilt by the end of the month, there's a chance it can go to QuiltCon. I think that would be cool if my quilt could go, since I can't, so I've been using my small bits of spare time to work on this challenge. We received 6 or so 1/8th yards of fabric from the blue/yellow colourway of a fabric line called Madrona Road.

Since I'm a wordy type of person, the first thing I did was read the text print. It is made up of fragments of what could be one or many stories told in fairy tale language. I decided that I wanted to do a quilt that did the same thing visually - took some of my favorite images from the text and made them into scenes.

Before I left for the sew-in on Saturday, I had this done:

And when I got back, I had this done:
As you can see, I was very busy in the four hours I was there. I am a pretty chatty, extroverted person, so I needed to talk with everyone and find out what they were doing. It was lots of fun getting to know everyone and watching all the different ways people work through a design. I was once more reminded that I need to learn French, as about half of the conversation went right by me (as is typical in Montreal, it was carried out alternately in English and French - sometimes people switching mid-comment from one language to the other). I do remember some French from highschool, though, so I tried hard to listen close and see what I could pick out.

 The other problem was that I didn't do the house roof the way sarah taught us during sarah and molly's free piecing study, as I didn't have enough blue fabric. Instead I messed around with the sides of the roof for about an hour sewing and un-picking and sewing and un-picking again.

When I came home and put my blocks up on my design wall again, Emma decided that SHE needed some houses too, so we cut up some scraps for her. I suggested we sew them together, but she thought that was a ridiculous idea - how will she play with them if they're sewed together?
Wouldn't you know it - as soon as I got home I decided that the blue fabric was too low contrast and I've ripped it off and started the roof over again. Silly, silly me.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

No Longer a Lone Wolf

I am super excited that tomorrow is the first sew-in that I'm going to attend with the Montreal Modern Quilt Guild! I don't think I've ever done anything like this before. In case you're wondering, the white plastic bit in the middle of my photo is the removable front plate / hidden drawer / bobbin cover on my sewing machine. Due to some rough treatment, it no longer stays on my machine, and had to be packed with the presser foot and power bar.
This is my bag before I put in the flannel backed table cloth and rulers, plus my mini ironing board and my sewing machine (recently "decorated" with stickers again. sigh). It was super fun to swap out the diapers and spare pants and underwear (for one baby and one potty training girl) and sketch books and mini dinosoars (for distractions in check outs / line ups / church / meetings) for all my sewing and quilting stuff. I was impressed because all of the things in the above photo including my iron are tucked away in there.

I didn't say I would bring an iron / ironing board, but I'm going to be free piecing, and when I'm free piecing I use my iron about every 5 minutes, so I thought I would bring my own rather than hog the communal iron.

As I said on Flikr, when I'm free piecing its cut, sew, iron, cut, sew, iron, rip apart, repeat.

Hopefully I'll actually remember to do a post-meeting update this time. The last time I went it was great to meet everyone and see all their fantastic creativity, but I had Owen with me and he insisted on talking the whole time, so I was a little embarrassed. It was super fun, none the less. This time I'm going baby free (Dave is valiantly taking on all four kids for a few hours by himself) so I should be a little more relaxed.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Library Books

When we were in Saskatchewan, and I was "that" stay at home mom, we went to the library every week. We would go for story time, then pick some books and one video. Andrew - then Andrew and Aaron - would pull chairs up to the counter to have a chat with the librarians. All the librarians would come out and chat as they thought my boys were so funny. They would order books in for Andrew from bigger libraries when the Melfort library ran out of books on a topic he was interested in.When he went to school, things fell apart a little. We didn't get there quite every week with Aaron who hated going out of the house and Emma who was a sleepy baby and usually napped at story time.

Then we moved to Montreal. The library was closer - only two blocks away - so things were looking up. I thought that even if I was working, we could all go on Saturday and keep up with the books and the reading. Things did not go as planned. First, two thirds of the library was French. Second, the children's library is small, and often crowded on the weekend. They allow families to take out board games and play at the tables in the downstairs part of the library. A crowd of rowdy Chapmans is not a welcome addition to all the quiet, relaxed board game players who apparently have much better parents.

So we don't get to the library much. Just enough to take out books and make them a week or two late before we get back. It just seems like such a chore. Then there's trying to convince Andrew to take out some French books so he can practice his French, and finding an English book that is at his level that he will actually read. And trying to dissuade Aaron from taking out The Seven Crystal Balls (Tintin) that we've read 100 times and scares him every time. While doing this, the baby wants to get down and crawl, or at the very least get out of his carrier, and Emma wants to run up and down the ramp and pull out all the board books. We end up making a cacophony in the library, and exiting with a stack of books I haven't pre-approved and have to hide until they get forgotten about and then, well, not returned until I get the automated call from the Montreal Public Library reminding me that the materials I have borrowed are overdue.

The thing is that Andrew is supposed to read 15 min. a day in French and English. I let him alternate days, but still, that requires having reading materials around the house that are a) interesting and b) at his reading level. This is complicated by the fact that we are not a francophone household, so no one in the house reads French fluently except for him (I try but he complains about my accent). So I don't know what level he's reading at or what books he might like, and he has no one to help him with words when he gets stuck. And I don't know what might interest him that is within his reading level. And in English, he wants to read the Hobbit or the Mysterious Benedict Society, but he just started reading English this year, so he can't read those things yet. Finding books that will interest him AND that he can read himself is tricky. He doesn't really know what will work for him, and I can't spend the time to help him with 3 other kids to supervise.

Today, I decided to try something new. I decided that just me and the younger two kids would go to the library in the afternoon. Because the library is small it was still packed with kids - possibly homeschoolers? - and Owen still fussed. But I did get about 5 minutes to actually find some books that Andrew might read, and some books Aaron might enjoy that won't give him nightmares, and some books that Emma might like that we don't already have at home. And all the kids were happy to read the books I picked when we got home and school was over. I'm hoping maybe I can make this a habit every week or two weeks, so we could actually return books and get new books with enough frequency that my kids can get excited about reading more again. We'll see. I'll let you know how it goes.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

2012 Making in Review

When I was thinking about what I had accomplished this year, I felt like I hadn't made anything at all. Maybe a softie or two, and a doll quilt and maybe something or another for the baby. But then when I went to make a mosaic I realized why I haven't finished anything big. Its because I did a lot of small project sewing - mostly for small people. If I look around my house, I see lots of handmade, but often I can't even remember when it was made. I guess this year I had lots of requests from kids, and lots of practical things that I wanted to sew instead of buy, and not so many friends having babies.

When I look at my mosaic, I'm pretty happy with my year. Considering I was working for half the year and I had a new baby in the house (and 3 other kids for the summer), and we went through the crisis of Latin (twice) which has ultimately led to the untimely demise of the PhD project my husband was attempting, I think I did okay to fit in any sewing time at all.

Here's to a 2013 with less excitement and more sewing.