14 September 2012

Is this my home?

I'm home. Home from my business trip...but it still feels a little like I'm not. What does home mean, really? After all, while I was on my business trip, home was my tent. My tent that I shared with 9 other girls who didn't know the meaning of quiet, especially when closing the door. Home was the hoodie that I brought with me and slept with every night...the hoodie my husband gave to me when we were in college after it shrank in the wash.

My first night home, so to speak, was spent at a friend's house since I wasn't allowed to drive for 24 hours (boss' orders). Me, her, her husband, and her two boys...I was still home even if I did have a really hard time figuring out the shower (hey, don't blame me - from MY height, the plunger thing to make it a shower was totally hidden by the temperature control knob).

Then I came home. But it still feels empty, even with me here. It's quiet, and I keep music or a movie/TV show on most of the time. And this IS home for me...but what is home? I don't think it's a place...although this is the place I keep my fabric and sewing machine, where I know what's in which kitchen cabinet and where things are in my messy but somewhat organized wardrobe.

Home isn't a building, folks. Home is a mindset. It's more an emotion, I think, than a place. I've never understood people being homesick for where they used to live, whether it's Mom and Dad's house, or a town that they've always been in. Maybe I'm just lucky that I moved around enough as a kid to realize that home, whether it was in one state, town, or country, or any other place, wasn't this place on a map. Even on sleepovers as a little kid, I wasn't homesick (at least not that I can remember!). Home was my family, my place to be comfortable, my place to relax.

So whether it's my tent on my business trip, my friend's house, my house, my parents' house, or any of the houses I grew up in, home truly is, as they say, where the heart is. Please smack me now, that was totally and utterly cheesy and corny, but it's what's on my mind.

Just because I've been away for a while doesn't mean that I've totally given up on my sewing. I've been sewing as much as possible since I've gotten home (though that isn't as much as I'd like due to some issues with my left's hard to hold a ruler in place to rotary cut if you can't push down hard enough) and I did work on a secret hand-work project while I was away. I can't post any pictures of that for now, but I can leave you with a picture of the first completed block for my next baby quilt! I'm using the Story Time Stars pattern by Bonnie Hunter, with a few tweaks of my own, of course. I haven't totally decided on my sashing or setting yet, but I'm loving the concept!

The center of each star is a crumb block (I don't have many novelty fabrics) of a secondary color. The points and background of the stars are the two primary colors that make up that secondary color. Kids are never too young to get some color theory! I've finally made a dent in my crumbs now that I've made six center blocks of each color (so I can pick and choose which blocks I like for the quilt). The added bonus? I'm finally moving into using Bonnie's Scrap User's System. Some day, I hope to be as successful with it as Bonnie...but until then, I'm happy with my tiny start of 2.5" strips left over from cutting the pieces for my stars!

Please don't judge the photography, either - it's getting late and I want to get this post up tonight so I took the picture with my webcam (hence the soft focus and odd angle). Just wanted to give ya'll an idea of the cuteness of a crumb secondary color center with primary outsides...I want to squeal, I think it's so adorable! Plus it's great at using me on this one!

Good night, dear readers, and I'll hopefully be on here a little more often again. Hopefully. :) After all, 12 babies who need quilts between last month and March? Sheesh...maybe not so many wordy posts, but plenty of quilty picture goodness! Please hold me to that!


26 April 2012

Perspective and other such things

I haven't posted here for a while. It's simply become a habit not to. But I need to vent for a minute, and while this probably isn't the best way to encourage readers to stick with me (especially since I've been gone for what seems like forever)...I need to get this off my chest.

November was when I last posted. It seems like years ago right now. If you've read this blog from its beginning (or read all of my ever-so-many posts), you remember that my husband was gone (I didn't mention it outright in every post, but it was mentioned at least once or twice in passing. He was on a business trip for 3 months. Well, he's on a business trip again, but this time I'll be on one while he's gone too.

He left before me, last week. It's funny, knowing that I'll be leaving too, because it doesn't matter how much I know that I'll be gone too. It doesn't matter how much my head knows something, because it still feels like it did on the last long business trip. Except for one glaring difference so far, which I'm not sure if it's because I know I'm leaving too or what...I haven't cried since he left.

Don't get me wrong - I was a miserable wreck for the five or so days before he left (when we found out the exact date). I mean that in every sense of the term - we got the exact date, I started crying for no particular reason. We'd be talking about something random and then WHAM, the tears were there. He was wonderful about it, though, and would just sit there and hold me the whole time, trying to make me feel better. The morning he left, well, every time I looked at him I'd break down sobbing. He'd make me laugh as tears were rolling down my face. I'd talk to a friend whose husband was going on the trip too and with no warning, I'd just start bawling. But as soon as he left and I can't see him or touch him (because Skype/Google Video Chat is AMAZING), nothing.

Last time, it was the one week mark that did it for me. One week in and I had what I referred to as my "breakdown day" because I just lost it. I'd woken up from a dream that he was with me, holding me, and then he wasn't there and that was it. I lost it and spent most of the day moping.

But this time...I haven't cried. And it bugs me enough that I just started a sentence with and, which I know is grammatically incorrect and should bug me. I want to cry but I can't, and because I can't I get upset because I want to, and it's this whole nasty cycle. I've watched romantic movie after romantic movie to no avail. My eyes might water up but then it all just gets sucked into my eye as if my eye is a desert. I even tried what I thought would be my secret weapon - this video. And nothing. I kind of feel all the time like I should cry, like I know that it would make me feel better and less mopey, but I don't. And I don't know why I'm confiding in you, whomever you may be, but since I've been watching too many girly movies, this quote popped into my head as being perfect for this spot. It's from "You've Got Mail" which is definitely high on my list of awesome girly movies for when I'm sad.
So much of what I see reminds me of something I read in a book, when shouldn't it be the other way around? I don't really want an answer. I just want to send this cosmic question out into the void. So good night, dear void. 
And now, since I've probably thoroughly depressed all of you, I thought I'd at least share something sewing-related. Well, I was going to share some stuff from my flickr stream but am getting an error because of the password on my flickr. And since I'm not about to lose everything I've written...hmm. Well, for one, I have kept my finishes and my WIPs up to date-ish. Except that the number of quilts I now need to make is up to 9, just for the babies. That's right - NINE baby quilts from now until March. And I'll be on a business trip (read: no sewing machine or fabric!) for at least a chunk of that! I choose to blame the pile-up of quilts on one coworker, whose wife is pregnant with triplets. One-third of my quilts are for his family, haha, not that he knows it!

And so, since this photo is on my hard drive, the recipient of this quilt just recently sent me a picture of it. I made this by hand when I was in college for a friend whose wedding I missed, then whose son's birth I missed. So I made them this quilt (drafted on my trusty graph paper!) by hand, piece by piece, in college, quilted it by hand, and for the first time, used a sewing machine to attach the binding to the front of the quilt and then sewed the back by hand. She sent me a picture of the quilt on her couch not too long ago so I could share it on the blog as it's a better picture than I had on my own. This friend of mine also happens to be an author who has a book that will be free 27-28 April on Amazon for your kindle, so check it out! Her blog, with info about the promotion, is here, so go check it out! And without further ado, the picture.

I probably love it more than I should, but I still love everything about that quilt. The design came from a website I'd found (this was back probably 7 or 8 years ago, so I have no idea where) and I simplified it so that it would work in a quilt. I added the border myself (original didn't have one) because it needed SOMETHING to enclose it. The backing is muslin, and the quilting is echo quilting in matching thread. As in, one line of quilting inside of each shape about 1/4" from the edge, and also one line of quilting outside of each shape in a nice harvest gold shade of quilting thread. I'm glad to see it's still holding up well, since it was not very densely quilted and it was pieced by hand! Let's hope it lasts as long as some of the old antique hand-pieced quilts!

With that, dear readers (if there are any of you out there), I'm going to say thank you. I feel much better after venting, so hopefully there will be no more angsty posts, and more posts in general. They won't all necessarily be about quilting itself since I'm not going to have a machine, but I should at least hopefully be able to catch us up with the quilts I've finished and haven't blogged about yet.

So this begs the question - what are YOU up to quilting-wise, or anything else-wise?

15 November 2011

Untitled by emmac350
Untitled, a photo by emmac350 on Flickr.

Top finally completed for baby Bryce, born a few weeks ago!

21 September 2011

Working, working

Just wanted to share a quick picture of my current project. Mod Mosaic blocks, 12.5" square. This has to be gender neutral which is hard. I'm loving the way it's turning out though!

I'm linking this up with Design Wall Monday over at Patchwork Times!

29 August 2011

Stash Report Week Something

This stash report, well, confesses a lot. Because I bought 30 yards of fabric (15 yards of Kona Snow for sashings and 15 yards of the chocolate helicopters from the Ready, Set, Go! collection by Ann Kelle for Robert Kaufman...I'm a helicopter pilot who works with helicopter pilots who have babies. It'll get used!)...I don't know if/when I'll ever get back in the positive! Oh, and I have a question - should I count the blocks I'm making for the Civil War Love Letters Quilt as I make them? They're going to take ages to finish, so I would like to, but at the same time, that means I can't count them when they're a top. So many choices! Gah! If I include the blocks I've done, then I have used another .5 yards...but if I don't count them, then at the end I can have a massive amount come off when I've completed the top...but that may not be for another few months! Or longer!

Used this week: 1.8 yards ('s a start!)
Used year to date: 14.6 yards
Added this week: 30 yards
Added year to date: 90.8 yards
Net usage for 2011: (75.4 yards)

Fabric used:

Baby SM's Quilt Backing - 1 yards
Binding for SM's Quilt - .2 yards
Blocks for the Black Rock Stitchery - .3 yards
Block for August in the Scrap Busters' Bee - .1 yards

Baby SM's Quilt

Baby SM's Quilt was finished and delivered on a Sunday and she was born the following Tuesday. I finished it just in time! As for the quilting, I decided to do it all with my free-motion foot. I quilted in the ditch (with the FMF so it was all wobbly like a little kid drew on the quilting) on all of the stars. Then I tried out a few free-motion quilting techniques in the blank squares. Pattern is a edited version of Bonnie Hunter's Random Ohio Stars (I just scaled the stars down to make the quilt finish baby-sized).

Front of Quilt:

Back of Quilt:

My favorite free-motion block of all - it's based on Icicle Lights from the Free Motion Quilting Blog:

My favorite color combination block of all:

My mistake block (can't get by without confessing that one):

A few more awesome blocks and closer-in views of the quilt:

My new way of signing the backs of quilts - fussy cut helicopters from the Ready, Set, Go! collection by Robert Kaufman:

I hope you've enjoyed looking at this new quilt finish; hopefully I'll be able to blog a little more often in September as my schedule is supposed to be a bit less crazy. We'll see, but I hope to see you all again soon!

19 June 2011

It's been a while since my last post...and I feel like I spend every post's beginning saying that. But oh well! I have lots of confessions and lots of exciting things and lots of pictures to show you all! So that being said...

Baby C's Quilt

I have a friend, whom we'll call K (yes, I use a lot of initials, but I don't want people to be angry about their identities appearing online...I'm a big fan of privacy) who has now just had a baby. She has an 18 month old son, E, and a newborn son, C. I've known K as long as I've known A and M from the previous post. I found out this winter that she was pregnant and I obviously was going to make her a quilt. She's dabbled in quilting and has made a top but never quilted it. She does do rag quilts and such though. So anyways, I was going to make her a quilt. The baby room was going to be done up in Mickey Sports stuff but she wanted a "bright quilt like you [I] make" so I had to oblige her. I went with a simplified bento box design that I had played around with in my spare time. I went bright and colorful and somewhat gender neutral with the colors and loved the result.

I just quilted in the ditch on this one. I thought about filling in the parts of the boxes with quilting but decided I wanted to leave the design to shine through without the quilting hiding it. I love quilting but sometimes you just don't want it to outshine the quilt itself.

Front of the quilt:

Back of the quilt:

Front and back folded together:


All folded up and ready to give to mommy!

Baby S's Quilt

This quilt has been almost a year in the making. It was 7 months late, but his mom didn't seem to care. Her inspiration for the baby's room was this bedding set. I did log cabin blocks last June and got the top made up right before I started my international move. I took the top with me on my traveling before leaving the country and bought backing and hand-quilting supplies (mine had long been packed up at this point) to hand-quilt on the driving and flying to get to Germany. JoAnn Fabrics had the PERFECT backing fabric - a striped fabric with all of the colors (green, orange, brown, and blue also with a bit of white and yellow mixed in) which I used. I hand-quilted it with white thread in a combination of loops and stippling. It started out as stippling but I like it crossing over itself every so often...I like the circle-type shapes it creates. Because this quilt was hand-quilted, it got put on the back burner a lot, but it got pulled out more than a few times for driving. My husband usually drives when we're going on a trip, so I sit in the passenger seat and sew or read. This quilt finally got finished when I was back in the states at the beginning of June. I hand-sewed the binding, got pictures of it, and sent it off to the family who emailed me about a week later thanking me profusely.

Front of quilt:

Back of quilt:

Front and back:

Baby SM's Quilt

Baby SM's father is a coworker of mine. She (initials are of her first and middle name, to distinguish her from baby S) is the fifth baby and the first girl. So her quilt had to be girly, that's for sure! She's due August 1 and I've completed the top. I used Bonnie Hunter's Random Ohio Stars pattern and scaled it back from 12" and 6" stars to 9" and 4.5" stars. I tried to arrange the colors a bit like a rainbow, so the mostly red ones are at the top and the mostly blue ones are at the bottom. It isn't a perfect gradient but it's close.

My problem with this quilt is that I have NO IDEA how to quilt it. How do you quilt something like this? I can't just quilt in the ditch without spending a significant amount of time turning the quilt around to go around the sides of the triangle pieces. I can't do straight line stitching based off of the edges of the blocks since they overlap and don't go straight from one side to the other. I've only done one quilt (the doll quilt I entered in the Blogger's Quilt Festival) with free-motion quilting so I'm hardly an expert on that, but I'm thinking I need to figure something out to FMQ on it. But what? Will I have to do separate designs in the stars vs. in the background? I'm stuck. I don't even know if I'm going to do one of what my husband calls my "traditional" backings where I slice it up and put mini versions of the same thing as on the front in a row across it. This quilt just has me stymied! Also, I just used the word stymied. Any ideas ya'll have would be greatly appreciated! Oh, and I just noticed (it's hard to see in the picture but it's there) that one star has one set of points turned 90 degrees the wrong way. It's not in an easy-to-fix place so I'll just leave it as it is. My husband convinced me not to tear the whole top apart to fix one piece on a small star, somehow. Oh well, I guess it's got character like a lot of the old antique quilts you see.

The Wanna-Be Farmer's Wife Quiltalong

If you haven't been hiding under a rock or in a cave for the past two weeks, you've probably seen that there is a rather large group of quilters doing the Farmer's Wife Quiltalong right now. I really wanted to do it but don't have the book. Rather than buy the book and do it, I decided to instead do the Civil War Love Letters Sampler Quilt. My now Mother-in-Law (I think this was over the Christmas break where my husband proposed to me, but it might have been the year before, I'm not sure ) bought it for me as a Christmas present. My book, however, didn't come with a CD so I've been tracing the pictures in the book and teaching myself to paper piece with them. It's been a little rough but things are turning out okay. Some of the ones with more pieces are turning out slightly smaller than they should be, but they're generally working out okay. It's definitely fixable with some creative fudging on my sashing (whatever I choose for it). The best part is that I'm using all scraps (I've had to pull the bigger piece of one of the fabrics out when my scrap wasn't big enough one time so far, but other than that my usage is all scraps) from my brown, green, blue, and orange bags. My husband really liked the colors from baby S's quilt, so he requested that I do this quilt in those colors. This quilt will be for out bed so I'm going to do enough for two extra rows to make it rectangular. I have NO IDEA how I'm going to quilt this since I only have a tiny machine - maybe I'll find someone around me with a long arm that they can teach me how to use so I can use it? This quilt will most likely end up sized for a California King sized bed (our future bed when we get back to the states) so it's not going to fit in my little Jenny the Janome. *sigh* Maybe I should save up for a longarm? I can't imagine that I'll be able to save up enough for it to make it happen now or anytime relatively soon but I can always hope, can't I? My husband thinks it's cheating if someone else quilts my quilts, so getting it longarmed by someone else probably isn't an option. I don't know...maybe the size of this one will change that. We'll see.

The blocks I've finished so far:

Block 1: Enthusiasm

Block 2: A Secession Ball

Block 3: Healthful Region

Block 4: March in the Mountains (this one won't lay's not as funny-shaped as it looks like it is)

Block 5: Sorrows of War

Block 6: Liberal with Furlough (newest one finished and it really won't lay flat yet

Stash report number whatever it is...

Used this week: 2.5 yards
Used year to date: 13.0 yards
Added this week: 52 yards
Added year to date: 60.8 yards
Net usage for 2011: (47.8 yards)

Fabric Used:

.75 yard - binding for baby C's quilt
.75 yard - binding for baby S's quilt
1 yard - top for baby SM's quilt

Fabric Added:

50 yards of FQs (200 FQs from 2x100 FQ sets from Keepsake Quilting...some of it is visible in the picture above...some of my husband's present is also visible on the left)
2 yards of Fox print fabric also from Keepsake Quilting (I love foxes)

Back in the negatives again, sadly. And I have a TON to use up here before I am back in the positive. So help me use it. Give me ideas for quilting the Random Ohio Stars quilt for baby SM so I can pull a backing and quilt it. Help me come up with ways to use more fabric, because the year is half over and 47.8 yards of fabric is a lot to use up. I will get back in the positive...somehow...

19 May 2011

It's time for the Blogger's Quilt Festival!

Hi! If you're coming over here from the Blogger's Quilt Festival, welcome to the Quilting Hermit! My quilt for the Festival is very special (I'm sure everyone else's quilts are too) to me and to a wonderful little girl that I knew for almost a year.

It all started when my husband and I moved to Europe and my husband left on a several month business trip. One of the people who helped me out a TON was my new friend, A. I met A and her daughter, M, at church the first week I was there when A introduced herself and made me feel like I was truly welcome in church (sometimes it can be pretty daunting to show up as a new person, even in church!). A picked me up from dropping one of the cars off for 7:30 in the morning. And then she dropped me back off the next morning, also at 7:30, to pick up said car when it was done. She never complained about it. It was my first time that my husband and I had been apart (we'd been married a little over a year at that point) and I was in a new place, trying to figure out life in a totally new country! So someone who is willing to drive you back home so you can make it to work by 9 is golden.

I started to get to know M one Sunday when A unexpectedly invited me to go see "Ramona and Beezus" (an hour's drive away) with M and one of M's friends. On the drive, I realized that M is quite a bit like me when I was her age (8 years old) - imaginative, loving to read, curious about everything. I explained why I couldn't wear pierced earrings to her, and also how non-pierced earrings work. She found out that I sewed, and was enthralled.

A, M, and I still got together (although not as often) once I started working full time. We'd go to board game nights with a few other friends (hooray, Settlers of Catan!) and enjoy each other's company. It seemed like just a few days later when our husbands all finally came back from their business trips and we only saw each other in church. And just a few months after that, A and M were going to be leaving Europe for the States! All of those times we said "we should get together" but never did suddenly seemed like such a shame...I should have made time for A and M. So on the night before they flew, we finally got together for a short time during board game night at my house. I took A and M into my sewing room and M had a blast looking through my fabric scraps. I offered to make her a doll quilt and she requested something with beach colors.

I knew what I wanted to do for the quilt - make one of my typical drawings from my childhood into a quilt for her. When I was her age, I would draw ocean scenes in sidewalk chalk all over the driveway. They consisted of an ocean floor full of wildlife, a desert island with a palm tree, and a sun either in the top corner or setting over the whole scene, with a few M shaped seagulls flying overhead. I decided to try free-piecing with this quilt, and you can see my first free-pieced fish (Nemo's dad Marlin) here. I made the rest of the top fairly quickly, although that palm tree was the absolute bane of my existence. The completed top, basted and just barely started with the quilting is here.

I taught myself free motion quilting (or at least started teaching myself) with this quilt. No practice pads, no making pot holders to try a new quilting design. I started out with stitching the seaweed in the ditch, then outlined the three fish, then made the swirls in the water. From there I put the waves on the strip at the top of the water, made bark and veins on the palm tree, and quilted the sun and seagulls. Then I attacked the big elephant in the room: pebbling. I don't know why I thought pebbling would be so hard. It wasn't. I figured it out on my own. My pebbles are rather messy, but I don't mind. They're perfect for their purpose in life. I pebbled the beach and the ocean bottom and gave the fish scales. I bound it with some leftover binding, and for the first time ever put hanging triangles on the back.

I think that's all the description I let's see some pictures! Yay pictures!

Front overall view of the quilt:

Closeup on the sun's quilting/piecing:

The seagulls...I LOVE them!

The palm's a little rough, but that thing was a bear and a half to make. I almost gave up on the whole quilt just because of how difficult those fronds were to piece! Luckily, my husband encouraged me...and while it's still not perfect, it's perfect. You know?

Closeup on the desert island...that fabric was won in a giveaway almost a year ago. I won some bags of scraps and this fabric was in it! So perfect!

Ocean waves! Love them!

Dory...she was a little hard to make, but I got her. All of the fish have scales, but they're easiest to see on her dark stripe on her back.

Nemo and his dad, Marlin. Marlin came first, then Nemo. Such a cute little family!

Pebbling on the bottom of the ocean - this fabric was another one that I won in the giveaway. Everything in the giveaway was perfect (a lot of the leaf fabrics I used in my mom's Falling Leaves quilt were from this same set of scraps) for projects I've done or are planning on doing.

Overall view of the back. In hindsight I would have used something other than that purple fabric for the hanging triangles, but they were already cut and didn't require anything but a quick press down the center of their diagonal before using.

One last artsy shot. I love this quilt.

A said that they have received the box, but M's birthday isn't until the 24th and she's not going to open it until then. If you want to know how M liked it, check back next week!

If you haven't already, go check out Amy and the rest of the participants in the Blogger's Quilt Festival!

Amy's Creative Side