Spring is Here (finally)

We had a long winter in my neck of the woods. Long enough that my son had a snow day in early April! Now spring is finally here with its rainy days (we are supposed to have rain everyday this week), and on the days of no rain, bike rides, sidewalk chalk, and other outdoor activities abound.

Spring is known for being a time of renewal, decluttering, and cleaning. I have been trying to take some time to think about these things. This winter, I spent a few months in hibernation. Until we had a few sunny days, I didn’t realize how much I had withdrawn from my own life. Apparently it was a rougher winter than I thought. Now that I am feeling present again it is time to get things done.

Years ago I had to simplify my hobbies. I had too many things I wanted to do, and the end result was that I didn’t get much time to do any of them. These days I focus my limited free time on time with my family, sewing, and writing. If I only have time for only a few hobbies, I need to pick the ones that matter most to me. When I sat down and looked at the long list of crafts, hobbies, and other time sinks I enjoyed, theses were the ones that came out on top. I expect they will change over time, but right now my focus is on finding time for each of these things.

For the last month I’ve made a real effort to exercise. As much as I would love to find time for writing and sewing, I know from experience I need to feel good about myself to be motivated to do much of anything. For me, exercise is the key for feeling good about myself (for me! your mileage may vary). Exercise helps me sleep well at night, keeps me strong enough to play with my kid, and allows me to feel productive. Plus it encourages my love of numbers. Now that I have exercise (both cardio and some basic strength) back into my weekly routine it is time to start adding in other things.

This month I want to focus on writing, with a bit of sewing thrown in. I hope to write twice a week for the rest of the month, and get at least two evenings of sewing. I already know what my projects are going to be! I will finish the Jungle Path quilt top, and write a new short story.

What helps you feel motivated? What hobbies are most important to you?

Mystery Quilt – Yellow Coin Baby Quilt

I can finally show you the Mystery quilt! Yesterday this baby quilt was delivered to the Mama-to-be at her shower. Now that the proud parents own it, I can share the quilt with the world. The finished quilt is about 33×39 inches.

Front of yellow coin quilt

I laid out the pattern myself, but kept it nice and simple. The small rectangles are 5×3 inches, the large ones 5×11 inches. For the ‘coin’ fabrics I chose four fabrics I liked, in colours that could work for a boy or girl. My goal for this quilt was to keep it bright and vibrant. From each fabric, I cut two large and five small rectangles. To get the last small rectangle, I used a scrap from a fun print that helped tie together the colours from the other fabrics. The layout was random, except for the little snail below, I knew I wanted him along the bottom.

Close up of yellow coin quilt

When it came time to back the quilt, I selected a fabric from my stash. I wanted a dark fabric that wouldn’t show dirt too easily, but that was still cheerful. This fabric in yellow and black was used in my son’s digger quilt and always gets a lot of compliments, so I went with it. I was a bit worried about how the white quilting thread would look, but I like how it turned out.

back of the baby quilt

For the quilting I did a loopy meandering pattern in white thread. This was my first time doing something other than a basic stipple. I couldn’t find a fabric I liked in my stash for the binding, so I decided to try a scrappy binding made from the four main quilt fabrics. I love it! I want to do a scrappy binding for all my kid quilts now. The label (that I’ve whited out above) includes my name, date, location, and who I’ve gifted it to. I like to keep my labels simple, but I feel they add a nice personal touch.

Edges of the coin quilt

Have you finished a quilt lately? Do you like to follow a quilt pattern or make your own?

Planning Ahead

I’m a planner and an organizer. I like to be prepared, and I like to think ahead. Of course I often don’t have time to plan ahead on everything, and sometimes the best laid plans don’t work out. Maybe a better statement is that I try to plan ahead.

As I have begun completing my first quilts, I’ve been looking ahead to new ones. Currently I have two quilts that need to be moved through the next stage. The first is the Mystery Quilt that needs to be quilted and bound so it is ready before the baby it is intended for is here. The second is my son’s bed quilt that needs to be pieced into the completed top.

My lap quilt top is finished, but until I have time and space to quilt it, it will stay as is. What this all means is that very soon I’ll have space in my quilting to start a new quilt top. Making the blocks and putting them into a finished top is my favourite part of quilting. The quilt tops I’d love to make at some point are:

  1. Pow Wow type quilt for my Mother. She likes the look, and I like that it has a flying geese type piece that would be new to me.
  2. Carpenter’s Wheel big block quilt. I really want to try Y-seams. This one won’t come until after the first though.
  3. A Moonlight Starts quilt. This would be made as an upgrade to the lap quilt I made for my husband. I’ll probably end up making this one sometime after the pow-wow and before the Carpenter’s Wheel. He really wants a quilt made entirely by me.
  4. A wrapped in Red quilt. I wouldn’t do this with Christmas fabrics. It would probably be red and white though. Since this one would be for my bed and much bigger than anything else I’ve made. I would make the top, but I’ll pay someone to do the quilting on it. Who knows when I will get around to this one!

Most likely the lap quilt for mom will be the first I make. It will be fun to pick the fabrics with her, and then make the top. The quilting on it will be a little ways down the road, but she is always very understanding of how long projects take me.

Do you plan a few quilts in advance? What projects are you working on right now?

New Years Goals (or Resolutions)

I like to set priorities, then goals within those priorities. For some reason this works better for me than trying to set resolutions.

My Priorities this year are:

  • Organizing the house with the top priority being a new crafting space
  • Sewing/Quilting
  • Writing
  • Exercising

My goals within these priorities are:

Organizing the House
The biggest thing on my mind right now is finding a sewing space in the house, and continuing to reduce the amount of clutter and stuff we own. Everytime I visit my mother or inlaws I am reminded that we don’t need as much as we have to get by. We can certainly get by with far less than we have. It will probably even make us happier in the long run. It will certainly make me less anxious.

With that in mind my specific goals are:
– Continue to get more out of the house than comes in, including at birthdays and other special times
– Set up the crafting corner in the study

Sewing/Quilting
I’ve really enjoyed sewing the last few years. I would love to try new sewing projects, but at the same time I’ve felt a real sense of accomplishment from the two quilts I finished. I would love to have several quilts living in my living room and one on each of the beds upstairs (eventually). This year I want to get a start on that goal.

Specific goals:
– Piece at least three quilt tops (this includes already started quilts)
– Finish at least three quilts (this can include any already started quilts)
I actually hope to accomplish more than this, but I don’t want to over commit.

Writing
I don’t always give writing the priority that I should. I enjoy writing new things, and I am learning (slowly) to edit what I’ve written. I was to continue to improve as a writer and that means getting the practice time in. I’m always telling my son he just needs to keep practicing his reading and it will get easier. Time to live by my own words.

Specific Goals:
– Write 10k a month (I was going to go with 3k a week, but my friend is doing this and I like it better)
– Submit to crit group at least eight times

Exercising
I’ll admit the goals I’ve set for this one aren’t enough. I know that, so I’m going to start small and work up through the year. For now my goal is only applicable to Jan and Feb while I find my feet after a far too long hiatus from all exercise.

Specific Goal:
– Exercise twice a week.

Accountability
To keep myself accountable I plan to include how I’m making out on my yearly goals when I do the wrap up of my monthly goals. I hope that the constant reminder will keep these priorities fresh in my mind and prevent me from forgetting about them next month or even next week.

Do you set resolutions each year? Do you ever complete them?

October Sewing Update

I know this is primarily a reading/writing blog, but once a month I indulge my sewing side. You can find all my quilting/sewing updates here.

This month I didn’t get around to any quilting. My attention has been on NaNoWriMo prep instead. I did get a small project started and finished though!

Fabric Memory Game

I made a fabric memory game for a baby shower gift earlier this month. The entire project took me about 2.5 hours. I mostly followed this tutorial. My squares were 4 inches before sewing. I used 100% cotton flannel for the front and back, plus some random leftover batting I had on hand in the middle. This was a project I’d been wanting to make for a few years, but hadn’t had a good reason. When I found out a friend was expecting and the shower was only a few weeks away I decided it was the perfect time to try it out.

I’m very pleased with how they turned out. I wrapped them in a green ribbon and added them to the books (Good Night Gorilla and Snuggle Puppy) and hand knit hat I had on hand. The Mother to be was pleased with the gift, and I made sure a lifelong friend had some cute handmade items for their new baby.

Have you done any sewing or other crafting this month? What craft projects do you have on the go?

October Goals

In September my goals were:

  1. Pick a project to work on from now until NaNo and stick to it! 5k this month. – Nope.
  2. Finish my Shoo Fly quilt top. I mostly just have to sew the rows together. – DONE!
  3. Create three detailed characters for my NaNo Novel. – DONE!
  4. Write up a detailed outline for my NaNo Novel idea. – half done

For number one I picked my YA Urban Fantasy Project. It was the project that called to me for submission to my critique group, and I really didn’t need three projects on the go at the same time. I did get some of the novel polished up enough to submit it for critique group, but I didn’t get any new words written.

For number four I have about the first third of the novel outlined, a bunch of ideas for the middle, and a good handle on the end.

My goals for October are:

  1. Get a sewing/writing area set up in the Study.
  2. Finish my NaNo novel outline.
  3. Make my travellers notebook.
  4. Use my bullet journal for the entire month.

What are your goals for October? Did you get everything done you wanted to in September?

September Quilting Update

I know this is primarily a reading/writing blog, but once a month I indulge my sewing side. You can find all my quilting/sewing updates here.

Shoo Fly QuiltShoo Fly Quilt

For the last few months I’ve been putting myself first when it comes to sewing. Any change I get I’m working on my Shoo Fly lapquilt for the couch. On September 9th I finished piecing together the quilt top! I’m very pleased with how it turned out.

Next steps are to order the batting and get it quilted. Before I can start on the quilting though I need to finish quilting the Star Quilt. I would love to have both these lap quilts finished and on the couch by Christmas time. It’s doable if I can find the quilting time. Something which unfortunately can be difficult because of the larger block of time needed.

jungle path block quiltJungle Path Quilt

Several years ago a friend of mine organized a quilting bee. We had twelve members and each month, for a year, we made a block for one member’s quilt. The first year I got the blocks for the Star Quilt. The second year I asked everyone to make me a modified Jungle Path block. I resized the block to be a 14 inch square, so the quilt could be made into a twin without needing a crazy number of blocks. The final layout of the twin quilt is 4 by 5 blocks. I may also add a bit of a border, but I really want to quilt it myself which means I need to aim for a small twin size. My machine doesn’t have a particularly large harp, so smaller is easier.

This quilt is destined for my son’s bed and I would love to have it finished by winter, but with two lap quilts to quilt (and bind) I’m not sure if I’ll manage it. As you can see from the picture, the blocks are finished. I also have the sashing strips for between the blocks in each row cut and ready to go. If I can get this quilt top pieced before I start quilting the Shoo Fly quilt I might move it ahead in the line up.

Have you done any sewing lately? What craft projects do you have on the go?

July Round Up

August has been so busy that I never got around to reviewing my July goals. In July my goals were:

  1. Win Camp NaNoWriMo. I’ve set a goal of 10k. – Done!
  2. Use my writing spreadsheet. – Done!
  3. Sew at least two nights. – Done! I spent one night on my shoo fly quilt (all but one row is sewn up), and I spent an afternoon fixing two pairs of shorts for my son.
  4. Continue to find fun ways to work on spelling words with my son. – Done.

I wrote a lot more than I expected in July. I wrote over 31k last month which was a pleasant surprise. Most of it was on a fluffy fanfic piece I likely won’t do anything with, but it was still writing and all practice is good practice.

I didn’t set any goals for August, but I’m going to set some for September. I’m not sure what all of them will be, but I know I want to work on some specific writing skills. Likely I’ll work on getting a solid outline for my NaNo novel for this year. The last few years I’ve worked from no or minimal outlines. This year I’d like to go back to working from a detailed outline.

I also want to go back to character development. I’ve said before that right now it is probably my weakest point. It isn’t as bad when I’m writing fanfiction, so I think the first step is to get a better handle on my characters before I start writing then.

Did you set any goals for August or are you on vacation as well? Have you started planning for NaNo in November?

July Quilting Update

I know this is primarily a reading/writing blog, but once a month I indulge my sewing side. You can find all my quilting/sewing updates here.

Shoo Fly QuiltGreen shoo fly quilt rowsThis month I decided to focus on getting my Shoo Fly quilt top finished up. Over two nights I’ve put together five of the six rows needed to complete the top. This quilt won’t have a border, so once the rows are done I just have to sew them together to call it done. I bought the backing fabric and the binding fabric for this one on my last trip to Avonport. Once I order the batting, (I’m going with warm and white since the dominant fabric is white), I’ll have everything I need to finish this quilt up.

Side angle of green shoo fly quilt

Star Quilt
I still haven’t made any progress on the Star Quilt. The good news, for my husband anyway, is that I have promised I will only have one quilt in the quilting phase from here on out. Will force me to quilt the Star before starting on the Shoo fly. I can’t promise I won’t be binding them at the same time though!

Do you limit the number of sewing projects you have on the go? Are you good about finishing one project before starting a new one?

July Goals

Usually I recap my goals from the previous month at the start of these posts… That isn’t going to happen this month. June was a write off. June is never to be mentioned again. Ya, it went THAT well.

Here are my goals for this month:

  1. Win Camp NaNoWriMo. I’ve set a goal of 10k.
  2. Use my writing spreadsheet.
  3. Sew at least two nights. Probably on my shoo fly quilt, but I might make my son a pair of shorts.
  4. Continue to find fun ways to work on spelling words with my son.

I’ve also decided that regardless of how I do, I have to post my spreadsheet at the end of the month. My hope is that will be a little additional motivation to get some writing done this month. It would be pretty embarrassing to post an empty spreadsheet… right?

How did your June go? Do you have any big plans for July?