Tuesday, July 21, 2015

On the street where I live

This song has been running in my head for a while now, the smarmy one from My Fair Lady. It started one Sunday morning when I went out for the newspaper. It was cool and just a little bit misty, the morning sunlight dappling the street. At that moment I realized that this is exactly where I'm supposed to be right now, and I was content.

We had such a list of desires for our Green Bay home, and a ridiculously small budget for it. I think we were suffering from HGTV poisoning, at least I was. I mean, where are the Property Brothers when you need them?

In the end it was a compromise: two and a half stall garage instead of three and a family room turned into a studio. The lot is tiny, especially when compared to the Saginaw house, and the back third of it goes straight up.

But here we are, and it's beginning to feel like home.

It nearly broke my heart to watch as the garden centers around town blossomed with plants for the new season while I was stuck in a tiny two room hotel apartment with no dirt to call my own. Even after we were in the new place there was just so much to do before we could even consider playing in dirt. I cringed every time I passed this monolithic shrub at the front door. I mean really, could one say "stay out" any more plainly?

We (meaning mostly Kent) tackled it Independence Day weekend. In the end it turned out to be just two plants. It took a chain saw, a pick ax and a whole lot of sweaty digging to clear them out. The county's garden waste center is nearby so off went the bushes (which all fit into the back of my minivan) and we returned with rich black compost.

The swan bird bath looks a little overpowering now, but it might even disappear once the plants get to growing. I followed no rules except for "taller to the back". The flowers were chosen in hopes of attracting butterflies and humming birds, oh, and for cutting as well.

This fall I will tuck in a few mums and bulbs for spring flowering, I think I left enough room for that, maybe. There are yarrow, shasta and gloriousa daisies, purple coneflower and balloon flowers in pink and blue, along with anise hissop, blackeyed susans and russian sage. (And a blue frisbee for Gracie, but that moves around the yard.)

There now, doesn't that look so much more inviting? The big shrubs under the windows? Well, their days are numbered too.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Step Six-Applique progress, at last!

Step Six is up! Can you believe that we're three-quarters of the way through the project? If you've been keeping up then you're really ready to put this thing together. Of course, I'm way behind on the applique. I've been keeping up with the piecing because I feel I must test drive the instructions. As for the applique, well for me that requires a bit of a still mind and I've had anything but.

This is where my applique progress stands. My purple and orange flowers are all done. My big red roses are done (I did those early on to check on yardage requirements.) I've yet to start on my pink flowers, and the leaves, oh the leaves I have yet to do.

I spent a quiet afternoon yesterday watching Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries on Netflix and cutting out all of the leaf templates I had printed. I also broke out my handy dandy circle punches to start on the required circle templates for the quilt. I'm so frugal, all of my circles will be cut from scraps left along the edges of the pages of Wash Away Applique Sheets.

I'm using Marvy circle punches. I find these little lever deals work best for me on the WAAS. I've tried Fiskars brand, and they may work wonderfully on freezer paper, but they're a dud on the sheets.

I probably should have lead with this, but here is how the center design template looks all taped together. I'm missing that great big cutting table I had in Saginaw, but when I'm ready to lay out the design I will make an appointment with the local shop to borrow their big tables. That's a while off for me though, I still have all of those parts yet to make, and they have to be sewn together, and embellished, and and and...

And the bias stems, yikes! Using a tape measure I figured out that we're going to need about seven yards of bias for the vines. That was the easy part. Trying to figure out how much fabric we'll need to make those bias strips, and also guesstimating how much we'll need for the borders too was a bit of a challenge.

Until I found this. I'm still dithering on all one fabric or many, but just in case I have a two yard cut set aside for now. And, I have a bit of applique to do before I must decide. How's it coming? Are you all set to lay out the applique center?

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

She Sews

This is where my BOM has been languishing, tidily packed in an ArtBin, waiting for me to get my act, I mean studio, together. We're almost there, but we're still waiting for the replacement part for my cabinet. Kent finally assured me that the machine would be safe in the cabinet, but, you know, I wanted to wait for the part to arrive so that everything would be perfect. "Perfect" still gets to me.

Here are my Step Five parts. Even though the step was posted weeks ago, my blocks were just sewn yesterday. I'm almost caught up. I still have the million and five leaves to do, but my little buds and flowers are mostly done. I'm putting the finishing touches on the directions for Step Six. I just need to add a few words, and figure out how much yardage we will need for the vines. I will have it up in the next couple of days for sure, and I will post on the blog about it.

As for the vines, I can't quite decide what fabric to use. I'm wondering if I should make the vines all from the same fabric, or mix them up using bits and parts from the leaf fabrics. I'm tending towards all the same fabric. What do you think?

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Wait for it...

While I am making progress in the studio, it's still mostly a shambles. My sewing machine cabinet was damaged in the move (easily the most expensive piece of furniture I own, nice choice to break, guys) and I am still waiting for the replacement part. Horn, the manufacturer, has to custom make the part and it's still a couple weeks away from delivery.

Long story short, the next step of the BOM is going to be delayed until next week. The numbers are simple, and I could probably knock it out without sewing a stitch, but I always want to test sew everything before I publish. So, please hang in there with me. I'm guessing that some of you may have some catch up sewing to do.

And, just because the posting dates have been just as crazy as predicted, the last two steps are still posted at $1 each. If you're not caught up on the steps now would be a good time, before I get my act together and change the prices properly. Go here to find the first step, which will take you to all the subsequent steps as well.

Thanks so much to those of you who have been so patient with me during this project. I'm very much looking forward to settling in and putting this quilt together. All of my steps, up to this point, are done, so it will take just a couple of days of quality sewing to complete the top! How are you coming along?

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

So, this is the Studio...

We are in our new house, at last. Well, sort of, anyway. We are still surrounded by thousands of boxes, most of which are actually half full of packing paper, because that's how it's done. The kitchen is nearly unpacked, still looking for a few thing, but mostly we're operational. I am writing this from my tablet, and I haven't quite figured out how add in the pictures. We are still looking for all the parts to set up my computer.

We have our first furniture arrangement in the livingroom, I'm certain we will be dancing the furniture around the room for some time to come. When the movers were delayed a day we high tailed it over to The Home Depot for paint to cover over the Hershey chocolate brown walls in the livingroom. Kent insists that the living room is the right place for the larger loom, so we're going to go with it. It's sort of our stand in for a grand piano.

My studio is next on the list. It too is painted a dark sort of brown. I am not a fan of brown. I get to use the family room as my creative space, once again. I know I'm going to love the fireplace come winter, and all of the gorgeous afternoon light will be wonderful.

In setting up the new house I am suffering from a tragic case of but first disease. For example, I'd love to move into the studio, but first we need to paint the walls, because we all know once those shelves are full they are never going to be moved again. I need to unpack the kitchen, but first I need to figure out where everything goes. Kent reminded me of how much I like organizing things, and just think about how much fun I'll have reorganizing thing as I learn how these rooms work!

The last photo is the cube wall, where all the Art Bin cubes will be stacked up. The color is Blushing Apricot from Home Depot (200A-3). I used this color in my office/loom room in the Saginaw house and we both loved how it just glowed. It's a cheerful color that brings warmth and light to a space. It's going to be terrific with white cabinets against it.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Orange you glad to see me?

Progress, we're making progress. We've made an offer on a house here, and had it accepted. We had an inspection yesterday, and found that there are issues. Sigh. The next step will be to go back to the owners to see if they will work with us on the problems.

I must say, though, walking through the house with the inspector, I kept thinking about our Saginaw house and imagining what would be said about our lovely antique. Yikes.

We're living in an Extended Stay hotel. It is not a Residence Inn. We have two rooms for less than sixty dollars a night. (Hey, we're working with engineers here, it's all about billable hours.) As I continually relocate stuff so I can cook (on two burners and a toaster oven that we finally broke down and bought two weeks ago), I keep reminding myself that this is a First World Problem, and that I am blessed that I will have somewhere else to go in just a few weeks.

Mostly I'm writing to let you know that Step Three will be delayed until next week, hopefully by Tuesday. I have worked through the block to make sure the numbers work. I still have diagrams to make and words to write.

The upside is that you'll have a bit more time to catch up on any missed steps before the cost goes up. Just click on the link to my Craftsy store in the side bar to get the pattern downloads.

Meanwhile, here is one of my favorite tips for saving time while piecing.

I am sure that I'm not the only one who has carried a neatly organized stack of units to the sewing machine, somehow twisting them when setting them down. Unfailingly I don't even notice the mistake until I've sewn all the repeats.

What I do to help avoid this (my engineer hubby says "idiot proof" is impossible, the best we can hope for is "idiot resistance"), is sort out my units onto a ruler. If it's tough to tell right from wrong side, I take a moment to make sure all of the pieces are right sides up.

I use assembly line sewing to keep my units organized. By not cutting the thread between the units I can carry the lot over to the ironing board and back without losing any pieces, and everything stays in order.

When it comes time to sew the cross seams, the connecting stitches act as my pins to help get those perfect intersections. I think you can see that there is hardly any thread, maybe one or two stitches between the pieces,

For many years, all of my adult life really, I have hated orange. I was scarred by an early burnt orange and brown quilt incident, a story for another day. Now I love it. It's so cheerful!

But brown, still not so much. And yet practically every house we've looked at in Green Bay is decorated in brown. The house we are buying is painted deep, dark browns, even black, inside. I wonder if there was an ordinance or something. The Green Bay Packers' colors are green and gold, so I suppose it could be worse. Still, the paint mixer at my local hardware store is about to become my new best friend.

Friday, April 3, 2015

My week as a statue

That my work week started on April Fools' Day should have been the first clue. I woke up a little muzzy headed, so I made a bee line for the coffee maker. We have a Keurig thingy, and I knew that I was down to my last precious two pods of coffee. I popped in the pod and pushed brew, hoping I could make it to the end of the cycle before doing something really stupid.

Nope. I forgot to put in a mug to catch the one thing between me and a day of mental missteps. That it took me a second or two to remember what a mug was and where to find one in just testament to my dire need of caffeine.

Finally, the remaining coffee was delivered to my cup. Knowing that I only had one pod left, I decided that I would pour the missed coffee from the tray into my mug. It was then that I knocked the coffee cup off of the counter and down my right leg.

Still lacking that first dose of mind clearing coffee, it took me another second or two to realized that the coffee was damned hot and I really wanted to be out of those pants. I was actually busy wondering how I might gather up the spilled coffee. As I dropped my drawers I wondered if I would break any teeth if I tried to lick coffee up off the counter. I decided against it.

After applying a cool, wet towel to my scalded leg, and finding a clean pair of pants, I managed to make, and consume the last pod of coffee without further bodily harm.

We've finally figured out that we can afford to buy a house in Green Bay without waiting for the house in Saginaw to sell. It will be a stretch, and we won't be having any fun until the other house is sold, but it will be better than living in limbo. So now house hunting has gone into high gear.

While out and about on Wednesday, the magnetic phone holder in my car dropped off the dash board. We live and die by GPS around Green Bay (we just can't get our bearings). And the one day that I spent running around town, where I would really rack up the steps, I realized that I'd lost my Fitbit.

After rummaging through the car, and ransacking our tiny little apartment for forty-five minutes, I realized that I had changed jeans twice after the coffee debacle. The Fitbit was tucked in the pocket the pair of jeans I changed out of after I changed out of the coffee incident. And then mourned all the missed steps that would never be counted. (Kent and I gave each other Fitbits for Christmas. He's down 26 pounds and I'm down 16. It's working for us when nothing else did.)

House hunting is not fun. Suddenly all of the houses we've been considering are being rapidly sold to someone else. We feel a little panicked. We're hoping for a similar rush in Saginaw, but, always being able to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, we are certain we are doomed to wait until the zombie apocalypse for the house to sell.

I'm hoping that April is done messing with me. I've given her more than her designated day to play her pranks on me. Since I'm still out of coffee pods, and there is a very busy road between me and the nearest coffee source, I'm not at all certain that I'm in the clear.

This week's motto:
Sometimes you're the pigeon and sometimes you're the statue.