Tuesday, January 28, 2014

ACU bags

This is my stepson and his family. I have mentioned them before- as in knitting at baseball games, etc.    It has been nearly a year since Jacob graduated from basic training in the army.  His mom asked me that long ago about making a bag from an "Army Combat Uniform" (ACU)                                     She finally got one to me over the holidays.  I had showed her a couple of bags I had made, along with this bag shown here. We decided on a combination of sizes and elements.
When I searched for this, I also found results where people find this to be unpatriotic.  I don't get it. 

(I have to pause here to once again rail at the fact that the blogger word processor has NO rules at all for how it moves things around in my posts!!!!!)

The hardest part is taking apart the uniform. It's called a COMBAT uniform, and let me tell you, they are very well put together!
So, here is the result of my work. 
                                                                          The big one is for Mom.  She has the name badge.  I'm not sure if she has any other patches or insignia.  But that velcro is waiting.  Army velcro is awesome, by the way!      
The smaller bags are for Amy and one for me.  I made a mistake on the first one I tried to make, so I set it aside and started over.  In the end it is the one I goofed up that I like better.  But Amy gets to choose.   

They both have this pocket on the back.  The ribbon is to make it easier to open.  This pocket was on the sleeves

The fronts are made from a pocket on the legs.  The big flap covers a pocket with a drawstring cord- very roomy!  The pocket was at an angle on the legs, so I wanted to make them asymmetrical. 

Can you guess which is the one with the mistake?  I'm hoping Jake can get another name tag for Amy's bag.

                         This is what is left of the uniform.
                            (I'm saving the velcro!)

One of the offices at work invited the neighbors to a lunch last week.  They called it a "green" lunch.  They did not supply dishes.  It was their way to encourage people to use washables instead of disposables.  Do you work in a place where you can keep a coffee cup, a few pieces of flatware, a bowl or small plate?  Then please do so- and bring them with you to any office gathering.  It only takes a minute to wash one plate and one fork.  But over time, think of how many pieces of plastic you WON"T have to throw away!

I am grateful for:
Not having to go out in the cold for two days!
A nice dinner with Lucas and his family.
My Singing Monsters
Laughing with Al until it hurts.
None of the animals were harmed in the fire next door to Petco.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Challenge reveal

Last Saturday we turned in our 2014 challenge entries at the meeting of the Museum Quilt Guild. (The website is brand new- still a WIP, I think)
So now I can show you what I did.
 The theme of the challenge was "That was then..." and the year the maker was born.  My year is 1960. (Some of my fellow quilters said I'm just a baby.  Not true- I have to scroll pretty far down on those web forms that ask for your date of birth!)  This was a fun challenge, not only for the quilt I made, but for the facts I learned about 1960.  For example, the birth control pill went on the market.  The Flintstones made their tv debut.  "The Twist", by Chubby Checker was the number one song.  Psycho, the movie that made us all afraid to take showers, was released.  So weird that's all 50 years ago.  it doesn't seem that long ago!

Anyway, in my research, I stumbled upon the modern art movement, and "Op art", which led me to Victor Vasarely.  He is considered to be the father of the op art movement.

This is based on, but not an exact copy of "Riu Kiu C", which was finished in 1960. I had never been exposed to his work that I am aware of, but I immediately fell in love!  If you have never seen his work, go spend some time there.    

 I call this, "Nice to meet you, Mr. Vasarely."

I have been doing what Rayna Gilman calls "Therapy sewing" ever since I read her book a couple of years ago.  This is the first project I have made with the fabric I have created.  Some of these were already in my strippy bin and some were made just for this project.
It was great fun!

stitching detail

I am never sure when a piece is finished.  It often seems that the "best" quilts have more- something.  More elaborate quilting, more visual interest, more stitching, more sparkles.....   Just more. 

 So my first instinct was to do more to this.  I was thinking hand stitching, maybe in the lightest strips.  But on the advice of a couple of fellow quilters, I stopped.
Something else I was very excited about last week was the new case I got for my iPhone.  Being a very spoiled child, I wanted something more interesting than the ones they had in the store.  So I went to skinit.com and ordered a custom case.  This is the quilt I use as the background picture at the top of my blog.  I have no affiliation with the website, but I will say it was super easy to create. It seems sturdy enough for how my phone gets handled, but if you need the heavy duty cases (like otter box or lifeproof) I don't think it's for you.  

My friend Lori was looking for a way to use chicken feed bags her sister gave her.  We found some cute ideas:
I may try some of them with the cat litter bags I accumulate when I have foster babies later this year.  It's just another example of how we can keep things out of the waste stream if we think creatively.

I am grateful for:
lunch with guild friends after the meeting
getting there and back safely on bad roads
leftovers on work days so I don't have to cook as soon as I get home
time to play in the sewing room

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Hibernating in the sewing room!

I actually started this post a couple of weeks ago, but decided to wait until the quilt in the pictures was finished.  It is cold and snowy today, though- and the wind is blowing the snow across the roads in spots. Basically, normal for western NY in January.

Anyway, this is the time of year I hibernate in the sewing room.  I get more done in the winter months than the rest of the year.  What else have I got to do, but waste time on facebook!

So I pulled one of the many UFO's out of the pile and got to work. ( I layered this one last summer.  Isn't that awful? )   The blocks were made using the instructions from Oh, Frannson.

I decided to do some "doodle quilting", as shown here in Bethany Pease's book.  It's fun, but also kind of tricky to make sure you're putting the different motifs far enough apart.

It also takes a long time to do a whole quilt like this, as it is very dense!

As you may remember, Al built me a nice new sewing table last year (?), but I still have to wad the quilt all up as I work.

So, I wasn't surprised when suddenly it felt thicker, and I stopped to find this.  Fortunately it was just the extra fabric on the edge of the backing.  So I cut it out  and kept going.  I may trim the edges better and see if it will fray enough to remove after washing. 

I got to the border and decided to do this cool spiral vine design.

Mine Isn't as dense as hers.  I'll need to work on that next time.

I got close to the end and suddenly the machine was making a weird sound and the stitches got very tiny.  I stopped to figure out what happened and found a  knot in the quilting thread!  A KNOT!!!!

I don't know what kind of thread it is, but it looks like this

I got the binding on last night, but didn't get a picture of it finished yet.  But it sure feels good to have one less UFO!!!

My "green" topic this time is those little microbeads in skin care products.  Do you love them?  Well think about this-
These microbeads wash down our drains, accumulate in our oceans and, according to a recent study, even flow out into our troubled Great Lakes. There, the tiny plastic beads can be mistaken for fish food. If just eating plastic isn't bad enough for the fish, these beads also soak up toxins like PCBs and pesticides in the water. A recent study of lugworms in the Atlantic, for example, suggests that small pieces of plastic transfer toxins to the creatures that eat them. In other words, our exfoliating scrubs could be turning into pretty poison pills, little floating points of toxicity for fish.
Read the full article here.
It just points to the fact that we have to be ever aware of what we are buying, and placing into the environment.
Fortunately, unilever has decided to remove them.  Let's hope others follow suit!

I am grateful for:
The friends who lift my spirits when I need it.
The sweet kittens I got to cuddle at the shelter the other day.
My ten extra minutes in my quilted cocoon every morning (thanks to the snooze button)
The playoffs have been great so far this year!
The furnace is working again and it was a minor repair.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Snow day!

What to do when it looks like this outside, and your workplace has closed as a result?  (tough one, right?)

I went to the sewing room with no plan in mind, but had set the bag with the portrait quilt in it out to be the next project.  So I went to work. You may or may not remember this was a class Mary Lee taught at guild last May. It is one of my five projects to finish for the quilt show coming in October.  I had traced the pieces onto the wonder under and fused a few of them  to the fabrics.  I got stuck trying to decide what color Al's coverall should be.  It's a faded grey in this picture, but I didn't want him to fade into the background.

I'm using a few of the techniques I tried last year on the Wild Things quilt to add small details to the pieces.  The smaller shadows on Lucas' jacket are drawn on with watercolor pencils/ crayons.  As long as the piece is never washed, it should be fine.  I will enhance them with stitching later.

The car looks funny because it was cut off in the picture.  I will crop the whole thing down once it's all fused to a background.
Pardon the burnt ironing board cover, please.  It's way past time for a new one!

This is where I ended for the day. I will probably use two different backgrounds for it, even though there won't be much background showing when I crop.

 I could wish for more snow days, but I won't- because I hate to wish that on the people who have to be out on nasty days!

By the way, there was an article about how "climate change"  (since global warming doesn't cover the whole process, I guess) can actually cause more of these unbelievably cold weather events.

I am grateful for:
An extra day in the sewing room
Being safe and warm
The delicious cinnamon bread a neighbor brought over the other day
Ryan's generous gift of a new CD player for my car
The sun is coming out!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Looking back at 2013

I keep a record of projects I work on throughout the year.  I have friends who keep track of hours spent, or materials used, but I just like to see what I accomplish each year.  So- on this first day of 2014, I am looking back at my "production.  ( I am a product person, in case that isn't quite obvious)

This year's total projects was 58.  I may have missed a pair of earrings or something, but still that is quite low compared to past years.   Broken down by type it looks like this.
Quilts: 9
Blocks/ tops: 8 (this includes the hours and hours spent on the raffle quilt!)
Apparel: 5 (very low!)
Accessories: 4
Home dec: 5
Knitting: 20 (due to a number of very small items and kitty blankets)

One thing that I didn't count was the  27 foster kittens I cared for this year.  If you add those in, I'm about where I should be. 

So- here are the highlights- otherwise known as my favorite projects from 2013.

My favorite quilt was my Wild Things quilt.  I had such a blast making that, and tried several new processes which I will use again.

 My second favorite was my mandala, which I didn't like until I added the zentangle quilting.

My favorite in the block/ top category is these comfort quilt tops.  My online quilt "guild" has done these for members suffering illness or loss for years.  The simple blocks make a lovely quilt and we can tailor them to the person.  
It's a small thing to do to show our love and support in difficult times.

My favorite "accessory" project are these hats I made for a friend battling cancer. (pictured here on the mannequins in the sleep lab at work)
 I don't know how much use she got out of them, but it made me feel like I was doing something.  Feeling powerless to help a friend is an awful thing.

My favorite knitted item was this wingspan shawl.  Noro yarn makes any project a favorite, though!

 And my favorite foster experience was the littler of feral kittens.  When I first brought them home, I couldn't reach into the crate without them hissing, growling, hiding and trying to shred my hands.  But suddenly, they were coming out for food, then for affection.  The first time I held one of them and he purred was one of the most awesome things I have experienced. 
I was so happy to save these babies from a life of fighting and eating garbage.  I know for a fact that most of them are very spoiled pets now.  I did that.  So it was a very good year.  I can only hope to do as well in this new year!

I am pressed for time at the moment, so I will cut the nagging about saving the planet.  Just a reminder that every small thing might make a difference!

I am grateful for:
A good year
Friends far and near
Being able to give of myself
Being very spoiled
The possibilities the first day of the new year offers each of us!