30 December, 2009

Lessons Learned

While Christmas Day has come and gone, the season continues on in our house for at least another week. I can't resist sharing this photo of our stockings.  We have no fireplace so The Monster decided that our hallway laundry basket was where Santa would visit us. I'm not going to argue with a three and a half year old on Christmas! Oh wait, I did.  That would be the first lesson we learned.

Lesson #1
Do not insist on the Christmas Pajamas you bought when she dresses herself, entirely by herself, for the first time.  Instead, cheer for her and let her go to bed with two Pull-Ups on and summer PJs that are too small.

Lesson #2
Do not trust a three and half year old to keep a present a secret.  I knew my present within a hour of her returning from the mall.  She was just so damn excited to share with me.

Lesson #3
Three and a half is not too young to learn how to vacuum properly. That's what she got for deliberately throwing rainbow sprinkles on the floor.

Lesson #4
Hubby is the best dad/cousin/uncle for letting a 17, 12, 8, and 3 year old girl do his make-up and hair.

Lesson #5
Santa is apparently supposed to eat ALL the cookies you leave out for him, even if it is a dozen or so.

Lesson #6
Beef Wellington is fantastically delicious.

Lesson #7
A child can indeed survive on nothing but pork in various forms, oranges, cookies, and chocolate.

Lesson #8
Christmas with a child is seriously the best thing ever.  Everything was an adventure and sheer excitement. She still wakes up in the morning, plugs in the lights on the tree and tells me, "Mama, it's amazing!"

22 December, 2009

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas!

The holiday season is in full swing with the requisite baking, tree chopping, and last minute mayhem. I'm sewing a little - an apron and a stocking for Smilosaurus - and finishing off some quilts for the Joy in the New Year Challenge.

There will be so much to share, in good time. And so much to do, in very little time.  

Here is to a merry season, warm laughs with family, treasured moments, and just a little peace for every one of us.

18 December, 2009

Bits and Pieces

Life is a bit all over the place right now.  I'd hoped to have wrapped up the Quilt Along by now. My sincerest apologies.  But if you've been following along then your top should be done. And if you've been following, but not keeping up, then you are probably happy for the break to catch up. Or, the break to actually deal with a hectic holiday season. We'll return to wrap up the Quilt Along (or start it) in January.

Lately it seems like everything I do - whether it is life or quilting - is happening in bits and pieces.  We're knee deep in dust and noise as the basement reno is in full swing - new furnace and water system, walls, and concrete Oh My! Between work, writing, and family there is only time for snippets of life and creativity where one can get it.  That explains the above picture.  I was sorted small scraps while the girls played in the tub. I thought it was bad enough sharing those stylish, but horridly coloured bathroom sinks, so I spared you the charcoal/mustard combo on a 50 year old bathroom! But don't my piles look pretty.

I've been turning those piles into these blocks.

Single colour blocks of scraps, with that one bit of white thrown in for fun.

These blocks are so cathartic to make.  I can simply sit and sew, grabbing as I go. There is no plan to them.  I trim pieces relatively square and start sewing them in pairs.  Then I trim the seam allowances, press, and keep adding pieces.  After I have a couple of sections made I square them up and start playing with overall block layout.  Then I add or trim as necessary until I have a block big enough to trim to 16 inches square.

I say they are cathartic because there is no prep to them.  No cutting, no precision, no purposeful thought.  It is simply sewing.  And when life is throwing you so much it is nice to break down your creativity into simple processes to nurture the soul. No pressure either, just action. Little bits when I can steal little bits of time.

07 December, 2009

Giveaway Winner

Wow, such great responses to the Sew Mama Sew Giveaway!  You are a committed bunch. Even for those of you with a great desire for my scraps you have to remember that in itself is a commitment. Those two, frenetic beauties are my reasons to commit to the future.

Some of the highlights of your commitments out there:
  • Eating less meat and growing your own veggies (Did you know that meat and rice production, worldwide, is one of the most significant sources of greenhouse gases?)
  • Choosing to be one-car or car-less.
  • Turning down the heat and using those quilts and handknits.
  • Choosing when to cook and bake to take advantage or avoid the extra kitchen heat (I totally do this!)
  • Actually using washable sanitary napkins or the reusable caps (wow, that's commitment!) 
As we struggle through a home reno I am constantly thinking of ways to renew our own commitments. Number 1, we are making the place as efficient as possible in terms of the infrastructure like furnace, insulation, water heating, windows, and electrical. We aren't replacing everything, but we are almost starting from scratch in the basement and all our choices are thinking about the long-term (for us and the girls) and not just the short term budget. Those decisions will affect whether my sewing studio gets drywall or not, but I'm willing to make a few sacrifices.

And number 2, After having to clean out sort, and move all our belongings at least 3 times in the last few months I am getting really sick of our stuff. Every time a few more boxes go to Goodwill, recycling, or garbage. I am at the point where if anybody buys me anything this Christmas I will lose it.  I just don't need anything. I need some quilt batts and time, lots of time.  But that's it.  Someone tell my husband.

Okay, time to stop the rant and get to the news you really want: who won? Using random.org I picked two numbers.

Meg wins the quilt. She uses t-shirts and upcycles them into her love's clothes.  That's a lucky baby!

Elizabeth wins the selvages.  Check out her site, I think she'll make good use of them.  And I may have to rethink my new more stuff attitude.  Did you see her aprons?

I've sent emails off the winners, washed my hands of the basement dust from tonight, and will indulge in a hot bath before bed.  It warms me up before I turn in and the thermostat goes down for the night!

Thanks again.  I hope to see you all back soon.

04 December, 2009

Oh Sweet Joy!

The other night all four of us were gathered around the dining room table, post dinner.  Hubby was using his stupid new contraption to roll up the change from the piggy banks. (Hello college fund!) The girls were enthralled with his efforts and the contraption.  To keep my hands busy I pulled out a quilt that needed some hand stitching.  Suddenly, what I was doing was far more interesting to The Monster.

Sadly, my tiny little #8 needle and the need for small stitches made it difficult for her to actually be of help. So I promised her that we would go on a special shopping trip the next day and gather supplies for her to start sewing.
Last night we sat down on the couch and started sewing.  I bought a medium sized hoop, some plain white cotton with a loose weave, and some large (but very real) needles.  I also let her pick out a few colours of basic embroidery floss.  Really I just wanted her to get the idea of pulling a needle through fabric while still getting a chance to see her results.

My little girl was in heaven.  We discussed the need to push the needle through front to back and back to front.  And how we had to pull the thread all the way through.  To make it easier on both of us I doubled up the thread and tied a solid knot.  I did not want to be constantly rethreading a needle! Besides, this was about process, not results.

After Smilosaurus unravelled the remaining embroidery floss and sucked the spools of thread I had also purchased she decided she wanted to learn sewing as well.  So she climbed up next to me and tried her hand at needle pulling thread.  Enthralled and impatient.

I should mention that this was actually my first time embroidering.  Seriously, I've never done it before.  This is despite the fact that my Baba was one of the most impressive cross-stitchers I've ever encountered. I worked on a little piece that had The Monster's name on it.  And honestly, I could really get behind this kind of hand work.  Look out!

This was the end result.  I moved the fabric in the hoop a few times because The Monster complained that the fabric was dirty whenever we switched colours.  That is, she wanted a fresh slate. Then she got irritated with me watching over her so I let her at it.  That's when she forgot the front to back, back to front lesson.  But isn't it perfect?

02 December, 2009

Giveaway Day

It's Giveaway Day at ! I had such a good time in the spring, so I knew I had to sign up again. I've actually got two giveaways here.

First up is a quilt.  I made this wall hanging to celebrate the launch of 350.org. And with the big meeting starting in Copenhagen next week I thought it a perfect time to highlight local and global efforts to address climate change.  I won't step on my soap box but I will say this:

I believe climate change is happening.
I believe humans are having a discernible impact on the world's climate.
I believe that if climate change is not proven to be real we have done no harm in taking action.
I believe that real change will come from both the individual and the political.

This quilt reflects the Prairie Landscape in its choice of fabrics, the layout to mimic the fields, and the quilting details. I made it without buying a thing.  It is machine pieced with fusible applique, machine quilting, and a handstitched binding. It is 100% cotton and comes with a hanging sleeve already attached.

Leave a comment here for one entry.  I don't believe in forcing action, insincere action, on people so there are no extra entries for signing up at 350.org. But I strongly encourage you to at least check out that organization and the many others.  And rather than enter here, make one small commitment to yourself and the next generation to reduce emissions - change a lightbulb, shut off the car, shop at the farmers' market, or turn down the thermostat.

As quilters there are many ways we can reduce the impact of what we do. A key way is through the use of scraps.  This is my daily scrap bin.  From here, I sort according to colour and selvages. I'll be honest, I used to throw out these pieces, but I use them now.  Except, I don't use the selvages.  However, I now know that other people use these with gorgeous results.  So I am giving away my relatively recent collection of selvages.  Close to 50 unique selvages from Amy Butler to Denyse Schmidt and everything in between.

I will use the random number generator to pick two winners.  Please, leave your comments and note any commitments you are making to tackle climate change on the homefront.  The giveaway is open until December 6, midnight MST. And yes, I will happily ship internationally.