Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Wild thing

Here's a fun thing to do if you are bored - I've seen this on several blogs, though the only one I can remember is Shirley's. Sadly, I could have played with this for ages. Courtesy of the New York Zoos and Aquarium.

Strings and bags

Made another bag today - this one not in any single colour, just whatever strips I had cut already. It's a slightly different size to the one I made yesterday - determined entirely by the size batting scrap I had. This one is a bit deeper and not as wide. I also made the handles a bit longer, and made them match the contrast flange rather than the top/lining fabric. Another Christmas present sorted!
While I did this, I also finished up some string square blocks I had hanging around (as I was working with strips anyway). I actually have a ton of these that I will never use (having already made several things with strings) so they may well make an appearance again soon in another context...

I got these three postcards in the post today - two from the letter swap with BQLPC - my name from Ruth and the "A" from Caroline. And the birthday card is the first from my birthday group on ArtWeMail. It's a little early - my birthday isn't until the 19th... But I'm not complaining!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Bag, challenge, cards and so on

Well, with the kids back to school today, my primary aim was to sew, sew, sew. And I did. First thing I did was make a bag - I was testing the instructions for a friend, which is a noble aim in itself, but of course I also end up with a bag out of the exercise. I think this one may end up as a Christmas present. I intend to make another one of the same style soon - maybe in a totally scrappy style instead of a single colour.

Then I got to work on the Surface Embellishment challenge I mentioned before - the piece at the right above is my finished journal quilt for this exercise. It's called Imagine it Red. In addition to the two pieces of silk, red lutradur and seashells, which were the supplied bits I was required to use, I have added some polymer clay faces (and a word), gold rayon thread, treasure gold (bronze), gold microbeads and some metallic mist spray - can't remember the brand name, but I like it :)

Also finished sewing the little four patches together, though I didn't photograph them - maybe tomorrow, or the next time there's nothing to show. And I started on a few Christmas cards, which I have decided I'm not going to show. After I get lots of them made (I'm going to make 4 or 5 each in a number of different styles, so I don't get too bored) I might take some arty, teaser type photos. And the actual things will be shown close to Christmas, when most of the recipients have had their cards... (If you want to swap with me - see yesterday's third post.)

Two postcards in the post today - a "K" for my letters swap from Sheila and a gorgeous leaf, which doesn't really show that well in this photo, from Melinda. The leaf is printed on fabric, then a layer of sheer fabric added over the top, and the gold stitching picks up some of the leaf veining with other bits simply showing through. Do click on the closeup of this card - it's well worth it.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Christmas Postcard Swap?

Hey, another three post day - amazing considering I did very little sewing related today...

I know it may be a little early to think about Christmas, but I wanted to ask here if anyone would like to swap Christmas postcards with me - I am not proposing to organise a big swap, just one on one with anyone who would like to swap. I have signed up to swap with Beate and Annika, and would love to have some from others, whoever and wherever you may be. I intend to make postcards (4x6), but will consider other swap options (as long as you don't mind a postcard in return) - a Christmas ATC? a triptych of Christmas inchies? a partridge in a pear tree? (Ok, no, I don't really want a partridge.) I am also happy to have non-Christmas seasonal artwork, though mine may well have a Christmas theme...

Anyway, if you are interested, email me (katelnorth at yahoo dot com)!

Tiny squares

Did very little today, as the kids are still off school (an INSET day - which Sarah used to call a "bug day" and confuse us all) but my yoga class was on, so I did that in the morning - luckily, my friend Lana's DH was home today (she's in the yoga class as well) so we parked the kids with him and went along. Then, we had to do a mini-clearout of the girls' room - a few surfaces were so deep in junk the surface couldn't be seen - plus I managed to talk them into getting rid of a few dressing up dresses which were too small for anyone and they didn't use ever anymore anyway. And then, we all trooped up to town to visit Daddy's office and go see the Chinese Terracotta Warriors at the British Museum (which was very good).

But in the 45 or so free minutes, I played with those little 4 patches again - and made these two segments of thingy (that's the technical term). There are two more segments - a greeny one and a purpley one - in progress. Maybe more on those tomorrow. Two photos above as I haven't decided how to put them together yet - it will probably depend on the other two segments...

Gadget giveaway

Well, as those of you who hang out here on a regular basis know, I recently cleaned out my sewing room. In the process, I came across several gadgets I was given or otherwise acquired, but which I will probably never use. So I am offering them up as a sacrifice to the god of decluttering, to anyone who thinks they can use them or would like to try them, etc. Rules for the giveaway the same as usual - leave a comment before Sunday - but can I please stress that if your email address or blog address doesn't show in your comment, you MUST be sure I have your email some other way - if you are in any doubt whether I can contact you, please email me with your email address. I don't want to draw a winner I can't contact. My email address shows in my profile - it's katelnorth at yahoo dot com. If you leave a comment and your name is drawn but I can't email you or comment on your blog, I'm going to draw someone else.
Right. You may be wondering what the items are. The first thing is like a rotary cutter, but it has two blades, adjustable width, the idea being to cut strips in one go. The second is a basting gun with two packs of bits. The third is three quilting stencils (you probably worked that one out). When leaving a comment, please specify which of them items you are interested in...

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Birdbrains & Triptychs

Finally, here's my offering for this week's Fluffy Fatbottom Twisted Tuesday Challenge (and it's almost Tuesday again, yikes). The theme was "bird brain" and I played (mentally) with a number of ideas before I got to this one. The word and thought bubbles are a little cramped, but otherwise, I do like it. Don't know what I'm going to do when I run out of those alphabet beads, though - really must get some more!

And here are two sets of triptych inchies for Inching Artists - I showed the Rose ones yesterday, I know, but thought I'd show them again as I decided to mount and frame them. The others, the "dream" triptych, I particularly like, and I think both will make nice gifts for someone...not sure who yet!

I also finished making the rest of the lotto blocks today - that's six in total. But I can't show them until Thursday (and I must remember to do it on Thursday - knowing me, I'm bound to forget by then). And made a little sleeve for my quilt for quiltswap 4, which I need to get in the post - will sew the sleeve on tonight and try to get the quilt off tomorrow or Tuesday - I had debated waiting and sending it from the US, but decided in the end to try it from here - the last one got to its destination just fine.

And finally, a little seasonal decoration - I got this last year in the US - I loved the idea of a ghost in a quilt instead of the traditional sheet. Though if one of my kids cut eyeholes in one of my quilts...

Weekly winner

Well, thanks to DD1, Sarah, this week's winner is KimmiB - congratulations, Kimmi! Now unfortunately, I don't have an email address or blog link for you, Kimmi, so I hope you are out there reading this - if you are, please email me or leave your email address in a comment! Olivia (DD2) has chosen a reserve winner, just in case I haven't heard from Kimmi by next week's draw (a week's time).

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Found them!

First - the good news. I found the blessed stamps. I am almost embarrassed to admit it, because you'll never guess where they were. No, go on, guess.*

Well, after all that cleaning and organising, today I got a lot of work done - more than even it looks like here. I made a block for the Block Lotto on - and I almost showed a photo here - forgot that it was still sneak peek time for the November lotto - so I will show it in a few days, when it's November, and the lotto is officially opened. I also cut out the fabrics for 5 more block lotto blocks, though they aren't assembled yet (one is partly done).

Then, I finally got an idea for my confetti postcards which I like - I've gone with fireworks in honour of Bonfire Night (Guy Fawkes Day - 5th November). Whew - glad to have that sorted. I don't mind not having my cards done until right before a deadline, but I hate it when I can't come up with a decent idea.

I also worked on a set of inchies for the Inching Artists Triptych inchie challenge (running until the end of October). I edged enough backgrounds for two triptychs and a couple extras, but did this one set of inchies, called, not suprisingly, "Rose". I've had the idea of a woman called Rose running through my mind since I did the vintage woman called "Fleur" - I was originally going to call her Rose, but didn't have an "S" from that set of stickers left, so had to change horses in mid-stream... Anyway, here's my inchie Rose triptych. Tomorrow, something completely different (but no idea what yet).

And two postcards today - one from Sue W, for the letters swap - I love that she's used all the selvedge bits. I always feel slightly guilty throwing away selvedges as it seems there ought to be something you could do with them (message to self: you do not need to start saving selvedges). And the Kiss is "K is for..." - from Flischa.

*It was in the basket where I keep my (wait for it) stamps. Yes really, it was WHERE IT WAS SUPPOSED TO BE. In my defense, it was right at the bottom and in a totally different package than I remember, but still. Oh well, at least they are found, albeit too late for the letter postcards. At least I don't have to worry about only being able to stamp words that can be spelled with the letters S, A, R, H and N...

Friday, October 26, 2007

Nothing - in the best possible way

OK, you are saying to yourself - it's a photo of an empty basket, so what? This is my scrap basket. It's where I put any small leftover bits of fabric while I am working - these can range from 2 inch squares or so (smaller than that go straight to either the bin, a little dish of stuff to go to school or the tiny scrap basket, which I don't ever sort out, just use from time to time) to 5 inch strips by width of fabric (larger pieces than that will go in that blue basket you can see just to the right of the wicker basket and will get put back away with the colours once a week or so). Anyway, when this basket gets full, which happens about 3-4 times a year (it holds a lot, particularly if I squish them down firmly), I tip out all the scraps, press them as necessary and sort them by size and cut them into squares to the closest half inch. (I remove the strips first, which get filed away separately). I've no idea if this is the most efficient way to handle my scraps, but the important thing is that it gives me a sensible way to put them away if they are cut into squares. Which means, they are more likely to get used in future. Or swapped. More on that in a few days time!

Anyway - the point here being that this basket was full this morning, and is empty now - yippee!

Also pictured above is the rest of my workspace - I showed my sewing room yesterday, but I also colonise the hallway landing when I am working. When I'm not working, the ironing board is stored away, but my green cutting mat lives on the black table (I used to put it away, but frankly, it was silly as I just got it out every day and it's not really in anyone's way.) This photo shows the grand scrap sorting scheme in progress, plus the quilt on the ironing board is having the excess batting and backing trimmed away in preparation for having binding attached.

As I mentioned yesterday, I had 5 quilts in my sewing room at the binding stage. One is a small panda quilt of Alex's (for his toy panda) which actually had the binding attached but not sewn down - I did the sewing down last night. The other four actually needing binding attached, so today I trimmed all the excess away and managed to attach binding to three of them - I didn't do the fourth one yet (the one on the ironing board - this is the autumnal string quilt from the other day - the one with the apples quilted on it) as it needs a lot of binding and I just didn't want to make it all up - not after the other three. Not sure I have enough of the right fabric either - will have to have a rummage through and see what there is - I really like that quilt, so it needs something just right, not something which will make do. Now I will start sewing the binding down in the evenings instead of just doing cross-stitch - luckily, it's getting cold enough not to mind having a big quilt on your lap...

And finally, some post - a card from the black and white and one other colour (gold in this case) swap - from Joyce in Nova Scotia. And on the right, my other item for the surface embellishment challenge I mentioned the other day - these seashells are from Wil and will be really interesting to use. Especially with the embellishments already received. No idea what I will do yet, but it won't get worked on until the kids go back to school, as I want a quiet day for that project to allow for inspiration. Tomorrow I think I will have to work on the confetti postcards - I'm still not thrilled with my ideas for that one - perhaps something new will come to me tomorrow...

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Sewing room declutter

Well, today was the promised sewing-room clearing out. And it took most of the day (minus a trip to the supermarket where the kids were remarkably well behaved and Sarah didn't kill anyone while wearing her heelies...).

Anyway, here's where we started from. As you can see, not a huge room - it's about 7 foot by 7.5 foot (just over 2m for those of you who might not speak imperial measurements). And I have a lot of stuff crammed in there. There was nothing really wrong with the basic layout - believe me, I've tried just about every combination possible and this is about the best there is.

I decided to make two substantial changes - remove a small wooden trunk box which is to the left as you come in the door (you can see it below with baskets of projects stacked on it) which had finished quilt tops in it - and replace it with a set of wicker drawers, and change the wooden shelved (painted orange) for some black plastic ones which are a slightly different shape and fit better with the drawers and the electric plug on the wall. (The black shelves are deeper but not as wide.)

So, above is my work table. Totally cluttered with stuff - it starts fairly clear, and gets worse and worse. I don't quilt any big quilts on this table and if I am doing a baby quilt I clear a lot of stuff, but mainly I work in a fairly small area.

To the right of the worktable, shelving units which have my dyeing supplies, some kids craft stuff (on the top shelf), some fabric (green boxes) and other miscellany. And behind the door as you come in - this was one of the major problems. These are the wooden drawers I keep a lot of my little bits in (sequins, buttons, some larger beads - the seed beads are downstairs in the living room with my beaded doll - if I ever finish it, I will have to find space for them in the sewing room, too - yikes!) ephemera, misc junk, and all that stuff I use on cards and inchies). It's virtually inacessible like this (the collection has grown) and I wanted to move it elsewhere.

And these are the shelves I was planning to move - they have books, some fabric, blocks from block swaps (the shoeboxes) and a lot of other junk on them - again - not thematically arranged and a bit higgledy piggledy. And my baskets for current/ongoing projectes. And ironing board, obviously.

Here's the room (above) once I've cleared the stuff out of it (didn't bother to move my machine, as it was the one thing that would definitely stay where it was). I hoovered under all the furniture - only happens about twice a year. The accesible part of the floor gets hoovered much more often but it's only a tiny bit, and the room does get very dusty...

Here's some of the stuff, while displaced. I'd like to say that the markers on the floor belong to Alex - yes, I am disowning that tiny bit of mess amidst all this! The bulk of the stuff goes on my bed - incentive to get it put back more or less straightaway - not to mention, the only surface big enough for it all...

Here are all my books and notebooks (above left), piled up against the closet door (aerial view from a chair - hard to get far enough away to photograph everythign!) - I am getting rid of a big stack of books - hopefully selling most of them, but if not, still getting rid of them. Need to be ruthless (no offense, Ruth!). And here's the room once I've moved the furniture and put the shelves back under the table, etc.

And here we are back (more or less) where we started from. My sewing table. It may not look much tidier, but I promise it is. I moved one of the little drawers of bits onto the table, which will be much easier to get stuff in and out of. Also cleared the space behind the machine a bit - it's a very deep table, so there's some space back there, but after a few months, it does get cluttered.

Oh, in case you are wondered what you can just see on the door to the room, that's my mini-quilt "Kate's Kids flying Kites" made by my friend Sandra (I will photograph it properly later, as I think it pre-dates my blog) and a poster of my main man (Bob Dylan, I mean).

Below, some "after" photos of the shelves - to the right of the table, again, all my dyeing stuff (thinned out a little - I decided I didn't need quite as many plastic cups, and so on) and now the paints are with the dyes (what a concept), and the stamps are there too (except the missing ones, which, dang it, are still missing, even after all this!) The top shelf - and you can't tell this in the photo is actually full of empty boxes! Which is great, because it means there is space to expand. There is one magazine file of cross-stitch stuff there, and the flowerpot I use to rest my soldering iron in, but otherwise, just empty boxes. Woohoo! [In case you wonder where this space came from - I moved the kids' craft stuff downstairs with the other kids' craft stuff, got rid of a big pile of books, pulled out some bits to give away in coming blog weeks, took 5 quilts waiting for binding out of the room (yes, five, though one was tiny - Alex's quilt for his panda) and probably a few more things I can't think of at the moment.]

The right hand photo is of the new shelves to the left of the table - iron on top where it's easy to get, art quilt books, thread box, bead & buttons, angelina, sculpey and again on the top shelf, a little empty space!

And finally, the new drawer unit, with my work baskets stacked up beside it, and my boxes of fat quarters (and other smaller bits of fabric). It's still very full of stuff, but it's more rational now, less cluttered, and less dusty. I do wish the damn stamps weren't still missing, though!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Not much to show (or tell)

Not much to show today - I edged the letter postcards, and will post them tomorrow, and I did some more of the little four patches I showed yesterday - they can go sit somewhere for a while now, while I decide what I'm going to do with them. And I received this postcard today - monochromatic, from Beth. And that's it for today (well, it's half-term, so I tend to do more taking the kids to get pumpkins, dropping them at birthday parties & coach trips to see Disney on Ice, errands, and so on and less sewing). Oh, and Happy Birthday to DD2, 8 years old today.

I have this real itch to clear out my sewing room, so I might do that tomorrow morning - and we need to grocery shop as well. Always a joy with kids, and normally I'd have the shopping delivered during school holidays, but they asked to come along and promised to be nice, so I've relented - I think they want to look at all the Hallowe'en goodies - not to mention the Christmas stuff is in the shops already - sigh. I guess I should take photos of my sewing room clearout if I do that - especially the one where everything is piled all over the bedroom and you'd never be able to work out how it all fits in that tiny room!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Orange Birds in the Air

At least some of the kids slept a bit late today (this does not apply to a small cute boy who came into my room to chatter non-stop at me while I was trying to sleep a bit longer). To be fair to him, it wasn't very early (after 8) but I am still trying to kick this cough/sore throat, and it is still waking me up a few times in the night when I cough too much - last night I slept through from when I went to bed until about when Geoff got up (5.30) but then it took nearly an hour to properly fall back asleep, so I really wanted that extra little bit. Anyway. With the others only slowly stirring and doing anything more than watching telly, there's a little sewing time for me, so here's what I did. Two orange Birds in the Air blocks for a new swap over on the Quilt Shoppe Forum. I know I wasn't going to sign up for any new swaps, but this one promises to be fairly small. I think I will make a table runner from the blocks, or if I get too many, maybe two table runners, one for a gift. The theme is orange, so it will be lovely and autumnal.

I also made a big batch of these mini four patches - they measure 2.5 inches square at the moment and are made from some bits of hand-dyes and the mini-charms which Barbara sent me a little while ago. Not sure what I am going to do with them yet - doll quilt, maybe? Or a background for an art quilt? We'll see. I have a few more to make before I have to work that out. There won't be much blue, as I used those mini-charms to play with for the confetti swap - not sure I like the results, but I can't un-confetti the swatches...

And there was post, too. The first thing is something for a challenge with my surface embellishment group - our first swap/challenge when we formed the group (it's a spin-off of my dyeing group) was to each send an item to two different people, and then to incorporate both items we received into some sort of art quilt. So for our first anniversary of forming the group, we are repeating this swap. We have explored so many different materials and methods this year, that I'm sure what we send and receive this time around will be so much more esoteric than last year!

This is my first item received, from Cobi - it's two pieces of silk and one piece of synthetic fibre silk (the plain red), which she's never used before so she "has no clue what it will do" - me either, Cobi, but we shall see. My other goodies aren't here yet, but I will report on them when they arrive - they are coming from Wil, so shouldn't be too long crossing the channel.

Also got two postcards today - the above one for the Leaves swap, from Angie, and the one at left for the 1920's swap, a la Clarice Cliff, from Maureen, who says this is her first set of postcards - wow! I think these will be a hard act to follow...