Monday, November 26, 2007

What's your niche?

I just finished watching "A Century of Quilts: America in Cloth" that was done by PBS awhile back. I don't know when as I just got it through Netflix. Being the avid quilter I am, I knew I'd love this show. I read some reviews on it where people complained that there were hardly any "traditional" quilts represented in the 100 best quilts of the 20th century. I will agree with that in some way. I think the display was misnamed. It should have probably been the "100 most innovative quilts of the 20th century." The quilts in the show ranged from the very recognizable Amish quilts all the way through the most fantastic quilts that you have no idea how someone thought of it, much less was capable of putting it into fabric. Many of them were artistic quilts. Representations of who that person was and is. There were also a lot in there that I personally thought shouldn't have been included. But that was my personal opinion. *smile* We all have those.

One thing that really stood out in my mind that one of the ladies interviewed said. That the world of quilting is so large and so expansive of creative talent, that everyone fits in there somewhere. Then she asked, "Where do you fit in?" What a great question!

I've only been quilting for 6 years. I feel as if I'm still finding my niche. I have done traditional quilting for most of my 6 years. It wasn't until recently that I started wanting to branch out on my own. However, I am drawn to the older quilts. The ones that require intensive hand work to create them. The intricate hand quilting, hand applique, hand piecing. However, what I find incredibly odd is that I'm personally reluctant to tackle one. How silly is that? I'm fascinated with the Baltimore Album-style quilts. I've made one block from one of Elly's books and I loved every minute of it. It was a papercut pattern of a fleur-de-lis. Absolutely stunning and when I was finished, I felt such an accomplishment. I stretched my applique abilities beyond their breaking point with that one block. I know now that I CAN do it and that I can do it WELL. So, why haven't I tackled any of the other ideas I have in my head? I honestly can't say why I haven't. There is a fear lurking there. There's also my inability to finish projects. They're finally starting to get to me, my unfinished quilts. They don't seem to bother my darling husband at all. Just me. *smile* That's my current "hang up." Or maybe it's just pure procrastination because I'm 'afraid' to attempt one of my own ideas for real.

I think that it's time to start finishing the quilts that are sitting here that I want to do, and I might as well cut some of them loose and realize they might never be finished. In thinking about this, I realized that I'm sometimes frustrated over the length of time it takes to finish a quilt. I think that bothers me more when I'm working on a quilt I really don't want to be working on. When I did that fleur-de-lis, it didn't bother me that it took a full month of a lot of hand work to do a single block. Then it hit me. We are only limited by our time here on earth. So why worry or 'stress out' over how long it takes to make a quilt? I'll keep telling myself that. *grin* Especially while working on a relatively simple quilt that should have been finished 2 years ago and I'm still not sure I can have it done by Christmas. LOL

One more thing about that show and then I'll head off. They were discussing a male quilter that spent at least 4 hours a night, every night, working on his quilts. Wow. What I wouldn't be able to accomplish with 4 hours a night to work on my quilts! Oddly enough, in thinking about it, I could probably do it. I normally don't go to bed until 2 am anyway. If I could just quilt from the time all the kids were in bed until I went to bed, I'd have just about 4 hours. Hmm... I wonder if I could try that idea out for a week. Then I can see how far I got on what I need finished by Christmas. I bet I could pull off all 4 quilts I want to see finished. They're almost done anyway... Two need bindings and a little more decorative work and two need to be finished quilted and have their bindings put on. I bet that by the end of this next week, I could have those first 2 quilts finished.

It's a deal. I'm going to challenge myself to work for a minimum of 4 hours a day this entire next week and see how far I get. I'm interested to find out. *smile*

Wednesday, November 21, 2007


Well, it would appear that winter finally decided to come pay us a visit. Odd since our first snow storm this year came before Halloween. It didn't even get cold really until today. It's now snowing and I'm sure my boys will launch themselves at windows in the morning to see how much has fallen overnight and if it's still snowing.

You know, looking out the window at falling snow can be so incredibly peaceful. Just watching it build up on the cars and settle on the ground. Watching it fall from the sky in the light of the streetlights is a beautiful sight. Makes you wonder if you can catch that wonder and beauty in any man-made way. Probably not. I think this wonder belongs solely to God.

In the land of projects, I finished up my shawl. Well, almost. I still need to take the time to tuck in all the extra strands left over from tying in the next skein. It's a yarn that likes to fray though so I think it might be a tad bit difficult. I tied little knots in the yarn when I spliced it in to keep it from happening as badly, but I don't know if that was good enough. I'll look into it tomorrow. For now, it can happily sit on my shoulders and keep me warm. I took the dog out for his last evening outing. I got really cold. The shawl is very welcome at this point. I love it!

My middle son reminded me that I'd promised him a pair of knitted slippers last year. My aunt and uncle gave us a spectacular present of some serious cash last year. I ended up going nuts and buying them a lot of presents. Odd that he's "sad" over the slippers not being there. However, I came across an easy pattern this year that wasn't there last year. It looks a lot better, and easier, than the other pattern. As a matter of fact, I finished one slipper tonight already. It's so cute! Much better looking than the pattern from last year. It's easier because it's a like a curled up piece that's knitted all at once and only has 2 seams to sew. The other pattern I tried was made out of squares and had a ton of seams. I really didn't like it much. If you want to try it, it's called "Aunt Maggie's Slippers." Definitely worth a look if you're not the world's greatest knitter and want something easy yet functional. If I can do it, then any beginning knitter can too. *smile*

With that, I need to head to bed. I'm sure I'm going to have some seriously excited kids on my hands in the morning. That and I'm sure my hands could use a break from all the knitting and typing I've been doing. Poor little hands... *smile*

Sunday, November 18, 2007

A Schedule?

Well, I was thinking of all the projects I have going right now and I think that I need to start a schedule of some sort. The main one that most people seem to suggest is the "30 Minute Schedule." All that is, is that you take and put in 30 minutes on a particular UFO (unfinished object) that you don't necessarily want to work on. Some people change the project every day to a different one. Others just leave it on one project until it's finished. The idea is that even if you just put 30 minutes in on something every day, they will eventually get finished. After that 30 minutes is up, you can either continue on that project, if it caught your attention again, or you can change it to what you really want to work on. With me? I'd better start scheduling 30 minutes for about 5 projects a day. Just kidding. However, I was thinking of mixing in around 3, possibly.

There's the butterfly stained glass quilt for my mother. I'd actually like to mail that in a little over a week. Right. As if that's ever going to happen! Who am I kidding? Thirty minutes on that critter is about all I can handle before I go insane. Once I get going on the handwork, maybe that would change. I don't know.

Then there's my step-son's quilt. That one takes almost 30 minutes to even set up to work on! Set up the machine for a different stitch type (free motion), thread it, make sure I have enough bobbins, etc. Then there's shoving that huge ol' critter through the machine. I never should have started it as a free motion project. *sigh* This really needs to be done for Christmas.

Then there's my husband's quilt. It still needs its binding finished and then the specialty quilting I promised. I wouldn't mind presenting that to him when he comes home for Christmas. Well, that is IF he gets home for Christmas. However, let's not go there right now.

My knitting is going fairly well and I normally just do that while I'm watching TV. I find it soothing and it's an easy project to turn off and on and I don't have to concentrate on it much. As a matter of fact, it's almost finished. Makes me wonder what I'll work on next. I actually have this absolutely wonderful yarn that I might work with next. *smile*

With that, I guess I'll set up a 30-45 minute schedule. Just to account for the time needed to set up the machine. Though if I just stuck with one until it was finished, then it wouldn't be that big of a deal. Butterfly or Study in Blue first? Hmm... I see a coin toss in my future. LOL

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Going Insane

Oh, my gosh! I think I'm going to go nuts!! I made the mistake of going to Wal-Mart today. Mind you, we did need milk and bread. While we were going there, I decided to get different shampoo as I didn't like what I was using. However, after browsing the yarn for a little bit, I scooped up my youngest to put him in the cart. This was after about the third time he stopped in front of me and I hit him with it. *sigh* He started screaming bloody murder! Right then! Quick dash to the diapers, then the milk, grab the bread and forget the rest of the list. He has just been in some kind of mood this afternoon. I know it's because he's tired and he's reacting to Daddy being gone. He doesn't understand why he doesn't see Daddy anymore except in pictures. I've personally resigned myself to the fact that my darling husband is gone. However, I'm getting NO breaks from the kids anymore. I think I'm going to go insane soon.

I'm currently working on a shawl/chair afghan. It should be finished before too long. Not bad considering I started it about a month ago. I hardly worked on it for a week, otherwise it probably would be finished. The week I didn't work on it, I found I couldn't watch movies after the kids went to bed. That's when I normally worked on it. However, DH and I used to do that before he left. I was having a hard time settling back into our normal routine with him gone. I'm back into the routine now though and I'm just knitting up a storm.

I am considering making a table runner though. I'm washing up some fabric for it right now as a matter of fact. I guess I'll have to dust off the ol' sewing machine and cutting table. *smile* Might as well do something. I won't see DH for just over a month still. That's plenty of time to work on a bunch of stuff. I need to keep myself busy or I'll go nuts. Well, that is if the kids don't toss me in the nut pile first!

I still need to finish binding DH's quilt and add the special quilting to it. Then there's my step-son's quilt I want to give him for Christmas. It will be one of the last times we see him until Summer. I think it's the perfect time to give it to him. It's only about 1/3 of the way done being quilted. You know, it really should have been finished long before now. I might try and hand my middle son a quilt for Christmas as well. It's all put together, just needs quilted. Aww... The story of my life. So don't ask me why I want to make a table runner... Maybe it's because it's a quilt-as-you-go type of thing. You actually quilt it as you make it. Sounds like my kind of project right now.

Oh, well. Right now? I have no clue what I'm doing. I'm trying to figure out dinner and then I'll go from there. Possibly a movie with the kids and then shove them into bed. LOL Though I am tempted to try another outing. I know, I'm insane! Then again, I already knew I was going there. I'll feed them first and then I'll head out. Maybe it will be better then. Besides, I want to hit Best Buy. The kids love Best Buy. We even have a new one that just opened up near our home. It shouldn't take too long.

With that crazy thought, I'm going to go see what they're up to and then figure out when I'm going to make dinner.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

A New Army Wife

Ta-Da! That's me. A 100% bona fide active duty Army Wife. So far I'm blessed though. My darling hubby is only at Basic Combat Training (BCT) and not anywhere else at the moment. You know, such as Iraq. I won't have to 'worry' about that happening until sometime next year after he finishes up all of his training. Of course I'm one of thousands of wives praying that their husband doesn't get sent there. Right now though, I'm dealing with our very first separation since we met 6 years ago. I know now that unless you've gone through this kind of a separation, you have NO clue what it's like. I wouldn't recommend it, but I sure am proud of my husband. *smile*

According to my calendar, I'm now in day 4 of him being gone. However, I have learned not to think of him as "gone." "Gone" almost implies death or never seeing him again. That's not true. We'll see him around Christmas. Sure that's a ways away, unless you have 3 kids who are constantly reminding you that really you have less than 50 days to get them their presents. They don't understand the concept of time, so Christmas is practically tomorrow in their little world. Thank goodness. It helps that they don't quite understand how long Daddy is really away for.

Anyway! I have learned to think of him as being away on a business trip. Don't ask me why, but it really helps me to think of it that way. Considering he is now in the Army and he did leave to go get trained for his new job/jobs (technically he'll have 2), then my reasoning holds up. Well, under distant inspection anyway. Husbands who are on real business trips have access to such things as cell phones, regular phones, and email. My hubby? No such access. As a matter of fact, he's not allowed any email the entire time he's in BCT. Phone calls? Haven't had one yet except for a few minutes before he was handed his plane ticket and flown out. That doesn't stop me from believing he's just on a business trip and will be home "soon." Hey! If kids don't understand how time passes, why do I have to admit that I do?

Have you ever noticed that kids are generally happier than adults? I think we sometimes need to just believe a few things like they do. In my case? I'm pretending that time passes really fast and Christmas is just around the corner. If I started doing everything I'm supposed to do before Christmas, well, I'm positive it will pounce on me out of no where.

Well, I actually have a lot I need to get caught up on. Spending 3 days down in the dumps can really set you back. Never mind the fact that I'm a crafter and it always takes time to finish things up. Did I mention we have to pay for DH's plane ticket home for the holidays? Somehow, I need to find a way to come up with that money and still give the kids a present or 2 for Christmas. DH being home is the main present, but they still need something to unwrap Christmas morning. I see my quilting/sewing abilities coming to my aid there. Wish me luck! I'd better start something now so it's all ready for Christmas. Hey! Don't laugh that hard. You might hurt yourself!

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Don't know why...

You know. Sometimes mothers do really dumb things to please their children. My dumb thing that I will do periodically is make rolled-out sugar cookies. I hate doing them. They always seem like a good idea at the time until I go to roll out the dough. THEN I remember why I hate them. I never can seem to roll it out right. And then trying to get those shapes out of the dough is annoying too. I had this friend who made it look SO easy. I wish she was here to do it for my kids... LOL

I used a new recipe today. It didn't require refrigeration before you rolled it out. Unfortunately, the recipe didn't say that the dough was also incredibly crumbly and wouldn't stay together. After going insane, I dumped all the dough back in the tub and walked away for awhile. While sitting on the deck and fuming over it, I started wondering how I could do biscuits so well but not cookies. I figured that it's because cookies have more sugar in them, less cohesiveness right there, and then less moisture, especially this particular recipe. So I went in and added milk. *grin* I made it more mushy and more cohesive. I still had an interesting time rolling it out, mainly because you do roll out cookies thinner than biscuits. So I changed that too. I figure that if I'm allowed to change any rule I want when I'm quilting, then why can't I change a baking 'rule'? So I rolled the dough out until it started pitching a fit on me and not wanting to go any thinner. You know what? Those cookies turned out better. *grin* Still, I don't see any rolled sugar cookies anytime until at least Christmas at the earliest. LOL

Now I get to sit around and watch the Rockies get their behinds kicked again by the Red Sox. You know, that's sort of embarrassing. I think I'd rather go stick my head in the sand and pretend I don't care if the Red Sox are sweeping us. *sigh*

I'm supposed to be finishing up a slew of things to mail off tomorrow. I need to sew in the pages to several needle books, finish closing up some pot holders, and I want to make 2 more little angels. I currently have 6 finished. I have them out on my WebShots if you want to see them. I guess that's enough work to keep me amused for the evening. I really don't want to do it though. Aren't I silly? They're off to a craft fair which means $$. Yup. I'm really silly. I'd just rather knit. My brain has gone on vacation and didn't bother asking the rest of me to go along. Guess I'll go see if I can find it and get to work. Later!

Friday, October 19, 2007

Be careful...

I just learned today to be very careful when you're in a bad mood and making your kids clean up. A little background:

My kids have this large set of K'Nex stuff. Mind you, they build neat stuff with it and all that. However, they leave it scattered all over the house! Their favorite thing to scatter? Blue round pieces connected together in such a way as to be very painful if you step on them. Mind you, I have yet to step on them, but I have no doubt that it would hurt. Would YOU like to step on a round ball of plastic spikes? I didn't think so. I think they scatter them as bombs or something like that. Anyway, it's annoying and I'm sick and tired of telling them to pick them up and keep them contained in their rooms.

The last straw: Finding several of those round blue spikey bombs scattered around the living room in walking paths, several collections of sticks (not built into anything) in the kitchen, sticks and connecting pieces up and down the hall along the floor boards... I'm sick of them. I told them 2 days ago that if they didn't keep them picked up that I was going to get rid of them. Right. Time to make good on that one.

I marched into their room and had my son open up the K'Nex box (we have a great storage box with a great lid to store them in, they just never DO!) and started tossing them in there. I even went so nuts as to start crawling around in their room (vowing to bring a trash bag in later for all the kids meal toys) to find all of them. While trying to explain to my son that those blue bomb things are dangerous and would hurt to step on them, to which he replied, "Oh, why would they hurt?" I saw one (or something similar) put together. I turned to hand it to him and tell him to step on it (LOL), and misjudged where I was. I cracked the side of my head right on the edge of their closet. Oh, my gosh! That HURT!!! I even said a bad word... Oops. I try not to do that in front of my kids. I think I went on to mumble stuff like, "I shouldn't even be in here doing this. I shouldn't have to keep telling you to pick up your stuff." Things like that... I also reminded my son, after dumping out the 2nd or 3rd box of JUNK to sort through for K'Nex pieces (I was serious about getting rid of ALL of them), that I had helped him sort out EVERYTHING into their proper spots and it took us 3 HOURS to do it! You can't tell now!! I was MAD... and in pain.

I have a lovely knot now where I smacked that wall. It hurts to touch that area (yeah, well, duh!). I'm now waiting to see if it's going to bruise. At least my hair will cover it. *sigh* I just took some ibuprofen for the headache I know that's coming along with it soon. I'm now going to go check and see how the final dumping of the BIG boxes of toys went and pull out the K'Nex box. I might just put it in the garage for now. However, I doubt very much that I will give it back to them. There's only so many times you can tell your kids to pick something up before you completely lose it. I see our lovely collection of K'Nex being given to ARC or another thrift store so that some other well-meaning and loving parent can buy it for their children. Then it can go torment someone else for a change!!! Aren't I evil? LOL