Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Book Club

The DJC book club is meeting at my place tonight, which is giving me an opportunity to do a few things I love:

Read "The Cookbook Collector" by Allegra Goodman

Style the Dining Room

Oo, what an ugly picture

Hang a welcoming wreath - I hope I won't offend this fairly secular group too much with my Dollarama heart

Set the timer on the coffee maker

Make a seasonal craft to place in the powder room or with the tea things. I just stuck a pin in each rose to hold my flower together instead of using hot glue. I might want to unravel them and reuse the strips. Do you recognize the fabrics from my two latest quilts?

In a few hours my guests will arrive and I'll have a chance to schmooze with my friends old and new.

In the mean time the laundry will get finished, the dog will get walked, the children will come home from school to eat, practice and do homework before heading out to circus training, and I will run around like a mad woman trying to make myself look like a woman of leisure who does nothing all day but wait for her guests to arrive.

Get it done and give it away!

Sometimes it's more important to be finished than fabulous.

My new mantra when it comes to finishing UFOs (Unfinished Objects) is:

Get it Done and Give it Away

I've decided it's better for a quilt to be snuggling a sick child or brightening someone's wall than it is for it to be sitting partially finished in my UFO cupboard.

I've been in an organizing frenzy lately. Every craft material and tool I've collected over the years has been taken out, dusted off, sorted and put back where I can find it. It's given me a whole new lease on life, and it's made me realize how many abandoned projects I have that are just waiting to be finished and given a new home.

So far in 2012 I've finished the top that I blogged about the other day, and given away a lap quilt, a baby quilt and about 30 preemie quilts. You can see pics of most of them on my Flickr stream.

Yesterday I tackled a baby quilt that I had pieced and half quilted with stars and loops at least four years ago. The spot where I had given up was painfully obvious. There was evidence of skipped stitches, broken threads, broken needles and frustration written all over this poor little quilt. More importantly there are bright colours, vibrant patterns, warm batting and a soft, soft fleecy flannel backing. This quilt was calling out to be rescued, finished and given away.

"It's more important to be finished than fabulous" I kept saying to myself over and over again as I picked out the broken threads, completed one half finished star and then did some random curvy quilting over the rest of the blanket. I quickly cut off the excess batting with scissors, trimmed the backing with my rotary cutter, leaving 3/4" all the way around for a self binding, doubled folded it over the front as I stitched it in place (no hand sewing for this baby) and voila - another finished baby quilt.

My inner critic says: It's lumpy. It's bumpy. The sides are wavy. It uses two different quilting techniques. It is not up to my standard.

My daughter says: Please don't give it to charity, I want you to give it to our Daddy's cousins who are expecting a baby.

It seems she thinks my finished quilt is pretty fabulous after all.

I'd love to hear what you are working on. What is keeping you from finishing your UFOs? Are you ready to stop beating yourself up about trying to make something fabulous?

Please leave a link in the comments to your UFOs or FOs.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Quilting and Listening to Music on a Saturday Morning

I'm so happy.

I've just finished turning a pile of scraps like this

into this beautiful quilt top:

The pink scraps came in a kit prepared by the charity quilting group of the York Heritage Quilters. I don't have backing or batting, and quilting is not my favorite part of the quilt making process. I'll hand the top and binding prepared from strips cut from the remaining scraps in to the guild and some generous quilter will finish it before it's donated to one of the charities the guild supports.

My husband is sitting comfortably surfing in the armchair in my studio.

Asher the Yorkie was running around playing with whatever tidbits he found on the floor and has now hopped up in my lap for a cuddle.

The Presentation of the Rose from Strauss's Der Rosenkavalier is playing on "This Is My Music", my favorite program on CBC radio.

The children are off enjoying a full day of circus practice. They'll come home for a quick violin lesson followed by dinner at The Old Spaghetti Factory with their cousins.

Eyal and I are just about to head out for a walk and a wander on this gorgeously sunny and chilly day.

All's right with my world and I hope it's great in yours too.

Wishing you a wonderful weekend.


Thursday, January 19, 2012

Attempting Felting

Jumping in feet first I am copying poor Mary Elizabeth yet again. I think I may have mentioned that after seeing her beautiful felted basket at our November meeting I begged her to give us a workshop on how to make them. She very kindly agreed, has been working on instructions, scheduling times that we're all available, working methodically to help us succeed at our first attempt at felting.

Ya, that doesn't seem to really work for me. I am so sorry ME but I tend to just sort of jump in and see where my experimenting takes me.

Tuesday we had our January get together at Judy's. I arrived late and was just in time to overhear the tail end of ME's explanation of how she's going to move forward with us. When I got home I decided that this whole felting thing sounded like fun and I was ready to get started. Now. Rather than bug Mary Elizabeth for the instructions I commenced in typical fashion:

I ran in to the wool store, grabbed the nearest book with felting patterns, got a vague idea of how much wool I was going to need and started shopping.

When I got home I looked at this free online pattern by Alice Thelma and decided I wanted my bowl to be a bit bigger so I grabbed the largest circular double pointed needle I could find in my collection (6.5mm) and cast on about 100 stitches.

I think (hope) my bowl is just about deep enough and I'm ready to start decreasing. Time to look through my collection for double pointed needles. Isn't this an elegant way of storing all the needles my grandmother, my mother, and I have purchased over the years?

How old is this set of #14s and which one of us was crazy enough to knit with them?

Time to switch needles, go back to that online pattern for guidance and start casting off. Wish me luck!

My next project had better be a better storage system for those needles. Any suggestions?

Although, I think I'm pretty sure I purchased too much wool for this bowl so I'll still be able to do Mary Elizabeth's workshop with the rest of the group. Yeah, best of both worlds! I get to experiment now and learn the right way of doing this technique that is new to me in a little while.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Extending that holiday feeling

Travel for work, for love, for family, for research, for fun has kept the Wolfes and our offspring apart over the holidays.

Many emails and phone calls helped us to find one magical evening when most of us could be together. We were missing one branch of the family that lives out of town, one recalcitrant twenty something and one nonagenarian who prefers to be at home to visitors.

Many kind aunts, uncles and cousins crowded into the family room to indulge the littles in a hilarious Game of Life.

Conversation, brisket, cauliflower and parsnip soup, wine, chocolate, laughter, hugs.

A photo op for Roy's granddaughters.

And one charming non-Wolfe (who later on would tweet about his tour of the kids' fort) to round out the guest list.

Just spent 5 min getting a kids' tour of a Forest Hill kids' fort. I asked about a panic room. Told forts r "insecure"

The guests were sent home with fresh baked Cranberry Walnut bread.

I hope that you too are getting a chance to make the holidays last.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

More New Year's Memories

See the hutch full of quilts in the mirror? The sign says let it snow. Now that we've had a dusting for the holidays I'm happy for it to melt and go away until next Christmas. Maybe I should put the sign away?

What I learned from this rousing game of Life:

1. All dinner parties should include an opportunity to play a board game.

2. Going to college really pays off.

3. Especially if you become a lawyer.

The big winner (not pictured, hint, hint) had almost double the cash of her next opponent by the end of the game. Just saying.

Winging Into the New Year

 The inspiration

  Jude Hill's site is both inspirational and relaxing.

The project

The feather

The story

The future

As I sent my feather winging to Long Island I dreamt of how Jude would incorporate my feather and all the others she receives into a bigger project than any of us could achieve on our own.

As I look at the photo of my poor bedraggled feather I realize that the flight may have been too much for it and it may not survive the incorporation into a larger piece in its current form.

It may cease to exist as more than an idea and an image in the cloud.

So be it.

I aspire resolve choose to continue to weave the creative into the quotidian.

What is inspiring you to create? How do you share your creative process with other artists and with the world? What are your creative resolutions?