Friday, February 28, 2014

Who knows when I'll baste again

My daughter was invited to a birthday party a couple of weeks ago at a skating rink. I was there about 5 minutes when I assessed the situation - I could either sit in a chair with nothing to do, but not be rude by looking bored for the duration of the party (similar to looking busy at work when you have nothing to do), or I could see if I could still skate. After all, I was pretty good at it once. 30 years ago, but still - once.

Can you guess which decision I made? From that point on, I very happily sat on my chair and pretend to be mesmerized by the 7-year-olds inching their way around the rink.

So, basting a quilt on the floor has been completely out of the question these last two weeks, and based on the sensation when I accidentally bumped my shin against the toilet (softly, even) this morning, I have no idea when I will get to baste.

The only thing that makes sense in that situation is to make another top, right?

The fabrics are Kensington by Riley Blake and the pattern is Hexagon Garden. I love both. I originally was going to make this for selling, but not only did I fall pretty hard for it during it's construction, the piecing isn't quite accurate enough for selling. I should have starched the jelly roll strips prior to piecing knowing the whole thing is made of triangles. And I should have had the proper triangle ruler instead of just using the 60% mark on my straight ruler. Given those two factors, I'm pretty proud it turned out as well as it did.

This particular section turned out really well. Which is why you're seeing it. Overall, it was a fairly easy pattern. I'm really sure I'll be making it again.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

I miss covers

I have always liked being under the blankets. I prefer heavy blankets - the weight of two quilts is just perfect. I've never liked those fluffy, weightless polyester filled types. And my favorite thing to do with them is pull them right up over my head, and then I tuck them around my face so I can breath. Warm ears, cold nose - that's apparently what does it for me.

One of the first things I did upon becoming an adult was to learn to crochet, and for 20 years after I pretty much had a crochet hook in my hand every non-working moment. I made a lot of doilies, but a ton of afghans too, for both babies and adults.

And then three years ago I took up quilting and have made a pretty impressive number of quilts since. So I guess you could say that I've devoted my entire adult non-working life to making covers.

But now I've reached a peculiar stage of life where I can no longer enjoy my covers. In fact, they torment me.

Each night, I will get in bed and pull them up as I've done for the last 47 years, but it's a matter of time until the heat comes. The heat that defies biological science given the temperature of the room. I try to outsmart it - I know it's temporary - so I determine I'll just keep the covers in place and wait it out. You simply can't do this - it's too intense. But I know if I throw all covers completely off, I'll just get cold, so I try to inch the covers down. Just below the shoulder, I decide, is probably the perfect place. The heat disagrees. So, waist-high then. That should do it. NO! Knees? NO! And on we go until the only thing under the covers is the left foot. The heat demands that should go as well.

Fine. I have no covers. I lay there, damp from my own perspiration, under a ceiling fan, in a room about 68 degrees. Now I'm cold. So, I try to outsmart the cold. Just the left foot perhaps? Freezing. Somehow colder. Fine - knee-high, both feet? Nope. Waist-high? PUT SOME COVERS ON ALREADY!! I still try to stop at shoulder high, but it never works - I'm never comfortable until they are in place all the way up to my ears.

And that is when the heat comes back. All. Night. Long.

Maybe I should take up painting now...

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Pattern buying

Last week I read this article on the subject of pattern buying and sharing. While I agreed with the majority of it, there were a couple of things about it that just didn't set right with me and I wanted to give my non-professional, non-legal opinion about it.

My only experience with intellectual property and copyrighting comes from my previous job at a Christian company which, among other things, published books. They published several versions of the Bible, as well as commentaries and study aids, like Vines. Did you know that after a work has been in print for 100 years, it becomes public domain? So when my company printed their Vines, they did not have to pay royalty. The same with several versions of the Bible. Perhaps that's why companies keep producing updated versions? Anyway, if we bring that philosophy into the quilting world with us, then certain quilt blocks, just by nature of being around forever, cannot be claimed as intellectual property. Take the churn dash, for example. Someone could write a pattern for a quilt using the churn dash block, but they cannot claim intellectual property of that block, nor can they sue anyone who makes a churn dash after it's publishing date of copyright infringement. It's public domain by now. That doesn't mean no one should ever publish a pattern with a churn dash block, in fact, Camille did in her Simply Retro book. There's nothing wrong with her or anyone else publishing a churn dash pattern, but neither is there anything wrong with someone making that block without buying a pattern.

Now, I'm going to go off on somewhat of tangent. In January of 2012, Blue Elephant Stitches wrote a tutorial for what became a wildly popular block called the Granny Square. I, and thousands of other quilters, loved this block and made quilts from it. Here is a link to mine. Bee in my Bonnet has just published a book entitled Great Granny Squared. I can only judge from the pictures, but she seems to take the basic block and show it in a multitude of ways - different numbers of rows, on point versus not, different sashings, etc. Lori of Bee in my Bonnet has produced a huge number of very unique patterns and several fabric lines that I just love - she's a very accomplished designer. But the issue of the granny square block is muddy now to me. If I see a picture from her book and decide I want to do that exact thing to my granny square quilt, it's a no brainer that I should buy the book. But every member of the quilting community can claim some level of creativity, so who is to say that someone else might have the same idea without even seeing her book. Or what about the person who decides this year to start quilting? Might she (or he) see the book first and think they cannot make any form of the granny square block without buying the book, when in fact, it was first provided to the public by Blue Elephant Stitches? I'm not even sure what my point is, other than maybe the tone of the article would cause a person to think all granny square quilt makers from now on should buy the book, and not only do I not agree with that, I don't even think that was Ms. Holt's intention. She provided multiple creative treatments to the block and wanted to share them with us.

But back to the article, which stresses that we should buy a pattern, no matter how simple. And that's where she lost me. Because some things are so basic that you simply can't claim intellectual property of them. Take for example this pattern - squares set on point with sashing and a border. If you are new to quilting and want the instructions for adding sashing and setting triangles, then I'm very glad someone has provided that for you. But you can't claim intellectual property of the square - you just can't. Two years ago, I shared some squares on point with sashing that will have a border - I had never seen this pattern before today when I went searching for an example to make my point. You can't claim that I should have bought that pattern if I was going to make that quilt. So, no, I will not buy a pattern no matter how simple. I will assume when someone publishes a pattern that simple, they do so with the understanding that it's mostly going to be the novice interested in purchasing it and with the understanding that countless others are going to have a similar, maybe even exact, idea without ever seeing their pattern.

Of course I agree with the rest of the article. When we see a new idea in a pattern and copy it by sight just because we have the math and quilting skills to do so, we are stealing their idea. If the pattern designer brings the idea to us, we should reward their creativity by purchasing their pattern rather than stealing it. And, come on, we spend hundreds of dollars on fabric - we can spot the $8 - $10 that most quilt patterns cost.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Tidy Tuesday

This cleaner-than-it's-been-in-about-a-year kitchen:

Is for nothing. Nothing at all.

It was supposed to have been for a new fridge that was supposed to be delivered today that was supposed to have been factory inspected and ready to operate. Instead, it had a faulty seal and never made it off the truck. With the doors closed, you could see right into the fridge in one spot. Not very efficient.

I'm not so upset over not having a new fridge today - the old one still works, but I'm a bit miffed about the effort I put into getting ready for it. Oh well, I have a clean kitchen.

I probably should have put up a before picture as well like Mandy did in her post, but her mess was super cute Briar Rose fabric and some toy men. My mess was more like "have we ever wiped off these canisters? And when did we last have spaghetti anyway?" Not as cute.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Tidy Tuesday

I'm sure you saw on the news how the entire South was completely crippled by a couple of inches of snow and ice a couple of weeks ago - thousands stranded, cars bumping into each other everywhere, the cars that didn't bump spent hours upon hours in traffic. It was crazy. Because of that fiasco, our school systems are a little trigger happy and they closed yesterday with not a single flake of snow in the whole county. (They're closed again today, but it is snowing, so I'll give them that.)

So yesterday was a little different for me. Hence the Tidy Tuesday post on a Wednesday. I slept as late as my 6-year-old alarm clock would let me, then we went to the store, then I worked, which took longer than usual due to her unreasonable demands, like food every 4 hours and such. This was followed by me helping her finish cleaning her room and finally I asked my husband to take us out to eat. Not only was it a pretty long day, but school was cancelled again for today and the forecast indicated it might be warranted. I wanted out of the house while I had a chance.

My intention with this blog series was to list out what I did & didn't do, but I've decided not to risk boring you with that this week. I might change my mind about it if I ever follow the to-do list to the letter:) Right now, my house is a disaster, but I think it's mostly because I never got around to cleaning the kitchen yesterday and that is the hub of the house. If it's a mess, it seems like the whole house is a mess. I did do several things I'm proud of this week, tackling the nasty shower door tracks in my bedroom, a complete tidy & cleaning of our den, which is rarely used and more rarely cleaned, and the biggest is my daughter's bedroom yesterday.

I woke up yesterday wondering how I was going to keep her busy and happy all day long while I worked and, oh, if I could get her room clean in the process how wonderful would that be! So we took a trip to the Dollar General store.

I call it my "it's a snow day - for the love of God, please just let me work already" preparedness kit. Now, in snow days past, I would just hand a bag like this to her and frantically work for as much time as it bought me. But yesterday I got a little smarter. I kept the bag. All to myself. Only doling out portions of it after portions of her room got clean. It was magic. Magic, I tell you. Never, in the 5 years of me trying to force encourage her to clean has it been done with such energy and with such a great attitude. I present exhibit A:

That, ladies, is her bedroom floor. The one that 2 days ago contained every toy she owned. I only recognize it because it matches the rest of the house - I haven't seen it in forever. The other smart thing we did yesterday was to take some giant bins & fill them with toys to keep downstairs. She has a terrible time getting rid of toys, but just having them in a different room wasn't hard for her at all.

At the end of the day, I did spend a little time finishing the blocks for the gray diamond quilt I'm making. Hopefully these will get assembled next week, because I'm absolutely loving it and can't wait to see it all together.

Is there anything you'd like to share today? Something you cleaned, or a WIP that has progressed?

Edited to add: I was scrolling thru my Facebook feed when what should I find:

Can't argue with that!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Tidy Tuesday

At my friend Mandy's suggestion, I'm going to try posting about housekeeping every Tuesday. The plan is that she will too, but given that she's a nursing student, we're all going to agree to cut her some slack if she falls behind.

The idea originated because this is a source of stress for the both of us. We spend an insane amount of time and emotional energy worrying about our houses. Which, frankly, is where the similarity ends. By nature, she's a much better housekeeper than I, she has a much smaller house, she has more help from her family, she has one pet to my 4 - I could keep going, but the gist of it is that I feel like I've walked into Martha Stewart's house when I go to her house. But, finding the time and the motivation for it is just as stressful to her as it is to me, so we're going to establish some schedules and form a buddy system, with each other and with any of you that want to join in.

The base of my schedule is a weekly routine that naturally formed during a time in my life when I was working less and actually had the time to clean my house. I would get up in the morning, unload the dishwasher, start a load of laundry, do a different weekly task each day, and then tackle a project of some sort, maybe a closet that needed an overhaul or windows, something you don't do on a daily or weekly basis. When I went back to work almost full time, I found myself slipping out of these habits and basically calling it done when the dishes and laundry were done. I stumbled upon Clean Mama's blog last fall and realized she had a very similar system to what was natural to me. So I spent a little time and came up with daily, weekly, and, starting with her chart for 31 days to a clean house, monthly tasks. Things were starting to look up around here when I received two quilt commissions, and then the holidays, and then bronchitis - and then I began to feel like I'd never cleaned a day in my life:)

My step-daughter & I were talking about cleaning routines the other day and she said that she had tried to come up with them, but she never accomplished them perfectly. To her, to you, and even to myself, I want to say that routines are a guide. They are to help you keep track of what needs to be done, not to judge and criticize you for anything that didn't get marked off that day's to-do list. It's like a diet - you're never going to follow it perfectly. But when you have months like my December and January were, they can be invaluable for helping you get back on track, cutting through the overwhelming nature of it to just get started.

So here is my very crudely written, basic chore chart which is set up for a 4-week rotation. It's my plan each Tuesday to post it here in such a way that you can tell what I did and didn't do. Mandy suggested we also include any pictures we want to, any little spot of our house that seems picture worthy. I hope to add linking capabilities and we can all share in these accomplishments much like we do our quilting accomplishments.

Speaking of quilting, which is what we're all trying to find time for anyway, here's what I've been working on this week:

And yes. Yes those are laying on a clean floor - thanks for noticing!

Edited to add: Linking up to Freshly Pieced for Work in Progress Wednesday