Tuesday, April 24, 2007

I'm trying to practice the discipline of spending 15 minutes a day at a task, even on the days when there is no time. I'm spending my 15 minutes redeveloping my hand quilting skills. I used to love to quilt by hand; in fact I started quilting on "cheater quilts" where there was no piecing, just the quilting. But then I made some quilts that really needed to be machine quilted; at the same time I got drawn into the thinking "faster must be better." Before long I had quit hand stitching anything.

But I've also come to realize that I prefer sitting quietly with my feet up on the sofa working with my hands. So I'm working toward getting my hand stitching back to where it used to be. It takes time to build up the callous on the finger underneath, and to remember all the little tricks that made the stitches small and even. But 15 minutes at a time it's coming back.

As something to practice on I'm working on some double pinwheel blocks I acquired in a swap from the Frenz group. Adding the corner triangles makes a block big enough to hoop. The quilting pattern is a kind of snowflake design that I found in an issue of Quiltmaker. Here's a finished block.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

I finally have some new pictures to show what I've been up to. I seem to have broken through whatever it was that was blocking my desire to work on quilts, and I've been sewing up a storm. I finished the quillow top, although as soon as I took the picture I found a wonky leg on one of the blocks that will need to be fixed before I mark and baste it for quilting. I haven't decided whether to quilt it by machine or by hand yet. Always decisions to be made.

This weekend has been a sort of stay at home retreat, inspired the the Stashbusters group. I decided to cut some 5" squares from some of my scraps and use a pattern I found in the Nickel Quilts book. The stretched stars pattern is as easy as it gets, and looks lovely done up with the darker centers and the yellow points. The corners I cut off are being sewn up for another project, so there will be a bonus somewhere down the road.

One of the things I've done in the past couple of weeks is tidy up the studio so it's a more pleasant place to work. I cleared off the loveseat and all the counters except for the current project. I cleared away a bunch of cobwebs and put the old exercise bicycle out for the trash (20 minutes later someone asked if they could have it so it didn't end up in the landfill). And I finally strung up the party lights along the storage wall to add just a bit more light and a touch of whimsy to this very utilitarian space. I love looking at them while I sew; they inspire me somehow.

I want to get myself organized to where I have sewing time early in the morning again. I used to be able to do this, but somehow lately it hasn't worked. I also want to get to the place where the sewing table is set up ready to go if I can find even 15 minutes. If I can do it for knitting I should be able to do it for sewing too.