Friday, January 31, 2014

End of January "State of the Studio" Report

I'm very happy to report that the studio is looking much better than it did on January 12th. To begin with, the design wall is showing a different quilt:
This is the kaleidoscope quilt that was cluttering up my cutting table at the beginning of the month. It's still cluttering up the cutting table: 
but other projects have moved along to where I can now work on it again. It's a project from the Craftsy class "Mining your Stash." The basic idea was to create new "fabric" from strips of other fabric, then cut that "fabric" apart into pieces for your quilt. I have enough triangles cut to make the quilt shown in the instructions, but I'm not sure that's a finished size I want. So I'm going to put those pieces together, then see how much more I want to add. 
The quilt that was taking up the whole design wall and more has moved on to the next stage in its life. The top of Spring Meadow is finished, and I've sent it out to the longarmer to be basted. Since it measures 110" by 110" I need all the help I can get to bring the quilting down to a manageable task. But I think it's looking good:
and I expect to have it back in a week or so. Then the quilting will begin. It's a big quilt. It's going to be a big job. I just hope the end result looks good.

The rocking chair looks different as well. Theresa and Devan's quilt is still lurking in a corner there, but most of it is taken up with this quilt:
This is the Tilted Stars quilt I pulled out of the drawer in hopes that I would have it completely quilted and bound by the end of the month and I would have a finished quilt to show off. Alas, that plan fell a bit short. When I pulled out the project box to see what I had in there that might serve as binding, hoping at least to find some of the border fabric, I found 2 packages of navy blue quilt binding. I rarely use this because I think it's too expensive for what it is, and doesn't come in very many colors, but there it was, so I sewed the ends of the 2 pieces together and started attaching it to the quilt. That's when I discovered that 2 packages weren't enough to go all the way around. So it's going to sit in the chair and wait patiently until I can get to Hancock's and get another package of binding. So very close, but not quite there. 

The other quilt that was in the rocking chair on January 12th was Ms. Zula's quilt. I am happy to report that that top is now finished and has now taken up residence in the drawer for unbasted quilt tops. 
I will do a separate post about this quilt, because it is rather special, even though it's quite humble in appearance. My goal for the month was to get the top completed, because it also needed design wall time, and that's been done. That makes me happy. 

Other surfaces are showing improvement. The ironing table is completely clear except for irons and ironing gear:

 The card table is still here, but it has a lot less stuff on it. The pile of cat fabric is still there, but in putting away other things on the table I found a pattern book that I may have thought of using with these fabrics. I'm still not sure about that, but now they're stacked together and I can think about the possibilities.

The little cabinet behind the sewing table has been tidied.
The serger table still needs help. There's the stack of fabrics left over from the Spring Meadow quilt, at least one piece of which is destined to become binding. I'm thinking about ideas for using the rest of it, since it is a lovely coordinated group of fabrics, but that's not a priority at the moment. The fabric is there because there are no empty project boxes at the moment. There is also the bowl of pieces for the strip-piecing project. It usually lurks somewhere near the sewing machine. 

 And the sewing table itself is empty except for a few tools. I've been working on big pieces in the past week, so all loose items had to find new homes or end up on the floor.

 The one new project I've pulled out is this small top that is waiting patiently for the cutting table to be clear enough for it to get basted. It's a wall hanging that I pieced when I was in seminary nearly 20 years ago. When I pulled it out I realized I still like it a lot, so it's time it got quilted so it can show itself off.

And I didn't take a picture and my camera's memory card is now full, but I also have a stack of 36 quilt-as-you-go blocks ready to be made into a donation quilt. I just have to decide what I want to use for sashing. I did a sort of sew-in to mark Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s birthday, with the focus being on doing good for someone else. The sew-in ended up lasting almost a week; I decided to keep going until I ran out of something already prepared, which ended up being batting squares. 

So on to February. In February the Olympics will be going on, and that means the Ravellenic Games will be running concurrently. That's an occasion to work on yarn-related projects, so there might not be as much quilty stuff going on for those two weeks. For now I'm going to go play with triangles. 

Sunday, January 12, 2014

It's 2014 Already!

Where did 2013 go? I got a lot of things done last year that never got recorded in this blog, and I'm not going to try to go back and list them all now. But I still managed to end the year with the studio in a mess, and the weight of a ton of unfinished projects on my back. The fact that I went to Canada for 5 weeks and was gone through most of December didn't help, although most of that time I was working frantically on the Christmas knitting.
So I'm going to start with a "State of the Studio" report. It may not have the same significance to the world as a State of the Union address, but it has more significance to me.

As usual, every flat surface has fabric and a project in some stage of completion/incompletion on it. On the design wall is a quilt that should have been finished and gone from my life before Christmas:
There are also pieces of this quilt on my ironing board, my sewing table, my cutting table and the stool next to the cutting table. It's a commission for a good friend, who wanted it for his daughter's first winter in her new house. I'm gunning for Easter at this point. First goal is to have the top pieced and at the long-armer's for basting by the end of the month. The block rows are all pieced, so all that's left is the rest of the sashing and the borders, which are not pieced. I think this is achievable without too much stress and strain, even though it is a king-sized quilt.

When Jane Gower's quilt went up on the wall, two other projects had to come down, and they are now draped over the back and arm of the rocker:
The first is the double wedding ring quilt for Devan and Theresa. I think they will celebrate their fourth anniversary this year. Once Jane Gower's quilt is off the wall, this one will be the next big project that gets attention.
The second is what I'm calling "Miss Zula's Quilt," named for the woman who sewed these blocks into strips while she was in the nursing home. This is not fine quilting by any stretch of the imagination, but I want to finish this quilt for her and enjoy it. Since she stitched by hand and was in the early stages of Alzheimer's, the seams need reinforcing, although the seam width is remarkably consistent. This is an auto-pilot project, for those days when I want to just sew, and not make design decisions or worry about precision.

The cutting table has a strip set on one end of it:
This strip set is from a Craftsy class called "Stripping Your Stash," taught by Nancy Smith. The basic idea is to cut strips from a bunch of different fabrics, sew them together to create new fabric, then cut that into pieces to make the quilt. I've been cutting triangles from this, but had to put it aside when I started work on Robby's quilt. I'll get back to it someday.

Continuing the tour around the studio, here's a pile of fabric sitting on the card table that was a temporary addition to the studio and which may now be a permanent fixture:
I forget why I originally pulled these fabrics out, but they are all black and white and red cat prints. I think I had a plan for them once. I don't know what it is any more, but it's a nice collection, so I don't really want to just put it back in stash.

Against the back wall is a set of shelves that have become a sort of catch-all. On top of the pile is the big pink tub that holds scraps for kids quilts. On top of the tub is a set of squares ready to be assembled into a donation quilt. I've already set aside MLK day as a "donation quilt sew-in day," so maybe I'll have a donation quilt done by the end of the month.

This little pile sits on the set of drawers behind my sewing table:
They're string-pieced strips made from the leftovers from James and Crystal's double wedding ring. I often use this as a leader/ender project when I'm working on other stuff, so I keep them handy. Someday I'll have enough for a top.

And just when I thought I had enough projects scattered about to keep me busy all of this month and half of next, one of the bloggers I follow issued a UFO challenge to finish something by the end of the month. Since I need a baby quilt for a soon-to-be-born wee one, I pulled out this:
It's all basted and ready to be quilted, and I think "stitch in the ditch" is all it needs, so this is now sitting on top of the pile on the love seat (I'm not even going to think about what's underneath it).

That's the state of my studio today. I think I'll make this a monthly feature through this year. It seems like an easy way to show progress, and might even be fun to look at come the end of the year.