Tell me something good!

A while back, I texted a friend (who happens to own my favorite bar) an idea for a party theme once we’re able to gather in groups and socialize without fear again: Tell Me Something Good. There should be a giant sheet of paper on the wall with markers available. On this paper, we’ll write all the good things that’ve happened while we’ve lived through the pandemic.

Two things stand out for me: turning 40 and finishing up my MBA. I’d planned to have a fundraising birthday party for my fortieth birthday with the proceeds benefiting my favorite charities, but by the time my birthday arrived in June it was clear that couldn’t happen. When I officially finished up my MBA in September, I celebrated quietly with my husband.

But through this party, we could capture the collective good that happened despite a tough year. We could document the highs during the low and be reminded that we find happiness in many forms.

But here’s what’s currently good.

I got my first vaccine shot! Kudos to Atrium Health for their well organized mass vaccination event at Bank of America stadium in uptown Charlotte. The most difficult part of the whole experience was waiting in traffic to turn into the parking deck. Other than a sore arm later that day and the next, I had no problems. I’ve mostly adapted to the radio signals I’m now picking up from space, too.

All. These. Needles.

I also got a tiny bit of a start on the sleeve of this baby sweater. I’d planned to finish it over the weekend because I need to finish it soon, but got distracted and didn’t make as much progress as I’d hoped.

And… I got my latest quilt back from being quilted! I asked my friend Susan to quilt it for me on a long arm machine, because at 96″ square it’s too big for me to quilt here at home. She did a fantastic job! Now I just need to bind it (ugh) and snap some pictures to share of the finished product!

So, there are my little bits of good for the day. I’ll have to remember to look for some more tomorrow.

Until next time,
– Tommy

Finished is better than perfect.

If you’ve quilted for at least five minutes, you’d no doubt read this somewhere or had some well-meaning, more experienced person say it to you.

It’s true, though. None of us will achieve perfection in a quilt. I’ve seen some truly stunning pieces of textile and fiber art, only to almost inevitably witness the creator say, “If only I’d have done this…” At some point, though, you have to say that it’s as perfect as it needs to be and move on to something else.

I feel this way about the Crosstalk quilt I did a few weeks back. Once it was quilted and washed, the flaws I noticed just after piecing the quilt top aren’t nearly as noticeable… ones that most people wouldn’t have noticed, anyway.

Anyone else love the crinkly effect you get after washing a quilt? It looks cozy and hides a lot of imperfections.

I guess I need to go a little easier on myself in the future.

Until next time,
-Tommy

On Wednesdays, we wear short sleeves.

For a brief, shining moment, all is right with the world.

Yes, friends, it’s 72 degrees in Charlotte on February 24, 2021. That’s why on this Wednesday, we wear short sleeves of any damn color we like. Pink, if you happen to be a Mean Girl or just look exceptionally good in it.

For those of you like me who struggle with depression and/or Seasonal Affective Disorder, pleasepleaseplease take 10 minutes today and simply sit outside. Do nothing but enjoy the warmth and the sunshine on your skin, if you like. I promise, it’s a little thing that feels so special today.

Right now, I’m sitting on my back porch listening to the dulcet tones of pug snores and the energetic bops from Kylie Minogue’s Disco album. (Yes, I’m still obsessed with it. Yes, you should listen to it if you even vaguely like pop music. Yes, I know I sound like a broken record but I promise it’s a fun album.)

I’m also thinking through my project list. The other day, one of the guys on the men’s fiber work Zoom call asked how many projects I had going. I had to stop and think because I’ve had more projects than usual lately, but I was able to honestly answer that I had three active projects: the knitting I was working on (more about that on Friday), my hexie quilt, and my crazy quilt. Though I’ve picked fabric for my next quilt, I’ve not done anything with it so it doesn’t count.

The thing is, I have to pace myself or I’ll burn myself out. In the past, I’ve found that if I take on too many graphic design jobs, it starts to feel like a chore. Something I love starts to feel like a tedious job. I don’t want that to happen with my crafts, which is why I don’t work on commission. I’d rather teach you to do it so you can enjoy it, too, than feel like it’s a burden to make you something. Does anyone else feel that way?

So, this Wednesday’s work in progress update is fairly easy: I’m working on adding four more rows to my hexie quilt.

The top three rows are already sewn together. I’m adding the row of blocks directly beneath those one at a time, then I’ll combine the whole piece to the larger bottom section.

In other news, we survived the brief addition of a third dog in the house even though Rocco the Wonder Pug was not happy to share a bed with Pablo. It made sleep difficult for all of us Monday night. But if you follow my social media, hopefully you were amused by my posts. Rocco and Pablo made an interesting pair and I enjoyed making up fun back stories about their activities. I even included my coworkers in the fun:

Until next time,
-Tommy

The Crosswalk Quilt

Happy Presidents/Presidents’/President’s Day, friends! Fun fact: there seems to be confusion about the usage of an apostrophe for this holiday title. I think we can just keep it simple by calling it George’s Day. Normally I work on Presidents Day but our office closed this year for some reason. I’m not complaining as it gives me a little more time to work on a quilt.

Last week, I mentioned that I had fabric from 2015 that I was itching to use. I initially thought I’d make one of Eleanor Burns’ Quick Trip Around the World quilts, which is fun, easy and comes together quickly. I’ve already made one before, though, so Friday night I decided I wanted to do something else. I asked around in my quilting groups and got great suggestions, but then I happened upon a Missouri Star Quilt Company video tutorial for their Crosswalk Quilt. It might be fun, I thought, just to make the quilt along with the video.

(Fair warning, my quilting lovelies: this is a cautionary tale.)

One of the things that made quilting less daunting when I was first learning was the realization that quilting is essentially just ironing, cutting, and sewing. So many of the quilting videos out there break the process down into these steps and it’s seems so easy to follow along with your online friends.

You iron the fabric, cut the fabric into smaller pieces, and sew those pieces together.

I’m hoping that Rocco will one day be tall enough to help me iron. A guy can dream, right?

You then iron those pieces, cut them into smaller pieces, and sew them together again in a different configuration after you make your second trip to the fabric store that day for thread because you didn’t plan as well as you thought. Not that I have a full spool of thread in the picture below because I did that.

You do some more sewing and ironing, and then some more sewing (only now into bigger blocks), and then you sew those blocks into even bigger strips and blocks.

Eventually, you wind up with the top of a baby quilt.

Can I be honest?

Would I make this quilt again? No, not as it’s presented in the video. I’ve quilted long enough that I could see some issues developing as I went: seams not being ironed with thought to how they would interact later, no regard for matching points, blocks not being squared. I also made a conscious effort to ignore those issues so I could see how the quilt would finish if I just followed the video.

It’s a cute quilt pattern, but the finished top isn’t up to my usual standards. I try not to be the quilt police but… it just looks sloppy to me in places. In all fairness, though, I did not buy the pattern. I would bet money that the pattern includes tips and tricks that make this quilt come together flawlessly. This is why we should spend a few bucks on the pattern, to make sure our end results match the vision we have in our heads.

I’ve already basted the quilt and will use it to practice my free motion quilting (which is what I wanted it for to begin with), then donate it to the local children’s hospital. It’s bright, fun, and will hopefully provide some cheer to a small someone in need of extra warmth.

Until next time,

-Tommy

Waste not, want not

If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the past year, it’s that we have a lot of stuff. I don’t mean that we have a lot of valuable items, either. I mean that we have random stuff that just takes up space without really providing value. I include my yarn and fabric stash in that category.

That’s right, I don’t think my fabric or yarn stash provide value – at least, not until I do something with them. I’ve come up with plans to use my stash that will provide value:

  • Yarn that doesn’t have a fairly immediate use in a project, I don’t particularly like, or that doesn’t coordinate with anything else will be turned into charity items. Not only have I made it a personal goal to make at least one item for donation every month this year, I’ve sorted out a practical way to do it (more on that in a later post).
  • Fabric has been split into two piles. Larger scraps will be basted onto hexagonal English Paper Piecing templates because I have clearly lost my mind. Smaller scraps, including those generated by the hexie quilt leftovers, go into my crazy quilt pile.

Now, let’s talk about the EPP hexie throw project. Looking back, I have no idea what made me think, gosh, a hand sewing project that’ll take me months is clearly a good idea! I’m not sure I ever had a thought like that to begin with, especially since I’ve never particularly liked to sew by hand. But I have found that I enjoy having a portable project that doesn’t tie me to the sewing machine. I know it’ll take a while, but it’ll be worth it once this expands into a bright, colorful heirloom:

I’ve toyed with the idea of having friends send me old cotton dress shirts to include because I’m not entirely sure I’ll have enough fabric to do the top. I also hesitate to bring more fabric into the house since decluttering is tough enough already. For now, I’ll see how far I get with what I have – it’ll be a while before I really need to worry about it.

I am curious about what other quilters do to keep stashes low and organize scrap fabrics. I guess I’ll need to do some research!

Until next time…

-Tommy