Monday, 28 December 2015

2015 Finishes

You know what keep me blogging? It helps me to remember the little things I would have forgotten otherwise.  Looking back, I’ve re-read my first post of 2015.  I was intentionally non-ambitious with my projects list.  A couple of times, I entered UFOs challenges with not much to show for at the end of the challenges.  So this year, I DID not enter our Guild UFOs challenge and I decided to have a very limited ToDo list.  Actually, my only real goal was to finish the ONE project that really matters, the Wedding Quilt for my god-daughter.  Everything else was bonus, now looking back I got a lot of bonus!
Quilts – 9 finished (and still a couple more in progress)
Little things
Dress-making (I still want to blog about a couple of finishes)
Knitting
Sewing room5
A couple of pairs of socks, Evisa, Purl Soho Diagonal scarf, Colour Affection, KAL hat, Wake, It cannot fail to please
Project-wise, it has been a good very year.  For 2016, I’m going to write (for myself only) a list of projects I want to finish, a list a projects I want to make, a list of techniques I want to explore.  Hopefully, I’ll be able to report on these at the end.
Let me know, how do you keep track of what you do?  Do you find that sharing projects on social media helps documenting your realisations?

Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Just a more couple quilts

I am not over it yet: the Wedding quilt is finished, gifted and received (could you believe it? $90 to send the beast to Australia, tracked in less than a week, in the middle of the Xmas posting madness – Thank you USPost for the efficiency).  I am so grateful to my friends who pushed me.  It gave me extra focus and energy and I finished more quilts in the last few weeks than I thought possible (for me anyway).
Here comes the Japanese ladies Kaleidoscope quilt.  Started sometimes in 2005 (I think) when I taugh the technique at a workshop for my friends in England.  The technique is a clever adaptation of ‘Stack’n’Whack’, but it use very little fabric (just need a piece of fabric with a middle to large size  pattern, making sure there are 4 repeats of the pattern in the length).  For the rest, it’s the usual story: I made the top for the workshop then forgot about it, then decided that I did not like it, then rediscovered it and liked it again.
Japanese Kaleidoscope
I long-armed it (is it a word?) and I am not too happy about it.  The thread is too thick and shows too much, making obvious that there’s room for improvement with my quilting skills.  Oh well, it is finished!
Now the second quilt.  I started this one over the summer.  Crazy Mom Quilt had a Quilt Along.  I had to jump in, I always loved a scrappy quilt!  My scraps bin is not very voluminous, you know, I don’t make that many quilts, and some of my scraps are so old.  I through them all on the floor of my sewing room where they staied almost all summer.
Scrapvortex
I treated this quilt as a practice for some quilting designs.  It seems that my hands are quite good at curves, loops and feathers.
Scrapvortex1
Scrapvortex2
It feels so good to have been that productive :-)

Tuesday, 15 December 2015

Modern Xmas

I can’t believe that I’ve recently finished 5 quilts (large and small), made 2 pieces of garment and I am not done yet.  So let’s start with a seasonal quilt – my Modern Xmas.

Not long ago, I attended a workshop with Carole Lyles Shaw at my Guild (the Orlando Modern Quilt Guild).  In the workshop’s description, Carole said we will have time to finish the top during the day, we might even be able to start on a second one.  I think she had under-estimated how undisciplined, chatty a bunch we are.  At the end of the day, I had cut my fabric for all the blocks, but hardly finished 2 full blocks (OK they are huge – 16.5x24.5).

The pattern is pretty simple, Carole has done all the math for us.  I love math, even better when it’s already done ;).

Back home, I finished the blocks pretty fast, but then I spent several nights rearranging the whole quilt, sewing, ripping, sewing…  What took the most time is setting the ‘connectors’ properly so they actually connect blocks together.  In addition, I decided to piece the back too.  I really love the fabrics I chose and did not want to have any left-over.


I’ve used the ‘Board Basting’ technique (thanks to one of the Guild lady for showing us the tip).  Nice and easy, and now I understand why I needed a large island in my kitchen – the perfect space to baste a quilt.


Quilting wise, I went for straight lines on the negative space, and stitch in the ditch around the squares, each square getting its own pattern to fill the center.


I’m really happy with this quilt:

  • it’s finished.
  • I got the opportunity to experiment with my quilting.
  • I love the colour scheme, it goes very well with my chaise-long and I think the quilt might stay there all year long.
  • I really ‘controlled’ the whole process, exploring my options, taking time and concentrating on the end result.



Now, tell me, how do take good pictures of your quilts?  Do you use any programme to touch up the pictures?  Does anyone help you?
I’m using Picasa for my pictures and collages.  I am always struggling with the process of taking pictures, too bright, to dark, too much shadow…

Saturday, 5 December 2015

Thankful

This morning as I contemplated the chaos in my laundry room, I remembered this post from a while ago.  As I steamed away wrinkles from cotton shirts (Oh! those white cuffed business shirts…), I decided that I won’t be defeated by this Mount-Everest-like pile of garments because I have so many other reasons to be joyful.

Thanksgiving in London5Here is the pictures of the kids you’re all been waiting for :)

This is what Thanksgiving looks like when celebrated by this family, same as last year.  We are embracing traditions from all the countries we lived in, making them ours.  My kids don’t have a forever family house to go but they have each other.

Thursday, 3 December 2015

Underground inspiration

I spent last week in London and it was so nice: seeing the kids, meeting friends, walking, walking, and walking even more,,, It was not too cold, not too rainy, just nice and autumnally.
I know quilters find inspiration everywhere and anywhere.  I found mine in the underground (subway in American English).  I used to look at tiles for inspirations, but this time I put my ‘modern quilter’ glasses on and I’ve seen some pretty interesting things.  I don’t know how I’m going to exploit these yet, but I promised myself to venture into new grounds next year (which mean once I’m done with the pile of stuff on my sewing table) and I am definitively planning on incorporating what I’ve seen this week into quilt projects.
Thanksgiving in London
 Thanksgiving in London2
Thanksgiving in London1 
The best thing when you can walk in a city, is the ability to be surprised by the urban architecture.  I really like how old and modern are going along together.Thanksgiving in London3
And another surprise, the Man Bun is a real thing in London.   The Top Knot with Undercut (yes, there’s a whole range of Man Buns!) seems to be the favourite style, but don’t despair, if your guy doesn't have the patience of growing on, you can still order him one :o
Thanksgiving in London4

Monday, 23 November 2015

Petite pièce

After last week biggie, here is a tiny.  I made it for Alice’s Bday.  I’ve started long before the due date, but still did not manage to finish it on time.  I should really learn my lesson

Cut
Piece
Finish the top
Make the sandwich

(for my non-quilter friends, it has nothing to do with BLT, it’s a fabric sandwich, still very yummy)
Quilt
Bind
Enjoy

It shouldn’t be difficult!

Log cabin2
The main fabrics are a variety of Cotton and Steel.  The background ones are from some other sources (which I can’t remember, which is a shame as I really love the ‘I make stuff’ one).

Log cabin

The tiny heart is made of 1” stripes, a lot of tiny stripes – I don’t think I’ll make a king size quilt out of them.

Log cabin1   Love the little details :)

Monday, 16 November 2015

The meaningful quilt

I had so many other titles for this post

The Big Bad Ugly Quilt
The Wedding Quilt
Sooo Slooow Sewed
Once upon a time
Better late than never
The Imaginary Quilt
MP & B before Bb’s
The long lost quilt
The Beast

Now here is the story behind the quilt.  Once upon a time, my very young God-Daughter got married with her very young sweet-heart…  I was not so young, but I had 3 very very very young kids, a travelling husband, a full time job… and I should have known better… still I decided to make a quilt for the young couple… and I told them…

Of course, the quilt was started but never really finished.  At first, the couple teased me - when are we getting our quilt?  But with time they dropped the subject… And then we moved (nothing new here, it is the story of our life).  Then they moved, more than once.  They started a family.  And honestly, it was much more fun to knit little cardis, tops for the Bbs, it’s fast, the Bbs looked cute in them = instant gratification.  Still I had the big big guilt hanging around, and this half finished quilt made it more than once on my UFOs list…  So this year, 10 years later, I though it was time to move on.  And honestly, MP & B are still married 10 years later, they deserve this quilt ;)

Construction wise, the centre had been done a few years ago.  I added a border and felt it was a bit too small.  I pieced second border – still too small, so I added a third border.  Now it is big enough, not quite a king size but very close.

Search results for Wedding Quilt1

The blocks: each blocks are made from one dark and one light triangle.  The first seam is at 1/4” parallel to the long side of the triangle, then 2 more seams on each side of a line drawn parallel to the firs seam.  Then you cut on the line, obtaining a large bicolour square, and some sort of a sleeve which is then chopped resulting in 5 small HSTs.  The main seams are on the bias which makes it challenging for beginners (which I consider I was 10 years ago).  I love this block because once you have your 6 HSTs then it’s all fun… there are so many way to arrange them.

Search results for Wedding Quilt

This quilt has been started at a time when machine quilting or long arm quilting was not part of my world.  Up until 5-6 years ago I was hand quilting all my quilts.  And that was my original intention for this one, but honestly I don’t think I want to have this quilt unfinished for the next 10 years.

Now it’s where I must send a very big THANKS to my quilting friends (#quiltingfriendsarethebest).  They pushed me, they nagged me, they teased me, they even let me borrow their long arm machine, they pushed a bit more until I finished free motion quilting the borders on my domestic machine…

Wedding Quilt

So now 10 years and almost 3 months later, I can proudly show you the MP&B before Bb’s wedding quilt!

Wedding Quilt2

On a closer inspection, you might be horrified by my choice of fabrics.  I need to explain a bit on this subject.  I didn’t choose my best fabrics.  Actually, I put in some pretties, some uglies, some pieces were new, some were recycled from our wardrobe (baby’s clothes, husband’s shirt…), and most of all nothing is coordinated.  I put all the dark fabrics in a bag, all the light ones in a different bag, closed my eyes and pulled one triangle out of each bag.  It does make some very un-conventional combinations.  And really when I think about it, it makes the perfect wedding quilt because when you get into a marriage you come with some baggage, with some pretty-happy bits, but also with some not-so-pretty, not-so-happy bits.  In the end everything goes in and you make it works.  You might notice things that don’t work together if you look closely, but the big picture is different and harmonious.  I’m so please that I waited that long to finish it, I’m so glad that the 2 non-pieced borders are not of the same fabric but very close, just like their two kids, different but similar, bidding the whole thing together.

Wedding Quilt1The whole process has been very slow, not always enjoyable, many times I though of giving up and now I’m so happy to have produce this meaningful quilt, and I really wish it will be with them for a very long time.

Monday, 9 November 2015

20

20-year old – this is how old/young is my first child!  The one who made a mum of me, the one who made a family of us.  The one who’s always been so mature.  Our caring, beautiful, grown up girl.  The big sister, the crazy cat lady, the world traveller…

Sorry Alice, I know your friends might see this post and make fun of these pictures…

000 Temp10 000 Temp9
For the 4th year now, we are not around to celebrate her birthday (still it did not stop us from having cake :)…  I can’t wait for Thanksgiving's week when we go to London and we can have some time together.

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Our (almost) vegan week

Remember, last week I said we’ve been raising activist kids.  So this week I am presenting my Vegan boy.  Yes, your heard it write Victor is gone V E G A N… actually, it is an experiment for a month.  All started with his Environmental Studies Course and a documentary they watch in class:  Cowspiration – The film that environmental organizations don’t want you to see! (such a cheesy subtitle).  It is available on Netflix, has been produced by Leonardo di Caprio.  I haven’t finished watching it (yet), I have mixed feeling about this documentary, there are some very interesting facts but I don’t (really don’t) like the conspiracy tone of it, I found it quite catchy and to my opinion it lessen the impact of the whole thing.  However, if you are interested, you should watch it and probably read this post which summarises quite a lot of what I think.

Anyway, back to my subject, Victor, who used to be the biggest meat-eater of our family, has asked me to cook vegan while he was with us on holiday.  So here it is:

Vegan week From left to right and top to bottom
Carrots and Pumpkin soup, Tofu and Tomato salad with Sesame spinach, Lentils Kale Tomato and Avocado Mexican-ish Salad
Breakfast Fries with Polenta Salad, Tomato and Three-bean salad, Chickpeas Tomato Coriander-Potato chips Soup
Squash Risotto, Pure Vegan – where I got most of my recipe for this week, Broiled Tofu Carrots and Shiitake Mushrooms

Honestly, it hasn’t been too difficult to cook this week vegan.  What I learnt is that rather than trying to replace animal protein with something else, I just had to think our meal totally differently.  Ok, not exactly a revelation, I’ve been practicing for a while with Meat Free Monday.  However going vegan means no egg, no milk, no honey… and NO MILK in my coffee does NOT happen so it made me thinking a bit further.  Is cow milk really really bad compared to almond milk?

I read this article from the New Yorker (I love the New Yorker!)  ‘… the battle between Team Almond Milk and Team Cow Milk is surely the wrong fight. It’s monomania borne of monoculture. Our faith in the power of one ingredient—pomegranates, kale, Greek yogurt, acai—to save us, heal us, give us eternal life, perfectly mirrors our post-war cropping style: single-minded devotion to the One, and pure hatred for the Other.’

Now I can go on a long argument how human beings are the problem in general, how we are so very dam blind that we don’t do anything about anything that is bad for us...  But I suspect that you don’t come and visit my blog for this kind of talk.

Just another thought: ‘Some will argue that the measurement of gallons per pound isn't fair -- we should consider water consumed per gram of protein. In this case, pulses (including beans, lentils, peas, etc.) win out at 5 gallons per gram of protein, followed by eggs at 7.7 gal./gram, milk at 8.2 gal./gram, and chicken at 9 gal./gram. The numbers only go up from there, with beef topping the scale, requiring 29.6 gallons of water per gram of protein.’  This comes from this article from the Huffington post.

So now that Victor is back home, we are getting back to a vegetarian-flexitarian diet, trying our best to be mindful while choosing what to eat, beef hasn’t been a big part of our diet for a long time anyway.

And it is going to be party time, because I received Jamie’s latest book !

IMG_8722[1]

Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Girl Power - raising activists

I don’t know how this happened! Actually, let me rephrase this, I think I know how this happened and still I’m surprised and impressed: it looks like we have been raising activist kids, kids with convictions and values…
Introducing Juliette – my little one, my shy one, ‘ma douce’ (my sweet one, as Victor used to call her when she was a baby)… the one who took the stand in front of her pairs during a whole school assembly because she felt the urgency to share her thoughts about last year terrorist attacks in France… And my baby has some strong convictions when it comes to feminism.  So she asked me to make her a special T-shirt for her school Home-Coming week – the theme: Heroes vs. Villains.
Girl power Ts
The concept was: a T-shirt with the feminist symbol (the fist in the feminine circle) surrounded by flowers, a bandana around her hair like the We-can-do-it girl from the war time poster, paired with her shortest skirt because no girl should be expel from school for what she wears!
Girl power Ts1
That’s my girl!
Crafty-wise, I had fun appliquéd the symbol and the fussy-cut flowers on her T-shirt.  I really hope she’ll wear it again.
Next time, I’ll tell you all about my vegan boy.

Wednesday, 14 October 2015

It almost felt like Fall

Yesterday evening, I rushed out with my camera – the sky and sun were in such a beautiful harmony, making everything around look so warm and fall-like.

It feels like Fall1

I love this tree by our house – mature green foliage with yellow flowers and pink new generation leafs.

It feels like Fall

Also, I spotted this extremely rare bird known as #sheisamadecookie ;)It feels like Fall2

Saturday, 10 October 2015

#HRminiswap

Have you seen all the miniswap frenzy on Instagram?  Doesn’t it look fun?  All those creative people sharing, swapping their super cute minis.  I have been tempted many times…  So I finally registered to HRminiswap, received my invitation, posted my inspiration collage and then start reading the swap requirements and rules.  Oops! It’s when I realised that HR stand for Heather Ross… and that I did not have any of her fabric… and that my partner liked the Tiger Lily line which was not due to be released until August.  I ordered some Tiger Lily and some reprints of the Far Far Away collection, and a bits and pieces.
Heather Ross swap
I worked on a few ideas – paper, pencil, ruler and colouring pens.  That was such a long time since I did something like this.  Above are the 2 designs I loved most.  I was really tempted to go with the version on the bottom right.  However, there are so many fun little characters in Heather Ross’ fabric that it would have been a shame not to fussy cut them, so I decided on the other design where the pieces are bigger and more fitting for this kind project.
Heather Ross swap1
Heather Ross swap2   Being a cat lady, and my partner said she liked the ballerina, the choice of what to fussy cut was obvious!
Heather Ross swap3
And tada! Here it is.  I liked it, loved it, and had to let it go… with a few goodies.
Heather Ross swap4
All of this was, in the end, a lot of fun, no stress and of course, the best part is receiving a mini for myself!
Look at those pretty little princesses!  Among the ‘extras’, there was this unique panel by June Herold from Quilt-ish of Cap Cod, Aurofil, Scissors pouch and needles case, and more HR fabric.  So a big THANK YOU to my partner, Jean!
Heather Ross swap5

Thursday, 1 October 2015

Addie, Aimee, Alice and 3 others

Do I really need a new projects considering the number of tops that need quilting?  The answer is NO.
Do I need a fiddly paper piecing project with tiny winy little pieces? The answer is NO.
Do I need a project that will go on for months and maybe years? The answer is NO.

So it does make sense that I have joined The Farmers Wife 1930s Quilt along, doesn’t it?

FW1930sQAL 2It is week 3 of the QAL, and so far I have managed to keep on top of this.  Two blocks a week does not seem that big an achievement! You are mistaken.  The paper piecing prep, the fabric choice, the sewing and… the removal of the paper which takes F O R E V E R… I need to find a faster, less time consuming way of doing this.  And it needs to be an economical way because I don’t feel buy more specialised paper yet.

Orlando High Nothing very original in my choice of fabrics, I’m using 1930s repro and solids.  It is what attracted me to this quilt in the first place.

Now let me introduce you to my first 6 blocks.

FW1930SQALTop row: Addie, Aimee, Alice
Bottom row: Ann, Anne, April

FW1930SQAL1 

Initially I bought the book in order to follow the QAL, for the patterns and the instructions.  But there’s more to it. The first part of the book is a collection of letters from ‘Farm women’.  They were written between 1930 and 1939, during the recession.  The tone of the letters is quite cheerful, the idea was to boost moral. Reading between the lines, you get an idea of the life of these women in farms at the time, and recession or not, it was surely a hard time.

All of this made me think of my grandparents from my mother’s side.  Both of them were born and raised in a farm.  My grandmother always says that hers was more modern and advanced.  I can believe that: my great-grand mother ran the farm on her own, managing the day-workers.  Ma grand-mother is the 7th of 10 kids, she went to school until she was 12 at a time where farm kids would be pulled out of the class room much earlier to help (which happened to my grandfather who went to school only when he was not needed at the farm).  My grand-parents got married during the war, worked for a landlord.  My grand-mother realised that it was too difficult and that she wanted a different life for her family.  So they moved to the city where she opened a grocery shop whist my grandfather worked in a factory.  She always said that her life was better than the life of her sisters who stay in the farm.

Paper piecing1Top row
My grandmother with her siblings (sometimes in the 70s)
My great-grandmother (who I knew), my great-grandfather (who I never met, and who, according to the family legend, has been ‘kicked-out’ of the farm) and their 10 kids (my grandmother is the last one on the top row).

Bottom row
My grandparents on their wedding day during the war (1942)
My grandparents, my uncle and my mother (any opinion on those very short shorts?)
4 generations of women: my grandmother on the right (she used to have her dresses made once she moved to town), my great-grandmother, my mother and the cutie one is me.

I realise that I should speak to my grandmother and understand her life better.  In comparison, I find the letter of Mrs H.S.L., from Washington (page 82) very interesting.  I’d love to know what this lady’s life was in town to make her said that once she move to the countryside, she was ‘Happier than ever before’

…When I left town I traded my electric washer for two cows.  I have no modern conveniences, yet, as I had in town; still I am happier than I ever have been before….

I think my grandmother felt the exact opposite.

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

This and that

I challenged myself to blog at least once a week, but that’s easily said than done.  What do you blog about when you have

  • unfinished projects you can’t show
  • finished garment that you are forbidden to share
  • secret project that can’t be shown yet
  • easy and not so easy knitting projects that I am making last because I love knitting them so much

I can entertain you with my day-to-day live like

  • finally tackling the laundry pile,
  • sharing sunset on the way to school
  • cleaning my sewing room once again
  • trying to accomplish something with this needy cat attached to me
  • looking at (not that) old selfies
  • enduring water damage that requires heavy noisy equipment in my corridor and bathroom000 Temp8 And there’s my ever-growing ToDo list, and my WantToDo list, and my HandMadeXmasToDo list…  How do you get organised? I am working very hard and try to stick to ‘one project at a time’ but there’s so much inspiration out there… How good are you at finishing one project before starting the next one?

Friday, 18 September 2015

My WF15 Knitting list

My life as a knitter is becoming more and more difficult… OK, I’m joking, nothing in my life as a knitter is life threatening.  I need to make a decision: what to knit next (once I’m done with my two current projects).

Brooklyn Tweed Fall 2015 collection is out since Wednesday and my fingers are itching.  As usual, I’m in love with the feel of the collection.  It is not only the projects, but the whole atmosphere of the look book, very earthy, very calming.

000 Temp7Here are some of my preferred projects: Fletching (top left), Cascades (bottom left), Trailhead (middle), Willamette (top right), Sauvie (bottom right)

And if only Brooklyn Tweed was the sole collections I have under my radar…  I’ve recently discover two new (to me) designers that appeal to my taste.  Shibui Knit, base in Portland, their Collection FW15 has a very Japanese feel (and it has nothing to do with the model), very clean, very simple.  My second find it Amirisu, from Japan.  Again, what attracts me to this collection is the simplicity, the no-fuss-no-pretention style.

000 Temp6 Some of my favourites: Equation (top left), Void (bottom left), Trace (centre), Inscribe (last of the right).

Now, you will have to excuse me, I need to flex my fingers’ muscles, organise my knitting needles and decide which project to put at the top of my list.