Monday, December 29, 2014

Last Finish of 2014: Grey Basketweave

Final Stats
Name: Grey Basketweave
Dimensions: TBD
Pieces: Front - TBD
Pattern: Basketweave, elephant and birds inspired by a picture on Etsy
Technique: Patchwork and Rough Edge Applique
Materials: 100% Quilting Cottons
Quilting: Machine quilting done on my little Euro-Pro
So this quilt started like most of my baby quilts, by me subtly (or in this case not so subtly) requesting information about the nursery and sex of the baby from my younger sister. She told me they were doing grey and white sheets, with jungle animals, and that for a boy they would add accents of navy and for a girl fuchsia. Like me, she doesn't care much for the "normal" baby shades of light blue and pink. She also sent me a picture of the rug she had purchased for the nursery, but said that might not be the final rug. I drafted some ideas in EQ7, sent them to her, and waited to hear back about the rug. Once she confirmed that she was keeping it, because nothing better had come along, I started cutting the grey and white pieces and sewing together the blocks. Then, once she told me the sex, I added in the two "ribbons" of navy. Usually I keep things a secret, but in this case, I sent her pictures of everything from my fabric choices to the steps along the way, which was a bit like working with a committee. In this case, one whose opinion I actually valued. Also everything she commented on coincided with thoughts I'd had myself, so it was nice to have things confirmed.
Once the top was done and the edge pieces trimmed down, I used the trimmed edges on the back to disguise the seam between the two halves of the flannel elephant fabric I had bought for the back. It turned out so neat that I may need to try that pattern for a larger front at some point. After basting the quilt, I used a largeish pebble design to free motion quilt in the grey and navy areas. I was originally going to do a design in the white areas as well, but my fabric got all puckered in the first test square and I ended up ripping out all of the stuff in the white area, which took way, way longer than the original quilting had done. I think it took about 15 minutes to quilt and 4-5 hours to rip. I was not a happy camper, at all. The pebble quilting, however, went quite well. At first, I just traveled along the seams from one square to another, but after a while, my OCD kicked back in and I stopped and started each square and buried the threads afterwards.
Once the quilting was done, I added the applique on top of the quilting. My sister and I had agreed that the quilt looked a little "sad" with the navy, grey, and white. So she suggested adding some lighter greens and blues, and approved my color choices for the animals. I added in some darker pops for the ear and wings. I tried to free-motion around the outside, but the iron-on stuff I used was too thick and my machine kept dropping most of the stitches. So I switched back to my walking foot and used that to tack down my applique pieces. I went around the bodies twice and added touches like feet, beaks, and tails on the way. I only went once around the ear and wings, because those seemed a little less important. The only thing I didn't add was eyes, because I couldn't stomach the thought of twisting the quilt in a tiny 360 degree circle three times.

For the binding, I grabbed my pile of 2.5" strips of grey and tried to do light/dark, light/dark. I machine sewed it to the front and then hand sewed the binding in the car on the way to Kentucky and while we were in Kentucky on the way to Mammoth Caves. I ended up hand embroidering the eyes after I embroidered my initials and the year into the bottom right corner, once the hand binding was complete. I even managed to convince my 36 week pregnant sister and my hubby to help me get some pictures on the way out of the Mammoth Caves National Park. Although it's a little dreary, because December, I'm rather happy with how it turned out. I even got context shots in the nursery when we got back to my sister's place, something I almost never have, even though my quilts are almost always meant to go in a specific setting. So this time I could actually see my grey and white background against the grey and white sheets in the crib, the matching elephant on the mobile to my applique elephant, and the basketweave pattern next to the brick pattern of the sage green rug. I have to say, I'm quite happy about this finish.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Stuff and Things

So life has been interesting lately. We spent Thanksgiving with our family in Michigan last week. Our trip there was alright, except we had snow from Washington, DC all the way through the mountains of Pennsylvania. We passed a car in a ditch and a jack-knifed semi truck on our side of the road which caused a traffic backup. We made it to Michigan shortly before midnight on Wednesday and looked in on my parents and then proceeded to the in-laws to sleep. The next morning, we headed out to my sister-in-law's for Thanksgiving Day, which was filled with amazing food and even better company. Friday we spent with my family, Saturday we went to my husband's cousin's wedding and spent some time with friends, and Sunday we drove back home. We made really good time until we hit a parking lot type traffic jam in the mountains of Pennsylvania due to an earlier accident and another one on I-270 in Maryland about an hour outside of Washington, DC because some idiot decided that the Sunday after Thanksgiving would be a great time to close down a whole lane on a two-lane highway.

On Cyber Monday, I looked for new computers online and was looking at various pre-built models, when my husband finally spilled that he had used his motorcycle fund to buy me a new computer. My brother-in-law had already ordered the parts and they would be arriving within the next several days. Everything but the monitor had arrived by Tuesday, so yesterday my hubby and I put the hardware together. He then spent most of today dealing with the software, installing all the drivers, and the games we play together (i.e. Guild Wars 2 and Civ 5), because... (his) priorities. When I got home, I also installed EQ7 and moved all of my files for it over from our external hard drive. Tested it out, and they all load perfectly. Because... (my) priorities. I did play a bit of Guild Wars 2 with him, to see how good the graphics and speed are (they are both phenomenal).

The last two days at work have been both great and horrible. Horrible because as a night owl, I usually get to work around 9:30 (which is the latest we're allowed to get to work in the morning). The last two days I had to get there by 8:30 because we've had an all-staff strategy meeting. Now, if you think that's not a big deal, getting up an hour earlier than usual sucks big time! People keep laughing at me about how much I'm going to hate having a little baby, who will wake me up at all hours, but I'll cross that bridge when I get there. Until then I want to sleep as long as possible in the mornings, thank you very much.

They have also been good, because I think the strategy meeting was quite productive and at times downright fun. I also got to see a lot of people from our partnership offices, that I've either never met in person, or whom I do know and haven't seen in a while. We also had our Christmas party today, which was fun as always, even though I couldn't drink this year. While I'm not above drinking a glass of wine or a hard cider occasionally (and slowly enough for my liver to process) even while pregnant, everyone just assumed that I wasn't drinking at all. Oh well, I wouldn't have had more than my usual one anyway. The noise also got to me and so I ended up leaving by 5.

Several of my coworkers are expecting right now, including one of my friends from Portland. So I'm making her a quilt. Her theme is ABCs and her color scheme is grey and white. So I decided on some sort of alphabet quilt with a grey background. I ended up going with Thomas Knauer's braille alphabet quilt, cut all the fabric, and put it up on the design wall. I've even sewn a few of the blocks.