Nearly a new year

/ Tuesday, 27 December 2011 /
I am enjoying the time between semesters, having my daughter at home, and just doing a lot of not much. Unfortunately, I have a pile of marking that I have made very little progress on, and with every passing hour that monkey on my back gets bigger and bigger. (It started off as a spider monkey when term had just ended, but if I don't get cracking soon that pile of marking is going to become a full-blown gorilla!)  But here's what I really want to show you!
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I have managed to get a bit of sewing done, and I want to show you my latest project because it's something I'm very proud of.  This block is called Chinese Gongs.  I found a drawing of it on the internet here, where it appears gridded but with no other dimensions or instructions.  So this was my first attempt at drafting a quilting block that had any degree of difficulty at all.  And to be truthful, it wasn't very difficult at all - the hardest part was finding a compass that would expand beyond six inches.  I think it's a stunning block - I think it would make a spectacular two-colour quilt.
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The block is 14" square, and the finished quilt will be a 5 x 5 layout, finishing at 70" x 70".  I cut a set of templates that allowed me to mark the curves on the fabric.  Directional fabric means that you can't really get more than one block per FQ and there is a fair amount of waste as a result.  (I should say scrap rather than waste.)  One option is to draft it down a bit smaller so that one could get two blocks per FQ, but that would make for awkward size measurements.  The current block is based on a 14 x 14 one-inch grid.  It is the most tedious thing in the world to trace the templates and cut out each one - six per block - so I am cutting and piecing five blocks per sitting.
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For this one I am proud to say that I have shopped entirely from stash.  I am using the FQ set of Heather Ross' Far Far Away III that I bought way back when, and I had a four-yard length of this Kona cotton brown that I wanted to use up.  This is not my typical colour scheme, but I think the brown goes nicely with all the prints in the set, and it provides the contrast to make this block work.  Alas, the weather is making these blocks look pretty pale and washed out.  They aren't nearly so insipid in real life!
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I have also made, over the past six weeks or so, a fleet of little zipper bags.  I bought Oh Fransson's pattern for zipper pouches and just went to town on them.  Her instructions are very clear and thorough, a pleasure to use.  I gave some of them away to my TAs at the end of the term and a couple to my daughter, one to my secretary, etc.  Somehow they found homes before I got my camera out.  But I did manage to snap a photo of these two. I made them out of Amy Butler laminated cotton.  It was my first time using this material and I was a bit apprehensive but everything went fine.  I employed Pink Chalk's tip about using a glue stick to hold the zipper instead of pins or (my usual) basting, since these methods will put holes in the fabric.  I found some cute zipper pulls at Michaels.
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As the year draws to a close, I'm been thinking about my personal quilting goals for next year.  I've been reading posts about similar topics, and I find a lot of inspiration in the goals that people set for themselves.  That will be a topic for my next post!  Signing off for now - I hope you are all still enjoying some relaxation and family time, like I am!

Happy Chanukah!

/ Tuesday, 20 December 2011 /
Tonight is the first night of Chanukah (don't get confused by this photo which was taken last year on the fourth night)! Wishing the few Jewish quilters out there Chag Sameach!  Enjoy your latkes and sour cream (down with applesauce)!
Lights

SMS Giveaway Winner Announced

/ Saturday, 17 December 2011 /
Wow - this past week was a crazy week on the old blog - many, many visitors and commenters! I had a blast reading the comments and also checking out the many participating blogs.  I found a boatload of new blogs to follow, and I'm very, very happy indeed to welcome the new followers to my blog.  I hope you will enjoy visiting me here!

The winner of the four fat quarters of Parisville is Deanna, who said:
Frankly, something deep inside me rebels at giving a prize to an avowed dog-despiser, but I will just believe that Deanna hasn't yet met the bundle of furry joy that turns her heart to mush.  Deanna, I'll be emailing you shortly and asking for your details!
Currently, I'm just as happy as can be that my daughter is home from university.  I never thought I'd say how great it is to see all her make-myself-beautiful crap strewn all over the bathroom counter.  I'm looking forward to some wonderful time hanging out with her and doing nothing much.  I sure did miss her this term!
Finally, no blog post is complete without a quilt-related photo, so here is mine; it's the new hand-sewing project I've started.
New hand-piecing project

SMS Giveaway Day: Parisville

/ Sunday, 11 December 2011 /
Thank goodness Sew Mama Sew changed their participation policy so that you didn't have to sign up in advance - otherwise I would not have been able to play along!  
Yes, today is Sew Mama Sew giveaway day!








The swag I am offering is below: four fat quarters of Tula Pink's Parisville.  And bonus: since I bought these at a Canadian LQS, they are meter FQs instead of yard FQs, which means you get an extra inch and a half (and what girl doesn't want an extra inch and half?)!!
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HOW TO ENTER:  The last time I had a giveaway, we played the Person Below Me game in the comment thread and it was great fun, so we'll do it again.  Here's how it works: I'm going to leave the first comment with a statement that begins "The Person Below Me ......" , and the second commenter will answer True or False to my statement, and then leave their own "The Person Below Me" statement.  The third commenter  will answer True or False and then leave their PBM statement.  Get it?  Pretty simple and lots of fun.  EDITED TO ADD:  There have been so many comments that we have moved on to the second comment page - please click "Newest" down at the bottom of the comment thread to take you to the most recent comment.  Otherwise everyone will be replying to the dog person comment.  And believe me, that gets hilarious but non-sequiturish.  Example: "The PBM loves Real Housewives." "False. I can't stand the hair, slobber or smell."

THE SMALL PRINT:
1. Only one chance per person.
2. No need to follow me or do any other social networking.
3. I will mail internationally (P.S. Super duper thanks to all Americans who agree to post internationally - you will notice that all bloggers from other countries are posting internationally, and it is more expensive for us to mail abroad, just like it is for you.)
4. Comments that don't follow the format described above (e.g., merely say "thanks, pick me") will be removed - not because I am a cranky, power-mad witch but because the entry system is interactive and depends on everyone following the rules.
5.  Comments will close at 5pm PST on Friday, December 16 and the winner will be notified by email.
6.  If you are a no-reply blogger, please make sure that you have your email listed in the body of the comment. (I don't really understand these things, but someone told me that Wordpress bloggers can often appear as no-reply to Blogger even if your settings are appropriately turned on.) 
Don't forget to go to Sew Mama Sew to find the list of all the other participating blogs.  Have fun and good luck!

Overworked

/ /
I have been seriously dilatory with blog posting lately.  In my defense, however, I had the heaviest teaching load ever this past term, and this left little time for meaningful sewing.  I have managed to get a few things done, however.
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This weekend, I finished up a simple little quilt top that is going to be finished up for my daughter's new BFF at university, Samantha.
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Sam saw the quilt that I made for my daughter and flipped over it.  Eve says Sam is always petting it when she comes into Eve's room.  I had started this project when I wanted some quick, mindless chain piecing, and it seemed perfect for a young woman's residence room.  So Sam will be getting this when it's finished up.
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If I'm lucky, I can finish it over the holiday and Eve can take it back with her when she goes back to Montreal in January.
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Being so busy at work, I was often pooped when I got home, and wanted nothing more than to watch some mindless television and do some hand work.  As a result, I'm happy to report that I finished up the quilt top for this hand-piecing project.
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It's made using the English paper-piecing approach (although I used the plastic Quilt Patis templates).  I started it in August 2010.
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I thought about putting a border on this, but I'm not sure about it.  I'm thinking I should just stick a binding on it.  What do you think?
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I sure do love the photos of quilt tops taken from the "wrong" side.  To borrow from popular song canon, how can it be wrong when it seems so right?
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