Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Wednesday Weigh-In - Workouts

I'm getting back to my workout routine after a long hiatus while I nursed a nasty cold and lingering cough.  I am focusing on increasing the intensity of my workouts.  I don't see how I can possibly devote any more time; I usually get to the gym 4 or 5 times a week and workout for about an hour and 20 minutes each session.  So I am trying to ramp up the intensity to increase the calorie burn off rate.  I've increased the incline on the treadmill for my walking workout, and lengthened the amount of  time I spend at the most intense speed/incline combo while spending a shorter time in the middle speed before I begin the cooldown.  So far, so good.  Although it didn't appear to make an impact on this week's weight loss stats!

The stats:

weight lost this week: 0.4 pounds
weight lost YTD: 1.6 pounds

Monday, March 29, 2010

Pillowcases - Finished

I've been participating in On The Edge Pillowcase Crochet Along.  Cassie of You Go Girl organized this and put the instructions on her blog.  I finished mine on Sunday.

They are actually pretty easy. The hardest part, well, really the most frustrating part, was the blanket stitch that forms the foundation for the crocheted edge.  You have to use such a long piece of yarn in the needle that it becomes twisted and tangled very easily, so this step does require some patience.  Cassie advises having some chocolate on hand as a coping mechanism.

I think that another time, I might weave 1/4" ribbon in the spaces between the blanket stitches.  I'd also like to see how it turns out made with much finer yarn or crochet thread.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

How Do You Display Your Quilts?

I listened to Jackie's December 2009 podcast while treadmilling this morning.  It was about how she uses and displays her quilts in her home.  It reminded me that 1)  I have been looking for a quilt rack to use in our bedroom, and 2)  I need some new and different ways to use my quilts in our home.

So, I'm sharing some of the ways I use and display my quilts in the hopes that some of you will do the same and give me some fresh, new ideas!

Of course, I have quilts on all of our beds.  (This picture was taken at Christmas time.)  Every bed in the house has at least three quilts and I use them in rotation.  And sometimes, a second quilt gets folded at the foot of the bed.

This quilt display rack is on a wall in my kitchen.  I use it for wall hangings that I rotate seasonally.  The Valentine quilt just came down and Aquarium went up.

I keep a quilt on this chair in our family room and have another over a chair in the living room.  I also have a pile of quilts on a shelf in the family room; they are handy on very cold nights when we watch tv.

In our hallway upstairs, I mounted two curtain rods, one above the other, and I have six quilts folded over the curtain rods in an informal display.  A similar idea is to hang a folded quilt over the stair railing.  This is a very nice look when you have section of bannister that is visible from the floor below.

How do you use your quilts?

Thursday, March 25, 2010

New Podcast Found

I found a new quilting podcast to listen to on the elliptical trainer and treadmill.  It is Jackie's Quilting Chronicles, by Jackie of Canton Village Quilt Works

Her most recent podcast is an interview of Karen Griska of Selvage Quilts fame.  It is quite interesting, especially if you have any interest in making something with the selvages from your quilting fabrics.  Karen talked about how she came to make her first selvage quilt.  If you need inspiration, visit Karen's blog,, where she has a new post just about every day with selvage projects of quilters from around the world.

Jackie is a quilting dynamo!  She is a longarm quilter, teaches at a local quilt shop, has a an online fabric shop as well as an etsy shop, makes her own quilts, and does the podcast.  I call that living a quilting life!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Wednesday Weigh-In - Return of the Stats!

The fact that I lost any weight at all this week is something of a weight-loss miracle.  I had a crazy week at work, putting in such long days that I never made it to the gym.  Plus, I had a two-day meeting in New York City.  Though fun and productive, the meeting was not diet-friendly.  Cookies and brownies appeared in our conference room every afternoon and we went out to dinner at a Cuban restaurant.  Must have a mojito!  I had to compensate with major deprivation the rest of the week.

With my new, "tell it like it is" scale, I've reset the stat tracker.

The stats:
weight lost this week: 1.2 pounds
weight lost to date: 1.2 pounds

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Exuberance and Joy!

Laurie of Minick & Simpson had a wonderful post Monday about not worrying about achieving perfection with every quilt because it keeps you from being adventurous.  It struck a chord with me.  I am trying to be more adventurous with my choice of projects. I am considering designs that I would previously have written off as too difficult or requiring too much patience.  I am looking at colors and color combinations that are outside my usual range.  As Laurie said, "Almost every one of them is way less than perfect, all of them make up for it in exuberance and joy."

I have to keep this in mind and let myself adventure a bit further afield.  Yesterday, I bought this magazine.  I bought it totally for the cover quilt.  I've been wanting to tackle a kaleidoscope quilt for some time and that variation on the cover in modern greens and browns "spoke" to me.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

New Start, Near Finish

The past week has been lots of Powerpoint and not much sewing.  I'm so busy with work that I didn't have time to get into my sewing room at all during the work week and only for a short time this weekend. 

I finished the quilting on Old Gold and Blue.  I used gray thread because it worked on both the gold and blue fabrics, and quilted in straight lines using my walking foot.  All the quilting is done and I attached the binding.

I have to finish the binding (the hand sewing part) and attach the label then this one will be off to the auction.

I decided on the fabric to use for the Pillowcase Crochet Along.  I'm using the pale pink floral stripe, with white yarn for the edging.  I've got a pair of pillowcases cut out - only about two weeks behind!

The last few late nights were spent with this book...the second Flavia de Luce mystery.  As entertaining as the first; I highly recommend it.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Wednesday Weigh-In - Recalculating

Our old scale was, as my daughter puts it, a friendly scale. It did not want to hurt our feelings so it shaved off a pound or two (or five) to make us feel better.  Our new scale is stern and precise and tells us like it is.  Here is our new scale:

It tells me my weight, in nice big digits, to the tenth of a pound.  And with the change in scales, I am, as the GPS voice says, "Recalculating!"  Or maybe I should say, "starting over."  So, starting with debut of the new scale, stats are:

Lost this week:  0.0 pounds
Lost to date:  0.0 pounds

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Inspiring Places on the Web

I discovered quilting blogs about two years ago which turned out to be a major milestone on my creative journey as a quilter.  Things I've seen on blogs, websites, Flickr, and etsy have provided much inspiration for my own work.  Here are a few:

Crazy Mom Quilts and Oh, Fransson - Both bloggers use simple blocks but with creative color choices and much use of white or other neutrals to create visually stunning quilts.  While I am not yet ready to go "wonky," I've been using more white and see new beauty in simple shapes and settings.  Crazy Mom stopped blogging this year but her old posts are still "alive" on the web.

Don't Look Now! - This blogging applique maven has a distinct and fresh style that is very appealing.  I love both her use of color and her free motion quilting.  She has a line of patterns that can be purchased in the US at Shabby

Mrs. Schmenkman Quilts - This blogger's use of bright colors, especially Kaffe Fassett prints, has inspired me to break out my usual pastels and period reproduction fabrics.  I've got a couple of quilts that will use Kaffes or similar in my head; just need to get them down on fabric!

Annie's Quilting Stash - I've mentioned Annie's podcasts before (they keep me going on the treadmill at the gym; I only wish she produced more) but she also has a website where she posts pictures of people, quilts, and other items mentioned in her podcasts.  And now some of her podcasts have video.  You can subscribe to the podcasts on iTunes or listen right on her website.  Also, Annie has branched out and now has online quilting classes that replicate classes she offers at quilt shops and guilds.

What has inspired you recently?

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Inspiration Board

I have this inspiration board in my studio.  It is a framed corkboard that I bought from Ballard Designs.  I also have a file of clippings of inspiration so every once in a while, I go through the file and change the contents of the inspiration board, updating it to reflect what I like right now.  A picture can be there for one of many reasons:  I like the colors, the setting, the border treatment, the whole quilt.  Having it near where I sew and quilt also serves as a reminder that I want to incorporate it in some way into a project.

In the upper left is a photo of a quilt appliqued with hollyhocks.  It's been there a while; I love it but my applique skills are not up to the task yet.  But something like that would make a good wallhanging for my kitchen so maybe some day.  The upper right has several pictures of blue and white quilts that are serving as inspiration for my planned turquoise quilt.  I'll be getting to that later this year.  At the bottom is my Schnibbles pattern for Madeline and a post-it note "memo to self" about an alternate color combination for it.  I even have a postcard from Vera Bradley with a ruffled purse that caught my eye.

Do you have an inspiration board?  Or an inspiration file?

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Wednesday Weigh-In - Portion Control

Portion control is one of the areas I am focusing on in my effort to lose weight.  My weight gain is the result of eating more than I need, more than I metabolize - too many sweets, too many snacks, and portions that are generally too large.  I've cut way back on sweets (painful!), drastically reduced the number of between meal snacks I consume (not as difficult as I thought it would be); now I am turning to portion control. 

Breakfast is easy in this respect.  My oatmeal recipe makes four servings, which I portion out in individual covered bowls.  And my cold cereal is easy to measure out in right-size portions.  Lunch isn't too difficult.  I usually have soup and a piece of fruit, a diet-friendly sandwich, or, occasionally, leftovers from a restaurant meal.

Dinner is more difficult.  I grew up in the days of the Clean Plate, raised by parents who themselves were raised by Depression survivors and immigrants who found the good life when they came to the USA.  Leaving food on my plate goes against my lifetime training.  I started by doing it deliberately, leaving a bite or two here and there.  After a few weeks, it is not so difficult.  Restaurant meals are very often way more than a standard single portion.  We go out to eat about once a week; while it doesn't seem like much, 500 extra calories here and 500 there and before you know it, you've packed on some pounds.  So my new trick is to eyeball the plate and draw an imagery line that divides what I will eat from what I will take home in a doggie bag.  Each time I do this, it becomes easier.  Hopefully, it will have the desired impact!

No stats this week.  My scale broke and the new has not been delivered yet.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Progress on Old Gold and Blue

I started the quilting on Old Gold and Blue.  This the largest quilt I have ever quilted by machine and the sheer size (about 60" by 75") is giving me some trouble.  There is just so much on every side of the needle:  left, right, front, back, makes maneuvering difficult, especially the bulk under the arm of the sewing machine. 

Any tips for dealing with this?

I am so busy this week with work that I probably won't finish this until the weekend.  Hope to be back with a finished quilt soon.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Pillowcase Crochet Along

You might have noticed from the button on my sidebar that I am participating in On The Edge Pillowcase Crochet Along.  It arose out of my obsession interest in making pillowcases or pillow shams to coordinate with the quilts I've made for our beds.  Examples of the pillowcases can be seen here while information on the project itself is at the blog You Go Girl.

So, our first assignment is to gather the materials - fabric, yarn, and a crochet hook.  I wanted to use the fabric from my stash that matches various quilts.

My first thought was to use this fabric left from a quilt I made for my mom.  Matching pillowcases would make a good Mother's Day gift.  Though the fabric is greener than it looks in the photo, it is not as bright as the yarn.  Not a good match.

This fabric is left over from a quilt I made for out guest room.  Still, the yarn seems a little bright. 

You can hardly go wrong with white and this pale pink ticking stripe will go well in our bedroom.  Though it does not match any quilt, it will coordinate with a few of them.  So I think this is what I will use for my first effort.  I'll try to find yarn that better matches the other fabrics for a later project.

Wish me well!  I haven't crocheted in over 20 years; I'm hoping it comes back, like riding a bicycle!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

The Quilt Fest of New Jersey VI

I learned a new quilting term today - SABLE.  It means Stash Accumulated Beyond Life Expectancy.  Good one, huh!  I think I'm there!

I learned it from one of the vendors at The Quilt Fest of New Jersey VI, which is at the Garden State Exhibit Center in Somerset through Sunday.  I made a quick visit today, quick because I had to fit it in between various work obligations.  Quick was ok because I was not particularly impressed with the quilts on exhibit this year (the vendors were another matter but I'll get to that later).  The main exhibit at this show is a collection of quilts that were the winners at the Mid-Atlantic Quilt Festival, held in February in VA.    While I could admire the workmanship, none of the quilts fell into the "I wish I made that" category for me.  And the other exhibits were a little bit on the arty side for me.

This is a yo-yo quilt.  It was bed size.  Here's a close-up.

I don't have any desire to make a quilt out of yo-yos but I would like to try a pillow.  Another project on my quilting bucket list.

While there were not a lot of vendors as shows go, the ones who were there had what I was looking for.  I actually purchased everything on my shopping list.

I found some orange wool and black wool, and some black buttons; all items I need for the snowman quilt using the pattern I won from Thelma.

I found some more Kaffe Fassett prints that coordinate with the others I have, for the quilt I plan to make "someday."

I want to make one the projects in Stellar Quilts and need more light 30's reproduction prints.  I found these fat quarters that I think will do nicely.

I found this special ruler that was on my shopping list.  Only now I can't remember why it was on my list or which project I need it for!  Oh well, it will come to me eventually.  I'll chalk it up to a blond moment, not old age!  And this little book by Billie Lauder.  I had not seen these before but she has a series of them.  Full of tips and instructions, not actual quilts to make. 

This was my major purchase.  The pattern for the Bow Go Bag, along with the fabric and leather handles.  I saw the jelly roll of batilks, loved the colors (called Ocean Mist) but couldn't think of anything in particular to make with it so put it back (and felt virtuous!).  Then a vendor I came across later had samples made up of the bag along with the pattern.  It is made by putting the fabric over cotton clothesline then sewing it together (similar to the It's A Wrap baskets).  So I bought the pattern then went back to find the vendor with the Ocean Mist jelly roll (only one left when I got there, oh my!), selected the batik yardage for the bag lining and bow, then tracked back to find the vendor with the pre-made leather purse handles.  That vendor is called Quilt Plus and they sell online as well as at shows.  They have a variety leather handles as well as purse handles made of wood, plastic, and metal, and they have the metal purse frames. 

So, I have quite a few projects to keep me busy.  SABLE, definitely SABLE.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Wednesday Weigh-In - The GOOD and the BAD

The Good - We went to a party at some friends' house on Saturday evening and I wore a pair of my formerly too tight pants.  Except now they are not too tight!  That was a sign that I've made progress and was very gratifying.

The Bad - I've had a cold for 17 days.  It is much better now than it was a week ago but I still cough like a person near death after any exercise.  So I haven't been to the gym in all that time.  I'm fearful the pounds are piling on but I can't tell because...

More Bad - our digital scale seems to be broken.  When I get on it (or anyone else gets on it for that matter), the numbers flash seemingly at random, then after a long time it finally settles on a number, again at random, and readouts are not consistent between one weighing and the next a few minutes later.  Much as I would like to weigh 116 pounds, I'm not fooled into believing I really do!  So, I will be shopping for a new scale.  In the meantime, I'll repeat the last set of stats.

The stats:

weight lost this week: ?
weight lost YTD: 8.0 pounds