Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Christmas Club 2009

Last Sunday was the first day of my online quiling group's Christmas Club. What is the Christmas Club? Well I was never very good at traditional Christmas Clubs. I always thought it was a great idea. Put a little money aside each week and around November, you get a check so that you can do all your Christmas shopping. I always started out well but my resolve fell off pretty quickly.

I'm hoping this Christmas Club doesn't go the same way. I am notorious as I'm sure everyone is that I always want the completed "holiday" or seasonal project to use to decorate about the time the holiday or season has arrived. But of course those projects are either not finished or in many cases, not even started. So currently the UFO box contains some Valentine's Day placemats and table runner, an autumn block exchange (just blocks), a patriotic block exchange that would be perfect for July (also still just blocks). Well anyway, you get the point.

So when someone suggested that on the 25th of EACH month of 2009, we work on a Christmas project (or Hannakah or whatever holiday floats your boat), I was all for it. This project can be a gift that will be given for Christmas or a project for personal use or decoration. So what to work on???

Then I remembered. When I was a brand new quilter...I don't think I owned a rotary cutter at the time and I clearly had not mastered the 1/4 inch seam....I started a Christmas Tree wallhanging. I found the project in a 2002 issue of Quiltmaker. It was listed as "easy" so I thought why not. Well if it had been listed as hard, I probably would have tackled it anyway. That type of friendly advice never stopped me before. I must say that now that I have some experience, I think "easy" was not the correct assessment.

Anyway, I'm not much for cutesy country things and this project is clearly that. I do, however, live in a 1903 Queen Anne Victorian house and one of the typical Christmas decorations of that era is a feather tree. A feather tree is one of the first versions of an artificial tree. It's branches are made of feathers died green and it is attached to a pole. We do own one and the idea of decorating it properly includes lining up as many ornaments on each branch as possible. So thist this pattern inspired me to make my own version of a quilted feather tree. I picked more elegant fabrics and I will be using pearl and rhinestone buttons on the branches and velvet ornaments.

When I pulled this project out of the big UFO box in anticipation of Christmas Club day, I realized that all the pieces were already cut out and it was 3/4 put together. The first thing I did was attack it with an iron. This was when I discovered it was a bit wonky, mostly as a result of very poor seam allowances. The surprising thing was I really still like the pattern and my ideas for the finished project. So on my first Christmas Club day, I finished putting it together. I will now put it away until February 25th.
This is a good thing because I REALLY need to get the t-shirt quilt finished that I mentioned in an earlier post. So I'm using this tree project as an reward for getting the other quilt finished.
You will notice that there is something missing at the top of the tree. That is the place for an appliqued star. I need to find the right fabric to use for that. I haven't gone through the stash yet so I'm sure I've got something that will work. As for quilting, I'm thinking about using some sort of shimmery or metallic thread even though I hate working with it. I do think it would look good though...
So one month down, ten more to go. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that I make more than one deposit in this Christmas Club! And if I do, I'll be hanging this Christmas Tree wallhanging in time for Christmas 2009.

Happy quilting!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Ongoing Projects and How 20 Minutes a Day is Working

So it's been more than two weeks since I announced that my goal was to knit or quilt for at least twenty minutes every day. How's that going you may ask since I don't post often enough for anyone to really know.

Let's just put it this way. If you took the total amount of time that I've spent knitting and quilting and divided it by the 19 (today is the 19th), I think my average would actually be a bit better than 20 minutes. The every day thing...not so much.

I am working on a variety of projects so I thought I would share. I've never been good at doing only one thing and so there are always a variety of WIPs (works in progress) in my "to do" basket, well baskets actually.

The first thing is a very easy comfort shawl. I've done a few of these over the last two years and donate them to the local Visiting Nurses' Association to give out to their clients. It was a project started by my mother's best friend, Mary Garrett. She started the project, called Debbie's Shawls, as a memorial to her neice who lost her battle with cancer. Sadly, Mary lost her own battle with cancer this past July. So I'm continuing this project for her. I always keep one on the needles and it is very easy to do. You can pick it up anywhere, anytime and before you know it, it's finished.

The other project may have been a bit ill-conceived. I had this unquenchable urge to do a project using Noro Silk Garden yarn that EVERYONE was using. The Yarn Harlot devoted quite a bit of time to producing several of these scarves using two different colors of the yarn and doing two row stripes. My local yarn store did not have two colors that I really wanted so I just bought one color and mixed it with another yarn I already had. Unfortunately the variations in color in this particular yarn are not terribly interesting to me. But I soldier on and I will complete this for myself. I made it skinny and want to make it long for a nice serviceable scarf. I should have enough to make a matching hat. I hope it looks better when its been blocked! I don't hate the project; I just don't love it.

In the quilting department, I'm working on a t-shirt quilt for the daughter of a friend. I made a t-shirt quilt several years ago for my daughter and to make a long story short, it was a hit. I didn't particularly enjoy working on it but the finished result was kind of fun. My daughter picked the sashing and the backing and although it was a bit funky, she still uses it almost five years later.
The current quilt is ready to peice together. The t-shirst have been backed and cut and the arrangement has been approved. As you can see in the picture, Miss Scarlett, my loyal beagle assistant is also carefully checking the layout.

Because of all the colors of the shirts, the sashing will be an amish black and the backing will be flannel. The quilt will be tied with the knots on the back. I think it will go together pretty quickly and then I can move on to something a bit more creative.

So these are the things that are occupying my time these days. Too bad I have to actually work for a living or I'd be finishing projects right and left!

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Still Knitting and Quilting

Well, it's not quite been a whole year since I've been here. I thought often of posting. I only felt guilty about not posting once in a while.

I'm not going to make any grand resolutions about posting more often or even regularly but today seemed like a good day to come back and we'll take it from there.

Two knitting and quilting goals for 2009:

1. Spend at least 20 minutes every day knitting or quilting. There is a very important clarification about all this. This time around (tried this in 2008), I must ACTUALLY quilt or knit each day. Thinking about it, reading a magazine or a blog or even playing with my stash does NOT count. So far, so good. Well technically, I still need to do today's 20 minutes. I did pull out a UFO earlier today to look at it for my second goal but I don't think that counts.

2. Spend the 25th day of each month working on a Christmas project. This is actually the idea of some great gals in my online quilting group. I am guilty of always seeing cute things I want to make for Christmas and thinking (in July, of course) that its too early to think about that. The next time I think about it is when I'm decorating for Christmas. First I fleetingly think, I'll work on something quickly and get it done for Christmas. And then I get a grip and realize there is TOO MUCH TO DO without trying to fit that in.

So this year, on the 25th of each month, I will continue to work on a Christmas Tree wallhanging that I started more years ago than I can count. I need to reinstall my scanner and when I do, I will post a picture of the project.

So there you have it, my first (and hopefully not my last) post of 2009. I know that no one currently actually reads my blog except for a few friends who I coerce into looking at it. But that could change at any moment. OK, not exactly holding my breath here.

Happy Quilting and Knitting!