Thursday, April 29, 2010

Just thinking out loud

Hi all, I can't say its been an interesting day at the Country Mouse homestead (I did have a mouseling home sick today). I did get a start on another knitted project. It is another handbag that is a lace pattern. Its not necessarily hard, but I do need to keep my focus or I can get lost. So far so good, though.

Unfortunately, my carpal tunnel started to flare, so I decided to look for a pattern for the baby quilt I want to make. I finally decided on the Old Bones pattern in the book More Quick Rotary Cutter Quilts, then went to my stash and started looking for fabrics I could use. Now for the thinking out loud I was going through everything I started to wonder, "I wonder if I could ever really use up most of my stash?" And honestly, I don't think mine is all that big. I have a three drawer bin with yardage (only 2 actually have fabric in them, the other is templates, tools, and a couple ongoing projects), a shoe box sized box with fat quarters, and 2 decent sized boxes with scraps.  I also have about 5 boxes (shoe box sized again and only about 1/2 full) with pre-cut strips, and 1 with strings and crumbs. As weired as it may sound, I would love to knock that in half or better. I love buying fabric, but I also love using it and I hate seeing it sitting there. I want it to be a quilt, or pillowcase, or handbag, or something!!  And I want to use it all. That's part of why I adore scrap quilts so much. I was wondering how others feel about their stash? Do you feel the way I do? Do you like having the fabric there for inspiration? Do you think its possible for a quilter to really use only from stash and really really reduce it down? It never fails for me that I still have to go to the store and find a fabric or two that I just don't seem to already have, but want to use. I'm sure I can't be the only one that happens to. I have to admit there are a few fabrics that just make my heart sing and I have such a hard time wanting to cut it up, but I know deep down I did buy it to use in a project some day. Maybe I just feel a little overwhelmed when I look at my sewing area and see the clutter, but then again let's be honest, how many people have a clean, neat, and organized sewing area all the time? Not me! Heck, I'm happy if even half my house is organized enough that I can find what I need some days.  Maybe its the fact that I still have a lot of fabric that was purchased before my LCE and I want to get it out of here, or maybe its that my tastes have changed a bit and I want to buy more of what I would like to use now but my space is so limited I don't know where I'm going to squeeze it in. Oh well, despite all of that thought...I know I'll still buy more. Maybe just not at too fast a rate ;cD Come on, I'm a quilter and just can't help myself :cP  Oh, and speaking of buying, even after I went through all I had, I probably will go out a buy just a couple "perfect" fat quarters for this quilt.

Well, thank for letting me ramble a bit. Right now I am strangely achy and sore so I think I'm just gonna take it easy and relax on the couch and watch some T.V.  Hopefully it will pass so I can get out for my walk tomorrow, and get my sewing machine humming. Hope you all have a wonderful day, warmest country wishes!!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Makes me Happy Monday...on Tuesday (or Where have I been?)

Hi all, I know its been a while since I've been around but I have been in a bit of an emotional slump up until about a day ago. I really try to keep my blog upbeat...I figure you all probably have enough drama without hearing about my dealing with ex issues, disappointment with on-line sites and life issues and I thought it just better to keep a little distance until it all blew over for the most part. I have been trying to get out and walk to get some fresh air, and keep myself busy.  So anyway, here I am feeling much happier and ready to spread the cheer, even if it is a day late ;cD

So, despite the "stuff" going on around here I have been trying to keep an eye on what makes me happy, and what is that? Well, right now it is the creative process. I know that no matter how stressful life gets I can pick up a needle, thread and fabric or some yarn and sticks and create something special. I remember when I used to watch my mom knit and think I could never do that. I remember going to shops and seeing beautiful quilts and thinking I would never be able to make one. Now here I am doing both, even if I am concentrating on one more than the other right now, just the feeling of making something is sooo satisfying, and happiness inducing. I have been keeping my hands busy and my mind soothed by knitting for a couple friends the last week and a half. First I made a second cable bag as well as a cute little bag for a friend.
Then I made a bib and baby booties for a co-worker who is expecting her first baby. I plan on making a hat to go with it yet, and maybe I'll try a little sweater. I figure it would give me some garment experience without undertaking something too big.  I'm also pulling fabric for a quilt for her (him). I was going to give her the star quilt, but every time I look at it all I see is the pink and can't help but think "girl".

I also got to check out one of the local yarn stores, and am looking forward to squeezing in some time to check out the one that is less than 10 minutes from me. It is a yarn shop and cafe...sounds PERFECT :cD

I have also been doing much better about getting out and walking. It is another thing that helps me to feel better. I had gotten into the habit of just closing myself off and staying inside when I was feeling down. Totally the wrong thing to do, I KNOW the sunshine (if its out there) and fresh air will help immensely...and it has. As the days are going by and walking is becoming habit I have a faint glimmer of hope that maybe just maybe I'll be able to get myself back into running again :cD  How could anyone not want to get out and see stuff like this?

I've also gotten myself involved over at Ravelry. What a great site!! I would definitely recommend it to anyone who is into knitting or crochet. Lots of projects, inspiration and great people!

Other than that my life feels a bit like the movie Groundhog Day. You know, a bit of a repeat of the day before and the day before that and the day before that and....not necessarily a bad thing, but sometimes a bit boring :cP  Right now I am off to catch up on some blog reading and maybe a little more crafting. Hope you all have a great one. Warmest country wishes!!
Country Mouse

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Well well, would you look at what I found...

my motivation!  I have been knitting and sewing a lot more this last week. I knew it would eventually come back, I'm just glad it wasn't one of those long slumps :cD  I don't feel "normal" if I'm not creating something, you know?  First I want to show you what I did with the fabric I bought during the shop hop.  It went from this...
to this...
to this...
and finally became this...
This is the "Love Beads" pattern from the Modern Quilt Workshop book. I love it, it reminds me of when I was little.  My grandparents had a semi-finished basement with a little bar, fireplace, pool table and dart board. When I was little we would go over there and hang out, and one of the things I remember was the beaded curtain they had at the bottom of their stairs. This reminds me of that.  I'm really happy with it. I am still deciding how I am going to quilt it, but once I do, it probably won't be long before I get it all done :cD  I will try to get some better pictures when I do too, but I was so excited to show it I just posted what I had.
I've also gotten my cable bag done, which I am all excited about.
I am looking forward to my next knitting project.  I would love to try a sweater sometime, but don't think I'm quite up to it yet, so I am looking for another smaller project and I think I may have found it. I'll share that one as soon as I decide and get started.
Finally, I entered the quilting bloggers weekly themed quilt contest once again.  There theme this week is scrappy quilts, which are my favorites and describe many that I have made.  The one I chose to enter is this one.
I call it a bond between quilters. I made this one a couple years ago when I was doing a secret sister swap with an on-line group I used to be with. I did a block or two a month as part of my secret sister's gift and made "matching" ones for myself.  I got my set done a little early so I could get the whole quilt together. Then when it came time to reveal who we were I posted this picture and let her know "If you have these blocks I was your secret sister." so when she put the blocks together we could have "matching" quilts to remember the swap by. It was, and still is, one of my most cherished quilts. If you get the chance, please stop by their site this weekend and vote for me. You can click on the button on my sidebar to get there. Thanks!!

Well, I am off to have a last little bit of fun before my working weekend starts. I hope you all have a wonderful afternoon, and get to find a little fun time for yourselves as well. Warmest country wishes!!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Makes me happy Monday #5

Hi everyone, another Monday is upon us already. Let me start off with sharing a picture of spring "springing".  The shopping area of our city has tons of these trees planted all over and they are all in full bloom...just beautiful!!
 I kept busy all weekend with work and projects, but more about that in a bit.  Toady is Makes me Happy Monday, and what is it today that is making me happy? Simplicity :cD  Let me explain...we have a video game system here, and a couple days ago a friend of mine tried to get me to join in. Now mind you I have nothing against video games necessarily, but I enjoy puzzle games and the like.  My friend on the other hand enjoys RPGs and this is what he was playing.  "Here, check this out. Give this a try." he said as he handed me a controller. He went through how everything works, what the million buttons and triggers and bumpers did. I was completely lost, but thought what the heck, I'll give it a try. Well, after two failed attempts and many "What are you doing?"s, Where are you?"s, and "That's not the right button."s I handed back the controller and said he could have it. That's his thing, what makes him happy. "Just give me something sweet and simple" I told him, "that's what makes me happy"  I sometimes think society today overcomplicates so much, or we lose out on some of the joy of simple everyday things due to modern convience.  One example that comes to mind is the simple pleasure of a from scratch meal or baked goods.  Cooking is not really that hard, give most people a recipe and they can make something. But in today's day and age, so many will just say they can't cook and grab quick frozen dinners or fast food.  For me there is something soothing about taking raw ingredients and turning them into something delicious. And while frozed dinners are ok, they just don't compare to something made from scratch (in my opinion anyway.) Same can be said for my sewing and knitting. Yes, you can buy a quilt or sweater or handbag, but I get so much happiness from working with a simple pair of knitting needles and yarn, or fabirc and thread. I sometimes wish I could go back in time and live when things were not so complicated. I've often thought it would be refreshing to live the simple Amish lifestyle for just a little bit. Enjoying the outdoors, the rewards of hard work well done, home made meals, simple games and hobbies in the spare time you have without the distractions of blaring radios, blinking lights, glowing tvs and the rush rush rush of life in a mid-sized city. I am, however, "stuck" in a more modern world, if you will, so I have learned to find a lot happiness in my own life by learning to enjoy the simple things. So making me happy today is the time I get to enjoy those simple things :cD
      I have made a lot of progress on my cable bag. I have the bag done and seemed together. I have the lining cut and ready to go so I should be able to get it done here tonight.

I love how its turned out.  The knitted bag brings back memories of when I was little, and I think it has a little bit of a retro feel to it, so I chose a kind of retro fabric to line it with. I also bought a lovely chocolate brown to go with the Amy Butler fabrics, and I have most of the peices cut.  Have I ever mentioned I'm not fond of templates? Well, just in case I haven't, I'm not, but the quilt I am making uses them so I am trudging thorough the cutting the blocks by hand thing. I can't complain too much though, because I have laid out the peices I have cut so far, and just looking at it is making me giddy!

Well, I am taking off here. The mouselings and I are going to go watch How to Train Your Dragon. Sould be lots of fun. Then I am hoping to squeeze in some crafting time after they turn in for the night.  Hope you all have a happy Monday. Warmest country wishes!!

Country Mouse

Thursday, April 8, 2010

In with the new

Hi everyone, hope your weather is treating you as nicely as ours has been treating us. It was another great day for the mouselings to be on spring break. We spent time outside, rode bikes, made sidewalk drawings with chalk that came in the kiddos Easter baskets, and went to the park.  Now that I'm sitting here at my computer, I am realizing I really should take more pictures :cS  We all had a great time getting a little taste of the summer to come :cD

I am excited to share a couple new projects with you. The first is the start of a new quilt :cD
I finally started cutting into the beautiful Amy Butler fabrics I bought. These are just the scraps left from the start of my project, which I am going to try to keep a surprise until I get it finished. (Don't know how that will go as I love to share pictues, and the quilt I am making is one of those "I just gotta make it" types.) It is a quilt in the Modern Quilt Workshop book I bought recently, and one that just cried out to be made as soon as I saw it.  I am really excited to have something new underway!!  I still have to buy background fabric, but I know once I do the quilt will probably go together relatively quickly due to my eagerness to see it all finished.

Next is a picture of the start of my knitted cable bag.  It is done in two panels then stitched together. Finally a fabric lining and handles are added.
After working on this a while I have a couple things I just have to mention.  First I have such a hard time putting it down because it still amazes me how something my cat could drag all over the house and make a huge mess with, can be turned into fabric...its like magic to me! Second, to all of you knitters out there that can come up with your own patterns, you are absolutely amazing!! I am just proud of myself that I can read a knitting pattern. I am just in awe of those of you out there that can visualize the stitches and patterns and then write them down. I want to send a huge thank you to each and every one of you that shares those patterns be it through blogs, magazines, books, or whatever.

Well, other than that things aren't too horribly exciting otherwise, which isn't necessarily a bad thing around here ;cD  Here's hoping your days are sunny and full of fun, family and all the things you love.  Warmest country wishes!!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Makes me happy Monday #4

Woah! Kinda fell off the grid there for a bit. I really didn't mean to, really. I've said it before and I'll say it again, I think it would be interesting to do a study on how the mind perceives time. When you are little a day seems soooo long, now that I'm in my 30s the days just fly, and before you know it a week is gone! Anyway...I'm back for Makes me Happy Monday #4, and just what is it this week? The changing seasons :cD  Now I'm not talking just the "oh-thank-goodness-winter-is-over-let's-get-on-to-spring" seasonal change, I'm talking ALL of them.  I have grown up in Ohio where we get a very pronounced change of seasons, and I couldn't imagine living somewhere where that didn't happen. Here is one of the big indicators of spring around here (well, in my mind anyway)
I love the burst of color daffodils make against the green...those and the crocuses.  Its a lovely trasformation from white, white and more white to the beautiful greens, golds, and purples of the first spring flowers.  Love it!  Even the spring cleaning makes me happy. I really enjoy being able to open up the windows and let the summer breezes in.  Then we transition into the hazy, hot days of summer. Lawns are lush and green, flowers are everywhere, gardens are gowing. Going to the park, or the pool, or even on a long (air-conditioned) car ride is a wonderful thing. Then there are those summer rain showers that come and cool everythng off, and the smell after the rain....mmmmm, another thing I just adore.  Then comes the crisp breezes of autumn. Without a doubt my favorite time of year. Changing leaves, that cool-but-not-cold weather, the getting out of sweaters and drinking the occasional hot cocoa when the weather is just cold enough, bonfires and cook-outs around the fire. I get giddy thinking about it.  Then before you know it, you see that first snowflake of winter appear, and it is just magical. I remember being a kid and getting sooo excited when you saw that snow for the first time of the season. Still do. You knew that snowman building, sledding and Christmas were not that far away.  I just love the whole cycle.  I have friends who'll say "I just want to live somewhere where its sunny and 80 all the time" I just smile at them and say, "If that's what makes you happy, cool. But I'm happy to be where I am." So right now I am happy to be witnessing those changes of springtime and enjoying the colors and warmer weather it brings!!

Well, I wanted to thank those of you that offered me such encouraging comments.  I have had lots of fun knitting and trying to figure out stitches.  I haven't made anything too impressive, but I have made a couple of cute, usefull things. 

I know what project I am going to attempt next too. I did a little headband for my daughter to practice cable stitches, and now that I am pretty comfortable with them I am going to attempt to make a cable handbag. I will let you know how that goes ;cD  Also after reading Renee's comment, I've done some thinking, and come the conclusion that maybe I'm pushing myself a bit too hard to get that BLCE list done. I have been making strides in my personal life moving foreward so maybe my quilting should too. So I am thinking I am going to work on some of my newer quilts, and maybe even get a new one started. The thought of it has me excited!

Finally, I hope you all had a wonderful Easter. Ours was filled with fun and family. My little ones got not one, but three Easter baskets (we have enough candy to last us til Halloween now :cS) and I even got a pretty nice one myself.

The kids are on spring break, so we will have lots of time to have some fun before I have to get back to the daily grind (or should I say mid-week through weekend grind) so I am looking forward to that. Well, I'm off to get some sewing started.  Hope you all have a wonderful day. Warmest country wishes!!