Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Hiatus OVER. Finally.

Welcome back, superfriends!

So it's been a long hiatus.  Trying to get back into the swing of things here at the Anvil.  It's been a LONG time since we raised our heads and looked around.  However, we've not been COMPLETELY dormant.  (Even if it does feel like it sometimes!)  I feel a bit remiss, but I really needed the down time.  Nothing major, just... everything.  Work and personal life and family and holidays and work and work and even work.  Things are - as you might guess - a little wild at work.  We've lost two people from our department in the last month and a half (to other jobs, not anything horrible) and while the supervisors were looking, the rest of us got to pick up the slack.  So... it's been a little rough on all of us.  And now we have a third leaving.  However, we've got the three slots filled, and the new folks start on Monday.  Hopefully things will calm down pretty quick - once we get them trained!

To get us back in the swing of things...

The Star Fruit Cushion.  (tutorial here:

It's a fabulous design!  I may have to make a couple more of these... maybe even a little bigger.  (This one is made using 8" squares... I am thinking about moving up to 12" squares.  That's a LOT of stuffing, but it would be amazing to lounge against and sew in bed, I am thinking).  And because it's me, I keep thinking about making a wee little one, too.  Just to see if I can.

Other than that, it's been (for Texas) ridiculously cold, so I've made two t-shirt scarves.  They are simple simple simple to make.  Recently that's been a good thing.  I may make another one, with a few variations.  After all, it's still winter time in Texas, and this year, winter seems to be taking itself seriously.

And... of course it's almost that time again... Faire time.  Which means more garb-making.  So far I've got the basics - chemise and bloomers.  :)  Gotta have my underpinnings!  (We'll see this weekend if they pass muster.  I hope so!).  I know what the skirt and bodice will look like - again, pending final approval.  Here's what the original version looked like.  The revamped version will be a little different.  Particularly in color.  The dark blue is gone, in favor of a peacock green.  But it's vastly different from anything I've done before.  Think I will like it!

(This, by the way, is taken outside the forge.  I am hoping in the future we can put an arbor over at least part of the concrete expanse...).  In the meantime, we're making do, and doing what we can.  We'll be adding more plant life as soon as the temperatures moderate some.  But for now, it stays all concrete-y and gray. 

Here is my Day of the Dead quilt.  It's a fairly basic Nine Patch, because I wanted something quick and easy.  There are about 14 different fabrics in it, including one Day of the Dead print.  Yup, just one.  I didn't want it to be TOO over the top.  But again, because it's me... I decided to piece the binding.  In stripes.  Because I could.  So I did.

I pieced it together out of some hand-dyed fabrics I bought at a quilt show last year.  There are ten different colors in the binding, and they're delightfully bright.  It really makes the Day of the Dead material pop in real life.  In  this picture... not so much.  I still need a new camera.

The absolute best part about this quilt is the binding - not so much the colors, although it love them.  The best part of all... my binding matched up.  I started with a red and ended with a blue (which is right next to the red).  I didn't plan that, and I certainly didn't expect it!  But I am pleased as punch about it, and will take it!

Here's the corner where the pieces of binding match up.  Riiiight up there where the bright blue and the red meet.  That's where they begin and end.  SO HAPPY!  (perhaps a little too happy, but I'll take what I can get). 

There's more to catch up on, but for now, that's it for me, superfriends...

Catch you on the flip side!




Wednesday, September 4, 2013


This is the month of skulls - mostly felt ones so far!  I am working to make Halloween In A  Jar to decorate people's desks at work.  Since there are about 40 people in my department, that's a lot of little felt sugar skulls!

Here's a little sampling of the skulls I've made so far.  I have about half done, and one giant one for me, to decorate at home with.

I am also considering - if I have time and felt left - making a giant wreath wrapped in black or black and white fabric and sugar skulls.  I'll hang it inside the front windows with some purple lights, and have Halloween wreath to show the neighborhood.  And I am also making a mantle runner for Halloween.  (think I am looking forward to it this year?)

I've also been working on a t-shirt quilt for a friend who does Scottish Highland Games.  She's got a lot of t-shirts!  It's been a challenge to find the right combo of shirts for front and back, and the right material for sashing.  I think I've done fairly well so far - uncovered thistle fabric for the sashing.  It's a nice neutral, but still in keeping with the theme. 

And just because, I've managed to actually start QUILTING things again!  I am hand-quilting Quilter's Moon - pics tonight, if I can swing it.  I am also getting ready to start quilting a lap-quilt sized springy-looking quilt that I made on a whim.  I will probably wind up taking it to work for my part of the Christmas gift exchange.  There were lots of comments last year about "what, no quilt?" and this is a pretty set of colors, but not my style.

I feel like I've picked back up my sense of creativity and such.  I've gotten some of the stress reduced, and feel a little more like creating.  I'm back to writing, sewing and quilting.  It's going to be a good Skull-tember!

There's just something about September; it's always been full of promise.  It's always been a favorite month for me.  It's new beginnings for school (even though school often now starts in September).  It's that big lead in to Halloween.  It's the promise of cooler temperatures (even if that promise takes a while to be filled).  It's all the fabulous upcoming days and social events and holidays.  It's not just the end of summer.  It's more.  It feels like my own personal spring.
 More pictures to come later today... and I'm going to try to be better about this whole blogging thing.  With reduced stress comes more time for making and posting about making. 

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Curiosity and the Things We Do

Good morning, superfriends!

The things we do.... oh, yes.  The things we do.  Historically speaking, a lot of the projects I've tackled are done because someone else tells me I can't.  Or that it would look silly/stupid/blah blah blah.  If I disagree, I am likely to follow through and see what it looks like.  I have a double streak of stubborn and curious that runs through all that I am. 

I have never seen an inverted Double Wedding Ring, as previously mentioned.  Even I wasn't sure it was a good idea!  Especially since I don't necessarily care for dwr quilts (I am lazy - I am NOT typing the full double wedding ring again and again!  It's my blog, I can do what I want!).  But.  Because I am stubborn, I decided that I would make at least one ring of an inverted dwr.

So here it is.  In the admittedly less-than-ideal light of the dining room.  It's not half bad!  I still can't see myself working on a full-out, bed sized dwr quilt.  But if I ever were to, it would be the inverted variety.  I am pleased with it, and that is ultimately why I do the things I do - to make myself happy.  Particularly when it comes to quilting and sewing.

Last night was also the start of doll-making.  I have most of a doll put together.  Tonight her head will go on her, and I will start figuring out costuming for her.  She may skip the hair - because if I can get a hat on her, it will completely cover up her hair anyway. 

I've been musing more on the things I do and why I do them - not the obvious, like jobs and such.  These are the "other" things - the things that most people would consider a little odd/offbeat.  Strangely, quilting falls into that category.  I don't understand that, but I come from a crafting family.  My sister sews, my mother used to sew and embroider, my father works in wood... and we were always offered the opportunity to play with all sorts of crafts.  Drawing, coloring, making little red clay pots at our grandparents' house... even dyeing with beets.  In an old iron pot outside.   Sewing doll clothes with scrap fabric at my great-aunt's house, sitting in the living room.

It was never a big deal - it was a part of life.  We were given the chance to explore our world, wherever that world happened to be.  We weren't rich, not with two teachers for parents, but we took road trips, and we learned things wherever we were.  My parents encouraged curiosity and thinking.  We went to the zoo a lot, and learned about animals.  We went to libraries - not just the closest one to us, but to several different ones.  Despite always having overdue books, I always had library books.  We were encouraged to read.  We learned about other places and other times, and learned to tell good writing from bad.  We went to museums - my hometown of San Antonio has a fair number, and we went to a lot of them.  I still have favorites.  We learned about art and saw things we wouldn't have otherwise.

All of that combined to create in me a passion for creating.  I cannot draw to save my life, and most of my crafting skills do not produce exactly what I have in my mind.  But it's not going to discourage me from trying.  Because above all, we learned not to quit.  We were instilled with that love of learning - maybe not in school, maybe not traditional learning - but we learned to hang on to the curiosity.  That has carried me far, and tinges everything that I do now.  While others may say 'it can't be done,' my family is in the back of my mind saying 'go for it.  give it a shot.'

As far as the rest - the stilt-walking, the sewing of costuming, the writing, the ren faire... and anything else that I decide to take up - it's curiosity that drives me.  That, and the desire to learn.  As long as I live, I hope to be learning.  If I can pass that on to others, it makes it all worth the effort.  Strangely, looking back, I don't see that my parents "worked" at getting us to learn the things they taught us.  They just lived their lives, and we saw them doing and enjoying.  And it's still the case - they are still learning, and showing us the way. 

So here's to curiosity.  Maybe I'll build on the dwr and call it curiosity.  Just because I want to see what happens with it. 


Monday, August 5, 2013

August sewing space

Good morning, superfriends!

Now that's it's August, temperatures have finally crept up into  "normal Texas summer" areas - meaning that we're over 100 degrees for several days running.  Because that's the case, and because of many other reasons, I am temporarily moving my personal sewing space from the forge to my area of the house.  It's a little more crowded, and the light isn't as good, but I only have to A/C one area, and I am doing small things right now anyway.

I moved my machine and one of the scrap fabric bins upstairs to my space this weekend and started actually feeling like sewing again!  Win!  I love the forge, but planning to sew, having to go out and turn on the A/C an hour or so before... it gets old.  And it makes me feel obligated to sew for several hours when I do so.  Which makes it.... well.. an obligation, not something to be enjoyed.

So for at least the month of August (and maybe September, depending), here is the bulk of my sewing area.  It's such a down-sizing.... but it will work better for me until work and temperatures are a little more stable.  The weirdest part is that I have to sew sitting down.  I haven't done that in years!  I will move my Ott-Light up for more natural lighting, but for now, here it is. 

And this weekend I cut out pieces for 2 dolls - both for costuming purposes - and started the project you can see on the table.  It's a double wedding ring, but inverted.  I just can't get all that interested in a standard double wedding ring quilt.  I don't know why - they just don't appeal to me.  But I caught myself wondering what one would look like inverted - with the scrappy on the non ring sections.  And this is what it looks like so far.  Don't know how big I will go with this, but it's an interesting project!

The strips are all from the scrap bin - blues and blacks - with the bright white for the rings.  I will hopefully get the next round done tonight, just to see what it continues to evolve into.... I like it so far, despite my innate bias of double wedding ring quilts.  (Which is probably because most of the ones I have seen are in colors not to my taste.  We shall see, when I've finished this project!)  My only problem is that I don't have enough blue to do the next rounds, so I will swap colors.... I guess I'll see what I have to use!  Maybe pull the other scrap bin in.... see what the weather brings this afternoon.

I bought more fabric this weekend - but this time it has a purpose!  We have a "full contact Christmas" party, in which gifts are exchanged at work.  Everyone last year was in high hopes of a quilt.  So... this year... it might just happen.  It's on my list of projects.  We'll see how far I get!

I am doing projects because I want to right now... not because I have to.  The dolls are costuming related, more for my own benefit. I figure that if I have the dolls, I can at least look at them and see what I want.  If I don't get the character, I will at least have that!  And it feels like forward progress.  And that will keep the stress levels down - I'm accomplishing something.  And that's really what it's all about right now.


Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Learning from myself

Good morning, superfriends!

Still here, still plugging away... with a change of heart.

Stress got to me the other day.  Enough so that, when combined with not eating enough and trying to move two rooms of furniture, I passed out.  Just *thud* onto the floor.  Since no one else was home, I woke up not too long after wondering what had just happened.  It wasn't too long, but I was light-headed the rest of the day, and did not like that one little bit.  

I decided I would (finally) take steps to moderate my stress.  I made a list of the things that are currently stressing me out.  There are a few things that I have little to no control over.  The rest I can do something about.  So I've been working on that.  Sat down with D and had a meeting about chores and things, and we hashed it out pretty quick with no emotional outbursts and no hurt feelings.  That in itself helped the stress levels!

The other thing I did... looking back, it amazed me that it took me so long.  I learned (indirectly) from myself.  I've been teaching that quilting is supposed to be fun.  It doesn't matter if your seams don't match exactly if you don't mind.  It doesn't matter how long it takes you, as long as it's fun.

I apparently forgot that.

So I am taking a leaf from my own book.  I am giving myself permission to slow down and not HAVE to quilt every day.  I no longer will HAVE to run home, do chores and eat and get ready for the next day and shoehorn quilting in there.  Nope.  It happens when it happens.

So my goals are being modified.  Now I will shoot for updating every other day.  That, too, should reduce the stress.

I still have so much I want to do.  But now I'm not going to push so hard.  Apparently my body doesn't like that.  So, time to slow down for a while.  Put the enjoyment back in things - that was one thing I realized.  I am not enjoying my sewing these days.  I'd rather enjoy it.    And giving myself the freedom to slow down and take away deadlines might just do the trick.

So here goes: the newer, slower S.  (Maybe).  Today is the last day of the month, and the last day of stress-filled.  I am taking control of my own life, my own stress, and dealing with it.

Tonight's goals?  dust downstairs and maybe work on a quilt.  I am not sure which one just yet - but it will be one that I CHOOSE to work on.  Not one I feel that I HAVE to work on.  Oh, and dinner.  :)   I should make dinner.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

The Perverseness of the Universe

Good morning, Superfriends!

As many can attest, once a person makes a decision about things, the universe shifts, and those goals are no longer so easily reached.

Naturally, once I decided my goals - life happened. 

I haven't given up on them - oh, no... I'm far too stubborn for that!  But it might take me a wee bit longer.  So be it.  I am stubborn.  Seriously stubborn.  And so I am NOT going to quit.  Nope, not this girl.  I have better things to do than quit.  Sometimes, life makes it a challenge, but really... what would life be without a challenge?

In the meantime, we've fired up the old testing schedule at work, so there's less free time until, oh... January.  Hooray!  (Overtime is good money, right?)  I enjoy the testing part in some ways, but it does take up my time!  We're probably working 6 days a week until December.  And of course, now is the time that my brain goes "Oh, hey!  I've got these lovely ideas for a quilt!  You should totally make these!" 

I would love to make a steampunk hippo quilt.  I haven't figured out how yet, but it's percolating in my brain, along with the other new things.  My list is growing and growing! 

But, I am still plugging along, working as I can.  If I listed all the quilts I have in planning stage, I would just be overwhelmed.  I DO have a list, but it's kept on a spreadsheet for my sanity.  Right now it's sitting at 98 quilts in various stages: planned, designed, in process or done.  17 of those are done.  Currently I am sitting at 18% completion.  I keep shooting for higher.  Eventually.  Maybe.  :)

I am also testing one of my patterns for accuracy.  I want to see if it can get accepted in a quilting magazine, so I wanted to be certain it would do!  And, since I was making a test piece, I decided to do something a little different.  A little more modern.  It looked muddy until I added the blue.  I intended to go all black and white, but I think I have too much grey.  The blue helps, though!

So that's what I've been up to, superfriends!

What's up in your worlds?  What's currently challenging you?  Does life get in the way of quilting and crafting?


Friday, July 19, 2013

Onwards! Fruit, birds, and quilts

Good morning, superfriends!

I am keeping to my goals -  so far.  I have quilted on Boston Molasses Flood at least a little each night.  I have also planned out three (sigh) new quilts.  So, those go on the list for "someday."  At this rate, I won't have to worry about running out of ideas!  Even if I don't have another one for five years, I think I'm set!

Today is luau day at work - jeans, hawaiian shirts, decorations, food day, etc.  I volunteered for fruit, but because I am me, I couldn't just plop fruit on a plate and go with it.  No... not this girl....

Behold.  The fruit bird!  Pineapple body with pear wings, a banana head, and plumage of strawberries, cherries and grapes.  Hooray the fruit bird!

I put this together up here at work, and people kept stopping by to watch and make comments about how it's amazing how creative I am, and how they would never think of things like that.  One even asked if I'd taken a class on it.  (That one blew my mind).  I told her I'd seen a picture, and figured out how to put it together.  She looked at me as though I'd grown two heads.  To me, this is a bird made of fruit held together with bamboo skewers.  Apparently to other people this is something they would admire, but never even think to make.  Something too difficult.

I guess quilting is like that.  Actually, I suppose a LOT of life is like that.  Things that are simple to one person are amazingly difficult or even unthinkable to other people.  What is simple to me, not so much to others.  Likewise, what is nigh-on impossible to me is probably easy to some people. 

Tonight will be more quilting and such - and prepping Quilter's Moon for a small road trip.  We're going to a picnic this weekend, and it's going with me.  Just in case I get tired of talking and need something to do with my hands.  Or something.

Oh... what is Quilter's Moon?  Oh, yeah.  That entry crashed when I tried to post it.  So... Quilter's Moon.  Improv pieced moon of creams and whites on a dark blue starry background. The improv piecing came from an article in Quilty. I am immensely enjoying this magazine! 

The background color doesn't show up very well in this shot - it's considerably more blue than this.  But this shot does show the detail of the moon.  I am reasonably pleased with this as well, and now have to buckle down and quilt it!