15 December, 2006

last thoughts on baby log cabin

The baby arrived yesterday late in the so the quilt will go to it's new home tommorow. His name is Mattia - here he is, 1 day old - a wonderfully original name for a baby boy!

It's funny, in the past I wouldn't have dreamt of giving anything I made away to anyone! Now I seem to have changed. Couldn't really explain why, I'd have to have a good think about it. When I do make something for someone, it's for someone special, someone close to my heart, and it's because I found something to create that I feel would speak to and please both them and me. I put so much energy into creating something for someone, I want that energy to be positive for both of us. There's nothing worse than working on a project that drags along, frustrates, or just plain doesn't "flow". That doesn't mean it has to be easy or simple, on the contrary, I've done very complicated things that have demanded every ounce of focus and presicion, that had given me more pleasure and satisfaction than I had ever expected! As a matter of fact, those are the "meditative" projects, works that make me go to a quiet place, a place of focus, a place where everything falls away and there's nothing else but my hands that create...

Perhaps it's the process that's most important to me. Oh yeah, I grumble about things that go wrong or delay a part of the making because I just don't like to do it (like sandwiching a quilt, or cutting hundreds of pieces of fabric, when I just want to sew)

I always considered it a strange feeling, that feeling of detachment when a project was finished. There are some things I've never completed, probably because I didn't want to let go of them, like slowing down my reading because I didn't want that book to end!

14 December, 2006


Yesterday morning I placed the last stitches in the binding, and with a great sigh finished B.B's log cabin quilt. B.B. stands for Baby Boy, because we know that's what its going to be, and the name is being kept secret for now....
I must admit I'm pleased with the results and can't wait to give to it's new little owner who I hope will enjoy it for a long time!

All day I thought about what to do next: there's lots of unfinished projects lurking in the closet, lots of projects I'd like to begin. Oh, and no, I haven't forgotten about the Dear Jane project.....and I'll be making yet another baby quilt and am letting thoughts and ideas flow through my head wich will eventually end up on paper...

So now, while musing over what to do next, I'll tidy things up in the sewing room, do some repairs and alterations on clothing, and let my mind wander a bit.

12 December, 2006

just a little bit more...

Completed the binding on the log cabin - now for my favorite part....settling down on the couch with the warm quilt on my lap and stitch the binding onto the back of the quilt. Hopefully it'll be done on time to show the finished quilt at Quilt Group tommorow!
It's one of the few times I've completed a project within a deadline. I normally don't like to work with one, but it does help to get things done! My mind is already thinking ahead to the next project, the Dear Jane quilt, and making some more Cathedral Window blocks. As it's also the end of the year and I decided it would be nice to take inventory of my sewing room, organize things a bit and see what treasures I may have stashed in there that are waiting to be re-discovered and appreciated all over again...
who know's what will inspire me in that closet? who knows what project will come out of that?

In the meantime, in the real world, once the binding is sewn, there's a stack of shirts that need new buttons or buttons re-sewn and pants waiting to be taken in, and folds of linen waiting to become curtains.....oh joy.......

11 December, 2006

home-stretch panic..no more!

I'm doing a Snoopy dance!

This morning I finally finished knotting the log cabin quilt! Yippee!
Now, for the rest of the day, I'll be cutting strips of fabric to make the binding with. Instead of purchasing seperate fabric for it, I decided to use up all the dark fabric - hope I have enough - to make the binding. It'll have a scrappy effect, but I'm hoping it'll frame the quilt well.

Making the binding is the true home stretch for me. One of my favorite parts of making a quilt is when I get to sit down and sew the binding down onto the back of the quilt. It gives me a great feeling of accomplishment for having completed another project, with thoughts of looking forward to working on a new or exsisting project.

well, back to the cutting table!

a day at the beach

Yesterday we took Darwin to the beach for the first time. It had finally stopped raining, and although the wind was still blowing, the sun still shone. Packed into our ski coats, caps and gloves we went to the Maas Vlakte, a large expanse of coast line close to the outskirts of the Rotterdam Harbor. Although my ears hurt from the cold, and one had to yell over the wind to be heard, it was wonderful to enjoy the fresh sea air, the kite-surfers floating through the air, and best of all, Darwin's joy in being at sea for the first time. He didn't know wich way to go, there was so much to discover! He had no fear of the waves, jumped and danced around us, with his wonderful Golden smile......

08 December, 2006

home-stretch panic

Have been making a lot of progress on the log cabin quilt.
For the past few days I've been knotting day, knotting night and knotting in between until my fingers hurt!
Three more rows though, and work on making the binding can begin. Yeah!

Well, it's off into the pouring rain to let Darwin stretch his legs, and then back to knotting...knotting...knotting....

06 December, 2006

home-stretch panic

knotting log cabin, originally uploaded by Monkicat.

I'm late! I'm late! For a very important date!

Spent yesterday knotting like the Mad Hatter - it just dawned on me that the baby is due next week on the 16th!!
I thought to have enought time to work on a basket and some other baby gifts, but realized that the quilt has to be finished so I know exactly how much fabric is left. The binding is going to be made up of all of the left over brown fabric, so I can't dip into that yet. This means I can't work on the smaller projects until this one is complete. Got side tracked cutting muslin for the cathedral widows, and couldn't resiste making a few squares....

Usually knotting is the fast way of putting a quilt together, and I chose this option because the log cabin with it's jersey (tricot) backing is too cumbersome to quilt. The stitches would have ended up too big and I think a not very good addition to the quilt. It wouldn't have been completed on time- not an option! Taking a look at my work last night, I wasn't sure about the effect the knotting had either! It crossed my mind to take it all out and try the quilting.....it's no fun being unsure about a project, but part of the creative process, I guess.

Must focus.....must finish.......must knot.......

04 December, 2006

The decision is made. Finally!
While working on other quilting projects, I've been thinking about the Dear Jane project: how to organize it, supplies, and of course the color scheme. At first, I thought to faithfully reproduce the original, following the colors and the Around-the-World pattern. I looked at what many other DJ quilt makers were doing and came across everything from Civil War reproductions to Parrot-coloured quilts. All beautiful!

Then, last Friday, I went to my local quilt shop to get some supplies for the baby rib quilt, and fabrics to make Christmas gifts with. My eyes fell on a wonderfully soft pink piece of fabric......and I'm not necessarily a pink fan......and soon everything fell into place! Together with the shop assistant we criss-crossed through the store finding one fabulous shade after another. With each bolt we got more excited as the "feel" of the quilt came together before our eyes! Most of the fabrics are Japanese, with a sprinkling of Reproduction fabrics. It was more important to me to get that softly muted affect, and many of the Japanese fabrics come in those wonderfully subtle colors. All of this on a solid Ivory background.

It feels good to have finally made a decision about the colors and to have a base from which to work with. In time, I'll probably add some muted or faded reds and golden yelows as bright notes.
Now, the next question: Do I still follow the Around-the-World pattern or just start and see how it goes? I'll let that simmer in the back of my mind as I get started on knotting the baby log cabin....

A first attempt at making a cathedral window block completely by hand. It's very needle intensive, but fun to make. I collected a small box of scraps from some special projects made in the past to use in the "windows". The background fabric is plain muslin. I wanted to have a project or two to work on by hand that is easy to sew during evenings on the couch or in "lost time". No plans for any specific purpose yet, will probably just keep working on it until I get bored with it or it tells me its done

30 November, 2006

first beading attempts...

baby rib - beading, originally uploaded by Monkicat.

The first feeble attempts at beading......
Difficult to photograph, but at least an idea of what it looks like.
Thinking now that I should've perhaps done the embroidery first, and leave the beading for last, but only 3 blocks have been beaded out of the 168, so no harm done.....

Time to dig up some of my embroidery books to find some stitches to try out....

baby rib quilt

baby rib quilt, originally uploaded by Monkicat.

Yesterday I completed the top. It's wonderfully soft and I love the rich colors. It has a bit of a victorian-crazy quilt feel to it - perhaps it's that wich inspired me to bead and embroider it.....
That wasn't the intention. When I first purchased the fabric, I thought it would be a quick and easy project, just zoom the squares under the machine, some fluffy batting and soft flanel backing and voila! a soft and cozy quilt for chilly winter evenings on the couch.

No such luck. A wise and dear friend told me once while I was learning to spin to let the wool speak, and allow it to do want it wanted to do. Fabrics speak too, at least to me, and this quilt told me it wasn't finished.

So now I've gone into my sewing box, and found a collection of beads that had mission now long forgotten. The closet is getting a once-over as well, and it's actually fun digging through my stuff and finding small treasures, some for this project, and others not having to do with it at all!

I began yesterday with the beading and found it relaxing and fun to do. I'm no expert, but think this'll be a good way to practice and ease my way back into cross-stitch and embroidery, arts wich I really want to get back into a learn more about and perhaps use more in my quilt making....

27 November, 2006

strange snack....

Just cleaned up a most unpleasant mess: a pair of black socks covered in bits of grass and muck that Darwin decided he just couldn't digest. Lord only knows when he managed to eat these 2 socks, I mean, he usually just carries them around, but I never thought he'd actually eat them! No wonder he didn't even come near his breakfast this morning, and yesterday, he wasn't enthousiastic about eating at all! We thought it was because of the new teeth that are breaking through, and so softened his food, but with 2 socks in the tummy, heck, I wouldn't feel hungry.....

26 November, 2006

baby rib quilt

baby rib quilt, originally uploaded by Monkicat.

I bought a kit made up of baby rib corduroy fabric at the European Quiltchampionships in Waalre, the Netherlands. Today I began stiching the 15 cm squares together and completed 5 rows. The original pattern is easy, just sew the squares together, but I think I'll embellish the top using seed beads, tiny buttons, perhaps use some velvet or silk? It was supposed to become a simple and quick cozy couch quilt to snuggle under, but now, as I work on it, other ideas are coming to mind.
It's beautiful fabric, but leaves me and my machine full of fuzzy dust bunnies!
Well, back to the sewing room!

24 November, 2006

baby log cabin

Log cabin baby quilt, originally uploaded by Monkicat.

it's done!
Yesterday I sat down and finished putting the top together for the baby quilt. It's feels quite stiff & heavy because of the foundation the "logs" are sewn on, but I'm hoping when it's washed it'll be softer. The rest of the evening I spent digging around in the closet looking for batting and found two large pieces that will do just fine.

Now I just have to think about how it's going to be finished: the quilt will consist of 4 layers of fabric in total - a bit thick to be quilted, and there's too little time (baby's due 16 december) to do that anyway. Will probably knot it with DMC floss, knot it in the back, or make tiny stitches to just tack it down or a combination of the two....

21 November, 2006

playing in the park

playing in the park, originally uploaded by Monkicat.

Darwin watches soccer

Darwin watches soccer, originally uploaded by Monkicat.

Up until today it's been beautiful Fall weather and it's been a joy taking walks with Darwin in the Park! The air is crisp, and smells like earth and leaves. Darwin is happy to gallop through piles of leaves, or run through them when I kick a pile into the air.
On this day, when the photo was taken, we decided to watch Ro play football (aka soccer). Darwin loves to watch the game and we always have to take a stop if we walk past a field where there a game on.
There's something special about walking with your dog on a beautiful day...

Today it's grey and gloomy, and the rain has started pouring down. In a little while Darwin and I will go out again, brave the weather, but when we come back we'll be happy to have had our "moment" together......

08 November, 2006

The Quilt

The Quilt, originally uploaded by Monkicat.

The Quilt made by Jane A. Stickle in 1863 aka the Dear Jane Quilt. Hope to start on it soon and to be up for the challenge!

07 November, 2006

Hand Quilting Homework

Hand Quilting Homework
Originally uploaded by Monkicat.
Today I realized that I really need to get going on my homework for my Traditional Hand quilting class! I was so busy trying to complete the baby log cabin, that before I knew it the days had creeped up on me and now I have to make sure to get this done by next week! Looks like the log cabin will have to wait a few days...

Baby Log Cabin

Log Cabin quilt
Originally uploaded by Monkicat.
Not a great shot, but here's a picture of the quilt with all the blocks completed. I'm pretty pleased with the design and how the colors worked out. I'm lagging a bit behind events, but in the mean time three rows have been completed, and slowly the top is coming together.

06 November, 2006

Planning for baby log cabin

Planning for baby log cabin
Originally uploaded by Monkicat.
Hey! It finally worked to get the photos on the blog! Ahem...

Made the designs and collected the fabrics to begin to make this log cabin quilt. It's a fun project, since it's for a baby, and a challenge because the colors were not my choice - the mom to be sent me swatches of the wall paint and curtains, and that's what I had to work with in terms of chosing the fabrics. The colors are not the typical baby pastels - I'm not a fan of "baby fabrics' in general, and I was worried that the colors would be to dark or heavy. Mixing olive green in with the chocloate brown, adding stripes and polka dots added light and sparkle. This photo was taken a while back and in the meantime I'm putting the top together. It's a lot of fun seeing it come together like this!

Log Cabin Quilt

Making good progress on my log cabin quilt.
It's due to be gifted to a baby boy due mid-December of this year, so I'm working under a deadline. Happily I started it in time to deal with any unforeseen changes, mishaps, that sort of thing.
If I can figure it out, I'll try to post photos. It didn't work with Webshots, so I switched to Flickr....

30 September, 2006

Darwin's Evolution

Our Golden Retriever puppy Darwin is 3 months old. Life since Darwin has certainly changed, changed for the better.
He's grown tremendously, still has his downy soft puppy fur, still trips over his feet, still chases his tail (and the positions he'll get into in order to get that tail! )
The breeder really did pick a great pup out for us, and he fits in perfectly with our lives and lifestyle.
Today he had his third puppy training class, hunting training, and for the second time, the instructor mentioned that there wasn't much of a hunter in him. Apparently if we had wanted that we should've gotten a darker, more "golden" Golden Retriever. No such thing! Our platinum blonde doesn't have to be a professional, just have fun with it. I refuse to become a "soccer mom" with my dog! He does parade happily along, among the Cesky Fouseks, Weimaraners, Labradors (who after pulling his nose up after sniffing a dead crow - I felt relief that I wasn't the only one with a dog with no hunting ambitions) acting like the training class is a tea party, but when I finally get his attention, he does his sits, downs, comes, follows, stays, like a true professional! Humph! So there!

From the moment he came to us, Darwin has been attracting more attention than we bargained for. In the beginning it's flattering to hear from people on the street and in the park that your dog is beautiful, well built, has a nice disposition. He gets patted, cuddled, stroked, baby-talked to. Now it's getting old, no it's becoming annoying. Once the rose-colored glasses came off, I came to the realization that 9 times out of 10 people just dive upon your dog without asking if they can approach him, just start petting him. They look upset when you walk off with your pup with a look like "hey I was petting him!" I always think, well get your own then! No one thinks of petting your brand new coat without asking, do they?

Happily that's the only major thing to complain about.

19 September, 2006

The Dear Jane Project

A couple of years ago, in one of my favorite quiltshops that no longer exsits, I came across a book about a quilt. This quilt was made up of 225 little blocks surrounded by a "icecream cone" border or "kites" just as intricate. The quilt was made by Jane A. Stickle in 1863. Thumbing through the book, seeing the many little blocks with their many little pieces I began to think that one had to be completely mad to start such a venture. I guess I've gone mad.
Then, each time I went to a quiltshop, quilting championship, or other quilting shindig, the book would always pop up. The little blocks kept fascinating me and nibbling at me in the back of my mind. About a year ago, in yet another quiltshop the book lay there again - out of frustration I bought it. I sometimes have that with books: books that you come across in bookshops and they somehow seem to "speak" to you. Well that's what this one did. It came home, got the once over, and put on the shelf, other quilting projects higher on the priority list. In the meantime, surfing on the Net, its surprising how many sites were devoted to this quilt! It seemed a world wide phenomenon. "Fascinating", Spock would say......
To make a long story slightly shorter, I joined the Dear Jane list ( who were these mad women?) and began to learn about this group of wonderful, creative, talented, prolific and full of humour quilters.
I haven't begun yet, but will soon, after the "deadline" projects are completed. In the meantime, I've collected materials, tools and of course, fabric to get started as soon as possible. It's still a bit daunting, but with the help of friends, and certainly my Dear Jane friends, it should work out just fine!

16 September, 2006

A new thing every day...

Would you believe I finally figured out how to make a signature? In my email?
Slap your hand against your forehead - roll your eyes, but hey, I'm better at some things than others....

Besides, I couldn't go anywhere, Darwin's fast asleep on my foot here under my chair and he's so tired, I don't dare wake him!
He was on a platform and saw trains for the first time today. The only thing that startled him a bit was the "wooosh!" of the pressed air coming out from the trains as they passed by.
After a few passed, he didn't even react. He did want to follow Ro onto the train, and was sad when we had to return back to the car. It seems every time he experiences something new, he comes home exhausted. Sort of felt like walking out of Chem. 101..... So he flip flops about, dreaming, and in the meantime I'm losing feeling in my foot.......


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