Thursday, January 16, 2014

Postcrossings: Progress Report

A few months ago I posted about one of my new hobbies: Postcrossings.  This is a website for sending and receiving postcards around the world.  I love to get and send mail, so this seemed like it was made for me and I enthusiastically dove in.

I just wanted to report that it has turned out to be all the fun that it promised.  So far I have sent 20 postcards, received 17 and presently have 7 "traveling"...that means that I've mailed them but they haven't been received yet.  Some countries, particularly in Eastern Europe, seem to take forever to arrive.  It has made me realize how the internet has really changed the world!  Before email sending communication to some countries took quite awhile.  Now an email travels in a fraction of the time that snail mail does.  It has truly made the world smaller in that respect. with any progress, there is a price.  Just as you absorb more culture when traveling to another city than you do by looking at pictures of the place; you learn more about a country's culture through a written postcard than you do from an email correspondence.  Everything from the stamps to the handwriting to the embellishments (stickers, etc) to the card chosen communicate something about both the sender and his location.

Here are a few of the ones that I've received:
It's been great fun and I hope to keep this up for awhile.  The only disappointment is that occasionally a postcard seems to not arrive.  They "time out" after 60 days.  I have one that I sent to Belarus that will time out at the end of the week and mysteriously, one to Texas that has been "traveling" for 34 days!  But, maybe now that the Christmas rush is over it will be found in some forgotten mail bag and make it's way to Texas. 
So, for snail mail fans.....Postcrossings is definitely worth a try!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Whisper Block #1

Remember the children's game - we called in "telephone" - where one person whispers a sentence into someone's ear and then they in turn whisper it to the next person and so on down the line.  The last person says the sentence as they understood it and often a LOT has been lost in translation!  I'm not sure that this game really had a winner or loser; it was just a little fun activity to pass the time of day.

Well, I joined an activity at my local quilt guild that is based on this children's game.  We are organized in groups of five.  The first month everyone comes to the meeting with a picture they like.  The picture is given to another member in the group.  So each of the five go home with a picture and create a 12 inch quilt block based on the picture.  You don't have to make the exact image.  You can use the colors or the theme or just one part of the whole picture.  The next month you give the picture back to the owner and the block to another person in your group (all the exchanges have been planned by the coordinator).  The second month each person goes home with their own picture and a block.  They are then to create a block based on this first block.  This goes on for five weeks and at the end you have four blocks from your original picture.  The fun is to see how the elements were "whispered" from one person to another through their creations.

It sounded like fun when I signed up.  And then I received the picture:
And I sort of panicked!  There were so many elements in the picture and there was that darn perspective with the downhill and background.  Several months ago we had a speaker at guild who talked about "looking through the window" to create perspective in a piece. Of course, I didn't attend that workshop and now I was wishing that I had.  So, I pushed this to the back burner for quite awhile.  I took the picture to several people and asked them what they saw.  The husband commented on the thatch.  A friend commented on the hill.  I saw very muted colors, a narrow palate and a grey sky.  In the end I came up with this:
I sort of cut off a bit of the grey sky in this picture.  The "thatch" is wool that I bought back when I made llama's for "this".
So, it's not a work of art, but let me tell you it was difficult to figure out how to fit that all into 12 inches.  And I'm not really sure what I could have done differently or better.  I hope my next picture is a bit easier.  And as usual, I learned a lot along the way.  


Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Country Threads Block of the Month December - 2013

It probably looked like I dropped the ball on this one and it DID slip a little!  But last week I got the last two blocks completed for the Country Threads Block of the Month 2013 project.  Sorry for the bad photos.  We had a few precious minutes of sunshine during which I tried to quickly snap some pictures.  The top block is actually a six inch square and the bottom is 12 inches:

Once all of these blocks were finished there were a few blank spots in the layout to be filled in with half square triangles.  I decided instead to add a few more blocks of similar design.  So far I've added these:

And here's the whole collection on the design wall.  I'm still planning on sashing between the blocks since it looks a bit hectic to my eye.  I'll probably rearrange a bit also since a present I have a lot of similar blocks together:
And then this will be added to my "ready for quilting" pile.  Can you see why my 2014 goal is to just say "No" to new projects?  I really want to get these all completed before moving on to other things.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Celtic Solstice: The First Blocks

Bonnie Hunter revealed the layout for her 2013 mystery quilt on January first - three days earlier than expected.  I really like this layout, but you'll have to follow the link above to see the whole thing because I'm a long way from having my top finished.

I did manage to complete my missing step 1 before the last step was published:
And I've put a few blocks together in-between working on a few other projects:
This is the second mystery I've done with Bonnie.  I like the mystery idea and I like that it causes me to stretch a bit and improve my piecing skills.  While I always admire patterns with all these small pieces they are not ones I often choose to make on my own.  I've decided though that if she offers one next year and if I decide to play along I'm going to try to make it NOT scrappy.  I'll just buy yardage in each color and go with that.  While I often feel like I have too many scraps I always seem to struggle to find ones that I think will look good together and I end up doing a lot of second guessing along the know, like, "Is that green too light?  Is that orange piece too bright? Does that blue offer enough contrast? and so on."

So, I'm going to plug along on these blocks between other projects and hopefully I'll soon have a top to share!

I'm linking up with Bonnie today!

Friday, January 3, 2014

Old Business and New

This holiday season has really flown by.  Unlike past years it seemed like there was little time to reflect on last year or think about goals for the new year.  So, I'm going to keep it easy.  This year my quilting goal is, "Just say no."  I get seduced by the many, many wonderful ideas and opportunities online and the beautiful fabrics in the stores and I want to do them all and use them all.  So, consequently I have several projects mostly finished and that sort of frustrates me.  So this year my motto is to just say, "No."  I may "Pin" or download a pattern or idea but, at least for the next six months I should be able to keep busy with finishing up my "mostly finished" projects.  I'm allowing myself one exception (I know, that's a slippery slope!)  The gals at Fandom in Stitches will be having a monthly block around the theme of the movie The Princess Bride.
 photo AYWBadge_zpsfd93af71.jpg
 This is an old romantic fantasy comedy from 1987.  It sort of has a cult following and the boys and I are part of that cult!  We've been known to quote lines from this movie in everyday conversation.  Last year I bought them each a DVD of the movie.  So, I'm going to take notice of the blocks (this is a paper pieced project) and may play along.

And that was actually my "new business".  So, in old news I want to share some of my Christmas presents from this year that I couldn't share before the holiday without ruining some surprises.  I made several pants bag ala Jennifer at Glinda Quilts.  I was gifted one of these by Jen and absolutely love it.  She shared a tutorial at the link above.  Here are my versions:
The one in the upper left was made with the circle attachment on my sewing machine.  Turns out that it is easy to work and really awesome!  I don't know why I waited so long to try it out.  The three on the bottom left were made for the sock monkey recipients from earlier last year. 

I also made a few potholders and two aprons (which I forgot to take pictures of).
So, I'm off to work on some blocks for my Country Threads BOM project.  I actually have the December blocks done but haven't had a chance to take pictures.  AND.....if anyone is keeping score, I've finished my step one of Bonnie Hunter's mystery quilt.  She had a surprise reveal on New Year's day and I'm slowly putting the blocks together....more about that later.