Thursday, February 19, 2015

Cold Comfort

Some of you may be feeling sorry for those of us in the Deep Freeze, either here in the Midwest ("Chi-beria") or over there on the east coast. Don't.

It was -8 degrees when I woke up today.  Pretty darn cold.  My sister-in-law is in Florida right now and, like many, has been there awhile in order to avoid this Chicago winter of ours. She invited me to go with her but I declined. She keeps sending me pictures of all the fun she's having in the sun. Don't get me wrong, they're nice and I'm glad she's having fun but I'm not really envious. Actually, we're okay here. More than okay. We're kind of used to this weather. And we've still got sun. Supposed to get all the way up to 4 degrees later.

Can't imagine where the Weather Channel is getting their pictures from . . . .

The real view.

I'm sitting on the sofa right now, curled up in a quilt, wearing my pink fuzzy socks, drinking coffee and beginning to work on the binding for a small quilt I started a long time ago. Life is good, I think to myself.

A few days ago I also became inspired to quilt then finish my little Valentine's Day quilt so I'm on a quilting/finishing roll again.

It felt good to finish something I'd started for a change. Yesterday, I looked at my stack of small quilt tops and half-finished quilts and wondered why I usually just reach a certain point and then quit. Some of them I actually like. No good reason I guess, except that I buy fabric then become inspired to try new projects pretty often and those push the others into the background, then the Unfinished drawer. Many of them I know will not even take that long to finish. So, I pulled out an old one and decided now was as good a time as any to finish something small. 

Anyway, yes, it's cold here. But, for some reason I don't ever mind. I guess I'm just a natural home body. My nesting instinct really kicks in during the winter and every winter I find a strange comfort in the extreme cold. I'm lucky to be able to work at home so I don't have to go anywhere. I don't have an outdoor job - unless you consider standing out in the back yard every hour on the hour, watching the little dog, making sure she doesn't get dragged off by a hawk or coyote my outdoor job. (It kind of IS now that I think about it . . . . )

My husband is working from home today, my daughter came home a couple of days ago to "nurse" a cold or the flu (actually, I am the one doing the nursing . . . . ) and is resting on the other sofa, the dog is curled up next to her, the coffee's hot and I have my sewing to do. It's kind of quiet and cozy here. What could be better? I wouldn't trade it for Florida, that's for sure. 

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Four Patches for a Small Quilt

I've been playing with fabric scraps and making some four-patch blocks for the past week. The more I play, the more inspired I get. The four-patch block thing started with the current issue of American Patchwork and Quilting magazine. They’re doing a sew along for some pretty quilts that use four-patch blocks in this issue (April).

I may not have time to make a really large quilt like some of those in the magazine, but I was able to whip up some four patches and make something of my own design. Something small and cute for Valentine's Day.

I always Think Pink this time of year, probably a carryover from decorating the house with hearts and  making valentines with my kids when they were young.  It was always a very exciting time for my school-age children as I recall.  The possibility of "secret" valentines, candy, parties, etc.

So, after becoming inspired to make four patches I went looking through my scraps and picked out some pretty left over pink and red pieces. Then  some shirtings. Some squares were already sewn into four patches, can you imagine? My project was already started for me!

The four patches wanted to be made into a little strippy quilt. I had a hard time deciding what thread to use for the quilting.

Finally went with cream colored thread. It's looking good and I got some quilting done on it the other day. With a little luck, I'll be able to finish it before Valentine's Day. Thanks, APQ,  for helping to inspire me to make my little quilt.

 Why not try making something with little four patches yourself this weekend? Pick up the magazine for more four patch inspiration. Just Go Four It.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Winter Walking

I love snowy weather and we sure got enough of it here in the Chicago area a few days ago. They said it was one of the highest snowfalls we've had in years. You know me -  I have to post snow pictures at least once every year.

There's no place to put it all.

Our dog is little and the snow is deep -  about 19 inches. I have to shovel paths in the back yard so she can run around. A little more every day. Can't possibly manage it all at once. Fun to watch her navigate in the snow.

I love the snow so much I even like to walk in it. Our neighborhood streets are plowed but that's boring. And the salt burns the dog's paws. Unfortunately, the down side to living this close to the city is that there aren't a lot of places to hang out in nature, in any kind of weather. I live in Illinois - it's not like we're close to mountains or anything. There are plenty of forest preserves nearby but they're kind of desolate and I hesitate to go walking there all alone. Sorry, I'm not brave like Cheryl Strayed of  "Wild" fame. (Good movie, though. Better book, read it twice.) I'm also pretty sure they don't plow the forest preserve hiking trails in winter either. 

I am lucky enough to live near the Chicago Botanic Garden, however, so that was the perfect solution for my spur of the moment desire to be outdoors the other day. Sure it was cold, but I bundled up and had a great time and got my snow fix and my "nature" fix and some invigorating exercise to boot. 

View of the lake


The afternoon light lent a blue cast to the snow at times.

The English Walled Garden

The greenhouses are warm inside.

Paths! All throughout the garden - and I didn't have to shovel them!

Surprisingly, there were quite a few others hanging around the gardens that afternoon, judging from the amount of cars in the parking lot (apparently I'm not the only fool for snow) but it's a large enough place that I didn't really run into many people. Nice and quiet and pretty too but you can be sure I'm not going to mention the words "Winter Wonderland" or some of you who hate winter will have had enough of me and my silly talk for one day. (More next year.)

Friday, January 30, 2015

End of January: 1. Finish Small Quilt. Check!

I finished my January small quilt challenge a few days ago, just under the wire! Remember, we were making small quilts using disappearing four-patch blocks in my Yahoo small quilt group? There's a tutorial I posted earlier this month for making the blocks, below. They're quick and easy and quite fun to make.

I don't know what possessed me to use a light print for the setting triangles since I often use a darker setting, but I think it turned out well and I like the contrast between the light print and the tan. First, I tried an indigo, then a poison green, and also a chrome yellow fabric (!) for the binding and I thought they all looked good with the blue but sort of bold for me. So I chickened out and went with red checks. Now I call it "Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm." Somehow it fits. 

The quilting isn't perfect but it's always still fun to do. I'm a long, long way from being a master hand quilter but there's nothing more relaxing than sitting down with a cup of tea and doing some handiwork on a small project. We've been watching Grantchester, on Masterpiece Mystery, and enjoying it very much. About a crime-solving Anglican priest in a small English town, it puts me in the Hands to Work, Hearts to God sort of mode, LOL. Gotta love any show with a handsome vicar and the English countryside as a backdrop, even if there are murders (and romance, of course) very week. It's on Sundays after Downton Abbey. You should watch.



James Norton as Sydney Chambers, the Vicar of Grantchester, riding his bike all over town, solving mysteries and flirting with the ladies. (But it's okay, vicars can marry and he's a bachelor.)

On Instagram* today, Martha Stewart asked her followers to comment on what they'll be making for Superbowl Sunday. I ALMOST shot back:  "A Quilt!" but that's probably not what she had in mind so I didn't.  I'll be watching Episode 3 of Grantchester this Sunday, perhaps quilting another small quilt. I've only got, like, 15 tops that I still need to finish . . . . Hope there are enough good mysteries on PBS this year.

*I'm loving Instagram! There are so many talented, creative people out there and it's fun to connect with some of you in this way. Thanks for following me.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Keeping Up

I am always just a little bit behind on social media. No, I do NOT keep up with the Kardashians. Took me years to get a blog, then a Facebook page, Pinterest page, long after everyone else was doing it. Everyone seems to be having fun on Instagram these days, however, showing off their photos of quilts they've made. I just made the jump to an Instagram account and hope you'll follow me if you are also on it. Or join so you can see some of my stuff.  

What is Instagram?

Instagram is a fun and quirky way to share with friends through a series of pictures captured with your mobile device. Snap a photo with your phone, add a comment, then choose a filter to transform the image into a memory and upload it to your Instagram page. One more way to connect with the rest of the world. I have a lot of fun connecting with quilters from all over on Facebook, my Yahoo group and the blog so why not Instagram as well? 

You will discover that there are some awesome quilters and photos on Instagram and they have wonderful filters so you can enhance your pictures in many different ways. In order to "Like" someone or post a comment you do have to be a member by downloading the app free from the Apple App Store (for iPhones) or Google Play (or your android phone). 

I know, I know - what perfect timing I have. Instagram has been in the news lately because Taylor Swift's Instagram account was just hacked. Hacked! Oh, my goodness. Some hackers posted a message that did not come from her. But she survived and got her account back up. Clearly I am no Taylor Swift and there are no nude photos of me hiding out there in Internetland so I don't think I have anything to worry about. But why oh why didn't they go after the Kardashians and shut them down instead??

Hope to connect with some of you on Instagram. Keep in mind, you can't use this kind of phone . . . . (although, since I never had one as a teenager, I still would like a vintage Princess phone in blue someday.)

Visit me -  (or click the link on the blog sidebar). If you already have an account, just search for Kathleen Tracy. (But remember - I am not the Kathleen Tracy who sings or the Kathleen Tracy who writes celebrity biographies. It's a popular name, what can I say.). I'm sure I'll be #hashtagging "small quilts" all over the place as soon as I figure out exactly what that means . . . . 

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

If You Give a Mouse a Cookie . . . .

Seriously.  Clutter is stress-inducing  ~  & not just in a house ...  in life too.

Yep, William Morris got it right and I am taking his words much more seriously this year. A new year, a new creative spirit. As a quilter, I'm visually oriented, and I like to surround myself with pretty things. It's good for my spirit.

From organizing my pins into cute containers came another good idea: Let's go to Ikea!

Don't go there if you have silly notions rattling around in your head about buying a couple of containers to organize your sewing things. By the time I was through it took 2 trips and quite a few hours and ended in an overhaul of my sewing space. 

Honest, I just bought a few things  : )  And I'm working hard to get it all together. I felt I needed to carry over the "beautiful things" from the other rooms in my house into my sewing space a little more. Wish I could afford Pottery Barn. No reason inexpensive and functional can't also be inspirational and pleasing to your creative spirit (and budget) though. 

At first, I just wanted a new sewing table that was longer and deeper. My old one was too short and small and I always felt cramped on either side. And I wanted it near a window for the natural light. Last year I had a plan and we started clearing out my son's old room (He's got an apartment now so he'll never come back, right? Hah!). But the window needed new curtains . . . . Then I also had to buy a few more pretty organizers for my things. And some shelves. A new cutting table too, perhaps? You get the picture. If You Give a Mouse a Cookie kind of thing. (If you give a quilter a pretty table she'll create something to go with it.) 

                                 If you Give a Mouse a Cookie.jpg 

(The book both my kids loved when they were toddlers -  A boy gives a cookie to a mouse. The mouse asks for a glass of milk. He then requests a straw (to drink the milk), a mirror (to avoid a milk mustache), nail scissors (to trim his hair in the mirror), and a broom (to sweep up his hair trimmings). Next he wants to take a nap, to have a story read to him, to draw a picture, and to hang the drawing on the refrigerator. Looking at the refrigerator makes him thirsty, so the mouse asks for a glass of milk. The circle is complete when he wants a cookie to go with it.)

I'm not nearly finished yet but now everything is prettier (and lighter) than it used to be and I really am feeling more creative. That can't be bad. I'm taking my time - I'll get some quilts up on the walls and organize my fabric a little better. Find some pretty, cheap bins at Target. And because I just can't create in a messy space, I'll keep it nice and clean. (Please don't think that when my space gets too messy, I just create another new one, somewhere else, LOL.) 

No reason you can't have a pretty container for your snipped threads. This pink basket makes me smile  : )

When I'm finished with my needles, pins, scissors they'll go back into the organizer tray. So I can find things again.

*  *  *  *

You gotta love Ikea -  where else can you find a robin's egg blue dresser?

Wonder if I can talk my husband into painting the furniture in our bedroom robin's egg blue?? Better yet, maybe I'll do it myself someday and see if he even notices anything's changed . . . . .


Related Posts with Thumbnails