Sunday, March 25, 2012

Whoops.

I haven't been doing anything craft-related in an entire week.
It isn't because of work (although there have been a few late nights), it isn't because Tim & I joined a bowling league (although we did), it isn't because I haven't felt motivated (springtime does tend to push back depression a bit).
I'm blaming this on The Hunger Games.
A couple weeks ago, I was traipsing about amazon.com, exploring what the site believed I'd be interested in. For the most part, they're pretty accurate. (I'm not sure if this should be a good or bad thing, that a company can have me profiled so well.) One of the items was The Hunger Games, and since I noticed a movie tie-in edition, I decided to explore further. It looked interesting, and so I ordered the entire boxed set.
Monday afternoon, it arrived.
Thursday night, I'd finished the first book.
In the wee hours of Saturday morning, I'd finished Catching Fire.
And today, I finished Mockingjay.

So, now I can return to the real world, and anticipate the film arriving in Japan.

I might even get some crafting done.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Moving right along...

Despite working slightly extended hours this week, I managed to get another panel done on the new quilt. Then again, appliqueing the prints really does save tons of time. (Thank you, Kelli, for pointing that out!)
Music helps, too. For instance, I managed to get this 18" square completely done in less than 5 minutes 20 seconds.

How do I know this? I started right at the beginning of Eddie Vedder's Hard Sun (it's from the Into The Wild soundtrack, if you aren't familiar with it), and the square was finished before the song. (Yes, I do mean pinned & appliqued, with time to take a picture in the middle.)

The next square did take longer despite being half the size. This was largely due to the print itself, which demanded I turn it this way and that to get it going in just the right direction. Oh, and Trapt provided the background for it.
And then, Semisonic helped me finish it off with the gorgeous purple:
Seriously, I cannot imagine cutting these fabrics any smaller. Large-scale prints like this beg to stay in large pieces.

--Oh yeah, Mumford & Sons has been singing to me while I write this post. It's been a wonderful evening.

Linking to WIP Wednesdays at Freshly Pieced. Check out the button on my sidebar if you're curious.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

My first sock!

The reason I decided to start knitting again was simple: I wanted to knit socks. This idea was initially planted several years ago by my dear friend Gina, who manages to make all things crafty look simple. I thought it might be neat to try, but just never got around to it while I was still stateside because of my anti-knitting attitude. (I blame the staff at that yarn store in Ventura for this. You can figure out which one I mean. There's only one store that sells exclusively yarn.)
Then I got to Japan, started knitting, and started thinking about socks again. And then I was exploring different yarns on Ravelry, and...
Have you seen how awesome sock yarn can be? I think it's amazing.

So here' my first sock:
And yes, there will be a second one to match. Hopefully with a bit more polish to it, too.
Yay!

The New Quilt

Yesterday, I was able to do whatever I wanted all day. This meant watching movies and working on the new quilt. I still haven't figured out what to call it yet.
Anyway, I've had the fabric for a few weeks but I hadn't started yet, probably because I was a bit nervous of this thing:
 See, when I was calculating yardage, I realized I needed about 11.5 yards of solid fabric in addition to the prints. When I settled on this color (it's Bella Solids by Moda in Tranquil Aqua, if you're wondering), I was all set to just buy 12 yards (I'd rather have too much than not enough). Then I realized the discount on an order of 15 yards would be cheaper than 12.
At no point did it occur to me that 15 yards meant an entire bolt. 15 yards doesn't really compute in my head. I blame working in metric for this lapse in mental process. (Yes, I know how long 15 meters is. Let me blame the metric system anyway.)

Really, I was a bit intimidated by that thing. And it was a pretty darn big bit.
But this weekend, the sun was out, Tim was asleep, the movie had a good soundtrack...and I felt brave.

I'd already decided on a couple things with this project:
-I'll be doing this "Quilt-as-you-go" style. It's going to be a queen-size quilt, and my little Brother machine has a small harp space. Really small. As in, a twin-size quilt would be tough to fit, doing straight-line quilting. Forget about free-motion.
-I'm going to applique the prints, instead of piecing them. Why? Because I want to. Because it won't have visible breaks in the print patterns. Because it will still look nice. Because I won't screw up my math. Because I sometimes have issues with matching seams. Because I can. Because I feel like it.
Is that cheating? ....possibly. But if I have fun, and it looks good in the end, isn't that all that matters? I'd rather "cheat" at this and enjoy the process, than do it "the right way" and tear my hair out in the process.
Here's the justification on it looking good:
These are the first two squares on the first panel. See how it overlaps? If I pieced this, there would be a visible break in the pattern on the orange square. (Yes, I could have gotten extra fabric and taken great care to match the pattern...but really, I have neither the time nor the inclination to do that.)
Here's the next two squares:
Again, I have an overlap. Why worry about cutting so many pieces and then perfectly matching them up again? I'll stick with the applique. Besides, it's so much fun!
We'll see what else I manage to get done today...


Linked to Quilt Story's Fabric Tuesday!  Check out the latest button to hit my sidebar.

I get to do whatever I want? All day long?

Tim woke me up this morning by bringing me breakfast and coffee. An hour later he decided he'd been awake for too long (about 20 hours, as near as I can guess), and went to bed.

So what did I do?

-3 loads of laundry. This may sound mundane, but it's a big deal to me. Our Japanese washing machine is small capacity, and the dryer is so tiny it can't handle more than 3kg.
That's one towel.
So everything has to be line-dried (which I prefer, to be honest)...and given the recent rainy weather we've had, the clothes usually hang on my drying rack in the LDK, which really only has space for about 2 loads.
Today was nice and sunny and warm, so I was able to hang everything outside. That means I was able to wash more clothes.

-Watched movies starring Heath Ledger. Specifically, "10 Things I Hate About You" and "A Knight's Tale." I love both of these movies; if you haven't seen the first, it's a modern retelling of Shakespeare's "Taming of the Shrew" and it is hilarious. If you haven't seen the second, it's an adventure movie about a would-be knight set in the middle ages, with a classic rock soundtrack-which I believe just adds to its awesomeness.

-Started another quilt. This one came at my husband's request; I was playing with colored pencils and graph paper last month, and he liked the look. His exact words were: "That is so asymmetrical it's symmetrical. You should make that next."

Then I saw Kate Spain's Good Fortune line of fabric and I knew I had to. So the fabric pictured above is being chopped up and re-sewn into something big enough to be a bedspread.

Friday, March 9, 2012

More Coasters!

Despite my recent bout of depression, I have managed to complete a couple little items.
Like these coasters:
I have to say, I'm not thrilled with how the binding turned out. I tried something new, and it didn't work so well for me...but these were meant for our house, anyway, so it's no problem.
Actually, I tried a couple things new with these.
For one, I strip-pieced them. That's not really new for me, but I remembered to take a picture this time:
Then, I played around with free motion quilting. I did the green ones in a bubble pattern, the blue took stippling, and the pink...well, it was supposed to be a kind of angular stippling, but I need some more practice, I think.
Another new experiment:
See it? Yes! The backs are fussy-cut. At least, two of them are. I didn't exactly have a lot of scrap fabric to make these, so I did the best I could.
Overall, I'm happy with how they turned out, and Tim says "they fly well," so they must be ok.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Fumbling for words

It's been a while since my last post.
There are many reasons for this, but the most honest reason is that I haven't really felt like it. I haven't really felt like doing anything recently. Last Thursday marked 6 months in Japan, and I still don't like it here.
If you think that my not liking where I live is why I have so many projects going on...you're right.
If you think that I'm not trying hard enough to like where I live...you might be right. If you can't understand how someone could dislike living in Japan...you haven't visited this town. I'm a city girl. This is not a city. It's an over-sized town.
I'm blaming my current malaise on the advancement exam that I took last week. For the third time. And I still have no hope that I will get promoted.
---For those of you unfamiliar with how the Navy promotes enlisted personnel, it is based on points system. Annual performance evaluations give you points, as do awards earned and the amount of time you have been in the service. A huge chunk of the points comes from the Navy-wide Advancement Exam, which is administered to eligible personnel every 6 months. If you aren't promoted, you take it again 6 months later.
I've taken this thing 3 times. Every time, I score in the top 5%. I have very good evaluations, and I have earned a few awards. But the Navy is not promoting Petty Officers in my current job rating at this time. So, I can't get promoted.

It's a little disheartening.
And it spills over into the rest of my life.
Which doesn't help me like this town any more than I already do.
It also doesn't help me work on things that I would otherwise really want to do...such as the queen size quilt I intend to make with the Good Fortune fabrics I purchased last month. And the skirt I started. And the apron I want to make.

The good news is, this feeling does go away after a while. Pretty soon I will be a busy bee again.
Just not right now.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Woo-hoo!

Today is a good day.
For starters, it's Friday, which means the weekend has finally arrived!

Also, I made it through the advancement exam without panicking (well, not too much, anyway).

Tomorrow is the Seabee Ball! Celebrating 70 years of Building & Fighting. It's my 5th Seabee Ball (I missed 2010 due to food poisoning), and Tim's 2nd.

There have been 500 visits to this blog as of today, which makes me pretty happy. Still no followers, but at least someone's reading!

And, I linked up my entry to the Modern Mini Quilt Challenge. You see that button on the right hand side of the screen? Click it. (You know you want to.) I'm about as hopeful of winning the challenge as being promoted this spring, but at least I'm trying. On both counts.

Anyway, since I haven't taken any photographs of my WIPs, I'll leave you with a photo from last year's Seabee Ball at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, CA. (wow that just looks like too many capitalized letters in one line...oh well.)