Thursday, September 24, 2009

The Learning Curve

I am finding that I simply love Mondays and Tuesdays. Selfishly, those are the days I typically don't work, don't volunteer at school, and have the most time to myself. I've been rather frenzied these last Mondays and Tuesdays -- going for sinfully delicious bike rides, tank top and shorts hikes on the beach and through the Fort (it's been hot this week!), sampling some crazy Steve Ross TV yoga workouts, with bursts of house-cleaning, laundry and of course...sewing.

This past Monday, I finally started grabbing some fabric out of the closet to give curved piecing a try. At first, I was going to pick some gunky old fabric just to see how it would work, but I compromised and used some mostly inexpensive fabric I picked up a while ago at *gasp* JoAnn's! Here are the results:

I'm going to give this basic pattern a try for a refreshing aqua/blue number. I'm a few cuts into some of my yardage, and my rotary skills are a little rusty - I've got wonky-edges! Sounds like I need to focus on better ironing and more aabeisance to Goddess Just-So.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

UFO Thursday

What was I thinking? That's what I've been wondering about all afternoon after I pulled this unfinished KING-SIZED quilt top out of a UFO pile. For the life of me, I can't remember why I decided to make this quilt top so big. I think this was my 3rd quilt project - which means I probably made this in 2002. I know we didn't have a King-sized bed back then -- we were still 2 years away from welcoming Graham into the world, and still lived in our small Uptown house with bedrooms far too small for a bed that big.

I do know that I followed the directions for this "Roman Square" from my much-loved copy of Quilts! Quilts!! Quilts!!! by McClun/Nownes. I imagine I must have bought all my fabric downtown at the now-defunct Quilter's Cove, but I must have used a lot of fat quarters, as I don't have too many of these fabrics left in my stash. Perhaps it was the blissful idiot-joy of strip piecing which grew this top so big - whirrr, whirrr, whirrr goes the sewing machine, endlessly, endlessly. I had to iron out a few wrinkles before I took the picture, and came away kind of impressed with my fabric choices, I used a lot of small scale, old-fashioned fabrics - a look I've never really repeated. Perhaps I got it out of my system?

I've still got a King-sized hunk of wool batting lurking in the garage, and even some green gingham backing fabric to finish this up. Now that I've machine-quilted a Queen size, would I be able to tackle a quilt this big? More decisions.

One thing this trip back down the memory (or lack thereof) trail has put into focus is one of the shames of my parenting career so almost complete lack of written recollections of what/who/where the boys were as they were growing up. I comforted myself with the notion that I really was living mindfully, and loving/cherishing/honoring each stage, but as this quilt top shows, one forgets.

And so, without further ado - a Summer 2009 recap!

I remember looking forward to summer beak with happy anticipation - I had grown weary of the grind of getting the boys off to school, picking Graham up at 1:00; then driving back to school to pick up Hayden at 3:30. I calculated I made around 700 trips in my green station wagon for this just-over-a-mile journey. Boo! to dreary routnine! Boo! to finding shoes and jackets and packing lunches in a hurry! Boo! to cajoling Hayden to do his homework or practice his violin!

One of the first things we did that vacation was go out to Graysmarsh Farm to pick strawberries. The boys were so cooperative and pleasant and fun to be with, I remember thinking "huh, this parenting gig is certainly getting easier - where's the drama? the tantrums? the changing of poopy diapers on the ground between the rows? Where are the tears?" Alas, there was none. We picked 20 pounds of strawberries that day!

My joke was that the boys were 'homeschooling' that summer, as I hadn't signed them up for a lot of camps or activities, but after all, they were kept pretty busy. Hayden went to Centrum's Fiddle Tunes camp for a week, we took swimming lessons for two weeks (blissfully, both boys lessons were at the same time!) and at the end of the summer, Hayden did a week long a.m. soccer camp.

In past summers' one of my biggest issues was the feeling of being trapped at home, either due to infancy and frequent napping, to a highly labile toddler, or to post partum depression (THAT was a fun summer!) My strategy for bypassing this this year was to go running in the morning before John went to work. It worked blissfully and brilliantly. The early summer weather was delightful and dry, and the scenic jaw-dropping wonderment of my runs through Fort Worden, and it's nearby neighborhoods was reliably delightful. Crows, crows, crows, raven, deer, bunnies (!) and coyote scat were nearly daily sightings. My wintertime-spring walking regimen found me in pretty good shape, so the uptick to not feeling horrid each time I ran was not too long. Plus, I had what I began to think of as my "moral superiority" to keep me warm the rest of the day knowing that I had already worked out and been a good fitness gal before even eating breakfast. Sadly, at the end of July, I injured my hamstring - a boo-boo I still haven't really fixed.

Another key to the enjoyment of this summer was the boys' delightful and nearly constant, good-natured and easy relationship with one another. For hours they would build and re-build and role-play with their Legos and the various contraptions they built. I was left to a puttering presence, wandering about the house doing laundry, cleaning, cooking, baking and sewing.

Usually by the mid-afternoon we would rally and go to the beach, or a park, or a playdate. We were low-tech at the beach this year, almost always riding bikes down there, with Graham and our gear in the bike trailer. We had a couple of nice plastic shovels and some old buckets at the beginning of the season, but after that...sticks, hands and sheer exuberance carried the day. Moms and occasionally a dad or a nanny stretched out on blankets and discussed gender spectrum issues, the sad fate of local teenagers or the many uses of supermarket rotisserie chicken.

Other events for the summer included our first County Fair -- with pony rides, giant slides, a bouncy castle, kettle corn and Pepsi's. The boys' first drive-inn movie - Up! which Hayden and Graham both proclaimed was "ok," some 60 pounds of fresh-picked fruit and a total of zero sunburns. By the end of each day I was pretty calm and happy, and although I was rarely in the mood to cook, somehow we all got fed.

Next summer? Hopefully a lot like this one. Maybe Graham will really want to learn to ride a bike, maybe Hayden will get over his vehement opposition to a bike ride longer than three blocks, and hopefully they'll both continue to play together so cooperatively and harmoniously.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Mini Quilt Monday

I've been dithering and a-dithering over finishing up the queen-sized nine-patch, first, trying to come up with suitable backing fabric in the right quantities, and then agonizing over border quilting styles and finally, fretting about choosing the perfect binding fabric. Enough already! Just finish the darn thing!

As part of my dithering, I sewed up this little darlin' - a lovely maquette made to not only test out the quilting I intended to do on the nine-patch, but also to see how my aqua, blue and green fabrics for my next quilt were going to get along. Quite delightfully, I'd say. This little quilt 18-1/2" x 20-1/2" reminds me of clean laundry on the line on a hot summer's day, or a freshly ironed white cotton shirt right after you've put it on, and before you've spilled a commuter cup of coffee down the front of it on your way to work.

Oh, I also pieced the back of it a little, and was pleased to see that my quilting came out right in the center of the squares - hard to plan, but I tried! Today marks my first full Monday with both adorable boys in school. I've got vacuuming and laundry and yoga and cooking and bike-riding on the agenda, as well as plenty of sewing, stay tuned!