Monthly Archives: April 2016

Accountability

The good thing about publicizing a goal is that it makes one somewhat accountable.  The bad thing about publicizing a goal is that it makes one somewhat accountable.  Several years ago I joined a marathon training group in Oakville, Ontario.  The leader urged us to shout to the world that we’d signed up to run a marathon.  By doing so we’d become excited and it would explain why we were going to run hundreds of training miles, often in terrible weather.  More than that, because everyone knew about the goal, it would be very hard to slack off and/or miss workouts.

From 2005 to 2007 I trained with a group of seven gals who were all, like me, training to complete a first Ironman race.  We called ourselves the FAB’s, or Fu**ing Accountability Buddies.  Feeling lazy?  Too bad, they’re waiting for you.  Partied too hard last night?  You should have thought of that, because they’re waiting for you.  Of course they were also there if you got a flat tire, struggled on a hill or just wanted company on a long session.  That group has changed; I moved away, some found other interests and one sadly lost a battle with breast cancer.

This past weekend I had a minor, really minor, spill off my bike at the end of a 70km ride.  I got some bruises, a sore neck and a couple of slightly sprained fingers.  Oh, and a lot of wounded pride!  I spent a day wondering whether it was time to pack in the training and just not race this year, or maybe ever.

Then I remembered how much I enjoy race day and the level of fitness that goes with getting there.   I’ve hit the reset button and will continue to train as hard as is appropriate on a given day.  Who knows what race day will bring?  My plan is to be there at the start line to see.  I no longer have Team FAB, but I feel accountable to myself and know that giving up isn’t an option.

Related, in a way – I posted last week, while I was watching Jordan Spieth at the Masters’ Golf Championship.  While I was writing, Jordan was far ahead of all of the other golfers and seemed destined to win his second straight Masters’.  Things went south for Jordan and, try as he might, he couldn’t recover; he tied for second.  As a professional athlete Jordan is accountable to sponsors, media and fans.  Ultimately, though, he’s accountable only to himself – at 22, tough to grasp.  He’s still FABulous in my books!

As always, thanks for reading.

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Start To Finish #5 – Quilting

I wasn’t going to write any more posts about this project until it was all done.  However, today was such a great day that I just had to share.  Let me back up a few days to last Wednesday.  I made use of our large kitchen island to pin the top, batting and backing together.  The quilt right now is approximately 84″ x 90″ and I needed 400+ pins to pin baste it together.  That’s about 2 hours of pinning!

While I was buying the pins, I picked up a spool of Superior King Tut thread in colour ‘Sunflowers’.  I’d planned to go safe dull, and use grey thread, but when I saw this variegated yellow I just knew it was the one.  It’s so cheery!

The other day I read someone’s blog post, (can’t remember whose), and there were terrific instructions on how to quilt something so large on a domestic sewing machine.  I followed that method and it was a breeze.  My machine loves the Superior thread and there were no tension issues – for me or for the machine.

Because the quilt is so linear I wanted the quilting to be curvy and decided to try a paisley pattern.  After practicing on a small sample, it was time for the real thing.  It took a while to get into the groove and lots of the paisleys look, well, not like paisleys, but they’re fine. The quilting is one-quarter done and it’s really been fun.  Honestly, if it hadn’t gotten too dark in the sewing room, I’d be up there all night long.  Here’s a sneak preview:

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Thanks for reading!

Waste Not, Want Not

My mother was ‘green’; reducing, reusing and recycling years before it was the thing to do.  We washed and reused foil, we reused paper lunch bags until they were ragged.  The oven only got turned on if there were several things to bake, lights were flicked off when we left a room and the dishwasher had to be really full before it was started.  We had a huge, braided circular rug that Mom made out of strips of wool yardage.

As a surly teenager I didn’t appreciate the importance of all of this.  In fact, I probably thought it was pretty uncool.  However, as soon as I left home, I tried to be as responsible as I could.  I use fabric shopping bags, favour products with minimal packaging, take the bus whenever possible, make my own granola and, yes, I wash and reuse foil!

When I got interested in quilting I said that there would be no ‘stash’ of fabric.  I’d only have what I need for the current project.  That didn’t work so well – the stash is excessive and now I’m back to buying only what I need for a current project.

A lot of scrap is created during the making of a quilt and I’m trying to find a use for all the bits and pieces.  Here’s a wall hanging that is made from the selvedges, or bound edges of fabric:

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The selvedges are always cut off before using a piece of fabric, as they are tightly woven and would cause the project to pucker.  Also, as you can see, they have writing on them – the name of the fabric, the designer and the mill where they were made.  For someone who loves words and language I find these fascinating and will continue to collect them.  This little hanging is about 24″ x 24″ and I named it ‘Salvaged Selvedges’.

I’ve also begun saving scraps of fabric, thread and batting and plan to use them as stuffing for a dog bed.  Still working on the logistics of that one, but I hope to have it figured out soon.  Tug thinks it’s a good idea!

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I’m happy to say that the Postage Stamp Quilt is well under way and it’s such fun to pick up and work on for an hour or so.  The finished size will be 64″ x 72″, or 4,608 pieces.  I’m really loving this project and it’s using up lots of little bits.  Here’s one block that is 16″ x 16″:

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It’s going to take a while to whittle down my stock of fabric.  I look at some of it now and wonder whatever possessed me to buy it.  Those pieces will go to a fabric exchange or to the Salvation Army and someone else can enjoy them.  Nothing new will be purchased and I’ll be left with an uncluttered place to create.

After I hit the ‘publish’ button on this post I’m going to spend some time organizing the  8,000+ photos on my laptop.  It’s a perfect job to do while watching the amazing Jordan Spieth as he heads toward a back to back win at The Masters.  Incredible golfer with such poise, and he’s only 22!

Thanks for reading.

Start To Finish #4 – The Back

I have such trouble with the back of a quilt.  The front comes from an idea or a pattern.  I have fun putting it together, and it almost always works the way I’d hoped.  The back is hard because I feel that it should be as good or as interesting as the flip side.  It should be worthy of being seen, not ‘just the back’.

My current colours of India quilt is exciting, vibrant and bright.  I was thrilled to find three fabrics for the back that I thought would be complementary.  They had an Indian feel; with paisleys, swirly flowers and gold threads.  I washed and pressed them and then fooled around with a layout.  It was all carefully measured and well sewn/pressed.  But it was awful!  Almost so bad that I don’t want to share it, but here it is:

What’s wrong with it?  There’s too much going on.  Any one of the fabrics on their own would be fine, but not all three.  The orange with gold flower would have been awesome.  Also, it’s pieced that way because I didn’t buy quite enough length – because I didn’t have a plan.  (This is a mistake that I’ve made before and hope not to make again.)

Here are some backs that I’m happy with:

There’s some interest, but they don’t steal the show.  If the quilt ended up folded over or upside down it wouldn’t be a bad thing.  The piecing is necessary because fabric isn’t usually wide enough to back anything more than 40″.  Adding bits and pieces disguises the seams.

Returning to the quilt of the moment – the colours of India.  I bit the bullet and went in search of all new fabric for the back.  I had great help in one of the local shops.  The clerk and I found the perfect fabric, but when he went to cut it, we found a flaw ran through the entire bolt.  (I was shocked when the manager said that she knew it was flawed, but was prepared to sell it at full price, without flagging it as flawed.  hmmmm.)  I had better luck at another shop and made my purchase.  It’s been washed, dried and pressed.  Tomorrow I’ll piece it and then, with Blake’s help, I’ll pin the top, the batting and the backing together.  Then it will go away for a bit while I decide how to quilt it.

I’ve just reread this post and feel a need to add a disclaimer of sorts.  The back of this quilt won’t have different colours or fabrics.  It will be all one fabric with seams that won’t be disguised with bits and pieces.  What I’ve chosen just feels like the right thing, all by itself.  There won’t be a third attempt.

Stay tuned for the next post, which should be the final one for this project.  It could be a while.  In the meantime, I’m trying to think of a name for this quilt, other than ‘Colours of India’.  I like ‘Memories of India’ but President’s Choice has a line of marinades – ‘Memories of Korea, Szechuan, Tuscany, Argentina’ etc – so that won’t work.  I welcome any suggestions.

Thanks for reading.