06 March 2012

Deadline Dilemma

Crafts, yarn, sewing, photos... I still can't believe we fit all this in my tiny apartment!!!

I think I must be the queen of unfinished projects. This is my UFO (unfinished objects) stash, photos and stuff with which to make things.

One of my 2012 goals is to finish one WIP (work in progress) a month. More than that if I can.

Most knitted and crocheted projects are easier to finish up in a month. I finished the Noro skirt during last month's drive to Utah; easy as could be, all it needed was a waistband, which I completed in less than two hours. A stash of unfinished snowflakes and finished snowflakes with no written patterns lives atop my computer desk. If I just pick one up before writing in my journal each night, or even just once a week, I could whip them all out quickly and easily. (And that is where a huge chunk of my WIP attention has been diverted since January 1. I'm making great progress!) Snowflakes almost feel like cheating, though, because they are so speedy when compared to other things. Such as quilts...

Quilting projects take a bit more devotion. For years, my excuse was not enough room in my tiny apartment to set up my quilting frame. I basted my lizard quilt on the back of The Lizard's pickup truck in the parking lot because there wasn't enough room anywhere in the apartment for a full-size quilt to be laid out! Oh, how I wish I'd taken photos of that process. Maybe I'll repeat it again one day just to show off what I can do in a bind! Now we have a house, and the "not enough room" excuse doesn't fly anymore.

Hawaiian Applique Quilt Squares

I love to quilt. I really do. I simply don't seem to make enough time for it, especially since I undertook this self-imposed goal of publishing a new snowflake pattern every Monday. Summertime and good weather are monopolized by the bicycle and the camera, no complaints. Wintertime has been a challenge because I always put blankets up over the window above the sewing machine to seal in the heat. The remaining dim light doesn't do much for my enthusiasm or my creativity.

Recently the concept of "man cave" has become extremely popular. I decided mentally transforming my sewing area into a Woman Cave might be the solution. If I could just tie my body to the quilting chair for a while, I'd rediscover the passion, and I'd no longer be intimidated by my poorly lit quilt station. During a day of our mostly snowed-out Utah vacation in February, I forced myself to do some piecing and appliquéing, and surprisingly, I had a ball! I love my Woman Cave now! Attitude is EVERYTHING.

Woman Cave

I wanted to finish the snowflake quilt I began back in about 1995 or 1996 (or perhaps even earlier) for this year's Denver National Quilt Festival when I first rediscovered the project last year. Next thing I knew, it was February, I hadn't worked on the project at all, and only a month remained to get photos of a finished-looking quilt in the mail. I re-evaluated my quilting projects to see if there was anything I could finish faster and not put as much pressure on myself.

This is the handy quilt top rack my father-in-law custom built to house my unfinished treasures. I told him what I needed, I told him what kind of cactus I wanted it to look like, and this is what he made!

custom quilt top rack

First on the rack is the Leaf Quilt, temporarily named the day I whipped this little piece out from leftovers. The leaves are from fabric I used to make a full-length long-sleeved fall/winter/spring dress to wear to work when the weather was too chilly for bared skin but not quite cold enough for a coat. The day I did this, I thought I could make three similar oversized blocks, one each for spring, summer and winter, using the different colored leaves in the fabric to base my border color selections. It was a great idea. I am not sure why it never got any further. This project might be too close to infant stage to try to finish in just one month.

leaf dress

leaf quilt

Next comes experiment number five or six with fabric I printed myself. I'd played with a favorite shot of the Maroon Bells in PhotoShop, and the resulting color-shift collage became a poster. The poster was pretty popular with the mountain climbing club I was in at the time, so I thought I should try to duplicate the masterpiece on fabric. Because the idea of Colorful Bells was pretty wild, I thought zebra stripes would make great sashing. Purple zebra stripes really added to the wildness. Then I thought zebra stripes in another bright color would be great for the border, but all I could find was the white and the purple. I attempted dyeing fabric for the first time ever, and the fabric must have been polyester or acrylic or something else that doesn't hold dye well. It faded after one wash. I gave up. I know more about dyeing now, but I'd have to buy more zebra stripe. My current goal is to stay away from buying stuff for any project until I finish a few more projects. That is, until a new hand-dyed crochet thread colorway is released...

Colorful Bells

Colorful Bells

I have continued printing my own fabric because, well, it's a blast. After our honeymoon year, I did a Livestrong-inspired collage of my favorite cyclist. This piece has one visible mistake in it, so I can never enter it in competition unless I redo one of the panels from start to finish, but that's not what kept this quilt top from hanging on the wall finished. I couldn't find a suitable backing fabric, which actually is a pretty flimsy excuse, being as the back won't be seen!

The black and white Delicate Arch sashing was the first time I tried printing one photo onto several panels. When the black and white quilt top went into the unfinished pile, I had another crazy idea to do it again, this time in living color. Lining up the enlarged photo segments on an old computer, however, was more of a chore than I wanted, and this project died after just one photo. This is a time-consuming process. I can't finish this in just one month.

main panel for color cycling quilt

I annually make a new assortment of bandanas for The Lizard to wear beneath his cycling helmet to prevent his head from being stripe-burned through helmet vents. I've acquired quite the lizard stash over the last seven years. Naturally, I thought the leftovers would be a great quilt for the guest bedroom. This project is completely ready for quilting; it's even sandwiched and pin-basted. I likely could crank this baby out in a weekend or two. But what quilt judge would be impressed by an all-leftovers (even the batting!) plain Jane square quilt with squiggly little thread lizards in the stitching?

lizard leftovers

Many years ago, I joined an online quilting group so I could participate in a Round Robin quilt top swap. Each member of the swap group would make a starting square or block, then ship it to the next person on the list. Each quilter would add a round to the square, and after about six trips via US mail, each quilt top would be returned to the center block owner, and all six of us would have a completely unique quilt top with six different personalities. I bought a rainbow of hand-dyed fabric, one yard each, and quickly worked up my bright and cheery Rail Fence block before the address list of my group was even assembled. The day the swap groups were posted, my heart dropped like a lead weight. I wasn't on any of the lists. My name had been inadvertently skipped. It would be six months before the next swap began, and that coincided with my next Ride the Rockies. My initial intention was to do my own Round Robin, creating a new round each year as I matured, developed new skills and new tastes and acquired new fabric. Just weeks later, I met and began dating The Lizard, then had emergency back surgery, got married, and, well, here's the status of my very own Round Robin. I don't think I could finish it in a month, and I still like the idea of doing a new round every year. As a result, this project has my official permission to require four to six years until completion. Such four-to-six-years may commence at any point, including WAY down the road.

big round robin block

The Hawaiian quilt squares were a great way to use up some of the fabric I bought for the Round Robin. The Hawaiian project was inspired by a visit to a quilt shop on the Big Island during a trip I won at a singles dance so long ago, it doesn't even seem real now. I was single? I had time to quilt by hand?!? This is one of my favorite quilting projects because it's so dad-blasted blissful and vivid. I love the design as much as I did when I first began it. Taking up this project again causes my knees to quiver because I know I'll be re-addicted in about two stitches, and I'm terrified of the time commitment it would require.

in need of TLC

So, it's back to the yet unnamed snowflake quilt for me. I've decided to quilt as I go to speed up the process and make it more portable so I can work on it aboard the commuter train if I need to. I think I've come up with the perfect way to finish all those points perfectly without having to do a million mitered corners. I also gave myself permission to just get it done, and not do it on deadline. If I can finish by March 18, that's awesome. But I won't sacrifice quality, and I won't give up my life to get it done within the time constraints. I want this to be a fun project, and I want the quilt to be something I will be proud of for the rest of my life.

tweaking required

Denver National Quilt Festival, here I come! Whether I have a quilt in tow is still anyone's best guess. Nevertheless, I'm determined to enjoy quilting AND the exhibit, regardless of how long it takes to finish this masterpiece.


  1. Deborah- how I would absolutely LOVE to come out, meet you in person, and work on some of these projects WITH you...a new-fashioned quilting bee of sorts...
    you inspire me with each post with your creativity and your passion.
    much love and many prayers dear one- and Godspeed on the completion of your snowflake quilt. May it seem to get done almost magically, on time, and with joy!

  2. You are just too talented! Just blows me away! :)

  3. Goodness, your talent never ceases to amaze. What wonderful projects you are working on and such beauty. You give such inspiration in all that you do, thank you!

  4. Wait - you write in your journal every night? WHERE DO YOU FIND THE TIME?!?!?

    Good Lord, woman! Just reading this post makes me exhausted. How do you get it all done? You've got to be the very A-est of Type A personalities! :)

    That said, I too would love to hang out and quilt with you. I could bring some of my (much less impressive) UFOs, and we could compare hand-quilting stitch lengths.

    I love that Hawaiian one - so vibrant. And the leaf one, and the Lizard one, and the printed photo ones.... The snowflake quilt is going to be stunning. Have fun with it!

  5. P.S. Did I mention that I LOVE the zebra quilt?

  6. I love the black biking quilt, great colours! And how brilliant that you put photos on a quilt :)


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