A Birthday Blanket

It’s been a little while since I shared something I have sewn, but that does not mean I have not been sewing.  I took a little time away, taking a break from the machine and the planning.  Then, birthdays came around again.

As the girls have birthdays so close close to Christmas (in the beginning of January and February) it can feel like present overload.  All the clothes, books, and toys from Christmas are still all over their floors when more start pouring in.  A homemade gift from home helps to control some of this at least a little.  (Even if they are a little late this year.)

Both girls are very opinionated about what they want their blankets to look like.  They have a theme in mind, and make sure to let me know what needs to be included in order to keep the important things from being forgotten.  This year Big One wanted her theme to be flags.

Big One has an interest in other countries, and more specifically the flags of these other countries.  I’m not certain from where it comes.  Perhaps it is the traveling we do, giving her the sense of being a ‘world citizen.’  Perhaps it is her obsession with an anime called ‘Hetalia.’  Perhaps it is just her quirk.  The reason didn’t matter too much because it technically has no effect on the result; a list of countries whose flags she wanted on her blanket.

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The individual blocks didn’t take as long as I feared they would.  Once you consider how many of the flags are just large stripes of color, all you need to worry about is getting the correct colors and putting them in the correct order.

There were a few little mistakes, and a few things that needed to be simplified for the sake of my sanity.  (Seriously, look at the flags of Spain and Prussia and tell me you wouldn’t have simplified their pictures.)  I think when you try to ignore the black borders, which obscure some of the black sections on the flags, and don’t look too closely at the UK flag, the mistakes are not that bad.  My biggest fear was sewing a flag in upside down, and needing to take everything apart to fix it.  I may have double checked every flag a few times, just to be one the safe side.

There were a few things Big One was very clear about.  First of course was the list of 18 flags she wanted.  She was understanding about everything, and said she was including some she didn’t think I would be able to do, and it was okay if I couldn’t.  (But I did.  All of them.)  The second issue we had was the placement of flags.  She was very clear that the UK and French flags had to be as far away from each other as possible, and that America and Canada should be close to each other.  Beyond that, she made a few little changes for reasons she did not share with me.  In some ways I think I am better off not knowing all of the reasons.

The most fun from this blanket was actually that I learned a little along the way.  I knew Prussia was not around anymore, but while working on the blanket Big One shared a little of the history of the country with me.  We also found it interesting when we visited Salzburg and saw flags with a very similar bird to the one found on the Prussian flag.  It gave a nice reminder that while we are visiting one place that is, we are kind of visiting other places that were as well.  The most fun fact I learned was about a place I don’t think I will ever be, Sealand.  It is a neat little country, with an interesting history.  There might not be a lot to see there, but I have to admit, I still want to go.

However it went, Big One is now not just waving her flag, she is sleeping underneath them as well.  One happy child, and the effort was all worth it.

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Cold Days

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I hate winter.  It is no real secret, I tell everyone.

And it’s nothing personal.  Winter is very pretty, and if it were not so cold I would be a fan.  The one advantage of winter in my eyes is the logical need to stay inside, drink lots of tea, and enjoy a nice warm fire as I read a book.  Or write a book.

Unfortunately if you are me, it also means tea puddles as I am incapable of not spilling beverages.  I didn’t grow up in a house that was obsessive with coasters, but as I have gotten older I have begun to realize how nice it is to have something to keep the hot liquid from hitting my furniture, my electronics, and my appendages.  Coasters are never enough, so I was happy to adopt the idea of the mug rug; slightly bigger than a coaster, and smaller than a placemat, it is big enough to work with my ability to spill.

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In addition to the function of the mug rug, they are fun to make.  It is a tiny quilt, capable of being completed in one sitting.  It is all the joy of quilting without the long term commitment, and is the perfect way to use fabric scraps or try new patterns.

It just gets better and better.  I might survive winter after all.

The Return of Player 2

I was happy to spend yesterday away from the computer, and instead with my husband after he returned home.  Seven weeks apart was enough.

I was also able to give him his anniversary gift, something that combined buying and making.  As I have made him a couple of blankets already, blankets he only sort of needs, I went a slightly different direction by making him pillows for the new couch I bought for him.

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The couch is nothing special, just something from ikea.  The joy of the couch, is in placing seating in his office, which gives me a place to be if we want to hang out, but he is on his computer.  I suppose that makes it more for me than for him, but as an anniversary gift, I think it fits well.  It’s not just a couch, it is the potential to spend more time together.

The pillows were a little work, as they are 18X18 of 1 inch squares with machine embroidered lettering on the back.  That is 324 squares per pillow.  It worked up pretty fast, using a technique I learned here.  I really like how they turned out; this is probably the first time I have ever had perfectly matching corners on a pieced item like this.

I’m not sure I would use this technique for a blanket.  It looked nice, but it made for a very stiff fabric.  I think it worked well for a pillow, which has a lot of cushioning, but it didn’t seem like something that would be comfortable to cuddle into, which is something I look for in a blanket.  I can’t promise I won’t try it with a blanket, since I really like the idea of a postage stamp quilt, with thousands of tiny squares.  I guess we’ll just have to wait and see how brave I get later.  Today, I am going to curl up on that new couch, and get some homework done.  Enjoy your weekend everyone!

Fooled

It’s been a crazy few weeks, and I’m not entirely certain I could tell you why.

I don’t have a big secret that I’m hiding.  I have more of a confluence of events happening, each of them technically small, but adding up to a slightly busy and crazy time.

I recently finished one of my classes.  Truthfully, that is not a big thing for me.  I go to school year round, with a new class every six weeks until my graduation.  This class had me slightly worried.  Normally I can coast through; 90% of my classwork involves writing papers.  Writing is what I do, so I can usually make it sound good even if I have no idea what I’m talking about.  (Please don’t tell my professors I have no idea what I am talking about.)  This one however was all over the place.  They would tell us exactly what they wanted, and then, when I gave it to them, they would say they really wanted something else.  I never knew how I would do on anything, and it is the first time I have EVER failed on a paper.  It made the entire class exhausting, and stressful and honestly made me rethink being in school.

While working on school, I was also naturally working on my writing.  I like the idea of having a higher degree, but to be honest it’s mostly a safety net to make my husband happy.  We both know fiction writing is not a guaranteed paycheck, so he feels better knowing I am still technically working on my former career.  Beyond the actual writing, there is always research, networking, and promotion to consider.  I know some people manage to write, and publish successfully as a hobby, but I’m not sure how.

We also recently celebrated a birthday as my husband turned 33 on April 1st.  Yes, he is an April Fool’s baby.  No, he never gets tired of the jokes.  Don’t worry, I’m sure there is at least one he hasn’t heard.  (Seriously, how is that sarcasm punctuation coming people?  I think we need it.)  His birthday brought two things; the need to find a gift I haven’t previously given him in the fourteen years we have been together, and the hosting of a non-birthday barbeque he wanted to have that week.

You may be surprised to hear, I am not much for hosting events in my home.  It’s more than just my introverted nature.  I think all readers and writers are at least a little introverted.  It’s more due to my honest belief that I could have lived a very happy life as a hermit.  Hermit’s United might be a little too social for me.  In addition to cleaning and organizing my house, I also worked on preparing myself mentally for the home invasion.  While it was a lot of fun, I did need some time to get ready before hand.

With all of the other things going on, my husband’s birthday gift was a little late.  I know, you will all be shocked to hear, I made him another quilt.  I swear, I know how to make other things, I just happen to like making quilts.

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Not quite as large as the last quilt I made him, and a lot more fun and colorful; it may not have been a surprise, but at least he was happy.  Seeing what happens when he just lets me make him stuff without telling me what he wants, I think he will trust me to just have a little fun when he wants something made.  It’s large enough to lay under, while still being small enough to use as a lap quilt.  (Admittedly, the lap quilt is more of my thing.  I don’t think there is anything weird about having a quilt on the back of my desk chair to use when it gets a little cold.)  More than anything, he likes that it is small enough to throw into a suitcase or backpack for when he travels so he can have a little piece of home with him.

Unfortunately, my crazy busy time is not quite over, as today is my last (half) day of school before my kiddos are home for two weeks for spring break, leaving me with a lot to get done before my schedule changes.  Wish me good luck!

A Relative Creation in my Living Room

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I’ve been meaning to post this for a couple of weeks, but getting the photography done was a slow process.  I suppose it is fitting as I had the materials for over a year and a half before I ever cut out a single square.

It’s hard to say what made me decide to make a TARDIS quilt.  There was some inspiration here and probably a little here as well.  In the end, it was probably a combination of need to make something and an extra large amount of geekyness that I wear with pride.

This was one of the largest quilts I’ve done in the last decade, though as a twin size that is still not very big.   It does however make it perfect for laying on the couch on a rainy day with the book I have scheduled for review in less than a week and am only halfway done reading (eek!).

Well, I suppose that confirms where I should be today.  I hope the rest of you find the same level of contentment I hope to achieve today.

My Broken Valentine

I was planning on a nice post today, talking about the gift I made for my husband for Valentine’s Day, but things went a little weird. 

First, my twelve year old daughter had the day off from school.  Just as I was getting ready to start writing she came downstairs and decided to join me for a nice long walk.  After an hour and a half of walking and talking about the potential benefits of growing your own zombies before a zombie apocalypse and training them to protect you, we returned home to get on with our day.  It was a wonderful time to spend together, relaxing and talking. 

Then, after we came back, I again sat down to write this blog post.  Instead I received a call from my six year old daughter’s school.  After recess, she was running back to get in line, tripped and fell.  She cried at first, but insisted she was fine to go back to class.  Shortly after returning to class, she bumped her wrist and started crying.  When the school nurse inspected her again, her arm had begun swelling and wasn’t looking right.  After a quick three hour trip to the emergency room, we learned my little monster now has a minor break.  It was a little difficult to understand as I don’t speak Dutch, but it is nice and clean somewhere between a break and a fracture. 

Now, as I sit to write this blog post for the third time, I am slightly afraid of what will happen.  I suppose before anything else goes wrong, I should share my creation, just in case.

Here is the Darth Vader quilt I made for my husband.  You may recognize the 891 squares of 2×2 inch black and gray fabric from a previous post.  The picture is not great, as it was too big to get on top of, but I think the design can be seen.  There was no real pattern used, just some graph paper, color pencils, and several pictures of Darth Vader from pintrest to graph from.  I hope everyone else out there had an easy, lovely day!

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