Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Dear World

Dear World,

Dreams come true, even dreams you didn't realize were yours.

It's taken some time for me to step away from things I knew I was good at and press into finding the boundaries of my capabilities. I'm writing to encourage you to do the same.

Since this past winter I've taken the initiative to move away from teaching elementary school and pursue graduate studies in neuroscience with a prestigious local university. One main stepping stone in that process is gaining practical lab experience. Through a series of God stories (call it coincidence if you must, but this string of coincidences and perfect timing is compelling me to believe the contrary), I've found myself as a new research assistant in a lab working in my chosen field--developmental neuroscience! That means all my experiences teaching have prepared me for just this kind of work!

I'm thrilled beyond measure to begin this new chapter of my life. I've never known a teacher to step out of education and pursue what I'm pursuing, and from my perspective, I thought it was nigh impossible. But truly, with God all things are possible. It's been a challenge to wait and wonder, and I've had to step away from demanding that God do what I think He ought to do and instead trust Him to do it His way, but wow. I'm amazed. During my interview out of my mouth came flying, "I just want my life to be the script to a really great Lifetime movie." Ladies and gents, it seems I'm well on my way!

If you hear less from me in the coming months, you now know why.

May you pursue everything your heart sings about, fill your life with new adventures, and do things you never dreamed possible!



Friday, August 19, 2011

August Bee Blocks

We have two "bee hives" in the Orange You Glad Bee, and I'm in the one for first-timers (Hive A). I am, however, trying to hone my skills by making practice blocks in the patterns chosen by the "not first-timers" group (Hive B).

Hive B poly-cotton practice block:

Hive A practice block:

There were many ways to mix up the pattern with Hive A's block since instructions recommended the use of a certain commercial ruler. I think my measurements were off. My perfectionist tendencies, which had been on their way to an early grave, rear their ugly heads when I note truncated points and mismatched seams below. The disparity between the practice block and the orange block is intentional, though. I mixed up some of the cuts for the practice block and rectified them for the real thing!

On a whim, I made a second, slightly smaller block out of remaining fabric. This was my first experience with a Lemoyne Star. I definitely want to work on setting in pieces (maybe actually read some of those quilting technique books on my shelf, ay?). I worked from a book of templates that promised a 12-inch block, but this one fell short. Hmm... Lots to learn about this sweet art!

Meanwhile, the sewing machine is in the shop getting a tune-up. Perfect opportunity to--shh!--work on Christmas presents!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Stained Glass Quilt--Complete!

We had a wedding shower today, and I finished the last stitch of binding an hour before it. I ended up self binding with backing and signing with a fabric pen. Needless to say the bride loves it, and the other ladies passed it around with due admiration. I had a hard time letting it go, but there's no better couple to receive it. Blessings, Jeremy and Suzie, on your coming marriage!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Wild Thing

Wild thing... 

You make my heart sing...

You make everything...


I said Wild Thing...

Wild thing I think I love you...

My Rockin' Robin Quilt-Along quilt top is done! I have named it Wild Thing, and I love it! It is the first quilt I've ever made just. for. me. No other purpose, not for my hope chest, not piggybacking on someone else's work. It's my blacks and whites and grays, my cacophony of clashing fuchsia and orange, my refreshing aquas and gold-rimmed purple. It is ordered chaos and a treasure hunt, but it's definitely all deliberately purposed. 

And I'm finished just in time, too, as transitions continue to unfold, to mark the change. Children are heading back to school, parents are flustered over teachers and expectations are high, but for the first time since I was five years old, I have no part in it.

E. L. Konigsburg says there are days when you should allow “what is already in you to swell up inside you until it touches everything." This moment is one of those days.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Rockin' Robin Week 5

I am so spoiled. Yesterday the farm had a plethora (I mean, crates and crates!) of extra tomatoes. Needless to say I indulged.

Ah, well. Onto the sewing! Week 5 involved paper-piecing hexagons. I'd never done this before. It was definitely a labor-intensive process. I like the look, but I don't think I'll be joining the hexagon craze any time soon.

Now we come to it. I have twenty-five blocks and a question over how to arrange them! I tried several orientations, starting with the standard rows...

... then a sort of 'v'...

... then diagonals...

... and finally concentration of print.

I think I like this last best, letting the bulk of the focus print start heavily in one corner and trickle down to almost none.

My machine is in dire need of a tune-up, which, around here, takes about two weeks. I have three projects left before taking it in:  the MCMQG block on Saturday, my Orange You Glad Bee block, and stitching this top. I think my darling Kenmore can handle it. Meanwhile I have plenty of hand-stitching and prep to do. Maybe sending my baby to the hospital will help me get going on some of the more tedious tasks! Here's hoping!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Dyed Muslin and Vintage Lace

I can't get over this colour and how fabulous it is on my skin tone! (It's all about finding what works for you and playing to those strengths--there, style advice for free!) Earlier in the year I re-darkened my dark rinse jeans with a package of navy Rit Dye in the wash, and I threw in a chunk of unbleached muslin. When it came out this gorgeous, I thought it would be the perfect canvas to showcase bits from my box of vintage trims!

I chose a pattern I'd made up years ago in calico + eyelet, then revisited for the Fourth of July. (Oops, I never posted either!) I modified this pattern by gathering the sleeves with eighth-inch elastic and making bias tape for the neckline rather than fussing with facing.

Go ahead, Anthropologie and Urban Outfitters, copy my style! I'll still be original :-)

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Tie One On

I made my last apron out of a vintage pillowcase. Unfortunately, it was so vintage it started to shred in the wash. Not good. My solution came from a pattern I'd purchased in grad school. Boldly I attempted the empire/halter version, something I would typically shy away from. Results?

Mad Men, eat your heart out! The only modification I used was adding that ticking pocket. You may recognize the fabric from my Rescued Threads (tm) tote. The blue was bought for a dime at a garage sale, and the ticking was a remnant. Now to get into the kitchen and cook something!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Strawberry Swim Shorts

Too hot to model!

I used a knit fabric picked up at a local thrift store awhile back. The drawstring is finger-knit cotton yarn, and the grommets seemed an easier solution than button holes, particularly as my button hole plate needs replacing. I used the same pattern as my bloomers but went off the grid by pinking the hem and simplifying the waistband. I'm expecting a pool party soon, and if not that, there's a rope swing over the river that's been calling my name all summer! Happy August, ya'll!