Wednesday, January 20, 2021

All in a Day's Work

The other day, several of the Monday sewing group talked about their screen time and how they felt they weren't necessarily the most productive they could be. Now, if you are retired, does it matter how productive you are? Not exactly, but if you want to spend more time on your hobbies - quilting, reading, gardening, exercise, or chatting with friends or whatever, it does make sense to see how you're spending the day. 

So one of the ladies is using a tracking app to track what she does in a day. I can't remember the name of the app. 

I thought I might have a look at what I did yesterday - just for fun. So I'm going by memory here. 

  • Zoom meetings: 3.5 hours
  • Morning blog writing/e-mail: 1.5 hours
  • Walking: 2.5 hours
  • In Studio B but not sewing (trimming quilts, loading a quilt, prepping some work): 2 hours
  • In Studio B in the afternoon (no sewing - but prepping): 2 hours
  • Writing: 3 hours
  • Reading: 1 hour
  • Dinner: 30 minutes

I know it's bad to admit this, but I eat lunch and breakfast with the computer, so I didn't count that time. I don't' think I even had time to check IG or Facebook yesterday. If I did, it was perhaps a few seconds. I did listen to an audiobook for a couple of hours while I was in Studio B. 

Oh well - so looking at my day- the amount of time spent on various things doesn't surprise me. I wish I had more time for sewing, but yesterday I had meetings, which took up some precious sewing time. Today, I'm on my own, so I expect to do the same amount of writing and then spend the afternoon prepping for the next writing session and getting some sewing/quilting done. 

The best part is that I've become super focused. When I'm in front of the computer, I don't end up surfing the net. I get the information I need, then move on. I've ZERO time for random surfing, and I'm glad. I'm creating good habits for when I don't have to work! 

Games and TV?? Nope - I'd have to give up some sleep for those activities, and that's not going to happen. But for whatever reason, I insist on checking the weather app before I go to bed. This is a bad idea since I had a crazy dream about a HUGE accident. We were running when I woke up and not sure what happened. 

Speaking of writing, I'm addicted to numbers. I love looking at them but am not obsessed with them. I just quickly glance at the e-mail when it comes in. Here's the latest update I received from Grammarly about my writing. Such fun facts. 

That's a lot of writing!

Holy -- that's a LOT of writing and 40,000 words last week? What the heck was I writing?? I know the blog takes up lots of words, but the rest? 

And now Grammarly measures the tone of what you write. I'm happy to report that most of what I write (according to Grammarly) has a good quality to it! 

The one area that bugs me is this. So I'm more productive than 98% of the users. Seriously? Well, I'm OK with that. But it's the mistakes that drive me nuts. Some of the errors that Grammarly shows are stupid and result from my personal choices. I don't like putting the period at the end of a caption, for instance, and sometimes Grammarly wants that. Thank god for hitting delete on the suggestion, but then it gets marked as an error. Oh well - I don't care!! 

OK --- so I was a crazy person at school. I loved getting my marks and seeing where I went wrong, and learning how to fix it. I think that's why I'm such a stickler in the quilting world. I'm much more relaxed, but I want to know WHY something doesn't work. Then I can make a choice to fix it for next time or let it go. 

The inbox is out of control, and MORE people keep signing up for all the classes. I'm good with that, but soon all signups are going to be shut down! It's a huge job to keep everyone on the right list. Well, not keep them on the list, but GET them on the right list. I have two more assignments to write, and they have to be done TODAY. 

Then it's time to start the prep work for this weekend. But I love it, so I'm not complaining. Writing it out makes me calm and helps me to focus. And you get to read about my idiosyncrasies!! And I can't say enough about that little green folder I found. It's a GODSEND!!!

So here's something to contemplate. When I first started to quilt, I HAD to follow the pattern instructions to the letter. If they used a particular green fabric, I searched and searched until I found that same fabric. Oh - you do NOT want to hear the stories of what I did and how much I paid to get certain fabrics. Someday when the kits emerge - I might confess then. 

But if I couldn't find the exact fabric, then I had to use the exact color. And god forbid that I change the pattern. When I started teaching and trying to keep ahead of the students, I started to experiment with how things looked. I was learning that just because the designer made the pattern in a specific way didn't mean that I had to do the same thing, especially if I didn't like the result. 

Here's a case in point. This is NOT my quilt, but I was given permission to use the photos. 

Sophie is working on the Grassy Creek Mystery quilt by Bonnie Hunter. I have to say that I was very impressed that she kept up with the assignments, and we watched the blocks building as the weeks went by. Remember, Bonnie releases a new clue every week, and there is a LOT of work in each clue. 

As she finished the blocks (I think Bonnie always has two blocks in her mystery quilts - well, many of them do) and the sashing, she put the pieces on the design wall. Hmmm - while it looks great, Sophie wasn't happy with it. She felt the grey sashings took away from the blocks. 

Round One - using the original blocks and sashing

So she started to play, which is totally out of her comfort zone. But look what happened!!!  When I saw this last Monday on the design wall in her studio (you gotta Zoom to get a peek into our personal spaces!), I was totally blown away. She did NOT change the blocks. All she did was change the sashing and WOW. Look at those circles that got created with the new sashing. The new quilt looks like a very intricate tile floor in some ancient European building. 

A new sashing 

I love this, and I'm so glad that she persevered (it took a few iterations and mistakes in drafting the new sashing) to come up with this. 

An amazing secondary pattern is formed

The moral of this story? If you don't like something, think about how you can change it!! A new sashing made a very nice quilt into a show-stopping quilt!!!!

So how is the cleanup situation coming along? Are you still setting that time for 10-minutes? I'm not going to get to touch any cleanup for quite a while now that I'm back to work in full force. That's OK as I'm happy with the progress that I did make. Let's see - what about magazines?? You don't have to get rid of them today but make a plan. I'm sure there are some that you want to keep. Then get them organized. And for those that you don't care about - perhaps they can be tossed or put by your cozy chair so that you browse through one or two a day INSTEAD of playing games or trolling through Social Media!!

On that note, I'm off for my walk and then back to the computer. 

Have a super day!!!!


Tuesday, January 19, 2021

I have the BEST friends

 In case you don't know, I've been hosting Monday sewing for MANY years. It's probably something like 16 or 17 years. I'm the longest standing member, and Diane isn't far behind me. We've seen people come and go for lots of reasons. We almost had a coup d'etat, we've had deaths, births - actually, I think that's more grandchildren - I don't think anyone in our group has actually had a baby. We moved locations once and had to move on-line last year. Even when I went to work full-time for a couple of years, I went to the group almost every Monday for an hour to visit, which I'm sure caused all kinds of talk at the office!

But it's been loads of fun; I've learned so much from the others in the group and am still learning. We've had many discussions about many topics, and yes - we've had heated discussions. But most importantly, we've been there to support each other, to encourage each other, and to pat each other on the back for a job well done. 

It was truly a blessing in disguise when I think back to the humble beginnings of this group. I started the group at The Hobby Horse with the blessing of Gail (the owner). It was originally meant to be a place where students of my classes could come and get extra help! And now - we just come to sew and chat!

I remember a Monday in mid-March last year. Four of us showed up because the pandemic was just starting to become a HUGE issue in Canada. We decided that it wasn't fair to the group to rent the space, and only four people show up. The four of us decided it best to stay home the following week. Well, we didn't need to make that decision because everything got shut down the next day! 

It took seven weeks before I learned of Zoom, and we were off! We've been meeting on Zoom for four hours ever since. I did wonder how the Zoom platform would translate to a sewing group, but you know what? It WORKS, and it works extremely well. I know everything about the group members that I would have known had we been meeting in person. We still have the same discussions. We still have the show and tell. We have EVERYTHING. 

It works so well that when things do get back to normal, I think I'll be voting to keep the session online! What???  You bet -- it saves time, which is precious to me. I never forget anything, no need to do the physical setup and takedown of the room or making sure the room is tidy, no lugging sewing machines and supplies. And if someone moves away - well, technically, they can never move away from our location. We are not at the mercy of finding the appropriate space, and well, there are just so many reasons that on-line works. And technically, it's free!! 

Anyway - I just wanted to say that I LOVE the Monday sewing ladies. They really are a great group. We all get along so well. If you have a chance to join a virtual sewing group - you should sign up! And if you want to test it out, don't forget that I have a Virtual Retreat on January 30 (evening) and January 31 (all-day). It's a great way to connect with people in this time when we can't get together in person. 

So while meeting with friends and sharing stories is one of the best parts - the other best part is that I don't have to lug a whole pile of stuff with me to prevent me from forgetting something at home, and I actually got something done that I've been putting off. You see - the UFO club is coming up this weekend, and well - I have a HUGE job on my list, and I hadn't started it. 

But I made great progress yesterday - the worst part is over - the applique. The rest will be a piece of cake. Don't get me wrong - it's not that I dislike applique - it's just slow!

I know this looks like nothing, but it's the tiled roof to the garden shed that I need to put in my Quilter's Patch quilt. And it's done!! I trimmed it this morning, and it looks amazing. I have two more pieces of fabric to cut, and then I can finish assembling this block. 

The tiled roof for the garden shed block

I was on a roll and made extra roof tiles. Good grief - I can't count! 

Extra roof tiles

The e-mail situation is out of hand already. It went up to almost 900 this morning as I didn't have time to clear anything yesterday. After Monday's sewing finished, I had some writing to do. That got accomplished, but I didn't have time to do much else. I know - students are waiting for their written assignments, and I'm doing that today!!

This morning, as I flipped through a few marketing e-mails, I was reminded why I stay on some companies' distribution lists. It's to see what's going on in the market, so I have things to share with you!

Before Christmas, I was on a drive in the countryside and spotted this. I never posted it because - well, I just didn't. Hey  -while you think I tell you everything that goes on in my life - I do NOT!

A real red truck with a Christmas tree

It was perfect  - there was just enough snow to make it very Christmasy. And it seems that every fabric designer, pattern designer, or anything, in general, is thinking the same way. Put a red truck with a Christmas tree on anything, and it becomes seasonal!!! And it sells like hotcakes!

Aside from the red truck and the Christmas tree, what else is trendy?? Any guesses? 

How about the retro camper? Oh yes - do a Google search on retro camper quilting, and you'll get a TON of hits. 

And what has been the other popular image this past Christmas? THEY have been everywhere and on everything???  Give up? How about GNOMES. Oh yes - do a Google search on gnome quilt pattern, and you get a ton of hits. 

Now I can just hear you say, "Elaine, where are you going with this?"

Well - be prepared to laugh because this morning in my e-mail I saw the cover of a catalog and look at the pattern that was on the front. 

Gnome Is Where You Park It Pillow Pattern by JoAnn Hoffman

Yep - we got the gnomes on a camping trip and notice that their camper is being pulled by a red truck! That's hilarious!!!  I saw it on the front of the catalog for Annie's Craft Store

I thought we all deserved a laugh this morning as we welcome the day after the supposedly most depressing day of the year. Some call it Blue Monday.  Don't get me wrong - depression is a serious illness, and add to that, debts, failed resolutions, and the pandemic, it's a very trying time for many. I only hope that I bring a wee smile to some of you!

On that note, I've got loads to get accomplished today. I'm on track, and that's all that counts. I'm focused, and at the end of each day, I'm tired, which ends earlier for me than probably most of you, but then I'm wide away at ridiculous o'clock in the morning!

I haven't seen any pictures from anyone about their cleaning status! Oh - I did take the remaining items off my cutting table and put them into a laundry basket. Most of this stuff is decorative things that need to be hung up, and there's a bit of junk that needs to be processed. I don't have time right now - but I'm still thrilled that I conquered the majority of the stuff. I do have some quilt racks that I want to hang up, and once I'm over my writing this week, I might just do that. 

ONE laundry basket left to sort

So this is it - the last of the stuff that needs to find a home. I can live with one laundry basket full of stuff. It will get done - just not right now. 

Let's see - what's another area in your house that needs to be tidied? How about your kitchen counters? Mine is pretty immaculate. No dirty dishes, nothing extra except a few small appliances. So that's your job today - get that kitchen counter clean! And remember - don't hide things unless they just hadn't been put away before. If you need to "hide" an appliance, maybe it's one that you don't use ever, and it might be best to give it away instead of putting it away. 

On that note, I'm out of here!!!

Have a super day!!!


Monday, January 18, 2021

I'm so excited!

 OK - so for those of you who dread Mondays - well, I can't help you! I had the BEST weekend ever! Let's see what happened. 

We had an amazing first class for the Tula Pink 100 Modern Block sampler sew-a-long.

Then the incredible show and tell from the Long Time Gone Sew-A-Long. This is a continuation of a class that started in October. 

We had our FIRST embroidery club meeting, and I'm so pumped for that. There are so many possibilities for machine embroidery, and here's the thing. Instead of ONE person learning all this and struggling to learn, we are a group with a LOT of ideas, experiences, and well - we're going to learn so much. I'm pumped!

Then we had the FIRST session of our All in a Row Quilt Sew-A-Long. Some brave soles took on the challenge of designing their own quilt using the rows in the book. I was a wee bit apprehensive as no one had seen the book before the class, and well - I was so inspired after the class that I got everything organized, and we're all now madly cutting and pasting to design our own quilts. I cut and paste in EQ8, and OH MY - I'm in love. When you have the technology, and you know how to use it - well - it can be dangerous sometimes! 

I'm so excited that I might make two quilts. Oh, just shoot me now!!!  There's still time to sign up for this one if you want and Tula Pink! 

And the afternoon was quiet yesterday as we sat and chatted while we did handwork! I learned that binding a quilt does NOT qualify as handwork. What?? Oh no - ALL the others were doing cross-stitch or embroidery. Yikes! Thankfully, I had a knitting project close at hand and grabbed that. There was NO time for pictures as I was on the computer for hours after that. From low-tech to hi-tech! 

And the other great thing - I made amazing progress on my writing assignments. There are still many things to follow up on, write documents for, open up Facebook pages, etc. But I'm on top of it all. I LOVE that green binder thing that I found in M's crap. It's the BEST thing for the classes ever. I feel very much in control. Isn't that crazy? A simple piece of plastic that I found in the giveaway box! It's hilarious. 

It's becoming second nature to start a new document and immediately save the document on the Google OneDrive so I can use AutoSave. ZERO issues yesterday! 

I MUST get all the admin for those groups done by tomorrow (I hope to get it all done tonight) as this coming weekend is bringing another round of new classes. Once these first sessions are over, things will calm down. I've found the challenge has been getting the right people on the right lists. But I'm in control, and I'm adding things to my computer to-do list. I LOVE that list - it never gets lost, and I can see at a glance what's due today, what can wait. 

My e-mail is NOT, though, as I see that it's over 800 this morning. How did that happen that in 24 hours - I got over 100 e-mails? Some of it can be deleted, but I need to go carefully through it, or I'll miss someone for one of my upcoming classes. 

My little e-mail fiasco did miss three people for two different classes, but we're all good. 

OH - and I got to meet a blog follower for the first time. We've chatted a fair amount in the comments section or via e-mail. Linda - it was so nice to put a face to your name!!!! 

And with Monday sewing today - I mean, how can you not be excited? 

I did manage to get a customer quilt done. It needs to be trimmed and then ready for pickup. 

Customer quilt - DONE

There was one little glitch in the day. When I went to check my solo Cross Canada Walk, I couldn't enter my mileage. Why? A quick e-mail to The Conquerer, and they responded last night (wow - great service) to tell me that my free trial membership has ended. Really?? I don't remember even signing up, and I've been doing this challenge since last year. I must have had the same issue last year, I paid for the membership, and now it has expired again. I've no idea. Oh well - I'm going to cough up $24 US to continue my quest across Canada. I've come too far to stop now. 

Well, it's got to be short and sweet this morning. I'm still editing a document that I'd like to be out of my house ASAP. I'm almost done, and those girls are waiting for their walk. 

So how did the cleanup of the bathroom sink cupboard go? I heard a few ironing boards got cleaned of clutter, and Maria tidied up her sewing space. Oh, yes - we are all motivated. OH --- hey - there is NO cheating going on here. If you clean an area - you MUST deal with the crap - don't just move it somewhere else. Today - let's see what we can do about the cutting mat. Pictures - I want pictures!!!! 

This is an example. Here's the before. 

And here's the after. And all the crap got dealt with - it did NOT get shoved to a new area. 

Have a super day!!!!


Sunday, January 17, 2021

Long Time Gone Show and Tell

Well, I've been up since ridiculous o'clock. I had all intentions of getting some documents written so they could be sent out. I have a few that are due NOW. Instead, I spent hours doing admin work and prepping for the three sessions today. I'm OK with that - the admin stuff needed to be taken care of to make life easier for me. And I think I almost have all the distribution lists, class introductions, etc., taken care of! Phew - I'm guarding those lists with my life. If those distribution lists get lost, I'm going to very unhappy. 

But you know me - as much as I complain about administration, I do like organizing, and that's really what admin is all about. And when you're the boss? It's even better. 

I thought I'd share the homework from the Long Time Gone class that I hosted yesterday. Oh my - this quilt is so exciting! I can't wait until I start putting it together. WAIT!! I have to be careful what I say, or I'll have everyone in the class forging ahead and assembling. So - my homework is done, and I'm waiting patiently until it's time to do the next homework section. 

Sit back and enjoy. Some pictures show all their blocks to date; some people are a wee bit behind (but most are not!). And some people have gone crazy with making their own modifications. I LOVE it. So inspirational. 

Here's the book - Long Time Gone by Jen Kingwell. The class is being hosted by Thimbles and Things. Can you believe we are over 60 in the class? And NO - you can no longer sign up!! I'm closing this class. But I could be open to Gypsy Wife or something else once this one is done!!!

Long Time Gone by Jen Kingwell

You would think that this is my quilt, but it's not! It belongs to Val. Great use of a busy print to camouflage the large space in the bow tie blocks. 


Cindy didn't like the bow tie blocks, so she made two basket blocks instead. 


Linda is starting to audition fabric for the sashing. 


Oh, shoot - I don't remember everyone's name, and I'm not going to have time to search them all out this morning. I'll do what I can until I run out of time!

They do NOT have to keep up with the homework - if they do - that's a bonus for them; if not, well, we don't want any UFOs! I guess Sharon's second bow tie block is done! 


A very soft and pretty palette in these blocks by Linda. I love how people's personalities come out in their color choices. 


I love this colorway by Jana. I'm stealing this combination for one of my future quilts. 


Lynn has nicely tied her colors together with this grouping of blocks. Gorgeous jewel tones.  


Nothing beats the classic blue and white. Helen Anne is raiding her scrap boxes, and the result is gorgeous. 

Helen Anne

Leslie has some wild and bright colors happening in her quilt. I LOVE how she colored those flying geese. 


Maria has such a fun grouping of fabrics. They are all FLORALS -- who would have thought that florals could be fun. But these are modern florals. 


And look at her bow tie blocks. She fussy cut them. LOVE it. 


Sheila has a darker look to her, but the burgundy and greens look beautiful together. 


Kathi has a great color combo with these bright jewel tones. Notice how she toned down that center of one of the bow tie blocks. 


And look what she did with her zigzag row. Love it!!


Jennifer has a great scrap quilt on the go. I love how she added some different values to the backgrounds of her blocks. 

Cindy has some fun colors happening in this quilt. Love the little pops of orange!!! Or is that gold? Let's get sophisticated and call it cheddar! 


OK -- so I want to steal this one. Elle used a busy background (one day I'll get brave!), and the colors are bright, yet they aren't. It's just a fun looking quilt. 

Sonya was behind, but she made a huge push, and I believe she's all caught up now. This is going to look awesome—a very scrappy (my favorite) look. 


Nancy has a deep contemplative look to her quilt. And she's undecided about the bow tie blocks - center filled or not?? She's going to have to make some choices at some point. But the floral fabrics look great. 


Did you see what Bernice did? Look closely - she's highlighted the pinwheel that forms in the middle of those flying geese blocks. 

Laura has a fabulous look with mostly red, yellow, and blue, although there's a wee bit of brown. It's gorgeous. 

Lois is working from a pack of 10-inch squares. Love the combination and the great contrast. 

Here's one more block from Lois. 


Look how the pinwheels pop in Lynn's version of the blocks, and she switched the values of the zigzag row. 


Oh my -- this is very bright and cheery and made by Brenda. The colors are FUN!


Another classic blue and white by Cathy. I LOVE the fact that some of the blues are very close to the background. It adds a bit of mystery to the blocks. 


OH MY GOSH  - Paula lives on a farm and has managed to incorporate farm themed fabric into her blocks! How adorable is that? 


Lynne is going crazy with the color, and I LOVE it. This screams fun. Notice how she changed the zigzag row on the left. 


Look what Larraine did with her flying geese units?? Doubling up the color like that makes the blocks look so different. I swear - we could make that block a hundred times and make each one different. 


Cathy has a totally different palette from everyone else. It's very classic, I don't want to say country. But it's going to be awesome!!! And the little print fabrics in the background soften the empty space in the bow tie blocks. 


Here are Susan's blocks. It's hard to tell in the photo, but there's a bit of navy in with the blacks and greys. Love the neutrals. 


Shoot - I can't remember whose blocks these are. Sorry. But some nice colors in those blocks. 

I think this one belongs to Margaret. She's using 30's fabrics, and they look smashing in the quilt. 


This last one belongs to Carol, who got her homework done just minutes before the class. You have to love Zoom - heck - you could still be sewing while you attend class!!! A nice soft color palette. 


By my count - that's 31. Some of the ladies just joined, so I didn't expect them to have any work done. I'll be working on the others - we don't want this project to become a UFO. I told them that I didn't care if they only did ONE block and quilted it  - this must NOT become a UFO. 

And since I'm the teacher, I'm supposed to be just ahead of the group. Here are all my blocks with the latest homework blocks added. The more blocks I make, the better I like the quilt. 

My blocks

Well, I didn't do too badly on the names - only one I can't remember and one I wasn't sure about. I'll get the group to review, and hopefully, I got everyone's name right. 

I've got to run - I still have some prep work before the classes start today. 

HEY - don't forget your 10-minute tidy up assignment. You thought I forgot, right?  How about a NON-quilt related area today. How about the cupboard beneath your powder room sink? Or any bathroom sink?  Get it cleaned up!!!

Have a super day!!!