The 350 Blocks Project

As I’ve confessed before, I have many many UFOs.

I also keep taking on new BOMs, Quilt-Alongs, guild challenges, and anything else that crops up that I think will be fun.

I usually start out all motivated, and as soon as the next project comes along, enthusiasm for the first one wanes while I concentrate on the new one, then the next one comes along, and so on and so on, until I have the situation I have now . . . too many UFOs.

No, I didn’t count them. And I’m not going to, so don’t ask!

But I have made a new goal for this year . . .

I’m calling it The 350 Blocks Project.

With what’s left of this year, I intend . . .

to make one quilt block a day.

I’m going to choose from all my UFOs, and just pick one block to make each day that will get me further towards done. Any block from any UFO, as long as I make one each day.

It might be one block of my Farmer’s Wife Sampler quilt. It could simply be a 9-Patch for my Wild Nine-Patch quilt. It could be a hand-pieced Grandmother’s Flower Garden block. I love variety, so I’ll be choosing from a variety to keep my interest level up throughout this project.

Surely, after making a total of 350 blocks, at least one UFO will get finished, wouldn’t you think?

AND . . .

I’m inviting you to join me.

Are you up for the challenge?

Would you like to make one quilt block a day toward finishing up your UFOs?

If so, just jump on in.

I’ve created a Flickr Group for The 350 Blocks Project, so you can join the group and post photos of your finished blocks. I’m planning to post mine once a week on Sundays, as well as write occasional blog posts about them.

I’d love to know if you’re playing along. Please leave me a comment and let me know.

And if you want the button for your own blog, just steal it from the sidebar there, and link back to this post.

Good luck to us all!

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Published in: on January 17, 2012 at 9:23 pm  Comments (12)  

Need Something To Do?

Here are a few of the things going on right now out in the online quilting world.

See if there’s anything that catches your eye, and jump on in. The water’s fine!

My pal, Victoria, is hosting Color Interviews on her blog. She’s talking to a different quilter each week about color. If you’re inspired by color, or want to be more so, then go read what her interviewees have to say about color and how they’re inspired by it.

If you’re interested in learning how to do hand needle-turn applique, then I’m hosting a Quilt-Along on my other blog you might be interested in. “Bouquets for Hazel” is a 4-block applique quilt with some piecing added in, and the project runs for 6 months (and it’s free). I’m posting tutorials every day or so, outlining all the steps (in detail) of how I do applique. It only began on January 9th, so you’re not behind yet.

Last year, I managed to find time to get in on one of Sherri Falls’ Mystery Mondays quilts. Sadly, I haven’t had time since to do another one, but she’s still hosting them, so I may yet get to jump in again. If you love a good mystery, and can handle one easy set of instructions every Monday, you’ll want to do one or more of these.

The Prairie Moon Quilts Wild West Scavenger Hunt is still going on. It’s an online game you play at your own pace, getting a portion of the quilt instructions each time you answer the trivia question correctly. When you’re all done, you have a finished quilt top. The pattern is free, and you can play for fun or . . . play for prizes! The game runs until the end of January, so go check it out.

Kim, of Crafty Apple fame, is hosting a Home Sweet Home Quilt-Along. House and tree blocks by 16 different designers will be featured over the next few months. I’m one of them, and my block will be featured in March. In addition, Kim is the organizer of “Project Quilting“, and Season 3 has just begun, so you might want to get in on that, too. There are lots of prizes — good ones!

A collaboration by Quilting is Murder and Quilting Gallery brings you the Quilting is Murder UFO Challenge, on now and running until February 11th. Finish up a UFO, and you have a shot at some fantastic prizes! I’m still trying to decide which UFO I want to finish for this one . . . I’ll keep you posted. I’m sure you, too, have at least one UFO you could finish up for this one, don’t you?

And . . . finally . . . if none of the above suits you, you can go to Quilting Gallery’s Big List of Quilt-Alongs, Swaps, Bees, and other projects for this year to see if you can find something over there. And as my grandma would say, “If you can’t find something there that suits you, then you don’t have anyone to blame but yourself!”

Published in: on January 11, 2012 at 12:49 pm  Comments (2)  

My Task Two and Three Progress

I’ve been too busy tasking and luau-ing to post my progress!

But here’s where it stands for me at the end of this third day of The Final Countdown . . .

I got the border on both of the quilts in the Quilts That Need Borders pile. So that technically gets rid of one more pile, doesn’t it?

I only made such good progress because I had such good help, too:

Here’s the first one I finished:

Deanna, you might recognize these fabrics. I made this Magic 9-Patch quilt out of a packet of 5″ charm squares that she sent me a long time ago. I’ve had the middle done for a long time, but just needed to add the borders. It didn’t have to have borders, but I wanted it to be just that much bigger, so I added them.

I also already prepared the backing for it, (to keep it out of that other pile), and will be quilting it and donating it to charity — since the fabric was so graciously donated to me by Deanna, I’m passing on the good deed. Thanks, Deanna!

Speaking of passing things on, here’s the other quilt I got the borders on, and a shot of the little “suitcase” that the fabric came in. It’s made from the Hemming House collection by Moda, and the jelly roll came in this darling little suitcase.

However, having juggled said suitcase all over the studio since making the quilt, I can’t decide what to do with it, so I’m passing it on. I’m putting some goodies inside it, such as 1/2 yard of one of the pieces in the Hemming House collection (leftovers from making the quilt). And a couple other little things. So . . .

If you’d like to have this little suitcase and the goodies inside it, just leave a comment on this post, and I’ll randomly draw from everyone who says they want it, and send it to one lucky winner. This is not related to the prizes from the Final Countdown — totally separate — just me passing along some perfectly good items that I don’t know what to do with.

But where was I? Oh, yeah . . .

I also found some backings for a few of the quilts in that other stack. There are now only 3 quilts left in the stack, and I found something that might work for the top one, but I need to piece it, so for now the top is still in the waiting pile.

And now I’m wishing there was still one last Stash Report for this year, because pulling out all those backings would sure have boosted my numbers! Oh, well . . . at least now I didn’t have to keep track of it and write it all down. I’m OK with that . . .

And . . . I scurried around and gathered up all the pieces and parts of my Grandmother’s Flower Garden, cleaned out my take-along sewing bag, and have pieces in there to carry around and work on. Now I’m anxious to go somewhere just so I can take it along and work on it!

I’m loving seeing and hearing about what all of you did for your tasks as well, and don’t forget to come back and leave your comments on those other posts to be eligible for prizes. You still have until the 5th to get the tasks done and leave your comments, so don’t give up just yet! And comment here if you want the little suitcase . . .

Published in: on December 31, 2011 at 7:27 pm  Comments (15)  

2011 Final Countdown Task Three

The third and final task of the 2011 Final Countdown.

Are you ready?

Since we’ve been cleaning up and weeding out and finishing up over the last couple days, I’d like to keep moving forward with that sort of theme, and today’s task will help with that.

Today we are to:

Fall in love again. With an old UFO, that is . . .

I want you to look over your UFOs.

C’mon, everyone has at least one . . .

Look them over good, and pick your favorite. Pick THE one that you really still love and really do still want to finish. Get it out, get it organized, find all the missing pieces and parts, resolve to get any pieces and parts that are still missing so that you can proceed, and commit to finishing it this coming year.

All you have to do is find it, get it ready, tell us what it is, and commit to working on it. Now, if it’s a labor of love that might take more than a year (mine might), then that’s OK. But just promise to at least devote some serious time to it. After all, if you love it and really do want to finish it, you’re not getting any younger, and time will get away from you, and wouldn’t you rather have it finished so you can enjoy it?

Personally, I love handwork. I love portable handwork even better. And I’ve had a Grandmother’s Flower Garden quilt in the works for years (I won’t say exactly how many years. I’ve embarrassed myself enough on here the last few days.)

2012 is the year . . . I’m getting it out, and it’s going to be my take-along handwork project for this year. Here are some of the blocks I have done so far. (I think I’m about 1/3 of the way finished with the blocks.) I’m using the English Paper Piecing method on these, and it’s one of the funnest portable projects I can think of.

I’m getting out my take-along sewing bag, cleaning it out, and filling it up with the pieces of this project. I also have to find all the other pieces of this project that are strung all over the house. At this moment, I doubt I can even prove that I’m 1/3 finished! So there’s my task for today, and after I get my project all organized, I’ll tell you more about it later.

So . . . what UFO do you want to fall in love with all over again? Get it out, take some pictures, comment here and tell us all what it is, and make the commitment to give it the attention it deserves in 2012. I may just come back and ask you before next year’s countdown how you did on this one!

Now go fall in love!

Published in: on December 31, 2011 at 8:05 am  Comments (13)  

Pat Sloan’s Luau

Today I’m at a Luau!

Pat Sloan’s New Year’s UFO-Busting Luau Weekend, to be exact.

She hosted this Luau last year, and I participated, and it helped me get so much done. Just the permission to sew like mad for 3 days was all I needed, I guess (not that I don’t do that every day), but knowing I had partners in crime helped even more.

So when she said she was doing it again, I could hardly wait, and now it’s here!

I’m not much on going out for New Year’s Eve. I much prefer staying in, staying busy, and staying cozy with My Cowboy.

While I’m not real sure what I’ll be eating all weekend because I’m bad at thinking that far ahead regarding food, I am thinking about making these for My Cowboy: Salted Almond Caramels (minus the salt for him).

Then once he sinks into the sugar coma that’s sure to follow, I can retreat to the studio and work on my chosen UFOs for this Luau. Which are, in order of importance:

1 ) Our guild’s raffle quilt

2 ) A commission quilt for Ronald McDonald House’s Red Shoe Gala this year

3 ) My guild challenge quilt for January (which needs to be done by the 9th)

So these will include some machine piecing, some applique, some cutting, a little bit of designing, some instruction writing, and . . . depending on how far I get, some setting together, and possibly some machine quilting. Just the variety I need to keep myself from getting too bored. So off I go.

Are you coming to the Luau? (You really should.)

What will you be working on?

Published in: on December 31, 2011 at 7:31 am  Comments (2)  

2011 Final Countdown Task Two

Time for Task Two.

How did you do with Task One yesterday?

Not only did I deal with the piles in the studio, but I also dealt with a pile of laundry, a pile of mail, and a pile of dirty dishes in the sink. Hard for me to believe, but after cleaning all day, I’m sore! How pathetic that I’m so out of shape. Guess that’s another thing I’ll need to work on in 2012 . . .

But first, I’m still wrapping up 2011.

Today’s task was spawned by yesterday’s task. While cleaning up the piles, did you unearth something you’d forgotten about? Something you set aside for no reason? Something you just put off doing? Well, I sure did . . . And Vivian, I saw that quilt that just needs binding in one of your piles . . .

So for today’s task . . .

Pick one sewing task you’ve been putting off, and do it.

Here are my choices for what I could possibly do for this task.

While I was cleaning up the floor pile, I found a stack of unquilted quilt tops. These quilt tops need backing matched up with them so they can be added to the pile to be quilted. So I could prepare backings for this stack of quilts, since I’ve been putting that off. Or . . .

I also found these two quilt tops that only need the borders put on them in order to be called complete. I could add the borders to these two tops and put them in the unquilted tops pile, too. Or . . .

I found a sack with some embroidery floss in it, and it needs to be wound on the little cardboard bobbins and filed in my floss storage bins so I can find it when I need it. So I could do that . . . Or . . .

I could work on repairing the edges of the antique Grandmother’s Flower Garden quilt that my sister bought and wants to hand quilt, but wants me to fix for her first. Or repair the binding on the quilt that she bought at an estate sale a while back. Or work on the scraps some more . . .

All these are projects I unearthed from my piles. Not to mention the horrifying number of UFOs I juggled while putting stuff away!

So . . . I’m going to pick one of the above things to work on for my task today, and you are to do the same. I’m going to do more than one if I have time, but one is all it takes to call the task complete.

Do you have a quilt that just needs the binding? A top that’s only missing its borders? Some supplies that need to be sorted and organized? A lone block that just needs one more piece appliqued on to be called done? Some embroidery that you can finish up quickly? Those are the kinds of things I want you to pick from today. We all need that instant gratification and sense of accomplishment from finishing something and having one less thing on our list before starting the New Year.

So . . . hop to it . . . have fun . . . and don’t forget to come back and leave your comment about what you chose to do! I can’t wait to see what sorts of things you all unearthed from your piles . . .

Published in: on December 30, 2011 at 6:59 am  Comments (13)  

Task One Progress

Well! The day did not prove long enough for me to make as much progress as I would have liked.

Even though I had plenty of help . . .

. . . the piles are not gone, but they are all some better.

I got off to a good start. Before noon, I had put away a lot of things, filled an entire trash bag, had a box of stuff ready to give away, and removed all the extraneous furniture from the room. And my helper wore out . . .

So now the desk looks like a desk . . . even though it’s still piled pretty high. I think I at least cut the mess in this area in half. I sure threw away a lot of old papers, and stuff I didn’t need any more, and put a lot of it away where it belongs.

The floor pile, while not gone, is a little better; I just haven’t found a good place for everything yet.

I only cleaned off half the island top, and decided to leave the rest of it like it is for now, so I could work on the other more important piles.

The stool and its pile are completely gone. All that’s left in that area is the knitting basket and the trash can. And yes, that is a chocolate wrapper in the trash. Hey, I had to get through this somehow!

My scrap basket is down to a tolerable level. Every year I say I’m going to work on it regularly to keep it from piling up again, and I never do. But this year I’ve put it on my regular work schedule, so I’m hoping I don’t ignore myself like before, and that I really can keep it under control.

I’ve also corralled the scrap tub a bit more. I tried sitting on top of the tub to squish everything down in it, but that didn’t work. I got rid of the little box and the UFO bins that were part of the pile, but then I found scraps in other piles that needed to be added to this pile, so it’ll take a lot more work than I had time to put in on it today to get everything condensed into the tub. Maybe some actual sewing would help?

So, that’s today’s progress, because I’m going to reward myself by going to knitting meeting tonight. I’m hoping I can find some more time yet this week to work on these again, but if I don’t, at least they’re better than they were.

What did you get done today?

Don’t forget to leave a comment on the Countdown post so that you have a chance at the prizes. And check back tomorrow for Task Two!

Published in: on December 29, 2011 at 4:26 pm  Comments (4)  

2011 Final Countdown Task One

. . . I’ve Got The Piles . . .

And unlike in old westerns, when they say they have the piles, I don’t mean I have hemorrhoids.

I mean I have huge piles of “stuff” . . . everywhere . . . taking over my studio . . . about to topple over . . . so much in some of them, I couldn’t possibly find anything if I wanted to.

Do you have the piles, too?

Please tell me I’m not alone!

Our task for today is:

Clean up a pile.

Just pick one pile and clean it up.

Now, if you’re like me, and have more than one pile, I don’t expect you (or me) to clean up every pile in just one day. Just pick the one that’s bothering you the most, and work on that one today.

And if you’re not a pile maker, you can still leave a comment to that effect, just so the rest of us can be jealous (or make fun of you), then sit back and know that you’re already done with today’s task because you clean your piles up as you go. How can you live like that?

Now I know this next part will be frightening to look at (it terrifies me), and those of you who aren’t pile makers will be cringing, but here’s a few shots of some of my piles as of 6:30 this morning.

My desk. Pathetic. And yes, that IS a table in front of my desk. Doesn’t everyone have a table in front of their desk to catch the overflow? Obviously, I’ve been thinking it makes sense. Hello?

The floor. That’s mostly a pile of UFOs and supplies I have no idea what to do with. Decisions need to be made.

My island. It’s always piled, no matter how hard I try to keep it clear.

The stool beside the island. Obviously not for sitting on.

My scrap basket. Remember me saying I was going to take care of this every month so it didn’t get out of hand like this ever again? No? Good. Because evidently, I don’t remember saying that, either.

My scraps. I had visions of all of these fitting into that one biggest red bin that’s piled like a mountain. Said vision is apparently not coming to fruition just yet.

And please notice above that I said “some of my piles”. These shots do not include the pile beside my sewing machine, the pile beside the ironing board, the pile under the longarm, or the piles in front of the bookcase.

And you’re now wondering if you should nominate me for the next episode of “Hoarders”, and I’m hoping my daughter doesn’t read my blog.

Furthermore, that’s enough embarrassment for one day for me, so I’m off to go start work on the piles. I’m picking the smallest one first, and once I’ve tackled that one, maybe it’ll be motivation to do more.

If I’m not buried under an avalanche of something by the end of the day, I’ll come back this evening and post updates so you can see what I got done. You all need to give me some before and after shots of your own progress, and don’t forget to leave a comment here letting us all know that you did today’s task, so you’ll be eligible for the prizes.

Good luck to us all!

I’m going in . . .

Ready . . . Set . . . GO!

Published in: on December 29, 2011 at 7:29 am  Comments (21)  

2011 Final Countdown

It’s time again.

Time for this year’s Final Countdown.

If you’ve been with me the last couple years, this is the 3rd annual . . .

It’s my way of getting a fresh start on the New Year, and I really do enjoy dragging you all in on it with me!

If you’d like to see what we did for last year’s Final Countdown tasks, here are the links:

2010 Final Countdown announcement

2010 Final Countdown Task One

2010 Final Countdown Task Two

2010 Final Countdown Task Three

This will give you an idea of what it’s like and what we’ll be doing. I might repeat some of the tasks, or dream up something totally new — you’ll just have to check back to find out! (You can also visit the December 2009 archives — in the sidebar, below right — to see what we did the year before that, if you wish.)

This year’s Final Countdown starts tomorrow. Here’s how it works:

* Each day, for the next 3 days, I’ll assign you a task.

* Your job is to do the task.

* When you’ve done the task, comment on that day’s post, and either link to a blog post you’ve written about it, or just leave a comment telling us all how you did. You can comment on each day’s post, as you do each task. Even if you don’t do the task, you can still comment for a chance at the prizes.

* You have until noon, January 5th, 2012, to complete all the tasks, and leave your comments. At that time, I will draw one prize for each task from the comments left on each task’s post. That’s three winners.

So . . . check back tomorrow, when your first task will be assigned. And yes, just like usual, I’ll be doing these right alongside you (or will have already done them so I can give you inspiring examples — haha).

Are you in?

Ready to get a fresh start on 2012?

See you tomorrow, then . . .

Published in: on December 28, 2011 at 10:52 am  Comments (4)  

LIVE 2011 – Final Update

I decided to skip the last 2 updates, see what progress I could make before the end of the year on my 11 things, and then just make one final report . . . and here it is.

1. Faithfully keep a daily diary

Still going, and I intend to keep going. After all, my book goes 5 years! I want to fill it up. I also started a paper journal to put things in related to certain dates, like ticket stubs, pictures, things I found, etc. It’s not a daily thing, but something I just add to every now and then. It’ll end up like a memory journal, and so far I like it.

2. Finish 100 (quilting or sewing-related) projects this year

I’m at 50 finished projects right now. So I’ve already done better than last year (when I only did 42), and there’s yet time for me to finish some small things if I just apply myself. We’ll see. Even if I could do just one more thing, I could say I made it over the halfway mark.

3. Get my studio whipped into shape (be more organized)

Progress on the studio reorganization has pretty much completely halted while I’ve been so busy doing commission orders and quilting customer quilts in time for Christmas. However, those are all done, and I’m planning to really spend some time whipping it into shape so that I can start out 2012 with a clean and organized work area. I’ve known what I’ve wanted to do all along, I just haven’t taken the time. The rest of the year is for me!

4. Make major improvements to the ranch shack

The shack’s kitchen is still under major renovation. We demolished it at the end of the summer, and I got too busy, and just left it that way. It’s definitely got to be addressed, however, so it’s another thing I want to get to work on and make some real progress on — both before the end of the year and on into next year. I will be showing before and after pictures of the kitchen and the studio and anything else I make improvements on. I need to brag to someone!

5. Ride my horse more

A whole year, and I didn’t ride nearly as much as I should have. The good thing about Bonnie, though, is that she’s 22 years old, and she’s always the same, no matter how long I go without riding her. She’s just always the same, no matter what. That’s one reason I love her so much. She is so agreeable, and really takes care of me when I do want to go riding.

6. Pay more attention to my health

A whole year, and I lost 6 pounds. However, that’s better than gaining 6 pounds! I do plan to do much better on this in the coming year. It really is true that “if you don’t have your health, you don’t have anything,” and I really need the energy to deal with all the great things that are coming my way and that I want to get done. So this needs to become a priority, and I need to stop procrastinating on it.

7. Establish some routines (personal and work-related)

I’ve done pretty good with setting a schedule, tweaking it when I need to, and using it as a guideline for the things I want to get done each week. I make the list, then see how much of it I can get done in that week, then each week, I try to beat my previous week’s record. I have to make things a game for myself . . . Anyway, the game is working, and I’m going to add in some more things to help keep me on track and be more productive in the next year. I think I’m ready. I think this is the first year that I made most of my deadlines without a frantic panic-filled make-everyone-around-me-miserable last-minute rush. I was able to pace myself, space out the work, and not become a crazy woman. All thanks to my new routines. I think I’ll keep it up!

8. Decrease my fabric stash

I’m planning to post one final Stash Report at the end of the year, and then I’m going to quit keeping track. Keeping track hasn’t really done that much for me, and I think I’ve got good enough habits that I will continue to shop in my stash before running to the quilt shop for more. Plus, keeping track is just one more thing to have to do, and I need to simplify my life. One less thing on my plate if I give this up!

9. Decrease my number of UFOs

I still haven’t done a proper count of all my UFOs, but I haven’t started anything new in quite some time, either. I have a new plan on how to address a few of my oldest UFOs in 2012. I’ll let you in on that later on, when I’ve decided on the details.

10. Get back to work on competition quilting

A whole year, and all I’ve done is think about this. Really? A whole year? I have problems. Fear of success? Fear of failure? Yeah, it’s pretty daunting to see all those quilts at a major show, but I’ve had quilts in those same shows before — what’s holding me back now? It only stands to reason that I should be a better quilter now than I was back then, and I did it then. I need to get started. Just set aside the time and dedicate myself to it again. I’ll keep you posted on how that goes . . .

11. Cultivate my creativity

I no longer go anywhere without my camera and my sketchbook. It really does make the ideas come faster than I can deal with them, but the book is a great resource for when I am ready to start something. Hopefully, some of those ideas will come to fruition soon, and I’ll show them to you for real!

And that’s how I did on my 11 things to work on in 2011. Not 100%, but it’s most likely way more progress than I would have made if I hadn’t paid attention and tried these things.

What about you? Did you do great things in 2011? Did you make forward progress on some things you wanted to work on? Do you have big plans for 2012? I sure do . . . Stay tuned!

Published in: on December 20, 2011 at 7:37 pm  Comments (2)