Monday, March 30, 2020

finding joy

Hello friends! How are you doing? I hope you all are well and safe and finding ways to enjoy yourself despite these crazy times.  Last year my word of the year was Joy. Well, just because the year ended, that doesn't mean I ditch my word. So, I thought I'd share a few ways I am finding joy during these days of social distancing.

First off, FAMILY! Today hubby and I did a group FaceTime with all three of our adult children. Our kiddos live in three different states and the nearest one is a 4 hour drive away from us. They all stay well connected, but to have them all on the screen at the same time was a real treat...
Hubby and I even checked in on separate phones, adding to the fun. Oh and I'd say 2/3 of the time we were looking at Malibu, not Ally....
Another thing I find helpful is to get outside. Today hubby and I went for a drive to find the blooming Texas Bluebonnets! Our favorite field of bluebonnets was in full bloom and there were very few people around.... score! We took lots of pictures...

They really are a sight to see! On the way home, we drove through the McDonalds drive through and got milkshakes...
yes, I had a shamrock shake. don't judge me!

Of course I am doing lots of quilting and weaving to stay occupied. While I'm busy in my studio, I like to listen to podcasts that lift me up. One real favorite of mine is Andy J Pizza's Creative Pep Talk. Andy is a graphic designer/illustrator and public speaker who is so much fun to listen to!

A new favorite podcast is Brene Brown's Unlocking Us. Brene is a well known social worker, author and public speaker who I have admired for a long time. Podcasting is new for her and her timing couldn't be better. She has some incredible insights for living in these turbulent times. 

When I'm not listening to podcasts, I'm often listening to music on Amazon music. My favorite station is the Colbie Caillat station.

What are you doing to keep joy in your life? Do share!

Monday, March 23, 2020

Solid Seven Update

Every month I look forward to the latest Solid Seven prompt in my mailbox. These gals never fail to come up with fun and challenging blocks. In February, Sarah challenged us to use "improv maximalism" to make monochromatic blocks. I had to do some serious research to understand what she was going for! Turns out improv maximalism is basically an intense use of saturated color. Got it! My first block was very oddly shaped. When I asked Sarah if she wanted me to square it up she said "no way!" so this is what I sent her....
Block number two used my favorite aquas & teals with some triangle and curves....
And block number three was pink pink pink! lots of quarter circles and a pieced stripe.... 

I can't wait to see how these play with the blocks my beemates sent to Sarah!

March was Nicole's turn. She reminded us of the loopy flowers we all drew all over our notebooks in middle school.... remember those? Nicole really put me to the test. She asked us to needle-turn appliqué large versions of those doodly flowers. Yikes! I persevered and she seems happy with the two blocks I sent her...
What a happy garden her quilt promises to be!
For April, Laura asked us to make churn dash blocks in bright, saturated colors. Can do! I know it's still March, but today I started pulling colors to audition for her blocks. Next thing I knew, I had them all made!
I'm not sure when I'll be allowed to head to the post office to mail them off to her, but as soon as the coast is clear, they are ready to go!

Guess who is up for May? Me! I have an idea in mind, now I need to make some sample blocks and get my prompt ready. I have plenty of time..... Meanwhile my Feeling Groovy quilt from last fall's 70s prompt is at the quilter and as soon as it arrives home I'll be putting the binding on it! Fun Fun!

What are you working on these days?

Friday, March 20, 2020

Patchwork Tea Quilt

A couple of weeks ago I was lucky to have the opportunity to test out Jessica's newest pattern, the Patchwork Tea Quilt. I made one block, which was lots of fun! I plan to make more blocks to add to it down the road.
One clever part of this block that I love is the addition of some bits of selvage stitched to each tag. I had a blast digging through my selvages deciding what to use on mine. Then I found this one and it was perfect!

If you're looking for a fun pattern I highly recommend  this one! Jessica is including her Teabag Wallet pattern with each purchase which is a terrific bonus. I plan to make a bunch of those to use as Christmas Gifts next year. Might as well start knocking them out while I'm stuck at home!

Happy sewing friends!

Wednesday, March 18, 2020


Well the world sure has turned upside down these past few days, hasn't it? I'm normally quite content to stay in, hanging out in my studio making things, but tell me I CAN'T leave the house? Suddenly it all feels very confining. But enough of that nonsense, we're all in the same boat, aren't we? We'll get through this together.

Our pastor at church reminds us every single week that "Wherever you go, whatever you do, God goes with you" and I love that. Several weeks ago I drew the above quilt top in my sketchbook, thinking "one day I'll stitch that up". Well, today felt like just the right day to do that. I can't wait to quilt up this little quilt (24" x 34") so I can hang it as a constant reminder. 

I seem to be on an improv star kick lately. I made this Stars over the City mini a couple not weeks ago for a class I plan to teach at Not Your Mama's Quilt Store. The background fabric in the two quilts is actually the same, I blame poor lighting for the variation you see here. 

So it appears I have the beginning of a series going here.... we'll see if that continues!

I hope you are well and finding creative things to do in these unsettling days. 

Monday, March 9, 2020

learning something new

I've always been that girl who tries every new hobby she comes across. Some of them stick for life (quilting, weaving, embroidery) others are a fail for me (painting, knitting) but hey, I tried! Quiltcon classes are an excellent opportunity for me to learn something new. This year's adventure? Korean Bojagi. What's that, you ask? Great question. I'll be honest, when I signed up for the class with Daisy Aschehoug I didn't have a clue. I only knew that it was being held in the hand sewing room so it had to be good, right?

my first attempts at Bojagi
It was better than good! It was awesome. The cool thing about Bojagi is that it is finished on both sides. The Korean's often use the finished pieces as gift wrapping. I have seen pictures of them hung in windows (so beautiful when the light shines through), incorporated into clothing, bags, etc. So many possibilities! I am working with Kona cottons for mine.
Daisy suggested making this a 100 day project, adding pieces every day for 100 days and watching my progress. I decided to do exactly that. Here's where I stand at day 15 of Bojagi...
My stitches are getting neater and neater! Do you want to follow along? I'm using the hashtag #ellynlearnsbojagi on Instagram. I also plan to teach this technique to others as I improve. 

What new thing have you learned lately?

Monday, March 2, 2020

Improv triangle sew along

Ever since I received  Nicholas Ball's book, Inspiring Improv, for Christmas I've been intrigued with his techniques. So when he announced his improv triangle sew along on Instagram, I was gently nudged by friends and decided to join in. With Quiltcon smack dab in the middle of the sew along and other commitments I had made, I decided to join on a small level. To start, I made 30 triangle units to assemble into a mini quilt.
I made these all from my scrap bins, using solids and prints that read solid in pinks and aquas.

By the end, I had this awesome mini and and a new triangle technique under my belt...'
I quilted it on my domestic machine with a walking foot, horizontal lines 1 inch apart and 30 degree angled lines coming from both directions, which forms a lovely triangle at the bottom, hard to see in the photos but I rather like it...
Thanks for the great opportunity, Nicholas! I'm so glad I joined in. If you want to see more of the sew along check out the hashtag #improvtrianglesewalong. Many made large and gorgeous quilts!