Sunday, January 25, 2015

Stash Report - Weeks 3-4, 2015

It has been a relatively quiet few weeks in my sewing room.  I also managed to stay away from the quilt shops, so that really helps the stash report. At the same time last year, I'd added over 5 yards to my stash and used about 2 1/2.  This year, I am working on using some fabric, especially in kits.  

My usage over the past two weeks is for two things - the first is my experimenting with color and scraps. I picked blue as my color of the month and made a couple string blocks. I really enjoyed this and realized in the process that I can made a ton of string blocks with all the scraps I have in my scrap buckets! I might get a couple more made this month, but even if not, I think this is a good start for my year. The only fabric that is being counted for these blocks is the muslin foundation, because I figure I have already counted the scraps when I cut the original fabric. 

The second bit of usage is from my first kit of the year, Winterberry Singles "Merry and Bright" by Whimsicals.  My goal this year is to make up several of my kits (enough so you can see the difference when I take a picture of them at the end of the year). I cut out the first one this week, spent several hours working on it today, and it is now a finished top.  I have a quilt ready to go on the frame, but then plan to quilt this right after that so that I can call it finished! 

Here's the accounting: 

Fabric added last two weeks: 0 yards
Fabric used last two weeks: 1 3/4 yards

Fabric added year to date: 0 yards
Fabric used year to date: 5 1/8 yards

I am pretty happy with the usage so far, and hoping that I can keep it going for at least a few more weeks. 

Monday, January 12, 2015

2015 Goals

I declare 2015 The Year of the Kits!   I have decided that my primary goal for my quilting and cross-stitching in 2015 will be to focus on the kits I have. That doesn't mean that I won't also work on other projects, but I will make a concerted effort to start to make up/finish the many kits I have purchased, won, or been gifted. 

Here's a picture of my quilting kits: 

And my cross-stitch kits: 
Sorry - can't get this one to turn...but either way you look at it, there are a lot of kits! 
I should have no lack of things to do! 

To go along with the year of the kits, I also have a few other crafting and personal goals. 

Crafting goals: 
1. Experiment with some single color piecing (many fabrics, one color) - I have lots and lots of scraps and I think this will be a good way to use some of them and also try my hand at string piecing.  I am not sure what I will do with the finished blocks, but I am not going to worry about that now!  My tentative plan is to pick a color each month, and experiment with that color. 
2. Start to clear out some of the stash - after four years with Lois' stash plus my own, I have started to come to the realization that there are some pieces I really won't ever use, so I plan to do a little cleaning out this year - some may go to charity and some may be sold.
3. Keep quilting - quilt at least another 20 tops on my HQ Avante. 
4 Keep stitching - continue my momentum from the past month and get some serious cross-stitching done this year. I'd like to work on the kits, but also make some ornaments. 5. Continue to learn crocheting - I have enjoyed this new craft and want to keep learning and trying new things. I hope to finish several projects this year. 

Personal goals: 
I am keeping this simple this year and giving myself one goal/challenge. Each week, I will clean up one small space. I am really good at stuffing things into nooks and crannies, so my goal is to work through corners, junk drawers, bags, boxes, etc. I figure if I work on just one small space at a time, then it isn't too daunting. I have already completed this for the first two weeks of the year - first with the bottom of the pantry, and then with a trunk of kids clothes - and feel I have a good start. A lot of this won't be noticed by others, but I hope it will help me feel a little less cluttered.  

I will keep you updated throughout the year on the sidebar of my blog.  If you want to join me in the year of the kits, I will be posting pictures on instagram with #yearofthekits.  

So, do you have any goals this year?  Let me know what they are and if I get enough comments, I will do a little giveaway to get me started on crafting goal #2! 

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Stash Report - Week 2, 2015

Since the stash is going in the right direction, I decided to write up a quick report for this week.  Monday was my bee's work day, and my mom and I worked on making a back and binding for the comfort quilt we are making together. I brought lots of fabric to choose from and the most unlikely piece turned into the binding. Isn't it funny when that happens?  My mom took the job of making the binding on the bias, and I pieced the back.  

I would normally show a picture, but it is loaded on my frame and the picture of it rolled up and upside-down would be pretty wierd, so I will just wait and show pictures once we get it quilted (my job) and bound (mom's job).  

No shopping this week, so no fabric added - that makes for a nice report! 

Fabric added this week: 0 yards
Fabric used this week: 2 3/4 yards

Fabric added year to date: 0 yards
Fabric used year to date: 3 3/4 yards

Net fabric used: 3 3/4 yards

Hope you had a great week with your stash! 

2014 Year in Review

As I said at the beginning of 2014, I always enjoy taking a little time at the end of the year to look back on the projects I worked on.  I tend to take pictures of projects as I get them to some point of completion, so most of my pics at the end of the year are of completed projects, or at least completed tops. 

As I went into the folder to pull the pictures for my collage, I didn't think I would find much. It really seems like I didn't do a lot of quilting throughout the year.  In the end, when I pulled the photos together, I found I had the exact number of photos as I'd had last year! Several of this year's projects were small, so they were quick ones, but that was also one of my goals for this year, so I am pretty happy with the outcome.  


Now that you've see the picture of what I finished, here's how I did on my goals for 2014: 

1. Quilt some tops.  I realized this year that I tend to stall on my UFOs when they get to a finished top stage, unless I have a specific deadline, so I am going to try to focus on quilting several of the tops that are waiting for me now and also quilting the new ones which I make through 2014. I did well on this one. I didn't get through as many UFOs as I had hoped, but I hardly had any projects that got stalled at the quilting phase this year.  The only two tops that I finished which haven't been quilted are the two that I made at my fall retreat, and I have been keeping the longarm busy since then.  I haven't figured out how I want to quilt either of those, but hope to get to them in 2015. 
2. Use my patterns - I have done a fair job of this over the last few years, but want to continue to work on making patterns that I've bought, because I liked them all when I bought them, so I really should use them! I did okay with this, but not smashingly. I did make one quilt from a pattern I really wanted to use (the curved piecing one with the teal and purple), and I did make a couple bags from existing patterns. It will continue to be a challenge for me to make patterns I have already bought! 

3. Keep my Avante busy - quilt another 20 quilts this year, and really work on improving my quilting skills through taking my Craftsy classes and trying some of the techniques in them.  While not all quilts will call for custom quilting, I would like to do that on a few. I am pleased with how I did on this. I quilted 21 tops this year, with several being done for my mom or other friends. I finished both of my Angela Walters Craftsy classes, and I used custom quilting techniques on 4 of the tops I quilted. 
4. Stitch Away! I am near finishing my oldest stitching UFO and plan to keep stitching after that one is done. I'd like to finish 6 stitching projects this year (and actually finish them, not just put them into my pile of "stitched but not framed" linens). I had a great year for my stitching (I need to take a photo of them too!). I completed the stitching on 8 projects, and finished 2 of them into gifts, and also did the finishing work for 2 more (one stitched in 2014, and one stitched long ago). I am really glad to have found "The Twisted Stitcher" blog with all of the finishing techniques. My mom and I decided that we need to dedicate a full day to finishing work every once in a while. 
5. Make gifts - I have so many patterns that will make great gifts, so I'd really like to focus in 2014 on making gifts for others - and throughout the year, so I am not backed up in December like I was this year! I did make several gifts this year, and gave them out throughout the year. When it came time to pull out gifts for Christmas, I had a few and had to make a few, but I certainly wasn't pressed for time like I have been in a few years past. 

Personal goals: 
1. Watch more movies - I want to take the time to go to the movies and watch them at home. We have a Netflix subscription that Mike and the kids make good use of, but that I don't use as much. I'll set the goal at 1 movie a month in the theater and at least 1 a month at home.  I did so-so on this one. We started the year well and made it to the movies four months in a row, but then missed several. I think in the end, I saw 6 or 7 movies in the theater last year. I did okay with Netflix and worked down my queue a bit. I would guess that I watched 8 or 10 Netflix movies. 
2. Keep cooking - with the success of our recipe challenge last year, I want to keep cooking new things and making good use of my recipes. This year, I won't pick a specific cookbook each month, but I do want to work my way through some of the paper recipes. A+! We had a great year of trying new recipes, and I have already shared a little of that. I am glad to have whittled down many of the recipes I pulled to "try one day" and we found some new favorites. 
3. Keep working to clean stuff out. I did a fairly good job of going through my stuff last year, but I didn't clean much out and I know I could revisit this. I also need to get a handle on the kids' outgrown clothes and their old toys and books. Hmmm, didn't do as much as I could have/should have on this one. The kids and I did clean out toys and books over the Thanksgiving break and I did a good sweep of clothes early in the year, but there is still far too much junk that I am hanging on to - this continues to be a challenge, so will continue to be a goal. 


I hope that you were able to take some stock at the end of 2014 and are happy with the results of your year.  I already have 2015 goals in progress and will share what they are soon! 

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Wrapping up the 2014 Cooking Challenge with December Recipes

Mike and I reflected a bit over the last two weeks on our two years of cooking challenges - in year 1, I selected a cookbook each month and we cooked recipes from that cookbook; in year 2, I gathered together all the recipes that I had been given, picked up, or cut out and started to work through them. While the process for both years required some planning and meal shopping, it really didn't add too much time or expense to the weekly grocery trip. The benefits we have gotten from the challenges have been great - lots of new ingredients tried, much more variety in our meals, better ability to make do when we don't have a real plan for dinner, and more adventurous palates for all of us, but especially the kids. We instituted a measurement system for the menus where everyone gave a thumbs up, thumbs down, or sideways thumb. When Jack really likes something, he gives it a double thumbs up with an explosion! It has been a good way to measure how much we like the recipes and the likelihood that we'll make them again. Four thumbs up or even three up and one sideways is a winner recipe for us. 

I don't think we will have a specific focus this year, because we have really incorporated this approach into how we plan our meals - we will continue to introduce a couple new recipes each month from a variety of sources. Plus, we have two years worth of recipes, many of which we want to revisit, so the menu will become a mix of old standbys, revisited recipes, and new offerings.  I am not sure if I will blog about them, so let me know if you enjoy reading these posts - I might wind up continuing them just to keep a record for me so that I can go back and remember what we liked :) 

Anywho...here are the recipes we made in December, in no particular order. 

Campbell's Slow Cooker Tuscan Beef Stew - we all liked this (adults liked it a little better than kids) and it was a great crock pot recipe. Once home, we just made some egg noodles and added the beans to the stew and dinner was ready. We love those nights! 

Southwest White Chili - This one was a hit for three of us - Jenna wasn't much of a fan, but she routinely tells me that she just doesn't care for soups that much. I keep feeding them to her until she finds one she likes! 

Bulgur-and-Chickpea Salad - When I pulled out the ingredients to make this, I found that I had barley instead of bulgur. I was going to scrap the whole thing until I decided to substitute couscous. I took this to work for a pitch-in and it went pretty well - I liked the flavors all mixed together, especially the feta cheese. I would make a half-recipe if I made it again for our family, as it made a lot. 

Pepperoni Pizza Rolls - Anything with that title has got to be good, right?  Well, it was - and there was enough for leftovers the next day! All four of us liked this one. It was quite a few steps, so will probably be reserved for a weekend recipe, but we will definitely have this again. (This recipe was in a booklet from Hormel, but I couldn't find it on their website)

Turkey Meatball Subs - This one was a pretty typical meatball sandwich (they were really big!. We liked them, and it was nice to have fresh bread, but I am not sure that we'll make the effort to make them again - lots of ingredients in the meatballs, plus several steps to make, cook, broil made for a long recipe, and I think we can do almost as well with turkey meatballs from Trader Joe's! 

Parmesan and Pine Nut-Crusted Oven-Fried Chicken - This was another variety of breaded and baked chicken. The flavor was good, and all around the table liked this one. 

Rigatoni with Broccoli and Sausage - Another hit from the Everyday Food magazine. We all enjoyed this one and it was a pretty quick weeknight meal, so this might even go into our normal rotation. (forgot to get a picture of this one, but ours looked just about like the picture at the link)

Bacon and Butternut Pasta - This was the biggie for the month - special ingredients and a full page of instructions, including careful directions on how to not overcook the cream sauce.  I spent a long afternoon on this one, and the whole time I was making it, I just wasn't sure that I would like it not being a huge fan of the squash or kale. It turned out great!  The flavors all worked together really well. The kids didn't like the squash and Jenna thought it was too spicy, so I was glad to have some plain pasta for her to eat.  While I won't make this one regularly, I would be willing to make it again. 

Snowball Cookies - These are a variation on Mexican Wedding Cakes, made with almonds rather than pecans. They were good, but I think I prefer the traditional variety with pecans. I forgot to get a picture of this one, but they look just like the wedding cake cookies! (The recipe I linked to isn't the exact one I used, but it is very close)

Maple-Oatmeal Cookies - Lest you think everything I make turns out mostly like the picture, I share my fail on these cookies. It turns out that I used the wrong size measuring cup for the flour, so the batter was way too runny! This first batch became crumbles for ice cream.  I figured out the issue before making batch number two, so added flour and they started cooking correctly. In the end, no one in my house really ate these cookies. I would mix chocolate or butterscotch chips with oatmeal before I made these again! 


Sunday, January 4, 2015

Stash Report - End 2014/Week 1 2015

Unlike many stash reporters, I cut off the end of my year on the 31st of December and truly track usage for the full year. This also usually works out well because my mom and I wind up doing some shopping between Christmas and New Year's! That was the case this year, as we made a trip down to The Back Door and picked up a few things. It was a short list for me - a FQ for a future b-day gift, some fleece to make a scarf for my daughter (since she was begging), and a little quilter's vinyl (I don't count this as stash). 

I also used a little fabric between last Sunday and the 31st - to contribute to blocks that I was making for a comfort quilt. 

So, the full year 2014 report is as follows: 
Fabric added last (partial) week: 5/8 yard
Fabric used last week: 1/4 yard

Fabric added year to date: 48 1/8 yards
Fabric used year to date: 62 7/8 yards

Net fabric used: 14 3/4 yards

It is nice to end the year in the black, but I will have to work a little harder in 2015 not to add so much. In looking back at my spreadsheet, most of what I added was purchased at sales, so I guess if I stay out of the shops when they are having sales, then I can do a little better! 

Here's the result over time...I have done a good job of using fabric each year, but seem to be slipping in my used and net results. I am hoping to turn that curve up again this year. 

Added by year Used by year Net Used by year
2010 44.625 137.5 92.875
2011 48.625 126.375 77.75
2012 46.75 108.175 61.375
2013 27 78.875 51.875
2014 48.125 62.875 14.75

So, starting 2015 with a fresh report, I used a little fabric by making up the fleece scarf that I bought earlier in the week, and also by making up a small kit that I bought at my fall retreat, so that means a good start to the year! 


Fabric added this (partial) week: 0 yards
Fabric used this week: 5/8 yard

Net fabric used: 5/8 yard

Hope you've had a good first week of the new year! 

Saturday, January 3, 2015

December Accomplishments

For the last month of 2014, I didn't set any goals for my quilting, and it is a good thing, because I hardly did any sewing!  I was busy at work in the beginning of the month, then sick with a nasty bug, then spent another week recovering mostly on the couch. At least I did use the couch time for some crocheting and stitching, so I will include them in my report as well. 

I had a paltry 8 1/2 hours in my sewing studio in December, and here are the few things I got done: 
- Made second teacher gift - a tote bag from my favorite one hour tote pattern. 
- Attached binding to the fraternal twin table runners and hand-stitched the binding to one of them. 
- Made two doll sleeping bags with my daughter
- Quilted one of my UFOs - and advent calendar quilt 

- Made blocks for a comfort quilt my mom and I are working on together (picture to come when the top is done)

On the couch, I finished up the following projects: 
- Pokeball hat for my son

- "If Today Were a Dress" cross stitch

- Bunny fob cross-stitch kit (I will make it an ornament rather than a fob

- London taxi cross-stitch kit (a UFO I found when digging through my stitching stuff for something else). 


Even though the month didn't turn out at all how I'd planned, I think my body needed the time for rest and recovery (although I could have done without the 6-day fever) and I am feeling recharged and renewed for the new year.  I also really enjoyed spending some dedicated time with my cross-stitch and knocking off a few projects to end out the year!