Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Short Film About FSQ

Possibly first on the list of things I never thought would happen is having two men show up at the house to make a mini film about Fluffy Sheep Quilting (the shop).  How mind blowing is that?  How do you prepare?  What do you wear?  What do you say?  Oh jeeze it's a lot to take in.

Let me start at the beginning.  Before Christmas, I submitted an application to the JFC Innovation Awards for businesses in rural Ireland.  The call for applications fit me to a tee.  Here's what they were looking for: 

"The aim is to reward these companies [those using social media] and highlight the potential that social media has in attracting new customers and increased business. So, if you have  a business idea  or if  you have already set up  a business in rural Ireland, you should enter the JFC Innovation awards. While the winners will take away €40,000 in prizes, everyone who enters will get an opportunity to receive mentoring for their business. "

There are five categories.  A winner will be chosen in each individual category (I'm in social media) and then there will be one winner overall.  Depending on what level of "winner" you are you may get cash prizes and free PR/marketing or a mentor for your business. I could use all/any of the above, clearly.

I was interviewed by 3 panellists in February for the award and thought I totally blew it.  I'm a scientist after all.  A business/crafty interview was totally new to me and I just didn't know how to read people.  As it turns out I was wrong and Fluffy Sheep Quilting is a finalist in the social media category.  The awards (and announcement of the winner) will be in mid-May in N. Ireland.  In preparation, each finalist has a video made that highlights their business and interviews the business owner.  They sent the questions ahead of time so you could have a think about your responses (thank goodness!!!).  There will be a 1 minute video at the awards ceremony and then each business owner will receive a 3 minute video to use as promotional material for their shop.  It's brilliant and mind numbing all at the same time.  Panic sets in.

Well, these two fellas who came to make the video had you relaxed in no time.  They were quick with a smile, which helps in nearly all situations but especially when you are being interviewed in front of a camera.  We did the interview section first, then they took images of the shop and my sewing space.  You may have seen my IG photos trying to get things all neat and tidy...showing the best angle of every bolt of fabric.  I then had to sew together a few pieces (the action shot) and then we filmed the quilts out on the line.  Molly took part in that shot, clearly.

In the end, I had a great time making this mini film, primarily due to the two lovely guys who made it all so easy.  Thanks, Star Systems.  You were brilliant.  You can see a few of the editing shots and a still photo on their blog here and here from our day today.  I'm already blushing!

Monday, April 29, 2013

Spidy Senses Are Tingling

The wonderful Sarah has been plotting for months...waiting for her turn in our Modern Stitching Bee.  We had a few hints of what was rolling around in her mind, just teasing us.  Finally April arrived and she unveiled her super awesome tutorial to make Spiders Web blocks.  Her tutorial is very easy to follow and brings you through step by step drawing the pattern and piecing.  I, however, am not incredibly good at drawing patterns.  I tried my best, Sarah!  

It's a great block for burning through your scraps.  It uses scraps of all shapes and sizes, which is awfully handy.  

I couldn't find a piece of paper wide enough to make the 13 1/4 inch template, so for the first one I had to use gift wrapping paper.  That really worked pretty well.  By the second I found this:
And that was much much better.  They'll be off in the post to you today, Miss Sarah.

I started up with Instagram this past week using Sarah's blocks as a little tester project.  If you'd like to follow me there, I am @fluffysheepquilting.  You'll get a sneak peek of anything passing by the shop or sewing table days (weeks!?!?) before you see it here on the blog.

On another note, last week was a very difficult week for my family.  Everything is now just fine, but it was an awful roller coaster to get to this point.  Thank you so very much to many of you for your well wishes, prayers, good vibes, emails, texts, etc.  Knowing my quilty friends were supporting us made a huge huge difference.  Thank you. I am so lucky to have you all. xx

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Rainbow Charm Swap: They're Arriving!

My post box is overflowing with goodness this week!  I thought you might like to see what happiness has been arriving:

Yum yum!  That's right!  Charms for the charm swap.  Several ladies in the swap have been so on top of things that they have already received their fabric, cut like mad and shipped them.  Amazing.  I have been cutting like mad to try to keep up.  I have found my groove now and think it is quite relaxing cutting those little five inch squares.  Thank goodness.  I have many more to go!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Foundation Pieced Double Wedding Ring Quilts: A Book Review

I have double wedding ring quilts on the brain lately.  After Mod Pop I have a warped sense of curved piecing confidence (what!?!?) and I thought it might be nice to do a modern twist on a traditional pattern. It is a great way to use up those scraps, too!  

I was never one for rulers that are specific to a project or for tracing and cutting out templates.  I have it stuck in my head that I want to do this quilt via paper piecing.  I found this pattern and templates online.  They seem reasonable.  The commenters, though, seem to have troubles assembling the blocks.  Now, I do not know these folks or their quilting experience, so maybe they are not Mod Pop experienced and confident (ha!).  Regardless, I thought a book might be a good place to start.  

I bought Foundation Pieced Double Wedding Ring Quilts from Amazon last week.  I mean, seriously, it had the perfect title.  Maybe a quick book review is in order.  

Written by Sumiko Minei and translated by Ayu Ohta, this 64 page soft back book is filled with more variations on the Double Wedding Ring than you ever imagined were possible.  It is clear that the author's first language is not English.  However, the instructions for each individual quilt are written out in easy to follow step-by-step instructions, each with a clear accompanying photograph.  Each quilt variation is covered in great detail in those first 13 pages of instructions.  On first impression, the photos and brief description of each step are detailed enough to re-create that step at home.  There are even hints and tips as you go, which I always appreciate.

The one and only glitch (for me) is that the technique described is nearly a combination of paper piecing with reverse appliqué.  There's lots and lots of satin stitching to keep bits in place.  That's not at all my happiness. 

The author then takes you through 11 different variations on the DWR quilt (above) where she demonstrates how the different techniques can be used, gives ideas of color variations you might like and presents a brief description of the quilt stats such as block size, number of blocks used, thickness of border, etc.  I found this section to be particularly inspiring. It was really wonderful to see how you could interpret the same theme in so many ways using color placement.  I loved that.

The quilt eye candy is quickly followed by 2 pages of charts that give the fabric requirements for each variation.  It's super easy to understand and a great way to get yourself started.  

I especially love that included are pages and pages of coloring templates (woo hoo!) to photocopy and experiment with crayons.  I love a coloring page.  Nothing makes me happier.  There are, of course, also templates included to photocopy and use when cutting your fabric.  Included with the templates is a wonderful description of how you'd need to cut your fabric for that template, where to start stitching  etc.  It's all very clear and incredibly helpful.  The only negative here is that the book was originally written with metric measurements that were converted to imperial.  There is a disclaimer that if you choose to use imperial measurements the conversion may mean that your piecing is not incredibly accurate.  Huh.

The book is concluded with several suggestions for quilting your quilt.  It's incredibly inspiring to see.  I must say the patterns suggested are WAY beyond my ability, but it's always nice to have a few fresh ideas to stimulate my imagination.

All in all, it's a very nicely presented book filled with inspiration and very clear instruction.  However, as the techniques described here are primarily a reverse appliqué instead of the paper piecing I was looking for, I will most likely go ahead with the free online pattern I found earlier.  Still, this book did get my creative juices flowing.  For that I'm entirely thrilled to add it to my quilting library.  

Monday, April 15, 2013

I Love Science

There it is.  I've said it out loud.  I love science.  I'm pretty sure that make me the Queen of the Dorks, but I am quite happy with that title.

When I saw this cross stitch pattern I could not resist.  I was thinking that I might even bring it into work and hang it over my laboratory bench.  Wouldn't that be hilarious?  My peers know my love for needle and thread, so they would get a great laugh!

This is my first finish in the Q2 Finish Along.  I have been working on this since Christmas, but it was retired to the back of a shelf in Jan/Feb.  Now that the pup has arrived I needed to abandon the sewing machine for a few days and work on hand project.  It was the perfect time to dust off this cutie and finish it off.  I'm so glad I did!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

A Fluffy Pup

I am so pleased to tell you all that this little ball of fluff has joined the Fluffy Sheep household.  She is a Golden Retriever, turning 9 weeks old today.  She has joined us from Portaferry, Northern Ireland. It was a long day to pick her up and bring her home.  She was an absolute champ during our 5 hour drive home!

As she's a pup, there's a whole lot of chewing going on.  She's loving this little knotted rope bone thing.

It makes her so very happy!

She has been a delight to house break.  We did have a few minor "issues" last night, which were quickly cleaned up by disinfectants and paper towels.  She thinks a paper towel is a great time!  I had to give her the central roll to play with just so I could do a proper clean...at 4AM.

All in all, though, she's settling in just fine.  She melts my heart every time she catches my eye.  Any little girl this relaxed will surely blend into the household with ease.

We don't know her name yet.  Do you guys remember how we all chatted about Kona, Kokka, Bobbin, Bella a few weeks ago?  They just don't seem to suit her.  Molly is still bubbling up in my head and Perle bounces in/out.  I'll let you know when we settle on something.

I'm sure you're also wondering about Clarkson (the cat).  They have met and it went relatively well.  Last night they even had a little nose rub when they passed going in/out of the back door.  She (the dog) is interested, but really can't be bothered with Clarkson.  Clarkson wants to know what's making so much noise.  He's curious and is spending lots of time just watching the pup.  I think they're going to be just fine with a little more time.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Nearly There

If you know anything about anything, you do not buy wooden outdoor furniture when you live in Galway.  This sad bench sits outside our house courtesy of the people who lived here before us.  If you try to move it, it threatens to fall into a pile of timber.  There's no possible way it would take the weight of an adult...or a child...or even the cat.  It was able, though, to hold up little Pezzy for a few snaps.

I've finally finished quilting this little quilt.  I am delighted with the result.  This is my first time doing a concentric diamond pattern and I did really enjoy myself.  Now that I know what I am doing, I will work harder to make it a little less wonky.  You could easily use seams as your guide to make a point, pivot and start up the next side.  I did not think that through from my first diamond, so it was hard to fix as I got further and further in.

Can you see the little yellow diamonds on the back?

Now to bind it.  I was thinking of a lime green or a purple solid.  I'll "interview" a few possibilities the next few days and we will see what works.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Finish Along Q2 Goals

And we start off a new quarter with high hopes.  Here's what I would like to finish between now and June:

1. Rainbow Charm Swap
With 56 lovely ladies waiting, I aim to pack up and deliver an extra large charm pack to each one of them.  That means cutting nearly 3,000 charms and packing up over 6,000!  I have lots of yardage cut, so I just need to get down to business.

2. Pezzy Pizazz
The top is finished, she's layered and the quilted has begun!  I just have to finish the final 2/3 of the quilting and bind this cutie.

3. Tote
I have half of a tote made using this tutorial.  You see, it was to be a replacement Mouthy Stitches tote, but it was no longer needed.  I have the lining made using Summersville (with a little pocket) so I just have to make the exterior (out of Echino) and pop on two handles.  Easy peasy you'd think, but it's been sitting around my sewing room for months and needs to be finished off.

4. Liberty Love
Again, the top is done.  I even have most of the backing fabric here at home.  I need to do a little piecing, layer it and quilt like mad.  I was thinking of quilting it like this, then binding it in Liberty.  That's the plan at least.

5. Modern Stitching Bee
I have the most gorgeous bee blocks piled up here in my sewing space.  I so love them.  It's time to start assembling the top and get this pretty finished off.

6. Knitted Cap
I have a knitted cap made of the most beautiful home spun yarn, sent to me by Judy.  This cap is 95% finished.  I just have another little bit of knitting to do to finish the crown.  If only you guys could feel this...it's so soft, fuzzy and warm.  Gorgeous.  I can't wait to break it out next winter.

7. Knitted Purse
I have a green knitted purse that has been an on and off project for me since Christmas.  I have both handles done and one side.  The second side is 1/2 finished.  I just have to finish that last side and assemble.  I love this project.  I'm not sure why it's taking me so long to finish it.

8. Dorky Science Cross Stitch.
For those of you who may not know me well, I'm a total science dork.  When I saw this cross stitch pattern, who could resist?  I am about half way finished. It is not a masterpiece, but it makes me happy.  I can't wait to finish and hang it above my work desk.  Wouldn't that be hilarious?

I think those are the major UFOs that I can plan to finish in the next three months.  I had better get stitching!

Leanne, thanks again for hosting.  You know I love a good to-do list :)

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Quilting Pezzy

Been doing a lot of this lately:

I am slowly getting there.  I have chosen to quilt concentric diamonds using a slightly off center diamond as my guide.  I am using yellow thread to create diamonds 1/2 inch apart from one another.  They have gone a wee bit wonky, but I have to say I still love it!

I will say the recent post by Fiona was so fantastic for me in the planning stage.  It really had me thinking of which way to start my quilting so I  didn't end up with the whole quilt stuck in my harp.  Thank you, Fiona!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Quarter 1 FAL Round Up

Wow!  Quarter 1 came and went so quickly!  Here we are in early April and it's time to link up our finishes with Miss Leanne's linky party. All quarter long I was thinking I was right on track, but it turns out I wasn't!  Surprise surprise.  Three out of six were finished.  Here's how it breaks down:

DONE: A diaper bag for my new niece Nieve.  It was even received in Boston and is in use in Mommy And Me groups.  Hurray!

NOT DONE: Mouthy Stitches Tote V2.  
I have to say I'm quite happy to not finish this.  As it turns out the original bag was returned to me, then sent again to Australia and it's now in its happy home.  Woo hoo!  I did start making a new bag for Kirsten, that I guess is now for me.  You might see that in the Q2 list :)

Stolen from Kirsten's blog.  It looks happy down under, doesn't it?
NOT DONE: Chaos V2.  I did not even touch this, even tough I saw it laying in my sewing room each and every day of the quarter.

NOT DONE: Electronica.  I did finish the top (woo hoo!), but it's not layered and quilted.  The back needs to be put together and that's kind of putting me off.  Again, this might re-appear in Q2.

DONE: I Spy Quilt for donation.  I like this little finish.  Quick and easy and totally rewarding.

DONE: Two Frame PursesWhew!  Just squeezing in this finish at the last minute.  I'm so pleased with how these turned out that I'd love to make another.

Thanks so much, Leanne, for hosting this FAL.  You will keep me going for the next 3 months!

Monday, April 1, 2013

Squeezing in one last finish

Leanne said we could, so I'm going to take advantage of this one last week to get a Q1 finish out there.

Frame purses.  Yippee for frame purses!  A friend asked for these MONTHS ago, but I couldn't get myself motivated enough to make them.  What was wrong with me?  They're so easy!  Armed with a fab tutorial and two frames, it was time to get stitching.

I had total freedom to choose the fabrics, but I wanted to be sure my friend will use them.  She wears lots of floral prints, usually in blues.  However nearly every floral shirt she has includes a splash of orange or yellow. I though the brights in the Echino leaves/flowers and the bright red/aqua combo might suit her well.

They're lined with a little pink floral print and Kona lime.  I love a Kona lime liner...a little splash of surprise color when you open it up.  Awesome.

In all honest these frame purses were finished last weekend.  I just didn't get myself organize enough to take a photo in time.  Leanne, thank you for our one last week of grace!  I'm off to link up my finishes!

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