Friday, July 27, 2012

The Value Of Procrastination

I am a procrastinator extraordinaire. I have an uncanny ability, some might even call it a talent or gift, for avoiding work. If there isn't an imminent deadline lurking, I can find something to do to avoid working on the things I should be working on. My current project, besides client quilts, are all related to the soon-to-arrive grand baby.

Earlier this week, I headed into the studio to work on the curtains for the nursery. They are hemmed, I just need to straight stitch around the little animal appliques I have added to jazz them up a bit. I did two or three of the appliques and my hand started cramping. (I still have issues with my joints on occasion, depending on what I have been doing.) I wanted to be in my studio sewing, and since applique and precision just wasn't in the cards, I started looking around for an interim project and came upon a package of rope I had purchased for a class a couple years ago.

Inspiration! I would start covering the rope to make a dog bed for my friend Linda's yap dogs. I dug out my bin or scrap strips and started sorting. The ideal width to cover the rope is 2.5 inches, exactly the width I cut my binding strips. I pulled all the binding strips out into a pile few of them end to end and I was off covering that rope.

Crazy Fabric Bowl/Cat Bed

Here's the instructions for this silly diversion. Sew a bunch of 2.5 inch strips of fabric end to end. I sew them together with a 45 degree seam as they lie flatter. Press the seams open and press the entire length in half lengthwise to make a long skinny strip with a fold down one side. I may have gotten carried away with the number of strips, I did every 2.5 inch strip in my scrap box. The picture below is of what was left when I finished the dog bed.

Roll of left over binding strips.
Note those sexy paper scissors I
Use as thread snips!
Cover the rope with the fabric strip by wrapping the rope in the strip with the raw edge tucked inside. Straight sew down the strip to hold the fabric tight to the rope.

First section of covered rope. Note the lump on the right where
I cheated and joined the strips with a straight seam. Bad Cathy!
Start sewing the strip together with a zig zag seam, pressing them tight together as they pass under the presser foot. I like to use a walking foot, but it will work with your normal foot. I use a wide zigzag with a medium length. If you start with a long strip and double back on itself, you will get an oval as shown below. If you start with a tight curl, you will get a circular bottom.
Base of dog bed.
Keep sewing around and around until you have a large enough base. Once it is big enough, snip the rope off and secure the end. Now, stack the rope on top of the last round and start sewing it in place. The first row is basically stitched right on top of the last row of the base. Keep stacking and sewing until you have reached the desired height. (Or until you run out of rope.)
Finished dog bed. I haven't quite
perfected getting the sides
to stay straight.
Note how the sides of the bed are warbly, this is because I used a softer rope. This is the effect I wanted, soft and squishy for the dogs to lay on. If you want a firm sided bed, use a stiffer rope, just be certain that it is soft enough to stitch through easily.

Sir Winston Churchill,
claiming the bed as his own.
To heck with Linda's dogs.
I finished the bowl and threw it on the floor to take a picture of it. As you can see, the cat instantly claimed it as his own. So much for a dog bed for Linda's dogs. I guess they get the next one.

Now, I'm off to the studio to sew those curtains, or maybe make another dog bed, or quilt a baby quilt, or alter those silk pajamas or work on the quilt I started in the middle of the dog bed eight point scrappy striped star quilt. Or maybe I'll start something new. You never know what will happen when I hit the studio.


Friday, July 20, 2012

Fidgets, Tangles and Distractions

As you probably know, I work for myself. This is a mixed blessing. I can set my own hours and take time off whenever I feel like it. However, I am seriously hampered by the fact that, as a general rule, I am fairly lazy. I work best with deadlines; in reality that is the only way I get anything finished. This often means long days and weird hours. Procrastination can lead to some pretty busy days.

While quilting doesn't take much focus, concentration, or brain power; pattern design, instruction writing and novel writing does. I do a lot of plotting and mental revisions while I quilt, which means my brain is quite active. No snide comments please, I'm trying to make a point. The point of this is ... crap I forgot.

Oh yeah ... sometimes, the mind just needs a rest. The trouble with me is, I get twitchy if I have to sit still for too long. I need something to occupy my hands while my mind unwinds. I do hand applique, some crochet, embroidery and knitting, but find that they often require more brain power than I am willing to expend. This is why I took up doodling.

I blame Jill Buckley for this. I was reading blogs in late 2010. (Yes, I was procrastinating.) Anyway, I stumbled upon The Quilt Rat Blog. This is Jill's blog. She is an artist extraordinaire. At the time, she was having a contest to win one of her doodles. I entered and I won, and I was completely inspired. I rushed out, got myself some books, pens and card stock and started doodling.

Pardon the flash spots.
I have them behind plastic in an album
to protect them from coffee!

Ya, I sign and number them. Some day I might be
famous, er infamous, or something. LOL
I will never have a steady hand at this...because I am twitchy, and impatient. Another important fact is that I cannot draw. I took a drawing class once, but the instructor told me to give it up, I would never be able to draw. I was young, I listened to her. Today, I might just give her a cuff upside the head for being nasty.

These days, my creativity is geared more to quilt designs and writing, but I do love to doodle. If you want to see some really impressive work, check out Jill's blog or pick up a Zen Doodle Book like this one.
Totally Tangled: Zentangle and Beyond

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Random and Irrelevant Thoughts

This post is nothing but a random collection of thoughts. How unlike me. (*grin*) I want to begin by thanking my rheumatologist. She worked hard to bring relief to the agony I was living. I thank heaven every day for her. She gave me back my life.

This is the quilt I gave to my Rheumatologist
for giving me my life back.

The next thought that comes to mind is my Rogue's Gallery. I love family pictures. Keeping them in an album doesn't really suit me, because i never see them. So, i keep most of them tucked away, but i have many on display. The stairs between my main floor and second floor are circular, so as you come up the stairs, there are three walls which make a perfect display place for the pictures that I love. There are individual shots, family shots, pet pictures, group pictures, and even some collages. There is no order, none at all. I just whack them up wherever they fit. Frame color or size doesn't matter, neither does subject. Funny thing is, it works for me, and it makes me smile.

Left Hand Wall

Right Hand Wall

Center Wall
Bulletin boards for pictures sent by friends and rellies.

I do love my pictures, and have them all over the house.

The only thing worse than that are my books. I have stacks and piles of books in every room. No you can't borrow them, and no I'm not going to trade them in or sell them. The very idea! I AM shocked!

Okay, there may be something worse than pictures and books. Quilts and fabric, but that is an entirely different kettle of fish and I refuse to get into that.


Friday, July 13, 2012

Check Out These Buns!

Bwa ha ha. Check out the ancient burner
 cover in the background. LOL.
It covers the hole because the burner
shorts out. Sigh!
Yesterday, I had this sudden irresistible urge for steaming hot, fresh out of the oven, homemade buns with delicious butter melting on them. You know the urge was strong, because I am not a baker as a general rule and I actually gave in and made them. Even though it was hot as blazes outside, I whipped up a small batch of buns.

And let me tell you this, they were stupendous.

I have to admit that I mix the dough in my bread maker because I have a bum wrist. But I never bake anything in it; I shape the buns or loaves and let them rise before baking. It gives lighter fluffier buns. And we all want light-fluffy buns.

Delectable Buns

1 1/3 cups       Milk
2 Tbsp             Olive Oil (or butter or margarine)
1 ½ tsp             Salt (Don’t skip any of this or your bread will be grainy)
4 cups              All-purpose flour
2 tsp                Sugar
2 tsp                Quick rise yeast

Measure and mix the liquid ingredients in a large bowl. (Or the break maker pan)
Measure and add the dry ingredients.
Make a well in the flour and add the yeast.
Turn the break maker on to the dough setting: or mix and knead well until you have a nice ball.
Wet dough needs a sprinkle of extra flour. Dry dough needs a dribble of water or milk.
Cover and let rise 1.5- 2 hours. (Or run through the dough cycle.)
Shape into rolls and place in a lightly greased pan.
I like to make clover leaf buns by putting three small balls of dough into a muffin tin.
Let rise until double in size.
Bake at 325-350 degrees for about 20 minutes.
I like to rub a small amount of butter on the top of them when they first come out of the oven to make them soft.

They are best still screaming hot out of the oven with a bit of butter and some cheese.
Time for some new yeast. These did rise, but not
as much as they usually do.