9.13.2014

Early morning

Right now I'm sitting here listening to the news and smelling my Hubbin's coffee. Thinking I should go get my own cup...

Things have been a little quiet here this week, I've been quilting and binding and fighting an allergy fog. I've wanted to write a blog post all week but I either fell asleep too early or slept in, but once again I'm learning that's okay. 

I used my awesome little calendar to do all of my quilting "work" this week and now I have the weekend to do some more fun sewing. 

I finished the top for my large plus quilt, I'm thinking about using a tanish back for it, but I'm also thinking about fading the back from darker to lighter tans. Thoughts???

I have a few bindings I need to catch up on and I'm thinking Sunday afternoon while watching football will be the perfect time to work on it. Or cut out another quilt... We will see :)

Anyway, I'm going to sew and hopefully have more to share here, I hope you have a great weekend! I'd love to hear what you're working on!

9.08.2014

Sewing Report and Thank You!

First off, thank you all so much for the kind words about our dear Duncan. Ben and I cannot thank you enough for the kindness and support you shared and we will be forever grateful. You guys are the best!

Now, this weekend I did a little sewing. (Yay!) I'm about half way done with my plus quilt and I finished the top I can't show you yet (boo hiss). And because this is such a sickness and I just can't stop, I cut out a mini plus quilt from scraps this weekend since I got up at 4:30 and didn't want to disturb the rest of the house:
I did the math, cut it up, laid it out, and got it organized to sew before everyone was up on Saturday. Oh, and don't worry, I'll be sharing a tutorial for this too once I get it done. I've officially caught the mini quit bug. Oh, and then once Ben got up I printed off a new paper pieced design to use up some scraps. 

Then Sunday while watching the football games, I wanted to continue to sew because I'm about half done with the rows for my plus quilt:
And I really wanted to sew them together, but I wanted to watch football. What's a girl to do?! So like any other obsessed quilter, I started cutting out another quilt. 

So if you're taking a tally, I finished one project, worked on another, and started three more projects this weekend. It's a sickness I swear! Hope you all had a great weekend and thank you again for the kind words. I'll be back soon with another update and hopefully a quilt or two I can show you!

9.06.2014

A Sad Day

I try not to post sad things on here, but this one is about a subject I've shared far too much to ignore. I've been trying to write this post for weeks. I've written it in my head a hundred times over and still couldn't actually type it out. Please know this is hard for me to share and I'm crying while sitting at my computer at the moment.

So here goes:
 About two months ago, we lost our precious Duncan. I've shared so much about him and Paco on the blog, many of you ask about them at shows and it seems like you know them virtually.

Duncan's had a rough road with his health since he was a pup, but always was a trooper. He had a spine injury as a pup. He's had a gland rupture several times which lead to tumors and abcesses and several bouts of antibiotics. He had a weird allergy to shampoo that made his eyes swell... He also had liver enzymes that were off the charts and could never be controlled. But right before we lost him he was diagnosed with diabetes.
 Duncan lived a wonderful 13 years and the last month or so was rough. His blood sugar was over 500 when he was diagnosed and it never went below 370 in the month after. The highest it registered was somewhere in the 670 area. He was a Cairn Terrier and little did I know that his breed as well as Schnauzers are prone to diabetes late in life, but are also insulin deficient. Well, we tried shots and different foods and everything we could think of and nothing worked. We were at the vet so much that last month, one week alone we were there 6 times. They knew us and I didn't have to sign in or anything. We'd walk in and the staff would be like, "Hey, Duncan!" We had to have him put down when his body started to shut down and that was the hardest thing I have ever had to do in my life.
I miss him dearly and it was honestly hard to sew after he was gone. He was the best quilting dog ever and the best companion when I was down. I didn't really realize why I didn't want to sew for a few weeks until one day I forced myself to stay home. I opened the door to my sewing room for the first time in weeks and immediately started to cry when I saw his blanket lying on the floor. And his toy under my table. That day I swear I heard him running down the hall and cuddling onto his blanket. Everyday has gotten a little easier, but he was my baby. He was my first dog. As long as Ben and I have been Ben and I, it was Ben and I and Duncan was our baby.

We still have Paco, but he's our kitty dog. We love him dearly and we've agreed (even before we lost Duncan) to not get another dog at the time. Paco is 15, mostly deaf and blind and it wouldn't be fair to him to bring a new wild dog into the house. Honestly, I want to go to the dog shelter every day. I can't because I would bring home like 5 and poor Paco wouldn't know what to do.

I guess the reason I'm telling you all this (if you're still here) is more for a closure thing for me, but also to explain if I haven't really seemed myself lately. I tried to keep this to myself, but Ben and I agreed that I shared so much about Duncan on here, I should probably share his loss too. It's been a little hard to be upbeat so many days I was just quiet.

I still have many of his toys spread around the house and I can't bear to think about moving them or throwing them away. I would love to donate them, but that would probably lead to a shelter and me bringing home a dog or 5. For now though, I take comfort in knowing the wonderful life that he and I shared, the wonderful memories that can never be taken from me and the hope that I will see him again one day. I still find myself crying in these quiet moments where a scent or a sound or something makes me think of him. So I please ask if you can, to love on your pooch a little longer today. Please give them a hug and a kiss and an extra treat for me (and Duncan). Thank you all in advance for letting me share this personal story with you and getting it out in the open. Rest in peace my little Duncan Christopher. Mommy and Daddy love you and miss you.

9.05.2014

No Grey Area Here

Get ready, this is going to be one of those deep thought type posts, but I'll try to keep it brief and fun.

I've been loving Instagram (you can find me @rubybluequilts) and the other day I posted a shot of these feathers that I had finished quilting.

Now, I've tried quilting feathers several different ways and the way I like the best is to just go for it without drawing a spine or quilting one first. I just sew from side to side and the spine comes about as I quilt.

Many people left comments about how they've never tried that before. They like the spine because they know where they need to go. My little blurb under my picture said I hate drawing the spine because it reminds me of people telling you to color inside the lines. This is quilting, there ARE NO RULES!!!

So, with all of that said, it got me to thinking...

When I quilt I am either super creative or super organized. There's no grey area. Now, I can do both at the same time in a project, but it's all one or the other, no compromise. I was telling this theory to a friend yesterday and she explained it as either OCD or ADD with quilting.

I know several people that have more of a mathematical or engineering background that tend to fall in the super organized category. They are precise and rip out stitches if the seam is off by two or three thread (yes threads, ick!) and they are very good at what they do.

But then I know several people that live in the colorful "throw everything together and make it work" world where their piecing may not be perfect everytime and that's good as gold to them. They're not afraid to take chances and try something new, but they are also very good at what they do.

I think I live in both of these worlds. My stash is ridiculously organized (or getting there) but I'm not afraid to pull whatever I can get my hands on and make a quilt. I like to piece and cut precisely, but if things get off a bit, no worries. I'm human. I stay up way too late and quilt before coffee some mornings and if I need to rip something out, it's not the end of the world. I never thought about it before, but I wouldn't change a thing. I like the precision that lets me do math and create new patterns, but I love my creative side that can actually visualize and play.

So, where do you think you fall in? Are you more precise or more creative? And please do not for a second think that I'm saying creative people aren't precise and vice versa. It's just much harder for a precise person to tackle a mystery quilt or an art quilt and a creative person would be bored in about 5 minutes after a much planned quilt (typically). Or, is there some component that I'm missing? Let me know where you fall in and let's celebrate that we all do this thing we love, but are able to do it in our own way!

9.03.2014

WIP Report

I had all of these grand plans to quilt like a mad woman over the weekend and yeah... Not so much. 

The Hubby and I took a day and went to the local fair and then it was cleaning and grocery shopping and not fun stuff, followed by a super lazy day and I'm learning that's okay!

I did get some sewing done, just not as much as I was hoping but I can't show you my big progress. It's a secret for now, but I did work a bit on this one:
It's not done yet, but hopefully will be soon. I've been using it as my odds and ends project between other seams. 
So far I'm working on row 4! Only a bunch more to go. When I do work on it, it does go quickly, I feel an all nighter sewing night coming up :)
And this is the rest of the stack waiting patiently. By the way, thank you all for the quilt love. This one will be fun once it's done and I'm eager to finish (if you couldn't tell). I'm so happy I switched the colors around but I'm already collecting fabrics for  another version. And maybe a mini. But time will tell. 

Happy sewing and hopefully I'll have more to share soon!

8.28.2014

Machine Quilting: Another Glacier Star

Judi contacted me about quilting her Glacier Star for her and when she sent me the pictures, I knew it would be fun. I asked her if there was anything she wanted or liked that I've done before and she told me she liked this one Doris made. I also asked Judi what she was inspired by for this quilt. I had tropical in my brain when I saw all of the vibrant blues and purples, but Judi threw me for a curve when she said Northern Lights.

This quilt is so much more vibrant in person and it's just gorgeous. I personally have never seen the Northern Lights so this was a fun little challenge to me. But then again, you can tell I've been brainwashed by the Caribbean when that was my first thought :)
 The biggest challenge for me was the high contrast of this quilt. It went from white to black and every shade of blue in between. With that large of a contrast I have to be super careful with the thread choices I make and where to quilt.
 I quilted the majority of the quilt in a light blue and white thread. That way the quilt and the quilting gets noticed and not the thread color.

*A common mistake in quilting is that bold thread colors will make the quilting stand out more. It's actually the opposite, you see quilting much more on plain areas when the threads match. Otherwise the threads can be too powerful and that's all you'll see. You'd see thread first, quilting next, and the quilt last. You want the quilting and the quilt to work together, not fight for attention.
 I kept most of the quilting simple and organic keeping the Northern Lights reference in the back of my mind.
 I did add in some sharp lines here or there because let's be honest, in the places you normally see the Northern Lights, it can be chilly. And icy. And cold. Plus with a design like the Glacier Star, there's so many sharp lines and points that some quilting can bridge the design of the quilt and the softer designs in the quilting.
 I switched to a darker thread in the black areas and you can barely see it here. This is actually a batik called raven I think... It's black with subtle hints of blue but reads mostly black. I used a dark blue/purple thread and quilted large chains of circles throughout these weird shapes and used back & forth lines to fill the areas. I wasn't quite sure what to do so I took a chance and I like it!
 Overall I tried to keep the quilting soft and I had to add in just a touch of feathers. It just called for it. It was hard trying to mimic the look of Doris's quilt and apply those same items to Judi's because Doris's was done for Florida. Judi's is not.
 It all worked out and then I got to see the back. I love how you can see the main star and pick apart all of the areas from the front of the quilt.
In the bottom right ish of this photo you can see the chains of circles that I quilted in the dark areas on the front.

Overall the quilt went together smoothly and it turned out better than I imagined. I was worried it wouldn't have the same vibe Judi was looking for, but I'm glad to report that she loves it!

Thank you, Judi! Your piecing was wonderful and your colors are so cheerful, this was a joy to work on.

If you have a quilt you're interested in having quilted, please either e-mail me at rubybluequilts (at) gmail (dot) com or check out the information on my Machine Quilting Information page. I'm always up for a challenge.

Also, please remember that if you have any quilts you'd like for Christmas gifts, it will be here before you know it so please plan ahead. You can always call and get on the schedule if you're not finished with your project yet, but want to make sure you've got a spot reserved. I have plenty of spaces available at this moment, but it can book up fast!

Have a great day and if you're starting your weekend a bit early, have a great Labor Day!

8.25.2014

Getting Organized

It's no secret I have a very hard time some days finding the balance between work, home and fun. Even harder, I have a hard time distinguishing which projects to work on first, my deadlines or my clients? 

Well after reading a zillion organization blog posts and pins on Pinterest, I think I came up with a simple solution that seems to be working and I wanted to share it with you. 
This is it! My new idea. It's a dry erase board calendar and some magnets. That's it. 

I've read about keeping lists and trying to stick to a schedule, but my schedule changes everyday or week and my list can be a mile long some days. I've also read about picking your top three goals to tackle for the day so that super long list isn't so daunting. But there's those few things I need to do every week too. 

So here's the plan:
Pink magnets are for working out. I'd like to workout 3-4 times per week, but I have a fifth if I get extra motivated. I don't want to do it any more than that because that's how I've injured myself in the past. 

Green magnets are for long arm quilting. Once again, there's only 5 magnets so I can't quilt 7 days a week anymore. But I'd also like to limit this number too. 

Black magnets are for office work which includes edits, paperwork, blogging, etc. 

Purple magnets are for cleaning. 

Teal edits are for sewing for my own projects. I may need to get more of these :)

And finally blue magnets are for rewards. This includes going out to dinner, watching a movie, spending time with friends and family. Going to a Luke Bryan concert :) sadly I forgot to take some me time in the past, not now. I'm happy to report I used all of these this week and needed more :)

I was trying to think of how I could incorporate all of these ideas into something that actually worked for me. The dry erase calendar is perfect. I have a space for each day of the week for working out and I know I only need to fill that space 3-4 times. That leaves 4 other spots for other tasks for the day. I would like to hit three each day, but if I hit a fourth, all the better. But if I only hit 2 in a day, I can see everything I've done in the rest of the week and then it's not all bad. 

Plus I keep all of the magnets to the side as I need them so I can see exactly what I have left to do. I'm such a visual person and so far this has been great. 

I also have my to-do list off to the side for my sewing projects and deadlines so I know what I need to tackle first when I get to paperwork or sew or edit. So far it's working and I've gotten a ton of stuff done even with watching a few movies and going to see some concerts this week. 

It's amazing what you can do when you're organized and waste less time figuring out what to do and just do it. 

The only issue I've had is keeping this calendar up. The magnets I have are glass so they weigh a bit. The calendar only came with permanent 3m strips to hang it and I'm not ready to make this a permanent fixture on a wall. I tried using other magnetic strips and they are still on the side of my filing cabinet, but the adhesive isn't that great and the calendar and magnets went flying one morning. I'm still missing one somewhere...

Anywho, I just wanted to share what I finally found has been working for me. I have a schedule (kinda) but it's flexible since I don't do the same thing every day or from week to week. 

Let me know what you think of my plan and maybe it could work for you. If you have any questions or suggestions of other ideas to try, please leave me a comment below! Have a great day, be back soon with quilt pictures!
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