Whoa

Wow. Where to begin?

Seven months goes by SO QUICKLY! I never meant to fall off the face of the earth, but here we are.

Our third little boy was born January 10, weighing in at 8lbs even. We named him Benedict Michael (hereafter on this blog as “Beanie”, thanks to his older brothers). He’s a sweetie.

The birth went really well and there were no complications and he fits into our family perfectly.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/91936282@N00/27333732630/in/datetaken/

His brothers are growing up, too. Yuri turned 3 a little over a month ago and is delightful and trouble and mischievous and clever and very hard to stay on top of. He colors on walls without abandon and without regard to consequence, cuts his hair with no second thought, punches his older brother on a daily basis, and really enjoys helping out in the kitchen. He has also recently learned how to play minecraft, so he and Kostya do that nearly every day, until Yuri starts breaking everything Kostya has made. I think this photo pretty much sums it up.

Kostya turned 6 in February, and he is a delight as well. He is progressing through his phonics, and he is a fantastic big brother and a great help around the house. He is usually at the receiving end of a punch from Yuri, but he almost always kind of deserves it, if that makes sense.

I cannot believe how old they are getting! I have three sons! It is the best ever.

After Christmas I decided to shut down my etsy shop, probably for good. Kostya was going to be doing proper homeschooling, I would have three little ones to look after, and with the etsy shop, all of my free time was spent working on it instead of doing any fun sewing. The money was nice, but after four years, it was time to say goodbye. I don’t miss it at all.

In the meantime I have made real progress on my WIP list from the past few years, and, of course, started many new ones and have about a million other things I want to make.

I finished this in the spring as a gift for a friend of ours whose daughter was born about a month after Beanie. I really enjoy using the Quick Curve Ruler and the patterns that go along with it, and this Bonnie and Camille fabric was darling.

After

After I gifted the quilt, however, Baby’s Mother told me they actually fell in love with the back side of the quilt. Mom had always referred to her daughter as her “Little Mermaid” in utero, and so I found a mermaid panel printed by Hawthorne Threads, and so this is the side they display in the nursery. (This shows off the quilting I did a little bit)

I also finally finished the pink and brown BOTM I started years ago (in my gallery is it’s twin, Jun) and gifted it to one of Kostya’s friends.

I also finished a Halloween wall hanging using Cotton + Steel’s Spellbound line. It’s actually quilted and ready to hang, but I don’t seem to have a picture of it all finished. I’m not sure why I made a wall hanging, and a Halloween one at that. I don’t typically decorate for holidays or anything, and I’m not particularly attached to Halloween. Maybe I just really liked the fabric.

Another big finish (well, almost), is this quilt top I started last spring, but then fell pregnant and felt absolutely horrible and set it aside until this year. The pattern is Alsion Glass’s “Timber” and I chose to use dark neutrals paired with Jennifer Sampou’s Shimmer and Shimmer 2 lines because I felt that, altogether, it would feel “masculine” and even a little bit “dwarfy”. This quilt will be my husband’s when I’m finished and it’s the first quilt I’ve ever used wool batting in. I’ll report back on how we like the wool. In Texas.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/91936282@N00/28468222176/in/datetaken/

Of course there are a million other things going on. I’m homeschooling a bit and I need to update the homeschooling blog. I’ve been reading and cross stitching some. My brother got married. Our garden did well this spring. Life is busy and I am a terrible updater. Also I hate computer, the internet, and most social media, so there you go.

I’m still here and sewing, I promise

I really have no idea why it’s taken me so long to update, other than maybe I moved my laptop to behind my sewing machine for Netflix watching instead of next to it, because where it was was hurting my neck and I didn’t like having to reach to type.

I’m working on several things, one of which is still growing this baby in my tummy. I’m nearly 39 weeks, so it could be any time, really, although the last two have gone past their due dates, so I might still have two weeks or more.

Enormous belly.

In the past four months I also finished a swap, possibly my last swap ever (I’ll go into this another time).

This is the entire package I sent to my partner, who was a total joy to make for.

I used some really rich, saturating prints, focusing on some big name designers because at the time, my partner had only been quilting for a short time and this was one of her first swaps. I wanted to not only make something *I* found really pretty, but showcased some of the popular stuff like Kaffe Fasset, Tula Pink, and Kate Spain.

Here is another picture of the mini, this time in natural light.

I quilted the purple pretty heavily with a sort of swirl pattern, and then left the orange, pink and yellow fairly puffy. I was really pleased with this finish and was a little sad to see it go.

Something new I tried that I’d never done before was pattern testing, this time for the wonderful FromBlankPages, whose patterns I have used and loved before (I used the Celestial Star pattern again for the previously mentioned mini).

I chose the 9″ block and designed an 18″ pillow with it, repeating the block four times. I used my newly purchased and oh so pretty Shimmer 2 by Jennifer Sampou (because those metallics are HEAVEN)

I did some simple straight line quilting, following a lot of the secondary diamond patterns (because I’m just so over matchstick quilting) and ended up with this, which I gave to my brother and his fiance for Christmas.

The piecing was a bit tedious, with I think 212 total pieces, and some of them quite small, but I am so happy with it. The pattern is called Space Gem, and is now available in any FromBlackPages shop.

I have a lot more to write about, but I still have late Christmas gifts to finish and a hockey game to listen to!

 

My first bag! and a swap finish

I’m trying to take advantage of a rare spurt of energy to catch up on all my finished projects from whenever the last time I wrote about any finished projects.

First up is a bag I made. My first bag, actually. All the quilters on IG are making bags, and my mom has been asking for one since I first started sewing several years ago, so I thought  I’d give it a shot. Plus, it was her 50th birthday, and it would have been kinda jerky to not get my mom ANYTHING for her 50th.

I used this free tutorial, and I think it turned out pretty nice. It’s not perfect. The bottom seams didn’t match up because I totally forgot to even check that, but my mom liked it and I can check “making a bag” off my list of things to make for her. Next up is tackling zippered pouches (check back in the next five years to see if I’ve ever gotten around to this).

I was really glad to find a use for some Tula Pink. It’s basically novelty fabric, which I really have no use for. I guess a lot of bags are in my future.

Up next is a swap finish I don’t think I ever posted. It was for the Spring Fling Mini swap way back in April.

My partner said she loved Bonnie and Camille fabrics in any of the Thimble Blossom patterns, so I thought I would rock my April Showers bundle in some adorable granny squares (seriously, Thimble Blossom and B&C fabrics are usually not my thing but I really loved these little granny squares. Granny squares make any fabric totes adorbs). This is what it looked like in the end –

I did matchstick quilting (not a fan) and rounded edges (it’s alright) for the first time on this quilt and I think it turned out nicely. I got a lot of positive feedback on IG, but I was actually really embarrassed when she received it because she had made THE EXACT SAME THING for herself, only she had never posted it on IG. Actually, she had made a full size version, but it was still April Showers in granny squares. She swore she loved it and loved the idea of having a mini of one of her favorite quilts, but I am still not sure if I totally NAILED this swap or bungled it.

An actual craft post, yay!

Sewing and crafting has been slow. Really slow. The first trimester exhaustion and nausea that inhibited my crafting abilities has yet to dissipate, even though I am now at 19 weeks, and so almost halfway through this pregnancy.

When I first fell pregnant, the plan was to just take a crafting break for a few months because I assumed this pregnancy would be like the other two and I would start bouncing back at around 13 weeks. That has yet to happen, and I don’t want to go this whole time in a crafting funk, so I’m trying to adapt and just work more slowly through projects (something I didn’t even think was possible, as I am possibly the Slowest Craft Ever).

Cross stitch has been a nice, easy, fairly mindless thing to do when I want to sit and do nothing (which is all the time), but also do *something*.

I’ve been working on this adorable little sampler from last year at Cloudsfactory. I started it last August, so I’ve been working on it a year and I’m still only in May. Like I said, slowest crafter ever.

I also started a little Halloween wall hanging in the Cotton + Steel Spellbound line, which is probably the only Halloween fabric I have ever liked. I figured since hubby and I actually own a home now and I sew, I should like, make pretty stuff for it. I’ve been “working” on these for about two months now, and all I have to show for it are just two blocks. Seriously. Sewing is hard when you can’t brain.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/91936282@N00/20526445639/in/datetaken/

I started a queen sized quilt way back in March and haven’t worked on it since I got pregnant, but I need to get back to it. It was originally from a quilt a long hosted by Modern Handcraft. I am only about two blocks into it because SCE (see above). I’m using neutral Kona solids with the Shimmer line, by Jennifer Sampou. It’s supposed to be dwarfy.

I’ll end the post here with some deep thoughts, brought to you by DMX:

Homeschool Review weeks 3 – 4

This should be the last totally homeschool post on this blog, as I am in the process of making one specifically for these types of posts. I think I’ve come close to deciding on a name for our school. I know it will be something along the lines of “Divine Mercy Homeschool” or something like that, and I’ll go into the naming later on that blog.
(edit, here is the blog. suuuuuper exciting)

Overall, I would say our first block (four weeks on, one week off), was a great success. Kostya is a delight to teach, and kindergarten is a great first year to start since we have so few real deadlines and our goals are few (basically, I want him to be a beginning reader by the end of this and for everything else I just want a feel for what approaches are best for him and what kind of pace we’re looking at and what interests he might have we can pursue in the future).

Reading lessons have slowed to one lesson per day. Kostya recognizes the new sounds and how to say them almost immediately, but putting it all together into words and short sentences is much slower, and so of course sentence comprehension isn’t there yet. Totally fine. We are *just* starting, after all! His writing is picking up a good deal and so instead of practicing one letter a day like we had in the beginning, we are doing two – five most days.

Mathematics has been fun. I’ve had to rework how fast we would go through materials, and he has surprised me with how quick he is to pick up on certain things. He can add numbers quite well, especially with some sort of manipulative, so we are working on recognizing the notation. Last week I went ahead and introduced place value. All I have to say as far as that goes is thank goodness for youtube! He loved the songs and cartoons that were available that helped break things down in ways I could not. While I did not have him use the work book, our last two math lessons last week were the lessons out of the actual Math U See Alpha book. My hope is that next week, when I start block 2, we can use that more. Whenever I felt like I couldn’t really tackle what MUS was doing,  I used Life of Fred: Apples instead. I have a feel that if I used that as our primary math book with some supplements, Kostya would blast through it. As it is, I intend to keep using it once or twice a week. I don’t have anything really planned out, it’s just how I feel that day: Do I sit and try to explain a proper math lesson from MUS, or do I just read the “story” out of LOF and make up some accompanying exercises? I was worried this approach would be confusing, but so far it has not been for either of us.

At this point I wonder when I should start giving Kostya easy books to try, or if I should keep doing our 100 Easy Lessons for a while longer. I suppose I could just wait until winter since we will have to stop school anyway for baby boy #3, who is due to join us early Jan.

I’m not much of a crafty person, but I’ve been trying to incorporate some other activities into our schooling. In the last month we’ve baked cookies a few times, made play doh, and went to the grandparent’s house to help with honey harvesting (“bee milking”, as my FIL calls it).

Some photos, since I haven’t posted any in a while

Homeschool Review: Week 2

I have no intention of doing this every week, as I would prefer to keep this blog more craft oriented, but as I have no created a homeschool specific blog (haven’t thought of a name yet), this will be where I post some homeschool thoughts.

This week was a bit tougher than last week. It was our first four day week (Fridays are library/activity days), and our first week with math.

While Kostya progressed through the first 20 reading lessons in three days last week, we have since slowed down significantly as he comes across new, less familiar sounds and letter combinations (one of our successes was mastering “th” this week!). There are things about early learning that I sometimes take for granted that I have to back up and teach him, like sentences ending with a period. He rolls along with things rather well, though. He still enjoys the lessons and sometimes asks for extra after lunch. I have a collection of Bob Books, so after he’s learned new sounds, I pull out the books that have those sounds for extra practice.

Writing is still slow as molasses, but that is okay. We are almost finished with Lesson 2 of the Memoria Press Copybook. I suppose I could lay off writing entirely and he would be fine, but I think that as long as we move gently through this, it will be okay. Kostya is always asking me to write lists and letters, and I’d like to give him the tools to do so ASAP. I may change my tune later, but I don’t want to stop writing completely. Not unless he shuts down with it.

Math has been interesting. Like I wrote before, I am hoping to use Math U See Alpha. Now, I think brain wise, Kostya is more than ready for the concepts, but after viewing the DVD that came with the program, I realized that format would probably not work with Kostya at his current maturity level, and might move too fast. What I’ve done is reviewed the first few lessons and broken them down into teeny, tiny pieces. Actually, here we are at the end of week 2 and I still haven’t even said “Place Value”. Only today, day 4 of math lessons, did I bring out the blocks and show how they were organized and divided. We spent the first three days practicing how to write numbers correctly and legibly, and since writing is the hardest for Kostya, we still have a long way to go. Today I made a simple worksheet of single digit addition problems with no carrying, and even though Kostya could read the problems out and answer them quickly with and without the blocks, writing the answer down was a huge stumbling block, so I think next week I will lay off writing numerals and just let him dictate the answers to me and I’ll think of another way to bring in writing the numbers at a later time. I want so badly for him to enjoy math as he has done so far and to not be frustrated.

Another  little hiccup, which I understand is totally age appropriate, is his ability to listen and repeat back to me a story I’ve read. I’m reading short Bible stories to him, and only a fraction of the time is he able to tell me anything back in the story. Today’s problems were more behavioral than ability, though, as he got tired of listening to me and walked out of the room in the middle of the story. We had a chat afterwards about how that was unkind, and that it was very important to listen, because in order to learn, we *must* listen. I told him trying his best in his schooling was not at all about pleasing me, but that in order to be the man God has designed him to be he must try his best, and that means listening. I do not ask or expect perfection, but I do want him to try. He cried, and we hugged and I told him how much I enjoyed our time together, how much I loved him, and how honored I was that he was my son. Then we sat and read the story again, this time while he played with blocks, and he was able to retell a bit back to me. I was very surprised when he cried. He doesn’t often show disappointment with himself and I hope I wasn’t too harsh (hence all the hugging and kissing afterward).

And then there is Yuri. My sweet Yuri, who spent all last week sweetly sitting next to us, coloring away. Yeah, that’s completely gone. I think he must be going through some development spurt, because his food intake has nearly doubled this week and his behavior is a dumpster fire. Oh, and he’s actually napping right now. Yeah, there must be some serious brain growth happening. Totally appropriate for his age, but man it’s frustrating. He has colored all over every page of Kostya’s. He tells me “NO!” after every request. He takes things out of Kostya’s hands and close fisted hits him for no reason, and seems to take joy in destroying everything Kostya builds. I think he is an expert in the “terrible twos”. Weather the storm, I guess.

Homeschool Review: Week 1

It’s 1pm, Thursday afternoon, which means Kostya and I have finished our first week of kindergarten homeschool. I’ve tried it before, which he was 3.5, and it didn’t work out. In my enthusiasm to get him started and ahead of the game, I had forgotten he was still so small, and while  maybe mentally capable of learning sounds and putting them together, he was not mature enough for lessons, and frankly, at 3 years old, he really didn’t need to learn how to read (even if there were other homeschool moms with reading 3 year olds. Good for them!).

But he’s 5.5 now, and just so much more grown up. There are several children in our neighborhood close to his age, and after hearing about what they do, he’s been begging to start school for months (we’ve talked a bit about the difference between our school and their school, and so far he seems perfectly content in knowing he can stay in his underpants and only have school for an hour and snacks when he wants, as opposed to what their school schedule looks like).

I had told myself after we tried lessons at 3 years that we’d wait until he expressed a desire for school, and so that’s what we’ve done. In the beginning I had such a focus on making sure we completed lessons, that he stayed seated and still and focused, and that we did everything at the same time and ended at the same time that it was such a mess, and we both burned out so fast. This time I’ve made sure to remind myself that with Kostya, being flexible is very important. I need to follow HIS lead, HIS interests, and not let the lessons dictate how fast we go.

I realize it’s just been three days, and that isn’t a lot of time, but every morning he has asked for school and has been as attentive as I could expect an energetic, easily distracted five year old boy to be. We are using Teach Your Child to Read again, and in three days we’ve done the first 16 lessons. It’s gotten a bit tougher now, so when he starts to get a little flustered I ask if he would like to stop for the day or take a break, even if we are right in the middle of the lesson. I don’t want him to dread this, I want it to be enjoyable and empowering for him. The time for sitting still and pushing oneself through difficult lessons will come later.

The only other subject I started this week was writing, using Copybook I from Memoria Press. Writing is proving to be more difficult for him, and we are moving much more slowly. For example, the first page is writing simple capital letters like “T” and “L”. That’s supposed to be one day’s worth of work, but we are having to go so slow that we just finished our third day, and he still hasn’t gotten to the “L” because he only seems to have enough interest in getting through one line of letter copying a day. Still, that’s fine though. I do not have firm plans for this first semester. My main goal is to have him on the road to reading, and other than that it’s time for us to learn about each other in the homeschool setting – finding out his limits, learning discipline, following my instruction, and just getting used to having this as a part of  our daily routine.

We finish the school day with a short bible story. I never know where to start with these, so I’m starting in the beginning. I’m using a children’s bible, so things are broken up nicely and appropriately edited. Each day I ask a few questions about the previous day’s reading, do a short review (because Kostya has inevitably forgotten most of what happened), and then read today’s and answer questions.

Yuri sits with us at the table, and so far hasn’t been a huge distraction. He wanted to nurse most of today, but for the past two days he has been content to sit with us and color in a coloring book (Kostya would have NEVER done this. He is still just not a coloring/craft kind of guy).

Next week I intend to introduce math, using Math U See Alpha. I believe Kostya has an interest and an aptitude for mathematics, so I’d like to see that at work. If that works and we can get a smooth(ish) schedule going, I would eventually like to add in poetry, music, and art before January, but that may be too much. We will see.

It’s not you, it’s me

I’m not in love with Tula anymore. I know, shocking. It really is beautiful fabric. I appreciate the saturation, the fascinating subjects of some of her panel pieces, the creativity, but after about a year of seeing that fabric everywhere and in every thing, I can say with some confidence that it just isn’t my cup of tea. Oh sure, I browsed #thegreatfabricdestash on IG sometimes to catch a good deal, but I realize now that more than anything it was the thrill of the chase, and trying to acquire a highly desired piece of fabric simply because it was hard to find and so many other people wanted it. Thankfully, I set a price point early on and never went over it, so I don’t have any pieces I’ve purchased that I’m really ashamed of the money I spent on it. I am, however, a little ashamed of how much I have spent on bundles (usually just FQ) of entire collections that now I’m just not sure I’ll ever use. “Sure, just destash it”, you say, but that comes with its perils, some of which I have recently discovered. First, destashing is stressful and a big pain the rear. I destashed a lot of what I have so that right now, of my Tula, I only have a FQ or less of each print. I made some money, but I can’t say for sure if it was worth it. Second, and this is what really turned me off of both destashing, and maybe even the fabric itself (bad associations now), people can be nasty. See, you think you’ve done some research into the pricing of particular, HTF OOP fabrics, you list them for that, and instead of people behaving decently and just scrolling along if that price is too high, they comment. They balk, they tag their friends to come and look at your listing. Maybe then someone comes along and undercuts you and alludes to you in their listing, so their followers can go and look at your high priced listing and then go back and say nasty things about you, your motivations for selling at a certain price, and so on. All the while, you thought you had found a fair price point. You had seen the fabric sell for that very same price just that day, with no balking, no nasty talk, just a fair and honest transaction.

Yeah. My feelings were hurt. Yeah, maybe it’s silly to have my feelings hurt, but I really thought it was unnecessarily childish and hurtful. How hard is it to just move on? If it costs too much, you are under no obligation to buy or even comment.

I can’t even bring myself to look at this fabric right now.

So, the goal now is to use up what I have. Difficult, since this hasn’t been my go-to fabric to begin with.I did want to do the 100 Modern Quilt Blocks Sampler with what I have (I know, how original). Maybe later, after some more prints have gone out of print, I can try my hand at selling again and make back what I’ve spent.

Yesterday I broke up most of the collections and put them in my regular bins, sorted by color. I need to use the fabric from those bins more often, and I’ve been feeling pigeonholed by seeing collections all together. Maybe breaking them up will help the creative juices flow, and maybe after a while out of sight, I won’t feel so negatively about the fabric and will actually be able to use them.

Just some thoughts

I’ve been thinking a bit lately about my internet usage, particularly social media, and I think it’s time for a change. It’s taken however long facebook, twitter, and all those other social media outlets have been around for me to really come to this (I’m a slow learner), but I really don’t think the internet is a safe place. Not for thoughts or opinions, or anything really personal. Sure, some people navigate it all really well and even make money off of it. People can keep in touch and have so much information readily available. I guess I need to amend my opinion to say, “*I* don’t feel very safe on the internet’.

I thought for a while I might get used to the different ways people communicate through the internet, but I haven’t, and I don’t like how people seem to change online (myself included). In person,  I am not confrontational. I like smiles and easy conversation, but online, especially over things I feel passionate about, I tend to get really confrontational, brash, and I say things in ways that aren’t exactly loving or respectful. I don’t like it. That isn’t *me* and that isn’t how I want to be remembered or known.

Likes, shares and comments feel great when you get them, but they can’t be why I do something or why I share it. I’ve been so immersed in the internet that sometimes I forget that yes, I can do somewhere, do something, or make something, not share it online, and yes, it still happened. 

The way people communicate in person is still “the real way”. Yes, more of everything is moving to the internet, but if I don’t participate in most of it, I’m really not going to miss out on life. I can still have friends and hobbies. I won’t have to worry about the stress of something about my life being misinterpreted, over examined, ridiculed, or criticized. No, I’m not going off the grid completely, but I think my resolve to stay off certain areas is a little more solidified, and I’m rethinking what aspects of myself I *would* like to share with the world.

A year in review – instagram inspiration part 2 (the bad)

I’m only weeeeks behind on getting this out. Sorry, all my six readers.

Now, like in my previous post (if you skip the hockey one I reblogged – sorry, but that was an amazing night and game and no I’m actually not sorry I reblogged), I highlighted several things I thought were super great about what using Instagram can do for quilt inspiration. But with good things, there are often downsides, and I know I have definitely come across a few.

1)FABRIC TEMPTATION. Seriously, I have probably spent more money this past year on fabric than everything I ever purchased up to last year, including non fabric quilting supplies. Fabric is gorgeous, and when everyone posts their latest purchase and happy mail from conventions and sales and shops, it’s really hard to resist. With Instagram, you can also follow designers and shops directly, and so you see the latest lines and all the sales. It isn’t just stores and shops that are the problem, either. See, there is this little hashtag called #thegreatfabricdestash with THOUSANDS of posts of users destashing some of their fabric stash. It’s usually at at least a slightly discounted price, and a lot of it is OOP, so that can be a problem. I am usually a little late to the ball game with big destashes, so I haven’t purchased a lot. Tula Pink goes especially fast, and the prices can get really high, so I’ve actually taken to make sure I don’t follow any destash accounts and I avoid Instagram when one of the people I follow regularly hosts a destash because I just don’t want the temptation to get caught up in it all, and believe me, it is really easy to get caught up in the frenzy of fabric purchases, especially when something highly sought after is on the line.

2) Every thing starts to look the same. I don’t mean this as an insult to anyone, because certainly everyone buts a lot of effort into every thing that they make, but after a while, it seems a lot of the work people make tends to start resembling each other, and it’s quite hard to really stand out and find your own voice. Now, a lot of quilters really just like to make what they know looks good, and I don’t think there is anything wrong at all with making a trendy quilt in a trendy quilt pattern with the latest fabrics, but for me, it’s started to become a bit much. I suppose there is a safety in knowing what already looks good, and like I said, that really is okay, I’m just a bit weary, creatively, from it all. A lot can be learned from mimicking other artists and quilters, and I’ve certainly made some cookie cutter quilts, but I’ve learned enough now that I really want to branch out and find where I stand in it all.

3) Extreme sadness when my quilt friends get to go do cool things and I can’t. I’m just three hours from where Quiltcon was held this year, and because of other things going on around that time, I couldn’t go. I signed up for classes and everything, and missed one of the biggest quilting events of the year, where pretty much my entire list of IG friends were. I had to not look at IG that whole week because everyone was sharing awesome purchases, amazing quilts, and getting to hang out with each other. It made me sad.

And that’s really about it for me on the bad. I have another post on quilt swaps which will hopefully not take a month to write. Thanks!