Thursday, October 19, 2017

Slow Progress Is Still Progress

My arm is not hurting nearly as much as it was, but the numbness is not better. I'm still taking things very slowly, and if I can avoid surgery, that will be great! 

My to do list is getting longer and longer, and there's not too much I can do about that right now. This week I cut out all but one of the Christmas gifts I hope to make for the grandkids. I really needed some sewing time, for sanity's sake, so I had a couple play days where I worked on some blocks that just don't matter. 

I made nine of these blocks, completely scrappy and not for anything specific. I have a bunch more of these pinned up and ready to sew. I finished the colorway of nine patches I've been working on for DD#3's wedding quilt too. Two more colorways of nine patches to sew up and then I can assemble the top!

Mr. LJ (DD#2's son) is getting so big! Hard to believe he turns 1 next month. My mom made him that blue teddy bear, and he's started dragging it around with him everywhere. Isn't it great when handmade things are loved so much!

School photos came back for the grandtwins. I got to spend a lot of time with these two last week because it was fall break. 

I'm going to keep on doing what I can, and I'm spending a lot of time thinking of ways to make things easier on my arm. Right now my sewing priorities are Christmas related, and when I get those finished, I'll ease my way back into quilting. 

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

SLOW- It's my New Fast

I only made it 8 days without sewing, I couldn't stand it anymore. On day #8, I sewed for 15 minutes, took an hour long break, then sewed for another 15 minutes. After that, I took a two day break, because I had a couple nights with the grandkids. Only 30 minutes of sewing in ten days is hard for me, but I did it. 

Today I'm past the restriction of no sewing, and so far I've sewn for 20 minutes today. I needed to press the half blocks I sewed, and I found ironing harder on my arm than sewing. 

Here is my pile of half blocks. I didn't count when I made extra strip sets, but this is at least enough to make the queen sized quilt I need from it. Any extra blocks will likely go into a baby quilt, because I've got a couple of those to make for next year. Maybe someone will be having a girl???

I wasn't banned from scissors, so I cut out the stocking shapes I needed from batting and muslin.

I'm making string stockings for both DD#1's family and DD#3's family. I string piece directly onto the batting, using it as a foundation. The muslin will be the lining. 

I also cut out some felt nesting dolls I plan on making my granddaughters for Christmas. My arm felt like it was on fire after cutting those out, even though I only cut out one set per day, and took five minutes breaks between cutting each piece. 

Yesterday, I got covered in KT tape to help support the areas that are hurt. My wrist is covered because I'm having nerve infringement along my ulna nerve, which is making my ring finger and pinky go numb. My shoulder in this same arm is covered in KT tape too, I think the pattern looks a lot like a chicken foot. I told DH this is my sexy Terminator look. I think I'm going to buy some colored tape for next time, maybe pink or purple. It really does seem to help.

So what have I been doing with most of my time since I wasn't sewing? I did a lot of my Christmas shopping online. I've only got DD#1 and DH left to buy for, besides stocking stuffers, but I've started on that too. 

Mostly, I've been researching things that will help me quilt without wrecking my body. DH is insistent I do very little rotary cutting from now on. To that end, he wants to buy me the electric GO Big cutter. I already have the original Go cutter, but he doesn't even want me cranking the handle. All the dies I currently have will work with the Go Big cutter, but there are more dies I will need if I'm not going to be doing much rotary cutting. I don't have any of the strip dies at all. I started a wishlist with the dies I think I will use most, which include more strip dies than I originally thought I'd use. I was originally thinking I'd just get the 1.2, 2, and 2.5" cut strip dies. DH asked me if they had any dies that could do the most common sub-cutting I do on strips. Hmmm, after thinking about it, I added the 3.5, 4.5, 5, and 6.5" strip dies. I told him what the total cost of my wishlist was, and he didn't bat an eye, He told me he'd buy whatever I needed to be able to keep quilting. How I love that man! When the total didn't shock him, I let him off the hook, told him I wouldn't buy any of it at regular price, I can easily wait for sales. I also don't need to buy everything at once, but honestly, I think he would buy it all it all at once if it helped me. 

I asked for some advice in one of my online quilting groups, and got some interesting suggestions. One person said to switch out whether I am cutting thread with scissors, snips or a seam ripper, just to vary the motion I'm using. Several people said to vary my activity frequently, change positions a lot. Sew for a short time, press for a short time, take a break, set timers so I don't lose track of time. I'm willing to try almost anything right now, because I need to think long term. 

It seems like the most damage is done to my deltoids, both the tendon and muscle. From what I hear, it's a slow healing injury. It makes sense that this took time to cause the injury, it's going to take time to heal. 

I'm a little lost on what to work on right now. I'm thinking I will not be finishing any quilts in the next month or so. I am looking at getting a suspension system for when I do start FMQ again. I am still hoping to make gifts for the grandkids for Christmas, plus I need to make those Christmas stockings and two Christmas tree skirts. Since all the Christmas projects are smaller, I think I'll probably mostly work on those. I have several quilts ready to assemble, and I may try to get a couple of those together too, we'll see. Your guess on what I'll get done is as good as mine. I'm trying to be good, and get back into sewing slowly. 

Monday, October 2, 2017

Sewed Myself to a Standstill

I've been sewing long hours, 8-10 hours a day, trying to catch up on projects after barely sewing for a year. I love sewing long hours, it's not a chore to me, it's a joy. I love watching projects come together. Even when they don't come out like I want, it's a learning experience. Now I've got another learning experience, and it's going to be a hard adjustment. 

I've struggled with neck and shoulder pain after sewing long hours for a while now. I started wearing a weighted brace to improve my posture, and that has helped quite a bit. A couple days ago, I woke up unable to lift my right arm to the side. I thought maybe I "slept wrong". Well, no, actually, I have a repetitive stress injury. Too much sewing, too many hours per day, and I've risked doing permanent damage. 

Treatment- anti-inflammatories, no sewing for 10 days, and I can ramp up to four hours of sewing per day after that, depending on how things go. No more ten hour sewing days, ever, if I want to protect my body. 

My first thoughts were- I won't be able to get my niece's wedding quilt done in time. I won't be able to make the Christmas presents I had planned to make.

Both of those are true. My niece's wedding quilt will be late, I won't be able to do everything I wanted to do for Christmas. I should be able to do some things for Christmas if I am careful. 

I am disappointed, but I am blessed. I'm not a slow and steady type of person, but I guess that's the lesson I need to learn right now. I can still sew (after a break) , just not at the pace I'm used to. I guess I'm going to be a part-time quilter instead of a full-time quilter. But, in the end, quilts will still get made, and I'll be better for the restraint. 

The next ten days are going to be hard. Almost everything I do hurts my arm, and I'm supposed to be resting it. I don't rest well. I normally can't even watch TV unless I'm doing something with my hands. I'm not sure what I'm going to do with the time, it will feel like I'm wasting it, and I hate wasting time. I can't spend the time doing some other craft, I need to rest my arm. 

Anybody have any suggestions of what to watch on Netflix??? I just finished Call the Midwife. I've seen the only season of Anne with an E. I watched all of those while sewing, sub-cutting, or pin-basting, all of which are off limits right now. 

Could be a long ten days!

Friday, September 29, 2017

Two Color Quilt???

One of the wedding quilts I'm making was requested to be blue and white. A two color quilt, pretty common, right? I'm a scrappy girl, it's what I like best, so when I make a two color quilt, I'm not sure it actually counts as two colors.

I finished this quilt top today. To me, this is a two color quilt. In fact, I only used one white! Are there more than two colors in it? Well, yes, but the fabrics I chose read as blue as a whole. 

Here is a closer look at some of the fabrics. I see a scooter, Thor, mice, a lighthouse, fans, a Navy ship, Superman, Little Mermaid, bees, cats, dolphins, frogs, Santa, strawberries, even part of the USS Enterprise from Star Trek. Some of the fabrics have more blue than others, but from a few feet away, it's blue. 

I've been having a lot of neck and shoulder pain, so instead of sewing like a mad woman trying to get these quilt tops assembled, I've been having to vary my activities. I ended up cutting out three of the four weighted blankets I need to make. I pieced those tops as leaders/enders while assembling the blue and white quilt. 

Right now I've just got the weighted blanket tops lying across the guest bed. I'm not sure when I'll be finishing these, but at least the tops are done. 

Here's a pic of that gluten-free Apple Custard Pie I talked about in the last blog post. It was very good, and I'm definitely making that recipe again. 

I have two more quilt tops I need to finish, so even though I'll be piecing into October, when I wanted to only be quilting in October, that's what needs to happen. One of the quilt tops I need to finish is the Bargello, which I haven't worked on at all lately, and the other just needs assembly, all the blocks are done. Oh, on the purple/white Strip Twist that I decided to make bigger, I'm almost done the extra blocks for it, but probably will set it aside to get these other quilts finished. 

Overall, once I get these last two quilt tops finished, I'm in a good starting place for the other quilts I did set aside. I either got the blocks done, or I got the top done before I put it aside in a container with all the parts and necessary fabrics. I went through stash today and chose a couple backing fabrics for the kids guest beds. I may not have finished my September goals in September, but I'm close! I even got a few things started on Christmas gift front, so being a bit behind on the quilts may be OK, since I've got a head start on my November goals. 

I refuse to get myself fretting about things. I'm having a great time watching projects come together. I'd prefer not being so far behind on gift quilts, but that's OK too. I am blessed with a great, big family, and that just gives me lots of reasons to make more quilts. 

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Three Quilt Tops

I am still plugging along on assembling quilt tops. I finished the second quilt top for the kids guest room. I decided to set it differently from the first one.

The quilts for the guest rooms will be some of the first I quilt with my Tin Lizzie. It doesn't feel like fall here, it's still in the 90's, but it will get cooler eventually. I don't have any quilts for any of the three guest beds in the house, so getting those done comes before the gift quilts. 

I mentioned I had never counted the HST's I cut from men's shirts. Well, I never did count them, but I counted how many I had left after making two twin sized quilt tops. I had 48 HST's left, which, if set 6x8, left me with a 36x48 inch quilt. I consider that too small for a baby quilt, but, it would work perfectly for DD#2's pet corgi. She's been wanting me to make her dog a quilt, because that dog is obsessed with quilts. If there is a quilt in the room, that's where you can find that dog. I could have made more HST's to make a people quilt, but I don't need any extra projects right now. I could have set the blocks aside for now, but I didn't want to do that either, so here is Navi the Corgi's quilt top.

I didn't have a lot of variety left after making two quilts from the HST's, but I don't think the dog will care much. I think Navi's quilt will be the first I quilt on the Tin Lizzie, the dog won't complain if my quilting is a bit wobbly. 

The third quilt top I made is from a failed border. I cut the brown triangles with a pieced border in mind, but once I pieced a few blocks, I decided it wasn't working for me. Instead of sticking it aside and taking a chance I wouldn't do anything with the pieces, I cut some more triangles from two other fabrics, and came up with this.

It's nothing fancy, but I kind of like it. It's got a lot of motion to it. It's funny, the HST's with blue really bring out the blue flowers in the brown fabric, and the HST's with the peach really bring out the peach flowers. Before I assembled the quilt, it looked like I had used two different brown fabrics. This is a good throw sized quilt, nice for napping. 

I laid out the blue king sized quilt today. I don't have enough space to lay out a quilt that large at one time. The quilt has 12 rows, so I laid out six rows, labeled them and pinned them together. I put aside rows 1-5, and only pieced row six. Once I had that row together, I put it down and then figured out the rest of the quilt. 

I've been piecing on three other quilts as leaders/enders while I'm assembling quilts. One of the quilts I've come to an impasse on. I never figured a layout for the quilt, I just have a bunch of various blocks. I may actually put that one aside for now, though overall, I've been trying not to do that. I think it has the potential to be a really great quilt, and I don't want to hurry it so much I don't bring it to it's potential. 

The purple/white Strip Twist I was working on has a slight problem. I must have cut two of the blocks in the incorrect direction, so now I need to make at least a couple more blocks. I looked through my stash for a border fabric, but couldn't decide on one, so I'm opting to make a bunch more blocks instead, and make it into a borderless quilt. I've already pulled the fabrics to do that, along with the fabrics I need for a couple Christmas projects. My plan is to spend tomorrow cutting. Unfortunately, I also need to cut another Drunkard's Path block for another project, because as I was sewing the blocks, I somehow lost a couple pieces, or cut the wrong amount originally. I never put fabrics back in the stash until I've finished the quilt top, so I still have the fabric out that I need. So, tomorrow is a big cutting day for me! 

On the non-quilting front, DH has been home a lot lately, which cuts into my sewing time, but is nice to see him more all at once. What really cuts into my sewing time is the fact I've been having to COOK since he's home! Up until a couple weeks ago I was only cooking dinner a couple days a week, and I was eating sandwiches or cereal for dinner. DH works 12 hour shifts and isn't home for lunch or dinner, and I'm not going to waste sewing time cooking for just me. For the foreseeable future, he's home four days a week, which is crazy compared to his normal schedule. Tomorrow it's cutting, making lasagna, and making an apple custard pie from a new gluten-free recipe I want to try. DH is gluten-free, and it's amazing how much better he feels being GF. I tried going GF, and noticed no difference after 5 months of being GF, so I eat mostly GF at home, but eat whatever I like if we go out. I need to find the "perfect" GF pie crust before Thanksgiving, so DH has to "suffer" through some pie experiments. I've already tried several GF pie crusts, but altering my regular pie crust recipe has been what he's liked best so far. The one I'm trying tomorrow has sour cream in the crust, and I'm intrigued. So many recipes, so little time...