Sunday, October 25, 2009

Homey weekend

Such a wonderful day today. It snowed almost all day, though nothing stuck. We had our first fire in our fireplace and I sat in front of it and finished my very first quilt. This is truly a remarkable achievement, not just because it was my first quilt, but because I ACTUALLY FINISHED A PROJECT. And guess what, friends and family who know my tremendous record with projects? It took me less than a year! Actually, less than six months! I think! (You may recall I am still working on a larger quilt, for the same little girl who received this one, to hold her over until the big one is done).

The finished product, in my most domestic picture ever:

In any case, it is done, adorable, and with its new owner already (I was just too excited to have finished it!). It's a doll quilt that began as an experiment with scraps to learn a new piecing technique, but because I was using less-than-great fabrics and not really being super careful, it turned out a little wonky and I decided the pattern would just be too difficult for a larger scale. (Please note it is actually very simple, but I have a long history of struggles with triangles and getting them to look right.). And so the little pieced top was relegated to by sewing basket, where it sat for months until...

Fast forward to last month, when I got a beautiful new sewing machine that could do everything I always wanted and more! I had been using my mom's trusty workhorse, but then I managed to render it inoperable, and couldn't get a new walking foot I bought for it to work, so I went in to get it repaired and walked out with a lovely mechanical Pfaff. Well, I just had to see what it could do, and one thing I really wanted to test was quilting. Why only practice on scraps, when I had a little quilt top itching to be used? And if I messed it up, it was only practice anyway!

I made me a sandwich, did some practice quilting on little scraps, then sat down with my doll quilt. I am so glad I did this because it was a great learning experience. You can actually see, very clearly, my progression down the quilt as I figured out how to get the pattern I wanted. I just did a simple stitch-in-the-ditch, but since I've never done this before, let alone with zigzags, it took me until the last row to have it down pat.

The back. Can you see the progression? (Hint: bottom up)

If this had been a "real" quilt that I had spent hours and hours piecing, etc., I would have ripped out the seams I didn't like and done them again the right way. As it was, I rather liked being able to see the changes and learn from my mistakes.

After the quilting, I squared up the edges (another first! This makes a HUGE difference!), and measured and cut the binding. I would have loved to have used a contrasting dark blue fabric, or even maybe a yellow one, but since this was a scrappy quilt, I was limited to what I had, and the best fit was the same fabric as the backing. Oh well.

This was also the first time I had ever done binding, so the experiences was very similar to the quilting. The first part looks VERY different from the end, but I learned a lot along the way! It's phenomenal what a difference the binding makes! It looks so much more finished with it. I made the binding very narrow, since this is such a tiny quilt, but in retrospect, I could have made it a little wider and been fine.

I can't wait to see what it looks like once it is washed (I was too excited to give it to its new owner to even do this). I hope it gets that nice soft, crinkly look I love in quilts, but we shall see. Maybe the quilting needs to be closer together to get this? If so, it will be another learning experience!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Should probably post more...

I'm just not sure I have anything worth writing about. Work is great ('nuff said), I leave in time to watch the sun rise and get home well after it has set, Jasper is settling in nicely, though he wishes desperately that we were home more often and that every day was a weekend (me too!), and the kitchen (and rest of the condo) have been in the same state for the past several months. Perhaps I can see if Peter would be interested in finishing the last bits of the kitchen this weekend? I haven't taken any "after" pictures yet, because it's not really "after." Two of the cabinet doors are still resting where they will be hung, and the kitchen lacks trim entirely. It's amazing how easy it is to get used to these things, and then years go by and you still are staring at the unhinged cabinet doors. Hmm, maybe I will bug him to finish stuff. (Note how I don't try? I could, but I have no idea what I'm doing and would just do it all wrong. I'll stick to the sewing around here. At least he doesn't know how to do that either!)

So that's the haps. In exciting weather news, two weekends ago, we had four inches of snow and a record low of 20 degrees, last weekend we tied the record high at 80-something, and this morning we had slushy rain (technical term). Colorado weather is awesome.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Flu Season

I got both flu vaccines (seasonal and H1N1), thanks to working at a hospital with direct patient contact. Frankly, it was not a moment too soon. I have 2 close friends with confirmed cases and have been around many more kids who have likely been still recovering from it. It is raging like wildfire through the schools around here, as well.

The hospital had been planning on a huge vaccine-fest, but like many places, they got quite a bit less of the seasonal vaccine than had originally been promised. At first I was pretty annoyed by this, but then I realized that the shortage is because vaccine suppliers have been trying to make more H1N1 vaccine, and H1N1 is what's going around now anyway. Waiting until November for the seasonal vaccine really should be fine.

Right now, they only have H1N1 as the live virus nasal spray. Technically, I am not supposed to get the nasal spray because I have asthma, but talking with the vaccine giver guy (I am pretty sure he is one of the heads of the infectious diseases dept), it sounded like it might just exacerbate my symptoms. Since my asthma is extremely mild (rescue inhaler a couple times a year, if that), I decided to risk it. At the rate H1N1 is tearing through this area and the kids I see every single day, I felt like not being vaccinated was a bigger risk.

There are so many myths and misconceptions out there about the vaccines, it's amazing. One of the more reassuring things I've heard was about the H1N1 vaccine. After the relative debacle of the swine flu vaccine in the '70s (some people became ill from the vaccine itself), many people are scared about this vaccine being "pushed through too fast." Well, it's *exactly the same vaccine* as the seasonal flu one, just filled with a different strain of the flu. So it's just as safe as the regular flu shot, which has caused none of those problems they had before.

In sum, get your flu shot(s) when you can, because not only will you prevent yourself from getting sick, but you will also prevent spreading it along. And frankly, I don't think it needs any more help from us. Stay well!

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Freaking amazing video

It's a little long, but SO worth waiting out. Just before 5 minutes, it becomes mind-blowing. And the reaction shots of the military guys warm the cold cockles of my heart and make me believe the world will be OK if these middle school girls can do such awesomeness.