12.23.2010

Reflections - Part II

As of right now, I officially on vacation – yay! I won’t be heading back to work until next Wednesday so I’m definitely a happy camper. Annnddd, I’m leaving tomorrow to head upstate to visit my family. While we don’t celebrate Christmas, my sweetie and his family does so there be plenty of eating, present swapping, movie watching and all manner of relaxing, cozy activities. Not to mention, plenty of snow!


In my last post, I reflected on the past year related to crafty endeavors. This post is a bit more personal. While I have chosen to make this blog mostly about all things crafty, bits of real life sneak in. This post falls in that category. I hope that it inspires you to reflect on your own year gone by and helps you think positively about 2011!


My sweetie and I have been living together in big, bad, New York City for just over a year now. The living together part is GREAT, as we spent the previous 3 years at least 200 miles apart (and during one year it was over 1000 miles apart). We are having a blast sharing physical space and making a home (even though it’s a rental!).


A few things about living in New York City: I can basically sum up living here as a constant love-hate relationship. My whole family is from here; my relatives emigrated from mostly Eastern Europe, going through Ellis Island and building our family here in the Big Apple. My sister and I (as well as cousins) are the first generation to grow up some place else. I spent much of my childhood here when we visited family and always knew I’d come back to live on my own. After college, I did that for almost 2 years before heading down to DC for graduate school. Now I’ve been back and while we don’t want to stay here forever, I find it hard to think about leaving as it’s such a fantastic place. You can’t beat all the restaurants, museums, parks, and general melting pot that is New York. However, it’s loud, dirty, crowded, expensive and has been disappointing on one major front: I have spent a year trying to get a full time job that allows me to use the skills/knowledge from graduate school and have been unsuccessful. This has been emotionally and financially challenging and while I’m trying to stay positive, there have been major changes made to my job search approach that I hadn’t anticipated. But, life goes on and you have to just roll with it. Hopefully, good things await for me in the new year. I’ve been fortunate to hold a job with benefits, but it does not challenge or stimulate me in the way that I long for.

In spite of all my frustration and general ambiguity, I am happy and healthy and thankful for all my wonderful friends, family, and my sweetie. I know that I’m young and only wonderful, exciting and unexpected things lie ahead.


Here’s to a wonderful holiday season and a fabulous New Year. I’ll be back to blogging in 2011!

Cheers! XOXO

12.21.2010

Reflections - Part I

If you're a regular reader of my blog, then you know by now that I'm pretty reflective person. In general, I try to be as self-aware and aware of the world around me as I can. I look forward to milestones, holidays, and other moments that invite reflection and positive thinking.

The ultimate cliche of New Year's reflection is one that I always make sure to note. It's been one crazy year (and really, for my own personal reflection purposes, I'm including a few months of 2009 too since so much happened at the very end) and I feel like there are many ways that I want to look back on the past year (and change) in order to get ready for 2011.

I plan to do a series of posts about reflection, some of which are craft-related, some of which are not. Pick and choose which ones you'd like to read. And be sure to drop me a line if you plan to write about your own reflections!

Firstly, this has been an enormously crafty year for me, in part due to my limited employment (look for employment/job-related reflections in another post coming up soon). While obviously I would have preferred gainful employment in a degree-using job, I am thankful in a way that I've had the time and space (and the resources thanks to a generous support circle and very forgiving roommate who lets me take over a corner of our tiny living room - thanks sweetie!) to create a serious bunch of quilts!

I have compiled a list of all the quilts I've finished (including all the way back to June 2009, when I finished my first quilt!), as well as the bee blocks completed (see this pic - it's missing a few still but it'll give you an idea of how busy I've been in the virtual quilting world!), and also unfinished projects and random projects.

In looking back, I'm very proud of how much I've made. I feel like I have a definite "style" when it comes to quilting, and have gained a lot of knowledge about the craft itself.

In light of that, my knitting has sort of taken a back seat. I've been knitting for almost 12 years now and I don't think anything will comfort me like the sound of clicking needles and the feel of a handknitted garment in my lap. All the hats I wear are my own handmade creations and I have a number of sweaters that I treasure. We also have a cozy lap blanket knitted up that has recently made it's winter debut on our sofa (brr, chilly temps). Part of the lack of knitting is due to my newfound interest in quilting, but also to the simple fact that knitting is expensive! Yes, yes, quilting isn't exactly cheap but I would argue that through various means, it's cheaper to make a quilt (and build a fabric stash, at least for me). When I knit, I usually buy wool for a specific project. I'm also kind of a yarn snob (haha, big surprise, I know) so the skeins I covet are typically on the expensive side (hello, my newest love, Madeline Tosh Pashmina!). While I have a number of unfinished projects (2 gorgeous sweaters) as well as a handful of ideas for new wares, I've definitely focused more of my creative energy (and my wallet) on quilting. Knitting is like an old friend - I know that we can always pick up where we left off, even if we spend time apart. I do plan to get back into knitting after the new year. In fact, I've just dropped my sewing machine off to be serviced and plan on taking this "quilting break" (haha, except for when I head upstate at the end of the week and will most likely be using my mom's machine!) to focus on knitting, embroidery (another new skill gained this year - check out my first completed project) and some hand sewing (yay hexies!). I finished my quilty holiday gifts and will post pictures of them after they make their way to the recipients!

So in general, I've had a very good year, craft wise. Now, for the lists/numbers/descriptions:

Quilting Bee Blocks
I'm a member of 3 different virtual quilting bees. One is ending this month (though I still have to finish the blocks for it...) and the other two will end early next spring. In total, I have completed 41 quilt blocks (with 3 currently waiting to be worked on). I've done log cabins, string blocks, ticker tape blocks, and so many others. I've loved being part of each woman's creative process and look forward to assembling the blocks I've received for my months (2 out of the 3 bees so far). Be sure to check out this set to see all the blocks I've worked on. Thanks to Erin for all her hard work organizing and running a big part of the virtual community related to bees! Check out Quilting Bee Blocks for pictures, interviews, links to Flickr, and more.

Swaps and Quilt-Alongs
I've jumped on the swap train that is currently taking over Flickr. Thanks in a large part to Heather and Kerri, swap mammas extraordinaire, I've participated in the last 2 rounds of The Pillow Talk {Swap} and am definitely hooked. I've received 2 gorgeous pillows and can't wait to get more (though my sweetie may roll his eyes - we'll need more furniture to hold these pillows! Haha). A number of blogs have held quilt-alongs and serve as fun, community-esque places (albeit, virtual) to work "together" on projects. I finished the quilt top for Julie's Hexagon Quilt-Along but it has yet to be basted or quilted. Stay tuned in 2011 to see it pan out.

Etsy
I've gone back and forth about my Etsy shop. Ultimately, I haven't put as much time or effort into it as it really needs. I will probably close it down soon. I'm not really that upset, since I'm still having a blast quilting!

Other crafty connections
People have definitely been able to see my work. A colleague commissioned me to turn a handful of her sorority teeshirts into a quilt. It was my first true commission and I look forward to many more! The amazing virtual world of quilting has definitely drawn me in. There are a whole handful of incredibly talented crafters whose blogs are my go-to ones in my Google Reader. I've learned so much and been inspired by so many of you - thank you! Special shout out to John, Greta, Leanne, and Brooke, as you've all been great pals through instruction, creative process, and just general life. :) But seriously, you ALL rock! And to my readers, whether or not you're quilters, sewists, knitters or none of the above, THANK YOU! I read all your comments and am profoundly grateful that you check in here to my little corner of the virtual universe.

Here's the total break down:

Quilting Bee Blocks: 41
Swaps: 2 pillows sent, 2 pillows received
Quilt-Alongs: 1 (quilt top completed)
UFOs (unfinished objects): 10 (some completed tops, some need to be pieced, etc.)
Other crafty/quilty projects: lampshade, embroidered quote, a ridiculous amount of handsewn hexagons
Finished quilts (since June 2009): 20!!!!! (check out most of them here)

Stay tuned for more reflection posts before we ring in 2011...

12.20.2010

Sometimes, we need a little magic...

Dear Santa,

I know that you're very busy, especially as we're down to the wire here, but I wanted to put in some requests. I've been very good this past year and feel that I've really been tough through many bumpy moments. Here are just a few things on my wish list...

1. World peace (I know, I know...I'm totally up for helping out on this one - in fact, that's what I went to school for!)
2. No more gray hair (seriously - I'm not even 30! Make it stop!)
3. More trees in my neighborhood (but less jack hammering on weekend mornings...)
4. A real-life, grown-up, master's-degree-using job (um, have you been reading my blog? This is a biggie)
5. Some new undies (we all need new ones - admit it)
6. This yummy fabric by this amazing woman:


Thank you for reading my wish list. Stay warm and enjoy the milk and cookies!

Love,
Ruth

P.S. Louie has been a very good boy. He would like some new toys but would settle for dirty socks. Yum.

12.18.2010

Last minute

Need a gift for a new mom/dad/baby? I still have some great baby quilts in my shop! At this point, nothing is guaranteed to arrive before Christmas but could certainly get there soon after. :)

12.16.2010

Fabrics

I've been stewing over a snow-inspired quilt. Here are some fabrics for more inspiration...

.

12.14.2010

Inspiration

My sweet blogging buddy Brooke and the super creative and social Heather started a great new Flickr group as a source of inspiration for quilting. They've called it {portland pairs}: inspiration through photography (they're from Portland, Maine and Portland, Oregon respectively). Members have been posting photos of anything that can serve as inspiration for quilts! Brooke has made some AMAZING quilts inspired the coolest stuff, particularly musicians. Make sure you check our her Flickr stream.

This morning, here in the Big Apple we have a light dusting of snow and VERY chilly temps. I'm finding myself dreaming of a white/gray/sparkly quilt...

What inspires you?

12.13.2010

Monday musings

Whoa, I'm a tired girl. Went to bed too late last night and had to wake up at 5:30 for work. Oh, Mondays...

This week I'm not going to be at work very much, as they've been doing some schedule juggling. That leaves time for the following:

1. Finish quilted presents
2. Send out holiday cards
3. More job stuff (duh)
4. Bring clothes to donate to Salvation Army
5. Clean out file folds and computer (ahh, always like to start a new year off fresh)
6. Finish quilting bee blocks
7. Resume last winter's sweater projects - I haven't dug them out yet and I'm in need of some knitting!

I'll try to blog about the interesting stuff...

This past weekend was a lot of fun - movies with my sweetie, dinner with some close friends. Hope everyone else had lovely weekends!

12.10.2010

Gifts for all

...including me! Oh thank you, employee discount, and unknown customer who returned these unworn and therefore left me with the opportunity to give them a good home (and for a VERY good price).(Yes, that's a Denyse Schmidt quilt on our bed. Another super discount score. Oh, and my mirror is hung that high because my sweetie is quite a tall drink of water - 6 feet 4 inches - so it made more sense to cut off my feet from daily view as opposed to cutting off his head!)

Well, December is scrambling along. We're now 2 weeks away from heading Upstate (yay!) and less than a month til my birthday (eek!). How is the holiday shopping/crafting going for everyone? I'm not as far as I'd like to be (big surprise) but somehow it always gets done. Of course, I finally decided what I want my sweetie to get me, and it's so awesome that it's going to be a Hanukkah/birthday combined gift. You'll have to wait and see!

With the cold weather, I'm definitely in the mood to stay inside and be crafty. I have a few holiday presents that need to get finished but I'm so inspired by everyone else's holiday craftiness that I have about 5 projects going in my head! Must resist...

We are snowless here in the Big Apple but I just ordered a new pair of winter snow boots. Why is it that snow boots are generally ugly? Ugh, oh well. At least they'll be waterproof! Last winter I completely killed a pair of Uggs by wearing them through the salt and snow. Time for some big, dorky proper waterproof boots. Between that and my crazy warm puffy coat, I look about 5 years old! Oh well...

The next 2 weeks are chock full - visits from out-of-town friends, dinner out with another couple, and of course finishing the holiday crafting/shopping. There is definitely going to be some baking, movie watching, and maybe some ice skating thrown in the mix...

Happy Friday!

12.06.2010

Winter has arrived

This morning those of us here in the Big Apple spotted the first fluffy flakes of the season. Much to my disappointment, however, they weren't the sticking kind. Meanwhile, back upstate there's plenty of snow - and more on the way! Can't wait to head back up there (in about 2 1/2 weeks!) to play in the snow.

This chilly air makes me want to just snuggle up on the couch with my sweetie, Louie, some quilts, and cozy activities like knitting, reading, TV watching, armed with cookies and hot chocolate. Definitely have to bake this week...I spotted a new cookie recipe coming up on Smitten Kitchen that I'm sure I'll want to try.

I'm working on my holiday gift list, as my sis and my sweetie need some clues. I already know what I'm getting from my folks. It's so awesome that it's going to be my Hanukkah/birthday present: the AccuQuilt Go! Cutter!!!

Making lots of good progress on my quilted holiday gifts. How about everyone else???

12.04.2010

Free entertainment

Thank you, Louie, for providing us with never-ending free entertainment.

video

12.02.2010

Cranky morning

Don't feel like going to work but alas, I must. Even the dog is cranky and didn't want to do his business this morning. It's chilly here and it's making me crave some snow (I hate the cold without snow!)

A little morning inspiration to feed your capitalist tendencies (or maybe provide gift ideas?)

Aren't these great?! Mmm, makes me want to start a new knitting project. You can find these cards here.
Yet another gorgeous slouchy sweater from Anthropologie.
A very timely paperweight found here.

Hope everyone his having a good week!

(And P.S. the latkes I made last night were delicious!)

12.01.2010

Happy Hanukkah!

Yay for latkes for dinner, especially after a long work day. Happy Hanukkah!

(P.S. How is it December already?! ::whimper:: Still not where I want to be, on so many levels. You know? Good grief. Well, at least 2010 will be over soon. I'm ready for a fresh start.)