Thursday, January 23, 2014

Lemons and Limes


For the first time in nearly a year, I actually completed a human sized quilt. Granted, it's baby human size, but it still counts. I was beginning to worry the DCMQG would revoke my membership if I didn't make a quilt soon - I've brought my knitting to last the 4 or 5 meetings....  But thankfully Mr. T's sister had a baby, so I had a perfect reason to break my dry spell. We went to meet the new niece last weekend, so the last few weeks have been a mad rush to finish the quilt so I could hand deliver it.

After much consideration and deliberation, I decided on the Tangerine Dream pattern from Issue 7 of Quilty. [Sidenote: Actually using a pattern from one of my many books and magazines felt like an achievement in and of itself]. Mr. T's sister and her husband decided not to find out the sex of the baby, so I immediately went to my tried and true yellow and green gender neutral combination. It seems so old fashioned to feel stuck to yellow and green, but I actually really like them together so I decided it didn't care.

Sweet baby Rayna. I can't wait until she's older and can come visit us! Also, she must have been burning up! It was about 70 degrees in Houston and she was covered by no less than 3 blankets. I didn't leave this one on very long - just for a few photos - but still. I was warm in my t-shirt!
The majority of the fabrics are from my stash, but I did pick up a couple more during a guild meeting at Capital Quilts, including the pearl bracelets, the lady bugs, the bees, and, my personal favorite, the trees.

I really wanted to free motion quilt it, but I was on a tight deadline and I'm not a very experienced FMQer. Plus, I think I need a lesson in adjusting my machine's tension for free motion. No matter what I do, I inevitably get pulls on the back when doing a curved design (which is pretty much all of them...). Rather than waste time being frustrated and unhappy with the end result, I picked out the little sampling of FMQ I'd done and stuck with a wide crosshatch following the lines of the top.

In the end, I decided the quilt needed another little pop of color. Since she was born by the time I finished (err...started working on) the quilt and we obviously knew her sex, I added two little pops of pink to the binding. I tested a few other colors, but I really liked the way the bright pink contrasted with the top.

Blerg for blurry photos. Unfortunately I only took one, so it will have to do.
I also added an embroidered label for a little personal touch. I almost didn't have time to include this bit, but I'm really glad I managed. I think it makes the quilt just a hint more special.

On the back, I REALLY wanted to use this print from Anne Kelle's Urban Zoology print (so perfect!), but Mr. T gently reminded me that I'm watching my fabric budget and didn't I have anything in my stash that would work. Turns out I did. I'd bought this animal face flannel to back a quilt that I never ended up making, so I put it to use here. It's actually pretty cute, and the yellow and green coordinate nicely with the front. Some of the animals are a bit difficult to recognize (there's one that I can't decide if it's a cat or a chick), but maybe wee baby Rayna will have fun learning animals with her quilt...

I'm really not much of a baby/child person, but I kind of like this one. Especially those super pinchable cheeks.

Quilt Stats:

Quilt Name:  Lemons and Limes (sticking with the citrus reference from the pattern)
Quilt Size:  41" x 41"
Pattern:  Tangerine Dream -  I sized each block down 4 inches and left off the borders
Fabrics used:  Miscellaneous from my stash. A few that I know are: Ed Emberely, Dear Stella, Pearl Bracelets, Cloud 9 Birch, Kona Chartreuse and Iron
Binding:  Sketch Zig Zag in Gray, with pink pops of Crosshatch Sketch and Dear Stella
Backing: Animal face flannel from JoAnn
Quilting:  Straight line cross hatch done by me on my home machine with a walking foot

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Cat shelves

There's been a lot of crafting around the Roach Motel lately, but not too much finishing or photographing. I should have a few things to share in the coming weeks. In the meantime, here's a little cat organization DIY project. (Apologies to those who follow me on instrgram [I'm @thecraftyroach] and have already been overloaded with these photos).

Mitchell on the left and Cashmere on the right
 We saw something similar to this on an episode of My Cat From Hell several months ago and since then I haven't been able to get them out of my head. As cats are wont to do, they climb everything, which for us mostly means the bookshelves and desk chair. We've been considering getting a cat tree for awhile, but a) they're expensive! and b) we live in a small one bedroom apartment already stuffed with belongings (mostly my fabric and yarn stashes and mini library), so we really don't have room for something that large.  Thus, CAT SHELVES!

We'd installed the top shelf a few years ago to house our projector, but since we upgraded our TV we never use it, so mostly that shelf (and the projector) were just collecting dust.  So, we cleaned it off, got a few 10x12in boards from Home Depot, spray painted them a cheery color, and hung 'em up!

I thought it was going to take at least a week or two for the cats to get used to them and use them regularly, but the next day Cashmere was running up and down like a champ. We used treats to coax them up there and teach them what to do, but it really only took a couple of tries. Plus Cash's favorite game is fetch, so she's thrilled to dart up and down after a toy (I really need to get a video of this. It's adorable and amusing!).  Just beware if you're sitting on the couch underneath because she may drop the toy on you!

Mitchell isn't quite as sure about the new play area as Cash is. The first shelf is a bit of an odd angle, so it's a difficult jump (poor Mr. T received several scalp scratches when Cash accidentally landed on his head on her way down), and he's much bigger and not quite as agile as the kitten, so it's more difficult for him.  But he's getting it. Also, Cash is a possessive bully and it's clear he's nervous about entering what she's claimed as her territory. The other night she was up there and Mitch tried to join her and she wopped him on the head! When we're home, we've been trying to manually rotate them in the hopes that they'll treat it as a joint space. Must be working a little...

Mitch looks deer in the headlights and Cash is clearly plotting our demise...
Yesterday, Mr. T had the genius idea to put a blanket on the long shelf, and Cash couldn't be happier. She spent most of the evening lounging and sleeping up there.

If you want to do something like this in your home, my main suggestion is to check the maximum weight the shelf supports can hold. Most should be fine, and our steps are small enough that only one cat can fit, but I still made sure they can bear the weight of both of them at once just in case. The supports on the yellow shelves were 50 cents each at Ikea and, paired with long screws, seem to be holding up to all the jumping just fine. Also, we experimented with gluing small carpet samples on the yellow shelves. The purpose was two-fold: 1) add some intrigue and give them something to scratch and 2) provide some traction and calm my nerves that the cats would slide right off the shelf, but it failed. Mitchell was just tearing it up and eating it, so we took it off.

Overall, it's a been a great area for them with minimum investment (time or money-wise) on our part. Win-win!