STILL HERE!

Yes, I’m here, still here! Technology didn’t agree with me for a while, as first my Canon Pixma printer started showing an error code, which turned out to be its death sentence, and then a few days later some impossibly appalling individual chose my IP address for a DoS attack. Such people should, well, I don’t wish nice things for them.

My internet got cut off until I had waded through all devices and their settings, after which I lost for a while all joy to contribute to the very place that someone had found me through, then exploited like that. So no blog updates to post yet, but I’ll get to it once my sewing deadlines have been met. Happy weekend!

QUILTY CALENDAR – A MONTHLY FREEBIE IN 2016

Hello everyone, it’s been a while since I posted my last update on Tokyo Subway Map QAL and I finally have the fabric. I also received the Moleskine about two weeks ago, but as I was printing some things to put into it, I ran out of glue tape. The grocery stores didn’t carry it, but an office supplies store wasn’t immediately on my path, so it’s taken longer than expected to get on a roll with the new Bullet Journal gone GTD. There are finally some photos I want to post, but that will wait until next week.

In the meantime, the little thank you I have promised to share! You’ll find the download button at the end of the post, and the file is uploaded to WordPress directly, so no worries about weird external link sources.

Nina With Freckles - 2016-01 Quilty Calendar 2016-01-17

I’ve decided to post a free printable Quilty Calendar each month this year, and that is the one for January. Mine is already on the fridge, so printing works on Mac at least. The format is A4 and make sure to print at 100% even if your paper is US letter.

Why “quilty”? Well, I like graphic shapes, and the greyscale was chosen to accommodate also those with black-and-white printing as only option at home. Plus it is nice with a subdued colour palette from time to time.

If you’re curious about the typography, the month is written in Anders by Tom Anders Watkins, who happens to be half-Finnish by the way. Anders is a free font, as is Questrial by Admix Designs, the one used in the calendar portion. As usual, should you install them for your own use, make sure to read the licences, which in particular on Behance vary quite a bit. A safe choice is FontSquirrel, the source of Questrial linked above, with their free fonts for commercial use.

Enjoy the calendar and please respect the copyright! Refer your friends to my blog and I’m very happy. 2016 is go!

Nina With Freckles - Download button 2015-09-16

WELCOME 2016!

I wish 2016 welcome and hope everyone will have great experiences in the new year! This is the time of year when I reflect more than usual over priorities, hopes and dreams, concrete projects and life in general.

Nina With Freckles - New Year 2016 2016-01-03

All I can say about 2015 in retrospect is that I’m rather relieved we’re done with it. In several ways it was a challenging time, some core areas of my life were (and still are for that matter) stuck in a sense, leaving me feeling like I have no say in the important matters.

That isn’t true, of course, and we have more power than we at times care to admit over our lives, both in regards to who we invite to share our daily lives and where our feet take us. I can’t but bring up the paradox of us having a choice in most things, but those choices always coming with their own consequences.

A lot of the time, our perceived life experience also depends on the perspective that we choose to view it in, and I have so many things to be grateful for. What I’m exhausted from and unbelievably tired of, however, is being unemployed. I desperately want to control daily life in regards to my academic progress yet I can’t. Someone else has decided that research will be down-prioritised and that’s that. What I’m saying is, as an example, I had planned to buy more of the white background fabric for my Tokyo Subway Map Quilt, but when time came to place an order, something actually important came up, and so I had to postpone it. To the outside it might have looked like craptastically bad planning, but life happened, and I also had to eat and pay my bills. You know? Like I said, I’m grateful for many a thing in my life, but money isn’t too silly an invention.

Since funding for scientific research is down in the basement, I’m taking actions to do other things. Currently I have no announcements in that department, but you could wish me luck, as I could use good wishes in the next six months or so. Turning a chapter, or rather a Significant Page in the yearly calendar, has meant that I’ve also been thinking about leisure and business. In the leisure area, I’m naturally including most of my quilting projects, and while participating in swaps and hosting quilt-alongs is great fun, this year I need to do more for me, invest time and energy in cranking out my first patterns, cutting out unnecessary challenges, unnecessary blogging, and more.

By unnecessary blogging I mean that I want to implement the plan I’ve mentioned last year. Which brings me on to my chosen word for 2016. I’ve had a word a couple of years now, but this is the first time I want to share it in public. This year it is ‘focus’, which includes elements of earlier years, but in a sense crystallises what is the most important aspect to keep in mind right now. Focus includes clarity, discipline, following through, and more.

Yesterday I read Christa Quilts’s blog post on being a quilter who blogs, not the other way round, and I was nodding in agreement. To me it means to define the core, then add only the bare minimum of other elements to create a warm atmosphere in one’s online corner. The challenge for me will be to find an acceptable balance between keeping things that I’ve learned to myself, and sharing them with you. I have discovered I love teaching, when I can forget about being self-conscious, but that means there’s less time for sewing, about which I’m no happy camper at all – because love teaching…

The amusing part about it is that I’m a beginner still, but on the other hand I become a micro-scale expert each time I’m tackling a new tiny bit of the quiltoverse, and that’s the stuff I want to share. And oh how I love all those weird small nuggets of information, too, which can actually make it or break it, quite literally in the case of incorrect thread weight to mention one example.

To me, focus also means a clear approach to health and leisure, the two elements that I think make up ‘personal balance’. Speaking of balance, I don’t agree with the concept of ‘work/life balance’ at all, because work is part of life, and in many cases it implies that one dislikes one’s work, and only lives life outside of all the hours spent at work. That doesn’t make any sense to me. I know that all of us can’t love with pure passion what we do for a living every single day, but still, create ‘balance in life’ and include all elements in that expression should be realistic. No?

Another funny thing is ‘in real life’ as opposed to ‘online.’ Do you feel like your online existence isn’t real, isn’t a part of your daily life, isn’t as valuable? I think it’s nonsense, as I care a great deal about how I interact with people (and feel actual shame when I perceive that I’ve let others down) and also about my contributions to the community. Writing “I want to do more for me” made me feel like I should explain that it isn’t only sewing for me, but adding things to the community that I think someone else might enjoy, too, and that is how funny it is yet how deep it goes.

So yeah, focus it is. I have already started (once again… *grins* not throwing in the towel, though; never!) up-prioritising my health, including sleeping well (enough and regularly), increasing exercise outdoors, yoga in the mornings at home, meditation in the evenings before going to bed, drinking enough water (I tend to forget about it when it is cool or cold outside), and checking what and how much I eat. All these efforts increase and decrease during the course of a year, a bit like a sinus curve, but the desire is there to keep improving, or remain in balance. If nothing else, then my stress-related migraine should be less likely to show it’s abominable head.

This winter I haven’t had a depression like I did last year, but it sure has been gloomy. Only in the past few days have we seen any sort of snow (yay! and it’s getting much, much colder, too!), and when there is nothing white on the ground at night, we have to create an impression of being awake and feeling energetic in other ways, such as what I mentioned in the above paragraph. Even though we don’t go to sleep at 15.15 in the afternoon, that is when the day ends around this time of year, the sun goes down and the night begins after fewer than six hours of daylight. Oftentimes the sky remains grey, but I’m a bit nuts in that I love this place for all that it is, and don’t feel like moving from here either, at least for now. Solstice was a great day as well, and even though daylight increases by only a minute a day still, I feel like we are going in the right direction again :)

Apart from ‘focus’, in 2016 I wish to recall “Done is better than perfect”, “Show, don’t tell”, and my own quote “Perfectionists exist, perfection doesn’t.” I have a new Moleskine on its way to me as we speak, so stay tuned for the latest twist and turns in the saga of the Bullet Journal tweaked to fit GTD! I might have a goodie in store for you, too, as a thank you for sticking with me through my silent times last year :*

TOKYO SUBWAY MAP QAL – WEEKS 17 AND 18 BLOCKS 22, 23, 24 AND 25

Tokyo Subway Map QAL - Button 2015-08-05 500pxHello Tokyoites, this is your last prompt for the quilt top, covering weeks 17 and 18 of the Tokyo Subway Map Quilt-Along! I’m very sorry about being overdue posting the prompts. Hopefully you’ve already finished sewing, if you were keeping the speed, and if not, this is the perfect time to get back in the game, after the holidays.

I have yet to receive more of the background fabric, but I’m crossing my fingers it’ll arrive in the coming week.

Sewing the week 17 and 18 blocks:

  • Block 22
  • Block 23
  • Block 24
  • Block 25

How has your progress been? Even? Bursts of activity followed by times of making other things? What do you think of the pattern?

For me personally, it’s been a wonderful way to rummage through my stash, since I don’t sew in a manner that creates huge amounts of scraps, but then again I’ve noticed how some colours are less represented than others. For instance dark green is rather measly a part of my stash! The pattern itself is a great practice in consistency, no matter what seam allowance one has chosen.

Do you have other thoughts and comments? I wish you a wonderful new year and will check the hashtag again on Instagram in the next couple of days!

TOKYO SUBWAY MAP QAL – WEEK 16 BLOCKS 20 AND 21

Tokyo Subway Map QAL - Button 2015-08-05 500px Whoa, week 15 (14.-20.12.2015) has begun with the last row of blocks being sewn for Tokyo Subway Map Quilt. How are you doing? Still on-board?

I’m thinking I should start piecing the rows as long as I have no white background available. We’ve had a postal strike and mail is very messed up still, so I’m not counting on having any more fabric before Christmas.

Sewing the week 16 blocks:

  • Block 20
  • Block 21

Are you in the Northern hemisphere? Feeling the darkness? We have no snow here and some days are quite grey, which is wearing me down a bit. I have projects to work on, but it’s a bit difficult to muster up the energy to do some sewing. Hope things will be easier once we have some relaxing days off.

TOKYO SUBWAY MAP QAL – WEEK 15 BLOCKS 18 AND 19

Nina With Freckles - Sunset walk 2015-12-07

Tokyo Subway Map QAL - Button 2015-08-05 500pxHrm, so this is what things look like when I don’t sew. We had a storm here over the weekend with water levels rising quite a bit, sea debris filling beaches and walking paths next to the water, and a very grey sky to look at.

Today, however, the sun decided to show itself again, and since I’m stuck in limbo with no white background (really bad planning… :D ) I thought I’d put up a “down for soul maintenance” post on my own behalf – but with prompts, of course, for those poor souls among us, who still have a sewing schedule to stick to. (Obviously I have some catching up to do later, but never mind, I’m silly like this.) And since I have your ear and also happen to be in chatty mode, we celebrated Independence Day here yesterday. In two years, it’s the big one and I hope to make a bit more of it then, but all weekend this year was mainly about chilling for me. Didn’t even look at the festivities in the presidential palace, gowns and other stuff. But, we do have prompts to send out into the world, so without further ado…

Sewing the week 15 blocks:

  • Block 18
  • Block 19

Rather scary! Only one more block left of the third row… What say you, things going well? Or a total disaster? Or something in between perhaps? Happy Monday!

TOKYO SUBWAY MAP QAL – WEEK 14 BLOCKS 15, 16 AND 17

Nina With Freckles - Tokyo Subway Map QAL week 14 main 2015-11-30

Tokyo Subway Map QAL - Button 2015-08-05 500pxYikes, almost forgot to post today! Ahem, welcome to week 14 (30.11.-6.12.2015) of Tokyo Subway Map QAL! :)

So, like I mentioned I’ve run out on white fabric, but I wanted a nice, crisp photo of my blocks (9 and 10 need pressing still, hence the gap) to show my progress. But of course the days have been rather dark and dreary, almost like someone knew I wanted to take a photo… Tut tut. Perhaps you can get a general idea despite the slightly overexposed impression due to extensive tweaking? It was SO MUCH FUN to lay out all the blocks on the floor! There are some places here and there where my points are off with a hair, but never mind, it’s going to look brilliant once done!

Sewing the week 14 blocks:

  • Block 15
  • Block 16
  • Block 17

How is it going at your end? Nevy mentioned sewing only on weekends, which seems to be working beautifully for her – because she’s a bit ahead, can you believe? Star student *smiles widely* Heh, sorry, I’m just a bit envious.

And just because I had the camera airing out, another photo!

Nina With Freckles - Tokyo Subway Map QAL week 14 closeup 2015-11-30

Have you thought of making another quilt of the same pattern in the future? Or is this it? I think this will be my one and only, because there’s so much work in both cutting and sewing, even when the technique is suitable for a complete beginner, too. Happy December as per tomorrow!

TOKYO SUBWAY MAP QAL – WEEK 13 BLOCKS 13 AND 14

Tokyo Subway Map QAL - Button 2015-08-05 500pxHi there, welcome to week 13 (23.-29.11.2015) of Tokyo Subway Map QAL! Schedule says we ought to be halfway through sewing the blocks, but schedule is up for debate in most participants’ cases :) I have no more Kona White, and hence have to take a little break.

On the other hand, now that I have a clear system of working in batches, I’m certain it won’t be too bad to catch up again once I have the fabric in my hands. It is exciting to see blocks growing – or should I rather say shrinking? because they look like cute mini versions once sewn together! – and that in itself makes the hard work of cutting scraps worthwhile. Without further ado, the prompt.

Sewing the week 13 blocks:

  • Block 13
  • Block 14

My suggestion posted a few days ago on Instagram to a fellow quilter, who felt she was behind, is worth repeating here. If you have yet to cut all lines, pick the scraps and backgrounds for the blocks we are working on now, stay on track from now on, and squeeze in a block here and there from previous weeks. No harm done! And make sure to use the hashtag #TokyoSubwayMapQuilt on Instagram so we can cheer you on!

Comments? Questions? Squeals of happiness? Groans of frustration? Floor is yours below! :)

TOKYO SUBWAY MAP QAL – WEEK 12 BLOCKS 11 AND 12

Nina With Freckles - Tokyo Subway Map QAL week 12 2015-11-16

Tokyo Subway Map QAL - Button 2015-08-05 500pxHello! Welcome to week 12 (16.-22.11.2015) of Tokyo Subway Map QAL! I finally got a turquoise fat quarter in the mail. Perhaps you noticed that in the original draft I had included a turquoise line, whereas when cutting, there was only dark blue and light blue?

Well, turns out the light blue line in the original pattern goes in both top and bottom part of the quilt, whereas the bottom part is turquoise in the updated pattern now for sale. I wanted the variation and changed the number of light blue prints and solids to accommodate a shorter line. But of course I didn’t have a turquoise solid yet, so that had to be ordered, but it’s arrived now and I’m very pleased.

The plan was to order Kona White at the same time, but the shop had run out on it, and I need to wait a while until ordering more, so it might be that the little I have left will run out this week. Preferably I’d buy a whole bolt of it, a girl can dream, can’t she ;) Hickups happen, but luckily it isn’t a huge one this time.

Sewing the week 12 blocks:

  • Block 11
  • Block 12

Did you have a productive weekend? Everything all right? Or dreadfully behind? Holler and the cavalry will arrive!

TOKYO SUBWAY MAP QAL – WEEK 11 BLOCKS 8, 9 AND 10

Hi there, I’ve been seeing some wonderful photos on Instagram since last blog post and serious progress is being made as we speak! Welcome to week 11 (9.-15.11.2015) of Tokyo Subway Map QAL :)

Nina With Freckles - Tokyo Subway Map QAL week 11 2015-11-09

Tokyo Subway Map QAL - Button 2015-08-05 500pxToday I want to discuss sewing from a block grid, as I had screwed up the two first blocks somehow, and only fixed them the other day. The block size is an 8×8 grid, and my system is different from the one in the tutorial pattern.

Let’s say that columns (vertical) are numbered 1 to 8 and rows (horizontal) are A to H, starting from top left corner of the grid. To make chain piecing possible, I place column 2 on top of 1, right sides together, column 4 on 3, column 6 on 5, and column 8 on 7. Then I stack from the bottom, row H, one pair on top of the next, such that you end up with row A as first pair (pieces A1 and A2) to sew.

In the little QAL logo that I’ve designed, A1 would be white and A2 light blue, whereas H8 is violet.

When chain piecing, to show where column 1 ends and column 2 begins, I add a little leader in between H1/H2 and A3/A4 pairs. This I repeat when all new columns start.

Then, when clipping threads, I place in a similar way A3/A4 on top of A1/A2, right sides together and continue down the column to H3/H4 on top of H1/H2. Stacking begins from the bottom once again so that the A pair is the first to be sewn.

The final step to create full rows of 8 pieces is to place A5/6/7/8 on top of A1/2/3/4, right sides together. Once all 8-piece rows have been created, I start stacking from row H, with A being on top.

In the photo above, you can see this arrangement for blocks 3-6. What remains is to press open all seams, then sew rows together starting from the top once again.

Sewing the week 11 blocks:

  • Block 8
  • Block 9
  • Block 10

I feel like we’ve moved past some kind of hurdle and even though sewing might happen slightly irregularly depending on other life circumstances, it still seems like a quilt is actually happening. Thoughts?