More Scrapping

Before I get to more scrapping news, I wanted to say how excited I am that we have reached 20 followers and over 500 hits for this blog!  Thank you – you are all appreciated!  Plus it’s nice to know that these words are not sitting uselessly out in cyberspace but instead are being read and shared.  That’s what makes this the most fun of all.  I guess in a way you are all part of our Monkey Tribe now.  Welcome aboard!

I see that Blanche of the Organized Stash has commented on the last scrapping post with her instructions on how she has organized things and I wanted to be sure that everyone was able to see it.  After all you may be sitting on a gazillion scraps, like me, and be on the hunt for a way to better organize them.

Now for Words of Wisdom from Blanche!  “Wow, Opal, it sounds like you are really getting things organized! I’ve found that having things organized allows me to work more efficiently when I get to quilting. Since I’ve been referred to as the “over-the-top” organizer (just ask Opal to tell you about my pin cushion sometime), I will tell you all about my fabric organization.

Before any fabric makes it to my stash, I wash and iron each one and fold it selvage to selvage. Then I wrap my yardage around a 6″ ruler so it is a uniform width, and then in half so each fabric is ~6″ wide by 12″ long…these stack on top of each other nicely. If I were to start over, I would use an 8″ ruler instead, because the larger yardage would fold flatter. I use this for anything from 1/2 to 4 yards – anything larger than 4 yards does not get folded in half – these pieces sit flat at the back of the smaller pieces. Pieces that are fat 1/8 to 1/2 yards are simply folded into 6″ by 9″ and stacked on separate shelves above the larger yardage. All of my fabric is separated by color, and then by light to dark within the color…and there are special categories for batiks, Christmas, cats, food, multicolor (can’t determine what color predominates), and flannel.

Anything smaller than a fat 1/8 goes to the scrap box, and when it is full enough, I try to spend some time cutting it down . I cut all my scraps into squares in sizes 1.5″, 2″, 2.5″, 3″, 3.5″, 4″, 4.5″. 5″, 6″, and the largest 6.5″…these are sorted into boxes and stored at the bottom of my shelving. I tend to have the most squares in the smaller sizes up to 3″. I do not sort these by color – they are just all piled into the correct box, just waiting for that charity scrap quilt or any other purpose I need.

Now, I started this system when my stash was relatively small (maybe 2 – 30″ wide bookcases), and have tried to maintain it…it would be a very daunting task to start to organize a large stash by this manner. And so far I haven’t tried to organize my threads or rulers by any system…hmmm, maybe that is the next step…hmmm…”

As you can see, Blanche does deserve to be Blanche of the Organized Stash.  As for her pin cushion, it really deserves its own picture.  Unfortunately, I thought I had one but after searching through my archives I found that I do not have one!  Instead I will have to leave you with a picture of Blanche’s chicken quilt.  She would bring it to retreat after retreat to work on.  I have to admit that I was fascinated with that quilt.  So, here is the chicken quilt.  I believe it was some sort of challenge.  I know it doesn’t make up for the lack of a photo of her organized pin cushion, but I promise to snag one at the next retreat.

As far as the big to pre-wash or not pre-wash debate.  Well, that’s up to you and none of us will judge you.  However, I know for fact that Blanche has two laundry hampers in her quilting closet where she can sort by light and dark so she can wash as she has a load rather than coming home from the fabric store and wash.  It gets sorted into one of the hampers and waits until there is a load or half of a load.  At least that’s what I remember her explaining providing she hasn’t changed her methods.  Hopefully I haven’t mis-remembered what she had said…

If you are looking for still other methods for organizing your scraps or patterns for which to use your scraps, let me suggest Bonnie Hunter.  You can find her website here.  Bonnie is a very very generous quilter.  She shares lots and lots of patterns on her website and if you look carefully, you will find a link to her post about organizing and cutting your scrap stash.  If you are having trouble, you can find it here.

I think there are numerous ways to organize your scrap stash, but it can be an overwhelming task to start.  Especially if you are like me and have 2 Rubbermaid tubs of scraps to take care of.  Of course after reading Blanche and Bonnie I’ll probably have to go back to my large squares and cut them down into more manageable sizes.    Just when I thought I had really made some progress.  Of course I could save that until the end.  After all, it’s not like you would really know…although I would probably tell you….

I happy to share that I did somewhat finish a project from the scrap bins.  Right now it seems to be all the rage to make these jelly roll quilts.  Maybe you know the one I’m talking about, where you sew the ends of the strips together to make one long strip and then sew the long edges together?  If not, you can find an example here.  I don’t have any jelly rolls.  However, as I was clearing out my fabric scraps I put all my 2 1/2″ strips together thinking I would use them for something.  The good news is that I did!  I put together one of those easy jelly roll quilts!  I didn’t quite follow the directions from that link.  I kinda just winged it from what I heard other quilters talking about.  Anyway, I’m pretty happy with my result and the only thing left to do is find a border for it.  Curious?  Well, of course I have a picture to share!  The best part is that now they are a mostly assembled project and not strips waiting to be sub-cut for the scrap bin.

  Once I decide on a border I’ll have to decide if I want to jazz it up with applique.  I may not though.  I may just leave it as a neo-modern strip quilt and just practice some different quilting ideas on it.  We’ll have to see how long it takes me to find a border.  In case you were wondering, I did not count how many strips I had.  I know a jelly roll has a certain number of strips and that is part of how this pattern works.  I just had a stack of strips and some of those were assorted lengths as they came from other projects.  I think it all worked out fine.  I did put the strips in a bag and pulled them out randomly to sew them together.  I only allowed myself to put it back if it was attaching two of the same fabric.

If you would like to share your scrap organization methods please feel free to do so!  You never know who you might inspire!

What a Week.

This entry is going to be a little personal.  So, if you would rather skip it until the next installment of Monkey Madness I will completely understand.  At least you can’t say I didn’t warn you.

This past week has been a particularly awful week.  In fact, it felt like watching the end of an era.  I should probably mention that we are pet owners and yes, this will be about our recent pet losses.  If you aren’t a pet lover you may not understand, but chances are that if you are a quilter there is a good probability that you own a cat or two.  Up until last week we had 3.  As they were all aging (18, 17, and 9) we figured that the time would come before too long that their health would fail and they would leave us.  We just never counted on all of them deciding to go at once.

After sharing your life with another living being for almost 2 decades it’s a bit disconcerting to not hear their footsteps in the house or see the signs of their routines.  I’ve never really had a pet that was mine before I had The Meko.  For some of you that makes sense, but I’ll try to explain.  I’ve had dogs and raised rabbits (yes, its true) but this was a pet that had bonded to me.  In fact, it was one of those “at first sight” incidents at our local shelter.  I knew I wouldn’t be leaving without her and she was good to go with me.  I had her before I got married and it took her years to accept my husband.  It was to the point where any time he would get up from a chair or out of bed that she would move to take his spot as if to make sure he knew that she was there first and was not about to be replaced.  She slept with me at least a portion of every night.  I was her person. Her only person.  No one else could handle her like I could.  Otherwise they risked a bite or “the look”.  We had lots of adventures in those 18 years and I won’t bore you with them.  It is enough to know that her personality was such that she warrants a The with a capital “T”.  We called her Meko, but her name was Komeko which is a Japanese name meaning born of the tortoise.  Fitting for a tortoiseshell cat.  There is a Japanese myth or folk tale regarding the tortoise as a sign of longevity.  When naming her I had hoped that she would live up to her name.  I think she did it in spades.  Eighteen years is a long time for a cat and I didn’t want her to suffer but I also didn’t really want her to go.  She was the last one to leave us this past weekend and the one I’ll miss the most.

  Komeko aka “The Meko”

The first one to leave us was Simon.  He was a stray we found in our back yard and ultimately we discovered that he was FIV positive.  Not to be confused with Feline Leukemia.  FIV is like AIDS for cats – it compromises the immune system and is transferred through blood.  However, cats can live for years with this and can also live with other cats without passing along the virus.  I know this because we agonized over whether or not to keep him once he had been vetted and we had done some homework regarding what to do.  The only catch was that if he showed any signs of infection or illness he would require a trip to the vet for immediate antibiotics.  He was healthy up until the end and we’re not exactly sure what happened as he was found curled up in his favorite sleeping position.  He had one horrible habit that we were at our wits end with, but he was so good with our son  and also took over the mousing responsibilities that we could almost overlook it.  He did grow into a beautiful cat.  Much different from the scrawny short-haired waif we found in our back yard.

  Simon.

The second one to go was our champion mouser.  I don’t know that I’ll ever see another mouser with her talent again.  We live in an old house and mice get in.  It happens.  Owly arrived a year after Komeko and shortly after she did we never saw a mouse alive.  We have seen her in action, however rarely, and to watch her was amazing.  We believe that she taught Simon what she knew and moved into a semi-retired state but she more than earned her place in the house.  To look at her you wouldn’t think that she would be terribly graceful. She was larger and chubby and normally moved fairly slow.  Unless she was on the prowl.  Then she was patient and focused and in charge.  I’ll never forget the one time I really saw her in action.  She was running down the mouse in the middle of the afternoon and it darted under the closet door.  She chased after it and then walked away.  I thought I should step in and open the door so she could get the mouse, but when she turned back to me, she already had it in her teeth.  I couldn’t believe she had grabbed it either right before or right as it started underneath the door.  She never really did bond to us, but she did her job and was a mild-mannered well-behaved cat to which there was no real complaint.

  Here are the three of them together.  Owly is the one in the middle.  This was in the days when I would try take pictures of them for Christmas cards.  I know, I’m not always quite right in the head….

As I said, it’s hard after sharing almost 2 decades with another living being it’s strange to not hear the pitter-patter of their feet or kitty crazy hour in the middle of the night or various other signs of their passing.  However had that has been, it has been infinitely more difficult to explain to an almost 4-year-old why his kitties are not coming back.  I don’t feel comfortable in lying about that – there will be no stories about going to the farm or running away here.  We’ll continue to deal with it as it comes for him.

Okay, my personal crusade is finished, but if you have kitties give them a scratch from the small blonde because he’s missing his furry playmates.

Next time, I promise we’ll be back to quilting.