Sunday, August 13, 2017

Ironing

On numerous occasions I have needed to pin some fabric to my ironing board, but the pins tend to have a mind of their own and topple from the upright position.  Recently I put two pieces of foam core board under the padding and cover.  It was fantastic...for awhile.  I could stick pins in there and they'd stay put.  Well, that worked for the short term, but foam core board is affected by the heat and soon began to look like a roller coaster.  Now I have three pieces of foam core board that are basically useless.

Why do I need to stick pins in my ironing board?  I use them to secure the first piece of fabric to the pattern when I am doing paperless paper piecing.  I also find pins invaluable for aligning seams and points when I am sewing a main seam together.  I stick pins through matching points straight up and down into the ironing board, and I stick pins here and there to match seamlines.  Then I glue baste the main seam allowances together, press and sew.  I generally get great results with only the occasional need to rip and redo.  I know, I am very fussy, but I like to be able to show my quilts and these details are important in that venue.

Sharon Schamber has a great video on making your own pressing board.  I have watched it a couple of times, but the board she uses is not meant for sticking pins into.  I got the brilliant idea of placing cork board on top of my DH-built ironing table (22" x 60"), and placing the covering over that. I did some research and found that it is heat resistant, absorbing heat without emitting fumes.  It is slightly rough, which grips the covering fabric enough to keep it in place.

Corkboard on top of plywood table surface (to the left is a small platform
for setting stuff on - not part of the ironing surface)

TIP:  In my research I found that you should not use particle board.  It does not hold up when exposed to moisture.  I do not use a steam iron, but do occasionally use water in a spray bottle and/or starch.  I didn't find anything about cork and moisture so I am keeping my fingers crossed, but I don't think it is an issue.  DH says it will be fine.

I am covering the cork board with cotton batting and canvas.  I am using Quilters Dream Request  (low loft), which I have on hand so I am using two layers.  If I were using Quilters Dream Select I would use only one layer.

Batting on of cork board.
Ironing board is ready to go.  Canvas cover washed and clean.  Canvas cover no longer fits!  It shrunk...it REALLY shrunk!  Quilting time on hold as I make a new cover.  New canvas is in the washing machine in hot water as I write.

TIP:  Pre-shrink your canvas if you are using it for an ironing board cover.  Duh!

Waiting for the canvas to dry (my dryer is the mountain wind).

Sew some happy seams today.  I wish you no shrinkage this week.




Sunday, August 6, 2017

Mistake Madness

Do you think that all I do is make mistakes?  I prefer to state that I correct mistakes and solve problems, but then I am a glass-half-full sort of person.  That is what this blog is all about and what better to write about than my own foibles.  I hope my solutions will be helpful to others as they read.  When you design your own quilts you have to iron out your own problems, and it is unrealistic to imagine that there won't be some along the way.

How's the paperless paper piecing (PPP) going?  Fantastic.  I am cutting out three or four of each piece, which takes about 30 minutes.  From there I can breeze through three or four blocks in nothing flat.  Well....compared to my first attempts.  I save up several glued blocks, and sit down to stitch them all at once, chain stitching.  That's called efficiency!  I have decided that this process  doesn't take any longer than paper piecing.  Both methods require a learning curve during which you have to be patient with yourself.  Now I have another plus to share about PPP.  Read on.

Mistakes?  Yes!  I printed out the overall design to use as a guide for the colors in each block.  All the blocks are the same basic pattern, but the colors are arranged differently in various blocks.  After printing the guide I went back to the computer and changed the color of one piece in each half-block.  Then I forgot to print out the new version.  Now one black piece in each half-block has to be switched out for turquoise.  Six square blocks done, so 12 triangles to rip back to that piece to change it.  It is an important element and must be done.


Black vs turquoise triangle.  Center seam not stitched.

Inner bulldog, get moving!  It sort of takes the joy out of quilting, but not the satisfaction of doing the job right and completing my design correctly.  Sigh......ripper in hand I plucked out the necessary stitches.  Fortunately, there really aren't too many because the offending piece was one of the last in the sequence of sewing.  By the time I replaced one, I had figured out how to do it without distorting the block.  First, I folded, ironed and starched the seam allowance on the new piece so I had a nice, sharp crease.

The fold is pressed over a strip of heat resistant template plastic.
You can use double freezer paper, but it gets soggy soon.


Then, working from the right side of the block I glued the seam allowance in place with the sharp crease exactly on the old seam line of the embedded piece, where I could see the line of little holes.  Press.

Glued down in place, with other pieces pinned back out of the way.
(except for that one little tail on the right - it was too stiff to stay folded back, but easy to work around.


Open out the new piece and stitch exactly on the crease line.

Crease line is a perfect guide.

The remaining two pieces were corner pieces needing only partial dismantling so they were really easy to manage.  They were the ones that were pinned back.  I laid those corners carefully back in place and glued them down making sure that the dimensions of the block were not compromised.  Then stitched.  Done....and it didn't even take too long to do.


Measuring before stitching.  Love glue basting!

If I had done this with paper piecing I would have unstitched the same three pieces, which would have messed up the paper, and I might have had to replace more than the one piece of fabric because the trimming would be tight.  There might have been more distortion from the messed up paper.  Paper piecing requires a bit of guesswork to position the fabrics correctly, then trim after sewing.  PPP is clearly the way to go!  However, I am glad the error was on the outer area of the block and not in the center.  Smile!

That turquoise piece is important as it part of the basic framework for the whole design.  It will set me back a day, but it will be soooooo worth it.  I'm not in a hurry and am already thinking about how I will quilt it.  Slow down....it takes time to do those blocks correctly.

Oops!  I found a few seams that I hadn't sewn.  Good grief, I am glad I discovered and could fix them.  I had to hand stitch one because it was too deep in the stitching sequence.  It was a good lesson and warning to carefully check the seams as I go along.  The only downside of PPP is getting the seams sewn in order without missing any.  Working on that!

Sew some happy seams this week.  I wish you no mistakes, but if necessary, easy fixes.



Sunday, July 30, 2017

IT'S A WIN!!

The quilt that filled so many blogs for the past year was juried in to the Quilt Odyssey Show in Hershey, PA.  I looked at the pictures that filled their FB page and figured I was way out of my league, but at least was juried in.  Imagine my surprise when the quilt arrived back home with a Third Place prize ribbon tucked inside.  I am ecstatic to say the least, and now I can show it to you, all finished.

Roman Candle
Sew some happy seams this week.  Do your very best and you will always be a winner!

Monday, July 24, 2017

Point Problem

I can plan and plan and plan.  I make patterns three or four times to get the kinks out.   It looks like I am ready to roll so I start making blocks.  After 5 blocks I discovered some things that needed attention.

Problem #1.  I have some critical points that should meet at the seamline.  They meet OK, but can't be sewn.  One in particular has four points coming together (that is 16 layers of fabric at the point) and the piece to which it is seamed is the same so now there are 32 layers of fabric.  Oh Boy!  My machine took one look at that and decided to fudge the seam allowance.  So now the points don't match and the fabric buckles slightly, but too much for my taste.  A rosette on the back won't work because the seams on both big triangles all go the same way because of the order of stitching.

Too many points together at the seam

I consider this a design flaw so back to the drawing board.  There is still a point now (below), but it doesn't come all the way to the seam.  It sews nicely and the design is not affected by the minor change.
See how the point is moved over a little bit? Problem vaporized.
Problem #2.  My pattern involves sewing two pieced triangles together to make a square block.  There is a piece of fabric at one point of the triangle.  When sewn together these two end pieces look like a half square triangle.  No problem with that, except my pattern does not have that line on a 45º angle.  Thank goodness I noticed it this early in the game, because in my adaptation that is a critical design flaw.  I can fix the few completed blocks pretty easily and redraw the pattern, but what a nuisance.

PS.  I just looked at the pattern in the book.  I drew it wrong.  Book is right.  Oops!  Now I pay for that seemingly minor mistake.

Red line is the way I drew it.  
Blue line is 45º angle.  Have to redo the pattern slightly.
Two blocks not sewn together yet.  See the light and dark triangles in the middle at the bottom?
Together they should be a half square triangle with STRAIGHT lines.
Those are my personal negatives, but are related to the pattern not the process.  I would never have seen it without my design wall to stare at.

I must say, that so far the paperless paper piecing is going beautifully.  I now have a system.  I love the fact that I can see the block all together before sewing it.  I am finding that the paperless method is more precise than paper piecing.  I haven't had to redo any points except as related above.  Sewing it is easy, but does take some mental gymnastics to get it right at first so there have been a few stitches to pick out here and there.  It is a new way of thinking.  Another thing I really like is cutting the pieces to the exact size, plus seam allowance of course.  Almost no waste and each piece fits right in place with no guessing.  With paper piecing I almost always had a few pieces that ended up too skimpy and had to be done over in spite of lots of experience with that process.

Does it take longer?  I don't really know and I am getting speedier the more I do.  A major plus is that once the block is together it is done.  No picking out paper.

This process is a keeper!

Sew some happy seams this week.  I wish you straight seams always, except when they are supposed to curve.








Monday, July 17, 2017

Climbing the Learning Curve

Paperless paper piecing is done with glue basting before sewing.  The cut fabric pieces are put down in the reverse order of paper piecing on a freezer paper template with said fabric backside up.  You fold up the seam allowance of the first piece on one side, line it up in place on the template, and put glue (Elmer's school glue) on the folded-back seam allowance.   Then you set the next piece onto it so the seam allowances are together.  Press.  Each piece has one turned up side.  Now you are all confused so please take a look at this tutorial.  I made a couple of throw away testers to get the hang of it.

See the underlying template in the photo below?  The pieces are marked by number in the order they are to be applied.  The red dotted line shows which edge of the piece will be turned up. The glue will be applied to that bit of seam allowance.  The next piece is laid down with the fold exactly on its black line and with its other sides pressed on top of the glue on the previous piece.  The blue line (see #10) tells me to cut that side with about 1/4 inch extra fabric.  BTW:  I make the templates and pattern pieces in Illustrator and print them, but they could be drawn by hand.  When all pieces are glued down you sew the seams in the reverse order from which you glued.  The learning curve is a little steep at that part.

Just getting started.  Excess glue is white, but washes out.

Templates for individual pieces.  Note the red dotted lines and blue line on them too.
Problem:  I  glued my block into a corner that couldn't be stitched.
Analysis:  Oops!
Solution:  Redo the order of construction.  That did the trick.  It takes a little practice to get your head in the right place for planning so it can be sewn.  Start on something simpler than this.

Problem:  My points were too close to the edge where two triangle blocks were sewed together.
Analysis 1:  Did I put it together sloppily?
Solution:  Since it is only glued so far and not stitched, maybe I can unglue a tiny bit, fudge a little and re-glue.  The only problem here is that the points have to match with those on the other half of the block so too much fudging might distort the whole block.
   or
Analysis 2:  Did I trim the finished block too much?  That turned out to be the problem.
Solution:  I made a template of clear plastic, marking all the seam lines and outside seam allowance.  I can lay it over the top of the finished block now and mark the trim lines.  I also made a mark on the main template and the individual piece templates to remind me to allow a little extra fabric on the outside edges (blue line).

One triangle block completed, untrimmed.

Clear plastic template with finished size of block marked.
TIP:  I used to trim by laying a ruler over the plastic template and cutting with a rotary cutter.  Unfortunately, I discovered that it is too easy to shave little by little off the template until accuracy is impaired.  Now I mark by hand, remove the template, and then cut only fabric with the rotary cutter.

Problem:  One of my fabrics was not right.  It was too dark and didn't show up against the black fabric next to it.
Solution:  Of course >>> go to the fabric store!  I had fabrics, purse and keys in hand when DH mentioned that the road is closed.  Whaaaaat?  A dump truck went off the road and over the edge of a steep canyon (150 ft down).  Road closed most of the day.  How about the other road?  Nope, a car went over a steep embankment on a tight curve.  Road closed the rest of the afternoon.  The only road left to take me out of our mountain valley would involve too much extra travel.  Not worth it.  So I worked on another tester and will wait for open roads to go out for fabric.

Problem:  Again, seam allowance skimpy.  This time after sewing.
Analysis:  Apparently the stitching tightened up the block, shrinking it slightly.
Solution:  Cut extra fabric on all outside edges.  Don't trim until after sewing.  Try finer thread.

There is definitely a learning curve.  My first block had a major difficulty about which I will write next week.  The latest was wonderfully successful.  It took me about three hours to cut paper pattern pieces (reusable), cut fabric pieces, press, glue, and then sew two triangle blocks and stitch them together.  An assembly line will really help speed up the process, but the accuracy is fantastic except for the occasional pilot error.

Sew some happy seams this week.  I wish you gentle learning curves this week.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Enough is Enough

In my last two posts I have complained and complained, giving lots of reasons for not being able to sew.  Ha!  I finally came to terms with the real reason.  I couldn't yank up any enthusiasm for finishing my thread painted portrait.  This is my third try, but the eyes aren't quite right, the nose is too big and the lips look awful.  I finally admitted that I don't want to work on it and may not be geared for fabric portraiture.  Bummer!  Mind you, I am usually a finisher.  I don't collect UFOs so this really goes against the grain.  However, there are times in sewing and in life where you have to stop and admit that THIS IS NOT WORKING.

I cleaned up the sewing room and began to move on to the new.  I grabbed the key and went out to my stash shed to fondle fabric and make choices.  I will need to buy a little, but most of the quilt will come from what I have already stockpiled.

I finished my design and am so excited to get working on it.  It is all paper pieced and I am going to try my hand at paperless paper piecing.  It will take more time up front, but there won't be time spent at the end pulling out paper.  I won't have to buy the water soluble paper that I like to use.  There will be a learning curve, but I plan to make a couple of trial blocks before I use my chosen fabric.  I understand the process and have tried it a time or two, but now I have a fairly complicated block and am still trying to figure out how I will make it work...thus the trials.  Practice, practice, practice.  I am sure I will speed up the process as I gain competence and establish an assembly line.

TIP:  Interested in something new?  Try it!  Sometimes it works for you, other times it doesn't.  It keeps your brain alive and healthy, so test it.  Stay tuned!

Here is the block I am planning to use from from Carol Doak's "50 Fabulous Paper-pieced Stars" page 122 (yeah, I know...you saw it last week).  Variety on the blog is hard when you haven't been doing anything!  It will make a nice star as is (see last week's post), but I will finish with 36 blocks and numerous color changes.  The final product does not even look like stars, but rather like a colorful, square mosaic.  Quilting in the ditch will eventually show the stars on the back.  My plan is to use Prairie Points instead of the standard binding.  Another new process for me.

One block for "Desert Mosaic." 
Outline for the piecing.
The basics are together.  Now to figure out how to construct it.  Back to the Internet to read the tutorial again.

I have also calculated fabric amounts in Illustrator by drawing a rectangle around each piece representing the amount of fabric for that piece with seam allowance.  Then I duplicate that rectangle as many times as I need for the whole quilt.  Each color is on its own layer.  The document is 40" (about fabric width with a little leeway) and the height is 36," but can easily be made longer if necessary.  This process is a little tedious, but is all accomplished on the computer and really didn't take too long.   It is very accurate as long as the pilot doesn't err.  I work on a grid in Illustrator, which doesn't show up in the example below, but it helps determine the right size rectangle for the odd shaped pieces.  Note that one red piece below will be used 72 times in the quilt!  Illustrator also has rulers on the side and top, which tell me how many inches I am using, thus I can calculate yardage.

Red fabric Planning Sheet - I need 1 yard of red fabric.
I found out one thing.  Prairie points take a lot of fabric, but they will look so pretty on my quilt and are a unique finish.

Sew some happy seams this week.  I wish you a jump start on your current or next project.


Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Best Laid Plans

The sewing table is ready, but I still haven't gotten back to sewing.  We have cheatgrass in the yard, which is pretty, but terribly invasive.  It dies off and turns brown by early July and does not provide adequate nutrition for the deer and elk, so it goes ugly fast.  DH weed-whacked most of the wild grass (no formal lawn here), but I am pulling the cheatgrass by hand from about 1/4 of the yard.  Then, we wait and see what happens next year.  Why am I telling you this?  My poor body is getting badly abused from grass pulling and dandelion digging.  Machine quilting forces the body to be in one fairly intense position without much moving around even if you have a good chair, table the right height, etc.  Stiff necks are very common, but right now it is my whole body that is stiff in spite of my daily exercise routine, stretching and walking the dog.

So what do I do when I am not sewing?  Cleaning house goes only so far.  I don't bake because we have cut out sugar and carbs as much as possible.  So I design.  I lay in bed in the morning free motion thinking as I awaken, and slowly the ideas are coming together for another quilt.  I killed time some months ago between projects making four paper pieced stars, each different.  Then I moved on and let them sit.  They have given me a start for new ideas.  As for the stars I don't use, I am thinking I might cut them into 2" strips and use them for part or all of a border.  I don't know if that will work or not, but it will be fun to try.  I should be able to make this quilt from my stash.  Won't that make DH happy?

I started with a design from Carol Doak's "50 Fabulous Paper-pieced Star" page 122, which I drew in Illustrator.  You can do this on paper, but I like working it out on the computer.  I changed the slant of one line just because.  I drew a hexagon for the center.
Two spokes of a star.  One hexagon.

Then I created a star by putting the two star pieces together and rotating the whole by 90 degrees three times to get all eight points.


Next I rotate the whole star three times until I have four stars.  Then I begin to take design pieces to add to the outside.  From here I just play.  For the center, a hexagon (6 sides) in an octagonal (8 sides) star?  Yes!  It doesn't "fit," but can be worked in a way that adds a slight bit of visual tension, which also adds interest.

TIP:  Don't be afraid to break the rules.  Many rules are mere guides.

I got this to a point where I sort of liked it, but wasn't truly happy.  I played with colors.  I put the hexagon in the center, which was a glowing success after I colored various, surrounding pieces so it looks like it flows out into the greater design (not shown here).  Once I was happy with a version of the whole I began to change colors here and there until I finally ended up with something that spoke to me. As I changed colors in different places I found designs within designs and nested boxes.

Another way to play with designs is to create a line drawing and fill it with color.  That's what all those colored pencils are for - right?

So far I have been playing, looking for design and color and sometimes my computer precision goes wonky.  Before I begin a quilt I will go back to the beginning and make sure that every line and connection is precise so I don't end up trying to sew things that got distorted and no longer fit together.  You are welcome to copy and enlarge the above and color it in if you want to.  I would love to see what you come up with.

TIP:  Simplicity.  Remember the whole design is nothing but one pieced triangle in a right and a left version.  Like the cells of your body make you a complex whole, so is a quilt design.

Sew some happy seams this week or have fun drawing out your creative ideas.
P.S.  My final design, because of color changes, shows no evidence of having begun as stars!!

Monday, June 26, 2017

Getting Back to Work

My Blog-cation is over.  We went to Seattle to celebrate the high school graduation of a granddaughter.  We had a great visit and loved driving across the country.  Wyoming was a green, patchwork sprinkled with antelope and angus cattle.  The desert was even green.  The drive home took us up one range of mountains and then down into desert, then back into high country and down again onto the flatland several times.  The western USA is an oversized roller coaster with endless, stunning vistas!   A good time was had by all, but it is nice to be home.

Unfortunately my poor house is in chaos right now with stuff all over the place.  Empty suitcases are still in the living room.  I am back to refinishing my mother's trays, but now that it is warm enough, I moved all the painting paraphernalia out of the sewing room and into the garage where I will continue to work on it.  Nice to get that mess out of the way.  Now my sewing is strewn all over the room to bare the table for a plywood top.  I work on a rectangular folding table, which generally works well, but it dips about 1/4 inch or more in the middle, which means my sewing machine tips away from me as I sew, and it bounces when I really get going. I tried a piece of wood under the back edge, which helps, but DH noticed the problem one day and suggested a plywood top, which is now under construction.

You are probably familiar with this kind of folding table.

Meanwhile we purchased annual flowers and they must get planted in my containers before they wilt.  The Golden Years of Empty Nesting!  Where are they?  The nest just fills up with other things, but not gold!

*************************

Later:  The board is done and fits on the table perfectly.

5/8 inch plywood on top supported by the substantial edges of the table.
It is heavy enough that it won't slide.

I covered it with some flannel-backed plastic tablecloth material that I discovered in my stash.  When on earth did I buy that?  Anyhow, it is the perfect material with which to cover the plywood...sort of like upholstering it.

Fabric ready to put on the board.  Styrofoam to sit behind the machine.

I also covered two pieces of 1-inch styrofoam cut to fit around the back of my machine.


Styrofoam covered.  
The raised surface prevents my quilts from falling off the back of the extender table and hanging up on corners when I am quilting.  Even 2 inches behind my machine makes a tremendous difference.The wrinkles in the tablecloth fabric from years of being folded have already relaxed and will not be an issue.
Completed table top.

I thought to take a picture of it all set up ready to sew, but the new surface didn't show enough after I put the extender table on the machine and set out all my tools and stuff, but I know it is done, and it will make sewing easier.  

TIP:  Sometimes a solution takes time away from quilting, but it is important to have your equipment fit your work style, so in the end it is worth it.


Sew some happy seams this week.  I wish a comfortable surface on which to work.











Thursday, June 8, 2017

Blog-cation Time

That's right.  My blog is on a short vacation.  Still varnishing.  Gardening and hauling rocks.  No sewing...and now no writing.  Take care and enjoy the summer while it is here.

These photos show life in the mountains.  I take my camera on my daily walks to record fun, funny and interesting encounters.

Young bull elk with emerging antlers, laying in the neighbor's yard.

Soon-to-be mama elk.
End of pregnancy blahs!

Sew some happy seams this week.  I wish you enjoyment of summertime.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

This 'n That


My brain is working on other things this week.  I am varnishing trays that my mother painted 50 years ago.  With usage over the years there has been some damage to the finish.  The only place I can varnish is my sewing room because I can keep it somewhat free of dust and dog hair by closing the door.  Meanwhile my thread painted portrait languishes because varnish, mineral spirits, brushes and paint have taken over its space.
What a mess!
This is a great time to take the sewing machine to my service person for its annual cleaning and adjusting.  I highly recommend that you do the same.  I sew 2-3 hours most days and it is ready for its check-up every May.  You get the best results when you take good care of your machine.  Just like a car.

Remember my post on folding fabric?  Well it looks great, but when I went to add a couple more fabrics I found it difficult to manage the long, folded pieces (about 10" x 6").  It is just hard to maintain the fold on both ends while squashing the rest of pieces in the drawer to make room for the new.  The most efficient way to do it is to remove the drawer, set it on its side, add the new fabric and replace the drawer.  Nuisance.

Long fold turned out to be inefficient.
Solution:  Fold each long piece of fabric in half.  This makes a smaller, fatter package individually, but doesn't take up any more space.  Much easier to manage.  I can go through a drawer and make the extra fold on all the fabrics in about 5 minutes.  When there is significant yardage it is hard to make this fold so I just leave it long.  It is thick enough to manage easily.

Much easier to manage.
I'll just do a drawer each time I go to my fabric storage shed.


Sew some happy seams this week.   I wish you a modicum of efficiency.



Sunday, May 21, 2017

Spring Sprung a Snowstorm

We were hammered last week as the sky darkened and snow fell for almost 36 hours.  I have never seen so much snow.  Our fence was buried and we had snow sculptures on everything sitting in the yard.  BBQ sculptures.  Birdhouse sculptures.  Bird feeder sculptures.

BBQ Sculpture
The trees were gorgeous with laden branches and pristine snow around them.  Dixie quickly took care of that as she dashed around enjoying being a "snow-dog."  The downside was loss of the Internet and since our phone is Vonage, an internet connection, we were incommunicado.  How dependent we are on the Internet.  It is wonderful, but also a chain.  What do you do when you don't have the Web?   Sew!  That worked until I ran out of thread and there was no way I was going down the winding, slippery, mountain road to get a spool of thread.  I wasn't even going into our little town, which is only one mile away.

The African violets know it is Spring, but someone forgot to tell the weatherman.
I took pictures.  I shoveled snow.  I dug a path to my sewing storage shed and hauled in some more fabric to fold.  I made bread.  I straightened out some of the messes on my computer.  I watered my new airplants.  Truly, if you get creative, you can find plenty to do and still enjoy the snow.  It is so beautiful.  I do worry about the little swallows and nuthatches that have nested in our big birdhouse, but is hasn't been very cold, only enough to turn a lot of rain into snow.  Now the sun is out and I am sure it will melt away quite fast...unless more is on the way.

Deck Sculpture
I read an article in the latest "Discover" magazine about how our brains need solitude, meaning time without analytical, technical thinking.  Some call it "flow," others call it daydreaming, and I call it free motion thinking.  I do this most mornings as I lie in bed waking up.  I don't have to get up until I want to, but am usually out of bed by 6:30.  My mind wanders around when I am walking the dog or shoveling snow.  I do it when I don't have the Internet.  It is a time for letting your thoughts go where they want to, even to bizarre places, but it is a time when creative ideas seed the other part of thinking, which is the part that puts the pieces together.  It is important to use both kinds of brain work to stay balanced.  Your brain needs go off to strange places sometimes.  You are not being lazy, you are maintaining mental health and fostering creativity.

Birdhouse
 Sew a happy seam this week.  I give you permission to relax and do some free motion thinking.

A little bit of whimsy.
(Ancient birdhouse on driftwood with white, snow hat
)