Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The Last 15 Minute Challenge Post

The 15 Minute Challenge post is a bit late today.  In part, because I've been reluctant to write this last post.  The challenge has been part of my weekly posts since March of 2011.  It started as a way to get me upstairs into the sewing room most days.  I found the biggest motivator to making that happen was the prospect of having to blog about my failure if I didn't make it up there.    

Over the three years of the challenge, I've met some incredible quilters.  I've learned so much from these wonderful people.  We all struggle to find time to unleash our creativity while dealing with weekend sports and funky work schedules.  Thanks to everyone who linked up weekly and to those who made is every once in a while.

I wish I could say that the last two weeks of my 15 minute challenge report was fantastic, it's actually pretty pathetic.  

Early December was busy with end of year wrap up at work, late December has seen me laid up with a pretty severe cold.  Both contributed to make this the least productive month I've had since I started the challenge.  I sure hope this isn't a premonition of how it's going to go once I stop the challenge!  Only 5 sewing days in the last 2 weeks.  Definitely not ending on a high note here.  

Even though I'm late this week, I hope you'll take the time to link up just one last time and share how well you managed holiday commitments and sewing time over the last 2 weeks.  

Happy New Year!  

December NewFO - Celtic Solstice Mystery

Hard to believe it's the last day of 2013.  Especially since I've been sick since just after Christmas.  What I thought was just sinus crud morphed into a cold and I've been in bed most of the time since we got home from our Christmas trip to see the family.  Consequently, not much has happened in the sewing room.  I'm hoping the worst is past and that I'll feel more like myself my last two days of vacation so I can enjoy some play time in the sewing room.

I did find time to start Bonnie Hunter's Celtic Solstice mystery before Christmas got so hectic.  That's my December NewFO.  Last night I did manage to stitch up 2 blocks of clue 5 that was released last Friday.  That was all I managed before the cold medication kicked in and my eye lids got too heavy to hold up.  

None of the clues are finished, but I've been starting on each new clue while working on the older ones.  

I've made the most progress on the 4 patches, there's another 10 of those piled in stack that aren't on the design wall.  I should at least be able to start assembling the blocks when we finally get to that point.  

Looking back at this year, I've started 12 quilts.  

Of those 12, I've finished two.  So that's 10 projects left on the WIP list (I don't consider a project a UFO till it's a year old). It's been a good year for starts in my sewing room.  Now I just need to get working on a few finishes.  

Check out all the NewFOs over at Cat Patches.  I'm also linking up with Bonnie Hunter's Week 5 linky party.  I'm a day late to that linky, but that's better than never.  

Other than some lingering congestion and a bit of a headache, I seem to be over the worst of the cold.  I hope that means some significant stitching time is in my future this afternoon.  That's probably the most excitement I'm going to be able to handle this New Year's Eve.  

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Stash Report - Week 52 of 2013

Hard to believe it's the last stash report of the year.  On the one hand I'm relieved to get to reset my numbers, stash busting did not go well this year.  On the other hand it's hard to see another year come to an end. But I'm going to focus on the fresh start to get myself over the shock of ending another year.  

Before getting to the 2014 reset, I made one last foray into the quilt shops.  I bought some sale fabric to use for quilt backs.

And then I added a few pieces to fill some gaps in the stash in hopes that I will be able to pull only from the stash next year. 

The teal on the bottom is extra yardage for Celtic Solstice.  It was the one fabric I forgot to buy extra yardage for when I purchased the rest.  Hopefully, I'll be able to finish that project with what I have now.  

My purchases did some significant damage to the stash report, but as it's the last one of the year, I'm looking for the next one to show a lot of zeros in the incoming category.

Used last week:  0.06 yards
Added last week: 26.92 yards

Used for 2013: 65.34 yards
Added for 2013: 312.75 yards

Net stashed:  247.41 yards.  

I had hoped to see more out this week, but it's just been too busy with all the holiday prep and family visits.  I hope that changes this afternoon.  

This is the 4th year I've kept track of my stash.  I used 5 yards more this year than in any previous year I've been keeping track.  So that's a plus.  In terms of building the stash, I added more than I would have liked.   But compared to  last year where I added almost 390 yards to the stash, keeping the increase to less than 250 yards is definitely a step in the right direction. 

That's it for the last stash report of 2013.  To see more of the same, check out all the links over at Patchwork Times.  

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Delayed 15 Minute Challenge Post

Christmas is over for another year.  I hope everyone had a very merry one.  We certainly did.

Due to a lack of Internet access, the 15 Minute Challenge post did not go out this week.  Since my blogging technology is currently limited to the Nook, it is not possible for me to post a linky party, so next week's post will catch us up on the last 2 weeks of 2013.  Sadly it will also be the last 15 Minute Challenge post.  I hope you'll come join me for that New Year Eve's post.

See you next week.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Monday Design Wall and Celtic Solstice Progress

We survived the weekend ice storm with no power loss and no damage.  But it's still bitterly cold outside.  Other than a quick trip out with Drama Teen to get our hair cut and pick up coffee yesterday, we didn't venture out all.  Well that's not quite true I did venture outside in an attempt to get some cool shots of all the ice clad trees.  I lasted all of about 5 minutes.  The north wind was very persuasive in convincing me that the photos I had were good enough and I quickly scampered back inside.  My Guy only lasted another 5 minutes and then he was back inside too, saying it was just to cold to stay out.  That's rare for him, he can usually take the cold much, much better than I can.  

I have some last minute wrapping to finish up this morning, as well as a bit of laundry, then I'll be done with my chores until after Christmas.  I've not had a lot of time for stitching with all the pre-holiday prep work, but I did get a good start on clue 4 of Bonnie Hunter's Celtic Solstice mystery project.  

The photo also shows my progress on all the other steps.  Not as much as I would like, especially for the pinwheels. But I should have a few bits and pieces to assemble into blocks when we get to that part.  I've been enjoying the process, even though I've not had a lot of time for sewing.  After Christmas, I should be able to spend a couple of days in the sewing room just stitching.  

Safe travels to those on the road or traveling by air this year.  May you have a blessed holiday season and a joyous time with your families.  

For more design walls check out Patchwork Times.  For more Celtic Solstice progress, check out all the posts over at Quiltville.    

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Stash Report - Week 51 of 2013

Just one more week in 2013 for stash busting.  That's a bit hard to believe.  It seems to happen this way every year, the month of December just goes by in a blur.  With the first just a little over a week away, decisions about 2014 stash busting goals need to be made.  

I spent yesterday waiting for the power to go out.  We were in the dark pink "heavy" icing part of the map on the Weather Channel.  We did get a lot of ice, but the roads were just wet.  Weirdest ice storm I can remember.  These ice cycles were just outside the restaurant we ate dinner at last night.  

It's amazing we didn't have more power outages with that much ice building up on things. 

Not a lot of stitching this week.  I ended up working late most evenings since last week was my last for the year and I had lots to finish up.  Add in the last minute Christmas shopping and addressing Christmas cards, there hasn't been a lot of time spent in in the sewing room sewing.  Since I really expected to lose power at some point, I did take some time out of holiday preparations to stitch a few 4-patches for Clue 4 of Celtic Solstice first thing yesterday.  I didn't want to have the machine on if the power failed. So this week's stash report is pretty meager on the outgoing.

Used last week:  0.40 yards
Added last week:  0 yards

Used for 2013:  65.28 yards
Add for 2013:  285.83 yards

Net stashed:  220.55 yards  

At least there was nothing added last week.  No way am I getting back to the black this year, but I have hope next year of actually making it to the stash reduction side.  

That's it for my stash report.  For more on the state of stashes around the world, check out the posts over at Patchwork Times.  

Thursday, December 19, 2013

2014 NewFO Challenge - Next Year's Project List

I'm still playing catch up after the lap top crash, so I'm a bit late in coming up with my list for the 2014 NewFO Challenge over at Cat Patches.  

It's been a fun challenge the last two years, so how can I not sign up for 2014?  It has been a great way to get a few PIGS out of the grocery sacks and onto the design wall.  Here's my list for 2014 (in no particular order)

1.  Baby Quilt using bandanna fabric.  No pattern picked for this one yet.  

2.  Fall Frolic from 40 Fabulous Quick Cut Quilts by Evelyn Sloppy uzing Moda's Midwinter Reds.

3.  Rosettes by Fig Tree Co. using Moda's Nature's Basket.

4.  Walk in the City by Elisa Wilson using April's Garden

5.  Tonga Atlantis kit by Heidi Pridemore

6.  Inverted Star by Jessica Boschem for the 2014 Rainbow Scrap Challenge

Six is a good number to start with.  For 2013, I started 12 quilts, though that had not been my intention.  I've finished 5 quilts this year, so the UFO list grew slightly, but not too badly.  What I found in 2012 is that the more quilts started, the more quilts get finished.  I tried finishing a project before starting a new one and didn't get very many done that way.  For some reason, I do better working on a number of projects all at once.  

Hope you can play along.  Check out all the other cool projects linked up over at Cat Patches.  

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

15 Minute Challenge - Quilter's Guilt

It's another swim practice morning, so I have to be out the door in a little over 30 minutes.  Last week was busy with lots of holiday stuff, Christmas shopping and holiday parties.  I spent a lot of the week working on a photo calendar that will be the "family" gift for My Guy's siblings.  So there wasn't a lot of stitching going on last week.

Tuesday:  Nada
Wednesday:  Nada
Thursday:  Nada
Friday:  Nada
Saturday:  Nada
Sunday:  Celtic Solstice
Monday:  Nada

Just one day of stitching out of the last 7.  The track record for last year was about the same, so I'm beginning to think it's just the time of year.  Hopefully after Christmas, I'll get in a one or two personal retreat days and catch up for the lack of stitching the last two weeks. 

I did a little web surfing on "quilter's guilt", the fostering creativity theme for December.  Besides a blog and a few guilds of that name, I did find a few posts that deal with the subject.  I recognize my self in a few of them.  So what do quilter's feel guilty about, here's a list (in no particular order)

buying fabric/spending money on quilting
quilting rather than spending time with family
quilting rather than doing housework
the money spent on supplies (fabric)
not quilting enough

Are there other's on your list?  Which one of the above is your the source of most of your quilter's guilt?  At one time or another all of the above have been sources of my quilter's quilt.  

Link up below and share how your creative week went.  

1. Julie in GA

2. Kate @ katiemaequilts

3. Melanie J.

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Monday, December 16, 2013

Monday Design Wall and Celtic Solstice

It's been another hectic week here at Life in Pieces.  My Christmas shopping is done, now it just all has to get wrapped.  I've recovered most of my files from the now defunct lap top.  All the photos are on backup drives now, so I can at least access them for posts.  The plan for the lap top is to have the e-geeks determine if it's worth putting a new hard drive in it, but I won't be able to mess with that till later this week.  So I'm making do with My Guy's desk top and the Nook.  

I have spent some time in the sewing room this week, though more of that time has been spent wrapping presents than it has been sewing.  I did get a chance to sew for a bit last night.  I made a start on clue #3 of Celtic Solstice.  

Just 2 pinwheels completed at the moment.  I do hope to get back into the sewing room for more than a few minutes sometime later this week.  Drama Teen needs some help with her Science Fair project tonight, so I'm not sure there will be any time left to sew after that. Hopefully, Tuesday will offer more opportunity to sit down and stitch for a bit.   

That's it for the design wall this week.  Check out more design walls over at Patchwork Times and you can see all the fun progress on  Celtic Solstice over at Quiltville.  

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Stash Report - Week 50 of 2013

Week 50?  Really only two more weeks left in 2013?  That doesn't seem possible.  My last work day for 2013 is Wednesday.  It's going to be a crazy week, just as last week was.  I'd forgotten just how much the holiday stuff impacts my life.  Even with a day off last week, there was still so much to do that I never made it to the sewing room at all.  I hope to stitch some this afternoon.  We'll see if that happens or not.  

Since my numbers for 2013 were already pretty dismal in terms of stash busting, I decided to not worry about it for this year and took advantage of some of the on-line fabric sales to beef up on some staples, like white on white for background fabric.  At 50% off it's hard to turn down that opportunity.  Hopefully having invested in that yardage, as well as some tone on tone black, will help me use more next year without having to buy much.  

I also broke down and bought some yardage for a baby quilt that I want to make for one of the women I work with. They have chosen teal with touches of pink for the baby's room.  I had a three fat quarters of this bandanna fabric that would fit the Mom and Dad's style.  But three fat quarters wouldn't make a quilt, so I ordered some yardage of those three, plus added the green.  

I don't have a pattern picked out yet, but I want something with big squares.  That way it will go together quickly, plus showcase the fabrics.  

Here's the damage.

Used last week:  0.40 yards
Added last week:  17 yards

Used for 2013:  64.88 yards
Added for 2013:  285.83 yards

Net stashed:  220.95 yards

I've been stocking up on basics and background fabrics, so hopefully the additions this year will make it easier to use just the stash for projects.  I've bought several fat quarter sets this year, but those all have patterns picked out for them.  So they'll go on the NewFO list for next year (Barbara's already got the 2014 button up).  I have used more fabric this year than ever before and I'm counting that as a point of success.  

Were you able to resist the end of year sales?  If not you are probably in good company.  Check out all the other stash reports over at Judy's Patchwork Times.  

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Very Late 15 Minute Challenge Post

It's after 7 PM central time and I'm just now getting to the 15 Minute Challenge post.  Since the hard drive died on the lap top, I'm having to wing a few things.  I do have some key files backed up so I'm not completely dead, but I have lost access to specialty programs, like EQ and My Memories Suite, that are not on My Guy's desk top.  I haven't lost any of my pictures, but they are all on memory cards, not on a computer at the moment.  So I can restore all of those, but it may take a while.  

The real reason I didn't get to post this morning is due to a deadline at work.  I was up late last night getting it done and just didn't have time this morning to write a post.  So I'm just going to have to plead for mercy and hope that late truly is better than never.  

Last week was the worst week I've had all year for finding time (and energy) to stitch.  

Tuesday          Nada
Wednesday     Nada
Thursday         Nada
Friday              Nada
Saturday          Celtic Solstice
Sunday            Back to Square One
Monday           Nada 

Just two days worth of sewing room time.  In part, the absences are due to holiday activities.  Deadlines at work have also impacted my ability to sew when I get home.  Some nights I've had to work.  

I could beat myself up for the last week, but I've decided that sometimes that's just the way life works.  This month's fostering creativity theme is about not feeling guilty when things don't work out as we had hoped with our crafty endeavors.  Dictionary.com gives the definition of guilty as "a feeling of responsibility or remorse for some offense, crime, wrong, etc., whether real or imagined."   So what offense do we commit that we feel we have to be remorseful for when we don't quilt or a project doesn't turn out right?  Is it that we paid $$ for the fabric and we aren't using it or we did use it, but it didn't work right, so we wished we hadn't?  

It was easy to forgive myself this week as I had real deadlines on other things that had to get done or I would risk not staying employed.  It's easy to forgive under those circumstances.  But what about those weeks (or for some us, months) where we don't venture into the sewing room.  Those times we'd rather read a book, play on the computer, etc.  Is it so bad that we aren't creating, that projects aren't getting done?  I don't have any answers to these questions. I suspect that what answers there are would be different for each one of us.  

Hopefully your creative life was more successful than mine last week.  Please link up and share how your crafty side is doing.  

1. Julie in GA

2. Melanie J.

3. Kate

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Monday, December 9, 2013

Monday Design Wall and Celtic Solstice

It's been one of those weekends here at Life in Pieces. Our Jeep decided Saturday night not to accept either of our keys and wouldn't start.  That meant a walk home in subfreezing temps. Thankfully we weren't all that far from home.  Then on Sunday the hard drive died in my lap top.  So I'm on My Guy's desk top computer this morning.  Most everything important is backed up some way or the other, so it's not as bad as it could be.  I'm just going to have to get used to not having a computer in the sewing room until I can get that one fixed or a new one ordered.  

Moving on to more fun stuff, I did get to sew a bit yesterday.  I finally got started on Bonnie Hunter's Celtic Solstice.  I got all the fabric pressed, pieces cut for clue 1 and clue 2, and made up a few blocks for both clues.  

Celtic Solstice
designed by Bonnie Hunter
I'm making my version from yardage rather than scraps.  I've wanted to do one of Bonnie's mystery for years, but never had the time to get all the fabric together.  It won't be scrappy, but I'm at least able to participate rather than watch from the side lines. I'm liking the teal/brown combo, though I am a bit concerned that there isn't enough contrast between my two browns.  I'm going to try to make at least some blocks as each clue comes out even though I've not finished all the blocks from the previous clues.  Hopefully that way I'll be able to keep up with most of the steps.  

That's it for my design wall this week.  I'm linking up with Judy over at Patchwork Times and with Bonnie Hunter's Celtic Solstice progress post.  

Sunday, December 8, 2013

December Report - The Year of the Finished Project

I completely missed posting how I did on my November goals last Thursday.  Last week was both hectic and tiring, so a post just didn't get written.  Better late than never.  So here's how I did on my Year of the Finished Project Goals.  

Never Too Hot to Stitch!

1.  Mon Ami
       Bind and label
            binding made, but not attached.

2.  Back to Square One
         Clue 9                                          Done
         Clue 10
         Clue 11

3.  Jigsaw
        Make 24 blocks

4.  Neutral Gems
         Make 4 blocks                                  Done

5.  Road to Brenham
         Make 24 quarter square triangles       Done

6.  Scrappy Stars
         Make 5 blocks

7.  Scrappy Trip Around the World
          Make 2 blocks                                  Done

Only 4 out of 10 goals were completed, but progress was made on all the projects.  Since that's my goal, is to do a bit each month, the challenge is working well for me.  

December is going to be a challenge.  The first week in December is already gone and I've not done much sewing at all.  It will be a busy month, but I have hopes that I can make some progress on all my projects.  Here's the goals for December:

1  Mon Ami
           Bind and label

2.  Back to Square One
            Clue 10
            Clue 11
            Clue 12

3.  Jigsaw
            Make 10 blocks

4.  Starburst
            Make blocks 1 to 5
            Keep up with new blocks

5.  Neutral Gems
            Make 4 blocks

6.  Scrappy Trip
            Make 2 blocks

7.  Scrappy Stars
            Make 5 blocks

We'll see how much gets done.  It doesn't hurt to dream big, but I also know that I really want to start Bonnie Hunter's Celtic Solstice mystery.  Check back in January to see if how it all turns out.  

I'm linking up with Lynn at Never Too Hot to Stitch for the 2013 Year of Finished Projects.  

Stash Report - Week 49 of 2013

It's cold.  We had our first snow Friday morning (like a lot of places in the US).

Along with the snow, came absolutely frigid temperatures.  Though the wind hasn't been too bad.  We were lucky to just get snow, places to the south got ice.  Drama Teen was thrilled, there was no school on Friday.  We got home from work at 6 and she was still in her pj's!  

Between the snow and the cold, you would think I'd have gotten some sewing done this week, but there's been a lot going on at both home and work. One night was spent shopping for our Angel Tree kids.  The rest of the week I was either working on year end stuff for work or passed out in the recliner.  The roads were good enough yesterday for Drama Teen and I to have our annual marathon Christmas shopping session.  All of that just to say, there's absolutely nothing going on with my stash report.  

Used last week:  0 yards
Added last week:  0 yards

Used for 2013:  64.48 yards
Added for 2013:  268.83 yards 

Net Stashed for 2013: 204.35 yards

At least there was nothing in to go along with the nothing out.  I hope to do better this week on the going out part.  Once I get past Tuesday, things will slow down at work some so there should be more stitching going on this week.

That's it for this week's stash report.  I'm linking up with Judy over at Patchwork Times as usual.   

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

15 Minute Challenge - Guilty

It's another swim practice Tuesday, so I have less than 15 minutes to get this post together.  Have I considered writing a post the night before?  Yes, I have but Monday evening stuff seems to take over and before I know it, it's time for bed.  

On the sewing front, I had an excellent week.  Which should be expected as I was on vacation all week.  

Not a lot of sewing, but I did get a lot of hand work done.  I washed the fabric for Celtic Solstice last night so I can start cutting.  But that won't happen tonight because Drama Teen has a swim meet.

It's a new month, which means a new fostering creativity discussion topic.  It's a topic that most of us are familiar with, feeling or not feeling guilty as the case may be when we do or don't find time for our creativity fix.  Not sure where this topic is going to take us, but we'll look at it all month.  It's a good topic to lead into the new year as most of us will start thinking about next year's goals before too much longer.  

Well that's all I have time for this morning.  Link up below and share how your holiday week went. 

1. Julie in GA
2. Kate @ katiemaequilts
3. Melanie J.
4. Amanda

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Monday, December 2, 2013

Design Wall Monday - December 2nd

I'm not really ready for Monday.   I was off all last week, so that makes it hard to get back into the groove this morning.  Even more so because this work week is packed full with end of the year stuff. 

Even though I was off, we spent a lot of the week visiting family. That means not a lot got done in the sewing room.  I did manage to finish the first block for the Starburst Quilt along.  

pattern by Alison of Little Bunny Quilts
(links to pattern found here)

Neutral Gems has been progressing a few blocks at a time.  More than half the blocks are finished now.

Neutral Gems
Pattern is "Gems" by Donna Lynn Thomas
found in the book Patchwork Palette

I didn't get as far on Back to Square One as I had hoped.  Only two of the star blocks for the last pieced border are completed.  

Back to Square One
by Judy Laquidara (pattern available here)

Bonnie Hunter's new mystery started up on Friday.  I've got the fabric now, but it still needs to be washed before I can start cutting. Hopefully that will happen sometime this week. 

That's it for what's up on my design wall this week. For more pretties, check out the links over at Patchwork Times.    

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Slow Stitching Sunday - December 1st

It's been almost 6 months since I've linked up with Kathy's Slow Stitching Sunday.  I've not finished any bindings since June and I only do my embroidery work when I can't get to the sewing machine.  With all the family activities going on for Thanksgiving, getting to the sewing room is difficult, but I can sit with my embroidery and visit with everyone without being considered rude.  We did a lot of visiting this week, so I made a lot of progress on my Butterfly Medallion piece.  

When I pulled this out on Thanksgiving Day, only the left two wings were done, I'm almost done with both wings on the right after 3 days of pretty intense visiting.  This is a large panel, so if I want to get it made into a quilt, the pace needs to increase.  Maybe if it resided in a little basket next to the recliner, progress would proceed a little quicker. 

That's it for slow stitching this week.  The binding is made for Mon Ami, it just needs to be attached to the front and then I can spend some time slow stitching it to the back.  Hopefully that will happen this week and I'll be linking up with Slow Stitching Sunday again next week.  

Stash Report - Week 48 of 2013

We've spent the holiday week having fun with My Guy's family.  It's been a nice visit. By this afternoon, it will be back to just us three  till Christmas and we do it all again. 

We spent Saturday taking part in "Small Business Saturday" shopping.  Quilt shops are small businesses, so that was definitely one stop on our excursion yesterday.  I've been wanting to do one of Bonnie Hunter's mysteries since I've been blogging, but have just never had the time.  This is the year I'm finally going to sew along. However, I don't have a lot of scraps at home to pull from, so I needed fabric. I had already decided not to use Bonnie's color scheme, but wasn't sure of what I really wanted to do.  After a bit of thought, the middle color scheme materialized on my note pad.    

After wandering around the quilt shop (without my family, they were off checking out new music), I came up with the second pass color scheme based on the fabrics in shop.  About that time, my family came hunting for me.  Both My Guy and Drama Teen were absolutely aghast at the pile of bolts in my arms.  Drama Teen politely asked who the quilt was for and after hearing that I had no one in mind, she said she didn't want to inherit a quilt made from those fabrics.  I just happened to be standing next to a row of brown bolts from which My Guy pulled out a nice deep brown and asked me to start over with that color as one of the focus colors.  After some additional back and forth, here's what finally ended up going to the cutting table. 

I had intended to go scrappy, but neither of them are fond of the scrappy look, so I'll be using just these 5 fabrics for Bonnie's mystery.  

That was a very long preamble into my stash report, which as you might guess doesn't look very good this week.  

Used last week:  0.65 yards
Added last week:  13 yards

Used for 2013:  64.48 yards
Added for 2013:  268.83 yards

Net stashed for 2013:  204.35 yards

Definitely not the direction I wanted to go in terms of adding to the stash.  But these 5 fabrics will go right back out.  On a bright note, I've used more fabric than ever before and to be honest this isn't my worst year in terms of adding to the stash.  I still have one month to redeem myself somewhat.  Or I can decide to indulge this year and just start over again for the new year.  

Check out more stash reports over at Patchwork Times.