Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Recap: October

I've thought about abandoning blogging in the past month. My schedule this semester is so packed between work, architecture, other classes, and maintaining my own sanity that I haven't had any time for quilting. But then I find a quiet morning and I think, "I'm ready to share now".

October was absolutely packed this year. My blog turned 2, I turned 23, and so many more exciting things happened.

On October 4th, I competed in a rock climbing competition, and placed 3rd in my category! Also, in relation to all the women who climbed that day, I had the 7th highest score. Out of like 20, but that's still an accomplishment!
The gym, with the crowd of climbers.

On October 11th, CJ and I escaped to Asheville, NC for some R&R&Beer. I bought a stein.
I didn't finish the beer...

On October 13th, I presented my thesis work to my peers. Sadly, I didn't photograph it, but the wall was full of charcoal drawings and photo collages. My big end of semester presentation is coming up on December 1st, where I'll pin all of my work up on the wall and stand by it from 8am to 5pm, talking to whoever walks by. I'm a little frantic at the moment, thinking about what I want to prepare for that day. With thanksgiving break coming, I really only have a week and a half of school to work, plus any days during break that I stay here, and don't go home.

On October 16th, I turned 23 years old. CJ had to work late that day, so I had a fantastic day with my friends. I wore my favorite sweater and earrings and felt pretty amazing :) That's really what birthdays are about, making the day special in your own way. I went to my friends' flag football game, made 5 little chocolate cakes with my friend Lindsey, and went out for margaritas with everyone later.
Presents on my desk :)

On October 18, I dressed like a viking and played in the Beer Olympics, in honor of my friend Ryan (who passed away on August 2nd this year). It was a hilariously fun day, and I'm sure Ryan enjoyed it from his box seat up in heaven.

On October 19, I went to Charlottesville with CJ to go apple picking with my Dad and Co. It was a really fun day, full of climbing apple trees and birthday presents. We went out to dinner at the Three Penny Cafe, and I had the most delicious monkfish of my life.

Even Dad climbed a tree. And my present is so comfy.

The next week was full of me not working on studio, because I earned a break, right? Pin up, right? Right? Yeah, I should've worked harder.

On October 24, my mom came into town for the weekend! We went to the pumpkin patch, hiked Buffalo Mountain, ate dinner in Floyd, and rode the Virginia Creeper bike trail. Plus we exchanged birthday presents (since hers is in September and I hadn't seen her yet).

And then on November 1, Dad and Irina came into town to visit and attend the VT-Boston College football game. We lost pretty embarassingly, but I had a great time. I don't get to go to sporting events with my dad really, so watching football with him was a real treat.
It was also cold.

And now it is handily into November! I've started back up with my thesis work (nose to the grindstone), I'm enjoying my pottery class, and (most importantly), I attended the Virginia Society of the AIA (Architect's Institute of America) convention and gala to accept an Excellence in Architecture award for the bridge I worked on two years ago. I made a connection with the principal of my DREAM firm, and I sent off my resume, cover letter, and work sample yesterday morning in the mail :) Hopefully, I'll be looking for a Quilt Guild in Seattle soon!

Also I finished this mini quilt:

And I did other things this month too, like a bit of quilting and going to the park and drinking tea from my handmade teapot.


Friday, October 3, 2014

9(9) Problems, but a Stitch Ain't One

Amy over at 13 Spools has started a round of talking about our quilter problems. Although I'm not quilting much these days, I have felt these troubles and have decided to share, as an effort to cleanse my heart and get things off my chest.


1. Piecing together your quilt back, and realizing you only have enough fabric to barely cover the quilt front. So you say "Screw the 4" of extra quilt back on all sides!" rule and quilt it anyway. And then you get spots of your quilt that show the batting.

2. Switching the direction of your quilting, so your stitches pull in opposite directions. You tell everyone you did it on purpose, to make the quilt look ripple-y, but you know you're lying.

3. Trying to get the cover back on my machine... it takes three solid minutes of wiggling and finagling.

4. Not having a big enough quilting table.

5. Not having enough safety pins for basting. Or, deciding to save some money and not buy basting spray, in favor of the pins you already have. And then not having enough pins.

6. Cutting into your precious hoarded prints, only to decide you don't want to make that quilt idea anymore.

7. Dropping pins in the carpet... and finding them with your feet. 

8. Having everyone in your life demand you make a quilt for them, when you're averaging about two a year.

9. And my biggest quilter problem... NOT FREAKING HAVING THE TIME TO QUILT.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Arm Knitting

This weekend, I visited Hanna's family in Northern Virginia. We went into DC to drive around and look at her project site for her Thesis, and I visited my old coworkers.

I was on Pinterest Saturday morning, looking for pottery inspiration, when I searched the term "chunky scarves". A tutorial for arm knitted infinity scarves popped up. I watched the 18 minute how-to video, and decided that I was capable enough to try it out. I dragged my friend Hanna to AC Moore, bought $20 worth of chunky yarn (I got excited), and set to work.

Simply Maggie's tutorial explained everything clearly, in terms that a non-knitter like myself could easily understand. I was able to figure out what "casting on" and "casting off" and "working yarn" all meant pretty easily. And it was SO EASY to make the scarves! Literally, half an hour later, I had a great chunky cowl scarf.

I used three strands of curly green yarn for my first cowl.

Hanna actually knows how to knit and crochet, so she had a leg up on me.

We watched Pirates of the Caribbean while arm knitting. During the movie, each of us made TWO scarves and were able to take breaks to focus on the pirates.


I made two more scarves on my four hour drive back down to Blacksburg from NoVA. I can easily get two scarves from one skein of yarn (albeit one will be much smaller than the other, because I didn't use the yarn evenly...), so Hanna and I decided to swap one of my orange scarves for one of her maroon ones. Her orange scarf turned out to be a lot smaller than mine, but it still looks good.

I noticed that her scarves were closer to her neck than mine are, and they're knitted tighter. Maybe I have bigger arms? Maybe I'm still a beginner knitter and have no clue what I'm doing? Either way, it's cool to see the differences in our work.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Around the World Blog Hop

I have a few quilt blog friends. We're doing this traveling quilt thing that is taking a little longer than I think any of us anticipated. And one of the participants, Anna, invited me to participate in the Around the World Blog hop- I talk about myself and the work I'm doing!

1. What am I working on?

Great question. Until Saturday, I didn't have a sewing table, so I hadn't been sewing. But I have been doing a lot of things in school.

I'm taking a pottery class. I learned how to make pinch pots (which sadly got annihilated in the kiln last week by an exploding piece) and some draped pieces, and I glazed for the first time on Monday. They came out on Thursday, and look pretty neat.

My lonely pinch pot.

My draped egg bowl.

My deformed draped egg bowl.

My jewelry cup.

I'm working on my architecture Thesis this year. The goal is to study wilderness and architecture, and how buildings can work with their environment to bring people closer to nature. What I've ended up doing is just cutting cardboard for an increasingly frustrating topography model.

2. How does my work differ from others in the genre?

Well for one, it isn't much sewing... haha! But really. I think I differ in my slowness. My time is divided between many many things, and when I do have time to sew, I like to do it in long batches. I don't sew for thirty minutes here, thirty minutes there. So, it takes a while to get a stretch of time I can sew in. So, all of my pieces are WIPs.

Like my Sister's Ten BOM from 2013.

Or my collection of baby quilts, needing to be quilted.

3. Why do I write/create what I do?

I began this blog to keep track of my quilting. I maintain it because my grandma and my friend Andy like to read it :)

I love to be busy. I fill my time with crafting and architecture because I don't know what to do when I have nothing to do. So I create in order to keep my mind and my hands busy. It's why I love being an architecture student, and it's why I love to quilt.

4. How does my writing/creative process work?

It's been hard recently. I have felt no motivation to write at all. So I'm sitting here, forcing myself to type something. I've just felt so busy lately, so I haven't had any time to think about things I've experienced and done. But when I do sit down to type, it just flows.

As far as creative process goes, dude. My studio desk is full of inspiring quotes and pictures and paper to draw on, but guess what I've done. I made a mountain out of cardboard. Not a building, but just a model of a mountain.

I have ideas for some pavillions and buildings. I just need to get the ground done first. So, I guess, process wise, I work in stages. Finish one, move on to the other.

Thanks for tagging me, Anna!

Saturday, September 13, 2014

A Recap

I realize there's been a lot of radio silence here on the Blog of Couch. I did a lot of things in August, and I just kept doing things, and I never sat down long enough to think about them introspectively.

But here's a quick smattering of what I've been up to.

I went to Mount Rainier National Park.

I saw misty subalpine meadows, the Nisqually glacier, and became a Junior Ranger.

I hiked and trekked and climbed.

Then CJ and I drove from Seattle to San Diego.

Oregon was lovely- the beaches and sand dunes were fun.

We drove the coast most of the way down.

Then school started and the College of Architecture turned 50, so there was a big party.

And now I'm sitting at my desk, thinking about architecture. 

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

The Slower Path

On Wednesdays, I ride my bike to work. I've been doing it for about a month now. The route I take is 7 miles one way, so I have to get up a little earlier to leave and I have to shower at work, but I really enjoy it.

This morning was chillier than usual, and not because I hit the pavement at 7:03. That summer polar vortex is bringing some lovely 50 degree July weather to the greater DC area. So I got to wear a little hoodie thing my dad got me in Utah this spring, huzzah!

Anyway, when I ride my bike, I like to keep my eyes open and look for things that I wouldn't normally see if I were driving. This morning, I saw a bunny rabbit next to the bike path. I've ridden past a friendly groundhog twice. I found a section of the path with wild honeysuckle growing (I can tell by the great smell). I have seen a very dedicated Indian man who runs barefoot, twice.

But my favorite part about the ride is just being outside, and not being cooped up at my desk or in my car. I can't just turn on the AC if it's hot, I've got to deal with it for 45-ish minutes until I get home. If I get tired, then I either power through it or take a quick break for water. Big hill coming up? Get some momentum and slap that puppy into first gear. And everything is so green and smells great, especially in the mornings.

And I feel extra great when I ride past people who are stuck in traffic :) At least, until I get stuck at a stop light too.

In quilty news, I've been very busy the last two weeks. So busy, in fact, I haven't blogged about it. So there is no process imagery here. I made two baby quilts for my house mom (to give as gifts). They're based off of Juice Boxes by Cluck Cluck Sew. I wanted the squares of the quilt to have a focal point (like animals, or the very hungry caterpillar), and the bigger squares to be background. I was thinking of it as an I-Spy kind of quilt.

Anyhoo, they were flown away literally as soon as I finished them so I wasn't able to photograph them. But house mom got some cell phone pics! But I can't figure out how to upload them. So I'll post them later.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

The Hypothetical Library: The Building Museum

I'm getting to the age where the best part about a museum is NOT just the gift shop. Don't get me wrong, I still love looking at things that are slightly useful and completely unnecessary, but I like the exhibits a little more now.

While I was at the National Building Museum, I sat in the gift shop for almost half an hour, finding and reading cool books. So, I'm starting a Hypothetical Library, where I list off the books I like and want. (Hint: My birthday is in October, if you need a gift idea!)

Modern North: Architecture on the Frozen Edge
My love affair with Scandinavian architecture began in my Environmental Building systems class. We were learning about daylighting, and designing a building so that it utilizes daylight well. We had one slide about how the countries in the far north have to design with extreme sun angles in mind, because they receive abundant amounts of daylight half the year and practically none for the other half.

This one little tidbit got me interested in sustainable and smart design, and it's part of the reason why I'm choosing Mount Rainier National Park as the location for my thesis this year. I want to explore the particular environmental situations of locations in the northern part of the world.

And the pictures in this book are great.

Organic Hobby Farming
I've grown a garden in my yard almost every year since I was 7. And I plan to continue this tradition for as long as I can bend over and pick weeds. And this book had a really cool "chapter by month" layout, where every month it told you what to plant, what to pick, which bugs to look out for, etc. Really neat!

Tiny House Living
This book is the reason I've been on my tiny house kick all week! I WANT IT. I want to start planning and designing and saving up for my tiny house like now. But I'm at least two years away from this project, so I need to cool my jets.

And finally, The Architecture of the Cocktail. Major cocktail drinks are drawn in the graphic standards of an architectural drawing, and the recipes are illustrated in section. It's a great funny gift for the designer/alcohol enthusiast in your life!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014


As I've spent my summer meeting new people and working full time, I've noticed that the things I enjoy are starting to change. The things I get excited about, the things I look forward to. I was stoked for WEEKS because I was starting a 401(k) plan (which, I now realize, was a bad move, I'm not making enough over my internship to keep the account once I leave the company- womp womp). I sit at my desk, dreaming about where I want to move when I graduate and which firm I want to work for. I have an excel spreadsheet saved on my desktop, full of firms and information about them.

I still love to quilt. I find joy in creativity (guess it's good I am going to be an architect!). And I'm starting to find new things I want to do to express that creativity.

I doubt you noticed, but I added a couple new blogs to my list of blogs I like- they're about tiny houses. I have been watching the tiny house movement for a while now, but I caught the bug over the weekend. There are so many things I like about a tiny house:

1. I'd get to design and build my own home
2. I'd get to move around and travel with everything I need on a trailer behind me
3. I wouldn't have to pay as many bills, especially if I make the tiny house self sufficient
4. It's a chance to live minimally, cut down on things that aren't necessary

Don't worry, I'll design a sewing nook into whatever tiny house I build. And hey, once I move out of my tiny house and into a normal house, I can use the tiny house as my quilt studio! IT'S THE BEST IDEA EVER.

Anyhoo, I'm still riding the high of a new idea, so I may not make much sense. But the point is, this blog will be getting an overhaul. I don't think I'll be focusing just on my sewing anymore. I want to share everything here- my projects at school, my travels, my ideas and obsessions, maybe even beer reviews. This blog is called "The Life of Couch" for a reason. It's about me and the many sides that I am made of.

I'm excited for the future. I'm excited to have a life of creativity ahead of me. And I'm excited to share it with anyone who wants to follow along!

P.S. I'm still going to blog about quilts.

Saturday, July 12, 2014


I went on an adventure today! I wanted to sew all day and knock out those baby quilts, but something in the air told me to go hang out with my friends and do something for myself.

I met up with some friends from school and we spent the day at the National Building Museum and in Old Town Alexandria. It was GREAT to catch up and hang out- we talked about our ideas and worries about thesis year, we went through the exhibits at the museum, we ate at the new Chipotle-chain Asian restaurant called Shop House (super delish, get the meatballs), and we read books in the museum gift shop.

There's a maze at the National Building Museum right now, designed by the famous architect Bjarke Ingles. The maze is designed to be built in a month, last for two, and is built in such a way that once you reach the center, you can see the maze walls around you, revealing the labyrinth you just escaped.

I also learned the difference between a maze and a labyrinth. A labyrinth is one winding path without dead ends that promotes the visitor to contemplate life and things. A maze is a convoluted path with tricks and dead ends that is not designed to promote contemplation, but instead frustration. And then leave you going, "UGH WHAT" when you finally find the end and you're like "what the hell was that walking around in dead ends for an hour for".

But I really liked this maze, it was very cool! It was pretty short, and not too difficult to get through, but that doesn't mean it wasn't fun. I was not unsatisfied or frustrated. And the tops of the maze were all sanded, so they were smooth to the touch. A nice detail that not many people notice. 


The walls rise up as you move to the edge of the maze.

There was an exhibit called "Designing for Disasters", which I found really interesting. It talked about hurricanes, tornadoes, wildfires, and floods, and how we need to design our homes and buildings to withstand and accommodate these disasters. It's something I'd love to explore in Architecture, coming up with solutions for these weather disasters that (I believe) are only going to get worse as we go into the future. 

I think this is a great time to be an architect. Our world is changing in so many ways- the climate is changing, storms are getting crazier, education in America needs reform... And I belong to a group of people that gets to come up with solutions to move our country forward into the future. IT'S SO COOL. I have the opportunity to fix problems. I have the opportunity to create beauty. I have the PRIVILEGE to design for America and the world. I am so excited. SO EXCITED.

On an unrelated-to-what-I-did-today but related-to-the-topic-of-this-blog note, I finally got to photograph the scrappy chevron quilt I made for Hanna!

Oh I am so happy with how it turned out.

I especially like the back. I threw together all the scraps I had.

Word to your mother.