29 May 2013

Prepping for Korea Part 2: Science!

Cue lightning and evil laugh...

For basically the whole month of May I have been working like crazy. I've pretty much either been in the lab or asleep. Though I might as well sleep in the lab since I think I've been dreaming about lab work. Sleeping in the lab also would have prevented me from getting locked out when they re-keyed my entire building in one day without warning anyone. But that's a different story.

So what have I been up to at all hours of the day and night? Why, making nanoparticles of course! This should not have been a big deal since I make particles all the time (at least 70% of my research is on nanoparticle fabrication directly and everything else I do depends on the NPs). It shouldn't have been a problem, except of course that for the last 2 years I have been focusing all my energy on making smaller and smaller particles and now, all of a sudden, our collaborator wants bigger particles. Like, way bigger than anything I have ever made before (she wants micron but will settle for 500 nm and my most recent breakthrough resulted in 40-80 nm particles). And so, mad scrambling ensued.

So far I have had mild to moderate success with the big ones: there are particles, but there is also a lot of junk

As a back-up, I wanted to make more of the same size particles that I had sent to Korea in December. My go-to size, if you will. I generally consider making these a non-issue, all it takes is a little time. Naturally, my synthesis chose this moment to go haywire. The particles are not the same size as they were previously (usually 150-200 nm with some smaller and now ~100 nm, WTF?) and they were clumping together like nobody's business. Let's just say I was not a happy camper.

Not perfect, but usable
Complete Crapola

I have more or less given up on the back-up plan and am only doing Plan A: big particles or bust from here on out. I only have like 4.5 days left anyway so I might as well focus on just one thing at this point. Hopefully everything will start working again soon and I won't show up in Korea empty-handed.

*** No research time was wasted in the making of this post ***

10 May 2013

Spring Fever Baby Quilt Complete!

Not so long ago I got a mini charm pack that I had no idea what to do with. Then I found out that an acquaintance of mine was having a baby girl in July and I knew the squares had found their purpose. After finding their purpose, the squares were then promptly forgotten as I got all into the Texas Teardrops QAL.

A few weeks ago I got invited to the baby shower and freaked out! The baby may not be here until July but I kind of forgot that baby showers happen before babies. This particular shower is on May 11 (yes, that is tomorrow...) which was not all that much time considering all the other things I needed to get done.

Enter rapid panicked baby quilt making mode!

Pattern: nine patches, 4 patches on point, and a ticker tape-esque panel
Fabric: Spring Fever by Me and My Sister Designs for Moda mini charm pack, solid pink sashing/border, and scraps from Little Peeks for the top. The back is purple swirls and I used a striped fabric called candy or something like that from Connecting Threads for the binding.
Quilting: I got le super lazy pants with this one and just did an all over stipple with variegated pink thread (also left over from Little Peeks). I also embroidered the baby's name in the center with the same thread.
New stuff: ticker tape, stripes for binding, and embroidery

Not too shabby in the stippling department

I am quite pleased with the results of my speed quilting. I also finally figured out the secret for no eyelashes on my stipples: crank up the tension and floor it! This may not be the best method but it worked perfectly for me so I'm going to go with it. The flooring it method is also nice because then the quilting goes super fast! I quilted and bound in about 2 hours Tuesday night.

08 May 2013

One Leaps Ahead and Another Falls Behind

I have made great progress recently on one of my Texas Teardrop QAL tops and absolutely no progress on the other. I thought I was going to fall behind in the appliqué stage and I kind of have but not entirely, which is a relief.

I have not yet appliquéd any of the brights on white teardrops, but I have finished appliquéing, trimming, and putting together the blocks for the neutral version.

My first appliqué!
 I also put together the pieces for the border. I'm going to put a thin solid border between the top and the pieced border and another one on the outside before the binding. I have the inner and outer border fabrics, but I haven't yet gotten backing or binding. I do have to do a little unsewing and lining up for the border but I am pretty happy with the plan. I don't know yet what I'm going to do for the quilting.

All together and pinned to the wall

Check out WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced

01 May 2013

Freezer Paper and Sea Creatures

I have mostly been working on my QAL lately, but I have made a little progress on quilting my blue ocean DNP sampler.

This is my super secret freezer paper template quilting method which has given me very nice results every time I've used it. It even looks good if you don't follow the lines exactly. The only downside for this particular usage is that I sew the freezer paper so it's not reusable and I have to pick out little bits of paper when I'm done.

It is kind of a pain

Picking out freezer paper stinks, but there is basically no other way to achieve such intricate designs (at least for me). Also, I thought about the paper picking beforehand and purposely used much smaller stitches than I usually do with FMQ to make the ripping easier. So far, I've done half of the planned freezer paper sea creatures. They take about an hour to sew and remove the paper which is not too bad but I really haven't had the time recently. As soon as I can finish the quilting I want to start using this baby so I already put the binding on and have sewn about 1/3 of it down.

Loki has been quite helpful in this process ^_^