Wednesday, December 29, 2010
I haven’t knitted in a long time but my daughter overheard me tell a friend about the lovely yarns in a new yarn store that just opened in town. Guess what she put under the tree for me?
Is this what is called self-patterning yarn? It looks like I’ve put a great deal of effort into changing colours every half inch or so, but it just knit up that way straight from a single skein. This could be addictive! I’m also just tickled that this thing is actually starting to look like a sock. I’ve never tried socks before. I found this free pattern (“Wise Hilda’s Basic Ribbed Sock” by Kate Atherley) on Ravelry.com and so far the instructions have seemed straightforward.
Somehow, I remember socks knitting up faster when my grandmothers knit them. That partial sock is the result of about 10 hours of obsessed knitting! Also, Wise Hilda claims this pattern is “more interesting…than a plain sock but not so interesting that you have to pay attention”. Well, ummm, I guess that would be for the more experienced knitters! I’ve needed to pay plenty of attention, and have had to unravel when I didn’t!
I’ll be back to quilting soon. Santa’s helper gave me a new book about machine quilting, my current challenge, so once the socks are finished I’ll be making up a tall stack of practice quilt sandwiches. But right now, that yarn is calling again…
Tuesday, December 21, 2010
The last little while has been filled with Christmas preparations. Last week I spent a lot of time in the kitchen baking up all our Christmas favourites.
Starting at the top we have fruitcake. Go ahead and make the obligatory fruitcake jokes but the extended family loves this recipe and just this year my son acquired a taste for it too. The gingerbread cookies need decorating still. The first batch was mostly given away and now I need to sit the kids down with icing and candies to embellish this batch. They’re still tasty though. In the middle are my hubby’s shortbread cookies. I love to bake but I can’t make shortbread like he can so I’ve been waiting for the baking mood to strike him. He finally obliged on Sunday night and these are the best ever. Beneath the shortbread are frosted orange cookies. Mom found this recipe in a newspaper back in the early 70’s and I cannot remember a Christmas without these. Christmas just wouldn’t be the same! That last little cookie, a maple log, is a recent addition to the Holiday lineup but a popular one. The one on this plate is the only one left.
There was also a batch of caramel corn in pretty little packages but I neglected to take a picture before they were given away. I also didn’t get much of a chance to indulge in it. I’ll just have to make another batch soon. Maybe for New Year’s.
Tree trimming was later than usual this year. The kids asked to wait until they were out of school for Christmas vacation, so we waited until this past Friday afternoon. I set up the tree and brought up the bins of decorations before they came home from school, hubby came home early and we spent the rest of the day and early evening decking the halls.
It is becoming a challenge to fit all our ornaments on the tree. When my husband and I were first married, we had a little 2 foot tall tree and about a dozen ornaments that were carried over from my childhood trees. It needed work, so every year we made something new to add to the collection. We graduated to a 6 foot tree so needed to keep adding. Of course a when the kids came along they started contributing creations. Soon adding new ornaments became less a necessity and more a tradition. I’ve recently suggested that we could either stop adding or start removing a few to make way for the new but that was met with resistance, so this is what our now 7-foot tree looks like:
This is not a decorator’s dream by any stretch, but it’s exactly how we like it. I’d say except for the lights (which are hard to see in this daylight picture) and the coloured balls, 95% of the ornaments are homemade by me or the kids, and/or have a story attached. In fact, I think even the three oldest boxes of coloured balls have a story attached. Part of the reason it takes hours to decorate this tree is that stories of the Christmas we made this one or that one get trotted out and that slows down the decorating process. It’s a fun tradition though.
Here are some of my favourite ornaments. Some are by me (one of them circa 1976), some by the kids, some by us together.
Tuesday, December 7, 2010
However, we do let a few Christmassy things sneak in, a few at a time, earlier than the tree. This past weekend we took advantage of a milder day to deck out the front step railing with greenery and bows without freezing our fingers. I added a poinsettia to the coffee table. Our first Christmas card arrived yesterday so the garland we attach the cards to every year will make an appearance shortly.
I've encountered this kind of frustration with pre-cuts before. Am I alone in this? I suppose the advantage of these bundles is that it gives you a little bit of a lot of different fabrics to play with, but I don't think it really cuts down on the cutting chore.
Anyway, it's done now and today I'm going to take a deep breath and try my hand at freemotion quilting again. Wish me luck!
Friday, December 3, 2010
Tuesday, November 30, 2010
The quilt still has to be bound but I'm pressing the binding strip now and will have it sewn to the front by the time I head to bed. I won't obsess and stay up till the wee hours to hand stitch it to the back, though it is tempting! If all goes well I'll be able to spread it on her bed while she sleeps tomorrow night so she sees it the next morning. December 1st is not too far of the mark!
Sorry, no pictures today. I've got to run back to the ironing board!
Wednesday, November 3, 2010
I was hoping to show my daughter's new quilt in this fall's Blogger's Quilt Festival. (Thank you for organising this Amy!) The quilt was supposed to be done by the end of October, then by the end of this week...Well, I'm still stitching away at that one, so I'll share the quilt I made for my parents a few years ago.
The quilt started with the nine patches in the center. They are the first blocks I pieced - ever. This is where I learned that a small variation from a 1/4 inch seam results in a block that is not the size you expected. I wasn't sure how to fit these into any pattern I had since they weren't a convenient 6 inches square, so I tucked them away in a box for 3 or 4 years.
Saturday, October 9, 2010
Because I was getting bored quilting the same thing over and over I went ahead and started working on the outer border adjacent to quilted blocks. I leafed through a lot of books and thumbed through my idea files for inspiration then took out a compass and paper and came up with a template for this.
Sure enough, the hearts in the border were just too much for her. Not that she said so. She just looked and looked, smiled a wobbly smile and disappeared. I found her crying in her room. She finally admitted that she thought it would "take a long time to get used to" but she hadn't wanted to hurt my feelings.
Maybe by the time I finish quilting all the curves the hearts will have grown on my daughter and I can use the hearts to fill that gap after all.
After working on just this for the last few weeks, I'm feeling the need to piece something and use different colours, so I sat down with pencil and paper yesterday to figure out if I had enough of this
The fabric is a Northwoods Botanicals by Holly Taylor layer cake that I won in Thelma's giveway a while back. The pattern is Scrappy Prairie Queen from "Creative Scraps: Quilting with Bits and Pieces" by House of White Birches.
Reworked to use 12 12-inch blocks instead of 20 15-inch ones it will be a throw size quilt mostly made with my layer cake. I'll just need a little bit of light fabric for the inner border and something for an outer border. This can be my Christmas quilt if I get it made in time. I know I'll have it pieced but I'm not sure I'll have the quilting done. Ah well, if not this Christmas, there's still the next one!
Monday, September 20, 2010
Sunday, September 19, 2010
MINE! The family room stuff has been relocated to the north end of the L-shaped room, and I've expanded my playroom into the bright sunny half. After all, who needs all that bright sunlight to watch TV? And there are plenty of couch and chair options upstairs if anyone wants to read by daylight.
To celebrate, I've been playing with this in my playroom.
You may notice my blue stash has been replenished :)
I just couldn't hold to my resolve to not start anything new until my daughter's quilt is quilted. I hadn't pieced anything in two months and I was going into serious withdrawal. However I did make sure that the new project was something for the patient daughter. She's thrilled with it, so I don't feel too guilty. It's a small project and the top should be done soon. I'll post pictures then.
Thursday, September 9, 2010
In the meantime I'm concentrating on my daughter's quilt. She has been very patient waiting for it while I got sidetracked with various other projects, so I have promised myself not to start anything new until hers is finished.
Tuesday, September 7, 2010
Wednesday, August 18, 2010
The butterfly quilt was her wedding gift to us. It is hanquilted, and I check the stiches on it occasionally to see if I'm getting my stitches on my quilts as even as hers. I'm sure you noticed the prairie points too. I measured those to give me a place to start when I was auditioning point sizes for my leaf quit.
The quilt below was a gift for my son when he was born. It arrived complete with the first place ribbon it won at the Stanley Fair. I love the brown border. It wouldn't have occurred to me to use such a colour for a baby quilt but it frames "Goldilocks and the Three Bears" perfectly.
I also have my husbands baby quilt that Aunt Ruth and Aunt Beth worked on together, but I haven't figured out how to photograph it properly. It is a handquilted whole cloth reversible quilt, pink on one side, blue on the other, with alternating pink and blue prairie points. I haven't gotten the lighting right to get the quilting to show, but it's a wonderful quilt.
Thank you Aunt Ruth! I'm off to quilt on my daughter's quilt now, striving for even stitches just like yours!
Wednesday, August 11, 2010
I cut out paper squares of various sizes and folded them to audition sizes, then cut 86 4-inch squares out of 14 fabrics leftover from making the leaves. The squares are folded twice on the diagonal to make tidy little triangles.
Next, thunderstorms came rolling through again. It was the 3rd night in a row, and they go on for hours, and after 7 years in the Midwest they still wake me up. I'm getting a bit cranky from reduced sleep... Anyway, I didn't want to leave my machine plugged in during the storms so the points didn't actually get sewn to the quilt. They got picked up and put away so the kids could curl up down here if the storms turned severe.
For those of you not in the Midwest, severe refers to damaging winds and/or hail. Last night's storms weren't "severe" but coupled with the previous two nights of heavy rainfall they caused two rivers to overflow their banks and cause record flooding in parts of town. Happily we're OK where we are, though currently we have no running water (the kids looked at me very srangely when I told them not to flush the toilets...)
So easy cooking tonight - sandwiches and whatever doesn't create dishes to wash :) And as long as the power stays on to keep the A/C running to keep the heat at bay (105 F/41 C with the humidity factored in) I can keep quilting. There aren't supposed to be any storms tonight...
Saturday, August 7, 2010
Wednesday, July 28, 2010
Traditional Hawaiian quilts have a single large, symmetric and often complex appliqued piece on a plain background, and they are densely echo quilted. If you've never seen any look at this site for examples. It has step by step photos showing how a gorgeous Hawaiian quilt was created.
This quilt is small (the top is about18 inches square) as well as simple, with mostly broad curves and few Vs, yet I worked for months, a tiny bit at a time and still didn't finish. We moved in August 1996, I discovered cross-stitch and crocheted snowflakes for the Christmas tree and the Hawaiian pillow-that-wasn't found a home in the bottom of the craft chest because let's face it, I'd never get it done
Fast forward to last week. I needed some handwork to do while sitting waiting while the kids had their swimming lessons. In desperation I dug to the bottom of the chest and pulled out my old nemesis. I was surprised to see that it was almost 2/3 finished. I was even more surprised to find that after avoiding applique like the plague, because it was so frustrating and time consuming, I finished that last third in three mornings by the pool. Hmm, I seem to have acquired more skill with a needle in the last 14 or so years. The last third wasn't only much faster than the previous two, it is also much smoother. Maybe applique won't ever be my favourite quilt to make, but perhaps I won't run the other way anymore :).
I still have to sandwich and quilt this little piece, but it will wait until I've finished quilting my daughter's quilt. The quilting is the fun part anyway, so I'm considering this almost off the UFO list. Maybe I need two lists...".UFO" and "Almost not"...