Showing posts from 2010

Quilting temporarily on hold…

…while I indulge in a different obsession!

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 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…

Ready for Christmas

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 map…

Christmas decor creeping in

We are of that odd breed that doesn't trim the Christmas tree right after Thanksgiving.  December 1st doesn't turn the switch on either.  Usually the tree goes up the 3rd week of Advent, 2 weekends before Christmas Day, but then it stays up till after January 1st so we can enjoy the Christmas cheer through the kids' "winter holiday".

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.

And I've been playing with a Christmas fabric honey bun. It would have come together even more quickly if I'd trimmed units earlier in the process.  I haven't used pre-cuts very often, and I forgot that they aren't exactly…

Now Showing: "Heart Mania"

Since I'm hopelessly unoriginal at naming quilts I'm warming to the idea of having the recipient name their quilt.  It worked for my husband's quilt.  My daughter came up with "Heart Mania" for her quilt.  Here it is, finally!

 The 6" heart blocks are the "Heartfelt" paper piecing pattern by Cindi Edgerton. The setting, with 3" borders on two sides of each block, is mine. The cable quilting motif in the middle part of the quilt is "Avalon" from Quiltmaker's "Quilting Motifs Volume 1". The motif on the outside border is mine.
I finished sewing the binding to the back around 1 am on Tuesday.  I should have stopped earlier and finished on Wednesday, but I was so close to being done it was hard to quit.   It was even harder to get up on time and get the kids' lunches packed and everyone off to school on time in the morning!   However I got an "extra squeezy" hug from my daughter after she woke up and found herse…

Almost made my deadline

I almost made my self-imposed deadline for finishing my daughter's quilt.  Of course, the deadline kept shifting, from the end of September, to the end of October, to the end of November.  I'm going to claim qualified success with that last one.  I finished quilting the last little bit of border this afternoon around 4:30 pm and today is the last day of November. :)

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!

Bloggers Quilt Festival in red and white

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.

This was the fourth quilt I made and was my very first attempt at making a quilt without a pattern.  Looking at it now there are things I would do differently to balance the design a bit more and to even out the density of quilting, but as a first design effort I think it is quite respectable.
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…

Thinking ahead...

Time in my sewing room skipped right past Halloween to Christmas.  I have never pieced a quilt top this quickly before. On Friday morning I cut into my Northwoods Botanicals ayer cake.  By Saturday evening I had the center of my quilt all pieced.  Today I stitched up the pieced border and had to stop for lack of just the right fabric for an inner border.  Here's the quilt so far as it looks on the design wall.  I need a creamy/gold fabric for that inner border.  I had planned a red outer border after the pieced border but looking at it at this stage I think I'll leave well enough alone and stop at the pieced border.
It didn't come out quite as I had pictured in my mind, as the lights were just a bit darker and more varied than I thought once they were all cut up and jumbled together.  However, overnight Friday I threw out the mental picture and was more than happy to keep working on my Christmas quilt on and off between chores on Saturday.
I can't believe how quickly thi…

Still slowly stitching...

When I talked to Mom on the phone this week she commented that she hadn't seen a new post on my blog so she assumed I'd been busy with other things.  That's partly true, but mostly I just haven't had much new to show.  I'm still stitching away on the hearts quilt. Did I mention I'm a slow quilter?  I've made progress though.  I now have 32 of the 48 blocks quilted.  That's two thirds.  Yay!

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.

 When I took it out of my lap frame the first night I worked on it I had a few misgivings about my choice.  I thought it was perhaps a little too girly sweet for my daughter's taste.  All I could see were heart flowers with big tulip-like leaves, which hadn't jump…

Playing with blues

Here's what I was playing with the last couple of days.

It's 16"x20".  The resident dolls Susie, Curly and Elizabeth will be sharing it once it is quilted, though there is a rumour that the vast collection of stuffed animals may challenge them for it.

I'm happy to report that this didn't make a huge dent in my new blue stash.  All it took was a 1.5"x10" piece of each blue and one fat quarter of the white, so I have plenty left to make a throw size version, with more and bigger stars now that I'm satisfied that the pattern looks like I thought it would.
I started thinking about this one shortly after I made this little Kansas Dugout. The more I looked at it the more I could see stars where the rings meet, and I thought that careful colour placement would make an interesting star quilt.
I never did finish the Dugout quilt.  I was going to make it into a doll quilt and practice free motion on it.  Unfortunately, because it was a practice piece I sandwi…

New playroom

 This was the scene downstairs in my house about 5 years ago.  Playroom all the way.  In the intervening years the playroom slowly morphed into a family room with futon, bean bag chairs and TV.  This month it underwent a huge face lift...back to a playroom again.

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&…

Hearts quilt quilting

I'm much less grumpy today, I promise.  I went in to the shop about my machine, and their machine guru will sit down with me next week to see just what the problem is that is causing skipped stitches and broken thread or poor tension when I freemotion.  They kept it for service when I brought it in in August and gave it back having found no issues, so now we'll have to see if it misbehaves when the techs are watching...  If it's something I am doing wrong, that's fine too, as long as someone can tell me so so I can start doing it right!

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.

The top photo shows the colours better, but the rest show the quilting better.  I guess I need to get up earlier to catch that early morning light before the morning running around starts,  getting break…

Getting the grumpies out

I just spent a frustrating afternoon and evening almost swearing at my sewing machine.  If the kids hadn't been right there I might not have been able to say "almost".  As it is both of them gave me a wide berth and headed for bedtime routines without being asked...  So, I'm going to post about things happy and completely different to get myself back into a better mood.  Maybe if that works I can ask you all for advice without launching into a long rant!

First Happy Thought:  thank you to Thelma at Cupcakes'n Daisies.  I won this lovely layer cake and honeybun in one of her blog anniversary giveaways.  The layer cake is Northwood Botanicals by Holly Taylor and the honeybun is Crazy 8 by Sandy Gervais.  I usually don't buy a lot of fabrics in any one collection, so making something up with these will be a fun change of pace.  I'm not sure what, though I'm thinking "Christmas".

Second Happy Thought:  thanks to Ann at A Good Yarn for a win on her…

Aunt Ruth's quilts

My husband's  Great-Aunt Ruth was a prolific quilter until her eyesight gave out.  I haven't had the opportunity to get to know her personally, since we have never lived close by, but I do have some of her quilts to admire.  I thought you might appreciate a peek at her work.

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, bu…

Prairie points

I started making prairie points for this quilt top that has been waiting its turn for about  a year now. 

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 I started to lay them out along the edge of the quilt.

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 …

The package is in the mail...

Mom,  your runner and placemats are almost in the mail!  They're in a box and addressed and everything short of being actually in the post office's custody.  Monday, I promise!

My oldest UFO

At Christmas 1995, before I ever quilted anything or even sewed anything more than a loose button, I used a gift certificate to buy the kit for this:

It was a kit for a Hawaiian quilt pillow (and yes, I liked blue back then too!).  It included the background fabric, the pre-cut applique shape, batting, backing, and fabrics for a pillow back and for binding.  Oh, and one short instruction sheet that I now know leaves a lot to be desired.

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…

Don't Panic!

Presenting Don't Panic, the quilt formerly known as Astro Quilt.  You may recall this one is for my astronomer husband.  Since I have no imagination at all when it comes to naming my quilts, he was charged with naming it himself before he could take possession of it.  He came up with a few obscure astronomical terms but decided it was a fun quilt and deserved a whimsical name.  Split Infinitive was a contender (a rather geeky reference to Star Trek, ask me if you want to know more), but last night after I finished binding the quilt "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" came up in conversation and the catch phrase "Don't panic" won out.  It seems appropriate, since I had a few early setbacks working on this one, and hubby can always go hide under it when grant proposals or whatever other work stresses pile up.
I had planned to finish this one quickly by tying it, but decided to hand quilt it instead.  The whole  background is quilted with patterns like y…