Sunday, December 19, 2010

Latest Projects

This year I have opted to make quite a few gifts. Here are pictures of a few. The top picture is of a lap quilt/pillow set. Someone had sent me the center panels and pink fabric years ago (along with a pattern). I then purchased the required amount of rose print fabric to finish out the fabric requirements. Put the quilt together and then didn't like it. So it sat. Destined to become an eternal UFO....until this year when a last minute gift was needed. Turns out, the perfect backing fabric had materialized during the time this top sat dormant. It quilted up beautifully....and the extra panel was made into a matching pillow. Almost hated to part with it, but I know the recipient will adore the off to its new home it goes.
The second lap quilt/pillow set was a gift to a dear friend....who opened it early and simply adores it.  :>) This, too, has a story behind it. While it wasn't a languishing UFO, it was a project that was destined to become one. I had signed up for a Block of the Month at a local shop thinking I was going to be learning how to digitize blocks.....which I did. What I wasn't aware of was that I also signed up to make a "machine only" version of the same quilt. I was okay with this until I started putting the "machine only" version together. That's when I realized that I really wasn't all that crazy about the pattern and really didn't want to make two of it. By this time I had already stitched out a few of the blocks that I had digitized and had no desire to digitize or stitch out anymore. Wasn't real crazy about the idea of simply setting the blocks aside either. The only solution was to think of another project that I could use the blocks in.

Since the blocks were done using 1930's reproduction fabric, I decided to use set them together in to a mini sampler of sorts using pieced blocks that were authentic to this time period......hence the pieced blocks. A little time in EQ6....and I have a mini sampler. It did take a bit to put it together. My math left a bit to be desired.  :>) But once I figured out what I did wrong (and it was such a simple mistake) the quilt went together beautifully.. The pillows were done using overlapping back pieces (a first for me) and binding on the edges (another first for me). I was tickled with the way everything turned out......and so happy that it was well received.  :>)

The final picture is of a framed, quilted embroidery that I did for my father for Christmas. I was stumped as to what to give him this year. He's retired, loves to fish, and has a tendency to buy whatever it is he needs or wants when it comes to his fishing. Really hard to buy gifts for. So I decided to do a fishing embroidery for him. The embroidery is surrounded by a quilted border.....then finished up with a narrow green border. The piece was stitched-in-the-ditch around the embroidery and the narrow green border. The middle fish border was quilted using a cross-hatch. This is basically like a mini quilt with no binding. It was then framed. Turns out, this is my father's favorite gift. Guess I won't be short of ideas for  next year.  :>)

Wishing everyone and their families a very happy holiday season. May it be filled with lots of love, laughter, and joy!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

In Loving Memory

Feb. 21, 2000 - Nov. 27, 2010

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Fiber, Fiber, and More Fiber!!

That's what I have!! Fiber, fiber, and more fiber!! The fleeces that I had sent off to the mill returned.....and it is all absolutely beautiful!! I'm so tickled with the way everything turned out. I was so incredibly nervous sending off all that lovely fiber. It's been years since I have had anything done by a mill.

Back when I first started getting into Shetlands....and was slowly phasing out my Angora goats....I took my first shearing of Shetland into the local mill to be processed into pencil roving. I had taken in my mohair the year before to be done and it came out beautifully, so I didn't think twice about taking in my Shetland. Well, since my Shetlands were lambs....and I had some kids as well, I thought a blend of the two would be wonderful. Took everything in expecting to hear good things. I figured the owners of the mill would be thrilled to see that I was actually blending wool with the mohair. Not a lot was said...and I was okay with that. I thought it was wonderful that they were so busy (especially since they had opened up the year before). Few weeks later went back to pick up my finished fiber. The fiber looked great. Cost more than what I was expecting....especially since I only got back about half of what I had taken in. I thought "okay, they are local and you do what you have to do to support local." The thing I wasn't okay with was being told that unless I blended some other wool with my Shetland, they would not do it anymore. They also wouldn't do a Shetland/Mohair blend anymore. They had gotten in with the local alpaca breeders and decided that they were going to focus on alpaca only. I honestly couldn't believe that they would leave out so many local sheep breeders like that. I mean, if you expect the local fiber community to support you, then you should support them.....which they chose not to do. I did take fiber to them the following year....hoping that they had changed their way of thinking. I had taken in 40 pounds of polypay fleeces that I was hoping to have blended with the last of my mohair....but didn't. Ended up selling the mohair on its own. When I finally got the call to pick up my fiber, it was months later. And it wasn't worth the drive out. Out of 40 pounds of fiber, I only got back 17 pounds of roving. I was told that it was normal to lose at least 50% of what you took in....if not more. Of course the bill I had to pay didn't reflect that.  :.(  The worse part of it all was that when I started to actually spin up the roving I found wool of various colors in it.....and all the fleeces I had taken in were white. Needless to say I took the money that I normally would have spent at the local mill and bought a drum carder instead. Have been doing my own fiber ever since.....which is why I was nervous sending my fleeces in this year.

Of course I didn't send them to the local mill.....which I heard has since closed down. Seems the local alpaca breeders opted to not support them as they had hoped. Also heard that they had turned away quite a few of the larger local sheep breeders, who then took their business to mills outside the area. Tsk, tsk. Shame on them for not supporting all of the local fiber community. I know that I sent my fiber out of the area to be processed....even though I got an earful and some looks from a few local spinners. "You know, you should have your fiber done by this local lady. She picks all the fleeces by hand. Yes, there is still quite a bit of vm in the roving....but she does put tissue paper between all the layers."  I'm sure those that take their fiber to this local person to be done are happy with it, but if I wanted to pick out vm then I would simply do my fiber myself. And I won't even get into the tissue paper thing.

The fiber I got back from the mill was absolutely stunning!! I had sent in 22 pounds of fiber (Shetland fleeces and alpaca blankets) and got back 20 pounds of incredibly soft, incredibly clean roving. The Shetland fleeces were ran as they were packaged (although I was expecting it all to be done together) and the mill even put the names on the bags of whose fleece was done with whose....which thrilled me to no end. What really impressed me even more than that was the alpaca. I know how much my alpaca roll and what they roll in. The fiber I got back was amazing clean and so incredibly soft!! After I got done playing with it, I started spinning it. Spun up 10 ounces of alpaca roving. It spun like a dream!! Drafted evenly with very little effort. No dirty fingers. Very little vm. I think I picked out maybe six small pieces of vm out of the entire 10 ounces that I spun. The roving was soft going through my fingers. No icky feeling like some mill processed roving tends to get. No weird smell either. All the roving has this very pleasant, clean smell to it. It was actually hypnotic to spin. I had intended to only spin up 4 ounces...just to see how it spins. Ended up doing 10 ounces....and have a pattern picked out for the finished yarn.  :.)

As for the Shetland roving.....well, after playing with that for quite some time I have finally started spinning some of it up. I have started with the brown-gray roving (from Caspian and Charlie). Have to admit it's spinning up beautifully! The color of the singles is a bit surprising as they have almost a tweedy look to them. The singles are soft to the touch. The roving is drafting very nicely....very easily. It's a joy to spin. There are no neps or noils in the roving at all. The mill did an absolutely beautiful job processing it. (And I have seen Shetland roving that was filled with neps and noils....not a pretty sight!) I'm planning on spinning up only 4 ounces of each color of the Shetland roving. We'll see how that goes.  :.)

**Pictured top, light gray Shetland (from Angus and Boogie).....brown-gray Shetland (from Caspian and Charlie) Shetland (from Trixie and Q-Tip)......bobbin of alpaca singles.....alpaca roving (from Jack and Casa). And, yes, the alpaca roving photos as a reddish-brown, but the bobbin looks to be a darker brown. Same fiber. Different lighting. Still a joy to spin regardless of the color.**

Friday, October 22, 2010

"Fun" Socks named because the colorway of the roving I spun for the yarn used in these socks was called "Clown".....and I really don't want to call these my "clown socks".  :.)  Since they were so fun to knit......hence, the name. The cuff, heel, and toe was knit using my own  hand-spun, hand-dyed polypay yarn. The body of the sock was knit using the "clown" hand-spun yarn (which I'm guessing is just a generic wool).
I saw a sock pattern that I really liked but the pattern called for a heavier weight yarn than what I wanted to use. So I re-worked the pattern for the yarn and needles I wanted to use. I opted to make the cuff a bit longer than what the original pattern called for. The top of the sock is knit using a diamond lace pattern. While this is a really pretty pattern, unfortunately I didn't realize that the colorway of my yarn made it to where you really couldn't see the pattern until I was halfway done with the leg. I opted to continue instead of ripping back and using a different pattern. The instep of the sock was done using a K2,P2 rib instead of continuing with the diamond lace pattern.

I really like the way the socks turned out. The socks fit nicely (although they are a little loose on the leg where the lace pattern is). I think the cuff is my favorite part of the whole sock. I love the way it gently hugs my leg above the ankle....where I love wearing my socks at. The socks that hit mid-calf really bother me and I find that I tend to fold them down anyway. Just more comfortable for me. I don't have the "my socks are falling down" feeling.  :.)

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Tide Pool Quilt

 Here is the completed Tide Pool quilt. I'm real pleased with the way it turned out. Washed up beautifully, too. I kept the quilting simple. Serpentine stitch in the sashing.....echo quilting in the light parts of the blocks......a free motion wave motif in the inner border.....and a fun free-motion design in the outer border. Used a variety of variegated threads for the machine quilting....with the exception of the light colored areas in the blocks themselves. I didn't want the quilting to take center stage, so I used a thread to match. Kept it real subtle. The quilt was bound with the same fabric as was used for the inner border. Batiks was used for the entire quilt with the exception of the backing.....which was done using a rather "loud" yellow and orange floral print. Actually looks really pretty and goes real well with the front of the quilt. Another pleasant surprise.  :.)

"Pug Hugs" Pillow

I have a very good friend who has five pugs. We email each other quite often (sometimes several times a day) and once she signed her email "Pug Hugs"....being funny as she is.  :.) Well, I was trying to think of something that I could make for her for Christmas that was uniquely her when I came across a pug applique. Was tossing around ideas for how I could use this when I suddenly remembered her humorous sign off that one time...."Pug Hugs!" Hence, the birth of a new project.  :.) 

While I can't take credit for the original drawing of the pug itself, I did make a few simple changes to it so that it would be easier to digitize and stitch out on the embroidery machine. After the pug was digitized, I moved it into another module of my embroidery software where I then added the lettering. Pictured above is the end result. I had tons of fun playing around with the lettering and the positioning of the lettering.

I had toyed with the idea of making several blocks and putting them into a lap quilt.....but this just seemed better suited for a pillow. So I found some lovely paw print fabric which I used to frame the pillow center. I also used it for the pillow back and the binding. The pillow center was machine quilted using matching thread before the pillow was put together. I did a free motion loop-de-loop motif on it quilting in the names of all five pugs in the process. This was a really fun project to do. :.)

14" pillow

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Final Sampler Block

 Here it is! The final sampler block. This one took the most time to do, but was well worth all the effort in the end. It was done using fusible web machine applique with raw edge techniques. Took a bit to get all the pieces in just the right places. I had put the pattern under my background fabric to aid in placement of all the pieces. Not quite sure I like the way "Suspender Sam" turned out.......but it's going in the quilt anyway.  :.) Did the flowers using silk ribbon embroidery with beaded centers. Also did a bit of silk ribbon embroidery on Sue's bonnet. Did a simple decorative stitch on his hat with the machine. The 16-patch alternate blocks will have to wait until I get a few more Christmas gifts done. Hopefully this will become at least a finished top by the end of the year....if not sooner.

30's Sampler update

Over the last couple of days, I have managed to finish up the last five sampler blocks for this quilt. It was a bit challenging at how to do a block using fusible web machine applique when English paper piecing was suggested. Or there were those moments of indesicion. Do I do this by machine? Or by hand? Embroidery floss? Or silk ribbon embroidery?

 The first block pictured is the Foundation Rose. It was highly suggested to this block using English paper piecing. Well, I honestly had enough of English paper piecing (with using it for two other blocks) and decided that I wanted to do this block using fusible web machine applique. Have to confess the block came out much better than I had anticipated. The only thing I would do differently (if I had to make this block again) is to make templates for each piece and then use the templates when transferring my design to the fusible web. This would have made each piece more uniform which would have allowed the block to go together a bit easier. As it was, I had simply traced each piece from the pattern and then added a quarter inch seam allowance. It was the adding of the seam allowance that gave me a slight variance in the shapes of the various pieces. Thankfully it wasn't enough to cause too much grief when putting the block together.  :.)

The next block is the hollyhock wreath. Block went together easily and I really didn't change much.....although I did replace the fabric for the larger leaves. The kit came with only three fabrics. The two shown for the flowers....and green....which I used for the stems and smaller leaves. I felt it was too much green and wanted to use something a bit different for the leaves. Unfortunately I only had one shade of green in my 30's reproduction stash that played nicely with the solid green fabric. So the large leaves got the new fabric. I think it adds a little something to the block overall.

The next block is the Barbara Fritchie Star. I made changes to this one as well. Fabric changes. The kit for this block came with three fabrics.....background fabric, light fabric, and dark fabric. There was enough light fabric for the star itself....and only enough dark for the star center. I didn't want a light colored star. Felt there wouldn't be enough contrast against the background. So went into my 30's stash and came out with the purple that the star is done in. Used the light colored fabric that was in the kit for the star center. I'm real pleased with the way it turned out.

The last picture is of the 30's Butterfly block. I used all the fabrics that were in the one of my own. The detailing in the wings was done on my machine using a triple straight stitch. Gave a heavy of enough line of stitching to be visible, but not too heavey to be overpowering. Instead of stitching in the circles on the wings, I opted to applique them on....using a yellow print that came from my 30's stash. The antennae were drawn on with a fine pigma pen, then stitched over with a single line of straight stitching. I wanted to retain the delicate look the antennae had when drawn in with the pigma pen.

All the blocks, with the exception of the pieced block, were done using fusible web machine applique (and raw edge applique techniques). I tend to "window" every piece so there is very little fusible web in the quilt. Just enough to hold the pieces in place. As for the fifth, and final, block.....well, it is close to being done. Just needs a bit of beading and I will be able to call it complete. Picture coming soon.  :.)

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Project Updates

Time to take "inventory" of all the projects I am working on right now. Pictured is my latest quilt project. I finished the blocks up and have put them on my design wall with the sashing fabric behind them. I wanted to see how the colors would play together. Pretty nice, I think.  :.) I've also pulled out a blue/green hand-dye for the outer border and am toying with the idea of using either a dark blue or dark green hand-dye for the inner border.

For those that are interested, the pattern is Tide Pool by NWQuilt Design ( ). It is a continuous line applique pattern. Lots of fun to do. So what is your quilting project??

Onto knitting:  Current project is one from the book "Knitted Comfort for the Sole". I'm making the "Diamond Delight" socks. Although I did spend some time last night re-working the pattern so it will fit the yarn and needles I'm using. The yarn I'm using is one of my own handspuns and is a lighter weight than the yarn the pattern calls for. I've also opted to go with a K2, P2 cuff instead of the K1, P1 cuff the pattern uses. I just like the K2, P2 pattern better. So far it's looking good.....although I'm only ten rows into the cuff.

My previous sock project didn't work out so well though. I had attempted to make the "Movie Sock" from the book "Joy of Sox". Just didn't have the right combination of yarn, needles, or pattern for this one. I did get the first sock the point to where only the toe was left to do. Thought I would try it on to see how it looked only to find out that the sock was too big. Too big in the leg and foot. The heel flap was over an inch too long. Just not a good fit at all! So the sock was undone and the yarn reskeined. Someday the perfect pattern for this yarn (shetland/soy silk blend - mine) will come along. So, what's on your needles??

And, finally...spinning!! On my wheel is a lovely blend of gray shetland, black alpaca, and soy silk. It's spinning up into a lovely tweedy looking single that I'm hoping will finish out to about a fingering weight sock yarn. I would love to make my hubby a pair of socks from this lovely blend for Christmas. He asked for something made from fiber from our own animals....which this is with the exception of the soy silk (which I added to give the finished yarn a bit of strength). So what's on your wheel??

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Road to Oslo

This is my latest completed sock project. I've been wanting to knit these socks up for quite some time....and always had another project either in the works....or one that just had to be done first. I've even had the yarn sitting there waiting. Finally got the chance to knit them. Boy, they were fun!!!

The pattern can be found in "Knitting on the Road" by Nancy Bush. I used a hand-spun Targhee/Merino two-ply yarn. The lighter color is natural color...the darker I dyed. I did these on a size 3 circular (Hiya-Hiya 9" circular). For the most part I did follow the pattern. The changes I made were small. I didn't use a larger size needle on the cuff (per the pattern) simply because I didn't have one. And I didn't decrease from 54 sts to 48 sts (per the pattern) after the cuff was done because I wanted to make sure the completed sock would fit (which it does). Now, when I make another pair (which I will) the only other change I will make to the sock is to knit the leg portion just a touch longer. That, I think, will make the sock absolutely perfect.  :.)

This was a wonderful learning experience for me. With this sock, I learned how to do the picot edging on the cuff. I also learned how to knit a sock to where the inside of the cuff meets the outside of the sock leg. I got to practice doing colorwork.....which I simply adore, but don't do enough of. This simple sock has given me the confidence to tackle those more challenging (to me anyway) sock patterns.

Speaking of more challenging sock patterns.....remember the saying, "When at first you don't suceed, try, try, again." Well, that saying definitely applies to my current sock project. It has taken me three tries to finally get it right. I'm knitting up the "Movie Sock" from the book "Joy of Sox". I'm using a lovely hand-spun, two-ply pink Shetland/Soy Silk blend yarn (mine!) on size 1 circular (Hiya- Hiya....gotta love it, love it!). The yarn is knitting up beautifully. I can honestly say I got gauge both on sts/inch and rows/inch...which thrilled me beyond belief. Where I ran into problems was with the actual knitting.

On my first try, I couldn't figure out how to join the cast one edge with the live stitches. The sock has a picot cuff edging which the Oslo sock had as well. The only difference is that the Oslo sock had you hem it by hand. With this one you're not. Anyway, after several tries, I finally decided to simply stitch it in place and continue on. Things went well until I got into the first row of the bobble and lace pattern. Forgot to place markers after each pattern repeat (there are four around the sock) which meant that I ended up getting totally lost. Decided to simply start all over.

Try #2: Managed the picot edging just fine. Even figured out how to stitch the cast on stitches to the live stitches (like binding off without dropping stitches). Got to the bobble and lace pattern. Was real careful about counting stitches and placing a marker after each pattern repeat. The first few rows went well....and then I ran into a problem. No matter how much I counted or how carefully I followed the chart I kept coming up with an extra stitch. Kept telling my hubby that there was a mistake in the pattern. Then I noticed that somehow I had dropped a stitch in the eyelet row way up high in the cuff.....and things just got incredibly frustrating for me at that point. Ended up tearing it all out and looking for another, easier sock pattern to do. Didn't find anything that spoke to me, so I called it a night.

Try #3: Went onto the publishing site to see if there were any misprints in the book (can you tell this sock was screaming to be made). None were listed. So I decided to go onto Ravelry and see how others did with this same pattern. There I discovered that there is a mistake in the pattern.....which made me feel better. This meant that it wasn't all me. Went back, wrote the correction in my book, then cast on again. Have to say the sock is going much better. The cuff is done....looks great.....and I'm nearly finished with the first repeat of the bobble and lace pattern (this needs to be repeated two more times.....16 rows per repeat). I have all the stitches I'm supposed to have and things look good.  :.) I have to admit that these socks are fun to knit....once I got past all the frustration and mistake making that is. Oh, I almost forgot to add...on top of the knitting challenges, I was also using metal needles for the very first time. I normally prefer bamboo, but after having one of my Hiya-Hiya's snap in my hand (while I was knitting a sock) I decided to purchase metal needles instead. Still, things are going well and I'm adjusting to the metal needles.  :.)

I think I will end this post with a picture from the Buggy Barn show which was held a couple of weekends ago. It was a lovely show. Lots of amazing quilts to see. The highlight for me was meeting Cherly Wall, author of the book "Country Comforts"....and then getting to see the quilts from the book up close and personal. Her quilts were beautiful and she was so sweet!! The weather was perfect. Couldn't have asked for a better day.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Meet Harley...... ten week old miniature daschund. His color is chocolate and tan...with dapple markings. He has the most amazing in color.....and the sweetest personality. He is my little shadow.  :.) He gets along wonderfully with all the other dogs. Yes, I do have other dogs. Three to be precise.  :.) Never thought I would be one to have a houseful of dogs, but I do. The oldest one is a 10 year old miniature schnauzer, Joey, who sees the new addition as a huge relief. It means the other two will leave him alone. He prefers spending his days sleeping with as little activity as possible. He's been sick the last couple of years and we honestly don't know how much longer we will be blessed with him. He will turn 11 in February.

The golden retriever/mix (Rudy) is 8 years old and is fascinated by the new puppy. At first he thought it was this really great toy for him to play with....until he realized that it made noise he really didn't like hearing (whining). Now he simply tolerates it....or at least acts like he does. Heaven forbid if the puppy whines....Rudy will be the first one there to make sure he's okay.  :.)

Then there is Ratt. He's my hubby's dapple miniature daschund. He simply adores Harley, but can't wait until he is bigger so they can really play together. He's the youngest of the three older boys (little over a year and a half old) so he still loves to play. For him, Harley is a very welcomed addition. Now he finally has a playmate.....or at least he will once Harley is a little older and bigger.  :.) At the left is a picture of the two daschunds together. And, yes, Ratt's eyes are what is known as marled (two different colors in each eye) it's not the photo.

Well, enough about the newest four legged addition. Onto some crafty updates. As for spinning.....I have a lovely shetland lamb/baby camel/soy silk blend on the spinning wheel. It's spinning up beautifully! I'm hoping for a fingering weight yarn so I can make some socks from it. The soy silk should give the yarn the strength it needs for socks.

Spent the afternoon dyeing up some superwash roving I had purchased who knows when (it's been that long!). The roving is seconds...meaning the dye didn't take so it is splotchy in color. I don't mind this because I was planning on over-dyeing it anyway. Tried a new (to me) dyeing technique this afternoon. Dip dyeing. Basically, you have three or four different containers of dye set out and you dip parts of your roving in each color....being sure to squeeze out the excess dye before moving onto the next color. I have to admit that I really enjoyed this technique and will defintely do it again. I found this particular roving hard to dye because I simply couldn't get the dye to penetrate the roving all the way. And I would be left with light colored or undyed areas when I tried to hand-paint it. Didn't run into that problem with the dip dyeing. I don't have any photos of the newly dyed roving because it is still outside drying.

Onto knitting:  I finally finished my Karakul rug. Yea!! Thought I would never get this one done. I think it's the largest thing I have knitted to date. The completed rug measures something like 25" x 54". It is backed with a non-skid backing (which I found at Home Depot...and would be great for putting on the bottom of felted slippers) and now resides in front of my sliding glass door where it receives very light wear. One of the smaller dogs may lay on it from time to time....but that's pretty much it. Didn't have a pattern. Just did my own thing for the most part. The yarn is my own hand-spun. I remember picking out the fleece while it was still on the sheep, so this was a sheep-to-rug project.

Of course now that the rug is done I simply had to cast on for a new project.....socks!!!! :.) I have been wanting to make the Oslo socks in Nancy Bush's book "Knitting on the Road". Even had the yarn (hand-spun, of course) set aside and ready to go. I cast on last week. Sock #1 is completely done and I'm working on the leg of sock #2. These are knitting up rather quickly and are very enjoyable to do. I kinda wish my yarn was a bit more consistent, but it's still knitting up rather nicely. I have been making notes of what I would like to do when I knit another pair using this pattern.....which I will.  :.) Love the socks!!  :.)

Onto quilting:  I've actually been quilting up a storm lately. Tried some new-to-me techniques and have been really pleased with the end results. I put some orphan blocks together into a sampler lap quilt and am in the process of machine quilting it. Matching pillows were made with the two blocks that I didn't include in the lap quilt. Tried some new techniques when making the pillows and was pleasantly surprised.  :.) I actually did an over-lapping back on the pillow (first for me) and absolutely love it. Plus I put a binding on the pillow edge so there are no raw edges at all...inside or out. Really pleased with how finished the pillow looks. No pictures though. I will post pictures once the lap quilt is finished.

Started not one, but two new quilts. One is the "Tide Pool" quilt...pattern by Quilt Design Northwest ( I saw the pattern at a local quilt show I went to a couple of weeks ago and just had to have it. It's another new-to-me technique called "continuous line applique". Definitely worth going to the website and checking out. There is even a tutorial on the website on how to do continous line applique. All I can say is that it's easy and tons of fun to do. Oh...I'm doing my Tide Pool quilt all in batiks. The blocks are really pretty.  :.)

The other new quilt I started is an older BOM that I got who knows when. Instead of making each block as it came in, I simply put the kit up thinking I would get to it later. Well, fast forward to......later.....and I have finally pulled it out and am starting to put it together. The BOM is called "Beginning Baltimore" and is a Fig Tree design. I'm using raw edge applique techniques (new to me) for each block instead of hand applique like I had originally planned on doing. Block #1 is done and up on my small design wall. I really like the way it looks and can't wait to make more blocks. One thing at a time though.  :.)

Finally, news on my Pfaff Creative Vision. As you may recall (or not) I was having problems with how the machine stitched out....back in June. Well, I am pleased to say that after  almost 3 months I finally have my machine back. Or should I say my new machine. Yup. That's right. My Pfaff dealer couldn't get my old machine fixed and gave me a new one. My dh picked it up and brought it home yesterday. The Pfaff dealer even made sure it had all of the latest and greatest updates on it. So the new machine is now in my sewing table all ready for me to use....and all I've done so far is turn it on to adjust the sound settings to my liking. I know. I really need to use it and get acquainted with it. I have to confess that at first I was really upset that I was being given a new silly as that sounds. Hey, that was my machine....and it was a bit hard for me to wrap my head around getting a new one. Still is. But I really need to give this one a chance and get to know it. I'm sure it's a wonderful machine and I will have hours upon hours of stitching enjoyment with it. Heck, I even downloaded a pattern just so I can try it out. I'm going to make a dresden plate pillow. Might even put a small embroidery in the plate center....and I will definitely play with a few of those decorative stitches on the plate "blades".

As for the Wickersham quilt....which has been put on hold due to machine troubles.....well, I will continue with that once I'm comfortable with the new machine.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

30's Sampler update

Another three blocks have been completed for the 30's sampler BOM I am doing. Only five more blocks left before I can start putting it all together. I can hardly wait!! This has been a very fun BOM to do. I have learned so much....and am really pleased with the end results. It's always a good thing when you have fun and learn something new in the process.

With the umbrella block I got a chance to practice my invisible machine applique techniques. This one went together so much easier and nicer than my previous attempts. I'm still using freezer paper templates (haven't moved onto to the heat resistant template material yet...saving that for a project that has multiples of a single item, like leaves). I'm still placing the freezer paper template down on the wrong side of the fabric with the shiny (or waxy) side of the freezer paper up. I'm still clipping my curves when needed. The only thing I did different on this block was I painted the seam allowance with starch before ironing it over. Made for a much crisper seam without flattening the applique piece. I also learned that smaller seam allowances on curves work so much better. Learned this with the end of the umbrella handle. My seam allowance was way too large. It was closer to the normal 1/4" when it should have been half that least. While I was still able to turn the seam allowance over, it was just very hard to get those nice smooth curves I was looking for. There was just too much bulk and it took a lot of manipulation before I was happy with the end result. Yes, I could have gone back and trimmed, but decided it was best to work with what I had and not take the chance of cutting the seam allowance too much (which I probably would have done, knowing me).
I'm sure there is a name for this block, although I don't know it. The "pattern" simply called it Triangle Squares. This was a fun and easy block to piece. Went together quickly. There's really not much else to say about this one.

The final block I did was the flower block using the english paper piecing technique. This is a fun technique that I found very easy to do. Almost mindless really. Love the way all the pieces fit together.....kinda like a puzzle. The leaves were done using the same technique as I used for the umbrella. With this block and the umbrella block I chose to stich the applique to the background using a small buttonhole stitch and matching thread.

Update on other sewing projects:  I know some of you are following the progress on the digitized version of the Wickersham quilt that I'm doing. For those that are wondering how the project is coming along, here is an update. No, the project hasn't been put on the back burner. There has been an delay that is beyond my control. In other words, the machine has been at the shop since the 28th of June....waiting on the arrival of a part. So when I will see my machine is anyone's guess. I'm hoping by the end of the month. Yesterday I got a call letting me know that the part needed has been taken off of backorder and should be enroute. Exactly what does that mean? "It's in the mail".

On the positive side of things, I did manage to finish a two-year old UFO. Loved the fabrics and the pattern when I started. Ran into a slight glitch when I inadvertantly mis-sewed over 40 units. Frogged everything and tried again only to discover that I sewed them wrong yet again. That's when the whole thing got set aside never to see daylight until two years later. Came across it when I was looking for something else. Decided it was time to finish it. Frogged all those mis-sewn units and actually got them right. Started putting the quilt together only to discover that I really didn't like the way the fabrics were working together. Finished putting the quilt together just to have it done and out of the way. Used up all the leftover fabric for backing so I wouldn't have to worry about what to do with it at a later date. Did a simple 2" grid quilting on it using variegated thread and a serpentine stitch. The quilt is now being enjoyed by my in-laws who absolutely love it. And me.....I'm just glad it's done and out of here.  :>)

Mountain Cottage- front
Mountain Cottage - back

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Red Hat Tote

I had wanted to make something a little special for my mother's birthday. Her and my aunt are both active members of their local Red Hat what better gift than a custom-made Red Hat tote.  :>) After much searching I found the "perfect" fabric for it and just needed to find the "perfect" pattern. I was looking for the pattern when I spied this lovely sample tote hanging above a fabric display. Unfortunately when I asked for the pattern, I discovered that there wasn't one. It was a "panel tote"....meaning I had to purchase the panel in order to make the tote. So the panel was added to my growing pile of fabric.

Took everything home and sat down to make the "panel tote"....thinking it would be relatively easy. After all, how hard is it to cut out the pieces and sew them together. Turns out it wasn't nearly as easy as I thought it would be. Distinguishing the front and back pieces was easy. What was not easy was figuring out which strips were for the handle and which ones were for the bag gusset. Not a single thing was marked.....and the strips were all the same length. One set was a bit wider than the other set....that was the only difference. I ended up using the strips that should have been for the tote handles for the bag gusset instead. Didn't figure this out until the body of the bag was assembled and I was looking at the handles thinking "these are awful skinny!". Had a moment of panic before I realized that I had more than enough of the lining fabric left and this would make wonderful handles. Yes, I did line the bag.....and even included pockets on the inside (something the panel did not include).

The "panel tote" turned out to be a practice piece for the one I finally made for my mother. Although it's not as "fancy" as the practice piece, it did go together beautifully. I was smart enough to make patterns as I went so other totes can be made at a later date.....if needed or desired. The practice piece went to my oldest daughter who absolutely loves how large it is. She uses it on a daily basis. The Red Hat tote went to my mother who absolutely adores it.  :>) She can't wait to show it off to her Red Hat group and plans on using it on their next outing. Isn't it wonderful when things that don't start off the best end up turning out better than you could imagine??  :>)

Friday, July 9, 2010

30's Sampler

There are two things I really enjoy about quilting.....samplers and block of the months. To have the two combined is sheer joy for me. When I saw this quilt and learned that it was being offered as a block of the month.....well, I just couldn't refuse.  :>) Not only is it a sampler.....and done using 30's reproduction fabrics (which I adore!).....but it is a bom that is done at your own pace. Which means no waiting each month for a new block. Yea!! I've been picking up a new block every week and have been making the block the very next day. It's been great.  :>)

I have to confess that these blocks have been a bit challenging for me as well. I'm learning new techniques and have really been enjoying that. It's also nice knowing that I only have to make one block.....for those techniques that may not be the most enjoyable for me. One of the new things I learned was English Paper Piecing. I knew what it was. Was familiar with how it was done, but had never given it a try myself.....until the flower basket block. Not only did this block give me the chance to try my hand at English Paper Piecing, but I also got to try my hand at invisible machine applique.

EPP templates were included with the block. Little tiny ones (finished out at 1"). I opted to make my own out of freezer paper. I then ironed the seam allowance of each little piece to the waxy side of the freezer paper. Worked out great! I had pieces with wonderful stability to work with. Got to play with my Clover mini iron. And discovered that it was real easy to take the freezer paper out and still have the piece retain its shape. Used this method with the basket and leaves. A bit of glue stick helped the pieces stay in place on the block background and I was ready for invisible machine applique. I was a bit torn as to what thread to use. Should I use one that matches the applique fabric? Or should I use an invisible thread? I opted to use an invisible thread simply because it was my first attempt at this and I had wanted to try a couple of different stitches. The first stitch I tried was a small zig-zag. Worked out rather nicely. Then I tried a small blanket stitch. Also worked out rather nicely. As for preference? I really don't have one. Both worked nicely for what I was doing. Both were relatively "invisible" due to the thread I was using. The blanket stitch was a bit nicer in that it really help keep those leaf points nice....and worked beautifully on sharp inside points. I think it will all depend on what I'm stitching down as to which stitch I will use. It's nice knowing that I have options.  :>)

The bow-tie block was a new block for me. I had tons of fun with this one and was pleasantly surprised at how quickly and easily the smaller units went together. Not sure if I would do an entire quilt using this block due to all the small pieces (the completed block measures 10 1/2") but I am glad that I got to make one for the sampler.

The Wheel of Fortune block was another interesting adventure for me. This block used templates....which I had used before so that wasn't really anything new. The challenge with this block is that the block instructions consisted of one page with a 6" drawing of the block......and nothing else. Nothing saying how large the completed block should be. No templates. Nothing. I have to confess I did puzzle over this one for a night. Then it dawned on me. Why not simply look the block up in my Encyclopedia of Pieced Blocks.....find the block number......use this to locate the block in Block Base and then transfer it over to EQ7 where I can print out templates the size I need......which is exactly what I did. Had a completed block that afternoon.

Brickwork was a fun block to do. It was another block that I had never made before. Not really a very difficult block to do. The biggest challenge was making sure all the pieces were laid out in the right order....and stayed that way. The block consists of approximately 70 "bricks" that are 1 1/2" x 2 1/2" in size. This block measured 11 1/2" when completed. Today I will go and pick up my next block. Wonder what it will be??

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Stitcher's Garden....update (machine)

Pictured are the final blocks from this quilt. There were also a couple of "extra" blocks as well. These are done and up on the design wall with the rest of the blocks. I have started putting the top together and hope to have that finished by this weekend.  While this hasn't been the most enjoyable quilt I've made, at least it is being finished and won't end up as another UFO.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Stitcher's Garden....update (machine)

Here are the latest completed blocks for the "machine version" of the Stitcher's Garden. The idea behind this block of the month is to use different feet and to try different techniques with those different feet. Well, I must confess, I got bored with it all a few blocks into the program. It was fun using different decorative stitches for the machine applique. And at first I did enjoy seeing what could be done with the different feet........until I realized just how expensive things were getting (you were buying a new foot every month, unless you already had that particular foot)......and got to wondering if I would ever use these new feet beyond this one quilt. I think I bought about four new feet for my machine and haven't used a single one for anything beyond this quilt. The worst part is I'm starting to get bored with the quilt itself. I'm so focused on finishing the quilt now that I totally spaced out class on Tuesday.....which was a first for me. I've now set a goal of having the quilt top (at least) completely done by class next month. I know if I don't finish it soon, it will end up put away somewhere not to be seen by anyone for who knows how long. I really don't want that to happen, especially since my oldest would really love to have the quilt......with matching pillow cases.  Only a few more blocks to do before I can start assembling the quilt top.............