Monday, October 24, 2011

Hawaiian Quilt Class

 I thought I would share how my online quilt class is going. Lesson Two opened on Friday. It's all about putting your applique design down on your background fabric. I'm not quite there yet. I'm still working on Lesson One....the designing part. Good thing it's a work at your own pace type of class.   :<) Some of the other students in the class have already cut their designs out and have it put down on their background fabrics. Wow! There are some really pretty quilts in the making! If I have my design in fabric by the end of the five week class I will be very happy.  :<)

This first picture is of my fabric choice. The dark fabric is for my applique....the lighter for the background. I'm doing a full/double size quilt....or at least that is what I hope to be making if I can ever get through the designing part.

The next picture is of my basic design. It is about a quarter of the size of what the final design will be. Rough cut circles were used instead of the actual flowers. This was done pretty much to see how things looked together and how happy I was with placement. 

The last picture is of my design. This one is about half the size of what the final design will be. The flowers were added....and some changes were made. Again, it was done to see how things looked together...and how I like the placement of the different elements. I really like the way this one looks....although the different elements are just a touch too close together. If I was going to make this I would go back and scale things down a bit so that there was more space between the various elements. Since it is just another "mock up" of sorts there was no need to bother with any of that.

Yesterday afternoon was spent working on the full scale version of my design. Spent some time enlarging and copying so that I ended up with about four different sizes of flowers and buds to work with. Wanted to make sure that my flowers were at a size that looked good in the space they would be in. Since this is a full size pattern I'm only working with one quarter of it...instead of the entire design like I did with the "mock ups" I did earlier. The design is all drawn up and I started working on adding seam allowance. Once all the seam allowance is added I will be able to cut the pattern out and finally put it to fabric. Of course I plan on taking a picture of it first...printing it out four times.....and laying all those together to make sure that I'm truly  happy with the final design. It would be a tragedy to cut out the fabric only to discover that there is something about the design that I'm just not happy with. I would rather spend more time with the eraser.

The class, over all, has been absolutely wonderful!! I have learned so much!! And I have learned exactly what I had always wanted to to *design* my own Hawaiian quilt. The rest of the class will be on applique, layering, basting, quilting, and finishing the quilt. I will follow along but it's not quite as important as this first part was. I mean, I have already made an Hawaiian quilt....a small one.....and I have another one in progress (more of a sampler of Hawaiian quilt blocks) I know the basics. Plus I've been doing needle-turn applique for years. For me the important part of this class was the design part. I won't say that I won't learn anything else from this class because I doubt that will hold true. I've found that there is always something new to learn as long as you have an open mind. It doesn't matter how well you do something or how much you think you know about it. There is always something new to be learned.....even if it's a small thing, like an easier way to thread a needle. So I look forward to the next few weeks of class and wonder what new things I will learn.  :<)

Update on the civil war quilt:  Section three is still up on the design wall waiting to be finished. It kinda got put on hold with the quilt class....which is understandable. There is still time left in the month to have it finished by month's end....the top anyway.  :<)

Spinning update:  Still been squeezing in some spinning time each day even with the pleasant distraction of class.  I've acquired a fascination with spinning lace weight yarn these days. Could have something to do with the Estonian lace piece I am currently knitting.  :<) I finished spinning up a couple of shetland/alpaca batts and was so tickled with how fine the singles were that I decided to pull out some yak down that's been collecting dust in the fiber room. I thought it would be fun to spin that into a lace weight yarn. Not so much. It is coming along. Not as fine as I was hoping for...and not as fun to spin either. The staple length is soooooo short!! I really have to pay attention and inch-worm my way along. Guess I've gotten so used to spinning without really having to think about it that I'm finding this a bit say the least. I ended up walking away from my wheel yesterday when I found myself getting frustrated because I simply could not keep my singles as consistent and as fine as I was wanting to. Now I should probably say that spinning a fine single is not something I can do easily. I really have to focus on it. My comfort weight is a dk or sport weight yarn. So I'm not going for a cobweb lace weight yarn. A nice fingering weight would be lovely. Something about 20 wpi. That's what I'm knitting with right now and while the lace piece I'm working on won't be able to fit through a wedding ring, it is something I will be very happy with when it's done. Besides it would be nice to add a few skeins of finer yarn to my yarn baskets. I have a nice selection of dk, sport, and worsted weight yarns right now.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Something To Smile About.....

....and that's exactly what I'm doing....smiling!! Just like Casa.   :<) Why are we both smiling? Well, today I found out that my blog has been featured in the Best of the Web over at . Take a look!!  It's exciting!! My blog is being featured. Yea!! And here I thought all that I was sharing was simply disappearing out in cyber space somewhere. Hard to believe that I have readers.  It is truly a very humbling experience. Thank you, CraftCorners, for featuring my blog on your wonderful site. What wonderful inspiration to keep on going no matter how wrong a project may go.  :<)

Friday, October 14, 2011

Fibery Pursuits

 We've had quite a few rainy days lately. Not just rainy days. But those cool, rainy days when there's a chill that only a nice fire in the woodstove will chase away. Those days are absolutely perfect for spinning, knitting, and quilting....which is exactly what I've been doing.

Pictured is a few of my latest creations. The first picture is of a fulled hedgehog. He was knitted using a hand-spun, hand-dyed polypay yarn...and Erda tweed eyelash yarn. He stands 9" tall and is about 22" around at his widest point. He has button eyes and a nose that was needle-felted using chocolate brown Suri Alpaca fiber. When you press his tummy, he plays a lovely little diddy. Wish I knew the name of the tune. Unfortunately when I purchased a group of those musical buttons, there were a few that weren't labeled. And this just happens to be one of those "mystery buttons". Still, it seems to fit him.  :<)  The pattern for this little guy is from FiberTrends. This happens to be one of my favorite patterns to knit. I love all the short row shaping. I find it very relaxing. I have made about a half dozen of these. Most of them were given away as gifts. I kept my very first one. This little guy is available for purchase at my etsy shop. (Was that a shameless plug or what!!)

Another great thing to do on those chilly wet days is to spin....which I've been doing a lot of. Pictured here is a skein of hand-spun, hand-dyed superwash 2-ply yarn.  I have to confess that I wasn't real happy with the way the roving had dyed up. Wasn't real pretty at all. But the yarn...Wow!! The yarn was a very pleasant surprise.

The pink/red skein pictured is also superwash. And, it too, was another rather disappointing dye job. I had pictured the roving coming out with reds and pinks transitioning softly from one shade to the next. Not the case. When the newly dyed roving finally dried it looked like it was a nearly solid red with not the slightest hint of pink anywhere to be seen. Have to admit, my heart dropped when I saw that. All I kept thinking was, "great...another skein of red yarn". Thankfully, I was pleasantly surprised when I spun it up. The finished yarn reminds me of those peppermint candies that are popular around the holidays. The kind that starts out a stark red and white....then the pink starts emerging as you suck on it.

I have a soft spot for superwash wool. I think it's because when I first started spinning I had such a hard time spinning it. Could never get enough twist in it. My yarn was always falling apart. Plus I found it to be a rather slippery fiber to spin. Now I can spin superwash without any problems. Actually find it to be rather enjoyable. The only challenging part about it is the dyeing. I have yet to have a superwash roving turn out the way I had thought it would. It seems to take dye a bit differently than normal wool. And that's not always a bad thing. It is kinda nice to be pleasantly surprised when you see the finished yarn.

Onto quilting...another one of my favorite ways to spend a wet, chilly afternoon. Pictured is a quilt in progress. I know it really doesn't look like much right now. This is a UFO that I pulled out. The pattern is fairly simple...but you need to pay attention to the way the pieced blocks are laid out. I don't know how many times I've had to un-sew seams because I got the pieced block in the wrong way. The quilt is a large one (108" square when finished) and won't fit on my design wall. So I'm doing it in sections. The first section is on the left in the picture. The second section (shown in progress in the picture) is on the right. I'm using all civil war reproduction fabrics for it. Sometimes I look at it and think "what a jumbled mess!"....then my hubby will walk in and tell me how pretty it is looking. The quilt pictured in the pattern I'm using is done in blues, grays, and taupes. For some reason I chose to incorporate as many colors, prints, and patterns as I could. Who knows what I was thinking when I originally started this quilt eons ago. The blocks are 6 1/2" in size (unfinished) and there are something like 324 of While the quilt is taking time to make I have a feeling that it will end up being one of my favorites...not to mention my hubby's....who has a passion for large quilts.  :<)

I signed up for my very first online quilt class at Quilt University. Today is the first day of class. Yea!! The class I'm taking is on how to design and make your own Hawaiian quilt. I've had a passion for Hawaiian quilts for y-e-a-r-s!!! So much so that I've spent years collecting books and patterns on it. Even have a couple of dvds on how to make your own Hawaiian quilts. Spent years trying to convince hubby that we really needed to go to Hawaiia just so I could take a class.  :<) He never really bought into that one. Just imagine how happy he was when I discovered this online class. Lesson one covers how to design your own pattern, among other things like fabric choice, yardage, etc. Can't wait for the first lesson to open so I can get started.

Update on civil war quilt: Section two is finished. Section three is on the design wall and partially sewn. Just might have the top together by the end of the month. Yea!