Saturday, July 29, 2006

One Year Old Blog

It's now been just over a year since I started this combined blog of all my crafts. It does a lot to help me keep progressing, but also reminds me that I still suffer from Startupitis. Oh, and I buy too much stuff too. I managed to finish 3 of the 4 things mentioned being in the works in July 2005. Wow! That IS progress for me!

Currently, I am nearly finished with my Summer Sling bag. The handle was too long, so I need to redo that and then add the lining and sew everything together. I also have just a few more rows of the Homespun Shawl!

I'm going housesitting tomorrow for just over a week at my sister and BIL's rural home in Central MN. Projects planned for that trip include quilting 2 quilts (I have 5 pin-basted), the Maple Leaf blocks and sashing, and the Winnie the Pooh afghan. The 2 quilts are the Pine Tree quilt and the Triple Irish Chain Floral quilt. It's going to be hot-hot-hot until next Wednesday, so I'll stay in the a/c instead of fishing! SO, here's to finishing projects!

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Reversible Child Quilt Finished!

Here's a switch. A project that took me all of two weeks and it is completely done! I'd been trying to come up with ways of using leftover batting. A while back, I decided to do a small practice quilt using the techniques in Reversible Quilts:Two At A Time by Sharon Pederson prior to doing a queen sized quilt. I already had a 2 gallon bag full of precut 7 inch poly and poly blend batting squares. Recently, I received my I Spy swap squares, so now was the time to do something. This project is quilted as you sew. I just can't get over how quickly this was a done project!? No wonder quilters love kid's quilts: they are so quick to do!

The front of the quilt features a Mickey Mouse fabric along with complementary solids. Strips were a variety of blues. The blue pin dot fabric was from my sister's stash. The back of the quilt is I Spy swap squares surrounded by black Kona fabric. I also used a reversible binding, which was very easy. The final quilt is 43 x 56 inches. This will be a present to Samantha (13 months old), my cousin's daughter. My Mom has asked me to do another one for the hospital's auction in the winter. So, I'll have to see what other groups of squares I can come up with for a second back. One thing I learned with this quilt is that you need to go much slower with a walking foot in order for it to keep up with the feed dogs.

[edited to add]: Here's a link on this method from Sharon Pederson.,1805,HGTV_3876_1727368,00.html

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Front and back of Reversible Quilt

Friday, July 21, 2006

Sad News

I'm sad to report that we lost Fiona yesterday. She was suffering from complications of Chronic Renal Failure, which she has had for a couple of years. She was my sister's cat, rescued as an adult from the alleyways of Los Angeles. My sister gave her to us in desperation a few years ago because Fiona needed to be an only cat and just couldn't cope with my sister's other cats. Her age is only approximate, but she was about 17. Fiona was very much a quilt cat. She wasn't very fond of afghans, and really hated the wool cat bed that I made (my sister's other cats adore it). However, she loved, loved, loved to crawl under my flannel quilt. She loved any of the quilts, but the flannel was her favorite.
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Fiona, last year in lioness pose. Fiona in September 2006 modeling my cat bed.

I don't have any photos of Fiona under the quilts. She was just a lump. But she spent most of her sleeping time under the several that I would put into a pile on the bed.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Complicated Week

Things have been kindof hectic around here this week. My Dad had surgery on Monday and is recovering, but requires some help with his meds. Fiona, the cat, has taken a downturn and requires more care. It is hot everywhere, but happily with all the rain we had this a.m., less concern for fire locally. My car still doesn't work.

On the plus side, my Maple Leaf swap blocks arrived! I am packaging them together with the fabric (sides and borders) so that I can put the top together while housesitting for my sister the 2nd week of August. Haven't decided if I'm going to tie or quilt it yet.

I have almost finished all the blocks for the reversible child's quilt. I hope to start on the sashing tomorrow and finish this project this week. The blocks go together VERY nicely and since they are already quilted, the finishing should be pretty quick. Having a square on the back makes this very easy. My plan to have triangles and strips on both sides will add to the complexity, but then I will be using mostly blends (80/20) instead of 100% poly. For a kid's quilt, having different thicknesses seems to work out just fine. I think the smallish size minimizes the differences.

Good news! Since I have to bring my Dad to the docs repeatedly for a bit, I brought some UFOs to work on. I have done nearly all the crocheting on my Summer Sling Bag. The handle ended up being too long for me, so I'm starting that over again today to get it the correct length. Then, I'll just have to sew the lining and I'm done! I'm also making progress again on the Homespun Shawl. During the last go around, I had to rip back 5 or 6 inches because my shawl was becoming rectangular when it should have been triangular. Don't know where I went wrong, but it's better now.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Quilting Projects

I've been working on swap stuff and a new technique in quilting!

First, I finished my 30s repro Churn Dash swap. I really like this block. It's easy and a really good choice to practice getting points right without too much frustration. Here are the 4 colors I sent in for the swap.
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I put together sashing for 2 of the blocks. I had toyed with the idea of using only a light and a dark and alternating them in the quilt. In the sunlight, it becomes obvious that the red in the pink fabric doesn't match the lipstick red of the polkadot. This wasn't obvious at the quilt store. So, just using 2 fabrics isn't going to work for this as I'd hoped since my selection locally is pretty restricted. A popular technique in swaps that is a pet peeve of mine is squaring up blocks. It is SO MUCH easier to keep the points if blocks have not been squared up. Typically, what happens is that one side ends up with not enough fabric to fix and the points get cut off when sewn to sashing or other blocks. Easier is to just leave the squares as is and let the recipient either fix it by resewing or by careful manipulation with the sashing. Way easier for me to square up sashing! I'll take swap blocks as they come. In all the years I've participated in block swaps, there have only been 2 blocks I couldn't use due to sizing problems. I plan to incorporate them into an orphan block quilt. Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
Here is a scan of the sashing color idea I'm trying to duplicate (from Scrap Quilts by Leisure Arts). The block is different, but I was hoping for a more girlie girl feel to this quilt by using just red with a pink with red highlights. Guess I'll go with the multicolor look instead.
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I finally managed to get to trying out the Reversible technique in Reversible Quilts using some inexpensive fabric from Joanns. It's always easier to make a child quilt with a new technique. It gives you enough practice to really do it right on a larger quilt. I already learned why directional fabrics for the back are a tad difficult to use. It's harder to keep everything straight until the basic technique is down. Good to find that out now. The back is composed of squares that I received from an Eye Spy swap a couple of years ago that I didn't use in my other quilt. The front is Mickey Mouse fabric with fabric to match the colors in Mickey. My batting squares and front are 7 inches. Once I've sewn the strips (which quilts both sides), I trim down to the size of the swap squares which is 6 inches. Afterwards, I will add a narrow sashing to attach all the blocks together. Since I have a lot of red thread, that is what I'm using in the top and bottom and it looks good! I have to say, it's way easier to quilt this way instead of pushing around a large pinned quilt.
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Front and back of finished squares.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Finished First Socks!

I finished my first pair of socks and have the photo to prove it! They are made from Cascade 220 wool yarn using the pattern from Knit Socks by Betsy McCarthy. Overall, I am happy with my first pair of socks even though they aren't perfect. The heel is though and that is most important to me. The foot area is a little roomy and I prefer a more rounded toe. That extra fabric on the one toe goes away after I walk around a few steps with my sock (it was the first time I put it on).

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Today I'm trying to finish the backing for the Diamond Waterfall quilt so that I can pin it this week before the shop closes. I'm also getting my swap blocks done. I bought a lot of fancy thread at 60% off as well as plenty of brights to make a couple of projects that needed brights or jewel tones.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

This and That

I've been taking two steps forward and one step back all week. It started last Friday when a bearing in my car wore out, causing the belt to seize and break and the cascade of damage as a result. Although the car has been driveable, a big leak indicates that the steering pump was also damaged. Timing wasn't so great, but then, when is it? So, I try to step back and simply remind myself that if all I manage to accomplish before the quilt shop closes is to pin my Mom and Dad's quilt and get my next 3 Thimbleberries BOM packs, then that's fine. After all, I don't really need more fabric, do I?

I have finished the knitting on the socks, but still haven't quite done the finishing on them. My first Kitchener stitch on the toe really doesn't look very good, although I'm puzzled as to why. I've done this stitch on lots of sweaters and it always came out very nice. I sewed the backing for Mom & Dad's anniversary quilt, so that is ready to pin tomorrow. Lots of car trouble, so I'm dependent on when Mom's car is available. It's going to be in the 90s tomorrow, so indoor stuff is on the agenda! I'm such a wimp over heat.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

LQS Is Closing

My favorite local haunt quilt shop is closing due to the owner's illness. Happily, she plans to reopen when her health problems are resolved. She doesn't plan to be out of quilting entirely and plans to host some Quilter's Nights Out at her church. That will be good because I enjoy those evenings. Here's a link to photos of the current store:

In the meantime, I managed to save 40% on the backing and batting for my Mom & Dad's quilt. It's an intense gold (Autumn Fare) from the Thimbleberries line. Way better choice than what I was going to use and my Mom likes it much better as well. My biggest problem with the closing of this shop is where am I going to pin my quilts? Most options that have been suggested to me in the past for pinning my quilts are simply undoable either because it is too low or a major storage problem. Tying is less of a problem as I can just place a single sheet of plywood on a bed and tie from there. I'm hoping one of the other two smaller quilt shops will let me pin quilts there.

I'm still working on my socks with the goal of finishing today or tomorrow (Sunday or Monday). Photo to be provided when complete. I purchased the yarn for July's Sock-A-Long (an ankle sock with fun fur around the top) and all the 30s fabric I need for a 2nd go-around with the 30s Churn Dash Swap. I am also participating in a Library Swap. Bought my pattern and have selected a bunch of fabrics to use from my stash. The pattern creates a block with books, some of the books lie on their side, some have things on the shelves. Not due until September, which is good because I'd like to put something on the shelf which requires a little applique.