Sunday, August 27, 2006

Homespun Shawl is Done!

Another completed project by me! Here's the Homespun Shawl I've been knitting for awhile. I made it using Homespun yarn in the color Tudor (brown with bits of red, blue and bronze thrown in). Very warm and cozy. I enlarged it from the pattern with a resulting size of about 84 x 49 inches. The pattern used is a very traditional triangle shawl. The decorative holes along each side leave enough room to later add some decorative braid or ribbon.
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The only technical aspect of this project that was difficult was using oversized needles. If you've never used oversized needles, in this case size 13 circulars, I do find them somewhat hard on the hands. I did a baby afghan years ago using them and that was a hard project to finish! So, I don't recommend oversized needles for the long car trip unless you've tried them before.
If the above link doesn't work, go to and search Easy Triangle Shawl. They have instructions for both a crocheted and knitted version of this shawl.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Minnesota State Fair Crafts

I went to the State Fair today. Enjoyed all the crafts, some of the animals, a little of the food (and LOTS of the All You Can Drink Milk Truck milk). My feet are totally killing me. I'll be returning to the Fair next week as I got the dates mixed up for the rodeo. Will catch the stuff I missed the first time around.

Here's a few selections from the Craft area. I loved this string quilt. Although she used lots of different fabrics, what set this one apart was the strip of red satin in every block. Gave it a real WOW factor.
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This next one was the hand quilting winner. I'm certainly no where near her skill in applique, but I thought the layout was really great. Very easily done as a take a long project.
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Quilt by Carol Schwanke

This knitted item is totally a one-of-a kind. Note that there are TWO dresses (one is behind this evening gown. Don't know who made it, but they could call it "Ode to Sock Monkey".
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For crochet, I noticed this 63 square sampler afghan amongst the afghan entries. The number of afghan entries is up a lot! Maybe I'll enter mine when I get it done.
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One cannot go to the fair without at least a look at the animals. So, my contribution is a photo of some little piglets born minutes before I arrived (the sow was still having more piglets).
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Thursday, August 24, 2006

Is It Ever Wet!

Rain, rain and more rain today. Good for the grass. Bad for me the Lawn Ranger.

I've had progress with projects this week. I completed the knitting on the Homespun Shawl today. I made it larger than the pattern and have chosen to do without the fringe at this time. I'll post a finish photo in a day or so. The Maple Leaf Quilt is currently on my table and is being tied. It's going to take at least a week, judging from how long the previous queen sized tied quilt took. My Mom helped me lay out the backing, batting and top and roll it up. I am using a long resin table from the hardware store to do the tying. Works great! I am using a new batting. It is Soft 'n Crafty Hi-loft by Joanns. The second batt is going into my sister's quilt which I expect to finish before the snow flies. Since she washes blankets much more often (dog sleeps with her), I'll be able to compare these different Hi-loft battings in these quilts as well as with the Diamond Scrap Quilt. I can tell already that the needles I used to get at my former quilt shop (now closed) for tying quilts were superior to the needles I get now. I have to really struggle sometimes to pull the needle through. I will have to mail order some. The brand is John James. Really good.

Going to the Minnesota State Fair tomorrow. It's been 2 years since I've been there, so I'm really looking forward to this year's selection of crafts.

Goals: My goal for 2006 was to finish all crochet and knitting projects. I could work a little faster, but I am not doing too badly. Do need to pick it up a little judging by the projects listed on the side panel. My Mom's Rose Afghan now returns to being the take-a-long project for appointments. All the flower motifs are done and I'm working on the plain white blocks now.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Slow Going

I've been a little slow going on the crafts this week. Slight achy injury and I just don't get stuff done and I whine a lot. Not to mention catching up on all the junk that arrives in my emailbox! Found the border fabric for the Maple Leaf Quilt. I'll be cutting and sewing that tomorrow with a goal of getting the quilt tied this weekend. In addition, I am sewing, sewing sewing on those paddlewheels. I found more of the same background fabric and am getting those odds and ends taken care of. I have one more quilt that primarily uses Thimbleberries fabric (trees in a column). After that, it's using up scraps and moving on to brighter colors. As much as I like the richness of Thimbleberries fabrics, I need to steer towards things that are brighter.

I really do like this paddlewheel pattern. It looks like it would take longer to make, but you just zip right through. I'm thinking of making a second to use up my box of homespun fabric. I want a lumberjack type quilt eventually (think red/black plaid), and this would work!

Another mainstay of culture has fallen as well. Betty Crocker is closing their merchandise store. No longer will you see those little points coupons on their boxes. The bigger concern was to be sure I had all the pieces for my Brahms flatware and added any missing pieces. Fortunately, I was able to get everything except one iced drink spoon (lost in one of my moves).

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Back To Suburbia

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingMy birthday cake pink flamingo ornament.

I have returned from my rural fix. Unfortunately, that has involved some spending due to the 60% off coupons at Mill End Textiles (got backing fabric for 2 quilts plus some great fabric I truly didn't need). You can never have enough fabric. Anyway, on to accomplishments.

I found it very difficult to quilt wearing shorts, so quilting didn't go so well with the heat. Therefore, only the Floral Irish Chain quilt had work on it and it's about 60% quilted now. So, I concentrated on a lot of swap block finishing. Recently, I participated in 2 block swaps on QATW (an MSN group). First, the Barbie Swap top is complete. I was short a block so used an extra of mine and changed out the center (see bottom right corner). I've purchased the backing fabric as well, so when I have enough pins available, I'll be able to pin baste this one. I plan on black binding fabric. It looks a tad odd to use the same fabric for the border as for the sashing, but the quilting will be different so I expect that will look better. Most options for the border, I felt, took away from the blocks.
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Second, the Maple Leaf swap blocks were great! I loved the on-point look with this block. Prior to leaving to housesit, I was unable to find my outer border fabric, so that has to be added yet. This quilt will be tied. The brick red sashing and inner border really set the leaves off well.
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I had a lot of pet assistants when laying tops out to measure for borders and backing. All four think that no quilt top should go anywhere without feline approval. Only Puff stayed around for a publicity photo on this one. I don't think they liked the black/white contrast. They sortof pussyfooted around it.
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On the other hand, I couldn't get them to go away when laying out the Maple Leaf top. Huff kept dragging my measuring tape around thinking it was HIS toy. There was unanimouse approval on this one.

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Huff, Ptolemy and Spitty (in back).

Finally, I started doing the Paddlewheels. Should have brought ALL the fabric for this one as it goes together very, very fast. This one would be ideal for a flannel quilt as well. I am using the instructions from a now out-of-print Thimbleberries book (same one that I made my parent's 50th Anniversary quilt). Fast, fast, fast. I did all these blocks in about 5 hours from cut to finish. This project will use up some of those dark Thimbleberries fat quarters I never know what to do with.

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I also continued work on the Purple Opal quilt. The entire thing is purple and black half-square triangles and takes forever. It's hard to keep working on it due to the dark colors. However, I did get many strips cut, so using the Easy Angle makes it go quick. If you've never used that tool, it really saves time for doing half square triangles. In addition, you save on fabric. For instance, for 3 inch finished squares, you cut strips 3.5 inches (not 3 7/8 inches) saving slightly over 1/4 inch. I often can get one more strip out of a fat quarter than I could using other methods, which results in more squares. Also saves you time as the dog-eared edges only need to be cut off one side instead of 2. I am not amongst the group who makes them larger and then trims them to size. I can't stand doing it and since I don't enter competitions, don't see a need. You can still do that with this method as well. I've included a link to a tutorial on using the tool. Once I used it FINALLY for one quilt, I find myself using this method for most projects involving half square triangles due to the time savings.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Happy Birthday To Me!

Yes, once again, 39 has rolled around again. And rolled away. I am now the youngest in my family. It amazes my formerly younger siblings, but time marches on. For some of us, we loose our way and just keep going in a repeat loop. I like it there. The only disadvantage is when I make a visit to a medical practioner as I have to figure it out all over again.

I'm still housesitting in rural Central Minnesota. It is like living in the middle of a little forest, complete with air conditioning! Since I last posted, I finished the Maple Leaf quilt except for the final border. I couldn't find that fabric before I left. I have also discovered that quilting a quilt in the summertime requires a headband to keep the sweat out of one's eyes. I expect to finish the quilting on the Floral Triple Irish chain, but my Mom and Dad's quilt may have to wait for the temps to drop further. I have also quilted one side of a tote bag for my sewing machine extension table. It's a pain to take it apart every time to put it back in the box. This will contain the table, the instructions (and reorder sheet for parts), and have a pocket on the outside for my Turntable Revolving Olfa Mat, which also seems to defy a storage place. Of course a standard 18 x 24 inch Olfa mat will fit in here too. I'm doing lots of practice on stippling on the sides of this tote bag. I have trouble doing it small enough since I typically meander on quilts (larger curves). Haven't been fishing yet, but we'll see about tomorrow!