Tuesday, December 30, 2008

New Years Eve Mystery Fabrics

Here are my main fabric choices for the New Years Eve Mystery quilt-a-long at Quiltville.com. I have white on white lights and a gold to add. Everything but the blue is from stash.
QAL Fabrics
Other than that, I have been reorganizing craft stuff to bring some fabric to the storage unit. It will be nice one day to have all my fabric in one place, preferably where it is warm! On the plus side, all this reorganization has yielded all the train fabrics. Since I have come up with a basic design (square in a diamond in a square), I'll be able to start on that as well. Unfortunately, I haven't had any internet access in days due to a failure on our line, so got to get going to work on other stuff.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Mystery Quilting and Desperate Blankets

I'm haven't done a quilting mystery in several years, so decided to join Bonnie's Mystery on New Years Eve Day (www.quiltville.com). I've seen her recent mysteries, and it is totally my style. The biggest challenge is deciding on colors because I would prefer to use as much as I can from stash. She is using civil war colors, which I don't have, but I'm not even sure if I have pinks that work with brown, which is currently popular. I could go with a non-Christmas red and green palate. We'll see and I'll update when I have my colors chosen. This is my first mystery with Quiltville, so I don't know how she organizes it. My other mystery source (www.quiltaholics.com) does most mysteries over a 2 day weekend.

The most I've done with knitting in the past few days is to trade some of my older knitting books with another Ravelry member. I was set to start a sock and Polly ran off with the yarn and stashed it somewhere. My fault. I know I need to keep this stuff in Ziplocks or she just takes it.

I bought the yarn for this simple afghan 4 years ago and decided to start it last week. Yes, I know, that is 3 afghans at once (what IS wrong with me?). My local Hancocks had this completed sample in their store and I just loved the texture of the stitches and the completed afghan was wonderfully light in Woolease. After I requested the pattern from the company, Lion put the pattern up again. I am calling this my Desperate Housewives afghan because I'm crocheting it while watching DVDs of DH from Netflix. I'm on Season 2. I think it will be done by the time I finish Season 5 easily. This is totally brainless crochet, so perfect for TV watching. I'm doing it in Woolease Blue Mist and Wheat. The pattern at the Lion site is entitled Two Color Striped Afghan and is free to download after registering. I'm 2 rows into the first large white stripe.
Planned Afghan
Photo from Lionbrand.com site

Friday, December 26, 2008

After Christmas Sale & Other Pits of Peril

This post is totally about fabric as none of the local yarn shops are having after Christmas sales.

Today, all my local quilt stores are having sales. My favorite store is having 30% off yardage and a major Fat Quarter sale between now and Sunday. Nothing I need but backgrounds, so I'm trying to plan what I will be doing over the next couple of months to decide what I really need. My fabric fund has taken quite the beating in the last couple of months. None of it went to thread, however. I haven't bought any thread in more than a year and can finally fit all my thread into the thread box. Ok.. I can't close the thread box, but that is progress.

Brother's Quilt: Not much of a stashbusting quilt. It's only twin sized. The background is from mistakenly purchased white TOT for a swap, while the border fabric came from Mill End Textiles ($2 a yard due to sale coupon). We have decided that his quilt will feature 4 patch stars using brights from fat quarters already in my stash. The backing is a flannel, also specifically purchased for this project. I'm going to also try my hand at a rainbow binding, which is so appropriate for this quilt and which will use 4 fat quarters.

Halloween Quilts: Current plans include a double wedding ring quilt, a spider web quilt, a Lucky Star quilt (Atkinson designs) and a windmill-type quilt. Anything left over will go into some blocks to make a random block quilt and/or wallhanging. If I still have leftovers, I will try to trade it for background fabric for another quilt. Right now, I have about 90 yards of Halloween fabric (includes flannel backs for 3) and not all of it fits into a 20 gallon Roughneck.

Swaps: I need more pastels for the Garden Swap which will be done over the next couple of months. Have to decide on what blocks I'm going to make so that I can get appropriate yardage or FQs.

I'm debating between doing My Blue Heaven (QATW Design) or going straight to doing a log cabin or Mountain Majesties using blues that didn't work for the Winter Fun swap. Some blues looked true blue at the store, but in the light-of-day had green or purple tinges so were rejected. The log cabin is already halfway cut (strips miscut at a quiltshop). Since I won't be swapping, I don't have the same restriction for My Blue Heaven and I certainly have more than enough blue and light blue for it now.

Christmas Quilts: I have tons of Christmas fabric. I use some of it to make practice blocks before using the intended fabric for a swap or new pattern. I also have plans for 3 quilts. One is an alternating snowball-9 patch quilt to use up some landscape winter fabric, one pattern is featured on the cover of Merry Christmas Quilts (That Patchwork Place) and one is for the 2007 BOM at QATW (which I had stopped working on). Mountain Majesties is another option for using up christmas fabric. I'm sure I could make a couple of small wallhangings as well. I do want to try to use up all the christmas fabric in 2009. At this point, except for cream or white TOT, I need NO more fabric for these quilts.

Mountain Majesties pattern
4 patch star pattern
A 9 patch star done by another quilter in the same vein as what I plan for bro's quilt
Link to Amazon page for Merry Christmas Quilts
Bonnie's Snowball/9-Patch Quilt pattern

Wednesday, December 24, 2008


Currently, there is a lot of discussion about bloggers and knitters making resolutions to read more in 2009. I am among them. I mostly read cookbooks and craft books because I CAN read them. I missed novels terribly, but few came in large type. However, since discovering podcasts and torrents in the past couple of months, I have enough reading material for years in either audio or ebooks. The ebooks all come as pdf files and I wish I could change some of them to an easier font to read, but hey, beggers can't be chooses. At least I can enlarge the type!

So, I've joined a challenge group to read 52 books/novels in 2009. For someone who is out of the habit of reading, I think that will work well. I also joined 2 online book clubs, not so much to discuss the book as to get ideas of books to read in different genres. At one time, I joined 2 different book clubs locally. They were very sci-fi/fantasy unfriendly. Most of their book choices were high brow and boring - more like an attempt to impress each other than enjoy a good read.

Currently reading: The Alchemist by Paul Coelho.

No quilting tomorrow! Totally devoted to knitting a sock (oh, and a great meal).

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Getting Caught Up On Swaps

This weekend has been snowy and cold, so I spent the time catching up on quilting swaps. First swap is just purple fat quarters. The second was the Winter Fun swap. My assigned blocks were pinwheels and rail fences. The goal was to use true blues and those actually turned out somewhat hard to find! Everything has a tinge of green or purple in it.

Swap Blocks for Winter Fun

The third swap is a Puss In the Corner swap in warm tans & cremes, browns and earthy reds. Here are my finished examples. I thought I would be done with them today, but miscut the last piece by 1/4 inch. Of course, I have no more fabric, having just bought enough to make the swap blocks plus 2 for myself. So, off to the quilt shop tomorrow to get more.

Puss in the Corner swap blocks

I bought a quilting book, sight unseen, that arrived a couple of days ago. It happened to have a pattern that will be perfect for some scrap strips I had been given 4 or 5 years ago. There were not enough of these miscut strips to make the light half for enough log cabin blocks needed to make a full-sized quilt. However, this pattern uses 10 inch HSTs as alternate blocks and that is just perfect! Now, of course, the challenge is to find a good tiny-print-black-on-white, given that it has faded from popularity! I remember seeing something over at Mill End Textiles a couple of weeks ago that would work well. Can't go until after Christmas though. Not enough time. The 'blue' half will be a combo of blues and purples that I already have. The book is The Simple Joys of Quilting: 30 Timeless Quilt Projects by Joan Hanson. Really nice book of traditional patterns. While the colorways are new, most of the patterns are easily found on the internet. It's the adaptations and color choices of some of them that made this worth my while.
Scrap Plans

On the knitting front, I plan to not do ANY quilting on Christmas Day and instead, start a pair of socks. My sock class (knitting 2 socks on 2 circs), originally slated for tomorrow, was canceled. I am still signed up for a class but it will either happen in Janary or February and I need to start some socks now or I won't even get a chance to wear any this winter!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Ladybug Afghan Progress

I am trying Webshots for posting progress photos as my Photobucket is full. I'm not sure I like webshots, but it is popular.

I've completed 12 backgrounds squares for the ladybug afghan and have started doing the body, wings and dots of an example ladybug. Then I'll have to do an example flower that goes in other squares. I should have that to post soon.
Ladybug Afghan Progress

I have finished the background for the Santa Sleigh a couple of days ago. Polly is helping me sort through stuff, so I don't make much progress. Here is Polly helping me with the Santa Sleigh project. She doesn't consider it nearly as interesting as the yarn projects. In any case, I've been sorting through stuff looking for something and haven't made ANY quilty progress today.
Polly Helping

Monday, December 15, 2008

It's Cold Out There!

I looked at the temperature gauge a few minutes ago and it is minus 6 F! (-6F). I don't think we've had such early below zero temperatures in the last 10 years.

I have to bring my Dad to a medical appointment this afternoon, so I'll be getting more squares done on the crocheted Ladybug Afghan, the current take-a-long project. At last week's appointment, I managed to sew in ends for 13 squares and now can do the green trim. I'm running out of room in my project bag, so have to finish these off.

I've been working on partial projects and reorganizing since I finished the log cabin (not to mention way too many stash enhancement trips). I finished the background for the Santa Sleigh wallhanging, knitted a little bear, and planned out a star quilt to begin for my brother. I have my swap stuff almost done. My swap pieces should have been done by now. They aren't. So, I need to get them done today so that I can mail tomorrow.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Log Cabin Quilt Finished!

I finished the Log Cabin quilt on Sunday. Washed and dried it yesterday, so it's a done deal! It's even been cat tested and approved.

The fabric for the blocks was from a 10 in. square swap at About.com in 2003. Some of the greens were forest, some were marine and I found that the black sashing helped them to play together better as well as give a sophisticated look. This is a queen sized quilt, 81x99 inches with a flannel background. I used Joanne's Soft and Crafty High Loft batting and tied it using Cascade 220 wool. My LQS recommended a chenille needle and that worked great! I did need to use a needle holder a lot more (I often refer to it as a hemostat). I used the Quilting From the Heartland Log Cabin templates for this project. A log cabin is done much faster using the strip piece method popularized by Quilt-In-A-Day, but if you are trying to use scraps that don't lend themselves to strip piecing, I highly recommend these templates.

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Here's a closeup that shows the flannel backing.
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If you want your own brand new set of templates, here's a link. Omnigrid is also licensed to sell QITH templates and sell them through Joann Fabrics.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Thanksgiving Weekend and Accomplishments

I spent a pretty good Thanksgiving weekend eating, shopping and quilting. Bought a bunch of flannel for quilt backs at Joanne's ($1.49/yrd) as well as some needed high loft batting. Finished the Log Cabin quilt yesterday (Sunday). The kitties are testing it. I hope to get to the laundromat today so that I can wash, dry and photograph it given that we have a nice clear day. Also have been working hard on finishing swap blocks AND watching my latest Netflix series (Desperate Housewives - I'm on disk 1 season 1). It's interesting, but clearly, not something I would dedicate a night every week to watch. Once the swap blocks are done and I've repaired some clothing, I need to take my machine in to find out if the fix-it guy can fix the machine foot or if I need to buy a new one. I decided not to buy my mini-stereo in case I need to buy the new foot pedal (typically, they are around $90).

After this week, I'll be focusing on knitting, crocheting and cross-stitching.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

SEX and in Public!

SEX, also known as a Stash Enhancement Xcursion, occurred several places today.

Went over to Joann's this a.m. and discovered Halloween fabric was on sale for 70% off, so of course, I had to get some. I need none at all, but how can I say no? In addition to a few small pieces and background fabric, I also bought enough for a backing and a border. My goal for 2009 is to use all the Halloween fabric in the 4 planned quilts. Whatever is left will be donated or traded.

Also bought some background fabrics for a Yuletide BOM and some stripes to add some texture. I only have a few Yule fabrics that come from quilt shops. Most of it is from Hancock's or Joann's since these completed projects go to someone else. When I really need pizzaz or the quilt is for me, I buy the fabric from a quiltshop. I have spent way too much on fabric these past 2 months.

I then did some clearance and sale shopping at 1-2-3 Stitching. Got a Halloween project and some Qsnaps.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Finished Wallhanging!

Another done project! I completed this Yuletide Wreath wallhanging this morning. It is 27x30 inches and done from a pattern that appeared in Quiltmaker in 2000, although it is now sold as an individual pattern. I quilted bells and poinsettias in opposing corners. The poinsettias have french knots in the center for the flowers. The center block has a celtic design (all designs from Helen's Copy and Use Quilt Designs Vol. 6). I had forgotten to add a rod pocket, so added tabs made from the leftover straight grain binding. This is a present for my brother who requested a 'tapestry.'

I made the tops for both this one and the previously completed one at the same time. In future, I would try to contrast the red and green a little better. Both register as 'dark' (as you can tell from the photo), although the gold in the red does make it stand out better than it looks in the photo.
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Monday, November 17, 2008

Tying the Log Cabin

I began tying the log cabin quilt today! First, a trip to a different yarn shop to acquire Cascade 220 in gold, buff and brick red (I already have the green). I also acquired this really neat (and expensive) long, full eyelash yarn that is just perfect for a gnome beard. Also bought a skein of a lovely gray yarn to make some fingerless mitts. Yeah, well, I can't help it. Once I go through the door, it all yells 'buy me!'. This is probably all the needlework I will get to this week other than another shot at working the ladybug afghan as Dad has a dentist appointment tomorrow.

Same setup as the last one - stuffed between a bookshelf and boxes, but great lighting. As you can see, I have a helper. Polly makes certain that I get as little work done as possible, but she is so cute doing it. Here, she is testing the softness of the quilt (that is a flannel backing). I have my yarns, scissors, yarn threader and hemostat to one side. Those ties look huge, but after the quilt has been washed and dried, they shrink up as they felt.

Unknown to me, this yarn was trying to escape, but Polly, The Yarn Cat, caught it quickly and prevented any leavetaking by the errant yarn. Of course, I had to prevent her from taking it to her hiding place (currently under this table) where she hoards stash. She already has in her hoard: 1 skein of Lion Brand Cotton (yellow), a skein of Woolease Chunky, a small ball of yellow Cascade cotton, a skein of red and white sock yarn, and a Snuffleupagus (she dug it out of a box). It makes her happy. I put it all away in the evening and she will go forth and horde again tomorrow.
Quilting Help

Just a tip. If you are quilting around a cat, you need to be very watchful. Polly isn't allowed strings of yarn from my stash at all (just whole skeins). Besides the concerns if there is a needle attached, strings can end up in their intestines and cause terrible damage. Pets can very unexpectedly grab for something without warning, so it's best to pretty much stop working and entertain them until they are bored (usually about 15 minutes does it). Older or calmer pets will usually comfy up and go to sleep if you give them a spot.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Vikings Tree Quilt

Sun came out today, so here is a photo of the Vikings Tree Quilt. It is a queen sized quilt about 85 x 96 inches. Tied using Cascade 220 and Lamb's Pride wools. I don't recommend the Lamb's Pride. You need a hemostat to get your needle through the fabrics. Batting is Joann's Soft and Crafty Hi Loft. Fabrics are mostly from Hancock Fabrics. The football themed flannel is Joann's Soft and Snuggly. I used leftover deer fabric to make the bias binding and did the Continuous Bias Binding method for the first time. Works slick. 4 seams total and I had 360 inches of bias!

Normally, I pretest all quilts (gotta make sure they work, right?) but my sister came down to do a craft show (she sells doll clothes) and she used the quilt last night (it's warm). She's getting the remaining Vikings fabric to make a Remote Caddy for my BIL.

The pattern is free and uses the Easy Angle ruler. Here's a link to that pattern. This was perhaps the very first pattern I bought and it took me all this time to use it. Don't know what was up with me as it is very easy.

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Here's a closeup of the fabrics and the backing. The trees and backgrounds are all scrappy, mostly made from fat quarters and leftovers from other projects. I have 2 extra blocks somewhere. They will find their way to the orphan block quilt eventually.
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Friday, November 14, 2008

Log Cabin Top

Had a slight lightening of the clouds so went out and took a photo of the completed Log Cabin top. The weatherfolks tell us we aren't likely to see the sun for another week, so unless the ground dries a little more, I can't get this puppy rolled up to tie.

Log Cabin Quilt

Close-up of quilt: All of the fabrics for the blocks came either from a swap or from stash. Some of the greens had an awful lot of blue in them, but adding the sashing and the forest green border helped a lot. The whole point was to be scrappy using only green, brick red, beige/tan and gold and overall, I think this quilt looks very good! At my Mom's request, I am going to use a double batt as my Dad reports that the hi loft isn't warm enough. This quilt is destined for my Aunt and Uncle and my Uncle has been complaining about being cold all the time at night. Want it to be mucho warm for him! Since I am using the thicker batting, I will be making 3 inch binding out of leftover border fabric (nowhere near enough using the black, which was my original preference).

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Completed Quilt!

I finished the Vikings Twee Top quilt today, washed and dried it. I'll be adding a label to it tomorrow. The only thing waiting now is a photo which is a challenge. This is November with all the yucky, cloudy, blistery days. I'm not sure if I'm going to even be able to take a good photo before Sunday and that is the day that my sister will be taking it! If all else fails, I will have her take a photo after she gets it home.

Tonight, I will be working on the label and trying to finish quilting the Wreath Wallhanging. The Log Cabin quilt is on hold until we are past this icky weather spell. My Mom wants me to put an additional layer of batting in this quilt, which is not a problem since I had not yet cut the binding. I'm going to cut that to 3 inches. Might be a tad wide, but not wide enough results in a lot more work. Tomorrow, I will FINALLY be able to get back to my knitting challenges including the Monitor Cozy. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

More Quilting Progress

I attached the binding to the front of the Vikings Twee Top Quilt this morning, so now I can stitch it to the back. Unfortunately, I didn't think when I was cutting the binding that thicker batt equals a wider binding. Thus, I have to go through an extra step of trimming batting all around. I remember this happened last time, so I'm sticking a postit in my reference book so that I remember! This was also the first time I've ever tried doing the continuous binding method where you cut a square and slice it along the bias and reassemble it in a wonky tube. The result is SO nice and far more professional looking. The Log Cabin quilt is ready for sandwiching and I plan to make the binding today so that that will also be done. Finally, the Wreath Wallhanging is just about done. I mislaid my book with the quilting motifs that I had planned for the corners, so am looking online for an alternative. As this wallhanging is part of a challenge, I just have to move on. I have a second wallhanging to do yet for my sister and I can't get it done in November if I wait any longer. As soon as I finish the Vikings Twee Top quilt, I can take up my knitting again and get working on my November challenge there (the monitor cozy).

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Tying the Twee Top Quilt

The next few days are pretty much devoted to working on the Twee Top quilt, although I need to take a break now and then to rest the tips of my fingers. It was tough to fit the large resin table between the roll-a-way bed and bookshelves, but I really need to have that overhead light. Shown below is my setup to start the next row. I only unfurl a foot or so at a time since I can't reach it sitting down. I keep everything I'm using on top of the quilt including yarn, needles, and tools. Note that keen football flannel on the back of the quilt. Just perfect for this project!

Tying a Quilt

Here's a closeup of the working area. Wool yarn to the right, threaded needles of each color stabbed into the roll on top, hemostat and scissors. I'm using Cascade 220 and I highly recommend this as a wool to use. It is easy to pull through the fabric without the hemostat and felts very nicely. I couldn't get one color and substituted Lambs Pride and that is just too thick. I have to use the hemostat every single time. Other tools include chenille needles and a yarn threader. Oh, and the Ipod. Required equipment when the CD/MP3 player is too far away.

Quilt Tying Tools

I misplaced my yarn threader somewhere between finishing last night and prepping for this morning, so I had to slog my way to 3 different stores to find one. I bought the DMC variety, which is not my first choice. Nothing wrong with it, but I prefer the LoRain type. I also bought the latest in automatic needle threaders from my LQS for when I'm ready to do binding. This is supposed to work for all needles and not just one brand (as is the case with the Clover one). Will post when I've used it.
Yarn Threader - DMC

In between tying, I have to get back to finishing my Monitor Cozy since that is part of a knit-a-long. I'm behind on all the other ones, but I do want to get this one done.

Podcast: I've added Never Not Knitting to my favorite podcasts list. While Alana hasn't been podcasting long, her episodes on knitting are both entertaining and informative. Yes, and I like the music and sound effects too! I have to figure out how she did the pocket on her Dad's sweater-in-progress. Really has a nice finish. I was so inspired by her completed horsie for her daughter, that I bought the book the pattern came in! Now, I just have to order the yarn for it.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Still Plugging Away

I thought I would be done with the Log Cabin top today. Plans never go as anticipated. I kept making mistakes and running into snags. Then, misplaced 2 blocks, so made 2 more. Now, I'm having some trouble with my sewing machine foot pedal. I hope to squeak it through to finishing these quilts plus wallhanging. I finished all 8 rows today, and have sewn them into 4 sections. Tomorrow, I can do a final check to make sure none of the blocks are turned the wrong way before sewing the sections together and adding the border. The small amount of black really makes these blocks glow.

I also worked on the Wreath wallhanging. It's about 1/2 quilted. I need to go to the copy place tomorrow to resize the designs I want to use.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Log Cabin Blocks Completed

I finished the log cabin blocks last night. When putting together an example section, I realized that my layout plan won't work. Why, you might ask? My blocks are not squares. They are 9x10 unfinished. So, I need to do some playing around with EQ6 and figure out a different layout. I'm glad I discovered this doing a little section (way less ripping out). The black sashing really makes it pop though. Good choice!

I discovered Plurk last night as a result of WendyKnits. It's kind of cute, but since I'm not part of a group, exactly, I'm not sure how useful it will be. However, click on this link and you can become a part of Plurk and figure it out for yourself. You will start off as one of my friends. I get no gratuities for this.
Plurk Link

For my QATW Countdown Challenge project, I am quilting the second wreath wallhanging I did last year. Last year's (for my brother) I did in-the-ditch quilting in the green areas using some old Coats & Clark sparkly green. This time, I did meandering and I'm not as happy with that. However, the sparklies should show up better in the light. Most of the local stores no longer sell this metallic, but it does sparkle as much as the more expensive stuff.
Metallic thread

On the crocheting front, I have decided to abandon the Flying Afghan project (pattern by Drew Emborskey) and will offer my instructions to someone else. I have done 3 of the squares. I like the pattern, but just am not inspired to continue the challenge of this project, not to mention the fact that nobody in my family wants an afghan with wool (I inherited my grandmother's 2 wool afghans by being the only one who would actually USE them). I'll decide later what to do with the yarn - I think I have enough to do a color block sweater.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Sandwiches and Podcasts

The Twee Top quilt is now prepped. Took it outside, laid out the backing, covered with batting and finally, the top, then rolled them all together. Rather looks like hauling a dead body into the house however. Now to buy some yarn and new needles and set up the long resin table and start tying. Takes 4 days to about a week for a queen sized quilt, depending on how tough it is for me to push the needle through all those layers. Sometimes I can do it for 2 hours, sometimes 4 or 5.

In the meantime, I've only 6 blocks left to make for the Log Cabin quilt and then on to the black sashing. UPDATE: The modified layout is below. I think this plan is referred to as "furrows".
Log Cabin plan

As soon as I get this one done and sandwiched, I'll be able to catch up on some of my crocheting and knitting plans.

I am totally loving my Ipod. When I bought this gadget, the idea was to get audiobooks. I didn't understand about podcasts, although I have heard of them. I have tons of podcasts from knitting and quilting, to classical literature to brand new stuff by new authors and presented by the author! I love the science fiction, fantasy and horror. Currently listening to the Zombie Chronicles serial, the Seanachai series and the Classical Tales podcasts. Also have tons of Old Time Radio broadcasts, naturally, mostly sci fi and horror. Just listened to the first episode of Dark Age which is a story based on some folks who participate in an online fantasy game (like Guild Wars). On the craft side, I am mostly listening to Knitpicks (Knitting) and Annies Stash (Quilting). You can get all of these podcasts directly through the Itunes podcast store (they are free).

Zombie Chronicles, a 1st person narrative, written and read by James Melzer, is your apocalyptic Zombie horror genre. The story is interesting and you just have to ignore some dumb errors (if everybody is in cities behind high walls to keep the zombies out, how are the non-zombies growing food to feed themselves?) and the fact that the main character starts out as a jerk. Melzer has a really great speaking voice (graduated from broadcasting school) and the recordings so far are top notch. Currently Chapters 1-10 have been released (5 podcasts). If you are sensitive to mild cussing, the story is not for you. If you can't get enough of "Dawn Of the Dead", listen to this podcast!

Started in 2005, The Seanachai Podcast is an ongoing series of stories written and read by Patrick McLean. Lots of little stories averaging between 5 and 10 minutes. I especially like the ongoing series of How to Succeed In Evil which I would place in the the comic book, superhero genre. I'm still listening to 2005, but I really like what I hear so far. While some is serious and some observational, most is pretty darn funny. Looks like he took a break for awhile, but there are at least a couple of episodes a month. McLean is a very good speaker, the recordings have excellent sound quality and there are great background noises when appropriate. While Itunes is your best bet to get all the shows, here's a link to the site.

Both Knitpicks and Annie's Stash can be envisioned as an audio version of a blog. Chatty, wandering, but on topic. Both are interesting (within their subjects) and varied and include a lot of tips that have been helpful. I am also very pleased with the high quality of the sound. If you are interested in either knitting or quilting, do download some episodes and listen to them!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Twee Top is Ready for Sandwich!

I finished the Twee Top today as well as the football themed flannel backing. Will be laying out to roll up for tying either today or tomorrow (too windy just now). I'm very happy with how it turned out although I still wanted the cornerstones to be brighter than they are. Looks good though and the rich browns in the deer really look great with the purple and the trees.
Twee Top Top Done

Here's a closeup that shows more detail of the block and multiple sashings and border. Yep, that is Vikings fabric. This quilt was made with my BIL in mind and he is a total Vikings and hunting fan. Yes, he likes fishing too, but my attempts to include something related to fishing really looked bad. I'll have to come up with some wall quilt for that. Yes, you could argue that fishing is a summer thing, but this is MN and he has a brand-new-to-him ice house for ice fishing.
Closeup of Twee Top

No quilt is properly done around here unless there is some pet help and Polly provided plenty. Here she is helping me to decide on a fabric for the cornerstones. Fabric? You don't need any fabric!? You just need to pet and cuddle me, she says. Seriously though, I had an afghan for her in the window, a bed on the printer, a bed on the corner of the cutting table and even as a last ditch, a bed on the ironing board (with iron removed). She wanted to either be right behind the sewing machine (so that I couldn't sew) or right there on the fabric I was working with.

Polly Helping
Tonight, I NEED to work on some knitting and cardmaking, so will just be cleaning up the quilting area to work on the Log Cabin. In addition, I need to get things set out for my QATW November challenge which is to quilt my Yuletide Wallhanging.

Monday, October 27, 2008

We have purple!

First, I'm here to tell you that I continue to have progress on quilts. I finished all the tree blocks. The initial sashing is also part of the block. Sewn and trimmed. Tonight, I am cutting all the sashing and cornerstones out. I don't know how much fussy cutting I will need for the Vikings fabric. Only experimentation will tell. I'm told by the manager that there will be plenty of Vikings fabric unless they start winning.
Tree Progress
Here's the new cat tower (or triple bunk bed). It was supposed to be my cookbook shelf. While moving stuff around, this ended up in front of the window and it looks like here it will stay. At least for the winter. From top to bottom is Bart, Cleo-Claudine and Sylvester. Unfortunately, Bart took it upon himself to pull off all those vinyl pumpkins stuck on the window. Bad boy! That lovely red/orange/yellow ripple afghan was not made by me. I actually found it at a garage sale. It had never been used! The gift information was still inside the blanket! I could not believe it, so immediately bought it for $2. Clearly, someone had no appreciation for handmade stuff. It's impossible to keep a kitty off one, as you can see. I'm making some polar fleece pillows for this so that I can get my afghan back and get rid of that ugly camouflage blanket that Cleo is sleeping on.
Cat Bunk Beds
Here was a new bed. Didn't even have time to get the tag off before Polly was in, upside down and snoozing.
Cat Bed

Sunday, October 26, 2008


Saw my first snowflakes today. Had to go out and rescue the remaining green tomatoes. They are all now hanging out in trays, hopefully to turn red over the next week.

I've spent much of the day working on the Twee Quilt sashing. I have 4 blocks to finish. I made my block sashing a little larger to account for blocks that came out different sizes and will then trim them all the same size. Once that is done, then I can start cutting the Vikings Sashing.

What I am disappointed to discover is that a number of my log cabin blocks came out too small on one side. So, I'll be spending some time over the next couple of days taking 1 to 3 logs off to resew. So, there are disadvantages to group quilting - you don't pay a lot of attention to checking to make certain the blocks are all coming out the right size while you are working and yakking. Easy to fix, just takes time. That's fine (snort). I spent much of the day listening to the audio version of Pride and Prejudice and am nearly done. After that, lots of knitting and old-time radio podcasts for awhile, then on to the next audio book.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008


I don't normally speak of politics in my blog, but I can tell you that with the threatening recorded messages we have received from the MN Republican Party in the last 2 weeks, I may never vote Republican again. I guarantee I won't be during this election.

I hope M. Bachmann loses as well and she is not even in my district. Do we really want to a return to McCarthyism? You agree with us or you are un-American? How scary is that? What a bunch of whackos!

It is Still Fall!

Here's another Fall photo from Central Minnesota.
Fall Color in Rural MN
Today is typical Fall weather. Chilly, damp and dreary. However, yes, I know we need the rain. We've had a drought this year and what many people don't know is that the drought doesn't just make it harder for the plants. The underlying aquifer dries up as well. That means well water, water for agriculture, etc. is less available next Spring, which can be a real problem for many municipalities as well as agriculture.

Progress is slow, but today I should be able to finish making the trees for the Twee quilt. I might have to search out a tiny bit more Vikings sashing fabric. I bought some purple the other day to fill out what I had and there is this sticky residue on it. I just don't have the time to clean it and still be ready to lay out this weekend, so I have to get an alternative. On the plus side, I have the flannel backing, in a football theme no less! This quilt is for my BIL and features deer (hunting), trees and Vikings football. I'll also be working on the log cabin quilt now that Mom has made some decisions (it's for my Aunt and Uncle). I bought a marbled green flannel for the back of that one.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Quilting Weekend

Back from my extended quilting weekend at my sister and BIL's cabin. Got lots done, but nothing finished. It rained much of the weekend (helps to keep one focused on quilting), but we did spend part of yesterday taking photos in the area of the Fall color.
Fall in Todd County

Here's my primary setup. We set up the ironing table and iron in the kitchen. This portable resin table was perfectly fine for sewing, but does have some vibration. The white is great as it increases the light. I set up a cutting area, but what you don't see is the chair to the left where I was able to place fabrics and tools at the ready. A light behind and a light to the side eliminated shadowing. On the table is my Log Cabin project. While many people do not use templates for log cabin, if you are cutting your blocks from scraps that prevent effective strip piecing, using templates will save you tons of time. These Shar Jorgensen templates (now sold by Omnigrid at Joann's) produce a 1 3/4 inch unfinished strip (1 1/4 inch finished) which is really a nice size to blend together lots of different colors of scraps. However, the resulting blocks ARE NOT SQUARE which limits your arrangements.
Log Cabin workspace
This area is primarily the prepped pieces ready to be sewn for the log cabin blocks. Doing 10-13 blocks in the same order at the same time really helped with staying organized and reduced the need for ripping out mistakes. The pink pile at the top of the photo is my completed Drunkard's Path pieces which I did as my beginning and ending pieces to eliminate all those long threads you would otherwise get. I normally just use little squares, but this really helped me advance on the DP project! Also, I absolutely love that red bobbin holder. I never have bobbins falling places any longer. My fabrics for this project primarily came from a 10 inch square swap in 2003.
Making a Log Cabin
This is the right of my machine. It includes blocks ready to have the next piece attached, as well as my beginning and ending pre-pinned drunkard's path pieces. Another quilter made that fabulous pin cushion and scraps holder - it is so cheery and happy. Yes, I will admit that I do not press between additions. The pieces are already cut to size and I just make sure I don't get puckers and that the seams go the right direction. Yep. Lazy.
Making Log Cabin 2
Here are some of the completed log cabin blocks which features my colors of green, red, beige and gold. I have since completed a total of 48 blocks (need 80).
Log Cabin Progress
I also worked on my Twees. I am 3 short as I didn't cut enough beige. I'll get those done this week so I can advance on the sashing. I've been doing this quilt almost since I first began quilting in the early 90s and decided that this was the year I was going to do it! The pattern is called Winter Pines by Sharon Hultgren. Very easy and uses the Easy Angle ruler to cut out.
Tree Progress

Here is the beginning and end project: a Pink Drunkard's Path. I've finished enough of these curves to do about 40 blocks so far. I'm not sure how many I need for the nearly queen sized quilt, but I know I need at least 80. This project is composed entirely of reds, pinks and purples from my scraps. I used Shar Jorgensen's 4 inch DP templates for this.
Pink Drunkard's Path
I worked a little on this Scrap Drunkard's Path as well. These are 3 inch blocks and much more suitable for cutting from scraps. Not really any harder to sew. You are still making a 1/4 inch seam. You just need more of them.
Drunkard's Path  (small)
Here's a comparison of 3 inch vs. 4 inch Drunkard's Path templates.
Drunkard's Path Comparison

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Happy Birthday Kitties!

Today our babies are two years old! Unfortunately, I have NO BIRTHDAY PHOTO! I was going to take their photo yesterday, but was told the weather would be clear today. Guess what. So overcast that the satellite TV keeps pitching out. Unfortunately, flash photos look terrible on my black kitties, so I will do a photo when I get back on Monday or Tuesday. I'm leaving in another hour or so for my quilting weekend!

Here's their birth day photo. Proud mama Cleo-Claudine (also called SeeSee).
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Here they are today having a happy 2 year old birthday!

Here's the only photo of all 5 kittens looking at the camera at the same time at 2 months old.
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Front l-r: Sylvester, Bart, Cuddles
Back l-r: Alice, Polly

As you know, we lost Cuddles last year to side effects from treating a parasitic infection.

Project Done and Progress on KAL

Today I was able to take some photos of finished projects for a short time (and it was windy) while the sun was out. The first is a completed felted, purse organizer I did for a Monthly KAL project. I actually plan to use this in my knitting bag to keep small items and double pointed needles together as well as a place to put my wallet and cell phone when I take it with me (so I can leave the purse behind). It's made from Cascade Pastaza, a wool/alpaca bulky yarn. Soft, but the long hair that appears after felting is kind of a turnoff. I don't really recommend this yarn for felting, but it is absolutely scrumptious to knit. Polly has decided that it is prey and has now walked off with it. I want to make a car coat from this yarn. So soft.
Knitting Bag Organizer

Next is a progress photo of my Christmas-Or-Not KAL project. This will be a computer monitor cozy. Yes, it looks like a ball of fuzz now, but just you wait! The vinyl yarn separator bag was a freebee included with this month's Simply Knitting. Works great!
Progress on Monitor Cozy

Here's my new purse. No, I didn't make it, it is a store sample that I bought (yarn and pattern no longer available there). I wanted to point out some things here that you might want to apply to future projects. First, the handle. That marbled effect is from combining the 2 different colored yarns while knitting. Next, the rolled edge is ideal for adding this beading attached to a twill tape. You apply the bead tape and then sew the rolled edge over it. If you are into beading, just attach your beads to twill. Much easier than trying to sew them evenly around the purse. Finally, this particular design has a narrow top. This actually does work to help prevent stuff from falling out of the purse. I really like this purse, but I am going to add 2 pockets - one for car keys and one for the cell phone.
Felted Purse

I recently received 2 items from Fairy Godmothers at Crochetville. One was a Q-Hook Afghans of the Month booklet. Already picked one out to do. The other was this fine square that will be included in my red/white friends afghan. I have not seen this particular pattern before. I like that floating square in the center. Thank you ladies, I VERY much appreciate your generosity!
Rak'd Square

All of you quilters are probably wondering when I will be working on that! Well, this weekend! I'm leaving tomorrow until Monday or Tuesday. My sister and I will be crafting all weekend at their lake cabin. I plan to just work on finishing some already partially completed quilt tops, so that I can tie them later this weekend.

Finally, while doing this entry, the mailmam arrived with a box from Knit Picks. Yarns, some books I don't actually need. One I do. Polly wanted the box. She got it.
Polly in Knit Picks Box
See the almost birthday kitty nap!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

I Love My Ipod

Yes, I have joined the rest of you in Ipod heaven. FINALLY bought one and I'm glad I waited. I got a brand new, totally up to date, 4th Generation Ipod Nano with 16 Gigs of memory. It arrived at 9:30 a.m. yesterday and it is 75% full. Videos, you think? No, no, no. I bought this for podcasts and I have more than 400 on there already. Not just knitting, crocheting and quilting podcasts, but also cooking, audiobooks (in podcast form) and TONS of old radio shows. No video podcasts however. The ones I had chosen are not compatible.

Still on my list of electronic upgrades is a new mini-stereo. I can't decide what I want from what is available. Using earbuds or headphones while quilting just doesn't work for me, so I truly need all the functions including CD, MP3, tape and Ipod dock to play my various audiobooks. And I want it under $200. Some folks just want everything (that'd be me).
I Love My Ipod

On the craft front, I continue to crochet the Lion Brand Crochet-a-long afghan. However, I had to put it aside and make another kitty. I haven't decided how the face is going to look yet, so in the meantime, it will look more sculpture like.
White Kitty

Polly nagged me for many minutes last night, so I finally put this box on the table next to me and was in the process of emptying it, when she just flopped down and went to sleep on top of the stuff still there. During the day, she doesn't care, but late in the evening, she wants to sleep close by.
Polly Is Tired
Sadly, we are reaching the end of tomato growing season. I should have taken a photo of our fabulous collection of plants this year. Clearly, it was too cold last night and the tops of most of the plants have shrunken. The two plants next to the house are untouched. Only one plant looks like it was a goner, so I'm going out this afternoon (after it stops raining) and removing all the tomatoes from that plant. The rest will have some time to vine ripen.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Small Cat

Yes, I did a small cat! This was an attempt to recreate a tuxedo cat. I'm lukewarm on the result. I'm knitting another one now. I'm going to do a whole bunch of them, but it may take time to find something that will approximate my calico girls. Knitted entirely flat in garter stitch, I just used Red Heart leftovers.

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Thursday, September 18, 2008

Talk Like A Pirate and Look Like One Too!

Aye, once again it's International Talk Like A Pirate Day. What be you doin'? I be makin' pirates.

This 'ere's me new shipmate, Yellowbeard. 'Is mum called 'im Rrrnold. Made 'im from Jiffy yarn (acrylic mohair, hence the beard) and odds and ends of acrylic leftovers. He be about 10 inches tall and fittin'. Pattern based on Pirate Pal from Lionbrand.com. No, Polly is not wantin' to have a cracker. She be a particular yarn cat. It'd be Alice who'd be wantin' herself a cracker.

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What's a pirate's favorite socks? Arrrrgyle.

How do pirates make their money? By hook or by crook.

Why did the pirate refuse to say, "Aye, Aye, Captain"? Because he's only got one eye.

What has 12 arms, 12 legs and 12 eyes? A dozen pirates.

Difficulties, Difficulties

I continue to work on projects. My attempt at making a Doppleganger of Sylvester hasn't gone so well. All knitted up. Can't figure out spatially how to sew the legs. Rats. Or Cats as it were. I also put the white on the wrong part of the head so will just make that into a cat toy and reknit the cat head. Hopefully, this all will be worked out today. This is UFO Thursday and I need to get working on another square for my 63 Stitch Sampler Afghan!

I just discovered Alan Dart knitting patterns and a helpful person in the UK provided me with scans of his stuff in magazines over the years. Wow! Very creative guy! I'm in knitting heaven here. There was even a Cheshire Cat. What inspired me originally, however, was the Gnome. Couldn't help myself. I once collected gnomes (especially music boxes) but calamity struck during a move and they are no more. This, however, can be thrown, dragged and beaten up by the cats and it will continue to grace my home. While designed for DK weight, it appears knitters haven't had a problem with worsted either. The eyelash for the beard has been discontinued, but I'm going to work with some of the Splash eyelashes to come up with a suitable substitute. I think Lion Fun Fur would also work, but it is a tad shiny for a beard.

Here is a link to the gnome completed by another knitter.

The gnome pattern can be owned by you by going to the link below. He only accepts Paypal. Patterns are currently about $5 each and are immediately downloaded.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Working Hard!

I swear, I've been working harder looking at links and patterns on the internet than actually getting any crafting done lately. However, I will admit that I was making an Apple Potholder that came out strawberry shaped. Hmm.. something wrong here. I'll be redoing it tonight. I forgot to mow the lawn earlier and it is now too dark. I keep forgetting that the light cuts off earlier. A half mown lawn looks works than an unshorn one, so I'll ignore it until tomorrow.

I'm joining a Knit-a-long that even crocheters are invited to entitled the CareFree Holiday -or not- KAL. PLEASE mention my blog and/or name (Stephanie) if you decide to join. I get a point for it. The Knit-a-long starts Oct. 1 and runs through Nov. 30. Extra points if you use Crystal Palace yarns. Crystal Palace is providing prizes. Here's a link.

I decided to join since I've already chosen my project (already planned, natch) and my yarn was ordered several days ago, so I should be ready by Oct. 1. Still need to get larger circulars, however. For those, I'm checking out Joann's.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Finished the Chicken!

Here's my first potholder in decades. The pattern is from Annie's Attic Ultimate Book of Potholders. I did this in Lion Brand Kitchen Cotton using an E hook. It came out an inch larger than the pattern, but I actually like them a little larger so that's fine. I actually need a bunch of potholders and am inspired to do some crazy ones first.

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If you don't want to buy the book just for this pattern, here is a very similar version for you to use.