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!