Wednesday, February 29, 2012

keeping busy

Hoping that keeping myself busy will keep my mind off the fact that our little grandson seems to be dragging his feet in making an appearance!  No real significant worries or problems, just impatience.  We seem to have probably missed the chance for a Leap Year birthday, which has pros and cons.

So I have added a few more blocks to my growing collection of hexagons--

 I try to keep a few pieces prepped ahead and bagged up so I can take them along in case I have some time to sneak in some stitches, say, for example, in a hospital waiting room!  I pick colors and fabrics, cut out the needed pieces and glue baste the fabric to the paper templates.

Also made a little quilt for the store from some nice batik fabrics, it is called Lover's Lane by Villa Rosa Designs.

I have put together a quilt top called Jelly Jive by Pieced Tree, it is made from a jelly roll pack called California Girl by Moda.  I am waiting for the bolts of this fabric to come into the store for the backing and binding.  It is a very nice soft color combo.

And little quilt top came home to me after being displayed at the store for quite awhile, I had sort of forgotten how much I really like it.  It is a pattern that I wrote and called Story Territory, with the intent of interacting with a youngster and using all of the interesting fabrics to trigger story-telling and games. Even alphabet games and counting games.  I had a lot of fun picking all of the prints that I thought would engage a child's mind.

Does it look like fun to you?

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

wooly ladies

I've been working on some more wool applique as I prepare for a class I am going to teach at Bear Patch in March.  We had been getting requests for a basic class and even though there are many people who have done a lot more of this than I have, I decided I could pull together enough info and material to make a good learning experience.  Here's my project in pieces:

 And here's a bit of detail:

A single strand of embroidery floss and a whip stitch to sew the shapes.
 Last week I was with a group of quilting friends, and we got into a discussion of the value of saving scraps.  Notice how I have positioned the pattern piece below into one corner of the fabric in order to leave a larger unused area to save for something else--

 Poor Anita was chastised for being too liberal with her pattern placement and then throwing away the scraps!  You would have thought it was the end of the wooly world!  And even though this is wool felt, which I think in some purist circles might be looked down upon, we felt the need to educate Anita on the value of saving wool scraps.  They do run at a higher price than regular quilting fabric, plus there is a more limited choice in colors.  So, like many others, I save even little bits of wool because you just never know when you need a tiny little dot for an eye for a bird or a berry on a branch or a flower center.  These were scraps left from this project, and there are some good sized pieces here that will go into something else (I hope).

As a part of the class I am going to lead, I am trying out some various products including needles.  I was actually kind of surprised at the differences in needles.  Right now my preference is the package on the right that looks like a matchbook.  Of course, that is the one that is hard to obtain, which is par for the course.  The ones at the top are labeled Wool Applique Needles, but seem really over-sized for my uses.  The jury is still out on this topic.
needles from Fons & Porter, Foxglove Cottage, Scarlet Today and Bohin

Saturday, February 18, 2012

knit nut

I was on a knitting hiatus for awhile this winter, but that seems to have ended.  Most of my knitting is for things that can be fit in between my 'real work' of quilting and job and homelife.  It kind of takes a back seat, but sometimes I get fired up about something new, and then out come the needles and yarn again!  Browsing the pictures on Ravelry is problematic, because I am tempted by many things there.  I limit my looking to only things that are available as free patterns, but that still numbers in the 1000's, so it's not a very restrictive limit!  Another reason for my recent uptick in knitting is the Christmas gifts I received from thoughtful friends and family, and it's hard to not knit up a gift project!

So here's a recap of recent knitting events:

A warm and fluffy cowl scarf--

 The yarn is a chunky weight, and knit on big needles, so it happens quickly.  The directions are from Berroco booklet #310.  The yarn is acrylic, wool and baby alpaca with subtle shading.  It is available in additional colorways.

Another fluffy scarf--

and another Berroco yarn that is acrylic and wool blend.  The instructions for this were inside the yarn wrapper, and I actually crocheted it.  Crochet is not my strong suit, but this was super simple.  You see the picture with the yarn ball, the strip of fiber has little loops along the edges and that is where the action happens to make the ruffle.  The closeup above kind of shows how it gets all gathered up along 1 edge.

My knitting has been classed up a bit with the addition of this beautifully handcrafted yarn bowl--
I love my yarn bowl!
It comes from Blue Room Pottery.  At the moment it contains the makings of yet another Baby Surprise Jacket knit in Serenity Garden Yarn by Deborah Norville and Premier Yarns.  Below is another little jacket that can move to the 'done' group after washing and blocking.  
Baby Surprise Jacket
I knit this baby jacket over a year ago, but when I sewed the shoulder seams I ended up with a neck hole for a pencil-necked baby, and we all know that baby necks are not necessarily the thin part of the body!  There has to be a sturdy neck to hold up those disproportionately large heads, right?  So enter the yarn whisperer (Thora Lee) and a little re-work made it turn out just fine.  That pink/purple/grey sweater is a Sensations sock yarn called Soles & More, available at your local fine JoAnn's Sewing and Craft store.  It's a nice, soft, washable wool blend.

And now not so knitty--
proof that dishwashing detergent is tough stuff

Bob's jeans are showing a new form of distress after a struggle with an unruly bottle of gel dishwasher soap.  That is permanently bleached.  And probably breaking down the fibers at this very moment to create a nice ragged hole soon.  Lesson learned--wear protective clothing when loading the dishwasher!

And to wrap this up, I am going to suggest that you visit and read this blog about a MN quilt designer that I know and enjoy.  Her name is Heather Mulder Peterson and her company is Anka's Treasures.  I really like her photography and inspiring ideas, but the post I am directing you to is about a personal life event, and you might want a tissue handy.  She also is a terrific knitter!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

working on....

 No big news here, at least not the kind of announcement that I am waiting to make regarding the arrival of my grandson!  As you can see in this picture, Brita is nearing her delivery date!  We were at the Timberwolves game with B and B this night.

about 36 weeks
The picture below shows a new-ish project that I have been working on.  It is made from felted wool sweaters that I have been collecting from a local used clothing store.  I finally have enough of a coordinated theme to put together a decent sized lap quilt or couch quilt.  This has been kind of fun.
chopped up felted wool sweaters
I washed them twice on hot water/cold rinse and dried in a hot dryer.  You never can tell for sure how they will turn out, but 5 of the 6 that I worked with shrank up nicely.  They have to be 100% wool, but even if the tag says that, there is no guarantee that they will shrink down like I want them to be.  Not sure what to do with the other one, probably put it with my stuff to go to the donation center!  They will be able to collect twice from that one!  

Anyway, I cut all the sweaters open at the seams, so I had flat fronts, backs and sleeves to work with.  I decided to work on a grid of multiples of 3", so I cut chunks that were 15 1/2", 12 1/2", 9 1/2", etc.  Mostly squares, but some strips to fill in as needed.  I ended up drawing it out on graph paper to make everything fit into rows that could be assembled and then joined together.  I wanted to keep this simple, without a backing or binding.  So I just overlapped the edges of the pieces by about 1/4" (not very accurately in some spots!) and top-stitched with a wavy stitch.  I used the walking foot on my machine, it would have been really hard to keep things feeding through evenly without that.  When it all came together, I did one more round of topstitching all around the outside edge and called it good.  I think I want to do more of this as I can find sweaters that are appropriate.  

Up on my design wall--
La France by Villa Rosa
I cannot believe that I have those 2 turquoise blocks at the bottom nearly on top of each other!  I did not even see that until I looked at the picture, and I had been consciously working to keep the colors scattered evenly throughout!   I think the seam ripper has to come out for this one.  This is a pattern that uses 5" pre-cut squares plus 1 yard additional fabric.

I finished a quilt for a customer, all flannels--
Customer's flannel quilt
And started another quilt that I introduced to you before--
Lover's Lane by Villa Rosa
This looks like Easter eggs to me!  I will be able to finish quilting this one tonight since I am home alone and can do whatever I please!  
The 2 Villa Rosa quilts that I have shown here will be displayed at Bear Patch, where the patterns and kits will be available.
I'm thinking that supper will be a bowl of popcorn!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

finally finished

This quilt has been stalled on my frame for longer than I had expected, a combination of life's happenings and a low ebb in my creative enthusiasm.  Quilter's block?

I'm not sure of the name of the pattern, I will try to find out from Joyce, the maker.  Now I hope I can pick up the pace again and get some more customer quilts completed.  Right now I am going to run out to Joann's, the nearest one is about 10 miles away, to match a thread color for the next quilt.  I have the desired green isacord thread to be used on the quilt top, but would like to match that color in a cotton thread for the bobbin.  Isacord is a slippery polyester thread and works best with a less slippery thread on the bobbin.  Helps with knotting off ends and setting tension.  Might just have to cruise the yarn aisles, too!  Then later tonight it is a trip downtown to watch the Timberwolves play, they have been pretty hot lately so I hope tonight is a barnburner!