Thursday, April 29, 2010

St Louis!!

Travelled to St Louis yesterday, and I do like what I've seen so far of this city.  I seem to be noticing a lot of firetrucks --- about nine of them so far!, and also the very "American" signs.  It seems to be very rich in the pop culture of  a certain era.     In just a few minutes I'm going to go over to the place where the workshop that I came here for is going to be held.  This afternoon/early evening is registration and a reception and a little vendors area.  I really don't know what to expect. 

 We went to a really great restaurant last night, and I had amazing food!!!  Actually there are an amazing number of restaurants here.  They seem to outnumber the shops by about 10 to one.  However, I did manage to seek out a yarn shop this morning!
More later!!!

Monday, April 26, 2010

The Five Year Project

Several years ago, I think about 6 or 7, I decided to start a project that would be one that I could work on as a handwork project without worrying how long it would take.  A  friend had recently been working on an English Paper Pieced Grandmother's Flower Garden project, and I thought it looked intriguing.  (yes, it is her longterm project too!).  So, I found some of the paper templates, collected some fabrics and began.  When i had accumulated about a dozen of the "flowers", I thought that was enough.  I contemplated how to set them together and decided to use 10 of them. After appliqueing the center down onto a solid piece of background fabric, I then decided it needed some appliqued birds and flowers.  That part was not so much fun, but I finished it last night!  Today i basted the quilt top, and now I need to decide what sort of quilting to do!!

I'm pretty sure I won't be hand quilting it.  I have learned that I have some limitations, one of which is that I am easily bored, and a hand quilted project could take 6 or 7 more years!  So, machine quilting it will be!  But how?
(Oh yes, I might add more borders later, but this is about the biggest size I feel like I can handle on my little machine)
I guess I might have to mull this one over a bit.

More Adventures in wool

I don't know where the day goes! it is already 4:30, and I'm enjoying my afternoon snack, a strawberry smoothie.  All it contains is ice, strawberries and pomegranate juice.  It is very refreshing.
However, I still wonder how the past 7 or 8 hours have gone by so quickly.
I did some poking around outside, and some reading (the latest Inspector Lynley book by Elizabeth George) and of course some sewing.
I wasn't happy with the nametag I made yesterday, so I did another one, which I like better.  It is about 2" x 3", and made out of wool, thread and batting.  The squarish pink space on top is actually blank so that I can pin whatever brooch I'm feeling in the mood for using.  Since I have quite an extensive brooch collection, this is a neat-o feature!

I continued in my wool-felt bags mode....
This is a rectangular bag for which you can find the tutorial at The Adventures of Bluegirlxo.   
This is by Julie Collings, who wrote the book called "Pretty Little Felts", which is really lovely.  You should really follow the link and see the bags she makes, they are so pretty!

Following her lead, I had to add some special zipper pulls to the round top bags that I've been embellishing too!
I just love the bright green wool on the bag above!

(And, no, I did not crochet these tiny little embellishment things, but picked them up on my travels for "one day")

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Colorful Sunday

Sometimes when i write a post, I start by uploading some photos that I've taken in the last day.  Sometimes when I upload them all at once, they change the sequence.  That's what happened this time, so I will begin commenting on them in that order.

It was quite dreary weather here this weekend, and today there has been a sort of light snow falling.  To counteract this, I looked at how pretty the colored glass looks on the shelves.  I have started to collect some tiny little vases to put tiny little flower arrangements into.  The little red and gold one I got at a Mennonite second-hand store, and I love the color of it.

Next up is a nametag I made from some odds and ends.  I am going to a workshop later this week, and I noticed that they said to bring a nametag.  So, I had to make one. I'm not sure if I like it or not.  I may need to make a different one. 
I finished the first sock of this pattern.  It is a pattern from my book called "Favorite Socks", by Interweave Press. Now I need to do the second sock, which in my experience is quite a bit more time consuming than the first sock.
Yesterday at the farmers market there were some people outside the building demonstrating how you can use solar heat to bake cookies.  Quite impressive considering that there was almost zero sun at the time. 
 but here is the proof that the cookies did bake.

 One thing about the nametag, is that in making it I pulled out some embellishment stuff: little doo-dads and colored thread.  I was enjoying the hand stitching on wool so I decided to add a bit of color to the wool bags I made a while back.
 The blue one got some beaded, crocheted berries on either side.
The turquoise one received some bright green stitches along the zipper line.
And the green one got deluxe treatment with some navy granny squares and chain stitch detailing:

 So, there was quite a bit of color today after all!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Paperwork Friday

Yesterday I stopped in at the bakery on 8th Street, I think it's called Earth Bound, or something like that.  They serve some very nice coffees and treats.  Today I had a slice of fruit and nut bread with butter and jam. Very yummy.  Isn't a loaf of bread a beautiful thing?
At the shop, I took a couple of photos of some new fabrics.  I love these new stripes from French General,

These flannels have me thinking of what I can do with them.  They look sort of wintery to me tho, and perhaps I'm still in spring sewing mode.
As for today, I haven't had too much visual excitement.  After a quiet morning, I've spent the whole afternoon with my computer and it's accounting program, getting caught up on the inevitable paperwork.  Which is good,

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Trivia Thursday

 This is the yarn that I have been using lately:
 The one on the right, by Willow Island is my favorite.  It is 100% wool, and very squishy. They have a limited range of hand-dyed colors.  I've been using them in a granny squares afghan which I am nearly finished, but just have some rounds to crochet around the whole thing.

 Yesterday I finished quilting the 3 small quilts that I had basted.
This is the kid's disappearing nine-patch that we made kits of for the store, and  so I took it in there on Tuesday to display as the sample.  It has some pretty bright fabrics, but I liked how it turned out.

 Even though the colors weren't quite a match, I used this flannel on the back of it, because I just loved it.

 Since I was on a roll, and had a few blocks left over, I decided to pull some other fabrics from my stash to use up some odds and ends... you know how that goes.  So this is the second one,
Oh, and I sewed in a little piece of an old embroidered table runner. 
Then, I had the other end of it left over, and a bunch of odd scraps, so I decided to start sewing them all together in a "decide as you go" kind of thing:
These are the odd shaped scraps around my sewing machine yet to add to this center.

 And this is the pile of extra fabric that I had left when I cleaned up my cutting table!!!!
 Why is it that you can sew several projects from a group of fabrics and then still have so much left over?
Oh, you may notice the "Monet" colored fabrics there as well.  I sewed that nine-patch quilt from them last week, and just thought I'd mention that the top Is finished, in case you might have thought I had abandoned it-- not so!  Although it does need to be quilted now.  Hmm.  I quilted 3 this week and will have 3 more to quilt when I finish the scrap quilt. Maybe I'll use it as the back of the other one.  That'll kill 2 birds with one stone. So to speak.  I would never kill birds.  Not with stones or any other method.  I love birds.
 Oh, I popped into the store to see the new fabrics and there were no Christmas fabrics there after all!  Instead we got about 25 batiks (about half of what we've been waiting for), the new Nancy Halvorson/ Art to Heart line: Garden song, which is lovely, and has a book that features the  fabrics. Very Pretty.
Then we got the new French General group called "Rural Jardin", I think, which again has those gorgeous reds, with "oyster" and some nice blues this time.
We also got some other stuff as well!  I'll drop by there later today to refresh my memory.  Have a great day!

Monday, April 19, 2010

time to quilt

 This morning has been a time to baste, now it is time to quilt. You might have noticed, but were too polite to mention, that I seem to be accumulating quilt tops again.   I do like to sew quilt tops.  I think my favorite part of all is when some blocks have been sewn together and you can set them together and start to see how the quilt will look.  Also, cutting out the fabrics is a lot of fun.  I rather like the quilting part, as long as I get into the zone and nothing acts up with the thread or tension, but the basting is always a bit of an obstacle.  I think this is because it entails crouching on the floor and throwing around big chunks of bulky batting.  Also I don't really enjoy piecing the backs together, which I find awkward to manipulate those big pieces of fabric.

 Well that's enough whining, this morning I have basted these three quilts, which I admit are all smaller sized. 
As for the garden report, I can see that some grass outside my window is now definitely green.  
In the backyard shed, I have planted some seeds, (monarda and purple coneflower, some lily bulbs) and broken up a hens and chicks that I had in the house over the winter:

  The columbine:
 The robins have been hanging around the yard.  Some of them are quite fat. 
Guess it's time to quilt!
Oh, I checked our orders and we should be getting in a huge fabric order today, probably our long-overdue batiks and, --can you believe it-- Christmas collections!!!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Report on Saturday.

Yesterday I took a trip to the garden center to "look around".  Brought home a couple of these columbine that I like a lot.  I had some a few years ago, but left them behind when we moved.  They are sort of hard to find later on, so I got them early.    I had been to the Farmer's market on 19th St a little earlier and there was a seller who had a lot of herbs available.  Her stall was pretty crowded so I didn't get a close look.
At the shop later, it was nice to see some regular customers to chat with.  I picked out some fabrics for a Kid's Disappearing nine-patch quilt kit:

The large floral on the left is what I had tentatively picked for the border, and the other fabrics were ones I just liked. 
Last night i thought I'd start the blocks, and within an hour had them all sewn, but not sewn together yet, this is what they look like on the floor:

I might shift them around a bit more before sewing them together, as I'm not sure that I like the 6 blue/green ones so evenly spaced in the center.  I think I might take it back and try some other possible border fabrics with it -- maybe the dark orange Amy Butler one would be nice?

Finally finished reading "The Children's Book", by A.S. Byatt, one of my favorite authors.  It was very long, about 600 pages? but it was mostly quite enjoyable, altho in a few sections it felt like a history lecture.  The story took place from about 1890 to 1918 among that group of people in England who adhered to the Fabian/ William Morris way of life.  This morning I started a new book by John Irving, "Last Night in Twisted River" --another long one, looks like. 
Another gorgeous day out here, hope you have a great day wherever you are!!

Friday, April 16, 2010

New socks

Today was a lovely day to spend outdoors, cleaning up the yard and the back shed.
Later in the afternoon I took my knitting outside with a glass of wine.  As I knitted, I noticed that the wine was the same color as one of my yarns.  I got this yarns earlier this week, they are wool and alpaca/wool blends that are locally produced.  I love this yarn. I first got some a couple months ago that I've been crocheting a granny squares afghan, but in some other colors.  It is such a bouncy wool, and I've been eager to knit something with it.  So I decided that a pair of socks would be a good idea.  They are on size 2.25mm needles until the pattern is done, and then they switch to size 2mm for the bottom part of the sock to do all in white. The green is very cheery at this time of year before anything outside has really turned green-- except a few things are starting to emerge. 
I do a yard inspection every day to see what is happening.  This is the monkshood, which is about 4 inches tall.
The weather forecast for the weekend is looking great, so I hope you get out and enjoy it!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Geometry and the unexpected

Recently I did a post called "Turn that Quilt on it's Side"( on March 23).  This is a way of sewing blocks together in a straight grid setting and then cutting and resewing the top so that it turns into an "on-point" or diagonal setting.  I like this technique because it is faster to sew, in my opinion.  A couple of years ago, I did a pattern using this technique called "Charmed: A Ninepatch quilt".  When developing that pattern, and then later in another pattern using this technique with rail-fence blocks, I discovered some things that I did not expect!!!
Namely, that it is not always as predictable as you might expect when it comes to the relationship between the grid size that you start out with and the shape that you get when you do this diagonal cutting technique.
So, I have decided that I should share with you the arcane and intricate details of what happens!! (in case you decide to do this and alter the sizes!!!)

First, my scientific method was as follows:
1. I drew a simple quilt on my EQ6 program.
2. I printed it out with different grid proportions, for example, 4 x 6 blocks, 5 x 5 blocks, 6 x 6 blocks, etc.
3. I then cut the paper quilt apart, as I would do the quilt top, and then taped them together again to see what shape it became. ---this is the Unpredictable part!
4.  Later on, I also tried out the same method, but using alternating blocks, like a checkerboard, to see which grids would "work" -- that is, which would retain the checkerboard pattern and which ones would Not Work.

Are you still with me?
Good, then it is time for the pictures!

In this first example, the grid was 4 x 6 blocks.  After cutting and resewing, this is what it'll look like: (the drawings show the proportions, but not the exact measurements.)  nb. this is the same proportion as a 2 x 3 grid, or a 6x 9 grid, or a 8 x 12 grid, etc.

It looks pretty good!

But if you start with a 5 x 6 grid, it looks good with the straight grid, but not so good when you turn it on the diagonal-- it looks too tall and skinny:

when you start with a 4 x 8 grid (or a 2 x 4, or a 3 x 6, or a 6 x 12 grid, etc ), it looks tall and skinny to start with, but it turns into a square quilt!!!

If you start with a 5 x 7 grid the proportions look good,  and it is fine to use with certain blocks.

But! be careful if you are using an alternate squares setting:

If you look carefully, you can see that the checkerboard pattern has been disrupted.

So, what I would recommend is that if you plan to turn a quilt on it's size, it is a good idea to draw out a sketch on paper, then physically cut it apart and tape it together to see what it will look like down the road...

I hope this has been useful! michelle

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