Sunday, March 29, 2009

Quilt Along, Part II

You learn a lot of things during any major project, and I certainly expect to learn a great deal from this one. I am committed to trying the methods and suggestions that Elizabeth makes in her directions as part of my attempt to take my quilting “up a notch”. The very first surprise of the quilt making process was sooner than most: I discovered that the Amy Butler fat quarters I had chosen for my block fabrics were actually half yard cuts, not fat quarters. No worries. All this means is I’ll have enough to make another quilt with them. I’ll need to if I want to keep any of them since my daughter took one look at the fabrics and called “dibs” on this quilt. It will be perfect for her next living arrangements at college – a house with three other girls and three other boys. That should be interesting.

So I cut all the fabrics. It took be three sessions; which is unusual. Ordinarily I cut everything for a quilt at one time. For this one I did two “dominant” fabrics and two companion fabrics at once, separating them for their individual blocks. I did use the card stock to keep the cut blocks all arranged as Elizabeth suggested. I have used this kind of system in the past and it works well.

I ended up re-sewing all of the Block A’s to improve my quarter inch measurement. I can’t remember if I’ve ever actually measured blocks this much, probably not, but I committed to doing all the recommended measuring as a way to improve my quilting knowledge and technical expertise. I changed to my quarter inch foot, which I do not always use when I quilt. It seemed to be the right foot for this project.

Blocks A and B were rather straight-forward. I had already decided to use seams pressed open for this project, so I was pleased when Elizabeth recommended this method. (More about this next post!) I keep a travel iron at my sewing station, so I could press seams open as I went. However, I quickly discovered that was not enough to obtain the requisite “flatness” that I desired and that Elizabeth’s pictures exhibited. Therefore, after each set of blocks I took them downstairs to my steamer and made sure the seams were firmly pressed open and the blocks laid completely flat. This helped with the final measurements.

I found that my quarter inch seam is pretty accurate, but my cutting is a little scant. I welcomed the freezer paper hint for Block C and used freezer paper on all six of those blocks.

Block D was extremely simple and went together quickly:

Blocks E and F were constructed of small pieces. I have done a lot of square in a square quilting and would ordinarily use a strip piecing method to construct these blocks. I was also a bit concerned about Elizabeth’s habit of sewing with the seams on top. I would ordinarily use the feed dogs to my advantage and place whichever of the two pieces was a tiny bit larger on the bottom. *note to self, put a comment up on Elizabeth’s blog asking why she chose this method*.
Staying true to my efforts to try new ways of doing things, I used her method exclusively for at least the first 4 blocks. I only flipped the seams to the bottom when that piece was more than a few threads longer. This would be a good time to talk abut the effect of the feed dogs on two completely identical pieces of fab ric. The feed dogs pull the bottom fabric through a bit quicker, leaving the frustrated quilter who started with “perfect” pieces, with dealing with a slight unevenness at the end of the joining. I don’t know how Elizabeth handles this, but I have decided to use it to combat any lingering desire for perfectionism that might possibly remain dormant in my psyche. Unfortunately many women suffer from entirely too much self flagellation due to perfectionism. Is it dna or learned? I don’t know, but I do know we need to stamp that sucker OUT!

I found I had that my E squares came out remarkably accurate, whereas my F squares needed every bit of freezer paper I could iron to them. Go fig.

Finally, all the blocks are ready to be displayed on my design wall – or more accurately, my design floor! I used the layout Elizabeth suggested, although I’m wondering if I should alter my blocks with the orange dots. They seem grouped a little strangely….


On to the sashing!

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Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Quilt Along

Clearly, I’ve lost my mind again. Despite the dismal failure of my insane 17 day goal to finish a knitted shawl that took me 6 months (pictures to follow), I’m jumping once more into the breach and doing a Quilt Along with the Oh Frannson Blog (Elizabeth Hartman) Mod Sampler. (Link:
I was inspired by Elizabeth’s excellent instructions, color commentary and recommendations. After a few years in the quilting biz, I really want to take my skills up a notch. Henceforth, the BAM quilt!


Elizabeth has some organizational tips, too. So here’s a picture of all my fabrics and sashing cut up and arranged. You can see the two backing fabrics in the background. I recently took another free motion quilting class. Yes, it’s the latest in a LONG series. I’ll get it eventually. Anyhow, I’m planning to follow the generous block pattern on the backing for the quilting. We’ll see how that works out later.


For now, here are the first 3 sets of blocks:
Block A
Block B

Block C

And now….drum roll please! Finally, a picture of the FINISHED silk shawl. Begun last summer during the summer Olympics and finally finished before the holidays:

Silk Shawl
I must admit it is a very lovely piece of work, even if it did take me MUCH longer to knit than I ever expected. Still, I appreciated the challenge and I still love lace knitting.

More soon.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Still Playing Catch-Up

Here are a couple more projects I haven’t posted about yet.

First, a wonderful stitching project on felted wool. This goodie will be an adorable pear needle case when it’s finished. Yes, I know I have a “thing” about needle cases. Let’s just not go there, shall we? A lot of the embroidery is finished on this project. Next I will begin putting together some of the pieces and adding a lot of buttonhole stitch embroidery on the edges.


I previously did a Strawberry Needle Case in this same style and I love it! I use it all the time for my basic needle case when I am doing my embroidery work. Here’s a picture of it:



I also have a hand painted box I am lining with silk for some of my needlework tools and projects. This box was designed and painted for the Sampler Guild I belong to. Isn’t it pretty? Doesn’t this project look like it’s going to be fun and relatively easy? The threads on top are silk weft threads I will be using to do the sewing.


Well, looks can be deceiving. VERY deceiving. I finished all of the pieces for lining this lovely box. A bottom, tufted with peal beads, 4 sides with pockets and ribbons. I enjoyed making all the pieces, and they all fit wonderfully well into my box. They all fit, that is, UNTIL I tried to put them in it all together. Lord help me – no two pieces will fit into the box at the same time. I’ve taken about a 2 month rest from this “project”. I will fix it – just as soon as my prayers are answered, or I lose it – whichever comes first! *prays for strength*


Yes, I do buy yarn – more than I should, of course. Here’s a lovely bit of Touche I hope to make a sweater out of in the not so distant future:


Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The Agony of Defeat Part I

Like most of the athletes who attended the Chinese Olympics, I, too, left Beijing without a medal. (Or even going there, but let’s not ruin the metaphor, shall we?) While it was a bit disheartening to realize I had chosen poorly with my project, I cannot help but rationalize because of the stellar results. Starting over after approximately 140 rows was clearly the right decision. Winning the Gold and having a silk shawl I would NEVER be happy with or wear would have been the loser way out.

Here is the finished triangle:


I am now nearly finished with the lace edging, some more pix soon. Still figuring out where to block the thing !

Playing catch up:

First, here’s the finished pix of the baby socks for the darling twins. I’m supposed to get to meet the little darlings soon!

Baby Socks

Second, here are the groups of squares I’ve gotten in trade at my quilt guild:




Black and White


Friday, August 15, 2008

Olympic Update

The training went well: See how innocent and simple this swatch looks?

Olympic Swatch

Progress: uncertain. Yes, knitting sportsfans, it’s been one hellofa day at the Olympic knitting pool. I knew this shawl would be challenging to finish in 17 days – that was the main reason I chose a pattern from Victorian Lace Today that was labeled “easy”.

Shawl Errortus

Either Jane Sowerby lies, or my latent dyslexia has burst suddenly on the Knitting Olympic scene and displayed itself in the most unwanted ways.

I was having huge issues with the shawl, resulting in dropped stitches, missed stitches, lost stitches and stitches gone where no knitter has gone before!

The result? A complete scratch performance.

Summer Olympics

I tore out all 140 rows on Wednesday and devised a new and more comprehensive plan to deal with this difficult race to the finish. At this point, I am hoping I can finish the triangle of 230 rows before the closing ceremonies and the torch is extinguished. If I get even one side of the triangle finished with the lace trimming, it will be an Olympic Triumph!

Shawl Correctus

Here are the first hundred rows in all their newly knitted perfection!

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Booties and Squares!

I think my neice’s new twins need booties, don’t you?

Yes, I did make them baby quilts and baby bags, etc.

However, they are the first of the next generation in my family, so what can I say?

Here’s the latest project in process:

Booties for Josh and Jackie

I should have them finished before the Summer Olympics begin!


I am a real sucker for a swap. In fact, I have to stay away from the HGTV message boards because every time I go there I sign up for one! Fortunately, my Quilting Guild is sponsoring an exchange of charm squares. This is perfect for me! Controlled swap madness!

The next swap is “neutrals”. I have two sets of 48 squares ready to swap. I’ll get 2 sets of 48 squares in return, 2 of each 10 inch square. Here are my squares:

Neutral Squares Swap

The last swap of the year is for “Winter Frost” fabric. I wasn’t at all certain what this meant until I saw some of it at the quilt show last weekend. I bought enough to swap. It’s a mottled background with an iridescent type overlay. Very pretty! I’ll have to collect more of this fabric:

Winter Frost Squares Swap

Friday, August 01, 2008

Summer Olympics and continuing projects

I have just about decided on my project for the Summer Olympics! I have been fawning over Victorian Lace Today by Jane Sowerby since I bought it. My quandary in deciding has been how big a project I could reasonably take on within the short time period of the Olypmics: 17 days. That is not a long time for a lacework project – at least for me. I considered some of the more sophisticated scarf projects and then some of the simpler more manageable ones. I think I have finally decided to go with one of the simpler shawls. It will be a challenge in that the directions and process is taken directly from Victorian times. The laceweight yarns are fine and the stitches are not always as easy to “read” or count. Mistakes can be fatal during the best of times – and 17 days will add a great deal of pressure.

Once I get my swatch finished I think I will also practice the directions for knitting on the lace edging. I find these instructions to be less than clear, so let’s hope it doesn’t send me off looking for something entirely different to enter!

Current Embroidery Project

I pretty much dropped everything to finish up the Houswif project before the deadline of September 1st. Now that it is finished without any problems well ahead of schedule, I hope to have time to return to this embroidery project:

Country Geese

As program chair for my local Embroidery Guild, I brought in Ann Strite-Kurz as one of our special teachers this spring. This piece is called Country Geese and originally had a pair of geese stitched in the center. I will be substituting intertwined initials instead. These will be based on the Victorian Monograms and I am really excited about stitching them.

The piece is currently about two thirds finished. I am currently finishing up the “powdering” section at the very top of the piece. Here’s a close-up:


I’ve finished stitching all the flowers and am currently working on the background fill stitches. I’ve really enjoyed working on this piece; it reminded me of how much I love canvas work. I’ve spent countless hours on it already and it will take many more to finish it.

New Yarn

You know what unscheduled trips to the yarn store mean: New Yarn!

This bamboo was on sale…wonder what I’ll do with it?

lime green bamboo

Something fun, for sure!