Tuesday, October 14, 2014

The Clock Quilt

The project I have spent so many months working on was finally finished on September 24. It was to be a gift for my husband's birthday in October, and I also wanted to enter it in our local quilt show at the end of October as well; so everything else fell by the wayside so I could make those deadlines. Emails frequently went unanswered, blogging was nearly nonexistent, housework didn't get done, and social events were sometimes missed. Hubby has seen the quilt now, so I can finally blog about it.

Back in 2006, the online website Planet Patchwork, who sponsors the info-EQ listserv, sponsored a contest for Electric Quilt users to submit their best original designs. $1250 in cash and prizes was to be awarded for designs entered in three categories, plus a Best in Show award.
This amazing quilt, called "Time Out", designed by Lynne Chambliss, was awarded Best in Show, along with a prize purse of $500. You can see the winners here. Subsequently Planet Patchwork published a CD of all the designs entered into the contest, and I purchased a copy of the CD and found Lynne's design.

I remember thinking at the time that, while it was fantastic that anybody could draw that, no one would ever actually make it. How could you? But I was drawn to the design, particularly because my husband, and his father, and his grandfather all tinkered with pendulum clocks throughout their lives. In recent years hubby has made a hobby of buying and restoring old pendulum clocks. We presently have 13 in the house and more were given away to family members.

In 2010 I came across my CD again and decided to see if I could put this together. I figured if I could make what I thought was the hardest block, I might be able to actually make the whole quilt. I started with the bevel gear in the upper left corner and made it successfully. I made a couple more blocks, then other things intervened, and I set it aside until this year and finally finished it. This is my finished quilt.

Lynne's original design was comprised of 20 blocks that finished to 8" square. I didn't think I could piece those tiny gears in rows 3 and 5 at that size, so I made my blocks 12". Even at 12", those tiny gears finished to 3". My quilt finishes to 52" x 64".

There was very little actual piecing in the quilt, other than sometimes piecing the backgrounds and sewing the blocks together. The bevel gear in the upper left corner, the worm gear in row 4, and all of the arcs with the little pieces in them were all foundation pieced. All of the curved arcs were then sequenced, fused into place, and machine buttonhole stitched. Then the blocks were sewn into rows, the rows were joined, center circles and numbers were fused and stitched. Then, of course, the borders were added.

From the design on the EQ software, I was able to print out line drawings of each block and the foundation patterns I needed for the paper piecing. The other tool that turned out to be enormously useful was transparent foundation paper from Nancy's Notions. Being able to see through the paper was crucial to line up all those curved arcs. I can't imagine how I might have been able to make the blocks without that see-through paper. The next best thing about Nancy's paper is that it's crisp enough to feed through the printer, and 100 sheets is about $13, which I think is quite reasonable. I probably used most of a package for the quilt.

I think the quilt probably would have benefited from custom quilting; but after purchasing a long arm several years back, my husband takes pride in the fact that I am able to complete an entire quilt from start to finish by myself. I knew that would be an issue for him; and indeed, that was the first thing he wanted to know--who quilted it.
I didn't want a complicated design that might detract from the blocks, and I don't do custom work myself; so I used a pantograph called Inkblot, which is  nothing more than a meander. Besides, I could only work on the quilt when he was at work, so I had to get it loaded on the frame and quilted in one day, before he got home.



I first started trying to locate designer Lynne Chambliss back in 2012. Every now and then I would see another of her designs on the EQ website, so I knew she was still around. One day I left a message for her as a comment under one of her designs but never heard anything. Finally, this year in desperation, I contacted the Electric Quilt company to ask for their help, and they forwarded my email to Lynne. I've shared photos with her as well. Interestingly, Lynne said she'd never made the quilt herself but has made a different quilt based on the Time Out design.



I even managed to find clock themed fabric for the back of the quilt.

In thinking about a name for the quilt, I came up with all kinds of name referencing the concept of time. Nothing seemed to suit, and then it struck me that the quilt I made for my husband really had nothing to do with time. It was about his love for the mechanics of the pendulum clock, so I named it simply Clockworks.

He LOVES it!

Sunday, October 12, 2014

October Finish

The landscape in Maine is full of autumn color, the days are cool and crisp, and we had a frost this morning. There will be lots of cleanup to do in the yard over the next month--raking leaves, cutting down the hostas, and mulching the beds. I do love this time of year.

We traveled to Lubec last weekend for a little mini vacay. I had hoped to see more color in the trees; but Lubec is downeast on the coast of the Bay of Fundy, and I suppose the ocean temps kept it more moderate. Lubec and the surrounding area is known for wild Maine blueberries, and the fields turn this gorgeous red color in the fall.

The Bali Stars quilt is finally finished. I'd been dragging my feet hand sewing the binding because I was focused on another big project, but I knocked off the last bit of it this afternoon. This was the cover quilt on Kim Brackett's Scrap Basket Surprises book, and I liked it soon as I saw it. Scrappy and batik--right up my alley. My quilt chapter is holding a quilt show at the end of this month, and this is one of the quilts I'm putting in the show.


I quilted it with a pantograph called Glamorous. I don't do feathers freehand (yet), and who doesn't love feathers?

Knitting has been my sanity lately, and I've finished a couple of sweaters and another pair of socks in the last few months. The purple one is Notre Dame de Grace and will be for the winter, made with Berroco Remix, one of my very favorite yarns. You can find the pattern on Ravelry. If you're not a member, you should be; it's an invaluable resource for knitters, and it's free to join.

The tweedy looking one is a summer sweater made with a yarn from Debbie Bliss. Never got a chance to wear it because it was the end of summer and the weather turned too fast.

And the socks were made out of Crazy Zauberball. First time I used that yarn, and I gave those to a friend who needed them.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Some Progress

A couple of particularly challenging projects have consumed most of my quilting time these days, but I have made progress on a few other projects. I'm working on the last quarter of the second Curvy quilt--finally--and hope to have the top finished by the end of the month. I am going out of town two days this week, and that cuts into my quilting time, but I WILL get this finished up in September, and the colors make it a nice quilt for autumn.

This little quilt, which will be donated, was a kit from a local quilt shop. There wasn't much piecing involved other than the borders, it just took a while to get around to quilting it. There was no pattern information per se, but the kit was called "Safe Harbour".

I finished the quilting on my Bali Stars quilt this morning and took it off the frame. I probably finished this top a couple years ago, and.... it just took a while to get around to quilting it. I am SO happy to say that this is my last big quilt top that had to be quilted. What a good feeling it is to finally be done with everything in the RTQ pile. All I have left are some minis, which are in their own separate pile, and I'll probably do them on my domestic.

I used a pantograph with feathers called "Glamorous", and I love how the quilting turned out. I've had my longarm now for about four years, and I still marvel at being able to make all my own quilts from start to finish.

The pattern for Bali Stars is the cover quilt from Kim Brackett's book, Scrap Basket Surprises.

I learned about the Rainbow Scrap Challenge from someone else's blog last December, but I haven't made much headway. The idea is that a color is chosen the first day of the month, and participants make whatever block they wish and as many as they wish. Every Saturday, the ScrapHappy blog owner puts up a Mr. Linky so participants can share their progress. It's a fun way to get some ideas and see what others are doing.

I chose a 6-inch Dakota Farmer block that was featured in Bonnie Hunter's "Addicted to Scraps" column in Quiltmaker magazine. Bonnie had a drawing on her blog (I think) of how she might put the blocks together, and I liked it, so I ran with it. To complete a small quilt, I need 7 blocks in each of 7 different colors, 49 blocks total. The color last month was red, and I think that's the only month so far that I've managed to get all 7 blocks done. It's not that the blocks take so long to assemble, it's that I'm trying not to use more than two of each fabric in a set of 7, so rummaging through the scrap bins and cutting up the scraps has taken way too much time.

Our local quilt chapter is having its first quilt show for the community in October, and we thought it would be fun for each member to have an apron to wear for the quilt show and maybe some future events as well. We chose a loon from Embroidery Library and added the lettering for the chapter name. Then each member chose which thread color she wanted and the name she wanted embroidered on her apron.

We parceled out some 45 or 50 aprons to a small group of us who own embroidery machines, and I finished my requisite six aprons last Sunday. What a nice idea, huh?

I always have projects on the needles, and I finished a little summer cardigan several weeks ago. The owner of my LYS came up with the pattern from Ravelry. I used a denim yarn, Jesse from Louisa Harding, which has body to it and was perfect for a cardigan. The original pattern, called Emma by Deb Hoss, is a pullover top, but I got help learning how to change the pattern into a cardigan and how to raise the neckline because the original was a lot lower than I preferred. It was a fun knit, and it's been fun to wear.

The weather has been surprisingly cool this summer, which is my kind of weather. One morning last week it was 46 degrees when my husband left for work. Even though it's supposed to warm up to the 80's this week, a few of the trees have already begun to change color in central Maine, so it's time to think about knitting warm sweaters for winter. This is the front of my Notre Dame de Grace sweater, another pattern from Ravelry. (If you're a knitter, and you're not a member of Ravelry, sign up now. There's no fee, and it is a tremendous resource.) I've finished knitting the back, front, and one sleeve, and hope to have the whole sweater finished by Wednesday. Actually, that's a bit ambitious, but that's what I'm aiming for.

The yarn I'm using is Berroco Remix, a mix of cotton, silk and some other fibers, and one of my favorites. Even though there's no wool in the mix, it's still a pretty warm yarn.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Catching Up To August

Good grief, the time goes by quickly. Today is a gorgeous summer day in Maine--breezy, 74 degrees, low humidity, and lots of sunshine--exactly the way a summer day should be in Maine. We've had just a few days of heat and humidity here and there, and I don't think we've hit 90 degrees yet this summer. I'm hoping August will be as nice.

We've had a good mix of rain and sun this summer as well, which has been good for the plants. The hostas are blooming...

...the black-eyed susans are blooming...

...and the tiger lilies are just coming into bloom. I'm not much of a gardener, so it's good these flowers can take care of themselves.

Cherries are in season this month too, and the local grocery has had them on sale for the last three weeks for $2.49 a pound, the lowest I've seen. I bought a couple pounds and made this Cherry Buttermilk Clafoutis, cherries in sort of a custard-type filling. The recipe came from the Relish.com website, and it was really good.

Tacoma Lakes Quilters had their summer picnic this month, and most of the chapter attended. We always have a potluck edible buffet, which is so good; and this year we tried something a little different--an Inedible Buffet. Each of the participants was asked to make identical items for each person in the group, then all the items were placed in baskets on a table, and we each went round and chose from all the different baskets.

There were 32 participants this year, so we went home with quite a variety of kitchen items, sewing notions, some fabric, and a few miscellaneous items. I think my favorite thing was an awl, something I've wanted for a while and just never bothered to pick up at the store. We had such a good time with the Buffet that we'll do it again next year.
The last weekend in July is also the month that the state guild, Pine Tree Quilters, hosts its annual show in Augusta. It seemed to me that there were fewer quilts this year, but it was a nice show. I only took a few photos of quilts I thought maybe I'd like to make sometime. This one was made by The Fabric Garden quilt shop for some kind of a contest and was one of my favorites. I thought the pattern was called Doubly Charming, but I couldn't find it on the web, so now I'm not sure.

Pineapple, made by Anne Baker

Red, White, and Blue, made by Carmen Dickinson.This was from a pattern by Bonnie Hunter called Smith Mountain Morning. I really liked it done in patriotic colors.

Just Takes 2 Blue, made by Dianne Barth. This evidently was from a block of the month designed by Brenda Papadakis of Dear Jane fame.

Dianne Hire, who is a nationally known quilter, wrote a book called App is For Applique, released in 2013 by AQS. It consists of 14 of these gorgeous, detailed applique blocks, and the 15 quilts that were made with them. Oddly enough, the author only made one block and turned it into a small quilt. MaineQuilts had the exhibit of all the quilts from the book, and they were all fantastic.

I have become quite enamored of the machine buttonhole stitch method of applique, and some of the quilts from Dianne Hire's exhibit were done this way. This block is from a quilt in the show made by Sue Nickels, who seems to do lots of quilts with this machine buttonhole stitch applique. I'm a big fan of Sue Nickels and her sister Pat Holly. 


I also took some classes at MaineQuilts this year, a couple for longarm machine quilters and one called Sliced Steps by Jane Hall. Jane Hall is the pineapple queen of the quilt world, and I have three of her books. She was a delightful teacher and shared some new ideas for paper piecing that I hadn't seen before. 

This was Jane's quilt for the class, and I'm guessing it might have measured something like 22" x 27", so a smaller quilt. A perfect little project for scraps, and not as complicated as it looks. We made a mockup from printed paper samples that Jane gave us; and since it was only a 3-hour class, most of us only got one block sewn. But it was enough to get the idea of how to do it, so I'll work on some more of these blocks. 

As for me, I have been chipping away at four sets of blocks on the design wall. The top half of the Curvy quilt is done, and I'm working on the third quarter of it; the star blocks are for the Rainbow Scrap Challenge; the plaid blocks will be for a friend of mine; and the rest are for a winter quilt designed by another friend. I'm afraid I won't get any finishes this month though.

I did finish the purple String Theory socks though. This is a really nice yarn made in Blue Hill, Maine--it's got a some cashmere in it. I'm also nearly done with a little lacy cardigan, but I've been dragging my feet getting the neckband done. I'll get there.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Catching Up to July

We weren't entirely certain if we would have summer or not because it was such a cool spring. Last week it seems to me I got up one morning and it was 59 degrees. But the heat rolled in yesterday, and the humidity rolled in this morning. I went to a friend's for lunch at noon, and it was uncomfortably warm sitting outside on her porch.

When the weather warms in the spring in Maine, growth just erupts everywhere. Hostas are planted on either side of my back walkway, and they are bigger than ever this year, and so are my ferns. I've cultivated them along the tree line, and they're huge.

I've done way more knitting than quilting in the last couple months, but I've gotten a few quilts finished up. It kinda goes in cycles, you know? Our quilt chapter works on some sort of charity project every year, and this year we are donating to Project Linus; so I finished up three strippies for the project. This bugs-in-a-jar fabric is pretty cute, I think.

I also spent some time working on a quilt that one of hubby's female friends at work wanted. I don't normally do consignment quilts, but she's a nice gal and wanted it for her daughter, who is leaving the state for a residency in Utah as a cardiac surgeon.

Quilting Treasures is evidently licensed to print Wizard of Oz fabrics, and I believe they've printed 4 or 5 collections over the years. It was tough finding fabrics that are now out of print, but we managed to find a kit on eBay with sepia toned fabrics.

The seller substituted three different fabrics for ones in the kit, which didn't present too much of a problem; but the cutting instructions in the directions were also incorrect, so cutting and sewing took more time than I anticipated.

The customer also wanted words in the quilt. Piecing letters not only would have been a headache but it also would have changed the dimensions of the quilt, and I was worried about having enough fabric as it was. Hubby came up with the brilliant idea to embroider them.  We were all pleased how the final quilt turned out.



Finally finished the grey leaf patterned socks...

...a pink baby sweater set that languished for a loooong time, waiting for seaming and  buttons...

...and the knit swirl I was working on back in April. I wanted to have it completed by May 30 so I could wear it to a concert. I actually finished it on time but never got a chance to wear it because it was an outdoor concert, and it was 50 degrees and threatening rain that evening.

The design of the sweater is brilliant. It blocked flat before the seaming was done, then I sewed the sleeve seams together and the neck seam. I shortened the sleeves, and they are absolutely perfect. A beautiful sweater that will have to wait for cooler weather before the first wearing.
































My younger son graduated in May with two Accounting degrees. He actually has one more course to complete for one of the Accounting degrees, but the university evidently decided to confer both degrees in May, then he gets his diplomas in December when he finishes up. Poor kid has been in school for nearly seven years. He spent two years in community college and earned an Associate's in Culinary Art before he started on the accounting. More skills in this horrible job market is a good thing.

I'm trying to decide what quilt projects to work on in July. I already have several projects kicking around the studio, and I've got a couple of new quilts I want to start for family. I think first up is going to have to be the Curvy quilt I started a few months ago. I taught a workshop in May for my quilt chapter and made just enough blocks to teach the class. Time to get that finished next, I guess.

Credit where credit is due: Whirlwind Quilt by QuiltingTreasures.com