Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Baltimore Christmas

I've always wanted to make a baltimore album style quilt, but I knew I'd never do one because hand applique is just so slow for me. Then Pat Holly and Sue Nichols came out with their book on machine applique, and I knew it would be achievable for me.

Three of us bought this set of patterns last year for "Baltimore Christmas", and because we all had a lot going on already, we decided we'd start it in 2012. It is available as a 12-month block of the month program with fabric packs, but I bought a complete set of patterns only, because I have plenty of scraps to make this with on my own.

This is what Block 1 is supposed to look like.

These are the fabrics I've chosen for my first block. The pieces for the first angel are fused, and I'll add the pieces for the other three before I start any sewing. I'd like to do a machine buttonhole stitch, but some of the pieces are so small I may end up using a tiny zig zag.

There is a small amount of stem stitch in some of the blocks, so I'll have to achieve some proficiency with that too.

I hate to trace onto my background fabric for anything. In the past I read of a method where the pattern is traced onto template plastic or something similar, then it's pinned to the background fabric, and you can place the pieces under the template plastic with a pair of tweezers and line them up.

Wax paper is cheap and readily available, so I traced one complete angel on my wax paper; plus a few places from the other three angels, like the wings and feet; and a few registration marks to mark the quarter points and center of my pattern.

Once I fuse all the pieces for a complete angel, I can simply rotate the wax paper, line up all my markings, and I'm ready for the second angel.

Because each angel is not symmetrical, reversing the design for tracing is necessary to maintain the same orientation as the original pattern. Of course if there were lettering (and there's not), reversing the design would be crucial so the letters would read correctly. Tracing my design on wax paper allows me to flip the wax paper over and trace my actual pattern pieces onto the fusible. I traced my design onto the wax paper with a sharpie, so it shows up well through the fusible.

First Finish for 12 in 2012 Challenge

I went back and counted, and I knitted 10 pairs of socks in 2011, so 12 in 2012 shouldn't be a big stretch. I wouldn't mind trying to get some other knitting done too, but the challenge will keep me on track with the socks.

These lime green anklets are for my daughter-in-law. I finished these the other day. After they're blocked, they're going in the mail.

This pair is already in the works for February. I loved this yarn when I saw it, but I wouldn't have guessed it would knit up like this. I guess I thought the striping would be more distinct, and I'm not sure if I like it or not. The other thing that bothers me is that the colors look nice and bright in the skein, but they seem dull in the actual sock.

I like to work on two socks at a time, switching back and forth; but I can't start the mate for this pair yet because I only have the one skein of yarn. So next up will be a pair for my sister-in-law.

These are the only socks I made last year that I actually kept. The others were all given away as gifts, and I only remembered to take pictures of a couple pair.

Orca Bay Part 3

I don't know how anyone can be bored in this life because I always have a million things to do, and I just don't have time to be bored.

The last week and a half has been busy, as always. We drove up north a week ago Saturday to do some shopping and visit with my son, and we've spent the rest of the time trying to finish up some renovation work in the basement.

All 350 half square triangle units required for Part 3 of the Orca Bay mystery are done. They took so much longer than I thought. The actual sewing was fast enough, but it took hours to cut up several hundred squares to make them. There are another 224 squares required for an upcoming part, so I just cut all of them at the same time, which will save me time later. My favorite method of making half square triangle units is to make it big and whack it off, so all that trimming after the units are sewn takes time too.

Next up are the red string triangle units for the flying geese. I've made probably 20 of these so far. The rest will take some time as I'm sewing 8-10 strings on each square foundation, and I need 64 of them.

Bonnie Hunter wasn't kidding when she said she liked "intense piecing".

Friday, January 6, 2012

Orca Bay Part 2

All my blue string blocks are done-- finished the last of them late this evening. They were fun, and I'll make these little string pieced blocks again in another project.

Part 3 calls for 350 half square triangle units. I already have 120 sewn, and the rest will go quickly. I probably won't get back to them until Sunday though, because we are headed north tomorrow to visit my son.

It snowed most of the day today, light snow with about an inch of accumulation. The weather has been strange this winter. We had a warmup at the end of December, then it got bitter cold for several days. But we have NO snow on the ground other than the inch we got today, which might not bode well for plants that need a blanket of snow to protect them from the deep cold. Hope the weather is decent tomorrow.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Orca Bay Mystery

Bonnie Hunter started posting the parts for her annual mystery quilt, Orca Bay, in November. There were 8 parts altogether, posted over a period of about 7 weeks. All of the parts have now been posted, and the full quilt has been revealed.

I started working on mine shortly after Part 1 was posted in November and finished probably 50 of 224 double hourglass units before Part 2 was posted. It was all sort of downhill from there. I did as Bonnie suggested, doing a few units from each part if you couldn't keep up. A good idea, and I was going right along up to about Part 5, and then things got too busy because of the holidays.

After New Year's I went back and started again with Part 1, and tonight I finished all 224 double hourglass units. Yay! I feel like all I've done for weeks is make double hourglasses. Doesn't really look like 224 little blocks, does it?

For Part 2, I need 72 cute little blue string blocks. I managed to get 40 of those sewn up last month, so only 32 to go. Tomorrow is a sew day at Koleen's, so I'll get the rest done tomorrow.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Happy New Year

I don't usually make New Year's resolutions because I never keep them, but this year I'm making an exception because there are a few things I'd really like to do this year.

Resolution #1: Manage my time better.

All last year I quizzed my friends about how they structure their days because they seem to get so much more done than I do. Time management is an elusive thing for me, and I recognize that I waste a lot of it and really could accomplish so much more. So this year I'm going to try to make some inroads with this. I really don't have a strategy for accomplishing this yet, other than "Just Do It".

Resolution #2: Get back to blogging.

Back in July when I stopped blogging, it was because my husband went on travel for a month, and I was left with trying to keep up with yardwork and some other things along with all my regular chores. I was really busy last summer, and something had to give, and it was blogging. Prior to July I was rather feeling like I was spending too much time on the computer anyway, so I didn't mind giving it up. I checked my email occasionally on my iPod and rarely turned on my computer.

Truth is, I miss writing on my blog and miss reading all my favorite blogs. So I'm making the effort to get back to blogging. I just have to find the right balance so I'm not spending too much time at it.

Resolution #3: Complete at least one UFO a month.

Even though I haven't been so successful with this, I plan to keep plugging away at it. The One Project a Month challenge that Kris sponsors restarts at the end of this month, and hopefully she'll have a new blog button for it. I've already removed last year's projects from my sidebar but left the old blog button for the time being.

Resolution #4: Complete one pair of socks a month.

I actually may have made darn near 12 pair of socks last year, but this year I'll make it official. Denise Russart has launched a sock challenge, 12 in 2012, from her blog, and I signed up. There's no prize or anything, just the satisfaction of knowing I'm using up the yarn and getting socks made.

I have a few other resolutions for 2012, but I'm not feeling the same level of resolve for those, so I'll keep thinking about them. In the meantime, if anyone is still reading my blog after all this time, Happy New Year to you!