Friday, May 29, 2015

On the Design Wall

I swear I don't know where the time goes. The color of the month for May for the Rainbow Scrap Challenge was green, and I finished up my green ribbon this morning. I stayed mostly on the cool side of green; and since green will appear in my quilt more than once, I set aside a pile of warmer greens for future use.

This green ribbon is adjacent to the blue one and is also the last one on the right side of the quilt, so there are plain squares at the edge that make a border on that side of the quilt. I'm getting a little more daring with multicolor prints in these ribbons because it seems to be more interesting than plain tone on tones.

See what others are working on here.

I also finished up the yellow Dakota Farmer blocks from last year's RSC and started sewing some of the blocks together. This block was from Bonnie Hunter's "Addicted to Scraps" column in Quiltmaker magazine, and she has a layout for it on her blog. I just realized this morning, looking at the picture, that there's a border of 3" dark blue half square triangles around the whole quilt. Not sure yet if I'll actually add that border, but probably. Perhaps it will look unfinished otherwise.

Orange is the last color that goes in the quilt, and I've started cutting for those. All throughout the quilt, I tried to use background prints that were white or off-white with motifs matching the same color as the stars and not repeat them more than twice. I've managed to pull that off so far, but I just don't have enough background prints with orange in them to make this last batch of seven blocks work that way. Sue Nichols uses all those fancy embroidery stitches built into her machine to create her own backgrounds, so I might try that with a few of mine. Coincidentally there's an article in the Quiltmaker magazine that just hit the newsstands with the very same idea.

I have a little bit more quilting to do on the Cascadia quilt. I'm just doing some quilting in the ditch as it doesn't really need much to hold the layers together. Sometimes I wish I had time to do some hand quilting, but I'd never get it done. Besides I'm not sure I could hand quilt without a hoop, and this little quilt measures about 16" x 17".

This colorful fellow showed up at the bird feeder the other day. I was very surprised to see a pair of Baltimore Orioles at the feeder last fall, and evidently they've come back. The photo doesn't do that gorgeous orange color justice.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Purple Ribbon

I have been awfully busy (aren't we all?) the last month and a half with spring cleaning, a trip to Maryland, knitting and quilting (of course), and a myriad of other tasks. The color of the month for the Rainbow Scrap Challenge was purple, and I did actually get the purple ribbon finished last month. Just never got it posted.

The purple ribbon adjoins the yellow one, and now you can more clearly see the two different blocks that make up this quilt (bottom photo). Simple, eh?

Onward to green!

See what others are working on for the RSC here.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

It's Not Plaid!

I finished up the triangles for the outer border of the triangles quilt and got it quilted and bound a few days ago. This was the leaders and enders project I worked on while I was finishing up Patrick's Plaids. It was such a nice respite from the many hours I spent making plaid blocks that I decided to name it It's Not Plaid! Two finishes for March! Yay!

It's Plaid

My friend's quilt, now called Patrick's Plaids, is finally quilted, labeled, bound, de-linted, photographed, and packaged for delivery. I promised her it would be done by the time she came home from Florida, and I'm so pleased I've met this deadline.

I quilted it with a feather pantograph called Paris. Then I worried all the way through the quilting process that the thread color was too dark, but everyone who has looked at it so far seems to think it's okay. I emailed pictures to my friend, and she seems very pleased.

My friend Chris has come into the yarn shop on many occasions with a couple different versions of this crocheted handbag, and I have admired them. I asked if she would make me one in exchange for working on her quilt, and she agreed. She gave it to me early on in the quiltmaking process, and I decided I wouldn't use it until I finished her quilt. So this is my reward, and I'm excited to be able to finally use it!

Part of the appeal of Chris's crocheted bags is that they're lined with old denim jeans, and she does a perfect job sewing in the linings. Mine has five pockets inside the bag, and it tickles me that the zippered pocket is the fly from a pair of jeans.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Rainbow Scrap Challenge -- Yellow Ribbon

It's been a really busy month trying to finish some things up, but I only realized last night that I haven't posted since the end of February. I thought it had only been a couple of weeks.

I think I like waiting until the last week of the month to get my RSC blocks for the month done. Most of that time seems to be spent choosing and cutting the squares for the ribbon and arranging them. The actual sewing doesn't take long. This month's color was yellow, but I was having trouble getting the yellows to contrast enough to create the ribbon, so I followed the example in my book and threw in a bunch of rusty colors. Sometimes I have trouble telling the difference between those old golds and cheddar yellows and the rusty colors anyway, so it seemed like a good thing to do. I won't be making an orange ribbon though; and when orange is selected as the color of the month, I'll make a brown one since there is more than one brown ribbon in my quilt layout. I think this is my favorite ribbon so far.

You can see what others are working on for the Rainbow Scrap Challenge here.
I worked on my small triangles quilt as a Leaders and Enders project concurrently with my friend's plaid quilt, and it worked out well. Both those quilts are nearly finished now, and I'll put those up on the blog in the next couple of days. While I was putting together the yellow ribbon this weekend, I worked on this little mini quilt called Cascadia as the next Leaders and Enders project. I spent quite some time cutting and sewing the two-patches; and with that work already done, the strips went together quickly. I have two more strips to make to finish Part 1.

Cascadia was a mystery quilt from Lori's blog, Humble Quilts.  She posted the first part to her blog in November of last year, but I didn't discover it until quite recently and wanted to make it. Lori evidently does some mini quiltalongs from time to time, as I've found a few others on her blog. There's another one called Mountain Trail that I really want to make too.
Next month I start the serious work on the wedding quilt, and I have a new project picked out for the next Leaders and Enders quilt while I'm doing that.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Brioche. . .

. . .knitting, that is. This afternoon I took a little skillbuilding class at my LYS on brioche knitting. It was not a project class, although I did buy a skein of Cascade Superwash 220 and a skein of Painted Desert in a worsted weight to make a two-color cowl.

We spent quite some time playing around with the pattern; and after a number of times casting on and ripping out, I finally produced a small swatch. By the time I finally understood the technique, I realized it's actually pretty simple. It seems to be nothing more than knit 2 togethers, slip stitches, and yarn overs, complicated by fancy sounding names and maneuvers that are the same as the basic knitting stitches we already know. I don't think it's any more complicated than lace work; and in fact, basic brioche in one color is easier.

That is not to say, however, that it can't get complicated. We didn't have much time left in the class to try a small swatch of two-color brioche, but I did get a smaller swatch made. I knit a few rows of garter stitch first, then started the brioche pattern. You can see the pattern developing, with a row of vertical knit stitches in the burgundy color. On the reverse side, there's a corresponding row of vertical stitches in the peach color. It's reversible, which is so cool.

From what I've read, two-color flat brioche (as in a scarf) is more challenging than two-color brioche in the round (like a cowl), so if you can figure it out flat, knitting in the round should be easier.

On Ravelry, I've seen brioche patterns for hats, which means increases and decreases; patterns with cables; and brioche sweaters. I intend to try it all; but for now, I'll start with a basic cowl in one color. And that's after I get my two big quilts finished! has a free e-book on Brioche that explains the technique pretty well, but sign up is required (it's free). If they inundate you with daily emails, you can set your preference for a weekly review or none at all.

Pink Ribbon Weekend

PINK was the color of the month for February's Rainbow Scrap Challenge. I spent much of last weekend working on the pink ribbon and finished it up during the week. I worked on 30 blocks for this one, like last month, and you can see the top and bottom halves of the ribbons. Once finished, the quilt will be about 70" in length, and right now I can't get far enough away from the design wall to get a photo of the whole ribbon.

I used fabrics with a little more texture and pattern this month, and one or two with little bits of another color in them, and I think I like that more.

You can see what others are doing for this month's Rainbow Scrap Challenge here.

Today will be mostly a knitting day, with a Brioche class this afternoon, post to follow. I think it's just a skill builder, but I'm going to find a pattern for a cowl on Ravelry and take that with me.

There was no snow in the long range forecast, but now I see we're expecting another 1-3 inches on Sunday, and more on Wednesday. Is it spring yet?

Friday, February 27, 2015

February Finish

Yesterday I stitched out the label, added it to the quilt, and sewed the binding on the first side of the Carpenter's Star quilt. This evening I finished sewing the second side of the binding, took the photo, and then it went right into the wash. I reread the rules for a Quilt of Valor quilt, and apparently they'd like you to wash before you ship. The pillowcase will get done Sunday.

I worked feverishly all day on plaid blocks. They are easy enough to put together but time consuming. I need 49 blocks and have 8 left to sew. I think now, I'll probably start sewing rows together and use the last 8 blocks as leaders and enders. At least I'll feel like I'm getting along with it a little faster.

I'm also thinking it's not looking good to get the wedding quilt done by mid April. I generally work pretty well under pressure, but this is a lot of pressure! We'll see.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Projects for a Snowy Month

Everyone in New England must be having the same problem right now, where to put all the snow. We had another blizzard-like storm a few weeks ago that dumped 10 more inches of snow; and since then it seems we've had a storm every four or five days with another 3-4 inches of snow. The snow in the yard is up to my waist now, with huge piles all around from snowblowing and plowing. Our trailer in the yard has disappeared from view, as has most of the woodpile. And we had another four inches this morning. Nothing in the forecast now until March 8, when we are supposed to get 12-15, according to the long range forecast. Not that I'm buying that. The weather people haven't had a good track record predicting weather accurately this winter.

It's been extremely cold here as well, as it has been elsewhere in the country. Yesterday morning when hubby went off to work, the temp was -27 degrees. Most days it might warm up to the teens during the day, if we're lucky. I hate the thought of going out in the cold, so I have been hunkered down in the basement, sewing like a  madwoman.

I currently have 6 or 7 projects actively in work. Some are ongoing and only get worked on a few days a month, like the Rainbow Scrap Challenge. A couple are projects I'm trying to finish up. Patrick's Plaids is one of two queen-sized quilts I'm trying to finish before mid-April, so these blocks are my main focus for the rest of the week.

One of my knitting pals lost her son nearly a decade ago, and she began making a quilt with his shirts. She got all the four-patch units made; and then I don't think she worked on it again, so I offered to finish it for her. The blocks are a bit challenging to make because they're actual shirtings, not the shirtings we find at the quilt shop; so a few of them fray a lot or are kind of squiggly to sew, but it's getting done. The blocks will eventually be sashed in white with navy cornerstones, then a navy border, then a piano key border. My friend had a very different border treatment in mind, but I'm not sure if I'll be able to implement it. We'll see.

As I've been working on the plaid blocks, I started putting together the top of a Carpenter's Star quilt as a leaders and enders project. One of the gals in our quilt chapter did this as a workshop for us at the beginning of February, sort of a "sew one and you're done" quilt. Each square in the quilt finishes to 6", so you can make a large quilt fairly quickly. I've seen some variations on this pattern on Pinterest and would definitely make this again if I needed a quilt in a hurry. Anyway, since the finished quilt was within the size guidelines for a Quilt of Valor, I decided to make mine in red, white and blue and donate it accordingly. I think both the national organization and also our state rep are conducting a block drive right now, so I'm just donating a whole quilt.

The top looked quite plain to me after I got it together, even with the different cream backgrounds, so I used a variegated red-white-blue thread for the quilting, and I like it better. I've cut red binding for the quilt which will add a little more interest, and hopefully someone will like it. The binding is made, but I must stitch out and attach a label before I can apply the binding; and I still have a pillowcase to make, a presentation case, if you will.

After the Carpenter's Star top was finished, I needed another leaders and enders project, so I started sewing the units for the triangle quilt together. I constructed the top in quarter sections, which is my new favorite way to assemble a top. The quilt looked too plain to me with the cream and dark borders, so I added triangle units to the corners. Better, but then it looked unfinished to me, so I'm adding a row of triangles all the way round. Then, I think, it will be finished.

Because these were waste triangles, the small triangles finish to 1-1/4"; so the whole quilt top will not be larger than about 40" square. A good size for a small wallhanging.

Back to the plaid blocks.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Some Finishes

It's been quite a while since I've posted, so there's a lot to catch up. I blogged about the Triangle Tangle quilt and the Poppers quilt in December. Both were quilted and finished last month.

This last one, finished this month, was a recliner quilt for my brother-in-law. I needed something masculine and relatively quick to make, and this fit the bill. The fabrics came from the Alpine Woods collection from Benartex, as did the pattern, Mountain View Lodge. I simplified the pattern and reduced the size of the blocks so I could have a little bit smaller quilt. I sure like how it turned out. I have one more panel and some extra fabric leftover, so I will probably make one similar for hubby or maybe one of the kids.


Tuesday's blizzard was a real doozy--winds gusting up to 50 mph, bitter cold wind chills; and as near as we could figure, we got at least a foot and a half of snow. I don't know if I've ever seen it snow that hard. Yesterday we had another storm that started in the morning and finally stopped about midmorning this morning, and dumped another 10 inches. Monday the weatherman is predicting 5-8 inches, and there's another storm rolling in Wednesday.

I'm glad the snow is happening this month instead of in December. My older son was not able to get home from upstate New York for Christmas, so we packed everything up and took Christmas down to him. Wouldn't have gotten to see him if we'd had all these storms.

The neighbors spent all morning digging out from yesterday's storm, and there is just so much snow everywhere. Hubby had to rake the roof, and now there's a pile of snow nearly 6 feet high in the back under the kitchen window.

My sewing studio is in the basement of our home, but I keep a small sewing table and a machine upstairs in the spare bedroom. In the spring and fall, I like to sit up there and sew, enjoy the breeze coming through the window, listen to a few tunes, or just enjoy the quiet in the neighborhood.

Tuesday I sat in front of the window and sewed and watched the storm. I worked on a couple sets of triangles for two different quilts. These triangles were waste triangles left over from my Bali Stars quilt that I finished last year. I had bunches of them, so I used a few to make this mini a while back. 

I continued to make triangle units with the rest of the waste triangles and sewed up a bunch of larger half square triangle units as well. The project languished because I wanted a different layout from the mini and couldn't figure out what I wanted to do. Finally this week I came across a small photo in an old quilt magazine that used the same units. It was some scrap quilt book by Fons and Porter; but I recently saw this same design on Pinterest, so I really don't know who to attribute it to. Anyway, I love it, so I'm using it. There will be a couple of narrow borders, I think.

On Tuesday afternoon I also worked on some triangles for a quilt I'm making by Edyta Sitar of Laundry Basket quilts. She has gorgeous designs, and I have several of her books. In order to make a queen-sized quilt, I need 784 half square triangle units. I'm about halfway there, I guess, so lots of sewing left to do.
I have the Inklingo software by Linda Franz, and my new favorite way to make bunches of half square triangle units is to print out a grid on paper and sew them up. I could print directly to fabric if I wanted, but it's so much easier for me to see the lines on the paper, and I don't mind ripping the paper off after.

I think this must be the same thing as Thangles, but with Inklingo I have the ability to print out many triangles quickly and in multiple sizes. If you have neither Inklingo or Thangles, you could draw a grid yourself.

I layer my two fabrics right sides together, pin the paper to the fabrics, and then sew all the lines for the triangles.

The dotted lines are sewing lines, and the solid lines are cutting lines.

Once the triangles are cut apart, the dog ears are trimmed away, the paper is removed, and the triangles are ready to be pressed open. No further squaring up is necessary. Simple, precise, and fast.

Rainbow Scrap Challenge 2015 - January

Even though I haven't finished the blocks for last year's Rainbow Scrap Challenge, I'm going to do it again this year. I'll be making almost four times as many blocks each month this year, but they're considerably easier to put together. I managed to get another set of last year's Dakota Farmer blocks done a few weeks ago, in blues. Two more sets to go for 2014, yellows and oranges, and I'll be ready to put that top together.

I was very interested in Angela's Sampler for this year's challenge but felt I wanted something less complicated. I have two big quilts I have to get done before mid-April and was worried about getting behind, so I'm going to save the directions and maybe do it next year instead.

For this year's challenge, I'm making blocks for a quilt called Twisted Ribbons. It's from a book by Elsie Campbell called Nine Patch and Snowball Quilts. It's an older book, from 2003, but I've wanted to make this particular quilt for a long time. The color for January is blue, and these are the blocks for the first ribbon, made with 15 snowball blocks and 13 nine patch blocks. No borders per se on this quilt, so quick and easy.
Each ribbon segment is made up of one snowball block and one nine patch block. Both blocks will eventually have squares and triangles added to the opposite sides in a different color for an adjoining ribbon. There will be 12 ribbons, which will take me through to the end of the year, but I may change up Angela's colors a little bit. In the quilt in my book, the author combined yellows and oranges in the same ribbon, so I'm not sure what I'll do for that yet.

There's a Mr. Linky on Saturdays on Angela's blog so you can see what other quilters are working on, here.