Tuesday, January 26, 2016

First Finish for 2016

Missed my post last week, but there's little to report. Hubby and I are beginning extensive renovations in the kitchen, and renovation in one room always seems to affect three or four others. We're shifting furniture around and having to develop creative storage ideas, so not much sewing is getting done right now.

I did manage to finish the binding on Rooster Tales. I presently have blue metal cabinets in my kitchen and thought the quilt would go nicely in there, but that will all change in the next several months. Now I'm not sure what to do with this quilt, but at least it's done.

Credit where credit is due: "Checkerboard Tiles" by Bethany Reynolds.

If I hadn't been desperate to have a piece of fabric to use for the workshop (years ago), this could easily have been a what-was-I-thinking moment. I used up as much of the original fabric as I could for the back. Plus I think it's always fun to see what the original fabric looked like.

I also finished the yellow-green ribbon on the left and got most of the pieces for the red ribbon set in place. After the red ribbon is finished, I'll finally be able to sew three vertical rows together. That's progress!

 I'm coming along nicely on sister-in-law's socks. I just finished the heel gusset and started the foot.
See how the heel is checkered with gray and brown? I learned a new way to reinforce the heel area from Lucy Neatby's sock class on Craftsy. Not only does it provide reinforcement and some extra cushion, but the heel is a bit more interesting.

Have you collected any or all of Quiltmaker's 100 Blocks magazines? They're up to Volume 12 now. Bonnie Hunter seems to have a block in just about every issue; and I'm a big fan, so I like to get the magazines. At one point the designers were receiving these special 100 Blocks mugs, but they weren't available to the general public, which is a shame. A couple weeks ago, I happened across an online vendor who had two of them for sale, so I snapped them up! Each mug is different--one for Volume 2 and one for Volume 4. I think these are so cool, and I'll be on the lookout for more of them.

Friday, January 15, 2016

New Knitting Projects

I am as passionate about my knitting as I am about my quilting, well, except for maybe this past year. I finished a measly five quilts last year, compared to 28 knitting projects--several dishcloths, three sweaters, several pairs of socks, and bunches of hats, cowls, and shawlettes. I taught myself how to do toe up socks last year too. Not nearly as difficult as I imagined.

The Willow cowl, a pattern available on Ravelry, was finished right at the end of the year. The pattern calls for decreases as you work upwards, and I thought it was interesting the way the yarn started pooling right at the top, an effect I don't mind. In fact, I wish the whole cowl had worked up like that.

This is the way the cowl would look if you were wearing it. The rows of stockinette sort of collapse on themselves, and the lace sections look like coils. And I love that picot edge.

I've started a pair of plain socks with self-striping yarn for my sister-in-law who visited just after Christmas. I thought I'd try out a 9" cable for the cuff before putting both socks on one longer circular. The 9" cable takes a bit of getting used to, but it's fun to just knit round and round.

I love learning new techniques, and I saw workshops for Swing-Knitting on Ravelry last year but didn't get the time to try it out. There are eight different workshops plus two sock workshops, and the author wrote that you can learn all the basics in the first three workshops. So I purchased the first workshop a few weeks ago. The project for the workshop is a pair of wristlets, sort of like leggings, only for your arms. Never knew there was such a thing. Fingerless mitts never made sense to me either until I actually made a pair and wore them.

Anyway, swing-knitting creates these interesting asymmetrical curves through the use of german short rows. I think it's similar to the construction of the Dreambird shawl on Ravelry. The author likens the knitting to music--there are "stanzas", and "pauses", and you "swing the beat". I couldn't grasp the terminology until I'd knitted a bit, but the knitting is not difficult. It goes quickly and is really very absorbing.

The wristlet is knit flat, then the long seam is closed with Kitchener stitch. I could probably do Kitchener stitch with my eyes closed now. The edges are a little unattractive, so I'm going to get one of my knitting pals to show me how to add a little crocheted edging.

I may be the last to know, but I discovered Craftsy last year and have taken several of their knitting classes. They're very reasonably priced if you wait for a sale, and the instructors and videos are fantastic. I will be expanding my knitting skills even more this year. Right now, Lucy Neatby is offering a free Sock Knitalong on Craftsy. Besides the instructional videos, instructions for three patterned socks are included; and one of those is for a pair of toe up socks. Great time to learn the toe up method, if you're so inclined. Craftsy also offers a bunch of free classes and tutorials, and they have lots of quilting classes too.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Quilter At Work

I'm glad the holidays are over, but I hated to take down the Christmas tree because I was enjoying the lights in the evenings. So we just took it down Tuesday, in time for pickup on Wednesday.

I've been a busy bee in the sewing room the last week and a half, organizing and lining up projects for the month. There are six, including three UFOs, but some will be ongoing. First up is a Stack 'n Whack, from a Bethany Reynolds workshop back in 2008. I actually blogged about it back then, and it's languished. It only needs one more side of the binding stitched down, and it will be finished.

Candystripes is another UFO from a very long time ago. The project is from an issue of American Patchwork & Quilting, and it was originally to be for my niece. After I made over 100 of the four patches, I realized that it wasn't really suitable for a kid her age, so... it languished. Now our quilt chapter is working on quilts for incubator babies, so I'll make small quilts, about 36" square or so, until all the four patches are used up. This is the first--6 rows of blocks x 9 blocks down. Maybe I'll have enough for three little quilts.

The Twisted Ribbons quilt I started last year for the Rainbow Scrap Challenge was resurrected and is the last of the UFOs to be worked on this month. There were 12 ribbons in all, and I'm working on the 6th, so it will be an ongoing project for a few more months. I decided not to start this year's RSC until the Ribbons are finished.

Moonglow is a Block of the Month pattern from Jinny Beyer that's been around for a decade or more, maybe two. A knitting pal of mine started it when it first became available, made three blocks, then it languished. Last year she talked to me about helping her get it finished because she'd invested quite a bit for the kit. She'd made the first three blocks with templates, and she'd had a little trouble with them; so we ripped them apart, and I taught her how to paper piece. Her sewing skills are rusty, so I wound up remaking the first one for her and will remake her next two, then start her out fresh with block 4.

I'd always wanted to make the Moonglow quilt too, so I found a kit at Plum Creek Quilts for a ridiculously low price and bought it. My first block is finished too; but I have to say, I much prefer the colors in my friend's quilt. Unluckily most of her fabrics are no longer available.

Project Five is Talkin' Turkey, from Bonnie Hunter's string quilts book. One of my dearest friends and I decided to work on this together in the new year. Late last year she was diagnosed in stage 4 cancer; but she's decided to forge ahead with me, so Sundays will be our Turkey Tracks (as we're calling it) days. The plan is to make 10 of these string-pieced blocks at a time until all 120 are done, then we'll move on to another kind of unit. I made a few blocks for the border too. Her treatment program gives us hope, so we plan to see this through to the end.

The first Quilt of Valor in a series of six this year is in progress. It is from a kit purchased two summers ago at MaineQuilts. The pattern is from a Thimbleberries book and is so simple to make. The fabric does all the work in this one.

That's good, to have a quick one for this month, because I have other projects to finish! I have at least two more QOV's that will be made using panels, but I'll alternate them with ones that are all pieced.

Monday, January 4, 2016

A Fresh Start

New Year's is not a holiday we celebrate particularly, but I look forward to it because it's a chance to wipe the slate clean and start fresh. Even so, I don't typically make New Year's Resolutions because I never keep them. Oh, I think about the same things everyone else thinks about--exercising more, dieting, being kinder to my fellow man; but I know myself pretty well, and I'm as likely as not to let those things fall by the wayside pretty quickly. (Well, maybe except for the last one.)
There are a few things in the quilting studio I really want to accomplish this year. The first might be to start blogging again. It's been a very long time since I blogged. I didn't quilt hardly at all after the beginning of summer last year (although I knitted like a possessed woman); and generally if I don't quilt, I don't blog. I contemplated whether I should delete my blog, but I am loathe to do it after writing it for seven years. I also realized how much I missed reading the quilting blogs, hearing from a few favorite bloggers occasionally, and being part of online challenges. Most of the time it's hard to get my quilting friends locally to work together on a project, and that is something I especially enjoy. I can do that with quilting bloggers online. So I'm having another go at blogging. If I could post once a week, I'd feel like a Resolution had been met.
Another thing I'd like to do this year is make six Quilts of Valor, beginning this month, and making another every other month. I subscribe to Fons and Porter "Love of Quilting" magazine, which prints six issues a year, and there's a QOV in every issue (which I may or may not use). As a veteran, I appreciate very much that they do this; and it's something I'd like to be part of. I've started on the first one already--a very quick and simple quilt with a large center panel. Photos to follow.
I'd like to do the Rainbow Scrap Challenge again this year (although I can't think why exactly since I haven't finished the last two!). I like the quilt that Angela (I think that's her name) has devised this year, a column quilt, which I think will be fun to work on.
Of course there's the perpetual Resolution to finish more UFOs, and I have an abundance of those (don't we all?). And I would very much like to have the discipline to limit the number of quilts in progress so as to actually get things finished. That's the hardest thing for me. We'll see where it all goes.
Happy New Year to all!