Friday, August 30, 2013

Penguin Quilt

My brilliant plan of sharing Writer's Block on the blog in order to focus on it more has failed miserably. This week I've gotten distracted by efforts to get my Penguin Quilt pattern finished by the end of September. I'm debating whether I should leave the corners angled or if I should make the quilt square all the way around.

I'm also struggling to come up with a name for this pattern. I want something a little more unique than "Penguin Quilt" but the name still needs to attract attention (and hopefully sales.) The finished pattern will include directions for the 60" square throw and a table runner featuring two of the penguins. Currently I plan to publish this pattern with Craftsy, and I'm looking for other sites to publish with.

It's crazy that in the middle of a major heat wave there is still enough wind to keep me from hanging the quilt on the line. This shot doesn't really show off the quilt, but it makes the penguins look like they're flying! Too cute not to share.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Thank you

I want to start by thanking everyone for the kind comments last week. I am a firm believer that a blog should reflect the whole creation process included the bad parts. Last week I felt like a whiny child crying "Boo-hoo, this is taking too long." I anticipated the comments would be along the lines of "Suck it up buttercup," and reminding me that I don't have to make a shawl; when I want to knit socks I should cast on those socks. Instead you guys told me exactly what I needed to hear. You reminded me that my shawl is looking beautiful (that it will look even better when it's blocked) and that I can finish if I hang in there. I'm in a much better knitting place this week.

I started Chart E (the last chart!!!) over the weekend. I am currently on row 13 of 34. I want to wear this shawl to a wedding I'm attending in mid-September. When I started knitting I set the goal of finishing by the end of August. I'm not sure I'll be done by August 31, but I'm pretty sure when you check in for next week's yarn along I'll be sharing some socks. Once Omelet is blocked and I can do a proper photo shoot with her I'll share the finished shawl.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Never Ending Shawl

It feels like I've been working on this shawl forever. It just keeps going and going. Some of this is the fact that this shawl is one of the more complicated projects I've made (not to mention my first real attempt at lace) and requires a lot more focus than my knitting usually does. 

One of the things I love about blogging is the ability to see a project's progress. Turns out Omelet made it's debut on the blog July 17. I guess my progress isn't so bad when I consider I've only been working at it for a month. 

I have a couple pairs of socks with simple ribbing waiting to go on my needles. I think they will be the perfect project to celebrate the completion of Omelet.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Into the Woods

I can't believe that I'm on the Moda Bake Shop today! One of the driving influences that convinced me I could quilt was reading their tutorials. This quilt was originally intended to be part of the Christmas in July series, but due to some internet gremlins eating e-mails it became one of the Quilts with Stories. I've always thought of this as a winter quilt rather than Christmas, so I'm rather pleased with the changed theme. For directions on how to make this quilt top please hop over to the bakeshop. (If you're here from Moda's website WELCOME!!!)

One of my favorite drinks is hot cocoa with marshmallows. When I saw this fabric I was bouncing for joy the rest of the day. There are a lot of aspects of this quilt that fight to be my favorite part, but the steaming mugs of hot cocoa and marshmallows covering the back of this quilt just might win that fight. I had about 6" left from each of my jellyroll strips, plus the strips that used my tree fabrics. I cut my backing fabric the length of my top (plus a little extra to allow for quilting) and then cut the remaining section in half lengthwise to keep my cocoa cups all facing upright. 

This picture shows you a close up of the cocoa mugs and my label. I had a left over block from the front that I cut on point to 6.5." I then used one of the jellyroll strip of my tree fabric to sash the block and hand appliqued onto the quilt. This block works perfectly for a quilt label.

I know that traditionally quilters choose small prints for the binding. This collection has several small prints that would work nicely, but I love how a large busy print looks as a binding. Rather than finding one color that works with everything in the quilt, I find a print with most of the colors of the quilt in it. Because the binding shows such a small section of the print it gets broken up and provides a really fun, unexpected twist.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Yarn Along

Tomorrow I finally get to share the quilt I've been working on this summer. Since I don't want to miss joining up with Tami Ami and Ginny I've decided to write my knitting post a day early. I'm almost finished with chart C of Omelet. It's really exciting to see something new coming off of my needles. This weekend I asked my husband to help me wind the second skein of yarn for this shawl. After we finished winding the requested skein he suggested we go ahead and wind ALL of my yarn.

We have a don't ask don't tell policy when it comes to my yarn and fabric (and his books) so I don't think he knew what he was getting into when he suggested we wind everything that was in skein form. He ran to the kitchen to get a drink and returned to find this waiting for him.

When we wind balls together I act as the swift and he gets to use the ball winder. He got major points half way through when he made the comment that if we had a swift he could wind my yarn without me. He also got big points for telling the difference between fingering and lace weight yarn. Three hours later and I now have 10 skeins happily waiting to go on the needles.

*For those who are curious I'm using the yellow yarn for Omelet and will make another shawl for someone for Christmas, the brown will be made into a hat for husband, the four dark blue skeins are going to become a cardigan, and I'm thinking the two light blue skeins will become mittens if I can find a good fingering weight pattern.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Introducing Writer's Block

In May my husband served as the night watchman at my guild's quilt show. He spent a lot of time walking and got to look at quilts and the vendors' stands. One of the vendors had pre-cuts of Moda's Comma. Every morning he would tell me about this fabric line and how much he liked it. Then he'd say the perfect husband thing...he liked it but I didn't need to buy it. I should buy whatever fabric I wanted. He pretty much guaranteed he was getting a Comma quilt with that phrase.

I wasn't able to go to the quilt show until Saturday. Since husband had been up the past three nights I let him stay home and sleep. When I came home I surprised him with a jelly roll and charm pack of Comma. As I talked about ideas for the fabric he suggested the name "Writer's Block" for the quilt. I love that my husband not only listens when I talk quilts with him, but offers valuable suggestions.

Once he suggseted "Writer's Block" I had a pretty good idea of how to make the blocks. I quickly got the fabrics sorted and sewn for the first step. I plan to make them a bit wonkier and then sew sashing around them so it feels more like the frustration that is writer's block.

Unfortunately I got distracted by another quilting project (I should be able to share more on that next Sunday) so these blocks have been languishing on my shelf. I'm hoping that by sharing this here I'll start focusing on this quilt again and might have it finished in time for Christmas.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Omelets or Scrambled Eggs???

When I was learning to make omelets in my high school cooking class our teacher shared a great secret with us. If you mess up you just change the omelet into scrambled eggs and no one knows that great scrambled eggs weren't your original intent. (Okay maybe this isn't a great secret but my cooking skills don't go much further than great scrambled eggs.) 

I'm not sure that my Omelet shawl will be as easy to save if I mess it up. I'm struggling with my rows continuously being one or two stitches off. The stitch isn't in the logical place for it to be and it creates more problems when I frog so I've just been adding or decreasing at the end of each section as needed. Maybe not the best solution, but so far it's working. 

I have 13 rows left of chart B and then I move on to the next chart. I'm hoping that since charts C-E are each knit once the rest of it will go pretty quickly. I have a month and a half to finish this shawl and am really starting to feel the time crunch. (I know, I have a twisted sense of deadlines. This is also why when this shawl is finished I'm casting on Christmas presents.)

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Quilts for "Today's" Living

My mom has been helping my grandmother to downsize her house. Since they know I like quilting I've been getting grandma's old quilt books. 15 Quilts for Today's Living has me laughing at some of the descriptions, and in awe of what they expect a quilter to be able to do. Published in 1968 this is the third book in the series (I'm interested what the others might look like.) 

"The Colonial Home Takes the Traditional Quilt"
I've long admired the Orange Peel quilts, but since I'm not a huge fan of applique I haven't wanted to try that block. I love that this book includes templates to make this as a pieced block.

"The Quilt With an Oriental Flavor..."
Who doesn't need a bamboo quilt in their bedroom? I couldn't help but laugh at the insanity of this block. The author actually suggests it might be easier to machine piece the straight part of the block, and hand piece the curves. I really want to know if anyone ever actually made this quilt.

"Out of this World Quilt for the Little Astronaut's Room"
The Tumbler block is one that I've actually used, however when I used it I cut my edges to be straight, not zigzagged. It's probably at this point that I should share the instructions for finishing your quilt. This book doesn't mention batting or backing anywhere. Instead, your quilts get a "lining." As you lay out your lining cut it 1/2" larger than your quilt and fold it over the edge, cutting away excess lining so that the turned part will be even.

"The Quilt in a Modern Decor"
I think that this quilt could be really fun in some modern fabrics. I think if I ever make this quilt I will add a few more seams though. This book has helped me see how the rotary cutter has changed quilting. When each piece has to be traced and cut with scissors I understand the desire to minimize the amount of cutting the quilter has to do. If I were to make this quilt I would make the bars as one block and the diamonds as one, possibly two sections. Instead this quilt calls for the long white bars to be cut as one piece with countless set in seams.

"The Tailored Quilt for the He-Man Who Likes His Comfort"
The introduction to this quilt states, "This quilt is tailored enough to please the most virile of man." I never would have thought of zig-zags as manly. At least they still make the zig-zag with HSTs.

This book was a lot of fun to look through. The thing that impresses me most is how many of the quilt patterns are still being used today. I'm already thinking about a couple of quilts based on these patterns; maybe with construction techniques that include use of a rotary cutter and more than two fabrics. I'm in awe that my grandmother, who worked full-time and was raising four teenagers in 1968 would even consider making these quilts. The quilters who have come before me have definitely set the bar high.