Friday, January 31, 2014

Farmer's Wife Friday 5

I'm trying not to be hard on myself with this quilt, but my perfectionist instincts are rearing their ugly head. I used to be much harder on myself and would beat myself up over not being perfect whether or not it was in my capabilities. When I started quilting 3 years ago I realized that if I was ever going to finish quilts I needed to focus on the process and understand that perfection was not possible for me at that point in time. By taking this attitude I have learned a great deal and love quilting. (I've even noticed this attitude has spread to other areas of my life and I'm much nicer on myself when I'm not perfect.) I'm beginning to see some of the perfect points and blocks I wished for when I started. Now I struggle with the question of when is good, good enough? If I know I can do better is it worth the extra time to do it again? With this quilt it's one 6" block out of 111. Will the imperfect points be obvious (or even noticed) when mixed in with the others or will it always bug me? For right now I've decided that blocks that are the right size but I'm not totally happy with will stay. If at the end of the project I still don't like the blocks I can always remake them. Since I have a tendency to write notes in lots of places and might not remember where my notes are at the end of the year I will write what I learn about the blocks here so I can remember what to do next time. (Also if anyone else is making these blocks you can learn from my mistakes and hopefully make better blocks your first time.)

End of Day is one of these blocks that has my voice of perfection lashing out at me. Towards the end of the block I realized I could divide the block into (4) 3.5" squares. Each square could divide into a 2" white, 2" black, and (2) 2" black and white HSTs. (Measurements include seam allowance. Squares will finish 1.5".)
#30 End of Day

I think my perfectionist voice has multiple personalities. While one side is shaking it head at me over End of Day another side is doing the happy dance over Attic Windows. (Seriously check out how great those points look!) I was starting to worry that my quilt was leaning too heavily on the darks so I reversed the lights and darks from the book. It never did look like a window to me so I didn't see a point in having a white center. The black center gives a nice change and will help balance out the other blocks.

#1 Attic Windows

This means that I've made 12 blocks and am officially 10% done with this quilt! In celebration I'm sharing a picture of all of my blocks laid out. The final quilt will be on point with sashing, but it's hard to do 12 blocks on point and I still haven't found that perfect shade of blue so I just laid the blocks out side by side for today.


Wednesday, January 29, 2014


I finally feel like I'm making progress on this sweater. I'm 15 rows away from the armscye (which apparently is a fancy word for arm hole.) The colored high lighters are a really great motivator. I've set myself the goal of finishing at least one row a day this week. Monday and Tuesday it was only one row, but it's one more row than I had the day before. In March I'm going to an overnight quilt retreat and I'm hoping I might be able to wear this sweater in place of a coat. This might be a bit unrealistic since it assumes I can finish the never ending sweater in a month and that the weather will decide to warm up by March.

Nevertheless the end of this sweater seems to be in sight. I've even started looking for buttons. I want this sweater to be in my wardrobe for at least the next 10 years so I'm avoiding the owls. I think the moose might also be nixed, but beyond that I'm not quite sure. I think I'm going to try and find something with a Celtic design but after looking at KnitPick's site that narrows my search down to about 50 buttons. 

Monday, January 27, 2014

2013-14 Mystery Quilt Step 5

I have some confessions to make before I begin this week's post. First: I bought the fabric for this quilt because one of the new Kona colors is called Kiwi and I love both the Kiwi bird and fruit. I did like the shade of green, but I picked it because of the name and found colors that I thought looked good with it. I also picked colors based on how they looked on my computer screen. I've since ordered a color card so next time I order solids I'll know exactly what color I'm getting. Second: I followed the link in my first post to see what the finished quilt looks like. I know this is cheating, but I didn't want to change the design without first knowing what the design is.

Step 5 calls for the remaining HSTs and the 3.5" light/medium blocks to be sewn together. (I was looking at my Farmer's Wife group and saw this block is in that quilt too. I'm sure it has many names, but in the Farmer's Wife it is called Contrary Wife.) This is where the risk of buying fabric online comes in. I was a bit hesitant when it arrived, but I decided to go with it. Then as I was cutting I found out that I only had 1/2 yard instead of 3/4 of a yard and didn't get the 74 squares called for. As I auditioned it with the last week's block I became more frustrated with it. It clashes a little bit in the picture, but on the ironing board the lilac really showed that it didn't belong.

The good part of buying fabric because of the name is I bought lots of it. My thought had been I would use it to bind the quilt, and possibly use it in a pieced backing. I had enough green to cut seventy-four 3.5" squares and there's still a bit left over. (I told you I liked the name fabric.) I love how the green looks with the tan and purple.

I tried four blocks together to see how they look. I am so glad I decided to use the kiwi instead of the lilac. It really brings the quilt to life. I can't wait to share the finished top next week. Hopefully the weather will be nice enough that I can get some shots outside in good light.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Farmer's Wife Friday 4

I was so excited when I saw this week's Farmer's Wife blocks. Finally I got some easy ones. I thought the math was fairly basic and happily cut and sewed away at my blocks. I couldn't believe it when I finished two blocks in an hour. Then I had the heartbreaking moment when I went to trim my blocks and found that finished at 5.75". After taking a break I made a second attempt and felt a bit like Goldilocks. This time my block was too big. I finally gave up and printed the templates from the book. Turns out the reason I was having so much trouble with the block is because the center block finishes at 2 and 1/8". After using the templates I salvaged the block that was too big and made the second block in 50 minutes! However since I spent 2 hours 40 minutes working on this quilt before getting my finished blocks that's what I'm adding to my counter.

#58 Mother's Dream

#77 Seasons

I've decided to save the blocks that look good, but are the wrong size. I'm not sure what they'll become, but I'm sure I'll find some project for them.

10/111 (I've hit double digits! Whoop whoop!)

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Blue Gloves

The reduction of WIPs on the quilting front continues. My hope is to have four finished quilts by the end of February. (That sounds impressive but one top is basted and is going with me to Saturday's workshop and two are heading to a long armer this weekend so really there's just the mystery quilt to finish.) Unfortunately this means there hasn't been much knitting going on around here. 

These little gems keep working their way out of my bag. It's so nice to be able to knit on something small that actually lets you see progress without the trick of multicolored highlighters.

I got a set of highlighters for the green sweater. I was only able to find a set of 6 colors, so I think yellow will be assigned to two days. There were lots of questions about the pattern I used for my green sweater last week. Sorry for not responding, but things got away from me. I'm going to try and start linking to my ravelry pages every week so you can easily see the pattern and yarn I'm using and find other posts about the projects. There's no visible progress on the green sweater so I'm not sharing a picture of it this week, but here's the link to the ravelry page though if you want info on the pattern: Fogarty Creek Blazer.

Monday, January 20, 2014

2013-14 Mystery Quilt Step 4

In November I wrote about the first three steps (herehere, and here) about the mystery quilt along that my quilt guild is doing this year. I was sick the night step 4 was handed out so this project was put on hold for several weeks. I was really worried when our January 6th meeting was canceled due to extreme cold, but thankfully the organizers of the mystery e-mailed us steps 1-5 so we could keep working. I've seen the churn dash block popping up all over the place and was so excited to discover step 4 had us using the HSTs from step 2 and the divided squares from step 3 to make 14 churn dash blocks. 

Friday, January 17, 2014

Farmer's Wife Friday 3

This week I told two people about my plans to make the Farmer's Wife quilt this year. Both of them questioned my resolve to do two blocks a week this year, however I was a little surprised when they questioned why I was going to take so long to make this quilt. I should point out that one of them is a very talented seamstress and the other is an extraordinary quilter who works at my LQS. (She's the one who taught the drunkard's path workshop that allowed me to make my penguin quilt and is a huge cheerleader for me.) I think I had both of their voices in my head this weekend when I decided to celebrate my fabric purchases by making the two blocks I skipped in addition to the two blocks I was already planning to make this weekend. I now understand why I decided to give myself a year to make this quilt. I spent an hour and a half making Century of Progress block Saturday and six and half hours on Sunday making the other three blocks.

I paper pieced this block. I really hate paper piecing, but I think it was the best choice for this block. I wish my centers would have matched up a bit better, but overall I like this block enough to keep it.
#18 Century of Progress

I really feel like my HSTs are getting better. I need some more practice, but it's exciting to see improvement.

#51 Hovering Birds

When I started this quilt I knew there would be weeks I'd do extra blocks. I should have stuck to my plans of doing simple blocks on those extra weeks. There was a lot of seam ripping and some choice squirrel words used in the making of these blocks. (I find squirrel noises much better at stress relief than swear words and you don't have to worry about who might over hear you.)

#79 Silver Lane

The last block I worked on this weekend was Country Path. Most of the squirrel words were used trying to figure out the stupid corner units. I ended up simplifying the block and making solid white triangles in the corners. The block is slightly smaller than 6.5" so I haven't trimmed it, but with a scant quarter inch seam on my sashing it should be okay.

#24 Country Path

Farmer's Wife 8/111

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Highlighters and Sweaters

Today I decided to see just how long this sweater is. The two front sides and back are all knit as one piece up to the armscyces. There are days it feels like I'm not making any progress, but that might have something to do with the fact that my arthritis is still flaring. It's significantly better than last week. Sadly one of the few things that is causing it to act up right now is knitting. At least I can quilt without pain so I have several Mondays worth of posts that I can start sharing.

I have discovered multicolored highlighters are a great way to mark my completed rows. I think this might be a bit like saying I've discovered there's some fun stuff to do in Chicago, but it's something new to me so I'm claiming the discovery. With these long rows I lose track of how many rounds I've done in a day. Frequently because I can't see any progress I feel like I'm not accomplishing anything. By changing the color highlighter I'm using I can see that I finished three rows last night. Right now I just have four highlighters and am changing every day. I want to get a set of highlighters with 7 colors and assign one color to each day of the week. This will let me track my progress from week to week and see how many days during the week I'm not touching this sweater.

I think this might be one of my favorite shots of this sweater. I love how beautiful those cables look. My progress may not be as fast as I wish, but this photo reminds me that progress has definitely been made.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Fabric Sale! Woot Woot!

My LQS had a 20% store wide sale this weekend. How do you possibly pass up something like that? I found some awesome grey fabrics for my Farmer's Wife quilt and got another yard of white. (I have 6 yards of black that I bought for another quilt and am pretty sure I'll have lots of leftovers on that one so I didn't get any more black.) I might start using the medium grey in a few blocks to add a little more variety. The dark grey fat quarter is for the four blocks that are made with five colors.

Recently I got a copy of Vintage Quilt Revival and am loving the patterns. There are a lot of projects that I'm dreaming about. I fell in love with the Crosspatch Bag as soon as I saw it. In the book Lee Heinrich makes it with grey, yellow, and white, but they aren't colors I wear very often. I thought about using grey as the background and just swapping out the yellow, but I'm using so much grey in the FW quilt I wanted to branch out a little so I decided to use blue as the background and green in place of the yellow. I wasn't able to get sew in medium weight interfacing so it might be a while until I get to this bag, but you can bet I'll share pictures after I make it.

Finally I decided to splurge and get a second charm pack of Bits and Bobbins to match the one I got from one of my guild members for Christmas. Not sure yet what this will be, but it's easier to do something with two charm packs instead of one. 

Friday, January 10, 2014

Farmer's Wife Friday 2

Last week I promised I would share more about the Farmer's Wife. In the 1920s the perception by most of the country was that the wife of a farmer was more slave than partner, and she would never want her daughter to lead the same life. The Farmer's Wife magazine (such a creative name, right) decided to hold a contest asked its readers this very question. Most women replied that they loved their lives and would want the same life for their children. 

In 2009, well probably a few years before that since the book was published in 2009, Laurie Aaron Hird gathered the 65 winning essays and paired each essay with 2 quilt blocks. There have been several quilters before me who've made this quilt (several are online if you do a search for the Farmer's Wife quilt.) If you're in the process of making this there's a great group of quilters over on flickr that are working on this quilt (Farmer's Wife 2014).

Now for this week's blocks. Technically these are next week's blocks. I looked through the book and there are 54 blocks that can be done with two colors, 44 blocks that can be done with three colors, and 9 blocks that require four colors. (There's also five blocks that are made with five or more colors, but we're not thinking about those right now.) Right now I have three shades of fabric. I'm attending a retreat at the end of this month where I'm going to work on my paint chip challenge quilt. I'm currently using black fabric from that quilt for my Farmer's Wife blocks and need to know how much black I'm going to use on the paint chip quilt before I order more fabric. When I do I'll order three more shades of grey and my sashing fabric so I can do the sashing as I go. Sadly the blocks I was scheduled to make this week are 2 of the 9 that need four fabrics so I skipped ahead to the next two blocks.

Has anyone else had the experience that two 2" HST squares don't equal a 3.5" square? Is there a trick I'm missing or is it part of the "doing this to improve piecing skills" thing?
#34 Flock

I've lost count of how many times I've reminded myself that I'm working on this project to improve my piecing skills, and that in order to improve it means you can't be perfect at the start. Block #46 Hill and Valley really tested my piecing skills. I made a decent block on my first attempt, until I tried to square it up. Below you can compare how it looks next to Flock. 

I ended up paper piecing this block. Did you know that with graph paper you can make your own paper piecing templates? (There are paper piecing templates out there for all of the blocks, but I want to work them out on my own didn't feel like looking for them am nuts.) In figuring out this block I saw a variation from the one in Farmer's Wife and decided to do two triangles at the top of the larger triangle rather than the square used in the book.
#46 Hill and Valley

Farmer's Wife 4/111
As I keep track of time I'm only included time I spend cutting, piecing, ripping, and repiecing. I'm not including the time I spend figuring out the measurements for the blocks.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Fingerless Gloves continued

If you've been watching the news this week you'll be aware of the polar vortex that has hit our country. (If you're unlucky you might even be experiencing it.) Monday our high was somewhere around -10 with windchill hovering between -40 and -50. I never thought 10 degrees would be warm, but after that it really is. Unfortunately all of this cold has pretty much frozen my joints and made knitting extremely painful. The green sweater hasn't seen any love this week.

Before Christmas I cast on for these gloves. Progress has been somewhat slow since my knitting attention has been devoted to other projects. I finished the first glove last week and have cast on for the second glove. I've tried a couple of rows this week, but even simple things like this are still to hard to do right now. Thankfully the weather is predicted to be in the 30s-40s this weekend so I should be able to do some knitting later this week.

I love how delicate these cables look. I think that I will be able to make both wristlets from one 50g skein of yarn so I might make a matching hat or cowl. This yarn is way to pretty to leave buried in the stash (plus the stash is in need of serious reduction.)

Monday, January 6, 2014

Library Bags

I work with a group of adults who have physical and mental disabilities. Several times a week we go to the library. This month we had some left over fleece from another project and decided to make bags that we can use to carry our library items. They figured out the measurements and cut out the bags and straps and I volunteered to take them home and sew them on my machine.

Since our fleece was a very boring black we decided to use some left over sticky-backed felt to decorate the front. Someone had the idea of making a square and the quilter in me said, "Let's make quilt blocks." They loved the ideas and with the sticky felt we didn't have to worry about seam allowances. I did sew around the edges of the felt to secure everything after we'd put together our blocks. 

Everyone had so much fun putting together these blocks. I can't wait for them to see how their bags turned out. We will definitely get a lot of use out of them on our library trips. 

To figure out the dimensions we measured our typical sized stack of books. We printed some quilt block templates off of the internet and used those to figure out the blocks. 

Friday, January 3, 2014

Farmer's Wife Friday 1

One of the things I want to work on this year is my piecing skills. My husband got me "The Farmer's Wife" for Christmas and I've decided to make this quilt. (Next week I'll share more about the book.) Because I'm not crazy enough I also want to work on my design skills by figuring out the measurements for the blocks using only the book and "The Quilter's Album of Patchwork Patterns." (Jinny Beyer provides grids for most of the blocks that are a little easier for me to figure out than just a picture of the block.) 

I don't want to be left with all of the blocks I'm dreading at the end of this project so I'm following the order as they are presented with the letters. I've chosen to make this quilt in black and white (with shades of grey in blocks that require three or more colors.) I haven't seen any Farmer's Wife quilts made in black and white, but I have seen two monochromatic quilts and I've seen a couple black and white versions of the Dear Jane quilt so I'm confident this color scheme will work. My current plan is to use blue for the sashing, but I haven't bought fabric yet so that isn't set in stone. 

#26 Cut Glass Dish

#54 Kitchen Woodbox

Farmer's Wife 2/111

*I want to keep track of how long it takes me to make this quilt. I know it will be at least a year before the top is complete, but that doesn't seem like a good answer if someone asks how long it took to make. Instead I plan to keep track of how many hours I spend cutting fabric and sewing blocks together to help my blog readers who don't quilt understand how much time is involved in this quilt and quilters contemplating this quilt can get an idea of the time investment required.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Out of Exile

I really need to learn not to put off the parts of projects that I dread the most. I finished all of the pieces for the brown blob at the beginning of December and only had the button band left. Hating button bands I worked on these yummy alpaca mitttens for my sister. 
Bella's Mittens Misti Alpaca in Chunky: camelback

For my mom I decided to make another Dragonfly Wings shawl. She's allergic to wool so I used Deborah Norville's Serenity Garden Yarn. It's 100% Dralon Microfiber (whatever that is.) I've read a lot of reviews about this yarn splitting, and I could see how that would be an issue, but I didn't really have any problems with it. I don't like it as much as some of the other yarns I use, but it is a nice option for when I can't use wool.

I was really happy with the stripes that the yarn made. It looks great with this shawl.

Dragonfly Wings Deborah Norville Serenity Garden: Hibiscus

Finally I couldn't put off the button band any long so on December 21 I finally did my seams and cast on the button band. (I should point out that I was celebrating Christmas with my family on December 23 so I had a mere 2 days to finish this sweater.) I knew I would be cutting it close with the amount of yarn I had left, but I was hopeful I could finish it. Unfortunately I ran out of yarn with 4 rounds left to go on my button band. I quickly ran to the store, but not surprisingly Wal-mart doesn't have a good selection of yarn. I tried running to Ben Franklin but they only had some nasty acrylic brown stuff that I didn't think would go well with the Knit Picks Wool of the Andes I'd used on the rest of the sweater. I thought about an IOU, but the yarn I need won't be available until the end of January. Some quick thinking and faster knitting and by the end of the night I had a hat.

I'll order more yarn the next time I place a KnitPicks order and will finish the brown blob for Christmas 2014. This brings me to the title of today's post. Last year after Christmas I cast on for the Fogarty Creek Blazer. I finished both sleeve and a few inches on the body of the sweater when I felt the urge to knit lace. I managed to resist the urge for a while, but as spring turned to summer the idea of knitting a heavy wool sweater became less and less desirable. Finally when I couldn't tolerate it any more the green sweater was banished to the stash box. Banished feels like a harsh term since the sweater didn't really do anything wrong, but since I've completed five projects, countless socks, and all but the button band on another sweater banishment is probably the right term. Lately our high has been hovering somewhere in the single digits with windchill pushing the temperature to -30 some days it's the perfect time to be working on a heavy wool sweater. I finished the back through waist chart and am making good progress on the charts leading up to the armscye.