Sunday, March 30, 2014

Farmer's Wife Sunday?

Over the weekend I washed the paint chip quilt. I did have to pick off some fuzzies, but it looks so much better. I'm hoping the weather will cooperate enough this week that I can get some finish pictures and actually have a Friday Finish to write about. Since I got my Farmer's Wife blocks for this week done today I figured I'd share those as my beginning of the week post. Sarah over at Confessions of a Fabric Addict is hosting her annual hands to help challenge. Today she's hosting a link party of tips and tricks. The Wrench and Churn Dash blocks for this quilt are identical so I took pictures of my method for making churn dash blocks if you're only making one (or making lots of scrappy ones.)

The size of your block will determine the size of squares you start with. Since I'm making 6" blocks I started with 3" squares. Cut four 3" squares of each color. Mark two light squares diagonally for HSTs, and two light squares vertically down the middle. (Sorry I didn't take pictures of the HST part, but there's lots of tutorials out there for that.)

Sew 1/4" on each side of the line you marked.

Here's how it looks all sewn up. (Check out the new ruler I got this weekend. I've been trimming lots of 3.5" blocks lately and love that I won't have to reposition my ruler any more. Plus the tiny ruler is super cute!!!)

Cut on the line and press open. Trim to 2.5". (There is a bit of waste, but I found this easier than cutting rectangles and worrying about having everything facing the right direction.)

Cut a center square 2.5" and assemble block as shown. I'm thinking of using a bunch of charm squares in my stash to make a quilt of giant churn dashes. If I do that then I'll trim my pieces to 4.5" before assembly and my blocks will finish at 12".

#111 Wrench (aka churn dash)

My second block this weekend is #72 Railroad. I really love how this block looks. I'm already playing with it in EQ7 and thinking about making a full quilt featuring this block.

#72 Railroad

*It's official. I've made one quarter of the blocks for this quilt!

Confessions Of A Fabric Addict

Friday, March 28, 2014

Farmer's Wife Friday 12

Holy Cow! It's officially been 3 months since I committed to making 2 blocks from the Farmer's Wife quilt every week. I'm 2 blocks away from the official 1/4 mark so I'd say I'm doing pretty good on my goal. This week I decided to focus on one block at a time. It's a bit different than how I usually make my Farmer's Wife blocks, but it was significantly less confusing. I think I'll have to try this again. Cat and Mice did turn out a bit small (6.25" square) but the sashing method I'm considering will give me room to fix this so I'm really not worried.

#17 Cat and Mice

I couldn't get my head around a black maple leaf. Maple Leaves are supposed to be red. Since I didn't want to add color to this quilt I decided to make a white tea leaf block instead.

#56 Maple Tea Leaf

I think this block took the most thought this time. I struggled so much with getting all of those little triangles facing the right way. I am glad that I followed the book and used three colors for this block. I think the dark grey gives it a lot more movement.

#107 Windblown Square


This summer I'm teaching a quilt class at my local community college. I've decided to teach a simple table runner using a half hexagon template and a jelly roll. Since I was focusing on one block at a time I decided to use my hexagons as leaders and followers for my FW blocks. It's so much fun to see some color mixed in with all of the black and white.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Casting on some Cuffs

I finished the first sleeve for Blueberry and cast on the second one. I finally managed to get a good picture of this yarn. I love the subtle color changes in KnitPick's Stroll Tonal sock yarns, but my camera doesn't. I don't have pictures to share of the first sleeve, but my gauge is perfect. I still don't understand what's going on that I'm using needles three sizes smaller than the pattern, but I guess that's why we're supposed to make swatches for everything.

I also finished my orange socks and cast on for another pair. I'm trying Hermione's Everyday Socks for this one. It looks like a fairly basic sock which will fill the need for mindless knitting, but it's a step above a vanilla sock. I'm using Deborah Noville Serenity Sock Yarn in Lavender Topaz. This was actually one of the first skeins of sock yarn I ever bought. Someday I might share pictures of my first "pair" of socks. When I started knitting socks I didn't realize that a skein of sock yarn didn't necessarily make a pair of socks so I bought two different skeins of sock yarn with the intention of making two pairs of socks. I finished one sock with a very small foot and a sock leg and then ran out of yarn. I've made several pairs of socks since that first attempt, but I've never come back to the second color I bought. Since JoAnn Fabric sells this yarn it wasn't very hard to find a second skein. The dye lots are different, but they're socks for me so I don't think this will matter too much.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Spring 2014 Quilt Retreat

Last weekend a bunch of women from my guild went to Canton Quilt Retreat for a retreat. I had so much fun. It was really laid back with everyone working on our own projects. On Friday I focused on the Crosshatch Bag from Vintage Quilt Revival. I'm not a huge fan of paper piecing, but I loved this bag enough to give it another try. Catherine (the owner of the retreat center) is a Judy Niemeyer teacher and she showed me the JN way of paper piecing. I can't say that paper piecing is my favorite way of assembling a quilt block, but I'm no longer terrified of it. (Don't tell anyone, but I'm almost excited for the Fall workshop where we'll make a Judy Niemeyer table runner.)

I got all of the paper pieced bits done for my bag. Sadly I didn't check for pattern errors before leaving so I only got this far on my blocks. Thankfully the pattern gives you room for errors so I have enough of the light blue and white to recut with the proper measurements. I haven't had a chance to redo the middle section, but you can see that this block will look awesome when it's done.

Of course Friday before supper we went shopping. I found a cute charm pack for Bluebird Park. (Can I just say hedgehogs and fabric!!!!) I also found a jellyroll of Twenty-Three that had been marked down to twenty dollars and got a spool of grey thread to use for piecing and quilting. I find grey is becoming my go-to thread color for quilting.

Before the retreat I was able to finish piecing the top for my paint chip quilt. At the quilt shop I found a multi-colored pink thread, some batting, and backing so I was able to do the quilting on Saturday. I'm not completely in love with this quilt so I'm just sharing some sneak peaks right now. I tried several new things which I think is why I'm not loving this quilt. First off I used Quilter's Dream Cotton. Normally I use Warm & Natural, but the quilt shop only had Quilter's Dream. I've never had a batting pill as much as this one did. I'm sure it will look better when it's washed, but I've never had to wash my quilts before using them. (I know this is a horrible admission, but our apartment only has coin operated  laundry and we have really hard water here so I avoid washing my quilts if I can.) I also tried spiral quilting for the first time. The outer edges look decent, but it's obvious that I struggled at the start. (Note all those little white bits...that's the batting. Yuck!)

I found this red onion fabric on the clearance table for $3.75. The pinks and reds match the quilt top perfectly so the ladies on the retreat convinced me it was a good back. I'm still not sure about the onions, but they're growing on me. One of the ladies convinced me to use some of the leftovers for the binding. I loved only needing to cut four strips and the fabric looks really cute as a binding.

I'm going to try and get this quilt washed this week and maybe next Monday I'll be happy enough with it to show the final pictures. 

Friday, March 21, 2014

Farmer's Wife Friday 11

Wow has it been a chaotic week. I had a great goal of doing four blocks this week. I've been getting restless as I see my total inching closer and closer to 27.75 (okay let's be honest, it will be 28 blocks because as talented as I am I can't make 3/4 of a quilt block.) I tried doing four blocks this week, but my math was off. Like a good quilter rather than trying to fix it I moved on to the next project that wasn't in time out yet. I have a big pile of scraps to show for my work.

I managed to finish one block. It was super easy otherwise I think I'd just have a pile of scraps.

#69 Practical Orchard

Last weekend I got to go to a quilting retreat center in South Dakota. I'll share more about the retreat on Monday, but one of the great things about the retreat center were the massive design walls all over the place. I brought my Farmer's Wife blocks along with me in hopes of productivity (haha) and put them up on the wall. It's so exciting seeing all of the blocks laid out together. Looking at my blocks like this I can almost believe that one day they will actually be a quilt.


Sunday, March 16, 2014

A Year of Red and White Quilt Challenge

I was so excited at the beginning of the year when Sew Cal Gal introduced a year long challenge. I loved that there were several phases involved in the challenge including a phase focusing on designers! My only problem was the challenge was red and white. I think every quilter has one color that she (or he) absolutely hates. For me that color is red. I think a lot of it goes back to the fact that I have a lot of pink tones in my skin that are exaggerated when I wear red. I've avoided all shades of red clothing for so long that when I started quilting I naturally avoided red fabric. 

For some strange reason I haven't been able to forget about this challenge. One of the prizes of the Design It! Challenge is the opportunity to work with Island Batik to make your quilt and possibly even have Island Batik offer the winning design as a free pattern on their website. When I saw all of the great red fabrics that Island Batik offers I knew I had to design a quilt for this challenge. I love the drunkard's path block and it works perfectly for red and white quilts. After a lot of playing I came up with this design which uses 7" blocks and finishes at 104"x104".

Fabric Requirements: 
6 1/4 yards white fabric
6 3/4 yards red fabric

I know that a bed sized drunkard's path quilt isn't going to appeal to everyone. I was lucky to attend a great workshop that took the fear out of the drunkard's path block, but for lots of people curved seams are scary. I set to work designing a quilt with inspiration from my first quilt that a quilter of any skill level could make without fear. I settled on this variation. This quilt uses 5" blocks and finishes 60"x60".

Fabric Requirements:
2 yards white fabric
1 1/4 yards bright red
1 1/4 yards dark red

Be sure to go check out the other designs at Sew Cal Gal!
red and white quilt show - Design It

Friday, March 14, 2014

Farmer's Wife Friday 10

I managed to play a little catch up and finished three blocks this week. I even faced the dreaded paper piecing for one of the blocks. I know that there are a lot of quilters who are making all of the blocks using paper piecing, but it's still a method that I don't like using for quilting. For some weird reason I struggle to see how fabric will fold (even when I crease the paper and fold back the fabric and do all of the other hints that are supposed to make paper piecing so easy) and always end up having to redo at least one or two pieces. I realized that the Periwinkle block would either require adding extra seams or paper piecing so I sucked it up and did paper piecing. I'm not sure how much I like the black center, but when I was laying out all of the blocks I noticed a lot of them are really dark so I'm trying to balance things out a bit more.

#66 Periwinkle

I debated paper piecing Night and Day too, but when I was doing some research for this block I had someone recommend that the templates are easier. Elanor Burns has a tutorial for strip piecing and has made a really cool quilt from just this block, but I didn't want to buy a book for a single block. I ended up printing out the templates provided in the book and was pleased with how the block worked out.

#59 Night and Day

It was really bugging me to have an odd number of blocks. I've been enjoying focusing on the letters that accompany the blocks and haven't been able to do that as well when I have blocks from two different letters. Tall Pine Tree I was able to do with traditional rotary piecing. I did have a little trouble with half rectangle triangles. I don't know why I thought I could sew them like HSTs and have them work out, but let me assure you that sewing two lines diagonally across a rectangle does not give you two perfect rectangle triangles sewn together. I love that solids don't have a wrong side so it was a really easy thing to fix. I'm waiting to see how all of the blocks work together. I may go back and redo some of these blocks with color. If so this will be one of the blocks I redo and the tree will be green. I think my desire for color comes from the fact that I still haven't found the perfect shades of blue for the sashing and corner stones. I'm pretty sure when I find those fabrics I'll be able to get a good vision of this completed quilt and can decide if I want to add any more colors.
#94 Tall Pine Tree


Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Blueberry Progress

Still haven't made a choice on the moose buttons. Instead I've been focusing most of my creative time on Blueberry. (Okay so there was a quilt that kind of exploded onto the radar and has eaten up a lot of work time, but yarn has been hoarding my time lately so it's only fair that fabric gets a bit of revenge attention.)

I'm struggling to get a picture that accurately shows this yarn color. These are the best I can get right now, but they still aren't totally accurate. The yarn is more of a warm pacific blue than the blue showing up in pictures. I'll keep trying to get the perfect color shot so don't be surprised if the yarn looks different from week to week.

I'm almost to the sleeve cap. I think in the next day or two I'll finish the first sleeve and start the second one. I'm still using tiny needles, but everything is fitting accurately so I'm guessing gauge is just being weird this time. I've been surprised by how fast this is going. It's really no different than making a big sock. 

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Think Pink

I can't remember if I've mentioned my quilt guild's challenge this year or not. This year (at least as far as the challenge goes) is all about color. I was so excited when it came time to sign up for committees and I got to be on the challenge committee. Even more exciting was no one signed up at first so I didn't have to argue convince anyone that the paint chip challenge was the way to go. (One of the other members has joined the committee which will be really nice when it comes to setting up the quilts at the show, but she loved the paint chip challenge so I still got to go ahead with it.) 

My goal with this challenge was to let everyone have fun so there aren't a lot of rules. I think it confused some people at first because they'd ask questions and my answer was usually to shrug and say do what they want. In September everyone got to pick a paint chip to use as a color pallet for a quilt. (I debated putting the paint chips in an envelop, but I knew I wanted to pick mine and it didn't seem fair not to let everyone else choose their colors too.) The rules are to use at least three colors from our paint chips and we have the option of adding a neutral like white, black or grey. We can use prints provide all of the colors in our print follow our paint chip's color scheme. We have the option of designing our own quilt or using an existing pattern.  We're showing the completed quilts at our meeting in April so time is really running out on my quilt. This is the paint chip I chose.

I'm ordered some solids from Fat Quarter and discovered that my monitor isn't very accurate when it displays colors. The colors work together pretty well, but I'm worried about the two darker pinks not matching the paint chip very well. I do know where the paint chips came from so I could go find one with more pinks, or I might just let it be. It's somewhat hard to tell, but the lightest color is a very pale pink (surprisingly that one is an accurate match to my paint chip.) I've debated a few blocks, but I finally decided to keep it simple. Last winter I took a workshop on the drunkard's path block and fell in love. These blocks finish at 7" so it's going together pretty quickly. Next weekend I'm going on an overnight retreat with some ladies from my guild and I hope to finish up this quilt.

In honor of today's pink theme I decided I'd also share a picture of the tulips that are on my kitchen table. We still have a fair bit of snow outside so I've really loved seeing this promise of spring every morning when I wake up.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Farmer's Wife Friday 9

You wouldn't be able to tell reading my blog lately, but I really have been up to some quilting projects. I'm so excited about them, but I can't share anything yet. Hopefully you guys don't mind the yarn overload for the time being. I promise there are lots of quilting projects waiting in the wings that I'll be able to share pictures of as soon as I finish the secret one. I was able to take a little bit of time this week and get two more Farmer's Wife blocks done.

#6 Big Dipper

#74 Ribbons


Be sure to check out Fons and Porter's Love of Quilting this month. There's a really neat quilt that uses the Squash Blossoms block. I know that the blocks in Farmer's Wife aren't unique to this quilt (at least most of them aren't,) but I really love seeing how a single block from this quilt looks on it's own.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Introducing Blueberry

It would seem that the saga of the moose buttons should be over. Today they finally found their way to my mailbox. Unfortunately I didn't realize what a difference 1/8" would make. The pattern calls for 3/4" buttons. I figured the moose were 5/8" so it should be close enough. I think if they were 7/8" it would be fine, but I find myself questioning if they're too small for this sweater. Equally frustrating the flower buttons I ordered for Blueberry (more on that in a moment) are 3/4" and feel too bulky. It looks like the flowers might work for the green sweater and I have time to find something daintier for Blueberry. Really there's no deadline for the green sweater so I have time to think about whether I want to use the moose, the flowers, or search for something different. I had trouble getting decent pictures, but the one on the left gives you an idea of size and the picture on the right gives a close-up of the flower and moose buttons.

In happier news I've finally cast on Anne's Cardigan. I tend to give my sweaters working names (i.e. Purple MonsterBrown Blob, and Green Sweater.) Most of them get named when I shout something out in frustration. I've decided to start this sweater on a more positive note and so it's been named Blueberry. I always start out loving my projects and then get bored or run into problems. I remember how excited I was when I started the green sweater. I'd spend several months working on an oatmeal colored sweater with a basic cable. I loved the rich forest green and all of those fun cables. By the end the thing seemed dull and a bit fiddly. (Give me the right buttons, a good blocking, and a couple weeks and I'm sure I'll be in love again. It really is a beautiful sweater.) 

I'm ready for spring. I absolutely love this color (Knit Picks stroll tonal in Blue Yonder.) It reminds me of the warm blue that returns to the sky in the spring. The pattern is pretty easy so I'm hoping to finish Blueberry in time to wear her this spring. My workplace tends to over use the air conditioner so I'm sure this lightweight sweater will get lots of use. The one thing I see as a potential problem is the needle size. The pattern calls for US5, but after doing a swatch I needed US2 to get gauge. I decided to knit a sleeve as bigger test, and so far the size 2 needles are creating the right size sleeve. Normally I'm spot on with gauge so having to go down three needle sizes is nerve wracking. (I'm using the suggested yarn from the pattern and it looks like most of the ravelry people got gauge with the needles called for, but a common complaint is that the sweater is too big. Not really sure what's going on.)

I've also been working on my second orange sock. I took this with me to my quilt guild meeting last night and had so much fun with the meeting I forgot to pay attention to how long my sock was getting. I was so annoyed to get home and realize I'd knit half an inch more than I did for the first leg. At least it was a pretty fast frog and I'm back on track now.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Stash Building

The moose are still wandering the wild. According to the tracking page they're circling Iowa (since last Wednesday they've been spotted in Kansas, Illinois, Minnesota, and South Dakota.) Thankfully the yarn I ordered during Knit Picks' sock yarn sale didn't have anything with legs in the package and took a more direct route to my door. I'm not quite sure if it's a good sign that I was bragging to my husband about resisting a yarn sale and he asked why. Since my husband is such a great enabler I took that to be a sign that I needed to order more yarn immediately. (If you're interested, the sale is going on until March 24.) Of course I couldn't pass up the free shipping Knit Picks offers on orders over $50 so there was a lot of yarn that got squished into the box. 

First up I got two skeins of yummy Stroll Hand painted in Hayride and Lullaby. I was a little surprised by the Hayride. The picture on their website shows much darker greens and shades of rusty orange and burgundy. The yarn that I got has much lighter greens and pinks and purples. It's still beautiful yarn, but I think it will become a pair of socks for me rather than my husband. One of my favorite sock pattern books is Sock Club Knitting. I think I'm going to use the blue yarn to make the Ariel Socks from this book. 

I've heard rumors that Knit Picks is discontinuing the Felici yarn line. I'm really hoping they're just discontinuing this year's colors and new colors are coming in soon. Either way while I was sick I discovered that my comfort knitting is a basic vanilla sock. The self stripping pattern in Felici makes it the perfect yarn for vanilla socks. I ordered three pairs in more masculine colors so I can make some more "guy" socks for my husband. (Colors are Maple Leaves, Shamrock, and Lighthouse.)

Of course I had to order some Felici for myself. (I chose Spring Mix and Splash.) I even found this awesome pattern on Ravelry for toe-up knee high socks so I can use all of this delicious yarn.

I also remembered that I've started a tradition of socks for Father's Day so I ordered something in case I decide to make dad another pair of socks. It's hard to tell from the picture, but there's little flecks of blue mixed in with the black. I'm thinking this would be a good yarn for the Yarn Harlot's Old Joe pattern. 

*Disclaimer: Knit Picks did not sponsor any part of this post.
I love their products and can't help but to talk about what I love.