Friday, May 30, 2014

Farmer's Wife Friday 18

Monday I had a day off work. Since my husband had to work I had hours of extra sewing time. I checked the calendar and according to my goal of 2 blocks I week I should have 44 blocks finished this week. I decided to make some extra blocks to try and catch up.

Up first I finished the bouquet block I started last week. (I fudged the numbers last week and counted this one even though it wasn't completely finished.)

#8 Bouquet

 Most of the blocks this week were fairly easy so they piled up quickly. I used templates for a lot of these blocks. I've often wondered how quilting survived until the invention of the rotary cutter. 

#23 Country Farm

As I was working on these blocks I realized that most of the quilt blocks we have date to the mid-1800s at the earliest (most much later than that.) In the mid-1800s the industrial revolution made it much cheaper to purchase items. Similar to myself, if the quilter in the 1800s just needed a blanket she could have bought one. It might have meant less extra money to spend else where, but it was an option. 

#50 Honey's Choice

I'm sure that my vision of a country wife using up old scraps of clothing to make a quilt is true, but there is more to it than that. She didn't just cut up left over fabric to get the biggest pieces possible and sew them together. The quilters of yesterday took time to make something beautiful.

#61 Northern Lights

I love the idea of the Farmer's Wife working hard during the day and staying up late at night working on making a quilt for her home. She may not have had the access to the large art galleries in the cities, but she made her own art.

#80 Single Wedding Star

#83 Spider Web

#98 Waterwheel


Wednesday, May 28, 2014

The Forgotten Sock

Monday was Memorial Day in the US so that meant I got an extra day off of work. My husband and I both work with adults who have physical and mental disabilities. I work in a classroom setting and he works in one of the houses. Unfortunately he still had to work this weekend so I had three days to do whatever I wanted to. My goal was to finish the first of the Father's Day socks. Saturday I woke up with an overwhelming desire to start playing with my hedgehog fabric. By Sunday I had finished the quilt top, two Farmer's Wife blocks, and made this cute little pouch for a giveaway. Go to Sunday's post and tell me your favorite animal for a chance to win. You can also get an extra entry by following my blog and telling me you do so on Sunday's post.

I figured Monday I could really put some time in on the sock. I finally worked up the courage to talk to our neighbor about using some of her extra rhubarb so I made rhubarb jam Monday morning. I woke up really early so my kitchen was back to it's normal state by 7:00a.m. Still plenty of time to work on the sock. Then I realized that if I spent the morning working on Farmer's Wife blocks I could almost get caught up. I really shouldn't be surprised that I'm still working on the first sock. (I did finish the instep last night so it might even get done before Father's Day.) Of course yesterday in the mail I got my background fabric for the Supernova Friendship Swap and I got some cute Briar Rose fabric for a little girl's comfort quilt so who knows. Sadly the plain black sock does not compete well against cute little frogs with backpacks. I need to remind myself that when I finish this pair of socks I can go back to knitting my blueberry. Maybe the temptation of a bright blue happy yarn will keep me on track.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Hedgepigs, Hares, and a Giveaway

Sorry for the wordy post today. I really love this quilt top so I have a lot to say about it. I do have a giveaway going on so make sure you scroll all the way to the bottom. When I was younger one of my favorite series was Redwall by Brian Jacques. In all reality it's still one of my favorite books. They're books all about small creatures finding strength they didn't know they had to defeat evil foes much bigger than they are. In Redwall the moles have a very heavy accent and call the hedgehogs "hedgepigs." It is impossible for me to see a hedgehog and not think of the hedgepigs of Redwall.

A few months ago I was in a quilt shop and saw Kate and Birdie Paper Co's "Bluebird Park." This square was at the top of the charm pack and I knew I had to have this fabric. Flipping through the charm pack I found that rabbits were also in abundance in this fabric. Since the Redwall series have several characters who are hares I had a name for my quilt. However I still had the dilemma of what kind of quilt do I make when I don't want to cut my fabric? 

I wanted something a little more than just putting sashing around each square, but I still wanted to keep the charms as whole as possible. After scouring the internet I stumbled on Don't Call Me Betsy's pattern for a Sweet Girly Charm Square Quilt. Since this is a quilt for me to use I decided to use two charm packs to make 30 blocks and I added two borders. 

I struggled a bit with choosing a few blocks to show close-ups of. Since I'm sure you don't want close-ups of all 30 blocks I'm going to share these four today.

I love all those happy little hedgehogs and bright cheerful bunnies.

Whew. You made it to the bottom. I used some of the leftover charms and some fat quarters from my stash to make a strippy charm pouch. Since Tuesday is my birthday I've decided to give this little pouch to one of you! To make things fun tell me your favorite animal (although penguins are mine hedgehogs, bunnies, and squirrels all make the top 5 list.) For a second chance to win follow my blog and leave another comment letting me know you're doing so. I'll use a random number generator to draw a winner early next Monday, June 2. (Due to the cost of international shipping I'm going to limit this to US residents only. Did you know that according to the post office's estimates shipping this little pouch to Australia would cost $42.75? Yikes!)

*This giveaway is now closed. 

Friday, May 23, 2014

Supernova Friendship Swap

This week I got fabric cut for 3 Farmer's Wife blocks, but since that's as far as they've gotten I'm sharing my summer quilting project today. I've been a huge fan of Lee Heinrich who blogs over at Freshly Pieced and is one of the authors of Vintage Quilt Revival. A few weeks ago she shared that Stephanie from Late Night Quilter and Sandra from One Million Stitches where hosting a friendship block swap for Lee's Supernova Quilt. (The first swap isn't until June 15th so there's still time to sign up if you want to join in the fun!) I really like the fact that everyone can either sign up with a partner or get assigned a partner and the two of you stay together for the whole event. Every month you make two blocks. You keep one and send the other to your partner (who does the same thing.)

This is Lee's Supernova. 
*I want to say a special word of thanks to her for letting me use this image.

My partner is Cheryl from Sweet Dreams Quilting. When Stephanie e-mailed us to let us know we'd been partnered up she said she felt like she was setting up a blind date. All she knew about either of us was that we liked cool colors and a grey background. I suggested to Cheryl that we use a fat quarter bundle of Bohemian Anesonia and she liked it. Since the bundle only has 14 fat quarters we're also adding in some solids. Each block calls for 5-7 fabrics. I think I'm going to add a 6th fabric to each block (maybe use the same one for all of the centers) but this is my starting line-up.
You might notice that I have 6 bundles of fabric. Lee's Supernova pattern is made of 9 blocks. I really like the quilts that other people have made using 12 blocks. When I talked with Cheryl about it she agreed that a rectangle quilt would be more useful for her too so we're going to exchange an extra block one of the months. I can't wait for my background fabric to show up so that I can start sewing up some of these blocks.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Father's Day Socks part 1

My Father's Day socks are coming along really well. I couldn't believe it when I finished the leg last night. I figured with the quilt show this weekend eating up most of my time these socks would be sadly neglected. It's a very strange moment when you realize you've moved beyond the stage of beginner. I'm sure most of the people around me would say, "Well duh," when they read this, but I haven't really stopped to examine my skill level in a while. I remember my first quilt show 3 years ago. I entered one quilt that is a great example of a first quilt. The points didn't match, a few seams popped open, and there were more than a few wrinkles on the back. Oh, I did I mention I made it using old jeans. Not the fabric a first quilter should choose. 

I remembered walking around the show and looking at all of the amazing quilts the other ladies had finished that year and wondering if I'd ever be that good. I was seriously questioning if I should just quit since it felt like such a hopeless cause when my husband asked if I enjoyed making my quilt. I thought for a few moments and realized that yes, I did have fun with it. Then I heard a few of the women talk about how long they'd been quilting and most had been at it for 5-7 years. Five years wasn't so long. I continued to quilt and learn as much as I could from the quilters around me. This year I entered 6 quilts into the show! Even more exciting 4 of the 6 were original designs. Walking around I realized that I have moved so far beyond a beginner quilter.

Now seeing how much of this sock I knit this week in all of it's busy chaos I realize I've moved beyond a beginner knitter too. Having such projects as my lace shawl and my heavily cabled green sweater under my belt it's weird that a sock makes me feel accomplished. I read once that all knitting is broken down into the knit and purl stitch. Everything else is just a variation of those two stitches. This has given me the ability to look at complicated patterns and say, "It's just two stitches, I can do this." However I may not be able to do it fast. Knitting fast takes experience.

Here's a close-up of the pattern. Old Joe Socks is a great pattern for guy socks. It's nice to have something more than a vanilla sock, but still very simple and appropriate for work. I love how perfectly my water bottle fills in for a leg. It really gives the sock the shape it needs to show off the pattern.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Blogger's Quilt Festival Spring 2014-Original Design

I was so excited to see the Original Design category in this year's Blogger's Quilt Festival. A couple years ago my quilt guild had a workshop on the drunkard's path. I wanted a quilt for my bed that would make me happy whenever I saw it. I've always loved penguins and with a little bit of playing I figured out how to make a penguin with the drunkard's path block. My first drawing felt very busy so I alternated some setting squares and added some fish for variety. The result was a quilt that made me very happy. 

The women in my guild loved my penguins and encouraged me to write the pattern. (The link is available on my sidebar.) I figured most people probably wouldn't want a bed covered in penguins so after finishing the queen sized quilt I made this lap version that finishes 60"x60". Oddly enough I'm still not tired of the drunkard's path and used it for my Bloomin' Onion quilt this year. I know that curved seams aren't for everyone so I'm working at adding instructions to the pattern so that the blocks can be made with applique.

The pebble quilting reminded me of bubbles so I chose to do that around all of the penguins and fish. I love how it really makes the penguins pop.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Blogger's Quilt Festival Spring 2014-Modern Quilts

I can't believe it's already time for the Blogger's Quilt Festival. I had so much fun seeing all of the amazing quilts last fall. I can't wait to see what everyone will add this time. Be sure to go check out Amy's blog to see some great quilts! This year I've decided to enter "Bloomin' Onion" in the Modern Quilts category and "Penguins on Parade" in the Original Design category (I'll share that in part 2!)

If you're a regular reader of my blog you might remember "Bloomin' Onion". I really wanted to do spring pictures, but ended up photographing this quilt during a blizzard. Since spring has finally come to Iowa I decided to do another photo shoot with this quilt. I'm writing up the pattern for this quilt, and I think this will be the cover shot. When the pattern came to me I had the name Chrysanthemum in my head. I decided to name the finished quilt "Bloomin' Onion" due to the onion backing, but it doesn't make sense for the pattern to be called that.

This year the members of my quilt guild were given a paint chip and challenged to make a quilt using at least three colors from our chip. I struggled for months to figure out what to do with my pink paint chip. One morning I woke up with the idea of a flower made using the drunkard's path block. Even after sketching the design for this quilt it wouldn't leave me alone. I pieced the top in four days (which included me going to my day job.)

Thankfully the spring quilt retreat was that weekend. We went to the quilt shop near the retreat center and I found some red onion fabric on the clearance rack. I couldn't believe how perfectly it matched my top. Saturday I basted the quilt and managed to do all of the circular quilting before the end of the day. This was my first time to do circular quilting. There is room for improvement, but I think I'll be using this style of quilting again in the future.

For a quilt label I used the fabrics from the front to make a fabric "paint" chip. Up against the white you can actually tell that the light fabric really is pink.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Dancing the "Happy Knitting" Dance

Today I'm definitely dancing the "Happy Knitting" dance. I finished the first Hermione sock. The pattern uses a different heel and toe then I usually do. Erica did a great job of walking me through each new step which made it easy and a lot of fun to try something different. 

In more "Happy Knitting" dance news I finished the second sleeve for Blueberry. It feels like I've been working on this forever, but looking at my Ravelry page I finished both sleeves in 6 weeks. Considering all of the quilting I've been doing in those 6 weeks that's really pretty good time.

Last night I even cast on for dad's Father's Day socks. I'm using the Old Joe pattern by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee for these socks. It's the first time that I've knit socks on 3 needles, but since the pattern is repeated 3 times it makes sense to do it this way. Unfortunately it means the socks don't lay flat when I'm not working on them and there's no good way to get a good picture. My goal (in all of it's insanity) is to make a sock a week for the next four weeks so next week there should be enough progress to get a good picture (even if the sock isn't finished.)

If you're wondering I'm using Knit Pick's Stroll Fingering in Midnight Heather. It reminds me of a blackbird in that it's almost black, but has hints of greens and blues depending upon the light.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Farmer's Wife 17

I'm so excited for the Blogger's Quilt Festival to start on Friday. Since I'll be posting quilts for the festival on Friday I thought I'd share my Farmer's Wife progress. I got started on three blocks this week. After fighting with these blocks for almost five hours (during which one of the blocks may or may not have learned how to fly across the room) I decided it was time to stop.

I started cutting this block out a few weeks ago. Because of the odd triangles I decided to use the templates. Of course one of the templates decided to hide with the white fabric triangles. After printing out another copy the missing template turned up. I think I messed up the seam allowance on the lower right corner. I'm hoping if I remove this and resew it everything will be okay. I was so frustrated with this block when I discovered this mistake though I chose to teach the block to fly rather than rip it out.

#22 Corn and Beans

I used templates to cut out the angled bits on this block. I love how the basket looks, but I made a cutting error on the base. After taking a break from it I can see now that this one will be easily fixed when  I recut the rectangles. (I know I probably should do today, but my knitting isn't fighting with me today so it's getting some much needed love.)

#8 Bouquet

The last block I worked on today I'm rather happy with. Strangely enough this is the one block that I rotary cut instead of using the templates. The points aren't perfect, but considering the other two blocks I can live with a little imperfection.

#65 Peaceful Hours


Friday, May 9, 2014

Farmer's Wife Friday 16

In addition to being back on track with blogging I'm also back to my Farmer's Wife blocks! I did the math this morning and if I was making my goal perfectly I'd have 38 blocks done by this point. I have 33 blocks so I'm very happy with where I'm at. Last Friday my quilt guild had a work night and I brought along my blocks to try and get caught up. I remembered everything except the power chord for my sewing machine. Grrr. After cutting fabric for one of my blocks I realized that I had arrived at my first basket. I can't really explain why, but I don't like applique. Of all the blocks with teeny tiny pieces and Y seams, the baskets were two that I was least looking forward too. The two Kathy's in my guild were working on their hand applique blocks from the fall workshop so they helped me on this block. Kathy K. had this handy little tool for making bias folded pieces without burning your fingers. (I think I made enough bias to do the handle on the other basket too!) Kathy F. was already sitting at my table so she lent me a needle (yep forgot hand needles too) and walked me through what I was doing. It took most of the evening to sew on that little handle, but I'm pretty proud of how it looks.

#35 Flower Basket

I also got this block cut out on Friday and then used it as my leaders and followers Saturday while working on another project. We used this block in our mystery quilt this year, and it was really fun doing it again.

#21 Contrary Wife

One of the facebook groups I belong to is doing a quilt along this year. We were able to choose to participate in the group project or do our own thing. I decided Farmer's Wife was a big enough commitment so I'm using that as my project. This week they asked us for an update. It's been a while since I've posted all of my blocks laid out. This is the layout I've decided on, but I can't choose a background. Originally I was thinking of using an aqua/blue, but seeing it laid out like this I'm wondering if grey wouldn't be a better choice. I'm also wondering if I should choose two greys and do a checkerboard style sashing. Any advice?


Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Still here

I've finished the secretive quilting project so my posts should go back to a more normal schedule. Since we use my sewing machine cabinet as our computer desk my husband and I haven't been online much the past week or two. Turns out that one week of internet silence results in a phone call to confirm life. I'll try not to do that again (or at least give warning the next time it happens.) I've actually had some time to work on knitting this week. The sleeve still isn't done, but it's getting closer.

I think part of the reason why the sleeve isn't done is because I've been distracted by Hermione's Socks lately. I realized that Father's Day is coming up about a month away and I really need my sock needles. Since I learned to knit socks I've started a tradition of making socks for my dad. I have yarn and a pattern picked out for dad's Father's Day socks, but all of the needles that are appropriately sized for me to make socks have yarn on them. I just need to finish the foot and toe and will be done with the first Hermione sock. It's not the order I like to do things in, but since there's a deadline I'll probably knit a pair of Father's Day socks before this little one gets a mate.