Tuesday, April 29, 2014

The Lover's Knot

The good news is that I've finished my mystery quilt. (I still don't have a name for her. I'm leaning towards "Fresh Air" but I haven't made the final decision yet.) Unfortunately the rain hasn't finished. We're lucky in that we just have rain and heavy winds here so I'm really not complaining. Since I have the perfect location selected for the final photo shoot of this quilt I'm going to wait for the perfect weather. There are only so many ways you can take sneak peaks of a quilt so I've decided to branch out a little bit with today's blog posting.

Because I don't get enough quilts in my life I love reading books about quilting. Last month I stumbled upon A Drunkard's Path and loved it. I love it so much that I've decided to read the first book in the series, "The Lover's Knot." Nell is getting ready for her wedding when her fiance announces he's not ready to get married. Nell runs away for the weekend to the small town of Archer's Rest, NY where her grandmother runs the local quilt shop. Her grandmother falls down the stairs and breaks her leg prompting Nell to extend her stay. Things take an unexpected twist (while I guess not too unexpected since it's on the back cover) when the handyman expanding the quilt shop is murdered and Nell's fiance returns to win her back. I'm only half way through the book, but I'm really enjoying it. I'm can't wait to read more of the Someday Quilts Mysteries.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Yarn Along

This past week has been super crazy. I've been busy working, but can't share any real pictures other than this one. That bowl contains the trimmings from the blocks I had to square up, and the thread of 120 blocks that I sewed backwards. I'm going to paraphrase a quote from Stephanie Pearl-McPhee (aka Yarn Harlot) that's been running through my head this weekend. "The only difference between experience and novice is that the experienced person makes bigger mistakes faster." If I wasn't so confident I would have checked my first block against the pattern and would have discovered that I was sewing it together backward. Instead I glanced at what came out of the machine, saw that it resembled what I remembered the finished quilt to look like and plunged ahead. (I'll explain later why calling it "creative license" wasn't an option with this quilt.)

My plan for this week had been to share my finished Mystery Quilt today, my usual yarn along post on Wednesday, and 2 Farmer's Wife blocks on Friday. Because of the massive amount of unpicking I had to do wind storm we got I wasn't able to finish take pictures of the Mystery Quilt. Things are settling down so I should be able to finish attaching the last two sides of the Mystery Quilt tonight and will be able to photograph it tomorrow after work. I might even be able to sew a Farmer's Wife block one of these evenings and will have something to share on Friday. If everything goes according to plan (it's early in the plan phase, please don't point out how many ways things can go wrong with this plan) Wednesday's post will feature Mystery Quilt and I'll make my April deadline for a lovely year of finishes. Since quilts are taking over Wednesday's post I'm sharing my yarn along post today.

I finished the increase section of blueberry and just have another inch of regular knitting before I start the shoulder shaping. I can't believe I seriously thought I could knit this entire sweater for the ravelympics. I'm not sure how those knitters finish a sweater in two weeks (or even those who do the sweater in a month thing in November.) Maybe one of these years I'll set a goal of learning to knit faster. For now though I'm going to stick with the idea that knitting is a hobby and hobbies should be enjoyable. The sweater will be finished before fall and that will be good enough for me.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

For Mom

There are a lot of things that my mom is great at. I think I get a lot of my creativity from her (someday I'll have to share pictures of the amazing dresses she made my sister and me for Christmas and Easter.) Unfortunately technology is an area that continues to challenge her. She's been following my blog via facebook, but something has happened that's preventing her from logging in. I'd offer to help, but she lives several hours from me and I've also inherited her technological skills so I won't be any help.  Since she's still wanting to follow my blog I've added the option of following my blog by e-mail.

If you want to follow my blog through e-mail look to the right --->. Scroll down past the "About Me" and "Craftsy Patterns" to the followers section. You'll see options for Google Followers, Followers, Follow this blog with Bloglovin', and Follow by Email. Put your e-mail address into the box and click submit! I've never done this before so I can't tell you if new posts will be sent to your inbox or if you'll get a link telling you that there's a new post.

I love having followers so please let me know if there's any other networks you'd like me to add to my side bar. Since a post feels very incomplete without pictures here's some flowers for mom.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Hermoine's Socks

Blueberry has been sucked into a black hole. I'm really not sure whether there's been knitting with no progress, or most of my time has been spent on other projects. Since there's no progress to show on her I've decided to show you guys how Hermione's socks are coming. I've reached the heel! I was a little confused by Erica's pattern which tells you to move on to the next section based on the number of rounds you've done rather than the length of the sock. I didn't feel like counting 20 repeats of the pattern so I just stopped when my leg reached 7". I'm really loving the spiral effect that the yarn is creating. I can't wait to wear these next winter. (Thankfully we're finally getting temperatures warm enough that hand knit socks are too hot!)

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Fabric Shopping

Last weekend my sister invited me to go shopping in Sioux City with her. It's only an hour away, but I don't like going to big cities (okay places with any real traffic) by myself. I forced suggested we go to the fabric store there. I suppose at this point in time I should go back to my LQS. I ran into Roelofs a few weeks ago to grab a fabric marker for labeling all of my quilts before the quilt show next month. I'd heard rumor that they'd added some new fabric to their clearance section so naturally I had to wander through that area. I found this great Amy Butler print for half price.

Okay, back to the Sioux City trip with my sister and our visit to Heart and Hand. I was a bit nervous when we pulled up to the front of the store. I'd been picturing a lovely old warehouse and instead arrived at a strip mall. Once I stepped inside though I was in total awe. (So much so that I forgot that my camera was in my bag.) Their store fills two store fronts. I found some great solids that coordinate really well with my Amy Butler fabric. 

My husband loves monkeys. I've even helped him to start a sock monkey collection. Of course when I saw fabric with monkeys I had to get it.

Last month when I was on my quilting retreat I found a charm pack of Bluebird Park. I was debating buying yardage with hedgehogs, but decided I was buying a lot of fabric for my mystery quilt so I resisted the impulse. I've regretted it ever since. I was so excited that they had charm packs of Bluebird Park at Heart and Hand. They didn't have the hedgehog fabric I wanted, but I found this really nice blue flower fabric from the line. I think this is going to be my summer project for when the quilt show is finished. I've almost decided on the pattern I want to use. Hopefully next month when I start cutting these charming fabrics I'll have the same thoughts.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Farmer's Wife Friday 15

This week I decided to use the templates for both of the blocks. I'm still a bit confused how quilting survived before the invention of the rotary cutter. I'm not sure what's going on with the first block, but it does come out at 6.5" so I'm keeping it. I'm in love with this setting and really like the fact that with the sashing around each block I can make it a little bigger and square up on the blocks I need to. I'm leaning towards using a colored background fabric, but still haven't made a final choice on that yet.

The first block for this week is WCTU. I think this block must have been used for autograph quilts (maybe raffled off to raise money for the local chapter of the WCTU.) I think it would be really fun to make a quilt full of these blocks for a special occasion like graduation, wedding, anniversary, etc. in place of a guest book. I also decided to lighten things up with this block and use shades of grey instead of black.

#99 W.C.T.U.

This is another block that I really like. I don't understand why the templates had me use triangles for all of the black pieces in the corner. I think it would work better to do a square with two triangles, but since I didn't want to figure out the math I guess I have to live with imperfect points. They're glaring at me in the picture, but for some strange reason they physical block looks better to me.

#100 Weathervane


Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Finding Balance

I've done a lot better this week at finding balance. I've chosen one time of the day that I play the video game and the rest of the time I focus on things like knitting, reading, and quilting. I'm not done with the 6 round increase section, but I have finished 7 of the 12 rounds. I knew when I set the goal of 72 rounds in a week it was a bit lofty so I'm still very happy with the progress made this week.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

In which I learn I know how to quilt

Do any of you have one of those friends who believes you are capable of so much more than you are? I took Mystery with me to the quilt shop last weekend to find a good thread for quilting her. One of the members of my quilt guild works there and gave me advice on thread color. I was figuring this is only my fourth quilt doing free motion quilting on so I was going to keep it simple with an all-over swirl. Kathy suggested that it would look really cool to do a different design in the ribbons to accent them. My initial response was, "I can't do that." She had the perfect come back, "Why not?" After helping me find the perfect thread for my quilt that little question kept haunting me. 

When I first looked through my quilting book to find the swirl pattern there was a really cool half-daisy design that I liked. Again my brain said, "That would look nice, but you can't do that." All of the sudden I heard Kathy asking me "Why?" I flipped through the book and found a leaf that would be really pretty in the ribbons and decided to try it. 

Turns out I'm better at quilting than I thought I was. It's not as perfect as I want, but an amazing thing happened when I laid it out on the bed and took a step back. All the little imperfections weren't so noticeable anymore. Amazing how much better the quilt looks with that single step back. Now if I can decide what to do for the borders. Any suggestions?

Check out that cute little leaf. I hate to say it, but Kathy is right. I can quilt!

Friday, April 11, 2014

Farmer's Wife Friday 14

This week I just have one block to add to my Farmer's Wife count. I do wish to point out that this block has 36 squares that finish at 1" and of those 36 squares 28 are half square triangles. I finished this block in just under 2 hours. I do see one mistake as I'm posting this, but I think it's going to stay. I've really been liking the trend in baby quilts right now where people turn a single block into a quilt. I think I might go shopping this weekend for some brighter colors to make a quilt with 6" squares. Right now I'm trying to decide if I should make a 36"x36" quilt or if I should add a border and make it 40"x40". 

#38 Four Winds


Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Yarning Along

I made a mistake. I bought my husband a Nintendo DS for his birthday (really I've come in way under budget on gifts the past few holidays so I took all that savings and spent it on the gaming system.) He loves it and has been playing it a lot. The mistake is I got the Brain Age game. It's really fun, but requires you to log in every day and play to earn these little virtual stamps. Still not seeing the mistake? He's being a nice husband and sharing so I find myself playing video games when I should be knitting. I'm sure in a little while I'll be able to find balance, but right now the sleeve on Blueberry is still rather short. I have gotten past the increases every 4 rounds and have moved into the section where I increase every 6 rounds. Hopefully next week I'll have found balance and will be past the 6 round repeat section, but I won't be too mad at myself if that doesn't happen. There's still a lot of last minute stuff to get finished for the quilt show next month so I know knitting time will be precious.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Bloomin' Onion

Recently on facebook on of my friends asked how frequently we listen to our inner quilter voices. I replied that I my inner quilter voice is loudest at 4a.m. Usually I can ignore it for a couple of hours and then write down my ideas when I'm ready to be awake. This quilt was different. After months of struggling with different ideas for the paint chip quilt I woke up one morning with a full design in my head. I love the drunkard's path blocks and the 7" size go together really fast so a few hours later I had this stack ready to go.

This idea wouldn't let me sleep so I found myself sewing a couple of hours before work each day and was finished with the top on Wednesday. Friday afternoon I found a great backing fabric and variegated pink thread and was back to work on this quilt the next morning. After basting the quilt I traced a spool of thread in the center to give me a circle to follow. I used my darning foot for the first few rounds and then switched to my walking foot. I did pick out my first attempt. The second attempt isn't as perfect as I want, but its pretty good for my first time doing circular quilting.

March in Iowa is very brown and muddy so I didn't want to lay this quilt on the ground. Spring (at least green grass) usually shows up over the course of a week and I was hoping for that to happen. I held out until yesterday afternoon when we were struck by a blizzard. Another quilter on facebook encouraged me not to let the forecast cancel my plans so after work I headed out with the quilt. I don't think she meant I was supposed to take pictures during the blizzard, but I kind of like all of the snow on the quilt.

My husband and I went out last weekend for my first attempt at photographing this quilt. There wasn't any snow, but the wind proved to be a challenge. Thankfully I was able to get one shot that showed the whole quilt (and is snow free!)

When I got inside from the blizzard photo shoot I hung the quilt in our hall to dry. I love how quilts will naturally drape themselves into beautiful arrangements. You can see the red onion fabric I used for the backing and binding and understand why this quilt has been named, "Bloomin' Onion."

Bloomin' Onion
original pattern
Kona Solids

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Lovely Year of Finishes April

After writing my Yarn Along post for today I've realized that it would be a good idea to make a list of everything I want to finish before this year's quilt show. Since Fiber of All Sorts hosts a linky party for this every month I'll be linking up over there.

First up is to finish the binding on my comma quilt. This poor thing has had the quilting done since the beginning of February and still isn't finished. I do have the binding attached and have sewn half of it down already so hopefully this will be finished this week. Along with the binding I want to put labels on this quilt and the Hobbit quilt.

The big project for this month is the mystery quilt. I've gathered my backing, batting, and thread. Friday my quilt guild is hosting a work night so I should be able to baste my quilt then. I think I've decided to quilt this with lots of swirls. I debated doing something to highlight the ribbons and just do a single swirl in each churn dash, but then I remembered my FMQ skills aren't there yet.

Finally I'm putting my Crosshatch Bag on the list. I made the center portions the right size and started assembling the blocks when my bobbin ran out. I was getting tired so I took that as my cue to quit. I need to finish putting the blocks together and then make the bag. My focus this month is going to be to finish the Mystery Quilt so this one might be on the list again next month. One of my friends is hosting a Great Strides Walk this summer to raise funds for CF research. I'm planning to sell my mystery quilt for her walk, but I'm pretty sure people will only want to buy a finished quilt.

Machine Work vs. Hand Work

I'm a bit surprised that I have any knitting to share this week. I hear the clock ticking on my quilt guild's annual show (I have 41 days left. Eek!) Usually my knitting and quilting don't get in the way of each other because in my mind machine work is separate from hand work. Machine work gets done in large chunks on weekends and the occasional mornings when I wake up super early and inspired. Since my sewing studio doubles as our kitchen I don't set up my machine unless I can dedicate a minimum of an hour to work. Hand work gets done while I sip coffee in the morning or am watching t.v. with my husband at night. Normally hand work is knitting. However right now I'm buckling down and sewing on some long waiting bindings. (Unless it's part of a workshop or the mystery all of our quilts have to be completely finished in order to hang in the show. The grace period in this is that there's no deadline of when we have to start so any quilts that don't get finished in time can hang in next year's show.)

I'm not sure how my knitting post has turned into a quilting ramble. Back on topic. Last week I had two cuffs and this week I've got stuff attached to both cuffs! You can tell Blueberry hasn't gotten much attention this week. I am feeling a bit more confident with the pattern and aren't tied so closely to my stitch counter or pattern. (I think that will change when my increases move from every 4 rounds to every 6, but I'm right now I'm just appreciating that little bit of lace that's grown above the cuff.)

I'm really late to the party with Hermione's Socks. I know lots of people have knit them before, but there's a good reason for that. This pattern rocks! It takes me a long time to memorize patterns (please note that I'm still using the pattern for blueberry when there are only two lines where anything happens.) I had Hermione memorized after only three repeats of the pattern! Granted the pattern is only 4 stitches wide and only 2 rows have action, but it's still memorized. I love that this sock can go into my repertoire of easy sock knitting when I want something that's just a step above vanilla. I also enjoy the fact that it will work great with hand painted yarns. I never know what to do other than vanilla which doesn't seem to do justice to those lovelies. This pattern is even basic enough that I can see using it for my husband or dad with a more masculine yarn color. The pattern only gives directions for a women's sock, but since the repeat is only 4 stitches wide it won't be hard to change.