Monday, September 28, 2015

Fresh Snow

This spring one of my friends opened a quilt shop. They specialize in fabrics for the modern quilter. I think I've stated before that I don't really like batiks. They are beautiful fabrics, but a bit too formal for my tastes. Did you know that they make batiks that can appeal to the modern quilter? I sure didn't. It's caused a bit of an identity crisis to find more and more fabrics labeled as batik that I love. Recently Kathy sent me pictures of some of the new fabrics they'd gotten in the shop and asked if I could design a pattern for them.

I found a block in one of my dictionaries that I liked and before I knew it I had a quilt. (I really wish I could remember what block I chose and how it evolved into this quilt, All that I know is that I had the idea of using a single block as the layout, and then certain parts looked boring so I added another block here and changed a piece there until I had a design that I loved.)

One of the hardest parts (at least for me) of designing a quilt is taking pictures of the quilt that make it stand out. After scouring the internet for potential locations I discovered one of our nursing homes has a beautiful lobby. After getting permission to take pictures there I took the quilt and got my cover shot! I have so many ideas of ways to use their lobby for future quilts.

If you're interested in the pattern or kit be sure to check out Stitch Studio
*The kit isn't in the etsy store, but if you send them an e-mail I know they'll be happy to send one out.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Chubby Churn Dash

This weekend I had the opportunity to take a class with Mary Fons (yes THE Fons and Porter Mary Fons!) When I saw she was going to be teaching at a retreat center 30 minutes from my parents I knew I had to go. The class was aimed at beginners, but I wanted to meet the woman who taught me so much about quilting.  She joined her mom on the show around the same time that I started quilting. It was so nice to see someone my age asking the questions I wanted answered and making the same mistakes I was. We really did learn together.

The class used the half and quarter triangle ruler. I love learning different ways for making HSTs. It seemed weird at first to cut triangles out instead of squares, but I loved being able to press and move on with perfect HSTs. It was also really fun seeing how the quilters all made the same block, but every block was unique. It was so wonderful to get together in a relaxed setting and learn from each other. Most of the ladies and gentleman who were there have been quilting for several years and were there to meet and learn from Mary. (Even though we were experienced quilters who could have made a churn dash on our own I heard everyone say that they learned at least one thing in the class. If you ever have the opportunity to take a class from Mary DO IT!!!!!)

I lean towards the modern and while I haven't done improve or wonky, I do choose more modern colors. I decided to do (another) monochromatic quilt that plays on shades of grey. I did push myself though and chose grey prints. I might have a couple that are the same line or designer, but I chose fat quarters so for most of my fabrics I don't have a clue who designed or made it. As I was laying out my blocks they looked a bit flat so I added a pop of yellow to each block. It ties together all of the blocks and really makes everything pop.  I think there will be one yellow churn dash some where in the quilt too. I can't wait until I get the rest of my churn dashes made and get to see this quilt. I think it's going to be a stunning one.

Friday, August 7, 2015

New Job!!! New Calendar!!!

The past few months have been an unbelievable whirlwind of ups and downs. Most of them involve work and I don't want to say negative things about my past employer so I'm just going to say that it was a very stressful time. Unfortunately I had to take a break from my blog in order to preserve my sanity. The good news is I've gotten a new job that I'm so excited about. I've only been working for a week, but I can tell that it is going to be something significantly less stressful and hopefully more fun. I've fallen out of the habit of blogging so for now I'm going to commit to Friday posts. Hopefully by the end of the year I'll be familiar enough with the habit that I'll resume my old schedule of Monday, Wednesday, and Friday postings, but, as my mom reminds me frequently, I'm starting with baby steps.

One of the things I'm most excited about with my new job is a flexible schedule. Of course this means that every day is different and I don't have set hours. You'd think that with all of the school supplies on sale right now I'd have no trouble finding a calendar, but I'm picky. I found a great one for next year however that still left the last five months of this year that I needed to keep track of. I found this calendar on the clearance rack. It's not perfect, but it will work and the price was right.

What doesn't work for me is how boring it is. I received my copy of American Patchwork and Quilting this week and was thrilled when I saw Jean Wells' pattern for a notebook cover. I haven't been following the piece and play series the magazine has been hosting this year so I didn't want to try the curved, itty-bitty, insert strip piecing that Jean uses. Instead I used her instructions for measuring my notebook, gathering my supply list, and assembling the cover and went with a basic piecing plan for my cover.

I was so excited to find the deer fabric. I got a deal on the end of the bolt and had enough to use it for the lining of my journal. I used 3 fat quarters for the rest of the cover. I think when I make another cover I'm going to use a slightly bigger piece for the main fabric. My tabs are a bit short so I might add something to help hold the cover in place. For now it works and I love how much more personality my calendar has.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Sisters Sewing Day

*Sorry for the wordiness of this post. The story is one I'm so excited to share, but there's not a lot of pictures. Feel free to scroll down to the bottom of the post to see pictures of the Barbados Bag I made this weekend.

My little sister got jipped when it came to sewing lessons. I'm pretty sure that I was not the best of students (it's possible that I begged for lessons and my mom decided to teach me before I was really ready to learn and ended up breaking her sewing machine) and when my sister was old enough to learn she was battling with some pretty serious health problems. She's had the desire to learn and event knows a little about sewing. Not only that she has quite the stash of fabric from our grandmother and has the machine our mom got when she graduated from high school. I've been dragging her to quilt shops for a while and she's even started buying fabric for that future day when she's learned to sew/quilt.

This weekend we went shopping together and I needed to stop at the LQS to get some interfacing. As I was finding what I needed checking out the new fabrics she started poking around the sample bags that they have. She found the Barbados Bag by Pink Sands Design and asked if I could help her make it. Of course I agreed and we immediately started picking out our fabrics. I wanted to help her make the bag rather than doing it for her so I got fabric to make my own. 

I've tried teaching things to my sister in the past, but since our learning styles are very different it usually ended up in a half finished project and hurt feelings. This time I decided to work one step ahead of her and let her follow the pattern. It worked wonderfully because I had the time to figure out what we were doing. I also let her  follow the pattern and answered questions as she asked them. The only bad thing is that since she was a step behind me the whole time she didn't have her bag finished when it was time for me to leave.  She's got her strap sewn so I think she should be able to do the last steps on her own with phone support as needed.

As promised here's the pictures of my bag!

The back of the bag. (The full shot of the back turned out better than the front.) The blue fabric is divided into two pockets.

On the front of the bag there's a pocket behind the grey pebbly fabric and the blue fabric creates a zippered pocket. The top of the bag is also shut with a zipper. Zippers are still a little scary, especially when step 6 starts with the instructions "Don't be too afraid of this step!"

Thankfully the pattern is very well written with lots of pictures so it was easy to understand. The inside of the bag has two more pockets. I was so excited to find this purple flower fabric. It's the perfect lining and adds this touch of hidden color just for me.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Knothole Moebius Update

It's looking like a tangled mess right now, but it's growing.  (I love how the blue in thd yarn is the same as the blue on my quilt back. I hate that its May and one quilt is barely enough in the morning.)

It's a bit hard to tell, but there are all of these little loops or knotholes in the piece. I can't wait to block it and have those spaces really shine. 

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Knothole Moebius

I've been enjoying working on my Knothole Moebius Cowl this week. It's a fairly simple pattern so it's easy for me to work on it at the end of the stressful work days that I've been experiencing. My one complaint is that every other row is purl. I don't know why, but purling is not nearly as fun as knitting.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Casting On and On and On

I debated whether or not I wanted to write this post since there isn't much to see. Since I'm trying to get back into regular blogging and I've committed to showing the truths of creating and not just the end result I give you my moebius scarf. When I fell in love with the pattern I thought I was making a mobius scarf where the piece is knit flat and then twisted at the end. Turns out it's knit with the thing twisted from the cast on. All I can say is thank goodness for YouTube. I think I watched Cat Bordhi's tutorial a dozen times and ripped it out three times before everything made sense. I'm still knitting the first round so I'm not completely out of the frogging stage, but it's starting to show some hope.

Friday, May 1, 2015

EPP Travel Case

While working on my daffodil wall hanging I realized I enjoy having hand work that can travel with me. You'd think that with all the knitting I do travelling hand work should be pretty easy, but I don't tend to choose projects that are small and are easy to do a few stitches on when waiting places. I liked the applique, but even the small project was a bit big for my purse, and I haven't found very many applique patterns that inspire me to make them. Enter English Paper Piecing. I know this has been around for ages, but I've never felt drawn to it. I love that it's fairly small, I can just take a few pieces with me at a time, and the seams are short enough that it's easy to pack everything up when my turn is called or my break is over.

Since I want to travel with my EPP I decided my first project should be a case. I love this pattern from The Zen of Making. It has a front pocket for my thread, scissors, papers, and seam ripper. Inside is a divided pocket for my fabric and my completed flowers. When I was really young I found a quilting book at my grandmas and decided I wanted to give it a try. Knowing nothing about quilting and having the advise of two very skilled seamstresses who also knew next to nothing about quilting I decided my first quilt would be a Grandmother's Flower Garden. The quilt never made it past the planning stage, but the pattern has always had a special place in my heart. Since Grandmother's Flower Garden is a common EPP pattern I've decided to make flowers for that quilt. I sense this is going to be a project many years in the making, but that's okay. Sometimes slow stitching is exactly what the mind and heart need.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Celtic Sock Update

One of the problems of RA is that illnesses usually are like dominos which means that if I catch one bug I'm going to catch three or four before health returns. I'm sorry for the recent absence but I should be back now. Thanks for sticking  with me. 

Unfortunately I haven't been able to do much lately, but I am almost finished with the first celtic sock! I'm just about done with the toe, but I wanted to get this posting up before I head to work. 

The front cable is gourgeous but the sides haven't been ignored in this pattern. Check out these cute little braids that run around the rest of the sock.

Pattern is "Celtic Spirit" from Sock Club and  the yarn is one of Knit Picks Stroll Tonal Sock Yarns (sorry I can't remember the colorway right now.)

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

St. Patrick and St. David

My husband and I are both mutts. Our families have been in America long enough that we can trace our ancestry back to several countries in Europe. I'm proudest of my Irish heritage though and he claims the Welsh so March is a month of ancestral pride. I've read that St. Patrick's Day isn't that major of a holiday in Ireland, but in the states it is a huge celebration of Irish heritage. My socks aren't finished, but they're looking good. I'll definitely be wearing these next year to celebrate my Irish side.

St. David's Day is a lesser known holiday here in the states, but from what I can gather is a pretty big day in Wales. The daffodil is a symbol for Wales and is in season in March so many people will wear a daffodil on March 1 in honor of St. David. (They also wear leeks, but I'm not including a leek in my wall hanging.) 

I'm having a lot of fun with this project and it's going significantly faster than I thought it would. I'm already trying to figure out how I'm going to quilt it. I'm leaning towards outlining the flowers and leaves and doing a micro-stippling in the background, but I'm not sure what to do with the dark blue boarders. Suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

The Wallet's Nightmare

Yesterday my wallet had a nightmare. Five hours in one quilt store. No class and only minimal distractions of this quilter's attention by a computerized longarm. The only bright spot in my wallet's nightmare is that Quilter's Headquarters in Sioux Falls is a small store that specializes in basics and blenders. I'm working at finishing up projects right now so I don't need any of these fabrics at the moment. This fall when I have to purchase yards of background fabric my wallet can breath a little easier knowing that all of their fabric is $8.00 a yard with a one yard minimum cut.

Of course five hours in a quilt store did result in some purchases. My guild has been trying to get us into hand-turned applique. I've never found an applique pattern that really speaks to me until Saturday. My husband's favorite flower is the daffodil and we need to take down the snowman wall hanging. I fell in love with this pattern and found some great fabrics to work with.

They're in the process of changing thread lines so the spool of thread was half price. Did you know that new spools of thread come individually packaged in boxes with little holes for breathing? So adorable.

Monday, March 9, 2015

The Last of the Shoulds

This weekend I got to go on a quilt retreat with my guild. I love getting together with these ladies, but lately quilting has felt like something I should be doing rather than a passion. My poor husband came home from work Friday morning to find me in a puddle of nerves contemplating staying home curled in a ball. The poor man hadn't slept in 20+ hours, but kindly spent time talking with me to figure out what the problem was. (See why I love him.) We realized that this year I've been doing a lot of "should" sewing. I've been making things for other people and focusing more on their tastes than my own. Don't get me wrong, it's great to be generous with your talents and to consider what the recipient likes, but these past few months none I've been fighting to include a whisper of my own voice in my quilts. My husband asked me what I was taking with me on the retreat and realized that my packing list was full of more "shoulds." 

I did have one more piece of required quilting that I needed to get done so Friday I focused on that. This year is the 75th annual Orange City Tulip Festival, and they asked our guild to make a quilt in commemoration of this. I figured that with my passion for design this was a project I should participate in. We decided to make a bunch of Dutch houses and buildings. The only way I could figure out to make it work was paper piecing, however now I know how to design paper piecing patterns in EQ7.

I took this picture Friday night before I called it quits. I haven't figured out how to print patterns in color so I was working from a grey scale for my paper piecing. I sewed all four houses at the same time, and only had six pieces that were wrong. Considering all of the pieces involved in these houses I think that's pretty good. Unfortunately I was so happy to move on to the quilt that was for me that I forgot to take a picture of the finished houses, but this gives you a pretty good idea of what they look like.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

St. Patrick's Day Socks

One of my favorite books is Sock Club. I've made a few of the patterns from this book and several more are on my list. (I actually loved it so much that it fell apart and I had to take it to my office store to get a spiral binding attached.)

One of the patterns I've had my eye on for a few years is the Celtic Spirit by Judy Alexander. I even ordered some green yarn from KnitPicks a few years ago, but the timing has never been right. Finally I needed a new project at the beginning of March and I got to cast these socks on!

I'm done with the leg of the first sock  and will start ghe heel as doon as I finish my blog post. I'm hoping I can get these done  by March 17 so I can show my Irish heritage with knitted pride. 

Monday, March 2, 2015

Hummingbirds and Spring

It's odd to say that spring is in the air when there's still snow on the ground and more in the forecast, but the days are getting warmer. After weeks of single digit temps we're finally getting into the 20s and 30s. It's March so winter isn't over, but the promise of an end is near. I figured with my spring mood it would be the perfect time to share the ipad case I made my mom for Christmas.

I couldn't find a pattern for what I wanted to do, but thought a simple case would be no problem. My mom goes to lots of meetings and conferences so I wanted her ipad to be well protected with all of the travelling she does. I created a beautiful bag that was well padded with a zipper to keep everything in place. Unfortunately it was too small to actually put the ipad in. While my side-to-side measurements were too small, I had more than enough length. After cutting off the zipper I realized that the bag was okay, it was just the opening of the zipper that was too tiny. I went with a simple finish on the bag, and am rather pleased with how it turned out.

The adorable humming bird is a pattern designed by Quilt Art Designs. The block measures 12", but since I needed a pocket smaller than 12" I printed the pattern at half size. 

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

It's Growing!!!

Blueberry continues to grow. I've already reached the increases! I'm really loving the pattern this verigated yarn is creating, and the lace is still centered.

Friday, January 30, 2015

January Finish

At the beginning of the month I gave myself the goal of finishing my Compass Rose Table Runner from my quilt guild's fall workshop. I'm so glad I set this goal because it helped me focus on finishing this rather than starting a new project (which will be my goal for next month.) Since this table runner is a gift for someone who actually has a table built for more than two people I'm hanging it on the coat closet door for the moment. This was way too much work not to appreciate it for a little while before giving it away.

This table runner turned out to be a study in how many things I don't like can be used in a project and still have me love the end result. Going into the workshop I hated paper piecing (it has grown on me since learning some better techniques.) I also wasn't happy that the teacher told us to use batiks. After I purchased my fabrics she changed this, but I'd already made my purchase. Finally I'm not a huge fan of feather motifs in quilting. They're okay, but are a bit too traditional for my tastes. For some strange reason I ended up doing a feather in each point of the main star. I absolutely love how this table runner turned out. I'm not great at labels so I don't know if it's really modern, but I at least feel like my voice wasn't lost in the project.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

The Return of the Blueberry

I finished Hermione's second sock!  Yes I still haven't woven in the ends, but that bit won't take long. 

I've finally returned to Blueberry. It was painful, but I knew I wouldn'tlove this   sweater if the lace was off center so I ripped it out. I'm being very careful in the set up and  so far everything is looking good. 

Friday, January 9, 2015

North Wind Quilt Interview

I got a great surprise on Monday. Lisa Ruble from Fabri-Quilt wanted to feature me on the Fabri-Quilt blog. My North Wind Quilt is in Fons and Porter's Easy Quilts (which is on newsstands right now.) I hope you'll head over to the Fabri-Quilt Blog to check it out. Lisa had some great questions that really helped me describe the process of getting my quilt published. Hopefully the winds will settle down this weekend and I can finally take my own pictures of North Wind to share with you.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Hermione Sock Part Two

After finishing the Christmas knitting I decided it was time to work on something for me. I debated between socks, finishing blueberry, a cowl I've been drooling over, a hat that I have the perfect yarn for, or mittens. Our high today is -10 before windchill (yes that's in Farenheit and yes that is bone chilling cold) so maybe I should have chosen the mittens or hat, but I've decided to bring back my socks. I thought that I had finished the first sock sometime last fall and was shocked when looking through my posts to see that I finished the first sock in May. 

Thankfully I've written fairly good notes so I'm not too worried about the socks matching. I think that I used a smaller needle for the second cuff, but after switching to a size 2 needle for the body of the sock it's looking the same as the first sock. These socks are for me so I'm not going to worry about them matching perfectly. If one cuff is tighter than the other it is okay.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

New Year's Goals

I've never been fond of New Year's Resolutions, but I do like the idea of goals. (I know a goal and a resolution are basically the same thing, but goal has a better conotation for me.) Last year I made the goal of making 2 blocks a week for the Farmer's Wife quilt and getting a pattern published in a magazine. I finished 80 blocks for my Farmer's Wife quilt before losing steam in September. One of my goals for this year is to finish the last 30 blocks, but I haven't worked out the plan for how I'm going to accomplish this goal. The other big goal I had for 2014 was to get a pattern published in a magazine. It was a much bigger process than I expected with way more headaches that I thought there'd be, but I do have a quilt in Fons and Porters Easy Quilts Winter 2014!

My goal for 2015 is to get more organized. My mom gave me the book Hidden Treasures which focuses on the Fly Lady's cleaning system. I do okay with getting the house cleaned up, but I can never keep it clean. I'm hoping by adopting her techniques I'll develop the routines to keep my home clean.

I also want to get back into blogging. My goal is to make at least one quilting and one knitting post a week. One way I plan to accomplish this is by joining Lovely Year of Finishes over at Fiber of All Sorts.

In October I took a Judy Niemeyer paper piecing workshop. Last month I finally got my table runner finished and figured out a plan for the quilting. My goal for January is to quilt and bind this table runner.