Tuesday, September 30, 2008
The fruits of my week Up North: 100 Log Cabin blocks, made entirely from my scrap bin. Talk about my back pages! It was fun to dig through to see what was in the bin--lots of surprises.
I wasn't sure just how many 1.5 inch strips it took to make a bed-sized Log Cabin, but I'm here to tell you that I probably have enough strips for AT LEAST three more quilts. 100 blocks barely made a dent!
I decided to throw caution to the winds in making the blocks: I sewed with long strips and trimmed after each strip was added. I just couldn't face pre-cutting all those logs. Ugh.
But it's like Pay Me Now or Pay Me Later--not pre-cutting the logs necessitated spending more time with the truing up process. So timewise, perhaps it's a wash. Or put another way, there is no free lunch. Still, I think it was more fun to root through the bin as I sewed to see what treasures (or horrors) lurked within.
And to bore my friends with the fascinating tales of where and why I had bought each fabric. LOL
A scrap quilt like this is moral high ground and entitlement to buy more fabric. Not a quilt that will break any new ground, but I'm having fun with it.
Can't wait to lay out the blocks and see just what I've got.
Monday, September 29, 2008
New knitting is happening here, especially on evenings when vegging in front of the TV seems to be the thing to do. Or, when I STILL haven't unpacked the sewing gear from the Wildcat trip.
I have a new shawl underway and I'm pleased that it seems to be moving relatively fast. It's another from Jane Sowerby's Victorian Lace Today, which is a singularly lovely book IMHO. The VLT patterns tend to have long-winded names. This one is the Large Rectangular Shawl with Center Diamond Pattern. And that just about says it all.
The yarn is Blackberry Ridge laceweight--75% wool, 25% silk. The label calls the color gray, but my eyes see a taupe-y tan.
I'm beginning to understand why the experts caution eager people like me, "Swatch, swatch, swatch". The shawl pictured in VLT is made of Kidsilk Haze. My yarn is a good deal thicker. I assumed it would knit up bulkier and bigger. (Well, I DID go down two needle sizes to get a firmer look to the knitting....) At any rate, I am going to need to knit substantially more to yield the right length. Substantially more. (Figuring how much more involved math, heaven help me.) Fortunately I have plenty of yarn.
For once my behind is covered. As long as I manage to keep the merlot away from this shawl.
Saturday, September 27, 2008
The first Just Plain Nuts quilt is the work of my friend Renee.
Renee is a quilter who glories in fine detail, whether it's piecing, applique, or quilting. All three skills show beautifully in this quilt.
Renee chose to mix 6 inch applique blocks with the 6 inch pieced blocks in the book. The repro fabrics and careful quilting give this piece the look of a nineteenth century heirloom. This was quilted on her home Bernina machine.
And her quilting is soooo wonderful.
Renee likes to scale everything down. Typical Renee expression: "to six-inch" a block--if it looks good large, it would be even better at half the size. Or less. So Renee and Just Plain Nuts is a match made in heaven.
The second project quilt is from Cheryl.
Cheryl set her quilt with a large central applique. I don't love doing applique, but I love the way my applique-ing friends help me to see fabric differently.
Cheryl used a gorgeous variety of repro and antique-looking fabrics. Love it!
Cheryl operates a long arm quilting business out of her home, and is always booked up months and months in advance. Her attention to detail is always a joy to see..
Just a few words about quilty friends. Renee, Cheryl and I met back in the mid 90s. We were co-workers selling and teaching Berninas in a quilt shop/machine dealership in our area. The core group of my quilting buddies came from that shop, both co-workers and customers. What a gift that was! We're all still getting together, still quilting, still learning from each other.
Thursday, September 25, 2008
Progress was slow. I could only work on a few blocks before my eyeballs would begin to throb and it was time to work on a project a bit less.....focused. I had a couple mini meltsowns. At one point I had to email Liz that things were just not coming together and I might have to bow out. But thanks to the happenstance of a couple snow days last winter, I finally was able to accumulate 16 blocks--enough to make into a small wall quilt.
When the blocks were finished and set up on the design wall, I said oh yes. The rest of the quilt went together very easily.
I've shared bits of this quilt, but never yet the whole thing. Here it is.
I have detailed photos of the other two sample quilts which I'll share in my next post. Wait till you see them. Wish I had photos of Liz's big quilt too, but alas I don't.
Monday, September 22, 2008
Arrived back home Sunday night from a terrific week's retreat in the north woods of Wisconsin.
The weather was perfect--all the better for showcasing the leading edge of autumn color. This below was the view from our deck.
Five friends and I sewed, knit, ate, drank a bit of wine, shopped, and just in general retreated from the world. I don't have tons and tons of pictures, but here's a representative group of shots.
My project--a scrappy Log cabin.
Mother and daughter Carlyn and Renee hard at the handwork at cocktail time.
Karen nears the finish line with some god-awful yarn.
Sue cranks out the mini Pinwheels.
Liz making a very "Liz" quilt.
Friday, September 12, 2008
Saturday morning I'll be packing up my little red Beetle and heading five hours north. It's Wildcat time again.
It's been two years since my friends and I shared a week at Wildcat Lodge near Boulder Junction, Wisconsin. We'll be staying in a house on a mirror-like lake on the property of a rustic fishing resort. The surrounding deep balsam forest has a scent that can't be described and I intend to breathe in a lot of it in the next week.
Projects going along with me:
1. In nearly 25 years of quiltmaking, I have never made a basic Log Cabin quilt, and it's high time to remedy that. I have a huge box of 1.5 inch scrap strips (a real stroll down my personal quilting memory lane), a baggie full of red center squares, and I am STOKED.
2. A new Top Secret project, which is going to necessitate a stop here en route to stock up on solid color fabrics, of which I have nearly none. A type of fabric I have none of? Hard to believe...
3. Emergency back-up quilt project.
4. New lace shawl project.
5. Sock knitting.
We all also plan to enter a quilt show, take in an evening of theater, drink a bit of wine, enjoy some tasty meals, and do quite a fair amount of being lazy.
So, I'm signing off till September 21. Everyone behave while I'm gone!
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
Our Milwaukee Art Quilters group met Monday night and had a very fun S&T with the grab bag challenge quilts. Such imagination and such craftsmanship--what a blast.
Here's my Grab Bag quilt I've been slaving away on.
Yes, you can work full time AND get a quilt quilted and completed in one week! And here's the story...
The grab bag I received last winter contained a number of greens, aquas, olives, and purples. Looked like already-coordinated colors to me. And yes--I had about a jillion other fabrics that would work in the mix. No problem.
So the issue was what sort of quilt to make and inspiration wasn't long in coming. I saw this quilt on Flickr and knew I had my direction. That quilt had in turn been inspired by this one. Both of these quilts were made using the Fun Patch template, which is really intended to produce a nice little sedate pinwheel quilt. But there are lots of other cool possibilities for the Fun Patch, as the two Flickr quilters demonstrated. I spent a fair amount of time flipping and rotating even more possibilities in Electric Quilt.
OK, true confession. Pieces for the two inspirational Flickr quilts were cut all in one direction--fabric always right side up. And what did I do? I plunged in and started cutting the template wedges without thinking this through. I cut pieces with the fabric folded right sides together. So the pieces went both ways--mirroring each other. Design opportunity! So I played with my options and came up with this funky layout.
Once my top was all pieced, it hit me that if the colors had been better planned, the colored rows would have looked like gladiola buds. Hence the name: Glad Rags.
Monday, September 08, 2008
And more than anything else, there were kindred spirits. Everyone I saw looked like someone I ought to know...
YARN is why Renee and I were there. There are deals to be had and things to be found which can't be found anywhere else--small artisan spinners and dyers. There is yarn for sale that comes with the name of the sheep who produced it. I love that. Very fun.
I came home with a pattern and two skeins of laceweight yarn. Yes, the lace knitting continues unabated, although there were some sweater ideas that that got me humming too.
I bought a skein of variegated flame-colored laceweight wool from Briar Rose Fibers, whose booth was chock full of moody and subtle colorways in hand-dyed and hand-painted yarns.
And we stumbled on Skaska Designs from Colorado, selling fine lace yarns and patterns for the most ethereal shawls and scarves imaginable. I bought a pattern and a skein of silk/cashmere yarn in an equally ethereal celery green/yellow color. The photo below doesn't do the yarn color justice.
Renee couldn't resist a kit for a color-blended shawl, part of a line by Candace Eisner Strick, which includes, shawls, vests, sweaters, and other pieces. I would be tempted too.
Here's to a winter of inspired knitting!
Sunday, September 07, 2008
This summer, my reading was all over the map. I had a brief detour into the world of chick lit with Penny Vincenzi and Anne Rivers Siddons. I won't go back there for a good while. I read the psychological study, Obedience by Will Lavender, and a bit of tartan noir in The Cutting Room by Louise Welch, There were a couple memoirs in the bunch--Service Included by Phoebe Damrosch, and Running with Scissors by Augusten Burroughs, which was a pretty horrific story but a delight nonetheless.
I went on a bit of a Shakespeare kick with The Book of Air and Shadows by Michael Gruber which was fun and Interred with Their Bones by Jennifer Lee Carrell, which I didn't finish. Both books revolve around Da Vinci Code-like searches for lost Shakespearean plays, one book being much better done than the other.
But the best book I read this summer, and for a long time before that, was Birds Without Wings by Louis De Bernieres. The story is set in Turkey in the last days of the Ottoman Empire, when nationalism is rising in the Near East, and will soon upset a centuries-old balance of multicultural cooperation. This book is a profound antiwar statement and puts a sad and personal face on the oh-so antiseptic term "ethnic cleansing". It's a book well worth spending some time with.
Monday, September 01, 2008
This lovely three day weekend gave me the the time to get a good start on quilting the MArQ grab bag challenge quilt. It's over half quilted! Woo hoo!
In the end I decided not to go with the jaggedy angles. The piecing had enough zigs and zags; I decided to go with the counterpoint of loops and curves.
A friend sent me a picture of some leafy forms for machine quilting and I liked those a lot (thanks Jenny!). So the loops and curves are integrated with leaves and some freeform flowery shapes. I'm liking it so far.
Meta info: I quilt (and do 95% of the rest of my sewing) on a Bernina 1530. The foot I'm using here is the #20, the open toe quilting foot. The top threads are three different Madeira, Wonder-Fil, and Robison-Anton rayon threads, all 40 weight. Loving the Robison-Anton variegated purple!
In the bobbin, I'm using YLI clear nylon. Threading the finger on the Bernina bobbin case gives just enough extra tug to the bobbin tension that the tension, top and bottom, is perfect. I love my Bernina.
The gloves were a great find at a garden center. The brand name is Atlas--the best control for quilting I've ever found in gloves. And I can still thread a needle with them on. Pretty cool.