Monday, August 18, 2014

Needles and Pins

Chugging away on the Delectable Pathways quilt:


This is the last of three panels, and I only have two more flowers left to appliqué. 

The Puyallup Socks are done and on my feet:


I tried something different on these socks.  I always wear out my socks on the part of the sole that's at the heel. I decided to knit that part of the sole with the MC and the CC together, cutting the CC at the end of that part of the sole on each round, and weaving in the ends when the sock is finished.  We'll see how it holds up.


The Johan socks are getting close to the heel:


In Sisters I visited The Stitchin' Post and bought some fats and their special Calendar The Men Behind the Quilts, mostly so I could see the back of the calendar.


This calendar was a big hit at Vintage Stitchers.


A friend brought some fabric samples for us to go through and take home.


The last session like this we had netted me many of the fabrics I used for Johan's baby quilt. This time I got more fabrics for quilts for grandkids and some great fabrics that go with my souvenir fats from Sisters.

Rebecca gave me her house block for the Habitat for Humanity quilt:


We had some other great quilts to show in various stages of completion. Janet had been working on this Valentine's quilt:


She was putting the binding on this one you've seen before:


Brenda finished this machine-appliquéd quilt top:


...and Janet showed us this machine-appliquéd block:


This was a block-of-the-month quilt from Davidene's. Janet says to just shoot her if she signs up for another block-of-the-month quilt. However, her machine-appliqué has improved considerably while working on this project, a fact she recognizes.

Carol finished this quilt too:


Barbara made four of these Alzheimer's/dementia "fidget" or sensory quilts:


The pups have been enjoying being home again. Yesterday we took them to the local pond to swim after a hike. There were lots of other dogs there.


What's on my needles: Cat Bordhi's "Bavarian Twisted Stitch" socks from her book, Socks Soar on Two Circular Needles, which I've named the Johan Socks. 
What's on my iPad/iPhone: Finished Dean Koontz's The City. Ready to start a new one. Reading Joseph Lallo's The Book of Deacon from Book Bub
What's my app of the week: Gas Buddy. This app was very useful on our trip whenever we approached a city where we planned to get gas. We could find the cheapest gas close to where we were. When your trip is 700+ miles, round trip, and you don't get very many miles to the gallon because you're pulling a trailer, it's good to save as much as you can.
What's in my wine glass: Charles Shaw (Two-buck Chuck) Shiraz picked up at Trader Joe's in Oregon.
What's my tip of the week: Do you use plastic trash can liners in your trash cans? I got this tip from my many visits to motels. When you remove and throw away the trash, don't just pull out one new plastic bag to replace it; pull out four or five. Before installing the new bag, drop the extras in the bottom of the trash can. This will save time when it's time to toss the trash again.

Note: This blog post was produced on the iPad and the MacBook, using the iPhone for some photos and some photo processing. No other computer was used in any stage of composition or posting, and no Windows were opened, waited for, cleaned or broken. No animals were harmed during the production of this blog post.

Monday, August 4, 2014

A Look Back, Part II: Quilting

Last week, we had a look at some of my older knitting projects. This week I'm going to show you some of my quilting projects from yesteryear, before I started my blog. Let's start with my first quilt ever...sort of:
I eased into quilting by learning hand-quilting from my church youth group leader when I was 17. A couple of years later, when I was in college and living in my own little converted garage apartment, I decided to make the same quilt with the scraps left over from my sewing projects. The quilt we had quilted was a glorified 9-patch, hand-pieced, so I thought mine had to be hand-pieced, too. (It never occurred to me that perhaps a glorified 9-patch might not be the best beginner quilt.) I put it together and used polyester batting, polyester thread, and fabrics that were cotton, polyester and poly-cotton blends. Over the years, the batting wore out the backing, the background and some of the fabrics in the blocks, and the polyester thread cut through the cotton fabrics. I was broken-hearted, but I refused to throw it away. It depressed me for years. Finally, in 2002, I separated the layers, removed the background fabric, and began replacing the block and background fabrics that had worn out. When it was put back together again, I hand-quilted it as before. It now has a label that tells its story. I call it "1962 Revisited."
In 1975 I made my second quilt as a Christmas present for my sister-in-law, using fabrics I had left over from clothes I made for our kids and my husband. Years later, when my sister-in-law knew she was dying, she gave it back to me on my birthday. (My hand-quilting stitches are HUGE! And, oh, yeah. Did you notice my second beginner quilt was a Lemoyne Star? I had no idea. Don't try this at home, boys and girls!)
I think somewhere there must be a fairy who looks after beginning quilters. I also knew nothing about color, contrast, etc. 
My third quilt came after I took a quilting class with a friend in California and discovered strip piecing and the rotary cutter. It was a log cabin in blues and beiges. We took it with us when we moved to Indonesia, and it was heavily washed. It's still in existence, but it's pretty faded. The teacher had us fold the backing over the quilt top for "binding." (I had used bias binding on the previous two quilts.) Maybe I'll post a photo of this quilt someday.
When we lived in England in 1988-89, I took a crazy trip to Norwich with my parents, where we went to a church service at the tiny church in Fritton, a few miles from Morningthorpe, where my English ancestors used to live. The three of us almost doubled the size of the congregation, and, yes, we arrived late, and the door to the church squeaked. They were thrilled to meet three Americans with roots in their land. The organist and his wife invited us to come home for sherry, and the vicar and his wife had us for dinner. A few months later the organist and his wife hosted our whole family (DH, our two younger kids and me) for a great weekend. Stateside again in 1990, I made them this Pine Tree quilt. Their son took it with him when he left home to go to college.
I made a quilt for our daughter for her graduation from high school. She wanted me to back it with the same sheets she was using on her bed. That was how I learned that hand-quilting through sheets isn't a good idea. She was planning on majoring in literature in college, so each block represented a different famous work of literature.
This is where I lose track of how many quilts I've made. In Indonesia, I learned that the converted power was bad for sewing machines, so I bought quilts and added hand-quilting, so I could improve my technique. Ironically, it never occurred to me to hand-piece a quilt. Hmmmmm.
While we lived in Houston, after returning to the US from Indonesia, I decided in a moment of insanity to make a Grandmother's Flower Garden. First I made a bow-tie quilt I called "Grandfather's Closet" to go with it.
Here's my Grandmother's Flower Garden, using '30s reproduction fabrics. I used Quilt Patis, which are a plastic version of the papers for English Paper Piecing but require fewer stitches during the preparation, only one for each corner and an extra at the starting corner. It took me nine months to finish. I was sick of it by the time I finished it, but I love it now.
I gathered the fabrics for this Ohio Star quilt while visiting my mother-in-law in San Diego. Mostly 19th Century reproduction fabrics went into it. I finished it in 2001. I tried to copy the techniques and style of quilters of the era. The flying geese gave me fits. I had to resew a number of times to get them the same size.
"A Thousand Years of Friendships," was made to commemorate the Millennium. I finished it in 2000. The design is a friendship star, also called ribbon star or lattice star. Usually you see the "ribbons" completed around the edges, but I chose to have the pattern just float off the edge. It's hanging in my hall now.

Lois'Quilt was made from the Keepsake Quilting Millennium Quilt kit, which was given to me by a friend who was moving away and was destashing. Of the 2,000 4" squares in the kit, I used about 900 to make this quilt, which is queen size. I separated the squares into light, dark and medium (I guessed!) and then matched the medium squares up with either very light or very dark, depending on what I needed. I made the pairs into two half-square triangles each and then played with them to get this design.
After I finished quilting it, I saw the identical design in a quilting magazine, a photo of a quilt from the late 1800s. I guess it wasn't original after all. I took it with me to work on on the trip with our younger son to Toronto, where he had taken a job. He and I took turns driving a U-Haul truck, and I flew back. Every time I look at this quilt, it reminds me of the trip and the few days I spend there with him, helping him pick out a flat and moving in.
A group at my church worked with me to make this quilt using the leftover 1100 4" squares from the Keepsake Quilting Millennium Quilt Kit. We had a raffle (in Utah, called "Opportunity," because raffles are illegal) to make money for our music program. I let the quilters decide how to arrange the half-square triangles. We hand-quilted this quilt on a frame.
I made this Carolina Lily quilt in a class and presented it to my husband's cousin in Finland. I learned that it's hard to hand-quilt on batik!
This table runner was a present for another cousin in Finland:
My wagon-wheel quilt, called "Memories of Jamaica Plain," is a replica of my memories of the quilt that was on my bed when I was a child in Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts, just outside Boston. I had no idea at the time that the fabrics were from the '30s, but my parents were young newlyweds during the depression, so it makes sense. When I was looking for reproduction fabric, I searched in vain for the sometimes-green, sometimes-blue fabric with little white squirrels on it, and although I found a green fabric with little animals, including squirrels, I never found the exact one. I remember going to sleep at night stroking the little squirrels, and this quilt evokes those memories.
The quilt hanging in the window was one I bought in Indonesia and hand quilted.
Our quilt guild had a block exchange. We were using the Square-in-a-square Ruler, using bright homespuns. I added dark homespuns to the brights, just 'cause. I don't seem to have a photo of it, but you can see it on the bed, peeking out from under the orange-and-white quilt.
Here's the story about that quilt at the foot of the bed. A good friend brought a quilt to a guild meeting and told us she had found in a thrift shop. When she pulled it out of the bag, I got chills. I got permission to copy it, although she didn't want me to copy it's one (perhaps intentional) mistake. I also designed my own quilting design. It's a Devil's Claw block:
This is the first of five quilts with wool Navy blankets used as batting. The blankets belonged to my in-laws. The fabrics are all cotton flannel with a plain cotton flannel backing, which varies from quilt to quilt. I tied the quilts because they are too thick and dense to quilt through. The theme came from an event that happened after my mother-in-law passed away. We were sitting around in her beautiful back yard, when a female hummingbird came. The little bird hovered in front of each of us, looking us in the eyes. We all looked at each other and said that was Grandma, come to say goodbye. This first one of these quilts went to my husband's brother and his wife. (She's the one who got my second-ever quilt.) I went on to make four more: one for each of our three kids and one for us to keep. There was a label with a photo of my in-laws looking at each other and laughing. The pattern is "Block Party." DH is holding up the corner to show the label.
I have made one of these quilts for each of our three children. The last one was for us. They are very heavy! You can put a kid in bed, cover him up with this quilt, and he isn't going anywhere until you come to release him!
When our younger son moved into his first place in Toronto, I made him a quilt for a tablecloth. Later I made him two pillows to coordinate an afghan he had with his new couch.
 Another quilt from my past, "Misty's Windy Day," was a Whimsy Cottage block of the month back when Whimsy was in Heber City. Our older son and his wife have it in their home. I appliquéd an image of our white standard poodle, Misty, by then getting on in years, rather than paper-piece a dog, which would have gone where the street lamp is. (Where else would a dog be, but at a street lamp?) Now I love paper piecing, but I have a dark past where paper-piecing was virtually taboo. In fact, some of the other blocks involved paper-piecing, and I had given up in disgust and used templates!
We're coming to the end. Here is a small wall quilt I made a few years ago for a quilt challenge my guild had. The border was the challenge fabric. We had to use five fabrics, including the challenge fabric. Embroidery and embellishments were allowed. I appliquéd the (pardon me) cockroach, sombrero and letters and added goggly eyes, and spangles for castanets. I gave it to our older son and his wife, and it's on the wall of the guest room, where she does her quilting. If you don't like that it's a cockroach (pardon me), just call him a palmetto bug.
When our daughter received her doctorate, I made this quilt for her. It's from Ricky Tims' Book, Convergence Quilts. There was some fussy-cutting involved to get the cranes to look whole in some places.
This blog has turned out to be a bigger job than I expected, but it's good to have it done, so when I get senile, I can read this and remember each of these quilts. 
Today is the birthday of our president and also of our girl, Sunny. Since Sunny is a therapy dog, they are both in public service, although Sunny isn't graying as fast as the president. I think her job is easier. Happy birthday to them both, and to anyone else who shares their birthday!
Note: This blog post was produced on the iPad and the MacBook, using the iPhone for some photos and some photo processing. No other computer was used in any stage of composition or posting, and no Windows were opened, waited for, cleaned or broken. No animals were harmed during the production of this blog post.

Monday, July 28, 2014

A Look Back, Part I: Knitting

While I'm on vacation, I thought I would report on some knitting projects I've made over the years, before I started my blog. For example, this is the first sweater I made for Charlie (my DH). 
As long as I've known him, he's been an avid skier. (It's funny; he didn't look like this when I married him. He's still pretty cute, for an old guy, though.) The pattern is from "Hand Knits for Men in Bear Brand and Fleisher Yarns, vol. 56. Bear Brand "Shetland and Wool" Purchased at Menlo Yarn Shop in San Diego, 1964.
I made this sweater for him in 1965. I wonder if that what why he proposed.
I made this one for myself in 1965. I was tired of the motifs I used for the previous sweater, so I used the same pattern but designed my own motifs.
This Fair Isle vest was completed in 1988 using wool yarn purchased in London in 1988. The pattern is "Katie's Fair Isle" from The Traditional Sweater Book by Madeline Weston, 1986. It's also found in her new book, Country Weekend Knits.
I found the yarn for this in Pitlochry, Scotland, in 1988, and bought enough for this coat and the afghan. It was hand-spun and cheap! The pattern is from Wendy #588 "Outdoor Arans", #1, Ladies Cardigan, shown on the cover, only I exchanged the chain cable for wishbone cable. I made it super-long just because.
Here's the Aran afghan from the hand-spun yarn I purchased in Pitlochry. I finished it in 1989 in California. Pattern is "Killarney," from the Spinnerin book, Fisherman Afghans, 1972.
Here's the intarsia cat pullover I made for our daughter in 1989 from Cat Knits by Melinda Coss. the mice are 3D, and each one has his own pocket. Besides the one you can see, there is one on the sleeve and one on the back.
This Fair Isle card vest I completed in 1989 using yarn purchased in London in 1988. The pattern is "Diamond Fair Isle" from The Traditional Sweater Book by Madeline Weston, 1986.
This Kaffe Fassett's "Carpet Pattern," made with leftover yarns and sale bin finds, using intarsia. It's from his Glorious Knitting, 1985. I also made the coat in that chapter in the book.
Persian Poppy Waistcoat from Kaffe Fassett at the V & A. Finished in 1989. Used miscellaneous bits and pieces of yarn for this project.
Sunbeam’s 1157, Aran jacket. I used an acrylic yarn, which I had on hand. I made this while we were living in Indonesia for a holiday trip to New Zealand. The photo was taken during a day cruise on the Milford Sound on the west coast of South Island. Matching hat pattern was not included in the pamphlet.
Cable-down Raglan from Interweave Knits Spring 2007. Made from Countrywide Windsor 8 ply D.K. from New Zealand, 100% wool. Completed in time for Easter, 2007.
There are more, but I hope you'll find something here that inspires you to knit a sweater for yourself or others. Next week I'll show some of my older quilts.
Note: This blog post was produced on the iPad and the MacBook, using the iPhone for some photos and some photo processing. No other computer was used in any stage of composition or posting, and no Windows were opened, waited for, cleaned or broken. No animals were harmed during the production of this blog post.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Love and Generosity

Wow! What a week! I always have to start with a photo, so here's Kay's rug:
She based this on a photo she took while on a cruise with her late husband. He helped her with suggestions and was a major contributor to keeping her interested in the project. It has been languishing since he passed away, but we're pretty sure she will eventually be able to finish it with fond memories. She's going to try again after a cruise she's taking by herself.
Margareth's been busy with her loom. Here's one table runner:
And another one:
Thursday was a busy day! Besides Common Threads in the morning, the new quilt guild met at Davidene's in the evening. I was blown away by receiving nine blocks for the Habitat for Humanity quilt! Here they all are (including the ones already received), in no particular order:
I'm still expecting to get a few more. This is one more example of how generous quilters are.
We shared tips and tricks, and I learned a few new things. Even though some of the tips I already knew about, it's always good to be reminded.
Then we had show-and-tell. I had sent the baby quilt off already, so I only had the photos on my iPad to show. Here are some of the quilts we got to see in person. A block exchange that was all houses:

Paper-pieced hearts, part of a block exchange:
OMG, I love this quilt! Dianne made this for her DDIL, but had to change the colors somewhat after buying the fabric. She did it with the help of some bleach and some tea. (Long story, but if I thought I could get away with it, and wouldn't feel incredibly guilty, I would steal this one. I love these colors, and the workmanship is superb!)
Dianne also showed us this embroidered quilt:
We also saw this beautiful July quilt. (Sorry, I'm still learning people's names):
This one was was supposed to be a Lone Star, but the quilter, Jill, had some "issues" with it, so she reworked the pattern and named it "Broken Pie Chart."
Sometimes life gives you lemons. I think it's a wonderful quilt!
Someone brought some adorable baby sweaters, made for a charity she helps.
Davidene, who owns the shop where we meet, is incredibly generous with her resources. For example: I wanted to make a label for Johan's baby quilt and sew it on when we get to his place. (The quilt has gone on before us for the Baby "Sprinkle" tonight.) Unfortunately, the ink-jet printer we need to use has stopped working. (These appliances always seem to have a shelf life that's a lot shorter than ours.) Since I'm short of time with all the stuff going on, I thought I would buy the fabric printer sheets and have the copy store print the label for us. Davidene offered her printer AND to break up a package so I only had to pay for one! I elected to buy the whole package, since I'll need to make a label for the Habitat quilt anyway. When I calculated the cost per label, it seemed like a bargain, compared with the work involved in preparing and printing my own. The label turned out great! We included Johan's first photo and the photo of his Finnish great-great-grandfather, after whom he was named.
Speaking of little Johan, he's home and doing well. We're grateful that he was near medical attention, though, because babies who arrive "underdone" often have issues. His were minimal, but a lot of precautions were taken, and he got great care. He resembles his brother a lot at the same age. He's longer-waisted and has bigger hands with very long fingers. It will be fun to see how he grows into his own individual self. Here he is meeting his big brother:

We'll be meeting Johan in person in just a few days. I've been packing and cooking, in preparation for our trip. DH will bring the trailer to the house after his dentist appointment tomorrow. Then we'll hit the road on Thursday, the pups in the back in their car seats, and I'll be riding shotgun surrounded by my fiber fun. Not much to do, riding shotgun, except keep the audiobook running and appliqué or knit, unless we're attacked by bandits and I have to use my knitting needles and appliqué thread for unintended purposes.
I love spending time with family!
What's on my needles: Cat Bordhi's "Bavarian Twisted Stitch" socks from her book, Socks Soar on Two Circular Needles and some plain vanilla socks for mindlessness.
What's on my Featherweight: Back to Delectable Pathways, still working on the hand appliqué for the last panel. Most of the leaves done. Planning to get the flowers done while we're gone. Wish me luck!
What's on my iPad/iPhone: Still listening to Dean Koontz's The City. It has been a busy week, so I haven't had as much time. Still reading Black Diamond Death by Cheryl Bradshaw from Book Bub on the iBooks app. Only at bedtime. It's an interesting story, but I never go through an eBook as fast as an audiobook. Also watching the video lessons to my Craftsy class, "Mastering Foundation Paper Piecing" with Carol Doak. It's so nice to be able to watch a class offline. You don't need internet (except to download) and it takes less power to watch offline. Great for traveling, if you have enough memory/storage on your device.
What's my app of the week: It has to be the Messages app. With phone reception not strong in the hospital, especially NICU, we were getting most of our information from text messages. An added bonus: All those wonderful photos we got of Johan's adventures during his first week in the world were delivered by text. What a joy, when we couldn't be there in person!
What's in my wine glass: Bolla Romagne Sangiovese 2012. Another big bottle. (See a trend?)
What's my tip of the week: When you have a gazillion stitches to cast on using long-tail CO, and you're afraid you'll run out of "tail" before you get to the end, many people elect to use a different CO. However, if you have a center-pull ball or at least  two balls of the yarn you're casting on with, you can tie two separate strands together, leaving just a little tail of both. Using both strands, attach a slip knot to the right needle. Then, using one strand as the "tail" and the other as the working yarn, CO as usual, not counting the slip knot. When you finish your first row/round, slip the slip knot off. Don't knit it. You will have two extra tails to weave in at the end, a small price to pay for not having to start over five sts away from the 456 you need!

Note: This blog post was produced on the iPad and the MacBook, using the iPhone for some photos and some photo processing. No other computer was used in any stage of composition or posting, and no Windows were opened, waited for, cleaned or broken. No animals were harmed during the production of this blog post.