Monday, October 20, 2014

Ready for Halloween

Common Threads met at Ginny's. Julie is almost done with her Girl Fox from Little Cotton Rabbits:

She has also finished the head of the elephant.

I started my first project from this designer (the Girl Bunny) on Friday. The feet/shoes were challenging, but I've made good progress:

Our local quilt guild met Thursday night. Here's a top for a little girl:

And a quilt based on a video game:

This is Halloween penny rug table runner:

And so is this:

Halloween is the predominant theme:

And this, which is the same pattern as my friend Barbara's quilt from last week's blog. It's interesting to see how personal changes influence how the finished quilt looks:

This table runner is available as a kit/class:

Next month we're going to learn about Hawaiian quilts and how to make a block like this:

Soren took his I-spy quilt to school to share:

It's time for some baby cuteness, so here's Johan wearing his own BSJ, the one made just for him:

I've made progress on the Spring Flowers quilt, but it doesn't look much different from last week.

We had some excitement last night. Upon returning home after a fantastic presentation of Madame Butterfly in Salt Lake City, with Yunah Lee in the title role and Eric Fennell as Pinkerton, we discovered two (TWO!) CO alarms beeping. Beeping as in the batteries were dead, but after changing the batteries, they still beeped. We opened the windows, put the pups in the car (it was hard to get them in from the backyard, whither they had fled as soon as we got home, happy to escape the horrible beeping) and ran out to Walmart for some new alarms to test whether both of the CO alarms had died simultaneously. DH got some new batteries, too, in case our spare batteries were just bad. Upon returning home, the pups and I sat in the car while His Nibs braved the air (and potential further beeps) in the house and tried new batteries in the old alarms. They still beeped, so he tried the first of the two new detectors. It tested OK and didn't beep, so he took it to the areas of the house where the old detectors had been. Still no beeps, so he cranked up the other one. Also no beep. It appears that the CO detectors we installed in 2006 (manufactured in 2006 and 2007) both died within hours of each other...or maybe simultaneously, only the pups know for sure, and they aren't talking. I'm not sure I really want to know what they would have to say about what they endured while we were enjoying the opera.

What's on my needles: The Girl Bunny and Mr. F.'s clothes. I still have the Johan socks to work on. My quilting needles are still working on the hand-quilting of my Spring Flowers quilt.

What's on my Featherweight: The backing for the Crystal Stars quilt is done, and the quilt is ready to pass off to the quilter when she finishes the Reflections quilt.

What's on my iPad/iPhone: Listening to Victoria Holt's The Shadow of the Lynx. Creepy! Finished reading Joseph Lallo's The Book of Deacon from Book Bub and now reading Cheryl Bradshaw's I Have a Secret, also from Book Bub.

What's my app of the week: Voice Memos. When I took Joanie to the doctor, I recorded the interview. It came in handy later, when her daughter wanted to know which medication the doctor wanted to discontinue. I just emailed the recording to her.

What's in my wine glass: The Little Penguin Shiraz 2013. Nothing like letting it age. Very nice!

What's my tip of the week: Be ready to change the batteries in your smoke and CO alarms when you move your clock back on November 1. Seriously. Do this!

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, October 13, 2014

Monkeying Around

Ta-da! Mr. F. Is finished and waiting for his clothes.

I have one sleeve of his jammies (Union suit?) almost finished, but I've been hand-quilting, as you will see below.

However, while we're on knitting, I thought you would enjoy seeing Joanie's seal mum and pup:

They are from the book Knit Your Own Zoo by Sally Muir and Joanna Osborn. Now Joanie's working on the fruit bat, what she was really after. Her birthday is in October, and her last name is Howell (howl?) so Halloween  is a big deal for her.

Speaking of Halloween, we met at Barbara's For Vintage Stitchers. Here's her Halloween quilt:

I'm  trying to finish as many UFOs this year as I can. I'm working on the hand quilting of this hand-pieced and hand-appliquéd quilt (my first appliqué quilt be started, anyway). I call it "Spring Flowers." It hardly fits on my design wall, especially with the batting and everything. The part I've quilted so far is to the right, including the upper-right appliqué block.

After seeing the quilt design on an episode of Simply Quilts about 2000, I bought the fabric and started the quilt by doing the appliqué blocks (not in the original design). I copied the appliqué design from an old one I found in a book, American Quilt Classics from the Collection of Patricia Cox by Patricia Cox. It was from a quilt kit made about 1930. The fabrics were from "The Language of Flowers," designed by Susan Branch and manufactured by Springs Industries in their "Quilters Only" line. (I have been unable to learn the episode number of "Simply Quilts." If I find it, I'll add it at the bottom of this post.)

I've done several appliqué quilts since then, and taken several classes, including the one with Mary Sorensen, which really convinced me how much I love needleturn. Looking at these appliqué blocks now, I can see how much I've improved. My points in these blocks are really blunt, for example. Still, it has a nice effect, I think, and the "workmanship" makes it look very '30s. Here's a closeup of the appliqué block already quilted.

I ended up hand-piecing the quilt because I found I couldn't sew the LeMoyne Star blocks to my satisfaction. (It's funny how tolerant I was with the appliqué yet so picky with the piecing.) It has been sitting as a UFO for several years. Now I really want to finish it so I can hand-quilt my Delectable Pathways, which Julie basted for me on her long-arm.

In the meantime, it's starting to get cold here, and that reminds us that winter is coming. We just had our Jøtul stove in my fiber studio serviced. It was the first servicing in 10 years. It didn't seem to be working properly, so we called some experts to come and fix it. Some of the gas vents needed cleaning, and the installers had put too many ember pieces in. It works, but it doesn't seem to come on according to the thermostat. We may have to have the repairmen back. At least we can turn it on when we want it, though.

It sure makes my fiber studio cozy!

What's on my needles: Now that Mr. F. is done, I'm working on this clothes. I still have the Johan socks to work on.
What's in my quilting hoop: My quilting needle is working on the hand-quilting of my "Spring Flowers" quilt.
What's on my Featherweight: Still the backing for the Crystal Stars quilt.
What's on my iPad/iPhone: Finished listening to Julie Klassen's The Dancing Master and now listening to A Share in Death by Deborah Crombie, another good author and series brought to my attention through Audible's Daily Deal. Still reading Joseph Lallo's The Book of Deacon from Book Bub.
What's my app of the week: Craftsy again. I have been enjoying watching the lessons in the "Knit to Flatter" class. I just picked up "Save Our Stitches," on sale over the weekend.
What's in my wine glass: Crane Lake Malbec 2013, a new wine to compliment the very old UFOs.
What's my tip of the week: Masking tape is handy for hand-quilting. You can stick it onto your quilt as a guide for straight lines or cross-hatching. I use 3/4" or 1". Thinner than that doesn't stick very well. If the weather is cold, and your thimble keeps dropping off, you can put a little masking tape around your thimble finger to make it bigger. I find the tan masking tape is better than the blue painter's tape, which loses its stickiness too quickly for my taste.

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, October 6, 2014

Blocks, Boxes and Boxtrolls

There has been lots of progress since my last regular blog post. The latest quilt top finished:

The border gave me a little excitement. This is what I had planned:

It would have been fine, but after cutting out most of the pieces for the outer border, I discovered...oops!...the "2.88" on the remnant tag was the price, not the yardage. It was Monday, and Davidene's (our local quilt shop) was closed, so I made a quick trip to Elaine's Quilt Block in Salt Lake City, "quick" being relative. I came up with this.

Elaine's has a great selection, and their staff is so knowledgeable and helpful. This was one of the fabrics a staff member pulled out for me to try. I wanted a similar color to the first fabric, and a pattern that would disguise the seams required to make the notches.

I've decided to call the new quilt "Crystal Stars." (I was going to call it "Ocular Migraine," which DH thought was perfect, but I that was rather negative for such a pretty quilt.) Friday I picked up backing for it, this time at Davidene's.

The backing reminds me of toffee. The top is based on Connecting Threads "Sumptuous" quilt kit. The colors in the kit don't exactly go with my bedroom, and it wasn't available as a pattern, so I reverse-engineered it from photos. Most of the fabrics are from Connecting Threads, though, so I don't feel too guilty about copying. If I had it to do over, however, I would have made the double Flying Geese (the ones that point at each other) as quarter-square-triangle units. These are the units I used:

There were also some plain blocks.

The Habitat For Humanity quilt went off to the Overall Ball, held Saturday night:

The label on the back ended up looking nice:

I haven't heard what it went for, but the person who invited us to make it ended up with it. She said someone from out-of-town was bidding on it, and she couldn't have it leave Park City! They were going to have a professional photographer there to take photos. I'll post one if they share them with me..

In knitting news, I've made two squares for an afghan some of us are making for Susan's family:

Knitters/crocheters, there's still time to participate, if you want. My Mr. Foster is also coming along. I caught him monkeying around, even though his brain is still just a bag of fluff in my knitting bag. Not that all that fluff will make much difference.

I had a rough time with the mouth, but cherylbwaters on the Knitting Community had posted a link to a video by Cat Bordhi showing how to do a wrap-and-turn (W&T) that's less visible.
Tuesday I got to chauffeur Joanie around. She had a hair appointment and also wanted to visit a friend who was in the hospital (the one who usually drives her around). We stopped in at the Wool Cabin to make some small purchases.

I picked up some yarn to augment my leftovers that will be used to make a couple of bunnies from the patterns from Little Cotton Rabbits. You can see some of the FOs from their line of patterns on the left wall in the photo. There's an elephant, a fox and a bunny. (We also both fell in love with the Aran pullover on the wall!)

Vintage Stitchers met at my house last week. Barbara had this cute baby quilt:

Marilyn and Brenda had taken a class using their embroidery machines. They made tissue-box covers. The stitching reminded me of Sashiko. Here's Marilyn doing a Boxtroll imitation:

Common Threads met at my house the following week. (I'm trying to do my hosting duty before the snow falls and we can't park our cars on the road in our neighborhood.) Ginny showed off this skirt she made as a gift for a dance teacher.

Sunday we had the Blessing of the Animals in honor of the Feast Day of St. Francis. Rocky and Sunny bless us in so many ways, so they deserve a blessing. All the nonhuman participants this year were canines, so it was a Dog Day Afternoon for all of us.
We got to use our fireplace for the first time this season. Rocky says it's sweater time, and he's enjoying the sweater I made for him for last winter:

We went to see DS2's film "The Boxtrolls" the day it opened. I'm biased, of course, but I think it's the best movie Laika has produced so far. Great for kids and adults, with good messages throughout. Some critics have said it was too scary. For them, perhaps, but several friends of mine who took grandkids as young as five said the kids were excited, but not scared. Here's a photo of the crew. DS2 is on the far left in a lime green jacket.
We stayed for the credits, of course. It's blurry, but if you find the longest title (left side), DS2's name is to the right of that. His title is listed as "Senior Technical Director."
However, this is the best thing he has produced so far, IMHO. (Also our DDIL2, who, I assume, was taking the photo.)
(Our sons love their mother so much, one of them married a quilter and the other married a knitter. Like our daughter, also a knitter, they're so much fun to talk to and share ideas with. Lucky me!)

What's on my needles: Progress on my Mr. F.

What's on my Featherweight: The backing to the Crystal Stars quilt.

What's on my iPad/iPhone: Listened to The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett. (I kept seeing Bogie, Greenstreet and Lorre in their respective parts.) Just started listening to Julie Klassen's The Dancing Master. Still reading Joseph Lallo's The Book of Deacon from Book Bub.

What's my app of the week: BackTube. I haven't had much time with it yet, but you can download videos (like quilting and knitting) from YouTube and play back over and over offline. There's some advertising, but otherwise it seems to do what it's supposed to do.

What's in my wine glass: Trader Joe's Petite Reserve Merlot 2011. I've rarely had a bad wine form TJ's, and this was as good as it gets.

What's my tip of the week: Nothing takes out a stain caused by red wine like a slosh of white wine. While we're on it, if you're quilting and prick your finger, you can get the dabs of blood out with your own spit. (Only if it's your blood, so I hear.)

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, September 29, 2014

Angels' Wings

In place of my regular blog post this week, I decided to hold sort of a celebration of life for my dear friend, who passed away early Thursday after a prolonged illness.
I invited a few people to share their memories of Susan. Most people online who knew her are on The Knitting Community. However, if you're here, and you have memories to share, you can add them in "Comments." 

While you're thinking about that, please enjoy some of the cheese ball Susan made for my cast-off party when I was recovering from thumb surgery. (It's still tasty and calorie-free!)

Jenny, from the Knit Picks Knitting Community, had this to say:

"Susan was an integral part in making the Knit Picks knitting community the wonderful place that crafters have come to know and love. Her support for her fellow crafters was incredible, and it was clearly a passion of hers that she loved to share with others. Susan was a very special lady and she will definitely be missed by all of us here in the community."

One of Susan's early friends on the Knitting Community was Carol, who actually managed to meet up with Susan in person:

"I remember how Susan encouraged me as a new knitter to just keep knitting.  And although she liked doing intricate patterns (and thought just knitting was boring) she said it was the knitting itself she wanted me to pursue. (I still am just doing the old knit stitch and nothing else) and when we met in Ohio, Susan's generosity of spirit showed when she gave me some gold yarn she had created and I gave her some wonderful curly fleece I had gotten at a local wool and sheep festival." —Carol Meissner

Some of us who probably knew her best never got to meet her in person. Cherylbwaters and I had a special bond with Susan:

"In the fall of 2007, I broke my wrist. Shortly after that my mother-in-law fell ill and came to live with us. Then in early 2008, one of my sisters was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. So by the end of 2008, I was extremely stressed out. So, I was puttering around Knit Picks desperately looking for something new to knit. About that time, the first Mr. Foster kit came out. So I ordered the kit, but I knew I might need help. Although I had been a long time customer of Knit Picks, I had never joined the Knit Picks Knitting Community. I became a member in order to join in the Mr. Foster KAL. At first I lurked around and didn't say anything. Soon I became hooked and started making comments and once I made a few comments, I found that I couldn't stop. I quickly joined several other KALs. I had joined Ravelry but found it quite intimidating. But the knitting community here felt comfortable. It was better than my local guild and the small knitting group I belonged to because the time was flexible and the people were very helpful and friendly.
"Then Kelley Petkun decided to interview some of us for one of her pod casts. She happened to choose Peggy Stuart, Susan the Blue Lake Knitter and myself. Although we knew of each other in the community, we certainly were not close at the time. But the three of us started corresponding in anticipation of our interviews. Then we had to wait quite a while for the pod cast to be released. So we kept corresponding in anticipation of the pod cast. This created a long lasting friendship between us. We have messaged each other almost daily since then. We didn't talk just about knitting, but also about our families, any problems we had, just about anything. And when Susan would discuss us with her sweet husband, we were known by the states we lived in: Utah (Peggy) and Texas (me).
"I cannot say if we would have become such good friends if we had met in person, but there was something about our correspondence that allowed each of us to open up and share our joys and our miseries.
"Susan was the baby among the three of us, in age and knitting years, yet she was a very guiding light. We always had to tease her because she would always describe herself as a newbie. Susan was never afraid to try new techniques. This made her grow rapidly as an experienced knitter. We had to constantly remind her that although she may not have been knitting super long, she was experienced because she wasn't afraid of knitting. She soaked up every thing she could about knitting. Then she and Peggy took off spinning. They had to drag me into it, kicking and fighting all the way. I can never forget how much they have made me blossom in the world of fiber.
"I cannot believe that Susan is gone. She will always remain in my heart. Thank you, Susan for being such a wonderful friend and being a shoulder to lean on when needed, for all the encouragement you have given me, and for all the laughter you brought into my life. I'm not sure what I will do without you."

Cheryl has pretty much told the tale. I remember getting the email from Knit Picks in September 2009 inviting me to be interviewed by Kelley on the podcast and noticing that the email had also been sent to Cheryl and Susan. We began communicating through emails and personal messages. ("Are you going to do it?" "I'm so nervous!" "Just imagine everyone in the audience naked.")

Soon we were "talking" virtually every day. Over the following years, Susan brought in one or another of our Knitting Community friends to participate in our "talks." These people would stay for awhile and participate, but mostly it was just the three of us. If one of us found out that someone in the Community had a fiber issue that one of the others could handle better, or we thought it would be good for the others to put in their two cents' worth, we would share that information. We popped in so often that we became known as the Knitting Community's "Fairy Godknitters." We made Baby Surprise Jackets, Cookie A Socks and Entrelac together. We explored spinning and even weaving together.

While we didn't agree on everything (who does?) we shared an obsession with fiber and what we could do with it. Susan and I shared our love of dogs, nature and red wine. We had grandbabies at the same times (more or less) and rejoiced over each other's new additions. Susan and I had the same drop spindle (Golding Tsunami), spinning wheel (Kromski Sonata) and, until Susan broke hers, camera (Canon PowerShot A1000 IS).

Sometimes the three of us would pass messages back and forth until late in the night, always finding something to laugh about or cry over and sympathize with, such as when we lost a person close to us or we had a medical problem, or I would take the wrong meaning because of a typo or ambiguous wording.

We even planned to get together in person, but somehow it never happened. However, I think Susan's message to the two of us--shortly after we found out about the podcast--sums it up. In fact, it was prophetic: "Well, one thing for sure," she wrote, "the three of us will know each other a little better when this whole thing is done. --S"
Some of us are making Susan's family an afghan. If you are interested in participating, please let Cheryl know (Cherylbwaters). The squares can be knitted or crocheted, earth tones or neutrals preferred, washable wool if possible, plain or complicated, and 6" blocked. She will put it together for us. If you are in the UK, send your squares to Mrs. K, and she will send them to Cheryl.

If you want to take some time to remember her, here is Susan's page on the Knitting Community and here is Susan's Ravelry page.
Somewhere in Heaven there's a new angel who has gained angels' wings in place of Fairy Godknitters' wings.

If there's no knitting or quilting in Heaven, it isn't Heaven. Share your memories in comments.
My regular blog will be back next week. I'm working on a quilt and my sock monkey, and should have something to share by then.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Monkey Brain

My Mr. F. is moving along.

He's still headless, but at least he has arms now. They look rather flabby, though. I need to take him to Silver Sneakers with me so he can lift some weights.

Mr. F. has been a major UFO since 2009, when I got two arms and one leg done (almost) and quit. Now he's rolling along nicely.

Common Threads met on Thursday. Janet brought her latest "comfort quilt" (one of the quilts she makes for people who have received a troubling diagnosis or are living through other difficult times.)

She made this using fabric mostly donated from Vintage Stitchers members.

The local quilt guild also met this week. We had an interesting assortment of show-and-tell projects.

This was Scottie's partially completed Halloween quilt.

This great hexagon quilt had Dick and Jane fabrics on the back.

I'm thinking this chicken must be a Rhode Island Red.

Since we had "talk like a pirate day" during the week (same as DH's birthday, September 19th), Jill showed us her pirate quilt. She said it took a long time to sew the jewels on the treasure chest. She has it on display at her house on a wall next to a skeleton whose jaws are perpetually shaping an "Aaaargh!". (I love that the quilt looks like a treasure map!)

Julie and I showed off the finished Habitat quilt top, which is being quilted today. (See last week's blog post for the photo.)

I cut out and pieced all the star blocks for a new quilt based on the Connecting Threads' "Sumptuous" kit. Yesterday I started the sashing blocks. I'm having to build them one at a time, because the fabrics have to match up with the star centers, and there's a lot of variety.

As you can see, the stars form the centers of the larger pattern. The empty spaces will fill up with the camel-colored background fabric. Most of my fabrics for this quilt are from the Lincoln Logs kit I bought from a friend who decided the colors weren't for her. (Her palette is what you might call "flash and trash.") They are for me, but I didn't think I needed another log cabin project, so....

On Friday, Julie, Janet and I converged on Joanie to help her finish the blocks for her pine tree quilt. It's paper-pieced.

We finished all but two of the twelve blocks, and Janet and I each took one of the remaining two blocks home to finish. Here's my last block:

Joanie and I will sew them together with sashing and cornerstones, and put on a border. Julie will quilt it on her long arm.

We all brought our Featherweights to Joanie's house. Julie brought her "new" sewing machine, an old '30s Featherweight that looked very bad until she had an auto-body shop paint it.


Friday was also DH's birthday. We were planning on going out to eat, but we did FaceTime with DD and her family, and went way over time, so we went out Saturday instead. We had a great meal of Indian food, then did more FaceTime with DS2 after we got home. Johan obliged us with some adorableness, as you can see in this screen shot.

Today is the last day of summer. Rocky is making the most of it!
Finally, DS2's new movie, The Boxtrolls comes out on Friday. (He does special effects for Laika, the studio that produced The Boxtrolls and several other films.) EVERYONE has to go see this film. We plan on seeing it on Friday.

What's on my needles: Progress on my Mr. F. The Johan socks are holding.

What's on my Featherweight: As-yet-unnamed quilt using Connecting Threads' "Sumptuous" kit as inspiration.

What's on my iPad/iPhone: Listening to Better Read than Dead by Victoria Laurie. Still reading Joseph Lallo's The Book of Deacon from Book Bub.

What's my app of the week: Facebook's new Messenger App. I love that it's separate from FB now.

What's in my wine glass: Blackstone Mendoza Malbec 2011. "Plum and blueberry...rose petal and cocoa. Mmmmmm.

What's my tip of the week: If you're cutting dark printed fabrics on a dark cutting mat, turn the fabric to the wrong side if you have trouble seeing where the fabric is against a dark-colored mat. Dark prints are much lighter on the reverse side. This won't work, of course, with fabric that's yarn-dyed or batiks, that is, where there's no right side.

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.