Monday, September 1, 2014

Cutting Up and Getting Out

The main activity for this week was my "Reflections of Butterflies in Lemonade" quilt top.



I started this quilt on Tuesday. It's the Disappearing Hourglass block from Missouri Star's Quilt Block magazine, the latest issue. There's also a video of how to make it on YouTube.

In the magazine, they show you how you can rotate every other block 90° and end up with a secondary design, and that's what I did. The instructions called for using layer cakes (precut 10" squares), but I realized that this would yield a block with bias edges...not my favorite thing. You put a light square and a dark one together, sew around the outside and cut diagonally twice, corner to corner, which gives you four half-square triangles (HSTs). I figured out that 7 1/4" squares would give you two HSTs about the right size, and you can fit them onto a fat eighth, of which I had several I wanted to use. It takes two of these 7 1/4" squares each of the background and foreground to make a block this way. You sew the HSTs together to make the hourglass block, then cut into 9 patches, which you rotate and sew back together. Fun and easy, with a few precautions. Here's what I learned about making this quilt: 

1) Don't listen to an audiobook when you're first learning how to sew and cut the blocks. If you cut one wrong, you either have to start over, and the waste the fabric, or you have to resort to templates [shudder] or do some serious math and cut pieces out of scraps.

2) When you sew the blocks together always have the light triangle in the same upper corner.

3) When you repress the seams that don't fit when you sew the block together, always press them in the same way.
My Delectable Pathways is coming along. I'm appliquéing the leaves that cross over seams into the pieced blocks. The first panel is done, and I'm working on the second. Julie tells me that her store, where I bought the background fabric, closed in 2004, so I've actually been working on this quilt for ten years! So I've decided to rename it "Peggy's Sistine Chapel."
Vintage Stitchers met at Diane's last week. Marilyn and Brenda are working on the same machine-appliqué birds.


Barbara has finished her "Witches in Stitches" quilt top. We discussed how to have it quilted. Julie, who is a professional quilter, says you can quilt right over the embroidered parts if you use the background color.


Here's the fun back:


Marilyn was working on this batik appliqué:


And here's Rebecca's appliqué:


Daphne and Zachary are now in the same day care, which, for Daphne is preschool. They go to the University of Wisconsin. (Why not start at the top? This way, when they want to go to college, their parents can say they already sent them to a top university.)

This is Zachary, showing off his new backpack and his haircut. (Yes, his hair was longer.)
Our newcomer, Johan, occasionally opens his eyes now.
Finally, our sweet Rocky turned 10 yesterday! (That's 10 in human years!) We took a hike to celebrate. He's in good health, so I have great hopes that he will be with us for 6-7 years yet. Rocky is the most human dog we've ever had, and we love him to bits! (This photo was from last spring, but it was the best recent portrait of him.)
The weather was nice, and we made it to the Fairy Tree in Toll Canyon with friends. (Rocky's the one with the fancy beads, which we left at the Fairy Tree.)
What's on my needles: Still Cat Bordhi's "Bavarian Twisted Stitch" socks from her book, Socks Soar on Two Circular Needles, aka the Johan Socks. Someone in the Knitting Community reminded me that I also have Mr. Foster on the needles. I should really give "the elusive Mr. F." (from Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austin) priority. Still sewing the leaves on my Delectable Pathways.

What's on my iPad/iPhone: Still listening to The Book of Life by Deborah Harkness, also from Audible. Also still reading Joseph Lallo's The Book of Deacon from Book Bub.

What's my app of the week: Public Radio. You can select your favorite PBS station and listen to it in real time.

What's in my wine glass: Amberhill Secret Blend 2010. One of my faves.

What's my tip of the week: Did you know you can use your iPhone as a hotspot for your computer or iPad? Go into "Settings," tap "Cellular." Select "Personal Hotspot." Follow the directions. Of course, this will count towards your data usage, if you have a plan that has limits.

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 25, 2014

UFO-a-go-go.

I had several irons in the fire this week, but the big news is, I'm coming down the home stretch on my Delectable Pathways quilt.
I got the top pretty much put together yesterday. I still have some appliqué to do on leaves that cross over seams. There are also two seams to sew, left open to make  appliqué and embroidery easier, but otherwise, it's done. This was a major UFO for me, started seven years ago. I should call it "Peggy's Sistine Chapel."
I'm going to allow myself to piece one new quilt before tackling the next UFO, and I still have to piece the Habitat House Quilt in early September. However, Julie is going to quilt it and Janet has agreed to put on the binding.
We had an amazing turnout at Common Threads (12 people!) Julie brought along a couple of quilts she's finishing. Here's her comfy cabin quilt:
With  Minky on the back:
She also brought a batik quilt:
Also with Minky on he back:
Pru (Tigermum), a friend of mine from the Tudor Roses KAL group and Starmore Junkies on Ravelry, is in Park City part time. She came to Common Threads and brought her Katherine of Aragon sweater (in progress) for us to see. 
It's really interesting to see in person, partly because she used the yarn called for in the pattern, and she has so much of it done. Here is Pru's Katherine of Aragon sweater:

She also brought some socks she had made and wore another Starmore project. We have a lot of knitters in Common Threads, so it was great she could come and bring along her great projects.
In other quilting news, the Park City Quilt Guild met last week. We had a great show-and-tell.
We saw this great baby quilt:
And this fantastic paper-pieced quilt:
One of our members made this book for a child, including chalk, in a zippered pocket, and a chalk "board."
We saw this great quilt:
One member had made a quilt for her mother, using some blocks her mother pieced before she had to stop quilting due to macular degeneration. The quilter had family members make personalized patches to put in the quilt.
Another quilter had some children help make this quilt. She explained to them the meaning of the log cabin block and how colors were used in early quilts of this type to represent the fireplace and the warmth or light from it.
Some of us visited Joanie on Friday. She had finished her vest.
She is recovering from a major procedure, and is doing well.
I made my second nylon scrubber out of nylon net while I was there.

These are not only handy in the dishpan, but also for cleaning up your cutting mat.
This week Sunny and I completed our recertification process with Therapy Animals of Utah (TAU) and Pet Partner. Our first job was to go to a BBQ put on by another organization, and give a presentation about TAU, during which I explained what we do and talked about some of our experiences with clients, and Sunny did her thing, providing "therapy" to people who seemed healthy and well off. You never know, however. The organization decided to give us a donation.
Baby Johan has been growing. He's still pretty much a night owl, though. Photos of him taken during the day are pretty much with his eyes shut. However, this shows how much he has grown, if you compare with the photos of him in his car seat when he left the hospital. Amazing.
Zachary got his first haircut. Daddy provided the labor, and Mommy cried. Believe it or not, this is after the haircut:
What's on my needles: Still Cat Bordhi's "Bavarian Twisted Stitch" socks from her book, Socks Soar on Two Circular Needles, but I'm calling them the Johan Socks. 
What's on my iPad/iPhone: Finished The Blue Sapphire by D. E. Stephenson from Audible, which was the first one of her books I read years ago. It led me to read as many of her books as I could get my hands on. Now I'm listening to The Book of Life by Deborah Harkness, also from Audible. Still reading Joseph Lallo's The Book of Deacon from Book Bub.
What's my app of the week: I've been getting a lot of use out of my iPhone calculator. I love that I can just whip it out, the way I do my iPhone camera. It comes in handy when calculating my knitting gauge or when cutting fabric for a quilt.
What's in my wine glass: Apothic Red winemaker's blend 2012. DH thinks it's too sweet, but I don't find it sweet at all, and I don't like sweet wines. We found this at Fred Meyer in Oregon, picked up by chance. I went back and got more. My friend Rob says it's more expensive in Utah, but I may have to splurge anyway.
What's my tip of the week: If you're piecing Delectable Mountain blocks, and you know you are going to have to press the seam that has the points under, give the points a wide berth. An extra thread or two will do. The points will tend to bend into the seam otherwise.
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.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Grandpa's Little Dividend

As you know, our trip to Oregon was necessitated by the arrival of our fifth grandchild and third grandson.


It gave us an excuse to visit our younger son and his family. Soren (now a big brother) especially enjoyed feeding dog kibble to the pups. (He also fed some to himself. Yum! Dog kibble!)

Here are some of the things I got to do on my "vacation:"

*Did some camping
*Visited new grandson and his extended family
*Got my first pedicure
*Picked up some new Nike Frees
*Visited our niece and got to see my brother
*Watched the sun set over the Pacific


*Learned what "dry camping" was like with no water. (Use wine to flush the toilet? Only if it has gone through us first!)


*Visited a new yarn shop in Beaverton, Nitro Knitters. Next time I hope to pick up more than dpns)
*Found out that eating a dead crab can give your dog a case of the "runs," and I don't mean running on the beach


*Visited the Stitchin' Post in Sisters.

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, and some plain vanilla socks I've named "Puyallup Socks," because I got a lot done on them while visiting our niece in Puyallup, well into the second sock.
What's on my Featherweight: Back to Delectable Pathways, still working on the hand appliqué for the last panel. All of the leaves done. Starting on the flowers. I found it difficult to appliqué sitting in the truck. Too much bouncing. Also, we didn't have hookups most of our  campground stays, so it was too dark to work. Of course, I could have worked on it while visiting the kids, but I was always either on Soren duty or Johan duty. Oh, darn! Well, we all have to make some sacrifices.
What's on my iPad/iPhone: Still listening to Dean Koontz's The City. Finished reading Black Diamond Death by Cheryl Bradshaw from Book Bub on the iBooks app. Now reading Joseph Lallo's The Book of Deacon. Just started it, but it seems like it's going to be interesting. We listened to Isaac Asimov's The Currents of Space from Audible on our way west, and then The Man in the High Castle by Philip Dick, also from Audible. Both of these were from a special sale of sci-fi books. I let DH pick. He usually listens to books I picked that I thought we would both like. I find it worthwhile to let him pick. I find that sometimes I discover new authors or genres this way.
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: Apothic Red 2012. My new favorite, discovered in Oregon.
What's my tip of the week: If you plan on camping in a campground in Oregon on a weekend in August, be sure to research before you leave to find out where you can stay and make reservations!

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 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.