Thursday, 31 January 2013

"Get it Done" in February

It's time to fess up.  How many of your January plans did you manage to finish this month?  Depending where you are, you might still have a few hours to knock one or two off the list :)

On the first, I posted this list. And I'm happy to say that 3 out of 4 are DONE!  I like to think they would have happened anyway, but it was really nice to have some goals, for those days when I didn't know what to work on.
  1. Catch up on Dancing with the Stars BOM - Done!  blocks are now a top, ready for borders
  2. Catch up on Gardener's Alphabet stitching.  That's probably too big a challenge, so let's just say I'll finish block D, and do at least 1 more (I have A, B, E, F to do).  Nope.  I did some stitching on block D, but not done yet.
  3. Quilt Grant's quilt.  This poor thing has waited through 2 years of UFO challenges, and still isn't done.  No more excuses - I'll load it on my long arm before I put anything else on there, and get it done. Done!!  Quilted, bound, and on his bed.
  4. Make 2 quilties for guild this month.  This might interfere with #3, so I'll have to think about how to get them all quilted this month.  Or maybe if I load Grant's quilt tomorrow, I'll be obligated to finish it so that I can load up the quilties. Done.
And now the question is - what are the goals for this month?  I have a quilt ready for binding, but that's a cop out, because it will be done by the weekend.  I'm putting Gardener's Alphabet back on the list, for sure.  And Dancing with the Stars, to make sure it doesn't just sit around.
I have fabric pulled for 2 quilties - I'd like to get at least one of them done before guild this month.  I have 2 other "in progress" right now - a star quilt I just loaded on the long arm, and my bear's paw quilt.  I think I'll put the long arm work on the list - that gives me a nice mix of projects for the month.

To summarize, for future reference:
  1. Finish 2 blocks of Gardener's Alphabet.  Towards this end, I will pick up my stitching whenever I'm watching TV. Since I have no knitting projects under way, and just finished my book, I should be able to stick to that goal.
  2. Add border to "Dancing with the Stars" quilt
  3. Quilt pink star.
  4. Finish a quiltie before guild night. 
What are your goals for February?  Drop by Judy's blog to see what others are planning.

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Work in Progress

I have been waiting since last November to quilt one particular top. It took me a while to decide what I wanted to do with it, and when I did decide I needed a new part.  I wanted cross-hatching in the background - some straight lines to offset the circles.

But that required an extension base for my machine, so that I could more easily use a ruler.  I finally ordered it just after Christmas, and it came last weekend.  I was so happy, and ready to start this quilt.  I picked it up Saturday and on Sunday morning went downstairs to install it.  And it did not fit AT ALL.  After much struggle (I was warned that it was going to be tight to get on) this is what I ended up with. It is supposed to be flat :(

However, my lovely dealer answered my Sunday email that same day, and drove out to my house Sunday evening with her table, to have a look at what might be wrong.  I was surprised and thrilled that she took time out of her weekend to help me out.  It was obvious pretty quickly that my extension table was out of spec - the holes were mounted in a location about 1" off where hers were.  So, she very nicely left me with her table and took mine back (hopefully to return for one made correctly).

I spent the last couple evenings working on this quilt, and now it is done and ready for binding.  I'll have to get a better picture of the quilting itself, once I am done. Now to figure out what to bind it with.

In the meantime, while taking breaks from the long arm, I finished a second dresden plate for the Block Party this month at my LQS, and finished a whirling star - done correctly this time!

I'm linking up today over at Freshly Pieced  and the Needle and Thread Network, for Work in Progress Wednesday.

Monday, 28 January 2013

Design Wall Monday - Jan 28

My design wall today is a journey from frustration to success to disappointment.  I decided to try a new block this weekend. It's the January block from one of the many Block the Month projects I'm following - a Whirling Star.  I've been debating whether to start this one, in part because of this particular block.  There are template directions for it, and paper piecing.  I would prefer to do neither.

Then, a challenge was issued by my LQS - make a 12.5" block from a bundle of 3 fabrics (add any you want). And this block seemed like a good choice for that.  So I decided to give it a whirl :)  I looked up the pattern on Quilter's Cache.  The pages say 12.5" block, but when I printed the template it was obviously smaller than that - more like a 10" block, which doesn't meet the criteria for the challenge.  So, I sketched and drafted. Looked at EQ (that didn't go well).  Finally came up with sizes for the polygons in this block.  I cut all the pieces for the block on the right in the picture above.  And put half of the units together wrong.  And, when I fixed one and measured the resulting 1/4 section, it is too small.

Back to the drawing board (literally). More measuring.  More sketching.  Apparently a 1/8" divergence makes a full 1/2" difference in the final block.  Oh boy.  Find more scraps.  Cut more polygons.  And assemble another block. This one worked, almost perfectly!  Yay!

So I pulled out the fabric for the challenge (the orange is my addition to the set).  Cut the pieces, fussy cut the orange flowers, placed them all my wall - and I don't like it :(  I think it's time for a break, and some rethinking on this plan.

The dresden plate in the upper left is a success on my wall.  This is the block for a Block Party I joined.  The block will go to the quilt owner - and I'm very happy with how it turned out. So happy in fact that I volunteered to make another one for her. Fingers crossed that the first was not just beginner's luck.

Back to my whirling star - an hour and several shufflings later, and I still don't like anything I've come up with.  I think the fabrics (2 of them, anyway) are too busy for this block.  It seems like I'll have to rethink the whole plan.

Drop by Patchwork Times to see what everyone else is up to this week.

Sunday, 27 January 2013

Stash Report - Jan 27

There's a little bit of fabric to report today.  I finished the top & backing for my ugly fabric challenge.
2 yards - ugly fabric quilt
1.5 yards - backing

I also worked Friday night and Saturday on a UFO I've had since I was on retreat last November.  Got all the blocks finished and the top assembled.  Now to figure out borders.   I don't have much of any of the fabrics, since this was all made from FQs, so I'll have to be creative.  I might have enough of the gold in the alternate blocks to make a narrow border as a starting point.

Total stash usage this year:
For the year: 17 1/4 yards out

Drop by Judy's blog to see more stash reports today.

Friday, 25 January 2013

Friday Night Sew-In

I just realized that tonight is Friday Night Sew-In night.  And, surprise, I just finished spending 2.5 hours sewing.  So, I'm going to link up after the fact, and join the party.  This is what I've been working on tonight.  The bear paw blocks were already done, as were most of the alternate blocks. I made the last of the setting triangles tonight, and just have the corners to do now.

This quilt is based on a design from Judy at Patchwork Times.   She always has the greatest designs, and since I've never done a bear's paw before, I decided to quilt along with her when she posted this pattern.  I didn`t want to deal with the half-bear`s paw blocks, so I changed it up a bit.

And, because it's also "what's on your needles" Friday over at Patchwork Times, here is what is *off* my needles this week.  Fingerless mitts for my sister, completed and mailed.  And, apparently, perfect for reading her ipad on the bus going to work :)

Thursday, 24 January 2013

January UFO finish

This is my UFO finish for January.  After languishing for 2 years in my "to do" pile, I finally loaded it up and quilted it.  I already showed this quilt once, but I wanted to post it again with a bit more of it's history.  Looking back through my posts, I started it the weekend of January 17, 2010, so it was almost exactly 3 years start to finish.

When I started this quilt, I made one block to be sure I knew what I was doing.  The pattern called for tri-recs rulers, but I didn't have those.  I did however have a kaleidoscope ruler, so I figured I could use that.  It would make the traingular bits I needed just fine.  So I went ahead and made a sample block.  And realized to my chagrin that the triangle pieces came out the wrong size - narrower than the pattern called for.  However, being stubborn, I decided to redraft the center block in the star and use my "mis-sized" blocks anyway.  Of course, that meant that I needed a few more blocks than originally called for.  So this quilt was a bit of a "design-as-you-go" project, despite coming from a magazine.

I had this all done, and then had to take the borders off because I had mis-measured.  Actually, what I did is calculate the borders based on the size the quilt should be.  But my 1/4 inch seams are never perfect, and the quilt was about 1/2 inch narrower and 3/4 inch shorter than expected - so my borders were too long.  Foolishly, I thought I could ease them to fit - but because the quilt is entirely on the bias, the quilt stretched and when I hung it up the borders waved.

So, after much debate about whether I could stretch the whole thing while quilting, I finally took off the borders and recalculated.  In order to keep the piano keys even, and preserve my nicely matched mitred corners, I added a narrow gold border before the dark brown one.  In the end, I think this improved the overall look of the quilt, so it was a good mistake :)

I'm linking up with "A Lovely Year of Finishes" this month.  Drop by to see what everyone else has accomplished.

Monday, 21 January 2013

Design Wall Monday - Jan 21

Earlier this weekend, this is what my design wall looked like.  A little bit of everything up there.  On the right are 2 stars from BOM projects - Scrap Happy  on top and Dancing with the Stars underneath.  At the bottom, the Skill Builder BOM - 2 blocks this month.  I hope that's not a trend.  And in the middle, an initial attempt at my ugly fabric challenge from guild in December. We have until June to make a quilt (smaller than crib size) using 7 different ugly fabrics.  The black definitely didn't work for me, so it didn't stay up long.  Anyone need 30 black half-hexagons?

However, today my design wall is much neater.  I finished the last Dancing with the Stars block on Saturday, and spent a good chunk of Sunday putting it together into a top.  Now it's all ready for borders, and the border fabric has been washed and ironed.  That is probably next weekend's project.

Here's a picture of the top minus borders.  Given the trouble I had with some of the blocks, I'm amazed at how easily it went together, and how flat it is.

The only thing left on my design wall today is this top.  All assembled and ready for borders.  I think I'm going to go with a narrow scrappy border like I have here, with a wider border in the background colour outside it.

Check out Judy's design wall Monday post, to see what everyone else is up to today.

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Stash Report - Jan 20

Apparently I neglected to report anything last week. That could be because there wasn't anything to report, I guess.  Since then, I have quilted 2 baby quilts - 1.5 yards of backing used.  And bound 3 quilts - 1 yard total.  No finishes yet this week.  With my plethora of BOM projects (9 at last count, and a new one today) I may not finish much of anything before the end of the year.  But I will keep trying, and I do hope to make at least 1-2 quilties each month for guild, so that will help keep my counts climbing.

For today, total used = 2.5 yards
For the year: 13 3/4 yards out

Here are the baby quilts I finished this week, which I posted about a few days ago. They have been handed in at guild and are on their way to the local hospital.  In addition, I finished my son's quilt!  3 years in the making - well, more like 6 months in the making and 2.5 years being avoided.  But I completed the quilting on it over the weekend. Bound it Monday/Tuesday.  Took it to the guild for show and tell on Wednesday, and it is now happily on my son's bed.

I'm linking up at Judy's stash report today.  Drop by to see what others are up to.

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Checking in

Half-way through January, and it's time to check in on our monthly goals.  My UFO for the month is my son's quilt.  It is now quilted, and the binding is almost done.  The plan is to take it to guild tonight, and try to finish the last section of binding during the first half of the meeting, so I can display it at show and tell.  This one has been so long coming, and I'm so happy for the encouragement to get it done this month.  I tried to finish binding last night, but just couldn't keep my eyes open any longer.

My other goals for the month, which I set as part of Judy's challenge, were:
  1. Catch up on Dancing with the Stars - just 1 block left to go, and I should be able to finish that this weekend
  2. Do 2 blocks in Gardener's Alphabet.  This is an embroidery project, and it's not gotten much attention.  My hand-stitching time has been spent binding quilts.  But I did take it to the drop-in morning on Saturday, so I go 1 hour of work done on it.  Any progress is better than none.
  3. Make 2 quilties for guild.  The meeting is tonight, and the quilts are completed and washed, and ready to go. 
I embroidered the 4 plain blocks in the first quilt, and then did some micro stippling around them to make the designs stand out.  The rest is stitch-in-the-ditch.  A good opportunity to practice that on my long arm.

Here's a closeup of one of the embroidered blocks.
The second quilt was done with a simple (quick) meander.  This quilt was the result of a class at retreat last fall. It was designed as a table runner, teaching mitres.  I made 1 extra block and turned it into a donation quiltie.

I'm linking up to check in with A Lovely Year of Finishes.

Monday, 14 January 2013

Design Wall Monday - Jan 14

My design wall today has a number of projects on it.  Busy little fingers last week made plenty of progress on my BOM projects.  Fortunately I got most of that done before I had a run in with my rotary cutter.

First, I have the bits for the Back to Square One Mystery.  I have no idea where this is going - I know it's a medallion quilt, so shouldnt' be too many months before we have the center block together.

Then, a lone star for the Scrap Happy block of the month.  I like the many colours in this, although I cheated and am using fat quarters, rather than scraps. Kind of defeats my "use up my scraps" plan.  The star went together perfectly.  Then I added the background squares, and everything fell apart.  I'm not too happy with the end result, but haven't decided if I'll rework it or just "quilt it out" when it's done.

Dancing with the Stars is coming along.  It's part of my "Get it Done" list for this month.  Only one more block to make.

And I have the first set of blocks for the Craftsy block of the month.

I'm linking up at Judy's Design Wall Monday post today.  Drop by to see what everyone else is up to.

Sunday, 13 January 2013

A word to the wise

Or, perhaps more accurately, a word to the impatient, who can't be bothered to clear their cutting table before wrangling with trimming a full size quilt.

The blade cover on your rotary cutter exists for a reason!

Sigh.  I wanted to get my son's quilt trimmed, so I could sit down for a couple of hours and try to finish the binding before my guild meeting on Wednesday.  So, I didn't take the time to clear my table off, despite the large size of the quilt.  I swept a 30" section clear, and started trimming.  And as I reached beneath the quilt to grab an edge of the fabric to straighten it, I found instead my rotary cutter. Embedded in the tip of my finger.

The good news:
  • No blood on the quilt
  • It's my left hand, so I can still sew
  • I don't need stitches
Listed in order of importance, of course :) 

And as I finished trimming the quilt, I remembered to slide the blade cover on my rotary cutter at least 80% of the time.  That other 20% may be a problem, however. I'm afraid that if I can't reliably remember to cover it immediately after slicing my finger, it may be a lost cause.

Saturday, 12 January 2013

Quiltathon Progress

Judy is hosting a quiltathon this weekend.  I haven't had as much time to participate as I had hoped, but I have made progress on a few projects.  First, two solid hours of quilting this morning produced this single block.  Only one more to go, which might get done tomorrow.

A much easier, and quicker, result came from the Craftsy BOM.  Just a few minutes produced 4 offset log cabin blocks for that quilt.  That was a nice break after the paper piecing.

My BOM list grew this week, but on the good news side, I have caught up on all of them except for 2: 1 more Dancing with the Stars block to complete; and I just have to trim 56 half-square triangles for the Border Creek Station mystery.

A quick update on my "Get it done" goals for this month:
  1. Catch up on Dancing with the Stars BOM - including the January blocks.  5 done, only 1 more to go
  2. Catch up on Gardener's Alphabet stitching.  That's probably too big a challenge, so let's just say I'll finish block D, and do at least 1 more (I have A, B, E, F to do).  I did get some stitching done on "D" today
  3. Quilt Grant's quilt.  This poor thing has waited through 2 years of UFO challenges, and still isn't done.  No more excuses - I'll load it on my long arm before I put anything else on there, and get it done.   Only one more row to quilt.
  4. Make 2 quilties for guild this month.  This might interfere with #3, so I'll have to think about how to get them all quilted this month.  Or maybe if I load Grant's quilt tomorrow, I'll be obligated to finish it so that I can load up the quilties. I dug out 2 tops, which I will quilt as soon as Grant's quilt comes off the long arm.  I have until Wednesday to finish these.
Excellent!  I've made progress on all fronts, although nothing is done yet.

Friday, 11 January 2013

On the Needles - Jan 11

Not much knitting progress here this week.  As expected, going back to work has seriously cramped my crafting time :)  I did finish 2 more pattern repeats on the hat I'm working on, but I don't have a new picture of that.  And nothing else has been touched.

In fact, the poor hat had a bit of a setback.  I left the project bag on the floor Tuesday night, and when Roomba ran the next morning it snagged a loose end of yarn.  End result - about 2 yards of yarn wrapped around Roomba's brushes, and the active yarn from my hat snapped off at the needle.

So, after unstitching back far enough to produce an end that could be woven in, I joined the yarn and continued on.  Now the bag stays on a shelf.

Wednesday, 9 January 2013


As if I don't already have enough block of the month projects underway (check out this link for my current projects), I just signed up for 3 more. I'm not really fond of BOM which are all different blocks, but I think I can take the blocks and make quilties from various sets of them, for most of the BOM projects.

First, there's a Scrap Happy BOM focusing on different techniques all year

And a "skill builder".  Again. a lot of different techniques throughout the year.  I love the colours she made this quilt in. Not sure yet what I'm going to use, but I'm leaning towards more scrappiness, and quilties rather than one quilt at the end.
Pile O' Fabric

And then the Craftsy BOM for 2013.

This should definitely keep me busy all year long.  I hope I find enough time to keep up on them all, and also do some designing of my own quilts.

Monday, 7 January 2013

Design Wall Monday - Jan 7, 2013

After a hiatus over Christmas, my sewing room was buzzing this weekend.  Judy's "Get it Done" challenge inspired me.  I pulled out my projects, reviewed all my monthly projects (listed here), and decided to jump in and tackle some of them.  My design wall now has a mix of 3 different projects on it.  On the top right are the blocks from my guild's mystery quilt.  Below that, Dancing with the Stars.  And on the left, the mess of fabrics I received in the guild "Ugly fabric" exchange.  The dark fabrics are my (not ugly) addition to the set.

First on the agenda this weekend, I pulled out Dancing with the Stars. These paper pieced blocks are really time consuming, so I need a pretty big chunk of time before I'm willing to tackle any of them.  I have to wash the fabric (by hand, because the pieces are so small in the kit), dry it, cut the pieces, and paper piece each block - most containing upwards of 40-50 pieces.  This was my main focus this past weekend, and I successfully completed 4 blocks in 2 days of work.  Two blocks left to go, and I think this entire quilt is complete and ready for assembly.

Then, I needed a break. Something a bit more mindless. So, rather than jump into another of my "Get it Done" projects, I pulled out the guild mystery quilt.  This mystery started in October, and I've been collecting instructions but had done nothing with them.  So I am 3 months behind.  I found some lovely fabric this past week, at the LQS anniversary sale, and now I'm all set to go.  I jumped in and cut & sewed, and in about 2 hours I have caught up on this mystery.  And, I think I know where it's going.  Taking the blocks from the top picture, with the 8 1/2" focus blocks, and the strips I have cut out, I can see a pattern forming.

And now, it's time to go back to work. After 2 weeks off, this is going to be a bit of a shock, and my quilting will, I'm sure, suffer for it.  But on the good side, I have lots of progress to show for this weekend.

Current progress on "Getting it Done"
  1. Catch up on Dancing with the Stars BOM - 4 blocks done, 2 left to go
  2. Catch up on Gardener's Alphabet stitching.
  3. Quilt Grant's quilt. Loaded, and 2 passes quilted
  4. Make 2 quilties for guild this month.

Sunday, 6 January 2013

Stash Report - Jan 6, 2013

The first stash report of 2013. And already I have a bunch of fabric used, that I forgot to track as I cut it.  I think this year I am going to make a change in my reporting methods.  I will continue to report only stash out, as incoming stash is not (currently) an issue for me.  And, this year I think I will report stash used when the top is complete, backing when it is loaded on the long arm, and binding when I attach it.  That should help me keep track, and avoid double counting (or missing completely) any fabric.  Especially for those on-going block of the month projects I have so many of this year.

So, for this year's first stash report, I have one completed quilt top, and one quilt loaded on the long arm, so I can count its backing.  That's 5 yards for backing. The quilt top used 5 1/4 yards, plus 2 1/2 yards for borders.  But I counted 1 1/2 yards last year, so that's 6 1/4 yards I can count today.  And the end result of those 6 1/4 yards is my version of Bonnie's Easy Street Mystery.  A smaller version, with extended borders.  It measures about 60x80, and is just right for a twin bed.

Those who participated in Bonnie's mystery may note that I did not choose my "dark grey" very well. It blends completely into my black&white background fabric.  However, I still like the end results, desipte that missing feature.

Total stash used this week:  11 1/4 yards

Check out Judy's blog for more 2013 stash reports.  And on Monday I'll be linking up to Bonnie's Easy Street reveal linkup.

Saturday, 5 January 2013

A Lovely Year of Finishes

Judy has me all organized with her "Getting it Done" plan for 2013.  Each month, we'll pick 4 quilt-related items to complete during the month.  This doesn't have to be finishing a project - just a step, whatever step, to move things along.  I hope this will keep me motivated and on track, especially since I have a number of block of the month projects on the go right now.  My plan is here

However, that leaves me at a bit of a loss for UFOs.  I don't have a ton of them, but I do have 7 quilts waiting for time on the long arm. And a number of new ones which will join them over the year.  So, I have decided to join the Lovely Year of Finishes challenge, hosted by Melissa of Sew BitterSweet Designs and Shanna of Fiber of All Sorts.

Each month we'll pick one project which will be *finished* that month, and link up our plans.  Then, at the end of the month we'll all get to celebrate our finishes at the linky party.

So here we go.  I'm jumping in this month with my son's quilt.  It has sat through 2 years of Judy's UFO challenges, and is still just a top.  So I put it on my "Getting it done" list for this month.  And now, I'm putting it here.  I WILL finish this quilt - including binding - before the end of this month.  Please?!?

Step one complete - the quilt is loaded on the long arm, and the quilting design is decided and started.  This is a good sign.

If you want to join the Lovely Year of Finishes, check out the details at the link below, pick a project, and join in.

My Button

Friday, 4 January 2013

On the Needles

How many knitting projects can one person have going at one time?  Apparently, at least 4.  I really should finish one of these.

First, I have fingerless mitts, for my sister.  When I was visiting over Christmas, she mentioned that she was looking for a pair, but they had to have a long (but open) thumb and she couldn't find any.  So I thought I'd make her a pair for her birthday. (Hopefully I'm right that she doesn't read my blog :) )

Unfortunately, I have once again been bit by the yarn that changes colour over the course of the skein, and the gloves are two slightly different shades.  So now I will make another "pair", and pick the best match for her.

Next, a pair of socks that I've been working on for a month.  Finally turned the heel before Christmas, so I just need to sit down and finish them.  These are taking a long time, because I'm doing them on extra-small needles, in the hopes of making them more comfortable to wear.  Notice Cari contemplating them.  She really wanted to help with the photos today.

Then we have my poor ruffled scarf.  I just can't get excited about this one, although apparently Cari can.  Part of my problem is the awkward needles.  They are too long, so it's hard to knit if I'm wearing a sweater or my coat (I was knitting this scarf every time I wait for my son at his drum lesson each week).  But I finally bought myself some shorter needles in the right size, so I hope I can get moving on this again.

And finally, a hat to match to the scarf.  I decided that part of my problem with finishing the scarf is knowing when to stop :)  And I'm going to have a pile of yarn left over.  So I decided to make a matching hat.  And I need to make the hat first, so that I know I have enough yarn for it.  Then I can finish the scarf and make it as long as the yarn I have.

Drop by Judy's blog to see what others are knitting this week.

Thursday, 3 January 2013

Easy Street Mystery progress

Bonnie posted the eighth and final step of the Easy Street Mystery on New Year's Day.  I spent the day sewing my blocks together, and deciding how big to make the quilt.  I had started out making about 1/2 the number of block segments she called for, knowing that I did not want to make a full size quilt.  It turns out I did a pretty good job.  I had enough block pieces to put together this quilt, with just a few 4-patches left over.

It is about 40x60", so with appropriate borders, I can make it a good twin-sized bed cover. Now I need to figure out borders.  This is my current thought.  You need to look just at the narrow strip of fabric shown below.