Saturday, 31 August 2013

Weekend projects

I traded sewing for sawing this weekend.  I found out recently that my son has a dust allergy, so I promised to replace the carpets in his room, in order to try to alleviate some of the symptoms.  So, that's on the agenda for this weekend, and the sewing machine is going to have to wait a bit longer for attention.

Flooring is turning out to be a lot more work than I thought.  His room is a simple rectangle, nothing fancy, so I thought this would go pretty quickly. But it turns out that when you trek up and down (or down and up) 2 flights of stairs every time you have to cut a board, you make a lot of trips. And it takes a lot of energy.  Just about 1/2 done now, but it's time to tackle the closet so taking a break for a while.  Besides, it's way too late (and dark) to be working on flooring.

During rest periods, I have been picking up my dreambird knitting.  It is coming along really nicely, although there's a long way to go before it feels like a shawl.  7 feathers done, and it's starting to get to that awkward stage where the body of the shawl gets in the way every time I turn a row.  I'm glad I jumped on board this project though - it is turning out to be a lot of fun, even if the 22 pages of the pattern were a bit intimidating at the start.

I'm linking up (a day or two late) with Judy's Dreambird progress.

Monday, 26 August 2013


Today's the first linkup for the Dreambird knit-a-long.  I don't think I'll be linking up quite as frequently as Judy is posting (3 times a week), but I'll try to keep up and keep you all posted on my progress. This pattern is turning out to be fun, and actually pretty simple once you get started on it.  The keys seem to be following the directions carefully, and following the directions carefully :)

I do highly recommend a bias bind-off for this, as Denise mentioned in one of her posts - it is going to make a much nicer neck edge than the stair-step bind off that the directions produce (ok, so in this case I didn't follow the directions).  I found a good link for the bind off here

Sunday, 25 August 2013

Stash Report

It's a good thing I was energetic earlier this week and got some quilting done, because I have been less than productive this weekend.  I wish whatever bug it is that caught me would just be done.  However, I have found that knitting is a great project when I'm under the weather.  Lot of progres on my dreambird shawl this weekend.

As for quilting, my efforts earlier in the week did produce some numbers to share.

2 yards backing for placements
3/4 yards binding

Total stash usage this year: 182 1/4 yards out

Drop by Judy's blog for more stash reports. And if you're a knitter, check out the Dreambird knit-a-long which is starting today.

Friday, 23 August 2013

On the needles

Since I'm joining Judy's Dreambird knit along, I now have something to post for "On the needles" Friday.  It doesn't look like much, but here is the first part of the first feather for my dreambird.  I've been feeling under the weather the past couple of days, and not interested in quilting.  This knitting project is just the thing to keep me occupied.

I've already knit 2 feathers and ripped them both out.  One, I didn't like the colour. This yarn seems to be a much better choice.  The second, I didn't like the tension, so I ripped it out and grabbed a set of smaller needles.

Now, I'm afraid the shawl will be too small, so I spent some time recalculating and rewriting the pattern for a larger size.  Hopefully I got it right, and the ratios will still work out.

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

New Toy

When I was at a quilt show the other weekend, I saw an absolutely stunning quilt.  This photo doesn' tdo it justice - the quilting is amazing. And when someone told me that the quilter did not have a computerized machined, I was in awe.

The circles on this quilt are absolutely perfect.

I managed to chat with the quilter, and when I asked how she did it, she told me her machine came with a circle maker.  I decided right then that I had to have one.  Of course, my machine *doesn't* come with a circle maker, but I knew there had to be other options.

I found exactly what I wanted, at Loricles Quilting, and it arrived today!  The Circle Lord is going to be so much fun to play with.

I put together a really quick quiltie, just so I could try this out.  4 quick squares, and now I have 4 circle medallions.

They are easier to see from the back.  The tool makes perfect circles, spaces the medallions around a circle, and pretty much makes this whole thing fool-proof.

I think this is going to be the perfect tool for quilting a dresden plate quilt that is waiting a turn on the long arm..

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Time for Knitting

I have decided to get my knitting needles back out, and join a knit-along with Judy over at Patchwork Times.  Judy is knitting Dreambird, so yesterday I went over to Ravelry and bought the pattern.  I wanted to do this from yarn I already have, so I dug out some Wollmeise that I've been holding onto for a while, and went hunting for something to pair it with.  This is what I found.  I thought it might work, but after I wound it in to a ball, I see there is more brown and less yellow than I thought.

Then this morning I had an inspiration - silver would be beautiful with this yarn.  So I headed out to a yarn shop at noon to find some. Apparently, silver is not a popular yarn choice.  But I did find something that I think will work nicely, and I do prefer it over the brown.  So, yarn chosen.  Cast on day is Sunday, so now I wait.

Monday, 19 August 2013

The best laid plans

My design wall is empty this week.  I am determined to get some quilting done, before I pull out another project.  I finished quilting my labyrinth yesterday morning.  But I messed up (as usual) on the binding - I had bought enough fabric for it, and then I went and used that fabric for the backing :(  I really do need to cut my binding and set it aside before I start the quilt. 

Anyway, now I'm stuck - I could buy more, but I'd rather not, so I came up with a possible plan.  But I wanted to try it out first.  So, I figured I'd load up a quick project, quilt it, and then bind it to see if my plan would work.  4 hours later (quick, yah right), I finished quilting the placemats I took downstairs. 

I started with a single pass on these, but decided that they needed to be more heavily quilted.  So, I shifted the template and went back over them with another thread colour.

I tried out my binding plan on these, and decided I don't like it.  It worked OK, but the edging is machine stitched, and this just reaffirmed that I don't like that look. I'll have to come up with a different plan for the labyrinth.

Check out Judy's blog for more design walls today.

Sunday, 18 August 2013

Stash Report Aug 18

I showed this week's finishes yesterday.  So for today,  here's a sneak peak at my labyrinth quilt on the long arm.  Over 1/2 done now, so I should be able to finish it up this weekend.  

My stash numbers for this week are looking good, thanks to the 2 finishes.
A little diversion - 6 1/4 yards
Mystery quilt - 10 1/4

Total used this week, 16 1/2 yards
Total stash usage this year: 179 1/2 yards out

Drop by Judy's blog for more stash reports today.

Saturday, 17 August 2013

A couple of finishes

Two tops finished today.  I completed the applique on my Border Creek Station Mystery. Well, almost. Just the edges inside the little cutouts to do now.  I'm kind of regretting adding that little detail :)  I apparently have until Oct 4 to get this one quilted, so it's going to jump the queue for the long arm. Speaking of which - the labyrinth quilt is past the halfway mark today.  If I get focussed, I may be able to finish it this weekend.

Second completed top is one I call "Just a Little Diversion", because that's what it was.  A diversion from applique (because that was a lot more work than I expected), using fabric that I bought trying to distract myself from a stressful couple of days.  It worked on both counts :)

And I even found enough fabric in my stash for backing for both of these.  In flannel!  Not sure how that happened, since I don't generally buy flannel, but there it was and they both worked perfectly for the respective quilts.  

Monday, 12 August 2013

Design Wall Monday, Aug 12

My design wall hasn't changed too much since yesterday.  I did get a second applique block almost done (just have to stitch around the brown pieces on this one).  I am amazed how the applique makes the beige triangles stand out more.  I was nervous about adding the applique to this quilt, but I'm loving the result. And now I'm eyeing the first cream border ...

And I loaded a new quilt on my long arm.  The quilt show yesterday inspired me, so I'm doing more custom quilting on this one than I might have planned otherwise.  It's a nice diversion from the applique work.

Drop by Judy's blog for more design walls today.

Sunday, 11 August 2013

Stash Report Aug 11

No finishes to claim this week, so my stash count is steady at 163 yards out.  Next week could be good, however, because I have 2 quilts that just need final touches.  I spent yesterday working on my Border Creek Station mystery quilt.  Borders are on, now - so I'd better not change my mind :)  - and I started the applique.  It's a lot of work (maybe I should have gone with something less detailed), but I like the result so I will push on with the next 3 blocks.

Drop by Judy's blog for more stash reports today.  As for me, I'm off to a quilt show for the day.

Friday, 9 August 2013

A small diversion

While pondering borders on my mystery quilt, and avoiding the quilt on the long arm, I amused myself with a short diversion. 

Using one set of fabric from my retail therapy last weekend, I put together this quilt.  You may recognize it as a Big Block Quilt.  I drafted the blocks myself, to get maximum usage out of my fat quarters.  In fact, I went a little overboard. I figured I could get 4 9.5" blocks out of each FQ (a Canadian FQ is about 20"x20"), but a couple of them were cut crooked so I was .5" short on 4 of the squares.  Fixed that up with an off-cut from the other edge, and you can hardly notice the extra seam.

I was a bit disappointed. I thought for a while that Electric Quilt had let me down. It said I needed 1 yard of the dark brown, and I knew that I'd purchased 1 meter - so that was 4" more than I needed.  No problem!  But after cutting 16 of the 17 strips I needed, I was 1/2" short for the final strip :(  So I went back to pencil & paper and figured out that I actually needed 38.5" of fabric - more than 1 yard!  But less than the meter I bought - I must have lost almost 2" in shrinkage when I washed it.  I went back to EQ to figure out what went wrong there, because it usually estimates high, not low.  I checked the fabric width (set to 40", check). And then noticed the seam allowance setting - .1". Oops.  Fixed that, and EQ says I needed 1 1/4 yards.  Yes, that's much closer to reality.

Fortunately, I was able to salvage enough length from two of my strips to cut the couple of pieces I needed due to the missing strip. So all ended well!  The rows are attached and first border added now.  And now it sits until I get back to the quilt shop, because I need an outer border fabric.  More shopping!

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Bulging Checkerboard Complete!

This quilt started as a thought, back in early 2012, when I saw the optical illusion on line.  I jumped on the challenge to design this in a quilt, entirely pieced with no applique.  It went through a couple of iterations on the design board, as I tried to find the ratios that would make the illusion work.  When I thought I had it right, I cut a bunch of blocks and started sewing.  Fortunately, I decided to have a look at the center, before I went too far.  Because I discovered that my ratios were off and the illusion had disappeared completely. 

So I made another set of 25 blocks and tried again, this time leaving 1/8" rather than 1/4" for the 'reveals' that make the illusion work.  This was better, as you can see in the photo.  First attempt on the left, second on the right.  In person, only the one on the right 'bends'.

So I modified the initial set of blocks and kept on sewing. 225 blocks later, I had the center of the top complete.  I chose to quilt it with a simple petal design in each block, using matching thread.  The back of the quilt is a cream & brown print, so the thread blends nicely there, too.

I designed the quilt and assembled it in September 2012, and then quilted it in November.  I was very glad that I had a long arm at that point, because I could not contemplate the thought of quilting a 102" square quilt on my regular machine.

Binding took another few months, and I put the last binding stitches into the quilt at a retreat in April 2013 - just in time for show and tell. And as of today, it has a name: "Beyond the Squares".

I am now contemplating a new version of this - a bit smaller this time.  The illusion is great in photos, but a bit difficult to see in person - partly because the quilt is so big, and partly because the 1/8" reveal is still too big.  I am going to make a new one using piping for the reveals, and see if that improves the "in person" result.  The pattern for this version is avilable for free on my patterns page.

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

More Border thoughts

There were several suggestions on my borders for the mystery quilt I showed on Monday.  Some people thought I should scrap the pieced border - I just can't do that, for two reasons.  First, it is part of the quilt design.  While I don't mind modifying colours, I don't really like the idea of scrapping a large part of the border which was designed for this quilt.  But, I have done that in the past. I think the bigger issue is - there's  a heck of a lot of work in that border :)

I did come up with a couple additional thoughts today. I think I like the second one of these best, and will probably go with that.  The green gets tossed, but I like the way the multi-coloured fabric works in the two border positions, better than the dark brown.  I also added an applique that I am thinking of including, which picks up the blue and multi-colour from the star blocks, and adds a touch of the green..  The large plain square seemed out of place to me, so I thought I would add something.  This was inspired by the Ricky Tims presentation I saw last Thursday, where he talked about his applique.

linking up for Work in Progress Wednesday, over at The Needle and Thread Network and at Freshly Pieced.  

Monday, 5 August 2013

Design Wall Monday - Aug 5

Happy, happy day.  It's a holiday today, and I plan to spend the whole day in my sewing room.  It's been a therapy weekend, and an extra day of sewing is just what I needed.

I pulled out a couple of half-finished projects - victims of my mother's visit in June when I cleaned up my sewing room.  Time to get back on track and finish these two mystery quilts.  The first one is up on the design wall.  I stopped right at the last clue.  But now that I pull the fabric she calls for, for the borders, I don't like it at all :(

Apparently I hated it so much that I didn't even take a picture of it.  It looks like this one, except the blue was a green fabric instead.  I tried replacing it with the blue, but I really don't like the way the border fabric plays with the dark brown.  They blend too much.  I really wish the border fabric was the same as the focus fabric, but it's not and I don't have nearly enough of that left.  And since these are all batiks, finding a matching fabric at this point is pretty much a lost cause.

So I put up a few other choices.  First, I tried adding an additional border in the green, to help the outer border fabric.  I like that effect, but now I really don't like the blue in there.

Taking the blue out and replacing it with one of the light fabrics helped a lot.  I'm kind of liking this, but the brown/green/multi outer border feels a bit heavy.

So I removed the brown border, and left the green.  Getting better, but it still seems to be missing something.  I'll have to ponder this some more, so my design wall will likely look like this for a few days.

While it hangs out, I can contemplate the big empty spaces.  They seem a bit lost and lonely - like maybe they need applique added to spruce them up.  Of course, applique is not my favourite activity, but Ricky Tims did provide some inspiration and a desire to try new things.  So something might happen there.

Check out Judy's blog for more design walls today.  And leave your thoughts on borders & applique in my comments below :)

Sunday, 4 August 2013

Catch Up Day

I have been neglecting my Back to Square One Mystery quilt for a few months.  The August clue was posted a couple of days ago, and this reminded me to dig out my progress.  I put the quilt top away in May, and haven't had it out since.  Looking at the clues, I know why I avoided it.  Clue #4 was square-in-a-square, in a square.  A bit intimidating, and with visitors coming I had the perfect excuse to put it away. 

However, it's time to get back on track.  I pulled the top out yesterday, and started to work on the May clue.  I wanted to get caught up in time to post my progress on the July clue, so I had some work to do.  Clue 4 finished - 20 blocks.  And low and behold - clue 5 was 20 more of the same block in different colouring!  Those, I left for today.  But I pushed through, finished all the blocks, and attached the borders to the quilt.  Clue 6 done.

Clue 7 at least was a change of pace - 24 log cabin blocks.  Little strips, finishing at 3/4", but at least there are no triangles here :)  I finished those too, and I am now officially done all the clues up to and including July.

August is more square-in-a-square. I think I will take a break for a week or so, before I tackle those.  But hopefully they'll be done before the end of the month, and I can stay on track again.

Drop by Judy's blog to see how everyone else is doing with their quilts.

Stash Report - Aug 4

Retail therapy - great for the state of mind, not so good for the pocketbook.  But I was in need of some therapy (and an excuse to stay away from my house) on Saturday, so I headed to the most natural place - my local quilt shop.  They were most helpful as always, and I left feeling much better - albeit lighter in the wallet.

Makings for 3 quilts followed me home.  At least one of these will become a BBQ (that's "Big Block Quilt") - probably the purple/green combination. The others have no plan yet, but I'm confident something will come to me when the time is right.

Once again celebrating the fact that I stopped counting stash in :), here is my report for this week:

Labyrith quilt top completed - 2 1/4 yards
Backing for labyrinth - 2 1/2 yards

usage this week: 4 3/4 yards
Total stash usage this year: 163 yards out

Drop by Judy's blog for more stash reports today.

Saturday, 3 August 2013

A new finish!

I feel like I've been talking about my Hunter's Star quilt for weeks, but I haven't shown a recent picture of it.  I finished stitching the binding last night and this quilt is now Done!  It doesn't have a home yet, but for now I'm just basking in the joy of a finish :)

The fabric for this quilt was bought in Texas, 18 months ago when I was on a retreat.  Actually, I bought the green, pink, and a different brown at that time.  The brown was used for a different project before this one had a plan, so when I decided to make this pattern I added in a  new brown bought locally.

I bought a Rapid Fire Hunter's Star ruler in February this year - pretty much one year to the day from the fabric purchase.  The quilt top went together quickly, although borders slowed me down a bit.  I did a lot of recalculating to make sure I had enough of the various fabrics to finish the borders.  The top was finished in March, and in April it made my UFO parade.  Since then, it's been hanging out in the "to be quilted" pile, with backing ready to go I might add.  I finally loaded it on the long arm a couple of weeks ago.  The open spaces are quilted with feather wreaths. there are feathers in the outer border, and all the stars and bars are outline quilted.

An August finish!  Maybe I can back on track with the linky parties over at Such a Sew and Sew, and do at least one quilt a month for the rest of the year.  For now, I'm linking this one up for August.

August Finishes

Thursday, 1 August 2013

Ricky Tims!

I just spent an inspiring day with an absolutely amazing man.  And about 200 other quilters.

Most of you probably already know that Ricky Tims is a quilting legend.  Today, I found out that he is also a fabulous teacher, storyteller, and musician (including composer, pianist, conductor, and singer).

Ricky Tims is on a Canadian tour, and he started right here in Ottawa, courtesy of The Running Stitch.  The day was filled with 3 lectures - on applique techniques, quilt design, and finishing.  Thank goodness he gave us notes to take home, because there was so much information there, I'll need to refer back to it many times.  The lectures were interspersed with stories about his background - how he started quilting (on a 1956 machine from Sears-Roebuck that belonged to his Grannie), how he ended up in Colorado (seems it was a better choice than Missouri), and his journey from white trash to 5-star (when carp became "silverfin", and a delicacy according to a Louisiana chef).

This picture isn't great quality, but I wouldn't have dreamt of distracting him with a flash on the camera. 

The evening closed with a 2 hour concert, featuring several of Ricky's compositions. Including one composed "on the fly" based on 4 notes provided by an audience member.  I am amazed.  I am in awe. And I haven't decided if I'm inspired to "go forth and quilt", or dismayed that my work could never equal what I saw today.

I'm sure inspiration will win out. But for tonight, I will settle for a general feeling of awe. And I'll think healing thoughts for Ricky & Justin's dog Raisin, who is not well while Ricky is away on tour.