Sunday, 30 September 2012

Stash Report - Sept 30

I had a couple of finishes this week which made for lots of stash usage.  First, I'm still caught up in Transparency mania :)  I've finished 4 small tops from various patterns, as I play with transparency in my quilts.  That's 5 1/2 yards used.

This top needed a dark background, so I'll likely make it again later.

I also finished the backing and cut binding for the hexagon quilt.
4 3/4 yards used

Total out this week: 10 1/4 yards

Stash usage this year: 155 1/4 yards out

Hop over to Patchwork Times to see how everyone's stashbusting efforts are going.

Friday, 28 September 2012

On the Needles

And off the needles.  I finished my disappointing socks this week.  The second sock is now much closer to the first in colour, and they actually look like a pair now.  So I consider this somewhat of a success. But I certainly won't be buying any more of that yarn. Here's the original "pair" in the first photo.  The completed socks are in the second photo - much more evenly matched although still not perfect.

And, I had a lot of yarn left over (almost a full sock worth), so I decided I needed a headband to keep my ears warm when I'm walking this winter.  As I knit this, I can see where the skein of yarn switched to a darker mode.  Not sure what went wrong in the dying process, but it is clearly evident.  I'm just glad my third sock finished before that point in the skein.

I have enough yarn to make this a double - layer headband, so hopefully it will keep my ears warn on those chilly mornings.  Once this is done, I plan to start something different.  And hopefully with yarn that I like more than this :)

Drop by Patchwork Times to see what everyone else has on their needles today.

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

New Quilts

I'm still all energized from reading my Transparency Quilts book.  And I put that energy to good use, making 2 small quilties to try out the patterns in the book.

I'm really happy with the way the purple turned out. The effect is exactly what I was hoping for, and the patterns in the fabric accentuate the illusion nicely.   I do need to be more careful about matching rows. I don't often make quilts with sashing, and I found that my rows - even the 3 rows in the dark 9-patches - did not align very nicely.  So that's something I will watch in the future.

Of course I'm  a slow learner, so some of the rows on the green quilt have the same problem. I fixed it for the final long sashing row.  Better late than never :)

I'm not as happy with this colour choice.  I think the medium fabric is a bit too bold in its pattern, and that throws off the illusion somewhat.  Although looking now - it looks better in the photograph than it does in person.

I'm linking up today over at Needle and Thread Network, and with Freshly Pieced for Work in Progress Wednesday.  These quilts may be done, but my transparency journey is definitely still in progress.

Transparency Quilts

What fun!  I have had an urge to do a transparency quilt for some time.  I have a book which has one in it, but I didn't really like the design and haven't ever focused on buying fabrics to work with it.  Since transparency requires great care in selecting appropriate fabrics, I had always planned to buy some specific to the project one day.  But I was surfing the other day and stumbled across a couple of transparencies that I loved, so I was inspired to hunt through my stash. I found more possibilities than I expected.  I knew I had bought a bunch of bright fat quarters a while back, and figured there were some good pairing in there.  So I dug them up, and confirmed that Yes, there were indeed some nice pairs that would work for this.

Then I needed to figure out a design. I would really like to design my own, but inspiration was not hitting me, and when I searched online, I kept coming across the same beautiful quilts.  All from one particular book, it seems.  So, I looked up the book, and lo and behold I could get it for my Kindle for only $10.00.

Now, a Kindle is not the best place to read a quilting book - especially one that is built around colour choice (seeing as the Kindle - at least the generation I have - is black and white).  But Amazon has their cloud reader, so I could read the book on my computer in full colour.  Perfect!  Ok, maybe not - reading on my monitor was a pain in the neck (literally) and I definitely need a larger monitor if I'm going to do that again.  But I managed to get through it.  Skimmed all the great notes on colour choice, and then jumped to the part I wanted - the quilts!

Well, it turns out that transparency quilts generally need 3-4 (or more) colours to create the illusion.  Not two.  So all my carefully picked pairs were a bit of a wash.  However, I went back into the stash, and found groupings of 3 fabrics in a few colour families that I think will work great with a nice cream background.

Now I'm on a mission to make a baby quilt from each of the designs in the book.  First step is to translate each design into EQ, so that I can resize it for the 24" quiltie that I need to make. This will make it much easier to make decisions.  Like, if a quilt block is 10.5" finished, do I make a quiltie from 4 blocks, or resize the block downwards and make more.  EQ designs are great for seeing the effect, and for not having to do all the math when it comes to cutting and setting blocks :)

Monday, 24 September 2012

Design Wall Monday - Sept 24

My design wall is clean, and waiting for a new project.  I finished the September colour challenge top this week.  All the hexies are put together now.  I haven't decided whether to make it a true PacMan quilt or not, yet.  This one has a pieced back, so that may be my next project. It would be really nice to have this finished and quilted by the end of the month, but somehow I doubt that's going to happen.

In addition, I made some blocks for the Dancing with the Stars block of the month.  This was July.  So now I'm just 2 months behind.  Unfortunately, that means 5 blocks, so I need to keep working on these.

Now I have to decide what's next. The backing for the September colour challenge, a new (batik) project, or just buckle down and catch up on Dancing with the Stars.  Or maybe something completely different.  I have an urge to make a transparency quilt, so I need to dig through my stash and see if I have any suitable fabrics for that.

Drop by Judy's blog to see what others have on their design walls today.

Sunday, 23 September 2012

Stash Report Sept 23

I have nothing to report used this week. I've been working on my hexagon quilt.  Still trying to convince myself it's not PacMan, but I think it's a losing battle.  I showed it to some more people yesterday, and every one of them said "PacMan", unprompted.  I've started to assemble rows now, so it is starting to come together slowly.

Oh, I forgot. I  did use 2 yards of fabric, for the little baby quilt that I used to test out my pantograph.  So that's something out. Once again, we aren't talking about what came in. Suffice it to say, I have a batik quilt in the planning stages, and lots of fabric to work with :)

Stash usage this year: 145 yards out
Hop over to Patchwork Times to see how everyone's stashbusting efforts are going.

Friday, 21 September 2012

What's on your Needles

Once again it's Friday, and Judy is asking "What's on your needles today?"  I have one and two-half socks.  Seems an odd number, doesn't it?  I finally decided that my yarn was not going to even out before I finished my second sock.  And I was going to have almost a full sock worth of yarn left over.  So, I abandoned the dark one, and started a new second sock. 

The match is closer, although as I look at my ball of yarn I suspect it will still end darker than I wanted.  I did consider knitting this one top down, to match the first bottom up sock.  But I haven't knit enough socks to know if the end result would really be symmetrical, so I decided to take a chance on bottom up and I hope I finish before I hit the really dark section of yarn.  I am really tired of this yarn now, so I think regardless of the result, we are going to call it a match and be done.

And in quilting news, I cut more triangles and plastered them up on my wall.  One more row to go. I think I've decided to stick with the light triangles.  But I do see some areas I don't like, so I will probably be rearranged the layout a bit before it's done.

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

The debate continues

A reader suggested I make the "nibbles" in my hexagon quilt in the background colour.  So I checked my fabric requirements, and I do have enough to do this.  So I cut some out and plastered them on my design wall.  What do you think?

 Do you like this better than the original?  They are still verging on Pac-Men for me - but perhaps happier ones.

Maybe even a few whole hexies, with just a few nibbled out.  I never was much for following a pattern to the letter anyway :)

By the way, for those interested, this is the book/pattern this came from.

Modern Patchwork: 12 Quilts to Take You Beyond the Basics

Monday, 17 September 2012

Design Wall Monday

Here's what's on my design wall today. During Judy's quiltathon this weekend, I finally started my newest quilt.  After putting some of it up on the wall, I took a picture and wasn't sure I liked what I saw.  I didn't see it in person, but the photo immediately shouted "Pac Man" to me (and others, apparently).  Not exactly what I was intending.

So now I'm having second thoughts about colour choice, and I cut out some darker fabric for the insets.  What do you think?  Dark nibbles or light?

In the meantime, I'm plugging along cutting more coloured triangles.  Drop by Judy's blog to see what other quilters have on their design walls today.

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Quiltathon Day 4

Today was the final day of Judy's quiltathon weekend.  Apparently I can't resist any invitation to quilt - I found time every day to get a bit done.  And I was finally able to start my next quilt.  I've been holding this one in reserve as a reward for finishing other projects - lone star off the long arm; binding on 3 quilts (sewn on, still has to be handstitched on the back); checkerboard, and my Christmas quilt (the last 2 were finished before the quiltathon started).

I designed a new pantograph for a baby quilt I've been asked to quilt. And then I felt it was necessary to try it out, because there is some close stitching on it and my long arm skills are still in their infancy.  I thought I should make sure I can actually handle this panto, before applying it to someone else's quilt.  So, I whipped up a really quick and small baby quilt with some stash, and loaded it on the long arm.

And, one hour later (I told you it was small) it is complete.  I tweaked the panto just a touch to fill an area that seemed too empty, and now I'm ready to tackle the real quilt.  It's loaded up and ready to go - I might get some work done on it later tonight, unless I decide to head out to the weekly dance session.

And my September colour challenge quilt is started. I think this one is going to be fun.  But I wonder now if I should have chosen a darker fabric for the accents.

Stash Report - Sept 16

I put the binding on 3 quilts this week, which used 1.5 yards of fabric.  And, I cut all the pieces for my next quilt - 4 1/4 yards. Plus the backing for my lone star, which was 3 1/2 yards.  So total used this week is 9 1/4 yards of fabric.  A good week!

Of course, those who read my blog yesterday know that I completely blew my stashbusting efforts, by bringing home a pile of pretties.  About 30 yards worth (but it was all on sale, Mom!). Lots of lovely batiks on the sale shelves yesterday - can you believe it?  I'm in heaven, but I have no firm plans for any of this fabric.  So I guess I'd better get going on the current quilt, so I can plan a batik beauty from all this new stash.

Total out this week: 9 1/4 yards out

Stash usage this year: 143 yards out

Hop over to Patchwork Times to see what everyone else has been up to. 

Saturday, 15 September 2012

Quiltathon day 3

Not much sewing got done today.  I went out this morning to catch a sale at a quilt shop across town.  I don't go there very often, but 55% off was too good to resist.  And then of course there was the trip out past the other end of town, to try to get bobbins for my long arm (unsuccessful).  And I can't pass my favourite quilt shop without stopping in to say hi.  That's a lot of shopping, for someone who really isn't a shopper.  The result of that shopping trip was, let's just say, major stash enhancement.

By the time I got home at 2, all I wanted to do was put my feet up, so I did.  I did manage to sew about 60" of binding on my lone star while I watched a movie.  And then I felt guilty so I headed into my sewing room, finally.  I cleaned up from the binding activities of the last couple days, found my cutting table, and pulled out the fabric for my next quilt.  There's always a sense of trepidation as I make that first cut.  Do I have enough fabric? Will I like the end result? Is the pattern correct?

I cut, and cut, and cut some more, and now I have this.  And a pattern that is NOT correct.  Sigh.  A bit of wasted fabric, but hopefully not a critical amount for the whole quilt.  Now I guess it's time to thread up the machine for piecing and get to it.  Tomorrow.  Right now it's time to go and get some groceries (which I avoided after my morning shopping excursion) and make dinner.

Drop by Judy's to see what everyone else had accomplished today.

Friday, 14 September 2012

Day 2

Home alone this evening, made for good quilting time.  I finished the quilt on my long arm, and managed to attach binding to the front of it and 2 other quilts. 

This is my lone star, made for the July colour challenge.  There's a border on the top of the quilt too - it's just hanging on the other side of the banister to keep the quilt in place.

Here's a closeup of the quilting on the star. The purple background is quilted in dark thread, with flowers and leaves.

Now, some dedicated chair time with needle and thread to finish the binding process and get these 3 quilts off the UFO list.  Of course, that will require removing the cats from my chair :)

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Quilt-a-thon day 1

I didn't think I'd get to join in the quiltathon this month, until tomorrow night at the earliest.  But I had a rough week at work, and a couple of hours of quilting was just what I needed before dinner.  Good thing my son doesn't mind eating late.

I came home and got to work on my lone star again.  Almost done - I had only 2 rolls left to go when I started today.  Of course, I didn't take any pictures of the center of this quilt while I was doing it, so you'll have to wait for the big reveal for that :)  I'm on the last border now - it's going better than the first, so even in this short time I think I've improved my skills.

I had to pull out my camera to remember exactly what the last purple border looked like.  I think I still managed to get it a bit wrong (the direction of the leaves), but it should be close enough, given that the 2 borders are separated by about 80" of quilt.

Judy's linking up here quilt-a-thon over here, if you want to drop by and see what everyone else was up to today.

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Pincushion / Thead catcher

I've been wanting to make myself a thread catcher to have near my long arm, and I found this pattern online.  The bonus is the little pockets for all the tools.  Now I can stop losing my scissors, and marker, and seam ripper, and everything else. 

Over the weekend, I pulled out a couple of fat quarters and got to work. Of course, the first thing I did was redesign the pattern :)  I didn't have any felt for the pincushion, so I just made the top a solid piece.  And I  had to shorten some parts (the pattern calls for 23", but I was using fat quarters) so I made the pocket out of 2 colours rather than one piece.  And I wanted more pockets, so I made that section wider (almost too wide, once I realized that it was supposed to fit under the pin cushion). And then by the time I got to doing the bag, I didn't have enough fabric to cut the facing as big as the pattern called for, so it's a narrow 1/4".

Even with all the redesigns, this was pretty simple to put together.  I adjusted as I went and didn't run into any snags. I did discover after it was done that the pincushion is s bit squishy.  It probably should have been stuffed more - I may go back in there and add some stuffing later, but for now this is all setup by my longarm, so I can stop losing stuff and stop collecting thread piles on the table.  The removable bag is a nice feature - should make it easy to empty.

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

A Lucky Day

I dropped by my LQS on Sunday.  They aren't usually open on Sunday, but it was their annual BBQ and sale.  So, I dropped by for lunch (and to support Ovarian Cancer Research), and headed in to see what I might want to pick up on sale.  Since I just finished my checkerboard quilt (see picture), I thought I'd pick up a batting for it (it needs King and all I have are Queen).  And maybe some backing if they had something that would work.  I walked in and was greeted with "I wondered where you were yesterday".  I think it's a sign that you spend too much time in the quilt shop, if the staff misses you when you don't show up on a Saturday :)

I found the perfect backing, picked up a balloon to pop for my discount, and headed to the cash.  35% discount!  Yipee!  But oh, #*$, I forgot about the batting.  And of course, adding to my purchase and expecting the same 35% discount was not going to fly with the store owner.  So I headed home with my backing, and figured I'd go back another day for the batting.

Of course, I knew that I would forever wonder what I might have gotten as a discount if I'd gone back. So,  when I got home I decided that my son needed to get out driving (he has his learners permit, but we've only been out twice since he got it in July).  He's not really keen on the whole concept, but I am determined that he will learn to drive before he leaves home. Then, if he never drives again, that's his choice.  But I think everyone should know how.  We headed out, and I told him if things were going OK, he was going to drive me back to the quilt store.  And he did.  Just a couple of "Please stop!" moments, but overall not too bad for the his first time on the roads in traffic.

When we arrived, the store was completely empty (quite a switch from the morning, when it was packed).  I told my son to pick me a good balloon, and I headed in the "Batt Cave" to get what I needed.  I decided to get 2, since I'm trying desperately to catch up on quilts.  Headed to the cash, and low and behold, my son is a GREAT picker.  40% discount, whoo hoo!!  I should have bought a lottery ticket :)

Now I have backing, and batting, and a finished quilt.  But first, I have to quilt my lone start.  And then a baby quilt for a friend.  Then we'll see if I'm brave enough to load a 95" square quilt.

Monday, 10 September 2012

Design Wall Monday - Sept 10

Busy, busy, busy.  I accomplished a couple of things yesterday.  And even some non-quilting activities :)  My design wall has the final stages of my twister on it.  I decided to add a gold bow, mostly to disguise one block that has a bit too much green in it, in the "red" section.  This bow will be attached (I can't even say appliqued) as a 3-D ornament after it is quilted.

I also have a pieced backing to go with it.  I guess "go with" is a bit of a stretch.  I wanted to do something interesting and use up some pretty ugly Christmas fabric I had in my stash.  Ugly fabric does not lead to a nice result, but if you ignore the fabric choices, I'm pretty pleased with the design of the present and bow.  Next time I'll plan ahead a bit more - the horizontal ribbon should have gone up higher on the parcel.  And I'll actually make a paper pieced pattern for the bow.  This one was done ad-hoc, with lots of cutting and wasted fabric.

I finished the top border today on my lone star quilt.  It is another adventure - using a ruler with my long arm for the first time.  The picture isn't great - lighting is really bad in the basement.  But if you look closely you can see the straight line quilting in the diamonds, and the flower & leaf pattern in the dark purple border.  Next up - the star and those great big empty squares.  Hopefully I can fill them with reasonable quilting.

Drop by Judy's blog to see what everyone else has on their design walls today.

Sunday, 9 September 2012

Stash Report - Sept 9

Lots and lots of sewing went on this week.  I finished 2 tops and loaded one on the long arm.

I decided earlier this week to make a quick twister top, to get a break from my checkerboard quilt.  Of course, picking a new quilt which was made up of a bunch of 5" squares did not exactly make a big change from sewing a bunch of 6" squares together :)

Apparently I should have take a photo earlier, because I see now areas where I would have liked to swap some blocks around.  Oh well.  I managed to use up a pile of 5" charm squares I've had sitting around for 2 years.

In any event, I did it.  I pulled out my new (well, bought in February but never used) Twister ruler and made myself a Christmas quilt.  One more white border to put on and it is done.

Used this week:

2 yards - baby quilt
11 yards - checkerboard
1 3/4 yards - christmas wreath
Total: 14 3/4 yards out

Stash usage this year: 134 3/4 yards out

Hop over to Patchwork Times to see what everyone else has been up to. 

Friday, 7 September 2012

Disappointment Brewing

On my needles today, and for the past week is a pair of socks. When I saw this yarn, I thought I would love it - it looked like it would knit up mostly cream, with dots of red/blue in it.  Not even close.  First, the two socks don't look like the even belong to the same pair.  Apparently the yarn is much darker at one end of the skein than it is at the other.  My only hope that this will be a useable pair of socks is that I am working towards the middle - so at some point they have to end up with a reasonably balanced amount of colour between the 2 socks.  I'm hoping that with shoes on, they'll look like they go together.

The other disappointment is the pattern. I decided to do cables, because I've never done that before.  I don't know if I'm doing something wrong, or knitting too tightly, or if it's just supposed to be this way.  But passing the cables is *really* hard.  Especially the center cable, which is 4 stitches on the cable needle.  I can barely make the sock stretch to pick up the stitches when I switch.  And of course I should have realized - the guage on the cables is smaller than stocking stitch.  So I'm not even sure I'll be able to wear these when they are done.

Oh well, chalk it up to a learning experience.  I'm not one to give up, and I have no other use for this yarn anyway, so these socks will get completed.

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

New project

Well, that didn't last too long.  Just the other day I said that I wanted to finish my brown & cream checkerboard before I started a new quilt.  Then, mid-afternoon as I put together more of the 225 blocks for this quilt, I got bored.  And I started a new quilt.

I bought a L'il Twister ruler several months ago, and still haven't used it.  So this quilt will be a twister.  And if I'm really lucky, it will be a green wreath in a red background when I'm done.

I am using it as a leader/ender for the brown quilt, so it's not *really* a new project, right?  And it's not the one I really want to start - I'm still restraining myself on that, because if I pull it out I suspect the brown quilt will find itself piled in a corner being ignored.  Want I really wanted was quick quilt I could put together and load on the longarm, for when I need a break from assembling blocks. But that's not working out, because this new one will be barely 2 feet across - not big enough to bother long arming.

However, a bit later I found my next long arm project.  This backing fabric was originally bought for another quilt, but I decided I didn't like it.  It has all the right colours for this lone star quilt, and is big enough, so it will become the backing for this one. And because it's 108" fabric, I don't have to sew anything and I can just load it up.

Now, to get over my nervousness about loading my first quilt with a significant amount of empty space that I need to fill up with nice quilting.  Ideas?  Freehand feathers are probably out, although if I mark them I might be able to pull it off.

I'm linking up at Freshly Pieced and The Needle and Thread Network today.  Drop by to see what everyone's up to.

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Hand Stitching

Bonnie has challenged us to get caught up on our handwork projects, by spending 1 hour a day with just a needle and thread - no sewing machine, just handwork.  I don't do a lot of handwork stitchery (hmm, knitting uses needles and "thread" - I wonder if that counts?  :) ), but as I contemplated my binding pile tonight I decided that maybe I should join in the party.

At a quick count, I have 3 quilts in my bin ready to hand stitch the binding.  2 upstairs waiting for binding to be attached, which I can then stitch down.  And if I keep at my long arm work, I have 5 more quilts ready to quilt, which will then need binding.  In just the 5 I have at the binding stage now, I figure I have at least 12 hours of handwork waiting for me.  Sounds about right for jumping on board Bonnie's handwork train.

Here is my sewing corner.  I do my handwork in the living room, so that I can watch TV while I do it.  In my sewing room I only have a DVD player so I can watch/listen to movies while I sew, but for handwork I prefer to be in front of live TV. If you look closely you can see my shelf of thread.  I have a bad habit of bringing a spool downstairs to do a binding and then never carrying it back upstairs.  So my collection grows :)

I'm not setting deadlines, I will just work on my binding as I generally try to do - a little bit every time I sit down in front of the TV.  About an hour a night is reasonable, but it will likely be 3 or 4 nights a week in reality, given other commitments and work (which I have to go back to today, after a 10 day vacation).

To start my first "simply needle and thread" episode, I sat down last night and stitched for about 45 minutes (watching part of the Big Bang Theory marathon).  For me, 1 length of thread takes about 1/2 hour to stitch - so 1.5 thread pieces done, which amounts to about 1/4 of the binding on the current baby quilt.  Like I said - 12 hours of work in front of me, on 5 small-ish quilts.  Is that fast or slow?  I don't know, and it's not a race so I just plug along at my own speed and hope to finish eventually :)

See who else is spending time with their needle and thread this month, over on Bonnie's blog.

Monday, 3 September 2012

Design Wall Monday - Sept 3

Wow, Sept 3.  Time flies.  My oldest is off at university now, and my youngest starts grade 11 tomorrow.  Things have been busy this week getting everyone ready for September, but I've managed some sewing in the midst of it all.

On my design wall this morning is a mistake :(  I was working this quilt over the week.  I had to do a redesign mid-way because it wasn't working out. Then I finally got to assembling it and as I was ironing the second section I noticed the glaring error.  So, 2 rows to unsew, so that I can turn that row around.  Note to self - be more careful with the rest of these.

Now to go get back to work.  There is lots more to do on this quilt - 225 6" squares to assemble into a quilt.  And I am already eagerly anticipating the next quilt, so I need to keep moving.  Must finish this before I start another.

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

Sunday, 2 September 2012

Stash Report - Sept 2

My current quilt is using a lot of fabric - but again I'm going to wait until it's done and count the whole thing at once, because I've lost track of strips cut.  So once again, nothing out this week.  But that's OK, because I know there's a pile to report soon.

Stash usage this year: 120 yards out

I looked at the colour palette from Judy and Vicki yesterday, and immediately decided to go find some fabric for it.  Silly idea - no quilt plan so I had no idea how much of anything I would buy, but I loved the colours so I headed out.  My LQS did not disappoint. I found a perfect set of fabrics for this month.  I guess I went a little more blue than teal on the bottom one, but it was the right match for the set  and it is more teal in person.

In addition, my lack of a plan has been fixed.  While I was there, I picked up a new book that I just couldn't resist.  This month's quilt will be done from a pattern (did I just say that?).

Hop over to Patchwork Times to see what everyone else has been up to. 

Saturday, 1 September 2012

September colour challenge

It's September 1st, and that means it's time for another colour challenge.  This month is really interesting, and I can't wait to see what I can come up with for this.

Last month, the palette was a little more muted.  And here is the quilt that I created from this palette.  All done and ready for quilting - as soon as I figure out how I'm going to quilt it.  It needs something custom I think, so I'll have to ponder this for a while.

Check out more August finishes over at Judy's blog.