Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Poets and Writers

When I was about done making the Austen Family Album blocks, my niece Jenn showed up on a visit and asked to see them.  She's a more recent convert to quilting and hadn't tackled any piecing as complicated as in some of those blocks.  While she was admiring them I asked if she'd like the quilt - she said she would.

After they left, I sent a note to her husband - what are Jenn's favorite colors?  He named at least five, maybe six or seven but blue was not on the list.  So to make the quilt more useful to Jenn, I worked to design a setting for the block that used colors that were.

So my Blue and Yellow blocks are now set in a Green and Gray quilt -

 (My quilt stand is broken, so that's as high as I can hang a quilt without an assistant to hold up one side.)

Here's a view of it on the bed in the guest room.  It's a queen sized quilt on a queen size bed.

I took the quilt with me on my recent visit to my father in suburban Chicago.  Jenn stopped by after work and got to see the quilt for the first time.  It wasn't exactly a surprise, but she had no idea what the finished quilt would look like.  She seemed very happy with the "new" colors - noting that my striped binding with black, gold, green and blue stripes picked up the colors of the new curtains in her newly painted bedroom.

Here are a couple of closeup shots - 

This next one shows the quilting in the large setting triangles.  They are large.  I wanted a lot of the green fabrics, so basically I created a design based on really large blocks set on point - that set each block into some fairly large pieces of green or yellow with a light gray or white (it all looks pretty white here, but the blocks with large yellow squares have a light gray fabric for the triangle.  The fanciest quilting is in the large gray setting triangles around the outside.
One more photo to show some of the quilting in the blocks - The quilting is mostly outline stitching with a few embellishments and those big curving lines that create an orange-peel like motif where the on-point blocks come together.  I did not quilt this very densely - it should be a comfortable quilt to sleep under, with a wool batt.

I called it "Poets and Writers":  Jenn may be a newish quilter, but she has long been an author and poet, and is recently reading her poetry in public, and has published a book of her poems. You can find some of her writing and poetry, and a link to her newly published book on her blog at this link:  I liked that this quilt, inspired by the life of beloved author Jane Austen, should now be Jenn's.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Cable-collar Sweater, take 1

I finished this at the end of May - why did it take me so long to post photos?

The yarn and the collar is what makes this little sweater, by Norah Gaughan in Vogue Knitting Spring/Summer 2011. 

The yarn is a dyed cotton twisted with undyed linen.  The collor looks a little heavy in this next photo, but it's not.
This one is Take One because I'm making one just like it, except 3 inches longer, for Joyce.  I finished another sweater in between, but haven't photographed it yet.  I guess I'm just a lazy blogger these days. But I'm knitting as much as ever!

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Hexathon Blocks 12 and 13 -

Unlike some of the group, I'm not using the names of the blocks or the descriptions of William Morris to guide my fabric choices, I'm just trying to get the blocks made with this mix of very colorful fabrics, and to include either the solid yellow or a fabric with yellow.  Here are the two latest blocks.

This first block was pretty intimidating, so I used foundation paper piecing - and did not get the last couple of intersections lined up as I should have.  I might or might not try to fix that.  The fabrics are busy and these pieces are tiny.

The second block for this week was far simpler to construct.  The only challenge was to choose a pair of fabrics I liked together - deciding not to use the solid yellow this time.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Hexathon blocks

Paraphrasing one of those letters I recently transcribed, I'm just not as good at keeping up with the blog "as I used to was"  Here are the last three of these hexagon blocks.  This one used a couple of fabrics Joyce gave me for Christmas over a year ago and a little scrap of a yellow printed batik.

This one used three of the small scraps from friends -

And the last one was more of the fabrics from Joyce

None of these were too awfully hard to piece - the second and third had no "y" seams and the first had only one.  Our leader keeps warning us there are some challenges ahead.

Hmm, I seem to have reoriented some of the blocks when I photographed them. No matter - none are directional.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Westering Women - month six: Hill and Hollow

After working on all those hexathon blocks, this seemed straightforward.

I think this would be a great block to set as an entire scrappy quilt.

We have reached the half-way mark on this project. I continue to work along on the family correspondence, though my ancestors' family didn't go all the way to Oregon - their destinations were in Iowa, Kansas and Missouri.  There's only a little detail about their journeys, by boat to St. Louis with their baggage and then over land by wagon as in Barbara Brackman's description.  But none of them were on the road to cross the Rockies.

This is from Uncle Abel's first letter after his family arrived in Kansas, written on July 18th, 1868:

"After so long a time I will try and scratch a few lines to you. You are aware we started from there on the 9th of June and I will tell you we put in just one good month in getting here we found our folks all well with a small addition of a small boy a bout three months old. Our horses stood the trip in good style no sign of being lame and a better pulling team I do not want. We found on our route through Missourie a very broken country with a plenty of fruit and of all kinds. And there seemed to be no end to the wheat crop on every hill side there was wheat and of the biggest kind corn generally looks bad through Mo. and Kansas so far as I have seen there has been one continual rain here and how long it will continue is hard to tell."
Most of the letters I have were written by the men of the family - some, written by the younger generation will quote their mothers, "Ma says tell you... "  These remarks give the distinct impression that the women simply had too much work to do to write letters.  Correspondence with family back in Indiana was a Sunday afternoon activity taken up by the men.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Hexagons - weeks 7 and 8

I'm getting these blocks done within a few days of the new pattern coming up, just not getting them photographed and posted here -

This was harder than I thought it would be - I only had to do the "y-seam" piecing around the center hexagon - the "leaves" of my flower were attached traditionally.  When it gets quilted into a quilt, it will look just fine.

 This block, on the other hand, has gotten easier by now.  This is my second time piecing these diamond shapes in this configuration.

I still don't know how I will set these - plain black, as shows up in my cropped and rotated photos - will show off the brilliant colors. White would be pretty though less dramatic.  Or maybe I would use a color (probably only one). I haven't spent too much time thinking about it yet.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Hexathon - Weeks 5 and 6

Seems I forgot to post last week's block - so here are two - the first was not too bad.

But this week's was a challenge - I thought I would be very clever and pick a pair of fabrics that would make it hard to tell if I succeeded in getting those points to meet in the center. I just closed my eyes, stitched, and it worked!

Monday, May 30, 2016

Hexathon - Week 4 - Box Hill

The block for this week was pretty complicated, but we were given the option to create one big tumbling block, or a number of them (hard to count but maybe it's 7 plus edges of others).  I figured out that last week's design, without the circle in the center, could be recolored Tumbling Blocks style and I would not have to go crazy trying to machine piece it.

This has three Tumbling Blocks, plus edge pieces and did not require any new templates.

Since the camera is making my yellow appear to be off white, I put all the blocks up on my design wall, which has a whitish background - now you can see I'm using yellow - though it's actually brighter than this, too.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Westering Women - Block 5 The Platte River

This was a straightforward block to piece, but the large center stumped me. Most of the prints I am drawing from are on too small a scale to be suitable for this 6 inch center.  I decided this print will do, though it's a little dark to play the center role for my taste.

Although it appears I cropped off too much of the right edge of my block, I like the effect of my fabric choices better seeing the photo of the block than I thought I would while I assembled the 49 pieces.  Yes, most people would use strip piecing, but I'm using scraps and don't have long strips to cut.  And even if that weren't the case, counterintuitively, I find my piecing is far more accurate when I don't strip piece. It's too easy for me to stretch one fabric while I sew or press, or let the one underneath slide away from the needle a little.  So I cut each piece to size, and stitched them together one by one.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Hexathon - Block 3 - Camelot Star

For a machine piecer, this one would have been a little too fussy, even with the dense weave of the batiks I decided to use, so I machine appliqued the center.

I don't know why the bright yellow background fabric came out so pale in this photo.  The batiks I cut the flower petals from came from my friend Ellen's scraps, by way of my friend Alice when Alice moved and downsized her quilting stash.  The pieces are not big enough to meet in the center, so the purple flower just hangs out there over a small irregular-shaped hole.  Of course, if I'd hand-pieced the block, there would have been no fabric underneath it either.