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.



Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Hexathon - block 2 "Crystal Palace"

This was a straightforward block to make - I did make sure I cut Vicki's fabulous Shibori dyed fabric, purchased for the Grandmother's Choice I made a couple of years ago, so that a line created by the tie made a nice little hexagon in the center.


I think these stripes make a very nice "crystal" effect, indeed!

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Catching up

It seems I never posted my last four knitting projects here.

Here they are, all at once.  First is a cotton lace sweater by Bonne Marie Burns, finished in January - I wore it a couple of times this spring.  I like it though the closure is not really practical and could have been skipped entirely.


The next one was this vest called "Pommier" by Hilary Smith Callis.  I loved the Malabrigo yarn in the store, and it's appropriately squishy, but it's a superwash and doesn't hold its shape as well as a normal wool would.  I finished it in March and wore it once before the winter was over - two photos to show the contrasting reversible collar.


 That collar is my first project with two-color brioche stitch, which makes a very thick, cozy fabric.

Then I finally finished my Hitofude, by Japanese designer Hiroku Fukatsu. The unusual construction gives it the name, which translates to "single brush stroke." I chose it to show off two skeins of a hand-dyed gradient I bought last fall at SAFF. 

 If you are wondering about my pose, we were letting the wind blow giant bubbles off the deck at Judy's house.


All the color work is done by the yarn which was dyed Olive, purple and teal.  I used the two skeins starting at opposite ends of the gradient - so the sweater started with the olive at the top, then was knit through the teal at the halfway point. I started the next skein with the teal so the sweater shades back to the olive at the lower edge. I started working on it January and didn't finish it till last month. I made it longer than the pattern required and it just seemed to take forever.  The yarn was thin and hard and made my fingers sore, so I always had the vest or this next project to spell me when I felt the irritation.

Last, I made the Ombre Cowl.  Mine is a little floppier than the designer intended because of the silk-wool blend yarn I used, but it's a workable cowl.

I should have styled myself better for the photo than to put it on over my teal sweatshirt.  It's made with two strands of three colors of yarn held together, which makes for a 5 step gradient. One of the colors was a slightly purplish pink - I overdyed it with some silk dyes which turned it peach colored.  The design then grades between the rust and the pink colors.

I have a couple of quilt photos to post too - saved for another day.






Sunday, May 8, 2016

Hexathon - block 1 of a series

I'm not exactly committing to doing all of them.  Most quilters have hand piecing skills and use English Paper Piecing for hexagon quilt designs, but I'm stubbornly attached to using a sewing machine for everything I can. (I tend to move easily into hand and wrist issues with hand sewing, so I save my hands for knitting).

This is a Barbara Brackman block of the week program for 26 weeks.  She's going to be talking about the William Morris designs and influences and the models will be made with William Morris reproduction fabrics.  But plenty of people will be using those. I chose instead to try this as a quilt for a future family baby - Joyce gave me stacks of bright colorful batiks and hand-dyes from Vicki Welsh for Christmas last year - Vicki has a brand new website called Colorways by Vicki Welsh where she sells her hand dyed fabrics, glass pieces, and hand made soap - check it out! http://www.colorwaysbyvicki.com/ 




The block is pretty flat which is an accomplishment - and must be pretty accurate a hexagon, since I started with a photo of the hexagon with two flat sides top and bottom- then I rotated it 60 degrees and cropped, then turned it 60 degrees and cropped again to get it surrounded in black with most of the points showing. I wanted to crop it so the odd pointy corners and fraying yellow fabric are not distracting.

The solid fabric I used for a background is a solid yellow sateen and it does fray. If I make some number of these - probably not all 26, I might or might not use it to tie the blocks together.  The designs will not all have a background area.