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! 

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.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Westering Women - Block 4 Lone Elm

I've never really liked tree blocks made of triangles, but I didn't mind making just one - my tree trunk is not as thick as the pattern suggested - I wanted to have that dark blue outline and the leaves and berries just the way they appear.

I guess I flipped the upper right quadrant around in the making but I rather like having the white flowers scattered more within the tree than the way I had planned them to go. 

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Westering Women - Block 3 Sweet Gum Leaf

This block has a combination of a lot of Y seams, a lot of seams meeting in the middle, and a bit of applique - I was surprised not to hear more grumblings from the participants -

I started to cut out the background fabric before realizing I was making a 12 inch block and with only a "snippet" - a quarter of a fat quarter - it was not big enough to make the lower part of the block.  I decided to use muslin rather than starting over when I figured out all of the backgrounds I wanted to use for this were snippet-sized.  I think it will be fine in a quilt.

Friday, March 4, 2016

Westering Women - Block 2 Indian Territory

The challenge with this block was to find a fabric to make good use of the large (6 inch) center square.  I had this print and thought it appropriate -

As my friends are aware, I've been transcribing letters written by my third great uncles and their families, written in the mid to late 1800's.  With this Indian Territory block, I could have chosen a letter from Uncle Lyman. a doctor who practiced medicine on the western border of Missouri (west of Neosho), and treated residents in the Indian Territory west of that.  But since I have a log cabin for my block center, this letter from Uncle Abel dated January 2nd is my text, with Abel working on one to pay his bills. I particularly enjoyed the description of the furnishings in his own house, so I included that here.  Abel had just moved to Kansas the summer before.

The letter is postmarked (hand-written) Elizabethtown, Kansas - which I have learned is a town that no longer exists. (Fernando is Abel's son, Sarah is Abel's wife, and Dor is Calvin's mother, Abel's sister.)
Dear Friends, Again I will try and scratch a few lines in answer to your kind letter which found us as usual (with the ague). Fernando had a chill yesterday for to begin the new year with. I think this not a very healthy place (for us at) any rate there has not been one week at a time but some of us have been sick. We have had a cold winter so far we had some six or eight inches of snow but the weather turned warm and most of the snow went off then new years eve it turned cold again. Fair again today the wind in the north and thaws but a little I want to commence a small job in the morning if not too cold finishing off a log house. I want to pay off my doctor bill at that and then if I can get work I shall try to get money enough to take me out of Kansas at least of this part of it. Land is higher here than with you partly owing to the Railroad excitement. The Galveston Rail Road will pass with in a mile of us and that makes a great difference in the price of land in this country. They are at work sixteen miles north of us and laying the track at the rate of one mile per day at this rate we will soon have a road. This county has voted three hundred and seventy five thousand dollars in bonds to the Rail Roads for which they get nothing but the fun of paying the interest for thirty years and besides this the company have every alternate section of land twenty miles wide across the state which will keep settlers out until the land shall have been appraised and brought into market again but at what price nobody can tell, but most all think that it will be from $3 to $7 per acre (I think I shant bite).... Sarah says tell Dor we have the nicest little stove for which we paid $27,60 cts our furniture consist of 1 table 4 home made plank bottom chairs no bedsteads but I have timber out the door to make two.

At that point, Fernando takes up the pen to write a couple of pages to his cousin Calvin, then Abel finishes with more discussion of local politics and prices - all very interesting but this is enough for today's post!   But if you are interested, here is a link that tries to explain Elizabethtown's demise - the railroad did not go there after all.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Westering Women - Block 1 Independence Square

Barbara Brackman has started a monthly block of the month on the post-Civil War westward migration. You'd think I could quote family letters on this topic, but not very many are from women, and I haven't transcribed many of the ones that are relevant yet.  That on-going project might take me another couple of years and there's no hurrying the process.  (I've done everything through 1869 but the letters go through the 1880's.)  For now for this series, I'll just make the blocks, but I do love the topic!

I like this first month's block, called Independence Square, made entirely of rectangles and squares.  Barbara featured facts and photos of the huge wagon trains that lumbered out of Independence, Missouri to make the overland trek on the Oregon Trail.  You can read about it at this link:

I changed the value placement a little from the model blocks.

I decided to limit my color palette compared to my previous Civil War blocks, but I had a lot of fabrics left over I thought I should use. A quick stop at Pieceful Gathering on my recent trip to Chicago helped me choose which colors those would be when I found a fat quarter bundle of blues and browns.  The shop specializes in reproduction fabrics. Only one of the fabrics in this block (the dark brown ombre stripe) came from the group, so it's obvious I had plenty of material to pick from.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Breaking things up....

House-bound in the snow (which has not been as big a deal for us as predicted) I just noticed I haven't posted any quilting projects in some time.  I made one for a gallery show curated by my friend Dorry that is going on right now.  The small quilts were to hang as a group, representing the artists whose work was hanging in the show.  Here is my entry, called Green Weaves

Dorry asked each of us to make a relatively long, skinny quilt mostly in pale neutrals, with green as an accent used in small doses.  My quilt was 9.5x45 before I quilted and faced it.  I used the gradient dyed green from Vicki Welsh on my paper-pieced project. My friend Ellen let me use strips of her gray fabrics so I had a wide variety of color and texture in the limited palette.

The quilting is done in threads that also shade light to dark, top to bottom, and are curved in a design loosely based on the topographic lines of the mountain above our house.

 You can see photos of how Dorry put the entries together in the gallery exhibit in her post - Threads at the Exhibit
Click on the link for the next older post at the bottom of that one to see more of the quilt show, Threaded with Green at ArtSpace Herndon.  A couple of my Seasons challenge quilts made over the last year show up so you can see what other quilters did with the same vintage quilt blocks I had. (click on the "challenge" label associated with this post and you'll see all four of those I did.)

Friday, December 11, 2015

Another First - a lace shawl!

I have seen and admired lovely lace shawls made by other knitters and said "nope, can't do it."  Maybe I could make lace table wear, but if I wore a fluttering shawl, I would certainly catch the yarn on something and there would be pulls or tears the very first day, and that would be sad.

But then I had some lace weight yarn that didn't work out for what I bought it for, and one of my Vogue Knitting Magazines had a lovely shawl pictured on the model like a kerchief, so I was game to try it.

I thought it would take me months to knit - skinny yarn, skinny needles, complicated charts... I was wrong.  Three weeks and a day.  When it was off the needles and I laid it out on the towel for a photo it was (drum roll please) actually, awful - bunched up, the lace patterns don't show up, and it was really too small to wear.

But I know about this with lace - it has to be blocked.  Here ts is after a nice soak pinned onto the same towel (camera flash changed the color).

After it dried, for better contrast I took it to the sewing room dropped it on a yard of black doupioni silk.  Black Cat Moki came to check it out

 and without my having to beg, she immediately agreed to be the model.

Here's how I'll wear it - shown over a yoga t-shirt which is not very elegant.  All that fastidious lace work is fairly well obscured by the gathers around the neck ....

.... but my fellow knitters will know!