Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Thanks to Anna Banana...

Here's my Westering Women Bear's Paw block, revisited -

Anna-Banana gently pointed out I had rotated one of the four-patches.  Now they all are oriented as intended.

She also asked about my comment that I might be quilting the small Hexathon quilt for weeks to come - well, mostly it's just because there's no close deadline, so I have other priorities!  (Holidays are a part of the slowness.)

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Westering Women - Bear's Paw

I was late making November's block - it came out just before a trip to Chicago to see my family.  I've made plenty of Bear's Paw blocks before - but they didn't have the four four-patch blocks for the feet (the white triangles make the claws.) To change this one up, I made it the negative of the blocks I'd done before (light paws on dark background instead of the other way around.)

Only one more block for this project.  I have the Hexagon quilt loaded on the quilting machine, but haven't put the first stitch in yet. If I do only a little every day, it could take weeks even though it's a small quilt.

Friday, November 25, 2016

A quick hat and a pillow

The first hat I made for Norris was as big as the amount of yarn I had (there was maybe a 5 inch tail when I  finished to tie it off) and it was really a bit small, so I knew I needed to make him a better one.  This one uses leftover yarn from the plaid throw I made last year.

Norris says he likes it even though it's a little colorful for his taste.  He does not smile for my camera, but he did agree to model at least:

The pattern was free on Ravely, called the "Strib Hat."  It was a very simple design with a changing rib and stripes for interest.  But I had the first stripe done and Norris said he really prefers his hat to turn back so there are two layers covering his years.  After the first stripe, I essentially knit everything else inside out.

The Strib pattern was designed as a fitted cap, but Norris also likes room at the top of his head for an air pocket as he thinks that provides better insulation.

I knitted that while this next project was being blocked on my quilt design wall.  You get two photos because there are two sides.

I did not intend to make the two sides different, but accidentally switched the yarns I was using as the second contrast color only a few rows into the first side.  The one above is made the way I intended them to show up.  I can't decide which I like better.

This pattern, Ponni Cushion, is by Hazel Tindall - one of the few women who has held the "World's Fastest Knitter" title.  She does not knit "continental" style - touted to be the faster method by many. Seeing her knit on video, it doesn't look very relaxing but listening to her talk while she works, I'm sure she enjoys her knitting.  I had no idea she also designed patterns.  I think they all use Shetland wool.  The yarns I used were a combination of wool and silk, with some colors made of wool and cashmere.  That sounds like it would be soft and comfortable, but the Shetland wool is hard and durable and seems to win in the combination.  I don't think I would use these yarns in something you wear next to the skin.

Back to my pillow, here it is in context on our foyer bench.

That project almost finishes my first level of decorating projects.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Westering Women and the Hexathon is over

My Westering Women block for October - I wanted to emphasize the star points, and have them light colored.  Then I thought I needed a bright fabric for contrast, so the little lattice print came in to the mix, and  seemed to want to be in small pieces. 

The last hexathon block was a complicated one and I only need 25 blocks for my setting.  These are my final three.  You get a sneak peak at my setting fabric with a couple of these - I used these as "leaders and enders" for the Westering Women block, forgetting that I hadn't photographed all the blocks yet.  (The setting fabric on the lower left corner of this one is not yet sewn on, but the block looked sad with a missing corner.)  The hand-dyed fabric is from Vicki Welsh.

I used foundation paper piecing for this block - this set of gradient hand-dyes is also from Vicki.

And my final block - I should try to fix a couple of those Y-seams.  I was running low at this point in the Hexathon!  But I love the combination of Vicki's shibori dyed points and the commercial batik.

With a jump start on the setting of these, I should have this colorful little quilt put together soon.  The Westering Women quilt has two more blocks to go and I don't have a setting plan for them.  My Civil War quilt blocks have been finished for over a year and I do have a setting design and all the fabric purchased.  I just haven't had the motivation to see that quilt finished?

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Westering Women and Hexathon blocks for September

I just don't upload to the computer as often as I used to - here are my quilting efforts for the block programs for September

The Westering Women block was called "Sage Bud for Fort Laramie."  I thought I was done using that pale blue fabric that makes up the buds, but this one called for it.

 The brown stripe was a shirting fabric I purchased probably in the late 1970's.  I cut a shirt for myself out of it and never made it.  After my mother died, I found the pieces, still pinned to the pattern and took it home and decided to use it for quilting.  This was the first time using it in large pieces - the wrinkles did not iron out of it.  I may simply have to quilt it heavily to disguise it.

And here are four hexathon blocks that I don't have much to say about.  This first one was nice and easy and I think Vicki Welsh's hand dyed stripe makes it exciting: 

I can't really say the "nice and easy" part about these next two, though the second one also benefits from two of Vicki's hand dyes.

This last one though is a variation on one of the earlier blocks and also has Vicki's fabric for two of the three fabrics (the paler blue green was a commerical hand dye).  That particular week's block included a curved applique element, as though laid over the six points of the star shape featured in many of these hexagon blocks and I didn't think it would be all that effective in my brights.  So an easier choice helped me stay current with the program:

HIP HIP HOORAY I recently figured out how to set these colorful blocks!  My original thinking would have had an alternate hexagon or other shape out of a dark dark blue, perhaps flecked with yellow or white or with little stars on it.  But a couple of weeks ago, I helped in a volunteer effort to stuff the goodie bags for the attendees of Quilters Take Manhattan, a fundraising program for the Quilt Alliance that took place late in September.  For my few hours of work, I was rewarded with some of the fabric donations, and after washing them all, the fat quarter piece went up on my design wall to ponder for a different purpose.  Pretty quickly I could see it worked well with these blocks and promptly ordered some more. It's a choice not within my usual style at all, but then, these blocks are also in that category.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Love the cables!

I like cables in quilting, but they are difficult to do well by machine.  On the other hand, cables look wonderful in knitting and are not hard at all.

This sweater was finished at least 6 weeks ago - just didn't photograph and then when I did, I didn't post the pictures. 

This sweater was made from the top down, without any seams - first time I've done one of those.  It has a small applied I-cord to finish the neck, sleeve, and lower hem - first time I've used that technique on anything but my plaid afghan.   There were three varieties of cables, and the way they moved around on the front kept the knitting very interesting.  The pattern, Siesta, by Carol Feller, was free!

The yarn came from Diane's inventory after she closed her big business in Oregon.  I spent a little and got a lot of yarn for my money.  I have projects lined up now that will take me through the next couple of years.

Here's a fun photo only one of my friends seemed to notice on Facebook, combining a quilt and a knit: 

It was the last night of the Shindig when they finally gave the quilt to a ticket buyer from Maryland. Alice is the one behind the quilt and Ann is standing next to her.  Ann's husband Russ took the photo.  We have to plan next year's quilt now - no hand piecing this time!

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Some catching up with block programs

I got more behind on the Hexathon blocks preparing for my trip to Chicago than I realized.  I finally finished four of these before the pattern for the fifth one came out last week.  Here they are, in whatever order Blogger decided they should be in, which has nothing to do with anything I can figure out.

This one I pieced traditionally.  It's was not easy, though it doesn't have that many pieces.  Lots of scrappy pinks and magentas from that batik scraps collection I was given.

This one I just finished today. It too was traditionally pieced.  It was much easier than the one above.  Those fabrics were hand-dyed by Vicki Welsh.

This next has foundation-paper-pieced triangles so it went together pretty easily in spite of the oddly shaped pieces. The turquoise blue is also from Vicki - the darker is a commercially dyed fabric.

I also foundation paper pieced this block - it was quick and could have used up more batik scraps, but I decided I wanted these turquoises and I didn't have enough of that in the scraps.  The semi-solid is also from Vicki.

I never want to attempt this at 8 inches again. The gray fabrics around the star were batik scraps, the other colored fabrics are from a selection of batik fat quarters Joyce gave me. I decided to try my hand at a color concept I read about years ago.  I think I got what I was going for, though you can't see it in this photo - the yellow is really much brighter than it appears.  And though this is far from perfect, some of what appear to be wrinkles are actually just the prints.

Ready to see what next week brings, I went back through all the old posts on Barbara Brackman's blog and wrote down the options for simpler blocks she gave us with some of those - I'm going to try to be more sensible than to do this sort of block again!

And finally, there was a nice 12 inch block for the Westering Women project.  This is called Chimney Rock.  I decided to use the medium gray fabric to look rocky - it will give me a place to quilt but looks a little sad in the corners with the snazzy stripes.  Lots of Y seams in this block, but at this scale, the piecer has a little wiggle room.

Friday, August 26, 2016

A long time finishing

My friend Sherrye told me that several years ago, her husband's step-mother had left an unfinished quilt that Sherrye wanted to see finished so it might do someone some good.  Sherrye is a hand quilter, but this type of quilt doesn't really benefit from hand quilting, and if it's going to be a donation, machine quilting will withstand any kind of abuse a non-quilter might put it through in the washing machine.  The quilt was a "Stack n Whack", completely pieced and pinned to a batting and backing, but not quilted.  I had her come over this week to use my longarm machine to get the quilting done.

Sherrye went from being intimidated by the sheer size of the machine to having these butterflies completely quilted in about three hours - I say "about" because we stopped for lunch and didn't time our break.  We did unpin the layers before starting, and Sherrye got a few minutes to practice on some muslin while I got the backing ready to load on the machine.

The quilting was as simple as it gets, with a large overall meander pattern, but that made it easy to avoid the thick intersections where the fabric pieces come together in the hexagon shapes. 

 Sherrye thinks she'd like the quilt to go to the local Hospice group.

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:  https://jenmaypoems.com/  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.