Sharing and Joining in

Some people that know me would tell you that I am kind of selective about what social media sites I frequent and join.  That has its good and its bad points. On the one hand you avoid the spam style commentary, but then you can sometimes miss other things you might be interested in.

img_20150516_230236Last year was my first year joining Ravelry’s Sock Madness group.  I really enjoyed myself, even if I still have not actually finished my last competition round socks. (I got to the first heel and then made a flub and so I was fixing it and just got burned out…sorry!) So its once again February and I’m signed up to give it another go!  I have quite a bit of sock yarn set aside in prep and its an amazing way to grow my sock drawer.  If you want to KAL with us, the sign ups are open and the competition (which is very friendly) starts in March.

Secondly, someone on a quilting board pointed me to a 365 Day Challenge, based out of Australia in which you make a sampler square every day and at the end of the year you have a 90 inch square quilt.  That’s roughly queen size.  Well I’ve signed up and bought a bunch of fabric and now I just need to get going.  I’m about a month behind, but since I am not going for any of the weekly prizes (See also: Above note about social networks) its just for me.  If you want to join in late, the designer is planning to host 3 months of blocks at a time, so you can still find all the blocks that have been released thus far and do so!

And if you don’t want to join in, that’s fine.. how about I just share some of the things I’ve been working on? I have, naturally, been testing out and enjoying my new sewing machine. And after the latest trip to the quilt shop I managed to pick up some fabrics for other projects.

First up, I decided the plethora of strip remnants from my snowman quilt would make a nice base for a scrappy Dresden style snowflake.

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My original thought was that this flake would be on a green background, but this batik made me feel like frosted windows.  So my flake is all pinned out and needs some hand stitching to tack it down.  I am still debating borders to make it bigger or just leave it as it is (roughly 42 inches square)

Secondly I have been on the prowl for a good match or replacement for the border corner chess boards on my Knights Tour quilt and I finally managed to find just the thing.  So I finally managed to get the borders done and now its down to backing and quilting!

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I also put in some work on my wedding signature quilt and practiced Free Motion Quilting on some small Quilt as you go type blocks.  I guess if you like puns you could say I was sew busy.

 

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Getting on Top of the Quilt Tops

Someone asked awhile back about how to do a large central image on a quilt, and at the time I wrote a rambling reply about how I would make such a quilt.  Well since that time, just that sort of quilt has come along “needing” to be made, so I thought I would document and give a bit of a photo tutorial on hand appliquéing a large central image.  (Later I have some machine appliqué planned for the back side, so you can see that method and compare)  This might not be the best way and certainly not the only way to do it, its just how I did it this time.

My quilt top in this tutorial/photos is for our new car blanket.  (You know.. for taking car trips to quilt and yarn stores in other states. ^_~) For materials you will need your fabric, matching thread, a needle and some iron fusible interfacing (I did one sided this time, I’ll do a double sided example when I do the back, but I had some spare one sided from my Mario Quilt [keep scrolling for an update on that]).  

The first thing you will want to do is get an outline of your image.  Many office supply stores or printing locations can offer you a large scale print, or you can use an internet source that will scale the image across multiple letter size pages you print at home, such as Blockposters.com which is what I did in this situation.  If your image is not symmetrical you will want to either print it flipped horizontally or trace from the back side of the page.  After you have your image you want to trace it onto your interfacing on the non-fusible side.

My block print was four letter pages wide.

My block print was four letter pages wide.

Once you have your image fully traced onto the interfacing, you will want to cut it out.  In my sample its two pieces.

You can check your design by simply flipping the fusible side up.  It should look like it is facing the correct way.

You can check your design by simply flipping the fusible side up. It should look like it is facing the correct way.

Next you are going to take your fusible pieces and iron them onto your design color fabric.  If you have multiple pieces, you can lay them out however best fits your fabric, so long as you maintain at least a 1/4 inch or more buffer around your pieces.

Here's mine ready to be ironed down.

Here’s mine ready to be ironed down.

You will then cut your fabric at least 1/4 inch around each of your pieces.  You will be folding over that edge onto the non-fusible side of your interfacing and ironing down.  You may find that for curves and points you may need to cut into that selvedge a bit in order to get the fabric to follow the lines of your template.  What you have done at this point is make your giant image a slightly stiffer patch.  The interfacing helping to give you smoother lines.

Ironing in my edges on the big piece.

Ironing in my edges on the big piece.

You will then flip your patch over, place and pin to your background.

All pined down

All pined down

You are then ready to begin stitching your piece onto the background.  Now growing up I used to have this step great grandmother that was teaching me about piecing and I am quite certain that no matter how tiny my stitches looked to me, they were just not small enough.  She was either right, or just cranky, but at any rate… here’s some tips on how to make tiny stitches.

The travel of the thread should mostly be behind the  background fabric.  When you place your needle going down into the background, you want to bring the point back up right along the edge of your top piece, use that as your guide.  When going into and out of the top patch piece you want the needle to move along the folded edge of your piece and not bring it up through the top of the piece.

Now before I wrap this tutorial bit up and get onto the list of other things I managed to work on since last month…. I want to take a moment to talk about how you assemble your background fabric.  For this quilt I am aiming for a mostly twin size quilt. I am planning to back this quilt with fleece that is a bit over 60 inches wide and a nice slightly larger than 80 inches long.  Most quilt fabric is roughly 42-44 inches wide.  I could have chosen to use 2 pieces, in which case my image would be right over the central seam, but since I didn’t want a seam there, I chose to split my fabric into 3 pieces, like the illustration below.

Writing out notes and diagrams can be very useful.

Writing out notes and diagrams can be very useful.

Which brings us to the Tesla Quilt Top!  In need of some ironing and then its time to sandwich and quilt!

Ta-DA!

Ta-DA!  BTW, if you do a central piece like this, you can wait to seam together the background fabric until after you are done appliquéing the front design, which saves a bit on how much fabric you have to manipulate around.

Ok so now that the How To portion is done… I did say Tops (plural!) in the title. So guess who finally finished all her Mario QAL blocks?  That’s right.. THIS GAL!  I even sashed the top blocks together.

So here’s the progress on that quilt top.

This also needs ironed... but I am also planning to do a bit of a border and I needed to lay it out to calculate the math.

This also needs ironed… but I am planning to do a bit of a border and I needed to lay it out to calculate the math.

I have also knit up three socks.  (Yes I know they usually come in pairs!) I am participating in Sock Madness this year… so you will eventually see all those socks in a later post.  Other bits to look forward to would be finishing up these two quilt tops into actual full quilts, and I am yarn swapping and fabric swapping this year.

Winding my way into 2015

So what kinds of things have I got planned for 2015?  Well aside from the painting inside the house projects… I do have some ideas for things more in line with my knit and quilt blog.

First up… a confession.  I have a lot of yarn.  I knit over 5 miles last year… it was a drop in the proverbial bucket.

Stash Part 1

Stash Part 1

This is my primary stash.  This is my nicer yarn, stuff I really enjoy working with. The left side has a bin full of sock and lace weights, (which overflows into the bags you see on the floor in front when I’m honest and not just cramming them in on top -.-)  and a bin full of plant based yarns (cottons and bamboo blends).  The right two bins are both worsted weight.

The secondary stash

The secondary stash

But wait!  There’s more!  There is also a box of wool, and another box plus tote of acrylics hanging out in the closet.  And that giant skein of cashmere lace in a project bag.

So clearly my first order of business is to do a bit of a stash down.  Working on nothing but “Cold Sheep” for the next 3 months, with options to renew.   Cold Sheep is where you do not buy new yarn for a set period…. like cold turkey only for knitters.

I’ve actually done a decent job of cataloguing my stash over on Ravelry (in case you want to see the particulars of what’s in the bins) and started to queue projects specifically to my stash.  I have not yet found the perfect cardigan for one of the two sweater quantities of yarn, but do expect to see something cardigan with cables in the future.  I am going to allow myself to buy notions such as beads and buttons, and patterns.   I will get a new skein every month from my Tipsy Sheep yarn club, but technically that was paid for in 2014 so its not really cheating…. right?

I am going to knit up my salal dyed yarn this year, and I’m revisiting a designer who had the misfortune of being my first charted pattern, so I mucked it up pretty well, lets see if I’m ready to tackle a new chart and even more beads this time.  I am also planning a shawl for the gorgeous lace that my secret santa included as part of my gift. (You can see my thanks hereand there is still an outstanding Jay bird shawl… all three lace with beads.

In addition to the sweater and lace with beads, I also have some socks planned.  Starting with some yarn from the last round of yarn club, and proceeding through a pair of hanks in some colorwork socks!

Which brings us to the quilting homefront.  I absolutely, positively, beyond a shadow of any doubt, want to do the shop hop by bus again this year.  That’s in June.  I had so much fun in 2014, I am looking forward to it again. So I am definitely going to need to focus on my progress quilt bin so that I have room.  Mario, Chess, and Star Trek are pretty decently along and just need a bit more finishing.  Movies and Stars are progressing, but still in the early stages.  Tesla and Embroidered Snowmen are not yet begun, although some of the materials have been purchased.  That’s a total of seven quilts I am aiming for this year.

Whew! That thinking about all the things I want to work on this year has me already a bit overwhelmed.  Good thing they aren’t all due in February!  There is just one last thing; I am planning to get some projects ready with no intended recipient.  I am considering adding a page of finished objects that will be open for offers.  I’m still hashing out the details but I will be sure to post when/if it comes to pass.

Mario vs. Piranha Plant in the QAL

May has been one of those months where you feel like you are getting everything and nothing done all at the same time.   I have completed a lovely shawl I am saving for a later update, worked a bit on another shawl that is a gift (no update yet), started yet another pair of socks, and even did a wee bit of gardening, such as adding my flagstones to my side yard path.

My porch is just to the left.  I've spent a wee bit of time out there enjoying the flowers while knitting a bit this month too.

My porch is just to the left. I’ve spent a wee bit of time out there enjoying the flowers while knitting a bit this month too.

And so yesterday I finally got around to working on my Quilt-Along Mario Block… so I doubled down and did two.  (Also because when reviewing my plans at the end of last month I realized I might actually want to do more than 12 blocks. I finally got around to Mario.

Itsa me! Mario!

Itsa me! Mario!

My Mario was actually done in two pieces because the 820 Quilter’s Grid is wide enough that you can get one and a half blocks per section.  Since I only bought 10 yards at the start, I decided it was time to see how difficult it will be to work out the extra squares or if I would need to buy more interfacing.  And it looks like it came out ok.

I also tackled a Piranha Plant!

Nom Nom Nom

Nom Nom Nom

This is a version from the QAL group and replaces the bare warp pipe in the original Quilt design set. btw, both of the blues in the above squares are the same, its just a matter of lighting and cell phone photos.

Life is all a Work in Progress…. Here’s some of mine.

I don’t know about anyone else, but for me, sometimes I get lots of things all going at the same time and when I take just a second to breathe its all a bit overwhelming.  When I’m focused in on a single project then its easy to just keep right on going, like some puzzle where you just put in one more piece… “just one more block” so you can finally realize the big picture.

So on the one hand, when you have multiple projects going, doing a Quilt-A-Long(QAL) is a bit helpful, since you can focus on just one block and then you know that the object is to just do one a month so you’d best stop. Leaving the next block for next month is what you are supposed to do, and not just sitting there taunting you.

So first up… my QAL block for April is Luigi.

Issa' Luigi!

Issa’ Luigi!

I personally like Luigi better than Mario.  I don’t know why… maybe its second child/second player related… but if you make me choose, I want Luigi.  So my quilt means… Luigi gets completed first.  I did assemble him facing left, whereas the original pattern has him facing right.  But I like the variety of not having all my characters facing one direction.

I have also managed to push out more star blocks, and am now up to 33 stars.

This does mean I’ve managed to complete one of every different fabric type.  I’ve started to make them a bit more assembly line style, which does help with feeling productive and actually getting them done.  I tend to make from four to six all at the same time.  Hopefully I can keep on track and get all my stars complete this year.

Lastly…. I made a small test block for someone online, and they gifted me with a charm pack of beautiful autumn colored batiks.  (A Charm pack is 40 5 inch by 5 inch squares)  When I saw it my first thought was autumn leaves, so I set out to find a quilt block.  I finally settled on a Tree of Life Block with each of my batiks as leaves on my trees.  So I fiddled about with my paper and pen until I arrived at what I think is a solution.  Then the next time I was out, I bought some background and Tree trunks to go with my leaves and now I have it all ready and waiting for the first cut.

Spring Sunshine on an Autumn Quilt.

Spring Sunshine on an Autumn Quilt.

Not shown here today is my movie strip quilt that is hibernating awaiting more photos, my Christmas Cathedral Window I want to use up Christmas Fabric Scraps on, the Kandinsky Art Quilt I’m still working on plotting circles for, or the Star Trek Disappearing (Space) Nine Patch that I need to buy the solids to go with my prints.

Ah well… they will all get finished eventually, right?

The Good, The Bad and the Brioche!

The Good

Thus far this month, I’ve tackled a few smaller quilting projects.  One of which started out as a simple conversion of a bedskirt into a set of valances for Dale (of the Sunflower Dresden quilt fame).  But then I had fabric left, and if you do any kind of scrappy quilting that you can’t let so much as a perfectly good 2 inches of fabric go to waste, let alone any amount larger than that!

So I made a normal pillow case, trimmed in “valance plaid” and then I had more fabric so I made a few quilt block decorative pillows too.

Three pillowcase fronts.

Three pillowcase fronts.

The blue and yellow floral is new, but the dark blue and yellow are scraps from her sunflower quilt, the light blue from my first quilt.  Both smaller pillows are backed in her “valance plaid” to help tie the whole ensemble together. The inside pillow forms were made from some of the plain white that was a part of the bedskirt.  So all told I bought a yard of fabric, and ended up with 3 pillows, 3 valances and I still have a smidgen left.

Smaller pillow features my first ever button holes on my sewing machine too!

Smaller pillow features my first ever button holes on my sewing machine too!

The Bad

First off, I decided to join in a Quilt Along (QAL) with an online group.  (Details here) Now the joining wasn’t the bad part; its probably more of the good part since I don’t belong to a quilting guild or tend to get very social with my knitting and quilting.  But… the shop was out of the recommended interfacing, and the line was forming behind me at the cutting counter so in the words of the third knight in the Temple at the Canyon of the Crescent Moon, I chose poorly.  I chose a non-fusible/non-sticky kind, and its too narrow to do a whole block at a time.  I am attempting to forge ahead with some spray adhesive to see if I can make it work.  Thus far I’ve laid out the first block:

Here's a photo while I was waiting for the adhesive to dry.  You can see where I will need to seam the two sections together.

Here’s a photo while I was waiting for the adhesive to dry. You can see where I will need to seam the two sections together.

Like most of my quilt projects, I tend to take several cell phone photos of it as a work in progress and post them in an album.  Which you can check out here.  Wish me luck!  I might just need it.

In other mixed good/bad news, I did forge ahead with three more stars on my giant star quilt.  I am not super thrilled with how some of the points came out, and was feeling kinda crummy about it.  I do think the later pillow project actually helped, as it has similar cuts and came together very well.

A Green and two blues

A Green and two blues

The Brioche!

A while back I fell in love with a certain pattern for a shawl on Ravelry that uses Brioche stitch.  So this year I told myself I was going to learn.  And with the help of some left over Seahawk Action Green, I started with a nice beginner brioche scarf.

Brioche doesn't look like it has a wrong side.  Just a side of a different color.

Brioche doesn’t look like it has a wrong side. Just a side of a different color.

And so just before the Seahawks finished up with the 49ers, I finished up with my Brioche Scarf!

The tails are done in single color.

The tails are done in single color.

Now I just need to find the yarn I want for the shawl project and I’m all set.  I’m looking for a spring green  for one color and autumn spice for the other.