Tale of a Mom

Once upon a time there was a little girl whose mother passed away when she was just a bit older than 3.  Her mother was kind, and an experienced sewist and embroiderer, novice quilter and sometime knitter.  She taught her little girl all the nursery rhymes as she embroidered them onto quilt squares for her best friends son.  When she was ill, she sent home jelly packets from the hospital for her children’s peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.  And later, when she passed, various people put things away in an effort of safekeeping them for some time later down the road when the little girl would grow older and appreciate them.

I was that little girl.  This past month, I have been focused on helping my mother-in-law with some things going on in her life and right there in the middle of it my grandmother sent me a package.  It was a pretty decent sized box and most of its contents were things from my mother.  There are dolls, and their clothes cut out on the pattern pieces but not yet assembled.  There are vintage quilting magazines with barely the spine broken in.  There are older cork and spring embroidery hoops.  But perhaps the most sentimental of all, there are her knitting needles, her cut out quilt block pieces and her pencil drawn embroidery layouts with notes taken on what colors to use.

Now a couple of these really stand out to me.  The embroidery designs are actually quite similar in theme to a plan that has only gotten to background fabric bought for my own floral embroidery quilt plans.  I am not planning to copy hers and see where it goes from there.

Secondly, my own baby quilt was a cheater fabric quilt of reds and blues and is now at the so fragile of fabric stages you don’t wash it, just hang it outside from time to time or keep it stored away.  There had been a few murmurs at times that my mother was planning a different quilt for me, and I have to wonder… are those 21 purple butterfly wings meant for me?

And that is how moms, and grandmoms too keep looking after their little ones even on into their 40s.

P.S. I did finish the qualifier and round one of Sock Madness also but this post is just for my Mom and you will have to wait for sock pictures!

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And so it grows..

Happy Sock Madness registration day! (aka February 1st)  You can bet your socks I am already signed up and mostly raring to go, with a side order of knowing I need to track down my sock needles and make sure they are free for the next couple months.

January was very green in the knitting.  I received the new yarn for Ben’s Guston sweater and restarted and got several more rounds in on my latest lace project to the point I added another segment to the cable of my needles.  Conan helped on a couple occasions.

But more importantly, I did say I was going to really work on my quilts this year…. and I have made significant progress on the Contours quilt top.  I have about 11 blocks left to go but I am far enough along to start arranging and rearranging to see if one layout suits me better than another.  Tessellations are such a fun part of quilt building in my opinion.

The first one shown here is an inverted version of the primary display on the kit.  The second, which does look a bit bears ears at the corners has the same central layout as the kit though.

Hopefully I can finish up the rest of the squares this month, pick the layout and get that top assembled.  With January being so many parts of bigger projects I’d like to move something close to the done pile.

Lastly… I get to introduce the newest member of our household.  We adopted a lovely orange tabby girl from Homeward Pet animal shelter that we have called Kaylee.  She was under socialized with people and so is rather shy, with the notable exception of Conan, whom she follows around and has started a fan club. She also likes fish tanks, balls and toys on strings.

Where did May go?

Sometimes its like everything and nothing is happening all at once.  But let’s start with the reason the log jam of the guestroom quilt made it out of the machine and onto the bed… My husband told me he didn’t want to ask for an Overwatch quilt since it seemed I wasn’t quilting as much.  Well it was more like I kept finding the repetitive line quilting boring.  So I ordered him a section of fleece and made him up a quilt for his Houston Outlaws team.

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The design is hand appliqued onto the fleece.

In knitting news… Sock Madness has come to a close.  I made it to Round 5!  That means 6 pairs of socks (Qualifier and 5 rounds).

I’ve started work on my first paper pieced project from a kit I bought.  Its a new skill for me and so far I’m up to about 8 of 36 blocks done.

Finally a Finish!

This post brought to you from the former student of the no-mojo dojo!  This particular quilt has been a bit of a paper jam in my quilting projects because its big, bulky, and boring! I had decided on a very simple narrow horizontal lines as the main quilting. So back and forth and as I don’t work with a quilting frame… draping this queen size sandwich of fabric over my shoulders.  It got to a point where my husband even said something about losing interest in quilting… which at that point it was about half done or more but then had been set aside for a marathon of knitting.

But in finishing it, and especially in the binding of it there was such joy and freedom just moving it into done from “need to work on yet.”  So it took a year but I’m so back I even stopped at the fabric store for a jelly roll for another top already!

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This one is for my guestroom which is a very vibrant green and getting wonderful morning sunshine.  Its also home to my crafting bookshelf with baskets of yarn.

I am particularly pleased with the binding which is pieced from the yellows and greens.  And was so happy to get some sunshine to photograph this one in this weekend too!

I am tempted to send out the Christmas quilt top that is done since I do have that together and then maybe it will be done by Christmas! But I also have a couple kits and ideas for a myriad of other quilts… just as soon as I finish the latest Sock Madness round!

Bind Off and Flail!

I am a bit behind this month on my posting.  But it all goes back to the topic at hand.  I have been pretty good most of the time making monthly goals and getting things I want to do done.  But every now and again the instant I finish a project, my brain spits out an error message and I get stuck in this loop of “what should I do next?!”  Do I focus on catching up a quilt project? Or maybe work on freeing up a knit project?  Or perhaps the cross stitch project?  And that’s precisely what happened after I finished my latest Sock Madness socks.  Which I really love how they came out!

Golden Fleece Feet

I ended up #17 out of 30 to advance to the next round, and then they have given us an optional round pattern which I’ve not started, because I’m hopping around doing all the other bits.

I squeaked in two more of my block a day quilt blocks.  Technically I should be done with the inner medallion of squares, but I’m really behind.  I was going to measure up the backs for both the snowflake and the chess quilt, but I discovered that I am short a few supplies for the back of the snowflake.  So I instead snipped out some of the extra backside fabric from my flake so that when its laid on the batting it won’t look so dark.

 

Since my other Knit ALong group was also doing socks and I felt like I was cheating a bit being in sock madness; I cast on a sock using some worsted superwash I need to use up (its leftovers from Debora) and I did manage to finish my monthly Hobbit progress!  (We are now past the Carrock and moving into Murkwood and spiders!)

And in my midst of not wanting to “fall behind” on my projects I realized that April is the start of the second quarter of the year, so this naturally means I need to work on the second quarter of my tulip cross stitch project.

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Between all this I’ve been trying to keep up on my gardening and housekeeping (hey the linen closet got sorted and refolded!) And I’d like to say that all that stuff was the reason I was a bit later updating the blog.  But in reality, my brain was looking at things that weren’t done and things yet to get done and it felt like this ominous cloud of “Not finished!” “Undone!” “Incomplete!” right up to the point I wrote this post and sorted out photos and realized… progress even when its not a finish on all of these things has been moving right along.

Now… what should I work on today?

Gotta have Goals: 2016 Edition

The past couple years I have done fairly well at setting and keeping my crafting goals.  I don’t always hit the overall for the year goal, but I definitely make forward progress.

Its my first Christmas as an officially married woman and my husband gave me this:

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So let’s tackle that first and say… we are getting a machine suitable for quilting larger projects!  A step up the ladder from my Janome DC2011 which I love.

I have another seven quilts, some started, some planned that I would like to tackle this year.  I have one for a gift (Movie theme), and the guest room (greens and yellows).  I have one to use up my white strip scraps from my snowman, and one to use up general scraps with the latest discovered tiling hexagon.  And I have three that have started, including Knight’s Tour, Wedding Wishes and my now nearly infamously languishing in WIP land, Field of Stars.

On the knitting front, I have more socks (Going to go in for Sock Madness again I think) and some more lace, and trying to find the bottom of that second overflow stash box!

I have some great patterns and yarn combos in my queue.

I’d like to get a few more designs out of my head and onto a pattern as well.

And now onto the blog and not so crafty front….

Last year I posted 20 posts, which means a few months I just posted once… so this year I am going to aim for at least twice a month updates.  This may mean a few more works in progress instead of dumps of finished items, but we shall see how it shakes out.

I also want to work on getting my craft space (which also flows a bit into my guest room) a bit more organized and usable. I want to read a few more books, and play a few more games too.

 

Presenting some presents

So a few weeks ago I posted a few teasers about some of my holiday projects.  And now that they are finally in the hands of their new owners… It’s time to give them their due.

First up is a project I mentioned over two years ago when I bought the pattern at the 2014 shop hop. Once the post wedding frenzy had calmed down a bit I realized that holidays were coming a bit sooner than a crafter hopes for, and in sorting out my gifting plans, landed on top with a hope that if I really worked on it, I just might finish in time.

*drumroll*

My redwork winter embroidery quilt!

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My embroidery blocks are stitched onto several white/off white on white/offwhite Prints. Various trees, snowflakes and swirls. The remainders and scraps of which got paired with some red prints in a scrappy sampler style border. You can see pinwheels, churn dash, shoo fly and Dutchman’s puzzle blocks in there.

For the back, I chose to piece in three blocks, including one for my gift tag, that I hope looked a bit like some falling flakes.

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Here’s a few detail shots.  There are also several WIP photos in the WIP gallery. 

The recipient called me up to tell me she cried when she opened it… so time well spent!

Secondly… I finished up my Super Mario QAL quilt without Ben being aware I was working on it since my last post about it.  Got it wrapped and took it with us to open on Christmas Morning.

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I had three more blocks and some custom printed level fabric for the back side.

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He also got a knit lego man and a pair of socks that he picked out the yarn for, and promptly wore on the first day of our return trip home.

Which is probably why I am now double knitting him a lace weight single ply Hobbit scarf.  Which I managed to get through the first chart of 11 (8o our of 810 rows!)

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In time for a summer road trip

So there was a post earlier about large scale appliqué with a bit of a teaser on this one.  But its so exciting when you get to post it as finished instead of just a work in progress.

TA-DA!

TA-DA!

And here’s the back

Ta-Da Part two!

Ta-Da Part two!

I am actually quite happy with how the quilting of this turned out considering I struggle to draw straight lines WITH a ruler sometimes.   I quilted the outside of the logo on the front and then an all over diamond design.  The back logo was hand sewn on so that it wouldn’t be quilted through to the front.  Its a fleece back with cotton top.

Hopefully this one is a bit better on the backside quilting.

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I started this one just prior to a road trip to Idaho with my fiancé, and finished it just prior to our next trip to Oregon.

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.

Perspectives and Finish Lines

Ok so for the first part of this post there’s going to be a bit more non-kniting/quilting stuff, so if you get bored or you just came for the crafts, scroll down to the quilt picture, and I won’t get offended, because frankly I can’t tell if you scrolled past or not anyway!

My non-traditional Ruby Wedding Ring. (Mid finger because its being sized atm)

My non-traditional Ruby Wedding Ring. (Mid finger because its being sized atm)

In the spirit of “out with it!” the news is… I got engaged on Valentine’s Day! (insert squeals and wedding march hums here).  My fiancé and I have been together for quite some time, and have decided to formalize the situation with paperwork and pageantry.  Because we have been together long enough that the only answer to the query of how long we have been together actually is, “long enough” we are planning to get married this year in a smaller ceremony with our parents and closest friends.

This means that I am now on a 6 months to wedding plan and making lists of things to do.  Do not fear dear readers, I still think I will have time for updating my blog in my usual “sometime every month” schedule. But, it does bring me to the perspective portion of the blog.

I have been rather noticeably in a bit of a GO!GO!GO! rush mode as I make my list of all the things needing to get done in time for an August Wedding.  And yesterday, after booking our photographer my fiancé (woo!) sweetly reminded me that in the past 10 days I had managed to settle on the date, book locations, and get the photographer.  I had been spending all my time looking at the to-do portion, I hadn’t appreciated the scope of the done part. So I am passing it on, and telling you… take a moment to change the perspective, and look away from your to-do, and appreciate what you have finished.

And speaking of finished….. (way to segue there!)

The third Star Trek Quilt!

The third Star Trek Quilt!

I have finally finished the Star Trek Disappearing Nine Patch Quilt I first teased about in June of 2014.  The quilting on this one is a clear indication of some attempts at something more than just stitch-in-the ditch.  The central blocks are stitched in an echo around the Star Trek insignia, with the outside blues and reds in decorative horizontal and vertical stripes.

The backing and binding is a space/stars print with glow in the dark stars.  (I did attempt to get a glow photo, but its not super great.)  I used a different technique on the binding, that I’m sure has a real quilting name, but I’m calling it a fold over binding, instead of making the binding a separate piece.  After quilting, the batting is trimmed to the edges of the top, and then the backing is folded over (at least twice to give a nice edge) and then seamed down.

This one is currently homeless.  This quilt has found a home! The idea came from a commission request that fell through.  Now down to 13 planned quilts on the idea board.