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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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.

How did I do? (Year in Review)

In 2014, I knit at least 9320 yards, that’s over 5 miles of yarn!

The last thing coming off my needles was a Checked Rose Stitch Cowl experiment, finished Dec 30th.

 

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This is a two color stitch worked with the same two yarns, just switching which yarn is the dominant yarn part way through.

Looking at the rest of my Ideas list from January and adding up all the things I’ve done this past year;

  •  I did not knit up my alpaca yarn.  I did manage some design work, but thus far I’ve not been happy enough with the results.
  • I DID make my first gloves, followed by my first fingerless, and first TWO sets of mittens.
  • I DID tackle my second socks, and the third pair, and even a fourth!
  • While I didn’t work on the Stellar’s Jay shawl, I did start and finish 6 shawls this year.
  • Four of the Six Quilts I was planning did get some work done, but I actually did not finish a single quilt.  The only Quilting thing I finished were some pillow cases.  I am still working on Mario!
  • I totally tackled brioche stitch too!
  • I published 2 new patterns and even dyed some yarn using local berries.

So here’s a visual overview.  Included you will find one rather fuzzy bear that was the secret gift I mentioned earlier.

 

I tackled a milestone on the blog front too.  There was exactly one day when this site was not visited by anyone, not even a robot.  So I want to thank all of you (even the robots) for making me feel so awesome every morning.

So now I be you are wondering what is next. I am going to save all that for a later post in the next few days, as this post is now very long and full of photos already.

Pillow Fight! (And Mario QAL updates too!)

So, Jean, who invited me on the Quilt Shop Hop Bus introduced herself as a “Beginner Quilter” in that she begins all her quilts.  This was a minor consolation when I was organizing my fabric space and discovered my Sewing Works in Progress was overflowing a 14 gallon tote.

Now, to be perfectly fair, the first photo makes the tote look rather unorganized, but in reality under the bag of eventual Christmas Cathedral Window Quilt and the loose future Mario QAL blocks its all sorted out by project.  But in my organizing I did find a few items that have languished in unfinished land for far too long.  Primarily there was a set of three needlepoint pillows where all the needlepoint work was done, but the actual making into pillows part was never done.  (One of which I posted about in July 2011, the other two were from even prior to that!)

So in an effort to finish some of the things… I forged ahead and finally finished making them into pillows.

The sunflower pillow I had actually bought material specifically for finishing.  (Though I bought way more, because at the time it made perfect sense that I would make several sort of matching pillows and want to finish them the same.)  The other two, I completed with stash fabric I’d originally bought for other uses.

So between the pillows and the two Mario QAL Blocks I made, it looks like I can at least close the lid of the WIP bin. (Until I need to get into it for the next project anyway!)

As I mentioned at the End of May in my last Super Mario Quilt-A-Long update, I am looking to do more than just 12 blocks in my quilt.  Mario’s princess will be in this castle quilt.  So I’m doubling up the next couple months to be sure I get all my blocks done for year end finishing.  This time I tackled two from the sky.

This cloud so happy, you'd think Bob Ross painted it.

This cloud is so happy, you’d think Bob Ross painted it.

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Ben said I should say this was an “8-bit” quality photo. (Instead of  admitting I took it with my cellphone in the later evening.)

Future blocks include, Peach, Green Mushroom, Coin, Fire Flower, and a few more!  I am aiming now for a 16 (4×4) block quilt.

Catching up on my Quilting Along

This one is just a short update to catch you up on my catching up to the Quilt-A-Long I’m doing.

I managed to get the ? Block Block done.

Is it a coin?  Is is a mushroom?   Let's bash our head into it and find out!

Is it a coin? Is is a mushroom?
Let’s bash our head into it and find out!

And then to change it up… I did a Goomba!

Goombas are Dance Dance Revolution Champions!

Goombas are Dance Dance Revolution Champions!

This block reminded me about the younger days of the internet, when there were a large number of people making small animated gifs to append to their signature lines called blinkies.  (There were also “dolls”)

I totally made some back in the day too!

Bad to Worse and Back Again!

I know I mentioned in my last post a teaser about a knit project, but for reasons that will be explained later (real later not end of post later) I needed a break, and so I am going to skip back a bit to follow up on an item from The Good, The Bad and The Brioche.

You may recall my commentary on how I bought the wrong interfacing and was attempting to forge ahead anyway with my Mario Mushroom quilt along block.  Well I did get my first seam in… the one where I was joining together the two bits with interfacing to make one giant square.  And then THIS happened:

Do you think it gives more or less life if its been sliced, diced or julienned?

Do you think it gives more life or less life once its been cubed, sliced, diced or julienned?

So clearly my prior plans were not going to work and so I paused my quilting game and ordered one of the recommended interfaces instead.  I ordered online as its never enjoyable to drive 30 minutes just to see if they have what you need.  First there was an issue with the order amount, then there was snow in Georgia that delayed the order but eventually I did get at least a good portion of my interfacing.

So I carefully laid out all my small squares (they are 1 1/2 inches) onto the new interfacing.  Bonus being that this new kind was wide enough for a whole block of them!  And then you iron them down.. and begin the seams.  I started with the horizontal.

Twilight Zone now controls the horizontal.

We will control the horizontal.

Now I did find a couple places near the edge where I didn’t do as good of job with my ironing where the squares came loose, but that’s my own user error and I can fix that going forward.

Next you start seaming the Verticals.

...and the verticals.

We will control the vertical.

And eventually you end up with one 18 inch square Mario Mushroom pixel block.

Its a me, Mario!

Until next time on… the Quilter Limits!

One thing I really like about this method is that all the seams line up just so nicely!  I only wish I didn’t feel like I was 2 months behind on the Quilt-A-Long Project.

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.

Holiday Double Header!

As a crafter, its always great when you get feedback on your work.  And even more so when it comes in the form of a comment/sale/inquiry from a stranger.  So this past month has been pretty amazing to me as a crafter.

  • I made a sale on a custom stocking
  • I received and completed a custom Knit Scarves Order
  • And I got asked to be featured in a StarCraft Crafting video Blog

And so without further ado…. let’s roll the tape!

So thanks to Gillyweed, Emily and Mike… for making my December one to remember!

You can see more of Gillyweed’s vlogs here

WoW! A June Double Feature

So technically its the 1st of July, but since one of these was completed completely in June and the other just needed a hanging loop, I am still counting them both as June. During June I was out of town for two weeks… and so had to rely on what yarn I could fit in my carry on and loaner scissors for part of these projects.. so I figure a few hours into July isn’t technically cheating.

Choose your faction!

These both feature one sided designs, with crochet cuffs. The Alliance Lion has a scalloped edge cuff, and the “after thought” heel.

By the Might of the Lion!

The horde stocking has a traditional turned heel and a straight cuff. I contemplated going white instead of black, but Ben gave me a bit of the side-eye so stuck with traditional black.

For the Horde!