Monday, November 27, 2006

Thanksgiving Weekend

We had a small but wonderful Thanksgiving this year. My daughter was not able to come for dinner (she went to Michigan to her boyfriend's family dinner), but my son flew home. We hadn't seen him since July, so having him here for a few days was great. This year I only had to cook for the three of us, but my sister-in-law came in after dinner and we managed to have a pretty lively time of it.

The rest of the time I spent working on various projects, trying to get something DONE. My problem is that I have too many different projects all going on at the same time and I am beginning to feel that I am just spinning my wheels.

I did finish this little origami bag. A member of our guild gave us a demo on how to make them during our November meeting. Although it looks like some of the other origami bags I have seen in other people's blogs, it is not made the same way. All in all, I wouldn't recommend this method because it is a little complicated to sew, and from what I can tell, it comes out practically the same as the others. Still, I am proud of it and am currently using it for a mini-sewing bag since it is just big enough for a spool of thread, a tiny pincushion, a small pair of scissors, and a six-inch ruler.

I also worked on the log cabin blocks. They are not coming out the same size as the blocks I made at the retreat. GRRRR....I am still not mastering machine piecing and I am feeling pretty frustrated! Hand sewing, while more time consuming, gives me more control over what I sew. Oh well, I'll either have two really tiny log cabin quilts, or I'll figure out a way to combine the two sets as part of one quilt. Somehow.

When I went up to the fabric store after work to buy the cording for my little blue bag, I found this lucious material on the 50% off rack. The picture does not really do it justice. The colors are much richer, and the fabric is a nice weight. Now, what in the world will I do with this?

Monday, November 20, 2006

Vintage (?) Knitting Pattern

Years ago when I was a little girl (make that many years ago), my mother had a knitting pattern for mittens. It was really just a generic pattern that worked with worsted weight yarn on four needles. It was included in a booklet with lots of other glove and mitten patterns. She made many mittens for us over the years. I can remember being called in to try on the half-knitted mittens so she get the the thumb or the hand or the cuff the right length. I had to thread my hand through the triangle formed by the needles to try it on without pulling any of the stitches off the needles.

We always had to have more than one pair of mittens each year because they got soggy when we played in the snow. Then you had to go in and get a dry pair or your hands would get too cold to play outside any more. She would dry them by hanging them on the back of the stove. You could tell how long we had played outside by how many pairs of mittens were hanging there.

Cut to twenty-five years ago. I was picking through a bin of old knitting patterns in a discount store and I found the same pattern! Naturally I bought it. I used it to knit mittens for my children--and I did the same thing as my mom. I would call the kids to try on the half-knitted mittens to get the thumb, or the cuff, or the hand just the right length. We don't get as much snow around here as we did in Cleveland when I was little, but my kids always had warm, dry mittens to wear outside.

Somehow, I lost this pattern. After searching through all my assorted craft patterns, I had given up on ever finding it again. I had started searching the internet for a good, generic mitten pattern when I thought to check out Ebay. Lo and behold, there was my good old knitting pattern! I got my husband (who actually uses Ebay and has an account) to order the pattern for me.

The thing I love about this pattern is that since it is so simple, you can add any kind of fancy thing you want: stripes, patterns, little pattern stitches, etc. I just find it amazing that this pattern is still around. I'm not so sure that I appreciate it being called "vintage." But, I am looking forward to getting it in the mail and trying some more mittens. You never know--it might snow.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Yo Yo Mama

It has been a weekend of odds and ends sandwiched in between real life things.

I did string the leftover yo yo's into a garland. Yo yo's must be the quilting equivalent of potato chips--can't stop at just one! They are so insanely, mindlessly easy to make. Just take a few stitches, draw up, tie off, and you're done. Now I am thinking about going back and buying some more of the red and white material to make more. I keep thinking how dramatic the red and white will look next to the dark green of the Christmas tree.

I also finished the turkey mat. This is a paper piecing project I began one dark, rainy October afternoon. I finished the turkey and started quilting it the same night. You can't see it that well in this little photo, but the binding material looks like wood grain which I think sets off the mat just right. This is only my second paper piecing project.

I found the
pattern on-line. This might be the first time I have ever finished a holiday project before the actual holiday it was meant for. Except for the yo yo's above!

I'm not sure how much I like paper piecing. All I can say for it is that it goes quickly and you can see the results right away. It did push me to actually use my sewing machine, which I am afraid gets a little lonely shut up in its black box most of the time.

The third thing I worked on are these granny flowers. I had many, many hexagons cut out and ready for sewing at our retreat weekend, but I spent nearly all of my time making the log cabin squares, so these have just been sitting in the bin waiting for me. I bought the material as part of a kit at a quilt show several years ago. Unfortunately (or not, depending on how you look at it) I don't have the instructions any more. It was supposed to be some sort of baby quilt--there was about a yard and a half of muslin and six fat quarters of depression prints.

My plan now is to make the flowers just as you see them, and float them on a sea of muslin with some fancy hand quilting on the white blocks. The hexagons finish off at 1-1/2 inches. I guess I'll just keep at it until I run out of muslin. This particular muslin is a creamy off-white which I am sure I will never be able to find again. I'll worry about the border, etc. when I get to it.

This is pretty much how I make most of my quilts. I just find material or a quilt block that I like and then keep sewing until I run out of material or energy. As I said, most things I make are pretty small to keep them manageable. I do have some bed-sized quilts, but just tops. Hand-quilting a bed-sized quilt by oneself takes soooooo long!

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Soggy Wednesday

A dreary, wet November day. But, an easy day for me. The third grade went on a field trip and then this afternoon we had a "Stranger Danger" assembly for the whole school. I spent most of the afternoon getting caught up on grading papers and writing lesson plans for next week and the week after. Unbelievably, I am caught up!

I spent the evening finishing up the Christmas ornaments I am making for the guild meeting tomorrow night. I'll try to post some pictures if I can get my camera and computer to communicate. (Long pause while camera and computer negotiate truce.) There it is. I found these in Best-Selling Bazaar Patchwork by House which I won as a door prize at a guild meeting last year. When I saw the red and white material in the store I thought it would be perfect for these. I made extra yo-yo's and now I'm going to string them together into a garland.

The yo-yo'swent pretty fast, especially after I finally got it through my head that taking BIGGER stitches around the circle makes the center smaller. Taking smaller stitches draws too much fabric into the middle, making the middle circle too big.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

This is the project that I have been working on. It started out as a possible mystery quilt pattern for my quilt guild, but then I changed my mind (about the mystery quilt part) and now I have 96 of these nifty little units. They are called Brave New World. You can make many, many blocks by rearranging groups of 16. Or even more by making groups of 25. Or 36, and so on, and so on...
I used the digital camera to take some pictures of some possible arrangements. At the beginning I was thinking of an all-over design, but now I am more inclined toward a sampler quilt with six blocks in different arrangements.

I had a lot of fun making these little units. It was stress-free because I made a concious choice not to try to"match" any of the colors. I didn't buy any new material for them; these were all from my stash.
I seem to have a large stash of "earthy" tones, left overs from various other projects. I usually gravitate towards these colors in any quilt shop I visit. : )

For now, I'm just playing with the different arrangements and seeing how I like each one. This is almost as much fun as actually doing the sewing!

I also have a set of log cabin blocks I made at our last quilt retreat using most of the same fabric. Hmmmm....maybe I can combine them somehow.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Hello, Out There!

I've been reading some of the quilting and crafting blogs for the past few months and I've decided to jump in. My quilts are usually pretty modest because I mainly hand-sew, so anything I do takes months, not hours or days. Having that long a lead time gives me a different perspective on things, kind of like hiking through a forest rather than driving through it.

But, I have so many ideas for new quilts, it's about time I pulled myself into the 20th century (never mind the 21st) and got going. At the rate I've been going, I'll be in my nineties before I get to the bottom of my stash. So, I'm beginning to teach myself how to piece on my trusty 1953 Featherweight and I'm trying to push myself to work a little faster.

As soon as I learn how to post photos I'll put up some of my work.