Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Mini Quilting Retreat

It's another gray November day here, not really the best for taking pictures, but I wanted to post these because I'll be busy for the next few days and I probably won't have a chance to blog again for a while.

My little sewing group had a retreat over the weekend and I got a LOT accomplished. This stack and whack had been languishing in a project box for too long. The hold-up was that my cutting mat is too small to cut out the 22 inch squares I needed to make the setting triangles. Not that I couldn't have found someone who would have let me use their large cutting mat, but I never thought about it when I had the opportunity. I cut the squares at another retreat (two retreats in one month, yippee!) but didn't get a chance to put the whole thing together.

Now it's done. The irony is that I took this stack and whack class from a friend and got every block done that day. Every. single. block. A speed sewing record for me.

Sewing the borders on was a real bear. Sewing width-of-fabric borders to length-of-fabric borders is tough! One gives and stretches while the other won't budge. I persevered, though. That's one of the advantages of sewing at a retreat--no distractions and no excuses to quit when things get hard.

I really love kaleidoscope blocks and will probably be making lots more of these.

One of the activities that we had planned for the mini retreat was making little bags, and I even brought fabric which I intended to use. Those plans changed for me when I started putting together this little quilt. Now, I don't buy a lot of patterns, but this one just caught my eye last summer. I blogged about it here. It's called "Winter Retreat" by Pam Buda at Heartspun Quilts. I fell in love with these little blocks. The whole thing will finish out at about 35 x 35. (I am planning slightly larger borders than those called for in the pattern.)

When I started this on Sunday morning, I got on a roll and couldn't stop. It almost seemed as though it was sewing itself together. It needs two more borders which I have already cut out, and I plan to use it as a table topper this Christmas season. Well, some Christmas season, ahem.

The mini retreat was wonderful. There is nothing like a whole weekend with my sewing peeps. The retreat takes place at a quilting shop, so there are no worries about running out of supplies or sewing ideas. One of my friends lives nearby and loves to cook, so we were treated to Saturday night dinner of Julia Childs' beef bourguignon and Queen of Sheba chocolate cake. We've already planned another retreat for some time in February. I can hardly wait!

I have tomorrow off and I will need to spend it house cleaning, because my family will be coming here for Thanksgiving. It's been months since we were all together, so this is a weekend I am really looking forward to. I hope all my U.S. friends have a wonderful, safe Thanksgiving. For everyone else--have a great weekend!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Monday Update and Some Actual Quilting News

If you haven't seen this, you should check it out at TECHknitting blog. Techknitter, in this post, puts into words better than I ever could why I feel such satisfaction in hand crafting. Even if you aren't a knitter, I think the two theories she discusses apply to any hand craft.

Below, you see the latest sock I've been working on. This is a simple (free!) pattern called Primavera. It's just 5 rib rows, then one easy pattern row. But look at the effect! Techknitter calls it "work to glory ratio." I've always thought of it in my head as "bang for a buck," much less elegant a term, but it's still the same idea. The simple pattern turns an ordinary sock into something a lot more special.

I knit with KnitPicks Essential yarn, fingering weight, Wine Kettle Hand-Dyed. I love the feel of this yarn as I knit with it, and how the pattern is so well-defined. It's for a gift, so I hope it holds up well.

I also love Techknitter's discussion of product and process in crafting. I think it applies equally well to quilting or any other craft that requires long hours of work. When I look at one of my finished quilts, I see the quilt itself, but I also "see" how and when and where I made it. I remember the choices I made as I was constructing it. I remember matching the bits of fabric, pinning them together, and the lovely feeling of things going together the way I wanted them to.

And, ta-da! Some actual sewing has taken place here. A couple of years ago I won a jelly roll at a quilting retreat and I had been looking for the perfect project for it. Well, by way of Gudrun and Bonnie at Quiltville, I found a great pattern called Sister's Choice. All of the blocks can be made with 2 1/2 inch strips, and I had more than enough to make 20 blocks (although I did have to supplement some of the background cream). Now I just need to get some border fabric and some more cream for setting triangles and I'll be able to put it together.

You can check out what others around blogland are working on this week by checking in at Judy's Patchwork Times blog.

Thursday, November 12, 2009


October was not a great month here at our house. It was an extremely stressful time for my family and me, and I'm very happy that we are done with October and we are now well into November. Happily, things are on a more even keel around here, and we are all looking forward to Thanksgiving and the rest of the holiday season.

Early in October I posted about one of my quilts for the Blogger's Fall Quilt Festival and I was notified that I had won a prize. It was a great surprise and I was looking forward to a package arriving in the mail.

Then, well, the other stuff happened, and when the package arrived, I put it to the side thinking that I would deal with it later. Somehow the package got moved into my sewing room and there it languished until this afternoon when I suddenly realized what it was.

My goodness! It's an entire block of the month set for a quilt called "A Little Bit More...About the Bears," by Canadian designer Dorothy Baker. It is darling!

Thank you so much, Dorothy, for this wonderful gift! I am very sorry it has taken me so long to acknowledge your generosity.

And thank you to Amy at Park City Girl for hosting the Quilt Festival and giving all of us a chance to share our work with each other.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Back for November

I did, in fact, go to the Fiber Arts Festival in Corydon. Was it that long ago? It WAS that long ago.

The festival is held at the Harrison County Fairgrounds, just on the edge of the town of Corydon. Although the weather prediction had been for rain and cool temperatures, it turned out sunny, cold, and windy that day.

There were a few animal exhibits, although not as many as in the past. I think the goats and sheep (which I didn't get a picture of) were very happy to be covered in warm wool coats.

There were quite a few people there, although these pictures make it look practically deserted. Mainly people hung out in the barns with the vendors because of the strong, cold wind blowing most of the day.

One yarn store had set up outside, and the vendor and her helpers were wearing most of the shop samples in a vain effort to stay warm. Each time a blast of cold wind blew through, they worked in concert to hold down their tarp and the tables where they were displaying their wares.

This year it seemed as though the weavers and spinners had the most booths. Each time I visit the festival I think about maybe taking a spinning class, but that's going to have to wait until I have a bit more free time. KnittingDragonflies was able to take lots more pictures of the wool available from the local farms, so check out her blog for more pictures.

I ended up with a Crazy Zauberball. I fell in love with the long, long color runs on the display samples. And, as I am a total sucker for kits, I bought a little one to make a couple of washcloths for Christmas presents. It's a wonderfully soft cotton and the knitting instructions sound interesting. I also found some handmade soap to go with them.