Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Eat, Quilt, Laugh

I had a wonderful time at our weekend mini-retreat. This is the one that takes place at a LQS which provides sewing space, dormitory-style bedrooms (with quilts on each bed as well as quilts on the walls), a kitchenette, and a running tab on sewing supplies.  We are known as the group "who cooks".  Other groups who book the weekends either go out to eat or get take-out food, but we divide up the meals and bring our own.  We think it's nicer that way, and the food is always delicious.  One of our group lives only about 10 minutes away from the shop and she has generously made us a fabulous dinner each time we've gone on retreat.  The rest of us pitch in for breakfast, lunch, and multitudes of snacks and drinks.

With lots of good food and laughter the weekend flies by.  Even so, I am always surprised at how much I can accomplish.

I had planned to make the 1800's doll quilt featured on the Moda Bakeshop website and had cut out all the fabric before the retreat.  This one is made from a charm pack and a half yard of solid fabric.  Somehow, even when I was cutting everything into 1 1/4" strips, it didn't occur to me how small all those nine patches were going to be.  These are tiny! 

They don't look so small in the picture above, but look at the picture below:  The 6 3/4 inch center block alone has 81 pieces!  This is one I would like to make again. It would be fun to use 2 1/2 inch strips to make a larger baby size quilt.


I was amazed at how well everything went together.  I think my machine piecing skills must have improved, because I know I couldn't have made anything like this even a year ago. 

I had a lot of fun putting this together and I love the result, but the some of the directions were a little sketchy.  Of course, it's only a matter of putting together a bunch of nine patch blocks, but I would have appreciated a little more idea of how many strips of each fabric I was going to be using.  As it is, I only used about half of the charm pack, but I think I may continue making nine patches with my already cut strips and put them in a different setting.  The doll quilt saga continues...

Two of us had ordered the new Gwen Marston book Liberated Quiltmaking II and another of us already had Collaborative Quilting, by Gwen Marston and Freddy Moran. After reading through both books we decided that we all liked the liberated style so much that we are to work on making and sharing tree blocks for our own liberated quilts.  It's going to be a lot of fun to work on this project together. Stay tuned for pictures.


Has anybody else noticed how weird bloglines has been behaving lately?  I won't get updated posts from some sites for days, then all of a sudden five or six posts from the previous week will appear all of a sudden.  Others seem to appear just the same as always.  I wonder what is going on.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

What I'm Working on Wednesday::Snow Days

I finished the flimsy for the little doll quilt yesterday.  I decided to go with the brown for the setting triangles after all and I love the way it turned out.  If you haven't been following this, I found the pattern in an old Fons and Porter magazine from summer, 2008.  It was designed by Kathleen Tracy, at A Sentimental Quilter.  She is the one who wrote Prairie Children and Their Quilts.  I love the look of these little six inch blocks--and it's nice to be able to finish something in just a couple of days.

We are on our second snow day of this week.  The big (at least for this area) 8 inches of snow that hit us Monday has hung around because of the cold temperatures, like a house guest who just won't leave.  The school district that I work for includes both city and rural areas, and while our city streets are for the most part clear, the rural roads are still icy and treacherous. The thing is, we've used up all of our built-in snow days for this year, so these "extra" days mean that we'll be in school until well into June.  Not that I mind, you understand, I just thought I'd mention it.

This weekend I'm going to a mini-retreat with my sewing group, so I've spent part of the day trying to decide which projects to take with me.  I've found that, for me, smaller projects are best in the cramped quarters at  retreats.  Poking around in the UFO boxes in my sewing room I found some small pastel basket blocks that I won a couple of years ago in a guild BOM raffle.  I have eight completed blocks and this afternoon I dug up a yard of muslin and some pastel scraps.  I cut out enough fabric to make four more blocks.  I even found the fabric that I had bought to make the borders.  It's plenty enough for a little baby quilt.

Another project that I've had my eye on is the Moda Bakeshop 1800's Vintage Quilt. It's a replica of an antique doll quilt.  (I think there may be a trend here!)  I've had a charm pack of Civil War reproductions just waiting for the right project, so this afternoon I cut those up along with the background fabric, also from stash.

And, just in case I finish (!) the other two I thought I'd start on The Farmer's Wife Sampler Quilt.  I have a rather large and over-flowing bin of reproduction scraps and crumbs which will be perfect.  I don't think I'm going to try to make all 111 blocks, maybe just a lap size quilt. 

Does that seem like enough to keep me busy Saturday and Sunday? 

They are predicting another round of accumulating snow for Sunday night into Monday.  Not that I mind. I just thought I'd mention it.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Design Wall Monday::President's Day


It's President's Day today.  Originally this was a holiday to celebrate GeorgeWashington's birthday, but since it got moved to the third Tuesday in February and its name got changed, I'm not sure most people are even aware of  why we have the day off.  George Washington was, of course, the commander of our forces in the Revolutionary War and also our first president, one of the U.S.'s most revered historical figures.

We have today off from school because of the holiday, but we would have had today off anyway because we are having yet another snow storm.  So far we've picked up another 6-8 inches of snow and the weather service is expecting even more tonight.  It's not looking good for school tomorrow either, with more snow expected over night and tomorrow morning.

It seemed like a good day to stay inside and sew.

I had all the fabrics cut out for the doll quilt, so this morning I sewed the blocks together.  I love this little thing!  The blocks are small, only 6 inches, and they went together very easily.  It's hard to tell since they are set on-point, but they are an old block pattern called Prairie Queen, one of my favorites.  I had actually planned several years ago to make a bigger quilt with this block, in fact I think I still have most of the fabric I bought for it in my stash somewhere.  


I wasn't sure what fabrics to use for the setting triangles, so I auditioned several of them.  The pictures above show the two I like the best.  I would like to use that striped fabric for the top and bottom borders and I think it looks best with the brown, but we'll see. (And yes, I see now that the bottom right block is turned sideways.  Whoops!)

While making up my mind I tried some liberated stars from Gwen Marston. 

These are really fun to do and they work up really quickly.  I'd like to make a few more with some of my Kaffe Fassett scraps. 

You can check out what others have on their design wall this week by reading Judy L.'s blog Patchwork Times.  Thank you once again, Judy, for hosting!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Snowy Blowy Day

We're on our second snow day this week.  The snow moved in yesterday morning early and dropped about 4 or 5 inches by daylight, which is more than enough to call off school here.  Then, last night the wind began to blow all the snow around and the temperature dropped into the teens.  Everything froze.  Our street, our driveway, even our steps were covered in a hard glaze of ice.  The streets seem fairly clear now, but I'm betting we'll have at least a two hour delay tomorrow.  We'll see.

Anyway, ahem.  Ta-da!  Look what I finally finished.  I don't know why this simple little quilt gave me such fits, but as of now I am over the fits and the complaining and the whining.  I promise.  I finished up the last two seams this afternoon and breathed a huge sigh of relief.  Borders, you ask?  Borders?  Well, yes there will be borders.  Eventually.  I checked through the stash this afternoon and I don't have anything big enough, so borders will have to wait until I can get to the quilt shop.


Toward the end, my seam sewing was not of the best.  There is more than one intersection that I wouldn't want to have anyone examine too closely.  I redid a few, but I decided to just accept a few imperfections on some of the others.  It's done.  That's all I care about at the moment.  

By the way, I really appreciated all the comments I got about my struggles with this one.  And I need to say a heartfelt thank you to Homemade Quilts by Granny, (a no-reply blogger) who commented simply, "I like your rail fence don't give up on it."  That comment came along just as I was wavering about putting it away for another day. I didn't give up and now I have one less UFO to worry about.

I did quite a bit of straightening up in my sewing room while I was avoiding sewing the rail fence.  I have lots of quilting books and magazines and they have overtaken my shelf space.  Yesterday I sat down with a stack of magazines that I was saving only for the sake of one or two projects that I thought I might be interested in sewing.  I was pulling out the pages for those projects and tossing the rest of the magazines when I came across directions for a doll quilt called Civil War Scraps in an old Fons and Porter magazine.  I love the design, and best of all, it's really small.  I need something little, something that I can get DONE.  

I tossed some fat quarters in the wash last night thinking I could get a start on it today and then sat down to check around the blogs.  I was amazed to find A Sentimental Quilter, Kathy Tracy, who is the designer of THIS little quilt and the author of American Doll Quilts, Prairie Children and Their Quilts, and Remembering Adelia

I did a test block this afternoon.


I am so looking forward to working on this one.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Socks on the Needles

Socks?  Why yes, I've got some socks on the needles.

The one below is the sock I work on when I'm watching TV.  All it needs is the final Kitchener stitch across the top, but I've been procrastinating.  Also, I have misplaced the scrap of paper I wrote the pattern on.  Not that I couldn't just write the pattern down again, but I know it's around here somewhere... The yarn is a lovely smooshy alpaca blend, which, according to the label, is from a local farm.

Now this one is stalled because the tip of one of my 1.5 needles broke off and I haven't had a chance to visit the LYS to buy a new set.  The yarn is from Knit Picks, called Essential kettle dyed. The color is ivy.  The pattern is one I've done before, called Primavera.  The leg looks very narrow, but it stretches out to a nice complicated looking rib pattern quite simple to knit. 

The ones below are Lorna's Laces in the Tuscany colorway.  The pattern is Simple Textured Socks.  All I need to do is that final Kitchener on the SECOND sock.  That's all.  I don't know why I procrastinate when it comes to doing that dreaded K stitch, but I do. 

And these are Roundabout socks knit in Tofutsies yarn.  You notice that I did manage to finish the first sock and I'm halfway down the cuff of the second.  Tofutsies, by the way, is a combination of wool, soysilk, cotton, and chitin (a fiber from crab and shrimp shells which is supposed to have natural antibacterial properties).  It comes in a variety of lively colors, knits up beautifully, and wears really well.  These socks are the ones I work on when I'm watching movies on the computer. 

And yes, I do have at least one more set of size 1 needles, so I could, if I wanted, start yet another pair. 

Sock knitting is such a pleasure.  Round and round you go, and before you know it,  you arrive at the tip of the toes and you're almost done.

BTW, my LYS printed the Kitchener stitch directions of their business cards.  I own several of them, but it still doesn't keep me from procrastinating.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Design Wall Monday::Blog Giveaway

Well it's a little farther along than it was last week.  I've got a little less than half the strips sewn together; the rest of them are draped over the ironing board just waiting to be sewn together.  The truth is that I've stalled out on this, but I'm too stubborn to quit on it when it is so close to being done.  Sigh.  I guess I'm going to have to forge on.  I am utterly determined that this UFO is going to be off the shelf and done before I start anything else.

You can check out what others have on their design walls by going over to Judy L's blog Patchwork Times.

Over the weekend I read a lot of the commentary surrounding the death of J.D. Salinger.  For my group of friends in high school reading Catcher in the Rye was practically a rite of passage.  I think I was about 14 or 15 when I brought it home from the school library. My mother promptly took it away from me, declaring that it was "too adult."  Since I had to return it anyway, I just took it back to school and kept it in my locker and read it during study hall.  I identified with just about everything in that book. It was a book that my friends and I discussed and debated on our own, outside of English class. How ironic that it is now considered "literature" and is taught in many high schools!   When my own daughter was in high school, I wanted her to read it, but she didn't seem to find it as engaging as we did.  I did dip into it a bit at that time, and I remember being disappointed because it seemed dated.  Yesterday, however, I picked it up again and read it in one gulp and it seemed as fresh as ever. If you haven't read it, it's definitely worth trying.

And now for the giveaway news....the winner is Miriam, at Yellow Roses

I'd like to thank everyone for all the wonderful comments in the past week.  Blogging has enriched my life so much during the past three years and 200 posts and I appreciate everyone who stops by.