Saturday, April 29, 2017

54-40 or Fight

Once I got a stack of four patches made, I decided to piece 54-40 or Fight blocks. Once I had a couple pieced, I made an EQ draft. Sometimes I wonder how I knew how to make my quilts before I had this software. It's such a great way to see the quilt before it's actually made, make design decisions and get the dimensions worked out. At first I thought I would make a Tennessee Waltz pattern, but that made it bigger than I wanted for a donation quilt.

52" x 52"
This is the pattern I decided on. Huh, it's not that much smaller.
40" x 51"

April 9

April 25
April 29
These are being sewn in between the split nine patches for Mendocino Blues and Greens.

Saturday, April 08, 2017


I'm still waiting for spring to actually arrive. Last week the magnolia tree started to bloom and I thought we were on our way! This was the view from our window this morning.

If that blossom could talk it would say, "I'm sooo confused!"

Saturday, April 01, 2017

Hallways of Quilts

Every year the Healdsburg Senior Retirement community hosts a quilt show throughout the building. It's a delightful event because the presentation is so creative. As you drive down the driveway to the parking area, the fence is draped with quilts. The admission fee is just 5.00. The entry way and main lobby have silent auction items, a vintage sewing and quilting notions display and a doll show. Each hallway is hung with quilts and includes lovely vignettes of handmade items featuring a variety of needlework.

This picture's from their website, because during the show, the halls are full of visitors.

The event also includes continental breakfast and a buffet lunch. Visitors are encouraged to bring old quilts to share. Julie Silber, quilt historian and author, displays each one and shares what she believes to be the quilt name, date and any other observable items of interest. Her talk is always interesting and informative.

This year I ran into a long-time quilt friend in the hall and found out she is the coordinator. Knowing what I do about Betty, it all made sense. She also told me the retirement home didn't make a profit on the event, but all money brought in was turned back to the quilters in the form of prize money. I found that heartwarming.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Mendocino Blues and Greens

I'm still chipping away at my split nine patch blocks. I created a layout in EQ, so I now know I need 256 blocks for a queen-size. Eek! I decided to call it Mendocino Blues and Greens. Some times I struggle to name a quilt, other times it just comes.

November 2016
 Sometimes I like a project better when I'm just tinkering at it, rather than making blocks toward a total. At this point I have close to a hundred and seventy five. I keep 45+ on the design wall at a time so I can balance the colors and fabric placement. Some days it feels a little tedious. What to do? Start another project to mix it up a little! Wait a minute, didn't I start this one to break up the tedium of the Fruit Salad quilt?? The thing I've discovered about blogging, I start to notice my own habits.

I needed a new leader and ender project anyway so I decided to make four patches from my over-flowing 2" cut square box.

I don't have any ideas for them yet, but they're so satisfying, it helps me feel like I'm making headway on the BIG project.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

More Wool Dyeing

After the relative success of dyeing the cardigan, I was given three hanks of natural bulky wool. I decided to try dyeing them too.

The color came out a little uneven on them as well, but in yarn, that's okay because it looks hand painted and will knit up nicely.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Scrappy Bargello

It's been a long, wet winter and I've been suffering from cabin fever. The fact that we had four days of clear, warm weather in February didn't help. It was like a spring teaser. I wanted something to brighten my mood. So I started another quilt.

Many of these prints are from the Four Patch and Friends quilt I tried to make some time ago. I still love the rose and green combination, so I pulled more fabrics for the bargello. With this method you make strip sets.

Then you bring the last strip around to the first and sew it into a tube. After you've cut it into strips, you pick out one seam from each, off setting the color so after it's pieced, the color moves diagonally. See Bonnie Hunter's site for a better description.

Two panels.

Three panels.

Four panels.

Bordered and layered for quilting.

It was quick and fun. I'm usually pretty 'matchy-matchy', so letting the colors of the bargello be random was both a challenge and a lark.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Another Hand towel Finished

I enjoyed learning Portuguese knitting while finishing this towel. I kept putting it down while I charged into other projects, so the fun of learning a new skill breathed life back into it. Anything to get it done!

I made it longer than the first one and like it better as a result. But this one is ramie/cotton, instead of linen/cotton. Maybe that's why it stretches sooo much when hanging on the towel bar. But it's soft and absorbent and nice to use, so I don't mind its wonky-ness.

Sunday, March 05, 2017

Home Fiber Dyeing

I often find quality wool sweaters at thrift stores for reclaiming. Some of them are my size and work well as they are. This one by Eddie Bauer is soft and squishy lamb's wool but the color is too blah.

I've heard you can garment-dye wool, so I decided to give it a try. I went into it as an experiment, if it didn't turn out, it wouldn't be a great loss. I researched dye removers and learned which one worked best on wool. I had bought a bottle of Rit dye, but then found out from fiber friends that it washes out over time. So I got acid dye instead.

I used my enamel canning kettle and cooked it on the stove. There were a lot of warnings about fumes and the need to wear a mask, but I didn't find the smell to be that strong.

The forest green came out lovely, a little uneven, but it gives it a funky look that I like.

It must be sewn together with nylon thread, because the buttonholes and the seams didn't take the dye. I colored those with a green sharpie. I also changed the buttons to match the new color. I love it! I wear it all the time.

Friday, February 10, 2017

A New Method of Knitting for Me

I decided to explore different ways of knitting so I could knit longer without hand fatigue. I spent a week teaching myself the Continental method, where you 'pick' instead of 'throw', but I found it didn't help the pain in my right thumb.

Then I discovered a method of carrying the yarn in the front of the work for both knit and purl, that uses the left thumb to make the stitch. It's some times known as Portuguese knitting, but I found out it's also the preferred method in Spain and other countries in that area. Here's VeryPink's YouTube.

I liked the idea of hooking the yarn to a knitting pin rather than running it along the back of my neck. It pulled too much and I could already see that wasn't going to be comfortable over time.

I asked Mom, who makes beaded bracelets, if she thought she could make a knitting pin. Based on a picture I sent, she made this for me. Thanks Mom, you rock! I love the speed that's possible during purling with this method. I used it to finish the ramie kitchen hand towel, because gauge doesn't matter so much in a towel. Another skill in my knitting toolkit.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Long Valley Quilters Op Quilt

Sometime during January I made four blocks for the guild's opportunity quilt. The pattern is called Kwanita.

The day we got together to assemble the blocks, we found many of them weren't true to size, but somehow they went together and the sashing helped it all lay flat.

We made ours king-sized, using primarily batiks in graduating colors. Once it's back from the photographer's, I can add a picture of it.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Denim Project Bag

A new knitting project asks for a new project bag. 😃 Inspired by a picture I saw on Pinterest, I wanted to make this denim bag.

A quilt friend had recently given me two pairs of her husband's blue jeans, so that got me jump started. He's a tall drink of water, so there was lots of fabric. I put it together with the leftover denim from my car quilt.

I had an idea of how to make it, but I went along on intuition a good deal of the time. For example, to make the patchwork fabric, I started by laying it out in rows. It quickly became clear that wasn't the way to go. (Photo bomber)

So I searched the Internet for a pattern to determine the amount of patchwork fabric needed, then laid out an approximation.

From there it went pretty well. Except that the base in the original picture led me to make the fabric long enough to box the bottom, and the pattern I was now working with had a curved bottom with darts for shaping. I have several totes with boxed bottoms, so I cut off a good 6 inches of my carefully pieced fabric and went on.

I added a pocket to the inside, so I have a place for my knitting notions kit. It works great. It's coincidence that the bag and the sweater currently-being knitted are both denim. Ha! I don't match my project bags to my projects.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Every Day Cardigan

Inspired by a picture in a vintage knitting magazine, I decided to try and customize the front of a standard cardigan. While I waited for the LYS's annual sale, I swatched using Cascade 220 (not superwash) in a red I had on hand to determine stitch gauge. The sale was in August and I got the long-sought after heather blue. A great shade to wear with denim and just about everything else.

The cardigan waited while I worked on other projects. I cast on in October, starting with the sleeve, because I was curious to see if my stitch gauge would be different while knitting in the round. The fronts and back are going to be knit flat.

Here's the right front. It has a seed stitch button band and a 3x3 cable on a seed stitch ground. The pattern has slight shaping at the waist, which I like. And I'm enjoying the yarn, which is soft and slightly springy.

The pattern I'm using has a V-neckline, so I'll look at Ann Budd's book on customizing sweaters and see if I can figure out how to make it a crew neck. I used to wonder about design as I struggled with basic patterns. It's fun to see how my knitting skills have improved in six years.