Saturday, May 16, 2015

Rounding Them Up

Sometimes, things begin to snowball, and all you can do is hang on for the ride. That seems to be the theme with my UFO collection this month. I've suddenly been inspired to dig in and get them rounded up and on the road to FOs!

To back up just a bit, I've had a couple of tubs in the very back corner of my sewing area that got moved in there after I started settling down. One of them was full of batting, mostly leftovers from other projects and one big roll of something I'm not too crazy about. The other was mostly finished tops that just need quilting, and they--plus a couple of containers of pins and some batting--had been packed up to take to my ill-fated class on machine quilting at Asilomar. Really through no fault of the instructor's, it turned out to be not what I'd been told to expect, and secondly was thoroughly monopolized by a rather loud, rude, and clueless person who seemed to think it was all about her.  One good thing about it was that I was able to finally unpack my Brother 1500S and get acquainted with it.

Anyway, the tub came home, and what with one thing and another (like a couple of back surgeries), it stayed packed up. These were all quilts that for different reasons I wanted to quilt myself. 

Well, the stars seemed to align in such a way that I needed to go through that tub and make some choices. Herewith some of the results of a very productive Monday! (And thanks, Anne, for the encouragement!)
Batik "Magic Squares"
The batik Magic Squares are from a class with Sylvia Einstein at Asilomar--2010, I think, same year as the quilting class. It's mostly batiks with a few standard wovens in there. It's small and offers a lot of good prints that will lend themselves to free motion quilting. It's also busy enough so that any mistakes won't show too badly. 

Yes, my quilting is very rusty. Except for sewing on bindings and a couple of very small bits of walking-foot quilting, I could say I have barely touched the machine since that class. 

The Mariner's Compass was made in a class with Judy Mathieson--the last class she taught at Asilomar before she retired. She teaches a method of paper piecing that uses freezer paper templates that aren't sewn into the fabric. It was the first time I was able to actually paper piece!
Mariner's Compass #1

I love this quilt. Another small one and with lots of possibilities for the quilting. I think the batiks look very "watery" and the background fabric is a whimsical nautical print. (I also need to take out all the pins I put in, because the back decided to wrinkle and pucker. Wish I'd found that before I closed the pins. I always teach people to check the back before closing the pins...)
Cats for All Seasons and All Reasons

Ready for mailing away!
The cat quilt turned up in another box. I did manage to get all the appliques sewn down before I moved--buttonhole stitch with invisible thread. This one should be fun to quilt and even more fun to embellish. Buttons or beads for cats' eyes? Tulle or eyelet for the ballerina's skirt? 

There are two more quilts waiting to be pinned, one from the box and the other is my Jumping Jax Flash quilt, which you've seen on the blog before. 

Then there were five more tops in the box which, for various reasons, I decided I might just as well have longarmed. Boxed them up and sent them off! The top one on the stack is the Colorado Log Cabin, which wasn't a "tub quilt" but the rest of them are. I will say that part of the inspiration for doing this is that Anne was wearing her Stashbuster's tee, which reads "done is better than perfect." A mantra also espoused by Brenda Papadakis in our Dear Jane class. 

Here's the rocker that sits next to my sewing area. In it are stacked a couple of quilts that need to be layered, two quillows which have since been stitched together and are now waiting to have the batting sewn to them (it's pinned in), and my Grand Illusion formerly-mystery quilt, which just needs the binding sewn down. 

Who knows, one of these days I may make it to the bottom of the pile and be able to use the rocker to--gasp!--sit in! 

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Colorado Log Cabin

Sometimes, you just have to wonder how and why certain projects got set aside at a specific point. At least, I do! This project is one of them.  I mean, look at this:

It's a complete top. In the box also was a 4-square block and a good chunk of the green fabric. Not so much of the red, and almost 3 yards of the light print. Hmm...

This was in the box
Here's the box... 
The box and its contents
So once I put my mind to it, it took only a couple of hours to get it to this point: 

  From here, I put a back together and got it bundled up with the request sheet for the longarmers.

After 20 or so years in the box, it's going to be a finished quilt soon. I figured 20 years at a minimum: the book in the box is Trudie Hughes'  More Template Free Quiltmaking and the printing date is 1988, but a couple of the fabrics are from Jinny Beyer's first collection of backgrounds and blenders, which came out in 1990. That was the year that the 100-piece collection was debuted at Quilt Market in Houston, which was the only time I went to Market with my boss from Bearly Stitchin'.  She really liked Trudie's books and methods, and we did a lot with them at the shop. I'm sure this may have been destined to be a shop sample originally, but then things changed direction. (She, my boss, was definitely one to assign the same project to a couple of people and then decide that she wasn't going to feature it after all. She had a real flair for shop decor and for projects that would catch people's imaginations, and I guess the feeling was that this was going to be a little too complicated for her two-day-class format.) 

Anyway, I've had to update the sidebar--this quilt wasn't even on the radar until I brought that box into the house. Not sure what the takeaway is from this...except that I'm going to have a nice Christmassy quilt ! (Unless someone decides to claim it. That's always a possibility!)  

Saturday, May 02, 2015

Picasso's Puzzle Quilt

Here comes another attempt at posting a blog using photos from the camera on my phone. I'm a little more hopeful of good results this time! 

So this is a tale of a small plastic box that has been floating around in my workroom, my garage, outdoors during the Great Renovation Experience of 2008, in storage... and finally into  my newest workroom.  May I present Picasso's Puzzle. 

The story is that back in the early '90s, I had found a pattern for the old style Streak of Lightning quilt, which someone had made up and called Hot Flashes. Well, that's kind of an inspiring name, and I knew just what to use: a new fabric that had come into the shop (the original Bearly Stitchin' on Roosevelt, in Pasadena, before it was expanded) from Hoffman International. They had a line called Pablo's  Puzzle, based on some Picasso-ish squiggles and zigzags and things.
I pulled a group of matching solids--and by the way, these Kona cottons are all still available!. I cut out all the triangles and sashing strips and put them in a box, which I even labeled Hot Flashes Quilt. 

Fast forward to last Monday--20+ years later, after the box had survived many moves and shuffles and threats of being tossed by persons unknown. 

Pablo's Puzzle by Hoffman International
These shapes are parallelograms, not trapezoids.

Back view
I was working on the Prismatic Star, having finally figured out the easiest and best way to sew the diagonal pieces together so they had a prayer of matching. (I know that Judy's patterns are precisely engineered and in theory go together like buttah. I am not the most precise sewer, though, so mine need a little fiddling and adjusting to get the diagonals to match.) When I had sewn a fourth set together and put them down on top of the previous three, and discovered that they were all soaking wet since the iron had leaked--well, that was the last straw! 
I needed something quick, easy, and relatively mindless. My eye lit on the Hot Flashes box... and the rest is history. I spent most of Monday sewing triangles to triangles and then into rows, with just a few hiccups along the way. 

Fast forward to today, Saturday, and I finished the piecing--even figured out how to eke out enough extra Pablo to make side borders. So after 20 years of languishing, in less than a week it's a finished top, has been assigned a backing fabric (lime green with white bubbles) and is once again in a box, this time to ship to my faithful longarmers!

 There may be a moral to this story, but if there is, it's eluding me. However, it's another UFO to move up the list. I had to add it to the sidebar, because it was so deep in obscurity it never made it to that special place. I renamed it Picasso's Puzzle, because the old name just didn't fit, and besides, that was the other quilter's name for her quilt. Mine will remind me of visiting the Musee Picasso in Antibes and perhaps inspire me to unearth some more project boxes. Yes, sadly, there are more of them lurking...

Contents of "the box." Talk about a precut kit!

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Vogue Knitting Live in Pasadena

Doll vest in Twisted Stitch
Finally getting to "finish" this post from my wonderful weekend in Pasadena at Vogue Knitting Live! It was a great experience, and I'm glad to be able to share a few vignettes with you!

I took some stimulating classes, got to see some interesting exhibits and awesome vendors, and met up with friends old and new--all very satisfying!

My first class was Bavarian Twisted Knitting with the incomparable, one and only Franklin Habit.  I know, right??  (Check out the very end of this blog post for a surprise!)

Back of the doll vest
 I was feeling shy about taking too many pictures in class, even though he gave permission for non-flash photography, but I just loved this little doll vest. Do I think I'll make one?

I always think I could make something like this. Time and energy constraints mean I have to be mostly satisfied knowing that I could if I wanted to!

 My sampler from the class. The really amusing part--to me--is that I had no problem learning twisted knitting--and that's because I had spent a lot of years unlearning it!

When I first learned to knit--age 7 or so--this was the way my mother taught me, because it was how she knit. (My mother's knitting is a good topic for another blog post!) I didn't realize that it was "wrong" or different until many years later. I "helped" a friend who was bogged down on one of those endless projects that seem like such a good idea when you cast them on... Anyway, I knit a couple rows for her, and she informed me that she would have to take them out, and pointed out how my stitches all leaned a different way than hers. She showed me what I was doing wrong, and my knitting got a lot better looking.

Anyway, twisted knitting is fascinating to do, the charts are really easy to read, and I think there will be more of it in my life!

The second day was two classes, also with Franklin, on designing tesselating patterns. Sounds fancy, huh?

Well--turns out it's very similar to things I've done with quilting for years! Applying the principles to knitting was fascinating!

I did one sample with knit/purl variations and a second with two colors, the green and white.

Not enough contrast between the colors but the pattern did show up better.
 We were encouraged to play with our own designs, using the principles he showed and explained about how to make sure the patterns truly tesselated.

Of course when I came home I went to my bookshelf and found both Jinny Beyer's and Christine Porter's books on tesselating quilts.
Same principles, different materials, but equally fascinating!

All of which segued nicely into the Sunday morning class, on designing with Fair Isle patterns with Mary Jane Mucklestone.
She had tables full of samples that we could touch and examine and try on and try not to drool over.

 I also learned something that will make stranded knitting much easier for me. Again, back in the dim dark past when I was learning to do colorwork, I picked up some bad habits--or poor info, to be fair--and was making life much harder for myself than it needed to be.

When I think of all the colorwork sweaters (and even long pants) I knitted back in the day, well, I wish I had known then what I know now! Anyway, many thanks to Mary Jane for the lesson!

Of course I came home and checked my bookshelf, and I had some of her books. It was kind of exciting to look at them and realize that I had been handling those samples!

The Mochi Mochi table was fun and for some reason the only display I took pictures of! I think it was because by Saturday evening, my feet hurt and I was tired, and I thought I'd get back on Sunday to do a proper job. Well, I didn't make it back on Sunday, instead I met up with some Ravelry friends for lunch and then hit the freeway for home.  On Friday I was cruising the market with the incomparable Ellen Bloom and that was not conducive to picture taking either!

Technical note: both the iPad and iPhone Blogger apps have been refusing to upload pictures for me, so today's photos came via a chain of emailing them to myself then downloading them to the computer and then uploading here. Pretty cumbersome. At least it worked, and here's my post a couple of weeks later!
I have a new friend!


Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Prismatic Star--A New Project!

Because the first thing you want to do when you finish one big project is start another one, right? Actually, I started prepping this one a little while ago. Judy Niemeyer had the sample and pattern at Asilomar and did a demo of the cutting and piecing involved. Well... I bit. 

I tried several different combinations of fabrics, but these were the final choice. The lime green with pink Queen Anne's Lace flowers will be the background--the rose-colored part you see on the pattern. I hope this will work out the way I'm visualizing it! 

And...back to wonky editing/uploading features! Guess this post is going to be text on top, pictures below. Not much to explain, really--the two bottom pictues show the cutting and prepping involved and the bottom picture is the first four diamond sets. Each set of 8 fabrics will make 4 "star segments." I've made Lone Star quilts before and, although they're a bit finicky, I really love the look  

Monday, April 13, 2015

Hosta Progress--Oh Yeah!!

Well--it's done. The top of my Fire Island Hosta has been finished. A few "minor details" like getting it quilted, and then it will really truly be a quilt. 

Here she is having a photo session on the grass--we had to weight the corners down with rocks, because it was breezy today! Anne came over to sew--and she was really productive, too, maybe she'll revive her blog and post a few pictures? It's always fun to have a friend to sew with. She's much more encouraging to sew with than Shyla!

The next series of pictures are in-progress shots. Because I'm still wrangling with the various Blogger programs, I think I'll just caption them instead of writing a whole lot. Besides, the top is done now, so it's not that thrilling to see how it got there. Is it?

Testing out the layout
After sewing all the curves, these sectioins need to be joined

Testing the way the corners will line up. Surprise--they match!

Curves sewn to curves sewn to curves!

I don't usually use this many pins to sew a curve, but I was nervous!

Stacking them up as they're sewn in.

Laying out all the components, ready to start sewing the-gulp!-curves!

Some lefts, some rights, and I don't want to mix them up!
Well, that's it for now! Of course I have something else in the pipeline--I'm afraid I suffer from ADOS* when it comes to quilts!
*ADOS--Attention Deficit Oooh Shiny! 

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Jumping Jax Flash

Finished the top of the Jumping Jax Flash quilt! This was started at Asilomar in an Empty Spools seminar with Judy Niemeyer in February of 2014. That was an intense week of sewing, and when I came back I paused to work on the Pinwheels for a little while as a change of pace. Suuuure. As you may have read elsewhere on the blog, I did manage to finish all 6 of the Pinwheel tops and sent them all off for quilting.

That would have been fine except that I sent them in batches, so the first ones were home before the others had even left--meaning it was time to bind them and start sending them off to their new homes! In the meantime I also managed to herniate another disk--or maybe two--a very unpleasant pastime and one I do not recommend. Spinal surgery is never fun and do you know, when they say don't lift anything heavier than 5 lbs, well, a big quilt weighs more than that. Makes it hard to sew binding when you can't lift the quilt!

Now that I'm 4 months post-surgery and on into PT, I'm able to do a little more all the time. Standing up is still an issue so sewing sitting down is a good thing. I did fine at Asilomar this year, thanks to frequent rest breaks and their efficient jitney service. 

Ironing while sitting on a stool isn't the easiest thing, but it does save the back!

So here are a few more views. This quilt was all done with stash fabrics. The turquoise background is all the same even though there's quite a few areas that are purple! Cutting it up emphazies different parts of the whole fabric.

Next step will be quilting it. I have a print fabric for the back that has echoes of the same stars, and the batting as well. I do plan to quilt this one myself. With all the seams and centers, I think it could be a longarmer's nightmare, and I enjoy machine quilting so it will be fun.

I'm looking forward to making the stars pop and minimizing some of the seam lines. You can see in the shot on the ironing board how the border spikes are joined to the body, and in the photos where the border is sewn on, there's almost a line. The border, by the way, is the same fabric as the border spikes--again, a lot of different colored areas in the one piece of batik. One of the things I love about batiks is all the variation in color!

Took the quilt top out onto the lawn for a final "beauty shot" since I don't really have a big enough space inside!

Yes, the grass is brown. We're in a severe drought situation here so there's not much lawn watering going on.