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Friday, May 31, 2013

Free Motion Friday - May 31, 2013

I've been getting ready for a bout of free motion for the last couple of weeks. I've pieced a quilt top. I've put my hexagons on the black fabric. Both of those are now wrapped around gift paper rolls waiting for their turn.

I also pieced two log cabin blocks. One rather wonky and the other a classic one. I've got piecing problems with both of them, but they were pieced to be learning projects, so I decided to just keep on.

Today I got to the free motion part of the project.

I started out with some stippling on the sandwich I use to warm up on. I hate stippling, even good stippling, and mine isn't good. I decided to try the stippling Sharon Schamber taught in one of the DVDs that The Quilt Show is allowing their members to watch for free. It is a bit different from the method Leah Day teaches. And at least I didn't find myself having to cross over. But it is still pretty ugly.           

 I had made up a bunch of 7 inch squares and put a 4 inch square in the middle of them. This is the first one. The pattern is one Leah Day taught on her web site this week called Inside the Sun. This is the first time I did 4 inch squares, and I think they are a good idea, but I'd like more fabric around them to make handling the fabric easier.

I'll use the rest of the ones that are made up, but I'm going to consider drawing the squares on a larger piece of fabric and having multiple squares on one piece of fabric.
 I also stitched it into the middle square on one of the two Log Cabin Blocks. This isn't a great photo of it. All of the fabrics are darker, and the thread is a beige.

Leah Day has a point that stitching with contrasting thread helps you see the stitches and over time will improve your free motion quilting. That is what I hope will happen for me.

Take care all

Sunday, May 26, 2013

This Week

I have been quilting this week. What I have not been doing is blogging, mainly because it turns out that the computer chair has been a factor in my walking issues. So for several days I've avoided this computer and this chair. I do have a laptop that I almost never use, so I've been fighting the computer wars with that laptop. One of the things that happen when you don't use a computer for months on end is that the updates pile up. Yesterday it literally took hours to deal with backed up updates including a full scale service pack that had never been applied to the laptop.

Right now, I can't blog on the laptop. I don't have a way to get the pictures into the blog from that computer. My intentions are to get a new chair into this room, but that also has to wait until I'm strong enough to go and get it, and can set someone up to help me get it out of the car and into the house. Not that easy on a holiday weekend.

 So here are the updates on the current quilting projects. The Coin Quilt top is finished. I rolled it on an old wrapping paper roller until I can get to the next step, which is putting the sandwich together and quilting it. I'm not sure what kind of quilting it will be, but it will be free motion. And probably more complex than most of the things I've done so far.

I've gotten almost all of the papers out of the hexagrams. I left the ones on the outside on purpose. It turned out it was not necessary to remove the basting except from the first one. I used my Purple Thang to dig under the papers so I could get them out and it was extremely easy.

I did the kind of basting where you do not put the thread through the papers. Once I learned that method it was all very easy to do.

It is going to make appliqueing this to the black background very easy. I have not decided if that will be done by hand or by machine. Not sure which way to go at this point.

Meanwhile, I've pieced two log cabin blocks. One normal and one wonky for one of Leah Day's Craftsy classes.

Yes, the block really is bowing out. This is the first log cabin I've ever pieced and I learned some important things doing it. Since it is actually a practice piece and probably won't be turned into anything other than a tote, and maybe not even that, I'm not redoing it to make it perfect. It will be enough for my purposes and frankly it might be a good thing to learn how to deal with a block that isn't quite all straight lines.

The second block is intentionally wonky. What is interesting is that it is not bowed out in any direction. It is a little too big for the backing fabric I cut, so I will cut it down to match the size of the first block.

The various things I'm doing for my knee and my walking are working, but slowly. More another time.

Take care all.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Finally Quilting Again

Not sure what is going on. I got back to the machine last week and this week just looked at what was going on and left it alone. But this morning I did sit down to sew, so I can report some progress on the sewing front as well as on the knitting front.

One of the seams you are looking at is just pinned. I've got that one and one more long seam to sew and then the top and bottom borders to put on and I will actually have a quilt top. Once I've got that I'll be able to sandwich it and begin some more free motion quilting, which I really want to do.

The fabric has arrived for the tote bag pieces for Leah Day's second new class. I figure I'll be using stuff from both of the new classes on these two projects. The off white fabric in the Coin Quilt (yes it has a name already) isn't actually a solid, but it reads close enough that I should be OK if I use a dark enough beige when I'm quilting. The fabric for the tote bag pieces is all solid fabrics of a medium to dark color range. Not quite as dark as what Leah Day is using in her sample pieces, but much darker than what I normally would use. They will be quilted in white thread.

The idea is to begin to allow myself to see the thread. But it was very hard to actually buy solid fabrics. I'm not a solid fabric person.

The hexagons still have all their paper in them, but that also is almost ready to be attached to the black fabric I chose to mount it on. Again, not a solid, but something that will read as a solid most of the time.

Take care all.

On My Needles - 5/18/13

One thing I have been doing is knitting. I enjoy having something to knit while I watch TV, which probably means I'm unlikely to ever do really complicated patterns where you have to pay attention to what you are actually knitting.

The shawl has grown. Still not sure what kind of yarn this is because it came from Big Lots with their label which frankly doesn't say any of the standard things. What it looks like is a self-striping sock type yarn, but it is thicker than sock yarn normally is.

At this point it almost fills the 40 inch cable of the circular needles it is on. Pretty soon I will not be able to spread it out to take the photo. I'm almost, within half and inch to an inch, from the place where I will do more open work rows. Not long after that the self striping will pretty much end because the total number of stitches will be so large that the red color or the green one won't make it all the way across the row.

I'm learning a lot knitting this. It is essentially a standard top down, two triangle, shawl. It has a nice two stitch and one yarn over garter stitch edge on the side edges. I would not have thought two stitches would look that nice, but it looks like it is almost a rope edge. It also looks like it is going to be a warm shawl, so I'll probably use it next Fall and Winter.

Take care all.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

I New Quilt in Progress

During my long dry spell caused by not feeling well enough to put time in at the sewing machine, I knew I wanted to make some kind of mostly improv coin quilt. I found one in the original issue of MODERN QUILTING and I started it this week.

This is the kind of project most quilters can put together in a day. Maybe two if they only cut fabric on day one. It will take me a lot longer. The long coin strips are now actually cut to the correct size.

My quilt won't be exactly the same as the one in the magazine for several reasons.

I've cut the coin strip wider than they suggested. And I'm not sure I'll be cutting the fabric in between the strip the same size as theirs either. I will probably have a top and bottom and side borders for two reasons. It is much easier to square up a quilted quilt if you have made extra wide borders. And I won't be straight line quilting this.

Instead, I think this is going to be one of the projects that I'll use the designs from Leah Day's two new Craftsy classes on.

The background fabric is not a solid white. It is actually a beige and white print that reads as white. I'm not sure but I think I'll be using a slightly darker beige thread on the quilting because this time around I will be happy to have it show.

The coins are all from my scrap boxes since there are very few duplicates. The background from fabric I bought for a quilt along that I was too sick to join up with. So all stash. I like working from stash.

Take care all.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013


It was time for some changes at my house again. The 75 gallon water heater was beginning to make some very odd noises when it heated up the water. And I really didn't need a 75 gallon water heater anyway. It was what came with the house and I gather we had to have one because of the tub that also came with the house.

The water tank was huge, but compared to the wine cooler my husband had brought with us from California it looked pretty small.

The wine cooler will go to my daughter's house at some point this summer. In the meantime, it is living in my garage. And once both of them were out of the Utility Room, there was room for a tankless hot water heater and the water softener I've been wanting since I moved into this extremely hard water area.

So there it all is, taking up a lot less space than the other equipment. The washer and dryer are in that room too, on the other wall. I did some laundry this morning and there is a lot more room in there now.

Take care all.

Friday, May 10, 2013

On My Needles - May 10, 2013

I'm knitting in addition to quilting and getting ready to quilt. I actually swatched for this project, which is rather funny considering what the project is and what the pattern said.

The pattern said that you could use any yarn with it, although the size would change depending on what you used. They were using what sounded like a fingering (sock) yarn and size 4 needles.

The yarn I picked out is a $1 a ball yarn from Big Lots. I've got no idea what it is made of. I think it is either sport weight or DK.

I started with size 9 circular needles because this thing is going to get big and it will be big fast. That was too loose, so I tried a size 5 needle. Better but still rather floppy. This shows the project begun with a size 2 circular. All of the needles were by different manufacturers and that turned out to be interesting in itself. But that is a different post.

They yarn is really nice to work with. Right now it is self striping and trying to make little patterns. That won't last long once the numbers of stitches doubles and triples. I'm adding 4 stitches every other row. It feels soft and rather silky. And the colors are so pretty. There will be blocks of islet rows later in the project. This yarn is somewhat different from what I expected knitted up, but I think it won't matter because the "lace" blocks aren't all that complicated.

Take care all.

Free Motion Quilting and the Feeling of Success When Something is Finished

I haven't been blogging much. There hasn't been much to blog about except medical issues and those are as boring to write about as they must be to read about. On the medical side I decided to go a more aggressive route with my back, leg and knee issues. I'm seeing my chiropractor 3 times this week and next week, and it is already showing signs of making me a lot stronger. I got the asthma under control and am no longer using the rescue inhaler on a schedule. The nebulizer got packed away several weeks ago. So I'm not as tired all the time as I was.

The result is progress in some of my projects. Two of them are now up on the walls where I can enjoy them on a daily basis.

The Class Quilt from the Free Motion Craftsy class taught by Ann Petersen is now in my bedroom where  I can see it when I first wake up in the morning. It probably won't be the only quilt that hangs there, but it was the project that taught me that I could free motion quilt. The only thing I wish is that I'd had the guts to use thread that showed.

But I probably have gotten there. I've bought both of Leah Day's new classes at Craftsy, and I'm going to be doing the second one first. I ordered the fabric for the tote bag panels this morning from JoAnn's online store because I'm not physically strong enough to go shopping for it. It probably isn't as dark fabric as the ones Leah is using in her class, but dark enough that the white thread is going to show.

Meanwhile I've watched the first class and I might watch the second one soon, but this will be a class where I follow along. The only thing I'm not sure about is if I watch the entire thing first and then go back. That is what I did with Ann Petersen's class once I decided to make the project, and I know that does work for me.

I put my braid quilt up in the Computer Room. Right over the desk. This is an extremely strange colorway for me to have done. The fabrics really are that pale. But when I had gotten part of the braids together I realized just how much I liked the look so I didn't use any of the darker fabrics I had and just kept going. It was so unusual for me that I had to buy the border and backing fabric after the braids were done.

It is also the first quilt I ever did completely with a machine. I had pieced by machine before, but never did any quilting by machine. This wasn't free motion. It was actually all walking foot quilting, again mainly from an Ann Petersen class. Not sure which one to credit for this.

Leah Day said in her blog today how she is taking two sewing classes from two different Craftsy teachers and how what they teach is so different, but how they are illuminating things for her because she is taking both of them. I feel that way as well. I've taken quilting classes from several Craftsy teachers, and they have all been very good classes from excellent teachers.

Take care all.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Daily Life

In some ways I've been quite active and quite busy. I've finished the binding on the Class Quilt and just have to get the bottom of the rod pocket sewn. I've been online and I've ordered a couple of extra long circular needles. I seem to have decided I like the 40 inch length. I know that one can do magic loop on things other than socks, but only if the needle length is long enough. I've got a size 9 and a size 10 coming.

I finished the scarf I was making. One ball of the yarn was enough for the scarf. I wanted to see how it would look finished.

The yarn doesn't take great pictures. It is actually quite metallic. The color changes make it a very interesting fabric. Don't know if I will ever wear this thing, but there is a charity that I might give it too. Some teenaged kid just might fall in love with it. It is actually quite pretty.

I'm wondering if I am a process person rather than a project person. I do have to enjoy the process or I'm just not interested.
I have gotten out of the house quite a bit, and not just to doctor's appointments. I've even been to the bank and I've paid my County taxes. I went to Big Lots yesterday and just enjoyed being there even though it made me very tired.

But mostly, I've been dealing with pain, and with walking, and just getting the tasks of daily life done. Today I had to wash my sheets and remake my bed. Doing that is a kind of success story. It was almost as hard as I thought it might be, but not quite and it got done. I'll need to get my recycling and my trash cans out to the curb tonight. They collect the trash in the middle of the night. The recycling can get collected as early as 5:30 am, or as late as noon, so it also needs to go out before I go to bed.

I have one envelope to mail, and mail to pick up. Some of  the time I can walk there. Some of the time I need to drive to get to the mailbox. And today, I've added the task of going to the supermarket for a few things and picking up gas while I'm out. Maybe I'll go out to eat too. I think I'd like that.

Just loads of daily life, and once in a while the ability to make something beautiful to fill my soul.

Take care all.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Quilting Again

I have been staring at the Class Quilt at my sewing machine since March. That was when the second round of being sick started this winter. I had done everything that needed to be done to put the binding on the quilt, except actually do the machine sewing on the binding. And then I just didn't have the energy to sit at the machine. Part of me was afraid I'd never get there.

Last week I had some work done in the house. One of the things I did was to put up the curtain rod that will hold the class quilt. I had the bar put up so I could put other quilts on it as other quilts got made. I've been looking at that empty bar for almost a week now.

Yesterday I was free all morning. And I sat down at the machine. Literally 30 seconds after I started sewing I realized how happy I was to be there. It took four sessions to finish putting the binding on.

The first two were pretty easy. The third was one of those disasters that just happen when it has been a long time since one has done something. Sewing the two ends of the binding strips together became a major disaster. I ripped out the first attempt because everything was twisted.

I had to rip out the second attempt too because something got sewn into the seam that should not have been there, but the third attempt, on the fourth session went like a dream. The machine part of the rod pocket is in place on the back and the machine part of the binding is in place on the front. Now it is all hand sewing while I watch TV over the next couple of days.

I'll be linking to The Free Motion Quilting Project and to Fiber Artist Journey.

Take care all.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

This and That for Random Thursday

I'm feeling rather random today. I'm doing laundry this morning. I'm not dressed and it is almost 10 am. I'm resting in between bouts of doing the stuff I need to do, so dressing is waiting.

Spring has sprung in East Central PA. The Lehigh Valley is full of flowers and plants. The trees are blooming. My crab apple has bloomed for the first time in 9 years. It always has some blooms, but this time, the entire tree is blooming. Maybe the hard winter has something to do with that.

As usual I have a wonderful front garden. My daughter has added stuff every year for the last 4 or 5, most recently some perennials she found at a local garage sale. Spring has always been great in the front of the house (the only place where I plant because my community takes care of the rest), Summer, not so much. But either this year or next year that is going to change. We've been working on it for the last two years and I think we just might be done.

But I don't have pictures because my walking just isn't good enough for me to get out there with a camera and take them.

And that is the real bummer. I started walking, bit by bit, with my walker in January. In February I got sick. I got so weak I ended up using a cane full time, even in the house. The walker let me walk further outside than I could without it, but most of the time I was able to just walk. Using a cane all the time just makes me so tired. And so tired means I don't get to enjoy the Spring as much as I expected to. All very frustrating.

Take care all.

Knitting, Crochet and Decisions, Decisions

Once I finished the sock I decided I wanted to do some really easy projects. I had gotten two balls of the kinds of yarn that makes ruffle scarves. One from Walmart, and one, for just $1 at Big Lots. I went online to see how to knit them, and noticed that there were also crochet videos. It was pretty obvious that crochet would have been a whole lot easier for someone who knits continental.

I started with the Big Lots ball. I have no idea who's yarn this was in the beginning but it made up into a very pretty scarf. It is long enough to make a simple knot but not long enough to double.

My daughter chose to take both of these home with her.

I used the same crochet system to make the second ball. It is a name brand, Red Heart Sashay. It made up thicker and longer than the $1 ball. Equally pretty but in a different way.

Both of these projects were extremely quick. The problem is that once you start you can't put the project down. I needed to back off after about 3 or 4 inches because I hadn't gotten the stitch onto my needle correctly. And the entire thing ripped out. So once you start, you need to continue for about an hour.

Outside of that this is extremely easy to do, and the results are very nice.
I'm now working on a shawl. There is a problem with it because it is obvious to me that once I finish the two ends of the triangle will not match.

I got the pattern online. basically you start at one of the points of the triangle, and knit until you almost run out of yarn and then do a special bind off. I didn't realize that I couldn't see both points in the picture. The person who came up with the pattern probably didn't care that the points didn't match. She was designing for other reasons. But I will care. Again, this is a $1 ball of yarn from Big Lots. Don't have a clue what brand it originally was. It is fun to knit and I like the openness of the stitch pattern. But I am going to care about the points, so I'm going to put these stitches on some waste yarn, and I'm going to start something else with one of the other 5 balls of this stuff that I have. It is obvious after having knitting as much as I have that there is a lot of yardage in the ball.

I won't try to rip the knitting because, once again, I'm dealing with a yarn that doesn't rip very well. And I've got so much of this stuff, it just isn't worth the aggravation to even try to rip it out.

Take care all.