Sunday, March 31, 2013

Happy Easter

Since I don't celebrate Easter, the closest thing I have to Easter eggs is fabric that resembles traditional Easter egg colors. My friend and I spent the day dyeing fabric with Procion dyes this past Friday. I chose to do 1/2 yard runs of each bath, using the small jar method which gives a mottled or tie dyed look. For me that was easy and I happen to like the look--almost like batik without all of the mess. We also purchased some white on white design fabric, which gave a particularly nice result. I am pleased with the colors and need to decide on a project, i.e. not covet it as a precious thing that needs years of sitting on the shelf--but use it because I can make more!

I have not dyed fabric since I was in art school in 1984 and it was not as bad as I thought it would be--mostly because my friend is experienced and does not get all hung up and frozen with fear when it comes to these things. I might actually try it again sometime with some good quality muslin I have. (The solid fabric in this case is Kona in an off-white.)

I also am making a little progress on Almondine from Ann Budd's Sock Knitting Master Class... book. I already see so many mistakes, but do not have the heart to rip it out. I cannot stand the yarn Zauberball, by Schoppel Wolle. This is the second project that I have started from this particular ball. I was using steel needles the first time around and the yarn split over and over. This time I am using wood needles and the yarn still splits sometimes, plus there is a fuzz from ripping out the last project. Eventually I will be working with new--unused yarn, but right now I am not happy. Thank goodness as beautiful as the yarn is, I only purchased one ball.

I am also working on a quilt for a baby gift, and my mom needed a zipper pouch to give as a gift to someone that knit her a scarf out of that annoying Sashay yarn that I tried and could not stand using. You have to keep straightening it out to make the next stitch and it drove me nuts. Anyway, at the last minute I thought I should make this pouch because I was seeing my mom and she wanted to give it to this person. Unbelievable, but it came out perfectly. Every seam matched on the boxed corners. Yeah!

Baci e abbracci and Buona Pasqual!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Progress in Baby Steps

Knitting on #1 needles makes for slow progress, but Almondine by Ann Hanson is a pretty little sock.

Sent from my Verizon Wireless 4G LTE Smartphone

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

New Project

Socks from "Sock Knitting Master Class" book by Ann Budd.

Sent from my Verizon Wireless 4G LTE Smartphone

Sunday, March 24, 2013

A Couple of Things...

I finished the string quilt. I must say that I am not totally pleased with the finish. I have puckering on the back and the binding is so-so at best. Really discouraging until I was looking for different machine binding methods and came across some nice tutorials, and most of them said--it gets better with practice. Crazy Mom QuiltsRed Pepper QuiltsStitched in Color, and Minnesota Quilt Company all make it look like a almond cup piece of cake (sorry about that). I like the use of zig zag for a non-traditional twist and think I may try that on the next finished quilt.

I took inspiration from Erin Wilson Quilts and made two cards for two upcoming birthdays and am pleased with the way they turned out. I think they could even be framed rather than added to the recycle bin.

Patchwork greeting card

Patchwork greeting card

I also FINALLY finished my Linus Project blanket! Even though I was anxious to finish, especially because I would not allow myself to start another project until it was done, I am glad I did it and hope the young recipient likes it.  Now I just have to clean the house so I can invite the woman who will give it away over to pick it up. She wanted to see my work space.

Rambling Rows Linus Project Blanket

Rambling Rows pattern out of Red Heart yarn. I was surprised, Red Heart has really improved over the years and is an inexpensive alternative when budget is an issue.

Rambling Rows Linus Project Blanket

Unfortunately, the colors in these photos are not true. The purple is really pretty with the other colors--not this dark.

Rambling Rows Linus Project Blanket

Baci e abbracci

Saturday, March 23, 2013


Today I made a major error in judgement. I thought I could send Mr. R. for almond cups without calling ahead and asking the bakery to put them aside. I thought worst case scenario I could get them tomorrow. I thought wrong!

Mr. R. just came back from the bakery and they were out of almond cups and will be closed for the next week (for Passover). I thought they would be open tomorrow. Isn't the first night of Passover Monday? Why aren't they open tomorrow? What am I going to do??? I let out such a scream when Mr. R. told me that the neighbor ran over to find out if I was okay. I am already starting to tremble with symptoms of withdraw. I know of no other bakery that makes almond cups. Believe me I have searched in the wee hours of the morning when the cravings become unbearable, but NO ONE makes almond cups except for Hesh's. Do you know I gave away 2 almond cups this week thinking I could get more??? What was I thinking???? Never again! All mine! Freeze, freeze is my new motto! Always have a stock pile in case of an emergency.

Next week is going to be pure hell. But you know, maybe this is just what I needed--a week of no almond cups imposed upon me. Maybe this will snap me back into shape. I'll start exercising again, be full of energy instead of being in this sugary fog of either having just finished an almond cup or in the haze of craving another. I'll sew more, Mr. R's and my relationship will deepen. I'll have more real relationships with my friends instead of always pushing almond cups on them.

Uh, Don't think so... I will just count the days until Hesh's re-opens and I can get my fix.

Baci e abbracci

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Finding Inspiration in Unusual Places

One Tuesday per month we have an 'all staff' meeting. Each meeting has a different agenda which has included curator led tours of exhibitions--which is the best way to see an exhibition. Today there was something a little different. One of the agenda items was a self-led tour of some of our students' studios. 

The first studio that I visited gave me a new idea on design. This student paints while she watches movies. These small paintings appear to be a blur of a scene from the movie--patches of color. Immediately I thought about quilts and/or patchwork. This would be a great way to design quilts. I've always liked taking photos of things with pattern and thought taking photos for color and pattern might be a way to get new design ideas.

I started with my cell phone camera, and took this picture of the soda machine.

I played with it while waiting for the train with Snapseed and then a little more when I got home with Photoshop Elements. I am going to make a few prints and play with it some more.

This was a photo I took near the bakery a few weeks ago. I passed this wall of tiles hundreds of times and never noticed it before. I think this could also inspire a nice quilt design.

I know lots of people use the camera for their design ideas, but as a knitter I did not find the camera very useful. As a quilter who wishes to create original designs I think it can be extremely useful.

Baci e abbracci...

Monday, March 4, 2013

Those of you that knit probably know the terms "tinking" and "frogging." For those of you that do not knit, "tinking" or k-n-i-t backwards is ripping back while the work is still on the needle stitch by stitch. "Frogging" or "rip-it, rip-it" is taking the work off the needle and ripping back by unraveling row by row. If there is not already a word equal to "frogging" in quilting I must come up with one. Ripping out seams is bad enough, but ripping out rows of machine stitching from a quilt top, batting and back is awful. And by the way, I will take frogging a piece of knitting over ripping out a machine sewn seam any day! In knitting, once you get over having made the mistake and decide to rip it out--for me at least--that is the worst of it. I unravel, rewind the yarn, and start knitting again. With quilting, seeing the mistake is only the beginning because the actual ripping out of the seam is the worst part.

I quilted half of the quilt and did not like half of that on the back. It was puckering, so after trying unsuccessfully to talk myself into it looking okay, I took the quilt, an audio book, and my seam ripper to the bed and with as much resignation as I could muster, started ripping out the quilting. What a set-back. And even though I know everyone has these moments, I could not help berating myself and seriously considering selling everything I have that has to do with knitting and quilting and really get into watching TV and reading books.

The problem is I do not like much on TV and need to keep my hands busy because I get bored. I do sometimes wonder what would happen if I could no longer knit or sew, as it is what I think about and do all of the time that I am not working. I know our savings account would be bigger. I would probably find something else to spend money on like clothes and jewelry--silly, meaningless stuff. Nothing that I will look back at and think I made that with my hands for someone I care about.

So as I slowly come around to thinking that this does not mean I am a talentless slog, spending money and time on some stupid hobby that I am no good at, I am taking tonight off and hoping to wake early tomorrow morning to put in a half hour at the machine before work because the worst is over with and the quilt is re-pinned and ready for me to continue quilting.

I think the term I will use from now on--if I remember it--is quogging: frogging for quilts. Hopefully, I will not have to use it too often.

To use all but one word of a quote from a famous knitter, Elizabeth Zimmermann:

Quilt on with confidence and hope in all crises.

Baci e abbracci...

Sunday, March 3, 2013

You may have noticed a few new blogs on my sidebar. I have found new inspiration and since I am not drawing at this time, deleted the blogs that do not interest me right now. The list was just getting too long. In finding new quilters/artists I also found new techniques--well new to me. 

Quilt As You Go (QAYG) is not exactly new to me, but I have never really considered it before. It seems like a viable process, especially when you have a small studio, with no space to support a large quilt, but it just looks like more work than the traditional method of piecing and quilting.

The fun part for me is piecing--I guess I am not alone there. Picking the colors and fabrics is also a lot of fun. Cutting is backbreaking--literally--and I cannot do it all in one session. It is also mega boring. I like piecing because I like sitting at the sewing machine. NOTE: If you can afford to purchase a small cutting mat with the padding on the reverse side and the Rowenta Travel Iron,--do it. It allows you to keep a pressing board and iron at the side of your sewing machine which absolutely speeds things up and is less tiring than getting up to press each seam. This expense of about $100 really improved my quilting world. 

I hate pinning the backing and batting to the quilt top because it scares me. I have an oval dining room table and the quilts never fit properly so I was always afraid that I would make an error pinning. I did purchase the interlocking tiles that are sold to soften cement floors, which I will lay down on the carpeting for this task. See below as I used them for the first time today.

I do enjoy quilting, but again don't have the space next to the machine to take the weight of the quilt so it gets cumbersome. The QAYG method just seems to make it easier to quilt without the size of the cumbersome quilt, but adds so much more work and room for error when sewing the blocks together it may not worth the risk for me.

Here is a week's worth of work. I am so proud to say that because I am ready to quilt. I probably starting piecing the top last Friday night or Saturday morning before my class. It is (16) 10.5" square blocks that will be a 40" x 40" baby quilt for a little boy. It is from the same jelly roll and solids as Free-form #1 as the original intention was to make 2 baby quits for twin girls. Instead I made one for a boy. It will be backed in green and bound in the red--I think. I am pleased with the time it took to get to this point and the result.

A view like this makes me wish I had this distance for my design wall.


Off to the sewing machine... Baci e abbracci