Thursday, February 28, 2013

Remember to comment if you want to be entered into the drawing!

I will draw for the Jan Patek Block-of-the-Month patterns shortly after noon tomorrow.  I want to get those patterns plus the others I've promised into the mail tomorrow.  So if you want to enter, be sure to comment on this post.

Right now there are 10 comments, but only 8 of those are entered because I have no way to contact two of the people who commented.  One chance in 8 is very good odds!

I did manage to do the machine stitching on one binding today - the Friendship Garden quilt.  I'm still madly shifting and reordering things.  I'll be so glad when that is done!

Here is the last Civil War Diary block for February.  This makes a total of 9.  I'm shooting for an average of 10 each month until completion - so I need to get 11 done in March.

I'll leave you with a picture of today's socks.  The sock knitting world calls these "plain vanilla" socks because they are straight stockinette stitch with a short rib at the top.  They are anything but plain, however, because of the wonderfully colorful self-striping yarn.  This isn't the best picture of the colors - they are more muted in actuality.  It's almost 9:30 p.m. here and the only way to get true colors is outside in daylight.  It's yarn like this that drew me back to knitting and to learning to make socks.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

This WASN'T part of my no-buy pledge

You probably didn't notice, but there was one thing I didn't pledge not to buy - quilt history books.  I don't consider them pattern books - they are purely for inspiration.  And for reading of quilt history.  I know some of you are as addicted to these books as I am.  I hadn't bought any for about 3 years, so I had a bit of catching up to do.

Here is what the mail carrier brought to my door today:

Five beautiful books with quilt history information.  These will be great bedtime reading for the next two to three weeks.

I can access all my fabric!

So all is right in my world.  I found two shelves of tans, whites, off-whites, backgrounds, etc. that I'd completely forgotten were in bins.  Since I started quilting again I kept thinking I had more to choose from than what I could find, but figured I was dreaming.  Turns out I wasn't!

There was no way the 30's fabrics were going to fit on the shelves so I didn't even try.  But now they are all easily accessible instead of buried.  The big blue bin has my wool stash - also easily reached.  My favorite weight yarns are in the drawers and easy to reach.  My current knitting projects are just to the right inside the closet door.  All my fiber is upstairs and in tubs in the corner of the bedroom.

I didn't think I could organize this well for three hobbies, but I did it!  Now it is back to rearranging books.  All my knitting books are on the floor in the computer room, waiting for  me to donate the rest of the romance novels.

Moving day - or should I say reorganization day?

Yesterday I quickly that two of the five quilts needing binding needed 30's fabrics.  And where are my 30's fabrics?  In the closet under the stairs - of course!  And how far back in the closet?  All the way to the very end.  So I decided if I had to pull all the tubs and baskets out of the closet I might as well reorganize everything.  

A flashlight is necessary to see what all is back there.  All these tubs are full of fabrics.

There is room to open only a few at a time.
In addition to 30's fabrics, I want plaids back on the shelves, too.  So I sorted through the yarn, decided what I'd need for the next 1-2 years of knitting, and put that yarn under the longarm.  The rest of the yarn is going in bins deep in the closet to age to perfection.  Since I'm quilting most of the time, I figured I probably wouldn't be starting new sweaters, so sweater quantities are what I'm putting away.

Of course the yarn must be moved off the shelves before the fabric can go on.  And the fabric must come out of the tubs before the yarn can go in.  This means the floor is covered with bins and yarn and the cutting table is rapidly becoming covered with fabrics.

It is a slow process.  Why is it making me so tired that I have to rest every half hour or so?  I know - the fabric is heavy.  And I'm sure I must have been at least 10 years younger when I moved it into the closet 3 years ago!

How did I accumulate so much fabric?   (Even more mysterious - how could I possibly have accumulated this much yarn?) 

Even 2-3 years ago it didn't all fit on my shelves.  This calls for drastic measures.  I'm going to put the fabrics I'm unlikely to use in the near future - novelties, and bright non-reproduction fabrics for the most part - into baskets and put them in an accessible place in the closet.  I'm hoping this will make room for everything I want on my shelves.  Of course, that doesn't include all the quilt kits I have in tubs under the longarm upstairs.  I'm afraid to look in them LOL!

Now I remember!  Three years ago I met my Weight Watcher goal.  Three years ago I was 15 pounds lighter (I'm working on it!  I've lost 10 pounds since January.)  Three years ago I was fairly active.  I don't remember the last time I went to the gym.)

I got the doctor's final OK on my hand this morning - no more restrictions other than wearing my brace if lifting heavy things.  Fantastic!  I can go back to knitting socks.  Even more fantastic, I can now start swimming again.  That will certainly help me lose these last 15 pounds and give me more energy.

If I can just force myself out of the sewing room.

Give away clarification

This morning someone left me a comment on the Give Away.  I have the person's name, but otherwise they are anonymous.  No email, no way to contact them, so they are not eligible to win.

If you want to win you must be able to be contacted individually.  The best way to do that is to register with Blogger and become a "follower" of my blog.  

Thanks everyone!  I hope to get lots more comments by Friday!

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

A quick note about comment verification

A few people asked why I had comment verification on my blog, which made it difficult  for them to comment using their phone or tablet.  So I took it off.  Since then I've had a bunch of spam comments, only some of which have been caught by the spam filter on Blogger.  I know I could set comments to be approved, but I'd rather sew than sit at the computer approving comments.  So I'm putting the comment verification back on.

I apologize to those of you who find it hard to comment because of this - I wish there was another solution that worked for me.  I hope you will still be able to post comments you want to make.


Gayle suggested that I not allow anonymous comments instead of reinstating word verification.  Thanks Gayle - I'll give that a try!

Another give away

I have another pattern to give away.  Actually, it is 12 patterns.  The quilt is Jan Patek's 2009 Mystery Quilt, called "Cabin in the Pines" that I showed in this post.  If you like primitive patterns, then you will really like this one.  It can be made as designed, or separate blocks can be made into mini quilts.

Please leave me a comment if you would like to win.  I will determine the winner this coming Friday - I will try to be on time this time!

Please pass the message on to your blogging friends.  I'm hoping to encourage people to visit my blog.  One more requirement - you must be a follower of my blog on "Blogger" in order to win.

Good luck everyone!

I have a winner!

Sorry everyone.  I know I said I'd pick the winner on Saturday.  I got so involved with the DWD blocks I forgot.  Until today.

There were 8 comments from people wanting the doll pattern.  I used an online number generator, which chose comment #3.  Congratulations, sewcalico, you are the winner!  Please send me your full name and address so I can get these in the mail to you.

I'm going to post another give away in a few minutes.  Stay tuned . . .  .

Shifting focus

As much as I love making the CWD blocks I find the going slow.  Today I'm in need of accomplishing more than a few blocks, so I'm switching to binding.  I enjoy the binding process, and my quilts are usually bound right after they are quilted.  These, however, have sat around since coming home from the quilter, as I was too busy knitting and spinning.  Their time has come!  I've included close-ups of the quilting so you can see how beautiful it is.  These were all quilted by Val Pellens, a member of Clark County Quilts, who, I'm sorry to say, has retired from quilting.

These are some of my oldest tops.  You will know immediately by the fabrics used - certainly not what I use today.  The first two are class samples from when I taught quilting at Daisy Kingdom in Portland, Oregon a LONG time ago.  The Asian Feathered Star was made in 1994, the pink and green in 1995.  I used a pattern from a very old Quiltmaker magazine which is now long gone so I don't know the date.

This quilt from 30's reproductions is called "Gaggle of Geese".  I made it in a class with Linda Ballard in 2001.  I wanted feathers in all the white areas, and in spite of much practice my machine-sewn feathers are abysmal, which is why I sent this one out to be quilted.  She did an amazing job.

This quilt is made from authentic 30's and 40's fabrics I inherited from my paternal grandmother, who died before I was born.  She gave the pieced arcs and melons to my mother, who never quilted, and therefore passed them along to me.  She was very old when she made them, and they didn't lay flat.  Much of the muslin was stained from being stored.  Many of the fabrics were so thin and loosely woven that I could almost see through them.  I picked them completely apart, used new muslin and a new solid pink (keeping to her color scheme), tossed all the flimsy fabric, and recut each piece.  The stitched them all back together using my featherweight (hers had been hand pieced with almost no seam allowance).  I pieced this in 1993.

Val didn't quilt anything in the arcs, so I'm going to do that myself before I call it done.  They are way too poofy compared to the muslin areas.

I thought I'd posted about this quilt before, but apparently not.  I must be thinking of my old Yahoo Groups days when I participated in a bunch of different quilting groups.  It's one of my most favorite quilts.  "Friendship Garden", designed by Alma Allen and Cherie Ralston.  I completed this top in 2004, but many of the fabrics are MUCH older than that.  Wow, it sure doesn't seem that long ago!  Since this is my favorite, I'm going to bind this first.

Monday, February 25, 2013


Socks are what caused my two-year detour away from quilting.  Specifically, hand knitted socks.  If you've never had the luxury of wearing a pair of hand knitted socks then you have no idea what you are missing.  I'll never go back to store-bought socks again.  These hug my feet like a second skin, are cozy warm, and fit perfectly.  There are literally thousands of sock patterns available, from simple "Plain Vanilla" to fancy lace, colorwork and fair isle, cables and twisted stitches and more.  I always have a pair of socks on my needles - right now I have 12 pair!

Of course, having beautiful socks necessitated buying new shoes.  Shoes a bit bigger to make room for cushy socks.  Shoes that leave some of the foot bare so the socks show.  I'm even thinking about making myself some long jumper dresses so the socks show below the hem!

I've decided to include a sock a day here on my blog, which should inspire me to get back to those 12 pair on my needles!

Today's socks, which I call "Blue Lagoon", were designed by my knitting friend Betsy McCarthy.  Her sock book, both the old and new edition, are two of the many sock books in my library.  This design, which she calls "Peaks and Valleys" is a simple two row ribbed lace pattern that I've done several times.  The yarn is ONline Supersock 100.

My user name on Ravelry is "hardenbrookgirl".  How many of you knit?  How many have knitted socks?  They are SO much fun to make - and quick!

Beware if you make this quilt

The foundation for the last block in row 1 is also incorrect.  The block has 5 bars in each quarter-section; the foundation shows 6 bars.  Luckily I noticed shortly after I began sewing this one.  So I measured the book pattern and cut the strips as closely as I could to that measurement.  I'm sure glad I noticed the error!

Greenfield and Stockton

Rachel's Frustration

The first row of blocks is finished!  When I worked on blocks before, I just jumped around the book, at the same time making blocks from Civil War Love Letters.  I want to start sewing it together, so now I'm focusing on finishing each row.  I need that sashing fabric soon!

Did anyone finish this quilt?

While working on the blocks for Civil War Diary, it occurred to me that I'd never seen a picture of this completed quilt in blogland.  Obviously I'm not the only one who is or has made it, so I did a google search.  I found great looking quilts - and new-to-me bloggers.

Scroll down to find this quilt.  What magnificent quilting on the border!  Simple but effective.  Interesting layout for fewer blocks.  Several pictured here - I love the triangle squares used for cornerstones in the second quilt.  I think I'll use that idea also.  These are just a few of the many images I found in my search.

Have any of you seen this quilt in blogland or made one of your own?  Anyone working on the quilt?  Please leave me a comment with a link to appropriate pictures and posts.

In the meantime, I have two more blocks done.  I completed "Battle of Springfield" last night.  I've learned the hard way - when I'm making long, skinny foundation-pieced flying geese parts (like those found in this block) I need to cut my pieces EXTRA large.  Took me three tries cutting pieces in order to finish.  By then my foundation was hardly hanging together I'd ripped out so many times.  All 20 stitches to the inch, which I use to "perforate the paper" for easy removal.  It was worth the effort - I like the block.

Alvin McClure was comparatively easy.  No foundation, easily ruler-cut pieces.  I know you've heard the carpenter's adage "measure twice, cut once" which obviously applies to quilters too.  I don't have trouble with that one, so I made up my own.  "Check the block layout 3 times, and sew it together no more than two times with one frogging.  Check the block layout 4 times and maybe you can sew it together right on the first try."

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Another Diary block

This one is appropriately called "Anxieties".  At times I felt quite anxious while piecing this.  The narrow stripes are only 1/4"!  I can't imagine trying to do this any way other than foundation piecing.  Even that was a long, tedious affair.  But I love the block - it is a very cool block!  My corner triangles were a bit skimpy, but there is still plenty of seam allowance for sewing the blocks together.

I was disappointed when finished, however, to discover that the foundation did not match the block in the original quilt.  One of the things I love about the blocks in this quilt is the way they continually surprise.  Part will be turned a different way than one expects.  This block is regular - everything turned just so.  But look at the block in the book - it is not regular at all.  If I'd noticed this before sewing on the red triangles I could have adjusted things, but I trusted that the foundation was correct.  I wish my block looked like the one in the book.  But not enough that I'm going to do it over again.

I've started thinking about what I might use for the sashing in this quilt.  The original used a plain off-white for all the light in the blocks as well as sashing.  I've used shirtings throughout - I really love the look of shirtings.  I don't have enough of any one shirting fabric to use for sashing.  Looks like I'll need a trip to the quilt shop with my blocks to find a shirting that makes the blocks sing.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Do you suffer from quilter's dyslexia?

I know I do.  No matter how carefully I lay out a block - even right next to me while I sit at the machine - I manage to turn at least one piece the wrong way.  In this block it was four pieces.  Plus an even larger piece.  I took the four half-square triangle squares off the corner because once the block was together I noticed that all four of them were turned wrong.  While I was taking those apart I noticed that one of the flying geese was upside down.  At least I discovered that before I'd sewn the whole block back together.

So leave me a comment on this post if you suffer from this also - I'd love to get an idea of how many of us there are out in Quiltland.

Here I was feeling so smug, thinking how quick and easy this block was going together.  Normal sized pieces that are easy to measure with a ruler marked in 1/8" increments.  I can hear my mother telling me now, "Pride goeth before a fall".  The block is finished, the pieces are going in the right directions and the block is too small.  It will work - I'll make it work by using tiny stitches and a narrow seam allowance.  Apparently the little squares really don't finish at 1" square, even though that's what they measured in the book.  I measured the book drawing across one side of the inner square, and it measures 4 1/4".  Not sure how that happens because the little squares measure an inch.

Guess I should have paper pieced this block after all.  Maybe I should do it again.  The closer I look the worse the piecing looks.  Would you use this one or would you do it again?  I'm always fighting against being a perfectionist, but my gut says do it again.  

Please let me know in a comment - the same one that answers my first question - would you do this over again?

Edited to add:  I remade the block, using paper piecing.  The squares measure 1 1/16" each.  I draw the line when it comes to measurements that small - I'll only piece blocks that measure in 1/8" inch increments.  It is the right size, intersections are accurate and looks much better.  I'm so glad I redid it.  Into the orphan drawer with the first one.

Hungry Soldiers

My DH isn't a soldier, but I'm sure he is hungry.  It's past 6 pm and it's taken me all afternoon to piece "Hungry Soldiers".  Now I remember why I'm not crazy about paper piecing!

I do like the way the block turned out.

Civil War Diary Quilt

I've done about an hour of housework - I need a quilting fix in order to continue LOL!

What happens when you take a 2 year break from quilting . . . .

1. You forget you have a new computer that doesn't have EQ on it.
2. You forget you need EQ installed in order to print paper foundations for this quilt.
3. You try to install EQ 6 - the newest version you have.
4. You forget you need to have EQ 5 installed in order to install the EQ 6 update.
5. You forget how to use EQ at all!
6. You finally get everything installed on your new computer, take an EQ refresher by skimming one of your many EQ books, and you manage to print one block.
7. The look of the printed foundation looks familiar.  You think maybe you have something like this already printed and in a tote under your longarm.
8. You find the large stack of printed pages - yes, those are just what you want.
9. You go nuts trying to match the printed pages with the blocks in the book - yes, the printed pages have labels like "Row 1-8", but the pages in the book have block names.  You must look through all the pages to figure out which block "belongs" to each printed foundation.

At this point you give up - procrastination again - and fix yourself some lunch.

I decided I really needed to see all the blocks I'd finished in order to choose fabrics for the new blocks.  So I took all the junk off the design wall and put up the blocks.  They already look pretty impressive, don't you think?  You can see the details better if you enlarge the picture by clicking on it.

Upon seeing them I decided to change the fabrics I'd pulled for the next block.  (I decided to identify one block at a time when I am ready to sew it - less frustrating!)  These aren't even half the blocks - I'm definitely going to run out of design wall space!

In the meantime I brought my stack of quilts needing binding down from the longarm room.  I keep shifting them from place to place to get them out of the way, but I'm leaving them where I can see them so I don't forget they need to be done.

Today needs to be a house day . . .

There is dirty laundry on the bedroom floor and the sheets need changing.  The laundry baskets in the garage are already overflowing.  The dining room table is covered with "stuff" that needs to be dealt with.  I need to get something out of the freezer to cook for dinner.

So what am I doing?  Procrastinating by reading email, blogs, and other quilty stuff on the computer.  And now I'm posting.  That is the last thing I'm going to do before getting to the stuff I should be doing.

Last night after I finished the quilt top and put the remaining fabric away, I took out my hand quilting.  It has been sitting in the corner for awhile calling to me, "I'm over half done!  Why don't you finish me?"  It's been at least 3-4 years since I did any hand quilting, and at first it seemed a bit clumsy.  My fingers had forgotten how.  After so many years I thought my hands would always have muscle memory for that process.  It returned after a half hour or so - thank goodness!

This is an OLD quilt top - 2002.  It's a Jo Morton design called "Emma's Quilt".  I took a class with Jo at a local "primitive" event.  It's amazing to see how my color sense has grown; this seems so very plain now with such few fabrics.  The fabric was old when I made the top, and not nearly as good in quality as I use now.  It still deserves to be finished.

I'm currently "quilting in the ditch", which I hate to do.  That's probably why this has sat unfinished for so long.  Once I finish this red and cream triangle border the outside border is all that is left.  I'm determined to push on to the finish.

I think I've settled on the fabrics I want to use for this quilt.  Do you remember this quilt top?  I made it in the first of four year-long quilt history classes with Eileen Trestain.  All the fabrics I used during this top were authentic reproductions of pre-1830's fabrics.  This was a time of bright, colorful fabrics and medallion quilts.  I have an entire shelf full of fabrics left over from that class that I think will work beautifully for "Stars and Sprigs".  Many of these are lights, so if I don't have enough choices for all the leaves I will supplement with fabrics from the 1830's and 1840's eras.  I will use a plain ecru background that Eileen says is the most like fabric from those eras.  I bought an entire bolt while I was taking the class.

And I just thought of one more thing I can do - print foundations for Civil War Diaries.  So I guess I'm still procrastinating.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Holiday Inn top is finished

The quilt measures 43" square.  Designed by Jo Morton, it was part of "Jo's Little Women #8".  It feels so good to cross another project off my list and move it to the "tops to be quilted" list.

Now I need to do a bunch of cleaning and organizing before starting to sew again.  I'm moving on to Civil War Diaries, so I need to print the foundations for all the blocks I've not yet done.  Normally I would never do paper piecing, but the measurements on these blocks are all so wonky (4" divided into 5 or 7 or more equal sections) that foundation piecing is the best way to go.

I also have five quilts ready to bind that returned home from the longarmer over two years ago.  I'm going to work on those also.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Give away!

This doll pattern needs a new home.  Leave me a comment if you'd like me to send it to you.  I will use a random number generator if more than one person comments.  I'll do the drawing on Saturday.

Clothed at last

My doll making days ended sometime in the '80's, so many of my supplies have been passed on.  I found my box of ribbons, but no tiny white lace for the bottom of her dress.  I wanted blue baby rickrack for her apron, but didn't have the right color.  I can easily add those later - for now she is a simple pioneer woman with ribbons in her hair.  As she has on her apron, she must be making Sunday dinner.

I had to change her dress color - the fat quarter of red polka dot wasn't enough for the dress.  I think she was snacking on sweets as she lay hidden in the drawer, because there was no overlap on the back of the dress.  Instead of sewing on tiny snaps I literally had to pull and tug to bring the bodice together while sewing her into her dress.  The next time I'm at Joann's I'll pick up a package of blue baby rickrack and a bit of white lace.

She looks so happy sitting in the living room wing chair.  I know she is glad to be out of that drawer!

Finally after all these years . . .

My friend Kathie - "Inspired by Antique Quilts" - and I have talked about doing a project in tandem for years.  Over that time we've talked about it, tossed ideas around, but never came to a decision.  And then I "left" for two years.  I guess it just wasn't time yet.

We've decided that this year is IT.  We've chosen a project.  She has her pattern, and I'm waiting for mine to arrive.  I hope it comes fast enough for us to start the first week of March.  We are both using reproduction fabrics, but I'm sure they will still be quite different.

We chose "Stars and Sprigs" by Kim McLean.  I've admired Kim's patterns for years, but this is the first one I've purchased.  We are going to shoot for one pieced and one applique block per week.

I have a name for my quilt already - "Friends in Tandem".  I see many, many inches of tiny bias strips in my near future.  I'll have to find my bias bars.

This is going to be so much fun! 

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Three hobby mess

Here you see Lady Ashley, my first spinning wheel on the left.  She is a castle-style wheel made by Ashford in New Zealand.  The model is called "The Traveller", which is strange because she doesn't travel well.  The purple is a beautiful merino-silk that I'm spinning.  You can also see three baskets of spinning wheel bobbins.  A blue tub of fiber and fiber braids strewn on the floor is the result of choosing something to spin today.  Behnind Lady Ashley you can barely see my hand quilting project in its hoop.  My applique basket is just to the left of the fiber tub.  The large blue tub on the far right is full of sock yarn, and current knitting projects are in the basket on top of this tub.

My cutting table is covered with fabric to be cut, a quilt top, patterns for the doll dress and apron, a blue tray with a small wool project, and a notebook and folders with several years of Jo's Little Women's Club handouts.  At the far end of the table is my large drum carder, used for making carded batts from short fibers which are mostly from the sheep fleece I've purchased.  

What a mess!  If you've been reading my scribblings for a good while you know I like neatness and order while I work.  I'm certainly not achieving it here!  I wonder how long I can stand to work like this?
I never imagined I would learn to spin.  In the past I have had a few occasions to watch someone spin, and was always fascinated, but I didn't think about doing it myself.  I didn't know anyone who spun, and we certainly didn't raise sheep on our 100' x 97' lot.   Spinning just didn't occur to me.

Three years ago, when I once again took up knitting after a break of over 40 years, I started to hang out with knitters.  And when one hangs out with knitters - at least around here - one will soon discover that quite a few of them are also spinners.  One or two will bring a drop spindle to a meeting and will spin instead of knitting.  When I'd ask a knitter about the yarn used for a particular shawl or sweater I'd learn she spun the yarn itself.  I was amazed.

I started hanging out with a knitting and spinning group where more of them spun than knitted.  One of them actually taught spinning.  The longer I  watched and learned the more the idea grew on me.  So two years ago last Christmas I asked DH for spinning lessons.  And I asked for a spinning wheel of my own for my birthday once the lessons were over.  I was hooked.  That was two years ago at the beginning of April.

Now that I've been spinning for almost two years I still consider myself a beginner.  I learn something new every time I spin.  Spinning is like hand quilting in that it is almost meditational, and hours can fly by without even realizing it.

Every Wednesday morning I head north of Vancouver to Ridgefield, WA to spin with a lovely group of ladies.  (Ridgefield is where my husband taught for almost 40 years before he retired two years ago this coming June.)  We meet at the community center, which is attached to the library, and spin for 2-2 1/2 hours.  I always have a lovely time.

Me, spinning on Sir Lawrence, my second wheel. Lawrence is a folding Lendrum - my travel wheel.

Some of my spinning friends - it was a small group today.

I hold my fiber in the left hand and draft with the right hand.  I'm spinning a fine single using a semi-worsted forward draw. If you enlarge the picture you can better see what I'm doing.

The fiber is 4 oz. combed top hand dyed by DiCentra Designs - 75% Blue Faced Leicester wool 25% silk

A bit over two oz. spun in two hours.  I love these colors!

Sir Lawrence folded for travel

Carry bag tied onto luggage cart makes traveling easy