Saturday, December 31, 2011

Productivity in 2011

I took a few minutes to go over my blog entries from this past year while the boys were playing Lego Harry Potter on the wii.  Wow, it was a really productive year!  And, I am so glad that I took the time to document (almost) everything via this blog.

I started the year out sewing a lot of bags and wallets.  While I still love making them, there's only so many bags a girl can use.  And there's only so many people to gift them to.  The irony is that I usually carry only a small black leather wallet by Hobo that zips all the way around.  I've used the same wallet for about 15 years now, and it still looks great.  Go Hobo!

Gray corduroy bucket bag.
This was all interspersed with lots piecing and by year's end I have made numerous blocks for several different projects.

Farmer's Wife Quilt-Along
I completed three quilts in their entirety and practiced some free motion quilting as well as straight-line quilting.  And, I finished piecing a long-standing UFO, my Bliss Sampler, which I started in October 2010.

Punctuation Quilt, the last of three quilts finished, and the topic of my 100th blog post!
Surprisingly, I completed a number of knitting projects as well.  I finished two cardigans, a baby blanket, and three hats.  Not bad, considering I had seriously lost my knitting mojo over the past year or more.

Leaflet Cardigan in Eco Wool.
So, I am ending the year with these two projects.  The first picture is the sixth installation of the Designer Mystery Block of the Month.

Block Six - "Tulip Festival" by Margot Languedoc.

The second picture is a sneak peak of a quilt top I've been piecing together at a rather frenzied pace.  I started it just a few days before Christmas, when I should have been working on finishing up Christmas presents.  I might have finished it before today, except I ran out of background fabric just short of half a yard. I will post the full details next time when I finish the top.

Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Star Fish Hat in Red Wool

I finished this hat a couple of weeks ago but didn't have time to photograph it. It was a really quick project knit in a basic worsted weight red wool (Paton's Classic Merino Wool).  The pattern is from the book "60 Quick Knits." 

The semi-slouchy silhouette is cute.
My favorite part of the hat is definitely the starfish motif on the crown.  I think if I knit the hat again, I might try to omit the bobbles though.  It's a fine design element, but I have never been very good at making bobbles.  The bobbles in the pattern look round and plump, where mine always turn out flat and misshapen.

Star fish motif on the crown of the hat.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas Prezzies

These wallets/phone cases were the only presents I managed to make this year, and I was only able to complete three out of five at that.  Thus, the older nieces will have to wait for theirs.  I don't think they'll be too sad. :)

The pattern is the Zippered Pocket Pouch by the talented Keyka Lou.  The main compartment is big enough to comfortably hold an I-phone, and there is a zippered pocket for everything else.  Love it!

Happy Holidays!

All three wallets lined up.

Zipper detail; fabric by Kokka.
Flap closure detail; fabric by Kokka.

Full pouch detail; fabric is red cotton ticking.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Bliss Sampler Top - Finished!

I was so close to being done piecing this top for a very long time, but I was stuck on the flying geese border.  So, approximately 136 flying geese and two borders later, I am finally done piecing this thing!

Full quilt top on a king size bed.
The pattern is from Lynette Jensen's Thimbleberries Block by Block to Beautiful Quilts.  Each block ended up being 12 inches finished, but the borders sized the quilt up to queen/king sized.  The book itself is kinda country-ish in the feel of its projects, so I used a brighter color palette than suggested. 

One of my favorite blocks.
The fabrics are all from Bonnie and Camille's Bliss collection, which I just love.  These cuts were the ones available at my LQS when I first began selecting fabrics for this quilt.  Since then, I've been able to obtain a few more (understatement) prints.  I'm also hoarding this year's collection, Ruby, and will hopefully debut something from that collection as well.

Flying geese border.
My next challenge will be how to quilt this thing.  It's huge!  I don't know if I can do it on my domestic machine, so maybe now is the time to break out and send it to a professional quilter.  It would be lovely to get some custom quilting, but I'm balking at how much it will cost.  It makes me wonder how places like the Pottery Barn and Garnet Hill can sell "hand made" quilts for a few hundred bucks.

Border detail.
I'm glad I forced myself to finish this top.  I started cutting for my next project, an idea which has been on my mind for several months now.  Happy quilting!

Another pretty block.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Designer Mystery BOM - Blocks 3 & 4

Just one more block to go and then I'll be caught up...just in time for this month's block to arrive.  For more information on this block-of-the-month program, go to the Fat Quarter Shop.

Block 3 - "Pretty Pansy," by Carrie Nelson.
I'm a big Carrie Nelson fan, although I haven't actually made any of her quilt patterns.  I do have plans to make a couple of quilts from Schnibbles Times Two and Another Bite of Schnibbles.  But first, gotta get the holiday sewing started, as well as some birthday stuff.

Block 4 - "Rose Buds," by Anne Sutton.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

My 100th Post!!

Somehow the month of November passed me by, and I didn't even realize it. It probably had something to do with work and then traveling to Sacramento for a week to visit the in-laws.  Thus this is my long-delayed 100th post!

I can hardly believe it.  I've been able to stick with this blog for four years now!  Reviewing my old posts, I can see how my interests have morphed over the years.  What does remain constant is the borderline obsessive-compulsive personality behind these interests!

OK, now on to sewing.  I finally finished quilting and binding this quilt top, which I just gifted to by youngest.  He is turning five on Monday, yippee!

I went a little overboard on the pics, but I just loved putting this quilt together so much.  I wanted to be able to document all the things I liked about it.  I originally posted about the details here.  The pattern for this quilt is called "Jitterbug," from Layer Cake, Jelly Roll & Charm Quilts by Pam and Nicky Lintott.  The fabric is Punctuation by American Jane, and the background is my favorite Kona in snow.  

"Simple" was the guiding theme when I first considered the quilting.  I started by outlining each of the quilt blocks.  Mr. Elvy then suggested I do a diagonal grid through the center squares, which turned out awesome.  

Then I couldn't resist doing a little FMQ.  I tried not to be too ambitious, as I was with this quilt.  I wanted to complete the quilting as quickly as I could, so I could move on to other projects.  I stitched little boxes around each patterned rectangle along the border, and then did the wavy line on the white background border areas by tracing lines drawn about one-half inch apart.  I think it turned out quite well.

I completed the binding by machine stitching both the front and the back of the binding with a walking foot.  I love this method of attaching the binding -- it is so much faster than hand-stitching.

Here are a few more gratuitous pictures.  This is how the binding looks like from the front.  Once the quilt is laundered, the stitch-in-the ditch seam in the front all but disappears.

The backing is also from American Jane, although I can't think of the name of the line off the top of my head.  It included a bunch of chickens.

Finally, here's a full picture of the quilt.  It's big enough to fit a twin-sized bed, and I was able to make up No. 2's bed this morning with it. 

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Zip Pocket Pouch - Love It!

I was really excited when Keyka Lou began posting the prototypes for this wallet.  The little zipper pocket was exactly what I was looking for, so when the pattern came up for purchase...

So here is my first attempt.  It all came together very well, but I had some trouble with zipper.  I scrapped the zipper foot I was using and just used my general sewing foot, which seemed to solve the problem.  I also made a mistake and forgot to insert the lining piece in the zipper pocket, so when you open it you see the wrong side of the focus fabric.  I can live with that for now, but will definitely pay more attention the next time around.

This wallet is petite, just 4.5 inches wide by 3.25 tall.  I couldn't quite slip my i-phone in the main pocket, but if I widened it by just a smidge...That said, the pattern includes three sizes: this smallest version; a tall, narrow one that will surely fit my phone; and a bigger version of this one that I just made.

Some notes on the fabrics, you need two pieces measuring approximately 12" x 12".  These pieces are from my scrap bin, so the only item I sprung for was the zipper.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Blogger's BOM - Vol. 2

See my first post for the deets on my version of the Blogger's BOM quilt-along, as well as the Blogger's BOM button on the sidebar.  This block was designed by Vicki Welsh of Field Trips in Fiber, and the directions for the block can be found here.

Blogger's BOM - Block 2

I liked this block immensely, but I'm not sure about my fabric choices.  If I have time, I might re-do the block with a white background (seriously, who am I kidding?!).

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Designer Mystery BOM - Block 2

This was a very unproductive week sewing-wise.  This block was the only thing I managed to complete:

Block 2 - "Promise of Spring"
Pictures don't do these blocks justice in terms of how complicated the design is and how many steps are involved in piecing .This one, in particular, came together so neatly but did take me a while (an entire week) to complete.

See my first post for the deets.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Designer Mystery Block-of-the-Month: Installment One

This is my first ever block-of-the-month program.  It's so exciting when when the kit arrives in the mail each month, like a little surprise, because you don't know what the block will look like or who designed it until it arrives on your doorstep. 

This is Block 1, called "Sweet Pea," designed by Bonnie Olaveson and Camille Roskelley.

I chose this program for the fabric, Strawberry Fields. I absolutely love this line but am kinda bummed that I didn't order the finishing kit right off. As far as I can tell, it's now sold out, as I can't find it on the store website, but I'll keep my eyes out for it. This BOM is offered exclusively by The Fat Quarter Shop, details here.

Getting better at piecing -- my corners are mostly spot-on!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

On Habitat and Economy

This is my third Habitat by Brooklyn Tweed.  If it hasn't become apparent by now, I love this pattern.  This time it only took me about a week to knit, although I had to knit it almost twice.  I started with a left-over ball of Princess in a beautiful orange-red -- I had just a little less than one ball, maybe about 130 yards where the pattern calls for 135 yards for the M/L size.  I ran out of yarn with just about half an inch left of the crown.  So I ripped the whole thing out and knit the S/M size.  I had about two yards of yarn left.

I won't say I regret my effort at economy -- after all, I ended up with another hat and absolutely no wasted yarn!  The only downside was I lost about a week's worth of knitting time.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Not much sewing, but so many options

I've been busy with work the past two weeks so haven't had much time to sew.  I hate it when life gets in the way of sewing!  And it's always when I'm at my busiest that I see all sorts of interesting quilt-alongs getting started.  Here are just some that have piqued my interest...

Sew Bittersweet Design's Vintage Christmas Sampler

Charming Chatter's Studly & The Mrs. Quilt

Sew Sweetness's 12 Days of Christmas Sampler

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Blogger's Block-of-the-Month and More Swoon (Second Edition)

Canton Village Quilt Works

I thought I'd try this quilt-along.  It looks much more my speed, only one block per month.  So here is my first block, designed by Sherry McConnell of A Quilting Life:

Blogger's BOM - Block 1
I'm using a layer cake, Just Wing It, by MoMo for Moda.  This was a very simple block that I whipped up pretty quickly, and I think the fabrics will work quite well.

Last, a couple of more Swoon blocks -- I'm up to six now:

Swoon - Block 5

Swoon - Block 6

Leaflet Cardi in Eco Wool

With the cooler weather setting in, I've gotten back into knitting. There are several things I love about knitting. First, the yarn: I.LOVE.YARN. Wool yarn. Almost as much as I love fabric. Second, the portability of knitting is a big plus, especially when you're following two boys around pretty much everywhere. I have a framed knitting bag that holds all my knitting supplies, including needles of every possible size, all in one location. Third, I love the process -- there's something rhythmic and relaxing to knitting, but it requires just enough concentration to occupy one's mind to be an absorbing past time.

Now, to the project. This is Leaflet, from Knitty.  If you have never heard of Knitty, it is an on-line knitting magazine that offers free patterns from independent (a lot of them very commercially successful) knit-wear designers.  This cardi is my fourth or fifth Knitty project, and I've liked all of them.

I knit this cardi in record time, based on a combination of a fairly simple pattern and big aran-weight wool yarn.  I think it took me about two to three weeks of sporadic knitting in the evenings.

When I asked my boys if they liked the leaflet pattern in the back, they told me the top one looked like a Clone trooper helmet, so this is also nicknamed my Star Wars tribute sweater.  I'm not sure I see it, but I'll take their word for it.

The yarn is a 100% Peruvian Highland wool called Eco+ Wool by Cascade Yarns. It was actually frogged from another (very complicated) project that was two-thirds completed, then I put it away for a while and was hopelessly lost when I tried to figure out where I was in the pattern.

I think I might knit this again as a long-sleeved cardi without the motif in the back.  That's how much I like it!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Stripey Knit T-Shirt

All of my t-shirts have stains on them.  Not kidding, it's disgusting.  My husband thinks I'm crazy, because I'm the only one who notices, until I point it out.  I'm not a sloppy eater, but sometimes forget to put on an apron while cooking and doing dishes.  So my goals for this fall it to sew up a few t-shirts and wear an apron while doing chores.  I know I could probably buy t-shirts for much less than it will cost to make them, but I'm really on the quest for the PERFECT t-shirt pattern.

I used the Creative Workshop 303, Women's Best Tops by Ottobre.  This one is a little snug, but it's a start.  Next time I make it, I will make it a couple of sizes larger, I think.

I cut the color piece on the bias to mix up the stripes a little. I also used a knit fusible tape to stabilize the shoulder and collar seams, as well as the hems. I've never had much success with sewing knits -- I hated the wavy seams -- but I think using the stretchy fusible tape did the trick.

The Six-Year Knitting UFO -- Finished!

This baby blanket has been in my pile of UFOs for so long, I only have remote memories of the details. I started it about five or six years ago, when a friend announced she was having her second baby.  Well, the birth came and went, obviously, and the blanket sat for many years mostly finished.  Recently, I needed the size 7 circular needles that the blanket was on, so I forced myself to knit the two rows that required fixing.  It took all of half an hour, which is the story of my life and many defunct projects. 

I do remember the pattern came from a book (that narrows it down, huh?), but flipping through my knitting pattern books, I couldn't come up with the pattern. The yarn is a 100% cotton worsted weight, either by Rowan or Debbie Bliss.

Detail of intarsia color work.

I knitted the rows straight across on a size 7 needle, using intarsia knitting.  I don't like color work much, because of all the skeins of yarn left hanging about during the knitting process, so this was about as complicated I was going to get with color knitting.

This is a seed stitch heart detail, but it didn't show up well in the picture.
If I come across the pattern, I'll definitely post it so I can add it to my Ravelry page as well.  I have another cardi finished but still damp from blocking so I'll post on that next time.

I like the color combinations of gold, red, cream, pink and blues.
The blanket is now destined for a fundraising auction for No. 2's former preschool.  I almost hate to part with it, because the yarn was so expensive and the knitting so tedious -- in addition to not liking color work, I don't like knitting with cotton.  But, my peer group is getting to the point where we're not having very many babies any more.  Plus, it's going to a great cause.