Friday, December 30, 2011

Screeching to a halt

My husband's sabbatical leave has now officially ended, so my high-level productivity will be coming to a screeching halt. sigh...I knew it would happen, but it was such a great non-semester... To wrap up my year, my friend Jane and I took a trip to Webs to check out their year-end sale. I bought their store-brand Northampton wool for two (!) sweaters. One is a beautiful pattern that I just found in the fall issue of Interweave Knits; I got a nice rich purple heathery yarn for this one, and I've already finished the tiny back-center cable inset and started the back. I also got the yarn for a nifty modular sweater pattern that I bought several years ago. Webs was discounting the yarn, so I wanted to buy it before I couldn't. I think the color that I got for the shaded yarn was the same as in the photo below, but I got a pine green to accent it instead of the black shown. I finished five octagons so far - this is slow going, but it's going to be beautiful once it's done.

Thursday, December 29, 2011


The Ood mask that I crocheted for my younger son came out terrific! I think he still wants the ball attachment, but that will only take a half hour or so when I scrounge up some white yarn. (Now I'll do it again for Child the Elder.)

Monday, December 19, 2011

Scrappy Holidays

Since I got back, I have been tackling my scrap collection (which is enormous and embarrassing, but somewhat organized by color). I've been cutting scraps for three different types of scrappy blocks, and three sizes of hexagons.

We've been pretty caught up on Dr. Who these days, so in my mind of think of the scrap hexagon quilt as "Amy Pond's quilt" (watch The Girl Who Waited and look closely at her bed if you're curious). I've been taking the effort to cut all the way down to a 1.5" square to make a "postage stamp" quilt. I'm not sure why this amuses me so...but it's a pretty neat effect.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Another Spiral

I can't stop making these things - I was eager to try one with the solids left over from my Sol Lewitt phase, so last night I got the top stitched:

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Embroidered Delights

I have had my (sadly neglected) embroidery machine humming this week. One of my favorites is this castle from a whole collection of "Dark Fairytales." The photo is a little light - this is stitched with black thread on a dark charcoal background, very subtle in its loveliness. I absolutely adore the Urban Threads site - they really have my number with their embroidery designs. I'm thinking that after I get all of these stitched out, I might assemble them into a bound, quilted (& embellished) book format. Plenty of time to let the idea stew while I finish the embroidery...

Wednesday, December 7, 2011


I saw one of these in a terrific little knitting shop in Nottingham. Holy geekdom, Batman! I could not resist it; accordingly, most of my after-dark work has been knitting for the past couple of weeks. (N.B.: This is a hush-hush project, so if you talk to my boys before Christmas, please don't mention this!)

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Chocolate Cherries

I've been wanting to make a pink & brown quilt for a while - I love that color combo - and I stumbled onto a great pattern that was actually shown in those colors. I spent the day at my friendly neighborhood FLQS cutting all the pieces for the blocks. (No triangles, no waiting.) Here's a first glimpse at my progress:

Monday, December 5, 2011

Group Quilt

We have entered that delightfully hyperkinetic time of the year when most of my projects are too super-secret to post about, so I'll take the next few weeks to catch up on a few things I've been working on that are appropriate for all audiences. I'll start with the block I made for the Newington Schoolhouse Quilters' Group Quilt, which I am coordinating this year. Usually we ask everyone to contribute blocks of the same pattern using a general type of fabric, but this year I decided to try something different: I bought eight yards of one great fabric (a fun, bright, multi-color polka-dot), and gave everyone who wanted to participate a 10 x 18" chunk. They had to use that fabric to make any block they wanted, which will then all be sewn together into a single quilt. Here's my color-wheel block, featuring my favorite-for-now hexagons; I hand-pieced these cute little one-inch hexes, then machine appliqued the whole ring onto the background:

Tonight the blocks were due, and when I brought them home from our meeting I couldn't help slapping them all up willy-nilly on my wall. Spoiler alert for NSQ members: they look SPECTACULAR!! (If you drive past my house over the next couple of days you can probably steal a peek in my window...but you'll get a better view and an offer of a drink if you knock & come in!)

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Block of the Month Top

Before we left in August, I got all caught up on the first nine blocks for Planet Patchwork's Oh My Stars block-of-the-month program. I used a very fun "sewcial" day this week to finish the last three. Unfortunately, these three were fairly error-riddled, so I had a few false starts before realizing that I needed to spend the time proofreading before actually sewing them. (Lesson learned, I guess - no major damage except for some mild profanities unleashed on my fellow stitchers... ) I did manage to finish the last of the blocks before the Sunday Night Football game ended, but it was too late to sew the top together.

This evening I added a few more applique flowers, then assembled the top (!). I really love this type of gridless pattern, and I especially like the way the large-scale green print looks all chopped up into little pieces - it makes me think of a circuit board. I may still add a border, but I don't really like the simple one used on the original pattern, so I'll let it stew for a while before deciding. It's time to move onto holiday stitchery anyway.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

English embroidery

Here's the progress I made on my witchy embroidery while in Iceland...:
...and here's what I have accomplished so far after a week in Wales & England:

Monday, August 15, 2011

A bonus bag

I decided I need a slightly smaller bag for daytime jaunts so I whipped up this little beauty:

I have made this "Tube Top Purse" before a few times, and I remember why - it goes together very quickly, has lots of little organizing pockets, and is just the right size.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

caught up!

And here's the last of the Planet Patchwork blocks - I'm all caught up and can finish when I get back!
For the rest of the night I'll finish my monster bag, which only needs top binding, handles sewn on, and zipper ... and then maybe a few rounds on the second sleeve of Barry's sweater.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Purse 2

Mom's second purse is finished! I will definitely make this pattern again. Nice bag.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Making progress

The quilt show this weekend was lovely. I sat in on a lecture about thread and learned more in one hour than the sum total of everything else I knew. As with last show, I spent most of my show budget on new threads, only now I'm feeling confident enough to actually use them. A few weeks ago I won a door prize at Sew Inspired, so I got to pick up an excellent workbook about quilting motifs; it's got dry erase pages so you can repeatedly practice doodling the basic designs - nifty. My next big expansion here at "the studio" (read: back of the TV room) is to find/construct/rig a better sewing table so I can have a large flat surface flush with the bed of my machine. I'm getting better at free-motion work, so I think it's time to make the space fit the job.

I have been making significant progress on my to-do list. Yesterday before we went to the show, I helped C make a small dreamcatcher/mandala quilt. He picked a pattern from a coloring book that I bought at the Borders clearance extravaganza. I traced it onto some white fabric, then - inspired by my plans to shade the embroidered witch quilt with crayons - he colored his design in and I helped him iron it. He picked some "Indian-colors" thread and we did a little stitching along the original lines to quilt it up; I added a binding, and he added a few embellishments (his own vision, but not visible in the photo here) and voila!

This morning I finished one of the bags that I promised my mother. A few years ago I made her a patchwork jacket with various Steelers/football fabrics, so I used the scraps from that to make this first purse. I cobbled together a few patterns that I have here and added a few extra details like an afterthought zipper at the top. I hope it's what she had in mind!

My list is looking more manageable now: finish sweater, finish tracing & color witch embroidery, finish Monster Bag (started with Allison), make one more purse, use up one more screen (which I think I'm going to use for pencil cases instead of totes). I'm putting the Beatles on the backburner; it can wait until October.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Two Steps Forward

I finished the background blocks for the Calendula embroidery, so I can get some tracing done tomorrow. These blocks look darker in the photo than they look on the wall; I think they will be a good embroidery setting.

That's a little progress, but unfortunately I remembered another big thing on my before-we-leave list:
  • Cut the fabric for the Newington chapter group quilt so it can be distributed at the September meeting.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

so little time

The list of things I had planned to accomplish before leaving at the end of August is starting to feel just a tad unattainable. I did finish one quilt this morning (except for a label), so that's a good start. I still need to:
  • Make a label for my witches quilt before dropping it off for the GHQG Quilt Show on Wednesday
  • Print all of the labels that will hang next to the quilts in the show
  • Print signs reminding people about the thread workshop at the show.
  • Pick up the programs and make sure they get to the show on time.
  • Actually go to the show all day on Saturday (and maybe Sunday)
But from a stitchery perspective, I was also planning to:
  • Finish knitting Barry's alpaca sweater
  • Quilt & finish the Beatles quilt (basting & a movie, kids?)
  • Make screen bags using all the mesh I have purchased so far (2 large, 1 small)
  • Sew two Steelers-themed bags for my mother using a pattern that has lots of pockets. I was planning to make the Essential Purse, but I can't figure out a good combo of fabrics that will have the appropriate scale in the quintessential black-and-gold colors, so I might look for a different pattern...
  • I'm also starting this adorable-but-enormous embroidered quilt so I have some handwork with me on our trip. I have most of the background blocks sewn, but I still need to assemble the embroidery sections, trace the designs, and add the crayon shading. I *think* at least one section is do-able.
Also, I have promised the boys a long-awaited party on Thursday, so I will be spending all day Wednesday making cupcakes & fruit salad and planning a variety of Minute-to-Win-It games. I have made myself a little tired just reading this list. These quilts aren't making themselves...

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Serenity now!!

This little beauty has been sitting in the unfinished bin since the winter; it was constructed from the corner cut-offs of a larger brasstown star quilt (to be quilted soon, I hope). A simple tight spiral of quilting was just the thing for it. I used a Sulky blendable (30 wt) in the perfect shades of taupe to match these smoky, shadowy batiks. It's 32" square. I find it very mesmerizing and peaceful to look at, so its name is "Serenity Now."

Saturday, July 16, 2011

A ghastly find

Yesterday we made the drive to Simsbury for a nice afternoon of swimming at Stratton Brook State Park, so of course, since we were so close to Fiddler's Green anyway, my family was patient enough to withstand my visiting Sew Inspired. As always, it overwhelmed me with its wonderfulness so I escaped relatively unscathed financially speaking, but I was excited to find a new Ghastlies run by Alexander Henry:

Last year's print got put to good purpose, accented with some hand-embroidered text from the witches passage in Macbeth. It will be in the GHQG show next month:

After the trip to Simsbury, we watched HP7a (to catch up Son #2) and I did some basting in the back of the room. These cute little owls are ready to go!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Market bag

On very rare occasions, a piece of fabric comes into my house and gets turned into Something Else before it's even washed and sorted. In this case, since I wanted to try making a mesh market bag with a nice bright orange piece of screening that I picked up yesterday at Lisa's Clover Hill, the bright lantern fabric I just found in Maine has already found a use:

These would be great for the beach, farmer's markets, the library, and (since I was auditioning a bunch of different fabrics with the orange mesh last night) I'm thinking they would be terrific trick-or-treat bags too.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Finished my traveling bag!

I've been working away on a new bag to take on our Big Trip, and it's finally complete:

I used another pattern by Marlous Designs, who has some very nice looking things in her collection. I did tweak the pattern a bit, adding an internal zipper pocket, an extra back pocket with a billfold insert
(taken from the pattern of the last bag I made, which is starting to show signs of fraying), and then I added an "afterthought zipper" on the top. I don't know if that's the technical term for what I did, but it's a great way to add a zipper after the rest of the sewing is done.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Monster bags

My cousin Allison and I are working on some Monster Bags. I will be wrestling with a zipper and handles tonight, after which hers will be complete. Mine still needs the whole lining, so I'm a few days behind.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Sweet as Pi

I downloaded this terrific pi embroidery design a few months ago, and finally decided to stitch it out. I think this will just be a pillow or a tiny little wall decoration.

Maine treasures

At the recommendation of a quilting friend, I stopped it at Knight's Quilts on our trip to Maine last weekend. I got a really beautiful pink Asian print, a fun selection of Mardi Gras fabrics at Barry's recommendation, but this was my favorite:

It was definitely the vibrant colors - they're almost 80s neons - that drew me to this; I'm thinking it needs to stay in large chunks, like a bag or some pillows or just a great quilt back.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Awesome fabric score!

I found a whole bunch of this terrific Jane Sassaman fabric (on clearance, of course). I think what I love about it is the vibrancy of the colors, and the full spectrum except for blue, which is left out entirely. Now, what to do with it...???

Sunday, June 26, 2011

"The use of the hands is vital for a human being."

So many people ask me how I have the patience to make things. Here's a simply beautiful, elegant video that sums it up exactly.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

A new Quilting Friend!

I spent an absolutely terrific day working with Tina B, who chose this cute beach applique quilt for her very first (!) quilting project. Some of the blocks she made:

...and a few of mine:

Thursday, June 23, 2011

A little catch-up work

I've been following along with the block-of-the-month quilt from Planet Patchwork; I really like this gridless sampler style. I got hung up with other things after month 5, so I spent the last two days catching up with the month 6 and 8 blocks:

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Tea cups

Last night, after a positively lightspeed drive home from western PA, my journal quilt art group met to reveal the "whisper challenges" that we've been working on for about a year and a half. We started with one member taking a photograph and making an 18 x 24" quilt based on something in that photo. It didn't have to be completely representational, just inspired by the photo. Then the second member looked ONLY at the quilt and made her own quilt inspired by the first one; then the third saw only the second quilt, etc. I was third in line for my group. I'm only going to post a photo of the one I made because I didn't ask for permission to put the others online. (They will all be on display at the GHQG quilt show this summer, though.)

I am particularly pleased with the center panel; I used PowerPoint to make a sort of wordle, then hand embroidered the whole thing:

Monday, June 13, 2011

Building a Mystery

Every year our quilt chapter does a mystery quilt, in which we get one step of the directions every month. This year's came out great; I think I counted 13 finished at our meeting tonight, and none of them looked the same. I used the adorable sea otter fabric that I bought last year in Monterey as my focus fabric; the seashell quilting in the sand-colored blocks really pops in person.