Saturday, November 26, 2011

What took so Long?

I was going to post about a trip in late October to northern Michigan but seems a little late for that.  It was a great trip with great Michigan color, bike riding, pretty sunset and then a stormy day with lots of waves on Lake Michigan

What I have been doing is a lot of knitting and only a little quilting (Nothing picture worthy yet). I started and finished a pair of socks.  Wasn't nearly as bad as I thought it would be. But at 8 stitches per inch they are really tight. I hope this will extend their life as the recipient is very hard on the bottoms of his socks.

Then there was the bear project. I needed a bear for the Lansing Comfort Bear Project (bears are placed in police cars for when there is a distressed child event) I started with a commercial pattern and actually followed it - sort of. Then for bear # 2 I made some significant modifications, #3,4,5 more modifications, then finally wrote out a new set of instructions to share with my knitting friends. This was a really challenge and I don't think pattern writing is for me. Design part OK, but I don't like the process of writing out the detailed instructions for someone, who probably can't read my mind. Anyway I made 11 bears total - 5 for grandkid's Christmas presents and 6 for the Comfort Bear Project. Even thought I have enough yarn for many more bears I think I'll move on to something else for a while.

Hats, Hats and More Hats

As a way to use up lots of left over stash yarn ( and I have a BIG stash) I have been making hats for several charities. Our knitting Guild donates hats and mittens to the school system that lets us use their conference room with no charge. This is our way to say Thank You. Then there are chemo hats for a local hospital. One of our members brought it to our attention that their are few donated caps for men. So I raided the stash and made several for this cause. All total so far 31 hats. These I will keep making because it's easy to keep a tote bag stocked with hat yarn, and they really don't require a lot of thinking for a basic hat. Great waiting in line knitting!

Should have some quilting projects in the next update and the Search for the Perfect Tote Bag.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Still Trying to Catch Up

WOW  I'm still trying to catch up from a week in North Carolina. Over 2,100 miles (47 on bikes), 40 hours of driving.

Cades Cove, TN

Cades Cove traffic jam

We started the trip with a few days in the Smokey Mountains and rode our bikes through Cades Cove. There are signs all along the road about not stopping and not approaching or feeding the wildlife.

So coming around a corner we come on a traffic jam.  Got off our bikes and worked our way through the stopped cars hoping it was not an accident. Nope, a bear and 2 cubs in a tree and all these people were rubbernecking. There was a ranger there trying to get things going but she was not having much success. Tried to take a quick picture and get out of the area. 

Look carefully, there's a bear in the tree.

Found this cute guy along the road. Hay Bale Art!

Next got to Topsail Island, North Carolina,  and it was great. Great weather and a wonderful time with the family and grand kids. But after getting back to Michigan I can really appreciate our weather. North Carolina beaches are very humid. Everything is sticky and damp. But great place for a vacation.
Sun rise from our ocean front deck

Family Picture (Baby Teak is sleeping under an umbrella)

 I planned on several knitting projects and I did accomplish a lot on my husband,s sock.
But still only one sock still on the needles and no progress at all on the other 3 projects I took.

What I did do is repair the "Wubby" And what exactly is a Wubby?  Have to ask the 3 year old about the name, but it is a knitted cotton blanket that is permanently attached to her. No naps, no car trips, no sleep without the Wubby. I tried last year to knit a replacement but no go. This time her mother asked it I could fix the Wubby. So that is what I did on my fall vacation. This was a real challenge of knots, fraying cotton yarn and trying to knit in high humidity. But although I did not use up all the original yarn and had a pile left over I think it is a success.

Wubby Before
Wubby After, with pile of leftover small pieces
So got home safely after 9 days. Lots of laundry, not much quilting but lots of new ideas floating around.

Started a knitted bear marathon and will post info on this challenging exploration soon.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Vacation Time


Sun rise in St. Ignace

View from our room in Marquette
 After sticking close to home all summer we have been to the Michigan upper peninsula and in 2 weeks will travel to the North Carolina coast. Not sure how many miles, but it's a long way on the map.

Noro Project
I took 2 knitting projects on the UP trip. Made some progress on a Noro summer sweater, but still not sure I like it. Maybe it just needs a "time out" again for a while. This is the 3rd project with this yarn, so it's a tough one to figure out.


Bike trail in Marquette
    But we did get some great bike riding weather in Marquette and Ispheming  (33 mile day). Iron Ore Heritage Trail.  Then we went to Charlevoix and rode the Little Traverse Wheelway to Petoskey (42 mile round trip) This was our best riding so far.


Garden Fall 2011
Garden Fall 2011
Tomato and Morning Glory Tower
Also came home to an over grown lawn and our best fall flower beds yet. The tomato tower was taken over by volunteer morining glorys. I have a hard time pulling out any sucessfully growing plant. All summer we battled the woodchuck family that took up residence under our front porch. We relocated 4 of them and the same afternoon of the 4th relocation there was another one just sitting on our front porch. He seems to have moved on because the petunias and looking pretty good. I think they like the cooler weather.

But now it is time to do some retaining wall redesign. We tried to grow German iris, but when mixed with other plants they quickly get crowded out. And they have very different soil requirements. So we are building a separate terrace layer just for the iris and will be filling it with sand. Each block weighs about 25 pounds so this is just like a weight exercise session.
So not much on the sewing and quilting front. My studio area is filled with suitcases, tote bags and  clothes to be washed and repacked for the next trip.  Maybe some shopping in local yarn and quilt shops along the way will be in order. 

Monday, August 15, 2011

Tale of 2 Slippers and a Sock

As my friends know I don't really knit socks. I love the yarn but I find double pointed needles awkward. But I have made one or two pair, and Christmas Socks so this is something I can do. So when a friend e-mailed me looking for Old Fashioned Bed Slippers for a sick cousin, I said I could do this. Knitting for someone you don't know can be a challenge - What size? What color? What style? So I suggested that a tube sock would be the most practical option. 

I knit them on 2 - 16" circulars and used 2 strands of sock yarn for a soft squishy sock.

Then I went web surfing and found a pattern for the slippers. Aunt Maggie Slippers. Looked pretty simple so I started knitting to try out the pattern. I thought they were kind of loose so I added a ribbed cuff and SUCCESS. Only problem I used a dull blue yarn. Not something for someone who needs cheering up. So second slipper was in turquoise with a small lime flower.

Now I just have to finish the second sock and slipper.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

What do I Wear? and I have a Lot of Fabric.

In addition to being addicted to quilting I am also a garment sewer. I have made most of my clothes since I was in college. I have taught sewing and machine instruction classes.

Tomorrow I am giving a presentation to my Sewing Guild. I'll be up on a stage doing a trunk show my collection of quilted jackets.  (Presentation pictures tomorrow.)
Should be fun, but I'll be in front of a large group of great sewers, so what do I wear ? Normal outfit is shorts/jeans and a T-shirt. Most of my old work clothes are kind of tattered. The jackets are just too warm when the temperatures are in the 80's. So obvious for someone with a large fabric stash - Make Something New.

So off to the fabric bins I went and found some great stuff, and several possibilities. Made a full 8 gored skirt and had matching solid fabric for a top. Cut it out and wanted a more scooped neck - no problem, just cut the neck line deeper. Opps - just the neckline not the shoulder. I cut over 2 inches all around the neck opening. This made the shoulder length way too short. I tried several options but nothing would rescue it.  (Sorry no pictures it's already stuffing for a pet mat.) So I had a real funky skirt, and lucky I have several dressy cotton t-shirts that match. So pressure is off.

But I never liked the fit of the original top pattern I was using. The armholes were way too deep. So dug into the pattern collection and found another top pattern. Made a trial one in a knit I found. So far so good. Then I made another one in a woven fabric. This one is much better armhole fit and I liked the scooped neck. See a color pattern here?

Either of these might work with the skirt, but I think my purple t-shirt will be what I choose.

Then I spent the entire afternoon sorting and cleaning the fabric collection. WOW I have some great stuff. But now that I'm retired I dress much more casually. Have to try to be a little more "put together" and make some new outfits, just because I like the fabrics so much.

And More Good News, I threw out a grocery bag of patterns that I will never use, many over 20 years old. My body shape is definitely not the same. Not much value as vintage patterns, so into the recycle bin they went. Then I have at least one tote of fabric, patterns and books for the Lansing Clippers Sewing Guild Garage Sale in October. This is only one of several containers of fabric and yarn that I will try and get rid of.  My tastes and interest have changed so hopefully some one will like what I have to offer and I'll get a few $$ for fabric that I do like.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

What to do With Scraps?

Since I am anything but a traditional quilter I have a huge stash and giant piles of irregular shaped scraps. There is something relaxing about just sewing random pieces together to "Make Fabric". Then the challenge is to do something with it.  This is my latest project. 
I started by just sewing random scrap pieces together,  then trimming to 10 1/2" blocks. Made over 30 of them.
Then using a multi-color blue/green stripe  fabric I make 1/2 square triangles using this technique.

 May not suit everyone because the triangle legs are on the bias, but with "made fabric" everything is on the bias.

Arranged the blocks in a zig zag design. Size will depend on how many blocks I get from the solid fabric. .

After all the sewing I'm still left with more scraps, but enough is enough.  

These go into the scrap bag which will be used as stuffing for dog and cat beds, which will be donated to the local animal shelter

One of these days I'll do a post on knitting since I spend a good share of each day doing that. No sense just watching TV without some knitting going on!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Solids Swap Completed

If you read earlier posts I was a participant in 15 Minutes of Play Solids Challenge. 
This is conclusion of the swap and how we each interpreted the pictures. Different but the same.   Kind of hard to tell from the pictures, but I had a hard time with the size requirement (15" square). I just could not covert a rectangle to a square and get proportions that I liked.  

Ellen's Inspiration
My Interpretation with
machine embroidery

Ellen's Interpretation, with great hand embroidery

My Inspiration, a photograph 

Ellen's Interpretation

My Interpretation.
This was a fun exercise and I hope we can do another one.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011


Way back in January I joined a group project proposed by Tommy. She picked a picture, cut it into 16 pieces and sent each participant a section to interpret. The only restriction was size. So off we went with wide open creativity. After sending our sections back to Tommy, she joined them together and then sent in an application for the Houston International Quilt Festival. And today we got our acceptance notification.  

Congratulations! Your entry, To Market, To Market, has been selected as a finalist to be exhibited at the 2011 International Quilt Festival/Houston in the annual IQA fall Judged Show, Quilts: A World of Beauty.  This year’s jury had the difficult task of narrowing a field of 652 entries to 380 finalists. We genuinely appreciate their diligent efforts.

My Section
I have only dreamed about a quilt show entry, figuring it was not even a remote possibility. But dreams can come true and this is really exciting even if I was only 1/16 of the total effort.  Thank you Tommy for your great idea. And thank you everyone else who made this a success.

Original Picture

Group Composition

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Solids Swap Challenge Part 2

This is my picture. Totally different from my swap partners choice.

To make this a real challenge I used my color wheel to pick out a color combination to use. Selected a triad of yellow-green, red-orange, and blue-violet. Again I thought I had a large solids collection, after all I have taken 2 Nancy Crow workshops, but could have used a bigger variety. I'm tempted to order 1 yard cuts of the entire Kona Cotton collection. Maybe I should ask for this for my birthday!.

Solids, but not a good picture. They are pretty close to the color wheel.
  I finished the piece. It was entirely improvisational cutting,  (no rulers were used in this piece) which is my favorite way to work. I know I didn't get the proportions correct from the inspiration, but I plan on making more of these.  My husbands comment "That's interesting, you made a fence." No- but it could make a nice placemat. I like it but want to try again with different colors and proportions. And am looking forward to the quilting. Again will use free motion quilting with rayon thread.
Finished but not quilted.

First Inspiration Piece Finished

"Vase of Flowers"
by Vincent van Gogh

I Finished my swap partners inspiration piece. I don't remember who said "When in doubt, add more quilting." but this is exactly what I did. (If you click on the picture to open full screen, you should be able to see the quilting detail)

I have a large box of cotton and rayon decorative threads. I saw this as an opportunity to use some of the rayons which are too fragile for every day quilting. I didn't have any bright red so I used a 30 weight cotton. This made the 50 weight rayon look absolutely puny. So added more to the yellow and orange with 30 weight cotton. The piece is now so heavily quilted that it will almost stand up by itself. But just need to add the binding and label and call it done.

Quilting with 30 weight thread is a real challenge. This piece had some very thick places because of all the very small pieces used for the flowers. It was very tricky to free motion quilt with this type of irregular thickness.

Now on to my inspiration piece which is totally different and should be a lot easier to quilt.