Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Block Evolution

In my last post, I showed this house block which is the first block in a mystery quilt by Kathleen Tracy.

Step 2 called for surrounding the house block with half square triangles.  The first decision for me was whether to put the triangle's dark side or light side closest to the house.  I turned to my trusty Electric Quilt software to get a visual.

Not knowing what the  next step of the mystery will be, I decided to put the lighter blocks on the outside, thinking they will be easier to coordinate with whatever comes next.

Next decision was what colors to use?  I had some brown triangles leftover from a previous project so I started there:

Didn't really like the brown, so I tried out some greens:

Better than the brown, but still not quite right.  Tried a few more options, until I found this blue/gray fabric that really seemd to work with the colors in the house:

The scrappy quilter in me wanted to mix things up, so I thought I would use multiple fabrics for the tan in the background:

Now we're getting somewhere!  Could I also mix it up with the blues?  I searched every scrap of my Civil War repro stash and came up with an array of blues.    Would the house fabrics be able to stand out against them?

Perhaps it could work, if I was careful with the placement of the blues closest to  the house.  I cut up some triangles and played around until I thought it looked good.

Keeping my fingers crossed, I began to sew it together, and it ended up looking like this:


I'm very happy with it.  This step could have been done with two fabrics and some shortcut techniques to make half square triangles,  but half the fun was just playing in the fabric stash. After all, isn't that what you're supposed to do with a fabric stash?


Wonder what Step 3 will be?

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Monday, February 13, 2017

Wrapped up in shawls

I had another good year of shawl making for my Prayer Shawl Ministry group.  Here are the shawls I made in 2016.

I started off the year with this cuddly, knitted ripple shawl:

After that, I thought I would try mixing it up by adding some stripes, so I began another one in the same pattern and larger needles, alternating with some red and navy yarn.
This one is still a work in progress.  I keep it in the car so that I always have a project with me.

Getting back to crochet, but still on a stripes kick,  I turned to a pattern I had made before in a single color, and decided to make it with stripes.  I picked out two shades of green and added them to white to make this shawl:
I loved the look of the bands of color, but it took me two nights of TV watching just to weave in all the yarn ends when it was finished.


This next shawl turned out to be the beginning of a series.  I made it in white, from a free pattern  called One Skein Wrap on Ravelry.com.  The "One Skein" title was what got my attention initially, but it turns out that the "One Skein" has to be one of the super sized "pound of yarn" skeins.

This shawl turned out to be really fun to make and I liked it so much that I made a second one, also in white, but with a slightly bigger crochet hook:
 This is a different shawl.  Honest! 


It dawned on me that if I made a shawl with fringe, I could leave the yarn ends hanging until the shawl was complete, and then incorporate them as part of the fringe! So I picked out three pretty jewel tone colors of yarn, and then made the same pattern over again.  It turned out like this:

And the fringed ends looks like this.
All the yarn ends became part of the fringe.  

I had leftover yarn in each of colors, so I made the same shawl, but combined the yarn differently:

This time, I kept to a color scheme when I did the fringe:

I was still enjoying this pattern, so I made yet another one, again aligning the colors of the fringe with the colored bands in the shawl.

My next shawl was a triangular shaped shawl called the Fringed V-Stitch Shawl.

The pattern calls for a specialty yarn to add a fringe, but I thought the edge looked fine without it. The shawl already had a pretty edging.


After making so many lacy shawls, I wanted to make one more suitable for a man, so I knit this one using a self striping yarn:



Next, I revisited a pattern I had made once before, and crocheted this yellow, cape-like shawl:

Then it was back to knitting again for this last one.  I bought 2 large skeins of a fairly bulky variegated yarn and knit this up on size 17 needles:
The cross-hatch pattern just happened all by itself!

There was one "oops!" project last year, and it was this one:

The pattern I followed was actually for a poncho, but I thought I could adapt it for a shawl.  Unfortunately, I didn't make it long enough, and it took me a while to discover it was going to be too short.  I didn't really like the colorway anyhow.  A pattern this busy looks better in a solid yarn.  So, I'll be pulling that one out, but in the meantime, I have started over with more stitches and a new colorway:

If you look through the rungs on the chair back, you can see that the blue and white one is much longer than the green and tan one.

It's nice to have something to show for it after spending many an evening watching TV.




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Sunday, February 12, 2017

Home Snowy Home

The many snow days around these parts lately have made staying in to sew the obvious choice.  Perhaps it was the cozy indoor atmosphere, but I found that 3 of my recent projects involved houses.

First was this whimsical, fusible applique birdhouse designed by Amy Bradley.

 This project was started as a group project at my guild.  In the center of the room, we had a big pile of bright and colorful fabrics  that we could choose from to make our houses.  I decided to  throw caution to the wind and just pick out the craziest fabrics I could find.  Even so, you can see by the extra circles in the photo below, that I got picky with choosing just the right fabric for the birdhouse windows:

It still needs to have all the pieces outlined with a buttonhole stitch, but I think that will be good practice for me.  In the meantime, I liked it so much, I had to add a little homeowner bird coming in for a landing.

The second house project that I have been working on is quilting my Hillside Houses quilt.

Just have to do a little background stippling in the sky area at the top and this one is ready to add binding.

The third house project is much more traditional:

This block is the first block in a Mystery quilt-along designed by Kathleen Tracy for her "Small Quilt Lovers" Facebook group.  It was quite a contrast to work with Civil War repros after all the bright colors of the first two quilts, but I do love 'em.

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Thursday, January 26, 2017

Throwback to Thanksgiving


Last October, I began working on a table topper for the Thanksgiving table.  I decided on a palette of rust/brown and gold, and this pattern that I had squirreled away:

It's called Afternoon Delight, by Tiger Lily Press.  I liked the fact that the middle section was just a pretty piece of fabric so if you wanted to put a centerpiece in the middle of your table, like a candle or a bowl of fruit, you wouldn't be covering up your hard earned piecework.  For my center fabric, I used up the last scrap of Castlewood fabric that was leftover from making  this quilt.

The first step in the pattern is to cut an octagon for the center, and surround it with stripped  pieces:


After sewing the strips to the center, you trim them back with your rotary cutter.  The final step, the border strips, are sewn around all 8 sides and then trimmed as in the first step.

I went with a light colored border, but I felt it still needed something, so I added an additional border of a floral fabric that combined all the colors in the stripped pieces.

After trimming, I added a lightweight batting and some simple quilting and it was ready for my Thanksgiving table.


Here's how it looked on the table at Thanksgiving.  I like how the pilgrim and turkey nutcrackers give a hint of the Christmas holidays right around the corner.   The white milk glass candle holders on either side of the nutcrackers were a wedding gift to my parents from my great, great aunt, and have graced many a Thanksgiving table.

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Monday, January 23, 2017

My first attempt at knitting with beads.

 I recently tried my hand at making this necklace which combines knitting with beads.

The pattern came from this book that I found in my local library.


The name of the book is 101 Designer One-skein Wonders by Judith Durant.  The necklace was designed by Carol Metzger and is called the Scallop-Edge Beaded Necklace.  There are only 8 rows to the pattern, and I had almost everything I needed already on hand, except for the beads.

The yarn was something leftover from my days of crocheting doilies, and the size #3 knitting needles were passed down to me from my mother-in-law.  (I'm guessing they were likely used to make baby items for my husband.)

The first step in the project, before starting to knit, is to string the beads onto the yarn.  This presented a problem since the yarn did not seem to  fit through the eye of the needle.
I've broken enough needle threaders in my time to know that no amount of pulling or tugging was going to be enough to drag that yarn through the hole.   I decided to try unravelling a bit of the yarn into 2 sections and thread them separately.

The first 2 plys made it through.  Then I threaded the second two.

Now that my needle was threaded, it was time to string all the beads.

For a knitted project using beads, you have to string all the beads for the whole project onto your yarn before you start any knitting.

You slide the beads up the yarn in between the knit stitches.

Just 8 rows later, I had a finished necklace!



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