my creative pursuits with quilts and knits

On the Needles

I haven’t linked up with Judy L. in a while, so today I will share my current knitting project.  I had a huge surge of knitting mojo at the beginning of the summer, and I finished two shawls and most of a tee.  August was full of temptation with several shawl knit-alongs on Ravelry, but I settled on Steve May’s Crossbones Cowl from The Fiber Factor.  You can find the pattern here.

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I’m not sure of the measurements, I’m about two-thirds of the way done.  I am using the recommended yarn, Kenzie by Skacel in the colorway #1013, a tweedy blue-teal.  The various basketweave patterns make it a very interesting pattern to knit, but easy enough to memorize once you get going.  I am using stitch markers between each 24-stitch pattern section and after about 10 rows of the chart I was confident enough to read my stitches and remember when each section changed from knit to purl.  I keep this project in the car and I get get a round or two done each afternoon in the carpool lane.

Back in action

Oh my, where did August go?!?  I had so many good intentions of quilting and blogging, and writing patterns.  Then, real life tapped me on the shoulder and said, “Excuse me, you are a mom and a school teacher.  Hobbies will have to wait.”  My daughter had a birthday a few weeks ago so there was a family dinner and a party with classmates.  School starts here in the middle of August – yes, it’s early, but it’s too hot to do anything else, might as well sit in an air conditioned classroom!  It is still surprising how tired I am the first week of school.  I came home and vegged on the couch every single day!

With grand intentions of getting more sewing done in the evenings, I set up my work space on the dining room table.  Now, I don’t have to worry about lights or noise next door to my daughter’s room and I can sew after she is in bed.  Hey don’t laugh, it could work!

I took advantage of the holiday and tried to get caught up with the Mod Mod Quilt Along that Sophie is hosting in conjunction with the Block Lotto this year.  I love her block ideas, and for the past few years, I have made a sampler for QOV using Block Lotto patterns.

Working backwards, first I finished the August pattern, Little Windows.

image I was not thinking clearly though…I did the math and wrote myself a note that I needed 28 each red and blue for the window squares.  Then I happily cut 28 sets of four squares.  And moved on to all the border pieces when I finally remembered that I only need 14 blocks for my quilt!  Luckily, the 2-1/2″ squares can go in my leader-ender project basket, and I have a stack of smaller strips to absorb those borders.  But man, I felt dumb!

Then I started on the July pattern for Spokes.

image I will be inserting 4 strips of fabric to make an asterisk type of design in a square of fabric.  I am keeping to my scrappy patriotic theme. Visit the Block Lotto to see what Sophie has in mind for September!

I did accomplish one August goal, which was to offer a pattern for sale on Craftsy.  Visit my store and find the Snowball I-Spy quilt.  I have several more designs in mind, so I’d better get to work.

Happy Quilting! 

Serendipity

It’s that feeling when the stars align and pieces fall into place, an Ah-Ha moment.  So let me tell you a story about Serendipity in my life this week.

I read a lot of quilting blogs, and Sew Mama Sew featured interviews with the women who started “Quilt Design A Day.”  You can find related posts on facebook and instagram.  The basic concept is to design a new quilt pattern every day.  Participants are using design software and spend 15 – 30 minutes playing with their design each day.  Check out their posts for lots of eye candy and inspiration!

The starting point for today is this picture from Design Seeds.  You can use the color palette or the picture as a starting point.  GlobalTones_1Because of the windows in the picture, I might make a quilt design with a lot of negative space and just a few floating blocks on one side.

I have been designing quite a few quilt patterns lately and I am getting close to the publishing stage.  I bit the bullet and got EQ7, the quilt design software, since I was tired of driving to my mom’s house to use her copy!  Right after I installed the program, I got a message asking for contributions for a new quilt design.  I went right to work and had a basic design to submit within a few hours. If my design is selected, you will see it in September.  If not, I will share it sooner :-)

Electric Quilt is a great company with lots of resources for their users and the whole quilting community.  I will be a frequent visitor to their site – Do You EQ?  They offer a monthly download of new fabrics, and this month they have a contest to design a block and be entered into a raffle for Tonga batiks.  Yummy fabric, and how hard is it to design a block?  See what I mean about serendipity?

Here is what I started with:

cabana quadrantThe fabric is Tonga Cabana.  The EQ website has detailed instructions for how to upload these fabrics into your own EQ library. Once that step is complete, you start on the Block Worktable to design your block.  I am imagining stars from the white portion at the bottom and sunrise colors from the three pieces along the top.  This is just one quadrant of my star.  EQ7 includes an option in the Block menu called “Serendipity” so of course I had to check that out, it’s the theme of the week!  There are many tools for creating additional blocks.  I used the Shrink and Flip tool which spins the block in a variety of ways.

Here are two versions using the basic quadrant, a star:

cabana starAnd a pinwheel:cabana pinwheelI love my new tools!  And a shout-out to a fellow blogger BeaQuilter, who has many tutorials about EQ7 features.  Check them out here.

 

Start and Finish

imageSome random thoughts on a Saturday…do you keep wound bobbins on hand?  I usually wind 3-4 at a time.  When they are all empty, I clean the lint from the bobbin case and wind them all up again!  I was on the ball today and noticed that my bobbin was almost out at the end of a block, rather than halfway down a long seam.  I use either beige or grey for all my piecing then do the quilting on my Gammill longarm.

Which brings me to the finishing topic! I was working on the border of a customer quilt, and thought I’d share my favorite sashing/border design.  Free hand feathers are faster to stitch than you might think, and a one-sided feather is easy to put in almost any size space.

Start with a curved stem and a teardrop for the first loop of the feather.  You will alternate groups of three loops on either side of your curvy stem.image

Tuck the next two loops under the first teardrop.  I try to make each one a bit smaller than the previous loop.image  For the next group, echo along the stem and curve in the other direction.  Start with the big teardrop and add two smaller loops.image

Continue echoing along the stem and adding groups of three loops to each side.imageOf course, the number three is arbitrary…you can use four or five or any amount of loops depending on how large you make your curves and/or loops.

This sample is drawn on a white board, with dry erase marker, which is a good way to practice free motion quilting designs.  Any time you spend doodling will build that muscle memory, making it easier to stitch a design when you sit down at the machine.

What are your favorite quilting designs?

Summer Projects

 

Two kinds of crafty: quilting and knitting!

Oldest project first…I joined the Game of Thrones knit-along with Jimmy Beans Wool back in May.  The project is a lace shawl, and it was presented as a mystery.  All has been revealed, but I haven’t peeked at any finished projects.  I am on clue 4 of 6.  The yarn is a limited edition Lorna’s Laces called Fire and Blood, to represent the dragons and Daenerys.  I have really learned to read lace charts and my knitting with this project, so I don’t need many stitch markers.  imageMy second project was also a knit-along. (are you sensing a theme?  I am a joiner!!)  A group on Ravelry had a Tops, Tees and Tanks KAL to celebrate the beginning of summer.  I found the pattern Sun Tea, by Laura Aylor, which uses sock yarn.  I had some coordinating blues in my stash, and I needed a plain stockinette project for the long plane rides during our vacation.  imageI have just passed the body shaping point in the pattern, now it’s about 5 more inches then I will check the length and work on the bottom hem.

Moving into the sewing room, I made my first Swoon block!  Just a couple years past the height of the pattern’s popularity, LOL.  One of the bloggers I follow is having a block exchange.  We all signed up with a specific colorway, and each person makes 2 blocks for each of the other participants.  So I am sewing a variety of these blocks and I will get back enough to make a patriotic quilt!imageMy last swap for the moment is 2-1/2 inch squares.   The quilters group on Ravelry is having a swap so I collected 49 different fabrics.  The next step is to cut the squares.  No, I did not go on a shopping binge…at least, not all at once, I did stock up during some sales, but a lot of these fabrics are things I have purchased over the last couple years and haven’t used yet. image This swap is encouraging me to freshen up my scrap bin.  You can do so many things with small squares!

What projects are you working on this summer?

I am catching up on Sophie’s Mod-Mod QAL (details at Block Lotto).  The April Blocks fit with the half square triangle theme:

imageI like to make my HSTs two-at-a-time.  The easy formula to remember is add 7/8″ to your FINISHED block size.  If you are working with 2.5″ squares, they finish at 2″, so the HST needs to start with 2-7/8″ squares.  Draw a diagonal line on the back of your fabric and sew 1/4″ from the line.  When you cut on the line, you will have 2 HST, quick and easy.

I have also noticed, as I have been working with stash for the last few weeks, I have tons of “dot” fabrics!  I gravitate towards tone on tone prints these days because I find them the most versatile in my scrappy type of quilt design.  Circles show up a lot!  So in a recent buying spree (hey, everything was 50%, what is a quilter to do?!?) I made sure to find other patterns.  Tula Pink had some great prints such as “Hummingbird” and “Arrowheads” and I even found a stripe that would look pretty with the blocks pictured above.

Color Burst

I enjoy finding new blogs with quilty inspiration on Bloglovin.  A few weeks ago I found Fabric Mutt, and she is hosting the Graph Paper QAL.  Simple concept – create a design with squares.  I grabbed my graph paper and colored pencils and went to work.  imageIt’s a variation on a Trip Around the World.  I wanted something vaguely floral, like a big chrysanthemum.imageNext was a dig through my bin of 2.5″ strips, then on to the design wall.imageI decided to swap out one of the pink squares for orange before I started sewing.  For this type of quilt, I use the twosy-foursy piecing method that  I learned from Jackie Robinson.  First, sew your squares in pairs, then in four patches, continuing until you only have a few long seams.imageI also press my seams open with this method so I don’t have to keep track of which side is going to nest.  At this point, everything is finger-pressed.  I’ll set everything with an iron when it is all together.  I thought I was done, but I got one section rotated the wrong way so I have an appointment with Mr. Seam Ripper after dinner!

 

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