Sunday, December 29, 2013

Christmas stitching

I put the last stitches in this morning, Christmas Eve. By next year it will be pressed and framed, but my goal was accomplished. I made a couple of changes to the borders to make it a cohesive piece. I eliminated the candy cane borders at the top of each row and instead ran it up and down the sides and bottom as an outer border. I also stitched the evergreen boughs only twice between the three rows. I really like how it turned out. Thanks to all the members of Stitching Santa's Village Together for sharing your progress and encouragement.

I also finished knitting a couple of cowels in time for gift giving. This one went to my sweet Mother in Law to match a jacket we got for her.




Friday, December 20, 2013

Have a Texas Merry Christmas

When I saw Blackbird Designs' "Never Far Apart", I knew I had to adapt it for my girl who was away for her first semester in college.

I made a copy of the pattern and then drew my alternate designs right over it to ensure they would be the correct size. I improvised a longhorn and the University of Texas iconic tower from photographs. I found the patterns for the tiny squirrel, butterfly and dog (to represent Lola waiting impatiently at home for her best friend) from a Quaker sampler pattern I have yet to stitch. I also customized the colors, shading the house to match our own home and picking up tones of UT orange in the flowers and other design elements. I changed the tree to a palm tree to represent South Texas. Finally, I backed it in UT fabric - thank you UT licensing program.

Ellen took the stocking back to her dorm at Thanksgiving, before I had the chance to take a proper photo, but from this you can see that she very festively thumbtacked it to her dorm room wall.






Wednesday, December 18, 2013

She's crafty!

Thanks to a really sweet young lady at an Austin Hobby Lobby, Ellen is now a one-woman sock-making sweatshop.


She optimistically stocked up on yarn before even opening the box to the Kitcraze circular knitting machine.


Once figuring out the little trick in threading the machine, she was off and running. She took great delight in comparing her 3 minutes of cranking to my 30 minutes of swatching a new yarn.




I have a feeling there are going to be socks at each gift-giving occasion this year!





Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Into the Great White North

My grown up college girl needed some winter accessories as she made her way to school in the “great white north” (aka Austin, Texas). This yarn matched her coat and was squishy, thus the garter stitch cowl and crochet headband with ginormous flower was born.

Of course no photo shoot in our house would be complete without also modeling it on poor Lola.


Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Wearwithall Stole update

My stole has grown so much! Over the weekend I started my 4th of 9 colors. It was definitely an ambitious project for a (sorta) beginning knitter, but I'd rather put time into something I absoluely love even if it takes several months.

The rows are accumulating so much faster now that I don't struggle with my yarn tension, fumbling with the needles, etc. I'm hoping some good blocking smooths out some of that first color that was pretty tough going!


I have some airport time this week, so I've optimistically wound my 5th color of yarn in anticipation.


Monday, December 9, 2013

Celtic Solstice

I am one of hundreds of people joining in on Bonnie Hunter's mystery quilt, Celtic Solstice. I love the bright, clear colors, and with my husband and I both having Irish ancestry, it was a natural.


My quilting bee did a fabric exchange to freshen up our stashes prior to clue one being released. This is a picture of the first set of fabrics.



I forget to get a picture of the second set, except for the nutty zucchini fabric.

I had a couple of stumbling blocks with clue one. I thought my 60 degree triangle ruler would work, but it did not make the same block size. I've been making the blocks using the templates while the tri-rec rulers are on order.


Clue two does not use triangles - Yea!!! I was busy busting out some cheverons yesterday. I hope to have a big chunk of time to work on it this coming weekend.





Tuesday, December 3, 2013

The little engine that could

This blog title composed by my daughter when I told her I had completed 30 of the 36 blocks I need for this Karen Stone quilt. I've been working on it off and on for about six years.



I was on quite a streak this fall when I dug into some new color combinations.




Now it's on the back burner again while I join in on the new Bonnie Hunter mystery quilt.

Who knows? 2014 could be its year yet!


Monday, December 2, 2013

Belated pumpkins

Is it too late to show photos of Thanksgiving pumpkins? No? Good! I've got some photos that I haven't shared on the blog yet, even though the actual pumpkins have long gone to live elsewhere.


I've been getting together with the same group of friends since 1990. We used to play bunko, now we just sort of eat. Sometimes we gift each other things for no reason at all. Whenever I have the perfect storm of time/energy/ideas/supplies, I like to give them handmade things. Because I love these women and you should only give handmade things to people you love. Especially people who, whenever you give them something, talk about the previous things you've given them that they still love. Even when those things are crochet rocks.



Anyway, the perfect storm of wool, a quickly downloaded pattern to replace the one I had filed someplace 'very safe' and a quiet Saturday with no errands to run all came together and each friend got an embellished woolen pumpkin filled with crushed walnut shells. (And one for me makes four)



(Do the pumpkins photographed against the leaf-stewn brick remind you of those gorgous wedding photos of the bride and groom juxtaposed against a graffiti wall? No? Just me?)


Monday, November 4, 2013

Stole Progress

Yea! Today I joined the second color to the Wearwithall Stole!


Let me tell you, the knitting on this first color has some issues. So many that I seriously thought about ripping it out to a certain point. But then A) I wouldn't know how to pick up the stitches correctly and B) I can't be sure that my second attempt would be flawless anyway. If it was crochet or quilting or tatting, I wouldn't hesitate to rip out and start over, but I don't have enough practice with knitting yet to figure that out.


Ultimately, I decided to plug along and just enjoy this stole as my first effort at knitting. It will most likely make the majority of its appearances in my solitary office or the movie theater, so a few weird stitches won't matter a bit.


Thursday, October 31, 2013


After I said 1,000 times that I wouldn't ever become a knitter ... enter the Wearwithall Stole. I saw it on Days of a Sampler Lover's blog and just couldn't quit looking at it. I became obsessed with reading every note posted on Ravelry about it and although it's a large project, it only calls for knit and purl stitches, so it seemed doable for my return to the craft.


My first venture into knitting was somewhere around junior high when my grandmother taught me the basic stitches. I saved my babysitting money to buy a batch of the fluffiest, pinkest yarn available in Topeka, Kansas and set out to make quite the 80's sweater, a la Footloose. I knit knit knit knit knit and I actually finished the sweater. Unfortunately, I didn't know anything about blocking, and poo-pooed the importance of gauge. So I fearlessly produced a very ill-fitting sweater. I did wear it a couple of times and was very proud of it and embaressed by it at the same time. (Oh the gloriousness we could be reliving, if only camera phones existed then!) I clearly remember my mom being very distraught that I put so much time into it and wasn't 100% happy with it and didn't really wear it. I couldn't figure out why she was so upset and I wasn't. I guess early evidence that the process of crafting brings me as much joy as having a finished project.


Anyway, I never picked up the knitting needles again until this weekend. The circular needles, Wearwithall book and yarn all came together last Saturday. I'm loving it. This first stripe definitely has some issues, but by the time I finish the 116,640 stitches required (literally) I should be a very practiced knitter and purler. The purls are already going better. During the first few rows, every time I came to the purls my hands were clumsy and my brain was wrapped around itself and my feet were clenched very hard to the ground. I'm on about row 19 (of 324) and it feels much more natural. Especially since I can now breathe and purl at the same time. Progress!



Friday, October 18, 2013

Friday Flashback: 9 patch quilt

I don't ever get tired of looking at nine-patch quilts. I always seem to give them away, however, and I really need to make one for myself.


This was my favorite: "Coffee and Cream."


I was in the middle of piecing it when my dad was diagnosed with cancer. When I went to be with him, 1,000 miles from my own home, I took the appliqué sections and amused us all by incorporating some wacky pieces that represented our family.

A hammer to represent the woodworking my mom and dad enjoyed; love birds representing the rekindled love my parents experienced;


coffee - my dad's favorite drink; a five-person "papercut" family for my parents, brothers and I; and a pinapple to represent our trip to Hawaii when I was a teenager.


My Dad's illness lasted an astoundingly short 6 weeks, so he wasn't with us when it was finished. I sent the quilt to my mom soon after and she was very moved by it.


The quilting is much less than perfect, but it was stitched with a lot of love.


Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Another UFO surfaces

I've finished all of my blocks for the Mistletoe Manor Christmas Quilt, and I'm still in a sewing mood, as I wait to get batting and backing to quilt the recently finished tops. After the repetitive, yet extremely satisfying, construction of 99 triple 4-patch blocks, I was up for a little more challenging piecing.


This fit the bill!



I've revived another UFO. When I last left off in February of 2012, I had 21 blocks done, 15 more to go! (Now 14) I had begun the project as a gift, but when the gift-giving occasion came and went and I was nowhere close, I abandoned the project for the first time. I revived it at a craft camp, planning to buy more fabrics for it when I got home, and it, unfortunately, was abandoned a second time.


Now I've dug deaper into my stash and began pulling colors that weren't considered the first time around, when it was for someone else. These are a little brighter (orange, pink and lilac used in the single block above), and I think they're going to work in just fine.


Friday, October 11, 2013

Emergency crafting

Does anybody else prepare an emergency craft kit? A little project that you always keep in the car or your purse? No? Just me?


Tatting seems to be the most portable craft I know. I love quilting, cross stitch, embroidery, crazy quilting, crochet.... But tatting fits into the tiniest little pouch. And the great thing is, since it is made of knots, it won't go unravelling if it sits for weeks (or months) and you can just pick up where you left off with no problem.


The bad thing is, it is made up of knots, and so if you make a mistake because you're dividing your attention while crafting, you might be tempted to roll the whole thing up and shove it in the glove box and let it sit there over the summer - punished and forgotten.


But then a beautiful fall day will roll around when you have 40 minutes of nothing to do while you're sitting outside and you might run to your glove box to retrieve the little pouch. A few determined snips of the scissors, a couple of tatted rings sacrificed, and you're back on track again. Why did it sit so long unloved?



Those of you looking close will see I have some more sacrificial snipping to come. How did I not notice that at some point I switched to a completely different thread size?


I have no idea what I will finally attach this lace to. Maybe a skirt or a pillowcase or a guest towel. For now it's doing its job of keeping me sane while I arrive early at band concerts or doctor appointments or when I'm stuck in the car.


Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Quilting spree

Since I discovered Bonnie Hunter's Quilt Cam a couple of weeks ago, I've been on quilting spree.


I'm working on the binding for the secret, special Christmas gift, but I've been reserving this work for car trips, of which I have many over the next few months.


I finished the Crabapples top (worst photo ever), and am on hold until I get backing and batting.


I'm also making good on my resolution to "use the pretty stuff." I've finally broken into the charm squares, "Mistletoe Manor" by 3 Sisters for Moda.


I bought these years ago when I was on a quilting retreat and I've saved them, unsure of what to make. I ran across this triple four-patch pattern and knew it was a perfect fit. I ordered a back issue of the magazine and set to work.The strong lines help keep it from becoming hopelessly feminine, as I'm making this for our bedroom for the Christmas season, and so far DH hasn't commented on there being too much pink. I think the plaids and stripes also help. I've supplimented the charm squares with things from my stash, including some plaid from DH's "toss" pile. He didn't know I scavenge from there, and thought it was pretty cool when I showed him how I was using it.



So this will be Christmas quilt #2 - My son claimed last year's. Just one more to go for my daughter, although no promises that it will be completed for 2013. :)


Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Digging into a UFO

The other day while I was working on a quilt for a Christmas gift, I tuned into Bonnie Hunter's quilt cam. What fun! I found out that she archives the episodes on her YouTube channel, so that weekend I loaded up another one while I finished quilting that project.

After that, I was inspired to dig out one of my quilt UFO's, which is one of my favorite Bonnie Hunter patterns, Crab Apples. This quilt I had designated for ME. I had completed the blocks and bought most of the setting fabrics, so I started putting the blocks into rows. I always underestimate the time this step will take. In my head, I sew a few seams and the quilt top magically appears. But no. There are cornerstones and sashig strips and it's easy to turn the little triangles around so they are facing the wrong way... Don't get me wrong, it's all fun, but what I think I'll finish in an afternoon usually turns into a couple of days. (Darn that pesky day job!)


I've decided on an olive-y green fabric for the inner border next to the checkerboard to compliment the trees, so I just have to cut and sew those strips on. Then I have to finish out the checkerboards (I made the quilt a bit bigger than the one in the book, so I'm adjusting). I haven't completely decided on the outer border. I had originally thought more of the pink, but that's not ringing my bell, and I don't think I have enough anyway. After trying several colors, I think I like red the best, but of course I don't have enough of the sashing red left, so I'll have to figure out when I can get to the quilt store next to match something up.