Monday, December 31, 2012

It's been a good, busy year!

So today is the day that people traditionally look back on their year's accomplishments, and make plans for the year ahead. I've done very little of that today - instead I packed up Christmas with a 7 year-old helper (who then wanted to vacuum - this is new!), and that took most of my day - and energy. It is pizza and a movie night tonight - with maybe a little knitting or sewing thrown in. I did decide to go back and take a look at my crafty projects from 2012 - or at least those I got photographs of. This doesn't include the garden or the new front porch or some items that were made and gifted before photos could be taken.  I also didn't take pictures of some new pillowcases, curtains, and chair covers that were made - or the "pirate flag" that flew over the Munchkin's play-fort all summer and is now gracing our snow-castle.  What can I say - I like to keep busy and I like to make things!  ;-)
Not a bad year's worth of sewing. (and don't ask which are my favorites - that's too hard to pick... though the pillow I made with the Munchkin has to rank way up there).  (I also have to admit that not all of these are 'finished' - there are 3 in this collage that are just tops yet to be quilted.)

Happy New Year - may 2013 bring everyone peace, health and contentment.


Saturday, December 29, 2012

Turtle(s) of the week

I haven't posted any new turtles in a while - though FIVE more entered my life (four on Christmas morning and one on Christmas Eve)  Three are from Jill.

Jill sent the pink/purple batik with the turtles on it -not sure what I am going to make that into just yet -but it is lovely!  The color is very vibrant.

Next from Jill was a pin - this is recycled felt and ZIPPERS of all things - very cool!  I can't wait to wear this to work - I have a pair of coppery turtle earrings that will look really nice with this - since the zipper has a coppery/dark brassy look to it.

The next turtle from Jill is crochet -and covers a measuring tape.  This will be really handy to have around.  And if you push his "belly button" the measuring tape retracts.

The last turtle is a construct-your-own perler bead kit that was in my stocking from Santa.  I will probably have the Munchkin help me put this together - since he is on a bit of a perler bead kick recently - but this will be fun to hang up in my sewing room.

I also won a beautiful print from artist Regina Lord at Creative Kismet- her stuff is just gorgeous!!!  The print I won from her is not currently in her Etsy shop - but it is a girl riding a turtle -just lovely.  If you ever think of ordering from her - the prints are shipped so they stay flat, and the quality is very nice -vibrant and colorful.

PS:  Creative Kismet posted earlier this year about the inspiration behind her turtle print here - and you can see the print there, too.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Forays into Knitting

I am not a knitter - not really.  Though Mom tried to teach me over 30 years ago - the biggest project I think I ever completed then was a blanket for my Sunshine Family dolls.  I just never had the patience - the projects just grew too slowly for me.

So now I am older, wiser (?), and a wee bit more patient -so I decided to try again.  I had used one of those round peg looms to make a cowl for the Munchkin for a Halloween costume - so I figured knitting again was my next step.  Then Mom gifted me with a bunch of her knitting needles - so I had no excuses.

For my first big project, I knit myself a scarf/shawl - a large rectangle with some self striping yarn.  It took me about a month. (ok  - just went back and checked the blog post evidence - it was more like 3 months)  It was straight knitting -nothing fancy.  But I fell in love with the yarn.  It is a soft acrylic cotton blend with a bit of nylon stretchy to it - it is perfect for keeping the air conditioning chill off in the office, but not being heavy on my neck

This project took just shy of 2 skeins (6 oz each) - and ended up at about 72" long.

So I decided to make a 2nd one - I dropped to a smaller needle size (don't ask what size because they are not marked and I have not figured out the sizes yet) and picked a different colorway of the same yarn.

I also decided to try some purling for practice so I added some borders on this one.  And made it a bit wider.  Again -flying without a pattern here.

I knit - and I knit - and I knit - and I knit.  A few road trips, many lunch hours....

And about 11 months later I still had this much left to go....

Until FINALLY I finished -about a year after I cast on.  I didn't get very good pictures of this before it was gifted to my sister Terri - but I did get a couple.

I've started a 3rd - same yarn in a 3rd color, same smaller needles - sans purling.   This is another for me -lets just hope it takes me less than a year to finish!

I'm being encouraged to make socks - or try a sweater.  At this rate I don't know if that is advisable.    If only knitting went as quickly as quilt piecing....

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Christmas Clementine

Each year for the past few years I have been making a quilt for one of hubby's siblings (he is #6 of 7). This year it was for sibling #4 - who loves orange as much as I do.  So for her I created "Clementine" - using this pattern from and modifying both size and layout just a bit to suit my fabric availability, and the finished size I desired.  I was working with charm packs for the blocks and then trying to add in suitable border and backing fabrics as I found them.  At one point I did find yardage in the same fabric line as the charm packs -but I didn't buy it at that time.   My oops. The store was over 800 miles from home, and unfortunately circumstances did not allow me to send a surrogate shopper in my place, so I made do with what I could find locally, and in the end was happy with the results.

I have had the top pieced for quite a while - even sharing it here in August.   It took me a while to find just the right fabric for the back, however - and it was not until close to Halloween that I came across this rich, coarse weave orange fabric that worked perfectly on the back.  A little bit of piecing on the back to get things to the right size, and I was ready to go on this one.

I quilted this with an Aurifil variegated thread I had won in a giveaway - the colors in it really popped with the colors in this fabric for a very rich, dimensional result.  It was so easy to work with, too!  I used it in both the top and bobbin threads.

I wish I could give credit for the quilting idea -I saw it on a blog somewhere but can't recall whose idea it had been.... her concept was an off center concentric spiral - starting with FMQ in the beginning of the spiral, then switching to a walking foot and just going round and round and round.  I reversed that - I started a little ways out from where I wanted to do the FMQ and did the concentric spiral first, then went back and connected in the FMQ to the start of my stitching - it seemed to work better for swapping out feet and keeping the quilt stable to do it that way.  I used a seam near a bold flower motif in one of the blocks as my starting point, and then went back and roughed around the flower petals with the FMQ.  It was striking on the front - and even more striking on the back against the orange.  I was very pleased with how this turned out.

It took a bit before I was able to get good weather to be able to take some outside photos of this - in fact these were taken Christmas Eve, and I had to throw the quilt in the dryer after the photo shoot to dry out where it had gotten wet from the snow on the bench.  I love how it looks against the snow, though.

And the recipient spent the better part of Christmas Eve with the quilt wrapped around her - so I know it is already well loved!

And that's the very best part!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Christmas UFO - and a Giveaway!

So while the boys assemble LEGO sets, I am sneaking in some Christmas sewing.  I decided it was finally time for me to work on a Christmas UFO - from FOUR years ago.

When I made this quilt for my mother-in-law, I had made extra gingerboys and border blocks for myself.  I had gotten the center blocks assembled, but had lots and lots of 1.5" checkerboard border squares to be pinned and pieced and matched to form the borders.

They all were put into a box - and there they have sat... for FOUR years.

Until the Sunday before Christmas, when Munchkin and I decided to watch a movie in the sewing room, and I did some "post holiday whirlwind of sewing" cleaning.  I pulled out the Gingerboys box, tacked it up on my design wall, and said ... "there isn't much left to do - I can finish this - THIS YEAR!"

Since this morning, I have added the brown borders and pieced the first of the 4 checkerboard borders.  This one was partially assembled - there were a bunch of 2x4 units all ready to go.

There is another batch of the 2x4 units -but in the opposite orientation.  I think this is part of the reason I put this whole project aside - but I think I am going to approach the rest of the assembly as two long strips of alternating blocks - hoping it will be less of a headache with matching points and worrying about block orientation.

Once I get the checkerboards on, I plan to do another, wider, brown border to make a nice size sofa throw that we can cuddle under at Christmastime.  Then to figure out the quilting - but that will be for another day.

In the meantime - I've got a Christmas Giveaway to share!  My favorite Lazy Girl Designs recently released a pattern for Yo-Yo Cuties!!  I made one (in gingerbread of course) for my Mother-In-Law and she loved it.

I have two patterns to give away to two readers.  To enter, please comment below and share your favorite way to enjoy gingerbread (recipes appreciated but  not required).  All entries must include a way to contact you, so if you are a "no-reply" blogger please be sure to include your email address.

Enter by the stroke of midnight on December 31, 2012 - drawing to be held January 1st,  NEXT YEAR!  (wow - can't believe it's time to say that again already!)



Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas

Just a little blast from the past - 1968 to be exact!

Wishing you and yours peace, love and joy this holiday season!  (And if you are far from the ones you love -give 'em a call!!!)

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Shameless Family Business Plug

Hubby's sister Cathy is a very talented seamstress (and a sometimes quilter - knew there was a reason I liked her!) :-)

Her specialty is doll clothes - and her American Girl wardrobe items are exquisite!  The teeny tiny seams and attention to detail on trims and closures and fittings - unbelievable.

... and I have a boy....

So I ogle the outfits - and have decided to do a bit of shameless promotion of her to help her out with holiday sales.

This is just a small selection of what she has right now.  If you are interested in more information, let me know and I can send you prices and listings and how to get in touch with her.

But you'd best hurry - there are only so many shipping days left before Christmas (and at this point it is doubtful for any international orders).


Sunday, December 02, 2012

Pat Pat Pat

That's the sound of me patting myself on the back. I am feeling pretty pleased with myself right now...

In the course of a week, I created a 60x80 quilt top and pieced backing - from a photograph and a concept - with no pattern or cutting dimensions to follow, writing my own instructions as I went along.  It tested my math skills, tried my patience, and stretched my horizons.

It involved stenciling - (for the first time)
It involved a lot of mitered corners - (for the first time)
It involved some "knitting" of fabric into a specific color selection and sequence (Tom Baker fans will understand)

It involved 3 weekend afternoons, and 3 weeknights - mixed in with the full time job, Scouts, Lions Club, bowling,  house renovations, laundry, pattern testing for something else, a bit of knitting and the normal number of hours of sleep.

The best part was that the Munchkin liked spending the weekend hours upstairs with me -we watched some holiday specials and he pulled out the perler beads to work on some of his own projects while I sewed.   He also modeled for me so you could get an idea of the scale of this project.  This picture was before the final side and top pieces were added - and the quilt outgrew my design wall.
 ... now to get this puppy quilted up!