31 January 2007

Dear Jane Signature-quilts

The "yearly" signature-swap is on at Dear Jane. It's always a great occasion. Everyone sends in oodles of the block called "Field of Dreams", D-13 in the Dear Jane-book.
The first couple of years, I participated. In the first swap, I made close to 100 blocks, and I thought, "What the ***, this will be the only time I have to make this many." Well. Fooled again :-)
I stopped with the swap in 2002, because blocks from 4 signature-swaps were languishing in bags.
I have now made 2 great quilts. Just put together the blocks with no sashing and - as you see - a wide border.
BUT, the real reason I'm writing is this, is to encourage everyone who does participate in swaps where you sign blocks : Please, pretty please, use ink that will set with heat and be colour-fast.
The reason is here , on your left.
Whoever did this block, with care, and spent hours and hours signing 100+ blocks with her name, state, city and e-mail ... did so in vain.
I cannot decipher it.
And it is a shame, really. Particularly as this problem did not show until the quilt was quilted and bound.
You see, with (at the present) 3 cats, 2 children and a not at all times sparkling clean husband (or indeed self), quilts get dirty in this house, and therefore, quilts will have to be washed.
This one was, and this particular quilter ... disappeared.
SO, please use pens that will not wash out. Pigma comes to mind, but I know that other brands are ok too. If you use a stamp to sign your blocks, please make absolutely certain that the ink on the pad is colourfast too. To end up seeing all your work on 100+ blocks be reduced to a blot is simply too painful.
P.S. (added February 11th ) the block HAS been heat-set by me. Twice (at least) on the high cotton setting on the iron. First before trimming, then as it was sewn into it's row, and then when the rows were joined, so ... heat-setting is not the problem here. Just a water soluble ink.

30 January 2007

Progress in knitting

There has been serious progress on the sweater. The bulk of the knitting is now finished. BUT, as you may see, the neckline looks a bit ... weird.

That's because it is :-)
When doing two-colour knitting (or more than 2-colour knitting), in a steady, repeated pattern, I don't do knit and purl rows :-) I just knit round and round on my round-knitting-needles :-)
And where the opening will be for the sleeves and the throat, I add 4 and purl them, letting the pattern start and stop around them.

It makes for what you see on the right. The opening is actually the white masks you see closed off (they will be opened) and above them, a vertical row of dark blue, "breaking" the pattern a bit. Perhaps not awfully easy to see, but it's the best I can do :-)
Then I take the (almost) finished knitting to my sewing-machine and sew a double seam on each side of the middle, and then ... I cut !! Yes. Take out the scissors and cut an opening.
You may gasp, but I have it on the best of authority, that on the Faroe-islands, they don't even bother to stitch. They just cut. Now, that's a major gasp for me :-)
ANYways, it seems to be called steeking and is a very simple (and time-saving) technique, once you've overcome your fear of cutting into a piece of knitting that has taken you "forever" :-)
I'll keep you posted on this one. My goal is to have it ready to tuck in all loose ends by the week-end.

27 January 2007

Re-cycling projects

On your right a PIG, or rather, a Prozag :-) (PIG = Project In Grocery-bag, Prozag = PROject in Zip-lock-bAG :-)
Fabric and pattern bought in Japan when we were there some years back. Very japanese fabric, actually, in colours I could never pick on my own.
SO, it was bought, and I started preparing to make it. Printed the paper for paper-piecing on the machine, copied and cut out the larger shapes in freezer-paper, and packed it away, without starting it properly, seeing that I needed to get both handles and a long-enough zipper.
Fast forward to today.
This was the day where this particular PIG was going to be worked on and with. Great. And then I looked. And I looked again.
Still love the fabric, and the pattern is nice-enough ....
BUT ....
I would never, ever use a bag like this, with fabric like this. The bag is either too large (for just having wallet and keys) or too small (to be useful when shopping or for work).
So. What to do ...
I slaughtered it :-)
And on your left is the result :-) the fabric now resides with what remains of the fabric I also got in Japan. Lovely Japanese indigos and some (too few, TOO few) of the very colourful, big-print fabrics that the Japanese do so well.
ANYways. That was a great relief.

The pattern went into the drawer that holds my pattern-collection. I'm not quite ready to let that one go. Perhaps, some day, I'll be sufficiently grown up to be able to actually use a ladies hand-bag like that one ....
Perhaps, some day, pigs will fly :-)

22 January 2007

Cinderella on a Monday

You know, Cinderella, always slaving, her work never done, people yelling at her all the time ... well ... sometimes, just sometimes, I feel a bit like Cinderella ... without the prince, though. And I'm prone to go into poor-little-Cinderella-like me mode whenever organizing and cleaning is on the agenda.
BUT, today was the day where the writing tools in my sewing-room got looked at.
And as you can see from the picture, a make-over was much needed. Lots of unopened pencils, and lots and lots of opened and partly used ones, not to mention mechanical pencils and pens and ...
Well. Everything has now been sorted, tossed, re-organized and looks good :-)

And on your right.
The finished doll-bed. With quilt ! Those 9-patches almost killed me ! BUT they are done and they look good too ... considering that they have been machine-pieced ... by me. I'm not good at machine-piecing, but I'm getting better. The 9-patches are just over 1" finished size, which makes each little square just about 3/8" finished ... the madness of it ...
ANYway, it helps me get better at machine-piecing :-)
Just as a little bit of organizing each day makes it a little bit better every day :-)
And that, my dears, is good enough :-)

19 January 2007

Doll-quilts and ...

On your right : the blocks for the doll-bed-quilt.
Not trimmed (yet). They will be ... I hope / plan ... but that is for later today.
What is likewise for "later today" is the doll-bed. It needs to be stringed, and then it can be made up properly, once the quilt is finished :-)
It's going to be a really cute set :-)
... or perhaps I should write "another cute set".

I love Gail Wilson's doll-stuff, even if the colours she usually works with are not really "me", but they are all co-ordinating beautifully with the rest of series, and I'm plodding along, being a good girl, doing as I'm told.

And no. That is NOT a first :-) thank you very much.
I usually am a good girl, and I usually follow directions.
Yes I do
The first time around, anyway. After that, it's a completely different matter :-) Mostly I find that I can do things slightly differently, and start tweaking matters :-) This will happen with the bed too. The quilt for the trundle-bed will not be a 9-patch :-) Yes. There's a trundle bed which goes below this one. With a quilt.
BUT, I will not make any more 9-patches this size, at least not until I have completely forgotten how much I disliked making these. I'll make 4-patches ! They can be strip-pieced without problems and without any serious measuring (apart from the general getting the strips to line up as you run them through the machine), AND they can very easily be trimmed to the same size :-)
... and then, possibly, some time in the future, BOB will donate a nice applique-block which will then become an applique medallion-quilt for the bed :-)
So, that is today's general sewing-story from here :-)
Have a beautiful week-end, wherever you are :-)

18 January 2007

Reading books

As some might have noticed, I have made a list on the right-side margin of this blog. On it are the books I read. Only the ones I read "from scratch" :-) A re-read of an old favourite will not go there.
The reason I have started this list is, that I like to keep track of things that I moan about. Sort-of taking the wind out of my sails :-)
For ages, I've been moping about not getting books read, so this is the year, where I'm going to put it to the test. Do I, or do I not read books. New books. Not just re-reads of old freinds.
And so far the answer is : I do read :-)
BUT, occasionally I get stuck with a book.
I'm there with my present book.
Kate Mosse's "The Labyrinth"
It started out well enough, easy read, well-known subject. It's one of the multitude of Grail-novels that are out there at the present, and which were more-or-less started with Baigent and Leigh's "Holy Blood. Holy Grail" (and just for the record, I feel rather sorry for them for not getting some sort of recognition in Dan Brown's very overrated da Vinci Code, which to my eyes was nothing but a version of their book ... oh well)
ANYways. Kate Mosse's Labyrinth.
Easy read up until Chapter 20, and then ...
Mindless brutality and violence.
Oh, I can see that the author needs to establish some roles here. The innocence and harmless-ness of our heroes and heroines as well as the mindless brutality and insanity of their opponents, but frankly ... I don't have to read, in graphic detail, about brutality in order to understand that that is what is at stake.
I have now tried picking it up 3 times, and have soldiered through another chapter each time ... but I don't relax. This is not enjoyable to read. I'm waiting, poised, for when next to look away, only ... with a novel you can't really do that ! you need to find out where the gore ends and the plot picks up again, and even - perhaps - to know if there are plot-lines within the graphic descriptions ...
And that is why I'm going to cut my losses and put it away.
I don't like graphic violence in movies. I don't like graphic violence in pictures. I don't like graphic violence in books.
This is why I have completely stopped reading Patricia Cornwell.
This is why I miss Inspector Morse more than I can say.
And this is why I'm going to never finish this particular novel.
Too bad. It was a fairly good read for the first 19 chapters.

Now, don't get me wrong. I enjoy Tom and Jerry as much as the next man, but realistic descriptions of how cruel and vicious man can be to man ... thank you, no. I do not do that for recreation. There's too much of it in the news and in real life already.

And now the quest is on for finding another book to read :-) I think I'll go to the library tomorrow, and browse in their "historical novel" dept. :-) They are usually my favourite reads. Those and good crime-novels ... like Inspector Morse :-)
... oh, and any book from the most shop-lifted author in Great Britain : Terry Pratchett ... and the most sold one : J.K.Rowling ... and J.K. Rowling's favourite author too, Jane Austen :-)
Too bad I have already read them all :-)

16 January 2007

The bear-house

On your left : the tiny bear's house from Gail Wilson. In the right, back corner is the most recent finish : the cupboard. Seated in the chairs are her small Valentine's dolls, and on the "loft" or rather, the "shelf" for sleeping (called a "hems" in this country), are the two sizes of bear-beds, with bedding and "quilts"

It is great to see such an organized little home. There are now only 2 kits left to be made : one with a ladder, a two more tiny accessories, and one with the bears. I still blanch at the thought of making bears in sizes 1½" to 2½". Yes. That's what it says on the kit !!! Some day I will, though :-) Some day, I'll even make the clothes for them :-) (the kit comes with patterns and fabrics for that too).

BUT, this was just to show off the cupboard. I simply couldn't make a picture of that alone work, but it is there, in the right corner, and the paint is even dry !

08 January 2007

A weakness ....

I have many weaknesses :-)
But one of the needle-work related ones is doll-making. Particularly the dolls from Gail Wilson.
Her directions are so easy to follow, and if you're a good girl and do what you're told in the directions, you will get a nice result.
And this has meant, that I have subscribed to her Early American Doll series, and have bought a few other kits over the years and ...
Here they are. All 20+ not-yet-made kits.

They are in a basket, that on it's part is squeezed in between DS's PS2 and one of the book-shelves I use for quilting-books.
I really need to start finishing some of these :-) Particularly as today saw yet another kit coming in the door !

On a slightly less desperate note, I have finished 3 sampler-blocks for this month's exchange. There might be more and there might not, but here they are. The machine-sewing experiment of January 2007.
Not trimmed but ... I'm sure you'll agree that this will end up being one kick ... donkey quilt :-)

Most fabrics are from the Lancaster County collection 1 and 2 :-) a few from Pennsylvania Plain and Fancy, a dollop of Turkey-reds from Moda, and whatever shirtings or nice quality muslin we can lay our hands on :-) Nice, eyeopening combination me thinks.

03 January 2007

A bit about BOB

Let me introduce you to BOB.
BOB in my mouth, is the Bag Of miscellaneous Blocks from all different sorts of sources.
Experiments in colour
Experiments in technique
Surplus blocks from projects
All sorts of blocks, that have not (yet) made it into projects. Some may never come that far.

For all sorts of reasons, and all sorts of different reasons, these blocks are not discarded, tossed or done away with, because I live in the hope, that one day, they will become "something" :-)

Coasters (mug-rugs).
Small bags, purses or totes.
Tiny wall-hangings.
They could be anything, actually :-) and they are a treasure-trove to dig into, when I need a quick-fix finish, or a fast-and-furious gift.
Everything in my BOB can be transformed into "something" with about an hours work :-)

If you have sharp eyes, and notice things, you may have noticed, that most of what is in BOB right now are small blocks : Dear Jane, Dear Hannah, Quilted Diamonds.

There are a few "big" blocks in there, though they are not visible in the picture. I know for a fact, that somewhere in there lurks several 6" blocks !!!
Huge, compared to Dear Jane :-)
But ... seeing that practically everything I've made over the past many years of quilting has been related to Jane, one way or another, BOB is also a reflection of what interests me and what I work on, and for the past 6 or 7 years, it's been small blocks.

BOB doesn't bother me :-) But I do count it as an UFO :-) About the only "true" UFO left on my shelves. As such, it has a certain antiquarian interest, if no other :-)

All the same, I count it as only one UFO.
There is no knowing how many projects will - eventually - be born from it, and it's contents fluctutate. Within the past year, I've added a good dollop of surplus diamonds from my QD-project, and 6 prepared, but not yet sewn, blocks from a pattern by Carol Honderich : Women of the Bible Quilt (they are the 6" blocks)

On the other hand, I've also used from it to make tiny totes for myself, DD and freinds and some potholders for gifts. So things go in, things come out, and the grand total seems to be more-or-less constant.
And that, my freinds, was BOB :-)

First finishes of 2007

And here are the first two finishes of the year
Pictures are rather fuzzy, but that can't really be helped when an amateur like myself tries to photograph very small things :-)

Both samplers come from Gail Wilson and both are tiny.
The one on the right is part of her Early American Doll series, that I've subscribed to for so long that I have all the kits. At present, however, only a few of those kits have turned into finished projects :-) BUT, they will get done, in their own good time.

The one on the left here, is part of her Tiny Bear House :-) My private substitute for the "Glorious Doll House" that will in all probability never happen in this house :-)
But that's ok :-)
I like bears better anyway :-)

So, that's 2 down :-) and I'm down to 7 not-yet-finished projects ... as long as that lasts

I feel good about this :-)

01 January 2007

Happy New Year

This is probably the least bad time to share what projects I have on my list.
I live by lists :-)
This particular one, is my quilty list. My list of projects started, but not yet finished.
None have (yet) transgressed into the murky realm of UFO-hood (Un Finished Object), but one or two is dancing on a very fine line.

I have :

Sampler, mostly with Dear Jane and Dear Hannah blocks. Made with kick-... donkey :-) fabrics in mostly turkey-red and bright yellows. I'm doing this with a freind in NY, and we're having a good time. Each person makes (at least) one block every month, or rather, two identical blocks. Keep one, send the other. It's ok to make 10, should inspiration bring any of us there :-) but one will do :-) It's a great way to keep the swap-pixies from the door ... you know ... the ones who say "just this one", and has you straining everything in (and around) you to finish x-number of blocks for complete strangers :-)

Quilted Diamonds all blocks finished, and setting decided on ... only not finished. I have to press and trim many, MANY blocks before it is even ready to be properly joined. And that is the big block on this one.

Applique. What will - eventually - turn into a big quilt with many small blocks many picture-blocks :-) It's not a project that gets worked on on a daily basis, but it is there.

Grandmother's Flower Garden. Very pretty pink thingie made with hand-dyes. It's going to be really sweet, and I'm using Inklingo to do most of my preparation for it :-) It will - in the fullness of time - become a quilt for my DD. Neither she nor DS has gotten a quilt from me for almost 10 years. I think it's time :-)

Another pretty, pink Grandmother's Flower Garden style quilt. It's crib-size, and is - at the present - in North America to be quilted :-) (Picture in first post on this blog)

Knitted sweater. Another blogger has finished it, and shows it off at her blog. It's not as hard to make as you might think ... at least not if you grew up with 2-colour knitting as I - more or less - did :-)

Gail Wilson kit. At the present I'm working on one of the tine cross-stitch samplers for the Early American Doll. I have every kit in that series, and have only done a hand-ful of them. I hope the year 2007 will see many small finishes from that one :-)

That makes an 7 projects that are started and not yet finished.
Considering that I want to get below 5 and was there at one point in 2006, this is slightly embarassing.
Considering that I started my UFO-battling with about 50 started, but not-yet-finished
projects almost 5 years ago, this is very good going :-)
BUT, these projects will get some sort of priority in the year 2007 :-) and then let's see how many gets finished :-)