31 August 2011

Here comes the Sun(flowers) 7

Results on Sunflowers so far :
I like the double Sunflower.
I do not like having a big 'empty space' in the middle, the kind I get when I do a 'single Sunflower' in the 12" size.
I like it that there isn't too much green in the flowers.
What about making the outer triangle on the 6" sunflower and the inner triangle on the 12" sunflower of the same fabric ... and then aligning them ... and then doing away with the seam, by making my own 'middle diamond' template.
Done :

And frankly, even though there isn't quite enough contrast in there, I think this is very close to 'That Perfect Sunflower' ... at least in the double sunflower category. Never fear, though, I'm going to plod on and continue to experiment with this block for a while to come.

28 August 2011

My machine and I

You who read this blog on a regular basis will know that I like hand-work.
Any kind of hand-work really.
With a preference for what my freind Diane in NY calls 'DLS' (Dinky Little Sh ... Stuff).
BUT, I do have a sewing-machine. As a matter of fact, I have 3. I have a hand-crank, that DH salvaged from a dump, took home, gave some TLC and now it purrs on like nobody's business.
Then there is the Viking / Husquarna. It was top-of-the-line 22 years ago, it isn't anymore, but it still goes strong.
Finally, there is the tiny Janome, which is what I tend to use mostly. It is small, doesn't have a zillion different stitches, but it works.
... most of the time.

Now. I like my machines well enough. Yes. All of them. And in broad general, they are not too averse to me. We're not like BFF, or intimate in any way (remember my hand-work preference), but ... generally we can work together well enough.
And then, one day, we couldn't.
The little one just stopped. Wouldn't budge.
And, after some work, I understood perfectly why :

Exhibit A (on your right) shows the compact used-to-be-fluff I picked out of the spool-house. Using tweezers. It was stuck fast and really hard.
There is nothing fluffy about it. The spool is there to show just how much there actually was.

After I had carefully lifted all of that from the spool-house, I 'stole' DHs canned air, and gave it a good blow-through as well.
And now the little Janome purrs on again, and harmony has been re-established in the little home.

The moral of the story :
Clean your machine.
If you are on intimate terms with yours, you probably know already, and don't need my reminder, if you are more like me, and not all that close with your machine, now would - probably - be a good time to get out the tweezers, the canned air, a bit of patience, and get the fluff out of the spool-house :-)

24 August 2011

I blame the Van (aka : Sunflowers 6)

.... or "Here Comes the Sun(flowers) 6"
A young couple down the street have bought a "new" van / car / whatever that kind of vehicle is called. Actually, it is bordering on antique. It is most definitely a vintage car. An around 1968 vintage. For a long time, I thought it was a prop for a movie but nope, it's an original and they love it.

The paint-job and the stickers, are originals, and while it has never been to Woodstock, it definitely wanted to be. So ... this is where I put the blame for the Sunflower of the Week.

See the similarities ?

And then a few notes on this week's Sunflower :
The double Sunflowers I've made so far have had the outer triangles on the 6" bits and the inner triangles on the 12" bits, staggered, so the point of the 6" diamond was in the middle of the 12" triangle (no, diamonds are not 6" and triangles are not 12", but .... you know what I mean, and if you don't this whole post will probably be gibberish anyway). This time, I have aligned them. Outside triangles on the 6"-block-circle, and Inner triangles on the 12"-block-circle have been aligned.

And apart from the fact, that it looks terrifyingly 68'ish in the colours I have chosen (and I blame the constant presence of 'the van' just outside our house for those colours), I like the alignment. I really do. Another thing to experiment with. I also think that the dark green around the edge makes it a lot less garish than it could have been.
And isn't it great, that I seem to be doing one Sunflower every week :-) My own personal Block-Of-the-Week challenge. Leaves me room to experiment with other stuff too, and still feel like I'm advancing on the Sunflower project. Feels good, actually :-)

And, just for the record, I like my 'hippie Sunflower' a lot :-D

21 August 2011

It's Blackberry time

Not the electronic device. The edible sort.

DH, DSon and DSon's freind have been picking blackberries, and had a lovely afternoon turning the berries into preserve and squash / syrup (for diluting with water and drinking ... soft-drink, you know).
And here are the pictures to prove it :

Setting out (some of the) containers for the preserve / jam.

The almost boiling cauldron

Cleaning the edges of the glass with a cloth dipped in boiling water.

Putting on the lid (deep concentration)

The first 4 glasses. More were made. I think we ended up with 12 liters of squash/syrup/juice and about 20 glasses of jam / preserve. DS's freind is going to take about half home. DH has enough blackberries picked to make another batch the same size.

... DD and I will enjoy consuming them.

Dissing ms Aloi

Have you read ms Aloi's rant about we who knit, stitch and blog ?
Well ... just in case you haven't, follow the link.
I would have liked to comment directly to ms Aloi on the HuffPost site, but frankly, giving HuffPost free access to all my information, including my address-book, is not something I want to do. Instead, I'm doing the next-best thing. I am writing my very own counter-rant on my own, crafty blog.

- - -

When I cut out a new pattern for sewing, I use my great-aunt's scissors. She was a seamstress, and kept both herself, her (unmarried) younger sister and their mother well provided for all her adult life by plying the needle and keeping the upper crust of her town well and fashionably dressed.
I have my mother's pincushion displayed in pride of place; she was a prolific writer in her scholarly field, and brought up a large brood of children, most of whom were not 'by her belly'.
I have my aunt's sewing-box and a good deal of her knitting-needles; she too was a tough, self-reliant female, who spent her life educating young mothers.

Coming from a line of bad-ass women, who did not need empty posturing to make themselves heard or seen, has - I must admit - given me a less than tolerant view of people (disregarding gender), who out of hand dismiss the lives of these women and the way they chose to express themselves at the end of the day.

I am a pastor, a university teacher, hold a ph.d. in a seriously scary scholarly subject, am the mother of two teens, and a wife, freind, neighbour and counsellor as well. I do not waste my time making perfunctory and juvenile statements about immaterial subjects (like super-heroes or vampires), I spend the time I call my own, by creating things that are beautiful to my eyes, and sharing them with my freinds all over the world.

I can wrap myself in one of my aunt's beautiful lace shawls, knitted in the evenings after long days of work, or lay out my mother's embroidered place-mats, or fold my great-aunt's beautiful, monogrammed white-work napkins, that are only used on special occasions, and when I do, I feel a deep connection to these women, just as I do when I cut out a pattern, put a pin in the pin-cushion or cast on a new pair of socks on my aunt's pins.

If you, ms Aloi, consider yourself a feminist, consider too, that being female and being a feminist, is not about being male. It is not about just turning the tables and showing male superheroes posing like female ones. It is about finding a voice. A voice and a place where you, as a woman, can be you, and are empowered.

Your voice - sadly - seems scornful, juvenile, narrow-minded and ignorant, just as you seem to be basing your evaluation of female worth on whether or not a given female is buying into the male way of expression. I do not need to reduce my life and my opinions in that way.

... and 'ignorant' ?
'The Killing' is not originally Swedish, it is originally Danish. And yes, there is a difference. I know the two countries are very close in many, many ways (just think of the myriad of wars that have been fought between them), but they are still not identical. Try looking both up on Google Maps or Wikipedia.

... and Jane Austen is one of the most brilliant authors of any age, whose elegant prose continues to run little circles around her readers, disregarding the subject-matter; it boggles my mind to think you can praise Buffy the Vampire Slayer and True Blood and not recognize the wicked, subversive brilliance behind a statement like this:
"The advantages of natural folly in a beautiful girl have been already set forth by the capital pen of a sister author; and to her treatment of the subject I will only add, in justice to men, that though to the larger and more trifling part of the sex, imbecility in females is a great enhancement of their personal charms, there is a portion of them too reasonable and too well informed themselves to desire anything more in women than ignorance."
J. Austen "Northanger Abbey" chapter 14

17 August 2011

Here comes the Sun(flowers) 5

SO, circular 4-patch in the centre, version 2. There is no green in the centre, and still the block reads 'too green' to my eyes.
And I think I have broken the 'code' on when I think a block is 'too green' : When the inner and outer triangle on the pieces for the 12" block are too alike, the block reads as 'too green' for me. Strange but true.
Well. At least I now know what to avoid :-)

And then Paula asked if these blocks will go into a big quilt. Well ... depends :-) Right now, I enjoy making them. I am trying to stick to a sort-of colourway (green for all outer triangles, pink-orange-yellow mostly for the inner bits, and in the fullness of time, I think (but haven't decided firmly yet), that they will be set on various blue backgrounds. How big the quilt will end up, all depends on how long I think it is fun to make them, experiment with colourplacement and the like. So : Yes, Paula, they will end up in a quilt ... eventually :-) But when and how big no-one knows.

On to the next one.

12 August 2011

Hybrid-piecing Hexagons

Hand-piecing hexagons is - for me - the natural way to do it.
Occasionally (rarely, but it happens) I get impatient and feel that I 'need' to move forward faster, and that is when machine-piecing comes into the picture.

BUT, machine-piecing hexagons seems to me to be a cruel and unusual way of doing hexagon-blocks. My sewing-machine and I like each other well enough - most of the time - but we are not on what you might call intimate terms, and me doing inset seams of any kind on the machine is not a sight to be soon forgotten (no matter how fervently you might wish that it was, and that your ears would stop burning)

Hybrid-piecing to the rescue !

Machine-piece the straight, not-inset seams, and then hand-piece the 'troublesome' inset seams. And because that sounds complicated (but isn't) here is a small description, with pictures.

I would like, at this point, to apologize for the quality of the pictures. I am not a professional photographer, and getting clear pictures when doing closeups like this, is - frankly - a bear to do. Know that I did it as well as I could. If you have trouble seeing how a picture could possibly illustrate the point I'm trying to make, double-click on it, and it will open 'on its own' in a (much) larger size.

Lay out your block (in this case, a double GFG-flower). I prefer to lay it out with the back up.
(and yes, eagle-eyed reader, there is a number on one of the hexagons. That is because it is printed from the CD. These hexies have been around for a loooong time)

Machine-piece into what might be called hexagon-strips.

Piece edge to edge (!)

When cutting the pieces apart, trim the thread on both sides, so that no ends 'stick out'. On the picture (right), you can see that one side of the seam has been trimmed, the other hasn't.
Trim them all.

Doing this means, that you can 'open' the seam when hand-piecing the strips together, but it still leaves just (!) enough thread to ensure that the whole seam doesn't unravel on you. If you feel iffy about having only 0.25" of thread-end between you and an unraveling seam, clip the thread a little bit further out, and then, with your needle, unpick one stitch at each end. You can do that while piecing.

If you want to press as you go, this is the point where you press the strips.
It isn't necessary, because the rest of your stitching will be by hand, so you can just leave well alone and press it all when the flower is finished. If you really want to press, press all seams the same way. Yes. Same way. It will work out and will press up a treat in the end.

Once all the strips for the flower has been machine-pieced, the hand-piecing part comes.
Since your pieces have been prepared with Inklingo, use a plain running-stitch.

At corners, take a backstitch, so you get both of two pieces anchored to the same match-mark on the single-piece (click on the picture if you have trouble seeing the back-stitch ... I do). Do not break the thread, but 'pass' from one hexagon to the next until the whole strip has been pieced.
Then move on to the next one.

When all the hexagon-strips have been joined, press your double hexagon flower.

It will press flat a treat, and all the intersections will open beautifully.

Requirements :
One of the (many) Inklingo 60-degree hexagon-collections.
1 flower-centre hexagon
6 inner-flower hexagons
12 outer-flower hexagons

Repeat as desired :-)

10 August 2011

Here comes the Sun(flowers) 4

SO. Double Sunflowers look good, but really ... 100 pieces to piece is a bit much sometimes. There has got to be something else I can do with the centre circle.

There is :-)

The collection comes with quarter circles, so ... maybe a circular 4-patch ? Worth a try, at least :-)
And this is the result. I sort-of like it. But I still think that the open space in the centre is too much.
Strangely, this one doesn't seem too green. It 'should', but it doesn't.

On to the next one ! Maybe without green in the centre ?

07 August 2011

Barbara Brackman's Civil War Sampler

Over at the Inklingo Sampler-blog, I'm following Barbara Brackman's Civil War sampler, and writing up printing-tables for the blocks. Brackman does hers in the 8" format, I do the ones at the Inklingo Sampler in a 6" format.
Occasionally, a block pops up, which doesn't really agree with me. Or with Inklingo. Either or both.
And one such, was the block for week 30, Peterson's Stars and Strips. Oh, the 'stripes' part is a piece of cake to make with Inklingo, just use the 1" Log Cabin collection, print 3 reds and 3 whites, and you're good.
The part that doesn't sit well with me is the applique'ed, 5-pointed star.
I don't do applique stars. Not if I can help it.
And yes, I have done'em. 5-point, 6-point, 8-point. And I'm not doing any more than I absolutely have to.
So, I didn't stitch the block. Just wrote up the printing-table, and made a link to a web-page with directions on how to make a 5-pointed star.
And then, a few days ago, I realized that the actual quilt, over which Brackman has constructed her block, does have applique'ed stars, but ... it also has a blue border with white stars.
So, here is my version.
It's a 6" block, and is very simple to make. You can make it 8" by adding some more strips, or by using the Inklingo 1" Log Cabin collection rather than the 0.75" collection I've been using for this block. What is important for this one is : red fabric, white fabric, and blue fabric with white stars.

Follow the link to download a printing-table for the 6" block.

03 August 2011

Here comes the Sun(flowers) 3

So, I didn't like the green-ness of the previous Sunflower.
New attempt. Inner triangles of the larger of the two Sunflowers are no longer green, but rather a light yellow. Same general colour-family as the diamonds.

I like that.
I have also begun to audition fabrics for the background, and I like the general idea of 'bright blue', hovering somewhere between cerulean (thank you, 'The Devil Wears Prada' for that term) and cobalt. Time enough to make a decision, though :-)

What I do not like, is the way the inner diamonds look on this one.
Lesson learned here : When making a Double Sunflower, the fabric used for the smaller (inner) diamonds should read as a solid (or almost solid), and not have a busload of interesting bits of pattern.

On to the next one !
I hope you can tell that I'm having fun :-)