Friday, May 18, 2018

AND ANOTHER FINISH

Well, this one makes me really happy!  This quilt, Cascades, has been on our bed in AZ for two winters already, but was quilted only in the seams of the sashing.  I had always planned to do some hand quilting on it and so we took it home to Alberta for the summer. When I went to buy some hand quilting thread Brenda mentioned that it might be hard to hand quilt because it was all batiks.  Batiks are very finely woven and that makes it hard to get a hand quilting needle through.  I thanked her for mentioning that and thought, this would work well on the new Q'nique.  I think I've posted pictures of it on that machine.
Well, yesterday morning I finished the free motion quilting on this quilt.  I did a lot more than I had planned, and I'm very happy with how it turned out.  I started with the border.  The first three leaves I sketched in with chalk and after that I quilted them free-motion.
                       
The theme was more or less floral, blooms (or leaves) four on a center.  As I went along I got better at it, and this is one of the later ones:
This quilt is now completely finished, packed in a big plastic zippered bag, ready to go back to Arizona.  I'm happy!

I did take out the sweater that had been abandoned a few years ago.  Last summer our younger daughter suggested a cure for the curling bottom of the sweater back: a ribbing should make it lay flat.  Good idea!
 
Here you see I've started taking apart the back, four inches up from the bottom.  The bottom is at the top in this photo.  You can see how it wants to curl up.  Wouldn't be nice on the back of the sweater!
In this close up you can see that above the "soon to be ribbing" I've inserted a circular needle to hold the stitches.  That enables me to unravel the bottom 4" of the back.  However, when yarn has been knitted for quite a while, it retains all the curlicues of the knit stitches and would not reknit nicely.  So somehow we have to remove all those "bends" in the yarn.  Here's how:  I sprayed the hank of yarn that I wound from the bottom 4" with lots of cool water and then stretched it slightly to dry.  It's drying on the inkle loom, very handy!
That worked well.  Later in the day I was able to start knitting the ribbing.  It's almost all finished now.

Another project that was restarted yesterday involves two high loft king sized polyester quilt batts that I bought a year ago to make a winter duvet for our bed.  When I unrolled the batts I realized they were extremely wrinkled and could not be used as they were.  What to do?  I did some reading on the net and decided to dampen them and see if they relaxed with some moisture.  I sprayed this batt quite thoroughly with cool water but here's the result.  Not very good!
 
I wouldn't want to put that in a quilt!

This morning I took the other batt, stuffed it into the front loading washer -- and I do mean stuffed -- put it to rinse in cold water and then tried to spin it.  I wouldn't spin because the washer hadn't emptied the water from the rinse.  I guess it was just too much for the washer to handle.

I took the very wet batt--dripping wet--and hung it on the clothesline to dry.  Here's the batt on the bed, finishing the drying process.  Very much improved!
 
Tomorrow I'll wet the other batt and let it dry on the line.  But I think I won't put it in the washer this time, maybe just spray it wet with the  hose.

Also this week -- Yes, it's been a very productive week! --I finished the blocks for another "sample" Disappearing Four Patch to hang up in the LQS, just as an example of what can be done with changing the colour choices.  These blocks need to be sewed together and then have a border added.  I like it a lot!
 

Now I think I'll sit down in the Sun Space with a glass of iced tea and the latest library book.  I just finished one this morning that I really enjoyed titled The Atomic City Girls by Janet Beard, about the young women who worked on uranium enrichment in Oak Ridge, Tennessee in 1944, '45, not knowing what it was they were working on.  They were just told to move the knobs so that the dials stayed in the right range.  Not until after the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima were they told that they had been instrumental in making the uranium that went into the bomb.  The story focuses on one young woman and her experiences there.  This book was on the "new book display shelf".  I recommend it.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

TWO FINISHES

I just finished Jim's sixth pair of socks.  These were made from odds and ends of yarn, three different yarns altogether.  The first sock went together easily, but for the second sock I used yarn from seven separate balls in order to make it match the first sock.  They turned out well.

And just a few days ago I finished a pair for our oldest grandson Tanner.  I mailed them yesterday, and the postage to send them to Ontario was about two dollars more than the cost of the yarn for the socks.  It's still worth it, though, as a "grandmotherly" expression of love.


That makes four pairs of socks finished since February 12.  Not bad!  I do feel almost addicted to making socks!  

Now I need to resurrect a project from several years ago--a lovely sweater for myself.  But my first impulse is to begin another pair of socks!  I have a few ideas: some thrummed socks for the Dear One and for my sister's husband.  Both those fellows love how warm and soft their hand knit socks are.  

The other idea is to try the method for the back of the heel, the slip one, knit one technique that makes the back of the heel thick and sturdy, and use that for the sole of the sock.  Would that work for the whole sole of the sock to make it thick and sturdy?  Would that make it last longer before holes are worn through?

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

DISAPPEARING FOUR PATCH

In June I will be demonstrating a "Nicely Nesting Disappearing Four Patch" quilt block at our LQS.  I made up a series of notes on how to do this for people to take home so they can duplicate the block.  Here are those instructions:

DISAPPEARING FOUR PATCH

Preparations:  For each block, cut 2 dark 5 1/4" squares and 2 light 5 1/4" squares.
These blocks will finish at about 7 1/2" so decide how many blocks you need for your quilt.  Then do yourself a favour and clean all the accumulated lint out of your machine and put in a new needle.  Now wind about 3 bobbins.  Now you're ready.

Chain piece the dark squares and light squares right sides together.  Snip them apart and press the seam into the fabric.  Open the squares, spritz and press the seam toward the dark fabric.

Place two of these on your cutting board, dark squares to the left and light to the right.
Cut 1 1/2" from the center seam, 
Rotate a quarter turn, cut 1 3/4" from the cut edge.  
Rotate a quarter turn, cut 1 1/2" from the center seam same as the first cut, rotate a quarter turn and cut 1 3/4" from the cut edge, same as before.

Rotate back to the beginning position.  You have three columns of squares.  Take the outside squares on the bottom row and switch them.  Then take the middle square in the next row from the bottom and reverse it.  Now your block looks like this:
Take two outside pieces in the next row up and switch them.  Then reverse the square in the middle of the top row.  Now your block looks like this:
Take each square in the middle vertical row and lay it on top of the square to the left of that row:
Do that with all four middle pieces.  Take your block to the sewing machine and stitch these pieces from the middle vertical row to the pieces underneath them, down their right-hand sides.  DO NOT CUT THESE PIECES APART.  Open up these pieces so they are right side up.
Now lay the pieces in the right hand vertical row on top of the middle row.  Sew these together on their right hand sides.  DO NOT CUT THESE PIECES APART.  We are forming a "web" of the block that will keep all pieces in their proper place.
Now press these seams toward the dark fabrics.
Turn over the block and carefully repress the seams, making sure they are very flat.  Then turn the right hand row, face down on the next row.  Sew this seam on the right hand side.
Repeat this with the other rows.
Now take your seam ripper and take out the stitches of the middle vertical seam where you crossed it with this last seam.  Do that for each row.
When you press the whole block you will be able to open these three intersections and press them flat.
Turn the block right side up and repress these seams nice and flat.  Take it to your cutting board and "square it up."  You've made a beautiful, perfectly nesting four patch block.

 


Saturday, May 5, 2018

FINISHED DISAPPEARING 4 PATCH

Well, that quilt started last week is now complete:
The inspiration for this quilt was two-fold: My friend Susan gave me a box of material samples and in it was a set of brights.  Twenty of these bright blocks were from that set.  Another nine were from some other material she had given me earlier.  Just one of the brights in a block was from the stash in the closet.  The various off whites were also from some previously gifted fabric.  But while the top was "from the stash" the borders, binding and backing were bought this week.  I'm really happy with this cheerful lap quilt.

The other inspiration for this quilt was a desire I've had to do another "demo" day at the LQS, part of the local drug store.  Their fabric department is extensive and aimed at quilters.  It's such a wonderful resource here in this small town.  If it weren't for that department we'd have to drive an hour to source some good fabric and/or thread!

So, to support them and help them sell fabric and notions, every now and then I'll do a "demo" day.  I make a quilt in the pattern that will be demonstrated to hang up there to advertise the coming "demo" day.  Then I prepare the materials for another quilt in the same pattern, possibly in different materials.  I take my machine and all the makings for the quilt, plus printed instructions that I've prepared, and go to IDA to set up on the "demo" day.  It's a fun day of sewing, combined with showing interested people how to make the blocks for this quilt.

I've already purchased material for the "demo" Disappearing 4 Patch.  It's a new series of 9 brights in the same design and 2 meters of a black fabric.  It, too, will be a cheerful bright quilt.

If you look up "Disappearing 4 Patch" on the web, you can find instructions, but I've changed them just a bit in order to have all the seams "nesting."  Even all the seams sewed when putting the top together are nested.  The intersections are opened up on the back side, and that makes them press nice and flat.
The center seam on the top row of blocks has its intersection pressed open into the charming little four patch.  The seam of the row beneath that has not been opened.

It's often little details like that that give a quilt the "polish" that we enjoy!

Saturday, April 28, 2018

LONG AWAITED DAY

I always look forward to the day when I can hang out the wash to dry on the line.  Today was that day!  We had had sufficiently warm weather earlier this week, but the slab of cement to stand on for hanging out the wash was covered with a big snow pile until this morning.  I had helped the melting along yesterday by chopping at the pile and washing some away with the hose.

There was a lot of laundry piled up waiting to be done:
That's a lot for just two people!
Here are loads #5 and #6 on the line.  The first "summer" laundry day is such an event I always take a picture!
Before that there were four loads of whites on the line.  That included all of our bedding.  Yesterday I "unexpectedly" did the spring-cleaning of our bedroom: washed walls, windows, rubbed the furniture with orange oil, took off all the bedding and the eyelet valances, vacuumed the spring and mattress, vacuumed the rug, washed the mirrors.  Wow!

I was very stiff when I got up this morning.  You know the cure for stiffness from unusual exercise (cleaning all that in one day was unusual exercise): it's MORE of the same!  So I worked really hard today--that included finishing the window washing on the main floor.  Some had been done earlier this week, and now that spring cleaning job is finished!  Yay!
A clean house makes me feel so good!  

Oh, and I scrubbed the balcony floor.  That's 7' x 44', so it's not a small job.  I hook up the hose by the back door, thread it through the window, run it to one of the living room windows that looks out on the balcony.  Spray, scrub with a push broom, rinse well.  Tiring work!  But, oh, it looks so much better with the winter grime removed, and the accumulated bird leavings scrubbed off!

I'm cutting and sewing a "Disappearing Four Patch" lap quilt.  It would have been nice to sew today, but the next three days are forecast to be cold and rainy.  That's good sewing weather.  I'll post a picture when the quilt top is together.

Now for a glass of cold water, a cookie (?), a book and my feet up on the coffee table in the sun space.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

"WINDFARM"

Today I finished the small quilt I'm calling "Windfarm" because it's all pinwheels.  This pattern was in the March/April issue of Quiltmaker, but in that form there were several different colours of pinwheels.  That made it tricky to piece because each center of block pinwheel had four "blades" of another colour surrounding it.  Each of them, in turn needed to match the colour blades in the blocks surrounding the current block.  A little hard to explain, and much, much harder to do as you are making the blocks.

My version uses just two colours of pinwheels, vastly simplifying the process.
This will be a donated "comfort quilt" either here or in Arizona.

I was so enthusiastic about this quilt when I started making it, but was very thankful that I had made just twelve blocks when I sewed it together.  It was a beast to sew together as each quarter of each block had four bias seams.  It was really hard to get the blocks sewn together properly.  So this quilt is a "one off."  I won't make another in this pattern.  Funny how some patterns just match up beautifully and others give a lot of trouble!

Yesterday we had a year-end windup: a Show and Tell with snacks that we invite friends to come see what we've made.  It's always fun and was especially nice this year.  I forgot to take my camera, so I'll ask Cathy to send me some photos to share.

This morning we took delivery of a lot of plants, trees and shrubs from Jeffries Nurseries in Portage la Prairie, Sask.  The driver arrived when we said he would, our neighbours helped with two fork lifts and two drivers.  In about 45 minutes it was all unloaded and placed in the greenhouse.  The driver did such a good job that I am going to call the trucking company to tell them what a good driver he is.  See you later.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

THE BIG MELT

The snow has been melting very gradually, until today.  Now the BIG MELT in on!  Here's the end of our driveway and the road out front:





But it's not to wet for the Dear One to be out in the landscape pruning off the old, dead ends of shrubs and perennials.  Just happy that it's warm enough to be outside!