Summer blues

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A sudden urge to sew came over me and I actually made enough progress to have something to post about.

There hasn’t been a lot of time spent on the machine this summer, spending more time camping, in class, or hanging out in the hammock reading, but in the last couple of days I’ve picked up my modified crossroads blocks again and got the top finished.

The original block puts the emphasis on the center 8 point star.  I changed it up to make smaller X blocks in single shades which makes that part stand out more.  If I’d stuck to a single X color or made the bars of the X random shades the stars would have stood out more, but as it is, this is an X quilt more than a crossroads block.

 

 

I finished up all the 16 patch and X blocks a few weeks ago. I dug out my Hera marker which made sewing the corner lines go faster, although it was still the slowest part of the block.  Chain piecing sped things up again.

ECEF7A9F-06D9-4FFB-B218-5FE365F7F202I spent a lot of time trying to get the mix of blocks so that the different blues were scattered and the low volume blocks didn’t have any duplicate fabrics touching, and had the blues and yellows spaced out.  Inevitably I missed some with the background fabrics and didn’t notice until seams were sewn.  Eventually I had to let go and just not care.  I’m the only one who is really going to see those duplicating squares when it is all done, so I am reminding myself not to care.  With mixed success, but I will keep trying to not obsess.

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Laying it all out is also when I discovered that apparently I can’t count.  Back to the sewing machine to make four more 16 patches.

 

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There are eight blues and 50-60 low volume fabrics in this.  It made only a small dent in my 2 1/2 inch squares, so I will be searching for the next scrappy pattern to use them with.

The top is 56” x 80”, so a smallish twin or a largish throw.  I’ll piece together a backing from more of the stash fabric one of these days.  I lost my usual places to pin quilt sandwiches as both my sister and I have changed schools so I no longer have the library tables or her classroom floor.  I think there will be spaces in my new building, but they don’t know me yet so it seems a little weird to go in this summer and commandeer floor space.  I will let them get to know and love me before I start crawling around with handfuls of pins and tape.

Linked to My Quilt Infatuation and Oh Scrap

 

Design wall, without design

After two years in this house, I finally got around to putting up a design wall.

I have been using the floor for the most part, but after laying out my blocks for the latest quilt top, I got a lot of pushback from my family who apparently felt that completely blocking access to the kitchen was “unreasonable.”  Not a quilter among them to sympathize with my need to make sure that the Xs in different shades of blue were distributed attractively across the top.

So at long last I got a 4’ x 8’sheet of foam board and put up a design way.

It isn’t a complicated process.  I cut off a foot as our ceilings are barely 8’ up, and with the trim I needed more wiggle room.

I had the flannel still from the last house’s design wall; I just sewed the two lengths together and then spent a minimal amount of time ironing it.  A lint roller cleared off all the threads from previous quilts.

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It was a quick task to trim and tape the flannel around the board.  I kept the writing side to the back so the words wouldn’t show through – the other side of this board is a reflective silver.  I pulled it taut, but didn’t worry about perfection.

What I should have worried about was the wall it was going to be hung on.  I forgot about the wall socket.  It is our only nearby electrical outlet for the room’s main lamps, so it couldn’t just be covered up.

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The solution involved a box knife and more duct tape.  Not attractive, but it worked.  I may get white tape and recover it in a more aesthetically minded way in the future.  Or, I may just not think about it ever again.

A few finishing nails to hang it on the wall and now I have a design wall.  A little narrow, but it will keep the path to the kitchen clear – most of the time anyway.

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On vacation

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Summer vacation finally got here, and I’ve been spending a lot of time trying to arrange camping trips.  We recently bought a little tent trailer, and I’m discovering that it is very difficult to just spontaneously go camping on a weekend.  People apparently start booking the reservable camp spots months in advance, way before we realized we were going to be able to get a trailer.  My husband, sadly, doesn’t get summer off, so if we want him to come along, it has to be on the weekend.

But I’ve cobbled together a few reservations for various locations over the next couple months.  We may have to switch spots every night – and we will know better for next year to plan way in advance.  But we will be camping!

We did a couple of test runs in nearby parks to make sure we knew how everything works.  We’ve learned how to turn on the propane heater, attach the side mounted camp stove, and made lists of things we need to organize the very minimal storage.

And saw some pretty beautiful scenery.

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Our dog, Theo, who is rather a neurotic and barky mess, has proven better at camping than we thought he’d be.  He hates strangers and cars and bikes, but it turns out he is a big fan of woods and nature walks, and he’s been willing to keep a little quieter so other campers aren’t bothered.

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So I think this camping experiment is going to be a success once we work out all the kinks.

When not endlessly searching through the Washington and Oregon state park reservation systems, I’ve been sitting down at the sewing machine and am making more X and 16 patch blocks.  Nights in the forests get chilly – we are going to need a bunch of quilts!  It is motivating to get back to the fabric.

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(P.S.  That is Mt. St. Helens in the mountain photos above, our local volcano.  The visitors’ center at Johnston Ridge is wonderful – we’ve been going for years to see the recovery proceeding since the eruption. But it turns out no dogs are allowed in the national monument. Yet another thing we’ve newly learned about camping – check ahead where and when pets are allowed.)

Crossroads block

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I haven’t started a quilt top for awhile – or done much else with fabric – so it was time to get going on one.  I landed on this tutorial from the Bee in My Bonnet blog.

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I used a lot of my darker scraps on my Growing Up Odd quilt, so for this one I sorted out low volume fabric for the background and dug out some blue solids to scatter in.

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This is what the block is supposed to look like.

After I made the first block though, I realized that I’d have to do a lot of planning if I wanted each X to be from one blue rather than mixed.  I went back and forth on whether I cared, tried a different arrangement, finally decided I did care, and dismantled the completed block.

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So now the plan is to make the X blocks separately from the 16 patches and assemble it from there.

Growing Up Odd – a finish

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A windy photo shoot in the backyard for the finally finished Growing Up Odd quilt, based on a tutorial from the Wedding Dress Blue blog.

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We were racing to take the pictures in the last of the afternoon sunshine, hampered not just by the wind but by the fact that even on a chair and stretching, my son is barely 100” tall.  My husband didn’t need the chair but then he is 6’ 4” tall, before stretching.

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This quilt is made up of 2 1/2” squares from my precut scrap bin, sashed in Kona cotton’s windsor blue.  Nine-patch, 21-patch and 49-patch sections combined into 16 giant blocks randomly rotated to make a top that after quilting and washing is almost exactly 100” x 100”.  Bigger than a queen size, not quite a king.  It will be perfect for our bed in summer when the down comforter is too warm.

This is the quilt that I spent hours pinning badly, an epic fail of tape and will.  It ended up at Quilting Longarm Magic, a local service.

This was the first time I’ve ever sent a top out for quilting by someone else.  It felt a little bit like cheating, but then there are no quilt police, and I could never have done as well on my home machine.  It isn’t something I can afford to do often, but I can see doing it again for something equally large or a quilt that deserves really special patterns.  I don’t mind quilting, but it isn’t the part I truly enjoy, so I could finish a lot more quilts with the longarm help.

I chose a meandering squares pattern goes well with the multitude of square blocks.  With all those seams, I also wanted to anchor as many of the squares as possible.  A bed quilt will go in the washing machine and needs to be sturdy.

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The pattern shows up better on this section of the backing.  The thread used is almost the same blue as this backing fabric.

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He got it back to me in less than two weeks, on Saturday, and I spent Sunday squaring it up and then using the sliced off edges to make the binding.

It gives plenty of coverage on our bed.

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This is the largest quilt top I’ve ever made, and I have ambitions to make more now that this was a success.

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P.S.  I just did the math and there are 1,552 little squares in this quilt.  And I still have even more than those left in the scrap bin.  The scraps can never be defeated!

 

Snowflake #4 – Whisper

Last week I finally finished the 4th snowflake for the Paper Cuts BOM.  A little after February, but I am officially no longer behind.

This snowflake is called Whisper, which seems appropriate for the quiet that also falls when the snow does.

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The first four snowflakes in this BOM are the smallest at 9 1/2″.  Adding strips brings them up to 12 1/2″.  From now on, it looks like the rest of the snowflakes won’t need strips to get to that size.  The blocks will be on point when the quilt is put together, though I’ve been photographing them as squares.

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Paper piecing certainly generates a lot of scrap bits, both paper and fabric.  I spend a lot of time trimming the various sections.

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This time I managed to sew them all together in the right order, at least.

And the snowflake summoning magic of the blocks continued, because after I sewed the block, the next day the trees looked like this:

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Very rare for early March around here.

I’m a little worried about what happens when I get around to the March block at the end of the month, much less the April and May blocks . . .

WIP status report

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Progress is being made, with minor setbacks.

My at-work knitting, a ribbed cowl made from wool and silk handspun is a visual joy to knit, though I ripped it back three times until I got a width and stitch pattern I liked.  The yarn gleams and there is so much variation in the green.  I’m loving every row, and it makes the meetings go faster.

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My Woolford sweater is proceeding as well.  I’m really looking forward to wearing it sometime soon.

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My row gauge doesn’t match well with the called for gauge so I’ve made some changes in the rate of increases and decreases and I eliminated most of the lower back short rows that would have dipped the back hem as I prefer it straighter.

I’ve reached the wide lower border, which means a lot of ~300 stitch rows that I can crank out during TV or book time.  The needles are getting progressively larger as well.  I’m speeding through the yarn, which is a little worrisome as I have only eight skeins in the same dye lot.  I’m hoping the difference won’t be as noticeable if I use the different dye lot just for the sleeves.  So the first has to hold out through the lower part of the sweater.

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On the quilting front , I finally faced facts and threw in the towel on the Growing Up Odd quilting.  I paid my very broke son $5 to take out all the pins (he wanted a milkshake and I wanted to save my fingers!) and called up a local long arm quilting service.

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I made the backing larger, ironed everything, and dropped it off yesterday with a nice man named Charlie who is going to cover it with blue thread meandering squares and get it back to me in a couple weeks.  He is far better equipped to deal with a nearly king sized quilt.

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It is a very impressive machine.  My plan for my non-existent lottery winnings has a new addition.