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.

 

 

Covering the walls

Our previous house had very few wall spaces that were free of windows or doors, so we moved into the current house without a lot of things to hang on the wall.  One of my favorites that we do have is a wood and metal framed mirror that I bought in a trip to South Africa.

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I bought it impulsively, and then discovered that it wouldn’t even fit in the rental car — I’m not sure how I thought it was going to fit in a suitcase.  I walked right back into the shop and they mailed it to the States for me, minus the glass.  Except I lived in Israel at the time, so it sat in a friend’s storage until we moved back.  I was so happy to be reunited with it several years later.

I love everything about it: all the metal colors, the cute animals, the little nails holding all the pieces together.

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The wall hanging I’ve been working on is for the same hall.  I wanted the colors and feeling to go with it, minus the creatures.

Today, yet another snow day (those foothills on the side of the school district keep even those of us on the rainy lowlands out of school) meant sewing time to finish up the binding and hanging sleeve.

It was hard to get a picture of it hanging because of the narrow hall.  I didn’t have a dowel so it is just pinned, and at some point I need to dampen it and toss it in the dryer as it got overly pressed in places while I worked on the binding, but it is done, and up, and works in the space.  I left room between it and the mirror to hang some smaller pictures in the future.

I started without a real design plan in mind and it morphed a lot along the way, but I’m calling it a success.

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(I stood inside the coat closet to take this picture.)

 

Sewing and snowing

The magic snowflake blocks apparently had a delay in their effects this time, because we rode out the rest of the week with just one late start.  The ground did eventually get a little white on Tuesday, but not a really impressive snowfall in the low lands.  However, that changed Friday night.

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While nothing compared to what Seattle got, this is a pretty good snowfall for southwestern Washington.   And more is supposed to be on the way, though I don’t think it’s going to be the snowpocalypse students were  hoping for on Friday when we left school with weather warnings ringing out on the intercom.

And of course it is perfect sewing weather! I don’t think I’m going to risk pushing the weather gods any further with the snowflakes this weekend. Instead I’m working to finish off my framed strips wall hanging.

I started by outlining all the shapes and stitching in the ditch between all the strips on the bottom border.

My plan was to use matchstick quilting for the background.  Everything I’ve read says don’t change direction with straight line quilting to avoid puckering and waves, but quilting around shapes in the middle of the lines’ paths meant not being able to just sew off the edge.  That leaves a lot of thread ends.

When I make wall hangings, I often don’t put the backing on until I’ve done most of the top stitching. It means I don’t have to tie knot after knot after knot to bury the ends after pulling them through.  I can just leave the ends loose on the back.  That speeds things up a bit.  And they stick to the batting or get sewn over with the next lines so they stay put.

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Still, there were a lot of ends to pull through!

I started the matchstick quilting in the smaller background areas.   I figured that would give me practice, and also I could just change directions and go back-and-forth because it was such a small area it wouldn’t make waves.

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It’s very time and thread consuming! After I finish those two small areas, I decided that I wanted to vary the texture, so I kept the lines in the rest of the background half inches apart. I marked lines two inches apart, then the one inch lines in the middle of those, and then I was able to eyeball all the rest of the lines without marking to get the half-inch spaced lines in there.

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It is now fully quilted, the backing is on, and it’s been trimmed square. Just the binding to put around the edge now and it will ready for the wall.

While I sewed, my son spent some time doing his own type of craft.

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Dove

Papercuts snowflake #3 – Dove

 

For some reason this one really gave me fits.  I managed to get all the fabric right side out, but putting the pieces together was one dumb mistake after another.  Clear visual and written directions aren’t a lot of help if you don’t look at them!

I thought things were moving along swimmingly – all four part As were attached to their part Bs.

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That was when the seam ripping began.  Part C was not going to fit on that short edge.

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Sigh – I’d sewn A & B together on the wrong sides.  And because I was working in an assembly line fashion, that meant all the sections were mis-sewn.

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The misaligned version on the left, the corrected version on the right.

The Cs finally on, my next struggle was to get the seams to line up right.  There was more seam ripping — three times on the last seam! — and a bit of cursing, but it finally came out.

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Just don’t look at the back.  There is a lot of fraying.

Snowless snow day

Apparently the sympathetic magic worked – I woke up at 5:20 this morning to an automated phone call from my district declaring a snow day.

Except there is no snow.

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I guess the storm split and went around our town.  But up in the hills it got white and icey, so the buses can’t safely get those kids down to the schools.  So the whole district stayed home.

My boys were devastated to discover that because their district is in a flatter part of town, they had to head out into the cold while mom stayed in her pajamas.  I was . . . not devastated . . . to have a quiet day to myself.

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And I made the second snowflake for the January blocks of the Papercuts BOM. It is called Squall, so we will see what the evening brings!