Craft packing

We leave in the wee hours of tomorrow morning for a trip to Israel – my sister-in-law is getting married.  It will be the first time I’ve been back in almost ten years, so I’m pretty excited.  I taught there at an international school for a few years, and it is where I met my husband.

Color block scarf yarn
Yarn for a mistake rib color block scarf to knit on the plane.

Since I can’t take my sewing machine with me, it will be an all knitting trip.  So hard to judge how much to take.  When I was there before there weren’t really any yarn stores – just a little acrylic tucked in the corners of general stores.  It was in Israel where I restarted my knitting.  I’d knit years before when I was in college, but I had wrist troubles due to a factory job and I had to give it up.

Then my cousin called me to say she was having a baby and I was determined to knit a baby blanket.  I sat in a park and retaught myself how to cast on, dredged up memories of the motions for a purl stitch, and my new little baby cousin got a fairly electric yellow blanket in a thin acrylic – it was the only remotely baby colored non variegated yarn I could find in all of Tel Aviv.

That set me off on years of knitting joy and obsessiveness.  I would order yarn online and have it delivered to my folks and they’d bring it to me when they came on annual visits.  I knit blankets and scarves and sweaters and mittens, and then I discovered lace and knit probably 50 shawls and wraps.  I ran out of people to give them to.

Nearly finished fingerless gloves - I'm taking these to get them done and because I'll need the needles for the sock knitting.
Nearly finished fingerless gloves – I’m taking these to get them done and because I’ll need the needles for the sock knitting.

Knitting led to spinning and fiber fairs and classes and hand dyeing, and a knitting group run by a friend from college who I’m now in daily crafting conversations with.  (Hi, Paige!)  Yarn has been an amazingly comprehensive part of my life for 12-13 years.  When we moved down to Portland a couple of years ago, it was an embarrassment to me how much yarn I had to pack.

I dyed this purple to knit into socks.
I dyed this purple to knit into socks.

And even though a year and a half ago I jumped whole heartedly into quilting, knitting remains a constant.  I don’t go anywhere I might have to sit for a while without yarn and needles.  I can barely watch TV or read a book without needles in my hand.  I’ll never be able to wear all the cowls and scarves and shawlettes, and I’m running out of people to give them to!  Knitting is happiness, and calm, and entertainment whenever I need it.

Which means a lot of yarn going into my suitcase.

Scrappy coins

I got a commission through my Etsy store this week and have gotten started piecing the top.  It is a coin quilt, a great way to use a lot of colorful fabrics.  I pulled from my scrap bin as well as the more organized fat quarters and large scraps to make the stacks of strips.

My customer had seen this quilt in the shop and wants one like it but with black sashing.

Coin quilt - white sashing

So I have been cutting varying widths of strips and sewing them into stacks for the past couple days.  If I was using width of fabric strips, or even whole fat quarters I could do this more quickly because I could cut more than one stack from the sewn together strips.  But then I wouldn’t have either the variety of fabrics or the mix – the column stacks would all be in the same order.  So I went with the slower but more mixed multitude method.

Cutting strips

After sewing them together, I press and then trim them to the right width.  Long tails that get cut off are added back into the pile for the next column.Coin quilt - sewn stripsI have four of the columns done and will sew the fifth tonight and it will be ready for the sashing.  The back and the quilting will have to wait a couple weeks because we leave for our family vacation in Israel on Thursday!

Coin quilt - completed stacks

Wedding bells are ringing

The wedding invitation
The wedding invitation

My sister-in-law is getting married, and we get to go to Israel next week to go to the wedding!  According to my Israeli husband, money is a more common gift than presents, but I couldn’t not make her something.  So, inspired by their wedding invitation, I am making a mini quilt for them. I scanned the invitation and my sister used her spiffy (technical term) software and cutting thingie (2nd technical term) to cut out patterns for me.  I then used those to trace on the paper backing of fusible web I’d ironed to fabric to make different silhouettes.  Lots and lots of cutting around little corners came next.

Tracing the pattern pieces
Tracing the pattern pieces

I quilted a background of squares from different white and ivory fabrics and ironed on the silhouettes and was so close to being done!  Just embroidering their names in English and Hebrew and the binding to do.

Pnina's wedding quilt - wrong order
This is actually a patterned blue fabric, but my camera makes it look black.

Which is when I realized that I am an idiot.  An idiot who should not be trusted with an iron. See, the thing about Hebrew is that it reads from right to left, unlike English.  Which means that when I laid out the figures in a left to right pattern, as I read the invitation, I had the events out of order.  The figures rushing to each other were representing the first meeting, which had to go before the falling in love. i tried to pry them up, but I’d done my ironing too well and it ripped the figures and left blue shadows and glue on the background.

The ruined background
The ruined background

At this point, there was much swearing and stomping of feet and gnashing of teeth and then more swearing. The redone and almost done wedding mini-quilt When I calmed down and became resigned, I performed an emergency amputation of the top half.  I sewed on new batting, cut out new squares, sewed the new squares to the bottom half that I hadn’t wrecked, re-quilted, re-traced, re-cut, and after REALLY CAREFUL examination, re-ironed.

Amputating the mistake.
Amputating the mistake.

I’m now back where I was an hour and a half ago, with just the embroidery and binding to go.  Whew!

The almost done and redone wedding mini quilt
The almost done and redone wedding mini quilt

Oceans BOM – February block

The Quilt Art Designs pattern is out for the February paper-pieced ocean theme quilt. This one is a sea lion pup floating in the sea. A great use of perspective. I really liked January’s sea turtle, but I like this one even more.

The pattern comes with layout pics for both colors and piece order.
The pattern comes with layout pics for both colors and piece order.

Lots of tiny little pieces with this one. Also a lot of browns, which I didn’t have enough of so it was off to the fabric store to get three more marbled fabrics is various browns to add to the little I had. For the water I had a great remnant from the bag that my friend gave me of all her marbled and batik quilting scraps.

As an example of how many little bits there are (running A – S, so 19 segments) in the paper pieces, here is one of the eyes in progress:

The start of the eye
More pieces added to the eye – seam ripper added for scale
The rather chewed up paper backing

All told, I think this block took me about seven hours to create. Definitely a good thing that there is only one a month! Of course, if I was more careful, and didn’t need the seam ripper so often, I’d have shaved at least an hour off that time.

Assembly in progress
Assembly in progress
She still needs whiskers, but she's a cutey!
She still needs whiskers, but she’s a cutey!

I’m very enthusiastic about the finished block. Though I plan to do some really simple sewing to give my brain a break!

The finished block!
The finished block!

Half square triangles quilt in progress (for now)

HST trimming

I’d rather neglected this quilt as shinier objects caught my eye, and I would really like to get the design wall back, so I spent some time squaring up HST blocks to 5 1/2″ today.

About 20 to go and then I can get it all sewn together in the arrow pattern I finally settled on.

Lots of little trimmings piling up.


A dolphin family

I got another commission for a wall hanging, this time a family of dolphins. She wanted a mom, a teenager and twin youngsters to represent the family.

I went colorful rather than black silhouette with these, using two different marbled fabrics.

Then I made a tropical island with a sandy beach in the background and added some white caps.

I quilted both the water and the sky with wavy criss crossing lines before adding the dolphins, one leaping from the water and the others swimming below.

Next was outlining the dolphins, adding some dark blue (not black as it appears in the photo) underwater waves, a few clouds, and it was almost done. Just eye and mouth embroidery to do, and the binding to finish it all off.