Wednesday, May 31, 2006

The Princess

A longarm quilting machine is an expensive piece of equipment, used to sew intricate designs on the top layer of a quilt. In my case, it has become a kitty hammock.

Since the longarm is about 4 feet by 112 feet, the only space in our house to put it is the loft. Lofts, by nature, are large open spaces...meaning no doors. It is impossible to keep cats off furniture without doors. (The bathroom doors are always closed in our house because a certain calico likes to play with toilet paper.)

The lovely blue sheet at least keeps the cat hair off of the quilt!

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Christmas in May

Here is a little something to get you through the long hot days of summer...start thinking about Christmas! This bargello went together VERY quickly. The fabrics are some of the strips from my Cotton Rainbow project. I was trying to think of another project for our Strip Club, and Marilyn Doheny just gave a lecture on bargello. Perfect for strips and strata!

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Charity Blocks

Number 1 of 3. This bear paw variation will be part of a charity quilt. My local guild does 4 charity quilts per year...3 go to outside organizations and one is donated to the church whose facilities we use for meetings. We saw a really neat quilt in the book "Hidden Blocks" and we used that for inspiration. A quilt appraiser told us that two-color quilts, such as blue and white, or red and white, are the most popular/valuable, so that influenced our color scheme.

If you ever get the chance to hear a quilt appraiser talk about her work, take advantage! It was fascinating to learn about color techniques and fabric dating, all the way to pattern development and how that influences future market value of a quilt.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Feelin' the Blues

You are Ocean Blue

You're both warm and practical. You're very driven, but you're also very well rounded.
You tend to see both sides to every issue, and people consider you a natural diplomat.
Deb at Red Shoe Ramblings shares fun quizzes about once a week. This one fits me pretty well, being a Libra and all ;-)

Saturday, May 20, 2006

The secret sweater

In previous posts, I have mentioned this sweater, my current knitting project. It's not really a secret, I just never got around to taking a picture! Here, you can see that I am almost done with section 2 - right back. I have already finished section 1 - left front and I am looking forward to repeating the process with left back and right front.
I am using a DK weight alpaca yarn from Royal Fiber, in blue, heather and multi-colors, on US #3s. It should be just right for winter in Phoenix, layered over a t-shirt! Hopefully, I will have it complete by November, but considering it took me almost a year to get to this point, don't hold your breath.
This is my second sweater project. The first was a t-shirt sweater pattern, knit in Butterfly Super 10 cotton. It is sitting in the closet, waiting for blocking. I have procrastinated on that so long, that now it is probably too hot to wear for another six months. I'll have to set a reminder for September, block the sweater, then I can wear it the week before the vest! (Here in the desert, we only have a small window of sweater-wearing temperatures, so it's good to plan ahead.)

Quilt Camp Challenge

Shortly after discovering quilting, I learned about Quilt Camp. Each year, they issue a challenge, based on the year's color. Last year was the color Purple...several stories come to mind, but I'll save those for another post!

This year is teal. I took a class with Ricky Tims and learned his Caveman Quilting techniques. I am planning to embellish the "Teal Magnolia" and enter it in the annual challenge. It's basically a popularity contest, which I've never had any luck with, but I keep trying :-)

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Knotty, Knotty

I am getting low on the blue yarn in my multi-color vest, so I brought a new skein to wind at the shop tonight.

Problem #1 - hank is too long for the swift. No big deal, I just try to lay it loosely above and below the supports. Fine, we're winding along and then I notice strands are wound around the center post of the swift. Yikes! Not great, but totally fixable.

Solution #1 - Take hank off swift and hang it from my shoulder. Kind of awkward to wind, but I sort of get a rhythmic wrist shake to keep things moving.

Problem #2 - Big knot is developing as the winding end get tangled with loose end of hank. Temporary fix as I get a long enough strand to wind a couple turns before stopping to untangle.

Solution #2 - Stop and fight with huge knot. Slowly untangle from both ends, remembering to breathe deeply. Wish for camera as I start mentally drafting blog entry.

Problem #3 - Notice a spot where the yarn seems to be felting itself together. Darn alpaca wool!!!

Solution #3 - Untangle from both ends so the felt-y knot has only about 4 inches of yarn wasted. Cut off and tie remaining ends back together. Ahhhhh, back to knitting!

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Alex is dreamy

This was the inspiration for my first quilt (except I used the turquoise background). I love giraffes, and this fabric was fun to match things with! I used the Lasagna pattern, which just has you sew strips together in random order. I love playing with color! It was quilted by my longarm mentor, Barbara Harrell. I was thrilled when she brought my ideas to life...squiggly lines in the center, to give you the feeling of wavy lasagna noodles, and free-form animals in the borders. It is spectacular!

Friday, May 12, 2006

Secret Pal Survey

1. Which yarn is most like your personality (you can be specific or general with your answer- brand, type, color, fiber, whatever)?
Noro...I like the varigated colors and you can use it in so many things, sweaters, felting. I go in many different directions in real life!

2. What is your favorite color yarn to knit/crochet with?
I enjoy the full spectrum of colors. It generally depends on the project and recipient.

3. Have you ever used variegated, or magic, yarns?
Yes. I made a striped felted bag and I am making a vest with varigated yarn.

4. Do you tend to favor certain fibers when choosing yarns?
Again, depends on the project. Acrylic/washables for baby items, cotton or lightweight wool for clothing for me, and novelty for other stuff! Currently I am in an "alpaca" phase.

5. Do you prefer to work with center-pull or traditionally wound balls of yarn?
No preference.

6. Have you ever worked with organic yarns or are you interested in trying them?
I'm not sure what constitutes "organic." I'd like to try some of the more unusual yarns, like bamboo.

7. How many and what projects have you made in the last year?
A sweater for me, several scarves, and a prayer shawl for a friend.

8. Will you be knitting any gifts this year?
Oh probably! I'd like to have a baby blanket on hand if the need arises for a quick gift. My husband mentioned that I could knit him some socks.

9. What is your favorite one skein project?
From the book, I want to try the tank top, the baby bolero, a clutch, some cupcakes.... Maybe I should just start at the front and make one of everything!

10. How much yarn do you have in your stash and how do you store it?
My stash is rather pitiful...just leftovers from other projects! I have a zippered tote bag by the sofa to store it, away from my cats.

11. Do you have a yarn in your stash that you love so much you can never use it or part with it?
No, I have only purchased yarn for specific projects that get started right away. I do my fondling and coveting of fancy yarn at my mom's yarn store!

12. Do you knit less or differently in the summer?
Actually, I will probably knit more this summer! I teach high school, so I can use the summer vacation as 100% craft time...split between quilting during the day and knitting in front of the TV.

13. Do you belong to any knitting groups (online or offline)?
I only manage to attend my local SnB once a month. But I work Saturdays at a yarn store, so that's like a knittting group! I have a selection of favorite knitting blogs that I visit almost daily, but I'm not an official member of any webrings.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

She crosses the finish line...

with about an hour to spare before the deadline.

This is the quilt that will be "unveiled" at our LQS Strip Club meeting tomorrow. I am having lots of fun with these strip quilt patterns. (I'll post the publisher info later) They are made from 2.5" strips. They go together quickly and they are contemporary designs.

Although, I think my next quilt will be soft pastels or neutrals...I am on overload after my last three quilts having bright colors!

If I could live long enough to make all these quilts...

Last night I went to a lecture at Cotton Fields and met Marilyn Doheny. She talked about using her 9-degree wedge ruler to make fans. WOW. The basic technique is to make strata of at least 3 different fabrics, then use the ruler to make a variety of cuts, which will give you different fan patterns. She uses the fans to make butterflys, flowers and abstract spirals, in all different sizes. You could spend the rest of your life making quilts with this one technique. I totally understand how artists create a "series" idea is so intriguing that you come back to it over and over again.

Another pattern I've had that feeling about is Crazy Eights, by Mary Sue Suit. Tropical Screamer has a sample on her blog. (I'll try to post a picture of my version this weekend!) Mary Ellen developed a special ruler (I'm sensing a trend here about breaking into the quilting world with tools...) to make the eight-pointed stars. Her blocks end up pretty big, 16 inches. I'd like to make a smaller version, but I haven't figured the math out yet. (I take more of a sew-first-measure-later track when I'm designing something!)

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Low Fiber Content

Well, my foray into blogland has been rather dull, hasn't it?!? My problem is that I surf the web during free time at school, so I don't have my picture files. Plus, I'm waiting for a new camera battery!

School's out in 2 weeks, and then there will be much rejoicing and posting and lots of cotton-related pictures!

I have been quilting and knitting. I got about 8 rows done on my sweater at a church meeting last night. Last week, I tried a pantograph on the longarm. That was a quick project! This week I am doing some custom work. The deadline is Friday afternoon...I hope I make it!

Friday, May 05, 2006


...found as I was surfing the Stash Quilts webring

What was I up to:
20 years ago ... Enjoying springtime in Washington D.C., just before my junior year of high school
10 years ago ... Planning a move from Rapid City SD to Mountain Home ID, little did I know I would be in for a year of emotional divorce-related turmoil!
5 years ago ... Happily engaged, finishing my first year of teaching
1 year ago ... Trying to get pregnant with fertility drugs
1 month ago ... Heavy duty choir practice for Easter services
Yesterday ... Got fingerprinted to start the adoption paperwork
Today ... TGIF! Giving tests in my algebra classes and looking forward to quilting time this afternoon
Tomorrow ... helping at the monthly church workday, working at my LQS, and watching the Phoenix Suns advance to Round 2 of the NBA playoffs!