April 22, 2014

Knitting a scarf: love the colors!

Aren't these colors amazing? The yarn can be a bit tricky to work with, but I am loving its texture. I found a simple pattern at Ravelry as I wanted to draw attention to the colors and not so much the stitching.

Both sides are identical, which is perfect for a scarf. Since all I have to do is "k, YO, k2 tog"  until I reach the desired length, I might even try learning to knit without looking at the needles! My eyes would REALLY appreciate the break.

Here are the specs:

Yarn: Red Heart Boutique Treasure (and I don't usually buy Red Heart, yet but this one is super soft)
Needles: Circular US size 10 (6 mm), 12"
Pattern (free): Drishdi Scarf by Erica Gunn

I could have finished it already but I stopped to knit a teddy bear for my grandson's 1st Birthday. What a disaster that was... but I will write a post with photo once I recover from it! :-)

Do you have a favorite scarf pattern, lace or otherwise? I have another yarn for a scarf for me but haven't decided on the pattern yet. Let me know...

April 21, 2014

"Quilt as desired": here's help!

501 Quilting MotifsWhen a quilt top is finished, the next step is to figure out how to quilt it. I have been quilting my own projects for almost 10 years, often deciding on quilting motifs just as I am placing the quilt sandwich in my Bernina. However, I have never taken a course on what to consider when choosing quilting motifs, relying instead on my instincts.
Martingale - 501 Quilting Motifs (Print version + eBook bundle)
That is why I was so excited when I received for review the book "501 Quilting Motifs - Designs for Hand or Machine Quilting" from the editors of Quiltmaker Magazine, published by That Patchwork Place, an imprint of Martingale. Sure, I have half a dozen or so books with quilting motifs to inspire me, but what sets this one apart from the others are the introduction pages, full of guidance on selecting motifs, adapting them to your projects, as well as marking the quilt top, with a handy table of marking tools featuring pros and cons of each one.

The quilting motifs are presented by theme: children and teens, flowers, geometric, hearts, etc., each with placement ideas for blocks of varied shapes as well as for borders. My favorite selections are the flowers, with the vines and borders coming in a close second. The index lists motifs by shape and size, expediting the selection task.

Martingale - 501 Quilting Motifs (Print version + eBook bundle)Martingale - 501 Quilting Motifs (Print version + eBook bundle)

Martingale offers their books on print and eBook versions. 501 Quilting Motifs is a great candidate for anyone's eBook collection, for you can print the pages as you needed them. Love this option!

I have a few tops ready for quilting, and this book has arrived just in time. Its many motifs are making my fingers itch to quilt. If you are shopping for quilting motifs, consider adding this collection to your library - it will become your go-to resource.

Enjoy your Monday!

April 10, 2014

Embroidering blocks for a quilt

Two more blocks finished for my grandson's quilt. I started embroidering them in January 2013, and my grandson turns one next week! Ai, ai, ai...
Yep, it is all about Noah's ark, which I am embroidering now. I will add sashing and borders, but it will not be ready by Monday. You can find the other blocks I embroidered here, here, here, here, and here. I only have three more to go. The pre-printed blocks only had the animals so I added grass, water, and other elements to enhance them, unless the animals were large.

I am not stressing about it. I will give it to him when it is ready. In the meantime, I found cute summer clothes for him at Gymboree yesterday, including beach sandals, shoes, beach clothes... It is all neatly wrapped up, along with four stuffed animals which belonged to his daddy. I had washed, dried them, and put them away for this occasion, long before a grandchild was even a dream.

That is all I can think about this week: hugging and kissing my grand baby, who is coming from California. Oh, yes, I want to see my son and his wife, too. :-)

Happy Thursday!

April 4, 2014

Spring wall hanging

Hey, it is sunny here today! It is quite possible that Spring weather is here to stay... This clear day is putting me in the mood for playing with colors, speaking of which - how do you like my latest wall hanging? The colorful border has all the hues I chose for the hexie flowers, and it brightens the whole thing up.

I love attaching the hexies with a zigzag stitch using contrasting color. I used monofilament to quilt the grey background (can you tell I was craving jelly beans as I was quilting?), and also to quilt around the paisley shapes on the border. A single block is all it takes to come up with a wall hanging, a pillow, a bag, or an apron, and it is perfect for those days when you want to sew but do not want to work on a large project.

Martingale - 25 Patchwork Quilt Blocks Volume 2 (Print version + eBook bundle)

This fun block came from the cover of "25 Patchwork Quilt Blocks, Volume 2" by  Katy Jones, which I received from Martingale for review. Yep, I have been getting a lot of inspiration from their books lately... Katy used traditional blocks and techniques, such as applique and English paper piecing, livened them up with modern fabrics, and gave us 25 great ideas for quick projects as well as larger quilts. Each block finishes at 6" (8"with borders), although I made mine really big: the center block measures 11" and the final wall hanging is 19" x 19". 

Martingale - 25 Patchwork Quilt Blocks Volume 2 (Print version + eBook bundle)
 Photograph by Brent Kane for Martingale

I love her choice of fabrics for the block above (Little House)... Fussy-cutting here not only adds detail but enhances the 'story' the block is telling. Newsprint patterned-fabrics appear in most of her blocks: can we read and sew at the same time? :-) Whether you can multitask or not, you will enjoy the updated look of each block. Then...

Martingale - 25 Patchwork Quilt Blocks Volume 2 (Print version + eBook bundle) 
 Photograph by Brent Kane for Martingale

 ...how about this dresden plates and hexies quilt? It is called "Field of Daisies", perfect for a girl's room, although Katy says she designed it for picnics, a usually rainy affair in her native United Kingdom. I am really tempted to start on this project today... and I have the right fabrics in my stash.

If you are a beginner quilter, the introduction gets you through the details you will need to get started. The pattern instructions will make your work easier, as they are clear and have many diagrams. As a seasoned quilter, you will enjoy her new ideas.

I have just a couple of hours to quilt before my kids get home from school. Enough time to work on the first dresden block!

Enjoy the weekend,

April 1, 2014

Sewing pouch and pattern

I love how this sewing pouch turned out! The colors are bright and cheerful. I have made and sold dozens of these pouches to my friends and family, and many of them have one for each handwork project. Here is what it looks like inside:
It has room for pins, needles, threads, buttons... whatever you may be using on your project. It is fun deciding which fabrics to use and where to put them. I had cut the fabrics a few weeks ago for this one but never had the chance to put it all together until today. I needed another pouch for an embroidery project I want to take on a trip (they are so portable), and it is finally ready!

I am no longer taking orders for these sewing pouches, so I wrote a pattern for them (downloadable, $6, you can find it here). Unlike other pouches, this one has a sturdy, flat bottom so it won't flip over. I also like the way the drawstring works, keeping everything in and the dust out.

This sewing pouch provides a neat way to organize hand sewing projects, and makes a great gift. Ask my quilting friends! When we get together to hand quilt, we each have our supplies in these, and the quilt is dotted with pouches of different colors...

Do you have a bag or box where you like to keep handwork supplies?

March 31, 2014

Quilting and Dreaming: 1930s

Candy Store and MoreWhen I read a quilting, recipe, knitting or other craft book, I read it from cover to cover including pattern and recipe details, general instructions, etc. I enjoy every bit of it provided it covers a subject of interest to me. I am often surprised at the things I learn, which I would have missed had I only read the pattern or recipe I was looking for or liked.

Such is the case with "Candy Store and More - 1930s Quilts Made New" by Kay Connors and Karen Earlywine, recently published by Martingale. Surely, I expected to see patterns with dresden plates, pinwheels, baskets and pieced flowers made with era-inspired prints. What I found was an eyeful of beautiful quilt designs, as Kay and Karen deliver on their promise to make 'new' treasures out of old favorites. The icing on the cake: their commentary at the beginning of each pattern, showcasing original newspaper clippings and information about block origin which, along with their book introduction, took me on a journey to the Depression Era and helped me see those blocks under a new light.

My favorites of the 10 projects featured in Candy Store and More:

Martingale - Candy Store and More (Print version + eBook bundle)Martingale - Candy Store and More (Print version + eBook bundle)Martingale - Candy Store and More (Print version + eBook bundle)
                                              Photos by Brent Kane for Martingale.

If you like 1930s-inspired fabrics and quilts you will be delighted with this book. To get you in the mood, grab a box of Sugar Babies, a couple of Musketeers bars, sit comfortably and enjoy!

March 26, 2014

Strip Quilt: quick, easy, and fun!

Here is my latest finish still on my design wall, waiting for a hanging sleeve. The name of this quilt is Teenagers in our House - see if you can guess why! I had fun making this quilt using 2 1/2" strips left over from a queen-size quilt I made for my son's wedding (see it here). It is an adaptation of a quilt I found in a book I received for review: "Strip Savvy - 2 1/2"-Strip Quilting Designs" by Kate Henderson.

Martingale - Strip Savvy (Print version + eBook bundle)
 Photo by Brent Kane for Martingale.

Kate Henderson presents fun ideas on how to use up pre-cuts or leftover strips, turning them into amazing quilts which are quickly put together and sure to please everyone. Her 18 inspiring modern designs will get you running to your stash, as I did to mine. I especially appreciated her innovative techniques for constructing traditional blocks, something I always look for to ease and speed up my projects. What, with only two hands and hundreds of quilts I want to make, I need help!

I read the General Instructions section carefully and got many tips for improving my quilting experience. The pattern instructions are clear, with lots of diagrams to ensure we understand the process.

Martingale - Strip Savvy (Print version + eBook bundle)Martingale - Strip Savvy (Print version + eBook bundle)Martingale - Strip Savvy (Print version + eBook bundle)
Photos by Brent Kane for Martingale.

Do you see what I mean? These are my favorites. The quilt on the right, "Little Houses", is the one which made me put the book down and start working. I opted for orienting my little houses in one direction and making the roofs all the same color.  This wall hanging measures 40 3/4" by 26 3/4", was pieced with Aurifil threads, and quilted with Isacord polyester thread. Freemotion quilted on my Bernina, and the binding was hand sewn.

As a contrast to the straight lines of the pieced blocks, I quilted 'rocks' on the 'wall' sashing, wavy lines on the roof, wonky lines on the house, and swirls next to the roof. All the while, my teenage boys were making a racket in the basement. Thus, the look and the name of the quilt...

"Inspiration", in my dictionary, is the spark 'something' causes in my brain to make me run to my studio as fast as possible and start working. Books provide lots of it, and Strip Savvy did the trick for me this time.

Happy sewing!


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