Archive for September, 2010

In search of the colors of Autumn

This afternoon I found some color downtown but then this evening we took a drive. We arrived too late to explore but the cottage is lovely.

Tomorrow we’ll relax by the lake and maybe do a bit of exploring.

Socks — another long winded post

JudyL who inspired me to learn to knit socks is having a sock knit along beginning on November 1 and is encouraging everyone who wants to learn to join in.

Earlier this year I decided that socks would make the perfect travel project and that I was going to teach myself to knit them. I’m a very inexperienced knitter who taught myself to knit from a book about 4 years ago but hadn’t knit much of anything in the last 2-3 years because quilting and HeartStrings seems to eat up all my time.

One thing I did know from knitting a few hats is that I HATE double pointed needles so while Judy loves knitting with them, I knew I’d have to find another method that would work for me. I also knew I’d do best if I knit two at a time so I wouldn’t end up with a bunch of single socks.

After extensive research, I decided I would knit two at a time on two circular needles from the cuff down. (I initially wanted to do toe up but quickly decided cuff down would be easier to learn).

While I bought several books — the one I used to learn and still refer to most is Knitting Circles Around Socks.

I use yarn from Knit Picks and I love their Harmony circular needles (I have a set with interchangeable tips but I prefer the fixed circular needles that don’t have the connection between the tips and cable)

While the book uses Worsted weight yarn and size 5 needles in 16 and 24 inches for the basic socks where she shows you the process step by step, I used sport weight for my first pair and there are other patterns in the book using other yarn weights.

Most of my socks now are made from fingering yarn and size 2 (2.75mm) needles but the sport weight ones are quick! If you buy the sock yarn in balls (which are really skeins) you don’t need to wind a hank into balls or divide it into two although I did invest in a ball winder after my first couple pair of socks.

The biggest thing people seem to object to with this method is that they tangle their yarn. It’s really pretty easy to keep the yarn in the correct position and untangled but like every new thing you learn, you have to get used to it.

First, people tend to turn their work in the same direction every time. With two skeins you need to alternate the direction you turn otherwise you get this:

I keep my skeins in a plastic bag and there’s no need to pull them out, I just twist my work in the opposite direction a couple times. I can easily glance down at my yarn and see which way I need to turn the work to keep myself untangled.

Another thing mentioned in the book that I had to learn for myself is keeping my yarn to the back of my work. When you first turn, most likely the yarn on your second sock will be falling in front like this photo.

So you simply move it to the back before bringing your needle around to start the next row.

I’m working on my heel flaps right now and I’m starting with a slip stitch with my yarn in front. If I lift it over my hand and pass my needle under it, I won’t get it trapped inside the circle.

Here, it would end up trapped in my circle.

So really all you need to do is alternate the direction you turn your work and keep your working yarn to the outside of the circle!

But really if you forget to move your yarn to the outside while you’re learning — it’s pretty simple to just pass the ball of yarn through your circle to get it in the right position.

I’ll just state again, this is the method that works for me…. it may not work for you and I really have nothing invested in convincing you to do it MY way but if you’d like to give two at a time a shot, don’t be turned off by people who’ve tried it and don’t like it.

Seriously, I’m not that talented so it can’t be but so hard if I can do it.

Don’t forget to join in Judy’s November knit along!

Let me be clear

A recent discussion on the Accuquilt GO Yahoo group makes me want to clearly state that the information I share on my blog about things I’ve purchased and love ARE NOT recommendations for everyone to go out and purchase the same items.

I love my GO, my Kindle, my iPad, my electric bike but they all fit me and how I do things, you may not find them as wonderful or as useful. So what you read here is all about ME and what works for ME.

The recent discussion on the GO is about getting inaccurate cuts. You may remember some comments I made a while back after Angie commented that she wasn’t happy with the accuracy of her GO and found it didn’t work for her.

I understand that fabric unlike paper has stretch and if you roll it through the machine you may get less than perfect cuts but as I always tell people, Accuquilt has tips for better cutting on their website and grain does make a difference to how accurate your results will be.

So I started piecing a quilt today — I’d cut these bricks mainly from scraps and hadn’t paid a lot of attention to grain line so I’m not surprised that they’re off a little bit BUT I’ve made hundreds of Rail Fence blocks and mine are always off some because I sew with a slightly generous 1/4 inch seam so my blocks always need a little trimming and I’m OK with that. See that edge not lining up?

A little trim and the block is good — slightly undersized but hey, there are no points to worry about here.

And just to show how being careful to cut on the lengthwise grain makes a difference …. both were cut with the GO but the one on the right was cut from a scrap and I didn’t pay attention to grain. (I also didn’t pay attention to how I rotated the ruler when I was showing the difference — these are 3.5 x 6.5 inch blocks not 8.5 inches)

But in this quilt — I don’t care. I make well constructed quilts but I don’t worry about being perfect. In this case, I make sure my centers come together correctly, and then square up the block.

Let’s face it, if I was into perfection, I would be sub-cutting all these strips first and not sewing them and then whacking them off with my scissors.

And yes, even I use a seam ripper occasionally when I rotate a block the wrong way.

Even with the extra time to trim up these blocks, the GO cutter saves me SO much time when I’m cutting scrap quilts. AND when I’m careful about my grain and how I feed the fabric through the cutter my cuts are certainly as accurate as they’d be if I were rotary cutting.

And for those of you who took the time to read this whole long winded post … here’s my Forest Bricks in progress.

Keith’s top is done!

I had every intention of stretching this task out for another day or two but when I got to work this afternoon, I found myself finishing it up.

It’s big — 75 x 93 — so this is the best photo of it I’m going to get without Keith here to hold it up.

The backing still needs to be pieced and I have to decide what color thread I’m going to use to quilt it. I’m leaning toward a gold variegated that I love on Autumn quilts but I may go brown or even green.

And just in case someone didn’t see my last couple posts – the pattern is from the booklet Happy Hour Quilts.

On my design wall

Finally I have something new to show you. I finished all the blocks for Keith’s quilt this weekend and am in the process of assembling it.

It’s from the book Happy Hour Quilts and it’s perfect for these flannels.

Assembling tops are my least favorite thing but I’ve got this almost halfway done and I’ll work on it on and off over the next day or two….it also has one border but hopefully I’ll get it done before the weekend.

Other tasks today are trimming quilts and getting a couple boxes packed for shipping and working with the electrician to figure out why we have a breaker that keeps popping.

Turns out we had a hall light that went bad and had to be replaced — Luckily I hadn’t yet thrown away the light from the upstairs bedroom where I put the ceiling fan in a week or two ago. Of course, trash goes out tomorrow so just one day later and I would have had to go buy a new light. This one is way fancier and brighter than the one that was there which is nice since it’s right outside the laundry closet.

A new quilt

I’ve finally started Keith’s quilt – I was supposed to have made it before last winter but I’m a year late. Although I’m always looking at books and quilts for inspiration, I rarely use patterns for my quilts but this one is an exception. The quilt will be flannel front and back and I’m using a simple pattern (a good idea when piecing flannel I think) from the book Happy Hour Quilts. I can see I need to press that blue again — it has stubborn creases in it!

I’ll have to set my design wall back up now that they’re finished the work on the shower too.

For those of you interested, I posted all the photos I took while I was at the Maine Sew-in and they have captions now. I’m hoping that I’ll get some more photos when the others go home because I was only there a few days and it’s a week long event.

Kind of a gray day

It was overcast but not raining so we headed out for a bike ride this morning. To the lakes and then we explored an offshoot of the Cedar Lake trail for a while but it didn’t really seem to lead anywhere so we turned around – we’re starting to see some real changes in the leaves.

We rode a little over 18 miles — I love my new bike. I haven’t ridden these distances in over a year and it feels wonderful to be able to get out and go as far as we want without worrying about whether I’ll be able to make it back!

Lazy, Lazy day

After working like a fiend in Maine, I’ve spent today relaxing (and I got a massage too!). So how about some quilting inspiration from Nancy and Susan – I think both quilts are gorgeous.

First, Nancy finished her Tessellating Pinwheel QOV top

And Susan made Framed Rectangles – both instructions are available (for free) on my MaryQuilts.com site.

I MISS the ocean

A trip to Maine wouldn’t be complete without seeing the ocean. I took a detour to Cape Elizabeth before heading to the airport this afternoon.

And I helped

Quilts are piling up in Maine and I’ve been helping. I’ve spent 3 and a half days at the tying table but now it’s time to head home.

Tying

I’ve been putting the tying station Bev created for me to good use today and everyone has been working hard. It’s nice to see the quilts start to pile up.

Someone at home is looking for a little attention from Keith don’t you think?

I love Maine!

First a yummy dinner on the water and then just look at the workspace Bev set up for me! I’m thrilled to be spending the next few days with my fellow HeartStrings members. I just love tying these string quilts — the first one is already tied and I’ll finish trimming it tomorrow!

Quilt photos

I love to see quilts that people make using instructions from my MaryQuilts.com site and this week I received two emails. The first from Nancy who is working on a Tessellating Pinwheels top and the second from Lynne who made a Boxed Squares quilt. Aren’t they both great?!

One last top quilted

Another top of Mom’s quilted quickly with the Halcyon pantograph I used on the last top. I’m sorry  that the piecing pattern doesn’t show up very well in this photo – this is a kit from Connecting Threads but rather than leaving the big open white space in the middle, I had Mom piece more half square triangles.

Look at that texture and yes, I quilted right over the applique but you can’t see my thread – it’s a cream thread that blends well with her fabrics.

Another beautiful Saturday

We rode the bikes down to Lake Calhoun again along the Cedar Trail – had lunch, lounged on the beach some and then rode home in time for me to start packing for my trip to Maine.

September’s postcards

Not much sewing today but I finished the postcards for our family exchange that I started last night. Nothing elaborate here but they’re always fun to make. This time I just pinked the edges rather than a zigzag – it was quicker and I want to get these mailed before I leave for Maine on Sunday so I’ve got to hit the post office this afternoon.

Another check mark!

I love marking things off my list even if it’s a rather modest “to do” list of things I wanted to accomplish between my trip to GA last week and my trip to Maine on Sunday.

Mom pieced this top using my Lattice instructions. It was cut with Accuquilt GO using the 6.5 inch half square triangle and the 1.5 inch strip die.

Quilted with the pantograph Halcyon.

This one will go to Mom along with the one I did earlier in the week for binding and they’ll be donated through her church at Christmas.

My reward for accomplishing another thing on my list is to head out for a late lunch and a little walk….maybe a stop at the coffee shop on the way home. It’s a cool day so I may even pull out a sweatshirt. I love fall!

My sewing room addition

My sewing room gets direct sun all day and it’s on the our 3rd story so it can get pretty warm. After our first summer here I bought a ceiling fan (over a year ago) and am just now getting it installed. I love the fan and while the light fixture looks good – it doesn’t provide a lot of light — luckily I have 3 different OTT lights that provide my task lighting and it won’t be a problem.

And you know how you can see something everyday without really SEEING it? I have this lovely carved quilt block in my sewing room made for me by my uncle and just realized that it’s the same block I used in the Tessellating Pinwheel Quilt.

Killing more time

I don’t like to be interrupted while I’m working so I’m killing time today waiting for some electrical work to be done and decided I’d write up the instructions for my Tessellating Pinwheel quilt.

Most of the time I work up a quilt in a colorway but don’t take the time to make the drawing scrappy. So here’s the drawing for the instructions.

Here’s my block just to “test” my GO dies. The quilt uses the 4.5 inch half square and the 4.5 inch quarter square triangle dies but I included rotary cutting instructions too.

Which lead to me to stop and think how I’m going to make this quilt scrappy — do I want to make each block using just 3 different fabrics like my test block …. or go scrappier. I’m pretty sure I’ll go with the scrappiest version like this one using many fabrics in each block.

Of course, I’m doing a lot more drafting of quilts than actually piecing them these days as I try to work through quilting and binding the ones I have here but a girl can dream!

A change in plans

I’d intended  to quilt the second donation top from Mom today but I had turquoise thread on the machine so decided I’d quilt this String Tumbler top of mine.

I used the Pampas Clamshell template from Circle Lord again but this time I quilted the “grass” too. I have to say I stressed about the wobbles from bouncing around in the grooves while I was quilting this but when I’m done and it’s off the machine, I don’t notice them nearly as much.

I cut the tumblers with my Accuquilt GO and there are instructions for making this quilt at my MaryQuilts.com site.

Walking
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