Sunday, April 26, 2015

Testing, 1... 2... 3...

Got my ideas all together for the needlepoint coverlet/lap blanket. Ran through a couple tests this week and the plan seems to be in place. 6" crazy quilt squares, sewn together to make connections between the 6 needlepoint pieces. It's a lovely change of pace from the focused attention required for the pieced quilt under way.

Neckties. They are a great source of color and pattern for a crazy quilt. At .50 apiece at the thrift shop, what's not to like!? I picked up four of them last week and they'll contribute color and pattern to the craziness. Other fabrics came from the store--as previously reported, and yet other fabric, from my stash. My stash--as is the case with yarn--consists of left over scraps and fabrics that I purchased for the sole reason that they were--to my eyes--beautiful.

I have yet to settle on a thread color. Tested 4 different colors so far and none are quite what I want, but a couple are close. This is important because the crazy connections will be done in fancy stitches, of which my Pfaff is capable of executing. In an ideal world I'd have oodles and oodles of time in which to execute the stitches by hand--and truth is, that is my ideal--but alas, not until I retire I'm afraid. It may, in the end, come down to white for the thread!

I worked up 2 sample squares and sewed them together. A nice result. I think it's going to be a pretty cool (warm, actually!) and heavy coverlet when done. Something I'll treasure for it's ability to keep the cold at bay.



The shiny red that is so prominent in the picture will, in the final quilt, be a 1/2" border around each of the 6 neeclepoints.

Round 5 ...

... going on 6! And I gotta say that at times it has indeed felt like a fighting match! Well, fighting match -- lite. :)

Seriously, this is the biggest challenge I've yet taken on the quilting front. Some seams have been worked 3 times!! On the round I just finished, the corners were especially daunting. Not a single one of them allowed for a clean line-up of the supposed-to-match seams. I had to nip and tuck here and there, and let out other regions to get a semblance of alignment. Oh yes, it's been a challenge. So far I'll give myself a grade B.

But round 5 is done, it's imperfections I'll live with. On to the last and final round: 6. This round is comprised of larger and more intricate blocks, and the practice I've accumulated over the course of the previous 5 rounds is proving handy.

Color. Another huge challenge. I had but the vaguest ideas when setting out on this adventure and it seems that the gist of them were reasonably sound. Again, probably a B. As may now be apparent, I'm allowing my color to become more saturated with each round, and this last round will be the most vibrant and explosive of them all. The last hurdle is to see if the floral can be (or should it be? Good question!) extended out this far? I think it can; I'm not quite sure how yet. (Better figure it out soon!) There is with this quilt--I'll admit it--an underlying sense of, "I have no idea what I'm doing!" Ha!



Here's my first block for the outside round. As you can see, I'm re-introducing the lightest of the grays and I'm really punctuating the color:



Well, it's all fun isn't it! :)

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Seam ripper ...

Mine's getting a work out! Oh my word, several seams sewn, ripped out, and re-sewn. This top really is a challenge. There is nothing more satisfying than measuring up a newly made piece and finding that the seams match with it's partner; and something less than satisfying to discover discrepancies of more than 1/8"--a scant 1/8" being my self-imposed allowance--and even at that they seem like gaping big holes. Then there's the realization that the new strip is way too long and puzzlement as to how that could have happened. I spent 15 minutes checking and tightening up seams on one particular strip when it finally dawned on me that I added too many squares to it!! That was actually a relief discovery.

If it sounds like a constant battle void of fun, that's not what I mean. I'm enjoying it to the hilt and I'm really learning a lot with this one. As of 10 minutes ago, here's where it stands. There are 2 more rows done since I last posted a picture. There are 2 rows to follow and they are biggies: Lot's of different types of squares to piece.

Color has also been a big challenge. The pattern is so intricate it's hard to imagine what it will look like when certain pieces are of a certain color. I've more or less been holding my breath that it will remain somewhat coherent; so far: OK I think. The next 2 rounds will stick with the current colors but they will be more saturated. Hoping to thread enough of the red and yellow floral throughout to keep it hanging together.



I went to a quilt show this afternoon: The Northern Lights Quilting Guild's show. It was wonderful, inspiring, and motivating. Some really, really beautiful quilts shown.

I couldn't resist this piece of fabric, and 2 books at bargain prices.


And since I was in the vicinity of a store which carries upholstery fabrics in addition to other fancy goods, I stopped and picked up material to use for piecing scrap borders for the needlepoint coverlet I have in mind.


A beautiful, warm day. Not like winter at all... wait... did we have winter? :) Funny how fast the memory fades, I guess it feels better to have it out of mind at the moment!

Monday, April 13, 2015

Can't have too many scraps ...

The great thing about buying scraps at thrift stores, etc. is that it's a fast way to get lots of color all at once. Building a wide-ranging palette from new purchases would be expensive and time consuming.

A new heap of material came my way recently. It is a bin from the thrift store. Not only do the contents contain several rainbow colored cottons, but also a number of quilt project kits, and some very beautiful marbleized fabric. A nice find.


This unfinished top was also in the bin. I'm sending it down to an acquaintance in Austin, seeing how I'm not really a cat person--although I do like cats. But with the birds and all, well, you know. Isn't it sweet:


Today, on a whim, I stopped at a local repurpose store and found a set of 6 needlepoint chair tops, on the cheap. Didn't take long to snatch those up! I've had an idea in mind for some time now to make a coverlet out of old needlepoints. To that end I've been collecting them as I find them for a few bucks here and there. Up till today I only had 3. Those 3 will continue to wait until I find more. The 6 news ones are terrific because they match! My plan is to make connecting patchwork using velvets, brocades, lace, etc. and turn these into a heavy lap blanket--or coverlet if it gets big enough. I think it will be quite marvelous when done, with a Victorian flare. Opulent and luscious. $25 for the whole lot of them! Yes, I lost no time whatsoever getting them to the cashier!


73 degrees this afternoon!! Lot's of melting now, about a foot to go and I think this week will probably see the end of most of it. There's a strange looking dark substance under the snow; I think it's dirt if I remember correctly. It has been a long winter!

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Not so scrappy ...

I'm setting aside the scrap heap to finish the top I began last year. It was left to rest after I got stuck on color, but the ice has thawed and I have a plan. It will be the most intricate top I've pieced once it's done and I'm taking steps with care, aiming to achieve clear points and clean seams. So far, not too bad, knock on wood. I'm glad to be excited about this project once more and now that there's a rough plan in place, there's plenty of motivation.

It came to me today that I'm on quite a quilt kick at the moment, and must say it's wonderfully enjoyable. A fun media to work with.

The 2nd round is finished, 3 or 4 more to go ...


I think spinning will come back shortly--when the weather warms a bit and I can spin outside. I was noticing today that I've an itching to work on that fleece I bought last summer. Something wonderful to look forward to.

We rehearsed this piece last night, sigh ...

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Happy Scrappy ...

This scrap quilt makes me happy! Color, especially when it's rioting, can be such a tease.

Isn't this fun!?


I decided to go with white for the main part of the border because it's comprised of all colors. In the case of reflected light, the colors are all bouncing off the material--in contrast to the oodles getting grabbed by the central panel. I tried 4 or 5 different inner borders. Black, coffee, lavender, gray... but none were as right as this beige-ey color.

There was some debate within the walls of my cranium about whether to add another 2" border. If so, it would be the lavender, but the arguments have died down and the verdict is: No more border. It seems right just as it is. I'm not sure if the binding will be white or color. Yet to be decided, but there's plenty of time. I can't send it out to be quilted until there's more money in the kitty!

Here's something I learned on this quilt: Mistakes (unintended results, if you will--which can be referred to as "design elements" sometimes)--are much harder to hide in solid colors than in patterns! So.

I still have tons of scraps left. Whatever shall I work on next?

Monday, March 30, 2015

Spring?

Not quite. She isn't rushing to make her entrance; either that or winter won't let her. It snowed yesterday, it snowed today. Mind you, these squalls are only distant relatives of our mid winter storms. The falling snow looks every bit as substantial but it doesn't last and the sun follows along swifty. But still, it's been feeling pretty wintery with temps in the 30s. Though I have to admit that's 40 degrees warmer than January! So we have progressed. Won't be long now.

It's feeling quite spring-y inside the house and I'm ever so excited to announce the blossoming of 2 of my Phalaenopsis Orchids (also known as "moth" orchids). As you may recall I had my orchids out on the stoop last summer and was beaming over the fact that 2 of them had put out a flower shoot and were budding. They were just getting ready to grace the place with their beauty when I brought them in to protect them from dropping temperatures. On their second night inside, a mouse helped himself! I awoke to find both flower stems looking like leftovers from the rodent's buffet! It was especially upsetting because one of the phals hadn't blossomed in 2 or 3 years.

Well, that's all past. The large orchid put out another shoot and is now in bloom and the medium orchid has done the same. The smallest one has just now begun putting out a shoot. Oh how thrilling! I've been coddling them this past week, making sure their drywells have fresh, clean water and that they don't get sunburn. Last week, I purchased another phal.--a deep red color, and Saturday I really dove into deep water and purchased a Cattleya Orchid (also know as "corsage" orchids). Yup, I'm ready to try again. I attempted a Cat. some years ago but was not successful in getting it to reblossom and now I think I know why: temperature differences between night and day. In the apartment in NY the inside temps were pretty steady round the clock and orchids need to get a temperature drop at night in order to set out flower shoots. So I think I'm going to have better luck up here.

Here are my 2 phals. getting a drink in the sink:


Here they are a few weeks ago, in situ in the south-east window:


Here is the medium sized one with all three of its buds open:


And HERE is the new Cattleya:


And my latest phal. Isn't that a pretty color!:


Finally, I removed the smallest phal. from it's pot and mounted it on a piece of cork. It has started to put out a shoot:


It may not quite be spring outside but it's definitely springing in here! And progress on the quilt continues; currently about half the squares are made: