Friday, May 26, 2017

All You Need is Love

Since the last time I posted about my heart quilt, I've made some great progress. This is one of the quilts on my list of 12 UFOs for the 2017 Spring Water Designs Get It Done UFO Challenge (this is number 6).
I played with layout some more until I had something that made me happy.
I found some heart fabric in my collection that seemed right for the border. Some of that stuff on the floor is destined for Annapolis Quilts for Kids.
Before I pieced the center of the quilt I embroidered this great winged heart design from Urban Threads onto the center block. It is a little high in the heart block, but I don't mind.
I also used the Inked Alphabet to make my label. Mixing this set with script makes for labels with impact.
I don't often piece a backing with much more intent than sewing two pieces of fabric together. Mostly because I find putting a bunch of work into the backing tedious. I used one of the orphan blocks as my label, so I had to do some extra work to piece it into the backing. In this case I added 18" to the width of fabric with this inset piece. I usually go for a very asymmetrical layout for the backing, I'm not in the mood to try to match up the top to the backing with anything approaching precision. I'm pretty pleased with how it turned out.
This is how I quickly determine if the backing is big enough for the top. I fold both in quarters and match up the folds. My goal is a backing that has two parallel edges (selvages are perfect for this), and has enough room to be attached to the top and bottom leaders, and enough room for the side clamps.

I leave the selvage edges on my backing fabric and always tear the fabric to remain on-grain. I join the pieces with wider than normal (1/2" in this case) seam allowances, and press to one side or open.

I haven't decided how I'm going to quilt this one, yet. I've set it aside for a while while I think about it.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Stephen Willette

This year I went to the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival knowing exactly what I wanted from Stephen Willette Fiber Arts Tools.
I wanted a Nostepinne. This tool is used to wind yarn into a ball for easy knitting or crocheting. A video on how to use this tool can be found on the Stephen Willette Fiber Art Tools webpage. I also saw more than few shawl pins that I would have loved to have but I was trying to stick to some semblance of restraint.

Find out more about Stephen Willette Fiber Art Tools on their webpageInstagram, or Facebook.

Do you have a favorite hand-made tool?

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Bee Blocks: May

This month the Baltimore Modern Quilt Guild Queen Bee is Monica. She has set me the task of making two Alpine blocks. White, red, yellow, and teal. All fabrics I definitely had on hand. Someday I will run out of fabric. Someday.
You can find a tutorial for this block by Alyce on The Bee Hive. The stitch and flip method makes up blocks quickly and with accuracy.
I've made myself notes on how to make the block using my favorite tools for flying geese units (Easy Angle ruler, the Companion Angle ruler, and my recently purchased 6.5" square ruler from Creative Grids for the square and rectangular cuts). Sadly, this method does not work very well for a square-in-a-square block, but I'm totally okay with that.
Two finished blocks ready for the next meeting of the Baltimore Modern Quilt Guild.

Do you have favorite cutting rulers that make traditional piecing easier? Do you have a square-in-a-square technique that is quick and accurate? I would love to learn about it.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Cozy Color Works

I picked up this yummy Super Wash Merino from Cozy Color Works during the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival. This colorway is called Northern Lights and I just had to take it with me. What am I planning on making with this scrumptious yarn? I have no idea.

Find out more about Cozy Color Works on their webpage, Instagram, or Facebook.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Knitting Update: Starburst

I picked up this wonderful Fiber Optic Yarn last year at the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival. I've been waiting for the perfect project.
I decided I would give it a try using Stephen West's pattern Starburst. This pattern is available on Ravelry and in Stephen's book Westknits Bestknits. One thing I love about this book is that it includes a code for the patterns on Ravelry. This means you get digital copies of the patterns from the book added to your Ravelry library. How awesome is that?
I took this project with me to the 2017 Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival. No one questions a knitter at Sheep and Wool and it is perfect when you have to stand in line for the bathroom, or for lunch, or for ice cream (not that weather was nice enough for ice cream.
I've made it through the first section. Now I'm adding the lower edge of the shawl. I'm making the small size shawl, which isn't all that small (78" long).
This is my current travel project. I take it with me where ever I go. As a passenger, I can knit in the car on the way to all sorts of things. When those self-driving cars get here, I'll be able to knit and let the car do the driving.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Cutting Out a Cherry Christmas

The May 2017 UFO Challenge was number 3. Spring Water Designs is keeping me on-track to finish so many things this year.
That means it is time to pull out some holiday fabric and get stitching. I have entirely too much holiday fabric and holiday quilts make great gifts.
I picked up this tumbler template a couple years ago at a great little shop in Connecticut.  Stitch Chicks was a wonderful little shop with amazing staff. If you are in the area I recommend you check them out.
I trimmed my huge stack of charm squares. I'm going to set these tumblers off to the side of my sewing machine and use them as leaders and enders for other projects. If you don't know what leaders and enders are you need to check out Bonnie Hunter's blog Quiltville or one of her books Adventures with Leaders and Enders or More Adventures with Leaders and Enders.
This is the stack of bits that will be donated to be added to pet beds at a local shelter. Even my waste fabric doesn't go to waste.

Are you staying on track to finish up projects in 2017?

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Baking Tiny Cake

Sometimes you only need a little cake. Okay, few people need cake, but they make some people happy. Therefore, I make them. This is the Duncan Hines Perfect Size. It says it serves 2-4. I try to convince Darling Husband that means he has to eat part of it at four different times. He is a fan of cake.
We have heard that the little ovens in RVs are not very good at maintaining even heating  We also heard that adding a pizza stone to the oven below the rack can help distribute the heat.
We picked up the Nordic Wear Pizza Stone set and slid the stone into the oven.  Since I've never made anything more complicated than cookies in this oven I can't tell you how much of an improvement it may have made when it comes to distributing the heat. I'm going to file this as another Tool Tip!
I can tell you that I ended up with a tasty little cake. When I mentioned he should not eat the entire cake in a single sitting, he said "don't challenge me." In the end, he took his time but he did eat all four of those servings.

Next on our list is a thermometer for the oven so we can see how close it gets to the temperature we set it at. We have one for the tiny fridge, but not one for the oven, or the travel trailer. Meaning you know it is cold when you can see your breath. Thank goodness I brought all those quilts.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Charity Quilting

Annapolis Quilts for Kids meets on once a month on the second Saturday. This month I had one quilt top left to quilt on Friday so I loaded it up Friday night so I could get down to business in the morning.
I had it quilted and trimmed well in advance of the meeting time.
I also bound this string quilt.
Here is the stack ready to be dropped off. Want to see some of these in more detail? Check out my last Charity Quilting post.
I picked up more kits and four more tops to quilt. I'll work through at least the tops before the next meeting. The kits are also great when I just need to sew and I don't want to spend too much energy thinking about the project.

2017 Charity Quilt Count: 21

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Flying Goat Farm

This will be the first in a short series of posts outlining the wonderful yarns I bought during the 2017 Maryland Sheep and Wool. Look for more posts throughout the coming weeks as I will be providing links to the designers.
One of the first purchases I made during the festival was this beautiful Corrie Sock SW Wool/Nylon from Flying Goat Farm. The colorway is Fire Opal. I couldn't resist the dark colors combined with the soft blue-greens and that wonderful pop of pink (and I must say I'm sorry about the horrible light in this photo). I must admit that I didn't pick this yarn with a project in mind, but chances are it will become a shawl of some type. I may have to play with it to see how those colors work together in stitches.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Maryland Sheep and Wool 2017

One of my favorite parts of the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival is the working dogs demonstrations.
Sure, there are sheep.
But these dogs are so dedicated to their craft. I will sit on a cold bench for 30 minutes just waiting for the working dogs to show up. Why? Because working dogs of all types are amazing to me.
Two of the dogs this year were there last year. Old ones. This fella is 11.
And young ones. I will say this 3-year-old lady mellowed a bunch in the last year. She is still eager to work but now works so much better with her human partner.
Friday was rainy so Saturday was muddy. I learned about the spectacular mud in a prior year and packed my boots. I wasn't going to get muddy sneakers again.
I did stop over to see this smiling face between the humanity-packed trudge through the vendor barns. I love to see all the wonderful creators and their creations but the crush of people can make me feel like I want to bolt. More than once I passed by a shop just because there were too many people.
This happy bunny face was hanging out over in the rabbit barn. Sure there were plenty to pet, but I just wanted a picture to share. He looks like he doesn't mind missing the attention.
Did I do any shopping? Of course I did! I'll spend the next week going through this pile of loot to share the names (and links) of the amazing creators that made this all possible.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Camping and Breakfast Casserole

This week has been super busy.
Last weekend we loaded up the travel trailer and headed to western Maryland for the Sheep and Wool Festival. I think this is the fourth year I've attended. The first step was to make the bed with this amazing quilt.
The next morning I pulled together the ingredients of some breakfast casserole. What is in breakfast casserole you ask? Well, loads of tasty and bad for you things.

  • 1 cup of Thrive sausage crumbles
  • 2 cups shredded potato (I used frozen hash browns, and a single layer of tator tots will do the job just as well)
  • 1/2 cup of pico de gallo
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Don't forget to grease the baking dish. Trust me on this one. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Follow the directions to rehydrate the sausage. Mix the potato, rehydrated sausage, and pico de gallo in small bowl, pour into the baking dish (I used a round cake pan lined with foil) and spread evenly. Whisk eggs and pour over potato mixture. Sprinkle cheese on top. Bake 35-40 minutes, let cool for 5 minutes before cutting.
This is what happens when you forget to grease the pan. It wasn't tragic but it wasn't easy to serve. This recipe makes 2-4 servings depending on the size of your appetite.

I've heard that the heat of some RV ovens can be uneven. We picked up an inexpensive pizza stone to put in the bottom of the oven to help even out the temps inside. We bought the Nordic Wear Pizza Stone. It seemed to do the job, but there isn't much finesse with breakfast casserole. It did work out for the little cake I baked. That will have to wait for another post.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Odds and Ends

I wanted to have a nice post about my recent trip to the Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival but the last couple days have been busier than I expected so I don't even have all the pictures in one place much less the time to write a post about it.
So, here is a picture of my blooming strawberry plant.
 A wonderful iris from my front garden.
 The bind-off on my Hale-Bopp Mystery Knit Along Shawl.
And the beautiful green that I find on my afternoon walks.

I promise something with a little more substance for Friday.

Monday, May 8, 2017

All You Need is Love

When I put together the list of 12 UFOs for the 2017 Spring Water Designs Get It Done UFO Challenge I added a heart quilt as number 6. Ever since I quilted the Quilts for Pulse last year I knew I wanted to make one for myself. I had been adding scraps of about the right size to a box on my cutting table since then. When I sat still long enough to go through the giant box of set aside fabric I realized I may have to limit the number of heart blocks.
This block is 10.5" by 10.5". You can find the free pattern and tutorial on Cluck Cluck Sew. There you will find directions for sizes from 4" square to 10" square. I should try out some of the small hearts. They are created using the stitch and flip method. I find that method very accurate, but also slow. I like to piece blocks quickly so I looked at the finished block and did some calculations on how to make the block using the Easy Angle 6.5" ruler.
I cut my neutral background fabrics and my hearts and worked on them between piecing charity quilts. When I ran out of neutral background fabric pieces I still had hearts so I cut some more background fabric. If you don't have a huge collection of fabric, you could grab this great rainbow of fat quarters from Connecting Threads and a suitable background fabric to make a rainbow of hearts.
I'm still planning my layout for the quilt. I've got a couple leftover blocks that will be going into the back of the quilt.

Do you have a fun block deign you'd like to share? I would love to hear about it.

Want to read about my adventure with Quilts for Pulse? Here is a list of the posts about that project.
Love is the Baltimore Modern Quilt Guild Jun 17, 2016
Love Is Update July 4, 2016
Love Is Update July 11, 2016
Another Love Is Update July 22, 2016
Love Is Shipping Quilts for Pulse August 2016

The project touched me in a ways I didn't know it would and I am so glad the Baltimore Modern Quilt Guild joined me in creating love out of fabric.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Charity Quilting Into Spring

Last time I went to Annapolis Quilts for Kids I picked up a few finished tops.
These little quilts quilted up quickly. Now they are trimmed and ready for binding.
I laid out a couple quilt tops using some of the string blocks I've made over the last few months. The bag of strings doesn't seem to get any emptier no matter how many blocks I pull out. I set up my side table with two charity quilts and my stack of heart block pieces. I'll tell you more about the heart blocks in another post. This little bit of planning can get you sewing in a hurry. I try to work on small pieces of a project during the week and then tackle things like quilting on the weekends.
I pieced this fun string block quilt top. Making these tops from the leftovers of other projects is so satisfying.
I quilted this one I made last month. Now I just need to piece the binding and attach it. I trim the quilted piece using a Creative Grids 6.5" by 24.5" ruler. For tips on making string blocks I recommend you check out Bonnie Hunter's directions for string piecing.
I also picked this quilt top up at Quilts for Kids. I've trimmed it and let the maker know it is ready to be picked up for binding.

You can find a simple pattern for this simple block layout with two borders on Quilt For Kids website. I recommend all beginning quilters join a local group like Quilts for Kids or Project Linus. They will help you learn how to piece quilt tops, provide support, and you can use their fabric to perfect your 1/4-inch seam.

To square up the string blocks I use the Tucker Trimmer I, it's perfect for squaring up small and large blocks. I'm thinking about trying the 6.5" Square from Creative Grids. Do you have a favorite ruler or tool for squaring up quilt blocks?

2017 Charity Quilt Count: 20