Monday, February 11, 2019

Good Fortune Quilt - Final Link-up, Plus Sock Knitting, Prom, and Wildlife

Today over at Quiltville, there is one last gathering of the Good Fortune quilts made since Thanksgiving of 2018.  Mine is a top, not quilted yet, but I am very happy with it:

 I was dubious at first when I was putting it together about my choice of colors, but I ended up loving it. I have seen so many different combinations and I like them all.
I'm afraid I am still not making progress on machine quilting anything. My Celtic Solstice is still on the frame and I am distracted by other projects.

Primarily, I have been knitting socks. There is a really fun knit-along hosted by Paper Daisy Creations on Ravelry, Lots of Socks -- in support of Down syndrome awareness. The fifteen sponsoring designers are offering great discounts through Friday on selected patterns, and donating profits to Down Syndrome International. Lots of fabulous prizes are being offered as well. The knitting goes on until March 21, which is World Down syndrome day. So far I have bought several patterns, cast on 4 socks, and finished one:

Emma had a great experience at the Night to Shine prom last Friday:
 I couldn't believe it, but there was an entire tent full of formal wear that had been donated, and this dress was free to us! All it needed was shortening the spaghetti straps.
It's just about the perfect dress for her!

We have had a little snow in recent weeks; the wildlife remains undeterred.
 I love this hummingbird feeder that I bought at the county fair last August. There are two regular customers but they don't get along with each other at all.
 I don't love the raccoons, but the tracks are kind of cute.
Smudge is not in this picture, but the Other Cat comes by regularly to eat whatever he leaves. Muffball, as an inside-only cat, is powerless to chase him away, but she sure tries. After watching the Tigers of Scotland documentary on Netflix, I've come to think of him as a Scottish wildcat.

Friday, February 1, 2019

January Finishes and February Plans

As I gradually make my way back into the world of blogging, I am comforted that, even with all the cultural craziness and political rancor, I still have the ability to make beautiful things with my hands, and this is relatively uncontroversial.

January was a productive month for me. I finished up the Good Fortune Quilt top from Bonnie Hunter's seasonal mystery.
 I changed up the color scheme from Bonnie's, leaving out the orange and bringing in yellow, and switching the colors around. I was a little unsure at first but I really like the way my version played out.
 I had to wait for a dry and clear day to hang the quilt out on the tree for this picture session!
 I especially love the green/blue outer border. Those colors together always make me think of Grandma Maffett.
The red chain blocks really stand out. But after you get through looking at them, you notice the cheerful yellow/green pinwheel blocks, and they make me happy too.
Overall, a very successful mystery quilt. I hope I can get in gear and crank out the quilting on the many quilts I need to work on. I enjoyed every single clue of the mystery, and had less than usual trouble in matching the corners when I was sewing the whole top together. Or maybe I've just loosened up on my perfectionism a bit. Either way, it's a win!
 I randomly chose "3" as my number for UFO work in January. I was supposed to spin this roving from Dicentra Designs, and I did.  No idea what I will make with it yet. I was also supposed to sew a knitting bag pattern that has been on my queue for several years and my countertop for several months. No, that went untouched. Instead, I have nearly completed my sewing-room cleanup and organization campaign, and I'm happy with that. That could be another blog post in itself.
 I finished the first of the Bovary socks while Quarta was at orientation for St. Jude Leadership society, and forged ahead with Kitchener stitch to close the toes. However, my memory was not so great. I vastly prefer toe-up socks for this reason. By the way, if you are looking for a worthy cause, there's hardly any one worthier than St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. Quarta's donation page is here. I was able to remember the Old Norwegian cast on for the next sock just from muscle memory, so the second sock is about 2/3 done. I'm okay with that pace of knitting but I would prefer to get it off the needles because...
There is a "Lots of Socks" knitalong on Ravelry that is in support of International Down Syndrome. The idea is to knit socks from the 15 participating designers, and post them by Down Syndrome day (March 21). A different designer's pattern will be promoted each day for 15 days. Today is the first day and I bought the "Lots of Socks" pattern by Paper Daisy Creations, because it is really stunning. Here is my plan for main and contrasting colors. I am not sure about the Chroma yarn, a single that is prone to felting and pilling, but it is what I have to work with and I have already cast on the first sock, using a rather clever You-tube video by Tillybuddy for an extra-stretchy cast-on. I somehow doubt I will finish LOTS of socks in the next month and a half, but maybe one pair? But if all the designers have such pretty patterns, I may have a hard time picking. Plus Bovary, of course, just to get it off the needles.

So plans for February already include knitting socks and finishing the cleanup of my sewing area. Also I have some quickie baby quilts already half pieced. I am going to have to finish quilting Celtic Solstice, already on the frame, very soon or I will not be able to get anything else done. Also, the APQ UFO challenge picked "6" as the random number for February, so that means (she runs and checks her list)...

A machine quilting finish (good, I was already planning on that) and
Rosalind (a really pretty summer sweater that has been languishing for far too long). It's all good.

Friday, January 18, 2019

New Year, New Goals

So it's 2019, and 2018 wasn't my best year for either blogging or crafting. I did finish several pairs of socks and a few other knitting projects, but no quilts during that time. The coming of Thanksgiving and the mystery quilt with Bonnie K. Hunter served as a welcome kick-start to get back into both sewing and blogging. But it also was a kick in the pants to me to organize my scraps and long-neglected projects, both of which were in a shocking state.
When I had to make blue string blocks, it forced me to organize my strings. And not just the blue ones.
 I have a 3-drawer plastic unit; it goes beside my sewing chair so I can just reach down. Top shelf is cool colors, middle shelf is warm colors, bottom shelf is neutrals and browns. The above photo was taken when I was almost through sorting the cool colors drawer and dumped out a bunch more.
I thinned it down considerably. I stirred up a LOT of dust and had to take frequent breaks. I threw away strings I disliked or were too small for my purposes, and now my three drawers are reasonably tamed. I also started the process of organizing my other small scraps. All of this was in the week immediately preceding Christmas. I ended up getting my entire sewing area thoroughly vacuumed and the storage area under the Megaquilter much neater. I will probably do other purges and take more pictures to document this in the future, but I took a break from that when Christmas came.
This was Daniel's gift to me, and I got them on the wall for the Last Noel.

I was detoured right around Jan. 1 with a friend's post on Facebook about "Bullet Journals," and I fell into a rabbit hole thinking about ways to apply them to my life. I took a notebook I've had since 2011, a gift from a student, and had been using very sporadically as a quilting and knitting journal. If you look back in my blog, you may see some of the WIP and UFO reports I've made in the past were based on notes I originally made in this book. So far, I have not really caught the desire to write in a bullet journal daily, nor to make it look pretty. I did pick 12 knitting and 12 quilting goals (loosely defined) for this year and entered them down in the notebook. But for now, my "bullet journal" is just experimental and I don't think it would make a good picture at all. However, I will post my year's UFO goals from it here on the blog.

The way it works is I select a random number from 1-12 each month, and that number is the project I work on during that month. Then I will have to report on goals achieved or missed each month, and maybe connect with one of those awesome link-up parties that some bloggers are still doing.

UFO or stash reduction projects (knitting/fiber) randomly chosen each month.

  1. spin the light green/silver roving from Sock Summit
  2. spin the autumnal Dicentra Designs "Black Bottom Stomp" roving in merino/Tussah
  3. start a new pair of socks
  4. Manu cardigan
  5. Manu cardigan (it's in fingering weight, I figure two months are necessary)
  6. Rosalind cardigan
  7. Mint Chocolate cardigan
  8. spinner's choice (may order fiber if that is what I want to do that month)
  9. small gifts for gift stash
  10. On Your Toes cardigan (or bail and frog it)
  11. start new cardigan from reclaimed yarn stash: boyfriend or favorite color(?)
  12. any knitting finish
  13. (bonus) design my dream colorwork cardigan 
UFO quilting/sewing projects randomly chosen each month
  1. classical tote bag
  2. bowling style bag
  3. linen blouse
  4. machine quilting finish
  5. machine quilting finish
  6. machine quilting finish
  7. machine quilting finish
  8. 1996 Piecemaker's top
  9. mariner's compass hooked rug
  10. rainbow star quilt (applique)
  11. frugal patch quilt
  12. felted wool blanket
  13. (Scrappy trip)
  14. (LOTR paper piecing)
  15. (Baltimore album quilt)
  16. (Extra baby quilts)
  17. (Spare block quilt "scrap soup")
Numbers beyond 12 are "bonus" choices that can be substituted for another one if it comes down to getting nothing done, or can be done in addition to a completed month's project.

These UFO's are an extension of my yearly urge to clean up my sewing and crafting area. I am assuming I will be working on one quilt and at least one knitting project of my own volition each month; these are in addition. 

So this month I chose the random number 2: the Dicentra Designs spinning fiber was very easy to find and my spinning wheel was easy to dust off and get going again, while Steve and I watched a few episodes of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. 
 It was incredibly fun to get back into spinning. I love these autumnal colors.
 And, believe it or not, the two bobbins of singles plied perfectly; they worked out to exactly the same length! Now to figure out a fun future project to knit with this yarn.

The bowling-style knitting bag is still in pattern pieces on my work counter from more than a year ago, and I will attempt to get to that. I know where all the supplies are.

My current sock project is the Bovary socks, top-down socks so a little out of my comfort zone, in some "Vixen" Hipster Knit sock yarn I bought at Sock Summit in ...2011? I am approaching the toe of the first sock; it has been fun to knit, although kind of slow. I would like to finish both socks by the end of January, so I can join the World Down Syndrome day knitalong. 

My current sewing project is obviously, finishing the Good Fortune quilt top. Hopefully by the end of January as well. Then it will join my 5-7 quilt tops awaiting quilting. I seriously need to get some machine quilting mojo going. But for now I am happy to have my goals lined out.

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Quiltville Mystery Reveal - And Happy New Year!

Bonam Fortunam omnibus vobis opto! I wish good fortune to you all!

Happy New Year to all stopping by my corner of the internet. It's a very busy week for our family with party planning for our "Last Noel" party on Friday, but I wanted to sneak a few pictures of my quilt progress in here, and it turns out it's the first post of 2019. I resolve to blog more frequently this year than last, how about that?

To see more wonderful examples of this truly lovely quilt, hop on over to Quiltville where the link-up party is going on. And if you love scrappy quilt patterns, and haven't yet done so, get her instructions for this year's Good Fortune mystery while they are still freely available; they will disappear at the end of January. I have participated in every mystery since 2011 and Orca Bay, and this year's, well, I would like to make it again in two or three different color combinations. It's particularly fun when people all over the world are making it at the same time.

I have pieced all the blocks for the central part of the quilt, but haven't started on the pieced borders yet. That will be a challenge for another week. I have not the best lighting in my quilting corner, but playing with the settings on my photo editor might have helped a bit.
 I made two blocks (on the far right) in the recommended colorway, but I am happy with the way I switched up the colors. I was a bit unsure at first, because the spinning star blocks in green and yellow are generally much lighter in value than the string chain blocks in red and blue. I was worried the red/blue would overwhelm the green/yellow. But I love all of those colors, and as the number of blocks grew, I noticed the alternate blocks create a lot of fun diagonal motion in the quilt, which is something I like a lot. I was a little worried that the reds and greens would end up next to each other and it would look too Christmassy, and that didn't happen. One block is patriotic, and one is what I think of as Hobbit colors. There's a really pretty red/white diagonal lattice, and sunshiny whirligigs in between. And I like it in just about every color combination I've seen.

My quilts have gotten so much scrappier with every passing year. I don't know if there's such a thing as TOO scrappy, but I will say, there are some fabrics I would like to use up and never see again, and some that I love and wish I had a bunch more of. I think I cleaned out and cleaned up enough fabric this mystery that I could justify a few trips to quilt stores in the coming year. I have been limiting my fabric purchases for a few years now. But a side benefit of Bonnie's mystery this year was that it forced me to work through all of my scrap boxes, and I quickly realized I needed to get them cleaned up and better organized. It's a great feeling! (Although stirring up the dust caused a lot of sneezing).
My "best nine" photos on Instagram last year were all from either On Ringo Lake or Good Fortune. 
 Spock is wishing you good fortune, or as he would say, "Live long and prosper." Also found in this quilt (although not necessarily in this close-up), are Kermit the frog, Curious George, Olivia the pig, Bob and Larry from Veggie Tales, Nancy Drew, Dr. Who, Rey from Star Wars, dinosaurs, traffic cones, maps, bugs, sheep, lots of flowers, some of my mom's old curtains and aprons, my alphabet skirt fabric from the 80's, some vintage sheets, and quite a few bits of recycled shirts. I know there is at least some fabric from the 70's, and probably a few bits from as far back as the 50's from my mom and grandmother.  I tried not to repeat too many fabrics on each block, and that was not hard.

So, thanks to Bonnie Hunter for a great mystery! I hope I can get the whole top together sometime in the next month or so.

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Clue 5 Mystery link-up

I'm quickly blogging this week's progress on the mystery quilt and sharing it here

 So last week, I ended up doing a thorough clean of my string bins, which led to a clean-up of my entire sewing area. Then this week's clue made me realize that I had some units left over from On Ringo Lake (the pieced border triangles that got trimmed away) that could be trimmed for the blue triangles I needed for this clue. Very exciting!
 I think that bit of extra blue adds some extra interest.

 I eventually finished the clues for this week and played with them a bit. I like my yellows and scrappy blues in this mix.
Clue 5 as I am interpreting it is very restful with the greens and blues. Restful is good the week after Christmas! And blues and greens together are my happy colors. I'm looking forward to seeing the next clue, which will be coming out tomorrow. Just barely made this post in time.

Monday, December 17, 2018

Not Orange - Mystery Monday Link-up #4

Check out the posts for people who are doing the Good Fortune Mystery Quilt this week over at this link!

I was hoping that there would be strings this mystery, and was very glad to have an excuse to dig into my overflowing bin. I was a little distracted over the weekend with some Christmas projects that I just finished up today. I also had to finish up clue 3, which I chose to do in yellows. So clue 1-3 are all in the overflowing basket, red, green, and yellow, while I just have a small number of the needed string blocks for 4 in blue, which I am using instead of orange. I am not quite sure yet if I want to go to a more medium blue, or if I want to get a wide range in.

Some of the "outlier" blues from my bin are quite a bit lighter than the average. I'm not sure if I want that much variegation. I have become convinced that I need to cull my string bins: I have one of those 3-drawer plastic storage things, one bin for warm colors, one for cool colors, and one for neutrals in light and dark. But after a couple of years of playing with the fabric, a lot of it is not that exciting to me anymore, and many pieces are too small to do much with. I will probably either cut some of my fat quarters or pull some strips from my 1 1/2 and 2" boxes. It's highly improvisational, and I like how this process is a different one from all the other clues.

 I've been making some extra units in different colorways all along, but I'm more and more convinced I want to stick with my plan (red stays red, green instead of blue, yellow instead of green, blue instead of orange). These above are some of my extra units.

These orange string blocks are pretty, and I do love orange a lot. I just have used orange a fair amount over the last several years, and my stash is pretty depleted. There was On Ringo Lake last year, my Rainbow String Star top, and Celtic Solstice in 2013, which has been on the quilting frame for many months now so I see it all the time... plus my Frugal Patch color study quilt in progress has a lot of orange in it. I have knitted two Rhinebeck sweaters from hand-dyed, hand-spun orange yarn and I wear mine a lot. I still do love orange. Just not for this quilt.

Looking at my blue string blocks, I'm thinking I do want to go a little lighter, a more medium "China" blue, and less of the navy. Which means I will have to move away from the string bins a bit and into my regular stash. I may use this as an excuse to purge my string bins of any fabrics I don't love anymore or that is too small to make me want to use it.

Monday, December 10, 2018

The Process: Mystery Link-up, Week 3

Once again quilters who are doing Bonnie Hunter's annual mystery quilt are linking up to show our progress on her blog: Week 3 Link-up.

My big excitement this week is the fact that I actually finished the top from last year, On Ringo Lake. This was my personal requirement if I was going to start a new project, and that has now been accomplished. I am really happy with it. The scrappy variety of my fabrics meshes really well with Bonnie's patterns, I think. Thank you to Steve, who held the quilt off the damp ground so I could take a picture of it in natural daylight.

And on to the Good Fortune quilt. I am planning to switch up the colors: so far red is staying red, blue is going to be green, and green is going to be yellow. Here are some of my yellows in the early stages of this clue. I once again am diving right into the piecing process by grabbing my boxes of strips using Bonnie's Scrap User's System. I can cut the rectangles and squares right away and get started with the piecing pretty quick. Although this clue is going to take a bit more time to complete, I think.
 Knitters have discussions about whether they are more "process" or "product" focused. I am a "product" knitter because knitting takes too long for me to want to invest the time for a product I am not happy with, but I enjoy the process. But I have decided I am more of a "process" quilter: I love the creativity of the process, the combining of fabrics, and because it moves fast (compared to knitting, anyway), even though I like the end product, that's not what makes quilting "fun" for me. That's why I'm not a perfectionist about the occasional mis-matched corners or fabrics that are oddballs. In fact, I like the fact that fabrics from when my 20-something sons were toddlers occasionally show up in my quilts, and the color scheme often has a lot of "outlier" fabrics. It's all a part of the process, and the process gets messy. Kind of like how I need to clear away a lot of junk from my work area.
 You can see a pretty wide range of yellows, and even a few peachy/light orange ones. Since I'm planning on replacing the oranges with blues, this is the clue to experiment with them. I'll probably make a few extras. The Veggie Tales fabric is the one from when my boys were little... somebody had a pair of shorts with Bob and Larry. The basket to the left contains clues 1 and 2. So far we have red, green, and yellow.
 I don't have the "bonus buddy" ruler but I have been marking my second line this way. It's a smidge more than a quarter inch. A hair would be too small, but a smidge seems to work for me. I am not highly scientific in my measurements, but I do usually have a pretty good eye. This is a deboned shirt from a thrift store trip 4 or 5 years ago.
It takes a little longer this clue to mark the squares; then you are sewing four seams on each rectangle/ 2 squares unit. It's a bit of a longer process this week. Here most of my fabrics are older; bugs fabric from about 18 years ago, yellow checked fabric from when I made curtains for the girls' room about 12 years ago, the triangle neutral from last year.
I've made a few units with the green just so I can play with them when we get further along. The process is super fun. That's what keeps me coming back to these mystery quilts every year.