Saturday, February 7, 2015

Better Late Than Never...

Here it is, February already, and I've just now delivered my last Christmas gift!  I decided at the beginning of December to knit my sister a scarf to go with some earrings I was giving her.  I saw a sample in my local yarn store that only took 1 skein of yarn.  I downloaded the pattern from Ravelry and started in plenty of time.  However, by the time I got to the end of the yarn, I realized it just wasn't going to be long enough.  When I went back to the store, they didn't have any more of that color.  So on December 13th, I ordered the yarn and even paid for expedited shipping.  Unfortunately, it didn't arrive until December 26th.  (I've never ordered from this yarn company before and I definitely won't again.)  I finished the scarf in the next week or so, but because of scheduling, I haven't been able to get it to my sister until now.

This is the Feather and Fan scarf by Linda Castles.  I used Madelinetosh Tosh Sock yarn in Envy.  It took just over 1 skein to make, but it's a nice long scarf.  (Now I have to figure out what to make with the rest of the yarn?)

The funny thing is, when I went back to the store to look for more yarn, I asked them why it was taking me more than their sample.  It turns out I was using the wrong pattern.  They have a different pattern with the same name.  It looks similar to this, but isn't quite as wide and doesn't have the alternating rows of stockinette.  They gave me a copy of their pattern.  It's just as pretty and I can see making another of these scarves sometime in the future.  Live and learn!

Anyway, for now I've put aside my knitting and finally gotten back to my hand applique.  I'm determined to finish the last 2 ship blocks for my husband's quilt.  (I'm in denial about how much work the borders will be.)  I'm also getting close(r) to finishing my mom's Winter Wonderland quilt.  This is one of the blocks I'm working on right now...

I caught these two napping end to end the other day.  Jack and Moses don't care for each other much and they're always fighting over the same sleeping spot at night, so I was surprised to see them getting along so well.  If only they'd do that all the time!

You probably noticed that I spent most of last winter complaining how cold I was.  (I didn't feel like my feet thawed out until summer.)  Late last fall, my husband and I replaced out heating system with one that uses natural gas.  They'd only just installed the lines in our neighborhood earlier in the year.  Since then, I have been toasty warm!  Well, as long as long as I stay inside...

But the basic reality of God is plain enough. Open your eyes and there it is!” 
Romans 1:19 (MSG)

Friday, January 30, 2015

Crossover Sewing...

Not a lot of sewing going on over here.  I thought I'd get back into it after the holidays, but somewhere along the way I seem to have misplaced my sewing mojo.  If anyone finds it, please send it back this way!

I did motivate myself enough to finish up one small project, a new knitting bag.  This is the Miranda Day Bag by Lazy Girl Designs.

This is the first of their patterns that I've used and I have to say their directions are very clear and easy to follow.  Lots of pictures as well.  The most time consuming part of making the bag was quilting the panels.  I quilted the main body of the bag with Diane-shiko and I outlined all the flowers in the bottom panels.

The bag has lots of pockets inside and you can customize them to the size you want.  I measured all my different knitting paraphernalia ahead of time to make sure it would all fit.

It's plenty big enough to hold everything.  I'm in between knitting projects, so there's not much in there right now.  However, it easily holds a 10 lb cat with room to spare...

I also made an Across the Pond Pouch from Cabbages & Roses to hold all my notions.  (There's a free pdf of the pattern if you're interested.)  It went together in an hour or two.

I did buy one of the acrylic bottoms to go in the bottom of the bag.  I found it gives the bag a lot more support.  Lazy Girl Designs sells them, but you can usually find them at craft shows as well.  I also used a magnetic snap closure instead of velcro.  However, if I ever make this bag again, I think I would use a slightly heavier stabilizer for the body.  Overall though, it's a vast improvement over the little plastic tote I've been using for my knitting.

Moses has been finding all kinds of hiding spots lately.  She's spending a lot more time in my sewing room than usual and she's definitely keeping herself amused!

We think you ought to know, dear brothers and sisters, about the trouble we went through in the province of Asia. We were crushed and overwhelmed beyond our ability to endure, and we thought we would never live through it. In fact, we expected to die. But as a result, we stopped relying on ourselves and learned to rely only on God, who raises the dead.” 
2 Corinthians 1:8-9 (NLT, 2nd edition)

Thursday, January 15, 2015

The Not So Blue Angel Shawl...

All of my quilting projects seem to be turning into long term projects, but I'm finding that my knitting endeavors offer more instant gratification.  That's probably because I've been sticking to scarves and shawls.  But it's cold outside, so that works for now.

Recently I finished another shawl.  The pattern is the Blue Angel Shawl by Stefanie Japel.  However, I went way outside my comfort zone and decided to make mine in bright orange!  I'm trying to stretch myself lately by using fabrics and yarns in colors I wouldn't normally choose.  By the time I finished this one, I wasn't even sure if I'd be able to wear it.  I'm happy to say though that I was bold and wore it to church.

I really love the lace edging on this one.  The pattern was pretty simple except that when you get to the edging, you're working off 2 different charts.  But if you can keep them straight, it's no problem.  My one complaint was this was supposed to use 1 skein of yarn.  I actually bought it as a kit with both the yarn and pattern.  When I saw that I wasn't going to have enough yarn to finish, I had to rip out a bunch of rows and make mine smaller.  In the end, I left off 16 rows.  (FYI - If you make this shawl, you can make it larger or smaller by adding or subtracting multiples of 16 rows and still have the edging work out correctly.)

I used Heritage Cascade Yarn in Mango to make this.  I could see making this shawl again, but in the future I think I'd pick a different color and perhaps a softer yarn.  This was a mix of superwash merino wool and nylon, but I bet it would feel great with some silk or baby alpaca in it.

The weather hasn't been great the last few days and Gabriel has been cooped up.  My husband usually takes her for long walks, but because he wasn't able to today, I bundled up (think 'stay puft marshmallow man') and took her for a walk.  Does that face say happy or what?

No one pours new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise, the wine will burst the skins, and both the wine and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins.” 
Mark 2:22 (NIV) 

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Where Irons Go To Die...

I've been a quilter for about 11 years now.  And in that time I've gone through at least 7 or 8 irons.  I've used a myriad of brands such as Sunbeam, Black & Decker, Rowenta, Oliso and Reliable.  But I have yet to discover an iron that can make it to it's 2nd anniversary.

That seems like it should be such a simple thing.  How hard can it be to make an iron that will last a couple of years or more?  Of course, I tend to use my irons quite a lot, almost every day in fact.  Probably most iron manufacturers don't expect them to get such heavy use.  But even the ones marketed directly for quilters aren't much better.

My most recent iron was a Reliable Velocity V100.  It was easily both my favorite iron and my most expensive one.  Late last year it simply stopped heating up.  It lasted the longest of all my irons though at around 21 months.  I would love to just buy another one; however, they no longer make this model (which costs $139) and the next one up is of course even more expensive.  And if it's not going to last that long, I just don't know if it's worth it.

Reliable Velocity V100
While I debated what to do about a replacement, I pulled out my little $10 iron I bought at Dollar General.  For the money, this iron is an amazing buy.  It's small, but gets very hot (much hotter than my Oliso iron did).  I've been using it the last couple of months and it's really done a respectable job.

In the end, my iron choice came down to practicality.  I had a gift card to one of the big box stores and used it to buy a Rowenta Professional Iron.  The thing that sold me on it this time is that I was able to purchase a 2 year service plan to go along with it.  Since I've never had one last that long, I'm fairly certain I'll be making use of that in the future.  It's a nice heavy iron and gets really hot.  I wish I could bypass the auto shutoff, but I'll just have to learn to live with it.  Considering the iron was free and if it dies anytime in the next 2 years, it's replacement will be free as well, it's a trade off I'm willing to make!

Rowenta Professional Iron
By the way, has anyone else had a different experience with their iron(s)?  Do yours last longer than a couple of years?  If so, I'd love to hear what you're using and if you like it.

I haven't had much to share quilting wise for a while, but I am working on a small project right now that I hope to finish before too long.  Right now I'm doing a bit of Diane-shiko.

Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.
1 Thess. 5:17-18 (NLT) 

Saturday, January 3, 2015

2014 - A Wrap Up...

Every year I take the time to look back and see what it is I've created over the past year.  I didn't expect it to be a very long list this time.  I haven't felt like I've finished much lately, certainly not like in past years (not that it's a contest.)  And it's true.  I only made 10 quilts in 2014 and half of those are still waiting to be quilted.  But looking closer, I noticed something else.  I've really grown as a quilter this past year.  I could have finished more projects, but I spent quite a bit of time custom quilting several projects.

The back of Summer Meadows
The back of Whit's End
I also spent a lot of time quilting a couple of quilts that I haven't quite finished yet...

Celebrations - A work in progress
Winter Wonderland - A work in progress
These are the quilts/quilt tops I did finish in 2014...

Stepping Stones, Tic Tac Toe, Trip for "2" to Boston and Harvey
Tickled, QOV Quilt, QOV Mystery Quilt, Mystery #28
I also finished 24 Farmer's Wife blocks.  I had hoped to make a lot more, but these are fiddly little things.  Because each one is cut out separately, it's going to take a little longer than I originally thought.

Farmer's Wife Blocks
I made 2 more Ladies of the Sea blocks.  I only have 2 more ships left (plus the borders.)  If knitting hadn't taking over my TV time, these would be done.

Ladies of the Sea
Last year was a year of learning for me.  I took up knitting and found I really enjoy it.  It's very relaxing to pull it out at night and work on a scarf or shawl while a cat or 2 naps in my lap.  I also conquered my fear of baking!  I learned how to make both bread and pies.  In fact, between Thanksgiving and Christmas, I made 9 pies from scratch.

As for this year, I hope to do more custom quilting.  I have a pile of quilts that are calling out for it.    However, not every quilt needs it and I would love to finish at least 1 or 2 more for our king size bed.  Charity quilts are a must and I still have a number of UFO's that are begging to see some progress (namely the Ladies of the Sea quilt for my husband).  Then again, only the Lord knows what this year will hold and I truly hope it is a good one for each of you.  Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Whit's End...

I just realized I never wrote a wrap up post for Whit's End.  I try to do that for each quilt I finish so years later I can always look back and see what fabric I used or pattern to quilt it.

So the stats for this quilt are:
  • Size:  33" square
  • Fabric: A charm pack of Best.Day.Ever. by April Rosenthal
  • Batting: Warm & White
  • Thread: Aurifil #2024 for piecing and quilting
  • Pattern: Whit by Carrie Nelson (added the outer flying geese border)
  • Quilting: SID, Ribbons in the sashing and Heat Wave in the borders
It's freezing outside right now and the heat is trying hard to keep up in here, but I have this quilt hanging right next to the window and looking at just makes me think of warmer weather (and that just makes me happy!)


I'm still busy quilting my mom's Winter Wonderland quilt so I don't have much to show there, but I did have a big knitting finish recently.  This is Skywalker.

I'm taking the Craftsy class "Knit this! Mastering Lace Shawls" by Laura Nelkin and this is one of two patterns she offers through it.  It was fun to knit, but I definitely had to pay attention to what I was doing.  I used Classic Elite Yarns Villa in Lavender which is 70% baby alpaca and 30% bamboo so it's incredibly soft.

I wasn't sure how big to make it and I ended up enlarging the pattern.  I knew it would grow once I blocked it, but I just wasn't sure how much.  What a difference blocking made!  This is what it looked like just coming off the needles.  It was small and difficult to see the patterns.

If anyone's curious, I added another Star Stitch section before the border to make mine larger.  That's the top section in the picture.  I think my favorite section though is the elongated stitches just below it.  They're incredibly easy to create, but I like the effect.

She offers two patterns in the class and I've already started on the second one.  I find it very relaxing to knit at night while watching TV.  I used to do my hand applique during this time, but it meant my lap was full of project stuff.  With knitting, there's plenty of room for a cat (or two).  Usually this one...

But make sure that you don't get so absorbed and exhausted in taking care of all your day-by-day obligations that you lose track of the time and doze off, oblivious to God.” 
Romans 13:11 (MSG)