Wednesday, 1 January 2020

My 2019 Crafting Year in Review

Happy New Year, everyone!

It's time to look back and see what I've accomplished in the past year, craft-wise.
First in my yarn arts, I made my grandson and I toques on knitting looms from the same skein of yarn. (I have since shipped my knitting looms to one of my sisters in Ontario as she will get more use out of them. Aside from toques, I find that I can knit most projects faster on needles. And they were taking up a lot of room for something that I seldom used). I've also done lots of dishcloths,
beginning with these for myself for St. Patrick's Day. But most of them were made to give away.
I gave every nurse on the home care team a dishcloth during Nursing Week, and every health care
aide a dishcloth on Health Care Aide Day. A lot more will need to be made in order to be ready for
those events again this year. I found a new Bernat Handicrafter yarn, Scrub Off, and bought a skein to try it out.
While I was in Ontario in late August/early September, I picked up the book, A Year of Dishcloths, by Maggie Weldon, and I've started working my way through the patterns.
I've also been trying to use up my dollar store cotton yarn.
And thrown in a few made with Bernat Handicrafter cotton and Red Heart Scrubby.
Dishcloths are a quick and easy take-along project and I have made them when I have been in inservices and workshops. And have sometimes gifted them to the presenters.
You would think I do nothing but make dishcloths. Not so. I also finished the Lilac Grove afghan.
I made some small progress on Sophie's Universe.
And I'm done 50 rounds of Rings of Change, which I think I will name Flamenco Rings.
I made this cover up for myself 
and began another afghan, this one made of Handicrafter cotton. 
The pattern calls for 14 motifs each of 3 different colours. My goal is to make all 42 motifs a different colour. I've made 22 so far without repeating a colour. 
As for quilting, I started the year with The Art and Science of Mathematics
followed by finally getting My Beloved's Vineyard quilted.
This was my first queen-sized quilt completed on the longarm. Next was another green quilt, Wintry Woods
Following that, I did a couple of baby quilts: Baby Blues (my first flannelette quilt)
I then did my first signature quilt, Irene's Rubies.
Being frustrated with the performance of my longarm, I put together Neutral Territory to get more practice.
Go Broncos was made for a great nephew who had graduated from the University of Western Michigan. 
Getting back from Ontario, I had to start in on my Stonehenge Block Party project, but when the going got a little rough, I decided to take some less challenging quilting detours. (Is it really less challenging to draft your own blocks from a 2" square line drawing in a book?) I made my grandson the Odd Fellow's Treat Bag for his Hallowe'en treats.
With my niece's birthday coming up, I decided to make her a tote bag as well 
and added a table topper for Christmas.
After enough quilting detours, I finally finished Audacious, my Stonehenge Block Party quilt, and my first king-sized quilt. 
Coming close to year's end, I had a few projects I wanted to complete: Cat's Comfort,
the Country Christmas table runner set, 
My True Love Gave to Me,
and Licorice Allsorts.
I wanted to finish the year with a trio of hot pot holders to go with this trio of dishcloths, 
but I couldn't find the fabric I wanted to use. These will be gifts for neighbours. I have two new neighbours and a third will be a thank you gift for the cheerful Christmas display they set up in their yard. 
I suppose one of my New Year's Resolutions should be to find that fabric.

Monday, 30 December 2019

Licorice Allsorts

Isn't this a cheerful quilt? I rank it amongst my favourites. I purchased the Colourworks Concepts jelly roll from Sew Sisters during their Stuff Your Stocking event a couple of years ago. Then I had to determine what to do with it. I googled to find jelly roll quilt patterns and was disappointed to discover that there really aren't that many options. For layer cakes, there are patterns a-plenty, but for jelly rolls, the selection is limited. And I definitely did not want to do a Jelly Roll Race. I have never particularly liked stripes and I find the Jelly Roll Race boring. 
One of the patterns I did find was Sorbet, and this pattern really appealed to me: much more interesting and challenging than the Jelly Roll Race and not stripes. However, my quilt was definitely not sorbet colours, so I searched for a name for a sweet treat that would suit this quilt. 
The filled circles reminds me of stuffed olives, but that didn't fit what I was looking for. However, it also reminded me of Licorice Allsorts.

In my opinion, licorice allsorts have got to be one of the worst excuses for candy out there. While they are quite fascinating in their varied appearance, they are disgusting to eat. And that's because I really don't like black licorice, and I couldn't get away with just eating the coloured candy from around the licorice. Besides, it all was contaminated with the flavour of licorice. However, with the black and multi-colours in this quilt, I decided this was the most appropriate name. 
And I chose a pantograph named Licorice with which to quilt it. 
It's a fun and fairly east design by Patricia Ritter and Tracey Russell from Urban Elementz. 

Mystery, of course, had to help.
I used some colourful thread from my stash. I don't remember which one I used in the top and which one in the bobbin. I think I used the one on the left in the top. I had purchased it back when I was renting time on a longarm and most of the label was missing. But I was able to determine that it was a Wonderfil thread from the cone and what remained on the label. Searching for the colour code on the Wonderfil website, I found that this is actually a 30 weight rayon, named Mirage. This is probably at least the third quilt I have used this on, and I don't remember having any problems with it, which is great, considering my problems with other variegated threads. The thread on the left is Wonderfil Fabulux in Ocean Breeze.
Here's the back of the quilt. Isn't this just such fun fabric? 
This quilt is for my great nephew, Thompson, but I don't intend to mail it to him until I have quilts made for his sister, Katie, and brother, Declan. I don't want anyone feeling left out. 

Sunday, 29 December 2019

Country Christmas

Catching up on UFOs (UnFinished Objects, that is), I made this set in the spring (March and April, but didn't bind it then). Binding is probably my least favourite part of quilting. And now, Christmas is past and I finally got the binding done today. 
Oh well, I'm ahead of the game for next Christmas. It's actually two table runners and a small centre quilt. The pattern is Rocky Mountain Hideaway from McCall's Quick Quilts, December/January 2019 issue.
I love Christmas colours, Christmas fabrics, Christmas quilts.
And I love this border print fabric with the red barn and the park bench - so peaceful looking. 
I loaded all three quilts on the same batting and backing and just quilted the edge to edge design across all three. I used the Christmas Holly pantograph by Patricia Ritter from Urban Elementz and an Aurilux Christmas variegated thread, which gave me a lot of grief. I'm beginning to suspect that my Amara does not like variegated thread, even though I do. When I quilted My True Love Gave to Me with Glide and Cat's Comfort with Marathon, I had minimal to no problems. They're both solid colour threads. But this quilt set, with variegated Aurilux, Audacious with Fabulux and My Beloved's Vineyard with Affinity, I had multiple problems. Especially with the Affinity, but that was before I knew to put a piece of batting in the thread guide above the cone, so that at least explains part of it. Hmm, I may have to post in one of my quilting groups to ask for input.
Meanwhile, I'm happy to be catching up on some UFOs/WIPs (and some blogging, as well).

Cat's Comfort

I bought this quilt as a kit during the Sew Sisters Stuff Your Stocking event last year. At the time, I didn't have specific plans for it, but the price was right. This year I found out that the sister of my best friend from high school had died of ALS. In lieu of flowers, I decided to give her something of more lasting - and comforting - value. The quilt was actually called "Best Wishes," but I hardly considered that appropriate for a sympathy gift, so instead renamed it Cat's Comfort. She, like me, is a cat lover, but can't have them because of allergies. While you can't tell from the picture above, the teal fabric has cat head silhouettes on it, and the white fabric has line drawings of cats. 
When I purchased this kit, I assumed it was hourglass blocks with a wide black sashing. No! This is what the block was actually supposed to be: cut a large square of the black fabric and smaller squares of the white and teal fabrics and sew them on the diagonal on opposite corners of the black square. Then trim off the excess.
I hate wasting fabric, and that was wasting a LOT of fabric. So, I decided to do the hourglass blocks instead. And it's a good thing I'm good at math because I had to do a lot of calculating - not only the size of the hourglass block, but how wide and how long the sashing needed to be. My quilt ended up a little bigger than the dimensions stated on the kit, but I still had a generous amount of fabric left over, which is good because I also bought a jelly roll in the Meow fabric line. 
Mystery had to try out the quilt while it was on the longarm - you can see his calling card in the above picture.
I quilted it using a Marathon thread, with good success. That was my first time trying Marathon and I'm happy with the price and the performance. The pantograph is Quilting for Pawz - Catz by Patricia Ritter from Urban Elementz. Isn't it awesome? I could never hope to do this freehand with the longarm. I doubt I could even do it freehand with a pencil! That's one of the things I really love about pantographs - being able to quilt something appropriate to the theme of the quilt that I would not be able to do otherwise.
Unfortunately, this quilt took a back seat to Audacious and I didn't get the binding done until mid-December and wasn't able to get it into the mail in a timely fashion. The recipient goes to Mexico every year for the month of January, and I don't want to send it until I know that she's back home. So, I will await mailing it until her return. 

My True Love Gave to Me: 44 Country Quilting Projects

This was a little project that grew. It was supposed to have been the 41" Rose Fever quilt from this book:  It required a 22" panel with an octagon floral motif. I was rather disappointed that it called for a panel, which I didn't have, and didn't give instructions for creating the octagon. But I didn't let that defeat me. As I had been experimenting with kaleidoscope techniques, I decided to use what I'd learned and apply it to an octagon, and purchased some striped fabric. I thought it was kind of odd that the fabric line was called, "My True Love Gave to Me" (Benartex), until I was able to purchase some more fabric from this line and saw the holly prints. Eventually, I also bought the 12 Days of Christmas panel. It most definitely is not traditional Christmas colours. 
I created my octagon using 8 - 45° triangles. VoilĂ !
I was impressed, even if I do say so myself. One of my facebook friends was so impressed, he offered to buy it. However, it was only just begun.  
It looks like tiles on a cathedral floor. 
This is as far as the instructions in the book took me, aside from quilting and binding. And, as mentioned, it was supposed to be 41". However, before adding the last border, my top was only 35", including seam allowance. The border strips were only 2½" wide. That would make only a 38½" square quilt. And the last 2 border strips, according to the instructions, were supposed to be 39½"! That yields a 39" quilt, not a 41". I have no idea where the extra 2 inches went. And I had actually planned on trimming it down, so that I'd have a 40" finished size. Instead I had to add extra to the border. Hmm, I have not been finding the measurements in this book to be very accurate.
Meanwhile, I used the "gleanings" from the first octagon (6 triangles from between the first triangles, but going in the opposite direction), cut a couple more triangles to match and produced another octagon. 
Not really sure what I was going to do with it, but I figured I had enough fabric to at least make a smaller quilt. Back to the first quilt, I decided to separate the panel into the individual squares, add some borders to them to make them 8" square and set them up around the centre, alternating with squares of fabric. However, I decided that I wanted to continue the tile look of the quilt so, instead of just sqares of fabric for the alternate blocks, I scavenged the stripe print and made nearly identical triangles to put together into "tile" blocks. I got this far
when I realized that I didn't have enough of the right fabric for the final border. The fabrics that I did have enough of didn't look right. So, I decided to see if I could find some online to order. Yes!!! A dealer on Etsy had some on clearance. I had been planning on using a fabric from a different line for the backing, but since I was ordering anyway, I was going to order backing fabric as well. 
But before placing my order, I wanted to get as far as I could with the other octagon to see if I should order extra fabric for it as well. Unfortunately, other projects took precedence and these two projects languished in the UFO pile for at least a couple of years, and I didn't get around to ordering the extra fabric. I did however, find a fabric that I thought would be nearly ideal for the backing.
Nearly ideal, as in it is the 12 Days of Christmas and it is in the same colour family. Not so ideal is the fact that this fabric doesn't have the elegance as the that in the quilt top. However, it's just the backing, and so I decided I at least wanted to finish the first one with what fabric I had available. And while I don't consider the lattice fabric the best choice for the final border, it still looks good. It's twin will have to wait until I know how I'm going to finish it and whether or not I will be able to find any coordinating fabric, or just end up with a wallhanging.
In quilting this quilt, I had originally planned on using the Christmas Holly pantograph, but decided I wanted something with a little more elegance. So I picked Central Park West by Patricia Ritter from Urban Elementz. This is definitely not a beginner pantograph - lots of points and tips and fairly dense quilting - you have to really pay attention to the pantograph in order to avoid skipping to a different line where the lines run close together. 
Another UFO finished! And I do hope for this to be the beginning of a series of quilts based on the 12 Days of Christmas: The 12 Quilts of Christmas. Except that there will likely be more than 12: one for each day in the song, plus one or more, like this one, around the general theme of the song.