Saturday 31 December 2016

2016 Crafting Year in Review

Happy New Year, everyone!
It's time to review what I've accomplished in my crafting world over the last year. While there are still plenty of UFOs and WIPs to deal with, I'm pleased with the fact that I'm getting some of them done. I was able to get Lil's Lighthouse afghan finished.
Yay! What a good feeling it is to no longer have that project languishing in my stash.
The Sweet Dreams quilt was completed and gifted to my great nephew, Patrick.
I fit in some mini quilts, Summer Star above.
The Lion in My Heart.
And Kaleidoscoping Butterflies.
Stars Over Africa was made for a quilt challenge, in which I won 2nd place.
I made Damian's Star as a floor afghan for my grandson because he loved sitting or lying on my projects any time I laid them on the floor (just like my cats).
I made this paper-pieced fedora as part of reviewing a book. Now I have no idea what to do with it.
Another "finally!" I finished Unbroken and gifted it to a lady who has endured a lot with her health concerns.
Fractured Pinwheels was also completed for a book review. It was gifted to my newest great nephew, Kenson.
The Evening Snowfall Quilt is now a wallhanging in my sewing room.
I made this "Twister" quilt top using sewing-themed fabric, which will also become a wallhanging in my sewing room. It's still a WIP.
Two crocheted hats made as part of a book review and for fair entries.
Another fair entry: a paper-pieced Christmas Star.
The first socks I have ever made (loom-knitted) come in handy for keeping my ankles warm.
Made a loom-knitted shawl for my niece Julie's birthday. Both the socks and the shawl were done for book reviews.
The Virus shawl and the Loom-Knitted shawl were both completed while I was in Ontario.
I did this scrappy skyline of New York City. It will become part of a commemorative quilt for the 15th anniversary of 9/11. Still a WIP.
My oriental quilt was put on hold because of other projects I needed to finish.
Queen Guinevere's Tiles, which I do not like, but fortunately my manager did. I gave it to her because she lost her husband this year. It's actually a quillow
plus I made a decorative pillow out of the orphan block I had left over.
I finally got the Bluenose II quilt top done, but I have yet to get a chance to get it quilted.
Here is the completed quilt top on my bed.
Also managed to fit in making some dishcloths: sunshine,
maple leaf,
and a loom-knitted dishcloth.
I started working on my great nephew Jordon's quilt,
but then got sidetracked making a kaleidoscope hexie. I haven't decided what I'm going to do with this one yet.
Finished the purple Log Cabin Christmas Tree Skirt in time to use it under the tree this Christmas.
Then made this biscuit Christmas tree skirt for one of my smaller white trees.
It also needed some decorations.
And more.
I still have more fabric to make more decorations, but that can wait as I've already taken the Christmas trees down.
I needed a Christmas gift for a friend of my daughter's, so was able to finish this Bavarian crochet scarf and then made the matching hat.
And finally, I replaced the cracked plastic Thomas on the front of my grandson's hoodie with a fabric applique Thomas.
I didn't include some of my WIPs, like my sister Janet's afghan or Damian's train cardigan. Look for that one fairly soon into the new year. It's getting pretty close to finished.

Thursday 29 December 2016

Replacing Thomas

I was in a thrift store one day and happened to find a size 4 fleece hoodie with Thomas the Tank Engine on the front. It was in really good shape - no stains, rips or other obvious wear and tear, so I picked it up for my grandson. I was, however, a little concerned that Thomas was made out of plastic and wondered how well he would wear in the laundry. After all, this is a little boy's hoodie and it was likely to get regular washing, and not on the delicate cycle. Who knew - maybe they'd made significant improvements to the composition of plastic and it wouldn't markedly deteriorate with repeated washings? I had no way of telling how frequently it had been washed prior to my purchasing it.
Unfortunately, after only 2 or 3 washings, Thomas started to crack up. And I wasn't about to let my grandson wear something now so tacky-looking. The shirt itself was still in great shape. It was Thomas that was the problem. So I determined to see what I could do to remedy the situation.
 I labouriously removed Thomas from the shirt. Sorry about the glare in the picture which prevents you from seeing how cracked/torn he is. It's his face at this point, but I'm sure it wouldn't be too many more washings before it was all a mess.
I determined to attempt to replace plastic Thomas with an applique Thomas. Here's the result.
By the time I got to those dark grey parts on the lower part of Thomas, I was tired of trying to applique all of the small details and used a permanent marker instead. Hopefully, it won't fade too much in the wash. The most important details are applique and straight stitching, so it should last my grandson for awhile. At least as long as the hoodie will still fit him. I see I got the applique on a little bit crooked, but I'm sure Damian won't care.

Sunday 25 December 2016

46 Country Quilting Projects

The Book:
The Projects: Mini Patchwork Ornaments - Amish Square & Bow Tie
Pages: 122-129
I got dreadfully sick last Wednesday and left work early and have been sick since. According to a principle of outbreak management in seniors' facilities, the sick should not leave their rooms until 48 hours after their last symptom. Since I am not yet symptom free, although feeling a little better, I chose to stay home alone for Christmas, and not share the "joy" of my illness. As my energy is still lacking, aside from laundry, I haven't done much of anything, just a little crafting. I have been working on Damian's Choo-Choo Train cardigan, but I find knitting is the craft that is hardest on my hands. As my hands were aching, even with my crafting gloves on, I decided to get some more patchwork ornaments done.

The one in the centre is the Amish Square, and the other two are Bow Tie. I reversed the direction of the Bow Tie in the second one and sort of wish I'd done both of them like this as it came out looking kind of like a wreath. Neither of them is the same layout as in the book. As a matter of fact, the Amish Square is the only ornament completed like it is in the book. However, I'm still pleased with them all.
I was going to do a second Amish Square, only reversing the colours, but opted not to.
Four inch ornaments really are too big for a 4' tree, so I will confine my ornament construction to smaller ornaments from now on.
I think the above is my favourite of all the ornaments I've made so far.
I did "cheat" a little bit on the Bow Tie ornaments. I made four 4-patches, stitched them together and then appliqued the centres of the bow ties. There was really no way I wanted to mess with a Y-seam on a 2" square (the ornament is actually made up of 4 - 2" Bow Tie blocks). Of course, if it had been a more traditional Bow Tie and not used a different fabric for the bow tie centre, it would have been much simpler. I'm beginning to suspect there might be a little bit of a sadistic streak in the author of this book. LOL!
Sorry, the pictures on the tree didn't turn out very well. I suppose I could try and figure out better settings on the camera, but it's not my camera and I don't have the manual. Besides my brain is still too tired to try and figure it out. 
Merry Christmas, everyone!

Friday 23 December 2016

Bavarian Stripes Scarf and Wintry Cloche

My family's plans for Christmas are for us to get together at my ex-husband's place, since my daughter and grandson are currently living there. Then recently, Sophia said that she invited a friend, Darcy, that didn't have a place to go. I'm fine with that as we always have more food than any of us can eat and I can't see anyone not having a place to go for Christmas dinner. I also can't see anyone attending our gathering not having at least one Christmas present as well. So I said to my daughter that maybe I could make her a hot pot holder and a dishcloth, something that I could whip up relatively quickly and have it done in time for Christmas. No, Sophia said, she didn't think Darcy was much into kitchen stuff - a scarf and mitts would be better. I didn't think I'd try the mittens as they're a little more involved and I didn't know if I could get them done on time. Maybe a scarf and hat. Then I remembered the Bavarian crochet scarf that was a UFO somewhere in my stash.
Some time ago, I had wanted to learn Bavarian crochet, so I enrolled in Annie's Learn to Bavarian Crochet online course. I had made the headband, unfortunately out of yarn that didn't have the stretch required so it wasn't a very good headband. Then I started the scarf. The yarn I was using was Luv Baby yarn, which I found in Walmart. It's a very soft yarn, with a little bit of lustre, but there's no weight category on the label, nor how many metres/yards there are in the skein, only that the skein was 120 g. I "guestimated" that this was a 3. The selection for 3 weight in town is quite limited, so this was one of my few options. Unfortunately, the strands of the yarn separate quite easily, and since it has a bit of a nap, it's challenging to rip out. I was finding working with this yarn rather frustrating. That's why it was languishing as a UFO. However, it was more than half-way finished, so I decided this was the project. Not only would I have a gift for Darcy, but I would be finishing a UFO as well. And there was enough yarn to do a hat, too.
The next pattern in the course was a cloche and neck warmer. As I wanted the hat to be Bavarian crochet as well, I decided to use this pattern, even though it called for a 4-weight yarn. Googling, I found that 2 strands of 3-weight is approximately equal to 1 strand of 4-weight. I found this yarn on Ravelry, which stated that a skein has 350 metres of yarn. I'm not sure how they found that out, unless there's a newer label that states this. Or someone unravelled a whole ball and measured it. 😊 Using my formula for comparing weight of yarn in metres per gram, if I used two strands, I would still have 350 metres, but 240 g. That's 1.458 m/g. Red Heart Super Saver is 1.68 m/g. That means that two strands of Luv Baby yarn is heavier than one strand of RHSS. To allow for this, especially since I tend to crochet on the loose side, I decided to use a smaller hook than the 6.0 mm called for in the pattern. Since I was already using the 3.75 mm for the scarf, I decided to try that for the hat. It was definitely too small. Very much too small. Lots of fun trying to rip it out, too, though I did find it easier working with two strands of this yarn than just one. I decided to make the leap up to the 6.0 mm hook and I still found it too small. Rather than rip it out again, I decided to continue to enlarge the circle. In the pattern, once you reach 60 stitches, then you stop increasing and just continue in straight crochet for another 8 rounds or so, totally 28 rounds. I actually increased it to 84, then was worried that that was too big, so decreased it to 72 stitches. I think I should have left it at 84 as the 72 is pretty tight. Hopefully, Darcy's head isn't as big as mine. Had to make some adjustments to the band as well to ensure the stitch number came out even for the pattern. Not sure why my crocheting was so tight for this project
Meanwhile, I have developed a raging cold, so left work early on Wednesday, December 21, and haven't been back since. There's always lots to be done at home, but, unfortunately, I barely have the energy to crochet. I actually took a shower this morning, but that pretty much depleted my energy supply for the day. However, I have been able to finish the hat and scarf for Darcy.
Because of the colours, it does look like a set for a baby, but it is definitely an adult size.
I may be too sick to make it to Christmas dinner at the ex's, but my daughter is stopping off to pick up some stuff which I have hung in a bag on the outside door knob. That way she doesn't have to come in and be exposed to my germs. I wrapped this hat and scarf and put it in the bag as well, so that Darcy can have it whether I make it to Christmas dinner or not.
And in the making of this hat and scarf, I used some of my new toys.
The measuring tape and Sqissors came from the Stuff Your Stocking event at Sew Sisters. The Dritz Crafters Comfort Gloves, I bought on Amazon.

Because they are a compression glove, I found the seams pressing into my flesh, so I now wear them inside out. I'm happy with this purchase as it helps alleviate some of the ache I get when crafting.
And I'm also happy to have finished another UFO.

Thursday 15 December 2016

48 Country Quilting Projects

The Book:
The Project: Mini Patchwork Ornaments - Monkey Wrench, p. 122
The Rating: Intermediate
For my next project from this book, since I still need to decorate my 4' white tree, I decided to make some patchwork ornaments. There are 3 different ornaments and I chose to start with the one that I figured would be the most difficult: the monkey wrench. I may be wrong about that however, as I have discovered that there are Y-seams in the bow tie block. <sigh> Maybe I can figure out a way around that.
There are templates for these ornaments. I'm not a big fan of templates: trace, cut, trace, cut - a lot of duplicate work. I'd rather just measure and cut. So I attempted to do just that. Ugh, instead I made a mess. And somehow they seemed to be turning out bigger than they were supposed to. I think maybe I was trying to overcompensate for the tiny size of the pieces (centre squares = 1/4" finished size) and made too scant a seam allowance. And probably lots of other errors. And so I finished them up without the final triangles. And I also realized that I hadn't lined up the dark and light fabrics correctly to actually see the pattern. First of all, for some of the dark centre squares, I cut a section of the fabric that was actually lighter, so it didn't show a good contrast between the light and the dark. But then I was so focused on actually making this block work that I wasn't paying attention to where the dark and light needed to be and they really don't look like a monkey wrench at all. And I wasn't going to start trying to rip out stitches on those tiny little pieces of fabric.
So I finished them up, using yarn for the hanging loops since I had neglected to buy ribbon.
They're both different, but neither is a monkey wrench. Maybe I just invented a couple of new blocks.
I decided to try once more, only this time using templates. One thing I did change, however. The template patterns in the book had the corners cut off of the triangles. I didn't like that. Even though the corners would later be removed, I find it helps to position the pieces properly by leaving them on. So I did, and I used a different fabric for the dark. My third attempt turned out much better, and I was doing quite well getting the colours in the correct places. Until the final triangles. I think my brain went on a mini vacation and somehow I misplaced the last triangles. And I didn't notice it until I had finished the ornament. And I wasn't about to rip it all apart again. But my perfectionist nature is not happy. LOL!
And in the mess that is my sewing room, I managed to find some blue ribbon to use as a hanging loop. This one is substantially bigger than the other two, and really a little too big for the size of the tree. But, in spite of my mistakes, I'm pretty happy with my first attempt at patchwork tree ornaments and the challenge of working with such small pieces.

Tuesday 13 December 2016

49 Country Quilting Projects

As I mentioned in my previous post, 50 Country Quilting Projects, I hope to complete every project in this book.  On Sunday, December 11th, I completed the first one. It was the Patchwork & Lace Christmas Tree Skirt, found on page 130, small project, easy rating.
I have 3 white Christmas trees in my home. One is full-sized, decorated in purple, for which I made the purple quilted Christmas tree skirt as described in Getting Ready for Christmas. I also have two 4' white trees. The first is a fibre-optic tree, which I decorated in red. Because it is fibre optic, it has a large base for the workings of the fibre optics, so not something requiring a tree skirt. Unless I used it like a doily, under the base. I may do that some day. The other is a regular, pre-lit tree that I hope to decorate in blue. Unfortunately, blue must not be a popular Christmas colour this year as I was unable to find any blue decorations appropriate for a smaller tree and not costing a small fortune or in a container with decorations of other colours that I don't want. A good opportunity to make my own decorations since I both crochet and quilt. I decided to start with a tree skirt and try out this pattern. However, it makes a 40" tree skirt, much too big, in my opinion, for a 4' tree. And I don't need another full-sized tree skirt since I am crocheting one for my green tree. So I scaled it down and eliminated the last row of triangles.
This quilt is what's called a biscuit quilt. You cut a piece of muslin (in this case a 6" 60-degree triangle) and then cut a bigger piece of the fabric you're using (a 7" triangle). You sew the 7" triangle to the 6" triangle on two sides, adding a pleat on each side to take in the extra length. You then stuff it lightly with polyester stuffing and stitch the third side closed, once again incorporating the pleat. Do this for the required number of "biscuits" and then start stitching them together.

This larger triangle is made up of 4 triangle biscuits. I made up 6 of these larger triangles and stitched them together, added eyelet lace, a ruffle and backing, layered it right sides together, and stitched the edges, leaving an opening for turning. I then turned it right side out and hand stitched the opening.
It's about 2' across, just about the perfect size for a 4' tree. It's a little bit funky for a Christmas trees skirt. But it's growing on me.
Now I need to make some decorations. And for that, of course, I needed some new fabric.
And for those of you who think I may be cheating on my challenge to complete every project in this book by not making this tree skirt the full size, I will definitely more than make up for that with upcoming projects. There are only 3 patchwork ornaments in this book and I'm hoping to make 2 of each of those, plus others as my goal is to make 24 total patchwork ornaments.
The excitement today was that I got a parcel in the mail. I have one of those community mail boxes that has special boxes for the parcels. I opened the parcel box and the parcel just about filled the box. It took me about 5 minutes to get it out. I had to jiggle it to get it out of the opening. I couldn't reach in behind the parcel to give it a shove from behind as my arm wouldn't fit over the parcel, especially not with my bulky winter coat on. I tried hooking the parcel with my key, but it barely budged the parcel. I tried taking my glove off and sliding my finger under the edge of the box top, but still barely moved the parcel. I finally tried pulling off some of the packing tape and giving it a tug, but that just tilted the parcel up from the back without pulling it through the opening. By this time my ungloved hand was getting quite cold as the wind chill factor was about -22C. So I put the glove back on my left hand, ungloved the right and peeled off some of the packing tape that ran to the bottom of the box. I then grabbed both pieces of tape and - SUCCESS - was finally able to get the parcel out of the mailbox. And it was certainly worth it. It was my order from the Stuff Your Stocking event at Sew Sisters. What an awesome parcel!

What a lot of goodies I got, including a surprise package with $60 worth of quilting supplies that I only paid $15 for.
I got some terrific deals! I am definitely planning on taking part in this event again next year.