Thursday 31 December 2020

My 2020 Crafting Year in Review

Unlike many in this pandemic year, who had to work from home, or not work at all, as a Registered Nurse,  I continued to work throughout the year. So, I didn't have extra time to craft, but I did continue to pursue my hobbies as a way to keep my sanity in this crazy time. 

My first projects for the year were some Christmas-themed hot potholders

Next, I completed a couple of UFOs (unfinished objects), the About Town Ruana for my daughter, 
and this mystery afghan, which I picked up partly finished at a thrift store. 
Following this, I made Ingrid's Tulips for a friend who was going through cancer treatment. 
Next, I was able to take a couple of Helen Godden classes before the pandemic got into full swing and everything was shut down: the Couching class, 
and Flying Into Colours, where I painted and quilted. 
After the pandemic was into full swing, I started making masks for family, plus sold a few (I won't bore you by sharing pictures of all of them). 
I made a couple of panel quilts, Country Christmas, for my home, 
and Transform Me, for my nephew Peter. 
This is the first quilt in which I attempted trapunto - the word Transformers on the panel.
Then I needed to get some baby quilts made for some friends who had been my staff members at Extendicare. Exploring Space
Grand Adventures
and Chevron, 
plus A-Maze-Ing for one of my public health nurse co-workers. 
Following this, I was asked by a friend and former co-worker to make a healing quilt to wrap around grieving people. I call it Healing Love. She asked me to make it because she wanted someone that she knew would pray over it. 
This is my first quilt "for hire" and it's my own design. I haven't posted about it before as I intend to write up and publish the pattern for sale. If you're interested in the pattern, email me and I will let you know when I have the it available.
I moved onto a couple of UFOs that had been sitting around too long: a Christmas placemat set for my niece, Tara, 
and the Dinosaur Days quilt for my grandson. 
Somehow, I managed to fit in a few dishcloths. 
I decided to tackle one of my Craftsy courses and completed Practice Makes Perfect
Needing something a little less challenging, but still awesome looking, I made Fall Frolic for my nephew Andrew and his wife, Amanda.
I added a couple of Christmas projects and made up this Advent calendar panel for my daughter and grandson, 
and finally got the binding on the Christmas Medallion quilt
In a moment of insanity, I decided to do #modastitchpink for my niece Julie as a combination 50th birthday/Christmas gift. 
I actually managed to get it done by Christmas. 
Finally, on New Year's Eve, I finished Mistletoe and Lace
That's it, as far as I can recall, for finished projects. Of course, the Vintage Maple Leaf Quilt is still on the longarm, plus I have a few other quilt tops, and my standard list of WIPs and UFOs.
Wishing everyone a Happy New Year!

Mistletoe and Lace


This afghan actually started out as a loom-knitted project after I purchased the afghan loom and wanted to try it out. I soon discovered, however, that not only can I knit faster with needles than I can on a loom, but the pegs were so closer together that wrapping the yarn around them was tedious and frustrating. So, it sat around for awhile until I finally decided to remove what little I had accomplished, unravel it, and start fresh with a different project. 
As you may be aware, my goal is to make at least one project from every craft book I own. If only I would quit buying more books at thrift stores, I might actually be able to accomplish this goal. Nevertheless, I selected from my library the Mary Maxim book Timeless Treasures, and chose a pattern that suited the amount of yarn I had on hand, Ribbons and Lace. Or so I thought. Apparently, I tend to crochet larger than guage (I never do a sample swatch to check my guage, especially not with afghans) and ended up having to buy extra yarn. Even though I didn't add the fringe included in the pattern. (I'm not a fan of fringe on afghans. What is it good for? Besides getting tangled up when you wash the afghan). So, what was supposed to be a 48" x 56" afghan ended up 58" x 67". I got to the point where I had only 3 rows left, and only had a short string of yarn remaining. So one more skein of yarn was purchased, and the afghan was finished today. 

I love variegated yarn, but find that it makes the actual pattern in the design indistinct. I found the same thing with the Lace Enchantment afghan. And this one actually called for a contrast yarn, which I think would have enhanced it, but I'm not redoing it now. The pattern also called for restarting each row at the same end and working into the back loop. I found that a ridiculous idea, especially restarting each row - imagine all of the ends to work in! Initially, I did start working in the back loop, and then into the front loop on the following row for the part of the pattern that called for that, but I didn't really feel it made that great a difference in the look of it, so just started crocheting normally for all rows. 

Another WIP finished, which is likely my final finish for 2020, unless I actually get some potholders made...

Stitch Pink


Stitch Pink was finished in time for Christmas! Yay! I'm so happy to have it finished and gifted. And I don't dislike it as much as I thought I might. Actually, I rather like it, though I still think it would have looked better with sashing. And in spite of my funky fabric choices, I think it actually looks pretty good. Anyway, my niece loves it, and that's what's important. 

Originally, I had hoped to use the Accessories pantograph to quilt it. However, at 16.25", I discovered that it was just too wide for my Amara's throat space to manage. Unfortunately, I purchased this pantograph before I had sufficient experience to know that would not work in a 20" throat. If I had, I would have just had it customized to fit my throat space, like I did with Deb's Fireworks. It really is an awesome pantograph and I'm disappointed that I paid good money for something I will not be able to use. I was really hoping I could squeeze it in. Nevertheless, I then had to chose an alternate pantograph and went with Tea Rose, which I was very happy with. 

If you happen to be looking for a pantograph that works up quite quickly, with a little more substance than Bumpity, I highly recommend this one. 

Meanwhile, the Vintage Maple Leaf Quilt top is also finished and loaded on the longarm. 

I will save reporting on my adventures with that quilt for another post. Till then, I hope you all had a Merry Christmas. 

Sunday 13 December 2020

Christmas Medallion Quilt

Needing a break from more challenging quilts, I actually made this quilt top earlier in the year. It's from this book:

 It's one of the many books that I've picked up at thrift stores, where I love finding bargains for my crafting library. And as the title implies, the quilt was quite simple, and just the break I needed from more challenging projects. And, for being so simple, it's attracted a lot of compliments from my appreciative audience.
I had a collection of Christmas fat quarters, and it was from that collection that I procured my fabrics. I love this Christmas baking one that I used in the centre.
Actually, I think they are all pretty fabrics in this quilt. 
I was debating on what pantograph I was going to use for the quilting. I tossed around various ideas, and one of my co-workers told me that she thought I should use snowflakes. So that's what I did - choosing Deb's Snowflakes Meander. I've said before, and I still think it's true, that the only people to whom the quilting design really matters is the quilter. Only if I point it out, or if the recipient is a fellow quilter, will the quilting even be noticed. 
Well, this quilt then languished on a shelf for months: first, because I didn't have fabric for binding, and then, once I purchased the binding fabric, I was busy with other projects. And then I misplaced the fabric... So, I finally found the fabric and made the time to get the project finished. And I have now draped it over the back of my sofa.
It looks pretty, but I don't think it does the quilt justice because you can see only about a third of the it. If I had somewhere to store quilts and afghans, I would take the non-Christmas ones down off the quilt ladder and put up the Christmas ones... I need to declutter and create more space. 
If you've been following my blog or my Instagram, you're aware that I've been doing the #modastitchpink2020. And 2020 will likely be the only year I will do that, especially so close to Christmas. Nevertheless, I now have five rows done. 
These are the latest two rows, plus block 26.
One of my pet peeves about sampler quilts is that they're not very efficient for either cutting or use of fabric. Because you only do one block at a time, you cut one size of this fabric, another size piece of that fabric, etc, leaving a rather jagged edge on the fabric to work with. So, after completing row 4, I decided to pre-cut for the remaining blocks. I designed a spreadsheet in Excel, with the blocks across the top and the fabrics along the side, and entered what sizes I needed of each fabric for each block. It made for much more efficient cutting, and I have determined that if I should ever design a block of the month (BOM), quilt along (QAL) or sampler quilt, that is what I will do: give the cutting for the entire project up front. 
I kept my projects organized using the pantograph shelf on my longarm. 
Here you can see the maple leaves for the maple leaf applique quilt and the different piles of fabric for each block of stitch pink. I didn't pre-cut for blocks 24 and 26 because these were the remaining two blocks that had the extra strips of background fabric that I wanted to eliminate. And since I would have to modify those blocks, I decided to just cut the pieces as I calculated the dimensions I needed. 
This is block 24, which is probably my favourite block in this quilt.
And this is block 26. I completed both of these blocks before going back to continue in numerical order. 
I have been alternating completing rows of Stitch Pink with rows of the maple leaf applique quilt, and now have 3 rows of that one done. 
I really have a lot of trepidation about quilting this one, as I plan on using rulers. That's going to be quite labour intensive. The free motion part will be outlining the leaves and veins on the leaves. I was gifted a bunch of crochet cotton, which I might never use for crochet or knitting. But I am considering using it for couching when I outline the leaves and veins. 
I'd like to practice it, but I don't really have time. I want both the Stitch Pink and the Maple Leaf quilt finished for Christmas, plus I'm hoping to finally get the Northcott Connector Playmats stitched up for my grandson. I'm already cutting it pretty close. 
Enough "chatting" for now. Time to get back to working on these quilts. 

Sunday 8 November 2020

Quilting Projects with Christmas Deadlines

As I pointed out in My Quilting Journey, I have been interested in quilting for a long time. And that interest was encouraged by quilt patterns posted in women's magazines. There were the Puff Quilt and the Meow-y Christmas Quilt that I mentioned in that post. And then there was this one. 

I glued this picture to one side of a sheet of typing paper and the instructions on the other side. Held up to the light, I can see through to see that it was from a Family Circle magazine from 1977. And I've kept that pattern through marriage, divorce, childrearing, short and long distance moves and other life events. A few years ago, I bought the fabric to finally make it. But too many other projects got in the way.

Maybe a month or so ago, my daughter asked me to make her a queen-sized quilt with a wool batting. She asked for a queen because she didn't realize that I make my bed-sized quilts with a generous overhang. So, she'll be happy with a double, as that's her bed size. She said that she's always cold, so I offered to do a double batting. This will be a first for me, both in using wool and in using two batts. 

Then I had to determine a pattern. I shared several ideas with her and we finally settled on this one. She doesn't want the colours too bright or loud so that it can fit in any decor. And so she was happy with the fabric I had already purchased. 

I don't know if fusible web even existed when this pattern was published, and the instructions were for needle turn appliqué, but there was no way I was doing that. So Heat N Bond Lite was put to use. 

I haven't traced all 80 maple leaves yet and I'm getting close to the end of the part roll of Heat N Bond that I had. I will likely have to buy another one. Unless I find the other part roll I have somewhere in my stash. 
The first block is fused. I was able to find 3 colours in my stash of Aurifil that will work with some of these fabrics, but I had to order 3 more to get some to match the rest of the fabric. 
The background is a white-on-white print. 
I also need to order the wool batting. I'm on the fence as to whether I will order a full roll or just what I need. It's not like I plan on using wool batting a lot. I primarily use 80/20. But by the metre, it's $26, and I probably need about 3 metres, so $78, plus shipping. The best price I can find for a whole roll is $350 plus $79.80 shipping for a total of $429.80, which works out to $18.77 per metre. A substantial savings, but can I really fit a whole roll into my budget? Decisions, decisions...
Another decision I made was to redo Block 3 of Moda Stitch Pink to make it a 12" block without the extra strips of background fabric, and I'm much happier with the result. This is the old block. 
And this is the new one.
And I did the same with block 11, a 9-patch. 
And block 15, which is a 7-patch (98 pieces of fabric in this block). 
In addition, I made block 14 using HSTs for the border instead of fiddling with bias edges on the triangles. 
I actually tried it with the triangles, but my bias edges stretched and I ended up with a mess. That's why I resorted to the HST units.
So, I'm done half of the blocks now. 
If I had to do this quilt over again, I wouldn't. I enjoy learning new blocks, but 30 of them in one quilt is rather excessive, in my opinion. With a different block each time, you can't use any "assembly line" techniques like you can when you're making multiples of the same block. You also waste fabric because you're chopping out a bit this size and then a bit that size, not whole strips of the same width. I suppose if I was using scraps instead of yardage, it would be more economical. So, I'm finding it's getting rather tedious, especially when I keep modifying blocks. Which is another thing: with the vast array of blocks available, why would the designer choose some blocks that don't easily fit a 12" size? Also, I don't really like the look of the blocks all smooshed together. I think the layout would be much more attractive with some sashing between the blocks, giving more definition to the individual blocks. Being all different blocks, they don't flow together, so I feel that they should be separated. 
Because I was getting tired of this one, I decided to start the Maple Leaf quilt. It has twenty blocks total and I've got 15 blocks remaining in the Stitch Pink quilt. So, I figure I will alternate: one block of the Maple Leaf quilt and then one block of the Stitch Pink quilt. And hopefully, have them both finished by Christmas. 

Sunday 25 October 2020

Fall Frolic

Fall Frolic is done. Now I just have to pack it up with Licorice Allsorts and send it on its way. Licorice Allsorts is for the oldest son of the nephew for whom I made Fall Frolic. I was hoping to make the quilts for his oldest daughter and youngest son and send them along as well, so that no one felt left out, but I must get the Stitch Pink quilt done for my niece. Plus my daughter has requested a bed-sized quilt, and I'd like to give her that for Christmas. And I don't want to have to store my nephew's and great nephew's quilts until I get the others made. Plus I've got more masks to make... (I'm sick of masks).

I used the pantograph Fall Flurry by Bethanne Nemesh from Urban Elementz

and Wonderfil Fabulux thread in Majestic Sunrise for the quilting. 
You can read my previous post for more info on this quilt. 

Meanwhile, i finished the quilt top for Practice Makes Perfect 3. 

I would have rather done the border in one of the other colours rather than grey, but I've pretty much used up any large pieces of the original 5 colours used in Practice Makes Perfect. That's why I ended having to alternate the green and blue triangles in the corners of this one. One thing I noticed about this solid fabric - it really wrinkles easily. It's not like most of the print fabric that I use. So, I almost hate to take it down off the design wall until I'm ready to quilt it because it will require a very thorough pressing - again - before quilting. But, as I said, I've got those other projects that need to be done. So, this one, along with Practice Makes Perfect 2, will have to find a home on a shelf until I can get to it. 
Back to Stitch Pink, I have finished block 3, Monkeying Around. 
Frankly, I find this block embarrassing. It looks like I didn't cut the pieces big enough and then was too lazy to redo the block and just added extra strips of background fabric on the bottom and one side to make it big enough. But that's not what I did. This is actually the pattern. Perhaps if the extra strips had been print fabric instead of background, it might have looked more like a design choice rather than an afterthought. I get it - this is a 5-patch block, which can be very challenging to make into a 12" block. Templates were what was needed, and if I had to do it over again, I would have made my own templates so that the block would have finished at 12" without the extra strips. But I really don't feel like making it over again. I might consider it. I'll see how quickly I get the rest of the blocks done and how much fabric is left. 
I have to say, though, that this block kind of makes me feel the same way as these hot pot holders. 
From the top, they don't look bad, but my sewing machine wasn't liking this quilting and I ended up with thread loops and nests on the back. 
I'm not sure what was going on and I didn't have time to try to fix it, so I will be keeping these potholders. I intended to give one of them, together with a crocheted dishcloth, to someone who was leaving our office for a job elsewhere, but there was no way I was gifting something with that kind of mess. I would be ashamed. So, the individual got two dishcloths instead. 
Block 4, Flower Power, was next. 
I'm still puzzled as to why the instructions call for making HSTs by cutting individual triangles instead of putting two squares together as much as possible. Regardless, I'm doing them how I want to do them. 
I was hoping to get another block done today, and I still might, but I had a couple of lengthy phone calls and I still have to do laundry. So, quilting will pause for now.